Well, this is cool (non-archaeological):
George Dantzig recounted his feat in a 1986 interview for the College Mathematics Journal:
It happened because during my first year at Berkeley I arrived late one day at one of [Jerzy] Neyman’s classes. On the blackboard there were two problems that I assumed had been assigned for homework. I copied them down. A few days later I apologized to Neyman for taking so long to do the homework — the problems seemed to be a little harder than usual. I asked him if he still wanted it. He told me to throw it on his desk. I did so reluctantly because his desk was covered with such a heap of papers that I feared my homework would be lost there forever. About six weeks later, one Sunday morning about eight o’clock, [my wife] Anne and I were awakened by someone banging on our front door. It was Neyman. He rushed in with papers in hand, all excited: “I’ve just written an introduction to one of your papers. Read it so I can send it out right away for publication.” For a minute I had no idea what he was talking about. To make a long story short, the problems on the blackboard that I had solved thinking they were homework were in fact two famous unsolved problems in statistics. That was the first inkling I had that there was anything special about them.
. . .
George Dantzig passed away at his Stanford home at age 90 on 13 May 2005.
This is way cool in and of itself. Also mentioned in the text is Donald Knuth, computer scientist extraordinaire and author of perhaps the most widely read computer science book, The Art of Computer Programming. This book probably trained the majority of our current programmers. We mention this for two reasons. First, we hung out with his daughter once when she was living with friends of ours here. Second, there was an article in the May-June American Scientist (should be open access) that mentioned something Knuth had done:
During a decade’s labor on the TeX typesetting system, he kept a meticulous log of all his errors, and then he published the list with a detailed commentary.
Back to archaeology
Programs on the Discovery Channel and PBS have sparked fresh interest in the prehistoric peopling of the New World. Now, for the first time, we have a realistic estimate of how many ancients made that ice age trek across the long-lost land bridge from Asia to become the first Native Americans.
Jody Hey, a professor of genetics at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, has developed a computational method that uses genetic information to create models of population divergence – where a group has split off from its ancestral population to pursue its own destiny.
In a paper appearing in the June 2005 issue of PLoS (Public Library of Science) Biology, Hey disclosed his findings. “The estimated effective size of the founding population for the New World is about 70 individuals,” Hey said. “Calculations also showed that this represents approximately 1 percent of the effective size of the estimated ancestral Asian population.”
Could be interesting how this plays out with the archaeologists working on pre-Clovis remains. The one documented pre-Clovis site (Monte Verde) dates to only 12,500, but there are others that claim to be even earlier (we’ve blogged about one here, but darned if we can remember which one it is at the moment). More will no doubt follow.
Remote sensing update New city search for Roman remains
A £47,500 project using 21st-century technology could lead the way to new discoveries of ancient remains in the Chichester area.
It may help establish for the first time whether a Roman fort is buried away somewhere close to or in the city, as well as highlighting areas which archaeologists should be focussing on.
Chichester is one of 30 historic English towns chosen to make a detailed computer record of their complex archaeology.
Apart from its implications for archaeological discovery, the so-called ‘intensive urban study’ is intended to help with giving planning advice on the heritage implications of new developments, and on the management of the historic environment.
That’s the whole thing. Too bad they don’t say exactly what they’ll be using.
See? Shoulda left him on ice Bacteria Eating Away at Otzi the Iceman?
Ötzi the Iceman, the world’s oldest and best-preserved mummy, could be at risk of decomposition, according to the latest tests on the 5,300-year-old mummy.
Eduard Egarter Vigl, Ötzi’s official caretaker, said that X-rays show suspicious grey spots on one knee.
“We noticed that these spots change aspect over time. This would indicate the formation of air or gas bubbles inside the tibia. And we know that gas is produced by bacteria,” he said at a recent conference at the South Tyrol Archaeological Museum in Bolzano, Italy, where the mummy is kept.
We say that somewhat facetiously, of course. OTOH, it does allude to the all-too-common problem of curation we face these days.
Stone-Age Fashion update Exotic Deer Teeth a ‘Must’ for Stone Age Ladies
Grave goods found with the remains of a woman nicknamed the Lady of Saint-Germain-la-Rivière, who lived approximately 15,570 years ago in France, suggest rare animal teeth served as Stone Age status symbols that were comparable in value to todayâ€™s expensive jewelry and designer duds.
The find indicates that people within hunter-gatherer societies from the Upper Paleolithic may not have viewed everyone as a social equal, but instead recognized privilege and prestige.
The research, funded by the European Science Foundation, appears in the current Journal of Anthropological Archaeology.
Artists’ conception of what a fashionable Upper Paleolithic woman may have looked like: