25,000-year-old ‘pyramid’ that wasn’t built by humans after all, archaeologists find shipwrecks using clues from Homer’s Iliad, and much more this week

This week, a CRISPR-edited pig kidney was successfully transplanted into a living person, breeding operations welcomed ridiculous-looking hatchlings of the world’s rarest fish, and scientists simulated black holes in the lab for the first time using “quantum tornadoes.” Finally, we explore the longest solar eclipse ever recorded.

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Study claiming humans built 25,000-year-old pyramid in Indonesia removed by magazine

A magazine has retracted a controversial study that claimed humans started building a ‘pyramid’ in Indonesia as early as 25,000 years ago. In November 2023, the study received widespread media attention for its extraordinary claim that a mountain in Indonesia is actually the world’s oldest pyramid, built by ancient people. But the response from archaeologists since its publication has been deeply skeptical of its bold conclusions. Read the full story here

A CRISPR-edited pig kidney has been transplanted into a living person for the first time

In a world first, doctors at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) have successfully transplanted a genetically modified pig kidney into a living human recipient. The patient, 62-year-old Richard “Rick” Slayman, was living with end-stage kidney disease and was dependent on dialysis to survive after a previously transplanted human kidney began to fail. Read the full story here

The world’s rarest fish is making a comeback, one ridiculous baby at a time

Behold, the rarest fish in the world! The red handfish, Thymichthys politus, is known from only two small patches of reef off the coast of Tasmania, where approximately 100 adults are thought to live. Habitat degradation and climate change have put them at risk of extinction, but thanks to a breeding program they welcomed 21 young in 2023 and you have to see them. Read the full story here

With the very first ‘Quantum Tornado’ scientists can simulate black holes in the laboratory

Black holes are objects at the limits of our physical theories, so the better we understand them, the better we can test our knowledge of the universe. Although astrophysical black holes are studied in so many ways, it would be much easier to analyze one in the laboratory. Unfortunately, having a specimen in a laboratory would lead to the destruction of that laboratory and probably the planet, so scientists discovered the next best thing: they created a simulation using a quantum tornado. Read the full story here

Archaeologists find shipwrecks using clues from Homer’s Iliad

Archaeologists have used the Iliad, an ancient Greek epic poem written in the 8th century BC set near the end of the legendary Trojan War, as a guide to locating shipwrecks off the coast of Greece. Researchers have located ten shipwrecks around the island of Kasos dating from 3000 B.C. and the Second World War have sunk. One of these sources was that of Homer Iliad, which mentions Kasos as a trading center that took part in the battle against Troy. Read the full story here

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Feature of the week:

When was the longest recorded solar eclipse in history?

Not all solar eclipses are equal – even if we ignore partial and annular eclipses, some are more impressive than others. Next month’s North American solar eclipse will last much longer than the 2017 equivalent, but how long can an eclipse theoretically last? And when was the longest solar eclipse of all? Read the full story here

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