USA to combat biological threats against livestock

The $1.25 billion National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility in Manhattan, Kansas, took many years to come to fruition but those who gathered for a ribbon cutting on May 24 called it a proud achievement in the prevention of livestock diseases and protecting the nation’s food supply.

Four different buildings comprise the 574,000-square-foot, $1.25 billion biosafety level-4 research laboratory that is the successor to the aging Plum Island Animal Disease Center in Plum Island, New York.

This is designed to combat biological threats against livestock, predominantly cattle, swine and sheep, involving humans, according to NBAF Director Dr. Alfonso Clavijo, DVM.

U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said many people are to be thanked but he singled out retired U.S. Sen. Pat. Roberts, R-KS. He appreciated Roberts’ political expertise, saying it was not easy to convince colleagues over a long period of time to stay committed to seeing a project fulfilled.

It requires an extraordinary level of persistence, Vilsack said. He praised Roberts’ temperament and sense of humor plus his knowledge of the budgetary process. You were extremely lucky to have Pat Roberts where he was advocating so often, so forcefully and so passionately for this project.

Vilsack also praised former Department of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano who recognized NBAF’s importance. DHS accepted the responsibility for construction and once completed NBAF became the responsibility of USDA.

A land-grant university was the right location combined with long-term expertise in architectural, engineering, research and science.

The facility had to be secure. NBAF reinforces the message that collaboration and cooperation works when the mission is to protect citizens, he said. Kansans understand that message.

This is a state that understands, appreciates and respects agriculture. In his various roles, Roberts said he asked many questions about the dangers the U.S. and world’s agricultural sectors faced as a result of bio-terrorism. When 9-11 occurred, it spurred the process.

Plum Island, New York, could no longer provide the protection the nation’s food supply needs today. He had shared his concerns with the late K-State president Jon Wefald.

Wefald immediately told Roberts a new lab needed to be located at a land-grant university and the president put together an ambassador team to help sell Kansas State University.

Roberts remembered the many hours of research that went into informing various intelligence committees about the need to protect the nation’s food supply. One of his exercises was to demonstrate how devastating a widespread foot-and-mouth outbreak could be to the USA.

It helped to galvanize the livestock industry, commodity groups and researchers about the need for a unified message to protect the nation’s food supply. With help of then Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius and state lawmakers they even withstood a last-ditch effort to have NBAF placed in Texas.

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly also thanked K-State’s commitment to animal science research and the Manhattan community for its support throughout a lengthy construction process.

NBAF will put us on the front line of making the entire country and world safer, healthier and more resilient through research, training and diagnostics.

NBAF is at the center of the animal health corridor, she said, and that region includes 120 animal health companies that employ 13,000 specialists. The Manhattan location will foster research and collaboration between academia and public and private sectors.

The animal health corridor, which stretches from Manhattan to Columbia, Missouri, is important to protecting the nation’s food supply and is also part of a dream he champions, which is that children and grandchildren raised in this state have every opportunity to stay in Kansas and fulfill their dreams.

High Plains Journal / ABC Flash Point News 2023.

History of World Reserve Currencies since 1250

The world’s reserve currency fulfills a unique role in the global economy. It is the currency held in reserve by sovereigns, central banks, banks, and large businesses to facilitate the financing and transactions of global trade.

Importantly, all the currencies on the chart were backed by precious metals until we got to 1971 and the Eurodollar system.

It is important to view the world reserve currency as the currency which, during its time, facilitated the largest trade network. International trade is what a reserve currency is all about.

For over 1000 years, the Byzantine solidus, along with nearly identical offshoots like the gold dinar, dominated trade.

However, by 1250 the solidus had been massively debased leading to contracting economic integration between Central Asia, the Mediterranean, and Europe.

This is the void into which the Italian city-states stepped, by providing quality gold coins and facilitating trade in routes they maintained. Below we will examine these Italian coins and trace them from 1252 until 1535.

When the florin was minted in the 13th Century it was the first European gold coin struck in significant quantities for more than 500 years. In the 8th Century, the Carolingians introduced a silver standard to Northern Europe.

The florin spread quickly throughout Western Europe becoming widely recognized as the coin used in trade, debt, and accounting.

A vast network of Florentine bankers formed the first large international business enterprise and, when combined with a standard coin, were able to expand trade dramatically.

The florin was in many ways the first modern currency. We can see aspects of our current system emerging back then.

For example, modern accounting allowed the Medici bank to balance their books amongst branches which reduced the need to transport gold across the continent.,h_600,c_limit,f_jpg,q_auto:good,fl_progressive:steep/

The florin was copied by others across Europe and is similar to the Eurodollar system today where dollars are created outside US jurisdiction.

For example, Genoa’s genovino, Hungary produced the forint and the Dutch minted the Guilder. Altogether about 150 locations minted a florin to the same weight and measure as the Florentines. The most important being Venice.

After a particularly troubling debasement of the Byzantine hyperpyron in the 13th Century, the Duchy of Venice started producing the Ducat which was modeled on the florin.

The ducat was almost identical in weight, at 3.545 grams, to the florin’s 3.5368 grams (the slight difference due to the measurement systems in the two city states).

The Venetian coin was used throughout the Levant, Anatolia, the Black Sea, and the Adriatic, circulating simultaneously with the florin in the West. The ducat and the florin were very similar and could be looked at as a single Italian reserve currency.

In the 15th Century, florins in several places in Western Europe suffered from debasement leading to a distinction between lower and higher quality florins. The debased coins eventually evolved into “guldens” while the higher quality florins were re-issued as ducats.

Therefore, by 1450, use of the term ducat incorporated much of what was previously known as the florin.

In the early 16th Century, the ducat’s role as reserve currency peaked and, by the middle of the century, suddenly lost its dominant role in trade. This 16th Century shift was similar in magnitude to the 14th Century shift from Byzantine coins to Italian.

The epicenter of currency now moved from Italy to Spain. Several important historical events precipitated this move: the uniting of Castile and Aragon (1479), the end of the Reconquista (1492), expansion of maritime exploration and trade (Columbus 1492), Hapsburg Spain (1516), and American silver mines (1535).

The year 1497 saw the ducat come to Spain when Ferdinand and Isabella enacted monetary reform with the Pragmatica de Medina del Campo.

This reform created a copy of the ducat, initially called the excelente, but which became known as the ducado (Castilian Ducat) in 1504.

Seven years later, in 1511, Maximilian I of the Holy Roman Empire began to mint a ducat (which was still produced in Austria until the 20th Century).

These two developments, the minting of a ducat in Spain and the Holy Roman Empire, fit nicely together five years later (1516) in the person of Charles V who was the Holy Roman Emperor and King of Spain (which included Sicily, Naples, Sardinia, and the Low Countries).

He controlled the largest trade network in the world at the time, and hence the world reserve currency. The ducat was used throughout his domains, but not for long, a new standard was just around the corner.

We will continue this series by first looking at the monetary changes occurring in the 14-15th Centuries and which culminated in a return to the silver standard 1535.

History of World Currency Reserves / Crickey Conservation Society 2023.

The Royal Tomb @ Machu Picchu, Peru

The Temple of the Condor in Machu Picchu is a breathtaking example of Inca stone-masonry. A natural rock formation began to take shape millions of years ago and the Inca skillfully shaped the rock into the outspread wings of a condor in flight.

On the floor of the temple is a rock carved in the shape of the condor’s head and neck feathers, completing the figure of a three-dimensional bird. Historians speculate that the head of the condor was used as a sacrificial altar. Under the temple is a small cave that contained a mummy.

A prison complex stands directly behind the temple, and is comprised of human-sized niches and an underground maze of dungeons.

According to historical chronicles that documented similar Inca prison sites, an accused citizen would be shackled into the niches for up to 3 days to await the deliberation of his fate. He could be put to death for such sins as laziness, lust, or theft.

Down a long set of stone stairs and to the left you’ll find the Royal Tomb. This cave-like area of Machu Picchu contains ceremonial niches and an Inca cross carved from one wall and is adjacent to the Temple of the Sun.

The cross resembles series of steps, and represents the three levels of existence in the world of the Inca. The first step, symbolized by the snake, represents the underworld or death.

The second step represents the present, human life, and is symbolized by the jaguar. The highest step represents the celestial/spiritual plane of the gods, and is symbolized by the condor.

Inside the Royal Tomb has been the site of numerous mummy excavations. Of more than 100 skeletal remains discovered here, 80% were women.

This fact, among others, leads many historians to surmise that the area was inhabited primarily by high priests and chosen women. The true purpose of Machu Picchu has never been conclusively determined.

To the left of the royal tomb lies a series of 16 ceremonial baths, joined by one linked aqueduct system. At the top of this system is the watershed hut. Continuing along the left side of the complex, you will cross the rock quarry and come across the Sacred Plaza.

Machu Picchu / Crickey Conservation Society 2023.

Windmolenpark op de Noordzee

Met een ramp in wording drukt het kabinet het plan door, zonder de gevolgen te onderzoeken? Het gaat dus gebeuren: een gigantisch windmolenpark op onze Noordzee.

Ondanks alle bezwaren, die uit allerlei hoeken komen en op heel wat te verwachten problemen wijzen, zet men door en houdt men zich, zoals we dat inmiddels kennen, doof voor alle kritische stemmen. De windmolens moeten en zullen er komen.

Het onderzoek naar de gevolgen ervan is nog lang niet klaar, is nog in volle gang, maar de beslissing is al genomen, schrijft Ines van Bokhoven. Kritische stemmen zijn er genoeg, en er lijken er alleen maar meer bij te komen.

Want deze vorm van energieopwekking die ons is verkocht als ‘schoon en milieuvriendelijk’, is geen van beiden. Nee, windenergie is niet schoon, zoals ik al beargumenteerde in een stuk, en zoals steeds meer mensen proberen onder de aandacht te brengen.

Alleen al de giftige microplastics die van die dingen afwaaien brengen zowel onze gezondheid als het milieu danig in gevaar. Dat Flevoland onlangs aan de bel trok wegens hoge concentraties bisfenol A in het grondwater wekt geen verbazing: die provincie staat barstensvol met windmolens.

Windmolens verpesten het milieu, en dat is maar een van de vele bezwaren tegen deze ondingen.

Al meer dan tien jaar geleden werd het ‘windmolensyndroom’ vastgesteld: mensen die in de directe nabijheid van dergelijke molens wonen ervaren allerlei gezondheidsklachten en overlast – klachten die uiteraard worden genegeerd.

De aanslag op ons landschap is er ook eentje: juist de plekken die mooi leeg zijn, waar een mens nog in de verte kan kijken, worden volgeplempt met afzichtelijke palen die elk plezier in het om je heen kijken bederven. Ons landschap wordt volledig verpest.

Windturbines veroorzaken onder meer laagfrequent geluid, slagschaduw en – knipperende – lichten. Dat kan tot gezondheidsproblemen leiden, die echter nog te weinig serieus worden genomen. Terwijl volgens het voorzorgprincipe de overheid kan ingrijpen, ook als klachten nog niet onomstotelijk bewezen zijn.

Ten aanzien van milieu en gezondheid geldt in Nederland het voorzorgsbeginsel. Dit houdt in dat de overheid beschermende maatregelen kan nemen tegen mogelijk schadelijke milieueffecten van een situatie, ook als die effecten nog niet onomstotelijk zijn bewezen.

Het beginsel gaat dus over de vraag hoe te handelen bij wetenschappelijke onzekerheid.

Provincies en gemeenten werd bijvoorbeeld geadviseerd om bij ruimtelijke ontwikkelingen zoveel mogelijk te vermijden dat kinderen langdurig in de magneetveldzone van een hoogspanningsleiding verbleven vanwege de aanwijzingen dat deze de kans op leukemie bij kinderen verhoogden – inmiddels is er voor deze relatie overigens voldoende bewijs.

Het is tijd dat het voorzorgsbeginsel ook wordt toegepast bij de bouw van windturbines in de bewoonde omgeving, omdat ook hier ruim voldoende aanwijzingen zijn voor gezondheidsschade bij omwonenden.

Een substantieel deel van omwonenden van windturbines rapporteert wereldwijd identieke klachten.

Chronische slaapproblemen, hoofdpijn, tinnitus, een drukgevoel op de oren, vertigo, visusklachten, luchtwegproblemen, tachycardie, prikkelbaarheid, concentratie- en geheugenproblemen, en angstgevoelens samengaand met de sensatie van inwendige pulsaties of trillingen zowel slapend als in wakkere toestand.

De natuur wordt al aangetast als de beslissing tot plaatsen van zo’n molen valt: het gebied moet worden voorbereid en dat houdt vaak grootschalige bomenkap in.

Hele hectares met eigen ecologische systemen worden kaal gemaakt en doods achtergelaten, om vervolgens voorzien te worden van een infrastructuur, zoals de wegen die moeten worden aangelegd om de molens met grote, smerige vrachtwagens op hun plek te krijgen.

Grote betonnen platforms waar niets meer op wil of kan groeien, die de plaats hebben ingenomen van wat ooit een florerend stukje natuur was. Dan is er de aanslag op vogels en vleermuizen, soms zelfs beschermde soorten, die vaak danig wordt onderschat.

Vogels en andere vliegende beesten die in sommige perioden (vooral tijdens hun trek) met bosjes gehalveerd of onthoofd neerstorten. En hoeveel dat er precies zijn is moeilijk te meten, dus zeggen de experts: ga er maar vanuit dat het er veel meer zijn dan we opmerken.

Want een dood beest op de grond is voedsel voor een heleboel andere dieren, en is vaak allang weg voordat wij hebben geconstateerd dat-ie er überhaupt ooit lag.

De aanslag op onze natuur is hartverscheurend, niet om aan te zien, verontrustend, en het ergste is nog wel dat men maar blijft gillen dat men het doet om ‘de natuur’ te redden.

We kunnen de schade met eigen ogen zien, maar onze beleidsmakers hebben er geen oog voor. Met oogkleppen groter dan de gemiddelde Nederlandse provincie ramt men de plannen gewoon door, want er is geld en macht mee gemoeid en dan weten we het wel weer.

En dan de aanleg van zo’n park-op-zee zelf: dat staat er ook niet van vandaag op morgen. Dat gaat jaren kosten, met alle bijbehorende vervuiling en herrie. En staat het er eenmaal, dan weten we niet wat het effect ervan gaat zijn op de ecologie in dat zeegebied.

Maar het wordt erger. Studies tonen al een tijdje aan dat windmolens een negatief effect hebben op het lokale klimaat van het gebied waar ze in staan – studies die door geen enkele klimaatlobby worden meegenomen in de besluitvorming, lijkt wel.

En die studies liegen er niet om: windmolens veroorzaken droogte. En stevig ook.

Windmolens hebben namelijk een merkwaardig effect op de wind: ze keren luchtlagen om met hun draaibewegingen. Warme, hogere luchtlagen komen daardoor dichter bij de grond dan dat ze horen te zijn, vooral ’s nachts, en de vochtige lagen komen te hoog terecht.

Dat is waarschijnlijk de reden dat men begint op te merken dat in gebieden waar veel windmolens staan ook steeds meer droogte optreedt: soms tot bijna twee meter diep droogt de toplaag uit.

De vraag is dus ook wat deze ‘windomkeringen’ op lange termijn voor het klimaat op onze planeet gaan betekenen, gezien de mega-uitbreidingen van windparken die men van plan is uit te voeren.

Want met zo’n lading van deze palen op de planeet is het niet moeilijk te beseffen dat dit al vlot geen lokaal, maar wereldwijd probleem zal worden.

Vooral bij windmolens op zee is goed te zien wat er gebeurt met de wind die langs waait: volslagen onnatuurlijke wervelwinden komen achter de molens los en zorgen ervoor dat vochtige lucht, die onderop dient te zitten, in bovenlagen terecht komt.

Het windmolenpark dat men nu plant op de Noordzee zou zomaar eens voor grote problemen met onze bodem kunnen gaan zorgen – maar omdat er geen goed onderzoek naar wordt gedaan, weten we dat dus niet.

Het is afwachten en dan straks weer een verse crisis om de nieuwe problemen op te lossen – problemen die voorkomen hadden kunnen worden door naar critici te luisteren.

Maar naar critici wordt niet geluisterd, hoewel het protest tegen al deze gevaarlijke, vervuilende, ziekmakende verschijnselen die windmolens veroorzaken gelukkig steeds meer toeneemt en steeds luider wordt.

Onze politieke elite wil windmolens en dus komen er windmolens – al zorgt hun achterban er dan weer wel voor dat zij zelf zo weinig mogelijk overlast van die dingen hebben.

Windmolens zijn mooi, maar niet als ze ten koste gaan van het woongenot en de huizenprijzen van precies dezelfde mensen die willen dat die dingen er komen. Knal die maar ergens op het platteland neer, bij de mensen waar we toch al jaren niet meer naar luisteren.

En dan hebben we het nog niet gehad over het probleem van het giftige afval, want een windmolen gaat maar een jaartje of 20-25 mee, en daarna moeten we er weer ergens mee heen, hè?

Dus wat te doen met de palen en wieken van steeds groter wordende windmolens waarvan we er steeds meer aan het neerzetten zijn?

En zo denderen we voort, terwijl we niet eens weten wat we aan het doen zijn.

We hebben geen idee wat de effecten zullen zijn van duizenden windparken over de hele planeet, en wat we wel weten negeren we krampachtig, want de steeds langer wordende lijst aan negatieve onderzoeksuitslagen dient het mooie plaatje dat men probeert te schetsen absoluut niet.

De leugens over ‘hernieuwbare, duurzame en schone’ energie vliegen ons om de oren, en het wordt steeds duidelijker dat het leugens zijn. Schone energie bestaat niet, elke munt heeft een keerzijde en lullige feiten negeren omdat je ze niet wilt weten is zo ongeveer het domste dat je kunt doen.

Ik hou mijn hart vast voor de ramp die we de komende jaren gaan meemaken dankzij de stupiditeiten van hoogopgeleide, domme mensen.

Opinie Z / Crickey Conservation Society 2023.

Urban development causing Worldwide landslides

Creeping from just a finger’s width up to a few feet per year, slow-moving landslides occur naturally throughout the world. They typically are detected inching down-slope in rocky areas with high seasonal precipitation and clay-rich soil, and they can take months to years – even centuries – to develop.

Yet they can also bring sudden violence. Thousands of landslides are flowing, slipping, toppling, and sliding down hills from coastal California to China’s Three Gorges Reservoir. How these stealthy geologic phenomena respond to urban development has not been well understood.

Now a team of international researchers, including one from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, has combined satellite and archival imagery to show how one African city’s changing water usage influences land movements near and just below the surface.

The new NASA study zeroed in on Bukavu, a hillslope city in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The researchers noted that Bukavu – with a population estimated to double to more than a million inhabitants by 2030 – is emblematic of many cities in the developing world that have seen rapid and unplanned growth on tectonic active landscapes.

The city, originally established along the flat shoreline of a lake, has been expanding up steep slopes. Along the way, parts of Bukavu have experienced slow, ongoing destruction of infrastructure due to ground surface motion.

One of these active zones is the Funu neighborhood, where 80,000 people live, often in poor-quality housing, on top of a slow-moving landslide that shifts continuously up to 9 feet (3 meters) per year.

To measure the land motion, the research team analyzed radar data collected by the Sentinel-1 satellites of the ESA (European Space Agency) and the COSMO-SkyMed satellite from the Italian Space Agency (ASI).

The measurements were processed into maps showing land movement and then related to a number of landslide-triggering factors such as rainfall, earthquakes, and urban development.

To better visualize how Bukavu has transformed in recent decades, the team also drew on more than 70 years of aerial photographs (from 1947 to 2018) archived in the Royal Museum for Central Africa in Belgium.

The images document a mushrooming cityscape. One reason for the growth is an influx of people fleeing violence in the broader region, where Bukavu is seen as a safe haven.

Focusing on week-to-week landslide motion over the past 4 1/2 years, the researchers found that rainfall, tectonic activity, and urban development all played roles in landslide behavior across seasons and years. But the most important factor was water runoff.

For one of the first times, we were able to document a clear connection between the growth of a city and the acceleration of a slow-moving landslide, said Alexander Handwerger, a landslide scientist at JPL and a co-author of the study.

We think this is driven by changes in slope hydrology – the way that water flows into the ground there – and not the additional weight of the houses on top.

Water weakens rock by infiltrating its pores. In urban settings, infrastructure such as roads, storm drains, and ruptured pipes can drastically alter water flow, soaking and destabilizing parts of a slope.

The cycle is self-reinforcing: Rerouting water flow weakens the slope, which in turn damages plumbing infrastructure, which releases more water into the rock.

Compared to high-velocity landslides (such as mudslides or lahars), which cause thousands of casualties and billions of dollars in damage each year, slow-moving landslides pose less of a threat to human lives. But inch by inch, year by year, they can cause mounting destruction.

And on occasion they have been known to accelerate catastrophically. A recent example is the 2017 Mud Creek landslide near Big Sur, California, which dislodged about 6 million cubic yards (5 million cubic meters) of rock and debris across state Highway 1.

More attention should be paid to slow-moving landslides, the researchers said, because the current rate and scale of urban growth globally are unprecedented in human history.

When populations migrate to potentially unsafe landscapes such as hill-slopes, more people will be exposed to these natural hazards. Understanding how urban sprawl influences Earth’s surface will be vital to plan for and mitigate risk to communities.

Attention is typically focused on landslides located in high-income, high-latitude countries, while landslide impacts disproportionately affect tropical areas where extremely rapid changes are taking place, such as population growth and environmental degradation, said Antoine Dille, the study’s lead author and a scientist at the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences.

A space mission set to launch in 2024 could help provide even better information on these processes: The NASA-Indian Space Research Organization Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR) mission will observe surface changes around the world with accuracies down to a fraction of an inch.

Such data will help scientists and policymakers protect lives and property by better monitoring subtle motions connected to landslides, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and other natural hazards.

NASA / Crickey Conservation Society 2023.

The 10 lost tribes of Israel

The ten lost tribes refers to the legend concerning the fate of the ten tribes constituting the northern Kingdom of Israel.

The Kingdom of Israel consisting of the ten tribes (the twelve tribes excluding Judah and Benjamin who constituted the southern Kingdom of Judah) – fell in 722 B.C.E. and its inhabitants were exiled by the Assyrians. In general, it can be said that these tribes disappeared from the stage of history.

However, the passage in I Chronicles 5:26 to the effect that the ten tribes were there “unto this day” and the prophecies of Isaiah (11:11), Jeremiah (31:8), and above all of Ezekiel (37: 19–24) kept alive the belief that they had maintained a separate existence and that the time would come when they would be rejoined with their brethren, the descendants of the Exile of Judah to Babylon.

Their place in history, however, is substituted by legend, and the legend of the Ten Lost Tribes is one of the most fascinating and persistent in Judaism and beyond it.

The belief in the continued existence of the ten tribes was regarded as an incontrovertible fact during the whole period of the Second Temple and of the Talmud.

Tobit, the hero of the apocryphal book of his name, was depicted as a member of the tribe of Naphtali; the Testament of the 12 Patriarchs takes their existence as a fact; and in his fifth vision, IV Ezra (13:34–45) saw a peaceable multitude, these are the 10 tribes which were carried away prisoners out of their own land.

Josephus (Ant., 11:133) states as a fact the ten tribes are beyond the Euphrates till now, and are an immense multitude and not to be estimated in numbers.

Paul (Acts 26:6) protests to Agrippa that he is accused for the hope of the promise made unto our fathers, unto which promise our twelve tribes, instantly serving God, hope to come, while James addresses his epistle to the twelve tribes which are scattered about (1:1).

The only opposing voice to this otherwise universal view is found in the Mishnah. R. Eliezer expresses his view that they will eventually return and after darkness is fallen upon the ten tribes light shall thereafter dwell upon them, but R. Akiva expresses his emphatic view that the 10 tribes shall not return again (Sanh. 10:3).

In consonance with this view, though it is agreed that Leviticus 26:38 applies to the ten tribes, where R. Meir maintains that it merely refers to their exile, Akiva states that it refers to their complete disappearance (Sifra, Be-Ḥukkotai, 8:1).

Their inability to rejoin their brethren was attributed to the fact that whereas the tribes of Judah and Benjamin (the Kingdom of Judah) were scattered throughout the world, the 10 tribes were exiled beyond the mysterious river *Sambatyon (Gen. R. 73:6), with its rolling waters or sand and rocks, which during the six days of the week prevented them from crossing it, and though it rested on the Sabbath, the laws of the Sabbath rendered the crossing equally impossible.

According to the Jerusalem Talmud, however (Sanh. 10:6, 29c), the exiles were divided into three. Only one-third went beyond the Sambatyon, a second to “Daphne of Antioch,” and over the third there descended a cloud which covered them; but all three would eventually return.

Throughout the Middle Ages and until comparatively recent times there were claims of the existence of the ten lost tribes as well as attempts by travelers and explorers, both Jewish and non-Jewish, and by many naive scholars, both to discover the ten lost tribes or to identify different peoples with them.

In the ninth century *Eldad ha-Dani claimed not only to be a member of the tribe of Dan, but that he had communicated with four of the tribes.

David *Reuveni claimed to be the brother of Joseph the king of the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh who were settled in Khaybar in Arabia, which was identified with the Habor of II Kings. Benjamin of Tudela has a long description of the ten tribes.

According to him the Jews of Persia stated that in the town of *Nishapur dwelt the four tribes of Dan, Asher, Zebulun, and Naphtali, who were then governed by their own prince Joseph Amarkala the Levite [ed. by N.M. Adler (1907), 83], while the Jews of Khaybar are of the tribes of Reuben and Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh” (ibid., 72), as was also stated by Reuveni.

Persistent was the legend that they warred with Prester John in Ethiopia, a story repeated by Obadiah of *Bertinoro in his first two letters from Jerusalem in 1488 and 1489. The kabbalist Abraham Levi the elder, in 1528, identified them with the Falashas (see *Beta Israel ).

Jacob *Saphir (1822–1888) cherished the hope that he would discover the lost tribes.

He tells the story in great detail of Baruch b. Samuel, a Jew of Safed who, sent to seek them, had visited Yemen and after traveling through an uninhabited desert established contact with a Jew who claimed to belong to the “sons of Moses.

However, Baruch was murdered before he could visit them (Even Sappir, 1 (1866), 41), and in the following chapter Saphir transcribes word for word the evidence given by a certain Baruch Gad to the rabbis of Jerusalem in 1647 that he had met the sons of Moses in Persia, who gave him a letter to Jerusalem.

He concludes wistfully, Were I able to give full credence to this letter… I would subject it to a meticulous analysis and woad learn from it matters of supreme importance, but the recollection of the fraud of Eldad ha-Dani brings suspicion upon Baruch the Gadite, for one supports the other.

I have done my duty by putting the facts down and you may judge for yourselves and I will hear also what contemporary scholars say about it. Various theories, one more farfetched than the other, have been adduced, on the flimsiest of evidence, to identify different peoples with the ten lost tribes.

There is hardly a people, from the Japanese to the British, and from the Red Indians to the Afghans, who have not been suggested, and hardly a place, among them Africa, India, China, Persia, Kurdistan, Caucasia, the U.S., and Great Britain.

Special interest is attached to the fantastic traveler’s tale told by Aaron (Antonio) Levi de *Montezinos who, on his return to Amsterdam from South America in 1644, told a remarkable story of having found Indians beyond the mountain passes of the Cordilleras who greeted him by reciting the Shema.

Among those to whom Montezinos gave his affidavit was *Manasseh Ben Israel , then rabbi of Amsterdam, who fully accepted the story, and to it devoted his Hope of Israel (1650, 16522) which he dedicated to the English Parliament.

  1. That the West Indies were anciently inhabited by a part of the ten Tribes, which passed thither out of Tartary, by the Streight of Anian.
  2. That the Tribes are not in any one place, but in many; because the Prophets have fore-told their return shall be into their Country, out of divers places; Isaiah especially saith it shall be out of eight.
  3. That they did not return to the Second Temple.
  4. That at this day they keep the Jewish Religion.
  5. That the prophecies concerning their return to their Country, are of necessity to be fulfilled.
  6. That from all coasts of the World they shall meet in those two places, sc. Assyria and Egypt; God preparing an easier, pleasant way, and abounding with all things, as Isaiah saith, ch. 49, and from thence they shall fly to Jerusalem, as birds to their nests.
  7. That their Kingdom shall be no more divided; but the twelve Tribes shall be joined together under one Prince, that is under Messiah, the Son of David; and that they shall never be driven out of their Land.

Jewish Virtual Library / Crickey Conservation Society 2023.

How British women helped to abolish slavery in 1804

Believe it or not, but by the 1700’s, deciding whether or not to take sugar with your tea had become a political statement. While sugar-free diets are now all the rage, the motivations behind this health trend are a far cry from those of the anti-saccharine during the abolitionist sugar boycotts of Britain and North America.

By the 18th century drinking tea sweetened with sugar was a staple of millions of British households. This in turn helped fuel the despicable trade in slaves, necessary to keep the price of sugar low and keep up with the ever-increasing demand.

According to Royal Museums Greenwich , between 1662 and 1807 Britain human trafficked over three million Africans to the Americas as slaves.

Many of these ended up working on sugar plantations in the Caribbean, famed for inhumane conditions and high death rates. Estimates claim that by the end of the 18th century, over 400,000 slaves had perished in the process.  

The Haitian Declaration of Independence was proclaimed on 1 January 1804 in the port city of Gonaïves by Jean-Jacques Dessalines, marking the end of 13-year long Haitian Revolution. The declaration marked Haiti’s becoming the first independent Black nation in the Western Hemisphere.

After the independence of Haiti, sugar needed to be boycotted, so the former slave labor population could not be successful on its own. They were also forced to sign and pay for the losses of the slave labor corporations in Haiti.

Christian Quakers in Britain and America led the movement against slavery. Rejecting class divisions, they viewed slavery as contradictory to their principles.

Sugar came to represent the corrupting force of greed and the Quakers began to understand the power of ethical consumer choices in shaping the political landscape.

By the early 1800’s, eating sugar was about as acceptable as displaying tusks of ivory in one’s living room is today, explained NPR. In the 1820’s, sugar bowls adorned with anti-slavery slogans had become a popular trend, with consumers opting for sugar sourced in India instead.

Due to pressure from the abolitionist movement, by 1807 King George III had signed the Act for the Abolition of the Slave Trade, effectively banning the slave trade in the British Empire . Nevertheless, many slavers defied the new legislation and slavery continued to exist in the Caribbean.

This provoked another sugar boycott in the 1820’s, exerting pressure on the government. Nevertheless, it was only in 1833, with the Slave Emancipation Act, that British slavery gradually came to an end.

While most people associate the movement with Thomas Clarkson and William Wilberforce, women and children played a crucial role promoting the boycott and in deciding their household consumption.

A study from the University of Exeter highlighted the production of antislavery children’s literature and the role Georgian children played by refusing to eat products made with sugar.

Ancient Origins / ABC Flash Point News 2023.

People of the Americas have a Female Lineage from China

A groundbreaking new study has harnessed the power of mitochondrial DNA to trace a marvelous female lineage from northern coastal China all the way to the Americas. This has revealed compelling evidence of not one, but two migrations, during the last Ice Age, and the subsequent melting period!

This discovery challenges previous beliefs about the ancestry of Native Americans and sheds new light on the complicated history of human migration and settlement in the Americas.

Coinciding with the timeline of the second migration is another branch of the same lineage migrating to Japan. This is a potential explanation for Paleolithic archaeological similarities between the Americas, China, and Japan, explains the study published in the latest edition of Cell Reports .

It has popularly been believed that ancient Siberians, who crossed over a land bridge in the Bering Strait linking modern Russia and Alaska, were the sole ancestors of Native Americans.

This accepted wisdom is now being challenged in many ways, thanks to newer and newer scientific studies, like this. The new science heavily points towards multiple waves of human migration from various parts of Eurasia to the Americas.

The Asian ancestry of Native Americans is more complicated than previously indicated, says first author Yu-Chun Li, a molecular anthropologist at the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

A team of researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences embarked on a quest to trace a lineage that could potentially connect East Asian Paleolithic populations to the founding populations in Chile, Peru, Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, Mexico, and California.

This lineage, crucially present in mitochondrial DNA, provides a unique window into tracing kinship through the maternal line, according to a press release . The lineage, known as D4h, was used in the research, allowing the team to trace maternal ancestry over the course of 10 years.

The research team from the Kunming Institute of Zoology embarked on an extensive analysis of over 100,000 contemporary and 15,000 ancient DNA samples collected across Eurasia. This led them to the identification of 216 contemporary and 39 ancient individuals belonging to this rare lineage.

After a thorough comparison of accumulated genetic mutations, geographical locations, and carbon dating, the researchers successfully traced the lineage’s branching trajectory.

Evidence of two migration events from northern coastal China to the Americas emerged – the first of these occurred roughly between 19,500 and 26,000 years ago, during the Last Glacial Maximum .

Potentially, the severe ice sheet coverage in northern China (at its peak) rendered the region inhospitable for human habitation during this period.

The second migration unfolded during the subsequent deglaciation or melting period, spanning from 19,000 to 11,500 years ago, a period of relative warming.

The favorable climatic conditions during this phase likely contributed to a rapid population increase, causing (perhaps even forcing) an expansion of human communities into other geographical regions.

It is likely that both groups arrived in the Americas via the Pacific coast, rather than venturing through the inland ice-free corridor, which would not have been accessible during that time.

During this deglaciation period, another group branched off from northern coastal China and made their way to Japan, forging an intriguing connection. We were surprised to find that this ancestral source also contributed to the Japanese gene pool, especially the indigenous Ainus, says Li.

This serves as a solid explanation for the archaeological similarities observed among the Paleolithic peoples of China, Japan, and the Americas. This is observed particularly in their shared crafting techniques for stemmed projectile points used in crafting arrowheads and spears.

This suggests that the Pleistocene connection among the Americas, China, and Japan was not confined to culture but also to genetics, says senior author Qing-Peng Kong, an evolutionary geneticist at the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Although the focus of the study primarily centered on mitochondrial DNA, complementary evidence from Y chromosomal DNA further indicates the presence of male ancestors of Native Americans in northern China during the same period as their female counterparts.

The origins of several founder groups are still elusive or controversial. Next, we plan to collect and investigate more Eurasian lineages to obtain a more complete picture on the origin of Native Americans, concludes Kong.

Ancient Origins / Crickey Conservation Society 2023.

Massive Outbreak of Jellyfish could now spell more trouble for Fisheries

The world’s oceans have been experiencing enormous blooms of jellyfish, apparently caused by over-fishing, declining water quality, and rising sea temperatures.

Now, scientists are trying to determine if these outbreaks could represent a “new normal” in which jellyfish increasingly supplant fish.

Among the spineless creatures of the world, the Nomura’s jellyfish is a monster to be reckoned with. It’s the size of a refrigerator — imagine a Frigidaire Gallery Premiere rather than a hotel minibar — and can exceed 450 pounds.

For decades the hulking medusa was rarely encountered in its stomping grounds, the Sea of Japan. Only three times during the entire 20th century did numbers of the Nomura’s swell to such gigantic proportions that they seriously clogged fishing nets.

Then something changed. Since 2002, the population has exploded — in jelly parlance, bloomed — six times. In 2005, a particularly bad year, the Sea of Japan brimmed with as many as 20 billion of the bobbing bags of blubber, bludgeoning fisheries with 30 billion yen in losses.

Why has the Nomura’s jellyfish become a recurring nightmare?

The answer could portend trouble for the world’s oceans. In recent years, populations of several jellyfish species have made inroads at the expense of their main competitor — fish — in a number of regions, including the Yellow Sea, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Black Sea.

Over-fishing and deteriorating coastal water quality are chief suspects in the rise of jellies.

Global warming may be adding fuel to the fire by making more food available to jellyfish and opening up new habitat. Now, researchers fear, conditions are becoming so bad that some ecosystems could be approaching a tipping point in which jellyfish supplant fish.

Essential to thwarting any potential jellyfish takeover is a better understanding of the complicated dynamics between fish and jellyfish. Jellyfish — free-swimming gelatinous animals — are a normal element of marine ecosystems. Fish and jellyfish both compete for plankton.

The predators keep each other in check: 124 kinds of fish species and 34 other species, including leather-back turtles, are known to dine on jellyfish, while jellies prey on fish eggs and, occasionally, on fish themselves. Juvenile fish of some species take refuge amid tentacles and eat jellyfish parasites.

Fish and jellyfish interact in complex ways, says Kylie Pitt, an ecologist at Griffith University in Australia.

Over-fishing can throw this complex relationship out of kilter. By removing a curb on jellyfish population growth, over-fishing opens up ecological space for jellyfish, says Anthony Richardson, an ecologist at CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research in Cleveland, Australia.

And as jellyfish flourish, predating on fish eggs takes a heavier and heavier toll on battered fish stock.

When an ecosystem is dominated by jellyfish, fish will mostly disappear, says ecologist Sun Song, director of the Institute of Oceanology in Qingdao, China. Once that happens, there is almost no method to deal with it.

Just think of attempting to purge the Sea of Japan of billions of Nomura’s jellyfish, many of them hovering meters below the surface and therefore invisible to satellites or the naked eye.

Total jelly domination would be like turning back the clock to the Precambrian world, more than 550 million years ago, when the ancestors of jellyfish ruled the seas.

Sun and others are racing to get a handle on the likelihood of such a marine meltdown coming true. Like their foe, the subject is slippery. It’s an enigma, for starters, why particular jellyfish run rampant.

The troublemakers are only a small fraction of the several thousand species of jellyfish out there, says Richardson. These uber-jellies reproduce like mad, grow fast, eat most anything, and can withstand poor water quality.

The big question is whether these cockroaches of the sea are poised to hijack marine ecosystems. There’s anecdotal evidence that jellyfish blooms are becoming more frequent. But there are also cases in which jellyfish gained the upper hand on an ecosystem, only to suddenly relinquish it.

For instance, biomass of Chrysaora jellyfish in the east Bering Sea rose sharply during the 1990s and peaked in 2000. Chrysaora then crashed and stabilized after 2001, apparently due to a combination of warmer sea temperatures and a rebound in numbers of walleye pollock, a competitor for zooplankton.

The jury is out on whether other jelly-blighted waters can regain ecological balance as quickly as the Bering Sea did. For that reason, says Pitt, no one can say for sure whether severe jellyfish blooms are a passing regional phenomenon or a global scourge requiring urgent measures to combat their spread.

Jellyfish clearly have an impact on human activity. Besides fouling fishing nets, they invade fish farms, block cooling intakes at coastal power plants, and force beach closures. Some jellies pose a mortal threat.

Dozens of people die each year from jellyfish stings, far more than from encounters with other marine creatures, including sharks. A box jellyfish, the Chironex sea wasp, may be the most lethal animal on the planet: Its toxin can kill a person in three minutes.

Global warming may allow deadly jellyfish, now mostly found in tropical and subtropical waters, to conquer new turf in temperate waters as sea surface temperatures rise, warns Richardson. It’s very likely that venomous jellyfish will move toward the poles.

While that could be a big blow for tourism, far more worrisome to many researchers is the threat that jellies pose to fish stocks. The most important helping hand for jellyfish may be over-fishing.

In one well-documented episode, the devastation of sardine stocks appear to have cleared the way for the rise of Chrysaora off Namibia, in waters known as the northern Benguela. Recent research cruises there have hauled in about four times as much jelly biomass as fish biomass.

Another ecosystem tweak that benefits jellyfish is eutrophication. A flood of nutrients from agricultural runoff and sewage spurs phytoplankton growth in coastal waters, providing a feeding bonanza for jellyfish.

Eutrophication, usually around the mouths of major rivers, can also create low-oxygen dead zones that jellyfish generally tolerate better than fish.

Global warming may also abet regime change. Warmer ocean temperatures are correlated with jellyfish blooms. A possible explanation, says Richardson, is that warming leads to nutrient-poor surface waters. Such conditions favor flagellates, a kind of zooplankton, over diatoms, a kind of phytoplankton.

Flagellate-dominated food webs may be more favorable to jellyfish.

For reasons yet to be fully fathomed, the waters off North Asia may be acutely vulnerable to a jellyfish invasion. Since 2000 or so, the Nomura’s jellyfish and two other species — Aurelia aurita and Cyanea nozakii — have been plaguing the Yellow Sea.

In the past 5 years, anchovy catches there have decreased 20-fold, says Sun. Perhaps as a result, just like off Namibia, jellyfish are seizing the day. During a research cruise in the Yellow Sea in the summer of 2009, jellyfish amounted to 95% of the biomass netted by the scientists.

The bottom line is that multiple factors may favor jellyfish over fish, says Shin-ichi Uye, an ecologist at Hiroshima University who has charted the rapid rise of the Nomura’s jellyfish in the Sea of Japan.

The recipe for what makes jellyfish run amuck likely varies by region, and for that reason may take time to decipher. But the future of the world’s fisheries may well depend on it.

Yale Environment 360 / Crickey Amigu di Natura 2023.

Race against Time to save the 33,000-Year-Old Underwater Cosquer Cave

During glacial Pleistocene, the entry to the famous Cosquer Cave was 100 meters (330 ft) above sea level, but the Holocene sea level rise, propelled lately by climate change, has meant that the entrance to the cave is now 37 meters (121 ft) below sea level.

Renowned for being the only place in the world where prehistoric underwater marine art can be found, scientists are now racing against time to save the art from climate change and pollution.

Over 30,000 years old and created over 15 millennia, the spectacular cave art at Cosquer Cave is in grave danger, with a 12 cm (almost 5 in) rise in sea level in 2011 alone.

With sea levels rising a few millimeters every year, and the combination of water and plastic pollution is doing more and more damage to the art, archaeologist and diver Luc Vanrell and his colleagues have taken matters into their own hands.

While in use, Cosquer Cave was 10 kilometers (6.2 mi) away from the coast. “At the time we were in the middle of an ice age and the sea was 135 meters [443 ft] lower” than it is today, highlighted archaeologist Michel Olive in  AFP.

The entrance to the cave was on a little promontory facing south over grassland protected by cliffs. It was an extremely good place for prehistoric man. Olive has been put in charge of the academic research and study of the cave.

Though four-fifths of the cave has inadvertently been lost or submerged due to the passage of time, 229  rock art  figures depicting 13 species remain on the wall. An added bonus is 69 red or black hand prints , including three that have been left by mistake, some of these made by children.

In total, 600 signs, images and rock carvings, which include aquatic life never seen before in cave paintings  have been found. The cave was occupied between 33,000 and 18,500 years ago, but no traces or evidence of people having lived there have been found.

To access the cave, visitors first need to dive to the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of southern France, at the gorgeous Calanques inlets east of Marseille.

After that, they have to navigate a 137 meter (450 ft) tunnel, before arriving at a submerged cavern. The cavern leads to the 2,500 square meter (27,000 sq. ft.) Cosquer Cave.

On 4 June 2022 a life-sized replica cave, known as  Cosquer Méditerranée , is being opened up a few kilometers away in Marseille.

The replica will confirm the bountiful coastal wildlife that must have once graced the Mediterranean – horses, deer, bison, ibex, prehistoric auroch cows, taiga antelopes, seals, fish, penguins, and even a cat and a  bear. There are also hundreds of geometric signs, and eight depictions of male and female body part.

As of now, Vanrell and his team are rushing to beat the clock to prepare a 3D reconstruction of the cave through digital mapping. We fantasized about bringing the cave to the surface.

When it is finished, our virtual Cosquer cavern—which is accurate to within millimeters—will be indispensable for researchers and archaeologists who will not be able to physically get inside,” said diver Bertrand Chazaly, who is in charge of the operation to digitalize what has come to be known as the underwater Lascaux cave.

The replica cave , slightly smaller than the original, has cost a whopping $24 million.

In fact, in terms of importance and size Cosquer Cave is right up there with Lascaux, Altamira, and Chauvet, three of the largest cave sites in the world. And because the cave walls that are today underwater were probably also once decorated, nothing else in Europe compares to its size.

Having said that, the alarming rise in sea levels, exacerbated by the pace of anthropocenic activity in the past few decades, has caused the walls to rinse and be leeched out. It has also finally gained the attention of the French government, who have launched a major push to record all available data before it’s too late.

In the meantime, Vanrell and his team are hoping to discover what the purpose of the cave was, in order to understand the ways of our ancestors and their artistic pursuits.

After all, examples of Palaeolithic cave art  have been located across all continents, including cave art created as far back as 45,000 years ago in Indonesia .

Clearly, cave art, which predates human language, is the first form of symbolic visual communication that developed into more complex forms of language much later on.

Ancient Origins / Crickey Conservation Society 2023.

Challenges and Triumphs in Underwater Archaeology

Digging the Deep Blue, where archaeology, the scientific study of human history and prehistory through the excavation and analysis of artifacts and other physical remains, has greatly evolved over time, providing a window onto the historic development of civilizations.

From its crude beginnings to the current use of advanced technology, archaeology has allowed us to unlock many secrets of our past. However, one branch of archaeology that has been particularly challenging is underwater archaeology.

Undertaking archaeology underwater is a difficult and demanding task. It involves the excavation of submerged remains such as shipwrecks, sunken cities and other ancient artifacts.

This branch of archaeology requires specialized equipment and techniques to access and recover artifacts, often in conditions where visibility is limited, currents are strong, and the ocean is a constantly changing environment.

Despite the challenges, underwater archaeology has yielded remarkable discoveries that have greatly enriched our understanding of human history.

Our planet is mostly made up of water bodies like lakes, oceans, seas, and rivers. The mysteries and secrets they hold are vast and fascinating, leaving us to wonder and speculate about what lies beneath the surface.

Ancient shipwrecks, submerged settlements, deposited relics – a great deal of ancient history is hidden in these watery graves. Fortunately, archaeologists didn’t limit their work to land.

From the very beginning, they were determined to explore watery depths and retrieve its hidden history. However, this was never an easy task, and they faced numerous challenges along the way.

The pioneers of underwater archaeology faced immense difficulties. Deep sea diving, and diving in general, was still in its infancy during the “golden age” of archaeology in the early 20th century.

Even today, underwater archaeological sites are hard to access due to the nature of seas and rivers. Underwater archaeological sites will always be difficult to access, filled with ever-present dangers.

In the past, when the technology used for underwater archaeology was exceptionally crude, many divers lost their lives attempting to retrieve or examine ancient remains.

Due to limited visibility and rising silt, especially in murky rivers, observation can be near impossible. To make things worse, once a site is observed, the rising silt may bury it once again. All these obstacles present a challenge for underwater archaeologists.

And it isn’t only the dangers of underwater exploration. Underwater archaeology is plagued by logistical challenges as well. How does one approach the excavation of immense sunken ships? Without a doubt, ancient shipwrecks are the major part of underwater recovery.

Many of them have been sitting at the bottom of the sea for centuries, meaning they are fragile, waterlogged and very huge to boot.

Undertaking an underwater archaeological project presents a colossal logistical challenge. From discovery and observation to planning and excavation, the process is long and arduous.

In the past, divers had to perform most of the work, despite not being trained for archaeological work.

However, modern underwater archaeologists often combine their training as divers with archaeological knowledge, making their dual expertise incredibly useful.

Ancient Origins / ABC Flash Point News 2023.

The Search for England’s Underwater City

In the depths of the English Channel lies a lost city that has been submerged for over 8,000 years. It is known as Doggerland. One maritime archaeologist , Garry Momber, has spent two decades exploring these waters to uncover its secrets.

The English Channel is notoriously difficult to navigate, with cold water and powerful tides creating treacherous conditions for divers.

However, Momber’s meticulous preparations have paid off, revealing that Doggerland is a treasure trove of ancient wood that has survived underwater for millennia.

These preserved hunter-gatherer landscapes offer a rare glimpse into life from another age, and composite structures like these are of international significance. The discovery of what is believed to be the oldest boat building site in the world adds to the intrigue of this remarkable find.

Marine archaeologists have published stunning images of what they think is an 8000-year-old shipyard located just off the coast of England. They have just found a large number of timber boards that may have once been a platform on the seafloor.

Researchers believe that the submerged structure may provide new insights into Stone Age technology and society. The find was made by divers from the Maritime Archaeology Trust.

They made the discovery at the submerged Mesolithic landscape at Bouldnor Cliff, [which] lies on the edge of the drowned palaeo-valley and is now 11m underwater according to the  Maritime Archaeology Trust . This location is now located half a mile (1km) east of Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight.

Divers have been exploring this area since the 1980’s when a drowned Stone Age forest was uncovered. In the 1990’s, many worked flints were found, there. In 2005, a great number of worked timber boards were found jutting out of the water. The Conservation zone is located some 36 feet or 11 m below the surface.

Ancient Origins / Crickey Conservation Society.

Ball Lightning during Thunderstorms

Instances of ball lightning—glowing, electric orbs in the sky—have captivated and mystified us for centuries. The bizarre phenomenon, also known as globe lightning, usually appears during thunderstorms as a floating sphere that can range in color from blue to orange to yellow, disappearing within a few seconds. It’s sometimes accompanied by a hissing sound and an acrid odor.

Lightning in general is an electrical discharge caused by positive and negative imbalances within clouds themselves, or between storm clouds and the ground.

A lightning flash can heat the air around it to temperatures five times hotter than the sun’s surface. The heat causes surrounding air to rapidly expand and vibrate, which creates thunder.

One of the first recorded sightings of ball lightning occurred in 1638, when a great ball of fire came through the window of an English church. That and other early accounts suggest that ball lightning can be deadly.

At least one study has theorized that about half of all ball lightning sightings are hallucinations caused by the magnetic fields during storms. That said, scientists seem to agree ball lightning is real, even if they don’t yet fully understand what causes it.

Researchers from Lanzhou, China’s Northwest Normal University inadvertently recorded a ball lightning event while studying a 2012 thunderstorm using video cameras and spectrometers.

The ball appeared just after a lightning strike and traveled horizontally for about 10 meters (33 feet). The spectrometer detected silicon, iron, and calcium in the ball, all of which were also present in the local soil.

The Lanzhou researchers’ paper supports the theory that ball lightning results from a ground strike that creates a reaction between oxygen and vaporized elements from the soil.

This ionized air, or plasma, is the same condition that enables St. Elmo’s Fire, the stationary glow that is sometimes confused with ball lightning.

Another study, published in 2016, suggests that microwave radiation produced when lightning strikes the ground could become encapsulated in a plasma bubble, resulting in ball lightning.

Ball lightning has also been associated with earthquakes. The rare flashes of light sometimes seen around earthquakes can take many forms: bluish flames that appear to come out of the ground at ankle height; quick flashes of bright light that resemble regular lightning strikes, except they originate from the ground instead of the sky; and the floating orbs known as ball lightning.

In a 2014 study of earthquake lights, researchers concluded that certain rocks tend to release electrical charges when a seismic wave hits, sparking colorful displays of light.

Aiming to understand how ball lightning happens, scientists have tried to recreate it. In 2006 researchers at Israel’s University of Tel Aviv created a laboratory version of ball lightning using a microwave beam.

In 2018 quantum physicists demonstrated a synthetic, knotted magnetic field that mirrors and possibly helps explain ball lightning.

But despite all these investigations and lab experiments, ball lightning still refuses to be pinned down. Scientists say they have much to learn about the mysterious phenomenon.

National Geographic / Crickey Conservation Society 2023.