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Research tests snakes on the brain
By Laura Sanders
Researchers can now say what would
happen in Samuel L. Jackson’s brain if
he really confronted snakes on a plane.
In a terrifying sequel to the movie, volunteers were persuaded to bring a slithery
serpent within centimeters of their heads
while lying trapped in a brain scanner.
The experiment, published June 24
in Neuron, allowed researchers to watch
brain activity as people quelled their
fear and brought the snake closer to
their heads, offering a glimpse into the
courageous brain. Understanding how
the brain chooses to overcome fearful
impulses may help scientists treat people with phobias, panic disorders or posttraumatic stress disorder.
“This is a breakthrough study that
will set the stage for a whole new area
of work related to the brain and fear,”
comments neuroscientist Joseph
LeDoux of New York University.
Dating the dawn
of copper making
Find may alter views on time,
place of metallurgy’s origins
By Bruce Bower
An archaeological site in southeastern
Europe has shown its metal. This ancient
settlement contains the oldest solidly
dated evidence of copper making, from
7,000 years ago, and suggests that copper
smelting may have been invented in separate parts of Asia and Europe at that time,
rather than spreading from one source.
The find extends the known record of
copper smelting by about 500 years, a
team headed by Miljana Radivojević and
Thilo Rehren of University College London reports in an upcoming Journal of
Archaeological Science . They were joined
Copper slag found in Serbia provides
the oldest evidence of copper making.
by Serbian researchers, led by Dušan
Šljivar of the National Museum in Belgrade, and German scientists led by Ernst
Pernicka of the University of Tübingen.
Analyses of material from Serbia’s
Belovode site have identified pieces of
copper slag, residue left after heating separates copper from other ore elements.
The raw material came from nearby cop-per-ore deposits in Serbia or Bulgaria.
“Our finds provide the earliest secure
dates for copper smelting and indicate
the existence of different, possibly inde-
pendent centers of invention of met-
allurgy,” Rehren says. Large numbers
of copper artifacts have been found at
southeastern European sites dating to
more than 6,000 years ago, Rehren notes.