‘Breakthrough’ discovery inside Giza Pyramid baffles scientists

Scientists have discovered a secret, giant void hiding inside the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt. Located above the pyramid’s Grand Gallery, the 30-meter-long void inside Khufu's Pyramid remains a mystery.

Its size suggests it plays an important role in the tomb’s structure. It’s the first discovery of its kind since the 19th century.

“These results constitute a breakthrough for the understanding of Khufu’s Pyramid and its internal structure,” the scientists explained in a journal published in Nature.

READ MORE: Pyramid scheme: Mysterious chambers found hidden in ancient Giza structure

Scientists uncovered the void as part of the ScanPyramids project that dates back to 2015. The chamber was found using cosmic-ray imaging and by recording subatomic particles, a practice known as muon radiography, which bounces inside the structure providing an outline for 3D reconstruction of the space.

https://cdni.rt.com/files/2017.11/original/59fb10e0fc7e93886a8b4567.jpg© ScanPyramids mission / AFP

This method allows researchers to visualize the known and potentially unknown voids in the pyramid in a non-invasive manner.

This large void has therefore been detected with a high confidence by three different muon detection technologies and three independent analyses,” the scientists said. “While there’s currently no information about the role of this void, these findings show how modern particle physics can shed new light on the world’s archaeological heritage.”

Psychiatric medication protects developing mouse brain from birth defects

A clinically available anxiety drug safely and effectively protects against brain defects caused by the mouse version of a common human virus, finds new research published in The Journal of Neuroscience.

More than half of U.S. adults are infected with cytomegalovirus (CMV), but most people do not experience any symptoms because a healthy immune system keeps the virus in check. However, CMV infection in babies can cause unusually small brain size (microcephaly) like the less common Zika virus, deafness, blindness, mental dysfunction, and other neurological problems that can last a lifetime. There is no effective CMV vaccine, and current treatments are not recommended during pregnancy or in newborns because of their potential to cause other birth defects and cancer.

Anthony van den Pol and colleagues found that a daily low dose of the mood stabilizer valnoctamide reduced the amount of CMV in the body of infected newborn mice and suppressed further replication of the virus that had already reached the brain, without negative side effects. The treatment also normalized neurological and behavioral development in the infected mice, including impaired social interactions thought to link CMV infection and autism spectrum disorder. Finally, the authors show that the drug suppresses replication of CMV in human fetal brain cells.


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Fall armyworm 'threatens African farmers' livelihoods'

Scientists are calling for urgent action to halt the spread of a pest that is destroying maize crops and spreading rapidly across Africa.

The fall armyworm poses a major threat to food security and agricultural trade, warns the Centre for Agriculture and Biosciences International (Cabi).

It says farmers' livelihoods are at risk as the non-native insect threatens to reach Asia and the Mediterranean.

The Food and Agriculture Organization plans emergency talks on the issue.

The fall armyworm, so called because it eats its way through most of the vegetation in its way as it marches through crops, is native to North and South America but was identified for the first time in Africa last year.

Cabi chief scientist Dr Matthew Cock said: "This invasive species is now a serious pest spreading quickly in tropical Africa and with the potential to spread to Asia.

"Urgent action will be needed to prevent devastating losses to crops and farmers' livelihoods."

Scientists think the caterpillar or its eggs may have reached the continent through imported produce.

Once established in an area, the adult moths can fly large distances and spread rapidly.

Army worm caterpillar The caterpillar can march like an army across the landscape / Image copyright CABI

Dr Jayne Crozier, of Cabi, said the fall armyworm's presence had now been confirmed in west Africa and was thought to be present in the south and east of the continent, many parts of which rely on maize for their staple diet.

"It's possibly been there for some time and it's causing a lot of damage now," she told BBC News.

"The recent discovery of fall armyworm in Africa will be a huge threat to food security and also to trade in the region."

The FAO is to hold an emergency meeting in Harare between 14 and 16 February to decide emergency responses to the fall armyworm threat.

It says the pest has been confirmed in Zimbabwe and preliminary reports suggest it may also be present in Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zambia.

An investigation by Cabi has found that the fall armyworm is established in Ghana.

Experts at Cabi say it could take several years to develop effective methods to control the pest.

And they say there is confusion over the identity of the fall armyworm as it is similar to other types of armyworm, which are already present in Africa.

Zambia has used army planes to spray affected areas with insecticides.

Antarctica found amplifying effects of climate change during last global warming

SAN FRANCISCO -- A a new study indicates that the Antarctic warmed about 11 degrees Celsius between about 20,000 and 10,000 years ago while the average temperature worldwide rose about 4 degrees Celsius following Earth's last ice age.

The disparity, that the Antarctic warmed nearly three times the average temperature increase worldwide after the peak of last ice age 20,000 years ago, highlights the fact that the poles, both the Arctic in the north and the Antarctic in the south, amplify the effects of a changing climate, whether it gets warmer or cooler.

As the calculations are in line with estimates from most climate models,"the result is not a surprise, but if you look at the global climate models that have been used to analyze what the planet looked like 20,000 years ago, the same models used to predict global warming in the future, they are doing, on average, a very good job reproducing how cold it was in Antarctica," said Kurt Cuffey, a glaciologist at the University of California, Berkeley.

The models predict that as a result of current global climate change, Antarctica will warm twice as much as the rest of the planet and reach its peak in a couple of hundred years. Given business-as-usual greenhouse gas emissions, a global average increase of 3 degrees Celsius by 2100 and a rise of around 6 degrees in the Antarctic is predicted.

During the last period of global warming, the ice deep inside the Antarctic glaciers warmed more slowly than Earth's surface. By measuring the remaining difference, that the 20,000-year old ice deep in the West Antarctic ice sheet is about 1 degree Celsius cooler than the surface, the researchers were able to estimate the original temperature based on how fast pure ice warms up.

Gary Clow of the U.S. Geological Survey in Lakewood, Colorado, measured in 2011 and again in 2014 the temperature in a 3.4-kilometer-deep borehole from which the West Antarctic Sheet Divide ice core had been drilled during an eight-year project that ended in 2011. Ice at the bottom of the borehole was deposited about 70,000 years ago; ice about one-sixth of the way up about 50,000 years ago; and ice about one-third of the way to the surface 20,000 years ago.

Cuffey, first author of the study recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, developed a technique to combine these temperature measurements with isotopic measurements of old ice to come up with an estimated temperature of 11.3 degrees, plus or minus 1.8 degrees Celsius, warming since the depths of the ice age.

The Antarctic temperature rose much more rapidly than did Arctic temperatures after the glacial maximum. By 15,000 years ago, Antarctica had warmed to about 75 percent of its temperature today. The Arctic took another 3,000-4,000 years to warm this much, primarily because the Northern Hemisphere had huge ice sheets to buffer warming, and changes in ocean currents and Earth's orbital configuration accelerated warming in the south.

Antarctica was also more sensitive to global carbon dioxide levels, Cuffey was quoted as saying in a news release from UC Berkeley, adding that the situation today, with global warming driven primarily by human emissions of carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels, is different from natural cycles. The ability of the oceans to take up carbon dioxide cannot keep up with the rising levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, meaning carbon dioxide and global temperatures will continue to increase unless humans cut their emissions.

Secret 13ft Robot inspired by Avatar

Scientists have programmed a monster one-tonne robot that can walk and mimic human movements resembling something from Avatar .

The METHOD-1 machine is four metres tall and when it stomps it leaves the ground “shaking”, according to designer Vitaly Bulgarov.

The giant robot, built in South Korea, works by repeating the actions of its pilot sitting inside by moving its enormous arms and legs up and down.

In astonishing video the sinister machine can be seen walking across a laboratory floor using its mechanical joints.

A control room just big enough for a human operator to squeeze in sits where the robot’s chest should be.

It was created by Seoul-based Korea Future Technology but it is unclear how it will be used.

 The designer modelled his high-tech creation after working on Hollywood blockbusters including Robocop, Transformers 4 and Terminator Genisys.

Vitaly is remaining tight-lipped about the robot, but said it could be used to “solve problems” rather than for evil.

He wrote on Facebook: “I’ll just say for now that from a mechanical/software/hardware/electric engineering stand point it was quite an ambitious project that required developing and enhancing a lot of technologies along the way.

“That growth opens up many real world applications where everything we have been learning so far on this robot can be applied to solve real world problems.”

Humans Are Totally Unprepared For A Potential Asteroid Strike, NASA Scientist Warns

Speaking at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco, Nuth said: “The biggest problem, basically, is there’s not a hell of a lot we can do about it at the moment,” according to The Guardian.

Despite the NASA planetary defence office having been established – with the aim to observe the skies for possible asteroid strikes – this will supposedly not give us a large enough window to begin a preventative mission.

In fact, it takes years to complete a ‘deflection’ operation – five to launch a spacecraft - and the most recent ‘near miss’ with Mars in 2014 was only noticed 22 months before impact.

Admittedly there is a very low chance of an earth impact in the next 100 years, approximately 0.01% according to NASA themselves, but Nuth said: “On the other hand they are the extinction-level events, things like dinosaur killers, they’re 50 to 60 million years apart, essentially.

“You could say, of course, we’re due, but it’s a random course at that point.”

The current plan of action is mass evacuation, but Nuth recommend that NASA build an interceptor rocket with periodic testing, alongside an observer spacecraft to stop catastrophic fireballs from hitting us.

However even if we were able to cut the action time in half, Nuth still says this would be a “hail-mary pass”.

Back in August, NASA sent a probe to an asteroid, Bennu, that could one day hit Earth and bring about our downfall. 

Speaking to the Sunday Times, Principal Investigator Dante Lauretta confirmed that in 2135 its believed Bannu will pass between the Earth and the moon, and could potentially leave a wake of destruction.

The first-in-human clinical trial targeting Alzheimer's tau protein

So far, many of the antibody drugs proposed to treat Alzheimer's disease target only the amyloid plaques. Despite the latest clinical trial that is hailed as our best chance in the quest for treating AD, all later phase trials have failed with many causing severe side effects in the patients, such as abnormal accumulation of fluid and inflammation in the brain. One of the reasons for side effects, many speculate, is due to the antibody directing a reaction towards normal amyloid present in blood vessels or simply releasing beta-amyloid caught in the vessel wall.

The authors of the study have developed a vaccine that stimulates the production of an antibody that specifically targets pathological tau, discovering its "Achilles' heel." It is able to do this because healthy tau undergoes a series of changes to its structure forming a new region that the antibody attacks. This new region (the "Achilles' heel"), while not present in healthy tau, is present in diseased tau early on. Therefore, the antibody tackles all the different varieties of pathological tau. In addition to this important specificity, the antibody is coupled to a carrier molecule that generates a considerable immune response with the added benefit that it is not present in humans, thus avoiding the development of an immune reaction towards the body itself.

Side effects have included a local reaction at the site of injection. This skin reaction is thought to occur due to the aluminum hydroxide, an adjuvant used in vaccines to enhance the body's own antibody production. No other serious secondary effects were directly related to the vaccine. Overall, the safety of the drug and its ability to elicit an immune response were remarkable.

While many trials against Alzheimer's disease stubbornly continue to target amyloid, our study dares to attack the disease from another standpoint. This is the first active vaccination to harness the body's ability to produce antibodies against pathological tau. Even though this study is only a phase 1 trial, its success so far gives the authors confidence that it may be the answer they are looking for to halt the progress of this devastating disease.


Ant species ready to take over world, suggests new study

An ant species living in Ethiopian forests is displaying signs of taking over the whole world. It is already moving out of the forests into agricultural land and construction sites. And, supercolonies spanning as much as 38 kilometres have been found.

Scientists believe that this ant species, formally called Lepisiota canescens, has the potential of spreading all over the world and posing threats to other ants.

According to D Magdalena Sorger, a post-doctoral researcher with the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and a key member of the team researching this ant species, the discovery is significant for two reasons. First, supercolony formation in ants is rare, with documented cases of only around 20 species worldwide. Second, other species in the Lepisiota genus have recently made headlines as worrisome invasive species, one in South Africa's Kruger National Park and another that shut down Australia's Darwin Port for several days. The team's findings, were published in Insectes Sociaux in November.

In Ethiopia, forests frequently surround Orthodox churches, some of which are more than 1,500 years old. These forests range in size from only a few hectares to more than 400 (~1,000 acres) and can be considered relict oases within largely barren land and agricultural fields. While L. canescens is native to the general region, it is now moving in large numbers into disturbed habitat like some of the more degraded church forests, but also beyond forest boundaries, into neighboring agricultural fields, and along recently constructed roads and other urban structures.

And that might be just the beginning, says lead author Sorger, who worked on this study while at North Carolina State University. "The species we found in Ethiopia may have a high potential of becoming a globally invasive species. Invasive species often travel with humans, so as tourism and global commerce to this region of Ethiopia continues to increase, so will the likelihood that the ants could hitch a ride, possibly in plant material or even in the luggage of tourists. All it takes is one pregnant queen. That's how fire ants started!"

Supercolonies are colonies that extend beyond just a single nest and can sometimes cover many thousands of miles. The strongest basis for describing a large colony as a supercolony is its capacity to expand its range without constraints. In this study, the scientists found several supercolonies of L canescens, the largest one spanning 38 km (24 miles). Molecular analysis of these ants showed lots of genetic diversity within and between supercolonies, indicating supercolony members were not more closely related and this species was native to the region. These are the largest documented supercolonies of a native ant species. Yet their exploding numbers, along with their observed ecological dominance as well as general nesting and diet, are all characteristics reminiscent of an invasive species.

 

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