What's the buzz...

What's the buzz...

Archaeologists unearth tombs in Egypt

Italian archaeologists have found 3,000-year-old tombs in the southern Egyptian city of Luxor.  Egypt’s antiquities ministry said that the tombs were unearthed under Pharaoh Amenhotep II’s mortuary temple, which is located on the western bank of the River Nile, the BBC reported.

The ministry said that remains of wooden sarcophaguses and human bones had been found inside the tombs. Jars that are used to preserve the liver, lungs, stomach and intestines of the deceased were also found, they were decorated with images of the four sons of the god Horus.

The figures - which have the heads of a human, a baboon, a jackal and a falcon - were believed to help the soul find its way to heaven.  Wafaa Elsaddik, a professor of Egyptology, said that the find was important as it showed that temples were not just used for worship, but for burial as well.  Elsaddik said that the jars were of very good quality, which suggested that the tombs had belonged to wealthy people.

Life may be possible on extrasolar moons

Exomoons are just as likely to support life as exoplanets, researchers have found.  About 850 extrasolar planets -- planets outside the solar system -- are known, and most of them are sterile gas giants, similar to Jupiter.

Only a few have a solid surface and orbit their host stars in the habitable zone, the circumstellar belt at the right distance to potentially allow liquid surface water and a benign environment.

Rene Heller from Germany’s Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam and Rory Barnes from the University of Washington and the Nasa Astrobiology Institute tackled the theoretical question whether such planets could host habitable moons.  No such exomoons have yet been discovered but there’s no reason to assume they don’t exist. The climatic conditions expected on extrasolar moons will likely differ from those on extrasolar planets because moons are typically tidally locked to their planet.

Thus, similar to the earth’s moon, one hemisphere permanently faces the planet. Beyond that moons have two sources of light -- that from the star and the planet they orbit -- and are subject to eclipses that could significantly alter their climates, reducing stellar illumination.

“An observer standing on the surface of such an exomoon would experience day and night in a totally different way than we do on earth.” Heller said.  “For instance stellar eclipses could lead to sudden total darkness at noon,” Heller said.

Heller and Barnes also identified tidal heating as a criterion for exomoon habitability. This additional energy source is triggered by a moon’s distance to its host planet; the closer the moon, the stronger tidal heating.

They also devised a theoretical model to estimate the minimum distance a moon could be from its host planet and still allow habitability, which they call the “habitable edge.” This concept will allow future astronomers to evaluate the habitability of extrasolar moons.

“There is a habitable zone for exomoons, it’s just a little different than the habitable zone for exoplanets,” Barnes said.

Dutch smart highway to have bad weather warnings

A Dutch design firm aiming to make roads safer and more energy efficient has created a smart highway that uses green technology to illuminate the road and alert of treacherous conditions.

According to Wired UK, Daan Roosegaarde of Studio Roosegaarde said that it was time road technology started catching up with automobile technology.

The road features solar-powered markings that charge during the day to stay illuminated for up to 10 hours at night, the New York Daily News reported.

Wind-powered pinwheel lights turn on using energy taken from the draft of passing cars.  The temperature-sensitive paint will also be used to create bad weather signals like snow flakes to alert drivers of treacherous conditions.

Other features include roadside interactive lights that come on when a driver approaches and dim when the driver passes, wind-powered lights and a lane with special coils beneath the surface that can charge an electric car while it drives. A stretch of smart road featuring the glow- in- the-dark paint is set to be installed in theNetherlands in mid-2013, Wired reported.

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