Where is the Colossus of Rhodes?

The Colossus of Rhodes was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.  At over 100 feet tall, it stood far higher than any other statue of its time.  Mysteriously, this behemoth disappeared over a thousand years ago and has been missing ever since.  So, what happened to it?

The Colossus of Rhodes?

Rhodes was a powerhouse of the ancient world.  After the death of Alexander the Great, it joined forces with Ptolemaic Egypt to control trade in the eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea.  Unhappy with the situation, King Antigonus I Monophthalmus of Cyprus ordered his son to invade Rhodes.  The invasion was turned back.  A subsequent siege also failed and the Cyprus army was forced to flee, leaving behind most of its equipment.  The leaders of Rhodes decided to celebrate the victory by constructing a mammoth statue dedicated to Helios, the god of the sun.

In 292 BC, the sculptor Chares began work on the statue.  He used iron tie bars as framework and giant plates of brass as skin.  The Colossus of Rhodes was completed in 280 BC (Chares is believed to have committed suicide shortly before it was finished).  It stood close to one hundred and ten feet tall and with the addition of at least one fifty foot high marble pedestal, it reached over one hundred and sixty feet into the sky.

There is some confusion regarding the location of the statue.  Medieval historians believed that it straddled the harbor with each foot resting on a giant pillar.  However, modern archaeologists and engineers consider this unrealistic, since it would’ve been structurally unsound and forced a long-term closure of the port.  Instead, they believe that the Colossus of Rhodes rested on a single pedestal or on a hill overlooking the area.

The Collapse of the Colossus of Rhodes?

In 226 BC, a giant earthquake struck Rhodes, wreaking havoc on the city.  And after just 56 years, the mighty Colossus of Rhodes broke at the knees.  Afterwards, the ruins lay on the ground for over 800 years, becoming a tourist attraction in their own right.  In 654 AD, a Muslim leader named Muawiyah I conquered Rhodes.  Supposedly, he sold the ruins to a Jewish merchant who broke them down and transported them back to his home via camel.  However, this may be nothing more than a metaphor.

And a great number of men hauled on strong ropes which were tied round the brass Colossus which was in the city and pulled it down. And they weighed from it three thousand loads of Corinthian brass, and they sold it to a certain Jew from Emesa – Barhebraeus, 13th Century

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

So where is the Colossus of Rhodes today? If we are to believe the stories, then the Colossus is gone, melted down and repurposed.  However, in 2008, German archaeologist Ursula Vedder proposed an alternative explanation.  She suggested that the Colossus of Rhodes had originally rested at the top of the Acropolis of Rhodes which sits on a hill overlooking the port.  There is a large rock base in the area, situated between a recently discovered stadium and racetrack.  If Vedder is correct, then the mystery of the lost Colossus may eventually be solved.  For all we know, the giant statue might be lying near these other ruins, buried deep in the sand, waiting for a team of explorers to unearth it.

Who Discovered Machu Picchu?

Although constructed around 1450, the spectacular city of Machu Picchu remained unknown to the outside world until it was discovered by Hiram Bingham in 1911. But did he really discover Machu Picchu? Or did someone else beat him to it?

Hiram Bingham’s Expedition to Machu Picchu

Situated almost 8,000 feet above sea level, Machu Picchu towers over Peru’s Urubamba Valley. Its exact purpose remains unknown although modern researchers believe it was a royal estate for Pachacuti, the ninth Sapa Inca, or king, of the Kingdom of Cusco.

In 1911, historian/treasure hunter Hiram Bingham led the Yale Peruvian Expedition into the Andes. A few days later, on July 24, he “discovered” Machu Picchu thanks to a young local boy named Pablito Alvarez. At the time, other locals resided in the ruins. Bingham is rightly recognized as the explorer that brought world attention to Machu Picchu. But was he the first outsider to lay eyes on the ruins?

Other Claims to Machu Picchu’s “Discovery”?

As soon as Bingham’s discovery went public, other people came forward to dispute his claim. A missionary named Thomas Payne claimed to have found the ruins in 1906 with the help of Stuart McNairn. He even said that he told Bingham about Machu Picchu in the first place. Another early claimant was a German engineer named J.M. von Hassel.

More recently, Peruvian historians have gathered evidence pointing to a German adventurer named Augusto Berns. In the 1860’s, Berns purchased land near Machu Picchu and secured permission from Peru’s government to prospect it for gold and silver. In the process, he supposedly plundered a series of old Incan sites.

The question of who reached the site first is not just an academic one. The stakes are high and future revelations may impact the destination of 40,000 artifacts that currently reside at Yale University.

Who owns Yale’s Machu Picchu Artifacts?

An 1887 prospecting authorization given to Berns indicates that Peru held national sovereignty over the area prior to Bingham’s arrival. They are using this to help lay claim to Yale’s artifacts. Yale’s lawyers counter that if Berns reached the site first, it stands to reason that he removed the most important artifacts. Thus, they don’t feel that the artifacts in their possession are unique or important enough to require their return to Peru. Adding to the drama, property records show that local families owned Machu Picchu before Bingham arrived. Their descendants are seeking compensation for loss of property.

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

I’d be surprised if Bingham was the first outsider to ever set eyes upon Machu Picchu. But as far as I can tell, there is no solid evidence to support any of the other claims. New evidence will continue to emerge however, so anything is possible. But regardless, Hiram Bingham will always be remembered as the man who shone public light on the fabulous ruins known as Machu Picchu.

“In the variety of its charms and the power of its spell, I know of no place in the world which can compare with it. Not only has it great snow peaks looming above the clouds more than two miles overhead, gigantic precipices of many-colored granite rising sheer for thousands of feet above the foaming, glistening, roaring rapids; it has also, in striking contrast, orchids and tree ferns, the delectable beauty of luxurious vegetation, and the mysterious witchery of the jungle.” ~ Hiram Bingham, 1922

Where is the Valhalla Sea Serpent?

In 1905, Edmund Meade-Waldo and Michael Nicoll spotted a sea serpent off the coast of Brazil. What makes this encounter unique amongst sea monster sightings was that both men were trained, respected zoologists. So, what did they see?  And is it possible that the Valhalla sea serpent actually exists?

The Valhalla Sea Serpent?

At approximately 10:00 AM on December 7, 1905, Edmund Meade-Waldo and Michael Nicoll were conducting a scientific expedition aboard the Valhalla, fourteen miles off of Brazil’s northeast coast. Both men were Fellows of the Zoological Society of London, with particular expertise in the field of birds.

I saw a large fin or frill sticking out of the water, dark seaweed-brown in color, somewhat crinkled at the edge. It was apparently about 6 feet in length, and projected from 18 inches to 2 feet from the water. – Edmund Meade-Waldo

Meade-Waldo went on to report that the creature’s head and neck rose seven or eight feet out of the water. Its head “had a very turtle-like appearance” and along with its neck, was colored dark brown on top and white towards the bottom. Nicoll added that the neck was about six feet long and wriggled as it moved. He saw a large brownish-black patch beneath the surface of the water, but was unable to distinguish its shape. The fin, he thought, looked like a large piece of ribbon seaweed. A few years later, Nicoll reported in his book, Three Voyages of a Naturalist, that “this creature was an example, I consider, of what has been so often reported, for want of a better name, as the ‘great sea serpent’.”

But was the Valhalla Sea Serpent really a Sea Serpent?

A few minutes later, the Valhalla sea serpent was gone. Interestingly enough, Nicoll was convinced that the so-called Valhalla sea serpent wasn’t a serpent at all, but a a mammal. The Valhalla incident is, along with the Daedalus sea serpent incident, one of the most credible accounts in history of a “sea serpent.” And indeed, Meade-Waldo later commented that the creature he saw “might easily be the same.”

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

To my knowledge, no one has ever called their observations into question. While the evidence is meager and incomplete, it is also difficult to refute. If these two respected zoologists were correct in their observations, its entirely possible that the world’s oceans hold at least one more mammoth creature waiting to be discovered.

Did the U.S. test a nuke…on its own citizens?

On July 17, 1944, the Port Chicago Pier exploded into a tremendous fireball. Hundreds died instantly, hundreds more were injured by the blast. Over sixty years later, it remains one of the deadliest disasters in U.S. history. The official explanation is that it was caused by an accidental munition detonation. However, not everyone is convinced. Some point to a far darker conclusion…that the blast was caused by an atomic bomb.

The Port Chicago Pier Explosion?

In 1944, Port Chicago Naval Magazine, now known as the Concord Naval Weapons Station, was a munitions depot in California. It was used to transport bombs, shells, torpedoes, and other explosives to units fighting against Japan. On July 13, the SS E.A. Bryan docked at Port Chicago’s lone pier. After four days of hard work, 40% of the ships’s holds were filled with 4,600 tons of explosives. Then, at 10:18 p.m., all hell broke loose.

An unusual noise described as a metallic sound and rending timbers, such as made by a falling boom, was heard coming from the direction of the pier immediately before the first flash.

A few seconds later, the SS E. A. Bryan exploded into a fireball that measured three miles in diameter. Seismographs determined that this second explosion was equivalent to a 3.4 earthquake on the Richter scale. Three hundred and twenty people died instantly.  Three hundred and ninety others suffered blast-related injuries. The majority of these deaths and injuries occurred to African-Americans. A month later, survivors led a work stoppage, which is now known as the so-called Port Chicago Mutiny.

Did an Atomic Bomb cause the Port Chicago Pier Explosion?

At the time, the explosion was determined to have similar effects to that of a small atomic bomb. But for several decades, no one questioned the official story. Thirty-four years later however, that changed.

In 1980, Peter Vogel discovered some old documents at a rummage sale. They had been stolen from the Los Alamos Laboratories by Paul Masters, a photo technician. Some of the papers discussed the predictions for Trinity, which would end up being the first recorded test of a nuclear weapon in history. These documents predicted a “ball of fire mushroom out at 18,000 (feet) in typical Port Chicago fashion.” Intrigued by the possibility that the Port Chicago disaster was caused by an atomic bomb, Vogel began to gather some of the evidence listed below.

  1. Size of Blast: The blast seemed greater than what could’ve been caused by the official story.
  2. Bright Lights: Descriptions of the explosion refer to “an enormous blinding incandescent” and a “brilliant white.”  Conventional explosives generally do not give off a white color unless mixed with magnesium (which apparently weren’t present at the Pier).
  3. A Strange Cloud: A Wilson condensation cloud appeared after the disaster, similar to an atomic bomb detonated in a vapor-filled atmosphere.
  4. Speed of the Explosion: The seismograph records indicated a rapid explosion that seemed similar in nature to that of an atomic bomb.

Why would the U.S. Government Drop an Atomic Bomb on American Soil?

But why would the U.S. government test a nuclear weapon on its own people? Vogel and others like him believed that the Port Chicago disaster was perpetrated to allow scientists to study the effects of a nuclear explosion on people. In this case, those people included primarily low-ranking, African-American military personnel.

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

Obviously, this is an explosive charge, so to speak.  So, was Vogel right?  Did a small atomic bomb cause the Port Chicago disaster? Supporting evidence is skimpy at best. Most damning, there are no records of radiation-based injuries amongst the survivors or clean-up crew. That being said, the size and reach of the explosion is somewhat difficult to explain.

Overall, it seems highly unlikely that an atomic bomb caused this explosion. If one hopes to prove otherwise, they will need substantial, hard evidence…far more substantial than that accumulated by Vogel. After all, if he was correct, Port Chicago wasn’t just the site of an atomic bomb test…it was also the site of mass murder.

The Strange Case of President Zachary Taylor

Zachary Taylor is not exactly a household name.  He served as President of the United States for just sixteen months, from March 4, 1849 to July 9, 1850.  He is best known for his service as a former general in the Mexican-American War as well as his rather long nickname (“Old Rough and Ready”).  So, why does he matter today?  Because 161 years after he died, rumors persist that his death was no accident.  In fact, many believe that President Zachary Taylor was assassinated.

The Odd Death of Zachary Taylor

On July 4, 1850, President Taylor became overheated.  To alleviate his symptoms, he drank a pitcher of milk and ate both a bowl of cherries and several pickles.  Five days later, he died.  Almost immediately, rumors spread that he’d been poisoned.  However, for more than a century, historians blamed various ailments for his passing, including cholera, typhoid fever, and food poisoning.  Then, in the late 1980s, an author by the name of Professor Clara Rising decided to challenge established history.

The (Flawed) Exhumation?

Professor Rising theorized that unknown persons assassinated President Taylor via poison, specifically arsenic.  She convinced his distant relatives to exhume the body.  On June 17, 1991, his lead coffin was removed from the ground.  Soon after, Dr. George Nichols and Dr. William Maples discovered that Taylor’s remains were in remarkably good shape.  They proceeded to gather tissue samples.  Initial tests showed relatively high arsenic levels.  However, they were proclaimed too low to indicate a deliberate poisoning.

But the rumors didn’t end.  In 1999, Michael Parenti revisited the arsenic theory in his book History as Mystery and reported numerous flaws in the autopsy.  He also provided a convincing mass of circumstantial evidence that pointed to a poisoning.  For example, Zachary Taylor’s hair showed a suspicious amount of antimony, which is poisonous.  Also, the amount of arsenic revealed in a sectional analysis of his hair was similar to that of other poison victims.  And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Why would anyone assassinate Zachary Taylor?

One possible motive for assassination was the issue of slavery.  Although he owned slaves, President Taylor was considered a moderate on the issue.  As such, he didn’t support the Compromise of 1850, which required the return of runaway slaves.  Henry Clay, the bill’s author, attacked Taylor within the Senate.  Threats of secession rang out across the nation.  In response, Zachary Taylor threatened military action against the “traitors”.  Civil war seemed like a near certainty.  But President Taylor’s death paved the way for a temporary peace.  Also, it enabled Millard Fillmore, a known supporter of the Compromise, to take office.  Fillmore later passed a revised version of the Act.

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

President Taylor doesn’t seem all that important today.  However, if it weren’t for that fateful July 4, the name Zachary Taylor might have been etched indelibly into Civil War history, rather than that of Abraham Lincoln.  Evidence for an assassination is credible.  Also, numerous pro-slavery advocates, including many powerful ones, had strong motives to kill President Taylor.  Historical detectives need to revisit this case.  When they do, it’s quite possible that they’ll find that the first assassination in American history wasn’t of Abraham Lincoln but rather, of a little-known military hero named Zachary Taylor.

Are we Aliens?

The origin of life is a question that has baffled generations of scholars. However, the panspermia theory recently received a gigantic boost from NASA scientists. This theory proposes that life didn’t originate on earth…it came from outer space.

What is Panspermia?

Panspermia is the theory that extremely hardy forms of life, such as bacteria, exist on certain meteors and asteroids. If parts of these space rocks land on a suitable planet, the bacteria become active and begin an evolutionary process. While panspermia doesn’t address the origin of life, it suggests a mechanism for how it may spread throughout the universe.

Although panspermia isn’t a new theory, it’s gained recent attention thanks to the work of Sir Fred Hoyle and Chandra Wickramasinghe. Hoyle and Wickramasinghe also popularized the idea that new diseases and the genetic material needed for macroevolution continue to enter earth’s atmosphere on a regular basis. Still, their theories are generally viewed with skepticism by the scientific community. Now, thanks to NASA scientists, that might change.

New Evidence for Panspermia?

Yesterday, NASA announced that it has found evidence that “certain meteorites can carry DNA components created in space”. Scientists first discovered DNA components on space rocks in the 1960s. However, they were never certain about whether the components came from space or from earth contamination.

The most recent study looked at twelve carbon-rich meteorites, nine of which were found in Antarctica. Researchers discovered adenine and guanine, two of the four nucleobases that comprise DNA, on several of the rocks. In addition, they found three nucleobase analog molecules. The presence of the analogs, which are rarely found on earth, suggests that the nucelobases arrived from outer space and perhaps, were formed there as well.

“You would not expect to see these nucleobase analogs if contamination from terrestrial life was the source, because they’re not used in biology. However, if asteroids are behaving like chemical ‘factories’ cranking out prebiotic material, you would expect them to produce many variants of nucleobases, not just the biological ones, because of the wide variety of ingredients and conditions in each asteroid.” ~ Michael Callahan, Astrobiologist

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

This latest discovery means that the three ingredients for life – nucleobases, amino acids, and amphiphilic compounds – have all been found on meteorites. Furthermore, the evidence suggests that these molecules formed due to chemistry that occurred in space.

“The research gives support to the theory that a “kit” of ready-made parts created in space and delivered to Earth by meteorite and comet impacts assisted the origin of life.” ~ Michael Callahan, Astrobiologist

For centuries, mankind has searched the skies for alien life. Now, it appears that it might have been right here on earth all along.

Who Killed JFK?

On November 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy was shot and killed in Dallas, Texas. Authorities blamed the JFK assassination on a man named Lee Harvey Oswald. However, legions of conspiracy theorists, as well as the vast majority of the American public, remain unconvinced. Now, newly-announced tape recordings from President Kennedy’s wife have added a new wrinkle to the case. Who did Jackie Onassis blame for her husband’s death?

The JFK Assassination?

John F. Kennedy was the thirty-fifth President of the United States. His term was marked with chaos and controversy, including the Bay of Pigs invasion, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the deepening of American involvement in Vietnam. These days, he’s a mythic figure in American politics, one who engenders cult-like fascination, thanks in no small part to his untimely death.

The story of the JFK assassination is a long one and indeed, thousands of books and tens of thousands of articles have already told the tale. So, I’ll stick to the basics of the official version. In 1963, President Kennedy was shot while riding in a motorcade in Dealey Plaza. Thirty minutes later, doctors pronounced him dead.

The police were provided with a suspect’s description. A short while later, Officer J.D. Tippit spotted Lee Harvey Oswald three miles from the crime scene. Since Oswald matched the description, Tippit attempted to engage him. But Oswald killed Tippit instead and fled to a movie theater where he was eventually arrested. Despite claims of being a patsy, he was formally charged that evening. But he never made it to trial. Two days after his arrest, he was shot and killed by nightclub owner Jack Ruby.

The Lone Gunman Theory

President Kennedy’s successor, Lyndon Baines Johnson, established the Warren Commission to investigate the JFK assassination. Ten months later, the Commission famously concluded that Oswald acted alone, driven by insanity and a love for Marxism.

But the mystery was just beginning. The Lone Gunman Theory quickly came under attack and holes began to pile up. Then, in 1975, Good Night America showed Abraham Zapruder’s film of the assassination. It appeared to depict Kennedy being shot in the front rather than from the rear where Oswald had been positioned. Further bombshells followed, including the fact that Special Agent James Hosty of the FBI had been in contact with Oswald prior to the JFK assassination. Even more suspiciously, the FBI attempted to cover up this information.

Who was behind the JFK Assassination?

Despite the passing of nearly five decades, President Kennedy’s assassination continues to captivate the public. Conspiracy theorists have pointed to numerous suspects, including the CIA, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the KGB, Fidel Castro, Anti-Castro Cubans, and the Mafia. It seems that practically everyone had a motive to kill the President.

New theories appear frequently, along with supporting circumstantial evidence. The latest theory arrives from Jackie Onassis herself, who at that time was President Kennedy’s wife. And her testimony promises to reignite even more interest in the case, especially since it comes from beyond the grave.

Jackie Onassis’ Theory?

You see, a historian named Arthur Schlesinger recorded an interview with Jackie back in 1964. She agreed to the interview although she stipulated that it was not to be made public until fifty years after her death. Since Jackie died in 1994, that meant a release date of 2044. However, her wishes have been subverted. Supposedly, her daughter Caroline agreed to release the tapes in exchange for ABC dropping a drama series about the Kennedy family. That’s a conspiracy in its own right, especially since there was never any word that ABC planned to show the miniseries in the first place.

Anyways, according to early reports, Jackie believed Lyndon Baines Johnson along with a group of southern businessmen were behind the assassination. While its not evidence, this revelation is nonetheless quite significant. Conspiracy proponents are often depicted as being on the fringes of society. As far as I know, Jackie is the first member of the so-called establishment to declare her belief in a prevailing conspiracy.

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

So, where do we go from here? About 98% of all documents surrounding the assassination have been released to the public. The remaining documents will be released in 2017. It seems unlikely that these documents will add much to the debate. It will be up to independent researchers to continue investigating the case. If a conspiracy did exist, let’s hope they are able to uncover the necessary evidence. After all, America deserves to know who perpetrated it…

And why.

Death in the Arctic…by Balloon?

In 1897, Salomon August Andrée concocted a daring plan to become the first man to reach the North Pole. Along with two other men, he climbed into a giant hydrogen balloon and set sail from Sweden. But unfortunately, they never reached their destination. What happened to the lost SA Andree expedition?

The SA Andree Arctic Balloon Expedition

In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, countries around the world competed against each other to be the first to reach the North Pole. In many ways, their efforts were similar to those that surrounded the moon landing race of the 1960’s.

At that time, Sweden was a virtual unknown in the world of polar exploration. So, when SA Andrée began fundraising for an expedition to the North Pole, he found an eager audience. His plan was to fly a balloon across the Arctic Sea. On the way, he hoped to pass near to or directly over the North Pole. The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences agreed to fund the entirety of his expedition. Luminaries such as King Oscar II and Alfred Nobel also donated to the cause.

SA Andree’s Expedition Vanishes?

On July 11, 1897, SA Andree launched his balloon. Accompanying him were Nils Strindberg, a physicist, chemist, and photographer, along with an engineer named Knut Frænkel. For a short while, nothing was heard from the expedition. Then, a pigeon was shot as it landed on a Norwegian steamer. Upon closer inspection, a message was discovered.

“The Andree Polar Expedition to the ‘Aftonbladet’, Stockholm. July 13 12.30pm, 82 deg. north latitude, 15 deg.5 min. east longitude. Good journey eastwards, 10 deg. south. All goes well on board. This is the third message sent by pigeon. Andrée.”

This message represented Andrée’s final communication. The expedition’s disappearance became an enduring mystery that wasn’t solved for another three decades.

Discovery of SA Andree’s Lost Expedition?

On August 5, 1930, the crew of the Norwegian vessel Bratvaag landed on Kvitøya, a normally inaccessible island in the Arctic Ocean. They quickly discovered Andrée’s and Strindberg’s skeletons, along with a boat, equipment, and a journal. A later expedition uncovered Frænkel’s remains along with photographic film, a logbook, and maps.

The film and journals told a horrifying tale. The balloon lost hydrogen quickly and crashed after just two days. The men spent the next three months attempting to work their way south, fighting inadequate clothing, poor provisions, and difficult currents. Eventually, they camped on a large ice floe and allowed it to carry them south. However, the floe broke up as it bumped into Kvitøya, forcing the three men to move their camp to the island itself. At that point, Andrée’s diary entries grew increasingly erratic and its assumed that he along with his companions died a short while later.

What killed off the SA Andree Expedition?

Although the bodies were recovered, the mystery of what actually killed the explorers remains unsolved. In his book, De döda på Vitön, Ernst Tryde suggested that the men ate undercooked polar bear meat, causing them to expire from trichinosis. Others point to vitamin A poisoning, carbon monoxide poisoning, lead poisoning, scurvy, botulism, suicide, polar bear attack, hypothermia, and/or general malaise. The most recent work on the subject, performed by Bea Uusma Schyffert, indicates that at least Strindberg died from a polar bear attack.

“Posterity has expressed surprise that they died on Kvitøya, surrounded by food. The surprise is rather that they found the strength to live so long.” ~ Rolf Kjellström

The expedition was ill-fated from the beginning. There were plenty of danger signs even before the launch, all of which were ignored or even covered up by Andrée. In many ways, Andrée appears to be a victim of his own success. His fundraising campaign created tremendous publicity and media pressure. With such expectations, its possible that Andrée felt like he had no other choice but to follow through with his original, poorly-conceived plan. He paid the ultimate price for doing so, as did Nils Strindberg and Knut Frænkel.

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

Although the expedition was foolhardy in retrospect, it deserves to be remembered for another reason. Armed with little more than their own ingenuity, Andrée, Strindberg, and Frænkel managed to survive an astonishing three months in some of the toughest terrain known to mankind. Working together, they successfully steered a course south and if it hadn’t been for a run of bad luck, might’ve made it to safety. Yes, their story is one of tragedy. But its also one of inspiration and of perseverance.

Secrets of the Moon?

The moon is more than just a celestial body. Its also the source of unanswered questions, speculation, and mystery. One particularly strange mystery involves the vast geographical differences between it’s near side and its far side. Why are these two sides so different from each other?

The Moon: Near Side vs. Far Side

The moon doesn’t rotate. Thus, the near side is always visible from earth while the far side remains shrouded in darkness. But the differences don’t end there. The near side exhibits few mountains and a thin crust. Large rocky plains account for 31.2% of its surface. The far side, in contrast, is marked by mountain ranges measuring over 3,000 feet high and a thick crust. It’s heavily cratered and flat plains account for just 2.5% of its surface.

Secrets of the Moon?

Now, two scholars, planetary scientist Erik Asphaug and his postdoctoral researcher Martin Jutzi, believe they can explain these differences. They recently proposed that the reason the two sides look so different is because they are different. In other words, they think that the moon is, in actuality, two separate celestial bodies!

Using sophisticated computer models, they have shown that it might’ve been formed four billion years ago by a relatively low-speed collision of two separate moons. Their model assumes that the smaller moon smashed into the larger one at about 4,400 miles per hour. At this speed, material from the smaller moon would’ve splattered all over the larger one, creating a thicker crust, a battered surface, and long mountain ranges.

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

The theory doesn’t explain everything. For example, the model assumes that the two moons consisted of the same material. However, the far side of the moon contains heavy concentrations of aluminum, a material that is only found in low quantities on the near side.

Further mineral studies are needed. And fortunately, they’re coming. On September 8, 2011, NASA plans to launch the GRAIL, or Gravity Recovery Interior Laboratory, mission. Two spaceships will fly circular orbits thirty-one miles above the moon’s surface. Using gravity mapping techniques, NASA hopes to determine the moon’s interior structure. That data should help us answer numerous questions about the moon such as, has earth always had just one moon? Or, many centuries ago, did two moons float above our planet?

The Lost Fleet of Captain Morgan?

Captain Henry Morgan was one of the most successful privateers of all time. In 1671, while conducting a shocking raid on Panama City, he lost five ships to the raging waters of the Caribbean.  Now, divers believe that they have located this lost fleet. Just who was Captain Morgan? And how did his raid single-handedly change the world?

Who was Captain Henry Morgan?

Henry Morgan was born in Wales in 1635. While early accounts of his life are conflicting, we do know that he was commanding his own ship by the age of 30. Soon after, he took on the role of privateer, or a government-sanctioned pirate, similar to the infamous Captain Kidd. Outfitted with letters of marque from Britain, he began a series of daring raids that rocked Spain’s tenuous grip on the New World.

Captain Henry Morgan invades Panama?

In late 1670, Captain Henry Morgan assembled a mighty fleet of thirty-six ships and some 2,000 men and turned his sights towards Panama City. At that time, Panama City was the richest city in the Americas, thanks to seemingly endless loads of Inca gold appropriated by the Spanish conquistadors. It was also considered invincible, thanks to heavy fortifications facing the Pacific Ocean and miles of thick jungle separating it from the Caribbean Sea. Undeterred, Henry Morgan sailed to the Chagres River and captured Castillo de San Lorenzo. In the process, he lost five vessels, including his flagship, which underwater archaeologists believe they have now located.

Afterwards, Captain Morgan divided his 1,400 remaining men and marched through the Panama Isthmus. He caught the Spanish defenders by surprise, outflanked their counterattack, and seized the city. He spent several weeks in Panama and eventually left with 175 mules loaded with gold, silver, and jewelry. The haul was relatively light due to the fact that a few treasure-laden Spanish vessels managed to flee the harbor. However, since Henry Morgan paid his men just ten pounds apiece for their help in the raid, many researchers speculate that he took the rest of the treasure for himself and hid it before returning to Jamaica.

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

According to Stephan Talty’s excellent book, Empire of Blue Water: Captain Morgan’s Great Pirate Army, the Epic Battle for the Americas, and the Catastrophe That Ended the Outlaws’ Bloody Reign, Captain Henry Morgan’s raid on Panama City led to more than a possible lost treasure. It also changed the course of history, helping to bring about the end of the Spanish Empire and the “Old World”, which had been driven by religion, laws, and birthrights. The British Empire and a “New World”, driven by money, free trade, and democracy, would rise in its wake. In that respect, Captain Morgan remains one of the least known, yet most influential people in modern history.

“Morgan had helped, in his own way, point a path toward the future. Some historians have even argued that without Morgan the Spanish would have been able to settle and defend Florida more vigorously and even extend their control along the Gulf Coast, creating an impregnable empire stretching to Texas. Without him, who knows what the map of the Caribbean and even of the United States might look like. He battled a divine empire on behalf of men interested in trade and gold and rational society (but certainly not freedom for every member, as the pirates had insisted on). The next great world empire, the British, would be a mercantile, not a religious, one. The world had turned Morgan’s way, and he’d nudged it along.” ~ Stephan Talty, Empire of Blue Water