Monthly Archive: February 2016

The Fake Bishop Fighting ‘Heresy’ From Within The Vatican

Ralph Napierski has made a lot of claims. Here are just a few of them. He says he’s a bishop in the Roman Catholic Church and can trace his appointment back to Christ and the apostles. He says he’s founded a branch of the Knights Templar, that he’s developed a way to control computers with your mind, and that he’s unlocking the ancient practice of Jesus Yoga. We can be skeptical about those claims. But in 2013, he actually did stroll right past some security checkpoints and into the Vatican, where he spoke with reporters to condemn the church’s handling of sex scandals. He was escorted away by the Swiss Guard.

Humans Are Incredibly Bad At Spotting Fake IDs

We’re horrible at matching people with their photos, especially when it’s someone we don’t know. A study from Louisiana State University and Arizona State University found that people who were asked to look at a subject and then identify whether a photo ID was authentic or not could be wrong as much as 40 percent of the time. (Non-matching people and photos were presented to them for 10 percent of the study.) Passport officers fared no better, accepting up to 14 percent of fraudulent photos as the real deal. We’re already teaching computers to match faces and photos much better, though, with an iPhone app that can scan through tens of thousands of photos in seconds to match a person it’s just taken a picture of.

The Different Types Of Autism

The term “autism” refers to a series of disorders that are largely characterized by the amount of difficulty the person has with social and communication skills. Those diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome are on the high-functioning end of the spectrum, often possessing a high intelligence along with their social difficulties. Childhood disintegrative disorder is characterized by a regression into autistic symptoms where there were none before, PDD-NOS is diagnosed when a child doesn’t meet the full criteria for autism but displays some characteristics, and Rett syndrome is a physically debilitating version of the disorder that strikes mostly girls.

The Middle-Aged Man Who Went His Whole Life With A Crushed Brain

After experiencing some weakness in his left leg, a 44-year-old government worker in France underwent a CT scan and MRI that showed he had almost no brain. It had been crushed against his skull, most likely from a childhood surgery to treat hydrocephalus (water on the brain). Although the man’s IQ was slightly lower than normal, he married, had two kids, and led a normal life. Doctors were able to treat his leg weakness successfully with a brain shunt.

The Differences Between Early Printing Techniques

If you’d like to impress some literary-minded or artistic friends, you can learn to tell the difference between early printmaking techniques by looking for a few simple giveaways. Illustrations made by relief printing will typically have shadows that are made with straight lines rather than the cross-hatching techniques used in intaglio printing methods. Most intaglio methods also leave traces of the print plate behind because of the pressure required to transfer the image, and sometimes a crisp line will even tell you that the original plate was made with an engraving process rather than an acid bath.

The American City That Was Manually Lifted Out Of The Mud

Chicago was founded on an area of land that was nearly level with Lake Michigan, making drainage problems a major issue. Cholera, typhoid, and dysentery were rampant, and by the mid-1850s it was decided that a sewer system needed to be built. The only way to get the system to work properly was to build it on a higher level than the city was situated at. What followed was a massive project that built drains and sewers above the roads, the raising of road surfaces, and finally the manual lifting of the majority of Chicago’s biggest buildings. It was all overseen by a group of about six engineers and done with thousands and thousands of hand jacks.

The Asteroid Impact That Evaporated The Oceans

When scientists started re-creating just what would have happened to the planet after the impacts of the asteroids that left the giant craters in Australia and South Africa several billion years ago, they found some mind-numbing implications. Off-the-chart earthquakes that lasted for half an hour sent ripples through the Earth’s tectonic plates, the skies burned, vaporized rock fell like rain, and the oceans boiled away. These planet-killers were two to three times the size of the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs, and they created some of the strangest formations on the planet today.

Ann Casey, The Incredible Panther Girl

Growing up on an Alabama cotton farm, Ann Casey could never have guessed she would become a professional wrestler one day. Fighting under the stage name “Panther Girl,” Casey took on some of the best wrestlers in the nation. She even battled her old mentor in a real-life slugfest. But her greatest match was against a gang of drug-dealing truck drivers who wanted to pin her for good.

When Bored Reporters Tried To Sell The Great Wall Of China

In June 1899, four Denver newspapers reported that the Chinese government was going to be selling the Great Wall of China to the highest bidder and that they’d talked to the man—Frank C. Lewis of Chicago—who won the auction. Chicago needed some new roads, see, and the wall was the perfect building material. It wasn’t true, of course, but there’s another part of the story. A few decades later, it was circulated that the story was the cause of the Boxer Rebellion. This obviously wasn’t true, but we have no idea whether or not people actually believed that it was.