Occult Chemistry

In 6th century BCE the concept that matter is composed of discrete and not infinitely reducible units developed in India. Around 460 B.C. the Greek Democritus named these fundamental and irreducible bits of matter átomos, meaning “uncuttable.” Notions of this kind were at this point in history, more than anything, matters of pure Philosophy. As such, when the big daddy Aristotle weighed in and rejected the idea as worthless, “the atom” was pretty much stopped in its tracks. It would be a couple thousand years before Science picked up where Philosophy had left off. But before Science made its first excited indirect observations of electrons and protons and managed to put forward a widely acceptable model for the structure of the atom, another group stepped forward to ply their trade in the service of atomic knowledge. They were theosophists, known collectively as the Occult Chemists, and their goal was nothing less than “direct observation of atoms through clairvoyance.”

Skullduggery And Numbskullery

Dear friends, the unknown is vast. Yea, I say to you there are things on our world, in our universe, and within our minds which we have not even begun to understand. There are things forgotten deep in humanity’s past. There are phenomena and objects and events in the present day of which we are quite simply ignorant. Yea, good readers, there are mysteries to be sure. Things unexplained, and in as much, things fascinating. Unfortunately, “Crystal Skulls,” like the one pictured above from the collection of the British Museum are not among them. These are items whose story have a beginning and end. If you are of the mind to you may coax it out from the following:

Origin of the Crystal Skulls. Unmuseum. British Museum’s Skull. Wikipedia. Mitchell-Hedges story. A Crystal Skull. World Mysteries. Smithsonian’s research. Empire Museum. Skepdic.com. A Crystal Skull?. Messengers of light. Seraphim Institute. Crane Cristal (vids). Everything2. Skepticwiki. How Crystal Skulls Work. Crystal’s Skull. Joky’s 9 Crystal Skulls. Odd and Unusual. Prismatic Skull. 13 crystal Maya skulls will save the world. The amazing Crystal Skulls. Cult and fringe archeology. Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Skeptical Inguirer.


If you are anything like me good reader (and since you are here at all I must assume that, in some small way at least, you are) you look at the image above, and you read the caption, and you wonder, “what does that mean?” It seems simple enough. A quirky drawing; a short caption. You can’t help but run through possibilities– A comic strip? A children’s book? An illustration from an exposé on the secrets of magic? A rejected New Yorker Cartoon? And yet… it remains opaque somehow doesn’t it?. I mean “M. Ivorde’s little man?” That seems odd. And what’s with the space helmet? And what’s that he’s holding? A metal detector? A street sweeper’s dust-pan? Just what exactly is happening here?

I came across this image accidentally, much as you have, and if you’re anything like me you’re a curious sort and would like nothing better than to just click a link real quick, satisfy that curiosity, and move on. Well, having been down that road I have to ask you, in all seriousness, is that really what you want? I mean, couldn’t you just let it go?

11.28. filed under: ideas. misc. play. wtf. 11

Some researchers at the University of Bristol, UK, have unveiled their findings as to a 46-centimetre eurypterid claw which was found near Prüm in Germany. After some fevered calculations and ratio checking the fossil is now believed to have belonged to the largest sea scorpion ever discovered. As Nature reports, “At 2.5 meters, this monster was bigger than a man.” Eeek.

To give you a real sense of scale I’ve included the image above, in which we see a eurypterid beside both Jean Paul Sartre’s grave, which he shares with Simone de Beauvoir, and a certain Duane Schneider from the hit 1970’s television show One Day at a Time. Hopefully that gives you some perspective.

(Story brought to my attention by the excellent Heraclitean Fire.)

11.22. filed under: science. wtf. 9

Patented for Your Pleasure

What are the things we as a species enjoy? I’m going to go out on a limb and pick two- We enjoy sexual pleasure, and we enjoy tinkering with stuff. The confluence of these two interests have lead, over time, to more sexual gadgetry than you could shake an electrode covered phallus at, and it’s amusing for a couple of reasons. For one, I don’t think with all our noodling we’ve ever actually improved on good ol’ sloppy biology. Secondly, and this is the mouth of the comedy gold mine, all these endless inventions of ours must, if they are to ever to hit the market and enter the orifices at large, pass through the patent office. Can you think of a more incongruous pairing than brute sexuality and government forms? Or of the mysterious workings of human arousal and technical diagrams?

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