Archive for February, 2014

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and The Case of The Cottingley Fairies

Happy Valentines Day dear readers. Here is a beautiful piece from The Public Domain Review




Sir Arthur and the Fairies


In the spring of 1920, at the beginning of a growing fascination with spiritualism brought on by the death of his son and brother in WWI, Arthur Conan Doyle took up the case of the Cottingley Fairies. Mary Losure explores how the creator of Sherlock Holmes became convinced that the ‘fairy photographs’ taken by two girls from Yorkshire were real.


“In the winter of 1920, readers of the popular British magazine the Strand found a curious headline on the cover of their Christmas issues. “FAIRIES PHOTOGRAPHED,” it said. “AN EPOCH-MAKING EVENT DESCRIBED BY A. CONAN DOYLE.” The Strand’s readership was well acquainted with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle; most of his wildly popular Sherlock Holmes stories had appeared for the first time in its pages. The great man’s claim that fairies –real fairies – had been photographed in the north of England by two young girls was greeted with wonder, but unfortunately for Conan Doyle, most of it was of the “what can he be thinking?” variety. How could the creator of the world’s most famous, least-fool-able detective have convinced himself that “fairy” photographs were real? Let us proceed, Holmes-like, to examine the question.



Mistake Number One: Misinterpreting the Evidence


To his credit, Conan Doyle made what was (to him) a thorough, scientific, step- by- step investigation of the “fairy” photographs. For his first step, he consulted experts at the London offices of the George Eastman Kodak Company. They examined prints of the first two “fairy” photos and told Conan Doyle they could find no evidence of photo-doctoring; still, they insisted someone who knew enough about photography could have faked them. In Conan Doyle’s mind, that ruled out the two Yorkshire village girls who had taken the photographs, Elsie Wright and Frances Griffiths…”


For the rest, and more photographs, click here.



The Voynich Manuscript Finally Surrenders a Clue

The Voynich manuscript continues to be one of the most fascinating and mysterious objects on earth. No one has ever been able to decipher it, but it looks as if there may be some new theories about its origins.


Mexican plants could break code on Voynich manuscript

by Lisa Grossman (New Scientist)


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“A mysterious manuscript that appears to be written in gibberish may actually be in an extinct dialect of the Mexican language Nahuatl. Illustrations of plants in the manuscript have been linked to plants native to Central America for the first time, suggesting a new origin for the text. But some still say it could be a hoax.


The Voynich manuscript has puzzled researchers since book dealer Wilfrid Voynich found it in an Italian monastery in 1912.


Among hundreds of pages of so-far undecipherable text, it includes illustrations of naked nymphs, astrological diagrams and drawings of plants that no one has been able to identify.


An academic war has raged for years between those who think the manuscript contains a real language that could eventually be decoded, and those who think it was a clever forgery designed to dupe book collectors.


“It’s a battle with two sides,” says Alain Touwaide, a historian of botany at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC. …”


For the rest, click here.



The Unclaimed Baggage Center, In A Twilight Zone Near You?

There’s something about second hand finds that are exhilarating – but what if those bargain treasures were available to you as a direct result of someone else’s misfortune? Lost airline baggage, for example, which then becomes  eternally unclaimed luggage on a carousel far, far away. If you’ve ever had the displeasure of such a baggage tragedy, you will know that it is pretty much the most irritating thing a traveler can experience other than the stomach flu.


It may seem like a destination on the way to the Twilight Zone, but the Unclaimed Baggage Center is very, very real and it resides in the deep South –


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“A bride-to-be slides out of the passenger side of her mama’s car, right next to the businessman who needs gear for his hike on the Appalachian Trail. Across the parking lot, a burst of laughter erupts from a mini-van of women stretching their legs and hedging their bets on the best bargain of the day.


It’s another day at Unclaimed Baggage Center…”


Find out more about this mysterious place, here.


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