‘The Oppau explosion occurred on September 21, 1921 when a tower silo storing 4,500 tonnes of a mixture of ammonium sulfate and ammonium nitrate fertilizer exploded at a BASF plant in Oppau, now part of Ludwigshafen, Germany, killing 500–600 people and injuring about 2,000 more.
The plant began producing ammonium sulfate in 1911, but during World War I when Germany was unable to obtain the necessary sulfur, it began to produce ammonium nitrate as well. Ammonia could be produced without overseas resources, using the Haber process.
Compared to ammonium sulfate, ammonium nitrate is strongly hygroscopic, so the mixture of ammonium sulfate and nitrate clogged together under the pressure of its own weight, turning it into a plaster-like substance in the 20 m high silo. The workers needed to use pickaxes to get it out, a problematic situation because they could not enter the silo and risk being buried in collapsing fertilizer.
To ease their work, small charges of dynamite were used to loosen the mixture. [..]’
There are a few stories of Thomas Edison’s adventures. Science was extremely dodgy in the past. 🙂 For example:
“I had read in a scientific paper the method of making nitroglycerine, and was so fired by the wonderful properties it was said to possess, that I determined to make some of the compound. We tested what we considered a very small quantity, but this produced such terrible and unexpected results that we became alarmed, the fact dawning upon us that we had a very large white elephant in our possession. At 6 A.M. I put the explosive into a sarsaparilla bottle, tied a string to it, wrapped it in a paper, and gently let it down into the sewer, corner of State and Washington Streets.”
Anything but tranquilizing..
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‘Scientists have identified the single chance encounter about 1.9 billion years ago to which almost all life on Earth owes its existence.
It saw an amoeba-like organism engulf a bacterium that had developed the power to use sunlight to break down water and liberate oxygen.
The bacterium was probably intended as prey but instead it became incorporated into its attacker’s body – turning it into the ancestor of every tree, flowering plant and seaweed on Earth. The encounter meant life on the planet could evolve from bacterial slime into the more complex forms we see today. “That single event transformed the evolution of life on Earth,” said Paul Falkowski, professor of biogeochemistry and bio-physics at Rutgers University in New Jersey. “The descendants of that tiny organism transformed our atmosphere, filling it with the oxygen needed for animals and, eventually, humans to evolve.”’
‘Behavior of young children in a situation simulating entrapment in refrigerators was studied in order to develop standards for inside releasing devices, in accordance with Public Law 930 of the 84th Congress.
Using a specially designed enclosure, 201 children 2 to 5 years of age took part in tests in which six devices were used, including two developed in the course of this experiment as the result of observation of behavior.
Success in escaping was dependent on the device, a child’s age and size and his behavior. It was also influenced by the educational level of the parents, a higher rate of success being associated with fewer years of education attained by mother and father combined. Three major types of behavior were observed: (1) inaction, with no effort or only slight effort to get out (24%); (2) purposeful effort to escape (39%); (3) violent action both directed toward escape and undirected (37%).’
Have you seen the well to do? Up and down Park Avenue..
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‘On the 22nd May 1975 (1974) I was convicted, at the Old bailey, of attempting to kidnap Her Royal Highness Princess Anne.
From the accompanying document entitled ‘Hoax Explanation’ you can see that I did not attempt to kidnap Princess Anne – the whole incident was just an elaborate hoax.
You can also see, from the document, that it is easy to prove the incident was a hoax – all you have to do is prove that the incident took place on the 20th March 1975 and not the 20th March 1974 as the authorities are asserting. This will prove that is was a hoax because it means that, when I was outside, I was living one year behind everybody else and the amount of contact Frank and his associates would have had to have with me to maintain the time deception proves that it would have been impossible for me to plan and execute a real kidnap attempt.
As I am desperate to get out of Broadmoor, I am offering a £1Million reward to the first person who proves the incident was a hoax.’
‘ A group of people claiming to be the heirs of the legendary Knights Templar are suing Pope Benedict XVI, seeking more than $150 billion for assets seized by the Catholic Church seven centuries ago.
They also want to restore the order’s good name. Founded in 1119, the Knights Templar was a secretive order of Christian warriors who protected pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem during the Crusades. They fell out of favor years later, and members were accused of denying Christ, worshipping the devil and practicing sodomy. Many Templars were tortured and burned at the stake.
In 1307, Pope Clement V accused the order of heresy and officially dissolved it. [..]
Last fall, the Vatican published secret documents about the trial of the Templars in a book called Processus Contra Templarios, Latin for “Trial Against the Templars.” The volume included a parchment apparently showing that, contrary to historic belief, Clement had absolved the order of heresy.
Now, a group called the Association of the Sovereign Order of the Temple of Christ has filed suit in a Spanish court, asking for an apology from the pope and recognition that land and property worth about $150 billion today was seized from the Templars.’
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‘Chemistry pupils have flunked O-level questions from 50 years ago, deepening fears that the subject is being dumbed down.
The teenagers were unable to answer questions from the 1960s and 1970s set by the Royal Society of Chemistry.
The average mark for the 1960s questions was just 16 per cent. [..]
Even bright pupils were baffled by many of the old questions, said the RSC chief executive, Richard Pike.
He added: ‘There is no doubt that the clever pupils are as sharp as they ever were, but most are being stifled by an educational system that does not encourage more detailed problem-solving and rigorous thinking.”
‘The Dyatlov Pass Accident refers to an incident that resulted in the death of nine ski hikers in the northern Ural mountains. The incident happened on the night of February 2, 1959 on the east shoulder of the mountain Kholat Syakhl (Холат Сяхл) (a Mansi name, meaning Mountain of the Dead). The mountain pass (N61°45’17”, E59°27’46”) where the accident occurred has been named Dyatlov Pass (Перевал Дятлова) after the group’s leader, Igor Dyatlov (Игорь Дятлов).
The mysterious circumstances of the hikers’ deaths have inspired much speculation. Investigations of the deaths suggest that the hikers tore open their tent from within, departing barefoot in heavy snow; while the corpses show no signs of struggle, one victim had a fractured skull, two had broken ribs, and one was missing her tongue. The victims’ clothing contained high levels of radiation. Soviet investigators determined only that “a compelling unknown force” had caused the deaths, barring entry to the area for years thereafter. The causes of the accident remain unclear.’
‘German police have discovered a well-preserved WWII anti-aircraft cannon in a German man’s garage in part of a series of raids that uncovered more than €100,000 in illegal weapons, German daily Berliner Morgenpost reported on Thursday.
Police discovered the flak cannon, used by the German Wehrmacht in the Second World War, after conducting a search on a family home in the German state of Saxony-Anhalt. The 49-year-old resident was in possession of 200 illegal firearms, one kilogramme of explosives, and 15,000 rounds of ammunition. The anti-aircraft cannon was resting where a car would normally park.
“I thought I’d seen everything, but you can always be surprised,” chief investigator Manfred Schmandra told the paper.’
‘Using tiny brushes and chisels, workers picking at a big greenish-black rock in the basement of North Dakota’s state museum are meticulously uncovering something amazing: a nearly complete dinosaur, skin and all.
Unlike almost every other dinosaur fossil ever found, the Edmontosaurus named Dakota, a duckbilled dinosaur unearthed in southwestern North Dakota in 2004, is covered by fossilized skin that is hard as iron. It’s among just a few mummified dinosaurs in the world, say the researchers who are slowly freeing it from a 65-million-year-old rock tomb.
“This is the closest many people will ever get to seeing what large parts of a dinosaur actually looked like, in the flesh,” said Phillip Manning, a paleontologist at Manchester University in England, a member of the international team researching Dakota.
“This is not the usual disjointed sentence or fragment of a word that the fossil records offer up as evidence of past life. This is a full chapter.”‘
‘Bone-white stretches of salt, leached up from the lifeless soil, lay like a shroud over the high desert where a paranoid Charles Manson holed up after an orgy of murder nearly four decades ago.
Now, as then, few venture into this alkaline wilderness — gold-diggers, outlaws, loners content to live and let live.
But a determined group of outsiders recently made the trek. They were leading forensic investigators searching for new evidence of death — clues pointing to possible decades-old clandestine graves.
And the results of just-completed followup tests suggest bodies could indeed be lying beneath the parched ground. The test findings — described in detail to The Associated Press, which had accompanied the site search — conclude there are two likely clandestine grave sites at Barker Ranch, and one additional site that merits further investigation.
Next step, the ad hoc investigators urge: Dig.’
‘Britain’s biggest teachers’ union has accused the Ministry of Defence of breaking the law over a lesson plan drawn up to teach pupils about the Iraq war. The National Union of Teachers claims it breaches the 1996 Education Act, which aims to ensure all political issues are treated in a balanced way.
Teachers will threaten to boycott military involvement in schools at the union’s annual conference next weekend, claiming the lesson plan is a “propaganda” exercise and makes no mention of any civilian casualties as a result of the war.
They believe the instructions, designed for use during classroom discussions in general studies or personal, social and health education (PSE) lessons, are arguably an attempt to rewrite the history of the Iraq invasion just as the world prepares to mark its fifth anniversary.’
‘Most people believe that the U.S. is interested in Iran for the OIL or the DOMINATION of the Middle East or even the PELT of Ahmadinejad. WRONG. The real reason for attacking Iran is far more MYSTERIOUS and SHOCKING.
The REAL reason the U.S. government and George BUSH are plotting to invade Iran: MAGIC CARPETS.
Most people think that oil that is the real resource the U.S. is after in Iran, but that’s nothing but a falsehood, perpetrated by the CIA and the Pentagon to distract Americans and the world from the TRUTH.
Iran has the world’s largest STRATEGIC supply of MAGIC CARPETS–flying machines that give the otherwise modest Iranian army the ability to carry out QUICK and DEADLY air strikes in complete SILENCE.’
‘The death of Meredith Hunter, an 18-year-old black man who clashed with members of the Hells Angels motorcycle gang guarding a rock-concert stage while The Rolling Stones played “Under My Thumb,” spelled the end of the cultural phenomenon that was the 1960’s, according to many observers. But it also led to an assassination plot against Mick Jagger, according to a former F.B.I. agent who is featured in an upcoming BBC report.
In the aftermath of the ugly incident at the Altamont Speedway in California, which was famously captured on film by documentary filmmakers Albert and David Maysles, the Stones did not use the Hells Angels for security again, and did not support them in the finger-pointing that followed Mr. Hunter’s death. A group of the bikers were evidently outraged enough to want to kill Mr. Jagger, so they set out for his vacation home in the Hamptons, according to Mark Young, the former F.B.I. agent.
“A group of them took a boat, and were all tooled up and planned to attack him from the sea,” Tom Mangold, the host of the BBC program featuring Mr. Young, told The Sunday Telegraph. “They planned the attack from the sea so they could enter his property from the garden and avoid security at the front.”‘
‘Would Julius Caesar or John F. Kennedy have survived if they were attacked in Billings today?
Dr. Terry Housinger, a general surgeon at the Billings Clinic, tackled the topic of famous assassinations at a meeting of the History of Medicine Club, offering his audience of medical students and doctors a chance to reflect on the evolution of trauma care.
After describing the circumstances surrounding each famous assassination, Housinger offered his opinion on whether modern medicine could have saved those high-profile victims if the attack had occurred in Billings today.’
‘Four hundred years after it put Galileo on trial for heresy the Vatican is to complete its rehabilitation of the great scientist by erecting a statue of him inside the Vatican walls.
The planned statue is to stand in the Vatican gardens near the apartment in which Galileo was incarcerated while awaiting trial in 1633 for advocating heliocentrism, the Copernican doctrine that the Earth revolves around the Sun.
Nicola Cabibbo, head of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and a nuclear physicist, said: “The Church wants to close the Galileo affair and reach a definitive understanding not only of his great legacy but also of the relationship between science and faith.”‘
‘High on Mount Sinai, Moses was on psychedelic drugs when he heard God deliver the Ten Commandments, an Israeli researcher claimed in a study published this week.
Such mind-altering substances formed an integral part of the religious rites of Israelites in biblical times, Benny Shanon, a professor of cognitive psychology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem wrote in the Time and Mind journal of philosophy.
“As far Moses on Mount Sinai is concerned, it was either a supernatural cosmic event, which I don’t believe, or a legend, which I don’t believe either, or finally, and this is very probable, an event that joined Moses and the people of Israel under the effect of narcotics,” Shanon told Israeli public radio on Tuesday.
Moses was probably also on drugs when he saw the “burning bush,” suggested Shanon, who said he himself has dabbled with such substances.”
Oh my God, I’m dropping shit like a pigeon. I hope you’re listenin’..
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‘Has the Amber Room, the 18th-century chamber decoration the Nazis stole from the Soviet Union in World War II, finally been found? German treasure hunters say they may have solved the decades-old mystery.
Treasure hunters in Germany claim they have found hidden gold in an underground cavern that they are almost certain contains the Amber Room treasure, believed by some to have been stashed away by the Nazis in a secret mission in the dying days of World War II.
The discovery of an estimated two tonnes of gold was made at the weekend when electromagnetic pulse measurements located the man-made cavern 20 meters underground near the village of Deutschneudorf on Germany’s border with the Czech Republic.’
‘Castro once said: “If surviving assassination were an Olympic event, I’d win the gold medal.”
His bodyguard Fabian Escalante went back through his records and counted 638 attempts to kill the Cuban leader.
Many of them were confirmed in CIA files which were declassified last year.
President Kennedy was said to have asked James Bond creator Ian Fleming for tips on how to wipe out Castro – and many of the attempts to kill or discredit him seem more appropriate to a bad Bond spoof than real life.’
‘The Gilbert Highland High community is outraged that a diorama they helped build has been destroyed after Texas museum officials said it was historically inaccurate.
The 10- by 5-foot diorama of the Battle at Palmetto Ranch, the last land battle of the Civil War, was shipped in August to the Texas Military Forces Museum at Camp Mabry in Austin to be on display along with four other dioramas built by Gilbert students. [..]
Highland history teacher Glen Frakes is especially outraged because more than 7,000 hours were put into the project by his students and other volunteers.
He supervised the after-school project, which involved more than 200 of his students. They helped build, paint and complete the diorama in a little more than three years. [..]
The diorama cost about $23,000, with labor worth between $60,000 and $130,000, Frakes said. [..]
“It looked like someone took their arm and back-swapped the whole thing,” Savoy said. “A master’s thesis doesn’t give you the right to destroy a diorama.”‘
‘As a former child prodigy blessed with chiselled good looks, they called him the David Beckham of the classical violin. Now he is more likely to be known as the lad with the broken Strad.
David Garrett, 26, one of the nation’s foremost young concert performers, had an accident that every world-class musician must dread: at the end of a concert at the Barbican he tripped and landed on his violin.
The instrument is a 290-year-old Stradivarius, so rare that it would be almost impossible to estimate its value. Certainly there are people who would have gladly paid hundreds of thousands of pounds for it, before its glamorous owner did a turn as Mr Bean.
Now he has a badly damaged violin that will be out of use for at least eight months, and may never sound the same again. He is also facing a £60,000 repair bill.’
‘A batch of old documents linked to the slaying of US President John F Kennedy has reportedly been unearthed, the Dallas Morning News said.
The documents are said to include a highly suspect transcript of a conversation between assassin Lee Harvey Oswald and Oswald’s killer Jack Ruby.
The newspaper said the Dallas County district attorney’s office, which uncovered the documents, would display its discovery at a news conference tomorrow.
The Morning News said the items found in an old safe in a Dallas courthouse included personal letters from former district attorney Henry Wade, the prosecutor in the Ruby trial. Ruby shot Oswald two days after the president’s death.
Also found were official records from Ruby’s trial, a gun holster and clothing that probably belonged to Ruby and Oswald, district attorney Craig Watkins told the newspaper.
But one potentially controversial item is a transcript of an exchange between Oswald and Ruby in which they discuss killing Kennedy to halt the mafia-busting agenda of his brother, attorney-general Robert Kennedy.’
‘Mao Zedong proposed sending 10 million Chinese women to the United States, in talks with top envoy Henry Kissinger in 1973, according to documents released today.
The powerful chairman of the Chinese Communist Party said he believed such emigration could kick-start bilateral trade but could also “harm” the United States with a population explosion similar to China, according to documents released by the State Department on US-China ties between 1973 to 1976.
In a long conversation that stretched way past midnight at Mao’s residence on February 17, 1973, the cigar-chomping Chinese leader referred to the dismal trade between the two countries, saying China was a “very poor country” and “what we have in excess is women.”‘
‘Britons are losing their grip on reality, according to a poll out Monday which showed that nearly a quarter think Winston Churchill was a myth while the majority reckon Sherlock Holmes was real.
The survey found that 47 percent thought the 12th century English king Richard the Lionheart was a myth.
And 23 percent thought World War II prime minister Churchill was made up. The same percentage thought Crimean War nurse Florence Nightingale did not actually exist. [..]
Meanwhile, 58 percent thought Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s fictional detective Holmes actually existed; 33 percent thought the same of W. E. Johns’ fictional pilot and adventurer Biggles.’
‘New research shows that people with blue eyes have a single, common ancestor. A team at the University of Copenhagen have tracked down a genetic mutation which took place 6-10,000 years ago and is the cause of the eye colour of all blue-eyed humans alive on the planet today.
“Originally, we all had brown eyes”, said Professor Eiberg from the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine. “But a genetic mutation affecting the OCA2 gene in our chromosomes resulted in the creation of a “switch”, which literally “turned off” the ability to produce brown eyes”. The OCA2 gene codes for the so-called P protein, which is involved in the production of melanin, the pigment that gives colour to our hair, eyes and skin. The “switch”, which is located in the gene adjacent to OCA2 does not, however, turn off the gene entirely, but rather limits its action to reducing the production of melanin in the iris – effectively “diluting” brown eyes to blue. The switch’s effect on OCA2 is very specific therefore. If the OCA2 gene had been completely destroyed or turned off, human beings would be without melanin in their hair, eyes or skin colour – a condition known as albinism.’