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Gaëtan Dugas - AIDS Patient Zero

Gaëtan Dugas (February 20, 1953 – March 30, 1984) was a French Canadian who worked for Air Canada as a flight attendant.

A study published in the American Journal of Medicine in 1984 traced many of New York City's early HIV infections to an unnamed infected homosexual male flight attendant. Epidemiologists hypothesized that Dugas had carried the virus out of Africa and introduced it into the Western gay community.

Dugas is described as being a charming, handsome sexual athlete who, according to his own estimation, averaged hundreds of sex partners a year. He claims to have had over 2,500 sexual partners across North America since becoming sexually active in 1972.

Arbre du Ténéré

The Tree of Ténéré was the last of a group of trees that grew when the desert was less parched than it is today. The tree had stood alone for decades. During the winter of 1938–1939 a well was dug near the tree and it was found that the roots of the tree reached the water table 33–36 meters (108 to 118 feet) below the surface.

It was a landmark on caravan routes through the Ténéré region of the Sahara in northeast Niger — so well known that it and the Arbre Perdu or ‘Lost Tree’ to the north are the only trees to be shown on a map at a scale of 1:4,000,000.

The Tree of Ténéré was knocked down by an allegedly drunk Libyan truck driver in 1973.

Branwell Brontë

Branwell Brontë drew this while on his deathbed.

"All my life I have done nothing either great or good."

Catatumbo lightning

The Catatumbo Lightning (Spanish Relámpago del Catatumbo) is an atmospheric phenomenon in Venezuela. It occurs strictly in an area located over the mouth of the Catatumbo River where it empties into Lake Maracaibo. The frequent, powerful flashes of lightning over this relatively small area are considered to be the world’s largest single generator of tropospheric ozonewhich refers to ozone that does not replenish the stratospheric ozone layer.

It originates from a mass of storm clouds that create a voltaic arc at more than 5 km of height, during 140 to 160 nights a year, 10 hours per day and up to 280 times per hour. It occurs over and around Lake Maracaibo, typically over the bog area formed where the Catatumbo River flows into the lake.

The Great Potato Famine

In Ireland, the Great Famine was a period of mass starvation, disease and emigration between 1845 and 1852. It is also known, mostly outside Ireland, as the Irish Potato Famine.

During the famine approximately 1 million people died (!!) and a million more emigrated from Ireland,causing the island’s population to fall by between 20% and 25%.The proximate cause of famine was a potato disease commonly known as potato blight

In 1847, midway through the Great Irish Famine (1845–1849), a group of Native American Choctaws collected $710 (although many articles say the original amount was $170 after a misprint in Angie Debo's The Rise and Fall of the Choctaw Republic) and sent it to help starving Irish men, women and children. “It had been just 16 years since the Choctaw people had experienced the Trail of Tears, and they had faced starvation… It was an amazing gesture.”

Krakatoa

On August 27 a series of four huge explosions almost entirely destroyed the island. The explosions were so violent that they were heard 3,500 km (2,200 mi) away in Perth, Western Australia and the island of Rodrigues near Mauritius, 4,800 km (3,000 mi) away. The pressure wave from the final explosion was recorded on barographs around the world, which continued to register it up to 5 days after the explosion. The recordings show that the shock wave from the final explosion reverberated around the globe seven times. Ash was propelled to a height of 80 km (50 mi). The sound of the eruption was so loud it was said that if anyone was within ten miles (16 km), they would go deaf.

The combined effects of pyroclastic flows, volcanic ashes, and tsunamis had disastrous results in the region. The death toll recorded by the Dutch authorities was 36,417, although some sources put the estimate at more than 120,000. There are numerous documented reports of groups of human skeletons floating across the Indian Ocean on rafts of volcanic pumice and washing up on the east coast of Africa up to a year after the eruption.

From a biological perspective, the Krakatau problem refers to the question of whether the islands were completely sterilized by the 1883 eruption or whether some life survived. When the first researchers reached the islands in May 1884, the only living thing they found was a spider in a crevice on the south side of Rakata.

Caput mortuum: The extinct color.

Also known as Mummy Brown.

Mummy brown was originally made in the 16th and 17th centuries from white pitch, myrrh, and the ground-up remains of Egyptian mummies, both human and feline, one London colourman claiming that he could satisfy the demands of his customers for twenty years from one Egyptian mummy. It fell from popularity in the early 19th century when its composition became generally known to artists. It was also considered extremely variable in its composition and quality, and since it contained ammonia and particles of fat, was likely to affect other colours with which it was used.

Mummy brown was produced up into the 20th century until the supply of available mummies was exhausted.

The Secret Recipe: Greek Fire

Greek Fire was the secret weapon of the Eastern Roman Emperors. It is said to have been invented by a Syrian Engineer, one Callinicus, a refugee from Maalbek, in the seventh century (673 AD). The “liquid fire” was hurled on to the ships of their enemies from siphons and burst into flames on contact. As it was reputed to be inextinguishable and burned even on water, it caused panic and dread. Its introduction into warfare of its time was comparable in its demoralizing influence to the introduction of nuclear weapons in our time. Both Arab and Greek sources agree that it surpassed all incendiary weapons in destruction. The secret behind the Greek fire was handed down from one emperor to the next for centuries. Rumors about its composition include such chemicals as liquid petroleum, naphtha, burning pitch, sulfur, resin, quicklime and bitumen, along with some other “secret ingredient”. The exact composition, however, remains unknown.

The Crown Jewels of Ireland

The jewels – emeralds, rubies and diamonds presented to the Irish nation by William IV in the 19th century, were kept in a safe in Dublin Castle’s Bedford Tower. They were in the care of Sir Arthur Vicars, the Ulster King of Arms, his nephew Pierce Mahoney, and two assistants. On June the 28th, 1907, Vicars reported that his key to the tower’s main door had vanished. Five days later, the cleaner, Mrs Farrell, found the main door unlocked when she arrived for work. Then finally, on July 6th, she noticed something even more strange: the door to the strongroom where the jewels were kept, had been left open overnight. That afternoon, a castle porter named Stivey entered Vicar’s room while Vicars and Mahoney were examining the gold and enamelled collar of the Order of St Patrick. Vicars gave the porter a safe key and ordered him to put the collar with the rest of the jewels. A few minutes later, Stivey returned with the alarming news that the safe was already open. Vicars made a swift inspection and cried, ‘My God, the jewels are gone!’

Police never caught the thief. Within a month of the crime, Scotland Yard detectives had produced a report with the name of their prime suspect. However, this report was suppressed, and the Chief Inspector recalled. Later during that year Edward VII demanded that all four men resposible for guard the jewels, step down. 14 years later, Vicars was found dead in the garden of his home in County Kerry. The body was riddled with bullets and a label was found that read: ‘IRA Never Forgets’. But the Irish Republican Army insisted that it was not involved. Regardless, most people in Ireland believed Vicars to be an innocent man who had been badly treated by the British Government. No trace of the Irish Crown Jewels has ever been found.

The Quagga

It was distinguished from other zebras by having the usual vivid marks on the front part of the body only. In the mid-section, the stripes faded and the dark, inter-stripe spaces became wider, and the rear parts were a plain brown.  It’s flesh is said to have been welcome food for the farm labourers, while the skin was used as “grainbags” and “leather”. Great numbers of raw animal hides were exported during the 19th century for the leather industry. South Africa was known as a “hunters paradise”, this was the beginning of the end for the Quagga.

There are only five known photos of a living Quagga, taken in 1870. The last known living Quagga died August 12, 1883 in the Amsterdam zoo.

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