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Evan Kail collects historical memorabilia. He recently found a book he believed contained never-before-seen photos of the 1937 Nanjing Massacre. The first 20 pages appear to be from a U.S Navy service member sent to China around 1938. But after that he found black and white photos showing piles of bodies, beheadings, and other acts of torture. “Somehow that guy who took those photos was present for the Rape of Nanjing,” Kail said. But Jo Hedwig Teeuwisse, a research historian and creator of the Fake History Hunter account on Twitter said that while the photos may be authentic, she doesn’t believe they are from the Nanjing massacre.
Humpback whales pass their songs across oceans
One of the most remarkable things about our species is how fast human culture can change. It turns out that humpback whales have their own long-range, high-speed cultural evolution, and they don’t need the internet or satellites to keep it running. In a study published on Tuesday, scientists found that humpback songs easily spread from one population to another across the Pacific Ocean. It can take just a couple of years for a song to move several thousand miles. “Half the globe is now vocally connected for whales,” said marine biologist Ellen Garland. “And that’s insane.”
Made in Taiwan? How a Frenchman fooled 18th-century London
Benjamin Breen on the remarkable story of George Psalmanazar, the mysterious Frenchman who successfully posed as a native of Formosa (now modern Taiwan) and gave birth to a meticulously fabricated culture with bizarre customs, exotic fashions, and its own invented language. “It’s 1704. An aging Isaac Newton sits at the head of the table. The speaker declares that he is actually a native of one of the world’s most remote and mysterious nations. The man contends that he is a Formosan aristocrat, reared from infancy in the capitol city of Xternetsa and tutored in Greek by an evil Jesuit. He refuses to divulge his Formosan name, but he calls himself George Psalmanazar.”
A huge airburst destroyed Tall el-Hammam, a Bronze Age city
Researchers say in the paper linked below that archeological evidence shows that in ~1650 BCE, a cosmic airburst caused by an exploding meteor destroyed Tall el-Hammam, a Middle-Bronze-Age city in the southern Jordan Valley northeast of the Dead Sea. “The proposed airburst was larger than the 1908 explosion over Tunguska, Russia, where a ~50-m-wide bolide detonated with ~1000 more energy than the Hiroshima atomic bomb,” the researchers say. The evidence shows that the blast led to the entire area being abandoned for several hundred years.
A man who married a hologram can no longer communicate with his wife
Akihiko Kondo took his love for a fictional character one step further by holding a “getting married” ceremony with Hatsune Miku , a virtual singer who has starred in several video games and has even accompanied Lady Gaga on her world tours. The ceremony took place in 2019, after the man was able to communicate with the hologram via Gatebox , a company that develops devices to holographically show characters that do not exist. But now the Gatebox software is no longer available, so he can no longer communicate with her.
What it’s like to live without the temporal lobe of your brain
“Born without my left temporal lobe, a brain region thought to be critical for language, I’ve been a research subject for much of my life,” Helen Santoro writes. “I surprised the experts, meeting all of the typical milestones of children my age. I enrolled in regular schools, excelled in sports and academics. The language skills the doctors were most worried about at my birth — speaking, reading and writing — turned out to be my professional passions. Scientists estimate that thousands of people are, like me, living normal lives despite missing large chunks of our brains. Our myriad networks of neurons have managed to rewire themselves over time. But how?”