17 articles from SUNDAY 6.10.2019

Israel unveils remains of 5,000-year-old cityIsraeli archaeologists on Sunday unveiled the remains of a 5,000-year-old city they said was among the biggest from its era in the region, including fortifications, a ritual temple and a cemetery. "We have here an immense urban construction, planned with streets that separate neighbourhoods and public spaces," Yitzhak Paz of the Israel Antiquities Authority told AFP at the site near the Mediterranean in the country's centre. The archaeological site known as En Esur "is the largest site and the most important from that era" in the region, said Itai Elad, another archaeologist overseeing the excavation.

Once associated with Medusa’s head, this is one of few stars the naked eye can see changing brightness

This week offers northern hemisphere observers a good opportunity to see a variable star in action. Algol is located in the constellation of Perseus and is one of only a few stars that can be seen to change brightness with the naked eye. This extraordinary characteristic led our ancestors to associate it with the severed head of the gorgon Medusa being held in Perseus’s hand. The name Algol derives from an Arabic word that translates into ghoul or demon. Algol’s brightness changes because there is a smaller, dimmer star in orbit around it. Every 2.87 days, that smaller star passes in front of its larger, brighter companion, blocking out some of its light. From beginning to end, these eclipses last for about 10 hours. The chart shows the view looking east at 20.55 GMT on 8 October. At this time, Algol will be in mid-eclipse and its brightness will be less than half its normal value. Over the next five hours, it will return to full brightness.

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Rorie Fulton on combating unwitting support for populists, and Richard Bryden on civic spaces that facilitate ‘reasoned conversation’

George Monbiot makes a telling link between individuals’ affective state and the unwitting support we lend to demagogues (Journal, 3 October). In their fascinating book The Boy who was Raised as a Dog, Bruce Perry and Maia Szalavitz develop this notion of state-dependent functioning and apply it to organisations. In what feels like an increasingly apt commentary on events unfolding in the institutions of democracy both at home and abroad, Perry and Szalavitz write that “the more out of control the external situation is, the more controlling, reactive and oppressive the internally focused actions of [the] group will become”.

Seeking to offer a path forward that will break this spiral, Monbiot rightly calls for us to restore the mental state that allows us to think. For each of us as individuals, what might this involve? In the language of Stephen Porges’s polyvagal theory, such a restoration entails moving from a state of dysregulation to one of regulation. This means making time in the day for activities of self-care that provide regulating sensory input. For some, this will include listening to their favourite music, doing half an hour’s yoga or going for a run, while for others it will be a cup of coffee and a piece of crunchy toast for breakfast, time spent outside, or a hot bath when the children have gone to bed.

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First All-Female Spacewalk Is Back On, NASA SaysThe first spacewalk to be conducted entirely by women is scheduled for Oct. 21, NASA announced, nearly seven months after an all-female spacewalk was canceled because two properly fitted spacesuits were not readily available.Christina Koch and Anne McClain, the two astronauts who were scheduled to conduct the spacewalk in March, both needed a medium-size torso component, but only one was available.The spacewalk did take place -- it just wasn't all-female. Koch conducted the six-hour mission with fellow astronaut Nick Hague.McClain, whose domestic dispute sparked what is believed to be the first criminal case in space, returned to Earth in June after orbiting the planet more than 3,000 times in 204 days. Summer Worden, McClain's spouse, accused the astronaut of identity theft and improper access to her private financial records from space.Koch will now set out with astronaut Jessica Meir this month on the first women-only venture outside the International Space Station. They are set to install lithium-ion batteries to better serve the station's power supply.It will be the fourth of 10 spacewalks scheduled for the next three months, which might set a record pace of complex spacewalks since the space station was completed in 2011, NASA said."I think it's important because of the historical nature of what we're doing and in the past, women haven't always been at the table," Koch said on NASA TV. "And it's wonderful to be contributing to the human spaceflight program at a time when all contributions are being accepted."Koch and Meir were part of the 2013 astronaut class. Of the eight people in that class -- chosen from more than 6,000 applicants -- half were women, a first for NASA. The agency lists 38 active astronauts on its website; 12 are women.The first five scheduled spacewalks will upgrade the space station's power systems and the last five, planned for November and December, will repair the alpha magnetic spectrometer, which analyzes cosmic ray events.Koch, who arrived on the space station in March, is on her way to set a record for the longest single spaceflight by a woman, surpassing Peggy Whitson, who in April became the American with the most overall space time."It's an honor to follow in Peggy's footsteps," Koch said. "I hope that me being up here and giving my best every day is a way for me to say thank you to people like her, who not only paved the way through their examples, but actively reached out to make sure we could be successful."Koch is scheduled to remain in orbit until February. Her mission will provide researchers time to observe the effects of long-duration spaceflight on a woman's body, which will help support missions to the moon and Mars, according to NASA."What we're doing now shows all of the work that went in for the decades prior, all of the women that worked to get us where we are today," Meir, who arrived on the space station in September, said on NASA TV.Meir said she does not think a lot about being one of two women on the space station."It's just normal," she said. "We're part of the team."This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2019 The New York Times Company