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7 Superpowers Available to Scientologists

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Lafayette Ronald Hubbard identified 57 areas that people who reached the higher levels of Scientology would be able to control. Here are some of the things he and the current organization’s leadership claim will make you unlike any people ever to come before.

1. Immunity from Physical Ailment

In his first book, Dianetics, Hubbard claimed that any physical ailments we suffer from are the result of bad things that happened in our past lives, or in our current lives, or even things that happened to our mothers while pregnant. Through “auditing” — a process in which you discuss life events with a counselor while holding a machine called an e-meter — Scientology promises individuals can figure out what caused their diseases and other mental or physical ailments, then fix themselves. People claim to have done this even when medical science was completely at a loss.

An official Scientology website includes some of these stories, including a woman who says that during an auditing session she felt the bones in her face breaking, and then rearranging themselves, thus curing her chronic vascular disease, which doctors had told her there was no cure for. Another woman reportedly discovered through auditing that her epilepsy was due to electric shocks her mother had gone through while pregnant. Fortunately, just a few rounds on the e-meter apparently cured her condition.

2 & 3. Psychic Abilities and Super Intelligence

Once you become an "Operating Thetan" (meaning you’ve worked through all those horrible past experiences) you are supposed to get a lot smarter. On page 16 of Dianetics, Hubbard stated, “Tests of [an OT's] intelligence indicate it to be high above the current norm.” But don’t just take his word for it. Another official Scientologist success story was one person who said, “Probably the most amazing thing which has happened to me was the fact of a 20% increase in my IQ.” You can also communicate with other OT’s through telepathy. About halfway through another of his Scientology tomes, The History of Man, Hubbard claims, “Thetans communicate by telepathy.” The book What is Scientology? states, "Can OTs read minds? ...to answer the question bluntly - yes, with varying degrees of ability.”

Hubbard also warned against being obvious with your new talents until enough people had the powers, though, because people would be jealous and try to destroy all of them. Thanks to these superhuman powers, one OT claimed she "always know[s] who's calling on the phone before it rings, and [is] able to check the progress of [a] cooking hamburger without walking into the kitchen.”

4. Super Senses

Hubbard promised maximum ability, unlike anything humans have ever known before, for pretty much every sense you can think of. Not only that, but you will be able to control how much of each of those senses you want at a given moment. Say, for example, you are at a concert. Your new abilities mean you would have hearing inestimably better than any of the non-Scientologists around you. Thankfully, you can control your amazing hearing and would tone it down so the concert’s music wouldn't be too loud and uncomfortable.

In Chapter 2 of Dianetics, Hubbard also promises that if a clear (an early level) just pays attention to improving their eyesight, they can go from almost blind to extraordinary. As evidence, the official Scientology website offers the story of one individual who took off their glasses halfway through their first auditing session and never needed them again. Another Scientologist claims they can now see clearly what it used to take a magnifying glass to see.

5. Telekenesis, Mind-Control, and a Universal Stopwatch

Once you get to a high enough level in Scientology, you should be able to control absolutely everything in the physical world. One person claimed that when their coffeemaker went on the fritz, they “corrected the molecular structure” with their mind and it started working again. In A History of Man, Hubbard says OT’s “emit a considerable electrical flow.” While you might be able to think of some nice ways to use such a power, Hubbard’s proposed examples include giving “somebody a very bad shock,” “putting out his eyes” or “cutting him in half.”

Other official Scientology literature includes the claim of one woman who decided the turbulence on a flight was bothering her so she stopped it, twice, and as she deplaned thought, “How lucky it was for these people to have me on board.”

Hubbard was very clear about keeping this all hidden: “Let's not go upsetting governments and putting on a show to ‘prove’ anything to homo sapiens for a while; it's a horrible temptation to knock off hats at fifty yards and read books a couple of countries away.”

6. Controlling the People Around You

If you have slightly more megalomaniacal goals than just controlling coffeemakers, once you reach OT level 7, Scientology promises that you can control what people think and how they act. Hubbard said in A History of Man that, once at that level, a Scientologist could project a feeling onto another person and make them feel sad or happy as desired. In fact, according to people with access to official Scientology course requirements, a large part of level 7 is to practice projecting thoughts and feelings onto other people. Before you work your way up to controlling the thoughts of other humans, it is recommended that you communicate first with plants and then animals.

7. Become Like a God and Create Your Own World

Once you can control everything, there is really just one more thing to do, and that is become a god-like being that can create its own reality. In both Dianetics and A History of Man, Hubbard refers to the “godlike” being you will become if you follow his program. Another Hubbard book called Scientology 8-8008 discusses how to "postulate universes into existence," and promises that “a Thetan who is completely rehabilitated can… create his own universe; a person who is able to create his own universe… is able to create illusions perceivable by others.” Tom Cruise is reportedly at this level.

So once you spend the necessary money and complete the extensive training, you should be able to make your own world where you control absolutely everything. But once again Hubbard warns against taking it too far: “Don't go off on wild chases after fourth and fifth dimensions, time warps and other time-space universes.” Sound advice.

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The Elements
9 Diamond-Like Facts About Carbon
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How well do you know the periodic table? Our series The Elements explores the fundamental building blocks of the observable universe—and their relevance to your life—one by one.
 
 
It can be glittering and hard. It can be soft and flaky. It can look like a soccer ball. Carbon is the backbone of every living thing—and yet it just might cause the end of life on Earth as we know it. How can a lump of coal and a shining diamond be composed of the same material? Here are eight things you probably didn't know about carbon.

1. IT'S THE "DUCT TAPE OF LIFE."

It's in every living thing, and in quite a few dead ones. "Water may be the solvent of the universe," writes Natalie Angier in her classic introduction to science, The Canon, "but carbon is the duct tape of life." Not only is carbon duct tape, it's one hell of a duct tape. It binds atoms to one another, forming humans, animals, plants and rocks. If we play around with it, we can coax it into plastics, paints, and all kinds of chemicals.

2. IT'S ONE OF THE MOST ABUNDANT ELEMENTS IN THE UNIVERSE.

It sits right at the top of the periodic table, wedged in between boron and nitrogen. Atomic number 6, chemical sign C. Six protons, six neutrons, six electrons. It is the fourth most abundant element in the universe after hydrogen, helium, and oxygen, and 15th in the Earth's crust. While its older cousins hydrogen and helium are believed to have been formed during the tumult of the Big Bang, carbon is thought to stem from a buildup of alpha particles in supernova explosions, a process called supernova nucleosynthesis.

3. IT'S NAMED AFTER COAL.

While humans have known carbon as coal and—after burning—soot for thousands of years, it was Antoine Lavoisier who, in 1772, showed that it was in fact a unique chemical entity. Lavoisier used an instrument that focused the Sun's rays using lenses which had a diameter of about four feet. He used the apparatus, called a solar furnace, to burn a diamond in a glass jar. By analyzing the residue found in the jar, he was able to show that diamond was comprised solely of carbon. Lavoisier first listed it as an element in his textbook Traité Élémentaire de Chimie, published in 1789. The name carbon derives from the French charbon, or coal.

4. IT LOVES TO BOND.

It can form four bonds, which it does with many other elements, creating hundreds of thousands of compounds, some of which we use daily. (Plastics! Drugs! Gasoline!) More importantly, those bonds are both strong and flexible.

5. NEARLY 20 PERCENT OF YOUR BODY IS CARBON.

May Nyman, a professor of inorganic chemistry at Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon tells Mental Floss that carbon has an almost unbelievable range. "It makes up all life forms, and in the number of substances it makes, the fats, the sugars, there is a huge diversity," she says. It forms chains and rings, in a process chemists call catenation. Every living thing is built on a backbone of carbon (with nitrogen, hydrogen, oxygen, and other elements). So animals, plants, every living cell, and of course humans are a product of catenation. Our bodies are 18.5 percent carbon, by weight.

And yet it can be inorganic as well, Nyman says. It teams up with oxygen and other substances to form large parts of the inanimate world, like rocks and minerals.

6. WE DISCOVERED TWO NEW FORMS OF IT ONLY RECENTLY.

Carbon is found in four major forms: graphite, diamonds, fullerenes, and graphene. "Structure controls carbon's properties," says Nyman.  Graphite ("the writing stone") is made up of loosely connected sheets of carbon formed like chicken wire. Penciling something in actually is just scratching layers of graphite onto paper. Diamonds, in contrast, are linked three-dimensionally. These exceptionally strong bonds can only be broken by a huge amount of energy. Because diamonds have many of these bonds, it makes them the hardest substance on Earth.

Fullerenes were discovered in 1985 when a group of scientists blasted graphite with a laser and the resulting carbon gas condensed to previously unknown spherical molecules with 60 and 70 atoms. They were named in honor of Buckminster Fuller, the eccentric inventor who famously created geodesic domes with this soccer ball–like composition. Robert Curl, Harold Kroto, and Richard Smalley won the 1996 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for discovering this new form of carbon.

The youngest member of the carbon family is graphene, found by chance in 2004 by Andre Geim and Kostya Novoselov in an impromptu research jam. The scientists used scotch tape—yes, really—to lift carbon sheets one atom thick from a lump of graphite. The new material is extremely thin and strong. The result: the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2010.

7. DIAMONDS AREN'T CALLED "ICE" BECAUSE OF THEIR APPEARANCE.

Diamonds are called "ice" because their ability to transport heat makes them cool to the touch—not because of their look. This makes them ideal for use as heat sinks in microchips. (Synthethic diamonds are mostly used.) Again, diamonds' three-dimensional lattice structure comes into play. Heat is turned into lattice vibrations, which are responsible for diamonds' very high thermal conductivity.

8. IT HELPS US DETERMINE THE AGE OF ARTIFACTS—AND PROVE SOME OF THEM FAKE.

American scientist Willard F. Libby won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1960 for developing a method for dating relics by analyzing the amount of a radioactive subspecies of carbon contained in them. Radiocarbon or C14 dating measures the decay of a radioactive form of carbon, C14, that accumulates in living things. It can be used for objects that are as much as 50,000 years old. Carbon dating help determine the age of Ötzi the Iceman, a 5300-year-old corpse found frozen in the Alps. It also established that Lancelot's Round Table in Winchester Cathedral was made hundreds of years after the supposed Arthurian Age.

9. TOO MUCH OF IT IS CHANGING OUR WORLD.

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is an important part of a gaseous blanket that is wrapped around our planet, making it warm enough to sustain life. But burning fossil fuels—which are built on a carbon backbone—releases more carbon dioxide, which is directly linked to global warming. A number of ways to remove and store carbon dioxide have been proposed, including bioenergy with carbon capture and storage, which involves planting large stands of trees, harvesting and burning them to create electricity, and capturing the CO2 created in the process and storing it underground. Yet another approach that is being discussed is to artificially make oceans more alkaline in order to let them to bind more CO2. Forests are natural carbon sinks, because trees capture CO2 during photosynthesis, but human activity in these forests counteracts and surpasses whatever CO2 capture gains we might get. In short, we don't have a solution yet to the overabundance of C02 we've created in the atmosphere.

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Big Questions
Why Don't We Eat Turkey Tails?
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Turkey sandwiches. Turkey soup. Roasted turkey. This year, Americans will consume roughly 245 million birds, with 46 million being prepared and presented on Thanksgiving. What we don’t eat will be repurposed into leftovers.

But there’s one part of the turkey that virtually no family will have on their table: the tail.

Despite our country’s obsession with fattening, dissecting, and searing turkeys, we almost inevitably pass up the fat-infused rear portion. According to Michael Carolan, professor of sociology and associate dean for research at the College for Liberal Arts at Colorado State University, that may have something to do with how Americans have traditionally perceived turkeys. Consumption was rare prior to World War II. When the birds were readily available, there was no demand for the tail because it had never been offered in the first place.

"Tails did and do not fit into what has become our culinary fascination with white meat," Carolan tells Mental Floss. "But also from a marketing [and] processor standpoint, if the consumer was just going to throw the tail away, or will not miss it if it was omitted, [suppliers] saw an opportunity to make additional money."

Indeed, the fact that Americans didn't have a taste for tail didn't prevent the poultry industry from moving on. Tails were being routed to Pacific Island consumers in the 1950s. Rich in protein and fat—a turkey tail is really a gland that produces oil used for grooming—suppliers were able to make use of the unwanted portion. And once consumers were exposed to it, they couldn't get enough.

“By 2007,” according to Carolan, “the average Samoan was consuming more than 44 pounds of turkey tails every year.” Perhaps not coincidentally, Samoans also have alarmingly high obesity rates of 75 percent. In an effort to stave off contributing factors, importing tails to the Islands was banned from 2007 until 2013, when it was argued that doing so violated World Trade Organization rules.

With tradition going hand-in-hand with commerce, poultry suppliers don’t really have a reason to try and change domestic consumer appetites for the tails. In preparing his research into the missing treat, Carolan says he had to search high and low before finally finding a source of tails at a Whole Foods that was about to discard them. "[You] can't expect the food to be accepted if people can't even find the piece!"

Unless the meat industry mounts a major campaign to shift American tastes, Thanksgiving will once again be filled with turkeys missing one of their juicier body parts.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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