Signs & Portents

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Pagan News Beagle: Earthy Thursday, October 15

Evidence of ancient rituals are uncovered in Sweden. The neuroscience of sleep loss is examined. And the accuracy of the movie The Martian is checked. It's Earthy Thursday, our weekly segment on science and Earth-related news. All this and more for the Pagan News Beagle!

Most discussions of ancient religion revolve around the practices of our ancestors during classical antiquity (about 2000 years ago) or occasionally the Iron or Bronze Ages (2500 to 5000 years ago). But what were our ancestors' beliefs like at the dawn of humanity, during the early Stone Age (aka Paleolithic)? Evidence is generally scarce but a new archaeological find in Sweden might shed some light.

Which planet is the closest to Earth? If you said Mars, you'd be right on some counts but not on several that planetary scientists consider more important, such as size and composition. In those regards, Venus is a lot closer. So why is Venus so inhospitable whereas Mars is seen as a possible habitat for life?

What's the real long-term effects of getting less than a full night's sleep? A lot depends on how much sleep you miss and how often you're missing it, but either way it's not good. Emilie Reas has the details.

The ancients used astronomy for a lot of things: navigating the sea, charting the passage of time, etc. But a recent discovery in ancient Egypt suggests another interesting purpose for looking at the stars: plotting one's journey through the afterlife.

Ridley Scott's new movie The Martian (based on a book by Andy Weir) is tracking a lot of positive attention, both from moviegoers and professional critics, including some praise for how accurately it depicts space travel. But just how accurate is the film? io9's Mika McKinnon takes a look.

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Aryós Héngwis (or the more modest Héngwis for short) is a native of the Pontic-Caspian steppe, born some 5000 years ago, near the village of Dereivka. In his youth he stood out from the other snakes for his love of learning and culture, eventually coming into the service of the local reǵs before moving westward toward Europe. Most recently, Aryós Héngwis left his home to pursue a new life in America, where he has come under the employ of BBI Media as an internet watchdog (or watchsnake, if you will), ever poised to strike the unwary troll.


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