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Ancient snake engraving dating back 2,000 years is one of the largest examples of rock art in the world





The Orinoco River in South America is home to some of the world’s largest and most mysterious rock art. This includes a snake motif that spans over 40 meters (131 feet), as well as depictions of human figures and giant Amazonian centipedes.

Archaeologists have conducted a recent study where they mapped the 14 sites that make up this collection of engravings. They have determined that these engravings were created with the purpose of indicating the territorial limits of the ancient inhabitants.

It also aimed to issue a caution to individuals entering the region: do not provoke us.

The engravings are situated at elevated positions on the rock surfaces along the Upper and Middle Orinoco Rivers in present-day Venezuela and Colombia. Before this recent research, archaeologists discovered and accurately dated pottery in the region that portrays identical motifs in a comparable manner, suggesting that the rock art might have been created approximately 2,000 years ago.

“These monumental sites are truly grand and awe-inspiring, designed to be observed from a considerable distance,” stated Dr. Philip Riris, the lead author of the study and a Senior Lecturer in Archaeological Environmental Modelling at Bournemouth University, in a statement.


Utilizing the assistance of local guides and employing drone photography, the team successfully charted the precise location of the rock art for the inaugural time. While certain engravings have been previously documented, recent research has uncovered additional engravings that had not yet been officially identified.

According to the researchers, the positioning of the engravings may offer insights into the motivations behind the extensive efforts made by prehistoric cultures to produce them.

“The engravings are primarily located in a specific area of the Orinoco River known as the Atures Rapids, which would have served as a significant trade and travel route in prehistoric times,” stated Dr. José Oliver, a Latin American Archaeology expert at the UCL Institute of Archaeology.

“This implies that it would have been a crucial point of contact, and therefore leaving your mark could have been even more significant – establishing your local identity and informing visitors of your presence,” Oliver clarified.

The snake portrayed in the artwork is most likely a boa constrictor or anaconda, both of which are enormous snakes indigenous to tropical South America and hold significant significance in local folklore and spirituality. Considering the profound cultural significance associated with these formidable predators, it is highly improbable that their selection as the subject of the artwork is a mere coincidence.

It is understood that anacondas and boas hold significance in the beliefs of Indigenous communities in the area, as they are associated with the creator deity. Additionally, these snakes are regarded as dangerous creatures capable of causing harm to both humans and large animals. “The engravings may have served as territorial markers for prehistoric communities, indicating their residence and the expected code of conduct,” stated Riris.

“Snakes are commonly perceived as highly menacing, so the specific location of the rock art might indicate that these are areas where one should be cautious and respectful,” Riris remarked.


Based on the study, the researchers anticipate that the impressive sites will be granted official protection. They believe that this process should actively engage the Indigenous peoples of the Orinoco region.

“As a standard procedure, we have officially recorded these sites with the national heritage organizations of Colombia and Venezuela. However, certain communities residing near these sites have a profound emotional attachment to the rock art,” explains Dr. Natalia Lozada Mendieta from the Universidad de Los Andes.

“In the future, we anticipate that they will be the most capable caretakers.”

The recent research was published in the scholarly journal Antiquity.

As Editor here at GeekReply, I'm a big fan of all things Geeky. Most of my contributions to the site are technology related, but I'm also a big fan of video games. My genres of choice include RPGs, MMOs, Grand Strategy, and Simulation. If I'm not chasing after the latest gear on my MMO of choice, I'm here at GeekReply reporting on the latest in Geek culture.


You can watch and listen to gravitational waves coming from everywhere in the universe





Gravitational waves can be turned into sound very easily. The little chirp changes into little sounds as soon as the blocks hit each other. One of those chirps is my ringtone when my phone has sound, which doesn’t happen very often. The people at Audio Universe have now made the gravitational wave data even better.

In a 3D video, the sounds of gravitational waves hit you from the direction in the sky where it is thought they came from. The sound effects and visualization are both great. There are tiny vibrations in space-time that can hit you as you move your mouse, phone, or VR headset.

Like other sonification projects, it gives blind and visually impaired people a way to get involved in astronomy. It works well with other methods like the Tactile Universe. But that’s not the only reason why they do it.

“We want to do this for three reasons.” It helps researchers look into big, complicated datasets with lots of dimensions. It could be used to make educational materials that are immersive and interesting. Rose Shepherd from Newcastle University says, “It can also make astronomy easier for more people to understand, which is an important thing.” “Making things easier to get makes them better for everyone.”

Being able to listen to the emission lines of celestial objects is one of the most interesting things about sonification for research. As an object moves, its light spectrum peaks spread out, and sonification can make something that is barely noticeable to the eye seem very clear to the ear.

This is helpful in more than one field, though. The group has thought about how adding sound to different datasets could make them better. Warming Stripes is a cool example of this. This is a simple image that shows changes in temperature over time by using a series of stripes, from blue to red. The stripes on the right side get redder as we move from the left to the right. The left side shows decades ago. It is great to see how the climate crisis is getting worse, and now sound adds a little more to it.

“By adding sounds, it can give your data an emotional meaning.” Shepherd explained, “You can use that to show the data how you feel.” “We didn’t mean for the Warming Stripes sonification to make people feel stressed, but it was interesting to see how they reacted instead of just watching the video.”

Audio Universe is making a sonic toolkit that many people can use to make their own resources.

She gave a talk about the audio universe at the National Astronomy Meeting at the University of Hull this week.

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Light is the fastest thing that can “move” across a surface





Einstein’s theory of special relativity says that it is impossible to move faster than light in a vacuum.

Things that don’t have mass have to move at the speed of light. But things that do have mass can’t get close to 299,792,458 meters per second (983,571,056 feet per second) without using up all of their energy. Physicists and sci-fi authors have tried to get around this by using concepts like the warp drive. But it’s likely that these will be illegal because of those pesky physics laws. Traveling faster than light can cause paradoxes that break the rules of the universe.

You are not in a dark room, though, because there is something in this room right now that can slow down or stop light. It is possible for shadows to go faster than light, and they can even smash through it.

You might ask things like, “What the hell are you talking about?” Imagine that you have a flashlight that is strong enough to light up some of the moon. If you quickly move your finger across the front of the flashlight, the shadow it casts can move across the moon’s surface at speeds much faster than light.

If you wave a laser across the night sky, you can get the same kind of effect. Think of a huge dome that is, say, 100 light-years across and surrounds you. When this laser hits that dome 100 years from now, the points will fly across it at speeds much faster than light.

But these two examples are just tricks.

Astrophysicist Michio Kaku told Big Think, “There is no message, no net information, and no physical object that actually moves along this image. There is only the image of the beam as it races across the night sky.”

No, the laser point isn’t really moving. What you’re seeing are photons hitting the dome and then different photons hitting a different part of the dome 100 years later after you moved your laser.










The universe and physics stayed the same because nothing really moved faster than light, and no information was sent.

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Medicine and Health

You might not know much about this small organ, but it’s very important





There is a gland in your neck that is about the length of a paperclip but has a huge effect on your whole body. Its two lobes sit between your tracheas. It’s probably your thyroid, and you haven’t given it much thought until something went wrong with it. Let me tell you about this simple organ, the two hormones it makes, and how they affect the body.

What does the thyroid do?
The thyroid is part of the endocrine system because it is a gland, which is an organ that makes a substance. In this case, it makes hormones.

The thyroid is in the front of the neck, below the larynx. It has two lobes, the left and right, which sit on either side of the trachea, or windpipe. An isthmus connects the two lobes. Most of the time, you can’t see or feel it.

A gland at the base of the brain called the pituitary gland sends signals to the thyroid. The pituitary gland releases thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) throughout the day. This hormone tells the thyroid to make sure it is producing the right amounts of two different hormones to meet the body’s changing needs.

Thyroxine, which is also known as T4, and triiodothyronine, or T3, are hormones that the thyroid makes. Additionally, a small collection of cells in the thyroid produces calcitonin.

What do the hormones in the thyroid do?
While T4 is the main hormone the thyroid makes, it is also the least active. It goes to different parts of the body’s tissues and is mostly changed into T3. Around 80% of T3 is made this way, and the other 20% is released directly into the bloodstream from the thyroid.

T3 and T4 are both important for the body’s metabolism to work right. They also help with digestion, brain development, bone and muscle health, and the heart.

Calcium and phosphate levels in the blood are kept in check by calcitonin. It controls calcium levels in two ways: first, it stops osteoclasts from breaking down bone, which stops extra calcium from being released; second, it stops the kidneys from reabsorbing calcium.

Not sure how important this function is, though, since people with very high or very low calcitonin don’t seem to have any problems.

What takes place when the thyroid doesn’t work right?
Keeping the right balance of T3 and T4 is important for many body systems to work properly. What do you do when things go wrong?

Being hypothyroid
Most of the time, people with hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid) have problems with their organ. People don’t believe it is preventable; the majority of cases are the result of an autoimmune reaction (Hashimoto’s disease) or are a side effect of treating other illnesses. The condition can be passed down from parent to child, but babies born in many countries, including the US and UK, are checked for it soon after they are born.

Because the symptoms show up slowly, sometimes over years, it can be hard to tell what’s wrong. These are the main signs:

  • Fatigue
  • Weight gain
  • Depression
  • Muscle aches
  • Dry skin and hair
  • Increased sensitivity to the cold

Women are more likely than men to have hypothyroidism. If you want to get your levels back to normal, you need to take a synthetic form of the thyroxine hormone. Getting the hormone levels back in balance usually takes away the symptoms, but treatment needs to go on for a long time.

Being hyperthyroid
Hyperthyroidism, or an overactive thyroid, is the opposite of this. Usually, these are the symptoms:

  • ncreased appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Irritability
  • Sweating
  • Shaky hands
  • Frequent bowel movements

Some people who have either an underactive or overactive thyroid also get a goiter, which is when the thyroid swells up and can be seen in the neck. Even though this doesn’t always lead to big problems, it could make it hard to breathe and swallow.

People with hypothyroidism are sometimes given too much synthetic thyroxine, which can lead to hyperthyroidism. It may take a few tries to find the right dose. Some other reasons are having an autoimmune disease called Graves’ disease, having thyroid inflammation, or eating too much iodine.

Radioiodine therapy is a common way to treat hyperthyroidism. To do this, a capsule or liquid with the radioactive isotope iodine-131 must be taken. This destroys only the cells in the thyroid that make thyroxine. This doesn’t hurt other parts of the body, but for most people, it lowers the production of thyroxine so much that they later develop hypothyroidism.

It is better to treat hyperthyroidism this way, even if it goes too far, because hypothyroidism can be treated with man-made hormones and doesn’t cause as many long-term health problems.

Surgery to remove part or all of the thyroid is another option that is sometimes used. This can also lead to hypothyroidism afterward.

Breast cancer
The thyroid gland can get different kinds of cancer. Papillary thyroid cancer is the most common type. People in this age group are most likely to get it. Most papillary thyroid tumors are small, grow very slowly, and are easy to treat.

To get rid of the thyroid, most people need surgery. That will lead to hypothyroidism, which needs to be treated with medicine, as we’ve seen. Radiotherapy or radioactive iodine therapy may also be used, but chemotherapy is usually not needed unless the cancer comes back.

Scientists are still not sure what causes thyroid cancer. Radiation exposure is a major risk factor, which is why more people with this cancer have been found in areas that were close to nuclear accidents like Chernobyl.

Having postpartum thyroiditis
Postpartum thyroiditis is a problem that happens to 5–10% of pregnant women. It happens when the immune system attacks the thyroid soon after giving birth, causing inflammation. People who already have an autoimmune thyroid condition are more likely to get it.

The condition starts with a hyperthyroid phase, in which too much thyroid hormone gets into the bloodstream. It then changes to a hypothyroid phase, which can last for months or even permanently. How you’re treated will depend on how bad your symptoms are and whether your hormone levels return to normal in the end.

In the end,
It takes a full-time job to keep the wide range of hormones that the body makes in perfect balance. It doesn’t matter how small the change is; it can have big effects. Since the thyroid is such a small organ, it plays a big part in that. If you haven’t thought about it before, maybe now you will.

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