“The Biblical plagues that devastated Ancient Egypt in the Old Testament were the result of global warming and a volcanic eruption, scientists have claimed.
Researchers believe they have found evidence of real natural disasters on which the ten plagues of Egypt, which led to Moses freeing the Israelites from slavery in the Book of Exodus in the Bible, were based.
But rather than explaining them as the wrathful act of a vengeful God, the scientists claim the plagues can be attributed to a chain of natural phenomena triggered by changes in the climate and environmental disasters that happened hundreds of miles away.
They have compiled compelling evidence that offers new explanations for the Biblical plagues, which will be outlined in a new series to be broadcast on the National Geographical Channel on Easter Sunday.
Archaeologists now widely believe the plagues occurred at an ancient city of Pi-Rameses on the Nile Delta, which was the capital of Egypt during the reign of Pharaoh Rameses the Second, who ruled between 1279BC and 1213BC.”
Read more at The Telegraph (thanks, KirstyJ)
“A new study has found magnetic fields can be used to confuse a region in the brain that controls a person’s sense of morality.
Using a powerful magnetic field, scientists are able to scramble the moral centre of the brain, making it more difficult for people to separate innocent intentions from harmful outcomes.
The research, which appears this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, could have big implications for not only neuroscientists, but also for judges and juries.
‘It’s one thing to ‘know’ that we’ll find morality in the brain,’ says Dr Liane Young, a scientist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and co-author of the article. ‘It’s another to ‘knock out’ that brain area and change people’s moral judgments.’”
Read more at Discovery News (thanks, Phillis)
“According to Woody Allen, it is his second favourite organ and it absorbs more than 25% of the energy that our bodies generate. But why? For what purposes did the human brain evolve and why does it take so much of our physiological resources? Such questions have absorbed scientists for decades and have now been given an expected answer by Colin Blakemore. In a recent lecture, the Oxford neurobiologist argued that a mutation in the brain of a single human being 200,000 years ago turned intellectually able apemen into a super-intelligent species that would conquer the world. In short, Homo sapiens is a genetic accident.
Most scientists believe we achieved our intellectual status through gradual evolution. Blakemore’s intervention will therefore come as a surprise and an upset, although this will not faze the provocative 66-year-old.”
Read more at The Guardian (thanks, Tash)
Ipswich brought great audiences. A little slow to warm up on the first day, Thursday, they were lively and forthcoming soon enough, and the auditorium has a fresh and bright sound from the stage. The shows felt good. We were staying in the excellent Salthouse Harbour Hotel, and looked after by a hugely friendly staff. Rather nicely, there were only ten or so people at the stage door each night, all pleasant and unassuming, which meant charming, relaxed hellos and time to chat.
Southend’s first night was fine but did not feel great to me. After a couple of loud houses, The Cliffs Pavilion’s auditorium stretches far back, away from the stage, and the balcony sits at its furthest reaches. It means that from the stage, you only hear the front half of the audience. On top of that, the Sunday night crowd was typical of those from that day: tired from an afternoon’s sloth or activities, aware of work in the morning, a little unresponsive. There is a classic pattern, known to actors and entertainers, of a rising enthusiasm from the house as the week moves on, generally peaking on Friday with a lively and attentive audience. Saturdays can be boisterous, but are also slacker than the Friday, and made up of larger, less attentive groups. Sundays generally are a little quiet, unless there is a Bank Holiday the next day (which will in itself tend to offer another tired and unengaged crowd).
The show was good enough, but I was surprised by the relatively quiet audience and unfulfilling feedback due to the ungenerous architecture, and the strange energy loop that exists between the audience and me on a good night did not make itself known. Pushing to reach the seemingly silent reaches of the auditorium, my voice was also rather cracked.
The second night – yesterday – was much better. The crowd was lively and responsive, and I had got used to the unhelpful acoustics of the room. My voice was stronger and the audience were once again part of the dynamic of the show. We were also joined by our lovely friend Stephen Long who has worked on previous tours, and who has come out to help out for a couple of nights. It was rather fun to see him carrying things on and off stage: such little changes help keep the show feeling fun and alive for me.
Southend proves to be a pleasant place to sit and read overlooking the sea: I am hugely enjoying Simon Callow’s Being An Actor and a break from the laptop. I have not been Twittering or blogging recently either: the former has started to feel a tad exhausting and joyless of late, so I shall for the moment at least give it a little break.
It’s blustery and wet today, and I think the sea looks its best when it’s grey and bleak. Some poor girl in a flapping anorak is running, enervated, along the sea-front through the miserable weather, and a lady is having a dispiriting sandwich from a plastic lunch box on a bench under a beach shelter. All, in a grim, glum way, is right with the world.
“Although the aye-aye weighs a mere 4 pounds in the wild, this tiny animal is viewed as the harbinger of death by locals in Madagascar, the only place on Earth where you’ll find these creatures in nature.
According to legend, the aye-aye, with its dark eyes, long fingers and ghoulish appearance, is thought to sneak into the dwellings of nearby villagers and use its middle finger — considerably longer than its other fingers — to pierce the hearts of sleeping humans.
In fact, the animal uses its middle finger to find and harvest insect larvae in trees. It prowls at night, tapping its finger rapidly against tree branches to listen for hollowed-out pockets in the wood that hold grubs.
The aye-aye then chews an opening in the wood and claws out the grub with its long middle finger.
Superstitions around the aye-aye may have developed because it is apparently unafraid of humans. It will even walk right up to human passersby to take a closer look. The aye-aye’s reputation is, of course, entirely unfounded. However, because of the way the aye-aye is perceived, this perfectly harmless creature is often killed on sight.”
Read more at Discovery News