Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Haunted Castle For Sale in Maine

Via mysteriousuniverse.org by Paul Seaburn

A haunted castle is up for sale in Maine. A good question might be: “What is a castle doing in Maine?” A better question might be: “Isn’t ‘haunted castle’ redundant?” Whatever the question, the answer is that it can be yours for only $2.5 million. At that price, the ghosts should at least pay rent or help with the cleaning.

At 7 Singles Road in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, sits the Beckett Castle. According to the real estate listing, the two-story residence has 3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, a 3-story tower and 1,981 square feet of living space. In England, that would be called a garage or a shed, but Beckett Castle was built in 1874 as a summer cottage for Sylvester Beckett, a prominent lawyer, publisher and poet who lived and worked in Portland. Unlike most lawyers, Beckett was good with his hands and reportedly built the castle himself out of local gray fieldstone. Facing Casco Bay on the southern tip of Maine, it has a fabulous view ocean view and easy access to sailing, fishing and other water activities, and has been nominated to the National Register of Historic Places.

Sounds good so far, right? Check out the photos here.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Yet another test for general relativity; yet another “A” for Einstein

Image: NRAO/AUI/NSF; S. Dagnello
Via astronomynow.com

Einstein’s understanding of gravity, as outlined in his general theory of relativity, predicts that all objects fall at the same rate, regardless of their mass or composition. This theory has passed test after test here on Earth, but does it still hold true for some of the most massive and dense objects in the known universe, an aspect of nature known as the Strong Equivalence Principle?

An international team of astronomers has given this lingering question its most stringent test ever. Their findings, published in the journal Nature, show that Einstein’s insights into gravity still hold sway, even in one of the most extreme scenarios the Universe can offer.

In 2011, the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Green Bank Telescope (GBT) discovered a natural laboratory to test this theory in extreme conditions: a triple star system called PSR J0337+1715, located about 4,200 light-years from Earth. This system contains a neutron star in a 1.6-day orbit with a white dwarf star, and the pair in a 327-day orbit with another white dwarf further away.

“This is a unique star system,” said Ryan Lynch of the Green Bank Observatory in West Virginia, and coauthor on the paper. “We don’t know of any others quite like it. That makes it a one-of-a-kind laboratory for putting Einstein’s theories to the test.”

Since its discovery, the triple system has been observed regularly by the GBT, the Westerbork Synthesis Radio Telescope in the Netherlands, and the NSF’s Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico. The GBT has spent more than 400 hours observing this system, taking data and calculating how each object moves in relation to the other.

The Curse of the Pharaoh and the Man Who Discovered King Tut’s Tomb

Via mysteriousniverse.org by Brett Tingley

Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun (or “King Tut”) remains one of the most well-known of all the ancient Egyptian rulers thanks to the fact that his tomb was discovered almost entirely intact in 1922. Tut’s tomb provided Egyptologists with a rare glimpse into the life and death of an Egyptian pharaoh. That’s not to say that there isn’t still a great deal of mystery surrounding Tut, due to long-held beliefs that there might be hidden chambers surrounding his tomb containing yet untold wonders – or even the remains of the queen Nefertiti.

Actually, ground penetrating radar revealed that Nefertiti is not in fact hiding somewhere close to Tut’s tomb. Still, Tut and his tomb still present several archaeological mysteries which are still unsolved today. Among the most controversial of them is the legend that there is a curse related to Tut’s tomb. In the years following the discovery of the tomb, it was said that the explorers and archaeologists who entered the tomb began dying untimely and unexplained deaths. Over time, a popular urban legend arose describing a “Curse of the Pharaohs” which hunted down any mortals who happened to step foot in these hallowed tombs.

It’s true that some of the first individuals to step into Tut’s tomb after its opening died within a short time. George Edward Stanhope Molyneux Herbert, the 5th Earl of Carnarvon and the financier of the expedition to discover Tut’s tomb, died within a few months after a mosquito bite became infected. Another visitor, George Jay Gould, died of a fever a month later. In all, there were 11 untimely deaths of individuals related to the discovery of Tut’s tomb within the first 10 years of its discovery. However, recent studies have found that these rates of death are in no way higher than is to expected, particularly when you consider the conditions some of these explorers had to face. Still, there are some suspicious and unexplained deaths of these Egyptologists, even an assassination. It’s even been alleged that some of these deaths may have been at the hands of Aleister Crowley. Could there really be a Curse of the Pharaohs?

China brings Star Wars to life with ‘laser AK-47’ that can set fire to targets a kilometre away

Image Credit: ZKZM Laser Company
Via scmp.com by Stephen Chen

China has developed a new portable laser weapon that can zap a target from nearly a kilometre away, according to researchers involved in the project.

The ZKZM-500 laser assault rifle is classified as being “non-lethal” but produces an energy beam that cannot be seen by the naked eye but can pass through windows and cause the “instant carbonisation” of human skin and tissues.

Ten years ago its capabilities would have been the preserve of sci-fi films, but one laser weapons scientist said the new device is able to “burn through clothes in a split second … If the fabric is flammable, the whole person will be set on fire”.

“The pain will be beyond endurance,” according to the researcher who had took part in the development and field testing of a prototype at the Xian Institute of Optics and Precision Mechanics at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Shaanxi province.

The 15mm calibre weapon weighs three kilos (6.6lb), about the same as an AK-47, and has a range of 800 metres, or half a mile, and could be mounted on cars, boats and planes.

It is now ready for mass production and the first units are likely to be given to anti-terrorism squads in the Chinese Armed Police.

10 Of History’s Most Cartoonish Deaths

Via listverse.com by Micah Hirsch

The universe has a morbid sense of humor. We’ve known this ever since apes were allowed to have consciousness. However, the universe sometimes feels the need to remind us of this fact.

At times, it does this by giving absolute power to the least deserving or by sending off a human being in a manner that sounds like something approved by ACME Corporation. So, let’s take a look at some people who have lived and died in a way that only Wile E. Coyote could.
10. Demonstrating A Suicide

On June 17, 1871, Representative Clement Vallandigham of Ohio died in the name of justice—accidentally. Retiring to his law practice after a life of treason, Vallandigham was attempting to prove a client innocent of murder by arguing that the victim shot himself.

Prior to the trial, Vallandigham headed to open land to determine the level of residue left by a point-blank shot and then left the field with three live rounds in his pistol. Arriving back at his hotel, he was handed a parcel with the unloaded gun used by the victim. He laid that gun beside his own pistol. Leaving his suite, he pocketed the deadlier of the two choices of weaponry.

Confident in his case, he entertained a hotel visitor with a live demonstration of his argument. It’s fair to say that it was very convincing. While Vallandigham wasn’t present for the occasion, his client was ultimately cleared. And though the novelty had worn off, another man met his death in the same fashion while trying to demonstrate how Vallandigham killed himself.[1]
9. Killer Robot

In 1981, Kenji Urada jumped over a fence labeled “Off Limits” to check on a malfunctioning machine at a Kawasaki Heavy Industries plant. In doing so, he accidentally hit the “on” switch, prompting a robot arm to crush him against a machine for processing automobile gears.[2]

His coworkers didn’t know how to stop the machine, hence Urada became the second man in human history to be killed by a robot. Thankfully, the company introduced safety measures after his death to isolate industrial robots within their plants.

The Bizarre Nameless Thing of Berkeley Square

Via mysteriousuniverse.org by Brent Swancer

There are cases out there in the realm of the paranormal that are really hard to classify. It is sometimes difficult to ascertain if we are dealing with a supposed ghost, a mysterious lifeforms of some sort, or something else altogether. Such accounts can baffle and confuse, often accompanied by a blurring of facts and historical records to the point that it is nearly impossible to disentangle fancy from reality. Among the truly strange stories of the unexplained we have that of a building situated right in the middle of London’s swankiest and most historical areas, which has long been said to be the lair of something not of this earth.

The whole very bizarre series of events begins first and foremost with a place called Berkeley Square, which lies at Mayfair, Central London, and was originally laid out in the mid 18th century by famed architect William Kent. It would go on to become a place for the wealthy to reside, a symbol of opulence and a marquee area to live in, with many rich, famous, and influential figures such as George Canning and Winston Churchill himself staying here over the years. Yet this place of wealth and eminent stature would go on to accrue a rather sinister reputation as the haunt of something beyond our understanding, and it begins at house number 50, a single four-story brick townhouse right in the middle of the square.

Although there have been rumors of something strange going on in the dwelling since it was erected, our story truly starts to take off in 1840, when 20-year-old Sir Robert Warboys was supposedly at his local watering hole one evening and talk turned to 50 Berkeley Square and the rumor that it was haunted by some sort of ghost or demon. The somewhat inebriated Warboys thought the story was a bunch of “poppycock,” and flatly let everyone know as much, completely dismissing any tales of ghosts and goblins.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Are we alone? The question is worthy of serious scientific study

This photograph was taken in Wallonia, Belgium.
J.S. Henrardi
Via theconversation.com by Keith Knuth

Are we alone? Unfortunately, neither of the answers feel satisfactory. To be alone in this vast universe is a lonely prospect. On the other hand, if we are not alone and there is someone or something more powerful out there, that too is terrifying.

As a NASA research scientist and now a professor of physics, I attended the 2002 NASA Contact Conference, which focused on serious speculation about extraterrestrials. During the meeting a concerned participant said loudly in a sinister tone, “You have absolutely no idea what is out there!” The silence was palpable as the truth of this statement sunk in. Humans are fearful of extraterrestrials visiting Earth. Perhaps fortunately, the distances between the stars are prohibitively vast. At least this is what we novices, who are just learning to travel into space, tell ourselves.

I have always been interested in UFOs. Of course, there was the excitement that there could be aliens and other living worlds. But more exciting to me was the possibility that interstellar travel was technologically achievable. In 1988, during my second week of graduate school at Montana State University, several students and I were discussing a recent cattle mutilation that was associated with UFOs. A physics professor joined the conversation and told us that he had colleagues working at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Great Falls, Montana, where they were having problems with UFOs shutting down nuclear missiles. At the time I thought this professor was talking nonsense. But 20 years later, I was stunned to see a recording of a press conference featuring several former US Air Force personnel, with a couple from Malmstrom AFB, describing similar occurrences in the 1960s. Clearly there must be something to this.

With July 2 being World UFO Day, it is a good time for society to address the unsettling and refreshing fact we may not be alone. I believe we need to face the possibility that some of the strange flying objects that outperform the best aircraft in our inventory and defy explanation may indeed be visitors from afar – and there’s plenty of evidence to support UFO sightings.

UFO Sightings are Up in Chile, Down in the U.S.

Via mysteriousuniverse.org by Paul Seaburn

If you want to see a UFO, where’s the best place in the world to go? If you want to not just see a UFO but be seen by one … perhaps even abducted by one … where should you stand and wave? According to the director of the Ovniological Research Group of Chile, the answer to the first question is Chile and to the second is Patagonia, the southern tip of South America shared by Chile and Argentina. If you answered “the U.S.” to either query, we have some nice parting gifts for you (a laurel and hearty handshake) because UFO trackers in the U.S. say sightings are down and they’re not sure why.

In an interview with the Spanish international news agency Agencia EFE, Rodrigo Fuenzalida, the director of the Agrupación de Investigaciones Ovniológicas de Chile (Ovniological Research Group of Chile or AION), declared that Chile has long been a good place to see UFOs, especially northern Chile, because of the country’s “clean” skies. UFOs have been reported in many places, including over Chilean copper mines, volcanoes and cows. However, if you want to step inside a UFO, Fuenzalida suggests heading south to Patagonia, where they have been occurring since 1997.

“The Patagonia, without a doubt, is the one that at the moment concentrates the greater amount of interesting cases that make that we as an organization are concentrating all our efforts in that region. Even in the UFO series, produced by National Television, we managed to record that 70% of the abductions that we had placed in the program had been registered in that place. “

Why Patagonia? Possibly because aliens are already there. In an interview in 2017 with TiempoSur, Patricio Frias. Regional Ufologo and director of the UFO organization Noise Patagonia, says the abundance of minerals and fresh water in Patagonia may have already attracted tall, intelligent extraterrestrials:

“Patagonia is visited by intelligence that we can not understand. They told me in that place that there is the phenomenon that occurs there, with a lot of energy. I have been reported presence of humanoid species in that place. A person from birth came scared in his truck. He told us that he had seen on the road, that people were walking with bright helmets and a light on their foreheads. They approached these people and realized that it was something out of the ordinary. The height of the beings was more than two and a half meters.”

NASA’s Parker probe is about to get up close and personal with the sun

Via sciencenews.org by Maria Temming

NASA’s Parker Solar Probe is about to embark on one daredevil stunt of a space mission.

Slated to launch August 4, the probe will be the first spacecraft to swoop through the sun’s outer atmosphere, or corona, a roiling inferno of plasma heated to several million degrees Celsius.

Parker will whip around the sun two dozen times over the next seven years, skirting within about 6 million kilometers of the star’s surface — more than seven times as close as any previous spacecraft. At its nearest approach, Parker will hurtle through the corona at about 700,000 kilometers per hour, making the craft the fastest human-made object in the solar system. The probe would need only about a second to zip from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C.

Parker’s closeup observations of the corona and the solar wind, the torrent of charged particles that the sun spews into space, could help resolve long-standing mysteries about the inner workings of the sun’s atmosphere. And the new data may improve forecasts for space weather that endangers spacecraft, astronauts and technology on the ground.

The trove of new data gathered by this probe “is going to answer a lot of questions that we couldn’t answer in any other way,” says Craig DeForest, a heliophysicist at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colo., who is not involved in the mission. “There’s been a tremendous amount of anticipation.”

10 UFO Encounters That Involve Alien Humanoid Entities

Via listverse.com by Marcus Lowth

Seeing lights in the sky is perhaps one thing, even if these strange, unknown objects are witnessed close-up. However, seeing such craft with humanoid beings on board is completely another. The same can be said of closer, direct encounters with humanoid creatures presumably from another world.

There are more recorded accounts of such encounters than many people might think, ranging from standoffs with mysterious beast-like men who vanish into thin air to outright abduction by dark humanoid figures who spread nothing but feelings of menace and fear. Here are ten of the most intriguing of these alleged otherworldly encounters.
10. The Imjarvi Incident

While skiing near the village of Imjarvi, Finland, in the late afternoon of January 7, 1970, experienced skiers Aarno Heinonen and Esko Viljo each came to a stop on a glade they would regularly use to rest. As they did so, each could hear a strange buzzing sound nearby. As they scanned the darkening sky, they focused in on a strange light moving quickly toward them. The buzzing sound became louder and louder as the light came closer.

When the object came within roughly 3 meters (10 ft) of the pair, it emitted a strange “red gray mist” which cloaked the craft and its immediate surroundings entirely. As the two men looked on, a sudden, intensely bright beam of light shot out from underneath the craft.

As the two men recovered from the temporary blindness caused by the sudden light, Heinonen suddenly felt as if “someone pulled him backwards” and almost fell back to the ground. As his feet became steady once more, both men noticed “the creature” standing in the glow of the lit tube. In its grip was a strange black box, itself appearing to be illuminated from inside by a yellow glow. After a few moments, the creature, which the men would describe as humanoid adult but with the “frame of a child,” pointed the box toward Heinonen, sending red-gray mist and a flurry of sparks in his direction. As the mist’s thickness grew, so did the light, until suddenly, the craft and the humanoid were gone. Heinonen, however, found that his right leg was numb and needed assistance from his friend in returning home. He would later pass black urine.[1]

The incident is believed by many researchers to be genuine, although some of the claims made by Heinonen of interactions with “blond alien women” following the encounter were not received quite so well and ultimately damaged his credibility.

9. The Kinnula Encounters

The following year saw more humanoid sightings in Finland, this time in Kinnula.[2] On February 2, 1971, just after 8:00 PM, two women driving toward Oulu through Kinnula noticed that they were being followed by a strange light above them. The light eventually caught up to their car, which caused the driver to bring it to a halt. As she did so, the light suddenly vanished. However, where it was now stood a 90-centimeter-tall (3′) humanoid in a brown-green suit and a tight-fitting helmet. It looked at the two women before disappearing into the woods at the side of the road. Rather than pursue it, the ladies sped toward their destination.

Three days later, in the same region, two lumberjacks would witness a similar humanoid creature. Petter Aliranta and Esko Sneck decided to pack up for the day just after 3:00 PM as the snow continued to fall and looked to get heavier. As they did so, Aliranta noticed a silver disc hovering silently over a clearing in the trees.

The object would land shortly after, and a moment later, a roughly meter-tall humanoid creature emerged from the clearing. Dressed in a one-piece suit of green and wearing a helmet with a face mask similar to that of a scuba diver, the strange being started toward the two men. Sneck turned his industrial chainsaw toward it, which forced the being to retreat back toward its craft. According to the report, both men then gave chase, with Aliranta even managing to grab the creature’s heel, which resulted in a shot of pain entering his entire body. Seconds later, the silver disc, with the short humanoid back on board, lifted into the air, shot upward, and vanished.

New Theory Blames Ghosts for Mysterious Dog Suicide Bridge

Overtoun House (Wikipedia)
Via mysteriousuniverse.org by Paul Seaburn

The Overtoun Bridge spans the Overtoun Burn (stream) in the village of Milton near Dumbarton in West Dunbartonshire, Scotland. Above the bridge is Overtoun House, a stately 19th-century country house which has also been a maternity hospital, a mission and a movie set. Below the bridge are dead dogs. Wait, what?

Reports dating back to the 1950s claim that as many as 600 dogs have mysteriously leapt from the Overtoun Bridge and fallen 50 feet to the shallow waters below. At least 50 have died and many of the rest were crippled for life. Studies have found that dogs are most often long-nosed breeds like German Shepherds and Scottish Terriers, jump on clear days and only from one side of the bridge. While it’s not believed that animals can be suicidal (there have been isolated instances of cows leaping off cliffs, but the reason is usually a predator), that was the accepted cause until 2005 when canine psychologist Dr. David Sands claimed the dogs were driven to jump by the strong odor of male mink urine from nests below.

How boring.

“With new evidence gathered from teams of psychics, ghost hunters and dowsers who carried out research at the bridge, a new picture of Overtoun is emerging: a supernatural one.”

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Parapsychology has been unfairly sidelined, claims a new review of the field

Via digest.bps.org.uk by Alex Fradera

A number of notable figures from psychology’s past held an interest in parapsychology or psi (the study of mental phenomena that defy current scientific understanding), including William James, Alexander Luria, Binet, Freud, and Fechner. But today the field is cordoned off; and when it encroaches into mainstream publications, as with the “Feeling the Future” experiments conducted by Daryl Bem in 2012, furore typically follows. To sceptics, the fact that these experiments produced positive results is ipso facto proof that psychology’s methods must be broken.

However, it’s only logical to take this view if you have already ruled out the existence of psychic phenomena and, at least among the US public, the majority haven’t. Even in the chronically suspicious British culture, one quarter of people have consulted a psychic. I too am personally quite open to the existence of such phenomena, so I’ve been eager for an accessible overview of the field of parapsychology as it currently stands. This is what parapsychology researcher Etzel Cardeña, Director of the Centre for Research on Consciousness and Anomalous Psychology at Lund University, attempts to provide in his new review in American Psychologist.