What Happens When An Ice Storm Hits While Flowers Are Still Blooming? Gorgeousness.

Every day there are things that exist in nature that are too cool to even describe. Thankfully, a user on Reddit was able to capture a fascinating natural phenomenon while it was happening. The flowers in Texas were still blooming when they got hit with an ice storm. What happened to those flowers was absolutely beautiful.

The ice covered the branches and petals…

The ice covered the branches and petals...

Turning this part of Texas into a winter wonderland.

Turning this part of Texas into a winter wonderland.

The cold ice enhances the flowers” natural beauty.

The cold ice enhances the flowers

Usually, adding frost to plants doesn”t result in something amazing… but we”re glad it did at least one time. Source



So I Found A Random City On Google Maps The Other Day… And Its Unknown Secret Is AWESOME.

Every city has its flaws… except maybe for Palmanova, Italy. It was designed by artist and architect Vincenzo Scamozzi, in the shape of star. It”s world renown for its unusual, almost perfect shape. There is something inherently appealing about its concentric citadel or fortress plan and structure. The “star fort” city is pleasing to people mathematically and aesthetically (and even strategically, if you”re thinking about city defense). How could you not stop in this fortress of a city if you were just passing by?

It was constructed during the renaissance.

It was constructed during the renaissance.

The city and commune was meant to be a utopia.

The city and commune was meant to be a utopia.

It was built at the end of the 16th century by the Venetian Republic.

It was built at the end of the 16th century by the Venetian Republic.

The reasons for its shape are philosophical, religious and military.

The reasons for its shape are philosophical, religious and military.

Even though the dreams of a utopia may never have been truly realized…

Even though the dreams of a utopia may never have been truly realized...

A truly spectacular city was created.

A truly spectacular city was created.

You can find the town in northeastern Italy, close to the border with Slovenia.

You can find the town in northeastern Italy, close to the border with Slovenia.

A civil engineering sight to behold!

A civil engineering sight to behold!

(H/T Piximus) It”s difficult to imagine a place like Palmanova ever having issues with pests or criminals. It looks almost too perfect for that. If you want to see a spectacular result of the renaissance, visit Palmanova.



You Should Know These 30 Facts About Sleep Before Hitting The Hay.

There”s nothingA more rejuvenating than a good night”s sleep. Seriously, nothing. Getting in enough hours of sleep is one of the most important parts of our overall health, butA unfortunately it”s also usually one of the first things to get overlooked when life gets hectic and busy. Take a look at these facts and before deciding to pull another all-nighter. It just isn”t worth it.


(H/T: Time.) Share the sleep wisdom by clicking on the button below. Something as simple at staying up late on weekends may be worse for you than you realize!



It Looks Freaky, But It’s A Scientific Breakthrough You’ll Want To See Yourself

Night vision is not something humans are capable of on their own. Cats, dogs, and other animals are capable of seeing in the dark, thanks to a membrane over their eyes called the tapetum lucidum. This membrane helps increase the light available to photoreceptors. It is also responsible for the greenish amber shimmering effect on the eyes of cats and dogs, known as “eyeshine.”

Humans don”t have the membrane, though, and that”s why we have to rely on things like night vision technology to navigate dark areas. However, thanks to our ever-expanding abilities in the field of science, giving people the gift of night vision might actually become a reality, although it won”t give you a cool eyeshine.

Gabriel Licina is a biochemistry researcher with Science for the Masses, a research group. Here he is sitting with his eyes propped open, Clockwork Orange-style.

Gabriel Licina is a biochemistry researcher with <a href=

Science for the Masses has lately worked with a compound known as Chlorin e6, or Ce6 for short. The compound is found in deep-sea fish, who also need the ability to navigate the darkness. In humans, it”s used to treat some forms of blindness and some cancers. Research on the compound shows that it increases photosensitivity in animals. So what was the next step? Human trials, of course.

A low dose of the compound was dropped into Licina”s eyes. This picture looks a little gruesome, but that”s just a giant eyedropper. The result was a little less than pleasant for Licina, though. The compound causes the eyes to dilate rapidly. If you”ve ever had your pupils dilated at the doctor”s, you know it”s not a great feeling. This was like that, but multiplied by quite a bit.



No, those aren”t actually Licina”s pupilsthat would be physically impossible (unless you go the cosmetic route). He”s actually wearing protective contact lenses. His eyes are taking in so much light that without protection, seeing is actually painful in daylight.

Licina said the procedure did hurt, but he was willing to put up with it for science.

(via Science For The Masses, Distractify)

After around two hours and the setting of the sun, the team went into a dark field to test Licina”s vision, which worked better than ever. His big pupils were able to take in lots of light, or at least more than the average eye. He was able to pick out objects and people hidden in the darkness, and was able to correctly spot and count them each time. People in the control group of this experiment got this specific problem right about a third of the time.

The effects of Ce6 on Licina”s eyes were not permanent, though. By the next morning, his eyes were back to normal, and no lingering effects were noticed. The Ce6 compound is obviously not ready to be used for medicinal purposes, but the ability to increase someone”s sensitivity to light could improve human eyesight in the future. You can see more about the experiment on Science for the Masses” website.



10 Alternatives To The Conventional Big Bang Theory

10 Alternatives To The Conventional Big Bang Theory

Terry Pratchett described the conventional view of the creation of the universe like this: “In the beginning there was nothing, which exploded.” The current mainstream view of cosmology is of an expanding universe that originated from the big bang, which is well-supported by evidence in the form of cosmic background radiation and the shift of distant light toward the red end of the spectrum, suggesting that the universe is steadily expanding.

However, not everyone is convinced. Over the years, various alternative and varying views of cosmology have been presented. Some are interesting speculations that remain sadly unverifiable with our current evidence or technology. Others are misguided flights of fantasy, rebelling against the insufferable way that the universe appears to defy human notions of common sense.

10 Steady State

According to a recently recovered manuscript by Albert Einstein, the great scientist paid credence to British astrophysicist Fred Hoyle’s theory that space could continue expanding indefinitely while maintaining a consistent density if new matter was constantly introduced by spontaneous generation. For decades, many considered Hoyle a crank, but the document suggests that Einstein at least gave the ideas serious consideration.

The steady state theory was proposed in 1948 by Hermann Bondi, Thomas Gold, and Fred Hoyle. It was derived from the perfect cosmological principle, which states that the universe looks essentially the same from every location within it at all times (in a macroscopic sense). This was philosophically appealing, as it suggested that the universe has no beginning or end. The theory was popularly accepted by many in the 1950s and 1960s. When faced with evidence that the universe was expanding, proponents suggested that there was new matter being created spontaneously at a constant but minute rate — a few atoms per cubic mile per year.

The observation of quasars in distant (and thereby older, from our point of view) galaxies that did not exist in our stellar region dampened enthusiasm for the theory, and it was finally debunked when scientists learned of cosmic background radiation. However, while Hoyle was promoting his favored theory, he did a series of studies that proved how atoms heavier than helium had appeared within the universe. (They were created by the high temperature and pressure of the first stars undergoing their life cycle.) He also, ironically, was the one who coined the term “big bang.”

9 Tired Light

Tired Light
Edwin Hubble observed that wavelengths of light from distant galaxies shifted toward the red end of the spectrum compared to light emitted by nearby stellar bodies, suggesting that the photons had lost energy somehow. This “redshift” is generally explained in the context of a post–big bang expansion as being a function of the Doppler effect. Proponents of steady state models of the universe instead suggested that photons of light lost energy gradually as they traveled through space, moving to the longer wavelength, less energetic red end of the spectrum. This theory was first proposed by Fritz Zwicky in 1929.

There are a variety of problems with tired light. First, there is no way that a photon’s energy could be changed without also changing its momentum, which would result in a blurring effect that we don’t observe. Second, it does not explain the observed patterns of light emission from supernovae, which instead more closely match the models for an expanding universe with special relativity causing time dilation. Finally, most models for the tired light theory are based on a non-expanding universe, but that would lead to a background radiation spectrum that doesn’t match our observations. By the numbers, if the tired light hypothesis were correct, all of our observed cosmic background radiation would have to come from sources that are closer to us than the Andromeda Galaxy M31 (our closest neighbor galaxy), and anything beyond that would be invisible to us.

8 Eternal Inflation

Most modern models of the early universe posit a short period of exponential growth (known as inflation) caused by vacuum energy, in which neighboring particles rapidly found themselves separated by vast regions of space. After this inflation, the vacuum energy decayed into a hot plasma soup that eventually formed atoms, molecules, and so on. In eternal inflation theory, this process of inflation never ended. Instead, bubbles of space would have stopped inflating and entered a low-energy state and then expanded into the inflating interior. These bubbles would have been like bubbles of steam in a boiling pot of water, except in this analogy, the pot is always getting bigger.

In this theory, our universe is one bubble among many in a multiverse characterized by continuous inflation. One aspect of this theory that may be testable is the notion that two universes that are close enough to meet with each other would cause disruptions in the space-time of each universe. The best support for this theory would be evidence of such a disruption found in cosmic background radiation.

The first inflationary model was proposed by Soviet scientist Alexei Starobinksy but was made famous in the West by physicist Alan Guth, who theorized that the early universe might have supercooled to allow for exponential growth before the big bang. Andrei Linde took these theories and developed them into his “eternal chaotic expansion” theory, which suggested that rather than requiring a big bang, given the right potential energy, expansion can happen from any point in scalar space and was happening constantly throughout the multiverse.

According to Linde: “Instead of a universe with a single law of physics, eternal chaotic inflation predicts a self-reproducing, eternally existing multiverse where all possibilities can be realized.”

7 4-D Black Hole Mirage

The standard model for the big bang states that the universe exploded out of an infinitely dense singularity, but that makes it hard to explain why it has an almost uniform temperature, given the short time (cosmically speaking) that has passed since that violent event. Some believe that this can be explained by an unknown form of energy that made the universe expand faster than the speed of light. A team of physicists from the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics proposed that the universe may in fact be a 3-D mirage generated at the event horizon of a four-dimensional star collapsing into a black hole.

Niayesh Afshordi and his colleagues were looking at 2000 proposal by a team at Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich stating that our universe was only one membrane existing within a “bulk universe” that has four dimensions. They realized that if this bulk universe also contained 4-D stars, they may behave similarly to their 3-D counterparts in our universe — exploding into supernovae and collapsing into black holes.

Three-dimensional black holes are surrounded by a spherical surface called an event horizon. While the surface of a 3-D black hole’s event horizon surface is two-dimensional, the shape of a 4-D black hole’s event horizon would be three-dimensional — a hypersphere. When Afshordi’s team modeled a 4-D star’s death, they found that the ejected material formed a 3-D brane (membrane) around the event horizon and slowly expanded. They then suggested that our universe may in fact be merely the mirage formed from the wreckage of the outer layers of a four-dimensional collapsing star.

As the 4-D bulk universe may be much older, or even infinitely old, this explains the uniform temperature that we observe in our universe, though some recent data suggests there might be discrepancies that fit the conventional model better.

6 Mirror Universe

One knotty problem for physics is that almost all accepted models, including gravitation, electrodynamics, and relativity, work equally well at describing the universe, regardless of whether time is going forward or backward. In the real world, we know that time only goes in one direction, and the standard explanation for this is that our perception of time is merely a product of entropy, in which order dissolves into disorder. The problem with this theory is that it suggests that our universe began in a high state of order and a low state of entropy. Many scientists are unsatisfied with the notion of a low-entropy early universe fixing the direction of time.

Julian Barbour of the University of Oxford, Tim Koslowski of the University of New Brunswick, and Flavio Mercati of the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics have developed a theory suggesting that gravity caused the direction of time to flow forward. They studied a computer simulation of 1,000 point-like particles interacting with each other, influenced by Newtonian gravity. They found that regardless of their size or amount, the particles would eventually form into a low-complexity state of minimum size and maximum density. Then, the system of particles would expand in both directions, creating two symmetric and opposing “arrows of time” and creating more ordered and complex structures on two paths.

This would suggest that the big bang caused the creation of not one but two universes, each of which has time running in the opposite direction of the other. According to Barbour:

This two-futures situation would exhibit a single, chaotic past in both directions, meaning that there would be essentially two universes, one on either side of this central state. If they were complicated enough, both sides could sustain observers who would perceive time going in opposite directions. Any intelligent beings there would define their arrow of time as moving away from this central state. They would think we now live in their deepest past.

5 Conformal Cyclic Cosmology

Sir Roger Penrose, a physicist from Oxford University, holds that the big bang was not the beginning of the universe but merely a transition as it goes through cycles of expansion and contraction. Penrose suggested that the geometry of space changes over time and becomes more tangled, as described by a mathematical object called the Weyl curvature tensor, which starts at zero and grows larger over time. He believes that black holes act to reduce entropy in the universe and that as the universe reaches the end of its expansion, black holes will gobble up the remaining matter and energy and eventually each other. As matter decays and the black holes lose their energy through Hawking radiation, space becomes uniform and filled with useless energy.

This introduces a concept called conformal invariance, a symmetry of geometries with different scales but the same shape. As the universe would no longer ostensibly identify to conditions at its beginning, Penrose argues that a conformal transformation would cause the geometry of space to smooth out and the degraded particles to revert to a zero-entropy state. The universe would then collapse in upon itself, ready to trigger a new big bang. This would mean that the universe is characterized by a repetitive process of expansion and contraction, which Penrose divides into periods called “aeons.”

Penrose and his partner, Vahe Gurzadyan from the Yerevan Physics Institute in Armenia, collected NASA satellite data on cosmic background radiation and claimed to have found 12 clear concentric rings in the data, which they believe to be evidence of gravitational waves caused by supermassive black holes colliding at the end of the previous aeon. This is the main evidence for the theory of conformal cyclic cosmology.

4 Cold Big Bang And Contracting Universe

Cold Universe
The standard model of the big bang posits that after all matter exploded out of a singularity, it ballooned into a hot and dense universe and then began to slowly expand for billions of years. The singularity poses some problems when trying to fit with the theory of general relativity and quantum mechanics, so cosmologist Christoff Wetterich from the University of Heidelberg instead argues the universe may have begun as a cold and largely empty place which has only become more active because it is contracting, rather than expanding as in the standard model.

In this model, the redshift observed by astronomers may be caused by an increase in the mass of the universe as it contracts. Light emitted from atoms is determined by the mass of particles, with more energy appearing as light moving toward the blue spectrum and less energy moving toward light in the red spectrum.

The main problem with Wetterich’s theory is that it’s impossible to prove through measurement, as we can only compare ratio of different masses, not the masses themselves. One physicist complained that the model is like arguing that instead of the universe expanding, the ruler we are measuring it with is shrinking. Wetterich has said that he does not consider his theory a replacement for the big bang; he merely notes that it is just as consistent with all known observations of the universe and may be a more “natural” explanation.

3 Living Universe

Jim Carter is an amateur scientist who developed a personal theory about the universe based on eternal hierarchies of “circlons,” which are hypothetical circular mechanical objects. He believes that the entire history of the universe can be explained as generations of circlons emerging through reproduction and fission processes. He came up with the concept after observing a perfect ring of bubbles emerging from his breathing apparatus while diving for abalone in the 1970s and refined his theories with experiments involving controlled smoke rings made using garbage cans and rubber sheeting, which he believes are physical manifestations of a process called circlon synchronicity.

Carter believes that circlon synchronicity forms a better explanation for the creation of the universe than does the big bang theory. His living universe theory posits that at least one hydrogen atom has always existed. In the beginning, a single atom of antihydrogen floated in a three-dimensional void. The particle had the same mass as our entire present universe and was composed of a positively charged proton and a negatively charged antiproton. The universe was in complete, perfect duality, but the negative antiproton was gravitationally expanding slightly faster than the positive proton, causing it to lose relative mass. They then grew closer together until the negative particle absorbed the positive, and they formed the antineutron.

The antineutron was also unbalanced in mass but eventually moved back into an equilibrium which would cause it to split into two new particle-antiparticle neutrons. This process caused exponentially increasing numbers of neutrons to form, some of which didn’t split but rather annihilated themselves into photons, which became the basis of cosmic rays. Eventually, the universe became a mass of stable neutrons, which existed for a time before decaying and allowing electrons to couple with protons for the first time, forming the first hydrogen atoms and eventually filling the universe with electrons and protons violently interacting to form the elements. After a period called “The Era of the Great Frozen Fire,” we got the formation of stars, planets, and consciousness.

Most physicists consider Carter’s ideas to be misguided speculations that do not stand up to the rigor of empirical inquiry. Indeed, Carter’s experiments with smoke rings were used as evidence for the now-discredited ether theory 13 years ago.

2 Plasma Universe

Electric Plasma
While standard cosmology holds gravity as the main guiding force, plasma cosmology, or the electric universe theory, instead places a much greater emphasis on electromagnetism. One of the earliest proponents of this theory was Russian psychiatrist Immanuel Velikovsky, who wrote a 1946 paper on the subject entitled “Cosmos Without Gravitation,” which argued that gravity is an electromagnetic phenomenon arising from interaction between atomic charges, free charges, and the magnetic fields of suns and planets. These theories were developed further in the 1970s by Ralph Juergens, who argued that stars were powered by electrical rather than thermonuclear processes.

There are a variety of different iterations of the theory, but some elements are generally the same throughout. Plasma universe theories claim that the Sun and stars are electrically powered by drift currents, that some planetary surface features are caused by “super-lightning,” and that comet tails, Martian dust devils, and the formation of galaxies are all electrical processes. The theories claim that deep space is permeated with giant filaments of electrons and ions, which twist due to electromagnetic forces in space and create physical matter like galaxies. Plasma cosmologists assume that the universe is infinite in both size and age, which has limited its usefulness to creationists despite its opposition to big bang cosmology.

One of the most influential books on the subject is The Big Bang Never Happened, written by Eric J. Lerner in 1991. He argues that the big bang theory incorrectly predicts the density of light elements like deuterium, lithium-7, and helium-4, that the voids between galaxies are too vast to be explained with a post–big bang time frame, and that the surface brightness of distant galaxies has been observed as constant, whereas in an expanding universe, the brightness should decrease with distance due to redshift. He also claims that the big bang theory requires too many hypotheticals (inflation, dark matter, and dark energy) and violates the law of conservation of energy, as it has the universe emerging out of nothing.

By contrast, he argues, plasma theory correctly predicts the abundance of light elements, the macroscopic structure of the universe, and the absorption of radio waves being the cause of cosmic background radiation. Many cosmologists argue that Lerner’s criticisms of big bang cosmology are based on notions that were known to be incorrect when he wrote the book, and his explanations of observations that back up big bang cosmology cause more problems than they can solve.

1 Bindu-Vipshot

We’ve avoided religious or mythological creation stories for the origin of the universe so far, but we can make an exception for Hindu creation stories, which can be reconciled with scientific theories with an ease that escapes most other religious cosmologies. Carl Sagan once said, “It is the only religion in which the time scales correspond to those of modern scientific cosmology. Its cycles run from our ordinary day and night to a day and night of Brahma, 8.64 billion years long. Longer than the age of the Earth or the Sun and about half the time since the Big Bang.”

The closest traditional concept to the big bang theory of the universe can be found in the Hindu concept of bindu-vipshot, which means “point-explosion” in Sanskrit. The Vedic hymns of ancient India held that the bindu-vipshot produced the sound waves of the syllable “om,” which stands for Brahman, the Ultimate Reality, or Godhead. The word “Brahman” comes from the Sanskrit root brh, meaning “grow big,” which has some link to the big bang, as they do with the scripture title Shabda Brahman, which might be linked to sphota, or “explosion.” The primal sound “om” has been interpreted as the vibration of the big bang detected by astronomers in the form of background cosmic radiation.

The Upanishads explain the big bang as the one (Brahman) wishing to become many, which he achieved through the big bang with an expression of will. Creation is occasionally depicted as lila, or “divine play,” with the implication that the universe was created as part of a game, and launching the big bang was part of that. No game is fun when the omniscient player knows exactly how it’s going to go.

David Tormsen believes that the concentric circles in cosmic background radiation are clear evidence we live inside the world-tree Yggdrasil. Email him at tormentedsentences@oath.com.



10 Good Luck Charms And Their Origins

10 Good Luck Charms And Their Origins

Most people have probably had some sort of an experience with a good luck charm, whether it was a penny, rabbit’s foot, four leaf clover, or some other object. Obviously, there is no scientific evidence for these items working. So if you still have bad luck, don’t blame us.



Photo credit: Man vyi

The first horseshoes ever found are from the Etruscans in 400 BC. When the superstition was first introduced in northern Europe, most likely by wandering Celtic tribes, horseshoes were hung from above the doorway in an effort to ward off evil fairy folk who wandered the forests. They were also made of iron, which was considered lucky as well. (The fairy folk were also said to be afraid of the weapons of their enemies, which just happened to be made of iron.)

The shoes were said to resemble the Celtic moon god’s crescent symbol. Depending on the source, horseshoes hung with the two ends pointed up collect the luck like a bowl, while horseshoes hung with the two ends pointed down spill out their luck on those who walk underneath it. Another traditional aspect said to provide luck was that they were usually held up by seven iron nails — which, as we’ll see later on, is often seen as an important number.

9Knocking On Wood

The act of knocking on wood does not have a clear origin. Most likely because ancient pagans used to have a lot of spirits who called the forests home, knocking on wood can be seen as a ward against evil or a plea from a deity for favor. It might also have something to do with ancient pagans making a lot of noise when chasing away evil spirits or trying to prevent them from hearing about (and then ruining) someone’s good luck.

Knocking came about before the 19th century but really caught on because many games played by children involved the action. By the 20th century, the superstition had become as widespread as it is today.

8The Number 7


Photo credit: Wikimedia

There are many numbers that are considered lucky, but the highest of them all is 7. Considered lucky because of its connection to nearly every religion, 7 is especially precious to Jews (where the practice most likely originated) and Christians because it is seen as a divine number of sorts. There are seven different levels of heaven, and there were seven days in God’s first week.

The number also features prominently in several myths around the world. In ancient Egypt, there were seven paths to heaven. However, in China, 7 is considered unlucky, as it is associated with death, and they prefer the number 8, as it rhymes with the word for prosperity or wealth.

7Fortune Cookie


Photo credit: Mu/Wikimedia

Many people believe that fortune cookies are of Chinese origin, as they are extremely common in Chinese restaurants around the world. They are also said to bring good luck in the form of paper fortunes hidden inside the cookie. However, that is not the case. They were invented in 1914 by a Japanese man named Makoto Hagiwara in San Francisco. (Some erroneously believe it was a Chinese-American by the name of David Jung, but Hagiwara’s were created first.)

The cookies themselves are most likely derived from Japanese fortune crackers, known as tsujiura senbei. These rice cakes with paper fortunes stuffed inside were made at a Japanese shrine in the 19th century. As for the jump to Chinese restaurants, many Japanese immigrants living in California in the early 20th century owned places that served Americanized Chinese food, as their traditional fare didn’t seem to go over well.



Photo credit: Teogomez/Wikimedia

A staple of the West African Vodun religion, as well as traditional voodoo beliefs in the Americas, the gris-gris (pronounced “gree-gree”) is a lucky bag with several interesting benefits. Men traditionally wear them around their neck, whereas women either pin them to their bra or inside their blouse. Mostly used as a good luck charm, it can also ward off evil. In the case of some West African countries, it is seen as an effective form of birth control.

Its first use was by the people of Mali, who inscribed Islamic verses on it either just before or just after they came in contact with Muslim missionaries beginning to spread their new religion. Depending on what is placed inside the pouch, the gris-gris can also be used as a form of black magic. Common ingredients in a gris-gris are herbs with purported magical qualities and dead animal parts.

5Jin Chan


Photo credit: Tristanb/Wikimedia

Known as the “money toad,” the Jin Chan, or Ch’an Chu, is a red-eyed, three-legged bullfrog, usually sitting on a sloppy pile of coins. Originating in China thousands of years ago, the Jin Chan is a common charm in Chinese culture, especially in relation to Feng Shui, though its use as a wealth charm developed much more recently, possibly as late as the 16th or 17th century. However, it may be related to an ancient myth about a moon toad who became the essence of the Moon.

It is said to bring good luck, mostly in the form of monetary gains, and its statues are often depicted with coins in their mouths. (If the frog doesn’t have one, it needs to be pointed away from the house or it will suck the money out of the house.) It’s also often seen in the company of the Daoist figure Liu Hai, who later became the God of Wealth.



Photo credit: Immanuel Giel

Literally translated as “the beckoning cat,” a maneki-neko is a Japanese good luck charm in the form of a cat with its paw raised. Originating in Japan sometime between the 16th and 18th centuries, a maneki-neko is usually placed in shop windows or storefronts because it is said to bring business and prosperity. Many of them are also depicted with coins in their paws.

The classic mythical origin of the maneki-neko is that a downtrodden businessman happened upon a starving cat. Even though he had no money, he nursed it back to health, and his business picked up shortly after because the cat would sit in front of his store and wave at passers-by. Various superstitions arise when describing the elements. For example, when the left paw is raised, it usually means fortune is the purpose, and when the right paw is raised, it means health is what the owner is after.

3Kachina Dolls


Photo credit: Grombo/Wikimedia

Used by the Hopi people of North America, kachina dolls have been around since the late 18th century. They represent any one of the hundreds of spirits that are said to interact with the tribe. Traditionally carved from the roots of cottonwood trees, they are often decorated based on their purpose with necklaces, bracelets or even knives.

Starting when they are one, Hopi girls are given two dolls each year. In addition to being an educational tool for young girls to learn about their culture, kachina dolls are also said to bring good luck to those families which make them, protecting them from evil and disaster.



Photo credit: obviousmag.org

A Portuguese word meaning “scowl”, a carranca is a statue, normally carved out of wood, which is placed at the front of a boat. Its primary function is to protect the boat from evil spirits that would try to enter it or capsize it. Some legends say they were also able to emit a low groan, warning the crew of approaching danger.

Coming from the Rio Sao Francisco in Brazil, carrancas were first used in the latter half of the 18th century. Though not used much today, other than to sell for tourists, they were commonly depicted with frightening faces, which were said to scare the creatures of the river.

1Palad Khik

The strangest one on this list, a palad khik is a Thai amulet used for good luck. Since it translates as “honorable surrogate penis,” it should be obvious what it’s shaped like. Originally created by the Indian people, it was imported to Thailand in the eighth century by monks and took on its current use. In fact, the earliest examples often feature praises to Shiva.

A palad khik is said to grant virtually any benefit desired, but it is mainly used to keep harm from befalling one’s actual genitals. They range in size, and some can even reach a length of a few feet.

+ Further Reading

If you want some more luck in your day, get started by reading these lists from the archives:

10 Charms And Talismans With Unsettling Histories
10 Elaborate Superstitions From Unlikely Places
10 Famous People Who Avoided Death on 9/11
10 Gamblers Who Beat The Casino



Images Scientists Captured In Deep, DEEP Space Will Make You Feel Terrifyingly Tiny

It”s human nature to think that we are the center of the universe. While it would be great if that were true, it”s sadly not the case. In the grand scheme of things, we humans barely even register. From any great distance, it would be impossible to pick out our sun from among the billions upon billions of stars in our galaxy and the universe at large.

Many folks find humanity”s cosmic insignificance to be pretty terrifying, but contemplating that insignificance every once in a while is actually beneficial to one”s worldview. Try it out as you look at these photos of the wonderful, vast, and terrifying universe above you.

1. The Hubble Ultra-Deep Field photograph. Every point of light you see here is a galaxy as massive and diverse as our own Milky Way.

The Hubble Ultra-Deep Field photograph. Every point of light you see here is a galaxy as massive and diverse as our own Milky Way.

2. This is a cluster of five galaxies known as Stephan”s Quintet, or the Hickson Compact Group 92.

This is a cluster of five galaxies known as Stephan

And just a reminder…this is how big YOU are. (Well, how big Earth is.)

And just a reminder...this is how big YOU are. (Well, how big Earth is.)

…compared to the sun…

...compared to the sun...

…and to other suns…

...and to other suns...

Yeah. You are TINY.

That comparison is what makes these images so stunning. Each of these itty bitty dots are gigantic galaxies that are in an even gigantic-er universe. (Feel small yet?)

3. The great clouds of the Carina Nebula.

The great clouds of the Carina Nebula.

4. The extremely hot remains of a supernova from 20,000 years ago. That ring is about a light-year across.

The extremely hot remains of a supernova from 20,000 years ago. That ring is about a light-year across.

5. The purple area here highlights the distribution of dark energy in this galaxy cluster.

The purple area here highlights the distribution of dark energy in this galaxy cluster.

6. Inside this breathtaking nebula 7,500 light-years away, dozens of new stars are being born.

Inside this breathtaking nebula 7,500 light-years away, dozens of new stars are being born.

7. Meet galaxy NGC 2841.

Meet galaxy NGC 2841.

8. You”re viewing one of the oldest galaxies in the universe. Its stars formed about 200 million years after the Big Bang.


9. These two neighboring galaxies look a bit like a rose because of the gravitational forces acting on them.

These two neighboring galaxies look a bit like a rose because of the gravitational forces acting on them.

10. Our own sun throwing off a powerful flare.

Our own sun throwing off a powerful flare.

11. 11.5 million light-years away are these beautiful remnants of a supernova in the M82 galaxy.

11.5 million light-years away are these beautiful remnants of a supernova in the M82 galaxy.

12. This supernova was a little closer to home, only 150,000 light-years away. One day our sun will suffer a similar fate.

This supernova was a little closer to home, only 150,000 light-years away. One day our sun will suffer a similar fate.

13. See that bright spot? That”s the beginning of what will eventually become a massive galaxy. The light it”s giving off is as bright as a million stars.

See that bright spot? That

14. This massive black hole is located in the center of one of the smallest galaxies ever discovered.

This massive black hole is located in the center of one of the smallest galaxies ever discovered.

15. This picture shows a giant cluster of 3,000 young stars named Westerlund 2.

This picture shows a giant cluster of 3,000 young stars named Westerlund 2.

The way I see it, contemplating our insignificance in the universe isn”t about realizing how much we don”t matter. Instead, it”s a study in understanding that life and its meaning are what you make it.

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