Category Archives: History

How Ancient Greeks Knew the Earth’s Size

The video below is a great strange little lesson in science history and human ingenuity. Having brains that instinctively build models and extrapolate from those models has been one secret of our species’ great success.

Carl Segan explains how the ancient Greeks knew the earth was round and also it’s appropriate size thousands of years ago.

The Great American Right to Complain

For 30+ years as a news hound and reporter of weird stuff, I, Xeno, have believed it is the duty of Americans to speak up truthfully about what they like and dislike.

We have the right to complain, to make things better. This was true in the past. Is it still?

I like peace, non-violence, transparency in government and privacy and fair voting for the public. I oppose violence and support peaceful plans.

I try to read a broad spectrum of news and ideas, but don’t agree with everyone or everything I read or see. Reading is not approving, obviously.

Long ago, I found and interviewed a man when researching “reptilian aliens” (they are just metaphorical, in my view) who advocated over email “storming Area 51”. I disagreed with his plan because the real Area 51 is on a US military base, it is still run by the CIA as far as I know and I also thought he might be an agent of a foreign government. You never know. I’m not into anything subversive, I follow laws and believe in peaceful change.

One thing I read about Area 51 that was reinforced by real voices of government employees in the news, was that people working within agencies don’t always agree with policies they are supposed to follow. It is the duty of workers to follow the direction set by leadership, but there were differences of opinion within, just as within the FBI, and also between agencies. I’m no insider, this is just what I gleaned over the years.

I like the idea of humans getting organized as a species, but not under fascism. I don’t like Nazis or any other violent war-promoting control freaks. The idea of people writing about Reptilian Aliens, as I have understood it, is that there are factions of “cold blooded” ideological Nazis in the US government. Some were imported from Germany after the war in Operation Paperclip and these scientists grew in power in the Shadow Government. They are opposed by other groups that take seriously their oath to uphold the Constitution and to protect citizen’s rights to complain.

Until the mainstream news started talking about the Shadow Government after the attacks of 9/11/2001, I didn’t think there really was such a thing. After learning there is, I still placed my faith in the good side of the inner US government, writing articles on such as 10 Proven Conspiracies and Why I Still Trust the Government. (The upshot was that “the Government” is not a single thing, it is different groups with different goals and ideals, many competing.) Conspiracy is a real thing; we have laws against it in the USA and people, including members of Congress, have gone to prison for it. Not every conspiracy theory is true, but some are, investigators have to look at the facts, the real facts, when available.

I keep repeating that I support peaceful change because it is true and because, on the spooky side, I fear that vocal people who complain peacefully, may one day be attacked, framed as radicals or turned into criminals in political theater by Nazi factions in the Shadow Government using dirty tricks, digital and otherwise. Let’s hope not.

I pray the good and honest people and groups win this epic battle.

Being interested in the culture of oddities, I have driven to Nevada and stayed at the Little Ale’Inn near Area 51 a few times. I enjoy the ET alien thing, the interesting people you can meet, and the science fiction fun aspect of it. I liked the movie Independence Day and enjoyed driving on the ET highway. I also personally like the idea of a US Space Force, although people laugh at it and some strongly oppose it.

How can we fix corruption and undue influence of big business in government if not by “storming Area 51?”

I like capitalism and competition generally, but support an idea by the Yang campaign to reasonably rein in the influence of super wealthy individuals and lobby groups:

Democracy Dollars. The easiest way to minimize the influence of super-rich individuals and SuperPACs in our politics is to drown that money out with contributions by normal Americans. Under my Democracy Dollars plan, every American would receive $100 per election cycle to donate to candidates of their choosing.

Via AndrewYang

I don’t endorse him as a presidential candidate, but I like this idea.

Representative Democracy, allowing the majority of the people (instead of a cabal) to pick the best leaders works well only if we have well informed voters. To make Democracy Dollars work, we first need truth in advertising and truth in news reporting.

Simultaneous with Democracy Dollars, we need laws that provide stiff fines for lies, and even stiffer fines for lies about lies–in other words, an American realist movement.

Candidate Joe Biden made a slip I heard yesterday while he was campaigning. He said, we need to support “truth not facts”. I do not support non-factual “truths” as facts are the basis of truth.

I support accurate and fearless fact checking as the basis for an effective peaceful democracy. We must protect the rights of reporters to investigate and report the truth.

I support local police, the FBI and the CIA and the NSA which I believe to be composed mostly of individuals of strong moral character who sometimes have to fight within their organizations for what is right, for what is truly American, for our rightful way of life.

Please save a copy of this on your computer, in the cloud, etc. and republish the bejeebies out of it if it ever gets “disappeared” by anyone who tries to put other words or ideas into my mouth! 😉

Peace, love and music,

Xeno of True Strange News

Blogging at &

Xeno is a songwriter who has written over 100 songs, a reporter and blogger for 30+ years and nephew of a member of the band Steppenwolf. He was engaged to the personal chef of a California billionaire and has traveled to all 48 lower US states interviewing people for an eventual book on happiness. He opposes violence and promotes peaceful positive change.

The World’s Oldest Business is 1,441 Years Old

What currently running business is the oldest known? We were impressed to learn that a Japanese manufacturer of sake, Sudo-Honke, based in Obara was established in the year 1141 AD!

Sudo Honke (Established in 1141)

Sake is one of the best loved alcoholic beverages in Japan and, much like whisky in Scotland, its manufacture is rooted in a deep and precise tradition.

Perhaps that’s why Sudo Honke, the oldest business on the planet, remains popular after almost 800 years.

The team at Sudo Honke retain a simple, clean and effective method of brewing rice wine. So while they’ll never be brewing sake on an industrial scale, their traditional brewing techniques will be valued for lifetimes to come.


Could any company be older than this? Surprisingly, yes. According to Wikipedia, here are 30 companies (below) that are as old or even older than Sudo Honke. The oldest company still in operation in some way is Kongō Gumi established 1,441 years ago in the year 578 AD in Japan.

… this Japanese construction company … was the world’s oldest continuously ongoing independent company, operating for over 1,400 years until it was absorbed as a subsidiary of Takamatsu in 2006. …

A three-meter 17th-century scroll traces the 40 generations back to the company’s start. As with many distinguished Japanese families, sons-in-law often joined the clan and took the Kongō family name. Thus, through the years, the line has continued through either a son or a daughter. 


Shigemitsu Kongo was a renowned temple builder, and the royal family in Japan commissioned him to build the Shitenno-ji temple, which still stands today in Osaka. Kongo saw an incredible opportunity. Buddhism was catching on fast, and he knew he could be kept busy for decades building temples. It turned out to be centuries. Over 14 centuries, in fact.

… What Kongo Gumi couldn’t survive was debt. It doesn’t matter if you’re an individual, a company, a government, or even a central bank; if your balance sheet doesn’t add up, sooner or later you’re going under.


This chart showing the AD year these oldest companies were established is interesting. Adapted from Wikipedia.

Year Company Current location Field
578 Kongō Gumi Japan Construction
705 Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan Japan Hotel
717 Koman Japan Hotel
718 Hōshi Ryokan Japan Hotel
771 Genda Shigyō Japan Ceremonial paper goods
803 St. Peter Stiftskulinarium Austria Restaurant
862 Staffelter Hof Germany Wine
864 Monnaie de Paris France Mint
885 Tanaka-Iga Japan Religious goods
886 Royal Mint United Kingdom Mint
900 Sean’s Bar Ireland Pub
953 The Bingley Arms United Kingdom Pub
970 Nakamura Shaji Japan Construction
1000 Château de Goulaine France Wine
1000 Marinelli Bell Foundry Italy Foundry
1000 Ichimonjiya Wasuke Japan Confectionery
1024 Shumiya-Shinbutsuguten Japan Religious goods
1040 Weihenstephan Germany Brewery
1050 Weltenburger Germany Brewery
1074 Benediktinerstift Admont Austria Woodworking
1075 Takahan Ryokan Japan Hotel
1100 Schloss Johannisberg Germany Wine
1120 Zum Roten Bären Germany Hotel
1126 Taferne Austria Hotel
1128 Halydean Corporation United Kingdom Land & Livestock
1131 Hofbrauhaus Arolsen Germany Brewery
1134 Geto Onsen Japan Hotel
1135 Munke Mølle Denmark Mill
1135 The Olde Bell United Kingdom Hotel
1136 Aberdeen Harbour Board United Kingdom Harbor
1141 Barone Ricasoli Italy Wine
1141 Sudo Honke Japan Sake

Some of these companies have been in business longer than methuselah an ancient character who is claimed by literal bible believers to have lived 969 years.

Fun tour idea:  Big Eight Immortal Business Tour

On the Immortal Business Tour we will visit a temple created by the oldest company in the world, Kongō Gumi, (established 578 AD,) then stay three nights, one per night at the three oldest hotels in the world which are also in Japan and are the 2nd, 3rd and 4th oldest still operating companies in the world.

Next we will obtain ceremonial paper goods from Genda Shigyō and then fly to Salzburg, Austria for dinner at a restaurant within the walls of St Peter’s Abbey, after which we will visit Staffelter Hof in Germany for some Wine, and finally hop over to France and tour the Mint to finish out your tour of the 8 oldest companies in the world.

Cost and dates to be determined.

“Connect to Internet for further detail.”


Just kidding. That’s my description and a link to a company I just found on line. Xeno’s Tours has nothing to do with my imaginary Big Eight Immortal Business Tour … yet.

Are we in the Year 1722 Instead of 2019? No Charlemagne?

The strangest item for today is this: a claim that 297 years of human history were faked to make some historical powerful people more powerful. The phantom time hypothesis says that the years AD 614–911 were invented with document forgeries during a change of calendars.

… the entire Carolingian period, including the figure of Charlemagne, is a fabrication …

As the Steely Dan song says, “Get along kid Charlemagne.” Okay, that song has nothing to do with this odd theory, but it started playing in my mind as I considered the name Charlemagne. Wikipedia has quite a long page on this guy. He lived from April 2, 742 to January 28, 814, within the time range that may have never existed.

Could he be a made up character?

If that were the case, his children could not exist. It would mean there was no Pepin the Hunchback, and no Carloman, made king of Italy, no Louis the Pious (778 – 20 June 840) King of the Franks and King of Aquitaine. If Louis the Pious was invented, so were his sons and daughters. Two of them were kings, Lothair (795–855), king of Middle Francia and Pepin (797–838), king of Aquitaine, If there was no Lothair I, then he could not have had his son Louis II (825–875) called “the Younger” crowned as King of Italy in 844 and Crowned Holy Roman Emperor in 850. If there was no Louis II, his daughter could not have existed, Ermengard of Italy, who could have never had her son, Louis the Blind (c. 880 – 5 June 928) who was the king of Provence, and he could have never had his son,  Charles-Constantine, who became Count of Vienne … I think you see my point. That’s a lot of work to invent and what about people living after the year 911 AD who were descended from people living in the supposedly invented time period?

Nevertheless, based on the study of many historical documents, a German historian, Heribert Illig, concluded that a period of 297 years from the 8th to the 11th centuries contains too many inconsistent and vague events, as if they were simply made up.

There are irrefutable documents indicating the loss of three centuries. … the grandiose construction in Constantinople of that period was for some reason abruptly suspended … for three centuries and then suddenly resumed.

Exactly the same absurdity can be traced when building the Aachen Cathedral in Germany. 

… The phantom time hypothesis is a theory asserted by Heribert Illig and first published in 1991. It hypothesizes a conspiracy by the Holy Roman Emperor Otto III, Pope Sylvester II, and possibly the Byzantine Emperor Constantine VII, to fabricate the Anno Domini dating system retrospectively, in order to place them at the special year of AD 1000, and to rewrite history to legitimize Otto’s claim to the Holy Roman Empire.

Heribert Illig believed that this was achieved through the alteration, misrepresentation and forgery of documentary and physical evidence. According to this scenario, the entire Carolingian period, including the figure of Charlemagne, is a fabrication, with a “phantom time” of 297 years (AD 614–911) added to the Early Middle Ages.

So it is quite possible that we live in 1722, and not in 2019.

Via Anomoalien

According to this scenario, the entire Carolingian period, including the figure of Charlemagne, is a fabrication, with a “phantom time” of 297 years (AD 614–911) added to the Early Middle Ages. The proposal has been universally rejected by mainstream historians.

Via Wikipedia

Countering the “missing chunk of history” theory, critics say well documented ancient astronomical events would be hard to reconcile if 297 years were fabricated. We know when eclipses occurred before the supposed fake time and we know when they happened after and there does not appear to be a break in the record. The same with observations of Halley’s Comet, the Wikipedia entry on phantom time states.

The most difficult challenge to the theory is through observations in ancient astronomy, especially those of solar eclipses cited by European sources prior to 600 AD (when phantom time would have distorted the chronology). Besides several others that are perhaps too vague to disprove the phantom time hypothesis, two in particular are dated with enough precision to disprove the hypothesis with a high degree of certainty. One is reported by Pliny the Elder in 59 AD[9] and one by Photius in 418 AD. Both of these dates and times have confirmed eclipses. In addition, observations during the Tang dynasty in China, and Halley’s Comet, for example, are consistent with current astronomy with no “phantom time” added.

Read more Wikipedia

Having now heard the theory of phantom time, we can keep watch for inconsistencies that weigh in favor or against there being 297 years that never really happened.

At this time I favor the conservative view that this chunk of history was not invented, but it’s an awesome strange claim and I enjoyed considering it.

What do you think?

Neanderthal used antibiotics and pain meds. Was Zeus a Neanderthal?

Did Neanderthal man use penicillin and painkillers? They overlapped with modern humans for thousands of years. We now know we interbread with Neanderthals. From genetic sequencing by, I even know my own percentage of Neanderthal ancestry. They had bigger brains, they were much stronger than modern humans, and better immune systems and eyesight.

I have a pet theory about them. I believe they were some of the “gods” in our mythology, and also the “giants in the earth” in verbal stories that later became part of the written Bible.

Genesis 6:4

“There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.” 


Demigods, like Gilgamesh, who were half human and half “god” were very strong. They were kings and men of great renoun. 

If you know about Ligers (male lion mates with female tiger), they dwarf tigons (female lion mates with male tiger), as well as lions and tigers. A liger is typically bigger than both of its parents. Lioness mothers have growth inhibiting genes which tigress mothers don’t. 

So it was with Neanderthal strength, perhaps. If you wanted a king, it mattered if the gene donor Neanderthal was male or female.

What about immortality? One claim is that if you remove infant mortality, our ancient ancestors lived on average about as long as we do now, 70 to 80 years. 

This is the context in which I read the following story:

Fossilized plaque, also known as dental calculus, has been found on corpses that are tens of thousands of years old. Now that scientists have the tools to analyze old plaque for pieces of ancient DNA, they can reconstruct the diet, health, and lifestyle of the dead. … 

One team recently looked at the fossilized plaque on the teeth of four Neanderthals found at two cave sites: Spy in Belgium and El Sidrón in Spain.

(Neanderthals) built tools and lit campfires. They may have decorated their bodies and buried their dead. And, according to a new study published today in Nature, they took medicine for pain and natural antibiotics for infections, and at least some of them had a plant-heavy diet.
At 42,000 to 50,000 years old, these samples represent the oldest dental plaque ever to be genetically analyzed. One of the individuals found at El Sidrón suffered from a dental abscess visible on the jawbone. He also had an intestinal parasite. That may be why he was consuming poplar – which contains pain-killing salicylic acid, the active ingredient of aspirin – as well as a natural antibiotic mold, Penicillium. Previous research had shown that Sidrón Neanderthals may have used yarrow, an astringent, and camomile, a natural anti-inflammatory, as medicinal plants.

“Apparently, Neanderthals possessed a good knowledge of medicinal plants and their various anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties, and seem to be self-medicating,” Alan Cooper, director of the University of Adelaide’s Australian Centre for Ancient DNA (ACAD), said in a statement.

“The use of antibiotics would be very surprising, as this is more than 40,000 years before we developed penicillin. …


Human species have been intelligent for a long time. I think it’s quite possible that they developed some similar technologies and made similar discoveries multiple times. Plato says as much when he talks about the lost Atlantis, that disasters have destroyed what men have built and what we have learned many times.

When I first had this theory, that ancient Neanderthal memories echoed in human written history after eons of verbal tales being passed on, I think we had not yet discovered that almost all humans today except for some sub-Saharan Africans have some Neanderthal DNA.

Neanderthals and modern humans were both living in Europe for between 2,600 and 5,400 years, according to a new article. 

Via SciDaily

Perhaps one day we will generally accept that they were not dumb cave men, but a strong intelligent species of humans that went extinct for some reason. It may be that they could not adapt as well as we could. We used dogs, for example, to hunt and I don’t think they ever did. My other theory is that they were smart, but not as creative, and not as able and willing to be as deceptive as our species. This may be where we get some views of the gods being of high moral character, if they were in fact Neanderthals.

So far, I’m the only person I can find on the Internet saying that Zeus may have been a real Neanderthal leader. Food for thought:

Asclepius, Greek Asklepios, Latin Aesculapius, Greco-Roman god of medicine, son of Apollo (god of healing, truth, and prophecy) and the mortal princess Coronis. The Centaur Chiron taught him the art of healing. At length Zeus (the king of the gods), afraid that Asclepius might render all men immortal, slew him with a thunderbolt.

Via Britannica

Knowing his people were competing with the humans for limited resources, Zeus may not have wanted to share the medicine of the gods with the mortals (our words for them and us.)

It would be wild if Centaurs were Homo erectus and we eventually learn that besides being sailors they rode horses, leading to Centaur myths. Erectus was around a long time and could have taught Neanderthals about medicine.

If you are a historian with a good reason that this theory of Neanderthals as our ancient memories of gods must be wrong, please let us know why it could not be so.

Breaking: Historic Cathedral in Paris Burning

Strange News Alert: Norte Dam Cathedral in Paris, France is burning. Crews are working to save some of the art inside but the frame will likely be lost.

Video: the spire falls, today, April 15, 2019


“No fire until now in 800 years.”

“Some restoration construction may have started it.”

“Is the hunchback okay?”

“No employee on site at time, accident unlikely”

Watch live on Periscope, News.

Will update this with details.

Notre-Dame Cathedral or simply Notre-Dame, is a medieval Catholic cathedral on the Île de la Citéin the fourth arrondissement of Paris, France. The cathedral is considered to be one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture. The innovative use of the rib vault and flying buttress, the enormous and colorful rose windows, and the naturalism and abundance of its sculptural decoration all set it apart from earlier Romanesque architecture.

The cathedral was begun in 1160 and largely completed by 1260, though it was modified frequently in the following centuries. In the 1790s, Notre-Dame suffered desecration during the French Revolution when much of its religious imagery was damaged or destroyed. Soon after the publication of Victor Hugo‘s novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame in 1831, popular interest in the building revived. A major restoration project supervised by Eugène Viollet-le-Duc began in 1845 and continued for twenty-five years.

… As the cathedral of the Archdiocese of Paris, Notre-Dame contains the cathedra of the Archbishop of Paris(Michel Aupetit). 12 million people visit Notre-Dame yearly, it thus being the most visited monument in Paris.

On 15 April 2019, the Cathedral caught fire, causing significant damage, including the collapse of the main spire and the entire roof. The extent of the damage was initially unknown as was the cause of the fire, though it was suggested that it was linked to ongoing renovation work. A spokesperson stated that the entire wooden frame would likely come down and that the vault of the edifice could be threatened as well. …

Via Wikipedia

The above is from today, April 15th on Wikipedia, showing that they keep the site quite up to date at times.

If you count from when it was largely completed, 1260, up to now 2019, it survived 759 years without any major damage.

I enjoyed seeing it while I was in Paris briefly, years ago.


36-Year Old Coupon Honored

It seems unlikely, but a 36-year-old coupon for 20 cents off of Crisco vegetable oil was honored recently by Anatoly Shashkin, the store manager at a North Shore Farms store in Mineola, Long Island, New York.

The coupon, issued by Proctor and Gamble in 1983, stated it had “no expiration date,” so Shashkin decided to accept it. The customer was able to save 20 cents off their purchase of Crisco oil.


In other strange news, 36 years ago they made coupons out of really long lasting paper. Good news for coupon savers from the year 1983, but that means mountains of trash are probably still around from that time. Perhaps the person kept the coupon in an ACME vacuum sealed coupon preserving chamber. I’m an optimist, in case you haven’t figured that out. 😉

Jupiter: Once an earth-sized ice asteroid farther from Sun

It is strange and fascinating how much we can learn about the history of our solar system from computer simulations. Researchers at Lund University recently determined, for example, that the largest planet in our solar system, Jupiter, was, 4.5 billion years ago, an earth-sized icy asteroid four times further out in the solar system than it is now.

It spiraled inward and gathered mass over the course of 700,000 years. This model explains a long standing mystery that there are 50 per cent more “Trojan asteroids” on Jupiter’s orbit in front of the gas giant as compared to the number behind it. (See video above)

Jupiter’s core was probably very much like these Trojans and in 2021, NASA plans to send a probe named Lucy to orbit six of them to learn more. This is according to an article published yesterday on ScienceDaily.

Why are they called Trojans?

The term “Trojan Asteroid” specifically refers to the asteroids co-orbital with Jupiter, but the general term “trojan” is sometimes more generally applied to other small Solar System bodies with similar relationships to larger bodies: for example, there are both Mars trojans and Neptune trojans,[6] as well as a recently-discovered Earth trojan.[7][8]The term “Trojan asteroid” is normally understood to specifically mean the Jupiter trojans because the first Trojans were discovered near Jupiter’s orbit and Jupiter currently has by far the most known Trojans.

Via Wikipedia

From the story of the Trojan horse, the word Trojan denotes a gift hiding something bad, so the Trojan asteroids are like tiny fake planets hiding the real payload of that particular orbit around the sun, which is Jupiter? That’s my guess as to how they got the name.

In computing, a Trojan horse, or Trojan, is any malicious computer programwhich misleads users of its true intent. The term is derived from the Ancient Greek story of the deceptive wooden horse that led to the fall of the city of Troy.

Via Wikipedia

The Earth has only one Trojan asteroid that we know about as of 3/23/2019 and it is named 2010 TK. It orbits ahead of us.

2010 TK7 is a sub-kilometer near-Earthasteroid and the first Earth trojan discovered; it precedes Earth in its orbit around the Sun.

How big is it? Read more about our Trojan asteroid here: Wikipedia.

Will we ever catch up to it and eat it? I couldn’t find a good answer to this question. If you know, post the answer in a comment.

Anyway, there is no risk of the earth becoming a gas giant, is there?

Intriguingly, there is a strange theory that the earth was once a gas giant. The theory says if a gas giant gets too close to a star, the gas is blown away leaving the solid core.

How big is Jupiter’s core?

The size of Jupiter’s core is less accurately known; it is believed to be about 10 to 20 times the size of the Earth, or about 32,000 km (20,000 miles) in diameter. 

More at Sciencing

Is Jupiter still moving in towards the sun? Not according to this:

The Sun and the planets are staying approximately the same distance apart and have been in roughly the same places for the last several billion years. Planetary orbits are a fine balancing act between momentum and gravity.

Via Spaceanswers

Good to know, but I was sort of hoping Jupiter would become a super earth one day.

Thanks for stopping by for the daily strange news. Wishing you well.


Lightning Struck Vatican Twice Hours After Pope Resigned

Here’s a strange event from the past that is still interesting today. Popes don’t step down very often. Benedict XVI shocked the world in February 2013 when he became the first pope to resign in almost 600 years. It was the first time a Pope had stepped down since 1415, when Gregory XII resigned and to mark this unusual event, there was an amazing natural occurance: lightning hit the Vatican, twice.

“The spooky moment, believed by some, to be a sign from God, was caught on camera by AFP photographer Filippo Monteforte.”

A lightning strikes St Peter's dome at the Vatican on February 11… lightning touched the roof of St. Peter’s Basilica, one of the holiest Catholic churches, hours after Benedict XVI’s shock announcement

The Vatican stressed that no specific medical condition prompted Benedict’s decision to quit – the first pontiff to do so in 600 years.

The move surprised even his closest aides, even though Benedict, 85, had made clear in the past he would step down if he became too old or infirm.

In recent years, the Pope has slowed down significantly, cutting back his foreign travel and limiting his audiences.

He now goes to and from the altar in St Peter’s Basilica on a moving platform, to spare him the long walk down the aisle. Occasionally he uses a cane.

His 89-year-old brother, Georg Ratzinger, said doctors had recently advised the Pope not to take any more trans-Atlantic trips.

“His age is weighing on him,” Mr Ratzinger said. “At this age my brother wants more rest.”

Benedict announced his resignation in Latin during a meeting of Vatican cardinals, calling it “a decision of great importance for the life of the church.”

He emphasised that carrying out the duties of being pope requires “both strength of mind and body.”

He told the cardinals: “I have come to the certainty that my strengths due to an advanced age are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry.” …

via Lightning strikes Vatican on the day the Pope resigns: Bolt hits St. Peter’s Basilica hours after Benedict XVI’s shock news – Mirror Online.


Is it real? USAToday cited a weather expert who thought so:

But could it be fake? One expert, AccuWeather meteorologist and lightning photographer Jesse Ferrell, thinks it’s real. In addition to the account from Monteforte — a trusted and well-known photographer — Ferrell sees telltale signs of a genuine lightning strike. – USAToday

This is almost certainly not related, but interesting, nonetheless:

US Army scientists are developing a weapon which can fire a laser-guided lightning bolt at a target.

The Laser-Induced Plasma Channel (LIPC) is designed to hit targets that conduct electricity better than the air or ground that surrounds them.

The weapon went through extensive testing in January.

George Fischer, lead scientist on the project, said: “We never got tired of the lightning bolts zapping our simulated [targets].”

Details of the weapon were released on the US Army’s website. …


For those keeping score, this supposed Army technology to create lightning bolts was described many years after Roy Sullivan was struck seven different times by lightning bolts. He was hit between 1942 and 1977.