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How Fanta Was Created for Nazi Germany

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How Fanta Was Created for Nazi Germany

How Fanta Was Created for Nazi Germany

Fanta for Nazi Germany. It’s February 1944 and Berlin is attempting to recover from American aerial bombing. But life and industry continues on the city’s outskirts. In farmhouses, bottles clang and a mix of ex-convicts, Chinese laborers, and other workers fill glass bottles of what was likely a cloudy, brownish liquid. This is one of Coca-Cola’s makeshift bottling operations, and they are making Nazi Germany’s signature beverage. Even during war, Germans want their Fanta.

The soft drink Fanta was invented by Coca-Cola, an American company, inside of Nazi Germany during World War II. Developed at the height of the Third Reich, the new soda ensured the brand’s continued popularity. Fanta became a point of nationalistic pride and was consumed by the German public, from the Fraus cooking at home to the highest officials of the Nazi party.

The drink was technically fruit-flavored, but limited wartime resources made that descriptor not wholly accurate.

Fanta Nazi Germany

Its ingredients were less than appetizing: leftover apple fibers, mash from cider presses, and whey, a cheese by-product. “Fanta was made from the leftovers of the leftovers,” says Mark Pendergrast, who, as the author of For God, Country, and Coca-Cola, revealed this hidden past. “I don’t imagine it tasted very good.”

By the time Hitler and the Third Reich marched into Austria, Coca-Cola had been in Germany for nearly a decade. Coke was invented in 1886 by Dr. John Stith Pemberton, who sold it at a local Atlanta pharmacy for five cents a glass. Pemberton was a Confederate Civil War veteran still suffering from a saber wound. While recovering, he became addicted to morphine. Coca-Cola — made from the coca leaf and the kola nut, hence the name — was his attempt to find an alternative painkiller.

The coca leaf is used to make highly addictive cocaine, which may help explain the drink’s quick expansion. In 1895, Coca-Cola’s CEO boasted of its presence in every American state and territory. In 1920, the company’s first European bottling plant opened in France, and by 1929, Coca-Cola was being bottled and drunk in Germany.

In 1933, right when Hitler and the Nazi Party were assuming power, German-born Max Keith (pronounced “Kite”) took over the company’s German subsidiary, Coca-Cola GmbH. 

How Fanta Was Created for Nazi Germany 1

Coca-Cola wasn’t alone in ignoring Hitler’s increasing aggression. Other American industries, such as Hollywood, overlooked Nazi Germany’s human rights atrocities and went out of their way to retain German business.

Hitler’s invasion of Europe in 1939 didn’t faze Keith or Atlanta-based Coca-Cola either: The company continuously supplied its German subsidiary with syrup and supplies. In addition, Keith followed German troops into conquered countries — such as Italy, France, and Holland — to take over their respective Coca-Cola businesses. By 1940, Coca-Cola was the undisputed soft drink king of Nazi Germany. According to legend, there’s a photo in the Coke archives of military leader Hermann Göring chugging a bottle of Coca-Cola. Hitler was rumored to enjoy the caffeinated beverage while watching American movies like Gone with the Wind. Then, on December 7, 1941, Japan bombed Pearl Harbor.

The U.S.’s entrance into World War II meant that American companies had to immediately stop all business activities with the enemy. In addition, the German government was threatening to seize “enemy-owned” businesses. Coca-Cola HQ in Atlanta also cut off communications with Keith in Germany and halted the export of Coca-Cola’s 7X flavoring (the long-mythicized, top secret formula for Coca-Cola syrup).

Coca-Cola GmbH was on the verge of going flat. Keith couldn’t make Coke, and at any point, the Nazi government could seize his beloved company. But he had an idea: He needed an alternative beverage specifically for the German market.

Working with his chemists, Keith patched together a recipe within the limitations imposed by wartime rationing.

Fanta Nazi Germany 1

It was basically made from the leftovers of other food industries: fruit shavings, apple fibers and pulp, beet sugar, and whey, the liquid remaining after milk has been curdled and strained during cheese production. To name this concoction, Keith told his team to use their imagination. Joe Knipp, a salesman, pitched “Fanta,” shorthand for the German word for “fantasy.” It stuck.

Fanta saved Coca-Cola GmbH. Sales rose gradually during the war, particularly as other choices became harder and harder to find. It wasn’t simply drunk either. Fanta was popular as a sweetener for soups due to severe sugar rationing, since the drink’s renown earned it an exemption from the rationing after 1941 (though Keith had to use beet sugar). It was likely used for a variety of other cooking and baking needs as well. By 1943, sales had reached nearly three million cases.

Despite being on the wrong side of history, Keith was hailed as a hero by the Americans back in Atlanta for keeping the company alive in Germany. The company’s VP of Sales, Harrison Jones, praised Keith by calling him a “great man” for operating in dire circumstances. He was given command of Coca-Cola Europe.

In April 1955, Coca-Cola reintroduced Fanta with a new recipe, this time as an orange-flavored drink. It debuted in Italy, before making its way to the United States in 1958. They revived the name largely because it was convenient. After all, Coca-Cola already had the copyright.

atlas obscura


This Cultist Was The Father Of Modern Rocketry

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This Cultist Was The Father Of Modern Rocketry

John Jack Whiteside Parsons - modern rocketry

This cultist was the father of modern rocketry. On June 17, 1952, a boom rocked Pasadena, California – an explosion at a coach house on the old Cruikshank estate, a plot of land on Millionaires Row where a large manor once stood.

The interior of the house was torn apart by a science experiment gone wrong. Amid the debris were strewn-about pages covered in symbols such as pentagrams and text written in unfamiliar languages. On the floor was the body of a man, in a pool of blood, whose face was half-ripped off and body shattered.

The man was 37-year-old John “Jack” Whiteside Parsons: the father of modern rocketry.

 L. Ron Hubbard

L. Ron Hubbard

Without Parsons, Neil Armstrong may have never set foot on the moon, and American military power might be a fraction of what it is today. But Parson’s global significance was overshadowed by a juicier pastime — he was a leader of a black-magic sex cult, of which Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard was once a member.

As a kid in Pasadena, Parsons was obsessed with traveling to the moon, and he devoured Jules Verne novels. That curiosity extended into a love of explosives. The 12-year-old budding chemist would scrape the black powder from fireworks and pack it tightly into casings to fashion rudimentary rockets.

It was also around this time he first dabbled in the occult — by attempting to contact the devil in his bedroom.

He enrolled at Pasadena Junior College in 1933 hoping to study chemistry and physics, but the Whiteside family money had dwindled precipitously, and he was forced to drop out. He was accepted at Stanford, but that, too, was out of his price range. Parsons, who wasn’t very good at math, never earned more than a high-school diploma.

Guggenheim Aeronautical Laboratory

Guggenheim Aeronautical Laboratory

But he went on to meet like-minded friends, and in 1936 they managed to convince Caltech, a Pasadena academic institution, to let them use their facilities, but not funding, to “study, create and fly” rockets. The young men had impressed Theodore von Karman, director of GALCIT (Guggenheim Aeronautical Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology), with their boldness and determination. On campus, the group swiftly became known as the “Suicide Squad,” because the pals narrowly escaped death during several experiments. All this happened when Parsons was just 23.

Thus, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, first called the GALCIT Rocket Research Group, was born. It was a major achievement for a field whose practitioners were once labeled “crackpots” during a congressional hearing, and mentioned in the same breath as alchemists and magicians.

Two years later, Parsons and his wife, Helen, were members of the OTO. The group was a strange blend of actors, opera singers, scientists, German expats and others who subscribed to Crowley’s teachings — particularly the no-strings-attached canoodling.

While Helen was on a trip, Parsons began an affair with her half-sister, Sara “Betty” Northrup. This infuriated Helen, despite the freewheeling teachings of the OTO. Eventually, Helen began her own affair with Wilfred Smith, the head of Agape Lodge, the group’s California chapter. She later divorced Parsons and married Smith.

In 1943 Parsons was at his peak. He had convinced the government that rocketry could be useful in wartime and formed a successful business called Aerojet. In 1943, the US Army ordered 2,000 rockets from the company.

GALCIT Rocket Research Group (Jet Propulsion Laboratory)

GALCIT Rocket Research Group (Jet Propulsion Laboratory)

It was not to last. A year later, Parsons was removed from the JPL and Aerojet for his associations with the lodge, which had relocated from LA to Pasadena, and had drawn scrutiny for its unusual practices. His work with rocketry wasn’t over, but it would never again be on so grand a scale.

Around that time, Hubbard, then a science-fiction writer, showed up and entranced the OTO members with his extraordinary charisma, wit and impossible tales. Parsons was taken with Hubbard, writing: “He is a gentleman. Red hair, green eyes, honest and intelligent and we have become great friends.”

But that changed when Hubbard seduced Betty, Parsons’ girlfriend. Soon, the two became an item and Parsons was overcome, for the first time, with jealous rage. Hubbard ran off with Betty, taking with him not just Parsons’ squeeze, but a lucrative idea.

Parsons showed Hubbard a kind of format for forming a religion. A hierarchy where you move your way up, and each time you move up a level, you find out more, but you have to pay to move up those levels. It looks like Scientology’s whole structure is based on this cult that Parsons was part of.

With World War II at an end, and unable to devote himself to his beloved rocket research, Parsons took solace in an increasingly outer form of magic — blending voodoo and witchcraft. Some OTO members believed he was using spells to try and summon a demon to kill Hubbard. In reality, he was trying to conjure a being to replace Betty.

His rituals often involved pentagrams, obscure scripture and masturbation, and would last more than two hours while Prokofiev’s Second Violin Concerto played in the background.

Hughes Aircraft Co

Hughes Aircraft Co

But things became dire for Parsons. In 1951, while he was working for Hughes Aircraft Co., the FBI revoked his security clearance because of his associations with possible Communists. They began an investigation into his “subversive” behavior. Making rockets for the government is impossible without some access to classified information. Parsons eventually regained clearance, but was later accused of espionage for taking documents from Hughes, and again was investigated by the FBI. He was found not guilty, but his science career was over.

Once a titan of his field, Parsons spent his final days working for the Special Effects Corp., making small explosives for films. That’s what he was doing on June 17, 1952, when, some have speculated, a chemical slipped out of his hand and sparked the explosion that took his life.

Johnny Oleksinski


How The Codex Gigas Became The Devil’s Bible

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How The Codex Gigas Became The Devil’s Bible

Codex Gigas

The Codex Gigas is the largest medieval manuscript in the world. However, it’s what inside that’s remarkable and not the size. It is on display at the National Library of Sweden in Stockholm. This leather-bound book is the largest surviving European manuscript in the world and is believed to have been written by a monk in Bohemia during the early 13th century. Featuring a large, full-page rendition of Satan, the book was given the nickname The Devil’s Bible and inspired legends about the true nature of its making.

In its entirety, the Codex Gigas contains the Old and New Testament, The Antiquities and The Jewish War by Flavius Josephus, the Encyclopaedia, the Chronicle of Bohemia by Cosmas, some medical texts, and a collection of some shorter works. It is also believed to have once contained the Rule of St Benedict, but that work has since been lost.

Codex Gigas devil

The most striking piece of the manuscript though is in the middle of the text: a large and terrifying portrait of the Devil himself as he takes up the entirety of Hell. He is depicted as having large claws, red-tipped horns, a green head, small eyes with red pupils, and two long red tongues. The image of the Devil is opposite a rendering of the Kingdom of Heaven.

At the end of the Thirty Years War, Sweden looted Prague and took the entirety of the collections of Emperor Rudolf II, including the Codex Gigas. It displayed at the Swedish Royal Library from 1649 to 2007 and was briefly loaned back to Prague and placed on display at the Czech National Library from 2007 to 2008.

According to research, due to its size and precision, many believe the book must have taken over twenty years to complete or at least five years of non-stop writing. However, the Codex is also notable because of the uniform nature of its writing, which seems to indicate that the book was written all at once over a very short period of time.

The legend goes that it was completed in a single night by a monk known as Herman the Recluse. After breaking his monastic vows, the monk was sentenced to death by being walled up. Attempting to save his own life, he made a deal that he would write a book complete with all of the world’s human knowledge in exchange for his freedom. The catch was that he only had one night to complete it.

Facing this impossible task, the monk called on the Devil to help complete the book in exchange for his soul. The book was finished with the help of Satan himself and the large portrait was included in the middle of the book supposedly as a tribute to its true author.

Although the actual author of the book may never be known, the unique portrait has been drawing attention since its creation over seven hundred years ago.

aimee lamoureux

Ancient Prophecies That Came True

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Ancient Prophecies That Came True

Ancient prophecies

Ancient prophecies. For as long as there has been written history, there are records of people trying to predict the future through a special connection with a deity or a world of spirits, from mythological seers such as Tiresias to biblical prophets such as Isaiah to historical priests and priestesses such as the oracles at Delphi and Thebes. And it turns out if you throw enough stuff at the wall over, like, five millennia, some of that stuff is going to stick.

The Delphic oracle predicts democracy

Delphic oracle

The Delphic oracle was  the most famous prophet of ancient Greece and many famous ancient people of both Greece and Rome consulted her. She was a priestess of Apollo who spoke in riddles that were interpreted into other, different riddles by a class of priests called prophetai, which is the origin of our word ‘prophet’.

One ancient famous person was the Athenian lawgiver Solon, who in 594 B.C.E. was given the task of reworking the laws of Athens. Rather than appointing himself god-king of everything like he could have, Solon decided to consult the oracle for advice in shaping Athens’s future.

The reply he received was, ‘Sit in the middle of the ship, guiding straight the helmsman’s task. Many of the Athenians will be your helpers’. Solon thankfully got the right idea: He’s not the boss of everyone, but his job is to guide the ship and everyone has to work together. So he instituted a series of reforms such as trial by jury, ending debt slavery, and a number of changes that lessened the gap between the aristocracy and the common people. Solon’s reforms at the oracle’s advice helped lead the Greeks toward the democracy they’re so famous for inventing today.

Mark Twain predicts his own death to the day

Mark Twain

Twain, whose real name was Samuel Clemens, was born in 1835, which by coincidence happened to be a year in which Halley’s Comet was passing by the Earth, an event that only happens about once every 75 years. In 1909, when he was more than old enough to appreciate this coincidence, he said, ‘I came in with Halley’s Comet in 1835. It is coming again next year, and I expect to go out with it. It will be the greatest disappointment of my life if I don’t go out with Halley’s Comet. The Almighty has said, no doubt: Now here are these two unaccountable freaks; they came in together, they must go out together’.

They went out together. Twain died of a heart attack the following year, one day after Halley’s Comet was at its brightest. He not only wrote the great American novel (Huck Finn, maybe you’ve heard of it), but called the shot on his own death.

H.G. Wells predicts all of modern technology

H.G. Wells

Herbert George Wells, known as H.G. Wells, is one of the most influential writers in the history of science fiction, with such works as War of the Worlds, The Time Machine and The Invisible Man all counted as stone-cold classics of the genre. In addition to being a compelling storyteller and a powerhouse of imagination, Wells also had the benefit of training as a scientist, meaning that many of the fantastic elements of his novels had a grounding in realistic science.

As a result, many of his works include elements of science that were then fantastical but which have since become real science. Many have been cataloged by Smithsonian magazine. Examples include wireless phones in Men Like Gods, audio books in The Sleeper Wakes, genetic engineering in The Island of Doctor Moreau, lasers in The War of the Worlds and atomic bombs in The World Set Free, all in the late 19th and early 20th century.

Edgar Cayce predicts the stock market crash of 1929

Edgar Cayce

Edgar Cayce was an American mystic from Kentucky whose claim to fame was entering into a trance and uttering prophecies on such wide topics as wars, Atlantis, mergers among communication companies, and the Earth’s magnetic poles. Because of his predilection for telling the future while in a trance, he is popularly known as the Sleeping Prophet, and he is generally considered to have been at the forefront of the New Age movement.

In 1929, six months before the stock market crash that helped lead to the Great Depression, he warned of a ‘great disturbance in financial circles’ and that ‘we may expect a considerable break and bear market, see? This issue being between those of the reserves of nations and of individuals will cause a great disturbance in financial circles — unless another of the more stable banking conditions come to the relief. This warning has been given, see?’

Not only did all of that turn out to be right, it was also way more specific than anything Nostradamus said. In this case, mighty Cayce did not strike out.

benito cereno


World War II Stories: The Ready Made British Resistance

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World War II Stories: The Ready Made British Resistance

british resistance

The Story

The ready-made British resistance. After the disastrous campaign in France in 1940, the remnants of the British Expeditionary Force and the Free French Forces found themselves critically short of vehicles, ammunition, and other equipment. This led to the formation of the well-known Home Guard, but Winston Churchill also ordered the creation of a secret, underground army that was known simply as the Auxiliary Units. They remained secret until the 1990s.

Its 3,500 members were recruited mainly from the civilian population and trained in a variety of tasks, including stealth killing, explosives, unarmed combat, and sabotage. To avoid suspicion, they were assigned to Home Guard units. Despite the shortage, they were equipped with the best weapons available, including Thompson submachine guns and PIAT anti-tank rockets. They were also given silenced pistols and rifles, sticky bombs, and single-shot cartridges that could penetrate steel at almost 100 meters (over 300 ft). Their operation bases were built 4.5 meters (15 ft) underground and held 6–8 men each, plus all of their equipment and weeks’ worth of supplies.

In the event of an invasion, the plan was to attack German communication lines, railways, airfields, fuel and supply dumps, and senior German officers. Perhaps most chillingly of all, they had orders to kill any British person collaborating with the occupying German forces. One advantage of the units was that the German army would not expect organized resistance so soon after an invasion. The fatality of such a mission was certain, but luckily, the Auxiliary Units never went into action, although many of its men joined other units after it disbanded.

british resistance 1

The Background

On a clear day, you can see 11 English and Welsh counties not to mention the Bristol Channel from this ridge. No wonder the men of ‘Jonah’ Patrol of 202 Battalion, Home Guard had their operational base up here in these Monmouthshire hills.

Their accommodation was less spectacular, though. Six men would have squeezed into this damp chamber six feet below the forest floor. But the occupants would not have had to put up with it for long once it became operational. Because their life expectancy was less than a fortnight.

In addition to their Commando daggers and machine guns, they had gelignite and nitro-glycerine ‘sticky’ bombs for slapping on the side of advancing tanks. Their grenades came with four-second fuses, unlike the standard seven-second variety used by the regular Army (greatly increasing the risk to the thrower but reducing the prospect of one being thrown back). 

And every unit was issued with one extra, unusual piece of kit: a gallon of rum. This was not for recreational use. Not only were Auxiliary Units given a life expectancy of 12 days, but they were also under orders not to be captured. If surrounded, they would need to shoot each other or blow themselves up with their own explosives. The rum might have helped. Not only were Auxiliary Units given a life expectancy of 12 days, but they were also under orders not to be captured.

The Monmouthshire Auxiliaries were recruited by an eccentric intelligence officer called John Todd whose attempts at blending in can hardly have been helped by his clunking alias — ‘Tommy Atkins’. He would gather potential candidates in a Newport pub with some bogus story.  After plying them with beer, he would see who peeled off to relieve themselves and strike them off his list. ‘These weak-bladdered sorts cannot be trusted,’ he told one (strong-bladdered) Auxiliary, Les Vick. Those who eventually passed muster would then have to sign the Official Secrets Act and undergo training at Coleshill.

british resistance 2

Hundreds of hideouts were built all over Britain by Royal Engineers brought in from different regions. They would have no idea of what they were building for whom, or even where they were. But these were no mere dugouts. They were carefully chosen for proximity to a natural water supply and to roads, so that there would be no awkward questions if the occupants were seen nearby. They also boasted some clever ventilation arrangements.

The only way in is by crawling along a 30ft pipe reached through a trapdoor in the side of a hillock. It’s filthy and uncomfortable but leads to an impressive double chamber where the men of ‘Esau’ would have eaten their tinned food, grabbed some kip in rudimentary bunk beds and plotted their next raid on the enemy.



Did Colorado Kill Doc Holliday?

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Did Colorado Kill Doc Holliday?

doc holliday

Did Colorado Kill Doc Holliday?

John Henry “Doc” Holliday’s final words, spoken as he lay dying in the Hotel Glenwood in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, were “this is funny”. We’ll never know, of course, exactly what the Wild West legend meant by this. Perhaps he found it ironic that after a life spent tempting death in the gambling dens of the American frontier, it was at last his 15-year long battle with tuberculosis that had killed him. But while it is certainly true that TB was the ultimate cause of his death, it may have had an accomplice…the state of Colorado itself.

Doc was born in Georgia in 1851. His mother died of tuberculosis when he was only 15, and it is likely that he contracted the disease from her. It lay dormant long enough for him to complete his classical education and graduate from Dentistry school before symptoms began to appear. After his diagnosis he was told he had a few months, perhaps a year, to live. He was 20 years old.

Climate was the only treatment anyone could recommend for tuberculosis in the middle of the 19th century. Seeking drier, hotter weather, Doc went west. Dying or not, he still had to make a living. Good dental hygiene, however, was not a priority for most cowboys, so Doc decided to try his hand at gambling.

Some historians have suggested that Doc deliberately put himself in harms way over the course of his life out of a desire to die a quick, if bloody, death rather than waste away as the result of his disease. Whether or not this is true, he certainly seemed to have the Devil’s luck (good or bad) protecting him. Though he was sickly, scrawny, famously quarrelsome and habitually in a state of mortal danger, he always managed to survive.

Gunfight at the OK Corral

Gunfight at the OK Corral

Holliday has passed into legend as one of America’s most fearsome, steely-eyed gunslingers. But though he is credited with the killing of many men, these stories have no historical evidence. In truth, the one and only documented case of Doc killing anybody was at the infamous Gunfight at the OK Corral, when he shot Tom McLaury with a double-barrel shotgun at close range…hardly a feat the required a sharpshooter. Of his numerous escapades with a pistol he displayed abysmal aim, probably as a result of the constant flow of whiskey he consumed to control his cough. He is said to have stabbed several men to death, but this seems unlikely given his frail health and wasted physique; he supposedly carried only about 120 pounds on his 5’10” frame when he died.

More than a decade of gambling, smoking, drinking and fighting with some of the most dangerous men in America didn’t kill Doc Holliday, but it didn’t slow the progression of his disease, either. As he deteriorated he once again sought out “better” climate. In Victorian times (and for a long time after) consumptives were encouraged to seek high altitudes. This led Doc to the state of Colorado, the place that eventually killed him.

Glenwood Springs, Colorado

Doc Holliday died in Glenwood Springs, Colorado

High altitude sickness is caused when the “thinner” air, where there is less oxygen in the atmosphere, causes the amount of oxygen in the bloodstream to decrease, causing headaches, nausea and a host of other symptoms. For someone like Holliday, who suffered from a severe and advanced lung disease that already interfered with his ability to breath, Colorado’s high altitude was torturous. With his health worsening daily he decided to seek treatment in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, a town famous for the “healing” waters of its natural hot-springs and vaporous caves.

Visiting the hot-springs was the worst possible course of action for the tubercular Holliday. Sulfur emissions from the mineral springs and geothermal steam baths at Glenwood Springs stripped the few shreds of healthy tissue from his already ravaged lungs. After a bitter lifetime of gambling with death at the point of a blade or the barrel of a pistol, his diseased body got the better of him. After 2 racking, bedridden months in the winter of 1887 Doc Holliday’s lungs gave out and he died. Tuberculosis had been the loaded gun at his temple for almost half his life, but Colorado had finally pulled the trigger.


New Theory: Men Nearly Caused Human Extinction 7,000 Years Ago

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New Theory: Men Nearly Caused Human Extinction 7,000 Years Ago

New theory: Man nearly caused human extinction 7,000 years ago.

Genetics can reveal many buried secrets. An extramarital dalliance. The origins of our ancestors. In this case, it may have revealed that men almost exterminated themselves some 7,000 years ago.

The genetic indicators have been there for some time. It’s called the “Neolithic Y chromosome bottleneck.”

It’s a point in our stone-age past when our genetic diversity suddenly choked. At least among the male-transmitted genes. After a period of some 2,000 years of decline, there was only one fertile male left alive to mate with every 17 women.

It’s an event recorded in the bloodlines that have emerged across the world.

Previously, academics felt this may have had something to do with the way our ancestors explored and settled new lands. It was called the “founder effect,” where a small number of individuals keep moving to establish new settlements.

But a new study published in the science journal Nature puts forward a much more brutal proposal.

Men killed most of their peers off.

Cauldron of change

Man nearly caused human extinction 7,000 years ago 1

Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East may have been consumed by carnage between 5,000 and 7,000 years ago. And, as fathers pass their Y chromosome on to their sons, entire families must have been exterminated over wide areas.

It was a time when the world population is estimated to have been somewhere between five and 20 million people. To leave such a stark genetic imprint behind, as many as 9.5 million men must have been killed.


The Stanford University team blames “competition between patrilineal kin groups.”

Otherwise known as tribalism.

Clans form from common ancestors. They establish a strong group identity. This, in turn, promotes a sense of difference and competition with separate nearby clans.

The researchers say these pressures came to a head shortly before the first civilization emerged in Sumeria about 4,000 years ago.

Essentially, the victorious clans would exterminate their opponent’s menfolk to ensure ongoing dominance and the eradication of potential competition. They would then seize the surviving women.

World War Zero?

Man nearly caused human extinction 7,000 years ago 2

According to the researcher’s data, the carnage would have been horrific. The slaughter was so intense that just one-twentieth of the entire male population survived.

The fighting must have persisted for generations. And the first signs of civilization arose from the ashes.

Their hypothesis goes something like this:

Human society began to evolve away from nomadic hunters towards farming communities about 12,000 years ago. Suddenly, they had possessions. Resources were finite. And as clans had begun to settle in one place, intruders were unwelcome.

Such groups evolved systems of organization based on family membership — generally focused on the male chief of the clan. In terms of chromosomes, it would have appeared as though every male member of a clan had the same father.

Wiping out a clan would wipe out their unique Y chromosome markers.

The victorious clan would then expand to fill the void left behind.,

This hypothesis is only a model. There is no direct evidence of such a world-spanning conflict. It’s possible a male-specific disease could also have caused such carnage.

But, circumstantially, such brutal clan cleansing seems feasible.

jamie seidel,


World War II Stories: Albert Goering, The Anti-Nazi Brother Of Hermann

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World War II Stories: Albert Goering, The Anti-Nazi Brother Of Hermann

albert goering

War Stories: Albert Goering, The Anti-Nazi Brother Of Hermann

Albert Goering was born on 9 March 1895 in the Berlin suburb of Friedenau. He was the fifth child of the former Reichskommissar to German South-West Africa and German Consul General to Haiti, Heinrich Ernst Göring, and his wife Franziska “Fanny” Tiefenbrunn, who came from a Bavarian peasant family.

The Görings were relatives of numerous residents of the Eberle/Eberlin area in Switzerland and Germany, among them German Counts Zeppelin, including aviation pioneer Ferdinand von Zeppelin; German nationalist art historian Hermann Grimm, author of concept of the German hero as a mover of history that was later embraced by the Nazis; Swiss historian of art and cultural, political and social thinker Jacob Burckhardt; Swiss diplomat, historian and President of International Red Cross Carl J. Burckhardt; the Merck family, owners of the German pharmaceutical giant Merck; and German Catholic writer and poet Gertrud von Le Fort.

albert goering herman

Albert Goering was the brother of infamous Nazi leader Hermann Goering, the man who famously vowed to destroy the RAF. Unlike his older brother, Albert was not a Nazi and often risked his life to save those the Nazis hated. He moved to Austria after the Nazis rose to power and often spoke out against the Nazi party, but when Austria was annexed by Germany in 1938, Hermann kept the Gestapo away from Albert. When the Nazis marched into Vienna, Albert rushed to distribute exit visas to Jewish residents and even went head-to-head with Nazis who were forcing elderly Jewish people to do degrading things, such as washing the street.

Albert managed to save hundreds of Jews as well as political dissidents during the war. He persuaded his brother to order the release of many prisoners of concentration camps, claiming they were “good Jews.” He was arrested on a number of occasions, but each time, his family connections ensured his freedom, even when a warrant for his death was issued in 1944. Albert ran a Skoda factory in Czechoslovakia, whose employees were very grateful to him for how he treated them, even allowing passive resistance among the workforce. When two Nazi officers gave him the Nazi salute while he was stationed in Bucharest, Romania, he invited them to “kiss [his] ass.”

Ironically, Albert was imprisoned for two years after the war due to his association with his older brother. When he was released, he found himself unemployable. He died penniless, but he was looked after by those he had helped during the war. Only recently has he received recognition for his bravery.

wikipedia  will

World War II Stories: Soham Rail Disaster

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World War II Stories: Soham Rail Disaster


The Soham Rail Disaster

On June 2, 1944, just before D-Day, driver Benjamin Gimbert and his fireman, James Nightall, were in charge of a freight train delivering bombs to the USAF in White Colne, Essex, UK. As they approached the village of Soham in Cambridgeshire, Benjamin realized that the wagon coupled directly behind the locomotive was on fire. That’s never a good thing, but this fire was particularly dangerous, given that the train was carrying tons of explosives.

He stopped the train, and James came down from the footplate to uncouple the blazing wagon. Only 128 meters (420 ft) from the station in Soham, they attempted to ditch the wagon in the open countryside before the bombs exploded. They failed, and seven minutes after Benjamin originally saw the fire, the wagon exploded. It flattened the station building, damaged 600 others, threw Benjamin almost 200 meters (about 600 ft) away, and killed two other railway workers who had stayed to stop another train that was headed for the wagon’s path of destruction.

The cause of the fire was never fully explained. The wagon had previously been used to carry a load of bulk sulphur powder and although it would have been cleaned in between loads, the possibility remained that some of the powder remained. Although the wagon was sheeted, the theory advanced was that a cinder from the engine had landed in the wagon and had ignited some sulphur which in turn set alight the wooden body of the wagon.

Despite the crater the explosion created that was 6 meters (20 ft) deep, the track was up and running again by that evening. Both Benjamin and James were awarded the George Cross, the highest award for non-combat bravery in the British and Commonwealth. Their actions are commemorated with two different plaques in Soham.

A permanent memorial was unveiled on Saturday 2 June 2007 by HRH Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester followed by a service in St. Andrew’s Church, Soham. The memorial is constructed of Portland Stone with a bronze inlay depicting interpretive artwork of the damaged train as well as text detailing the incident.

Both Gimbert and Nightall had Class 47 locomotives named after them, although the nameplates have since been transferred to Class 66 locomotives. However, 47579 also retains its name in preservation.



Earliest Humans More Advanced Than Originally Thought

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Earliest Humans More Advanced Than Originally Thought

homo sapiens

Earliest Humans More Advanced Than Originally Thought.

On a grassy African landscape, some of the earliest members of our species, Homo Sapiens, engaged in surprisingly sophisticated behaviors including using color pigments, creating advanced tools and trading for resources with other groups of people.

Those findings, published in the journal Science, were reported Thursday by scientists who examined artifacts dating from 320,000 years ago unearthed in southern Kenya, roughly the same age as the earliest known Homo Sapiens fossils discovered elsewhere in Africa.

The researchers described ochre pigment that produced a bright red color, which could have been used for body painting or other symbolic expression, and tools fashioned from obsidian, a volcanic rock that yields extremely sharp blades, which contrasted with clunkier ones used by earlier species in the human evolutionary lineage.

the team

The Team

They found abundant evidence of long-distance transfer of obsidian to the Olorgesailie Basin location from sites up to 55 miles away over rugged terrain, leading them to believe it was acquired from another group through trade, although it was unknown what was provided in exchange.

These findings indicate advances in technology and social structures unexpected so early in our species’ history, they said.

“The choice of importing the ochre from a distance rather than using a more common local material which accomplishes the same purpose argues that having a red face or hair or clothing or weapons also carried a symbolic message of some sort,” said paleoanthropologist Alison Brooks of George Washington University and the museum’s Human Origins Program.

Olorgesailie Basin

Olorgesailie Basin in the Kenya rift valley where earlier humans lived and travel.

The researchers described obsidian tools that were smaller, more carefully crafted and more specialized than larger stone tools called handaxes used by earlier human species.

The obsidian was used in a wide range of tools including scrapers, implements with chisel and gouging edges and also in small points that could be placed at the end of a wood or bone shaft for use as a projectile weapon.


Researchers Claim They’ve Found The Secret Tomb Of St. Nicholas

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Researchers Claim They’ve Found The Secret Tomb Of St. Nicholas

The Secret Tomb Of St. Nicholas 1

The Secret Tomb Of St. Nicholas

Researchers believe they may have found the final resting place of St. Nick. A recent scan of the ground beneath St. Nicholas Church in the Turkish province of Antalya has revealed what local officials say could be a secret tomb. They believe the tomb could belong to the popular Christian saint who helped inspire the legendary character Santa Claus, the Hurriyet Daily reports. The discovery was made using ground-penetrating radar amid local speculation that St. Nicholas, who was born in the church’s town of Demre, previously known as Myra, could still be buried there.

The church, located in the town of Demre, previously known as Myra, is said to have been the original resting place of the famous saint. The process of excavating the ground is expected to take some time though, with workers first having to carefully loosen and then remove the titles. A body previously thought to have been St. Nicholas was moved out of the church in the 11th century and is believed to have wound up in Italy. The past spring some of those relics ― including a gold-encased rib ― left Italy for Moscow, making the relics’ first trek outside of the country in nearly 1,000 years, the Telegraph reported.

The Secret Tomb Of St. Nicholas

Cemil Karabayram, head of Antalya’s Monument Authority, said it will take some time to examine the ground beneath the church, with them having to remove the mosaic tiling. ‘The world’s eyes will be set on here’, he told Hurriyet Daily. ‘We claim that St. Nicholas has been kept in this temple without any damage. We are at the last stage. If we get the results, Antalya’s tourism will gain big momentum. We will start discussions at an international level after the excavations.’

St. Nicholas’ real-life acts of generosity, particularly to children, helped inspire the red and white-suited figure known as Santa Claus who has become a worldwide symbol for Christmas and holiday festivity. The popular saint was born in the third century in the village of Patara, to wealthy parents who taught him Christian beliefs and values before their untimely deaths left him orphaned, according to the St. Nicholas Center. Wanting to live a life of piety, he surrendered his wealth to the needy and dedicated his life to serving God while becoming the Bishop of Myra.

Nina Golgowski


World War II Stories: Bombers Of The Second World War – Capt. Donald Macintosh

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World War II Stories: Bombers Of The Second World War – Capt. Donald Macintosh


Second World War Two bombers. The Lancaster is probably the most famous of all the bombers of the Second World War. According to Capt. Donald Macintosh (ex-Second-World-War bomber pilot and author) it was a lot smoother to fly than the Wellington; the experience of which was close to that of a fighter plane (with no payload, of course).

Survival rates on bombers

The life of a Second World War bomber pilot was probably the most dangerous of all the armed forces of the Second World War. Less than 50% survived their tour; each tour consisted of roughly 25 operations or raids with the chances of survival for each raid being 96%. That is what the commanders always told the crew before a raid to keep up morale. But if you compound 96% over 25 times, the survival rate was closer to 50%. When Donald looked at his Florida academy group photograph after the war, he counted around half of those still alive.

What Killed The Bomber Crews?

  • Training
  • Enemy fighter planes
  • Lack of rear radar (called Monica: only introduced later in the war)
  • An incompetent navigator
  • An incompetent rear gunner
  • Flak
  • Poor attitude
  • Bad luck



Rushed training caused a few deaths. President Roosevelt wanted to train pilots within 2 years which would be woefully short in peacetime, but due to the high chop rate they had no choice. Donald sometimes saw burnt-out bombers on the runway from fatal mistakes made by cadets. A fairly experienced New Zealand pilot and his crew died in a ball of flames in the air during training. They speculated it was because one of the crew members had smoked during the flight.

Also, the bombers used in training were not maintained properly, if at all. All the good maintenance staff were looking after the bombers flying real operations. This could cause engines to fail, which killed a few crew members.

In fact, Donald had several very near misses himself in just such scenarios. The excerpt: “The Landing” from his book is just one example of inexperience nearly killing him. “Russian Mechanics” is another; the Russians didn’t have the competence or equipment to maintain planes as Donald found out.

Enemy Fighter Planes

Fighter planes out-gunned and could out-maneuver bombers. The typical fighter tactic was to dive under the bomber and swing around and up, shooting up at the undercarriage. This wasn’t without total risk to the fighter, as the explosion of the payload could also destroy the fighter if he was too close. Donald experienced a Focke Wulf 190 first-hand using just this tactic.

The best defence was the cork-screw dive. This meant diving 45 degrees to the left, then 45 degrees to the right and then fly back upwards 45 degrees left. The odds though were still against you. At night time, if an enemy fighter was detected soon enough, the cork-screw dive was very effective at shaking them off.

Lack Of Rear Radar

Rear radar, or Monica as it was called, saved countless bomber crew’s lives. This enabled the crew to detect an enemy fighter sneaking up behind very early. The cork-screw dive maneuver was then quite effective. Using Monica, during night-time raids especially, allowed the bombers to easily shake off enemy fighter planes. Monica saved Donald’s life when it was introduced. It was a pity that his Squadron Leader also didn’t have it when he battled a German ace. See “Squadron Leader” for this story.

An Incompetent Navigator

According to Donald, the navigator was absolutely crucial to survival. If you got lost over enemy territory, you had had it. Not only could you accidentally fly over enemy fighter bases or flak installations, but your fuel would run out. Donald’s bomber crew experienced their fuel running out twice, once in training and once over Russia.

An Incompetent Rear Gunner

Although, the rear gunner was not as important as the navigator, he needed to be very alert for detecting enemy fighter planes coming in from behind. He would call out the ranges and shout out the exact time when the pilot should cork-screw. The actual gunfire was usually inadequate to bring down the fighters; it distracted them more than anything else.



At the end of the war flak was largely ineffective. This was because the German flak crews were the old men or inexperienced young boys who weren’t trained well enough to operate them properly. Of course, you could be exceedingly unlucky. If a professional flak crew were shooting at you, then you would be in trouble. When Donald was carrying out a raid over Holland, he flew over German Naval Gunners who shot down the plane three behind him, killing all but three of her crew.

Poor Attitude

Those pilots and crew who didn’t put everything into it, who didn’t really want to be there, were often the ones who got what they wished for. Donald tells of an Australian pilot Tyrell, who had an apathetic attitude always asking when his leave was etc. He died on his first mission over Stuttgart.

Another important factor was team work amongst the crew members. Some crews couldn’t get along with each other. They constantly argued, even disobeying orders. Unsurprisingly, this raised the probability of not making it over a raid.

Nervous disorders were a common problem with crew members who were nearing the end of their active duty. In fact, according to Donald, at this stage of their careers just about everybody had some sort of nervous disorder, whether it was a nervous tic or the hand shaking when lifting up a glass or tea cup. It was far worse with bomb-aimers. They saw everything below: flak exploding just beneath them etc. Bomb aimers were usually relieved earlier of their duties than most since after a while they would crack up. “The Mad Gunner” is a short story of a bomb-aimer who had done around 70 raids and had completely lost it. He was allowed to continue because he loved doing it and also the fact that he was very good at his job.

Bad Luck

A lucky flak shot, or something critical overlooked in maintenance was what usually happened. When Donald had to choose his bomb-aimer, he had a choice between Pete or his friend, George. They flipped a coin and Pete became his bomb-aimer and lived; George, however, never made it to the end of the war.

Capt. Donald Macintosh flew over 40 raids from D day until May 1945, including:

  • 3 attacks on battleship “Tirpitz” (sunk) including flight to Russia;
  • 1 destroyer, Gdynia harbour, night; prob sunk;
  • 2 heavy gun emplacements;
  • 3 dams;
  • 2 oil refineries;
  • 4 viaducts;
  • 3 bridges;
  • 3 submarine pens;
  • 1 ammo dump;
  • 2 flying bomb sites;
  • 2 cities;
  • Finally, Hitler’s home at Berchtesgaden, April 25th.

After the war he flew for another 30 years in civil flying some of which was almost as lethal as wartime. Based in the Bahamas, he flew Yorks and Lancastrians for British South American Airways and then went on to fly the world’s first passenger jet, Comet 1, to Africa and the Far East.


The Most Bizarre Time Travel Stories Ever

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The Most Bizarre Time Travel Stories Ever

time travel

Time travel is the one that we want to be real of all mysterious phenomena. The possibilities are endless, and some people claimed they’ve already experienced them. Of course, it’s easy to dismiss all these people as nuts or liars, but that’s exactly what the Time Gestapo WANTS you to do …

John Titor’s Time Travel Q&A

John Titor's Time Travel Q&A

For five months beginning in November 2000, John Titor answered the Internet’s questions. There were a lot of them, too, as he claimed to be a time traveler from 2036. In his future, the US had been torn apart by a 2015 civil war, nukes had been exchanged with Russia, and he was one of a handful of people sent back in time to get some particular items to help in the rebuilding of society.

Not only did he describe what society looked like (think The Walking Dead’s The Kingdom, without all the walker problems), but he also shared technical information about his 1967 Chevy-mounted time machine, along with schematics and details about what it felt like to travel through time. (It gets hot.)

Awesomely, the story isn’t just still alive, it got another chapter from the conspiracy theorists. 4chan came forward with the theory that Donald Trump’s uncle, John, developed time travel with help from Tesla’s notes, and not only was Trump a time traveler, but he was John Titor. Disgusted by no one believing him, he ran for president. Makes as much sense as anything else about the 2016 election.

The Bold Street Time Slips

The Bold Street Time Slips

If you only know Liverpool for The Beatles, you’re sorely missing out on some cool stuff. In 2011, the Liverpool Echo started collecting some of the stories people had been telling about bizarre phenomena happening on Bold Street, and if the stories are to be believed, time is very, very thin there.

According to one witness, a woman had gone into a Mothercare store and tried to buy a gift for her sister. Workers refused her credit card, and the would-be customer went home and complained to her own mother. The store had, indeed, been there … years ago. When they returned, it was a bank.

There’s another strange one that’s from 1957, and it’s the story of a Geoff Kingsley. He was driving through the Queensway Tunnel, when he saw something coming up behind him, and when it sped past, he saw a gold, triangular car that not only left skid marks, but moved Kingsley’s car and seemed to vanish into a door in the tunnel’s wall. Weirder still? Around a dozen people have seen the same thing.

There’s an eerie number of stories about these occurrences around Liverpool, including one from a former police officer who swore he suddenly found himself in the 1960s and knew exactly what stores had been where. There was another story about a shoplifter who not only saw something off, but claimed he had been in the past long enough to find a kiosk and check a newspaper for the date: May 18, 1967.

The security guard chasing him confirmed that he had disappeared down a dead end alley, and his testimony about the shops he’d walked past was accurate. Why do so many people find themselves in 1960s Liverpool? Does it have something to do with The Beatles? These questions need answering.

Rudolph Fentz Of Times Square

Rudolph Fentz Of Times Square

Rudolph Fentz, the story goes, was dead when he was found, so no one could ask him what had happened. The man, wearing old-timey clothes, supposedly showed up in the middle of Times Square in New York City then was almost immediately hit by a car and killed. When police checked his pockets, they found a business card with his name and some coins from the 1800s. His clothes were from the same era, and so were his mutton chops. Problem was, it was June 1950.

Police did some digging and found that Rudolph Fentz had been reported missing in 1876. The address on his business card matched historical records. Time traveler? Yes!

Only … no. The story had made the rounds for years, and it wasn’t until 2005 that someone did the research. Chris Aubeck found the story had a very fictional source, and that it was written by Jack Finney in 1951. It was reprinted, spread, and somewhere along the line, someone forgot that they had read it in a book.

The Moberly-Jourdain Incident

The Moberly-Jourdain Incident

Eleanor Jourdain and Charlotte Anne Moberly were two serious and scholarly women from St. Hugh’s College in England, and they were in Versailles for some serious, scholarly R&R in August 1901. Neither had any real knowledge of French history. Because they’re English and it was France, they thought the majority of Versailles was all pretty boring, and headed to Marie Antoinette’s little chateau.

They walked and walked, and suddenly they were walking alongside people dressed in clothing that was very distinctly not modern. They came to a cottage, and Moberly said the feeling of sadness was overwhelming. A strange, handsome man directed them over a bridge and they came to Petit Trianon, the chateau they had been looking for. A dignified-looking woman was sitting outside sketching, our heroines left, and said no more of it until a week later.

Independently, they wrote down what they saw and while there were some differences, there was enough similar that they were able to piece together who they thought some of the people were just by descriptions of members of the court of King Louis XVI.

Project Pegasus And Andrew Basiago

Project Pegasus And Andrew Basiago

No matter what your political views are, we can all agree that the 2016 presidential election was a pretty wild ride, and that’s probably the only reason that it wasn’t more widely publicized that there was a time traveler running for office. Andrew Basiago, a practicing lawyer, claims that he’s been traveling through time since he was only six years old. His father got him into the business, using him as a test subject with a super-duper top secret time travel program called Project Pegasus.

According to Basiago, the government gets firsthand experience of other times in a few ways. They’ve created Chronovision, a sort of “Magic mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?” device that lets you look into another time from the comfort of your own living room, and they’ve repurposed some of Nikola Tesla’s work to travel. Basiago did it, and in 2012, he went public with claims that Barack Obama was also a “chrononaut,” and that they went to Mars together as a part of a 10-member team. The White House denied it.

Basiago says he does know he’ll be either a vice president or a president at some point between 2016 and 2028, and honestly, we hope so. He says that not only is he going to go public with all the time travel knowledge you could possibly want, but he’s also going to put Bigfoot on the endangered species list. (Yes, he’s met a father-and-son Bigfoot.) It’s about time we had some government officials who are concerned about the welfare of our endangered creatures.



The Untold Truths About Albert Einstein

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The Untold Truths About Albert Einstein

albert einstein

Albert Einstein is undoubtedly not just one of the most well-known scientists ever but one of the most well-known figures in history, period. But while his contributions to modern society are famous, was he really such a great guy? The FBI, for one, wasn’t so sure.

Oh Mr. President

Einstein was born in Germany in the year 1879, but that’s not the country that wanted him so desperately. The famous scientist was raised in a Jewish family, and after his incredible genius and accomplishments were made known to the world, Israel wanted to claim him as their own. So much so, in fact, that they offered him the presidency after the country’s first president, Chaim Weizman, died in 1952.

Musical inspiration

Out of all the women in his life, Einstein’s most beloved seems to have been Lina. Lina was not a person. She was a violin. His actual second wife, Elsa, took notice of the love affair immediately. According to National Geographic, she once said that the reason she fell in love with him was because ‘he played Mozart so beautifully on the violin’.

Einstein once admitted that life without music was of no interest to him. ‘I live my daydreams in music’ he once said. ‘I see my life in terms of music … I get the most joy in life out of music’.

Why he actually won the Nobel Prize

The prize was given to him because of his work on something that most people have probably never heard of before – the photoelectric effect. Einstein’s work on the photoelectric effect proved that when light hits certain types of metal, it gives the electrons inside the object enough energy to be freed.

The reason this was so significant was because Einstein came to this conclusion by observing light as a particle or photon at that instant instead of as a wave. Now, in any science class, you’re taught that depending on the situation, light acts as either a particle or a wave.

Not so nice to the missus

albert einstein wife

While Einstein was an inspiration to the world for his revolutionary contributions to science  he wasn’t the best husband – not even close. He apparently was quite the womanizer, as he had affairs during both of his marriages, but he was also reportedly quite demanding, especially with his first wife, Mileva Maric.

The forgotten son

Einstein’s family life was pretty messed up, which extended to the raising of his children. His relationship with one of his sons, Eduard, was particularly strained as it was later found that the young man had schizophrenia.

The son was institutionalized at the age of 25, and his father didn’t see him after that. According to the New York Times, Einstein even went so far as to say, ‘If only I had known, he would never have come into this world’. Eduard died in a Swiss mental institution at the age of 55, having not seen his father for decades.

The lost daughter

He also had a daughter who he didn’t see. The daughter in question, Lieserl, was born to him and Mileva Maric before they officially got married. Therefore, the child was illegitimate, which was a much bigger deal then than it is today. Mysteriously, the trail gets hazy soon after the girl’s birth. No one even knew Lieserl existed until decades after Einstein’s death.

Divorce settlement

When Mileva and Einstein divorced in 1919, he made a cocky if not strange promise to her in the settlement. Einstein was to leave her with the money he received from his Nobel Prize win. Okay, that seems pretty generous. But one thing sticks out. Einstein wasn’t awarded the Nobel Prize until 1921. Therefore, when he and Mileva divorced, this money didn’t even exist and wouldn’t for another two years. The scientist was that certain (and rightly so) that he would take home the Nobel for physics that he made his personal arrangements around it.

Double agent?

While Einstein lived in New Jersey for many years and was recognized as an American citizen, the FBI still kept a very watchful eye on him. Some of the biggest tragedies the world has ever known occurred during Einstein’s lifetime, the world wars and the Great Depression for example. With war exploding all around the world and with Einstein’s German ancestry, the FBI were considering the possibility that the scientist was really a foreign spy.

He never intended for the A-bomb to be used

Einstein is remembered in history for many things, some of that not so pleasant. Probably the most devastating is the atomic bomb. However, Einstein was never part of the Manhattan Project that worked on the bomb in the United States, and he never wanted it to be used. Einstein was a proclaimed pacifist for his entire life.

The kind of outcome Einstein strove to avoid ended up having his name written all over it in the history books.



The Newspapers Loved To Tease Thomas Edison

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The Newspapers Loved To Tease Thomas Edison

thomas edison phonograph

Thomas Edison. On 25 March 1878, in an unsigned editorial, The New York Times dragged a public figure through the mud  They wrote about this person ‘Something ought to be done about this person’ and ‘there is a growing conviction that it had better be done with a hemp rope’. They alleged that it was a public figure ‘of the most deleterious character hell-bent on the destruction of human society’. But the Times wasn’t skewering a corrupt politician, or even a rival newsmaker. Their target was Thomas Edison, and the provoking incident was his recent invention of the phonograph.

war of the currents

Although he had his fair share of scandals—the War of Currents, the Great Phenol Plot [the patent disputes] — his modern reputation paints him as a man who single-handedly invented the 20th century with an electric-light halo around his head. But a trip back into the archives reveals that he was not always so revered. Although Edison elicited reams of fawning and excited coverage, the publications of his time also occasionally painted the great man and his inventions as creepy and dangerous, or, more often, just plain laughable.

Edison was a big player in the 1878 era of discovery. Throughout the winter of 1877 and the spring of 1878, he traveled the world demonstrating his newest invention, the phonograph. Scientific American describes a typical show: Edison put the machine on a table and turned the crank, and the phonograph proceeded to ‘talk’, introducing itself and exchanging various pleasantries with gaping onlookers. The news media responded swiftly and variously. While plenty of outlets sung the praises of this new techno-talker, others took the opportunity to poke fun.

The New York Times leaned equally on humor and scaremongering.

new york times

They switched between over-the-top mockery and genuine fear. “He has been addicted to electricity for many years,” the editorial points out – tongue firmly in cheek – before more seriously alligations that the phonograph, with its ability to record speech, ‘will eventually destroy all confidence between man and man’.

Cartoonists had an especially good time with the phonograph.

The Daily Graphic

On 21 March 1878, the front page of the illustrated newspaper The Daily Graphic featured ten separate sketches of ways phonographic technology might go wrong: greedy thieves might trick elderly millionaires into vocally amending their wills, sketchy neighbors might use opera recordings to lure women out of their homes and wives might frighten their husbands out of sleep by cranking a record that yells ‘Police! Fire!’ over and over again.

Needless to say, this mockery failed to stop Edison, who continued to put out earth-shaking inventions. By the summer of 1878, he had introduced the megaphone, an instrument which, he promised, would vastly expand the scope of what the average human could hear. Although he marketed this as a wholesome device—one that could help the hearing impaired, surveyors, and opera-goers—the press once again latched onto its more scandalous and ridiculous possibilities.

Today smart fridges and private moon journeys are seen as megaphone-esque playthings of the errant rich.  One enduring tragedy is clear though: after all these decades, we still don’t have anti-gravitation underclothing.

atlas obscura

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