Great Balls of . . . Fools Gold Found in Mexico

article-2318151-1995A25C000005DC-373_634x427Archaeologists from the Mexico National Institute of Archaeology and History recently discovered a 2000-year-old secret chamber buried under an ancient pyramid temple in Teotihuacan, Mexico.

And in that chamber, the archaeologists’ robot discovered hundreds of golden metallic spheres made out of pyrite, otherwise known as Fool’s Gold.  Luckily, a flying drone was there to capture the images.

No this isn’t the next Indiana Jones film. This is real, folks.

Interestingly, the name Teotihuacan means “the place where men become gods.”

Of course the big questions are: Were the mysterious spheres part of some kind of burial ritual? Was the placement of the spheres relevant? Is there some natural quality to the material that was valued, perhaps for its sound or its luminous quality?

Or maybe it was just a game played by ancient guardians of the tunnel to pass the time (Maybe they kept dropping the balls into the pit by mistake — “Oops, I’m not getting that one!”).

I guess it’s one more piece of the mystery behind an ancient civilization that disappeared suddenly in the year 700. For mere, here’s the full article.

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Robocolypse Now: Man Charged with Shooting Police Robot

060419_gort_lgRemember Gort in The Day the Earth Stood Still? Well, we’re getting closer to that. Nowadays, in special cases of dangerous shootouts or where a bomb is suspected, police send in robots to scope out the problem.

On February 23rd, Ohio police sent two robots into a home where a man was making threats and had fired a gun in his house. The man, who was as drunk as Rooster Cogburn on a bad day, shot at one of the robots. Allegedly, the injured robot was undeterred and the distraction allowed police to come storming in with a stun gun. The man was arrested at the scene. This is the first case I’ve heard where a man was charged with shooting a robot.

No word on the robot, but I assume he/she is in stable condition.

Now in case you’re thinking the police robots are indestructible behemoths like this…

Gen3_Police_Robot-md

 

Not quite. The police robots look more like Wall-E or that cute robot in Short Circuit. Definitely not a Transformer type. This is a typical police robot below …

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Makes you want to tremble in your shoes just looking at it, right? No? Well, at least it works, and it does save lives. In this case, police found two AK-47 rifles and lots of ammunition.  I wonder what the robots looked like to the drunk guy?

I”m still holding out for Gort. Klaatu Berada Nikto.  Here’s the full article from PopSci.

 

If You See a Flying Humvee, You’re Not Drunk

Flying HUMVEECue the Flight of the Valkyries music from Apocalypse Now. Here come the flying Humvees. At least if DARPA (the U.S. Defense  research organization) gets its wish.

Designs for the so-called Transformer (TX) Program have already entered the prototype phase, with ground and flight demonstrations slated for 2015.

Not only will this baby be a roadworthy aircraft, it’ll need to be able to stop on a time for vertical takeoff and landing; be light enough to fly but strong enough for heavy road duty (and resistance to small arms fire); and be as easy to drive and pilot as a car.  Now we’re talkin’

Hey, if it doesn’t work out, they can always use the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang design. I’m sure Dick Van Dyke wouldn’t mind.

chitty-chitty-bang-bang

2000 Year-Old Computer a True Mystery

Imagine finding a sophisticated computer device from the 2nd century BC with 30-70 precision-engineered moving parts that could predict the movement of the sun, moon, and planets in our solar system?

Well that’s exactly what was discovered by a sponge diver in 1900, over a century ago, in a Roman shipwreck off of the Greek island of Antikythera. Dubbed the Antikythera Mechanism, the device still baffles modern day technologists.

It took a century to even figure out how it worked and what it was used for, and even then, the solution involved multiple nations and several disciplines of expertise.

Experts believe it was part of a cargo looted from Rhodes en route to a celebration in Rome given by Julius Caesar. The mechanism now sits in the Archaeological Museum of Athens.

Some cite its origins to the Greek mathematician Archimedes (c. 287 BC – c 212 BC), as the Roman philosopher Cicero made mention of General Marcus Marcellus taking home several of Archimedes’s machines. Whether those machines and this device are of the same ilk remains to be seen.

This begs a few questions:

  • Did this machine have some specific end goal in mind or was it merely for astronomical study?
  • Where did this technology disappear to? (we know that much technology, including plumbing, was lost with the Dark Ages).
  • Was there a higher intelligence involved or was this simply a matter of ancient peoples being much more brilliant than we give them credit for?

(For instance, the ancient Chinese had flushing toilets, as did the Romans. Yet in the 1800s, the British were using chamber pots. Indeed, toilets were literally “reinvented” at least 5 times throughout world history, the last time after the cholera epidemic in England)

  • What other advanced technologies existed in ancient Greece that were lost?

For more, check out the Antikythera Mechanism Research Project website. Also, here’s the Wikipedia entry on the topic.

 

Top Undersea Hotels – The Wave of the Future

For those who’ve read The Kronos Interference, you know that part of the story takes place in an undersea facility.

In fact, the inspiration for Jacob’s cabin was taken from the Poseidon Undersea Resort in Fiji (hey, the rates are only $15,000 and up), and the complex itself was loosely inspired by the design of the never-completed Hydropolis resort in Dubai, even though the facility in the book was completely submerged.

Meanwhile, here’s a list of the top 5 undersea hotels, for the next time you’re looking for something a little bit different.

PS: Apologies to those who suffered the brunt of Hurricane Sandy’s wrath, and probably haven’t the slightest interest in underwater hotels at the moment. Ed and I live in the midst of it, and many of our friends and family still have no power (and indeed neither does Ed). We hope and pray that all of our readers and their families are safe. 

Evidence of Time Travel? You Decide

There’s been lots of speculation over the years as to whether time travel is possible or not.  Of, course, some of the most respected minds in the world have their own opinions on the matter. Take Stephen Hawking, for example.

In a recent interview, Hawking said, “I have experimental evidence that time travel is not possible. I gave a party for time-travelers, but I didn’t send out the invitations until after the party. I sat there a long time, but no one came.”

Of course, several years back, he also famously asked, “If time travel is possible, where are all the time travelers from the future?”

There’s actually an interesting  philosophy website that tackles this question head on.

Meanwhile, another website, Stranger Dimensions, offers a handful of photos as possible evidence of time travel. The photos range from a 400-year-old-Chinese coffin with a rare Swiss watch inside to a woman on a cell phone in a Charlie Chaplin movie. You decide!

BUT . . . after you decide, see this list of debunked time travel myths. Of course, that still leaves the watch in the Chinese tomb as the most puzzling source of evidence yet.

 

 

NASA’s Curiosity Sparks Bizarre Mars Chatter Amid True Beauty

From a large circular boulder to UFO-like objects in the sky, the Internet is abuzz with rumors and speculation about various anomalies captured by NASA’s Curiosity rover on Mars.

Here’s a Huffington Post article that includes some interesting video and slideshows.

Of course, some of these very anomalies have already been debunked, as this article on NBC news shows, including a horizon anomaly (aka impact cloud), flying saucers (aka dead pixels), white dot UFOs (aka photoshopped), ancient fingers/shoes/animals (aka rocks), and so on. I’m still waiting to hear about the above-mentioned boulder (pictured).

But amid all this chatter about strange sightings, some true beauty has been captured, as in this photo below (which looks a lot like some terrain I visited in Iceland). Additional stunning photos can be found in this CBS News article.

 

 

As an aside, did you know that a day on Mars is 40 minutes longer than a day on Earth? Who says you can’t buy time? I’m ready to move there. Maybe I’ll get more done.  Apparently, NASA personnel working on the project, are supposed to set their clocks according to Mars time, and one family of a NASA flight director for the mission has followed suit.

Mystery Package to Be Opened in Norway

A 100-year-old mystery package left by a local politician  is set to be opened this Friday, August 31st 2012, in a small village in Norway.

The man, Johan Nygard, left the package with the mayor on August 26th 1912 with instructions not to open it until 100 years from then.  He claimed the contents would “benefit and delight future generations.” Whether he meant in that village alone or the entire world remains to be seen.

Interestingly enough, someone actually remembered that it’s supposed to be opened. I can’t even remember to take the trash out on Sundays.

In a touch of “life imitating art,” readers of The Kronos Interference may notice a slight parallel, as the book has its own mystery package plot element.

Here’s the full article.

The Real Jurassic Park – Mutant Mosquitoes Gone Wild

In a “life imitates art” scenario, a biotechnology firm is working with the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District to introduce genetically engineered mosquitoes into Key West to reduce the spread of dengue fever.

Turns out a specific breed of mosquito (Aedes aegypti) is the culprit for spreading dengue fever, and the plan is for genetically engineered sterile male mosquitoes to fly in, outnumber the virile males, and mate with the females.

Interesting idea. The proposal involves releasing 5,000-10,000 of these babies as an initial test, followed by a larger test of , oh let’s say… one million of them in Key West. What could go wrong?

Ian Malcolm of Jurassic Park fame would have a field day with this one. I can just hear him now:

“Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should”

At the very least, I could see some interesting sci-fi twists on this. For the full article, click here. Oh, and in honor of this news, here’s a list of Ian Malcolm quotes.

Human Origins Tied to Sharks – Something’s Fishy

According to researchers, a now extinct bony fish species that evolved from sharks some 460 million years ago is the common ancestor of all jawed vertebrates, including humans. Check out the latest research on human-shark ancestry here.

This is especially interesting when you look at it from the context of ancient Sumerian myths, which talk of amphibious demi-gods called Apkallu that emerged from the sea to teach humans about civilization, the solar systems, gardening, and other bits of wisdom.

With all the space research under way, are we looking in the right place? As Chief Brody said, “We’re gonna need a bigger boat.”

In other water-related news, NASA has reported a giant tropical salt lake on Titan, one of Saturn’s moons.  The only catch is, the lake is filled with liquid hydrocarbons, as the surface temperature is -297 degrees Fahrenheit (-183 degrees Celsius).  So you’ll need a sweater.