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August 2, 2020

Discovery of earliest known tool for making rope

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From the Guardian:

Forty thousand years ago, a stone-age toolmaker carved a curious instrument from mammoth tusk (above).

Twenty centimetres long, the ivory strip has four holes drilled in it, each lined with precisely cut spiral incisions.

The purpose of this strange device was unclear when it was discovered in Hohle Fels cave in south-western Germany several years ago.

It could have been part of a musical instrument or a religious object, it was suggested.

But now scientists have concluded that it is the earliest known instrument for making rope.

And its impact would have been revolutionary.

Our stone-age ancestors would have been able to feed plant fibres through the instrument's four holes and by twisting them create strong ropes and twines.

The grooves round the holes would have helped keep the plant fibres in place.

The resulting ropes could then have been used to make fishing nets, snares and traps, bows and arrows, clothing, and containers for carrying food.

Heavy objects, such as sleds, could now be hauled on ropes while spear points could be lashed to poles.

A technological milestone had been reached in our development.

And now British scientists believe similar devices — found in Gough's Cave in Cheddar Gorge, Somerset — show that ropes were also being manufactured and used in Britain as the last ice age came to an end.

Made of reindeer antler, these devices also feature holes with spiral incisions and appear to have been used to manipulate ropes, for purposes that are still unclear.

The roots of British engineering are ancient, it would seem.

"A lot of attention has been given to the importance of our abilities to make specialised stone tools and to use fire as being key elements of the prehistoric success of Homo sapiens," said professor Chris Stringer of the Natural History Museum in London, who has studied the Gough Cave instruments.

"But in many ways, the ability to make string and rope out of animal tissue and plant fibres was every bit as revolutionary in its impact at the time. It opened up all sorts of new avenues for exploiting the natural world, from the weaving of baskets to the construction of bows and arrows."

The use of ropes to make fire bows or fire drills — used to generate friction in order to start fires — would also have become possible, while twine could be used to lash together tents and sleds, added Stringer. "These sleds could have been hauled by humans or dogs, which humans were then domesticating from the descendants of wolves," he added.

The Cheddar Gorge devices are thought to be about 15,000 years old, younger than the instruments found at Hohle Fels cave.

However, their existence — in one of the most northwesterly outposts in Europe to have been inhabited by Homo sapiens in the early Stone Age — indicates rope making had already become a vitally important human activity.

"Mysterious objects made of reindeer antler and drilled with grooved holes had been found in Gough's cave which, we now know, was used by prehistoric people," said Stringer. "These devices were called batons and were originally thought to have been carried by chiefs as badges of rank. However, they had holes with spirals round them and we now realise they must have been used to make or manipulate ropes."

Similar devices have been found at many other sites once occupied by ancient humans in Europe, suggesting making and using rope had become widespread in the Upper Palaeolithic or late old Stone Age.

The initial discovery was made by a team led by Nicholas Conard, director of the institute of archaeological sciences at Tübingen University.

His excavations at Hohle Fels cave began in 2008 and have revealed finds that led to the site being given Unesco World Cultural Heritage status.

One of the earliest musical instruments — a 35,000-year-old flute made of bone — was uncovered there, as was the earliest known undisputed example of figurative art, a small female figure, made of mammoth ivory and possibly worn as an amulet, which is known as the Venus of Hohle Fels cave.

These were created by some of the first members of Homo sapiens to reach Europe after our species left Africa about 60,000 years ago.

The complexity of their artwork reveals how sophisticated our ancestors had become.

However, the discovery of the four-holed ivory tool at Hohle Fels was more puzzling until Veerle Rots, of the University of Liege in Belgium, an expert on palaeolithic materials, fed raw plant fibres through the holes in a bronze replica of the ivory instrument and was able to create four separate twisted strands that could be combined to form rope.

"This tool answers the question of how rope was made in the Palaeolithic, a question that has puzzled scientists for decades," said Rots.

August 2, 2020 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Blouses — Kaori Tatebayashi





2011 2

Interview with the sculptor here.

August 2, 2020 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

My Top 10 Songs

Yesterday I was sitting here doing something close to nothing (but different from the day before) when it occurred to me that I could take a few moments to go through my Apple Music song list and clean it up a bit, what with songs I don't like any more occasionally coming on.

A few moments became a few hours as I whittled my playlist of 723 songs down to 294, after getting rid of stuff I didn't like and lots of duplicate titles.

Then I decided to go through the list again to correct the titles and spellings of songs and artists.

That took a couple more hours.

But now I've got a lean, mean music machine that serves up nothing but wonderful music.

Fiddling around with the various settings and all, I saw that I could rank songs by Play Count.

So, without further ado, here are my top 10 songs, as measured by how many times I've played them:

1. Sharp Dressed Man — ZZ Top

2. Gloria — Laura Branigan 

3. Little Red Corvette — Prince

4. Zombie — Cranberries

5. Jump —Van Halen

6. Raspberry Beret — Prince

7. Eye of the Tiger — Survivor

8. Smoke on the Water — Deep Purple

9. Hey Hey, Goodbye — Steam

10. Magic Carpet Ride — Steppenwolf

August 2, 2020 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (3)

BehindTheMedspeak: "What should you do if you come across an unconscious person?"


That was the question posed in a "Health Mailbox" feature in the Wall Street Journal, answered below.

Q: What should you do if you come across an unconscious person, as in the case of actor Heath Ledger?

A: Emergency physicians say the first step is to verify that the person really is unconscious. Shout, shake her, or dig your knuckles into her collarbone. That may revive her.

If it doesn't, call 911. Then check to see if the person is breathing. It may be shallow so put your ear to her face to feel for any movement of air. Also watch to see if her chest is rising. If you don't detect breathing, tilt her chin back, open her mouth, and clear out anything that may be blocking her airway. Then check again for breath. Also check for a pulse; the easiest place is under the jawline on either side of the windpipe.

If the unconscious person is breathing and has a pulse, you don't need to do anything else. Just stay by her side until assistance comes.

If there's no breath or pulse, the 911 dispatchers may ask you to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

The new CPR eliminates so-called "rescue breathing" and focuses on chest compressions.

Make it hard and deep (try for 2" of up-and-down movement with each compression) and fast — 100 times a minute without interruption.

Don't worry about sharp cracking sounds — those are ribs breaking and it means you're doing it correctly.

It's completely acceptable collateral damage and happens all the time in Code Blues in hospitals.

Keep on with the chest compressions.

CPR performed properly can get very tiring even for experts: I find five minutes of chest compressions is the max I can do before I start to noticeably slack off in terms of power and frequency.

If there's someone else around, draft them to help while you rest.

More on the new CPR here.

CPR training?

You just had it.

One more thing: if there's another person in the vicinity, don't forget to have them raise the unconscious person's legs.

August 2, 2020 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Baby Yoda Echo Dot Stand

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From the Verge:

There are plenty of things I could tell you about Otterbox's new stand for the third-generation Amazon Echo Dot smart speaker.

I could tell you about its "durable materials" or how it's designed to "securely" hold on to your Echo device.

The Amazon listing even claims its "precision-fit, non-slip base" is "engineered for optimal audio output."

But you and I both know that none of that really matters, because what's really important here is that this base adds little tiny Emmy-nominated Baby Yoda ears to the sides of your Echo Dot.

If you want to pretend that you're actually speaking to The Mandalorian character every time you ask Alexa to set a timer, then this is (probably) the easiest way to do it.

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$24.95 (The Force is included with orders from the southern suburbs of Atlanta; the Echo Dot is not).

August 2, 2020 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

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