Cosmic Science

Check out the oldest known painting of an animal

Archaeologists say they’ve found the oldest known artistic depiction of a natural creature — a painting of a warty pig that’s at least 45,500 years old, found inside a cave on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi.

“The Sulawesi warty pig painting we found in the limestone cave of Leang Tedongnge is now the earliest known representational work of art in the world, as far as are aware,” study co-author Adam Brumm of Griffith University’s Australian Research Centre for Human Evolution said today in a news release.

Brumm and his colleagues discovered the painting during an expedition in 2017. It’s part of a scene that appears to show three or four animals facing off against each other on the cave wall.

The painting’s age — reported in Science Advances, an open-access journal — was estimated by using a uranium-series dating technique on mineral deposits that formed over the painting. The researchers behind the find say the artwork could be thousands of years older.

In any case, the reported minimum age beats out the previous record for representational art, which was held by a 44,000-year-old hunting scene found by the same research team in a different Sulawesi cave. The better-known paintings in France’s Chauvet Cave are thought to be a mere 32,000 years old.


Indonesian airline wants to cancel 737 MAX order

Garuda 737 MAX
An artist’s conception shows a Garuda Airlines 737 MAX jet in flight. (Boeing Illustration)

Indonesia’s national airline, Garuda Indonesia, is saying it wants to cancel an order for 49 Boeing 737 MAX 8 jets, citing the effect of two catastrophic crashes on passenger confidence.

The order, announced in 2014, has a list-price value of roughly $6 billion. Only one of the 50 MAX jets ordered back then has been delivered to date.

In interviews with media outlets including ReutersThe Associated PressThe Washington PostCNNThe New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, Garuda officials cited consumers’ low confidence in the 737 MAX in the wake of crashes that killed 189 people in Indonesia last October, and 157 people in Ethiopia this month.

“Many passengers told us they were afraid to get on a MAX 8,” Reuters quoted Garuda CEO Aria Askhara as saying.

Garuda’s request hints at the economic impact that the crashes could have going forward. Boeing’s 737 MAX jets have been grounded worldwide as the crash investigations continue.

Get the full story on GeekWire.


Lion Air 737 crash probe focuses on faulty sensor

Lion Air 737 MAX jet
An artist’s conception shows the Boeing 737 MAX 8 jet. (Boeing Illustration)

Right from the start of last month’s fatal flight of a Lion Air 737 MAX jet from Indonesia, pilots were struggling with an automatic flight control system that had caused problems during a flight the day before, according to a preliminary investigative report.

The report — based on an analysis of readings from the jet’s flight data recorder, or “black box” — says the pilots on the Oct. 29 flight fought for 10 minutes to keep the Boeing jet’s nose from being pushed downward. But they lost the struggle against the automatic system, known as the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System or MCAS. The 737 MAX 8 crashed into the Java Sea, killing all 189 people aboard.

Get the full story on GeekWire.