Crocs Uncover

Bizarre Species

miércoles, 25 de enero de 2012

New Mars samples 'unlike any seen before'

A new site being explored by the Mars rover Opportunity has yielded soil samples unlike any examined before on the red planet and that appear more favorable for life, scientists said.

Opportunity, the indefatigable robot that has been exploring Mars for seven and a half years, arrived three weeks ago at the edge of a 22 kilometer (13.6 mile) wide crater named Endeavour and has been sending back images of the surrounding environment.

The first rock it examined is a flat-topped object about the size of a foot stool that apparently was cast up by an impact that left an impression the size of a tennis court on the rim of the crater.

Called Tisdale 2, the rock "is different from any rock we've ever seen on Mars," said Steve Squyres, a Cornell University scientist who is the principal investigator for Opportunity.

"It has a composition similar to some volcanic rocks, but there's much more zinc and bromine than we've typically seen," he said at a news conference.

The observations and measurements taken by the American Martian orbiters leads scientists to believe that the rocks on the rim of the crater contain clay minerals that form in wet conditions and which are less acidic and possibly more favorable for life, they said.

A bench around the edge of the crater resembles sedimentary rock that has been cut and filled with veins of material possibly left there by water, said Ray Arvidson, another member of the team who is from Washington University in St Louis, Missouri.

During the past two weeks, researchers have used an instrument attached to Opportunity's robot arm to identify the elements that make up the rock.

Secrets of WWI Battlefield Uncovered

An ongoing archaeological survey of a World War I site in Turkey has so far uncovered a maze of trenches, as well as about 200 artifacts that offer clues to life on a Gallipoli battlefield where troops faced off for eight months.

The survey is one of the most extensive to date of an historic battlefield.

On April 25, 1915, less than a year after World War I broke out, Allied forces — from Australia, New Zealand, Britain and France — landed on the Gallipoli Peninsula, now part of Turkey. Almost a century ago, this land belonged to the Ottoman Empire, an ally of Germany and the Central Powers.

The survey is being conducted on the Anzac battlefield, which measures 2 miles by 1.5 miles (3.2 kilometers by 2.4 kilometers), where the Australia-New Zealand Army Corps (known as the Anzacs) faced off against troops from the Ottoman Empire until Dec. 19 and Dec. 20, 1915, when the Anzac troops evacuated.

As at other WWI battlefields, troops fought from trenches dug into the ground. Some of the networks of trenches found near the frontline of the Anzac battlefield were so dense that they would be difficult to map, even using modern techniques, according to the researchers.

The trenches for both sides were remarkably close to each other, largely because of the rugged terrain, which made their layout much less orderly than trench systems established at WWI battlefields in western Europe, according to Richard Reid, of the Australian Department of Veterans' Affairs, and Ian McGibbon of New Zealand's Ministry for Culture and Heritage, both senior historians working on the project.

The frontline trenches were occupied at all times, since the two sides could be just 10 to 20 yards (9.1 to 18.3 meters) apart. At a spot on the Anzac battlefield called Quinn's Post, both sides constantly lobbed bombs at each other, so troops were regularly rotated in and out, Reid and McGibbon wrote to LiveScience in an email.

The survey, done as part of the second season of field work at the site, also uncovered the top of a tier of terraces constructed to house reserve troops at Quinn's Post on the Allied side. This discovery was a pleasant surprise because erosion was feared to have obliterated these terraces, they wrote.

"In terms of archaeology, the most significant finds are perhaps related to living conditions on both sides of the lines — the eating and drinking habits of the troops. A Turkish oven was located, and 200 relics of the fighting, ranging from bullets to bullet-holed water cans," they wrote.

These include pieces of medical bottles; tin containers that once held food, such asbully beef, sardines and jam; expended ammunition; shrapnel and barbed wire fragments. It appears the Turkish troops had more access to fresh-cooked meals, than troops on the Allied side, where food tins were more abundant.

"Despite the historical importance of the Gallipoli battlefield, our knowledge of this area to date has been based on maps and written accounts. This area has never been studied in detail through modern archaeological survey methods," said Warren Snowdon, Australia's Minister for Veterans' Affairs in a statement. [History's Most Overlooked Mysteries]

The survey, part of the five-year-long Turkey, Australia and New Zealand Historical and Archaeological Survey of the Anzac Battlefield is one of the largest investigations in battlefield archaeology ever attempted, according to the Australian government.

This year and last year, excavators have found almost 18,763 feet (5,719 meters) of trenches, 16 cemeteries, about 200 artifacts and numerous collapsed tunnels, dugouts and other features. The next session of field work is planned for September 2012.

From a military perspective, the Turks won the campaign but lost more than 80,000 dead. The Ottoman Army never really recovered from this effort, and ultimately had to accept defeat in 1918, wrote McGibbon and Reid.

Ultimately, this campaign was important to the development of modern Turkey, New Zealand and Australia, they wrote.

Porsche-designed condo lifts owners and cars to high-rise homes

Sean Gallup/Getty Images

The big problem for builders of luxury homes in the cities where wealthy people choose to live is the sheer lack of space, especially for parking a small fleet of vehicles. Which is why one Miami Beach condo developer plans to build a new skyscraper with a robotic parking deck built in.

The $560-million Porsche Design Tower project as described by the Miami Herald will allow owners to ride their vehicles into a robotic elevator system that drops them and their vehicles at their doorstep. The condos were designed by Porsche Design Group, a spinoff of the German automaker that lends its style to everything from office complexes to cellphones. (Developer Gil Dezer also has Porsche body panels mounted on his walls.)

The condo will have 132 units over 57 stories, with larger units sporting up to four parking spaces per unit. Porsche didn't have to go far for inspiration, as the tower is similar in design to Volkswagen’s Autostadt in Wolfsberg, Germany, shown above, a 20-story robotic parking garage that VW uses to deliver cars to new buyers. Really, it's the only way to valet.

Mystery of Dead Sea Scroll Authors Possibly Solved – 5 hrs ago

The Dead Sea Scrolls may have been written, at least in part, by a sectarian group called the Essenes, according to nearly 200 textiles discovered in caves at Qumran, in the West Bank, where the religious texts had been stored.

Scholars are divided about who authored the Dead Sea Scrolls and how the texts got to Qumran, and so the new finding could help clear up this long-standing mystery.

The research reveals that all the textiles were made of linen, rather than wool, which was the preferred textile used in ancient Israel. Also they lack decoration, some actually being bleached white, even though fabrics from the period often have vivid colours. Altogether, researchers say these finds suggest that the Essenes, an ancient Jewish sect, "penned" some of the scrolls.

Not everyone agrees with this interpretation. An archaeologist who has excavated at Qumran told LiveScience that the linen could have come from people fleeing the Roman army after the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, and that they are in fact responsible for putting the scrolls into caves.

Iconic scrolls

The Dead Sea Scrolls consist of nearly 900 texts, the first batch of which were discovered by a Bedouin shepherd in 1947. They date from before A.D. 70, and some may go back to as early as the third century B.C. The scrolls contain a wide variety of writings including early copies of the Hebrew Bible, along with hymns, calendars and psalms, among other works. [Gallery of Dead Sea Scrolls]

Nearly 200 textiles were found in the same caves, along with a few examples from Qumran, the archaeological site close to the caves where the scrolls were hidden.

Orit Shamir, curator of organic materials at the Israel Antiquities Authority, and Naama Sukenik, a graduate student at Bar-Ilan University, compared the white-linen textiles found in the11 caves to examples found elsewhere in ancient Israel, publishing their results in the most recent issue of the journal Dead Sea Discoveries.

A breakthrough in studying these remains was made in 2007 when a team of archaeologists was able to ascertain that colorful wool textiles found at a site to the south of Qumran, known as the Christmas Cave, were not related to the inhabitants of the site. This meant that Shamir and Sukenik were able to focus on the 200 textiles found in the Dead Sea Scroll caves and at Qumran itself, knowing that these are the only surviving textiles related to the scrolls.

They discovered that every single one of these textiles was made of linen, even though wool was the most popular fabric at the time in Israel. They also found that most of the textiles would have originally been used as clothing, later being cut apart and re-used for other purposes such as bandages and for packing the scrolls into jars. [Photos of Dead Sea textiles]

Some of the textiles were bleached white and most of them lacked decoration, even though decoration is commonly seen in textiles from other sites in ancient Israel.

According to the researchers the finds suggest that the residents of Qumran dressed simply.

"They wanted to be different than the Roman world," Shamir told LiveScience in a telephone interview. "They were very humble, they didn't want to wear colorful textiles, they wanted to use very simple textiles."

The owners of the clothing likely were not poor, as only one of the textiles had a patch on it."This is very, very, important," Shamir said. "Patching is connected with [the] economic situation of the site."

Shamir pointed out that textiles found at sites where people were under stress, such as at the Cave of Letters, which was used in a revolt against the Romans, were often patched. On the other hand "if the site is in a very good economic situation, if it is a very rich site, the textiles will not be patched," she said. With Qumran, "I think [economically] they were in the middle, but I'm sure they were not poor."

Robert Cargill, a professor at the University of Iowa, has written extensively about Qumran and has developed a virtual model of it. He said that archaeological evidence from the site, including coins and glassware, also suggests the inhabitants were not poor.

"Far from being poor monastics, I think there was wealth at Qumran, at least some form of wealth," Cargill said, arguing that trade was important at the site. "I think they made their own pottery and sold some of it, I think they bred animals and sold them, I think they made honey and sold it."

Who wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls?

Scholars are divided about who authored the Dead Sea Scrolls and how the texts got to Qumran. Some argue that the scrolls were written at the site itself while others say they were written in Jerusalem or elsewhere in Israel.

Qumran itself was first excavated by Roland de Vaux in the 1950s. He came to the conclusion that the site was inhabited by a religious sect called the Essenes who wrote the scrolls and stored them in caves. Among the finds he made were water pools, which he believed were used for ritual bathing, and multiple inkwells found in a room that became known as the "scriptorium." Based on his excavations, scholars have estimated the population of the site at as high as 200.

More recent archaeological work, conducted by Yitzhak Magen and Yuval Peleg of the Israel Antiquities Authority, suggests that the site could not have supported more than a few dozen people and had nothing to do with the scrolls themselves. They believe that the scrolls were deposited in the caves by refugees fleeing the Roman army after Jerusalem was conquered in A.D. 70.

Magen and Peleg found that the site came into existence around 100 B.C. as a military outpost used by the Hasmoneans, a Jewish kingdom that flourished in the area. After the Romans took over Judaea in 63 B.C. the site was abandoned and eventually was taken over by civilians who used it for pottery production. They found that the pools de Vaux discovered include a fine layer of potters' clay.

There are other ideas as well. Cargill argues that while Qumran started out as a fort it was later occupied by a sectarian group whose members were deeply concerned with ritual purity. "Whether or not they are the Essenes, that's a different question," he said. This group, much smaller than earlier estimates of 200 people, would have written some of the scrolls, while collecting others, he argues.

Other groups, not part of the Qumran community, may also have been putting scrolls into the caves, Cargill said.

Can clothing solve the mystery?

The new clothing research may help to identify the writers of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Shamir told LiveScience that it is unlikely the scrolls were deposited in the caves by Roman refugees. If that were the case, the more-popular textile in ancient Israel, wool, would have been found in the caves along with other garments.

"If people run away from Jerusalem they would take all sorts of textiles with them, not only linen textiles," she said. "The people who ran away to the Cave of Letters, they took wool textiles with them."

Peleg, the archaeologist who co-led the recent archaeological work at Qumran, told LiveScience he disagrees with that assessment. He said he stands by the idea that there is no connection between Qumran and the scrolls stored in the caves.

"We must remember that almost all the textiles were found in the caves andnot at the site. The main question is the connection between the site and the scrolls," Peleg wrote in an email. "I can find alternative explanations for the fact that scrolls were found with linen."

For instance, linen could have been chosen as scroll wrapping for religious reasons or perhaps priests were responsible for storing the scrolls and they wore linen clothing. "The clothes of the priests were made from linen," Peleg wrote.

In their paper, Shamir and Sukenik say that the clothing found in the Dead Sea Scroll caves is similar to historical descriptions of the clothing of the Essenes, suggesting that they in fact lived at Qumran. They point to an ancient Jewish writer, Flavius Josephus, who wrote that the Essenes "make a point of keeping a dry skin and always being dressed in white." (However, Josephus never said anything about the clothing being made of linen, Peleg points out.)

Josephusalso wrote that the Essenes were very frugal when it came to clothing and shared goods with each other.

"In their dress and deportment they resemble children under rigorous discipline. They do not change their garments or shoes until they are torn to shreds or worn threadbare with age. There is no buying or selling among themselves, but each gives what he has to any in need and receives from him in exchange something useful to himself ..."

(Translation from "Jewish Life and Thought Among Greeks and Romans: Primary Readings," Louis Feldman and Meyer Reinhold, 1996.)

In their paper, Shamir and Sukenikalso point to another ancient writer, Philo of Alexandria, who wrote that the Essenes wore a common style of simple dress.

"And not only is their table in common but their clothes also. For in winter they have a stock of stout coats ready and in summer cheap vests, so that he who wishes may easily take any garment he likes, since what one has is held to belong to all and conversely what all have one has."

(Translation from the "Selected Writing of Philo of Alexandria," edited by Hans Lewy, 1965.)

Cargill said that the clothing is further evidence that there was a Jewish sectarian group living at Qumran.

"You do have evidence of a group that raised its own animals, pressed its own date honey, that appears to have worn distinctive clothes and made its own pottery, and followed its own calendar, at least a calendar different from the temple priesthood," he said. "Those are all signs of a sectarian group."

He also noted the presence of mikveh (ritual baths) at the site and the fact that the residents could make pottery that was ritually pure.

This group appears to have wanted to separate itself from the priests based at the temple in Jerusalem. "There is a congruency within many of the sectarian documents that appears to be consistent with a sectarian group that has separated itself from the temple priesthood in Jerusalem," Cargill said.

According to Cargill's theory, the people of Qumran would have written some of the scrolls, while collecting others. "Obviously they didn't write all of the scrolls," Cargill said. Dating indicates some of the scrolls were written before Qumran even existed. One unusual scroll, made of copper, may have been deposited after Qumran was abandoned in A.D. 70.

Cargill says it's possible that some of the scrolls may have been put in caves from people outside the community. If that's true, some of the textiles could also be from people outside of Qumran.

"[If] not all of the Dead Sea Scrolls are the responsibility of sectarians at Qumran then it would follow that not all of the textiles that are discovered in the caves are [the] product of a sect at Qumran," Cargill said.

Were there women at Qumran?

The new research may alsoshed light on who created the textiles.

The textiles are of high quality and, based on the archaeological finds at Qumran itself, where there is little evidence of spindle whorls or loom weights, the team thinks it's unlikely they would have been made at the site.

"This is very, very important, because this is connected to gender," Shamir said, "spinning is connected with women."

She explained that the textiles were likely created at another site in Israel, with women playing a key role in their production. This suggests that there were few women living at Qumran itself. "Weaving is connected with men and women, but spinning was only a production of women, [and] we don't find this item at Qumran."

25 "Worst Passwords" of 2011 Revealed

If you see your password below, STOP!

Do not finish reading this post and immediately go change your password -- before you forget. You will probably make changes in several places since passwords tend to be reused for multiple accounts.

Here are two lists, the first compiled by SplashData:

1. password

2. 123456


4. qwerty

5. abc123

6. monkey

7. 1234567

8. letmein

9. trustno1

10. dragon

11. baseball

12. 111111

13. iloveyou

14. master

15. sunshine

16. ashley

17. bailey

18. passw0rd

19. shadow

20. 123123

21. 654321

22. superman

23. qazwsx

24. michael

25. football

Last year, Imperva looked at 32 million passwords stolen from RockYou, a hacked website, and released its own Top 10 "worst" list:

1. 123456

2. 12345

3. 123456789

4. Password

5. iloveyou

6. princess

7. rockyou

8. 1234567

9. 12345678

10. abc123

If you've gotten this far and don't see any of your passwords, that's good news. But, note that complex passwords combining letters and numbers, such as passw0rd (with the "o" replaced by a zero) are starting to get onto the 2011 list. abc123 is a mixed password that showed up on both lists.

Last year, Imperva provided a list of password best practices, created by NASA to help its users protect their rocket science, they include:

It should contain at least eight characters

It should contain a mix of four different types of characters - upper case letters, lower case letters, numbers, and special characters such as !@#$%^&*,;" If there is only one letter or special character, it should not be either the first or last character in the password.

It should not be a name, a slang word, or any word in the dictionary. It should not include any part of your name or your e-mail address.

Following that advice, of course, means you'll create a password that will be impossible, unless you try a trick credited to security guru Bruce Schneir: Turn a sentence into a password.

For example, "Now I lay me down to sleep" might become nilmDOWN2s, a 10-character password that won't be found in any dictionary.

Can't remember that password? Schneir says it's OK to write it down and put it in your wallet, or better yet keep a hint in your wallet. Just don't also include a list of the sites and services that password works with. Try to use a different password on every service, but if you can't do that, at least develop a set of passwords that you use at different sites.

Someday, we will use authentication schemes, perhaps biometrics, that don't require so much jumping through hoops to protect our data. But, in the meantime, passwords are all most of us have, so they ought to be strong enough to do the job.

Archaeologist traces Pocahontas wedding site

Beverly Straube, senior archaeological curator at the site of Jamestown, Virginia, …

Archeologist William Kelso is certain he's discovered the remains of the oldest Protestant church in the United States, standing between two holes he insists once held wooden posts.

In 1614, Pocahontas was "married right here, I guarantee," Kelso told AFP at the Jamestown, Virginia archeological site southeast of the nation's capital.

Near the James River, on May 14, 1607, a group of about a hundred men landed on commission from England to form the first colony in the Americas.

"It's fantastically exciting and significant because Jamestown is usually depicted -- the whole early settlement depicted -- as it was carried out by lazy gentlemen who wanted to get rich quick, and go right back to England."

The area was carefully excavated to reveal several large post holes 6.5 feet (two meters) deep and the trace remnants of four graves.

Two other Protestant churches are thought to have been built before, but left no trace, and remains of a Catholic church were also found in Florida -- but Kelso is sure this one is the oldest left.

"Religion played a big role" in the community, Kelso said as he stood near the river where small fluttering flags marked the building's outline. Settlers "put a lot of work in the building of this big church, and that became very important for the colony."

Noting the size of the wood post's holes, Kelso said the church would have been able to support the mud and stud building's heavy roof.

According to surviving records describing the church kept by the secretary of the colony, what was built matches what can be seen today at the site. "I'm convinced because it's the right size," said Kelso.

The four graves also match with the four important members of the colony who would have been buried so close to the church. Kelso said there were a knight, two captains and Reverend Robert Hunt, the first cleric to come to the site.

Pointing out where Pocahontas, Chief Powhatan's favorite daughter, would have stood when she married an Englishman, Kelso marveled at the event's place in colonial history, allowing further settlements in what was then foreign, hostile territory for the European settlers.

"With that wedding, the Indians backed off and there was no more fighting," Kelso recalled.

The Indian princess, well known to American children, was popularized through an animated Walt Disney film that transformed her meeting with Englishman John Smith into a romance.

Renamed Rebecca, she was later to marry another Englishman, John Rolfe, before dying in England at the tender age of 21.

The next tasks for archeologists in the coming months will be to dig up the graves.

"We know the ages, we have baptism records," Kelso said, excited at the tantalizing possibility of confirming their identities with the study of bones, teeth and possibly markings from injuries still traced to the bones.

Kalachakra for World Peace 2012

UK scientists find 'lost' Darwin fossils

LONDON (AP) — British scientists have found scores of fossils the great evolutionary theorist Charles Darwin and his peers collected but that had been lost for more than 150 years.

Dr. Howard Falcon-Lang, a paleontologist at Royal Holloway, University of London, said Tuesday that he stumbled upon the glass slides containing the fossils in an old wooden cabinet that had been shoved in a "gloomy corner" of the massive, drafty British Geological Survey.

Using a flashlight to peer into the drawers and hold up a slide, Falcon-Lang saw one of the first specimens he had picked up was labeled 'C. Darwin Esq."

"It took me a while just to convince myself that it was Darwin's signature on the slide," the paleontologist said, adding he soon realized it was a "quite important and overlooked" specimen.

He described the feeling of seeing that famous signature as "a heart in your mouth situation," saying he wondering "Goodness, what have I discovered!"

Falcon-Lang's find was a collection of 314 slides of specimens collected by Darwin and other members of his inner circle, including John Hooker — a botanist and dear friend of Darwin — and the Rev. John Henslow, Darwin's mentor at Cambridge, whose daughter later married Hooker.

The first slide pulled out of the dusty corner at the British Geological Survey turned out to be one of the specimens collected by Darwin during his famous expedition on the HMS Beagle, which changed the young Cambridge graduate's career and laid the foundation for his subsequent work on evolution.

Falcon-Lang said the unearthed fossils — lost for 165 years — show there is more to learn from a period of history scientists thought they knew well.

"To find a treasure trove of lost Darwin specimens from the Beagle voyage is just extraordinary," Falcon-Lang added. "We can see there's more to learn. There are a lot of very, very significant fossils in there that we didn't know existed."

He said one of the most "bizarre" slides came from Hooker's collection — a specimen of prototaxites, a 400 million-year-old tree-sized fungus.

Hooker had assembled the collection of slides while briefly working for the British Geological Survey in 1846, according to Royal Holloway, University of London.

The slides — "stunning works of art," according to Falcon-Lang — contain bits of fossil wood and plants ground into thin sheets and affixed to glass in order to be studied under microscopes. Some of the slides are half a foot long (15 centimeters), "great big chunks of glass," Falcon-Lang said.

"How these things got overlooked for so long is a bit of a mystery itself," he mused, speculating that perhaps it was because Darwin was not widely known in 1846 so the collection might not have been given "the proper curatorial care."

Royal Holloway, University of London said the fossils were 'lost' because Hooker failed to number them in the formal "specimen register" before setting out on an expedition to the Himalayas. In 1851, the "unregistered" fossils were moved to the Museum of Practical Geology in Piccadilly before being transferred to the South Kensington's Geological Museum in 1935 and then to the British Geological Survey's headquarters near Nottingham 50 years later, the university said.

The discovery was made in April, but it has taken "a long time" to figure out the provenance of the slides and photograph all of them, Falcon-Lang said. The slides have now been photographed and will be made available to the public through a new online museum exhibit opening Tuesday.

Falcon-Lang expects great scientific papers to emerge from the discovery.

"There are some real gems in this collection that are going to contribute to ongoing science."

Dr. John Ludden, executive director of the Geological Survey, called the find a "remarkable" discovery.

"It really makes one wonder what else might be hiding in our collections," he said.

Inside A $1.5 Million Cave House

Provided by:Forbes

The 37-acre Chulo Canyon Cave House was created by mining granite boulders and excavating blasted rocks.
Photo: Bisbee Realty

Locals refer to it as the Cave House and the nickname is apt. Sitting on 37 acres just outside of Bisbee, AZ, a mining town-turned-Baby Boomer retirement haven about 80 miles from Tucson, the Chulo Canyon Cave House is carved into an outcropping of granite boulder, extending more than 2,000-square feet into a desert grotto.

The strange and unusual dwelling is up for grabs and could be yours for $1.5 million. It occupies 2,890-square feet of living space and comes with a 890-square foot guest house, a subterranean game room underneath the guest house, a library building, a stand-alone workshop space, a separate home office, and a carport. The main house features rough petrous walls, rock and cement ceilings, and potable wall water seep that is collected from a natural spring. There’s a glass-walled sunroom, a commercial-grade kitchen with stained glass cabinets and mosaic tiling, an-eight person dining room, a sunken living room, two full bathrooms, a sleep loft with walk-in closet tucked below underneath the loft stairs, and a back room that is currently used as an exercise and yoga room.

The desert abode was built by the current owner, specifically the current owner’s late husband who recently passed away. “It’s technically a man made cave that was actually blasted out of the rock existing there,” explains Jean Noreen, a Realtor with Bisbee Realty and the listing agent for the Cave House. ”But it has all of the good qualities of a cave for living like it stays the same temperature all year round.” Maintaining a so-called ‘rock temperature,’ the house never slides below 66 degrees Fahrenheit or above 72 degrees.

The main house greets guest with a wall of windows before extending back into the cave.
Photo: Bisbee Realty

Creating this man-made cavern home meant recruiting a mining engineer who, using the Swedish straight wall mining technique, injected the ceilings with roof bolts and excavated blasted rock with ammonium nitrate.

But as attention-grabbing as the stone-forged main lair is, the property’s zaniness doesn’t end there. Starting with the pools, which are not your typical chlorinated in-grounds. Rather, the home’s natural pools are a short hike away, up the side of a nearby mountain and fed by a freshwater creek for six to eight months out of the year. The higher up the mountain you climb the more pools you have to choose from. The owners also installed a carefully camouflaged hot tub.

A perk of living in a cave is consistent temperature, which stays between 66 and 72 degrees.
Photo: Bisbee Realty

The other buildings on the premises peddle some secretive amenities, too. Lying below the two-story guest house is a game room with a separate entrance. The subterranean space is constructed of cement blocks and fluorescent lighting. The nearby library building, also constructed of cement blocks, doubles as a safe house, with a back room accessible through a roll-down metal security door hidden behind a sliding glass door. The back room is equipped with a Murphy bed, an air conditioner, an antique vault and a climate-controlled gun safe.
The Cave House has graced the Multiple Listing Services sporadically for years. "When we first put it on we did so for close to $3 million," says Noreen. The price bumped down to $1.5 million last year, when the owners decided they were truly serious about selling. But despite the 50% price chop, a buyer has yet to put up an accepted offer. Noreen believes it will be nontraditional home buyers that ultimately purchase this pad: "It would make a great retreat for something like a yoga retreat or as an alternative healing place. It’s very peaceful."

The real estate market in Bisbee has suffered its share of foreclosures in the past several years and prices plunged about 20% from their early 2008 highs, according to Zillow. Now home prices are cautiously inching back up. Noreen says homes are selling at prices that haven’t been seen since the late 1990s. “We’ve actually been really active…and we have a whole realm of people coming in to buy at these lower prices,” she remarks. Now to find a well-off a New Age nature-lover who wants to plunk down seven figures to live in a cave.

Researchers, tribes clash over Native bones

n this photo taken Dec. 8, 2011, Dr. Mari Lyn Salvador, Director of the Phoebe A. …

BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) — On a bluff overlooking a sweep of Southern California beach, scientists in 1976 unearthed what were among the oldest skeletal remains ever found in the Western Hemisphere.

Researchers would come to herald the bones — dating back nearly 10,000 years — as a potential treasure trove for understanding the earliest human history of the continental United States. But a local tribal group called the Kumeyaay Nation claimed that the bones, representing at least two people, were their ancestors and demanded them back several years ago.

For decades, fights like this over the provenance and treatment of human bones have played out across the nation. Yet new federal protections could mean that the vast majority of the remains of an estimated 160,000 Native Americans held by universities, museums and federal government agencies, including those sought by the Kumeyaay, may soon be transferred to tribes.

A recent federal regulation addresses what should happen to any remains that cannot be positively traced to the ancestors of modern-day tribes. Museums and agencies are required to notify tribes whose current or ancestral lands harbored the remains, then the tribe is entitled to have them back.

Prestigious institutions from Harvard to the University of California, Berkeley have already begun working through storehouses of remains uncovered by archeologists, highway and building contractors and others since the 19th Century. A few are surrendering bones to Native tribes, and others are evaluating whether to do so.

Tribes have hailed the rule, saying it will help close a long and painful chapter that saw native peoples' bones stolen by grave robbers, boxed up in dusty storerooms and disrespected by researchers.

"Darn it, these are people," said Louis Guassac, a member of the Kumeyaay Cultural Repatriation Committee. "This isn't stuff. You don't do this to people. I don't care how long they've been there. You respect them."

The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990 provided for the return of remains connected to modern-day tribes. But it was not until 2010 that a rule on the disposition of so-called culturally unidentifiable remains was finalized by the Department of the Interior. Until then, more than 650 universities and other institutions had no clear guidance about how to return those remains, which account for the bones of about 116,000 people in their collections. That rule is still playing out, sometimes fractiously.

Universities find themselves tugged one way by the law's mandates, another by faculty research needs.

Some anthropologists say more remains will become off limits, imperiling study of the diets, health, migrations and other habits of ancient peoples without guaranteeing that the remains will wind up with their true descendants. "There really isn't any balance anymore," said Keith Kintigh, associate director of the School of Human Evolution and Social Change at Arizona State University. "The public and scientific interest in (the remains) no longer have any weight."

In recent months, Harvard's Peabody Museum has received requests for about 500 remains and hired additional staff as they respond to the 2010 rule, said Patricia Capone, the museum's repatriation coordinator.

At the University of Michigan, officials have decided to transfer the bulk of their 1,580 culturally unaffiliated remains to 13 Native American tribes who want them. In the meantime, they have been put off limits to researchers. "The law is very clear that they will be transferred," said school spokesman Rick Fitzgerald.

At UC-Berkeley, more than 6,000 of the roughly 10,000 remains that were deemed culturally unidentifiable are now subject to potential transfer to tribes. And the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Archaeology here has added four new staff members to help match remains to tribes if possible and notify tribes whose lands held the remains.

The small, eclectic museum recently celebrated the 100th anniversary of a recording made by Ishi — the last surviving member of the Yahi tribe who emerged from hiding in Northern California in 1911. The museum displays artifacts such as Pomo baskets, an Achumawi rabbit-skin blanket and arrowheads Ishi made out of obsidian and glass— but not the remains of native peoples.

The collection of bones —one of the country's largest — is in storage. Officials declined to show them to The Associated Press during a recent campus visit on grounds that that could be offensive to tribes.

The university currently has four pending requests for remains. And Museum Director Mari Lyn Salvador said the regulation change has caused concern among researchers.

"There are very important opportunities to understand contemporary medicine ... information that could be very useful to these (Native) communities themselves in terms of better understanding diabetes and other illnesses," she said.

The university presents such information to tribes, she said, but lets the tribes decide whether to allow researchers to work with the bones.

Tens of thousands of individual Native American remains have been collected since the mid-19th century. Some grave sites were looted or excavated to support scientific research, including a study of skulls purporting to show that Native Americans were inferior to Caucasians, according to Robert Bieder, an Indiana University professor who has written about the phenomenon.

The bones in dispute at UC San Diego have long since been out of the ground. They were excavated more than three decades ago from land around the university chancellor's house in La Jolla by a professor from another school. But a photo of the original discovery shows the outlines of two skeletons with skulls, buried head to toe.

Since their discovery in 1976, they have been studied at the Smithsonian and carbon dated at the University of Oxford, according to Margaret Schoeninger, a professor in the Department of Anthropology at UCSD and the university's representative on Indian burial issues.

When the Kumeyaay Nation — a dozen native bands with reservations in San Diego County — first demanded the remains, the university rejected its claim that they were the tribe's ancestors.

Researchers have said Kumeyaay remains were cremated early in the tribe's history, not buried. They have also questioned whether the remains are even Native American, given their age, although the university has concluded that they are.

"In terms of what the Kumeyaay have put forward, the only thing I've heard is their belief, their deep tie to the land and folklore," Schoeninger said. "We need empirical evidence."

Tribal representatives say they have an oral history that goes back thousands of years and connects them to the remains.

In light of the recent rule, university officials did a reevaluation, concluding that the skeletons came from the Kumeyaay's ancestral lands while still maintaining they were not the Kumeyaay's direct ancestors.

In a filing in December, the university said it would turn the remains over to the Kumeyaay although it gave other tribal groups until Jan. 4 to come forward and dispute the Kumeyaay's claim.

Kumeyaay repatriation officials say they will accept the remains.

"It's pleasing to know that these are going to finally be returned and properly taken care of," Guassac said. "They are going to be getting the respectful treatment they deserve."

One option, he said, is that the remains will be reburied.

New Mexico Is Stretching, Slowly but Surely

The driving distance between Phoenix and Dallas is getting farther. It's a minuscule difference -- not even a millimeter a year -- but it's a tangible phenomenon, and you can blame on the middleman: New Mexico. The Rio Grande Rift, fault line that bisects the state, is bursting at the seams, pushing apart New Mexico's borders and stretching the land around it.

But don't expect to straddle the fault line and have your legs ripped out from under you, unless you have centuries to wait: the state is getting just one inch wider every 40 years. Scientists calculate the Rio Grande Rift's pace of expansion as approximately 1.2 nanostrains per year. So it's less an expanding waistline than a stretchmark. Still, it's having an effect on hundreds of miles of surrounding terrain. According to the group of seven scientists from New Mexico, Colorado and Utah, who studied the Rio Grande Rift for more than four years before releasing their findings in the January 2012 issue of Geology Magazine, the pull of the canyon isn't a localized problem. (PHOTOS: Along the Rio Grande, Scenes of a Tense Border.)

"We didn't expect it to be so spread out," University of Colorado geophysicist Anne Sheehan told the Albuquerque Journal. Indeed, the rift's movement hasn't been absorbed into the land directly around it, leading to a widespread stretching and rucking that has affected terrain in a radius of hundreds of miles -- and maybe even more, stretching not just New Mexico but Texas and Arizona as well. (LIST: Top 10 U.S. News Stories of 2011.)

The research team calls it a "distributed deformation," but we prefer to think of it as an America-shaped piece of taffy stretching endlessly, slowly but surely. And that should give you an idea of what will happen if this rifting phenomenon keeps occurring. It's hardly a visible effect, but it's an unexpected feature of the ever-changing landscape. The scientists plan to continue monitoring the 25 GPS units they've set up in the region to see if the pace keeps up. They're not yet sure if the rifting puts the geology of the region in peril. The stretching of the Earth's surface is easier to see at the edges of tectonic plates, where there are typically volcanoes or mountains, but movement on an continental rift is more mysterious. Fortunately, at the paltry rate it's happening, scientists will have centuries, if not millennia, to come up with a game plan for controlling it.

Strongest solar storm since 2005 hitting Earth

This handout image provided by NASA, taken Sunday night, Jan. 22, 2012, shows a solar …

WASHINGTON (AP) — The sun is bombarding Earth with radiation from the biggest solar storm in more than six years with more to come from the fast-moving eruption.

The solar flare occurred at about 11 p.m. EST Sunday and will hit Earth with three different effects at three different times. The biggest issue is radiation, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Space Weather Prediction Center in Colorado.

The radiation is mostly a concern for satellite disruptions and astronauts in space. It can cause communication problems for polar-traveling airplanes, said space weather center physicist Doug Biesecker.

Radiation from Sunday's flare arrived at Earth an hour later and will likely continue through Wednesday. Levels are considered strong but other storms have been more severe. There are two higher levels of radiation on NOAA's storm scale — severe and extreme — Biesecker said. Still, this storm is the strongest for radiation since May 2005.

The radiation — in the form of protons — came flying out of the sun at 93 million miles per hour.

"The whole volume of space between here and Jupiter is just filled with protons and you just don't get rid of them like that," Biesecker said. That's why the effects will stick around for a couple days.

NASA's flight surgeons and solar experts examined the solar flare's expected effects and decided that the six astronauts on the International Space Station do not have to do anything to protect themselves from the radiation, spokesman Rob Navias said.

A solar eruption is followed by a one-two-three punch, said Antti Pulkkinen, a physicist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland and Catholic University.

First comes electromagnetic radiation, followed by radiation in the form of protons.

Then, finally the coronal mass ejection — that's the plasma from the sun itself — hits. Usually that travels at about 1 or 2 million miles per hour, but this storm is particularly speedy and is shooting out at 4 million miles per hour, Biesecker said.

It's the plasma that causes much of the noticeable problems on Earth, such as electrical grid outages. In 1989, a solar storm caused a massive blackout in Quebec. It can also pull the northern lights further south.

But this coronal mass ejection seems likely to be only moderate, with a chance for becoming strong, Biesecker said. The worst of the storm is likely to go north of Earth.

And unlike last October, when a freak solar storm caused auroras to be seen as far south as Alabama, the northern lights aren't likely to dip too far south this time, Biesecker said. Parts of New England, upstate New York, northern Michigan, Montana and the Pacific Northwest could see an aurora but not until Tuesday evening, he said.

For the past several years the sun had been quiet, almost too quiet. Part of that was the normal calm part of the sun's 11-year cycle of activity. Last year, scientists started to speculate that the sun was going into an unusually quiet cycle that seems to happen maybe once a century or so.

Now that super-quiet cycle doesn't seem as likely, Biesecker said.

Scientists watching the sun with a new NASA satellite launched in 2010 — during the sun's quiet period — are excited.

"We haven't had anything like this for a number of years," Pulkkinen said. "It's kind of special."

Mysterious 'Winged' Structure from Ancient Rome Discovered

The archaeological team inside the postholes from the later Roman building. Decorated …

A recently discovered mysterious "winged" structure in England, which in the Roman period may have been used as a temple, presents a puzzle for archaeologists, who say the building has no known parallels.

Built around 1,800 years ago, the structure was discovered in Norfolk, in eastern England, just to the south of the ancient town of Venta Icenorum. The structure has two wings radiating out from a rectangular room that in turn leads to a central room.

"Generally speaking, [during] the Roman Empire people built within a fixed repertoire of architectural forms," said William Bowden, a professor at the University of Nottingham, who reported the find in the most recent edition of the Journal of Roman Archaeology. The investigation was carried out in conjunction with the Norfolk Archaeological and Historical Research Group.

The winged shape of the building appears to be unique in the Roman Empire, with no other example known. "It's very unusual to find a building like this where you have no known parallels for it," Bowden told LiveScience. "What they were trying to achieve by using this design is really very difficult to say."

The building appears to have been part of a complex that includes a villa to the north and at least two other structures to the northeast and northwest. An aerial photograph suggests the existence of an oval or polygonal building with an apse located to the east.

The winged building

The foundation of the two wings and the rectangular room was made of a thin layer of rammed clay and chalk. "This suggests that the superstructure of much of the building was quite light, probably timber and clay-lump walls with a thatched roof," writes Bowden. This raises the possibility that the building was not intended to be used long term. [Photos of Mysterious Stone Structures]

The central room, on the other hand, was made of stronger stuff, with its foundations crafted from lime mortar mixed with clay and small pieces of flint and brick. That section likely had a tiled roof. "Roman tiles are very large things, they’re very heavy," Bowden said.

Sometime after the demise of this wing-shaped structure, another building, this one decorated, was built over it. Archaeologists found post holes from it with painted wall plaster inside.

Bowden said few artifacts were found at the site and none that could be linked to the winged structure with certainty. A plough had ripped through the site at some point, scattering debris. Also, metal detecting is a major problem in the Norfolk area, with people using metal detectors to locate and confiscate materials, something that may have happened at this site.

Still, even when the team found undisturbed layers, there was little in the way of artifacts. "This could suggest that it [the winged building] wasn't used for a very particularly long time," Bowden said.

The land of the Iceni

Researchers are not certain what the building was used for. While its elevated position made it visible from the town of Venta Icenorum, the foundations of the radiating wings are weak. "It's possible that this was a temporary building constructed for a single event or ceremony, which might account for its insubstantial construction,' writes Bowden in the journal article.

"Alternatively the building may represent a shrine or temple on a hilltop close to a Roman road, visible from the road as well as from the town."

Adding another layer to this mystery is the ancient history of Norfolk, where the structure was found.

The local people in the area, who lived here before the Roman conquest, were known as the Iceni. It may have been their descendents who lived at the site and constructed the winged building.

Iceni architecture was quite simple and, as Bowden explained, not as elaborate as this. On the other hand, their religion was intertwined with nature, something which may help explain the wind-blown location of the site. "Iceni gods, pre-Roman gods, tend to be associated with the natural sites: the springs, trees, sacred groves, this kind of thing," said Bowden.

The history between the Iceni and the Romans is a violent one. In A.D. 43, when the Romans, under Emperor Claudius, invaded Britain, they encountered fierce resistance from them. After a failed revolt in A.D. 47 they became a client kingdom of the empire, with Prasutagus as their leader. When he died, around A.D. 60, the Romans tried to finish the subjugation, in brutal fashion.

"First, his [Prasutagus'] wife Boudicea was scourged, and his daughters outraged. All the chief men of the Iceni, as if Rome had received the whole country as a gift, were stripped of their ancestral possessions, and the king's relatives were made slaves," wrote Tacitus, a Roman writer in The Annals. (From the book, "Complete Works of Tacitus," 1942, edited for the Perseus Digital Library.)

This led Boudicea (more commonly spelled Boudicca) to form an army and lead a revolt against the Romans. At first she was successful, defeating Roman military units and even sacking Londinium. In the end the Romans rallied and defeated her at the Battle of Watling Street. With the Roman victory the rebellion came to an end, and a town named Venta Icenorumwas eventually set up on their land. [Top 12 Warrior Moms in History]

"The Iceni vanish from history effectively after the Boudicca revolt in [A.D.] 60-61," said Bowden.

But while they vanished from written history, archaeological clues hint that their spirit remained very much alive. Bowden and David Mattingly, an archaeologist at the University of Leicester, both point out that the area has a low number of villas compared with elsewhere in Britain, suggesting the people continued to resist Roman culture long after Boudicca's failed revolt.

This lack of villas, along with problems attracting people to Roman settlements in the area, "can be read as a transcript of resistant adaption and rejection of Roman norms," writes Mattingly in his book "An Imperial Possession: Britain in the Roman Empire" (Penguin Books, 2007).

There is "still a fairly strong local identity," said Bowden, who cautioned that while local people may have lived at the complex, the winged building is out of character for both Roman and Iceni architectural styles, a fact that leaves his team with a mystery.

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