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The Quick 10: 10 Incidents at the Bermuda Triangle

I'm a sucker for supernatural stuff. I know most "mysterious" shipwrecks can probably be explained from weather, currents and lots of other scientific evidence, but it's more fun for me to pretend they got sucked into some sort of other dimension (I've been setting too involved with Lost, I think). Anyway, below are 10 incidents that happened in association with the Bermuda Triangle, whether they can be explained perfectly logically or not.

10 Incidents at the Bermuda Triangle

1. Thomas Lynch, Jr. . The first recorded instance of strange happenings in the Bermuda Triangle area was when Thomas Lynch, Jr., and his wife disappeared while sailing to the West Indies in 1779. Lynch was a representative of South Carolina and one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.

2. USS Cyclops. So far, this is the biggest loss of Navy personnel not related to combat. The USS Cyclops and the 309 people on it disappeared without a trace sometime around March 4, 1918, after leaving Barbados.

3. Spray. Spray was a boat captained by Joshua Slocum, who was known for his skills on the water "“ he was the first man to complete a solo sailing mission around the world. There's no evidence that he was actually in the Bermuda Triangle when he disappeared en route from the Caribbean to Venezuela in 1909, but lots of theories have said there's no other way he could have lost control of his boat. He was declared legally dead in 1924.

4. Star Tiger and Star Ariel. These two aircrafts disappeared just about a year apart from each other "“ the Tiger (with 29 people on board) on January 30, 1948; the Ariel (20 people on board) on January 17, 1949. Neither plane gave out a distress call of any sort. Wreckage of a plane owned by the same company as the Tiger and the Ariel turned up in the Andes in 1998; the plane had disappeared in 1947. So far, though, nothing has been found of the Star planes.

5. HMS Atalanta. A crew of 281 died when this 26-gun frigate went missing after leaving Bermuda for Falmouth, England, in 1880. Sadly, its sister ship, the HMS Eurydice, sank near the Isle of Wight just two years before, killing 317.

6. S.S. Cotopaxi. In December 1925, the Cotopaxi was headed for Havana from Charleston, S.C., when it disappeared. The ship's captain radioed shortly before it was lost and said there was water in the hold, so there seems to be little doubt that she probably sank, along with all 32 crew members. This hasn't stopped the Cotopaxi from being added to the list of Bermuda Triangle mysteries, though.

7. S.S. Marine Sulphur Queen. The Marine Sulphur Queen was a T-2 tanker carrying, yup, you guessed it "“ Sulphur. It was going from Beaumont, Texas to Norfolk, Virginia, but never made it. A completely normal radio message was sent from the tanker on February 4, 1963, and by February 6 the ship was reported as missing. A total of 39 crew members were lost. And maybe this sister ship thing is a bad idea "“ the Marine Sulphur Queen's sister ship, the S.S. Sylvia L. Ossa, went down east of Bermuda in 1976. All that was ever found was some debris and an empty lifeboat. Note to self: If I ever take up a career as a first mate and my sister ship sinks somewhere, seek a new job immediately.

8. The Carroll A. Deering. Maybe this ship was doomed from the start "“ the captain got sick and had to abandon ship at a port in Delaware. This was apparently considered a bad omen. After delivering its cargo to Rio, the ship started to turn home and stopped in Barbados for supplies. After this it was sighted near North Carolina and noted that the crew was acting strange; the ship wasn't seen again until its wreckage washed up off the coast of Cape Hatteras. The ship's log, navigation equipment, the crew's personal stuff and boat lifeboats were gone.

9. S.S. Hewitt. The Hewitt was lost in 1921 when she sailed from Sabine, Texas, bound for Portland, Maine. The captain made a regular radio call on January 25 and was never heard from again. The last sighting is about 250 miles north of Jupiter Inlet, Florida. Not a trace of wreckage has ever been found, even after a pretty extensive search along the route it was supposed to be traveling.

10. Chase Vault. Here's one that doesn't involve ships or planes, although you might want to take it with a grain of salt. The Chase Vault is a burial vault in Barbados where weird things kept happening in the early 19th century. Every time the vault was opened, all of the coffins (save for one) had moved. It's a pretty lengthy story, but if you want to check out it, visit good old Wikipedia. It's interesting.
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Stones, Bones, and Wrecks
A Chinese Museum Is Offering Cash to Whoever Can Decipher These 3000-Year-Old Inscriptions

During the 19th century, farmers in China’s Henan Province began discovering oracle bones—engraved ox scapulae and tortoise shells used by Shang Dynasty leaders for record-keeping and divination purposes—while plowing their fields. More bones were excavated in subsequent years, and their inscriptions were revealed to be the earliest known form of systematic writing in East Asia. But over the decades, scholars still haven’t come close to cracking half of the mysterious script’s roughly 5000 characters—which is why one Chinese museum is asking member of the public for help, in exchange for a generous cash reward.

As Atlas Obscura reports, the National Museum of Chinese Writing in Anyang, Henan Province has offered to pay citizen researchers about $15,000 for each unknown character translated, and $7500 if they provide a disputed character’s definitive meaning. Submissions must be supported with evidence, and reviewed by at least two language specialists.

The museum began farming out their oracle bone translation efforts in Fall 2016. The costly ongoing project has hit a stalemate, and scholars hope that the public’s collective smarts—combined with new advances in technology, including cloud computing and big data—will yield new information and save them research money.

As of today, more than 200,000 oracle bones have been discovered—around 50,000 of which bear text—so scholars still have a lot to learn about the Shang Dynasty. Many of the ancient script's characters are difficult to verify, as they represent places and people from long ago. However, decoding even just one character could lead to a substantial breakthrough, experts say: "If we interpret a noun or a verb, it can bring many scripts on oracle bones to life, and we can understand ancient history better,” Chinese history professor Zhu Yanmin told the South China Morning Post.

[h/t Atlas Obscura]

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6 Eponyms Named After the Wrong Person
Original image
Salmonella species growing on agar.

Having something named after you is the ultimate accomplishment for any inventor, mathematician, scientist, or researcher. Unfortunately, the credit for an invention or discovery does not always go to the correct person—senior colleagues sometimes snatch the glory, fakers pull the wool over people's eyes, or the fickle general public just latches onto the wrong name.

1. SALMONELLA (OR SMITHELLA?)

In 1885, while investigating common livestock diseases at the Bureau of Animal Industry in Washington, D.C., pathologist Theobald Smith first isolated the salmonella bacteria in pigs suffering from hog cholera. Smith’s research finally identified the bacteria responsible for one of the most common causes of food poisoning in humans. Unfortunately, Smith’s limelight-grabbing supervisor, Daniel E. Salmon, insisted on taking sole credit for the discovery. As a result, the bacteria was named after him. Don’t feel too sorry for Theobald Smith, though: He soon emerged from Salmon’s shadow, going on to make the important discovery that ticks could be a vector in the spread of disease, among other achievements.

2. AMERICA (OR COLUMBIANA?)

An etching of Amerigo Vespucci
Henry Guttmann/Getty Images

Florentine explorer Amerigo Vespucci (1451–1512) claimed to have made numerous voyages to the New World, the first in 1497, before Columbus. Textual evidence suggests Vespucci did take part in a number of expeditions across the Atlantic, but generally does not support the idea that he set eyes on the New World before Columbus. Nevertheless, Vespucci’s accounts of his voyages—which today read as far-fetched—were hugely popular and translated into many languages. As a result, when German cartographer Martin Waldseemüller was drawing his map of the Novus Mundi (or New World) in 1507 he marked it with the name "America" in Vespucci’s honor. He later regretted the choice, omitting the name from future maps, but it was too late, and the name stuck.

3. BLOOMERS (OR MILLERS?)

A black and white image of young women wearing bloomers
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Dress reform became a big issue in mid-19th century America, when women were restricted by long, heavy skirts that dragged in the mud and made any sort of physical activity difficult. Women’s rights activist Elizabeth Smith Miller was inspired by traditional Turkish dress to begin wearing loose trousers gathered at the ankle underneath a shorter skirt. Miller’s new outfit immediately caused a splash, with some decrying it as scandalous and others inspired to adopt the garb.

Amelia Jenks Bloomer was editor of the women’s temperance journal The Lily, and she took to copying Miller’s style of dress. She was so impressed with the new freedom it gave her that she began promoting the “reform dress” in her magazine, printing patterns so others might make their own. Bloomer sported the dress when she spoke at events and soon the press began to associate the outfit with her, dubbing it “Bloomer’s costume.” The name stuck.

4. GUILLOTINE (OR LOUISETTE?)

Execution machines had been known prior to the French Revolution, but they were refined after Paris physician and politician Dr. Joseph-Ignace Guillotin suggested they might be a more humane form of execution than the usual methods (hanging, burning alive, etc.). The first guillotine was actually designed by Dr. Antoine Louis, Secretary of the Academy of Surgery, and was known as a louisette. The quick and efficient machine was quickly adopted as the main method of execution in revolutionary France, and as the bodies piled up the public began to refer to it as la guillotine, for the man who first suggested its use. Guillotin was very distressed at the association, and when he died in 1814 his family asked the French government to change the name of the hated machine. The government refused and so the family changed their name instead to escape the dreadful association.

5. BECHDEL TEST (OR WALLACE TEST?)

Alison Bechdel
Alison Bechdel
Steve Jennings/Getty Images

The Bechdel Test is a tool to highlight gender inequality in film, television, and fiction. The idea is that in order to pass the test, the movie, show, or book in question must include at least one scene in which two women have a conversation that isn’t about a man. The test was popularized by the cartoonist Alison Bechdel in 1985 in her comic strip “Dykes to Watch Out For,” and has since become known by her name. However, Bechdel asserts that the idea originated with her friend Lisa Wallace (and was also inspired by the writer Virginia Woolf), and she would prefer for it to be known as the Bechdel-Wallace test.

6. STIGLER’S LAW OF EPONYMY (OR MERTON’S LAW?)

Influential sociologist Robert K. Merton suggested the idea of the “Matthew Effect” in a 1968 paper noting that senior colleagues who are already famous tend to get the credit for their junior colleagues’ discoveries. (Merton named his phenomenon [PDF] after the parable of talents in the Gospel of Matthew, in which wise servants invest money their master has given them.)

Merton was a well-respected academic, and when he was due to retire in 1979, a book of essays celebrating his work was proposed. One person who contributed an essay was University of Chicago professor of statistics Stephen Stigler, who had corresponded with Merton about his ideas. Stigler decided to pen an essay that celebrated and proved Merton’s theory. As a result, he took Merton’s idea and created Stigler’s Law of Eponymy, which states that “No scientific discovery is named after its original discoverer”—the joke being that Stigler himself was taking Merton’s own theory and naming it after himself. To further prove the rule, the “new” law has been adopted by the academic community, and a number of papers and articles have since been written on "Stigler’s Law."

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