Monthly Archive: March 2016

What Makes The Different Colors Of The Northern (And Southern) Lights?

While we’re not sure why auroras have so many different shapes, we do know what causes the different colors. When the Sun’s particles interact with oxygen, the greenish-yellow lights occur. Nitrogen causes the red, blue, and purple lights, and height has something to do with it, too. The lowest lights are the blue ones, while red lights are the highest. And there’s a fascinating variety of myths associated with the lights, from the idea that they’re the spirits of the unborn to harbingers of tragedy or good fishing.

How Galileo Advanced Science By Measuring Hell

In defiance of Church dogma, Galileo Galilei advanced our view of the universe with his heliocentric model of the solar system, making him one of history’s greatest scientists. But Galileo was also a man of his time, steeped in religious superstition. In his most bizarre investigation, Galileo took Dante Alighieri’s description of hell—Inferno—quite literally and attempted to measure its exact dimensions. While Galileo’s project may look ridiculous today, it inadvertently formed a foundation for modern science and engineering.

What Is A Cryptid, Really?

For skeptics, the idea of cryptozoology is paranormal bunk that has more to do with looking for mythical monsters than real science. In 2004, Chad Arment’s cryptozoology textbook outlined the four different types of cryptids that should be under investigation: animals outside their usual geographic range, individuals within a species that have some extraordinary characteristic, creatures that look like a species declared extinct, and creatures that are completely unlike anything accepted by science. This is an attempt to make cryptozoology a little more accepted in the scientific community and to get rid of the idea of other types of cryptids, like those whose existence is passed down in folklore and myth.

The 19th-Century Attempt To Build A Mechanical Messiah

When John Murray Spear started receiving messages from the spirit world, some of them were from a community called “The Electricizers.” Led by Benjamin Franklin, the spirits guided him in building a mechanical messiah that would come to life and produce all the free energy the world needed, ushering in a time of prosperity and paradise while putting an end to slavery. Spear hooked himself up to the messiah and a “New Mary” gave symbolic, spiritual birth to it, but it never came to life. Ultimately, the messiah was destroyed by a rampaging mob of non-believers or possibly by Spear himself.

Many Death Row Inmates Remain Surprisingly Positive

When studies looked at the last words of death row inmates, they found that many of them were going into their final moments with words of positivity, hope, forgiveness, and love. They suggest that this is a sort of psychological defense mechanism that allows us to cope with the overwhelming knowledge of what’s about to happen. Another study of the final hours of a person’s life has found that those who have made peace with their guilt and the inevitability of death are more likely to request a last meal and more likely to request something high-calorie.

The Difference Between A Chimera And The Chimera

The Chimera was a creature from Greek mythology, having the body and head of a lion, a second goat’s head, and the tail of a snake. A chimera, however, can be any creature made up of the parts of different animals, and there are plenty of chimeras in world mythologies. Even Capricorn, today’s constellation and zodiac symbol, is technically a chimera with the body of a goat and the tail of a snake or fish.

The Parents Of Mexico’s ‘Disappeared’ Are Still Searching

For years, drug cartels have terrorized Mexico with extortion, kidnappings, and murders. On September 26, 2014, it reached a flash point when students from the Ayotzinapa Normal School, a teacher’s college, descended on Iguala in southern Mexico to protest unfair employment practices. As the protesters rode in buses, municipal police and unidentified masked men fired on the students, killing some and kidnapping others. With ties to drug gangs, corrupt local officials are believed to have played a significant role in the massacre. The parents of the 43 disappeared are defiantly insisting on answers and justice. A quieter group of parents, The Committee of the Other Disappeared, aren’t seeking justice, but instead a proper burial for the bodies of their missing children. The government has been criticized for its lack of action.

The Greek General Who Served Athens, Sparta & Persia

Alcibiades was a prominent Athenian general during the Peloponnesian War against Sparta. After being accused of an act of gross vandalism and sentenced to death, he fled to Sparta, gave the Spartans useful advice against Athens, and slept with the queen. After earning the king’s ire, Alcibiades fled to Persia, where he advised a local governor and seeded an oligarchic coup in Athens. He eventually fought for Athens again but was murdered in 404 BC.

Did The Nazis Give ‘Companionship’ Dolls To Their Troops?

According to the story, Heinrich Himmler ordered a whole legion of “companionship” dolls called gynoids to be made based on Aryan appearances. The dolls would accompany Nazi troops across Europe and beyond, allowing them to satisfy their desires without coming into contact with dirty, foreign women of ill repute. But there isn’t much evidence for the story. It’s based on a few questionable photographs of the dolls before they were all supposedly destroyed in the bombings of Dresden. So did the Borghild Project actually happen?

The Most Isolated ‘Stone Age’ People Still Around

The isolated Indian Ocean islands known as the Andamans and Nicobars are home to some of the remotest tribes on the planet. While some, like the Jarawa and the Nicobarese, have been in contact with the rest of the world and have suffered dearly for it, the Sentinelese remain mysterious and isolated. They’re known to kill any outsiders who come close, and when helicopters flew overhead to check on them after the 2004 tsunami, the would-be rescuers were greeted by a familiar hail of arrows.