Category Archives: Academia

Archaeologist says he’s found Aristotle’s tomb

That’s the claim.

Don’t expect any body to turn, since the Greek philosopher was cremated when he died in 322 BC at the ripe old age [in those days] of 62, and it’s his ashes that are supposed to lie beneath the marble floor on the Chalcidice peninsula of northwestern Greece.

From To Vima:

A domed building and altar that was discovered in the ancient city of Stagira in 1996 is likely to be the tomb and monument of ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle. A report in the Kathimerini newspaper, the official announcements will be made on Thursday, at the international conference on Aristotle.

Archeologist Kostas Sismanidis, who was worked on the dig in ancient Stagira, where the philosopher was born in 384 BC, explained that while there is no proof that the tomb belonged to Aristotle, there are very strong indications to support such a claim.

According to Sismanidis the location, view and other construction details strongly indicate that the building was used as a tomb for the great philosopher.

Greek Reporter has a video with a reconstruction of the temple:

Aristotle’s Tomb Found in Greece

More from Greek Reporter:

“I have no hard proof, but strong indications lead me to an almost certainty,” said archaeologist Kostas Sismanidis who made the claim of finding Aristotle’s tomb.

In his extensive research, Sismanidis first established that the tomb belongs to an important person, one who deserves to have such a lavish and respected tomb.

Then, based on three different biographies and other written testimonies and analyses, written at different time periods and by authors of different origin, he comes to the conclusion that the remains of Aristotle were transferred from Chalkis, where he died, to Stagira.

Here is an excerpt from Sismanidis’ report citing an Aristotle biography written in latin by Leonardo Azetino: “Stagira, had been destroyed by Philip, and Aristotle managed to convince the King to reconstruct the city and wrote the laws and the government system himself… His fellow citizens honored him for his actions and established annual celebrations and festivals after his name while he was still alive.”

We leave the last word to Keep Talking Greece:

The grave is inside a complex of divergent buildings dated form the Archaic period over the Byzantine and modern times. The location is on the slope of the northern tip of Stagira.

Apart from the buildings remains and walls, there are numerous findings “ of good quality, unpainted or painted pottery, which is represented by shells, plates, goblets [and other small items.] More than 50 coins with Alexander the Third, cut in Amphipolis and Thessaloniki as well as cons of his descendants.”

According to findings and research, “an altar was in the middle of the building where Aristotle’s grave was found.”

Climate change fuels dramatic rise in forest fires

From The Conversation, a new open access journal which allows article reproduction under a Creative Commons license [Bravo! — esnl], a very important article from University of California, Merced, Associate Professor of Environmental Engineering Anthony LeRoy Westerling:

Dramatic images of out-of-control wildfires in western North American forests have appeared on our television and computer screens with increasing regularity in recent decades, while costs of fire suppression have soared. In 2015, federal spending on suppression exceeded US$2 billion, just 15 years after first exceeding $1 billion. Something has been changing our fire seasons.

There are competing explanations for why wildfires have been increasing, particularly in our forests. I’ve been studying the science of climate and wildfires for more than 15 years and the take-home message from our research is that, while our management of the landscape can influence wildfire in many different ways, it is a warming climate that is drying out western U.S. forests and leading to more, larger wildfires and a longer wildfire season.

A look at the latest data

Ten years ago, several colleagues and I set out to see if we could quantify the changes in wildfire, particularly in mountain forests of the western U.S. We wanted to see if climate might be causing some of the increase in wildfire.

In our paper, we concluded that wildfire had indeed increased substantially in western U.S. forests beginning in the 1980s. We also found that most of this increase was from fires burning primarily in mid-elevation northern U.S. Rocky Mountain forests in years with an early snowmelt.

Our latest research shows that wildfire activity in western U.S. forests has continued to increase, decade by decade, since the 1980s.

We looked at federally managed forests in the Sierra Nevada, Southwest, Pacific Northwest, and northern and southern Rockies. Over the decade through 2012, large fires (fires greater than 1,000 acres or 400 hectares) were 556 percent more frequent than in the 1970s and early 1980s. And the area affected increased even more dramatically: the forest area burned in large fires between 2003 and 2012 was more than 1,200 percent greater than in the period between 1973 and 1982.

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New “hot spots” for forest wildfire have also emerged.

The area burned in the northern U.S. Rockies has increased by 3,000 percent, accounting for half of the increase in the western U.S. But fire activity has recently accelerated in Southwest and Pacific Northwest forests as well. The area of burned forest in the Southwest increased over 1,200 percent, and in the Northwest by nearly 5,000 percent.

The only forest area where we could not robustly detect an increase in large fires and burned area was in coastal southern California. There, the largest fires are human-ignited, take place in the fall (driven by Santa Ana winds) and burn primarily in chaparral or shrubland. The small number of forest fires in southern California, combined with high variability from year to year, meant we could not detect trends there, nor attribute them to specific causes.

At the same time, the number of large fires in the West and the area they affect have been increasing in drier, lower elevation grass and shrublands, although to a much lesser extent. For example, the area burned in nonforest vegetation in lands managed by several federal agencies (the Forest Service, Park Service and Bureau of Indian Affairs) has been increasing about 65 percent per decade as compared to the 1970s average, for the past three decades.

Longer seasons

The sharp increase in the amount of land being burned in recent decades across all vegetation types is not just due to more wildfires.

In fact, the total number of reported wildfire ignitions does not appear to have gone up. However, the number of large (greater than 1,000 acres or 400 hectares) wildfires has been growing since the 1980s, and the area burned in these fires has grown even more. Wildfires, in other words, are growing in size.

The length of the fire season has also grown throughout the last four decades, with large fires igniting earlier in the spring and later in the autumn than previously, and burning for longer. In the period between 2003 and 2012, the average burn time for individual fires was 52 days. In the 1973-1982 period, it was just six days.

There’s a whole lot more, after the jump. . .

Continue reading

Map of the day: Britain’s loss of local language

From a new study from Cambridge University comes a demonstration of the BLOG Map Keypower of mobility and [though it’s not called out in the report] mass media to destroy the local linguistic quirks of an entire nation.

The map charts the transition of words used to describe what we’ve only heard described as a splinter. The map key is to the right.

From the University of Cambridge:



Alcohol treatment doesn’t work for frat members

Google the words university Berkeley fraternity party alcohol complaints and you get 185,000 hits.

During our six years reporting for the Berkeley Daily Planet, we fielded quite a few calls from angry neighbors, complaining about parties getting out of hand, and the callers weren’t always the grumpy “get off my lawn” senior types, either.

It’s hard to imagine fraternities and sororities without thinking of the word party, and when you think of party, you also think booze, and at least two Cal frat house members have died as a result of drinking in the last two years, one from alcohol poisoning, the other from a fall.

Here’s the University’s official position statement on alcohol:

The University of California Berkeley was established as a public institution and is intrinsically devoted to the health, safety, and well-being of every individual in the campus community. Every member of the UC Berkeley community has a role in sustaining a safe, caring, and humane environment. Students, faculty, and staff are therefore responsible for fostering a healthy environment free of alcohol misuse. Toward that end, the campus provides education, prevention, and support services to minimize alcohol misuse; encourages treatment for members of the campus community who misuse alcohol; and sets expectations for conduct with respect to the use and misuse of alcohol in accordance with applicable laws, University policies, and campus regulations.

Note that word treatment.

Sounds like a good thing, right?

You have a problem, you get treatment?

But there’s a dirty little secret here.

Alcohol treatment programs don’t work, at least when it comes to the denizens of frat houses.

From the American Psychological Association:

Interventions designed to reduce alcohol use among fraternity members are no more effective than no intervention at all, according to an analysis of 25 years of research involving over 6,000 university students published by the American Psychological Association.

“Current intervention methods appear to have limited effectiveness in reducing alcohol consumption and alcohol-related problems among fraternity and possibly sorority members,” said lead researcher Lori Scott-Sheldon, PhD, of The Miriam Hospital and Brown University. “Stronger interventions may need to be developed for student members of Greek letter organizations.”

The study [open access, PDF] appears in the journal Health Psychology, which is published by APA.

The researchers conducted a meta-analysis of 15 studies looking at 21 different interventions involving 6,026 total participants (18 percent women) who were members of fraternities and sororities. They found no significant difference between students who received an intervention and those who did not for alcohol consumption per week or month, frequency of heavy drinking, frequency of drinking days or alcohol-related problems. In some cases, alcohol consumption even increased after an intervention.

Lots more, after the jump. . . Continue reading

Headlines of the day II: Forgiving, not forgotten

A pair of headlines, starting with the first, from the predawn hours in the New York Times, a tale of forgiveness from the man who made a blue dress and a cigar famous:

Kenneth Starr, Who Tried to Bury Bill Clinton, Now Only Praises Him

An unlikely voice recently bemoaned the decline of civility in presidential politics, warned that “deep anger” was fueling an “almost radical populism” and sang the praises of former President Bill Clinton — particularly his “redemptive” years of philanthropic work since leaving the White House.

Followed hours later by Sports Illustrated:

Report: Baylor board of regents expected to fire president Ken Starr

The Baylor board of regents are planning to remove school president Ken Starr in response to the sexual assault scandal involving the Bears football team.

We leave it to you gentle reason, to parse the timing.

Getting roofied: College drink-spiking documented

From the study, "Just a Dare or Unaware? Outcomes and Motives of Drugging (“Drink Spiking”) Among Students at Three College Campuses."

From the study, “Just a Dare or Unaware? Outcomes and Motives of Drugging (“Drink Spiking”) Among Students at Three College Campuses.”

A pioneering study provides evidence that college students are unwittingly drugged by drinking spiking, what was known in esnl‘s day as “getting slipped a mickey finn” and today known as “getting roofied.”

From the American Psychological Association:

Google the term “spiked drink,” and you’ll get more than 11 million hits, directing you to pages that describe being slipped a mickey, tips on how to avoid becoming a victim and even kits to test drinks for illicit drugs. So is drink spiking a growing problem or are these tales of people who just drank too much? Or is this phenomenon merely an urban legend?

A research team led by Suzanne C. Swan, PhD, of the University of South Carolina, sought to answer some of those questions. Their study [open access, PDF], published by the American Psychological Association’s journal Psychology of Violence, sought to determine the prevalence of drink spiking by looking at survey data from 6,064 students at three universities.

What the researchers found was 462 students (7.8 percent) reported 539 incidents in which they said they had been drugged, and 83 (1.4 percent) said either they had drugged someone, or they knew someone who had drugged another person.

“These data indicate that drugging is more than simply an urban legend,” Swan said.

The study found significant gender differences. Women were more likely to be the victims of spiking and reported more negative consequences than men, the study found, although men comprised 21 percent of the victims. Women were also more likely to report sexual assault as a motive while men more often said the purpose was “to have fun.” Other, less common reported motives included to calm someone down or make someone go to sleep.

“Even if a person is drugging someone else simply ‘for fun’ with no intent of taking advantage of the drugged person, the drugger is still putting a drug in someone else’s body without their consent — and this is coercive and controlling behavior,” Swan said.

There’s more, after the jump. . . Continue reading

Graduation graphic: The mortarboard says it all

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