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Virtual world depicts evolution of universe

Scientists have come up with the best computer model yet of the universe. This new virtual cosmos created by U.S., German and English researchers includes details never before achieved in a simulation.

Called Illustris, the numerical-based model covers the 13 billion-year evolution of the universe beginning just 12 million years after the Big Bang, or creation. And it accurately depicts the distribution and composition of various types of galaxies.

Illustris was developed by a team led by astrophysicist Mark Vogelsberger of Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It’s described in the May 8 issue of the journal Nature.

The Illustris creators say it represents “a significant step forward in modeling galaxy formation.” They attribute their success to advanced computer power.

– Associated Press

Ancient hunting blinds found in Lake Huron

A 9,000-year-old stone structure used to capture caribou has been discovered 120 feet beneath the surface of Lake Huron. Researchers say it is the most complex structure of its kind in the Great Lakes region.

“The only evidence we’re going to find of this kind is underwater,” said John O’Shea, an anthropological archaeologist at the University of Michigan who led the project. “If it had existed anywhere on land, it would have been disturbed by farming.”

The remarkable structure consists of a lane with two parallel lines of stones leading to a cul-de-sac. Within the lines are three circular hunting blinds where prehistoric hunters hid while taking aim at caribou.

The structure’s size and design suggest that hunting was probably a group effort, with one group of hunters shepherding the caribou toward the blinds while another group waited to attack, O’Shea said.

The site was discovered using sonar technology on the Alpena-Amberley Ridge, 35 miles southeast of Alpena, Mich., which was once a dry land corridor connecting northeastern Michigan to southern Ontario.

In their paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers suggest that the hunting structure was used in the spring, when large groups of hunter-gatherers assembled.

The researchers are now looking for remnants of campsites, which might provide more information about these groups of people.

– New York Times