The Lost Nuclear Sub?

On July 4, 1974, the Hughes Glomar Explorer, a deep-sea drillship vessel, dropped anchor in the Pacific Ocean. Its stated purpose was to mine the sea floor for manganese nodules. However, that was just a cover. Its real purpose was far more ambitious…nothing less than the salvage of a lost Soviet nuclear submarine known as K-129.

Disaster Strikes the K-129

Six years earlier, on March 8, 1968, the Soviet submarine K-129 sank in deep waters 1,560 nautical miles northwest of Oahu. 98 crewmen perished in the process. The loss wasn’t realized until the K-129 missed its second consecutive radio check-in during mid-March. About a week later, the Soviet Union launched a gigantic search and rescue effort to find the lost submarine.

The effort failed. However, it was noticed by U.S. intelligence who guessed the mission’s true nature. After checking archived acoustic records, the U.S. Navy discovered an unexplained event had occurred on March 8, 1968. After triangulating the signals, the Navy generated a search grid and initiated Operation Sand Dollar to find and photograph the Soviet sub. The U.S. submarine USS Halibut was sent to the vicinity and after just three weeks of searching, managed to locate the wreck at 16,500 feet below sea level.

The K-129 represented an exciting opportunity. It was believed to contain Soviet nuclear missile technology as well as cryptographic machines and a code book. As such, the United States decided to secretly recover the wreckage. Tasked with this responsibility, the CIA formulated Project Azorian in 1970.

Project Azorian & the Hughes Glomar Explorer: Salvage of the Lost Nuclear Submarine?

The CIA hired Global Marine Development to build a deepwater drillship vessel. The famous industrialist Howard Hughes lent his name to the project and claimed that the ship’s purpose was to mine for manganese nodules. On June 20, 1974, the newly-christened Hughes Glomar Explorer set sail from Long Beach, California. It was equipped with a large mechanical claw dubbed Clementine by the crew. The plan was simple, at least on paper. The claw would deploy to the ocean floor, wrap around part of the submarine, and then lift that part into the Hughes Glomar Explorer’s hold.

The salvage effort began on July 4, 1974 and lasted for over a month. Since the whole process took place underwater, it proved impossible for the Soviets to detect. The details of Project Azorian remain classified to this day so it’s uncertain what exactly was recovered from the wreckage. Officially, the operation was a failure (you can see one of the heavily redacted files here). Supposedly, Clementine broke down during the salvage, forcing the Hughes Glomar Explorer to abandon two-thirds of the K-129. But since the CIA is known for being extra secretive, many researchers have questioned the official account. Thus, there is speculation that Project Azorian was a major intelligence coup, leading to the capture of Soviet submarine technology, nuclear torpedoes, code books, and other items.

What caused the K-129 to Sink?

But how did the K-129 sink in the first place? The Soviet Navy believed that the sub simply sank too low and failed to handle the situation due to mechanical or crew failure. Other theories include the lead-acid batteries exploding while being recharged or an accidental missile detonation. A more controversial theory (and one privately believed by many Soviet officers) is that the sub sank after an accidental collision with the USS Swordfish.

But the most controversial theory by far was put forth by Kenneth Sewell in Red Star Rogue: The Untold Story of a Soviet Submarine’s Nuclear Strike Attempt on the U.S. Sewell postulated that the K-129 was captured by Soviet hard-liners. They planned to launch a nuclear missile on Pearl Harbor that would appear to have been fired by a Chinese submarine. The purpose was to bring about war between the U.S. and China. However, a fail safe device caused the missile to explode instead.

Sewell’s theory was bolstered by Dr. John Crane’s The Silent War: The Cold War Battle Beneath the Sea. According to Crane, the real purpose of Project Azorian was not to recover the submarine but to find out why it sank in a part of the sea where it shouldn’t have been in the first place.

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

Until the CIA releases more information, the true intent of K-129 as well as the strategic success of Project Azorian remain matters of speculation. However, from at least one vantage point, the Hughes Glomar Explorer had a tremendous impact. Prior to that time, the deepest successful salvage of a submarine was at 245 feet. At 16,500 feet, Project Azorian shattered that record and in the process set a new one that, as far as I know, continues to remain to this day.

Dinosaurs…with Feathers?

In popular media, dinosaurs are often portrayed as large, lumbering creatures with leathery, drab, gray skin. But a shocking new find suggests that this might be incorrect. Were dinosaurs really covered in…fluffy, colorful feathers?

Did Dinosaurs have Feathers?

It’s a story seemingly ripped from the pages of Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park. While working in western Canada, a team of scientists led by Ryan McKellar discovered strange remnants encased in amber. Out of some 4,000 samples, he pulled eleven dinosaur feathers which range from 70 to 90 million years old and “include simple filament structures similar to the earliest feathers of non-flying dinosaurs — a form unknown in modern birds — and more complicated bird feathers ‘displaying pigmentation and adaptations for flight and diving.'”

“Now, instead of scaly animals portrayed as usually drab creatures, we have solid evidence for a fluffy colored past.” ~ Dr. Mark A. Norell, American Museum of Natural History, New York

Good lord. So, what kind of colors are we talking about here? Red? Blue? Dare I say pink? No, nothing like that. It turns out the feathers contain certain trace metals, which suggest that they were once colored black, brown, and a reddish-brown.

As for which dinosaurs sported these feathers, well, we don’t know for certain and there’s a good chance that they came from an as-yet-to-be-identified species. However, we do know that they lived toward the end of the Cretaceous Period. At that particular moment in time, “the forerunners of birds were well on their way to taking wing.” But that doesn’t mean these recently discovered feathers were used for flight. Most likely, they were used for thermal regulation instead.

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

As with all new discoveries, it’s important to take these findings with a grain of salt. Eleven feathers, after all, can only tell us so much. Still, the discovery indicates that creatures with primitive feather structures may have been living in the same era as creatures with more advanced structures. If true, this would change the way scientists currently view feather evolution.

Also, over the past few years scientists have gathered an increasingly large body of evidence indicating that feathers were “a fundamental and widespread characteristic” among certain types of dinosaurs. Although fossil feather research is still in its infancy, future advancements may allow us to determine the exact pigments of these feathers. When that happens, the dull gray dinosaurs of our imagination might just give way to a brand new world of magnificently colored beasts.

Zombies…in Ancient Ireland?

In 2005, a team of archaeologists began surveying Medieval churches in Kilteasheen, Ireland. In the process, they stumbled onto a mysterious burial ground. What they found shocked them. Did the ancient Irish fear an invasion…from zombies?

Strange Skeletons in Ireland?

The archaeological team in question was led by Chris Read and Thomas Finan. From 2005 to 2009, they unearthed 137 skeletons at a site near Loch Key in Ireland. These skeletons are probably just the tip of the iceberg and its believed that some 3,000 bodies remain in the area. Two of the skeletons were grotesquely unique. Why?

Because each skeleton’s mouth was filled…with a “baseball-sized rock.”

Pretty gruesome. The two skeletons were male and buried next to each other. One man was between 40 to 60 years old while the other one was closer to 20 to 30 years old. They lived in Ireland around the 700s. And apparently, someone thought they were zombies.

“A large black stone had been deliberately thrust into his mouth. The other had his head turned to the side and had an even larger stone wedged quite violently into his mouth so that his jaws were almost dislocated.” Chris Read, Head of Applied Archaeology at the Institute of Technology in Sligo, Ireland

Ancient Zombies?

The stones may have been part of an ancient ritual designed to ensure that dead people, well, stayed dead. A similar ritual was observed during the Middle Ages. At that time, it was thought that deceased vampires spread the Black Death by “chewing on their shrouds after dying” (see here for my story on a more likely source for the Black Death…a comet). Stones were inserted into the mouths of so-called vampires to stop this from happening. But since vampires weren’t big in European folklore in the 700s, the archaeologists have assumed that the ancient Irish were worried about zombies instead.

“[The mouth] was viewed as the main portal for the soul to leave the body upon death. Sometimes, the soul could come back to the body and re-animate it or else an evil spirit could enter the body through the mouth and bring it back to life.” ~ Chris Read

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

It seems pretty clear that these two men were societal outsiders for one reason or another. But were they really considered “zombies” by ancient Irishmen? Maybe. Still, it should be noted that the skeletons appear to predate written records of such creatures.

Nowadays, zombies have become a significant part of the horror genre. But if Read and Finan are right, then many centuries ago zombies were regarded as much more than mere fiction…they were a horrifying reality…reality that could only be stopped with a stone in the mouth.

Nazca Lines…in the Middle East?

They’re invisible from the ground. But from the air, these stone structures materialize, forming strange wheel-like patterns. What are these ancient “geoglyphs” that stretch across the Middle East?

What are Geoglyphs?

Geoglyphs are large ground-based drawings. They’re formed by either placing or removing stones, gravel, or earth. While nearly impossible to see from up close, the resulting lines form amazing images when viewed from aircraft.

The most famous geoglyphs in the world are found in southern Peru’s Nazca Desert. But the Middle East has its own version of the “Nazca Lines.” They first gained some prominence during the 1920s. As Royal Air Force pilots flew airmail routes over Jordan, they noticed strange designs far below them. According to RAF Flight Lt. Percy Maitland, the stone structures were known among the locals as the “Works of the Old Men.”

Recently, a team led by Professor David Kennedy from the University of Western Australia conducted a “long-term aerial reconnaissance project” of the Middle East. Using aerial photography and satellite-mapping technologies, they identified thousands of geoglyphs scattered across the region.

These geoglyphs take the form of “wheels” with diameters ranging from 82 to 230 feet. They’re often found on lava beds near other stone structures such as “kites (stone structures used for funnelling and killing animals); pendants (lines of stone cairns that run from burials); and walls, mysterious structures that meander across the landscape for up to several hundred feet and have no apparent practical use.”

The wheels remain unexcavated but researchers believe that they may have been created more than 2,000 years ago.

“In Jordan alone we’ve got stone-built structures that are far more numerous than (the) Nazca Lines, far more extensive in the area that they cover, and far older.” ~ Professor David Kennedy

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

So, what was the purpose of these strange structures? In the past, archaeologists thought they were remnants of ancient houses or cemeteries. But Professor Kennedy disagrees, due to the widespread nature of the wheels as well as the lack of a consistent pattern.

One interesting suggestion is that the wheels represented places of worship or ritual. But until excavations are initiated, it’s impossible to be sure.

Civil War Flying Machines?

During the Civil War, the Confederate States of America invented and deployed a number of secret weapons against Union forces. They created the the first steam-powered ironclad warship and built the H.L. Hunley, the first combat submarine to successfully sink an enemy vessel. But the strangest secret weapon of all was the one they didn’t create…just how close did the Confederacy come to building its own Air Force?

Civil War Planes?

On Dec. 17, 1903, the Wright brothers made what is often considered “the first controlled, powered and sustained heavier-than-air human flight.” It wasn’t until the Italo-Turkish War in 1911 that aircraft were first used for military purposes. However, if one man had his way, both those achievements would’ve been reached decades earlier.

In 1863, R. Finley Hunt was a dentist by trade. But he exhibited an unusual “passion for flight.” During the Civil War, both sides used balloons to perform aerial reconnaissance. Hunt envisioned something more dramatic…nothing less than full-blown “Flying Machines” raining terror down on Union forces.

Hunt prepared “pencil drawings of wings, propellers, and a multi-cylinder steam engine” and contacted CSA President Jefferson Davis. But Confederate engineers doubted the feasibility of the project, especially the ability of a steam engine to keep the plane aloft. They also described another error as “so obvious on reflection that no discussion is required.” As far as I’ve been able to determine, the nature of this error remains unknown.

Hunt continued to seek an audience and even requested the temporary assistance of one N. Hays, who was apparently an accomplished armory machinist. However, Hays was too valuable to be spared and ultimately, the Confederacy passed on the project.

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

Hunt’s plans recently surfaced at a rare book dealer’s shop. They are being auctioned by RR Auction with a minimum bid of $1,000. Here’s the preview page for “Civil War Airplanes.”

After the war, Hunt traveled to Washington D.C. and received a patent for his invention. He proceeded to build a few working models of his Flying Machine. However, he was short on financing and his creation never got off the ground, so to speak.

“It’s incredible for someone who loves early aviation, because it poses the great question of ‘What if? What if planes had appeared above the wilderness when [Union general Ulysses S.] Grant began his campaign in the Shenandoah Valley?” ~ Bobby Livingston, RR Auction, Vice President of Sales and Marketing

I hope that whoever buys this piece of history uses the plans to reconstruct the Flying Machine. For all we know, Hunt was far ahead of his time. If it had worked and had been put into production, the Civil War might’ve ended in a far different manner than it did.

Charles Ponzi’s Scheme?

In late 1919, Charles Ponzi was a poor but ambitious man. Less than a year later, he was worth millions. Then his ill-gotten wealth vanished in an epic collapse that brought down six banks and ruined thousands of investors. What was Charles Ponzi’s scheme?

Who was Charles Ponzi?

In August 1919, Charles Ponzi became fascinated with International Reply Coupons, or IRCs. An IRC was prepaid reply postage for international mail. They were usually bought in one country and then exchanged for stamps in another country.

Charles Ponzi thought he saw an arbitrage opportunity. He could buy large amounts of IRCs in countries with weaker currencies and redeem them in countries with stronger currencies. According to his autobiography, The Rise of Mr. Ponzi, he stood to gain an entirely legal net profit of 230% by exploiting the difference between the Italian and American exchange rates.

Ponzi established the Securities Exchange Company and set out looking for investors. He “claimed to have elaborate networks of agents throughout Europe who were making bulk purchases of postal reply coupons on his behalf.” Investors egaerly jumped aboard, intrigued by the generous terms of his promissory notes, which offered an eye-popping 50% interest rate payable in 90 days. For later notes, the term changed to 45 days.

Happy investors poured money back into the company and convinced their friends and relatives to do the same. By February 1920, Ponzi had recorded $5,000 in profits. By March, he was up to $30,000. By May, Charles Ponzi’s total profits reached a whopping $420,000. By June, Ponzi was a millionaire and the majority owner of The Hanover Trust Bank of Boston. He spent lavishly, acquiring a 12-room mansion among other things.

Ponzi was triumphant. Yet, dark clouds filled the horizon. Joseph Daniels, who’d never been paid for furniture he’d sold to Ponzi, sued for $1 million. The size of the lawsuit raised a troubling question among the public…how had Charles Ponzi gotten rich so quickly?

Charles Ponzi & his Ponzi Scheme?

On July 24, the Boston Post published a favorable article on Ponzi and reported his newly-acquired fortune at $8.5 million. But the newspaper’s acting publisher and city editor remained suspicious. They hired Clarence Barron (the man behind Barron’s), to investigate Ponzi.

Two days later, the Boston Post began a series of articles questioning Ponzi and his company. Barron played a key role, uncovering several unsettling pieces of information. For instance, Ponzi was not investing his own money in his company. Also, a whopping 160 million IRCs were needed to cover Ponzi’s purported investments, yet only 27,000 were in circulation. Last but not least, the U.S. Post Office reported that IRCs were not being bought in quantity anywhere in the world.

On August 2, Ponzi’s former publicity agent, William McMasters, wrote his own story for the Post. He claimed that Ponzi was over $4.5 million in debt, including the interest on outstanding loans. Investors clamored for their money back. Ponzi obliged, temporarily quelling fears.

On August 11, approximately one year after he started his business, Ponzi’s scheme ran out of steam. The Boston Post published an article detailing Ponzi’s criminal past. Meanwhile, Hanover Trust was seized by the Bank Commissioner, thwarting Ponzi’s plans to use its deposits to cover his debts.

How did the Ponzi Scheme Work?

It turned out that Ponzi never made investments of any sort. In its final audit, his company was found to own just $61 of IRCs. Instead, he paid off earlier investors with money obtained from later investors. While he didn’t invent the “Ponzi Scheme,” he made it famous.

Ponzi was arrested by federal authorities on August 12. He was charged with 86 counts of mail fraud and served three and a half years in prison. In 1925, he was charged with 22 counts of larceny by the state of Massachusetts and given an additional nine-year sentence.

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

I wish I could say Ponzi learned his lesson. But after making bail, he traveled to Florida and concocted a similar confidence game, this time involving land. He returned to jail and stayed there until 1934. Ponzi’s original scheme ruined six banks and cast thousands of individuals into financial ruin. Yet, he never regretted his actions. In his last interview, given shortly before his death, Ponzi said:

“Even if they never got anything for it, it was cheap at that price. Without malice aforethought I had given them the best show that was ever staged in their territory since the landing of the Pilgrims! It was easily worth fifteen million bucks to watch me put the thing over.” ~ Charles Ponzi

While Charles Ponzi is nearly forgotten, his legacy lives on in the scheme that bears his name. So, beware the siren’s song of easy money and guaranteed profits. In the end, it never turns out well.

President Lincoln’s Greatest Nemesis?

If you were to ask the typical American about President Abraham Lincoln’s greatest enemy, he or she would most likely answer with Jefferson Davis, the President of the Confederate States of America. But recent scholarship suggests that Lincoln faced a far more hated enemy much closer to home…Judge Roger Taney, the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court. In 1861, Lincoln’s hatred of Taney nearly exploded into a Constitutional crisis of epic proportions.

Judge Roger Taney versus President Lincoln?

On May 25, 1861, a Confederate sympathizer named John Merryman was arrested and charged with treason. He petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court for a writ of habeas corpus, a judicial order forcing the Union Army to appear before a judge and justify his imprisonment. Judge Roger Taney granted the writ.

But General George Cadwalader refused, stating that he was under no obligation to do so since President Lincoln had ordered the suspension of habeas corpus. This led to the famous Ex parte Merryman ruling, in which Judge Taney stated that only Congress had the power to suspend habeas corpus.

“And if the President of the United States may suspend the writ, then the Constitution of the United States has conferred upon him more regal and absolute power over the liberty of the citizen than the people of England have thought it safe to entrust to the Crown–a power which the Queen of England cannot exercise at this day, and which could not have been lawfully exercised by the sovereign even in the reign of Charles the First.” ~ Judge Taney, Ex parte Merryman

President Lincoln orders Roger Taney’s Arrest?

The judgment was an embarrassing repudiation to President Lincoln and Confederate sympathizers seized upon it as an example of Lincoln’s tyranny. In either May or June 1861, President Lincoln’s anger inspired him to call for the arrest of Judge Roger Taney.

“After due consideration the administration determined upon the arrest of the Chief Justice. A warrant or order was issued for his arrest. Then arose the question of service. Who should make the arrest and where should the imprisonment be? This was done by the President with instructions to use his own discretion about making the arrest unless he should receive further orders from him.” ~ Ward Hill Lamon

According to his own words, Ward Hill Lamon, who was a friend and bodyguard to President Lincoln as well as a United States Marshall, was given the warrant and ordered to arrest Roger Taney. Strangely though, the warrant was never served.

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

Nobody knows for sure why Lamon never followed through with the arrest. President Lincoln certainly wasn’t above arresting his political opponents, as the cases of Clement Vallandigham and Judge Merrick have shown. But we do know that the two men continued their bitter feud over Lincoln’s efforts to curtail civil liberties for several additional years.

I should point out that Lamon is the sole primary source for this story. Interestingly enough, most current Lincoln scholars consider it ridiculous. They dismiss Lamon as an alcoholic and point to the fact that he didn’t include the story in any of his published books (which, by the way, are highly treasured by these same scholars). Still, there is some corroborating evidence. Records indicate that Roger Taney himself as well as a colleague named Judge Curtis were aware of the near-imprisonment.

We may never know for certain how close President Lincoln came to arresting Judge Roger Taney. But we can all be thankful that he didn’t follow through on it. The ramifications might have been disastrous.

“It would have destroyed the separation of powers; destroyed the place of the Supreme Court in the Constitutional scheme of government. It would have made the executive power supreme, over all others, and put the President, the military, and the executive branch of government, in total control of American society. The Constitution would have been at an end.” ~ Charles Adams

The New Missing Link?

In 2010, archaeologists discovered the first fossils of Australopithecus sediba, a human-like species that lived in Africa about 1.9 million years ago. Now, extensive analysis shows that these fossils don’t belong to just any old extinct hominids…they might actually represent a direct link in the evolutionary chain of humanity. In other words, a missing link.

The Missing “Missing Link”?

It’s commonly thought that early humans and chimpanzees parted evolutionary ways about five to seven million years ago. The genus Homo proceeded to evolve even further, leading to numerous species and subspecies. Through a process of extinction and introgression, all of these other creatures eventually disappeared, leaving modern man as the sole surviving members of the Homo genus.

But the exact path of human evolution remains a mystery, due to the difficulty in locating ancient transitional fossils (aka missing links). However, its generally accepted that modern humans can trace their lineage back to Homo Erectus, which may have been the first hominid to leave Africa. The ancestors to Homo Erectus are less certain, with scientists taking sides among numerous candidates.

Is Australopithecus Sediba a Missing Link?

In 2010, a team led by Professor Lee Berger announced the discovery of the remains of two early protohumans in South Africa. The bones consisted of an adult female and a boy who most likely died when they fell into an underground cave. The protohumans were dubbed Australopithecus sediba.

After further examination, Professor Berger and his team now believe that this new species, although older than other species typically considered ancestors to Homo Erectus, was actually more advanced in terms of anatomy and likely capabilities. This has led the team to announce that Australopithecus sediba is a more likely candidate for the ancestor for Homo Erectus than the usual suspects. If true, that would make it “on the direct evolutionary line to us.” In other words, it could be a missing link.

“We have examined the critical areas of anatomy that have been used consistently for identifying the uniqueness of human beings. Any one of these features could have evolved separately, but it is highly unlikely that all of them would have evolved together if Australopithecus sediba was not related to our lineage.” ~ Professor Lee Berger, The University of the Witwatersrand

Some of the evidence backing this assertion include:

  • Age: The fossils were dated to 1.977 to 1.980 million years ago, making it old enough to be an ancestor to Homo Erectus.
  • Brain: While smaller than older fossils, the boy’s brain was probably more similar to modern humans in terms of shape. This may indicate “the start of the reorganization of the brain that would be necessary to make us what we are today.”
  • Hand: The adult female’s right hand shares far more in common with modern humans than with apes.

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

So, is Australopithecus sediba a direct ancestor to Homo Erectus and thus, a direct ancestor to us? Is it a missing link? As of this point, scientists aren’t completely convinced. However, many seem to think that it’s a distinct possibility.

“One lineage of Australopithecus almost certainly led into the first member of our own genus called Homo, and from then eventually emerged modern humans. But some of them are side branches, and we’re trying to work out which ones are and which ones aren’t – and that’s why this finding is so important. In many ways, these fossils are the ‘smoking gun’ just before the emergence of our own genus.” ~ Dr. William Harcourt-Smit, American Museum of Natural History

The site where the Australopithecus sediba remains were found is believed to contain more fossils. If so, those fossils may strengthen Professor Berger’s case…and in the process, help to rewrite the history of human evolution as we know it.

The Lost Franklin Expedition?

In 1845, Captain Sir John Franklin departed England on a voyage to pass through the last unexplored part of the Northwest Passage. He never returned. What happened to the lost Franklin Expedition?

The Disappearance of the Franklin Expedition?

By 1845, large portions of the Canadian Arctic had been explored. The last remaining section covered about 70,000 square miles and was considered extremely important since it was believed to contain a route allowing sailors to travel from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific. Eager to locate this Northwest Passage, the Second Secretary of the Admiralty, Sir John Barrow, recruited Sir John Franklin to sail into the unknown.

Franklin wasn’t Barrow’s first choice. In fact, he was the sixth choice. But the other candidates either refused or weren’t considered right for the task. Franklin accepted, a decision that he would soon regret.

On May 19, 1845, the Franklin Expedition set sail with 24 officers, 110 men, provisions for seven years, and two ships – the Erebus and the HMS Terror – under his command. It never returned.

What happened to the Franklin Expedition?

In 1848, the first of many search parties were launched to find the lost Franklin expedition. In 1850, a second search effort uncovered a winter camp site and three graves. Subsequent expeditions have uncovered additional graves, messages etched on rocks, and oral accounts from the local Inuit people who claimed to have seen the Erebus and HMS Terror lodged in ice.

Most historians believe that the two ships hit ice in Victoria Strait, which is near King William Island. The crew travelled south to hunt for food and Franklin died shortly afterward. After a year in the Arctic, the Franklin Expedition had lost 15 men. The survivors grew sicker, due to a mixture of pneumonia, scurvy, tuberculosis, hypothermia, starvation, and lead poisoning caused by poorly soldered canned goods and/or the expedition’s distilled water systems. Eventually, they were forced to resort to cannibalism of their dead comrades. Around 1848, the survivors abandoned ship and vanished.

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

Despite numerous searches, the ships and Franklin himself have never been found. Recently, a Canadian expedition threw its hat into the ring, only to come up empty. Its not surprising. The terrain is vast, icy, indistinguishable, and always changing. Plus, the ships were lodged in moving ice for several years and may have drifted hundreds of miles during that time.

For the moment, the lost Franklin Expedition remains lost. But the search continues. Someday soon, explorers will hopefully find the missing ships and Franklin’s frozen corpse. Then we can finally put to rest one of the greatest explorers in history…as well as one of the greatest mysteries of history.

Who was Jack the Ripper?

Jack the Ripper is the most famous serial killer of all time. He (or she) is believed to have killed as many as five prostitutes starting in 1888. His identity remains unsolved. Now, an old suspect has returned to the limelight and thanks to advances in imaging technology, we can finally see what he might have looked like. Does this image show the face of Jack the Ripper?

Jack the Ripper?

During the 1880s, London’s East End was a horrible place to live. Poverty, alcoholism, and crime were widespread. Prostitution ran rampant, with more than 1,200 prostitutes working in Whitechapel alone. Attacks on prostitutes were commonplace.

From April 3, 1888 to February 13, 1891, eleven women were murdered in Whitechapel and subsequently connected in the police docket as the Whitechapel murders. Most, if not all of these women, are believed to have been prostitutes. A majority of experts attribute five of those murders, the so-called “canonical five,” to a single killer. They shared several common features including “deep throat slashes, abdominal and genital-area mutilation, removal of internal organs, and progressive facial mutilations.”

Was Jack the Ripper actually Carl Feigenbaum?

Over the years, researchers have proposed more than 100 theories on Jack the Ripper’s identity. Now, a recent article in the BBC points a cautionary finger at one suspect in particular…Carl Feigenbaum.

Feigenbaum was a German merchant. He was arrested in 1894 in New York City for the murder of his landlady. He was found guilty and executed on April 27, 1896. Afterward, his lawyer claimed that Feigenbaum was Jack the Ripper. It received some attention at the time but was not taken seriously until former murder squad detective Trevor Marriott wrote his book, Jack the Ripper: The 21st Century Investigation: A Top Murder Squad Detective Reveals the Ripper’s Identity at Last!

Researchers have long assumed that Jack the Ripper was an expert in anatomy due to “the skill with which his victims’ organs were removed.” However, Marriott argues that these cuts might have been made in the mortuary instead. And indeed, there is at least one case where it is difficult to imagine that Jack the Ripper had time to remove his victim’s uterus after killing her. Marriott also believes that the gaps between murders fit the profile of a traveller. And at the time of the murders, the Nord Deutsche Linewas docked in the vicinity. Carl Feigenbaum was a seaman aboard this ship.

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

So, was Carl Feigenbaum Jack the Ripper? Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. There are plenty of other feasible suspects out there. In addition, a reexamination of the evidence suggests that the “canonical five” murders may have actually been committed by multiple people. In other words, it’s entirely possible that Jack the Ripper was not a real person at all…he may have been nothing more than an invention of the media.