World's oldest work of art found in a hidden Indonesian valley

Archaeologists discover a cave painting of a wild pig that is now the world's oldest dated work of representational art.

Credit: Maxime Aubert
  • Archaeologists find a cave painting of a wild pig that is at least 45,500 years old.
  • The painting is the earliest known work of representational art.
  • The discovery was made in a remote valley on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi.
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Chemists discover the mix that likely originated life on Earth

Scientists find that an RNA-DNA mix may have created the first life on our planet.

Credit: Adobe Stock
  • New study shows that RNA and DNA likely originated together.
  • The mixture of the acids are believed to haveproduced Earth's first life forms.
  • The molecules were created with the help of a compound available in planet's early days.
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Finding aliens: Is there a ‘theory of everything’ for life?

The search for alien life is far too human-centric. Our flawed understanding of what life really is may be holding us back from important discoveries about the universe and ourselves.

  • What, should it exist, is the universal law that connects all living things? To even dream of answering that question, and to one day find alien life elsewhere in the cosmos, humans must first reconcile the fact that our definition of life is inadequate.
  • For astrobiologist Sara Walker, understanding the universe, its origin, and our place in it starts with a deep investigation into the chemistry of life. She argues that it is time to change our chemical perspective—detecting oxygen in an exoplanet's atmosphere is no longer sufficient enough evidence to suggest the presence of living organisms.
  • "Because we don't know what life is, we don't know where to look for it," Walker says, adding that an unclear or too narrow focus could result in missed discoveries. Gaining new insights into what life on Earth is could shift our quest to find alien life in the universe.
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New tech turns space urine into plant fertilizer

An important step toward figuring out our space station future.

Credit: Robert Kneschke/William W. Potter/Adobe Stock/Big Think
  • Long-distance space travel will require self-sufficient, sustainable living in tightly enclosed environments.
  • Basic human needs such as growing food and dealing with water have yet to be fully addressed by research.
  • Scientists from Tokyo University have developed a way to convert human urine into ammonia fertilizer for growing food.
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California cave art linked to early use of hallucinogens

The Chumash people poked bits of psychoactive plants into cave ceilings next to their paintings.

Credit: Rick Bury (art)/Melissa Dabulamanzi (Datura)/PNAS
  • Mysterious pinwheel paintings in a California cave are probably representations of the hallucinogen Datura wrightii.
  • The paintings were made by the Chumash people 400 years ago.
  • This is the first definitive connection between cave painting and hallucinogens.
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