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Peru displays pre-Inca shroud returned from Sweden

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The BBC's Arrun Soma: "A very delicate homecoming"

The BBC’s Arrun Soma: “A very delicate homecoming”

An ancient Peruvian funeral shroud dating back to the pre-Inca period has gone on display in Lima after being returned from Sweden.

The Shroud of Gothenburg is described as uniquely complex, with more than 80 hues of blue, green, yellow and red woven into a pattern of 32 frames.

The shroud is one of four ancient Paracas textiles being returned, under an inter-governmental agreement.

They were smuggled out of Peru by a Swedish diplomat 80 years ago.

Researchers believe the images on the shroud functioned as a calendar of farming seasons.

The shroud, which has gone on display at the National Museum of Archaeology, Anthropology and History in Lima, shows condors, frogs, cats, corn, cassava and people.

Another 85 textiles are expected to be returned by 2021.

They were produced by the civilisation that flourished in the Paracas peninsula, in the south-west of modern-day Peru.

Although the shrouds are around 2,000 years old, archaeologists say they are perfectly preserved.

The Paracas funerary bundles “had been lowered into dry, cold and salty desert sand, protected from factors of deterioration such as oxygen and UV light,” says Sweden’s National Museum of World Culture in Gothenburg.

The shroud that has gone on display in Peru is one of 89 textiles being repatriated from Gothenburg

The textiles feature condors, frogs, cats, corn, cassava and humans

Source: BBC News More pictures

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Ratzilla!

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Giant rat: Swedes agog at ‘Ratzilla’ in Stockholm

The appearance of a massive rat in a Stockholm family’s kitchen has made headlines in Sweden, where it is being dubbed “Ratzilla”.

Measuring 40cm (nearly 16in) plus tail, the creature terrified the family in Solna district.

Pest controllers finally killed the intruder using an oversized trap.

Even the family cat had refused to enter the kitchen while the giant rat was in residence, father Erik Korsas told BBC News.

It appears that it reached the kitchen via a ventilation pipe, having gnawed its way through cement and wood.

After devouring food leftovers under the sink, the creature feasted on a “Swedish smorgasbord” of waste in the bin, according to Mr Korsas.

The women of the house – mother Signe and daughters Dana and Erica, 17 and 15 respectively – took fright but his sons, 13-year-old Justus and six-year-old Laurentius, eventually proved themselves as genuine rat-hunters, he said.

It was the boys who investigated after the trap was sprung and the injured animal crawled away. It was they who brought him tools to help establish that it was well and truly dead.

Justus wielded the iPad which captured his father posing with the dead intruder.

‘Mega rat’

The incident occurred three weeks ago and initially, after taking a few souvenir photos, the family thought no more about it.

Source: BBC News Read and see more

‘Beer goggle’ study wins Ig Nobel award

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Drinking alcoholic drinks makes people believe they are more attractive

A team of researchers who found that people think they are more attractive when drinking alcohol, have scooped an Ig Nobel prize for their work

The researchers from France and the US confirmed the “beer goggle effect” also works on oneself.

Ig Nobel awards are a humorous spoof-like version of their more sober cousins, the Nobel prizes.

Winners have 60 seconds to make a speech to avoid being booed off stage by an eight-year-old girl.

Titled “Beauty is in the eye of the beer holder”, the team were awarded one of the 10 awards (listed below) at a packed gala ceremony at Harvard University, US.

Other winners included a patent for trapping and ejecting airplane highjackers and a UK team scooped an Ig for observing that a cow is more likely to stand up the longer it has been lying down.

Penile amputation

The Peace Prize went to the president and state police of Belarus for making public applause illegal and having arrested a one-armed man for the offence. They did not attend the ceremony.

Penile amputations were the focus of the Public Health Prize. A team from Thailand recommended how to manage an epidemic of such amputations, but said their technique was not advised in cases where the penis had been partially eaten by a duck (after amputation).

Ig Nobel Prize The awards are presented by past Nobel laureates

Representing archaeology was a study that observed which bones dissolved when swallowing whole a dead shrew.

Brad Bushman of Ohio State University, US, and one of the five co-authors of the alcohol attractiveness study, said he was honoured that his team’s work had won an Ig.

In the study, people in a bar were asked how funny, original and attractive they found themselves. The higher their blood alcohol level the more attractive they thought they were.

Attractive drunks

The same effect was also found for those who only thought they had been drinking alcohol when in fact it was a non-alcoholic placebo drink.

“People have long observed that drunk people think others are more attractive but ours is the first study to find that drinking makes people think they are more attractive themselves,” Prof Bushman told the BBC.

“If you become drunk and think you are really attractive it might influence your thoughts and behaviour towards others. It illustrates that in human memory, the link between alcohol and attractiveness is pretty strong.”

Judges were also asked to rate how attractive they thought the participants were. The individuals who thought they were more attractive were not necessarily rated thus by judges.

Snoozing cows

“It was just an illusion in their mind. Although people may think they become more attractive when they become intoxicated, other [sober] people don’t think that,” added Prof Bushman.

Prize winners tend to see the Ig Nobels as a considerable honour and indeed seven of the 10 winners (one winner died in 2006) attended the ceremony in Cambridge, US, to accept the prizes at their own expense.

Cows lying down One study looked at the time between cows standing up and sitting down

Although a light-hearted event, the awards are handed out for work that is for the most part serious research. Prof Bushman said that his study significantly contributed to the existing literature.

And the study about cows standing up or lying down was important to be able to detect health problems early on, say its authors.

“We were surprised by the prize. We thought we did a decent piece of work and did not realise it made other people laugh,” lead author Bert Tolkamp from Scotland’s Rural College, UK, told BBC News. But he added that anything that promoted interest in science was very welcome.

The full list of 2013 Ig Nobel winners:

Medicine Prize: Masateru Uchiyama, Gi Zhang, Toshihito Hirai, Atsushi Amano, Hisashi Hashuda (Japan), Xiangyuan Jin (China/Japan) and Masanori Niimi (Japan/UK) for assessing the effect of listening to opera on mice heart transplant patients.

Psychology Prize: Laurent Bègue, Oulmann Zerhouni, Baptiste Subra, and Medhi Ourabah, (France), Brad Bushman (USA/UK/, the Netherlands/Poland) for confirming that people who think they are drunk also think they are more attractive.

Joint Prize in Biology and Astronomy: Marie Dacke (Sweden/Australia), Emily Baird, Eric Warrant (Sweden/Australia/Germany], Marcus Byrne (South Africa/UK) and Clarke Scholtz (South Africa), for discovering that when dung beetles get lost, they can navigate their way home by looking at the milky way.

Safety Engineering Prize: The late Gustano Pizzo (US), for inventing an electro-mechanical system to trap airplane hijackers. The system drops a hijacker through trap doors, seals him into a package, then drops the hijacker through the airplane’s specially-installed bomb bay doors through which he is parachuted to the ground where police, having been alerted by radio, await his arrival.

Physics Prize: Alberto Minetti (Italy/UK/Denmark/Switzerland), Yuri Ivanenko (Italy/Russia/France), Germana Cappellini, Francesco lacquaniti (Italy) and Nadia Dominici (Italy/Switzerland), for discovering that some people would be physically capable of running across the surface of a pond – if those people and that pond were on the Moon.

Chemistry Prize: Shinsuke Imai, Nobuaki Tsuge, Muneaki Tomotake, Yoshiaki Nagatome, Hidehiko Kumgai (Japan) and Toshiyuki Nagata (Japan/Germany), for discovering that the biochemical process by which onions make people cry is even more complicated than scientists previously realised.

Archaeology Prize: Brian Crandall (US) and Peter Stahl (Canada/US), for observing how the bones of a swallowed dead shrew dissolves inside the human digestive system

Peace Prize: Alexander Lukashenko, president of Belarus, for making it illegal to applaud in public, and to the Belarus State Police, for arresting a one-armed man for applauding.

Probability Prize: Bert Tolkamp (UK/the Netherlands), Marie Haskell, Fritha Langford. David Roberts, and Colin Morgan (UK), for making two related discoveries: First, that the longer a cow has been lying down, the more likely that cow will soon stand up; and second, that once a cow stands up, you cannot easily predict how soon that cow will lie down again.

Public Health Prize: Kasian Bhanganada, Tu Chayavatana, Chumporn Pongnumkul, Anunt Tonmukayakul, Piyasakol Sakolsatayadorn, Krit Komaratal, and Henry Wilde (Thailand), for the medical techniques of penile re-attachment after amputations (often by jealous wives). Techniques which they recommend, except in cases where the amputated penis had been partially eaten by a duck.

Snow Babies

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The babies who nap in sub-zero temperatures

Would you put your baby or toddler outside in the freezing cold for their lunchtime nap? Most Nordic parents wouldn’t give it a second thought. For them it’s part of their daily routine.

Daytime temperatures this winter in Stockholm have regularly dropped to -5C (23F) but it’s still common to see children left outside by their parents for a sleep in the pram.

Wander through the snowy city and you’ll see buggies lined up outside coffee shops while parents sip on lattes inside.

And if you are visiting friends and your child needs a nap, you may be offered the garden or balcony instead of a bedroom.

“I think it’s good for them to be in the fresh air as soon as possible,” says Lisa Mardon, a mother-of-three from Stockholm, who works for a food distribution company.

“Especially in the winter when there’s lots of diseases going around… the kids seem healthier.”

Her children have been sleeping outside since they were born.

The youngest, Alfred, is two and she puts him outside in the pram to nap once a day, for an hour and a half. When he was younger he slept outside twice a day.

This isn’t a recent fashion. Lisa’s mother, Gunilla, now 61, says she also did it with Lisa when she was a baby.

“Yes we were doing it back then as well… It was important for her to get fresh air and stay healthy,” Gunilla says.

And Lisa’s father, Peter, was put outside by his mother to sleep in a pram in the 1950s. Only when it got to around -10C (14F) did she bring him indoors.

Nowadays most day-care centres in Sweden put children outside to rest. It’s common to see rows of prams lined up in the snow at nap-time, with youngsters fast asleep inside.

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UFO Lying On The Bottom Of The Baltic Sea?

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by Lee Rannals
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“A Swedish expedition team has found an unidentified object at the bottom of the Baltic Sea, leaving some to believe it’s the remnants of an extra-terrestrial ship. Scientists went off on a deep-water dive to debunk some theories about the underwater object, but were left with more questions than they had answers. At an unrevealed location some 250 feet below the brackish waters between Sweden and Finland, the deep-sea salvage company Ocean Explorer has discovered a large, bizarrely shaped object on the seabed. “I have been doing this for nearly 20 years, so I have a seen a few objects on the bottom, but nothing like this,” the crew’s team leader Peter Lindberg told Brooke Bowman of CNN. “We had been out for nine days and we were quite tired and we were on our way home, but we made a final run with a sonar fish and suddenly this thing turned up.”At first glance, said Lindberg, the team joked that they had found a UFO. However, upon closer inspection using a device known as a side-scan sonar, the joke no longer seemed quite so far-fetched. What they found appears to be a disc-shaped object roughly 180-feet in diameter with a rigid tail that extends another 1,200 or so feet.
And what’s more, when the team turned back to make another pass and get a closer look, they found another similarly shaped object some 600 feet away. Lindberg’s crew says that the object is too large to be part of a shipwreck and admits that they’re utterly stumped as to what the mysterious object could be. The divers found that the object was raised about 10 to 13 feet above the seabed, and curved in at the sides.The object had an egg shaped hole leading into it from the top, working like an opening. On top of the object, they found strange stone circle formations, which resembled small fireplaces. The stones were covered in something that resembled “soot.” “First we thought this was only stone, but this is something else,” Ocean X team diver Peter Lindberg said in a press release. Farther back from the object, the Ocean X team said that they could see a “runway” or a downhill path that is flattened at the seabed with the object at the end of it.
Lindberg said the odd thing about the discovery is that there is no silt on the rock, which is an ordinary thing to find when lying at the bottom of the sea. He also told Fox News that the object is “disc-shaped” and “appears to have construction lines and boxes drawn on it.” Not surprisingly, this has led to wild speculation and a number of theories that border on the absurd. “We’ve heard lots of different kinds of explanations, from George Lucas’s spaceship—the Millennium Falcon—to ‘it’s some kind of plug to the inner world,’ like it should be hell down there or something,” Lindberg told CNN and the Daily Mail Online.The outline of the ship on pictures resembles the famous Star Wars ship the “Millennium Falcon.”
“During my 20-year diving career, including 6000 dives, I have never seen anything like this. Normally stones don’t burn. I can’t explain what we saw, and I went down there to answer questions, but I came up with even more questions,” Stefan Hogeborn, one of the divers at Ocean X Team, said in the press release. “As laymen we can only speculate how this is made by nature, but this is the strangest thing I have ever experienced as a professional diver“, continues Peter Lindberg, one of the founder Ocean X Team.Scientists are currently examining samples from the circle-shaped object, and experts in sonar imaging are processing data from the “ship” to help shed more light on what exactly this underwater object is. Lindberg told the news agency that the Americans and Japanese “are much more excited” about the discovery than the local Swedish people.”

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