Open thread

I and the Bird #38 is wonderfully presented this time round.  I really like the host’s introduction and decision to use celebrating the celebration itself as his theme.  There’s plenty of links to great photos and stories, so head on over and take a gander.

Layers on Mars are yielding history lessons revealed by instruments flying overhead and rolling across the surface. Some of the first radar and imaging results from NASA’s newest Mars spacecraft, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, show details in layers of ice-rich deposits near the poles.”  Be sure to check out the photo—the large version.  Very cool.

Older than the sun, the meteorite scientists call ‘the real time machine’: “As lumps of rock go it looks much like any other, unexceptional despite the deep red of its cool, smooth surface. The pieces range in size from pea-sized lumps to larger fist-sized chunks. But today, scientists will announce this is no ordinary stone. Prised from a frozen lake in northern Canada, it has become a prime candidate for the oldest known object on Earth. The chunk came from a meteorite that scored an arc of fire across the skies before slamming into Lake Tagish in British Columbia in 2000. It has been pored over by scientists ever since, and is today revealed to contain particles that predate the birth of our nearest star, the sun.”  How cool is that!

Python may have been the first sacred cow 70,000 years ago: “Pythons were probably the first idols to be worshipped by man, archaeologists said after unearthing evidence of a ritual dating back 70,000 years. A rock shaped like an enormous python’s head, discovered in a cave in the Tsodilo hills of Botswana, puts back the date of the first known human ritual by 30,000 years, they say.”  That’s right: Long before any other god or gods, long before any other idols, long before any other ritual, it would appear pythons hold the honor of being humanity’s first worshiped creature.  And we’re not talking it predates other religions by centuries—it predates them by millennia orders of magnitude longer than anything else previously known.  But the find is more important than demonstrating humans practiced mysticism and believed mythologies long before any known religion; it also means “that humans were more organised and had the capacity for abstract thinking at a much earlier point in history than assumed previously.”

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