Saturday, January 31, 2015

The Beale Ciphers

The Beale Ciphers – Category of Three Cipher Texts

The Beale Ciphers also known as the Beale Papers, are a category of three cipher-texts which reveal the location of one of the grandest buried treasures in U.S. history where thousands of pounds of gold, silver and other jewels were discovered.

It is estimated to be worth over US$63 million as of September 2011.Consisting of three cipher-texts, the first, yet to be solved, gives a description of the location, while the second, which is solved, provides the content of the treasure and the third, unsolved, provides the lists of names of the treasure’s owners together with their next of kin. It was obtained originally by a mysterious person named Thomas Jefferson Beale while prospecting in Colorado in 1818.

Out of the three cipher-texts, only the second one has been solved and interestingly, the U.S. Declaration of Independences seems to be the key, a curious fact that Beale tends to share the name with the author of the Declaration of Independence. The discovery also leads to the revelation of the county where the treasure was buried – Bedford County, Virginia, though the exact location is encrypted in one of the other unsolved ciphers.

Pamphlet Published with Strange Compelling Story

In 1885, a pamphlet had been published with a strange compelling story, a sort of connection between Edgar Allan Poe and the Wild West which indicates record of a letter that was written by Thomas Jefferson Beale to Mr Morriss in 1822 and claimed to contain three encoded text currently known as `B1, B2 and B3’, describing the location as well as the beneficiaries of the treasure haul that was hidden in Bedford County, Virginia between 1819 and 1821.

Moreover the pamphlet had a decoding of B2 by using a miscounted Declaration of Independence as a codebook though not for B1 and B3. As per the pamphlet, it was said that Beale was chosen leader of a group of around 30 adventurers from Virginia who came across the rich mine of gold and silver while they hunted for buffalo.

They spent around eighteen months mining thousands of pounds of precious metals and charged Beale with transporting it back home to Virginia to bury it in a secured location. Beale had made multiple trips to stock it and later encrypted three messages with a mention of the location of the treasure, description of it together with the names of the owners and their relatives.

Morriss Unable to Solve the Ciphers 

He had placed the cipher-texts together with some other papers in an iron box which was given to a reliable person, Robert Morriss, the Lynchburg innkeeper. The treasure, perhaps, was supposed to be buried near Montvale in Bedford Count and Beale had asked Morriss not to open the box until Beale or one of his men would fail to return from their journey within a period of 10 years.

A few months later, Beale send a letter from St. Louis promising him that a friend would be mailing the key to the cryptogram though it never seemed to arrive. Then in 1945, Morrriss took the initiative of opening the box and found two plain text letters from Beale with several pages of cipher-text which were separated into Papers `1, 2 and 3’. Morris was unable to solve the ciphers and decades later had left the box with its contents to an unnamed friend.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Uffington White Horse


Uffington White Horse – Impressive Steep Escarpment 

Internationally renowned Bronze Age Uffington White Horse can be found 1.5 miles south of Uffington village toward the Berkshire downs and is situated facing NW near the top of an impressive steep escarpment beneath the Ridgeway long footpath, Whitehorse hill and the Saxon hill-fort of Uffington castle and above Dragon hill.

The Uffington White Horse can be seen for miles away leaping from the head of a dramatic dry valley in the Ridgeway escarpment where the horse is a part of the unique complex of ancient remains which are found at the White Horse Hill and beyond, spreading towards the high chalk downland. The best view can be seen from the air, though it lacks aerial capabilities and is best seen from about one mile to the North though the view from Dragon hill is also very good.

It is the largest of the horses about 374 feet in length with 110 feet in height and constructed of trenches of 5 to 10 feet in width and 2 to 3 feet in depth which is filled with chalk. This is some few feet above the natural chalk of the hill and the horse is in good condition, maintained by the National Trust.

Oldest Hill Figure in Britain

The edges are defined well, partially consolidated with concrete and the top edge reinforced with polypropylene netting,the chalk white and well compacted together with erosion repairs done whenever necessary. Convenient parking place near Woolstone hill and at the Whitehorse hill is available and this location makes the horse difficult to view from close quarters and can be seen better from most areas of the Vale of the White Horse.

This unique location with its elegant line of white chalk bedrock is presumed to be the oldest hill figure in Britain and the image is presented as a horse which dates back as far as 1000 BC during the late Bronze Age. One would find similar images which have been found depicted on coins belonging to that period and some are of the opinion that the figure could be representing a horse goddess connected with the local Belgae tribe. The goddess is believed to be one form of Epona and worshiped throughout the Celtic world.

Connected to Various Famous Figures 

Traditionally the horse is connected to a number of famous figures, one of which is King Alfred who is said to have constructed it to commemorate his victory in 871 over the Danes. It is also said that the horse had been cut by Hengist, who was the leader of the Anglo Saxon horde during the 5th century AD. Some other folklore state that the figure is a representation of the dragon which was killed by St. George, an event presumed to have taken place near the Dragon Hill.

The horse was maintained every seven years under the jurisdiction of the local Lord who had to fund the event. A festival lasting for over three days consisted of fun and games, traditional cheese rolling together with wrestling and other pastimes and the games were conducted in the enclosed earthen banks of Uffington Castle, an Iron Age hill fort where the White Horse is considered to be galloping when viewed from space. The horse is cleaned by several members of English Heritage, responsible for the site.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Kerr Black Hole

Kerr Black Hole – An Uncharged Black Hole

A Kerr black hole is an uncharged black hole, a kind of a black hole which possesses only mass and angular momentum,that tends to rotate around a central axis and is named after Roy Kerr, a New Zealand mathematician who became the first person to solve the field equations. In 1963, Kerr had achieved something which eluded other scientist for around 47 years and he found the solution of Einstein’s general theory of relativity for a situation of this type.

He describes the space outside a rotating star or black hole and his solution has been described as `the most important exact solution to any equation in physics. Kerr black holes could be the most common in nature as the massive stars from which they form, possess rotation though no overall charge, before they collapse at the end of the life. With the principle of conservation of angular momentum, most of the spin is retained by the black hole after the star’s terminal collapse. A Kerr black hole comprises of the distinct regions namely ring singularity, ergosphere, inner and outer event horizons and static limits – the boundary between the ergosphere and the normal space.

Kerr Black Hole - Theoretical

At every event horizon, the roles of space and time tend to change and in the case of a Kerr black hole, space and time swap places twice which are the result of the metrical geometry equations of Kerr. While the singularity is also a temporary one, it can be avoided.

The concept focuses on neutron stars which are massive collapsed stars, the size of Manhattan though with a mass of Earth’s sun and if the dying stars collapse into a rotating ring of neutron stars, the Kerr postulates and their centrifugal force would prevent them from turning into a singularity. Kerr is of the belief that since the black hole does not have singularity; it would be quite safe to enter without any fear of the infinite gravitational force at the centre.

There is a possibility of escaping a black hole though not through the same way one went in. By leaving the black hole one will find either a region of negative space, - the physical explanation of which is unknown or in a different universe. Kerr black holes are purely theoretical and if they tend to exist, they offer adventurous time traveller, a one way trip in the past of the future.

Deepened Understanding of Astrophysics & Gravitational Theory

Though a tremendously advanced civilization could develop a means of calibrating a method of time travel, it is not possible to tell where or when a wild Kerr black hole could leave you.His achievement of identifying an exact solution for the rotating case, was something several people were speculating about and was a revolution in astrophysics and brought in a decade which could be known as `the Golden Age of Black Hole Physics’ when General Relativity saw Renaissance. The Kerr solution has pivoted in deepening our understanding of astrophysics as well as gravitational theory and over the years since its discovery, several new effects emerged in the Kerr solution - a rotating objects drags space with it which would be impossible in Newton’s theory.

Nevada is the Place to Be

Nevada is booming. In the last few decades, it has become one of the most popular states to move to. It’s easy to understand why too. There is an endless amount of entertainment nearby. Whether people live in or near Reno or Las Vegas, there is much to do and see. For instance, Las Vegas has a ton of shows to see. People can go play games, get in some pampering, go swimming, dine and much more in Vegas. Reno offers the same sort of entertainment. Housing is affordable. New and beautiful neighborhoods are springing up. People are continuing to move to Nevada. There is plenty of room still available.

This is what makes it an exciting time to get a Nevada real estate license. Becoming a real estate agent has many benefits. For starters, the hours are flexible. A realtor can decide how much or how little they want to work. Real estate can be very profitable. Realtors should put aside a certain amount of money for themselves in the event they’re not able to help people to buy or sell properties. However, considering that Nevada is an excellent place for people to buy right now, the profits should come in steadily.

Working for oneself presents so many wonderful possibilities. People who get into real estate and other forms of work can make life as they see fit. People who have to work a nine-to-five miss out on a lot. For instance, they miss out on school plays, being home to see off their children or being home when they get back, sitting at the table reading a newspaper to have the morning coffee and many other things. Being constrained by time is not fun. Working a standard nine-to-five forces people to battle morning and afternoon commutes because they have to be at work by a certain time. However, working for oneself saves all this hassle. It allows people to stay home when they’re ill as well.

Getting a real estate license is not difficult. It requires some schooling and it requires that people pass an exam. Once people understand the ins and outs of real estate, they will be able to pass the exam to get their license. Getting into the groove of assisting clients will become like second nature. It’s a wonderful field for people to get into and Nevada is one of the perfect places to practice real estate.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Rosetta Stone

Rosetta Stone Inscribed with Decree in Three Scripts 

The Rosetta stone is written in three scripts since at the time of writing, there were three scripts being used in Egypt. It is a granodiorite stele which is inscribed with a decree that was issued in 196 BC at Memphis, Egypt on behalf of King Ptolemy V. Presently the Rosetta Stone is 112.3 cm high at its highest point, 75,7 cm wide and 28.4 cm thick weighing approximately around 760 kg. The decree appearing in three scripts has the upper text in Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, while the middle is Demotic script and the lowest in Ancient Greek. Since it presents the same text in all three scripts, it gives the key to the modern understanding of Egyptian hieroglyphs. The first script being hieroglyphic, was the script being used in Egypt when it was written while demotic was the common script of Egypt, The third being Greek was the language of the rulers of Egypt during that time. The text was written in three scripts to enable the priest, government officials as well as the rulers of Egypt to read and understand the contents.

Discovered in Small Village – Rosetta - Rashid

The Rosetta stone was found by French soldiers in 1799, who had been rebuilding a fort in Egypt which was in a small village in the Delta known as Rosetta – Rashid and was so called since it was found in the town of Rosetta. The text on Rosetta stone was written by a group of priest in Egypt in honour of the Egyptian pharaoh which lists all the things that the pharaoh had done for the good of the priests as well as for the people of Egypt. Several people had contributed on deciphering hieroglyphs over hundreds of years but the structure of the script was a difficult task to work out. Study of the decree was in progress, as the first full translation of the Greek text appeared in 1803. Thereafter twenty years later, on studying the Rosetta stone together with other examples of ancient Egyptian writing, it was Jean-Francois Champollion who deciphered hieroglyphs in 1822 in Paris.

The Stone a Focus of Rivalry among Nations

Champollion was capable of reading both Greek and Coptic and could figure out what the seven demotic signs in Coptic meant. By observing how these signs were used in Coptic he could work out what they stood for and thus he began tracing these demotic signs back to hieroglyphic signs. On working out what some of the hieroglyphs meant, he managed to make educated conclusions about what the other hieroglyphs meant. Since its rediscovery, the stone was the focus of rivalry among the nations which included its transfer from French to British possession during the Napoleonic Wars. The Rosetta Stone is on display in the British Museum since 1802 with only one break. When the Museum was in danger of heavy bombing in London towards the end of the First World War, in 1917, it was moved to safety with other portable important objects. The Rosetta Stone then spent the next two years on the Postal Tube Railway station, some 50 feet below the ground at Holborn.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

The Oak Island Money Pit

Oak Island – Location of the Money Pit

Oak Island is considered as the location of the Money Pit which is a site of over 200 years of treasure hunting. It is a 57 hectare island situated in Lunenburg County on the south shore of Nova Scotia, Canada and the island is one of the 360 small islands along Mahone Bay which rises to a maximum of around 11 metres above sea level.

To a casual observer, it seems like several others in this area of the province, where rocks and sand skirt the perimeter of this land while native forest together with brush; cover most of its interior. At first sight, this island conceals any evidence of historical importance though appearance could be deceiving, and inspite of the natural scenery and the serene setting of Oak Island, this island have an intriguing story, which is mysterious as well as tragic.

Oak Island Money Pit
Placed at 200 meters from the shore and connected to the mainland by a modern causeway, this is a privately owned island. Several excavations gave rise to layers of apparently man made artifice which laid buried deep as 32 meters though ended in collapsed excavations and flooding. Some debate that there is no treasure and that the pit could be a natural phenomenon, probably a sinkhole.

Unfolding of the Money Pit - 1795

The story of Oak Island’s Money Pit began unfolding in the summer of 1795 when Daniel McGinnis, a teenager observed strange lights on an island offshore from his parent’s house and on investigating the island for the source of the light; he noticed a peculiar circular depression of about 13 feet in diameter on the island’s forest floor.

McGinnis observed that several oak trees surrounding the depression had been removed. Besides he also observed that a block and tackle hung from a severed tree limb exactly over the shallow hole and though some of the researcher refutes the presence of the tackle and the block, he was convinced of what he observed that day that the scene became worth exploring. McGinnis decided to leave the island to seek the help of two friends, John Smith and Anthony Vaughan and the next day the three of them started their mission of excavating the mysterious site.

Together with his colleagues, McGinnis excavated the depression and discovered a layer of flagstone, few feet below and on the pit walls were visible marking from a pick. As they dug further, they discovered layers of logs every 10 feet and finally abandoned the excavation at 30 feet.

Eight Years Later – Excavation by Onslow Company 

Eight years thereafter as per the original articles and memories of Vaughan, another company investigated and it came to be known as the `Money Pit’. The company – `Onslow Company’, sailed 300 nautical miles from central Nova Scotia near Truro to Oak Island with their focus on obtaining what was believed to be a secret treasure. They carried on the excavation down to around 90 feet and noticed layers of logs or marks at every ten feet with layers of charcoal, putty as well as coconut fibres at 40, 50 and 60 feet. One earlier written account relates that they had recovered a large stone at 80 -90 feet with the inscription of symbols where several attempts were made by researcher to decipher the symbols.

One seems to translate it as `forty feet below, two million pounds lie buried’. These symbols are considered to be currently associated with the `forty feet down’, translation which is seen in several books that appeared in True Tales of Buried Treasure written in 1951, by Edward Rowe Snow an explorer and historian. He states that he had been given this set of symbols by Reverend A.T. Kempton of Cambridge, Massachusetts. Besides this no more information regarding his involvement in the Oak Island tale is related. Subsequently the pit was flooded up to a level of 33 feet and the excavation was abandoned for 45 years since bailing did not reduce the level of the water.

The Truro Company Re-excavation 

The Truro Company was then formed in 1849 which re-excavated the shaft back down to 86 feet level but it got flooded again. They then drilled into the ground below the bottom of the shaft and according to a 19th century account, the pod auger or drill, passed through a spruce platform at 98 feet of 30 m, a 12 inch of 300 mmhead space, 22 inches -560 mm of what was described as metal in pieces, 8 inches of 200 mm oak, another 22 inches of metal – 560 mm, 4 inches of 100 mm oak, with another layer of spruce and lastly a clay 7 feet – 2.1 m, without striking anything else.

Description is made available by the `Maritime Museum of the Atlantic’, - `Golden Age of Piracy’ on what occurred between 1690 and 1730. During that time, Nova Scotia only had a few European settlements and with over 200 nautical miles that separated the remote bays of the current day Nova Scotia from the commercial centre of colonial Boston, pirates would frequent these areas near Oak Island. Due to the unpopulated wilderness of the region it became an abundance of natural resources to restock and repair vessels and its isolation provided an appropriate location to harbour their vast misbegotten treasure. There is also a related incident of a notorious pirate, the infamous Captain William Kidd, who had admitted of burying unspecified wealth of treasure in that area before he was captured in 1699.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Ancient Chemical Warfare


Oldest Chemical Warfare – A Gruesome Incident 

Chemical warfare was `the use of toxic chemicals in battle though the precise date of its first instance is not known. Scholars presume that smoke could have been used as a means in both battles as well as for hunting in prehistoric times. Some of the oldest evidence of chemical warfare has been discovered by archaeologists on studying the bodies of about 20 Roman soldiers which were found underground in Syria 70 years ago.

Evidence left behind revealed that the Persians were lying in wait for the Romans while they dug a tunnel at the time of the siege and then pumped in toxic gas which was produced by sulphur crystals and bitumen thus killing all the Roman within minutes. The Persians had used bitumen and sulphur crystals to set the fire burning and this provided the vital clue.

According to Dr Simon James, a researcher of the University of Leicester, who solved the mystery, stated that it was a very gruesome incident and the people had died a horrible death. The mixture probably produced toxic gases which included sulphur dioxide and complex heavy petrochemicals where the victims could have been choked and then passed out resulting in death.

Beginning of Nasty History of Killing 

He believed that it was the oldest archaeological evidence of chemical warfare that was ever found and is the beginning of a nasty history of killing which continues till present day. Dr James presented the discoveries at a meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America, stating that the 20 soldiers did not die by the sword or spear but due to asphyxiation.

The soldiers had been part of a huge Roman garrison who were defending the empire outpost city of Dura-Europos towards the Euphrates River in present day Syria, against a dangerous siege by an army from the powerful Sassanian Persian Empire around 256 AD. No evidence of historical texts describing the siege is available, though archaeologists have summed up together the conclusion after excavation in the 1920s and 1930s which are renewed in recent years.

Dr James believed that the Persians had placed braziers and bellows in the gallery when the Roman had broken in and then added the chemicals to the fire, pumping choking clouds of dense poisonous gas into the tunnel and the Roman assault party became unconscious within second and died in minutes.

body 2
Attempts made to Comprehend their Death 

The Persians could have known that the Romans were preparing the tunnel and thus prepared an unpleasant surprise for them. Some indications of the Persians using the full range of ancient siege techniques to break into the city which included mining operation of digging under and breaching the city walls have been identified.

Roman defenders had responded with countermines to prevent the attackers and it has been discovered that in one of these narrow low lanes, a pile of about 20 Roman soldiers were found and were stacked up neatly, still with their weapons in the 1930s. Dr James also conducted new field work at the site in an attempt to comprehend how the soldiers had died and came to be lying where they were finally found.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Mystery of the Panxian Cave

Panxian Cave
The Paxian Dadong – Paleolithic Karst Cavern

The Panxian Dadong is a Paleolithic karst cavern which is in a small valley about 1630 m above sea level towards the western Guizhou Plateau, in Southern China. The name Dadong means Big Caves which could have been given to numerous caves in China. The Panxion Dadong reveals a complete deposit of the Middle Pleistocene period.

The Big Cave of Panxian is Panxian Dadon which is a palaeologic as well as archaeological site, is high up on the flank of the karst tower and the large entrance portal can be seen from a distance. The caves have almost 20m of sediments from the Middle Pleistocene together with numerous animal bones which dates back between 130,000 and 260,000 years old. Besides animal bones, five human teeth and stone artifacts were also discovered.

Humans were present at the cave about 300,000 years ago as well as gigantic animals and scientists are amazed as to how these animals could have reached a mountain cave which is located high above sea level. One of Asia’s earliest human inhabitants lived in Panxian cave which shows the evidence of large deposits of about 19 meters deep. Analysis on prehistoric deposits in the Panxian Dadong Cave portrays that animals like the elephanttype Stegodons as well as lumbering Rhinoceros existed there.

Panxian Cave 1
Credit:LIU Wu
Remains of Large Animals Discovered 

Large numbers of remains belonging to these large animals were discovered at the caves. On excavation, it revealed over 40 species of mammals, stone artefact, human teeth and animal teeth with over 30 percent of the huge animals’ remains constitute teeth and around two percent of the remains were of the skulls.

Most of the teeth belonged to the huge animals such as the buffalos, rhinoceros and Stegodons. The cave seems to be the central cavern of three stacked caves which extends towards a hillside where the central cave was 220 meters deep covering 8000 square meters.

Test excavations indicate that the humans utilised these caves for a long period of time and the uranium lead dating technique shows that the deposits are around 300,000 years old and could go back as far as 700,000 years ago. An expedition carried out some years ago to Guangxi province which is the neighbouring province of Guizhou, in Southeast Asia, showed that Gigantopithecus blackii, a large ape, around 10 feet tall, weighing about 1,200 pounds, lived at the same time as the early humans for over a million years which was the largest ever primate that lived there.

Panxian Cave 2
Credit:LIU Wu
Gigantopithecus Blackii – A Large Ape 

Giganthopithecusblackii is said to have died out 100,000 years ago during the period of the Pleistocene and based on the time range from 1,000,000 to 100,000 years, it is presumed that they coexisted with Homo erectus in the region of Asia. Some are of the belief that the large primate could have also roamed in certain areas of Thailand.

Some archaeological discoveries in Guangxi caves like fossils of humans as well as Gigantopithecus blackii also support this theory. The Panxian Dadong is one of the several caves in Tibet and China with thousands of other which are very old. There are numerous secret caves most of which have been created by people rather than through natural processes which have symbolic and sacred meaning.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The Viking Maine Penny Mystery

The Maine Penny – Goddard Coin/Norwegian Silver Coin

The Maine Penny referred as the Goddard coin is a Norwegian silver penny which dates during the reign of Olaf Kyrre. It is described by the Maine State Museum as `the only pre-Columbian Norse artefact which is regarded as genuine found in the United State’, In 1957, during the second year of digging the Goddard site, a huge prehistoric Indian trade village in Penobscot Bay on the central Maine coast, a local resident together with amateur archaeologist Guy Mellgren discovered a small silver coin which was later identified as a Norse silver penny, by experts, dating between 1067 – 1093 AD though extensive archaeological investigation of the site, revealed no evidence for a Norse settlement.

An article in Time in 1978 stated the discovery site, as an ancient Indian rubbish heap near the coastal town of Blue Hill. A collection of 30,000 items from the site, over a period of time, were donated to the Maine State Museum. The coin at first was identified as British penny from the 12th century and most of the circumstances of its discovery were not preserved for record just as in the case with most of the 30,000 discoveries and in 1974 the coins were then donated.

Probably Considered a Hoax

Critics are speculating that the Maine penny could probably be a hoax and could have been deliberately placed at the site by Mellgren. Other similar coins of that era and the Maine penny were available in the market in the year 1957 and hence Mellgren could have had the opportunity of planting the coin at the site or could deceived by someone else, though the motive behind it all is not known.

The fact is that the coin was minted between 1065 and 1080 AD and these kinds of pennies were circulated widely during the 12th and the 13th centuries and the Goddard site dated 1180 to 1235 AD was within the circulation period.

Since the site dates around 200 years after the last Vinland voyages as described by the Norse sagas, it could probably be within that period when the Norse lived in Greenland with the possibility of visiting North America. Penny’s coastal origin is offered as evidence of the Vikings travel further south rather than Newfoundland or perhaps the coin could have been used for local trade, though the penny seems to be the only Norse artefact which was found at the site.

On Display at Maine State Museum

This according to evidence was a hub for large native trade market. A single artefact for example, identified as Dorset Eskimo burin had also been discovered which could support the idea that both the penny as well as the burin could have come to Maine by native trading channels from the Viking source in Newfoundland or Labrador.

Presently the coin is on display at the Maine State Museum and though the identity of the Maine Penny is no doubt an Olaf Kyrre silver penny, the Maine Museum as well as the Smithsonian website are in agreement that it had been found at the site and is an evidence of Viking presence in North American continent, the possibility of a hoax also came up. Though there is no solid evidence of a hoax, all the same, speculations are on regarding the archaeologist which created the coin, leaving much unresolved.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Dorabella Cipher

The Dorabella Cipher – Enciphered Letter 

The Dorabella Cipher is an enciphered letter which was written by composer Edward Elgar to Dora Penny which was accompanied by another dated July 14, 1897. Penny did not decipher the letter and its meaning remains unknown. Elgar was an old music teacher of forty years who was yet to become a successful composer and Dora Penny was his junior by seventeen years.

They liked each other and remained friends for the rest of the composer’s life. Elgar had sent the short encrypted note to his young lady companion consisting of 87 characters which were written over three lines. The cipher seems to be made up from 24 symbols each consisting of 1, 2 or 3 approximate semicircles oriented in one of 8 directions and a small dot seems to appear after the fifth character on the third line. His nickname for his lady companion being `Dorabella’, the note had acquired the name of `The Dorabella Cipher’,He named Variations 10 of his 1899 Variation on an Original Theme – Enigma and Dorabella was done in dedication to Dora Penny.

Elgar’s Secret Writing 

Elgar seems to be fascinated with secret writing and also cracked a supposedly `uncrackable’ cipher which was published in Pall Mall Magazine and his fame rose from the way he would conceal identities of various friends in his famous Enigma Variation which was named in homage to Elgar after the German Enigma machine. Musicologist too managed to decrypt several of the secrets of Enigma Variation.

The mystery of this cipher is not a `whodunnit’ since Elgar had signed and had mentioned the date, nor a `howdunnit’ since it seems to have the key to the cipher but more on `whodunnwhat’ since it is a mystery to decipher its text. Presently the most persuasive reading is of Tony Gaffney who had proposed that the mysterious text was a written version of Elgar’s and Dora Penny’s shared private language which could be really as a tricky combination of backslang, contraction, abbreviation , in-jokes, puns or much more and inspite of it all, it still remains a mystery.Various attempts to solve the Dorabella Cipher were made with varying levels of success.

Three Rows of Symbols of Squiggles

The cipher has three rows with 24 various symbols of squiggles, which amounts to 80 characters, most of which resemble the letter `E’ which could relate to `Edward Elgar’s initials `EE’. Computers, in 1887, were not capable of spitting out complicated encoding systems and hence it is unlikely that Edward could have expected Penny to decipher anything which would be complicating.

Hence many were of the opinion that it was enciphered using a substitution method. With regards to substitution encoding method it would seem that each squiggly symbol would represent another letter of the alphabet and though there are 26 letters in the alphabet, with 24 other characters in the cipher, Elgar could have worked with ease using infrequent letters like Z, X etc.

The cryptanalysts tend to often use frequency analysis that would match the common squiggles in the cipher to common letters like A, E, T as a form to decode substitution ciphers and this frequency analysis shows that a substitution cipher seems reasonable for the Dorabella Cipher. This discovery supports what Elgar could probably have employed, in a more complicated enciphering method and inspite of frequency analysis usage, the cipher still tends to remain enigmatic.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Baigong Pipes

Mount Baigong
Baigong Pipes – Series of Pipes in Ancient Caves

The Baigong Pipes are said to be a series of pipes like features which have been found buried in the ancient rock cave near Mount Baigong southwest of the city of Delingha, in Haixi Mongol and Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Qinghai Province, China.

Locals inhabiting the area of Qinghai’s Delingha city were aware of the pipes for centuries. Some of these pipes have been considered to be connected with three caves in Mount Baigong which are within the front area of the Mount. While the openings of the two small caves have been ruined, the largest cave which is around 6 meters high can be explored and Mount Baigong’svague resemblance to a pyramid has been the cause of much speculation.

From the largest cave, two Baigong pipes have been discovered where one of these is around 40 cm in diameter which has been preserved as a reddish brown half pipe. In the same cave another pipe of similar diameter had also been found with dozens of upright pipe like features of about 10 by 40 cm in diameter were also located protruding from the largest cave on Mount Baigong.

Pipes on Shore & Within Toson Lake

Baigong Pipes 1
Image credit: NationalParkLover
Besides these additional pipes were also discovered on shore and within Toson Lake which is 80 meters from the entrance of the largest cave. Forty meters from the mouth of the largest cave, on the beach of Lake Toson, flat lying hollow, pipe like features were also discovered and these reddish brown pipe tend to range in diameter from 2 to 4.5 cm having an east west orientation.

Below the surface of the lake, another group of pipes probably vertical were also found. The pipes when tested at a local smeltery indicated that they were made of iron but with an unusual silicon dioxide of thirty percent in their matrix and were centuries old according to Xinhua as well as its source, Liu Shaolin, the engineer who had carried out the preliminary tests.

Though dozens of pipes openings have been found in the mountain way beyond the caves, the people who were responsible for it could have some advanced way of drilling which could be probably forgotten since there is no record or trace of any modern industry in the area.

Details Analysis in 2002

Some distance from the foot of the Baigong is the Toson Lake with several more iron pipes on the beach which are of unlikely patterns together with a variety of diameters, of toothpick sizes.Additional pipes were also found in the lake some of which protruding above the water surface while others were buried beneath the bed of the lake.

Dating of these pipes with the use of thermo luminescence, a technique which determines the extent of exposure of crystalline mineral to sunlight or heat was done. It is presumed that humans could have inhabited the region for the past 30,000 years who could have been nomads with no trace of any known lifestyle that could be left behind.

Though nine Chinese scientists had been deployed to make a detailed analysis of the pipes in the year 2002, no further information has been reported regarding the pipes.

Monday, January 5, 2015

The Flannan Isles Lighthouse Mystery

Image Credit: Northern Light Charters
Flannan Isles – Also Known as Seven Hunters

In the Western Isles of Scotland, about eighteen miles from the Isles of Lewis are a cluster of small islands which are known as Flannans and the largest of these Flannan Islands, Eilean More or Big Island in Gaelic is 39 acres in size which is 288 feet above the stormy North Atlantic Ocean. Na h Eileanan Flannach according to Scottish Gaelic name is for small group of islands which in English is called Flannan Isles. It is located in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides and is also known as the Seven Hunters.

The remote islands face the brunt of severe Atlantic storms that whips across the sea, forcing the gulls to stay sheltered in the cliff face crags. For several years it remain uninhabited and the last inhabitants being the lighthouse keepers who between 1899 and it automaton in 1971 had kept the light burning on Eilean Mor, the highest point of the island group.

It was here that for the first time on December 7, 1899 that a 74 foot high lighthouse was constructed and lit, flashing twice in rapid succession every thirty seconds sending a 140,000 candlepower beam, 24 nautical miles out to sea guiding passing vessels safely around Cape Wrath onwards to Pentland Firth.

Mysterious Disappearance of Three Keepers 

A year later, the three keepers those were assigned to operate and maintain the light, disappeared without any trace and over a hundred years have passed and the fate of the Flannan Island lighthouse keepers tends to remain as one of Scotland’s enduring mystery.

It was on December 15, 1900, days after the first anniversary of the light being lit for the first time, that Captain Holman of the steamer `Archtor’ bound for Leith, Scotland, had noticed that the light was not lit and reported through wireless to the Cosmopolitan Line Steamers headquarters who failed to notify the Northern Lighthouse Board since it had escaped from their memory due to other issues. Roderick MacKenzie, Occasional Keeper, who was responsible in noticing the light from nearby GallenHead, had also failed to notice this incident.

Moreover relief keepers that were due on the island on December 20 were further delayed due to severe storms and did not reach the site till December 26th, the day after Christmas. Captain Jim Harvie on noticing that the usual relief flag was not seen flying and the landing being empty sounded the relief vessels’ whistle, shooting a signal flare to which they did not receive any response.

Investigation Done to Identity the Problem but Unsuccessful

Harvie thereafter ordered Relief Keeper, Joseph Moore to go ashore in the dinghy for investigation. On arriving on the island, he found that the gate and the outer door of the quarters were closed while inside the kitchen, the door was left open.

He also noticed that the clock had stopped working and the fire had not been lit. With no trace of the keepers, James Ducat, Thomas Marshall as well as Donald McArthur, Moore rushed back to the relief boat to inform the captain who then along with four members of his crew returned to the island with Moore for further investigation.

There are various accounts to the investigations made which reports that the lamps were cleaned and refilled in readiness for the night. An overturned chain was found on the floor besides the table while in the clothes locker stood a set of oilskins with a pair of willies or galoshes though the other two sets were missing. The west landing was hit by bad weather and the iron railings seemed to be bended, a life buoy was ripped from its mountings with a stone weighing over a ton had been displaced high up on the island with no trace of the keepers.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

White Death

Simo Hayha Nicknamed – White Death

Simo Hayha nicknamed White Death by the Red Army, was a Finnish marksman. Born in Rautajarvi, Finland on December 17, 1905, Simo lived as a farmer and a hunter and lead a very simple and a peaceful life. Once Finland gained its independence and the Soviet Union was formed, his town was only a very short distance from the Russian border.

His childhood was spent with a lot of hard work on the farm and the Finnish wilderness moulded him to be a tough man and a patient person. Towards 1925, he served for a year in Finland’s army and during that time he made the best of it and by the time he was honourably discharged, he had been promoted to the rank of corporal. He then joined the Finnish Civil Guard, which was a military organization as the National Guard in the United States.

 He had gained a lot of knowledge and training during his time with the Civil Guard which comprised of target shooting and shooting was always an interested focus for Hayha. He utilised his every spare moments with outdoor shooting at any target that came his way. His first rifle was a Russian built Mosin-Nagant bolt action M91. This was later introduced to be an improved M28/30 and the 9mm Suomi submachine gun.

Simo_Hayha 1
An Excellent Sniper

With his interest in shooting together with the training that he received, Hayha was capable of hitting a target, 16 times per minute at around 500 feet away which made him an excellent sniper, a skill which served him well in his later stage of life.

The Soviet Union made an attempt to invade Finland in 1939 and Hayha being a member of the Civil Guard, was called to serve under the 6th Company of JR 34 on the Kollaa River and under the command of the Major General Uiluo Tuompo, the Finns faced the 9th and the 14th Soviet armies and were fighting against a total of around 12 divisions at one point of time with about 160,000 soldiers.

Moreover, there were only 32 Finns fighting against over 4,000 Soviets, in the same area. Inspite of being outnumbers, the Finns gained victory at the end of the day. The invading Soviets seemed to be unorganized, spoke several languages and were also not accustomed to the harsh Finnish winters. Besides, the winter of 1939-40 also happened to be very snowy with temperatures ranging from -40 to -20 degrees Celsius.

Racked up 500 Kills in 100 Days

The involvement of Hayha in the Winter War was remarkable. With his Mosin-Nagant M91 rifle, he would attire himself in white winter camouflage, carrying with him a day’s supply of ammunition and hide in the snow. He would then take out any Russian who would enter his range of shooting using his iron sights on his guns instead of scopes. Scopes had a tendency to glare in the sunlight, revealing the position of the person.

Acquiring the skills of shooting, he racked up over 500 kills over the course of 100 days during winter which lead him to receive the nickname `White Death’. He was feared by the Soviets to such an extent, that they mounted several counter sniper as well as artillery attacks to eliminate him which failed miserably. But on March 6th, 1940, he had was hit in the jaw by an explosive round from a counter sniper and fell into coma for a period of eleven days and woke up only when the war came to an end.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Babushka Lady

Babushka Lady – Mysterious Woman Present during the President’s Assassination

The Babushka Lady is a nickname which has been given to a mysterious woman who had been present at the time of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963, who could have photographed the events which took place in Dallas’ Dealey Plaza when the President had been shot.

This nickname probably arose from the headscarf that was seen on her head which is normally worn by elderly Russian women, where babushka means grandmother or old woman in Russian language. The Babushka Lady was noticed holding a camera by several witnesses, who was seen in film accounts of the assassination and was standing between Elm and Main streets where she is seen in the Zapruder film and in the films of Orville Nix,, Marie Muchmore as well as Mark Bell, a 44 seconds and 49 seconds in the Bell film, though the shooting had already taken place. While most of the other witnesses took cover, she was seen standing with the camera in focus. After the shooting event, she was observed crossing Elm Street and mingled in the crowd that went up the grassy knoll in search of the person responsible in the shootout.

Beverly Oliver’s Claim as Babushka Lady

She is seen last in photographs walking away eastward on Elm Street, with neither she nor the film which she could have taken, have been identified. It is presumed that due to the proximity of the distance to the President’s car during the assassination and continuing with her focus on the camera, she could have captured critical events on her camera though the lady has never been identified ever since that fateful day nor has she made any appearance.

She has been described as a lady, wearinga brown coat and a scarf on her head and appeared to be holding a camera in front of her face and is also seen in several photos of the scene. The FBI had also made a public request for the lady to come forward and provide the footage which she could have taken at the time of the assassination, but she never showed up.

Towards 1970, a woman called Beverly Oliver, claiming to be Babushka Woman came forward, stating that a federal agent identified as Regis Kennedy had confiscated her camera on the day of the assassination and that she had to flee the scene and remain hidden to save her life. Moreover the camera which was used by her was not produced till several years later after the assassination.

Mystery Unsolved

Eventually, photographic evidence indicated that the Babushka Lady to be much older as well as heavier than Beverly Oliver and her story having many inconsistencies was regarded as a fraud. No one till date knows who the Babushka Woman was and what was her purpose of being seen during the assassination event. It is also a mystery in her refusal in coming forward to provide the evidence of that particular scene on that fateful day. No one till date knows who the Babushka Lady was, except the lady herself. Fifty years thereafter, she could have been dead and if the possibility of anyone knowing about her existence, they too have remained silent like her and have refrained in providing any information about the mysterious lady known as Babushka Lady.