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Tag Archives: James Rogers

Apollo 11: How ‘dumb luck’ saved iconic Moon photos from being destroyed

By James Rogers | Fox News

The Apollo 11 Moon landing produced some of the most iconic photographs ever taken. However, a processing glitch in Houston when the films were returned to Earth nearly caused a “photographic catastrophe” of truly epic proportions.

“One of the 20th century’s defining moments was almost lost to posterity,” explains Zeiss, the company that provided camera lenses for Apollo 11, on its website. The Apollo 11 images, it adds, arrived in Houston shortly after the crew’s return from the Moon.

“However, before the moon photos were developed, the processing equipment was checked one more time with a test film,” Zeiss said. During this inspection the film processor suddenly started leaking ethylene oxide, destroying the test film.

“This turned out to be a blessing: thanks to this final test, the development team quickly fixed the defect and could successfully develop the images of the first Moon landing,” the lens maker explained. “The photographs taken during the moon missions were published around the world and made history.”

In this July 20, 1969 photo made available by NASA, astronaut Buzz Aldrin, lunar module pilot, walks on the surface of the moon during the Apollo 11 extravehicular activity.

In this July 20, 1969 photo made available by NASA, astronaut Buzz Aldrin, lunar module pilot, walks on the surface of the moon during the Apollo 11 extravehicular activity. (Neil Armstrong/NASA via AP)

It is not clear how many Apollo 11 photos would have been impacted if the ethylene oxide had leaked onto actual film from the mission. A vast array of photographs was captured during the historic mission. These include Neil Armstrong’s iconic shot of Buzz Aldrin on the lunar surface, with the Apollo 11 mission commander reflected in Aldrin’s visor, and also the famous image of Aldrin’s boot print.

“The orbital and surface lunar photographs obtained during Apollo 11 the Apollo 11 mission were of good quality, resolution, and contrast,” explained NASA, in a report released in 1970. This included 1,359 frames of 70-mm photography and 17 pairs of lunar surface stereoscopic photographs.

Neither NASA nor Kodak, which provided film for Apollo 11, was able to shed any light on the incident when contacted by Fox News.

Buzz Aldrin's footprint on the lunar surface. (NASA)

Buzz Aldrin’s footprint on the lunar surface. (NASA)

However, in Billy Watkins’ book “Apollo Moon Missions: The Unsung Heroes,” Richard Underwood, NASA’s chief of photography during the Apollo 11 mission, described how the ethylene oxide had leaked onto the test film and melted it.

“The spacecraft was about to splashdown, and we were running through one final test on the film processor, which had been checked hundreds of times before,” he said.

“It was just pure dumb luck that we decided to do one more test on that processor. Had Armstrong’s film been put in there without that last test, it would’ve eaten it up,” Underwood added. “It would’ve been the greatest photographic catastrophe in the history of the planet.”

A stainless steel cover, he explained, was built to prevent any future leaks on the precious film.

July 20, 2019 marked the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing.

Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers

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‘Undisturbed’ Roman-era shipwreck discovered off Cyprus

By James Rogers | Fox News

Archaeologists have discovered the wreck of a Roman-era ship off the east coast of Cyprus.

In a statement, Cyprus’ Department of Antiquities explained that the wreck is the first undisturbed Roman shipwreck found in the Mediterranean island nation’s waters. The ship is loaded with amphorae, or large ancient jars, which are likely from Syria and ancient Cilicia on modern-day Turkey’s southeastern coast.

Analysis of the shipwreck will shed new light on seaborne trade between Cyprus and the rest of the Roman provinces of the eastern Mediterranean, officials explained in the statement.

The wreck was found near the resort town of Protaras by a pair of volunteer divers with the University of Cyprus’ archaeological research unit.

The shipwreck was discovered off the coast of Eastern Cyprus.

The shipwreck was discovered off the coast of Eastern Cyprus. (Republic of Cyprus, Department of Antiquities)

It’s also the first time an underwater archaeological project is fully funded by the Cyprus government.

A team from the Maritime Archaeological Research Laboratory at the University of Cyprus is working with the Department of Antiquities and Cyprus University of Technology to document and protect the site.

Other Roman shipwrecks have been grabbing attention in recent years. In 2017, for example, archaeologists in Egypt discovered three Roman-era shipwrecks and other stunning ancient artifacts on the Mediterranean seafloor off the coast of Alexandria.

Climate change researchers working in the Black Sea also discovered 60 shipwrecks dating back 2,500 years, which include vessels from the Roman and Byzantine eras.

Off the coast of Portugal, the Underwater Archaeological Chart of the Municipality of Cascais contains a host of shipwrecks dating back to the Roman era.

The Associated Press contributed to this article. Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers

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Mysterious dinosaur remains discovered in Colorado are from an adult triceratops, experts confirm

The fossilized remains of a dinosaur that was discovered at a Colorado construction site last month have been identified as a triceratops.

The fossils were found last month at a construction site near a retirement community in Highlands Ranch. In a statement, the Denver Museum of Nature and Science said that the remains were found in a rock layer that dates to between 66 million and 68 million years ago.

A limb bone and several ribs were the first fossils to be uncovered from what paleontologists described as a horned dinosaur.

Natalie Toth, the Museum’s chief fossil preparator, has confirmed that the remains are from an adult Triceratops, a Museum spokeswoman told Fox News.

The dinosaur dig. (Denver Museum of Nature & Science)

The dinosaur dig. (Denver Museum of Nature & Science)

Citing the museum, Fox 31 reports that the triceratops could have been 30 feet long, weighing up to 13,000 pounds.

In 2017, a fossilized torosaurus skull was found at a construction site in Thornton, Colorado.

Other dinosaur discoveries have been getting plenty of attention recently. Researchers, for example, have discovered the fossilized remains of a herd of dinosaurs in an opal mine in the Australian outback.

The remains have been identified as an adult triceratops. (Denver Museum of Nature & Science)

The remains have been identified as an adult triceratops. (Denver Museum of Nature & Science)

In a separate project, paleontologists in the U.S. recently named a tiny 3-foot-tall relative of the Tyrannosaurus rex.

Elsewhere, paleontologists recently discovered a new spike-armored dinosaur in Texas. Paleontologists in Canada have also touted the discovery of the world’s largest Tyrannosaurus rex.

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‘Magnificent’ baptismal font discovered at Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity, Palestinian officials say

By James Rogers | Fox News

An ancient 1,500-year-old baptismal font has been discovered during renovation work at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.

Bethlehem is Jesus’ birthplace, according to Christian tradition. The font is estimated to date back to between 501 and 600 A.D.

Ziad al-Bandak, head of a Palestinian presidential committee leading the church renovation, said Saturday that international experts are arriving in the biblical West Bank town to examine the receptacle.

Al-Bandak described the Byzantine font as a “magnificent” discovery that had been covered by the larger known vessel.

Palestinian Minister and Head of Restoration Commission for Church of the Nativity, Ziad al-Bandak (C) holds a press conference on the discovery of a baptismal font at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, West Bank on June 22, 2019.

Palestinian Minister and Head of Restoration Commission for Church of the Nativity, Ziad al-Bandak (C) holds a press conference on the discovery of a baptismal font at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, West Bank on June 22, 2019.(Photo by Wisam Hashlamoun/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

UNESCO World Heritage site, the Church of the Nativity is located about 6.2 miles south of Jerusalem. The church is built on the site identified as Jesus’ birthplace by Christian tradition.

A restoration project was launched five years ago to overcome decades of neglect at the historic church.

Palestinian news agency WAFA reports that a ceremony to celebrate the end of the restoration project, which was planned for November, has been pushed back to May 2020. The postponement will allow the three churches in charge of the Church of the Nativity to undertake a restoration of the church’s grotto, WAFA reports.

A baptismal font is discovered at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, West Bank on June 22, 2019. Baptismal font at the Church of the Nativity, considered to be the birthplace of Jesus, is estimated to be from the 501-600 A.D.

A baptismal font is discovered at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, West Bank on June 22, 2019. Baptismal font at the Church of the Nativity, considered to be the birthplace of Jesus, is estimated to be from the 501-600 A.D. (Photo by Wisam Hashlamoun/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

The baptismal font was discovered during restoration work at the Church of the Nativity.

The baptismal font was discovered during restoration work at the Church of the Nativity. (Photo by Wisam Hashlamoun/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

In a separate project at the site of an ancient city on the West Bank, archaeologists have been hunting for evidence of the tabernacle that once housed the Ark of the Covenant.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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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.

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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.

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Stone block with mysterious 12,000-year-old engravings discovered at prehistoric hunting site

Archaeologists in France have uncovered a mysterious carved stone block at a prehistoric hunting site.

The stone was found during excavations at Angouleme in southwestern France.  A number of engravings have been carved into the sandstone, including horses, deer and an aurochs, an extinct species of wild cattle.

Drawings on the stone block. (Denis Gliksman, Inrap)

Drawings on the stone block. (Denis Gliksman, Inrap)

“The most visible engraving, that of a headless horse turned to the right, occupies half the surface,” according to a translated statement from French national archeological research organization Inrap. “The rump and the saddle follow the curves of the natural edge of the stone. Very fine incisions may suggest the coat”.

The area where the stone was found was used as a hunting site by the prehistoric Azilian culture. Other items discovered at the site include tools for stripping carcasses.

Side face of the sandstone block.

Side face of the sandstone block. (Denis Gliksman, Inrap)

Experts think that the stone is about 12,000 years old. More research will be done to precisely date and gain more information from the artifact.

Other mysterious stones have been grabbing attention in France. A village in Brittany, for example, recently offered a reward to anyone who can decipher a strange inscription on a centuries-old rock.

Last year, archaeologists announced the discovery of 12,000-year-old cave drawings in Eastern France.

Fox News’ Chris Ciaccia and Madeline Farber contributed to this article.  Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers

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