Conquering a New World – WIF Into History

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Why the Conquistadors

Were in

the New World

When Christopher Columbus arrived at Hispaniola (the island now split down the middle between Haiti and the Dominican Republic), he could hardly believe his eyes. With its extraordinary lushness and biodiversity, mighty rivers flowing with gold, and abundance of honey and spices, it was the embodiment of Heaven on Earth, Paradise, the Garden of Eden especially compared to back home.

Even the human inhabitants went about in the nude, with only leaves to cover their genitals. They were also unusually innocent, being entirely without greed. Appearing to lack any concept of property, they shared freely with their alien arrivals?and were overjoyed to receive old broken pottery fragments in return.

Columbus was astounded. If this wasn’t the biblical Garden, he wrote to the King and Queen of Spain, then it must be somewhere nearby. This wasn’t hyperbole either; he was absolutely certain of his claim: Some 5,000 years after God kicked us out, Man had found his way back to Eden.

His plan? To ruin it.

True to form, Columbus immediately set about plundering Hispaniola for its wealth. He built mines, military forts, cities, and farms no doubt devastating forests in the process. Worse, he enslaved the friendly natives to do it for him, threatening to send many back to Europe in chains.

Although he was eventually arrested by the Spanish for his appalling governance of the island, Columbus was far too powerful to lock up. In any case, it did nothing to change human nature. His treatment of the Tano people proved a horrifying portent of the conquest yet to come. Before long, thousands of Europeans followed him across the Atlantic, every one of them hungry for adventure, wealth, and prestige whatever the human cost.

What’s interesting is that while the conquistadors called this strange new continent the New World, they saw everything in terms of the old filtering their understanding and perceptions through Bible stories, classical myths, and outmoded maps and ideas.

Before he stuck a flag in the Garden of Eden, for example, Columbus thought that Cuba was Japan. He even made his crew take an oath on pain of a hundred lashes and having the tongue slit never to contradict his assertion, so insistent was he on imposing the old world on the new.

Likewise, when he came across Antillean manatees, he saw not an exciting new species to classify but a shoal of legendary mermaids (although he did concede they weren’t half as beautiful as in pictures).

Ferdinand Magellan also appealed to mythology when he called the Tehuelche (A’nikenk) of Patagonia giants. Sure, they may have been taller than average, but his encounter reads like a fairy tale: Seeing the first of them singing and dancing on the shore, he and his crew went up to greet them with gifts, cleverly tricking two of the giants into handcuffs and charting a course back to Europe?only for the specimens to die in terror en route.

According to Antonio Pigafetta, a scholar along for the ride, the giants had deep, booming voices and a fear of their own reflection; and they were so tall that even the tallest among the crew only came up to their waists. These giants were later depicted on maps of the New World, alongside mermaids, sea monsters, dragons, and UFOs even though Sir Francis Drake made it clear that they didn’t exist. Having gone looking for the giants himself, Drake concluded they must be a myth and suggested the Spaniards, who probably did not think that ever any English man would come hither to Patagonia to reprove them, had simply made the whole thing up.

But virtually all the conquistadors?Spanish or not were guilty of fanciful projections, imposing time-worn ideas on every square inch of new land, scrutinizing the wide open Western hemisphere through the old narrow lens of the past. Hence they didn’t see the natives as people, they saw them as savages and monsters; and they didn’t see the Aztecs as civilized but as a blasphemous affront to their God.

Basically, the conquistadors were in a world of their own and an often absurd one at that. For hundreds of years they interacted not so much with reality as with a mythological nowhere realm in which nothing was too extraordinary to believe.

El Dorado

In particular, the idea of rivers flowing with gold and other precious metals and gems became a tantalizing trope for the conquistadors?culminating most famously in their obsession with El Dorado.

Spanish for the golden or gilded one, El Dorado originally referred to a man, a fantastically wealthy ruler covered from head to toe in pure gold. The myth most likely originated with the Muisca tradition of crowning a new leader by covering his body in gold dust and rowing him to the middle of a sacred lake surrounded by fires and priests. For the Muisca, the alluringly shimmering metal was a symbol of spiritual power and their connection to the divine. But the conquistadors weren’t interested in ethnology; they were dazzled by the prospect of gold. Hence the legend of the gilded one quickly turned into a city, and the city became an obsession, inspiring boatloads of Europeans to find it.

Among the first to go looking, in 1529 and then again in 1531, was Ambrosius Ehinger, the ambitious German governor of Venezuela. He was aided in his search by hundreds of men including captured Indians and trailed by pigs and dogs. Together, they crossed marshes, rivers, and mountains deep into unknown territory. But in the end, having no qualms about killing or torturing the natives that he came across, Ehinger was slaughtered in return.

Later, in 1541, Gonzalo Pizarro and Francisco de Orellana mounted their own quest from Quito, enslaving natives along the way to help them carry their gear?only to meet with disaster in the end. The same happened to Pedro de Ursa, who was mutinied by his men in 1561.

Even Sir Walter Raleigh was taken in by the myth and twice went in search of the city. Scouring the highlands of Guiana, he ended up battling with the Spanish and losing his son in the process. When he finally returned to England in disgrace, by now an old man, he was beheaded by King James I.

Expeditions for El Dorado were hopelessly open-ended, called off only when they ran out of food (or men) to keep going. After all, they were chasing a mirage across a vast, uncharted continent so there was really no other end in sight. Of course, it didn’t help that any natives they interrogated barely understood what they were looking for, let alone where on Earth it might be, and usually just pointed to the next tribe with a shrug.

Ironically the conquistadors did actually find El Dorado, in one of the first places they looked. In 1536, Gonzalo Jiminez de Quesada conquered the Colombian Cundinamarca plateau, home of the Muisca, and drained their sacred lake. Naturally he found plenty of gold religious offerings from generations of priests and new leaders, but not nearly as much as he wanted. So the conquistadors took their search elsewhere, far from the origin of the myth, and continued to pursue El Dorado until at least 1800, when Alexander von Humboldt finally declared it a sham.

The Seven Cities of Gold

But El Dorado wasn’t the only golden city; there were said to be seven more.

Shipwrecked on an expedition to Florida in the late-1530s, two men (of only four survivors) found themselves wandering the wastes of New Mexico. One was the Franciscan friar and missionary Marcos de Niza and the other a North African slave by the name of Estevanico. Having already been captured by natives and escaped (perhaps explaining the distance they covered), they were keen to avoid any further contact until they reached the nearest safe haven.

But something caught their eye.

Situated on the brow of a roundish hill, de Niza claimed, once he’d made it back to Mexico, was a very beautiful city, the best that I have seen in these parts.? In fact, it looked to be made out of gold. But when Estevanico got too close, he was killed by the native inhabitants and de Niza was forced to run.

It was an irresistible tale. For some, it meant only one thing: The long lost Cities of Gold had been found. Unlike El Dorado, however, these were from the folklore of Spain. When King Roderic lost Hispania to the Muslims in 711-712 AD, he is said to have sent seven of his bishops to found a new one. Sailing across the Atlantic to Antillia one of a number of early phantom islands that was probably the American mainland they each built a city to govern. And then they burned their ships and navigational equipment to ensure they could never go home.

Needless to say, if the legend was true and any of these cities remained, the gold would belong to the Spanish. In 1541, the conquistador Francisco Vazquez de Coronado boldly retraced de Niza’s steps back to the site of the city, accompanied by hundreds of other men and backed by some hefty investments.

Unfortunately, it was only a pueblo, an adobe Zuni settlement that, to a distant observer at sunset, might look a little like it had a kind of glow. It definitely wasn’t made out of gold, though. Plus it had only five neighboring settlements?one short of the fabled seven in total.

The expedition had failed and its financial investors were ruined. It did, however, open up a route to the north, since de Coronado and his men pressed on all the way to Kansas before finally giving up on the search.

The Fountain of Youth

De Niza could hardly be blamed. He was primed to see fantastical things. After all, the shipwrecked expedition that stranded him in the desert in the first place had been in search of the Fountain of Youth a wild and ultimately ruinous goose chase led by Pnfilo de Narvez. Evidently, they’d all been taken in by a rumor about Juan Ponce de Len, who never really looked for the Fountain. Instead, the myth is thought to have been spread as a smear against Ponce de Len’s manhood his quest for eternal youth being a search for an impotence cure.

The Fountain was also mentioned by Pietro Martire d’Anghiera, a contemporary Spanish historian who seems to have believed it was real. In his Decades of the New World, he even gave rough directions:

Beyond Veragua the coast bends in a northerly direction, to a point opposite the Pillars of Hercules  Amongst these countries is an island  celebrated for a spring whose waters restore youth to old men.

This placed it somewhere in the Bay of Honduras, on the island of Boinca or Aganeo. Meanwhile, the Ponce de Len smear pointed more toward his own land of Florida. In truth, though, anyone looking for it, wherever they were, was always on the verge of its discovery. Because whenever the natives were asked for the whereabouts of this miraculous restorative spring, they would have just pointed to water.

The Amazons

Place names were another way for the conquistadors to impose their own version of reality onto the New World. Venezuela (Little Venice), for example, got its name because the stilt houses on Lake Maracaibo reminded Amerigo Vespucci of Venice (Venezia). And it was grouped with other proto-countries (like Colombia, from Columbus) under the Viceroyalty of New Granada, after the city in southern Spain. Indeed, all conquered territories in the New World were collectively branded New Spain.

The Amazon, meanwhile was named for the legendary Amazons, the ancient female warriors from Themiscyra in modern-day Turkey.

Why? Because the conquistadors imagined they lived there.

In 1542, having blustered through the rainforest for almost a year looking for El Dorado, Pizarro and de Orellana’s expedition was in shambles. They’d eaten all their pigs and many of their horses and dogs, and were now facing sickness, starvation, and death. They couldn’t ask the natives for help (on account of all the torture they’d put them through), but they could probably steal something to eat. Desperate not to die in the jungle, Pizarro sent de Orellana and 50 of his men along a wide open river they’d discovered, urging them to come back with food.

But they never did. Evidently the men were a little disgruntled with Pizarro and refused to return upriver to save him, especially from a fate that he probably deserved. (It?s unclear whether de Orellana was in agreement, but he made them all sign a declaration to say that he wasn’t and continued downriver regardless.)

On their meandering way to the sea, they continued to seek El Dorado and the natives kept shrugging their shoulders or more often bracing for attack, having had just about enough of the Spaniards and their conquest. In fact, as they pressed on, de Orellana and his men were shocked to find even women firing arrows from the river bank.

Surely these were no ordinary women, they thought; these women could fight! They were also nude, fair-skinned, and exceptionally skilled with a bow and arrow. They were nothing like the women they knew.

So they had to be the legendary Amazons.

De Orellana assumed their capital must be a few days inland and the riverside villages they passed were outlying vassal states. Of course, when he tortured natives for intel, they only confirmed his suspicions?saying just about anything to make him go away.

In any case, de Orellana and his men were in no mood to go trekking through the jungle in search of this mighty queendom, particularly if it meant certain death. So they sailed on to the Atlantic, returned to New Spain, and got royal backing to settle the region by force. Obviously they never found Amazonia, but they gave it the name all the same. Otherwise, it might have been called New Andalusia, after the region in southern Spain.

The Devil and Prester John

The conquistadors were obviously nuts; that much can be said for sure. But they were really just children at heart vicious, out-of-control, lunatic children, but children nevertheless.

Interestingly, many of their fruitless pursuits?be it for mythical warriors, immortality, untold wealth, or even Paradise itself can be traced to just one earlier myth: the legend of Prester John?s kingdom.

Sometime in the 1160s, long before anyone heard of the ?New World,? a mysterious letter arrived at the court of the Byzantine Emperor Manuel I Comnenus. Purporting to be from one Prester John, a descendant of the Three Magi, it described a vast and otherworldly empire with 72 tributary kingdoms and a strange assortment of inhabitants, including vampires and dog-headed men. It also had a Fountain of Youth, which Prester John claimed could revert anyone to the age of 32, no matter how old they were at the time. He himself had supposedly lived for more than half a millennia by drinking from its waters. There was also a tremendous river, filled with gold and precious gems, that flowed directly from the Garden of Eden. Furthermore, this being a Christian empire, it was entirely free of sin and its people had plenty to eat.

Pope Alexander III, seeing in Prester John a formidable ally for the Crusades, dispatched an envoy to seek out this land. At first, it was thought to be in India, then in Central Asia or possibly Africa. For a while, everyone assumed it was Abyssinia (Ethiopia), which was already a Christian country. Europeans even started addressing the Abyssinian ruler by the name of Prester John, despite his attempts to correct them. They also altered maps of the African kingdom to depict various elements from the letter, including Mount Amara, where Prester John?s sons were allegedly held in captivity.

The real location of his kingdom (if it had one) was never found, but there?s every reason to suspect the New World revived these old hopes.

Obviously, the natives weren’t Christians but neither were they thought to be evil?not entirely. Although Hernan Cort’s described one indigenous leader as a Satanic monster: huge, fat, with hands drenched in blood and blackened with smoke, and a striped black-red face with red mouth and teeth, spilling blood,? this wasn’t the general consensus. The Spanish preferred to see the natives as playthings of the Devil as opposed to the Devil himself, or in other words as souls crying out for salvation.

The existence of the Devil in the New World justified its conquest by the Spanish. So it came to be seen as the Devil’s playground, a New World in mockery of the old. It was the world turned upside down,world inverted by the Devil.

Hence the Aztecs were the inverse of the Israelites, as Satans chosen people against Gods. It wasn’t a New World so much as a black mirror for the old one, a bizarro realm where nothing was new, just darkly topsy-turvy.

This doesn’t excuse their behaviour, of course, but it explains the conquistador mindset.


Conquering a New World –

WIF Into History

Legends Are Made of These – WIF Mythical Travel Edition

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Ancient Places of Legend

That May Never

Have Existed

History books tell us of ancient places with amazing architecture, and world wonders long past. Archeological discovery has learned much about the world before us. The idea of many of these locations has inspired imaginations for many years. However, the truth is that history gets distorted over time both through constant retellings and sometimes through historical records that were actually just fanciful stories written after the fact. Many of the most famous locations may not have existed at all. Many of those that did, were much different than most people usually imagine.

Editor’s Note: Anything relating to The Bible is probably true (despite these explanations)

10. The Legend of El Dorado Didn’t Start Out About a City

el-dorado

The City of El Dorado, also known as the City of Gold, was popularized in myth. Fairly recently, it was retold in a very shiny and colorful Disney movie. The myth claims that there was a city of gold, told of by the South American natives. Many explorers went searching for it in the hopes of finding amazing riches. However, the original legend was actually about a person, not a city. It morphed into a city that needed to be searched for, because many of the natives were happy to lead the explorers on a wild chase.

The original legend told of an ancient leader who was so rich, that every morning he would be doused in gold dust. Then every evening, he would bathe in sacred waters, washing the dust off again. This was an example of his absolutely ridiculous wealth. However, while the legend is based on this, it isn’t actually true either. Archeologists have discovered that the original story began because of the Musica people who would perform a similar ritual when anointing a new king. But they certainly weren’t wasting that kind of gold every day. It was for very special occasions.

 9. The City of Troy May Not Be At All Like People Think

troy

The City of Troy has captured people’s imaginations ever since The Iliad and The Odyssey. More recently, there have been very visually stunning movies that have helped rekindle modern interest in the ancient city. Many people assume the city and the famous siege that took place may have been similar to how it was described in Homer’s work, or in the movies. But the issue of Troy is extremely complicated.

To begin with, much of Homer’s original work that would complete the two famous stories is missing, and may never be found. This makes it difficult to understand how much of his work was fact, and how much was fiction. Also, for some time historians weren’t sure the city of Troy existed at all. Now they have found an archeological site that they believe may contain the city, but that has only made the problem even more complicated. The site has several layers built on top of each other, which means that even if Troy was once there, figuring out which layer was the Troy described in Homer’s epic would be incredibly difficult.

Archeologists also have good reason to believe at this point that the siege described in Homer’s work actually took place over the course of many years. There also may have actually been more than one siege, of more than one Troy, over the course of history — all on the same spot. For this reason, trying to get a historically accurate picture of Troy may be next to impossible.

8. The Lost City of Atlantis Was Probably a Myth, Or Just a Regular Destroyed Island

atlantis

 The Lost City of Atlantis has been popularized in myth for millennia. The idea of a lost city of prosperous people, who perhaps had interesting knowledge or technology is a fascinating idea. Some myths even go so far as to suggest that the people of Atlantis somehow continued to survive underneath the ocean. Wilder myths even suggest they are responsible for the Bermuda triangle — bringing down anything that gets too close to the truth of their hidden existence.

However, in all likelihood if Atlantis did exist, it was just an ordinary island struck by natural disaster. The first references to such a place were in an allegory by Plato about the suddenness that something could disappear, and about the hubris of not being prepared for danger. Many people are convinced this is the truth, and that there was no Atlantis. But, people often write about what they know. There is evidence that a prosperous island fairly near Plato was swallowed up almost instantly by a volcano, so he could have been making a reference to that event. Either way, there was nothing particularly special about the city Plato was referencing.

7. The Fabled Hanging Gardens of Babylon Were Probably Not That Advanced

hanging-gardens

The Hanging Gardens of Babylon are one of the wonders of the ancient world. They also probably never existed at all. Many people have an idea from artwork of a huge city of mostly sandstone, with beautiful terraced gardens throughout, despite being in the middle of the desert. It certainly captures the imagination, but the first references to such a place were not written until hundreds of years after the city of Babylon was gone, greatly calling into doubt their existence.

The site of Babylon was only recently found, and wasn’t exactly where archeologists expected, either. It turns out it was closer to a neighboring city known as Nineveh. The people of Nineveh had taken over the Babylonian culture through war. But they liked to assimilate the enemies’ names into their own cities, making archeological identification difficult at first.

 Archeologists have not yet been able to prove the existence of any kind of hanging gardens or super advanced irrigation system. But even if they had, it wouldn’t have been that impressive to begin with. It turns out that the actual site of Babylon is not particularly arid, and would be quite useable for growing vegetation.

6. The Bermuda Triangle Is A Modern Myth, Not An Ancient Danger For Mariners

bermuda triangle

The Bermuda Triangle is a place that will cause many people to short circuit the logic part of their brain. They’ll start talking about the silliest paranoid conspiracy theories imaginable. Nearly everyone knows a mysterious story or two about the area. While most people would agree it is a natural phenomenon, the average person is convinced that something is going on there.

However, the truth is that there is no such thing as the Bermuda Triangle in the first place. What we mean by this is that there is no map in the world that has ever considered that particular region to be anything special to avoid or not. The entire idea of the triangle was made up by folklore.

Statistics show that there are no more accidents or disappearances of boats and planes in the triangle than anywhere else in the ocean. In other words, you could draw a triangle anywhere in the ocean and you would be just as likely to find a similar set of mysterious disappearances. This is because weather can cause ships and boats to go under, and the ocean is incredibly vast. Any part of the ocean can be dangerous. But there’s no evidence that particular area is any more dangerous than any other.

5. The Garden Of Eden Was Probably Philosophical, Not Physical

eden

 The Garden of Eden is a subject that has caused some controversy for many years. Certain Christians are convinced that the Garden of Eden was once a physical location somewhere on the globe, and have done a lot of research to suggest various possible locations. Most of them are somewhere in the Middle East, fairly near the locations mentioned in the early days of the bible.

Interestingly though, the Jewish faith never believed in the Garden of Eden as a physical place to begin with, but as a state of being. When men were first created, in their view, they were in a state of perfect harmony. The sin of man broke that harmony and they were no longer in the Garden of Eden, but harshly viewing the world as it actually was — alone, in the desert to fend for themselves. Many Christian scholars have increasingly taken up a similar viewpoint over the years.

4. The Tower of Babel was Probably Just an Unfinished Building

babel

The legend in the bible says that after the great flood, many people who spoke the same language came together and arrogantly forgot about God. They planned to build a tower to reach the heavens. Partway through their building, God struck them with confusion. Now, they had many languages, and they scattered across the globe. Some people dismiss the entire thing as just a story, and some people have looked for archeological evidence. The truth is a little more complicated.

 There is no evidence to support the biblical story itself. However, there is evidence of a great Ziggurat that could fit the description of the tower that existed in the Babylonian Empire while the Hebrews were their slaves. The Ziggurat was unfinished during that time. Despite being quite grand, multiple attempts had been made to finish it. Some historians believe that the Jewish writers of the time, looking for allegories to teach important lessons, were inspired by the unfinished Ziggurat nearby.

3. Ponce De Leon was Probably Never Actually Searching for a Fountain Of Youth

fountain-of-youth

We already know there was no actual fountain of youth. The idea of a magical fountain that could restore the vitality to anyone who bathed in it is quite ridiculous. However, while no one today really believes the story, some assume that the people of a few hundred years ago would have been stupid enough to believe it.

The legends claim that Ponce De Leon wasted years of his time in Florida searching for this mythical fountain. A fountain, it turned out, that was a trick allegedly played on him by the natives. However, there is no evidence in his writings he was searching for any such thing. The only source for his alleged search was a fanciful account written by a suspect source, trying to gain political favor with his views. It is more than likely the entire legend was a complete fabrication from beginning to end.

2. Jericho Was Probably Just Built on a Fault Line

jericho

Many people have heard the story of the fabled Wall of Jericho. Jericho was an ancient city in biblical days, held under siege. God was to help bring down the city, but needed the help of His chosen. The army was to blow their trumpets and march around the city continuously, and He would bring the city walls down for them. After several days, the walls came down, and the people of God were victorious.

 Now, while the city of Jericho was real, many historians believe this story was far stranger than many people first realized. The city was actually in an area that would have been prone to earthquake activity. With armies using up nearby waters during a siege, it could increase the risk. Some historians would say that the army got lucky. Or, that someone knew the earthquake activity in the area and hoped to use it to their advantage. Believers would suggest that perhaps God chose that moment to activate an earthquake along that particular fault-line. No one will ever know.

1. Roswell is Really Just Home to an Old, Unused Air Force Base

roswell

We know the military presence at Roswell was hardly anything ancient. But with the belief many people have in ancient aliens, and their connection to Area 51 and the US government, it brings the entire thing full circle. Now, we aren’t saying that the town of Roswell, New Mexico doesn’t exist. But we are saying that there is a lot of confusion over what exactly Roswell is. Most people know that it’s the town where there was an alleged crash of a UFO. The Air Force would later claim it was just a weather balloon. Over time, most secret government projects have been associated with Area 51. Somehow the two places — Roswell and Area 51 — have often become conflated in the popular mindset.

While there was an Air Force Base located at Roswell, it has not been functioning for many years now. And it was never used for highly secret projects. In fact, Walker Air Force Base was a fairly generic and unimportant military post. When budget cuts came near the end of Vietnam, it was one of the first bases to close up shop. There’s a museum celebrating the legacy of the base, but what is left now serves commercial purposes. And no, there are no aliens there.


Legends Are Made of These

WIF Travel-001

– WIF Mythical Travel Edition

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #305

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #305

…The second unique case of abduction is Sara Fenwick, who was missing for six full years, and most recently, has been making regular visits to a Fountain of Youth…

walter-reed

All this is transpiring in Washington, D.C. at Walter Reed Medical Army Hospital; physicians to anyone from Presidents and Privates. Sara has seen most of these same doctors while in New Mexico, so she is Image result for walter reed army hospital 1950not totally opposed to being poked and prodded. She is treated like the celebrity she has become, especially among this exclusive group.

The four men and one woman are very busy these days, attempting to sort through volumes of x-rays, blood tests and testimony from men, women and children who claim to have been lifted from their lives, with little recollection of what went on. The only thing they seem to know is that something had happened.

It has become apparent that each of the two dozen or so cases has its own peculiarity. But there are only two that are clearly unique. One, is the unlucky unidentified man who was the lone human casualty at the crash at Roswell (which we all know never happened, wink – wink). The second is the case of Sara Fenwick, who was missing for six full years, and most recently, has been making regular visits to a Fountain of Youth, at an undisclosed locale. The latter will be coming to an end, with an Army of help, but without discerned or predicted results.

Holloman AFB-001 The lead doctor in the Top Secret study is, Ben Wright, the psychiatrist who50-to-40-001 was the first professional to interview the mysterious woman on runway 4-9er at Holloman Air Force Base. He is flat out flabbergasted by what he finds out about the 1952 version of this woman. Had she not been in the company of Carolyn and Robert, he would not have recognized her; such was the extent of her physical reversal. After he sees the freshly taken x-rays, he cannot believe his eyes.

“She has two kidneys! I’ll be damned!” He has since summoned his colleagues to check out the before and after electromagnetic images. “And look at the frontal lobe of her brain, it has regenerated completely — and it looks better than ever!”

          “The left kidney is a kidney of a sixteen-year-old. How old did you say she was?” asks the female of the team, Jane Friez, to the Ben Wright.

          “When we found her in ‘47, she was 56 in calendar years, closer to 50 in biological years. Here, 5 years later, she hardly looks a day over 40.”

          “I’m definitely jealous, but that is physically impossible. Are you sure this is the same woman?”


Alpha Omega M.D.

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X-Ray Art by Yury Shpakovski

Episode #305


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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #297

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #297

Chapter Seventeen

LOOKING UP

…Carolyn Hanes grieves about the loss of her friend, not a physical loss so much as an amnesia-like deprivation. The Sara she knew and loved is fading away…

Amnesia

“She has been gone for a week now, Bob. Last time it was only two days and I’m starting to get really scared. How long do we sit on our hands.”

“I think you’re right, the same aliens that took her the first time are messing with her again.” They Fountain FOYare trying to figure out what to do next. “She hasn’t aged a bleeping day since New Mexico. Those little beggars have been dipping Sara into the fountain of youth, Lyn.”

“At the expense of her mind, you mean. She has regressed thirty years. She doesn’t even remember that she and I were… uh, friends. Last month she was upset that you and I were married, this week she can’t remember why. It’s getting so bad that Jenny Hawkins has taken over her shop. Sara acts like a customer now, telling Jen that she is a dancer, looking for that she needs the perfect outfit for a recital. Bob, she wanted to be a ballerina when she was in college, but she was two sizes too big. ”

  Conspiracy in the Cactus-001Lyn grieves about the loss of her friend, not a physical loss so much as an amnesia-like deprivation. The Sara she knew and loved is fading away. “What is even scarier is that the ship that crashed in New Mexico may not be the one. There were probably two or more of those things cavorting around the world, messing with us ignorant human beings. And what does our government do about it? ‘     ‘Do not believe your eyes’, they say. I am so lucky we snuck my Conspiracy in the Cactus under theirLots of letters radar.

Do you realize that they would have done anything to stop me had they knew. We’re not to be trusted with the truth? It must be driving them nuts, tracking down all those poor souls unfortunate enough to believe their own eyes. We are far from the only people seeing evidence of these UFOs; I get fifty letters a week telling me that my book was right on the mark. Thousands of people all over the earth are seeing these things, hundreds are disappearing, some never coming back. Others come back, like Sara, messed with inside and out.”


Alpha Omega M.D.

Fountain_of_Youth

Fountain of Youth by Michael Godard

Episode #297


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Contents 5-2016

A Longer Life – WIF Science

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Explore with me

10 Ways Science Could

Extend Your Lifespan

An inevitable part of life is aging and dying. It’s part of Newton’s second law of thermodynamics, which is that objects have to go from order to disorder. But there are a number of researchers who are trying to break those rules and they are trying to extend life spans for decades, centuries, or even stop aging and death altogether.

10. Elysium Health’s Basis Pill

Leonard Guarente, a leading MIT biologist, with the backing of five Nobel Laureates, launched the start-up company Elysium Health in 2015. Their first pill, Basis, works at a cellular level and it enables the body to produce a natural compound called nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD), which is an important compound that supports a healthy metabolism. The active ingredient in the blue pill is nicotinamide riboside, which is a substance that helps make NAD in the body.

The tests have shown better health in older mice, but the problem with Basis is that there is no proof that it works in humans. Testing something like longevity in humans could take decades. So with that being said, Basis is available for sale through their website. If you take two gel caps a day, it will cost you $60 a month with a $50 membership.

9. Sirtuin

Humans, like other mammals, have seven types of proteins in their bodies called sirtuins, or sir2, and they are labeled SIRT1 to SIRT7. Researchers aren’t exactly sure what they do, but there is some evidence that they may have a role in preventing chronic diseases like heart disease and cancer. An example of how sirtuins works is Resveratrol, which is the nutrient that is found in grape skins and red wine, and it has been known to help with heart health. It is believed to be beneficial because it may activate the SIRT1 gene, which makes more SIRT1 protein, and that protein helps the heart.

In 2012, Scientists at Bar-Ilan University in Israel published a study about the use of SIRT6 on mice. Their study found that the males lived 16 percent longer than untreated mice. The females didn’t show the same results, and the researchers are unsure why exactly, but one possible reason that they speculated is that male mice have a higher rate of cancer, so the SIRT6 could work as a tumor suppressor, which would have a greater effect on the male population. While a lot of research still needs to be done, researchers are hopeful that SIRT6 or one of the other sirtuins may unlock the key to longevity. Until then, you may just have to drink red wine to activate SIRT1 so you can have a healthier heart.

8. Young Blood

In the 1950s, Clive McCay of Cornell University did an experiment where he stitched together the circulatory system of two mice; an old one and a young one. To his surprise, he found that the cartilage in the older mice appeared to be younger than expected. Then in 2005, a team at Stanford University found that the young blood also helped repair the mice’s livers, skeletal systems, and they could repair muscle faster. What’s interesting is that when older blood was entered into younger mice, it looked like they were aging prematurely. Then in 2012, researchers at Harvard discovered that young blood in old mice meant less of a decline in the condition of their hearts. The conclusion that eventually grew out of this is that young blood has a rejuvenating effect on older mice, and that at least some mammals have some vampiric qualities.

At first, researchers believed that young blood rejuvenated the body because of a protein in the plasma called growth differentiation factor 11 (GDF11), which decreases with age. Researchers believed blood transfusions with high levels of GDF11 may help slow the aging process, and in October of 2014, that theory was put to the test on Alzheimer’s patients and the results showed that GDF11 may not be responsible. While GDF11 hasn’t been eliminated, researchers are still looking into why young blood can affect the bodies of older people.

7. Cellular Compound

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Researchers have known for decades that some animals live longer and delay, or completely avoid, age related diseases like diabetes or cardiovascular disease if they eat less because of calorie and/or dietary restrictions. So you may be thinking you can just diet your way into a healthy, long life. The problem is that it has never really been proved that calorie restrictions help primates increase their life span. But researchers at the University of California believe that longevity from calorie restrictions may be a clue to slowing down the aging process. They believe that aging depends on compounds that are produced in cells by metabolic reactions known as metabolites and the molecules may be used to boost lifespan.

To test their theory the researchers used nematode, which are millimeter-long worms that are often used in longevity tests. The first molecule they tried was called alpha-ketoglutarate (alpha-KG). The molecule helps in the metabolic cycle that extracts energy from food. When they added the alpha-KG to the culture dish that housed the worms, the worms lived 70% longer than the control worms and the worms’ deterioration was postponed, just like animals with like calorie restriction.

The researchers point out that just because it worked in worms, it does not mean that it will work in humans, but the results are promising.

6. Telomerase

As we age, the cells in our bodies start to show wear and tear, which can lead to cancer. So the body essentially turns off the old cells to avoid damage. Once they are turned off, one of two things happens: they die off and leave the body through waste, or they stay in the body in a senescent state. The problem is that the senescent cells pump out an odd protein that has a weird effect on surrounding cells and researchers think it is possible that these chemicals can lead to diseases that are age-related.

What may help is gene therapy on the mechanisms that cause cells to go senescent. One of those the central mechanisms is the shortening of telomeres. Telomeres are repetitive DNA sequences that are found on the ends of chromosomes and they act as protective caps. They are compared to caps at the end of shoelaces; it keeps the ends from fraying and sticking together.

When a cell divides, the chromosomes double so that the daughter cells receive equal amounts of DNA. The telomere acts like a protective cap during the replication process, but they are shortened each time the chromosome duplicates. Eventually when there is not enough telomere left, the cell dies or becomes senescent. Researchers at the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre have found a way to induce cells to express more telomerase. In their tests, they found that mice that were treated at the age of one lived longer by 24 percent on average, and the mice that were treated at the age of two had their lives extended by 13 percent.

5. AMPK

As we talked about in the last entry, one way we can combat aging is to address cellular debris, which can lead to age-related diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and other neurodegenerative disorders. One solution is simply to clear out the waste and this is exactly whatresearchers at UCLA are trying to accomplish. They have done tests on fruit flies where they activated a gene called AMPK.

AMPK has a role in boosting autophagy, which is a physiological process that cleans the body of waste products. This led to less disease and extended the lives of the fruit flies by 30 percent. If a 75-year-old human were to get a 30 percent extension on life, they would live until the age of 97. That is over 22 additional healthy years of living.

4. Calico LLC

genetics

In 2010, the UT Southwestern Medical Center identified the compound aminopropyl carbazole P7C3. The compound is a neuroprotective agent that improved brain functionality in rats and increased the survival of neurons in mouse models of Parkinson’s disease and ALS. Calico LLC, which was founded by Google in 2013 and is dedicated to longevity research, licensed the technology from Southwestern.

They are developing a drug that is a Nicotinamide phosphoribosyltransferase (NAMPT) enhancer. NAMPT plays a major role in metabolism, mitochondrial integrity and cell survival. If they are successful, their drug could help people not only live longer, but live healthier lives as well.

3. Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence Research Foundation

The Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence (SENS) Research Foundation’s goal is that they want to rid the world of age-related disease. The Foundation, which is led by biomedical gerontologist Aubrey de Grey, is trying to develop a series of techniques that would not only stop the aging process, but it would also rejuvenate bodies as well. De Grey has identified seven types of molecular and cellular damage caused by essential metabolic processes that happen in the body. His techniques involve a panel of treatments and a lot of them are actually technologies we have talked about in prior entries. The therapies treat many different areas associated with aging and they will also repair any damage that has been done. The seven steps are:

  1. RepleniSENS: Replacing lost cells
  2. OncoSENS: Making cancerous mutations harmless
  3. MitoSENS: Preventing damage from mitochondrial mutations
  4. ApoptoSENS: Removing dysfunctional cells
  5. GlycoSENS: Breaking extracellular crosslinks
  6. AmyloSENS: Removing junk from between cells
  7. LysoSENS: Clearing waste accumulations out of cells

Obviously, this process is complicated and there is still a lot of work to be done, but De Grey believes that the first person who will reach the age of 1,000 is already alive today.

2. Bioprinting

One of the faultiest parts of the human body is our organs. If one of them dies, or something goes wrong, it can kill the whole body. A solution to this problem is bioprinting, which is a technology that uses 3D printers to print new organs, tissue, and bones. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University developed a bioprinting process called Freeform Reversible Embedding of Suspended Hydrogels (FRESH) that will hopefully make this sci-fi technology a reality. Through their process, they are able to print soft material inside a bath of supportive fluid that contains regular everyday gelatin powder. Then layer by layer, they print one gel inside another and these models would be used as “scaffolding” that will allow real tissue and organs to grow between the scaffolding.

Eventually, once we can print organs, tissue, and bone, it would just be a matter of upgrading our bodies on a part by part basis or transferring our consciousness to a better, faster, stronger, and younger body.

1. The 2045 Initiative

Famed futurist Ray Kurzweil believes that by the year 2045, humans and computers will reach singularity, meaning that computers will become more advanced than humankind and we will be able to upload our mind to a computer. It is believed that once we can upload our minds, then we will become immortal. Someone who has taken this idea and wants to bring it to fruition is Russian billionaire media mogul Dmitry Itskov. The main goal of his 2045 Initiative is to build advanced non-biological carriers (androids) that we will be able upload our consciousness to, similar to the movieAvatar. While this sounds like complete science-fiction, Itskov actually has a number of experts on board and even has the blessing of the Dalai Lama.

There are four major milestones that the project is trying to hit. By 2020, they want to have the avatar technology available and in mainstream use. By 2025, they hope to be able to implant a human brain into the avatar. By 2035, they hope to be able to upload a brain into a robot, and Itskov believes that by 2045 we will be a new species because our bodies will be holograms.


 


 

A Longer Life

– WIF Science

Magical Mythical Tour – WIF Guide to Legendary Places

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Mythical Places You

Can Visit Right Now

Atlantis! Valhalla! Shangri-La! Paradise locations shown over and over in movies, games and TV. Places of wealth, beauty and happiness that belong entirely in myth. If you found out one of them was real, you’d probably get on a plane before finishing this…oh, there you go. Well, while you’re readying that road trip, you can read up on some of the places of legend you can actually check out.

Hold on to your butts, gang, because while Shangri-La might not be real, you’d be amazed to find out some of the incredible mythological landmarks that are.

10. Mount Olympus, Home of the Gods

mtolympus

Olympus, home of the gods. A golden, sparkling, iridescent paradise where no mortal man dare tread. In Greek mythology, the likes of Zeus, Hera, and Ares shared a pad at the top of a mountain in what would certainly have been the greatest Real World season of all-time. As with most things in myth, it’s also based on a very real place.

The highest mountain in Greece, Mount Olympus, to be exact. You probably could have guessed that, considering that’s what it was called in the myths, too. You’ve got to hand it to the Greeks – they could find any number of new and inventive ways for Zeus to take advantage of a mortal woman, but coming up with fake names for physical locations was where they drew the line with creative license. Rising high above Greece and its citizens, you can visit this treacherous terrain yourself, if you don’t mind climbing a large and snowy mountain. Don’t expect gods at the top though, just a beautiful view.

9. Troy, Site of the Trojan War  

troy

Troy. You might know it more from the Brad Pitt movie than from mythology, but it’s a well-spring that fueled the works of Homer. Here is where the Trojan war was fought, and heroes of legends were made, including Odysseus, and Achilles of the treacherous heel and even more wobbly accent that Pitt decided to give him. Ending with sea monsters and started by the Goddess of Discord, the Trojan War and its home were long thought myths. But Troy is a real place, because again – the Greeks sucked at creating fantasy lands.

Discovered in the 1800s, Troy is located in Turkey and was added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites in 1998. Though it is not in the same shape it was during the war, you can still touch the walls of Troy, behind which the Trojan Horse was rolled in.

8. The Fountain of Youth

fountainofyouth

The Fountain of Youth. The spring of eternal life and ultimate desire of Ponce de Leon. Sought after by early settlers of North America, the Fountain of Youth is up there with El Dorado (the Lost City of Gold) with myths of the New World.

However, unlike that shining Mecca, the Fountain of Youth does exist. Despite its name, however, there’s no everlasting life to be found for youhere. But there is wonderfully pure mineral water, a lovely tour, and Florida’s sunny weather. Located in St. Augustine, it really seems all-too fitting that the Fountain of Youth would be in Florida, doesn’t it? Suddenly we’re realizing why everyone’s grandparents move down there as soon as their social security checks start rolling in.

7. Atlantis of the Sands

iram

Atlantis, the sunken city of Greek myth is, sadly, not real. However, its cousin city – a city consumed by sand, not water – is.

Iram of the Pillars, the Atlantis of the Sands, is a fabled lost city destroyed by God in the Quaran for her sins – sort of an Islamic Sodom and Gammorah. It’s known by another name though, one which Lawrence of Arabia used for it – Ubar. Located in a place that is almost as mythical as Atlantis, the Rub’ al-Khali (the Empty Quarter), one of the most isolated and inhospitable places on Earth, Ubar was recently uncovered in the desert wasteland. It was originally a trading post for the brave souls who dared to venture from one side of the Quarter to the other. You can travel there – if you dare – but be warned, legends warn the city is populated by spirits you can’t see…but that can see you.

6. Middle Earth (The Shire)

hobbit

We’re cheating a little with this one, but Middle Earth is as fantastical as Valhalla or the Fountain of Youth with the proverbial kids these days. The land created by JRR Tolkein in his groundbreaking Lord of the Rings series is a wonderful place; from the dark mountains of Mordor, to the plains of Gondor, to the peaceful home of the Hobbits, in the Shire, it’s a land of myth and magic. And, as with the others on this list, you can go visit yourself.

While the New Zealand landscape (along with some hefty CGI) served as the stand in for Mordor, Rohan, and Gondor, Hobbiton itself is actually all there. Just prior to filming, they constructed an entire village that you can visit. There are even tours of the Shire. Now, we know that Tolkien actually based Middle Earth in Europe, and specifically the UK, but the movies and their locations embody the spirit of Tolkien as well as any physical locations used as a basis for the books.

Go see where Bilbo’s going away party was, walk the roads Frodo did as he left the Shire, and see where Sam lived as he penned the last words inthe saga of The Lord of the Rings. Chances are you’ll never want your trip to the Shire to end, which is fitting given how long they stretched outReturn of the King.

5. Roanoke Colony

croatoan

Roanoke’s mystery has plagued the world since the beginning of America. Early settlers came to the New World looking to make a new life, only to vanish, seemingly without a trace. The only clue to their disappearance was a mysterious word scrawled on a nearby tree – Croatoan. No one knew what it meant and the legend that the colony was wiped out by some supernatural entity has grown over the years, presumably never to be solved.

Except that’s not true, like, at all. The mystery was solved before it even began. Before settling, the early colonists told those who would follow that if they needed to leave for any reason, they would leave a sign of where they were going, and so they did. The mysterious “Croatoan” carved into the tree? That should have immediately tipped people off as to what happened.

The Croatoans were a tribe who lived in the area, on a nearby island. The early settlers travelled to the island, lived there, and even had children with the Croatoans. So if you want to see what happened to the early settlers of Roanoke, just stop by Hatteras Island and see for yourself.

4. Hindu Kingdom of God

kingdomofgod

Rama is the blue-skinned avatar of the Supreme God in Hinduism. His most famous story is about his fight against Ravana – a many armed, many headed king of Lanka – who kidnapped Rama’s most beloved wife, Sita, and held her captive. To get her back, he built (with the help of a monkey god, because even Hinduism appreciates a buddy comedy featuring talking simians) a huge bridge and travelled from his Kingdom to get her back.

And you can actually see all of that. Well, apart from the monkey god, regrettably. Lanka is now Sri Lanka, and the bridge is famous in the area, known as either Adam’s Bridge or Rama’s Bridge. It used to be an entire land bridge joining India and Sri Lanka, which is where Rama’s Kingdom was. Rama was a king of an actual place in India, called Adodhya. You can go live through the whole adventure, starting off in India, travelling across his bridge and finally getting to Sri Lanka. You’ll have to provide your own monkey sidekick, though.

3. Themiscyra, Home to Wonder Woman 

wonderwoman

Wonder Woman is one of the most popular superheroes of all-time, despite what Hollywood wants to believe. She came from a beautiful paradise island called Themiscyra, home to warrior women who can compete with gods. It’s based on a mythological place in Greek mythology, and warrior women found in poems detailing the Trojan War. And like most things in the poem, it was considered mythological.

But, if you’ve been paying attention, you can probably figure out thatThemiscyra is actually real. Don’t expect the Wonder Woman movie to be filmed on location though. Unlike the others mentioned on this list, Themiscyra itself was completely destroyed but you can still visit the former location on the coast of the Black Sea, which looks as close to Paradise as you’re likely to find on this list.

2. Gates of Hell

gatesofhell

Travelling to the underworld is a popular journey for heroes of myth, whether it’s to save a loved one, or to gain hidden knowledge. Dante travelled through Hell in his Inferno; Orpheus to save his beloved. All damned souls will pass through the gates to the underworld, and it’s where demons and Satan make their way up to torment us. However, almost all gates of Hell are real places. Now, they are distinctly lacking the ability to transport you to Hell, but there are dozens of them.

From the Cape Matapan Caves, where Greek heroes descended to the underworld; to Hekla, an Icelandic volcano considered the eternal home of Judas Iscariot; to Actun Tunichil Muknal, the terrifying cave network underworld of the Mayans – the Gates of Hell are everywhere.

So, uh, great? Hey, at least it’ll cut down on our travel time once the end rolls around.

1. Armageddon 

Tel_megido

The End of Time. Not to be confused with a lousy Ben Affleck movie that you’d never admit to crying at (but you totally did), Armaggedon is from the Bible – the end of time, the battle between Satan and God for the whole Universe. However, in the Bible, Armaggedon isn’t the name of the battle, but the name of the actual battlefield.

Yes, Armaggedon is a real place. It’s located in Israel, and is protected as a World Heritage site. It’s known today as Megiddo. A tel (a type of false hill built from many different people settling in the same area) Megiddo has been home to many different people and wars. Luckily, though, none of them have involved the end of the world. While visiting the birth place of Christ and his crucifixion, make sure to stop by and check out where he’ll come back.

Magical Mythical Tour

– WIF Guide to Legends