Archive for the 'Ancient Wonders' Category

Enter Thy Crypt: The Underground Cemetery

Basements are spooky. Cemeteries are spookier. Put them together and what have you got? Extra spooky. But, beautiful and fascinating, these graves seem particularly safe and sound in their underground lair…

 

(Halloween is over, but the Halloween posts never really end here at The Museum of Mysteries do they?)

 

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How a Cemetery Ends Up Underground

by Allison Meier (Atlas Obscura)

 

“There’s no shortage of churches with crypts. However, while these are on the whole designed with the building. there’s one place where something much more unusual happened: the church was built right over a cemetery which it consumed as its crypt.

 

The Crypt at Center Church on the Green in New Haven, Connecticut, is situated among three churches on the New Haven Green, a grassy area downtown that was part of colonist John Brockett’s Puritan city planning for an ideal spiritual city. The Green was given the right dimensions to hold 144,000 people — the number they believed would be saved in the Second Coming of Christ. Judgment Day still hasn’t arrived, and an economic downturn of recent years makes this area less divine and more downtrodden. But go back to the 17th century, and it was bustling, including as a burial ground.

 

Yet in true Poltergeist-fashion, when in the 1820s the graveyard was relocated to the new Grove Street Cemetery, only the headstones were moved. By some estimates there are between 5,000 to 10,000 souls still buried below the Green, although one was disturbed during 2012′s Hurricane Sandy when a tree was dislodged from the ground, and a skeleton was found coiled in the roots. Specifically, a skull was spotted just before Halloween with its jaw swung open as if in a silent howl, while a spine and rib cage remained attached.

 

This is all to say that the Center Church on the Green crypt is just a section of a secret necropolis that’s mostly forgotten. Recently the New York Obscura Society visited the crypt as part of our road trip to New Haven. Entering the church, you see a blazing white interior with fascinating historic details like the pew used by Eli Whitney. Marble engravings above the entrance hint at something more…”

 

For the complete piece, and many photos, click here.

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The Fermi Paradox, Explained

Tim Urban of Wait But Why explains it ALL –

 

(”Where is everybody?”)

 

The Fermi Paradox

By Tim Urban

 

“Everyone feels something when they’re in a really good starry place on a really good starry night and they look up and see this:

 

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Some people stick with the traditional, feeling struck by the epic beauty or blown away by the insane scale of the universe. Personally, I go for the old “existential meltdown followed by acting weird for the next half hour.” But everyone feels something.

 

Physicist Enrico Fermi felt something too—”Where is everybody?”

 

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A really starry sky seems vast—but all we’re looking at is our very local neighborhood. On the very best nights, we can see up to about 2,500 stars (roughly one hundred-millionth of the stars in our galaxy), and almost all of them are less than 1,000 light years away from us (or 1% of the diameter of the Milky Way). So what we’re really looking at is this:

 

When confronted with the topic of stars and galaxies, a question that tantalizes most humans is, “Is there other intelligent life out there?” Let’s put some numbers to it (if you don’t like numbers, just read the bold)—

 

As many stars as there are in our galaxy (100 – 400 billion), there are roughly an equal number of galaxies in the observable universe—so for every star in the colossal Milky Way, there’s a whole galaxy out there. All together, that comes out to the typically quoted range of between 1022 and 1024 total stars, which means that for every grain of sand on Earth, there are 10,000 stars out there.

 

The science world isn’t in total agreement about what percentage of those stars are “sun-like” (similar in size, temperature, and luminosity)—opinions typically range from 5% to 20%. Going with the most conservative side of that (5%), and the lower end for the number of total stars (1022), gives us 500 quintillion, or 500 billion billion sun-like stars.

 

There’s also a debate over what percentage of those sun-like stars might be orbited by an Earth-like planet (one with similar temperature conditions that could have liquid water and potentially support life similar to that on Earth). Some say it’s as high as 50%, but let’s go with the more conservative 22% that came out of a recent PNAS study. That suggests that there’s a potentially-habitable Earth-like planet orbiting at least 1% of the total stars in the universe—a total of 100 billion billion Earth-like planets.

 

So there are 100 Earth-like planets for every grain of sand in the world. Think about that next time you’re on the beach…”

 

For the rest, click here.

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The Resurrection of an Egyptian Princess…

May you be merry this Halloween and dance alongside the spirits…

 

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Also, we hope you watch and enjoy this film! –  The Monster by Georges Méliès. (It’s about an attempt to bring an Egyptian princess back to life…)

 

 

“A 1903 film directed by French filmmaker Georges Méliès and, as is common with his films, starring the man himself. The story centres on the chaotic, and ultimately futile, attempt to bring a dead Egyptian Princess back to life. According to the Lubin Catolog:

 

An Egyptian prince has lost his beloved wife and he has sought a dervish who dwells at the base of the sphinx. The prince promises him a vast fortune if the dervish will only give him the opportunity of gazing once more upon the features of his wife. The dervish accepts the offer. He brings in from a neighboring tomb the receptacle containing the remains of the princess. He opens it and removes the skeleton, which he places upon the ground close beside him. Then, turning to the moon and raising his arms outstretched toward it, he invokes the moon to give back life to her who is no more.

The skeleton begins to move about, becomes animated, and arises. The dervish puts it upon a bench and covers it with a white linen; a masque conceals its ghostly face. At a second invocation the skeleton begins again to move, arises, and performs a weird dance…”

 

- Read more about it here, at the fabulous Public Domain Review.

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