S: Stuff You Should Know Vol. 3 by Marti Ingram
BC: Never Stop Learning!
FC: Stuff You Should Know Vol. 3 | by Marti Ingram
1: 1: Five Most Amazing Caves 2: What Was In Peter The Great's Cabinet of Curiosities? 3: The World's Strangest Museums 4: Top 10 Eeriest Coincidences 5: Ergot Poisoning & The Salem Witch Trials 6: England, Spain, & An Ear 7: How to Read Roman Numerals | Page 2 Page 9 Page 17 Page 33 Page 44 Page 51 Page 55 | Table of Contents
2: FIVE MOST AMAZING CAVES While most of us like to think we're standing on solid ground, the reality is quite the contrary: The Earth just beneath our feet is kind of like Swiss cheese. It's riddled with holes, networks of them, carved into layers of stone by dripping water or eaten away by acid over millions of years. And when those holes have an opening at the surface of the Earth and are big enough for a human to climb into, they're called caves. The most common caves are limestone caves. They've been eroded by mildly acidic water flow, often from rain or melting snow. Water becomes acidic when it mixes with carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Limestone erodes easily, and there are tremendous networks of winding caverns underground in areas with limestone landscapes (a geological feature called karst). More rarely, caves result from intense occurrences like volcanic activity or the release of sulfuric acid from underground sulfur deposits.
3: However they're formed, caves can be incredible sights. Most have been slowly decorated over unimaginable time frames by the water that carved them out. As temperature changes cause minerals to come out of solution, stalactites grow downward from the roof and stalagmites grow upward from the floor. The two meet in the middle to form columns. Minerals collect on walls, creating massive, textured murals, and water features dot the underground landscape. Sometimes, entire rivers run underground. In this article, we'll take a look at five of the most amazing caves out there. Each contains incredible features that make them noteworthy, and most of them are open to the public -- even to the nonspelunking public. | Salt cave in Eastern Europe
4: Number 5: Carlsbad Caverns Carlsbad Caverns National Park New Mexico, United States A whole other world lies beneath the Guadalupe Mountains in Carlsbad, N.M. It took millions of years to produce the enormous underground rooms that draw visitors to Carlsbad Cavern National Park from around the world. The stalactites and stalagmites look like something from a Dr. Seuss book. With three known levels, at 750 feet (229 meters), 900 feet (274 meters) and 1,350 feet (411 meters) below ground, respectively, there's plenty for those visitors to experience. | The caverns seem decorated with some of the most stunning cave features around, including the Giant Dome, a column measuring 62 feet (19 meters) tall and 16 feet (5 meters) in diameter, and the Frozen Waterfall, a stone creation that bears an uncanny resemblance to its namesake. There are stalagmites and stalactites of every shape and size, as well as basins lined with onyx crystals. Still, perhaps the most shocking aspect of the Carlsbad cave system is its size. A single chamber in Carlsbad Caverns, aptly named the Big Room, measures 4,000 feet (1,200 meters) long and up to 625 feet (190 meters) wide and 350 feet (107 meters) tall. And that's just what's been discovered so far: The caverns are still being explored and uncovered.
5: Number 4: Cave of Crystals (Mexico) Naica Mountain Naica, Mexico In Naica, Mexico, volcanic activity created conditions that would one day lead to an amazing discovery: A cave housing what may be the largest crystals in the world. Cueva de los Cristales, or the Cave of Crystals, is a natural marvel of cause and effect. A volcanic eruption built Naica Mountain, depositing tons of anhydrite, which is a high-temperature form of gypsum. When the magma beneath the mountain cooled, the anhydrite dissolved into molecules that seeped down with the water. Beneath the mountain, those molecules came out of solution and crystallized, creating gypsum crystals that have grown to lengths of up to 36 feet (11 meters). These crystals are most likely unmatched anywhere in the world, due to the unique conditions of the Naica caves in terms of both water flow and temperature range. Some have compared the sight to Superman's home -- mammoth, glittering crystals jutting out from every surface. But only a relative few have seen the Cave of Crystals up close. Discovered in 2000 by a couple of miners, Cueva de los Cristales is part of an active mine, and it gets so hot down there that the cave researchers and journalists who have gotten a peek have had to wear full protective gear.
6: Number 3: Mammoth Cave Mammoth Cave National Park Kentucky, United States It took 10 million years for Kentucky's Green River to create Mammoth Cave, and it shows: Mammoth Cave lives up to its name. It's the longest known cave in the world, by far: Measuring approximately 360 miles (580 kilometers) long, it's four times longer than the second longest cave, Optimisticeskaya in the Ukraine. And that's just the part of Mammoth that's has already been explored. Experts believe the cave might extend 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers). It's not just extreme in length, either. Mammoth Cave boasts some interesting life forms, like eyeless fish, shrimp and beetles as well as spiders with no pigmentation. There are tremendous columns, like the 192-foot (59-meter) Mammoth Dome, and rivers running through the lowest levels of the cave. Visitors to Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky can check out 10 miles (16 kilometers) of the extensive cave system.
7: Number 2: Mulu Caves Mulu National Park Sarawak, Borneo On the island of Borneo, visitors can tour some of the biggest and longest cave passages in the world, all within a single cave system. The Mulu Caves beneath Mulu National Park were carved out of limestone over millions of years, and so far, 125 miles (200 kilometers) of underground cavern have been explored; it's possible there's three times that distance waiting to be discovered. | The Mulu Caves boast several honors. According to the Sarawak Forestry Department, Mulu has the largest passage, in Deer Cave; the largest chamber, Sarawak Chamber; and the longest cave in Southeast Asia in the form of Clearwater Cave. The cave system offers tours for everyone from beginners to experienced spelunkers. Those looking for a real expert experience can attempt the 10 or so hours of total darkness required to navigate Sarawak Chamber.
8: Number 1: Waitomo Glowworm Caves Waitomo, New Zealand In New Zealand, music lovers can go underground to experience some of the most memorable performances. The Waitomo Glowworm Caves have hosted musical events due to the system's incredible acoustics. Specifically, the music venue is The Cathedral, a 60-foot-tall (18-meter) room on the cave's lower level that has hosted the likes of the Vienna Boys' Choir and Dame Kiri Te Kanawa. Its unique acoustics are said to produce an incredibly pure sound. But that's not actually what the caves are famous for. As the name implies, the Waitomo Glowworm Caves have their own indoor illumination: thousands of Arachnocampa luminosa glowworms. The mosquito-sized creatures are found only in New Zealand and cast a glow over the cave's interior. Visitors can particularly enjoy the glow during a boat trip down Waitomo River, which runs through the lower level of the cavern.
9: Article Two: What was in Peter the Great's Cabinet of Curiosities?
10: You know that dodgy part of town, the run-down area where artists compete side-by-side with panhandlers for handouts? Say you're walking around there, and you enter an odd little shop. You're greeted by a dangling anatomy class skeleton with 'real' vampire fangs and elongated claws. If you think, "I'm home," then you would've had a fine time living in Europe during the 17th and 18th centuries. It was during these centuries that a trend developed of collecting odd, unnerving, surprising and exotic items and stuffing them into cramped areas with no rhyme or reason to their arrangement. These collections, called wunderkammern (or "wonder chambers") -- known in the West as cabinets of curiosity -- often were presented in cabinets. In other instances, these cabinets were actually large rooms, filled from floor to ceiling with exotic (and sometimes repulsive) items. The concept of displaying unique and unusual items in rooms may sound a bit familiar; wunderkammern were the direct predecessors of the modern museum. In fact, several famous museums in Europe can trace their heritage directly back to wunderkammern. The first museum in Russia's history, the Kunstkamera, opened to the public in 1719. Russian Czar Peter the Great decreed its construction. The Kunstkamera was based around the bizarre items found within Peter the Great's famous cabinet of curiosities.
11: Peter, who ruled Russia from 1682 to 1725, was known for his thirst for knowledge as much as his disregard for human life. He was a lover of science who used his peasantry as targets for live ammunition military exercises. But Peter was devoted and gracious to the men of learning who compiled the collections that he purchased and coveted. During the Dark and Medieval Ages, the Catholic Church countered scientific inquiry with painful death. With the dawn of the Age of Exploration, rational thought began to emerge from the shadows. The world opened up along oversea trade routes, and merchants returned to Europe from strange and exotic lands with impressive relics. These were prized by early scientists, who collected the items, forming the first wunderkammern.
12: Looking in on these wunderkammern was fashionable among Europe's wealthy classes. But to those who amassed the items, wunderkammern were far more than passing fancies. Each item in these collections presented an opportunity to explore and catalog one more piece of the world. Some artifacts were more dubious than others. One may have found a mummy's hand situated next to a reputed mermaid's hand. And their arrangement within the cabinet or room followed no logical pattern. Instead, the items were tucked away wherever they could fit. As a result, macabre combinations often emerged, like a perfectly symmetrical dried starfish book-ended by a syphilis-ravaged skull and a fetish (an idol representing a god) from some South American cult. | Other collections were of a medical nature; anatomical oddities like conjoined twins were highly prized, as were abnormalities like human skulls with horns. Peter the Great's cabinet of curiosity featured scores of teeth he'd personally pulled -- he considered himself a dentist. Wunderkammern were in vogue in Europe and provided Peter with a perfect opportunity to expand his learning, as well as fanning interest to his people. Peter was interested in bringing Russia out of cultural isolation and into a more Eurocentric society. A government under constant threat of usurpation kept him busy, and he had to purchase others' collections rather than collect his own novelties. He had a standing order for his merchants and military to bring back any items of interest for his wunderkammer.
13: Peter the Great invested in two collections that had achieved considerable prominence. One was that of Dutch scientist Frederik Ruysch. His wunderkammer was a spectacle, indeed. His collection focused on the bizarre, using medical anomalies as his focus. Ruysch developed techniques for preserving tissue, and he used his methods to create amazing works of art. He often featured fetal skeletons in woodland scenes. Closer inspection reveals the trees and other flora -- the "woodland landscape" -- to be intricate constructions of veins and arteries. The handkerchiefs into which some skeletons wept were actually flayed brain tissue. Peter also purchased the collection of another Dutchman, Albertus Seba. He sold the contents of his wunderkammer to Peter in 1717 for 15,000 guilders. Seba's contribution to Peter's collection consisted largely of exotic animal specimens, such as preserved squid, poisonous toads and butterflies. | Although these exhibits sound morbid and strange, there was a purpose behind them. To Peter, the study of abnormal specimens meant dispelling popular myths about the involvement of the devil in the development of what the peasantry considered to be "monsters". As a result, a major part of Peter's collection consisted of pickled fetuses and sections of the human body. Peter actually made it legal to dissect bodies, when it had previously been considered illegal and blasphemous. In 1718 he ordered that deformed human and animal fetuses be delivered to him so that they could be studied. This part of the wunderkammer extended to the animal kingdom, as well. It included a two-headed sheep and a four-legged rooster.
14: Tsar Peter I attended Frederick Ruysch's anatomical lessons in the winter of 1697 - 1698. These classes were given at the anatomical theatre in Amsterdam's Weight House for several days in succession, until the cadaver began to decompose. Frederick Ruysch also devised a way to conserve parts of the body for longer periods. He created wet and dry preparations by injecting the blood and lymph vessels with a special liquid of secret composition. "See for yourself", was his motto. In other words: not to believe anything based on another's authority, without having seen it with one's own eyes. The motto in his guest book was "Vene, vidi et judica nil tuis oculis" (Come, see and judge, believe only your own eyes). The contributions to human understanding that Peter's and others' collections of oddities generated is incalculable. But wunderkammern also left behind other traces over the centuries. | Albert Seba | Frederick Ruysch
15: Our awareness of the biodiversity among flora and fauna on Earth allows us to understand the importance of sustaining life at all levels. And while you may not know the intricacies of human anatomy, in a pinch, you can probably find someone who does. We may take knowledge of these things for granted -- we can fulfill our curiosity by simply opening a book or searching on the Internet. But this vast availability of information comes to us from the spirit of inquiry fostered by the wunderkammern. When the Kunstkamera, Ashmolean and other museums opened to the public, they provided a model for future museums. These early museums also represented a departure from the hallmark of cabinets of curiosity: odd juxtaposition. Museums' contents were put into context. The collections became divided along thematic lines. Relics from old and distant cultures were housed in anthropological and ethnographic museums, while specimens of exotic flora and fauna were classified in natural history and medical museums. But cabinets of curiosity never strayed too far from human awareness. It's perhaps our natural attraction to repulsion that has continued our interest in wunderkammern and their descendants. In addition to scientific inquiry, there's a certain amount of morbid curiosity to any wunderkammer. After all, who can gaze upon a preserved baby arm floating in a jar and not be simultaneously repulsed and intrigued?
16: If the descriptions of wunderkammern remind you a bit of today's carnival freak show, fear not. There's a fine distinction between side shows and wunderkammern: one is for profit, the other for science. They appear to have evolved side-by-side, as well. In fact, one of the specimens in Peter's collection actually made the jump from carnival to wunderkammern. Peter found a French giant named Bourgeois (whose mother, ironically, was a dwarf) at a carnival in 1717. The czar paid the giant to be his servant until 1724, when Bourgeois died and his body was subsequently put on display in the Kunstkamera, alongside his preserved, oversized heart. A similar collection to the early Kunstkamera items can be found in the United States. The Mutter Museum in Philadelphia houses strange medical specimens, like preserved cross sections of a human face and the skeleton of a human who suffered from fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva -- a genetic disorder that causes bone to grow in place of muscular tissue. The spirit of wunderkammern is alive and well in other quarters of American curation. In 2002, the New York Public Library held a "Cabinet of Curiosities" exhibit. The collection featured a copy of Ray Bradbury's "Fahrenheit 451" bound in an asbestos cover, eyeglasses belonging to Jesse James' mother, a pencil made by Henry David Thoreau and a copy of the "Gay Monopoly" board game. And there are still plenty of curio shops that resemble and owe their lineage to wunderkammern. Like that odd little shop you walked into at the beginning of the article. Go ahead, have a look around.
17: Article 3: The World's Strangest Museums
18: Almost every major city in the world is home to at least one or two major museums. Some are dedicated to science and history, while others are dedicated to art and culture. Each has a collection of artifacts or exhibits sure to educate or amaze each and every visitor who happens to pass through. On the other hand, there are a handful of museums that house collections of items we wouldn’t expect to see in one place. Most of these bizarre museums started out as personal collections and involved into monstrosities that pique the curiosity of travelers from all over the world. They are based on the early tradition of wunderkammern, which was featured in Article 2. The following pages feature a variety of interesting and downright strange museums and collections from around the world. The list begins with the most modern version of a wunderkammern, the Mutter Museum. This museum is stuffed full of macabre and fascinating items - so there are few pages dedicated to just this one museum!
19: #1: The Mutter Museum The Mutter Museum, a medical museum in the Center City, is a part of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia. It was founded by a retired surgery professor of Jefferson Medical University. In terms of medicine, the museum supplies valuable information to specialists or medicine enthusiasts. Opened in 1863, Mutter Museum now has around 20,000 objects including anatomical specimens preserved in fluid, archaic medical tools and plain old weirdness. One special object that is exhibited in Mutter Museum is President Grover Cleveland's malignant tumor. He underwent a surgery to replace his hard palate with a plastic one. The museum possess the tumor, floating in a jar. In addition, a woman’s corpse is preserved within the museum's collection. Her body was, until recently, considered a medical mystery. The body of this obese woman turned itself into a soapy substance when she died, which we now know is caused by the congealing of fat cells.
20: As well at the Mutter Museum, you will find objects such as the following: | Eye Injury Replicas Cojoined Twin Skeletons Reshaped skulls Brain Slices Human "Horns" Rare Photographs Suspended Faces and much more!
21: One of the more disgusting specimens is a giant brown veined bag. No one would ever guess that this 'bag' is really an engorged human colon. It was taken from a man who died from a serious blockage sometime around the turn of the century. The colon is approximately 5 feet long, and as big around as a person. It contained over 40 pounds of feces when doctors finally removed it. The doctors at the time couldn't do anything for the man, and he died in extreme pain. As well as having morbidly fascinating permanent displays, the Mutter Museum also features temporary collections, such as the artistic skull design above. In this piece, the artist used hundreds of brain slice samples to create the image of a giant skull on the floor of the museum.
22: There are two levels in this museum, each filled with scientific and medical anomalies. The balcony has a ton of instruments of torture that were used under the guise of helping people. Forceps with claws for extracting babies during birth, hammers to knock holes in skulls to drain the brain, bone cutting forceps, bone chisels, and a various assortment of tools for cutting bones and tissue. Tucked into a corner on the upper level is also a series of large file cabinets that you can browse through. But these aren't your ordinary boring medical files... nope, these are specimen drawers... containing specimens of items that people have swallowed, all from the collection of a 19th century doctor who specialized in removing these things from peoples throats and stomachs. There are fishhooks, rocks, straight pins, coins, buttons, and even undigestible pieces of meat. The complete skeleton of of Harry Eastlack is housed in the museum. This poor boy's body repaired itself with bone-building cells no matter what the injury, essentially giving him a not-so-Wolverine-like second skeleton.
23: #2. Sulabh International Museum of Toilets, India Located in New Delhi, India is the Sulabh International Museum of Toilets. This museum was created to help spread not only the history of the development of the toilet, but also to promote its use in a country where open defecation is still practiced by millions. Granted, toilets are only available to about two thirds of the population. It is just hoped that the other third won’t use the ones on display at the museum! Some of the toilets in the collection date back to 2500 B.C.! The International Museum of Toilets was founded by an American supplier of such equipment, Charles Manoog, in 1979. Most lavatories in the museum are from the early nineteenth century. There is even a selection of toilet paper that dates back to the year 1800!
24: #3. UFO Museum in Goreme, Turkey In Goreme, Cappadocia, Turkey you’ll find the Goreme UFO Museum. The people in Goreme live in homes located in rock formations and caves. One cave is dedicated to UFOs and UFO sightings. This is probably the only museum you will find that is located inside a cave that looks like a tower. Inside the museum's collection, you’ll find a gigantic collection of newspaper clippings and articles that talk about UFO sightings along with a full-size depiction of an alien examining a human that has been taken hostage. If you think this is strange, don't. Turkey has a high belief rate in Unidentified Flying Objects; in fact, of the six UFO museums in the world, three are in Turkey (stanbul, Denizli and Goreme in Cappadocia). When the Goreme museum opened in 2006, Hürriyet reported that they had 5,000 visitors in just one month. Apparently it was especially popular with the Japanese.
25: #4. The Paris Sewer Museum, France Sewers have been draining wastewater in Paris since the beginning of the 13th Century, when the city's streets were paved and drains were built on orders from Philippe Auguste, the king of France from 1180 to 1223. Covered sewers were introduced during the reign of Napoléon Bonaparte, and today's network of more than 2,100 km (1,312 miles) of sewer tunnels was begun in 1850. The sandstone tunnels carry drainwater from the streets, sanitary sewers (now in separate pipes), mains for drinking water and the water used for streetcleaning, telecommunications cables, pneumatic tubes between post offices, and (or so one assumes) the occasional rat. Until recent times, the Paris sewers also carried tourists: initially by carts that were suspended from the walkways along the tunnel walls, later by carriages drawn by a small locomotive, and--until the 1970s--in boats. (I toured an égout in 1966, when municipal workers used chains to haul the wooden boat through a sewer tunnel from the Madeleine to the Place de la Concorde.) Today, the carts and boats are gone, having been replaced by an even better attraction: the Musée des égouts de Paris, or Paris Sewers Museum. This museum of the Mairie de Paris is located in the sewers beneath the Quai d'Orsay on the Left Bank, and it's a "must see" destination for any visitor who's interested in engineering, public works, or unusual tourist attractions.
26: #5. The Museum of Questionable Medical Devices, Minnesota The Museum of Questionable Medical Devices is located in Minnesota, United States. It used to have a private location but is now located within the Science Museum of Minnesota. Here you will find a collection of contraptions once believed to cure headaches, fight heart disease, cure prostate problems and study the skull! If you need some examples of the strange items found inside this museum, check out the Rector Rotor. This dilator promised to cure “piles, constipation, and prostrate problems.” It was designed to break up “piles” and to lubricate the rectum. The tip had holes in it through which ointment could be released. How it was supposed to cure your prostate problems can only be imagined. But with a motto like “large enough to be efficient, small enough for anyone over 15 years old,” how could you go wrong? The vibratory chair shakes rather violently and is painful to sit in but after a few minutes of treatment it would supposedly stimulate intestinal peristalsis. A longer treatment would cure headackes and back pain and would also increase the supply of healthy oxygen to the body. It was developed by John and Will Kellogg, who also developed the more normal Kellogg's Corn Flakes.
27: #6. Icelandic Phallological Museum, Iceland Most people who travel to visit Iceland are interested in the soothing hot springs, or hiking and exploring in the beautiful natural landscape of Iceland. They don't typically think of seeing a variety of animal reproductive organs... The Iceland Phallological Museum in Husavik houses an incredibly large collection of animal penis specimens. If the animal can be found in Iceland, its penile tissue will be on display. Judging by the numbers, there are quite a few animal species in Iceland. Visitors to the museum will encounter thirty specimens belonging to twelve different kinds of whale, one specimen taken from a rogue polar bear, eighteen specimens belonging to seven different kinds of seal and walrus, and fifty one specimens originating from sixteen different kinds of land mammals: all in all, a total of one hundred specimens belonging to thirty-six different kinds of mammals are part of the museum's collection . It should be noted that the museum has also been fortunate enough to receive a legally-certified gift token for a future specimen belonging to Homo Sapiens.
28: #7. Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography, Russia Located in Kunstkammer in St. Petersburg, Russia, the Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography is not for those with weak stomachs. There is a lot of freaky stuff floating in formaldehyde in this museum, ranging from brains to deformed fetuses and human body parts. Apparently Peter the Great had an unusual penchant for flesh, as noted in the previous article in this book. This is one of the earliest museums, as it was based on Peter the Great's cabinet of curiosity. I won't elaborate on this here, as it was discussed at length in the previous article.
29: #8. The Museum of Witchcraft, England Opened in 1951, the Museum of Witchcraft in Cornwall, England is dedicated to all things magic and witchcraft. Here you’ll find a collection of artifacts and books second to none. While most of the artifacts come from Devon and Cornwall, the collection includes items from all over the world. The museum seeks to portray a full history of witchcraft and related beliefs, and has displays ranging from images of witches in children's fiction to a collection of items of torture used on witches. Visitors can see a whole range of artifacts used in Satanic rituals and see items used for curses or voodoo practices. They can learn about all the different ways in which witches have been tortured, persecuted and killed, something that continues even today. The owners of the Museum believe that tolerance of all beliefs is the only way forward. The Museum is dedicated to the memory of those who suffered and died while accused of witchcraft.
30: #9. The Parasite Museum, Tokyo When was the last time you took a moment to think about the mighty parasites of the world? Not too recently? Well, a visit to Tokyo's Parasite Museum can change all that. A celebration of the world's greatest scroungers, the museum boasts 300 varieties of parasites with the piece de resistance being a 30-foot tapeworm pulled out of an unsuspecting woman who had reportedly picked it up eating sushi - that's all you need to take a vow of starvation. As if that's not enough, the museum, which was set up by four scientists specializing in parasites and is also a research facility, has pictures alongside some creatures showing the adverse effect they have on their hosts. The bonus is, this museum is free, which means more money to spend on souvenir T-shirts with pictures of parasites on them, or even rulers and key rings with dead specimens trapped inside. Lovely. | Parasite in a jar; Dolphin stomach infected with parasites
31: #10. Museum of Funeral Carriages, Barcelona There is a lot of beauty in Barcelona, from Gaudi architecture to the surrounding coastline. There is one place, however, that doesn't seem to fit in with the rest of Barcelona's sight-seeing attractions: the Museu de Carrosses Fúnebres, Carrer on Sancho de Avila. This museum is a warehouse for funeral carriages used throughout history. It is not an easy place to access. Visitors have to report to the city's Municipal Funeral Services from where they will be guided to the basement by a security guard and the exhibition unlocked. The museum is eerily silent as you make your way around the exhibit's ornate carriages, which date from as far back as the 18th century and are manned by dummies in period costume. This free attraction gives an insight into the Catalan capital's darker side. It will almost be a shame when the museum moves to the cemetery at Montjuic - although this doesn't look like it's happening any time soon.
32: #11. Museum of the Holy Souls in Purgatory, Rome OK, it doesn't exactly sound inviting. Who wants to spend any more time in Purgatory than they absolutely have to? Located in an eerie room off the Chiesa del Sacro Cuore del Suffragio church on the banks of the Tiber in Rome, the museum purports to show traces of apparitions who reside in Purgatory - the flaming half-way house where people pay for their sins before being allowed access to heaven. | Scorched hand prints adorning bibles, tables, and clothing are hailed as signs from souls trapped in fiery Purgatory trying to contact their loved ones to pray for them and reduce the amount of time they have to spend outside of heaven. The collection was started by a priest who saw a figure in the midst of a fire that destroyed the altar in the church. He thought it must be a soul from Purgatory and started to collect information on the appearances of these pained souls from around the world.
33: Article 4 The Top 10 Eeriest Coincidences
34: Newspapers frequently run stories of the following kind: a man lost his University of Virginia class ring while sailing off the Carolina coast. He reached up to halt the swing of a boom, and accidentally sent his ring flying off into the sea, where it sank in about 30 feet of water. A year and a half later, another man was talking to a friend in an alley behind a restaurant in Charlottesville, Virginia, when a bright glint in some trash from the restaurant caught his eye. Investigating, he found a class ring, and from the inscription was able to locate the man who had originally lost the ring and return it to him. The two men assumed, after comparing stories, that the ring was swallowed by a fish which was later caught and sold to the restaurant, then discarded unseen in the waste from the preparation of the fish for a dinner. Of course, many other explanations are possible. Perhaps no one will know just HOW the lost ring made its way from the sea to an alley behind a restaurant. Whatever happened however, must have involved many remarkable coincidences. Another news item reported how two women had met in a Tulsa, Oklahoma hospital a few years ago when they had given birth to daughters about an hour apart. Even though they had solemnly vowed to keep in touch, they had not seen or spoken to one another since— until they found themselves back in the same hospital, both having given birth to sons, this time about four hours apart. Of course, coincidences happen all the time: we were just thinking of someone when they call us on the phone, or we have this song in mind when it suddenly plays on the radio. Most of the time they don’t mean much, but every once in awhile there is a coincidence that’s outright spooky, or one that has a major impact on world events. When these coincidences are positive in nature, we call them synchronicity or even serendipity; when they are not, however, we call them catastrophes. So here is a list of the ten most astonishing, remarkable, or just plain eerie coincidences in history and how they impacted the world—or, at very least, left people wondering.
35: #10. Two Finnish Brothers This one is strange no matter what way one looks at it. In 2002, a pair of 70-year-old identical twin brothers from Raahe, Finland were hit and killed by trucks while riding their bicycles in a snowstorm. The catch? They were killed in separate accidents on the same day along the same stretch of road only about a mile apart. Additionally, as the second accident occurred just two hours after the first, the second brother hadn’t even learned that his brother had been killed earlier (thereby eliminating suicide as a possible explanation) and making this truly one for the record books. Of course, unusual coincidences between identical twins are not unheard of; there are dozens of cases on record of twins separated at birth reuniting years later to discover they possess similar mannerisms, food preferences, work at similar jobs, etc. and, in one case, even married and divorced spouses with the same name, and then remarried another person also with the same name! So why not die the same way, on the same day, on the same road?
36: #9. The Lincoln-Kennedy Link This one is an old story, but worth recounting because it is so unusual. It revolves around an unusual number of coincidences that occurred between Presidents Kennedy and Lincoln in regards to their assassination. For example, both men were elected 100 years apart (Lincoln in 1860, Kennedy in 1960); they were both succeeded by Southerners named Johnson, and the two Johnsons were born 100 years apart (Andrew in 1808, Lyndon in 1908). Both assassins were born 100 years apart (Booth in 1839 and Oswald in 1939) and both died before they could be brought to trial. Lincoln was shot in a theater and his assassin was cornered in a warehouse, while Kennedy was shot from a warehouse and his assassin was captured in a theater. Finally, Lincoln was shot in Ford’s theater, while Kennedy was shot while riding in a Ford Lincoln, and to top it all off, Kennedy had a secretary named Lincoln (Evelyn Lincoln) while Lincoln had a secretary named Kennedy. The list goes on from there and has been the source of considerable debate ever since.
37: #8. Gavriol Princip and the Archduke It’s unlikely the twenty-year old Bosnian peasant realized that his actions would set the course for the rest of the twentieth century, but that’s exactly what it did when the man took out his pistol and shot twice at the motorcade carrying Austro-Hungarian leader Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife, Sophie, one beautiful June day in 1914. His shots killed them both, and their deaths set off a chain of events that would plunge the world into one of the bloodiest wars in history and sow the seeds for the advent of Communism and Nazism over the next few decades. | The strange thing is, these murders need never have happened except for a single, remarkable coincidence; Princip, it turns out, was part of a band of conspirators intent on killing the Archduke that day, but he had largely given up once the day's earlier attempt to kill the man with a bomb failed. Ducking into a café for a quick bite to assuage his disappointment—as well as his appetite—he had just stepped outside when he spotted the Archduke’s car stopped before his very eyes not twenty feet away. The driver had apparently taken a wrong turn and, in the process of backing up, had killed the engine, leaving the Archduke and his wife as sitting ducks. Thinking quickly, Princip pulled out his pistol and the rest is, as they say, history—all because the Archduke’s driver got lost and Princip had a taste for bologna.
38: #7. Double Homicide - 157 Years Apart In a somewhat grisly coincidence, it seems that two women, Barbara Forrest and Mary Ashford, were both victims of a similar crime committed in the tiny village of Erdington, some five miles outside of Birmingham in England. Both twenty-year olds—who happened to share the same birthday—had been raped and strangled, their bodies were found 300 yards apart, and both had been found on the same day—May 27th—157 years apart (1817 and 1974)! Even more remarkable, both had just visited a friend that evening, both had changed into a new dress that night, and both had gone to a dance (where they presumably met their killer). Still not remarkable enough for you? How about the fact that the man accused in both their crimes was named Thornton, and that both Thornton’s were eventually acquitted for the crime? Reincarnation? Coincidence? Who knows?
39: #6. Booth and Lincoln No, not John Wilkes and Abraham. Edwin and Robert. It turns out that a few months before John Wilkes Booth obtained notoriety for murdering the President at Ford’s Theater, the President’s son, Robert Todd Lincoln, was waiting on a narrow, crowded platform for a train in Jersey City, New Jersey when he lost his footing and fell beneath the slowly moving carriage of a departing train. Pulled to safety before any harm befell him, he turned to thank his rescuer and was surprised to see it was the well-known actor Edwin Booth, the brother of John Wilkes. In what could only be considered one of the most remarkable coincidences in history, the son of a president was rescued by the brother of that president’s assassin! But then, Lincoln’s only surviving child had a knack for such coincidences, being present at the assassination of President Garfield in 1881 (he was Garfield’s Secretary of War at the time and an eyewitness to the event) and of President McKinley in 1901. I suspect invitations to the White House leveled off a bit after that.
40: #5. The Saga of the Mark Chapmans In December of 1980, Beatles singer, songwriter, and guitarist John Lennon was shot and killed by an obsessed fan in front of the Dakota Apartment Complex in New York City. His assassin was a man named Mark Chapman, a schizophrenic night security guard and general loser, who has been cooling his heels ever since in Attica Prison in upstate New York. Five years later, NBC decided to do a biographical film about Lennon and his wife, Yoko Ono, entitled John and Yoko: A Love Story. | Unfortunately, the actor they hired to play Lennon, unbeknownst to them, happened to be named Mark Chapman, making for one of those “you gotta be kidding me” moments Hollywood occasionally suffers from. Once news of the fact broke, the studio quickly recast the role—presumably giving the part to someone who was not named Mark Chapman—and life went on as normal as possible for those who live in the Twilight Zone. | However, Mark Chapman (the actor, not the crazed gunman) got his just rewards by playing Lennon in a 2007 dud called Chapter 27. Apparently, by then looking like John Lennon but having the same name as his assassin was no longer considered weird for some reason.
41: #4. Titanic Vs. The Titan In what has to be considered one of the truly spooky coincidences of all time, in 1898 author Morgan Robertson (1861-1915) wrote a novella entitled Futility, or the Wreck of the Titan in which he outlined the voyage of a British luxury liner, HMS Titan, that hits an iceberg while crossing the northern Atlantic and sinks with a large loss of life—in part, due to the lack of sufficient lifeboats onboard. The similarities between the fictional story and the real-life loss of the luxury liner with very nearly the same name 14 years later was extraordinary: both the fictional Titan and the real Titanic were triple-screw luxury ships about 800 feet long that hit an iceberg in the month of April while traveling at around 25 knots, resulting in the death of some 2500 souls. While not identical in every detail (in Robertson’s story, the Titan capsizes and sinks quickly while the Titanic remained upright and sank slowly over the course of a couple of hours), the similarities are nothing if not amazing. Evidence of precognition? Impossible to say, but something to think about next time you read a Tom Clancy techno-thriller.
42: #3. James Dean's Cursed Car In September 1955, James Dean was killed in a horrific car accident whilst he was driving his Porsche sports car. After the crash, the car was seen as very unlucky. a) When the car was towed away from accident scene and taken to a garage, the engine slipped out and fell onto a mechanic, shattering both of his legs. b) Eventually the engine was bought by a doctor, who put it into his racing car and was killed shortly afterwards, during a race. Another racing driver, in the same race, was killed in his car, which had James Dean's drive shaft fitted to it. c) When James Dean's Porsche was later repaired, the garage it was in was destroyed by fire. d) Later the car was displayed in Sacramento, but it fell off its mount and broke a teenager's hip. e) In Oregon, the trailer that the car was mounted on slipped from it's tow bar and smashed through the front of a shop. f) Finally, in 1959, the car mysteriously broke into 11 pieces while it was sitting on steel supports.
43: #2. Edgar Allan Poe's Real Life Novel In the 19th century, the famous horror writer, Egdar Allan Poe, wrote a book called 'The narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym'. It was about four survivors of a shipwreck who were in an open boat for many days before they decided to kill and eat the cabin boy whose name was Richard Parker. Some years later, in 1884, the yawl, Mignonette, foundered, with only four survivors, who were in an open boat for many days. Eventully the three senior members of the crew, killed and ate the cabin boy. The name of the cabin boy was Richard Parker. | #1. Bullet of Destiny Henry Ziegland thought he had dodged fate. In 1883, he broke off a relationship with his girlfriend who, out of distress, committed suicide. The girl's brother was so enraged that he hunted down Ziegland and shot him. The brother, believing he had killed Ziegland, then turned his gun on himself and took his own life. But Ziegland had not been killed. The bullet, in fact, had only grazed his face and then lodged in a tree. Ziegland surely thought himself a lucky man. Some years later, however, Ziegland decided to cut down the large tree, which still had the bullet in it. The task seemed so formidable that he decided to blow it up with a few sticks of dynamite. The explosion propelled the bullet into Ziegland's head, killing him.
44: Article Five: Ergot Poisoning & THe Salem Witch Trials
45: If someone were to tell you that the historic and horrific Salem Witch Trials of Salem, Massachusetts, U.S.A. in 1692 had been instigated by L.S.D., would you believe them? Or would you think that perhaps the person you were talking was on L.S.D. himself? Believe it or not, many people have a theory that the Salem Witch Trials were indeed connected to the drug L.S.D. Read on to find out more! In the time of colonial Salem, in 1692, there were about 500 people living in the Salem colony. Around this time in the colony's history, things were beginning to go awry. The Salem settlement was founded on Puritan ideals, with the notion that all would be pure, evil-free, and a "new Eden". It was a very religious place, but unfortunately, it seemed as if the devil himself had been set loose upon the village. The citizens had recently suffered through a nasty smallpox outbreak, and were continually being attacked by local First Nations groups. To top it all off, the offspring of the villagers were not buying into the Puritan ideals as much as the adults had hoped they would. The children were, to put it mildly, becoming unruly. | Elizabeth Parris, the 12-year-old daughter of the new minister in 1692, Reverend Samuel Parris, was suddenly one day afflicted by a strange madness - she was throwing herself around the room, barking like a dog, and complaining of being bitten and pinched by unseen forces. Her worried father brought the doctor in, and he, reaching the extent of his apparent medical knowledge, pronounced the girl under the influence of witchcraft. Elizabeth then admitted that she and her cousin, Abigail Williams, had visited a fortune-teller in the hopes of determining their future marriage prospects' names. This admission led to the first three accusations of witchcraft, and spurred one of the most deadliest witch hunts in America.
46: The unfortunate woman who had dabbled in the fortune-telling was named Tituba, a Barbadian slave who liked to enchant the girls with tales from her homeland - some of those stories included legends about demons and magic. The other two women accused by Elizabeth and Abigail, along with the conspirators Ann Putnam Jr. and Elizabeth Hubbard were Sarah Good, and Sarah Osborne. The fact that these two women were singled out is strong evidence that the silly accusations were supported and flamed by adults looking to "clean up" their Puritan town. Sarah Osborne was a member of the Porter family, of which there was a long-standing family feud between the Putnams and the Porters. This may be why Ann Putnam Jr. pointed the finger at Sarah Osborne. Sarah Osborne had also earned the condescension of her peers by marrying a freed indentured servant after her husband passed away (thereby, marrying much 'below' her). Sarah Good was a homeless beggar and known to beg for food and shelter from neighbors. She was accused of witchcraft because of her appalling reputation. The children may have begun the trials with their wild, selfish, and uncaring claims, but the adults supported the trials because they were a convenient way to tidy up the village of the 'unwanted' people.
47: These women were brought before the local magistrates on the complaint of witchcraft and interrogated for several days, starting on March 1, 1692, then sent to jail. Other accusations followed in March: Martha Corey, Dorothy Good and Rebecca Nurse in Salem Village, and Rachel Clinton in nearby Ipswich. Martha Corey had voiced skepticism about the credibility of the girls' accusations, drawing attention to herself. The charges against her and Rebecca Nurse deeply troubled the community because Martha Corey was a full covenanted member of the Church in Salem Village, as was Rebecca Nurse in the Church in Salem Town. If such upstanding people could be witches, then anybody could be a witch, and church membership was no protection from accusation. Dorothy Good, the daughter of Sarah Good, was only 4-years-old, and when questioned by the magistrates her answers were construed as a confession, implicating her mother. In Ipswich, Rachel Clinton was arrested for witchcraft at the end of March on charges unrelated to the afflictions of the girls in Salem Village. Once the hysteria began, it flowed quickly from person to person, until women were being accused of witchcraft all over the town and countryside. Employees of the law had major lapses in judgment and morality, and imprisoned women without due cause, tortured them into confessing, and devised horrific ways to murder them or to "prove" they weren't witches. Sarah Osborne, one of the first three accused, died in jail on May 10, 1692, from harsh treatment. Ultimately, 19 women were hung, and one man was murdered (before he could be tried in court) by an archaic form of punishment called peine forte et dure, in which stones were piled on his chest until he could no longer breathe. The man, Giles Corey, lasted two days until he died by suffocation.
48: Not even in death were the accused witches granted peace or respect. As convicted witches, Rebecca Nurse and Martha Corey had been excommunicated from their churches and none were given proper burial. As soon as the bodies of the accused were cut down from the trees, they were thrown into a shallow grave and the crowd dispersed. Oral history claims that the families of the dead reclaimed their bodies after dark and buried them in unmarked graves on family property. The record books of the time do not mention the deaths of any of those executed. The girls had a lot of power during the trials - they could pretend to have fits, speak in tongues, spit, scream, and generally act insane, until they were touched by the "witch" who had cursed them. Upon her touch, the girls would calm, and cry softly as if in fright. This was called the "Touch Test" and was completely controlled by the girls' behavior - if they so chose to accuse a specific woman, all they had to do was stop acting crazy the moment she touched them. Other crazy tests included having a cake made with rye meal and urine from the afflicted girls. This 'witch cake' was then fed to a dog - if a woman cried out in pain at the moment the dog ate the cake, then she was the witch. This worked nicely when the accused 'witches' were locked in a prison cell, being tortured at the time the dog ate the cake. Of course they would cry out, but it had nothing to do with the cake being ingested. | The first hint that public call for justice was not over happened in 1695, when Thomas Maule, a noted Quaker, publicly criticized the handling of the trials by the Puritan leaders in Chapter 29 of his book "Truth Held Forth and Maintained", by stating, "it were better that one hundred Witches should live, than that one person be put to death for a witch, which is not a Witch". For publishing this book, Maule was imprisoned twelve months before he was tried and found not guilty.
49: Eventually, some of the girls, including Elizabeth Parris, confessed that they may have made a 'grand error' in their accusations, and public pressure to end the trials, restore the reputations of the accused women, and release the last of the women in the prisons began. Several petitions were created and sent to the Massachusetts government, and each time, progress was slowly made. Some women were released, some had their names officially cleared (alive and dead victims), and even monetary settlements were given. On March 6, 1712, the last of the earlier excommunications were reversed: those of Rebecca Nurse and Giles Corey. There are many theories as to why these young girls began such an evil trend - but one interesting theory, and quite possibly correct, is that of basically an 'acid trip". No, the girls weren't ingesting little pills with happy faces on them, but they might have been under the influence of L.S.D., or at least a derivative of it.
50: A historian named Linda Caparell proposed the idea that the girls who began this entire scandal were suffering from what we call "ergot poisoning". Ergot is essentially a type of mold that grows on grains like rye, caused by the fungus Claviceps purpurea (which is the natural substance from which LSD is derived). This mold can directly affect your body. There are two types: gangrenous, which causes dry, rotting limbs and blisters on the skin, with itching, burning patches; and convulsive ergotism, which has symptoms similar to what Elizabeth Parris suffered, with the mania and the psychosis. One of the fascinating, and scary, things about ergot poisoning is that no matter how much you refine the grain, even down to a fine flour which is then baked into bread, you can still get ergot poisoning. This mold is very persistent! So, it is possible that Elizabeth, frightened by the intense and hallucinogenic symptoms of her ergot poisoning, mistakenly pointed a finger at Tituba to explain away her illness. Science and medicine were obviously not very advanced in these times, and witchcraft may have seemed like a 'logical' explanation for this very strange behavior. | No matter the reason, this was a very dark time in American history. The episode is one of the most famous cases of mass hysteria, and has been used in political rhetoric and popular literature as a vivid cautionary tale about the dangers of isolationism, religious extremism, false accusations, lapses in due process, and local governmental intrusion on individual liberties.
51: Article 6: England, Spain & An Ear
52: Do you know a lot about ears? Do you know a lot about colonial America? Do you know that the two are connected? Bet you didn't! Read more to find out what the deal is between England, Spain, and how it all ties together with an ear! Just a few hundred years ago, there were several different nations that all had claims staked for land ownership in North America. None of these countries, as you can imagine, got along very well. There were many commercial shipping ventures, where England, Spain, and France were exploiting the natural resources of North America, shipping back raw materials to Europe hand over fist. There, the materials would be processed and manufactured into goods, which were then shipped back to America and sold to its residents for much more than the raw materials had been sold for. This was a very profitable and lucrative business.
53: Fighting over natural resources in America was one reason why these countries were enemies. Another reason was that there simply was hundreds of years of animosity between them: back in Europe, England, France and Spain had been fighting for years over territorial and boundary disputes. These quarrels spilled over into the New World. There is a rumor in the historical world circulating that England and Spain fought one of their wars over an EAR. Is there any truth to this rumor? Why would two countries battle it out over an ear?? As fanciful as this sounds, if you'll lend me your ear, I'd be happy to tell you that this is indeed fact. It began on April 9th, 1731, when Captain Robert Jenkins was sailing his vessel through what may or may not have been Spanish waters. There was some dispute at the time as to who owned these waters. A Spanish captain, Juan de Leon Fandino, was so angered that Captain Jenkins had had the audacity to sail through Spanish waters, he cut off Jenkins' ear. This may have been an over-reaction on Fandino's part, but that is what he did. When Jenkins threatened Fandino with the wrath of the English monarch, Fandino replied, "Were the King of England here and also in violation of the laws, I would do the same for him." Although these sound like fighting words, it took Captain Robert Jenkins a long time to work up the courage to respond to Fandino: seven years in fact. Jenkins had pickled his ear (because who wouldn't?) and so he and his pickled ear marched to the British Parliament to lodge a complaint with the House of Commons. At this point in history, Britain was already quite irritated with Spain - relations between the nations were tumultuous due to the War of Spanish Succession. The War of Spanish Succession began when King Charles II of Spain did not have an heir to his throne. Charles was ailing and near death, so France and Austria were both vying for Spain's territory. This annoyed Charles, so feeling a bit vindictive, he decided to cause some controversy. He outright gave his throne to France, which then launched France and Austria into a war.
54: Charles II of Spain | After France and Austria declared war, it was a domino effect as other countries chose sides with the super powers. During this time, England and Spain had been pitted against each other. Therefore, at the time of the Jenkins' ear scandal, the two nations already harbored bitter feelings towards each other. There was also a border dispute between England and Spain over the British colony of Georgia, and the Spanish colony of Florida. All of these together gave Captain Jenkins a very eager audience when he went to plead his case about his missing ear. The battle that ensued was aptly titled "The War of Jenkins' Ear". When Jenkins complained to the House of Commons in 1738, he reported the incident and exhibited his severed ear. In this report, he said that his ear was "cut off in April 1731 in the West Indies by Spanish coast guards who had boarded his ship, pillaged it and then set it adrift." This report provided an excuse for the British to declare war on the Spanish in October 1739. There were a few sea skirmishes, but no major battles. | Captain Robert Jenkins
55: Article 7: How to Read Roman Numerals
56: The Romans were active in trade and commerce, and from the time of learning to write they needed a way to indicate numbers. The system they developed lasted many centuries, and still sees some specialized use today. What is the history of Roman numerals? No one is exactly sure when Roman numerals were first used, but they far predate the Middle Ages. Theories abound as to the origins of this counting system, but it is commonly believed to have started with the ancient Etruscans. The symbol for one in the Roman numeral system probably represented a single tally mark of the kind people would notch into wood or dirt to keep track of items or events they were counting. Roman numerals traditionally indicate the order of rulers or ships who share the same name (ie: Queen Elizabeth II). They are also sometimes still used in the publishing industry for copyright dates, and on cornerstones and gravestones when the owner of a building or the family of the deceased wishes to create an impression of classical dignity. The Roman numbering system also lives on in our languages, which still use Latin word roots to express numerical ideas. A few examples include "unilateral", "duo", "quadricep", "septuagenarian", "decade", and "milliliter". The big differences between Roman and Arabic numerals (the ones we use today) are that Romans didn't have a symbol for zero, and that numeral placement within a number can sometimes indicate subtraction rather than addition.
57: The Basics: I - The easiest way to note down a number is to make that many marks - little I's. Thus, "I" means 1, "II" means 2, "III" means 3. However, four strokes seemed like too many... V - So the Romans moved on to the symbol for 5 - "V". Placing "I" in front of the "V" - or placing any smaller number in front of any larger number - indicates subtraction. So "IV" means 4. After "V" comes a series of additions - "VI" means 6, "VII" means 7, and "VIII" means 8. X - "X" means 10. But wait - what about 9? Same deal. "IX" means to subtract "I" from "X", leaving 9. Numbers in the teens, twenties, and thirties follow the same pattern as the first set, only with "X"s indicating the number of tens. So "XXXI" is 31, and "XXIV" is 24. L - "L" means 50. Based on what you've learned, I bet you can figure out what 40 is. If you guessed "XL" you're right - 10 subtracted from 50. And thus, 60, 70, and 80 and "LX", "LXX", and "LXXX". C - "C" stands for centum, the Latin word for 100. A centurion led 100 men. We still use this in words like "century" and "cent". The subtraction rule means 90 is written as XC. Like the X's and L's, the C's are tacked on to the beginning of numbers to indicate how many hundreds there are: CCCLXIX is 369. D - "D" stands for 500. As you can probably guess by this time, CD means 400. So CDXLVIII is 448. (See why we switched systems?)
58: M - "M" is 1000. You see a lot of Ms because Roman numerals are used a lot to indicate dates. For instance, take the year 1998 CE (Common Era; Christians use AD for Anno Domini which means "Year of our Lord"). In Roman numerals, 1998 is MCMXCVIII. ** Larger numbers were indicated by putting a horizontal line over them, which meant to multiply the number by 1000. So a "V" with a horizontal line over it means 5000. So here is the Roman numeral chart:
59: Examples: 501 - DI 550 - DL 530 - DXXX 707 - DCCVII 890 - DCCCXC 1500 - MD 1800 - MDCCC 900 - CM | The system is simple, once you have the Roman numeral meanings memorized. However, the Arabic system is much neater, smaller, and easier to understand, which is probably why the switch was eventually made.