Tag Archives: population

178. Bat Bombs

–This Article comes courtesy of my good friend Jack Evans.–

In 1942,  American dental surgeon Lytle S. Adams was contemplating bats. As World War II raged on around him he looked into bats as a possible weapon, some kind of animal attack that could no doubt be harnessed in the fight, specifically the Empire of Japan. Four potentially useful biological features of bats were noted, each of which was essential to producing one of the least known, yet most deadly products of the war.

Firstly, they could be found in huge numbers in Texas. This would mean they could easily be ‘mass produced’ as a weapon. Secondly, they could carry more than their own weight in-flight – females can even fly whilst carrying twins. Thirdly, bats can hibernate and during this do not need food or indeed any kind of sustenance or maintenance. If this could be harnessed, they could be made dormant and stored for large lengths of time, then awakened and unleashed on an unsuspecting enemy. Lastly, they fly in darkness and seek out buildings in the day time, meaning that they are both a stealth weapon and would home in on vulnerable buildings. Along with this, bats held other natural advantages. They could defy conventional detection systems. They were difficult to destroy using existing air defences and could easily navigate the confines of cities. With these advantages, he came up with the perfect way to weaponise bats; and so he created the bat-bomb.

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Posted by on August 5, 2011 in Articles


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164. The London Beer Flood

The street before the flood

In St. Giles, a parish of London, lay the Meux and Company Brewery. Inside were housed many several large vats filled to the brim with frothy beer. On 17 October 1814, a vat containing 610,000 litres of beer ruptured. This profusion of beer began a chain of events, the ensuing wave damaged the other vats and caused them too to empty out their contents. The rampant volume of beer increasing with each ruptured vat. The total amount of beer which burst from the distillery was 1,470,000 litres.

The wave of beer tore down Tottenham Court Road and damaged not just two homes but also destroyed the wall of the Tavistock Arms Pub. The first casualty was within the pub, a young Eleanor Cooper; the destruction of the wall caught her off guard. Unable to run the 14-year-old employee was trapped beneath the rubble.

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Posted by on July 3, 2011 in Articles


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142. Sealand, The Unofficial Prinicipality

The Principality of Sealand is an odd case, it is an old World War II floating fort 10km off the coast of Suffolk, England. In 1956 the fort was abandoned, then in 1967 Major Paddy Roy Bates, along with his family and some associates occupied the fort, claiming it to be a new and separate principality. The Principality Of Sealand. Originally it was set up for the British Mr Bates to broadcast his pirate radio station. However it soon became more.

He crowned himself king. In 1968 some British workmen came to service a navigational buoy nearby. Paddy Bates claimed the waters to be part of his territory and his son Michal Bates, shot a rifle to scare them off. Then they went to court on firearms charges. The case could not proceed. A that time anything within 5km of the shore was part of the United Kingdom, and the fort fell just outside of that jurisdiction. It was in international waters and exempt from the rules. Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on June 11, 2011 in Articles, Trivia


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129. The Californian Never City

A ghost town, you know the drill, animals take over houses and swimming pool become stagnant pits – breeding grounds for all manner of creepy crawlies. Now apply that to a city. A city so abandoned that most of it was never built in time for it all to crumble. California City.

It was the pipe dream of real estate developer Nat Mendelsohn. In 1958 he founded California City, hoping to produce the next bustling Californian metropolis on a size and scale which would rival that of Los Angeles. To give him credit, Mr Mendelsohn got admirably close; to this very California City is the 3rd largest city by area in the whole of California, second only to San Diego and the eminent Los Angeles. California City covers its 527 km2 with the bare minimum though whereas its competitors stack their buildings up like precarious towers of bricks waiting to be pushed over.

California City does not have this, it keeps a low profile: 14,000 people occupy its few buildings, they experience the collapsed dream of California City. It is mainly a network of roads, all meticulously named and scratched into the desert sand like some cryptic message from an alien race. One that very much liked signs and even named every single cul-de-sac with grandiose names such as Planet Lane and Alpha Street, names which now seem pathetic, near childish. Naive names marking a fictional city in meticulous detail.

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Posted by on May 29, 2011 in Articles, Trivia


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128. The Long Vote

Queueing for a chance to vote

1.21 billion people, the second largest country by population on earth. That is India, the famed sub-continent tacked onto Asia. Thanks to China’s political position India is the largest democracy in the world. This naturally means that every few years there is a vote. It is described as the largest en masse democratic movement in the world. The Indians like a vote, and they turn out in force.

Voting is seen as a great thing in India and if you can, you will. This means there are hundreds of millions of voters at every election. This takes time. In fact it takes 7 whole months  for everyone to submit their vote. Day in day out with polling stations at every hall and train station and even post offices. People queue around the block to vote each day but it never goes any faster. However there is one more feat of time management that the Indian vote manages to pull.

After 7 solid months of voting, thanks to a fantastic e-voting infrastructure every single vote is counted in a single day. Now isn’t that something?

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Posted by on May 28, 2011 in Articles, Trivia


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124. Power of The Storm

Hulking storms which dwarf countries. Humongous towering low pressure systems which regularly cause billions of dollars of damage. Hurricanes, how do they do it. The answer is energy. They produce energy on scales barely conceivable.

These structures are greater in size than many countries and are powered by the largest accessible energy reserve on the planet. The warm oceans over which they swirl, siphoning up every last bit of energy. The energy makes them fest, the gorge themselves on it and swell with every moment. However nothing can hold such energy.

So they emit it. In terms of heat and kinetic energy.

Hurricanes emit between 50 and 200 exajoules a day, or 1 Petawatt of power. That is 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 Joules of power. To provide some scale, it is 200 times the electricity generating capacity of the world, and 70 times the rate at which all humans combined on earth use energy. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on May 24, 2011 in Articles, Trivia


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123. Skeletons At Roopkund

1942, India; A group of British Forest guards patrolled 16,000 feet above sea level in the area around Roopkund, all was orderly and calm until they made a most disturbing find. They were passing a small valley, at the bottom of it was a frozen lake. In the relative summer heat it was melting. Releasing its contents slowly. The small lake was filled with bodies, the further the ice melted the more bodies which appeared. 200 bodies were found in all, something horrible had happened there and many people tried to find out exactly what it was.

1942 was of course during World War II so the first logical leap was to assume the bodies to be those of Japanese soldiers. This was not the case. The bodies were preserved down to a few stray pieces of hair, flesh and of course a plethora of bones. They were too decomposed, and the bones not fresh enough. With them also were rings, spears, bamboo staves and leather sandals. These were much older than the war. How old though?

That question took a great deal of time to answer. In the intervening time theories emerged as to what could possibly cause 200 people to die at the same time. These theories ranged from an Epidemic to ritual suicide. The answer was not to be revealed until after an expedition 62 years later, in 2004.

DNA samples from some of the 200 bodies showed them all to date to approximately 850 AD, whilst the DNA evidence showed two groups of people, one was a family or group of closely related people, whilst the other groups DNA much more closely resembled the DNA of locals, suggesting that the second group had been hired as guides and porters. The most likely story suggests that the closely related group were on a pilgrimage and were traveling with the help of locals, they were passing by the frozen Roopkund Lake when the incident occurred.

Figuring out exactly what the incident was the next part. Closer examination of the bodies showed that they all died in the same way. All 200 from damage to their skulls, but not from any weapon, the short cracks in their skulls suggested something much rounder. In fact none of the injuries occurred beneath shoulder level, as if some terrific blows had been rained down from up high.

Researchers struggled with the problem until they heard a single folk song. An ancient and traditional Himalayan song which spoke of a goddess and intruders who trespassed upon her lands. So enraged was the goddess that she rained death upon them by flinging hailstones as hard as iron. The evidence was considered and the song carefully studied. Then consensus was reached, the song was correct.

About the hailstones, not the angry goddess. The 200 died a bizarre and sudden death. Whilst at the bottom of the valley a freak hailstorm emerged above, raining down hailstones that must have been the size of cricket-balls. Stuck in the bottom of the valley there was no shelter to which they could all flee. So they died, 200 in quick succession, each struck a swift blow on the head by the cruel hand of nature. Their remains surrounded the lake and eventually were swallowed by it until they were rediscovered 1,200 years later. A bizarre blizzard massacre.

Sandal and Skeleton on the shore

Of course there may have been a survivor, a sole survivor or many. Someone to crawl out of that valley and tell the story of the angry goddess and the hailstones of iron which did so dangerously fall.

Someone to give rise to the songs. Someone who unwittingly would help solve one of the oldest murder mysteries of all time, the mystery of the frozen skeleton lake. Without them we would only have skeletons, speculation and 1,200 year old leather sandals.

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Posted by on May 23, 2011 in Articles


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