Tag Archives: Atlantic Ocean

Why Do Some People Only Have Bad Luck?

by Patrick J. Kiger via Discovery News

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Unlucky? Or just bad parking skills? The scene in 1933 after a car had run away, driverless, rolled 50 feet down a hillside to a retaining wall and became jammed against a two-story brick home in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

There’s Violet Jessop, who worked as a stewardess on the maiden voyage of the Titanic in 1912, and managed to survive the giant liner’s collision in the North Atlantic with an iceberg — only to take a job as a nurse on the Britannic, which sank in 1916 in the Aegean Sea.

And more recently, there’s the bizarre story of English tourists Jason and Jenny Cairns-Lawrence, who were visiting New York City when Al Qaeda hijackers crashed two planes into the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, and happened to be in London when the city’s public transportation system was attacked by terrorists in July 2005, and traveled to Mumbai, India in November 2008, just in time to witness a third terrorist attack.

Newspaper writers took to calling them “the world’s unluckiest couple.”

The idea that some people are destined to suffer chronic misfortune is so ingrained in our consciousness that there even have been songs written about it — for example, “Born Under a Bad Sign,” the blues classic recorded by Albert King back in 1967, in which the narrator complains that “if it wasn’t for bad luck, I wouldn’t have no luck at all.”

But is there really such a thing as chronic bad luck, and if so, why do some people seem to be plagued by it?

bad luck 910_250pxPsychologists and academic experts in probability and statistics, who’ve studied the phenomenon of bad luck, provide a complicated answer. It is true that in the course of a lifetime, some people have a lot more bad things happen to them than most of us do. But that outcome can be influenced by a variety of factors, including random chance, the actions of other people, and individuals’ own decision-making skills and competence at performing tasks.

But in our minds, it all blends together and forms this thing that we think of as bad luck.

Rami Zwick, a business professor at the University of California-Riverside, points out that the idea of bad luck exists, in part, because most of us don’t have a very good understanding of how the science of probability works.

“There is a difference between individual and aggregate experiences of people in a population,” he explains. If you ask 100 people to flip a coin 100 times, for example, over time, you can expect that the average result for the group will be 50 heads and 50 tails. But within the group, individuals may have more heads than tails, or vice-versa. “If we think of heads as good and tails as bad, a few people will have a sequence of mostly good outcomes, and others will have mostly bad ones.”

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10 Places As Mysterious As The Bermuda Triangle

By Michael Alba via Listverse

Everyone has heard of the Bermuda Triangle and the mysteries that surround it. Theories about this area range from reasonable to just plain ridiculous, but whether you believe it’s the site of time warps, alien abductions, or just plain paranoia, it certainly abounds with strangeness. It’s not the only place you can find creepy things happening, however—here are 10 other places on Earth with their fair share of mysteries:

10 • Superstition Mountains

superstition-mountains_3614_990x742_300pxThe Superstition Mountains are a mountain range located east of Phoenix, Arizona. Already it’s off to a great start with the name.

According to legend, sometime in the 1800s a man named Jacob Waltz discovered a huge goldmine within the mountains that has since been dubbed the Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine (because Waltz was German, and eh, close enough). He kept the location a secret until his deathbed, upon which he may or may not (depending on which version of the story you’re reading) have told a single person the secret. Regardless, the mine has never been found, in spite of many expeditions. Some say the spirits of people who’ve lost their lives in search of the gold still haunt the mountains.

One reportedly Native American legend goes that the treasures of the mountains are guarded by creatures called Tuar-Tums (“Little People”) that live below the mountains in caves and tunnels. Some Apaches believe that the entrance to hell is located in the mountains. This is, of course, ridiculous, as we all know the entrance to hell is in Sunnydale.

9 • South Atlantic Anomaly

200710_saa_300pxDid you ever wonder if there was a Bermuda Triangle in Space? No? Well you’re probably wondering it now, and you’re in luck! Because there totally is, and it’s called the South Atlantic Anomaly. The SAA is the area where the band of radiation known as Earth’s inner Van Allen belt comes closest to the Earth’s surface.

It’s an area centered just a bit off the coast of Brazil, and it’s responsible for numerous problems with satellites and spacecraft, from messing up their programs to actually shutting down their function. The Hubble Telescope is actually turned off from taking observations when passing through the Anomaly, and the International Space Station avoids scheduling spacewalks when passing through it (which happens up to 5 times a day). It’s not just technical problems, either—some astronauts report seeing “shooting stars” in their visual field as they pass through.

The cause of all these problems isn’t fully understood. The main suspect is the high levels of radiation that accumulate at the anomaly, but scientists aren’t sure exactly how or why the effects occur. So let’s just pin this one on aliens.


8 • Lake Anjikuni

Colville-River-Alaska-1901-USGS_300pxNot content with just a few individuals disappearing, Lake Anjikuni decided to take things to the next level and provide the locale for the disappearance of an entire village. It all happened in November 1930, when a trapper named Joe Labelle was looking for shelter for the night. Labelle was familiar with the Inuit village, whose population ranges from 30-2000, depending on who you believe. He made his way there and found quite an eerie scene—the villagers were nowhere to be found. Everything else, including food and rifles, had been left behind.

Labelle telegraphed the RCMP and an investigation began. In the Village Burial Ground it was discovered that at least one (sources vary) grave had been opened, clearly not by animals, and emptied. Furthermore, about 300 feet from the village, the bodies of around 7 sled dogs were found, having starved to death despite open stores of food at the village. Some versions of the story even report strange lights being seen above the lake around the time of the disappearance.

So what really happened? There have been all sorts of claims about the cause for the disappearance, including aliens (of course), ghosts, and even vampires. The RCMP’s own website disregards the story as an urban legend, but with so many versions of it floating around from so many years ago, it’s hard to be certain. Except about the vampires, I think we can be certain it wasn’t vampires.

7 • The Devil’s Sea

u6XdE8YhXv_300pxThe Devil’s Sea (or Dragon’s Triangle, take your pick of which sounds more ominous) is an area of the Pacific Ocean as riddled with strange happenings as its Atlantic counterpart near Bermuda. Located off the coast of Japan, it’s been the site of countless claims of unexplained phenomena including magnetic anomalies, inexplicable lights and objects, and of course, mysterious disappearances. The area is even considered a danger by Japanese fishing authorities.

One story has it that in 1952 the Japanese government sent out a research vessel, the Kaio Maru No. 5, to investigate the mysteries of the Devil’s Sea. Naturally, of course, the Kaio Maru No. 5 and its crew of 31 people were never seen again. Another story tells of Kublai Khan’s disastrous attempts to invade Japan by crossing the Devil’s Sea, losing at least 40 000 men in the process.

The usual theories abound for what’s really going on: from aliens, to gates to parallel universes, even to Atlantis (because why not). Some suggest that high volcanic activity in the region is responsible for some of the disappearances (the Kaio Maru No. 5 may have been caught in an eruption). Our advice? Just stay out of the ocean, period.

6 • Bigelow Ranch

ftduchesne2002-1a_300pxBigelow Ranch (formerly known as Skinwalker Ranch and Sherman Ranch) is a 480-acre property in northwest Utah that is home to countless UFO sightings, animal mutilations, and other strange occurrences. Though mysterious happenings have been documented since the 50’s, some of the most bizarre stories happened to a pair of ranchers named Terry and Gwen Sherman after they bought it in 1994.

The first day they moved on to the property, they saw a large wolf out in the pasture. They even went to pet the wolf as it seemed tame (to the curious reader, yes, this is always a good idea). It was docile with the Shermans, but ended up grabbing a calf by the snout through the bars of its enclosure. When Terry shot at the wolf with a pistol, the bullets had no effect. It finally left after Terry brought out the shotgun, though even that didn’t do any actual damage. The Shermans tried tracking the wolf, but it’s tracks stopped abruptly as if it had vanished.

And that wasn’t the end of things. The Shermans were constantly plagued by such events as UFO sightings, intelligent floating orbs (reputed to have incinerated three of their dogs), inexplicable cryptids, and gruesome cattle mutilations. It got so bad that the Shermans actually sold their ranch to Robert Bigelow in 1996, the founder of the National Institute for Discovery Science, who wanted to study the mysteries surrounding the ranch. Bigelow owns the ranch to this day and NIDS keeps a tight lid on their findings.

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Did the moon doom the Titanic?

«What if the iceberg was just a patsy for a larger, celestial conspiracy?»

via How Stuff Works

titanic_300pxIt’s a tale as old as crime and as cold as the heart of the sea: One dark and moonless night, an innocent young luxury liner wanders into a dangerous North Atlantic alley — a known haunt of iceberg gangs. Heedless of warnings about this dangerous element, the ship hurries onward, possessed of that sense of invulnerability to which the young are prone.

On any other night, the White Star liner might have made it through unscathed, but tonight — April 14, 1912 — the icebergs are out in force, and the infamous, inevitable rendezvous with destiny occurs. The Titanic succumbs to its wounds within hours, leaving around 1,500 people to die in the icy waters on April 15, 1912.

Case closed — or is it? What if the iceberg was just a patsy for a larger, celestial conspiracy? Who — or what — was ultimately to blame for the Titanic’s tragic maiden voyage? Should we blame it on Rio? The rain? The bossa nova? Or was it an act of lunar-cy?

titanic-anniversary-3-that-which-remains1_200pxArmchair sleuths and industry experts have reopened the case countless times. Over the past century, researchers, authors and filmmakers have blamed the incident on everyone from White Star management and Belfast’s Harland and Wolff shipyard to Captain E. J. Smith and helmsman Robert Hitchins. But there’s a difference between proximate (close, direct) cause and ultimate cause. The proximate cause of the Titanic sinking? Filling with too much water. The ultimate cause? An iceberg opening holes in its side.

Ultimate causes tend to chain backward to other causes, and still others, inviting more questions along the way. What forces, for example, brought that iceberg to that particular stretch of sea at that fateful moment?

According to one hypothesis advanced by a team of astronomers from Texas State University-San Marcos, the iceberg might have been the button man, but our celestial companion was the one who ordered the hit. More than that, the moon had accomplices.

Granted, our nearest neighbor has an airtight alibi: It was roughly a quarter of a million miles away at the time. In fact, the Titanic sank on a moonless night. Why was the moon concealing its face? What did it have to hide?

It’s time to crack this coldest of cold cases.

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Looking Back at TWA Flight 800

by Steven Novella via Skepticblog

On July 17, 1996 TWA flight 800 took off from JFK airport on its way to Paris. Fifteen minutes into its flight, shortly after climbing to about 13,000 feet, the jet exploded in mid air. The nose of the jet fell off into the Atlantic while the rest continued to fly, erratically while on fire and spewing smoke, until 42 seconds later when there was a second explosion. The right wing and the rest of the fuselage separated and descended as two separate streams of burning debris until they hit the surface of the water 7 seconds later. All 230 people aboard lost their lives.

Sixteen years later there are still those who believe that TWA flight 800 was shot down by a missile. This is despite the fact that the largest and most expensive investigation in history into the crash of a commercial airliner came to a very different conclusion. I had the opportunity this past week to speak to six different eyewitnesses of this tragedy, some of whom firmly believe a missile took down the jet, while others are unsure. The incident remains a classic historical case demonstrating the fallibility of perception and eyewitness accounts.

Read More: Skepticblog » Looking Back at TWA Flight 800.

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