D’oh! American tourist accidentally snaps finger off medieval Italian statue


broken_statue-finger-museum-tourist

D’oh!

An American tourist who was visiting a museum in Italy accidentally snapped the pinky finger off a medieval statue, authorities in Florence say.

The statue, believed to be from the 14th or 15th century, is thought to be the work of sculptor Giovanni D’Ambrogio. Security guards at Museo dell’Opera del Duomo say they spotted the unidentified, middle-aged man touching the statue but were unable to stop him before he damaged the work. He reportedly told the guards he was trying to measure it.

“In a globalized world like ours, the fundamental rules for visiting a museum have been forgotten,” museum head Timothy Verdon told MSN U.K. “That is, ‘Do not touch the works.’”

It’s unclear how much repairs to the statue would cost. Verdon said the man, who was visiting from Missouri, apologized.

“It is a fairly simple restoration,” the museum told the Daily News, adding that the incident was reported to police.

It’s apparently not the first time the statue had been damaged.

“This was already a very fragile piece of art,” Ambra Nepi, head of communications for the museum, told ABC News. “But every year throughout the Duomo we have many items that are damaged and broken.”

Rare Dinosaur Find: Abandoned Nests with Eggshells


Many fossilized dinosaur eggs have been found, at over 200 sites around the world.

Many fossilized dinosaur eggs have been found, at over 200 sites around the world.

 

LiveScience.com 

Huge meat-eating dinosaurs that stalked a vast floodplain some 150 million years ago in what is now Portugal left behind traces of their progeny: eggshells.

Some of the eggshells, which belonged to two Jurassic-Era theropods, or a group of carnivorous dinosaurs, once harbored embryos of Torvosaurus, the largest predator of its day.

“It was the equivalent of the T. rex in the Cretaceous,” said study co-author Vasco Ribeiro, a paleontologist at the Universidade Nova de Lisboa in Portugal.

Ribeiro and his colleagues aren’t sure how the eggs came to be abandoned.

Delicate finds

Because they are so delicate, dinosaur eggs are a relatively rare find. Paleontologists unearthed some of the most primitive Torovosaurus embryos ever found earlier this year, and there have been occasional dinosaur nursery finds, including a clutch of hundreds of dinosaur egg fragments found in Spain. [Image Gallery: Dinosaur Daycare]

Ribeiro and his colleagues found the eggshell fragments at two separate sites, both of which were part of the Lourinhã Formation, a geological formation known for its rich Jurassic dinosaur nest sites. During that time period, the area was a floodplain that cycled through dry seasons and monsoon rains.

The eggshells were shattered and there was no trace of the dinosaur embryos that once coiled inside. But by analyzing the size, shape and texture of the eggshells, the team was able to deduce which animals left those eggs so long ago.

The shells found at one site came from spherical eggs that were about 6 inches (15 centimeters) in diameter. They likely belonged to a Torvosaurus, a massive, bipedal dinosaur that grew up to 36 feet (11 meters) tall.

The eggs at the other site were harder to identify. But the researchers believe the eggs may have contained embryos of Lourinhanosaurus antunesi, a theropod that was about 15 feet (4.5 m) long when full-grown. When intact, the eggs from that site would have been about 5 inches (13 cm) along the long axis and 3.5 inches (9 cm) along the short axis.

Neglected or protected?

The researchers don’t know exactly how the eggs came to be abandoned.

One possibility is that the ancient carnivores laid many eggs and simply left those eggs to their own fates. Other researchers argue that these dinosaurs, like crocodiles, were attentive parents during embryonic development, guarding their clutches from predators.

Either way, once the hatchlings emerged, they were probably on their own, Ribeiro said.

“We have no evidence that mother dinosaur took food to the nest or protected the nest,” Ribeiro told LiveScience.

Bizarre but Real Photographs – Rare and Real


Children for sale in Chicago, 1948.  Some parents sold their children due to poverty.

Children for sale in Chicago, 1948. Some parents sold their children due to poverty.

Albert Einstein brings sexy back in 1932.

Albert Einstein brings sexy back in 1932.

The Japanese "War Tuba" used to locate enemy aircraft before the invention of radar.  Circa 1930.

The Japanese “War Tuba” used to locate enemy aircraft before the invention of radar. Circa 1930.

 

Arnold Schwarzenegger shows off to some elderly women in the 1970's.

Arnold Schwarzenegger shows off to some elderly women in the 1970’s.

 

Prosthetic legs in 1900.

Prosthetic legs in 1900.

 

 

Secret move keeps bin Laden records out of sight


Osama Bin Laden records destroyed

Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — The nation’s top special operations commander ordered military files about the Navy SEAL raid on Osama bin Laden’s hideout to be purged from Defense Department computers and sent to the CIA, where they could be more easily shielded from ever being made public.

The secret move, described briefly in a draft report by the Pentagon’s inspector general, set off no alarms within the Obama administration even though it appears to have sidestepped federal rules and perhaps also the Freedom of Information Act.

An acknowledgement by Adm. William McRaven of his actions was quietly removed from the final version of an inspector general’s report published weeks ago. A spokesman for the admiral declined to comment. The CIA, noting that the bin Laden mission was overseen by then-CIA Director Leon Panetta before he became defense secretary, said that the SEALs were effectively assigned to work temporarily for the CIA, which has presidential authority to conduct covert operations.

“Documents related to the raid were handled in a manner consistent with the fact that the operation was conducted under the direction of the CIA director,” agency spokesman Preston Golson said in an emailed statement. “Records of a CIA operation such as the (bin Laden) raid, which were created during the conduct of the operation by persons acting under the authority of the CIA Director, are CIA records.”

Golson said it is “absolutely false” that records were moved to the CIA to avoid the legal requirements of the Freedom of Information Act.

The records transfer was part of an effort by McRaven to protect the names of the personnel involved in the raid, according to the inspector general’s draft report.

But secretly moving the records allowed the Pentagon to tell The Associated Press that it couldn’t find any documents inside the Defense Department that AP had requested more than two years ago, and could represent a new strategy for the U.S. government to shield even its most sensitive activities from public scrutiny.

“Welcome to the shell game in place of open government,” said Thomas Blanton, director of the National Security Archive, a private research institute at George Washington University. “Guess which shell the records are under. If you guess the right shell, we might show them to you. It’s ridiculous.”

McRaven’s directive sent the only copies of the military’s records about its daring raid to the CIA, which has special authority to prevent the release of “operational files” in ways that can’t effectively be challenged in federal court. The Defense Department can prevent the release of its own military files, too, citing risks to national security. But that can be contested in court, and a judge can compel the Pentagon to turn over non-sensitive portions of records.

Under federal rules, transferring government records from one executive agency to another must be approved in writing by the National Archives and Records Administration. There are limited circumstances when prior approval is not required, such as when the records are moved between two components of the same executive department. The CIA and Special Operations Command are not part of the same department.

The Archives was not aware of any request from the U.S. Special Operations Command to transfer its records to the CIA, spokeswoman Miriam Kleiman said. She said it was the Archives’ understanding that the military records belonged to the CIA, so transferring them wouldn’t have required permission under U.S. rules.

Special Operations Command also is required to comply with rules established by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff that dictate how long records must be retained. Its July 2012 manual requires that records about military operations and planning are to be considered permanent and after 25 years, following a declassification review, transferred to the Archives.

Also, the Federal Records Act would not permit agencies “to purge records just on a whim,” said Dan Metcalfe, who oversaw the U.S. government’s compliance with the Freedom of Information Act as former director of the Justice Department’s Office of Information and Privacy. “I don’t think there’s an exception allowing an agency to say, ‘Well, we didn’t destroy it. We just deleted it here after transmitting it over there.’ High-level officials ought to know better.”

It was not immediately clear exactly which Defense Department records were purged and transferred, when it happened or under what authority, if any, they were sent to the CIA. No government agencies the AP contacted would discuss details of the transfer. The timing may be significant: The Freedom of Information Act generally applies to records under an agency’s control when a request for them is received. The AP asked for files about the mission in more than 20 separate requests, mostly submitted in May 2011 — several were sent a day after President Barack Obama announced that the world’s most wanted terrorist had been killed in a firefight. Obama has pledged to make his administration the most transparent in U.S. history.

The AP asked the Defense Department and CIA separately for files that included copies of the death certificate and autopsy report for bin Laden as well as the results of tests to identify the body. While the Pentagon said it could not locate the files, the CIA, with its special power to prevent the release of records, has never responded. The CIA also has not responded to a separate request for other records, including documents identifying and describing the forces and supplies required to execute the assault on bin Laden’s compound.

The CIA did tell the AP it could not locate any emails from or to Panetta and two other top agency officials discussing the bin Laden mission.

McRaven’s unusual order would have remained secret had it not been mentioned in a single sentence on the final page in the inspector general’s draft report that examined whether the Obama administration gave special access to Hollywood executives planning a film, “Zero Dark Thirty,” about the raid. The draft report was obtained and posted online last month by the Project on Government Oversight, a nonprofit watchdog group in Washington.

McRaven, who oversaw the bin Laden raid, expressed concerns in the report about possible disclosure of the identities of the SEALs. The Pentagon “provided the operators and their families an inordinate level of security,” the report said. McRaven also directed that the names and photographs associated with the raid not be released.

“This effort included purging the combatant command’s systems of all records related to the operation and providing these records to another government agency,” according to the draft report. The sentence was dropped from the report’s final version.

Since the raid, one of the SEALs published a book about the raid under a pseudonym but was subsequently identified by his actual name. And earlier this year the SEAL credited with shooting bin Laden granted a tell-all, anonymous interview with Esquire about the raid and the challenges of his retiring from the military after 16 years without a pension.

Current and former Defense Department officials knowledgeable about McRaven’s directive and the inspector general’s report told AP the description of the order in the draft report was accurate. The reference to “another government agency” was code for the CIA, they said. These individuals spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter by name.

There is no indication the inspector general’s office or anyone else in the U.S. government is investigating the legality of transferring the military records. Bridget Serchak, a spokeswoman for the inspector general, would not explain why the reference was left out of the final report and what, if any, actions the office might be taking.

“Our general statement is that any draft is pre-decisional and that drafts go through many reviews before the final version, including editing or changing language,” Serchak wrote in an email.

The unexplained decision to remove the reference to the purge and transfer of the records “smells of bad faith,” said Steven Aftergood, director of the Project on Government Secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists. “How should one understand that? That adds insult to injury. It essentially covers up the action.”

McRaven oversaw the raid while serving as commander of the Joint Special Operations Command, the secretive outfit in charge of SEAL Team Six and the military’s other specialized counterterrorism units. McRaven was nominated by Obama to lead Special Operations Command, JSOC’s parent organization, a month before the raid on bin Laden’s compound. He replaced Adm. Eric Olson as the command’s top officer in August 2011.

Ken McGraw, a spokesman for Special Operations Command, referred questions to the inspector general’s office.

The refusal to make available authoritative or contemporaneous records about the bin Laden mission means that the only official accounts of the mission come from U.S. officials who have described details of the raid in speeches, interviews and television appearances. In the days after bin Laden’s death, the White House provided conflicting versions of events, falsely saying bin Laden was armed and even firing at the SEALs, misidentifying which of bin Laden’s sons was killed and incorrectly saying bin Laden’s wife died in the shootout. Obama’s press secretary attributed the errors to the “fog of combat.”

A U.S. judge and a federal appeals court previously sided with the CIA in a lawsuit over publishing more than 50 “post-mortem” photos and video recordings of bin Laden’s corpse. In the case, brought by Judicial Watch, a conservative watchdog group, the CIA did not say the images were operational files to keep them secret. It argued successfully that the photos and videos must be withheld from the public to avoid inciting violence against Americans overseas and compromising secret systems and techniques used by the CIA and the military.

The Defense Department told the AP in March 2012 it could not locate any photographs or video taken during the raid or showing bin Laden’s body. It also said it could not find any images of bin Laden’s body on the USS Carl Vinson, the aircraft carrier from which he was buried at sea. The Pentagon also said it could not find any death certificate, autopsy report or results of DNA identification tests for bin Laden, or any pre-raid materials discussing how the government planned to dispose of bin Laden’s body if he were killed. It said it searched files at the Pentagon, Special Operations Command headquarters in Tampa, Fla., and the Navy command in San Diego that controls the Carl Vinson.

The Pentagon also refused to confirm or deny the existence of helicopter maintenance logs and reports about the performance of military gear used in the raid. One of the stealth helicopters that carried the SEALs in Pakistan crashed during the mission and its wreckage was left behind.

The Defense Department also told the AP in February 2012 that it could not find any emails about the bin Laden mission or his “Geronimo” code name that were sent or received in the year before the raid by McRaven. The department did not say they had been moved to the CIA. It also said it could not find any emails from other senior officers who would have been involved in the mission’s planning. It found only three such emails written by or sent to then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates, and these consisted of 12 pages sent to Gates summarizing news reports after the raid.

The Defense Department in November 2012 released copies of 10 emails totaling 31 pages found in the Carl Vinson’s computer systems. The messages were heavily censored and described how bin Laden’s body was prepared for burial.

These records were not among those purged and then moved to the CIA. Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. James Gregory said the messages from the Carl Vinson “were not relating to the mission itself and were the property of the Navy.”

___

AP Intelligence Writer Kimberly Dozier contributed to this report.

___

Follow Richard Lardner on Twitter: https://twitter.com/rplardner

Ancient Carving of Roman God Found in Garbage Pit


A stone head possibly depicting a Roman god was found by Durham University archaeologists at Binchester …

A stone head possibly depicting a Roman god was found by Durham University archaeologists at Binchester …

Originally posted by:

LiveScience.com

 

An 1,800-year-old stone carving of what may be the head of a Roman god was recently found in an ancient garbage dump, British archaeologists announced today (July 3).

An undergraduate student at Durham University discovered the largely intact head during an archaeological dig at the Binchester Roman Fort, a major Roman Empire fort built around A.D. 100 in northeastern England’s County Durham.

Archaeologists involved in the dig believe that somebody probably tossed the 8-inch-long (20 centimeters) statue in the garbage when the building was abandoned in the fourth century, during the fall of the Roman Empire. [See Photos of the Stone Head & Dig Site]

The team is still not certain who the carved head is meant to represent, though they have noted its resemblance to a similar stone head discovered in 1862 inscribed with the name “Antenociticus” — a Celtic deity associated with military prayers in that particular region.

A shrine sits nearby the garbage dump, further suggesting the stone head was involved in prayer and represents a deity.

“It is probably the head of a Roman god — we can’t be sure of his name, but it does have similarities to head of Antenociticus,” David Petts, a Durham University archaeologist who was involved in the dig, said in a statement. “We may never know the true identity of this new head, but we are continuing to explore the building from which it came to help us improve our understanding of late Roman life at Binchester and [the] Roman Empire’s northern frontier in Northern England.”

The team is particularly interested in the unique local aesthetic of the head, which combines classical Roman art and regional Romano-British art. Some of the facial features also appear to be African, though this remains speculative.

“This is something we need to consider deeply,” Petts said in a statement. “If it is an image of an African, it could be extremely important, although this identification is not certain.”

The dig was conducted in collaboration with Stanford University in an effort to unearth evidence from the era leading up to the fall of the Roman Empire. The team has yet to publish a report on their recent findings in a peer-reviewed scientific journal.

Follow Laura Poppick on Twitter. Follow us @livescience, Facebook & Google+. Original article on LiveScience.com.

 

Tomb with a View


A new virtual-reality project at the Vatican Museums allows visitors to wander through a 2,600-year-old Etruscan burial vault

Virtual reconstruction of the exterior of the Regolini-Galassi tomb, 7th century B.C. COURTESY CNR-ITABC, ROME.

Virtual reconstruction of the exterior of the Regolini-Galassi tomb, 7th century B.C.
COURTESY CNR-ITABC, ROME.

Originally posted on artnews.com

By

For the first time in history, visitors to the Vatican Museums are playing an Etruscan video game. That is, a pan-European team has created a walk-in, virtual-reality replica of the famous 7th-century B.C. Etruscan tomb known as the Regolini-Galassi. Located at seaside Cerveteri (ancient Caere), north of Rome, the tomb is otherwise off limits to the public.

Etruscanning 3D, as the project is known, won the top award at the international Archeovirtual exhibition in Paestum, Italy, last November. Its creators wanted to explore the possibilities of applying “new visualization techniques” to complex archeological and historical sites. Another goal was to re-create, on a scientific basis, the original context of the Regolini-Galassi tomb as it likely looked more than 2,600 years ago. Motion sensors allow visitors to wander through the site while standing in front of a three-meter-wide, high-resolution screen, and a menu lets them choose nearby artifacts to examine more closely, from Egyptian-style sarcophagi to a black ceramic inkpot to a large golden fibula, or brooch, decorated with lions.

Demonstration of Etruscanning 3-D, which allows users to virtually explore the Regolini-Galassi tomb. COURTESY CNR-ITABC, ROME.

Demonstration of Etruscanning 3-D, which allows users to virtually explore the Regolini-Galassi tomb.
COURTESY CNR-ITABC, ROME.

A richly endowed, subterranean burial vault with multiple chambers, the Regolini-Galassi was discovered intact in 1836 by local priest Alessandro Regolini and retired general Vincenzo Galassi, who were excavating a hillside necropolis at Caere. At the time, the territory on the Tyrrhenian coast belonged to the papal state, which had passed Europe’s second-oldest heritage law in 1822. As a result, after two years of negotiations, the rich trove of burial objects became Vatican property.
The findings—and particularly the elegant gold items that once belonged to a princess—caused a sensation. “It was the discovery of a lost world, known until then solely through ancient literature,” says Maurizio Sannibale, director of the Gregorian Etruscan Museum, a smaller museum within the Vatican Museums.

Real-time rendering of the inner chamber of the tomb, showing the sarcophagus of an Etruscan princess and her funerary goods. COURTESY CNR-ITABC, ROME.

Real-time rendering of the inner chamber of the tomb, showing the sarcophagus of an Etruscan princess and her funerary goods.
COURTESY CNR-ITABC, ROME.

Virtual construction of a bronze six-headed lebes (pot) in the tomb. COURTESY CNR-ITABC, ROME.

Virtual construction of a bronze six-headed lebes (pot) in the tomb.
COURTESY CNR-ITABC, ROME.

“Most unusually, experts arrived to make drawings of the objects,” Sannibale continues. “However, their descriptions were often contradictory and gave no indication of where the precious objects were found.” The designers of Etruscanning 3D attempted to remedy this omission by placing the treasures in what is thought to be their rightful places within the tomb. And through photogrammetry and computer imaging, many existing artifacts have been “digitally restored” to revive worn-out or missing details.

In addition to the Vatican Museums, the project involved the Allard Pierson Museum at the University of Amsterdam; the Dutch National Museum of Antiquities in Leiden; the Gallo-Romeins Museum in Tongeren, Belgium; the National Research Council of Rome; the Belgian architecture and heritage firm Visual Dimension; and the Archeological Superintendency of Southern Etruria.
Remarkably, the new virtual-reality tour had a precursor in 1837 London. One year after the uncovering of the Regolini-Galassi tomb, three brothers named Campanari, who had been excavating at Vulci, reconstructed an Etruscan tomb for an exhibition at Pall Mall, thus spurring an English fad for collecting Etruscan objects.

Judith Harris is the author of Pompeii Awakened: A Story of Rediscovery.

 

 

 

Iceman Mummy Suffered Head Blow Before Death


Iceman Mummy Suffered Head Blow Before Death

Iceman Mummy Suffered Head Blow Before Death

Originally posted by-

Ötzi the Iceman, Europe’s oldest mummy, likely suffered a head injury before he died roughly 5,300 years ago, according to a new protein analysis of his brain tissue.

Ever since a pair of hikers stumbled upon his astonishingly well-preserved frozen body in the Alps in 1991, Ötzi has become one of the most-studied ancient human specimens. His face, last meal, clothing and genome have been reconstructed — all contributing to a picture of Ötzi as a 45-year-old, hide-wearing, tattooed agriculturalist who was a native of Central Europe and suffered from heart disease, joint pain, tooth decay and probably Lyme disease before he died.

None of those conditions, however, directly led to his demise. A wound reveals Ötzi was hit in the shoulder with a deadly artery-piercing arrow, and an undigested meal in the Iceman’s stomach suggests he was ambushed, researchers say. [Mummy Melodrama: Top 9 Secrets About Otzi the Iceman]

A few years ago, a CAT scan showed dark spots at the back of the mummy’s cerebrum, indicating Ötzi also suffered a blow to the head that knocked his brain against the back of his skull during the fatal attack.

In the new study, scientists who looked at pinhead-sized samples of brain tissue from the corpse found traces of clotted blood cells, suggesting Ötzi indeed suffered bruising in his brain shortly before his death.

But there’s still a piece of the Neolithic murder mystery that remains unsolved: It’s unclear whether Ötzi’s brain injury was caused by being bashed over the head or by falling after being struck with the arrow, the researchers say.

The study was focused on proteins found in two brain samples from Ötzi, recovered with the help of a computer-controlled endoscope. Of the 502 different proteins identified, 10 were related to blood and coagulation, the researchers said. They also found evidence of an accumulation of proteins related to stress response and wound healing.

A separate 2012 study detailed in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface looked at the mummy’s red blood cells (the oldest ever identified) from a tissue sample taken from Ötzi’s wound. That research showed traces of a clotting protein called fibrin, which appears in human blood immediately after a person sustains a wound but disappears quickly. The fact that it was still in Ötzi’s blood when he died suggests he didn’t survive long after the injury.

Proteins are less susceptible to environmental contamination than DNA, and, in the case of mummies, they can reveal what kinds of cells the body was producing at the time of death. A protein analysis of a 15-year-old Incan girl, who was sacrificed 500 years ago, recently revealed that she had a bacterial lung infection at the time of her death.

“Proteins are the decisive players in tissues and cells, and they conduct most of the processes which take place in cells,” Andreas Tholey, a scientist at Germany’s Kiel University and a researcher on the new Ötzi study, said in a statement.

“Identification of the proteins is therefore key to understanding the functional potential of a particular tissue,” Tholey added. “DNA is always constant, regardless of from where it originates in the body, whereas proteins provide precise information about what is happening in specific regions within the body.”

In addition to the proteins related to clotting, Tholey and colleagues also identified dozens of proteins known to be abundant in brain tissue in the samples from Ötzi. A microscopic analysis even revealed well-preserved neural cell structures, the researchers said.

“Investigating mummified tissue can be very frustrating,” study author and microbiologist Frank Maixner, of the European Academy of Bolzano/Bozen (EURAC), said in a statement. “The samples are often damaged or contaminated and do not necessarily yield results, even after several attempts and using a variety of investigative methods. When you think that we have succeeded in identifying actual tissue changes in a human who lived over 5,000 years ago, you can begin to understand how pleased we are as scientists that we persisted with our research after many unsuccessful attempts.”

Their research was detailed in the journal Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences.

Follow Megan Gannon on Twitter and Google+. Follow us @livescience, Facebook & Google+. Original article on LiveScience.com.

The Age of Stupid ( Full Movie )


The year is 2055. The Earth is devastated. One man (Oscar® nominee Pete Postlethwaite, The Usual Suspects, Clash of the Titans) remains in “The Global Archive,” a vast storage facility protecting all of humanity’s collective achievements.

Based on mainstream scientific projections from the present day, THE AGE OF STUPID focuses on the archivist as he tries to work out why we didn’t save ourselves while we still had the chance. He flips through a startling array of news clips, interviews and scientific reports from our current time, each its own warning sign of the destruction that is looming if we don’t change our current consumption practices.

From the director of McLibel and the producer of the Academy Award®-winning One Day in September, the fresh, fast-paced and often hilarious THE AGE OF STUPID continues to break all the rules of independent film distribution—including smashing the world record for the largest live film event when its global premiere reached over a million viewers in 63 countries.