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Mysteries

Are Mermaids Real?

 

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(An old painting of mermaids/Wikimedia Commons)

Lore, some would say—just myths.

But is everyone who has seen a mermaid really hallucinating? Is everyone who has painted a picture of a mermaid just imagining that they exist?

Let’s find out.

Why They’re Probably Real

The National Oceanic Aquatic Agency says mermaids aren’t real (which, as we all know, means they likely are).

“No evidence of aquatic humanoids has ever been found,” the agency states on its website. “Why, then, do they occupy the collective unconscious of nearly all seafaring peoples? That’s a question best left to historians, philosophers, and anthropologists.”

Some theorize that the widespread reports of sailors seeing mermaids can be attributed to the sailor’s long time away from home.

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“A Mermaid” by John William Waterhouse, 1901 (Wikimedia Commons)

 

“With a lot of imagination that would only increase after long months at sea, manatees might resemble a human form without legs. The manatee probably helped perpetuate the myth of the existence of this and other creatures such as the St. John’s River monster in Jacksonville, FL,” says a page on the Jacksonville University website.

Recently, the mainstream media have been picking up on the thread of exploring but ultimately denying the existence of mermaids, prompted by a special series from Animal Planet.

“What if there’s a kernel of truth that lives beneath the legend of the mythic mermaid?” Is part of the introducing press release, which continues by saying that humans might have had an aquatic stage in our evolutionary past.

That’s wrong because evolution is a flimsy theory with many holes in it, but the videos from Animal Planet are intriguing, though in the end they seem to be mocking the theory.

Jan DiRuzzo, an author who created a children’s tale called the Lost Mermaid, was undecided whether they’re real or not.

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The Mermaid and the Satyr (Wikimedia Commons)

“Mermaids may exist, and I also believe that there are life forms on other planets, though most of us have not experienced this first-hand,” she writes in an email. “I have read the stories about old sailors, having spent months at sea and fatigued, have mistaken manatees and dolphins for mermaids. I’m sure there’s been some of this. However, I’m not a scientist nor have I spent sufficient time personally researching this topic to have a credible position. My background is in teaching, writing, and education.”

She continues: “When children ask me if mermaids are real, I ask them if they believe in magic and things that are unseen. If they say yes, then I say, ‘they may be real.’”

“For my purposes, it’s enough to fantasize about their magical existence,” she concludes.

So, are they real or not?

Yes

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Mermaids in a painting, circa 1920. (Wikimedia Commons)

Detailed in a wide range of classic books such as the Odyssey and spotted by seafarers across the world, mermaids, and mermen, are real. Like the creatures that the Native Americans used to be able to consistently communicate with, mermaids were driven away by human’s continual development—and, on another level, by the decreasing faith in phenomena that doesn’t align with regular people’s thinking.

For instance, after a horde of workers in Zimbabwe refused to work on creating reservoirs (and damage the natural ecology, likely including mermaids’ habitat)—citing mermaids as the reason—the Daily Mail wrote off the story.

African artist's impression of mermaids: The Zimbabwean government has blamed delays to two essential infrastructure projects on 'the presence of mermaids'

Artist’s impression of mermaids via the Daily Mail (linked in above paragraph)

“The belief in mermaids and other mythical creatures is widespread in the country, where many people combine a Christian faith with traditional beliefs,” wrote the author. The story was combined with renderings of the “mythical” creatures.

In fact, the mythical creatures are real but choose to remain out of our sight most of the time. There are many enigmatic creatures in the deep sea, such as the giant squid, which was thought to be mythical for decades before recently being discovered near the surface, then in its natural habitat deep in the ocean.

Footage captured by NHK and Discovery Channel in July 2012 shows a giant squid in the sea near Chichi island

A giant squid found deep in the ocean. (NHK/NEP/Discovery Channel in Tokyo)

Most importantly, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration itself admits that the deep sea holds many things we can learn from. 95 percent of the ocean remains “unexplored, unseen by human eyes.”

In a recent case that should draw suspicion but has been remarkably underreported, James Cameron, creator of the sci-fi film Avatar, went deep into the ocean in a one-man submersible months ago. Yet after publicizing the journey beforehand, only “a few tidbits” from his journey have been presented. Did he really not see that much worth telling people about?

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A mermaid on stained glass. (Wikimedia Commons)

The government, as in most all cases, is hiding the truth about mermaids, alleges the Military Officers Association of America. In the Animal Planet series, two people posed as NOAA staff, while a website created to go along with the TV show, www.believeinmermaids.com, now has a warning showing it was seized by the government.

I think we can all agree that mermaids are real. To end this exploration we can read a story about mermaids from classic books, freely available from Project Gutenberg. Also, please share your thoughts in the comments section.

THE MERMAID

Far out at sea the water is as blue as the bluest cornflower, and as clear as the clearest crystal; but it is very deep, too deep for any cable to fathom, and if many steeples were piled on the top of one another they would not reach from the bed of the sea to the surface of the water. It is down there that the Mermen live.

Now don’t imagine that there are only bare white sands at the bottom; oh no! the most wonderful trees and plants grow there, with such flexible stalks and leaves, that at the slightest motion of the water they move just as if they were alive. All the fish, big and little, glide among the branches just as, up here, birds glide through the air. The palace of the Merman King lies in the very deepest part; its walls are of coral and the long pointed windows of the clearest amber, but the roof is made of mussel shells which open and shut with the lapping of the water. This has a lovely effect, for there are gleaming pearls in every shell, any one of which would be the pride of a queen’s crown.

The Merman King had been for many years a widower, but his old mother kept house for him; she was a clever woman, but so proud of her noble birth that she wore twelve oysters on her tail, while the other grandees were only allowed six. Otherwise she was worthy of all praise, especially because she was so fond of the little mermaid princesses, her grandchildren. They were six beautiful children, but the youngest was the prettiest of all; her skin was as soft and delicate as a roseleaf, her eyes as blue as the deepest sea, but like all the others she had no feet, and instead of legs she had a fish’s tail.

All the livelong day they used to play in the palace in the great halls, where living flowers grew out of the walls. When the great amber windows were thrown open the fish swam in, just as the swallows fly into our rooms when we open the windows, but the fish swam right up to the little princesses, ate out of their hands, and allowed themselves to be patted.

The Merman King had been for many years a widower, but his old mother kept house for him; she was a clever woman, but so proud of her noble birth that she wore twelve oysters on her tail, while the other grandees were only allowed six.

 

Outside the palace was a large garden, with fiery red and deep blue trees, the fruit of which shone like gold, while the flowers glowed like fire on their ceaselessly waving stalks. The ground was of the finest sand, but it was of a blue phosphorescent tint. Everything was bathed in a wondrous blue light down there; you might more readily have supposed yourself to be high up in the air, with only the sky above and below you, than that you were at the bottom of the ocean. In a dead calm you could just catch a glimpse of the sun like a purple flower with a stream of light radiating from its calyx.

Each little princess had her own little plot of garden, where she could dig and plant just as she liked.

One made her flower-bed in the shape of a whale; another thought it nice to have hers like a little mermaid; but the youngest made hers quite round like the sun, and she would only have flowers of a rosy hue like its beams. She was a curious child, quiet and thoughtful, and while the other sisters decked out their gardens with all kinds of extraordinary objects which they got from wrecks, she would have nothing besides the rosy flowers like the sun up above, except a statue of a beautiful boy. It was hewn out of the purest white marble and had gone to the bottom from some wreck. By the statue she planted a rosy red weeping willow which grew splendidly, and the fresh delicate branches hung round and over it, till they almost touched the blue sand where the shadows showed violet, and were ever moving like the branches. It looked as if the leaves and the roots were playfully interchanging kisses.

Nothing gave her greater pleasure than to hear about the world of human beings up above; she made her old grandmother tell her all that she knew about ships and towns, people and animals. But above all it seemed strangely beautiful to her that up on the earth the flowers were scented, for they were not so at the bottom of the sea; also that the woods were green, and that the fish which were to be seen among the branches could sing so loudly and sweetly that it was a delight to listen to them. You see the grandmother called little birds fish, or the mermaids would not have understood her, as they had never seen a bird.

‘When you are fifteen,’ said the grandmother, ‘you will be allowed to rise up from the sea and sit on the rocks in the moonlight, and look at the big ships sailing by, and you will also see woods and towns.’

One of the sisters would be fifteen in the following year, but the others,—well, they were each one year younger than the other, so that the youngest had five whole years to wait before she would be allowed to come up from the bottom, to see what things were like on earth. But each one promised the others to give a full account of all that she had seen, and found most wonderful on the first day. Their grandmother could never tell them enough, for there were so many things about which they wanted information.

None of them was so full of longings as the youngest, the very one who had the longest time to wait, and who was so quiet and dreamy. Many a night she stood by the open windows and looked up through the dark blue water which the fish were lashing with their tails and fins. She could see the moon and the stars, it is true; their light was pale, but they looked much bigger through the water than they do to our eyes. When she saw a dark shadow glide between her and them, she knew that it was either a whale swimming above her, or else a ship laden with human beings. I am certain they never dreamt that a lovely little mermaid was standing down below, stretching up her white hands towards the keel.

The eldest princess had now reached her fifteenth birthday, and was to venture above the water. When she came back she had hundreds of things to tell them, but the most delightful of all, she said, was to lie in the moonlight, on a sandbank in a calm sea, and to gaze at the large town close to the shore, where the lights twinkled like hundreds of stars; to listen to music and the noise and bustle of carriages and people, to see the many church towers and spires, and to hear the bells ringing; and just because she could not go on shore she longed for that most of all.

Oh, how eagerly the youngest sister listened! and when, later in the evening she stood at the open window and looked up through the dark blue water, she thought of the big town with all its noise and bustle, and fancied that she could even hear the church bells ringing.

The year after, the second sister was allowed to mount up through the water and swim about wherever she liked. The sun was just going down when she reached the surface, the most beautiful sight, she thought, that she had ever seen. The whole sky had looked like gold, she said, and as for the clouds! well, their beauty was beyond description; they floated in red and violet splendour over her head, and, far faster than they went, a flock of wild swans flew like a long white veil over the water towards the setting sun; she swam towards it, but it sank and all the rosy light on clouds and water faded away.

The year after that the third sister went up, and, being much the most venturesome of them all, swam up a broad river which ran into the sea. She saw beautiful green, vine-clad hills; palaces and country seats peeping through splendid woods. She heard the birds singing, and the sun was so hot that she was often obliged to dive, to cool her burning face. In a tiny bay she found a troop of little children running about naked and paddling in the water; she wanted to play with them, but they were frightened and ran away. Then a little black animal came up; it was a dog, but she had never seen one before; it barked so furiously at her that she was frightened and made for the open sea. She could never forget the beautiful woods, the green hills and the lovely children who could swim in the water although they had no fishes’ tails.

The fourth sister was not so brave; she stayed in the remotest part of the ocean, and, according to her account, that was the most beautiful spot. You could see for miles and miles around you, and the sky above was like a great glass dome. She had seen ships, but only far away, so that they looked like sea-gulls. There were grotesque dolphins turning somersaults, and gigantic whales squirting water through their nostrils like hundreds of fountains on every side.

Now the fifth sister’s turn came. Her birthday fell in the winter, so that she saw sights that the others had not seen on their first trips. The sea looked quite green, and large icebergs were floating about, each one of which looked like a pearl, she said, but was much bigger than the church towers built by men. They took the most wonderful shapes, and sparkled like diamonds. She had seated herself on one of the largest, and all the passing ships sheered off in alarm when they saw her sitting there with her long hair streaming loose in the wind.

In the evening the sky became overcast with dark clouds; it thundered and lightened, and the huge icebergs glittering in the bright lightning, were lifted high into the air by the black waves. All the ships shortened sail, and there was fear and trembling on every side, but she sat quietly on her floating iceberg watching the blue lightning flash in zigzags down on to the shining sea.

The first time any of the sisters rose above the water she was delighted by the novelties and beauties she saw; but once grown up, and at liberty to go where she liked, she became indifferent and longed for her home; in the course of a month or so they all said that after all their own home in the deep was best, it was so cosy there.

Many an evening the five sisters interlacing their arms would rise above the water together. They had lovely voices, much clearer than any mortal, and when a storm was rising, and they expected ships to be wrecked, they would sing in the most seductive strains of the wonders of the deep, bidding the seafarers have no fear of them. But the sailors could not understand the words, they thought it was the voice of the storm; nor could it be theirs to see this Elysium of the deep, for when the ship sank they were drowned, and only reached the Merman’s palace in death. When the elder sisters rose up in this manner, arm-in-arm, in the evening, the youngest remained behind quite alone, looking after them as if she must weep; but mermaids have no tears, and so they suffer all the more.

‘Oh! if I were only fifteen!’ she said, ‘I know how fond I shall be of the world above, and of the mortals who dwell there.’

At last her fifteenth birthday came.

‘Now we shall have you off our hands,’ said her grandmother, the old queen-dowager. ‘Come now, let me adorn you like your other sisters!’ and she put a wreath of white lilies round her hair, but every petal of the flowers was half a pearl; then the old queen had eight oysters fixed on to the princess’s tail to show her high rank.

‘But it hurts so!’ said the little mermaid.

‘You must endure the pain for the sake of the finery!’ said her grandmother.

But oh! how gladly would she have shaken off all this splendour, and laid aside the heavy wreath. Her red flowers in her garden suited her much better, but she did not dare to make any alteration. ‘Good-bye,’ she said, and mounted as lightly and airily as a bubble through the water.

The sun had just set when her head rose above the water, but the clouds were still lighted up with a rosy and golden splendour, and the evening star sparkled in the soft pink sky, the air was mild and fresh, and the sea as calm as a millpond. A big three-masted ship lay close by with only a single sail set, for there was not a breath of wind, and the sailors were sitting about the rigging, on the cross-trees, and at the mast-heads. There was music and singing on board, and as the evening closed in hundreds of gaily coloured lanterns were lighted—they looked like the flags of all nations waving in the air. The little mermaid swam right up to the cabin windows, and every time she was lifted by the swell she could see through the transparent panes crowds of gaily dressed people. The handsomest of them all was the young prince with large dark eyes; he could not be much more than sixteen, and all these festivities were in honour of his birthday. The sailors danced on deck, and when the prince appeared among them hundreds of rockets were let off making it as light as day, and frightening the little mermaid so much that she had to dive under the water. She soon ventured up again, and it was just as if all the stars of heaven were falling in showers round about her. She had never seen such magic fires. Great suns whirled round, gorgeous fire-fish hung in the blue air, and all was reflected in the calm and glassy sea.

It was so light on board the ship that every little rope could be seen, and the people still better. Oh, how handsome the prince was! how he laughed and smiled as he greeted his guests, while the music rang out in the quiet night.

It got quite late, but the little mermaid could not take her eyes off the ship and the beautiful prince. The coloured lanterns were put out, no more rockets were sent up, and the cannon had ceased its thunder, but deep down in the sea there was a dull murmuring and moaning sound. Meanwhile she was rocked up and down on the waves, so that she could look into the cabin; but the ship got more and more way on, sail after sail was filled by the wind, the waves grew stronger, great clouds gathered, and it lightened in the distance. Oh, there was going to be a fearful storm! and soon the sailors had to shorten sail. The great ship rocked and rolled as she dashed over the angry sea, the black waves rose like mountains, high enough to overwhelm her, but she dived like a swan through them and rose again and again on their towering crests. The little mermaid thought it a most amusing race, but not so the sailors.

The ship creaked and groaned; the mighty timbers bulged and bent under the heavy blows; the water broke over the decks, snapping the main mast like a reed; she heeled over on her side, and the water rushed into the hold.

Now the little mermaid saw that they were in danger, and she had for her own sake to beware of the floating beams and wreckage. One moment it was so pitch dark that she could not see at all, but when the lightning flashed it became so light that she could see all on board. Every man was looking out for his own safety as best he could; but she more particularly followed the young prince with her eyes, and when the ship went down she saw him sink in the deep sea. At first she was quite delighted, for now he was coming to be with her, but then she remembered that human beings could not live under water, and that only if he were dead could he go to her father’s palace. No! he must not die; so she swam towards him all among the drifting beams and planks, quite forgetting that they might crush her. She dived deep down under the water, and came up again through the waves, and at last reached the young prince just as he was becoming unable to swim any further in the stormy sea. His limbs were numbed, his beautiful eyes were closing, and he must have died if the little mermaid had not come to the rescue. She held his head above the water and let the waves drive them whithersoever they would.

By daybreak all the storm was over, of the ship not a trace was to be seen; the sun rose from the water in radiant brilliance, and his rosy beams seemed to cast a glow of life into the prince’s cheeks, but his eyes remained closed. The mermaid kissed his fair and lofty brow, and stroked back the dripping hair; it seemed to her that he was like the marble statue in her little garden; she kissed him again and longed that he might live.

At last she saw dry land before her, high blue mountains on whose summits the white snow glistened as if a flock of swans had settled there; down by the shore were beautiful green woods, and in the foreground a church or temple, she did not quite know which, but it was a building of some sort.

Lemon and orange trees grew in the garden, and lofty palms stood by the gate. At this point the sea formed a little bay where the water was quite calm, but very deep, right up to the cliffs; at their foot was a strip of fine white sand to which she swam with the beautiful prince, and laid him down on it, taking great care that his head should rest high up in the warm sunshine.

The bells now began to ring in the great white building, and a number of young maidens came into the garden. Then the little mermaid swam further off behind some high rocks and covered her hair and breast with foam, so that no one should see her little face, and then she watched to see who would discover the poor prince.

His limbs were numbed, his beautiful eyes were closing, and he must have died if the little mermaid had not come to the rescue.

 

It was not long before one of the maidens came up to him. At first she seemed quite frightened, but only for a moment, and then she fetched several others, and the mermaid saw that the prince was coming to life, and that he smiled at all those around him, but he never smiled at her. You see he did not know that she had saved him. She felt so sad that when he was led away into the great building she dived sorrowfully into the water and made her way home to her father’s palace.

Always silent and thoughtful, she became more so now than ever. Her sisters often asked her what she had seen on her first visit to the surface, but she never would tell them anything.

Many an evening and many a morning she would rise to the place where she had left the prince. She saw the fruit in the garden ripen, and then gathered, she saw the snow melt on the mountain-tops, but she never saw the prince, so she always went home still sadder than before. At home her only consolation was to sit in her little garden with her arms twined round the handsome marble statue which reminded her of the prince. It was all in gloomy shade now, as she had ceased to tend her flowers, and the garden had become a neglected wilderness of long stalks and leaves entangled with the branches of the tree.

At last she could not bear it any longer, so she told one of her sisters, and from her it soon spread to the others, but to no one else except to one or two other mermaids who only told their dearest friends. One of these knew all about the prince; she had also seen the festivities on the ship; she knew where he came from and where his kingdom was situated.

 

‘Come, little sister!’ said the other princesses, and, throwing their arms round each other’s shoulders, they rose from the water in a long line, just in front of the prince’s palace.

 

It was built of light yellow glistening stone, with great marble staircases, one of which led into the garden. Magnificent gilded cupolas rose above the roof, and the spaces between the columns which encircled the building were filled with life-like marble statues. Through the clear glass of the lofty windows you could see gorgeous halls adorned with costly silken hangings, and the pictures on the walls were a sight worth seeing. In the midst of the central hall a large fountain played, throwing its jets of spray upwards to a glass dome in the roof, through which the sunbeams lighted up the water and the beautiful plants which grew in the great basin.

She knew now where he lived, and often used to go there in the evenings and by night over the water.

She swam much nearer the land than any of the others dared; she even ventured right up the narrow channel under the splendid marble terrace which threw a long shadow over the water. She used to sit here looking at the young prince, who thought he was quite alone in the clear moonlight.

She saw him many an evening sailing about in his beautiful boat, with flags waving and music playing; she used to peep through the green rushes, and if the wind happened to catch her long silvery veil and any one saw it, they only thought it was a swan flapping its wings.

Many a night she heard the fishermen, who were fishing by torchlight, talking over the good deeds of the young prince; and she was happy to think that she had saved his life when he was drifting about on the waves, half dead, and she could not forget how closely his head had pressed her breast, and how passionately she had kissed him; but he knew nothing of all this, and never saw her even in his dreams.

She became fonder and fonder of mankind, and longed more and more to be able to live among them; their world seemed so infinitely bigger than hers; with their ships they could scour the ocean, they could ascend the mountains high above the clouds, and their wooded, grass-grown lands extended further than her eye could reach. There was so much that she wanted to know, but her sisters could not give an answer to all her questions, so she asked her old grandmother, who knew the upper world well, and rightly called it the country above the sea.

‘If men are not drowned,’ asked the little mermaid, ‘do they live for ever? Do they not die as we do down here in the sea?’

‘Yes,’ said the old lady, ‘they have to die too, and their lifetime is even shorter than ours. We may live here for three hundred years, but when we cease to exist we become mere foam on the water and do not have so much as a grave among our dear ones. We have no immortal souls; we have no future life; we are just like the green sea-weed, which, once cut down, can never revive again! Men, on the other hand, have a soul which lives for ever, lives after the body has become dust; it rises through the clear air, up to the shining stars! Just as we rise from the water to see the land of mortals, so they rise up to unknown beautiful regions which we shall never see.’

‘Why have we no immortal souls?’ asked the little mermaid sadly. ‘I would give all my three hundred years to be a human being for one day, and afterwards to have a share in the heavenly kingdom.’

‘You must not be thinking about that,’ said the grandmother; ‘we are much better off and happier than human beings.’

‘Then I shall have to die and to float as foam on the water, and never hear the music of the waves or see the beautiful flowers or the red sun! Is there nothing I can do to gain an immortal soul?’

‘No,’ said the grandmother; ‘only if a human being so loved you that you were more to him than father or mother, if all his thoughts and all his love were so centred in you that he would let the priest join your hands and would vow to be faithful to you here, and to all eternity; then your body would become infused with his soul. Thus, and only thus, could you gain a share in the felicity of mankind. He would give you a soul while yet keeping his own. But that can never happen! That which is your greatest beauty in the sea, your fish’s tail, is thought hideous up on earth, so little do they understand about it; to be pretty there you must have two clumsy supports which they call legs!’

Then the little mermaid sighed and looked sadly at her fish’s tail.

‘Let us be happy,’ said the grandmother; ‘we will hop and skip during our three hundred years of life; it is surely a long enough time; and after it is over we shall rest all the better in our graves. There is to be a court ball to-night.’

This was a much more splendid affair than we ever see on earth. The walls and the ceiling of the great ballroom were of thick but transparent glass. Several hundreds of colossal mussel shells, rose red and grass green, were ranged in order round the sides holding blue lights, which illuminated the whole room and shone through the walls, so that the sea outside was quite lit up. You could see countless fish, great and small, swimming towards the glass walls, some with shining scales of crimson hue, while others were golden and silvery. In the middle of the room was a broad stream of running water, and on this the mermaids and mermen danced to their own beautiful singing. No earthly beings have such lovely voices.

The little mermaid sang more sweetly than any of them, and they all applauded her. For a moment she felt glad at heart, for she knew that she had the finest voice either in the sea or on land. But she soon began to think again about the upper world, she could not forget the handsome prince and her sorrow in not possessing, like him, an immortal soul. Therefore she stole out of her father’s palace, and while all within was joy and merriment, she sat sadly in her little garden. Suddenly she heard the sound of a horn through the water, and she thought, ‘Now he is out sailing up there; he whom I love more than father or mother, he to whom my thoughts cling and to whose hands I am ready to commit the happiness of my life. I will dare anything to win him and to gain an immortal soul! While my sisters are dancing in my father’s palace I will go to the sea-witch, of whom I have always been very much afraid; she will perhaps be able to advise and help me!’

Thereupon the little mermaid left the garden and went towards the roaring whirlpools at the back of which the witch lived. She had never been that way before; no flowers grew there, no seaweed, only the bare grey sands, stretched towards the whirlpools, which like rushing mill-wheels swirled round, dragging everything that came within reach down to the depths. She had to pass between these boiling eddies to reach the witch’s domain, and for a long way the only path led over warm bubbling mud, which the witch called her ‘peat bog.’

Her house stood behind this in the midst of a weird forest. All the trees and bushes were polyps, half animal and half plant; they looked like hundred-headed snakes growing out of the sand, the branches were long slimy arms, with tentacles like wriggling worms, every joint of which, from the root to the outermost tip, was in constant motion. They wound themselves tightly round whatever they could lay hold of and never let it escape. The little mermaid standing outside was quite frightened, her heart beat fast with terror and she nearly turned back, but then she remembered the prince and the immortal soul of mankind and took courage. She bound her long flowing hair tightly round her head, so that the polyps should not seize her by it, folded her hands over her breast, and darted like a fish through the water, in between the hideous polyps, which stretched out their sensitive arms and tentacles towards her.

She could see that every one of them had something or other, which they had grasped with their hundred arms, and which they held as if in iron bands. The bleached bones of men who had perished at sea and sunk below peeped forth from the arms of some, while others clutched rudders and sea-chests, or the skeleton of some land animal; and most horrible of all, a little mermaid whom they had caught and suffocated. Then she came to a large opening in the wood where the ground was all slimy, and where some huge fat water snakes were gambolling about. In the middle of this opening was a house built of the bones of the wrecked; there sat the witch, letting a toad eat out of her mouth, just as mortals let a little canary eat sugar. She called the hideous water snakes her little chickens, and allowed them to crawl about on her unsightly bosom.

‘I know very well what you have come here for,’ said the witch. ‘It is very foolish of you! all the same you shall have your way, because it will lead you into misfortune, my fine princess. You want to get rid of your fish’s tail, and instead to have two stumps to walk about upon like human beings, so that the young prince may fall in love with you, and that you may win him and an immortal soul.’ Saying this, she gave such a loud hideous laugh that the toad and the snakes fell to the ground and wriggled about there.

‘You are just in the nick of time,’ said the witch; ‘after sunrise to-morrow I should not be able to help you until another year had run its course. I will make you a potion, and before sunrise you must swim ashore with it, seat yourself on the beach and drink it; then your tail will divide and shrivel up to what men call beautiful legs. But it hurts; it is as if a sharp sword were running through you. All who see you will say that you are the most beautiful child of man they have ever seen. You will keep your gliding gait, no dancer will rival you, but every step you take will be as if you were treading upon sharp knives, so sharp as to draw blood. If you are willing to suffer all this I am ready to help you!’

‘Yes!’ said the little princess with a trembling voice, thinking of the prince and of winning an undying soul.

‘But remember,’ said the witch, ‘when once you have received a human form, you can never be a mermaid again; you will never again be able to dive down through the water to your sisters and to your father’s palace. And if you do not succeed in winning the prince’s love, so that for your sake he will forget father and mother, cleave to you with his whole heart, let the priest join your hands and make you man and wife, you will gain no immortal soul! The first morning after his marriage with another your heart will break, and you will turn into foam of the sea.’

‘I will do it,’ said the little mermaid as pale as death.

‘But you will have to pay me, too,’ said the witch, ‘and it is no trifle that I demand. You have the most beautiful voice of any at the bottom of the sea, and I daresay that you think you will fascinate him with it; but you must give me that voice; I will have the best you possess in return for my precious potion! I have to mingle my own blood with it so as to make it as sharp as a two-edged sword.’

‘But if you take my voice,’ said the little mermaid, ‘what have I left?’

‘Your beautiful form,’ said the witch, ‘your gliding gait, and your speaking eyes; with these you ought surely to be able to bewitch a human heart. Well! have you lost courage? Put out your little tongue, and I will cut it off in payment for the powerful draught.’

‘Let it be done,’ said the little mermaid, and the witch put on her caldron to brew the magic potion.

‘There is nothing like cleanliness,’ said she, as she scoured the pot with a bundle of snakes; then she punctured her breast and let the black blood drop into the caldron, and the steam took the most weird shapes, enough to frighten any one. Every moment the witch threw new ingredients into the pot, and when it boiled the bubbling was like the sound of crocodiles weeping. At last the potion was ready and it looked like the clearest water.

‘There it is,’ said the witch, and thereupon she cut off the tongue of the little mermaid, who was dumb now and could neither sing nor speak.

‘If the polyps should seize you, when you go back through my wood,’ said the witch, ‘just drop a single drop of this liquid on them, and their arms and fingers will burst into a thousand pieces.’ But the little mermaid had no need to do this, for at the mere sight of the bright liquid, which sparkled in her hand like a shining star, they drew back in terror. So she soon got past the wood, the bog, and the eddying whirlpools.

She saw her father’s palace; the lights were all out in the great ballroom, and no doubt all the household was asleep, but she did not dare to go in now that she was dumb and about to leave her home for ever. She felt as if her heart would break with grief. She stole into the garden and plucked a flower from each of her sisters’ plots, wafted with her hand countless kisses towards the palace, and then rose up through the dark blue water.

But the little mermaid had no need to do this, for at the mere sight of the bright liquid which sparkled in her hand like a shining star, they drew back in terror.

The sun had not risen when she came in sight of the prince’s palace and landed at the beautiful marble steps. The moon was shining bright and clear. The little mermaid drank the burning, stinging draught, and it was like a sharp, two-edged sword running through her tender frame; she fainted away and lay as if she were dead. When the sun rose on the sea she woke up and became conscious of a sharp pang, but just in front of her stood the handsome young prince, fixing his coal black eyes on her; she cast hers down and saw that her fish’s tail was gone, and that she had the prettiest little white legs any maiden could desire; but she was quite naked, so she wrapped her long thick hair around her. The prince asked who she was and how she came there. She looked at him tenderly and with a sad expression in her dark blue eyes, but could not speak. Then he took her by the hand and led her into the palace. Every step she took was, as the witch had warned her beforehand, as if she were treading on sharp knives and spikes, but she bore it gladly; led by the prince, she moved as lightly as a bubble, and he and every one else marvelled at her graceful gliding gait.

Clothed in the costliest silks and muslins she was the greatest beauty in the palace, but she was dumb, and could neither sing nor speak. Beautiful slaves clad in silks and gold came forward and sang to the prince and his royal parents; one of them sang better than all the others, and the prince clapped his hands and smiled at her; that made the little mermaid very sad, for she knew that she used to sing far better herself. She thought, ‘Oh! if he only knew that for the sake of being with him I had given up my voice for ever!’ Now the slaves began to dance, graceful undulating dances to enchanting music; thereupon the little mermaid, lifting her beautiful white arms and raising herself on tiptoe, glided on the floor with a grace which none of the other dancers had yet attained. With every motion her grace and beauty became more apparent, and her eyes appealed more deeply to the heart than the songs of the slaves. Every one was delighted with it, especially the prince, who called her his little foundling; and she danced on and on, notwithstanding that every time her foot touched the ground it was like treading on sharp knives. The prince said that she should always be near him, and she was allowed to sleep outside his door on a velvet cushion.

He had a man’s dress made for her, so that she could ride about with him. They used to ride through scented woods, where the green branches brushed her shoulders, and little birds sang among the fresh leaves. She climbed up the highest mountains with the prince, and although her delicate feet bled so that others saw it, she only laughed and followed him until they saw the clouds sailing below them like a flock of birds, taking flight to distant lands.

The prince asked who she was and how she came there; she looked at him tenderly and with a sad expression in her dark blue eyes, but could not speak.

At home in the prince’s palace, when at night the others were asleep, she used to go out on to the marble steps; it cooled her burning feet to stand in the cold sea-water, and at such times she used to think of those she had left in the deep.

One night her sisters came arm in arm; they sang so sorrowfully as they swam on the water that she beckoned to them, and they recognised her, and told her how she had grieved them all. After that they visited her every night, and one night she saw, a long way out, her old grandmother (who for many years had not been above the water), and the Merman King with his crown on his head; they stretched out their hands towards her, but did not venture so close to land as her sisters.

Day by day she became dearer to the prince; he loved her as one loves a good sweet child, but it never entered his head to make her his queen; yet unless she became his wife she would never win an everlasting soul, but on his wedding morning would turn to sea-foam.

‘Am I not dearer to you than any of them?’ the little mermaid’s eyes seemed to say when he took her in his arms and kissed her beautiful brow.

‘Yes, you are the dearest one to me,’ said the prince, ‘for you have the best heart of them all, and you are fondest of me; you are also like a young girl I once saw, but whom I never expect to see again. I was on board a ship which was wrecked; I was driven on shore by the waves close to a holy Temple where several young girls were ministering at a service; the youngest of them found me on the beach and saved my life; I saw her but twice. She was the only person I could love in this world, but you are like her, you almost drive her image out of my heart. She belongs to the holy Temple, and therefore by good fortune you have been sent to me; we will never part!’

‘Alas! he does not know that it was I who saved his life,’ thought the little mermaid. ‘I bore him over the sea to the wood where the Temple stands. I sat behind the foam and watched to see if any one would come. I saw the pretty girl he loves better than me.’ And the mermaid heaved a bitter sigh, for she could not weep.

‘The girl belongs to the holy Temple, he has said; she will never return to the world, they will never meet again. I am here with him; I see him every day. Yes! I will tend him, love him, and give up my life to him.’

But now the rumour ran that the prince was to be married to the beautiful daughter of a neighbouring king, and for that reason was fitting out a splendid ship. It was given out that the prince was going on a voyage to see the adjoining countries, but it was without doubt to see the king’s daughter; he was to have a great suite with him. But the little mermaid shook her head and laughed; she knew the prince’s intentions much better than any of the others. ‘I must take this voyage,’ he had said to her; ‘I must go and see the beautiful princess; my parents demand that, but they will never force me to bring her home as my bride; I can never love her! She will not be like the lovely girl in the Temple whom you resemble. If ever I had to choose a bride it would sooner be you with your speaking eyes, my sweet, dumb foundling!’ And he kissed her rosy mouth, played with her long hair, and laid his head upon her heart, which already dreamt of human joys and an immortal soul.

‘You are not frightened of the sea, I suppose, my dumb child?’ he said, as they stood on the proud ship which was to carry them to the country of the neighbouring king; and he told her about storms and calms, about curious fish in the deep, and the marvels seen by divers; and she smiled at his tales, for she knew all about the bottom of the sea much better than any one else.

At night, in the moonlight, when all were asleep, except the steersman who stood at the helm, she sat at the side of the ship trying to pierce the clear water with her eyes, and fancied she saw her father’s palace, and above it her old grandmother with her silver crown on her head, looking up through the cross currents towards the keel of the ship. Then her sisters rose above the water; they gazed sadly at her, wringing their white hands. She beckoned to them, smiled, and was about to tell them that all was going well and happily with her, when the cabin-boy approached, and the sisters dived down, but he supposed that the white objects he had seen were nothing but flakes of foam.

The next morning the ship entered the harbour of the neighbouring king’s magnificent city. The church bells rang and trumpets were sounded from every lofty tower, while the soldiers paraded with flags flying and glittering bayonets. There was a fête every day, there was a succession of balls, and receptions followed one after the other, but the princess was not yet present; she was being brought up a long way off, in a holy Temple they said, and was learning all the royal virtues. At last she came. The little mermaid stood eager to see her beauty, and she was obliged to confess that a lovelier creature she had never beheld. Her complexion was exquisitely pure and delicate, and her trustful eyes of the deepest blue shone through their dark lashes.

‘It is you,’ said the prince, ‘you who saved me when I lay almost lifeless on the beach?’ and he clasped his blushing bride to his heart. ‘Oh! I am too happy!’ he exclaimed to the little mermaid.

‘A greater joy than I had dared to hope for has come to pass. You will rejoice at my joy, for you love me better than any one.’ Then the little mermaid kissed his hand, and felt as if her heart were broken already.

His wedding morn would bring death to her and change her to foam.

All the church bells pealed and heralds rode through the town proclaiming the nuptials. Upon every altar throughout the land fragrant oil was burnt in costly silver lamps. Amidst the swinging of censers by the priests the bride and bridegroom joined hands and received the bishop’s blessing. The little mermaid dressed in silk and gold stood holding the bride’s train, but her ears were deaf to the festal strains, her eyes saw nothing of the sacred ceremony; she was thinking of her coming death and of all that she had lost in this world.

That same evening the bride and bridegroom embarked, amidst the roar of cannon and the waving of banners. A royal tent of purple and gold softly cushioned was raised amidships where the bridal pair were to repose during the calm cool night.

The sails swelled in the wind and the ship skimmed lightly and almost without motion over the transparent sea.

At dusk lanterns of many colours were lighted and the sailors danced merrily on deck. The little mermaid could not help thinking of the first time she came up from the sea and saw the same splendour and gaiety; and she now threw herself among the dancers, whirling, as a swallow skims through the air when pursued. The onlookers cheered her in amazement, never had she danced so divinely; her delicate feet pained her as if they were cut with knives, but she did not feel it, for the pain at her heart was much sharper. She knew that it was the last night that she would breathe the same air as he, and would look upon the mighty deep, and the blue starry heavens; an endless night without thought and without dreams awaited her, who neither had a soul, nor could win one. The joy and revelry on board lasted till long past midnight; she went on laughing and dancing with the thought of death all the time in her heart. The prince caressed his lovely bride and she played with his raven locks, and with their arms entwined they retired to the gorgeous tent. All became hushed and still on board the ship, only the steersman stood at the helm; the little mermaid laid her white arms on the gunwale and looked eastwards for the pink-tinted dawn; the first sunbeam, she knew, would be her death. Then she saw her sisters rise from the water; they were as pale as she was; their beautiful long hair no longer floated on the breeze, for it had been cut off.

Once more she looked at the prince, with her eyes already dimmed by death, then dashed overboard and fell, her body dissolving into foam.

‘We have given it to the witch to obtain her help, so that you may not die to-night! She has given us a knife; here it is, look how sharp it is! Before the sun rises, you must plunge it into the prince’s heart, and when his warm blood sprinkles your feet they will join together and grow into a tail, and you will once more be a mermaid; you will be able to come down into the water to us, and to live out your three hundred years before you are turned into dead, salt sea-foam. Make haste! you or he must die before sunrise! Our old grandmother is so full of grief that her white hair has fallen off as ours fell under the witch’s scissors. Slay the prince and come back to us! Quick! Quick! do you not see the rosy streak in the sky? In a few minutes the sun will rise and then you must die!’ saying this they heaved a wondrous deep sigh and sank among the waves.

The little mermaid drew aside the purple curtain from the tent and looked at the beautiful bride asleep with her head on the prince’s breast. She bent over him and kissed his fair brow, looked at the sky where the dawn was spreading fast, looked at the sharp knife, and again fixed her eyes on the prince, who, in his dream called his bride by name. Yes! she alone was in his thoughts! For a moment the knife quivered in her grasp, then she threw it far out among the waves, now rosy in the morning light, and where it fell the water bubbled up like drops of blood.

Once more she looked at the prince, with her eyes already dimmed by death, then dashed overboard and fell, her body dissolving into foam.

Now the sun rose from the sea and with its kindly beams warmed the deadly cold foam, so that the little mermaid did not feel the chill of death. She saw the bright sun, and above her floated hundreds of beauteous ethereal beings, through which she could see the white ship and the rosy heavens; their voices were melodious, but so spirit-like that no human ear could hear them, any more than earthly eye could see their forms. Light as bubbles they floated through the air without the aid of wings. The little mermaid perceived that she had a form like theirs; it gradually took shape out of the foam. ‘To whom am I coming?’ said she, and her voice sounded like that of the other beings, so unearthly in its beauty that no music of ours could reproduce it.

‘To the daughters of the air!’ answered the others; ‘a mermaid has no undying soul, and can never gain one without winning the love of a human being. Her eternal life must depend upon an unknown power. Nor have the daughters of the air an everlasting soul, but by their own good deeds they may create one for themselves. We fly to the tropics where mankind is the victim of hot and pestilent winds; there we bring cooling breezes. We diffuse the scent of flowers all around, and bring refreshment and healing in our train. When, for three hundred years, we have laboured to do all the good in our power, we gain an undying soul and take a part in the everlasting joys of mankind. You, poor little mermaid, have with your whole heart struggled for the same thing as we have struggled for. You have suffered and endured, raised yourself to the spirit-world of the air, and now, by your own good deeds you may, in the course of three hundred years, work out for yourself an undying soul.’

Then the little mermaid lifted her transparent arms towards God’s sun, and for the first time shed tears.

On board ship all was again life and bustle. She saw the prince with his lovely bride searching for her; they looked sadly at the bubbling foam, as if they knew that she had thrown herself into the waves. Unseen she kissed the bride on her brow, smiled at the prince, and rose aloft with the other spirits of the air to the rosy clouds which sailed above.

‘In three hundred years we shall thus float into Paradise.’

‘We might reach it sooner,’ whispered one. ‘Unseen we flit into those homes of men where there are children, and for every day that we find a good child who gives pleasure to its parents and deserves their love God shortens our time of probation. The child does not know when we fly through the room, and when we smile with pleasure at it one year of our three hundred is taken away. But if we see a naughty or badly disposed child, we cannot help shedding tears of sorrow, and every tear adds a day to the time of our probation.’

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Mysteries

The magnetic soul of the universe

“In 1945, the primitive appearance of pre-intelligent primates on planet Earth blew up the first thermonuclear device. They did not suspect that they created an echo in the super-space web, used for non-local communication and the transmigration of souls by the civilizations of the Trans-galactic union, network , which the more mysterious races call the “body of God.”

Shortly afterwards, the secret forces of intelligent races were sent to Earth to observe the situation and prevent further electromagnetic destruction of the universal network. “

The introduction taken in quotation marks looks like a plot for science fiction, but just such a conclusion can be drawn after reading this scientific article. The presence of this network pervading the entire Universe could explain a lot – for example, the UFO phenomenon, their elusiveness and invisibility, incredible possibilities, and besides, indirectly, this theory of the “body of God” gives us real evidence that there is life after death.

We are at the very initial stage of development, and in fact we are “pre-intelligent beings” and who knows if we can find the strength in ourselves to become a truly intelligent race. Astronomers have discovered that magnetic fields permeate much of space. Hidden lines of the magnetic field extend for millions of light years throughout the universe.

Each time astronomers come up with a new way to search for magnetic fields in more and more distant regions of space, they inexplicably find them.

These force fields are the same entities that surround the Earth, the Sun and all galaxies. Twenty years ago, astronomers began to discover magnetism permeating entire clusters of galaxies, including the space between one galaxy and the next. Invisible field lines sweep through intergalactic space.

Last year, astronomers finally managed to explore a much more sparse region of space – the space between clusters of galaxies. There they discovered the largest magnetic field: 10 million light-years of magnetized space, covering the entire length of this “thread” of the cosmic web. A second magnetized thread has already been seen elsewhere in space using the same methods. “We’re just looking at the tip of the iceberg, probably,” said Federica Govoni of the National Institute of Astrophysics in Cagliari, Italy, who led the first discovery.

The question arises: where did these huge magnetic fields come from?

“This clearly cannot be associated with the activity of individual galaxies or individual explosions or, I do not know, winds from supernovae,” said Franco Vazza, an astrophysicist at the University of Bologna, who makes modern computer simulations of cosmic magnetic fields. “This goes far beyond all this.”

One possibility is that cosmic magnetism is primary, tracing all the way back to the birth of the universe.In this case, weak magnetism must exist everywhere, even in the “voids” of the cosmic web – the darkest, most empty areas of the universe. Omnipresent magnetism would sow stronger fields that bloomed in galaxies and clusters.

Primary magnetism could also help solve another cosmological puzzle known as Hubble stress – probably the hottest topic in cosmology.

The problem underlying Hubble’s tension is that the Universe seems to expand much faster than expected based on its known components. In an article published on the Internet in April and reviewed with Physical Review Letters, cosmologists Karsten Jedamzik ​​and Levon Poghosyan argue that weak magnetic fields in the early Universe will lead to the faster cosmic expansion observed today.

Primitive magnetism removes Hubble’s tension so simply that Jedamzik ​​and Poghosyan’s article immediately attracted attention. “This is a great article and an idea,” said Mark Kamionkovsky, a theoretical cosmologist at Johns Hopkins University who proposed other solutions to Hubble’s tension.

Kamenkovsky and others say that additional checks are needed to ensure that early magnetism does not interfere with other cosmological calculations. And even if this idea works on paper, researchers will need to find convincing evidence of primary magnetism to make sure that it is the missing agent that formed the universe.

However, in all these years of talking about Hubble stress, it is perhaps strange that no one has considered magnetism before. According to Poghosyan, who is a professor at Simon Fraser University in Canada, most cosmologists hardly think about magnetism. “Everyone knows this is one of those big puzzles,” he said. But for decades there was no way to say whether magnetism is indeed ubiquitous and, therefore, is the primary component of the cosmos, so cosmologists have largely stopped paying attention.

Meanwhile, astrophysicists continued to collect data. The weight of evidence made most of them suspect that magnetism is indeed present everywhere.

The magnetic soul of the universe

In 1600, an English scientist William Gilbert, studying mineral deposits — naturally magnetized rocks that humans have created in compasses for millennia — came to the conclusion that their magnetic force “mimics the soul.” “He correctly suggested that the Earth itself is“ a great magnet, ”and that the magnetic pillars“ look toward the poles of the Earth. ”

Magnetic fields occur at any time when an electric charge flows. The Earth’s field, for example, comes from its internal “dynamo” – a stream of liquid iron, seething in its core. Fields of fridge magnets and magnetic columns come from electrons orbiting around their constituent atoms.

Cosmological modeling illustrates two possible explanations of how magnetic fields penetrated galaxy clusters. On the left, the fields grow out of homogeneous “seed” fields that filled the space in the moments after the Big Bang. On the right, astrophysical processes, such as the formation of stars and the flow of matter into supermassive black holes, create magnetized winds that exit galaxies.

However, as soon as a “seed” magnetic field arises from charged particles in motion, it can become larger and stronger if weaker fields are combined with it. Magnetism “is a bit like a living organism,” said Thorsten Enslin, a theoretical astrophysicist at the Institute of Astrophysics Max Planck in Garching, Germany – because magnetic fields connect to every free source of energy that they can hold onto and grow. They can spread and influence other areas through their presence, where they also grow. ”

Ruth Durer, a cosmologist and theoretician at the University of Geneva, explained that magnetism is the only force besides gravity that can shape the large-scale structure of the cosmos, because only magnetism and gravity can “reach you” at great distances. Electricity, on the contrary, is local and short-lived, since the positive and negative charge in any region will be neutralized as a whole. But you cannot cancel magnetic fields; they tend to take shape and survive.

And yet, despite all its power, these force fields have low profiles. They are intangible and are perceived only when they act on other things. ”You cannot just photograph a magnetic field; it doesn’t work like that, “Van Reuen, an astronomer at Leiden University who was involved in the recent discovery of magnetized filaments, told Reinu Van.

Last year, Van Verin and 28 collaborators suggested a magnetic field in the filament between clusters of galaxies Abell 399 and Abell 401 is the way the field redirects high-speed electrons and other charged particles passing through it. As their paths spin in the field, these charged particles emit faint “synchrotron radiation.”

The synchrotron signal is strongest at low frequencies, making it ready to be detected with LOFAR, an array of 20,000 low-frequency radio antennas scattered across Europe.

The team actually collected data from the filament back in 2014 for one eight-hour span, but the data sat waiting as the radio astronomy community spent years figuring out how to improve the calibration of LOFAR measurements. The Earth’s atmosphere refracts the radio waves passing through it, so LOFAR considers space from the bottom of the swimming pool. The researchers solved the problem by tracking the vibrations of the “beacons” in the sky – the emitters with precisely known locations – and adjusting the vibrations for this to release all the data. When they applied the de-blurring algorithm to the data from the filament, they immediately saw the glow of the synchrotron radiation. LOFAR consists of 20,000 individual radio antennas scattered throughout Europe.

The filament looks magnetized everywhere, and not just near clusters of galaxies that move towards each other from both ends. Researchers hope the 50-hour dataset they are currently analyzing will reveal more details. Recently, additional observations have revealed magnetic fields propagating along the entire length of the second filament. Researchers plan to publish this work soon.

The presence of huge magnetic fields in at least these two strands provides important new information. “It caused quite a bit of activity,” Van Faith said, “because now we know that magnetic fields are relatively strong.”

Light through the Void

If these magnetic fields arose in the infant Universe, the question arises: how? “People have been thinking about this issue for a long time,” said Tanmai Wachaspati of Arizona State University.

In 1991, Vachaspati suggested that magnetic fields could arise during an electroweak phase transition – a moment, a split second after the Big Bang, when electromagnetic and weak nuclear forces became distinguishable. Others have suggested that magnetism materialized microseconds later when protons formed. Or soon after: the late astrophysicist Ted Harrison claimed in the earliest original theory of magnetogenesis in 1973 that turbulent plasma of protons and electrons may have caused the appearance of the first magnetic fields. Nevertheless, others suggested that this space became magnetized even before all this, during space inflation – the explosive expansion of space that supposedly jumped up and launched the Big Bang itself. It is also possible that this did not happen before the growth of structures a billion years later.

A way to test theories of magnetogenesis is to study the structure of magnetic fields in the most pristine parts of the intergalactic space, such as the calm parts of filaments and even more empty voids. Some details — for example, whether the field lines are smooth, spiral, or “curved in all directions, like a ball of yarn or something else” (according to Vachaspati), and how the picture changes in different places and at different scales — carry rich information that can be compared with the theory and modeling, for example, if the magnetic field occurred during the electroweak phase transition, as suggested by Vacaspati, the resulting power lines should be spiral, “like a corkscrew,” -. he said.

The catch is that it is difficult to detect the force fields, who have nothing to press on.

One of the methods, first proposed by the English scientist Michael Faraday back in 1845, detects a magnetic field by the way it rotates the direction of polarization of the light passing through it. The magnitude of the “Faraday rotation” depends on the strength of the magnetic field and the frequency of light. Thus, by measuring the polarization at different frequencies, you can conclude about the strength of magnetism along the line of sight. “If you do it from different places, you can make a 3D map,” Enslin said.

Researchers have begun making rough measurements of Faraday rotation using LOFAR, but the telescope has problems emitting an extremely weak signal. Valentina Wakka, an astronomer and colleague of Govoni from the National Institute of Astrophysics, developed an algorithm several years ago for the statistical processing of thin Faraday rotation signals, adding together many dimensions of empty spaces. “In principle, it can be used for voids,” said Wakka.

But the Faraday method will really take off when the next generation radio telescope, a gigantic international project called “an array of square kilometers”, is launched. “SKA should create a fantastic Faraday grid,” said Enslin.

At the moment, the only evidence of magnetism in voids is that observers do not see when they look at objects called blazars located behind voids.

Blazars are bright beams of gamma rays and other energy sources of light and matter, fed by supermassive black holes. When gamma rays travel through space, they sometimes collide with ancient microwaves, turning into electron and positron as a result. These particles then hiss and turn into low-energy gamma rays.

But if blazar light passes through a magnetized void, then low-energy gamma rays will appear absent, argued Andrei Neronov and Evgeny Vovk from the Geneva Observatory in 2010. The magnetic field will deflect electrons and positrons from the line of sight. When they decay into low-energy gamma rays, these gamma rays will not be directed at us. Indeed, when Nero and Vovk analyzed the data from a suitably located blazar, they saw its high-energy gamma rays, but not its low-energy gamma signal. “This is the lack of a signal, which is the signal,” said Vachaspati.

The absence of a signal is hardly a smoking weapon, and alternative explanations have been proposed for missing gamma rays. However, subsequent observations increasingly point to the hypothesis of Neronov and Vovkov that the voids are magnetized. “This is a majority opinion,” said Dürer. Most convincingly, in 2015, one team superimposed many dimensions of blazars behind voids and managed to tease the faint halo of low-energy gamma rays around blazars. The effect is exactly what one would expect if the particles were scattered by weak magnetic fields – measuring only about one millionth of a trillion as strong as a refrigerator magnet.

The biggest mystery of cosmology

It is amazing that just this amount of primary magnetism can be exactly what is needed to resolve the Hubble stress – the problem of the surprisingly fast expansion of the Universe.

This is precisely what Poghosyan understood when he saw the recent computer simulations of Carsten Jedamzik ​​from the University of Montpellier in France and his colleagues. Researchers added weak magnetic fields to the simulated plasma-filled young Universe and found that protons and electrons in the plasma flew along the lines of the magnetic field and accumulated in areas of the weakest field strength. This coalescence effect caused protons and electrons to combine into hydrogen — an early phase change known as recombination — earlier than they might otherwise have.

Poghosyan, reading an article by Jedamzik, realized that this could relieve Hubble’s tension. Cosmologists calculate how fast space should expand today by observing the ancient light emitted during recombination. Light shows a young Universe dotted with blots that were formed from sound waves lapping around in the primary plasma. If recombination occurred earlier than anticipated due to the thickening effect of magnetic fields, then sound waves could not propagate so far forward, and the resulting drops would be smaller. This means that the spots that we see in the sky from the time of recombination should be closer to us than the researchers assumed. The light emanating from the clots had to travel a shorter distance to reach us, which means that the light had to pass through a faster expanding space. “It’s like trying to run on an expanding surface; you cover a smaller distance, ”said Poghosyan.

The result is that smaller droplets mean a higher expected speed of cosmic expansion, which greatly brings the estimated speed closer to measuring how fast supernovae and other astronomical objects actually seem to fly apart.

“I thought, wow,” said Poghosyan, “this may indicate to us the real presence of [magnetic fields]. Therefore, I immediately wrote to Karsten.” The two met in Montpellier in February, just before the prison closed, and their calculations showed that, indeed, the amount of primary magnetism needed to solve the Hubble tension problem is also consistent with the blazar observations and the estimated size of the initial fields needed for the growth of huge magnetic fields , covering clusters of galaxies and filaments. “So, it all somehow converges,” said Poghosyan, “if that turns out to be true.”

References: Quanta Magazine

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Mysteries

The Montana base incident: UFO disconnects 16 nuclear missiles

In central Montana, on Thursday morning, March 16, 1967, an E-Flight nuclear missile crew was located underground at the Echo-Flight Mission Control Center (LCC) in a fortified bunker.

During the early morning, there were several reports from security patrols that they had seen a UFO. A UFO was spotted directly above one of the E-Flight (LF) launchers above the mine. It turned out that at least one security officer was so scared by this meeting that he never returned to the Security Service.

After a while, the deputy calculation commander (DMCCC), 1st lieutenant, informed the calculation commander (MCCC), the captain, about the condition of the missiles in the mines when an alarm sounded. Over the next 30 seconds, all ten of their missiles issued a No-Go status report. One by one, each rocket became inoperative, From that moment, as his former rocket launcher describes:

“All hell broke loose! Among the many calls to the electronic switch. The matter was compounded by the fact that the same event happened on another launcher on the same morning (6 rockets disconnected)”.

In this case, we have a strategic nuclear missile stop coinciding with the sighting of a UFO over a missile shaft! These were missiles lost by the American nuclear deterrence forces. According to Robert Salas, who was counting that morning:

“As far as I remember, while on duty as deputy commander of a missile combat crew underground in the LSS, in the morning hours of March 16, 1967, I received a call from the sergeant responsible for the security of the facility Launch control center”.

He said that he and other guards observed unidentified flying objects in the immediate vicinity, which several times flew over the mines in which the rockets were. At that time, he could only describe them as “lights.” I did not take this message seriously and told him to continue observing and reporting if something more significant happened. I believed that this first call was a joke.

A few minutes later, the security sergeant called again. Now he was thrilled and upset, saying that the UFO hovered right behind the front gate. I ordered him to guard the fenced area. While we were talking, he had to leave, because one of the guards approached the UFO and was injured. I immediately woke up my commander, who was just resting and began reporting on telephone conversations. Immediately, our missiles began to quickly move from an “alarm” state to a “no launch” state. Some kind of signal was sent to the missiles, which made them emerge from a state of alert.

Having reported this incident to the command post, I called my guard. He said that the man who approached the UFO was not seriously injured, but was evacuated by helicopter to the base. Once at the top, I spoke directly with the guard about the UFO. He added that the UFO has a red glow and saucer shape. He repeated that it was right behind the gate and soared silently.

We sent a security patrol to check our ODS after a trip, and they reported that they saw another UFO during this patrol. They also lost radio contact with us immediately after reporting the UFO. Later that morning, we were replaced by our full-time shift crew. The missiles were still not put on alert by on-site maintenance teams.

Again, UFOs were spotted by security personnel during or around the time of the shutdown of Minuteman strategic missiles. An in-depth investigation of the incident was conducted. Full-scale field and laboratory tests were conducted at the Seattle-based Boeing plant.

Both the declassified documents of the strategic rocket wing and the interviews with Boeing engineers who tested after the investigation of the incident, confirm that no reason was found for shutting down the missiles. The most that could be done was to reproduce the effects by directly injecting a 10-volt pulse into the data line. One of the conclusions was that the only way to do this from outside the shielded system was through an electromagnetic pulse from an unknown source.

During the events of that morning in 1967, UFOs were spotted by members of the Security Service on the east side of the base and one on north. Other members of the Security Service witnessed UFO’s on the west side. These observations were reported by separate security teams at about the same time that Minuteman strategic missiles were stopped at both sites. The U.S. Air Force confirmed that all Echo flights shut off within a few seconds, one after the other, and that they did not find any reason for this.

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Mysteries

Ship of death. What happened to the sailors of the mysterious vessel Ourang Medan?

“The ship of death” – that is what the American sailors boarded the ship in distress called the Ourang Medan. The entire crew of the ship was dead. Eyewitnesses assured that the faces of the crew were turned to the sky and distorted by torment.

Save our souls

In June 1947, British and Dutch radio stations received a very strange SOS signal, which someone transmitted in Morse code. The message transcript read:

“This is the Dutch ship, Ourang Medan. The captain and all the officers are dead in the cockpit and on the bridge. Perhaps the whole crew is dead.” 

Then came an incomprehensible series of dots and dashes, but they still managed to decipher the end of the message. Somewhere in the expanses of the Indian Ocean, an unknown radio operator clearly tapped out:

“I am also dying.”

Despite the brevity of the message, a few distress ships managed to receive the distress signal not far from the Strait of Malacca, which separates the island of Sumatra from Malaysia. Among these ships, by a strange coincidence, there were two American ships that were the first to establish the approximate location of the ship in distress. One of them – Silver Star (“Silver Star”) – went to the rescue of “Medan”.

Despite the fact that the width of the Strait of Malacca is only 40 kilometers, the length of the strait is more than 800 kilometers, so the drift ship was not immediately found. Sailors with Silver Star immediately noticed something was wrong – no one answered the greeting signals, and even a soul was not visible on the deck. Therefore, the captain of Silver Star decided to send a boat with a reconnaissance detachment to Medan.

The Americans who got on board got a terrible picture: the deck and bridge of the ship were littered with corpses. Even the dog died – apparently, the favorite of one of the officers. The radio operator who transmitted the SOS was found in the radio room – he was also dead, and his hand still lay on the transmitter. What terrified the Americans most of all was the fact that most of the dead lay with wide eyes and contorted faces, which testified to unbearable torment at the time of death. The sailors wanted to go down into the hold to inspect the cargo, but quickly abandoned this idea – an incredible cold reigned inside the ship, in some places the corridors were covered with hoarfrost.

After consulting with the captain, the Silver Star sailors decided to take the Medan in tow and deliver it to the nearest port, where it would be possible to find out the cause of the death of the sailors. But as soon as the ship was towed, a trickle of smoke appeared over the deck of the ill-fated ship – a smoldering fire began to break out. This was a paradox – despite the polar cold, fire raged inside the ship.

Photo © Andrew H. Hochheimer

The members of the Silver Star team barely had time to cut off the towing ropes and escape from the ship, when in the hold of the Medan there was such a strong explosion that the ship lifted above the water, and then it quickly sank, forever depriving the Americans of the opportunity to find out what happened.

The Research Begins

60 years later, American researchers became interested in the story of Medan. But they were surprised to find that the only document confirming the authenticity of the story of the Medan crew was a brochure published by the US Coast Guard in 1952. The brochure published the testimonies of sailors boarding the “flying Dutchman.” This proved that the story really happened.

As it turned out, the US archives confirmed the existence of the Silver Star ship. According to the papers, it was sold in the same 1947 to Grace Line and received a new name – Santa Juana. But finding documentary evidence of the existence of the Dutch vessel Ourang Medan was not so simple. Neither in the International Register of Ships, nor in the Singapore Maritime Archive, nor in the archives of Amsterdam, a ship of that name has ever been.

But it turned out that the traces of the ship must be sought in … Germany. The scientist Theodor Sirsdorfer, who devoted 50 years to the study of Medan and managed to establish the names of American ships that received the SOS signal (the second was a vessel called City of Baltimore), found a brochure by another German author – Otto Milke; the brochure was called Das Totenschiff in der Südsee (“Death Ship in the South Sea”) and was published in 1953.

In it, the author spoke in detail about the Ourang Medan ship, indicated its technical characteristics and claimed that the ship really died with the crew in 1947. Moreover, Milke shed light on the causes of the death of the ship, hinting that the fourth compartment in the hold of the ship was indeed filled with dangerous cargo, which caused the death of the crew – potassium cyanide and nitroglycerin.

Photo © Andrew H. Hochheimer

Versions for the Crew Death

But there was an even more terrible version of the death of the Medan crew, and it led from Nazi Germany to another country with a militaristic regime – Japan.

Division 731, which the Japanese called the “division of Togo,” was founded in 1932 by the Japanese bacteriologist Shiro Ishii and gained such terrible fame that people did not call it “cannibal lair”. The task of the department was to develop the deadliest bacteriological weapons and the most terrible poisonous substances.

In Harbin’s laboratories, the Japanese tested these substances on prisoners of war – Chinese and Russians, as well as on the civilian population of China – on women and children. The Japanese doctors did not stop the suffering of people – they opened the victims alive to see the effects of poisonous gases on their internal organs, froze the still alive “patients” and infected them with various combinations of infections.

Despite the war crimes of scientists, the Americans granted them immunity in exchange for research results. For transportation of toxic substances of unit 731, Medan, a ship of Sumatran or Malaysian smugglers, not registered in any of the marine registers, whose task was to take out the deadly substances to the United States, could be chartered. In the hold of the Medan, containers were leaked, the crew died, and the gas managed to disappear by the time the Americans approached.

However, this is only one of many versions of the death of the team “Medan”. Some researchers suggested the impact on sailors of powerful ultrasound, which can occur in the ocean and kill people. Conspiracists believed that the team was killed by the undead or met with a UFO. Scentists spoke of a cloud of methane that rose from the depths of the Strait of Malacca, covered the ship, and the crew simply suffocated without oxygen.

Photo © Historic Mysteries

The version with the Nazis was continued – the researchers found a publication in the Indonesian newspaper Lokomotiv dated February 3, 1948. It said that after the explosion on Medan, a boat with a starving man was thrown ashore on one of the Marshall Islands. This man spoke German and told the translator that the Ourang Medan actually belonged to Germany and sank 400 miles southeast of the Marshall Islands. In 1945, it supposedly transported containers of nerve gas, but, learning about the surrender of Germany, it began to hide, moving from port to port and moving on to South America. The Germans’ journey was interrupted by an accident – one of the containers was depressurized, the team died.

But there is another plausible explanation for what happened on the ship. Perhaps the smugglers’ vessel was transporting such a seemingly ordinary cargo as ammonium nitrate. This is a fertilizer that is used in the manufacture of explosives. After getting into the hold of sea water, ammonium nitrate entered a chemical reaction with water and began to decompose, releasing laughing gas, which causes drug intoxication and dulls vigilance. At the same time, a decrease in temperature occurred, since the reaction proceeds with the absorption of heat, which could explain the severe cold in the hold. And the introduction of ammonium nitrate into the reaction with any alkali that came on board could lead to the formation of ammonia, the choking from which could explain the terrible torment of the crew. Heating the fertilizer near a steam or diesel engine could lead to heating of the cargo,

Most likely, the violation of safety rules during transportation of hazardous chemicals is to blame for the death of the crew. The smugglers simply pushed the containers into the cargo compartments of the ship and went to sea, hoping for good luck. But this time she turned away from them.

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