An English schoolboy digging a hole in his family’s yard unearthed an eight-pound cannonball dating back more than 350 years to the English Civil War.
Jack Sinclair, 10, of Southwell, Nottinghamshire, continued tunneling after his father had dug down to remove a tree root and the lad came across what he at first thought was a rock.
Further work revealed that it was bigger and denser, and when Jack pulled it from the ground he had a heavy, rusty, muddy lump.
“His mother was concerned that it might be an unexploded bomb from World War II, but when they cleaned off the dirt, they saw it was an iron cannonball,” according to The History Blog.
Jack’s grandfather researched the artifact and took it to the nearby Museum Resource Centre in Newark, where experts verified with 90 percent certainty that it is a 17th century cannonball used during the English Civil War.
Its weight and dimensions suggest it was shot from a saker cannon, a medium-caliber long-range cannon widely used in the early 16th century and 17th century, according to The History Blog.
The find strengthens Southwell’s strong links with the 1642-51 conflict.
Ilya Bryzgalov is a better at hockey than history – fortunately for him.
Bryzgalov, a native of the Russian city of Togliatti, on the Volga River, recently gave an interview to the Russian sports outlet Championat in which he was questioned on his views on Stalin, who had many millions killed between 1922 and 1953.
“Positive. I see logic in his action,” Bryzgalov said, according to a translation by Yahoo!’s Dmitry Chesnokov. “Not without going too far, of course. But he came to power in a country that had just lived through a revolution. There were so many spies, enemies, traitors there. A lot of people still had guns after the civil war. The country was in ruins, (people) needed to survive somehow. The country needed to be rebuilt, and in order to do that it needed to be held in iron hands.
“… He knew what he was doing. He is described as a ‘bloody tyrant.’ But at the time it couldn’t be any other way. Yes, there were innocent people who were victims of repression. But it happens.”
This may be nit-picky, but a word of advice to whichever public relations firm is advising Bryzgalov and/or the Flyers: when discussing the deaths of millions, avoid phrases such as “but it happens.”
One hundred years ago this fall philosopher and Nobel Prize-winning writer Albert Camus was born in French Algeria.
Although best known today for his work The Stranger, Camus wrote several important books, was involved in the French Resistance during World War II and was an active human rights proponent.
The second-youngest recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature, after Rudyard Kipling, Camus died in car crash in January 1960 at age 46, less than three years after winning the award.
One of Camus’ masterpieces is The Plague, a 1947 novel set in the Algerian city of Oran.
In Camus’ work, an outbreak of bubonic plague sweeps the coastal community, which is sealed off as a health measure, trapping hundreds of thousands for months as the death toll steadily mounts.
The Plague ponders the vagaries of fate and the conflict between man’s innate tendency to seek inherent value and meaning in life, even when none may exist.
The discovery of new animal species is unusual but certainly not earth-shatteringly rare.
Periodically, scientists will announce that a new variety of lemur has been found in Madagascar or a previously unknown spider has been located in a distant part of Sri Lanka or an unclassified frog has been uncovered in remote India.
Less common is finding a new species in a populated, scientifically advanced region such as the United States.
However, scientists in Florida last week announced that they came across a new species of black bass in the southeastern United States during a genetic study of fish in 2007, according to Field & Stream.
Researchers with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission christened the species, found in the Chipola River, “Choctaw bass.”
The Chipola is a small tributary of the Apalachicola River that runs north-south along the middle of the Florida Panhandle.
Choctaw bass possess a DNA profile unlike that of any other species, scientists announced.
Some 150 years after Confederate troops mistakenly shot Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson as he returned from a night scouting mission during the Battle of Chancellorsville, a pair of Texas researchers believe they have determined why the famed general and his group were confused with enemy troops.
Jackson’s wounding on May 2, 1863, would lead to the amputation of his left arm and complications that would result in pneumonia and ultimately his death eight days later.
But historians have struggled with the fact that on the evening Jackson was accidentally shot by men of the 18th North Carolina Infantry regiment, the battlefield and area around it was brightened by a full moon, to the point that opposing forces were able to see well enough to fight through the night, according to eyewitness accounts.
Don Olson of Texas State University and Laurie E. Jasinski, a Texas State graduate and editor of The Handbook of Texas Music, Second Edition, decided to use astronomy to try to resolve the mystery, according to RedOrbit.
Using detailed battle maps and astronomical calculations, Olson and Jasinski determined that the 18th North Carolina was looking to the southeast, directly toward the rising moon, which silhouetted Jackson and his officers, according to the website.
“When you tell people it was a bright moonlit night, they think it makes it easier to see. What we are finding is that the 18th North Carolina was looking directly toward the direction of the moon as Stonewall Jackson and his party came riding back,” Olson said. “They would see the riders only as dark silhouettes.”
It would be not unlike looking at an individual approaching from the direction of the sun during the day. One would be able to make out a figure, but details would be hard to determine.
The coelacanth was considered to have been extinct for approximately 65 million years until a specimen was caught off the coast of Africa in 1938. Evidence of how far science has progressed was demonstrated Wednesday when biologists announced they had unraveled the rare fish’s DNA.
Scientists are hopeful that the genetic blueprint of the coelacanth, called the “living fossil” fish, can shed light on how life in the sea crept onto land hundreds of millions of years ago, according to Agence France-Presse.
Analysis of the coelacanth genome shows three billion “letters” of DNA code, making it roughly the same size as a human’s, biologists said.
“The genetic blueprint appears to have changed astonishingly little over the eons, pointing to one of the most successful species ever investigated,” according to the wire service.
“We found that the genes overall are evolving significantly slower than in every other fish and land vertebrate that we looked at,” said Jessica Alfoeldi of the Broad Institute of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard.
Coelacanths are an exceedingly rare order of fish – only 308 have ever been caught – that include two living species: the West Indian Ocean coelacanth and the Indonesian coelacanth
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I’m going to go out on a limb and guess this was not put together by the typical Facebook user.
After nearly two decades underground, billions of Brood II cicadas are expected to swarm the US East Coast in the coming two months.
Between mid-April and late May, the insects will emerge from the ground in an area ranging from New York to North Carolina, inhabiting trees for four to six weeks and looking for mates.
To get an idea of just how many cicadas will tunnel to the surface after being in the ground since 1996, residents in areas where this year’s “invasion” is forecast can expect as many as 1.5 millions of cicadas per square mile.
Called Brood II cicadas, they are periodic cicadas that hatch every 17 years. Periodical cicadas are unique in their combination of long, prime-numbered life cycles – emerging after either 13 or 17 years – precisely timed mass emergences, and active and vocal choruses, according to the website www.magicicada.org.
Magicicada is the genus of the 13-year and 17-year periodical cicadas of eastern North America.
“Periodical cicadas are found only in eastern North America. There are seven species — four with 13-year life cycles and three with 17-year cycles. The three 17-year species are generally northern in distribution, while the 13-year species are generally southern and Midwestern,” the website added.
Arachnophobes beware: an enormous, previously unknown species of spider as big as a human’s face and described as “fast and venomous” has been discovered in Asia.
Giant tarantulas with legs that span eight inches have been found in a remote village in Sri Lanka.
The spiders, which also have unusual yellow markings on their legs and a pink band around their bodies, were found living in the old doctor’s quarters of a hospital in the war-torn northern Sri Lankan province of Mankulam by scientists from Sri Lanka’s Biodiversity Education and Research organization.
The spiders belong to the genus Poecilotheria, an arboreal group indigenous to India and Sri Lanka that are known for being colorful, fast and venomous, according to the website wired.co.uk.
“As a group, the spiders are related to a class of South American tarantula that includes the Goliath bird-eater, the world’s largest,” it added.
The giant arachnids have been named Poecilotheria rajaei, in honor of Michael Rajakumar Purajah, a senior police official who led the research team through a hazardous stretch of jungle ravaged by civil unrest, according to The Telegraph.
A research team led by underwater archaeologists from the South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology began searching this week for a revenue cutter that exploded in Charleston Harbor 200 years ago.
The US Revenue Cutter Gallatin came ashore on April 1, 1813, in Charleston, where its crew took on supplies and prepared for their next mission. Apparently, a spark reached the ship’s powder store because shortly after 11 a.m., the Gallatin was blown apart.
Despite the devastating impact of the explosion, which killed three crew members and seriously injured five others, researchers believe there’s a chance relics from the vessel may still be recoverable after two centuries, according to the Charleston Post and Courier.
“Personal effects or artifacts that represent the state of South Carolina’s coastal defenses might ‘give a glimpse of the War of 1812 through the actual archaeological record,’” Jim Spirek, an underwater archaeologist at the S.C. Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology, told the newspaper.
Spirek, however, is cautious. After 200 years, during which the city’s waterfront has been greatly altered, the odds of finding the cutter seem daunting.
“The initial plan calls for dragging a side-scan sonar device behind a boat while looking for sunken ‘anomalies’ in the muck,” the Post and Courier reported. “If something of curiosity is found, for example, a collection of ballast stones, divers would go into the water for a closer look. The ship’s cannons were reported to have been recovered shortly after the disaster, so they aren’t on the menu.”