While excavating a 5,000 year-old burial mound at Ba?ur H?yük near Siirt in southeast Turkey, archaeologists have unearthed a set of carved stones that may represent the earliest recorded gaming tokens. The stones depict dogs, pyramids, pigs, and other shapes with each set of tokens painted a different color. There were even dice.
Archaeologists have matched these 49 apparent game pieces with similar objects found in several sites in Syria and Iraq. At these locations, the stones were found alone, so they were assumed to be counting stones, not part of a game. This mysterious game might have been a common way to pass the time in ages past. The Ba?ur H?yük site dates to 3100-2900 BCE, suggesting board games like this one may have originated in the Fertile Crescent and Egypt before spreading outward.
Some bits of decomposed wood were also found in close proximity to the stone game pieces. Researchers are hoping that they will provide some hints on the rules of the agate beads
, which seems to have something to do with the number 4 — most of the tokens are in sets of four or eight.
The site where the game pieces were discovered also contained a large cache of beads and pottery, which indicates it was connected to an individual in the ruling class. This reinforces evidence from other Mesopotamian sites and Egyptian writings that board games were common among the elite in the ancient world. Some tombs from Mesopotamian societies dating around 3,000 BCE have contained intricate game boards and pieces from the “Game of Twenty Squares.”
Spiders weave intricate patterns of great amazement and beauty. When hit by the sparkling rays of the sun, their complex and yet simple structure shimmers and delights any on-looker. Though we love to see spider webs, we rarely like to run into them, as they are sticky and difficult to untangle from their clinging nature. As it turns out, that sticky nature possessed by the webs of the eight-legged weaver could have medicinal properties attached to it. Science and medicine are discovering how spider webs can heal wounds, act as suturing material and even help regenerate ligaments.
Who would have guessed that one of the mysterious mediums of nature’s art could be used for healing? Spider webs have always just been for looking at or avoiding, yes? Well, not anymore. According to doctors and lay people alike, balling up a spider web and covering a bleeding wound with it will not only slow the blood flow and help clot it, but provide the materials needed for a quick recovery. After placing the web over a wound, the spider web tends to harden like a natural scab which will later easily wash off leaving – miraculously – no scarring.
Spider webs are one of the strongest materials in nature, and apparently, in relation to their diameter, are ‘five times stronger than steel.’ Biochemist Artem Davidenko from the DWI at RWTH says that a web measuring 2 centimeters thick would be able to pull an entire airplane – that is how strong it is.
Knee injuries are very common these days, especially among athletes. Science is looking at how spider webs can help regenerate ligaments in the knees and even help with the making of artificial tendons. In a recent issue of Chemical Review, the work to regrow spider webs on a mass scale using alternative mediums such as goat milk proteins and alfalfa is outlined. ”Scientists generate these proteins outside spiders by inserting the genes for them into target cells.”
Bandages are now being created using spider web material woven into the pad so as to speed healing and prevent scarring. The beads found on spider webs contribute to knowledge for a suturing material that could be created with medication built right into the structure. Here is a short video on how this work came about.
Apparently, there is natural antibiotic properties to spider webs which make them ‘a natural’ at wound healing and cell regeneration. Who would have thought that nature’s artists were ‘drawing’ with such a useful and healing material? The web of the golden-silk orb-weaver, a specific kind of spider, is being researched for its ability to help mammalian neuronal regeneration – or regeneration of the neurons of the retina. This has already shown effective and is being pursued as a procedure that leaves the turquoise beads
, very important in a delicate area such as the eye.
Bundles of spider silk has also been used to graft severed nerves when nothing else has shown so effective. There is still as yet, research to be done with the illusive, yet ever-greater mystery-revealing spider web for healing wounds- though findings thus far are promising. The next time you cut yourself with the kitchen knife, or even let the paper fall too deeply- leaving a split in the skin – reach for a spider web, you may be amazed at how these sticky Halloween friendly spider’s nets can help.
A new transparent, bioinspired coating makes ordinary glass tough, self-cleaning and incredibly slippery according to a team from Harvard University. The new coating could be used to create durable, scratch-resistant lenses for eyeglasses, self-cleaning windows, improved solar panels and new medical diagnostic devices, said principal investigator Joanna Aizenberg, who is the Amy Smith Berylson Professor of Materials Science at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), a Core Faculty Member at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, and Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology.
The new coating builds on an award-winning technology that Aizenberg and her team pioneered called Slippery Liquid-Infused Porous Surfaces (SLIPS)—the slipperiest synthetic surface known. The new coating is equally slippery, but more durable and fully transparent. Together these advances solve longstanding challenges in creating commercially useful materials that repel almost everything.
SLIPS was inspired by the slick strategy of the carnivorous pitcher plant, which lures insects onto the ultraslippery surface of its leaves, where they slide to their doom. Unlike earlier water-repelling materials, SLIPS repels oil and sticky liquids like honey, and it resists ice formation and bacterial biofilms as well.
While SLIPS was an important advance, it was also "a proof of principle"—the first step toward a commercially valuable technology, said lead author Nicolas Vogel, a postdoctoral fellow in applied physics at SEAS.
"SLIPS repels both oily and aqueous liquids but it's expensive to make and not transparent," Vogel said. The original SLIPS materials also need to be fastened somehow to existing surfaces, which is often not easy. "It would be easier to take the existing surface and treat it in a certain way to make it slippery," Vogel explained.
Vogel, Aizenberg, and their colleagues sought to develop a coating that accomplishes this and works as SLIPS does. SLIPS' thin layer of liquid lubricant allows liquids to flow easily over the surface, much as a thin layer of water in an ice rink helps an ice skater glide. To create a SLIPS-like coating, the researchers corral a collection of tiny spherical particles of polystyrene, the main ingredient of Styrofoam, on a flat glass surface like a collection of Ping-Pong balls. They pour liquid glass on them until the balls are more than half buried in glass. After the glass solidifies, they burn away the beads, leaving a network of craters that resembles a honeycomb. They then coat that honeycomb with the same liquid lubricant used in SLIPS to create a tough but slippery coating. "The honeycomb structure is what confers the mechanical stability to the new coating," said Aizenberg.