Halloween Facts and Puns #32 – WIF Holidays

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Halloween Facts

– More than Candy and Goblins

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Halloween, or Hallowe’en (/ˌhæləˈwn, ˈn, ˌhɑːl/; a contraction of “All HallowsEvening“), also known as All halloweenAll Hallows’ Eve, or All Saints’ Eve, is a yearly celebration observed in a number of countries on 31 October, the eve of the Western Christian feast of All Hallows’ Day. It begins the three-day observance of Allhallowtide, the time in the liturgical year dedicated to remembering the dead, including saints (hallows),martyrs, and all the faithful departed believers.

According to many scholars, All Hallows’ Eve is a Christianized feast influenced by Celtic harvest festivals, with possible pagan roots, particularly the Gaelic festival Samhain. Other scholars maintain that it originated independently of Samhain and has solely Christian roots.

Typical contemporary festive Halloween activities include trick-or-treating (or the related “guising“), attending costume parties, decorating, carving pumpkins into jack-o’-lanterns, lighting bonfires, apple bobbing and divination games, playing pranks, visiting haunted attractions, telling scary stories and watching horror films. In many parts of the world, the Christian religious observances of All Hallows’ Eve, including attending church services and lighting candles on the graves of the dead, remain popular, although in other locations, these solemn customs are less pronounced in favor of a more commercial and secular celebration.Because many Western Christian denominations encourage, although most no longer require, abstinence from meat on All Hallows’ Eve, the tradition of eating certain vegetarian foods for this vigil day developed, including the consumption of apples, colcannon, cider, potato pancakes, and soul cakes.

Etymology

The word Halloween or Hallowe’en dates to about 1745 and is of Christian origin. The word “Halloween” means “hallowed evening” or “holy evening”. It comes from a Scottish term for All Hallows’ Eve (the evening before All Hallows’ Day). In Scots, the word “eve” is even, and this is contracted to e’en or een. Over time, (All) Hallow(s) E(v)en evolved into Halloween. Although the phrase “All Hallows'” is found in Old English (ealra hālgena mæssedæg, all saints mass-day), “All Hallows’ Eve” is itself not seen until 1556.


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My friend wants to dress like the Queen of Hearts for Halloween. I think I’ll follow suit.

The fastest, most efficient way to make Halloween costumes is mask production.Image result for halloween masks

 

Witches are good at spell-ing.

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Where do witches bake their cookies? In a coven.

 

A trickortreat route is a fright path.Image result for halloween candy

 

Those who eat candy with both hands are ambi-dextrose.

 

There was a fight in the candy store. Two suckers got licked.

 

A group of ballerinas were wearing their tutus. A couple of extra costumes arrived but they thought they might be tutu many.Image result for skeleton key

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The tale of the haunted refrigerator was chilling.

 

 

I used my skeleton key to get into the haunted house.

 

Two brothers collaborated on haunted stories, but one was a ghost writer.

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‘We’ve lost too much to the Indian princess at that card game,’ declared Capt. John Smith, ‘but don’t let poker haunt us.’

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Halloween Facts

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– And Puns

“The Big One” and the West Coast – WIF Speculation

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What Will Happen if

“The Big One”

Hits the West Coast

 When most people think of the “Big One,” they often think about an earthquake caused by the San Andreas Fault. However, there’s actually a more dangerous fault called theCascadia Subduction Zone. The Cascadia Subduction Zone, also known as the Cascadia Fault, is almost 700 miles long and stretches the west coast of North America from Vancouver Island to Northern California. For some perspective, an earthquake caused by the San Andreas Fault could reach 8.3 on the Richter scale, but a Cascadia earthquake will be more like a 9.2. That means that the quake could shake for up to four and a half minutes.

The odds of a mega earthquake happening in the next 50 years are about one-in-three. If it were to hit tomorrow, these are just 10 of the things that could happen.

10. Aftershocks

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Further complicating rescue missions and evacuations are aftershocks, which will continue for days afterwards. This will cause much more destruction and notably, it will be hard to pull survivors from unstable buildings because an aftershock could happen at any moment. This leads to more destruction, and more people buried under rubble.

 As a result, the death toll will again rise, either from people attempting rescues, or simply because people can’t get to them. Aftershocks are also known for causing landslides, especially in areas with lots of hills. Hills, you probably realize, are found all over the west coast.

9. It Will Cause a Devastating Tsunami For North America’s West Coast

The earthquake will, of course, cause a ton of damage. Then, people along the west coast of northern California, Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia will have about 10 to 15 minutes to get to higher ground because a tsunami will be heading their way. Depending on where the wave makes landfall, it could be 20 to over 100 feet tall, carrying debris like boats and cars. Inland, the giant wave will be travelling at 12.5 miles per hour. That may not seem very fast, but a grown man is knocked over by ankle-deep water traveling at half that speed. Unfortunately, many people are going to have a hard time getting to high enough ground because a lot of the roadways in the earthquake zone area will be destroyed.

The good news is that only about 71,000 people live year round along the west coast where the tsunami will hit. However, some areas of the coast are popular tourist attractions. So while many people don’t live there year round, thousands of people work in the area, and even more visit during the summer months. This will make evacuations much more difficult. For example, when people live in an area where there’s some type of an inherent danger, they’re generally more prepared. However, it’s very doubtful tourists will be prepared. They may not even know how to drive out of town without their GPS, and this will only add more chaos to the already nightmarish scenario.

8. Japan, Indonesia, The South Pacific, and Hawaii Won’t Be Safe Either

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 Not only will the rupture cause problems in North America, but a giant tsunami will also be headed in the direction of Hawaii, Indonesia, the South Pacific, and Japan. Luckily, these places will get a warning because it will take the wave about 10 hours to travel there. However, the wave will still be over 10 feet tall, and millions will be displaced.

It’s believed that these countries will be affected because they already experienced it just over 300 years ago. In 2005, researchers found evidence that seven 12-foot waves hit the village of Miho, Japan, in 1700. Those waves were caused by a Cascadia earthquake.

7. Seattle Will Collapse

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Seattle has a population of just over 686,000, and a lot of those people will be displaced if the Cascadia Fault ruptures.

When the earthquake starts, Seattle will be devastated by landslides; somewhere in the neighborhood of 30,000 of them. Another problem that Seattle will face is a phenomenon called soil liquefaction. The process happens when loosely packed and waterlogged sediments that are at, or near, the surface lose strength. It’s similar to standing in ankle deep water on a sandy beach. If you wiggle your toes while standing in the water in the sand, your foot will sink. Well, in Seattle, this will happen with soil that has buildings on top of it. That’s obviously not a good thing. In Seattle, about 15 percentof the structures are built on liquefiable soil. This includes 17 daycares and the homes of around 34,500 people.

 6. Oregon Would Be Destroyed

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One of the states that will be the hardest hit by a Cascadia earthquake is Oregon. The problem is that the Cascadia Fault wasn’t discovered until 1970. Oregon didn’t have any earthquake measures in place until 1974. As a result, the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries estimates that 75 percent of all the structures in Oregon would fail to withstand a Cascadia earthquake. This includes 3,000 schools, half the police departments, and two-thirds of the state’s hospitals.

Another problem with Oregon is that many of the cities are fairly isolated. There are also only a few roads in the entire state that lead east, away from the destruction. However,38 percent of the state’s bridges will be out of commission, along with the railroads, and airport runways. Another problem is that all liquid gas is shipped in, so fuel shortages are very likely. This will all leave people stranded, making it incredibly difficult for search and rescue workers to reach them.

This could be even worse during the summer months when 50,000 people visit the beaches on Oregon’s coast. If the earthquake were to happen on a beautiful summer day, when the beaches are packed, it would be utter havoc. Another problem, which faces every state and city on this list, is if the earthquake happened at night. Then, all of these problems would have to be dealt with in the dark.

5. Canada’s Worst Natural Disaster

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Canada will also be hit hard by a Cascadia earthquake. According to studies, it has the potential to be the worst natural disaster in Canadian history. Vancouver Island, which has a population of nearly 750,000, will have a lot of the problems that the other areas we’ve mentioned will face. Just like Seattle, buildings will collapse because of soil liquefaction. Like Oregon, the cities on the coast where the tsunami will hit are popular tourist areas. Also, one of Canada’s most beautiful cities, Victoria, which is the most populated city on the island with a population of 350,000, is in the extreme zone for the earthquake.

A problem with Vancouver Island is that it’s, well…an island. The airport is right in the extreme danger zone for the earthquake. And unfortunately, there’s no highway to thisdanger zone. (Sorry, we had to.) The most common way on or off the island are ferry systems, and those would have a two week disruption. This is going to make it incredibly difficult to get hundreds of thousands of people basic supplies like food, water, and medicine.

People in British Columbia are also unprepared. When last surveyed, about 70 percent of them didn’t have an emergency kit.

4. The San Andreas Fault May Rupture Around the Same Time

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If the earthquake and the tsunami from the Cascadia rupture weren’t bad enough, there appears to be a link between the Cascadia Fault and the San Andreas Fault. The San Andreas Fault runs 800 miles through California. You may remember that it was the star of its own summer blockbuster. Or maybe you don’t, because the movie was so forgettable.

Researchers believe that there is a connection. It turns out, 13 out of the last 15 earthquakes caused by the San Andreas Fault were preceded by a Cascadia earthquake. While a San Andreas earthquake often happens years later, it’s also possible that it could happen within hours. For this reason, even if it didn’t happen immediately, Los Angeles,the second most populous metropolitan area and the city with the second highest gross domestic product in the US, would need to be evacuated because it isn’t exactly the most earthquake ready city in the country.

Notably, all of the electricity, gas, and water lines cross the San Andreas Fault. If an earthquake reaching an 8 on the Richter scale happened, Los Angeles wouldn’t have any gas, water, or hydro for months. Many of the modern buildings would survive, but older ones would be condemned as structurally unusable. It would take years, and billions of dollars, to restore Los Angeles to resemble a shadow of its former self.

3. Disease Epidemic

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This type of disaster will be of unprecedented levels in North America. For example, 400,000 people were displaced by Katrina, but more than six times that amount will be displaced in the wake of a Cascadia earthquake and tsunami. The problem is, with this displacement and the inevitable disruption to essential services, there are often disease outbreaks and epidemics.

 This happens because it’s hard to get access to clean water, overcrowding in shelters, and limited access to healthcare and medication. If the Cascadia earthquake happens before proper safety precautions are taken, there will probably be outbreaks of diseaseslike Salmonella, dysentery, and typhoid fever in the disaster areas.

2. The West Coast of North America Would Burn

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When describing what the west coast would be like after a Cascadia earthquake, the director of FEMA in that area said that everything west of Interstate 5 will be “toast.” And yes, that is literally the term he used.

It may be toast because a major problem with earthquakes is that fires break out. In areas like Seattle and the state of Oregon, fire departments will also be in ruins. If they aren’t, many roads will be destroyed, making it difficult to travel to fires to put them out.If they get to the scene, if they have an earthquake resistant fire system, like Vancouver, and if it isn’t damaged, then they may be able to put out a few fires.

But it will still be very difficult to contain cities full of small fires. These small fires will turn into big fires, and the next thing you know whole blocks are gone. God forbid the fires spread to the forests and the brush that cover the west coast. Which, by the way, are already predisposed to forest fires. Things would be even more dire if an earthquake happens while forest fires were already raging, because resources would be depleted.

Things would only get worse if the San Andreas earthquake happened around the same time. In Los Angeles, hundreds of fires would start. But they wouldn’t have access to water to extinguish it, since the waterlines cross the San Andreas.

 1. Death and Destruction

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As you probably gathered, a Cascadia earthquake would be absolutely devastating to the west coast of North America. FEMA’s projections are rather alarming. In the United States alone, they estimate that 10,000 people will die, 30,000 will be injured, and 2.5 million people will be displaced. They’ll need water, food, medicine, healthcare, and shelter. Of course, if the San Andreas Fault was to rupture around the same time, thousands more will be injured and killed. Millions more will be displaced. Even if the San Andreas earthquake doesn’t happen, that area may have to be displaced until the cities are more earthquake proof. Following a Cascade earthquake, one is likely to happen soon thereafter. Hopefully, a San Andreas earthquake doesn’t happen until many years later.

As for damages, according to FEMA estimates, the earthquake and ensuing tsunami will cause $309 billion in damage. Every city within 100 miles of the coast will suffer blackouts. Inland, power will be restored within days. But it will take months to get hydro and natural gas back to areas near the coast. As for water systems, it’s estimated that it will take at least three weeks for restoration. It could take seven months, or even up to a year, to repair them. That’s a long time to live in an area without running water, gas, or electricity. Especially if you’re trying to rebuild a city.


“The Big One” and the West Coast

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– WIF Speculation

Turtle Shells, Knuckles, Aliens and Appendix – WIF Science

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Questions Science Took

Forever to Answer

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The scientific method is all about getting to the bottom of questions large and small. It will be an invaluable tool for as long as there are questions to be answered. That’ll be until such time as science gives us a quantum computer that can compute the Universe. And then, said computer will still be an end result of the scientific method.

That said, it can sometimes work very… very… slowly. From the mundane to the fantastic to the extraterrestrial, here are 10 questions scientists banged their heads against for a very long time until the answers came.

10. What Causes Volcanic Lightning

volcanic lightning

A long-observed quality of violent volcanic eruptions are the crackling electrical displays associated with their ash plumes. While awesome to look at (from a safe distance), the phenomenon has long puzzled scientists in that it is obviously a separate one from regular, earth-bound lightning, and had no apparent cause.

 The answer, according to University of Munich researchers, lies within the ash itself. Specifically, tiny particles of rising ash that are electrified by magma. Particularly in the violent lower regions of the ash plume, where the turbulence generates complex charge distributions, this eventually leads to an electrostatic discharge. One which often propagates upwards, instead of downwards like regular lightning, due to the rising ash.

The answer to this question isn’t just useful for satisfying curiosity. The study also unexpectedly showed a correlation between the frequency of the lightning and the total volume of ash that the eruption will generate. Observing the phenomenon could therefore lead to accurate predictions about the sizes of each ash cloud. That, in turn, could result in better evacuation planning and air quality alerts.

9. Why Turtles Have Shells

turtle

The question of what caused turtles to evolve their shells would seem to have a simple answer. Turtles are notoriously slow, making them easy pickings for predators. A hard protective shell is an obvious evolutionary advantage. But examination of the turtle’s evolutionary process shows this to be false. Turtles are slow because of their wide, flat ribs, a feature distinct from almost all other animals, and which is necessary to support their shells. That is, turtles are slow because they have shells. So why have them at all?

Well, for protection, yes. But not from predators; from the harsh South African desert environment in which turtles evolved. Specifically, the turtle’s shell began as a means of digging underground, creating caves to escape the heat and aridity.

 Though long suspected, final confirmation of this theory did not arrive until an 8-year old South African boy stumbled upon a well-preserved, only partially shelled “proto-turtle” fossil while working the family farm. Fortunately, the family took the specimen to a local museum and enabled researchers to put this burning, slowly ambulating question to rest.

8. Why Jet Lag is Directional

jet lag

Frequent fliers know that when traveling from West to East, the effects of jet lag are much more pronounced than when traveling from East to West. This was long suspected to be all in the head of the traveler, or perhaps due to public consensus that this is just how jet lag works. But it was recently found that the effect is real, and there is a reason for it. It has to do with your Circadian rhythm, and its role in how long it takes your brain to “sync up” after a time zone shift.

Simply put, the body’s natural clock is generally set to be slightly longer than 24 hours, and it varies for each individual.  This being the case, the body is naturally geared toward adjusting to longer days rather than shorter. Certain cells in the brain control this rhythm, but these cells are themselves controlled by variations in sunlight.

When days are lengthened and sunlight is prolonged, there is still a “signal” (sunlight) feeding information to these cells. But they become confused in the absence of sunlight, or when days are shortened. This throws off the body’s internal clock. Since traveling from West to East has the effect of shortening the day, our internal rhythm is thrown more severely out of whack in this scenario – our natural inclination toward longer days being a contributing factor.

7. Why Knuckles Pop

knuckles

You may have heard that the popping sound when cracking your knuckles is the result of bubbles in the joint fluid, which collapse when the joint is moved a certain way. You may have even taken this as fact for a very long while. But it turns out that this whole time, that was pure speculation. In an experiment that we honestly can’t believe it took somebody so long to perform, University of Alberta Canada researcher Greg Kawchuk got somebody who is really, really adept at cracking his knuckles, stuck his hand in an MRI machine, and got to the bottom of the whole thing.

Rather, the subject came to him. Jerome Fryer is a “champion knuckle cracker” who also happens to be a chiropractor. He came to Kawchuk with his theory: the sound results from the sudden formation of a cavity inside the joint fluid. Not its collapse, but the actual formation of the cavity: “It’s a little bit like forming a vacuum… as the joint surfaces suddenly separate, there is no more fluid available to fill the increasing joint volume, so a cavity is created, and that event is what’s associated with the sound.”

You may have also heard that cracking your knuckles causes arthritis, which is almost certainly untrue. However, this new study could disprove that notion once and for all. It could also lead to better early treatment and diagnosing of joint problems.

6. The Function of the Appendix

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For centuries, the appendix has been thought a vestigial organ. An evolutionary leftover, with no purpose other than occasionally to serve as a ticking time bomb which will kill us if not removed immediately. While it’s true that we can function perfectly normally without one, research has uncovered the hidden purpose of the appendix. It’s a sort of reserve barracks for the additional platoons of good bacteria needed to fight particularly nasty infections.

The discovery was made by examining the appendices of koala bears, which have comparatively long and large ones. They’re needed to aid in the processing of their diets, which consist of practically nothing but Eucalyptus leaves. It’s speculated that if koala’s diets were to change, over thousands of years, their appendices would shrink as ours have.

Duke University Medical Center professor Bill Parker, who participated in the research, stressed that this by no means implies that we should now try to hang on to our appendix at any cost. “It’s very important for people to understand that if their appendix gets inflamed, just because it has a function it does not mean they should try to keep it in,” he says.

5. Whether Memories Can Be Inherited

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Epigenetics is the study of how genes can be altered by environment, writing changes into our DNA which can then be passed on. For example, it has been shown that things like dietary habits or exposure to environmental toxins can result in having offspring which inherit certain food or chemical sensitivities. What was not known until recently was whether experiences can have the same effect. For instance, if a traumatic childhood on the part of a parent can result in changes to a child’s DNA.

A Tel Aviv University research team recently not only confirmed that this is the case, but revealed the exact mechanism that serves as an on/off switch for inherited environmental influences. It was previously known that small RNA molecules are somehow key in facilitating inherited DNA modifications. In measuring epigenetic responses in worms, researchers were able to isolate an enzyme that essentially tells the small RNA molecules to keep replicating. This determines over how many generations the epigenetic response persists.

It was further discovered that by manipulating this “switch” that epigenetic responses – like passing down a fear response learned by a prior generation – could be prolonged or terminated at the researchers’ will. The implication, of course, is that a similar switch in humans could be manipulated to proactively help those predisposed not only to physical conditions, but emotional and mental conditions as well.

4. Why Subatomic Particles Bind

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In particle physics, the quark is the tiniest, most elementary of all particles. If quarks are composed of anything smaller, we don’t know about it yet. They in turn make up protons and neutrons, which are bound together by… force. Up until recently, nobody was sure exactly what that force was. But we now have a pretty good idea. It’s yet another kind of particle.

 Scientifically known as meson f0(1710) but referred to as the gluon (yes, really), the particle acts as the glue which binds all other particles together. They are similar to photons (particles of light) in that they have no mass of their own. Yet, similar to how photons are responsible for electromagnetic force, gluons are responsible for strong nuclear force. The key difference: photons aren’t subject to their own force, while gluons are. Meaning that they’re able to bind together.

Existing for too short a period of time to be examined directly, gluons were discovered and can be examined by their detected rate of decay. More specifically, groups of bound gluons – called “glueballs”- are basically what’s holding the entire Universe together.

3. The Nature of Gravity

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Albert Einstein’s Theories of Special and General Relativity have held up better than perhaps any other incredibly significant scientific theories. Their applications have led to the development of semiconductors, to name just one thing. Without those, you wouldn’t be reading this. But even the soundest theories, backed by reams of research and decades of practical applications, can have their holes. For relativity, that hole was gravity.

 Einstein’s theories assumed that, like light, sound, and practically everything else, gravity is expressed as a wave or frequency. This was, in fact, the last major prediction of relativity to be fulfilled. This has generally been held to be true for decades, but wasn’t confirmed until recently, and in rather spectacular fashion.

Using extremely sensitive instruments, scientists recorded the distant sound of two black holes colliding. The faint, rising tone represented the energy of the collision – 50 times the power output of all stars in the Universe combined – conveyed by gravitational waves to the measuring device. This tone may soon become a hallowed recording in the annals of science, as it all but completes Einstein’s vision. Using this new discovery, astronomers will be able to construct instruments that can “hear” deeper into space than ever before. That black hole collision that was measured? It was two billion light years away.

2. Why There Are Men

men

Humans have evolved to become very efficient organisms. However, our method of reproduction does not seem to suit us in that regard, strictly speaking. While we may find it enjoyable, sexual reproduction pales in comparison to asexual reproduction, exhibited by many animal species, in terms of efficiency. If humans have followed their most advantageous evolutionary course, there should be only one human sex (female) which would reproduce all on its own. So, why are there men?

Researchers may have found the answer in a study involving flour beetles. The study had two parts. In one, 90 males and 10 females were put together and observed. In the other, just one male and one female were paired up. After 50 generations (!), it was found that sexual selection seemed to play a significant role in producing healthy offspring.

This is likely because having a choice of mate can act as a means to filter out harmful genetic mutations. That’s according to lead researcher Matt Gage of the University of East Anglia. This suggests that not only would asexual reproduction not have been more efficient for us, but that if we did not reproduce sexually we probably would have gone extinct.

 1. Whether There Have Ever Been Aliens

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Answering the question of whether we’re alone in the Universe is one of the holy grails of science. Almost as compelling is the question of whether extraterrestrial life hasever existed. We have no frame of reference as to how long a civilization might potentially last. Or, where on the cosmic timeline one might have existed. And we haven’t found any physical evidence. However, extremely strong circumstantial evidence has recently become available which all but answers the question definitively.

And, the answer is yes. In 1961, astronomer Frank Drake identified seven factors (expressed in the form of an equation) which identify the odds of contact with an alien civilization. They include the number of stars born each year, percentage of planets upon which life evolves, and so on, with the final factor being the average lifetime of a civilization. Most of these factors being unknown variables, there was no way to effectively use the equation to arrive at any kind of solution.

 However, in the intervening years, knowledge of the number of planets has increased exponentially. That’s allowed figures to be plugged into Drake’s equation and shed some light on the issue. In a recent paper, astronomers Adam Frank and Woodruff Sullivan ran the numbers to arrive at a startling conclusion: “unless the probability for evolving a civilization on a habitable-zone planet is less than one in ten billion trillion, then we are not the first.” Frank also stated, in a New York Times op-ed, “In previous discussions of the Drake equation, a probability for civilizations to form of one in 10 billion per planet was considered highly pessimistic. According to our finding, even if you grant that level of pessimism, a trillion civilizations still would have appeared over the course of cosmic history.”

Volcanic Lightning, Knuckles,

Aliens and Appendixes

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– WIF Science

Laborious Puns #22

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“No man needs sympathy because he has to work, because he has a burden to carry. Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.”

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1.

Labor Day is a good time to stop and reflect on the august events the the preceding month.

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2. Bringing a baby into the world is labor of love.

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3.

He labored so hard that he worked his fingers to the bonus.

4. In some places there is a lot of Manuel labor for every Juan.

5. In the NFL there is some  Manuel labor.

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6. They used to experiment on dogs called laboratory retrievers.

7. A woman union leader who was pregnant had labor pains and then a striking baby.

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8. At a company where they dig for gold a labor dispute is a miner problem where no one wants to get the shaft.

 

Laborious Puns

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#22

Real-Life Cops – Modern Day Action Heroes

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RealLifeActionHeroes

Real-Life Cops Turning

Into Action Heroes

When we see cops in the news, it’s usually in the context of something bad. The shooting of an unarmed witness. Alleged corruption. Even an attack on cops themselves. But there’s another, less reported side to our boys in blue. Plenty of cops are living their lives like 1980s action heroes.

We don’t just mean these guys are heroic. They are. What we mean is they are so heroic you can picture them being played by Bruce Willis, when Bruce Willis still had hair. Fed up with news stories portraying cops as bad guys? Check out the tales of these real-life action heroes.

10. David Muniz Talks Down a Guy Who Shot Him in the Chest

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Plenty of cops risk taking a bullet in their line of work. It takes a special kind of cop to take that bullet, then carry right on policing as if nothing had happened. Meet that cop: David Muniz was responding to a domestic violence call in 2015 when he encountered a very drunk, very angry guy wielding a pistol. The guy politely listened to Muniz’s call to lower his weapon, then raised that weapon and shot Muniz right in the chest.

 At this point, most similar stories would take on a somber air as we told you about Muniz’s tragic sacrifice. This isn’t most stories. Instead of dropping down dead or going into shock, the wounded Muniz calmly tried to talk the guy who’d just shot him into surrendering his weapon.

It’s the sort of scenario you’d dismiss in a Hollywood movie as ‘too unrealistic’. In considerable pain, Muniz gently tried to talk his would-be murderer into putting his gun down, even saying at one point “we don’t want to kill you.” Like all movie villains, the guy didn’t listen. He went for his gun again. Muniz got there first and blew him away.

9. Mario Gutierrez’s Fistfight on a Flaming Forecourt 

gutierrez

In 2013, would-be mass killer Dominique Jean went crazy and set fire to a gas station forecourt in Florida. His intention was to blow the whole thing up and take a whole load of people with him. Officer Mario Gutierrez just happened to be passing and in the mood to hand out an ass-kicking. He took one look at this madman walking through a sea of fire toward the highly explosive underground tanks and jumped right on in.

What followed was like the climax to a Lethal Weapon flick. Surrounded by fire, Gutierrez charged headlong into Jean, knocking him to the ground. Unfortunately for the officer, his enemy was armed to the teeth. Jean repeatedly stabbed Gutierrez with a gigantic knife, causing him devastating injuries. Yet Gutierrez kept right on fighting. Every time Jean tried to leave his bloodied corpse and make a bee-line for the gas tanks, Gutierrez got right back to his feet and tackled him down again. Eventually, surrounded by an inferno, the officer finally managed to deliver a knockout punch. The score that day: Gutierrez 1, Forces of Darkness 0.

8. Donald Thompson Jumps Into a Burning Car

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When most of us see a car explode into flames, our first instinct is to get as far away from it as humanly possible. Not Officer Donald Thompson. Thompson was out on patrol in LA one day when he saw a car career out of control and smash into a wall. It then reacted like a car in Grand Theft Auto, bursting into flames, its driver trapped inside. Thompson calmly approached the crumpled vehicle, wrenched open the door and climbed into the boiling inferno.

It was the sort of fire not even an action hero could escape from unscathed, and Thompson suffered horrifying first and second degree burns. Yet he kept right on with his single-minded rescue mission, cutting the driver from their seat and hauling them to safety. He did it just in time, too. No sooner was Thompson clear than the flames engulfed the entire car, turning it into a burning death-cage from which no one could ever have escaped. Like the total boss he was, Thompson shrugged off his death-defying insanity as all in a day’s work.

7. James Beaton Goes Man on Fire on a Kidnapper

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Inspector James Beaton is a British police officer with an impressive claim to fame. In the 1970s, he managed to single-handedly stop a crazed kidnapper from abducting a member of the Royal Family. Beaton was on bodyguard duty when Princess Anne’s car bumped into another vehicle. They pulled over and the driver of the other vehicle got out. Thinking he was just an irate motorist, Beaton stepped out to calm him down. The driver pulled a gun and shot him in the shoulder.

The driver was Ian Ball, an unemployed lone gunman with a history of mental problems. For all Beaton knew, though, this was an IRA kidnap attempt and he was about to wind up very dead. Judging by his following actions, it was a sacrifice he was willing to make.

Beaton’s own gun had jammed. When Ball went for the Princess, Beaton dived in front of her. Good thing he did, as Ball fired again, shattering Beaton’s hand with the bullet. Ball then fired again, this time hitting Beaton square in the chest. The Princess’s bodyguard collapsed to the ground. Ball had won.

Or not. Beaton’s heroic actions had bought just enough time for another policeman to arrive on the scene, along with a former boxer who just happened to be passing by. Although Ball gunned down the other policeman, he couldn’t stop the boxer’s fist. Ball went down like a sack of potatoes. Like all invincible action heroes, Beaton completely recovered from his injuries.

6. Don Hull Hulks Out

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On April 19, 1995, Timothy McVeigh exploded a gigantic fertilizer bomb underneath the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people, 19 of whom were children. That grim body count could have been even higher were it not for Don Hull.

A former DEA agent turned officer, Hull just happened to be a few blocks away when the gigantic explosion levelled the building. While most of us would probably have responded by screaming and running for cover, most of us aren’t Don Hull. Faced with the screams of children buried beneath the rubble, Hull’s latent hero genes kicked in, transforming him into the Incredible Hull-k.

Armed with nothing more than his bare hands, Hull raced to the ruined building and started digging through the rubble. He single-handedly shifted a whole foot of the stuff in seconds, pulling a badly-wounded baby from the wreckage. He then ran like a speed demon to the nearest emergency responders. His actions saved the young boy’s life. Fast forward to 2016, and little Joseph Webber (the little boy in his arms in the photo above) is now a fully grown college student and artist who owes everything to Don Hull, supercop.

5. Liang Xiao’s Suicidal Suicide-Stopping Dive

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Chinese cops are just like their counterparts everywhere else. They get little thanks, low pay, and have to deal with all sorts of difficult situations. Oh, and they also have a tendency towards crazy levels of heroism, as Liang Xiao’s encounter with a suicidal man shows.

Xiao and his partner had been called out to deal with a suicidal man in Nankang Town, Beihai City. The man was standing on the fourth floor of an unfinished building and threatening to end it all. Pretty much the moment Xiao got there, he jumped. Xiao’s borderline-insane instinctive response? He leaped into the guy’s path, using his own body as a freakin’ human cushion.

In most worlds, this story would end with the phrase “and both were tragically killed.” Since this is a story of amazing hero cops, though, you can probably guess what happened next. The guy somehow survived his suicidal fall. Not only that, but Xiao survived, too. Although the guy crashed down on Xiao’s head, somehow the impact was softened enough to save both their lives. The guy escaped with minor bruises. Xiao’s only injuries came from his testicles immediately swelling up to a gargantuan size befitting such a total badass.

4. Marian Godina is a One Man Anti-Corruption Unit

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In Romania, cops and corruption sadly go together like Kardashians and trashy headlines, or July 4th and drunkenness. Even when the ordinary guys on the beat are honest, the system is so endemically corrupt that their superiors will let well-connected criminals get away with anything. Except, these days, for traffic crimes. The reason? An on-the-beat traffic cop named Marian Godina has single-handedly given corruption a public kicking.

Godina is just an ordinary cop, with one difference. He hates corruption. Like, hates it. If corruption were an evil Empire laying waste to Romania, then Godina would be the Rebel Alliance – repeatedly shooting torpedoes down its exhaust vent. After his superiors let one too many bad guys go, Godina came up with a plan. He took to Facebook and began publically naming and shaming all of those involved. In Romania, such honesty should have got him fired from his job. Instead, it made him a national hero.

Godina’s crusade became so popular that when his superiors tried to take his page down, ordinary Romanians took to the streets and threatened to riot. Faced with a popular revolt, the establishment backed off, leaving Godina to mercilessly crack down on corruption in his department like a non-violent, Romanian Batman. At time of writing, he’s even inspired imitators in other departments. If that’s not an inspiring Lifetime movie in the making, we don’t know what is.

3. Colonel Hugo Martinez is the Colombian Elliot Ness

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Elliot Ness is lauded in the USA for taking on crime kingpin Al Capone. If Ness had seen half the stuff Colonel Hugo Martinez did, he’d have probably chucked in the towel. Martinez is the guy the Colombian government charged with taking down Pablo Escobar.

 It was 1990, and Escobar was probably the richest, baddest guy on Earth. His Medellin Cartel was pumping so much cocaine into the USA that Escobar needed a vast complex of warehouses just to store all his paper dollars. His cronies were setting off bombs in Bogota, had brought down an entire airliner – killing 110 people – just to assassinate one man, and spread so much corruption through Colombia that the country was on the verge of becoming a failed state. Any police officers who stood up to Escobar were usually killed and their entire families murdered. Colonel Martinez in the special operations branch knew all this. And still he decided to take on Escobar.

What followed would make The Untouchables look like Sesame Street. Martinez’s family apartment was bombed. His own cadets were bribed to assassinate him. His food was poisoned. Escobar personally threatened to kill his whole family, then dig up the graves of his ancestors and shoot their bodies before reburying them. Yet Martinez would finally get the last laugh. It was he who led the team that shot Escobar dead on a Medellin rooftop on Dec 2, 1993. Against all the odds, Martinez had gone toe to toe with incomprehensible evil and survived.

2. Kevin Philippy Knows With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility

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When hard-left French rioters surrounded the cop car, set fire to it and readied their weapons, they probably assumed the officers inside would die. They’d even prepared a sign offering ‘roast chicken’ (‘chicken’ being French slang for cops). They hadn’t counted on Kevin Philippy. Known to his colleagues as the ‘Kung Fu Cop’ (which sounds like a great, or terrible, movie), Philippy calmly stepped out his flaming car and proceeded to show those demonstrators how a real man rolls.

One of the activists grabbed an iron bar and came running at Philippy, swinging for his head. Using his ninja-level jujitsu, Philippy dodged the blows without breaking a sweat. With unhurried movements, he stepped around or deflected each blow, leaving his attacker wheezing for air and looking like the biggest dumbass in town.

At this point, you’re probably expecting to hear that Philippy then unloaded on those morons. While it would serve them right, the real story is way classier. Philippy turned to the other demonstrators and casually unhooked his gun. A moment of extreme tension followed. Then Philippy slowly smiled, gestured his partner and sauntered off, leaving the rioters confused and looking stupid. The message was clear: you idiots aren’t worth my time. For his absolute dedication to laconic badassery, Philippy became a French hero.

 1. Wasil Ahmad Becomes a Badass Cop (Aged 10)

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Although he was only 10 at the time, Wasil Ahmad had more cojones than many cops twice or three times his age. Conscripted in his remote Afghan town of Uruzgan when the country started sliding to hell, Ahmad did something so brave we can’t believe we’re even writing about it. Wasil Ahmad was the 10-year old cop who took on the Taliban.

The context was a terrifying 43-day siege. The Taliban had surrounded one of the last government buildings left in the province, trapping many people inside. Ahmad was among them. But rather than doing what most 10-year olds would do, he decided to take the fight to the extremists. Tooling up with heavy weaponry, Ahmad proceeded to fight alongside his police colleagues, using mortars, machine guns and grenades to wreak vengeance on the scumbags who’d ruined his country.

 Incredibly, it worked. Thanks to the efforts of Ahmad and his Afghan police buddies, the Taliban were driven out of their province. Almost. Unfortunately, this story has a tragic end. In early 2016, two Taliban stooges ambushed Ahmad while he was walking to school. Like the evil monsters they are, the gunmen shot the 10-year old dead. Sometimes, sadly, in a place as brutal as Afghanistan, even the biggest heroes don’t get a Hollywood ending.

Real-Life Cops

Everyday Heroes

– Modern Day Action Heroes

Film Characters Based on Real People – WIF @ the Movies

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Movie Characters

Based on Real People

As Mark Twain famously put it, “Truth is stranger than fiction.” And so it is with movies. As authors and screenwriters use their imaginations to come up with some truly amazing stories, they do draw inspiration from the real world on occasion. Events, places, and even characters are influenced by what really is out there. Believe it or not, many of our beloved protagonists, or villains for that matter, are rooted in real life.

Be warned: there might be some small spoilers, but we’ll try to minimize them.

10. Ahmad ibn Fadlan – The 13th Warrior

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In 1999, Antonio Banderas starred in a movie called The 13th Warrior, playing an Arab ambassador. The film was based on a Michael Crichton novel called Eaters of the Dead. While stopping for supplies in a Viking village, he finds himself drawn into a quest with 12 Norsemen. The 13 men must face an overwhelming force, threatening a distant Viking king. Throughout his quest, Fadlan learns to speak the language, experiences Norse customs, and fights alongside them against that threat.

The film was a fantastical adventure, but surprisingly an Arab traveler by the same name did exist during the 10th century. As a member of an embassy of the Abbasid Caliphate, Fadlan is most famous for his first-hand accounts and detailed descriptions of the Rus Vikings, Pechenegs, Khazars, and other Turkic peoples living throughout Eastern Europe and Central Eurasia. His descriptions are the most detailed of that age. They present us with the most knowledge we have about the Vikings to date. His accounts also present the famous ship burial of a local chieftain, accompanied by the sacrificial death of a maiden.

Unlike Europeans at that time, Muslim chroniclers bore no grudge against the Vikings and thus their reports are considered by modern scholars to be far more trustworthy and reliable. And since the Norsemen had only a runic alphabet, unsuited for recordkeeping, the historic events as described by Fadlan are the best we have about the Vikings.

9. Ursula – The Little Mermaid

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Even if you’ve never seen the 1989 Disney film The Little Mermaid, you’ve probably seen the evil sea witch Ursula somewhere on the internet. But what most people don’t know is that she was actually inspired by Harris Glenn Milstead, a real person who gained fame in the 1970s and ’80s. Harris was better known by his stage name, Divine. He performed as an actor on both stage and screen. His most notable characteristic, however, was the fact that he was a drag queen. Divine was closely associated with independent filmmaker John Waters, who called Harris, the most beautiful woman in the world, almost.”

Ursula’s general appearance and demeanor were inspired by Divine. Similar to her human counterpart, Ursula received positive reviews from film critics. She was dubbed “Disney’s strongest villain in decades.” However, Divine didn’t live long enough to see the cartoon version of himself, dying one year earlier at the age of 42 of an enlarged heart.

 8. Johnny Fontane – The Godfather

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Johnny Fontane is a fictional character in Mario Puzo’s novel, The Godfather, and subsequent movie adaptations. Godson to Don Vito Corleone, Fontane is a famous singer and film star who needs the help of the family in order to launch his career. The line about the “offer he can’t refuse” was used in reference to Vito getting Fontane out of an ironclad contract. And on another occasion, in an act of intimidation, a film producer wakes up with a severed horse head in his bed. This was Don Corleone’s way of ensuring Fontane would be cast in a film that could revitalize his career. Each scene has become the stuff of cinematic legend.

In real life, however, the role of Johnny Fontane was “played” by none other than Frank Sinatra. Though never confirmed, Sinatra is believed to have been closely linked with the Mafia underworld. And while his career was plummeting during the early 1950s, many believe that some of these connections helped him get a role inFrom Here to Eternity. That film earned him an Oscar and saved his career. Puzo never did make the claim that Fontane was based on Sinatra, but he also never denied it either.

7. Zorro

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Featured in numerous books, films, and various TV series, Zorro is a fictional character created in 1919 by Johnston McCulley. Like Robin Hood of old, Zorro (“fox” in Spanish) was a vigilante who helped the commoners against tyrannical officials and all sorts of other villains. He’s always dressed in black, wears a mask over his face, and always leaves behind his calling card, the letter “Z.” He leaves that iconic mark with a few quick slashes of his rapier. The action takes place in California in the 19th century, during the era of Mexican rule. And surprisingly enough, the legendary bandito is based on a real Californian legend.

 McCulley is believed to have received inspiration for his fictional character, Don Diego de la Vega, a.k.a. Zorro, from a book called The Life and Adventures of Joaquín Murrieta. Joaquin Murrieta was in fact a real person who lived during the Californian Gold Rush. He turned from an honest miner into a unlawful bandit. Even to this day controversy surrounds Murrieta. Some call him a renegade; others, a national hero. So many stories have been told about him that it’s almost impossible to distinguish fact from fiction. What is certainly true about Murrieta, however, is that the English drove him from a rich mining claim. They also raped his wife, lynched his brother, and had Murrieta horse-whipped. All of these unfortunate events made him follow a life of crime, with the rest becoming legend.

In the 1998 film adaptation, The Mask of Zorro, Anthony Hopkins plays the role of Don Diego de la Vega. Victor Rivers plays Joaquin Murrieta, and Antonio Banderas plays Joaquin’s brother, Alejandro, who takes on the mantle of Zorro.

6. Ignacio/Nacho – Nacho Libre

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A devout priest turned luchador? That’s a comedy perfectly suited for Jack Black. But nobody in his right mind would believe it to be based on actual events. Somewhat similar to the plot of the movie, Sergio Gutierrez Benitez was a Catholic priest in charge of an orphanage in a rundown neighborhood in Veracruz, Mexico. Born in 1945, as the 16th of 17 children, Benitez was a troubled kid using drugs from a young age. He decided to become a minister, however, after he was kicked out of a church by a priest. Basically, he thought the world needed more “cool” priests.

In 1973 he founded the “La Casa Hogar de los Cachorros de Fray Tormenta”orphanage, home to 270 children. In need of money to take care of them, Father Benitez took up wrestling as Fray Tormenta. He designed a red and yellow lucha libre mask kept his true identity hidden. The padre believed that “No one would have taken me seriously as a wrestler had they known I was a priest.”

To prepare for the ring, he woke up at 4:30 a.m. every morning for a year, went to a gym in Mexico City to learn the art of lucha libre, and returned back to the orphanage by 8:00 a.m., in time for mass. The bishop overseeing his parish demanded that Father Benitez stop his wrestling career. Instead, Fray Tormenta told him that he would gladly stop only if the bishop himself would donate the equivalent of what he was earning in the ring. Naturally, that didn’t happen. Father Benitez officially retired in 2011, after 23 years of wearing the mask for his children.

5. Lucy Whitmore – 50 First Dates

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Back in 1985, an English woman by the name of Michelle Philpots suffered a motorcycle accident. The same year, she met future husband, Ian. Five years later, she was involved in another serious car accident. Together with the previous one, she was afflicted with a rare form of anterograde amnesia. In 1994, Michelle was diagnosed with epilepsy as a result of her head injuries. Ever since, she’s struggled to form new memories.

Every morning for the past 22 years, her husband, who she only remembers as her boyfriend, presents her with their wedding album and answers whatever questions Michelle might have. She leaves herself Post-It notes on the refrigerator, and all sorts of other helpful tips she might need throughout the day. She even uses a GPS to navigate her hometown of Spalding, in southeastern England.

Though she can’t form new memories, she can carry out everyday things like driving a car or having a conversation. That’s actually unusual for someone in her condition. She can also remember some bits and pieces after 1994, too, but mostly as feelings or sensations. Sometimes, she can remember special occasions. You may have noticed her story is strikingly similar to that of Lucy Whitmore, the character played by Drew Barrymore in 50 First Dates. While it’s hard to say if the film is based on Philpots’s story, it’s hard to ignore how eerily similar the plot is to her real life.

4. Frank Costello – The Departed

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In the 2006 blockbuster The Departed, Jack Nicholson plays the role of a ruthless Irish mob boss, Frank Costello. Costello controls the Boston underworld. This character is based on James “Whitey” Bulger, a notorious gangster. In 1999, Bulger was named by the FBI as their second most wanted man, behind only Osama bin Laden. The movie’s plot (spoilers!) revolves around Costello planting a mole within the state police. Meanwhile, the police assign an undercover agent to infiltrate Costello’s “Winter Hill Gang.” The relationship between Costello and his mole is loosely based on Bulger and John Connolly, a corrupt FBI agent who grew up with Bulger. Connolly helped Whitey rise to power in Boston for over 20 years.

Connolly would feed Bulger information about what was going on in the criminal rackets, giving Whitey an edge on anyone else. In 1995, Connolly tipped him off about his imminent arrest, and Bulger was able to escape the authorities. A $1 million reward was issued for providing any information leading directly to his arrest. In 2011, he was finally captured and brought to trial. The 81-year-old gangster was sentenced two two life sentences, plus five years in prison. The charges included federal racketeering, extortion, conspiracy, and 11 murders. In 2015, Bulger’s story was told in a more “official” capacity with the film Black Mass,starring Johnny Depp as Bulger and Joel Edgerton as Connolly.

3. Steve Zissou – The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

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 In 1930, Jacques Cousteau was accepted into France’s Naval Academy and trained as an aviator. However, a near-fatal car accident at age 26 ensured he would never be able to fly. As a Navy man, he swam rigorously to strengthen his weakened arms. One day a fellow officer gave him a pair of goggles to keep the saltwater away. The goggles opened his eyes to the beauty of the undersea world, where he spent the rest of his life.

In 1950 he leased an old minesweeper from a British philanthropist for a symbolic one franc per year. He named it Calypso and transformed it into a mobile laboratory. With it, Cousteau explored the world’s waters from the Mediterranean, to the Amazon, to the Antarctic Ice Shelf. He developed the Aqua-Lung to help divers stay submerged for long periods of time. Cousteau wrote countless books and produced dozens of documentaries. He even had his own weekly TV series, “The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau.”

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou is a 2004 American comedy-drama, which focuses on oceanographer Steve Zissou. Played by Bill Murray, the film tells the story of Zissou’s quest to exact revenge on a mythical shark that killed his partner. Along for the trip on his aging research vessel, the Belafonte, are his estranged wife, a journalist, and a man who may be his son. The similarities between Zissou and Cousteau are abundant. Their aging vessels, the names of their shows, and especially the way they dress (blue clothing and red hat) all point to this connection. The only obvious difference is that Cousteau never went on a hunt to blow up a jaguar shark.

Or did he?

2. Viktor Navorski – The Terminal

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In the 2004’s The Terminal, a man becomes trapped in New York’s JFK Airport when he’s denied entry into the US. Viktor Navorski, played by Tom Hanks, can’t return to his home country, either. A military coup took place while he was in the air. His country is no longer recognized, making his passport invalid. And so, Navorski is forced to live inside the airport. The film, as well as the character itself, is based on the story of a Mehran Karimi Nasseri, an Iranian refugee.

Being expelled from Iran after protesting against the Shah, Nasseri sought asylum in Britain. But during his layover in Paris’ Charles de Gaulle Airport, his papers were stolen. Nevertheless, he boarded a plane to London but was promptly returned to Paris. Since he legally entered France, and no longer had a country of origin, Sir Alfred Mehran (as he became known) became a permanent resident of Terminal 1. The airport employees gave him food and newspapers. He spent his days reading, writing in his diary, or studying economics. Since he wasn’t allowed to enter France, he wandered the airport for 17 years, from 1988 to 2006, when he was hospitalized for an unspecified ailment. Since 2008, Nasseri has been living in a Paris shelter.

1. Dr. Henry “Indiana” Jones

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Many of us grew up with Indiana Jones as a role model. Since his first appearance in Raiders of the Lost Ark in 1981, Indy has become one of cinema’s most revered characters. George Lucas created the beloved character as an homage to various action heroes he grew up with. One such example is Charlton Heston, who in 1954 played a character named Harry Steele in a movie called Secret of the Incas. Steele has a striking resemblance to Indiana Jones, and not just when it came to their choice in clothing.

However, both Indy and Steele can thank an early 20th century professor for their existence. Hiram Bingham III was an American academic, explorer, and politician. After completing a PhD at Harvard, he became a professor of Latin American history at Yale in 1907. In 1911, he organized a Yale Peruvian Expedition. With the help of some locals, he was able to rediscover the lost city of Machu Picchu. However, he misidentified it as the “Lost City (Capital) of the Incas.” It turns out, Machu Picchu was really more of a summer resort for the Inca Emperor Pachacutiand his entourage. The actual “Lost City” (and last capital) of the Inca Empire, before falling to the Spaniards in 1572, was Vilcabamba. Bingham actuallyalso discovered that on his way to Machu Picchu, but didn’t recognize what it was.


Film Characters Based on Real People

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– WIF @ the Movies