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Mysterious white light on Mars seen in NASA photo

By Chris Ciaccia | Fox News

NASA has released a photo taken by its Curiosity rover that shows a mysterious, unexplained white light on Mars.

The black-and-white raw image was taken by the rover’s right “navcam” (which acts as sort of an eye) on June 16, 2019 or Sol 2438, and transmitted back to Earth. The navcam snapped the picture at 03:53:59 UTC.

The rover has two navcams and 17 cameras and it has been sending photographs continuously since it landed on the Red Planet in August 2012, nearly seven years ago.

(Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

(Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

It’s unclear exactly what the white spot on the photograph is, as images taken almost immediately before and after do not show the mysterious white light. The images below, also released publicly, were taken at 03:53:46 UTC and 03:54:12 UTC.

This image was snapped by Curiosity at 3:53:46 UTC. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This image was snapped by Curiosity at 3:53:46 UTC. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This image was snapped by Curiosity at 03:54:12 UTC. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This image was snapped by Curiosity at 03:54:12 UTC. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This is not the first time an anomaly of this sort has been spotted by Curiosity on Mars. In 2014, a separate mysterious white spot was seen by the rover on April 3, or Sol 589. At the time, JPL scientist Dr. Justin Maki said he believed the light could be a glint from the “rock surface reflecting the Sun.”

In December 2018, Curiosity detected a “shiny” object which may be a meteorite, but NASA researchers were not sure at the time. “The planning team thinks it might be a meteorite because it is so shiny,” NASA wrote in a November 2018 mission update. “But looks can deceive, and proof will only come from the chemistry.”

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Ancient city gate from the time of King David discovered in Israel

The find was made during an excavation at the ancient city of Bethsaida. “There are not too many monumental discoveries dating from the reign of King David,” Rami Arav, associate professor at the University of Nebraska and Bethsaida excavation director, told Fox News via email. “This is absolutely a significant contribution to biblical archaeology and biblical studies.”

Arav explained that Bethsaida was founded in the 11th century B.C. as a pre-planned city and the capital of the Biblical kingdom of Geshur. “The city included a place, granary, city walls, city gate, a high place in the city gate, and a cobblestones courtyard in front of the gate,” he said.

The city was destroyed in 920 B.C. “Since this is the period of time of King David and since the Bible narrates that King David married Maachah the daughter of Talmai the king of Geshur, it is reasonable that King David walked on these very cobblestones when he visited the city,” Arav added.

King David bearing the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem depicted in the early 16th century. From a private collection.

King David bearing the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem depicted in the early 16th century. From a private collection.(Photo by Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images)

An ancient stele, or monumental stone slab, was discovered adjacent to the gate’s tower. The stele depicts the Moon-god worshipped by the ancient Aramean people.

Arav explained that the discoveries were made during the 32nd season of excavations in the ancient city. The project was initially sponsored by Israel’s Haifa University, then by the University of Nebraska at Omaha. It is now sponsored by the Hebrew Union College in Jerusalem.

The Jerusalem Post reports that a gate discovered at the site last year likely dates from the First Temple period when the city was known as Zer.

In a separate project, last year archaeologists in Israel uncovered an ancient site that may offer fresh insight into the biblical kingdom of David and Solomon.  The kingdom is described in the Hebrew Bible but has long divided historians.

While some experts believe that it existed in the 10th century B.C., others have questioned its existence, citing a lack of evidence of royal construction at the center of the region where the kingdom is said to have existed.

However, part of the building at Tel ‘Eton in the Judean foothills has been dated to a period in history that coincided with the supposed joint kingdom, according to a study published in the journal Radiocarbon.

In another project, soldiers at a paratrooper base in Southern Israel recently uncovered a Biblical-era watchtower.

The watchtower, which dates back to the 8th century B.C., was revealed during recent excavations by Israel Defense Forces troops working under the direction of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers

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Mysterious Nazca Lines reveal their secrets

Scientists are shedding new light on the mysterious Nazca Lines etched in the desert of southern Peru, revealing what some of the drawings actually depict.

UNESCO World Heritage Site located about 249 miles south of Lima, the Lines are regarded as one of archaeology’s great mysteries. The lines are scratched into the dark ground to reveal the lighter-colored earth underneath, and are best viewed from the air. They depict a range of animals, plants, imaginary beings and geometric figures.

Experts from the Hokkaido University Museum, the Yamashina Institute for Ornithology and Yamagata University in Japan studied the 16 bird geoglyphs among the more than 2,000 drawings in the area.

“Until now, the birds in these drawings have been identified based on general impressions or a few morphological traits present in each figure,” said Masaki Eda of the Hokkaido University Museum, in a statement. “We closely noted the shapes and relative sizes of the birds’ beaks, heads, necks, bodies, wings, tails and feet and compared them with those of modern birds in Peru.”

The research re-classified a previously identified hummingbird as a hermit.

The research re-classified a previously identified hummingbird as a hermit. (Masaki Eda)

The scientists were then able to reclassify some of the drawings. One famous shape carved into the desert, long thought to be a hummingbird, actually depicts a hermit, they say. Another drawing, which was previously thought to be a guano bird, is actually a pelican, as is another long unidentified bird among the drawings.

“The Nasca people who drew the images could have seen pelicans while food-gathering on the coast,” Eda explained. “Our findings show that they drew exotic birds, not local birds, and this could be a clue as to why they drew them in the first place.”

Etched into the ground by pre-Inca people, the Nazca Lines date from 400 B.C. to 1000 A.D. Mystery, however, still swirls around why they were created. Theories include that they are a primitive Sun calendar, an irrigation system or even an alien landing strip, according to LiveScience.

With its long and thin bill, short legs, three toes facing the same direction, and the long tail with an elongated middle section, the previously identified hummingbird is re-classified as a hermit. In Peru, long and pointed tails only occur in hermits whereas the tails of typical hummingbirds are forked or fan-shaped. (Eda M., Yamasaki T., Sakai M. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports. June 20, 2019)

With its long and thin bill, short legs, three toes facing the same direction, and the long tail with an elongated middle section, the previously identified hummingbird is re-classified as a hermit. In Peru, long and pointed tails only occur in hermits whereas the tails of typical hummingbirds are forked or fan-shaped. (Eda M., Yamasaki T., Sakai M. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports. June 20, 2019)

The researchers’ study is published in the Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports.

Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers

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1880: The Arm of the Statue of Liberty on Separate Display

C. 1880: THE ARM OF THE STATUE OF LIBERTY IN MADISON SQUARE GARDENS, NEW YORK


In order to fund the Statue, elements of it were shipped from Paris to New York and exhibited to the public – such as the the arm and torch, on display here in Madison Square Park, New York.

The arm and torch could be seen in there for six years, from 1876 and 1882 – and for 50 cents, it was possible to climb up to the torch’s balcony.

 

retronaut-content-torch.jpg

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Neolithic people made fake islands more than 5,600 years ago

Hundreds of tiny islands around Scotland didn’t arise naturally. They’re fakes that were constructed out of boulders, clay and timbers by Neolithic people about 5,600 years ago, a new study finds.

Researchers have known about these artificial islands, known as crannogs, for decades. But many archaeologists thought that the crannogs were made more recently, in the Iron Age about 2,800 years ago.

 The new finding not only shows that these crannogs are much older than previously thought but also that they were likely “special locations” for Neolithic people, according to nearby pottery fragments found by modern divers, the researchers wrote in the study.

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Did Van Gogh shoot himself? Auction of pistol reignites debate.

The auction of a pistol said to have been used by the painter Vincent van Gogh to shoot himself has reignited a debate about who actually pulled the trigger: Did Van Gogh commit suicide, or was he shot by someone else?

The gun will be auctioned in France on Wednesday (June 19), where it’s expected to sell for more than $50,000.

For years, most Van Gogh experts have accepted the explanation that he shot himself in the chest with a pistol in a suicide in July 1890. [30 of the World’s Most Valuable Treasures That Are Still Missing]

Such a gun was found more than 70 years later, in a field near the French farming village of Auvers-sur-Oise where Van Gogh died, and it has widely been accepted as the weapon he used to shoot himself.

Van Gogh lived on for 30 hours before dying from the wound. His last words, according to his brother Theo, were “the sadness will last forever.”

In the years since his death, the Dutch expressionist painter, who cut off his left ear in a dispute with the painter Paul Gauguin has become the archetype of a despairing, suicidal artist overcome by depression.

But in 2011, biographers Gregory White Smith and Steven Naifeh argued that Van Gogh didn’t shoot himself, but was shot accidentally by 16-year-old René Secrétan, who was spending the summer in the village.

According to their biography “Van Gogh: The Life” (Random House, 2011), Secrétan and his brother both befriended and bullied Van Gogh when he stayed at Auvers — and that Secrétan possessed the gun involved.

Based on a number of lingering mysteries about the last hours of Van Gogh’s life, the authors proposed that the artist was shot during a scuffle with Secrétan; then, he implied that he had shot himself, in order to cover for the boys, they wrote in an essay in Vanity Fair.

The theory that Van Gogh was shot by another is disputed by some experts on the life of the artist. But Naifeh told Live Science that he was more convinced than ever that Secrétan shot Van Gogh.

Mystery weapon

The gun being auctioned in Paris next week is a Belgian-made 7mm Lefaucheux revolver — a popular small caliber handgun at that time.

The gun matches the description of the 7mm bullet taken from Van Gogh’s body by his doctor, and it is theorized that its low power may be why Van Gogh didn’t die immediately but staggered back to his hotel with the bullet still lodged in his chest.

The pistol was found by a farmer in 1965 — 75 years after Van Gogh’s death — in a field at Auvers, badly corroded and beyond use. It was then given to the family who owned the hotel where Van Gogh died.

Grégoire Veyrès, the auctioneer for Auction Art who is conducting the sale, told Live Science that an investigation by the writer Alain Rohan determined that the corroded weapon had been buried in the ground for at least 50 years. [In Photos: Van Gogh Masterpiece Reveals True Colors]

Rohan’s investigative work was accepted as valid by the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, which displayed the gun in a 2016 exhibition about the artist’s mental illness, Veyrès said.

According to Van Gogh expert Martin Bailey, who writes regularly on the artist for the Art Newspaper in London, the gun is accepted among many Van Gogh scholars as the weapon that he used to take his own life.

Death debated

According to Van Gogh expert Martin Bailey, who writes regularly on the artist for the Art Newspaper in London, the gun is accepted among many Van Gogh scholars as the weapon that he used to take his own life.

“I believe it highly likely, although not certain, that it is the actual gun,” Bailey told Live Science, adding that the Van Gogh Museum had also stated there was a “strong possibility” that this was the gun he used.

While the 2011 biography by Smith and Naifeh was “excellent,” he said, many Van Gogh experts didn’t accept their theory.

“I am convinced that it was suicide, not murder or manslaughter,” he said. “Van Gogh’s family and close friends believed it was suicide.”

Naifeh, who won a Pulitzer Prize with Smith in 1991 for their biography of the American painter Jackson Pollock, said his discussions with forensic experts had strengthened his belief that Secrétan shot the artist.

“I have only become more convinced that it is more likely that he was shot in a scuffle than that he wasn’t,” he told Live Science.

Naifeh noted that there was no evidence linking the gun either to Van Gogh or to the manner of his death.

“What forensic evidence is there to tie Vincent van Gogh to this gun? And, even if there were forensic evidence tying Vincent to this gun, what does this say about who pulled the trigger?” he asked: “Those are the two big questions, and I do not see any answers.”

Although Van Gogh is one of the most famous artists in the world — one of his paintings of a farmed field, completed a year before his death, sold for $81 million in 2017 — he sold only one painting during his lifetime, for 400 francs.

The most expensive Van Gogh painting to date was sold for $82 million in 1990, the “Portrait of Dr. Gachet” from 1890. Gachet was the doctor who would ultimately attend his death later that year.

Original article on Live Science.

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Scientists develop new laser that can find and destroy cancer cells in the blood

Cancer cells can spread to other parts of the body through the blood. And now, researchers have developed a new kind of laser that can find and zap those tumor cells from the outside of the skin.

Though it may still be a ways away from becoming a commercial diagnostic tool, the laser is up to 1,000 times more sensitive than current methods used to detect tumor cells in blood, the researchers reported June 12 in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

If the tests do come back positive, that typically means there’s a high concentration of circulating tumor cells in the blood; at that point, the cancer has likely spread widely to other organs and it’s often “too late to effectively treat patients,” Zharov added. [Top 10 Cancer-Fighting Foods]

Years ago, Zharov and his team came up with the idea of an alternate, noninvasive method to test larger quantities of blood with a greater sensitivity. Taking the familiar route, they tested it in the lab, then on animals and recently brought it to clinical trials in humans.

The new technology, dubbed the Cytophone, uses pulses of laser light on the outside of the skin to heat up cells in the blood. But the laser only heats up melanoma cells — not healthy cells — because these cells carry a dark pigment called melanin, which absorbs the light. The Cytophone then uses an ultrasound technique to detect the teensy, tiny waves emitted by this heating effect.

They tested the technology on 28 light-skinned patients who had melanoma and on 19 healthy volunteers who didn’t have melanoma. They shone the laser onto the patients’ hands and found that within 10 seconds to 60 minutes, the technology could identify circulating tumor cells in 27 out of 28 of those volunteers.

Finding and killing tumor cells

The device didn’t return any false positives on the healthy volunteers, and it didn’t cause safety concerns or side effects, they said. Melanin is a pigment that is normally present in the skin, but skin cells aren’t harmed, Zharov said. Even though the skin produces melanin naturally, this laser technique doesn’t harm those cells. That’s because the laser light exposes a relatively a large area on the skin (so it’s not focused enough on individual skin cells to damage them), while the laser energy is more concentrated on the blood vessels and circulating tumor cells, he added.

Unexpectedly, the team also found that after the treatment, the cancer patients had fewer circulating tumor cells. “We used a relatively low energy” with the primary purpose of diagnosing rather than treating the cancer, Zharov said. Yet, even at that low energy, the laser beam seemed able to destroy the cancer cells.

Here’s how it works: As the melanin absorbs the heat, the water around the melanin inside the cells begins to evaporate, producing a bubble that expands and collapses, mechanically destroying the cell, Zharov said.

“Our goal is by killing these cells, we can help prevent the spreading of metastatic cancer,” he said. But he hopes to conduct more research to optimize the device further to kill more tumor cells, while still being harmless to other cells.

They also haven’t yet tested the device on people with darker skin, who have higher levels of melanin. Even so, only a very small percentage of African Americans get melanoma.

The team hopes to expand the technology to find circulating tumor cells released by cancers other than melanoma. These cancer cells don’t carry melanin, so to detect them, the researchers would first need to inject the patients with specific markers or molecules that would bind to these cells so that they can be targeted by the laser. They have so far demonstrated that this technique could work on human breast cancer cells in the lab.

Originally published on Live Science.

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