Archive for the 'History' Category

Scientists to unleash something lurking 20 million years in Antarctica

Perhaps someone should send them a copy of At The Mountains of Madness. Washington Post:

After drilling for two decades through more than two miles of antarctic ice, Russian scientists are on the verge of entering a vast, dark lake that hasn’t been touched by light for more than 20 million years.

Scientists are enormously excited about what life-forms might be found there but are equally worried about contaminating the lake with drilling fluids and bacteria, and the potentially explosive “de-gassing” of a body of water that has especially high concentrations of oxygen and nitrogen.

snip

“If it goes well, a breakthrough opens up a whole new chapter in our understanding of our planet and possibly moons in our solar system and planets far beyond,” he said. “If it doesn’t go well, it casts a pall over the whole effort to explore this wet underside of Antarctica.”

If all goes as I suspect and we awaken a slumbering Cthulhu, I just want to take this opportunity now to thank you all. We had a good run. If we survive, I’ll be back with my regular schedule of irregular posting.

75 abandoned, long vacant theaters

Via Roger Ebert, I love places like this.

Sure, it’d be nice for these glorious venues to be open for live performances and shows, but the empty, decayed spaces appeal to me too.

If you’re still looking…

…for a belated holiday present for your favorite steampunk/airship pirate wannabe/pulp aficionado/Edwardian engineering fan/over-the-top Burner who’s gonna out-do that damn motorized dragon, might I suggest that you could do worse than get them a copy of D’Orcy’s Airship Manual: An international register of airships with a compendium of the airship’s elementary mechanics?

How could you go wrong? It has the word ‘compendium’ in the subtitle!

Hey… does this belong under DIY, too?

[via The Stranger, from an article that's also worth your while about a Seattle-area bookstore that has installed a print-on-demand Espresso Book Machine.]

The Disloyal Vampire, Chapter 11

Chapter 11
(more…)

A woeful horror blog would we be…

…if we failed to observe the 200th anniversary of Edgar Allan Poe’s birth.

1848 daguerreotype of Poe

Happy Birthday, Edgar.

(a red-faced thanks to Evil Mommy for reminding us…)

A mysterious crate left at my door

Early in June I woke at dawn to let my dog out and found a wooden crate, the type used decades ago by a tea importer, outside the back door. The box was nearly identical to one I had found in an old barn in Ohio years earlier. The Ohio crate had contained diaries and journals of several people as well as newspapers and photographs – all from the 1890s – and a previously unknown story from author William Hope Hodgson that appeared to have been written in 1913 shortly before he left for the war that claimed his life. I had published several of the diary entries and the Hodgson story online as The Mystery of the Haunted Vampire.

My dog sniffed the box outside the back porch door with a suspicious air before she walked off to do her business under the trees.

I looked around, but did not see anyone. On top of the crate was an envelope with a handwritten note inside. The writer claimed to have tracked me down and left the chest to me because of my previous interest in the contents of the other crate. I carried the crate inside with my dog following at my heels. I set it on the kitchen table. Inside I found letters, notebooks, folders holding sheaths of yellowed, typewritten manuscripts, and a photo album containing dozens of images from the 1920s and 1930s.

As my morning coffee brewed, I glanced through the contents of the folder on top. It appeared to have been a manuscript written in the style of a 1930s pulp magazine story. My first guess was, of course, that the story was fictional. But as I went through the box and read the notebooks and what appeared to be investigation reports I began to wonder. I now suspect the story referred to actual events and the unknown author wrote up the account as a fictional story. I do not know if the author ever attempted to publish his or her stories, but I suspect from the writing style they were intended for Weird Tales or another pulp horror or adventure magazine such as Weird Spicy Tales.

In the initial story, with chapters posted on Fridays (photos on Wednesdays), and in other stories, there are references to other investigations, hidden pasts, dark deeds referenced only in passing, and secret organizations. I shall do my best to fill in the blanks where possible, but those secrets might be hidden away in other crates, perhaps to be unveiled at a later date.

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15

London at night

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Spanish Civil War

Written on the back of a photo found in the mysterious crate: “My friends celebrate a victory.” Other references refer to Beau Jackson as having volunteered to fight for the Loyalists in the Spanish Civil War in 1936.

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An underground city in Kansas

Ghoulville?

LEAVENWORTH, Kan. — Some Leavenworth residents have been unknowingly walking around above an underground city, and no one seems to know who created it or why.

Windows, doors and narrow paths beneath a title company at South Fourth and Delaware streets lead to storefronts stretching several city blocks and perhaps beyond.

snip

Some speculate the underground town was created in the 1800s and could have been used during slavery or for fugitives.

“We know that it was pretty secretive, whatever it was that was down here, because not too many people know anything about it,” Lemons said.

Ancient computer discovered

From The New York Times:

After a closer examination of the Antikythera Mechanism, a surviving marvel of ancient Greek technology, scientists have found that the device not only predicted solar eclipses but also organized the calendar in the four-year cycles of the Olympiad, forerunner of the modern Olympic Games.

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The new findings, reported Wednesday in the journal Nature, also suggested that the mechanism’s concept originated in the colonies of Corinth, possibly Syracuse, in Sicily. The scientists said this implied a likely connection with the great Archimedes.

Archimedes, who lived in Syracuse and died in 212 B.C., invented a planetarium calculating motions of the Moon and the known planets and wrote a lost manuscript on astronomical mechanisms. Some evidence had previously linked the complex device of gears and dials to the island of Rhodes and the astronomer Hipparchos, who had made a study of irregularities in the Moon’s orbital course.

The Antikythera Mechanism, sometimes called the first analog computer, was recovered more than a century ago in the wreckage of a ship that sank off the tiny island of Antikythera, north of Crete. Earlier research showed that the device was probably built between 140 and 100 B.C.

snip

The mechanism’s connection with the Corinthians was unexpected, the researchers said, because other cargo in the shipwreck appeared to be from the eastern Mediterranean, places like Kos, Rhodes and Pergamon. The months inscribed on the instrument, they wrote, are “practically a complete match” with those on calendars from Illyria and Epirus in northwestern Greece and with the island of Corfu. Seven of the months suggest a possible link with Syracuse.

Inscriptions also showed that one of the instrument’s dials was used to record the timing of the panhellenic games, a four-year cycle that was “a common framework for chronology” by the Greeks, the researchers said.

“The mechanism still contains many mysteries,” Dr. Freeth said, citing questions about some of the remnant gears and a star almanac at the front that has confounded the experts.

It even predates DOS!

The good question down lower in the story is why the technology disappeared.

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