10 Hilarious Travel Mishaps That Made The News

Lots of planning and research goes into arranging the perfect holiday. Itineraries are mapped, flights and accommodations are booked, and we wait patiently to arrive at our dream destination. Finally, the big day arrives and we excitedly head off on our much anticipated trip.

However, despite the best-laid plans, things sometimes go wrong. Often, we make simple mistakes like leaving something at home, booking the wrong hotel, or missing transportation connections. Occasionally, mishaps occur that are beyond our control, and we often see tourists taking silly risks to get the perfect Instagram photo.

But a few travelers have recently had holiday mishaps that were so funny that they not only made the news but also went viral on social media. Many of these would be unbelievable if we didn’t have the photos, Youtube videos, and social media shares to prove them.

10Long-Distance Water Taxi, Anyone?

Photo credit: news.com.au

Organizing transportation connections is a vital part of planning any overseas holiday. When arranging a visit to a foreign country, the local geography can understandably become a little confusing. However, simply looking at a map or using one of the many online tools available can usually help to clarify things.

Not so for one tourist from India. His question on an online travel forum would have to be one of the funniest “dumb tourist” questions the site has ever seen, going in the news and on social media. The responses must have been plain embarrassing.

The tourist was finalizing his itinerary for a planned road trip in Australia and New Zealand. “What’s the best way to drive from Sydney to Auckland?” he asked bemused fellow travelers.

Evidently, he had failed to consult an atlas before posting his query. It is 2,155 kilometers (1,339 mi) and a three-hour plane journey across the Tasman Sea between the two cities.

Submarine or water taxi were cited as his best travel options if he didn’t want to fly.[1]

9An Unexpected Stowaway

Photo credit: traveller.com.au

Many of us have packed things in our suitcases by mistake for the trip home. The odd bath towel, book, or article of clothing can find its way into our luggage.

Imagine the shock one Scotswoman received when she was unpacking her cases to find that a large Australian reptile had stowed away in her luggage. The woman had been visiting family in Queensland, Australia, when a 60-centimeter (24 in) spotted python had appeared in her bedroom during a storm. A snake catcher was called, who searched for the reptile to no avail. It was assumed that the snake had slithered outside.

A few days later, the woman packed up and returned home to Scotland. After a 40-hour flight from Brisbane to Glasgow, imagine her surprise when she unpacked her luggage and found the snake curled safely in one of her shoes.[2]

The snake had survived the 18,000-kilometer (11,200 mi) journey unharmed and had shed its skin during the hibernation. Fortunately, the Glasgow snake catcher was more successful in catching the python. He removed it to a wildlife sanctuary.

8Pretty Venomous Sea Life

Photo credit: news.com.au

Anyone who plans a trip to Australia is aware that they have some seriously dangerous wildlife. In fact, the fear of being attacked by some of their killer critters is often the number one concern for many potential tourists.

Really, though, as long as you take a few sensible precautions and take heed of the warning signs, you are usually fairly safe. Which is why an Asian tourist’s holiday snap holding “a pretty octopus” went viral. Not for the insta-worthy shot but for her breathtaking ignorance of how much danger she had put herself in.[3]

The woman posted photos on social media holding a “pretty orange-and-blue octopus” she had found in a rock pool. The unsuspecting tourist was actually handling one of the Pacific region’s most venomous creatures, the blue-ringed octopus. A bite from this creature can cause paralysis and death within an hour. The octopus carries enough venom to kill 26 adults within minutes.

Amazingly, the tourist was able to shake the octopus from her hand before it had a chance to sting her.

7How Much Can A Koala Bear?

Photo credit: adelaidenow.com.au

It isn’t just tourists who have funny interactions with the local wildlife. A South Australian winegrower recently had his car hijacked by a koala bear that seemed to have become a little hot under the collar.

It was a scorching day when the man drove out to inspect his vineyards. He left his dog in the car with the door open so that his pet didn’t get too hot. When the man returned, he was astounded to find that a koala had jumped into the car to take advantage of the air conditioning.

Even the loud howls of protest from the dog were not enough to persuade the koala to move on. The marsupial ensconced himself firmly in the front seat, taking full advantage of the air conditioning vents.[4]

The driver eventually gave up trying to remove the cool koala and drove the hijacker to nearby bushland. There, the intoxicating lure of delicious eucalyptus leaves eventually saw the koala take off into the bush.

6Boxing Kangaroo

Photo credit: 9news.com.au

Soaring with the eagles gives paragliders a bird’s-eye view of the world, often captured on the GoPro cameras attached to their helmets. Most experienced paragliders are aware of the risks associated with changes in weather conditions, inappropriate landings, and unfortunate encounters with birdlife.

However, one Australian paraglider’s GoPro film went viral as he captured an unexpected encounter when touching down. After a morning paragliding near Canberra in the Australian Capital Territory, the man floated into a nearby national park to land. He was initially delighted to see a couple of kangaroos hopping over to say hello. Or so he thought.

Unfortunately, the ‘roos weren’t as pleased to see the man invading their territory. One of them came over to deliver a few well-timed punches to the unsuspecting paraglider before retreating into the bush.[5]

A good example of where the term “boxing kangaroo” came from.

5Have I Forgotten Something?

Photo credit: The Telegraph

We’ve all left something behind in the airport when traveling. The umbrella, the duty-free bags, maybe even a suitcase.

In early 2019, flight controllers in Saudi Arabia initially thought the cabin crew was joking when they made a request to turn back. The flight from Saudi Arabia to Malaysia was forced to turn around when a passenger realized she had left her baby in the boarding terminal.

Imagine going through the check-in, settling into your seat, listening to the safety procedures, and taking off before it occurred to you that you may be missing something?[6]

Reportedly, the flight was in midair when the mother realized she had forgotten to bring her baby with her and requested that the flight be turned back. The child was still sitting safely in the boarding area when the flight landed. Fortunately, the child was unharmed and mother and baby were reunited.

4Landing In Hot Water

Photo credit: nine.com.au

Many major tourist attractions around the world do pose potential safety risks. These usually have prominent warning signs, and protective barricades are often put in place as an additional safety measure.

However, a tourist in Yellowstone National Park stunned onlookers when he crossed the barricades and strolled up to a steaming geyser to use it as a foot spa. Apparently oblivious to the fact that the boiling waters can cause serious or fatal burns, the man proceeded to remove his shoes and socks and attempted to wash his feet in the geyser.

Fortunately, the man was relatively unharmed. He put his shoes and socks back on before heading on his way.[7]

3Modern-Day Jonah

Photo credit: africa-news.info

We’ve all heard the biblical story of the prophet Jonah who was eaten by a whale after being cast overboard from a ship during a storm. Jonah spent three days in the whale’s belly before being regurgitated onto the shore unharmed.

In early 2019, an experienced South African diver snorkeling off the coast of Port Elizabeth had a closer encounter with the marine life than he was expecting. Rainer Schimpf was well aware of the need to be vigilant for sharks chasing schools of fish.[8]

However, when he was suddenly engulfed in darkness, he suspected that he had just been mistaken for a small fish that was part of a large bait ball. A huge Bryde’s whale had taken Schimpf headfirst into its massive jaws.

Unlike Jonah, Schimpf was fortunately too large for the whale to swallow whole and apparently not to the creature’s taste that day. The whale spat out its victim, who swam away unharmed.

2Ice Queen

Photo credit: news.com.au

When we are on holiday, we are always on the lookout for that spectacular photo opportunity. One Texas grandma’s great holiday snap recently turned into a major rescue operation which went viral on social media.

While vacationing in Iceland, she and her son were strolling along the beach when they came across a large chunk of ice shaped like a throne. This looked like an ideal photo opportunity.

The woman perched herself regally on the ice chunk to pose for the shot. A freak wave suddenly broke around her, sweeping the iceberg out to sea with the grandma clinging precariously to her perch.[9]

Her family initially thought it was a prank when her son posted photos of granny floating out to sea on her ice throne and the rescue attempt which followed.

Mounting an operation to save the woman from the sea, the coast guard returned her safely to shore.

1We’ve Reached Our Destination?

Photo credit: sbs.com.au

We’ve all made travel mistakes—getting on the wrong train or bus, missing our stop, or missing the plane altogether. But at least we expect our aircraft crew to get it right, don’t we?

Not so in the case of a planeload of surprised Londoners headed for Dusseldorf in Germany.

Many of the passengers aboard the British Airlines flight noted the unusual scenery below. Some took to Google Maps and were confused to see that they were headed north toward Scotland.

It wasn’t until the plane landed in Edinburgh that the mistake became apparent. Incorrect flight details had been provided, and the crew had believed they were headed to Edinburgh.

A show of hands indicated that everyone aboard had expected to land at Dusseldorf. After several hours delay, the flight was redirected to the correct destination.[10]


10 Bizarre Forgotten Creations Of Famous Inventors

Many inventors enjoy a career that spans multiple decades yet are primarily remembered only for their most successful creation. Today, we look at some of their minor creations that were mainly forgotten by history despite their usefulness, innovation, or strangeness.

10Hiram Maxim’s Captive Flying Machines


Photo credit: John Phillips

Hiram Maxim was one of the 19th century’s most prolific inventors. His most significant achievement came in 1883, when he invented the Maxim gun, the first fully automatic machine gun. While other similar weapons like the hand-cranked gatling gun predated it, the Maxim gun was recoil-operated, portable, water-cooled, and could fire 600 rounds per minute just by pressing down the trigger. It saw plenty of action during World War I, and it eventually morphed into the Vickers gun, the machine gun used by the British Army for decades.

After the success of his machine gun, Maxim turned his attention to aeronautics. To fund his research and to boost public interest in flying, Maxim designed an amusement ride for the Earl’s Court Exhibition of 1904. It was a swing ride that used rocket-shaped cars instead of chairs and proved a massive hit.

The ride was called “Sir Hiram Maxim Captive Flying Machines.” His original plan was to add rudders and airfoils to allow riders to control their cars, but he wasn’t allowed due to safety regulations. This angered Maxim, who eventually dismissed his invention as a “glorified merry-go-round.” However, this didn’t detract from its popularity, and new “Sir Hiram Maxim Captive Flying Machines” were built at several resorts and fairgrounds throughout England. The ride at Blackpool Pleasure Beach, pictured above, is still working, making it the oldest operational ride in Europe.

9Hugo Gernsback’s Isolator


Many sci-fi fans consider Hugo Gernsback the “father of science fiction.” Indeed, the Hugo Awards for best science fiction or fantasy are named in his honor. Gernsback had a very prolific career as a magazine publisher and editor. Among many others, he launched Amazing Stories in 1926, the first sci-fi magazine in history.

During his lifetime, Gernsback’s reputation wasn’t so pristine. He tried his hand at writing, but his stories weren’t well received. He was infamous in the publishing biz for trying numerous times to stiff his writers on payment, earning the moniker “Hugo the Rat” from H.P. Lovecraft. He also fancied himself an inventor and held dozens of patents throughout his life. While Gernsback clearly had a strong vision of the future (he predicted wireless technology, television, and air conditioning), his own inventions were a bit lackluster.

A perfect example of this is “The Isolator,” a helmet that would allow its wearer to work in complete tranquility regardless of their circumstances. It was advertised as being completely soundproof and airtight, so it needed its own oxygen supply.

Gernsback first showcased his invention in the 1925 issue of Science and Invention, a magazine primarily focused on recent scientific developments. For the photograph, Gernsback himself donned The Isolator to show it in action, but oddly enough, the helmet was never put into production.

8John Logie Baird’s Socks


Photo via BBC

John Logie Baird is remembered prominently for his work on the television. Although many people had contributions that led to the TV as we know it today, Baird is usually considered the inventor of television for building and demonstrating the first working mechanical television system in 1926.

Most of his later career was spent working on improvements for the television. However, his earlier work was much more varied. Baird made several inventions, including a glass razor and pneumatic shoes for people with flat feet. These never really went anywhere, but Baird eventually found success with a new type of sock.

In 1915, Baird tried to enlist for World War I but was declared unfit for duty, so he instead worked for a munitions factory. During that time, he became aware of trench foot, a common problem for soldiers who had to wear wet socks for long periods of time. If left untreated, this resulted in infection and could even lead to amputation.

That’s how the Baird Undersock was born. It was simply another pair of socks (or “gents’ half-hose,” as it was called back then) that was worn under the regular pair to soak up moisture. It was also coated with borax, which acted as an antiseptic.

The Baird Undersock was very successful and allowed Baird to quit his job and start selling it full-time. It also benefited from a creative marketing campaign that included soldier testimonials and women walking the cities with sandwich boards promoting the undersock.

7Eugene Rimmel’s Toilet Vinegar


Photo credit: Bodleian Library

Almost 150 years after his death, Eugene Rimmel is still one of the biggest names in cosmetics. He was a pioneer of the industry who developed many new products, particularly the nontoxic mascara that is still known simply as “rimmel” in many countries. His cosmetics brand founded in 1834 is still going strong and is present in dozens of nations all over the world.

Besides making people smell nice, Rimmel also strived to improve human hygiene. Obviously, people taking more baths meant they would use more of his products, so, in essence, it was still a marketing ploy but one with a positive outcome all-around.

One of Rimmel’s first success stories was known as toilet vinegar. It was a mixture of oils with white vinegar, lavender extract, and tincture of benzoin infused for 10 days and then filtered. Originally, it was intended to be used as a moisturizer or a shampoo. However, people soon realized that the concoction was also very effective at removing stubborn stains from the toilet.

Although Rimmel never originally intended his new mixture to be used as a lavatory cleaner, he had no problem rebranding his product. His toilet vinegar was soon being sold as a “tonic and refreshing adjunct to the toilet or bath,” boasting disinfectant and sanitary properties outmatching those of any other Eau du Cologne.

6Leonardo Da Vinci’s Bronze Horse


Photo credit: Leonardo da Vinci

Back in 1482, Leonardo da Vinci was commissioned by the Duke of Milan, Francesco Sforza, to build an equestrian statue. Leonardo’s idea became known as the Gran Cavallo—a 7.3-meter (24 ft), 80-ton bronze giant that would have been the largest equestrian statue in the world.

Impressed with his plan, the Duke set aside bronze for Leonardo’s horse. However, as with many of da Vinci’s ambitious undertakings, this one required a lot of work and preparation. Equestrian statues were nothing new, but Leonardo wanted to cast the entire 80-ton horse out of one solid piece of bronze. Something like that had never been done before and, at the time, was considered impossible. Therefore, Leonardo had to devise an entirely new casting method, which he described in his notes.

Unfortunately, the master never got to see his vision come to life. By 1492, Leonardo had completed the clay model of the statue, which was dominating the landscape inside the duke’s castle. However, in the meantime, Milan had gone to war with France, and the duke had to repossess the bronze promised to Leonardo to make cannons.

Over the next seven years, Leonardo’s project was put on hold until France conquered Milan in 1499. French soldiers storming the castle promptly destroyed Leonardo’s clay model, putting an end to the Gran Cavallo. It wasn’t until a few decades ago that the horse statue was finally erected thanks to an American named Charles Dent.

5John Napier’s Bones


Photo credit: Stephen Dickson

John Napier was a prominent Scottish polymath known primarily for his contributions to mathematics. He invented logarithms and popularized the use of the decimal point, but he also studied astronomy and physics—and, as we’ve seen before, he liked to dabble in the occult.

He also invented a calculation aid called Napier’s Bones, which served as a precursor and inspiration for the first mechanical calculators. It consisted of a set of numbered rods mounted on a plate. The standard bones were set up to solve multiplication and division through simple additions and subtractions, but Napier also described how to set up his device for solving square and cube roots. The system was based on a lattice multiplication method that was first used by Arab and Indian mathematicians.

Just decades after the appearance of Napier’s Bones, the first true mechanical calculator was built, either by Blaise Pascal or Wilhelm Schickard depending on whom you believe. Even so, Napier’s Bones remained a practical tool still used hundreds of years later with only minor changes to improve the design. It also spawned several derivatives like the Genaille-Lucas ruler from 1891. However, its most significant descendant was, without a doubt, the slide rule. Built in 1621 by William Oughtred, it was based on the Napier’s Bones design and was still used centuries later by NASA during the Apollo Program.

4Nikola Tesla’s Egg Of Columbus


Photo credit: Twenty-First Century Books

There’s an apocryphal story that Christopher Columbus once issued a challenge to his critics to stand an egg on its tip. After they all failed to do so, he succeeded by tapping the egg against the table beforehand and flattening the tip. Columbus wanted to show them that something they all proclaimed to be impossible was actually very simple. Nowadays the story is brought out to illustrate creativity and thinking outside the box, but 100 years ago, Nikola Tesla took it a bit more literally.

It was 1893, the year of the Chicago World’s Fair, also named the World Columbian Exposition to mark the 400th anniversary of Columbus’s famous voyage. The “War of Currents” was underway, and Tesla wanted to use the World’s Fair to show off his alternating current induction motor.

To do so, Tesla built his own Egg of Columbus device, which was capable of standing a copper egg on its tip. The device was an iron core stator with several coils wound around it. When powered, it generated a rotating magnetic field that not only stood the metallic egg on its tip but also spun it on its major axis thanks to its gyroscopic action.

Besides being an apt exhibit for the Columbus World’s Fair, Tesla’s egg did a great job of illustrating the principles behind the rotating magnetic field, a core element of the alternating current motor. Although the original device was lost, several replicas were built and are found today in museums.

3Harold Edgerton’s Loch Ness Monster Hunter


Photo credit: Daniel P. B. Smith

Known as “Papa Flash,” Harold Edgerton invented the electronic flash and revolutionized photography. Using a stroboscope, he was able to capture never-before-seen images, including his most famous shot, reproduced above, of a bullet piercing a playing card.

Although Edgerton developed this technology in the 1930s, it took a while before it caught on. Therefore, Edgerton started looking for new areas where his technology might be implemented, and he contributed toward the development of sonar and deep-sea photography.

In 1972, Edgerton received a telegram from his friend and fellow inventor Robert Rines. Rines was asking for Edgerton’s help in finding the Loch Ness Monster as he believed Edgerton could invent new equipment capable of penetrating the loch’s brownish, murky waters. Some suspicious photographs Rines took by himself persuaded Edgerton to help.

While not necessarily a Nessie believer, Edgerton relished the opportunity to overcome the technical challenges of photographing an animal under those conditions. Over the next years, he worked on new equipment that would rise to the challenge. As late as 1987, Edgerton wrote to Rines talking about building a new “streak camera” capable of detecting moving objects.

They never found Nessie, but it wasn’t time wasted. For starters, much of the new technology invented by Edgerton made its way to normal cameras. The group did uncover a World War II Wellington bomber and found mysterious stone circles at the bottom of the lake, later to be determined to be normal rocks fallen off construction boats.

2Thomas Edison’s Electric Pen


Photo credit: Rutgers

As one of the world’s most prolific inventors, Thomas Edison had over 1,000 patents. While not one of his best known inventions, the electric pen was one of Edison’s first success stories. At this time, Edison was a 28-year-old, little-known inventor who was researching ways of improving the telegraph. Edison noticed that the stylus of the printing telegraph left a mark beneath the paper as it punctured it. Together with his colleague and fellow inventor Charles Batchelor, he devised a duplicating machine that used perforated paper as a stencil and made copies from it.

The electric pen was the main component of a set that also included a wet-cell battery, an ink roller, and a holder, stand, and duplicating press all made from cast iron. The whole thing more resembled a sewing machine, as the pen didn’t actually write but rather punched thousands of tiny holes in perforated paper to create a stencil. Then the paper would be placed in the duplicator, and the ink roller was used to make as many copies as desired. The machine boasted that it could perform 15 copies per minute and 15,000 total copies from a single stencil.

Edison’s electric pen became the first commercial appliance with an electric motor. It was also the first invention he put into mass production. It was successful and sold all over the world but became rather outdated once the typewriter was invented.

1Alexander Graham Bell’s Vacuum Jacket


Photo credit: Alexander Graham Bell

Despite his close association with the telephone, Alexander Graham Bell maintained a lifelong interest in many other fields such as aviation and medicine. This led to several notable inventions, such as an early metal detector built to save President James Garfield and an artificial respirator that was a forerunner to the iron lung.

Around the same time that Bell was trying to save the president’s life, his wife was pregnant with their third child. Although Edward Bell was born on August 15, 1881, he died after a few hours due to breathing problems. Wanting to prevent this from happening in the future, Bell built a primitive artificial respirator he called a vacuum jacket.

The jacket consisted of an iron cylinder wrapped tight around the patient’s chest. The helper could change the air pressure inside the cylinder with a hand pump, thus compressing and releasing the patient’s chest and transporting air in and out of the lungs.

In 1882, Bell built a smaller version of the vacuum jacket that could be used on animals and proceeded to revive a lamb with it. Over the next decades, Bell perfected his invention. It was never used on a large scale. However, the vacuum jacket did illustrate the basic principles used later on in the iron lung.

Top 10 Unfortunate Or Embarrassing Deaths

History is littered with heroic and great deaths – most of which we are all familiar with. But in the dark recesses of the past, there are a number of very embarrassing or unfortunate deaths. Deaths that their victim would prefer us not to know about. This list is all about throwing the light on these poor people who have the misfortune of being remembered partly for a shameful end. This list is in chronological order.

10Empedocles430 BC


Manner of death: Threw himself into a volcano to become immortal

Empedocles was a Greek philosopher who is probably best remembered for his classical theory of the four elements. He was the last Greek philosopher to write his theories down in verse form. Legend has it that Empedocles threw himself into the active volcano Mount Etna in Sicily in order to fool his followers into believing that his body had vanished and that he would return as a god. Unfortunately for Empedocles, one of his sandals survived the fury of the volcano and it was discovered by his followers – revealing their leader’s deceit.9Pyrrhus of Epirus272 BC


Manner of death: Killed when he was stunned by a tile thrown by an old lady

Pyrrhus of Epirus was one of the greatest conquerors – his heavy losses in one campaign has led to the term “pyrrhic victory” being coined in his honor. Pyrrhus was such a great warrior that a Spartan royal (Cleonymus) asked him to defeat Sparta and put him on the throne. Pyrrhus was defeated – having underestimated the strength of the Spartan warriors, so he moved on to his next campaign in Argos. As he entered the city through the narrow streets on the back of an elephant, an old woman (unhappy with the conflict) threw a roof tile at him from her balcony. The tile stunned Pyrrhus which allowed a common foot soldier to stab him – killing him.8Eleazar Maccabeus162 BC

Picture 1-60

Manner of death: Killed by the elephant he killed

Eleazar Maccabeus’ death is told in the Old Testament book of “I Maccabees”. During the Battle of Beth-zechariah, Eleazar thought he saw the enemy King Antiochus V riding an elephant near by. Thinking he would perform a heroic act by killing the elephant and king, Eleazar jumped under the elephant and stabbed it in the stomach with his spear. The dead elephant fell right on top of Eleazar killing him instantly. To add insult to injury, it was not even the King’s elephant.7Emperor Valerian260 AD


Manner of death: Used as a footstool then skinned

Valerian was a noble Roman who became Emperor Valerian I. During his disastrous reign, the western empire fell into total disrepair. In 260 AD, Valerian was defeated in the Battle of Edessa and taken captive by the Persian King Shapur I. In order to humiliate the Emperor, Shapur used him as a footstool. When he grew tired of his footstool, Shapur had Valerian skinned and had his skin stuffed with dung and straw and put on display in one of the large Persian temples.6Humphrey de Bohun1322 AD


Manner of death: Speared through the anus

Humphrey do Bohun was a member of a very powerful Anglo-Norman family in England. He spoke out against the excesses of the King (Edward II). While leading troops at the Battle of Boroughbridge, Humphrey de Bohun (4th Earl of Hereford) met with a rather unpleasant end:

“[Humphrey de Bohun] led the fight on the bridge, but he and his men were caught in the arrow fire. Then one of de Harclay’s pikemen, concealed beneath the bridge, thrust upwards between the planks and skewered the Earl of Hereford through the anus, twisting the head of the iron pike into his intestines. His dying screams turned the advance into a panic.”

Strangely, death via anal insertion was not entirely uncommon during this period of the middle ages, as the next item will attest.5King Edward II1327 AD

Edward Ii

Manner of death: Speared through the anus with a hot poker

Edward II was King of England for 20 years (from 1307 – 1327). Edward greatly upset the nobility in England because he preferred low-born citizens and had many “special” male friends – who received extravagant and expensive gifts. After he abdicated the throne and was imprisoned, his wife Isabella (disturbed by the close relationship the king had shared with a young man in the Royal Court) brought about his execution in secret:

“On the night of 11 October while lying in on a bed [the king] was suddenly seized and, while a great mattress… weighed him down and suffocated him, a plumber’s iron, heated intensely hot, was introduced through a tube into his secret private parts so that it burned the inner portions beyond the intestines.”



Manner of death: Tripped over his skirts and fell down some stairs

Humayun Mughal Emperor who ruled modern Afghanistan, Pakistan, and parts of northern India from 1530–1540 and again from 1555–1556. He was a great lover of the arts and astronomy and left behind a great legacy as a consequence. However, he was also very religious and this is what led to his downfall (literally). As he was carrying books from the library, Humayun heard the call the prayer. It was his habit to kneel on one knee when the call was made, and as he bent his knee, his foot got caught in the folds of his long robes. He happened to be standing at the top of a small flight of stairs. Humayun fell all the way down and hit his temple on a jagged rock – which killed him.3Arthur Aston1649

19Th Century Wooden Leg1

Manner of death: Beaten to death with his wooden leg

Sir Arthur Aston was a lifelong professional soldier, most noted for his support for King Charles I in the English Civil War. He was a great soldier who saw a great deal of action during his lifetime. In September 1644, he fell from a horse and ended up with a wooden leg which was later used in his murder. In 1649, Oliver Cromwell’s forces attacked his town in the Siege of Drogheda and ordered that everyone be executed. Aston offered to surrender but the soldiers who captured him believed that he was hiding gold in his leg. They ripped it off and beat him to break open the leg. Unfortunately it was solid wood and it killed Aston.2Julien Offray de La Mettrie1751


Manner of death: Ironically ate himself to death

Julien Offray de La Mettrie was a French doctor, philosopher, and potentially the founder of cognitive science. He believed that sensual pleasures (such as eating, sex, and play) were the sole reason for life, and so he decided to live his life by that principle. Julien was an atheist and believed that life on earth was just a farce to be lived and ended in self-gratification. Ironically, he died rather painfully after eating too much truffle pate at a feast held in his honor by a man he cured of an illness.1Band? Mitsugor? VIII1975


Manner of death: Died after eating pufferfish which he claimed to be immune to

Band? Mitsugor? VIII was one of Japan’s most highly regarded Kabuki (a type of dance/drama) actors – so much so that he was declared a national treasure. On the 16th of January, the natural treasure decided to dine out on fugu liver (highly toxic) claiming that he was immune to it. The fugu chef who served him said that he simply could not refuse to serve the deadly livers to such an esteemed gentleman. Needless to say, Mitsugoro died within 7 hours.

10 Unusual Ways to Die Through the Ages

There is one certainty in life, and that is that it must end. Every living thing will eventually die; some just pass in stranger and sometimes funnier ways than others. This list is written in chronological order, moving up through time. There are hundreds of examples of strange deaths throughout history, so if you can think of any that were omitted, please share them in the comments.

10Chrysippus of Soli207 BC

Chrysippus Of Soli

Chrysippus was a Greek stoic philosopher. He spent his life thinking about the world and how it works. During his lifetime, he devised various theories on topics such as ethics, mathematics, physics, epistemology and religion. His favorite topic of thought was, without a doubt, logic. He made it onto this list because of the humorous way that he died. He fed a donkey some wine and watched it eat figs from a tree. He found this visual so funny that he started laughing and he never stopped. Laughing causes strained breathing, and continuous hard laughing can put the heart at strain and, as in this case, cause death.9Sigurt The Mighty892 AD


Sigurt Eysteinsson was the second Viking Earl of Orkney. He was a vicious and relentless Viking leader with many enemies. Late in his rule, he challenged one of his enemies (Máel Brigte the Bucktoothed) to a 40 man-per-side battle. Sigurt was an untrustworthy Viking, and he brought 80 men to the battle; they cut down Máel and his troops effortlessly. After the battle, Sigurt decided to take a trophy of his win and tied Máel’s head to his horse. As he rode, the head knocked against his leg, causing a tooth to make a small scratch. Considering there are more bacteria in a person’s mouth than in their butt, and the poor medical knowledge of the age, it is not surprising that his leg became severely infected and he died days later.8Sir Arthur Aston1649


Sir Arthur was a lifelong soldier and served under King Charles I in the English Civil war. During his life at war, he lost a leg. This lost limb would eventually be his downfall; his untimely demise came as the result of thieves beating him to death with his own peg leg. They believed that he hid money in a chamber in the leg (he did not) and continued to beat him with it until it broke open to reveal nothing. By this time Arthur had died a brutal death in vain.7Henry Hall1755


Henry Hall was the lighthouse keeper of the Eddystone Lighthouse, in Cornwall. On the 3rd of December, 1755, a fire broke out in the wooden Rudyerd’s Tower. Henry and his two companions tried in vain, but could not put out the fire. They escaped onto the rocks outside the lighthouse, before watching the rest of the lighthouse burnt down. The next morning, all three of them were rescued off the rocks by boats. On the 5th of December, Henry suddenly died, regardless of showing signs of improvement. An autopsy performed after his death revealed that, whilst looking up at the burning light house, a piece of molten lead fell into his mouth, burning its way through his esophagus and ending in his stomach. The doctor removed a six ounce piece of lead burnt into his stomach lining.6Clement Vallandigham1871


Clement Vallandigham was a US congressman and political opponent of President Abraham Lincoln, and was representing a defendant in a murder trail when he died. The accused was said to have killed a man during a barroom brawl. Clement argued that it could have been possible for the man to shoot himself in the leg as he drew his pistol out of his pocket. While demonstrating with a loaded gun, Clement accidentally shot himself in the leg, severing the femoral artery, resulting in death a few minutes later. The defendant was acquitted and set free.5Phillip McClean1926

Cassowary Attack

On the 6th of April, 1926, Phillip McClean and his brother (16 and 13) walked into their garden to discover a cassowary (3rd largest flightless bird) relaxing on their lawn. The boys decided to kill the bird by hitting it with a bat. Phillip took a swing but missed, managing only to anger the bird. The bird jumped up and aimed a round house kick at Phillip’s neck, catching him dead on. Phillip managed to get up and run away, only to drop dead after a short distance, from severe blood loss. Cassowaries are known to be dangerous birds, but out of 221 recorded attacks, this is the only death.4Len Koenecke1935

55 1

Len was a Major League baseball player, who played for both the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Giants. During an unsuccessful season playing for the Dodgers, Len was cut due to his ever-increasing alcohol problem. On the flight home to New York he became aggressive and had to be restrained after fighting with flight attendants, other passengers and the captain. Once in New York, Len chartered a flight to Buffalo. On the flight his alcohol consumption increased and, again, he became aggressive. He decided to pick a fist fight with the pilot in mid-flight. When the co-pilot and flight attendant could not intervene in the assault, the pilot then hit him over the head with a fire extinguisher to subdue him, and made an emergency landing on a race track. Len died of a fractured skull and severe hemorrhaging of the brain.3Alan Stacey1960


Alan Stacey was a British Formula 1 driver for Lotus. During the Belgian Grand Prix of 1960, Alan was driving 120 mph/190 km/h, when a bird flew into his face. Alan lost control of the car and he climbed the embankment on a tight turn, which sent him flying into thick bush hedges, only to come to a stop in a field beyond the hedges. It is still unknown exactly how or when in this accident Alan died: it could have been the force of the bird that broke his neck, or the bird could have knocked him out and then he died in the colossal accident that resulted. Ultimately, it’s irrelevant when he died during the accident because, with luck like that, death could never have been very far away.2Bena Tshadi Team1998

A97896 Lightning 1-Soccer-Team

In October 1998, during a football/soccer match in the eastern Kasai Province of the Democratic Republic of Congo, a freak strike of lightening hit the pitch. The score was 1-1 when the lightening hit the visiting team. It killed all 11 members of the Bena Tshadi, team and burned 31 other people on and around the field. The home team (Basanga) was left completely unharmed, which called up a lot of suspicion of witchcraft. Strange as it may seem, this was not the first instance of lightning hitting a football field, as a similar incident was reported only weeks prior to this incident in South Africa, where lightning struck the field, causing several players to fall to the ground and seven to be taken to hospital. Luckily, in that case there were no fatalities.1Acton Beale2011


Acton Beale fell seven stories from a balcony of a flat block in Brisbane. This all happened whilst attempting to plank on the balcony railings of the 7th story. Planking is a fairly modern internet craze in which participants lie face down on various objects and upload photographic evidence of it online. Planking is known in various other countries as playing dead, extreme lying down and face-downs. Beale’s untimely death has provoked a growing concern regarding the fad, but has not stopped millions of people around the world, including Hugh Hefner, from trying it out.

10 Weird Court Cases Involving Puppets, Animals, And Human Fetuses

Nonliving objects and animals are not always safe from litigation. Over the years, people have sued animals and even inanimate objects like puppets. In turn, people have been sued by animals and nonhuman objects.

Obviously, lawsuits of this nature aren’t actually filed by animals or nonliving things but by people or groups. While the following court cases are bizarre, hilarious, or both, they show just how far people will go to get justice.

10Musician Loses Court Battle Against Puppet

Photo credit: AP/Schalk van Zuydam

South African musician Steve Hofmeyr holds the rare distinction of having lost a court case to a puppet. The puppet in question is Chester Missing, which is owned by South African ventriloquist and comedian Conrad Koch (pictured above with Chester).

The whole thing began in November 2014, when Hofmeyr blamed black people for apartheid. Koch replied in a series of tweets he posted on his personal Twitter page and Missing’s Twitter page in which he criticized Hofmeyr over his racist statement. One of his messages urged Hofmeyr’s sponsors to cancel their contracts with the musician.

Hofmeyr requested for a protection order against Koch and Missing over what he called threats and harassment. However, he failed to receive the order when a court determined that Koch and Missing had done nothing wrong and could tweet about Hofmeyr. The court also ordered Hofmeyr to pay Koch and Missing’s attorney fees.

Koch quickly returned to making tweets about Hofmeyr, who he called “Racistboy.” The less-than-amused Hofmeyr accused the courts of siding with the comedian and his puppet.[1]

9Kansas Sues A Toyota Truck And Loses

In 2018, the state of Kansas lost a lawsuit against a Toyota pickup truck. Sergeant Christopher Ricard of the Geary County Sheriff’s Department stopped the truck over a partially obscured traffic plate. However, he impounded it when Scooby, his police dog, sniffed out 11.9 grams of marijuana hidden inside the vehicle. Sergeant Ricard also found $84,000 in cash.

The state filed to seize the vehicle and money. Considering that it was a civil forfeiture case, the state listed the truck, money, and marijuana as defendants instead of the two men driving it. However, the court determined that the state could not legally seize the truck and money because Sergeant Ricard had illegally extended the stop to allow Scooby to sniff the vehicle.[2]

8Police Dog Wins Lawsuit Filed By A Burglar It Bit

Photo credit: Gwinnett County Police Department

On July 6, 2013, a Georgia man named Randall Kevin Jones broke into his ex’s home and stole several items, including her television, camera, and game console. The unnamed ex called the police after spotting Jones leaving her home. Officers from the Gwinnett County Police Department responded to the scene.

The police found Jones and ordered him to surrender. Jones didn’t and started to run. He continued running, even after an officer threatened to send a police dog after him. The officer ultimately unleashed the dog, named Draco. Draco bit Jones, sending him falling into a ravine. Jones required some stitches for his injuries.

Two years later, Jones sued the police department for “excessive use of force.” As defendants, he named at least three officers and the dog, which was listed as “Officer K-9 Draco of the Gwinnett County Police Department in his individual capacity.” Jones claimed Officer K-9 Draco bit him “for what seemed like a lifetime.” He also claimed the officers watched and didn’t try to get Draco off him as this was happening.

Gwinnet County tried to have the lawsuit dismissed, but a federal judge rejected this, so the county appealed. Finally, Judge Robin Rosenbaum of the 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta threw the case out, saying, “We hold that a dog may not be sued individually for negligence since a dog is not a person.” She added that dogs cannot be issued a subpoena, cannot get an attorney, and cannot pay damages if found guilty.[3]

7Judge Stops Horse From Suing Its Owner

Photo credit: WFTS-TV

In 2018, a horse in Oregon sued its owner for neglect. It requested $100,000 in damages. However, a judge threw the case out because horses cannot sue their owners, or anybody for that matter. The horse itself did not file the lawsuit, though. The Animal Legal Defense Fund did on its behalf.

The horse, named Justice, was owned by Gwendolyn Vercher, who had left it outside in the cold. Justice was hungry, thirsty, and underweight by 136 kilograms (300 lb) at the time it was rescued. It also suffered from frostbite. Vercher was charged with neglect of an animal and paid for the horse’s treatment.

However, the Animal Legal Defense Fund filed the lawsuit because Justice could need money for further treatment. The court ruled the horse could not file the lawsuit because otherwise, courts would soon be filled with animals suing their owners. Gwendolyn Vercher said the lawsuit was “outrageous.”[4]

6Aborted Fetus Sues Abortion Clinic

Photo credit: WAAY-TV

In March 2019, Ryan Magers sued the Alabama Women’s Center for Reproductive Alternatives in Huntsville, Alabama, for aborting his unborn child. Also listed as defendants were the company that made the pill used for the abortion, the doctor who did the abortion, and every organization the doctor worked with.

Ryan Magers called the fetus Baby Roe. He claimed his girlfriend aborted Baby Roe in February 2017. She was six weeks pregnant at the time and went ahead with the abortion after he refused. Magers said he filed the lawsuit because he wants the law to protect fathers of unborn children.

For now, the law allows the mother to abort the baby without any consideration from the father. The lawsuit has raised eyebrows among feminists and pro-abortion advocates. The case is currently ongoing.[5]

5Monkey Selfie Ends In A Win For Photographer

Photo credit: David Slater

In 2008, photographer David Slater encountered a troop of crested black macaques while taking pictures at an Indonesian wildlife park. While he concentrated on shooing some curious monkeys, others snuck to his camera, which was on a tripod, and started to click on the shutter.

The monkeys took hundreds of pictures, some of which included Slater. However, the most popular was a selfie taken by a monkey that pressed on the shutter. What followed was a bizarre copyright battle between Slater and the monkey, which was named Naruto.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) claimed that Naruto owned the copyright to the picture. Slater insisted that he owned the copyright and not Naruto. In 2015, PETA filed a copyright lawsuit on behalf of Naruto. In 2017, PETA agreed to dump the lawsuit on the condition that Slater gave them 25 percent of the royalties he received from the images.

However, in 2018, a court stopped PETA from settling the lawsuit because it wanted to pass judgment that would allow judges to decide over similar incidents in the future. The court ruled that animals cannot file or own copyrights. This effectively gave copyright ownership to Slater.[6]

4Wheelchair Thief Sues Police Dog

Photo credit: KGTV

On April 23, 2015, 55-year-old Stanley McQuery broke into the Hillcrest, San Diego, home of 79-year-old William Ballard. He attacked Ballard and stole his phone and electric wheelchair. He also demanded money. The police were called in.

Officers found McQuery in the neighborhood. For some reason, his getaway vehicle was Ballard’s wheelchair, which traveled at a pitiable 3.2 kilometers per hour (2 mph). The police sent a dog after McQuery after he refused orders to stop. McQuery was ultimately sentenced to 16 years in prison because he already had three felony convictions.

In 2016, McQuery sued the police dog for “excessive force, assault and battery” while in prison. He demanded $7 million in compensation. He claimed he was already on the ground at the time the officer set the dog on him. He added that the officer told the dog, “Eat him up, eat him up.”

McQuery later claimed he made a mistake by naming the dog as a defendant. He said he loved dogs and never planned to sue a dog. However, this does not explain the fact that he listed the dog as a defendant twice.[7]

3Monkey Gets Charged With Assault For Attacking Woman

On November 29, 1877, The New York Times reported that one Ms. Mary Shea lost a lawsuit against Jimmy Dillio, a monkey owned by one Mr. Casslo Dillio. Trouble began for Jimmy when Mr. Dillio took him to Ms. Shea’s shop. Shea offered Jimmy a piece of candy, which he accepted while chattering in appreciation.

However, Jimmy turned violent and bit Ms. Shea’s finger when she playfully attempted to retrieve the candy. Mrs. Shea got Mr. Dillio and Jimmy arrested and taken to court. Judge Flammer threw the case out, saying the that court could not charge monkeys. Jimmy reportedly exhibited some gentlemanly behavior by doffing his hat after Judge Flammer delivered the decision.[8]

2Woman Attempts To Get Monkeys Charged With Sexual Assault

In 2015, 23-year-old Melissa Hart tried getting a pair of monkeys arrested and charged with sexual assault while he was visiting Gibraltar. She was watching the Barbary macaques when two of them attacked her without warning.

The monkeys scratched her with their paws, pulled at her clothes and hair, and removed her bikini top. She screamed for help during the attack, but nearby tourists just laughed. She was saved when a warden chased the monkeys away.

A startled, embarrassed, and angry Ms. Hart reported the incident to the police and tried to file charges against the monkeys. The officers turned down her request because monkeys are wild animals and cannot be charged. One officer even asked her if she could identify the monkeys in a police lineup.[9]

1Man Sues Police Dog After He Was Bitten

Photo credit: Marion County Sheriff’s Office

In 2018, 66-year-old Joseph Carr of Oregon sued a police dog named Rolo and its handler, Deputy Jason Bernards of the Marion County Sheriff’s Office, because Rolo bit him. Rolo bit Carr on September 18, 2016, as Carr attended the opening of a store.

Carr met Deputy Bernards and Rolo standing at the entrance of the store. Bernards told Rolo to “say hi,” which Carr took as an invitation to pet the dog. However, Rolo bit Carr in the abdomen when Carr touched the canine’s ear and head. Carr sued for $50,000 in damages.

10 Fascinating Finds And Stories Involving Old Ships

The ocean likes to cull ships. Over the centuries, storms and reefs have amassed a great collection at the bottom of the sea. Wars added plenty more wrecks. When water conditions are right, skeleton crews and cargoes remain preserved for centuries.

Among other things, divers recently encountered included two of the world’s oldest artifacts on the same wreck, a unique barge, and unexpected Englishmen. The most intriguing cases often involve ships that have vanished. From the missing fleets of Columbus to wrecks disappearing from a World War II battlefield, old ships bring a mystery to match every discovery.

10The Eira Candidate

Photo credit: siberiantimes.com

Benjamin Leigh Smith was a prolific Arctic explorer. The Englishman saw places that nobody had ever seen and had many named after him. In 1881, his ship, the Eira, sank near an archipelago that today is known as Franz Josef Land.

After safely reaching solid ground, he named it for his famous relative Florence Nightingale. A few makeshift cabins at Cape Flora sheltered Smith and his crew for the next six months. They were rescued, and Smith continued with his career, earning prestigious awards and respect from the scientific world.

Despite the honors he received and the achievements that marked his expeditions, Smith was largely forgotten a few decades after his death. To rectify this, researchers spent years hunting for his steam yacht.

In 2017, a Russian crew surveyed the bottom of the sea at Cape Flora. Scanning equipment located an object the size of the Eira, and video footage gave positive feedback that the wreckage belonged to the yacht. If confirmed, the return of the Eira could help put Smith back on the map.[1]

9Sea Champagne

Photo credit: Live Science

In 2010, divers explored the seafloor off the Finnish Aland archipelago. They found a shipwreck with 168 wine bottles. The 170-year-old beverage turned out to be champagne. Some ended up in the divers’ digestive systems, and the rest made it to a laboratory.

Surprisingly, the wine’s chemical composition closely matched that of modern champagne. But there were differences. The 19th-century wine reflected the era’s sugar worship. Today’s brands contain as little as 6 grams per liter (0.8 ounces per gallon), whereas the shipwreck bottles had a stiff dose of 150 grams per liter (20 ounces per gallon). It also contained more table salt, copper, and iron.

Cork engravings suggested that the wine came from French champagne houses Heidsieck, Juglar, and Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin. The delivery was delayed by the ship’s demise, but the ocean’s conditions mimicked the perfect wine cellar.[2]

At 50 meters (160 ft) deep, the constant dark and low temperatures aged the wine surprisingly well. Wine tasters described it as “smoky, spicy, with floral and fruity notes” before taking the “smoky” further with flavors like “grilled and leathery.” Overall, a tasty bubbly.

8Diverse Mary Rose Crew

Photo credit: The Guardian

Over the years, historians populated Tudor England with white people. However, when the Mary Rose was discovered, the warship presented a strong case for a multicultural Tudor era. She was King Henry VIII’s flagship which sank in 1545 during the Battle of the Solent.

The wreck was raised in 1982 along with 30,000 artifacts and bones. The Mary Rose Trust cleaned and cataloged them for years. They recently focused on eight skeletons enigmatic enough to suggest that the warship’s crew and, by extension, perhaps Tudor England were very diverse.

DNA tests and artifacts proved that at least four were not white English.[3]

One was a Spaniard employed as a ship’s carpenter. There was also an Italian with valuable possessions, including a figurine manufactured in a Venice workshop. Another had African ancestry (northern Sahara), but researchers are almost certain that he was born in England. The fourth man was a Moor with roots along the North African coast. He was no casual passenger. The Moor was a royal archer and likely belonged to the King’s Spears, Henry VIII’s private bodyguards.

7The Missing Miniature

Photo credit: Live Science

When Howard Carter found Tutankhamen’s tomb in 1922, the treasures stunned the world. Among the artifacts were model boats meant to be used by Tutankhamen (1341 BC–1323 BC) as transportation in the afterlife. After Carter removed them, the vessels ended up in the Luxor Museum in Egypt. By 1973, one miniature ship was officially missing.

In 2019, Mohamed Atwa, one of the museum’s directors, prepared for an exhibition. He felt the display could do with some Tut artifacts and rooted through the archives.

In one of the storerooms, Atwa found a box. Inside layers of newspapers rested pieces of a model boat. Atwa recognized the wooden parts at once. The rigging set, mast, and gold-wrapped head matched another tiny vessel from Tutankhamen’s tomb.[4]

The newspapers were printed in 1933, which was probably the year that the miniature ship went missing. Not from mischief but because somebody forgot to record that they had repacked the artifact and moved the box.

6The Moving Ghost Fleet

Photo credit: Live Science

In 2017, a group of fifth graders visited Mallows Bay in Maryland. They looked at 200 wrecks from the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, and both World Wars. Over the years, the vessels were sunk on purpose. But today, they mesh together an artificial ecosystem for several species.

The children, ages 10 and 11, wanted to know more about the so-called ghost fleet. They pored over aerial maps marking the locations of the wrecks, looking specifically at maps compiled decades apart. The children wanted to see whether any ships had fallen apart or moved.[5]

The maps showed that the fleet was partially on the move. Some had scooted far from their scuttling positions, moving downriver by as much as 32 kilometers (20 mi). The inquisitive youngsters also found the reason. Over time, sometimes centuries, the wrecks got nudged along by floods and storms.

5Oldest Bell And Astrolabe

Photo credit: The Telegraph

In the maritime tradition, the name Vasco da Gama is well-known. A lesser-known fact is that the Portuguese explorer’s uncle was a pirate. Vicente Sodre captained the Esmeralda, an armed ship assigned to protect Portugal’s trading interests.

In 1502, Sodre sailed with an armada to India. Then he went his own merry way to loot and destroy Arab ships. The following year, a storm sank the Esmeralda in Oman. There she stayed unnoticed until 1998, although excavation didn’t begin until 2013.

Subsequent dives returned to the surface with a fractured ship’s bell and something resembling an astrolabe. The latter was an exceptionally rare navigation device. It was a bit messed up from all the years under the sea, but scans revealed the now-invisible marks that once helped mariners to navigate. Analysis also placed the disk’s manufacturing date around 1496.

This was significant. Not only was it rare but the tool was also the oldest of roughly 100 astrolabes still in existence. Incredibly, the ship’s bell was also the earliest ever discovered. It was dated from an inscription that included the year 1498.[6]

4Titanic‘s Fire Damage

Photo credit: history.com

The RMS Titanic was on fire before it collided with an iceberg. When the liner departed from Belfast, Northern Ireland, and sailed for Southampton, England, coal bunker No. 6 was already smoldering.

Ship officials knew of the problem and struggled for three days to bring the fireunder control. After the ship sank, the fire was brought up at the original inquiry. However, the incident was played down and the official ruling stated that the tragedy was caused by “an act of God.” New evidence suggests that criminal negligence was to blame.[7]

In 2017, an investigator found new photos of the Titanic showing dark areas on the hull—specifically, near bunker No. 6 where the future iceberg would cause the worst damage. If the investigator’s calculations are correct (he spoke with metallurgy experts), the fire lit the hull to a hellish 1,000 degrees Celsius (1,832 °F).

This sapped up to 75 percent of the metal’s strength. This frailty amplified the collision’s damage. Healthy panels might have slowed or prevented the unexpected sinking of the Titanic.

3The Columbus Mystery

Photo credit: National Geographic

The Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria became infamous after they carried Christopher Columbus to the New World in 1492. Their discovery would be unequaled by any other.

Despite decades of searching, nobody has found a single splinter. Columbus wrote that the Santa Maria hit a reef off Cap Haitien, Haiti, in 1492. The crew used the hull to raise a fortified village called La Navidad (also missing). There is no sign of the Santa Maria in the Caribbean, where teredo worms can consume a wooden wreck within years. The area was also trampled by 500 years’ worth of tropical storms—not good weather for a ship that went down in shallow waters.

Modern technology like sonar also fails to detect ships buried under centuries-old layers of sediment. The ships contained little metal as well, making a critical ship-finder tool, the magnetometer, useless. No record exists of what happened to Nina and Pinta after they returned to Europe. For that matter, Columbus sailed three more times with new fleets and none of those ships were found, either.[8]

2Mysterious Baris Found

Photo credit: Live Science

Herodotus, a famous Greek historian, once described a ship. While moseying through Egypt in 450 BC, he watched the construction of a barge. Called a baris, it had a single rudder that passed through an opening in the keel, a mast of acacia wood, and sails from papyrus.

Herodotus wrote about planks cut in 100-centimeter (40 in) pieces and stacked like bricks. He described beams stretched over certain areas and seams sealed from within using papyrus. Archaeologists had never seen such a boat.

In 2000, an epic find revealed the submerged city of Thonis-Heracleion off the Egyptian coast. Among the ruins were over 70 ancient vessels. Ship 17 might have a boring name, but it was Herodotus’s elusive baris.[9]

His writings described Ship 17’s unusual architecture. In turn, this explained enigmatic descriptions like “long internal ribs” which nobody understood until they saw Ship 17. Originally measuring 28 meters (92 ft) long, it revealed why the barges vanished. This baris was reused as a jetty, suggesting that the barges were incorporated into other structures as soon as they outlived their usefulness.

1Missing World War II Wrecks

Photo credit: sciencealert.com

During World War II, the Battle of the Java Sea was fought between the Allied forces and the Imperial Japanese Navy near Indonesia. Several ships from Britain and the Netherlands were lost as well as a submarine from the United States.

In 2016, the area was scanned with sonar. To the outrage of many, Dutch vessels HNLMS De Ruyter and HNLMS Java as well as the British HMS Exeter and HMS Encounter had completely disappeared. Significant portions were also missingfrom the HMS Electra and HNLMS Kortenaer. The submarine, the USS Perch, was also nowhere to be found.

The region is lucrative for those stealing scrap metal. Indeed, illegal scavengers have been known to disguise themselves as fisherman and blow shipwrecks apart with explosives. This treatment sparked the outrage—the ships that sank in 1942 were also the war graves of hundreds of sailors.[10]

However, the plot thickened when legal salvage companies and even Indonesian naval representatives claimed that the ships were too large and deep. Any attempt would require cranes, manpower, and months of activity, making a stealthy steal impossible.

10 Astounding Facts About Extremely Low Temperatures

Over the past 150 years, scientists have developed a number of methods for reaching extremely low temperatures. Fluids like liquid nitrogen and liquid helium, both of which have significantly low boiling points, have been put to use across numerous fields. More recently, laser cooling techniques have also been deployed.

These methods have given rise to all kinds of supercool new discoveries and inventions. From a levitating magnetic railway system and ultrasmooth novelty ice cream to state-of-the-art medical scanners, lunar cold traps, and so much more, extreme cold is proving essential for the next wave of scientific developments.

10Superconductors And Levitating Trains

Photo credit: jrailpass.com

In 1911, when scientists were first experimenting with extreme cooling techniques, Dutch physicist Heike Kamerlingh Onnes discovered something remarkable about the way that certain materials conduct electricity. He observed that simple elements like mercury can conduct electricity with zero resistance once the temperature drops below a specific threshold.

At low temperatures, these materials become perfect conductors of electricity—hence the name “superconductors.” In a closed loop of superconducting material, an electrical current would be able to flow around forever without losing any energy.

Superconductors become even more intriguing once you place one on top of a strong magnet. The strong magnetic field causes an internal magnetism to be induced in the superconductor, which is then repelled by the magnet underneath. This magnetic repulsion results in the superconductor defying gravity and floating in midair like a miniature hoverboard.

Japanese engineers have even built a railway system that runs on this exact principle. The SC Maglev trains—short for “superconducting magnetic levitation”—have superconducting magnets instead of wheels. They are cooled using tanks of liquid helium and levitate 10 centimeters (4 in) above a long magnetic track. In April 2015, the high-speed L0 Series SC Maglev train set a world record for rail travel of 603 kilometers per hour (375 mph) at a test track near Mount Fuji.[1]

Currently, all known superconductors will only operate in extreme cold, which means they have a fairly limited range of uses. Even the most complex superconducting materials like yttrium barium copper oxide lose their superconductivity once the temperature rises above -173 degrees Celsius (-279 °F). The challenge now facing scientists is to find a way of retaining these superconductive properties at room temperature.

9Magnetic Resonance Imaging

Liquid helium is a vital component for operating magnetic resonance imaging(MRI) scanners—the non-intrusive imaging technology that allows medical professionals to see inside patients’ bodies. Coils of metal wire inside the scanner are doused repeatedly in the ultracold fluid to minimize their electrical resistance. These wires generate a strong magnetic field up to 40,000 times greater than the field of the Earth.

There is a problem with this current setup: We are running low on helium. The substance is in worryingly short supply with no known way to manufacture any more. The average scanner requires 1,700 liters (449 gal) of liquid helium to cool the magnetic coils to a chilling -269 degrees Celsius (-452 °F).[2]

8Bose-Einstein Condensates

Photo credit: NIST/JILA/CU-Boulder

Low temperatures can cause some seriously strange behavior in gases. Typically, the atoms in a gas are constantly moving—whizzing around at high speed, bouncing off the walls of the container, and colliding with one another. If that gas is then heated up, the motion of the atoms will become even more energetic and frenetic.

However, when certain gases are cooled to extremely low temperatures—around -273 degrees Celsius (-460 °F)—the individual atoms start to drastically lose their energy. Eventually, when the atoms are unable to lose any more energy, they form an exotic type of matter known as a Bose-Einstein condensate (BEC).[3]

One of the most bizarre and brilliant properties of BECs is their ability to slow down and stop light. Danish physicist Lene Hau used this principle to slow down a laser beam from light speed to around 17 meters per second (56 ft/sec).

Hau and her team went on to develop a technique for storing individual pulses of light within BECs. These incredible breakthroughs could pave the way for new methods of data storage, particularly in quantum computers.

Although Albert Einstein and Satyendra Nath Bose first came up with the idea in the 1920s, it wasn’t until 70 years later that the first BEC was actually made. This was achieved in 1995 when American physicists Eric Cornell and Carl Wieman successfully cooled a gas of rubidium atoms to 170 nK—over a million times colder than outer space.

For their momentous contribution to scientific research, the pair—along with MIT professor Wolfgang Ketterle—was awarded the 2001 Nobel Prize in Physics.


Cryotherapy is a blanket term that refers to the use of low temperatures in medical treatments. More often than not, subzero chemicals are applied using a specialized cryoprobe to remove abnormal tissue cells. This includes everything from freezing off an unsightly wart to the destruction of a cancerous tumor.

Some proponents of cryotherapy claim that it has a plethora of other fantastical uses. They say that immersing yourself in a booth colder than -100 degrees Celsius (-148 °F) can prevent dementia, reduce depression, and even help you lose weight. But the evidence for this is spurious.[4]

6Craters On The Moon

Photo credit: space.com

The coldest-known place in the solar system is a lot closer to home than you might imagine. It was originally believed to be the surface of Pluto. But in 2009, scientists discovered craters around the Moon’s south pole that can drop as low as -248 degrees Celsius (-414 °F) during winter. NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter made the discovery by measuring radiation levels from 50 kilometers (31 mi) above the Moon’s surface.

The coldest temperatures are found inside lunar crevices that are permanently cast in shadow, meaning they never receive any sunlight. These subzero craters act as “cold traps,” capturing elements and volatile gases that can be analyzed to map out an archive of activity on the Moon. For instance, minerals identified in Cabeus—a 98-kilometer (61 mi) crater close to the south pole—suggest a history of comet strikes.

That being said, the surface of the Moon is not always extremely cold. In fact, the temperature varies drastically depending on time and position. The equator around midday is so hot that it could boil water, whereas the poles are nearly as cold as liquid oxygen overnight.[5]

5Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream

Regular ice cream is made using specialized commercial freezers that churn milk, cream, and sugar together into a smooth, delicious blend. However, some producers like to do things a little differently. They have started to experiment by adding ultracold chemicals into the mix. Ice cream production can be a lengthy process, but by using liquid nitrogen, manufacturers can churn out batch after batch in a matter of minutes.

One of the key challenges for ice cream producers is to ensure that the mixture is frozen as quickly as possible. When liquids freeze over a long period of time, they form large jagged ice crystals. They can be incredible to view under a microscope but tend to spoil the texture of the ice cream.

However, rapid freezing with liquid nitrogen gives rise to much smaller crystals. This gives the ice cream that smooth, palatable consistency to really hit the spot.[6]

This eye-catching feat of science is finding enormous popularity in chic, specialist parlors and among boundary-pushing chefs. Ultrasmooth ice cream is whipped up in wisps of white mist and served to customers looking for that trendy, unorthodox experience. One parlor in Brooklyn even goes so far as to pour liquid nitrogen into its hot chocolate as well.

4Liquid Nitrogen Cocktails

Photo credit: star5112

We’ve already explored the new trend for liquid nitrogen ice cream, but the culinary experiments aren’t limited to milky desserts. Liquid nitrogen, which is an incredible -196 degrees Celsius (-320 °F) in temperature, is being put to a multitude of good uses: cryo-blanching vegetables, grinding frozen herbs, splitting up berries into tiny icy droplets, and more.

Some bartenders have even gotten in on the act, pouring the subzero chemicals into their drinks for spellbinding effect. Liquid nitrogen cocktails produce a smoky white mist that hangs over the top of the glass, almost like a witch’s cauldron. They are proving a popular novelty treat among revelers.

However, these fashionable beverages aren’t without their potential risks.

In 2012, a British woman had to undergo surgery to remove part of her stomach after consuming the dangerous drink. Eighteen-year-old Gaby Scanlon needed a gastrectomy following a night out at Oscars bar in Lancaster when she effectively subjected her insides to frostbite.

The cryogenic cocktails came under heavy fire after the incident. The British Compressed Gases Association said that adding liquid nitrogen to a drink is an “extremely stupid” thing to do.[7]

3Survival Of Resilient Animals

Photo credit: Dai Suzuki et. al.

Subjected to extremely cold conditions, the vast majority of known creatures would barely stand a chance of survival, particularly warm-blooded mammals. For human beings, hypothermia begins to set in once our core body temperature dips below 35 degrees Celsius (95 °F). Your heart and other internal organs are no longer able to function properly. Extended exposure to the cold can cause them to shut down altogether.

However, there are a select few resilient little creatures that can survive temperatures unimaginable to us humans. The most impressive is a tiny parasitic leech from East Asia known as Ozobranchus jantseanus. Japanese researchers discovered that the leeches can withstand temperatures of around -196 degrees Celsius (-320 °F) for up to 24 hours.

There are only two other creatures that have previously survived those temperatures—water bears and drosophilid fly larvae. However, both species could only manage an hour.

Furthermore, a whole batch of leeches was able to survive a full nine months stored at -90 degrees Celsius (-130 °F)—only a few degrees above the lowest natural temperature ever measured on Earth. Some of them even managed 2.5 years.[8]

Scientists remain puzzled as to why this East Asian leech is so adaptable to extreme cold, especially as it would never usually encounter such temperatures in the wild. If they can find the answer, it could help improve cryopreservation techniques.

2Serious Injuries

Photo credit: nydailynews.com

While a few creatures can survive for hours at temperatures well below zero, the vast majority of us find these low temperatures to be incredibly hazardous. You might think that the worst a short burst of severe cold can do is freeze your tongue to a lamppost. But at these extremes, even brief exposure can cause irreversible damage. For example, liquid nitrogen has the potential to freeze your skin tissue or eye fluid, which could lead to frostbite, eye damage, or even worse.

In fact, one particularly unwise use of liquid nitrogen put a man in a coma. In summer 2013, energy drink company Jagermeister decided to throw a promotional pool party in Leon, Mexico. To add to the atmosphere, the organizers wanted a mist to hang over the pool.

When liquid nitrogen boils, it produces an amazing cloud of nitrogen fog. So, instead of using fog machines, the organizers poured buckets and buckets of liquid nitrogen into the pool.[9]

The results were disastrous.

While the cryogenic chemicals definitely produced a lot of fog, they also hospitalized nine people. Instead of oxygen, swimmers started breathing in the clouds of nitrogen fog billowing over the pool and began to asphyxiate.

Paramedics had to pull people to safety after several swimmers passed out, including a 21-year-old man who fell into a coma. Fortunately, everyone injured at the party later recovered.

1Absolute Zero

Photo credit: NBC News

Of all the temperatures to be explored on this list, absolute zero is the coldest of them all. In fact, theoretically speaking, absolute zero is the lowest temperature possible. There is nothing colder. Particles in a gas at absolute zero would barely have an iota of energy. Their movement would purely be limited to miniscule fluctuations caused by quantum physics.

Absolute zero is such a remarkable temperature that scientists created a brand-new temperature scale in 1954 to properly address it. They named this scale Kelvin (K) in honor of the Irish physicist Lord Kelvin.

As the name suggests, absolute zero corresponds to zero Kelvin (0 K), which translates to -273.15 degrees Celsius (-459.67 °F). We already discussed temperatures a mere fraction of a degree above 0 K in the explanation of Bose-Einstein condensates.

Of course, it is worth mentioning that absolute zero is a purely theoretical temperature. The Third Law of Thermodynamics tells us that it would take an infinite amount of work to reach a temperature this low.[10]

That said, scientists experimenting with laser cooling techniques have managed to get remarkably close. In 2015, physicists at Stanford University cooled a cloudof rubidium atoms to 50 trillionths of a degree above 0 K, the all-time lowest temperature on record.

As these cutting-edge cooling techniques continue to evolve, breakthroughs in temperature-based research look set to keep on coming. At the turn of the 20th century, liquid nitrogen was a relatively new development. Now we have the technology to experiment at temperatures within a hair’s breadth of absolute zero. As for what the next 100 years have in store for us, only time will tell.

10 Progressive Laws That Backfired Badly

Laws are passed to protect the environment or members of society. Curiously, these same supposedly progressive laws have sometimes backfired, hurting the very things or people they were supposed to protect.

This is obviously because every law has consequences. And unfortunately, it is often impossible to predict the intended and unintended effects of every law.

10Thai Queen Drowns Because The Law Forbade Anybody From Touching Her

Photo credit: thevintagenews.com

Nineteen-year-old Queen Sunandha Kumariratana was the queen consort and one of the three wives of King Chulalongkorn of Siam (now Thailand). In 1880, she drowned alongside her daughter after their boat capsized in Chao Phraya River. They could have been rescued but weren’t because the law forbade anybody from touching members of the royal family.

In May 1880, Queen Sunandha and her daughter were traveling to their summer palace, which was right across the Chao Phraya River. She and her daughter were put on a boat, which was tethered to another boat containing their guards and servants. The queen’s boat capsized after it was swept by strong currents.[1]

The guards and servants watched as the queen and princess struggled in the water. They could have helped but didn’t. Apparently, the law forbade anybody from touching the royals under the threat of death. Nobody wanted to risk their lives, so they just watched the pregnant queen drown.

There are also claims that superstition may have discouraged the guards and servants from helping the queen. Thais believed that saving a drowning person could anger the spirits in the water. Nevertheless, the heartbroken king sent the lead attendant at the scene to prison.

9Vietnam Rat Control Attempt Ends Badly

In 1902, the city of Hanoi, Vietnam, had a serious rat problem. Thousands of rats were popping up around the city and infecting residents with the deadly bubonic plague. Officials soon discovered that the rats were coming from the 14.5-kilometer-long (9 mi) sewer system under the city.

In April 1902, the French-led Vietnamese government set up a task force to kill the rats in the sewers. In the first week, 7,985 rats were killed. By May, the men were slaughtering 4,000 rats a day. On May 30 alone, they exterminated 15,041 rats. By June, the team was killing 10,000 rats a day, and on June 21, they eliminated a record 20,112 rats.

However, the city was still overrun with rats despite the mass killings. So the government asked regular civilians to destroy rats in exchange for money. The government paid one cent per rat killed. Officials did not want people bringing decomposing rats to their offices, so they just asked for the tails as evidence.

The scheme seemed to be working until the government realized that the city was filled with tailless rats. It quickly became obvious that people were cutting off the rats’ tails so that the rodents could continue to breed.

If that wasn’t enough, some enterprising citizens were importing rats from outside the city and selling the tails to the government. Some farmers even created rat farms where they bred rats and sold the tails to the government. Officials canceled the program.[2]

8Prohibition Led To The Rise Of Criminal Gangs And Unregulated Alcohol

Photo credit: The Guardian

On January 18, 1920, the US government banned the sale of alcoholic drinks within its territory. This period is remembered today as Prohibition. However, it was unsuccessful because the alcohol market went underground. If that was not enough, it also led to the rise of American criminal gangs.

These underground bars are called speakeasies and were fully controlled by criminal gangs. This included the infamous Al Capone, who supposedly made over $100 million each year from his casinos and illegal alcohol business.

Several criminal gangs realized that there would be a lucrative black market for alcohol once Prohibition began. So they stockpiled alcohol and opened shop the moment that Prohibition started. They replenished their supplies by smuggling alcohol from Canada and Mexico and stealing medicinal alcohol supplies transported through the US.[3]

7Plain Cigarette Packages Makes Smoking Cheaper For Smokers

The United Nations and the World Health Organization encouraged member states to make cigarette manufacturers adopt a plain cigarette pack in an attempt to discourage smoking. Australia, France, and the UK have passed laws to make cigarette packs plain. But it is not discouraging people from smoking.

As all the packages now look alike, smokers buy the cheapest cigarettes instead of preferred brands as they previously did. This means they spend less on cigarettes than they did when the packs were branded.

Australia noted that its smoking rate did not decline even after a tax hike. Instead, the country saw an increase in illegal cigarettes flowing in. The result was worse in France and the UK where the smoking rate increased after the introduction of plain packaging.[4]

6Abstinence-Only Sex Education Increases Teenage Pregnancy

The US government spends a fortune on preventing teenage pregnancy. Since 1996, the federal government has spent $2.1 billion on abstinence-only sex education. According to a study, that money was flushed down the drain because abstinence-only sex education does not reduce teenage pregnancy.

According to the research, this type of sex education has no effect on teenagepregnancy in most states in the US. The results are worse in conservative states where teenage pregnancy is actually on the increase. At the same time, abstinence-only sex education failed to reduce STDs or delay the first time when teenagers have sex.[5]

5China’s Attempt To Produce More Food Ends In Famine

Photo credit: mnn.com

In 1958, Chairman Mao Tse-tung launched the Four Pests Campaign to encourage Chinese citizens to kill animals and insects that were considered pests by the state. These animals were sparrows, rats, flies, and mosquitoes. Sparrows were regarded as pests because they often ate grain seeds.

Hundreds of millions of sparrows had been killed by 1960. But it would prove disastrous. While Chairman Mao was concerned with sparrows eating grain seeds, he did not realize that they also ate insects like locusts, which ate more grain seeds than sparrows. With the sparrows out of the way, the locusts freely bred and multiplied.

Locust swarms soon appeared across China, eating up every plant they could find. The result was a deadly famine that killed between 15 million and 78 million people. There were even reports of people turning to cannibalism to survive. A drought and a failed government farming policy worsened the famine, which was exacerbated when the government attempted to censor news about it.[6]

4Conservation Attempt Ends In Destruction

Photo credit: The Guardian

Macquarie Island is located between Australia and Antarctica. Soon after its discovery in 1810, rats sneaked out of ships to colonize the island. A lack of predators saw the rodents breed so fast that sailors brought in cats to control the rat population.

Sixty years later, some sailors dropped some rabbits on the island so that other seamen who got shipwrecked could feed on the rabbits. The cats soon turned on the rabbits. However, the rabbits survived the feline onslaught and continued to multiply rapidly. The abundance of food also caused the cats to proliferate.

The cats soon added the native birds to their diet and hunted some to extinction. The rabbits also ate some native plants to extinction. In the 1970s, the deadly myxomatosis disease was introduced to the island to keep the rabbit population in check.

The disease reduced the rabbit population from an all-high of 130,000 to fewer than 20,000 in just 10 years. However, the rapid decline in rabbits also caused the cats to eat more birds. Conservationists started to shoot the cats, and the last one was killed in 2000.

With the cats gone, the rabbit population soared again. The rabbits ate so many plants that the island’s penguins went extinct. The rabbits had eaten 40 percent of the island’s vegetation as of 2009. As a result, the Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service decided to rid the island of all invasive species including 130,000 rabbits, 103,000 mice, and 36,000 rats once and for all.[7]

3Law To Help Ex-Convicts Become Employed Stops Them From Getting Jobs

Several US states have introduced ban-the-box laws to stop employers from asking prospective employees if they have been previously convicted of crimes. The laws are supposed to help ex-convicts find work, but they are quickly becoming a nightmare for black Americans.

According to a study, employers now guess whether prospective employees are ex-convicts through racial profiling. Considering that some employers believe that blacks are likelier to have been in prison, black job seekers have a lower probability of getting called for an interview than white applicants. This type of determination is often influenced by whether the applicant’s name sounds distinctly white or black.[8]

Before ban-the-box laws were passed in New Jersey and New York City, white job seekers were 7 percent likelier to be called for an interview than black prospects. The probability shot up to 45 percent in favor of whites after the laws were passed in these locations. Interestingly, this means that convicted white job seekers were likelier to get jobs than blacks who had never been to prison.

2You Cannot Buy Smart Guns In The US Because Of A Progressive New Jersey Law

Photo credit: bu.edu

Smart guns (aka personalized guns) can only be unlocked and used by the owner. (Think of guns that could be unlocked with fingerprints, just like our phones.) They have been invented and would be a win for gun control if they are introduced into the US.

However, they have not been introduced—and probably never will be—due to the Childproof Handgun Law that was passed in New Jersey in 2002. The law requires New Jersey gun stores to sell only smart handguns 30 months after the first smart gun is available for sale in any state within the US.

Progun advocates say the law is an attempt at gun control and are lobbying hard to stop smart guns from getting into the US market. In 2014, a gun store in Maryland and another in California drew the ire of progun advocates after revealing plans to introduce smart guns in the US. The stores backtracked after their owners received death threats.

In 2016, New Jersey passed a bill to amend the law. According to the bill, gun stores would not need to carry a smart gun–only inventory although they would be required to have at least one smart gun model in their inventory. Then-Governor Chris Christie refused to sign the bill into law.[9]

1The Creation Of The US Forest Service Led To More Devastating Wildfires

The US Forest Service was formed to prevent wildfires. Interestingly, its very existence is the reason that the US experiences devastating wildfires. Prior to the creation of the US Forest Service, small natural fires happened in the Southwest every five to 10 years on average. These fires often destroyed shrubs but left the bigger trees untouched.[10]

However, the US Forest Service prevents these small fires from burning freely. So plants that would have been destroyed in the smaller natural wildfires are spared. As a result, these smaller plants and trees become bigger and more numerous. Worse yet, they become fuel for larger natural or man-made wildfires.

10 Inescapable Prisons People Somehow Escaped From

Prisons are all about keeping people inside, but every now and again, folks find their way out. It happens more often than you might think, but nevertheless, there are some institutions touted as being inescapable, such that there is no conceivable way for anyone to escape.

The only problem is that people inevitably do escape from those very same prisons. The ones nobody ever thought could be broken out of were, and in some cases, the daring escapes of inmates are some of the most amazing prison break stories of all time!

10Leads Prison
Doge’s Palace, Venice, Italy, 1756

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

The Italian adventurer, author, and notorious playboy Giacomo Casanova was once held in the infamous Leads prison for being an affront to religion and common decency. He was placed there following his arrest on July 26, 1755, at the age of 30, but he had no intention of remaining behind bars for very long.[1]After being denied a trial or an explanation of his charges, he was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment but planned an escape via a renegade priest in an adjacent cell.

The priest used a spike from the chair in Casanova’s cell to burrow a hole in the ceiling. He crawled into it and did the same in Casanova’s, which gave him a way out. He left behind a frightened cellmate and a note saying, “I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord.” Through some rooftop acrobatics, trickery, and a fortuitously placed ladder, the pair escaped. Casanova detailed his imprisoned adventure 30 years later in his work, Story of My Flight.

9Imrali Prison
Sea Of Marmara, Turkey, 1975

Photo credit: Hilmi Hacaloglu

Back in the 1940s, foreign governments began cracking down on drug smugglersby imposing harsh prison sentences. Billy Hayes was a young American student when he was picked up for smuggling 1.8 kilograms (4 lb) of hashish in Turkey. Two months prior to his release, and after having served nearly four years, he learned that his sentence would be increased to life, and he was moved to a psychiatric prison hospital. Eventually, his sentence was “reduced” to 30 years, and he was moved to Imrali Prison on July 11, 1975, but he would only remain there for a few months before escaping.

On October 2, 1975, in what amounted to his fourth attempt, Hayes escaped the island prison by stealing a rowboat, which he took to Bandirma. He was able to hide with some locals before heading from there to Greece but was deported from there to Frankfurt, Germany, where he was held for a few weeks before finally gaining his freedom. Hayes wrote an account of his escape in his book, Midnight Express,[2] which was adapted into a film of the same name by Alan Parker and Oliver Stone.

8Libby Prison
Richmond, Virginia, 1864

Photo credit: New York Public Library

The Civil War fought in the United States was infamous for the terrible prison conditions present throughout both the Union and Confederate states. Andersonville in the South was well-known for the indifference it had in treating its prisoners, but nobody succeeded in escaping from that stockade. The same can’t be said for Libby Prison in Richmond, which had its only prison break in 1864, and it was a doozy! In February 1864, a total of 109 Union officers managed to escape in what became known as the Libby Prison Escape.[3]

The escape was led by Colonel Thomas E. Rose of the 77th Pennsylvania Infantry, who directed his captured subordinates to tunnel beneath the roving Confederate guards. The tunnel was dug to a length of some 15 meters (50 ft) and emerged into a vacant lot near a warehouse. Because nobody believed the prison could be escaped from, the guards barely paid any notice to the scores of men emerging through a gate in the adjacent lot. The alarm wasn’t raised for another 12 hours, leaving half of the escapees more than enough time to make it to the Union lines.

7The Tower Of London
England, 1597

John Gerard was a Jesuit priest who worked covertly during the Elizabethan era due to the persecution placed upon the workers of the Catholic Church at that time. He was notable for being able to elude capture by English authorities for nearly a decade, but he ultimately found his way to the infamous Tower of London, where he was subjected to extensive torture for his purported crimes. The Tower is well-known as an inescapable prison which many people entered and never left, but that can’t be said for Gerard.

On the night of October 3, 1597, Gerard escaped the Tower in an incredible plot orchestrated by Nicholas Owen, a famous sainted Jesuit best known as “Little John.” With his help and others from the Catholic underground, a rope was sent up the Tower to Gerard’s location. Despite having his hands mangled from torture, he managed to climb down and cross the moat, becoming one of only a few people to manage that feat. After escaping to mainland Europe, Gerard wrote a book about his torture and escape called John Gerard: The Autobiography of an Elizabethan.[4]

6Camp 14
North Korea, 2005

Photo credit: US Mission Geneva/Eric Bridiers

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, better known throughout the world as North Korea, is notorious for being one of the most authoritarian governments on the planet. Because of the structure of the dictatorship, the people have little to no rights, and those who are imprisoned end up in “work camps,” which often amount to death sentences due to the harsh conditions and lack of food. The people in these “hidden gulags” are denied to even exist by the government, and few ever leave the camps.

Shin Dong-hyuk is the only person known to be born in a prison camp, escape it, and survive to tell the world his ordeal. His whole life, he was starved, tortured, and forced to work, but worst of all, he was made to watch the execution of his mother and brother.[5] When he was 23 years old, he climbed through a high-voltage fence and escaped to China, then South Korea, and finally the United States. His amazing ordeal was documented in Blaine Harden’s book, Escape from Camp 14: One Man’s Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West.

5The Bastille
Paris, France, 1465

Photo credit: Theodor Josef Hubert Hoffbauer

The Bastille is one of the most infamous prisons in the world. It was famously stormed by a riotous crowd on July 14, 1789, in an event that is still commemorated annually as Bastille Day throughout France. The Bastille was used by the kings of France as a state prison, and it was well-known as being a place nobody could ever escape from. Despite that assertion, a very small number of people managed to escape over the centuries when luck and the conditions were just right. One such escapee was Antoine de Chabannes, Count of Dammartin.

During the reign of Louis XI, the Bastille was used as a state penitentiary. Antoine de Chabannes, the Count of Dammartin, was being held by Louis due to his membership in the League of the Public Weal, a group of nobles who defied the authority of the king. In March 1465, the count managed to escape by boat and rejoin the League.[6] Later that year, the League and the king signed the Treaty of Conflans, which put an end to the dispute between the various noblemen and the king.

4La Sante Prison
Paris, France, 1986

Photo credit: Lionel Allorge

Speaking of inescapable French prisons, La Sante Prison, in the east of the Montparnasse district of Paris, is one of the most infamous prisons in France, and its location puts it right inside the city limits. Since the prison went into use in 1867, there have been three escapes in total. In 1927, one man got out via a false order of release, and in 1978, a man was killed trying to escape. The real story of a daring escape from the prison came in 1986, when Michael Vaujour managed to escape with the help of his wife, Nadine.

This wasn’t one of those “back the van up to the prison wall” kind of escapes, either—it involved a helicopter. While Michael was serving a lengthy term for murder and armed robbery, Nadine Vaujour began to take flying lessons under a false name.[7] She then took a helicopter and flew it over the prison, where Michael managed to make it to a roof and cling to the skid as the helicopter flew away. He remained a free man until a gunshot to the head during a robbery months later sent him back for the next 27 years.

3Luynnes Prison
France, 2001

It may seem crazy to learn that someone used a helicopter to escape from a prison, but it’s not as rare as you might think. In some cases, it’s simply the modus operandi for inmates like Pascal Puyet, a man who escaped from Lutnes Prison via helicopter and helped others escape twice! Luynnes Prison is a maximum-security facility located in the South of France, and while it is touted as inescapable, the truth is that it’s had several successful escapes. Puyet managed to escape via a helicopter in 2001, but that’s not the only part of the story because two years later, he broke into the prison via helicopter to help break out some of his pals![8]

Eventually, the law caught up with him again, and he was thrown back in jail. He was moved to a prison in Grasse, where he was held in solitary confinement. Thanks to Bastille Day celebrations, four of his buddies managed to hijack a helicopter, which they used to free him a third time. The men fled, leaving the pilot unharmed. Payet was finally captured (again) in Spain and remains imprisoned in a secret location somewhere in France.

2Stalag Luft III
Poland, 1944

Photo credit: PBS

During World War II, the Luftwaffe ran a prisoner of war (POW) camp in Sagan, Poland, called Stalag Luft III. The camp was used to house POWs captured from Allied countries, with most coming from the United Kingdom. The site was selected due to the presence of sandy soil, which was believed to make tunneling impossible. Despite all the preparations the Germans made to the camp, a tunnel proved the best way to get out, but it required a great deal of work, stolen supplies, and a lot of secrecy among the prison population.

British prisoners managed to dig three tunnels, named Tom, Dick, and Harry, for the escape. Tom was found and destroyed by the Germans, while Dick was used to store soil and supplies. Harry became the main route of escape for 76 men who managed to crawl through the tunnel, which measured 102 meters (335 ft) long and only 0.6 meters (2 ft) square. Because of the condition of the soil, it had to be dug 9 meters (30 ft) below the surface. The escape from Stalag Luft III was depicted in the hit 1963 film The Great Escape.[9]

San Francisco, California, 1962

Alcatraz is well-known for being inescapable, but that’s not entirely accurate. The prison dealt with a number of escape attempts over the years, but none so infamous as the one that occurred in 1962, when John and Clarence Anglin joined up with Frank Morris to escape. The prisoners fashioned models of their heads with toilet paper, toothpaste, human hair, and concrete dust, which they placed in their bunks to make it look like they were sleeping. This fooled the guards’ night check long enough for them to make their escape.[10]

They all dug through the small opening in the back of their cells and managed to escape into a utility tunnel. From there, they snuck out of the building and made it off the island. The official word is that the three men died in the icy waters of San Francisco Bay, but there are many who believe they are still alive. There have been stories of sightings of the men over the years, all of whom would be in their late eighties or early nineties by 2019. Even if the men died, they still managed to escape from the most inescapable prison ever constructed, and their daring feat was turned into the popular Clint Eastwood film Escape from Alcatraz in 1979.

10 Surprising Facts About Japan’s Railway System

Japan has one of the busiest and most efficient rail systems in the world. This might be surprising, given that high passenger volume and efficiency don’t always go hand in hand. That efficiency is achieved in some ways you might not expect, and train companies employ a wide variety of tactics to keep things operating smoothly.

There’s more to Japan’s trains than running on time, though. From train companies charging relatives of suicide victims for delays to trains that bark like dogs, here are ten surprising facts about Japan’s railway system.

10Train Companies Charge Relatives Of People Who Commit Suicide By Train

Tens of thousands of people commit suicide in Japan every year. A good number of these people kill themselves by jumping in front of oncoming trains. These suicides usually cause delays on the affected lines. For the train companies, delays cost money. As a result, they charge the living relatives of the suicide victims for the delays.

The companies do not disclose information about this policy for obvious reasons. Basically, however, longer delays mean higher charges.[1] As of 2010, the average bill was six million yen. Interestingly, suicide by train is closely linked to falling house rents. Houses generally become cheaper along lines where suicides by train are common.

The woes of a landlord can be worsened whenever a person commits suicideinside their property. Landlords often have a hard time concealing this fact because Japanese law requires them to inform prospective tenants of previous suicides. Many landlords will also charge families of the suicide victims.

9Delay Certificates

Photo credit: Cassiopeia sweet

Despite having one of the world’s largest rail systems by passenger travel, Japanese trains are actually very punctual—so punctual that train companies issue apologies and delay certificates when their trains are even a little late. Station workers will apologize for two-minute delays and hand out delay certificates when the train is five minutes late.

The delay certificates are necessary because schools and employers do not tolerate tardiness. It is usually difficult to convince employers and teachers that the train was late (since they rarely are), so the train companies issue the certificates to be tendered as evidence.

Train companies call these certificates densha chien shoumeisho (“train delay certificate”). They are usually distributed by station workers at every station at which the late train stops. Some train companies also have downloadable digital versions of the certificates.[2]

8Rail Workers Always Point And Call

Japanese train drivers, conductors, and station workers will usually point and call out information whenever a train enters or leaves a station. The habit seems weird because they are talking to nobody. This is known as shisa kanko (“pointing and calling”), a tactic used to prevent mistakes and accidents.

The idea is that workers are more conscious of whatever they are doing when they point and call. For instance, drivers will usually point and call out their speed during speed checks. So it is normal to hear a driver point at their accelerator and shout, “Speed check, 80.”

Station workers who check for debris and people around departing trains will point at the track while shouting, “All clear.” They do the same thing when they confirm the doors are properly shut.

Pointing and calling has been used in Japan since the early 20th century. A study shows that it reduces mistakes by 85 percent. It is so effective that it has been adopted by other Japanese businesses outside the railway and other railways outside Japan. This includes New York City, which adopted a modified version of the practice in 1996. Instead of pointing and calling, train drivers point at a black and white “zebra board” to confirm that their train is correctly stopped.[3]

7Trains That Bark Like Dogs

In Japan, deer will usually walk onto train tracks to lick the railings for iron particles. This has proven fatal for deer that get so engrossed in licking the tracks that they do not realize a train is coming. To reduce collisions, train companies have employed some unorthodox tactics.

They have smeared lion feces on the tracks in areas where deer are often spotted. That plan failed because rain washed the feces away. A second plan involved the the use of ultrasonic waves which only switched on when a train was nearby.

The Railway Technical Research Institute (RTRI) came up with another ingenuous idea. They simply installed a speaker to play deer and dog sounds on a train. The speaker makes the snort sounds of a deer for three seconds whenever a deer is spotted. This sound is used to get the deer’s attention.

The snort is quickly followed by 20 seconds of a barking dog that will usually cause the deer to scamper for safety. During tests, the number of deer that remained near the tracks when the train approached was halved. The institute also plans to install permanent speakers of barking dogs in areas where deer are often spotted.[4]

6Train Companies Employ ‘Pushers’ To Stuff People Into Trains

Japan’s trains are often overcrowded during the morning and evening rush hours, when millions of people use the trains at once. To get as many people in the trains as possible, train companies employ pushers, who they call oshiya.

Pushers do exactly what their names suggest. They push people into trains. They also have the secondary role of stopping commuters from entering full train cars. Pushing is actually a complicated profession despite how easy the job sounds. Training alone takes as long as six months. Pushers are required to inform commuters before they start pushing and only push gently by the back or shoulder.

They are also required to push with both hands so that they can be balanced, and they must have good footing so that passengers trying to get onto the train won’t push them inside. Becoming a pusher is not a viable career route because it is a part-time job. Pushers only push during the rush hours.[5]

5Apologies For Trains Leaving Early

We have already mentioned that Japanese trains are not allowed to be late. As it turns out, they are not allowed to be too early, either. In November 2017, a company apologized to commuters after its train on the Tsukuba Express line (which runs between Tokyo and Tsukuba) left the station 20 seconds early.

The train was supposed to leave the station at 9:44:40 AM but left at 9:44:20 AM because one of the workers forgot to check the timetable. The apology was necessary because of the same reliability the trains are known for. Twenty seconds is enough for last-minute commuters—who know the trains are always on time—to board.

In May 2018, an unnamed train company apologized again after its train left the station 25 seconds earlier than its 7:12 AM departure time. The conductor made the error when he shut the door at 7:11. He realized the error before the train left the station but did not reopen the door because he did not see any commuters on the platform.

However, there were commuters on the platform. The disappointed would-be passengers called the train company, which issued a public apology.[6]

4Trains Play Melodies When Leaving The Station

Japanese trains don’t honk when they leave the station. They play melodies instead. These melodies are called hassha merodi (“melody for train departure”). The melodies could be the jingles of popular anime, theme songs of popular movies, or the songs from old advertisements.

The melodies can also be specially made by composers. Minoru Mukaiya, one of the most famous melody composers, has composed melodies for over 100 train stations. He is so famous that people attend his concerts just to hear him play the melodies.

Train companies use the melodies as part of a psychological attempt to make commuters get on board quicker. It is assuring because commuters know the doors of the trains will not close while the music is playing. At the same time, it makes other commuters prepare for the arrival of the next train.[7]

3They Have Women-Only Cars

Photo credit: Yoshi

Groping is a problem on Japan’s overcrowded trains. The Japanese even have a name for men who grope women during train rides: chikan, a word which also refers to the act of groping. To reduce groping incidents, several train companies introduced women-only train cars.

Although the cars are meant for female commuters, young boys, physically challenged men, and male caregivers are also allowed on board. Not all train companies have women-only carriages, and those that do don’t always keep them operational all day. Some train companies only operate them during weekends or rush hours.

Some men and women have demanded male-only cars in response to the women-only cars. Men say they want male-only carriages because they fear women in the mixed cars falsely accusing them of groping.

Japanese men also complain that women on mixed carriages look at them suspiciously and consider them potential gropers.[8] In fact, some men say the existence of women-only cars is evidence of the fact that women consider all men guilty of chikan.

2Sleeping On Trains

Americans might be surprised by the ease with which Japanese people sleep on trains. In fact, they sleep everywhere—from park benches to meetings (yes, meetings). They even have a name for it: inemuri (“sleeping while present”). Sleeping in public is so normal in Japanese culture that it is considered rude to wake a sleeping person.

Japanese sleep during the day because they work hard and long and often do not get enough sleep at night. They make up for this by sleeping at work. Workers who sleep at work are considered to be more dedicated to their work than themselves. They’re sleeping because they’ve worked themselves into exhaustion, essentially.[9]

1Train Stations Have Blue Lights To Discourage Suicide

Photo credit: Damon Coulter

We’ve already mentioned that Japanese train tracks are suicide hot spots. These days, train companies are trying to prevent suicide by installing blue lights at their stations. Japanese train companies installed the first lights in the 2000s after suicide by train reached a record high.

Blue lights were chosen because of the belief that the color blue makes people calmer and could make people attempting suicide reconsider. The lights seem to be working. In 2013, it was reported that suicides by trains dropped by as much as 84 percent after the lights were installed.

However, this is inconclusive because the lights could not have prevented suicide during the day, when they are barely noticable. Some stations even turned the lights off during the day. Other researchers believe the lights only reduced suicide by 14 percent. They also say protective barriers on the edges of platforms would prevent suicide better than blue lights.[10]