Saturday, July 06, 2013

Just the Facts?: Haunted Statue of Liberty -- Mystery Intergalactic Radio Bursts Detected -- Japanese Monster Scroll



Haunted Statue of Liberty

Dubuque [IA] Daily Herald - 2 April 1896

Unearthly Noises Proceed from the Interior of Bartholdi’s Emblem

The Statue of Liberty is tenanted by ghosts. At least that is what the river men claim, and say that the statement is susceptible of proof. They say, and they know whereof they speak, that as the witching hour of night approaches most unearthly noises are heard, as if the statue were possessed.

There is a scientific explanation, however, of these ghostly disturbances, but it does not interest the harbour men and sailors on board ships lying at anchor within a stone’s throw of Liberty Island, their hulls brought into strong relief by the electric torch. Many a “fo’c’s’le” yarn has been spun about the midnight carnival of spirits within the goddess. The sailors in the creaking of her joints hear the ghoulish shouts of the revelers. When the night is calm and bitterly cold the mysterious din is plainly heard.

The most terrifying of these mysterious sounds for those who are not in on the secret are the spirit rappings. The goddess rivals the most expert spiritual mediums. These rappings may be heard almost every night in the year. During the daytime the solemn figure is as quiet as a graveyard, but when darkness settles down it is easy to imagine that several spiritualistic séances are being carried on successfully in this gloomy interior. The explanation is, however, exceedingly simple. The statue, as everyday knows, is formed of enormous plates of copper bronze, firmly riveted together. The action of all sorts of weather to which this very exposed position renders the statue subject tends to gradually loosen these little bits of steel.

The dampness which draws in from the water from all four sides forms a thick coating of copper verdigris on the rivets, eating away the copper. This does not weaken the statue materially, but it affords a certain amount of play between the overlapping sections. The goddess, under the gentle influence of Old Sol. expands throughout every part of her enormous figure. At night she in a measure draws her robes more closely about her; as if to protect herself from the cold. The contraction of the copper sheets, it may readily be seen, causes a gentle motion which produces a very faint rap. But this reverberates through the vast interior, which magnifies it over and over again and lends to it a gloomy, hollow sound.

The members of the guard of honor who attend the goddess throughout the night tell many strange stores of the haunted statue. Several of these watchmen have preferred to give up their positions rather than listen to these remarkable object lessons in acoustics. They could not be persuaded that the mysterious figure was not haunted, and all said that they had never in their lives heard of any haunted house which could boast half as many hair-raising noises as the dignified goddess. It sometimes happens when the contrast of temperature is greatest that the groans and rappings are loud enough to be heard on the boats passing close to the island. The sound of hollow groans, accompanied by weird rattlings and other uncanny noises, has frightened more than one superstitious sailor as he floated across the dark waters. (N.Y. Journal)

Haunted Places: The National Directory: Ghostly Abodes, Sacred Sites, UFO Landings and Other Supernatural Locations

Empire Ghosts: New York State's Haunted Landmarks

Haunted Hikes: Spine-Tingling Tales and Trails from North America's National Parks


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19th Century Japanese Monster Scroll


Here is a look at the Kaikidan Ekotoba, a mysterious handscroll that profiles 33 legendary monsters and human oddities, mostly from the Kyushu region of Japan (with several from overseas). The cartoonish document, whose author is unknown, is believed to date from the mid-19th century. It is now in the possession of the Fukuoka City Museum. Much more at ‘Kaikidan Ekotoba’ monster scroll

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The Dictator's Bathtub


Just hours after Adolf Hitler committed suicide on April 30th, 1945, former fashion model and Vogue correspondent, Elizabeth (Lee) Miller was photographed taking a bath in his tub. Miller had been accredited into the U.S. Army as an official war correspondent for Condé Nast Publications and upon the American liberation of Munich, she entered the city with the 45th division and LIFE photographer David E. Scherman at her side. Lee and David began to explore the crumbling city and by chance, happened to wander into an apartment in a building at number 16 Prinzenregentplatz. Incredibly, the pair had stumbled upon Hitler’s abandoned Munich apartment.

”Almost anyone with a medium income and no heirlooms could have been the proprietor of this flat,” Miller wrote in her diaries, “The place was in perfect condition, including electricity and hot water and heat available and [an] electric refrigerator. It wasn’t empty enough to be ‘sub-let’ as it stood, but a quarter of an hour’s clearing cupboards would have made it ready for any new tenant who didn’t mind linen and silver marked AH.”

The photograph was taken by David. Allegedly there is also a photograph taken by Miller of David in the bath. But with the former model looking like she did, it was the photograph with Miller as the subject that became the iconic image from their collaboration during World War II. “I looked like an angel on the outside. That’s how people saw me,” wrote Miller. “But I was like a demon inside. I had known all the suffering of the world since I was very a little girl.”

There are many questions surrounding Miller’s decision to disrobe in the Nazi leaders private bathroom and bathe herself, possibly using his flannel. The pair reportedly spent up to three nights in his apartment together, sitting at his desk, even sleeping in his bed, “using Hitler’s toilet and taking his bath and generally making ourselves at home,” wrote Miller. They had just come from Dachau, and with those double-buckled boots that sit in front of the bath, Miller had walked through the horror of the death camp only a few hours earlier. In the midst of controversy following the photograph’s publication in Vogue, Miller said that she had merely been trying to wash the odors of Dachau away.

In a letter to her Vogue editor, Audrey Winters, Miller recounts her stay in Hitler’s home:

“I was living in Hitler’s private apartment when his death was announced, midnight of Mayday … Well, alright, he was dead. He’d never really been alive to me until today. He’d been an evil-machine-monster all these years, until I visited the places he made famous, talked to people who knew him, dug into backstairs gossip and ate and slept in his house. He became less fabulous and therefore more terrible, along with a little evidence of his having some almost human habits; like an ape who embarrasses and humbles you with his gestures, mirroring yourself in caricature. “There, but for the Grace of God, walks I.”

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Mystery Intergalactic Radio Bursts Detected

Astronomers were on a celestial fishing expedition for pulsing neutron stars and other radio bursts when they found something unexpected in archived sky sweeps conducted by the Parkes radio telescope in New South Wales, Australia.

The powerful signal, which lasted for just milliseconds, could have been a fluke, but then the team found three more equally energetic transient flashes all far removed from the galactic plane and coming from different points in the sky.

Analysis later indicated that, unlike most cosmic radio signals that originate in the Milky Way or a nearby neighbor galaxy, these four seem to have come from beyond.

Whatever triggered the bursts has come and gone. The signals, detected between February 2011 and January 2012, were one-time events so little follow-up work can be done.

What is known is that in just a few milliseconds, each of the signals released about as much energy as the sun emits in 300,000 years.

“They have come such a long way that by the time they reach the Earth, the Parkes telescope would have to operate for 1 million years to collect enough to have the equivalent energy of a flying mosquito,” astronomer Dan Thornton, with the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom, wrote in an email to Discovery News.

Scientists have all kinds of theories about what exotic phenomena may have triggered the bursts. The contenders include colliding magnetars, which are neutron stars with super-strong magnetic fields; evaporating black holes; and gamma ray bursts that involve a supernova.

Or, as Cornell University astronomer James Cordes points out, the bursts could be from an entirely new type of high-energy astrophysical event.

“It is still early days for identifying the astrophysical origins of such common but (so far) rarely detected events,” Cordes wrote in an article published in this week’s Science.

Whatever is happening is probably a relatively common, though difficult to detect, phenomenon. Extrapolating from the research, astronomers estimate there are as many as about 10,000 similar high-energy millisecond radio bursts happening across the sky every day.

“This might seem common, and it is, but you need a big telescope to detect them,” Thornton said.

Typically, telescopes only look at a very small patch of the sky at any one time, he added, “so you have to look for a long time before seeing many. This is why we have only detected a handful so far.”

Similar radio signals have been found before, but astronomers could never nail down whether they came from inside or beyond the galaxy.

Thornton and his team did so by characterizing the plasma the radio waves had to travel through before reaching the telescope. The shape of the wave is impacted by the amount of plasma along the signal’s path.

The astronomers found that these four signals traveled through more plasma than what could be accounted for by interstellar gas in the Milky Way.

They suspect the extra gas lies between galaxies, a finding that opens the door to a potential new technique to probe the contents of distant galaxies and why lies between them.

The research appears in this week’s Science. - Discovery

The Search for Extraterrestrials: Intercepting Alien Signals (Springer Praxis Books / Popular Astronomy)

SETI 2020: A Roadmap for the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence

Beyond Contact: A Guide to SETI and Communicating with Alien Civilizations




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