Rumors Are Flying That We Finally Found Gravitational Waves

Post 8400

Rumors Are Flying That We Finally Found Gravitational Waves 

Excited rumors began circulating on Twitter this morning that a major experiment designed to hunt for gravitational waves—ripples in the fabric of spacetime first predicted by Albert Einstein—has observed them directly for the very first time. If confirmed, this would be one of the most significant physics discoveries of the last century.

Move a large mass very suddenly—or have two massive objects suddenly collide, or a supernova explode—and you would create ripples in space-time, much like tossing a stone in a still pond. The more massive the object, the more it will churn the surrounding spacetime, and the stronger the gravitational waves it should produce. Einstein predicted their existence in his general theory of relativity back in 1915, but he thought it would never be possible to test that prediction.

LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory) is one of several experiments designed to hunt for these elusive ripples, and with its latest upgrade to Advanced LIGO, completed last year, it has the best chance of doing so. In fact, it topped our list of physics stories to watch in 2016.

There have been excited rumors about a LIGO discovery before, most notablya mere week after the upgraded experiment began operations last fall. Lawrence Krauss, a physicist at Arizona State University, spilled the beans on Twitter, giving it a 10- to 15-percent chance of being true. “The official response is that we’re analyzing the data,” LIGO spokesperson Gabriela González (Louisiana State University) told Nature at the time.

Holy Shit! Scientists Have Confirmed the Existence of Gravitational Waves

Post 8399

Holy Shit! Scientists Have Confirmed the Existence of Gravitational Waves

Since Albert Einstein first predicted their existence a century ago, physicists have been on the hunt for gravitational waves, ripples in the fabric of spacetime. That hunt is now over. Gravitational waves exist, and we’ve found them.

That’s according to researchers at the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO), who have been holed up for weeks, working round-the-clock to confirm that the very first direct detection of gravitational waves is the real deal. False signals have been detected before, and even though therumors first reported by Gizmodo have been flying for a month, the LIGO team wanted to be absolutely certain before making an official announcement.

That announcement has just come. Gravitational waves were observed on September 14th, 2015, at 5:51 am ET by both of the LIGO detectors, located in Livingston, Louisiana, and Hanford, Washington. The source? A supermassive black hole collision that took place 1.3 billion years ago. When it occurred, about three times the mass of the sun was converted to energy in a fraction of a second.

The discovery has been accepted for publication in Physical Review Letters.

Gravitational waves are ripples in the universe caused by some of the most energetic cosmic events, from exploding stars to supermassive black hole mergers. As they propagate through space and time, gravitational waves cause tiny tremors in atoms that make up matter. While Einstein predicted them in his general theory of relativity in 1916, and their existence was indirectly demonstrated in the 1980s, it wasn’t until the LIGO detector came online in 2002 that the hunt for elusive spacetime ripples started to get serious.

R. Hurt, Caltech / JPL

But the first generation LIGO experiment, which ran for eight years, wasn’t sensitive enough. Which is understandable. Gravitational waves are minuscule— the atomic jitters that pass through our world when two black holes bash together in a distant galaxy are on the order of a billionth of a billionth the diameter of an atom. LIGO detects them by proxy, using high powered lasers to measure tiny changes in the distance between two objects positioned thousands of miles apart. A million things can screw this up, including a rumbling freight train, a tremor in the Earth, and the inconvenient reality that all objects with a temperature above absolute zero are vibrating all the time.

After a series of upgrades that lasted from 2010 to 2015, LIGO was back online this past fall. With more powerful lasers and improved system for isolating the experiment from vibrations in the ground, the prospects of detecting the first gravitational waves have never looked better. Some scientists even predicted that we’d have our first positive detection in 2016—but few could have known how quickly it would come.

In fact, LIGO saw gravitational waves almost immediately. The team then spent the entire fall exhaustively investigating potential instrumental and environmental disturbances to confirm that the signal was real.

According to Einstein’s theory of relativity, when a pair of black holes orbit on another, they lose energy slowly, causing them to creep gradually closer. In the final minutes of their merger, they speed up considerably, until finally, moving at about half the speed of light, they bash together, forming a larger black hole. A tremendous burst of energy is released, propagating through space as gravitational waves.

The two black holes behind the all the hubbub are 29 and 36 times the mass of the Sun, respectively. During the peak of their cosmic collision, LIGO researchers estimate that their power output was 50 times that of the entire visible universe.

“The description of this observation is beautifully described in the Einstein theory of general relativity formulated 100 years ago and comprises the first test of the theory in strong gravitation,” said Rainer Weiss, who first proposed LIGO as a means of detecting gravitational waves in the 1980s. “It would have been wonderful to watch Einstein’s face had we been able to tell him.”

The discovery of gravitational waves has been an open secret for weeks now. The scientists’ own excitement got the better of them on several occasions, including last week, when theoretical physicist Clifford Burgess at McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada, sent an email to his entire department, telling them that LIGO had found a real, and “spectacular,” signal of two large black holes merging.

Now, the muzzle has been lifted and the physicists can geek out at the top of their lungs. Keep an eye on social media today, it should be a ruckus.

The discovery of gravitational waves confirms an important aspect of the theory of relativity, but it does much more than that. Quite literally, it opens up a new chapter in our exploration of the cosmos, one where electromagnetic radiation is no longer our only tool for “seeing” the universe. As MIT astrophysicist Scott Hughes told Gizmodo in a phone interview, we can use gravitational waves to probe mysterious celestial objects like black holes and neutron stars, which typically no light.

“There’s a lot of rich information encoded in gravitational waves,” he said, noting that the shape of a spacetime ripple can tell us about the size and motion of the object that produced it. “As an astronomer, I try to think about how to go from the ‘sound’ of the waveform that LIGO measures, to the parameters that produce that waveform.”

Hughes also notes that once our detectors are sensitive enough to catch gravitational waves regularly, we can start to build a census of the universe’s most energetic events. “Actually getting some demographic data is one of the key things we hope to do in an era of detection,” he said.

“Whenever first detection happens, there’s gonna be a party, no question,” he continued. “But after that, when detection becomes routine, is when things start getting really interesting.”

A century-long hunt is over. But a new cosmic exploration is just beginning.

Physicists Just Spotted Gravitational Waves Again—So What’s Next?

Post 8398

Physicists Just Spotted Gravitational Waves Again—So What’s Next?

Image: LIGO/Caltech/MIT/Sonoma State (Aurore Simonnet)

A long, long time ago, a pair of black holes collided with such power that they created ripples in spacetime, which emanated through the universe. All the while, molecules on a tiny rock in a fairly irrelevant nook of the Milky Way galaxy arranged themselves into living things, which evolved into self-aware apes. Those apes eventually realized they could actually measure those spacetime wobbles, and built several kilometer-long machines (tiny if you really think about it) in order to do so. When they flipped the switch, they caught the wobbles just in time.

But then they spotted another set of wobbles, and hints of yet another (though they weren’t sure). Now they’ve confirmed a third event, and it made the apes wonder: What does it all mean? And where do we go from here?

Today, the pair of Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatories (LIGO) are confirming the detection of a third set of these gravitational waves, first predicted by Albert Einstein over a hundred years ago. While the third discovery is still almost as exciting as the first and second, scientists are now starting to think about what these waves can tell them about our universe, and what they can do once they’ve seen a lot of them.

“This is just the beginning,” Gabriela Gonzalez, the last spokesperson for the LIGO Scientific Collaboration and professor from Louisiana State University, told Gizmodo. “There’s a lot more coming.”

SImulation of the most recent waves (Image: S. Ossokine/ A. Buonanno/T. Dietrich (MPI for Gravitational Physics)/R. Haas (NCSA)/SXS project)

Scientists have tasked two LIGOs with observing gravitational waves, one in Washington State and the other in Louisiana. They’re essentially a pair of perpendicular rulers made out of light, where optics systems split a laser, send the beams down long pipes, then unite them at a detector. If a gravitational wave rolls by, the amount of space the light has to traverse changes, moving the two beams in and out of alignment and creating a waveform on a graph. Scientists need two LIGOs to confirm that the observation wasn’t just a truck rolling by. And a similar observatory, called Virgo, is now turned on in Italy and will join the LIGOs soon to better determine the origin and behavior of gravitational waves.

The LIGOs spotted the most the most recent wave event, GW170104, on January 4 of this year. They used the waveform to determine that it came from a pair of colliding black holes three billion lightyears away, approximately 31 and 19 times the mass of our Sun, turning into a single black hole around 49 times the mass, and published their results today in the journal Physical Review Letters. The mass of this black hole fits quite nicely between the mass of the black holes inferred from heavier and lighter waves measured previously. The waveform also supplied some tantalizing hints of an answer to the question of how a pair of black holes end up orbiting each other in the first place.

Image: LIGO/Caltech/Sonoma State (Aurore Simonnet)

A black hole binary could either form from a pair of orbiting stars that both collapsed, or if one black hole passed by another and got tangled up in its gravity. If the first case were true, the spins of the black holes would align with their orbits. But if the spins were in the opposite direction of the orbits, the second scenario would be more likely. The latest gravitational wave observation is starting to point scientists towards the second case. It’s certainly not conclusive yet, but it implies that in the distant (and therefore younger) universe, there could places concentrated with coalescing black holes, Imre Bartos, associate research scientist from Columbia University, told Gizmodo.

“This event is not a smoking gun, but it’s the first event for which we more seriously prefer one scenario over another,” Salvatore Vitale, assistant professor at MIT, told Gizmodo. “If you ask me I think it’s too early to say anything conclusive,” he said.

Gravitational wave astronomy is still in its infancy, but we’re soon going to get to a point where each individual detection of waves isn’t news. We’re not there yet, but soon you should expect to start hearing more about what scientists can pick out of trends among lots of colliding black holes, and about follow-up observations from the networks of satellites and telescopes looking for an electromagnetic or neutrino counterpart to the gravitational waves.

Image: LIGO/Caltech/MIT/SXS Collaboration

“If you want to get some kind of optical or electromagnetic follow up observation, you’ll need something that doesn’t just have two black holes,” Scott Hughes, professor of physics at MIT, told Gizmodo. Picking out such a signature would likely require two neutron stars, incredibly massive balls not quite dense enough to collapse into black holes. LIGO probably needs its sensitivity increased before it can spot neutron star mergers, something the detectors will work on when this year’s run is over. “The hope is that we will start those observations,” those with the two LIGO detectors plus Virgo, and improved sensitivities, “mid summer 2018 or so,” said Gonzalez. “Having the sensitivity, perhaps we’ll begin seeing neutron stars with a few months of data.”

All the while, scientists will continue using gravitational waves to test various theories about our universe, from the more exotic, to whether gravitational fields have a particle associated with them the way that electricity does, to Einstein’s theory of relativity. “You can never prove that a theory is correct—you can only prove it wrong,” said Vitale. “Einstein is not yet wrong.”

That is amazing, by the way. Gravitational waves, a prediction made by general relativity dreamed up a hundred years ago to explain strange kinks in the theory of gravity, like the weirdness of Mercury’s orbit, can also describe powerful events taking place on the other end of the universe. “It’s a human being compared to Usain Bolt,” he said. “That same theory without any modifications also explains the motion of objects incredibly massive moving incredibly fast, velocities comparable to the speed of light.” To be fair, it would be very exciting to a lot of people if someone did find a deviation from Einstein’s theory.

We really don’t know where these things are coming from. Outermost band is 90 percent confidence region. (Image: LIGO/Caltech/MIT/Leo Singer (Milky Way image: Axel Mellinger))

Further down the road after Virgo is hooked up, other detectors, including one in India and another in Japan, will help pinpoint the location of gravitational waves—right now, there’s a huge swath of the sky from which they can originate. Eventually, scientists will also be able to determine the waves’ polarization, the way they actually deform space as they travel.

Scientists are crossing their fingers for something unexpected. “To tell you the truth, what I’m most exited about is discovering the unknown,” said Gonzalez. “Like finding a signal strong like the first one that doesn’t follow a model that we know of.”

Top 10 Mind-Blowing Things That Happened This Week (6/2/17)

Post 8397

Top 10 Mind-Blowing Things That Happened This Week (6/2/17)

MORRIS M. JUNE 2, 2017

Keeping up with the news is hard. So hard, in fact, that we’ve decided to save you the hassle by rounding up the most mind-blowing stories eachweek. The week that took us out of May and into June was a decidedly mixed bag.

For every horrific natural disaster, there was a great scientific discovery. For every violent attack, there was a bizarre story waiting in the wings about hidden treasure. From the bad to the good, here are the highlights of humanity’s topsy-turvy world last week.

10The Afghan Capital Was Devastated By A Gigantic Bomb

Photo credit: BBC

Until recently, Kabul was one of the safest places in Afghanistan. The capital was protected by the “ring of steel”—a supposedly impenetrable circle of police checks and roadblocks. Even as the rest of the country disintegrated, Kabul flourished, creating one of the freest cities in the Middle East.

That all began to change two years ago as the Taliban grew in strength andISIS arrived. Deadly attacks at protests and hotels killed scores. But none was as audacious as Monday’s. A suicide bomber managed to drive a sewage truck filled with explosives past the ring of steel into the highly guarded embassy district. He detonated it in the middle of a busy junction. The resulting blast flattened the area, killing over 90 and leaving 400 injured.

The bomb was the biggest to explode in Kabul in years. People on the other side of the city thought an earthquake was happening. While neither ISIS nor the Taliban has yet claimed responsibility, it seems likely that one of them was behind it. It also seems like the old days of Kabul being a safe haven from the horror engulfing the country are truly over.

9Panama’s Vicious Ex-Dictator Finally Died

Photo credit:

Manuel Noriega was the archetype of a mad Latin American dictator. Rising to power in the early 1980s, he became the CIA’s “man in Panama,” passing on information to the US even as he flooded Miami with cocaine. Known as “Pineapple Face” due to his scarring, he looked and acted like a villain from a Saturday morning cartoon show. Not that there was much laughter in Panama. Under Noriega’s regime, political opponents were frequently abducted, brutally tortured, and murdered.

By 1989, Noriega had gone too crazy even for the CIA. After his security forces attacked off-duty American soldiers, George H.W. Bush ordered the invasion of Panama. Approximately 27,000 troops overwhelmed the tiny nation. Noriega was arrested at the Vatican Embassy on January 3, 1990. From that moment until he died this week at age 83, he spent all his time in prison.

His death effectively closes two odd chapters in American history: one where the CIA actively supported Latin dictators and one where US military action could quickly restore democracy to a foreign dictatorship.

8We Got Up Close And Personal With Jupiter

Photo credit:

If you’re the kind of person who loves dramatic pictures of deep space (join the club), this has been a wonderful few years to be alive. NASA’s rover mission to Mars and flyby of Pluto have generated images of dizzying, breathtaking beauty. And now the space agency has done it again. This week, we got the first pictures back from their mission to Jupiter. You better believe they were awe-inspiring.

There were detailed images of ammonia clouds swirling with crystals of ice. Of bright blue cyclones over 970 kilometers (600 mi) across. Of patterns and whorls and storms moving over the surface of the biggest planet in oursolar system. It was the best look we’ve ever had at Jupiter up close, and it left the world gasping for more.

Of course, NASA didn’t just go to Jupiter to collect pretty pictures. The brainiest among us will be equally excited about new discoveries concerning Jupiter’s variable magnetic fields. But for the rest of us, these images alone are enough to instill a sense of childlike wonder.

7Sri Lanka Was Hit By Devastating Floods

Photo credit:

Just off the coast of India, tiny Sri Lanka—a country smaller than Scotland—frequently bears the brunt of the subcontinent’s chaotic weather. But rarely has it been hit as badly as it was over the weekend. Monsoon rains caused devastating flooding that left some communities 4 meters (12 ft) underwater. Landslides swamped entire villages. By the time the floodwaters began to recede, over 200 people were dead and more than half a million were left homeless.

This is the worst flooding to hit Sri Lanka since 2003, when 250 died in the monsoon rains. Shockingly, this year’s death toll may yet exceed that grim total. Many areas are still underwater, and those displaced by the flooding have been crammed into unsanitary temporary shelters. Together, these conditions set the stage for a potential dengue outbreak, with the mosquito-borne disease having already claimed 125 lives this year.

As with the tragic Colombian landslide we reported in April, the death toll inSri Lanka has been exacerbated by overlogging, as the removal of forests has made mudslides more potent. We can only hope steps are taken to stop this from happening again.

6Russian Explorers Discovered A Secret Stash Of ‘Commie Gold’

Photo credit: BBC

We’re all familiar with the trope of hidden Nazi gold. While all recent attempts to uncover Nazi treasure have ended in failure, the same can no longer be said for its Soviet equivalent. On Sunday, a group from Saint Petersburg was exploring an old mine a few hours outside Moscow when they stumbled across a pile of banknotes totaling one billion Soviet rubles.

The BBC estimates that the pile of “Commie treasure” is technically worth $18 million. We say “technically” because this haul of a lifetime came with one planet-sized caveat. The Soviet notes are no longer legal tender in the Russian Federation. The gigantic pile of money that could have bought a whole town 27 years ago is now completely worthless.

Still, the find was exciting from a historical perspective. The banknotes were issued between 1961 and 1991 and represent a comprehensive collection of Soviet money from those times. They also shine an interesting light on post–Communist Russia’s attempts to “bury” its past. According to reports, there may be at least two more such sites in Russia, their billions of notes still waiting to be found.

5A Shocking Knife Attack Left Portland Reeling

Photo credit:

This week proved that good deeds really don’t go unpunished. After a crazed young man (Jeremy Joseph Christian) started screaming racist slurs at two girls on a Portland train, three men got up to intervene. Their names were Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche, Micah Fletcher, and US army veteran Ricky John Best. For trying to make the world a better place, they werestabbed in the throats and left to die.

After his arrest, the attacker identified himself as a “patriot” and said he hoped all three died. Sadly, two did. Namkai-Meche, 23, and Best, 53, succumbed to their injuries, while Fletcher’s injuries missed being fatal by a single millimeter. Heartbreakingly, Namkai-Meche had time to tell those around him to “tell everyone on this train I love them.”

Christian was already known to police after he was forcibly evicted from a Donald Trump rally for abusing and assaulting Trump supporters. His Facebook page showed a deep-seated hatred of male circumcision: “I want a job in Norway cutting off the heads of people that Circumcize Babies….Like if you agree!!!” and an erratic swinging from the left to the right of the political spectrum: “Bernie Sanders was the President I wanted, He voiced my heart and mind. The one who spoke about the way America should gone. [ . . . ] The Trump is who America needs now that Bernie got ripped off.” But then in November he changed his mind and said: “I’ve had it!!! I gonna kill everybody who voted for Trump or Hillary!!! It’s all your fault!!! You’re what’s wrong with this country!!!”

The attacker now faces the death penalty, a sentence Oregon hasn’t carried out in over two decades. But even if he dies, it won’t change the fact that Best’s four children are now without a father and Namkai-Meche’s parents have lost their son. With his mindless actions, the attacker made an already cruel world an even worse place.

4Mississippi Suffered Its Deadliest Mass Shooting

Photo credit: The Guardian

Until this week, Mississippi’s deadliest mass shooting was the 2003 Lockheed Martin plant massacre, which left seven people dead. Sadly, this grim tally has now been exceeded. On Sunday, an argument about child custody in a rural town spiraled out of control. The father grabbed a gun. When the smoke cleared, eight people were dead.

After slaughtering three of his family members and a sheriff’s deputy in one home, the shooter went to two more houses, adding four more bodies to the pile. Perhaps the worst part is the massacre wasn’t a quick impulse reaction. At least seven hours passed between the first killings and the last slaughter, a shameful period of time for a cop killer to be wandering free.

When he was arrested, the 35-year-old shooter claimed he’d intended to commit suicide by cop but “ran out of bullets.” Given Mississippi’s use of the death penalty, he’ll likely get his wish granted soon. It’s just a tragedy he had to take eight innocent people with him.

3Bangladesh’s Government Finally Stared Down Fundamentalism

Photo credit: The Telegraph

Despite being a secular state, Bangladesh has struggled recently with a rising tide of Islamist fundamentalism. Attacks on atheists and liberals as well as anti–free speech protests have all created a chilling climate of fear, where the hardliners seem to be winning.

The story of Lady Justice seemed to be just another sad example. After hardliners organized mass protests, the government was forced to remove a statue of Lady Justice from the Supreme Court. The protesters had claimed the female figure’s position near a prayer ground insulted Islam. But no sooner was the statue down than new protests began, this time targeting statues nowhere near holy sites. Mindless extremism seemed to be winning.

Then something unexpected happened. The government put the statue back up (albeit inside the building).

It seemed that the secular Bangladeshi government had finally gotten tired of being bossed around by Islamist extremists and had grown half a backbone. The move dealt a blow to hardliners, showing them enlightenment values are more important than their perverse take on religion. Hopefully, this will mark the moment when Bangladesh’s slow slide toward Pakistan-style religious mob rule was finally halted.

2Jared Kushner Got Ensnared In The FBI’s Russia Probe

Photo credit:

The White House is no longer taking questions about Russia. It could be because they’re hiding something, or it could be because they’re sick of hearing about it. Either way, it’s unlikely to stop the tsunami of stories that keep emerging.

Last Friday, The Washington Post and The New York Times revealed that President Trump’s son-in-law/senior adviser Jared Kushner had met with the head of Russia’s state-owned Vnesheconombank in December to discuss setting up a private “back channel” for communications. This would mean he could communicate with Moscow without Congress, the CIA, or the FBI ever knowing what they talked about.

This isn’t that unusual. President Obama established a similar back channel with Iran during the nuclear negotiations. However, US law makes conducting diplomacy as a private citizen—as Mr. Kushner was prior to January 19—illegal.

Since it’s alleged that he discussed money, that would also violate sanctions placed on Russia since the annexing of Crimea. (US law makes it illegal to even talk about doing business with a bank hit by sanctions.) If Kushnergoes down on either charge, it could cause the White House even more Russia headaches.

Update: In breaking news today, new Clinton emails have emerged showing that Huma Abedin, working for Hillary Clinton, set up back channels for the Russians with the State Department. Perhaps “people in covfefe houses shouldn’t throw covfefe.”

1The Paris Climate Agreement Got Torn To Shreds

Photo credit:

Yesterday, President Trump announced that the US is pulling out of the 2016 Paris climate accord (also known as the “Paris Agreement”). The Paris Agreement is the biggest climate accord ever signed, with 195 countries (including the US at that time) originally on-board. Only Nicaragua and Syria refused to take part.

It was one of President Obama’s biggest achievements, but critics say it strangles growth in US oil and coal industries. With America pulling out, other big CO2 emitters may quickly follow suit.

Or will they? The EU, China, and Russia have all pledged in the last few hours to stay on-board with the Paris Agreement, potentially leaving the US isolated on the world stage. Is the Paris Agreement doomed? We guess we’ll find out soon enough.

+Whitehouse Leaking And Surveillance Scandal

Just yesterday it was announced that the Department of Justice had issued FISA warrants to tap the phones of certain journalists in order to uncover the Whitehouse staff leaking classified or sensitive information to the press. This comes hot on the heels of subpoenas being served to the NSA, FBI, and CIA, and former Obama officials Susan Rice (National Security Advisor), John Brennan (CIA Director), and former UN Ambassador Samantha Power.

The aim of the subpoenas is to investigate whether the Obama administration was illegally using foreign-intelligence power to spy on US nationals (including Trump campaign staff). If it turns out to be true it far surpasses the crimes of Watergate in that certain members of the Clinton campaign were privy to the daily security briefings that Obama was given, meaning that the campaign had access to secret wiretaps of their opposition. This could well prove to be a case of extreme-projection on the part of the DNC with its daily accusations of Russian tampering in the 2016 election.

Listening in on journalists is highly unusual, but there is a precedent . . . In 2013 news broke that Obama’s Justice Department had obtained the phone records of numerous AP journalists covering a two month period. In a further twist, mere days before Trump was sworn in as president, Obama signed an executive order extended the alphabet agencies’ power to wiretap US nationals and greatly broadening the audience for unmasked intelligence data.

10 Facts About The Pyramids That Could Prove Advanced Ancient Technology

Post 8396

10 Facts About The Pyramids That Could Prove Advanced Ancient Technology


The ancient pyramids of Giza have wowed mankind for centuries. They tower over the desert landscape, with the Great Pyramid standing a whopping 139 meters (455 ft) high. For many years, the Great Pyramid, believed to have been built by Pharaoh Khufu around 2550 BC, was the largest structure on Earth. The second pyramid is believed to have been built by Khufu’s son, Khafre, circa 2520 BC. The second pyramid also includes the Sphinx, a limestone monument with the body of a lion and ordained with the head of a pharaoh. The third pyramid is much smaller than the first two and is thought to have been built by Pharaoh Menkaure around 2490 BC. Some scientific analysis has determined that these pyramids could be much older than is generally thought, suggesting that Khufu simply claimed the massive structures that were already in place for himself.

Many scientists have concluded that it only took 20,000 workers a period of 20 years to build the Great Pyramid. This is quite astounding, when our history tells that us they only used wooden implements with ropes and pulleys. With all the detail and precise alignments, it is hard to believe that such magnificence could be gained in a 20-year period by so few workers with such limited tools and resources.

Despite all the study of these ancient wonders, scientists still can’t confirm exactly how the pyramids were built. We have not been able recreate them, even on a smaller scale, with the same precision as our predecessors. The technology to do so back then simply didn’t exist, according to current historic teachings. It shouldn’t have been possible for the pyramids to be built. On top of that, the Great Pyramid is the only of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World to survive.

With some evidence suggesting that these pyramids could predate the Egyptians, there are those who believe that the pyramids could be a mark left by a more advance civilization, much older than 4,500 years. These are the top ten reasons the pyramids of Giza could prove that advanced ancient technology existed.

10Size And Weight Of Materials

The pyramids‘ massive size alone creates a very persuasive argument that there was some unknown technology involved in their construction. The Great Pyramid, the largest of the three and the largest in the world, consists of 2.3 million stone blocks that weigh 2.5 to 15 tons apiece. According to archaeologists, they were quarried from a nearby source. At such a marvelous weight, how did the workers move these blocks?

It is theorized that large groups of workers would have pushed these massive blocks over wooden ramps. This seems very unlikely, as there does not appear to have been any material, much less any type of wood, that could have withstood the weight of these massive stones. When you do the math for the time frame of the Great Pyramid’s construction, it comes out to workers setting a block every two and half minutes. Seems pretty incredible, if not impossible.

9Intricate Tunnel Systems

New discoveries are regularly made beneath the Giza pyramids. The tunnel systems found below them truly allude to an advanced civilization. Carved from limestone bedrock, these labyrinths protrude deep beneath the desert and have much left to be discovered. The passageways are always revealing new truths and hidden chambers, unknown to man for thousands of years. A recent find by archaeologist Brien Foerster only strengthens the notion that ancient advanced technologies once existed, long before our time.

While exploring deeper into the mazes beneath the pyramids, Foerster discovered 20 boxes cut with precision from Aswan granite. Each box weighs in at 100 tons a piece. Experts believe these huge boxes were burial places for prized bulls. The only issue with this belief is that no bulls have ever been found. The function of the boxes remains a mystery. Some think they were perhaps used to store an ancient form of energy. That might make more sense than bull burials.

8Alignment With The North Pole

There are a lot of theories that circulate concerning the alignment of the pyramids, specifically the Great Pyramid. They all agree that they cannot conclusively say how the ancient Egyptians were able to construct the Great Pyramid with such accuracy to the cardinal directions.

The north-south axis is aligned to within 0.15 degrees of true north-south. The ancient Egyptians didn’t have the North Star like we do today as a guide to true north. One of the only ways for them to have constructed the pyramids with such accuracy would have been to use complex algorithms. These algorithms would have only worked close to the seasonal solstice times, when the Sun’s alignment is more easily viewed. Further complicating the process, we must take into consideration atmospheric conditions, obstruction of viewpoint, etc.

Historically, no records have been found of the process the Egyptians used. The Great Pyramid, constructed thousands of years ago, is more accurate in alignment than our modern-built Meridian Building at the Greenwich Observatory in London.

7Mortar Of Unknown Origin

Samples of the mortar used for the construction of the pyramids have been analyzed many times, and though the composition has been determined, our modern technology has yet to be able to recreate it. The mortar is mostly made of processed gypsum, and it wasn’t used like the cement we use for our modern-day bricks.

Ancient Egyptian mortar was used to support the joints of the huge stones as they were placed. An estimated 500,000 tons of mortar were used during the construction of the Great Pyramid. Astoundingly, this gypsum mortar is stronger than the stones themselves and has remained in place for thousands of years.

6Mysterious Shafts

Photo credit: R.F. Morgan

There has been much speculation regarding the shafts inside the Great Pyramid. Of the three pyramids in Giza, it is the only one to be built with them. The angles of these shafts seem to correspond with celestial bodies. This would still beg the question: What unknown technology were they using to get such precise alignments, and why go through all the trouble?

Just like the pyramid’s alignment with the poles, there are no records found within Egyptian culture that reveal how they were able to get these alignments. There are other theories that state these shafts were simply for ventilation, though most of them do not even break the surface of the pyramid to reach outside air.

520-Ton Door

Photo credit: Olaf Tausch

At one time, some pyramids had huge swivel doors. These massive doors were undetectable because they fit so perfectly into the openings within the pyramids. Such a swivel door was discovered when the Great Pyramid was first being explored.

One could open the door from the inside with minimal force, due to how perfectly balanced it was. We are talking about an estimated 20 tons being moved with ease by a single hand. How the Egyptians were able to cut and place these doors with such precision remains a mystery. How were they able to balance such enormous weight?

4Casing Stones

Photo credit: World Pyramids

The Great Pyramid was once covered in white, polished limestone, referred to as casing stones. This would have made the pyramid shine like a gem in the middle of the desert. The stones reflected the light of the Sun like a mirror. The cuts made in this reflective stone were angled perfectly, so when the Great Pyramid was covered in them, it had a smooth, flat appearance. A great number of these stones were cut from a quarry across the Nile River and then transported across the water. After crossing the river, the stones were placed with an exactness that is difficult to parallel.

A large earthquake in AD 1303 caused many of the casing stones to loosen. They were then used to build mosques and fortresses. Today, all that remains is the inner core of the pyramid. What a sight the Great Pyramid must have been intact, in its day.

3Eight-Sided Precision

Photo credit: Awesci

At first glance, the Great Pyramid of Giza looks like a four-sided pyramid. But from the air, you can see that each side indents, making it an eight-sided structure. It is thought that perhaps these indentations were part of the design in order to keep the casing stones in place. Others have tried to claim that they’re the result of erosion.

Whatever the reason, the precision is amazing. The sides indent by one degree of a half-degree. Even in today’s world, that would be hard to facilitate. To deny the intent behind these indentations and credit the windwith their existence completely undermines the skill it took to make them.

2Khufu’s Coffin

Photo credit: Popo le Chien

It is said that Khufu had the Great Pyramid built, though one wonders. When his sarcophagus was found and analyzed, it raised many questions. It was massive, weighing in at an estimated 3.75 tons, and its dimensions make it too large to have been brought into the chamber. Therefore, it must have been placed while the pyramid was being constructed.

The sarcophagus was made from a solid piece of granite, hollowed out from within. It also features holes that appear to have been made with some form of a drill. There is much to question concerning how such a primitive time could produce such things. The effort it would have taken to hollow out and penetrate this granite raises eyebrows as to how on Earth it was accomplished. Can you imagine a wooden pickax being all you had to work with?

1Strange Heat Spots Observed

Photo credit: AP

In 2015, a thermal scan of the pyramids revealed that the Great Pyramid has three areas along the bottom that generate some form of heat.Speculation as to what could be the cause for these stunning anomaliesbegan quickly. Some say there are small passageways beneath these heat points, which could lead to hidden chambers. Others believe that the heat is being generated by leftover ancient technology that has long been forgotten. There is sure to be more investigation of this discovery, as more heat spots have also been found along the upper half of the Great Pyramid.

Maybe the Great Pyramid of Giza is actually an ancient alien ship, preparing for takeoff after thousands of years at rest, absorbing the Sun’s energy. The heat spots are the engines starting to activate. It’s a possibility, right?

Nicole Shay is a freelance writer who loves all things ancient history.

10 Harrowing Facts About Krakow’s Ghetto

Post 8395

10 Harrowing Facts About Krakow’s Ghetto


Approximately 1.5 million people were murdered in Poland alone during WWII, with the Nazis mercilessly killing six million Jewish people from countries across the world, as well as five million Roman gypsies, homosexuals, disabled people, and prisoners of war.

From the minute the Nazis entered Poland, the attack on Jewish people had begun. The Nazis arrived in Krakow on September 6, 1939, and immediately changed the lives of Jewish people, depriving them of state pensions, imposing compulsory disclosure of foreign bank deposits, and demanding people between the age of 14 to 60 embark on forced labor.

All Jewish people were also ordered to wear badges with the Star of David. What’s more, they were banned from public transport, moving freely across the city, and were later moved to the ghetto, a Jewish living quarter, in 1941 “for sanitary and public order reasons.”

10Life in the Ghetto

75,000 Jewish people were removed from their homes and forced to live in the ghetto, with slums situated across 16 square blocks. With a third of Krakow’s population living within the walled ghetto, food was as scarce as mercy. Only people with money could access the ghetto’s black market to purchase unavailable items.

Krakow became the capital of the Generalgouvernement (General Government) and was one of five major ghettos across Poland. The ghetto was situated on the right bank of the Vistula River in the Podgórze district, and it became known as ‘Krakow’ or ‘Podgórze Ghetto,’ stretching across a 50-acre space that featured one and two-storey buildings.

In the 17 days leading up to the resettlement, the 3,000 original residents were forced to move from the district to make way for 16,000 Jews, which proves the little space Jewish people had to endure during their time in the ghetto. However, approximately 2,000 more people illegally entered the ghetto, believing they were safer behind the ghetto walls than in front of them.

9Tombstone Walls

One apartment block was allocated to four families inside the ghetto, which meant the average person had two square meters (21 ft2) of space. However, it was not just overcrowding that provided a problem for Jews, they were deliberately made to feel oppressed, as windows facing the city were boarded up to prevent outside contact.

One of the most dominant features of the ghetto was the 3-metre-high (10 ft) wall, which was installed across the ghetto’s confines. Sickeningly, the walls were crowned with arches to resemble their tombstones. The people of the ghetto were helpless, and they would have felt it every day of their lives.

8The Final Solution

In 1941, Hitler originally authorized the mass murder of 11 million Jews, but it was on January 20, 1942, that SS-Gruppenfuhrer Reinhard Heydrich, the head of the German General Security Office, chaired a conference on the matter in Wannsee, Germany. It was here that the fate of Jewish people in the Third Reich territories was decided, with the delegates agreeing to the deportation of Jews to death camps.

This marked the beginning of the mass genocide, and the plan was effectively implemented on June 3, 1942, following an agreement between Reichfuhrer SS Heinrich Himmler and General Governor Hans Frank. The world-scale genocide was given the code name “The Final Solution of the Jewish Question,” which estimated the murder of approximately 11 million Jews under the agreement. The fate of the Jewish people in Krakow and beyond was sealed.

The mass killing of Jewish people had, however, already begun prior to the agreement, as both the SS and German Army had already embarked on the extermination of Jewish people in Serbia and the German-occupied Soviet Union.

The Krakow Ghetto experienced two significant deportations. 7,000 Jews were deported via Plaszow to the Belzec death camp between June 1 and 8, 1942, with 1,000 of the Jews murdered before the train continued its journey to Belzec. Another 6,000 Jews were deported from the Krakow Ghetto by the SS and police on October 27 and 28, 1942, killing 600 people during the deportation process—300 of the innocent victims were Jewish children. Tragically, not a single deportee survived the death camp.

7The Jewish Fighting Organization

Two resistance groups existed in the Krakow ghetto by 1942: the Akiva group, led by Aharon “Dolek” Liebeskind, and another group of fighters led by former soldier Heshek Bauminger. Following the mass murder of Jewish people in the Chelmno killing center, and the deportations of thousands of Jews in June 1942, the Jewish fighters decided it was time to fight back against the Nazis. The leaders, therefore, enlisted the help of courier Hela Shüpper to contact other Jewish resistance groups in cities such as Warsaw, Rzeszow, and Tarnow, sharing information and smuggling weapons into the ghetto. Shimshon Draenger also led the creation of a forgery workshop to falsify documents and papers.

After the two mass deportations of Jewish people from the Krakow ghetto, the two resistances groups came together to form the Jewish Fighting Organization (JFO) in October 1942. Over the next few months, the JFO raided German warehouses, sabotaged railway lines, and attacked both German soldiers and the security police. After careful planning at their base outside the ghetto, the JFO orchestrated a series of attacks on German forces throughout Krakow, throwing grenades into cafes where German officers dined, as well as distributing anti-Nazi leaflets, sabotaging police and army vehicles, assassinating German soldiers, and raising Polish flags across the bridges over the river Vistula.

Unfortunately, the German authorities succeeded in their massive manhunt to find the fighters. Tragically, the Gestapo discovered Liebeskind’s hiding place, but he didn’t go down without a fight, as he was tragically killed in a shootout. The following day, Bauminger met a similar fate. Undeterred, the JFO continued to fight against the Nazis, distributing Anti-Nazi leaflets, continuing with their sabotage, and encouraging Jewish people to flee to the forests.


Ahead of the liquidation, Jews who were refused the right to stay in the Krakow ghetto were gathered for deportation at Zgody Square, which is now known as Bohaterow Getta Square. Those who did not have a stamp in their job cards to confirm their employment by a German company were deported to Belzec. A crowd of people stood on a horse-drawn platform. From the balcony above The Eagle Pharmacy, which stands to this day, the Gestapo took photographs to provide evidence of the resettlement, which was to prove they were humanitarian in their treatment towards Jews.

Tragically, after the photographs were taken of the crowd, the Jewish people were chased off the platform, with many beaten during the action. The coachmen were also dismissed from their duties, and the Jewish deportees were sent to the railway station in Prokocim for transportation to the death camp.

5The Eagle Pharmacy

The Eagle Pharmacy was an anomaly in occupied Europe, as it could continue its operations day and night following the erection of the Krakow ghetto. The owner was Tadeusz Pankiewicz, who was the only gentile permanent resident living in the ghetto. The pharmacy became the hub of intellectual activity from the moment the ghetto came to existence, with professionals, scholars, and artists meeting in the pharmacy’s basement. It was at The Eagle Pharmacy that residents would share news from the front, discuss everyday issues, or comment on war communiques. They also arranged dinners to the music by brothers Leopold and Herman Rosner and would host scientific and political debates.

Once the ghetto’s post office closed, residents would transfer letters, money, and news from within the pharmacy. In fact, Tadeusz employed additional staff to act as intermediaries. The pharmacists were: Irena Drozdzikowska, Aurelia Danek, and Helena Krywaniuk. Many residents also sought refuge at the pharmacy during night raids, whilst the front and back entrances that led to the courtyard helped save the lives of many Jewish people. When the deportations started, Tadeusz distributed sedatives, cardiac medicines, and wound dressings without charge, which were delivered to physicians and nurses. Many Jewish people visited the pharmacy as the last point of contact before the deportations to leave a message or valuables for relatives and friends. Tadeusz also specially commissioned a cabinet from a joiner to save ten old precious Torahs in a secret vault.

Following encouragement from many of his friends from the ghetto, Tadeusz published his memoirs in 1947, which was called The Pharmacy in the Krakow’s Ghetto, and he also served as a prosecution witness at theNuremberg Trials. Tadeusz Pankiewicz kept his pharmacy open from the beginning to the end of the Krakow ghetto’s existence, and it continued its operations until 1951 when all pharmacies became nationalized. He worked as the pharmacy’s manager until 1954, before he asked to be moved to a different pharmacy at 29 Listopada Street. Tadeusz was also bestowed with the title Righteous Among the Nations.

The Eagle Pharmacy closed its doors in 1967 but, thanks to the efforts of Tadeusz’s colleagues and friends, it re-opened as a Museum of National Remembrance in 1983. The building now serves as a branch of The Historical Museum of the City of Krakow.

4Ghetto A & B

Following the June and October mass deportations, a squad was assigned to steal Jewish furniture and valuables, which were sent to a storage area at Jozefinska Street. Once the empty flats were “cleaned up,” the ghetto was ready for a new settlement of Jewish people. In December 1942, more Jewish people were transferred to the ghetto; however, this time it was divided into two sections: Ghetto A and Ghetto B.

Ghetto A was allocated to the working Jews, whilst Ghetto B was for other Jewish people, such as non-workers, elderly people, those suffering from an illness, and children aged up to 14. Little did the Jewish people know that the division was in preparation for the final liquidation of the Krakow ghetto.

Tragedy would strike the Krakow once again on March 13, 1943, as SS Oberfuhrer Julian Schemer ordered for the liquidation of the ghetto to be undertaken in two phases. That same day, 6,000 Jewish people from Ghetto A were sent to the recently constructed Plaszow labor camp. The next day, Ghetto B was liquidated, with 3,000 people killed during the action, while the remaining residents were transported via lorries to Auschwitz-Birkeneau.

The members and the families of the Jewish council, as well as the Krakow ghetto police force, were also sent to Plaszow. From the 3,000 people sent to Auschwitz-Birkeneau, only 499 men and 50 women were sent to the forced labor camp in Plaszow, whilst the remaining individuals were mercilessly murdered in the gas chambers. Between September and December 1943, nearly all Jewish people at the Plaszow labor camp were tragically killed in a series of mass shootings.

3Roman Polanski

Roman Polanski’s family moved back to Krakow in 1936 and were living in the city when the Germans invaded Poland at the start of World War II. The Polanski family was moved into the Krakow ghetto, along with thousands of Jews. During the deportation of Jewish people to concentration camps, Roman watched as his father was taken away from the family. His mother was deported to Auschwitz and was murdered not long after her arrival.

After witnessing the murder of a Jewish woman in the ghetto, the six-year-old hid in the recess in the stairs in the nearest building he could find and did not come out for hours. His movie The Pianist (2002) provides a true depiction of life inside the ghetto walls. Fortunately, Roman escaped the Krakow ghetto in 1943, adopting the name Roman Wilk, thanks to the help he received from a Polish Catholic family. Mrs. Sermak delivered on her promise to his father to provide him with shelter. He later stated: “I survived because I did not look very much like a Jew . . . I definitely looked like a lot of kids in Poland.”

2Polish Righteous Among the Nations

Tadeusz Pankiewicz was not the only person to be honored with the title Polish Righteous Among the Nations. There are 6,706 Polish men and women who have been recognized as Polish Righteous following WWII.

They were recognized for selflessly helping Jewish people during World War II. Engraved on the medals is the inscription “whoever saves one life, saves the world entire.” These people not only helped Jews in the ghetto and in Krakow, but across Poland. It was their bravery that helped to secure the future of many Polish families.

1Plac Bohaterow Getta Square

Plac Bohaterow Getta, known as Plac Zgody Square during World War II, was the center of the Krakow ghetto. It was the place residents would go to escape their overcrowded housing. Yet, it was also the scene of one of the city’s greatest horrors.

At the square, thousands of families were torn apart as the Nazis ordered mass deportations to concentration camps. Jewish people were also cruelly beaten and executed in the open space. Following the final liquidation of the Krakow ghetto, all that was left of the residents was the furniture, luggage, clothing, and personal items they were forced to abandon. It was an image that would later come to define the square.

Once World War II came to an end in 1945, Plac Zgody’s name was changed to Plac Bohaterow Getta, which aptly translates to Ghetto Heroes Square. A small monument was erected in their honor, yet the square was later only used for public toilets and a parking lot.

After experiencing many decades of neglect, a new iconic design was created in Plac Bohaterow Getta in 2005. Seventy well-spaced chairs now stand in the square to symbolize the departure of Jewish residents from the Krakow ghetto. It now serves as a memorial to the ghetto’s victims.

Elisabeth Sedgwick is a freelance writer from Liverpool, England. You can read more of her work here.