Feb 26, 2018


The strange power of the 'evil eye'

When it comes to warding off the mystic malevolent forces of the world, there is perhaps no charm more recognised or renowned than the ‘evil eye’. Ubiquitous in its use, the striking image of the cobalt-blue eye has appeared not only in the bazaars of Istanbul, but everywhere from the sides of planes to the pages of comic books.

In the last decade, evil eye imagery has most frequently appeared in the world of fashion. Kim Kardashian has been photographed on numerous occasions sporting bracelets and headpieces featuring the symbol, while fashion model Gigi Hadid jumped on the trend in late 2017, announcing that she would be launching the EyeLove shoe line.

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To understand the origins of the evil eye, one must first understand the distinction between the amulet and the evil eye itself. Though often dubbed as ‘the evil eye’, the ocular amulet is actually the charm meant to ward off the true evil eye: a curse transmitted through a malicious glare, usually one inspired by envy. Though the amulet – often referred to as a nazar – has existed in various permutations for thousands of years, the curse which it repels is far older and more difficult to trace.

UK's first haunted antiques paranormal research centre is set to open in Hinckley

A paranormal research centre for investigating haunted antiques is set to open in Hinckley next month - and it's thought to be the only one of its kind in the UK.

The Haunted Antiques Paranormal Research Centre is being opened by local paranormal investigator Neil Packer, who plans to conduct a number of different types of research via live feeds, as well as open it up to the general public at weekends.

Having been investigating for many years, Neil began collecting objects - mainly from antique centres - just over a year ago. He researches the objects to see if they can be haunted or hold attachments.

Having amassed a collection of more than 50 objects, he's decided it's time to relocate the items from his home to larger premises - so he can expand the collection further, and enable members of the public to be able to visit.

Pope revives lapsed sex abuse commission amid skepticism

Pope Francis revived his lapsed sex abuse advisory commission by naming new members Saturday, after coming under fire for his overall handling of the scandal and his support for a Chilean bishop accused by victims of witnessing and ignoring their abuse.

The announcement of the new members of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors came on the same day that a Vatican investigator will take the testimony in New York of one of the main whistleblowers in the Chilean cover-up scandal.

Francis tasked Archbishop Charles Scicluna with the fact-finding mission into Bishop Juan Barros after he came under blistering criticism in Chile for defending Barros and calling the victims' cover-up accusations against him slander.

The initial three-year mandate of commission members had lapsed two months ago, on Dec. 17. Francis named nine new members Saturday and kept seven from the initial group. A Vatican statement said survivors of abuse are included, but didn't identify them to protect their privacy.

LIFE AFTER DEATH: ‘NO HEAVEN just infinite sadness, blackness and the knowledge I’m dead’

Far from being transported to paradise or sitting at the right hand of God they report nothing but despair, horror, anger and infinite loneliness.

Reports of the afterlife are not uncommon from either patients who have stopped breathing on the operating table or those who find themselves slipping away after a serious road crash - before being brought back from the brink of death by medics.

But few reports of the afterlife can have been so comprehensively terrifying.

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A chilling emptiness seems to be a recurring theme around many who have temporarily passed away, with is seeming that there is no actual afterlife.

Why You (Probably) Shouldn't Worry About Earth's Magnetic Poles Flipping

Magnetic north and south poles have swapped places hundreds of times in Earth's history, about every several hundred thousand years or so, scientists have found. The last one happened about 780,000 years ago. [7 Ways the Earth Changes in the Blink of an Eye]

In fact, there are signs of reversal right now. The magnetic field has been weakening at a faster clip, about 10 times faster than in the past, according to data from magnetometers on board the Swarm satellites (three satellites moving in tandem). This may or may not suggest the movement of the magnetic poles, scientists said.

"What currently has geophysicists like us abuzz is the realization that the strength of Earth's magnetic field has been decreasing for the last 160 years at an alarming rate," John Tarduno and Vincent Hare, of the University of Rochester, wrote in a The Conversation article last year.

"This collapse is centered in a huge expanse of the Southern Hemisphere, extending from Zimbabwe to Chile, known as the South Atlantic Anomaly. The magnetic field strength is so weak there that it's a hazard for satellites that orbit above the region — the field no longer protects them from radiation which interferes with satellite electronics."

For this robot, the secret to crawling is artificial snakeskin

The world is getting flooded with tiny (creepy) robots that can crawl all over the place, including your clothes. The latest one, created by scientists at Harvard University, uses artificial scaly skins to move forward — kind of like a snake.

The soft robot is just a silicone rubber tube. But what’s special about it is its skin — a thin, stretchable plastic sheet that’s been cut with a laser. The cuts, in the shape of triangles or circles, resemble the scales on the skin of snakes. When air is pumped into the tube, the robot expands and contracts, allowing the scales to pop up, anchor against the surface, and pull the robot forward. In a study published today in Science Robotics, scientists showed that the artificial snakeskins work against rough surfaces like asphalt and concrete. In the future, these robots could be scaled down and used to deliver drugs inside arteries, or in disaster situations where bots need to crawl inside narrow spaces.

Nature has inspired all kinds of robots before. Octopi have served as squishy muses many times, either because of their amazing camouflage or their wiggly shapes. Plants and salamanders have also played their part. The inspiration for today’s bots comes from snakes, which use scales on their skin to propel themselves. To mimic the snakeskin, Ahmad Rafsanjani, a postdoctoral researcher at Harvard University, resorted to the Japanese art of paper cutting, called kirigami. He used lasers to make cuts in thin plastic sheets in the shape of lines, triangles, circles, or trapezoids. The skins were then wrapped around silicone rubber tubes powered by air. (The air was either pumped through tubes, or thanks to a small control unit with onboard pump, battery, and sensors.)

Transferring Your Consciousness Into This Terrifying Robot Head Might Make You Less Scared Of Dying

As it turns out, it doesn’t take long for your consciousness to abandon your physical body and inhabit another one. It’s called a full body ownership illusion, and Slater says he and others are seeing that “this ownership of a virtual body is pretty strong, and it happens pretty fast.”

It's a neat trick, but it goes well beyond just that . Slater is finding that what happens to your virtual body could have effects on the real you afterwards. He’s shown that when white people inhabit a black virtual body, their implicit bias scores—which measure unconscious preferences of race—go down. He’s taken adults and put them in the virtual body of a four-year-old. After, people identify themselves as more childlike, and think the world around them looks larger. He’s put men into women’s bodies, and turned people into their own virtual therapists (and if they embodied a Sigmund Freud lookalike, they had better results).

But what if “you” started to rise up out of the virtual body—if, suddenly, you’re departing the body you so recently became attached to, and hovering somewhere up near the ceiling, looking down at it? In his recent work, Slater uses this exact experience to probe a new question: Can VR reduce the fear of death?

Photographer visits lost Mongolian tribe, captures stunning photos of their life and culture

Human civilization has come a long way since the early days of our species. Rising out of caves and undeveloped lands, humans have built cities and homes that the early generations could never have imagined.

The widespread growth of globalization has made it harder for historic cultures to be preserved. This is what makes the Dukha people of Mongolia so fascinating and amazing. The nomadic tribe has lived in the same region for centuries. During that time, they developed a special relationship with the wild animals. In fact, this relationship is so amazing it will leave you in awe.

Fortunately for us, photographer Hamid Sardar-Afkhami recently visited this lost tribe and documented what he saw through a series of stunning photographs.

Through their unique culture, the Dukha people have developed a unique relationship with neighboring reindeer. They use them as means of transportation over the treacherous terrain they call home.

What Gave Humans the Edge Over Neanderthals? It Was Art, a New Study Claims

A new study suggests that prehistoric humans evolved to become the world’s dominant species, in part, because they created art. The hand-eye coordination and visualization skills developed by creating prehistoric cave drawings helped Homo sapiens master essential hunting skills, the study suggests, giving humans an advantage over their artless cousins, the Neanderthals.

The paper was written by psychologist Richard Cross of the University of California-Davis, an expert on art and human evolution, and a former drawing instructor. It was published in the Evolutionary Studies in Imaginative Culture journal.

In the paper, Cross maintains that there is “a causal relationship between the evolved ability of anatomically modern human to throw spears accurately while hunting and their ability to draw representational images.”

The researcher argues that while Neanderthals used thrusting spears to hunt tamer prey in Eurasia, Homo sapiens were spear hunting much more dangerous and alert prey in Africa. As a result, he postulates that Homo sapiens developed a larger parietal cortex—the region of the brain that controls visual imagery and motor coordination.

Neanderthals – not modern humans – were first artists on Earth, experts claim

More than 65,000 years ago, a Neanderthal reached out and made strokes in red ochre on the wall of a cave, and in doing so, became the first known artist on Earth, scientists claim.

The discovery overturns the widely-held belief that modern humans are the only species to have expressed themselves through works of art.

In caves separated by hundreds of miles, Neanderthals daubed, drew and spat paint on walls producing artworks, the researchers say, tens of thousands of years before modern humans reached the sites.

The finding, described as a “major breakthrough in the field of human evolution” by an expert who was not involved in the research, makes the case for a radical retelling of the human story, in which the behaviour of modern humans differs from the Neanderthals by the narrowest of margins.

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