Big if true: the boldest scientific discoveries of 2021

Originally published at: Big if true: the boldest scientific discoveries of 2021 | Boing Boing


“The odd behavior suggests that hidden particles are influencing the muons’ magnetic properties”

Why another “particle” to explain something? Is “gremlins” too technical? Sometimes I feel like it’s the old Far Side comic, where a physicist has written “Then, A Miracle Occurs” in the midst of his blackboard equations.


Surely that’s been the accepted model for quite some time? The latest site is just (yet another) point of evidence suggesting a much earlier arrival than previous evidence could prove. But there are a number of previously known sites in the Americans that have pointed, inconclusively, towards an earlier date.

“Or we just have a leak in the equipment. Again.”


I find that whole “antistar” thing particularly interesting, as it would also validate that antimatter has positive mass, which (checks) still has yet to be experimentally confirmed.


since there’s no accepted method for how people crossed, despite decentish evidence i think there’s still archaeologists stuck on the original clovis site dates of 15kish years.

but humans were getting around everywhere - even australia at like 45k or something? i think the established position will shift. eventually

something like an old photo of someone standing in the then accurately named “new world” with a calendar and the date might help. maybe. tho probably even then there’d be holdouts


That the
existence of humans in the Americas predates Clovis has been agreed upon among most archaeologists for some time: Evidence of human occupation in Mexico around the Last Glacial Maximum | Nature


When I took an archaeology class in * cough * the early '90s, it seemed like anything earlier than the 13k Clovis sites were highly controversial (or they were made out that way), and the South American sites that maybe predate Clovis by 30k years didn’t even get mentioned. Because those really fuck up the “land bridge from Siberia” migration explanation, I suppose.

I can understand the reticence to accept a (much) earlier date, as it takes a whole lot of “maybes” to add up to something convincing.

That date’s getting pushed back, too, it seems. A lot. I’ve seen 65k BP dates that seem widely accepted, but also 120,000 year-old hints of human habitation in Australia (that apparently overlap with some genetic estimates). Human migration everywhere seems to have been both much earlier and more complex than what I was taught in school (with populations going back and forth between locations - seems like “out of Africa” is more “out of Africa, then back to Africa, and then out again and…”).


Not to mention with the recognition of Neanderthal ancestry in many populations outside Africa, and the newer recognition of Denisovan ancestry in others, and the Hobbit, aka Homo floresiensis in Indonesia, and it becomes more of a question of “a wave of migration of which humanity?”


scientists detected a giant arc of galaxies stretching across more than 3 billion light-years

huge if true


Yeah, even the new, tentative earliest dates for homo sapiens spreading out around the world are much earlier than previously thought - e.g. in Europe 150K years earlier than previous dates - which creates interesting wrinkles as that’s 100K+ years before the (somewhat arbitrary) point at which they’re considered “modern humans.” Early Homo being found in Asia almost a million years earlier than thought (raising doubts about the whole “out of Africa” model).

The simple narratives turn into complicated patterns of migration of various types of humans, from the now expanded category of “human race” (plus non-ancestral branches of the family), from a number of places to a number of other places. As someone who was raised on the simple narrative, it’s pretty exciting.


I took a bonehead archeology class back in 86, and even then the TA who taught the class was all “I’m supposed to tell you that humans didn’t make it to North America until 15,000 years ago, but there’s decent evidence for 25, and lesser for up to 45 thousand years ago,” with the implication being that once the professors who grew up on westerns and other anti-native American propaganda died off the date would move way, way back. Looks like that’s happening.

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