Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Australian giants lived alongside man for a time

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Giant marsupials, reptiles and flightless birds that once roamed Australia became extinct about 40,000 years ago, later than had been thought and some 5,000 years after humans arrived, a new study suggests.

Controversy has long surrounded when such creatures became extinct in Australia. New equipment that can date teeth and bones has solved the puzzle, Australian researchers said in the latest issue of the journal Science.

"For a long time, we couldn't measure bone and teeth, or how old they (animals) were when they died, that is, when they went extinct," paleontologist Barry Brook at the University of Adelaide in southern Australia told Reuters by telephone.

One of the new techniques used in the latest research was uranium thorium dating, which can gauge when uranium was taken up into the animal's teeth when it was still alive.

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(Image credit: downunderupdate.com)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The battle over Hawaii's history

Amateur historian Rick Rogers just knows Europeans visited the islands two centuries before Captain Cook landed in 1778. Trying to prove it and convince professionals, that's another story.

Finding evidence of a shipwreck beneath the ocean would finally prove a theory that Rogers, an amateur historian, has been promoting for decades. He thinks a handful of Spanish and Dutch ships visited Hawaii in the centuries before Captain Cook landed there in 1778. Some Europeans came ashore after shipwrecks, like the characters in "The Swiss Family Robinson," he claims, and eventually integrated into the local society. That early European influence in the 16th and 17th centuries forever changed Hawaiian culture, Rogers says.

"It's cool -- you read 'Swiss Family Robinson' and pirate stories, and here it really did happen," said Rogers, a retired commercial airline pilot. "But nobody else is really paying attention to it."

Rogers is following in the footsteps of others with no formal training who have tried to convince scholars that they've stumbled across great historical discoveries, correct or not. They include German businessman Heinrich Schliemann, who boasted he'd found archaeological proof that Troy actually existed, and adventurer Gene Savoy, who said he'd found dozens of Inca settlements in Peru while on the hunt for El Dorado, the fabled city of gold.

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Monday, January 18, 2010

AMC developing White House scandal miniseries

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - AMC is developing a miniseries set during the 1920s presidency of Warren Harding.

"Black Gold: The Teapot Dome Scandal," adapted from a nonfiction book by Laton McCartney, depicts the orchestration of Harding's election to the White House by big oil companies.

"'Teapot Dome' is quite possibly the most outrageous political scandal in American history," said Joel Stillerman, AMC's senior vp of original programing. "It is bawdy and substantive at the same time, and reminds us that nefarious connection between the oil industry and our government is not a new phenomenon."

Reference Article: Yahoo! News

(Image credit: twitter.com)

Conservatives in, Ted Kennedy out of U.S. history standards

State Board of Education members Friday narrowly approved a change in proposed U.S. history standards that calls on students to be taught about leading conservative groups from the 1980s and 1990s - with no similar requirement for liberal groups. Pushed by board member Don McLeroy, R-College Station, the provision says students should learn about "key organizations and individuals of the conservative resurgence of the 1980s and 1990s" including Eagle Forum founder Phyllis Schlafly.

The amendment was approved on a 7-6 vote, with the social conservative bloc on the board providing all but one of the affirmative voters. McLeroy explained that the history standards already were "rife with leftist political periods and events - the populists, the progressives, the New Deal and the Great Society. Including material about the conservative resurgence...provides some political balance to the document." Among the conservative groups that will be covered in history are the National Rifle Association, Moral Majority, Heritage Foundation and Contract with America.

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(Image credit: archives.gov)

King's FBI files may be opened to public

U.S. Sen. John Kerry plans to introduce legislation next week that would pave the way for the release of thousands of FBI documents on the life and death of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Kerry said the bill, which failed in 2006, can pass this year in honor of King. "I want the world to know what he stood for," Kerry said. "And I want his personal history preserved and examined by releasing all of his records."

The bill calls for creating a Martin Luther King Records Collection at the National Archives that would include all government records related to King. The bill also would create a five-member independent review board that would identify and make public all documents from agencies including the FBI - just as a review board in 1992 made public documents related to the 1963 John F. Kennedy assassination.

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Friday, January 15, 2010

Bible Possibly Written Centuries Earlier

Scientists have discovered the earliest known Hebrew writing - an inscription dating from the 10th century B.C., during the period of King David's reign.

The breakthrough could mean that portions of the Bible were written centuries earlier than previously thought. (The Bible's Old Testament is thought to have been first written down in an ancient form of Hebrew.)

Until now, many scholars have held that the Hebrew Bible originated in the 6th century B.C., because Hebrew writing was thought to stretch back no further. But the newly deciphered Hebrew text is about four centuries older, scientists announced this month.

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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Rembrandt Etching Found in D.C. Men's Room

The Very Rev. David M. O'Connell went into the bathroom looking for paper towels. He came out with something a little better: an authentic Rembrandt etching.

Father O'Connell, president of the Catholic University of America, noticed a picture frame jutting out from underneath a pile of junk in one of his office building's bathrooms last January, the university says. He pulled out an etching and thought it looked familiar.

An appraiser confirmed that the 4.5-inch-by-5-inch piece is an original by the 17th-century Dutch painter. The etching isn't well known, but owning a Rembrandt is worth more than just its appraisal value, says Paul Westley Bush, a graduate student.

No one at Catholic University is sure how a Rembrandt piece ended up in the bathroom.

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Emotional Bunny Says: "Yes, I'm positive it's not in my bag! I've checked everywhere! What's that? No, no, I told you, I picked it up, drove over to the university, stopped in for a minute, and then I just had to use the bathroom before I - oh - oh, no - wait a minute - Oh dear...."

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

100 Years Ago: The Amazing Technology of 1910

The dawn of 2010 promises more amazing developments in the world of technology. Already, tourists can visit space, for a price, nearly everything and everyone is going digital, and medical science continues to test the boundaries of what makes us truly human.

One full century ago, the new technologies that had people talking were considered just as groundbreaking. Electricity led the charge of developments that were changing the way people lived every day, with transportation and chemistry not far behind.

As the clocks of 1909 ticked towards 1910, more exciting inventions were just around the corner.

The early years of the century saw the general public finally able to enjoy the fruits of what was achieved in electrical engineering during the previous century. By 1910, many suburban homes had been wired up with power and new electric gadgets were being patented with fervor. Vacuum cleaners and washing machines had just become commercially available, though were still too expensive for many middle-class families.

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(Image credits: avolli.com, searchenginepeople.com)

FDR kept deadly disease hidden for years

Some 65 years ago, as World War II raged in Europe and the Pacific, the American people faced an unprecedented constitutional crisis of which they were completely unaware -- and which has remained a secret ever since.

It has long been known that President Franklin D. Roosevelt, during the last year of his life, was gravely ill with serious cardiac problems: He'd been diagnosed with acute heart failure in March 1944 and suffered from astronomically high blood pressure and arteriosclerosis.

But what the public did not know was that four years earlier, while still in the second of his four terms as president, FDR had been diagnosed with a deadly skin cancer, melanoma, in a lesion over his left eyebrow.

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