Bible Bombshell: 5 Most Incredible Discoveries of the Week
Including clues at an ancient burial site and a look at brains on LSD
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 16, 2016 5:16 AM CDT
Letters inscribed on pottery, known as ostracons, which were unearthed in an excavation of a fort in Arad, Israel, and dated to about 600 BC.   (AP Photo/Dan Balilty)
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(Newser) – A mysterious find near the Dead Sea and hand-washing help make the list:

  • Ancient Letters Reveal Bible Bombshell: A cryptic command written on pottery excavated near the Dead Sea not only shows soldiers liked to drink in the Kingdom of Judah around 600BC: It might also push back the date of the Old Testament. In analyzing 16 letters on pottery found at a fort in Arad, Israel, researchers IDed six authors, who "wrote well, with hardly any mistakes." Here's why that matters so much.
  • Scientists Wowed by First Look at Brain on LSD: After taking the first-ever look at how the brain functions on LSD, Imperial College, London researchers sound nearly as enthusiastic about the drug as Timothy Leary. Senior researcher David Nutt says scientists have "waited 50 years for this moment," in which for the first time, "we can really see what's happening in the brain during the psychedelic state." And so in scanning the brains of 20 volunteers on the drug, here's what they discovered.

  • There's a Better Way to Wash Your Hands: If you wash your hands by grabbing some soap, rubbing your hands together for 20 seconds or so, then rinsing, you're doing it all wrong (in terms of optimal bacteria removal). After observing the hand-washing techniques of doctors and nurses, scientists say the WHO's six-step technique reduces bacteria by 21%, compared to the 6% via the three-step technique described here. Here's how much longer it will take to do it the "right" way.
  • What Were Laos' Huge Stone Jars Used For?: The recent discovery of an ancient burial site could help unravel the mystery of the Plain of Jars—a region in central Laos that's littered with thousands of stone jars. There are more than 90 jar sites (some with up to 400 of the stone vessels) scattered over hundreds of square miles, with jars up to 10 feet in height and weighing up to 10 tons. Researchers now say they've unearthed human remains estimated to be 2,500 years old, which hint at a gruesome use for the jars.
  • Common Thyroid Cancer Isn't Cancer Anymore: A group of 24 doctors from seven countries just reclassified a certain type of thyroid tumor as no longer cancerous. That might not seem like that big of a big deal, but it is. "To my knowledge, this is the first time in the modern era a type of cancer is being reclassified as a non-cancer," says senior investigator Dr. Yuri Nikiforov. And that move could have a significant impact.
Click to read about more discoveries.