August 16, 2015

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From the NY Times, we learn part of the Lost Colony of Roanoke Island, NC might have been found.

MERRY HILL, N.C. — Under a blistering sun, Nicholas M. Luccketti swatted at mosquitoes as he watched his archaeology team at work in a shallow pit on a hillside above the shimmering waters of Albemarle Sound. On a table in the shade, a pile of plastic bags filled with artifacts was growing. Fragments of earthenware and pottery. A mashed metal rivet. A piece of a hand-wrought nail.

They call the spot Site X. Down a dusty road winding through soybean fields, the clearing lies between two cypress swamps teeming with venomous snakes. It is a suitably mysterious name for a location that may shed light on an enigma at the heart of America’s founding: the fate of the “lost colonists” who vanished from a sandy outpost on Roanoke Island, about 60 miles east, in the late 16th century.

On and off for three years, Mr. Luccketti and colleagues with the First Colony Foundation have been excavating parts of the hillside, hoping to find traces of the colonists. As if clues in a latter-day treasure hunt, hidden markings on a 16th-century map led them to the spot on the sound’s western shore, which Mr. Luccketti had previously surveyed.

Mr. Luccketti, 66, chose his words carefully as he described the fruits of their latest work. “I’m trying to make sure that I say this correctly,” he said. “We have evidence from this site that strongly indicates that there were Roanoke colonists here.” …

… The story of the Lost Colony of Roanoke has long lent a spooky note to grade schoolers’ study of American history. In 1587, an intrepid Englishman named John White took more than 100 settlers to Roanoke Island, which lies inside the chain of barrier islands that is today called the Outer Banks. It was Sir Walter Raleigh’s second attempt to colonize North Carolina, but the first to include civilians and families. White’s granddaughter, Virginia Dare, was the first child born in the New World to English parents, just a few weeks after their arrival.

A resupply trip sent White back to England, but a naval war with Spain delayed his return. When he finally came back, three years after he left, the settlers had vanished, but they had left behind cryptic clues: …

… The fact that the property was undisturbed was something of a miracle. Tucked into economically depressed and largely rural Bertie County, the land had been slated for development into more than 2,000 luxury condominiums, restaurants and a marina, but the plan collapsed after the financial crisis of 2008.

North Carolina law requires archaeological surveys before large coastal developments can proceed. By coincidence, the developers had hired Mr. Luccketti’s outfit, the James River Institute for Archaeology, to survey the site in 2007. …




The Guardian, UK reports on another mystery that might be solved. What happened to Neanderthals?

Dogs are humanity’s oldest friends, renowned for their loyalty and abilities to guard, hunt and chase. But modern humans may owe even more to them than we previously realised. We may have to thank them for helping us eradicate our caveman rivals, the Neanderthals.

According to a leading US anthropologist, early dogs, bred from wolves, played a critical role in the modern human’s takeover of Europe 40,000 years ago when we vanquished the Neanderthal locals.

“At that time, modern humans, Neanderthals and wolves were all top predators and competed to kill mammoths and other huge herbivores,” says Professor Pat Shipman, of Pennsylvania State University. “But then we formed an alliance with the wolf and that would have been the end for the Neanderthal.”

If Shipman is right, she will have solved one of evolution’s most intriguing mysteries. Modern humans are known to have evolved in Africa. They began to emigrate around 70,000 years ago, reaching Europe 25,000 years later. The continent was then dominated by our evolutionary cousins, the Neanderthals, who had lived there for more than 200,000 years. However, within a few thousand years of our arrival, they disappeared. …




From Futurity we learn sleeping on our sides is good for our brains.

Sleeping on your side—rather than your back or stomach—may be the best way to rid your brain of waste. It may even help reduce the chances of developing Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and other neurological diseases.

Researchers used dynamic contrast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to image the brain’s glymphatic pathway, a complex system that clears wastes and other harmful chemical solutes from the brain.

A lateral sleeping position is the best position to most efficiently remove waste from the brain. It’s also the most common way to sleep for humans and many other animals. The buildup of brain waste chemicals may contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s disease and other neurological conditions, researchers say. …




And Forbes says there’s more evidence coffee is good for your brain. 

I know by now news on coffee research is a little hard to swallow, considering how often new studies come out with contradictory conclusions. But don’t give up on coffee science just yet — a theme has emerged from the more credible studies, and the latest study in the dogpile is a worthy example.

So let’s get right to the point: according to the latest study, drinking a consistent, moderate amount of coffee each day significantly reduces the risk of developing mild cognitive impairment (MCI), a precursor to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. …




The Koreans (Southern ones. The ones in the north are imprisoned by a type of ape posing as friends of the people.) continue to amaze with their production of high quality consumer goods. Samsung is a good example. Hyundai cars are another. WSJ-Rumble Seat reviewed Hyundai’s Genesis all wheel drive luxury sedan.  

TO ME, THE HYUNDAI BRAND will forever seem like a major-league expansion team. It wasn’t in the league when I was growing up—the Colorado Rockies? What kind of name is that, anyway?—so it will never own the full legitimacy of history no matter how many pennants it brings home.

And that’s OK. We already have a Ford. Hyundai’s role in the global passenger-car market is as an insurgent and disruptive force, shaking up the old franchises. No romance, no poetry, just a relentless, morally neutral march of commodity-car building across the globe. By unit sales, Hyundai is now the world’s fifth largest auto maker. Hyundai’s footprint in America includes California-based design studios, technical centers in Michigan and Arizona and vast assembly halls in Alabama, which disgorge daily fleets of crossovers and family haulers to driveways all over the northern continent. …

AWD (All Wheel Drive) availability has helped boost Genesis sales 60% in the past seven months, a pace which suggests pent-up demand. And then comes a raft, a slew, just a shopping list of stuff, some optional but a lot just kicked in, in the interests of invidious comparison. And whenever you talk about high-end Hyundais, you have to keep in mind all the optional equipment in the world doesn’t add up to a luxury car. Here, the cabin is kind of joyless and a bit dated, design-wise. The Genesis’ shared DNA with the Equus has imbued the smaller car with the big car’s remoteness, in a segment where at least a few will still drive for the fun of it.

But it’s got some gear. Of most consequence is the Automatic Emergency Braking system, which acts on data from the lane-departure and smart cruise-control sensors. It could also be called the Inattentive Driver Assist system. If you happen to be changing the radio station or digging through your purse for the toll transponder and fail to slow for stopped traffic ahead, it will do its level utmost to brake the car to avoid or at a minimum mitigate impact. Every car should, and I predict, will soon have this function.

Oh but we are just getting started, Batman. There’s the suite of Lane Change Assist, Blind-Spot Detection and Rear Cross-Traffic Alert systems that rely on rear-facing sensors to keep drivers apprised of what’s coming up behind. Watching out front is the Lane Keeping Assist System (LKAS), which puts an electronic hand on the tiller if the driver begins to wander. …

… Hyundai has also put a lot of equity into high-strength steel, as compared with aluminum construction; and the numbers look good. Hyundai claims the Genesis chassis torsional and bending stiffness now exceeds that of a BMW 5-series. The curb weight for the V6 AWD model is 4,295 pounds.

Meanwhile, the Genesis is one whole dress size bigger than its premium segment rivals: 123 cubic feet of interior space, according to Hyundai, handily outsizing an Mercedes E-class (113.1 cubic feet), whose numbers Hyundai was happy to provide.

Big, powerful, with an overqualified equipment list, the Genesis sedan makes a strong case for itself. And it is even, actually, handsome, with the masculine, single-frame grille up front and lovely strakes of chrome at the rocker panels. …