07 Mar

He will forever be known for his heroic leadership as prime minister of the United Kingdom during World War II, but prior to his service of head of state, Sir Winston Churchill appears to have quite deliberately sought out signs of intelligent life elsewhere in the universe.

In a newly discovered essay, Churchill wrote, "I, for one, am not so immensely impressed by the success we are making of our civilization here that I am prepared to think we are the only spot in this immense universe which contains living, thinking creatures, or that we are the highest type of mental and physical development which has ever appeared in the vast compass of space and time."

The 11-page essay, first penned in 1939 and subsequently revised at some point in the 1950s, was revealed at the Churchill Fulton, Missouri.

05 Mar

When a species faces extinction, humans hope to preserve it as long as possible, accepting the fact that once the last member of that species is gone, mankind will not see it again. That attitude may soon be part of the past, though, as science finds new ways to recreate extinct species using cloning.

The most recent animal to gain the attention of geneticists is the woolly mammoth. The species became extinct approximately 14,000 years ago, with its closest living relative being the Asian elephant. According to a geneticist at Harvard University, scientists are currently working on resurrecting the woolly mammoth through the creation of a mammoth-elephant embryo. Experts emphasize that the end result likely won’t be an exact replica of the original woolly mammoth but will instead be closer to what we know today as the elephant.

03 Mar

Best practices of tourism, like most any trend, change with the times. What seems fashionable in one age can appear out-of-place -- or simply bizarre -- in another.

Trouble is, there's often a disconnect among epochs that results in only a partial comparison of today's mores with the hopelessly ill-conceived ones of the past. This idea, it should be noted, also applies to the "cutting edge" mores of tomorrow, which will inevitably make the ones of today look just as hopelessly ill-conceived.

One benefit of modern technology is that people can instantly gain a more complete picture of different eras by viewing videos, listening to recordings, and even looking at photographs. All of it, though, amounts to only a "greater partial" account than we had before the advent of cameras and recorders: Any attempt to measure something by recording or photographing it must, by necessity, exclude what the lens or microphone doesn't pick up.

Still, there's much to be said for the stories suggested by older photographs, many of which were painstakingly composed, given the cost of materials and the time it took to take and develop shots.

01 Mar

There's been plenty of talk about the potential for manned missions to Mars, including simulated exercises taking place in Hawaii. The idea has gained enough popular interest that even Hollywood has gotten in on the action with flicks like "The Martian."

In fact, the prospect of going to Mars may have gotten attention to the point of being taken for granted. So why not focus on another exotic outer space trip that would've been scoffed at a few years back? Like to, say, the gaseous planet of Venus, where temperatures average a mere 864 degrees Fahrenheit?

NASA isn't envisioning a manned mission to Venus just yet. But the space agency has recently successfully tested technology that could make unmanned lander missions there possible for longer than the few hours that current - and bulky, thereby expensive to propel -- Venus landers can withstand on the planet's oppressive surface.

27 Feb

In 1947, shepherds discovered a series of sea scrolls stored in jars in caves in Wadi Qumran near the Dead Sea. Those scrolls, named the Dead Sea Scrolls, provide insight into early Judaism and their discovery launched years of study. Scientists have long believed there could be more scrolls in existence somewhere and they may have just gotten a step closer to finding them.

A team of researchers recently discovered a cave in Israel that they believe once held Dead Sea Scrolls. Unfortunately, these researchers weren’t the first to find the cave. There was evidence that someone else had been there, as well as hints that scrolls may have been hidden there, including broken jars and lids. A leather scrap that could have bound the scrolls, a cloth they could have been wrapped in, and other hints that scrolls likely resided there confirmed the team’s suspicions. There was also a tunnel at the rear of the cave.

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