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Must Farm

A 3000-Year-Old Settlement Is Being Dubbed 'Britain’s Pompeii'

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Must Farm

British archaeologists are currently excavating a 3000-year-old settlement so perfectly preserved that it's inspiring comparisons to Pompeii. The site includes pristine structural components from the buildings themselves as well as common household items like textiles, farming tools, and cooking supplies. The discoveries are being considered the best-preserved Bronze Age dwellings ever uncovered in Britain.

The settlement owes its impressive condition to the silt underlying Cambridgeshire’s marshy fens, where they were discovered. Originally suspended above a river by a series of stilts, the structures caught fire and collapsed into the water beneath them, where they remained preserved in the muck for millennia. The houses remained undisturbed until a local archaeologist noticed a series of wooden posts jutting out from the ground in 1999. This led to an initial evaluation of the site in 2004 followed by a more extensive one in 2006. The level of quality in the artifacts uncovered at that time proved that they had found something truly remarkable, and now a team from the Cambridge University Archaeological Unit is working on a full excavation of the site.

In addition to everyday items, archaeologists have dug up objects that would have been considered precious for the time, including a bronze sickle and glass beads possibly belonging to a necklace. They even discovered what is likely the spine of a cow in one of the buildings, which could offer important insight into the diet of the marsh-dwelling community.

Because there was no evidence that the people took advantage of the fish, eels, clams, or other food options locally available to them, it's possible that they settled in the area for power, rather than resources. Their proximity to the river—which would have been a major transportation hub at the time—may have been their key to wealth, status, and control. This hypothesis is supported by the variety of food and other valuables that have so far been uncovered on the site. A paper detailing the team's discoveries is expected to be released in a few years, after which the items will be displayed to the public.

Images courtesy of Must Farm

[h/t: IFL]

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Land Cover CCI, ESA
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Afternoon Map
European Space Agency Releases First High-Res Land Cover Map of Africa
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Land Cover CCI, ESA

This isn’t just any image of Africa. It represents the first of its kind: a high-resolution map of the different types of land cover that are found on the continent, released by The European Space Agency, as Travel + Leisure reports.

Land cover maps depict the different physical materials that cover the Earth, whether that material is vegetation, wetlands, concrete, or sand. They can be used to track the growth of cities, assess flooding, keep tabs on environmental issues like deforestation or desertification, and more.

The newly released land cover map of Africa shows the continent at an extremely detailed resolution. Each pixel represents just 65.6 feet (20 meters) on the ground. It’s designed to help researchers model the extent of climate change across Africa, study biodiversity and natural resources, and see how land use is changing, among other applications.

Developed as part of the Climate Change Initiative (CCI) Land Cover project, the space agency gathered a full year’s worth of data from its Sentinel-2A satellite to create the map. In total, the image is made from 90 terabytes of data—180,000 images—taken between December 2015 and December 2016.

The map is so large and detailed that the space agency created its own online viewer for it. You can dive further into the image here.

And keep watch: A better map might be close at hand. In March, the ESA launched the Sentinal-2B satellite, which it says will make a global map at a 32.8 feet-per-pixel (10 meters) resolution possible.

[h/t Travel + Leisure]

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iStock
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Scientists May Have Found the Real Cause of Dyslexia—And a Way to Treat It
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iStock

Dyslexia is often described as trying to read letters as they jump around the page. Because of its connections to reading difficulties and trouble in school, the condition is often blamed on the brain. But according to a new study published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, the so-called learning disability may actually start in the eyes.

As The Guardian reports, a team of French scientists say they've discovered a key physiological difference between the eyes of those with dyslexia and those without it. Our eyes have tiny light-receptor cells called rods and cones. The center of a region called the fovea is dominated by cones, which are also responsible for color perception.

Just as most of us have a dominant hand, most have a dominant eye too, which has more neural connections to the brain. The study of 60 people, divided evenly between those with dyslexia and those without, found that in the eyes of non-dyslexic people, the arrangement of the cones is asymmetrical: The dominant eye has a round, cone-free hole, while the other eye has an unevenly shaped hole. However, in people with dyslexia, both eyes have the same round hole. So when they're looking at something in front of them, such as a page in a book, their eyes perceive exact mirror images, which end up fighting for visual domination in the brain. This could explain why it's sometimes impossible for a dyslexic person to distinguish a "b" from a "d" or an "E" from a "3".

These results challenge previous research that connects dyslexia to cognitive abilities. In a study published earlier this year, people with the condition were found to have a harder time remembering musical notes, faces, and spoken words. In light of the new findings, it's unclear whether this is at the root of dyslexia or if growing up with vision-related reading difficulties affects brain plasticity.

If dyslexia does come down to some misarranged light-receptors in the eye, diagnosing the disorder could be as simple as giving an eye exam. The explanation could also make it easy to treat without invasive surgery. In the study, the authors describe using an LED lamp that blinks faster than the human eye can perceive to "cancel out" one of the mirror images perceived by dyslexic readers, leaving only one true image. The volunteers who read with it called it a "magic lamp." The researchers hope to further experiment with it to see see if it's a viable treatment option for the millions of people living with dyslexia.

[h/t The Guardian]

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