Tag Archives: mystery

Mystery of gaping holes at ‘end of the world’ possibly solved

This frame grab made July 16, 2014, shows a crater in the Yamal Peninsula of Siberia.AP Photo/Associated Press Television

Huge, mysterious gaping holes in Northern Siberia may not be such a mystery anymore. One scientist has pinned down a cause and, spoiler alert, it’s not aliens or weapons testing, as had been theorized.

The first hole discovered in the Yamal Peninsula, which is 260 feet wide, is likely a sinkhole caused by melting ice or permafrost, University of Alaska geophysicist Vladimir Romanovsky tells LiveScience.

But rather than swallowing the earth as it opened up, he speculates, the hole “actually erupted outside,” tossing dirt around the rim. (One caveat: Romanovsky hasn’t seen the holes himself, but he has spoken to Russian colleagues who have, notes PRI.) He suspects natural gas caused pressure to build as the water collected in an underground cavity, and the dirt—which is reportedly piled more than 3 feet high around the edge of the crater—was eventually expelled.

Plants around the crater suggests the hole is several years old, but closer inspection is needed to determine the exact age. Romanovsky thinks climate change played a role, which means “we will probably see this happen more often now,” he says.

But questions remain, notes LiveScience: Where did the natural gas come from, and why is the hole so even and round? (Click to read about a burning crater that’s been on fire for more than 40 years.)

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Stonehenge Path Offers New Clues To Site’s Age-Old Secrets

Stonehenge Path Offers New Clues To Site’s Age-Old Secrets

The Huffington Post  |  By Posted: 09/14/2013 8:26 am EDT  |  Updated: 09/15/2013 12:25 pm EDT

 
Stonehenge Path
Modern researchers have puzzled for centuries over the striking stone construction known as Stonehenge. But now researchers have discovered new aspects of the site, including a processional road, that may eventually help unravel some of its mysteries.

There are many theories about why ancient peoples constructed the prehistoric megalithic monument, which is estimated to have been built between 3000 and 1520 B.C. Located outside Salisbury, England, Stonehenge is the focus of ongoing research projects coordinated by English Heritage, a cultural preservation agency.

One of those projects recently uncovered previously hidden sections of an ancient pathway that researchers believe led directly to the site from the Avon River in the nearby town of Amesbury.

Known as the Avenue, the pathway is believed to have been built sometime between 2600 and 2200 B.C., according to English Heritage. Over time, parts of the road were obscured, and a modern road called A344 was built across it, reports LiveScience. The new road has made it almost impossible for researchers to confirm the purpose of the Avenue, according to LiveScience.

In an effort to answer some of these questions, researchers carefully began removing the paved A344. While the banks of the original path had long since eroded away, archaeologists were excited to find traces of two parallel ditches that once ran on either side of the path. These ditches connected segments of the Avenue bisected by A344.

“And here we have it –- the missing piece in the jigsaw,” Heather Sebire, properties curator and archaeologist at English Heritage, said in an interview with BBC History Magazine. “It is very exciting to find a piece of physical evidence that officially makes the connection which we were hoping for.”

While the purpose of the Avenue is not exactly clear, Sebire told LiveScience she believes it was involved in ancient processions to and from the site.

“It was constructed in 2300 BC so is a later addition to the stone circle, but people would have processed along it to the monument,” Sebire told BBC Magazine. “It’s quite a dramatic finding.”

At least one researcher unaffiliated with English Heritage believes the excavation could help confirm a theory that the Avenue leading to Stonehenge was built along the solstice axis. As archaeologist Mike Parker Pearson told National Geographic, this means that the direction of the Avenue moving away from the monument points toward where the sun rises on the midsummer solstice, the longest day of the year. But if you turn, the path leading back toward Stonehenge points toward where the sun sets on the midwinter solstice, the shortest day of the year.

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New explanation for mysterious ‘fairy circles’ in African desert

New explanation for mysterious ‘fairy circles’ in African desert

By Joseph Castro

Published September 05, 2013

LiveScience
  • fairy-circles-1

    Fairy circles are circular patches of perennial grasses with a barren center that emerge in the deserts along the southwest coast of Africa. Here, numerous tracks of Oryx antelopes crossing fairy circles in an interdune pan, shown in this aeria (Image courtesy of N. Juergens)

The bizarre circular patches of bare land called “fairy circles” in the grasslands of Africa’s Namib Desert have defied explanation, with hypotheses ranging from ants to termites to grass-killing gas that seeps out of the soil. But the patches may be the natural result of the subsurface competition for resources among plants, new research suggests.

Grasslands in the Namib Desert start off homogenous, but sparse rainfall and nutrient-poor soil spark intense competition between the grasses, according to the new theory. Strong grasses sap all of the water and nutrients from the soil, causing their weaker neighbors to die and a barren gap to form in the landscape.

The vegetation gap expands as the competition ensues, and the grass-free zone becomes a reservoir for nutrients and water. With the additional resources, larger grass species are then able to take root at the periphery of the gap, and a stable fairy circle develops. [See Photos of Mysterious Fairy Circles of the Namib Desert]

“It’s a really good theory because it accounts for all the characteristics of fairy circles,” including the presence of tall grass species, Florida State University biologist Walter Tschinkel, who was not involved in the study, told LiveScience. “No other proposed cause for fairy circles has ever done that.”

A lingering mystery
Fairy circles have been a mystery to scientists for decades. Last year, Tschinkel discovered that small fairy circles last for an average of 24 years, whereas larger circles can stick around for up to 75 years. However, his research didn’t determine why the circles form in the first place, or why they disappear.

‘It accounts for all the characteristics of fairy circles.’

– Florida State University biologist Walter Tschinkel 

Earlier this year, University of Hamburg biologist Norbert Juergens claimed to have found evidence for a termite theory of fairy circles. Essentially, he discovered colonies of the sand termite, Psammotermes allocerus, were nearly always found in the centers of fairy circles, where he also found increased soil moisture. He reasoned that the termites feed on the grasses’ roots, killing the plants, which usually use up the soil’s water, and then slurp up the water in the resulting circular patches to survive during the dry season.

But Tschinkel is critical of the work, stressing that Juergens confused correlation with causation.

Michael Cramer, a biologist at the University of Cape Town in South Africa and lead researcher of the current study, which was published recently in the journal PLOS ONE, also thinks the termite theory falls short.

“I think the major hurdle that explanations have to overcome is explaining the regular spacing of the circles, their approximate circularity and their size,” Cramer told LiveScience. “There’s no real reason why termites would produce such large circles that are so evenly spaced.”

Scientists have also previously proposed that fairy circles are an example of a “self-organizing vegetation pattern,” which arises from plant interactions. In 2008, researchers developed a mathematical model showing the vegetation patterning of fairy circles could depend on water availability.

A fierce competition
To test this theory, Cramer and his colleague Nichole Barger from the University of Colorado at Boulder first measured the size, density and landscape occupancy of fairy circle sites across Namibia, using both Google Earth and ground surveys. They then collected soil samples at various depths from inside and outside the circles, and analyzed them for water and nutrient content. Finally, they plugged the information, along with climate data such as seasonal precipitation and temperatures, into their computer models. [Images: The 10 Strangest Sights on Google Earth]

“We found that the size of the circle, the density and degree to which they occupy the landscape are all associated with the amount of resources available,” Cramer said. Specifically, fairy circles are smaller if they have more resources, such as soil nitrogen and rainfall.

This makes sense, Cramer explained, because the taller grasses won’t need a large reservoir of resourcesto get started and survive if water and nutrients are already available in the environment. On the other hand, the grasses require a large reservoir to sustain themselves if the soil is poor in water and nutrients.

The researchers also discovered that rainfall strongly determines the distribution of the fairy circles across Namibia, with circles only appearing in areas where there is just the right amount of rain (not too little, but not too much). If there’s too much rain, the bountiful resources would “relax” the competition for resources and the circles would close up; but if there’s too little rain, the competition would become too severe and the circles would again disappear, Cramer said. Because the circles can only occur in this narrow moisture range, differences in rainfall from year to year may cause them to suddenly disappear and reappear in an area over time. With this information, they found that they could predict the distribution of the fairy circles with 95 percent accuracy.

Additionally, the regular spacing between fairy circles may be the result of inter-circle competition, with grasses from each circle “battling” with other circle grasses for resources, Cramer said.

Experimental tests
Cramer notes that termites may still be involved in fairy circles. “What sets up the circles is the competition between plants,” he said. “Termites are a secondary phenomenon, and their role is to serve as a maintenance for the circles by killing off the grasses that spring up in the center of the circles.”

Yvette Naud, a chemist at the University of Pretoria, South Africa, who was not involved in the study, thinks it’s refreshing to see a noninsect hypothesis for fairy circles, though she expressed some doubts about its validity.

“It is unclear how peripheral grass resource-competition could induce such abrupt and synchronized plant mortality over an entire patch,” Naud, who has previously studied fairy circles, told LiveScience in an email. (Cramer actually thinks the plant mortality starts off small, and the patch grows as the competition continues.) “The answer to the enigma [of fairy circles] remains elsewhere.”

To examine whether the theory is correct, Cramer plans to conduct experimental tests, as his study only provides correlative evidence for the competition theory.

“If fairy circles really do develop from a shortage of water and nutrients, then simply watering and fertilizing the circles should cause them to close up with vegetation,” Tschinkel said.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/science/2013/09/05/mysterious-fairy-circles-in-african-desert-get-new-explanation/?intcmp=features#ixzz2e417iQkL

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Mysterious Hum Heard by 2 Percent of World Population

Hum Heard Around World Impacts 2 Percent Of People In Hum-Prone Areas, Study Suggests

LiveScience  |  By Marc LallanillaPosted: 07/27/2013 11:30 am EDT  |  Updated: 07/27/2013 11:37 am EDT

It creeps in slowly in the dark of night, and once inside, it almost never goes away.

It’s known as the Hum, a steady, droning sound that’s heard in places as disparate as Taos, N.M.; Bristol, England; and Largs, Scotland.

But what causes the Hum, and why it only affects a small percentage of the population in certain areas, remain a mystery, despite a number of scientific investigations. [The Top 10 Unexplained Phenomena]

Reports started trickling in during the 1950s from people who had never heard anything unusual before; suddenly, they were bedeviled by an annoying, low-frequency humming, throbbing or rumbling sound.

The cases seem to have several factors in common: Generally, the Hum is only heard indoors, and it’s louder at night than during the day. It’s also more common in rural or suburban environments; reports of a hum are rare in urban areas, probably because of the steady background noise in crowded cities.

Only about 2 percent of the people living in any given Hum-prone area can hear the sound, and most of them are ages 55 to 70, according to a 2003 study by acoustical consultant Geoff Leventhall of Surrey, England.

Most of the people who hear the Hum (sometimes referred to as “hearers” or “hummers”) describe the sound as similar to a diesel engine idling nearby. And the Hum has driven virtually every one of them to the point of despair. [Video: Listen to 6 Spooky Sounds]

“It’s a kind of torture; sometimes, you just want to scream,” retiree Katie Jacques of Leeds, England, told theBBC. Leeds is one of several places in Great Britain where the Hum has recently appeared.

“It’s worst at night,” Jacques said. “It’s hard to get off to sleep because I hear this throbbing sound in the background … You’re tossing and turning, and you get more and more agitated about it.”

Being dismissed as crackpots or whiners only exacerbates the distress for these complainants, most of whom have perfectly normal hearing. Sufferers complain ofheadaches, nausea, dizziness, nosebleeds and sleep disturbances. At least one suicide in the United Kingdom has been blamed on the Hum, the BBC reports. [The Top 10 Spooky Sleep Disorders]

The Hum zones

Bristol, England, was one of the first places on Earth where the Hum was reported. In the 1970s, about 800 people in the coastal city reported hearing a steady thrumming sound, which was eventually blamed on vehicular traffic and local factories working 24-hour shifts.

Another famous hum occurs near Taos, N.M. Starting in spring 1991, residents of the area complained of a low-level rumbling noise. A team of researchers from Los Alamos National Laboratory, the University of New Mexico, Sandia National Laboratories and other regional experts were unable to identify the source of the sound.

Windsor, Ontario, is another Hum hotspot. Researchers from the University of Windsor and Western University in London, Ontario, were recently given a grant to analyze the Windsor Hum and determine its cause.

Researchers also have been investigating the Hum in Bondi, a seaside area of Sydney, Australia, for several years, to no avail. “It sends people around here crazy — all you can do is put music on to block it out. Some people leave fans on,” one resident told the Daily Telegraph.

Back in the United States, the Kokomo Hum was isolated in a 2003 study financed by the Indiana city’s municipal government. The investigation revealed that two industrial sites — one a Daimler Chrysler plant — were producing noise at specific frequencies. Despite noise-abatement measures, some residents continue to complain of the Hum.

What causes the Hum?

Most researchers investigating the Hum express some confidence that the phenomenon is real, and not the result of mass hysteria or hearers’ hypochondria (or extraterrestrials beaming signals to Earth from their spaceships).

As in the case of the Kokomo Hum, industrial equipment is usually the first suspected source of the Hum. In one instance, Leventhall was able to trace the noise to a neighboring building’s central heating unit.

Other suspected sources include high-pressure gas lines, electrical power lines, wireless communication devices or other sources. But only in a few cases has a Hum been linked to a mechanical or electrical source.

There’s some speculation that the Hum could be the result of low-frequency electromagnetic radiation, audible only to some people. And there are verified cases in which individuals have particular sensitivities to signals outside the normal range of human hearing.

Medical experts are quick to point out that tinnitus (the perception of sound when no external noise is present) is a likely cause, but repeated testing has found that many hearers have normal hearing and no occurrences of tinnitus.

Environmental factors have also been blamed, including seismic activity such as microseisms — very faint, low-frequency earth tremors that can be generated by the action of ocean waves.

Other hypotheses, including military experiments and submarine communications, have yet to bear any fruit. For now, hearers of the Hum have to resort to white-noise machines and other devices to reduce or eliminate the annoying noise.

Leventhall, who recommends that some hearers turn to cognitive-behavioral therapy to relieve the symptoms caused by the Hum, isn’t confident that the puzzle will be solved anytime soon.

“It’s been a mystery for 40 years, so it may well remain one for a lot longer,” Leventhall told the BBC.

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Nostalgia Time – One of my first posts…

This was a post from December 2011, when I first started posting somewhat regularly.  The mystery of butter and cheese, something still with me today…

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The Greatest Mysteries of All Time – Butter and Cheese!

I grew up on a dairy and milked cows growing up.  Unfortunately, I was also allergic to milk.  Even now the smell, taste and even look of milk disgusts me.  I never have butter on my bread and I was sixteen before I had my first piece of cheese.  Despite that, the two greatest mysteries to me is where butter and cheese originated.  This might sound silly at first, but who came up with the idea to take cream, shake it or churn it for 20 to 30 minutes, and add salt?  The thing is, they did this 10,000 years ago, and the first written reference to butter is on a 4,500 year old sandstone tablet.  Hunter-gatherers unable to write were making butter.  Here are some more facts about butter from the Dairy Goodness site:

Butter’s origins go back about 10,000 years to the time when our ancestors first began domesticating animals. Today, butter in its many flavourful forms is the world’s most popular fat. As a versatile spread, a delicious enhancer for so many foods, and the essential ingredient for baking, butter’s simple goodness has no equal…

  • The first reference to butter in our written history was found on a 4,500-year-old limestone tablet illustrating how butter was made.
  • It is generally believed the word butter originates from the bou-tyron, Greek for “cow cheese”, however it may have come from the language of cattle-herding Scythians.
  • Butter was used as food by ancient tribes of Asiatic India, as well as for burning in primitive lamps and smeared on skin to protect from the cold.
  • In early times, unlike today, butter was so costly it was used in religious ceremonies. It still is today in India and Tibet.
  • In ancient Rome, butter was valued cosmetically. Not only was it used as a cream to make skin smooth, but Greeks and Romans massaged it into their hair to make it shine.
  • Much esteemed for its perceived healing properties, butter was also used in poultices to fight skin infections and burns. The ancient Egyptians even valued it as a cure for eye problems.
  • During the T’ang Dynasty in China, clarified butter represented the ultimate development of the Buddha spirit.
  • The ancient Irish, Scots, Norsemen and Finns loved and valued butter so much they were buried with barrels of it.
  • Christian missionaries travelling in central Siberia in 1253 mentioned a traditional fermented drink, kumyss, which was served with generous lumps of butter floating in it.
  • In Northern Europe, in centuries past, butter was credited with helping to prevent kidney and bladder stones as well as eye maladies. (This was probably thanks to butter’s vitamin A content.)
  • Sailors in Elizabethan times were guaranteed 1/4 lb of butter a day in their rations, and it was an old English custom to present newlyweds with a pot of this creamy delight as a wish for fertility and prosperity.

Now for cheese, which is even harder to understand.  To make cheese, you take milk and add rennet.  For those that don’t know what rennet is, it is a stomach enzyme in mammals, usually taken from cows.  So, once again, who said for the first time, “Let’s take a bunch of milk and put it a big container.  Then, let’s take stomach juices from the inside of a cow and stick that in there.  When it starts to clump up, let’s take the clumps and press them together.  Then let those clumps sit there until they mold.  Then let’s eat it!”  I just don’t understand how that happened.  Again, cheese predates recorded history.  No one knows who made it first, but it started getting made all over the place.  Here is a brief origin from Wikipedia:

Cheese is an ancient food whose origins predate recorded history. There is no conclusive evidence indicating where cheesemaking originated, either inEuropeCentral Asia or the Middle East, but the practice had spread withinEurope prior to Roman times and, according to Pliny the Elder, had become a sophisticated enterprise by the time the Roman Empire came into being.[3]

Proposed dates for the origin of cheesemaking range from around 8000 BCE(when sheep were first domesticated) to around 3000 BCE. The first cheese may have been made by people in the Middle East or by nomadic Turkic tribes inCentral Asia. Since animal skins and inflated internal organs have, since ancient times, provided storage vessels for a range of foodstuffs, it is probable that the process of cheese making was discovered accidentally by storing milk in a container made from the stomach of an animal, resulting in the milk being turned to curd and whey by the rennet from the stomach. There is a legend with variations about the discovery of cheese by an Arab trader who used this method of storing milk.[4][5]

Cheesemaking may have begun independently of this by the pressing and salting of curdled milk to preserve it. Observation that the effect of making milk in an animal stomach gave more solid and better-textured curds, may have led to the deliberate addition of rennet.

The earliest archeological evidence of cheesemaking has been found in Egyptiantomb murals, dating to about 2000 BCE.[6] The earliest cheeses were likely to have been quite sour and salty, similar in texture to rustic cottage cheese or feta, a crumbly, flavorful Greek cheese.

Cheese produced in Europe, where climates are cooler than the Middle East, required less salt for preservation. With less salt and acidity, the cheese became a suitable environment for useful microbes and molds, giving aged cheeses their respective flavors.

So, now that you know more, I ask you – where did butter and cheese come from?  Other inventions are easy to trace, but butter and cheese seem to have always been with us.  Alcohol is also a long standing mystery.  That, I theorize was discovered when someone ate old grape juice or rotting grain and got buzzed.  Once someone gets a buzz, they figure out why, be it mushrooms, hemp, or licking a frog.  But butter and cheese?  The world may never know.  I personally believe it may be either divine inspiration and guidance, or alien visitation.

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Mystery swirls around life found in Antarctic lake

Mystery swirls around life found in Antarctic lake

Published March 11, 2013

FoxNews.com

  • lake vostok cross section.jpg

    An artist’s cross-section of Lake Vostok, the largest known subglacial lake in Antarctica. Liquid water is thought to take thousands of years to pass through the lake, which is the size of North America’s Lake Ontario. (Nicolle Rager-Fuller / NSF)

  • Lake Vostok

    NASA photo of Lake Vostok in Antarctica.

  • vostok-station-120202-02

    Russia’s Vostok Station, in a photograph taken during the 2000 to 2001 field season. (Josh Landis, National Science Foundation.)

  • Russian team reaches Lake Vostok.jpg

    Feb. 6, 2012: Russian researchers at the Vostok station in Antarctica pose for a picture after reaching subglacial lake Vostok. Scientists hold the sign reading “05.02.12, Vostok station, boreshaft 5gr, lake at depth 3769.3 meters.” (AP Photo/Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute Press Service)

MOSCOW –  A Russian scientist over the weekend dismissed the claims of his colleagues that water pulled from a lake buried for millions of years beneath Antarctica contained a strange new form of microbial life.
But on Monday, those colleagues insisted that the bacterium they have discovered doesn’t fall into any known categories.

The tiny creature in question came from a sample of water pulled by a team of Russian scientists from lake Vostok in February, 2012, after more than two decades of drilling, a major achievement hailed by scientists around the world. Vostok likes buried beneath Antarctica and hasn’t been exposed to air or light in millions of years. One goal of the dig was to see whether some strange creatures lurked in that darkness.

‘We can’t say that a previously-unknown bacteria was found.’

– Eukaryote genetics laboratory head Vladimir Korolyov 

Such a life form could lead to insights as to what forms life might take on other planets, as well as adding to our knowledge of the varied shapes organisms take here on Earth. On Thursday, Sergei Bulat, a researcher at the Laboratory of Eukaryote Genetics at the St. Petersburg Nuclear Physics Institute, claimed victory.

“After excluding all known contaminants … we discovered bacterial DNA that does not match any known species listed in global databanks. We call it unidentified and ‘unclassified’ life,” Bulat said, according to a story on Russian news wire Ria Novosti.

But on Saturday, Eukaryote genetics laboratory head Vladimir Korolyov told the Interfax news agency that they did not find any life forms — just contaminants that remained from the drilling process.

“We found certain specimen, although not many, but all of them belonged to contaminants (microorganisms from the bore-hole kerosene, human bodies or the lab). There was one strain of bacteria which we did not find in drilling liquid, but the bacteria could in principal use kerosene as an energy source,” Korolyov said.

“That is why we can’t say that a previously-unknown bacteria was found,” he added.

Still, Bulat and his colleague Valery Lukin insisted to the Associated Press that the bacterium has no relation to any of the existing types, though extensive research of the microbe that was sealed under the ice for millions of years will be necessary to prove the find and determine the bacterium’s characteristics.

Bulat and Lukin said that the small size of the initial sample and its heavy contamination made it difficult to conduct more extensive research. They voiced hope that the new samples of clean frozen water that are to arrive in St. Petersburg this spring will make it possible to “confirm the find and, perhaps, discover new previously unknown forms of microbial life.”

“Deepwater devices designed at our institute will be used next year for taking pure water with pure samplers,” they said.

A U.S. team that recently touched the surface of Lake Whillans, a shallower sub-glacial body of water west of the South Pole, also found microbes. The scientists are yet to determine what forms of bacteria they found.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/science/2013/03/11/russia-microbe-water-samples-antarctic-lake-vostok/#ixzz2REr9yo4V

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Mystery of 1938 Time Traveler with Cell Phone

Mystery Of 1938 ‘Time Traveler’ With Cell Phone Solved? (VIDEO)

The Huffington Post  |  By Posted: 04/04/2013 4:41 pm EDT  |  Updated: 04/04/2013 6:04 pm EDT

The mystery surrounding a video that appears to show a young woman talking on a cell phone in 1938 may be solved. The explanation, if true, is sure to disappoint many conspiracy theorists.

The black-and-white footage shows a group of young people, possibly factory workers, walking out of a building. A brunette in a light-colored dress smiles into the camera, her hand pressed to her ear. She is holding what looks to be a large portable phone.

The Daily Mail reports that the clip surfaced online about a year ago and kicked off speculation about a time traveler caught on camera. Recently, a YouTube commenter who goes by the handle Planetcheck claimed to know the woman in the footage.

Though the version of the YouTube clip with Planetcheck’s original comments has been removed, the Daily Mail and Yahoo! News blog The Sideshow copied some of Planetcheck’s claims before the video disappeared.

According to the posts, Planetcheck professes to be the grandchild of the cell phone woman. Her name is Gertrude Jones, Planetcheck writes, and she was not a time traveler.

“She was 17 years old,” Planetcheck writes. “I asked her about this video and she remembers it quite clearly. She says Dupont [the company that reportedly owns the factory in the video] had a telephone communications section in the factory. They were experimenting with wireless telephones. Gertrude and five other women were given these wireless phones to test out for a week. Gertrude is talking to one of the scientists holding another wireless phone who is off to her right as she walks by.”

Wireless phones in the 1930s? YouTubers were skeptical.

Answering YouTube critics who questioned why such an amazing device received so little notice for several decades, Planetcheck blamed the factory owners:

Maybe they decided it was too far advanced for people and they abandoned the idea. … Ideas are hatched, prototypes are made and sometimes like this phone they are forgotten until somebody discovers some long lost film of the world first wireless phone and marvels at it.

Planetcheck also claimed to still have the phone in a glass box somewhere. (We’ll believe that when we see it.)

David Mikkelson, founder of Snopes.com, a website that specializes in analyzing popular Internet theories, told The Huffington Post in a telephone interview that videos like this one are as difficult to disprove as they are to prove.

“You can take any piece of WWII footage showing someone holding something to the side of their head talking, and claim it is a time traveling cell phone user,” Mikkelson said. “Film clips aren’t of sufficient resolution to see what the people are carrying. It could be anything from a handkerchief to a hearing aid, or who knows what. And this video is silent, so you can’t even tell if the person is engaged in a two-way conversation.”

Mikkelson added it is plausible Dupont could have been working on some sort of hand-held prototype, similar to a walkie-talkie. Still, he remained skeptical.

“I doubt it would have just been handed out to a young woman working at the factory,” he said. “And why isn’t there documentation?”

Neither Planetcheck nor Dupont could not be reached for comment.

A similar “time traveler” video captured the imaginations of conspiracy theorists in 2010. The clip consists of unreleased footage from a 1928 Charlie Chaplin film and shows a woman in the background walking while appearing to talk on a cell phone.Was she a time traveler, or was she just holding her hand up to her face as she passed in front of the camera?

And who could forget the photo of a 19th-century man who looks uncannily like actor Nicolas Cage? While some speculate that Cage is a time traveler, others joked that he might be a vampire. Cage has denied both rumors.

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10 Civilizations That Disappeared Under Mysterious Circumstances

reposted from I09:

10 Civilizations That Disappeared Under Mysterious Circumstances

For almost as long as we’ve had civilization, we’ve lost it. There are records going back hundreds of years of explorers discovering huge temples encrusted with jungle, or giant pits full of treasure that were once grand palaces. Why did people abandon these once-thriving cities, agricultural centers, and trade routes? Often, the answer is unknown. Here are ten great civilizations whose demise remains a mystery.

 

1. The Maya
The Maya are perhaps the classic example of a civilization that was completely lost, its great monuments, cities and roads swallowed up by the central American jungles, and its peoples scattered to small villages. Though the languages and traditions of the Maya still survive up to the present day, the civilization’s peak was during the first millennium AD, when their greatest architectural feats and massive agricultural projects covered a vast region in the Yucatán — today, an area stretching from Mexico to Guatemala and Belize. One of the largest Mesoamerican civilizations, the Maya made extensive use of writing, math, an elaborate calendar, and sophisticated engineering to build their pyramids and terraced farms. Though it’s often said that the Maya civilization began a mysterious decline in roughly the year 900, a great deal of evidence points to climate change in the Yucatán combined with internecine warfare, which resulted in famine and abandonment of the city centers. 

 

2. Indus Valley Civilization
One of the great civilizations of the ancient world is called simply the Indus or Harappan civilization. Thousands of years ago, it may have boasted up to 5 million people, almost 10 percent of the world’s population, spread over a region that encompassed parts of today’s India, Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan. But its grand walkways (with sophisticated roadside drainage), metallurgy shops, and massive, multistory, brick hives of houses were abandoned over 3,000 years ago. It’s likely that this ancient civilization, like the Maya, suffered from gradual changes in rainfall patterns that made it difficult for its peoples to raise enough food for their massive population. 

 

3. Easter Island
The people of Eastern Island represent another classic “lost” civilization, famed in part for its enigmatic, enormous stone statues of human heads (called Moai) lined up along the island’s coastline. How did this thriving Polynesian civilization disappear after centuries of monument-building and navigating hundreds of miles of ocean waters to go from island to island? Jared Diamond sums up what many scientists now believe in his book Collapse, which is that the Easter Islanders were incredibly sophisticated, but their methods weren’t sustainable. During the time they settled Easter Island, possibly between 700-1200 AD, they used up all the island’s trees and agricultural resources, and then had to move on. 

 

4. Catalhöyük
Often called the world’s oldest city, Catalhöyük was part of a large city-building and agricultural civilization thriving between 9,000-7,000 years ago in what is today south-central Turkey. What’s interesting about Catalhöyük is its structure, which is quite unlike most other cities since. It contained no roads as we know them, and was instead built sort of like a hive, with houses built next to each other and entered through holes in the roofs. It’s believed that people farmed everything from wheat to almonds outside the city walls, and got to their homes via ladders and sidewalks that traversed their roofs. Often, these people decorated the entrances to their homes with bull skulls, and buried the bones of their honored dead beneath the packed dirt of their floors. The civilization was pre-Iron Age and pre-literate, but they nevertheless left behind ample evidence of a sophisticated society, full of art and and public ritual, that was possibly 10,000 strong at many points in its 2,000 year existence. Why did people eventually abandon the city? It is unknown. 

 

5. Cahokia
Long before Europeans made it to North America, the so-called Mississippians had build a great city surrounded by huge earthen pyramids and a Stonehenge-like structure made of wood to track the movements of the stars. Called Cahokia today, you can still see its remains in Illinois. At its height between 600-1400 AD, the city sprawled across 6 square miles, and contained almost a hundred earthen mounds as well as an enormous grand plaza at its center. Its population might have been as much as 40,000 people, some of whom would have lived in outlying villages. The people of this great city, the biggest so far north in Mesoamerica, were brilliant artists, architects, and farmers, creating incredible art with shells, copper, and stone. They even diverted a branch of the local Mississippi and Illinois rivers to suit their needs for irrigation. It’s not entirely certain what led people to abandon the city starting in the 1200s, but some archaeologists say the city had always had problems with disease and famine (it had no sanitary system to speak of), and that people left for greener (and healthier) pastures elsewhere on the Mississippi River. 

10 Civilizations That Disappeared Under Mysterious Circumstances6. Göbekli Tepe
One of the most mysterious human structures ever discovered, Göbekli Tepe was probably built in 10,000 BCE, and is located in today’s southern Turkey. A series of nested, circular walls and steles, or monoliths, carved evocatively with animals, the place probably served as a temple for nomadic tribes in the area. It was not a permanent residence, though it’s possible a few priests lived there all year. It is the first permanent human-built structure that we have ever found, and probably represented the pinnacle of the local Mesopotamian civilization of its era. What were people worshiping there? When did they come? Were they there to do something other than worship? We may never know, but archaeologists are working hard to find out.

 

7. Angkor
Most people have heard of the magnificent temple Angkor Wat in Cambodia. But it was only one small part of a massive urban civilization during the Khmer Empire called Angkor. The city flourished during the late middle ages, from 1000-1200 AD, and may have supported up to a million people. There are a lot of good reasons why Angkor may have fallen, ranging from war to natural disaster. Now most of it lies beneath the jungle. A marvel of architecture and Hindu culture, the city is mysterious mostly because we still aren’t certain how many people lived there. Given all the roads and canals connecting its many regions, some archaeologists believe it may have been the biggest urban site in the world at its height. 

10 Civilizations That Disappeared Under Mysterious Circumstances8. The Turquoise Mountain
Though not every crumbling monument represents a lost civilization, some of them do. Such is the case with the Minaret of Jam, a gorgeous architectural feat built in the 1100s as part of a city in Afghanistan, where archaeological remains suggest that it was a cosmopolitan area where many religions, including Jews, Christians, and Muslims, lived together harmoniously for hundreds of years. It’s possible that the incredible minaret was part of the lost medieval capital of Afghanistan, called Turquoise Mountain.

 

9. Niya
Now a desolate spot in the Taklamakan Desert of Xinjiang province in China, 1600 years ago Niya was a thriving city in an oasis along the famous Silk Road. For the past two centuries, archaeologists have uncovered countless treasures in the dusty, shattered remains of what was once a graceful town full of wooden houses and temples. In a sense, Niya is a relic of the lost civilization of the early Silk Road, a trade route that linked China with Central Asia, Africa, and Europe.Many groups traveled the Silk Road, from wealthy merchants and religious pilgrims to scholars and scientists, exchanging ideas and creating a complex, enlightened culture everywhere the 4,000 mile Silk Road passed. The route underwent many changes, but its importance as a trade route waned as the Mongol Empire collapsed in the 1300s. Traders afterwards preferred sea routes for trade with China. 

 

10. Nabta Playa
From 7000 and 6500 BCE, an incredible urban community arose in what is today the Egyptian Sahara. The people who lived there domesticated cattle, farmed, created elaborate ceramics, and left behind stone circles that offer evidence that their civilization included astronomers as well.Archaeologists believe the peoples of Nabta Playa were likely the precursor civilization for the great Nile cities that arose in Egypt thousands of years later. Though the Nabta civilization is today located in an arid region, it arose at a time when monsoon patterns had shifted, filling the playa with a lake and making it possible for a large culture to bloom. 

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