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Hank comes to you from his inner sanctum of science news to bring you a couple of things you never knew about human origins, the latest from his best friend on Mars, and what you can do to help one of the craziest, greatest people in the history of science.

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The Tesla Science Center: http://www.teslasciencecenter.org/
indiegogo campaign: http://www.indiegogo.com/teslamuseum
References for this episode can be found in the Google document here: http://dft.ba/-3qEN

 Introduction


Together again in my inner sanctum of science news, where this week's delights include a couple of things you never knew about human origins, the latest from my little best friend on Mars, and what you  yes you!  can do to help one of the craziest, greatest people in the history of science, Nikola Tesla. As Tesla would have put it: uĹživati u šou. 

[Intro song]

 Data Points


[Oldest Human]

(00:29)
To begin, a couple of new developments that might be of interest to any of you humans out there. First, this week, anthropologists from the US and France say that they've discovered the oldest remains of a human ever found in Southeast Asia. And this could have experts rethinking the time-line and the map of human migration.

Until now, the oldest definitive modern human remains found in that part of the world were dated back to about 40 thousand years ago, but the new discovery, a skull found at a place called the Cave of the Monkeys in Laos, has been dated to 63 thousand years ago.

This extra 20 thousand years could mean that the skull's owner may have been a direct ancestor of the people who went on to populate Indonesia and Australia.

But it also suggests that instead of just following the coast of the Indian Ocean from Africa straight to Australia, some of the very earliest people in Asia went north first.

And just speaking for myself here, I like to think that this new find adds to the likelihoods that humans hung out with other members of the genus Homo at the time. The recently discovered Denisovan people, for instance, are known to have lived from Siberia to Southeast Asia at least 40 thousand years ago, and don't get me started on the Hobbits  they lived on the Indonesian island of Flores until just 13 thousand years ago. And the thought that someone just like me but, like, wearing a Speedo made of Stegodon skin coulda had coffee with a Hobbit is just... really awesome.

The skull discovery was reported in this week's issue of the journal PNAS, and you can learn more about it in the links below.


[Indo-European Language Origins]

(01:50)
Next, I know you folks love to fight over who's responsible for the great developments in human history, so how 'bout this? Yesterday, nearly a dozen scientists from a whole host of different disciplines, from Immunology to Psycho-linguistics, said that they had solved one of the biggest mysteries of human history---the origin of Indo-European Language.

It's an incredibly diverse family of languages that includes Romance and Germanic language, like Italian and English, as well as Farsi, Hindi, and Sanskrit. And for more than 50 years, the leading theory was that it originated on the steppes of Russia some six thousand years ago and was disseminated by a nomadic people called the Kurgan. But, the new study found that Indo-European language most likely began much farther south, in modern day Turkey.

To study the language's spread, the team actually borrowed a technique used to track viruses. By following the evolution of changes in a virus, researchers can draw conclusions about where viruses traveled and how it adapted before moving on.

This team basically did the same thing by studying the vocabularies of 103 ancient and modern Indo-European languages, and tracing the evolution of their cognates, or words that sound alike.

For instance the English word mother, the Farsi word madar, and the Icelandic word mó∂ir, all have the same evolutionary ancestor.

By following the history of cognates like this, the team pinpointed the origins of the language back to ancient Anatolia, a region in today's Turkey, about 95 hundred years ago. And, instead of the Kurgan, the team says that the language most likely began to diverge with the spread of agriculture, which is widely thought to have taken root around this place and that time.

All right, all you ancient language scholars, keep the debate civil in the comments, I know you guys can get a little bit hot sometimes.

But at least there's one thing that we all can agree on, it wasn't the Mongols.

 Update


(03:32)
Now, if you thought I was gonna go two weeks without talking about Mars, you don't know me very well, so here are three updates from the new interplanetary celebrity, and my favorite Facebook friend, the Curiosity rover.

(03:43)
Number one. On Sunday, Curiosity became the first to do what I've always wanted to do: shoot laser beams from it's head!

After zeroing in on a fist-sized rock, Curiosity used its top mounted ChemCam to shoot thirty laser pulses at the rock's surface. Each pulse delivered more than a million watts of power, and the plasma created from that energy was scanned by Curiosity's three onboard spectrometers.

The data are now being analyzed by scientists in Los Alamos, New Mexico, but they already say that the data are richer than anything produced in tests on Earth.

(04:15)
Number two. NASA engineers have picked Curiosity's first destination: a spot just 400 meters away called Glenelg. Scientists chose the location because it's where layered bedrock meets two other kinds of rock formations, so it could yield a lot of information in a small area.

The rover took its first test drive on Wednesday in preparation for this long journey; it's expected to take about a month, since Curiosity moves at about 0.9 miles per hour.

The researchers called the site Glenelg, by the way, because the name is a palindrome, and Curiosity will visit the site twice-- once in a few weeks and again after returning from the base of Mount Sharp this fall. Just keep your eyes on the road, Curiosity.

(04:50)
And finally, number three. Not everything is perfect with our plutonium-powered friend. While Curiosity successfully tested some of its gear earlier this week, like its wheels and its robot arm, NASA said that on Tuesday, one of its two environmental sensors was damaged by flying rocks and dust during the landing.

Mission director Michael Watkins said that the dings seem to be confined to a wind detector, which means that some of the climate readings might be slightly affected.

So, the first flaw has finally appeared, but it's the imperfections that we admire most in the people that we love, right?

 DIY Science


(05:18)
And finally, you're welcome. After weeks and weeks of "Hank, do an episode about Nikola Tesla" and "What about Tesla," and "We want Tesla," we at SciShow have produced an Infusion about the dapper, Croatian-born, super-genius, which we'll post Sunday, October 7th. That's a ways off, I know, but until then, you have a unique, perhaps once in a life time, opportunity to help preserve Tesla's legacy and share it with the world.

As you will learn in detail in a mere few weeks, Tesla was a man of many obsessions, but perhaps chief among them was his desire to create the technology that would transmit energy wirelessly.

Having reportedly achieved this in an experiment in Colorado in 1899, Tesla got funding from Gilded Age billionaire J.P. Morgan to build a giant tower on New York's Long Island that, he said, would, when complete, be able to beam electricity all the way across the Atlantic Ocean. It was called the Wardenclyffe Tower and it looked like basically an enormous Tesla coil. Construction began in 1900, and while I don't wanna spoil anything for you, the fact is that Tesla was kind of a sketch-ball, Morgan was kind of a wiener, and the stock market crashed, and yada yada yada, the tower was never completed.

But the land that Wardenclyffe was built on is now for sale, so a non-profit called the Tesla Science Center has launched a campaign to raise money to buy the site and turn it into a Tesla Museum and science education facility. They've already got a commitment from the state of New York to match funds if they're able to raise half of the money to buy the 15 acre site.

Their goal: 850 thousand dollars. My guess is, by the time we upload this, they will have already raised the money, but that's just to buy the site. They still need to raise money for, like, restorations and stuff, and curators, and web design, I don't know, it's expensive to run a museum.

They need to reach the goal within the next few weeks because a retail developer has also reportedly shown interest in the property.

So seriously people, what would you rather see: a public monument to the man who invented alternating current and neon lights and robots or a Pottery Barn.

I thought so.

So now's the chance for the Tesla fandom to shine. Links to the Science Center and the Indiegogo campaign are in the description below. Do your part and we'll see you in two weeks.

Thanks for watching this episode of SciShow News, if you have any ideas or comments or questions for us, you can leave them on Facebook or Twitter, or of course, down in the YouTube comments below.