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Gnawing on a hunk of meat as he sits by the fire, Stone Age man has always been viewed as the classic carnivore.

But new research suggests that a caveman’s diet may have been far more balanced and that he ate bread at least 30,000 years ago.

The prehistoric hunters did not only rely on animals for their diet and also dined on processed plant-based foods, according to a new study.

Powerful microscopes discovered traces of starch grains on grinding stones recovered from archaeological sites in Italy, Russia and the Czech Republic.

Grains were thought to have been largely ignored by Stone Age humans, at least in part because they were difficult to process.

But the stones’ wear patterns suggest they were used for grinding roots and grains in a manner similar to a pestle 18,000 years before that, according to Dr Anna Revedin and colleagues.

Grain residues on the stones seem to originate from mostly cattail and fern plants which are rich in starch – a dense source of carbohydrates and energy.

Researchers generally assume Palaeolithic European human diets consisted almost entirely of animal protein and fat, with rare plant consumption.

Dr Revedin, of the Italian Institute of Prehistory and Early History in Florence, said: ‘The discovery of grain and plant residues on grinding stones at the three sites suggests plant-based food processing, and possibly flour production, was common and widespread across Europe at least 30,000 years ago.’

Establishing these primitive people were processing plants rather intensively reinforces recent research that their diets were as a whole much more diverse than is generally believed.

‘It’s like a flatbread, like a pancake with just water and flour,” said Laura Longo, a researcher on the team, from the Italian Institute of Prehistory and Early History.

‘You make a kind of pita and cook it on the hot stone,’ she said, describing how the team replicated the cooking process. The end product was ‘crispy like a cracker but not very tasty,’ she added.

Grinding plant matter into flour is time consuming – as is making the tools to do it – to produce high energy food rich in carbohydrates that was easily storable and transportable.

The inclusion of cereals in our diet is considered an important step in human evolution because of the technical complexity and the culinary manipulation that are required to turn grains into staples.

The researchers said: ‘European Paleolithic populations are generally considered to have been predominantly carnivorous, because the evidence for plant subsistence is limited.

‘We are now able to add evidence for plant food processing, on the basis of the recovery of flour residues on coarse heavy-duty tools across Europe up to 30,000 years ago.

‘The flour would have undergone a multistep processing involving root peeling, drying and finally grinding using specific tools. After this, the flour needed to be cooked to obtain a suitable and digestible food.

‘Studies of current human diets suggest cooking is essential because raw food, as such, cannot supply sufficient calories.’

The findings are published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Drivers control 4×4 from their living room

Posted by arnon_k On October - 18 - 2010 ADD COMMENTS

Mitsubishi lets customers test-drive 4×4 from their own living room over the internet

It looks like something straight out of Top Gear.

But Mitsubishi has become the first car firm in the world to allow customers to test drive a model over the internet after turning their latest SUV into a life-sized remote control car.

The Japanese motoring giant has used pioneering technology to allow users to pilot the Outlander Sport 4×4 from the comfort of their homes.

Mitsubishi has employed remote control technology to develop the 1:1 replica ‘boy’s toy’ with a fully-working engine. The £14,000 car’s speed will be capped at 30 mph, however.

The motoring giant claims that participants in its ‘Live Test Drive’ scheme will have ‘almost total control’ over the 148 horse power vehicle as they steer it around a closed course in California using only their keyboards.

The video game-style test drive is the first of its kind, beaming a windscreen view from the car’s front seat back onto computer screens at home.

The company has equipped the four wheel drive crossover with remote control hardware including levers, cameras and GPS trackers.

A spokesperson for the project said: ‘We see this as part of the ever-expanding blur between the virtual world and the physical world. It is a prime example of how technology continues to evolve the way we approach even the simplest experiences, like test-driving a car.’

Vice President of Mitsubishi Marketing, Gregory Adams, said: ‘We have worked hard to devise a truly innovative marketing campaign utilising cutting-edge technologies to recreate a genuine Mitsubishi experience that engages consumers.’

However some people are less convinced. Motoring aficionado Quentin Wilson said: ‘Broadly, it’s a good idea, and if it stops people having to trail round showrooms on a rainy Saturday afternoon then it’s got to help.

‘It’s going to be much more interesting than a salesman droning on at you and being stuck in rush hour traffic.

‘It might be a starting point, but it will never, never, never replace the feel, the touch, the sensation of actually being in the car, but you will get a general feel of the size, shape and environment.

‘It’s a nice idea and good PR, but salesmen and dealers need not lose any sleep over it just yet.’

Anyone hoping to pick the kids up from school without leaving their front room may have to wait – test drives don’t start until November 1st, and registration is currently only open to holders of U.S. driving licences.

iPhone’s new app “UGLY METER”

Posted by arnon_k On October - 18 - 2010 9 COMMENTS

Ugly Meter: The 59p iPhone app that tells you how good-looking (or not) you are

It is perhaps the answer to every model agency talent scout’s dream.

A new iPhone app has been launched that claims to be able to tell you how ugly, or not, somebody is.

The Ugly Meter app lets users take a photo of a person’s face and then ‘analyses’ its contours in real-time before displaying a score out of ten. The higher the score, the uglier the face.

Cheryl managed a respectable 4.2 out of ten but still won't be happy with the results....

... but at least she beat her X Factor rival Danni who almost hit the top Ugly score

An on-screen grid helps the user line up the picture for best results and, moments after the picture is snapped the app’s caustic judgment is displayed on the screen.

And when tested on the faces of some of the world’s most glamorous celebrities the results were a little controversial, to say the least.

In a head-to-head battle between fellow X- Factor judges Cheryl Cole and Dannii Minogue it was the former Girls Aloud star who came out on top.

She scored a respectable 4.2 which prompted the acerbic put down: ‘Wow you’re ugly, is your doctor a vet?’
But Dannii’s face fared even worse, scoring a terrible 9.8 out of ten and was told: ‘You’re so ugly, you could make a glass eye cry.’

While it is obviously just a light-hearted bit of fun, there are some who may take issue with the Ugly Meter’s judgment of curvaceous TV star Christina Hendricks.

Christina Hendricks might be an object of lust to millions but she didn't impress the app

But Angelina Jolie received an almost perfect score and was rated 'hot

Despite the being the object of lust for millions of men across the world, the Mad Men actress’ pale-faced beauty did not impress the gadget’s scanner as she scored an top ‘ugliness’ score of ten out of ten.

However the Ugly Meter was rather more complimentary about Angelina Jolie, who scored an almost-perfect 2 out of ten which earned her the admiring phrase: ‘You’re so hot you make the sun jealous.’

But there was bad news for her husband Brad Pitt, who was beaten by David Cameron. The Prime Minister might not be everyone’s idea of a chisel-jawed hunk but he still managed to outpoint Brad by a single point.

The app costs 99p to download from Apple’s App Store and requires 5.5MB of free space on the iPhone to work.

It was developed by app designers The Dapper Gentlemen.

David Cameron didn't score particularly well - but he can take comfort from the fact that he managed to outpoint Brad Pitt

Man will need two Earths by 2030

Posted by arnon_k On October - 15 - 2010 ADD COMMENTS

Humans ‘using one and a half planets’ worth of resources and will need two Earths by 2030′

Human demands on natural resources have doubled in under 50 years and are now outstripping what the Earth can provide by more than half, a new report has warned.

And humanity carries on as it is in use of resources, globally it will need the capacity of two Earths by 2030, the biennial Living Planet Report said.

Wildlife in tropical countries is also under huge pressure, with populations of species falling by 60 per cent in three decades.

And the report, from the WWF, the Zoological Society of London and the Global Footprint Network, said British people are still consuming far more than the Earth can cope with.

If everyone lived such a lifestyle, humans would need 2.75 planets to survive, it warned.

The world’s people are now living lifestyles which would require one and a half planets to sustain, though there are significant differences between rich and poor nations.

The study’s authors looked at 8,000 populations of 2,500 species and studied the change in land use and water consumption across the globe.

The UK comes 31st in a list of countries based on their ‘ecological footprint’ – the amount of land and sea each person needs to provide the food, clothes and other products they consume and to absorb the carbon dioxide they emit.

The country has fallen down the league table from having the 15th biggest footprint in the last report two years ago, but WWF attributes this to an increase in other countries’ impact rather than a reduction in the UK’s use of resources.

Ireland has the 10th highest ecological footprint in the world, while the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Denmark, Belgium and the US are the five worst countries for over-consumption of resources.

Much of the ‘ecological overshoot’ is caused by the world’s rising carbon footprint, which has increased 11-fold since 1961.

It also carried a warning about the loss of wildlife and ecosystems which people depend on for food, fuel, clean water and other resources – with populations of species declining by 30 per cent worldwide between 1970 and 2007.

In tropical regions the decline is 60 per cent, but populations have recovered by 30% in temperate areas, where more rich countries are found, possibly due to those nations starting from a lower baseline and efforts to tackle pollution, improve air and water quality, increase forests and conserve wildlife.

The steepest declines in wildlife are happening in low-income countries, which the report warns has serious implications for people depending on those ecosystems as they will struggle to break out of poverty without access to clean water, land, adequate food and materials.

The biggest ecological footprint is made by rich countries – on average five times that found in developing nations – suggesting that unsustainable consumption in wealthier countries relies on depleting resources in poorer parts of the world.

The report also looks at how changes in diet and energy sources could affect humanity’s ecological impact, for example the pressure put on land for food and forest products.

The study suggests that if the expected global population of 9.2 billion people in 2050 were to eat a typical Malaysian diet, we would need 1.3 planets to sustain us but if everyone were to eat an Italian diet, humanity would need closer to two planets.

The report is released ahead of international talks in Nagoya, Japan, next week, which aim to address losses in biodiversity – species and ecosystems – being seen around the world.

David Nussbaum, chief executive of WWF-UK said: ‘The loss of biodiversity and habitats undermines the natural systems upon which we depend for the food we eat, the air we breathe and the stable climate we need.

‘The depletion of natural resources caused by human consumption also poses risks to our economic security: for instance, scarcity of resources and degraded natural systems will increase the price of food, raw materials and other commodities.’

He urged action by the Government, businesses and people in the UK to ‘fundamentally rethink our relationship with the planet’.

He said: ‘This report shows that we need a new green economy which assigns genuine value to the benefits we get from nature: biodiversity, the natural systems which provide goods and services like water, and ultimately our own well-being.

‘The new coalition Government can take a lead by putting green investment and real sustainability at the heart of its decision-making.’

Mathis Wackernagel, president of the Global Footprint Network, which has developed the ecological footprint measure, said: ‘Countries that maintain high levels of resource dependence are putting their own economies at risk.

‘Those countries that are able to provide the highest quality of life on the lowest amount of ecological demand will not only serve the global interest, they will be the leaders in a resource-constrained world.’