A very warm welcome to Laura, Paul, Vicki, Lazlo, Jason and Ashley, all of whom have recently joined us here at Middle-earth Reunion.
White Tree Fund update
The White Tree Fund has been organized as a response to the needs of tsunami and earthquake victims by Tolkien / Lord of the Rings communities around the globe. The scope and magnitude of this disaster underscores our need to work together for the healing and rebuilding of these devastated lives.
The number of individuals, groups and websites supporting the Fund contines to grow and now includes:
As well as the website the WTF organisers are planning a variety of fundraisers including charity auctions, the proceeds going directly to the nominated charities. These are:
Hobbits on the brain
The following was sent in by Katy White who describes herself as "a previously silent MeR member". Thanks Katy! The excerpt is from RoadRunner (www.rr.com).
'Hobbit' Brain Supports Species Theory
Published - Mar 03 2005 02:22PM EST
Scientists working with powerful imaging computers say the spectacular "Hobbit" fossil recently discovered in Indonesia had distinctive brain features that could justify its classification as a separate and tiny human ancestor.
The new report, published Thursday in the online journal Science Express, seems to support the idea of a human dwarf species marooned for eons while modern man spread across the planet. Detractors of the theory, however, said the computer models were unconvincing.
The new research produced a computer-generated model that compared surface impressions on the inside of the fossil skull with brain casts of modern and ancient humans, as well as chimps and other primates. The scientists said the model shows that the 3-foot specimen, nicknamed Hobbit, had a brain unlike anything they had seen before in recent human lineage. The brain is chimplike in size, between 380 and 420 cubic centimeters.
Despite being up to two-thirds smaller than a modern human brain, the Hobbit fossil's brain shared wrinkled surface features with the brains of both modern humans and Homo erectus, tool-making human ancestors that lived more than 1 million years ago, the researchers said. Some of those features are consistent with higher cognitive traits, they report.
At the same time, they said the Hobbit brain was different from the brain of a modern human pygmy or a human with abnormal brain growth.
"This is something new," said Florida State University anthropologist Dean Falk, who led the study. "This discovery has flummoxed the field of anthropology."
In October, scientists from Indonesia and Australia caused an international sensation with their report of a trove of fossils found in a cave on the equatorial island of Flores. As many as seven tiny individuals were represented by the bones in layers that were dated from 95,000 to 12,000 years ago. The Hobbit skeleton was the most complete specimen to be described.
Falk and researchers from Washington University in St. Louis took three-dimensional CT scans of the interior of the Hobbit's skull. Known as virtual endocasts, these computer-manipulated images show the wrinkles, vessels and other surface features that made faint impressions on the skull's lining.
Letters to Peter Jackson
I recently heard from two dedicated fans of the Lord of the Rings film trilogy who are compiling a book of letters of appreciation for the films created by director Peter Jackson and all involved.
"The book is a specially made, plain paged, leather bound hardcover. We plan to fill the book with original contributions from all willing participants, in whatever style or medium of your choice; e-mails, hand written letters, poems, drawings (i.e. sketches and cartoons) photographs etc.
"The subject of your letters can be as varied and unique as you like but no offensive or irrelevant material will be accepted.
"We are traveling to New Zealand this December (2005)/ January (2006) to pass the book on, hopefully, to the man himself. If a meeting with PJ is not possible, than we will pass the book on to him through his associates.
"This is your chance to show your true 'fanship' towards the Lord of the Rings films! To forward your contributions see the addresses below.
"Thank you for your time."
Contact via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Or by mail: LETTERS TO PJ, 33 Cormiston Rd, Riverside, TAS, Australia, 7250.