Books bound in human skin not a myth – even Harvard has a few gruesome copies

Books bound with human skin in the Harvard Library collection? According to Harvard’s Directory of University Libraries, “without extensive genetic testing, Harvard librarians still do not have the foggiest notion of how many volumes wrapped in human hide exist throughout the system.” But they have identified three books that yes, are bound with real human skin – and they’re not the only library that houses such gruesome works. Spanish law book cover looks like an old banana A Spanish law book, entitled “Practicarum quaestionum circa leges regias Hispaniae”, is described as “delicate, stiff, with wrinkled edges, the skin’s coloring subdued yellow, with sporadic brown and black splotches like an old banana.” It sits on a Harvard library bookshelf available for anyone to check out.  Nothing about the

Saddle Ridge Hoard – couple discovers $10 million in old gold coins buried in backyard

It’s amazing when even a single Gold Rush era gold coin is found, let alone a thousand of them.  But that’s the sort of phenomenal find that a Sierra, Nevada couple ran across last month and they didn’t have to go far to find it – it was buried right in their backyard.  Dubbed the Saddle Ridge Hoard and valued at $10 million dollars, it is believed to be the biggest hoard of gold coins ever unearthed in the United States.  But, the excitement Lady Luck's touch aside, the find has left some wondering if the newly discovered cache is long-lost stolen loot from an unsolved San Francisco Mint heist in 1901. The Saddle Ridge Hoard find – gold coins aplenty! The mysterious gold coin cache was found

The unsolved Max Headroom Incident – pirates hijack Chicago TV broadcast to air bizarre and creepy tirade (1987)

Before the advent of the Internet and widespread public knowledge of a coordinated “hacking” culture, a strange and eerie incident occurred during a November 22, 1987 broadcast on WTTW-11 Chicago (a PBS affiliate) of Dr. Who, when a still-as-yet unidentified hacker took over the station’s broadcast replacing a brief section of the evening’s program with a creepy montage of a masked Max Headroom figure spouting bizarre, and often unintelligible, statements at the camera. Even more baffling, the perpetrators, who would have had to not only possess expert knowledge of broadcast technology but also have access to sophisticated and expensive television broadcast equipment, appeared to be youngsters. To date, how the perpetrators hijacked the television station’s broadcast is unknown and the culprit(s) have never been found

Coffin Apartments – underprivileged residents of China forced to live in tiny-sized stacked boxes

Called “coffin apartments” (Geki-sema) or capsule hotels, they’re Japan's and China’s solution to cheap housing for the poor and underprivileged citizens. Designed to fit a single bed and not even tall enough to stand up in, these tiny apartments can measure as small as a mere 6 foot long by 3 foot wide with ceilings only 3-4 feet high giving the resident a meager 16 square foot home that are stacked atop each other to maximize space - and profits.  Hidden amid the multi-million dollar high-rise apartments in Tokyo and gleaming skyscrapers in Hong Kong, they are not for the claustrophobic.  One resident told CNN: "No one wants to live here, but we need to survive. It's a step up from being on the streets.” Residents share

U.S. kids have it easy – in Germany a demon accompanies Santa and beats naughty kids with a stick

He’s known in Alpine countries variously as Krampus, Klaubauf, Bartl, and Wubartl, a beast-like, half-goat, half-demon creature that takes over where Santa left off (think of Krampus as the anti-Santa).  While Saint Nicholas rewards well-behaved boys and girls with gifts, Krampus captures naughty kids, places them in his oversized-sack, and carries them away to his lair or worse, hell. Traditionally, each year during the Christmas season, men in Austria, Bavaria, Germany, Hungary, Czech Republic, and Croatia dress up in frightening elaborate Krampus costumes and roam the streets looking for small kids to chase, scare, and beat with sticks. The history of the Krampus creature dates back to pre-Christian Germanic traditions and likely originates from well-known tales about St. Nicholas’ battle with the devil.  He is sometimes

Mike the Headless Chicken – famously tough chicken lives over a year with no head

It will forever be known as one of the luckiest breaks in poultry history – the day a propitious hatchet job left “Miracle Mike” (aka Mike the Headless Chicken) in a one-in-a-million state that allowed him to live for over a year without a head.  The unusual event started routinely enough.  On September 10, 1945, Mrs. Clara Olsen of Fruita, Colorado, sent her husband Lloyd Olsen to the chicken pen on a routine mission to bring back a chicken for the evening’s meal.  Clara’s mother was coming over for dinner and Lloyd wanted to make the evening special for his mother-in-law.  And what a memorial evening it turned out to be… Mike the Headless Chicken is created Lloyd chose a five-and-a-half-month-old plump Wyandotte cockerel as his prey. 

Strange “Toynbee tiles” appear embedded in streets and sidewalks around the world

Since the 1980’s, hundreds of mysterious “Toynbee tiles” have been found as far west as Kansas City, Missouri and as far east as Boston, Massachusetts.  Verified reports of the Toynbee tiles have come from at least 25 cities around the world.  Intricately patterned, they've been found laid in the sidewalks, in the middle of highways, and on highway on and off ramps.  The tiles, about the size of a license plate, and their disturbing messages have proven to have a powerful allure, with several theories developed about their origin and meaning. The tiles all bare the following mysterious message (or some minor variant thereof): TOYNBEE IDEA IN MOViE `2001 RESURRECT DEAD ON PLANET JUPITER. The Toynbee Tile history Solid proof of the first Toynbee Tile goes back to the late 1980’s when the

Norwegian artist claims to have created a perpetual motion machine – the Finsrud Wheel [VIDEO]

We’re not quite ready to call it perpetual motion yet but it is indeed an interesting machine.  Norwegian artist and mathematician Reidar Finsrud is an outside the box thinker that has devised a machine, called the Finsrud Wheel, that he believes achieves true perpetual motion albeit, even he cannot explain how.  The machine reportedly uses a combination of gravity, magnets, pendulums, and a little push to get it started in order to generate continuous motion. Reidar Finsrud explained how it works: “The machine is much more complicated than it appears at first sight. The upper part of the system is, among other things, absolutely decisive for the machine's function. These "blade springs" transfer (steel) a little of the ball's kinetic motion energy and this energy is used

The mysterious Antikythera Mechanism – how does 14th century technology exist in a 2,000 year old device?

  Discovered on a shipwreck off the coast of Antikythera in 1901, some have called the Antikythera Mechanism the first analog computer; others the first mechanical computing device. Consisting of a sophisticated, intricate system of bronze gears, wheels, and differential cogs, the technology used to construct the device resembles that of 18th century clocks. Gearing of this complexity was not known to exist until no earlier than 1600 A.D. when mechanical astronomical clocks began to be built in Western Europe. You can imagine the shockwave that rocked the scientific community when the device was conclusively dated to the second century B.C., thousands of years earlier than it should have been possible to construct. It is still unknown who constructed the instrument 2,000 years ago, how the

Buddhist monk prays so many times each day – leaves footprints embedded in wooden floor

70-year-old Hua Chi, from Tongren, China, seems disappointed that his aging body only allows him to pray 1,0000 times each day (only 500 if the weather is cold).  In his younger days, his strict daily ritual consisted of 2,000 – 3,000 prayers each day.  In fact, Chi has prayed in his Tongren monastery for nearly 20 years, in the same spot, each day.  His prayer routine is so consistent, he has left 1 1/2 inch deep footprints ingrained in the monastery's floor.  Check out the photo montage below.

The crazy New York City bike messengers

If you saw the movie, Premium Rush, you probably figured those crazy New York bike messengers must be tamer in real life than they were portrayed in the movie.  You’d be wrong.  Premium Rush (and Quicksilver, another movie with a bike messenger theme) actually offer a very close portrayal of a professional bike messenger.  Bike messengers are paid on commission, based on how many messages they deliver.  Financially, it’s in their best interest to go fast – very fast.  Safety wise – well… not so much.  A recent study found their on-the-job injury rates that required time off from work were 1,300% higher than the national average (and three times higher than dangerous meat-packing industry). Bicycle messengers are most often found in the central business districts

The Heyday of the American Lobotomy Craze

For more than 800 years, man had known that finding a way into the delicate brain cavity and cutting or poking at the liquid filled tissue, would produce a dramatic change in a person’s behavior and demeanor. It was commonly used to “drive out the devil”. Although archaic and seldom used, by 1935, the practice had returned to favor. A description in 1986 by Elliot Valentstein in the Great and Desperate Cures explains how he process was initiated. “After drilling two or more holes in a patient’s skull, a surgeon inserted into a patient’s brain any of various instruments – some resembling an apple corer, a butter spreader, or an ice pick – and often, without being able to see what he was cutting, destroyed parts

The truth about the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale

Finding the earliest version of any given common fairy tale is an almost impossible endeavor. Before the Grimm Brothers gathered their collection of well-known German folk fairy tales into a single written volume, these stories followed an oral tradition, being passed on from grandmother to mother to children. What you may not know is that these earliest oral versions of our most popular fairy tales, and in some instances the earliest print version, are far from the clean-cut “good guy always wins” tales we use to lull our children to sleep at night. The earlier versions of our classic fairy tales included stories of murder, cannibalism, incest, rape, and various other despicable acts. Early Fairy Tales Finally get Cleaned Up Early collections of tales often bore some

Professional Wrestling – Real or Fake?

Most people have lain in bed late at night, flipping through channels, and paused to watch the action when they come across a professional wrestling match. Smashing head butts, thudding body slams, and brutal back breakers give pause to the viewer – how do that do that without getting hurt or worse – killed? Is professional wrestling real, or is it fake? The Script All professional wrestling matches are fake in the sense that the outcome is determined before the match takes place. Script writers lay out pre-planned storylines much like the storyline of a daytime soap opera. The storyline includes out of the ring action, such as a wrestler jumping into the audience to attack a fan, and in the ring action, such as the dive

Piri Reis map – who or what charted land masses before they were believed to have been discovered?

There's an ancient map, called the Piri Reis Map, that has scientists scratching their heads and theologians saying, "We told you so". It is extremely accurate and charts much of the land that had yet to be discovered at the time of its creation. Even more remarkably, it charts the Antarctica land mass which was not even possible until ground penetrating radar was invented that would allow map makers the ability to peer beneath the mile-thick ice covering.  The map was found among discarded documents on a dusty shelf in Constantinople and dates back to 1500 - hundreds of years before the required cartography technology existed that would have allowed such accurate mapping. The Piri Reis map was compiled in 1513 from military intelligence by the