Tales of a Fossil Hunter

If looking for ancient bones to dig up sounds like hard work, that's because it is. According to anthropologist Donald Johanson, even modern tools such as GPS don't save scientists from having to "look and look and look and look" for fossils. Yet as the discoverer of the famous "Lucy" skeleton knows, one big find can be life-altering, world-shaking, and downright funas when he and his then-girlfriend named the skeleton after a Beatles song they were listening to at the time.

In his Big Think interview, Johanson discusses the scientific legacy of the "Lucy" find, as well as the "First Family" group of fossils thatwhile less of a media sensationmay actually have been his most important discovery. He also weighs in on the mystery of the Neanderthals' disappearance and illuminates the origins of human creativity, arguing that art did not begin in the Lascaux cave era but rather accompanied us out of Africa.

It's precisely the story of "the emergence of ourselves" on the African savannah that excites Johanson most about anthropology. He believes that as we learn more and more about the biology, behavior, and culture of early homo sapiens, we must increasingly confront the implications of the fact that, "regardless of what we look like on the outside, genetically, on the inside, everyone is an African."

Why a federal judge ordered White House to restore Jim Acosta's press badge

A federal judge ruled that the Trump administration likely violated the reporter's Fifth Amendment rights when it stripped his press credentials earlier this month.

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 16: CNN chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta (R) returns to the White House with CNN Washington bureau chief Sam Feist after Federal judge Timothy J. Kelly ordered the White House to reinstate his press pass November 16, 2018 in Washington, DC. CNN has filed a lawsuit against the White House after Acosta's press pass was revoked after a dispute involving a news conference last week. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Acosta will be allowed to return to the White House on Friday.
  • The judge described the ruling as narrow, and didn't rule one way or the other on violations of the First Amendment.
  • The case is still open, and the administration may choose to appeal the ruling.
Keep reading Show less

How to split the USA into two countries: Red and Blue

Progressive America would be half as big, but twice as populated as its conservative twin.

Image: Dicken Schrader
Strange Maps
  • America's two political tribes have consolidated into 'red' and 'blue' nations, with seemingly irreconcilable differences.
  • Perhaps the best way to stop the infighting is to go for a divorce and give the two nations a country each
  • Based on the UN's partition plan for Israel/Palestine, this proposal provides territorial contiguity and sea access to both 'red' and 'blue' America
Keep reading Show less

Scientists just voted to change the definition of a kilogram

The definition of a kilogram will now be fixed to Planck's constant, a fundamental part of quantum physics.

Greg L via Wikipedia
Surprising Science
  • The new definition of a kilogram is based on a physical constant in quantum physics.
  • Unlike the current definition of a kilogram, this measurement will never change.
  • Scientists also voted to update the definitions of several other measurements in physics.
Keep reading Show less