Violence in pre-Columbian Panama exaggerated, new study shows

Buried alive. Butchered. Decapitated. Hacked. Mutilated. Killed. Archaeologist Samuel K. Lothrop did not obfuscate when describing what he thought had happened to the 220 bodies his expedition excavated from Panama’s Playa Venado site in 1951. The only problem is that Lothrop likely got it wrong. A new evaluation of the site’s remains by Smithsonian archaeologists …

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Who believes in conspiracies? New research offers a theory

Conspiracy theories have been cooked up throughout history, but they are increasingly visible lately, likely due in part to the president of the United States routinely embracing or creating them. Given that any particular conspiracy theory is unlikely to be the subject of mainstream consensus, what draws people to them? New research by Josh Hart, …

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Hyper Suprime-Cam survey maps dark matter in the universe

Today, an international group of researchers, including Carnegie Mellon University’s Rachel Mandelbaum, released the deepest wide field map of the three-dimensional distribution of matter in the universe ever made and increased the precision of constraints for dark energy with the Hyper Suprime-Cam survey (HSC). The present-day universe is a pretty lumpy place. As the universe …

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Powerful jet discovered coming from ‘wrong’ kind of star

Astronomers using the National Science Foundation’s Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA) have discovered a fast-moving jet of material propelled outward from a type of neutron star previously thought incapable of launching such a jet. The discovery, the scientists said, requires them to fundamentally revise their ideas about how such jets originate. Neutron stars …

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The notorious luminous blue variable star

Sparkling with an exceptional blue-toned brilliance and exhibiting wild variations in both brightness and spectrum, the luminous blue variable (LBV) is a relatively rare and still somewhat mysterious type of star. Its appearance tends to fluctuate radically over time, and that has piqued the curiosity of astrophysicists who wonder what processes may be at play. …

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How a tiny Curiosity motor identified a massive Martian dust storm

There is no shortage of eyeballs, human and robotic, pointed at Mars. Scientists are constantly exploring the Red Planet from telescopes on Earth, plus the six spacecraft circling the planet from its orbit, and two roving its surface. So when dust filled the atmosphere during the recent planet-wide dust storm, observations were plentiful. NASA’s Mars …

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