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How the Grimms Cast a Spell on the World

Exactly 200 years ago, the Grimm brothers published the first edition of their fairy tales. Many of the originals were brutal and there was no lack of blood, gore and carnality. But thanks to a bit of clean-up work, they have gone on to enrapture people around the world. What is the secret to their success?
Once upon a time, two centuries ago, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm set out to gather folk stories for posterity. Little did they know that the collection of talesthey published would become one of the most widely read works in history, capturing the popular imagination around the world for generations.

Two hundred years ago today, on December 20, 1812, the Grimm brothers published the first edition of their “Kinder- und Hausmärchen,” or “Children’s and Household Tales,” now commonly known as “Grimms’ Fairy Tales.” Aside from the Luther Bible, it is the considered to be the most widely distributed literary work of German origin, with translations in more than 160 languages. Not only were the Grimms pioneers in the scientific documentation of folklore, they also provided a seemingly endless source of inspiration for writers, artists and filmmakers.
“The fairy tale genre is fascinating because it’s all around us all the time,” says prominent fairy tale scholar Jack Zipes. “We imbibe it without even knowing we’re doing it. It’s in film, opera, ballet, in our daily lives, in publicity — we refer to fairy tales as a reference point in our lives. We even try to lead our lives like fairy tales.”
So what is the secret of Grimms’ Fairy Tales’ nearly universal appeal? The Grimms were dedicated linguists and philologists who saw fairy tales as a living record of cultural history. Their unique approach somehow managed to tap into our collective consciousness.
“The ‘Kinder- und Hausmärchen’ are like a concave mirror that captures a fairy tale tradition marked by several cultures, compiles it in a new form, bundles it together and reflects it in such a way that a new tradition emerges and, bound to the work itself, unfolds with worldwide impact,” reads the description of the work in the successful nomination for membership in UNESCO’s Memory of the World Registry in 2005.
This reference to the traditions of more than one culture addresses a common misconception about the fairy tales — that they somehow represent the German ethnic soul. While they may have been collected by Germans, who in their editing and writing in that language certainly coated the tales with a Teutonic veneer, scholars have found that the scope of their origins stretches beyond even the borders of Europe.
“The Grimms did not call their tales ‘German’ household tales,” says Zipes, who has studied how their elements trace back to Russia, Slavic countries, Greece, Italy and even ancient Sanskrit texts. “They very quickly realized that these tales were all over and that there is no such thing as a genuine, authentic German folktale,” he says. One of the volume’s best-loved stories, “Cinderella,” for example, has been found in about 500 different incarnations around Europe, says Zipes, professor emiritus at the University of Minnesota.
“What we don’t know is where exactly these tales come from, when they originated and how they were disseminated,” says Zipes. “This is the great mystery. They go back to pagan times. We can only surmise how far back.

 

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Planet Earth

Life on Earth can be explained by asteroid-eating bacteria

A new study suggests that asteroids can be a food source for living things, more specifically a microorganism called  Metallosphaera sedula , a metal-eating species.

M. sedula Picture: Tetyana Milojevic

Metallosphaera sedula  is a species of bacteria-like microbes, originally isolated from a volcanic field in Italy. The first part of the name can roughly be translated as a “metal mobilizing sphere,” while the word “sedulus” means busy. This describes the efficiency of these organisms in mobilizing metals, including those found in asteroids.

According to research led by University of Vienna astrobiologist Tetyana Milojevic, these microbes derive their energy from inorganic substances through oxidation, and can collect energy sources faster from extraterrestrial rocks than from simple ancient terrestrial minerals. Milojevic explains that the study was conducted to find “microbial fingerprints” left in meteorites. “This should be useful for tracking life-seeking biosignatures in other parts of the universe,” she concludes.

This kind of research, according to the astrobiologist, can provide her colleagues with “little tips” on what they can look for in their search for alien life. “If there was ever life on another planet, similar microbial fingerprints may still be preserved in the geological record,” she said.

The team examined how Metallosphaera sedula  interacts with NWA 1172, a rocky meteorite found in northwest Africa that contains about 30 different metals. Using various spectroscopy techniques and an electron microscope, the researchers documented the signatures left by the organism. Thus, they found that M. sedula  is able to consume extraterrestrial material much faster than it does with terrestrial minerals, resulting in healthier cells.

Inorganic Compounds of Meteorite NWA 1172 (Image: Tetyana Milojevic)

While terrestrial minerals provide only a few nutrients for the microorganism, “NWA 1172 iron is used as an energy source to meet M. sedula’s bioenergetic needs  as microbes breathe due to iron oxidation,” Milojevic explained. The wide range of metals in NWA 1172 can also be used for other metabolic processes, such as accelerating vital chemical reactions within cells. And because the meteorite is so porous, it can promote M. sedula’s improved growth rate.

That means iron meteorites could have brought more metal elements and phosphorus to Earth, making life’s evolution easier, according to Milojevic. In addition, research may also support the panspermia hypothesis, an idea that cannot yet be substantiated, but it is not ruled out either, as scientists have not yet completely unraveled the origin of life on our planet. And Milojevic is interested in exploring this possibility: To do so, her team plans to “test the survival of  M. sedula  under simulated and real environmental conditions from outer space,” the astrobiologist said. The plan, however, will have to find the funding needed to send the microorganisms into space.

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Planet Earth

Latimeria found, lived on our planet long before the dinosaurs

The unique fish Latimeria chalumnae, also called “Coelacanth”, lived on our planet long before the dinosaurs. They were long thought to have disappeared around the same time, about 65 million years ago.

However, after 1938, when the first Latimeria was officially discovered by chance, it turns out that the Latimerians did not die, but live in the deep waters off the east and south coasts of Africa.

Later, a second type of Latimeria was discovered in Indonesia.

The oldest fossils of Latimeria are 360 ​​million years old, and the “freshest” are 80 million years old. At the same time, it should be known that there were a huge number of Latimerians, at least 90 different species. They have been distributed worldwide, in sea and fresh waters.

Latimeria stand out against the modern fishes with their unusual fins, more like limbs, and a wedge-shaped tail. Their bodies are covered with solid scales, similar to armor.

Latimeria are pretty big fish. They can reach up to 2 meters in length and weigh up to 90 kg. At the same time, the fact that no one has found them for so long is amazing.

Even after this species has been officially recognized as being extant, the Latimeria is still rare and can only be found through specific monitoring in the waters where it has been observed.

Latimeria swim slowly and feed on cephalopods and deep-sea fishes. Often, they were discovered in groups in underwater caves. They live to about 48 years. Females give birth to live individuals after a long pregnancy of 13 months.

The first discovered Latimeria

The history of the Coelacanth is the cornerstone that supports the belief of many cryptozoologists that the mysterious Yeti, sea monsters, Chupacabra and other cryptids, actually exist, but simply have not yet been found.

At least two species of Latimeria, and perhaps more, have survived to this day without hiding at all. In addition, as mentioned above, Latimeria’s “freshest” fossils date back to 80 million years.

Just imagine this huge period of time during which archeologists have not found a single skeleton of Latimeria, even though they existed all this time.

According to some reports, there are populations of 300-400 individuals near the coasts of Africa and Indonesia. This comes after several years of increased illegal fishing. In the 1980s, the Latimerians were hunted (supposedly) because of the healing properties of their meat, and before that there were probably several thousand of them.

But if they were initially much smaller, they would probably never have been discovered at all, still considered extinct.

And the rare stories of local fishermen about “fish with a foot and a shell ” would be considered the same fiction as the stories of Africans about living dinosaurs.

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Planet Earth

Humpback Whales Have Made a Stunning Recovery After Coming Close to Extinction

Elias Marat, The Mind Unleashed

After coming dangerously close to the brink of extinction, the humpback whale population in the South Atlantic Ocean has made a stunning rebound, according to scientists.

Around 60 years ago, it was estimated that the western South Atlantic (WSA) humpback whale population had been thinned out to less than 500.

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