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VIDEO: 'Rosberg battle psychological warfare'

BBC test - Tue, 2014-11-25 09:03
World champion Lewis Hamilton tells BBC Breakfast that his title battle with Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg became "psychological warfare".
Categories: General

VIDEO: Mental health in the workplace

BBC test - Tue, 2014-11-25 08:27
Mental health issues such as stress or depression are now the leading cause of illness in the workplace, with more than eleven million working days lost last year.
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VIDEO: Universal Credit rolled out to families

BBC test - Tue, 2014-11-25 08:24
The government's flagship welfare reform programme Universal Credit is being extended, with parents able to claim it for the first time.
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Museum buys ritually destroyed Bronze Age weapon which was used as doorstop for years

24 Hour Museum - Tue, 2014-11-25 00:00
An impractically large Bronze Age weapon, known as the Rudham Dirk and used as a doorstop after being discovered in a Norfolk field, has been secured for £41,000.
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Ben Uri acquires rare Josef Herman painting lost for more than 60 years

24 Hour Museum - Tue, 2014-11-25 00:00
Ben Uri has acquired Refugees, a rare and important early painting by Jewish émigré artist Josef Herman (1911–2000) which had been considered lost for more than 60 years.
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Warring Neanderthal and cannibal factions to battle in cinema drama at brutalist Preston Bus Station

24 Hour Museum - Tue, 2014-11-25 00:00
Having been commissioned after the Harris Museum and Art Gallery won this year's Contemporary Art Society Annual Award, Nathaniel Mellors will focus on an infamous bus station.
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VIDEO: New anti-terror measures announced

BBC test - Mon, 2014-11-24 22:34
The "time is right" for police, security and intelligence agencies to be given more powers to defend the UK, Home Secretary Theresa May has said.
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Seed dormancy, a property that prevents germination, already existed 360 million years ago

Heritage Daily - Mon, 2014-11-24 20:07
An international team of scientists, coordinated by a researcher from the U. of Granada, has found that seed dormancy (a property that prevents germination under non-favourable conditions) was a feature already present in the first seeds, 360 million years ago.

Seed dormancy is a phenomenon that has intrigued naturalists for decades, since it conditions the dynamics of natural vegetation and agricultural cycles. There are several types of dormancy, and some of them are modulated by environmental conditions in more subtle ways than others.

In an article published in the New Phytologist journal, these scientists have studied the evolution of dormancy in seeds using a unique data group. This included the features of dormancy in more than 14.000 species. It is the result of Carol and Jerry Baskin’s work, the co-authors of this publication, who have been studying latency since the 60s.

The analyses conducted by this team of researchers have established that dormancy is as old as seeds themselves. In other words, the oldest among all seeds already had dormancy. ‘Of all possible types of dormancy, the oldest one already featured very sophisticated adjustments to environmental conditions”, according to the coordinator of this project, Rafael Rubio de Casas, a researcher from the Environment Department at the University of Granada, and the only Spaniard involved in this research.

Producing new species

The results of this project indicate that plants without dormancy tend to be less capable of diversification, i.e. to produce new species. “This can be due to the fact that dormancy facilitates that germination only takes place at the optimal moment, in spite of changes in the environment, due either to weather phenomena, or whether due to the fact that the seeds reach a new location after dispersal. This adjustment of the plant cycle to the new environment can reduce the probability of a particular species to become extinct”, Rubio de Casas pointed out.

Dormancy does not simply involve that seeds do not germinate when it is too hot or too cold, since under those conditions it is the environment itself which precludes germination. “What dormancy does is make sure that the seeds do not germinate even when conditions are favourable, which precludes germination after a summer storm, or during a few warm days in winter”, the U. of Granada researcher added.

However, not all plants have dormant seeds. Actually, many species of plants simply germinate at the moment when their seeds are exposed to favourable conditions. Besides, it appears that plants can acquire and lose the dormancy of their seeds in a relatively fast way as a result of natural selection.

“For instance, in the case of cultivated plants, dormancy is one of the first features that appear to have been lost over the domestication process, and for this reason the date for sowing is such an important parameter in farming”, according to Rubio de Casas.

University of Granada

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New volume documents the science at the legendary snowmastodon fossil site in Colorado

Heritage Daily - Mon, 2014-11-24 19:48
Four years ago, a bulldozer operator turned over some bones during construction at Ziegler Reservoir near Snowmass Village, Colorado.

Scientists from the Denver Museum of Nature & Science were called to the scene and confirmed the bones were those of a juvenile Columbian mammoth, setting off a frenzy of excavation, scientific analysis, and international media attention. This dramatic and unexpected discovery culminates this month with the publication of the Snowmastodon Project Science Volume in the international journal Quaternary Research.

Fourteen papers by 47 authors from the United States and abroad collectively represent “a new benchmark for understanding climate change in the American West,” said paleontologist Dr. Ian Miller, Snowmastodon Project co-leader and chair of the Museum’s Earth Sciences Department.

Project co-leader and former DMNS chief curator, Dr. Kirk Johnson, and several scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey and academic institutions around the world contributed articles to the journal.

“Nothing beats pulling fossils out of the ground,” said project scientist Dr. Jeff Pigati of the U.S. Geological Survey, “but the site also lets us see what the Colorado Rockies were like during a period of time that we simply couldn’t reach before the discovery.”

The Snowmastodon site was an ancient lake that filled with sediment between 140,000 and 55,000 years ago preserving a series of Ice Age fossil ecosystems. Particularly fortuitous is the high-elevation locale, providing first-time documentation of alpine ecosystems during the last interglacial period between about 130,000 and 110,000 years ago. Because scientists were able to collect and study such a wide range of fauna and flora–from tiny specks of pollen to the bones of giant mastodons–the site emerged as a trove of information that Miller said will inspire future research for years to come.

“This project was unprecedented in its size, speed, and depth of collaboration. The science volume now moves beyond the pure excitement of the discovery to the presentation of its hard science and its implications for understanding the biological and climate history of the Rocky Mountain region,” said Johnson, now the Sant Director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History.

Papers in the special edition focus on impacts of climate change, then and now. The site’s ecosystems–plants, insects, and animals combined–varied dramatically in response to climate change.

“In other words, turn the climate dial a little and the ecosystems change considerably. We were also surprised to find that certain periods in the record that seem to be cool elsewhere in North America were quite warm in the central Rockies,” said Miller. “The implication is that alpine ecosystems respond differently to climate change than other, lower elevation ecosystems. These new results have huge implications for predicting present-day climate change in Colorado and beyond.”

Usually fossil sites preserve only snapshots in time, which are then pieced together to understand past time periods. By contrast, the Snowmastodon site captures a nearly continuous 85,000-year time span. As a result, the site provides the best-known record of life and climate at high elevation anywhere in North America.

During a total of 69 days in 2010 and 2011, the Museum mobilized one of the largest fossil excavation efforts ever, recovering more than 5,000 large bones and 22,000 small bones representing roughly 50 different species. The site is most notable for containing the remains of at least 35 American mastodons, representing both genders as well as a variety of ages, from calves to full-grown adults.

“We had no idea that the high Rockies were filled with American mastodons during the last interglacial period,” Miller noted.

While the spectacular array of Ice Age animals initially drew scientists to the site, the opportunity to understand the world that they inhabited proved to be a powerful draw as well. “Scientists from around the world donated countless hours and resources toward the project,” said Pigati. “For so many of them to come together and reconstruct a world that no longer exists in such incredible detail, well that’s just a dream come true.”

Denver Museum of Nature & Science

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VIDEO: Pro-independence paper goes on sale

BBC test - Mon, 2014-11-24 19:29
A new newspaper, claiming to represent those who voted for independence from Britain in last September's referendum, has been launched in Scotland.
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VIDEO: Over 40s 'frozen out' of home loans

BBC test - Mon, 2014-11-24 19:02
Home buyers over the age of 40 are increasingly being "frozen out" of mortgages , the industry has warned.
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VIDEO: Dewani judge asked to throw out case

BBC test - Mon, 2014-11-24 18:38
A judge is being asked to throw out the case against UK businessman Shrien Dewani, who denies conspiring to murder his wife in South Africa.
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Tübingen biogeologists show how Gravettian people shared their food 30,000 years ago

Heritage Daily - Mon, 2014-11-24 17:43
Předmostí I is an exceptional prehistoric site located near Brno in the Czech Republic. Around 30,000 years ago it was inhabited by people of the pan-European Gravettian culture, who used the bones of more than 1000 mammoths to build their settlement and to ivory sculptures.

Did prehistoric people collect this precious raw material from carcasses – easy to spot on the big cold steppe – or were they the direct result of hunting for food? This year-round settlement also yielded a large number of canids remains, some of them with characteristics of Palaeolithic dogs. Were these animals used to help hunt mammoths?

To answer these two questions, Tübingen researcher Hervé Bocherens and his international team carried out an analysis of carbon and nitrogen stable isotopes in human and animal fossil bones from the site.

Working with researchers from Brno and Brussels, the researchers were able to test whether the Gravettian people of Předmostí ate mammoth meat and how the “palaeolithic dogs” fit into this subsistence picture.

They found that humans did consume mammoth – and in large quantities. Other carnivores, such as brown bears, wolves and wolverines, also had access to mammoth meat, indicating the high availability of fresh mammoth carcasses, most likely left behind by human hunters. Surprisingly, the dogs did not show a high level of mammoth consumption, but rather consumed essentially reindeer meat that was not the staple food of their owners.

A similar situation is observed in traditional populations from northern regions, who often feed their dogs with the food that they do not like. These results also suggest that these early dogs were restrained, and were probably used as transportation helpers.

These new results provide clear evidence that mammoth was a key component of prehistoric life in Europe 30,000 years ago, and that dogs were already there to help.

Universitaet Tübingen

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Categories: General

VIDEO: Lewis Hamilton's season in numbers

BBC test - Mon, 2014-11-24 17:32
See Lewis Hamilton's season in stats as he becomes only the fourth British F1 driver to win multiple world championships.
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VIDEO: 'My daughter felt trapped in hospital'

BBC test - Mon, 2014-11-24 17:29
A coroner has concluded the death of a 25-year-old woman in a hospital in East Yorkshire was "not a case of neglect".
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VIDEO: Boosting public awareness on terror

BBC test - Mon, 2014-11-24 17:18
Police officers having been speaking to the public at Liverpool Street railway station to promote awareness of terrorism.
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VIDEO: Man's 20-year fake identity

BBC test - Mon, 2014-11-24 16:55
The former head of the Somerset Racial Equality Council is convicted of fraud after stealing another man's identity, as Duncan Kennedy reports.
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Biopolitics for understanding social regulation and control through archaeology

Heritage Daily - Mon, 2014-11-24 16:48
People, as the biological beings that we are, can be socially regulated by mechanisms such as taxes, property or family relationships.

This constitutes part of the social policy that the Roman government put into practice during its expansion throughout the Mediterranean, which left its mark on the eastern plateau of Spain, the historical Celt Iberian territory, as has been shown by biopolitical research that was recently carried out at la Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M).

From the archeological investigation of a small place, such as a simple home, it is possible to “obtain a social and historical reading of an entire city or a whole region,” explains Jesús Bermejo, who has carried out this analysis as a UC3M researcher; he approaches this in his latest book, Arqueología Biopolítica. La sintaxis espacial de la arquitectura doméstica romana en la Meseta oriental (Biopolitical Archeology. The spatial syntax of domestic Roman architecture in the eastern Meseta) Social regulation generated an impact on people’s daily lives, he explains. “And these people, at the same time, generated mechanisms for resistance and re-elaboration for their own benefit.”

Biopolitics, the central subject of this research, refers to the various ways in which political powers regulate the lives of people as biological beings. As living beings we are endowed a series of biological functions (sexuality, nutrition, reproduction, etc.) subject to a variety of systems of social and cultural norms. The legal and political aspects can be related, for example, to reproduction itself or to descendants, which are integral to the need for a system for the transmission and inheritance of goods in a system based on private property.

Taking as a case study the territory of the eastern Spanish plateau and the mark left by the Roman government in its expansion throughout the Mediterranean region, this research attempts to explain how, through the region’s biopolitical architecture, “the ruling powers, the political institutions and the social structures influenced the people’s daily lives,” explains Bermejo. In order to respond to these questions, the study uses comparative analysis of various types of sources (archeological, epigraphic, legal, etc.). By comparing this information, it is possible to develop a historical characterization of the impact that some of these mechanisms of social coercion had on the inhabitants of the region, as well as their implication in the different areas of everyday life.

In order to carry out this research, spatial syntax was applied and the rules of private law under the empire (private property, matrimony, inheritance, the statute of citizenship, and fiscal law) were studied; local epigraphy (the main textual source of information regarding the lives of the inhabitants of this territory) was examined. In the same way that linguistic syntax studies the order of the words in a sentence, spatial syntax is a type of architectural analysis that seeks to “study the social dynamic that underlies the spatial organization of the different rooms or areas within a building: the shapes of jails, universities, public schools, hospitals or homes are also conditioned by the social function that such buildings are meant to fulfill,” states Bermejo, who is a member of UC3M’s Cultura y Tecnología (Institute of Culture and Technology).

There are numerous and diverse reasons that the biopolitics of the era of the Roman Empire can be considered relevant to present-day society, according to this researcher. The main influences can be seen in private law: “A large part of it has been inherited from these concepts, from the legal framework developed by the Imperial Roman government. And in different aspects of how our social life is regulated, in the type of marriage, in the forms of inheritance.”

The Roman government’s biopolitical strategy of social control included not only legal mechanisms, but also government ideological and economic apparatus that, in reality, “are easier to see if we take into account the archeological register, the architecture and the material culture produced by the inhabitants of this region,” comments Bermejo, who includes these and other conclusions in his book.

The researcher comments that he finds himself at the beginning of a much more ambitious project designed to analyze the biopolitical impact of the Roman Empire on its subjects. In the coming years, he plans to systematically apply this method of research to the study of more than 2,000 cases spread throughout different areas of the Roman Mediterranean (Southern France, Germany, Italy, North Africa, etc.). “This project will allow for the creation of a ‘map’ of the impact of the apparatus of the Roman government on people’s lives on different scales: geographic, urban, social, etc.” he concludes.

Universidad Carlos III de Madrid – Oficina de Información Científica

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Sword’s Secrets Revealed

Wessex Archaeology - Mon, 2014-11-24 14:34
The discovery of an Anglo-Saxon sword this summer was cause for great excitement at the Barrow Clump excavation. We were keen to learn as much as possible about this 6th-century weapon, although the degree of corrosion on the sword and the fact that it was contained within the remains of its wood and leather scabbard meant that we would need to use an x-ray machine to do so.   Being 85 cm in length, the sword was too large for our in-house x-ray facilities here at Wessex Archaeology, so the Army, through Captain Doe and Sergeant Potts, kindly offered to undertake the work using equipment based at a Field Hospital Unit in Aldershot. Transportation of the sword was closely supervised by our Conservator, Lynn Wootten, and the Project Manager for Barrow Clump, Phil Andrews.   The x-ray images confirmed several things that we suspected about the sword, and revealed some interesting features. The sword was made by a process called pattern welding, where several bands of metal are beaten together to create a single strengthened blade. In this case, three twisted rods of wrought iron with steel surfaces were used, showing as a distinctive pattern on the x-ray image. The blade itself was also edged in steel. This is probably because steel can be sharpened to a much finer edge than iron. It is possible to tell the difference between metals on an x-ray image as they corrode in different ways.  In addition, we know now that the sword has no maker’s marks or other symbols. However, the x-ray images have confirmed that the sword is extensively corroded throughout and it will not be possible to remove the scabbard from the blade.     Lynn and Phil made the most of this exciting opportunity by also taking along the other grave goods discovered alongside the sword – a spearhead and shield boss (the metal centre of a wooden shield). x-rays of these items confirmed that the spearhead is not pattern welded like the sword, but was produced from a single piece of iron, and that the shield boss has retained its studs to fix it to the wooden shield, which are plated with tin to make them into a decorative feature.  The next step for our Conservator will be to analyse the organic materials that have survived from the scabbard, such as mineralised wood and leather. Keep an eye on the News Blog for further results! By Laura Joyner  
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VIDEO: Can UK change migrant benefit rules?

BBC test - Mon, 2014-11-24 14:26
Open Europe says new rules over access to benefits for EU migrants in the UK might be a "perfect compromise".
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