Thursday, August 25, 2016

Archaeologists Puzzled by 80 Shackled Skeletons in Ancient Greek Grave

Via by Charley Cameron

Archaeologists working at an ancient cemetery in the Falyron Delta necropolis, near Athens, have made a puzzling and eerie discovery. 80 skeletons lay buried neatly and–other than the fact that their wrists are bound with iron shackles–with respect. They are, it’s believed, the victims of a mass execution between the 8th and 5th century BC. But as of yet no one is quite sure who they are and why they were killed.

One thing researchers working at the site are certain of is that the shackled remains do not belong to Ancient Greek slaves; all appear to have been killed in the same manner and at the same time, and the skeletons belong to individuals who were all young and in good health at the time of their execution.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Sea potatoes wash up en masse on Cornish beach

Via by Damien Gayle

With their biomechanical, other-worldly appearance, these orbs look like baseballs reprocessed through the imagination of HR Giger. So their appearance en masse on a beach near Penzance this week left locals uneasy.

“I took one home with me, then panicked and put it in the bin in case it attacked,” said one dog walker who found hundreds on the beach at Long Rock, between Penzance and Marazion. His spaniel refused to go near them, he said.

Others reported finding the objects from Coverack to Looe. Jess Arnieson, 27, who was holidaying in the area, said people were baffled by the orbs. “There were hundreds of them stretching away as far as you could see along the shoreline,” she said. “The ones I saw were a bit smaller than a football but it’s possible there were some that were bigger ... I didn’t want to go any further along the beach.”

Pristine Tyrannosaurus Rex skull found in US dinosaur graveyard

Via by Ian Johnston

A four-foot fossilised head of a Tyrannosaurus rex – along with its dagger-shaped teeth and lower jaw bones – has been excavated in almost pristine condition from the famous Hell Creek site in Montana.

The 66.3-million-year-old skull – described as “very complete” – is one of only 15 virtually intact T rex heads ever found.

So far, bones from the ferocious predator’s spine, ribs and hips have also been found. These make up about 20 per cent of its body, but experts believe there are more bones to be found.

The Hell Creek area is one of the best places in the world to look for dinosaur bones, having yielded up the fossilised remains of triceratops and edmontosaurus among others.

The massive skull was painstakingly cut from the rock and then transported to the Burke Museum in Seattle encased in a protective layer of plaster.

10 Early Forensic Techniques That Solved Murders

Via by Radu Alexander

Even though their portrayals are often inaccurate, TV shows like CSI and Bones have popularized forensics among the general public. Some techniques have proven their worth after hundreds, even thousands, of cases. Newer forensic methods struggle for recognition while older ones are falling out of favor. Regardless, these cases probably wouldn’t have been solved without them.
10. Superimposition
Rachel Dobkin

In April 1941, Harry Dobkin murdered his wife, Rachel, and left her body in the cellar of a London chapel destroyed by the Blitz. He was hoping that she would be classified as another bombing casualty.

Authorities found her over a year later. Unfortunately for Harry, the body was assigned to pioneering pathologist Keith Simpson. He spotted a broken bone in Rachel’s throat, suggesting that she had died of strangulation. He was also able to pinpoint the time of death to 12–15 months prior to her discovery.

Police went through missing persons records and found Rachel Dobkin. She had disappeared around the right time, she was the right age, and her husband worked near the chapel. Using a new technique called superimposition, Simpson compared a photograph of the skull with an antemortem photo of Rachel and got a match. Harry Dobkin was convicted and hanged.

9. Ballistics
St. Valentine’s Day Massacre

In 1929, Al Capone’s men dressed up like cops and gunned down his competition in the notorious St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. But few people know that it helped popularize ballistics.

Calvin Goddard, the “father of ballistics,” had already showed that you can match a bullet to a gun by studying the marks left on the bullet. In 1925, with the help of Phillip Gravelle, Goddard invented the comparison microscope to examine two objects simultaneously, making it much easier to compare bullet striations.

A few months after the shooting, hit man Fred Burke was arrested for killing a cop. Police recovered two Thompson submachine guns from his home. Goddard was brought in and proved conclusively that they had been used in the massacre. Nobody else was charged in the killings, but Goddard’s new technique—dubbed “ballistics-forensics”—became an integral part of solving crimes.

We May Be Alone Because Life on Earth Began Prematurely

Via by Paul Seaburn

Where is everybody?

Fans of the Fermi Paradox – the conflict between the high probability of alien life and the lack of proof of any – have new support for their argument. A new study suggests that life formed on Earth prematurely in relation to the rest of the universe and should only now have actually started. Not only that, it predicts that new life – other than Earth’s – will not form in the universe for at least ten trillion years.

If you ask, ‘When is life most likely to emerge?’ you might naively say, ‘Now.’ But we find that the chance of life grows much higher in the distant future.

According to his new paper in the in the Journal of Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics, Avi Loeb of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics says that the key to life forming on a planet is the expected lifetime of the star it orbits. The longer a star lives, the greater the likelihood a planet in its habitable zone will form life.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

500-Year-Old Hidden Images Revealed in Mexican 'Manuscript'

Via by Mindy Weisberger

Storytelling images on a deer-hide "manuscript" from Mexico have been seen for the first time in 500 years, thanks to sophisticated scanning technology that penetrated layers of chalk and plaster.

This "codex," a type of book-like text, originated in the part of Mexico that is now Oaxaca, and is one of only 20 surviving codices that were made in the Americas prior to the arrival of Europeans.

The codex's rigid deerskin pages were painted white and appeared blank, but those seemingly empty pages came to reveal dozens of colorful figures arranged in storytelling scenes, which were described in a recently published study.

Known as the Codex Selden, the mysterious book dates to about 1560. Other Mexican codices recovered from this period contained colorful pictographs — images that represent words or phrases — which have been translated as descriptions of alliances, wars, rituals and genealogies, according to the study authors.

Top 10 Secret Societies That Helped The World

Photo credit: Library of Congress
Via by Thiago Sanchez

Secret societies have interested people for a very long time, which makes sense; mysterious groups who remain hidden are understandably intriguing. However, they’re often seen as evil, corrupt, or insidious institutions that intend to do harm to humanity. From the Masons to the Illuminati, conspiracy theorists openly deride such fraternities (whether real or fictional) and claim that they control the world or would at least like to. Here are 10 secret societies that go against that nefarious stereotype, instead having been founded for a good cause.
10. Whiteboys

Formed in Ireland in the 18th century, the Whiteboys were a secret peasant group, bound by secret oaths and known by elaborate pseudonyms, who rebelled against the way that farmers and laborers were being treated by the establishment. Their name derived from group members’ tendency to wear white shirts and the fact they were exclusively young males.

The Whiteboys would proclaim new “laws” that wages were to be increased, tithes were to be reduced, or some other act to help the workers. If these laws were disregarded by the authorities, then the Whiteboys would enforce them through violence, intimidation, and destruction of property. Sometimes, they would even dig graves and place coffins on public roads as a sign of what was to come if the landowners did not change their ways and support the rural poor.

9. E Clampus Vitus

Sounding far more serious than it actually is, E Clampus Vitus is a fraternal society which has its origins in the 19th-century American Gold Rush. It is believed to have been created to poke fun at the actual secret societies that were spreading throughout the West at the time and is essentially a group that promotes alternative local history and having fun—so it’s not your average fraternity.

In good keeping with their original purpose, which was to provide miners with some humorous relief from panning for gold, the “Clampers” mocked institutions such as the Odd Fellows and the Masons with absurd initiation ceremonies. Even their name is a joke, since E Clampus Vitus is not actually Latin, and reportedly, nobody knows what it means. These days, they spend their time putting up plaques for places forgotten by more serious historians, such as saloons and bawdy houses.

The Rusty Drill: This Haunted Object from Oregon’s Cursed Ghost Mine Has a Mysterious Effect on Women

Via by Dana Matthews

Every single haunted object in The Traveling Museum of the Paranormal and the Occult comes from Planet Weird‘s decades-old private collection or has been donated by different individuals for a variety of reasons. Many of the items have been given to us by frightened folks looking to rid their lives of troublesome pieces, but others come from people with an interest in having us study them in our paranormal research lab. Case in point: the Crescent Mine Artifacts loaned to us by our good friend Patrick H.T. Doyle, star of Syfy’s Ghost Mine.

For those unfamiliar with Ghost Mine, it was a fantastic reality series that followed a group of rough-and-tumble miners who’d begun work on Oregon’s famously haunted Crescent Mine, only to encounter frightening paranormal phenomena brought on by the land’s mysterious past. Paranormal investigators Patrick Doyle and Kristen Luman were brought in to help document and investigate the ghostly activity, often to stunningly creepy results.

Unfortunately, Ghost Mine ended its second season with a massive cliffhanger, and with Syfy neglecting to green light a third, the series never got the chance to run its full course, leaving us with more questions than answers.

Vanished into Thin Air at the Great Smoky Mountains

Via by Brent Swancer

Every year millions of people flock to national parks and wilderness areas to enjoy the great outdoors. Here people come to escape the stresses of their hectic modern life, enjoy outdoor activities, and take in the majestic scenery. Yet some of these places seem to have a sinister underbelly, seemingly hungry to pull in people who venture into these wilds and make sure they never return. One place that has long married spectacular nature with baffling disappearances is a mountain range on the east coast of the United States of America, which possesses vast natural vistas, thousands of miles of famous hiking trails, and the most visited national park in the country. It is also is home to ominous mysteries and strange vanishings that continue to remain unsolved to this day.

Sprawled out along the Tennessee–North Carolina border in the southeastern United States, covering a vast expanse that includes 187,000 acres (76,000 ha) of old growth forest is a subrange of the Appalachian Mountains called the Great Smoky Mountains, also known as the Smoky Mountains or simply the Smokies, due to the frequent fog that covers the mountains here and which looks like smoke from a distance. Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Great Smoky Mountains are home to a wide array of plants and animals, one of the most diverse ecosystems in North America, and the popular Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which is the most visited national park in the United States.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Earth-like planet around Proxima Centauri discovered

Via by Matt Williams

The hunt for exoplanets has been heating up in recent years. Since it began its mission in 2009, over four thousand exoplanet candidates have been discovered by the Kepler mission, several hundred of which have been confirmed to be "Earth-like" (i.e. terrestrial). And of these, some 216 planets have been shown to be both terrestrial and located within their parent star's habitable zone (aka. "Goldilocks zone"). But in what may prove to be the most exciting find to date, the German weekly Der Spiegel announced recently that astronomers have discovered an Earth-like planet orbiting Proxima Centauri, just 4.25 light-years away. Yes, in what is an apparent trifecta, this newly-discovered exoplanet is Earth-like, orbits within it's sun's habitable zone, and is within our reach. But is this too good to be true?

For over a century, astronomers have known about Proxima Centauri and believed that it is likely to be part of a trinary star system (along with Alpha Centauri A and B). Located just 0.237 ± 0.011 light years from the binary pair, this low-mass red dwarf star is also 0.12 light years (~7590 AUs) closer to Earth, making it the closest star system to our own.

In the past, the Kepler mission has revealed several Earth-like exoplanets that were deemed to be likely habitable. And recently, an international team of researchers narrowed the number of potentially-habitable exoplanets in the Kepler catalog down to the 20 that are most likely to support life. However, in just about all cases, these planets are hundreds (if not thousands) of light years away from Earth.

Atmospheric scientists say ‘no chemtrails’

Via by Deborah Byrd

Have you heard there’s a large-scale secret plan to spray chemicals into Earth’s atmosphere and that the resulting streaks across the sky are called chemtrails? In 2011, nearly 17% of people surveyed internationally said they believed this was true, or partly true. Now we learn, however, that atmospheric scientists are not among the believers. On August 12, 2016, scientists announced results of an international survey of leading atmospheric scientists. Seventy-six of the 77 scientists responding to the survey said they had not encountered evidence of a secret spraying program and agreed that well-understood physical and chemical processes can easily explain alleged “evidence” of chemtrails, often presented in the form of photos like the one at the top of this page.

The team surveyed two groups of experts: atmospheric chemists who specialize in condensation trails and geochemists working on atmospheric deposits of dust and pollution. Their findings are published in a peer-reviewed journal, Environmental Research Letters.

The survey’s authors say theirs is the first peer-reviewed journal paper addressing the chemtrail conspiracy theory. Financial support for it came from the University of California, Irvine, the Carnegie Institution for Science and a group called Near Zero, which is a 501c3 non-profit that produces scientific assessments of energy and climate issues. Atmospheric scientist Ken Caldeira – who is an author on the survey – told me that Near Zero is partially funded by Bill Gates, but he said Gates played no role in choosing this study topic.

The Haunted Mortuary Railroad Station Had One Destination: the Final Resting Place of the Dead

Via by Dana Matthews

We’ve all got “bucket-list “places we’d love to visit before we die, but currently sitting at the top of my travel list is a place most only got to visit after they died – a very strange train station in Sydney, Australia called the Mortuary Railway Station. For those aboard the funeral train, there was only one stop: the afterlife.

The funeral train station first opened its gates in the late 1860s, offering both friends and family of the dearly departed tickets which would allow them to join the deceased on their final journey to the Rookwood Necropolis. The coffin rode for free.

Often upwards of 30 dead would be placed in wooden wagons and carefully stowed inside the train, each of them headed to an identical station located in the heart of Rookwood Necropolis. There, they would they be unloaded and carried to their burial plots, where family would gather for a funeral.

Rookwood Necropolis is the largest cemetery in the Southern Hemisphere, and at the time, had been established thanks to its long distance away from any major city. Over the years the cemetery has grown so massive that it even has its own postal code. Over one million dead are buried inside the gates of the 700 acre plot of land, which meant that a lot of one-way tickets were punched at the turn of the century.