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Forgotten conch shell in French museum now thought to be world's oldest seashell instrument – FRANCE 24 English

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Issued on: 11/02/2021 – 09:35Modified: 11/02/2021 – 09:36

A large conch shell overlooked in a museum for decades is now thought to be the oldest known seashell instrument — and it still works, producing a deep, plaintive bleat, like a foghorn from the distant past. 

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The shell was found during the 1931 excavation of a cave with prehistoric wall paintings in the French Pyrenees and assumed to be a ceremonial drinking cup. Archaeologists from the University of Toulouse recently took a fresh look and determined it had been modified thousands of years ago to serve as a wind instrument. They invited a French horn player to play it.

“Hearing it for the first time, for me it was a big emotion — and a big stress,” said archaeologist Carole Fritz.

She feared that playing the 12-inch (31-centimeter) shell might damage it, but it didn’t. The horn produced clear C, C sharp and D notes.

The researchers estimate it to be around 18,000 years old. Their findings were published Wednesday in the journal Science Advances.

Conch shells have been used widely in musical and ceremonial traditions, including in ancient Greece, Japan, India and Peru. The shell instrument found in the Marsoulas cave is now the oldest known example. Previously, a conch shell instrument found in Syria had been dated to about 6,000 years old, said another Toulouse archaeologist, Gilles Tosello.

The latest discovery was made after a recent inventory at the Natural History Museum of Toulouse. The researchers noticed some unusual holes in the shell. Crucially, the tip of the shell was broken off, creating a hole large enough to blow through. Microscopic inspection revealed the opening was the result of deliberate craftsmanship, not accidental wear, according to Tosello.

By inserting a tiny medical camera, they found that another hole had been carefully drilled in the shell’s inner chamber. They also detected traces of red pigment on the mouth of the conch, matching a decorative pattern found on the wall of Marsoulas cave.

“This is classic, really solid archaeology,” said Margaret Conkey, an archaeologist at the University of California, Berkeley, who was not involved in the research. “This discovery reminds us that their lives were much richer and more complex than just stone tools and big game.”

Marsoulas cave is not located near an ocean, so the prehistoric people must have either moved around widely or used trading networks to obtain the shell, Conkey and the researchers said.

“What makes conch shells so interesting is that the spiral cavity formed by nature is perfectly adept at resonating musically,” said Rasoul Morteza, a composer in Montreal who has studied conch shell acoustics, and was not involved in the paper.

Using a 3D replica, the archaeologists plan to continue studying the horn’s range of notes. Tosello said he hopes to hear the ancient instrument played inside the cave where it was found.

“It’s amazing when there’s an object forgotten somewhere, and suddenly it comes again into the light,” he said.

(AP)

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Organic matter was discovered on an asteroid – The Saxon

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In both interesting and important news in the field of space research, researchers have just discovered water and organic matter in a sample of an asteroid in our solar system. The asteroid in question is called Itokawa and the sample, which is actually a single grain, was taken during the first Hayabusa mission carried out by Jaxa or Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency in 2010.

According to the results, the water and organic matter detected did not come from outside but from the asteroid itself. Researchers at the University of London’s Royal Holloway thus suggest that the space object evolved over a period of billions of years by incorporating water and organic matter in the same way it did. is happening on Earth. According to scientists, the asteroid went through phases of extreme heat, dehydration, but also phases where it broke. He was, however, able to reform and rehydrate using the materials he was able to collect.

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It is known that this study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, also shows that S-type asteroids, that is, those which are most common among those that come to Earth, may contain the primordial components of life. According to specialists, this could change everything we know about the history of life on Earth. Indeed, research has so far focused on type C asteroids.

The Hayabusa mission

According to the explanation of Dr Queenie Chan of the Department of Earth Sciences at the Royal Holloway, the Hayabusa mission was a robotic mission developed by JAXA. Its goal was to bring back samples from a small asteroid close to Earth called Itokawa in order to analyze them in laboratories on Earth.

Dr Chan said that the in-depth study of the sample, dubbed “Amazon”, showed the preservation of primitive organic matter, that is to say that was not heated, but also of organic matter. having been heated, in a space measuring 10 micrometers in length. The part that has been heated indicates that the asteroid has been exposed to a temperature above 600 ° C in the past. But the presence of primitive organic matter nearby shows that it arrived on the surface of Itokawa after the space object cooled.



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A basis for future research

Compared to these results, Dr Chen said these were very interesting since they reveal the most intricate details in the history of an asteroid. These results also show that the evolution of the asteroid is very similar to that of the prebiotic Earth.

Scientists hope that these first results will serve as a basis for the analysis of other samples. The Haybusa 2 mission has just brought back samples of another asteroid named Ryugu last year. We can thus hope for other equally important discoveries in the weeks or months to come.

s https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/space/water-asteroid-hayabusa-mission-space-b1812285.html

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A large asteroid known as Apophis zipped silently past the Earth – SlashGear

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On Friday, a large asteroid roughly the size of the Eiffel Tower zipped past the Earth. The asteroid posed no hazard to the Earth on this flyby as it was more than 40 times as far away from Earth as the moon. However, on April 13, 2029, Apophis will get much closer to the Earth.

Scientists considered this week’s flyby a dress rehearsal for 2029, when Apophis will get incredibly close to the Earth. That year, Apophis will get closer to the Earth than some of the highest-orbit satellites surrounding the planet. The asteroid measures 1120 feet wide and is made of rock, iron, and nickel.

Scientists believe it’s shaped roughly like a peanut and its near pass by the Earth on Friday gave them a closer opportunity to inspect the asteroid. Apophis was too far away to be seen by the naked eye so scientists used the NASA Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex in California and the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia to image the asteroid it flew by.

The planetary radar study was meant to give researchers a baseline for the significantly closer flyby in 2029. Apophis is expected to get as close as 19,800 miles to Earth on its next pass. Scientists say that Apophis has a very complicated spin state that sees the asteroid spinning and tumbling simultaneously.

Interestingly, during its closest approach in 2029, Apophis will be briefly visible by the naked eye over Western Australia. In that area, the asteroid will be as bright as the stars in the Big Dipper. Its closest pass to Earth will happen at 6 PM EDT on April 13, 2029. It won’t hit the Earth in 2029 or on its next pass in 2036. However, there is a slight chance the asteroid hit the Earth in 2068.

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This hot super-Earth has temperatures of 800°F and rivers of glowing lava – Digital Trends

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Artistic impression of the surface of the newly discovered hot super-Earth Gliese 486b. With a temperature of about 700 Kelvin (430 °C), the astronomers of the CARMENES collaboration expect a Venus-like hot and dry landscape interspersed with glowing lava rivers. Gliese 486b possible has a tenuous atmosphere.
Artistic impression of the surface of the newly discovered hot super-Earth Gliese 486b. With a temperature of about 700 Kelvin (430 °C), the astronomers of the CARMENES collaboration expect a Venus-like hot and dry landscape interspersed with glowing lava rivers. Gliese 486b possible has a tenuous atmosphere. RenderArea

No day or night, heat intense enough to melt lead, and glowing rivers of lava: This hellish landscape is a typical day on Gliese 486b, a recently discovered exoplanet orbiting the nearby star Gliese 486. The planet is rocky and around three times the mass of Earth, making it a type called a super-Earth. But it is so hot that the conditions there are quite different from what we’re used to.

The planet is so close to its star that a year there lasts only 1.5 Earth days. Though the star is fainter and cooler than our sun, the planet orbits just 1.5 million miles away and it is tidally locked, meaning one side of the planet always faces the star. This drives temperatures up even higher, reaching a surface temperature of 700 Kelvin (800 degrees Fahrenheit).

The researchers who made the discovery believe this means the planet would appear more like Venus than like Earth, with a hot and dry landscape and rivers of glowing lava. There is probably little atmosphere there, as the heat from the star would act to evaporate it away, but the planet’s gravity likely helps it to retain some atmosphere.

The potential existence of a thin but present atmosphere makes this planet an excellent candidate for research as it allows scientists to test their theories on atmospheric models for rocky planets. “The discovery of Gliese 486b was a stroke of luck,” said José A. Caballero of the Centro de Astrobiología in Spain, co-author of the paper, in a statement. “A hundred degrees hotter and the planet’s entire surface would be lava. Its atmosphere would consist of vaporized rocks. On the other hand, if Gliese 486b were a hundred degrees colder, it would have been unsuitable for follow-up observations.”

The researchers now want to use upcoming next-generation telescopes to study the planet further and to try to peer into its atmosphere to see its composition. “The proximity of this exoplanet is exciting because it will be possible to study it in more detail with powerful telescopes such as the upcoming James Webb Space Telescope and the future Extremely Large Telescopes,” said lead author Trifon Trifonov of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy.

“We can hardly wait for the new telescopes to become available. The results will help us to understand how well rocky planets can hold their atmospheres, what they are made of, and how they influence the energy distribution on the planets.”

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