Category Archive : Humains

Les premières recherches suggèrent que nos cerveaux se synchronisent avec ceux des musiciens lors d'une représentation

 

Il n’est pas difficile de sentir un lien entre les musiciens, la musique jouée et le public à n’importe quel concert ou concert auquel vous allez, mais de nouvelles recherches suggèrent que ce lien va jusqu’au niveau neuronal – et que l’activité cérébrale des artistes et des auditeurs se synchronisent réellement.

 

Sur la base de ces nouvelles preuves, il semble également que la popularité d’un morceau de musique soit également liée à la synchronisation des schémas cérébraux, suggérant peut-être que c’est l’une des façons dont nos esprits commencent à apprécier une bonne chanson.

Bien que des recherches antérieures aient examiné en détail la façon dont le cerveau réagit à la musique et en profite, nous en savons beaucoup moins sur la connexion neuronale entre les interprètes et les membres du public, ce que cette étude aborde de façon sur.

“L’appréciation de la musique implique le cerveau des producteurs et des percepteurs de musique dans un réseau temporellement aligné à travers lequel le public perçoit les intentions de l’interprète et montre des émotions positives liées à la performance musicale”, écrivent les chercheurs dans leur nouveau papier .

À l’aide de spectroscopie proche infrarouge pour surveiller le flux sanguin à l’aide de la lumière, les chercheurs ont analysé le cerveau d’un violoniste professionnel alors qu’il jouait de courts clips de 100 secondes. La même technique a été utilisée pour surveiller 16 membres du public pendant qu’ils regardaient les clips en cours de lecture.

La cohérence inter-cerveau entre interprète et auditeur était cohérente et significative chez tous les sujets testés, les résultats ont montré, avec la même activité accrue étant observée dans les mêmes parties spécifiques du cerveau que les clips ont été montrés.

Les régions cérébrales impliquées comprennent le cortex temporal gauche, qui est lié au traitement du rythme des sons, ainsi que le cortex frontal inférieur droit et les cortex post-centraux – ces deux deuxièmes zones sont pensé pour aider dans les processus sociaux, permettant au cerveau d’imaginer «marcher dans la peau de quelqu’un d’autre».

Il y avait aussi une autre corrélation notable, entre la façon dont un morceau de musique était apprécié en moyenne (tel que évalué par les auditeurs) et un niveau plus élevé de cohérence entre les cerveaux, avec le public dans son ensemble, dans le cortex temporal gauche.

Ce lien n’est apparu que pendant la seconde moitié des clips, laissant entendre qu’il faut du temps pour que l’appréciation de la musique se développe; la reconnaissance du rythme et de la structure passe avant tout, l’approbation esthétique venant plus tard.

Bien qu’il s’agisse d’une petite étude qui n’enregistre pas les ondes cérébrales dans les moindres détails, ses découvertes pourraient être des indications intéressantes pour de futures recherches, et elles correspondent à ce que les scientifiques ont découvert précédemment – cette musique se connecte avec le cerveau d’une manière profonde.

Nous avons également vu un type similaire de synchronisation cérébrale se produire entre parents et bébés , et entre deux personnes ayant une conversation . La prochaine fois que vous regarderez votre groupe préféré, vous ferez peut-être plus de liens que vous ne le pensez.

“Cette étude élargit notre compréhension de l’appréciation de la musique”, concluent les chercheurs dans leur article .

“Ces résultats suggèrent que la synchronisation neuronale entre le public et l’interprète pourrait servir de mécanisme sous-jacent pour la réception positive de la performance musicale.”

La recherche a été publiée dans NeuroImage .

Plus de gens sont maintenant en «lock-out» que ne l'étaient pendant la Seconde Guerre mondiale

                       

  • Le Premier ministre Narendra Modi a dit mardi à 1,3 milliard de personnes en Inde de rester à la maison, ce qui porte le nombre total de personnes sous contrôle des coronavirus à environ 2,9 milliards.
  • Près d’un tiers de la population mondiale, selon l’Agence France-Presse , ce chiffre représente plus de personnes que de personnes vivantes sur Terre pour assister à la Seconde Guerre mondiale.
  • Les blocages dans le monde varient, de la mise en quarantaine totale aux restrictions de voyage, en passant par la fermeture d’entreprises. Mais dans l’ensemble, des milliards de personnes sont désormais touchées.
  • Il est difficile de comparer l’ampleur des blocages actuels des coronavirus à certains des plus grands événements humains, notamment les guerres mondiales et les migrations de masse.
  • Visitez la page d’accueil de Business Insider pour plus d’histoires .

 

Dans une seule annonce mardi, le Premier ministre indien Narendra Modi a presque doublé le nombre de personnes placées sous séquestre sur la planète pour éviter la propagation du coronavirus.

Son ordre strict à 1,3 milliard d’habitants de la nation de rester à la maison porte le nombre mondial de personnes sous une forme quelconque de verrouillage à environ 2,6 milliards – un tiers de la population humaine, selon l’Agence France- Presse . C’est plus d’humains que de vivants pour assister à la Seconde Guerre mondiale.

Le virus a infecté environ 425 000 personnes et tué 18 900 personnes , et beaucoup d’autres sont soupçonnées d’être infectées mais non confirmées. La précision des infections signalées varie énormément d’un pays à l’autre en raison de complications politiques et de l’étendue de la politique de dépistage du pays.

Mais en dehors de ces statistiques sinistres, au niveau de la vie quotidienne, il est devenu difficile de quantifier l’ampleur de l’impact du coronavirus sur la population humaine dans les quelques semaines qui ont suivi l’apparition du premier cas. vers la mi-novembre 2019 .

    
    
     Coronavirus california los angeles lockdown

       
         

          Une femme est assise à Corona Heights Park, le troisième jour de la mise en œuvre par le gouverneur de Californie Gavin Newsom d’un «ordre de séjour à domicile» ordonnant aux 40 millions d’habitants de l’État de rester chez eux face à la maladie à coronavirus à propagation rapide (COVID-19 ), à San Francisco, Californie, États-Unis, le 22 mars 2020.
         

            Shannon Stapleton / Reuters
           

       
   

Les gouvernements mondiaux ont réagi avec diverses formes de restrictions qui affectent maintenant environ un tiers de la population humaine et qui affectent tout, depuis les transports, le commerce, les rassemblements sociaux et, dans de nombreux cas, la possibilité de quitter son à la maison du tout.

 

“Lockdown” n’est pas un terme technique, mais est de plus en plus utilisé pour décrire quoi que ce soit d’une quarantaine complète obligatoire, à des recommandations non obligatoires arrêtant les entreprises et les événements ou disant aux gens de rester à la maison, comme Lindsay Wiley, professeur de droit de la santé à le Washington College of Law, a dit à Vox .

Le nombre de personnes touchées aujourd’hui éclipse même les événements les plus importants qui me viennent à l’esprit. Selon Encyclopaedia

Britannica , les deux plus grands conflits mondiaux de l’histoire de l’humanité – les première et deuxième guerres mondiales – ont été combattus par un total d’environ 135 millions de personnes.

En 1940, la population mondiale était de 2,3 milliards, selon le Bureau du recensement des États-Unis – encore moins que le nombre de personnes en lock-out aujourd’hui.

    
    
     FILE PHOTO: Muslims pray at the Grand Mosque during the annual Hajj pilgrimage in their holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia August 8, 2019. REUTERS/Waleed Ali/File Photo

       
         

          Les musulmans prient à la Grande Mosquée pendant le pèlerinage annuel du Hajj dans leur ville sainte de La Mecque. Environ 2,5 millions de personnes voyagent chaque année pour le pèlerinage.
         

            Reuters
           

       
   

D’autres événements à grande échelle, tels que les migrations humaines, fournissent également une mesure médiocre permettant de mesurer l’impact actuel des coronavirus.

Le nombre estimé de personnes voyageant pour les plus grandes migrations humaines annuelles au monde – le Nouvel An chinois, Prayagraj Kumbh Mela en Inde, Thanksgiving aux États-Unis et les pèlerinages islamiques d’Arba’een et du Hajj – est de 690,5 millions, selon Statista . Ces chiffres ont bien sûr été recueillis avant que le gouvernement chinois ne commence à annuler les festivités du Nouvel An en 2020 pour endiguer la propagation du virus.

 

L’un des seuls événements humains comparables à affecter les gens à cette échelle se trouve être la grippe espagnole de 1918-19 . Bien que la situation soit très différente sur le plan épidémiologique, un point commun est l’étendue de sa portée par rapport à la population mondiale. Le virus a infecté un tiers de la population, qui à l’époque était d’environ 500 millions.

Aujourd’hui, peut-être que ce tiers de l’humanité sous verrouillage peut au moins être reconnaissant que la statistique ne fasse pas référence aux infections – pour le moment.

    
    
     Manhattan lockdown

       
         

          Une rue vide est vue dans le quartier de Manhattan à la suite de l’épidémie de coronavirus (COVID-19), à New York, États-Unis, le 15 mars 2020.
         

            / Photo prise le 24 juin 2018 / REUTERS / Jeenah Moon
           

       
   

Ce sont des pays qui imposent actuellement une forme quelconque d’ordonnance de séjour au domicile ou de fermeture d’entreprises et d’événements, et combien de personnes chacune implique *:

  • [19459032 ] Argentine, 45,5 millions d’habitants: les citoyens ne sont autorisés à quitter leur domicile que pour des services essentiels, imposés par la police, jusqu’au 31 mars.
  • Australie , 24,9 millions d’habitants: entreprises non essentielles fermé et les parents ont la possibilité de garder les enfants non scolarisés.
  • Belgique , population de 11,4 millions d’habitants: les citoyens ont demandé à rester à la maison, sauf pour les services essentiels, et l’isolement devrait se poursuivre jusqu’à la mi-mai au moins.
  • Chine (Wuhan), 11 millions d’habitants, selon les médias d’État : Les citoyens ont demandé à rester chez eux autrement que pour les services essentiels. La quarantaine devrait se lever le 8 avril selon CNN . 16 autres villes de la même province du Hubei étaient également fermées à clef jusqu’à mercredi.
  • Colombie , population de 49,7 millions d’habitants: mise en quarantaine limitant les mouvements de population, à l’exception des services essentiels, jusqu’au 11 avril, les personnes de plus de 70 ans devant rester à la maison jusqu’à la fin du mois de mai selon la BBC .
  • Danemark , 5,8 millions d’habitants: aucun regroupement de plus de 10 personnes et écoles, bibliothèques, restaurants et autres commerces fermés.
  • France , 66,9 millions d’habitants: les citoyens ont demandé à rester chez eux, sauf pour les services essentiels, jusqu’à la fin mars au moins.
  • Allemagne (Bavière), 12,9 millions d’habitants, selon la Commission européenne : 16 des États allemands ont restreint les commerces et les rassemblements publics. Mais la Bavière est allée plus loin et a interdit aux citoyens de quitter leurs maisons sans raison valable jusqu’au 4 avril au moins selon Politico .
  • Inde , 1,3 milliard d’habitants: une “interdiction totale de s’aventurer hors de vos maisons”, a déclaré le Premier ministre Narendra Modi, jusqu’au 21 avril au moins selon CNN [19459005 ].
  • Irlande , 4,9 millions d’habitants: les établissements d’enseignement, culturels et de garde d’enfants sont fermés et les limites du nombre de personnes lors des événements sociaux sont limitées.
  • Israël , 8,9 millions d’habitants: les citoyens ont demandé à rester à la maison sauf pour la nourriture et les médicaments, avec le potentiel de donner le pouvoir à la police.
  • Italie , 60,4 millions d’habitants: verrouillage national affectant presque toutes les formes de vie publique.
  • Jordanie , 9,9 millions d’habitants: les citoyens ne peuvent pas du tout quitter leur domicile, avec une peine potentielle d’emprisonnement à perpétuité s’ils ne sont pas respectés.
  • Kenya , population de 51,4 millions d’habitants: écoles, pubs et restaurants fermés.
  • Koweït , 4,1 millions d’habitants: les citoyens ne peuvent pas visiter les restaurants et les gymnases, pas de vols commerciaux et un couvre-feu le soir.
  • Malaisie , 31,5 millions d’habitants: les voyages à l’intérieur et à l’extérieur du pays sont interdits, les grands rassemblements annulés et les entreprises non essentielles fermées.
  • Maroc , 36 millions d’habitants: pas de vols internationaux et fermeture de mosquées, écoles et restaurants.
  • Nouvelle-Zélande , 4,9 millions d’habitants: les citoyens ont demandé à rester chez eux jusqu’à la fin avril au moins.
  • Norvège , 5,3 millions d’habitants: ports, aéroports et écoles fermés, événements culturels annulés et visiteurs non nordiques sous quarantaine automatique, jusqu’au 15 avril selon The Local [ 19459005].
  • Pologne , population de 37,9 millions d’habitants: bars et restaurants fermés, aucun étranger pour entrer dans le pays et personnes entrantes soumises à une quarantaine automatique, jusqu’au 11 avril.
  • ] Afrique du Sud , 57,8 millions d’habitants: en détention jusqu’au 15 avril au moins.
  • Espagne , 46,7 millions d’habitants: en détention complète jusqu’à vendredi, avec possibilité de prolongation.
  • Royaume-Uni , 66,5 millions d’habitants: les citoyens sont priés de rester chez eux, sauf pour les services essentiels.
  • États-Unis , verrouillage partiel de 75 millions Américains: les États-Unis procèdent État par État, ville par ville pour ses 327 millions de citoyens.

Pour plus de détails sur les blocages de ces pays, voir la couverture de Business Insider ici .

 

* Toutes les estimations de population de Données ouvertes de la Banque mondiale sauf indication contraire.

                       

Chargement Quelque chose se charge.

                      
                        
                       

Plague Inc développe une version de jeu dans laquelle vous sauvez le monde d'une pandémie de virus

                       

  • Une nouvelle version du célèbre jeu Plague Inc sera bientôt disponible, où les gens pourront sauver la planète d’une pandémie au lieu de détruire l’humanité.
  • De plus, les développeurs de jeux Ndemic Creations se sont engagés à donner 250 000 $ pour lutter contre le nouveau coronavirus.
  • Cela vient après que le jeu soit monté en tête des classements de l’App Store, curieusement à l’époque où le nouveau coronavirus a commencé à se propager.
  • “Il y a huit ans, je n’aurais jamais imaginé que le monde réel ressemblerait à un jeu de Plague Inc”, a déclaré James Vaughan, créateur de Plague Inc.
  • Visitez la page d’accueil de Business Insider pour plus d’histoires .

 

Plague Inc, un jeu qui permet aux utilisateurs de détruire le monde avec un nouvel agent pathogène, a créé une nouvelle version du jeu, dans laquelle les joueurs peuvent sauver le monde d’un virus.

Le jeu, qui occupe une place dans les charts de l’App Store depuis sa création en 2012, a atteint de nouveaux niveaux de popularité internationale en 2020, curieusement en même temps que le nouveau coronavirus commençait à se propager.

Mais au fur et à mesure de sa propagation, et a été officiellement déclaré pandémie le 12 mars, les joueurs ont contacté le développeur du jeu Ndemic Creations pour voir si une nouvelle version du jeu, dans laquelle le monde pouvait être sauvé au lieu d’être détruit, pourrait être conçu.

Dans le nouveau mode de jeu, les joueurs contrôleront les gouvernements du monde, stimuleront les systèmes de santé, imposeront des quarantaines et fermeront les services publics pour empêcher la propagation de l’infection.

“Il y a huit ans, je n’aurais jamais imaginé que le monde réel ressemblerait à un jeu de Plague Inc. ou que tant de joueurs utiliseraient Plague Inc. pour les aider à traverser une véritable pandémie”, James Vaughan , créateur de Plague Inc, a écrit dans un communiqué de presse .

 

Vaughan a également annoncé que son entreprise verserait 250 000 $, répartis également entre la Coalition of Epidemic Preparedness Innovations et le Fonds de solidarité du COVID-19 pour l’Organisation mondiale de la santé COVID-19.

    
    
     Plague Inc

       
         

          Plague Inc est l’un des jeux les plus populaires de l’App Store d’Apple depuis sa sortie.
         

            Ndemic Creations
           

       
   

À mesure que la menace de COVID-19 augmentait, de nombreux joueurs ont contacté les développeurs de Plague Inc pour obtenir des réponses

Plague Inc a tendance à voir un pic d’utilisateurs chaque fois qu’il y a une menace d’une épidémie, d’Ebola à la grippe. Mais en ce qui concerne COVID-19, tant de personnes ont demandé aux créateurs de Plague Inc des questions sur le nouveau coronavirus que la société a été forcée de faire une déclaration, disant: “Plague Inc. est un jeu, pas un modèle scientifique, et que l’épidémie actuelle de coronavirus est une situation très réelle. ”

“Il est certainement possible que les gens jouent à [Plague Inc.] comme un moyen de surmonter l’anxiété ou de mettre les choses en perspective”, chercheuse en santé mentale Michelle Carras Colder, qui a publié des recherches sur les jeux vidéo avec les Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, avait précédemment déclaré à Business Insider.

En 2013, Vaughan a donné une conférence au US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Le jeu a été loué par Ali S. Khan, alors assistant chirurgien général au CDC, pour son utilisation d’une “voie non traditionnelle pour sensibiliser le public à l’épidémiologie, la transmission des maladies et les informations sur les maladies / pandémies . ” . une épidémie et apprendre aux gens comment fonctionnent les infections virales.

 

En janvier, sur le site de médias sociaux chinois Weibo, un joueur de Plague Inc. a déclaré que l’attrait du jeu résidait dans le fait de “faire semblant d’occuper la position de l’auteur”. Fin février, le jeu a été interdit en Chine. Ndemic a annoncé qu’ils avaient été informés que le jeu «incluait du contenu illégal en Chine tel que déterminé par la Cyberspace Administration of China».

L’analyste industriel Daniel Ahmad, analyste chez Nike Partners, a noté que d’autres jeux liés aux virus sont restés disponibles pour jouer en Chine. Sur Twitter, il a émis l’hypothèse que la suppression pourrait être due au fait que dans le jeu, le virus commence toujours en Chine dans Plague Inc, ou parce que Ndemic travaille sur une fausse mise à jour de leur jeu, qui permet aux gens de diffuser de la désinformation.

La ​​nouvelle mise à jour, toujours en cours de développement, sera gratuite pour tous les joueurs. Ndemic Creations n’a pas répondu à la demande de commentaires de Business Insider.

                       

Chargement Quelque chose se charge.

                      
                        
                       

Thriving ‘Neuron Nurseries’ Have Been Found Inside The Adult Human Nose

Our noses appear to be home to thriving ‘neuron nurseries’, according to new research. It’s a curious finding, given recent investigations on whether our brains keep making new neurons as we become adults; some evidence points to us growing these nerve cells well into old age.

 

But we don’t really know whether such neurogenesis could be found in other busy nerve bundles – such as the nose. This latest study suggests the olfactory neuroepithelium in the human nose seems to carry on producing neurons in our adulthood, based on an analysis of human tissue taken from seven middle-aged human donors.

Not only does this result give scientists a fresh insight into our body’s intricate neuron-producing processes, it also hints at new ways to treat conditions when these neurons may be badly damaged, or die off due to old age.

“We do not fully understand why people lose their sense of smell, which can occur for many reasons, and our data sets provide a wealth of information about the cell populations present in adult olfactory tissue,” says ear, nose and throat doctor Brad Goldstein from the Duke University Medical Center.

“This is an important step in developing treatment strategies for conditions when this tissue may be damaged.”

little nose 2
Neurons shown in red in human nasal tissue. (Durante, etal., Nature Neuroscience, 2020)

Using single-cell RNA sequencing, the researchers looked at 28,726 different cells in total, finding that more than half were ‘baby’ or immature neurons produced by neural stem cells – and their youthfulness suggests the neurons were produced inside the tissue itself.

In fact, the team found neurons at several stages of life in the nose tissue. While mouse studies have suggested some nerve regrowth in the nose was possible, the proportion of new cells in human noses was still surprising.

 

As neurons are responsible for transmitting information to other cells and muscles, when something goes wrong with these cells it can cause big problems – as seen with diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

“It will be very useful to use this window to analyse samples from people with conditions in which the nervous system has degeneration, such as Alzheimer’s disease,” says Goldstein.

“Alzheimer’s is of particular interest, since these patients lose their sense of smell quite early in the disease process, and we have few treatments for Alzheimer’s disease. So, it may make sense to look carefully at regions of the olfactory system in these patients.”

While the new study supports the idea that this nasal nursery is capable of churning out new neurons as we get older, further research will be needed to make sure – we haven’t yet actually observed them being made.

Scientists are continuing to make strides forward in their understanding of how neurons operate and communicate with each other, offering insight into the workings of the complex biological computer that is the human body.

 

This new study does align with findings from last year, which showed neurons at different stages of maturity deep within the human brain. It seems we can keep producing these cells as we get older – the next question is how.

“Because the nose is exposed to the external environment, it might be possible we could one day collect these neuronal stem cells from patients and use them to treat their own brain disorders,” says microbiologist Hiroaki Matsunami from Duke University Medical Center.

“It is not outside of the realm of possibility.”

The research has been published in Nature Neuroscience.

 

That Gratitude Journal Might Not Be The Best Depression Treatment, Study Shows

Working through an exercise in gratitude or counting your blessings can often have positive health benefits and lift our mood – but it isn’t actually much help when it comes to properly dealing with symptoms of depression and anxiety, new research has found.

 

Weighing up the evidence from 27 previous studies, covering 3,675 individuals in total, researchers observed only a “small effect” on depression and anxiety, suggesting better options are available when it comes to treating these conditions.

And while a grateful attitude can often have knock-on effects that are very welcome, the team behind the new meta-study is asking for caution in treating gratitude ‘interventions’ as a viable form of treatment.

“For years now, we have heard in the media and elsewhere about how finding ways to increase gratitude can help make us happier and healthier in so many ways,” says psychologist David Cregg, from Ohio State University.

“But when it comes to one supposed benefit of these interventions – helping with symptoms of anxiety and depression – they really seem to have limited value.”

Two of the most common exercises in focusing on gratitude are keeping a journal of three things that went well every day, and writing a letter expressing gratitude to someone who’s made a difference in your life.

But when compared with exercises unrelated to gratitude – like writing about a class schedule – these steps don’t seem to have much of an impact in terms of relieving anxiety or depression.

 

In other words, telling people who show symptoms of being anxious or depressed to be more grateful for the good things in their lives may not be all that effective.

“There was a difference, but it was a small difference,” says psychologist Jennifer Cheavens, from Ohio State University. “It would not be something you would recommend as a treatment.”

The researchers point to other options like cognitive behavioural therapy as being better for tackling anxiety and depression in the long run.

That’s not to say trying to concentrate on the positives is a waste of time. Exercises in gratitude have been shown to have benefits in terms of improving relationships and in getting people to exercise more, for example.

But for treating anxiety and depression, not so much. Previous studies may have suffered to varying degrees from problems with assessment methods, risk of bias, control groups measurements and the placebo effect, the researchers note.

That said, this isn’t yet the final word on the subject: this new research only involved two clinical samples, and only five studies that included an analysis of anxiety. What’s more, it focused on gratitude interventions – specific exercises – rather than the effects of a more grateful attitude in general.

“Based on our results, telling people who are feeling depressed and anxious to be more grateful likely won’t result in the kind of reductions in depression and anxiety we would want to see,” says Cheavens.

“It might be that these sort of interventions, on their own, aren’t powerful enough or that people have difficulty enacting them fully when they are feeling depressed and anxious.”

The research has been published in the Journal of Happiness Studies.

 

Entire Collection of Dead Sea Scroll Fragments at US Museum Turns Out to Be Fake

A thorough investigation of one of the world’s most valuable collections of Dead Sea Scroll fragments has revealed a shocking truth: not one of the collection’s 16 fragments analysed is authentic.

 

The Dead Sea Scrolls, a trove of religious manuscripts containing the oldest known foundations of the Old Testament, date as far back as the third century BCE. The vast majority of these ancient, weathered texts are displayed in Jerusalem, but many more fragments circulate on the private market, where they are coveted by cashed-up collectors and museums.

Unfortunately, many researchers in the field of biblical archaeology suspect that some of these supposed relics – especially a mysterious body of fragments that only turned up late in the day, in 2002 – are cunningly crafted forgeries that can fool even experts.

That bleak view was seemingly confirmed in late 2018, when the US$500 million Museum of the Bible in Washington, DC revealed that at least five of the Dead Sea Scroll fragments in its collection on display were actually fakes.

Since then, the museum has engaged further scientific help to ascertain whether the rest of its scroll fragments (rumoured to have cost millions to acquire) are the real deal. It turns out, rather embarrassingly, they are not.

“After an exhaustive review of all the imaging and scientific analysis results, it is evident that none of the textual fragments in Museum of the Bible’s Dead Sea Scroll collection are authentic,” says art fraud investigator Colette Loll, the founder and director of Art Fraud Insights.

 

“Moreover, each exhibits characteristics that suggest they are deliberate forgeries created in the 20th century with the intent to mimic authentic Dead Sea Scroll fragments.”

Releasing the results of the analysis in a hefty 212-page report, Loll explains how the 16 fragments in the museum’s collections were subjected to a battery of scientific tests, including multispectral and reflectance transformation imaging, traditional and 3D microscopy, microchemical testing, and more.

The upshot is that the fragments analysed showed signs of modern writing inscribed upon archaeological deposits of leather, coated with a protein-based type of animal skin glue, which acted to reinforce the material, while also replicating the surface sheen of authentic Dead Sea Scroll originals, which are written on parchment.

“In all of the fragments that contained writing, we observed examples where modern ink was applied atop preexisting surface deposits and across cracks and areas of delamination already present on the repurposed material,” the report explains.

“In some cases, a variety of loose mineral deposits were also scattered over the forgeries after writing, and while the ink was still wet, in order to give the impression that these were authentic Dead Sea Scroll fragments that had come from the Qumran caves. It is our opinion that all of these methods were utilised with an express intent to deceive.”

While being duped so publicly is no doubt a galling experience for the Museum of the Bible and its backers – David Green and his family’s commercial empire – the organisation is trying to put a brave face in light of the revelations, insisting that their complete transparency over these forgeries will benefit the field of biblical archaeology, by highlighting the crafty techniques used in the creation of fakes.

“Notwithstanding the less than favourable results, we have done what no other institution with post–2002 DSS fragments has done,” the museum’s chief curator, Jeffrey Kloha, explains.

“The sophisticated and costly methods employed to discover the truth about our collection could be used to shed light on other suspicious fragments and perhaps even be effective in uncovering who is responsible for these forgeries.”

The full report on the investigation is available on the Museum of the Bible’s website.

 

Tired of The Coronavirus? Here Are 10 Good News Stories You Need Right Now

Life during a global pandemic takes on a surreal quality. The ubiquitous presence of social media and a constant fire hose of coronavirus news can make it particularly hard if you’re already feeling anxious.

 

So, we’ve put together a little round-up of recent science news that we find inspiring, encouraging, and worthy of note in these trying times.

1. CRISPR has been used to attempt a cure for genetic blindness for the first time

In a world first, surgeons at Oregon Health & Science Institute have used the CRISPR gene-editing technique to attempt a cure for Leber congenital amaurosis, a rare genetic condition that causes blindness in early childhood.

While we await results on how this experiment worked out, this achievement joins a list of other medical uses of the technique, including the search for a Huntington’s disease cure, herpes, HIV, and immunotherapy for some types of cancer.

Living at a time when medical researchers have this powerful tool at their disposal is certainly a good news item in our books.

2. 60,000 more seed samples have been added to the Arctic seed vault in Svalbard

In February, a huge stock of 60,000 seed samples was added to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault nestled inside a mountain in Norway’s Svalbard archipelago, including the first-ever heirloom seed deposit by an indigenous US tribe.

Increasing deposits to this safehouse of crops reflect growing worldwide concern about potential loss of biodiversity and food security – but these actions also demonstrate a beautiful commitment to our future generations.

 

3. A potential universal flu vaccine has passed an important set of clinical trials

The virus strains that cause influenza are shapeshifters, constantly moving beyond our ability to immunise against them – hence, we need annual flu shots to stay ahead of the disease. A ‘universal’ flu vaccine would give us a huge advantage in this race, and there’s now a truly promising candidate on the cards.

The vaccine, called FLU-v, has successfully passed phase I and phase II clinical trials, demonstrating its safety in human subjects; it’s been found to induce immune responses that last at least six months. We can’t wait to see the results of the next phase of trials.

4. Scientists have invented contact lenses that can correct red-green colour blindness

A new type of contact lens could restore the colour spectrum limitations in people whose eyes struggle to tell apart green and red hues.

This brilliant technology already exists in some cleverly designed sunglasses; soon, people might also have access to it in the highly convenient form of contacts, thanks to a team of engineers at Tel Aviv University.

colour contact lens result‘Normal’ image of a tree; colour blind version; corrected version. (Sharon Karepov/Tel Aviv University)

5. A patient has been declared ‘cured’ of HIV – and it’s not even the first time

Researchers have announced that for the second time ever, a patient carrying the HIV virus has been declared cured, with no trace of infection in his blood 30 months after he stopped traditional treatment, undergoing a specialised type of stem cell therapy.

The achievement doesn’t constitute a generalised cure, because the patient also had a type of lymphoma that enabled him to receive this experimental treatment; but it demonstrates a real breakthrough in medical science, showing scientists are able to push the boundaries like never before.

 

6. Niue has been named the world’s first ‘Dark Sky Nation’

The tiny South Pacific nation of Niue recently accepted a unique honour, as it became the first country to be formally accredited as an International Dark Sky Place.

This accreditation is bestowed by the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA), a conservation non-profit charged with preserving the naturally dark night-time environment, defending it from the intrusive disturbances of artificial light pollution.

There’s no end of scientific research charting the negative effects of light pollution, whether on animals, plants, or human health; this honour emphasises that seeking a truly dark night sky remains as important as ever.

7. We’ve found a clean method for hydrogen fuel production that’s 25 times more efficient

Hydrogen fuel is one of the more promising zero-emissions options around – if only we could produce it cheaply and without needing insane amounts of energy input.

Now, a team of researchers in Tokyo have managed to do just that, refining a method that produces hydrogen fuel using just a few basic ingredients, including light and a particular type of rust. A new study shows this method yields 25 times more hydrogen than existing methods.

 

8. There’s one excellent way to store renewable energy, and we already have the necessary tech

Speaking of sustainability, one of the biggest challenges to widespread adoption of renewables remains the problem of large-scale storage. However, there is one excellent solution to this problem – pumped thermal electricity storage. This approach stores electricity by turning it into heat, then turning it back into electricity when needed using an engine.

Unlike pumped hydro, which requires specific geographic requirements, this type of storage can be built in many places, and it uses thermodynamic principles to store electricity in the form of heat. And the best part? It’s already being tested in pilot plants.

9. A flawed paper that blames the Sun for climate change has been retracted

In June 2019, an odd paper made waves after it was published in Scientific Reports. The scientific community was quick to voice their concerns over this flawed study, which claimed that the Sun’s movements were the real cause of anthropogenic global warming.

Now, the editors of the well-known journal have corrected the scientific record, issuing a retraction notice that explains the errors, showing that even if something incorrect initially slips through peer review, the scientific process is still rigorous enough to fix the mistake. You can read about this fascinating case in full here.

10. There are 76 solutions available right now that can slow down climate change

A new report by the non-profit Project Drawdown has outlined a whopping 76 solutions the world already has at hand if we want to slow down climate change. These strategies – from shifting our means of energy production, to reducing food waste and empowering women – span across all sectors.

Furthermore, these solutions are actually cheaper than maintaining the status quo (also known as ‘doing nothing’). Project Drawdown estimates that if we implemented these 76 solutions, it would result in savings of up to around US$144 trillion of avoided climate damage and pollution-related healthcare costs. Tell everyone – we can do this.

 

Eerie Circle Built From Mammoth Bones Reveals New Clues About Survival in The Ice Age

Long before the comfort of modern amenities, ancient human communities were capable of living in some truly harsh and frigid environments.

On the central Russian Plain, a mysterious ring of mammoth bones has been dated to the peak of the last European ice age, when winter temperatures regularly reached -20 degrees Celsius or lower.

 

The site where this ancient structure was found – on the west bank of the Don River, about 500 kilometres (300 miles) south of Moscow – is known as Kostenki 11. The area has a long history of excavation, dating back to the 1700s; early structures were found there during digs in the 1950s and 60s.

Thanks to radiocarbon dating, a new study has revealed the discovery of the oldest known bone circle built by modern humans on the Russian Plain; there are about 70 of these mysterious structures littered throughout the area.

At more than 20,000 years old, this one particular site would have just started going up as the last ice age reached its coldest and most severe yet.

“Archaeology is showing us more about how our ancestors survived in this desperately cold and hostile environment at the climax of the last ice age,” says palaeolithic archaeologist Alexander Pryor from the University of Exeter.

“Most other places at similar latitudes in Europe had been abandoned by this time, but these groups had managed to adapt to find food, shelter and water.”

 

Of course, even these few remaining communities didn’t last forever. Eventually, the bone circles were abandoned. But for a while there at least, they were important sites for humans.

The oldest continuous bone circle, which stretches 12.5 metres in diameter (41 feet), appears to be made almost exclusively of mammoth bones, along with a smattering of bones from reindeer, horse, bear, wolf, red fox and arctic fox; the archaeologists have identified a total of 51 lower jaws and 64 individual skulls from mammoths.

At the edge of the circle, three large pits were revealed as well, filled with large mammoth bones.

Screen Shot 2020 03 16 at 2.12.19 pm(Pryor et al., Antiquity, 2020)

Using radiocarbon dating of fragments of charcoal found among the remains, the research team confirmed there was a human presence on the Russian Plain during a time when similar latitudes in Europe were already abandoned.

“Yet despite this cold, the widespread distribution of charcoal and burnt bone at Kostenki 11 indicates the availability of wood fuel and the sustained use of mixed-fuel (wood and bone) fires,” the authors write in their study.

In fact, this is only the second mammoth-bone circle at which habitual wood burning has been identified. And it’s some 5,000 years older than the other one.

 

The discovery adds weight to the idea that conifer trees survived on the Russian mammoth steppe throughout the last glacial cycle. Wood to burn is a prerequisite for many modern hunter-gatherers in high-latitude cold climates, and the availability of trees in this part of the world is a possible reason for why humans persisted here for so much longer than other areas of northern Europe.

Apart from burned wood, the team also identified several plants which could have been used for poisons, medicines, string or fabric, as well as over 50 small, charred seeds. It’s still unclear if these were brought by humans or dropped here by randomness, although other remains were clearly manufactured.

More than 300 tiny stone and flint chips suggest the people here once used to knap stone tools, likely for butchering animals and scraping hides.

Screen Shot 2020 03 16 at 2.12.44 pm(Pryor et al., Antiquity, 2020)

In the past, archaeologists have assumed that bone circles were used as dwellings, but this new site doesn’t imply long-term human encampment.

“What might have brought ancient hunter gatherers to this site?” asks Pryor.

“One possibility is that the mammoths and humans could have come to the area en masse because it had a natural spring that would have provided unfrozen liquid water throughout the winter – rare in this period of extreme cold.”

For now, the purpose of this bone circle remains a mystery.

The study was published in Antiquity.

 

Legendary ‘Tree of Life’ in New Mexico’s Ancient Past Might Not Be What We Thought

For hundreds of years, it lay undisturbed. Then, almost a century ago, archaeologists discovered it: a single pine tree, buried amidst the grandest of all the great houses of Chaco culture.

 

Pueblo Bonito (Beautiful Town), in New Mexico’s Chaco Canyon, has long been considered the cultural hub of the Ancestral Puebloans who dwelled here for centuries, founding the site over 1,000 years ago, before abandoning it about 1126 CE.

When they departed, the villagers left behind a wondrous legacy of massive structures that once stood up to five storeys high, filled with hundreds of rooms, and cultural artefacts, including pottery, musical instruments, and tools for use in ancient rituals.

They also left something else behind: the lone log of a ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa), measuring 6 metres (20 ft) long, which archaeologists couldn’t make sense of when they stumbled upon it during a dig in 1924.

008 plaza tree 4A modern reconstruction of what Pueblo Bonito might have looked like. (National Park Service)

“At the south end of the West Court we unexpectedly discovered the remains of a large pine that had stood there, alive and green, when Pueblo Bonito was inhabited,” the researchers later wrote of the find.

“Its decayed trunk lay on the last utilised pavement, and its great, snaglike roots preclude the possibility of its ever having been moved.”

 

This vivid description – and the assumptions inherent within it – have ever since resonated throughout archaeological and anthropological literature, creating a rich legend around this seemingly unique pine, alone in the otherwise treeless environment of Pueblo Bonito.

Within these narratives, the pine has been characterised as a ‘tree of life’ or ‘world tree’ imbued with cosmological significance, notions of birth symbolism, or other mysterious speculations about its purpose (including that it might be a giant sun-dial).

“It is apt that the world tree should be viewed as the centre of the Universe, for it is relative to this axis that sacred time, the heavenly rhythm reflected by the play of light and shadow, becomes the geometry and symmetry of a sacred place,” one study observed.

In rebuttal, a new study led by tree-ring expert Christopher Guiterman from the University of Arizona suggests some of the more fanciful ideas around this majestic pine “have not been rigorously tested”, and offers an alternative explanation for the tree’s backstory.

“Based on converging lines of evidence – documentary records, strontium isotopes, and tree-ring provenance testing – we present a new origin for the Plaza Tree,” the authors write in their paper.

“It did not grow in Pueblo Bonito or even nearby in Chaco Canyon.”

008 plaza tree 4Cross-section of a sample taken from the Pueblo Bonito plaza tree. (Christopher Guiterman)

According to the evidence Guiterman’s team found, including comparisons of tree rings in a sample from the Plaza Tree with samples from trees in nearby regions, the famous pine did not ever lay its roots in Pueblo Bonito.

“We have this incredible database from 100-plus years of tree-ring science,” says Guiterman.

 

“Trees from the San Juan Mountains, the Jemez Mountains or the Chuska Mountains – they all have their own kind of flavour, their own peculiar signature.”

By analysing those signatures, along with over evidence to date the tree, the team concludes that the town’s majestic pine lived for about 250 years (until about the early 1100s) in the Chuska Mountains, about 50 kilometres (30 miles) west of Chaco Canyon.

At some point around then – which is hard to know for sure, since the outer layers of the log were lost to decay – the tree died, either from natural causes or from being felled. Then, it was transported to Pueblo Bonito, where the team says it might have been intended for firewood, used as a bench, or erected as a standing pole.

008 plaza tree 4Pueblo Bonito as it is today. (Thomas Swetnam)

“It could have toppled or been left standing to eventually collapse onto the plaza,” the researchers explain. “Finally, it was buried by windblown sand over the centuries.”

While not entirely discounting the possibility that the tree might have served as a gnomon (the part of a sundial that casts a shadow), the team says their “mundane” explanations are far more likely than it being a symbol of ‘birth’ or ‘life’ in Pueblo Bonito, given we now know it was a dead, imported tree, and not the lone remnant of a mysterious Chaco forest for which no other evidence survives.

Exactly why these ancient villagers felt the need to transport the giant log such a great distance remains a compelling question, but the team is confident the rest of this mysterious legend can finally be put to rest.

“If a marker of anything, the Plaza Tree of Pueblo Bonito reflects the final fluorescence or decline of Pueblo Bonito,” the team says, “rather than its beginning.”

The findings are reported in American Antiquity.

 

Prestigious Abel Maths Prize Has Been Awarded For ‘Random Walk’ Probability Techniques

The Abel Prize for mathematics was on Wednesday awarded to Israeli-American Hillel Furstenberg and Russian-born Gregory Margulis, both probability experts, the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters said.

 

The pair were honoured “for pioneering the use of methods from probability and dynamics in group theory, number theory and combinatorics,” the Academy said in a statement.

Furstenberg, 84, is affiliated with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, while Margulis, a decade younger, is at Yale University.

Furstenberg and Margulis invented so-called random walk techniques, or a path consisting of a succession of random steps. The study of random walks is a central branch of probability theory.

The pair used the technique “to investigate mathematical objects such as groups and graphs, and in so doing introduced probabilistic methods to solve many open problems,” the statement said.

Their work “has opened up a wealth of new results” in diverse areas of mathematics and “brought down the traditional wall between pure and applied mathematics”.

Born in Berlin, Furstenberg and his Jewish family fled Nazi Germany for the US just before the start of World War II.

After starting his career at top universities like Princeton and MIT, he left the United States for the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 1965 and stayed there until his retirement in 2003.

 

Margulis stood out as a math wiz early on. At age 16, he won the silver medal at the International Mathematical Olympiad, and 16 years later won the prestigious Fields Medal.

The Soviet authorities however did not allow him to travel to Helsinki to pick up the medal because of discrimination against his Jewish origin. Soviet academics were finally granted more freedom in 1979.

He went on to work at universities in Switzerland, France and the US, where he became a professor at Yale in 1991. In 2001, he was elected a member of the US National Academy of Sciences.

Because of the novel coronavirus pandemic, the Abel Prize award ceremony has been postponed indefinitely. It was originally scheduled for May 19.

Named after the 19th-century Norwegian mathematician Niels Henrik Abel, the prize was established by the Oslo government in 2002 and first awarded a year later, to honour outstanding scientific work in the field of mathematics, a discipline not included among the Nobel awards.

This year it comes with a cheque for 7.5 million kroner (US$711,000 or 648,000 euros).

Along with the Fields Medal, which is awarded every four years at the Congress of the International Mathematical Union (IMU), it is one of the world’s most prestigious maths prizes.

© Agence France-Presse