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Sunday, July 27, 2008

Bombardment of Anthro News

July has been busy and I've been storing them up, so here goes:

In 2007, thai police officers had to start wearing Hello Kitty armbands if they were caught doing something against the law. I want to know if they're still forced to do that (my suspicion is no). Anyone with the answer to that gets a brownie (point)!

Mexican mummies were stressed out too; ulcer bacteria found in mummy tummies.

90% of people can sing, really, according to this study.

If there are more male lemurs than female lemurs in a troop, female lemurs have a better chance of being the dominant leader of the whole group.

An interesting study of normal, middle-class people who live frugally, including by dumpster diving.

Archaeologists in Jerusalem and Korea have both found sites that have the tuberculosis bacterium and hope to use this ancient specimen (thousands of years old, we're talking) to help fight modern TB.

And finally, just for kicks, a study has found that guys' fertility drops off at a certain age, not just in women, so men too could be susceptible to a biological clock.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Dancing Matt videos: a positive critique

I honestly had never heard of this guy until a few months ago (apparently he’s been a viral internet celebrity for almost two years now), but watching this interview of Matt made some really good points. Having been trained as an anthropologist, I find the connection of people from completely different cultures through the Internet and through (silly) dance fascinating and wonderful. There are many reasons, such as:

1. There are definitely downsides to globalization, but when I see things like this it reminds me that there are some good parts to it too. People are connected in very different ways than they used to be, and community is no longer determined exclusively by geography.

2. The fact that dance is being used so successfully to bring everyone out is great, and it shows just how universal dancing really is.

3. There is also the point that the dance is silly, and lots of people (granted mostly young adults and kids) are willing to go on film, and all over the world, dancing and being silly and playing. Play is something that has been totally disregarded as important in the last 60 years my humble opinion (or IMHO for those of you who knew about this guy before now), when in fact play and creativity have been shown to be so important for brain development and just coming up with new solutions to problems. It is time that “play” returned to everyone’s positive vernacular, and just as everyone knows they need to brush their teeth and exercise, they also need to play. And watching Dancing Matt doesn’t count; dancing like Dancing Matt does.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Noisy Caves

Man, I am on an archaeological roll! Again, also posted in my other blog:

Another article today that discusses Upper Paleolithic peoples’ understanding of acoustics, and how cave art is often placed at the exact locations where acoustics are best in a cave. Archaeologists have also found flutes in the caves and are trying to determine if the flutes were connected to the cave paintings and their placement in any way.
Iegor Reznikoff, a specialist in ancient music at the University of Paris X in Nanterre featured in the article, also points out the sound-painting connection at certain sites in Finland and France near lakes and other outdoor locations. There has also been correlation shown between Native American pictographs in California deserts and seismic fault lines (I’ll add a link as soon as I can find it again).

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

George Washington's boyhood home found

I didn't even know it was missing, but apparently they found it ("they" being a collection of archaeologists and historians). The biggest let down: no cherry tree. They were also [for some bizarre reason] surprised that the house wasn't more rustic; from what they can deduce, it had up to 8 rooms including separate bed/storage rooms upstairs, rather quite nice for that time's standards and much more appropriate for a gentryman [again, duh!].

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Archaeology News

This was also posted in my other blog, The Art of Science:

First news item: the cave paintings at Lascaux (France) are currently being threatened by mold. One of the possible causes: bright lights. The caves have a history of threats, all directly or indirectly caused by humans. This case exemplifies the hard challenges faced with old artifacts - or just limited natural resources in general - and weighing the benefits of preservation/isolation, scientific intervention and study, and public access to knowledge and such resources.

Next up: The re-creation of musical instruments from Central America. The story discusses Roberto Velazquez, a musical historian/archaeologist/mechanical engineer who studies ancient musical instruments found in archaeological sites all over Central America and recreates them and experiments with their sounds. What is not mentioned but inferred is the spectral analysis done on these instruments in order to determine what they are made out of - clay mostly, but also feathers, reeds, frog bones? - and how to recreate them. Velazquez will also experiment with making sounds with the flutes and whistles, and some of them are really eery; there is a sound clip with samples of all the different sounds, and I was not prepared for the first sounds that they played. It was from the appropriately-named Whistle of Death, and it is creepy to put it mildly.

*Edit*: exclusive only to Complex Interplay and MSNBC: Archaeologists have determined when Odysseus finally made it home.