By subjecting the skull of the first australopith discovered to the latest technologies in the Wits University Microfocus X-ray Computed Tomography (CT) facility, researchers are now casting doubt on theories that Australopithecus africanus shows the same cranial adaptations found in modern human infants and toddlers – in effect disproving current support for the idea that this early hominin shows infant brain development in the prefrontal region similar to that of modern humans.
The research is in PNAS. (full access paywall)
Research: “New high-resolution computed tomography data of the Taung partial cranium and endocast and their bearing on metopism and hominin brain evolution” by Ralph L. Holloway, Douglas C. Broadfield, and Kristian J. Carlson in PNAS. doi:10.1111/desc.12208
Image: This is the Taung Child fossil at the Evolutionary Studies Institute at Wits University. Credit University of the Witwatersrand.
What kind of man would live where there is no daring? I don’t believe in taking foolish chances, but nothing can be accomplished if we don’t take any chances at all.
By Charles Lindbergh (via craigtowens)
If you see yourself in the correct way, you are all as much extraordinary phenomena of nature as trees, clouds, the patterns in running water, the flickering of fire, the arrangement of the stars, and the form of a galaxy. You are all just like that - and there is nothing wrong with you at all.
By Alan Watts (via whats-out-there)
Earlier this month, we spotlighted promising research that has successfully produced biofuel by feeding electricity to bacteria. If it can scale up, this work would answer several current problems inherent in converting solar energy into fuel, a…
Sailors have their krakens and their sea serpents. Physicists have white holes: cosmic creatures that straddle the line between tall tale and reality. Yet to be seen in the wild, white holes may be only mathematical monsters. But new research suggests that, if a speculative theory called loop quantum gravity is right, white holes could be real—and we might have already observed them.
A white whole is, roughly speaking, the opposite of a black hole. “A black hole is a place where you can go in but you can never escape; a white hole is a place where you can leave but you can never go back,” says Caltech physicist Sean Carroll. “Otherwise, [both share] exactly the same mathematics, exactly the same geometry.” That boils down to a few essential features: a singularity, where mass is squeezed into a point of infinite density, and an event horizon, the invisible “point of no return” first described mathematically by the German physicist Karl Schwarzschild in 1916. For a black hole, the event horizon represents a one-way entrance; for a white hole, it’s exit-only.