5 Most Incredible Discoveries of the Week
Including an explanation of why tomato juice tastes better on airplanes
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 11, 2014 5:30 AM CDT
File photo of the Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona.   (AP Photo/National Park Service)

(Newser) – Another ancient village in Arizona and a forensics discovery about Descartes are on the list:

  • 2 Ancient Villages Emerge in Arizona National Park: Another ancient village has popped up in Arizona's Petrified Forest National Park—the second such find in as many years. The villages are some 1,300 years old, dating from between AD200 and AD700. Archaeologists say they discovered homes known as pit-houses dug into the sand dunes, with floors and walls lined with sandstone; each village is said to have "probably more than 50 structures" like this.

  • Forensics Fanatic Finds Secret in Descartes' Skull: French mathematician and father of modern philosophy Rene Descartes is perhaps most famous for his phrase "I think, therefore I am." Now a French medical anthropologist and forensic expert wants everyone to ponder this: He's found something intriguing in the skull of the great thinker, who died in Stockholm in 1650 at the age of 54. The scientist was able to gain access to the skull, run some diagnostics, and compile a 3-D image.
  • Sunken 'Titanic' of the Ancient World' Even Bigger Than Previously Thought: As wrecks go, the one that gave up the 2,000-year-old Antikythera mechanism has long been considered a remarkable one. It just got even more remarkable after archaeologists who emerged from an extended underwater excavation off the coast of southern Greece shared some new finds. Among the discoveries: The ship may have been as long as 160 feet. Divers came across some other fascinating artifacts, like a bronze spear, and the BBC has its own theory about where the ship was going when it went under.
  • Why Tomato Juice Tastes Better on Planes: Tomato juice: It's not something many people crave on land, but in the sky, it's hugely popular. Germany's Lufthansa airline, for instance, has said it serves some 53,000 gallons of tomato juice per year—not so far off from its 59,000 gallons of beer in a beer-drinking country. So what makes the drink more appealing up high? It has to do with how cabin pressure changes the oxygen in our blood, which affects how we taste things.
  • Scientists Close In on Lab-Grown Human Penis: Bio-penises aren't just for guys with vengeful, knife-wielding partners. Genetic defects, penile cancer surgery, trauma, and even erectile dysfunction are all reasons a sizable number of men might opt for a penis handcrafted by scientists. A team of researchers at the Wake Forest School of Medicine has already done it with rabbits, and they've spent the past six years scaling up so that a human patient might soon have a penis made from his very own cells.
Click to read about more discoveries, including evidence of some form of life after death (or at least clinical death).