The Life of the Shaman: The Hero’s Journey

The life of the shaman proceeded along the course of the hero's journey, which was set out by the mythologist, Joseph Campbell, in five major stages. They are: 1) The shaman's early conventional life; 2) The crisis, or call to adventure and awakening; 3) Discipline and training; 4) Culmination of the quest in enlightenment, death…

The life of the shaman proceeded along the course of the hero's journey, which was set out by the mythologist, Joseph Campbell, in five major stages. They are:

1) The shaman's early conventional life;
2) The crisis, or call to adventure and awakening;
3) Discipline and training;
4) Culmination of the quest in enlightenment, death and rebirth; and
5) The final phase of return and contribution to society.

The shamans were the world's first spiritual explorers. They laid the foundation for what we now know as the spiritual path to enlightenment, the heroic quest for the grail, the journey into death and resurrection – namely, as Joseph Campbell dubbed it, the hero's journey.

In the words of Roger Walsh, shamans were the first to “systematically explore and cultivate their inner world and to use their insights and images for the benefits of their people.”

They were the first to be dissatisfied with the life of everyday, waking consciousness, the first to relinquish the acceptance of the plain surface reality of things, the first to step blindly into the world beyond.

Spurred on by the call of helper spirits, or by their own inward curiosity and questioning, the shaman set himself on the path of discovery. This path plunged them into an alien world of visions, dreams, and the inner realities of the soul.

Everyone who has since set out on this path has done so tracing along with the footsteps of shamans who came before us.

In brief, the journey goes something like this:

1) The hero's early conventional life:

Here, the hero is blissfully unaware that culture is an illusion. He accepts the conventional beliefs, morals, and limitations set out by his society.

The task of the hero is to go beyond these limits. It is to question his own beliefs as well as the moral foundations of his society. As Roger Walsh explains, this “requires facing the inner fears and outer social contexts that constrain and cripple our capacities” (Walsh).

First things first, however, the hero must realize that there are fears needing facing, and beliefs needing questioning. This is achieved by …

2) The crisis, or call to adventure and awakening:

At some point, the hero's normal, everyday life is challenged by a crisis, or an encounter with the unknown that calls previous beliefs into question.

This crisis can take many forms. For the shaman, it was often the emergence of a strange illness, a visit from within a dream, a powerful vision, or a confrontation with death. Whatever form it takes, “this challenge reveals the limits of cultural thinking and living, and urges the hero [the shaman] beyond them” (Walsh).

Once the crisis, or call, comes, the shaman is faced with a choice. Either accept the call and take those first blind steps into an alien unknown, or repress the crisis and try to go back to living a normal life as if none of it happened.

The call, however, never really goes away. That feeling of dissatisfaction and dis-ease lingers on forever, and most shamans who try to refuse the call go mad or die.

Those who accept face an equally difficult, but infinitely more rewarding, path.

3) Discipline and training:

The next step for the shaman is to find and acquire a teacher.

A teacher can be both internal or external. For the shaman, the teacher often took the form of an inner guide or spirit. Just as often, shamans were trained and educated by other shamans in their community.

Whatever form they take, the teacher begins the shaman-to-be on a program of discipline, both physical and mental, to develop the will as well as to disrupt the shaman's ordinary – that is, comfortable – state of mind. This is in order that his mind may be opened to new possibilities and modes of awareness. Such disciplines can include fasting, sleep deprivation, physical exertion, isolation, or exposure to extremes of hot or cold.

The aim and effect of these disciplines is to change the way the mind perceives reality.

4) Culmination of the quest – death and rebirth:

The quest culminates in illumination, or a life-changing breakthrough.

This may take the form of a vision, a special insight, or – and this is most common with the shamanic experience – an experience of death and rebirth.

Again, whatever form it takes, the end effect is the same: “a realization of one's deeper nature and a resultant self-transformation” (Walsh).

5) The final phase of return and contribution to society:

Having healed himself, the shaman is now spiritually equipped for the task of healing the world – that being his immediate community.

Whereas the quest itself was a turning away from society and into his deeper, inward self, the quest ends with a return back into society in order to share and give from what was learned and attained on the journey.

This story of the shaman's development, the hero's journey, is in essence a description of the human story. The experience of an artist, a teacher, a scientist, a writer – the experience of any human story worth telling – follows this same general pattern. An encounter with a crisis or problem, and then through the work of resolving it, the discovery of something substantial that can benefit the whole world.

The hero of the hero's journey is the one who brings something true and worthy into this, our shared human reality, out of the alternate reality of one's own inner self.

This is the great spiritual work, and it is the essence of the shamanic life.

Tips For Making the Most of Your Recycling Efforts

Although recycling can be making a little money “on the side”, it is about absolutely saving the planet we live on also. Keep in mind that there are benefits close at hand, and there are benefits a long time away from now that we are working with. Sure, in many ways it is quick money…

Although recycling can be making a little money “on the side”, it is about absolutely saving the planet we live on also. Keep in mind that there are benefits close at hand, and there are benefits a long time away from now that we are working with. Sure, in many ways it is quick money if you have a few pounds of recycling. But, long range investments and consequences must also be considered as a whole. Without that consideration, recycling is just a short term fix for pocket change, not saving anything or doing anything worthwhile.

So, here is the first tip of three:

  • Think as you recycle and think deeply about what you are doing, do not take it for granted.

Sure, I could have said something more “interesting” with that first tip, but I give that tip not something something interesting but something fully practical as I shall explain later in this article. Here is the second tip of three:

  • Only take to the recycling center or whatever situation in life you are recycling what you really know and feel is worthwhile.

Sure, that could mean many things. One thing it could mean for example is to not take the easy money and go for something that you can legally invest well, even if you have enough to take “or go the extra mile to make it worthwhile to put it another way. What I mean is take what you know and feel is worth it, that simply, really.

Here is the third and final tip:

  • Always recycle with the present and future in mind, the past does not matter except for its role in improving your future.

Past mistakes are to be learned from, but the present and future are to be lived in correctly with total learning and understanding from past mistakes. The biggest mistake you can make though is to cling to past glories or mistakes as if they are set in stone. After all, the real nature of recycling is to better your present and future by learning from the past. After all, there is an old saying, “if you forget a bad past, and do not take the lessons with you, you are doomed to repeat it.” Think about it, that is true and real on a financial level or any level there is of reality. Genuine foolishness is not improving upon yourself as time goes on. In fact, that is the crux of a bad life really. A good life is simply recycling the past and making a better future out of the present. Some of the greatest “failures” in history recycles their lives in this fashion and became the greatest successes.

I not only want to do a good article on recycling, I want it to be logical and applicable to any aspect of life and living.

Should We Forgive and Forget – Or Are Some Things In History Too Painful To Do So?

Humans are extremely good at forgiving, even when it comes to some of the worst atrocities known to mankind. One could ask it that is a noble trait to a disastrous one. For instance; “those who fail to study their history are doomed to repeat it,” and I'd add to that famous quote; “those who…

Humans are extremely good at forgiving, even when it comes to some of the worst atrocities known to mankind. One could ask it that is a noble trait to a disastrous one. For instance; “those who fail to study their history are doomed to repeat it,” and I'd add to that famous quote; “those who re-write their history are guaranteed an uncertain future.” Now the question is; should we white wash history, try to forget it, forgive those who've trespassed against us, or should we make an example of them to hold future culprits at bay and forewarned. Let's talk shall we?

There was a troubling piece in the Washington Post on January 20, 2014 titled; “Firm's Interest in Purple Line Draws Scrutiny for Parent Firm's Holocaust History,” by Katherine Shaver which stated; “The major owner of a Paris-based company competed to build and operate the light rail Purple line between Montgomery and Prince George's counties was the target of a Maryland law requiring that firms disclose any treaties to the holocaust when bidding on rail contracts.”

Now, I hope this is not foreshadowing of things to come. Although we need to remember how long ago this was, and understand that we are driving cars that made bombers and ships for the Japanese in WWII and driving cars made by the same companies that built Germany's war machine. Still, just the thought of this surely makes us stop and think. It's okay to take a stand here and remember history, it makes us smarter, and better policy makers. Even if there is a shade of political correctness, it is actual history – just tell them sorry – no go – that does not fly here.

Okay so, that's where I draw the line, but should that line (rail line) be drawn, or should we let bygones be gone? Obviously, there are strong opinions on both sides of this equation are not there? What happened during WWII (the Holocaust) is something we'd all like to forget, but we dare not. Is this thus, another reminder worthy of making even if it flies in the face of arbitrary hypocrisy? The battle cry after the war was; “We will never forget” and sometimes that is very good advice to prevent it from coming again, and yet, if we go there, then what about all the other companies involved?

What about banks, equipment makers, auto makers, computer makers, munitions makers, religious leaders blessing both sides. Look, I do not have all the answers, nor do you, but I hope you will take a moment and please consider all this. Oh and lastly, I am placing this into the “Humanity” category, but has that become an oxymoron considering how poor human behavior has been in past periods?

A Look at the Kimono Robe Across Time

The kimono robe has made its way around the world and back. What started as very traditional and cultural attire has evolved to make fashionable impressions in cultures world wide. Even today, the life of the garment is still evolving. Even the word has evolved as kimono encompasses a number of items of clothing that…

The kimono robe has made its way around the world and back. What started as very traditional and cultural attire has evolved to make fashionable impressions in cultures world wide. Even today, the life of the garment is still evolving. Even the word has evolved as kimono encompasses a number of items of clothing that have a traditional Japanese look.

Traditional Kimonos

Before the twentieth century, the term kimono was not heavily used. Individual garments had their own specific names based on all aspects, from sleeve opening size to the formality of the occasion for which the garment was to be worn. The term kimono actually came into use to describe a normally T-shaped garment that had the potential of many different names and functions, now lumped together. The T-shaped pattern is made out of seven panels cut from one bolt of cloth. It is sewn together at all the edges, allowing the panels to form a distinct T-shape that the entire world now associates with “traditional” Japanese dress.

While indeed the kimono is referred to as “traditional” Japanese wear, it is important to note that the kimono in all its different forms is anything but traditional. The word kimono means literally “thing to wear” in English. Because it has encompassed a wide array of clothing types that were once categorized separately, and because of the large variation of actual garment styles of kimonos, pinning down a solid history for the kimono is not an easy task.

The Kimono in Traditional Culture

In the twenty century, the garments collectively titled “kimono” underwent a number of changes. As with modern fashion, the kimono that would have seen as 'acceptable' by culture changed its look based on many different aspects, from social status to functionality. Not only did the Japanese culture impact the definition of the kimono, but the Western culture did, as well. The Western influence has affected the advent of the kimono so much, in fact, that it is impossible not to find their histories interwoven.

Before the twenty-ninth century, the Japanese military was utilizing the kimono. When met with the Western military style, however, the Japanese military quickly adopted it for the better protection of their soldiers. The Meiji Empire was the first to see the change in clothing, and the adaptation quickly became widespread. In the very late eighth century, the shift to Western style clothing was no longer an option; it was law.

Soon after, a decree was issued encouraging women to also put away the kimono and instead dress in the Western manner to follow suit with their Empress of the time, and the kimono gradually became shunned for public wear. In the presence of others, suits and business attire were the accepted affair. At home, individuals would change, thus mentally and physically putting the day behind them and relaxing in the privacy of their abode in the comfort of a kimono. This shift fed the notion of the kimono being traditional Japanese wear because people would only don them in the comfort of their own home.

Kimonos Evolve

While the Western world had an impact on Japanese dress, the same was conversely true. The interaction with Japan roused interest in Europe and America, and it was not long before a fascination with all things Japanese was sparked. Kimono became a frequently exported good to the West. By the 1870s, kimono were available for purchase in shops, and American labels started appearing on kimonos that were sold in the United States. Designers purchased these “dressing gowns,” as they called them, and then tagged the clothing under their own name to sell. These past 100 years have seen the kimono go to a retail format, a multitude of garments all labeled under the single rubric, always associated with traditional Japan.

The 19th century saw advances in technology that textile designers very much benefited from. New techniques for patterning were developed, and new dyes were introduced that allowed for bright, dazzling colors. The bold and brilliant patterns of the kimono were easier to produce, and tailors became more confident with their designs. The kimono became commonly adorned with large, dramatic visual statements that beautifully reflected nature and the modern culture. The technological advances also allowed for the boost in production speeds, as power-operated looms and spinning machines caused the kimono to be more easily created. The fabrics used for the creation of the garments also increased in quality, as silk became easier to maintain at more affordable prices.

Modern Kimonos

Today, the kimono continues to be utilized as everyday wear for the older generation of the Japanese. Actors, geisha, and staff at traditional restaurants or participating in traditional activities also continue to use the kimono. In general, however, the kimono only sees use for formal occasions. In the Western world, women often adopt the kimono in lieu of a bathrobe, and enjoy the feeling of luxury that it offers even while attending to items mundane.

In western culture, the kimono robe has inspired fashions and trends that go beyond the traditional dress. One such trend is that of bridal parties wearing kimono robes while wearing for the wedding. A satin or embroidered kimono robe is a common gift from the bride to each member of the bridal party.

The kimono is sure to continue enduring the course of history and crossing cultural lines, thus making a permanent place in history for the iconic, T-shaped garment. Kimonos have made retiring to the home a pleasant affair for those who still wear them at home, a way of physically putting away the work day and being surrounded by their own comforts of home.

The history of the kimono encompasses many aspects of Japanese culture. Art and textile are blended together to make these beautiful, functional items of clothing. Individuals will collect them like the pieces of art they are, and keep them on display or in private collections. Kimonos that are produced for specific collections are usually rather cost due to the quality of the workmanship and materials used, while those that are sold for personal, daily use are more reasonable. Collectors will go to great lengths to have collections and spend large sums of money in order to make it happen.

Secrets For Successful Fundraising

Generally, schools, childcare centers and playgroups call upon the parents for raising funds. It can be extremely rewarding to participate in this type of activity. It can develop business skills and this is why some parents are showing interest. But, some of them do not come forward. However, it becomes essential for educational institutions to…

Generally, schools, childcare centers and playgroups call upon the parents for raising funds. It can be extremely rewarding to participate in this type of activity. It can develop business skills and this is why some parents are showing interest. But, some of them do not come forward. However, it becomes essential for educational institutions to follow the best ideas to make it a great success. Here are some secrets for the same:

Planning: As per the popular saying, a well begin work is half done, beginning is of high importance. Proper planning is essential at this stage. Even though, this point is obvious, it is essential that schools should focus on some extra planning in such a way that they can save time and energy in the long run and can also increase profits. Here, allocation of responsibilities is essential. For instance, there are companies coming forward to help schools in their endeavor toward fundraising and they handle all the admin works too. When this type of company is selected, the admin works will be taken care by them and so the remaining works can be distributed among the other staff members in such a way that the overall output will be the intended purpose.

Goal setting: Goal setting is important in any endeavor so that we can work towards the goal and taste the fruits of success. When it comes to fundraising ideas for schools, it is essential that the responsible authorities should set a goal for themselves as to how much money they are planning to raise. Once this goal is set, they can get in touch with the companies, who are providing the right platform for the same. For instance, they are supplying simple out-of-the box card making tools. Schools can procure them and can distribute them to the children for making their own drawings. Once the completed work is gotten back from the children, they can be resent to the service providers, who will send them again to the school in the form of printed cards. Schools can raise funds by selling these cards. Here, if they have a specific goal in mind, they can accordingly place order for the papers in which artworks are to be created by children.

Communication of expectations: Only when the school authorities can communicate their expectation with respect to the level of funds that they are planning to raise, the service providers can advise them with respect to the number of cards to make so that they can provide the estimate of selling how many cards can bring them the required money.

To sum up, careful analysis of different fundraising ideas for schools and finally arriving at the best and profitable one can be beneficial.

Antique Or Junk? How To Tell The Difference

Stumbling across an old family heirloom or just any vintage object is enough to make us stop and think 'I wonder how valuable this is?' Unfortunately, most of what we absorb to be precious is not but every so often you may come across something that's valuable. The only way to determine the actual value…

Stumbling across an old family heirloom or just any vintage object is enough to make us stop and think 'I wonder how valuable this is?' Unfortunately, most of what we absorb to be precious is not but every so often you may come across something that's valuable.

The only way to determine the actual value of a vintage object is to have it valued. Antique dealers are the best people to approach. However, just so you know not to chuck something old just because you 'feel' it is not valuable, here are a few ways to help you make the decision.

Examine it closely

You may not be an expert expert but you can still have an inkling of whether an object has value. Stamps and dates usually indicate the same despite even junk can have markings. Dents and cracks diminish value so the more damaged the object is, the likelier it is to fetch a low price even if it's worth thousands in mint condition and was once considered to be very valuable.

What is it made of?

Examine the material and determine what it is. Solid silver, for example, has become quite rare since most of the silver products we use are silver plated. The same with objects containing glass-like material which may be crystal and not ordinary glass. In the United States, Depression glass – ordinary glassware – is considered valuable because of its increasing rarity. If your family emigrated from the USA or possesses vintage glassware manufactured in that country, have it appraised. You may just strike lucky.

Is it in demand?

Objects in demand vary according to the times. Let's say the current pick is matryoshka dolls dating back to a specific period. If you have them and you know they're vintage, have them appraised on the off-chance they're antiques.

Keep up with what's in demand by subscribing to an antiques magazine or visiting the website of genuine dealers. You can also visit dealers who'll be more than happy to help.

What makes an object valuable?

Several factors determine if an object is an antique or just junk. One is limited supply and a second is age. Objects around 100 years old or older are deemed antiques but they carry value only if they were manufactured in limited supply. A third factor is whether the object is a work of art that's no longer being created or if it contains elements deemed notable.

It's important to understand that antiques are not always once-expensive items. There are some which were considered generic but have become collector's items. Consider the cereal boxes of old that featured a particular graphic or a celebrity's face. Sometimes, they turn out to become very valuable objects even though they were not thought so in their time. Then there are antiques that were and are valuable cost-wise. Precious jewelery is an example where, for instance, the diamonds contained fetched a handsome price in its days and still continues to do so today.

If you've been given a family heirloom you think is an antique or you find something in grandma's attic that looks to be an antique, follow the tips given here before taking it to an antique dealer. Remember that appraisals cost so save money and time by noticing these points before having it appraised.

5 Strangest Weapons of the Last 100 Years!

Throughout the 20th century, people have devised a wide variety of exceptionally destructive and effective weapons. However, many of them were never deployed, and others soon faded into the forgotten realms of our history. Here is a quick rundown of 5 strangest weapons ever devised in last 114 years. 5. Bat Bomb Bat bombs, codename…

Throughout the 20th century, people have devised a wide variety of exceptionally destructive and effective weapons. However, many of them were never deployed, and others soon faded into the forgotten realms of our history. Here is a quick rundown of 5 strangest weapons ever devised in last 114 years.

5. Bat Bomb

Bat bombs, codename “Project X-Ray”, were one of the many experimental weapons developed during the World War II by the United States. Originally designed by Lytle S.Adams, a dentist from Pennsylvania, it was approved for military use in January 1942.

The bomb would be composed of a large casing with multiple accounts, each housing several Brazilian free-tailed bats. The bats would have a small, timed napalm bomb attached to their bodies. After the bombs would be dropped from bombers, the casings would open, releasing the bats to the open space. At dawn, all bats would then hide inside the attics of Japanese buildings, ignite, and set them on fire.

Because most of the buildings in WWII Japan were composed of bamboo, wood and paper, they were especially vulnerable to fires. By March 1943, Louis Fieser, inventor of military napalm, designed one ounce (28 g) incendiary bombs, lightweight enough to be transported by the bats. Each bomb was designed to contain 40 bats, and it was estimated, that one B-24 bomber could carry more than 100,000 bats, each equipped with a small napalm bomb.

Bomb was successfully tested in August 1943, on a mockup of Japanese village built in Utah. Results showed that the Bat Bomb was about ten times more effective than conventional incendiary bombs, starting much more fires on a significantly wider radius. First military use on Osaka Bay in Japan was scheduled to be carried out in July 1944, however, it was soon canceled, because the development of Project X-Ray moved too slowly.

4. Dart Bomb

Originally developed by the British at the height of the Second World War, dart bombs were designed to shower enemy soldiers with thousands of poisoned darts, made from sewing machine needles, bringing death in few minutes.

In February 1942, military scientists showed the project to Singer Sewing Machine Company, and asked them to provide the needles. Military strategists in wartime Britain believed, that massive amount of small darts, each weighing just 0.1 ounces (4 g), could have significantly more effective against enemy soldiers on open field than bombs or poisonous gas.

According to approved design, each bomb would contain more than 30,000 zinc darts, each provided with a paper tail and containing a small amount of poison in its hollow section. If it managed to penetrate into the flesh, it would cause death within 30 seconds. If removed, collapse would occur within five minutes, and death within 30 minutes.

When tested on sheep, they were rendered unconscious within one minute, and died within 10 minutes. Effects of the poison included acute diarrhea, salivation and heavy sweating.

The research was abandoned in early 1945, because the poison dart bombs were considered highly uneconomical and unpractical, in addition, enemy soldiers could completely protect them from the darts by taking cover.

3. Military Dolphins

Before few decades, the United States and Russian armies have found a surprising new animal to exploit for military means – a dolphin.

In the United States, dolphins have been allegedly serving in the Navy more than 40 years, being part of the Marine Mammal Program. Used during the Vietnam and Iraq Wars, these highly intelligent mammals were trained for detecting, locating and marking of marine mines, and also suspicious enemy divers.

The US Navy never trained its dolphins to or injure or kill humans in any way, or to carry weapons of destruction. In the past, they have allegedly saved more lives in open water than specifically trained rescue teams. About 75 dolphins are currently serving in the United States Navy Marine Mammal Program.

However, Russian military is also known for “employing” dolphins for military purpose. In the past, Russian military dolphin program was believed to be abandoned in early 1990s, however, recent reports suggest otherwise.

In contrast with reliably peaceful purpose of these cetaceans in US Navy, Russians are known for training their dolphins to lay underwater mines, kill enemy divers using harpoons, or even to destroy ships and submarine methods kamikaze-style using explosives. On March 2013, a group of dolphins armed with harpoons allegedly escaped from a Ukrainian naval base in Sevastopol, in search for feasible mates. Fortunately for everyone swimming in the Black Sea, they returned back after few days.

2. Exploding Dogs

After Hitler's invasion to Soviet Union, a new and ethically dubious strategy was deployed by the Russian Army as an attempt to halt the advancing Germans. Dogs equipped with explosives were released to disable or destroy enemy tanks – and also themselves during the process.

These dogs, usually German Shepherds, were trained for carrying bombs on their backs under enemy tanks, where they were then detonated. At first, they were starved, and then dog food was placed under the tank, training them to search for food there, while in the battlefield.

This idea was first developed in early 1930s by the Soviet army, and in 1935, anti-tank dog units were officially included in the Soviet Army. Although the original plan was to let the dogs to leave the explosives under enemy tank and then retreat, so that the bomb would be detonated remotely, this routine was failed and was subsequently replaced by an automatic detonation procedure, blowing the dogs up in the process.

There were several reasons that the first method did not work. To drop the bomb, the dogs had to pull a strap with their teeth, however, they often simply returned to their handlers without actually releasing the explives. In addition, timers were too expensive at the time to be used practically, and also posed significant danger to the dog handlers.

However, a much larger problem soon appeared; the dogs had been trained to run under Soviet tanks, not German ones. Because German tanks used a different type of fuel, dogs, accustomed to the scourge of Soviet fuel, often turned around and destroyed the tanks used by the same army that trained them.

While the Soviets were probably the most predominant users of anti-tank dogs, they were also trained in other countries, including Nazi Germany, Japan and the United States of America. Much more recently, anti-tank dogs were also unsuccessfully used by Iraqi insurgents in year 2007.

1. Gay Bomb

People do not normally associate the slogan “make love not war” with the US military. However, in year 1994 the Wright Laboratory of the US Air Force proposed a research for the “gay bomb”, a special weapon designed to make enemy soldiers sexually attributed to each other.

It was based on a idea, that a strong aphrodisiac or pheromone sprayed over or dropped on enemy soldiers could cause “homosexual behavior”, leading to disasteful demoralization.

Nonetheless, the gay bomb was never manufactured. Its main premise of homosexual behavior posing a major risk to the army morale and disabling the military effectivity was homophobic and inherently flawed. In addition, the scientists soon found out, that so far, no such “gay” pheromones had been discovered.

The report from the Wright Laboratory also included many other strange ideas, such as covering enemy troops with strong bee pheromones, and then releasing large amount of bees in the combat area, and even a chemical weapon giving the enemy soldiers bad breath.

For their attempts for creating a gay bomb, the Wright Laboratory won the Ig Nobel Peace Prize in year 2007.

4 Wicked War Machines of the Last 100 Years

Some of the greatest innovations through the human history have been made in the military field. However, many of them were never deployed, and others soon faded into the forgotten realms of history. Here is a quick rundown of 4 strangest and most wicked war machines ever devised, both real and envisioned ones. 4. Paris…

Some of the greatest innovations through the human history have been made in the military field. However, many of them were never deployed, and others soon faded into the forgotten realms of history. Here is a quick rundown of 4 strangest and most wicked war machines ever devised, both real and envisioned ones.

4. Paris Gun

This gigantic cannon, designed by German artillery engineer Fritz Rausenberger, and manufactured in Essen, weighed about 256 tonnes without its special steel chassis. It was composed of 85 feet long 210 mm-caliber barrel, which was inserted in caliber 380 mm “Long Max” cannon (previously used as naval gun).

Cannon was so long, it had to be supported by special steel framework to prevent unwanted bending. It was designed to shoot projectiles weighing about 94 kg to the distance of more than 90 miles. During their 170-second flight, they reached speeds up to 3,600 miles a hour, and altitudes of about 25 miles. That makes them first man-made objects to enter stratosphere.

Although the Paris Gun was a masterpiece from technical point of view, it did not show up as really effective weapon. It's aim was very limited, it was operated by crew of 80 men, and its barrel could withstand only about 65 separate shots. In addition, specific shell had to be used every time the gun fired. Shells were numbered, and each of them was a little bit bigger, to fit into widening barrel.

Only about 350 shells were ever fired from the cannon to the city of Paris, with average daily frequency of 20. They caused around 250 deaths, and 620 injuries.

At the end of First World War, cannon was transported back to Germany and subsequently destroyed.

3. Dr. Zippermayr's Whirlwind Cannon

During his research in aerodynamics, Austrian physicist and also member of the Austrian Nazi Party Mario Zippermayr (1899 -?) Came to a conclusion, that heavily pressurized whirlwinds have a capability of destroying or severely damaging enemy aircraft.

After he managed to break 4-inch strong piece of wood from the distance of 550 feet, he was allowed to construct a gun large enough to shoot Allied fighters down.

Zippermayr's team managed to build two anti-aircraft whirlwind cannons. Specifically shaped nozzles served to direct pressurized whirlwinds, produced by explosions in cannon's combustion chamber.

However, first tests soon showed that cannon was unusable. Whirlwinds produced did not reach even close to altitudes, where Allied aircraft is commonly operated.

Although Mario Zippermayr soon tried to increase the cannon's range, war ended before it was fully operational. Allied forces managed to capture one of the cannons in Sachsen-Anhalt, and the second cannon was destroyed at the end of war during its transport to Frankfurt.

2. Tsar Tank

Tsar Tank, also known as the Bat Tank (Netopyr), was an unusually-shaped armored vehicle originally developed for the Imperial Russian Army. This three-wheeled vehicle was designed in late 1914 by Russian engineers Nikolai Lebedenko, Nikolai Zhukovsky, Boris Stechkin, and Alexander Mikulin.

Tsar Tank significantly different from modern tank design, using tricyclic design. Its two giant front spokes were about 27 ft (9 m) in diameter, however, the back wheel was only 5 ft (1.5 m) high. Each of two large wheels was powered by a 190 kW (250 hp) Sunbeam engine.

The main turret of the Tsar Tank reached height of more than 24 ft (8 m), two smaller turrets were located on the sides, and other two under the main framework. The vehicle received its nickname (netopyr = bat) because with its back wheel pointing upwards, it allegedly resembled a bat hanging while sleep.

The huge wheels were included to cross major obstacles. However, during the first experimental tests of the tank, its small back wheel became stuck in the muddy ground, and the front wheels were insufficient to pull it out. Tsar tank remained stuck in the same location, about 40 miles from Moscow, until year 1923, when it was finally towed away and disassembled.

1. Project Habbakuk

During Second World War, the British planned to build a gargantuan aircraft-carrier out of pykrete (a mixture of wood pulp and ice).

Idea of ​​building a ship from this material was first conceived in year 1942 by Allied engineer Geoffrey Pyke, and subsequently expanded by British Admiral Lord Mountbatten. Habbakuk was designed to be more than 1950 feet long and 330 feet wide, in comparison, Prelude FLNG, largest ship ever built, is 1601 ft long and 243 ft wide.

Ship was planned to be composed from pykrete, a frozen mixture of 86% water and 14% wood pulp. Its 35 feet wide walls were designed to be refrigerated from inside by strong cooling fans.

Habbakuk was designed to be propelled by 28 giant screw propellers.I ts crew was to be composed of 3590 men, including more than two hundred aircraft pilots.

Although Pyke managed to build a working 60-feet long model of the ship, project was soon abandoned due to severe expenses required for the construction of such a ship.

4 Deadliest Chemical Weapons

During the World War I, a new, deadly type of weapon was used for the first time; toxic gas. Considered uncivilized prior to the war, the development and military use of poisonous gas grenades was soon called for by the demands of both sides to find a new way to overcome the stalemate of unforeseen…

During the World War I, a new, deadly type of weapon was used for the first time; toxic gas. Considered uncivilized prior to the war, the development and military use of poisonous gas grenades was soon called for by the demands of both sides to find a new way to overcome the stalemate of unforeseen trench warfare.

First used at the Second Battle of Ypres on 22 April 1915, cylinders filled with toxic gas soon became one of the most destructive and effective weapons used in the great Great War, killing more than 90,000 soldiers and injuring about 1.25 million. In this article, we are going to explore the 4 of most deadly chemical weapons ever conceived, their history, usage, and effects on the human beings.

4. Mustard Gas (Yperite)

While Germans were leaving the mustard gas in year 1917 near the Belgian city of Ypres for the first time, chemist Frederic Guthrie was most likely turning in his grave. In year 1860, this British professor discovered the mustard gas, and also experienced its toxic effects first-hand for the first time. 57 years later, after its first military usage at Ypres, it got its infamous nickname, Yperite.

In the beginning, Germans planned to use the mustard gas only as a paralytic agent. However, they soon found out, that when in sufficient concentrations, this gas could easily lead to the majority of the enemy soldiers.

Due to its dangerous properties, mustard gas soon became a popular chemical weapon, used in WWII, during the North Yemen Civil War, and even by Saddam Husein in year 1988. Even 150 years after its discovery, antidote is still to be discovered.

Pure mustard gas is colorless, oily liquid at room temperature. When used in its impure form, as warfare agent, it is typically green-brown in color and has an exact odor resembling mustard or garlic, hence the name. Yperite fumes are more than 6 times heavier than air, staying near the ground for several hours, effectively filling and contaminating enemy's trenches, and killing everyone without proper protection.

Lethal dose for an adult man weighing 160 lbs is approximately 7.5 g of liquid mustard gas, when in contact with his skin for several minutes. However, when used in its gaseous form, lethality greatly depends on its concentration and on the length of exposure. Gas mask is usually not enough to be protected from this gas; it can easily penetrate the skin and kill the victim from inside. It easily passes through most of the clothes, shoes or other materials. For instance, standard rubber gloves could protect the skin for only about ten minutes.

4 or 6 hours after exposure, burning sensation appears in the affected areas, followed by reddening of the skin. After next 16 hours, large blisters appear on the affected skin, slightly causing severe scarring and sometimes even necrosis. If the eyes were affected, temporary or permanent blindness typically occurs after few days.

When inhaled, first symptoms start to manifest themselves after several hours, starting with chest pain, bloody coughing and vomiting, followed by muscle spasms. Death usually occurs within 3 days, caused either by lung edema or heart failure.

3. Phosgene

In year 1812, 22-year old British amateur chemist John Davy synthesized the phosgene gas for the first time. However, it did not contain any phosphorus, its name was derived from greek words phos (light) and gennesis (birth) . J ohn Davy probably assumed that his invention would have been used in a more sensible way, however, on 9th of December, 88 tons of phosgene were released during the trench warfare in France, killing 69 men and seriously injuring more then 1,200.

Germans were satisfied by the results, so they soon started using grenades filled by phosgene in combat. It accounts for more than 60% of all deaths caused by the chemical warfare during the First World War, more than chlorine and mustard gas combined.

During the Second World War, most soldiers were well-prepared for the possible use of this deadly gas, so the casualties were now that high. However, phosgene-filled grenades used during the 1942 Battle of Kerch by Nazi Germany allegedly injured at least 10,000 Soviet soldiers.

Which deadly properties does this gas possess? At low temperatures, it is a colourless liquid. However, when heated to more than 8 degrees Celsius, it evaporates quickly. Its odor has been often described by the survivors as pleasant, similar to newly mown hay or wet grass. After release, it contaminates the area for about 10 minutes, double the time in the winter. When compared to chlorine, phosgene has a major advantage; first symptoms start to manifest themselves after much longer time period, usually after more than five minutes, allowing more phosgene to be inhaled.

After one inhales high concentrations of this lethal gas, his chances of survival are very mild. After few minutes, he is likely to die of suffocation, because phosgene aggressively disposes the blood-air barrier in the lungs.

After inhaling less concentrated phosgene, you might be little bit better off. One hour after exposure, first symptoms include strong burning sensation in pharynx and trachea, severe head and vomiting, followed by pulmonary edema (swelling and fluid buildup), which often leads to suffocation.

To this day, phosgene remains one of the most dangerous chemical weapons in the world. Although not as deadly as sarin or nerve gas, it is very easy to manufacture; no wonder it's often used during terrorist attacks. Homemade phosgene grenade can be easily created by exposing a bottle of chloroform to UV-light source for a few days.

2. Sarin

If previous two chemicals were not dangerous enough, here comes the sarin, often known as the most powerful of all nerve agents.

Sarin was developed back in 1938 by a group of 4 German scientists, S charder, A mbros, R udiger and van der L in de, during their research of pesticides. During the WWII, this deadly gas was first used by the Nazi Germany in June 1942. At the end of the war, Germany allegedly possessed more than 10 tons of sarin.

However, it is most famous for being used during the 1995 terrorist attack on the Tokio subway by a Japanese cult Aum Shinrikyo, killing 13 people and allegedly injuring more than 5,000. It was also used back in August 2013 by al-Assad's forces in Ghouta, Syria, killing more than 1,700 people.

Sarin belongs to the group of nerve gasses, the deadliest of all toxic gasses used in chemical warfare. It is highly toxic; a single drop of sarin the size of the head of a pin is enough to kill an adult human. In addition, most of the victims usually die few minutes after contamination.

It usually enters the organism via respiration, but it can also penetrate the skin or be ingested. In home temperature, sarin is a colourless liquid without significant odor, similar to water. However, when exposed to higher temperatures, it starts to evaporate, being still odorless. After release, it often leaves deadly for more than 24 hours.

Immediately after exposure, first symptoms include strong headaches, increased salivation and lacrimation (secretion of tears), followed by gradual paralysis of the muscles. Death is caused by asphyxiation or heart failure.

According to some sources, Sarin is 500 times more deadly than kyanide, with its lethal dose being only about 800 micrograms. Only 5 tons of sarin, obviously properly dosed, would be enough to wipe out entity humanity.

1. Agent Orange

This mixture of two herbicides, most famous for its use in Vietnam War, is not a chemical weapon in the true sense of the word. It was discovered in year 1943 by American botanic Arthur Galston. In year 1951, further research started by the scientific team in the military base of Detrick, Maryland.

During the War of Vietnam, it was widely used for deforestation of the large areas covered by thick jungle, to enable easier and more effective bombing of enemy bases and supply routes. Although designed as herbicide, the Agent Orange also contained large amounts of dioxin, a highly toxic compound, making it one of the most deadly chemical weapons ever deployed.

In years 1962-1971, military operation with code names “Ranch Hand” or “Trail Dust” took place in Southern Vietnam. During this operation, jungles in the region were heavily shaved by this herbicide, primarily in the areas of Mekong delta. Mixture was stored in orange barrels, hence the name “Agent Orange”. During the operation, more than 20 million gallons of this dangerous chemical were used, destroying large areas of jungle, contaminating air, water and food sources.

In high concentrations, dioxin causes severe inflammation of skin, lungs and mucous tissues, sometimes resulting in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, pulmonary edema, or even death, however, it also affects eyes, liver and kidneys. It is also highly effective carcinogen, known for causing laryngeal and lung cancer.

It is estimated, that the usage of Agent Orange during the Vietnam War led to more than 400,000 people being killed or maimed, and 500,000 children born with mild to severe birth defects as a result of contamination. Agent Orange alone killed 10 times more people than all other chemical weapons combined.

5 Largest Giants in History!

Throughout the history, people were always amazed by plethora of stories and legends about mythical giants, people or gods reaching incredible heights. While most of them were nothing more than myths, for instance Goliath, King Og or the Titans, some of these legends were based on real foundations. We have many records of incredibly high…

Throughout the history, people were always amazed by plethora of stories and legends about mythical giants, people or gods reaching incredible heights. While most of them were nothing more than myths, for instance Goliath, King Og or the Titans, some of these legends were based on real foundations.

We have many records of incredibly high people living in the past. Although some of them are greatly exaggerated, many are backed by solid evidence. In this article, we are going to explore the lives and feats of 6 most famous historical “giants”, and maybe even find out how they grow to such an exceptional height.

1. Robert Wadlow

Robert Pershing Wadlow, often known as the Giant of Illinois, was the tallest man who ever lived.

Born to Addie Johnson and Harold Wadlow in Alton, Illinois on 22.nd of February, 1918, he was the oldest of five children. Few months after his birth, he was diagnosed gigantism, a rare genetic disorder that causes over-production of growth hormone. During his childhood, he was growing quickly, reaching height of more than 3 feet 6 inches (106 cm) at the age of only 11 months, outgrowing both of his parents at the age of six and reaching 200 cm at the age of eleven.

During elementary school, he had to sit in special desk made for him, because of his exceptional heigh and weight (180 pounds). In 1936, after he graduated from Alton High School, he was 8 feet 4 inches (2.55 m) tall. His size soon began to take its tool; Robert Wadlow needed special leg braces to be able to walk, and lost feeling in his feet. However, he never used a wheelchair.

In 1936, Wadlow went on a US Tour with the Ringling Bros. Circus, and continued to participate in various tours and public appearances, until his death in 1940, caused by parasitic infection (only 22 years old). After his death, he was buried on July 19, in a 10-feet long (3 m) long coffin, weighing more than 1,100 pounds. Thousands of people attended his funeral in Upper Alton.

Eighteen days before his death, he was measured at 8 feet 11.1 inches (2.72 m), more than any other human in history. His shoe size was 37AA, largest in the world, and at the age of 21, one year before his death, his weight was recorded as being 492 pounds.

Little known fact; Robert Wadlow was also a Freemason, and his ceremonial ring was the largest ever made.

2. Angus MacAskill

Although this Scottish-born Canadian (1825 – 1863) was not as tall as other people on this list, he was the tallest recorded “natural giant” in history, suffering from no growth abnormalities, with perfectly normal proportions. He was also the strongest man to live in modern history, and had the largest chest circumference of any non-obese man; about 80 inches (200 cm).

Angus MacAskill was born in the Hebrides, Scotland, in year 1825. According to historical sources, as a baby, he was not as large as the other children.During his childhood, he was also of normal stature, however, after he entered puberty , he started to grow rapidly and by his 24.th birthday he had attained about 7 feet 9 inches (2.36 cm). During much of his adulthood, he is said to weigh more than 500 pounds (230 kg). His hands were eight inches wide and more than a foot long, and his shoes 17.5 inches (44 cm) long. According to historical sources, Angus McAskill had deep-set blue eyes, curly black hair, a deep musical voice, and a pleasant personality.

McAskill was well-known for his immunity strength. He allegedly managed to lift an 2,800-pound (1,300 kg) ship anchor to shoulder height, and easily towed barrels full of wine under his arms. In year 1849, he started to work for the PTBarnum's circus, touring the Caribbean in 1853. He frequently appeared with Tom Thumb, a natural midget 3 feet 4 inches (102 cm) tall. In year 1854, he allegedly visited Queen Victoria in the Windsor Castle.

However, in 1856, during his famous anchor lifting, he accidently broke his arm when one of his shoulders got caught under one of the anchor's flukes, ending his circus career.

In August 8, 1863, McAskill died peacefully after a week-long illness. Exact cause of death remains unknown, but it was probably meningitis.

3. John Rogan

John Rogan, the second tallest person to ever live, was born in Tennessee, between years 1865 and 1868 (exact year unknown). During his childhood, he was of normal stature, however, only until his 13.th birthday, when he started to grow rapidly.

However, his growth soon led to the development of severe ankylosis (stifness of joints), leaving him completely unable to stand or walk. He then used a goat cart to get around. By year 1899, he had already reached a height of 8 feet 6 inches (2.59), and became a local celebrity, often known as the “Negro giant”. Known for his friendly personality and exceptionally deep voice, he earned for a living by selling portraits and postcards at local train station.

His hands were 11 inches (28 cm) long and his feet 13 inches (33 cm) long. At the time he died in September 1905, he was measured at 8 feet 9 inches (2.67), however, he weighed only 175 pounds. That makes him the second tallest person in history, and also the tallest African American ever recorded.

His body was buried in Sumner County, Tennessee, under concrete panels, preventing anyone to exhume and further examine his remains.

4. Zeng Jinlian

Zeng Jinlian (1964-1982) was the tallest female ever measured in medical history, surpassing the historical world record 7 feet 11 inches, previously set by English woman Jane Bunford (1895-1922). She is also the only woman who has reached verified height of 8 feet or more.

She was born on June 26 1964 in Yuian, China. 4 months after her birth, she started growing rapidly, and at age 4, she had already reached height of more than five feet. Her growth patterns exhibited exceptional similarity to these of Robert Wadlow. On average, she grew 5 inches every year, was able to lift a 110 pound (50 kg) stone at the age of 5, and slept in particular made bed, 8 feet long.

Zheng Jinlian was later diagnosed pituitary tumor, which caused her gigantism, and she was also suffering from diabetes, disease that also caused her death at the age of 17 in Hunan. Few days before her death, she would have been 8 feet 1.75 inches tall, but she could not stand straight because of her severely deformed spine.

5. Maximinus Thrax

However, reports about people of immunity stature are not limited to modern times.

Maximinus Thrax (Gaius Julius Verus Maximinus Augustus), also known as emperor Maximinus I, was an Emperor of Rome in years 235-238. Born in Thrace, since the name Thrax, he was the first emperor never to enter the Rome.

Contemporary sources, most prominent being Historia Augusta depicted Maximinus Thrax as a man of immense size, exhibiting large eyebrows, nose and jaw (symptom of acromegaly). His thumb was allegedly so large, that he often wore a bracelet of his wife as a ring on it. Famous historian Herodian noted:

“He was definitely a man of such frightening appearance and colossal size, that there is no possible comparison at all with any of the best-trained Greek athletes or the most fierce of all barbarians.”

According to historian Cordus, he was approximately 8 foot 6 inches (2.5 m) tall, but exhibiting normal proportions (similar to Angus McAskill). In his works, Cordus notes, that Maximinus was so strong that he could pull an entirely loaded ox cart on his own.

While the exact size of Maximinus will be never known, he was likely to be a man of immense size and significantly taller than the average Roman citizen of his time.

Top 5 Greatest Mysteries in History

1. Tunguska Cauldrons In year 1853, Russian explorer RKMaak allegedly discovered a giant, partly submerged metal cauldron in the region of Tunguska. In following decades, more and more reports about these strange objects appeared, however, their exact origin and function remains unknown to the present day. The area where all these cauldrons were found, is…

1. Tunguska Cauldrons

In year 1853, Russian explorer RKMaak allegedly discovered a giant, partly submerged metal cauldron in the region of Tunguska. In following decades, more and more reports about these strange objects appeared, however, their exact origin and function remains unknown to the present day.

The area where all these cauldrons were found, is today known mostly for the Tunguska event, that happened there in June 1908, and also remains unresolved to this day. Ancient name for this area was Uliuiu Cherkechekh, which translates as “the Valley of Death”.

After the discovery of first cauldrons in 1853, consequent expeditions in 1922, 1930 and 1936 reported finding more of these objects. According to descriptions, most of them were hemispherical in shape, from 50 to 60 feet in circumference, reddish-silvery in color, and entirely made of steel. Their walls were about one inch thick, and their edges were “sharp enough to cut a fingernail”.

Natives reported that during the winter, they often used the cauldrons as a night Shelters because of the unusual warmth radiating from their walls. However, majority of them soon started to exhibit symptoms similar to these of radiation sickness.

Although we have numerous historical reports about these cauldrons, further expeditions from 1950 onwards did not manage to find anything. Were the mysterious cauldrons of Tunguska only a deliberate hoax? Or are they still there somewhere, buried deep in the Siberian soil? Only time will show …

2. Baalbek megaliths

Located in the town of Baalbek, Lebanon, exact origin of these giant stones remains unknown to the present day. Also known as the “trilithons”, they used to form the base of the ancient temple dedicated to god Baal, which, according to archeologists, dates back nearly 8,000 years ago.The original complex was destroyed by ancient Greeks and Romans, during construction of their own temple complex, Heliopolis, however, these giant stones remained, and served as a foundation for the later temples.

Each of the “trilithon” is around 65 feet (20 m) long, 14 feet (4.3 m) high and 12 feet (3.6 m) wide, weighing around 800 tons. They are among the largest ancient monoliths ever made, however, not the largest.

In the quarry nearby lies even more massive building block, sometimes called “Stone of the Pregnant Woman”, weighing around 1,240 tons. Many historians tried to explain the origin of these stones and the way they were transported, however, none of their explanations gained widespread recognition and acceptance so far.

3. Nazca lines

One of the best known mysteries of the South America, these geoglyphs are located in the Nazca Desert in southern Peru. The lines were probably made by removing the uppermost layers of the desert soil, unaware the white bedrock underneath. The largest of these line formations are more than 660 feet (200 m) across, depicting various animals, as hummingbirds, spiders, monkeys, sharks, llamas, jaguars and humanoid figures.

They were first discovered in 1927 by Peruvian archaeologis, and further examined in years 1940-41 by historian Paul Kosok, who proposed a theory that the lines were created for astronomical reasons; as a marks on the horizon, showing the rising points of the sun and other celestial objects.

There are numerous theories, about how the ancient Indians achieved such a geometric accuracy when making the lines. Numerous schools have theoretized, that the use of simple tools, mathematics and surveying equipment would be enough to make most of the lines. According to scientists at the University of Kentucky, these lines could easily be reproduced today, without use of any noticeable technology.

However, their purpose still remains an unsolved mystery. Many experts think that they were representations of constellations, or used for ceremonial purposes.

Alternative theories suggest, that the lines were either work of aliens, or that they were drawn to get extraterrestial attention.

4. Saqqara Bird

The Saqqara bird is strange, bird-shaped wooden object, discovered in 1898 during an excavation of ancient Egyptian tomb of Saqqara. It has been dated to be manufactured sometimes around year 200 BC. According to majority of archaeologists, the Saqqara bird was probably made as a child's toy or a weather vane.

However, unlike other ancient Egyptian avian sculptures, the Saqqara bird has very unusually shaped tail, and is also legels. This has led to various controversial theories, such as being miniature representation of aircraft or glider. Contemporary Egyptian archeologist and parapsychologist Khalil Messinha has speculated, that the bird has a vertical stabilizer on his tail, and its wings were intentally shaped to resemble those of an aircraft.

In year 1942, enlarged models of the Saqqara Bird were tested in aerodynamic tunnel in an attempt to prove this theory, however, the glide performance was disappointing, and models were completely unstable without additionally added tailplane.

Nonetheless, further research has shown significantly better results. According to Simon Sanderson, Liverpool University aerodynamics expert, the Saqqara Bird could actually fly well enough, if not better than many modern gliders, being capable of producing four times its own weight in lift.

5. Baghdad Battery

One of the most baffling archaelogic discoveries of last 80 years, the Baghdad Battery was found in year 1936 in the village of Khujut Rabu, Iraq.

It was composed of three pieces, a terracotta pot, approximately 5 inches (13 cm) tall, with 1.5 inches wide mouth. The pot contained a cylinder composed of a rolled copper sheet, housing a single iron rod, isolated from the cylinder by plugs. According to available evidence, this artifact has been manufactured in the Sassanid period.

In year 1940, German archaeologist Wilhelm König speculated for the first time, that the Baghdad battery could have been used as galvanic cell, for plating gold onto metal objects. This hypothesis was based on object's design, and chemical signs of acidic corrosion on all three parts of the artifact, possibly caused by the use of acidic electrolyte.

However, there are many problems with the interpretation of the artifact as galvanic cell. We do not have any evidence of alleged Sassanid use of electricity, be it wires, conductors or other electrical equipment. According to majority of modern archeologists, the “Baghdad Battery” was actually used as a storage jar for sacred scrolls. Acidic corrosion was caused caused by decay of the papyrus inside, leaving a slightly acidic organic residue.

Top 5 Reasons the Moon Landing Was NOT a Hoax!

On July 20, 1969, during one of the defining moments of the human history, Neil Armstrong became the first man to step on the surface of Earth's Moon. In his own words, it was truly “one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” However, according to many conspiracy theorists, all the US…

On July 20, 1969, during one of the defining moments of the human history, Neil Armstrong became the first man to step on the surface of Earth's Moon. In his own words, it was truly “one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”

However, according to many conspiracy theorists, all the US landings on the moon were faked, and all the photos and videos were made only on the film stage.

The results of recent survey have shown, that about 20% of Americans still believe to this day, that the United States of America never really made it to the Moon. In this article, we are going to look on 5 of the most frequent arguments for the moon landing hoax, and disprove them step-by-step, using the available evidence.

1. The Waving Flag

According to this argument, frequently cited by the people who think that the moon landings were nothing more but a hoax, is that the star-spangle banner of the United States of America appeared to wave and flutter as Neil Armstrong planted it to the ground. This would not have been much of an issue except for the fact that there is virtually no atmosphere on the moon, and therefore no wind whatsever to have such an effect on any flag.

However, if we look closely on the original moon landing footage, we can see that the flag is actually standing still, and not moving in any way during the entire tape. But why is the flag still?

To make the flag stand still on the moon, the flag was actually made from plastic material, similar to the one that tents are usually made of. For practical reasons, the flag was originally folded to maximize space and stored in a thin tube. After Neil Armstrong planed it to the surface of the Moon, it briefly appeared to move as it was unfolding itself to its final shape.

2. Multiple Light Sources

On the moon, there is only one light source surely strong to form shadows; the Sun. So it is solid to suggest that all shadows on the Moon should run parallel to each other. However, this was probably not the case during the moon landing.

Most of the photos and video recordings clearly show that some shadows fall in different directions. Conspiracy theoretics often suggest that multiple sources of light were present, and that all the landing photos and videos were taken in a film studio.

However, the truth is more prosaic. As it is on Earth, the landscape of the Moon is not perfectly flat. Because of the uneven surface with bumps and small hills, shadows cast on different vertical angles had also large horizontal angular differences. On the photo above, shadows of the lunar module and the rocks point in slightly different directions. However, the lunar module is standing on flat ground and the rocks are located on a small bump (similar setting has been also recreated by the Mythbusters, providing the conspiracy wrong)

3. Van Allen Radiation Belts

According to this widely known argument for the fake moon landing theory, the astronauts would not be able even to survive their trip after receiving a lethal dose of radiation, both from the Van Allen radiation belts surrounding the Earth and solar radiation beyond Earth's magnetic field.

However, the truth is, during their own voyage to the Moon and back to Earth, Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins only received amount of radiation equal to about 0.1% of the deadly dose. Their total exposure was approximately 11 milisieverts, and radiation dose lethal to an average human being is aroung 8,000 millisieverts.

The harmful effects of radiation are based both on its strength and the time of exposure to its source. Average human would need to spend nearly four months inside the Van Allen belts to accumulate a lethal dose. The astronauts managed to pass through them during less than one hour. Regarding the time spent out of Earth's magnetic field, where the astronauts were exposed to solar radiation, an average human could endure a radiation exposure equivalent to one-way trip to Mars and still not receive a dose which exceeds lifetime levels set up by NASA.

4. Lack of Stars

Another famous argument for the moon landing hoax is a total lack of stars in the photographic and video evidence – even in the photos and videos of high quality. Here on Earth, when there's a black sky, there is always a lot of stars, so the videos must have been shot on a film stage. Right? Not so fast …

The true reason you can not see the stars in photos and videos of Moon is not that the stars are not there, but rather because of the omnipresent sunlight and the exposure limits of cameras.

When these photos were taken, it was full daylight on the Moon. Because there is only an extremely thin atmosphere on the Moon, the sky appears black. In addition, sunlight at the Moon's surface was incomparably strong with the starlight; the stars simply faded in comparison with the sun. If the astronauts used adequately long exposures, stars would, indeed, be visible.

5. No Satellite Pictures

Even with all of our telescopes on Earth and the incredibly powerful Hubble Telescope, none of them has ever taken any pictures with any of the landing sites of the Moon. This often misleads us to the thought: are they really out there?

It is true that even our most powerful telescopes aimed at the landing sites would not see anything. However, not because the Moon landings did not happen. It is only because of the optical limits of telescopes themselves, because of their limited size and distance from the Moon.

Even though the Moon is much closer than any other major astronomical object, Hubble Telescope still can not register any object on the moon smaller than four meters across.

However, it's not true that we have no satellite pictures of the moon landing sites. In fact, we have a number of satellites orbiting around the Moon which have taken many pictures of all the landing sites before. These images clearly show the equipment left on the moon by astronauts, their footprints, and all the wheel tracks left by their moon-buggies.

During the entire Apollo program, the Soviet Union closely monitored all the transmissions of the astronauts. They would have been absolutely deligated to find it was a hoax. It would have been the greatest propaganda coup of all time. But Apparently, the Soviets also did not find any solid evidence of faked moon landings.

Who Is the Bad Guy To Beat Up On Now – Bring On the Friction of the Day

Many people like to beat up on the 1% of our society, the wealthy folks, but in doing so, even labeling them the “evil 1%” no one seems to realize that 1% is a minority of our population based on the definition of what “minority” actually means. Yet, we also agree that we do not…

Many people like to beat up on the 1% of our society, the wealthy folks, but in doing so, even labeling them the “evil 1%” no one seems to realize that 1% is a minority of our population based on the definition of what “minority” actually means. Yet, we also agree that we do not degrade minorities in our society, because, well, because we are better than that right? Or are we? Think about it, and let me switch gears here.

Now then, I am sure you've heard the song by Rush “Tom Sawyer” with the lyrics;

Though his mind is not for rent
Do not put him down as arrogant
His reserve, a quiet defense
Riding out the day's events

What you say about his company
Is what you say about society
Catch the mist, catch the myth
Catch the mystery, catch the drift

Well those lyrics went ringing through my mind as I watched a recent YouTube Video titled; “Paul Piff: Does money make you mean?” Mind you this was a TED Video so it got plenty of viewing, 10s of thousands watched it on its first run.

Okay so, the batter for the 99-percentents requests a good question, but let me as ask the reciprocal question, right back out him, not to diminish his data, research or attempt to prove his hypothesis, but rather to put up a a mirror of reality between those who blame others for their socio-economic status, while trying to justify how they are a better man / woman for their self-rationalness, and thus, proof positive of their good nature over all. Now here is my rhetorical come back;

Does not having money make people hate the 1% minority?

You see, class warfare others me, I do not feel it is healthy for any society especially one like the USA were everyone is considered equal under the law. Indeed, I am concerned how leftist and populist leaders make arbitrary rules and regulations to steal from those who produce and re-distribute it in such a mean-spirited way – all the while rallying others to hate those who have achieved, there is no honor in crony capitalism or re-distribution – we should demand free-markets, and keep the laws in place that everyone is “Equal Under the Law” nothing more – that goes for unions too.

Now mind you the TED Talk was done by an academic from Berkeley, your basic capitalist hater. In many regards it's the socialist style leadership and class warfare leadership that makes the game unfair. The entire concept of re-distribution as modern day Robin Hoods because of; oh yes, that buzz word again, equality.

So, what do we call the purveyors of such populist class warfare in 2014? Well, how about Today's Tom Sawyer. One has to ask if the sound and fury and friction of the day is helping unite our nation or tear us down, raising us apart, and growing the gap of resentment between the privileged members of both groups; rich and poor. Please consider all this and think on it.

Countess Dracula – Elizabeth Bathory

Countess Elizabeth Bathory – otherwise known as Countess Dracula – has carved quite a notorious name for herself in the history of female monsters. Distantly related to Dracula, and born almost a century after his death, her heinous crimes were not quite on the same scale as his. However, in many respects, she still fills…

Countess Elizabeth Bathory – otherwise known as Countess Dracula – has carved quite a notorious name for herself in the history of female monsters. Distantly related to Dracula, and born almost a century after his death, her heinous crimes were not quite on the same scale as his. However, in many respects, she still fills people with as much disgust and horror as Dracula himself did, mainly because she dared no excuses whatever for her torture of victims. Although, unlike Dracula, she was not really a vampire, she has had great influence on vampire fiction. She also inspired a Hammer horror movie, Countess Dracula (1971), which starred Ingrid Pitt in the title role.

Born Erzsebet Bathory in August 1560 in an area of ​​Hungary bordering Transylvania, she was groomed for high office from the very start. She was fluent in several languages, and at the age of eleven she was engaged to Count Ferencz Nadasdy, the 'Black Hero of Hungary'. She married him at fifteen in a lavish ceremony. As she was more affluent than him, Nadasdy added her surname to his own, and they made their home in Csejthe Castle in northern Hungary.

Whilst her husband was away fighting the Turks, Elizabeth had many steamy affairs with partners of both sexes. She indulged in lesbian orgies at her equally immoral Aunt Klara's mansion in Vienna, and consorted quite brazenly with her manservant Istuan Jezorlay at home in the first few years of her marriage behind her husband's back. However, since these carnal indulgences, she was generally regarded as a good mother to her children.

Elizabeth also became hooked on black magic and the occult, an interest fueled by the self-proclaimed witches Anna Darvulia and Dorottya 'Dorka' Szentes, and derived sadistic pleasure from subjecting her servants to regular beatings for the slightest offense. One poor, unfortunate soul was smeared with honey and left naked in the open air for a whole day. Her children's nanny, Ilooma Jo, had no compunction whatsoever in assisting her in these tortures, and neither did her her other accomplices. Elizabeth especially loved tormenting big-breasted girls under eighteen. There is no record of her ever torturing males.

Although her husband was often subjected to Elizabeth's excesses, he did fuel her imagination with his lurid accounts of mass torture on the battlefields. For example, he taught her a method of torture called 'star kicking', which involved stuffing paper between a maid's toes and setting it on fire. As the girl kicked and screamed in agony, the sheer pain made her see stars.

Elizabeth, by all accounts, was a voluptuously beautiful woman and, all too conscious of this, was known to spend over half a day waiting to her appearance. She also kept a little black box in which she stored a mirror in a pretzel-shaped frame. She would recite incantations before it for up to two hours a day. This behavior probably stemmed from a superstitious belief prevalent in Transylvania at the time that mirrors should have covered up if a dead body was nearby, for fear that their reflection might become an entity that would haunt the living. The reflection was said to be the soul of the person rather than just a simple mirror image.

Elizabeth seems to have been totally obsessed with all these superstitions, believing that blood sacrifices would magically propitiate the spirit within her mirror and preserve her youth and beauty. And when she mixed her vanity with her fascination with the occult, her cruelty reached a new peak in horror. The dread of aging directed in her mercilessly targeting young servant girls, a reign of terror that lasted for ten years.

It all started when a maid snagged her hair whilst brushing it. Others claim that Elizabeth simply spotted a fault with her headdress. Whichever, the Countess became so enragged that she lashed out, drawing blood from the girl's nose and onto her mistress's face. After wiping it off, Elizabeth saw that the area where the blood had spilled had instantly become as clear and smooth as in her youth. This led her to believe that she had discovered the secret of prolonged youth, and she callously had the servant girl beaten and beaten, before draining all her victim's blood into a vat, in which the Countess bathed her whole body. She made this a regular ritual at four in the morning, which she deemed a magical hour.

As Elizabeth's vile misdeeds continued, evidence of her repugnant crimes began to stack up against her. Finally, on December 30th 1610, the authorities, on the orders of King Mathias of Hungary, raided her castle – which was full of butchered bodies – and arrested the Countess.

Although she was neither charged nor convicted for her heinous crimes, Elizabeth Bathory was walled permanently into her bedchamber, with only a small aperture left through which food could be passed. She died four years later, in August 1614.

The Challenges of Learning and Translating Spanish

Spanish is a language that is highly regarded on an international level for its beautiful sounds, cultural appeal and wide-reaching multilateral relevance. This is making learning Spanish a more common goal among people of all backgrounds including hobbyist language learners, keen tourists and even business people. However, Spanish is a language of complexity that stretches…

Spanish is a language that is highly regarded on an international level for its beautiful sounds, cultural appeal and wide-reaching multilateral relevance. This is making learning Spanish a more common goal among people of all backgrounds including hobbyist language learners, keen tourists and even business people. However, Spanish is a language of complexity that stretches far beyond what many people realize. While it is often considered relatively simple for many to master in terms of reading and grasping general grammatical structures, there is significant language variation existent in Spanish around the world. The mass quantities of variations of Spanish that exist make the lives of Spanish learners and translators extremely difficult. Spanish vocabulary and pronunciation change drastically within each country that it is spoken and even within different regions of each country. Being a language that spans vastly across Central America and South America, as well as Western Europe, the variable in Spanish is substantial.

At the foundation of the language's structure, Spanish just sounds different depending on where you hear it. For example, there are numerous variations of allophones to represent different phonemes. While contrary accents and dialects are common in most languages, the amount of variation is amplified in Spanish due to the massive quantities of independent countries that speak the language, the lack of cross-cultural exposure in many of the rural areas of Spanish speaking countries and the amount of land that these Spanish speaking places cover geographically. On top of this, the vocabulary changes significantly from country to country or even region to region. There is a plethora of slang relevant only within certain geographical areas, countless regional nuances and significantly growing impacts from cross-cultural contact. In many cases, a word in one country can mean something completely different in another country, yet in both still maintaining a position as an important part of the language.

The lack of standardization in Spanish vocabulary and the mass amount of variation in Spanish pronunciation create challenges for all learners and translators of the language. In a language like English, it is quite unquestionably that a native speaker of the language would misconstrue the meaning behind the written or spoken speech of another native speaker irrelevant of having different countries or places of origin.

However, the lack of cohesion in Spanish vocabulary and differences in pronunciation resulting from geographical dispersion, cultural differences and political separation can allow for a sentence said or written by one native Spanish speaker to be completely misinterpreted by another native speaker. For Spanish learners and translators alike, this makes it crucial to have strong self-awareness in terms of where language gaps or communication barriers exist that could interfere with one's ability to accurately interpret. The inability to do so could otherwise result in inaccurate translations, unclear communication and, extremely, confusion. For example, with an English to Spanish translation , the translator must very clearly understand their target Spanish speaking audience in order to provide them with an accurate translation suitable for their country or region.

Spanish is a language where both translators and students must be constantly learning about new words and sounds. The significant language variation present in Spanish makes it harder to learn and translate effectively due to inconsistencies in vocation or the meaning of certain words within a vocabulary as well as vast differences in pronunciation. While it is an attractive language to learn for traveling, work and pleasure, the complexity that exists within the Spanish language should not be underestimated. Spanish is a rich and diverse language filled with curveballs and interesting quirks depending on where you learn and speak it.