Thursday, October 29, 2020

Witch's Hat or Priest's Hat?


Alice C. Linsley

Halloween may bring a few witches and wizards to your door and provide an opportunity to explain that the pointy hat originated among Hittite priests and kings. The children won't be that interested, but their parents might be!

The oldest known pointy hats were worn by ancient Hittite rulers and priests (1600-1180 BC). Today pointed black hats are associated with witches and wizards, but that is due mainly to popular movies. 

Below is a 3400-year gold pendant with a pointed hat found at Hattusa, the capital of the Hittite empire in ancient Anatolia (in modern Turkey).

This stone relief from Hattusa shows the Hittite King Suppiluliuma II who reigned from 1207-1178 BC). He wears a pointed crown.

This is a Hittite ruler-priest. The artifact dates to about 1600 BC. Note the ram horns on the hat, a symbol of divine appointment.

This stone relief was found at Yazilikaya, a Hittite shrine in modern Turkey in Chamber B. It shows King Tudhaliya IV wearing a pointed crown. It dates to between 1250 and 1220 BC.

This is a reproduction of reliefs that appear at Yazilikaya. The queen wears the solar crown (similar to that worn by Hathor, shown below).

Here again the king is seen wearing a pointed hat with horns. The ram's horns were sacred to the Hittites (People of Heth). Today the ram's horn, called shofar, is still blown as a horn at special ceremonies in Israel. God provided a ram for Abraham to sacrifice in place of his son. Abraham learned an important lesson there on Mount Moriah.

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Asian Hornets Kill Honeybees

The Pacific Northwest of the United States has seen an increase in the number of “murder hornets” or Asian giant hornets (Vespa mandarinia). This hornet is a threat to honeybees and is potentially dangerous to humans.

A party of several dozen Asian giant hornets can kill a whole bee hive and can kill thousands of bees in just a few hours.

This species feed their young the bodies of bees. They can sting over and over, in contrast to honeybees that die after its single-use stinger rips out of its body.

Another difference: Honeybees collect plant pollen as protein whereas the giant hornets slaughter the adult bees, then carry back the brood as food for their larvae.

Watch for the Latin terms vespa (hornet) and apis (bee). These terms distinguish between hornets and bees.

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Andrea Ghez Nobel Prize Winner


UCLA astrophysics professor Andrea Ghez is honored for her pioneering research on the Milky Way’s supermassive black hole.

Ghez shares half of the prize with Reinhard Genzel of UC Berkeley and the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics. The Nobel committee praised them for “the discovery of a supermassive compact object at the centre of our galaxy.” The other half of the prize was awarded to Roger Penrose of the University of Oxford “for the discovery that black hole formation is a robust prediction of the general theory of relativity.”

In July 2019, the journal Science published a study by Ghez and her research group that is the most comprehensive test of Albert Einstein’s iconic general theory of relativity near the monstrous black hole at the center of our galaxy. Although she concluded that “Einstein’s right, at least for now,” the research group is continuing to test Einstein’s theory, which she says cannot fully explain gravity inside a black hole.

Ghez studies more than 3,000 stars that orbit the supermassive black hole. Black holes have such high density that nothing can escape their gravitational pull, not even light. The center of the vast majority of galaxies appears to have a supermassive black hole, she said.

“I’m thrilled and incredibly honored to receive a Nobel Prize in physics,” said Ghez, who is director of the UCLA Galactic Center Group. “The research the Nobel committee is honoring today is the product of a wonderful collaboration among the scientists in the UCLA Galactic Center Orbits Initiative and the University of California’s wise investment in the W.M. Keck Observatory.

“We have cutting-edge tools and a world-class research team, and that combination makes discovery tremendous fun. Our understanding of how the universe works is still so incomplete. The Nobel Prize is fabulous, but we still have a lot to learn.”

Monday, October 5, 2020

Spinach Power!


"Eat your spinach," is a common refrain from many people's childhoods. Spinach, the hearty, green vegetable chock full of nutrients, doesn't just provide energy in humans. It also has potential to help power fuel cells, according to a new paper by researchers in AU's Department of Chemistry. Spinach, when converted from its leafy, edible form into carbon nanosheets, acts as a catalyst for an oxygen reduction reaction in fuel cells and metal-air batteries.

An oxygen reduction reaction is one of two reactions in fuel cells and metal-air batteries and is usually the slower one that limits the energy output of these devices. Researchers have long known that certain carbon materials can catalyze the reaction. But those carbon-based catalysts don't always perform as good or better than the traditional platinum-based catalysts. The AU researchers wanted to find an inexpensive and less toxic preparation method for an efficient catalyst by using readily available natural resources. They tackled this challenge by using spinach.

Read it all here.