Minggu, 08 Maret 2009

Facebook Knicker Protest In India

A group of young Indian women is bombarding religious zealots with pink knickers in a Valentine's Day protest.

They now have more than 18,000 supporters signed up to oppose the men who are intent on curbing female freedom on the day for lovers.

Activist Benson Isaac told Sky News Online: "It was started last week by a friend, Nisha Susan, on Facebook but we never thought it would get this big with thousands sending their underwear."

Known as The Consortium of Pub-going, Loose and Forward Women, the group unleashed their frilly fury at male members of Sri Ram Sena - Lord Ram's Army.

"SRS is a fringe element of the Hindi right wing that is very violent and they condemn any Western culture, restricting freedom for women, going to pubs or even unmarried couples enjoying St Valentine's," Mr Isaac said.

Last month several young women were filmed being assaulted by SRS men after visiting a lounge bar in Mangalore.

The Minister for Women, Renuka Chowdhury, denounced the attack as a "Talibanisation" of India, where radicals also oppose cricket cheerleaders and kissing in Bollywood films.

"It is basically an attitude towards women, using the whole thing of Indian culture to restrict movement," said Mr Isaac.

In response the group is urging supporters to visit pubs on Valentine's Day and post pink "chaddi" - Hindi slang for underwear - to the zealots.

"Thousands of young people are sending them chaddi from around the country and groups are even sending them in big packs of 50 to 100 at a time," said Mr Isaac.

He added: "We haven't got a direct response back from SRS yet but we have had very nasty phone calls - this is our protest against the girls who were attacked."

Computer Worm Goes Out Of Control

A computer virus attacking Microsoft Windows has infected almost nine million machines and is spreading faster than ever before.

Experts say the worm has "skyrocketed" in recent days.

It is sweeping through thousands of offices in the UK and has affected computers at the Ministry of Defence.

The virus - known variously as Conficker, Kido or Downadup - burrows deep into the operating system and tricks the machine into running the infected program.

Once the worm is running on the computer it automatically starts to download more malicious programs from hackers' websites, with devastating effects.

The majority of computers infected by the worm, which was first identified in October, are in Russia, China, Brazil and India. But the virus is now taking hold in the UK.

The worm has password cracking capabilities, often successful because company passwords sometimes match a predefined password list that it carries.

Eddy Willems, a security analyst with anti-virus firm Kaspersky Labs, said that a new strain of the worm was now causing additional problems.

Computer users are advised to ensure their anti-virus software, operating system and firewall is up to date, and that they have installed a Microsoft patch designed to combat the problem.

Experts have also warned the virus could spread by copying itself to USB memory sticks shared between computers, and urged users to use caution.

Track Your Mates With Google Tool

The latest innovation by Google could let users track the whereabouts of friends, children or even straying spouses.

The Latitude service has been added to Google Maps on some types of mobile phones and BlackBerrys.

Users appear as a small dot on a map, allowing friends to instantly find out where they are.

"Now you can do things like see if your spouse is stuck in traffic on the way home from work, notice that a buddy is in town for the weekend, or take comfort in knowing that a loved one's flight landed safely, despite bad weather," Google said in a blog post.

Handsets with GPS are extremely accurate, showing where the user is to within a couple of metres.

Without GPS, it could be metres - or even kilometres - wrong, depending on the nearest mobile phone mast.

Dismissing fears of Big Brother-style surveillance, Google said each individual chooses to be tracked by the system - and controls who can see it.

They can even lie by manually changing the location.

"For instance, let's say you are in Rome. Instead of having your approximate location detected and shared automatically, you can manually set your location for elsewhere - perhaps a visit to Niagara Falls," Google's blog added.

The search company insist they will not save information on where users have been.

"We store only the most recent automatic update or location you manually enter," a spokeswoman said.

The Google Maps add-on has been launched just weeks after Google axed its Dodgeball service, which used text alerts.

Latitude is available in 27 countries on Android, BlackBerry, Windows Mobile and Symbian 60, as well as PCs.

Similar geosocial networking services are already provided by smaller companies, such as Loopt and BrightKite.

RAIN FALLS from a perfectly cloudless sky; or it falls in a faucet-like steady stream or in an impossibly localized fashion. Water drips from a ceiling above which are no pipes; sometimes the ceiling is even dry. The causes for these water phenomena are inexplicable, yet they have occurred on numerous occasions throughout history – and continue to take place.

April, 1842 – It was documented that water poured from the sky in a steady stream over a particular small point in Noirtonfontaine, France. It continued for more than two days without any logical meteorological explanation.

October, 1886 – Although there were no clouds in the sky to account for the phenomenon, a steady rain soaked a piece of land in Chesterfield County, South Carolina. It could have been dismissed at a freak rainfall if it had not lasted for an astonishing 14 days!

October 1886 – Over a three-week period, the Charlotte Chronicle (North Carolina) reported, several eyewitnesses saw rain fall onto a certain spot between two red oak trees every afternoon at 3 p.m. It lasted for one half hour, then stopped. Stranger still, the sky was always sunny.

Fall, 1886 – How is it possible for rain to fall on an area measuring just 10 square feet? It happened in Aiken, South Carolina.

November, 1886 – An area not much bigger – just 25 feet wide – was the focus of a steady flow of water from the sky in Dawson, Georgia.

November, 1892 – A peachtree was sole beneficiary of a bizarre rain that came down in Brownsville, Pennsylvania. Witnesses said the rain seemed to come out of thin air just several feet above the tree and fall in an area about 14 feet surrounding the thirsty tree.

Water poltergeists

Water dropping from seemingly nowhere outside is one thing, but when it occurs indoors without any logical cause, that’s quite another thing. Paranormal researchers have, in many cases, found this water manifestation to an element of poltergeist activity that is occurring in the house. Usually there are other symptoms as well: banging on the walls, doors opening and closing of their own accord, lights going off and on, odd odors and more. It is thought that this poltergeist phenomena is a kind of psychic activity generated by a member of the household.

August 1995 – During a summer drought in Lancashire, England, the Gardner family was plagued by water dripping from their ceilings and walls. This has been going on for 10 months before a paranormal investigator was brought in. The attic space above the wet ceiling was found to be “bone dry.”

November, 1972 – An odd case centered around a nine-year-old boy named Eugenio Rossi in Nuoro, Sardinia. Suffering from a liver ailment, the boy was hospitalized. Shortly thereafter, water inexplicably began to seep up through the floor of his hospital room. Changing rooms didn’t help. Wherever the hospital staff moved him – a total of five times – the puddles would appear.

1963 – The Martin family of Methuen, Massachusetts was forced to move from their home because of their water poltergeist. In this case, apart from the water dripping from walls and ceilings, it was on occasion described as literally “spurting” from various points throughout the house. Unfortunately, moving didn’t help. The phenomenon continued in the Martin’s new home.

August 1919 – A rectory in Norfolk, England had more than water to contend with. When the residents noticed oily patches on the ceiling, investigators were brought in the find the cause. To their astonishment, they began to collect the drippings at the rate of a quart every 10 minutes. Some of it was plain water, but the rest appeared to be kerosene, gasoline, alcohol and sandalwood oil – as much as 50 gallons of the stuff. No cause was discovered.

Sabtu, 07 Maret 2009

Over 600 years before Hogwarts School was created, an alchemist claimed to have discovered the incredible secrets of "the sorcerer's stone" - possibly even immortality

The phenomenal success of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter books, and the film based on "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," is introducing a whole new generation of children (and their parents) to the world of magic, sorcery and alchemy.

What is not widely known, however, is that at least one of the characters - and his magical quest - referred to in "Harry Potter" is based on a real alchemist and his strange experiments.

According to the Harry Potter stories, Albus Dumbledore, the headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, earned his reputation as a great wizard due, in part, to his work on alchemy with his partner, Nicolas Flamel. And although Dumbledore, Harry and all the other teachers and students at Hogwarts are fictional, Nicholas Flamel was a real-life alchemist who dabbled in some of the most mystical corners of the magical arts, including the quest for an Elixir of Life. Some wonder, in fact, if Flamel is still alive!

When "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" was written, Flamel's age was pegged at 665 years. That would be just about right since the real Flamel was born in France around 1330. Through an astonishing series of events, he became one of the most famous alchemists of the 14th century. And his story is almost as fantastic and enchanting as Harry Potter's.

An Incredible Dream Comes True

As an adult, Nicholas Flamel worked as a bookseller in Paris. It was a humble trade, but one that provided him with the relatively rare abilities to read and write. He worked from a small stall near the Cathedral of Saint-Jacques la Boucherie where, with his assistants, he copied and "illuminated" (illustrated) books.

One night, Flamel had a strange and vivid dream in which an angel appeared to him. The radiant, winged creature presented to Flamel a beautiful book with pages that seemed to be of fine bark and a cover of worked copper. Flamel later wrote down what the angel spoke to him: "Look well at this book, Nicholas. At first you will understand nothing in it - neither you nor any other man. But one day you will see in it that which no other man will be able to see."

Just as Flamel was about to take the book from the angel's hands, he awoke from his dream. Soon after, however, the dream was to weave its way into reality. One day when Flamel was working alone in his shop, a stranger approached him who was desperate to sell an old book for some much-needed money. Flamel immediately recognized the strange, copper-bound book as the one offered by the angel in his dream. He eagerly bought it for the sum of two florins.

The copper cover was engraved with peculiar diagrams and words, only some of which Flamel recognized as Greek. The pages were like none he had ever encountered in his trade. Instead of parchment, they seemed to be made from the bark of sapling trees. Flamel was able to discern from the first pages of the book that it was written by someone who called himself Abraham the Jew - "a prince, priest, Levite, astrologer and philosopher."

The strong memory of his dream and his own intuition convinced Flamel that this was no ordinary book - that it contained arcane knowledge that he feared he might not be qualified to read and understand. It could contain, he felt, the very secrets of nature and life.

Flamel's trade had brought him familiarity with the writings of the alchemists of his day, and he knew something of transmutation (the changing of one thing into another, such as lead into gold) and knew well the many symbols that alchemists used. But the symbols and writing in this book were beyond Flamel's understanding, although he strove to solve its mysteries for over 21 years.

The Quest for Translation

Because the book had been written by a Jew and much of its text was in ancient Hebrew, he reasoned that a scholarly Jew might be able to help him translate the book. Unfortunately, religious persecution had recently driven all of the Jews out of France. After copying only a few pages of the book, Flamel packed them and embarked on a pilgrimage to Spain, where many of the exiled Jews had settled.

The journey was unsuccessful, however. Many of the Jews, understandably suspicious of Christians at this time, were reluctant to help Flamel, so he began his journey home. Flamel had all but given up his quest when he chanced upon an introduction to a very old, learned Jew by the name of Maestro Canches who lived in Leon. Canches, too, was not eager to help Flamel until he mentioned Abraham the Jew. Canches had certainly heard of this great sage who was wise in the teachings of the mysterious kabbalah.

Canches was able to translate the few pages that Flamel brought with him and wanted to return to Paris with him to examine the rest of the book. But Jews were still not allowed in Paris and Canches' extreme old age would have made the journey difficult anyway. As fate would have it, Canches died before he could help Flamel any further.

Successful Transmutation

Returning to his Paris shop and his wife, Flamel seemed a changed man - joyous and full of life. He felt somehow transformed by his encounter with Canches. Though the old Jew had deciphered only those few pages, Flamel was able to use that knowledge to understand the entire book. He continued to study, research and meditate on the mysterious book for three years, after which he was able to perform a feat that had eluded alchemists for centuries - transmutation. Following the exact instructions provided by Abraham the Jew in the book, Flamel claimed to transform a half-pound of mercury into silver, and then into pure gold.

This was said to be accomplished with the aid of a "philosopher's stone." (Incidentally, the British title of "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" is "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.") For Flamel, this was reputed to include a strange, reddish "projection powder."

Turning base metals into silver and gold... it's the stuff of superstition, fantasy and folklore, right? Quite possibly. The historical records show, however, that this humble bookseller inexplicably became wealthy at this time - so wealthy, in fact, that he built housing for the poor, established free hospitals and made generous donations to churches. Virtually none of his newfound wealth was used to enhance his own way of living, but was used exclusively for charitable purposes. The transmutation Flamel achieved was not only with metals, it was said, but within his own mind and heart. But if transmutation is impossible, what was the source of Flamel's riches?

Flamel Dies... or Does He?

In the Harry Potter book, the evil Lord Voldemort seeks the sorcerer's stone to attain immortality. The same power of the stone that brings about transmutation can also result in the Elixir of Life, which would allow a person to live forever... or, by some accounts, at least 1,000 years.

Part of the legend that surrounds the true story of Nicholas Flamel is that he succeeded in the transmutation of metals and in achieving immortality.

The historical records say that Flamel died at the ripe old age of 88 - a very great age at that time. But there is a curious footnote to this story that causes one to wonder.

After Flamel's official death, his house was ransacked again and again by those seeking the philosopher's stone and the miraculous "projection powder." It was never found. Missing too was the book of Abraham the Jew. During the reign of Louis XIII in the first half of the 17th century, however, a descendent of Flamel by the name of Dubois might have inherited the book and some of the projection powder. With the king himself as a witness, Dubois allegedly used the powder to turn balls of lead into gold. This startling feat attracted the attention of the powerful Cardinal Richelieu who demanded to know how the powder worked. But Dubois only possessed what remained of his ancestor's powder and was unable to read the book of Abraham the Jew. He therefore could not reveal Flamel's secrets.

It is said that Richelieu took the book of Abraham the Jew and built a laboratory to exploit its secrets. The attempt was unsuccessful, however, and all traces of the book, save perhaps for a few of its illustrations, have since disappeared.

Later in that century, King Louis XIV dispatched an archeologist named Paul Lucas on a scientific fact-finding mission in the East. While in Broussa, Turkey, Lucas met an old philosopher who told him that there were wise men in the world who possessed knowledge of the philosopher's stone, who kept that knowledge to themselves, and who lived many hundreds, even thousands of years. Nicholas Flamel, he told Lucas, is one of those men. The old man even told Lucas of the book of Abraham the Jew and how it came into Flamel's possession. Most amazingly, he told Lucas that Flamel and his wife were still alive! Their funerals were faked, he said, and both of them migrated to India, where they still lived.

Is it possible that Flamel really did stumble upon the secret of the philosopher's stone and achieved immortality? Does the ancient knowledge of transmutation and the Elixir of Life really exist?

If so, Nicholas Flamel might still be alive. In fact, he might be taking great delight in the magical adventures of Harry Potter.

These scientists would fit right in at Hogwart's School of Witchcraft and Wizardry - except that their astounding conjurings were not works of fiction.

The latest Harry Potter book and film, with all their wizardry, magic and bizarre scientific experimentation, puts us in mind of some real-life science experiments that in their weirdness, fantastic ambitions and astonishing implications rival anything conducted at Hogwart's. Mad or not, these scientists managed to conjure incredible manifestations, human invisibility and even attempted to build a Messiah!

John Tyndall and the Test Tube of Beasties

John Tyndall was a respected Irish physicist of the 19th century. Making his career primarily in Great Britain, Tyndall made important contributions to the study of atmospherics and radiant heat, and may be best known for his discovery of "the Tyndall effect" - the diffusion of light by large molecules and dust in the air.

One of his experiments, however, conducted in the late 1800s, sounds like something out of a computer-effects movie. Tyndall had combined a variety of vapors from nitrates, iodides and acids in a test tube to record the effects of beams of light upon them. What he saw forming in the glass tube astonished him. At first the vapors formed clouds of remarkable colors. But then they started to take on distinct and familiar shapes. The vapor clouds began to arrange themselves in the form of vases, bottles, shells and various flowers. "In one case," he said, "the cloud-bud grew rapidly into a serpent's head; a mouth was formed, and from the cloud, a cord of cloud resembling a tongue was discharged."

More incredibly, the vapor then formed itself into a perfectly symmetrical fish. "It positively assumed the form of a fish, with eyes, gills and feelers. The twoness of the animal form was displayed throughout, and no disk, coil, or speck existed on one side that did not exist on the other."

What happened here? Had Tyndall inadvertently inhaled some strange vapors and hallucinated the scene? Or were his thoughts - images from his mind - somehow made manifest in the stimulated vapors? We may never know exactly what happened in Tyndall's laboratory that day.

Sir Thomas Brown and the Spectral Plant

You have no doubt seen the famous Kirlian photographs in which the outline of a severed piece of a leaf still appears in Kirlian energy. A phenomenon similar but much more remarkable is said to have taken place in the laboratory of Sir Thomas Brown, a 17th century physician and author, when he saw the "spectre" of a plant rise from its burned remains.

In this experiment, Sir Brown took a plant and reduced it to ashes through calcination - a process in which an object is turned to powder through high temperature, then by drying, decomposing or oxidizing it. After fermenting the powder, he poured it into a vial. When heat was applied again, something unexplained occurred.

A witness wrote: "This dust thus excited by heat, shoots upward into its primitive forms; by sympathy the parts unite, and while each is returning to its destined place, we see distinctly the stalk, the leaves, and the flower arise; it is the pale spectre of a flower coming slowly forth from its ashes. The heat passes away, the magical scene declines, till the whole matter again precipitates itself into the chaos at the bottom. This vegetable phoenix thus lies concealed in its cold ashes."

In other words, when the vial was heated - even from the heat of a person's hand - a ghostly form of the original plant rose from the ashes out of the vial. All parts of the plant could distinctly be seen, according to this account, then faded away. It sounds like a conjurer's trick, but that is the story that has been passed down.

John Murray Spear and the God Machine

In their efforts to create a Utopia or a more perfect world society, many a well-intentioned scientist have been led down dark roads to the abominable. The experiments of the fictional Dr. Victor Frankenstein (and the not-so-fictional Johann Konrad Dippel) come to mind. But they may have been eclipsed in their maniacal ambitions by the work of a group led by John Murray Spear, who gathered to create nothing less than the Messiah - God himself.

Spear, a minister of the Universal Church, brought together a group in October, 1853 to a cottage on a hilltop in Lynn, Massachusetts with the intention of physically constructing "Heaven's last, best gift to man" - what they hoped would be the New Messiah. Spear was deeply into spiritualism and participated in many séances as a trance medium in which many spirits spoke through him on a great many subjects. In 1853, through automatic writing he began to channel a group of spirits who called themselves the "Band of Electricizers," directed by the spirit of Benjamin Franklin himself.

These spirits and others, claiming to be working for the elevation of humankind, provided Spear with plans for advanced ships, "thinking machines" and great planned cities. A priority, however, was the creation of the New Messiah. Spear and several other spiritualists congregated at High Rock Cottage in Lynn to begin their audacious experiment. Over a nine month period, Spear channeled the instructions for the machine while the others built it, piece by piece, "much the same way... that one decorates a Christmas tree."

The result was a crazy, if somewhat impressive, assembled mass of machined copper and zinc parts, shafts, flywheels, magnets, wires, insulators, chemical compounds and a "brain" made up of copper and zinc plates that were supposed to draw power directly from the atmosphere. All at the exorbitant cost of over $2,000.

Electricity was applied to the machine and then Spear, himself clad in metal and gemstones, sat near it. He fell into a deep trance and it was said that an umbilical of light stretched between the two. Some time later, one of the pregnant members of the group, near delivery, lay on the floor in front of the machine for two hours while she went through labor pains. And when she rose and touched the machine, the group claimed that for a few seconds their God machine actually became animate!

Did it? Critics and skeptics who saw the machine said that it did not move (except for a few dangling parts), but that it was beautifully put together. Eventually, it was torn apart by an angry mob and nothing of it appears to have survived.

Young Scientist and the Invisibility Suit

We know that today's stealth aircraft are virtually invisible to radar, but can true invisibility be achieved through electromagnetic or other means? Some believe exactly that was accomplished with the infamous "Philadelphia Experiment," but the account of that incident has become so muddled and fictionalized (like the alleged UFO crash at Roswell) that the truth may never be known.

In 1934, however, a young British scientist is said to have achieved full invisibility of himself - and he did so on a brightly lit stage in front of an audience. The scientist, whose name seems to be lost to history (might it have been "Potter"?), walked on stage in a crowded public hall in London, England and declared that he had discovered the secret to electromagnetically induced invisibility. Wearing a device he called an Electro-Helmet and other gear that witnesses said made him look like "a deep-sea diver," he stepped into an open-front cabinet. He reached up and touched two contacts above his head with both hands, then gave the signal for the switch to be thrown. The switch appeared to send a current of electricity to his strange devices and through the scientist. His body at first became transparent... and then gradually vanished from his feet to his head!

According to the story, spectators invited onto the stage could touch and feel his body within the cabinet as if he were still there, but they could not see him. "All one could see," the story goes, "was the development of a cone of light such as might be projected between the two poles of a powerful transmitter." Naturally, the inventor refused to reveal how his contraption worked, stating only that it was the result of many years of experimentation. Photos were allegedly taken of this feat, but could not explain how it was accomplished - only that he was visible one moment and invisible the next.

Was he a brilliant scientist? Or a clever magician? Or perhaps he was a graduate of some real-life version of Hogwart's School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

The REAL X-Men

They have powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men or women. But unlike the characters of the comic book, these extraordinary people were quite real.

The movie version of X-Men was the hottest film in the theaters when it was released. Based on the enormously popular comic book, X-Men features a collection of human mutants - both good and evil - who were born with extraordinary and sometimes bizarre powers. With such names as Wolverine, Storm, Cyclops, Magneto and Mystique, they bound around making blades spring from their knuckles, conjuring hurricanes from the sky or manipulating their environment through telekinesis. These characters, creations of legendary comic book author and illustrator Stan Lee, live only in the imagination, on paper and now on film.

Would you believe there are real X-Men? They may not be genetic mutants, in the strictest sense, and they may not be able to threaten or save the world with their strange and fantastic powers of the body and mind, but they are extraordinary... not at all like you and me. Here's our own gallery of real-life super-powered characters.

Lightning Man
When storm clouds gather, courageous Lightning Man stands in defiance of nature to draw deadly bolts of electricity from the heavens.

Roy Cleveland Sullivan was a Forest Ranger in Virginia who had an incredible attraction to lightning... or rather it had an attraction to him. Over his 36-year career as a ranger, Sullivan was struck by lightning seven times - and survived each jolt, but not unscathed. When struck for the first time in 1942, he suffered the loss of a nail on his big toe. Twenty-seven years passed before he was struck again, this time by a bolt that singed his eyebrows off. The next year, in 1970, another strike burned Sullivan's left shoulder. Now it looked as though lightning had it out for poor Roy, and people were starting to call him The Human Lightning Rod. He didn't disappoint them. Lightning zapped him again in 1972, setting his hair on fire and convincing him to keep a container of water in his car, just in case. The water came in handy in 1973 when, seemly just to taunt Sullivan, a low-hanging cloud shot a bolt of lightning at his head, blasting him out of his car, setting his hair on fire and knocking off a shoe. The sixth strike in 1976 injured his ankle, and the seventh strike in 1977, got him when he was fishing, and put him in the hospital for treatment of chest and stomach burns. Lightning may not have been able to kill Roy Sullivan, but perhaps the threat of it did. He took his own life in 1983. Two of his lightning-singed ranger hats are on display at Guinness World Exhibit Halls.

With just the power of his mind, he can command animals to do his bidding.

Vladimir Durov was no ordinary animal trainer. As a veteran performer in a Russian circus, he claimed to use a remarkable method for communicating with his canine coworkers - through telepathy. Professor W. Bechterev, head of the institute for the Investigation of the Brain in St. Petersburg, decided to test Durov's claim. Bechterev created a list of tasks that he wanted one of Durov's dogs to perform in a specific order, without any time for training. After hearing or reading the list of tasks, Durov went to his fox terrier, Pikki, took his head in his hands and stared straight into the little dog's eyes - psychicly transferring his thoughts directly into Pikki's brain. Durov released the dog and it immediately went about performing the assigned tasks. Thinking that perhaps Durov was giving the dog subtle clues with his eyes, the test was repeated with a new set of tasks, but this time with Durov blindfolded. Pikki still responded to his psychic commands.

The Electromagneto Team
Charged like superconducting human batteries, they roam the countryside thrilling all they meet with the electrifying power at their fingertips.

There have been several documented cases of people who apparently possess inexplicable electromagnetic properties:

  • For just a 10-week period in 1846, 14-year-old French girl Angelique Cottin's mere presence made the needles of compasses spin wildly; objects as heavy as furniture would slide away from her if she tried to touch them; objects near her would vibrate unnaturally.
  • Jennie Morgan of Sedalia, Missouri could emit highly-charged sparks from her fingertips that were strong enough to knock people unconscious. Animals would shun her.
  • After an 18-month undiagnosed illness, Canadian teenager Caroline Clare became so magnetized that metal objects, like forks and knives, stuck to her skin. The force was so powerful that another person was required to pull them off.
  • Inga Gaiduchenko, a 14-year-old Soviet student was also highly magnetic. Before members of the Moscow Technological Institute, she showed how spoons and pens stuck to her hands. Even non-metallic objects such as china plates and books were affected.

The Amazing Kinetitron
With her thoughts alone, a steely glance or a subtle gesture, she can move inanimate objects at will.

Nina Kulagina became one of the most famous psychics in the Soviet Union in the 1960s because of her amazing feats of telekinesis or psychokinesis. In films smuggled out of the country, Kulagina was shown to be able to move small objects placed before her on a table. Under close scientific observation, Kulagina would hold her hands a few inches above the objects, and in a few moments they would being to slide across the table top. Wooden matches, small boxes, cigarettes and Plexiglas would all react to her intense concentration. At times, objects would continue to move even when she took her hands away. In the early 1970s, Kulagina was even recruited by the Soviet government to see if she could somehow help a sick Nikita Khrushchev.

Pyro-Elasto Man
Watch him stretch his body to incredible lengths and handle red-hot flaming embers in his bare hands.

Daniel Douglas Home was either one of the most incredible psychic mediums of the mid-1800s or one of the era's cleverest magicians. The feats this Scotsman performed at close range astounded the elite and royalty of his day. In one demonstration, he entered his usual trance state and announced he was in touch with a guardian spirit that was "very tall and strong." While being watched by two witnesses who flanked him, Home shot up an additional six inches in height, and it could be clearly seen that his slippered feet were planted flatly on the floor. Home could also hold burning embers in his bare hands completely without harm, a feat he performed on a number of occasions. Sir William Crookes of the British Society for Psychical Research, once saw Home pick up a hot coal as big as an orange and hold it nonchalantly in both hands. Home even blew on the coal until it became white hot and flames flickered around his bare fingers. Crookes then inspected Home's hands and affirmed that they did not appear to be specially treated in any way - and showed absolutely no sign of blistering, scarring or burning. Crookes remarked, in fact, that Home's hands were as soft and delicate as "a woman's." In yet another performance, Homes floated out of a second-story window, paused, then floated back inside to the utter astonishment of three witnesses on the ground.

The Incredible X-Ray
There's no hiding evil deeds from the Incredible X-Ray whose penetrating X-ray vision sees all.

Koda Box, a stage performer who billed himself as "The Man with the X-Ray Eyes," astonished audiences in the early 1900s. Box first allowed audience members to completely blind him by putting coins over his eyes and fastening them in place with adhesive tape. His entire head was then bandaged in cloth, assuring everyone that he could see nothing. He then proceeded to read messages that audience participants had written on paper. He could also read books and accurately describe objects held up by members of the audience. With is elaborate blindfold in place, Box once even safely rode a bicycle through the busy traffic of New York's Times Square.

Microscopo and Telescopique
Like super-powerd human scientific instruments, these heroes use their fantastic vision to see microscopic details or great distances.

Two gentlemen might share the title of Microsopo, both having the ability to distinguish vinyl phonograph records merely by looking at the grooves with their unaided eyes! Alvah Mason first demonstrated this talent in the 1930s, and more recently, Arthur Lintgen, a resident of Philadelphia proved to none other than The Amazing Randi that he could do the same thing. Veronica Seider, a German dentist, apparently had telescopic vision. In several demonstrations she showed that she could identify people from more than a mile distance. Seider also claimed that she could see the individual red, green and blue dots that make up the picture on a color television set.

Medictron, the Healer
With the unknown force emanating from his miraculous hands, Medictron has the power to heal all forms of injuries and maladies.

John D. Reese of Youngstown, Ohio never studied medicine. In fact, it wasn't until he was about 30 years old that Reese discovered his remarkable if latent power to heal. One day in 1887, an acquaintance of Mr. Reese had fallen from a ladder and seriously injured his spine - a "severe spinal strain" his physician called it. Reese, for some reason, ran his fingers up and down the man's back, immediately after which the man announced that his pain had ceased entirely. He got up and went back to work. Reese likewise healed Hans Wagner, a shortstop for the Pittsburgh Pirates, who had been carried from the field with a back injury; he also instantly cured a politician whose hand and wrist became useless to him from so much handshaking. Doctors had told him he needed weeks and weeks of rest. After his encounter with Reese, he has perfectly fine.

Weird, Weird Rain

Heads up! There's all kinds of strange stuff falling from the sky: frogs, sardines, jellyfish, alligators and maybe - just maybe - cows! Here are some documented cases of really weird precipitation.

As I sit writing this week's feature and glance out my home office window, it's pouring rain outside. One might say it's raining cats and dogs. Not literally, of course. But that's not to say that at times in many areas around the world that it hasn't rained things just as strange as felines and canines. Sometimes, things even stranger.

Weird rain is one of the more bizarre - and still largely unexplained - phenomena that is periodically (yet continually) reported from all corners of the globe. There have been accounts of frog rain, fish rain, squid rain, worm rain, even alligator rain. The logical explanation for the odd occurrences is that a tornado or strong whirlwind picked up the animals from a shallow body of water and carried them - sometimes for hundreds of miles - before dropping them on a bewildered populace. This explanation has yet to be proved, and it can't quite account for all of the documented incidents, as you'll see below.

Here are some of the more unusual cases - a small sampling from thousands of reports over the years - that defy all rational explanation.


  • In 1873, Scientific American reported that Kansas City, Missouri was blanketed with frogs that dropped from the sky during a storm.
  • Minneapolis, Minnesota was pelted with frogs and toads in July, 1901. A news item stated: "When the storm was at its highest... there appeared as if descending directly from the sky a huge green mass. Then followed a peculiar patter, unlike that of rain or hail. When the storm abated the people found, three inches deep and covering an area of more than four blocks, a collection of a most striking variety of frogs... so thick in some places [that] travel was impossible."
  • The citizens of Naphlion, a city in southern Greece, were surprised one morning in May, 1981, when they awoke to find small green frogs falling from the sky. Weighing just a few ounces each, the frogs landed in trees and plopped into the streets. The Greek Meteorological Institute surmised they were picked up by a strong wind. It must have been a very strong wind. The species of frog was native to North Africa!
  • In 1995, reports Fortean Times Online, Nellie Straw of Sheffield, England, was driving through Scotland on holiday with her family when they encountered a severe storm. Along with the heavy rain, however, hundreds of frogs suddenly pelted her car.


  • A powerful whirlwind might explain a rain of small fish, but it cannot account for the ones that fell on a village in India. As many as 10 people reported picking up fish that weighed as much as eight pounds that had come crashing down on them.
  • In February, 1861, folks in many areas of Singapore reported a rain of fish following an earthquake. How could the two possibly correlate?
  • Golfers dread gathering clouds and a rain that might ruin their game. But imagine the consternation of several duffers in Bournemouth, England, in 1948 who received a shower of herring.
  • Priests often pray for blessings from above... but fish? In 1966, Father Leonard Bourne was dashing through a downpour across a courtyard in North Sydney, Australia, when a large fish fell from the sky and landed on his shoulder. The priest nearly caught it as it slid down his chest, but it squirmed away, fell to the flooded ground and swam away.
  • These things don't always happen in a heavy rain. In 1989, in Ipswich, Australia, Harold and Degen's front lawn was covered with about 800 "sardines" that rained from above during a light shower.
  • This report is most unusual: In an otherwise clear sky in Chilatchee, Alabama in 1956, a woman and her husband watched as a small dark cloud formed in the sky. When it was overhead, the cloud released its contents: rain, catfish, bass and bream - all of the fish alive. The dark cloud had turned to white, then dispersed.

Flesh and Blood

  • In 1890, Popular Science News reported that blood rained down on Messignadi, Calabria in Italy - bird's blood. It was speculated that the birds were somehow torn part by violent winds, although there were no such winds at the time. And no other parts of the bird came down - just blood.
  • J. Hudson's farm in Los Nietos Township, California endured a rain of flesh and blood for three minutes in 1869. The grisly fall covered several acres.
  • The American Journal of Science confirmed a shower of blood, fat and muscle tissue that fell on a tobacco farm near Lebanon, Tennessee in August, 1841. Field workers, who actually experienced this weird shower, said they heard a rattling noise and saw "drops of blood, as they supposed...fell from a red cloud which was flying over."


  • In 1881, a thunderstorm in Worcester, England, brought down tons of periwinkles and hermit crabs.
  • In November, 1996, a town in southern Tasmania was slimed! Several residents woke up on a Sunday morning after a night of violent thunderstorms to find a strange, white-clear jelly-like substance on their property. Apparently, it had rained either fish eggs or baby jellyfish.
  • A Korean fisherman, trolling off the coast of the Falkland Islands, was knocked unconscious by a single frozen squid that fell from the sky and konked him on the head.
  • In July, 2001, a red rain fell on Kerala, India. At first it was thought that a meteor was responsible for the strange-colored rain, but an analysis showed that the water was filled with fungal spores. Still, where did all of those red spores come from to be rained down in such concentration?
  • From about 1982 to 1986, kernels of corn have rained down on several houses in Evans, Colorado - tons of it, according to Gary Bryan, one of the residents. Oddly, there were no cornfields in the area that might account for the phenomenon.
  • In August, 2001, the Wichita, Kansas area experienced an unexplained rain of corn husks. The news report stated that "thousands of dried corn leaves fell over east Wichita - from about Central Avenue to 37th Street North, along Woodlawn Boulevard and on east - each about 20 to 30 inches long."
  • In 1877, several one-foot-long alligators fell on J. L. Smith's farm in South Carolina. They landed, unharmed, and started crawling around, reported The New York Times.

Perhaps the most bizarre report is one that, unfortunately, cannot be confirmed. It may be just the stuff of urban legend, but it's so weird and so amusing that had to be included. I'll leave it up to you to decide whether or not it's true.

Sometime around 1990, a Japanese fishing boat was sunk in the Sea of Okhotsk off the eastern coast of Siberia by a falling cow. When the crew of the wrecked ship were fished from the water, they told authorities that they had seen several cows falling from the sky, and that one of them crashed straight through the deck and hull. At first, the story goes, the fishermen were arrested for trying to perpetrate an insurance fraud, but were released when their story was verified. It seems that a Russian transport plane carrying stolen cattle was flying overhead. When the movement of the herd within the plane threw it off balance, the plane's crew, to avoid crashing, opened the loading bay at the tail of the aircraft and drove them out to fall into the water below. True story or hoax? One investigation traced the story back to a Russian television comedy series.


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