Saturday, September 29, 2012

Haunted Universal Studios

Did you know Universal Studios is haunted? The ghost of Lon Chaney is said to haunt stage 28 in Universal Studios Hollywood! Here is the story of Universal studios haunted stage 28.

According to studio legend, the "man of a thousand faces," Lon Chaney, the original Phantom of the Opera, is haunting his old set.

Reports say that the phantom has been seen running across the studio catwalks, mysteriously holding a chandelier that was removed years ago.

Visitors and employees to Stage 28 have long maintained that it is haunted. For years, there have been sightings by electricians, designers, carpenters, art directors and security guards of a man in a black cape who seems to come and go without warning. Those who have gotten more than just a glimpse of him say that the cloaked man is Lon Chaney himself.

In addition to studio employees, many visitors who do not know the history of Stage 28 have reported the man in the black cape. He is often seen running on the catwalks overhead. Even security guards who have laughed off the idea of a resident ghost, admit to being “spooked” by lights that turn on and off by themselves and by doors that open and close on the empty stage at night. It has also been reported one can occasionally hear ghostly voices.

It has withstood fires, earthquakes, the birth of talking pictures and the ever-increasing encroachment of studio tours. But Universal Studio's Stage 28 is best remembered for one very famous star's performance in a classic film. The star was Lon Chaney, and the film was "Phantom of the Opera."

While many studio stages have been home to some of Hollywood's most popular motion pictures, Stage 28, or The Phantom Stage as it is better known, stands alone in Hollywood history because no other stage on any studio lot has ever been named for one particular picture. Even the other Universal stages where they filmed such classics as "All Quiet on the Western Front," "My Little Chickadee," "Dracula," "Frankenstein" and "The Wolf Man" never received such a familiar denomination.

Just when The Phantom Stage got its name is unclear. Old-timers at Universal don't have an explanation, and film historians, even the former head of the studio's research department, cannot give a definite date to the naming of this famous stage. The best guess is that it was first called The Phantom Stage during the making of that classic picture. This theory is supported by Charles Van Enger, the cameraman for "Phantom of the Opera" who stated in a 1973 interview that, "we always referred to it as The Phantom Stage during production. As far as I know that's where the title came from."

The Whaley House in San Diego

The haunted Whaley House in San Diego is one of Old Town San Diego's most haunted places. The Whaley House is said to have many ghosts and spirits lurking behind its old walls.

Ghosts of the Haunted Whaley House in San Diego
The earliest documented ghost at the Whaley House is “Yankee Jim”. James (aka Santiago) Robinson was convicted of attempted grand larceny in San Diego in 1852, and hanged on a gallows off the back of a wagon on the site where the house now stands. Although Thomas Whaley had been a spectator at the execution, he did not let it disuade him from buying the property a few years later and building a home for his family there. According to the San Diego Union, “soon after the couple and their children moved in, heavy footsteps were heard moving about the house. Whaley described them as sounding as though they were made by the boots of a large man. Finally he came to the conclusion that these unexplained footfalls were made by Yankee Jim Robinson.”

Many visitors to the house have reported encountering Thomas Whaley himself. The late June Reading, former curator of the museum, said, “We had a little girl perhaps 5 or 6 years old who waved to a man she said was standing in the parlor… We couldn’t see him. But often children’s sensitivity is greater than an adult’s.” However, many adults have reported seeing the apparition of Mr. Whaley, usually on the upper landing. One said he was “clad in frock coat and pantaloons, the face turned away from her, so she could not make it out. Suddenly it faded away.”

Even television personality Regis Philbin reported seeing Anna Whaley in the house. Anna isn't the only female visitors see or sense. Some have claimed to sense a small figure woman in the courtroom. No one has been able to identify this woman but it is believed she is one of the numerous tenants that the house was rented to. A long-haired little girl has also been spotted in the house, particularly in the dining room. According to an urban legend, the little girl is one of the Whaley children's playmates that broke her neck on a low-hanging clothesline in the backyard.

Human spirits aren't the only ones seen at the Whaley House. A parapsychologist reported seeing a spotted dog, perhaps a fox terrier, run down the hall in the house. The Whaley's owned a terrier named Dolly Varden.

History of The Haunted Whaley House
In addition to being the Whaley Family home, it housed a granary, the County Court House, San Diego's first commercial theater, various businesses including Thomas Whaley's own general store, a ballroom, a billiard hall, school, and polling place. 

Significant events, such as the siezure of the court documents and records in 1871, and the suicide of Violet Whaley in 1885 profoundly affected Thomas and Anna Whaley. These events, as well as the hangings which occurred on the property before the house was constructed, have suffused the Whaley House with an air of mystery and added to its reputation as something more than just California State Historic Landmark.

If you are experiencing paranormal activity, our team of paranormal investigators are located in Carlsbad CA. We can help with hauntings, spirits & other paranormal activity. This is a free service. Contact us to schedule a paranormal investigation or to report, study or obtain help with paranormal phenomena. All consultations are confidential.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

True Urban Horror Legends

The urban horror legend of the living severed head. Most Urban legends are not true, however there are a few urban legends that are. Here is a true urban horror legend!

The Living Severed Head Legend

The Urban Legend: Your head will remain aware even after its been severed from your shoulders (giving you enough time to see your dead body and look around at the world you will soon be leaving). Legend has it, that severed heads have been known to blink, react to stimulus and try to communicate.

The Truth Behind The Urban Legend: Death by decapitation was assumed to be instant and painless in early history. The guillotine was designed for this reason, however there is evidence that your brain will remain aware for several seconds to minutes after your head gets cut off.

The most well known example of this comes from Dr. Beaurieux, who conducted and experiment on a French murder named Languille. After his beheading,  Languille's eyes and mouth started moving for about 6 seconds, until his brain had seemed to pass. At this point Dr. Beaurieux shouted his name and Languille eyes popped wide open staring directly at the doctor!

In The Doctors Own Words: "Languille's eyes very definitely fixed themselves on mine, the pupils focusing themselves". Doctor Beaurieux continued his experiments on guillotine victims and reported similar results for up to 30 seconds. There is a multitude of  beheading stories like this throughout history. It’s estimated 20,000 to 40,000 people were beheaded during the French Revolution.

Researchers are finding that neurons, the cells that make up the brain, are active even after their blood supply is suddenly cut off. And they may show activity for longer than a minute. In an arguably not-so-humane study, Dutch scientists measured the brain activity in mice after slicing off the mice’s heads. What they saw was a quick flash of brain activity…

Another Living Head Story
This is about a U.S. Army veteran who had been stationed in Korea, in June 1989.  He and his friend were in the back seat of a taxi when the taxi collided with a truck; the veteran was pinned in the wreckage, but his friend had been decapitated.  Here is his letter:

“My friend’s head came to rest face up, and (from my angle) upside-down. As I watched, his mouth opened and closed no less than two times. The facial expressions he displayed were first of shock or confusion, followed by terror or grief.  I cannot exaggerate and say that he was looking all around, but he did display ocular movement in that his eyes moved from me, to his body, and back to me. He had direct eye contact with me when his eyes took on a hazy, absent expression… and he was dead.”

Successful Head Transplants
In 1963, a group of scientists from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland, Ohio, led by Robert J. White, a neurosurgeon and a professor of neurological surgery who was inspired by the work of Vladimir Demikhov, performed a highly controversial operation to transplant the head of one monkey onto another's body.

The procedure was a success, with the animal being able to smell, taste, hear, and see the world around it. The operation involved cauterizing arteries and veins carefully while the head was being severed to prevent hypovolemia. Because the nerves were left entirely intact, connecting the brain to a blood supply kept it chemically alive. The animal survived for some time after the operation, even at times attempting to bite some of the staff.

Other head transplants were also conducted recently in Japan in rats. Unlike the head transplants performed by Dr. White, however, these head transplants involved grafting one rat's head onto the body of another rat that kept its head. Thus, the rat ended up with two heads. The scientists said that the key to successful head transplants was to use low temperatures.

A human head transplant would most likely require cooling of the brain to the point where all neural activity stops. This is to prevent neurons from dying while the brain is being transplanted.

Ethical considerations have thus far prevented any reported attempt by surgeons to transplant a human being's head. However, just imagine how the world would benefit by saving great minds like Albert Einstein or other geniuses.

Stay tuned for more True Urban Legends coming soon!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Paranormal Fire Deaths in India

Paranormal Mystery of Fire Deaths in India
Several girls have reportedly set themselves on fire in a spate of mysterious paranormal deaths in India.

14-year-old Henna was the most recent of around 20 cases in which young girls were alleged to have died in mysterious fires that were said to have either occurred without explanation or as a result of the victim setting themselves on fire for no discernible reason. Many have cited paranormal influencing as a factor in the deaths and some have reported seeing two strange girls talking to the victim beforehand.
Indore: A bizarre ghost story is in circulation in a part of old Indore after the parents of a 14-year-old girl, who was found with cent percent burn on Wednesday afternoon , told the police that two mysterious girls had asked their daughter to pour kerosene on self. Their neighoburs are also attesting to the ghost story and claiming that around 20 girls died under similarly mysterious circumstances in the last few years. 
Goma Ki Phel and Kazi Ki Chawl, the two downtown localities in Indore, are agog with feverish rumours of paranormal power behind the death of Henna, who succumbed to burns in MY hospital. 
Henna's father Abdul Razzaq and brother Feroz were shocked when the dying girl told them that two girls had come to her and asked her to douse with kerosene and accompany them. However, no one saw the mysterious girls entering in or going out of the house before or after the incident. They were also shocked as Henna was absolutely normal and had meal with family before she was found 100% burnt. 
Investigating officer sub-inspector Qureshi told us the family members and neighbors stated that Henna had told them she was under influence of some paranormal power who asked her to commit suicide and she followed the order.
The police officer claimed similar incidents occurred in the past too where minor girls committed suicide by immolating inside their houses and they cited the same reason behind the extreme steps. 
Vimla Bai, who had taken Henna to hospital, claimed that she too had lost her son Dharmendra in similar grotesque circumstances. He immolated self inside the small house, the woman said. She also claimed before her death Henna told her about two girls who asked her to accompany them. 
Two years ago, a minor girl Aatesha, daughter of Atiq, was found with cent percent burns in the house. Atiq had then claimed that barring his daughter all the other items in the house were found intact. Besides, the reason behind her suicide is unclear till date. In her dying declaration Aatesha had also told about some paranormal powers influencing her. 
Rafiq Khan, a resident of Kazi Ki Chawl claimed that family members do not get wind about immolation of girls until they burn completely even in a adjacent room. A family after losing a school going daughter had shifted from the locality before Aatesha’s death.
Local officials have confirmed details of the cases but remain perplexed. The exact reason the victims set themselves on fire and the identity of the two mysterious girls seen talking to them in several of the cases remains so far unexplained.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Britain's 'Franken Mummy' Mystery

The Mystery of Britain’s 'Franken-mummies’

Two 3,000-year-old human skeletons dug up in the Outer Hebrides have been found to be a jigsaw of at least six different people who died hundreds of years apart.

When two almost perfectly preserved 3,000-year-old human skeletons were dug up on a remote Scottish island, they were the first evidence that ancient Britons preserved their dead using mummification.

The scientists who uncovered the bodies also found clues that one of them – a man buried in a crouching position – was not a single individual, but had in fact been assembled from the body parts of several different people.

The discovery began a 10-year investigation into what had led the bronze-age islanders to this strange fate.

Now, a new study using the latest in DNA technology has found that the two skeletons together comprise the remains of at least six different individuals, who died several hundred years apart.

The researchers now believe that large extended families, living under one roof, may have shared their homes with the mummified remains of their dead ancestors, before deliberately putting the bodies together to look like single corpses – possibly in an attempt to demonstrate the uniting of different families.

Professor Mike Parker Pearson, an archaeologist at University College London who led the research, said: “It looks like these individuals had been cut up and put back together to look like one person.”

He said the mixing of the body parts could have been due to “misfortune or carelessness”, but added: “The merging of their identities may have been a deliberate act, perhaps designed to amalgamate different ancestries into a single lineage.”

The skeletons were unearthed in 2001 while Professor Parker Pearson, who was then working at Sheffield University, was examining the remains of buildings at a site called Cladh Hallan in a sand quarry in South Uist.

The site had been a bronze-age settlement which was inhabited for well over 1,000 years.

While digging out the foundations of one of the houses, the archaeologists found the skeletons of an adult man and a woman they believed to be aged around 40.

Dating of the two skeletons showed they appeared to be over 3,000 years old and predated the house they were buried under by several hundred years.

Both had been buried in a crouched position on their sides and from the way the bones remained connected, it appeared they had been carefully preserved.

Analysis of the bones indicated that the bodies had started to rot after death but the decay was abruptly halted.

The mineral content of the bones suggests they were placed in an acidic peat bog, which helped to preserve them in a primitive form of mummification before they were removed and kept above ground, the researchers claim.

Before the discovery, mummification at that time in history was thought to have been restricted to Egypt and South America.

Carbon dating of the bones in the male skeleton revealed while the jaw came from someone who had died around 1440BC-1260BC, the rest of the skull came from a man who died some 100 years earlier, and the remainder of the body from someone who died 500 years before that.

In a new study, published in the Journal of Archaeological Science, the researchers used DNA testing to examine the female skeleton, which carbon dating suggested had belonged to a woman who died between 1300 BC and 1130 BC.

By examining genetic material known as mitochondrial DNA, which is passed down only by females, the researchers found the jaw bone, a leg bone and an arm bone all came from different individuals.

Other body parts could have come from other individuals too, but it was impossible to obtain suitable DNA to analyse. The testing did suggest, however, that skull could have belonged to a relative or the same individual as the arm.

Physical analysis of the 'female’ skeleton has also suggested the jaw and skull in fact belonged to a male.

From its position, the researchers believe the body had been wrapped up tightly and kept above ground for several hundred years before it was finally buried. Shortly after death, two of its teeth were removed with one placed in each hand.

Exactly what happened to these people after their death and why they were finally buried in this way remains a mystery, but the scientists are continuing to unpick what happened.

Professor Pearson said it appeared the crude mummification process had allowed the bodies to survive the wet and wild Scottish climate for several hundred years before the soft tissue gradually began to degrade after they were buried.

In around 1000 BC, seven houses were built in a terrace, with the two mummies, which were then hundreds of years old, buried beneath one of the homes.
Less well preserved human remains were also found under some of the other houses and many had offerings of bronze artefacts found with them.

The inhabitants of the buildings appear to have been largely self-sufficient, using clay moulds to cast bronze swords, spears and ornaments. The remains of cattle bones suggests they kept livestock and may have grown barley for food.

Analysis of the bones suggest they ate very little seafood despite living on an island, instead growing their food on the low lying grassy plain next to the houses.

The building where the two mummified skeletons were found may have even become a “house of the dead” with priest-like people living there, professor Pearson believes.

He added: “Having six preserved body parts to hand indicates there was sufficient space in which to store them for some time prior to their reassembly.

“This raises the possibility that these dead either shared accommodation with the living or were kept in separate, as yet unidentified, 'mummy houses’ which were warm and dry enough to inhibit soft tissue decay.”

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Newly Discovered Planet May Have Alien Life

A newly discovered alien planet may be one of the top contenders to support alien life, researchers say.

The new found alien world, a "super Earth" called Gliese 163c, lies at the edge of its star's habitable zone — that just-right range of distances where liquid water could exist.

"There are a wide range of structures and compositions that allow Gliese 163c to be a habitable planet," Xavier Bonfils, of France's Joseph Fourier University-Grenoble, told by email.

He went on to caution that several possible uninhabitable combinations exist as well. [The Top 5 Potentially Habitable Alien Planets]
Possible Alien Planets
Four of the Planetary Habitability Laboratory's top six potentially habitable exoplanets have been found since September 2011.
A newfound super Earth
Bonfils and an international team of astronomers studied nearly 400 red dwarf stars with the High Accuracy Radial Velocity Planet Searcher (HARPS), a spectograph on the 3.6-meter telescope at the European Southern Observatory's La Silla Observatory in Chile.

Gliese 163c was one of two alien planets found orbiting the star Gliese 163, which lies about 50 light-years from Earth in the Dorado constellation The team found indications of a third planet as well but cannot confirm it at this time.

Weighing in at about seven times the mass of Earth, Gliese 163c could be a rocky planet, or it could be a dwarfed gas giant, researchers said.

"We do not know for sure that it is a terrestrial planet," Bonfils said. "Planets of that mass regime can be terrestrial, ocean, or Neptune-like planets."

Orbiting at the inner edge of the habitable zone, Gliese 163c takes 26 days to zip around its parent star, which is considerably dimmer than our sun. The second planet, Gliese 163b, has an orbital period of only nine days, while the third unconfirmed planet circles from a distance.

Bonfils pointed out that there is about a 2 percent chance that Gliese 163c might pass between its star and the sun from Earth's perspective. If so, scientists may be able to glean more information about the distant planet by watching it cross the face of its host star.

The research has been submitted for review and publication.

A good candidate for alien life
The Planetary Habitability Laboratory (PHL) at the University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo keeps a catalog of the alien worlds it considers good candidates to host life. The newly discovered Gliese 163c ranks fifth on the list.

"We are finding more potentially habitable planets now than before," PHL's Abel Mendez, who was not part of the Gliese 163c discovery team, told by email..

Out of the six planets on PHL's list, four have been found in the last year alone — Kepler-22b, Gliese 667Cc, HD 85512b, and, of course, Gliese 163c.
"Most of these are relatively close, so we can expect to find better and closer ones as our technological sensitivity to Earth-size planets improves," Mendez said.

To rank habitable planets, Mendez and his colleagues at PHL compare them with the only planet known to host life. They rank the worlds according to how similarly their masses, diameters and temperatures match up with those of Earth.

Temperatures of alien planets are tough for researchers to estimate. Temperature is heavily influenced by atmospheric characteristics, and scientists don't know much about most exoplanets' atmospheres.

Mendez suggested that one scenario for Gliese 163c might include a balmy ocean with an atmosphere 10 times as dense as Earth's. The global ocean might slosh beneath a pink, cloud-covered sky. At around 140 degrees Fahrenheit (60 degrees Celsius), the temperature would be too hot for prolonged human exposure or complex plants or animals, but some microbes could tolerate it.

But it's also possible that Gliese 163c is too hot for even those hardy lifeforms to exist.

In the meantime, Bonfils and his team intend to use HARPS to continue their search for planets that could be ripe for life, hoping to find one that may allow astronomers to study it today rather than tomorrow.

"Although it is nice to build the sample of possibly habitable planets that will be observed with the next generation of telescopes, it would be even better if we could find a planet one could characterize with today's observatories," Bonfils said.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Zombie Apocalypse Training

Training for a Zombie Apocalypse : The military and law enforcement are getting ready for a zombie apocalypse. Training for the zombie apocalypse will begin in San Diego next month.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is ready for a zombie apocalypse. FEMA is warning people about a zombie apocalypse. Now, the military and law enforcement are getting ready.

Zombies in San Diego
Security firm HALO Corp. announced yesterday that about 1,000 military personnel, police officials, medical experts and federal workers will learn the ins and outs of a zombie apocalypse, as part of an annual counter-terrorism summit , according to the Military Times.

This is only a small part of the summit's more serious course load -- but a zombie-like virus outbreak is a good training scenario. Visitors will learn to deal with a worldwide pandemic, where people become crazy, violent and fearful.

Zombies will roam the summit grounds in San Diego, Calif. harassing troops and first-aid teams that will be participating.

The training comes at a time when the term "zombie apocalypse" is so viral that several branches of government have released statements on the matter. Earlier this month, the Department of Homeland Security reported that "the zombies are coming" as part of a hilarious bid to get younger citizens to prepare for a real disaster.

The CDC has released similar statements using zombies as a playful guise to get the public prepared for actual disasters. To assure that no one's confused by these announcements, CDC said that zombies are not real.

Implanting Memories

Scientists have now discovered a method for implanting short term memories! Researchers have succeeded in implanting short term memories within segments of isolated brain tissue.

Ben W. Strowbridge, PhD, Professor of Neurosciences and Physiology/Biophysics, and Robert A. Hyde, a fourth year MD/PhD student in the neurosciences graduate program at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, have discovered how to store diverse forms of artificial short-term memories in isolated brain tissue.

"This is the first time anyone has found a way to store information over seconds about both temporal sequences and stimulus patterns directly in brain tissue," says Dr. Strowbridge. "This paves the way for future research to identify the specific brain circuits that allow us to form short-term memories."

Their study, entitled "Mnemonic Representations of Transient Stimuli and Temporal Sequences in Rodent Hippocampus In Vitro," is slated for publication in the October issue of Nature Neuroscience, and is currently available online.

Memories are often grouped into two categories: declarative memory, the short and long-term storage of facts like names, places and events; and implicit memory, the type of memory used to learn a skill like playing the piano.

In their study, the researchers sought to better understand the mechanisms underlying short-term declarative memories such as remembering a phone number or email address someone has just shared.

Using isolated pieces of rodent brain tissue, the researchers demonstrated that they could form a memory of which one of four input pathways was activated. The neural circuits contained within small isolated sections of the brain region called the hippocampus maintained the memory of stimulated input for more than 10 seconds. The information about which pathway was stimulated was evident by the changes in the ongoing activity of brain cells.

"The type of activity we triggered in isolated brain sections was similar to what other researchers have demonstrated in monkeys taught to perform short-term memory tasks," according to Mr. Hyde. "Both types of memory-related activity changes typically lasted for 5-10 seconds."

The researchers also demonstrated that they could generate memories for specific contexts, such as whether a particular pathway was activated alone or as part of a sequence of stimuli to different inputs.

Changes in ongoing activity of hippocampal neurons accurately distinguished between two temporal sequences, akin to humans recognizing the difference between two different song melodies. The artificial memories Dr. Strowbridge's group created in the hippocampus continued to recognize each sequence even when the interval between stimuli was changed.

The new research expands upon a previous study, also published in Nature Neuroscience in 2010, in which Dr. Strowbridge's group found that isolated pieces of the hippocampus could store which one of two inputs was stimulated. That study also found that a relatively rare type of brain cell, originally described in the 1800's by the famous Spanish anatomist Santiago Ramón y Cajal, but ignored in modern times, played a critical role in the memory effect.

By demonstrating that the same neural circuits also can store information about context, the new study will likely increase the focus on these potential "memory cells" in the hippocampus, called semilunar granule cells, says Dr. Strowbridge.

Understanding normal memory function also lays the groundwork for understanding how neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's or Parkinson's disease, affect memory and for developing new, more effective treatments for memory impairments associated with aging.

This study was funded by the National Institutes of Health.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Martian Mystery Spheres

Strange mystery spheres found on Mars! What are these strange Martian spheres? 

Curiosity might have been hitting the headlines lately but on a different part of the Red Planet its fellow rover Opportunity is still going strong. The latest images returned show a dense concentration of strange spherical shapes on the Martian surface. The spheres are similar to those found by Opportunity in 2004 ( nicknamed 'blueberries' ) but there are stark differences.

Eight years ago, NASA's Opportunity rover came across strange-looking spheres that were nicknamed Martian blueberries — and now the Mars rover has sent back a picture showing a different flavor of berry that has the experts scratching their heads.

"This is one of the most extraordinary pictures from the whole mission," Cornell astronomer Steve Squyres, the rover mission's principal investigator, said today in a news release.

The golf-cart-sized Opportunity rover used the microscopic imager on the end of its robotic arm to take a super-close look at the spherical shapes. These particular berries, measuring as much as one-eighth of an inch (3 millimeters) in diameter, cover an outcrop called Kirkwood in the Cape York segment of Endeavour Crater's western rim.

"Kirkwood is chock full of a dense accumulation of these small spherical objects," Squyres said. "Of course, we immediately thought of the blueberries, but this is something different. We never have seen such a dense accumulation of spherules in a rock outcrop on Mars."

Iron-rich Martian blueberries first came to light soon after Opportunity headed out from its landing site on Mars' Meridiani Planum in early 2004. The fact that they have layers of a mineral called hematite suggests that the spherules were formed by the action of mineral-laden water percolating through rocks. That's how similar spherules formed on Earth, where they're known as thunderballs, shaman stones or Moqui marbles.

Since then, Oppy has run across the blueberries (which are actually gray) many times. A couple of years ago, the rover spotted an unusual spread of blueberries that were so tightly packed that scientists called it a "blueberry sandwich."

Some scientists say the berries could become important in the search for signs of life on Mars: In the August issue of the journal Geology, researchers from the University of Nebraska and the University of Western Australia contend that microbial activity played a part in the formation of iron spherules on Earth — and may have played a similar role on the Red Planet. Spherules with an iron-rich exterior and an iron-poor core could "offer a macroscopic target in the search for life on Earth as well as Mars," they wrote.

Crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside
Last week's discovery adds a new twist to the berry investigation. Many of the spheres on the Kirkwood outcrop have been broken open and eroded by the wind, NASA said. The eroded berries show signs of a concentric structure. To investigate further, Opportunity aimed its Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer at the berries and analyzed their elemental composition. The preliminary analysis indicates that the recently found spheres do not have the high iron content seen in the original Martian blueberries.

"They seem to be crunchy on the outside, and softer in the middle," Squyres said. "They are different in concentration. They are different in structure. They are different in composition. They are different in distribution. So, we have a wonderful geological puzzle in front of us. We have multiple working hypotheses, and we have no favorite hypothesis at this time. It's going to take a while to work this out, so the thing to do now is keep an open mind and let the rocks do the talking."

There's plenty to investigate around the place where Opportunity is now: Just past Kirkwood, there's an intriguing pale-toned outcrop in an area where orbital observations have suggested clay minerals are present. That's another sign that the region's geology was influenced by the presence of water in ancient times.

It's been eight and a half years since Opportunity dropped onto the Martian surface, cushioned by a layer of bouncy airbags. Opportunity and its twin on the other side of the planet, Spirit, were expected to last at least three months.

Both of those rovers became overachievers. Spirit finally gave up the ghost just a couple of years ago, but Opportunity is still going strong at 14-mile-wide (22-kilometer-wide) Endeavour Crater. This week, the team behind Spirit and Endeavour received the prestigious Haley Space Flight Award for pioneering "new techniques in extraterrestrial robotic system operations."

After weathering another Martian winter, Opportunity is raring to go.

"The rover is in very good health considering its eight and a half years of hard work on the surface of Mars," John Callas, project manager for the rover mission at  NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said in today's news release. "Energy production levels are comparable to what they were a full Martian year ago, and we are looking forward to productive spring and summer seasons of exploration."

NASA / JPL-Caltech / Ed Truthan / North Coast Graphics
A 3-D picture from the Curiosity rover's hazard avoidance cameras shows the rover's shadow in the foreground, and a 3-mile-high mountain in the far background. Use red-blue glasses to see the 3-D effect.

Michael Howard
A stereo image shows the terrain in front of NASA's Curiosity rover. Use red-blue glasses to get the 3-D effect.

NASA / JPL-Caltech / Ed Truthan / North Coast Graphics

A 3-D view from Curiosity's rear hazard avoidance cameras shows one of the rover's wheels in the foreground, and its tracks leading back toward the horizon. Use red-blue glasses to see the 3-D effect.

Curiosity on the move
Meanwhile, thousands of miles away, NASA's Curiosity rover is on the move after completing the checkouts on its robotic arm. Curiosity, which arrived on Mars a little more than a month ago, is about twice the size of Opportunity — and thanks to its nuclear power source, it could theoretically last for decades.

The rover is heading for its first major destination: a geologically interesting spot called Glenelg, roughly a quarter-mile (400 meters) away from its landing site in Gale Crater.

NASA reported today that Curiosity "perambulated over 105 feet (32 meters) of unpaved Gale Crater" over the past Martian day, or sol. It has put 466 feet (142 meters) on its odometer, and is roughly a quarter of the way to Glenelg.

This week, Curiosity turned its Mastcam imaging system toward the sun, to watch the Martian moon Phobos pass over the solar disk during the Red Planet's equivalent of a partial solar eclipse. Hundreds of thumbnail images were sent back to Earth, but the resolution wasn't sharp enough to show the eclipse. We'll have to wait until the full-resolution images are transmitted to gauge the success of Curiosity's eclipse-watching session. The timing of that transmission is dependent on where it's placed on the mission team's data priority list.

There'll be at least a couple of additional opportunities for eclipse-watching from Mars over the next few days. "This occurrence of transits happens twice per Martian year, which is once every Earth year," deputy project scientist Joy Crisp said during a teleconference on Wednesday, "so we did really want to scramble this time to try to take images."

The transit observations are something of a sideshow for Curiosity's $2.5 billion, two-year primary mission. The rover's main objective is to study Martian soil and rock for the chemical signatures of potential habitability.

After spending a few weeks at Glenelg, the rover is due to begin a 12-mile (20-kilometer) odyssey to reach the flanks of a 3-mile-high (5-kilometer-high) mountain in the middle of Gale Crater, known as Aeolis Mons or Mount Sharp. The layers of rock on that mountainside could preserve the biggest geological record ever studied on Mars, going back billions of years — and provide new pointers in the search for traces of life on Mars.

NASA / JPL-Caltech / Cornell / USGS / Modesto Junior College

A photo from the Opportunity rover's Microscopic Imager shows strange spherules covering a Martian outcrop nicknamed Kirkwood. The view covers an area about 2.4 inches (6 centimeters) across.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Owlman

The UK's Owlman : Owlman, sometimes referred to as the Cornish Owlman, or Owlman of Mawnan is one of the stranger and lesser known cryptid creatures. There is no body of folklore surrounding Owlman, however the sightings continue to this day. Owlman sightings could easily be dismissed were it not for the paranormal circumstances surrounding Owlman.

What is Owlman?

Owlman was first seen during the year 1976 in the county of Cornwall. More specifically, it was seen in the vicinity of the Mawnan Village. Some of the sightings were reported to the well-known cryptozoologist Tony "Doc" Shiels who reportedly coined the name "Owlman".

The first sighting took place on April 17, 1976 and was reported by two girls, June and Vicky Melling. They reportedly saw a large, feathered "bird man" hovering over the Mawnan Church on Morgawr's Mile. The sighting left the two girls so frightened that the family cut short its holiday. Below is a sketch of what they saw.

Similar sightings were reported over the years of a partially feathered man sized owl with pointed ears and clawed feet. It was a silvery grey color with slanting red eyes. There are similarities between Owlman and the better known Mothman.

There were several sightings of Owlman between 1976 and 1978, all in the vicinity of Mawnan Church, after which it seemed to have disappeared for a few years. Since then, there have been other reports of Owlman in the area from time to time.

Other Paranormal Phenomena

What makes the Cornish Owlman story so interesting is that it did not take place in isolation. The sightings happened at a time when many paranormal things were going on in the area.

During the spring of 1976, the weather in Cornwall went through extreme shifts between unusual heat waves and cold snaps. Animals behaved strangely - there are reports of packs of dogs, cats and birds terrorizing people. In addition, there was an upsurge in UFO reports around the countryside. Add to all of this the fact that Mawnan Church is reportedly situated on a ley line and the whole thing becomes worthy of a paranormal investigation. Something weird was happening in the area at the time and still is today.

The paranormal activity in Cornwall can be connected to the story of Owlman in many possible ways. To a skeptic, it suggests a possible wave of mass hysteria. After the first sighting was reported the prevailing atmosphere of weirdness could have induced others to believe they saw something similar.

Another possibility is that there really was something strange in the region at the time, possibly some form of freak earth energy or other power. This could possibly be connected with the unusual weather and animal behaviour. If this were the case then even if the Owlman sightings were hallucinations they would remain interesting as another symptom of whatever was really going on at the time.

Another paranormal connection is with the local UFO sightings. Is it at all possible Owlman was actually an alien visitor passing through, or possibly an alien hybrid? Below is a sketch of Mothman that is very similar to Owlman.

Furthermore, it is interesting to compare the Cornish Owlman with the West Virginia Mothman. UFO reports came in around the same time Mothman appeared. We also have the Lechuza. From the urban legend commonly told in the Mexican heritage where the spirit of a woman or a witch turns into a giant owl. Legend has it that Lechuza is said to fly around terrorizing people and can steal souls. Lechuza's are reported to be half human & half bird. Lechuza sightings are mainly reported to this day in Texas, Arizona, California and Mexico. Mothman, Owlman and Lechuza seem to share strange similarities. All have large red eyes, appear to be humanoid winged creatures and have strange paranormal happening occur around the time of their presence. So what are these strange cryptids? Are they ancient animals from our planet, beings from another dimension, elementals, demons or extraterrestrials? The similarities are too eerily similar to ignore.

The Paranormalistics theorize that perhaps these creatures are like Bigfoot in that it may have an otherworldly explanation other than some unknown wild animal.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Exorcism Boom in Poland

WARSAW: With exorcism booming in Poland, Roman Catholic priests here have joined forces with a publisher to launch what they claim is the world's first monthly magazine focused exclusively on chasing out the devil.

"The rise in the number or exorcists from four to more than 120 over the course of 15 years in Poland is telling," Father Aleksander Posacki, a professor of philosophy, theology and leading demonologist and exorcist told reporters in Warsaw at the Monday launch of the Egzorcysta monthly.

Ironically, he attributed the rise in demonic possessions in what remains one of Europe's most devoutly Catholic nations partly to the switch from atheist communism to free market capitalism in 1989.

"It's indirectly due to changes in the system: capitalism creates more opportunities to do business in the area of occultism. Fortune telling has even been categorised as employment for taxation," Posacki told AFP.

"If people can make money out of it, naturally it grows and its spiritual harm grows too," he said, hastening to add authentic exorcism is absolutely free of charge.

Posacki, who also serves on an international panel of expert Roman Catholic exorcists, highlighted what he termed the "helplessness of various schools of psychology and psychiatry" when confronted with extreme behaviours that conventional therapies fail to cure.

"Possession comes as a result of committing evil. Stealing, killing and other sins," he told reporters, adding that evil spirits are chased out using a guide of ritual prayers approved by Polish-born pope John Paul II in 1999.

"Our hands are full," admitted fellow exorcist and Polish Roman Catholic priest Father Andrzej Grefkowicz, revealing exorcists have a three month waiting list in the capital Warsaw.

Priests performing exorcism also work with psychiatrists in order to avoid mistaking mental illness for possession, he said.

"I've invited psychiatrists to meetings when I've had doubts about a case and often we've both concluded the issue is mental illness, hysteria, not possession," he said.

According to both exorcists, depictions of demonic possession in horror films are largely accurate.

"It manifests itself in the form of screams, shouting, anger, rage - threats are common," Posacki said.

"Manifestation in the form or levitation is less common, but does occur and we must speak about it - I've seen it with my own eyes," he added.

With its 62-page first issue including articles titled "New Age - the spiritual vacuum cleaner" and "Satan is real", the Egzorcysta monthly with a print-run of 15,000 by the Polwen publishers is selling for 10 zloty (2.34 euros, 3.10 dollars) per copy.

Cyborg Cockroaches Could Save Your Life

How could cyborg cockroaches save your life? Cockroaches that are surgically transformed into remote-controlled "biobots" could save lives & help locate earthquake survivors in hard-to-access areas. North Carolina State University's iBionics Laboratory shows how the lab's enhanced roaches can be steered with surprising precision.

Amanda Fiegl spoke to assistant professor of engineering Alper Bozkurt, who led the roach biobot project.

What exactly is a biobot? Is it like a cyborg, a combination of a living organism and a robot?

"Biobot" is short for "biological robot." It is the first stage of creating what we would call an insect cyborg.

Currently, we can steer these roaches remotely and make them stop, go, and turn. If we can have them interact independently with the technologies we've surgically implanted in them, then they will become true cyborgs.

Is it hard to perform surgery on a cockroach?

No, it's quite simple. Insects can be anesthetized by putting them in the fridge for a few hours—the cold basically makes them hibernate, so they don't move. Then you just need tweezers and a microscope.

We do a simple surgery to insert the electrodes in the roaches' antennae and cerci [rear sensors]. We also use medical-grade epoxy to glue tiny magnets to their backs, so that we can just snap on the backpack containing the wireless control system.

Your paper mentions that these biobots could help rescue earthquake survivors. How, exactly?

Their backpacks can carry a locator beacon and a tiny microphone to pick up cries for help. Of course, a human operator or computer still has to be listening and steering them. Our biobots are basically just beasts of burden. They could also carry a camera or any other kind of miniaturized sensor one can imagine.

These experiments were done in a very controlled laboratory environment, on a flat surface, so we are now in the process of building test-beds that mimic some real-life scenarios. I don't think it will be very long before we can deploy them to actually help rescue people.

Why use real cockroaches, instead of synthetic robots made from some tougher material?

They come with a self-powered locomotion system. And they have biological autonomy to help them survive—they will run away when they sense danger, which makes them hard to trap or squash. That's really useful in uncertain, dynamic environments.

How many roach biobots have you created so far? Are most of them male or female?

More than ten. We paint them with different colors of nail polish to tell them apart. We prefer to work with females, because they can carry eggs inside, so they are theoretically better at carrying payloads. But it works on males as well.

Can you explain exactly how you are able to steer the biobots?

We use electric pulses to stimulate their antenna sensor cells, making them think there is an obstacle to navigate around.

Cockroaches use their antennae as touch sensors, similar to the way a blind person might use their hands to recognize the environment. So when we stimulate the antennal sensor on the roach's right side, it makes a left turn, and vice versa. We also stimulate their cerci to make them go forward. Cerci are the sensors at the very back of the insect that sense any predator behind.

Do the electrical pulses hurt the roaches?

No, there are a lot of scientific papers and evidence that show that invertebrates don't have the sense of pain as we, humans, perceive it. So it was not like we were zapping them and they were reacting to pain. Their reflexes were simply navigating them around perceived obstacles.

We don't want to torture cockroaches. Actually, we hope that our research will help the public to appreciate the importance and complexity of these little folks that we share an ecosystem with. Personally, I can't even kill pest insects at home since I appreciate them so much!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Return To Babylon

Haunted Film
This movie is said to have real paranormal phenomena occurring right before your eyes. The ghosts of dead actors or demons can be seen morphing in the film! “Return To Babylon” a silent film by Alex Monty Canawati is gaining interest among paranormal researchers as well as cinema experts for its spontaneous morphing of the actors into hideous monstrosities.

“Return To Babylon” is a silent, black and white film based on Hollywood scandals and tragedies from the early 1900′s. Mr. Canawati ,who became a professional film maker in 1993, wanted to make a old style silent film. While walking back to his car one night he came upon a bag of what appeared to be trash, but after looking in the bag he found a case of factory sealed black and white film. This is how “Return To Babylon” came to be. As strange as it is to find 19 rolls of unopened black and white film it is nothing compared to what he would find while going over the raw unedited footage.

Mr. Canawati along with a photography teacher from the Brooks Institute of Photography found the first anomalies while watching the film frame by frame in Febuary of 2004. No special effects were used in the production of “Return To Babylon” yet there are frames where actors hands morph into long, pointy, webbed hands. Noses suddenly become long and pointy, and faces hideously distort. According to the Brooks Institute of Photography the film “breaks all rules of cinema logic.”

The frames have also been looked at by Dr. Albert Taylor, and several paranormal groups have seen the stills online and can offer no explanations for the strange morphings.

There are other paranormal anomalies in this film as well. Watch this short clip.

The cast includes: Jennifer Tilly as “it” girl CLARA BOW    Maria Conchita Alonso as LUPE VELEZ    Debi Mazar as GLORIA SWANSON  Ione Skye as VIRGNIA RAPPE (who would meet a tragic end in the Fatty Arbuckle tragedy that would destroy his life as well)    and Tippi Hedren as MRS. PEABODY, a studio executive.

During the production, many of the cast and crew felt strange sensations. Jennifer Tilly was particularly vocal about “ghosts and spirits” touching her. This could very well be because they filmed in the mansions/estates of silent movie stars such as Norma Talmadge, Antonio Moreno, and Rudy Valentino.

These locations are known to be haunted!!!!!!!!!!

What appeared on the actual negatives of the film was completely baffling. The actors took on various appearances, including some sinister images. The film was studied extensively by professionals and said the actors were “morphing” – a costly and time consuming animation process. How could this manifest on its own? We must come to conclude rationally that there is some Higher Power that is behind this phenomenon.


What you are seeing is not the product of special effects!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Zombie Apocalypse Plans

FEMA follows the CDC in plans for a zombie apocalypse! Why is FEMA making plans for a zombie apocalypse?

The Federal Emergency Management Agency became the latest federal government agency to shamble onto the zombie bandwagon, following in the footsteps of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the agency that captured the hearts of internet geeks everywhere when it unveiled its "Zombie Apocalypse" preparedness page and social media campaign last year.

"We need something that gets their attention, so I applaud that," said Richland Fire Chief Grant Baynes, who is involved in local disaster planning.

Baynes likened getting the public engaged in emergency planning to "trying to sell an umbrella on a sunny day."

In a place that's relatively disaster-free -- the Tri-Cities doesn't get catastrophic hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes or floods as other parts of the United States -- residents can become complacent and forget that a flu pandemic or some other disaster might be around the corner.

Baynes said it's good that people feel safe, but he'd also like them to be mindful that life is unpredictable.

"Preparedness isn't just a technical thing," he said. "It's mental. It's an attitude. It's that same attitude that says, 'I know there is that potential, so I'll buy this umbrella now while I have the opportunity.' "

Robin Allbrandt, regional emergency preparedness and response coordinator at the Benton Franklin Health District, said public agencies can and do make meticulous plans for what to do in case of a variety of types of disasters or crises, but those plans work best when individuals also prepare for the worst.

"That's critical," she said. "We try to remind people they need to be responsible for their own preparedness. We can't do our jobs effectively if our community doesn't do their job to make sure their families are safe."

The Associated Press reported that among FEMA's recommendations during a "zombie preparedness" webinar Thursday were to have an emergency evacuation plan and a change of clothes, plus storing fresh water, extra medications and emergency flashlights.

Brian Calvert, emergency planner for Benton County Emergency Management, told the Herald that a key part of preparedness for individuals or families is to put together a disaster kit with food, water, blankets and other supplies to get through the first 72 hours of a disaster until public agencies can mobilize and help comes.

He said another important piece is having a plan for reuniting a family if something happens while parents are at work and children are at school, and a communication plan that includes an out-of-state contact who can help relay messages.

"Sometimes it's easier to coordinate with someone out-of-state than trying to make calls within a disaster area," Calvert said.

Allbrandt said supplies in a disaster kit should be replaced once a year to make sure food isn't expired or flashlight and radio batteries haven't died.

In addition to food, water and blankets, the kit should include spare cash, copies of important documents and an extra supply of medications that a family member may need if suddenly cut off from the outside world.

She also recommended thinking about what pets might need -- food, water, medications, leashes or collars -- and that residents should consider that pets might not be able to stay in the same shelter as the family if the family is evacuated from their home.

She added that zombies aren't something officials actually plan for -- but that preparedness tips apply to all kinds of disasters.

"A zombie invasion would be ... I haven't quite figured that one out yet," she said. "But one thing that's exciting about the zombie thing is that it's getting the younger population engaged."

Friday, September 7, 2012

Paranormal Activity Carlsbad

Paranormal activity in Carlsbad? If you are experiencing paranormal activity, our team of paranormal investigators are located in Carlsbad CA. We can help with hauntings, spirits & other paranormal activity. This is a free service. Contact us to schedule a paranormal investigation or to report, study or obtain help with paranormal phenomena. All consultations are confidential.

The Paranormalistics do not use aggressive tactics or extreme provoking for the safety of our team and others. Aggressive tactics can be dangerous for the people who live or work in areas that may have high levels of paranormal activity. The Paranormalistics use investigative, scientific and spiritual techniques to better understand the unknown.

All of our members are understanding of any situation and respectful of your privacy & property. Most situations have logical explanations and we will try and find them, but there are others that defy reason and are paranormal.

What are ghosts? Our theory is that ghosts are the energy of a person or animals soul that once lived. Ghosts exist in between our dimension and the next, like a radio signal that isn't quite coming in clear on our dimensional frequency. They have not fully crossed over to the spirit realm. There are multiple reasons why ghosts make themselves known to us and how they interact with the living is usually determined by what personality characteristics they had when they where alive.

Ghost Personality Characteristics
Ghosts were once human, just like you and I. It is believed that you keep your personality characteristics when you die. For example, if you where an evil person in life, you will be the same as a ghost. Mean spirited ghosts usually torment the living at haunted locations, feeding off the victims fear energy. The same goes for good people. If you were a loving person in life, you will be a loving ghost. Good spirited ghosts are usually very protective of families that live in haunted locations.Remember not all ghosts are bad.

Why Ghosts Are Here
There are multiple reasons why ghosts make themselves known to us and why they are still here. However, there doesn't have to be a particular reason, sometimes they just happen. It can happen to anyone, at any age and remains a mystery as to why.

Contact Us

Thursday, September 6, 2012

History of Halloween

Halloween has a rich ghoulish history. Halloween or Samhain goes back thousands of years. Here is a short history of Halloween!

Halloween is the best holiday with ancient roots that had a much greater meaning than the fun, costume-filled holiday that we know today. Around 2,000 years ago, the Celts, who lived in what is now the United Kingdom, Ireland, and northern France, had a festival commemorating the end of the year. Their New Year was November 1, and this festival was called Samhain, pronounced sow-en. The end of their year signaled the end of summer, the end of the harvest season, and the beginning of a long, hard winter that often caused many deaths of animals and people.

Weaker livestock were often killed and eaten during this holiday, since most likely, they would not survive the winter anyway. Because of this, and the cruel winter to come, this time of year signified death to the Pagan Celtics. They believed the night before the New Year, that the wall between the living and the dead was open, allowing spirits of the dead, both good and bad, to mingle among the living. Some of these spirits were thought to possess living people, cause trouble, ruin crops, or to search for passage to the afterlife.

Samhain was considered a magical holiday, and there are many stories about what the Celtics practiced and believed during this festival. Some say the spirits that were unleashed were those that had died in that year, and offerings of food and drink were left to aid the spirits, or to ward them away.

Celts wore masks and roamed around making noise to scare the spirits away. Many thought they could predict the future and communicate with spirits as well during this time. Some think the heavily structured life of the Pagan Celtics was abandoned during Samhain, and people did unusual things, such as moving horses to different fields, moving gates and fences, women dressing as men, and vice versa, and other trickeries now associated with Halloween. Another belief is that the Celtics honoured, celebrated, and feasted the dead during Samhain.

A sacred, central bonfire was always lit to honor the Pagan gods, and some accounts say that individual home fires were extinguished during Samhain, either to make their homes unattractive to roving spirits, or for their home fires to be lit following the festival from the sacred bonfire. Fortunes were told, and marked stones thrown into the fire. If a person's stone was not found after the bonfire went out, it was believed that person would die during the next year. Some Celts wore costumes of animal skulls and skins during Samhain. Faeries were believed to roam the land during Samhain, dressed as beggars asking for food door to door. Those that gave food to the faeries were rewarded, while those that did not were punished by the faeries. This is reported to be the first origin of the modern "trick or treat" practice.

In the First century A.D., the Roman Empire had taken over most of the Celtic lands. The Romans had two festivals also celebrated at the same time of year as Samhain. One was Feralia, also in late October, was the Roman day honouring the dead. The second festival was for Pomona, the Roman goddess of trees and fruit. Pomona's symbol was the apple. These two festivals were combined with Samhain in the Celtic lands during the four hundred years the Roman Empire ruled over the Celts. The goddess Pomona's apple might be the root of the Halloween tradition of bobbing for apples.

Over the next several hundred years, Christianity had spread to include the lands inhabited by the Celtics and the Romans, but the festival of Samhain was still celebrated by the people. The Christian church reportedly did not like a festival with Pagan roots practiced by Christians, so a replacement was needed. Pope Boniface IV designated May 13 as All Saints Day to honour dead church saints and martyrs. Samhain continued to be celebrated, so in 835 A.D., Pope Gregory IV moved the holiday to November 1, probably to take attention away from the Pagan Samhain festival and replace it. Since All Saints Day was sanctioned by the church, and related to the dead, the church was happy, but many Pagan traditions of Samhain continued to be practiced, including bonfires, parades, and dressing up in costume. All Saints Day was also known as All Hallows, or All Hallowmas (Hallowmas is Old English for All Saints Day). Since Samhain was celebrated the night before November 1, the celebration was known as All Hallows Eve, and later called Halloween. In the year 1000 A.D., the church designated November 2 as All Souls Day, to honour the dead who were not saints, and they eventually became combined and celebrated as Hallowmas.

On All Souls Day in England, the poor would "go a-souling". They would go door to door asking for food, and in return, would pray for the souls of their dead relatives. It was widely believed at the time that the souls of the dead would await passage into heaven until enough people prayed for their souls. The Christian church encouraged this practice to replace the old Pagan tradition of leaving cakes and wine out for the spirits of the dead. The poor would be given "soul cakes", which were pastries made for those who promised to pray for their dead relatives. In some cultures, soul cakes would be given in exchange for a performance or song as well. Children eventually adopted this practice, and were given food, ale, or money.

Jack o'lanterns are a Halloween staple today, with at least two historical roots. The early Pagan Celtic peoples used hollowed out turnips, gourds, or rutabagas to hold an ember from the sacred bonfire, so they could light their home fires from the sacred bonfire. Another tale from folklore gives jack o'lanterns their name. In Irish myth, a man known as "Stingy Jack", who was a swindler and a drunk, who asked the devil to have drink with him. Jack convinced the devil to change himself into a coin so he could pay for the drink, but Jack put the coin in his pocket next to a silver cross, which trapped the devil, preventing him from changing himself back. Jack agreed to free the devil on the condition that the devil would not bother Jack for a year. Next year, Jack tricks the devil into climbing a tree to fetch a piece of fruit. While the devil is up the tree, Jack carves a cross into the trunk, preventing him from climbing back down the tree. In order to get out of the tree, the devil promised Jack not to seek his soul any more. When Jack died, he was not allowed into heaven, because of his drunken and swindling ways, but he was not allowed into hell either, because the devil kept his word. Taking pity on Jack, the devil gave him an ember to light his way in the dark, putting it into a hollowed out turnip for Jack to carry on his lonely, everlasting roamings around the Earth. People from Ireland and Scotland would make "Jack o'lanterns" during this season to scare away Stingy Jack and other evil spirits wandering about.

Over the next several centuries, superstitions about witches and black cats were added to to the folklore and legends of Halloween. Cats were thought of as evil, especially black cats, and were killed by the thousands in Medieval times, possibly contributing to the Black Plague, due to the shortage of the rat's natural enemy, the cat. During this time, the church created the belief that evil witches existed.

In the 1500's, Martin Luther created the Protestant Church, which had no saints, so no All Hallows Day was allowed. On November 5, 1606, Guy Fawkes was executed for attempting to blow up England's Parliament. Fawkes, along with an extremist Catholic organization he belonged to, wanted to remove the Protestant King James from his throne. The English wasted no time to have a celebration to replace All Hallows Day, so Guy Fawkes Day was celebrated from then on. Many traditions of All Hallows Day were practiced, such as bonfires, and children asking for money, but the reasons why were different. Bonfires were known as "bone fires" originally, because they were lit in order to burn an effigy of the Catholic pope, burning his "bones". Two hundred years later, the effigy of the pope was replaced by an effigy of Guy Fawkes, prompting children to go door to door, asking for a "penny for Guy", so they could make their effigy to burn. In the New World, the colonists celebrated Guy Fawkes Day for a while, but as the colonies became the United States of America, Guy Fawkes Day fell by the wayside.

In the United States
Halloween was not a popular observance in early United States history, as most of the early settlers were Protestant. At the time, Halloween was considered mostly a Catholic, Episcopalian, and Pagan holiday, and therefore largely ignored. In the southern colonies, such as Virginia and Maryland, there were some Halloween customs observed. The first common events were called "play parties". These parties got neighborhoods together to celebrate the harvest, dance, sing, tell stories of the dead, tell fortunes, and have pageants for children in costume. By the mid 1800's, immigration increased, and many Irish immigrants, mostly Catholics fleeing the potato famine, brought many Halloween traditions with them. Jack o'lanterns found a new face, the pumpkin, which was very plentiful in the New World. Catholics and Episcopalians sought to preserve their traditions, so started an effort in the late 1800's to popularize and make their holidays known to the general population. By campaigning to put these holidays (Halloween and All Saints Day) on public calendars, magazines and newspapers started to publicize these holidays, and soon became popular in the United States more as a community and family holiday, rather than one of great religious and supernatural importance.

By the mid twentieth century, Halloween turned into a secular holiday, community centered with parties city-wide, parades, and great costumes. Young and old enjoy this holiday, with events and parties for both children and adults. Halloween is the United States' second largest commercial holiday.

In Other Countries
Mexico, Latin America, and Spain observe All Saints Day and All Souls Day with a three day celebration starting on the evening of October 31, through November 2. In most areas of Mexico, November 1 is set aside to honour dead children, and November 2 to honour those who died as adults. Starting in mid October, shops are filled with decorations, flowers, toys made like skeletons and other macabre shapes, sweets, pastries, and candies shaped like bones, coffins, and dead bodies in preparation for the festivities. Called "Day of the Dead", the spirits of relatives are supposed to visit their families homes. An area of the home is cleared away, and an altar is erected decorated with flowers, photographs of the deceased, candies and pastries shaped like skulls inscribed with their name, candles, and a selection of the deceased's favorite foods and drinks. Even after dinner cigarettes and liquors are provided for the dear departed's after dinner enjoyment. Incense is burning to help the spirits find their way home.

In preparation for November 2, the graves of the deceased are cleaned, painted, and decorated for the occasion. Families gather November 2 for a festive family reunion. Food, drinks, and tequila are brought along, along with sometimes even a mariachi band. In some areas, fireworks announce an open-air mass, the most solemn time of the Day of the Dead. Many customs vary depending on the particular city, town, or culture, but all over Mexico, Latin American, and Spain, the Day of the Dead is considered a celebration of their departed family.

Eastern Europe's celebration of All Saints Day are usually spent by praying most of the day, praying to the Saints and thanking God. Often, they visit their departed family members at the cemeteries. Slovakia, Hungary, Lithuania, Slovenia, and Poland observe All Saints Day as a public holiday, but unlike Mexico and the United States, this day is a somber day of remembrance and reflection. France, Italy, and Germany are celebrating Halloween, American style, as does Canada. Ireland celebrates American style, but a common town bonfire, a remnant of Celtic days is still lit. England still celebrates Guy Fawkes Day on November 5 with bonfires, burning effigies of Guy Fawkes, and fireworks.