Suramya's Blog : Welcome to my crazy life…

June 30, 2022

Help NASA find clouds on Mars to solve the mystery of the low atmospheric pressure on Mars

Filed under: Astronomy / Space,Science Related — Suramya @ 3:29 AM

If you have some free time and are fascinated by Mars, you can use your spare time to help NASA figure out why Mars’ atmosphere is just 1% as dense as Earth’s. The air pressure on mars is so low that liquid water just vaporizes from the planet’s surface into the atmosphere. The really interesting part is that originally (a few billion years ago) Mars had a lot thicker atmosphere.

You don’t need special skill to help with this, as the project is focusing on the study of Martian clouds. Specifically, volunteers will be looking at scientific data collected over 16 years to identify cloud formations. It might seem like a simple thing but once the clouds are identified we can look at other data captured at the same time such as temperature, time of the day, season etc which will help scientists create maps of where they form, determine what they’re made of (water, carbon dioxide, or dust), and see how they change throughout the day and through the seasons.


Cloudspotting on Mars asks members of the public to look for arches such as this one (center) in data collected by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (Source: NASA)

It will involve looking at graphs such as the one above to look for arches (spikes) that can indicate clouds. If you are interested, you can join from the project’s website.

Thanks to Digital Trends: NASA wants your help to solve an enduring Mars mystery for the link.

– Suramya

May 27, 2022

Creating robots with no moving parts or computational ability which can navigate through mazes on their own

Filed under: Emerging Tech,Science Related — Suramya @ 11:34 PM

One would imagine that it takes skill or at least the ability to think to escape from a maze, unless you count running around like a headless chicken as a skill. However, Jie Yin and his colleagues at North Carolina State University have created a contraption that has no computational ability or moving parts but is still able to escape from a maze using trial and error.

The device is shaped like a pasta and is made from a rubber like material impregnated with liquid crystals. When this device is placed on a heated surface the parts in contact with the surface heat up and expand while the rest of the device remains the same this causes a twisting motion that allows it to roll at a speed of up to 3.8 millimetres per second. Even more interestingly this ‘robot’ can navigate a maze, when it reaches an obstacle such as a wall its orientation changes slightly and can sometimes continue moving. If that doesn’t work, then it continues to push against the obstacle which creates changes in the tension in the device allowing it to change the orientation of the arc’s on its surface to another direction, which would enable it to roll in the opposite direction. These two abilities enable it to continually change direction when meeting obstacles, bumping from surface to surface, eventually finding its way out despite lacking any intelligent control.

Autonomy is crucial for soft robotics that are constructed of soft materials. It remains challenging to create autonomous soft robots that can intelligently interact with and adapt to changing environments without external controls. To do so, it often requires an analogical soft “brain” that integrates on-board sensing, control, computation, and decision-making. Here, we report an autonomous soft robot embodied with physical intelligence for decision-making via adaptive soft body-environment interactions and snap-through instability, without integrated sensing and external controls. This study harnesses physical intelligence as a new paradigm for designing autonomous soft robots that can interact intelligently with their environments, thus potentially reducing the burdens on the conventional integrated sensing, control, computations, and decision-making systems in designing intelligent soft robots.

Soft robots that can harvest energy from environmental resources for autonomous locomotion is highly desired; however, few are capable of adaptive navigation without human interventions. Here, we report twisting soft robots with embodied physical intelligence for adaptive, intelligent autonomous locomotion in various unstructured environments, without on-board or external controls and human interventions. The soft robots are constructed of twisted thermal-responsive liquid crystal elastomer ribbons with a straight centerline. They can harvest thermal energy from environments to roll on outdoor hard surfaces and challenging granular substrates without slip, including ascending loose sandy slopes, crossing sand ripples, escaping from burying sand, and crossing rocks with additional camouflaging features. The twisting body provides anchoring functionality by burrowing into loose sand. When encountering obstacles, they can either self-turn or self-snap for obstacle negotiation and avoidance. Theoretical models and finite element simulation reveal that such physical intelligence is achieved by spontaneously snapping-through its soft body upon active and adaptive soft body-obstacle interactions. Utilizing this strategy, they can intelligently escape from confined spaces and maze-like obstacle courses without any human intervention. This work presents a de novo design of embodied physical intelligence by harnessing the twisting geometry and snap-through instability for adaptive soft robot-environment interactions.

This technology could be used to create cheap robots that can explore environments to take sensor readings and can potentially function inside the human body when made in microscopic scale. Since they don’t have any moving parts and don’t require power sources it would allow them to function for a longer duration than powered alternatives which would eventually run out of power. Plus, since they don’t require batteries it would be safer for people to ingest them without potentially harmful effects because most of the power sources in use today have some harmful chemicals in them.

The team’s findings have been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) Journal: Twisting for soft intelligent autonomous robot in unstructured environments earlier this week.

Source: New Scientist: Pasta-shaped robot with no moving parts can navigate through mazes

– Suramya

May 14, 2022

Using algae sealed in a AA battery to generate enough electricity to run a microprocessor for 6 months

Powering computers and all our devices requires us to use batteries if they can’t be connected to a power source/electrical socket. For the most part this means that we use NiCa or Lithium batteries. The problem with this is that they require us to use rare earth metals that are hard to find and process, which makes them expensive and mining the metals are potentially bad for the environment. The other problem is that they need frequent replacement and create a lot of waste. Due to this a lot of effort is going on to find better ways of generating power.

Now, Christopher Howe and other researchers from the University of Cambridge have managed create a power source using blue-green algae to generate enough electricity to power a processor performing calculations (to simulate load). Using a type of cyanobacteria called Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803 sealed in a container about the size of an AA battery, made of aluminum and clear plastic they were able to generate the 0.3 microwatts of power to run the CPU for 45 minutes followed by 15 minutes of standby, which required 0.24 microwatts of power.

The system ran without additional intervention for 6 months and the computer was placed on a windowsill at one of the researchers’ houses during the test and the ambient light was enough to power the processor. There are indications that this can be scaled up to generate more power for more resource intensive applications but even if that doesn’t work out, the current setup could potentially be used to power IoT devices that don’t require that much power to run such as sensors/monitors deployed in the forests/cities for monitoring.

Sustainable, affordable and decentralised sources of electrical energy are required to power the network of electronic devices known as the Internet of Things. Power consumption for a single Internet of Things device is modest, ranging from μW to mW, but the number of Internet of Things devices has already reached many billions and is expected to grow to one trillion by 2035, requiring a vast number of portable energy sources (e.g., a battery or an energy harvester). Batteries rely largely on expensive and unsustainable materials (e.g., rare earth elements) and their charge eventually runs out. Existing energy harvesters (e.g., solar, temperature, vibration) are longer lasting but may have adverse effects on the environment (e.g., hazardous materials are used in the production of photovoltaics). Here, we describe a bio-photovoltaic energy harvester system using photosynthetic microorganisms on an aluminium anode that can power an Arm Cortex M0+, a microprocessor widely used in Internet of Things applications. The proposed energy harvester has operated the Arm Cortex M0+ for over six months in a domestic environment under ambient light. It is comparable in size to an AA battery, and is built using common, durable, inexpensive and largely recyclable materials.

Their research has been published in the Energy & Environmental Science journal and work is ongoing to build on top of it to look at commercial applications.

Source: A colony of blue-green algae can power a computer for six months

– Suramya

May 10, 2022

Using ancient techniques for adding secret images in bronze mirrors to hide images in Liquid Crystal displays

Filed under: Emerging Tech,Interesting Sites,Science Related — Suramya @ 1:28 AM

There are a lot of things that were accomplished by our ancestors that seem like they should be impossible and this is why the theory that aliens were involved in our past to give us a boost is so popular. People don’t realize that just because it wasn’t possible in the western world doesn’t mean that others in the world couldn’t do it. In this post I am going to talk about Chinese/Japanese Magic mirrors that were first created ~200BC but modern science was only able to explain how they work in 2005 when M V Berry published an paper describing the optics of how this would work.

The Magic Mirror is a type of mirror that was popular in ancient china, specially the Han dynasty (206 BC – 24 AD). The specialty of these mirrors is that they were made out of solid bronze with the front side polished brightly so that it can be used as a mirror whereas the back would have a design cast in the metal. When a bright light was reflected by the mirror and shone against a wall the pattern on the back of the mirror would be projected onto the wall.


Example of how the Magic Mirror reflections look (Pic credit: Faena.com)

As you can imagine this is extremely hard to do. Due to trading with the Chinese, folks over in Korea and Japan have also been known to create these mirrors which are known as Makyō (magic mirrors) over there. One difference between Makyō and the Chinese mirror is that a Makyō doesn’t reflect the image on the back on the mirror when light hits it, nor does it have any obvious irregularities on its reflecting surface. But still it creates these fantastical images where nothing should be there. More details on how the mirrors were constructed and the history behind them are available here.

It took western scientists over 2000 years to figure out the science behind these mirrors, kind of.. as evident from the explanation below.

Although the surface of the mirrors is polished and seems completely flat, it has subtle convex and concave curves caused by the designed. Convex curves (outwards) scatter light and darken their areas of reflection. For their part, concave curves focus light and illuminate their areas of reflection. Mirrors are made of forged bronze, and the thickest parts are cooled at a different speed than the thin ones. Since the metal contracts a little as it is cooled, the different ranges of cooling “stress” or slightly deform the metal. The thin areas are also more flexible than the thick parts, so the polishing process, which should smoothen the metal until uniformity is achieved, exaggerates the slight differences in thickness. While we cannot see the pattern on the surface of the mirror, photos very clearly delineate it, so when they are able to bounce off the mirror’s curves, the pattern emerges.

Using the understanding gained from Berry’s paper Felix Hufnagel and his colleagues from the University of Ottawa in Canada to create a modern version of the magic mirror using liquid crystal which is a different state of matter (their molecules are both fluid and arranged in patterns). By applying an electric current to the liquid crystals they were able to tailor the orientation of the molecules which allowed them to create an image which would only show up when a particular combination of current/amplitude was applied. The images created using this technique look clear even when viewed from different angles which can be used to improve projectors for 3D images.

Their paper was published in Optica earlier this month and is an interesting (if confusing read).

Interesting links:
Wikipedia: Chinese Magic Mirror
Secret images hidden in mirrors and windows using liquid crystals

– Suramya

May 9, 2022

Researchers have created the first one-way superconductor which could lower energy used by computers

Filed under: Computer Hardware,Emerging Tech,Science Related,Tech Related — Suramya @ 6:58 PM

Computers use massive amounts of energy worldwide and with the increasing dependence on computers in our life the energy utilization is only going to go up. To give you an idea, the International Energy Agency estimates that 1% of all global electricity is used by data centers. There are multiple efforts ongoing to reduce the power consumption and the recent advances by Mazhar Ali from Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands and his colleagues are a great step forward in this direction.

Mazhar and team have successfully demonstrated a working superconducting diode by sandwiching a 2D layer of a material called niobium-3 bromine-8, which is thought to have a built-in electric field, between two 2D superconducting layers. When electrons travel through the structure in one direction, they don’t encounter resistance, but in the other direction they do. This is unique because till now we had only gotten a diode working with non-superconducting metals (as they would not give any resistance in either direction).

The superconducting analogue to the semiconducting diode, the Josephson diode, has long been sought with multiple avenues to realization being proposed by theorists1,2,3. Showing magnetic-field-free, single-directional superconductivity with Josephson coupling, it would serve as the building block for next-generation superconducting circuit technology. Here we realized the Josephson diode by fabricating an inversion symmetry breaking van der Waals heterostructure of NbSe2/Nb3Br8/NbSe2. We demonstrate that even without a magnetic field, the junction can be superconducting with a positive current while being resistive with a negative current. The ΔIc behaviour (the difference between positive and negative critical currents) with magnetic field is symmetric and Josephson coupling is proved through the Fraunhofer pattern. Also, stable half-wave rectification of a square-wave excitation was achieved with a very low switching current density, high rectification ratio and high robustness. This non-reciprocal behaviour strongly violates the known Josephson relations and opens the door to discover new mechanisms and physical phenomena through integration of quantum materials with Josephson junctions, and provides new avenues for superconducting quantum devices.

The next step is to create a superconducting transistor, but there are multiple challenges ahead that need to be overcome before this can be commercially released. The first problem is that the diode only works when it’s temperature is at 2 kelvin, or -271°C which uses more energy than the diode saves. So the team is looking at alternative materials so that they can get it to work at 77 Kelvin (which is when nitrogen is liquid) so the energy used would be less and we would have an energy-saving diode.

Another issue to be sorted is that the current process of making the diode is manual and would need to be automated for large scale production. But that is a future problem as they first need to find a combination of materials that works at a reasonable energy cost.

Source: First one-way superconductor could slash energy used by computers
Paper: The field-free Josephson diode in a van der Waals heterostructure

– Suramya

May 3, 2022

Key DNA building blocks found in meteorites supporting the theory that meteorites contributed to origin of life on earth

Filed under: Astronomy / Space,My Thoughts,Science Related — Suramya @ 10:22 AM

How life started on Earth is a subject that is under massive debate and there are multiple theories on how all the required building blocks came into being on earth. One theory is that while the earth was forming and in the early stages of becoming a planet one or more meteorites containing the building blocks of life crashed into the planet. Once the blocks were there over time they combined together to form DNA and then life started.

DNA consists of pairs of molecules called nucleobases which consist of adenine, guanine, cytosine and thymine. These together form the DNA which is the basis of all life on earth. Two of these nucleobases – adenine and guanine were detected in meteorites back in the 1960s. Leading the scientists to postulate that they could have been the source of the compounds on earth. However, till recently no one was able to detect the remaining two DNA nucleobases in any meteorite which made it hard to argue that the meteorites where the source of the nucleobases.

Now, Yasuhiro Oba at Hokkaido University in Japan and his colleagues have discovered the remaining two DNA nucleobases, cytosine and thymine in several meteorites. They examined rocks from three meteorites: the Murchison, Murray and Tagish Lake meteorites that date to about 5 billion years ago and hit earth approximately two decades ago.

The lack of pyrimidine diversity in meteorites remains a mystery since prebiotic chemical models and laboratory experiments have predicted that these compounds can also be produced from chemical precursors found in meteorites. Here we report the detection of nucleobases in three carbonaceous meteorites using state-of-the-art analytical techniques optimized for small-scale quantification of nucleobases down to the range of parts per trillion (ppt). In addition to previously detected purine nucleobases in meteorites such as guanine and adenine, we identify various pyrimidine nucleobases such as cytosine, uracil, and thymine, and their structural isomers such as isocytosine, imidazole-4-carboxylic acid, and 6-methyluracil, respectively. Given the similarity in the molecular distribution of pyrimidines in meteorites and those in photon-processed interstellar ice analogues, some of these derivatives could have been generated by photochemical reactions prevailing in the interstellar medium and later incorporated into asteroids during solar system formation. This study demonstrates that a diversity of meteoritic nucleobases could serve as building blocks of DNA and RNA on the early Earth.

This is an important find but more interestingly the team found that the soil around the Murchison meteorite had a higher concentration of the nucleobases than in the meteorite and according to researchers “If these results are representative of typical pyrimidine concentrations in meteorites, then [nucleobases present on] Earth would likely have been responsible for the emergence of genetic material rather than inputs from extraterrestrial delivery.”

Like always, the more we examine the world the more questions we have. For every question we answer, 10 more are formed. Which is what makes the whole scientific process of discovery so fascinating.

Source: New Scientist: All four of the key DNA building blocks have been found in meteorites
Paper: Identifying the wide diversity of extraterrestrial purine and pyrimidine nucleobases in carbonaceous meteorites

– Suramya

May 2, 2022

MIT researchers create a portable desalination unit that can run off a single solar panel

Filed under: Emerging Tech,My Thoughts,Science Related — Suramya @ 2:33 AM

The lack of drinking water is a major problem across large portions of the world and over 2 billion people live in water-stressed countries. According to WHO at least 2 billion people use a drinking water source contaminated with feces. On the other side, places near the sea have to deal with salt water contamination of their drinking supply. If we can desalinize sea water cheaply and easily then it will be a great boon to world.

There are existing technologies that convert sea-water to drinking water but they require massive energy supply and large scale plants which are very expensive to make. To resolve this issue MIT researchers have been working on creating a portable desalination unit that generates clear, clean drinking water without the need for filters or high-pressure pumps. Since the unit doesn’t use filters or high-pressure pumps the energy requirement is low enough that it can be run off a small, portable solar panel.

The research team of Jongyoon Han, Junghyo Yoon, a research scientist in RLE; Hyukjin J. Kwon, a former postdoc; SungKu Kang, a postdoc at Northeastern University; and Eric Brack of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (DEVCOM) created this and the initial prototype has worked as expected. Their research has been published online in Environmental Science and Technology.

Instead, their unit relies on a technique called ion concentration polarization (ICP), which was pioneered by Han’s group more than 10 years ago. Rather than filtering water, the ICP process applies an electrical field to membranes placed above and below a channel of water. The membranes repel positively or negatively charged particles — including salt molecules, bacteria, and viruses — as they flow past. The charged particles are funneled into a second stream of water that is eventually discharged.

The process removes both dissolved and suspended solids, allowing clean water to pass through the channel. Since it only requires a low-pressure pump, ICP uses less energy than other techniques.

But ICP does not always remove all the salts floating in the middle of the channel. So the researchers incorporated a second process, known as electrodialysis, to remove remaining salt ions.

Yoon and Kang used machine learning to find the ideal combination of ICP and electrodialysis modules. The optimal setup includes a two-stage ICP process, with water flowing through six modules in the first stage then through three in the second stage, followed by a single electrodialysis process. This minimized energy usage while ensuring the process remains self-cleaning.


Video demonstration of the process

The prototype device was tested at Boston’s Carson Beach and was found to generate drinking water at a rate of 0.3 liters per hour, requiring only 20 watts of power per liter during the use. As you can guess this is pretty amazing. If the device can be mass-produced it will help reduce the scarcity of drinking water in the world without requiring massive amounts of energy which would cause other climate impact.

One downside of this kind of machine is that it creates a byproduct of highly saline water as the salt from the pure water is mixed with the waste water. Releasing this water in the ocean has a huge impact on the sea life as the water suddenly becomes too saline for them. If the water is allowed to seep into the land then it will reduce the fertility of the soil due to the increased salt in the soil. In addition to making the device commercial we also need to do research on what we should do with the waste water generated so that the adverse impact of the product can be offset.

Source: MIT News: From seawater to drinking water, with the push of a button

– Suramya

April 20, 2022

Improving Photosynthesis efficiency by resurrecting ancient enzymes in Modern Plants

Filed under: Science Related — Suramya @ 1:23 AM

Climate change is something that is going to impact us in a major way specially in our ability to produce food as the plants and animals we have right now are not really suited for an environment that is a lot hotter and has more pollutants & CO2 in the atmosphere. Scientists have been exploring modifying the plants to enable them to thrive in the new environment and increase their food productivity (since the world population is growing at a massive rate) and Maureen Hanson & Myat Lin from the Cornell University have made a breakthrough in the effort to improve the efficiency of Photosynthesis in plants.

They developed a computational technique to predict favorable gene sequences to make Rubisco that fixes atmospheric CO2 into organic compounds. Using the evolutionary history the process predicted how the genes would have been 20-30 million years ago. These were then tested using an experimental system developed in Hanson’s lab (Nature Plants Paper) that employs E. coli bacteria to test the efficacy of the different versions Rubisco. Using this method allowed the researchers to evaluate the findings a lot faster than the traditional method which would have taken months to verify instead of days.

Plants and photosynthetic organisms have a remarkably inefficient enzyme named Rubisco that fixes atmospheric CO2 into organic compounds. Understanding how Rubisco has evolved in response to past climate change is important for attempts to adjust plants to future conditions. In this study, we developed a computational workflow to assemble de novo both large and small subunits of Rubisco enzymes from transcriptomics data. Next, we predicted sequences for ancestral Rubiscos of the (nightshade) family Solanaceae and characterized their kinetics after coexpressing them in Escherichia coli. Predicted ancestors of C3 Rubiscos were identified that have superior kinetics and excellent potential to help plants adapt to anthropogenic climate change. Our findings also advance understanding of the evolution of Rubisco’s catalytic traits.

Their findings which have been published in Science Advances show that the ancient Rubisco enzymes predicted showed real promise for being more efficient. The next step is to replace the genes in existing tobacco plants with their ancient counterparts and then measure how the photosynthesis efficiency changes in the modified plant. If things look good then we can start testing against food crops such as tomatoes, soybeans and rice.

But that is going to take time as these things can’t be rushed and we need to ensure there are no harmful side effects of this change. That being said, it is a great breakthrough and I am going to be watching this space for more advances.

Paper: Improving the efficiency of Rubisco by resurrecting its ancestors in the family Solanaceae
Article: Scientists resurrect ancient enzymes to improve photosynthesis

– Suramya

April 15, 2022

Life found a way a lot earlier than when we thought it had

Filed under: Interesting Sites,Science Related — Suramya @ 2:57 AM

According to scientific the current understanding earth formed about 4.54 billion years ago and till now the theory was that life evolved on earth about 3.7bn years ago. This was primarily based on the fact that the oldest reported micro-fossils found dated to 3.46bn and 3.7bn years ago. However recent discoveries in Canada have changed the calculus as they found evidence of microbes thriving near hydrothermal vents on Earth’s surface just 300m years after the planet formed, making them between 3.75bn and 4.28bn years old which makes this by far the oldest micro-fossils ever found.

If confirmed, it would suggest the conditions necessary for the emergence of life are relatively basic. “If life is relatively quick to emerge, given the right conditions, this increases the chance that life exists on other planets,” said Dominic Papineau, of University College London, who led the research. Five years ago, Papineau and colleagues announced they had found microfossils in iron-rich sedimentary rocks from the Nuvvuagittuq supracrustal belt in Quebec, Canada. The team suggested that these tiny filaments, knobs and tubes of an iron oxide called haematite could have been made by bacteria living around hydrothermal vents that used iron-based chemical reactions to obtain their energy.

Scientific dating of the rocks has suggested they are at least 3.75bn years old, and possibly as old as 4.28bn years, the age of the volcanic rocks they are embedded in. Before this, the oldest reported microfossils dated to 3.46bn and 3.7bn years ago, potentially making the Canadian specimens the oldest direct evidence of life on Earth. Now, further analysis of the rock has revealed a much larger and more complex structure — a stem with parallel branches on one side that is nearly a centimetre long — as well as hundreds of distorted spheres, or ellipsoids, alongside the tubes and filaments.

It is a fascinating find because it gives us an idea of how quickly life evolved on Earth which in turn enables us to search for it on other planets both in our own solar-system and the ones we have found around other stars (once we can get to them). Whether the life would have evolved into something akin to Humans or still be in the micro-organism stage is something up in the air. My feel is that we will find evidence for something in the middle of both extremes, but the longer we search the more the possibility of finding intelligent life improves.

Source: Microfossils may be evidence life began very quickly after Earth formed

– Suramya

June 15, 2021

Prehistoric humans co-existed with Neanderthals in Israel’s Negev desert around 50,000 years ago

Filed under: My Thoughts,Science Related — Suramya @ 8:20 PM

What happened to the Neanderthals is a question we have been trying to answer for decades but no sure answers. One of the questions that a lot of people have been trying to answer is whether there was any overlap with the Neanderthals and prehistoric humans and if so when did that happen. One of the more popular theories is that the modern man would have fought with the Neanderthals and killed them all in a genocidal war. Other theories postulate that there was an overlap and the two inter-bred producing the modern human.

Now thanks to precision carbon dating and secure archaeological contexts researchers have a concrete idea and proof that the two cultures overlapped around 50,000 years ago in Israel’s Negev Desert. This is fantastic news because till now we only had a vague idea of when the overlap happened but now we have proof that both sides co-existed and interacted with each other. Thanks to carbon dating we have a solid timeline of when this happened.

The study, has been published in the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) journal last week. I can’t find a link to the study for some reason. Will update the post with the link once I find it.

“The dating of the site to 50,000 years ago proves that modern man lived in the Negev at the same time as Neanderthal man, who we know inhabited the region in the same period. There is no doubt that, as they dwelt in and moved around the Negev, the two species were aware of each other’s existence. Our research on the Boker Tachtit site places an important, well-defined reference point on the timeline of human evolution,” said Barzilai.

Written by a large team including Weizmann’s Boaretto and the IAA’s Barzilai, the PNAS article, “The absolute chronology of Boker Tachtit (Israel) and implications for the Middle to Upper Paleolithic transition in the Levant,” describes how recent chronological studies based on radiocarbon dating from other sites in the Levant spurred the team to rethink the previously recognized dating at the Boker Tachtit site, determined from earlier excavations.

So the team, funded by the Max Planck-Weizmann Center for the Integrative Archaeology and Anthropology, conducted new excavations from 2013-2015 and gathered very small individual fragments of wood charcoal. At least a millimeter in their longest dimension, the minuscule samples were analyzed by Boaretto and her Weizmann lab.

The samples belonged to four major species: Pistacia atlantica (a species of pistachio tree), Juniperus cf phoenicea (Phoenician juniper), Tamarix sp. (tamarisk, salt cedar) and Hammada scoparia. According to the article, the radiocarbon dating samples were from clear archaeological contexts that could be associated with significant flint concentrations, which provide a source of typological dating.

The C-14 dates and the optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) dates overlap between 50,000 and 44,000 years ago, a range of 6,000 years.

“We are now able to conclude with greater confidence that the Middle-to-Upper Paleolithic transition was a rather fast-evolving event that began at Boker Tachtit approximately 50-49,000 years ago and ended about 44,000 years ago,” said Boaretto in a Weizman press release.

This is very interesting and I am looking forward to reading more about the research and the implications of the same to our understanding of how we came to be.

Source: Prehistoric man lived with and loved Neanderthals in the Negev 50,000 years ago via

– Suramya

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