5 Most Incredible Discoveries of the Week

Including a promising development for those with pacemaker trouble

By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff

Posted Jul 19, 2014 5:22 AM CDT

(Newser) – A mysterious-sounding crater and a black that's so black you can't see it highlight this week's list:

  • Mystery Crater Spotted Near 'End of the World': It's tailor-made for crazy conspiracy theories: A mysterious crater has formed in a part of Siberia known as the "end of the world." Video of the 260-foot-wide hole has caused such a stir that a team of Russian scientists was busy trying to determine its origins and, alas, debunk some of the more imaginative theories.
  • Scientists Create 'Super Black' That Our Eye Can't See: Imagine an object so black that you could stare right at it and see nothing at all. That object can now exist, thanks to a British nanotechnology company. Surrey Nanosystems has created a new "super black" coating that absorbs 99.96% of light, which is to say, all light the human eye can detect.

  • Gene Injection Gives Pigs 'Biological Pacemakers': A promising experiment on pigs could help people having problems with electronic pacemakers. Researchers at the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute injected genes into the hearts of pigs with irregular heartbeats, reprogramming regular heart cells into "biological pacemaker" cells that temporarily restored a normal heartbeat.
  • Elephant Ancestor's Bones Offer a Surprise: North America's prehistoric Clovis people were known hunters of large mammoths and mastodons. But a dig in Mexico suggests that another elephant ancestor, the smaller gomphothere, may also have fallen prey to the hunter-gatherers. Until now, there was no evidence that gomphotheres roamed North America recently enough to interact with humans, and the discovery may change our thinking of when and where the Clovis people lived.
  • Some People Ignored Writing for Thousands of Years: What if people still used typewriters in the year 4,000? Or wrote with a stone and chisel today? That's roughly the equivalent of what archaeologists discovered in Turkey, where a dig dating to 600 to 900 BC turned up clay tokens alongside cuneiform tablets. The find showed that ancient Assyrians were using the variously shaped tokens as part of a bookkeeping system centuries after writing was invented in around 3,000 BC.
Click to read about more discoveries, including one about our ever-growing feet.

This frame grab  shows a crater discovered in Siberia's Yamal Peninsula.
This frame grab shows a crater discovered in Siberia's Yamal Peninsula.   (AP Photo/Associated Press Television)
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