Scientists Demonstrate Method of Turning Spinach Leaves Into Human Heart Tissue

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Scientists Demonstrate Method of Turning Spinach Leaves Into Human Heart Tissue 

Today 12:59pm


Spinach has long been understood to be good for your heart. But researchers have demonstrated that some day spinach could actually be your heart. Specifically, it could be used to repair damaged tissue by giving human heart tissue a plant-infused vascular system.

Scientists have previously fabricated human tissue with 3D printing, but the tiny blood vessels have proven to be a more difficult prospect for duplication. A team of researchers from several American universities has gone back to nature to solve that problem and their results are extremely encouraging.

Spinach leaves have fine veins that transport water and nutrients to the plant’s cells. The process that’s outlined in a new paper published inBiomaterials shows that the plant cells can be removed, leaving behind only the cellulose structure that keeps those cells in place.

The authors of the study write:

Cellulose, which is the most abundant component of plant cell walls, is a well-studied biomaterial for a variety of clinical applications. Cellulose is biocompatible and has been shown to promote wound healing. Furthermore, cellulosic tissue engineering scaffolds derived from decellularized apple slices have shown the ability for mammalian cell attachment and proliferation and were found to be biocompatible when implanted subcutaneously in vivo.

From there, they were able to seed live human cells onto the spinach scaffolding. Once the human tissue had grown around the network of veins, they were able to show that blood cells could flow through the system by pumping fluids and microbeads into it.

For patients with damage to their cardiac muscle tissue, this could be a game changer. New heart matter could be generated by using the altered plant veins as replacement blood vessels to deliver oxygen to the tissue.

We’re not nearly to the point that this could be implemented in surgery but the authors of the paper believe that it’s a viable first step towards “a new branch of science that investigates the mimicry between kingdoms, e.g. between plant and animal.”

I, for one, welcome a future in which I become part-plant, part-human.

[Biomaterials via National Geographic]


10 Cursed Lottery Winners

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10 Cursed Lottery Winners


Many people dream about winning the lottery; they believe that the money will solve all of their troubles. Unfortunately, the windfall can bring more problems than it solves. Most people do not know how to deal with their newfound wealth, and many of the winners go bankrupt.

Unfortunately, the money often attracts greedy people, who believe that they are entitled to some of the winnings. Family, friends, even strangers have no problem requesting small fortunes. Many become angry if they are not given exorbitant amounts of money.

The following people each had their lives—and their families’ lives—ruined by winning the lottery.


10Abraham Shakespeare


Abraham Shakespeare won $30 million in the lottery, and he took a lump sum amount of $17 million. He was insistent that the money would not change him. Shakespeare had always been a kindhearted man, who helped those in need, and he intended to stay that way.

Unfortunately, Shakespeare’s kindness became common knowledge. People would walk up to him on the streets and bombard him with their hard-luck stories. He could not resist helping them. Shakespeare was equally generous with his friends, and his kindness was rapidly depleting his bank account.

He met a woman, Dorice Moore, who offered to help him manage his money. Moore opened an account with Shakespeare’s money. She spent $1 million on expensive cars and lavish vacations.

It was not enough; Moore wanted all of his money. She shot Shakespeare twice in the chest, and she buried his body in a field. She told his friends and family that he had left town, wanting to escape the people who kept asking for money.

Moore pretended that Shakespeare was alive for months. She sent Shakespeare’s son gifts; she sent messages from Shakespeare’s cellphone; she staged sightings of Shakespeare; she even hired someone to pose as Shakespeare to call his mother.

Shakespeare’s family was not fooled by Moore. They reported him as missing. Police soon found his body, and they immediately suspected Moore. She was arrested, found guilty, and sentenced to life in prison without parole.

9Urooj Khan


Urooj Khan was delighted with his million-dollar win ($425,000 as a lump sum after taxes). He planned to put the money back into his business, and he wanted to make a donation to a children’s hospital.

Khan attended a press conference where he received an oversized check. Then he went home and had a traditional Indian dinner with his daughter, his wife, and his father-in-law. Khan was not feeling well after the meal, and he went to bed early. He woke up in agony, and he collapsed when he tried to stand. His wife dialed 911, and Khan was rushed to the hospital. He died the next day.

The medical examiner determined that Khan had died of natural causes; his death was attributed to a type of cardiovascular disease. No autopsy was performed.

Khan’s brother was suspicious of the sudden death. He asked the medical examiner to reinvestigate his brother’s body. This time they found a lethal amount of cyanide in Khan’s blood.

Police have searched for the murderer, but they have been unsuccessful so far. The case remains open.


8Andrew J. Whittaker Jr.


Andrew Whittaker won $314.9 million; after taxes and a lump sum deduction, he received $113.4 million. He considered himself blessed. Whittaker immediately began donating money to charity. He gave millions to his church, and he created his own charity to help people find jobs, buy food, or get an education.

People soon started to ask for money. People sent him so many letters, that his charity had to hire three people to open them all. They spent more than eight hours a day just opening the letters.

Some people were not willing to wait for a donation. Several visitors showed up at his house every day to complain about their financial problems. A few of them became angry when he rejected them, and they threatened his family.

People started to sue Whittaker. He spent over $3 million fending offhundreds of lawsuits, nearly all of which were bogus.

Whittaker became stressed with the newfound attention. He started treating himself to frequent visits to strip clubs, and he started participating in high-stakes gambling. While he was at a strip club, he opened a briefcase that contained $545,000. Someone drugged him and stole the briefcase. The money was recovered, although the incident publicized his bad habits.

Although he was publicly disgraced, Whittaker was still adored by his family. He was especially close with his sole grandchild, Brandi. He had helped raise Brandi: her father was dead, and her mother, Whittaker’s daughter, had cancer.

He gave 15-year-old Brandi whatever she wanted, and Whittaker would randomly give her thousands of dollars. The cash attracted drug dealers, and she soon became addicted. He sent her to rehab, but it was unsuccessful.

Two years later, Brandi went missing. Her body was discovered wrapped in a plastic tarp. The cause of death was listed as unknown, although there wereillegal drugs in her system.

Brandi’s death put a strain on Whittaker’s family. He and his wife divorced; they had been married for 42 years. The next year his daughter—his only child—died.

Whittaker now wishes that he had torn the lottery ticket up.

7Jeffrey Dampier


Jeffrey Dampier and his wife won $20 million in the lottery. They soon divorced, and each took half of the winnings. Jeffrey began dating Crystal Jackson. The couple moved to Florida, and they brought Crystal’s two sisters with them. Jeffrey supported the three women completely.

Victoria, Crystal’s sister, called Jeffrey and invited him to her home. When he arrived, he was confronted by Victoria and her boyfriend, Nathaniel. Even though Jeffrey supported Victoria, she and Nathaniel wanted more.

Nathaniel pulled a gun on Jeffrey. He ordered Victoria to bind Jeffrey’s wrists with shoelaces. They searched Jeffrey, and they found several thousand dollars in his pockets. It was not enough.

Nathaniel pointed his gun at Jeffrey and forced him into his van. Victoria drove while Nathaniel threatened Jeffrey with the gun. Nathaniel struck Jeffrey in the head multiple times while demanding more money. Victoria pulled over.

Nathaniel handed the gun to Victoria, and he told her “Shoot him or I’ll shoot you.” She shot and killed Jeffrey. Victoria and Nathaniel left. They were later arrested, and they both received multiple life sentences.

6Renné Senna


Brazilian Renné Senna was not having a good life. He had worked in a butcher shop, but he had to quit when diabetes caused both of his legs to be amputated. Senna had to sell goods on the side of the road to survive. His wife could not take their new life. She took the kids and left.

In 2005, Senna’s life changed when he hit the lottery. He won R$52 million ($16.8 million). Senna quickly started dating another woman, Adriana Almeida, who was 25 years younger than him. They had been acquaintances for years; however, she started showing interest in him after his lottery win.

They were soon married, and Almeida became the administrator of herhusband’s estate. She convinced Senna to remove his 11 siblings from his will. He wrote a new will that left half of his money to Almeida.

Almeida had access to his bank accounts. She took R$1.8 million ($580,000) from their joint account and placed it into her own bank account. Senna was furious when he found out that she had used the money to buy a penthouse. He thought that she was having an affair—she was—and he confronted her. Senna warned Almeida that he would remove her name from his will. Almeida ran from the house.

A few days later Senna went to his favorite bar. Two armed men on motorcycles rode up and ordered Senna to hand over his money. They shot him four times in the head before they fled.

Police discovered that Almeida was behind the murder, and she was arrested. Almeida was found guilty, and she was sentenced to 20 years in prison.


5Lee R. Kost


Lee Kost was happily retired when he won $250,000 on a lottery ticket. The money quickly caused him problems. His home was broken into multiple times; he lost a few thousand dollars and several pieces of expensive jewelry.

The win also introduced new people to Kost’s life. He met a teenaged woman, Porche Sweet. They pair decided to have dinner one evening, and Sweet went home with Kost.

Unfortunately, Sweet was planning to rob Kost. She left the front door unlocked, and she texted three friends that she was in his home. The trio took a cab to Kost’s home. They went upstairs to his bedroom—where Kost and Sweet were.

One of the thieves—Terrence Maya—began to pistol-whip Kost. He demanded to know the PIN to his credit cards. The other robbers looked around for Kost’s credit cards and money. After they found Kost’s valuables, Maya fatally shot Kost.

The group stole Kost’s Jaguar and fled. They were quickly pulled over for speeding. Police noticed the gun in the car, and the robbers were all arrested. Three of the robbers will each serve at least 23 years; Maya will be imprisoned for life.

4Craigory Burch Jr.


Craigory Burch Jr. was stunned when he won $434,272 in a lottery drawing. Unfortunately, the windfall soon led to problems. Burch started to receive calls and text messages that warned him to be careful because people were planning to rob him.

Two months later the warnings became reality. A shotgun blast blew open Burch’s door, and several masked people stormed into his home. Burch was terrified: he was surrounded by his family, and he was holding his two-year-old. The robbers pointed their guns at Burch.

He begged them for mercy, and he offered them his bank card. Burch took off his pants and threw them at the robbers. They could not find his wallet. The robbers became angry, and they shot him in both legs before they left. However, they soon returned. The robbers shot Burch again before they left for good.

Fortunately, the robbers had spared Burch’s girlfriend and his children. His girlfriend ran to get help, but it was too late for Burch, who had died.

The robbers were caught, and seven people were charged in his death.

3Maria Lou Devrell


David and Maria Lou Devrell were thrilled when they won $5 million. They hired their friend of 20 years, finance manager Peter Kelly, to help manage their money. The Devrells gave him power of attorney: he was given control over the couple’s spending, bank accounts, and bills. Peter was also allowed to take money from their accounts to pay himself for the financial assistance.

Peter did not approve of Maria’s spending habits. He stopped by the Devrell’s home to talk to her about her financials. The conversation quickly turned into an argument, and Peter and Maria started shoving each other.

Peter angrily left the house and went to his car. He returned with a rubber mallet that he had wrapped in plastic. Peter hit Maria over the head multiple times, and then he smothered her. He staged a robbery and then left.

Maria’s body was found later that day, and Peter was arrested two weeks later. He said that their argument began when he confronted her aboutspending the winnings too quickly. However, the court showed that Peter had caused the Devrell’s money troubles. Peter had invested the couple’s money poorly, and he had lost nearly $1 million. Maria had questioned Peter’s financial advice, and Peter did not want to lose control over the Devrell’s money.

Peter was sentenced to 13-18 years in jail.

2Arturo Eufemia


Filipinos Arturo and Leticia Eufemia hit a P$19.6 million ($390,000) jackpot in the lottery. They kept P$5 million ($100,000) in cash, and they deposited the rest into their bank account. The couple tried to keep the win a secret, but they were unsuccessful.

Arturo started to have nightly drinking parties with his friends, whichannoyed his wife. Leticia and their daughter went to stay with relatives for a few days. Arturo continued to host his drinking parties.

One night, after all of his friends had left, a group of armed men confronted Arturo. They demanded money. Arturo became angry, and he pulled out his gun. He managed to shoot one of the robbers before they shot and killed him.

The thieves raided the Eufemias’ home. They took all the money they could find, and they left in the Eufemias’ new van. By the time the police arrived, the thieves were long gone.

Police managed to find the van, which was parked in front of the home of one of the robbers. Eventually, they arrested more than ten men. One of the thieves was Arturo’s cousin, Mayorico Guatno. It had been his idea to rob the Eufemias. He was angry at Arturo because Arturo had refused to lend himP$400,000 ($8,000).

1Bazil Thorne


In 1960, Bazil Thorne won £100,000—over $1.5 million today—in a lottery. He and his family were featured on the front pages of newspapers: the articles included the family’s photo, names, address, and the prize amount.

The publicity drew the attention of Stephen Bradley, who wanted some of their winnings. Bradley decided to kidnap the Thorne’s eight-year-old son, Graeme, and hold him for ransom. Bradley watched the family, and he perfected his plan.

Graeme waited on the corner of a street for a family friend, Phyllis Smith, to pick him up for school. Unfortunately, Bradley got to the boy first. Bradley lured Graeme into his car, drove to a deserted street, and drugged Graeme. The boy lost consciousness.

Meanwhile, Phyllis was surprised that Graeme was not waiting for her. She went to talk to his mother, who became concerned. She called the police, and an officer stopped by the Thorne home. A few minutes later, the phone rang. Bradley said that he had Graeme, and he wanted £25,000 ($400,000 today) to return him.

Bradley called again twelve hours later. He told them that the money should be put into two paper bags, but he hung up before leaving any further instructions. Bradley was panicking because he had accidently over-druggedGraeme. The boy had died.

Several days passed, and there was no contact between the Thornes and Bradley. The police eventually discovered Graeme’s body in a deserted field. They were able to match the cypress tree twigs, and pink mortar found on Graeme’s body to Bradley’s home.

Bradley was arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment.

Astronaut in Space Sees Mount Etna Volcano Eruption (Photo)

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Astronaut in Space Sees Mount Etna Volcano Eruption (Photo)

US Military’s ‘Gremlin’ Program Lets Pilots Launch and Snag Drones in Midair

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US Military’s ‘Gremlin’ Program Lets Pilots Launch and Snag Drones in Midair

Nearly Two-Thirds of Cancers Are Due to Random DNA ‘Mistakes’

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Nearly Two-Thirds of Cancers Are Due to Random DNA ‘Mistakes’

10 Crazy Ways Kids Grew Up In The Inca Empire

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10 Crazy Ways Kids Grew Up In The Inca Empire


The Inca Empire was prosperous from the mid-1430s to 1572 when Spain’s Francisco Pizarro conquered them. This civilization spread from most of Peru, Chile, Ecuador, and part of Southern Colombia. If you were lucky enough not to be part of the 25 percent of kids who died before age five, you would have had a tough upbringing. That doesn’t include all the strange and downright unsanitary things you’d have to endure.


10The Ceremony That Killed Children


Photo credit: Live Science

Yes, Incas sacrificed their kids! This may be more of how a kid died instead of lived in the Inca Empire. It’s crazy to think about, but this ritual (calledcapacocha) was used for special events like a ruler’s death or victory in a battle. It was actually an honor for the chosen child’s family to have their kid sacrificed on the highest mountaintop in Peru. Incas would also sacrifice children to the gods to prevent droughts, widespread illness, etc.

Before the ceremony began, the chosen children were brought to the city’s capital, Cuzco. Tons of citizens gathered to feast there before taking the child up the mountain to sacrifice him or her. Although they didn’t discriminate based on gender, most of the children’s mummies found by archaeologists have been girls.

The kid was given alcohol and poison to drink. This caused the child to vomit and slowly die on the mountain—which could have taken weeks or months to travel to. The child was left to freeze to death if extreme dehydration didn’t take her first. Sometimes, a child was suffocated or died from a massive blow to the head.

9The Incas Were Ageists


Photo credit: Claus Ableiter

The quipu (pictured above) was the Inca’s way of recording and keeping data. Although we still don’t know how to read a quipu, we do know that the Incas were kind of ageist. About twice a year, they took a census to record the number of people in the empire and to put each individual into one of 10 classes.

The Incas divided their citizens into groups based on age, with those 25–50 years old considered the most prosperous and important to the empire’s economy. The Incas counted them first and considered them higher in class. Next came those who were 60–70 years old, followed by 18- to 20-year-olds, then 10- to 17-year-olds, 5- to 9-year-olds, toddlers, and finally, babies.

This shows that young kids were not seen as beneficial to the Incas. It sounds terrible because the Incas did rely on sacrificing children. Their elders reportedly beat kids often until the children surpassed age nine—probably because kids really needed discipline in this empire.


8Learning Advanced Skills As A Little Kid


Inca children, especially girls younger than nine, knew how to spin yarn made from llama and alpaca fur. Spanish drawings of the civilization show representations of Inca girls doing household chores at around five years old. They also knew how to brew beer.

Still, kids could not drink beer or eat certain foods like sugary, fatty types. They needed to be as healthy as possible for marriage. Teen boys were like shepherds to their llamas while the younger boys started learning how to trap birds and guinea pigs. Incas ate guinea pigs as a common dish.

Unsurprisingly, young girls were expected to be submissive and had to stay away from men until they were put in arranged marriages. They probably didn’t appear to be very feminine at first to the Spanish conquistadors because these girls had to keep their hair cut short and didn’t wear shoes. Their entire lives were spent in preparation for marriage and taking care of a family.

7Sick Kids Had To Sit In Pee


Photo credit:

If a child was very ill, the Incas believed that he could suck on the umbilical cord (that the parents had preserved) since the umbilical cord soaked up any evil from within the child. It’s unclear how they kept the umbilical cords. However, like the Egyptians, the Incas probably preserved body parts like this by keeping them cold in freezing mountain streams.

Getting a fever, like all kids do at one point or another, was a dreaded thing. At least, it probably would be for us now. This is because soaking in a huge tub filled entirely with the family’s urine supposedly healed kids who had a fever.

6The Babies And Toddlers Were Treated More Like Things


A Spanish priest recorded how mothers took care of their babies. For fear of giving the babies too much attention or causing them to be constantly needy, the mothers would take the babies to a cold stream in the mountains and bathe them for days.

It wasn’t until the toddlers were two that they earned a name and official place in the family. This was probably because so many newborns and toddlers died in 15th-century Peru. The baby would continue to be taken to these “freezing baths” until they were about two years old. The mother would refrain from even hugging the baby in these early years of the baby’s life.

Of course, a mother would make a pouch sling that wrapped around her back. The baby would sit in the sling while the mother gathered herbs and did other outdoor chores. Once the baby turned two, he or she had a ceremony called rutuchicoy where family members and neighbors gathered to watch the child’s hair be cut for the first time.


5Schooling Was Surprisingly Not Sexist (Sort Of)


Photo credit:

Inca children between the ages of about eight or nine were taken from their homes to attend different schools. The girls and boys may have had different and separate learning to do, but they were fairly equal in their training.

Boys learned Quechua, the language spoken by the Incas. Meanwhile, the girls learned about brewing beer, Inca religion, cooking, and other special skills they would have to use every day.

Of course, only the prettiest girls were selected to go to these special houses for the aqllakuna, which is the word for these chosen women. The boys were also taught about their religion and history at these four-year schools in Cuzco.

It’s not uncommon for some cultures now to separate their females and males. The Incas seemed to be all about class status. Those pretty aqllakunaeither became priestesses or wives to men in higher stations. The Sapa Inca, who was their leader, had hundreds of wives.

Noble or not, boys had to go to school to become warriors or husbands and trappers. It was common for boys to know how to farm. It should be noted that only the richer families could send their kids to school.

4Changing Clothes Was Important If You Were A Kid


At about age 14, boys changed out of their rags (if they were poor) and wore loincloths to symbolize that they had become men. This is largely because children could marry by the time they were in their teens.

At this age, boys also started putting large plugs in their earlobes. As the years went on, they continued to slowly increase the size of the plug earrings so as to stretch out their ears.

As boys continued to grow into men, they carried around pouches that were like purses. There, they kept cocoa leaves to chew on. The leaves were alsogood luck charms that were held close to their persons.

This shows that the girls were not given as much in terms of accessories or clothing. Nowadays, women are the ones who wear earrings and carry purses. Of course, young women wore dresses longer than the men’s tunics.

Fun fact: The Sapa Inca only wore a new outfit once. Then it was burned. Some nobility (such as the wives and sons of the Sapa Inca) wore clothing more than once but still wore many outfits. The Incas were masters in textiles and clothing, so they had many tunics and dresses along with blankets.

3Kids Wouldn’t Have Normal-Shaped Skulls


Photo credit:

From the time that Incas were babies, their parents would wrap their heads to deform them to look like cones. Since younglings have soft skulls, it is easy to transform them into any shape.

It’s believed that the Incas did this out of the belief that the higher the head, the higher the mind and the closer to their gods. In some cultures, this practice is still in use today. It was very common among the Maya and other ancient civilizations.

Archaeologists found holes in some of the Incas’ skulls due to head injuries. Carving out a hole helped with the swelling if the Incas fought each other too violently with clubs. Surprisingly, this was a common practice.

2Kids Were Probably Introduced To Sex And Marriage Too Young


Photo credit: Thomas Quine

The discovery of pots and statues of people in sexual positions shows that the Incas were accepting of all sexual activity. It was a cultural understanding that the Incas would have sex before marriage with their prospective spouses. It was also expected that young Incas would have a few lovers before marriage. Homosexual sex was also depicted on pottery.

Although it may seem that the Incas were more progressive in the areas of marriage and sex than some of today’s cultures, chastity was still expected of those chosen women (aqllakuna) until they were married. Knowing that girls were married between the ages of 12 and 14, this means that most of them must have been sexually active before then.

In fact, the Incas separated genders into three groups without much evidence of discrimination. There were straight men, straight women, and a third gender group that included transgender and homosexual individuals. This group was called Tinkuy. So it was possible to be a young homosexual child without feeling the need to hide from society.

1Marriage Was More Of A Business Trial


Men married at a reasonable age (around 20–25 or in their late teens), but women were often married before ages 14–15. The marriage ceremony was more of a business agreement between the two families. There was a feast, though, and a bit of a celebration. It’s believed that this ceremony was fast and not necessarily happy.

Every year, the leader of each village in the empire would line up all the available boys and girls and pair them off in arranged marriages. If two men wanted to marry the same woman, the parents would have to present reasons to the leader why their son should win her hand. The leader made the final decision, though.

Men of a lower status could only marry one woman. Luckily, the spouses were given a trial period of a few years. If the girl was not happy, she could return home. If the husband wasn’t happy with his wife, he could send her back to her home. It was the custom for the girls to move in with the husband after the husband’s family built them a home.

After studying anthropology at Purdue University along with video production and creative writing, Kate decided to go to LA to earn a graduate degree in writing and producing for television. She strongly believes that everyone can learn a lot from informational television, especially from those programs that focus on history.

10 Bizarre Tales Of The First Emperor Of China’s Quest For Immortality

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10 Bizarre Tales Of The First Emperor Of China’s Quest For Immortality


Qin Shi Huang was a ruler unlike any the world had ever seen. He rose his armies against every kingdom around him and conquered them all. He became the first emperor of a united China, and he left his mark on the world. He started the Great Wall, built the Terracotta Warriors, and left behind a legacy unlike any before.

No one had ever taken as much from life as Qin Shi Huang —and the thought of losing it terrified him. No matter how many armies he conquered, the specter of death still followed after him. He saw, ever in wait, the inescapability of his own mortality. He refused to accept it. After conquering China, the first Emperor waged a new war against death itself.


10He Had All Scholars Focus on Making an Elixir of Immortality


Qin Shi Huang feared that the people would rebel against him. If they learned about the past, he believed, they might long for a different time—and so he had every book of history, poetry, and philosophy gathered up and burned.

Some believe, though, that this was about more than controlling the people. Qin Shi Huang wanted every wise mind in China working on one thing: thesecret of immortality. After all, he could not have strong minds wasting time on poetry when they could be helping him cheat death.

He had several alchemists put to work developing the elixir of immortality, but that, of course, was an impossible task. When two alchemists admitted they could not do it, Qin Shi Huang became furious. Every intellectual, he ordered, must suffer.

For failing to make him immortal, Qin Shi Huang had 460 scholars buried alive. These men, Qin Shi Huang declared, claimed to be sorcerers. If they really had magic powers, then they could bring themselves back to life.

9He Sent 6000 Virgins off to Find the Mountains of Heaven


As his scholars had failed him, Qin Shi Huang traveled to Zhifu Island, where he had heard that a man could find the secret to eternal life. There he met the magician Xu Fu, who assured him that it could be done.

Xu Fu promised him that the elixir of immortality was waiting for him on Penglai Mountain. This was not a real place—it was the mythical home of the Eight Immortals, and a pathway to the gods. Here, Xu Fu told the emperor, lived a 1,000-year-old magician named Anqi Sheng who would share the secret.

Qin Shi Huang was pleased. He gave Xu Fu a fleet of ships and let him sail out in search of the elixir of immortality. And, soon, Xu Fu returned, insisting that he had found it. The island of the immortals, Xu Fu said, was full of grass that would give the emperor eternal life—but the immortals demanded a sacrifice. He needed to bring 6,000 virgins to get the elixir.

Qin Shi Huang believed him, and he gave him what he needed. For the next eight years, Xu Fu did not go anywhere near the emperor—he just sailed around the sea with 6,000 virgins, while Qin Shi Huang patiently awaited an elixir that would never come.

As mystical as the story sounds, there is evidence that suggests it is true. On Zhifu Island, Qin Shi Huang etched the words, “Arrive at Fu and carved the stone”—an engraving that is still there today.


8He Forbid Anyone from Using First-Person Pronouns


Qin Shi Huang was convinced that he was going to become an immortal god. He even labeled himself one. After uniting China, he threw away the old title of “king” and took a new one: “huangdi.” It is a word we usually translate to “emperor,” but that is not quite accurate—it really means “god.”

He also made it law that, from now on, no one could use the first-person pronoun “zhen.” Now that all kings had bowed down before him, he declared, no one else could refer to themselves with a term that conferred respect. From now on, every Chinese citizen would have to refer to themselves with the word “wo,” a word that, at the time, meant, “this worthless body.”

After Xu Fu had promised him immortality, though, even Qin Shi Huang stopped using the word “zhen.” Now, he declared, he must be called “The True Man”—a title that told the world that he had become immortal.

7He Made Decoys Ride in His Carriage


To become immortal, though, Qin Shi Huang would have to stay alive until Xu Fu came back. This was not a sure thing. There had already been many attempts on his life, and he had made many enemies on the path to becoming emperor. He lived in fear of his own death at every moment—and so, when he traveled, he started putting a decoy in his royal carriage.

It ended up saving his life. A man named Zhang Liang was plotting his death. Zhang Liang was a man destined to become the chancellor to the Han king until Qin Shi Huang conquered the Han kingdom and reduced its nobles to nothing. Zhang Liang wanted revenge.

He teamed up with China’s strongest man, Gan Ba, who dragged a 160 lb (72.5 kg) hammer up to the top of a hill and waited for Qin Shi Huang to pass by. When the royal carriages came close, Gan Ba hurled the massive hammer at the royal carriage. The massive iron weight shattered it into pieces andkilled everyone inside.

Qin Shi Huang, though, wasn’t inside. He was behind it, in an undecorated carriage that looked to be made for a commoner. His guards rushed into action, but Gan Ba tackled them head on, giving up his own life so that Zhang Liang could escape.

6He Travelled through a System of Tunnels to Avoid Going Outside


In his later years, Qin Shi Huang stopped going outside altogether. Unless it was absolutely necessary, he would no longer risk stepping out into the open air. Instead, he had a system of tunnels and underground pathways set up athis castle to make sure he never had to go outside.

He lived in a massive complex that was more than a third of a mile long—in its time, one of the biggest in the world. It held a massive palace surrounded by ten buildings, connected through walkways. These were majestic, heavenly things. One was an elevated walkway that crossed over a river, designed to look like the Milky Way shining in the sky.

In part, he was afraid of assassins, but it was more than that. Death itself was outside waiting for him, Qin Shi Huang believed. He stayed inside of his castles and his tunnels so that he could not be seen by the dark spirits that were searching for him.


5A Meteor Fell to the Earth Prophesising His Death


One year before the emperor died, a meteor fell to the earth. On its own, this could have been seen as an omen, but this was more than just a rock. On the rock that fell from the sky were inscribed the words: “The First August Emperor will die and his land will be divided.”

The Emperor was a superstitious man, but even he did not think the message was really engraved by the gods. He was sure that somebody had carved the rock after it landed, and he wanted to know who. He demanded that the person responsible confess, or everyone would pay.

When no one came forward, he had ever single person who lived near the place where the meteor landed rounded up, thrown in prison, and executed. He even had his men get the meteor itself and destroy it in a fire.

Even then, though, it still bothered him. Reportedly, after giving the order to kill every person there, he called in his musicians and had them play him songs about his immortality.

4He Fought a Sea Monster for Immortality


After the meteor landed, Qin Shi Huang grew impatient. He sailed off to Zhifu Island once more to find Xu Fu, the magician who had promised him an elixir of immortality.

Xu Fu assured him that he had found Penglai Mountain. Now, though, the path was blocked by a great sea monster, and he had no way to get through. This time, though, Qin Shi Huang would not wait around any longer. He would get a team of archers, he told Xu Fu, and kill the sea monster. This time, Xu Fu was not going to be trusted to go alone. The emperor was coming with them.

Qin Shi Huang and his team of archers sailed into the water, where the found a massive fish they believed to be a sea monster—which, today, is believed to have been a whale. The archers opened fire and killed it. When it was done, Qin Shi Huang returned to Zhifu Island and left a message that is still there today: “Came to Fu, saw enormous stone, and shot a fish.”

Xu Fu didn’t have any excuses left. He was to get the elixir from the immortals, Qin Shi Huang ordered, and return immediately, or else he would face the consequences.

Xu Fu assured the emperor he would do it. Then he gathered up his 6,000 virgins, put them in his ships, and sailed off—and never came back. With no way to keep the act up, he fled to Japan and spent the rest of his life in hiding.

3He Poisoned Himself with Mercury

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Xu Fu never delivered the elixir of immortality, but Qin Shi Huang did not give up. He had his alchemists make him every medicine they could to keep him healthy and alive, and he drank everything they told him would work—including a bottle full of mercury.

Qin Shi Huang was making a tour around his kingdom when the mercury killed him. He had brought a vial of it with him, which his court doctors had assured him was an “immortal medicine.” Instead, though, it cut his life short,killing him when he was only 49 years old.

Qin Shi Huang was a two-month journey away from home, and his chancellors were afraid about what might happen when the people found out he was dead. His advisor, Li Si, was determined to hide that the emperor had died. For the next few months, he pretended Qin Shi Huang was still alive, sending out orders of his own that he claimed came from the emperor.

Meanwhile, the immortal emperor’s dead body was sent home, flanked by carts full of rotting fish to hide the smell of his decaying remains.

2He Tried to Become The God-Ruler Of Hell


If Qin Shi Huang could not be immortal, he was not going to accept being a peasant in hell. He was determined to become the ruler of the afterlife, and he got ready for it.

Before he even became the emperor, he had started work on his tomb. By the time he died, he had forced 700,000 enslaved laborers to work on it. His tomb was incredible. It had replicas of his palaces and towers, flowing rivers of mercury, and a ceiling full of jewels that recreate the night sky.

And it had the Terracotta Warriors. Qin Shi Huang believed that, when he died, the six states he had defeated would rise up against him in the afterlife. And so he had his army remade out of terracotta to protect him in hell and help him conquer the world of the dead.

Traps were set up to keep anyone from getting in and disturbing the emperor’s resting place. The tomb was buried and seeded with grass and trees to keep anyone from ever finding it. And, to make sure that no one would ever find it, the workers who made it were forced to seal themselves in and die with the emperor inside his tomb.

1He Did Not Choose a Successor


Qin Shi Huang had not planned on dying. He did not even like to think about it—and so he never sat down and wrote a will. He was determined, after all, tolive forever, and so he saw no need.

With no will, it was not clear who was to take the throne, and the nation soon erupted into chaos. His eldest son Fusu was the obvious choice, but Qin Shi Huang’s advisor, Li Si, did not trust him. To keep Fusu out, Li Si forged a fake order declaring the second son, Huhai, the new emperor. Then he forged another, ordering Fusu to commit suicide.

The boys obeyed the orders they believed came from their father, and Huhai became the second emperor of China. His reign did not last long. Li Si and his co-conspirators soon turned against each other, and one had Li Si arrested and executed.

Li Si’s death was horrible. His nose, hands, feet, and genitals were chopped off, one-by-one, before he was finally cut in half down the waist. Then every member of his extended family, down to the third generation, was executed. Without Li Si, Huhai was unable to stop his people from rebelling, and he was soon overthrown.

In life, Qin Shi Huang had insisted that his dynasty would rule over China for 10,000 generations—but, after his death, it did not even last three years.