Category Archive 'Ethiopia'

21 Dec 2013

Who Made These?

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Dr. Yonatan Sahle, leader of a team who found stone tools older than expected, stands in front of an outcrop where artifacts were found.

Motherboard Vice

Ancient stone-tipped javelins found in Ethiopia have scientists raising eyebrows thanks to an odd dating conundrum. The javelins were recently carbon-dated to around 280,000 years ago. Pretty old, right? There’s only one problem:​ The earliest fossils of modern Homo sapiens are from around 195,000 years ago. With an 80,000 year gap, you have to ask: Who made them?

The discovery could mean one of two things: that our species is much older than archaeologists once thought, or, more likely, that another species before us was intelligent enough to make and use these kind of projectile weapons

Read the whole thing.

Hat tip to Fred Lapides.

01 Nov 2012

Maybe They Should Try This in American Inner City Public Schools

, , has a story of an educational experiment confirming the optimistic point of view with respect to human curiosity and ingenuity.

What happens if you give a thousand Motorola Zoom tablet PCs to Ethiopian kids who have never even seen a printed word? Within five months, they’ll start teaching themselves English while circumventing the security on your OS to customize settings and activate disabled hardware. Whoa. …

Rather than give out laptops (they’re actually Motorola Zoom tablets plus solar chargers running custom software) to kids in schools with teachers, the OLPC Project decided to try something completely different: it delivered some boxes of tablets to two villages in Ethiopia, taped shut, with no instructions whatsoever. Just like, “hey kids, here’s this box, you can open it if you want, see ya!”

Just to give you a sense of what these villages in Ethiopia are like, the kids (and most of the adults) there have never seen a word. No books, no newspapers, no street signs, no labels on packaged foods or goods. Nothing. And these villages aren’t unique in that respect; there are many of them in Africa where the literacy rate is close to zero. So you might think that if you’re going to give out fancy tablet computers, it would be helpful to have someone along to show these people how to use them, right?

But that’s not what OLPC did. They just left the boxes there, sealed up, containing one tablet for every kid in each of the villages (nearly a thousand tablets in total), pre-loaded with a custom English-language operating system and SD cards with tracking software on them to record how the tablets were used. Here’s how it went down, as related by OLPC founder Nicholas Negroponte at MIT Technology Review’s EmTech conference last week:

    “We left the boxes in the village. Closed. Taped shut. No instruction, no human being. I thought, the kids will play with the boxes! Within four minutes, one kid not only opened the box, but found the on/off switch. He’d never seen an on/off switch. He powered it up. Within five days, they were using 47 apps per child per day. Within two weeks, they were singing ABC songs [in English] in the village. And within five months, they had hacked Android. Some idiot in our organization or in the Media Lab had disabled the camera! And they figured out it had a camera, and they hacked Android.”
30 Dec 2005

The Lost Ark

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Ark Chapel
The true resting place of the Lost Ark?

The Telegraph reports:

If Indiana Jones had done his homework, he would have found the Ark of the Covenant by raiding a church in the barren mountains of northern Ethiopia.

Many Ethiopians believe that the Ark, containing the stone tablets inscribed with God’s Ten Commandments, rests in the church of St Mary of Zion, at the town of Axum, and some western scholars have endorsed this national myth as true.

The story underpins the country’s sense of identity. Ethiopia believes itself to be a unique nation with an ancient Christian tradition. This fervent patriotism has led Ethiopia into a perilous military confrontation with neighbouring Eritrea.


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