; Phantoms and Monsters: Pulse of the Paranormal

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Just the Facts?: The Swastika Forest -- Is Nessie a Geological Anomaly? -- Thomas Edison's ‘Spirit Machine'

The Swastika Forest

Over 20 years ago, a landscaper in eastern Germany discovered a formation of trees in a forest in the shape of a swastika. Since then, a number of other forest swastikas have been found in Germany and beyond, but the mystery of their origins persist.

Blame it on the larches. Brandenburg native Günter Reschke was the first one to notice their unique formation, according to a 2002 article in the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper. To be more precise, however, it was the new intern at Reschke's landscaping company, Ökoland Dederow, who discovered the trees in 1992 as he was completing a typically thankless intern task: searching aerial photographs for irrigation lines.

Instead, he found a small group of 140 larches standing in the middle of dense forest, surrounded by hundreds of other trees. But there was a crucial difference: all the others were pine trees. The larches, unlike the pines, changed color in the fall, first to yellow, then brown. And when they were seen from a certain height, it wasn't difficult to recognize the pattern they formed. It was quite striking, in fact.

As he was dutifully accomplishing the task he had been given, the intern suddenly stopped and stared, dumbfounded, at the picture in his hand. It was an aerial view of Kutzerower Heath at Zernikow -- photo number 106/88. He showed it to Reschke: "Do you see what this is?" But the 60-by-60 meter (200-by-200 foot) design that stood out sharply from the forest was obvious to all: a swastika.

Reschke is actually a fan of his native Uckermark region of northeastern Germany, extolling its gently rolling hills, lakes and woods, as the "Tuscany of the north." But what the two men discovered in 1992 in that aerial photograph thrust this natural idyll into the center of a scandal. Continue reading at Horticultural Hate: The Mystery of the Forest Swastikas


Is the Loch Ness Monster a Geological Anomaly?

Summer is traditionally Silly Season, when newspapers publish strange stories about aliens and monsters again and again to bridge holiday time – and so will July on “History of Geology” be dedicated to frivolous science stories…

In 2001 the Italian geologist Luigi Piccardi presented during the Earth Systems Processes meeting in Edinburgh a hypothesis explaining the supposed appearance of the sea/lake monster “Nessie” as a result of geologic forces.

According to Piccardi’s idea the historic description of the monster – appearing on the surface with great (earth) shakes and rumours – could be associated with bubbles emanating from the bottom of the Scottish lake of Loch Ness in response of seismic activity along the Great Glen fault system, passing below the lake.

In an interview published June 28 in the Italian newspaper “La Repubblica“ Piccardi explains:

“There are various effects on the surface of the water that can be related to the activity of the fault..[] If we consider the terms used by Adamnan, the beast appears and disappears with great shakes. I think it’s an obvious description of what really happened…[] We know that this was a period [1920-1930, a period characterized by many reported sightings of Nessie] with increased activity of the fault, in reality people have seen the effects of the earthquakes on the water.“

According to the biography by Adamnan of Saint Columba (“Vita Sancti Columbae“, written in the year 690) the scene described by Piccardi happened in 565 A.D. Trying to cross the river Ness the saint is attacked by a beast – but Columba implores the protection of god and the monster promptly disappears. The original text however is very vague and gives no detailed description of the event, it states only that it was an “unknown beast” and it approached with the mouth wide open and a loud roar (Piccardi’s interview and interpretation of the historic source prompted a detailed rebuttal by Italian zoologists). The mention that the beast was of unknown origin makes it appear as unique event, so seemingly no monster tradition existed previously (and as plesiosaur, Nessie had to come to the surface to breathe and should be spotted more often). For Adamnan obviously Nessie was much less of interest than the ability of Saint Columba to tame beasts and demons – an important qualification for early missionaries – so it is possible he added this encounter to make St. Colombian´s legend bigger than real life.

Even if this anecdote is granted for real, the vague description doesn’t really support any proposed scenario, neither bubbles emanating from the river or a presumed lake monster. A surviving plesiosaur in Loch Ness can more reasonable be explained by a combination of hoaxes, misidentification of common animals and promotion for tourists – a long tradition of research on the lake has never delivered even a clue for the possible existence of any larger animal in the Loch.

Not only biological constrains, also the geology don’t seems to support the existence of an earthshaking monster in Loch Ness. Common earthquakes from the Loch Ness area range between magnitude 3 to 4, larger events were recorded only in 1816, 1888, 1890 and 1901. These earthquakes don’t coincide with the years of supposed increased activity of Nessie (like 1933). Even the largest Scottish earthquakes were anyway too weak to cause any observable effects on the surface of Loch Ness (curiously the great earthquake of Lisbon in 1755 generated waves on Loch Ness, but no Nessie sighting is reported for this year).

Piccardi himself sees the value of his hypothesis more in the possibility to make geologists aware of the geological origins of some myths, as to propose verifiable cryptozoology. - Scientific American

Journey to the Center of the Earth (Dover Thrift Editions)

The Mystery of the Loch Ness Monster (Can Science Solve?)


Thomas Edison's ‘Spirit Machine' brought back to life

Kolkata: A Wiccan priestess here has claimed to have successfully experimented with a replica of the controversial 'Spirit Machine' which is believed to have been devised by Thomas Edison to communicate with spirits.

In her new book Spirits I Have Known enchantress Ipsita Roy Chakraverti says Edison, the famous American inventor credited for inventing the motion picture camera and the phonograph, had also come up with a 'spirit machine' of which little is known.

A probable model of the machine, which the author brought from the US, has a photoelectric cell that can register the slightest presence of ethereal mist or spirit activity when a strong beam of light strikes its active surface. An accompanying phonograph-like box records and playbacks spirit voices.

It is widely believed that Edison and his assistant Dr Miller Hutchinson were working to build a machine to achieve spirit communication but little is known whether they were successful or not.

"Edision's instruments worked at a frequency that would be able to pick up the waves at which spirits were detectable," writes Chakraverti.

The author, considered an authority on the supernatural, says using the device she recently conducted a successful experiment in her physic lab in Kolkata when a lawyer approached him to contact the spirit of his dead wife.

"I wanted to conduct the experiment, but in private. My students and I were a small group, pioneers in the field of psychic research in India. I did not wish this area of study to turn into a gimmick. If the general public found about the machine, there would be a deluge of people pleading to contact the other world," she writes in the book published by Harper Collins.

The author, an expert in western witchcraft tradition and the Indian science of 'Dakini Vidya', says she has been researching Edison papers and other journals of the time which talked of his theory on the supernatural.

"The great scientist had strongly believed that if we ever succeeded in establishing communication, it would be by scientific means," Chakraverti says adding that he believed that our bodies were made up of thousands of entities.

"When the physical body died these entities left, they departed but did not die, surviving as 'life-units' which could be communicated with," writes the author of two other books on supernatural Sacred Evil: Encounters with the Unknown and Beloved Witch

The book, priced at Rs 350, is a collection of nine gripping tales of true encounters between the supernatural and the Wiccan therapist. -ZeeNews

Working at Inventing: Thomas A. Edison and the Menlo Park Experience

Spirits I Have Known

Sacred Evil: Encounters with the Unknown

Beloved Witch


Woman haunted by neighbor's ghost

She asked a neighbour to look after her house for a while, but he was shot dead elsewhere.

So Thulisile Ntuli (60) moved back into her house at Lamontville... And the neighbour's "ghost" came back to haunt her!

Thulisile now fears she will die in the house because her kids have run away. And lately her legs have been swelling and plants in the garden keep dying.

"There's no peace here. The dead neighbour's ghost comes here every night and sits on the sofa. He looks at us without saying a word. My kids have deserted me because of this. I asked the neighbour's family to come and fetch his spirit but they refused because he didn't die in my house.

"The ghost has even killed my business. I had a container where I sold fast foods but it has all vanished. I got a taxi to transport schoolkids but it broke down every day and now it is parked outside. It's a skorokoro. I also have not had a relationship for some time now," Thulisile said.

Thulisile has had to give up her job as an admin clerk at Prince Mshiyeni Hospital after her legs began to swell. She said sangomas told her nothing would ever go her way because the ghost had been used by witchdoctors to cause problems for her.

"I need someone to help me. I'll pay if I'm healed. I've spent more than R20 000 paying sangomas but I never got a solution," she said.A private doctor who asked not to be named said: "By looking at the pictures, Thulisile may have elephantiasis. It can be cured by means of operating and draining the liquid in her legs."

Thandonjani Hlongwane, chairman of traditional healers in KZN, said Thulisile needs a strong sangoma who will talk to the ghost and ask it what it wants. - Zimdiaspora



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