Archive for December 2010
The field of arms and armor is beset with romantic legends, gory myths, and widely held misconceptions. Their origins usually are to be found in a lack of knowledge of, and experience with, genuine objects and their historical background. Most of them are utter nonsense, devoid of any historical base. Perhaps the most infamous example is the notion that “knights had to be hoisted into their saddles with a crane,” which is as absurd as it is persistent even among many historians. In other instances, certain technical details that escape an obvious explanation have become the focus of lurid and fantastically imaginative attempts to explain their original function. Among these, the lance rest, an object protruding from the proper right side of many breastplates, probably holds first place. Source: Arms and Armor—Common Misconceptions and Frequently Asked Questions | Thematic Essay | Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History | The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Children across the land on Christmas Eve will nestle all snug in their beds to hear the classic poem “The Night Before Christmas.” There’s a parallel tradition on the Harvard campus at this time of year. Students and faculty gather to hear the story of Santa Claus and the psychedelic mushrooms.
I stumbled upon this curious blend of biology and fable during a wintry campus visit to Harvard’s Farlow Reference Library and Herbarium a few years ago.
A single finger bone found in this Siberian cave led to an amazing discovery. Early humans and Neanderthals co-existed with another humanoid species called Denisovans. And many present-day humans carry genes that prove our ancestors had children with Denisovans, too. The new species is named after the cave where the 30,000 year-old finger bone was found. Researchers had been searching for Neanderthal bones in the area, and were surprised to discover what they initially thought was a fossil from an early human’s little finger. To find out more, they shipped the bone off to the Max Planck Institute in Germany, where evolutionary biologist Svante Pääbo had already sequenced several Neanderthal genomes. Pääbo’s tests gave a shocking result: The genome sequence they got from the bone showed that it was neither human nor Neanderthal.
Researchers say Pioneer 10, which took the first close-up pictures of Jupiter before leaving our solar system in 1983, is being pulled back to the sun by an unknown force. The effect shows no sign of getting weaker as the spacecraft travels deeper into space, and scientists are considering the possibility that the probe has revealed a new force of nature.
Dr Philip Laing, a member of the research team tracking the craft, said: “We have examined every mechanism and theory we can think of and so far nothing works.
“If the effect is real, it will have a big impact on cosmology and spacecraft navigation,” said Dr Laing, of the Aerospace Corporation of California.
Pioneer 10 was launched by Nasa on March 2 1972, and with Pioneer 11, its twin, revolutionised astronomy with detailed images of Jupiter and Saturn. In June 1983, Pioneer 10 passed Pluto, the most distant planet in our solar system.
BBC News – Audio slideshow: We remember… in 2010 http://ow.ly/3uIBh Thanks for being all of you.