Hidden Ancient Settlements Found in the Bolivian Amazon

There have always been tales of vast wealthy cities hidden in the Amazon rainforest. Explorers have died trying to find these cities, and the gold they supposedly contained. Conventional wisdom among archeologists was that the soil was too poor for agriculture, which was crucial for supporting large cities. Besides, they hadn't found any. It turns out that when a large civilization is wiped out or moves away, a rainforest will hide what they left. Trees and other vegetation sprout up, animals and floods leave their mark, and before you know it, all that's left are rumors. Oh, these places are still there, you just can't get to them.

Lately, concrete evidence of advanced societies in the Amazon has come to light. Deforestation uncovered some clues. Now a remote-sensing laser system called lidar has detected 26 urban centers hidden by the forest in southeast Bolivia. Two of them each cover an area three time the size of Vatican City! These cities contain pyramids, walls, elevated roadways, terraces, and buildings. The largest site, called Cotoca, belonged to the Casarabe culture, which flourished between 500 CE and 1400 CE. Their disappearance predates European invasion, and scientists don't know what happened to them. Read about the new discoveries at Nature.    

Uterus-Shaped Cereal Is Part of This Healthy Menstrual-Themed Breakfast

It's called "Period Crunch."

Intima, a company that makes menstrual products, such as environmentally-friendly period cups and Kegel muscle training devices, would like to normalize conversations about periods. Yahoo! News reports that the company has launched a cereal with little bits shaped like a human uterus. The cereal is, appropriately, raspberry flavored and stains milk red.

Period Crunch comes in boxes with diagrams of the female reproductive tract and conversations starters about menstruation. Intima argues that cultural forces prevent many women from talking comfortably about periods. Chatting about menstruation over breakfast could be a way to overcome these inhibitions.

Photo: Intima

A First Look at Andor

Several years ago, we were teased with the idea of Diego Luna returning to the Star Wars universe in his role as Cassian Andor, one of the heroes of Rogue One. Finally we see that it's a sure thing, as the TV series Andor is scheduled to land on Disney+ on August 31. It's a prequel to Rogue One, not only an origin story for Andor, but also about the formation of the Rebellion, when everyday people could no longer take the abuses of the Empire and decided to stand up for their rights. Luna not only stars in the series, he is the executive producer. We will also see a young Mon Mothma, played by Genevieve O'Reilly, and Forest Whitaker will appear as his Rogue One character Saw Gerrera. The cast also includes Stellan Skarsgård, Adria Arjona, Fiona Shaw, Denise Gough, and Kyle Soller. First announced as a 12-episode series, Andor has since been expanded to two seasons, and possibly more. Let's hope so, because this two-minute teaser is intriguing.    

Sharkcano: An Erupting Volcano Full of Sharks

An active volcano with sharks inside seems like the premise for a SyFy movie, doesn't It? And we've made fun of such movies many times. But this story is real, and NASA and marine biologists have evidence. The Kavachi Volcano is an active, completely underwater volcano near the Solomon Islands in the Pacific Ocean. By "active," we mean it erupts quite often since its discovery in 1939. Large eruptions occurred in 2000, 2007, and 2014, with smaller eruptions in between. If it's on a seven-year schedule, there's no surprise in Kavachi erupting on May 14, 2022. NASA's Landsat 9 satellite captured images of the underwater plume

Meanwhile, life has been thriving inside Kavachi's volcanic crater. Sulphur-loving microbes that seek hot water have been observed, and sharks, too! Both hammerhead sharks and silky sharks have been seen living in the crater since 2015, and there are pictures. When bait was lowered into the crater, sharks swam up from the depths of the active crater to retrieve it. Don't they know it's supposed to be too hot and acidic for them to live in? What the sharks know is that there are other tasty species of fish also living in the crater.

Unfortunately, we have no reports actually showing the sharks being ejected from the volcano during the latest eruption, or whether they survived. The SYFY version will probably show it in detail.  

By the way, there is already a movie called Sharkcano, but since it was a National Geographic documentary shown on Disney+, it wasn't all that heavily promoted. We can assume there were no sharks shown ejecting from an exploding mountain.

The Rough Afterlife of Five Star Wars Filming Locations

The many Star Wars films introduced us to strange new worlds, with names like Yavin, Tatooine, Endor, and Ahch-To. These are all inspired by, and filmed in, beautiful and exotic earthbound locations (Bespin being a notable exception). After all, they are just movies. But time marches on, and the film shot at those locations is up to 45 years old now. What are those places like now? Unfortunately, some have had a pretty dismal time coping with the fame brought by an appearance in Star Wars, with fans traveling there as if they were on a pilgrimage. But that's not the only problem.

Ahch-To is suffering from too many tourists, partially because of its Star Wars fame. Mustafar, being geologically active, is in danger of sliding into the sea. Tatooine has seen some terrorists move in. Yavin was damaged by partiers. And the forest moon of Endor is no more, a victim of industry. Read where all these places are and what's happened to them since their Star Wars appearances, at Cracked.

The Magical Cut -and How to Heal It

The guy from The Action Lab (previously at Neatorama) cuts his hand with a plastic butter knife and manages to draw blood. Or does he? This is the magic of chemicals. He's got different chemicals on each side of the knife, and they combine when he presses it against his hand. The combination of ferrochloride and potassium thiocyanite makes the blood, and then the addition of sodium fluoride makes it all turn transparent again. You might think this is genius way to do fake blood for a movie scene, but honestly, the cost of the chemicals is probably much more than what you'd pay for professional fake blood packets. But hey, it might be worth it to impress your kids someday. -via reddit

Unveiling New Names for US Military Bases

One peculiarity of the US Army is the naming of military bases after generals who actually fought against the United States. But that is coming to an end. A commission, called the Naming Commission, was tasked with coming up with new names for nine posts: Fort Benning, Fort Gordon, Fort Bragg, Fort Hood, Fort Rucker, Fort Polk, Fort A.P. Hill, Fort Pickett, and Fort Lee. The commission is made up of eight retired officers and historians. The new names are taken from war heroes and barrier breakers, except for Fort Bragg, which will be renamed Fort Liberty. The new names are:

Fort Moore, after Lt. Gen. Hal Moore and his wife, Julia Moore. Hal Moore co-wrote the book We Were Soldiers Once, and Young, about his experiences in Vietnam. Julia Moore helped create a casualty notification team.

Fort Walker, after Mary Edwards Walker, Civil War surgeon and spy and the only woman to receive the Medal of Honor.

Fort Cavazos, after Gen. Richard Cavazos, the Army’s first Hispanic four-star general. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross in Both Korea and Vietnam.

Fort Gregg-Adams will be named for Lt. Gen. Arthur Gregg and Lt. Col. Charity Adams, who both rose through the ranks to become military supervisors during World War II, despite the segregation of the military at the time.

Fort Barfoot, after Tech. Sgt. Van Barfoot, Medal of Honor recipient for his actions in World War II.  

Fort Johnson, after Sgt. William Henry Johnson, a member of the Harlem Hellfighters in World War I. His heroic actions were recognized by the French, but he was not honored by the US until long after his death. Johnson received the Medal of Honor posthumously in 2015.

Fort Novosel, for pilot Michael Novosel, Medal of Honor recipient for his actions in the Vietnam War with the US Army, after serving in World War II and Korea with the Air Force.  

Fort Eisenhower, after Dwight D. Eisenhower, who led Allied forces in World War II and served as president of the United States.

Read more about each of these namesakes at Task and Purpose. Then you'll want to go to Wikipedia and read even more about them. -via Metafilter

War is Older Than Written History

Humans were busy killing each other many thousands of years ago, before they had the ability to leave written records about it. How do we know this? Archaeologists have uncovered evidence of warfare all over the world. It's all in how you read the clues. For example, a burial ground in the Nile Valley in Sudan dating back 13,500 years shows that burials were spread out over time, but of 61 bodies examined, 45% show evidence of violence by other humans. This indicates an ongoing struggle, possibly for dwindling resources. In Germany, several hundred were left unburied in one spot around 1200 BCE. Isotope analysis shows that many of them had traveled from elsewhere to do battle. In Australia’s Northern Territory, 10,000-year-old cave paintings depict people fighting each other. In Syria, actual weapons were found, clay pellets shot from slings that could pierce walls, dated to 3500 BCE. Read a roundup of ten prehistoric battle sites from all over the world, and what they tell us about ancient warfare at Mental Floss.

(Image credit: Flickr user Jon Connell)

Carlo Collodi and the Original Pinocchio

Americans know Pinocchio, the wooden boy, mainly as a cute character in a Disney movie. Students in college literature classes are surprised to learn how rich and complex the original version is, and how very Italian it is. Carlo Collodi first wrote Pinocchio as a series of magazine stories beginning in 1881. In his version, the tale begins with a block of wood that talks, and becomes a puppet in the hands of a poor woodcarver who dreams of making some money with a carved puppet that talks. Pinocchio himself is less of a cute, naive kid and more of a brat who gets into trouble constantly.

Collodi imbued his story with plenty of political satire, poking fun at the rich and powerful and warning the common folks of their evil intentions. The author spent his younger years fighting to unite Italy into a single nation, and his later years promoting education for the masses amid a push for literacy in the country. Pinocchio suffers massively for his contrary ways- he was burned, hanged, thrown into the ocean, and jailed during the series. Once he was actually killed, but was brought back by magic due to popular demand. Eventually Pinocchio learns to buckle down and become a good student, but he also learned some street smarts along the way.

Smithsonian takes us to the village of Collodi, which Carlo Lorenzini used as his pen name, to see the influences the environment had on the birth of Pinocchio, and what the delinquent puppet means to the village today.

An Honest Trailer for Morbius

The Sony film Morbius, based on the Marvel comic book, had such an intriguing premise, but the execution was dismal. A scientist/doctor conducts experiments, hoping to cure his own blood disease and in the process turns himself into a reluctant vampire. How could that go wrong? According to Screen Junkies, the movie is a confusing mess because they cut so much out of it that would have explained what we are watching. What's left are action scenes highlighting special effects that aren't all that good. While the film opened well and made a profit, the audience dropped steeply after its first weekend. The critics lauded Jared Leto's performance in the title role, but conceded that the plot was a confusing mess. Morbius has a score of 17% on Rotten Tomatoes. It's a pity, because that story could have made a deeply thoughtful film in the right hands.   

Cat Attempts Time Travel

What's going on here? The cat is pawing at the clock, which seems innocent enough. But his human, Japanese Twitter user @MikasaLove611, insists his intentions are nefarious.

The cat has learned that the human does not present food until it is 9 o'clock. The clock must have a particular appearance for the human to provide food.

Post hoc ergo propter hoc. By altering the appearance of the clock, the cat can move forward to 9 o'clock, or at least convince the human that it is now feeding time.

Time Cat could use his powers to be a superhero. But Time Cat is a cat and is thus unconcerned with the affairs of humans who are not directly involved with feeding him.

-via Super Punch

The Camera Case Bikini

Artist Nicole McLaughlin jokingly suggests that you "take a picture it'll last longer." She's famous for repurposing old objects as articles of clothing, leading to unusual combinations, such as the tennis ball hat, the croissant bra, a volleyball purse, and the Oreo slipper.

Her latest creation gets us ready for the summer heat with a bikini made from Canon camera cases. The straps provide all of the elastic flexibility that you need if you haven't gotten beach body ready yet. The built-in pockets are no doubt helpful, as one still needs to carry sunscreen, keys, and money while on the beach.

The Last Public Payphones in New York City Are Gone

They're icons of a great era in the history of New York City and a staple of film scenes from the Big Apple. And now they're gone. The city government began removing payphones in 2014 and replacing them with kiosks that offer Wi-Fi and mobile device charging. There are now 2,000 such kiosks across the city.

That conversion project is in its final phase. CNBC reports that the final payphone kiosk at the corner of Seventh Avenue and Fiftieth Street in midtown Manhattan has been removed. It will be placed on display at the Museum of the City of New York as part of an exhibit on life in that city before the computer age.

Pants-Mounted Pet Carrier

Let's say that you need to transport your pet somewhere, such as the veterinarian's office or the local public library. You would like to keep both of your hands free to, say, open doors or fight off the undead. You could wear a pet carrier backpack, but those look dorky. A far more distinguished look is this pet carrier made by Ari Serrano who creates streetwear for modern needs.

If you don't have a pet and therefore no justification for wearing these stylish pants/pet carrier, then consider trying his fan hat, his halo hat, his chalkboard pants, or his Operation game bubble jacket.

-via Ugly Design

Octopus: The Alien Intelligence Among Us

It takes a certain amount of hubris to believe that intelligent alien life forms would be anything like humans. That unconscious assumption makes it easier for Hollywood, but is actually quite limiting. Intelligence can evolve in ways we cannot even imagine, but we should try to. We have an example right here on earth, although separated from us by the environment of the ocean. We know an octopus is intelligent, but its neurological system is very different from all the land animals we are familiar with. They have more neurons in their arms and suckers than in their brains. Those neurons process sensation and communicate and coordinate all along the system. “It’s not about how intelligent they are, it’s about how they are intelligent.”

Now imagine this video from Lizbeth's perspective. She was abducted by an alien species, taken to a lab, studied, scanned, and experimented on, and then brought back home unharmed. Do you think any of her friends are going to believe that tale? -via Digg

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