Archive for 2011-05-29

Top 10 Bizarre Things in Space

From miniature black holes to distortions in the fabric of space-time, from galaxies that are eating each other to matter that can neither be seen nor detected directly…space is full of many strange things. And here are ten of the strangest, courtesy of MSN and
10. Quasars
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These beacons shine to us from the edge of the visible universe and are reminders to scientists of our universe's chaotic childhood. Quasars release more energy than hundreds of galaxies combined. The general consensus is that they are monstrous black holes at the hearts of distant galaxies. This image of the quasar 3C 273, photographed in 1979.
9. Vacuum Energy
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Quantum physics tells us that contrary to appearances, empty space is a bubbling brew of “virtual” subatomic particles that are constantly being created and destroyed. The fleeting particles endow every cubic centimeter of space with a certain energy that, according to general relativity, produces an anti-gravitational force that pushes space apart. Nobody knows what’s really causing the accelerated expansion of the universe, however.
8. Anti-matter
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Like Superman’s alter-ego, Bizzaro, the particles making up normal matter also have opposite versions of themselves. An electron has a negative charge, for example, but its anti-matter equivalent, the positron, is positive. Matter and anti-matter annihilate each other when they collide and their mass is converted into pure energy by Einstein’s equation E=mc2. Some futuristic spacecraft designs incorporate anti-matter engines.
7. Mini Black Holes
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If a radical new “braneworld” theory of gravity is correct, then scattered throughout our solar system are thousands of tiny black holes, each about the size of an atomic nucleus. Unlike their larger brethren, these mini-black holes are primordial leftovers from the Big Bang and affect space-time differently because of their close association with a fifth dimension.
6. Cosmic Microwave Background
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Also known as the CMB, this radiation is a primordial leftover from the Big Bang that birthed the universe. It was first detected during the 1960s as a radio noise that seemed to emanate from everywhere in space. The CMB is regarded as one of the best pieces of evidence for the theoretical Big Bang. Recent precise measurements by the WMAP project place the CMB temperature at -455 degrees Fahrenheit (-270 Celsius).

5. Dark Matter
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Scientists think it makes up the bulk of matter in the universe, but it can neither be seen nor detected directly using current technologies. Candidates range from light-weight neutrinos to invisible black holes. Some scientists question whether dark matter is even real, and suggest that the mysteries it was conjured to solve could be explained by a better understanding of gravity.
4. Exoplanets
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Until about the early 1990s, the only known planets in the universe were the familiar ones in our solar system. Astronomers have since identified more than 190 extrasolar planets (as of June 2006). They range from gargantuan gas worlds whose masses are just shy of being stars to small, rocky ones orbiting dim, red dwarfs. Searches for a second Earth, however, have so far turned up empty. Astronomers generally believe that better technology is likely to eventually reveal several worlds similar to our own.
3. Gravity Waves
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Gravity waves are distortions in the fabric of space-time predicted by Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity. The waves travel at the speed of light, but they are so weak that scientists expect to detect only those created during colossal cosmic events, such as black hole mergers like the one shown above. LIGO and LISA are two detectors designed to spot the elusive waves.
2. Galactic Cannibalism
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Like life on Earth, galaxies can “eat” each other and evolve over time. The Milky Way’s neighbor, Andromeda, is currently dining on one of its satellites. More than a dozen star clusters are scattered throughout Andromeda, the cosmic remains of past meals. The image above is from a simulation of Andromeda and our galaxy colliding, an event that will take place in about 3 billion years.
1. Neutrinos
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Neutrinos are electrically neutral, virtually mass-less elementary particles that can pass through miles of lead unhindered. Some are passing through your body as you read this. These “phantom” particles are produced in the inner fires of burning, healthy stars as well as in the supernova explosions of dying stars. Detectors are being embedded underground, beneath the sea, or into a large chunk of ice as part of IceCube, a neutrino-detecting project.

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10 More Truly Bizarre Deaths

We have already published two lists of strange deaths so we thought we should do a trilogy. Initially this new list is the fact that we have the opportunity for the entire group of people as one of the voices. Read the previous lists before this process and to participate freely in all additional entries through the comments.

The Donatists
Augustine And Donatists
Donatism was an early Christian heretical movement which was named after Donatus Magnus, Bishop of Carthage, in 313 AD. The Donatists believed that the Church should be a church of saints and not sinners. This view led huge numbers of them to seek out martyrdom – either by suicide, or by asking strangers (often in large groups) to kill them all. This was such a widespread belief that it is surprising to know that they survived (albeit as a very small sect) until the 7th or 8th century.
Al-Mustasim 1
In 1258 the Grandson of Genghis Khan (Hulagu Khan) invaded the Abbasid region (comprising modern Iraq and Syria). The Caliph (Al-Musta’sim) raised no repelling army and consequently fell into the hands of Hulagu who, being a relatively decent man, needed to execute him but didn’t want to spill royal blood. Khan came up with a brilliant idea. He had the Caliph rolled up in a rug and ordered his men to trample him to death with their horses. Such compassion was not shown for Al-Musta’sim’s sons, most of whom were summarily executed.
Clement Vallandigham
Clement Vallandigham was a member of the US House of Representatives, from Ohio. Vallandigham had not just a bizarre, but rather an ironic death: He was representing a defendant in a murder case for killing a man in a barroom brawl. Vallandigham wished to prove the victim had, in fact, killed himself while trying to draw his pistol from a pocket while rising from a kneeling position. As Vallandigham conferred with fellow defense attorneys in his hotel room, he decided to show them how he would demonstrate this to the jury. Grabbing a pistol he believed to be unloaded, he put it in his pocket and enacted the events as he imagined them to have happened, shooting himself in the process. Vallandigham proved his point, since the defendant, Thomas McGehan, was subsequently acquitted and released from custody.
Alexander I of Greece
Alexander I Of Greece
Alexander I, King of the Hellenes, died of sepsis caused by the bites of two monkeys three weeks earlier. The King was taking a walk in the Royal Gardens, when his dog was attacked by a monkey, and the King, attempting to defend it, received a bite by the animal and its mate. His death had, as a result, the reinstatement of his deposed father Constantine I who, being pro-German, changed the fortunes of the Greek nation for the years to come.
J G Parry-Thomas
J.G. Parry-Thomas (Small)
John Godfrey Parry-Thomas was a Welsh engineer, and motor-racing driver, who at one time held the Land Speed Record. He was killed at Pendine Sands in March 1927, while trying to regain his own world land speed record, that had been broken just weeks earlier by Malcolm Campbell on the same beach. He was suffering from influenza and turned down a lucky black cat charm from a little girl, announcing “I will put my faith in my maker!”. His Liberty engined car, Babs, used exposed chains to connect the engine to the drive wheels, while the high engine cover required him to drive with his head tilted to one side – the right. On his final run, the right-hand drive chain broke at a speed of 170 mph (270 km/h), causing a fatal head injury.
Tennessee Williams
Tennessee Williams With Cake Nywts
Tennessee Williams was an American playwright who received many of the top theatrical awards for his works of drama. He moved to New Orleans in 1939 and changed his name to “Tennessee”, the Southeastern U.S. state, his father’s birthplace. His greatest works are A Streetcar Named Desire and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. He suffered through his life with alcoholism, and had a nervous breakdown in 1969. In 1983, possibly dazed from drug use, he used his mouth to open an eyedrop bottle. He would routinely hold the bottle cap in his mouth while administering drops to his eyes. On this occasion, the lid of the bottle became lodged in his throat and he choked to death.
Garry Hoy
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Garry Hoy was a lawyer for the law firm of Holden Day Wilson, in Toronto. He is best known for the circumstances of his death; in an attempt to prove to a group of his partners at the firm that the glass in the Toronto-Dominion Centre was unbreakable, he threw himself through a glass wall on the 24th story and fell to his death after the window frame gave way. He had apparently attempted this stunt many times in the past, having previously bounced harmlessly off the glass. For his unusual death, Hoy was recognized with a Darwin Award in 1996.
Allan Pinkerton
Allan Pinkerton2
Allan Pinkerton was a Scottish American detective and spy, best known for creating the Pinkerton National Detective Agency, the first detective agency of the United States. In late June 1884, he slipped on a pavement in Chicago, biting his tongue as he did so. He didn’t seek treatment and the tongue became infected, leading to his death on 1 July 1884 of gangrene. At the time of his death, he was working on a system that would centralize all criminal identification records, a database now maintained by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Frank Hayes
Horse And Jockey
Frank Hayes was a jockey who is most well know for being the jockey to win a horse race whilst dead! Hayes suffered a fatal heart attack in the midst of a race at Belmont Park in New York atop his horse “Sweet Kiss”. Despite carrying a dead weight, Sweet Kiss ran ahead of the field and won the race.
Soldat Perses
Mithridates was a Persian soldier, who accidentally killed Cyrus the Younger (son of Darius II of Persia). For such a blunder he was put to death by scaphism. Here is an ancient account of his grueling 17 day death:
[The king] decreed that Mithridates should be put to death in boats; which execution is made in the following manner: Taking two boats framed exactly to fit and answer each other, they lay down in one of them the malefactor that suffers, upon his back; then, covering it with the other, and so setting them together that the head, hands, and feet of him are left outside, and the rest of his body lies shut up within, they offer him food, and if he refuse to eat it, they force him to do it by pricking his eyes; then, after he has eaten, they drench him with a mixture of milk and honey, pouring it not only into his mouth, but all over his face. They then keep his face continually turned towards the sun; and it becomes completely covered up and hidden by the multitude of flies that settle on it. And as within the boats he does what those that eat and drink must needs do, creeping things and vermin spring out of the corruption and rottenness of the excrement, and these entering into the bowels of him, his body is consumed. When the man is manifestly dead, the uppermost boat being taken off, they find his flesh devoured, and swarms of such noisome creatures preying upon and, as it were, growing to his inwards. In this way Mithridates, after suffering for seventeen days, at last expired. –Plutarch
Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. Text is derived from Wikipedia.


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The most Bizarre Traditions

Full Geisha tradition has now been replaced by a modern system. When Geisha were abundant in number. In 1900, there were more than 25,000 geisha. In the early 1930s, there were 80,000 geisha. Most were geisha in Kyoto, the ancient capital of Japan. There are currently fewer than 10,000 left geisha. In Tokyo, there are only 100 geisha back. But real geisha is much rarer. Modern geisha are not bought by poor families and brought into the geisha house as children. Becoming a geisha is now entirely voluntary, and women are not children of the Geisha can now become geisha. But training is as rigorous as before. Girls should be very engaged in learning the art of traditional Japanese dance, song, music and more.
Traditional Geisha did not offer the services of prostitution, though some modern ones are rumored to.
As practised from the 15th to 20th centuries in Western societies, a duel was a consensual fight between two people, with matched deadly weapons, in accordance with rules explicitly or implicitly agreed upon, over a point of honor, usually accompanied by a trusted representative (who might themselves fight), and in contravention of the law.
The duel usually developed out of the desire of one party (the challenger) to redress a perceived insult to his honor. The goal of the duel was not so much to kill the opponent as to gain “satisfaction,” i.e., to restore one’s honor by demonstrating a willingness to risk one’s life for it.
Duels could be fought with some sort of sword or, from the 18th Century on, with pistols. For this end special sets of duelling pistols were crafted for the wealthiest of noblemen. After the offence, whether real or imagined, the offended party would demand “satisfaction” from the offender, signalling this demand with an inescapably insulting gesture, such as throwing the glove before him, hence the phrase “throwing down the gauntlet”.
First off, in case you are confused, the photograph above is of a male Eunich. A eunuch is a castrated man; the term usually refers to those castrated in order to perform a specific social function, as was common in many societies of the past. In ancient China castration was both a traditional punishment (until the Sui Dynasty) and a means of gaining employment in the Imperial service. At the end of the Ming Dynasty there were 70,000 eunuchs in the Imperial palace. The value of such employment—certain eunuchs gained immense power that may have superseded that of the prime ministers—was such that self-castration had to be made illegal. The number of eunuchs in Imperial employ had fallen to 470 in 1912, when their employment ceased
Eunuchs castrated before puberty were also valued and trained in several cultures for their exceptional voices, which retained a childlike and other-worldly flexibility and treble pitch. Such eunuchs were known as castrati. Unfortunately the choice had to be made at an age when the boy would not yet be able to consciously choose whether to sacrifice his sexual potency, and there was no guarantee that the voice would remain of musical excellence after the operation.

The photograph here shows a group of concubines standing behind their protectors (usually Eunuchs). Concubinage is the state of a woman or youth in an ongoing, quasi-matrimonial relationship with a man of higher social status. Typically, the man has an official wife in addition to one or more concubines. Concubines have limited rights of support from the man, and their offspring are publicly acknowledged as the man’s children, albeit of lower status than children born by the official wife or wives.
Historically, concubinage was frequently voluntary (by the girl and/or her family’s arrangement), as it provided a measure of economic security for the woman involved. Involuntary, or servile, concubinage sometimes involves sexual slavery of one member of the relationship, typically the woman.
Seppuku (Hara-Kiri) was a key part of bushido, the code of the samurai warriors; it was used by warriors to avoid falling into enemy hands, and to attenuate shame. Samurai could also be ordered by their daimyo (feudal lords) to commit seppuku. Later, disgraced warriors were sometimes allowed to commit seppuku rather than be executed in the normal manner. Since the main point of the act was to restore or protect one’s honor as a warrior, those who did not belong to the samurai caste were never ordered or expected to commit seppuku. Samurai women could only commit the act with permission.
A Samurai was bathed, dressed in white robes, fed his favorite meal, and when he was finished, his instrument was placed on his plate. Dressed ceremonially, with his sword placed in front of him and sometimes seated on special cloths, the warrior would prepare for death by writing a death poem. With his selected attendant (kaishakunin, his second) standing by, he would open his kimono (clothing), take up his tantō (knife) and plunge it into his abdomen, making a left-to-right cut. The kaishakunin would then perform daki-kubi, a cut in which the warrior was all but decapitated (a slight band of flesh is left attaching the head to the body).

Human Sacrifice
Human sacrifice is the act of killing a human being for the purposes of making an offering to a deity or other, normally supernatural, power. It was practiced in many ancient cultures. The practice has varied between different cultures, with some like the Mayans and Aztecs being notorious for their ritual killings, while others have looked down on the practice as primitive. Victims were ritually killed in a manner that was supposed to please or appease gods or spirits. Victims ranged from prisoners to infants to Vestal Virgins, who suffered such fates as burning, beheading and being buried alive.
Over time human sacrifice has become less common around the world, and sacrifices are now very rare. Most religions condemn the practice and present-day laws generally treat it as a criminal matter. Nonetheless it is still occasionally seen today, especially in the least developed areas of the world where traditional beliefs persist.
Foot Binding
Footbinding was a custom practised on young females for approximately one thousand years in China, beginning in the 10th century and ending in the early 20th century. In Chinese foot binding, young girls’ feet, usually at age 6 but often earlier, were wrapped in tight bandages so that they could not grow and develop normally; they would, instead, break and become highly deformed, not growing past 4-6 inches (10-15 cm). Today, it is a prominent cause of disability among some elderly Chinese women.
First, each foot would be soaked in a warm mixture of herbs and animal blood. This concoction caused any necrotised flesh to fall off. Then her toenails were cut back as far as possible to prevent ingrowth and subsequent infections. To prepare her for what was to come next the girl’s feet were delicately massaged. Silk or cotton bandages, ten feet long and two inches wide, were prepared by soaking in the same blood and herb mix as before. Each of the toes were then broken and wrapped in the wet bandages, which would constrict when drying, and pulled tightly downwards toward the heel. There may have been deep cuts made in the sole to facilitate this. You can read more about the terrible practice of foot binding here.
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Sati was a Hindu funeral custom, now very rare and a serious criminal act in India, in which the dead man’s widow would throw herself on her husband’s funeral pyre in order to commit suicide. The act of sati was supposed to take place voluntarily, and from the existing accounts, most of them were indeed voluntary. The act may have been expected of widows in some communities. The extent to which any social pressures or expectations should be considered as compulsion has been the matter of much debate in modern times. It is frequently stated that a widow could expect little of life after her husband’s death, especially if she was childless. However, there were also instances where the wish of the widow to commit sati was not welcomed by others, and where efforts were made to prevent the death.
Sokushinbutsu were Buddhist monks or priests who allegedly caused their own deaths in a way that resulted in their being mummified. This practice reportedly took place almost exclusively in northern Japan around the Yamagata Prefecture. Between 16 and 24 such mummifications have been discovered.
For three years the priests would eat a special diet consisting only of nuts and seeds, while taking part in a regimen of rigorous physical activity that stripped them of their body fat. They then ate only bark and roots for another three years and began drinking a poisonous tea made from the sap of the Urushi tree, normally used to lacquer bowls. This caused vomiting and a rapid loss of bodily fluids, and most importantly, it killed off any maggots that might cause the body to decay after death. Finally, a self-mummifying monk would lock himself in a stone tomb barely larger than his body, where he would not move from the lotus position. His only connection to the outside world was an air tube and a bell. Each day he rang a bell to let those outside know that he was still alive. When the bell stopped ringing, the tube was removed and the tomb sealed. You can read more about this practice here.
Tibetan Sky Burial
Sky burial or ritual dissection was once a common practice in Tibet. A human corpse is cut into small pieces and placed on a mountaintop, exposing it to the elements and animals – especially to birds of prey. In one account, the leading mok cut off the limbs and hacked the body to pieces, handing each part to his assistants, who used rocks to pound the flesh and bones together to a pulp, which they mixed with tsampa (barley flour with tea and yak butter or milk) before the vultures were summoned to eat.
In several accounts, the flesh was stripped from the bones and given to vultures without further preparation; the bones then were broken up with sledgehammers, and usually mixed with tsampa before being given to the vultures. In another account, vultures were given the whole body. When only the bones remained, they were broken up with mallets, ground with tsampa, and given to crows and hawks that had waited until the vultures had departed.
The Communist government of China outlawed it in the 1960s so it was nearly a lost tradition, but they legalised it again in the 1980s.
The photograph above was taken by Rotem Eldar and you can see more rare photographs on his site here. WARNING: These photos are graphic.

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The 7 Wonders of the Ancient World

Recently there was a commotion in the world as 7 new wonders have been voted and chosen. So before everyone forgets the original list was completed on 7 wonders of the ancient world. The oldest extant copy of a list of seven wonders just Antipater of Sidon, about 140 BC. That the site from the list would be complete without the first list of celebrities?
1. Great Pyramid of Giza [Wikipedia]
Constructed: 2650-2500 BC
By:The Egyptians
The great pyramid is the Pyramid of Khufu (Cheops) which he had built for his tomb. When it was built, the Great pyramid was 145.75 m (481 ft) high. Over the years, it lost 10 m (30 ft) off its top. It ranked as the tallest structure on Earth for more than 43 centuries, only to be surpassed in height in the nineteenth century AD. It was covered with a casing of stones to smooth its surface (some of the casing can still be seen near the top of Khefre’s pyramid). The sloping angle of its sides is 51 degrees and 51 minutes. Each side is carefully oriented with one of the cardinal points of the compass, that is, north, south, east, and west. The horizontal cross section of the pyramid is square at any level, with each side measuring 229 m (751 ft) in length. The maximum error between side lengths is astonishingly less than 0.1%.
Sadly, this is the only one of the seven wonders still in existence.
2. Hanging Gardens of Babylon [Wikipedia]
Hgb Main Photo
Constructed: 600 BC
By: The Babylonians
Destroyed: After 1st Century BC
Cause: Earthquake
The Hanging Gardens were located in what is now Iraq and Nebuchadnezzar II (604-562 BC) is credited for having built them. It is said that the Gardens were built by Nebuchadnezzar to please his wife or concubine who had been “brought up in Media and had a passion for mountain surroundings”.
Strabo and Philo of Byzantium saw the gardens and said this:
“The Garden is quadrangular, and each side is four plethra long. It consists of arched vaults which are located on checkered cube-like foundations.. The ascent of the uppermost terrace-roofs is made by a stairway…”
“The Hanging Garden has plants cultivated above ground level, and the roots of the trees are embedded in an upper terrace rather than in the earth. The whole mass is supported on stone columns… Streams of water emerging from elevated sources flow down sloping channels… These waters irrigate the whole garden saturating the roots of plants and keeping the whole area moist. Hence the grass is permanently green and the leaves of trees grow firmly attached to supple branches… This is a work of art of royal luxury and its most striking feature is that the labor of cultivation is suspended above the heads of the spectators”.
3. Temple of Artemis at Ephesus [Wikipedia]
Artemis Color
Constructed: 550 BC
By: The Lydians, Persians, and Greeks
Destroyed: 356 BC
Cause: Arson
The Temple of Artemis was in the ancient city of Ephesus near the modern town of Selcuk, about 50 km south of Izmir (Smyrna) in Turkey. Those who saw it considered it to be the most beautiful structure on earth. The composer of the original list of 7 wonders said this: “But when I saw the sacred house of Artemis that towers to the clouds, the [other Wonders] were placed in the shade, for the Sun himself has never looked upon its equal outside Olympus.”
The foundation of the temple was rectangular in form, similar to most temples at the time. Unlike other sanctuaries, however, the building was made of marble, with a decorated façade overlooking a spacious courtyard. Marble steps surrounding the building platform led to the high terrace which was approximately 80 m (260 ft) by 130 m (430 ft) in plan. The columns were 20 m (60 ft) high with Ionic capitals and carved circular sides. There were 127 columns in total, aligned orthogonally over the whole platform area, except for the central cella or house of the goddess.
The temple housed many works of art, including four ancient bronze statues of Amazons sculpted by the finest artists at the time. When St Paul visited the city, the temple was adorned with golden pillars and silver statuettes, and was decorated with paintings. There is no evidence that a statue of the goddess herself was placed at the center of the sanctuary, but there is no reason not to believe so.
On the night of 21 July 356 BC, a man named Herostratus burned the temple to ground in an attempt to immortalize his name, which he did indeed. Alexander the Great was born the same night.
4. Statue of Zeus at Olympia [Wikipedia]
Constructed: 435 BC
By: The Greeks
Destroyed: 5th-6th Centuries AD
Cause: Unknown
This is the statue of the god in whose honor the Ancient Olympic games were held. It was located on the land that gave its name to the Olympics. At the time of the games, wars stopped, and athletes came from Asia Minor, Syria, Egypt, and Sicily to celebrate the Olympics and to worship their king of gods: Zeus.
The statue was so high that its head nearly touched the ceiling, giving one the impression that if he were to stand up, he would unroof the temple. It was so large that most descriptions that exist are of the throne and not the body or head of the god.
The Greek Pausanias wrote: On his head is a sculpted wreath of olive sprays. In his right hand he holds a figure of Victory made from ivory and gold… In his left hand, he holds a sceptre inlaid with every kind of metal, with an eagle perched on the sceptre. His sandals are made of gold, as is his robe. His garments are carved with animals and with lilies. The throne is decorated with gold, precious stones, ebony, and ivory.
5. Mausoleum of Maussollos at Halicarnassus [Wikipedia]
Constructed: 351 BC
By: The Persians, and Greeks
Destroyed: 1494
Cause: Earthquake
This is another burial place (like the Great Pyramid) which was located in the city of Bodrum (Halicarnassus) on the Aegean Sea, in south-west Turkey. The structure was rectangular in plan, with base dimensions of about 40 m (120 ft) by 30 m (100 ft). Overlying the foundation was a stepped podium which sides were decorated with statues. The burial chamber and the sarcophagus of white alabaster decorated with gold were located on the podium and surrounded by Ionic columns. The colonnade supported a pyramid roof which was in turn decorated with statues. A statue of a chariot pulled by four horses adorned the top of the tomb.
The beauty of the Mausoleum is not only in the structure itself, but in the decorations and statues that adorned the outside at different levels on the podium and the roof. These were tens of life-size as well as under and over life-size free-standing statues of people, lions, horses, and other animals. The statues were carved by four Greek sculptors: Bryaxis, Leochares, Scopas, and Timotheus, each responsible for one side. Because the statues were of people and animals, the Mausoleum holds a special place in history as it was not dedicated to the gods of Ancient Greece.
6. Colossus of Rhodes [Wikipedia]
Constructed: 292-280 BC
By: The Hellenistic Greeks
Destroyed: 224 BC
Cause: Earthquake
The Colossus was located at the entrance of the harbour of the Mediterranean island of Rhodes in Greece. Contrary to popular believe, the statue did not straddle the harbour, it stood to its side. The project was commissioned by the Rhodian sculptor Chares of Lindos. To build the statue, his workers cast the outer bronze skin parts. The base was made of white marble, and the feet and ankle of the statue were first fixed. The structure was gradually erected as the bronze form was fortified with an iron and stone framework. To reach the higher parts, an earth ramp was built around the statue and was later removed. When the colossus was finished, it stood about 33 m (110 ft) high. And when it fell, “few people can make their arms meet round the thumb”, wrote Pliny.
Sadly the statue stood for a mere 56 years, but was so beautiful that it earnt its place in the seven wonders. We do not know what the statue looked like so only guesses can be made in attempts to draw it.
7. Lighthouse of Alexandria [Wikipedia]
Constructed: 3rd Century BC
By: The Hellenistic Egyptians
Destroyed: 1303-1480 AD
Cause: Earthquake
The Lighthouse of Alexandria was located on the ancient island of Pharos, now a promontory within the city of Alexandria in Egypt. Of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, only one had a practical use in addition to its architectural elegance: The Lighthouse of Alexandria. For sailors, it ensured a safe return to the Great Harbor. For architects, it meant even more: it was the tallest building on Earth. And for scientists, it was the mysterious mirror that fascinated them most. The mirror’s reflection could be seen more than 50 km (35 miles) off-shore.
Of the six vanished Wonders, the Lighthouse of Alexandria was the last to disappear. Therefore we have adequately accurate knowledge of its location and appearance. Ancient accounts such as those by Strabo and Pliny the Elder give us a brief description of the “tower” and the magnificent white marble cover. They tell us how the mysterious mirror could reflect the light tens of kilometers away.
The internal core was used as a shaft to lift the fuel needed for the fire. At the top stage, the mirror reflected sunlight during the day while fire was used during the night. In ancient times, a statue of Poseidon adorned the summit of the building.
The descriptions of the Wonders used here is taken from the work of Associate Professor Alaa Ashmawy.\


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Another 10 Great Historical Warriors

Unsolved Mystery. -This is a sequel to the first list featuring great historical warriors. Some feature more on classes, while others are more groups of people. I hope you enjoy this list and please offer any other warriors for a possible third list. This time I tried to focus a little less on major known warriors, but I put a couple of well known ones in there too.
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The Ya̧nomamö are a large population of indigenous Amerindian people in South America. They reside in the Amazon rainforest, among the hills that line the border between Brazil and Venezuela. Due to the remoteness of their residence, they had remained largely untouched by the outside world until the beginning of the 20th century. Historically, more than a third of the Ya̧nomamö males, on average, died from warfare. The accounts of missionaries to the area have told of constant infighting by men in the tribes, for women or prestige. There is historical evidence of continuous warfare for the enslavement of neighboring tribes, such as the Macu, before the arrival of European settlers and government. [Image Source]
Shaolin Monk
If Only
Shaolin monks are probably the most peaceful of the group, because they would avoid fighting wherever possible. Although when they did they were great fighters. They developed Kung Fu as a way to train both mind and body. They were known for fighting with weapons such as a wooden rod, twin hooks, or a whip chain. Based purely on the skill of the fighters, the monk should be ranked higher, but they were not the blood thirsty killers some of the others on the list were. Zhou Tong was a famous monk, known for his archery and almost legendary accuracy. The Shaolin reigned throughout China for many hundreds of years, and their temples and monasteries are found in China to this day.
Azande Warrior
The Azande were a tribe in Northern Central Africa – mainly in The Congo. They were ruthless killers, and even made a throwing knife that was considered so evil that it was banned for time in certain parts of Africa. They were also very good at using a makrigga, a barbed spear, or a Makraka, a curved knife. They would also never go into battle without their signature shield, and maybe a couple of poison tipped arrows for long distance fighting. They were at their strongest in the 1800s, and no European power ever took them over.
Scottish Highlanders
Lotd History
Scottish Highlanders were a group of people living in the highlands of Scotland. They were renowned for their fighting, and were especially good using a long sword. They had a similar fighting style to the Vikings, and other barbaric groups of northern Europe. They were very effective with weapons such as an ax, war hammer and dagger. The most famous highlander was William Wallace, who became legendary at the battle of Stirling Bridge, and to this day serves as inspiration to similar groups fighting for independence.
 Alphonse Marie Adolphe De Neuville The Huns At The Battle Of Chalons
The Huns were the fierce horseman warriors of Asia. They were feared throughout Asia and the Roman Empire. They are most well known for their great leader, Attila. They were masters of using their own hunic bow, that was unrivaled for almost a thousand years. Because of their ferocity, they contributed to the fall of the Roman Empire. They were also pretty decent with a combination of swords and axes, but a skilled archer on horseback is what made them so deadly. Their empire spread all the way from parts of Europe to China, but as soon as Attila died everything eventually collapsed. They reigned from A.D. 370-469. 

Thebans were located around Greece. They were a major rival of Athens and other Greek city states. They had a great army, especially the Sacred Band of Thebes, an all-gay group of 150 male couples who were among the best fighters in the world. In battle they were able to stand their ground against the Spartans, and sometimes even beat them. These 150 gay couples formed the elite of the Theban army, and were recognized for their great passion in battle. The reason they aren’t higher is because, besides the sacred band of Thebes, the rest of the army was usually defeated by stronger Greek city-states. They reigned from the 6th century B.C. to 335 B.C., until they were defeated by the force of the Greek city-states and, eventually, the Greek empire.
The Zulu were South African tribesman who built one of the biggest empires Africa had ever seen. They were led by Shaka Zulu, who greatly changed the way warfare was fought in Africa. He trained them to ignore pain, and they participated in Zulu stick fighting where they would try to hit their opponents. No one usually died, but it taught them to fight even if they are in severe pain. They dominated other tribes using their signature shield, ilkwa, a spear, the Zulu ax, and a throwing stick called an Iwisa. They ruled from 1816 to 1897, but were defeated by the British, using cannons and machine guns. Even though they did not rule for very long, they had some of the toughest and well trained warriors Africa had ever seen.
Gurdan Saini- Rajput.342205257
Rajputs were warriors who fought in Northern India. Rajputs were very similar to the samurai of Japan, or the knights of Europe. They protected the country and fought with a great sense of honor. They would usually fight to the last man, and would almost never surrender. Similar to the Shaolin monks, they were also trained in martial arts and had a good variety of weapons. The Khanda, a long sword, was their main weapon, but they also used a talwar (a curved sword) after the 16th century. They also utilized a chakram, a flying disk, the katar dagger, and a form of “whip sword” called an Aara. They ruled India all the way from the 6th century to when the British ruled in the 1800s.
Scythians were the original Huns. They were among the best horsemen the world has ever seen, if not the best. They were also master archers and, like the Huns, used the archer on horseback to win battles. They combined this with their ruthlessness in battle, which included scalping their opponents and drinking their blood. Besides being great horsemen and archers, they were also good with a spear, battle ax and dagger. They were masters of hit and run tactics, and built a good sized empire in modern day Ukraine, Russia and parts of Asia. They ruled from about the 8th century B.C. to the 3rd century B.C. They were conquered by a group of people including the Greeks, Huns and others from the “steppes of Asia.”
Byzantine Cataphract
Byzantine Greek Alexander Manuscript Cataphract (Cropped)
The Byzantine Cataphract is number one on this list because they were almost impossible to kill. They were similar to a knight but were fully covered head to toe in plate armor, that could weigh up to 88 pounds. The thing that separated them from the knights of medieval Europe was the fact that they covered their horses completely in armor, also. They were usually elite cavalry who would spearhead an attack using a pike or lance. While the Cataphract was a vague term for a soldier, I chose the Byzantine Cataphract because they perfected it first. They used them perfectly and this gave them a good ratio of speed and protection. This helped the Byzantine Empire rule for over a thousand years from 330-1453, until they were conquered by the Ottomans.

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Top 5 Unsolved Mysteries

Unsolved Mystery.-This list comprises the most famous unsolved mysteries known to man that really defy rational explanation or are just outright strange.
1. Shroud of Turin [Wikipedia]
The shroud of Turin is a linen cloth bearing the image of a man who had apparently died of crucifixion. Most Catholics consider it to be the burial shroud of Jesus Christ. It is currently held in the Cathedral of St John the Baptist in Turin, Italy. Despite many scientific investigations, no one has yet been able to explain how the image has been imprinted on the shroud and despite many attempts, no one has managed to replicate it. Radiocarbon tests date it to the middle ages, however apologists for the shroud believe it is incorrupt – and carbon dating can only date things which decay.
Prior to the middle ages, reports of the shroud exist as the Image of Edessa – reliably reported since at least the 4th century. In addition, another cloth (the Sudarium) known even from biblical times (John 20:7) exists which is said to have covered Christ’s head in the tomb. A 1999 study by Mark Guscin, a member of the multidisciplinary investigation team of the Spanish Center for Sindonology, investigated the relationship between the two cloths. Based on history, forensic pathology, blood chemistry (the Sudarium also is reported to have type AB blood stains), and stain patterns, he concluded that the two cloths covered the same head at two distinct, but close moments of time. Avinoam Danin (a researcher at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem) concurred with this analysis, adding that the pollen grains in the Sudarium match those of the shroud.
2. Mary Celeste [Wikipedia]
Mary Celeste 250203
Mary Celeste was launched in Nova Scotia in 1860. Her original name was “Amazon”. She was 103 ft overall displacing 280 tons and listed as a half-brig. Over the next 10 years she was involved in several accidents at sea and passed through a number of owners. Eventually she turned up at a New York salvage auction where she was purchased for $3,000. After extensive repairs she was put under American registry and renamed “Mary Celeste”.
The new captain of Mary Celeste was Benjamin Briggs, 37, a master with three previous commands. On November 7, 1872 the ship departed New York with Captain Briggs, his wife, young daughter and a crew of eight. The ship was loaded with 1700 barrels of raw American alcohol bound for Genoa, Italy. The captain, his family and crew were never seen again. The ship was found floating in the middle of the Strait of Gibraltar. There were no signs of struggle on board and all documents except the captain’s log were missing.
In early 1873, it was reported that two lifeboats grounded in Spain, one with a body and an American flag, the other containing five bodies. It has been alleged that these could have been the remains of the crew of the Mary Celeste. However, the bodies were apparently never identified.
3. The taos hum [Wikipedia]
The ‘Taos Hum’ is a low-pitched sound heard in numerous places worldwide, especially in the USA, UK, and northern europe. It is usually heard only in quiet environments, and is often described as sounding like a distant diesel engine. Since it has proven indetectable by microphones or VLF antennae, its source and nature is still a mystery.
In 1997 Congress directed scientists and observers from some of the most prestigious research institutes in the nation to look into a strange low frequency noise heard by residents in and around the small town of Taos, New Mexico. For years those who had heard the noise, often described by them as a “hum”, had been looking for answers. To this day no one knows the cause of the hum.
4. Black Dahlia [Wikipedia]
In 1947 the body of 22 year old Elizabeth Short was found in two pieces in a parking lot in Los Angeles. According to newspaper reports shortly after the murder, Short received the nickname “Black Dahlia” at a Long Beach drugstore in the summer of 1946, as a play on the then-current movie The Blue Dahlia. However, Los Angeles County district attorney investigators’ reports state the nickname was invented by newspaper reporters covering the murder. In either case, Short was not generally known as the “Black Dahlia” during her lifetime.
Many rumours and tales have spread about the Black Dahlia, and the investigation (one of the largest in LA history) never found the killer.
5. Comte de Saint Germain [Wikipedia]
The Count of St. Germain (allegedly died February 27, 1784) was a courtier, adventurer, inventor, amateur scientist, violinist, amateur composer, and a mysterious gentleman; he also displayed some skills with the practice of alchemy. He was known as ‘Der Wundermann’ — ‘The Wonderman’. He was a man whose origin was unknown and who disappeared without leaving a trace.
Since his death, various occult organizations have adopted him as a model figure or even as a powerful deity. In recent years several people have claimed to be the Count of St. Germain. (Note that St Germain was never regarded as a saint by the Roman Catholic Church – the “st.” before his name refers to his alleged home).

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