“Space archaeology” transforms how ancient sites are discovered

Archaeologists often spend years digging and hoping they'll find the remnants of ancient civilizations. There's a lot of ground yet to be uncovered. Archaeologist Sarah Parcak says less than 10 percent of the Earth's surface has been explored, so she's leading the way to speed up the search. Parcak uses satellite photos to locate ancient sites and she's finding them -- thousands. It's called space archaeology and it's transforming the field. Sarah Parcak is a professor at The University of Alabama at Birmingham. We met her in Egypt doing what she loves most: digging in the dirt. Our journey took us past the most famous archaeological site on Earth, the Pyramids of Giza rising from the Egyptian desert. Here and elsewhere, modern Egypt is built next to and often on top of ancient Egypt. From Cairo, we traveled 40 miles south and almost 4,000 years back in time to the village of Lisht. Today, the people of Lisht bury their dead in a cemetery at the edge of town, in the same place that ancient Egyptians buried their dead.   Sarah Parcak: Every day, I come to the site. And it's just blows my mind. You know, and this is just one tomb. At the age of 38, Sarah Parcak is leading the excavation of a tomb that's 3,800 years old.  Bill Whitaker: Were all of the tombs this elaborate? Sarah Parcak: No, no…so this is special. Sarah Parcak: This is a big rock cut tomb of a wealthy Middle Kingdom official. It's big. We watched Parcak's team meticulously dig with trowels and brushes -- after three weeks of this, the tomb buried for millennia was slowly revealed. Most of the discoveries were fragments of pots and inscribed stones.  That changed the morning we arrived.  Bill Whitaker: Sarah, what is this? What have you found? Sarah Parcak: So this is beautiful. Sarah Parcak: Look at that. Bill Whitaker: Oh, a hand. Sarah Parcak: This is amazing. Bill Whitaker: Look at this. You've got an arm there— Sarah Parcak: This is a limestone block that was part Continue Reading

Did Aliens build this computer? (Hint: no)

Great rejoicing among the children of the land today: School cancelled three days in advance. This not only means the winter break is extended, it means the first week back is shorter. SCIENCE! Dogs poop in accordance with the invisible rays of the planet’s magnetic field. Okay then. But what did ancient dogs do? Perhaps they consulted the The Antikythera Mechanism, news about which is making the rounds today. i09: The mystery of who built the Antikythera mechanism remains. It has been linked to renowned ancient inventor Archimedes by the writings of Cicero, but this particular device was built after Archimedes' death. Still, the engraved words revealed by the new photos pinpoint the device's origin to Corinth, or possibly Corinthian colonies. Sicily was such a colony, and the Sicilian city of Syracuse was Archimedes' headquarters. The researchers theorize that the Antikythera mechanism is based on an Archimedian design, and might even have been built by a workshop carrying on his technological tradition. But if the design has been "industrialized" in such a way, why have we never found another one like it? Because fools were afraid of it, or destroyed it to sell the metal parts. Does this mean scientists could have come up with clacking steam-powered mechanical calculation devices hundreds of years earlier. with Byzantium (not Constantinople) the Silicon Valley of its day? Hard to say, but the Romans would have loved computers. Any big administrative state finds them useful. The article’s comments promptly veer off in the expected direction: One of the commenters actually uses that guy as a source for his arguments, which has a Mobius-strip logic to it. The commenter believes there was - oh, it’s hard to say. Greys visiting earth a long time ago, helping humans build structures, that sort of thing. Anthropologists without the prime directive. Rather unimaginative, or careless: if you know you’re shaping a culture just by showing up and Continue Reading

Review: Listen to David Duchovny, wish for alien abduction

David Duchovny, "Every Third Thought" (King Baby/GMG) In an upcoming episode of "The X-Files," Fox Mulder gets mixed up with some paranormal forces and somehow believes he's a rock 'n' roll god. No, wait. That's not a TV show. It's apparently real life for David Duchovny. Duchovny ditches his day job chasing aliens on television to release his 12-track sophomore effort, "Every Third Thought," an album of pretty good rock songs marred by perhaps the worst vocal performances ever captured digitally. This album is like listening to the tired and tipsy stragglers of an office party ending up at a karaoke bar at 3 a.m. when that weird dude from accounts payable grabs the mic to live out his rock dreams in a beer-induced semi-coma. Duchovny has a horrifically thin voice, unable to modulate, unable to show any emotion, unable to hold a note. It doesn't go up or down. It just sits there croaking like a dying frog. He hasn't improved since his debut 2015 album, "Hell or Highwater," which we gave him a pass on because, hey, everyone makes mistakes. But the second one is a blemish on a really good band, including multi-instrumentalists Colin Lee, Pat McCusker and Mitchell Stewart — who also serve as the producers — and Sebastian Modak on drums. They deserve better. Forget the truth: a true vocalist is out there, guys. Duchovny's lyrics seem designed to either make nerdy folks swoon with references to ancient Rome and science — "Matter decays exponentially/ Half-lives await us all eventually" — or make them wince ("I'll slap the cuffs on the hands of time" and "When it comes to bliss, I'm a communist"). In "'Mo," he has the gall to criticize our insatiable hunger for everything, from cars to love: "Everybody always wants the cream at the top/ But nobody knows when to stop." Thanks, David, it's always nice for a one-time sex addict to lecture us on conspicuous consumption. Credit to Duchovny for co-writing all the songs, which range from the Tom Petty-ish Continue Reading

Stasi: Talks on climate change should focus on seaweed, Pope Francis

Pope Francis the Fearless gathered mayors from all over the world this week to discuss climate change and human trafficking, maintaining that the fossil fuel-based world economy exploits the poorest of the poor. Mayor De Blasio is there, pledging to reduce NYC emissions 40% by 2030. All good, but why aren’t they discussing the fact that climate change is causing the fouling of hundreds of beaches right now from the Gulf states to the Caribbean and Mexico? They should be talking about how Sargassum seaweed has started carpeting these beaches, and in unprecedented amounts — hundreds of thousands of tons — making swimming miserable. Sitting on the beach is often impossible because as it rots, the Sargassum stinks like sulphur. If the massive Sargassum invasion (miles-wide mats of floating brown algae that doesn’t stick to the ocean floor) continues carpeting beaches like it has been doing since 2011, sometimes piling up as high as 3 feet and extending for miles, the economy in those areas will dry up, too. Speculation about why Sargassum seaweed growth began exploding in 2011 have run the gamut from climate change/global warming to the 2010 BP oil spill, which dumped 205.8 million gallons of light crude oil into the Gulf. But Oak Ridge National Laboratory microbiologist Dr. Terry Hazen believes “the influx from the flooding of the Mississippi in 2011 is more likely.” Whatever has caused this massive invasion, even in places it hadn’t been seen before, has left scientists and affected governments to scratch their heads about what to do. The tons of stinky seaweed are too massive to manually remove constantly from beaches. In one 24-hour period alone last year, 8,400 tons of nasty, Sargassum carpeted three miles of Galveston Island beaches. In many cases, removal may not be allowed, because according to the “GCFI Sargassum Fact Sheet,” the algae is habitat for 120 species of fish and more than 120 Continue Reading

Stasi: Ideas for Rupert Murdoch’s TV takeover after Time Warner bid

Last week, Rupert Murdoch, the king of all media, bid 80 billion big ones to buy Time Warner, which includes the whole TV behemoth — Warner Brothers, HBO, CNN and you name it. (Even he doesn’t want CNN, but that’s another matter altogether.) While Murdoch, for sure, will swear not to make any changes in line with his political agenda, here are a couple suggestions he might consider: Julia Louis-Dreyfus ('Veep') and Jenny McCarthy. VEEP The Old: Julia Louis-Dreyfus as a hapless VP who can’t get anything done in a bogged-down system. The New: Jenny McCarthy as a right-wing VP and former stripper who gets everything done by flashing her knock-out knockers. Peter Dinklage ('Game of Thrones') and Arnold Schwarzenegger. GAME OF THRONES The Old: Emmy winner Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister, a royal dwarf who crushes everyone that gets in his way with brilliant political maneuvering and military cunning. The New: Former Calif. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger as Terminator Lannister, a royal giant who crushes everyone that gets in his way by beating the crap out of them. CNN's Candy Crowley and Kim Kardashian. CNN The Old: Candy Crowley in a sensible suit discussing political affairs and the importance of new media. The New: Kim Kardashian in a shirtless suit discussing sexual affairs and the importance of the selfie. Sam Waterston ('The Newsroom') and former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks. THE NEWSROOM The Old: Charlie Skinner, the news director with a conscience. The New: Rebekah Brooks, the news director without a soul. Rutina Wesley ('True Blood') and President Obama. TRUE BLOOD The Old: Vampires suck the blood out of everyone in Bon Temps. The New: Liberals suck the blood out of everything in Washington. Continue Reading

Stasi: Barneys, Macy’s incidents show the dangers of shopping while black

With the insane prices Barneys charges, it’s their execs who should be nailed by the cops for stealing — not the young black people who were profiled and arrested after paying outrageous prices for the accessories they were accused of robbing. And they’re not alone in New York City. At Macy’s, “Treme” actor Rob Brown was held by cops for committing Shopping While Black. It’s shop, stop-and-frisk taken to the heights — or make that the depths. Sure it’s 2013 and sure it’s N.Y.C., but the suits in charge — despite their denials of racism — must think they’re living in Alabama circa 1860. And if Barneys is living in a southern pre-Civil War mentality, then who is Jay Z in this nightmare? Profits from his collection for Barneys will go partially to charity and, in truth, pulling out of a collaboration that’s already in motion may be legally impossible. That being said, if Jay Z really wants to help people facing socio-economic hardships, then why the hell would he sell a collection that nobody but the wealthy can afford? The right thing to do is to stand up and get out of the deal as soon as he can. As for the stores, you’ve got to wonder if their executives have even thought about the fact New York City mayoral favorite Bill de Blasio’s gigantic lead is partially due to his mixed-race family — or that the de Blasio kids are just the kind of kids who would be arrested for committing shopping. “We can’t tolerate racial profiling of any kind,” de Blasio said. “Ending de facto quotas and profiling will be a top priority of mine.” RELATED: JAY Z BREAKS HIS SILENCE OVER BARNEYS FUROR; SAYS HE'S 'NO STRANGER TO RACIAL PROFILING' Stefan Soderstrom/All Over Press If Jay Z really wants to help people facing socio-economic hardships, why sell a collection nobody but the wealthy can afford? This kind of profiling Continue Reading

The definitive ranking of ‘Alien’ movies (including ‘Covenant’)

“In space, no one can hear you scream” was the tagline for 1979’s Alien, though over the course of four decades, audiences have encountered plenty of sounds, including blood-curdling yells, tearful cries and the yucky noises of creatures hugging faces and bursting from human chests.The sci-fi horror franchise has given us a great action hero in Sigourney Weaver’s Ellen Ripley, who fought monsters for four films but hasn't been seen in an Alien project since the 1990s; a string of androids, the most recent being Michael Fassbender as David in Prometheus and new film Alien: Covenant; the pesky Weyland-Yutani Corp., which seems to care more about cosmic beasts more than its employees; and the impressively fanged Xenomorph that’s become the iconic villain of the movie series.That slavering, snarling extraterrestrial is unleashed yet again in Covenant (in theaters Thursday night), which boasts brainy sci-fi themes and gory ultra-violence. But how does the new film stack up to the old-school scares from decades past? Here’s the definitive ranking of all the Alien films so far. (We’re not including the Alien vs. Predator films because they’re kind of their own franchise and honestly pretty terrible.)The fourth installment focuses on science experiments run amok and the military's decision to clone Ripley 200 years after she sacrificed herself (see: Alien 3) as a hybrid that gives "birth" to a new alien queen. While not big on actual plot, Resurrection features a bevy of creatures that a crew of mercenaries (including Ron Perlman and Winona Ryder) has to face, and a really strange humanoid monstrosity that shares a surprisingly touching moment before getting sucked out of a spaceship.Ripley gets stranded on a planet with an all-male penal colony and not much else. Unfortunately for everybody, an alien stowed away on her space vessel. Director David Fincher explores gender issues and creates Continue Reading

New on DVD: ‘The Dark Tower,’ ‘Kidnap,’ ‘Person to Person’ and more

BESIDE BOWIE: THE MICK RONSON STORY (MVD) Documentary on the life and music of Ronson, singer/guitarist whose groundbreaking collaborations with David Bowie, Lou Reed and others helped define the rock era before his death in 1993 at age 46. (Bowie recorded some of the narration before he died last year.) (not rated) THE DARK TOWER (Sony) A boy stumbles into a parallel universe where a gunslinger is tasked with stopping the mysterious and deadly Man in Black, who becomes intent on destroying both their world and ours. Based on Stephen King’s sprawling, eight-novel sci-fi/Western/horror serial, with Idris Elba, Matthew McConaughey, Tom Taylor. (PG-13; violence) KIDNAP (Universal) Single mom Halle Berry’s idyllic afternoon in the park turns into a nightmare when her son disappears and, not having her cellphone, she jumps into her car to chase the kidnappers. (R; violence) PERSON TO PERSON (Magnolia) Lives collide, intersect and complicate in this New York City comedy shot in 16-millimeter, which screened at the 2017 Milwaukee Film Festival. With Michael Cera, Abbi Jacobson, Michaela Watkins, Philip Baker Hall. (not rated; mature content) I CALLED HIM MORGAN (FilmRise) Story of 1960s jazz figure Lee Morgan, whose career as a leading figure in the New York City jazz scene was cut short when his wife, who had helped him build his career, shot him to death. (not rated)  THE SHADOW MAN (Sony) A woman fears she's being stalked by a shadowy figure in the dark — and she is. Horror-thriller based on legend. (not rated; some violence, gore) BROKEN SWORD HERO (Well Go USA) A legendary warrior fights for his people and their freedom. Historical martial-arts drama, based on a real warrior; in Thai with English subtitles. (not rated; violence) THE TORMENTING (Breaking Glass) After visiting the site of a new clinic, a medical researcher becomes haunted by dark and disturbing visions Continue Reading

New on DVD: ‘Planet of the Apes’ and ‘Annabelle’ sequels and more

WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES (Fox) The leader of the apes — Caesar, the genetically modified ape motion-capture-acted and voiced by Andy Serkis — goes after a ruthless colonel (Woody Harrelson) who's determined that the only way to save humanity is to wipe out all of the apes. (PG-13; violence, thematic elements, some disturbing images) ANNABELLE: CREATION (Warner) In the mid-1950s, a dollmaker and his wife, struggling to get over the death of their daughter, take in a nun and several girls from an orphanage that has been shut down — awakening something dark in one of the dollmaker’s creations in the process. Prequel to the prequel to the horror hit “The Conjuring.” (R; violence, terror)  AN INCONVENIENT SEQUEL: TRUTH TO POWER (Paramount) In the follow-up to the 2006 Oscar-winning documentary "An Inconvenient Truth," vice president turned activist Al Gore explores the progress made on climate change issues since — and what's at stake with changes proposed by President Donald Trump. (PG; thematic elements, some troubling images) THE EMOJI MOVIE (Sony) In Textopolis, an emoji with multiple expressions must find his place in a world where everyone else has just one. Animated movie (yes, inspired by smartphone icons) with voices by T.J. Miller, James Corden, Steven Wright, Jennifer Coolidge, Maya Rudolph, Sir Patrick Stewart. (PG; rude humor) PERSONAL SHOPPER (Criterion) Kristen Stewart plays a personal shopper to the stars in Paris who, while grieving the recent death of her twin brother, decides to make contact with him. Moody ghost story directed by Olivier Assayas (“Clouds of Sils Maria”), who won best director honors for the movie at last year’s Cannes Film Festival. (R; some language, sexuality, nudity, gory image)THE GOOD CATHOLIC (Broad Green) A young priest struggles with his calling when a he Continue Reading

New on DVD: ‘Girls Trip,’ ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming,’ ‘Landline’ and more

NOW MORE THAN EVER: THE HISTORY OF CHICAGO (MVD) A look at the 50-year history of the band Chicago, from the band's horn-centric roots to today. (not rated)L7: PRETEND WE'RE DEAD (MVD) Documentary telling the story of and looking into the influence of the punk-feminist band L7, including interviews, home movies and concert footage. (not rated) ALEX & EVE (K Street) Opposites-attract romantic comedy from Australia, with a Greek Orthodox man and a Lebanese Muslim woman trying not to fall in love. (not rated; mature content) GIRLS TRIP (Universal) Regina Hall, Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith and Tiffany Haddish play four longtime friends who travel to New Orleans to party, reconnect and loosen up a little. (R; pervasive crude and sexual content, pervasive language, brief nudity, drug material) SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING (Sony) Teenage Peter Parker juggles high school with superhero-dom, with a little guidance from Tony Stark (a.k.a. Iron Man) in this full-fledged redo of the Marvel franchise. With Tom Holland as Peter, Robert Downey Jr. as Stark, and Michael Keaton as the supervillain putting them both to the test. (PG-13; violence, some language, brief suggestive comments) LADY MACBETH (Lionsgate) Trapped in a cold marriage with a colder household and coldest prospects for improvement, a woman finds signs of life — and maybe an escape — in an affair with a worker on her husband's estate. Based not on Shakespeare but a 19th-century Russian novella, with Florence Pugh. (R; some disturbing violence, sexuality, nudity, language) STEP (Fox) Documentary chronicling the senior year of a Baltimore high school girls’ step dance team, struggling to achieve not just in dancing but in life. (PG; thematic elements, some language)  LANDLINE (Broad Green) A Manhattan family puts the fun in dysfunction in Gillian Robespierre's Continue Reading