A New Discovery Proves That Scientists Need To Take A Closer Look At Crystals

An exciting new mathematical discovery might have scientists around the globe working closely with crystals in a whole new way. Recently, a team of researchers from Princeton University solved a centuries-long mystery surrounding prime numbers, AKA “the building blocks of mathematics.” For hundreds of years, no one could find a pattern to prime numbers; experts thought they were entirely chaotic.

Thanks to a groundbreaking new modeling technique, though, we now know that primes have a surprising connection to “naturally occurring crystalline materials.”  This groundbreaking work could make some serious waves in the worlds of physics and materials science.

PRIME NUMBERS – A REFRESHER

Prime numbers are whole numbers that can only be divided by the number one or themselves. For example, the numbers 2, 3, 5, 7, and 11 are all prime numbers. Now, these prime numbers appear along the number line in what previously seemed like an entirely chaotic way. On top of that, the higher you go on the number line, the more erratic the numbers seem to get. A British mathematician explained the randomness of prime numbers.

“It is evident that the primes are randomly distributed out, unfortunately, we do not know what ‘random’ means,” said R.C. Vaughan.

That randomness, however, was not without its uses. Modern cryptography uses the extreme unpredictability of prime numbers to its benefit. For example, an encryption algorithm called RSA uses the chaos to its benefit. The algorithm relies on the fact that it’s simple to take two large prime numbers and multiply them. However, figuring out which of the prime numbers went into the calculation is exceedingly more difficult. If you are interested in more details, click here.

A-HA

Even though there were benefits to the chaos surrounding prime numbers, it was not without its problems. Which led Luckily, theoretical chemist and Princeton Professor Salvatore Torquato had a fortuitous hunch. You see, Torquato studies materials at Princeton. One of the ways that chemists and physicists study materials are by using an X-ray.

This process is called X-ray diffraction. It works by firing X-rays at the sample of the material you want to study. The image that shows up on the screen is a view of how the rays scatter off of the atoms within the material. A liquid, for example, will show that atoms are all jumbled and all over the place. In a crystal, though, there is a rigid lattice system.

If one fires an X-ray through a diamond, for example, the resulting image shows that there is a “repetitive internal structure.” Which led Torquato to the question of the day — If he modeled the prime numbers the same as atom-like particles, would they also create a pattern?

EUREKA!

Torquato along with his student, Ge Zhang, and number theorist Matthew de-Courcy-Ireland set up a study. The team “computationally represented the primes as a one-dimensional string of atoms and scattered light off them.”

And, Eureka, the result created a quasicrystal-like pattern of interference. Not only that, but this fractal pattern is like nothing number theorists have seen before. The Journal of Statistical Mechanics: Theory and Experiment published the initial results of the study. Torquato told Quanta Magazine that when you lay out the primes as a physical system, they are, “a completely new category of structures.”

“What’s beautiful about this is it gives us a crystallographer’s view of that the primes look like,” said Henry Cohn, a mathematician at Microsoft Research New England and the Massachusettes Institute of Technology.

And suddenly scientists have to look at crystals and what they represent in a whole new way.

WHERE WE GO FROM HERE

Now, while this discovery is certainly groundbreaking in some areas, that’s not really the case for number theorists. Mathematicians have already done all the related calculations in other forms, you see. There is a new field of study, though, called “aperiodic order.” Aperiodic order is the study of non-repeating patterns. This research could prove hugely beneficial to the people working in that field.

Henry Cohn said it best when he told Princeton,

“It’s a beautiful new perspective on this information, and it opens up new connections with materials science and scattering theory.”

And if that wasn’t enough, there’s even good news for students. The paper claims that there is a new algorithm as a result of this study that, “enables one to predict primes with high accuracy.” One thing is certain, even though the usefulness of this information is still relatively unknown, this is a huge leap toward understanding prime numbers and “solving the enigma,” that surrounds them.

Featured Images (L) CC BY 2.0 from Toshihiro Oimatsu via Flickr, (R) CC0 from geralt via Pixabay




Did Aliens Build The Pyramids? This Study May Answer The Question Once And For All

For thousands of years, the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt has fascinated humans from around the globe. As the oldest and sole remaining member of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, there are many theories as to how these pyramids were constructed. The question most people ask is whether aliens or humans did it.

For years, conspiracy theorists have peddled a claim that human beings could not have possibly built these magnificent structures on their own. They must have had help from above, and they aren’t talking about a deity.

That’s right, many people believe that aliens built the pyramids or at least helped humans do it.

But scientists and archaeologists have repeatedly debunked these theories over the years, and one study, in particular, puts the question to rest once and for all.

University of Amsterdam Physics Professor Daniel Bonn and his team successfully duplicated the way ancient Egyptians moved massive stones from a quarry to the site where the pyramids now stand after researchers found a painting dating back to 1900 B.C. on the wall of a tomb showing over 100 men moving a massive statue using ropes and sledge.

It turns out that the men simply poured a certain amount of water on the sand to make moving heavy objects such as statues and stones across the desert possible.

“Egyptologists thought it was a purely ceremonial act,” Bonn told Live Science. “The question was: Why did they do it?”

They did it because dry sand just clumps up and creates too much drag to pull objects across. But using water helps connect the grains of sand to turn it into a more solid surface.

“If you use dry sand, it won’t work as well, but if the sand is too wet, it won’t work either,” Bonn explained. “There’s an optimum stiffness. It turns out that wetting Egyptian desert sand can reduce the friction by quite a bit, which implies you need only half of the people to pull a sledge on wet sand, compared to dry sand.”

So, the ancient Egyptians were clearly intelligent enough to construct the pyramids and did not use nearly as many laborers to do the job as most people think.

Here’s the video featuring the painting and the experiment via YouTube.

A University of Chicago and Harvard archaeologist Mark Lehner agrees.

After viewing the painting himself and spending years among the Egyptian people and studying their history, he can’t fathom taking their monumental achievement away from them and giving it to alien beings that we don’t even know actually exist.

“I first went to Egypt in 1972 and ended up living there 13 years,” he told PBS. I was imbued with ideas of Atlantis and Edgar Cayce and so on. So I went over, starting from that point of view, but everything I saw told me, day by day, year by year, that they were very human and the marks of humanity are everywhere on them.”

Indeed, from tool markings on the stones to the same quarries where stones are still being cut out in much the same way today to paintings showing exactly how the Egyptians moved the stone and built structures, the evidence that humans built the pyramids is too much to ignore.

“Everything that I have found convinces me more and more that indeed it is this society that built the Sphinx and the Pyramids,” Lehner continued. “Every time I go back to Giza my respect increases for those people and that society, that they could do it. You see, to me, it’s even more fascinating that they did this. And that by doing this they contributed something to the human career and its overall development. Rather than just copping out and saying, ‘There’s no way they could have done this.’ I think that denigrates the people whose evidence we actually find.”

“One of the most compelling pieces of evidence we have is graffiti on ancient stone monuments in places that they didn’t mean to be shown,” he explained, referring to the painting showing laborers moving a statue on a sledge. “Like on foundations when we dig down below the floor level, up in the relieving chambers above the King’s chamber in the Great Pyramid, and in many monuments of the Old Kingdom—temples, other pyramids.”

Lehner even conducted his own experiment, not a miniature experiment like Bonn’s, but with real people and real stones using a real wooden sledge. Only this time, they moved the sledge on wooden rollers, another technique that could have been used.

The results prove that people can move heavy stones efficiently over a distance, thus confirming Bonn’s experiment.

In addition, the Egyptians also used barges to transport stones via rivers and canals and all of these methods and more were likely used to construct the pyramids.

For instance, a man in Michigan built his own Stonehenge by himself using simple techniques, moving and raising stone blocks that weigh anywhere from hundreds of pounds to several tons. The Egyptians could have done the same, but with more manpower.

Lehner also decried the theories that anyone else must have built the pyramids and explained that people who make such suggestions feel lost.

“This was as great as it comes in terms of art and sculpture and building ships from any place on the planet, in the whole repertoire of ancient cultures,” he said. “Why is there such a need to look for yet another culture, to say, “No, it wasn’t these people, it was some civilization that’s lost, even older. To some extent, I think we feel the need to look for a lost civilization on time’s other horizon because we feel lost in our civilization.”

Yet another Great Pyramid expert, Director General of the Giza site Zahi Hawass, concurs.

“We are lucky because we found this whole evidence of the workmen who built the Pyramids,” he said. “We found the artisans. Mark found the bakery, and we found this settlement of the camp, and hieroglyphic inscriptions of the Overseer of the Site of the Pyramid, the Overseer of the West Side of the Pyramid. We found the craftsmen, the man who makes the statue of the Overseer of the Craftsmen, the Inspector of Building Tombs, Director of Building Tombs—I’m telling you all the titles. We found 25 unique new titles connected with these people.”

When asked who built the pyramids, Hawass definitively responded.

“It was the Egyptians who built the Pyramids. The Great Pyramid is dated with all the evidence, I’m telling you now, to 4,600 years, the reign of Khufu. They are not people from a lost civilization. They are not from outer space. They are Egyptian, and their skeletons are here and were examined by scholars and doctors. The race of all the people we found are completely supporting that they are Egyptians.”

The idea that humans were incapable of building these great structures and that we must have had divine help or help from aliens is insulting. Ancient peoples had various techniques for cutting stone and moving it, and also were able to harness manpower in a way that is largely unheard of in today’s modern world. While modern peoples have been able to replace manpower with machines, thus making construction possible with just a small team of people, building such structures like the pyramids required tens of thousands of people using what many today would consider primitive tools and techniques.

But the fact remains that they did build the pyramids, and the human race should be proud of that achievement and learn from it. Because it’s not just Egyptian history. It’s human history. And aliens had nothing to do with it.

Featured Image: Wikimedia




Conspiracy Theorists Thought They Un-Masked NASA, And Then The Internet Humiliated Them With Facts

The Apollo 11 moon landing is a momentous historical event that over 100 million Americans watched on television in 1969. But conspiracy theorists are still peddling claims that they were faked and now have a new one they think has exposed NASA. They were wrong.

“We set sail on this new sea because there is new knowledge to be gained, and new rights to be won, and they must be won and used for the progress of all people,” President John F. Kennedy declared in 1962 while announcing in a speech that the United States is aiming to walk on the moon in the name of scientific research and national pride.

“We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win, and the others, too.”

Here’s the full speech via YouTube:

And just like that, the space race entered a new and exciting phase that would see Kennedy’s vision become reality seven years later when astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin set foot on the lunar surface, with Armstrong uttering the immortal words:

“That’s one small step for man — and one giant leap for mankind.”

Speaking of steps, conspiracy theorists are now trying to use the footprints left by them to make the claim that Armstrong and Aldrin never really walked on the moon.

A meme has been popping up comparing a footprint on the moon to Neil Armstrong’s boots that have been preserved along with the rest of his space suit at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum.

It’s basically a “gotcha” image used by someone who clearly did not bother to do any real research or ask any questions before jumping straight to the conclusion that NASA must be lying to us.

For instance, the footprint is not even Neil Armstrong’s. It belongs to Buzz Aldrin, who was snapping photographs during his own moonwalk so that scientists could study the surface better.

Aldrin even posted the image on Twitter in 2015.

“I only took a few photos on the moon and this one was to show how the lunar dust was like talcum powder,” he wrote.

According to NASA:

“The astronaut photographed his own footprint to permit later study of the lunar surface bearing strength. The thin, crusty appearance of the surface was similar to that discovered during the Surveyor soil mechanics experiments.”

In addition, Aldrin’s boots and the iconic pattern on the bottoms can be seen as he descends a ladder after leaving the lunar module.

The boot is known as the overshoe designed for the A7LB Space Suit. The special boots were worn by both astronauts for extra protection over their spacesuit boots, which are visible in the photograph in the meme.

“Notice how the footprint matches the boot sole in the second image,” NASA added.

Here’s an image Armstrong took of Aldrin on the moon wearing the same boots. And you can even see the footprints around him.

As has been demonstrated by NASA and Aldrin, the bootprint matches the actual boot worn over the original spacesuit boots.

So, what happened to Armstrong’s boots?

Well, the astronauts could not take everything back to Earth with them. They needed to leave behind any extra weight that would not be needed in order to make room for soil and rock samples. Thus, along with about 99 other items, both pairs of overshoes are still on the moon along with the footprints they made 50 years ago.

Many moon landing conspiracies, including this one, have already been repeatedly debunked by fact-checkers over the years.

For some reason, some people refuse to believe that humans had the determination and technological capability to make it to the moon. But it took years of research, inventions, and failures to get us there. People actually died in the effort. Armstrong and Aldrin and the others who had the privilege to walk on the moon risked their lives for it. We can never forget that, and their courage should always be honored.

The moon landings were not staged inside a studio. Our astronauts were there. They lived it and there are photographs and samples from the lunar surface to prove it. Besides, as Aldrin has pointed out, even the Russians admit that the United States landed on the moon, or else they would have exposed it long before now.

Perhaps, one day soon, we will go back to the moon and retrace the Apollo 11 mission so that more modern photographic evidence can be provided to those who still doubt that science has taken us to the moon and back. Until then, the next mission NASA is planning is a manned trip to Mars. And then the conspiracy theorists will have something else to accuse NASA of faking.

Featured Image: Wikimedia




Gilbert Stuart Birthplace in Saunderstown, Rhode Island

Gilbert Stuart painted over 1,000 portraits throughout his career, most notably, those of the first six U.S. presidents. But his most famous work is his “unfinished” portrait of George Washington, the image of which today appears on the one dollar bill. This iconic portrait is dubbed “The Athenaeum,” and it is displayed in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.

Nowadays, the place where Gilbert Stuart was born and raised in Saunderstown, Rhode Island, is a museum, and a beautiful one at that, surrounded by a forest and a pond. It’s a registered historic site where you will find the Stuart house as well as a snuff mill believed to be the first colonial mill. There’s also an old gristmill that was adjacent to the house, an herb garden and fish ladders, and hiking trails that will reward you with a wonderful view of Carr Pond. 

The welcome center houses some original painting as well as seasonal exhibitions, and there is a tour guide who will regale you with interesting stories and anecdotes from the painter’s life—such as the fact that he used the “unfinished” portrait of Washington to paint some 130 copies, which he sold it for $100 each. Or how Stuart had to paint the portrait of Catherine Brass Yates twice since the famed writer Richard Yates was not satisfied with the outcome and argued that his wife did not look beautiful enough. Stuart acceded and repainted Catherine, but commented that he was given a potato and was asked to paint a peach! This painting is also exhibited in the National Gallery of Art.

Gilbert Stuart Birthplace

Gilbert Stuart painted over 1,000 portraits throughout his career, most notably, those of the first six U.S. presidents. But his most famous work is his “unfinished” portrait of George Washington, the image of which today appears on the one dollar bill.




10 Wild West Lawmen Who Were More Dangerous Than The Outlaws

In the days of the frontiersmen, the line between wild and west often became blurred, with people switching and re-switching sides so frequently that it was difficult to tell who was the lawman and who was the outlaw. Outlaws often became bounty hunters to bring in extra money, and many were appointed as sheriffs by communities on the premise that it takes one to know one.

There were, perhaps, a few upstanding citizen sheriffs in white hats, but not many made it to the history books—probably because they didn’t last very long. Those whose names are remembered today often weren’t entirely aboveboard. Here are ten lawmen who gave the outlaws as good as they got.

10 Bill Tilghman

Bill Tilghman was born in Iowa but moved to Kansas. When he was still a young man, Tilghman became a hunter, and he claimed to have killed 12,000 bison in only five years, much to the annoyance of the local Native Americans, for whom this meant food. During an exchange in September 1872, Tilghman is said to have killed seven Cheyenne braves. It wasn’t his only scrape with the law. Two years later, he just barely escaped being lynched after he was accused of murdering a man in Granada, Colorado.[1]

In 1875, he opened a saloon in Dodge City, Kansas, and in 1878, he became the town’s deputy sheriff. He is said to have collected more rewards for bringing in outlaws than anyone else. During his time as sheriff, he was accused of corruption and selling whiskey to the Native Americans. He was also arrested several times for running a brothel and facilitating gambling.

Tilgham was shot on November 1, 1924, while trying to arrest a corrupt Prohibition officer. Karma?

9 William Davis ‘Dave’ Allison

Dave Allison was appointed sheriff 1888 in Midland, Texas, at the tender age of 27. He remained as sheriff until 1903, when he joined the Arizona Rangers. In Arizona, he shot and killed a criminal with the wonderful name of “Three Fingered Jack” in a shoot-out. Allison is best known, however, for leading the posse that captured and killed the Mexican revolutionary-turned-outlaw Pascual Orozco in 1915. Allison is said to have been “the most noted gunman in Texas.”

Allison was, however, also said to have a serious gambling problem, and there were several accusations made against him regarding the misappropriation of money. At these times, Allison moved swiftly to another position in another town, albeit always working as a lawman. This was, presumably, a “no references required” kind of job.[2]

Allison, along with a colleague, was killed by a pair of cattle thieves whom they were preparing to testify against. They were sitting, unarmed, in the lobby of a hotel, when the gunmen burst in and shot them.

8 Harry Wheeler

Harry C. Wheeler had a variety of jobs before he was appointed the sheriff of Cochise County, Arizona, including, in 1907, protecting striking miners from thugs hired by their employers. He was considered a “friend of labor,” and his popularity in the town grew.

However, ten years later, when he was sheriff, he deputized and armed 2,000 men and sent them out at dawn to arrest striking miners while he supervised the proceedings with a machine gun. In total 1,185 miners were arrested, loaded onto cattle trucks, and transported into the New Mexico desert, where they were abandoned. Wheeler was indicted, along with 224 of his deputies, on charges of kidnapping, though these were later dropped.

One of Wheeler’s most notable exploits was a rock fight with a man who had been stalking an ex-girlfriend. Wheeler heard about the man’s threat to kill the girl and her new husband and went to arrest him. The stalker, J.A. Tracy, fired a shot which missed so narrowly that bullet went through Wheeler’s coat. Both men exchanged gunfire. Wheeler was shot in the thigh, while Tracy was shot four times. Feigning an empty gun, Tracy pretended to give himself up, and then shot at Wheeler twice more. However, he wasn’t a very good marksman and only ended up hitting Wheeler once in the foot.

Being out of bullets himself, Wheeler resorted to heaving rocks at Tracy until the latter’s wounds overcame him. Astonishingly, Tracy was not arrested for his actions, and the two men shook hands before Wheeler put him on a train to Tuscon, which was unfortunate because Tracy was wanted for murder in Nevada. However, Tracy’s injuries were such that he died on the train. Wheeler collected the reward money, which was $500, but gave it to the widow of one of Tracy’s victims.[3]

7 Heck Thomas

Henry Andrew Thomas, commonly known as “Heck,” apprehended some of the most notorious outlaws of the Wild West, including members of the Dalton Gang and the Doolin Gang. He began his working life serving as a courier in the Civil War in Virginia when he was just 12 years old. He joined the police force at the age of 17 in Atlanta and soon began to make a name for himself as a fearless fighter.

In 1875, he moved to Texas. In 1878, he was in charge of protecting the railroads when the Sam Bass Gang tried to rob a train. Thomas was injured during the shoot-out, but his quick thinking ensured that the gang got away with nothing; he had moved the valuables to an unlit stove and filled the safe with decoy parcels.[4]

In 1896, Thomas led a posse that tracked down the Doolin Gang, which had been robbing trains and banks in Kansas. They caught the leader of the gang, Bill Doolin, after a long pursuit, fatally wounding Doolin after the robber tried to shoot his way out.

Heck Thomas was responsible for arresting over 300 wanted men. He once collected 41 prisoners in a single episode. He was wounded at least six times during his gunfights but managed to live long enough to retire from the force.

6 John Reynolds Hughes

In May 1886, John Reynolds Hughes (seated on the right above) set out to discover who had stolen horses from his and his neighbors’ ranches. He trailed them for close to a year before coming upon them in New Mexico. He killed some of the horse thieves and captured the rest before returning the horses to his neighbors. The exploit earned the attention of the Texas Rangers, who persuaded him to join up.

Hughes served as a Texas Ranger for 28 years. When his captain was killed by bandits in 1893, Hughes was named as his successor. His first act as captain was to take a group of his men to search the border until they found, and killed, all those responsible for the death.[5]

5 John Hicks Adams


John Hicks Adams was a bona fide forty-niner. In 1849, he left his home in Illinois for California as soon as news of the Gold Rush reached him and remained for two years until moving to Santa Clara County with his family to settle on a farm. He was elected sheriff in 1863 and was involved in the pursuit and capture of Tiburcio Vasquez, a notorious bandit and horse thief.

His interest in gold never waned, and he is credited with making the first exploration of Lake Tahoe.[6] In 1878, Adams was killed in Arizona while prospecting for gold. The suspects escaped to Mexico and were never tried for his murder. However, they were all later killed by an unidentified posse.

4 John Armstrong

John Barclay Armstrong moved to Austin, Texas, in 1871. He joined the Texas Rangers in 1875 and took part in the Las Cuevas War. Armstrong was a member of Captain Leander McNelly’s Special Forces, which, like all special forces, operated on a “Shoot now; ask questions later” policy.

Among his many exploits was his capture of John Wesley Hardin. Hardin, a notorious outlaw said to have once killed a man for snoring too loudly, was wanted for the murder of Deputy Sheriff Charles Webb. At the time, Armstrong was recovering from a gunshot wound and needed to walk with the aid of a cane, but he still volunteered to help track Hardin down.

After receiving information as to Hardin’s whereabouts, Armstrong and his men went in pursuit. They tracked him onto a train in Florida, and as the train pulled into a station, Armstrong entered the coach. Seeing only a man with a cane, Hardin did not reach for the gun hanging from the luggage rack above his head, which was a mistake. Armstrong suddenly switched his cane to his left hand and drew his gun, confronting not only Hardin but also four members of his gang. One of the gang members opened fire, and Armstrong killed him instantly before hitting Hardin over the head and knocking him unconscious.[7]

3 Henry Newton Brown

Henry Newton Brown was a classic example of a poacher-turned-gamekeeper. He had once ridden with Billy the Kid, and they ambushed and murdered a sheriff in New Mexico in 1878. After making a hasty retreat, Brown disappeared for a while before reappearing in Texas, where he worked as a deputy sheriff for a short time. He became a ranch hand and ended up in Kansas, where he again took up law enforcement. In order to make ends meet, Brown began to track outlaws for their bounty, but occasionally, he got sidetracked.

In April 1884, at the Medicine Lodge bank, Brown and three accomplices burst in just after opening time and robbed it, shooting several bank employees in the process.[8] They made their getaway but were soon surrounded. The locals were shocked when they discovered the identity of the thief, and there were many calls to hang Brown. He was due to hang in the morning, but the mob could not wait. They broke into the jail, overpowered the guards, and opened the cell. Brown, as was his nature, made a desperate attempt to escape, but he was shot dead.

2 Frank M. Canton

Frank Canton was jailed in 1877, under his birth name of Josiah Horner, for robbing a bank in Comanche, Texas, but soon escaped and signed on as a cattle herder, working his way to Nebraska. Deciding on a new start, he changed his name to Frank M. Canton and settled into a job protecting cattle stock for a large consortium of Wyoming cattlemen with questionable ethics. In 1882, he was elected sheriff of Johnson County, Wyoming.

During the Johnson County War, Canton signed on as one of Frank Wolcott’s Regulators. In April 1892, he led the Regulators to the KC Ranch, where Nate Champion and Nick Ray, small-time ranchers who had been falsely accused of cattle rustling, were holed up. Champion had been a friend of Canton’s, but this did not prevent Canton from setting the house on fire after a gun battle that had lasted most of the day. As the house burned around him, Champion burst out of the house and was shot 28 times.

Canton left town shortly after and traveled to Oklahoma, where he became a deputy US marshal. He killed the fugitive Bill Dunn in 1896. In 1897, he left for Alaska due to a gold rush. He returned to Oklahoma the next year and continued to work in law enforcement.[9]

1 ‘Longhair Jim’ Courtright

In addition to his untamed locks, Timothy Isaiah “Longhair Jim” Courtright was known for his skill as a gunman, performing at one time as part of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. Always a controversial character, he was the first elected marshal of Fort Worth, Texas. He also ran protection rackets in the local saloons and gambling houses. He is rumored to have killed several business owners who declined his offers of protection. His enthusiasm for his work often ran away with him. At one point, he was employed to track down cattle rustlers, but he ended up killing both rustlers and homesteaders.

Courtright finally met his end in 1887 in a duel with Luke Short, a saloon owner and former friend of Courtright’s. Short had told Courtright to “go to hell” when the former had offered the latter protection. In the middle of the street, the two men met in one of the very few face-to-face gunfights to have actually taken place in the Wild West. After a tense standoff, both men drew their pistols at the same time. Short fired first, blowing off Courtright’s thumb. Courtright tried to shift his gun to his uninjured hand, but as he did so, Short shot him in the chest.[10]

Ward Hazell is a writer who travels, and an occasional travel writer.





The Archbishop’s Palace in Nottinghamshire, England

Originally built in the 15th-century as a palace for the Archbishop of York, this historic castle was damaged extensively by Parliamentarians after the English Civil War. In the Georgian period, the remaining habitable parts of the Palace was home to a “respectable seminary for young ladies” as well as being used as the local magistrate’s court.

In the late 19th century parts of the Palace were restored as an episcopal residency when the nearby Minster obtained cathedral status. Today, the restored part of the building is often filled with the sound of singing from the Song School, an integral part of Southwell Minster since the 13th century.

This part of the building is not open to the public but visitors are free to go to the first-floor stateroom, said to be the place where Cardinal Wolseley made his last desperate efforts to obtain the annulment of the first marriage of Henry VIII. In the 17th century, the palace was the first place of captivity of Charles I, who was captured by the Scottish Allies of Oliver Cromwell towards the end of the English Civil War. 

The Archbishop’s Palace

Originally built in the 15th-century as a palace for the Archbishop of York, this historic castle was damaged extensively by Parliamentarians after the English Civil War. In the Georgian period, the remaining habitable parts of the Palace was home to a “respectable seminary for young ladies” as well as being used as the local magistrate’s court.




Have you seen the new Big Think?

A surprising survey

<p>The answer is yes and within five to 10 years, according to 37% of respondents to a survey issued at the <a href=”https://www.hlai-conf.org/” target=”_blank”>Joint Multi-Conference on Human-Level Artificial Intelligence</a> (HLAI) held last month in Prague.</p><p>The survey, which was conducted by the AI startup SingularityNET and the AI research and development company GoodAI, found that 28% expected it within the next two decades while just 2% didn’t believe humans will ever develop AGI.</p><p>The survey also asked respondents to rate the sectors in which they thought AI could have the greatest impact. The results broke down like this:<span></span></p><ul><li>Healthcare (46%)</li><li>Logistics (41%)</li><li>Customer service (38%)</li><li>Banking and finance (34%)</li><li>Agriculture; retail, software development; manufacturing (28%)</li></ul>”It’s no secret that machines are <a href=”https://www.futuretimeline.net/21stcentury/images/future-timeline-technology-singularity.jpg” target=”_blank” class=”hoverZoomLink”>advancing exponentially</a> and will eventually surpass human intelligence,” said Ben Goertzel, SingularityNET’s CEO and creator of the software behind a social, humanoid robot named <a href=”https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sophia_(robot)” target=”_blank”>Sophia</a>. “But, as these survey results suggest, an increasing number of experts believe this ‘Singularity’ point may occur much sooner than is commonly thought. Artificial general intelligence at the human level or beyond, as many respondents to our poll noted, could very well become a reality within the next decade.”

Gauging expectations

A 2016 survey of AI researchers who had been published in top peer-reviewed journals found slightly less exciting results. The survey makers asked respondents to rate how many years it would be before AI possessed “high-level machine intelligence,” which they defined as being “achieved when unaided machines can accomplish every task better and more cheaply than human workers.”The respondents were asked about specific AI milestones, such as when AI would be outperform humans in complex tasks like surgery.

Grace et al., 2018.

Timelines showing 50% probability intervals for achieving selected AI milestones based on survey respondent opinions. Specifically, intervals represent the date range from the 25% to 75% probability of the event occurring. Circles denote the 50%-probability year that AI will achieve or exceed human performance.

<p>The survey paper concludes with researchers suggesting that, though there are many reasons to be optimistic about developments in AI, researchers in the field are sometimes no better at predicting the future than crude statistical representations.</p><p>Some experts who attended the recent HLAI conference voiced similar caution.</p><p>”At the moment, there is absolutely no indication that we are anywhere near AGI,” <a href=”https://www.itu.int/en/fnc/Pages/bios/BERIDZEIrakli.aspx” target=”_blank”>Irakli Beridze</a>, Head of the Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics, told <em><a href=”https://futurism.com/human-level-artificial-intelligence-agi/” target=”_blank”>Futurism</a></em>. “And no one can say with any kind of authority or conviction that this would happen within a certain time frame. Or even worse, no one can say this can even happen period. We may never have AGI, so we need to take that into account when we are discussing anything.”</p><p>Still, there are a few trends helping to propel the development of AGI. These include, as AI venture capitalist Matt Turck detailed in a recent <a href=”https://hackernoon.com/frontier-ai-how-far-are-we-from-artificial-general-intelligence-really-5b13b1ebcd4e” target=”_blank”>blog post,</a> increased access to AI tools and education, an uptick in AI research in major internet companies like Google and Facebook, the ever-increasing amount of available data with which researchers can train AI, massive accelerations in computing power, and progress <a href=”https://www.technologyreview.com/s/612190/why-alibaba-is-investing-in-ai-chips-and-quantum-computing/” target=”_blank”>in quantum</a> and optical computing. But, ultimately, only time will tell.</p>

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Oneida Community Mansion House in Oneida, New York

In the late 1840s, a group of utopian dreamers formed what they thought was a perfect idea for a Christian society. They modeled themselves after the naturally industrious bee, working together for a united goal. And similar to bees, they shared everything: a home, labor, responsibility for children, and each other. 

The Oneida Community was founded in upstate New York by the Amercian preacher and radical religious philosopher John Humphrey Noyse. Noyse’s aim was to create a religious utopia where members challenged the societal norms of the time regarding gender and social status. Its residents practiced communalism and “complex marriage,” a form of polyamory.

The members lived in a shared home dubbed the “Mansion House,” built in 1848. At its height, nearly 300 people lived in the 93,000-square-foot home, where members lived as one family, sharing romantic partners and responsibility for all children born in the community. Women, in a radical move for the time, did not have to care for their own children, were free from unwanted pregnancies, and could participate in nontraditional work roles. 

Members believed strongly in a system of “free love,” where any member was free to have sex with a consenting partner (though it should be noted that the community would often “introduce” adolescents to their sexuality by pairing them with a significantly older partner).

To keep the population in check, the group encouraged male continence and introduced the Oneida “stirpiculture” experiment, a eugenic breeding program designed to create more perfect children. Members that wanted to have children were matched by a committee, which judged the prospective parents on their spiritual and moral fortitude. The group’s founder, Noyse, fathered nine children by this method.

To financially support the commune, members created a manufacturing company that sold metal products like animal trapping products, cutlery, and canning supplies, as well as silk. When the community dissolved in 1881, the cutlery side of the manufacturing business survived, and eventually became the globally known silverware company Oneida Limited.

By 1870, the Oneida Community began to decline as Noyes tried to pass leadership to his son. Internal pressures, such as the younger generation’s desire to discontinue complex marriages and power struggles, compounded with external campaigning against the group and threats of charges of statutory rape, eventually led to the dissolution of the group, and Noyes’ sudden flight from the country. 

Oneida Limited is still operating today, and the commune’s Mansion House has been designated a National Historic Landmark.

Oneida Community Mansion House

In the late 1840s, a group of utopian dreamers formed what they thought was a perfect idea for a Christian society. They modeled themselves after the naturally industrious bee, working together for a united goal. And similar to bees, they shared everything: a home, labor, responsibility for children, and each other.




10 Strange Beauty Secrets Of History’s Most Beautiful Women

Being pretty isn’t easy. The most beautiful women in history weren’t just born that way. They put hard work into it—and, sometimes, a few crushed bug guts, stewed birds, or dung.

It’s the dirty little secret behind glamour: No matter how fantastic someone looks, it never comes naturally. Behind every great beauty in history, there’s a dirty secret about all the work that went into looking that good.

10 Empress Elisabeth: A Face Mask Lined With Raw Veal

The most beautiful woman on earth, in the 19th century, was Empress Elisabeth of Austria. She was famous across Europe for her impeccable skin and the thick, chestnut hair that fell all the way down to her feet.

None of which came easy. To keep her skin beautiful, she would crush strawberries over her hands, face, and neck, bathe in warm olive oil, and sleep in what has only been described as a “mask lined inside with raw veal.”[1]

It was the closest she came to eating food. Her favorite dish was pressed extract of chicken, partridge, venison, and beef—which isn’t so much a “food” as something you’d find in a spice cabinet. And even then, she’d wrap herself in a corset so tight that her waist only measured 49.5 centimeters (19.5 in) around.

She spent three hours each day getting her hair down, mainly because it was so long that it would get tied up in knots. And when it was put up in ribbons, her hair would get so heavy that it would give her headaches.

It meant that, more often than not, she was stuck indoors, too afraid to let the wind ruin her hair. But if you want to be beautiful, sometimes you have to give up on little luxuries, like ever leaving your house.

9 Cleopatra: Bathing In Donkey Milk

Queen Cleopatra won the hearts of the most powerful men alive. Maybe it was her grace. Maybe it was her charm. Or maybe it was that sweet aroma of dung and insect guts.

Cleopatra, after all, almost certainly followed the usual beauty conventions of her time—and that meant wearing a lipstick made out of mashed-up beetle guts and putting powdered crocodile dung under her eyes.

But Cleopatra didn’t limit herself to a peasant’s beauty regimen. She was a queen, and that meant that she could afford the most luxurious treatment of all: bathing in sour donkey milk. Her servants would milk 700 donkeys each day so that they could fill a tub with their milk. Then, once it had gone bad, Cleopatra would bathe inside.

The theory was that it would reduce wrinkles—and it may actually have worked. Soured lactose turns into lactic acid, which can make the surface layer of skin on a woman’s body peel off, revealing the smoother, blemish-free skin underneath.[2]

That was the real secret to her beauty: burning her flesh off.

8 Nefertiti: Wearing Enough Makeup To Kill You

The Egyptian queen Nefertiti’s name meant “the beautiful one has come”—and she lived up to it. She was so beautiful that, in the early 20th century, a statue of her face caused an international sensation. More than 3,000 years after she died, her looks were still front-page news.

And no wonder. She put no small amount of work into looking good.

The queens of Nefertiti’s time would be buried with their makeup,[3] and so, while they didn’t write many of their beauty secrets down, we’ve been able to find their methods left behind in their tombs. While her tomb has never been found, the tombs of her contemporaries give us a pretty good idea of how she did it.

Nefertiti was completely hairless. Her entire body was shaved from head to toe with a razor, including the hair on the top of her head. Instead, she topped her head with a wig and painted her eyes black with something called kohl.

Ancient Egyptian kohl, incidentally, was made out of the dark lead ore galena—which means that Nefertiti was slowly killing herself with lead poisoning every time she put on makeup.

But it’s highly unlikely that the lead killed her. There’s simply no way it could have finished her off before her lipstick. Her lipstick, after all, contained bromine mannite, another toxic substance that it’s generally believed would have poisoned her long before the lead she dabbed around her eyes.

7 Queen Elizabeth I: Coating Your Skin In Lead

Poisoning yourself with lead is no passing fad. It’s been a great look for thousands of years. While Nefertiti may have dabbed a little lead around her eyes, it was nothing compared to Queen Elizabeth I.

During the Elizabethan era, the most popular skin product was something called “Venetian ceruse”—which, quite simply, was a mixture of lead and vinegar that women would put all over their skin to make them look porcelain white.[4]

Nobody used more of it than Queen Elizabeth herself. When she was 29, Elizabeth contracted smallpox and was left with scars all over her skin. She was too humiliated to show her scars in public—and so, instead, she covered every inch of her flesh with the toxic white paint.

Queen Elizabeth used so much of it that she was completely unrecognizable without it. When one man, the Earl of Essex, accidentally peeked a sight of her without her makeup on, he went around joking that she’d hidden a “crooked carcass” underneath that thick veneer of Venetian ceruse.

6 Marie Antoinette: Stewed Pigeon Water

The French queen Marie Antoinette didn’t exactly let herself eat cake. She had a reputation as a world-class beauty, and she was determined to keep it up.

Like Empress Elisabeth, she would go to bed with a face mask, but Antoinette’s—made of cognac, eggs, powdered milk, and lemon—sounds a little bit less like a beauty treatment and a little bit more like the catering menu at a birthday party.

She’d start the morning by washing her face with a facial cleanser made out of pigeons. In those days, that was a selling point: the product came proudly labeled with the mean “Eau Cosmetique de Pigeon” and a little ad promising every bottle had been made with “eight pigeons stewed.”[5]

Then she would get dressed—for the first of three times each day. As queen of France, Marie Antoinette was expected to never wear the same thing twice. And so, each year, she would 120,000 livres on clothes, the equivalent to about $4 million today.

She may even have indulged in the popular French fashion of tracing her veins with a blue pencil. At the time, the women of France wanted to be so thin that they were translucent—so they’d draw the inner workings of their bodies, trying to convince the men that they had transparent skin.

5 Mary, Queen Of Scots: Bathing In Wine

Mary, Queen of Scots, wasn’t a natural beauty. She was born with a nose a little large and a chin a little too sharp—but she was a queen, and she was determined to be beautiful.

To keep her skin as striking as possible, she had her servants fill a bathtub with a white wine.[6] She would wade in it, convinced that the wine was improving her complexion.

It sounds decadent, but it’s actually something people still do today. Today, it’s called vinotherapy, and there are places all around the world where you can experience the Mary, Queen of Scots, treatment for yourself.

It’s hard to say exactly what the queen used, but the modern vinotherapists don’t actually pour drinkable, alcoholic wine. Instead, they use the leftover compost from the winemaking process; the “pips and pulps” of grapes that get left behind. So, no—you can’t get drunk off of it.

4 Empress Zoe Porphyrogenita: Starting Your Own Cosmetics Lab

Empress Zoe Porphyrogenita was one of the most beautiful women in the Byzantine Empire. She didn’t just look good when she was young, though. Even when she was well into her sixties, it’s said, she still looked like a 20-year-old.[7]

She certainly worked hard enough for it. After becoming the empress, Zoe Porphyrogenita had an entire laboratory dedicated to making her cosmetics built inside of the imperial palace. It was a real cosmetic factory, every bit as huge and expensive as the ones that supply whole countries. At this one, though, Zoe was the only customer.

It was expensive—but for the empress, blowing a small fortune was just all in a day’s work. It’s said that she was “the sort of woman who could exhaust a sea teaming with gold-dust in one day.”

But it’s also said that “like a well-baked chicken, every part of her was firm and in good condition.” This is definitive proof that it worked, because, clearly, Zoe looked so good that the men who saw her were so smitten that they couldn’t even form a sentence that didn’t make your skin crawl.

3 Lucrezia Borgia: Spending Multiple Days Washing Your Hair

The poet Lord Byron once said that Lucrezia Borgia’s hair was “the prettiest and fairest imaginable.” He wasn’t just trying out a line for a new poem—he was in love, so much so, in fact, that he stole a strand of her hair and kept it by his bed.

It sounds one of those touching love stories that usually end with someone filing a restraining order. Lucrezia, though, probably appreciated it. She deserved a little recognition for the amount of work she put into that hair—because she would spend days washing it.[8]

Lucrezia’s hair was bright and blonde, but that wasn’t nature. Everyone else in her family had dark hair. Lucrezia, though, made sure hers shined like the Sun by rinsing it in lye and lemon juice for hours, then drying it out in the sunlight for the better part of a day.

It took so much time that she repeatedly canceled trips to wash her hair. Multiple letters from Lucrezia’s attendants have survived to to this day. In them, she politely apologizes to people and explains that she will be a few days late because she has to “put her clothes in order and wash her head.”

2 Helen Of Troy: Bathing In Vinegar

Helen of Troy had the face that launched 1,000 ships. She was a woman so beautiful that thousands of men died for her honor.

Well, either that, or else she was just a figment of an old Greek guy’s imagination. If Homer really did make her up, though, he had a remarkable understanding of women’s cosmetic care. Because packed deep in her legend is a beauty regimen that really works.

Helen of Troy, according to the Iliad, would bathe in vinegar.[9] Every day, her attendants would prepare what, technically speaking, was a bathtub full of acid, and she would just dive right in.

Today, people tend to assume that she used apple cider vinegar or that she diluted it in water, simply because, otherwise, it sounds pretty horrible. After all, that’s something people still do today—bathe in a mixture of apple cider vinegar and water. And it actually works. The vinegar balances the body’s pH levels, which can have a cleansing effect.

But there’s nothing saying Helen of Troy ever added water. She may just have dived right into a bathtub filled to the brim with white vinegar. It would’ve hurt, and she would’ve smelled—but that’s what it takes to look good enough to start a war.

1 Simonetta Vespucci: Arsenic, Leeches, And Human Urine

Even if you don’t know her name, you’ve seen Simonetta Vespucci’s face. She was the muse for some of the greatest painters of the Renaissance.[10] She was even chosen to model for the goddess of love herself at the center of the painting The Birth of Venus.

In the Renaissance, everyone wanted to look like her. And so they copied her beauty regimen—leeches, poisons, and all.

To keep their skin pale, white, and beautiful, the women in Vespucci’s time would attach leeches to their ears. The leeches would drain the blood out of their faces, leaving them deathly pale.

Those who didn’t want to go that far, though, could always use a face mask. Renaissance women would mix bread crumbs and egg whites with vinegar and then apply it liberally on their faces—a beauty secret that, conveniently, doubles as a great recipe for fried chicken.

Eyebrow hair, at the time, had to be plucked, or, ideally, burned straight off. Women would remove their hairs with arsenic and rock alum and then sand it all down with gold.

But that was nothing compared to what they’d do to get that long, flowing, golden mane of hair on her head. For Vespucci, it just came naturally, but the poorer women who wanted to copy her found their own way. They bleached their hair in human urine.

Sure, it sounds gross—but every beautiful woman has to do a few things that just aren’t pretty.

Mark Oliver

Mark Oliver is a regular contributor to Listverse. His writing also appears on a number of other sites, including The Onion’s StarWipe and Cracked.com. His website is regularly updated with everything he writes.

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