The world is full of mysterious events, bizarre concepts, and unexplained technologies. The Flynn effect is the name given to the long-sustained increase in human intelligence across generations. The effect shows that on average, people are getting smarter over time. The intelligence curve has never been more evident than in the last ten years, with advancements in computer technology and neurological science. All of this change has caused some people to look at past and future events with wonderment. Here are ten more questions to make you think.
Q: Will an asteroid collide with Earth in the near future?
As we move into 2012, astronomers have located a collection of near-Earth asteroids that may pose a future threat. 2011 AG5 is a near-Earth asteroid and potentially hazardous object. It was discovered on January 8, 2011, by the Mt. Lemmon Observatory, which is located near Tucson, Arizona. The object has a diameter of about 140 meters (460 feet) and is noted for a potential close approach to Earth in the year 2040. In fact, the asteroid has a 1 in 625 chance of impacting Earth between the years of 2040 and 2047.
In September 2013, 2011 AG5 will make another pass by Earth, which will give astronomers a chance to make adjustments to their projected trajectory of the object. 2011 AG5 is currently rated on the Torino Scale at Level 1, which means it poses no immediate threat, but has caught the attention of space agencies around the world. It has been estimated that if an asteroid the size of 2011 AG5 was to hit Earth, the explosion would produce a major event equivalent to 100 megatons of TNT.
2007 VK184 is an asteroid with a rating on the Torino Scale of Level 1. 2007 VK184 and 2011 AG5 are currently the only near-Earth objects to be listed above Level 0 for potential impacts within 100 years. The object was discovered on November 12, 2007, by the Catalina Sky Survey. 2007 VK184 has a 1 in 1,820 chance of hitting Earth during June 2048. It is estimated that the asteroid has a diameter of 130 meters (426 feet), and travels through space with a speed of 15.63 km/s relative to the Earth.
Most recently, on February 23, 2012, an asteroid named 2012 DA14 was discovered by the OAM Observatory, La Sagra in Spain. Calculations show that on February 15, 2013, the distance between 2012 DA14 and Earth will be only 27,000 km (17,000 mi), which is closer than most orbiting satellites. The diameter of 2012 DA14 is about 44 meters (144 feet), and it has been estimated that an impact with the asteroid would produce an explosion similar to the 1908 Tunguska event.
Currently, 2012 DA14 rates 0 (No Hazard) on the Torino scale, but the asteroid has showed signs of a potential impact (1 in 83,000) in 2020. Scientists are currently interested in the asteroid’s orbit, which is not fully understood. For the most part, as we enter the middle of 2012, it appears that humanity has no immediate threat from a near-Earth asteroid. However, we always need to keep our eyes on the sky.
Q: What really happened to Sonny Bono?
Most people identify Sonny Bono with music and Cher. However, he was also a United States politician and member of the House of Representatives from California. Bono entered politics after experiencing frustration with the state of California. In the House of Representatives, he was vital in the restoration of the Salton Sea. Bono helped bring the lake’s plight to national attention. He was also extremely popular in the United States. In fact, in 1997, if you asked a high ranking official who they saw winning the Republican nomination for the 2000 presidential election, Bono’s name would have been mentioned.
Sonny Bono died on January 5, 1998, due to injuries sustained when he crashed into a tree while skiing on the Nevada side of Heavenly Ski Resort near South Lake Tahoe, California. In a bizarre coincidence, his death occurred a little less than a week after Michael Kennedy, a son of Robert F. Kennedy, died in a similar skiing accident in Aspen, Colorado. Bono remains the only member of the U.S. Congress to have scored a #1 pop single on the US Billboard chart. After his death, Sonny Bono’s body was buried and his autopsy was not made public for a couple years. In 2008, the U.S. Globe tabloid published a shocking story that was picked up by news agencies around the world.
The story claims that Sonny Bono, who was a great skier, was actually assassinated and beaten to death at Heavenly Ski Resort. It says that Bono had uncovered information that linked a series of U.S. government officials to a group of arms and weapons dealers in Central America and Southeast Asia. “He was going to make it his No.1 priority. There’s no doubt in my mind that Sonny was murdered by someone who needed him silenced.”
It was reported that Bono had discovered corruption in the government, including videotaped evidence. His autopsy apparently revealed severe head trauma. According to the report, Bono had “a black eye, swollen lips, bloody nose, bruised jaw, and two upper teeth knocked out, all on the right side of the head,” as well as several “fractures in a central depressed region on the right side of the skull.” Finally, the article added that “the back of Bono’s clothes was soaked with blood, but he had no back wounds.” Sonny Bono’s death is mysterious and shows signs of foul play. We can only wonder where his political career would have taken him.
L’Inconnue de la Seine
Q: Who is the unknown woman of the Seine?
As the story goes, in the 1880s, the body of a young unidentified woman was pulled from the Seine River at the Quai du Louvre in Paris. The woman’s body showed no signs of violence and her death was ruled a suicide. After the corpse was brought to the Paris morgue, a pathologist was so taken by her beauty that he had a plaster death mask made. The woman’s age was estimated to be no more than 16 and her face quickly became famous at the end of the 19th century. The woman’s smile was compared to the Mona Lisa and girls all over the world, most notably in France and Germany, copied her look. According to Hans Hesse of the University of Sussex, “the image became the erotic ideal of the period, as Brigitte Bardot was for the 1950s.”
L’Inconnue de la Seine was a major inspiration for artists of all kinds, including Albert Camus, Rainer Maria Rilke, and Anaïs Nin. In fact, the first aid mannequin Resusci Anne (Rescue Annie) was modeled after the death mask. Resusci Anne was created by Peter Safar and Asmund Laerdal in 1958 and used in numerous CPR courses. Since its introduction, several versions of Resusci Anne have been produced and people all over the world use the dolls for different rescue techniques. For this reason, the face of the unknown woman of the Seine has been called “the most kissed” of all time.
The true details surrounding the death of the woman have been debated for years. Some people feel that the image is too lifelike to have been taken from a dead woman. They have claimed that the picture shows a living girl that is closing her eyes. People often point to the fact that the woman’s body doesn’t show any signs of water decay, which is often evident with drowning. Whatever the case, the picture remains one of the most influential portraits in history.
Q: What happened to Charlotte Moberly and Eleanor Jourdain?
The Moberly-Jourdain incident was an event that occurred on August 10, 1901, in the gardens of the Petit Trianon, located on the grounds of the Palace of Versailles in France. The event involved two female academics, Charlotte Anne Moberly (1846–1937) and Eleanor Jourdain (1863–1924). In 1901, the two women planned a trip to the Palace of Versailles. After investigating the gardens for a while, they became disoriented and found themselves on an unknown road. At this moment, the women claimed to have been overcome with a feeling of oppression and dreariness.
During the event, Moberly and Jourdain described a collection of palace gardeners who told them “to go straight on.” Moberly later described the men as “very dignified officials, dressed in long grayish green coats with small three-cornered hats.” She also said that she suddenly felt the atmosphere change and wrote: “Everything suddenly looked unnatural, therefore unpleasant; even the trees seemed to become flat and lifeless, like wood worked in tapestry. There were no effects of light and shade, and no wind stirred the trees.”
The women then ran into a man with smallpox and another person described as “tall with large dark eyes and crisp curling black hair under a large sombrero hat.” After crossing a bridge, the pair reached the gardens in front of the palace, and Moberly noticed a lady sketching on the grass who looked at them. She later said it was Marie Antoinette. However, Jourdain did not see her. The women were then directed to a party. They had tea at the Hotel des Reservoirs before returning to Jourdain’s apartment. After leaving Versailles, neither Jourdain nor Moberly mentioned the incident to one another for a week.
Convinced that the grounds were haunted, Charlotte and Eleanor decided to publish their findings in a book titled An Adventure (1911), under the pseudonyms of Elizabeth Morison and Frances Lamont. The book contained the claim that the women had experienced a time slit and that Marie Antoinette was encountered. It caused an instant sensation and received a large amount of ridicule. The identity of the authors of An Adventure was not made public until 1931. During their lifetime, both women were reported to have a large number of paranormal experiences. The incident is said to have influenced the work of J. R. R. Tolkien.
Q: In the future, will humans be able to remove rare materials from asteroids?
Asteroid mining refers to the possibility of exploiting rare materials from asteroids in order to make a profit on Earth. A large number of asteroids hold rare minerals and volatiles, including iron, nickel, titanium, platinum, and cobalt. In fact, a relatively small metallic asteroid with a diameter of 1.6 km (0.99 mi) contains more than 20 trillion US dollars worth of industrial and precious metals. Another startling fact is that all the gold, cobalt, iron, manganese, nickel, platinum, rhodium, ruthenium, and tungsten found on Earth once came from an asteroid impact.
Asteroid mining is an important issue because the key elements needed for modern industry, including antimony, zinc, tin, silver, lead, indium, gold, and copper, could be exhausted within 50-60 years. Currently, the cost of returning material from asteroids outweighs the market value, but this could change once precious metals become extinct on Earth.
433 Eros is a near-Earth asteroid discovered in 1898. It was one of the first asteroids to be visited by a spacecraft, and the first to be orbited and soft-landed on. In 2000, NASA’s NEAR Shoemaker entered orbit around Eros and came to rest on its surface in 2001. The asteroid is known to have an enormous gold deposit. In fact, the gold on 433 Eros has been valued in excess of a thousand billion dollars, which is 200,000 times the amount of gold that has ever been mined on Earth.
On August 25, 2011, an extrasolar planet named PSR J1719-1438 b was found in the Serpens constellation. After the discovery, it was announced that the planet is most likely made of crystalline carbon, or one huge diamond. At the time, PSR J1719 -1438 b was the densest planet ever found, at nearly 20 times the density of Jupiter. It has been hypothesized that the object is the remnant of a white dwarf, but it doesn’t retain enough temperature to emit light like all other white dwarfs, so the true classification of PSR J1719-1438 b remains unclear. The discovery might be the first true example of a carbon or diamond planet.
Q: Who took the hands of Perón?
Juan Domingo Perón was an Argentine military officer and politician. During his lifetime, Perón was elected the President of Argentina on three separate occasions. He and his second wife, Eva Duarte, are immensely popular among many Argentines and are considered icons by the Peronists. After Juan Perón’s death in July, 1974, of heart failure, his body was embalmed and placed in a coffin in the Perón family tomb in Chacarita Cemetery, Buenos Aires. In July 1987, the Peronist Justicialist Party received an anonymous letter that claimed that Juan Perón’s hands had been removed from his body, along with his army cap and sword. The letter demanded that the party pay a US$8 million ransom for the items return.
After an investigation, it was confirmed that Juan Perón’s tomb had in fact been broken into and his hands were removed with a surgical instrument or electric saw. The perpetrators also took a poem from the tomb that was written by Perón to his last wife, Isabel. Following Argentina’s policy, the head of the Justicialist Party, Vicente Saadi, refused to allow the ransom to be paid. A criminal investigation was launched, but nobody was ever charged in the case and the hands of Perón remain lost to this day. In an interesting twist, many of the people involved with the case have since died under mysterious circumstances.
It has been suggested that the theft had some official support because the robbers used a key to enter the tomb. Some journalists feel that Perón’s hands were taken because they were seen as a symbol of his power and had a great cultural meaning in Argentina. People who have examined the case have written that the act may be an attempt to promote democracy in Argentina, as Juan Perón was seen as a dictator by some. In their book Unveiling the Enigma, Damian Nabot and David Cox wrote that the P2, also known as the Propaganda Due, were involved in the theft, and that they used a ritual ceremony to remove Perón’s hands.
Q: What is the deal with the Salton Sea, Meteor Crater, lost ships in the desert, and the San Andreas Fault?
This entry will examine some bizarre geological occurrences in southern California and the Four Corners region of the United States. The Salton Sea is one of the strangest places in the world. The sea was formed accidentally between 1905 and 1907, when the Colorado River burst through poorly built irrigation controls. The resulting flood destroyed farms and communities. Currently, the Salton Sea sits directly on the San Andreas Fault in California’s Imperial Valley. It is the largest lake in California and occupies the lowest elevations of the Salton Sink.
In the middle of the 20th century, the Salton Sea turned from a freshwater lake to a sea. The Salton Sea’s salinity, about 44 g/L, is greater than that of the waters of the Pacific Ocean (35 g/L), but less than that of the Great Salt Lake, which ranges from 50 to 270 g/L. The salt is thought to have come from a prehistoric ocean. The Salton Sea is also home to a large amount of toxic run-off and industrial waste. The greater part of the Salton Sink is submerged under highly polluted water. The adjacent land is under military control and the habitat of the area has resulted in the death of millions of birds and fish.
The San Andreas Fault is a fault that runs for 810 miles (1,300 km) through California. In the past, the southern part of the fault has been the site for a large number of earthquakes. On average one every 180 years. However, such an event has not been recorded for 300 years. For this reason, researchers have become concerned that the current dams on the Colorado River are contributing to the quiet streak. If so, a large amount of pressure could be building up in the fault, which could ultimately cause an enormous earthquake.
The Lost Ship of the Desert is a legend about ancient ships found in California’s Colorado Desert. Since after the U.S. Civil War, stories have been told about buried ships hidden in the desert north of the Gulf of California. The most famous example is the Lost Galleon. The Galleon stories started shortly after the Colorado River flood of 1862. In the Los Angeles Daily News of August 1870, the ship was described as “a half buried hulk west of Dos Palmas, California, and 40 miles north of Yuma, Arizona.”
Finally, we need to discuss the Meteor Crater and its possible impact on the geological landscape of this region of the United States. Meteor Crater is an enormous hole and impact crater located approximately 43 miles (69 km) east of Flagstaff, Arizona. It is said to be “the first proven, best-preserved meteorite crater on earth.” It has been estimated that the crater was formed about 50,000 years ago, but others argue for a more recent date. The diameter of the hole is 1.186 kilometers (0.737 mi) and the impact is known to have devastated the area. Most studies on the crater examine the fact that it is an impact crater, but little is written about the predicted effect the object had on the geological landscape of America.
Q: What was the gelatinous substance that fell on Oakville, Washington in 1994?
On August 7, 1994, a bizarre gelatinous substance fell on the town of Oakville, which is a small logging community on the western edge of Washington State. Over a period of three weeks, the rain was spotted a total of six times, mostly in the middle of the night. By the afternoon of August 7, the residents of Oakville began to complain of a mysterious illness. They described having difficulty breathing, extreme vertigo, blurred vision, and an increased sense of nausea. One of the town’s residence Beverly Roberts was quoted as saying that everyone in town contracted a flu-like illness that lasted two to three months. Additionally, several cats and dogs that came into contact with the substance fell ill and died.
A sample of the substance was taken to a hospital and found to contain a large amount of human white blood cells, but nobody could identify how it came from the sky. The sample was then sent to the Washington State Department of Health for further study and determined to have two species of bacteria, one of which lives in the human digestive system. Because of the findings, the substance was initially speculated to be human waste from an airplane, but that was disproven. Evidence from the sample has supported the fact that the substance was alive.
Some people have linked the strange rain with a series of U.S. bombing runs that were carried out over the Pacific in August of 1994, while others are convinced that the town was used for a U.S. military experiment designed to test a new form of biological weapon. During the event, Oakville residents reported a significant, almost daily increase in the amount of slow-moving military aircraft in the skies over their town, but not much ground traffic was observed. Before the first rain was reported, a series of black helicopters were spotted in the area.
Some people have also connected the history of gelatinous rain with chemtrails in the United States. The chemtrail conspiracy holds that some trails left by streaking jets are actually chemical or biological agents deliberately sprayed at high altitudes for purposes undisclosed to the general public. There actually is a patent (United States Patent 6,315,213) which describes a method for artificially modifying the weather by seeding rain clouds of a storm with suitable cross-linked aqueous polymer. However, the current benefit of such a process in unknown. Others have connected the Oakville blobs with the historic accounts of star jelly.
Q: What happened to the paintings, gold, diamonds, and precious jewels stolen from the Hungarian Gold Train?
On March 7, 1944, as the Soviet Army was approaching Hungary, Hitler launched Operation Margarethe (the invasion of Hungary). At the time, the fascist government of Hungary, led by Ferenc Szálasi, was collaborating with the Third Reich, and forced over 800,000 Jewish citizens of Hungary to concentration camps. The government also took the people’s belongings, including gems, gold, jewelry, wedding rings, and anything else considered of high monetary value. In the spring of 1944, the Red Army was almost to Budapest, so Hungarian officials put together a plan to evacuate the Jewish loot by train to avoid Soviet capture.
A large collection of the valuables were placed on a 42 car freight train and sent to Germany. According to various reports, the contents included gold, gold jewelry, gems, diamonds, pearls, watches, about 200 paintings, Persian and Oriental rugs, silverware, chinaware, furniture, fine clothing, linens, porcelains, cameras, stamp-collections, and currency. In 1945, the estimated total value of the train’s contents was $350 million or almost $4 billion in 2007. In May of 1945, the train was seized in Austria by Allied troops, first the French Army and then the United States. The majority of the assets were sold through U.S. Army exchange stores in Europe in 1946 or auctioned off in New York City in 1948 with the proceeds going to the International Refugee Organization (IRO). The auction receipts totaled $152,850 or approximately $1.3 million in 2007.
In the end of the 1940s, notable objects from the train kept showing up in the possession of high ranking U.S. Army officers who were stationed in Central Europe, most notably chinaware, silverware, glassware, rugs, and bed linen. The fate of approximately 200 paintings seized from the train remains unknown. The art was deemed a “cultural assets” under U.S. restitution policy, so it should have been returned to the country of origin, but instead found its way to Austria and was lost. A huge amount of gold has also been unaccounted for.
Most of the details of the Hungarian Gold Train were kept secret from the public by the United States government until 1998. In that year, United States President Bill Clinton prepared a report which detailed the handling of the train’s assets by the United States, including a multitude of “shortcomings” of the restitution effort. In 2001, a lawsuit against the United States government was filed by Hungarian Holocaust survivors in Florida over the mishandling of assets on the Hungarian Gold Train. In 2005, the government reached a settlement worth $25.5 million. The money was allocated for distribution to various Jewish social service agencies for the benefit of Holocaust survivors.
Q: How close are humans to achieving transhumanism?
As we move into the 21st century, people have begun to question the degree of scientific advancement in the world. There is no doubt that a large discrepancy exists in the proportion of money spent to discoveries made in the field of neurological science. In many countries, a large number of experiments are kept secret from the public in hopes of gaining a military edge. This is understandable, but it makes you wonder exactly what the human population has discovered. Could we have found a way to enhance human strength or intellectual ability? Is it possible that people could map a human’s brain and control bodily movements? Is it possible that we could eliminate aging?
Transhumanism is an intellectual and cultural movement that assumes scientists are trying to find a way to alter the human condition by developing a wide range of techniques to eliminate aging and to greatly enhance human intellectual, physical, and psychological capacities. People who follow transhumanism predict that humans may eventually be able to transform themselves to have greatly expanded abilities. If this happens, it will cause a shift in the food chain, which will brand certain human genes superior. The theory states that the current version of humanity is not at an endpoint of evolution, but rather in an early phase.
Many transhumanist theorists seek to apply technology for the purposes of reducing poverty, disease, disability, and malnutrition around the globe, rather than the improvement of humans at the individual level. Basically, what makes you better than me? The theory states that humanity may eventually enter a state of existence where natural evolution is going to be replaced with deliberate change, either purposefully or not. Transhumanists who foresee this massive change generally maintain that it is a good thing, but should be handled responsibility. The theory has been condemned by one critic, Francis Fukuyama, as the world’s most dangerous idea. One proponent, Ronald Bailey, says the “movement epitomizes the most daring, courageous, imaginative, and idealistic aspirations of humanity.”