5 Most Incredible Discoveries of the Week

Including a potential Alzheimer's breakthrough
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 18, 2014 5:30 AM CDT
5 Most Incredible Discoveries of the Week
This undated photo released by the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities on Nov. 15, 2010, shows an unearthed sphinx statue.   (AP Photo/Supreme Council of Antiquities)

A Hollywood relic and a revelation about Alexander the Great's dad are among the week's top discoveries:

  • Archaeologists Make Giant Find Under California Dunes: Scientists parted the sands in California to excavate one of the last remnants of old-time Hollywood: a giant plaster sphinx from the set of Cecil B. DeMille's The Ten Commandments. The director buried props from the epic 1923 silent movie in the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes after the film wrapped. Among those props: 21 plaster sphinxes that were 12 feet tall and weighed 5 tons each. One scientist thinks he knows why DeMille buried them.
  • If You've Been Wondering Where Alexander the Great's Dad Is Buried ... Wonder no longer. Remains found in an ancient Greek tomb nearly 40 years ago belong to none other than Alexander the Great's father, researchers say. Their evidence: The bones and cremated remains in Vergina show signs of violence that jibe with the life of Macedonian King Philip II, a warrior who lost an eye to an arrow in a 354BC siege. Scientists think they know who the mystery woman buried next to him might be as well.

  • So What Exactly Is 'Alzheimer's in a Dish,' Anyway?: A huge breakthrough in Alzheimer's research, is what it could be—and one that doesn't involve tests on mice. Human brain cells that had formed networks in a petri dish developed the telltale plaques and tangles associated with the disease after genes for Alzheimer's had been added. Using this new system of brain cells in a dish could make it much cheaper and easier to test new anti-Alzheimer's drugs in future experiments. Being able to cut out mice as the middlemen would be useful, too, since successful experiments with rodents have often been deemed ineffective in humans.
  • Rare Iron-Age Chariot Parts Excavated in England: Archaeologists digging around the site of an ancient English community have made what one calls a "once-in-a-career discovery": bronze fittings from a chariot dating back to the Iron Age. The intricately designed pieces were crafted around the second or third century BC and seem to have been buried as part of some kind of religious ritual, perhaps in honor of the nobleman or warrior who would have owned such a chariot.
  • Plants Suck More Than You Think: We mean that in the best possible way: They actually may absorb around 16% more carbon than previously thought, according to new research. University of Texas scientists re-examined climate models and at how CO2 is absorbed by plants and how it spreads inside leaves, coming to the conclusion that plants' absorption capabilities will make it "slightly easier" for us to hit target goals for cutting down global warming.
Click to read about more discoveries. (More discoveries stories.)

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