Fortean Mysteries SIG      recent history        issue 72         Newsletter of the Fortean Mysteries SIG of American Mensa          
  only 200,000 millicents per 3 issues     Published irregularly since Undecember 1658 AC
 "All things are possible ..." (Mt 19:26)

  In Science News 155:24 we read that Divakar Viswanath has discovered a new constant. Starting with the Fibonacci series (x(n) = x(n - 1) + x(n - 2) = 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, ...) he introduced randomness so that now x(n) = x(n - 1) + (i^(2r(n)))x(n - 2) where r(n) is either a 1 or a 0 at random. The nth root of the sum of all possible x(n)s approaches Viswanath's constant, 1.13198824... It's such a slow approach however that our limited hard-, soft- and wetware can't confirm the value or discover if other power series also work.
 V(1) = 1^1/1 = 1,
V(2) = ((1 + 1) + (1 - 1))^1/3 = 2^1/3 = 1.25992105...;
V(3) = ((1 + (1 + 1)) + (1 - (1 + 1)) + (1 + (1 - 1)) + (1 - (1 - 1)))^1/3 =  41/4 = 2^1/2 =  
V4 = (((1 + 1) + (1 + (1 +1))) + ((1 + 1) - (1 + (1 + 1))) + ((1 + 1) + (1 - (1 + 1))) + ((1 + 1) -
            (1 - (1 + 1))) + ((1 - 1) + (1 + (1 - 1))) + ((1 - 1) - (1 + (1 - 1))) + ((1 - 1) + (1 - (1 -   
             1))) + ((1 - 1) - (1 - (1 - 1)))) = 12^1/5 = 1.64375183...
The values do not seem to be converging.
  As a function V(n1, n2) yields n1, (n2)^1/2, (2n1)^1/3, (4n2)^1/4, (9n1 + 3n2)^1/5, but what's the general formula? Maybe it'll be in Viswanath's upcoming article in Mathematics of Computation. "Such mathematics" the Science News article says, "underlies explanations of why glass is transparent and how an electrical
current can still pass in an orderly fashion through a semiconductor laced with randomly positioned impurities."

  In the e-zine, Journal of the Unexplained, we've learned of Clevis van den Broech of the Institute of Theoretical Physics, Catholic University, Leuven, Belgium, who has mathematically developed a space-time "bubble" with a large volume but a small area -- just like the transcendental geometry of Dr. Who's
TARDIS. Van den Broech calculates that only a gram's worth of negenergy would be enough to make a starship-sized bubble, a Star Trek-like warp field.
  We've also learned of Alien Worlds' colonists who visited  Earth 228,000 B. C. to 10 A. D. from Erra, Taygeta system, Lyra constellation. They lived an average of 700 years, were telepathic, whiteskinned (because bloodless).
  On Oct. 5, 1982 Title 14, section 1211 made contact with extraterrestrials illegal punishable by 1 year or $5,000 or worse indefinite quarantine without a hearing!

  We also see on the web that Ron Wyatt, founder of Wyatt Archeological Research, called "one of the most colorful charlatans around", died. He'd claimed to have discovered: Noah's Ark, the Egyptian chariots at the bottom of the Red Sea, Sodom and Gomorrah, the Ark of the Covenant and the true site of Golgatha. Does anyone know where in Tennesee his museum containing his evidence for all these claims is?

  While researching pataphysics we've discovered the handy word oulipian, from the French oulipienne meaning having to do with the OuLiPu (Ouvroir de Litt‚rature Potentielle, which in turn translates to WoPoLi (Workshop of Potential Literature) in English). This may or may not yield to wopolian, potential literature having so far been a predominantly French phenomena as it has. Examples of things oulipian would then be oulipiana.

  We've also figured out, we believe, the relationship between the OuLiPo and the Fortean Society calendars, both thirteen-month calendars:
The first's epoch begins in 1837, the second's in 1931

Absolu (Aug 26-Sept. 25), Haha (Sept. 26-Oct. 25), Ane (Oct.26-Nov. 25), Sable (Nov. 26-Dec. 25, with the Nativity of Archaeopteryx celebrated on Sable 25), Decervelage (Dec. 26-Jan. 25), Gueules (Jan. 26-Feb. 26), Pedale (Feb. 27-Mar. 26), Climamen (Mar. 27-Apr. 26), Palotin (Apr. 27-May 26), Crotte (May
27-June 26), Gidouille (June 27-July 26), Tatane (July 27-Fort 26), Coq (Fort 27-Aug. 25),  All the months have 28 days except Gueules and Fort which have
29. (see Calendar)

  Speaking of calendars, we found "coincidentally" another less than complete answer in Match Wits with Mensa by Marvin Grosswirth, Dr. Abbie F. Salny, Alan Stillson and the Members of American Mensa, Ltd. In "The Mensa Genius Quiz-a-day Book" section for Dec. 28 it has: "Your aged grandmother tells you she was born on February 29, 1900. How old is she as of the date you are doing this puzzle?" and mistakenly answer "Your aged grandmother is pulling your leg. Nineteen hundred was not a Leap Year under the Gregorian calendar since it was not divisible by 400." True enough, as far as it goes, but it fails to take into account that by 1900 Russia and Greece had still not adopted the Gregorian calendar. What was called Feb. 29 O. S. (Old Style) was Mar. 14 N. S. (New Style) in the rest of the world. If Grandma's Russian or Greek she's one of a very select group, living
cleapians, cleapians being our term for leapians (anyone born on Leap Day) born in a century-beginning '00 year.  Next February their numbers will increase substantially. Even so they'll be one in about 150,000.
  In The Guinness Book of Phenomenal Happenings volume III by Norris and Ross McWhirter (1976), which we found at a yard sale for a mere 25,000 millicents, we discovered among other things "the lonelinest tree in the world" 31 miles from the nearest tree that was hit by a truck in Feb. 1960 -- another case of "It just jumped out in front of me!" perhaps?  We also learned of Mrs. Fyodor Vassilet, mother extraordinaire, who had 16 pairs of twins, 7 sets of triplets and 4 sets of quadruplets. How many husbands was that with? That's 27 birthings in -- what? -- 18 to 30 years. Dusty the cat outdid the human record with 420 kittens per 17 years, certainly not all by the same tom.
  Mills End Park, a safety island, Front St., Portland, OR, is listed as the smallest park in the world, set aside for a colony for leprechauns and snail race course, which must be a "phenomenal happening".
  Scientific Blunders: A Brief History of How Wrong Scientists Can Sometimes Be by Robert Youngson on the other hand mostly deals with scientists' reluctance to accept what seems to have turned out to be right. There were some even more interesting "blunders", what Fort called "the bamboozlements by which
conventional thought upon this earth is made and preserved", yet it too mentions calendars. Even stranger than the Oulipian or Fortean calendars was Sosigenes' for 46 B. C., with 455 days including besides the still used 12 also the months Undecember and Duodecember, in addition to the usual extra month, Mercedonius, between February 23 and 24.
   All this builds up to the Gregorian (actually Christopher Clavius') calendar, mentioned in the cleapian problem, off by less than half-min/yr, but still off.
   Under the title, "The millenium date blunder", he talks about the Y2K problem, which could have been avoided if we'd just adopted either the Oulipian or Fortean calendars -- well, O. K., postponed until their centennial and bicentennial years, 2031 and 2037.
   Under "Who Was G. W. Sleeper?" he tells of the 36-page pamplet sent to Alfred Russel Wallace, who sent it to Prof. Sir Edward Bagner Poulton, who spoke on it to the Linnean Society in 1914. If actually printed in Boston in 1849 as it claims, G. W. Sleeper  would have anticipated: Darwinism by 10 years, the micro-organism disease theory by 16, the phagocyte theory by 34, the malaria-mosquito connection by 48. Youngson calls this "Amazing!", even though he had already related how "They laughed at Wegener" when he put forth the continental drift theory also 48 years before it was generally accepted. Obviously G. W. Sleeper was a Mensan; maybe G. W. means Genius Wegener, eh?
  He also disappointingly calls alchemy "a farrago of wishful-thinking nonsense", even while writing in the section on cold fusion that "a controlled fusion source of atomic power [transmutation of muonic tritium into helium] will eventually be
achieved" and that this'll require 300 fusions per muon, just 50% more than what's so far been achieved.
   Under "The CIA and UFOs" Youngson is open to several alternatives for why the CIA admitted to long-secret spy planes in Aug. 1997: (1) because it was about to be revealed anyway, (2) they were following the lead of Clinton's admission of the
Tuskegee, AL, syphilis scandal, (3) post-cold war PR, (4) application of 30-year Rule, (5) reverse psychology to revive waning UFO hoax.
  Refering to Biblical literalism (and the reactionary atheism from it) he compares God in the Old Testament to God in the New Testament and concludes: "They cannot both be literally true. No two contradictions can both be true. To claim that they can is to reduce reason to nonsense." and "When scientific research throws up [He wrote it we didn't!] seemingly irrational facts -- such as those of quantum mechanics -- that is not a breakdown of rationality. It is a reflection of the fact that there has been an important gap in our prior knowledge or experience, so that our rationality, which is based on limited experience, has to be extended to include the new facts." (The best part of the book was, we thought, the quotes scattered
throughout, thus we flatter by imitating.)

"There is not the slightest indication
that energy will ever be obtainable from the atom."
-- Albert Einstein

  Headlines IV compiled by Jay Leno has the new "facts":
"Wife sues over lost brain", "Man disputes government's claim he is dead", "Ada Kring, 67-yeat-old Orick resident dies at age 94", Moses to speak at senior center", "suicide may hasten death", "sadness is no. 1 reason men and women cry", "Farm forecasters predicting a good year, or possibly a bad year", "to save [man's]
severed foot, it's sewn to his arm", "severed ear to heal on man's thigh" (Could it have been the same man?), "35 applicants line up for Lord's old job."

All this talk about space travel is utter bilge, really."  
-- Richard Woolley, British Royal Astronomer, 1956

  The Best of the World's Worst by Stan Lee, the Marvel-ous "illustrated literature" artist, also has some interesting stuff.

THE WORST CASE OF SUPERSTITION: Lord Barclay was warned by a soothsayer that he would die on Irish soil -- he tripped over some ballast dumped outside Kildonnen castle by a passing fishing boat and died when he learned it was from Ireland.

March 17, 1842 flood (by Dr. John Dee);
Apr. 3, 1843, July 7, 1843, March 21, 1844, Oct. 22, 1844 fires by William Miller, founder of Jehovah's Witnesses;
1999 oxygen-sucking black rainbow by Criswell

(according to Guinness)
pi to one million decimal places by Jean Guilloud and Martine Bouyer and Marva Drews' 2500-page list of integers from 1 to 1,000,000

P. T. Barnum's counterfeit Cardiff Giant which drew larger crowds than the original, genuine fake fossil.

cholera cures c. 1850 -- bathing in scalding water, bloodletting, plugging the anus with sealing wax, rubbing with cayenne pepper or (mercury-poisoning) calomel,
tobacco enemas

In 1884 Allan Pinkerton, the original P. I., fell while running at age 65, bit his tongue and died of gangrene.

The Deutsches Worterbuch begun by the Brothers Grimm was finally printed 117 years later in 1971

 19 33 and 42 which in Japanese are homonyms for the words for repeated hard luck, terrible trouble and death. If so, this could be the hidden meaning of the answer to life, the universe and everything (Life, The Universe and Everything by Douglas Adams, Mpossibilities 27:4)!

French Revolutionary Gilbert Romme tried to avoid the guillotine in 1794 by suicid, plunging a dagger into his face, neck and heart; his body was turned over to his friends for burial who discovered he'd survived -- for another 35 years in fact.

(according to the Guiness Book of World Records) is -- in English -- "The sixth sick sheik's sixth sheep's sick." and in any language: "Iqaqa lazi-qikaqika kwaze kwaqhawaka uqhoqhoqha." which is Xhosa for "The skunk rolled down and ruptured its larynx."

While in Central Park in 1945 Jerome Napoleon Bonaparte, last American descendant of the emperor, died of injuries received when he tripped over his wife's dog's leash.

OFA 2000   
  In The Old Farmers Almanac 2000 we find reference to The Fortean Times report  that "weirdness was up 4.1% last year, making it the weirdest year yet" (pretty good considering there's still a few months left in 1999 yet!) -- mostly due to millenial soothsaying. It particularly noted two cases of bad luck:
multiple lightning strike in the Congo which killed 11 soccer players -- all on one team and a woman who had the winning numbers on both the Rhode Island and Massachusettes lotteries, but both in the  wrong state.
  It also mentions the amazing fact that an Action Comics #1 (with the first appearance of the first superhero, Superman) worth 10 cents in 1938 was sold for $137,500.
  Best, we think, was "Questions Today's Scientists Want Answered During the Next Century" including "What is life?", "What is information?" "What question should I ask?"

 "I am strongly opposed to Charles going on the Beagle voyage.
 He is moving away from the Church, drifting irretrievably
into a life of sport and idleness."
 -- Robert Waring Darwin, Charles Darwin's father
"Anyone who expects a source of power from the transformation
 of the atom is talking moonshine." -- Ernest Rutherford

"Atomic energy might be as good as our present day explosives,
but it is unlikely to produce anything very much more dangerous."  
-- Winston Churchill, 1939

  Answering the second was key to the recent Nova program on time travel. Gunther Nimtz claims to have transmitted Mozart 4.7 times the speed of light via quantum tunneling. Raymond Chow does not recognize that as information.

 "Avoid the gigantic mistake of alternating current."
-- Lord Kelvin to Niagara Falls Power Company         

"X-rays will prove to be a hoax." -- Lord Kelvin

  We've been inspired to do just that by a riddle ("What odd number can you take away two from to make it even?") with a whole new technique for answering the 2 + 2 = ? problem. We call it jootsy, an adjective describing anything which jumps out of the system [JOOTS], as, e. g., from letter counts to line segments to numbers to Roman numerals to words, thus:
2 + 2 = 0, 4, 5, 7, 9, 10, 12, 15, 17, 20, 22, 42, 57, 62, 92, 107, 112, 152, 402, 507, 509, 552, 602, 1502, 2002
(ze + ro = 0, fo + ur = 4, fi + ve = 5, II + V = VII, ni + ne = 9, V + V = X, II + X = XII, X + V = XV, ii + xv = xvii, X + X = XX,  ii + xx = xxii, ii + xl = xlii, ii + lv + lvii, ii +
lx = lxii, ii + xc = xcii, ii + cv = cvii, ii + cx = cxii, ii + cl = clii, ii + cd = cdii, ii + dv = dvii, ii + dx = dxii, ii + dl = dlii, ii + dc = dcii, ii + md = mdii, ii + mm = mmii)
  By the way the answer the above mentioned riddle is 11, eleven - el = even.
(see Jootsy Calculus

"Cars will cost as little as $200.
[People] will care little for possessions."
-- General Motors' 20-year forecast, 1940            

"Aerial flight is one of that class of problems
with which men will never have to cope."
-- Simon Newcomb

"I had the idea of a new kind of pen that used a ball instead of a nib.
But I decided it wouldn't work, so I dropped the project."  
-- Chester Carlson, inventor of xeroxing

"I utterly reject the atomic theory."
-- Sir Humphry Davy