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7 of History’s Most Infamous Curses

Posted by jase on July 25, 2009

1. James Dean and “Little Bastard”

On September 30, 1955, James Dean was killed when the silver Porsche 550 Spyder he called “Little Bastard” was struck by an oncoming vehicle. Within a year or so of Dean’s crash, the car was involved in two more fatal accidents and caused injury to at least six other people. After the accident, the car was purchased by hot-rod designer George Barris.

While getting a tune up, Little Bastard fell on the mechanic’s legs and crushed them. Barris later sold the engine and transmission to two doctors who raced cars. While racing against each other, one driver was killed, the other seriously injured. Someone else had purchased the tires, which blew simultaneously, sending the driver to the hospital.

Little Bastard was set to appear in a car show, but a fire broke out in the building the night before the show, destroying every car except Little Bastard, which survived without so much as a smudge. The car was then loaded onto a truck to go back to Salinas, California. The driver lost control en route, was thrown from the cab, and was crushed by the car when it fell off the trailer. In 1960, after being exhibited by the California Highway Patrol, Little Bastard disappeared and hasn’t been seen since.

2. The Curse of Tutankhamen’s Tomb

In 1922, English explorer Howard Carter, leading an expedition funded by George Herbert, Fifth Earl of Carnarvon, discovered the ancient Egyptian king’s tomb and the riches inside. After opening the tomb, however, strange and unpleasant events began to take place in the lives of those involved in the expedition.

Lord Carnarvon’s story is the most bizarre. The adventurer apparently died from pneumonia and blood poisoning following complications from a mosquito bite. Allegedly, at the exact moment Carnarvon passed away in Cairo, all the lights in the
city mysteriously went out. Carnarvon’s dog dropped dead that morning, too. Some point to the foreboding inscription, “Death comes on wings to he who enters the tomb of a pharaoh” as proof that King Tut put a curse on anyone who disturbed his final resting place.

3. “The Club”

If you’re a rock star and you’re about to turn 27, you might want to consider taking a year off to avoid membership in “The Club.” Robert Johnson, an African-American musician, who Eric Clapton called “the most important blues musician who ever lived,” played the guitar so well that some said he must have made a deal with the devil. So when he died at 27, folks said it must have been time to pay up.

Since Johnson, a host of musical geniuses have gone to an early grave at age 27. Brian Jones, founding member of the Rolling Stones, died at age 27 in 1969. Then it was both Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin in 1970 and Jim Morrison the following year. Kurt Cobain joined “The Club” in 1994. All 27 years old. Coincidence? Or were these musical geniuses paying debts, too?

4. “Da Billy Goat” Curse

In 1945, William “Billy Goat” Sianis brought his pet goat, Murphy, to Wrigley Field to see the fourth game of the 1945 World Series between the Chicago Cubs and the Detroit Tigers. Sianis and his goat were later ejected from the game, and Sianis reportedly put a curse on the team that day. Ever since, the Cubs have had legendarily bad luck.

Over the years, Cubs fans have experienced agony in repeated late-season collapses when victory seemed imminent. In 1969, 1984, 1989, and 2003, the Cubs were painfully close to advancing to the World Series but couldn’t hold the lead. Even those who don’t consider themselves Cubs fans blame the hex for the weird and almost comical losses year after year. The Cubs have not won a World Series since 1908 — no other team in the history of the game has gone as long without a championship.

5. Rasputin and the Romanovs

Rasputin, the self-proclaimed magician and cult leader, wormed his way into the palace of the Romanovs, Russia’s ruling family, around the turn of the last century. After getting a little too big for his britches, a few of the Romanovs allegedly decided to have him killed. But he was exceptionally resilient.

Reportedly it took poison, falling down a staircase, and repeated gunshots before Rasputin was finally dead. It’s said that Rasputin mumbled a curse from his deathbed, assuring Russia’s ruling monarchs that they would all be dead within a year. That did come to pass, as the Romanov family was brutally murdered in a mass execution less than a year later.

6. Tecumseh and the American Presidents

The curse of Tippecanoe, or “Tecumseh’s Curse,” is a widely held explanation of the fact that from 1840 to 1960, every U.S. president elected (or reelected) every twentieth year has died in office. Popular belief is that Tecumseh administered the curse when William Henry Harrison’s troops defeated the Native American leader and his forces at the Battle of Tippecanoe. Check it out:

  • William Henry Harrison was elected president in 1840. He caught a cold during his inauguration, which quickly turned into pneumonia. He died April 4, 1841, after only one month in office.
  • Abraham Lincoln was elected president in 1860 and reelected four years later. Lincoln was assassinated and died April 15, 1865.
  • James Garfield was elected president in 1880. Charles Guiteau shot him in July 1881. Garfield died several months later, from complications following the gunshot wound.
  • William McKinley was elected president in 1896 and reelected in 1900. On September 6, 1901, McKinley was shot by Leon F. Czolgosz, who considered the president an “enemy of the people.” McKinley died eight days later.
  • Three years after Warren G. Harding was elected president in 1920, he died suddenly of either a heart attack or stroke while traveling in San Francisco.
  • Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected president in 1932 and reelected in 1936, 1940, and 1944. His health wasn’t great, but he died rather suddenly in 1945, of a cerebral hemorrhage or stroke.
  • John F. Kennedy was elected president in 1960 and assassinated in Dallas three years later.
  • Ronald Reagan was elected president in 1980, and though he was shot by an assassin in 1981, he did survive. Some say this broke the curse, which should make George W. Bush happy. At the time of this writing, Bush, who was elected in 2000, is serving his second term in office.

7. The Curse of the Kennedy Family

Okay, so maybe if this family had stayed out of politics and off airplanes, their fate might be different. Regardless, the number of Kennedy family tragedies have led some to believe there must be a curse on the whole bunch. You decide:

  • JFK’s brother Joseph, Jr., and sister Kathleen both died in separate plane crashes in 1944 and 1948, respectively.
  • JFK’s other sister, Rosemary, was institutionalized in a mental hospital for years.
  • John F. Kennedy himself, America’s 35th president, was assassinated in 1963 at age 46.
  • Robert Kennedy, JFK’s younger brother, was assassinated in 1968.
  • Senator Ted Kennedy, JFK’s youngest brother, survived a plane crash in 1964. In 1969, he was driving a car that went off a bridge, causing the death of his companion, Mary Jo Kopechne. His presidential goals were pretty much squashed after that.
  • In 1984, Robert Kennedy’s son David died of a drug overdose. Another son, Michael, died in a skiing accident in 1997.
  • In 1999, JFK, Jr., his wife, and his sister-in-law died when the small plane he was piloting crashed into the Atlantic Ocean.

Source: How Stuff Works

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Posted in Culture, Curses, Historic Events, Historic Figures, History, Native American, Society | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Search for Traces of Ancient Supernova in Antarctica

Posted by jase on July 18, 2009

Japanese scientists journeyed to Antarctica to recover evidence of alterations to Earth’s atmosphere caused in medieval times by supernovae recorded by scholars – including obscure Irish monasteries where monks later interpreted them signs of the Antichrist . No, this isn’t the plot of the next Dan Brown novel (or a Dan Brow fanfiction written by an X-Files addict): this is real science.

Supernovae release terrific amounts of energy, as in “If one happened too close, the planet would be sterilized” truly terror-inducing terrific.  Some of this energy is fired off as gamma rays, which can travel thousands of light-years and still pack enough of a punch after to alter the atmosphere – which is exactly what happened in 1006 and again in 1054, when gamma rays blasted the upper atmosphere and created spikes in NO3 levels.  There was also quite a lot of visible light, creating a star visible even during the day which was noted by various Chinese, Egyptian and even monastic records.

To access past records of the atmosphere, a team of Japanese scientists carefully extracted 122 meters of ice core from Antarctica.  Even better, to locate events on such a stretch of frozen time you use known volcanic atmosphere-altering events as reference points – in other words, these guys use exploding mountains as a ruler. 

The team found NO3 spikes at times corresponding to 1006 and 1054, as well as a mysterious unknown third event – and we remind you that this is not a movie, even though that sounds so much like a second act reveal leading to a lost city or something, we can practically see Nicolas Cage’s shocked expression.

Unlike any movie adventurer of the unknown, who has a tendency to steal/detonate every single relic they find, the Japanese team have also made things easier for anyone who follows them.  The unprecedented detail of their observations reveals a standard 11-year cycle in ice-core records, corresponding to the sunspot cycle. This will help future ice-core observers track the time of events.

These people look at timescales so huge that the pulsing of the sun itself is just the ticking of a clock.

Posted in Antarctica, Climate, Earth, Global Warming, Historic Events, Science, Southern Hemisphere | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Earth Will Become Planet Without Ice Caps

Posted by jase on June 28, 2009

Rising sea levels will not extinguish humanity, but they will transform life on planet Earth as we know it according to Peter Ward professor of biology and earth sciences at the University of Washington. Here are his predictions in a new book, The Flooded Earth, which will be published this July.

By 2050: Sea levels will rise 0.5 to 1 meter. Well established coastal cities will battle the rising waters with dikes and levees; other cities will see their underground infrastructure impaired and face building collapse.

By 2300: The seas will rise 20 meters reshaping the world’s geography, forming new rivers and lakes as Antarctica’s ice melts. Massive icebergs will form in the southern hemisphere interrupting historic shipping lanes.

2500-3000: the sea will reach its maximum levels completely wiping out coastal cities and forcing massive human and animal migration. Greenland and Antarctica will be transformed into prime farmlands. Southern regions will face the spread of tropical diseases and the possibility of mass extinctions.

Image above: Red represents areas where temperatures have increased the most during the last 50 years, particularly in West Antarctica, while dark blue represents areas with a lesser degree of warming. Temperature changes are measured in degrees Celsius. Credit: NASA/GSFC Scientific Visualization Studio.

Further reading:

Is Global Warming Part of Earth’s Natural Cycle: MIT Team Says “Yes” -A Galaxy Insight

Global-Warming Tipping Point: 9 Degrees Temperature Increase Would Devastate Earth’s Population

Source: http://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/warming_antarctica.html

Posted in Antarctica, Earth, Global Warming, Historic Events, Southern Hemisphere | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

BOOKS: Buzz Aldrin – Magnificent Desolation

Posted by jase on June 24, 2009

“Buzz Aldrin relives the Magnificent Desolation of space, and the soul-sucking depression that awaited back home.” –Vanity Fair

Description
Forty years ago, Buzz Aldrin became the second human, minutes after Neil Armstrong, to set foot on a celestial body other than the Earth. The event remains one of mankind’s greatest achievements and was witnessed by the largest worldwide television audience in history. In the years since, millions more have had their Earth-centric perspective unalterably changed by the iconic photograph of Aldrin standing on the surface of the moon, the blackness of space behind him and his fellow explorer and the Eagle reflected in his visor. Describing the alien world he was walking upon, he uttered the words “magnificent desolation.” And as the astronauts later sat in the Eagle, waiting to begin their journey back home, knowing that they were doomed unless every system and part on board worked flawlessly, it was Aldrin who responded to Mission Control’s clearance to take off with the quip, “Roger. Understand. We’re number one on the runway.”

The flight of Apollo 11 made Aldrin one of the most famous persons on our planet, yet few people know the rest of this true American hero’s story. In Magnificent Desolation, Aldrin not only gives us a harrowing first-person account of the lunar landing that came within seconds of failure and the ultimate insider’s view of life as one of the superstars of America’s space program, he also opens up with remarkable candor about his more personal trials–and eventual triumphs–back on Earth. From the glory of being part of the mission that fulfilled President Kennedy’s challenge to reach the moon before the decade was out, Aldrin returned home to an Air Force career stripped of purpose or direction, other than as a public relations tool that NASA put to relentless use in a seemingly nonstop world tour. The twin demons of depression and alcoholism emerged–the first of which Aldrin confronted early and publicly, and the second of which he met with denial until it nearly killed him. He burned through two marriages, his Air Force career came to an inglorious end, and he found himself selling cars for a living when he wasn’t drunkenly wrecking them. Redemption came when he finally embraced sobriety, gained the love of a woman, Lois, who would become the great joy of his life, and dedicated himself to being a tireless advocate for the future of space exploration–not only as a scientific endeavor but also as a thriving commercial enterprise.

These days Buzz Aldrin is enjoying life with an enthusiasm that reminds us how far it is possible for a person to travel, literally and figuratively. As an adventure story, a searing memoir of self-destruction and self-renewal, and as a visionary rallying cry to once again set our course for Mars and beyond, Magnificent Desolation is the thoroughly human story of a genuine hero.

Out now.

Posted in Books, Earth, Extraterrestrial Life, Historic Events, History, Inspiring Stories, Literature, Moon, NASA, Science, Space | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »