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Scientists issue dire warning about tomb of Jesus

Few places are more holy to Christians than what’s thought to be Christ’s tomb in Jerusalem, but scientists are now warning that there’s a “very real risk” of collapse at the site.

Researchers from the National Technical University of Athens say the Edicule, a shrine that encloses the cave where the faithful believe Jesus was buried and resurrected, faces “catastrophic” collapse if issues aren’t remedied soon, National Geographic reports.

The Edicule itself is inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Scientists discovered the decaying foundation—which they say is further destabilized by the fact that it’s built on rubble and atop a network of tunnels and channels—during a months-long, $4 million restoration project that was unveiled earlier this week.

“This is a complete transformation of the monument,” Bonnie Burnham, an ex-chief for the World Monuments Fund, said Monday at the unveiling, per the AP.

During the renovation, however, extensive structural problems were uncovered by camera bots and ground-penetrating radar. The general instability of the site has been known for almost a hundred years, but varying Christian sects have been fighting over who has custody of the site and didn’t come to a restoration agreement until March 2016.

What the NTUA says is needed now: a new $6.5 million project that could take close to another year as workers grout rotting mortar and install sewage and rainwater drainage systems around the shrine.

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Walking dead? Medieval villagers zombie-proofed their corpses

Here, knife-marks can been seen on the surfaces of two rib fragments. Cut-marks and chop-marks are the bones suggest the bodies had been mutilated after death.

Here, knife-marks can been seen on the surfaces of two rib fragments. Cut-marks and chop-marks are the bones suggest the bodies had been mutilated after death.  (Historic England)

Zombies are hardly a modern preoccupation. For centuries, people have been worried about corpses rising from their graves to torment the living. Now, archaeologists in England think they’ve found evidence of medieval methods to prevent the dead from walking.

The researchers revisited a pit of human remains that had been dug up at Wharram Percy, an abandoned village in North Yorkshire that dates back to nearly 1,000 years ago. The corpses had been burned and mutilated after death, and the archaeologists offered two possible explanations: either the condition of the corpses was due to cannibalism, or the bodies were dismembered to ensure they wouldn’t walk from their graves, according to the study published April 2 in the Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports.

Study leader Simon Mays, a human-skeletal biologist at Historic England, said the idea that the bones “are the remains of corpses burnt and dismembered to stop them walking from their graves seems to fit the evidence best.” [See Photos of the ‘Zombie’ Burial at Wharram Percy]

People at the time believed that reanimation could occur when individuals who had a strong life force committed evil deeds before death, or when individuals experienced a sudden or violent death, Mays and his colleagues wrote. To stop these corpses from haunting the living, English medieval texts suggest that bodies would be dug up and subjected to mutilation and burning.

When the jumbled bones were first excavated in the 1960s, they were originally interpreted as dating from earlier, perhaps Roman-era, burials that were inadvertently disturbed and reburied by villagers in the late Middle Ages. The bones were buried in unconsecrated ground, after all —near a house and not in the official cemetery.

However, radiocarbon dating showed that the bones were contemporary with the medieval town, and chemical analyses revealed that the bones came from people who were local to the region.

What happened to the corpses after death could rival scenes from a gory zombie movie.

The bones from Wharram Percy came from at least 10 people between the ages of 2 and 50, according to the new study. Burning patterns from experiments with cadavers suggest that the bodies were set ablaze when the bones still had flesh on them. (A fleshed corpse was thought to be more threatening than a bare skeleton.) The scientists also found cut marks consistent with dismemberment, and chop marks that suggest the skeletons were decapitated after death.

“If we are right, then this is the first good archaeological evidence we have for this practice,” Mays said in a statement , referring to the zombie-safety precautions. “It shows us a dark side of medieval beliefs and provides a graphic reminder of how different the medieval view of the world was from our own.”

Stephen Gordon , a scholar of medieval and early-modern supernatural belief, who was not involved in the study, said he found the interpretation plausible. [7 Strange Ways Humans Act Like Vampires]

“Although, of course, one cannot discount the possibility that cannibalism was indeed a cause, I do think the evidence veers toward a local belief in the dangerous dead,” Gordon told Live Science in an email.

Gordon noted that several examples of revenants, or reanimated corpses , come from 12th-century northern English sources, so archaeological evidence from Yorkshire from around 1100 to 1300 is certainly to be expected.

There are still some mysteries concerning the bones, the authors of the study noted, such as how the human remains ended up together in this particular pit, especially since they span the 11th to 13th centuries. It’s also unclear why, if the corpses were feared, they would be reburied in a domestic context.

What’s more, revenants, at least according to written English sources, were commonly associated with males, but skeletons from both sexes and children were found in the pit. Gordon, however, doesn’t think this should invalidate the walking-dead argument.

“The written evidence in English chronicles and saints’ lives, which focus on male revenants, represents just a small (and highly constructed) snapshot of the realities of everyday belief,” Gordon said in the email.

A bishop of the Holy Roman Empire, Burchard of Worms, writing around A.D. 1000, “alludes to the fact that children who died before baptism, or women who died in childbirth, were believed to walk after death and needed to be ‘transfixed,'” Gordon said. He pointed to another case, from the 14th-century Bohemian chronicler Neplach of Opatovice, in which a female walking corpse had to be cremated. “As such, it is possible that female corpses were indeed believed to walk after death in England.”

The bones from Wharram Percy might not represent the very first revenant burial found in Europe. In several so-called ” vampire burials ” in a 17th-century Polish cemetery, the corpses have sickles around their necks. One interpretation is that the blades were meant to keep the dead from rising.

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Man who lived 700 years ago gets brand-new face

(Credit: Dr. Chris Rynn, University of Dundee)

(Credit: Dr. Chris Rynn, University of Dundee)

Gizmodo calls his face “haunting,” but to UK researchers, seeing the mug of the man known as Context 958 is nothing short of astounding. His visage was revealed at the two-week-long Cambridge Science Festival this month, as were details about who he was: in short, a 13th-century working-class man who died in middle age, had apparently lived a life of indigence, and whose face was reconstructed by scientists based on his teeth and bones, per a Cambridge press release.

Context 958’s skeleton, analyzed as part of the university’s “After the Plague” project, was discovered along with about 400 others between 2010 and 2012 in a medieval-era graveyard underneath one of the college’s schools.

The bodies, which date from the 1200s to the 1400s, came from the Hospital of St. John the Evangelist, which used to exist across from the cemetery.

Context 958, who was found buried face-down in his burial spot, is believed to have been a few ticks older than 40 and boasted a “robust skeleton with a lot of wear and tear,” which means he likely had a physically challenging job, says Cambridge professor John Robb.

However, unlike others who lived in poverty, Context 958 appears to have chowed down on meat and fish, suggesting that he worked in a specialized niche that gave him access to this ample food supply.

What makes the discovery of his body and others in the same demographic notable, Robb says, is that it gives researchers a chance to study how the poor lived in England more than 700 years ago.

“The less money and property you had, the less likely anybody was to ever write down anything about you,” he notes. (This living man’s face was reconstructed using 3D printing.)

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Tanks a bullion! Man finds gold bars buried in military vehicle

A tank fanatic got a new model in a £30,000 [$37,000] trade-in — and found more than £2million of gold bullion hidden in the fuel tank.

Nick Mead, 55, discovered the five gold bars in the Russian T54/69 while restoring it to add to his collection of 150 military vehicles.

He and mechanic Todd Chamberlain were filming themselves prising open the diesel tank in case they found munitions and needed to show it to bomb disposal crews.

Instead, they pulled out the bars, weighing up to 12 pounds — 5kg — apiece.

Todd, 50, said a quick calculation suggested they were worth in excess of £2million [$2.5 million].

He added: “We didn’t know what to do. You can’t exactly take five gold bullion bars down to Cash Converters without questions being asked, so we called the police.”

Nick runs Tanks-a-Lot, giving petrol-heads the chance to drive any of his tanks on his farm in Helmdon, Northants.

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Here’s how ‘invisible armor’ could defeat bullets and blades

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The NRL-developed transparent polymer armor consists of alternating layers of elastomeric polymer and a harder material substrate. Very small crystalline domains, which also provide rigidity, give the polymer its transparency. (U.S. Naval Research Laboratory)

The NRL-developed transparent polymer armor consists of alternating layers of elastomeric polymer and a harder material substrate. Very small crystalline domains, which also provide rigidity, give the polymer its transparency. (U.S. Naval Research Laboratory)

Ever wonder if there was such a thing as transparent armor? It sounds like something straight out of a comic book, but it’s something the Navy has actually created.

U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) scientists have created a remarkable transparent armor that is lightweight and still provides excellent protection.

Nearly as transparent as glass, the armor is essentially invisible protection from bullets. And if the armor surface is damaged, warfighters could fix it on the fly with something as simple as a hot plate and the armor will meld itself back together.

Think about how “bulletproof glass” (a misnomer since it is often only bullet resistant) works – you can see through it and it stops bullets.

Now what if you could do that for body armor and helmets? That’s the idea here.

This next-generation armor advance could also amp up transparent bulletproof walls to protect tourist attractions from the attacks we’ve seen in Paris and most recently, in London.

What’s the armor made of?

The transparent polymer armor gets its transparency from something known as tiny crystalline domains. The armor itself is made up of alternating layers of elastomeric polymer combined with a harder material substrate.

NRL scientists conducted tests using polymeric materials as a coating to try to enhance impact resistance.

By applying layers of the special materials to body armor and helmets, the result was better protection for warriors against bullets.

The armor also helped reduce the impact of blast waves caused by something like an IED explosion, which could potentially help prevent brain trauma.

When a bullet hits the armor

If you picture a windshield that has been struck by a rock kicked up while driving, the rock’s impact may cause damage that makes it difficult to see through the windshield.

One of the amazing things about this see-through armor is that when it’s struck by a projectile, such as a bullet, it still retains its lucid nature. There’s virtually no impact on visibility and the damage is limited only to the spot where the bullet connected with the armor.

Repair vs. replace 

The possibility exists that this futuristic body armor could be ironed back into shape after it sustained some hits, because of the material used to create it.

The material needs to be heated to around 100 degrees Celsius, which then causes it to become hot enough to melt the tiny crystallites. By heating the material, any impact from the bullet can be melded back together and returned to its normal state. Scientists believe that this sort of repair will not impact how the armor performs.

Easy, fast repairs can be a great advantage for warfighters operating in remote locations and it can save money by repairing rather than replacing.

Implications for protecting against global terror attacks

In a scenario like the recent London attack, lightweight body armor approaches like the aforementioned can be very useful to protect armed officers from bladed weapons, bullets and other threats while the reduced weight can improve their speed, agility and flexibility of response.

Like the Capitol building in the US, armed officers protect the building and those working in and visiting the building. Based on the information provided publicly thus far, the terrorist wielded a bladed weapon and attacked British officers. One officer was tragically killed.

Guns and explosive devices are not the only methods of attack used by Islamic extremist terrorists. In Europe, terrorist plots and attacks have increasingly involved bladed weapons on foot as well the weaponization of vehicles.

Islamic extremist groups such as al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and the Islamic State group have been actively promoting these sorts of attack methods.

Just last month in Paris, a terrorist tried to launch an attack with machetes at the popular tourist site of the Louvre museum. A French soldier stopped him before there were any casualties.

In 2013, two terrorists drove at British Army soldier Fusilier Lee Rigby, who was walking a street in England. The terrorists then exited the vehicle, attacked him with blades and murdered him by hacking him to death.

Invisible Walls?

Ultimately, advances like NRLs in transparent armor could play a vital role in amping up “invisible” walls could be used to stop both people and vehicles from storming sites and areas. By enhancing protection, it could help prevent attacks and casualties.

Paris recently announced they are building an eight-foot bulletproof glass wall around the Eiffel Tower. Why? Tourist sites are attractive targets for terrorists. The goal is to stop not just bullets but prevent vehicles loaded with bombs from gaining access.

Transparent armor-ed up walls mean tourists can still enjoy an uninterrupted view while benefiting from enhanced protection.

Advanced armor like this can also become a deterrent to future attacks.

 

Allison Barrie consults at the highest levels of defense, has travelled to more than 70 countries, is a lawyer with four postgraduate degrees and now the author of the new book “Future Weapons: Access Granted”  covering invisible tanks through to thought-controlled fighter jets. You can click here for more information on FOX Firepower columnist and host Allison Barrie and you can follow her on Twitter @allison_barrie.

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Scientists discover world’s most ancient fossils

Scientists have discovered tiny fossils that are thinner than a human hair and are an astounding 3.7 billion years old, making them the oldest known fossils on Earth, University College London announced on Wednesday. They could even be as old as 4.2 billion years.

The fossils were likely created by bacteria that lived near hydrothermal vents and consumed iron. Those ancient critters lived an incredible 3.8 to 4.3 billion years ago.

“Our discovery supports the idea that life emerged from hot, seafloor vents shortly after planet Earth formed,”  Matthew Dodd, a PhD student at the University College London and the first author of a new study about the fossils, said in a statement. “This speedy appearance of life on Earth fits with other evidence of recently discovered 3,700 million year old sedimentary mounds that were shaped by microorganisms.”

The scientists found the fossils in a part of Quebec, Canada, known for having ancient sedimentary rock. The little fossils are much older than their closest competitors.

“The microfossils we discovered are about 300 million years older than the previously thought oldest microfossils,” Dominic Papineau, a lecturer at University College London and the study’s lead researcher, said in a video announcing the find. “So there are within a few hundred million years from the accretion of the solar system.”

In the statement, Papineau described these tiny fossils— they’re less than a millimeter long— as “direct evidence of one of Earth’s oldest life forms.”

Planet Earth itself is believed to be 4.5 billion years old.

One of the most exciting ramifications of the find is that since it shows that life began on Earth so long ago, perhaps the same thing could have happened in other places in our solar system— like Mars.

“These discoveries demonstrate life developed on Earth at a time when Mars and Earth had liquid water at their surfaces, posing exciting questions for extra-terrestrial life,” Dodd said, in the statement. “Therefore, we expect to find evidence for past life on Mars 4,000 million years ago, or if not, Earth may have been a special exception.”

The discovery was reported in a study published online Wednesday in the journal Nature.

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Cosplay Pictures for Your Enjoyment!

Cosplayers and cosplay for your enjoyment!

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