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May 09 2013

17:01

6 Unsolved Mysteries Solved On Wikipedia

Wikipedia is often mocked for its perceived lack of truth. Because it’s an encyclopedia built entirely on the contributions of random people, it has a reputation for not always being accurate and truthful. In some ways this assertion is fair… little-known entries (such as those for people you’ve likely never heard of) can be manipulated by pranksters or editors with an agenda, but it’s far from the norm, especially on popular, oft-visited entries.

In fact, Wikipedia can be an important and exhaustive repository of knowledge, helping to demystify myths and explain mysteries most people imagine remain unsolved. With a good amount of sources cited, and the evidence stacking up until it becomes overwhelming in its conclusions, urban legends can be explained away on Wikipedia with surprising ease.

What follows are six well-known mysteries or strange phenomena that have been solved to such a degree that a simple visit to Wikipedia is enough to inform you of the truth. Not all are 100 percent foolproof solutions, but all have been de-mythologized by a consensus of overwhelming evidence.

Gravity Hills

The Mystery: Gravity hills, also known as magnetic hills or mystery hills, are places where the laws of gravity would appear not to exist. If you parked your car on one of these hills and left it out of gear it would appear to travel uphill rather than down.

The Explanation: Gravity hills are the result of nothing more than an optical illusion, though one which suggests nature is trolling us all. When the surrounding landscape is pitched just right and the horizon is obstructed then slight inclines can be mistaken for slight declines.

TL;DR: Gravity hills have more to do with perspective than supernatural forces.

Numbers Stations

The Mystery: Since World War II people have been hearing strange broadcasts made over shortwave radio. These broadcasts consist of nothing but a series of numbers (and sometimes words or Morse code) being read out in an artificially generated voice.

The Explanation: Numbers stations are used to convey messages to spies, with the seemingly random sequence of numbers actually containing messages for those with the key to decoding them. Some criminal organizations are also believed to use them.

TL;DR: Numbers stations are a simple method for sending messages to spies.

Klerksdorp Spheres

The Mystery: These spherical or disc-shaped objects have been found underground in deposits dating back 3-billion years. And yet they have parallel grooves or ridges scored around their circumferences. How could they have possibly got there?

The Explanation: These seemingly out-of-place artifacts look like they’ve been manufactured by intelligent beings, but the uniform shape and lines can be easily ascribed to natural geological processes.

TL;DR: Klerksdorp spheres are natural, and not manufactured by ancient intelligent beings.

Atlantis

The Mystery: The story of Atlantis is one that has been written about for more than 2,000 years. It claims that a naval power based on the island of Atlantis sank into the sea overnight, with explorers having been searching for it ever since.

The Explanation: There likely never was an Atlantis. Instead it was probably a legend borne out of other, older legends or historical events. The latter including volcanic eruptions that wiped out whole cities. Some scholars blame Greek philosopher Plato.

TL;DR: Atlantis is unlikely to have existed; instead being an amalgamation of historical events.

Crop Circles

The Mystery: Each and every year strange concentric circles and patterns appear in fields thanks to the crops being flattened. They have appeared in multiple countries over the past few decades, but the majority occur in England.

The Explanation: While there are some crop circles that remain unexplained, the scientific consensus is that the vast majority are man-made. Natural or meteorological phenomena may account for the others, with extraterrestrial involvement unlikely.

TL;DR: Crop circles are overwhelmingly considered to be entirely man-made in origin.

Bermuda Triangle

The Mystery: The Bermuda Triangle is the name given to an area in the Atlantic Ocean running from Florida to Puerto Rico and Bermuda. It has obtained a reputation thanks to the number of aircraft and ships that have disappeared while in the region.

The Explanation: The total area of the Bermuda Triangle is as much as 1.5 million square miles, and it gets a lot of commercial shipping and flights crossing it. The number of disappearances is no more than anywhere else on Earth.

TL;DR: The Bermuda Triangle is a manufactured mystery built on misconceptions.

Conclusions

At the very least you should now be more informed about the mysteries of myths included in this list. And you have Wikipedia to thank for that enlightenment, with just a smidgen of help from myself. The next time someone brings one of these subjects up in conversation you’ll be able to hold your own. You may want to hold off telling everyone you sourced your information from Wikipedia though, as its (unfortunate and mostly unfair) reputation precedes it.

What are your feelings on Wikipedia as a source of information? Do you trust the knowledge garnered from the online encyclopedia, or do you prefer to use a different domain for sourcing accurate accounts of people, places, and events? Let us know your thoughts on the subject in the comments section below.

The post 6 Unsolved Mysteries Solved On Wikipedia appeared first on MakeUseOf.

April 20 2012

19:01

8 Gory Sites To Get Your Dose Of Cheesy Horror

Let me start this post with a fair warning – if you have a weak stomach get out while you can. The word “cheesy” in the title could prove to be a bit misleading by the time you reach the end of this post. “Cheesy” is synonymous with kitschy, soppy, flimsy, unnecessarily emotional…and a few more words. This post is going to be close and truer to the spirit of the word – gory. You can add gruesome and morbid to it.

The web is not sanitized. You might scream at any of the Top 8 Scary Websites To Spook Yourself & Your Friends. But there’s worse, much worse that goes within the dark portals of the web. So, close the doors, draw the curtains, and click the mouse as I try giving you a dose of the gore at  eight “cheesy” horror sites.

BME: Body Modification Ezine

From the streets of New York to the bylanes of Nanjing, tattoo art is pretty much a 21st Century subcultural trend. But some people can take it really far and turn their bodies into walking canvasses. BME has curated 1.3 million photos and more than 6000 videos on how to turn your body over to pins, needles, and ink. It is a definitive tattoo, scarification, and ritualistic piercing resource.

As the site says – they are the uncommon subculture and community built by and for modified people. The multimedia bytes on the site may be tame stuff for some, but for a person who hates the sight of needles, the tattoo detailing and body modifications (read, mutilation) could be a bit gruesome. Some parts of the site require a subscription.

Celebrity Morgue

Okay, we are getting bit serious now. The Celebrity Morgue is fact and not fiction. It has a short by historically significant list of famous people and their last photos when they were assassinated, murdered, or died of natural causes. Some photos are very disturbing because we know these famous names (e.g. Marilyn Monroe and JFK) only from photos where they presented their best sides to the world…not the worst. One might consider it as tasteless…but it’s there.

The Damaged Corpse

The site is in French, but the images speak the universal language of ‘holy creeps!’ Françoise Duvivier is a wonderfully (and ghoulishly) creative artist who uses mixed media like collages, masks, and dolls to give life to her artistic expression. Here’s a brief profile on her, but follow the title link to glimpse her unique but scary work.

Best Gore

This is a site which can give the well-known Rotten.com a run for its unpleasantness. This is a site that strictly for 18+ audiences. The site has graphic images and videos of bloody, gut wrenching, teeth grinding, offensive and upsetting human conditions. Take the domain name for what it means.

The Blood Factory

The first thing that makes you tingle is the background music. It’s a scare site for sure. And brought to you by none other than Danny DeVito, himself a fan of horror films. The Blood Factory features horror shorts called “Splattercuts”. There are about 16 horror shorts on the site now. You can watch them in the ‘darkened theater’ and vote for them.  The site was launched in 2009, but I am not sure how frequently it is getting updated.

Bloody Fingernail

You always wanted to write on the walls with blood. Here’s your chance. You can use your mouse to stand-in for your chopped finger and write a message on the “Flash” wall. You can then send forth the unique message via email, to whomsoever you want to spook. This is less of a horror site and more of a cheesy prank site.

Programming Language Inventor Or Serial Killer

Turn your thirst for cheesy horror into a chance to bump up your general knowledge. The above screenshot says it all. Play the quiz and find out if you know your serial hacker from your code hacker.

Death And Dementia

If you still haven’t had your fill of gore and horror, maybe the link bank here will lead you towards fulfillment. According to the stats on the site, there are 2600 links of all types, from paranormal anomalies to horror and blood. You have to sift through a lot of links, but they are alphabetically arranged. Such a large directory of links will lead to some sites with broken links, sites which have expired, and also sites which pre-date Web 2.0.

I decided to stop while I was ahead. These eight are just a whiff of the gore you can find on the web, and to be frank these sites are relatively tame. The dark side of the web is definitely not for the squeamish. There are websites that wouldn’t have passed muster with the most liberal censor. It just opens the debate on the dangers of sickening gore being left open on the web. Do your tastes for horror veer towards the macabre? Which is the worst (or the best) cheesy horror site you have come across?

Also, dim the lights and catch these previous posts from our house of the unusual:

Image Credit: u-JU (Flickr)


April 04 2012

01:31

Enter The Twilight Zone With The SCP Foundation

Are you a fan of the unknown? Do you tend to investigate strange encounters that have unexplainable results? In that case, the SCP Foundation may be perfect for you. It’s a site the crosses Kolchak: The Night Stalker with the Men In Black. A place where reality and the ethereal meet.

Right along the lines of Creepypasta, the SCP Foundation is a wiki featuring articles about strange, unusual, and seemingly supernatural entities that “exist” in our world. Written by the community itself, this site is great for having a quick bone-chilling read or building inspiration for your own Twilight-Zone-eqsque creations.

Experience All Things Odd & Terrifying

What is the SCP Foundation? Well, first off, it’s fictional. As much as I wanted it to be real (which may say something about my mental status), it just isn’t, and you’ll discover this if you read the site’s “Guide to Newbies“. However, this is still the perfect site for breaking out a little something called suspended disbelief – otherwise known as “imagination“.

The whole premise of the site is to publish articles about “special containment procedures” of entities called “items” (whether defined as supernatural or not) that are meant to be odd and terrifying at the same time. However, there is an emphasis on the word “odd“. Apparently, the classic standards of vampires and werewolves just won’t do here.

There is also an element of role-play with this whole operation. Basically, you play the part of a record keeper for the SCP Foundation, an organization that “operates beyond jurisdiction, empowered and entrusted by every major world government with the task of containing ‘items which jeopardize normalcy.’”

In essence, think of it like the Syfy show Warehouse 13. However, with this, you really get to immerse yourself in the storyline as well as contribute to creating it.

What Constitutes An SCP?

Right off the bat, you’re probably going to want to spend some time reading these articles, and trust me, they are good reads. However, you may want to contribute to the publication yourself. Granted, there’s a very specific procedure that allows you to contribute, but I’ll just go over how it works.

First off, you will have to select one of the SCP numbers. As a matter of fact, everything is classified by numbers. You’ll also see the “threat level” of the SCP as to whether it’s safe (reliably contained), euclid (an unpredictable “item”), or keter (absolutely dangerous). After this, you’ll be fed information as to how the SCP is contained, exactly. Writers to tend to get pretty creative with this, so it’s worth checking out.

As for the description of each SCP, this is all up to the writer even though a peer review process is required. Take SCP-126, a feminine voice with no physical body (at least not visible) that tends to cause staff to fall in love with her to the point of not even eating. As you can tell, these items are absolutely crazy.

Furthermore, you’re likely to find some joke articles throughout the wiki. The standards are high for articles anyway, so these joke articles may be hard to come by. However, with as absurd the content the SCP Foundation offers, it may be difficult to discern as to what a joke article is and what one isn’t.

Conclusion

The SCP Foundation is a terribly odd site, and it may just send some chills down your spine if you spend too long reading it. However, the creativity on this site is phenomenal, and that’s the truly satisfying part of it.

Furthermore, there is actually a game based on SCP-087 featuring a dark staircase and a whole lot of terrifying noises.

However, a recent development states that you should only download the file from a trustworthy source due to viruses being tagged along to some copies of the file. There is a download link in the video description, but only use it at your own risk.

What other sites do you know of that feature creepy articles? What are some of your favorite articles from the SCP Foundation?


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