Tag Archives | History

The Myth of the Perpetual Motion Machine

A diagram showing Redheffer's machine.

A diagram showing Redheffer’s machine.

History is rife with intriguing stories of conmen and their ploys. The pathetic, but interesting, story of Charles Redheffer is a testament to the fact that smart men will always expose the dumb man (especially when they are as arrogant as Charles Redheffer).

In 1812, Mr. Redheffer arrived in Philadelphia claiming that he had invented a “perpetual motion machine.” He claimed that it required nothing to run. Quickly Redheffer became something of a celebrity in Philadelphia, where he charged the locals to witness his fantastical machine at work.

Redheffer’s downfall in Philadelphia began after he brazenly asked the city to help fund a larger version of the machine. City officials arrived to inspect the machine, but were only allowed to view “through a barred window, as Redheffer was concerned anyone going near the machine might damage it” or, you know, they might discover his fraudulent claims. One of the inspectors’ sons was skeptical of Redheffer’s machine and “noticed that the gears of the perpetual motion machine were worn in the wrong direction if it was really powering the other device.… Read the rest

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You (Had) The Right to Resist Unlawful Arrest

600px-Seal_of_the_United_States_Supreme_Court.svg

Seal of the United States Supreme Court.

1893 – ‘If in the course of arresting it becomes necessary for the citizen to take the life of the officer, the charge against the citizen shall not exceed manslaughter.’ Plummer v. State, 136 Ind. 306.

1900 – In the historic ruling of John Bad Elk v. U.S., the Supreme Court stated:

“Where the officer is killed in the course of the disorder which naturally accompanies an attempted arrest that is resisted, the law looks with very different eyes upon the transaction, when the officer had the right to make the arrest, from what it does if the officer had no right. What may be murder in the first case might be nothing more than manslaughter in the other, or the facts might show that no offense had been committed.”

Although the precedent of this ruling has since been overturned, it was actually stated by the Supreme Court in the year 1900.  What are the chances these days you would be indicted of manslaughter if you took the life of an unlawful-law-officer?  Maybe you need to have the middle name “Bad.”  And the last name “Elk.”

Read more about “Your Right of Defense Against Unlawful Arrest” here.… Read the rest

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America’s Love of All Things Nuclear: Starfish Prime

Have you heard of Starfish Prime? In the 1960s, the US government shot a nuclear bomb into space where it detonated. It’s assumed that the blast caused many satellite failures in ensuing months.

via The Huffington Post:

The resulting nuclear explosion in space, reports Discover Magazine, was a pulse of energy so strong it affected electrical circuits, power lines, and streetlights in Hawaii, nearly 600 miles away.

The purpose of this test was, basically, just to see what would happen, notes HowStuffWorks. Specifically, researchers wanted examine how the explosion would affect the Van Allen Radiation Belts — bands of high-energy protons and electrons that follow the Earth’s natural magnetic field — to see if they could be manipulated for national defense purposes.

Scientists learned plenty from the experiment, and bystanders from Hawaii to New Zealand were treated to a view of “rainbow skies,” but according to NPR, this “greatest man-made light show” actually resulted from radioactive particles coming into contact with oxygen and nitrogen in Earth’s atmosphere.

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Micah Hanks On ‘The Bizarre Mechanical Messiah of John Murray Spear’

Steampunk MaskMysterious Universe’s Micah Hanks has written a rather excellent piece on nineteenth century freethinker and all-around oddball John Murray Spear. It’s definitely worth a read.

Clergyman, abolitionist, secret-society founder, 1850′s women’s rights and free-love advocate… and eventually a steam-punk “godsmith” seeking to create a kind of holier-than-holy, copper-bound mecha-messiah.

Needless to say, John Murray Spear must have been a sight to be held in his day.

Touting the virtues of extra-marital sex and birth control by the middle 1850s, he was indeed a renegade for his time, having been essentially excommunicated by his brothers and sisters in the Universalist Church of America, under which he had served as a minister for more than two decades. Now, rather than seeking to serve the will of God, he had changed gears in the most literal sense.

It was time to institute a new age, Spear believed, and with the wisdom of long-dead scientific geniuses he claimed to be channeling, his aim was to create a new kind of God for the coming utopian age of enlightened thinkers.

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Communing with the Muse, Letting History be its Sexy Self and Coping with Tragedy. With Philosopher, Author and Top-Notch Human, Daniele Bolelli

Via Midwest Real
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Daniele Bolelli“Once you lose attachment to how you want things to be because you realize you don’t control anything, there’s a curiously liberating aspect of that. I’ve always been a control freak, I’ve always felt that if I try hard enough, everyone I love will be kept safe and everything will be okay. Being shown, in such brutal terms, that that’s simply not the way it works, in someways, it messed me up.  I’ve been through hell, but on another level, if you pile up so much tragedy, it either destroys you, or you just start laughing about it. Because at the end of the day, no one gets out alive.” Daniele Bolelli

When a certain type of person achieves monetary success and notoriety, one of their first moves is to cultivate some sort of bullshit persona.  I’m talking a VIP, tinted window, sunglasses on indoors set of behaviors.  What exactly is that?  I’ll tell you, it’s fear.… Read the rest

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Harvard Confirms It Has Book Bound In Human Flesh

book fleshA few weeks ago we ran a story about Harvard University’s library containing books bound in human flesh. Scientists at Harvard have now confirmed the report for at least one volume, Arsène Houssaye’s Des destinées de lame, per The Independent:

Harvard scientists have confirmed a volume in one of its libraries is “without a doubt” bound in human skin after a series of tests conducted on the binding confirmed the origin of the material.

Scientists and conservators used several different methods to test the binding and are now “99.9 per cent” sure the material covering the book, Arsène Houssaye’s Des destinées de l’ame, is of human origin.

A team used a process known as peptide mass fingerprinting to examine microscopic samples of the covering and eliminate the chance that the 19th century book was made out of other binding materials such as sheep or goat skin.

The binding was then analysed further to determine the order of amino acids, the building blocks of each peptide, which are different in each species.

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Utopia Through Digital Cooperation, Bitcoin and a Little Bit of Gin. Featuring Jeffrey Tucker

PIC: Philafrenzy (PD)

PIC: Philafrenzy (PD)

Via Midwest Real

“You can look at the historical trajectory.  From a technological point of view, we’ve gone to ever-more aggregated collectives… And now, in the last 15 years we’ve seen this great innovation of open source distributed networks and peer-to-peer relationships that distribute power equally… Bitcoin fits into this because it’s the ultimate peer-to-peer monetary system.  You don’t have to depend on some powerful third party… You just take the power on your own and possess it and own it and control your life, and that’s what we all want.” – Jeffrey Tucker

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My Brain has Melted- Author and High-Ranking Freemason Robert W. Sullivan Blasts a Torrent of Hidden Knowledge Into Your Ears.

OMG, THEY'RE TOTES WATCHING US RIGHT NOW

OMG, THEY’RE TOTES WATCHING US RIGHT NOW!

Author and 32nd degree Freemason, Robert W. Sullivan discusses the influence of ancient mysteries, ceremonies, sages and astral bodies on the very foundation of America.

I remember it well- the first time I heard the phrase “Freemason”.  Sure, in hindsight, it came from an uneducated idiot at a college party, but it was enough to make me rush to Google for enlightenment.  My 20-year-old brain couldn’t believe what it had read.  Masons seemed to be the stuff of fiction.  A shadowy cabal of powerful men linked to basically every major event that lead to the establishment of the United States.  It was well known- George Washington, Ben Franklin and and a slew of other founding fathers we worship were members of this secretive fraternal order shrouded in creepy symbols, weird phrases and secret handshakes.  How could I not have known this?  Then I came across the claims that masons were devil worshipers, prayed to idols and practiced black magic.
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In Commemoration of the Armenian Genocide: How Christianity Came to Armenia, Myth vs. Fact, Two Tales from a Priest

Jean-Léon_Gérôme_-_The_Christian_Martyrs'_Last_Prayer_-_Walters_37113_thumbvia chycho

Last year, in commemoration of the Armenian Genocide, I shared a story from my father. This year, I would like to share the account of how Christianity came to Armenia as told by a priest.

A few years ago I attended an Armenian dinner function. A number of friends and family were in attendance including two Armenian priests. As usual, the conversations were lively and the food and drinks abundant – merriment and passionately uninhibited exchange of ideas is the norm in these gatherings.

Post dinner, while everyone was taking delight in what appeared to be an endless supply of sweets and bottomless cups of coffee and tea, one of the priests asked a question: “who here knows how and why Armenians adopted Christianity?”

All Armenians, even the atheists, are aware and will proudly share the fact that the Armenian Apostolic Church “is the world’s oldest national church”; Armenia being “the first country to adopt Christianity as its official religion in AD 301.” That Etchmiadzin is considered to be “the oldest cathedral in the world”, and that the Armenian Christian order is unique on the religious landscape and has thus been granted stewardship of a quarter of the Old City in Jerusalem.

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The Mortsafe: How To Protect Yourself From Bodysnatchers

mortsafeVia Kuriositas, this was a must-have for personal security during the height of the Victorian corpse-snatching era:

Medical students in the United Kingdom of the nineteenth century faced a quandary. They had been accustomed to using the corpses of executed criminals to study anatomy. However, the annual demand for bodies to dissect by the growing medical profession surpassed ten times that number. A thriving and historically infamous bodysnatching trade arose. However, those mourning the loss of a loved one soon developed a weapon against this: the mortsafe.

First made around 1816, the mortsafe was ingenious: a complex of iron rods and plates descending in to the ground and rising above it.

If this seems like a great length to go to, there was good reason. Grave robbers were crafty and would go to even greater lengths to retrieve a corpse from its coffin. It wasn’t, as you might imagine, a straightforward case of sneaking in to the graveyard and digging the deceased up at the dead of night.

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