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A Most Odd Announcement

Hello there, this is Alex speaking writing a little announcement here.

Most Odd was a little blog and a small idea I started about 13 months ago. It has helped me learn, improved my writing and given me something to do when I am bored. Beyond all of that it has allowed me to help people find new things as well.

I want to keep doing that, and I will.

A few weeks ago the site overtook the 100,000 views mark, it currently sits around 120,000 views. That achievement had me thinking. I wanted a new place, something more official. So, after much toil and a bit too much money, I have toiled and built a website. A new and hopefully glorious place for everyone to enjoy facts in a less cluttered manner.

I am announcing my new website: Mostly Odd

All future posts will go to the new website, so please, check that website from now on, transfer your wandering eyes to the new place. It is currently low on articles, but that it because I am being more stringent now. Only the best articles are being moved to the new site, and they are being rewritten. However new information shall exist in abundance soon. Patience.

I hope you enjoy the new website, it is simpler, clearer and also has no adverts. Meaning it will cost me money, but if you feel generous you can always donate (wink wink etcetera). This is my last post on this little blog, and that saddens me slightly, but I am glad to be advancing instead of becoming stale. I hope you’ll come with me on this journey.

Thank you very much, I will see you on the other site.

-Alexandre R.D.M. Coates

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Posted by on March 10, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

200. Morgellons: The Non-Existent Epidemic

Supposed Morgellons 'Disease Fibres'

It spreads like wildfire beneath the skin, the slight prickling sensation of itching. Tiny and innumerable fibres seem to poke through the skin and tiny parasites creep beneath the surface. The urge to pick at the fibres arrives, fingertips reach and simply start to scratch. Later sores appear over the body near where the picking occurred, it feels as though the fibres are causing it.

This peculiar condition is called Morgellons. In the past 11 years 12,000 people claim to have been affected. Yet, according to the consensus among medical professionals, it does not exist.

The first case was in 2001, Mary Leitao’s son had sores around his mouth and complained of feeling ‘bugs’ beneath them. She examined his skin with a toy microscope and found an astonishing array of coloured fibres peppered over his skin. She did some reading and found a reference in a 17th Century text referring to a condition in which people had long dark hairs grow on their backs. From this text she got the word ‘Morgellons.’ She maintained that it was a new condition and set up a foundation to research it.

After 12,000 reported cases a million dollars(USD) was set aside by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC) in the United States of America to research it. They followed the symptoms and tracked down those claiming to have morgellons. Sufferers described their compulsion to pick at the fibres, often displaying a strong conviction that they were the products of other creatures beneath or on the skin. Morgellons sufferers were looking for a little information and a confirmation of the conditions existence. The CDC more than scratched the surface, the drilled deep.

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Posted by on March 10, 2012 in Articles

 

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199. Fighting Tuberculosis and Embarassment

Listening to a patient for tuberculosis

Near the dawn of the 19th century medicine advanced inwards. Doctors began once more to diagnose problems with the heart and lungs by placing their ears against the bodies of patients and listening intently. This practice had been used since the time of the Greeks but recent advances had returned to frequent usage. This new body of science was in its infancy and doctors had great trouble listening to internal problems and keeping abreast of developments in the understanding of the human interior. Then it was improved by chance and embarrassment.

The Doctor René Theophile-Hyacinthe Laënnec was busy at work in the nineteenth century, doing nineteenth century things when he was presented with a chest problems. It was a young and rather plump lady, who was followed by her family. They lined the room as the young lady told of her suffering. For a decent diagnosis, he needed to listen to her lungs.

Under the watchful gaze of the family and the pressure of nineteenth century sensibilities he felt suddenly aware of how uncomfortably close he would have to place his head to her bosom, so he improvised. He grabbed a nearby piece of paper and rolled it up into a tube and placing the paper purposefully on her skin. To his shock when he listened, the sounds were much clearer. The lazy lungs breathing and the nervous heart beating.

That day, in 1816, the stethoscope was invented. Over time they became less papery and more trumpet-like. So it was until 1851 when a binaural stethoscope, one allowing the use of both ears, was introduced. Designs similar to the ones still used today, or so I hear.

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Posted by on January 30, 2012 in Articles

 

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198. Bee-brained

You make decisions. How good you are at doing so is irrelevant, what matters is that you make them. You make them in the same way as a bee. But how is that?

Decision making is a, decidedly complex process but it is vital. Also the actual process is near identical for anything with a decent brain. Decision making works like a debate. Neurons which zip around the brain collecting information and forming plans. Then neurons form groups and you ‘think.’ If you have ever been in two minds when making a decision, that is because it is exactly what happens.

Neurons find those sharing the same idea and send positive affirming signals. Which is nice of them. Then they find those who disagree with them and send inhibiting signals. The equivalent of you trying to win an argument by telling the opposition to shut up. As time passes the numbers supporting each decision vary, heading towards a single answer. When a large enough consensus of opinion is reached then hooray! You have just made a decision.

As was previously mentioned this is a technique that we use because it works, in fact every creature with a complex brain uses it. Bees do not have complex brains, they are fuzzy little colourful balls that fly into flowers and build hexagons; yet they use the same technique. No bee is smart enough to use the technique, so they use many bees, and form a hive mind. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on January 21, 2012 in Articles, Trivia

 

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197. Television Bouncing Back

[Edit: It has been brought to my attention, and confirmed by extra research, that this incident was an April Fools Joke. Still, it is an interesting joke, so the article shall remain and I have adjusted the ending so that you may learn something. Enjoy!]

In 2009, some listeners in received some peculiar signals hailing from the gulf of space. The listeners were at the Arecibo Observatory, a vast white dip 305m across in Puerto Rico. It pointed out to space and listened, this space sound seemed oddly familiar. When Radio Astronomer Dr Venn saw these signals he recognised them at once. They occupied the band between 41 and 68 MHz. The band used for old television broadcasts.

His team and a team from the BBC set to work boosting the signals and digitally enhancing the resulting images. the results were surprising in their fidelity, after capturing 7 weeks of footage they managed to reveal that some of the footage included images of fish people, mutant solonians and a host of other barely explainable images. The BBC team had managed to recover original episodes of Doctor Who, the longest running Science Fiction show of all time which still graces many television screens.

...from the depths of space

This was not a case of stray satellite or aliens putting on repeats, it was a case of reflection. By dating the recordings found the teams discovered that the broadcasts were 47 years old. Also these were not repeats but the original broadcasts in their entirety. They had flown out into space and the speed of light, hit the ‘bounce anomaly’ 24 light years away and come back from the depths of space so that we could all enjoy our old Doctor Who episodes again.

Now, unfortunately this was a joke, but the science behind it is very feasible.Television was one of the first pieces of technology to announce our presence throughout space, sending out signals that can easily be picked up by anything they run into. In fact many believe that if we do contact other life, this is how they shall find us. Because compared to the unimaginable gulf of space, we are horrendously noisy.

Even now most of the signals carry on, unimpeded in space. They have reached nearby solar systems and have carried on, far beyond our aged Voyager probes, carrying an unintended flag and message. The Voyager space probes carry sound, position and even human blood upon them. Yet the television signals tells anything that will listen about us. They show what we love, what we hate and what we do. Even how we work, much more detail than is contained on those simple probes.

It is not irrational to think that at some point in space and time, sentient life will see our shows, our brilliant, bemusing broadcasts. If they can arrange them correctly they would be able to see a corrupted, fuzzy version of the original broadcasts, and who knows what they might think. If all goes well, they might even be impressed.

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Posted by on December 20, 2011 in Articles

 

196. Underneath the Lake

Witley Park lies in the county of Surrey, England. In 1889 it was founded by Whitaker Wright, a man who had made a fortune in the oil business. For himself he constructed a grand house with a theatre, ballroom and artificial lakes. In 1904 he took his own life and the estate changed hands.

In its current state some parts have been modernised and other left to disintegrate but certain fantastical parts of the park have stood the test of time.

There were two additional rooms on the estate, but they were less noticeable than one might expect. In one tree on the estate there is a door. Go through the door and navigate the sinking subterranean stairs. Next you commandeer a small boat and take a rowing trip. Then a large pair of doors appear, open them and see the majesty of a whole room, underground.

The glass a vivid yellow fills in the dome above. Covering it is a layer of algae obscuring the magnificent view of the artificial lake. It is ballroom and exists to this day. In fact the second room does as well. If one continues on through the ballroom you will reach a second room enshrined in glass, a conservatory. A place where guests could relax and watch fish swim by. Now that, too, is garnished in a fine layer of green grime.

Those lonely, lost, lake-laden rooms languish once more in obscurity. Witley Park used to be a place for courses and conferences, astounding many visitors but now it is now private property. This iconic and ethereal sight shall remain one man’s pleasure for a while longer. At least we have the photographs.

 
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Posted by on December 9, 2011 in Articles, Trivia

 

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195. Wait and Sea, the Tale of Poon Lim

1942, World War II was raging across the land and the oceans too. At this time Britain sent out a call for help, and many Chinese responded. One of these brave or foolish souls was Poon Lim. He was working as second mess steward on board the SS Benlomond and became quickly accustomed to life on board.

The SS Benlomond was a merchant steamer, unremarkable, and equally unarmed. German U-Boats scoured the seas for their metallic prey. Ready to shoot on sight. On November 23 1942 a German U-Boat sighted the SS Benlomond and contact was made. Contact in the form of two explosive torpedoes. That did not go down well.

SS Benlomond

2 hours after the sinking, Poon Lim happened upon a life raft and flailed in its general direction. I say ‘flailed‘ because during World War II, an ability to swim was not required to be in the Navy. This led to a surprisingly large amount of drownings among Navy staff throughout the war, even when rescue was swift on arrival. Eventually, after much uncoordinated splashing, he reached the side of the raft and hauled his soaking self on board.

Once he had recovered from the physical exertion he examined the raft. It was a ‘Carley Float Life Raft‘ and fairly well stocked. Among the supplies were some biscuit tins (complete with biscuits), a 10 gallon jug of water, flares, an electric torch and a bag of sugar lumps. More than enough for a short trip. Many things could be said about Poon Lim’s ensuing journey, ‘short’ is not one of them. In fact Poon Lim spent 133 days in the Pacific Ocean, a record of epic proportions.

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Posted by on December 2, 2011 in Articles

 

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