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Early use of ‘sat nav’ system

In a new research, a scientist has found that prehistoric man navigated his way across England using a crude version of a satellite navigation system, which was based on stone circle markers.

The research, by historian and writer Tom Brooks, shows that Britain’s Stone Age ancestors were ‘sophisticated engineers’ and far from a barbaric race. He studied all known prehistoric sites as part of his research.

He found that the prehistoric man was able to travel between settlements in England with pinpoint accuracy, thanks to a complex network of hilltop monuments. These covered much of southern England and Wales and included now famous landmarks such as Stonehenge and The Mount.

New research suggests that they were built on a connecting grid of isosceles triangles that ‘point’ to the next site. Many are 100 miles or more away, but GPS co-ordinates show all are accurate to within 100 metres. This provided a simple way for ancient Britons to navigate successfully from point A to B without the need for maps.

State of mind among animals

Conducting extensive research into animal cognition, psychologists at the University at Buffalo have found that some animals may share humans’ ability to reflect upon, monitor or regulate their states of mind.

“Comparative psychologists have studied the question of whether or not non-human animals have knowledge of their own cognitive states by testing a dolphin, pigeons, rats, monkeys and apes using perception, memory and food-concealment paradigms,” said J David Smith.

“The field offers growing evidence that some animals have functional parallels to humans’ consciousness and to humans’ cognitive self-awareness,” he added.

El Nino linked to flu pandemic

A new research conducted at Texas A and M University has shown evidence of a possible link between El Nino and a severe flu pandemic in 1918 that adversely affected India.

The findings are based on analysis of the 1918 El Nino, which the new research shows to be one of the strongest of the 20th century. El Nino occurs when unusually warm surface waters form over vast stretches of the eastern Pacific Ocean and can affect weather systems worldwide.

Using advanced computer models, Benjamin Giese, who specialises in ocean modelling, and his co-authors conducted a simulation of the global oceans for the first half of the 20th century and they found that, in contrast with prior descriptions, the 1918-19 El Nino was one of the strongest of the century.

Giese said there were few measurements of the tropical Pacific Ocean in 1918, the last year of World War I, and the few observations that are available from 1918 are mostly along the coast of South America.

Antarctica’s secret water network

The first complete map of the lakes beneath Antarctica’s ice sheets reveals the continent’s secret water network is far more dynamic than we thought, and could be acting as a powerful lubricant beneath glaciers, contributing to sea level rise. According to a report in ‘New Scientist’, Ian Joughin at the University of Washington in Seattle and colleagues developed the map.

Unlike previous lake maps, which are confined to small regions, Joughin and colleagues mapped 124 subglacial lakes across Antarctica using lasers on NASA’s ICESat satellite. The team also observed the lakes draining and filling.

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