A Sonic Attack in Cuba? How an Acoustic Weapon Might Work

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A Sonic Attack in Cuba? How an Acoustic Weapon Might Work

A Sonic Attack in Cuba? How an Acoustic Weapon Might Work

Credit: Shutterstock

A supersecret sonic weapon being used to attack diplomats in a foreign country may sound like the start of a sci-fi novel, but that’s exactly what several U.S. diplomats in Cuba may have been exposed to, the U.S. State Department recently announced.

The physical symptoms, which the State Department would not confirm, but which some news reports have suggested included hearing loss, got so bad that some of these officials had to be recalled from their duties in Havana.

“Some U.S. government personnel who were working at our embassy in Havana, Cuba, on official duties — so they were there working on behalf of the U.S. embassy there — they’ve reported some incidents which have caused a variety of physical symptoms,” Heather Nauert, a spokeswoman for the State Department, said in a news briefing Aug. 9.

After an extensive investigation, U.S. officials determined that a secret sonic weapon was to blame. [Mind Controlled Cats?? 6 Incredible Spy Technologies]

But what exactly could that weapon be, and how could it cause hearing loss without any of the people involved noticing a painful audible sound?

While the mysterious story has a lot of holes, one possibility is that the workers were exposed to infrasound, or low-frequency sound waves that are below the audible hearing range, said Charles Liberman, a hearing loss researcher at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts Eye and Ear in Boston.

The strange symptoms emerged in the fall of 2016, when several employees at the U.S. embassy in Havana began complaining of physical symptoms. Many of the individuals were new to the embassy and some had to return to the United States because of the severity of their symptoms — the details of which have yet to be disclosed. An investigation by the U.S. government concluded that the symptoms could be attributed to a device that operated outside the audible hearing range and was used somewhere, possibly in their houses, Time magazine reported. Right now, there’s no word on whether these devices were deliberately used. [Flying Saucers to Mind Control: 22 Declassified Military & CIA Secrets]

In retaliation, the U.S. government expelled two Cuban diplomats on May 23, Nauert said.

Cuba denied any involvement in the bizarre scenario.

“Cuba has never permitted, nor will permit, that Cuban territory be used for any action against accredited diplomatic officials or their families, with no exception,” according to a statement from the Cuban government.

Another possibility is that some other hostile group (such as Russian agents) may have initiated the attack, Time reported.

There are so many details missing in this story that it’s hard to explain exactly what the device could be, Liberman said. However, sound-induced hearing loss requires that the mechanical part of the ear that senses audible sound be overloaded.

“You overstimulate the part of the ear that’s mechanically tuned to those frequencies and it falls apart,” Liberman.

If the people in the embassy didn’t hear anything, that suggests the weapon probably didn’t operate in the normal hearing range, or else it would have caused pain and been distracting, Liberman said. (Human audible hearing range is typically between 20 hertz, or cycles per second, and 20 kilohertz). If so, there’s little possibility for it to damage the mechanical parts of the ear that are tuned to those frequencies, he said.

However, it’s possible the devices somehow generate infrasound — the type of low-frequency sound given off by windmills or wind generators with the beating of the blades. Infrasound is below the human hearing range.

And yet, many people claim these machines are making them sick, and there are several lawsuits from people who live or work near wind farms, claiming they make them sick, according to Liberman.

“There is a growing controversy about people who live near these windmills who start feeling bad,” Liberman told Live Science. “They get headaches, they get dizzy, they get nausea.” [10 Odd Causes of Headaches]

For instance, a 2014 study in the journal Royal Society Open Science found that low-frequency sounds below the audible range could disrupt little whistles made by the ear, called spontaneous optoacoustic emissions, in response to noise. (How that mapped to symptoms, however, wasn’t clear.)

In this instance, one possibility is that the infrasound stimulated the part of the ear not dedicated to hearing — the vestibular system that controls balance, Liberman said. In that instance, the symptoms wouldn’t appear immediately.

“You could imagine them being very slow onset and very persistent,” Liberman said. “It might take days before you even notice any funny sensations.”

That may explain why the State Department refused to describe the symptoms experienced by their employees as including hearing loss, Liberman said.

The other type of sound humans can’t hear is ultrasound, which is above 20 khz. That’s a less likely possibility because high-frequency sound dissipates quickly with distance and in tissue such as the ear. However, high-intensity, focused ultrasound has been used for everything from breaking kidney stones to cauterizing tissues in the body.

But the fact that it doesn’t work well across long distances means it’s tough to imagine a device could get close enough to the people to work, without them suspecting, Liberman said.

What’s more, if a covert acoustic device using ultrasound produced enough energy to permeate and damage the ear from far away, it would probably heat the head up, too, Liberman said.

However, it’s theoretically possible that high-frequency ultrasound may have somehow damaged the blood vessels in the ear canal, thereby leading to damage, he said. That seems less likely, but “I’ve been in science long enough to not discount as impossible things that seem improbable,” Liberman said.

While the idea of a silent sonic weapon sounds like something out of James Bond, Inspector Gadget or the reject pile of DARPA, the idea of using sound as a weapon has a long history.

For instance, studies show that animals exposed to high-intensity, focused ultrasound can experience lung and brain damage. And a cruise line circling the pirate-infested waters off the Somali coast has taken to using a military-grade “sonic weapon” to deter would-be hijackers, the BBC reported. This long-range device, also known as a sound cannon, can cause permanent hearing loss at distances of up to 984 feet (300 meters), according to the BBC. Other companies have developed a magnetic acoustic device, commonly referred to as a sound laser, that deploys incredibly painful, focused beams of sound to deter people from an area,NPR reported. The Israeli army has also used a device known as “The Scream,” which damages the inner ear, causing nausea and dizziness,Wired reported.

Originally published on Live Science.

New Gene Therapy for Blindness: How Does It Work?

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New Gene Therapy for Blindness: How Does It Work?

New Gene Therapy for Blindness: How Does It Work?

Credit: vitstudio/Shutterstock

A new gene therapy may soon be approved to treat a rare genetic form of vision loss and blindness. But how does it work?

Tomorrow (Oct. 12), a panel of advisers for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will consider whether to approve the therapy, called Luxturna. It is made by the biotechnology company Spark Therapeutics.

Luxturna is intended to help people who have mutations in a gene called RPE65, which is responsible for making a protein found in the retina (the light-sensitive cells at the back of the eye) that is critical for normal vision. People inherit two copies of the RPE65 gene, but if both of the copies have mutations, those people experience progressive vision loss starting in infancy, according to Spark Therapeutics. At first, patients may lose their peripheral vision and develop “tunnel vision,” and they may also have trouble seeing in dim light. But eventually, they may lose their central vision as well and become totally blind, Spark Therapeutics said. [Unraveling the Human Genome: 6 Molecular Milestones]

RPE65-related eye diseases affect an estimated 1,000 to 3,000 people in the United States, the company said. Currently, there are no drugs to treat these diseases.

The gene therapy works by giving patients a working copy of the RPE65 gene. The researchers placed this gene inside a modified virus that is not harmful to people, and this “vector” delivers the gene to the retinal cells. Doctors administer the therapy during a procedure that involves injecting the modified virus into patient’s eyes.

In a recent study of Luxturna, conducted by Spark Therapeutics, the researchers gave the drug to 20 patients with a condition called Leber congenital amaurosis (LCA), an eye disease that results from RPE65 mutations. This group was compared to nine patients with LCA who did not receive Luxturna (called the “control group.”)

One year after the treatment, 18 of the 20 participants (90 percent) who received the therapy showed improvement in their ability to navigate a maze in low to moderate lighting conditions, Spark Therapeutics said. And 13 of the 20 participants were able to navigate the maze under the lowest light conditions, the researchers said. In contrast, none of the participants in the control group was able to navigate the maze under the lowest lighting conditions.

Because patients in the study were followed only for a year, it’s unclear how long the effects last. However, some patients in earlier studies of the drug have been followed for several years, and these patients have maintained their initial improvements, Spark Therapeutics said.

Although Luxturna was only tested in patients with LCA, it’s thought the drug may be helpful to patients with other diseases caused by RPE65 mutations, the researchers said.

If Luxturna gets the green light from the FDA, it would be the first time a gene therapy for an inherited disease has been approved in the United States, according to Reuters.

Original article on Live Science.

Was the Origin of Life a Fluke? Or Was It Physics?

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Was the Origin of Life a Fluke? Or Was It Physics?

 Was the Origin of Life a Fluke? Or Was It Physics?

Credit: Shutterstock

Understanding the origin of life is arguably one of the most compelling quests for humanity. This quest has inevitably moved beyond the puzzle of life on Earth to whether there’s life elsewhere in the universe. Is life on Earth a fluke? Or is life as natural as the universal laws of physics?

Jeremy England, a biophysicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is trying to answer these profound questions. In 2013, he formulated a hypothesis that physics may spontaneously trigger chemicals to organize themselves in ways that seed “life-like” qualities.

Now, new research by England and a colleague suggests that physics may naturally produce self-replicating chemical reactions, one of the first steps toward creating life from inanimate substances.

This might be interpreted as life originating directly from the fundamental laws of nature, thereby removing luck from the equation. But that would be jumping the gun.

Life had to have come from something; there wasn’t always biology. Biology is born from the raw and lifeless chemical components that somehow organized themselves into prebiotic compounds, created the building blocks of life, formed basic microbes and then eventually evolved into the spectacular array of creatures that exist on our planet today. [7 Theories on the Origin of Life]

“Abiogenesis” is when something nonbiological turns into something biological and England thinks thermodynamics might provide the framework that drives life-like behavior in otherwise lifeless chemicals. However, this research doesn’t bridge life-like qualities of a physical system with the biological processes themselves, England said.

“I would not say I have done anything to investigate the ‘origin of life’ per se,” England told Live Science. “I think what’s interesting to me is the proof of principle – what are the physical requirements for the emergence of life-like behaviors?”

When energy is applied to a system, the laws of physics dictate how that energy dissipates. If an external heat source is applied to that system, it will dissipate and reach thermal equilibrium with its surroundings, like a cooling cup of coffee left on a desk. Entropy, or the amount of disorder in the system, will increase as heat dissipates. But some physical systems may be  sufficiently out of equilibrium that they “self-organize” to make best use of an external energy source, triggering interesting self-sustaining chemical reactions that prevent the system from reaching thermodynamic equilibrium and thus maintaining an out-of-equilibrium state, England speculates. (It’s as if that cup of coffee spontaneously produces a chemical reaction that sustains a hotspot in the center of the fluid, preventing the coffee from cooling to an equilibrium state.) He calls this situation “dissipation-driven adaptation” and this mechanism is what drives life-like qualities in England’s otherwise lifeless physical system.

A key life-like behavior is self-replication, or (from a biological viewpoint) reproduction. This is the basis for all life: It starts simple, replicates, becomes more complex and replicates again. It just so happens that self-replication is also a very efficient way of dissipating heat and increasing entropy in that system.

In a study published July 18 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,  England and co-author Jordan Horowitz tested their hypothesis. They carried out computer simulations on a closed system (or a system that doesn’t exchange heat or matter with its surroundings) containing a “soup” of 25 chemicals. Although their setup is very simple, a similar type of soup may have pooled on the surface of a primordial and lifeless Earth. If, say, these chemicals are concentrated and heated by an external source – a hydrothermal vent, for example – the pool of chemicals would need to dissipate that heat in accordance with the second law of thermodynamics. Heat must dissipate and the entropy of the system will inevitably increase.

Under certain initial conditions, he found that these chemicals may optimize the energy applied to the system by self-organizing and undergoing intense reactions to self-replicate. The chemicals fine-tuned themselves naturally. These reactions generate heat that obeys the second law of thermodynamics; entropy will always increase in the system and the chemicals would self-organize and exhibit the life-like behavior of self-replication.

“Essentially, the system tries a bunch of things on a small scale, and once one of them starts experiencing positive feedback, it does not take that long for it to take over the character of organization in the system,” England told Live Science.

This is a very simple model of what goes on in biology: chemical energy is burned in cells that are – by their nature – out of equilibrium, driving the metabolic processes that maintain life. But, as England admits, there’s a big difference between finding life-like qualities in a virtual chemical soupand life itself.

Sara Imari Walker, a theoretical physicist and astrobiologist at Arizona State University who was not involved in the current research, agrees.

“There’s a two-way bridge that needs to be crossed to try to bridge biology and physics; one is to understand how you get life-like qualities from simple physical systems and the other is to understand how physics can give rise to life,” Imari Walker told Live Science. “You need to do both to really understand what properties are unique to life and what properties are characteristic of things that you consider to be almost alive […] like a prebiotic system.”

Before we can even begin to answer the big question of whether these simple physical systems may influence the emergence of life elsewhere in the universe, it would be better to understand where these systems exist on Earth first.

“If, when you say ‘life,’ you mean stuff that is as stunningly impressive as a bacterium or anything else with polymerases and DNA, my work doesn’t yet tell us anything about how easy or difficult it is to make something that complex, so I shouldn’t speculate about what we’d be likely to find elsewhere than Earth,”  England said. (Polymerases are proteins that assemble DNA and RNA.)

This research doesn’t specifically identify how biology emerges from nonbiological systems, only that in some complex chemical situations, surprising self-organization occurs. These simulations do not consider other life-like qualities – such as adaptation to environment or reaction to stimuli. Also, this thermodynamics test on a closed system does not consider the role of information reproduction in life’s origins, said Michael Lässig, a statistical physicist and quantitative biologist at the University of Cologne in Germany.

“[This] work is indeed a fascinating result on non-equilibrium chemical networks but it is still a long way from a physics explanation of the origins of life, which requires the reproduction of information,” Lässig, who was not involved in the research, told Live Science.

There’s a critical role for information in living systems, added Imari Walker. Just because there appears to be natural self-organization exhibited by a soup of chemicals, it doesn’t necessarily mean living organization.

“I think there’s a lot of intermediate stages that we have to get through to go from simple ordering to having a full-on information processing architecture like a living cell, which requires something like memory and hereditary,” said Imari Walker. “We can clearly get order in physics and non-equilibrium systems, but that doesn’t necessarily make it life.”

To say England’s work could be the “smoking gun” for the origin of life is premature, and there are many other hypotheses as to how life may have emerged from nothing, experts said. But it is a fascinating insight into how physical systems may self-organize in nature. Now that researchers have a general idea about how this thermodynamic system behaves, it would be a nice next step to identify sufficiently out-of-equilibrium physical systems that naturally occur on Earth, England said.

Originally published on Live Science.

Crushed Crystal Reveals a Spookier Entanglement State

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Crushed Crystal Reveals a Spookier Entanglement State

Crushed Crystal Reveals a Spookier Entanglement State

Credit: Natali art collections/Shutterstock

Like pairs of spinning dancers that suddenly form a quartet, the magnetic “spins” of electrons can become entangled in groups of four, new research reveals.

The new quantum state, called a plaquette singlet, solves a longstanding question about quantum mechanics, the mysterious laws that govern the behavior of tiny subatomic particles. The work may also open the way to new kinds of electronics that go beyond the binary logic of 0’s and 1’s in all modern computers.

In the new research, physicist Mohamed Zayed, a physicist at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland, and colleagues took a piece of strontium copper borate, a compound similar to high-temperature superconductors, and put it under high pressure while cooled to a few degrees above absolute zero. As they ratcheted up the pressure, they found that the electrons in the material entered a state no one had ever seen before, in which electrons’ magnetic spins were entangled with each other in groups of four. Such a state had been predicted, but never actually observed. [The 18 Biggest Unsolved Mysteries in Physics]

Such changes of state (called phase changes) are the basis of modern electronics, Zayed said. For example, semiconductors work because they morph from insulators to conductors at specific voltages, turning circuits “on” and “off.” This ability to switch from “on” to “off” creates the 0’s and 1’s that form the binary logic at the heart of computer calculations.

If harnessing one phase transition – that of an insulator changing to a conductor – leads to binary computer technology, “mastering some of all those other available phase transitions could lead to completely novel technologies hard even to imagine at this stage,” Zayed said in an email to Live Science.

Scientists already knew how strontium copper borate behaved at low pressures. The material forms a two-dimensional lattice, with all the electrons laid out like a set of square tiles. Each electron has a “spin” – one can imagine them as tiny magnets, with the spin described as “up” or “down.” (In fact, spin is just a mathematical way to describe the magnetic fields around the electron and is not really a rotating object).

Electron behavior is governed by quantum mechanics, so the spins can only have discrete values. Further, quantum mechanical particles can be entangled – some properties can be linked so that the particles behave as a single unit. In this case, pairs of electrons’ spins are entangled. [Infographic: How Quantum Entanglement Works]

When the pressure goes up, the arrangement of the electrons alters slightly, because the distance between electrons changes. The EPFL team subjected the strontium copper borate to pressures as high as 800,000 pounds per square inch (55,000 atmospheres). At approximately 21,500 atmospheres, something changed: the electrons’ spins were entangled in groups of four rather than two — a state called a plaquette singlet.

To “see” the new quantum state, the scientists fired neutrons at the experimental sample; neutrons have zero charge but they do have a magnetic field, and the behavior of the neutrons after they hit the strontium compound revealed the entanglement state of the electrons.

While that particular quantum state had been predicted before, nobody was sure it would actually happen, said study co-author Henrik Rønnow, a quantum physicist also at EPFL. One reason is the mathematics are difficult to do; it was one of several possibilities.

Theoreticians have calculated the behavior of particles in one-dimensional settings (imagine the electrons in a straight line) and a few two-dimensional ones. But multiparticle 2D systems become more complex.

“Two particles is easy to deal with,” Rønnow told Live Science. “But doing those same calculations for more than two particles is hard. “When you get to 20 or 30 particles even the best computers will run out of steam.”

A theory called the Shastry-Sutherland model predicts how a 2D lattice of electrons in the strontium compound should behave; it has what are called exact solutions as long as the pressure and temperature are relatively low (meaning less than tens of thousands of atmospheres of pressure and near-absolute zero). The math was less certain under different conditions, hence the experimental tests.

Now that they know what happens, Rønnow said, it’s possible to refine theories of how particles behave, especially in solid-state systems. “It opens a field for more study of comparing theory to experiment,” he said. “We had maybe ten different theories trying to predict what would happen here. Now theoreticians can go back and say what went wrong.”

The study appeared July 17 in the journal Nature Physics.

Originally published on Live Science.

Huge Jelly Blobs Spotted Off Norway Coast: What Are They?

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Huge Jelly Blobs Spotted Off Norway Coast: What Are They?

Huge Jelly Blobs Spotted Off Norway Coast: What Are They?

These giant, jelly-like spheres have been spotted in shallow waters off western Norway.

Credit: Ronni B Bekkemellem

Giant, jelly-like blobs have been sighted off the western coast of Norway, but the identities of these mysterious objects have scientists stumped.

The blobs are about 3.3 feet (1 meter) in diameter and are translucent, except for a strange dark streak running through their center, Science Nordic reported. No one knows what they are, or what made them.

“This is a mystery, actually,” said Michael Vecchione, an invertebrate zoologist at the Smithsonian Institution who has been corresponding with Norwegian researchers about the blobs. “It could be an egg mass, or something completely different, but we just don’t know at this point until we get some more detailed observations.” [13 Bizarre Things That Washed Up on Beaches]

Vecchione has helped identify weird ocean blobs before. In 2015, for example, divers discovered a glittering blob off the coast of Turkey in the Mediterranean Sea and uploaded a video online. That one, Vecchione said,was a squid egg mass, probably from a red flying squid (Ommastrephes bartramii).

The new Norwegian blobs could be squid egg masses, too, Vecchione told Live Science, but their appearance is different from any squid egg sac that has been identified before now. Vecchione said that the only similar one he has ever seen was from a photograph, many years ago, taken near Alaska.

“The reason it’s different is because of the dark streak that goes through the center of it,” Vecchione said. The dark streak could be squid ink, he said, and there are certainly many species of squid whose egg sacsscientists have never identified or seen. But no one will know for sure whether squid made the jelly balls until someone does a DNA test.

That’s one reason why the mystery blobs are in the news, in fact. Marine biologist Gro I. van der Meeren of the Institute of Marine Research in Bergen, Norway, and colleagues are trying to get divers to grab a chunk of one of the jelly balls to send to them for genetic testing. Once the researchers have a DNA sequence, they’ll be able to compare them to catalogues of known DNA “barcodes,” or short DNA segments that identify and differentiate species, Vecchione said.

But, getting a sample might not be easy. Gelatinous egg masses are very light, and they’re hard to get close to because the slightest ripple in the water pushes them away, Vecchione said. A diver trying to get a sample might have the best luck with a “slurper” tool that uses a vacuum to capture soft underwater objects. The researchers ask that the sample be frozen and that they be contacted to collect the sample.

The shallow areas where divers are sighting these egg masses are near a deep-water drop-off, Vecchione said, so it’s possible that the eggs belong to a deep-sea creature. Many deep-living squid, for example, release their egg masses to float on currents closer to the surface. If that’s what’s happening in this case, Vecchione said, a current may be coincidentally pushing a number of egg sacs in the same direction, which could explain the multiple sightings reported by divers this summer.

“It’s an interesting mystery,” Vecchione said.

Divers who sight one of these blobs or collect a sample should contact Halldis Ringvold at post@buzzingkid.no or Gro I. van der Meeren at grom@imr.no, according to Science Nordic.

Original article on Live Science

Satan’s Enigma: ‘Possessed’ Nun’s 17th-Century Letter Deciphered

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Satan’s Enigma: ‘Possessed’ Nun’s 17th-Century Letter Deciphered

Satan's Enigma: 'Possessed' Nun's 17th-Century Letter Deciphered

A letter supposedly written by a nun possessed by Satan has been deciphered.

Credit: Daniele Abate

A mysterious letter written more than 300 years ago by a Sicilian nun who claimed to be possessed by Satan has finally been deciphered. Scientists used a deep-web code breaker to read the letter.

The message — indeed devilish — describes God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit as “dead weights,” the researcher said.

It was penned by Sister Maria Crocifissa della Concezione, a 31-year-old nun living at the convent of Palma di Montechiaro in Sicily. On Aug. 11, 1676, she was found on the floor of her cell, her face covered in ink, holding a note written in an incomprehensible mix of symbols and letters, according to historical records. Sister Maria apparently said the letter was written by the devil in an attempt to get her to turn away from God and toward evil, historical accounts suggest. [In Photos: ‘Demon Burials’ Discovered in Poland Cemetery]

The message, just 14 lines of jumbled, archaic letters, has for centuries defied every attempt at understanding its meaning.

Now, scientists at the Ludum science museum in Sicily have used an intelligence-grade code-breaking software to solve the mystery. They also looked at historical records of the nun and her life, to learn more about the woman.

“When working on historical decryption, you cannot ignore the psychological profile of the writer. We needed to know as much as possible about this nun,” Ludum Director Daniele Abate told Live Science.

Sister Maria Crocifissa della Concezione, born Isabella Tomasi (she was an ancestor of Italian writer Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa), entered the Benedictine convent when she was only 15 years old, according to historical records.

“The letter appeared as if it was written in shorthand. We speculated that Sister Maria  created a new vocabulary using ancient alphabets that she may have known,” Abate said.

To find out for sure, the researches first tested the software they used with some standard shorthand symbols from different languages. They found that the nun’s letter contained a mix of words from ancient alphabets such as Greek, Latin, Runic and Arabic.

“We analyzed how the syllables and graphisms [or thoughts depicted as symbols] repeated in the letter in order to locate vowels, and we ended up with a refined decryption algorithm,” Abate said.

He said the team did not have great expectations for the outcome.

“We thought we could just come out with a few words making sense. But the nun had a good command of languages,” he said, adding “the message was more complete than expected.”

Rambling in nature and not entirely understandable, the letter, in addition to calling the Holy Trinity “dead weights,” goes on to say that “God thinks he can free mortals … The system works for no one … Perhaps now, Styx is certain.”

In Greek and Roman mythology, Styx is the river separating the netherworld from the world of the living.

Abete said the letter suggests that Sister Maria suffered fromschizophrenia or bipolar disorder. “The image of the devil is often present in these disorders. We learned from historical records that every night she screamed and fought against the devil,” Abate said.

For the church of that time, the letter was instead considered the outcome of her struggle against “innumerable evil spirits,” according to a written account about the occurrence by Abbess Maria Serafica.

According to Serafica’s account of the nun’s behavior written shortly after the incident, the devil would have forced Sister Maria (who was later blessed) to sign the letter. She heroically opposed the demand by writing, “Ohimé” (oh me), which is the only comprehensible word in the letter, Serafica wrote.

The research has not been published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal.

Original article on Live Science

This Week’s Strangest Science News

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This Week’s Strangest Science News

At Live Science, we delve into science news from around the world every day — and some of those stories can get a little weird. Here are some of the strangest science news articles from this week.

An X-ray of the man's abdomen. The large white mass is the metal bezoar.

An X-ray of the man’s abdomen. The large white mass is the metal bezoar.

Credit: The BMJ

A man in France who had psychosis swallowed more than 100 pieces of metal, and needed surgery on multiple occasions to remove these metal masses from his gut. [Read more about these “metal bezoars“]


Archaeologists in Boston are knee-deep in the remains of what may have been Paul Revere’s outhouse. They’re hoping to find some biological evidence of how Revere’s family ate, and other pieces of information from that time. [Read more about the Colonial outhouse]

Scientists in Ireland showed that an enzyme found in human tears, saliva and the egg whites can generate electricity. The enzyme, called lysozyme, generates a charge when pressure is applied to it. [Read more about the electric enzyme]


A village in Indonesia enjoyed a snake-meat feast this weekend after a resident wrestled and killed a 26-foot-long (7.8 meters) python. [Read more about the massive python]

<em>Paranthropus boisei</em>, whose skull cast is shown here, roamed across East Africa 1.4 million to 2..4 million years ago.

Paranthropus boisei, whose skull cast is shown here, roamed across East Africa 1.4 million to 2..4 million years ago.

Credit: Louise Walsh

The ancestors of modern humans may have gotten genital herpes from the now-extinct relative of humanity commonly known as “Nutcracker Man.” [Read more about how humans got this STD]


A Canadian model partially lost her vision after she got an eyeball tattoo, which involves injecting ink into the white part of the eye, called the sclera. [Read more about eyeball tattoos]

Want more weird science news and discoveries? Check out these and other “Strange News” stories on Live Science!

Original article on Live Science.

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