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Science Notes /

Laser pulses reveal ancient hidden city

Airborne laser technology has uncovered a network of roadways and canals, illustrating a bustling ancient city linking Cambodia’s famed Angkor Wat temple complex. The discovery was announced June 17 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The laser scanning revealed a previously undocumented, formally planned urban landscape integrating the 1,200-year-old temples.

The Angkor temple complex was constructed in the 12th century during the mighty Khmer empire. Archaeologists had long suspected that the city of Mahendraparvata lay hidden beneath a canopy of dense vegetation atop Phnom Kulen mountain in Siem Reap province. But the airborne lasers produced the first detailed map of a vast cityscape, including highways and previously undiscovered temples.

The laser technology, known as lidar, works by firing laser pulses from an aircraft to the ground and measuring the distance to create a detailed, three-dimensional map of the area. It’s a useful tool for archaeologists because the lasers can penetrate thick vegetation. The lasers indicated that the civilization there eventually collapsed because of deforestation and broken reservoir systems.

– Associated Press

Bout with the flu may affect your IQ

We’ve all been there. A few days at home with the flu and you start to feel a bit, well, dumb. This illness-induced brain fog was long assumed to be purely imaginary, since the body has barriers that protect the brain from infection. But new research indicates that watching daytime reality shows may not be what makes you feel stupid when sick.

According to Discover magazine, researchers have found a possible link between immunity and intelligence: T cells, a type of white blood cell that is key to immune function. These cells not only protect the body against foreign invaders, they also help guard the brain against the body’s own immune response. When new neural connections are made, molecular waste is created. This waste can be mistaken for infection by some immune cells, which then launch an attack and create inflammation around the brain – until T cells near the brain signal them to stand down. But in a body that is fighting the flu or other pathogen, the T cells loosen up. While this allows the other immune cells to fight the illness, it also allows inflammation to affect the brain, temporarily blunting cognitive function.

– Washington Post