Touch and Go Athletes work hard to tune their muscles to work…

Touch and Go

Athletes work hard to tune their muscles to work efficiently. Yet technique is just as important as fitness to their overall performance. From sprinters to dancers, golfers to javelin throwers – a vital part of training is re-watching hours of their own events – looking for the slightest area for improvement. Here, computer science and biomechanics combine to turn a 2-dimensional video of a sprinter into a 3D-printed ‘motion sculpture’, tracing graceful movements between frames as red waves. Handling these objects may give sportsmen and women a fresh perspective on their own performance, but also help to prevent injury – avoiding habits that might eventually cause orthopaedic injury to muscles and bones. Medical professionals are also interested in applying the techniques to videos captured inside the body – printing sculptures of beating hearts, or bending spines to guide future surgery.

Written by John Ankers

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Burial urn of Megalithic era unearthed in Kerala

A huge burial urn dating back to the Megalithic era that was unearthed while clearing a private road to a house at Hydermettu, near Nedumkandam, recently is believed to be one of the major findings that would shed light on life in the pre-historic era on the western side of the Western Ghats.

Burial urn of Megalithic era unearthed in Kerala
The burial urn unearthed at Hydermettu, near Nedumkandam in Idukki district,
is believed to be the largest one found in the region
[Credit: The Hindu]

The urn is said to be the largest one unearthed from the region so far. It is 3-ft wide at its mouth and its shape is a variant of other ones explorated in the district. Moreover, there are art works on it — a pointer to the cultural awareness of a society that belonged to the pre-historic period.

A large number of burial urns have been unearthed from Ramakkalmedu, Mundieruma and Puzhpakandam nearby in the recent past. However, they were comparatively small in size and do not have notable decorative works, said V.M. Safeer, Head, Department of History, MES College, Nedumkandam.

Mr. Safeer said the burial urns unearthed from the region belonged to 1,00 BCE and 500 BCE. Some of the urns have remains of iron weapons and pieces of bones. “Their period can be known only through carbon dating,” he said adding that some might be aged only a few hundred years.

The importance is that the findings in the hinterland of the erstwhile Muziris port is valuable evidence of a culturally-oriented society. The new finding is on the hill area bordering Tamil Nadu and believed to be linked to a settled life there. Burial urns, dolmen and hero stones are spread over a large area on the western side of the Western Ghats

Though individual studies were conducted in the past, specific studies and research are needed to throw light on the importance of these historical remains, he added.

Kerala Council for Historical Research chairman P.K. Michael Tharakan told The Hindu on Sunday that small-sized burial urns were unearthed from different areas in the State. However, it needed a study connected to the other ones unearthed in the region. It pointed to the need for a surface exploration there. On the basis of the evidence, further explorations could be taken up and it may lead to valuable conclusions with regard to the lengthy history of human habitation in the district. The Archaeological Department was undertaking excavations at historically important sites, he said adding that the district, especially the Anchunadu valley, was a treasure trove for historical studies.

At present, the KCHR was on a project to explore the historic importance of Kottappuram, he said adding that the High Range area on the Western Ghats needs a comprehensive exploration of its past. It was also the hinterland for moving hill produce to Muziris port and had a civilised society from the early period.

Author: Giji K. Raman | Source: The Hindu [November 12, 2018]

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Study casts new light cast on fishing throughout history

A new study from The Australian National University (ANU) has revealed new insights into ancient fishing throughout history, including what type of fish people were regularly eating as part of their diet.

Study casts new light cast on fishing throughout history
Credit: ANU

The study looked at fish bones unearthed in an archaeological dig on the Indonesian island of Alor — home to the world’s oldest fish-hooks ever found in a human burial site, dating back to about 12,000 years.

Lead archaeologist Dr Sofia Samper Carro of the ANU School of Archaeology and Anthropology said on the study identified a shift in fishing behaviours about 7,000 years ago.

“People on Alor people were fishing for open water species about 20,000 years ago, then about 7,000 years ago they started to fish exclusively for reef dwelling species,” she said.

Dr Samper Carro said a similar pattern was identified on the nearby island of Timor, indicating that the change in behaviour was due to environmental circumstances.

Study casts new light cast on fishing throughout history
The dig site at Alor Island [Credit: ANU]

“It seems to be due to changes in sea levels and environmental conditions, although human-induced changes cannot be ruled out,” she said.
The results were made possible through the use of an analysis method traditionally used in biology to identify fish habitat in archaeological material. Dr Samper Carro said she was forced to experiment with a new approach due to the difficulty in determining the difference between the very similar looking bones of the area’s 2,000 known species of fish.

“This study is the first time researchers have been able to reliably determine fish habitat using vertebra through this method, and represents a significant step forward in being able to track human behaviour throughout history,” Dr Samper Carro said.

Study casts new light cast on fishing throughout history
One fish vertebrae looks much like another [Credit: ANU]

“Most of the bones you find in archaeological sites are vertebra, which are very complicated to identify to species and all look very similar. If we don’t know the species, we don’t know their habitat. In Indonesia you have more than 2,000 species of fish, so to be able to know which bones belong to which species you would need 2,000 species of fish in your comparative collection.”

“I spent probably five months trying to match each fish vertebra to a species and I think I got through 100 out of 9,000 bones, so I needed to find another method.”

Dr Samper Carro instead turned to geometric morphometrics, a process that looks at slight differences in size and shape of physical objects. Using more than 20,000 digital images and plotting 31 points on each bone, she was able to digitally identify the likely habitat from each vertebra.

The study is published in the Journal of Archaeological Science.

Source: Australian National University [November 12, 2018]

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