Monday, August 13, 2012

Just the Facts?: Volcanic 'Raft' Found In Pacific -- Hey, I'm Not Dead! -- Warrior Hands Excavated At Avaris



Vast volcanic 'raft' found in Pacific, near New Zealand

A vast "raft" of volcanic rocks covering 10,000 sq miles (26,000 sq km) of ocean has been spotted by a New Zealand military aircraft.

A naval ship was forced to change course in order to avoid the cluster of buoyant rocks, located 1,000 miles off the New Zealand coast.

The unusual phenomenon was probably the result of pumice being released from an underwater volcano, experts said.

One navy officer described it as the "weirdest thing" he had seen at sea.

Lieutenant Tim Oscar told the AFP news agency: "As far ahead as I could observe was a raft of pumice moving up and down with the swell.

"The [top of the] rock looked to be sitting two feet above the surface of the waves and lit up a brilliant white colour. It looked exactly like the edge of an ice shelf," the officer said.

Researchers aboard the ship, HMNZS Canterbury, suggest that the source of the pumice was an underwater volcano (seamount) known as Monowai, located to the north of New Zealand.

The pumice is likely to have been formed when lava from the seamount came into contact with seawater, and as it is less dense than water it quickly rises to the surface of the ocean.

Vicky Hards from the British Geological Survey said the raft of volcanic rocks on this scale was a "relatively unusual occurrence".

"Some 50-60 volcanic eruptions are reported per year in total, and out of these only a very small proportion are submarine," she told BBC News.

"Nevertheless, submarine volcanic eruptions are a relatively common phenomena, in fact many probably go unrecorded in the deep marine environment.

Dr Hards added that a previous example was close to Tristan da Cunha, a small group of small volcanic islands in the southern Atlantic Ocean.

"A small eruption occurred in 2004 and rafts of pumice were observed about a mile offshore, washing up on the beaches for the next weeks" she explained. - BBC

IMAX: Volcanoes of the Deep Sea [Blu-ray]

Furnace of Creation, Cradle of Destruction: A Journey to the Birthplace of Earthquakes, Volcanoes, and Tsunamis

Nova: Deadliest Volcanoes


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Hey, I'm not dead!

Click for video - Drowning Victim Rises From Dead

Joseph DeAngelo went to the Susquehanna River in Williamsport, Pennsylvania to take a summer's afternoon swim like many times before. Not long after he went into the water, Sue Hubbard saw his lifeless body bobbing near the shore. She immediately called police to report a drowning victim. DeAngelo was floating face up and authorities agreed with Hubbard. A forensic team arrived to investigate the drowning including Lycoming County Coroner Charles E. Kiessling Jr. People began speculating how he drowned since he was wearing a life jacket. Continue reading at Drowning Victim Rises From Dead

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Discovery of 16 buried hands in Egypt provides first physical evidence of gruesome practice used by ancient warriors

A glimpse into the brutal way warriors proved their prowess 3,600 has been unearthed in Egypt.

Archaeologists excavating a palace in the ancient city of Avaris have dug up four pits containing 16 large right hands believed to have been sliced from the arms of vanquished enemies.

Experts believe the discovery is the earliest and only physical evidence that soldiers used to present the cut-off right hands of enemies in exchange for gold.

After beating the enemy successful fighters would chop off their opponents hand to remove his strength and deprive him of his power for eternity.

Two of the pits discovered are situated in front of what is thought to be a throne room and contained one hand each.

The remaining 14 hands were found in two other pits built at a slightly later time in an outer section of the palace.

All the hands found in the Nile Delta northeast of Cairo are right hands.

Manfred Bietak, project and field director of the excavations, said: 'Most of the hands are quite large and some of them are very large.’ It was reported in LiveScience.

The finds are from a period when the Hyksos, thought to be from northern Canaan, established the heart of their kingdom at Avaris today known as Tell el-Daba.

Hyksos rulers King Khayan was thought to be living at the Palace at the time the hands were buried.

He added: 'Our evidence is the earliest evidence and the only physical evidence at all. Each pit represents a ceremony.'

Cutting off the right hand helped to count victims and was a symbolic way of taking an enemy's strength.

'You deprive him of his power eternally,' says Bietak

The hands could have belonged to Egyptians or enemies the Hyksos were fighting in the Levant.

One inscription on the tomb wall of Ahmose, son of Ibana, an Egyptian fighting in a campaign against the Hyksos about 80 years later than the time the 16 hands were buried. It read:
'Then I fought hand to hand. I brought away a hand. It was reported to the royal herald.' For his efforts, the writer was given 'the gold of valor.’

Later, in a campaign against the Nubians, to the south, Ahmose took three hands and was given 'gold in double measure,' the inscription suggests.

Scientists are not certain who started this gruesome tradition. No records of the practice have been found in the Hyksos' likely homeland of northern Canaan, Bietak said. - dailymail

The Hyksos Period in Egypt (Shire Egyptology)

A History of Egypt: From the End of the Neolithic Period to the Death of Cleopatra VII. B.C. 30. Volume 3. Egypt under the Amenemhats and Hyksos

Thutmose III: The Military Biography of Egypt's Greatest Warrior King


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No man’s land: Women-only city planned for Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia is to build a new city exclusively for women. The Gulf kingdom is working on the narrow junction between strict Sharia law and the aspirations of active females who wish to pursue their own careers.

The new plan is to combine women’s desire to work in the modern age and provide a job environment that would go hand-in-hand with the country’s Sharia law. The Saudi Industrial Property Authority (Modon) has been charged to lead the country into a new era.

The ambitious mono-city is now being designed with construction to begin next year. The municipality in the Eastern city of Hafuf is expected to attract 500 million riyals (US$133 million) in investments and it will create around 5,000 jobs in the textiles, pharmaceuticals and food processing industries. There will be women-run firms and production lines for women.

Saudi Sharia law does allow women to work, given that her essential duties of homemaking should not be neglected. But in reality around 15 per cent of women are represented in the workforce, according to some estimates.

The Modon plan shadows the government’s desire for women to play a more important role in the development of the country. Among the stated objectives are to create job spots for young people.

"I'm sure that women can demonstrate their efficiency in many aspects and clarify the industries that best suit their interests, their nature and their ability," Modon’s deputy director-general, Saleh Al-Rasheed, told Saudi daily al-Eqtisadiah.

Saudi’s existing industrial cities already have factories owned by women, as well as companies that employ a small portion of the female population.

Apart from Hafuf, the Saudis are developing more women-only polis projects.

“We are now working on a second industrial city for women,” said Saleh Al Rasheed. “We have plans to establish a number of women-only industries in various parts of the kingdom.”

The kingdom’s rampant desire to boost its citizen workforce participation and change the women’s unemployment rate is also changing the retail landscape. The state is attempting to replace foreign salespeople with Saudi women in its female apparel shops, according to a research carried out by Booz and Co.

This summer, women started replacing sales staff in cosmetics and perfume shops, only half a year after they replaced male sales staff in lingerie stores. By the end of the year, women plan to replace their gender counterparts in stores selling abayas, the traditional black cloak worn by women.

But despite the degree of emancipation, women's rights in Saudi Arabia are still defined by Islam and lack basic freedoms found in many Western cultures. For instance, Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world that prohibits women from driving.

Yet recently efforts have been made to change the societal structure in the kingdom.

Last September, King Abdullah announced that women will be able to vote and run in the 2015 local elections, and be appointed to the Consultative Assembly.

This July, women also obtained the right to represent their country at the London Olympic Games. - RT

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Woman's missing digits grow back in phantom form

A woman born missing a finger and a thumb has grown them back – albeit as part of a phantom limb. This extraordinary occurrence shows that our brain contains a fully functional map of our body image, regardless of what our limbs actually look like.

The woman, RN, was born with just three fingers on her right hand. Aged 18, RN had the hand amputated after a car accident. She later began to feel that her missing limb was still present, and developed a "phantom" hand.

"But here's the interesting thing," says Paul McGeoch at the University of California, San Diego. "Her phantom hand didn't have three digits, it had five."

RN was aware of a full complement of fingers, but her phantom thumb and index finger were less than half the usual length.

With training using a mirror box trick – a tool that creates the visual illusion of two hands – McGeoch and V.S Ramachandran, also at San Diego, managed to extend her short phantom finger and thumb to normal length.

McGeoch says this study indicates that there is a hardwired representation in the brain of what the body should look like, regardless of how it actually appears in real life. It shows us more about the balance between the external and innate representations of a limb, he says.

"The presence of the deformed hand was suppressing the brain's innate representation of her fingers which is why they appeared shorter, but after the hand was removed and the inhibition taken away, the innate representation kicks in again."

Matthew Longo at Birkbeck, University of London, says it is a fascinating case study. "It contributes to a growing literature suggesting that our conscious experience of our body is, at least in part, dependent on the intrinsic organisation of the brain, rather than a result of experience." - newscientist

Phantoms in the Brain: Probing the Mysteries of the Human Mind

Phantom and Stump Pain
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