November 21st, 2008 | researchmaterial
I just moved my New Scientist newsfeed out of Bloglines and into Feed Demon so that I can actually bloody read them, and today’s capture is just outstandingly strange, ugly and wonderful. I should just del.icio.us the lot, really, but this is too good to not lump together as a snapshot of What We Learned Today (Or Overnight, Anyway):
I have to say, the NS crew really do have the art of the lede down pat. "Human aerial bombardments might have pushed Neanderthals to extinction, suggests new research." How can you not love that? Studying the bone shapes of Neanderthals and homo saps indicates that humans spent a lot of time doing overhand throws with heavy objects, something apparently beyond Neanderthal capability or conception. The inference is the subject of some doubt, but someone’s got a Neanderthal rib bone with spear damage.
This, too, sometimes gives me pause to think: that homo sapiens has only been without a sibling human species for some 25,000 years, whereas we shared the other with other human species for a period of not less than 160,000 years and possibly some 300,000 years. More time passed with more than one human species than without. And, even stranger to me — we forgot all about our sibling species until discovering and comprehending their bones in the mid-1800s.
And it’s been a hair over 150 years from then to the first test of an interplanetary internet.
A rough draft of the woolly mammoth genome has been extracted. I would love to see a woolly mammoth, and I hope the gene delivery system gets cracked sooner rather than later. The tarsier, it turns out, is still alive. But tarsiers look a bit like someone turned a baby inside out and then rubbed it in the fluff that collects down the back of the sofa, so nobody really cares.
The headline of the day, mind you, is probably still Woman Receives Windpipe Built From Her Stem Cells.
The old idea of using the temperature differential between layers of the ocean to generate power is being revived again, this time by Lockheed Martin of all people: but they’re being outpaced by, believe it or not, the US Army, who’ll have a major military base powered by ocean-thermal by the end of 2011. It seems that they also get the desalinisation of 1.25 million gallons of seawater per day out of the deal, which is also interesting. I imagine all those parts of eastern England that are due to be flooded out in the next ten years can at least be converted into ocean-thermal fields to provide cheap power for those of us on high ground. Fuck you, Great Yarmouth, I have machines to run.