October 8th, 2007

Fossilized Footprints

Follow in 385,000 yr-old Human Footsteps

Want to walk in the footsteps of the early humans? Tourists in
Italy can do almost just that starting this weekend, after footpaths believed to have been left up to 385,000 years ago were opened to the public.

The fossilized footprints, which Italian scientists say are among the oldest anywhere, extend along six trails at the edge of the Roccamonfina volcano in southern Italy.

 

There is also a handprint, made when one of the primitive humans slipped on the soft earth. The fossilized footpaths were known locally as the "Devil's Trails" for centuries because they were thought to be supernatural. Scientists first identified them properly in 2003, and had kept the area off-limits to the public until Saturday.


Tourists cannot place their feet directly into the fossils, but can walk along the footpath from a safe distance. Paolo Mietto of the
University of Padua in Italy said scientists had also discovered another set of tracks nearby that were now being excavated. He said the tracks in total point to more than six different individuals.

 

"That says a lot about the potential for this site," Mietto said. The footprints belong to primitive members of the human family about 1.5 meters tall, who walked upright with a free-standing gait" and used their hands to steady themselves.

Kemo D. (a.k.a. no.7)
www.beyondgenes.com 

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Joke of the Day

A young businessman had just started his own firm. He'd rented a beautiful office and had it furnished with antiques. Sitting there, he saw a man come into the outer office. Wishing to appear busy, the businessman picked up the phone and started to pretend he had a big deal working. He threw huge figures around and made giant commitments. Finally, he hung up and asked the visitor, "Can I help you?" The man said, "Sure. I've come to install the phone.."

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Crime and Punishment

Why Do We Conform to Society?


A pair of brain regions work together to assess the threat of punishment and override our selfish tendencies.

Whether you subscribe to the Ten Commandments, the Golden Rule or some instinctive moral code, society functions largely because most of its denizens adhere to a set of norms that allow them to live together in relative tranquility.

 

But, why is it that we put a vast amount of social resources into keeping stealing, murdering and other unfair (not to mention violent and illegal) acts to a minimum? Seems it all comes down to the fact that most of us don't cotton to being punished by our peers.

"The reason why punishment for norm violations is important is that it disciplines the potential norm violators," says Ernst Fehr, an economist at the University of Zurich.
 

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Symmetry in Nature

Fundamental Fact or Human Bias?


Women have more orgasms during sex with men who are more symmetrical. Does this penchant for order cloud our ability to see the universe accurately? 

During the early part of the 20th century, the famous Harvard mathematician George David Birkhoff developed a mathematical formula which he believed could be used to gauge how beautiful and appealing a work of art was.

 

Birkhoff's formula relied on two abstract concepts: complexity and order (or symmetry). According to Birkhoff, if something is complex, it will be more appealing if it is less symmetrical. Alternatively, if something is highly-symmetrical, it is better if it is less complex.

 

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Quote of the Day

"It is not always the same thing to be a good man and a good citizen."

 

Aristotle, 'Nicomachean Ethics,' 325 B.C.

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Person of the Week

Hillary Clinton 

Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton vowed to promote scientific discovery in research, medicine and space exploration if elected.

Clinton aims for a space exploration program "that involves robust human spaceflight to complete the Space Station and later human missions, expanded robotic spaceflight probes of our solar system leading to future human exploration" by, in part, capitalizing on the expertise of the shuttle program workforce and preventing the sort of "brain drain" she says occurred between the Apollo era and shuttle missions.

MILF of the Week

Julia Roberts

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