Category Archives: History

St. Patrick’s day: Leprechauns Once Wore Red, Not Green

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day, 2019. This holiday, which many celebrate by wearing green, pinching those who don’t, drinking at parties and attending parades or other ceremonies, comes to us from the day, March 17th (461 AD) we believe a man named Patrick, a 5th-century Romano-British Christian missionary and bishop in Ireland, passed away in Downpatrick.

He apparantly used only the one name, Patricius (father of citizens), but had other names based on what he did and how he was known; He was also called Magonus (famous), Succetus (god of war), Cothirthiacus (serving 4 houses of Druids).

St. Patrick is credited with converting the pagan Irish to Christianity. His efforts against the druids eventually turned into an allegory in which he drove “snakes” out of Ireland, but Ireland never had any snakes because it was too cold for these animals.

Ireland is not the only place in the world without snakes – there are no native species of snakes to be found in Iceland, Greenland, Hawaii, New Zealand, parts of Canada, northern Russia, or, not surprisingly, Antarctica . . . – Irish Central

What do Shamrocks, three leaf clovers, have to do with Saint Patrick? According some, this symbol of Ireland since the 18th century comes from St Patrick’s use of the shamrock to convert the Irish to Christianity, with the three leaves of the plant being used to explain the Holy Trinity – the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

What of Leprechauns? How do they relate to St Patrick? Good question… both are strongly Irish and that may just be the only connection necessary.

Irish mythology is full of good and evil spirits and characters. But, there is an in-between area of beings that are neither all good, nor all bad; sort of like us humans. They are balanced between the two, sometimes being kind and generous, and sometimes being petty and mean.

One such being is the Leprechaun.

It is interesting to know that Leprechauns once wore red instead of green. They also had different names in different places.

The Northern Leprechaun or Logheryman wore a “military red coat and white breeches, with a broad-brimmed, high, pointed hat, on which he would sometimes stand upside down”.  – Wikipedia

Leprechauns Once Wore Red, Not Green

In different country districts the Leprechawn has different names. In the northern counties he is the Logheryman; in Tipperary, he is the Lurigadawne; in Kerry, the Luricawne; in Monaghan, the Cluricawne. The dress also varies. The Logheryman wears the uniform of some British infantry regiments, a red coat and white breeches, but instead of a cap, he wears a broad-brimmed, high, pointed hat. – AlbanyKid

Leprechauns average about three feet in height according to Irish folklore  … Prior to the 20th century, leprechauns were depicted wearing red, not green.

More: HuffPost

The legend of the Irish little people may come from real settlers of short stature to Ireland in it’s history:

The Tuatha de Danann, the people of the Goddess Danu, were one of the great ancient tribes of Ireland. The important manuscript ‘The Annals of the Four Masters’, records that they ruled Ireland from 1897 B.C. to 1700 B.C. They became the ‘little people’ of Ireland and gave rise to the leprechaun legend. – Link

Tuatha Dé Danann in Irish mythology, the members of an ancient race said to have inhabited Ireland before the historical Irish. Formerly believed to have been a real people, they are credited with the possession of magical powers and great wisdom. – Encyclopedia

Who were the Druids and how and why did Patrick drive them out?

There are, as far as I can tell in 2019, two major camps with very different views of the Druids. One sympathetic site I found says the Druids were Bards and teachers who valued health, community service, working with high standards, truth and that they felt all life is sacred. They were against wars. They were singers whose stories kept knowledge of history alive.

Instead of hearing the teachings and advice of the Druids, the people began to hear the teachings of Rome. Because the Druids were the only ones who were taught to remember the history, with the Druids dead and their influence broken, the history was forgot …. for the killing of thousands of innocent people, Patrick was made a Saint by his church.

Via witchesofthecraft

Another site says much the opposite, that the Druids were a ruthless wretched bunch who practiced cannibalism and human sacrifices on a mass scale.

Recent evidence that Druids committed cannibalism and ritual human sacrifice perhaps on a massive scale add weight to ancient Roman accounts of Druidic savagery, archaeologists say.

via – NatGeo

Today, Christians assert that St. Patrick only banished a sacrificial Druid religion, an expulsion symbolically represented by the banishment of snakes. Pagans, on the other hand, claim that St. Patrick forced Christian conversion with the threat of violence, and actually killed many Druid priests who refused to convert.

Via Sojo

Common between these views is that there was a war and Christians won over the Druid religion in Ireland. Today, we still celebrate the leader of the Christian effort who was made a Saint. Well, not exactly, but he made the list of saints anyway:

Patrick has never been formally canonised by a Pope; nevertheless, various Christian churches declare that he is a Saint in Heaven (he is in the List of Saints).

See Unrealfacts

Enjoy the day with some nice safe peaceful fun.

Molasses Flood: a Strange Disaster 100 Years Ago

Today, TrueStrange remembers an unlikely historical tragedy. One hundred years ago today many people and several horses were killed by molasses, a huge fast wave of it, in Boston, MA

The Great Molasses Flood, also known as the Boston Molasses Disaster or the Great Boston Molasses Flood, occurred on January 15, 1919, in the North End neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts. A large molasses storage tank burst and a wave of molasses rushed through the streets at an estimated 35 mph (56 km/h), killing 21 and injuring 150. The event entered local folklore and for decades afterwards residents claimed that on hot summer days the area still smelled of molasses.

Via Link

It struck without warning at midday on Jan. 15, 1919, when a giant storage tank containing more than 2.3 million gallons (8.7 million liters) of molasses suddenly ruptured, sending a giant wave of goop crashing through the cobblestone streets of the bustling North End.

The initial wave rose at least 25 feet high (7.6 meters high) – nearly as tall as an NFL goalpost – and it obliterated everything in its path, killing 21 people and injuring 150 others. Rivets popped like machine-gun fire. Elevated railway tracks buckled. Warehouses and firehouses were pushed around like game pieces on a Monopoly board. Tenements were reduced to kindling.

Outrunning the molasses was out of the question. The first of it raced through the harborside neighborhood at 35 mph (56 kph). Not even Usain Bolt, who clocked just under 28 mph (45 kph) at his world-record fastest, could have sprinted to safety.

via WCVB

Horrible. You could not be blamed for running instinctively if you see a crazy massive wall of molasses coming at you. We mostly like to think that there is a fairness to the universe, but sometimes a person is just in the wrong place at the wrong time and a crazy disaster strikes.

As a personal example, my neck and back still hurt this morning, many years after I was rear-ended while driving because I stopped for a preoccupied pedestrian who stepped into traffic without looking at a crosswalk. If my car was not there to stop the speeding truck behind me, she could have been killed. That thought helps when I feel the pain.

In a random universe, simulation or not, you may also experience highly unlikely positive things. God may tap the “Gift” instead of the “Smite” button. Here’s wishing you that side of the improbable coin flip.

A Rare $204,000 Penny

A rare bronze penny sold for $204K recently, below the $1 million+ experts expected. This rare coin is the result of an accident, one of only about 10 to 20 minted in 1943 with copper metal amid US copper shortages that year. The U.S. Mint struck its first 100% copper one-cent coins—then the size of today’s half-dollars—in 1793, and there have been several changes to these coins since.

During World War II there were copper shortages because copper was being used for shell casings and wire for the war. Thus, pennies minted were switched to zinc coated low-grade steel. These “steelies,” pennies from 1943, are still around today, though they are only worth at most about 50 cents. In contrast, a few pennies that look normal from 1943 are quite valuable as they were accidental.

… rare 1943 bronze Lincoln penny has sold for more than $200,000 at a Florida auction.

Heritage Auctions says more than 30 people bid on the rare coin Thursday night. Only 10 to 15 of these pennies, mistakenly minted in bronze instead of steel, are believed to exist. They were made at a time when bronze and copper were being saved to fill metal shortages during World War II.

Via WRal

Previous news about this:

A rare Lincoln-head penny a Massachusetts teenager received in change for his school lunch is up for auction with a starting bid of $100,000.

Heritage Auctions said the 1943 penny, one of only about 20 to be pressed using bronze instead of the steel amid World War II shortages, came into the possession of 16-year-old coin collector Don Lutes, Jr., when he received it in change for his school lunch in 1947 …

Lutes, who had the coin authenticated in 1958 by expert Walter Breen during a New England Numismatic Association convention in Worcester, died in September of last year and the coin was given to Heritage to auction off. …

The auction, which ends Thursday, began with an opening bid of $100,000. A similar 1943 bronze penny sold for $1.7 million in 2010.

Read more:

Copper was a strategic metal in 1943 and a major component used in the manufacture of shell casings, telephone wire, and other wartime necessities. To conserve this important resource, the Treasury Department authorized the U.S. Mint to strike all 1943 Lincoln cents on zinc-coated steel planchets, rather than the familiar “copper” blanks of previous years. The white-colored “steelies” were produced in large numbers and were often seen in circulation until collectors culled out the survivors in the collecting boom of the 1950s and ’60s. However, rumors of extremely rare 1943 “copper pennies” began to circulate almost as soon as the wartime issues were released. 

via Ha

The copper content of U.S. pennies has declined over the years due to rising prices. The expensive metal makes up just 2.5 percent of one-cent pieces minted in 1982 or later; nickels, dimes and quarters, on the other hand, are mainly composed of copper. Still, today’s pennies cost more than their face value—an estimated 1.8 cents each—to produce.  …

In the 1980s, U.S. military bases overseas abolished the penny and began rounding all transactions up or down to the nearest five cents.

via History

Does it really cost more to make a penny than the value of the penny?

… yes, the coin’s face value is less than its actual value, because it actually costs 2.41¢ US ($0.0241 US Dollars (USD) to be exact) to make each penny. The face value of this coin was exceeded by it’s cost for the first time in 2006.  …The parts that are having the biggest impact on the final cost of making a penny are the materials that are used to make it. Pennies have that distinctive coppery color because they contain 2.5% copper. The other material used is zinc, 97.5% of a penny. The cost of metal extraction is much higher than in the past, because of all the new regulations of mining. This has made the prices of the metals used to make a penny rise dramatically in the early 21st century.

Here is why the 1943 copper penny is so valuable:

If your 1943 penny is made out copper, it is worth quite a bit of money, generally $10,000 or more! The reason is that the 1943 copper penny is an error coin. The United States Mint accidentally used the wrong kind of planchet metal when striking the coin. But very, very few of these left the U.S. Mint facilities. These error coins were not intentional. Some copper planchets left over from the previous year got stuck in the corners of the gigantic bins that moved the blank planchets around the mint.

via TheSpruce

1943 steel cents are U.S. one-cent coins that were struck in steel due to wartime shortages of copper. The Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco mints each produced these 1943 Lincoln cents. The unique composition of the coin (low-grade steel coated with zinc, instead of the previously 95%-copper-based bronze composition) has led to various nicknames, such as wartime cent, steel war penny, and steelie. The 1943 steel cent features the same Victor David Brenner design for the Lincoln cent which had been in use since 1909.

According to one source, in 1944 they went back to copper pennies, so if you find a 1944 penny that is steel, it could be worth something. Another source says pennies went back to their pre-war composition in 1946. People were getting them confused with dimes, for one.

What are pennies made of today? Mostly copper coated zinc.

All pennies minted after 1983 have a zinc core covered by copper. – vrcc

Here’s how the US penny composition has changed over time:

1793-1837 – Pure copper.

1837-1857 – Bronze (95% copper, 5% mixture of tin and zinc).

1857-1863 – 88% copper, 12% nickel.

1864-1962 – 95% copper, 5% zinc (Trace amounts of tin).*

1962-part of 1982 – 95% copper, 5% zinc (No tin).

part of 1982-present – 97.5% zinc, 2.5% copper (Copper plated: Inclusive of bicentennial 2009 cent and Union Shield cent).**

Watch out for fake 1943 copper pennies, however, of which there are thousands.

… it is also worth noting that because of the worth of these coins, there are thousands of fakes. Disreputable dealers are taking a 1948 copper penny and filing the 8 down to make a 3.

… zinc-plated steel coins of 1943 tarnished in damp conditions, so public complaints led to the quick discontinuation of that composition.

The pennies went back to their pre-World War II composition in 1946, so some may try to file down the ‘8’ in 1948 minted coins to make it look like a ‘3.’

via DailyMail

All in all, is it worth your time to check your US pennies for the possible copper 1943 $200,000 winner? Highly unlikely, but possible.

There are a “few hundred billion” pennies in circulation with 4 to 8 billion new cents struck each year. You’d have much better odds of winning that much at a casino.

Here’s an example of how to win $100K gambling: Bet $163.27 on a single number at a roulette wheel and let it ride if you win. If you win twice in a row you will have just over $200,000. (163.27*35*35= 200,005.75 with the payout at 1 to 35 in the US and UK.)

The odds of winning this way are 1 : 1444 (38*38) if the wheel is fair. Hitting the same number twice at an active table happens usually at least once per day, according to the Wizard of Vegas. In case you were curious, it would cost $235,761.88 to bet $163.27 the 1,444 times to probably win $200,005.75. Finding a copper 1943 penny is less likely, but it costs nothing to look if you have pennies.

1.2B Yrs of Missing Rock and Origins of Life

Around the globe our earth is missing miles of rock from a certain time in geological history and until recently this fact was a complete mystery. Now we have a possible explanation. The earth, for some reason, several times around 720 million years ago and again 580 million years ago became a huge snowball and massive glaciers scrubbed the surface, depositing mineral riches into the seas. The missing rock layers from this cataclysmic errosion can be observed as something called the great unconformity at the Grand Canyon.

As the ice melted over a thawing snowball earth, complex life exploded about 540 million years ago. Ninety percent of animal phyla that exist today appeared in a short 10 million year window of time known as the Cambrian Explosion.

The Earth is missing some of its crust, and now scientists have a new lead on what’s to blame: A lot of glaciers.

Nearly 720 million years ago, Earth was cloaked in global ice, an era known as Snowball Earth. The grinding of these worldwide ice sheets may have bulldozed between 1.8 and 3 miles (3 and 5 kilometers) of crust into the oceans, researchers reported Dec. 31. There, plate tectonics crunched it back into Earth’s hot middle layer, the mantle, recycling it into new rock. …

If the scientists are right, Snowball Earth explains a very weird feature of geology called the Great Unconformity. Seen around the world, this unconformity refers to a layer where sedimentary rocks have been deposited right on top of the oldest basement rock of the crust. Bizarrely, hundreds of millions of years of sedimentary layers are missing between this igneous or metamorphic basement and the oldest preserved sedimentary rocks. In the Grand Canyon, for example, a mind-boggling 1.2 billion years of rock are simply missing.

… A story was emerging: Massive amounts of crust, rather suddenly transferred to ocean subduction zones to be crunched back down into the mantle. But if all that crust moved into the ocean, someone probably should have noticed the erosion, Keller said.

“And indeed we have — in the Great Unconformity,” he said. …

Around 700 million years ago, they found, the Earth’s impact craters were wiped nearly clean. Only two huge craters, the Sudbury basin in Canada and the Vredefort crater in South Africa, predate Snowball Earth — and those craters were staggeringly enormous, originally measuring 93 miles (150 km) and 185 miles (300 km) across, respectively. They’ve been eroded to a fraction of their original size. …

via LiveSci

… results suggest that the formation of the Great Unconformity may have triggered the Cambrian explosion.

“This feature explains a lot of lingering questions in different arenas, including the odd occurrences of many types of sedimentary rocks and a very remarkable style of fossil preservation. 

Read more at PhysOrg

One theory is that a random or even a periodic appearance of solar system disturbing space objects (planet X?) moved the earth’s orbit at times, causing major cooling changes.

I do not think the survival of our species long term is a given. The more we learn, the more the Earth’s history of periodic global cataclysms highlights the need to explore space and to establish earth outposts on other planets.

A strange truth is that we may all owe our existence to snowball earth glaciers giving the seas the ground up mixed minerals needed to support our version of life. Remember this the next time you see a snowman. ❄️ ⛄️👍


Happy Elvis/Bowie/Xeno Birthday

Once again it is, today, my shared birthday with Elvis Presley and David Bowie. This year I’m spending my birth anniversary in a snowy cabin in the woods alone in the shadow of a massive volcano, working on my 100 original songs project and daydreaming a bit.

They say the first step is knowing what you want. My current wishes: long years of good health, peace, good friends, love and music, to help and entertain people, to grow, to forgive and to heal from the past. Same wishes I’ve had most years.

If you enjoy this blog/web site and want to send me a little birthday gift, share with someone who might like the strange news awards articles and added notes I post here.

My traffic is around 200 visitors per day these days, pretty low compared to the 3,000 to 5,000 per day I was seeing before Facebook ate the Internet, but there are some occasional spikes and this notice from WordPress is fun to see:

Thanks again for enjoying the daily odd news of the world with me, and to those of you with blogs of your own that I enjoy reading, for all the likes, help, words of wisdom, poetry, music, art, humor, intel, adventures, entertainment and other great things you share.



Worldwide Wireless Energy Transmission from One Device

On this day in the year 1900, Nicola Tesla recorded in his journal a success with wireless energy transmission.

Tesla claimed he could transmit power around the planet from a single point.

from a central point in unlimited amounts, with a loss not exceeding a small fraction of one percent in transmission, even to the greatest distance, 12,000 miles, to the opposite side of the …

In this quote Tesla seems to have predicted the world wide web of smart phones, although he wanted to power all these instruments remotely through the air.

The magnifying transmitter is an advanced version of Tesla coil transmitter. It is a high power harmonic oscillator that Nikola Tesla intended for the wireless transmission of electrical energy. In his autobiography, Tesla stated that “. . . I feel certain that of all my inventions, the Magnifying Transmitter will prove most important and valuable to future generations.” The magnifying transmitter is an air-core, multiple-resonant transformer that can generate very high voltages.

… He kept a handwritten diary of his experiments in the Colorado Springs lab where he spent nearly nine months. It consists of 500 pages of notes and nearly 200 drawings, recorded chronologically between June 1, 1899 and January 7, 1900, as the work occurred, containing explanations of his experiments.

… Tesla logged in his diary on January 2, 1900 that a separate resonance transformer tuned to the same high frequency as a larger high-voltage resonance transformer (which acted as a transmitter) received energy from the larger coil, one of many demonstrations of the wireless transmission of electrical energy.

… The magnifying transmitter was the basis for Tesla’s later Wardenclyffe Tower project. Although modern Tesla coils are designed to generate spark discharges, this system was designed for wireless telecommunications and electrical power transmission.

… The magnifying transmitter’s base-driven extra coil behaves as a slow-wave helical resonator, the axial disturbance propagating at a velocity of less than 1% up to around 10% the speed of light in free space.

… At Colorado Springs, Tesla used his magnifying transmitter in an attempt to stimulate terrestrial standing waves. Based upon observations made with the device, Tesla reported that an earth resonance mode involving an electric current flowing through the earth can be excited. He claimed to have discovered a fundamental earth resonance frequency of approximately 11.787 Hz, significantly higher than the fundamental earth-ionosphere cavity Schumann resonance in the vicinity of 7.3 Hz, found to exist by researchers in the 1950s.

In normal operation the magnifying transmitter is relatively silent, generating a high power electric field, but if the output voltage exceeds the design voltage of the elevated terminal, high-voltage sparks will strike out from the electrode into the air.


Pot Gives a High Due to Viruses

A true strange fact for marijuana lovers: they owe the high times with the world’s most popular illegal drug to viruses. Specifically, what has been discovered is that ancient viruses brought the genes for making THC into plants.

The enzymes … making THC and CBD are encoded by THCA and CBDA synthase genes, respectively. Both are found on chromosome 6 of the ten chromosomes the cannabis genome is packaged into. There, the enzyme genes are surrounded by vast swathes of garbled DNA which came from viruses that colonized the genome millions of years ago. This viral DNA, or retroelements as it is known, made copies of itself that spread across the genome by jumping into other sites in the host cell’s DNA.

… The gene sequences for the THCA and CBDA synthases are nearly identical supporting the idea that they come from the same gene which was duplicated millions of years ago. Over time, one or both gene copies became scrambled by invading retroelements, and by evolving separately, they eventually came to produce two different enzymes — CBDA synthase found in hemp (fibre-type), and THCA synthase in drug-type (marijuana).

Because the enzymes are so similar at the DNA level, until this study it was not even clear if they are encoded by separate genes or by two versions of the same gene. Adding to the confusion was the fact that most strains produce both CBD and THC despite breeders’ efforts to grow hemp varieties free from the mind-altering THC for users looking to avoid it. …

The chromosome map now clearly shows that two distinct genes are at play which should make it possible to separate them during breeding to grow plants without THC. Some psychoactive effects in medical strains could be coming from CBC, a lesser known cannabinoid that has unusual pharmacology including anti-inflammatory properties. The discovery of the gene responsible for CBC synthesis will make it possible for breeders to tailor its content in future varieties.

via SciDaily

The two different strains of the Cannabis sativa plant species come from two different genes which give different forms of enzymes to make THC.

Polymorphisms of THCA synthase result in varying levels of THC in Cannabis plants, resulting in “drug-type” and “fiber-type” C. sativa varieties.

Via Wikipedia

Where did the viruses get the THC making genes in the first place? Perhaps from some of our ancestors with spines since the human brain and other animals in phylum Chordata have cannabinoid receptor systems.

Cannabinoid receptors, located throughout the body, are part of the endocannabinoid system, which is involved in a variety of physiological processes including appetite, pain-sensation, mood, and memory.

Via Wikipedia

April 2009: Scientists have just shown that one of Bob Dylan’s most famous lines–“everybody must get stoned”– is correct. That’s because they’ve discovered that the brain manufactures proteins that act like marijuana at specific receptors in the brain itself. …

“The War on Drugs has hit very close to home,” said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal. “Last year, scientists found that our skin makes its own marijuana-like substance. Now, we see that our brain has been making proteins that act directly on the marijuana receptors in our head.

via SciDaily

In the skin, explained lead researcher Tamás Bíró of the University of Debrecen, Hungary, these compounds help the sebaceous glands protect us from harsh outer elements, such as the drying effects of wind and sun. Cannabinoids are thought to have a similar role in the leaves of the marijuana plant.
Among its protective functions, “endo-pot” stimulates oil production and tells hair follicles to stop producing hair.

via Cannabis

Could the THC genes be added to a different plant instead?

It seems so. This is from 9 years ago in the American Buddhist Net News:

DNA Scientists: THC Gene “Easily Transferred to Tomato, Cucumber, and Other Common Garden Plants”

June 1, 2009

Oakdale, CA: Scientists at Montsaint Genie Tech Inc. announced today that they have successfully transferred the gene segment that produces the psychotropic chemical THC in cannabis plants to many other common garden plants, including tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, carrots, and more.

“We probably can put the THC segment into almost any plant in existence,” says lead scientist Rebeca Vale. “It’s a very simple process. We are starting work on oak and maple trees now.”

Asked if the resulting plants could be used in ways similar to cannabis, Vale replied, “Well, you can’t make twine out of a tomato plant, but if someone were to dry it and smoke it, all of the medicinal and psychotropic effects of marijuana would be present. And what’s more, we have learned that tomatoes, in particular, actually produce more THC than cannabis itself.”

But is it legal? “Actually, yes,” says Vale. “Our research qualifies as GMO ‘intellectual property’, as does the process itself. Since tomatoes and other plants are not illegal, a person would be well within the law to grow them and use them as they please.”

Vale says that her company is working on a spray that will transfer the segment to many plants simply by spraying the leaves of seedlings.

Via uk420

Instant DNA-Altering Sprays?

Sprays that alter seedling DNA are supposedly on their way.

“A spray can be used immediately without having to go through the years involved in development of a GM or conventionally bred crop,” says David Baulcombe at the University of Cambridge, who studies gene silencing in plants. …

Companies like Monsanto are already developing gene-silencing sprays that get inside bugs and kill them by disabling vital genes…. many genetically modified plants work by producing gene-silencing RNAs. What is more, it has been discovered that specific genes can be shut down in some – although not all – bugs and plants simply by spraying them with small double-stranded RNAs with sequences matching the genes.

Monsanto, for instance, is developing RNAi sprays that kill pests. Its spray targeting the varroa mites contributing to the woes of bees is now entering the final stages of development, the company revealed on 5 January.

One challenge with the spray approach is that the effects on plants last only a few days because unprotected RNAs soon break down. Farmers will not want to apply expensive sprays this often.

In experiments with tobacco plants, Mitter’s team has now shown it can make the protective effect last at least 20 days. This was achieved by combining the RNAs with clay nanoparticles developed by her colleague Gordon Xu.

The positively charged clay nanoparticles, made of stacked sheets of common minerals such as magnesium chloride, bind and protect the negatively charged RNAs. Over time, the clay particles react with carbon dioxide and break down, slowly releasing the RNAs. … Gene-silencing sprays should be far safer than ordinary pesticides.

“Should be” according to what or whom?

RNAs cannot pass through human skin and are rapidly broken down in the body. While one 2012 study claimed some of the plant RNAs present in the food we eat already could affect human genes, several follow-up studies have found no evidence of any such effect.

Via NewSci

Studies may not find what they are funded to not find, and correct me if I’m misunderstanding, but there is still the fact that we, as eukaryotes exist due to early horizontal gene transfer.

Via Horizontal Gene Transfer

What are you going to do today without your mitochondria? Not much, to be sure.

… go back about two billion years to a time when none of the complexity of life as we see it today existed. … Our primordial ancestor was a simple single-celled creature, living in a long-term rut of evolutionary stagnation. Then something dramatic happened – an event that would literally breathe life into the eventual evolution of complex organisms. One of the cells engulfed another and enslaved it as a perpetual source of energy for its host.

The increase in available energy to the cell powered the formation of more complex organisms with multiple cells, eyes, and brains. Slowly, the two species became intertwined – sharing some of their DNA and delegating specific cellular tasks – until eventually they became firmly hardwired to each other to form the most intimate of biological relationships. Two separate species became one.

via TheConversation

Without a science education, voters are easily misled. It should be basic knowledge that we are all hybrids of several different species, species that shared DNA to become us.  (Examples: Our immunity to viruses comes from another species, Neanderthal Man. Pleasure seeking addiction genes were added to us by a virus, a fragment of viral DNA, dubbed HK2, near our genes which underpin the brain’s reward system, and more. We are each a genetic hodge podge.)

Horizontal gene transfer (HGT), or the transfer of genes between species, has been recognized recently as more pervasive than previously suspected.

via ResearchGate

Available data indicate that no insurmountable barrier to HGT exists, even in complex multicellular eukaryotes. In addition, the discovery of both recent and ancient HGT events in all major eukaryotic groups suggests that HGT has been a regular occurrence throughout the history of eukaryotic evolution.

via NIH

All life on earth, including us, is a genetic modification of the original “life.”

Here’s a reasonable guess as to how life first appeared on earth: First, materials for DNA arrived on our early lifeless planet from space. The building blocks of DNA have been confirmed to exist in extraterrestrial meteorites, researchers announced. (Aug 8, 2011) Next, there were many volcanoes on the early earth, including under water, which provided heat and circulation of raw materials.

Life could have started as a chemical soup, with simple fat molecules (lipids) eventually sticking together to form spheres. As these lipid spheres were circulating from hot to cold areas near thermal vents at the bottom of the ocean, they would expand due to the heat and then take in some random junk through gaps in the membrane, including DNA or RNA precursor molecules. As they floated on the currents to the cooler areas, they would contract, trapping the molecules they “ate” earlier. When their insides eventually formed DNA/RNA due to simple atomic forces and started self replicating for the same reason, the spheres grew from the inside and split again when they got heated from the outside. And on it went, gaining complexity. By this theory, the first DNA was just random, but natural selection caused certain patterns to persist, specifically the ones that made lipid balls (proto-cells) fill up with DNA/RNA and split due to the inner pressure of the forming structures. Single layer membranes eventually became double layers, etc. The first thing our DNA could probably do was simply reproduce itself.  What then?

A new theory proposes the primordial life-forms that gave rise to all life on Earth left deep-sea vents because of their “invention” of a tiny pump. These primitive cellular pumps would have powered life-giving chemical reactions.

The idea, detailed Dec. 20 in the journal Cell, could help explain two mysteries of life’s early origin: How did the earliest proto-cells power chemical reactions to make the organic building blocks of life; and how did they leave hydrothermal vents to colonize early Earth’s oceans?

via LiveScience

A protocell (or protobiont) is a self-organized, endogenously ordered, spherical collection of lipids proposed as a stepping-stone toward the origin of life.

… The cell membrane is the only cellular structure that is found in all of the cells of all of the organisms on Earth.

via Wikipedia

Once we learn as a society and then as individuals to take genetic code from anywhere and everywhere, and even to invent new genes, as seems inevitable, we may not soon after recognize future humans so easily. Imagine popular genetic additions. Will it be super speed, strength, and rapid organ regeneration? Immortality, super eye-sight with night vision and super hearing? Camouflage skin? Think about it, would you trade looking odd with big bat-like ears for the ability to hear 20 times better? Some would.

If we move too quickly, we could mess up and accidentally obliterate our species. If we succeed, there could be a day where we are able to cure any current disease with a spray. Could we even survive in space without suits one day using Tardigrade genes? Interesting times ahead.

Reading Comprehension Quiz: Who read this while under the influence of cannabinoids?

Right, the answer is everybody.

While supporting decriminalization for both medical and recreational use, the smell of marijuana makes this author nauseous and he does not personally use it or recommend it as part of a healthy lifestyle.

Brady Bunch House on the Market for $1.85 Million

The Brady Bunch house is for sale.

It’s the story … of an iconic house that could get the wrecking ball.

The home that served as the exterior for the TV sitcom “The Brady Bunch” is on the market for $1.885 million, but it could be wiped off the map, Deadline reported

“I have several buyers already interested,” real estate agent Jodie LeVitus Francisco was quoted as saying in an article posted Wednesday. “They’re developers for the lot size. They might tear down, but the listing agent said the family was hoping to get someone to preserve the house, and at $1.85 (million), I don’t know if a developer would pay that much.”

The 2,477-square-foot house in the Studio City neighborhood of Los Angeles has had the same owners for 45 years, according to real estate records. The owners have died and their children are selling, the Los Angeles Times reported.

In 2016 burglars reportedly ransacked the house

To any fan of the blended-family sitcom that aired from 1969 to 1974, the house is highly recognizable from the opening and closing scenes on the series, and is frequently visited by tourists. Interior shots were filmed on a sound stage.

via Huff

Wood paneling, plush carpet and plenty of closet space for bell bottoms give the three-bedroom, two-bathroom home just some of its charm — even if the Bradys didn’t really live there. The house doesn’t have the second floor window the Bradys had on TV.

“In the show, you remember it was a split level,” Carswell noted of the home’s interior, which was built on a stage at Paramount Studios. “In this home, so that it would look like that on the show, the producer’s stylist, directors had a false window applied to the front of the house so that it would appear like a full two-story.” …

The owner, Violet McCallister, also made another change to the home, installing a fence around the property. “After Ms. McCallister lived here a number of years, the fan base kept growing and growing, and the visitations by the public kept coming on. She decided she needed a little barrier, but she didn’t want to enshroud the house privately, because she realized people loved it,” Carswell explained.

McCallister’s granddaughter, Kelsey, told ET that she and her grandmother “loved” seeing all the fans show up to admire the property. “We would see all these people come up and they were full of smiles and they came from all over the world,” she recalled. “Did people come up and sing [the Brady Bunch theme song] all the time? Yes, absolutely.” …

via ETOnline

Here’s what it looks like in TV show with the false window:

Jupiter’s Octagon and Pentagon Shaped Cyclone Clusters

There are surprises in the game every day if we pay attention. Here’s one from the largest planet in our solar system: geometric clusters of cyclones on Jupiter.

Jupiter’s poles are blanketed by geometric clusters of cyclones and its atmosphere is deeper than scientists suspected.

These are just some of the discoveries reported by four international research teams Wednesday, based on observations by NASA’s Juno spacecraft circling Jupiter.

Via NYPost

Above: Cyclones circle, Jupiter’s North Pole, composite image from Juno data.

Above: Octogon of cyclones at one of Jupiter’s poles taken by the NASA Juno spacecraft.

The Juno spacecraft has the largest solar panels in the universe, as far as we know. It has 19,000 solar cells that extract energy from more wavelengths of light (colors) than ordinary cells used on earth.

The combined mass of the three panels is nearly 340 kg (750 lb). If the panels were optimized to operate at Earth, they would produce 12 to 14 kilowatts of power. Only about 486 W was generated when Juno arrived at Jupiter, projected to decline to near 420 W as radiation degrades the cells. The solar panels will remain in sunlight continuously from launch through the end of the mission, except for short periods during the operation of the main engine and eclipses by Jupiter.

Via Wikipedia

Juno was launched August 5, 2011 and reached Jupiter orbit July 5, 2016, a 1,796 day journey (4.92 years). On March 7, 2018, these images from Juno were released on the photojournal JPL site:

Above: Jupiter’s southern exposure in infrared.

This computer-generated image shows the structure of the cyclonic pattern observed over Jupiter’s south pole. Like in the North, Jupiter’s south pole also contains a central cyclone, but it is surrounded by five cyclones with diameters ranging from 3,500 to 4,300 miles (5,600 to 7,000 kilometers) in diameter. Almost all the polar cyclones (at both poles), are so densely packed that their spiral arms come in contact with adjacent cyclones. However, as tightly spaced as the cyclones are, they have remained distinct, with individual morphologies over the seven months of observations detailed in the paper. The data used in generating this image was collected by the Jovian Infrared Auroral Mapper (JIRAM) instrument aboard the Juno spacecraft during the fourth Juno pass over Jupiter on Feb. 2, 2017.

Here is a new view on Jupiter’s North Pole

One group uncovered a constellation of nine cyclones over Jupiter’s north pole and six over the south pole. The wind speeds exceed Category 5 hurricane strength in places, reaching 220 mph.

The massive storms haven’t changed position much — or merged — since observations began.

Team leader Alberto Adriani of Italy’s National Institute for Astrophysics in Rome was surprised to find such complex structures. Scientists thought they’d find something similar to the six-sided cloud system spinning over Saturn’s north pole.

“We were wrong about it,” he said via email.

Instead, they found an octagon-shaped grouping over the north pole, with eight cyclones surrounding one in the middle, and a pentagon-shaped batch over the south pole. Each cyclone measures several thousand miles across.

Via CBSLocal

Timeline: data collected by the craft on Feb. 2, 2017 was released to the public over a year later on March 7, 2018. One answer on Quora says that when the Juno craft is 870 million kilometers (541 million miles) from earth and that a signal takes a little over 48 minutes to reach us. Fact check: Seems right. It takes light 48.37 minutes to travel that distance and radio waves travel at the speed of light.

At the present time, a signal (a beep tone, for instance) from JUNO takes a little over 48 minutes to reach the DEEP SPACE NETWORK on Earth, the distance now being 870 million kilometers. This may slightly vary from day to day as all the related objects are in motion – Jupiter and Earth orbiting the Sun, and Juno orbiting Jupiter. When Jupiter is farthest from Earth it is almost a billion kilometers away. … The transponder on Juno uses 7153 MHz to receive and 8404 MHz to transmit. … Jupiter’s distance is 870 million kilometers now, about 6 times our distance from the Sun.

Via Quora

What causes the patterns in Jupiter is not well understood.

… what happens near its poles and below its cloud tops has long been a bit of a mystery. Thanks to its unique orbit, NASA’s Juno mission has now revealed some of Jupiter’s best-kept secrets. The results, published in four papers in Nature, show that the planet has surprising “polygonal” shapes of cyclones at its poles – including a pentagon at the south pole – and that its banded structure persists to depths of 3,000 km.

From Earth and spacecraft in certain orbits, we can only see Jupiter’s equatorial regions well. In fact, this has been the case for all previous missions to the planet. …

Juno has a unique, highly elliptical orbit, giving it the first good views over Jupiter’s poles.

Every 53 days since July 2016, it has swept as close as 4,100 km above Jupiter’s cloud tops, giving it excellent views of its aurora – a type of “northern lights” caused by electrical currents in the rapidly rotating magnetosphere (a magnetic field) interacting with the planet’s atmosphere – and the polar regions of the atmosphere in visible, infrared and ultraviolet light.

As well as studying the aurora and magnetosphere, Juno also helps scientists probe the gravitational field of Jupiter’s interior in exquisite detail by monitoring small tweaks to the spacecraft’s orbit – down to 3,000 km below the clouds.

Being the largest planet in the solar system, Jupiter boasts a radius more than 10 times Earth’s, at nearly 70,000 km.

The counter-rotating winds in the zones and belts reach speeds of 100 metres per second. Its main composition is hydrogen and helium – leftovers from the dense cloud of gas and dust, known as the solar nebula, that formed our solar system 4.6 billion years ago.

Below the cloud tops, the gas pressure is thought to increase hugely. At just 3,000 km below the clouds, the pressure should reach 100,000 bar, which is the pressure needed to synthesise diamond on Earth.

Further towards the centre, the pressure and temperature increase even further, and the hydrogen starts behaving like a metal. Models show that even further in we would reach an icy and rocky core with a radius about 20 percent of Jupiter’s.

The models aren’t that reliable though, and this is where Juno comes in.

Peculiar polar patterns

Scientists were hugely surprised the first time they saw the poles of another gas giant – Saturn.

Cassini confirmed the Voyager discovery of a peculiar, huge hexagon feature in Saturn’s atmosphere near the poles. This surrounds a polar hurricane with a diameter of 1,250 km.

At the larger Jupiter, scientists didn’t expect to see this pattern at all. Instead, theories suggested that the zones and belts at the centre would weaken towards the poles leading to chaotic turbulence, rather than structured patterns.

But thanks to Juno, scientists have now discovered a huge cyclone at each pole, about 4,000 km in diameter in the north and 5,600 km in the south.

Remarkably, these are surrounded by eight similarly sized cyclones in the north, and five in the south. These cyclones seem remarkably stable over the time that Juno has imaged them in the visible and infrared.

The eight northern cyclones form a “ditetragon” shape (this is what you get if you connect two pyramids at the base) and the five southern cyclones form a pentagon shape (see lead image).

We don’t understand yet what causes them and why they are so persistent.

Via ScieneAlert

The observable planet Jupiter in the night sky was considered to be a god by the ancient Romans and was called Zeus by the ancient Greeks.

Most people today don’t get out under the stars (away from city lights) much and thus don’t realize that if you’re out every night looking at the night sky, you notice the difference between stars and planets, as did the ancients.

The planets slowly wander around in the sky compared to the rest of the stars.

The Greek word “Angelos” means messenger or wanderer. The planets have been called angels. People didn’t just make up angels out of thin air, they observed them in the heavens. The Arch Angels were planets that wandered in the great arch of the sky.

Seven angels or archangels are given as related to the seven days of the week: Michael (Sunday), Gabriel (Monday), Raphael (Tuesday), Uriel (Wednesday), Selaphiel (Thursday), Raguel or Jegudiel (Friday), and Barachiel (Saturday). Various occult systems associate each archangel with one of the traditional “seven luminaries” (the seven naked-eye moving objects in the sky: the seven classical planets): the sun, the moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn; but there is disagreement as to which archangel corresponds to which body.

Via Wikipedia

The collection of odd beliefs we have today is a mishmash of different human attempts at understanding the world (and the night sky) by the people who came before us.

Cool cyclones, Zeus. Are you trying to tell us something?

This seems a fitting last post of May 2018. Tomorrow is the first day of June, likely named after the Roman goddess Juno, the goddess of marriage and the wife of the supreme deity Jupiter.