Wednesday, December 7, 2011

How to Become a Wiccan or Witch?


Being a Wiccan or Witch is generally not something you are born as or just wake up one morning and decide to become. More often than not, you come across it by accident unless you were raised that way. Many find the philosophies of how Wicca and Witchcraft view nature are the same as the one's they currently hold. They just didn't know there was a specific belief system that shared the same views.
As Silver RavenWolf accurately stated in her book To Ride A Silver Broomstick. "The Charge comes to each of us in a different manner. It is that moment in our lives when we feel the Magick of the Universe for the very first time coursing through us... and we know beyond all real and imagined shadows that this calling to the mysteries is indeed there. That it is truly there, and not a whimsical flight from reality."


If you are one who has seen striking similarities between what you believe and have found here, there are generally accepted ways to increase your awareness and find communion with others who feel the same. The following are the steps I would recommend to any one who wishes to learn more.


Read everything you can get your hands on that will tell you more about the beliefs of Wicca and Witchcraft. Only by learning as much as you can about the basic beliefs and tenets of this path can you decide if the old way's are right for you.
While doing this, you will begin to form associations and hopefully find correspondances within yourself. Note these feelings in a journal or diary. Write down the reasons you think Witchcraft is your path. What does being a Witch mean to you? What do you hope to achieve and learn? What do you fear about following this path? How do you see the Goddess and God? What does the Divine mean to you? Be absolutely honest with yourself here, this is a private book and nobody else will ever read it. This notebook will help you design your dedication/self-initiation ritual and eventually evolve into your Book of Shadows.


There are no right or wrong answers and it is not a test. It is only a way to help you define your understanding of this path.
Most importantly, listen to your inner voice. It is usually very good council and will not lead you astray. If something you read, hear or are told does not feel right, then it usually isn't right for you. If everything still feels right and you are sure Witchcraft is the path for you wish to follow after all this studying, now is the time to perform a dedication ritual.


This ritual should be yours and yours alone. Design it however you want to and in a way that will be most meaningful to you. A dedication ritual means exactly what it sounds like. You are dedicating yourself to the Craft and making the decision to live life in closer harmony and balance with the earth and nature. You are making a commitment to yourself and the Divine.


Mine was on the shore of a remote high cascade mountain lake here in Oregon. The dancing light of the campfire on the trees, a full moon reflecting off the snow pack fed waters of the lake all combined with the energy of surrounding nature. This setting was ideal for me but something completely different might be right for you.
I haven't mentioned anything about spells because you need to complete the first two steps before you even think about working with spells.
Before you begin working with magick, you need to understand what it is, where it comes from and the ethics involved. You will also need to learn and understand the basic structure of rituals, Casting circles, calling quarters, invoking the Goddess and God, raising and directing energy, grounding, centering and closing the circle.
Magick is raising and channeling the energy found in yourself, nature and in the Divine. A Witch combines this energy with their focused efforts. It takes dedication, effort, energy and hard work to achieve a desired result. The main ethical tenet to always remember is the point of the Witches Rede:

"An It Harm None."

Magick is not Hollywood hocus-pocus. It is not bending the natural order of things to fit your needs or desires. If that is what you are looking for, you are in the wrong place.
Witches have had enough bad press over the past few centuries and are working hard to turn those misconceptions around. We do not need people running around claiming to put spells and hexes on people because they cannot face reality, are not willing to work for what they want or are looking for an easy solution to their problems. Magick doesn't work that way...
All your reading and study will help you prepare for this. The Suggested Reading Section of our on-line catalog offer some excellent resources to help you understand these basic concepts.


You will also find that meditation and visualization exercises will increase your concentration. The ability to focus and visualize will greatly increase the power of your magick. Breathing exercises will help you focus as well so spend time on them.
If you are interested in joining a Coven, most will require the traditional year and a day of study before initiating new members. This gives you time to explore the religion and decide if it is the right path for you as well as giving you and the Coven members time to get to know one another. Covens are generally very selective and rightfully so. There are many out there who seek this path for all the wrong reasons.

Ref: www.wicca.com (credits to the original author)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Wicca, Witchcraft and Neo Paganism

 

Wicca:

   A modern Pagan religion with spiritual roots in the earliest expressions of reverence for nature. Some major identifying motifs are: reverence for both the Goddess and God; acceptance of reincarnation and magick; ritual observance of astronomical and agricultural phenomena; and the use of magickal circles for ritual purposes.

Wicce: 

  Synonymous with Wicca. In some circles, Wicce is used for women and Wicca is used for men.

Witch: 

  A practitioner of folk magick, particularly that kind relating to herbs, stones, colors, wells, rivers, etc. It is used by some Wiccans to describe themselves. This term has nothing to do with Satanism.

 

Witchcraft:

   The craft of the witch - magick, especially magick utilizing personal power in conjunction with the energies within stones, herbs, colors, and other natural objects. This belief system also has nothing to do with Satanism.

Pagan/Neo-Pagan/Paganism:

   General term for followers of Wicca and other magickal, shamanistic, and polytheistic Earth-based religions. Also used to refer to pre-Christian religious and Spiritual belief systems.

Types of Wiccan traditions

 

Gardnerian Wicca

A retired British civil servant named Gerald B. Gardner is the 'Grandfather', at the very least, of almost all Neo-Wicca. He was initiated into a coven of Witches in the New Forest region of England in 1939 by a High Priestess named 'Old Dorothy' Clutterbuck. In 1949 he wrote a novel [*High Magic's Aid*] about medieval Witchcraft in which quite a bit of the Craft as practiced by that coven was used. In 1951 the last of the English laws against Witchcraft were repealed (primarily due to the pressure of Spiritualists) and Gardner published *Witchcraft Today*, which set forth a version of the rituals and traditions of that coven. There is an enormous amount of disagreement about virtually every statement I have made in this paragraph.

Gardnerism is both a tradition and a family, and lineage is a family tree. The High Priestess rules the coven, and the principles of love and trust preside. We follow our handed down book more carefully than many others, but we are free to add and improvise, as long as we preserve the original.

We work skyclad, practice binding and scourging, are hierarchal and secretive, therefore we are controversial. We're also controversial because we were first - the first craft tradition in the U. S. and descended from the man largely responsible for starting the craft revival. So, we're called the snobs of the Craft, but I think we're as much fun as anyone else; our parties as good, our jokes as bad.

*Each Gardnerian coven is autonomous and is headed by a High Priestess who can turn to her queen (the High Priestess who trained her) for counsel and advice. This maintains the lineage and creates a pool of experienced and knowledgeable leaders and teachers.

*Reincarnation and the Wiccan Rede [An it harm none do what you will] are basic tenants of the tradition. Covens are as much as possible composed of male/female pairs for balance. Most working is accomplished with the energy raised by the interaction of the Lord and Lady as represented by the couples in the coven by dancing, chanting, etc.

*Like many Wiccan traditions, Gardnerians have three degrees. An American Gardnerian must be of the 3rd degree before she can become a HPS. The HPS/HP are responsible for conducting services (circles), training their conveners, and preserving and passing on Gardnerian Craft. *[This material quoted from Converging Paths Newsletter, Kyril, Brita, & Hugh authors.]

A lot of the controversy surrounding Gardnerianism questions the sources of the rituals and other materials, particularly those appearing in print. It is true that Gardner presented these materials as if they were directly from his New Forest tradition. It is clear, however, that whatever materials the coven may have had when he was initiated, Gerald made a lot of changes and added a great deal. Literary sources of the published Book of Shadows include Blake, Kipling, Yeats and Crowley. Much of the published material was written by Doreen Valiente, a member of the coven for a time and later founder of her own groups and author of many excellent books on the Craft.

Gardnerian Witches without doubt do have many materials which have not appeared in print, however, their emphasis on secrecy has made them a punch line in the Wiccan social world. How many Gardnerians does it take to change a light bulb? That's a secret! Their High Priestess will usually be called 'Lady' Soandso and High Priest, 'Lord Whats-his-name'. Alexandrian Wicca

*As most everyone by now is aware, the Alexandrian Tradition is very close to Gardnerian with a few minor changes. (One of the most obvious ones being that the Alexandrians use the athame as a symbol for the element of fire and the wand as a symbol for air. Most of the rituals are very formal and heavily indebted to ceremonial magick. It is also a polarized tradition and the sexuality of that female/male polarity is emphasized. The ritual cycle deals mostly with the division of the year between the Holly King and the Oak King and several ritual dramas deal with the dying/resurrected God theme. As with Gardnerians, the High Priestess is supposedly the highest authority. However, it is odd that the primary spokespersons for both traditions have been men.

 

Alexandrian Wicca

Alexandrian Wicca is the creation of Alex Sanders (with his then wife Maxine) who claimed to have been initiated by his grandmother in 1933. It's principal proponents are Janet and Stewart Fararr whose books set forth most, if not all, of the Alexandrian tradition. Contrary to popular belief, the name Alexandrian refers not to Alex Sanders, but to Ancient Alexandria.

Although similar to Gardnerian Wicca, Alexandrian Wicca tends to be more eclectic, and liberal. Some of Gardnerisms strict rules, such as the requirement of ritual nudity, have been made optional by Alexandrian Wicca.

Mary Nesnick, an American initiate in Gardnerian and Alexandrian traditions founded a 'new' tradition called Algard. This tradition brings together both Gardnerian and Alexandrian teachings under a single banner. This was possible due to the great similarities between the two traditions.

 

Dianic Wicca

*The Dianic Craft includes two distinct branches:

*1. One branch, founded in Texas by Morgan McFarland and Mark Roberts, gives primacy to the Goddess in its theology, but honors the Horned God as Her Beloved Consort. Covens are mixed, including both women and men. This branch is sometimes called 'Old Dianic', and there are still covens of this tradition, especially in Texas. Other covens, similar in teleology but not directly descended from the McFarland/Roberts line, are sprinkled around the country.

*2. The other branch, sometimes called Feminist Dianic Witchcraft, focus exclusively on the Goddess and consists of women-only covens and groups. These tend to be loosely structured and non-hierarchical, using consensus- decision- making and simple, creative, experimental ritual. They are politically feminist groups, usually very supportive, personal and emotionally intimate. There is a strong lesbian presence in the movement, though most covens are open to women of all orientations. The major network is Re-Formed Congregation of the Goddess, which publishes "Of a Like Mind" newspaper and sponsors conferences on Dianic Craft. 

 

Celtic Wicca (Church of Wicca)

The Church of Wicca was founded by Gavin and Yvonne Frost. They offer correspondence courses in their brand of Wicca, which is sometimes called Celtic Wicca. The Church of Wicca has just recently begun including a Goddess in their deity structure, and has been very patrofocal as Wiccan traditions go. The Church of Wicca terms itself "Baptist Wicca"

*The Frosts call their tradition of Wicca Celtic. To me it seems more of a mixture of high magic and eclectic Wicca, with a smattering of Celtic thrown in. For instance, they use three circles, one within the others, made of salt, sulphur and herbs with runes and symbols between them instead of just one circle. They also insist on a white- handled athame and will not have a black handled one, whereas all the other traditions I have heard or read about use a black handled one. It seems to me the Wicca they practice and teach should not be called Celtic at all; but since a lot of it is made up or put together by them from other traditions they should also give it a made-up name; say Frostism. If you DON'T have to pay for the course, and have some extra time, it would probably be worth reading just for comparison. [*From Circe, who took their correspondence course.]

The Frosts have always been rather more public than most traditions (advertising their course in the Enquirer and similar publications) which has earned them heavy criticism in less public Craft groups.

 

Georgian Wicca

If one word could best describe the Georgean Tradition, it would be 'eclectic. Even though the material provided to students was nominally Alexandrian, there was never any imperative to follow that path blindly. George Patterson (the tradition's founder) always said 'If it works use it, if it doesn't, don't'. The newsletter was always full of contributions from people of many traditions. I've always felt Pat's intent was to provide jumping off points for students and members. So even though I can claim initiation into more than one tradition, I'll always consider myself 'Georgian first: George is greatly missed, may the God-dess watch over him. Bright Blessings, Lord Fafner.

 

Discordianism (Erisian)

*The Discordian or Erisian movement is described as a 'Non- Prophet Irreligious Disorganization and has claimed 'The Erisian revelation is not a complicated put-on disguised as a new religion, but a new religion disguised as a complicated put-on. " It all started with the *'Principia Discordia, or How I Found the Goddess and What I Did to Her When I Found Her'*, a collection of articles and ideas compiled by Greg Hill (Malaclypse the Young-er). The central theme is 'Chaos is every bit as important as Order' as illustrated in the story of The curse of Greyface:

*Humor is central to Discordianism, but Discordianism should not be dismissed as a joke. Profound experiences frequently accompany the practice or Erisinaism. It is a perceptual game, one which demonstrates that the absurd is just as valid as the mundane and chaos is just as valid as order. It frees the practitioner from the order games (that most have forgotten are games) to play games with order or games with chaos, or both. The effects of Discordianism upon an individual can be far reaching and amazingly liberating. [Although a great many immature individuals have played at Discordianism and thereby side stepped any chance of spiritual growth whatsoever

What is Wicca?

I know i should have had posted it a long time ago?..as many things about wicca and rituals have been earlier discussed, but what exactly is wicca was never discussed. So here on for some later posts, Wicca and Witchcraft, Paganism and Neo-paganism, what exactly it signifies and symbolizes will be discussed .

Wicca_by_master_of_distortion

What is Wicca?

Contrary to what those who choose to persecute or lie about us wish to believe, Wicca is a very peaceful, harmonious and balanced way of life which promotes oneness with the divine and all which exists.
Wicca is a deep appreciation and awe in watching the sunrise or sunset, the forest in the light of a glowing moon, a meadow enchanted by the first light of day.   It is the morning dew on the petals of a beautiful flower, the gentle caress of a warm summer breeze upon your skin, or the warmth of the summer sun on your face.   Wicca is the fall of colorful autumn leaves, and the softness of winter snow.   It is light, and shadow and all that lies in between.  It is the song of the birds and other creatures of the wild.   It is being in the presence of Mother Earths nature and being humbled in reverence.   When we are in the temple of the Lord and Lady, we are not prone to the arrogance of human technology as they touch our souls.   To be a Witch is to be a healer, a teacher, a seeker, a giver, and a protector of all things.   If this path is yours, may you walk it with honor, light and integrity.


Wicca is a belief system and way of life based upon the reconstruction of pre-Christian traditions originating in Ireland, Scotland, and Wales.   While much of the information of how our ancestors lived, worshiped and believed has been lost due to the efforts of the medieval church to wipe our existence from history, we try to reconstruct those beliefs to the best of our ability with the information that is available.


Thanks to archaeological discoveries, we now have basis to believe that the origins of our belief system can be traced even further back to the Paleolithic peoples who worshipped a Hunter God and a Fertility Goddess.   With the discovery of these cave paintings, estimated to be around 30,000 years old, depicting a man with the head of a stag, and a pregnant woman standing in a circle with eleven other people, it can reasonably be assumed that Witchcraft is one of the oldest belief systems known in the world toady.   These archetypes are clearly recognized by Wiccan as our view of the Goddess and God aspect of the supreme creative force and predate Christianity by roughly 28,000 years making it a mere toddler in the spectrum of time as we know it.  

Wicca
Witchcraft in ancient history was known as "The Craft of the Wise" because most who followed the path were in tune with the forces of nature, had a knowledge of Herbs and medicines, gave council and were valuable parts of the village and community as Shamanic healers and leaders.   They understood that mankind is not superior to nature, the earth and its creatures but instead we are simply one of the many parts, both seen and unseen that combine to make the whole.   As Chief Seattle said; "We do not own the earth, we are part of it."   These wise people understood that what we take or use, we must return in kind to maintain balance and equilibrium. Clearly, modern man with all his applied learning and technology has forgotten this.   Subsequently, we currently face ecological disaster and eventual extinction because of our hunger for power and a few pieces of gold.


For the past several hundred years, the image of the Witch has been mistakenly associated with evil, heathenism, and unrighteousness.   In my humble opinion, these misconceptions have their origin in a couple of different places.
To begin, the medieval church of the 15th through 18th centuries created these myths to convert the followers of the old nature based religions to the churches way of thinking.   By making the Witch into a diabolical character and turning the old religious deities into devils and demons, the missionaries were able to attach fear to these beliefs which aided in the conversion process.    Secondly, as medical science began to surface, the men who were engaged in these initial studies had a very poor understanding of female physiology, especially in the area of a women's monthly cycles.   The unknowns in this area played very well with the early churches agenda lending credence to the Witch Hunters claims and authority.   The fledgling medical professions also stood to benefit greatly from this because it took the power of the women healers away giving it to the male physicians transferring the respect and power to them.

Unfortunately these misinformed fears and superstitions have carried forward through the centuries and remain to this day.   This is why many who follow these nature oriented beliefs have adopted the name of Wicca over its true name of Witchcraft to escape the persecution, harassment and misinformation associated with the name of Witchcraft and Witch not to mention the bad publicity the press and Hollywood has given us simply to generate a profit.

What Witchcraft is:


Witchcraft is a spiritual system that fosters the free thought and will of the individual, encourages learning and an understanding of the earth and nature thereby affirming the divinity in all living things.   Most importantly however, it teaches responsibility.   We accept responsibility for our actions and deeds as clearly a result of the choices we make.   We do not blame an exterior entity or being for our shortcomings, weaknesses or mistakes.   If we mess up or do something that brings harm to another, we have no one but ourselves to blame and we must face the consequences resulting from those actions.   No ifs, ands or buts and no whining...


We acknowledge the cycles of nature, the lunar phases and the seasons to celebrate our spirituality and to worship the divine.   It is a belief system that allows the Witch to work with, not in supplication to deities with the intent of living in harmony and achieving balance with all things.
The spells that we do involve healing, love, harmony, wisdom and creativity.   The potions that we stir might be a headache remedy, a cold tonic, or an herbal flea bath for our pets.   We strive to gain knowledge of and use the natural remedies placed on this earth by the divine for our benefit instead of using synthetic drugs unless absolutely necessary.


Wiccan believe that the spirit of the One, Goddess and God exist in all things.   In the trees, rain, flowers, the sea, in each other and all of natures creatures.   This means that we must treat "all things" of the Earth as aspects of the divine.   We attempt to honor and respect life in all its many manifestations both seen and unseen.
Wiccan learn from and revere the gift of nature from divine creation by celebrating the cycles of the sun, moon and seasons.   We search within ourselves for the cycles that correspond to those of the natural world and try to live in harmony with the movement of this universal energy.   Our teachers are the trees, rivers, lakes, meadows, mountains and animals as well as others who have walked this path before us.   This belief creates a reverence and respect for the environment, and all life upon the Earth.


We also revere the spirits of the elements of Earth, Air, Fire and Water which combine to manifest all creation.   From these four elements we obtain insight to the rhythms of nature and understand they are also the rhythms of our own lives.
Because Witches have been persecuted for so many centuries, we believe in religious freedom first!   We do not look at our path as the only way to achieve spirituality, but as one path among many to the same end.   We are not a missionary religion out to convert new members to think the same as we do.   We are willing to share our experience and knowledge with those who seek our wisdom and perspective however.   We believe that anyone who is meant for this path will find it through their own search as the Goddess speaks to each of us in her time and way.   Wiccan practice tolerance and acceptance toward all other religions as long as those faiths do not persecute others or violate the tenant of "Harm None."

 

What Witchcraft is not:

  • Witchcraft or Wicca is not a cult.   We do not proclaim ourselves to be spokespersons for the divine or try to get others to follow us as their leaders.
  • We do not worship Satan or consort with Demons.   Satan is a Christian creation and they can keep him.   We do not need a paranoid creation of supreme evil and eternal damnation to scare us into doing the right thing and helping others.   We choose to do the right thing and love our brothers and sisters because it IS the right thing and it feels good to do it.   I suppose it is a maturity thing.
  • We do not sacrifice animals or humans because that would violate our basic tenant of "Harm None."   Anyone who does and claims to be a Wiccan or a Witch is lying.
  • We have no need to steal or control the life force of another to achieve mystical or supernatural powers.   We draw our energy from within, our personal relationship with the divine and nature.
  • We do not use the forces of nature or the universe to hex or cast spells on others.   Again, "Harm None" is the whole of the law.

Witches have a very strict belief in the Law of Three which states that whatever we send out into our world shall return to us three fold either good or bane.   With this in mind, a "True Witch" would hesitate in doing magick to harm or manipulate another because that boomerang we throw will eventually come back to us much larger and harder then when we threw it.


This is not to say that Witches are perfect, we are human too just like everyone else and make mistakes and errors in judgment.   Just as there are parents who love and nurture their children, there are parents who abuse their children.   As there are many who devote their lives to giving and helping mankind, likewise there are those who devote their lives to taking advantage of and using people for their own gain.   Unfortunately the same flaws in human nature applies to witches too.
Most of us continually strive to consider all potential outcomes of our thoughts and actions pausing to seriously consider the consequences before undertaking a ritual, spell or rite that could go astray.   It is when we follow the path with the love of the Goddess in our hearts and adhere to the basic tenant of the Reed that our works are beneficial and we achieve harmony and balance with all things.
The heart of Wicca is not something summed up into a few short words and can often take on different meaning to each since the Lord and Lady touch us in different ways.   To gain a fuller understanding of the Craft, I urge you visit the other pages on this site as well as following the links to a select group of exceptional Wiccan and Witchcraft sites.   Through the wisdom and words set down through the ages, you will find that you are able to understand the basis of our beliefs and how they may apply to you.   Your inner voice will also quickly let you know if the intent of what you are reading is for superficial purposes to benefit self instead of working to benefit the whole.   Remember to read with your heart, for it is when you see life and the world with your heart and spirit that you truly gain an understanding of what Wicca is.

Ref: www.wicca.com (credits to the original author)

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Fighting Fire With Fire: 'Vampire' Bacteria Has Potential as Living Antibiotic

A vampire-like bacteria that leeches onto specific other bacteria – including certain human pathogens – has the potential to serve as a living antibiotic for a range of infectious diseases, a new study indicates.
The bacterium, Micavibrio aeruginosavorus, was discovered to inhabit wastewater nearly 30 years ago, but has not been extensively studied because it is difficult to culture and investigate using traditional microbiology techniques. However,biologists in the University of Virginia's College of Arts & Sciences, Martin Wu and graduate student Zhang Wang, have decoded its genome and are learning "how it makes its living," Wu said.
The bacterium "makes its living" by seeking out prey – certain other bacteria – and then attaching itself to its victim's cell wall and essentially sucking out nutrients. Unlike most other bacteria, which draw nutrients from their surroundings, M. aeruginosavorus can survive and propagate only by drawing its nutrition from specific prey bacteria. This kills the prey – making it a potentially powerful agent for destroying pathogens.


One bacterium it targets is Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which is a chief cause of serious lung infections in cystic fibrosis patients.
"Pathologists may eventually be able to use this bacterium to fight fire with fire, so to speak, as a bacterium that will aggressively hunt for and attack certain other bacteria that are extremely harmful to humans," Wu said.
His study, detailing the DNA sequence of M. aeruginosavorus, is published online in the journal BMC Genomics. It provides new insights to the predatory lifestyle of the bacterium and a better understanding of the evolution of bacterial predation in general.


"We used cutting-edge genomic technology in our lab to decode this bacterium's genome," Wu said. "We are particularly interested in the molecular mechanisms that allow it to hunt for and attack prey. This kind of investigation would have been extremely difficult and expensive to do only a few years ago."
He noted that overuse of traditional antibiotics, which work by either inhibiting bacteria propagation or interfering with cell wall formation, are creating so-called "super bugs" that have developed resistances to treatment strategies. He suggests that new approaches are needed for attacking pathogens without building up their resistance.


Additionally, because M. aeruginosavorus is so selective a feeder, it is harmless to the thousands of beneficial bacteria that dwell in the general environment and in the human body.


"It is possible that a living antibiotic such as M. aeruginosavorus – because it so specifically targets certain pathogens – could potentially reduce our dependence on traditional antibiotics and help mitigate the drug-resistance problem we are now facing," Wu said.


Another benefit of the bacterium is its ability to swim through viscous fluids, such as mucus. P. aeruginosa, the bacterium that colonizes the lungs of cystic fibrosis patients, creates a glue-like biofilm, enhancing its resistance to traditional antibiotics. Wu noted that the living cells of M. aeruginosavorus can swim through mucus and biofilm and attack P. aeruginosa.


M. aeruginosavorus also might have industrial uses, such as reducing bacteria that form biofilms in piping, and for medical devices, such as implants that are susceptible to the formation of biofilms.


Wu said M. aeruginosavorus requires further study for a more thorough understanding of its gene functions. He said genetic engineering would be required to tailor the predatory attributes of the bacterium to specific uses in the treatment of disease."We have a map now to work with, and we will see where it leads," he said.
Wu and Wang's co-author is Daniel E. Kadouri, a researcher at the New Jersey Dental School. Kadouri is interested in M. aeruginosavorus as an agent for fighting oral biofilms, such as plaque.

Ref: www.virginia.edu

Haunted Places: Poveglia Island

 

Poveglia Island - it is a place you can’t visit; it isn’t open to tourists or the public, nobody local wants to take you,  In the rare event that people have been to the island, most have come away wishing they hadn’t tried, except for some paranormal investigators.  It is considered one of the most haunted places on the planet, and its history explains why.

Situated between Venice and the Lido area in northern Italy, Poveglia Island looks like an innocuous place: green, wooded, with a large building to one side. It seems a generally tidy, peaceful place, but it has a past that makes one shudder. 

It started out well enough; in the year 421, people from the surrounding Padua and Este fled to the island to escape barbaric invasions that were occurring in Italy.  These people were the first inhabitants of Poveglia and by the 9th century, the island became fully populated and stayed that way for many years, until Venice came under attack from the Genoan fleet in 1379 and the people were moved off the island, leaving it abandoned.

It remained uninhabited for centuries and it began to promote an ominous feeling in local people. It is said that in the year 1527, the Chief Magistrate of Venice and Genoa offered the island to the Camaldolese monks, but they turned down the offer.  Then, in 1661 the descendants of the original inhabitants of Poveglia were given the chance to rebuild their village on the island, but they also flatly refused.

This however, isn’t the only history of the Island; there is a much more sinister series of events related to the plague, or ‘black death’. Dating right back from Roman times, Poveglia Island was used to contain thousands of plague victims, and then again during the times when the disease spread through Europe.  It was considered an efficient way of keeping the infected people physically separated from the healthy. 

At first it was just the dead bodies that were taken there for burning in huge pits, but as the plague spread, living people infected with the disease were taken, dumped and left to die mixed in with the bodies of the dead. Even today, fishermen have reported catching human bones in their nets - they avoid the island whenever possible.

All seemed quiet until the 1700s when the island was under the control of the public health office and became a useful checkpoint for ships, goods and people visiting Venice until two ships arrived with their crew infected

with the plague. At this point, the large, imposing buildings seen today were built and the island was again used to confine people who were sick. Those who have visited the island say that it is still possible to read the writing scratched onto the walls of the building by people who were confined there. Over 160,000 people have died on Poveglia Island during its history.

The disturbing legacy of Poveglia Island doesn’t stop there; we have more horrific records from much nearer today. In 1922, the island and it’s buildings were used as a mental hospital -  people give accounts that the doctor in charge supposedly tortured and killed many of his patients there, becoming mad himself. Legend has it that he either jumped or was thrown to his death from the bell tower, and according to that same legend, he survived the fall, but was 'strangled by a mist that came up from the ground'.

There are plans that the Italian government may open up Poveglia Island to the public, but it will be interesting how many people will actually visit, and what the opinion of the local people will be. A place with as much evil history and recorded haunting will certainly attract many people, but how many will leave wishing they hadn’t gone in the first place?

Ref: www.helium.com

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Partial Reverse Aging Achieved in Mus Musculus (Mouse)

Harvard scientists at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute say they have for the first time partially reversed age-related degeneration in mice, resulting in new growth of the brain and testes, improved fertility, and the return of a lost cognitive function.

In a report posted online by the journal Nature in advance of print publication, researchers led by Ronald A. DePinho, a Harvard Medical School (HMS) professor of genetics, said they achieved the milestone in aging science by engineering mice with a controllable telomerase gene. The telomerase enzyme maintains the protective caps called telomeres that shield the ends of chromosomes.

As humans age, low levels of telomerase are associated with progressive erosion of telomeres, which may then contribute to tissue degeneration and functional decline in the elderly. By creating mice with a telomerase switch, the researchers were able to generate prematurely aged mice. The switch allowed the scientists to find out whether reactivating telomerase in the animals would restore telomeres and mitigate the signs and symptoms of aging. The work showed a dramatic reversal of many aspects of aging, including reversal of brain disease and infertility.

While human applications remain in the future, the strategy might one day be used to treat conditions such as rare genetic premature aging syndromes in which shortened telomeres play an important role, said DePinho, senior author of the report and the director of Dana-Farber’s Belfer Institute for Applied Cancer Science. “Whether this would impact on normal aging is a more difficult question,” he added. “But it is notable that telomere loss is associated with age-associated disorders and thus restoration of telomeres could alleviate such decline.” The first author is Mariela Jaskelioff, a research fellow in medicine in DePinho’s laboratory.

Importantly, the animals showed no signs of developing cancer. This remains a concern because cancer cells turn on telomerase to make themselves virtually immortal. DePinho said the risk can be minimized by switching on telomerase only for a matter of days or weeks — which may be brief enough to avoid fueling hidden cancers or cause new ones to develop. Still, he observed, it is an important issue for further study.

In addition, DePinho said these results may provide new avenues for regenerative medicine, because they suggest that quiescent adult stem cells in severely aged tissues remain viable and can be reactivated to repair tissue damage.

“If you can remove the underlying damage and stresses that drive the aging process and cause stem cells to go into growth arrest, you may be able to recruit them back into a regenerative response to rejuvenate tissues and maintain health in the aged,” he said. Those stresses include the shortening of telomeres over time that causes cells and tissues to fail.

Loss of telomeres sends a cascade of signals that cause cells to stop dividing or self-destruct, stem cells to go into retirement, organs to atrophy, and brain cells to die. Generally, the shortening of telomeres in normal tissues shows a steady decline, except in the case of cancer, where they are maintained.

The experiments used mice that had been engineered to develop severe DNAand tissue damage as a result of abnormal, premature aging. These animals had short, dysfunctional telomeres and suffered a variety of age-related afflictions that progressed in successive generations of mice. Among the conditions were testes reduced in size and depleted of sperm, atrophied spleens, damage to the intestines, and shrinkage of the brain along with an inability to grow new brain cells.

“We wanted to know: If you could flip the telomerase switch on and restore telomeres in animals with entrenched age-related disease, what would happen?” explained DePinho. “Would it slow down aging, stabilize it, or even reverse it?”

Rather than supply the rodents with supplemental telomerase, the scientists devised a way to switch on the animals’ own dormant telomerase gene, known as TERT. They engineered the endogenous TERT gene to encode a fusion protein of TERT and the estrogen receptor. This fusion protein would only become activated with a special form of estrogen. With this setup, scientists could give the mice an estrogen-like drug at any time to stimulate the TERT-estrogen receptor fusion protein and make it active to maintain telomeres.

Against this backdrop, the researchers administered the estrogen drug to some of the mice via a time-release pellet inserted under the skin. Other animals, the controls, were given a pellet containing no active drug.

After four weeks, the scientists observed remarkable signs of rejuvenation in the treated mice. Overall, the mice exhibited increased levels of telomerase and lengthened telomeres, biological changes indicative of cells returning to a growth state with reversal of tissue degeneration, and increase in size of the spleen, testes, and brain. “It was akin to a Ponce de León effect,” noted DePinho, referring to the Spanish explorer who sought the mythical Fountain of Youth.

“When we flipped the telomerase switch on and looked a month later, the brains had largely returned to normal,” said DePinho. More newborn nerve cells were observed, and the fatty myelin sheaths around nerve cells — which had become thinned in the aged animals — increased in diameter. In addition, the increase in telomerase revitalized slumbering brain stem cells so they could produce new neurons.

To show that all this new activity actually caused functional improvements, the scientists tested the mice’s ability to avoid a certain area where they detected unpleasant odors that they associated with danger, such as scents of predators or rotten food. They had lost that survival skill as their olfactory nerve cells atrophied, but after the telomerase boost, those nerves regenerated and the mice regained their crucial sense of smell.

“One of the most amazing changes was in the animals’ testes, which were essentially barren as aging caused the death and elimination of sperm cells,” recounted DePinho. “When we restored telomerase, the testes produced new sperm cells, and the animals’ fecundity was improved — their mates gave birth to larger litters.”

The telomerase boost also lengthened the rodents’ life spans compared to their untreated counterparts — but they did not live longer than normal mice, said the researchers.

The authors concluded, “This unprecedented reversal of age-related decline in the central nervous system and other organs vital to adult mammalian health justifies exploration of telomere rejuvenation strategies for age-associated diseases.”

Other authors include members of the DePinho research group and Eleftheria Maratos-Flier, an HMS professor of medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

The research was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health and the Belfer Foundation.

Ref: harvard.edu

Urban Myth: Friday the 13th

 

The fear of Friday the 13th is called friggatriskaidekaphobia, frigga, meaning "Friday" and triskaidekaphobia, or paraskevidekatriaphobia, a word derived from the concatenation of the Greek words Paraskeví (meaning "Friday"), and dekatreís (meaning "thirteen"), attached to phobía (meaning "fear"). The word was derived in 1911 and first appeared in a mainstream source in 1953.
One theory states that it is a modern amalgamation of two older superstitions: that thirteen is an unlucky number and that Friday is an unlucky day.

* In numerology, the number twelve is considered the number of completeness, as reflected in the twelve months of the year, twelve signs of the zodiac, twelve hours of the clock, twelve tribes of Israel, twelve Apostles of Jesus, twelve gods of Olympus, etc., whereas the number thirteen was considered irregular, transgressing this completeness. There is also a superstition, thought by some to derive from the Last Supper or a Norse myth, that having thirteen people seated at a table will result in the death of one of the diners.
* Friday has been considered an unlucky day at least since the 14th century's The Canterbury Tales, and many other professions have regarded Friday as an unlucky day to undertake journeys or begin new projects. Black Friday has been associated with stock market crashes and other disasters since the 1800s. It has also been suggested that Friday has been considered an unlucky day because, according to Christian scripture and tradition, Jesus was crucified on a Friday.
One theory suggested by OJ Ivey states that Jesus dies on a Friday and there were 13 people at the last supper.


On the other hand, another theory by author Charles Panati, one of the leading authorities on the subject of "Origins" maintains that the superstition can be traced back to ancient myth:
The actual origin of the superstition, though, appears also to be a tale in Norse mythology. Friday is named for Frigga, the free-spirited goddess of love and fertility. When Norse and Germanic tribes converted to Christianity, Frigga was banished in shame to a mountaintop and labeled a witch. It was believed that every Friday, the spiteful goddess convened a meeting with eleven other witches, plus the devil — a gathering of thirteen — and plotted ill turns of fate for the coming week. For many centuries in Scandinavia, Friday was known as "Witches' Sabbath."
Another theory about the origin of the superstition traces the event to the arrest of the legendary Knights Templar. According to one expert:
The Knights Templar were a monastic military order founded in Jerusalem in 1118 C.E., whose mission was to protect Christian pilgrims during the Crusades. Over the next two centuries, the Knights Templar became extraordinarily powerful and wealthy. Threatened by that power and eager to acquire their wealth, King Philip secretly ordered the mass arrest of all the Knights Templar in France on Friday, October 13, 1307 - Friday the 13th.


The connection between the superstition and the Knights Templar was popularized in the 2003 novel The Da Vinci Code. However, some experts think that it is relatively recent and is a modern-day invention. For example, the superstition is rarely found before the 20th century, when it became extremely common. One author, noting that references are all but nonexistent before 1907 but frequently seen thereafter, has argued that its popularity derives from the publication that year of Thomas W. Lawson's popular novel Friday, the Thirteenth, in which an unscrupulous broker takes advantage of the superstition to create a Wall Street panic on a Friday the 13th.

A further theory goes back to a combination of Paganism, Christianity, and the Battle of Hastings. For many, the number 13 was considered a lucky number (such as 13 lunar cycles each year), but with the efforts of Christianity attempting to degrade all things Pagan, they promoted 13 as an unlucky number, with Friday thus also being considered a bad day of the week. However, on Friday the 13th of October 1066, the decision was made by King Harold II to go to battle on Saturday the 14th of October, rather than allow his troops a day of rest (despite his army having made a long and arduous march from a battle near York just 3 weeks earlier).
This decision in going to battle before the English troops were rested (the English lost and King Harold was killed) further established Friday the 13th as an unlucky day.
In Spanish-speaking countries, instead of Friday, Tuesday the 13th is considered a day of bad luck. For example, the Fall of Constantinople, when the city fell to the Ottomans, a fact which marked the end of the Byzantine Empire, happened Tuesday, May 29th, 1453, that is why the Greeks consider Tuesday to be an unlucky day.

 

Origins of Friday the 13th


Where's all this superstition come from? Nobody knows for sure. But it may date back to Biblical times (the 13th guest at the Last Supper betrayed Jesus). By the Middle Ages, both Friday and 13 were considered bearers of bad fortune.
Meanwhile the belief that numbers are connected to life and physical things - called numerology - has a long history.
"You can trace it all the way from the followers of Pythagoras, whose maxim to describe the universe was 'all is number,'" says Mario Livio, an astrophysicist and author of "The Equation That Couldn't Be Solved" (Simon & Schuster, 2005). Thinkers who studied under the famous Greek mathematician combined numbers in different ways to explain everything around them, Livio said.
In modern times, numerology has become a type of para-science, much like the meaningless predictions of astrology, scientists say.
"People are subconsciously drawn towards specific numbers because they know that they need the experiences, attributes or lessons, associated with them, that are contained within their potential," says professional numerologist Sonia Ducie. "Numerology can 'make sense' of an individual's life (health, career, relationships, situations and issues) by recognizing which number cycle they are in, and by giving them clarity."
Mathematicians dismiss numerology as having no scientific merit, however.
"I don't endorse this at all," Livio said, when asked to comment on the popularity of commercial numerology for a story prior to the date 06/06/06. Seemingly coincidental connections between numbers will always appear if you look hard enough, he said.

 

Friday the 13th, the most widespread superstition


The sixth day of the week and the number 13 both have foreboding reputations said to date from ancient times, and their inevitable conjunction from one to three times a year (there happen to be three such occurrences in 2009, two of them right in a row) portends more misfortune than some credulous minds can bear. According to experts it's the most widespread superstition in the United States today. Some people won't go to work on Friday the 13th; some won't eat in restaurants; many wouldn't think of setting a wedding on the date.
How many Americans at the turn of the new millennium actually suffer from this condition? According to Dr. Donald Dossey, a psychotherapist specializing in the treatment of phobias (and coiner of the term paraskevidekatriaphobia, also spelled paraskavedekatriaphobia), the figure may be as high as 21 million. If he's right, eight percent of Americans are still in the grips of a very old superstition.
Exactly how old is difficult to say, because determining the origins of superstitions is an inexact science, at best. In fact, it's mostly guesswork.

LEGEND HAS IT:

If 13 people sit down to dinner together, one will die within the year. The Turks so disliked the number 13 that it was practically expunged from their vocabulary (Brewer, 1894). Many cities do not have a 13th Street or a 13th Avenue. Many buildings don't have a 13th floor. If you have 13 letters in your name, you will have the devil's luck (Jack the Ripper, Charles Manson, Jeffrey Dahmer, Theodore Bundy and Albert De Salvo all have 13 letters in their names). There are 13 witches in a coven.
Although no one can say for sure when and why human beings first associated the number 13 with misfortune, the superstition is assumed to be quite old, and there exist any number of theories — most of which deserve to be treated with a healthy skepticism, please note — purporting to trace its origins to antiquity and beyond.
It has been proposed, for example, that fears surrounding the number 13 are as ancient as the act of counting. Primitive man had only his 10 fingers and two feet to represent units, this explanation goes, so he could count no higher than 12. What lay beyond that — 13 — was an impenetrable mystery to our prehistoric forebears, hence an object of superstition.
Which has an edifying ring to it, but one is left wondering: did primitive man not have toes?

 

Life and death


Despite whatever terrors the numerical unknown held for their hunter-gatherer ancestors, ancient civilizations weren't unanimous in their dread of 13. The Chinese regarded the number as lucky, some commentators note, as did the Egyptians in the time of the pharaohs.
To the ancient Egyptians, these sources tell us, life was a quest for spiritual ascension which unfolded in stages — twelve in this life and a thirteenth beyond, thought to be the eternal afterlife. The number 13 therefore symbolized death, not in terms of dust and decay but as a glorious and desirable transformation. Though Egyptian civilization perished, the symbolism conferred on the number 13 by its priesthood survived, we may speculate, only to be corrupted by subsequent cultures who came to associate 13 with a fear of death instead of a reverence for the afterlife.

 

Anathema


Still other sources speculate that the number 13 may have been purposely vilified by the founders of patriarchal religions in the early days of western civilization because it represented femininity. Thirteen had been revered in prehistoric goddess-worshiping cultures, we are told, because it corresponded to the number of lunar (menstrual) cycles in a year (13 x 28 = 364 days). The "Earth Mother of Laussel," for example — a 27,000-year-old carving found near the Lascaux caves in France often cited as an icon of matriarchal spirituality — depicts a female figure holding a cresent-shaped horn bearing 13 notches. As the solar calendar triumphed over the lunar with the rise of male-dominated civilization, it is surmised, so did the "perfect" number 12 over the "imperfect" number 13, thereafter considered anathema. Could it be Friday the 13th
On the other hand, one of the earliest concrete taboos associated with the number 13 — a taboo still observed by some superstitious folks today, apparently — is said to have originated in the East with the Hindus, who believed, for reasons I haven't been able to ascertain, that it is always unlucky for 13 people to gather in one place — say, at dinner. Interestingly enough, precisely the same superstition has been attributed to the ancient Vikings (though I have also been told, for what it's worth, that this and the accompanying mythographical explanation are apocryphal). The story has been laid down as follows:
And Loki makes thirteen. . .
Twelve gods were invited to a banquet at Valhalla. Loki, the Evil One, god of mischief, had been left off the guest list but crashed the party, bringing the total number of attendees to 13. True to character, Loki raised hell by inciting Hod, the blind god of winter, to attack Balder the Good, who was a favorite of the gods. Hod took a spear of mistletoe offered by Loki and obediently hurled it at Balder, killing him instantly. All Valhalla grieved. And although one might take the moral of this story to be "Beware of uninvited guests bearing mistletoe," the Norse themselves apparently concluded that 13 people at a dinner party is just plain bad luck.
As if to prove the point, the Bible tells us there were exactly 13 present at the Last Supper. One of the dinner guests — er, disciples — betrayed Jesus Christ, setting the stage for the Crucifixion.

Referred: urbanmysteries.com and wikipedia

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Rotenburg Cannibal (The Famous Cannibalism case)

Armin Meiwes  born 1 December 1961,is a German man who achieved international notoriety for killing and eating a voluntary victim whom he had found via the Internet. After Meiwes and the victim jointly attempted to eat the victim's severed penis, Meiwes killed his victim and proceeded to eat a large amount of his flesh.Because of his acts, Meiwes is also known as the Rotenburg Cannibal or Der Metzgermeister(The Master Butcher).File:Grimm Love.jpg

Killing and cannibalism

Looking for a willing victim, Meiwes posted an advertisement at a website, The Cannibal Cafe, whose disclaimer mentions the distinction between reality and fantasy. Meiwes's post stated that he was "looking for a well-built 18 to 30-year-old to be slaughtered and then consumed".Bernd Jürgen Brandes then answered the advertisement. Many other people responded to the advertisement, but backed out; Meiwes did not attempt to force them to do anything against their will.
As is known from a videotape the two made when they met on 9 March 2001 in Meiwes's home in the small village of Rotenburg, Meiwes amputated Brandes' penis and the two men attempted to eat the penis together before Brandes was killed. Brandes had insisted that Meiwes attempt to bite his penis off. This did not work and ultimately, Meiwes used a knife to remove Brandes' penis. Brandes apparently tried to eat some of his own penis raw, but could not because it was too tough and, as he put it, "chewy". Meiwes then fried the penis in a pan with salt, pepper, wine and garlic; he then fried it with some of Brandes' fat but by then it was too burned to be consumed. He then chopped it up into chunks and fed it to his dog.
According to journalists who saw the video (which has not been made public), Brandes may already have been too weakened from blood loss to actually eat any of his penis. Meiwes read a book for three hours, while Brandes lay bleeding in the bath. Meiwes apparently gave him large quantities of alcohol and pain killers, twenty sleeping pills and a bottle of schnapps, kissed him and finally killed him in a room that he had built in his house for this purpose, the Slaughter Room. After stabbing Brandes to death in the throat, he hung the body on a meat hook and tore chunks of flesh from it; he even tried to grind the bones to use as flour. The whole scene was recorded on the two-hour video tape. Meiwes ate the body over the next 10 months, storing body parts in his freezer under pizza boxes and consuming up to 20 kilograms (44 lb) of the flesh. According to prosecutors, Meiwes committed the act for sexual enjoyment.


A Short Documentary on the Rotenburg Cannibalism case

 

Arrest, trial, and conviction of manslaughter

Meiwes was arrested in December 2002, after a college student in Innsbruck phoned the police after seeing new advertisements for victims and details about the killing on the Internet. Investigators searched his home and found body parts and the videotaped killing.
On 30 January 2004, Meiwes was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to eight years in prison. The case attracted considerable media attention and led to a debate over whether Meiwes could be convicted at all, given that Bernd Jürgen Brandes had voluntarily and knowingly participated in the act.
Meiwes has admitted what he did, and expressed regret for his actions. He added he wanted to write a book of his life story with the aim of deterring anyone who wants to follow his steps. Websites dedicated to Meiwes have appeared, with people advertising for willing victims. "They should go for treatment, so it doesn't escalate like it did with me", said Meiwes. He believes there are over 100 cannibals in Germany.
 

Retrial and murder conviction

In April 2005, a German court ordered a retrial after prosecutors appealed his sentence. They believed he should have been convicted of murder. Among the questions courts answered is whether Brandes agreed to his killing, and whether he was legally capable of doing so at the moment, taking into account his apparent mental problems as well as his significant intake of alcohol. Other aspects of the retrial determined whether Meiwes killed to satiate his own desires (in particular sexual desires), and not because he was asked to, which Meiwes has repeatedly rejected during testimony. At his retrial a psychologist stated that Meiwes could reoffend and still "had fantasies about devouring the flesh of young people." On 10 May 2006, a court in Frankfurt convicted Meiwes of murder and sentenced him to life imprisonment.
 

Consultant in criminal cases

According to a Bild report from October 2007, Meiwes was helpful in the analysis of two suspected cannibal murders from 1998 and 2000, in which two young boys were found mutilated.
 

Modern Cultural Impact:

  • The film Three and Out contains a reference to the incident in which a German persistently calls the protagonist asking if he would eat his penis. The protagonist, Paul, was previously looking for a man willing to jump in front of his train as he believed if three people did so in a month he would get 10 years of wages.
  • The song "Mein Teil" by German band Rammstein was inspired by the case. Teil translates literally to "part" or "member," but is German slang for penis (much as "member" is in English). The chorus of "Mein Teil" includes the line "Denn du bist, was du isst und ihr wisst, was es ist", which translates to "Because you are what you eat and you (plural) know what it is" with "Du bist was du isst" being the famous catchphrase for the Swedish brand of crisp bread Wasa. The statement was originally made by Ludwig Feuerbach, a German philosopher, expressing that everything a human consumes influences his mind and body.
  • In the 2005 song Eaten by Swedish death metal band Bloodbath,[10] the lyrics are from the point of view of a man who fantasizes about being cannibalized.
  • Other songs inspired by Meiwes's story include "The Wüstenfeld Man Eater" by American death/thrash metal band Macabre, "Let me Taste your Flesh" by Spanish death metal band Avulsed, as well as "Cannibal Anthem" by German electro-industrial project :wumpscut:, and "Menschenfresser [Man-eater]" by electro-industrial act Suicide Commando.
  • Rock artist Marilyn Manson has identified Meiwes as inspirational in the titling of his album Eat Me, Drink Me. Manson explained in an article what this story meant to him: "Although I can't relate to the relationship those two had, I found the story very compelling in a romantic way. I think a lot of people wouldn’t look at it as romantic, but it was to them in some sick way, and it is to me in some sick way, too".
  • Feature film Butterfly: A Grimm Love Story (aka Rohtenburg, which might be a pun on the name of the town Rothenburg near Armin Meiwes's house and the German word roh meaning "raw, uncooked") was scheduled for German release in March 2006. However, it was banned in that country after Meiwes complained that his personality rights had been violated. The ban has since been lifted by Germany's highest civil court on appeal and has been released in German cinemas. The German film, which is fictionalized, stars Keri Russell and, in the role inspired by Meiwes, Thomas Kretschmann. The film won multiple awards at the 2006 Festival de Cine de Sitges, including Best Director, Best Actor for the two male leads, and Best Cinematography.
  • Other films based on the case include Rosa von Praunheim's Dein Herz in Meinem Hirn (Your Heart in My Brain); Marian Dora's Cannibal; and Ulli Lommel's Diary of a Cannibal.
Referred: wiki, discovery











10 Unsolved Scientific Mysteries

 

10. Placebo Effect

Pc 07-04-03 Placebo

The placebo effect is when a person takes something they believe is medicine for an ailment they are suffering (which is not really a medicine), and they get better. A placebo is an inert substance, and when taken (with the advice from others that it will cure them) makes the person get better, simply because they were expecting or believed that it would work. Something similar, called the nocebo effect, is when a person takes fake drugs and thinks they are experiencing problems that would have been caused by the real drugs. They have been known to reduce pain as well. Why they occur is mysterious and they are only one of the many complicated things related to the body-brain connection. In fact, our own bodies hold many unsolved mysteries.

9. Panspermia

Panspermia

How did life on earth appear? Science suggests that life started when the planet was favourable for habitation. Yet did microscopic organisms just pop out of nowhere? One hypothesis is panspermia, which suggests that ‘seeds of life’ exist everywhere around the universe, and that life on earth started when these ‘seeds’ came here, probably by a meteor. It also suggests that these seeds are taken to other habitable places in the universe. Something similar to this is exo-genesis. It suggests that life was brought to earth those billions of years ago, however it does not say that life is also taken to other habitable places. Some people believe aliens brought life to our planet, as suggested by the theories of Erich Von Daniken. Although some are sceptical as to how life could exist in space and get carried to other planets, there is substantial evidence that certain life forms, like spores and certain types of bacteria can actually exist in space, perhaps in a dormant state.

8. Mass extinctions

Theend

From the death of the dinosaurs, to the disappearance of the creatures in the Permian Era, mass extinctions are occurring even now. Sometimes, the cause is clear. We are destroying the biosphere and the atmosphere, and scientists predict that in the next 100 years, 50% of all living species will become extinct. But sometimes, the real reason is unclear. It may have been due to competition from other species, dramatic climate changes, or the impacts from an asteroid/meteor (the last one being quite a popular one). Yet some questions remain unanswered. Why was it that some species died out, and others survived, some to this day (famous example: the coelacanth). During the extinction of the dinosaurs, crocodiles and turtles were around, but they survived, even to this day, while the dinosaurs, the pterosaurs, the marine reptiles and others died out. While some people believe that those species were unable to cope with the (possibly) new surroundings, others are not convinced. To this day, they are a mystery, and without a time machine, we may never know. Other popular theories include:- flood basalt events, smaller asteroid showers, global warming/cooling, sea level drops.

7. Zombies in Haiti

Echtezombie

Haitan vodou, part of their religious practices, has long been considered to be evil. And the base of this suspicion is that the vodou is used to create zombies. Not zombies as in Hollywood zombies. Not animated brain sucking zombies. Zombies like, sub-conscious humans who do everything they are told. Wade Davis, a Canadian ethno-biologist, uncovered a lot of info on this. Apparently, it originated in Africa, and two drugs (or poisons) are inserted into the victim’s bloodstream. One creates a deathlike trance, and one makes the victim seem like they have no brain of their own, thus rendering them able to do whatever they are told. 3 important facts Davis found was:- zombification is not random, it is not common, and it is used as a kind of severe punishment, most likely to those that have broken the sacred vodou laws.

6. Intuition

0152Intuition01

Ever learned something without really understanding how you know it? That’s intuition. Sometimes called a sixth sense or gut feelings, intuition is the ability to acquire knowledge without a clear source or without reasoning it. Some people claim that they get a feeling that someone is watching them, and they look around and find that somebody is, or was, watching them. Or a police officer may look at some suspects for a crime and somehow know which one is guilty, and later discover they were right. Though some people say that these things are all coincidences, others believe that the human brain has a special ability to get knowledge around them without conscious realization. It is another mystery of the human mind.

5. 2012

Dec2012Jpg.Sized

What makes this year so special? The fact that the Olympics are taking place in London? No. The ancient Maya civilization, from Central America, had a special calendar that was mind-blowingly accurate. And it predicted that the end of the human life cycle was on December 21st, 2012, the winter solstice. The Mayans were also good at math and astrology(they accurately predicted an eclipse that occurred hundred of years later). So people are guessing that they were right about the end of the world thing, too. Something else that has gotten scientists curious is that there are some major astronomical things happening in 2012. Apart from the occasional eclipse and comet, the entire solar system is supposed to pass through the center of our galaxy, something that happens only once every 26,000 years. And, there’s a risk of our planet’s poles switching. Sounds crazy, but scientists say this has already happened. Also, the Indian calendar, the Kali Yuga, ends at about the same time. Coincidence?

4. Life on exoplanets

Exoplanet

Exoplanets, short for extra-solar planets, are planets beyond the solar system. There are 277 recorded exoplanets to date. However, there is no confirmation that there is life on any of them, or in the universe, for that matter. However, it is still a mystery. This is different from UFOs as UFO are unidentified flying objects, meaning something unidentified that has been seen on earth. Some likely candidates for supporting life are Gliese 581 d and HD 189733 b, the latter supposedly containing water vapour and organic matter. There are also questions as to whether there are moons orbiting these planets. Some people believe that there may even be life in our solar system that we don’t know of. Some moons, like Neptune’s Triton or Saturn’s Europa, may possible have, or had, life, and there is substantial evidence that water once flowed through Mars. Still, no one knows.

3. Nazca Lines

Image-10

Etched into the earth on the Nazca Plains in Peru are giant symbols drawn perfectly straight. Some are hundreds of metres long. They look as if they were drawn by some giant hand two thousand years ago. And the strange thing is, they can only be seen from the air. So how did the ancient Nazcans draw them? Researchers say they could have created hot air balloon or kites to fly and view their work. Indeed, an experiment was carried out and it proved that the Nazcans could have made a working balloon. The symbols themselves are of animals and plants. Yet some are long strips of land without any direct meaning. A writer named Erich Von Daniken believed that these were landing strips for alien spacecraft, and that aliens could have drawn them. They may also be for contacting these aliens. Maria Reiche, an astronomer, says that these lines may be used as a calendar, or to keep track of the stars and planets. There is a monkey drawing that has a coiled tail that looks similar to the orbital lines of our solar system. There are even more obscure theories that suggest that there were giant people 2,000 years ago. Yet, they are still a mystery.

2. Megalithic structures

Gw Mg2Av

A megalithic structure is some thing big made of rock. It could be a statue, or just some rocks strewn around in a pattern. The truly mysterious thing about the ancients is, how were they able to create such enormous things? They did not have the technology needed to efficiently make them. Stonehenge is a good example. A bigger one is the Great Pyramid in Giza, or the pyramids themselves. Sometimes, even their purpose is unclear (Stonehenge), while other times, the structures in question are mysterious and seemingly supernatural (the pyramids). A megalith (I know, sounds like something from Di-Gata Defenders), a giant rock, is used most of the time, especially in the case of Stonehenge and the Carnac stones. Still, there are a few megalithic structures that are not mysterious (like Great Zimbabwe), but mostly it seems impossible that the ancients made these things themselves. Now, many would like to think aliens helped them. Yet even scientists say queerer things. They suggest that there may have been a lost ancient civilization that was extremely advanced, and they may have given later civilizations the knowledge to build such things. Yet there is no substantial evidence of either. Other examples: Easter Island Heads, Pyramid of the Sun (in Mesoamerica), other pyramids in central and south America, Colossus of Rhodes.

1. Creation of the Universe

 

Creation-Small

The universe is vast and unknown. It holds many mysteries. And possibly the biggest mystery is how the universe was created. Scientists have suggested that there was a massive explosion billions of years ago called The Big Bang. That theory is now generally accepted, and scientists are looking for trails of energy left behind from the colossal explosion that created a trillion stars. Yet there is no absolute proof. But the creation of the universe is something too big to happen so simply. Religious folks will say God/Allah/Vishnu created the universe. But scientists will say that there was a Big Bang, and that there is energy from the bang moving through the universe, and they are trying to locate the epicentre. So, the debate continues. Religion vs. Science is probably the biggest conflict in the world. But what is religion? There are so many different types. And the difference between the Christian religion and Greek mythology? No one believes in Greek mythology anymore. But what is science? And math? Things created by man. So before saying that man created God and science proves it, people should realize man created science as well. And maybe, the universe is just something made up in our minds.