Monday, September 28, 2015

Why do We Dream?


Research of Dreaming - Oneirology

The research of dreaming is known as oneirology and is a field of inquiry which tends to span neuroscience, psychology as well as literature. The reason why one tends to dream is a mystery. However, it has not stopped scientist from researching and coming up with some great hypothesis. Science has made tremendous progress in the understanding of `dreaming’ but tend to speculate on `why do we dream’. Many theories have been explored and while some of the scientists speculate that dreaming does not have any direct function, but is a consequence of other biological processes which tend to take place during sleep. Several who study sleep and dreams are of the belief that dreaming serves a primary purpose. And theories of dreaming cover scientific disciplines from psychiatry and psychology to neurobiology. Some of the theories recommend that dreaming is –
  • A form and component of memory processing which aids in the consolidation of learning and short term memory to long term memory storage
  • Extension of waking consciousness, reflecting the experiences of waking life
  • A means by which the minds tends to work through the difficult, complicated together with unsettled thoughts, emotions and experiences, in achieving psychological as well as emotional balance.
  • The brain responds to biochemical changes as well as electrical impulses which may occur at the time one sleeps
  • A form of consciousness which combines past, present and the future in processing information from the first two and prepare for the third.
  • A protective act by the brain in preparing itself to face threats, danger and the challenges.

Dreams Susceptible to Disturbance

Similar to sleep, dreams are susceptible to disturbances from problems with the mental and the physical health and there are various conditions which could affect dreams and that would make dreams quite disturbing and difficult. Anxiety and depression often go together with nightmares and the occurrence of nightmares could be a sign of the harshness of depression. According to research, with patients with Major Depressive Disorder, the presence of regular nightmares is connected with suicidal tendencies. Those with depression or anxiety are more likely to have stressful, frightening or disturbing dreams and at times in the form of recurring dreams.

Drugs & Alcohol Affect Dreaming

Drugs and alcohol could also affect dreaming where alcohol tends to disrupt the normal, healthy sleep cycle leading to disjointed sleep. Heavy consumption of alcohol too close to bedtime could alter and diminish time spent in Rapid Eye Movement - REM sleep. Studies indicate that alcohol dependency is connected to dreams with more negative emotional content. Marijuana also tends to disrupt and reduce REM sleep and with withdrawal from marijuana and cocaine, it is said to induce strange dreams according to studies. Certain sleep disorders could be supplemented by altering dreaming. Insomnia tends to heighten dream recall, leading to more stressful as well as disturbing dreams.Dreaming is an enduring universal aspect of being human and is something which we tend to do often. Evidence recommends that dreams could assist in daytime functions as well as performances especially when they tend to relate to creativity and in solving problems. Dreams provide some insight about what could trouble us, what could be occupying our mind, our thoughts and emotions and tend to shape use and show who we are.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Catacombs of Kom el Shoqafa

Catacombs of Kom el Shoqafa

The Catacombs of Kom el Shoqafa – `Mound of Shards’

The catacombs of Kom el Shoqafa which means `Mound of Shards’, a historical archaeological site is situated in Alexandria, Egypt and considered as one of the Seven Wonders of the Middle Ages. The name comes from heaps of broken pottery in the area and archaeologists presume that they could have been left in ancient times by the relatives who visited the tomb with food and drink with them.

Those visiting the tombs were against the idea of taking the vessels back home and would shatter them, leaving them behind in piles. Archaeologists are of the belief that the Catacomb of Kom el Shoqafa started in the second century AD and was utilised to confine the dead for the next 200 years.

This was an era in the history of the city of Alexandria when there was a mixture of various cultures and there was the ancient history of the great Egyptian kingdoms of thousands of years back. In 332 B.C. Alexandria the Great who had conquered the land, established the city and began the dynasty of Greek rulers who brought in their own culture to the metropolis. Eventually, in 31 B.C. the Romans gain control of the city and added their traditions.

Paris of Antiquity

All this made Alexandria which was the capital of Egypt by that time into what according to some was known as `The Paris of antiquity’. The elements of all three great cultures were combined by the people and though much of this seems to have disappeared from modern Alexandria, deep in Kom el Shoqafa catacombs, the intellectual blend of those times seems to be still apparent.The catacombs does not seem to be the only ones constructed in ancient Alexandria and such structures were part of a Necropolis – city of the dead which were perhaps constructed towards the western area of the town.

 Rest of the Necropolis, were probably destroyed over the centuries by new construction or earthquakes. Archaeologists presume that Kom el Shoqafa initially began as a tomb for a single wealthy family though expanded into a bigger burial site for reasons unknown. Probably the facility was ultimately run by a corporation which was maintained by members who could have paid regular dues.

Funeral Hall – `Triclinium’

In ancient times on the surface above the catacombs there was perhaps a large funerary chapel and from the remains of this structure is an 18 ft. wide, round shaft that descends into the underground structure. Running around the exterior of the shaft though separated by a wall is a spiral staircase having windows into the shaft enabling light coming in from the surface which illuminates the stairs.

It is probable that the shaft was used in lowering down the bodies of the deceased to the deeper levels through a rope and pulley system instead of being carried down the steps. There were seats caved into the stone where visitors could rest at the intersection of the uppermost undergrounds level and the stairs.

From here a small passage leads to the rotunda room that overlooks a round shaft and continues down to the lower level. Towards the left of the rotunda room is the funeral hall known as the `Triclinium’ and it is here that the relatives participate for annual ceremonial feast in honour of the dead.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

The Lost Tunnels Buried Deep Beneath the UK


Huge Network of 200 Years Old Tunnels – Beneath Liverpool Street

A huge network of about 200 year old tunnels lies below the Liverpool’s street with no information of its purpose of being there. From all the engineering projects that have been taken place in the industrial centre of Liverpool, like the world’s first steam powered passenger railway, the building of Williamson Tunnels in the early 19th century is the most mysterious.

Joseph Williamson, the patron of the tunnels, a tobacco merchant had been very secretive regarding its purpose and till date no one is sure for what purpose it had been used. Moreover, no one is aware of how many of these tunnels are scattered underfoot below the Edge Hill district of Liverpool in northwest England.

For centuries, the tunnels remained buried and were filled in after locals complained of smell which the caverns could have been used as underground landfills and stuffed with everything from household junk to human waste. An early member of the Friends of Williamson Tunnels – FoWT informed that lot of people had known about the tunnels but it was as far as it went and was left at that. But now they had decided to look for them.

Chambers With Unexpected Depth

In 2001, one summer, Coe together with small group of investigators broke into a suspected tunnel in the Paddington area of Edge Hill and with the help of a digger, make a small hole in the roof of what seemed to be an old cellar, which was the upper level of one of the systems of the tunnel. Coe and a few others carefully went in with the help of a harness.

The chambers seemed to be piled with rubbles so high that walking upright was impossible. However, the explorers were excited when they came across an opening, recalls Coe.There were three different sites in the area that provided access to various sections of the tunnels and excavating them was a difficult task. For the past 15 years, various volunteers dung up twice a week removing more than 120skips of waste material and revealed cellar systems which had been forgotten and some cases of multiple levels of tunnels, some having stone steps leading to deeper caverns.

 Besides these, there are also some debris filled passages splitting off in odd directions and it is not clear how far they are extended or where they eventually lead.One of the regular excavators, Tom Stapledone, a retired television engineer and shopkeeper explains how the early tests with metal rods lurched down in the coke like rubble had portrayed the unexpected depth of the chambers.

Series of Marking on Sandstone – Indicative of Quarrying

He informed that they put a 10ft rod in and did not hit the bottom. Thereafter they put a 15 ft. rod down and yet did not hit the bottom. A 20ft rod eventually hit the solid floor at 19 ft. down.The excavation work was not an easy task. Besides the manpower, the volunteers had to get special permission from the council in order to dig in any new direction and at times it was not granted for safety reasons Stapled on however, was keen on one blocked up tunnel which ran under a street.

 The team suspected that it could lead to other system of underground chambers which are yet to be discovered. As they progressed with their excavation, the volunteers systematically documented any artefact they found. They have so far uncovered ink wells which were once used by school children, bottles which held everything from beer to poison, ceramics from Liverpool’s Royal Infirmary, jam jars, oyster shells, chamber pots, animal bone and various clay pipes.

Besides these, they also found a tapestry of household bric-a-brac which relates the social history of Liverpool of the last two centuries which no other collection can tell.Those who had helped in the excavation of the tunnels have now developed a new and a more or less a more satisfying theory. Bridson informs that a series of markings in the sandstone which according to him could be indicative of quarrying.

Arches – 200 Years Old Continue to be Solid

There are also channels to drain rainwater away from the rock while the men worked, blocks of sandstone which could be known with various niched in the walls where the rigs were one probably installed to help the extraction of stone, used as a building material. Bridson is of the belief that prior to Williamson coming along; these pits in the ground seem to have existed already.

 However, it was Williamson’s idea to develop arches over them and seal them in. Properties could thereafter be built over the reclaimed land which would otherwise be practically valueless. Williamson was much ahead of his time in the case of land reclamation according to Bridson. The work could have quickened the development of the area which without the improvement would have remained unused for years.

Williamson moreover was enterprising in his design and by filling the trenches in would have taken much longer in the early1800s, due to the limitation of transport. Hence he used arches instead and as Bridson observed, he was doing it years before the great railway tunnels and bridges of England were built. He informs that the arches still stand 200 years on with practically no maintenance and apart from the ones that have been ruined; they continue to be solid as the day they were built. Hence Williamson must be aware of what he is doing.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Cock Tail Party Problem

Cocktail-Party Problem – Brain Moulded to Track/Ignore Sound


Researchers studying the ill-famed `cocktail party problem’ found that the brain waves are moulded to enable the brain in tracking the sound it tends to be interested in, while at the same time ignore, competing sounds. This discovery could be helpful in aiding people with hearing issues or focusing on sounds linked to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder – ADHD, autism and aging, according to reports by researchers in the March 6 journal Neuron.

The cocktail party effect is the ability to concentrate on one’s listening capabilities on a single talker amidst a dissonance of conversations as well as background sound. This specialized ability in listening could be due to the characteristics of the human speech production system, the auditory system or the high level of perceptual as well as language processing.

The cocktail party effect could be analysed as two connected though different problem. The main problem of interest is conventionally that of recognition on how humans tend to segregate speech sounds and the possibility to build a machine to perform the task. What may prompt the signs in unravelling one voice from other conversations and the noise in the background? Should the machine utilise the same signs for the task or could it utilise other acoustical evidence which human may not be efficient in detecting?

Human – Unable to Close Minds to Sounds

The reverse problem is the synthesis of indications which could be utilised in improving listeners’ capabilities of separating one voice from the other in interactive speech method. In user interface, presenting various digitized speech recordings at the same time could be needed.

This would provide browsing abilities while avoiding the block characteristic in speech communication due to the nature of audio. A new study has shown that human do not have the means of closing their minds to sounds and hence the brain tends to hear whatever reaches the ears of the person.

According to Charles Schroeder, senior author and a neuroscientist at Columbia University, has commented in a statement that `they have provided the first clear evidence that there may be brain locations in which there is exclusive representation of an attended speech segment with ignored conversations seemingly filtered out’

Brain Activity – Study of Epilepsy Patient

The researchers recorded the brain activity in the study of epilepsy patient who had gone through surgery as they listened to natural spoken sentences. They showed the patients two videos alongside, of people talking and informed them to pay attention to one of the speakers in order to find out how the brain ignored or focused on different sounds.

The brain’s auditory cortex that processes the incoming sound indications represented the brain activity of the speech being attended to as well as that which was ignored; however, the attended speech had stronger impact. Results showed that in greater level processing areas accountable for things like attention control and language, the attended speech only had an obvious, clear representation.

This representation turned out to be more refined as a sentence progressed, indicating as the cocktail-party conversation continues, the brain tends to focus more and more on those sentences only and ignore the rest. Schroeder informs that the earlier studies of the cocktail party problem utilised basic, unnatural sounds like beeps or brief phrases, while this study made use of natural speech.

Researchers had informed that the ability to study widespread patterns of brain activity in surgical epilepsy patients, offers link between work on a brain activity map in animals and exclusively human capabilities such as language and music.

Monday, September 14, 2015

The Bouvet Island Lifeboat

Bouvet Island Lifeboat

Bouvet Island – An Uninhabited Isolated Island

Deep beneath the South Atlantic, the Bouvet Island is described as one of the most isolated locations on the Earth and the nearest land mass is Antarctica. It is over 1,700 km further down south and no one has inhabited the island and as plant life does not seem to be sustainable there, it is unlikely of anyone ever going there.

Bouvet Island Lifeboat Mystery

But a British expedition which arrived from South Africa in 1964 discovered an abandoned lifeboat in a lagoon on the island and not far from the boat were oars, wood, a drum and a copper tank. The boat did not seem to have any identification marks on it and so could not be traced to any nation or shipping company.

Even more surprising was when another expedition had been sent to Bouvet Island two years thereafter, the lifeboat seemed to disappear together with the other object which were left near the boat. Till date, it is unknown on how the boat happened to be there or what could have happened to the people who were in it.

 Bouvet Island Lifeboat  in Coldest Continent on Earth

Bouvet Island is the most isolated uninhabited place in the world. It is not Antarctica but Antarctica is the nearest land to the island and Bouvet Island is location between the tip of Africa and the coldest continent on Earth.

One would not consider that sort of a place where one would find them of being shipwrecked and it is also difficult for people to locate them there. Only the most adventurous travellers would have taken the risk of visiting Bouvet Island.

Most modern expeditions on the islands was undertaken by helicopter since landing in a boat on Bouvet Island seemed difficult under the best conditions and impossible under an average condition. Around 90% of it is covered in glaciers, beneath which lies an active volcano.

Moreover the sides of the island are almost all pure, icy cliffs. If one tends to get lost and stuck on Bouvet Island, they would probably be spending the rest of their short life there with no food and probably water, with the possibility of something with which to melt the ice.

Its Location – Great Place for Weather Tower

Due to its location, weather researchers had given it a thought of a great place in putting a weather tower. Lieutenant Commander Allan Crawford, had been sent to the island in 1964, to investigate a new area of the land, created by lava flow ten years before the expedition.

He along with his team had landed by a helicopter and checked out the landscape. Crawford discovered a lagoon with a strange feature in the form of an abandoned lifeboat. His observations showed that there were no markings of any kind on the lifeboat to indicate from where it had come.

He was unable to do a thorough research on the area due to the harsh nature of the terrain and the work he intended to do though what he was able to search of the landscape turned to nothing else. He did not get any evidence if people had been staying on the island or had died on the island.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Stonehenge II is found! Radar Search Reveals Giant Line of Standing Stones from 4,500 Years Ago


Stonehenge II Discovered – Refined Radar Equipment

For ages, Stonehenge had puzzled and captivated visitors and archaeologist alike and hence it may not be shocking that another wonder monument from prehistory has been unnoticed for some time though it seems to be a mile away. An unusual line of massive stones which could date back to more than 4,500 years have been discovered by experts.

The space around Stonehenge seems to be scattered with prehistoric sights and the 90 or more stones lying 3ft under the ground have only been discovered by refined radar equipment which had been towed by quad bikes. The buried monoliths are of 15 ft. tall each and instead of being arranged in a circle as in Stonehenge, it is presumed that they once formed a long standing line.

One of the archaeologists leading the research, Professor Vince Gaffney from the University of Bradford remarked that `they were looking at one of the largest stone monuments in Europe and it has been under our noses for something like 4,000 years and is truly remarkable. We don’t think there is anything quite like this anywhere else in the world and this is completely new and the scale is extraordinary. It is presumed to be a ritual arena of some kind and are theatrical, designed to impress’.

`Superhenge’ – Circular Settlement

The stones seemed to be placed along the south-eastern edge of what seemed later on the Durrington Walls `superhenge’, a circular settlement edged by a ditch and bank that at a third of a mile across is the biggest earthwork of its kind in the UK.

 It is unknown if someone had toppled them or the arena had been a rival attraction to Stonehenge or part of the same complex of sacred sites. It could have even been pushed over for the purpose of protection of their sacred significance, according to Professor Gaffney. The stone which are not yet excavated are presumed to be `sarsens’ – giant sandstone blocks like the ones at Stonehenge.

Its discovery at Durrington Walls had been revealed at the British Science Festival at the University of Bradford. During the same event last year, the Hidden Landscapes study had shown a host of archaeological features surrounding Stonehenge. According to National Trust archaeologist for Stonehenge, Dr Nick Snashall informed that `the Stonehenge landscape had been studied for centuries, but the work of the Hidden Landscapes team is revealing earlier unsuspected twists in its age old tale’.

Placement of Stones – A Mystery

During the same event last year, the international team also showed a host of previous unknown archaeological features which had been hidden in the landscape surrounding Stonehenge which included a 108ft long burial mound comprising of a massive wooden building, in which the timber foundation was beneath the soil.

Prof Gaffney was of the belief that the stones could have been planted by the people who had built Stonehenge but is doubtful about a direct link between the two monuments. These had been placed along a steep slope or scarpcut in a natural dry valley forming a `C’ shaped feature. The placement of these stones seems to be a mystery.

A section of Durringon Walls is associated with the rising sun on the winter solstice, being the shortest day of the year, could have been significant. The archaeologists are of the belief that at some point of time, these stones could have been pushed over and incorporated in the developing henge.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Marie Antoinette’s Missing Son


Louis-Charles – Son of Louis XVI & Marie Antoinette

During the French Revolution, the son of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, known as Louis-Charles, Dauphin of France who was only eight years old had been kidnapped on August 10, 1792. He was locked up in the temple prison during the French Revolution, in Paris, an event that resulted in both his parents losing their head to the guillotine, for treachery under the first republic.

The orphaned eight year old Louis-Charles would have been the successor to the throne but he had been imprisoned. The Dauphin was said to be kept in confinement and was cruelly treated till it is said that he died in June 1795. He would be of ten years old at the time of his death and had been buried in an unmarked grave. Some rumours began circulating that the body buried did not seem to be of Louis-Charles and that he had been spirited away alive by supporters.

 There is a legend against his background that the Dauphin had been taken in secret from his dungeon and brought secretly to northern New York in the midst of a substantial population of Frenchmen who were still loyal to the monarchy. This strange story had been the topic of serious historical conjecture for several years.

French Monarchy Restored - 1814

Rev John H. Hanson, an Episcopal priest, in the middle of the 1800, wrote an account of how a particular Eleazer Williams, an Episcopal priest of the North Country who had died in 1858 could have been the lost Dauphin. William was presumed to be one of the twelve children of Thomas Williams and the grandson of Eunice Williams of Deerfield Mass and was one who had been captured by the Indians in the massacre of that village.

The offspring of William bore obvious evidence of Indian heritage while Eleazer did not. Moreover, no record was made with regards to the birth of Eleazer. Williams too had no knowledge of his own life prior to the age of twelve or thirteen and had served in the War of 1812 as a scout and spy for American forces on the northern border of New York by his own account.

After the war, he became an Episcopal missionary and was sent to the Oneida Tribe of upper New York State where he successfully converted several of the Oneida to the Episcopal faith. In 1814, hundreds of applicants came forward when the French monarchy was restored and would-be royal heirs continued to appear from all over Europe for decades thereafter.

Buried in the Basilica – June 8, 2004

Towards 1841, the reigning King of France, Prince de Joinville, the younger son of Louis Phillip, came to the United States and Williams would claimed that the Prince had presented him with a vast estate if only William would renounce his claim to the throne which he had refused to do so. The Prince had denied the story, stating that his only interest in William was as an Indian missionary.

 However in 2000, a DNA test proved beyond doubt that Louis-Charles had indeed died in prison. Philippe-Jean Pelletan was one of the doctors who had attended Louis-Charles shortly prior to this death and later performed the autopsy.

He had removed the heart which was not buried with the rest of Louis-Charles’s body. He attempted to return his heart to Louis XVIII and Charles X, both of whom did not believe it to be of their nephew. The heart was stolen by one of his students who later on his deathbed confessed and asked his wife to return it to Pelletan instead of which she sent it to the Archbishop of Paris where it remained till the Revolution of 1830. On June 8, 2004, it was buried in the Basilica and the claims of the North Country preacher named Eleazer Williams was dispelled forever.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Haunting Russian Statue Discovered to be 11,000-Years-Old


The Big Shigir Idol – Mysterious Statue

For thousands of years before the ancient Egyptians mined the first block of granite for the pyramids, a huge wooden totem of 17.5 feet tall had fallen into a peat marshland in the western fringes of Siberia, Russia. It remained there, preserved like a natural time capsule till it was eventually discovered in 1894.

Known as the Big Shigir Idol, this mysterious statue had all researchers confused for decades owing to the coded hieroglyphic on its surface. Some have assumed that it could contain stories on the creation of the world by ancient person, while others are of the belief that it could be nothing more than decoration, though the fact remains that it is a very old piece of art.

A first attempt to date the idol had been done 107 years after its discovery in 1890. An initial analysis utilising radiocarbon dating done in 1997, placed the Shigir Idol’s age to be around 9,500 years, leading to dispute in the scientific community.According to a source, to overcome doubts and to make the results known and accepted, they made a decision to use the most modern technologies to date the idol again.

Important Data For International Scientific Community

Recent analysis conducted in Mannheim, Germany, one of the world’s most advanced laboratories was carried out,and using seven small wooden samples from the Idol placed inside an accelerated mass spectrometer indicated it to be 11,000 years old which is more than twice the age of the Egyptian pyramids or Stonehenge.

A professor at the Department of Cultural Heritage of Lower Saxony, Thomas Terberger had commented at a press conference recently that `this is extremely important data for the international scientific community and it is important for understanding the development of civilization and the art of Eurasia and humanity as a whole’.

He further added that in those times, 11,000 years ago, the hunters, fishermen and gatherers of the Urals were not developed than the farmers of the Middle East. By showing how powerful the recent dating technology has become, researchers have revealed that the idol was made from a newly cut larch tree which could have been at least 157 years.

Masterpiece – Gigantic Emotional Value/Force

The clear cuts on the tree trunk leaves no room for doubt that the idol had been made from a freshly cut tree with the use of stone tools. The ancient monuments standing 9 ft. in height though originally was 17 ft. tall is as high as a two storey house. During the Soviet era, two metres of the ancient artefact were missing though the drawings were done of it by pre-revolutionary archaeologist Vladimir Tolmachev.

Lead researcher of the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Archaeology, Professor Mikhail Zhilin, had commented of his feeling of awe while studying the idol. He stated that this was a masterpiece, carrying gigantic emotional value and force.

It is a unique sculpture and there is nothing else like it in the world. It is very alive as well as complicated at the same time and the ornament is enclosed with nothing but encrypted information. People seemed to be passing on knowledge with the help of the idol. As the messages tend to remain a mystery, it was evident that the figure’s creators lived in great harmony with the world, had innovative intellectual development as well as complicated spiritual world.

Monday, September 7, 2015



Phlogiston – An Early Chemical Theory

Phlogiston is an early chemical theory, a hypothetical principle of fire, of which all combustible substance has been in part composed. The phlogiston theory is an out-dated scientific theory which hypothesized a fire like element known as phlogiston which comprises of combustible bodies and are released at the time of combustion.

The name has been derived from the Ancient Greek word phlogiston – burning up and was first stated in 1667 by Johann Joachim Becher. The theory makes an attempt in explaining the burning processes like combustion and rusting that are now together known as oxidation. The phenomenon of burning was caused by the liberation of phlogiston with the de-phlogisticated substance that is left as ash or residue.

In 1669, Becher put forth his views that substances comprised of three types of earth which according to him were vitrifiable, the mercurial and the combustible. He presumed that when a substance tends to burn, combustible earth was liberated. Hence, wood was a combination of phlogiston and wood ashes. Georg Ernst Stahlapplied the name, phlogiston from Greek meaning `burned’ to the hypothetical substance, around the beginning of the 18th century.

Metals Composed of Calx & Phlogiston

Stahl was of the belief that the corrosion of metals in the air, for instance the rusting of the iron was a form of combustion and when changed to its calx, or metallic ash, its oxide, in modern terms, phlogiston tend to get lost. Hence metals were composed of calx and phlogiston.

The role of air is merely to carry away the liberated phlogiston. The main objection to the theory is that the ash of organic substance tends to weigh less than the original while the calx seems to be heavier than the metal. This was of less significance to Stahl whoconsidered phlogiston as an immaterial principle instead of an actuals substance.

Phlogiston was considered as a true substance as chemistry advances and great attempt was made in accounting for the weight changes that were noticed. Some presumed that it was pure phlogiston, when they discovered that hydrogen was very light in weight and very flammable.

Theory Condemned by Antoine Lavoisier

The phlogiston theory was condemned by Antoine Lavoisier between 1770 and 1790 who researched on the gain or loss of weight when tin, lead, phosphorus and sulphur went through reactions of oxidation or reduction – de-oxidation and portrayed that the newly discovered element – oxygen was involved.

Though a number of chemists like the notable Joseph Priestly, one of the discoverers of oxygen, made attempts to retain some types of the phlogiston theory and by 1800, almost every chemist accepted the accuracy of Lavoisier’s oxygen theory.

It was believed that when an object would burn, it released its phlogiston – an element without taste, mass, odour or colour, leaving behind a powdery substance, calx. Objects burnt in air were considered to be rich in phlogiston and the fact that a fire burned out when the oxygen was removed was a proof that oxygen could only absorb a limited amount of the substance.

 The theory also leads to the notion that the human need to breathe, had a main function which was to eradicatephlogiston from the body. The complete concept was superseded by Lavoisier’s discovery that combustion could only take place with the help of oxygen.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Medieval Bones Discovered Under Road Close to Historic Castle Captured During Rebellion against King John


Human Bones of Medieval Period Discovered

Human bones presumed to belong to the medieval era have been discovered buried under a road and electrical engineers working for National Grid discovered the bone at the time of the excavation of the road in Hertford, Hertfordshire.

Earlier reports have indicated that the bones had been found in a bin bag and police had considered it as a crime scene at the site, but archaeologists as well as forensic experts on examining the remains have confirmed that they were many hundred years old.

It is believed that the bones comprising of a femur, rib bone, a lower jaw as well as part of the skull could have been an ancient burial site but a black plastic bin bag found with the bones indicate that they could have been shifted there.

Display in the Hertford Museum

The bones which had been excavated in the area opposite the library in Hertford’s Old Cross location will now be displayed in the Hertford Museum. This site is said to be around 350 yards from Hertford Castle and was built by King Edward the Elder in 912 AD and later on captured by Louis, Dauphin of France in 1217 at the time of the Barons rebellion against King John.

It is expected that the archaeologists may be capable of gathering more information with regards to whom they could belong to. Gerry McDonald, Chief Inspector Police from Hertfordshire had stated that `they have been working closely with experts to find the origin of these bones’. Result of this work would help them in confirming the bones date to the medieval period.

Great Plague of 1665

A pit with bodies, which is found under London’s Liverpool Street station, is believed to be the ultimate resting place of around 30 victims of the Great Plague of 1665. Archaeologist came across this horrible discovery at the time of excavating the Bedlam burial ground at the Crossrail site towards the east of the city.

The mass burial is unlike the other individual graves at the cemetery and could provide some insight on the shattering epidemic which had swept out a fifth of London’s population during the 17th century. The Great Plague had started in 1665 and it is presumed to have been the result of the Yersinia pestis bacterium which is generally transmitted by the bite of an infected rate flea.

 The last main epidemic of the bubonic plague which had taken place in England had killed about 100,000 people and some of them are assumed to be buried in Bedlam cemetery. It is also known as Bethlehem and New Churchyard since it was opened when the others had started to be full.

 The cemetery is now being excavated in order to permit the construction of the new Liverpool Street Station which would be serving the cross-London rail network.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Aluminium Wedge of Aiud


The Aluminium Wedge of Aiud – Mysterious Artefact

In 1974, the Aluminium Wedge of Aiud, is a mysterious artefact of uncertain origin in the shape ofa wedged shaped object which had been found around two kilometres east of Aiud, Romania, on the banks of the Mures River. The object is said to be discovered 35 feet beneath the sand and along with two mastodon bones which is said to be an extinct large tusked mammal species.

The artefact seems to be similar to the head of a hammer and the wedge was apparently taken to the Archaeological Institute Cluj-Napoca for examination. It was found to be 20.2 cm long, 12.5 cm wide and 7 cm high, weighing approx. 2.3 kg having two arms and two cylindrical holes. It was found to be made of an alloy of aluminium covered in a thin layer of oxide.

The alloy of the wedge seemed to be composed of 12 various elements and this artefact is strange due to the aluminium which has not been discovered till 1808 as well as not produced in quantity till 1885. Aluminium essentially needs 1,000 degrees of heat in order to be made and the fact that the wedge found in the same layer of earth as mastodon bone would make it almost 11,000 years old.

Indication of Aliens’ Visit to Earth

Several people have claimed that the artefact is indication that aliens had visited the Earth. Besides, engineers have reported that the object bear a resemblance to the foot of landing gear, like the technology utilised on spaceships. According to the article it was examined a second time in Lausanne, Switzerland coming up with the same results though no mention has been made regarding which establishment had carried out the second analysis.

 Florin Gheroghita, had the opportunity of examining the report and the analysis performed under the direction of Dr Niederkorn of the institute for the study of metals and non-metallic minerals- ICPMMNM located in Magurele, Romania.

 He stressed that it was composed of an alloy of extremely complex metal and affirms that the ally comprised of 12 different element of which he had been successful in establishing the volumetic percentage of the aluminium – 89%. He also identified the presence of Copper – 6,2%, silicon 2,84%, zinc 1,81%, lead 0,41%, pond, 0,33%, zirconium 0,2%, cadmium 0,11%, nickel 0,0024%, cobalt0,0023%, bismuth 0,0003%, silver – 0,0002% and trace amounts of gallium.

Purpose of Artefact/Lack of Data

Most of the scientists are of the belief that the wedge was made here on earth and the purpose was not identified and not much information has been found with regards to the subject. Lack of data could probably be explained by the restrictions that were imposed on archaeology and history by the communist rule during that time.

Other specialists claim that the object could be 20,000 years old since it was found in layer with the mastodon bone and this particular case lived in the later part of the Pleistocene. Some other researchers presume that this piece of metal could have been a part of a flying object which could have fallen into the river and that it had an extra-terrestrial origin. The aluminium wedge of Aiud still remains a mystery.