theoretically...

The missing link between cave drawings and modern writing may have been made with some 10,000-year-old stone carvings from Syria, the New Scientist reported.

The stones, taken from the left bank of the river Euphrates, carry ancient pictograms. Danielle Stordeur of the Institute of Oriental Prehistory near Nimes said the pictograms were an intermediate form of communication - more advanced than stone-age cave drawings but not as advanced as real writing.

The flat, oval rocks depict, among other things, an insect connected to something that looks like an owl, a snake, arrows and zigzags. Stordeur said her group would have to find more carvings to decipher the meaning. The area is due to be flooded next year when the Tichrine dam is built.

A German priest has given scientists a better chance of discovering how Saturn got its rings, when an international space probe starts its seven-year voyage to the planet next year. East German books, rescued from the scrap heap by Martin Weskott, a Lutheran pastor, have provided the recipe for a ceramic material essential to a spectrometer for the Nasa Cassini probe.

Modern ceramics, designed to expand and contract as little as possible, would split apart when bonded to glass if the rates of expansion are not similar, whereas older materials such as magnesium silicate are much more similar.

Forget the Freemasons. A new communications system could turn the handshake from a simple greeting to a sophisticated means of transferring information.

The system under development at IBM's Almaden Research Laboratory in San Jose, California is called a Personal Area Network[PAN]. It turns the human body into an extended transmitter, conducting a tiny modulating electric current so anybody wearing a PAN is able to pass data to another PAN user just by shaking hands.

The PAN could also be used to help communication between electronic devices like pagers, mobile phones and watches or even acting as a security check, ensuring that someone is authorised to take money out of a cash dispenser. The prototype transfers data at a speed of 300 bytes per second - slow by modern technology standards. But the researchers claimed future models would reach 12,500 bytes per second.

Ganymede, Jupiter's largest moon, resembles a "living" planet with an active core creating a clear magnetic field, scientists reported. Measurements made by the Galileo spacecraft as it passed by Ganymede earlier this year showed it emitted radiation that could realistically only come from a liquid metal core like Earth's.

Jupiter's moons have long been seen as being more like Earth than the gas giant they orbit. Many have large amounts of water, some have gaseous atmospheres and active volcanoes. Ganymede's magnetic field is only about a tenth that of Earth but that is much more than Earth's moon has, for example, or Venus or Mars.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: PCV Bus Drivers / Car Movers

£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Do you enjoy bus driving and are looking for ...

Recruitment Genius: Software / Web Developer - ASP.NET

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company produces a wide ra...

Recruitment Genius: Office / Sales Manager

£22000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Established and expanding South...

Recruitment Genius: Administrative Assistant / Order Fulfilment

£14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join a thrivi...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones