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Weekly Digest #54

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10 Places that are weird, wonderful and absolutely fantastic!

By: Mihir Rao


Our world is by no means a small place. Even though we have explored a lot of land, we haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of the wonders that make up our planet. So, to enlighten you about some lesser known places in the world, I present to you 10 different places that are weird, wonderful and absolutely fantastic!



Pamukkale, Turkey: This ethereal place is famous for its thermal poops, and its snow-white limestone. The area has 17 hot springs, and temperatures which range from 35 degrees Celsius to a whopping 100 degrees. The geysers shoot extremely high, and the area neighbours an old city called Hierapolis (Holy City) too! *Photo credit- Wikipedia.org*


Lake Hillier, Australia: This lake is not really like any other lake, on account of its very prominent pink hue. You may think that the pink colour is from some kind of mineral deposit within the lake, but the vibrant hue is believed to be present due to an organism called Dunaliella Salina, which is a red algae.



Tianzi Mountain, China: These spectacular mountains are truly a sight to behold! The pillar-like mountains are extremely tall, the tallest one being around 1200 metres! These mountains also inspired the landscape in the movie ‘Avatar’!



*(Tianzi Mountain Credit- The Times of India)*



Bermuda Triangle, Bermuda: Just off the coast of Florida, the Bermuda Triangle encompasses 1.3 - 3.9 million square kilometres of ocean. As many would already know, the Bermuda triangle is famous for many disappearances, which still remained unexplained.. There are many theories on why these disappearances are occurring, from magnetic fields in the area to aliens, but the true reason is still unknown.




Red Beach, Panjin, China: Based in the biggest wetland in the world, Red beach is home to the Suaeda Salsa, a red plant that gives the beach its name. Interestingly, the Suaeda Salsa plant is one of the plants that can grow in highly alkaline soil.




(Photo credit- travelandleisure.com)




Cat Island, Japan: If you’re a cat lover, this is paradise. This island is home to more than a hundred and forty cats, which roam around, and can be seen all around the island! What do you think? Would you rather have an island of cats or an island of dogs?


(Photo credit Cat Island- The Atlantic)




Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia: This white landscape is the largest salt flat in the entire world! Stretching over 10,000 square kilometres, this salt flat is the result of transformations between several historic lakes. But, it gets even more peculiar.


The salt flat has hexagonal patterns all over its surface, due to crystallisation of salt. This area has been used to make many movies, such as The Fall, Unseen, and Star Wars: The Last Jedi! If you want to know something very peculiar about Star Wars, you can read Abhimanyu’s article in this digest.



Vaadhoo Beach, Maldives: When the sun goes down, this mesmerizing beach looks like it came out of a science fiction film! But, this is all real. Due to the phytoplankton on the beach having bioluminescence, a phenomenon where light is emitted by an organism, the beach glows a deep blue.



(Photo credit- The Times of India)




Crooked Forest, Poland: South of the city of Szczecin in Poland, there is a forest of just over 400 trees, which aren’t so normal. These pine trees bend at extreme angles before straightening and growing normally.. The reason behind all of this is unsolved, but there are many theories on the crookedness of these trees, ranging from lumberjack techniques and torrential snowstorms.. Personally, I think it’s aliens 😂(this is a joke)



(Photo Credit- Discover.com)



Easter Island, Polynesia: A few thousand years ago, the Rapa Nui people came to Easter Island and made giant heads carved out of the natural boulders that were there. These moai heads were later discovered in 1722, and the name ‘Easter Island’ was coined.


As you can see, these places were just the tip of the iceberg. We have only explored about 5% of the oceans, while the other 95% remains unexplored.. Even after millenia of being here on earth, the Earth has a lot more in store for us, and I can’t wait to explore!

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Cover Story-



Havana, ooh no no: Inside the peculiar Havana syndrome

(Unsolved Mysteries Collection)

By: AgastyaRao


Similar to the song Havana by Camila Cabello (Ft. Young Thug) the Havana Syndrome became an instant hit. The syndrome is not pop song fever, but various mysterious illnesses that happened to hit American diplomats - these series of mysterious events started in Cuba.


Cuba and America have had an extremely rocky history together. To the point where the two countries almost went to war, there was the infamous bay of pigs incident and much more. However, this series of incidents which have continued even until very recently when USA VP Kamala Harris’ trip to Vietnam was delayed due to a reported Havana Syndrome incident. Why is this so mysterious?


Part 1- Its heart is in Havana


Location- American Embassy, Havana- Cuba

WHen - 2016-17

Causes- Unknown


A series of weird incidents began at the US Embassy in Havana. Countless diplomatic officials were suddenly swept by weird illnesses, aches and pains ranging from headaches to vertigo and insomnia. However, these illnesses would only occur when they were at certain places and locations, but would return to normal as soon as they left.



Now, I know what you must be thinking. You are probably comparing them to young children who fake illnesses just to get out of school. Sure, it does seem convenient that they would be A-OKAY the second they left a certain location, which is what I originally thought too- until some SHOCKING NEW EVIDENCE came to light.


1. Theory Number 1- It was the Russians


Now, at no point do I mean to be stereotypical or racist about anything I'm saying. All I'm saying is that Russia and America weren’t always best of friends at the playground. A 2018 report from the American Intelligence pointed fingers at the Russians.



You see, during the Cold War (Ironic due to what I will say after this) both the Russians and the Americans used Microwave radiation (Not so cold anymore eh?) to “attack” each other.


Now, this claim is highly improbable and while there is a minute possibility of this happening, even if they were to attack an EMBASSY of one of the most powerful countries of Earth, they surely wouldn’t do it just to cause a few minor headaches.


Even if we look at the worst case scenario of Russia wanting to kick the United States out of Cuba, how does that explain the other mysterious occurrences???


Part 2- Violent Vienna


Location- Vienna, Austria

When- 2020-21

Cause: Unknown


Vienna was the centre of spy-ship (or as it's actually known- Espionage) during the Cold War. This has followed into a second possible theory about the Havana Syndrome. After President Biden was elected to his post, it was reported that more than 24 American Diplomats and Officials faced Havana Syndrome symptoms.



Another interesting fact about Austria is that local security don’t really care or interfere when spies from one country are spying on other countries. So it makes it easy for spies to come and go. Even then, what would spies get from removing a couple of diplomats from an embassy?


Once again, not the FBI nor the CIA have been able to pinpoint one culprit for this series of incidents either. The running theory continues to be microwave radiation etcetera.


Don’t get me wrong - the Havana Syndrome hasn’t been isolated two these two locations alone, it's been reported in China, Russia and has occurred in countless other countries.


Before you jump out of your seat and tell me that this could be related to the Coronavirus- sadly it isn’t, because it has been going on since before the Covid-19 pandemic. However, there is one link to Covid-19; which is the fact that it is worldwide and is sort of like a Pandemic- but so far applicable mostly to American Diplomats. This is where it gets interesting, with Plot twist number 1.

--


*Plot twist *


Part 3- ‘Enter stage right, Canada’



What was happening to the American Embassy in Havana in 2016 and 17, was also happening to their neighbours upstate- Canada. Canadian diplomats have also reported symptoms of Havana Syndrome such as headaches and nausea. Meetings were held, promises were made and compensation was given.


The one thing that was the highlight of these meetings was the fact that many of the affected diplomats were diagnosed with brain damage. This proved that it wasn’t just American diplomats who were affected.

--


Part 4- The Most Recent Occurence


The Havana Syndrome followed the Vice President of the USA Kamala Harris on her official visit to Vietnam. Her departure from Singapore to Hanoi was delayed quite a bit due to a possible case of Havana Syndrome in Vietnam. This latest occurrence hampered the trip of a VP. Was this an attack on the VP? The White House said that it wasn’t. My conspiracy nut head tells me otherwise but...


--

Part 5- What do we know


What exactly does Havana Syndrome do? Why is it so bad?


While this hasn’t been researched that much (if it has, the findings have not been made public yet). One of the common long standing effects of this has been brain damage of course. The other could easily include future paranoia and trauma. Other long standing effects of this problem are currently unknown (As is most about the whole syndrome as a whole)


What has the American Government done to solve this?


The American government has medically evaluated all the diplomats who “came under” the Havana Syndrome and has conducted investigations (which haven’t found much conclusive evidence, might I add). As a whole, no one really knows who or what is causing the syndrome. There is hardly any information about it in the first place.



What have Cuba and Russia said?


Both Cuba and Russia have staunchly denied any allegations about any link to the Havana Syndrome.


Part 6- Aliens in the attic and other plausible theories


Could it be mass hysteria or the flu?


These two theories seem to be the obvious ones and they do hold some weight.

1.Mass Hysteria- The possibility that it was mass hysteria is possible but very unlikely. The fact that most of the people were left with some form of brain damage or the other goes to show that it was very real. So the possibility of Mass Hysteria being the cause of it is rather unlikely.


2. The Flu- While the flu may have been doing the rounds at the time, the symptoms don’t all match, and for it to be going on through various parts of the world and various seasons for years on end is incredibly unlikely once again.


What is a possible reason for it occurring or being done?


There are hundreds of possibilities but a few that stand out are:

1.Wanting them to leave the country that they are in

2. Testing or using a bio weapon as an acto of terrorism

3. Physiological Experiment (Highly unlikely)


Can anything be done to stop it?


Well, it really depends. The maximum that can be done is counselling for those who are affected and maybe tighter security in areas around the embassies and a radiation scanner if possible. Otherwise, until more research is done about it- we can’t do much.


The Last theory is the most unlikely and absurd one of them all- Aliens are using sonic bioweapons to take the attention of diplomats away from the alien invasion. (This one was a joke).


Havana ooh no no.


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Star Wars and the Crystal Ball - Did Star Wars predict future events?

By: Abhimanyu Rao



Would you call me crazy if I told you that Star Wars is actually prescient? That the Star Wars films predicted the future? Well, many of you might bring up the example of the weapons like blasters and lightsabers, that are now being developed, and while that is true, it’s not all that the franchise actually depicted many highly possible futures in other ways. I will cover all of them in this article.




1. Firstly, the most obvious one- BLASTERS AND LIGHTSABERS! Lightsabers have been a part of fiction for almost half a century! Now, they are finally becoming a reality! Lightsabers at least, are now in the process of being perfected. These lightsabers don’t really cut through impossibly strong steel or behave like solid sticks that you can clash against each other for a dramatic duel on a lava planet, but who knows, a fan can hope!



2. GLOBAL WARMING!- While Star wars hasn’t outright referred to global warming, a prominent planet from a galaxy far far away actually shows us what life could be like if global warming continues, ie. if humans don’t mend their ways. This prediction occurs on the planet Kamino, which is an entirely water covered planet.



The planet has fancy high tech domes as residences and labs, and there are underwater tubes for transport between places. If humans continue on the destructive path they are on, and the polar ice caps melt, this may become our life, in fancy domes and underwater tubes. Also, a partially related fun fact, did you know that kaminoans see ultraviolet light as bright and colourful, so that’s what they use to light up their residences?


3. ARTIFICIAL GRAVITY: have any of you wondered how the ENTIRE crew of the Death Star is able to walk around and behave normally and without having to flat through the entirety of the not-moon? Simple. Artificial gravity! While astronauts today “swim” through the air instead of walking, because there is no gravity in space, this doesn’t seem to be a problem in Star Wars at all!


While some may say that it could be because space is different there, and gravity is everywhere, but that is very unlikely. Star Wars may sound unrealistic in some aspects, it is not completely unrealistic. How is this related to the future? Well, Nasa, in a podcast, talked about the possibilities of artificial gravity, so hopefully it comes into play soon.



4. NABOO AND THE CAPITOL ATTACKS- Now, I know, I’m crazy for thinking that these two things are related AT ALL, right? Well, no. They both are attacks orchestrated by old men with questionable moral compasses (Palpatine and Trump).


(Photo Credit- Palapatine (Cinemablend), Donald Trump (theguardian.com)




Both plans are executed by people who blindly follow said leaders (Neimoidians and Trump's supporters), both caused a massive uproar in their respective Senates, and both resulted in mixed results (Qui-Gon Jinn died, and it lead to all Jedi dying, and also ended up leading to the balance of the force and a LOT of other good things. The Capitol attacks led to several injuries and deaths, but also led to Twitter banning Trump. Hooray!!)


*Photo Credit- Wookiepedia Fandom*


These coincidences are all really cool (to me, at least!), and I find them quite convincing. You can surely say that I am reading into these far too much. They say that you can find similarities between any two things if you look hard enough. Nevertheless, this is how Star Wars predicted the future, and with a host of new content arriving soon, I can’t wait to see what else it predicts!


*(Credit for all photographs used in this article go to starwars.com unless stated otherwise)*

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By: Agastya Rao


1.India vaccinates 10 Million people in 1 day! Yes, and for this big milestone, the Chief Scientist of the WHO congratulated India. Vaccinating people with 10 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine in a single day is no small feat for a developing country like India. Congratulations if you were one of the people who were vaccinated on that day!


2.Tata Motors has come forward to support athletes once more. It has extended sponsorship contracts for Indian Athletes uptil the 2024 Paris Olympics. This means that they will get better amenities, training and much more! Our athletes need all the support they can get and to see such support from corporates is heartening!


3.India got its best performance ever at the Scrabble World Youth Cup. Ten year old Madhav Gopal Kamath won 2nd place in the World Youth Cup, which was the best ever performance by an Indian Scrabble Player in the World Youth Cup! Young Madhav added another feather to his cap when he was awarded the best player in the Under-12 Category! Another Indian Suyansh Mayali also finished at 8th position with an incredible performance! This goes to show that children can do anything!


4.Pen Farthing, A former British Soldier was in trouble. He used to run an animal shelter in Kabul, Afghanistan. But due to the Taliban taking over Afghanistan he was unable to bring his 200 pets with him. Thanks to the power of the internet Operation ARK as he called it was successful and the government of the UK has sponsored a flight for him and his pets. Hooray!


5. Its raining medals at the Paralympics at Tokyo for India this year! After already winning 4 Silver Medals and 2 Bronze Medals, India has won its first Gold Medal at these Paralympics thanks to Avani Lekhara who stood first in the 10M Air Rifle Standing SH1 category and finished with a record equalling score of 249.6 which was also a new Paralympic record made by her, on 30th August. India won another Silver medal on 30th October in the Men's Discuss Throw category won by Mr Yogesh Kathuniya. Congratulations India!



By: Mihir Rao


1.In a Saudi Arabian Cave, a massive collection of bones were found. The collection, spreading over 1.5 kilometres, houses bones from cattle, humans, camels, caprids, rodents and many more. Archaeologists concluded that these were collected by hyenas over a period of roughly 7000 years.


2.Water below the icy caps of Mars is what all scientists were hoping for, since that could be a possible sign of life, even if it is microbial. However, recent readings suggest that clays are present. This isn’t disappointing at all, since this can give us more insight into the history of the Red Planet.


3.When the bones of a teenage hunter-gatherer from Wallacea (the island region between Eurasia and Australia) were discovered, it showed many things, but one thing stood out: It revealed the genome of previously unknown ancient humans! With more DNA, archaeologists hope to gather some more knowledge on this topic.


4.Before the end of the year, the Yara Birkland will make its first journey between two Norwegian towns. What’s so special about that? Well, this cargo ship is the world’s first crewless, zero emissions cargo ship! This ship was designed to reduce emissions of pollutants and greenhouse gases. A great step towards a greener Earth.



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Entertainment quotient for the week:


Disney+

  • A Dog Year

Netflix

  • The Bureau of Magical Things


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Visit these pages to see some of our other endeavours!

Visit A Dogs Daily Antics to laugh your heart out with crazy captioned dog photos!

Visit The Chinappa Channel to see some quirky but nice videos that will make you roll with laughter

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