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The Real Dr. Frankenstein

Dr. Andrew Ure, (1778 – 1857), was a Scottish scholar, chemist, and doctor. He was a Professor of Natural Philosophy, specializing in chemistry and physics, at the Andersonian Institution in Glasgow in 1804. His evening lectures on chemistry and mechanics enjoyed considerable success. But Dr. Ure had a slightly darker side. A popular idea of his day was that electricity was the key to life and could be used to reanimate dead bodies, bringing them back to life.

In 1818 Ure revealed the experiments he had been carrying out on the corpse of a murderer/thief named Matthew Clydesdale, after the man had been executed by hanging. He decided to perform one of his experiments in front of an audience of his fellow doctors and students. He explained to his audience his belief that in cases of suffocation, drowning or hanging, that life could be restored by stimulating the phrenic and supraorbital nerves. Ure then began his experiment.

He proceeded to cut into the corpse and insert electrodes into the incisions. At first, the corpse actually simulated breathing. When the supraorbital nerve was excited, Dr. Ure states, “…every muscle in his countenance was simultaneously thrown into fearful action; rage, horror, despair, anguish, and ghastly smiles, united their hideous expressions in the murderer’s face…” The scene took an even more bizarre turn when one of Ure’s assistants was actually kicked by the corpse, sending him flailing to the floor. The display proved too much, as most of the audience quickly fled the scene. One man was so taken aback by what he saw, he passed out.

Via: CuriousHistory

The Number Stations

Numbers stations are mysterious shortwave radio channels of indiscernible origin that exist in countries all across the world and have been reported since World War 1. They are identifiable by the unusual contents of their broadcasts: seemingly random sequences of numbers, words, letters, tunes, and Morse code, usually spoken by artificially generated voices of women and children.

The most common theory regarding the purpose of these bizarre stations is that they’re used by governments the world over to secretly transmit encrypted commands and messages to spies. That said, even though numbers stations have been discovered all over the globe and in any number of different languages, no government has ever officially acknowledged their existence. While the espionage theory is a logical one, with no official confirmation of their purpose the jury is still out.

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One particularly odd station, UVB-76, has existed since the late 1970s and has broadcast a simple, repetitive buzzing tone 24 hours a day ever since. On very rare occasions, however, listeners have reported a Russian voice interrupting the buzz to read out sequences of numbers and words, always in a consistent format — this happened once in 1997, once in 2002, once in 2006, 56 times in 2010, and 14 in 2011. As with all numbers stations, its true purpose is and will probably remain unknown, but the increase in frequency of whatever it’s doing is certainly odd.

You can listen to well over 100 recordings of numbers stations for free on archive.org but be forewarned that they’re all kind of, well, eerie. They feel like something you shouldn’t be listening to, which stands to reason since apparently you’re not supposed to know they exist.

Via: NowYourAfraidoftheDark

The Self-Immolation of Thích Quảng Đức

On June 11th 1963, Thích Quảng Đức, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, sat down in the middle of a busy intersection in Saigon, covered himself in gasoline, ignited a match, and set himself on fire. Đức burned to death in a matter of minutes. He was immortalized in a photograph taken by a reporter who was in Vietnam to cover the war. All those who saw this spectacle were taken by the fact that Duc did not make a sound while burning to death. Đức was protesting President Ngô Đình Diệm’s administration for oppressing the Buddhist religion.

Via: ThatWasNotInOurHistoryBooks

The Mystery of the Lost Colony of Roanoke and the “Dare Stones”

The origins of one of the America’s oldest unsolved mysteries can be traced to August 1587, when a group of about 115 English settlers arrived on Roanoke Island, off the coast of what is now North Carolina. Later that year, it was decided that John White, governor of the new colony, would sail back to England in order to gather a fresh load of supplies. But just as he arrived, a major naval war broke out between England and Spain, and Queen Elizabeth I called on every available ship to confront the mighty Spanish Armada. In August 1590, White finally returned to Roanoke, where he had left his wife and daughter, his infant granddaughter (Virginia Dare, the first English child born in the Americas) and the other settlers three long years before. He found no trace of the colony or its inhabitants, and few clues to what might have happened, apart from a single word—“Croatan”—carved into a wooden post.

The “Dare Stones”

In 1937, a twenty-one-pound quartz stone was found in a swamp 60 miles west of Roanoke. On one side was a cross and the instruction “Ananias Dare & Virginia went hence Unto Heaven 1591.” On the other were carvings that, when deciphered by faculty at Emory University, were a message from Eleanor Dare to her father, John White, that the colony had fled inland after an Indian attack.

The story told by the stones matched some of the details of Strachey’s account, and a number of academics believed them. During the next three years, nearly forty more stones were found in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. Together, they told a story of the colonists’ journey through the southeast, ending in the death of Eleanor Dare in 1599.

The timing of the discovery, exactly 350 years after the English settlement of Roanoke, made the “Virginia Dare Stones” a perfect story, and the media jumped on it. In 1941, though, an article in The Saturday Evening Post revealed the “discoverers” of the stones to have staged an elaborate hoax. The stones were quickly forgotten by most people, although there are others that state that the article in the Post was biased for “tourist” reasons. There are many scholars that still believe the first stone found to be authentic. But the other forty stones, conveniently “found” after the fact, are definitely suspect and most likely a hoax.

Via: CuriousHistory
See the related Circa71 posting: Two of the Most Mysterious Sites in the U.S.

The Lead Masks Case

The Lead Masks Case refers to the discovery of the bodies of two electronic technicians in Brazil in 1966. The bodies were found in a field wearing impermeable coats and lead masks (usually used to protect against radiation – pictured above).

Even stranger was the discovery of a small notebook beside the bodies with signs and numbers, and a letter in which was written: “16:30 be at the agreed place. 18:30 swallow capsules, after effect protect metals wait for the mask sign”. A waitress who was the last to see them alive said that one of them looked very nervous and kept glancing at his watch. There were no obvious injuries on the bodies. Gracinda Barbosa Cortino de Souza and her children, who lived next to the hill where the men died, claimed that they had seen a UFO flying over the spot at the exact moment the detectives believed the two men must have died.

Via: ACuriousHistory

Vertice de Trino, Mexico’s Zone of Silence

Deep in an arid desert region of Mexico lies a little known area that seemingly defies the physics of sound. Known as the Zone of Silence.

Locally as the Vertice de Trino, it is a place where radio waves barely permeate the air. Located between the states of Chihuaua, Coahuila and Durango and only 400 miles from the U.S. Border, something in the area makes it almost impossible to receive radio, television, cell phones or any other sound related transmissions. While the exact cause of this phenomenon has not been fully explained to date, there are many theories abounding that the area has been heavily influenced by past extra-terrestrial and other paranormal activities. Regardless of the cause, the Zone of Silence continues to be a fascinating study into the unknown.

The unique qualities of the region were first discovered when Mexican aviator Francisco Sarabia reported radio trouble while flying over the area in the 1930s. This phenomenon was then later confirmed in 1966 when an organic chemist could not contact fellow team workers on his hand-held radio while conducting a field study. However, full awareness of the unique sound anomalies within the zone did not arise until July 11, 1970. On that date, a faulty U.S. Air Force rocket launched from the White Sands Missile Base in New Mexico went suddenly off course and crashed into the remote desert region. Because the rocket was carrying two containers of radioactive elements, an Air Force recovery team was immediately dispatched to the area where it was once again confirmed that all types of radio signals failed to travel through the air. As a result, research headed by the Mexican government was established to study the unique plant, animal and mineral components of the area in an effort to determine the cause of the drop in signals.

The Zone of Silence is often compared to the Bermuda Triangle, the Egyptian Pyramids, the holy cities of Tibet, Cape Canaveral, all being located between parallels 26 and 28 (Hunt 1984). Soon came the story that just on the other side of the world, somewhere in Tibet or Nepal, there was an area with the same characteristics, so the area is regarded as a center where energy focused ground.

The most commonly held position among scientists for the sudden disappearance of radio waves is the high amounts of mineral deposits in the region. Very high levels of both magnetite and uranium are present, which could create enough electromagnetic pulses to interfere with radio signals. In addition, the region has also received an unusually high level of meteorite activity over thousands of years. This has given rise to speculations that there may be some unusual magnetic properties in the soil arising from the breakdown of meteorite fragments.

The high level of meteorite activity has generated many theories that the region is a vortex where an extraordinary amount of earth energy is concentrated, leading it to be a hot spot for paranormal activities. Numerous reports by local residents of UFO sightings and contact with extra-terrestrial beings have been documented on a regular basis since 1910. Some people have claimed to being witness to “large disks” landing on area hills, while many others describe a regular occurrence of mysterious lights and fireballs in the night skies. Backing the theory of spaceships landing in the area are reports of contacts with alien beings. In all cases, these beings have been described as strange looking blond people wearing long raincoats and ball caps. When asked by a rancher where they came from, their response was “from above”.

How the Zone of Silence disrupts radio signals and seems to attract extra-terrestrial activity has yet to be fully explained. But there is little question that the area contains many phenomenons that continue to defy logical explanations.

Via: Unsolved-Mystery

The Frederick Valentich Disappearance

The Frederick Valentich Disappearance is an event that occurred on October 21, 1978, in which 20-year-old Frederick Valentich disappeared in unexplained circumstances while piloting a Cessna 182L light aircraft over the Bass Strait to King Island, Australia. Prior to his disappearance, Valentich reported via radio that he had encountered an unidentified craft which was moving at the same speed of his plane, and which hovered over him. No trace of Valentich or his aircraft was ever found.

Shortly before Valentich’s last reported contact, plumber Roy Manifold set up a time lapse camera and tripod on the shoreline in order to photograph the sun setting over the water. When his pictures were developed they appeared to show a fast moving object exiting the water. Manifold gave the time that the pictures were taken as being approximately 6:47 pm (18:47 hrs), or 20 minutes before Valentich reported having difficulties. Moments before a strange noise terminated Valentich’s communications, he said: “My intentions are – ah – to go to King Island – ah – Melbourne. That strange aircraft is hovering on top of me again (open microphone for two seconds). It is hovering and it’s not an aircraft.

Via: ACuriousHistory

Gregor MacGregor & Poyais: The Fake Colony

Gregor MacGregor was a Scottish soldier, adventurer, and coloniser who, in 1820, claimed to be ’prince’ of Poyais, a fictional Central American country. He claimed the native chieftain had given him 12,500 mile² of fertile land with untapped resources and cooperative natives eager to please. He had created a civil service, army and democratic government. Now he needed settlers and investment. He sold land for 3 shillings and 3 pence per acre, a very generous price, and also raised a £200,000 loan on behalf of the Poyais government.

He published a guidebook entitled Sketch of the Mosquito Shore, including the Territory of Poyais, descriptive of the country, supposedly written by one Captain Thomas Strangeways. It described Poyais in glowing terms, concentrating on how much profit one could get from the country’s ample resources. The region was even free of tropical diseases.

In 1822 a ship called Honduras Packet set sail to Poyais with 70 settlers aboard. Its cargo included a chest full of “Poyais Dollars”, fictional currency which many of the settlers had converted their pounds sterling to. Another ship later left for Poyais with 200 settlers.

What the settlers found was an untouched jungle; there was no settlement of any kind. They built rudimentary shelters, however, tensions began to build and tropical disease began to take its tole – one man who had spent his life savings on the trip committed suicide. A passing ship, upon hearing the settlers’ story, took them to British Honduras but 180 of the 270 settlers perished during the ordeal.

Officials in the UK were quickly notified (naval ships had to be sent out to tell five other ships that had set out for Poyais to turn back) and the whole story was published in the newspapers. McGregor, however, was already in France, trying to accumulate more investors. In fact, apparently undeterred by having caused the deaths of hundreds of people, McGregor continued the scheme until 1837. He was jailed for a week in 1826 but otherwise went unpunished. He died in 1845.

Via: TheOddmentEmporium