Scientists are sure how it works since the so-called EmDrive defies all known laws of physics
The ‘impossible’ fuel-free engine called EmDrive could transport astronauts to Mars in just 10 weeks has been proven to work, even though no one known how or why it works. The revolutionary engine creates thrust by bouncing microwaves in a closed chamber and is powered only by solar energy.
A prototype of the ‘impossible’ fuel-free engine
While researchers have pointed out the engine is an impossible concept since it defies all known laws of physics, the engine has turned out to be a feasible option for future spacecraft.
Now, scientists have come up with a theory that could explain how it can actually work. In the next coming months, the engine will undergo peer review as scientists hope it can become a reality shortly.
The idea, however, isn’t new. The concept was proposed for the first time 16 years go when researcher Roger Shawyer came up with the incredible idea.
Since 2000, four independent research facilities including one belonging to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration have recreated the drive and even though it creates thrust, no one has been able to explain how.
The EmDrive converts electrical energy into thrust without the necessity for rocket fuel. Classical physics suggest that this engine should not work since it appears to violate the law of conservation of momentum.
According to the law, the momentum of a system is constant if there are no external forces acting on the system –because of this, propellant is used in traditional rockets.
However, Dr. Mike McCulloch of Plymouth University firmly believes he might have figured out the impossible drive, and his explanation is based on a new theory of inertia, describing the resistance of massive objects to changes in motion and acceleration.
The idea as to why inertia exists at all has puzzled researchers for centuries.
Dr. McCulloch proposes that inertia can be explained from an effect predicted by Einstein’s theory of general relativity called ‘Unruh radiation.’
This effect states that if there is an acceleration in a vacuum, empty space will contain gas particles at a temperature which is proportional to that of the acceleration, meaning that that universe basically heats up objects as the accelerate.
Dr. McCulloch suggests that inertia can be defined as the pressure exerted by the Unruh radiation on an accelerating body. Size matters, this is why when accelerations involved are smaller, like the case of the EmDrive, the wavelength of Unruh radiation gets larger.
At extremely low accelerations, wavelengths become simply put, too large to fit into the observable universe. Researchers suggest that as a result, inertia may only take on whole-wavelength units over time, causing it to become ‘quantized.’
Researchers have discovered that at extremely low accelerations, inertia jumps unexpectedly in value, an effect already observed by scientists previously when spacecraft perform a flyby of Earth, causing them to move much faster that what scientists calculated they should.
However, we could be looking at the same thing in the EmDrive by reducing the size of allowed wavelengths of Unruh radiation.
One of the images from an as-yet unpublished paper on the EMDrive
According to Dr. McCulloch, since photons have an inertial mass, they experience inertia when they perfect. However, since due to the EmDrive truncated cone, the Unruh radiation in tiny.
According to a report by MIT, the cone allows Unruh radiation of a certain size at the large end but only a smaller wavelength at the other end. The inertia of photons inside the cavity changes as these bounce back and forth. In order to conserve momentum, they are forced to generate thrust.
McCulloch says there is some evidence that exactly this happens. ‘This thrust reversal may have been seen in recent Nasa experiments,’ he says.
The next step is to test out the EmDrive on a larger scale, and if it works, it could carry both passengers and equipment to the moon in just four hours, or take them to the red planet in just ten weeks.
The EmDrive will be a huge thing if it works on a larger scale since it would make it possible for humans to travel outside our solar system.
Fro example, a trip to Alpha Centauri would take tens of thousands of years with our current technology, however, using the EmDrive engine, a trip to Alpha Centauri would take just 100 years.
Experts are now wondering: are giants more than just myth after all?
Did Giants Ever Exist?
In the search for proof that giants existed, people have traditionally exaggerated with unfounded stories and tales.
Nevertheless, the controversial discoveries of skeletons measuring 7 feet to more than 9 feet tall, along with other artifacts, have suggested to some that truth inspired these legends.
Interestingly, American president Abraham Lincoln once stated, inspired by viewing Niagara Falls:
“The eyes of that species of extinct giants, whose bones fill the mounds of America, have gazed on Niagara, as ours do now.
“Contemporary with the whole race of men, and older than the first man, Niagara is strong, and fresh today as 10,000 years ago.”
Apparently, Lincoln believed in the existence of giants, but was he right?
A new study says yes; well, kind of (not the kind of giants most of us would imagine).
A selection of newspaper clippings reporting on discoveries of giant skeletons. Credit: Hugh Newman
Not the Kind of Giant You Might Imagine
Live Science reports that as part of a study-in-progress on mummies, scientists have been closely examining a skeleton found in 1901 in a tomb near Beit Khallaf in Egypt.
Previous research estimated that the bones dated from the Third Dynasty of Egypt, about 2700 BC. The initial analysis of the skeleton indicated that it belonged to Sa-Nakht, a pharaoh during the Third Dynasty.
The only two evidences about his existence are found in two seal fragments, which were excavated from Wadi Maghareh, located in the Sinai Peninsula region.
Egypt Travel Experts, Ask Aladdin, reported that the skeletal remains “of a very large-sized man” believed to be Sa-Nakht, were found in mastaba tomb K2 in Beit Khallaf, a small village of Mille Egypt.
Sa-Nakht was a notably tall man for his time, as he was around 6’2 (1.87m) tall.
Previous studies on ancient Egyptian mummies have shown that the average height for men back then was around 5’6 (1.68m), according to the study’s co-author Michael Habicht, an Egyptologist at the University of Zurich’s Institute of Evolutionary Medicine.
Of course, most ancient Egyptian royals were better fed and in better health than everyday Egyptians, so they would normally grow taller and live longer than the Egyptian commoners.
However, the nearly 6’2 remains of Sa-Nakht the scientists re-examined recently are almost five inches longer than the remains of Ramsses II, the tallest recorded ancient Egyptian pharaoh, who lived more than a millennium after Sa-Nakht and was only about 5’9 (1.75m) tall, as Habicht told Live Science.
Sa-Nakht May Have Suffered from Gigantism
Scientists who studied Sa-Nakht’s skeleton now believe that he had a condition known as gigantism, which occurs when the body produces too much growth hormone.
In most cases, this occurs because of a tumor on the pituitary gland of the brain. Habicht and his colleagues have concluded that Sa-Nakht probably suffered from gigantism after they reanalyzed the alleged skull and bones of Sa-Nakht,
“The skeleton’s long bones showed evidence of ‘exuberant growth,’ which are clear signs of gigantism,” Habicht tells Live Science.
And added, “Studying the evolutionary development of diseases is of importance for today’s medicine.”
If their diagnosis is correct, the alleged Sa-Nakht would be the oldest known palaeopathological case of gigantism in the world.
The Kashmir giants, who suffered from a more severe form of gigantism (CC by SA 4.0)
Of course, no one would describe a 6’2 human as a giant nowadays, so the definition the scientists give to describe Sa-Nakht is not compatible with what we would consider a giant today, but is based on his diagnosis of gigantism.
In fact, he probably wouldn’t have been tall enough to make a basketball team today – a typical NBA center stands in the 7-foot range!
The scientists detailed their findings in the August issue of the journal The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology.
IN A SUBURBAN ARCADE NEAR Portland, Oregon, in 1981, a dull, digital glow bounced off the faces of teenagers who clutched joysticks, immersed in the game. Tiny lines and dots danced or exploded with high-pitched beeps across them all, but one game cabinet, Polybius, drew the longest lines.
Gamers who tried it couldn’t stop playing, and began acting oddly: they were nauseous, stressed, had horrific nightmares. Others had seizures or attempted suicide, many felt unable to control their own thoughts. It was only later that they recalled how Polybius was serviced more often than other games. Men in black suits opened the machine every week, recorded its data, and left, with no interest in its coins. Soon after it appeared, the mysterious arcade game vanished without warning—taken by the men in black suits, leaving no record of its existence.
That’s the story, at least. This legend is one of the big unsolved mysteries of the gaming world, though most concede that the game never existed. It’s since become an urban legend on gaming and conspiracy websites and the internet horror wiki Creepypasta, and like all good stories, it is kept alive by its fans.
It’s uncertain just how far back the Polybius tale goes, but the earliest known discussion of it is thought to be from 1998, when a mysterious description appeared on the vintage gaming website coinop.org. The current entry for Polybius states that the game “had a very limited release, one or two backwater arcades in a suburb of Portland,” and according to rumors it was “developed by some kind of weird military tech offshoot group” and “used some kind of proprietary behavior modification algorithms developed for the CIA.”
The 1998 post was shared with others in 2000 on a precursor to internet forums called Usenet, and seemingly sparked further lore about the game; by 2003 it appeared in a list of urban legends in GamePro magazine. In coinop.org’s comment section in 2006, someone by the name of Steven Roach added to the story: it was created by a company he and a few other naive programmers began, called Sinneslöschen, he explained. They were hired by a separate “South American company” to do the work, he claimed; they were merely in over their heads with their advanced, accidentally dangerous graphics.
The possible title shot from Polybius, as featured on the website coinop.org. (Photo: Courtesy coinop.org)
In response, coinop.org amended its entry in 2009 with a rebuttal, saying “Steven Roach is full of himself, and knows nothing about this game.” The response claimed staff was planning to sort it all out by flying to the Ukraine; “Stay tuned.”
As with most legends, the details are evasive. No one even has a copy of the original Polybius game file (which are often found and shared by vintage game lovers), so no one can agree on what the game was actually like: was it a puzzle game, or a shooter game? What kind of graphics did it use?
Polybius, or at least the simulations fans have made of the legendary game, was disorienting and confusing. In it colorful geometric shapes bend and fold from a center portal like some sort of digital acid trip. If you’re prone to seizures, the simulation may actually trigger them. According to legend, the intense combination of vector and raster graphics in Polybius—which was supposed to be impossible, at least back in 1981—made the mind susceptible to subliminal messages from the U.S. government.
While details about the game are ambiguous, its story has roots in truth. Just a few decades before Polybius supposedly terrorized Oregon gamers, the government really was secretly testing unwitting subjects. MKUltra, an unethical government-led experimental program of the 1950s involving LSD, was uncoveredin 1975 by the Church Committee of U.S. Congress and an investigation of the CIA, whose predecessor controlled the program.
Many of MKUltra’s subjects did not know they were part of the tests—all designed to explore brainwashing and confession techniques. Despite an attempted cover up, a cache of 20,000 documents were revealed in 1977, and more information was declassified in 2001—showing over 185 researchers and 80 institutions participating in experiments with mind control, resulting in terrible effects on the research subjects.
Reports of injuries from video games actually happened too, though from entirely different (and real) arcade games. A newspaper from the Portland area at the time reports that a 12-year-old boy named Brian Mauro got sick after drinking coca-cola and playing Asteroids for 28 hours (an arcade representative said they were “massaging his hands” to keep the kid going.) Another boy at the same arcade on the same day experienced a seizure from Atari’s game Tempest—a puzzle game with fast-paced, disorienting graphics that Polybius is frequently compared to.
Even the government-video game connection is real; the army and the marines have and still use video games to train soldiers. What’s more, shady arcade owners sometimes dabbled in illegal gambling, so the FBI may have actually been walking around arcades and checking machines for evidence.
Combine all of that with the existence of the short-lived 1985 game Polly Play, an eight-game arcade cabinet that was recalled (possibly, according to Skeptoid, for copyright concerns), and you have a pretty solid foundation for a massive urban legend. The name Polybius could have been a misconstrued version of Polly Play, or an intentional reference to the cyphering system of a Greek historian named Polybius, born around 200 BCE.
Polybius itself may not exist, but that hasn’t stopped its story from capturing the imaginations of gamers, writers and artists. The Last Starfighter, a 1984 movie in which a man in black recruits a teen for his epic video game skills, might have been influenced by (or influenced) the legend. A 2006 Simpsons episode called “Please Homer, Don’t Hammer ‘Em” shows Bart next to a Polybius cabinet, with “Property of the U.S. Government” stamped on the front.
A series called Doomsday Arcade by Escapist Magazine is based on it. Blister Declassified, a three-part series that was supposedly focused on Polybius was canceled before the third installment could be released. There’s even a T-shirt, and in 2015 a Kickstarter campaign for a Polybiusdocumentary was in the works, but it unfortunately didn’t get the necessary funding.
Polybius never seems to completely go away. Some online members of the Vintage Arcade Preservation Society claim to own it; one lists the serial number as “666”. Photos of unknown origin of its screen and cabinet bounce around the internet as “proof” that it exists, and every now and then a supposed sighting of the cabinet shows up.
A bar in Brooklyn called Barcade created a Polybius cabinet for Halloween in 2012, and it was so convincing that an Instagram post of it attracted believers and instigators; user broyomofowrote a comment saying: “…please tell me that you didn’t activate that machine and it was simply a gag decoration for some sort of party,” and added that they’d played the original game, suffered a seizure, and “became addicted to the point that I kept playing and, for reasons I can’t remember, I attempted to commit suicide.”
A few days ago, a Craigslist ad in Los Angeles advertised a Polybius cabinet for sale—this time, though, the culprit was a prop house for Sony Pictures, which made the cabinets for a movie that was never made. The cabinet has an engraved plaque labeling it “Property of the U.S. Government.” In an email, Andreas Kratky, who is listing the prop, told me that the “Polybiusmachine was dressed up to resemble all aspects of the myth….They clearly took care to satisfy the nerdism of the gamer community regarding the myth of the game.”
Since posting, the listing has gotten multiple emails commenting on its worth and rarity. “The post has become something like a crystallization point for the imaginations about the game,” Kratky adds.
While many believe it to be an urban legend or hoax, the story of Polybus still has people searching for the one thing that keeps it just out of arm’s reach from fact: hard evidence. It is likely they’ll keep looking for years to come.
Archaeologists and other scientists have been scratching their heads trying to figure out how remarkable ancient Peruvian structures like Sacsayhuamán were constructed.
This marvelous structure consists of gigantic stones so heavy that our modern machinery can hardly move and put in place.
Does the key to the puzzle lie in a certain very specific plant that gave the ancient Peruvians possibility to soften stone or is the answer to the mystery access to advanced ancient technology that could melt stone?
According to researchers Jan Peter de Jong , Christopher Jordan Jesus Gamarra, the granite walls in Cuzco show evidence of being heated to a very high degree and vitrified- the outside surface becoming glassy and very smooth.
Based on this observation, Jong, Jordan and Gamarra draw the conclusion that “some sort of high tech device was used to melt stone blocks which were then placed and allowed to cool next to hard, jigsaw-polygonal blocks that were already in place.
Researchers Jong and Jordan propose that several ancient civilizations world-wide were familiar with the high-tech melting of stone technology. They also say that “the stones on some of the ancient streets in Cuzco have been vitrified by some high temperature to give them their characteristic glassy texture. Read more
The Hypogeum of Hal-Saflieni inMalta has special significance due to its remarkable acoustic properties. The Hypogeum of Hal-Saflieni is an underground cave system covering around 500m² on 3 levels, with various inter-connecting corridors and passageways that lead to a number of small chambers, built between 3000-2500BC. The cave system was re-discovered in 1902 and since then there has been particular interest in one of the rooms, named the “Oracle Chamber”. With its ceilings intact, the underground structure holds secrets of a strange play of sound in the stone rooms and halls; a “forgotten” technology which operates on the human emotional sphere. The space is said to amplify voices dramatically, with certain frequencies resonating enough to be felt through the body.
The Hal Saflieni hypogeum has a dark history. Researchers have discovered the hypogeum of Hal Saflieni contained the bodies of over 7,000 people, a ‘speaking chamber’, trilithons, lintelled-doorways, a large cistern and a ‘holy of holies’ surrounded by ’embryonic’ chambers. What experiments were conducted in this bizarre and mysterious place? Read more
This amazing artifact clearly shows that our ancestors were far ahead of their time. In fact they were so advanced that they may even have been inventors of what we today call nanotechnology.
This extraordinary cup is the only surviving complete example made from dichroic glass, which changes colour when held up to the light. When light is shone through the body of the cup it turns from opaque green to a glowing translucent red. The glass contains tiny amounts of colloidal gold and silver, which give it these unusual optical properties. Read more
Another good example revealing our ancestors were familiar with nanotechnology are the strange microscopically small nanospirals within material that had to be at least 100,000 years old have been detected in several places, during a routine investigation of mineral deposits in the Ural Mountains in 1992.
The origin of these extraordinary but strange artifacts that the human eye can barely see – is still not explained. Read more
A small, undecorated artifact with rather plain appearance, is believed by some scientists to be an example of a prehistoric, electrical power source. It’s the so-called Baghdad Battery, also known as the Parthian Battery.
The artifact – thought to be a 2,000-year-old electric battery – was found in 1936 by railroad workers in the area of Tel Khujut Rabu, south of Baghdad.
Most sources date the batteries to around 200 BC, but the first known electric battery – the Voltaic pile – was not invented by Italian physicist Alessandro Volta until 1799.
The bottoms of these mysterious cylinders were capped with copper discs and sealed with bitumen or asphalt. Another insulating layer of bitumen sealed the tops of the pots and held in place iron rods suspended into the center of the copper cylinders.
The rods showed a strong evidence of having been corroded by an acid solution that evaporated long ago. Read more
The Antediluvians had technologies that matched our own; there are also serious indications that in certain areas they even possessed extraordinary knowledge, which has only hardly been nudged by our present-day science.
Highly advanced hardening techniques of the ancients as well as ancient castings of large pieces were widespread in antiquity. Our ancestors were in possession of an extremely sophisticated scientific knowledge of metalworking from an earlier civilization and evidence of this knowledge was found in different parts of the world.
China with a long history in metallurgy, was the earliest civilization that manufactured cast iron and some of the ancient Chinese feats of casting iron are so impressive as to be almost unbelievable.
Ancient Indians, for example, produced iron capable of withstanding corrosion, most likely due to the high phosphorus content of the iron produced during those times.
A column of cast iron 23 feet (7 meters) high, weighing approximately 6 tons with diameter of 16.4 inches stands in the courtyard of Kutb Minar in Delhi, India.
An inscription in the Sanskrit language informs that the column was originally erected in the temple of Muttra and capped with Garuda – “Messenger of the Gods” – an image of the bird incarnation of the god Vishnu, the Indian god known as “The Preserver”. Read more
This incredible technology was widespread in antiquity and evidence of it can be found in all corners of the world. Prehistoric builders used stones, the toughest surfacing material found on Earth to create perfectly round holes.
This impressive cutting-holes-in-stone technique reveals our ancestors were familiar with an extremely advanced technology we have long been unable to use.
Large-sized holes found in ancient stone demanded engineering skills and proper cutting equipment. Read more
The Norse sagas mention a mysterious “sunstone” – a magical stone which showed sailors road when the sun disappeared.
Now researchers say the stone is real and it’s a special crystal. One of the reasons why the existences of sunstones have long been disputed is because they are contained in the saga of Saint Olaf, a tale with many magical elements.
However, this has changed and now. Sunstones can no longer be considered just a myth. Archaeologists have discovered a special crystal that suggests legendary Viking sunstones did exists in reality. Read more
Ancients were in possession of very sophisticated knowledge. Ancient gold and silversmiths used mercury, which was produced more than 8,000 years ago in Turkey. Mercury was used for gilding (domes, interiors of cathedrals, religious figures and more) in many parts of the ancient world.
Many of the ancients’ techniques are still unknown. They were so skilled that some of the quality they achieved has still not been matched.
In ancient times, these sophisticated methods were used to produce and decorate different types of artefacts, such as jewels, statues, amulets, and commonly-used objects. Gilders performed these processes not only to decorate objects but also to simulate the appearance of gold or silver, sometimes fraudulently. From a technological point of view, the aim of these workmen over 2000 years ago was to make the precious metal coatings as thin and adherent as possible. This was in order to save expensive metals and to improve the resistance to the wear caused by continued use and circulation.
Recent findings confirm the high level of competence reached by the ancient artists and craftsmen and stresses an artistic quality of the objects they produced could not be bettered in ancient times and has not yet been reached in modern ones. Read more
In 1900, an amazing encrusted bronze object of undetermined use was found on the small island of Antikythera, 25 miles northwest of Crete. One of the curious scientists decided to clean it and found that it was a complex instrument with cog-wheels fitting one into another.
Finely graduated circles and inscriptions marked on the instrument in ancient Greek were apparently related to its function. Based on the cargo, it was dated to about the 1st century BC.
It seemed to be a sort of astronomical clock without pendulum but no Greek or Roman writer has ever described such an ancient computer, though many other wonders of antiquity are mentioned. Read more
In what could be an enormously significant finding for Buddhists around the world, archaeologists in China have unearthed an ancient ceramic box containing cremated human remains, which carries an inscription saying they belong to Buddha, also known as Siddhārtha Gautama.
Siddhartha Gautama, also known as the Buddha or “Enlightened One,” is probably one of the most influential individuals to come out of India through the founding of Buddhism. He is believed to have lived and taught mostly in the eastern part of ancient India sometime between the 6th and 4th centuries BC. According to the Mahaparinibbana Sutta of the Pali canon, at the age of 80, the Buddha announced that he would soon reach Parinirvana, or the final deathless state, and abandon his earthly body.
After his death, Buddha’s cremation relics are said to have been divided amongst 8 royal families and his disciples. Legends say that, centuries later, they were enshrined by King Ashoka into 84,000 stupas. Many of the remains were supposedly taken to other countries.
The Death of the Buddha, a hanging scroll painting at the British Museum. Credit: Trustees of the British Museum
Gathering of the Buddha
Around 1,000 years ago, two monks named Yunjiang and Zhiming, spent two decades gathering together the remains of the Buddha, which had been distributed around India and other countries.
Live Science reports that the newly-discovered box, which was unearthed in Jingchuan County, China, came with an inscription dated to June 22, 1013. It states
The monks Yunjiang and Zhiming of the Lotus School, who belonged to the Mañjuśrī Temple of the Longxing Monastery in Jingzhou Prefecture, gathered more than 2,000 pieces of śarīra [cremated remains of the Buddha], as well as the Buddha’s teeth and bones, and buried them in the Mañjuśrī Hall of this temple.
In order to promote Buddhism, they wanted to collect śarīra [Buddhist relics]. To reach this goal, both of them practiced the instruction of Buddhism during every moment of their lives for more than 20 years. Sometimes they received the śarīra from others’ donations; sometimes they found them by chance; sometimes they bought them from other places; and sometimes others gave them the śarīra to demonstrate their wholeheartedness.”
The ceramic box containing human remains believed to belong to Buddha.Credit: Chinese Cultural Relics
According to Live Science, archaeologists identified cremated human remains inside the ancient ceramic box, and while it is impossible to say with certainty whether they are indeed the remains of Siddhārtha Gautama, the 1,000-year-old inscription certainly suggests this is the case.
The discovery was first made back in December 2012 while a group of villagers were repairing roads. After years of archaeological excavations at the site, the historically significant finding was reported in Chinese in 2016. Now, the discovery has reached the English-speaking world for the first time in the journal Chinese Cultural Relics.
Throughout my early years of schooling, I just assumed that everything I read in textbooks was true. As I grew older and began to question what I’d been spoon fed for so many years, I grew to be inquisitive. It was at that point when I realized that I couldn’t just take everything at face value.
Historians are people, too. They make mistakes. And it’s no secret that any story passed between human beings runs the risk of alteration. Like a never-ending game of telephone, the relaying of so-called facts often becomes a jumbled mess of misinformation. To help set the record straight, here are SOME widely accepted historical myths that simply aren’t true.
Betsy Ross has long been associated with having crafted the first version of the American flag after being asked by the Continental Congress to do so. Unfortunately, there is no historical evidence that Congress ever formed a committee to create a flag in 1776, and she herself never claimed to sew it. Her grandson was the first to comment on his grandmother’s involvement in the situation.
While Edison may have created the first lightbulb that achieved commercial success, the very first lightbulb was not Edison’s brainchild. English scientist Sir Humphry Davy created the first arc lighting almost 40 years before Edison’s bulb came to be.
Jean Jacques Rousseau wrote about a royal who uttered the famous phrase, “Then let them eat cake.” It has been widely assumed that the woman mentioned was Marie Antoinette. Unfortunately, the dates just don’t add up. Antoinette was only 11 years old when Rousseau wrote about the incident. The French Revolution also came almost 23 years after the story was published.
King Arthur was first mentioned in a historical context in a collection of stories published by Welsh historian Nennius. These stories are based on poetry and are set in a variety of locations, making it impossible for one man to have been present at every event and battle. There is also no mention of him in the only contemporary document recounting the Saxon Invasion.
The only mention of Paul Revere taking his infamous midnight ride is taken from the poem “Paul Revere’s Ride” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. The poem was written over 80 years after the event supposedly took place and it is expected that since Longfellow was a poet and not a historian, some liberties were taken for the sake of art.
Napoleon Bonaparte actually towered over most Frenchmen of his time with a reported height of 5 feet and 7 inches. The misconception about his height stems from a nickname given to the former ruler of France during his early military days when he was a low-ranking official. He was often called the Little Corporal.
Gladiators were considered deadly warriors in ancient Rome, but not every fight resulted in a trip to the grave. A recent discovery of a gravestone led to the recovery of many gladiator corpses. These remains did show signs of battle, but they also showed serious signs of healing, leaving us to infer that their deaths weren’t related to their fights in the Colosseum. According to the History Channel, “Gladiatorial bouts simply had to have a decisive outcome, meaning that one of the contestants was wounded or his endurance gave out.”
This artist is famous for his supposed dismemberment. While he may have only sold one painting during his lifetime, recent reports argue that Vincent van Gogh did not cut off his entire ear, but rather a portion of the lower lobe.
Those accused of being witches in Salem were burned at the stake.
Forget everything you thought you knew about vikings. While these barbaric men and women likely wore helmets in battle, there’s absolutely no evidence that they were of the horned variety. This idea took hold in the 1800s when Scandinavian artists portrayed vikings in such a way.
I’m never trusting another history textbook again.
Various historians have concluded that Einstein’s first wife, Mileva, may have secretly contributed to his work. Now a new analysis seeks to settle the matter.
In the the late 1980s, the American physicist Evan Walker Harris published an article in Physics Today suggesting that Einstein first wife, Mileva Maric, was an unacknowledged coauthor of his 1905 paper on special relativity.
The idea generated considerable controversy at the time, although most physicists and historians of science have rejected it.
Today, Galina Weinstein, a visiting scholar at The Centre for Einstein Studies at Boston University, hopes to settle the matter with a new analysis.
The story begins after Einstein’s death in 1955, when the Soviet physicist Abram Fedorovich Joffe described some correspondence he had with Einstein early in their careers in a article published in Russian.
Joffe had asked Einstein for a preprints of some of his papers and wrote: “The author of these articles—an unknown person at that time, was a bureaucrat at the Patent Office in Bern, Einstein-Marity (Marity the maiden name of his wife, which by Swiss custom is added to the husband’s family name).” (Marity is a Hungarian variant of Maric.)
The conspiracy theories date from this reference to Einstein as Einstein-Marity, says Weinstein. The result was an increasingly complex tangle of deliberate or accidental misunderstandings.
The problem seems to have begun with a popular Russian science writer called Daniil Semenvich Danin, who interpreted Joffe’s account to mean that Einstein and Maric collaborated on the work. This later transformed into the notion that Maric had originally been a coauthor on the 1905 paper but her name was removed from the the final published version.
This is a clear misinterpretation, suggests Weinstein.
Walker reignited this controversy in his Physics Todayarticle. He suggests that Einstein may have stolen his wife’s ideas.
There’s another interesting line for the conspiracy theorists. Historians have translated the letters between Einstein and Maric into English, allowing a detailed analysis of their relationship. However, one of these letters includes the phrase: “bringing our work on relative motion to a successful conclusion!” This seems to back up the idea that the pair must have collaborated.
However, Weinstein has analysed the letters in detail and says that two lines of evidence suggest that this was unlikely. First, Einstein’s letters are full of his ideas about physics while Maric’s contain none, suggesting that he was using her as a sounding board rather than a collaborator.
Second, Maric was not a talented physicist or mathematician. She failed her final examinations and was never granted a diploma.
Weinstein argues that Maric could therefore not have made a significant contribution and quotes another historian on the topic saying that while there is no evidence that Maric was gifted mathematically, there is some evidence that she was not.
There is one fly in the ointment. Maric and Einstein divorced in 1919, but as part of the divorce settlement, Einstein agreed to pay his ex-wife every krona of any future Nobel Prize he might be awarded.
Weinstein suggests that everybody knew Einstein was in line to win the prize and that in the postwar environment in Germany, this was a natural request from a wife who did not want a divorce and was suffering from depression.
Walker, on the other hand, says: “I find it difficult to resist the conclusion that Mileva, justly or unjustly, saw this as her reward for the part she had played in developing the theory of relativity.”
Without more evidence, it’s hard to know one way or the other. But there’s surely enough uncertainty about what actually happened to keep the flames of conspiracy burning for a little while longer.