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FW: 8/14/2003 Daily Report from The Chronicle of Higher Education

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  • Popplestone, Ann
    ... From: The Chronicle [mailto:daily@chronicle.com] Sent: Thursday, August 14, 2003 5:00 AM To: Chronicle Daily Report Subject: 8/14/2003 Daily Report from
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 14 7:18 AM
      -----Original Message-----
      From: The Chronicle [mailto:daily@...]
      Sent: Thursday, August 14, 2003 5:00 AM
      To: Chronicle Daily Report
      Subject: 8/14/2003 Daily Report from The Chronicle of Higher Education

      ACADEME TODAY: The Chronicle of Higher Education's
      Daily Report for subscribers

      Good day!

      Here are news bulletins from The Chronicle of Higher Education for
      Thursday, August 14.

      * [snip]


      BOUQUET OF HISTORY: Blending chemistry and archaeology, a
      researcher unearths the possible origins of winemaking.
      --> SEE http://chronicle.com/weekly/v49/i49/49a01601.htm



      A glance at the August issue of "Scientific American": Entranced with
      the oracle at Delphi

      According to tradition, the oracle at Delphi worked this way: In
      an underground room in the temple of Apollo, a specially trained
      woman would sit on a tripod placed over a fissure in the bedrock
      through which a gas escaped, putting her in a trance. She would
      then answer questions for guests who waited in the next room.

      At the beginning of the last century, when archaeologists failed
      to find a large fissure or detect any gases at the temple, the
      tradition was dismissed as myth by many scholars. However, new
      evidence supports the ancient accounts, write four scientists
      who investigated the site as a team: Jelle De Boer, a professor
      of geology at Wesleyan University; Jeff Chanton, a chemist and
      professor of oceanography at Florida State University; John
      Hale, an archaeologist and director of liberal studies at the
      University of Louisville; and Rick Spiller, director of the
      Kentucky Regional Poison Center.

      While there is no large fissure, there are cracks in the
      limestone, which the scientists say are the result of two fault
      lines that cross at the temple's site. Friction from movement
      along the fault lines heated chemicals in the limestone, causing
      methane, ethane, and ethylene to bubble up in spring water as a
      gas, the team says. Ethylene, which has a sweet odor like the
      one ancient writers reported smelling at the site, can produce a
      light trancelike state in which an exposed person is conscious
      and can answer questions, the authors write.

      The fact that modern observations support ancient ones has
      deepened the team's respect for the ancient Greeks and their
      willingness to approach religious and scientific issues in a
      "broad-minded and interdisciplinary" way, they write.

      The article is available online at

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