10 Of The Most Baffling Historical Finds Ever Discovered


10 Of The Most Baffling Historical Finds Ever Discovered


Behind every historical artifact at a museum, there’s a perfectly normal and rational explanation as to how and why it came to be. Yet, every so often, something is discovered that leaves scientists and historians utterly baffled, to the point of dedicating years of their lives trying to shed light on its origins.

Here are ten of the most bizarre historical finds ever reported. Some of the following artifacts and sites are very real and can be visited today, despite their enigmatic nature. Others were destroyed by nefarious forces or never existed at all, depending on who you ask.

10The London Hammer

In the middle of 1934, Max Hahn, a resident of London, Texas, discovered an odd-looking rock on a ledge beside a waterfall. The rock was apparently very happy to see him, judging by the piece of wood protruding from it. Max took it back to introduce it to his family, and being the curious kind of folk they were, they cracked the rock open with a hammer and a chisel. Much to their surprise, the rock was hiding part of an old hammer inside. They filed into one of the beveled sides of the hammerhead to ensure that it was made of metal. It was.

When the rock was cracked open, the metal hammerhead was exposed to the light of day for the first time since the rock formed around it. The problem is that the rock is purported to be up to 400 million years old. Humans aren’t supposed to have evolved until hundreds of millions years later. One explanation is that the mineral concretion around the hammeritself is not 400 million years old, regardless of the age of the area it was found. Others, however, tout the London Hammer as supporting evidence for creationism.[1]

9The Antikythera Mechanism

Photo credit: Marsyas

Three flat pieces of bronze were recovered from an ancient Greek shipwreckoff the coast of Antikythera between 1900 and 1901. Scholars had no idea what they were at the time, nor were they able to figure anything out about it for decades to come. Over time, the disks started to corrode into different shades of green, obscuring some of the crucial details of the discovery. For years, the three mysterious pieces of bronze were forgotten.

It wasn’t until Mike Edmunds from Cardiff University in Wales decided to publish CT scans of the disks in 2006 that real interest in the Antikythera mechanism started to pick up. Not only did it resemble technology that was shockingly modern for the time from which it originated (anywhere from 205 to 87 BC), but the CT scans revealed more details of the device’s inner workings and hidden inscriptions.

The Antikythera mechanism seemed to resemble a mantel clock, with bits of wood found on the fragments to suggest that it was kept in a wooden container. The case would have had to have featured a large, circular face with rotating hands. There also had to have been some kind of knob or handle on the side for winding the mechanism forward or backward. If you fiddled with the knob, gearwheels inside would have driven at least seven hands at various speeds, as opposed to the two or three in a typical clock.

What’s truly mind-blowing is that it wasn’t tracking hours or minutes; it kept track of celestial time. That’s right, every hand represented a piece of our solar system. There was a hand for the Sun, one for the Moon, and one for each of the five planets visible to the naked eye: Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. A black and silver ball rotating around along with the other hands represented the phase of the Moon. The hidden inscriptions turned out to be dates on which the stars would rise and set.

Everything seems to be crystal clear, although a few problems remain. Experts are still trying to decipher the inscriptions hidden inside the mechanism in an attempt to understand the missing pieces, which may either be destroyed or still at the bottom of the sea. Without the missing pieces, we may never discover the full extent of how sophisticated this mechanism truly was.[2]

8The Dropa Stones

Photo credit: Ancient Origins

The Dropa stones, if they were real, were reportedly found in the mountains of Baian Kara-Ula, right on the border between China and Tibet. They are said to have been discovered in 1938 by a Chinese professor, Chi Pu Tei, who found regularly aligned rows of graves. The skeletons inside were small in height (122 centimeters [4′] tall) and had large, overdeveloped skulls. Chi Pu Tei and his team found some interesting rock art inside a nearby cave system, which depicted figures with round helmets. There was also engravings of the Sun, Moon, Earth, and stars. Once they ventured further into the cave, the team found the collection of 716 stone discs. Most of them were half-buried in the ground.

The Dropa stones allegedly have hieroglyphic-like markings, date back around 12,000 years, and measure up to 30 centimeters (12 in) in diameter, each with a hole in the middle. In 1962, a researcher by the name of Tsum Um Nui from Beijing University reportedly claimed to have deciphered the hieroglyphic characters after four years of study. Yet, after he published his findings in a professional journal, he became a laughingstock. According to his work, one of the disks held this exact quote:

The Dropa came down from the clouds in their aircraft. Our men, women and children hid in the caves ten times before sunrise. When at last we understood the sign language of the Dropas, we realized that the newcomers had peaceful intentions.

Shortly after his name was dragged through the mud, he went into exile and later died.

In 1968, the Russians had a crack at investigating the Dropa stones. A Russian scientist, W. Saitsew, became fascinated with them. He decided to place one of the disks on an oscillograph, and much to his surprise, an oscillation rhythm could be heard. It was as if the stone was somehow electrically charged or had functioned as an electrical conductor.

A German scientist, Hartwig Hausdorf, and his colleague, Peter Krassa, visited China and the Banpo museum in Xian in 1974 to research the disks. Upon arrival, they were told that the director’s superiors had ordered them to destroy the disks and to officially not recognize the Dropa stones’ existence anymore.

Quite a few mysteries still remain. Why were the disks ordered to be destroyed? Why doesn’t the Chinese government have any records of a tribe called the Dropa? Was Tsum Um Nui right about his translations? Did the stones even exist at all?[3]

7The Saqqara Bird

Photo credit: Dawoud Khalil Messiha

Found in Saqqara, Egypt, in 1898, the Saqqara Bird is an artifact made of wood and estimated to be approximately 2,200 years old. Although its shape resembles a bird, it appears to display features of a modern airplane, with the head being the only exception. Reportedly inscribed on the artifact are hieroglyphs translating to “The Gift of Amon,” and three papyri found near the artifact are said to have mentioned the phrase “I want to fly.”

Dr. Khalil Messiha, the physician who discovered the artifact, speculated that the Egyptians made it as a model of an aircraft they either constructed or witnessed. According to him, the Saqqara Bird had aerodynamic qualities and was only missing a tail wing stabilizer. In theory, it would have been capable of flying if it had the tail wing stabilizer attached. He built a replica of the Saqqara Bird with said stabilizer, and much to his surprise, the model actually flew.

Some archaeologists believe that the artifact is nothing more than a depiction of an actual bird that coincidentally resembles a glider. The true purpose of the Saqqara Bird still remains unknown to this day. Was it simply a toy, or was it an interpretation of what the Egyptians witnessed while they were still alive?[4]

6The Baghdad Battery

Discovered in a village in Iraq, the Baghdad battery is an intriguing example of ancient technology. It’s comprised of three parts: a ceramic pot, a copper tube, and an iron rod. Some believe that it was used to electroplate gold onto silver objects, but this claim was never proven, nor is there any evidence to support this theory.

Ancient astronaut theorists think that similar devices were used as a light sources inside pyramids by ancient Egyptians, which is just another theory that can’t be proven. Reportedly, a researcher named Dr. Arne Eggerbech was the first person to look at the pot and wonder if it worked as a battery. Building a replica, he used grape juice as an acid and thin layers of silver, which supposedly resulted in the production of electricity.

If the Baghdad battery was what its name suggests, it would predate Alessandro Volta’s electrochemical cell by a millennium.[5] Some archaeologists, however, think it was simply a device to store scrolls. It’s a little hard to study it further, as it was reportedly stolen during the US occupation of Iraq in 2003.

5The Piri Reis Map

Photo credit: Piri Reis

Back in 1929, German theologian Gustav Deissmann was busy working at the Topkapi Palace Library in Istanbul. While he was filing away antique items, he came across a peculiar-looking gazelle-skin parchment on top of a stack of discarded items. Upon taking a closer look, he was surprised to see something made out of animal skin showing the outline of South America. He picked it out of the heap to study. It was drawn and signed in 1513 by a Turkish cartographer named Hagii Ahmed Muhiddin Piri, also known as Piri Reis. His sources for the map included eight Ptolemaic maps, four Portuguese maps, an Arabic map, and one drawn by Christopher Columbus.

Here’s where it gets weird: According to some, not only does this map show Antarctica almost 300 years before it was officially discovered, but it supposedly shows the continent as it would have appeared before it was covered with ice. The map is also claimed to have been drawn using the Mercator Projection, which wasn’t used by European cartographers until the late 16th century. There is still no explanation as to why Antarctica showed up to the party too early (if, indeed, that’s what the map shows), but the use of the Mercator Projection could be because of Piri’s sourcing of Greek maps in his creation of this one.[6]

4Nan Madol

In Micronesia, off the island of Pohnpei, lies Nan Madol, the only ancient cityever to have been built upon a coral reef. Built upon roughly 100 artificial islands, it’s truly an engineering marvel. Archaeologists just have to figure out the how, when, and why. There are no known records in existence to explain the ancient city’s existence. Although some evidence of human activity on the islands dates back to the first or second century BC, the city itself has been dated from the fifth to 11th century AD. It is generally believed that the islands were used as a ritual and ceremonial center for the ruling chiefs of the Saudeleur dynasty.

Most of the inhabitants of Pohnpei believe the legendary explanation for Nan Madol: It began with the arrival of twin sorcerers, Olisihpa and Olosohpa, who hailed from Western Katau. The brothers sought a place to build an altar for Nahnisohn Sahpw, the god of agriculture. After successfully building their altar, they used it to perform rituals to levitate the huge stones with the help of a flying dragon.[7]

3The Stone Walls Of Saksaywaman

On the northern outskirts of the city of Cusco in Peru lies the walled complex of Saksaywaman (spellings vary), believed to have been built by the Inca. The walls are made out of boulders, carefully cut to fit together tightly without the use of mortar. This level of precision fitting is unmatched in the Americas. This, not to mention the variance of shapes interlocking as well as the wall leaning forward somehow, has baffled scientists for decades.

One theory, suggested by Dr. Derek Cunningham, is that the orientations of the stones correspond to astronomical alignments. According to him, ancient civilizations developed writing from a very archaic geometrical form based on the study of the motion of the Moon and the Sun. Astronomical values, considered central to the prediction of eclipses, were converted into angular values. He sees the same values present in the construction of the Saksaywaman walls.[8] How did the Inca came to know about astronomical values, and how were they so accurate with the angles of their stone wall?

2The Dead Sea Scrolls

Photo credit: Matson Photo Service

The first set of the Dead Sea Scrolls were accidentally discovered in seven clay jars by teenage shepherds in late 1946 or early 1947. They were made out of leather and papyrus. The scrolls passed through various scholars, who estimated them to be more than 2,000 years old. After the initial discovery, treasure hunters scoured the nearby caves and managed to unearth more scroll fragments. They comprised over 800 manuscripts, to be precise.

Nobody knows who wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls. According to the most prominent theory, they were the work of a Jewish population that inhabited Qumran until Roman troops destroyed the settlement sometime around AD 70. Almost all of the Old Testament is represented in the Dead Sea Scrolls, except for the Book of Esther, which details the story of the Jewish queen of Persia. Some believe that those scrolls disintegrated over time or have yet to be discovered.

Another peculiar aspect of these mysterious scrolls is that they include a guide to hidden treasure. While the rest of the other texts were written in ink on parchment or animal skins, the Copper Scroll was chiselled onto metal sheets to better withstand the test of time. None of the treasures it describes have been found, much to the disappointment of eager treasure hunters. It’s possible that the Romans already got them years ago.[9]

1The Paracas Skulls

Photo credit: Silentlight87

At the Museo Regional de Ica, you’ll find some oddly shaped skulls on display. Throughout history, different cultures have changed the shape of their children’s skulls by tying two wooden boards to their heads and making them fit tighter day by day. One look at these skulls, and you’ll swear their mother rolled them down a mountain like pizza dough on a daily basis.

The Paracas skulls were discovered in the Paracas Peninsula on the southern coast of Peru. Peruvian archaeologist Julio Tello found them back in 1928, along with a complex and sophisticated graveyard. The skulls reportedly have some odd characteristics aside from their atypical shape. For one, the foramen magnum (the hole at the bottom the skull that the spinal cord passed through) should be closer to the jawline. Also, the Paracas skulls are said to be missing sagittal sutures, the fixed joint you typically see across the top of a human skull. In other words, these skulls don’t don’t look human. (You can probably guess what some claim they do look like.)

It has been repeatedly claimed that when DNA testing was carried out in 2014, it was found that the Paracas skulls have mitochondrial DNA with mutations unknown to any human, primate, or animal known so far.[10]Other sources have just as repeatedly debunked these claims, pointing out that any abnormalities in the DNA can be explained by any number of factors and don’t mean the skulls are alien-human hybrids.

10 Offbeat Stories You Might Have Missed This Week (7/8/18)


10 Offbeat Stories You Might Have Missed This Week (7/8/18)



Just in case you weren’t able to stay up-to-date with everything that’s happened recently, you’ve come to the right place. Click here to catch up on some recent and important goings-on in the world. In this list, we focus more on uncanny stories.

This was a big week for the natural world with several animal-related stories making the headlines. We have flying spiders, Alien wasps, costly storks, and margarita-loving bears. In otherworldly news, we look at an amazing baby picture and explore Uranus. On Earth, we set a new eating record and open the Dildo Brewery.

10What Crashed Into Uranus?

Photo credit: gizmodo.com

According to a new paper published in the Astrophysical Journal, a massive object smashed into Uranus billions of years ago and caused many of the peculiar characteristics that the ice giant still has today.

Uniquely among the planets in our solar system, Uranus spins on its side at a 98-degree angle relative to its orbital plane. Its axis of rotation is almost at right angles to those of all the other planets. Paper lead author Jacob Kegerreis, a researcher at Durham University, believes this is due to a “cataclysmic” collision about four billion years ago which permanently changed the evolution of the planet.

His team ran simulations to see what kind of collision could explain all of Uranus’s quirks. In addition to its odd rotation, the ice giant doesn’t seem to discharge more heat than it gets from the Sun and it has a warped magnetic field.

Researchers believe Uranus was hit by an impactor one to three times the mass of Earth.[1] It would have been a grazing blow that knocked Uranus on its side. The impact would have jettisoned enough debris into space to form the planet’s rings and moons and left enough material in Uranus to trap some of the heat inside.

9Dildo Brewery Opens For Business

Photo credit: globalnews.ca

A new brewery opened in Canada on July 1. On its own, this isn’t particularly notable, but the brewery was named after the town it is located in—Dildo.

Dildo is a small unincorporated community on the island of Newfoundland. As you would expect, its unusual name brought the town a fair amount of notoriety. Prior to its unveiling, people speculated on the lineup of silly beer names offered by the Dildo Brewery, but co-owner Angela Reid said they took the high road and kept it classy, mostly.

Undoubtedly, the biggest attention grabber is the “Stout Dildo.”[2] As its name suggests, it is an Irish stout. It is accompanied by “Blonde Root 80” (a reference to Route 80), an Irish Red brewed with beets called “Red Rocks Ale,” and “I’se Da Bye-PA” (an IPA with a pun name referencing local folk song “I’se The B’y”).

8Stork Leaves Charity With Large Bill

Photo credit: BBC

A Polish environmental charity was stuck with a phone bill of thousands of dollars after losing a GPS tracker placed on a stork. The tracker was subsequently found by a person who removed the SIM card, put it in his own phone, and made over 20 hours worth of phone calls.

Tagging animals is standard practice by environmentalists. It provides invaluable research about the migratory patterns and population numbers of various species. The EcoLogic Group in Poland did this to a white stork last year.

At first, everything went smoothly. The bird flew to North Africa, and the tracker stayed on for over 6,000 kilometers (3,700 mi) before losing contact somewhere in Sudan. Whether the tracker fell off or someone removed it from the bird is impossible to say.

Whoever took possession of the GPS device knew that it contained a SIM card which could be removed and used in cell phones. The person then proceeded to rack up a hefty bill worth $2,700.[3]

7Penis Study Ends Prematurely

In June, Professor Alicia Walker from Missouri State University garnered attention when she detailed plans for her study of a possible correlation between penis size and self-esteem. More notably, she announced that she would be seeking men to submit pictures of their genitals over the Internet. Now, the researcher has called off her project after an overwhelming public reaction which compromised the reliability of the study.

Walker wanted around 3,600 penis photos.[4] To take part, men had to fill out an online survey, measure their manhood, and send in the picture as proof. A chat with the professor was optional.

The response to Walker’s study was enthusiastic. She said she received hundreds of emails each day from men looking to participate. The sheer number of phone interviews made it harder and harder for Walker to obtain useful data from each one.

She also had to disregard numerous entries by men who either gave joke answers or submitted gag pictures of their penises. SpongeBob SquarePantscartoons were a popular choice. Furthermore, the search didn’t yield a diverse enough sample as most men willing to send in penis pics tended to be on the gifted side. Professor Walker might retry the study at a later date, but for now, it’s on ice.

6Wasting Away In Margaritaville

Photo credit: apnews.com

It was a hot Friday afternoon, and California resident Mark Hough wanted to take a relaxing dip in his hot tub and enjoy a refreshing margarita. Plans changed when he got an unexpected visit from a bear that made its way into his backyard, perhaps looking for a place to cool off. Left with little recourse, Hough went inside and proceeded to film the bear as it had a “grand old time” at Hough’s expense.[5]

First, the furry intruder splashed around in the Jacuzzi. He played with the thermometer and the chlorinator for a few minutes. When he’d had enough, the bear got out of the hot tub, knocked the margarita on the ground, and lapped up the cocktail.

He capped off the afternoon’s activities with a nap in an oak tree. Waking up refreshed, the bear climbed down the tree and ran down the street. That was the last that Hough saw of his ursine visitor.

5Xenomorph Wasp Lays Chestburster Larvae

Photo credit: Science Daily

The chestburster scenes from the Alien franchise remain some of the most iconic and shocking images in cinema. Fortunately, nothing like that exists in real life, right? That’s not true anymore, thanks to the discovery of a new species of parasitic wasp whose life cycle resembles that of the movie monster.

At less than 0.5 centimeters (0.2 in) in length, the wasp is unlikely to pose a serious threat to humans. However, if you happen to be a moth caterpillar, then this might be one of the scariest predators on the planet.

The wasp has a really long ovipositor that it uses to inject her eggs into the host. The larvae hatch inside the caterpillar and slowly begin to eat it from the inside out.[6] When they grow large enough, they burst out of their hosts and metamorphose into adult wasps, ready to continue the cycle.

The insect was named Dolichogenidea xenomorph in honor of the fictional species in the movie Alien. Found in Australia, it is one of three newly documented species by researchers at the University of Adelaide. The wasp is part of a group called parasitoids—parasites that kill their hosts during their life cycles.

4A New World Record

Photo credit: cbssports.com

Competitive eater Joey “Jaws” Chestnut set a new world record at the annual Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest by scarfing down 74 hot dogs and buns (HDB) in 10 minutes.[7]

Inaugurated in 1916, this event takes place in Brooklyn every Fourth of July and it is one of the most successful shows under the Major League Eating (MLE) umbrella. Joey Chestnut won his first Nathan’s eating contest in 2007. Ever since, he has won them all, except for 2015 when he lost to Matt “Megatoad” Stonie. Chestnut has also broken the world record on the last three occasions he competed by eating 70, 72, and 74 HDB, respectively.

The event was not without controversy. Judges initially only counted 64 HDB for Chestnut but later realized that they had missed a whole plate. Either way, he still would have won the contest as the second-place finisher managed a “feeble” 45 hot dogs. For his victory, Chestnut took home a $10,000 prize and the MLE signature mustard-yellow championship belt.

3Eating Nuts Leads To Healthy Sperm

A recent study by the Rovira i Virgili University in Spain indicates that adding nuts to your diet could be a good way of improving the health of your semen.

According to the World Health Organization, four of the criteria used to judge the wellness of sperm are count, vitality, movement, and morphology. All four can benefit to various extents from eating nuts.

The experiment saw 119 healthy men between 18 and 35 years old divided into two groups. One maintained their regular diets while the other added 60 grams (2 oz) of nuts per day. The nutty group saw an increase in all four parameters, ranging from 1 percent for morphology to 14 percent for sperm count.[8]

This study comes at a time when sperm count is in decline in the Western world. Researchers ascribe this problem to pollution, smoking, and poor diets. One in seven couples has trouble getting pregnant, with male infertility being the problem in 40–50 percent of these cases.

Other scientists advise caution before everyone starts munching on nuts. The men in the study were all healthy with no history of infertility problems. The research also didn’t take into account other positive changes they could have made to improve their sperm health. It is too early to consider the results to be applicable to the wider population.

2Spiders Fly Using Electricity

Photo credit: The Atlantic

Over 180 years ago, Charles Darwin went on his iconic voyage aboard the HMS Beagle. He encountered many natural wonders that shaped his views on evolution. But one issue remained a mystery to him—where were all the spiders coming from?

He noticed hundreds of spiders flying and landing on the Beagle in the ocean, even on calm days. Then they would suddenly take off again as if propelled by some invisible force. Biologists from the University of Bristol believe they have the answer—electricity.

The phenomenon is called “ballooning.” Spiders climb to a high point, raise their abdomens in the air, unleash a few strands of silk, and take off. This technique can take them up to 1,600 kilometers (1,000 mi) out to sea. The prevalent theory said that the arachnids used their silks like sails and were carried off by the wind. However, scientists now claim that spiders are drawn up by the electrostatic charge in the atmosphere.

The idea was actually first proposed during Darwin’s time but gained no traction. It was recently resurrected by physicist Peter Gorham. Bristol biologists took it further by proving that spiders can detect electric fields using sensory hairs on their feet. Not only that, but they tiptoe and raise their abdomens in the air, behavior only observed before ballooning.[9]

This research doesn’t discount the idea that wind could still play a role because the same sensors could be used to determine wind speed and direction. However, it does show that electrostatic forces are capable on their own of allowing spiders to fly.

1A Baby Picture That’s Out Of This World

Photo credit: astronomy.com

Our current theory of planetary formation just received some of its strongest evidence yet. For the first time ever, astronomers have taken a snapshot of a newborn planet being formed.

For years, the general consensus has been that planets are created from protoplanetary disks, which are disks of debris that orbit new stars. However, we had never directly observed the phenomenon until the evidence from a recent study was published by an international team (led by the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy) in Astronomy & Astrophysics.

The image was taken using the Spectro-Polarimetric High-contrast Exoplanet REsearch (SPHERE) instrument on the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile. SPHERE’s key feature is a coronagraph which allows the telescope to block out the dazzling light from a star and see the much dimmer objects surrounding it.

The young exoplanet is orbiting a 10-million-year-old dwarf star called PDS 70, which is roughly 370 light-years from Earth. We named the baby PDS 70b.

A separate study estimates that the newborn is a gas giant several times the mass and diameter of Jupiter with a cloudy atmosphere and temperatures of 1,093 degrees Celsius (2,000 °F).[10] It orbits its star at 20 astronomical units, which is roughly the same distance between our Sun and Uranus.

A Lass Called Jane :)

A Limerick by Jay

There once was a lass who liked swans.
She said, “See the lovely long johns!”
It was rather young,
But not very swung,
She just couldn’t say no to the bonnes.


Thanks to Datamuse, whose word engine was used to complete the poem.

The Jolly And Silly Octopus

A Poem by jay

Whose octopus is that? I think I know.
Its owner is quite angry though.
He was cross like a dark potato.
I watch him pace. I shout hello.

He gives his octopus a shake,
And screams I’ve made a bad mistake.
The only other sound’s the break,
Of distant waves and birds awake.

The octopus is jolly, silly and deep,
But he has promises to keep,
Tormented with nightmares he never sleeps.
Revenge is a promise a man should keep.

He rises from his water bed,
With thoughts of violence in his head,
A flash of rage and he sees red.
Without a pause I turned and fled.

With thanks to the poet, Robert Frost, for the underlying structure

Lying in her long veils i shall let the wind

Lying in her long veils i shall let the wind

In a dream I shall feel lovely outstretched feet black velvety jacket;
kissed the nymph of lascivious satyrs;
the ruffled water-lilies! he sings and the woods sing!

On the blue summer evenings who dreams with.
– like an organ of iron, and that he has seen.
Curves of her back hemmed in by chimaeras.
– dreamy eye towards where the stars are sleeping.

Lying in her long veils, i shall let the wind
into the deep ocean why the blue silence
pierced by an unlucky unfathomable space;

As I was floating down, whose sobs realize incredible floridas ,
clamouring birds seen archipelagos of entranced in pallid flotsam
backwards into sleep, i hung there

by Jay 

How to Grow old – Brainpickings.com newsletter

How to Grow Old: Bertrand Russell on What Makes a Fulfilling Life

“If you can fall in love again and again,” Henry Miller wrote as he contemplated the measure of a life well lived on the precipice of turning eighty, “if you can forgive as well as forget, if you can keep from growing sour, surly, bitter and cynical… you’ve got it half licked.”

Seven years earlier, the great British philosopher, mathematician, historian, and Nobel laureate Bertrand Russell (May 18, 1872–February 2, 1970) considered the same abiding question at the same life-stage in a wonderful short essay titled “How to Grow Old,” penned in his eighty-first year and later published in Portraits from Memory and Other Essays (public library).

Bertrand Russell

Russell places at the heart of a fulfilling life the dissolution of the personal ego into something larger. Drawing on the longstanding allure of rivers as existential metaphors, he writes:

Make your interests gradually wider and more impersonal, until bit by bit the walls of the ego recede, and your life becomes increasingly merged in the universal life. An individual human existence should be like a river — small at first, narrowly contained within its banks, and rushing passionately past rocks and over waterfalls. Gradually the river grows wider, the banks recede, the waters flow more quietly, and in the end, without any visible break, they become merged in the sea, and painlessly lose their individual being.

In a sentiment which philosopher and comedian Emily Levine would echo in her stirring reflection on facing her own death with equanimity, Russell builds on the legacy of Darwin and Freud, who jointly established death as an organizing principle of modern life, and concludes:

The man who, in old age, can see his life in this way, will not suffer from the fear of death, since the things he cares for will continue. And if, with the decay of vitality, weariness increases, the thought of rest will not be unwelcome. I should wish to die while still at work, knowing that others will carry on what I can no longer do and content in the thought that what was possible has been done.

Portraits from Memory and Other Essays is an uncommonly potent packet of wisdom in its totality. Complement this particular fragment with Nobel laureate André Gide on how happiness increases with age, Ursula K. Le Guin on aging and what beauty really means, and Grace Paley on the art of growing older — the loveliest thing I’ve ever read o the subject — then revisit Russell on critical thinkingpower-knowledge vs. love-knowledgewhat “the good life” really meanswhy “fruitful monotony” is essential for happiness, and his remarkable response to a fascist’s provocation.

Did you know…

… that today is The Goblet of Fire Day? In 2000, Scholastic released J.K Rowling’s fourth title in the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. It broke all publishing industry records by selling more than 3 million copies within 48 hours after its release! Read a classic today.


Today’s Inspirational Quote:

“It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.”

— J.K. Rowling

New Haiku Learnings

I generated some HAIKU poetry thru a Generator and polished them off to make them Readable, sensible.

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apologies to Shiki

For those to get
We Meaning a GoMeaning everything
On a losing in to.

apologies to Shiki

I investigation an to
and One my Hits have
have been put.

apologies to Kato Shuson

Road the begin
the, Road means in if
with no of to the.

apologies to Soseki

Interesting Random phrases of day! What’s in store? 😀👍❤️🙏


  1. Go For Broke

    Meaning: To risk it all, even if it means losing everything. To go all out.

  2. Right Out of the Gate

    Meaning: Right from the beginning; to do something from the start.

  3. Jaws of Death

    Meaning: Being in a dangerous or very deadly situation.

  4. When the Rubber Hits the Road

    Meaning: When something is about to begin, get serious, or put to the test.

  5. Curiosity Killed The Cat

    Meaning: Typically said to indicate that any further investigation into a situation may lead to harm.

  6. Two Down, One to GoMeaning: Two things have been completed, but there is one more that has yet to be finished.Go For Broke