The world is full of unexplained events and discoveries. People are, naturally, intrigued by unknown occurrences and controversial subjects. The current rise in technological advancement and DNA testing has raised questions in the field of archeology and world history. In many cases, these discoveries have been documented, but information surrounding the artifacts or historical event is hidden behind a wall of mystery. This article will be examining ten historical, theoretical and scientific questions that will make you think. The answers to most of these questions are supported by some scientific research, theory and historical documentation, while others are largely rhetorical. This list is longer than the usual but, as you will see, it really benefits from the extra information.
The question: What did Louis Keseberg do?
On April 14, 1846, a group of pioneers known as the Donner Party began their voyage to relocate from the U.S. state of Illinois to California. The trip covered 2,500 miles (4,023 kilometers) over the Great Plains, two mountain ranges and the deserts of the Great Basin. The voyage took between four and six months, but the Donner Party was slowed because they decided to follow a new route called Hastings Cutoff. The group was told that Hastings Cutoff was a shortcut, but, in fact, it was a longer and more treacherous path. Ultimately, 87 people made the journey through the cutoff, which crossed Utah’s Wasatch Mountains and the Great Salt Lake Desert. In all, 37 of the pioneers were members of the Reed and Donner families, while German emigrants Louis and Philippine Keseberg were also traveling with the group.
During the voyage, many of the pioneers documented their daily activities. Louis Keseberg was frequently mentioned in these journals. The connotation surrounding his activates was almost always negative. Louis Keseberg was routinely confronted for abusing his wife and children. Keseberg’s behavior was suspicious to the other travelers and he was regularly accused of theft, malingering and murder. In fact, the Donner Party journals are full of animosity, violent events and war.
After intense snow storms struck the Donner Party, it soon became evident that the group was not going to make it over the mountains before winter. To fend off the cold, all of the families built shelters in the area surrounding Truckee Lake and Alder Creek. By December 13, there was 8 feet (2.4 m) of snow. By the middle of January, most of the group’s food was gone and all that remained was dead human bodies. To stay alive, certain members of the Donner Party began to eat each other. Human bodies were labeled with the names of the deceased and the area became a “Cannibal Camp.”
On February 18, a seven-man rescue party scaled Frémont Pass and reached the Donner camps, which by this time were completely buried in snow. “The first two members of the relief party to enter the camp saw Trudeau carrying a human leg. When they made their presence known, he threw it into a hole with other dismembered bodies.” Twenty-three people were chosen and taken by the rescuers, but the pioneers were weak and some died on the long voyage to California. Dozens of people remained at the Truckee Lake and Alder Creek camp sites. One of these individuals was Louis Keseberg. Little is known about what Keseberg did during this time, but claims have been made that he became a predator.
The final rescue party didn’t reach the camp until April 21, 1847. When they arrived, Louis Keseberg was the only survivor. He was surrounded by dismembered bodies, gallons of blood, and had a fresh pot of human flesh over the fire. The men also found George Donner’s pistols, jewelry and $250 in gold in Keseberg’s cabin. The rescue group threatened to lynch Louis Keseberg, but he was ultimately taken to California. Upon return, Keseberg sued Ned Coffeemeyer for slander and for allegedly spreading stories about his deeds at the Donner camps. Keseberg won his case, but was awarded only $1 in damages. This was evidently all the judicial system felt his reputation was worth. During his lifetime, Louis Keseberg saw over ten of his children die in a number of different ways.
The question: Why Should You Avoid Grapefruit Juice When Taking Certain Drugs?
Many people don’t realize that grapefruit and grapefruit juice has the potential to negatively interact with many drugs and prescribed medications. This happens because the organic compounds in the grapefruit interfere with the intestinal enzyme cytochrome P450 isoform CYP3A4. This causes either an increasing or decreasing bioavailability. The interaction can be witnessed in a number of therapeutic, medical and recreational drugs. Grapefruit juice does not influence injected drugs, only oral substances that undergo first-pass metabolism by the enzyme.
Some of the most common examples of these drugs are a number of sedatives, slow release drugs, ingested marijuana, Codeine, Valium, Norvasc, Pravachol, Cordarone, Viagra, Zoloft, Allegra, and Lipitor. People should not take large amounts of grapefruit while ingesting these medications. When a physician prescribes a specific dose of a drug to a patient, they are working under the assumption that the person will absorb the drug at a specific rate. This calculation is based on the individual’s body type and weight. This information will inform the physician on how much medication to prescribe.
Grapefruit juice has an influence on the enzymes in your gastrointestinal tract that bring food and oral medications into your body. For this reason, grapefruit juice seems to affect both the rate of the drug coming into your body and how quickly it is removed. The end result can be an overdose or an uneven dosage for your size. Grapefruit extends the half life of some drugs, interfering with the body’s ability to break down the substance. The interaction caused by grapefruit compounds lasts for up to 24 hours and the reaction is greatest when the juice is ingested with the drug.
The question: When will Humans Be Pushed into the Uncanny Valley?
The uncanny valley is a hypothesis regarding the field of robotics and artificial intelligence. The theory holds that when robots, human clones, or computers have characteristics that are similar in appearance to that of humans, it causes a feeling of revulsion and anger. The feeling can be so overwhelming that the person has a need to assault and damage the artificial intelligence. The term has been traced to Ernst Jentsch’s concept of the uncanny, which is a psychological instance where something can be familiar, yet foreign at the same time, resulting in a feeling of it being uncomfortably strange.
For example, if you owned a robot that was human like in appearance and intelligence, the simple fact that it was in your house, staring at you, would make you feel uneasy. Because the uncanny is familiar, yet strange, it often creates cognitive dissonance within the person due to the paradoxical nature of being attracted to, yet repulsed by an object at the same time.
This often leads to an outright rejection of the object. The uncanny valley theory states that as a robot is made more humanlike in its appearance and motion, the emotional response from a human to the robot will become increasingly positive and empathic, until a point is reached and we enter the uncanny valley, beyond which the response quickly becomes that of a strong revulsion. Take a look at the picture of this realistic looking robot and tell me what emotional response you feel.
In many people, it will elicit a strange feeling and reaction. It has been hypothesized that these feelings are due to a biological response that is innate to all humans. As we enter the age of 3D advancement, design studios routinely consider the idea of the uncanny valley. Animation companies follow a set of rules when developing characters, making sure that they do not make them to realistic.
The question: Who is Behind the Superdollar?
The superdollar, or superbill, refers to a very high quality counterfeit United States $100 bill that has been circulating around the world. After investigations by the United States, Great Britain, China and other world powers, certain crime syndicates and federal governments have been suspected and implemented in creating the notes. The U.S. Government believes that the counterfeit one hundred-dollar bills are most likely being produced in North Korea. However, other possible sources include Iran or criminal gangs operating out of China. Some have even suggested the possibility of an American CIA involvement.
It has been determined that high ranking government officials or organized crime organizations are responsible for the notes because they are extremely high quality and practically intractable. In fact, they are called superdollars because the technology used to create the counterfeit bills is more advanced and superior to the original. The notes are said to be made with the highest quality ink and paper. They are designed to recreate the various security features of United States currency, such as the red and blue security fibers, the security thread, and the watermark. The notes are printed using the intaglio and typographic printing processes.
The United States has based its accusations against North Korea on the accounts of North Korean defectors, who allegedly described the operation, and on South Korean intelligence sources. Certain witnesses have claimed that the factory where the notes are printed is located in the city of Pyongsong, North Korea, and is part of Division 39. The United States government has suggested that the superbills are being distributed by North Korean diplomats and international crime syndicates. In 2004, The U.S. prohibited Americans from banking with Banco Delta Asia. Since that time, the United States has regularly threatened North Korea with sanctions over its alleged involvement with the counterfeit operation.
On February 2, 2006, banks in Japan voluntarily enforced sanctions on Banco Delta Asia identical to those imposed by the U.S. Some have estimated that 1 in 10,000 US$100 bills are counterfeit. The American $100 bill is the most counterfeited currency in the world. To fight the abuse, the U.S. government has developed a new $100 bill that is more secure. The new design has a complex printing process and holds a new 3D blue security stripe. The bills were initially set to be released in early 2011, but the U.S. Treasury and Federal Reserve suffered a major setback when 1.1 billion new one hundred-dollar bills were printed with a flaw. The release of the new $100 bill has been pushed back until the printing problem can be fixed.
The question: Did Miniature Humans Populate Earth 12,000 Years Ago?
In 2003, a team of Australian-Indonesian archaeologists made a remarkable discovery in Liang Bua Cave, which is located on the Island of Flores, in East Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia. The group was searching for evidence of the original human migration when they discovered a collection of unusual hominoid bones and artifacts. Partial skeletons of nine individuals were unearthed, including one complete cranium. These remains have been the subject of intense research and debate as they appear to have human features, but are miniature in size.
This has caused some scientists to claim that the bones represent a species distinct from modern humans. The new species has been labeled Homo floresiensis (nicknamed Hobbit). The hominoid is noted for its small body and brain size and for its relatively recent survival. Recovered alongside the skeletal remains were stone tools from archaeological horizons ranging from 94,000 to 13,000 years ago. Some of the tools are sophisticated stone implements. The artifacts are all of the size considered appropriate for a 1-meter-tall human population.
Archaeologist Mike Morwood and his colleagues have proposed that a variety of features, both primitive and derived, identify these bones as belonging to a new species. A study of the bones and joints of the arm, shoulder and lower limbs concluded that H. floresiensis was more similar to early humans and apes than modern humans. Some less obvious features that might distinguish H. floresiensis from modern Homo sapiens is the form of the teeth, and the lesser angle in the head of the humerus (upper arm bone). Each of these distinguishing examples has been heavily scrutinized by certain members of the scientific community.
Aside from a smaller body size, the overall specimen seems to resemble Homo erectus. Additional features used to argue for the discovery of a new population of previously unidentified hominids include the absence of a chin, the relatively low twist of the arm bones, and the thickness of the creature’s leg bones. The feet of H. floresiensis are unusually flat in relation to the rest of the body. As a result, when walking, the creature would have to bend its knees further back than modern people do. For this reason, it was not able to move very fast.
The species toes have an unusual shape and the big toe is very short. Local geology suggests that a volcanic eruption on the Island of Flores approximately 12,000 years ago could have been responsible for the demise of H. floresiensis, along with other local fauna, including the elephant species Stegodon. In early December of 2004, paleoanthropologist Teuku Jacob removed most of the Hobbit remains from their repository. The priceless artifacts were damaged upon return. The only pelvis was smashed, ultimately destroying details that reveal body shape, gait and evolutionary history.
The question: Why are Humans Creating and Releasing Genetically Modified Mosquitoes?
Operation Drop Kick was a 1956 U.S. entomological warfare field testing program that modified and deployed the yellow fever mosquito. The goal of the project was to use the mosquito to carry and release a biological warfare agent. The concept was simply to drop a large collection of diseased mosquitoes over a populated area. Operation Drop Kick included a 1956 test in Savannah, Georgia, where uninfected mosquitoes were released in a residential neighborhood, and another 1956 test in Avon Park, Florida, where 600,000 diseased mosquitoes were released on the city.
Between the years 1956-1957, several U.S. Army biological warfare experiments were conducted in the city of Avon Park. In the experiments, Army biological weapon researchers released millions of mosquitoes on the town in order to see if the insects would spread yellow fever and dengue fever. The residents of Avon Park were not notified of the deadly experiments. Hundreds of residents contracted a wide array of illnesses, including fevers, respiratory problems, stillbirths, encephalitis and typhoid. Army researchers pretended to be public health workers, so that they could photograph and perform medical tests on the victims. Several people died as a result of the program.
The experiments in Avon Park were concentrated in low-income neighborhoods, in areas that were predominantly black with newly constructed housing projects. In 1978, a Pentagon document titled, Biological Warfare: Secret Testing & Volunteers revealed that similar experiments were conducted in Key West, Florida. Many people have raised the question of why the U.S. government was playing around with the Dengue fever virus. Dengue fever is an infectious disease that causes a number of symptoms, including severe headaches, a petechial rash and muscle and joint pains. In a small proportion the disease progresses to life-threatening complications. Since the middle of the 1950s, the rates of Dengue fever infection have increased dramatically, with approximately 50-100 million people being infected yearly. The disease has become a global epidemic in more than 110 countries with 2.5 billion people living in areas where it is prevalent.
In 2009, the British biotechnology giant Oxitec announced that they had developed a genetically-modified (GM) mosquito (OX513A) that, apart from a specific chemical antibiotic, is unable to successfully repopulate. After intense media scrutiny, the company gave a statement which indicated that the GM mosquitoes may help fight the spread of dengue fever by reducing or eliminating the wild mosquito population. In 2009, Oxitec released millions of the OX513A test mosquitoes over the Cayman Islands. Many people have questioned the decision to fight the spread of Dengue fever by using more infected mosquitoes. Nobody knows for sure what will happen when the new GM mosquitoes interact with animals and human life, or how the mosquitoes altered genes will disrupt the environment.
The question: How did David Berg Convince Women that Flirty Fishing was Acceptable?
In 1968, a man named David Berg developed a new religious movement named the Children of God. The group devoted their time to spreading the message of Jesus’ love and salvation. With the enforcement of strict regulations, David Berg preached about the de-Christianization and decay of moral values in Western society. He viewed the trends towards a New World Order as setting the stage for the rise of the Antichrist. Remarkably, Berg lived in seclusion, communicating with his followers and the public via nearly 3,000 Mo Letters.
In the 1970s, the Children of God began to expand to all areas of the world. David Berg discussed a message of salvation, apocalypticism, and spiritual revolution against the outside world, which the members called the System. The group’s liberal stance on sexuality led to concerns and investigations regarding child abuse. However, the most publicized practice organized by David Berg and the Children of God was named Flirty Fishing. Flirty Fishing is a form of religious prostitution that was practiced by the Children of God from 1974-1987. The term refers to Matthew 4:19 from the New Testament, in which Jesus tells two fishermen that he will make them “fishers of men.”
Cult leader David Berg extrapolated from this that women in his movement should be flirty fishers, with the targeted men being called “fish.” The cult published several documents with instructions for young women. Flirty Fishing was defined as using sex appeal for proselytizing. If masturbation, oral, or penetrative sex ensued, this was termed as “loving sexually” and counted as more brownie points within the group. The Children of God claimed that the purpose of Flirty Fishing was for women to show God’s love to men, to win converts for the group, and to garner material and financial support.
The cult members regularly lived in communes, traveled around the world and spent their time proselytizing rather than earning a regular income. For this reason the financial aspect of Flirty Fishing soon became dominant. The cult used the practice to curry favors with local men of influence such as business men, politicians or police. Women who objected to being what the cult itself blatantly described as “God’s whores” or “hookers for Jesus” were admonished not to “let self and pride enter in.” They were continually reminded that their body didn’t really belong to them as according to 1 Corinthians 6:19–20. Many of the Flirty Fishers had boyfriends or were married, or had children.
In family publications, Flirty Fishers and Escort Services frequently reported that they found their work hard, dangerous and exhausting. The financial benefit of Flirty Fishing quickly led to a regular Escort Servicing (ESing) operation within the cult. The Children of God practiced Flirty Fishing and Escort Servicing from 1974 until 1987, when it was officially abandoned, partially because of the AIDS epidemic. During this time, the women were expected to keep an exact record of their “fruits.” A 1988 statistic showed that more than 223,000 men had been “fished.” The cult generally discouraged birth control and for this reason many of the ladies became pregnant. Among the Children of God organization (today’s Family International), the unwed children were labeled Jesus babies.
The question: Who Died at Skeleton Lake?
One of the greatest mysteries of the Himalayas is a small glacial lake named Roopkund. The lake is located in the Uttarakhand state of India, at an altitude of about 5,029 meters (16,499 feet). The area surrounding the lake is completely uninhabited and the water is a five day treacherous hike from civilization. In 1942, Roopkund gained the name Skeleton Lake when over five hundred human skulls, bones and artifacts were discovered surrounding and inside the ice. These human bones have baffled scientists for decades because historians don’t understand who these people were or what they were doing so high in the mountains. Roopkund was never a historically significant region and no traces of any trade routes to Tibet have been found.
The documentary Skeleton Lake, made by the National Geographic Channel, claimed that Roopkund was the venue for the Garhwali religious festival called Nanda Jaat yatra, which is held every 12 years, but facts supporting this claim are limited. It was originally believed by specialists that the people died from an epidemic, landslide or blizzard, but after an archaeological team examined the site in 2004, it was determined that the skulls contained severe head trauma. Based on this evidence it has been hypothesized that the people died from a sudden hailstorm. It has been suggested that the hailstones were as large as tennis balls, and with no shelter in the open Himalayas, all of the people perished in the storm.
Probably the most remarkable discovery came after scientists conducted DNA tests on the bones, which proved to have a rich source of DNA material. The bodies were dated to AD 850 with a possible mistake up to 30 years. This date was 600 years earlier than initially reported. Remarkably, the experts have found that the dead individuals belonged to two different teams. One team is marked by a shorter stature of the skeletons, while the other human bones are significantly taller. The recorded DNA genetic mutations have caught the attention of the scientific community. It remains unclear exactly who these people were? What they looked like or why they were traveling in this remote area of the Himalayas?
The question: How many Humans were Left on Earth after the Toba Supereruption?
Lake Toba is the largest volcanic lake in the world. It is located in the middle of the northern part of the Indonesian island of Sumatra, with a surface elevation of about 900 meters (2,953 ft). Lake Toba is the site of a supervolcanic eruption that occurred 69,000-77,000 years ago. The event was followed by a massive climate change on Earth. The eruption is believed to have had a VEI intensity of 8, and is thought to be the largest explosive eruption anywhere on Earth in the last 25 million years. The eruption took place in Indonesia, but it deposited an ash layer approximately 15 centimeters thick over the entirety of South Asia.
Since the discovery of the catastrophe, a wide range of theories have been studied and proposed hypothesizing on how large the explosion was and how it impacted the human population on Earth. The Toba catastrophe theory is an idea that was developed and has been supported by various anthropologists and archeologists. The theory suggests that the Lake Toba volcanic eruption had a massive global consequence on Earth, killing almost all humans and creating a population bottleneck in Central Eastern Africa and India. The theory holds that the Lake Toba supervolcanic event plunged the planet into a 6-to-10-year volcanic winter, which resulted in the world’s human population being reduced to 10,000 or even a mere 1,000 breeding pairs, creating a noticeable effect in human evolution.
It has been argued that the Toba eruption produced not only a catastrophic volcanic winter but also an additional 1,000 year cooling episode. The Toba event is the most closely studied supereruption in history. In 1993, science journalist Ann Gibbons first suggested a link between the eruption and a bottleneck in human evolution. According to the bottleneck theory, genetic evidence suggests that all humans alive today, despite an apparent variety, are descended from a very small population, perhaps between 1,000 to 10,000 breeding pairs about 70,000 years ago. The theory suggests that the volcanic eruption isolated and eliminated entire groups of people, causing worldwide vegetation destruction and severe drought in the tropical rainforest belt.
The Lake Toba supereruption may have caused modern human races to differentiate abruptly only 70,000 years ago, rather than gradually over one million years. However, this theory is largely debated in the world of archeology. Modern research conducted by archaeologist Michael Petraglia and other scientists has cast major doubt on the Toba catastrophic theory. We do understand that a major human migration occurred during this time in history. Recent analyses of mitochondrial DNA have set the estimate for the migration from Africa at 60,000–70,000 years ago, which is in line with the dating of the Toba eruption. During the subsequent tens of thousands of years, the descendants of these migrants populated Australia, East Asia, Europe and, finally, the Americas.
The question: How would your Life be Different if Adolf Hitler Died in 1936?
The Second World War changed the landscape of human life on Earth. In January of 1933, the ailing German leader Paul von Hindenburg appointed Adolf Hitler as the Chancellor of Germany. Paul von Hindenburg passed various legislative acts that suspended German civil liberties and gave Hitler administrative control over the entire country. In 1933, the era of Nazi Germany began and Hitler laid out plans for world conquest. Adolf Hitler was a master of deception and media propaganda. In 1934, he began to display the message “One people, One Germany, One Führer.” Hitler made sure to trick foreign powers into thinking that Germany was a safe place to live. In fact, Adolf Hitler was named the U.S. Time Magazine person of the year in 1938.
During this time in German history, Adolf Hitler took control over the youth. He passed laws that forced German teachers to use Nazi propaganda. German children were taught to despise Jewish people and to show all loyalty to the Third Reich. He organized a program called Hitler’s Youth, which recruited all kids over the age of nine years. Between the years 1936-1938, over 8 million German children took part in Hitler’s Youth oath of allegiance. In 1935, Hitler passed the first laws against the Jewish population. He ordered that all Jewish people were no longer German citizens. Marriage and sexual intercourse between Germans and Jews was outlawed. At this time, Hitler pushed thousands of white Arian German women into pregnancy. He demanded that teenage girls attend Nuremberg rally camps, where they had sexual intercourse with boys and became pregnant. In 1936, nine hundred girls came home from the Nuremberg rally pregnant. Unwed mothers were knows as the Führer’s brides.
In 1938, Hitler annexed Austria under Nazi rule. This was accomplished because Mussolini’s Fascist Italy made an alliance with the Third Reich and no longer was protecting Austria. Many people welcomed Hitler into Austria, but within days of the move, 70,000 Austrians were sent to concentration camps. During the Second World War German armies occupied most of Europe. Nazi forces defeated France, took Norway, invaded Yugoslavia and Greece and occupied much of the European portion of the Soviet Union. Germany also forged alliances with Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and, later, Finland, and collaborated with individuals in several other nations.
Hitler’s decision to launch Operation Barbarossa and attack the Soviet Union turned the tide of war. Had Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin remained in alliance how would your life be different today? Would the United States nuclear technology have been used in the European Theatre of World War II? How much influence could one man, Adolf Hitler, really have on the rise of the Third Reich in Germany? All of these questions should be considered when examining your ancestry and this dark time in human history.