How Two Bodies Stayed Mummified for 75 Years in a Swiss Glacier

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How Two Bodies Stayed Mummified for 75 Years in a Swiss Glacier

The mountain range bordering the Jungfrau Glacier in Switzerland, as viewed from the Jungfraujoch.

Credit: Terry Chambers/Fox Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty

Last week, during a routine inspection tour, a ski-lift technician for the Swiss adventure resort Glacier 3000 found what he thought was a collection of black rocks near the Tsanfleuron glacier in the western Bernese Alps, reported The New York Times. Upon close inspection, though, he discovered that the rocks were, in fact, mummified bodies.

DNA testing has now confirmed that the bodies are those of Marcelin and Francine Dumoulin, spouses that had been lost ever since they left home to feed their cattle the morning of Aug. 15, 1942. So how did the bodies become preserved in the glacier?

Whether the Dumoulins fell into a crevasse remains a mystery, but it may be that a snowstorm covered them, making it impossible to find the couple by sight. But regardless of what happened, the water inside their bodies eventually froze. Still, the ice crystals in their tissues likely didn’t stay put, said Dan Fisher, a professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Michigan, who was not involved in identifying the remains. [25 Grisly Archaeological Discoveries]

“The tissue starts out with a high water content, but that water would freeze, and in many cases,actually under those frozen conditions, when surrounded with [air] with low water-vapor content, the ice crystals in the tissue can sublimate,” Fisher told Live Science. Sublimation is the process by which solid ice transitions directly into water vapor without ever becoming liquid. In other words, the tissue dried out, Fisher said.

As such, it was both the cold and the dry conditions that inhibited the work of bacteria and fungi, as well as the chemical processes that would normally break down human tissue, leaving the bodies well-preserved.

Additionally, the bodies remained relatively intact likely because the Tsanfleuron glacier may be relatively stable, even though glaciers, rivers of slow-flowing ice, are in constant motion. They advance when more ice and snow are added than lost, and retreat when more ice and snow is lost, according to Martin Callanan, an associate professor of archaeology at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, who was not involved in identifying the remains.

This retreat makes it possible to glimpse even further back into the past. In 2003, less than 20 miles (32 kilometers) away from Tsanfleuron, at the Schnidejoch glacier, coins, leather, a piece of a wooden bowl and a bow and arrows were among items discovered. Those objects date from Medieval times, all the way back to nearly 4500 B.C., during the Neolithic age.

“There is a definite increase in the number of objects that we’re finding and in the number of different regions that are reporting finds,” said Callanan, mentioning that he couldn’t speak to whether this was true specifically for bodies as well.

Photo published for Swiss police confirm identity of couple found on glacier

Callanan attributed this increase in discoveries, in part, to global warming. Global temperatures in 2014, 2015, and 2016 each broke the record for the hottest year on the planet since recordkeeping began in 1880, researchers from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration told Live Science. This warming is causing glaciers worldwide to shrink, a 2016 study in Nature Geoscience confirms with 99 percent certainty.

The recent discovery and identification of the Dumoulins is a great relief to the couple’s daughter Marceline Udry-Dumoulin. Udry-Dumoulin, one of seven children, was only 4 when her parents went missing. After their disappearance, local rescue teams searched crevasses for more than two months but found nothing.

“I climbed the glacier three times afterwards, always looking for them,” Udry-Dumoulin told the Swiss newspaper Le Matin. “I kept wondering if they had suffered and what had become of them. Now I have the pleasure of having answers to these questions.”

Original article on Live Science.

Facts About Gallium

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Facts About Gallium

Crystals of 99.999 percent gallium, grown in a lab

Credit: foobar/Creative Commons

Gallium is a soft, silvery metal used primarily in electronic circuits, semiconductors and light-emitting diodes (LEDs). It is also useful in high-temperature thermometers, barometers, pharmaceuticals and nuclear medicine tests. The element has no known biological value.

Natural element

In nature, gallium is never found as a free element and cannot be found in a substantial amount in any minerals. Rather, it exists in trace amounts in various compounds, including zinc ores and bauxite. By weight, gallium makes up about 0.0019 percent of Earth’s crust, according to It is easily obtained by smelting, however, and most commercial gallium is extracted as a byproduct of aluminum and zinc production, according to Chemicool. The largest producers of gallium are Australia, Russia, France, and Germany.

  • Atomic number (number of protons in the nucleus): 31
  • Atomic symbol (on the periodic table of the elements): Ga
  • Atomic weight (average mass of the atom): 69.723
  • Density: 5.91 grams per cubic centimeter
  • Phase at room temperature: solid
  • Melting point: degrees 85.57 degrees Fahrenheit (29.76 degrees Celsius)
  • Boiling point: 3,999 F (2,204 C)
  • Number of isotopes (atoms of the same element with a different number of neutrons): 24 whose half-lives are known
  • Most common isotopes: Two stable Ga-69 (natural abundance 60.1 percent) and Ga-71 (natural abundance 39.9 percent).
Electron configuration and elemental properties of gallium.
Electron configuration and elemental properties of gallium.

Credit: Greg Robson/Creative Commons, Andrei Marincas Shutterstock

On the periodic table of the elements, gallium is grouped in the Boron family (group 13), which includes the semi-metal boron (B) and the metalsaluminium (Al), gallium, indium (In) and thallium (Tl), according toChemistry LibreTexts. All five of these elements have three electrons in their outer energy level.

Gallium is a post-transition metal. These are metallic elements located between the transition metals and the metalloids (non-metals) on the periodic table. Post-transition metals have some of the traits of the transition metals but tend to be softer and conduct more poorly. The post-transition metals include some of the Boron family elements — aluminum, indium and thallium — but also tin (Sn), lead (Pb) and bismuth (Bi).

Gallium has some very unique qualities. For example, although it is a solid at room temperature (about 77 F/ 22 C), it is still so soft that you could cut it with a knife. In addition, it has a low melting point of 85.57 F (29.76 C) — less than 10 degrees above room temperature — so if you were to pick up a lump of gallium, it would literally melt from the warmth of your hand. Then if you set it back down, it would solidify again.

Even with such a low melting point, gallium’s boiling point is quite high at 3,999 F (2,204 C), giving it one of the greatest ratios between melting point and boiling point of any element. At low temperatures, gallium is a brittle solid that breaks quite easily, and similar to glass, it shatters conchoidally (does not follow natural planes of separation).

Gallium is used primarily in electronics. In fact, about 95 percent of all gallium produced is used to make gallium arsenide (GaAs), a compound used in microwave and infrared circuits, semiconductors and blue and violet LEDs, according to Chemistry Explained. Gallium arsenide can produce laser light directly from electricity and is used in solar panels, including those on the Mars Exploration Rover. The compound gallium nitride (GaN) is used as a semiconductor in Blu-ray technology, mobile phones and pressure sensors for touch switches.

Gallium bonds easily with most metals and is commonly used to make low-melting alloys. It is one of four metals (including mercury, rubidiumand caesium) that are liquid at or near room temperature. Of these four metals, gallium is the least reactive and least toxic, making it the most safe and environmentally-friendly choice for high temperature thermometers, barometers, heat transfer systems and cooling and heating devices.

Liquid gallium can be quite difficult to work with, however, as it clings to glass, skin and most other materials (except graphite, quartz and Teflon). It also expands when it freezes so it cannot be stored in glass containers.

Gallium is also used in some pharmaceuticals and radiopharmaceuticals. For example, the radioactive isotope Ga-67 is used as a nuclear medicine test to look for inflammation, infection or cancer in the body.

Gallium nitrate is used in many pharmaceuticals and as a treatment for hypercalcemia, a disease which can lead to the growth of bone tumors. Gallium has also been suggested as a treatment for cancer, infectious disease and inflammatory disease. However, exposure to large amounts of gallium may cause throat or chest irritation, and the fumes can lead to some serious conditions, according to Chemistry LibreTexts.

Before gallium was discovered, it was predicted by Russian chemist and inventor Dimitri Mendeleev, the creator of the periodic table of elements. He named the missing element eka-aluminum because he knew it would go below aluminum on the periodic table in box 31, according toChemicool.

The element was first discovered by the French chemist Paul-Émile Lecoq de Boisbaudran in 1875, who had been studying the spectra of the chemical elements for 15 years (spectra are the lines produced when chemical elements are heated), according to Chemistry Explained. Since each element produces its own distinctive set of lines, or spectra, this method was a reliable way to identify elements.

Lecoq de Boisbaudran wondered if element 31 might be found in zinc ores.Zinc, which has an atomic number of 30, sits next to gallium on the periodic table. In August 1875, using a spectroscope, Lecoq de Boisbaudran did indeed find some gallium, but only in very small amounts. He reported that the spectrum of the new element was composed of a narrow, readily visible, violet ray, according to Chemistry Explained.

Later that year, Lecoq de Boisbaudran obtained pure gallium through the electrolysis of gallium hydroxide in potassium hydroxide, according to theJefferson Lab. Lecoq de Boisbaudran was then given several tons of zinc ore by miners for his research. From this ore, he was able to produce a few grams of nearly pure gallium, according to Chemistry Explained. Lecoq de Boisbaudran proposed the name gallium for the new element, which comes from the Latin word “Gallia,” meaning France.

  • Liquid gallium cannot be kept in a glass or metal container because it expands 3.1 percent when it freezes.
  • Gallium has the largest liquid range of any metal.
  • The Neutrino Observatory in Italy uses large amounts of gallium trichloride to study solar neutrinos produced in the sun. Neutrinos are particles created in the first second of the universe — even before atoms — and are continually being made through nuclear reactions of the sun and other stars, according to the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
  • In its purest extracted form, gallium is a vibrant silver color. As a solid, it is blue-gray.
  • Another unusual trait of gallium is that it can be supercooled quite easily. Supercooling is the cooling down of a substance below its freezing point without turning it into a solid.
  • Approximately 95 percent of gallium consumption is in the electronics industry, according to LibreTexts. Gallium arsenide and gallium nitride represent about 98% of gallium consumption in the United States.
  • Gallium has been used in nuclear bombs to stabilize the crystal structure.
  • When painted on glass, gallium turns into a lustrous mirror.
  • Gallium’s boiling point is more than eight times higher than its melting point on the absolute scale — the greatest ratio between melting point and boiling point of any element.

Additional resources

10 Hypothetical Astronomical Objects That Could Actually Exist

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10 Hypothetical Astronomical Objects That Could Actually Exist


Space has undoubtedly been a fascinating part of reality for humanity. Ever since we were able to understand our surroundings, we’ve looked up at the stars in search for answers, inspiration, and constancy. Space has been the muse for hundreds of movies and thousands of books. It has inspired calendars and horoscopes that detail how the arrangement of astronomical objects can predict personality traits and major life events.

Space has also inspired numerous visions of the future. We’ve conjured up scenarios of interplanetary travel, alien communication, and even time travel via wormholes. The items on this list look like they have been taken from an old science fiction book. However, numerous scientists believe these objects could exist somewhere in the vastness of space. Here are the top ten hypothetical astronomical objects that could actually exist.

10Zombie Star

Photo credit: NASA, ESA

As the name suggests, this type of star is one that, in a way, comes back from the dead. We’ve all heard of a supernova being referred to as the “death” of a star. In most cases, supernovae do mark the end of stars’ lives, since, during those grand explosions, the star is completely obliterated. However, scientists at NASA now believe that a faint supernova could leave behind a surviving portion of the dying dwarf star.

Astronomers first thought about the possibility of zombie stars when they observed a faint blue star feeding energy to its larger companion star. This process ignited a relatively small supernova, a Type Iax, which is low in brightness and does not spew out as much stellar mass as its cousin, the Type Ia supernova. So far, this is the only known way a white dwarf can explode. Typically, stars that explode at the end of their lifetimes are large, massive, and have very short life spans. White dwarfs, on the other hand, are cooler and tend to live longer, since they do not typically explode. Instead, they tend to expel their mass and create a planetary nebula. NASA scientists believe they have identified 30 of these Type Iax supernovae that leave behind a surviving white dwarf, but additional evidence is needed to safely say that they exist.

9White Hole

White holes were theorized by scientists who were working with black holes. While they were working through the complex mathematics associated with black holes, they found that by assuming the singularity at the center of a black hole had no mass, or by assuming that there was no mass within the event horizon, a white hole could be created.

The math explains that if white holes are real, they would behave exactly unlike black holes. That is, instead of sucking up all the matter around them, they would eject matter into the universe. However, the math also states that white holes could only exist if there was absolutely no matter inside the event horizon, not even a tiny cookie crumb. In the instance one atom of matter enters the white hole’s event horizon, it would collapse and disappear, so even if these white holes existed in the beginning of our universe, their life spans would have been incredibly short, since our universe is filled with matter.

8Dyson Sphere

The concept of a Dyson sphere was first introduced by Freeman Dyson, a physicist and astronomer who explored the idea through a thought experiment. He imagined a solar system–sized solar power collector. He believed a civilization could enclose its star in a cloud of satellite-type objects (or a “shell” or “ring of matter” in Dyson’s words) in order to beam 100 percent of the star’s radiation to a planet. Dyson created this thought experiment as a way to identify possible alien life in the universe. If we were to find a Dyson sphere, it could indicate the presence of a highly advanced alien civilization.

Here’s a cool fact: If we had the technology to create a Dyson sphere around the Sun, we would generate 384 yottawatts of energy, aka the total power output of the Sun. (Yotta- is the largest decimal unit prefix. It is equal to ten to the 24th power, or one septillion, or one million million million million.)

7Black Dwarf

Black dwarf—the name itself does not invoke sci-fi vibes as “zombie star” does. However, the concept behind a black dwarf is equally as interesting as all the other hypothetical objects on this list. So far, astronomers have found white dwarfs, brown dwarfs, and red dwarfs. However, black dwarfs have never been seen and are purely theoretical. Astronomers believe they could be formed from white dwarfs that have cooled for a sufficiently long time, to the point where their temperature matches the temperature of the Cosmic Microwave Background. The CMB is the radiation left over from the Big Bang that fills up the entire universe. It currently has an average temperature of 2.7 Kelvin.

These black dwarfs are thought to be invisible, since their temperature is so low and they have no internal source of energy. Theoretically, if a 5-Kelvin white dwarf was to turn into a black dwarf, it would take 1015 years.Therefore, the universe is still too young to have created any black dwarfs!

6Quark Star

Photo credit: Science

Quark stars, also called strange stars, are thought to be composed of a soup of quarks—the fundamental constituents of matter. Astronomers believe that these stars can be created after a medium-sized star (about 1.44 times the size of our Sun) has run out of fuel and has entered the collapsing stage of its lifetime. As it collapses, it squeezes protons and electrons together, eventually forming neutrons. However, scientists think that if the star is heavy enough and continues collapsing after this stage, the neutrons that were created could break down into their component quarks under the immense pressure, creating an incredibly dense type of matter.

A paper published in 2012 delves into the hypothetical nature of these strange quark stars. The authors of the paper explain that these stars could be enveloped in a thin nuclear “crust,” consisting of heavy ions immersed in an electron gas. However, they could also exist without the crust. In that case, the quark stars would possess ultra-high electric fields that could reach up to 1019 Volts per centimeter!

5Ocean Planet

Photo credit: Anynobody

As the name suggests, ocean planets, or water worlds, are thought to be composed entirely of vast, uninterrupted oceans. The idea of water worlds became popular when NASA announced the existence of two planets outside of our solar system: Kepler-62e and Kepler-62f. These planets are thought to be water worlds that could harbor a wealth of aquatic life.

A paper published in June 2004 explains how these types of planets could be formed. It is believed that they form relatively far away from their parent star and slowly migrate toward it (over a time period of about a million years). The planet would have to come five to ten times closer to the star, depending on how far away it initially formed. The paper delves into the internal structure of the planets as well as how deep their oceans could be and what their atmospheres could be composed of. Interesting read!

4Chthonian Planets

Photo credit: ESO/L. Calcada

The idea of Chthonian planets became popular thanks to an extrasolar planet nicknamed Osiris. NASA scientists were baffled when they detected carbon and oxygen for the first time in an atmosphere outside of our solar system. However, Osiris’s atmosphere was seen to be rapidly evaporating.

Scientists have designated a new class of worlds called Chthonian planets, which are created when gas giants, like Jupiter, enter a critical distance from their parent star. When they get too close, their outer layers begin to rapidly evaporate. Chthonian planets are thus the remnants of these gas giants, which have been stripped of their outer layers, leaving behind a dense central core.

3Preon Star

A preon star is something that could follow a quark star. As a star is compressed to the point where it becomes a quark star and is still massiveenough to continue its collapse, scientists believe that the quarks themselves could break down into these theoretical preons.

So far, scientists have not found a way to break down quarks, so they remain the main constituents of matter. However, if quarks are made of other individual particles—these so-called preons—stars could technically achieve this even denser state, one of matter created entirely of a soup of hyper-dense preons.

2Ghost Galaxy

Ghost galaxies, also called dark galaxies, are galaxies that have very few stars. They’re so inefficient at making stars that they’re thought to be mostly composed of gas and dust, making them basically invisible. As of now, they remain theoretical for this very fact, but astronomers believe that dark galaxies are likely to exist. An international team of scientists even thinks they have found the first dark galaxy. However, more data analysis needs to be done before it is confirmed.

Astronomers believe they have also found a different type of ghost galaxy, one that is 99 percent dark matter. They named it Dragonfly 44, and it seems to be the Milky Way’s dark doppelganger in mass, but it contains very few stars and is different in its structure. If this galaxy is ever observed or analyzed in enough detail, it could change how astronomers perceive galaxy formation and dark matter.

1Cosmic Strings

Cosmic strings are an insane idea, but the craziest part about them is that they could actually exist. Cosmic strings are slight defects in the fabric of space and time that were created at the beginning of time, left over from the formation of the universe. If one were to interact with one of these defects, one could create a “closed time-like curve,” which would allow for backwardtime travel. Scientists have speculated how they can make time machines out of these cosmic strings. They believe that by putting two of them close enough together, or one string and one black hole, they could create an array of these closed time-like curves.

To better visualize this, picture the cosmic strings as loops of space-time. Imagine picking up one loop and throwing it across space directly toward another loop. Then, imagine jumping on a space ship and flying around them in a perfect figure eight. This would allow you to emerge at any random point in space and time!

Although these objects are purely theoretical, astronomers believe that, if they exist, they would be very small “lines” in the fabric of space, and their effects would be incredibly strange. It is also believed that their existence could explain bizarre effects observed in faraway galaxies.

Top 10 Ways To Escape From North Korea

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Top 10 Ways To Escape From North Korea


North Korea is one of the most isolated nations in the world. The country officially restricts communication between its people and outsiders. Foreign media cannot operate without government permission, and visiting tourists cannot interact freely with North Korean citizens.

In mid-2017, the US banned its people from traveling to North Korea after a tragedy involving US tourist Otto Warmbier. He was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor in a North Korean prison for a seemingly minor offense, inexplicably fell into a coma there, and died shortly upon his return to the US.

Life in North Korea is terrible and difficult. Its citizens are being subjected to escalating levels of murder, rape, torture, and hunger on a daily basis. The lack of food is so widespread that there is severe stunting in children.

About 25 percent of the population has no access to proper health care and 20 percent lack proper sanitation and clean water facilities. Human right abuses are so common in North Korea that every ordinary citizen there has experienced it at least once in his or her lifetime.

The government is a dictatorship that prevents its people from traveling out of the country. Anyone who defects from North Korea is considered a traitor and will face severe consequences, including imprisonment and forced labor, if ever brought back to the country.

Even so, North Korean citizens have never given up the hope of leaving the country. In fact, several have tried and succeeded. These are the top 10 ways to escape from North Korea.

Featured image credit:

10The Demilitarized Zone

On the Korean peninsula, the demilitarized zone (DMZ) is a region that separates North Korea from South Korea. It runs for about 240 kilometers (150 mi) and is heavily fortified on either side. Both countries keep a large contingent of troops there.

Making an escape through the DMZ is very dangerous for a civilian because there are land mines around the whole region as well as trigger-happy North Korean soldiers who are too willing to riddle a defector’s body with bullets. The irony, however, is that North Korean soldiers who are supposed to guard their section of the border have taken this escape route safely in the past.

South Korea usually grants citizenship to North Korean defectors. This ensures that the defectors do not need to return to North Korea, where they would be executed.

9The Yellow Sea

Photo credit: The Guardian

The Yellow Sea is a maritime boundary between North Korea and South Korea, but it is also an easy, short route between the two nations. Each country claims a portion of the sea as part of its territory.

The only danger with trying to escape via this route is that it is heavily guarded by naval forces from both countries. The North Korean navy will not hesitate to kill or capture any defector.

There is, however, a ray of hope in escaping through the Yellow Sea. In the past, several good swimmers have easily made their way to South Korea from North Korea simply by swimming this relatively short distance. No matter how eager the North Korean navy is, it is difficult to spot a swimmer in the sea.

8The Sea Of Japan

Photo credit: The Guardian

The Sea of Japan, a common maritime boundary between North Korea and Japan, is also bordered by South Korea and Russia. This is a good route for North Korean defectors who are hoping to leave the isolated country.

The main difficulty: A boat is required to successfully cross into Japan or South Korea. Also, the trip to either country via the Sea of Japan is a long one.

However, there is hope for a defector as several people have made it in the past using this route. Rather than deporting North Korean defectors, Japan gives them the opportunity to safely continue their trip to South Korea.

7The North Korea–China Border

Photo credit:

Several North Korean defectors have taken advantage of their country’s shared border with China to escape from their isolated and repressive homeland. To travel from North Korea to China safely, a defector must collaborate with a Chinese person or someone who is well acquainted with the route in order to escape detection by the Chinese border patrol.

The bad news is that China is very hostile toward North Korean migrants. China collaborates with North Korea on this issue and frequently deports defectors to their homeland, where they will face execution or imprisonment in forced labor camps.

6The Olympic Team

Although North Korea is isolated, it has an Olympic team like almost every nation of the world. Being a member of the Olympic team is a win-win situation for North Koreans.

Besides enabling athletes to enjoy the facilities of a democratic country, team membership presents a great opportunity to escape the tyrannical regime back home. The North Korean government rewards those who win medals but punishes athletes and coaches who come back with nothing.

This is enough reason for athletes to defect from the regime. Although it could be relatively difficult for an average North Korean to defect, it is quite easy for an Olympic athlete. Although all North Korean athletes are closely monitored during international competitions, an escape would be quite easy because the countries that host the Olympic Games are usually democratic nations.

5The Soccer Team

Photo credit: Marcello Casal Jr/ABr

North Korea had a soccer team that qualified for the World Cup in 2010. However, the team did not win a single game at the group stage. After conceding 12 goals in three matches, North Korea dropped out of the tournament.

Despite the humiliation suffered by the team during the games, the North Korean government added insult to injury in its usual style by shaming the players at a public event in Pyongyang. Then the coach of the soccer team was forced to quit his job and was reassigned to the construction industry.

There is hardly any good news that comes out of North Korea. The only great thing about being a member of the North Korean soccer team is that there would be several opportunities to escape from the regime during international competitions.

4Foreign Labor Mission

Photo credit: The Guardian

North Korea has a state-controlled foreign labor mission that enables the government to earn money by sending its citizens to work in countries like China and Russia. Then the irresponsible North Korean government uses the funds from its exploitation of citizens to finance a missile program.

It is estimated that North Korea deploys its forced labor mission in about 45 countries, including those in the European Union. This forced labor is at the heart of the 2018 World Cup preparations.

The work conditions are so bad that North Korean laborers often die on-site. However, neither spy police nor the army watches the laborers to prevent them from escaping. This provides an opportunity for North Koreans to defect from the repressive regime.

3North Korean Diplomatic Corps

Photo credit: The Telegraph

Like every other country, North Korea has a diplomatic corps as well asembassies in some foreign nations. Although North Korea tries to imitate successful countries, it is practically impossible for the hermit nation to hide its miserable state.

Embassy staff are so poorly paid that they are forced to buy secondhand office equipment.The apparent lack of cash is believed to result from a North Korean directive that all embassies be self-financed whenever possible. In addition, North Korean officials have been arrested in certain countries for using their diplomatic status to commit crimes.

Although life in the North Korean diplomatic corps is harsh, it presents a great opportunity to escape from the homeland. Over the years, there have been numerous high-profile defections. For example, in 2016, a senior North Korean diplomat, his wife, and his children defected to South Korea from the United Kingdom. Years earlier, in 1997, the North Korean ambassador to Egypt defected to the United States.

2Air Koryo

North Korea has a state-owned airline called Air Koryo. Like almost everything offered by the country, except its missiles and nuclear weapons, Air Koryo is known for poor quality. It is the only one-star airline in the world.

The poor rating comes from negative passenger reviews. Travelers on Air Koryo have complained about distant attendants, propaganda newspapers, and inedible food. Moreover, the airline flies limited routes. For example, Air Koryo is banned from flying over European Union airspace.

The list of negative reports about the airline is almost endless—from the use of old Soviet-era aircraft to the showing of North Korean propaganda movies to the unwilling passengers aboard flights. The airline also lacks the familiar perks of the civilized travel industry, such as frequent flyer miles, hotel points, and car rentals.

The only good thing about Air Koryo is that it presents an opportunity for North Korean citizens to defect. Although the airline only flies to and from countries that actively support the regime, there have been no reports of armed guards monitoring flight attendants or pilots.

1Student Exchange Program

Photo credit:

A student exchange program allows North Korean students to study abroad and vice versa. On a yearly basis, several students leave China to study in North Korea. Although the country is not a popular destination for Chinese students, some adventurous ones opt to try it.

The good thing about the student exchange program is that hardworking North Korean citizens can study abroad. It’s a win-win situation for the following reasons. Students who return to North Korea may use their new knowledge from advanced countries to alleviate the plight of the poor masses at home who cannot travel or leave. On the other hand, the student exchange program provides an opportunity to escape the clutches of the wicked regime.

Jeffrey Morris is a freelance writer with a passion for history, finance, and politics. You can hire him here.

10 Reasons The Biblical Flood May Have Actually Happened

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10 Reasons The Biblical Flood May Have Actually Happened


Perhaps of all the biblical stories and tales from ancient times, the legends of the Flood are the best known. To most people, these legends are exactly that, mere stories told over the ages and certainly nothing more than fiction.

However, for quite a while, some researchers have offered that the Flood was not merely a myth but a very real event. Initially, the fact that the same story was found in the ancient pasts of various cultures all over the world was the only morsel of proof put forward.

But as the world becomes ever smaller due to improved travel, advanced technology, and the Internet, more finds suggest that the Flood may actually have happened!

10The Presence Of Chevrons Well Above Sea Level

Photo credit:

One of the best ways to detect the location of past flooding is the presence of chevrons, which are wedge-shaped structures in the seafloor. Any significant water activity, such as tsunamis, will leave these chevrons behind.

They have, however, been discovered at and above ground level. This suggests that huge, wide-scale flooding occurred at some point in the distant past.

In 2004, these “high-placed” chevrons were discovered in the mountainous regions of Madagascar. Environmental archaeologist Bruce Masse has studied the area in depth. He believes that this includes an area that offers proof of large-scale flooding and its cause—an impact crater under the Indian Ocean that is probably from a large comet crashing to Earth.

This impact, Masse argues, caused gigantic tidal waves and immense flooding. His research also points to this happening about the time that matches other research and ancient writings about the Flood.

9David Allen Deal’s ‘Discovery Of Noah’s Ark!’

On a piece of land opposite Mount Ararat in modern-day Turkey (where ancient texts suggest the Ark came to rest), David Allen Deal believes that he found the remains of what once was Noah’s Ark. The claims made headlines for a time in the late 1990s as various media outlets broadcast the story—all with different angles and seriousness.

The dimensions of the “remains” broadly match those given in ancient texts, and the area itself is known locally as Naxuan (“Noah’s Zion”). The site had first come to light in the late 1940s following the discovery of the strange outline in the land after an earthquake.

In 1960, Life magazine published pictures of the site. But it wasn’t until Deal conducted extensive research over 10 years that he came forward to claim in his book, The Day Behemoth And Leviathan Died, that the site was indeed the landing spot of Noah’s Ark.

8Ancient Writings Telling The Same Story

Photo credit: Ancient Origins

Practically every civilization carries with it a legend of a great flood from “ancient times.” All of them are remarkably similar in detail despite the lack of known contact among these people.

Although we all know the story of Noah and the Ark, we will look a little later at the Epic of Gilgamesh and the ancient writings of Sumer and the flood accounts in those. But there are many other examples.

In Greek myths and legends, Zeus would “send a flood” to destroy the enemies of whom he had grown tired. In this encounter, upon learning of Zeus’s plans, Prometheus instructs his son, Deucalion, to “build a chest.” He did and survived while “all other men perished!”

Roman lore speaks of the god Jupiter, with the help of Neptune, flooding the Earth to rid it of the “evil ways of humanity!” In this story, Deucalion and his wife, Pyrrha, escape the waters on a great boat that washes up on the summit of Parnassus, where Jupiter then takes pity on them.

In ancient Egyptian legends, Atum sends the flood against the “rebellious people.” However, he opts to stay on Earth—interestingly, in the form of a serpent.

Does the fact that all these legends are virtually identical, except for the names and minor points, suggest that they are more historical accounts as opposed to mere legend?

7The Relevance Of Gobekli Tepe

Although it is purely a speculative view, the ancient site of Gobekli Tepe is believed by some to have been one of the first regions to be established after the Flood. Advanced buildings and knowledge of irrigation and agriculture is evident here, as are bizarre stones marked with animals.

From an ancient astronaut perspective, if we believe that the builders of the Ark used advanced technology, might this have been the place where “Noah” began or assisted life in spreading far and wide again?

Incidentally, the site is thought to have been constructed—give or take a few hundred years—around 10,000 BC. There is also evidence of altars where animal remains have been found, suggesting that they had beensacrificed. Again, this would tie in with many of the Bible stories and ancient writings that speak of Noah doing such an act upon leaving the Ark.

Although the land is now under Turkish rule, it was once home to the Armenian people. Many of them claim that their cultural history shows direct lineage to Gobekli Tepe and, in turn, to Noah.

6Many Underwater Cities Being Discovered

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Various underwater cities (or their remains) have been discovered all over the world. Many also correspond to the apparently special date of 10,000 BC in terms of their age at the time of submergence.

An example of these underwater ruins is located off the coast of Okinawa. In 1986, the remains of giant steps and pyramids were discovered there. What made the find even more intriguing were the ancient legends of an underwater city, said to lie exactly where it was eventually discovered. The ruins were found to have been the result of a “highly advanced civilization.”

Off the coast of India, a discovery from 2002 stretches for miles underwater, with initial sonar research suggesting that the city was flooded over during the last Ice Age.

Are these underwater cities the result of a change in sea and land levels following the Flood? As an interesting side note, many of these underwater cities are vast beyond belief, suggesting that the builders were extremely advanced.

5Significance Of The Sumerian King List

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The discovery of the ruins of ancient Sumer and its masses of relics brought to light an item known as the Sumerian King List. This is literally a list of the kings who have ruled over Sumer since the beginning of time.

What is interesting about this list is the rulers who lived before the Flood, which is believed to have occurred approximately 12,000 years ago by most researchers. All these kings ruled for hundreds of years, suggesting that they lived much longer than modern humans. Following the Flood, the length of the reigns began to reflect more realistic human life spans, with most kings ruling between 10 and 40 years.

Why were the apparent life spans of kings before the Flood so much longer than those after, which are the same as the modern human life span? And why does the apparent time of the Flood seem to be the catalyst or marker for such a change?

Could it be partial evidence that the Flood happened and it caused a greater change than we initially thought, including altering the life span of human beings?

4More Evidence In The Dead Sea Scrolls

Photo credit: Ancient Origins

With the discovery of the mysterious writings known as the Dead Sea Scrolls in the late 1940s, we found writings that had not been seen for thousands of years. We also received more descriptions of both the Flood and the “Ark” used by Noah.

The scrolls speak in depth about the Flood and the vessel constructed to navigate it. They suggest that the Ark was shaped like a pyramid. Recently, new technology has managed to reveal a word that previously had been unreadable: ne’esefet (“gathered”).

In the context of the writings, the word suggests that the “ribs of the Ark” were gathered at the top. In other words, it had a pyramid shape.

3Tentative Link To Aliens

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Beginning in the late 1970s, researcher and author Zecharia Sitchin released the first title in his book series called Earth Chronicles. In these books, he told of an alien race, the Anunnaki, who came to Earth and began a “worker race” of human beings to help mine the Earth for gold. These descriptions are based on Sitchin’s translations of ancient Sumerian texts.

In this story, the Anunnaki were aware of a great flood coming to the Earth. They chose not to intervene and save human beings. Instead, Enlil, an Anunnaki leader, instructed his favorite human to create a ship of sorts. The man was to take with him what he needed to preserve life so that he could repopulate Earth following the flood.

Perhaps it should be noted that many people dismiss Sitchin’s work and theories in their entirety. However, another ancient writing, the Epic of Gilgamesh, speaks of similar accounts. Many ancient astronaut theorists insist that Gilgamesh is filled with extraterrestrial references.

2Mainstream Admissions (At Least To The Possibility)

Although theories of the Flood as a real event were once the ramblings offringe researchers and scientists, more mainstream researchers now seriously ponder this question. This shows a shift in thinking as well as the acceptance of the possibility—perhaps even likelihood—that the Flood was an actual event.

Some conspiracy theorists will tell you that this is a purposeful “drip-feeding” of information (much as alien researchers claim that the authorities are doing in their fields). But if we assume that the Flood did happen, it is more likely that researchers are simply reluctant to “put their necks on the line” for such an outlandish claim without irrefutable proof. Given how long ago this happened, that proof may be difficult to obtain.

1The Ark Was A DNA Bank

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Even if the Flood was proven to be real, surely the stories of the Ark are not true, right? For example, how is it possible for any vessel to literally carry and maintain two of every species? However, like the Flood itself, tales of the Ark (or some other such vessel) are also present in all the flood legends. So might the Ark also have been real?

A proposal by the ancient astronaut community asked this question: What if the Ark—whatever it might have been in nuts-and-bolts terms—had carried only the DNA of every living species in preparation for beginning life again after the waters receded?

This does suggest that advanced technology was available, understood, and used many thousands of years ago. However, maybe we should consider what Rabbi Ariel Bar Tzadok told the TV program Ancient Aliens:

The ancient flood was of vital importance because the world before the flood was very different from the world afterward. There are continual legends from around the world that the “preflood” times were an advanced, technological civilization where human beings were in touch with beings from the stars. All of this was lost because of the contamination that incurred!

10 Outrageous Scandals That Rocked The Vatican In Recent Years

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10 Outrageous Scandals That Rocked The Vatican In Recent Years


The Catholic Church is no stranger to controversy. Throughout history, the Vatican has caused more than its fair share of scandals and has carried this trend into the modern era. The following offenses all came to light within the last decade or so and show the Church in a very bad light.

10Gay Orgy At Cardinal’s Apartment

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An Italian newspaper called Il Fatto Quotidiano first reported that the Vatican police broke up a gay orgy in June 2017 involving at least one member of the Catholic Church.

The apartment where the orgy was taking place belongs to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and its current occupant is alleged to be Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio. The cardinal has served as the president of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts since 2007 and is a personal adviser to Pope Francis.

It should be noted that the cardinal was not among the men present at the orgy. Rather, it was one of his aides. The man who remains unidentified is a priest who works as a secretary for Coccopalmerio and was recently recommended by the cardinal for promotion to bishop.

Police entered the apartment after several neighbors repeatedly complained of loud noises and many people coming and going. Inside, they found theorgy mid-swing and evidence of drug use.

9George Pell Accused In Australia

Photo credit: The Guardian

Earlier this year, Australian Cardinal George Pell became the highest-ranking member of the Catholic Church to be charged with multiple offenses of sexual assault.

In 2014, Pope Francis made Pell the first Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, basically putting him in charge of the Vatican’s finances. Pell has subsequently been granted leave from his position in order to defend himself in a Magistrates’ Court in Victoria.

Australian authorities have not made the charges against Pell public yet. They mention multiple charges of historical sexual assault coming from multiple complainants.

In 2013, the Australian government formed the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. The commission called on the cardinal to come to Australia and testify several times. However, Pell ended up giving video testimonies, citing his inability to travel for health reasons. Eventually, Victoria authorities came to Rome to question the cardinal regarding several allegations.

Further problems for Pell could arise from his past as archbishop of Melbourne. During that time, he set up the “Melbourne Response” in 1996, a program meant to handle complaints of sexual abuse against the clergy. It has been criticized after renewed scrutiny for being like many other initiatives where the Church was more interested in protecting the abuser than helping the victim.

8Catholic Church Sells Pornography

Over 35 years ago, the Vatican bought Weltbild, one of the largest booksellers in Germany. In 2011, the Catholic Church claimed that it was shocked to find out that Weltbild’s massive list of titles included thousands of erotic books.

Representatives from the Church and the bookseller said that these revelations sparked a “critical dialogue” and they will be looking into stopping the distribution of possibly pornographic material. They ascribed the mistake to “a filtering system failure.” Many of the books have titles such as Call Me Slut!, Sluts Boarding School, and Lawyer’s Whore and feature erotic dust jackets.

Other publishers claimed the Church knew about the books for years. Bernhard Muller, the editor of Catholic magazine PUR, alleged that several Catholic groups alerted the Vatican that they were publishing books with content deemed either pornographic or blasphemous.

But as long as the protests were small in scale, the charges were ignored. This would have been going on since 1998 when Weltbild, a smaller company at the time, merged with several other publishing houses which marketed erotic fiction.

7John Geoghan’s Conviction And Murder

Photo credit: CBS News

In 2003, The Boston Globe won a Pulitzer Prize for their investigation into child sex abuse in the Boston area by Roman Catholic priests. The Globeuncovered evidence not only of rampant sex crimes but also of cover-ups by the Church going back decades.

Priests who were accused of being child molesters were simply moved from one parish to another. Alternatively, they were placed on “leave” and sent into treatment before being allowed to resume their regular duties.

One of the main targets of the investigation was John Geoghan, a priest accused of abusing up to 130 boys over a 30-year period. In the end, Geoghan was only given a light sentence in 2002 for groping a 10-year-old boy. But Geoghan was murdered in prison a year later by another convict named Joseph Druce.

When asked why he did it, Druce said that Geoghan was arrogant and remorseless regarding his victims, claiming that he was worth “300 of them.” Druce also said that he overheard the former priest talking about moving to South America after serving his sentence to work with children again.

Druce was found guilty, although he was already serving life without parole. Criticism was directed toward prison officials for allowing the murder to happen. Experts questioned why Druce and Geoghan were placed in protective custody together in the first place since the former was in jail for killing an older gay man.

To add fuel to the fire, surveillance system footage was leaked to YouTubein 2007. It showed prison guards trying to enter the room while Druce was strangling Geoghan.

6The Gay Conclave And Benedict’s Resignation

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In 2013, Pope Benedict XVI shocked the world when he announced his intention to resign, becoming the first pope to do so in 600 years. Officially, Benedict cited health reasons as his motive for retirement. He claimed that he didn’t have the strength necessary to endure the physical and mental demands of the papacy.

Of course, this didn’t stop people from speculating that there could have been ulterior motives for his resignation or even external pressure for Benedict to step down. His announcement came while the Vatican was still hurting from the VatiLeaks scandal—hundreds of confidential papers leaked by the pope’s butler.

Italian newspaper La Repubblica followed up on the leak with a report claiming that there are several factions within the Vatican united by common interests, including a “gay conclave.” These officials allegedly supported each other to increase their status and, eventually, to influence Vatican operations. The report also claimed they had been the victims ofblackmail from people outside the church with whom they had ties of a “worldly nature.”

Pope Benedict XVI vehemently denied these allegations as well as insinuations that there was a hidden motive behind his resignation. However, when he published his memoirs titled The Last Conversations in 2016, the pope admitted to the existence of a “gay lobby” looking to influence Vatican decisions. Benedict also claimed that he had successfully disbanded the power group.

5Ratzinger’s Choir

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Back in 2010, allegations surfaced of child abuse in the Regensburger Domspatzen, one of the most famous Roman Catholic choir schools in Germany. At this point, this kind of accusation was no longer shocking or infrequent. However, for three decades, the Domspatzen was run by Georg Ratzinger, older brother of Pope Benedict XVI.

The original accusations came from a man who attended the boarding school in the early 1960s, before Ratzinger took charge. However, a later independent inquiry found that the school endorsed a systematic culture of abuse which occurred between 1945 and 2015.

In that time, the report claims that close to 550 pupils were physically or sexually abused at the hands of their teachers. Common punishments included beatings with sticks or violin bows, sometimes in front of the other boys for added humiliation.

Ratzinger admitted to slapping pupils in the face but denied knowing the true extent of the punishments endured by students. The investigation criticized the former conductor for turning a blind eye to the proceedings.

Ratzinger denied having knowledge of any kind of sexual abuse, a claim backed up by the report. In total, 49 individuals were found at fault, 45 of whom were responsible for physical violence while nine were suspected of sexual abuse.

4VatiLeaks 2.0

Photo credit: The Telegraph

Still reeling from the VatiLeaks scandal a few years ago, the Vatican had to contend with another set of confidential revelations last year. This time, they came courtesy of a woman named Francesca Chaouqui, a PR consultant named to a commission organized by the pope to look into financial reform.

In her book, Chaouqui revealed that she had a mole inside the Vatican’s Secretariat of State. The two would communicate through secret messages left inside a torn cushion in the confessional of the San Luigi dei Francesi Church.

She passed on that information to two Italian journalists who wrote exposes regarding mismanagement and extravagant spending by cardinals. They also asserted that Pope Francis is facing strong resistance within the Vatican to his plan for increased transparency and accountability regarding the Church’s finances.

The scandal had an intriguing twist during Chaouqui’s trial when she and one of her coconspirators, Monsignor Angel Lucio Vallejo Balda, turned against each other. Monsignor Balda claimed that Chaouqui seduced him and that they slept together. She not only denied the allegations but also said that Balda was gay and obtained Vatican accreditation for his lover to serve as his “butler.”

3Killing The Flock

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When the Vatican isn’t busy with complex conspiracies and cover-ups, it still has to deal with straightforward scandals such as one of its priests killing his parishioner. Father Gratien Alabi was recently sentenced to 27 years in prison for the murder of Guerrina Piscaglia, a 50-year-old devout attendee of Alabi’s church in the village of Ca Raffaello.

Piscaglia was last seen on May 1, 2014, when she left her house for a walk. Right off the bat, police looked into Alabi, initially suspecting him of aiding and abetting Piscaglia’s kidnapping or murder.

However, further inquiries made it clear to authorities that the Catholic priest was, in fact, responsible for the woman’s death. A large number of phone calls and text messages between the two led police to believe there was a relationship between the priest and his parishioner.A search of his computer revealed Alabi had photos of nuns in sexual poses, although he claimed they were all sent voluntarily.

2Charity Funds Used For Personal Renovations

Earlier this year, the Associated Press (AP) uncovered two private investigations conducted by the Vatican in 2014 and 2015, respectively. They focused on the Bambino Gesu Children’s Hospital in Rome, one of the Holy See’s extraterritorial properties.

The first investigation initially concluded that the hospital’s main priority became profits instead of proper health care. Among the allegations made public by AP were: overcrowding and poor hygiene leading to infectious outbreaks, improper usage and storage of disposable equipment, and bringing patients out of anesthesia too quickly to maximize operating room turnover.

At the beginning of July 2017, hospital officials called the AP report a hoax. A week later, former hospital president Giuseppe Profiti and ex-treasurer Massimo Spina were in Vatican court on embezzlement charges. However, they stood accused of using close to $500,000 in donations to the hospital’s foundation to renovate the private apartment of Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.

Bertone served as Cardinal Secretary of State between 2006 and 2013, making him the second-highest-ranking official in the Vatican during that time. His luxurious apartment is located in the San Carlo Palace inside Vatican City.

The cardinal denied any knowledge of or involvement in the matter. Meanwhile, Profiti claimed that the renovation was an investment as the apartment will be used for fundraising events. One Vatican insider claimed the tribunal was the work of Pope Francis looking to weed out corruption in the hospital.

1Vatican Buys Largest Gay Sauna In Europe

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The Catholic Church had an interesting topic to discuss during the Papal Conclave of 2013—their recent real estate deal. The Vatican spent approximately $30 million for a share in apartment blocks at 2 Via Carducci in Rome.

Several members of the Church have apartments there, including the head of the Congregation for Evangelisation of Peoples, Cardinal Ivan Dias, who lives in a lavish 12-room apartment. In fact, his residence is just a floor above the Vatican’s newest acquisition—the largest gay sauna in Europe.

The establishment is called Europa Multiclub and is considered one of the most famous gay hot spots in Italy. Taking advantage of its newfound fame, the sauna advertised “bear nights” using Bruno, a hairy, overweight “pastor of souls” who strips to “expose body and soul” before changing into a priest’s outfit.

The press later observed that the Vatican purchased the new property using tax breaks granted by the Berlusconi government. It is now recognized as an official part of the Holy See.