Saturday, July 26, 2014

Tesla's 'UFO'

Among the many apocryphal tinkerings of famed inventor Nikola Tesla, the most contentious might be his flying machine, which some sources claim was an ion-propelled vehicle that would fly without use of wings, ailerons, propellers, or an onboard fuel source. This craft would be light, fast, and likely not of any familiar design. Tesla believed this craft would fly by powering itself from electrical stations on the ground but without ever having to directly connect to them, remotely recharge, as it were. Some believe the shape of the craft would have been either cylindrical or saucer-like.

While Tesla's ruminations on the concept might not be in total dispute, the notion that he got very far with the concept is highly debatable. While there do seem to be unaccounted for patents in the vast trove of documents relating to Tesla's revolutionary work, there is little to suggest from attendant documents and the general work of his at the time that he was even looking in that direction in any serious sense.

One spurious report has it that work on such a device was begun in the late 1920s, being financed by the likes of J. P. Morgan and seeing fruition in 1938. Furthermore, wild speculation attributes WW2 foo fighter and later flying saucer sightings--nay, the entire UFO phenomenon--to this invention or some similar iteration.

If we look at Tesla's patents from the late 1920s, we see he was working on an interesting flying machine. However, a quick read reveals that his revolutionary device would have less in common with the Jetsons than with such vertical take-off vehicles such as the Osprey and Harrier employed by the USAF.

U.S. Patent 1,655,113 - Method of Aerial Transportation - 1928 January 3 - VTOL aeroplane; Describes a method of achieved vertical take-off, transition to and from horizontal flight, and vertical landing, with a tilting rotor. Including transportation which consists in developing by the propelling device a vertical thrust in excess of the normal, causing thereby the machine to rise in an approximately vertical direction, tilting it and simultaneously increasing the power of the motor and thereby the propeller thrust, then gradually reducing the propeller thrust as forward speed is gained and the plane takes up the load, thus maintaining the lifting force sensibly constant during flight, tilting the machine back to its original position and at the same time increasing the power if the motor and thrust of the propeller and effecting a landing under the restraining action of the same.

This patent summary clearly illustrates a vehicle using largely conventional thrust in an unconventional way. This is revolutionary to be sure, but far from any ion-propulsion technology.

But much like DaVinci and other master inventors who seemed far ahead of their times, a quasi-mystical cult has arisen in the wake of Tesla's passing, filling the gaps with all sorts of spurious tales of fantastic inventions, including death rays, thought photography, force fields, and more. So, why not add UFOs to the list as well?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Roundup of the Rare: Strange (but true?) Stories From Around The World.

Roopkund is a glacial lake in India's Himalayan region full of ancient skeletons that become disturbingly visible when the snow melts. No one knows exactly why so many bodies lie at the bottom of this lake. It could have been war, disease, or ritual. Scientists at National Geographic examined 30 of the skeletons and concluded they were all Indian. Other artifacts, such as clothing, spears, and wooden implements were found as well. Approximately 300 individuals rest in the lake's icy embrace, most dating to the 9th century. It seems by DNA composition to have been a party of Konkanastha Brahmins on a pilgrimage from  Maharashtra to Tibet as part of festivities that took place once every 12 years among members of the Nanda Devi cult. But how they died remains the biggest mystery. Were they attacked or did they succumb to disease or weather?

Leave it to the Icelanders to have a Christmas monster more terrifying than the Krampus. Everyone, meet GrĂ½la, an ogress that lives in a mountain-top lair who descends at Christmas to punish naughty children--by eating them. Her favorite dish is a stew of naughty kids. When she’s not consuming children, she’s also the mother of the Yule Lads, a group of miscreants who in modern times have become the Icelandic version of Santa Claus.

The intense heat and light of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bomb blasts left behind ghostly silhouettes of human beings whose lives were erased in an instant. These "shadows" are permanently etched onto buildings and sidewalks throughout the two cities, though fewer remain with each passing decade.

The Guanjuato Mummies are considered to be among the strangest and most horrifying in the world. Contorted faces on some of the mummies have given rise to the belief that some of them were buried alive. After author Ray Bradbury visited the catacombs in Guanajuato he stated "The experience so wounded and terrified me, I could hardly wait to flee Mexico".

I should note that some of this writing was pulled directly from blubs on Pinterest. These disparate authors remain unkown, but I appreciate their efforts at chronicling some really weird stuff.