Friday, 12 August 2016

Ancient HERV K virus survives in Humans for eons

Evidence has emerged that an ancient virus previously known only from fossil evidence has persistently infected some humans at very low levels for hundreds of thousands or even millions of years. This ancient retrovirus is a kind of living fossil, and the discovery of an intact copy of it within the human genome poses questions as to how it has survived, and suggests others from the distant evolutionary past may lie dormant in the DNA of many species.

A retrovirus replicates by inserting its genome into that of an infected cell. Occasionally, retroviruses infect germ line cells – those found in eggs and sperm – and if these cells survive and go on to create a new organism, that new organism will contain the retrovirus as an inherent part of its genome.
The genomes of many mammals, birds and other vertebrates, have accumulated many DNA sequences derived from retroviruses, known as endogenous retroviruses (ERVs). About 8% of the human genome is comprised of ERVs.
Almost all ERVs in humans (known as HERVs) appear to be non-functional remnants of extinct retroviruses. The only exception is one group, called HERV-K, which is potentially capable of replication despite being many millions of years old.

Studies of HERV-K sequences in the human genome have indicated that it has been recently active in humans, and that it could even still circulate through infection. One of these new discoveries was an intact virus without any of the mutations that would degrade its function. The discovery of an intact virus lurking in the human population strengthens the possibility that this HERV-K retrovirus has remained “alive” within humans, and could still be circulating somewhere even today. HERV-K is believed to be one cause of breast cancer.

Particles of human retrovirus HERV K
Scientists believe HERV-K could be “reawakening” in patients, causing ALS, a disease that robs patients of the ability to walk, talk, eat, and eventually breathe. Researchers examined ALS patients and found elevated HERV-K levels in brain samples. Additional tests proved that the retrovirus had come alive in those individuals.

It’s not clear what activates the genes, but physical trauma and exposure to certain chemicals has been linked to ALS.

Thursday, 11 August 2016

The Gold of Devils Tower

Near the northeast corner of Wyoming is a striking mountain of igneous rock that looks like a gigantic tree-stump.

Columns run vertically up the top part of the rock like giant scratches. The name given to the mountain by the white man was "Devils Tower." The Indians had many names for it. One of them was "Bear Lodge." According to legend, while exploring the rocks at the base of the mountain, natives discovered a passageway underneath it.

They made torches out of pitch pine knots for light and started exploring the tunnel. They found the passage strewn with bones. Perhaps human bones.
At the end, the tunnel opened up into a cave with an underground lake some 25 yards long and more than 15 yards wide. Around the lake were large quantities of gold.
No hidden passages have ever been found. Geologists agree that Devils Tower was formed by the intrusion of igneous material, but they cannot agree on exactly how that process took place.

In 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt established Devils Tower as Americas' first national monument.

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Liquid mercury found under Mexican pyramid could lead to king's tomb

View of the Pyramid of the Moon from the Pyramid of the Sun
An archaeologist has discovered liquid mercury at the end of a tunnel beneath a Mexican pyramid, a finding that could suggest the existence of a king’s tomb or a ritual chamber far below one of the most ancient cities of the Americas. A researcher reported that he had discovered “large quantities” of liquid mercury in a chamber below the Pyramid of the Feathered Serpent, the third largest pyramid of Teotihuacan.
Last November the team announced they had found three chambers at the tunnel’s 300ft end, 60 feet below the temple. Near the entrance of the chambers, they found a trove of strange artifacts: jade statues, jaguar remains, a box filled with carved shells and rubber balls. Mercury is toxic and capable of devastating the human body through prolonged exposure; the liquid metal had no apparent practical purpose for ancient Mesoamericans. But it has been discovered at other sites.

The mercury may have symbolized an underworld river or lake. Mirrors were considered a way to look into the supernatural world ... a way to divine what might happen in the future. Ancient Mesoamericans could produce liquid mercury by heating mercury ore, known as cinnabar, which they also used for its blood-red pigment. The Maya used cinnabar to decorate jade objects and color the bodies of their royalty.

The Quetzalcoatl Temple stairway.
A royal tomb could lend credence to the theory that the city, which flourished between 100-700AD, was ruled by dynasties in the manner of the Maya.

Friday, 5 August 2016

Christie’s Out of the Ordinary Auction

A set of brass keys from the Titanic
Around 100 curios that have been amassed over 40 years by Jersey-based collector David Gainsborough Roberts will go up for auction on September 14 for the 250th anniversary of the annual sale which celebrates unique and unusual lots.

Christie’s Out of the Ordinary – the 250th Anniversary Edition, begins on August 6 with the sale taking place on September 14.

A red silk and gold thread scarf belonging to Thomas Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia)
Jack Dempsey's world heavyweight title belt is estimated at up to £15,000A Stetson hat belonging to Sir Winston Churchill
From previous sales.

Clockwise, from top left: Michael Jackson’s Thriller jacket: £940,000, Marilyn Monroe’s X-rays: £30,000, John Lennon’s tooth: £20,000, Elvis Presley’s bible: £59,000, Napoleon Bonaparte’s hat: £1.5 million Princess Diana’s ‘Travolta’ dress: £240,000

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Cool Crystals

Kunzite from Minas Gerais, Brazil

Anglesite from Ouida, Morocco

Painite - Four painites crisscrossing with small rubies. From Wetloo Mine, Mogok, Burma.

Sapphire Blue saphire crystal. From Sri Lanka.

Aquamarine in feldspar. Skardu, Pakistan.

Spinel from Mogok, Burma.

Calcite from Chihuahua, Mexico.

Tourmaline with Cleavlandite - Himalaya Mine, USA

Heliodor from Zhytomyr Oblast, Ukraine.

Dioptase from Tsumeb, Nambia

Peridot from Indus River, Pakistan.

Rosasite from Durango, Mexico.

Tarbuttite from Karas Region, Nambia.

Tourmaline with Cleavlandite - Himalaya Mine, USA

Fire Agate - Only found in northern Mexico and the southwestern United States.

Fire Opal - From the state of Querétaro, Mexico.

Aquamarine. From Sakangyi, Burma.

Amethyst - scepters of amethyst. From Madres, India

Nevada Turquoise

Almandine Garnet, Larimer County, Colorado

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Largest Man-Made holes on earth

The Bingham Canyon Mine is a copper mine in the Oquirrh mountains, Utah. The mine is 0.75 mile (1.2 km) deep, 2.5 miles (4 km) wide, and is the largest man-made excavation on earth.

A landslide in 2013 was detected on seismic networks.
The Mirny Diamond Mine is 525m deep and has a diameter of 1200m. It was the first, and one of the largest, diamond pipes in the USSR. It is now abandoned.

While it was still operational, it would take two hours for trucks to drive from the top to the bottom of the mine.
The Udachnaya Pipe is a diamond mine in Russia. In ceased open pit operations in 2010 in favor of underground mining. The mine was discovered in 1955 and is over 600 meters deep.
The Kimberley Diamond Mine holds the disputed title of being the largest hand-dug hole in the world.

From 1866 to 1914, 50,000 miners dug the hole with picks and shovels, yielding 2,722 kg of diamonds.