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Old 02-16-2013, 03:56 AM   #1
Le Saboteur
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The New Age of Exploration

This is technically biological anthropology, but since it belongs under the same department as archeology, this is as good place as any.

To commemorate their 125th Anniversary, National Geographic is conducting a year-long inquiry into exploration. Through a series of articles and explorer profiles, they hope to shed some light on why some people have a damnable need to see what's over the next hill.

The exploration hub can be found here. Don't forget some of the other articles that highlight how technology is aiding modern explorers.



The Breaker of Rocks as himself.

Quote:
Originally Posted by National Geographic
If an urge to explore rises in us innately, perhaps its foundation lies within our genome. In fact there is a mutation that pops up frequently in such discussions: a variant of a gene called DRD4, which helps control dopamine, a chemical brain messenger important in learning and reward. Researchers have repeatedly tied the variant, known as DRD4-7R and carried by roughly 20 percent of all humans, to curiosity and restlessness. Dozens of human studies have found that 7R makes people more likely to take risks; explore new places, ideas, foods, relationships, drugs, or sexual opportunities; and generally embrace movement, change, and adventure. Studies in animals simulating 7R’s actions suggest it increases their taste for both movement and novelty. (Not incidentally, it is also closely associated with ADHD.)

Full article: Restless Genes

Companion piece: Risk Takers
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Old 02-16-2013, 05:53 AM   #2
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I might say that the companion image isn't exactly helping what comes to culling racial stereotypes. I mean, look at that savage! He doesn't even know how to wield a white man's weapon properly, but still holds it like a club. Even when he's got a proper example standing right next to him.

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Full article: Restless Genes
It's a curious thing. The article actually visits the main reason, but still kinda misses the point.

In my mind, our need for exploration could be summed up as need for more living space. We've never simply gone anywhere to see what's in there. No, we've always had the motivation to also see whether we could stay there.

And it has not only been used as motivation for exploration, but for war as well. I think word lebensraum sums up nicely the most sinister historical example.

Back to the original point, Tupaia's people very likely took to the sea because the island they came from became to small for them. It's also the reason why I often surprise myself glancing upwards on a clear, cloudless night. It'll very likely be nothing but a pipe dream in my lifetime, but I do hope that we'll get there eventually. If we don't, the fate of our species might just be to remain here and die - do we really have an explorer gene or not.
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Old 06-21-2013, 03:29 AM   #3
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It appears that James Cameron has beat Sir Richard Branson to the deepest point on Earth -- the Mariana Trench. The current issue of National Geographic features Cameron on the cover, and has a lengthy piece on the complete expedition.



Quote:
Originally Posted by National Geographic
DEEPSEA CHALLENGER lay in its cradle on the deck of its mother ship, Mermaid Sapphire, in Jervis Bay, Australia, a quiet anchorage 125 miles south of Sydney. Cameron’s plan was to hopscotch across the South Pacific, testing DEEPSEA CHALLENGER in a series of ever deeper dives before subjecting it to the crushing pressure of the Mariana Trench’s 16,000 pounds per square inch. The team had plotted a course that would take it from shallow Australian coves to a deep trench off the coast of Papua New Guinea and then to the open seas above the deepest part of the Mariana Trench, known as the Challenger Deep. No manned craft had visited the location since the U.S. Navy bathyscaph Trieste reached a depth of 35,800 feet in 1960, piloted by Lt. Don Walsh and Jacques Piccard. Cameron had invited Walsh on board the Mermaid Sapphire to contribute his firsthand knowledge of the trench.

You can find the full article here.

A companion photo gallery can be viewed here, and there's a robust companion site to the expedition over here.

I wish I had known that the sub was going to be on display in Los Angeles, I would have gone and visited.
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Old 12-05-2013, 06:13 AM   #4
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A couple of years back I posted a thread about a pair of friends who retraced Marco Polo's historic route from Venice to China by foot. The trip would take them through Afghanistan, today's Tajikistan, and along the Silk Road into China where they would turn around for the return trip to Venice.



Some kind soul has uploaded a better copy of the doc to YouTube if you're interested.

Fast forward to 2013, and Paul Salopek, National Geographic Fellow & Journalist, is aiming top that rather admirable feat. Starting in Kenya's Great Rift Valley, the birthplace of humanity, he is going to trace man's 60-thousand year migration ending at the tip of South America in 2020. 7-years and 21,000 miles!



Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Salopek
The trails scuffed through the Ethiopian desert are possibly the oldest human marks in the world. People walk them still: the hungry, the poor, the climate stricken, men and women sleepwalking away from war. Nearly a billion people are on the move today across the Earth. We are living through the greatest mass migration our species has ever known. As always, the final destination remains unclear. In Djibouti city, the African migrants stood waving cell phones on trash-strewed beaches at night. They were capturing a cheap signal from neighboring Somalia. I heard them murmur: Oslo, Melbourne, Minnesota. It was eerie and sad and strangely beautiful. After 600 centuries we were still seeking guidance, even rescue, from those who had walked before.

Check out December's dead tree edition for the full article. Or, check out the online edition here if you're overseas.

Mr. Salopek completed the first leg of his trek in February of this year, and has uploaded a handy selection of journal entries for perusal! This one on the Bedouin fire cure was particularly intriguing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Salopek
Fatimah Ayed Hamed al Hajuri al Johaini, 72 or 73 years old, was a fire healer. She burned people for their own good. She had been doing this all day in a desert operating room that consisted of a dusty rug and a hearth. In the coals of the hearth she heated iron nails to orange hotness. These implements she pressed into twitching flesh at secret locations on her patients’ bodies. Nerves and veins taught by her father, by his father before him, and so on, going back thousands of years. “I’ve been doing this for 40 years. People keep coming. There is only me left do this. I am about to die. Thanks be to God. But I will cure whatever I can cure.”

The explorer Wilfred Thesiger, in his classic of travel, Arabian Sands, writes of the Arab fire cure. The Bedouin, he said, “cauterize themselves and their camels for nearly every ill. Their bellies, chests, and backs are often crisscrossed with the ensuing scars.” He tells the story of the survivors of a British steamer. The ship was wrecked off the coast of Yemen. The passengers, stricken with diarrhea, were kindly—and forcibly—branded over and over by their tribal rescuers: “They eventually arrived at Muscat nearly killed by dysentery and this primitive treatment.”

There's also a very robust website full of interesting reads if one is so inclined.

Let's close this out with some traditional Bedouin music!

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Old 05-13-2014, 04:47 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Finn
It's also the reason why I often surprise myself glancing upwards on a clear, cloudless night. It'll very likely be nothing but a pipe dream in my lifetime, but I do hope that we'll get there eventually. If we don't, the fate of our species might just be to remain here and die - do we really have an explorer gene or not.

There was something longer here originally, but I deleted it in favor of this: As a species we have taken definite steps towards a full fledged space program. Those steps may be hesitant and often contentious, but we are moving forward. Yet, despite this we ignore that massive amount of liquid space that surrounds us all except as a trashcan or a toilet. There's all this attention focused on space (thanks, Cosmos), but the ocean remains virtually unexplored.

Part of it lies in the fact that the ocean is a cruel, unfeeling mistress. SCUBA only scratches the surface, and current submersibles are limited largely by the x-y axis. Fortunately for us, legendary submersible designer Graham Hawkes has taken a significant step towards opening the ocean's depths for the individual and smaller organizations with his hydrobatic craft designs.

Dig this "sizzle reel" from the fine folks at Hawkes Ocean Technologies & GoPro. Shot on location in the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary.



That fantastic looking torpedo with wings is the Super Falcon Mark II. It has a cruising speed of 2-6 knots, and can operate safely for about twelve hours at a depth of 120 meters, about 400 feet. It might not sound like much at first, but you need to take into account that the world record for SCUBA diving is 205 meters, and they only lasted about six minutes at that depth.

With further advances in technology, we should get something that can comfortably explore that middle part of the ocean, the disphotic zone. It receives a minimum amount of light, but this is where a lot of the really, really cool animals dwell.

Got some more time? Check out his talk from the 2012 CUSP Conference in Chicago.



Got some more time? Check out Mr. Hawkes' talk from 2010 with Google's Tech Talk. (Who I am sure will then try to own the ocean.)



Link: Deep Flight

For my money, this is by far one of the coolest things happening in the Bay Area that you don't hear about.
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Old 09-10-2016, 02:38 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Le Saboteur
Fast forward to 2013, and Paul Salopek, National Geographic Fellow & Journalist, is aiming top that rather admirable feat. Starting in Kenya's Great Rift Valley, the birthplace of humanity, he is going to trace man's 60-thousand year migration ending at the tip of South America in 2020. 7-years and 21,000 miles!

Nearly four years into his walk, Paul Salopek has made it all the way to the 'stans. Specifically, the Badai-Tugai Nature Reserve, Uzbekistan. Stop in at the site and check out Paul's progress!


Why is there no thread for The Ghost and the Darkness?!



It's been... 118 years since The Ghost and The Darkness terrorized the Tsavo region of East Africa and twenty years since Michael Douglas and Val Kilmer chased after the man eaters on the silver screen. While most people were content to let the story pass into legend, some fine folks at the Field Museum in Chicago and The University of California wanted to see if they could get to the bottom of that most pressing question: Did the lions kill and eat over a hundred railroad workers during their three month reign of terror?

Following some nifty forensic-like anthropology that examined the hair keratin and bone collagen of the two cats among other things, scientists feel that they may have reached an interesting conclusion.



Kungaloosh!
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Old 01-09-2017, 04:39 AM   #7
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Attila's mention of the Torajan funerary rites reminded me of this interesting development.

Following Rupert Murdoch's buyout of National Geographic (a national shame, to be sure), there was much speculation of how his influence was going to tart up the august publication and its various media outlets. To date the magazine remains remains... lard free to an extant, but the television outlet is quickly being gutted and, well, tarted up for mass consumption.

The closest thing NatGeo had to a flagship offering, Explorer, is first to receive an extensive makeover from an in-depth look at various subjects to something resembling The Daily Show or Last Week Tonight with shades of VICE "News".

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cynthia Littleton
The revamp of “Explorer” is Nat Geo’s effort to offer a point of view on the week’s news a la John Oliver’s “Last Week Tonight” and “The Daily Show.” Alumni from “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report” are on board the production team. The show will originate from New York.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cynthia Littleton
“By harnessing an unparalleled portfolio of media assets through National Geographic Partners, we’re going to offer true 360-degree experiences, extending our storytelling for both viewers and advertisers across an unrivaled number of platforms,” said National Geographic Global Networks CEO Courteney Monroe.

The new-model “Explorer” is described as a weekly “docu-talk” series that will feature magazine-style field reporting, celebrity guests and talk show segments shot in front of a studio audience. elements. The series will bow on Nat Geo’s 171 channels around the world in the fall.

Full article here.

Richard Bacon, Explorer's new host.



Snippets from the premiere episode featuring the Torajan funerary rites. They might be considered NSFW.



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Old 02-06-2017, 12:08 AM   #8
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After some 90-years scholars* at The University of Chicago's Oriental Institute have finally completed work on the Assyrian dictionary.

* - The dictionary was actually completed in 2010, but I was just recently reminded of its existence.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Oriental Institute
The Chicago Assyrian Dictionary, initiated in 1921 by James Henry Breasted, is compiling a comprehensive dictionary of the various dialects of Akkadian, the earliest known Semitic language that was recorded on cuneiform texts that date from c. 2400 B.C. to A.D. 100 which were recovered from archaeological excavations of ancient Near Eastern sites. The Assyrian Dictionary is in every sense a joint undertaking of resident and non-resident scholars from around the world who have contributed their time and labor over a period of seventy years to the collection of the source materials and to the publication of the Dictionary.

Chicago Assyrian Dictionary Project

Got two grand? If so, you can purchase it directly from the Institute. The set is comprised of 21-volumes, but if you're not quite as well heeled, it can also be downloaded gratis from the Institute as well.

At any rate it should make all of your fanfiction that much more exciting!
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Old 02-06-2017, 01:59 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Le Saboteur



After some 90-years scholars* at The University of Chicago's Oriental Institute have finally completed work on the Assyrian dictionary.

* - The dictionary was actually completed in 2010, but I was just recently reminded of its existence.



Chicago Assyrian Dictionary Project

Got two grand? If so, you can purchase it directly from the Institute. The set is comprised of 21-volumes, but if you're not quite as well heeled, it can also be downloaded gratis from the Institute as well.

At any rate it should make all of your fanfiction that much more exciting!

That sounds very similar to the story behind the compilation of the 1st edition Oxford English Dictionary. About 70 years to compile from a broad range of contributors, scholars to inmates.

I bought a set of the OED years back. It cost $2000 then, greatly reduced.

Thanks for posting this, Le Sab.
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Old 06-09-2017, 04:15 AM   #10
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Lights! Camera! Explore!

Before the Lumiere Brothers gave the world the its first movie camera, explorers would send home written dispatches and paintings or sketches of their finds. Still pictures would soon follow, but the film industry grew in concert with the renewed interest in exploration. So when early Twentieth Century explorers set out they would bring along movie cameras to document their exploits.

Most of that work would ultimately wind up in the archive of the Royal Geographical Society. Now, after 100 years in some cases, the RGS is digitizing and releasing this archival footage for all to see*.

* - "All" seems to be limited to subjects of the Crown for now.

Included in this first batch of films is the first manned flight over Mt.Everest by Major Stewart Blacker and Ralph Bagnold's Libyan adventures. Bagnold would go on to found Britain's Long Range Desert Groupin WWII, and the Bagnold Dunes on Mars are named after him.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Pallab Ghosh
Blacker and his friends risked their lives flying in specially built biplanes, higher than anyone had flown before, to capture historic footage. Alasdair MacLeod, who is in charge of the project for the RGS, says that the film is one of more than a hundred in the RGS's possession that will be put online this year.

"The society has a collection of over two million items. It's the world's largest collection of geographically related maps, photographs, artefacts, diaries, notebooks and publications. And this film collection, which has been housed at the British Film Institute's national archive for many years, has not been made more accessible."

Full article: Britain's Great Explorations Now On-line

Stop by here for several clips courtesy of the Beeb.

Full-fledged Britishers can drop in on the BFI's site to check out the films in their entirety. The rest of us are stuck with trying to figure out a way around geographic restrictions!


Kungaloosh!
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Old 06-29-2017, 03:31 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Le Saboteur
Nearly four years into his walk, Paul Salopek has made it all the way to the 'stans. Specifically, the Badai-Tugai Nature Reserve, Uzbekistan. Stop in at the site and check out Paul's progress!

Paul is now in Kyrgyzstan and is on his way into China. PBS News Hour has caught up with Paul and sat down for a brief update.



You can check out the transcript here, and catch up with the latest dispatches here.
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