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Mysteries

The truth is out there: Britain’s answer to the X-Files

A group of experts at the Natural History Museum in London are using their knowledge to scrutinise potential meteorites, dragon skulls and ‘space slime’

It is Britain’s own version of the X-files – a unit of experts who specialise in unravelling the origins of mysterious slimes, animals and objects found around the country.

Tucked away in a quiet corner of the Natural History Museum in London are a series of laboratories that would not be out of place in the long running science fiction series.

This is the Identification and Advisory Service, whose job it is to scrutinise the array of strange and baffling objects discovered by members of the public – from apparent dragon skulls to objects that appear to come from outer space.

Their most recent case is a particularly baffling one – a mass of slime that appeared on a nature reserve after reports of a meteor streaking through the skies earlier this year.

Samples of the “intergalactic jelly” were rushed to the museum from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds reserve in Somerset. But laboratory tests failed to find any firm clues for what it could be.

The slime that was found at the Ham Wall Nature Reserve in Somerset earlier this year (PA)

“The slime is still a genuine mystery,” said Chesca Rogers, who has been leading the attempts to identify the gelatinous material.

“There are stories in folklore that link it with meteor sightings. Some people think it might be unfertilised frog spawn, others think it is a fungus, or a slime mould or that it is plant related.

“None of the tests we have done so far have told us anything conclusive, but the samples we got were not in the best condition and highly contaminated.”

Some of the items brought into the Identification and Advisory Service, which is based inside the museum’s Angela Marmont Centre for UK Biodiversity, are quickly ruled out as not being all they may first seem.

Members of the public have brought in lumps of stone they believe could be the fossilised remains of a dinosaur head, potential meteorites that turn out to be waste slag from iron works or balls of tinfoil and insects that could be new species.

A skull of a Chinese Water Deer was mistaken for that of an ice-age sabre tooth cat (NHM)

Three years ago they received a skull – still with fur and flesh attached – that the person who found it thought could be the remains of a recently dead sabre tooth cat.

Rather than being the modern day relative of these ferocious ice age predators, however, it was in fact the remains of a more docile Chinese Water Deer.

From photographs of the skull, it is easy to understand the mistake – these deer have long tusks that protrude from their upper jaw that look like they could be incisors.

Then there have been dragon skulls. These turn out to be pelvises of sea birds such as auks or puffins.

The pelvis bones of sea birds like auks and puffins are often mistaken for dragon skulls due to their strange shape (NHM)

John Tweddle, manager of the Angela Marmont Centre for UK Biodiversity, said: “We receive a lot of objects that look like something else.

“We get flint objects that can form some really interesting shapes that people think are fossilised footprints or skulls, but they are just an unusual shape.

“Sea bird pelvises can look like the right shape for a dragon’s skull, so we get people saying they think they have found a dragon.”

On some occassions they receive items of dubious origin – such as an “alien” embamned in a jar of fluid. It turned out to be a science fiction toy that had been kept on a shelf of a pub.

Toy alien that was believed to be a monkey. (RII PHOTOGRAPHY)

“The person who brought it to us thought it might be a monkey of some sort,” said Mr Tweddle. “We are still not sure if it was a joke, but it is the closest we have had to an alien being brought in.

“Generally even if these things are not as interesting as they first seem, these are still all interesting objects and we would never discourage someone from coming forward.

“Here in the UK we get a few new species being discovered every year, so there is every chance of finding something new in this country.”

The centre was recently involved in identifying the first population of false wolf spiders, Zoropsis spinimana, in the UK

They also receive large numbers of insects such as beetles, hornets and bees, all carefully packaged in an array of match boxes, chocolate boxes, tubes and playing card packets.

Few turn out to be anything other than a large example of a British species – queen hornets are commonly mistaken for the more aggressive Asian hornet that has spread in mainland Europe.

However, it is the Somerset slime that would probably have been of most interest to Fox Mulder and Dana Scully in the X-Files.

It appeared at the RSPB’s Ham Wall Nature reserve during the same week as a meteor exploded in the skies above Chelyabinsk, in Russia.

Speculation that the jelly like substance had an extra-terrestrial origin heightened after an amateur photographer announced he had captured on film a mysterious object in the sky above the reserve itself in the same week.

The strange streak looked like another meteor but was not confirmed by astronomers.

Tony Whitehead, a spokesman for RSPB Ham Wall, said: “We had all sorts of theories about what this could be.

“If you look back in the records there are references to ‘star jelly’ and astromyxin that date from the 16th century so this phenomenon has been linked to space for a long time.

“There are many more rational options that have been put forward, such as the jelly used by frogs to coat their eggs that is expelled when they are speared by birds, but we still don’t know for sure.”

Now a new batch of slime has been discovered at the same site this week, at a time when frogs are not spawning, deepening the mystery further. Fresh samples are now being sent to the museum’s experts for analysis.

Dr Hanna Hartikainen, a researcher at the museum who has been conducting experiments on the original slime samples, said: “We had a look under the microscope but it doesn’t really have a much of a structure – it is a gelatinous matrix.

“We extracted some DNA from the jelly and tried to identify where it came from using probes for frog and bird DNA but were not able to find any of those.

“We also used a new technique called Next Generation Sequencing and found a lot of DNA from nematode worms, fungi and bacteria but none that could be the source of the slime, so they were probably just colonising it.

“It is still an unsolved mystery.”

But like all true X-Files stories – the truth is out there. You just need to know where to look.

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Mysteries

‘Alien’ message creativity. What the crop circles really hide

At the beginning of last month, an ordinary French farmer, Gerard Benoit, suddenly became famous throughout the district. Early in the morning of July 5, 2020, walking out into his field near the town of Vimy in the very north of the country, he found that it was hopelessly spoiled. 

A little later, with the help of a drone, it turned out that the plots of crushed wheat form a gigantic pattern – the Templar cross. The farmer’s outrage knew no bounds, and he shared the “vandalism” on social networks. And completely in vain. 

A few days later, a huge geoglyph became a place of pilgrimage for thousands of curious people who began to trample the remnants of the unfortunate harvest. Mr. Benoit unwittingly turned out to be another victim of the mysterious “circles” that have regularly appeared in the fields around the world since the late 1970s. 

Tens and hundreds of thousands of enthusiasts still perceive them as evidence of contact with long-awaited extraterrestrial civilizations, although it has long been clear how these circles with an endless set of plots appear and who is really behind them. Why are these objects so common in southern England? What does the tourism industry and informal art have to do with it? Understanding.

Devil-mower

It all started in a pub, as it sometimes happens.

Location: a place called Percy Hobbs on the outskirts of the British city of Winchester in the very south of England.

Time of action: 1976.

Heroes: some Doug Bower and Dave Chorley.

Evening, it was getting dark.

The two friends were spending their time, as befits two respectable gentlemen, with a pint of ale and an interesting conversation. At some point in the conversation, Bower, who had recently returned from Australia, recalled an interesting story that flashed in Australian newspapers in the second half of the 1960s. 

Near Tully, Queensland, local farmers began reporting to police and then reporters about the mysterious circles that appeared at night in their sugarcane fields. The reasons for the appearance of the circles were never established, which made it possible with a clear conscience to call them saucer nest (“flying saucer nest”), especially since one of the farmers swore that he saw a UFO take off from this site. Having laughed at the Australians, Bower and Chorley went outside to freshen up, saw a wheat field in front of them, and then the logic of their thought, warmed up by used pints, it was quite obvious. So with the help of an ordinary iron beam and rope, their hoax began.

Over the next couple of years, friends staged several more such provocations, but no one noticed them, until in 1978 Bower and Chorley chose a particularly successful location – the natural Cheesefoot Head amphitheater, popular with tourists. 

The effect exceeded expectations – a 25-meter circle, just a circle without any pattern, first got into the regional and then national media and, naturally, fell into the sphere of close attention of various ufologists and experts in the field of inexplicable phenomena, who began to comment on the origin with a clever look object. 

It was the complete success that Bower and Chorley had been waiting for. In the future, friends themselves began to report to the media about their next work, pretending to be casual witnesses who discovered an unidentified.

The circle created by Bower and Chorley in 1978

In the second half of the 1970s – early 1980s, the popularity of all kinds of hoaxes was at its peak. Not only in narrow circles keen on the topic of the paranormal, but also among the general public, the mystery of the so-called. Bermuda Triangle, reports of another “unidentified flying object” began to be ubiquitous, the search for the “Bigfoot” was carried out in earnest, expeditions to the Scottish Loch Ness were organized. Crop circles, which began to appear in southern England, proved to be the most appropriate in such a discourse.

It immediately became clear that in fact similar objects had been recorded before. In the British Library, a pamphlet from 1678 was discovered in which a creature was doing something that looked like a circle on a field. The story of the source, whose full title was “The Devil Mower, or Strange News from Hertfordshire,” was about a farmer who refused to pay a peasant to mow a field, saying that the devil had better mow him. 

The next night, that same field was engulfed in fire, and the next morning it turned out that it was perfectly mowed. In fact, it was not very similar to the circles that appeared in England, where wheat (or other cereals) were only crushed (and not cut), but such nuances did not interest the hunters for sensations.

Much more excitement was caused by another fact – the location where these objects began to appear en masse.

Place of power

The success of the action, which began in a Winchester pub, was largely due to the place where Bower and Chorley began to arrange their antics. In the neighboring county of Wiltshire, there is the largest complex of Neolithic monuments, which by that time had already become a Mecca for lovers of everything occult. The most famous structure in this series is undoubtedly Stonehenge, located 40 minutes from Winchester. But this megalith, cult in a certain environment, did not end there. 

Fans of the New Age and similar currents were attracted by the Avebury sanctuary located in the same county (which is very conveniently a circle-ring that should have resembled objects in the wheat fields), the artificial chalk mound of Silbury Hill, the fortress of Barbury Castle, the so-called … Uffington white horse (carved in prehistoric times image of a white horse)

All these outstanding monuments of the Neolithic and Bronze Age have traditionally been in the center of attention of fans of inexplicable phenomena, who assured that the objects are covered with energy domes, connected by energy flows and, in general, are ancient relics that served for contact with someone outside of our mortal planet. 

Bower and Chorley subsequently honestly admitted that they began to stamp their circles, not least because of the reputation of the area, where, among other things, there was the densest concentration of UFO “sightings”.

Silbury Hill Mound
Avebury shrine 
Avebury shrine 
Fortress Barbury Castle
Uffington White Horse
Ridgeway road

Alien contact became the first, most popular, version of the origin of geoglyphs. However, soon the scale of what was happening acquired such a character that real scientists also took up an attempt to find a scientific explanation for it. 

The most vigorous activity in this field was developed by the meteorologist and physicist Terrence Meaden of Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada. First, he put forward the theory that the profile of the hills in southern England directly influenced the formation of specific air vortices, which in turn could stabilize at certain points and form the necessary circle of crushed wheat. And although this version did not explain in any way why such objects (at least in such quantities) had not formed before, Bower and Chorley, who created the fake on the UFO topic, decided to take the necessary measures. 

They developed their next geoglyphs, starting to “draw” constructions from several circles instead of one circle. This, by the way, subsequently led to an ever greater complication of such objects.

In response to new facts, Meiden adapted his theory. Instead of ordinary air vortices, he made certain “electromagnetic hydrodynamic plasma vortices” responsible for the appearing mysterious formations. 

The explanation of the Canadian looked so plausible that even Stephen Hawking, after another circle appeared at his house in Cambridge, said that a certain natural vortex could have caused it. True, at the same time, the famous theoretical physicist considered human impact more likely.

A crop circle that appeared in early July of this year in France

Bower and Chorley did not give up in their fight against the scientist Meaden. In the end, in order to refute the “vortex” fabrications, they constructed an object of two circles and five rectangles. The latter certainly could not have been created by Mother Nature, which in the end had to be admitted by the unlucky Canadian meteorologist. 

Well, in 1991, Bower and Chorley decided to get their 15 minutes of fame and get out of the closet. Friends gathered the journalists and confessed to them that this whole grandiose hoax had been started by them in the second half of the 1970s. 

They said that over the past time they have created more than 200 different geoglyphs in the fields of southern England, and for convincingness they demonstrated the technology of their creation. The usual circle was extremely simple. It was necessary to determine its center, stick a conventional stick there, tie a rope to it and go around the center in a circle,

For the sake of completeness, after the formation of this exemplary circle, Bower and Chorley brought in an unsuspecting cereologist to the scene (cereology is the activity of studying “crop circles”). The expert confirmed the authenticity of the object (i.e., its inexplicable origin), after which he was quite disappointed when he was told the truth.

Occam’s razor

It must be said that the exposure of the hoax had practically no effect on the number of believers in the paranormal version of the appearance of geoglyphs. On the contrary, the hit of this entire 15-year history in newspapers and on television only contributed to the spread of such objects around the world. 

Another trend has become the progressive complication of geoglyphs. The drawing that appeared in early July 2020 on the French field is far from the most complex of those that appeared in southern England and other countries of the world. Bower and Chorley, who once started in a Winchester pub, could only envy the scale and complexity of many of them.

In the fields, not just combinations of large and small circles appeared, sometimes whole pictures were drawn there, mathematical functions, fractals were visualized (for example, the Mandelbrot set).

But if there are no questions about the authenticity of the human origin of many simple figures, for example the works of Bower and Chorley, then how much more complex drawings appeared, because many of them appeared in just one fairly short night. 

The answer to this question lies in the plane of experience and effective organization of work. Obviously, modern production of crop circles is not complete with two pairs of hands – large teams are working on them now, the actions of the participants of which are clearly coordinated. 

They already have at their disposal not only a primitive rope and a board, but also modern means of determining the geo-position, as well as laser devices that allow them to correctly calculate the distances between the elements of the figure and create objects of the desired shape.

Back in 1998, a group of authors known under the pseudonym Circlemakers demonstrated to BBC reporters the ability to create in one night the most complex spiral of 100 circles of different sizes. Even more complex drawings are sometimes made in uncrowded places, but in a few days. Or, for their creation, a formal (or informal) permission from the home team is obtained. 

Many creators of the most beautiful circles consider themselves to be real artists. Most of them even prefer to remain anonymous, as do some of their colleagues from the city streets, for example Banksy. This maintains the necessary aura of mystery of the creative process. Well, the second reason why the creators of circles do not take responsibility for their works is the fact that most often the figures in the fields can be regarded as vandalism,

Crop circle created by the Circlemakers in 1998

Despite the fact that the human origin of the circles is quite obvious (how can conventional “aliens” know, for example, about the Templar cross, and why should they draw it?), There are still many people in the world who believe in outright fantasy.

 A large number of relevant literature and specialized sites help maintain this belief. There is nothing strange about this. Firstly, rational thinking is generally not characteristic of many people, and secondly, a whole small tourism industry has been created and exists around such geoglyphs. 

Exactly the same as it happens around Loch Ness or the Bermuda Triangle. It is possible that some circles and their combinations (at least in southern England, the place of their greatest concentration) are created on purpose, as a result of the collusion of farm owners and “expert cereologists”, for whom excursions to “places of power” became a source of income. Any figure of this kind – and the latest French example confirms this once again – invariably attracts increased public attention.

Well, the victims of this whole hoax, building another theory of the origin of such tempting objects, forget about the principle of “Occam’s razor”. More often than not, the correct explanation is indeed the simplest.

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Mysteries

“Prophecy of God” about coronavirus found in an old Japanese newspaper: “Half of humans will suffer from infectious diseases in 2020”

Meticulous readers found in a newspaper thirty years ago a prediction of a coronavirus pandemic – it indicated exactly 2020 and it was predicted that half of humanity would become infected. 

The editors of the Japanese edition “Gifu Shimbun” were forced to give explanations, but this did not reassure the conspiracy theorists.

In the May 2, 1990 issue of the Gifu Shimbun, an article was published under the loud headline “Prophecy of God.” It said that in thirty years, due to global warming, the world could be swept by a pandemic of infection, which will affect half of the population. Additionally, against the background of the destruction of the ozone layer, people will also have their immunity weakened.

Conspiracy theorists who dug up the newspaper in the archives began to discuss the old publication on social networks, comparing its author to Nostradamus. Passions reached such a level that the editorial staff of “Gifu Shimbun” eventually issued a statement. The journalists explained that the article was written on the basis of the next WHO report of that time, and there are no specific details indicating the features of the coronavirus pandemic in the publication.

Japanese netizens have mixed reactions to this “prophetic” report. Some people marvel that this report is more accurate than the “big prophecy” of the French Jewish prophet Nostradamus↓

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“This is more accurate than Nostradamus’ big prediction.”

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“The big predictions of Nostradamus are more powerful than those of Nostradamus. Although the details are different, the years are all right! Even though I sometimes have things published by scientists and researchers, it’s true. Is it true?” Thoughts such as’I’ve been taken carelessly day by day, but now there are so many natural disasters, it’s time to take these issues seriously.’

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“The people who predicted the new crown are really amazing”

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“‘Half of humans are infected’ means there is more than just the new coronavirus. I want to know what the final outcome will be.”

But some people expressed disbelief↓

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“What’s this. #新冠Prophecy”

Some netizens borrowed a line from the “Doraemon” comics↓

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“Reports 30 years ago predicted that the new coronavirus epidemic has become a hot topic, but please take a look at Iduki Sugi’s comments:’I don’t believe in prophecies. People either say it by accident or are far-fetched. Interpretation attached to the meeting.'”

Nevertheless, lovers of esotericism and the theory of conspiracy began to assert that, if so, the journalists were led by a “higher power”, which, they say, was trying to give a sign to humanity. Poor WHO, which in fact issued many similar warnings, was deprived of its laurels.

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Mysteries

There is a radio station that has been operating since 1982 and no one knows why

On the territory of Russia, the largest country in the world, there is a city shrouded in many secrets. So, according to one of them, there is a mysterious radio station in St. Petersburg, which has been broadcasting since 1982. 

There is even an assumption that “MDZhB” (MJB) is a spy radio station, a peculiar way of Russian President Vladimir Putin to monitor all living things on the planet (something similar was written in the British express.co.uk in 2017), but today day it is known only that the signal was registered in a swampy area near St. Petersburg.

Agree, there is something special in old, Soviet tape recorders and radios

What is MDZhB?

To begin with, all talk about a mysterious radio station is talk about noise with a frequency of 4625 kHz and more often than not it is just a buzzing sound. However, sometimes among this “white noise” there are code words and numbers pronounced with a Russian accent. And besides the fact that the signal source is located somewhere in a swampy area near St. Petersburg, nothing else is known about it. One of the reasons for this – I’m not afraid of this word – misunderstanding is that no one really followed this broadcast.

However, according to other “theories” MDZhB – secret alien spy technology and the Russian military or other secret government projects – welcome to the Twilight Zone / Area 51 / The X-Files / Poltergeist and beyond. But do you know what is the most wonderful thing about this whole story? Anyone in the world can tune in to this radio station.

One wild theory is that this is a “dead man” system for launching nuclear bombs from Russia if the country has already been Angilized

The first recording of the broadcast of the alleged radio station was made in 1982. Professor David Stapples, a signal intelligence specialist at the City University of London, believes that “there is absolutely no information in the signal.” Stapples believes the noise has changed a bit over the years, but it has always included some form of regular humming, interrupted by a voice that sometimes apparently read the message.

According to BBC Future, it is believed that the frequency belongs to the Russian military, although they never admitted it. The stations began broadcasting at the end of the Cold War era, when communism was already in decline. Today they operate from two locations – near St. Petersburg and Moscow. Oddly enough, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, activity did not stop, but increased sharply.

Crazy theories

So, let’s take a critical look at the situation: if the radio station is really an alien spyware, then what other traces of the presence of extraterrestrial civilizations on Earth have been discovered by scientists? Why doesn’t anyone know anything about them? As for more rational assumptions, according to one theory, the station is used by the Russian army to detect the range of missiles during tests. This explanation, however, does not seem plausible, as the waves required for this type of detection will sound more like a “car alarm” rather than a continuous hum.

Note that high-frequency radio signals can only travel in a straight line and eventually decay when hitting obstacles or reaching the horizon. But shortwave frequencies have an additional trick – they can bounce off charged particles in the upper atmosphere, which allows them to zigzag between the earth and the sky and travel thousands, not tens of kilometers.

Another possible explanation is that this radio station exists to “sound” how far away the reflective layer of charged particles is. The higher the distance to the reflecting layer and the travel time of the signal to the sky and back, the higher the frequency it should have.

Anyone can listen to the mysterious radio station by simply tuning the radio to the desired frequency

And yet, many believe that this radio station is a hybrid of two thingsThe constant buzzing is just a marker saying something like “this frequency is mine, this frequency is mine” so that people cannot use it. But MDZhB acquires state importance only in times of crisis, for example, in case of military aggression or other emergency. 

In such a situation, the operation of the mysterious radio station will become a way of instructing the worldwide Russian spy network and the Russian army in remote areas. What do you think is MDZhB? Have you ever heard of it?

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