The mystery of brass Roman dodecahedrons

Brass dodecahedrons keep turning up in the European soil. They're of Roman antiquity, but no-one knows for sure what they were for. Thankfully, "mundane ornamentation or maybe a childrens' toy" is not what anyone wants to hear. Mental Floss:

Historians have found no written documentation of the dodecahedrons in any historical sources. That void has encouraged dozens of competing, and sometimes colorful, theories about their purpose, from military banner ornaments to candleholders to props used in magic spells. ... Amelia Sparavigna, a physicist at Italy’s Politecnico di Torino, thinks the dodecahedrons were used by the Roman military as a type of rangefinder. In research published on the online repository arXiv in 2012, Sparavigna argued that they could have been used to calculate the distance to an object of known size (such as a military banner or an artillery weapon) by looking through pairs of the dodecahedrons' differently sized holes, until the object and the edges of the two circles in the dodecahedron aligned. Theoretically, only one set of holes for a given distance would line up, according to Sparavigna.

Or, perhaps, an astronomic measuring instrument for determining the optimal sowing date for winter grain. [romandodecahedron.com]

My favorite explanation: a glove-knitting gadget.

Photo: Lokilech (CC BY-SA 3.0) Read the rest

The Black Ghost: superhero noir comic starring an antiestablishment vigilante and a hacktivist sidekick

[Before he was a crime writer, Alex Segura was busily overseeing the edgy, amazing reboot of Archie Comics. Now, he's murging his murder-mystery career with his comics life, in The Black Ghost, a new noir comics collaboration with Monica Gallagher. It's a delight to offer this conversation between Alex and Monica. -Cory] Read the rest

'Ghost Apples' of ice form after freezing rain in Michigan [PHOTOS]

Aren't they beautiful? Here's how 'ghost apples' formed on this apple tree in West Michigan. Read the rest

Welcome to Hollow Falls - and Lethal Lit, a New Scripted Crime Podcast

It started with a phone call. Heather Einhorn and Adam Staffaroni, the masterminds behind the entertainment creative house known as Einhorn’s Epic Productions, wanted to chat. Cool, I thought. I’d known Adam and Heather for a long time - we’d worked together years before and remained friends. It’d be good to catch up, for sure.

But it was much more than that. Heather and Adam were always on the lookout to create new, diverse heroes, and they wanted to take that philosophy to the podcast platform. Would I be interested in co-creating a YA/crime fiction podcast starring a tough, smart latinx teen heroine?

I couldn’t say "yes" fast enough.

As a kid, I read a lot of comics, crime novels and science fiction - from Spider-Man to Batman to Sherlock Holmes to Agatha Christie to Star Trek and back again. I loved mysteries and adventure stories. But as a Cuban-American kid growing up in Miami, I often wondered - where are the heroes like me?

When I created my own crime novels, starring my fictional private detective, Pete Fernandez, that was always front of mind. Getting the chance to do it again - in partnership with Heather and Adam’s team, iHeart Media, and co-writer Monica Gallagher, has been nothing short of fantastic.

The end result will be in your earbuds on Oct. 29 and subsequent Mondays after that, in the form of Lethal Lit - a six-episode scripted podcast that presents listeners with a new, fictional "true crime" story, starring Tig Torres, a feisty NY teen who finds herself back in her hometown of Hollow Falls, where she must join forces with her new friends to face off against the perils of modern high school life, and a gruesome series of murders perpetrated by the Lit Killer - a serial murderer whose crimes echo stories ripped from the pages of English literature. Read the rest

Crazy Walls: screengrabs from media where obsessives create pinboards stringing together clues

It's a well-worn trope: the obsessive, the stalker, the killer or the cop, pinning photos, maps, mugshots and other detritus to a large board and then joining the dots with bits of colored string: The Crazy Walls Tumblr collects and annotates screengrabs from dozens of movies and TV shows (even a comic from Warren Ellis!) where the trope appears. (via Kottke) Read the rest

Native American tribes vie for control of ancient remains found in Idaho's high desert plains

Some mysteries don't need to be solved. They need to be laid to rest.

In spring of 2017, an Idaho Department of Fish and Game employee was going about his 'do you have a license to hunt that thing' duties,  in the wilds outside the city of Mountain Home, Idaho. As he kicked through the grass and dust of the high desert plains, he came upon partially buried human skeletal remains. The Fish and Game employee called in the cops, who in turn, cordoned off the area around the find as a crime scene. The condition of the bones was such that they could have been the remains of a double homicide that'd taken place in recent decades, or old enough to belong to settlers who would have been passing through the area as far back as the 19th century, as part of their trek down the Oregon Trail.

Five days after the bones were discovered, the police returned to where the bones had been discovered. They brought archaeologists with them to assist in the delicate task of extracting the remains from the earth and, since they were there, help look for any other remains that might be hanging around the area.

They found more.

There was no way to identify the bones as belonging to one society or another--not a single cultural artifact was found in the area. With no clues as to who the bones may have belonged to, the cops had the bones shipped off to a lab for carbon dating. Read the rest

Why did 31 people suddenly die in a Pakistan village? A horrible mystery solved

In India and Pakistan, the variety of traditional sweets prepared for special occasions seems infinite. One popular treat is laddu (or ladoo), sweet little sugary carb balls. They're basically cookies, and they're munched at big celebrations--weddings, births, and the like. Read the rest

Too Like the Lightning: intricate worldbuilding, brilliant speculation, gripping storytelling

Ada Palmer -- historian, musician, librettist -- debuts as a novelist today with a book called Too Like the Lightning, a book more intricate, more plausible, more significant than any debut I can recall.

An audio murder mystery game where you walk to find clues

Wonderland is a wonderful idea for a game. It's an old-timey audio drama that lets you solve a puzzle at the and of each chapter—and if you can't, you can walk with your phone to get clues. Read the rest

Made to Kill: 1960s killer-robot noir detective novel

In Made to Kill, Adam Christopher presents us with a mashup of Raymond Chandler and Philip K Dick: the world's last robot (all the others were destroyed after they stole everyone's jobs) and his boss, a building-sized computer, who operate a private detective agency that's a front for an assassination business. And business is good.

Woman thought to have attempted suicide wakes from coma, denies jumping from boat, may have been pushed

Laura Stuardo of Turin, Italy has been in a coma since July 19 after it was thought that she attempted suicide by jumping off a cruise ship. She's just woken up and insists she didn't jump, leading police to launch an attempted murder investigation. Read the rest

The data of Sherlock Holmes

Illustrators Adam Frost and Jim Kynvin prepared a series of charts examining the data in the Sherlock Holmes canon. Read the rest

'Large face' found in rock cliff on remote Canada island, but where did it come from?

The origin of this "large face" on the side of a cliff remains unknown. Read the rest

Serial and the uncomfortable sensation of reality radio

This American Life offshoot Serial, where Sarah Koenig is presently digging into the 1999 murder of 18 year-old Hae Min Lee, has become a sensation. Koenig's deep dive into the oddly-patchy evidence and her interviews with key people -- notably Hae's ex boyfriend Adnan Syed, who was convicted of the crime and is still incarcerated -- has turned a nation of listeners and Redditors into amateur sleuths and jurors.

There is something unsettling about The Guardian's recent series of photographs of the case's key locations: it's their bleakness, their small town-ness. Or maybe it's because they serve as a reminder that what's effectively become "reality radio" for listeners concerns a real-life place, a real victim and family.

The Guardian also interviewed Syed's family on what the apparently wholly-unexpected Serial sensation has meant for them. It's certainly interesting to listen to Koening's methodical study of the case, and my household's definitely hooked. Wouldn't it be amazing if her work leads to the truth about a situation where there arguably weren't enough answers?

Watching the murder become property of public opinion—especially with Syed's brother being told by a Reddit moderator that a key witness and former person of interest in the crime might be participating in the threads—leads to complex feelings. Read the rest

Weird gremlin photographed in China

What is this mysterious beast photographed by a tourist in the Huairou District valleys in northern Beiking, China? Read the rest

New McSweeney's: Hitchcock v Bradbury!

Daniel from McSweeney's writes, "At stake in the latest McSweeney's is nothing less than a celestial duel between Alfred Hitchcock and Ray Bradbury. Culled from old anthologies edited by Hitchcock and Bradbury, McSweeney's 45 includes stories by Franz Kafka, Roald Dahl, Josephine W. Johnson, and John Steinbeck, among others. Paired alongside these stories is new work from Brian Evenson, China Mieville, Benjamin Percy, and E. Lily Yu. Also featured is a letter from Boing Boing's own, Cory Doctorow. The result is an unmissable anthology filled with strange, propulsive, and often darkly funny work. "

MCSWEENEY’S ISSUE 45

(Thanks, Daniel!) Read the rest

Mystery of the deep-sea BLOOP solved

Remember the deep-sea "bloop" noise that some people thought might be coming from a giant squid? Turns out it's an icequake. (Here's a WAV of it)

The broad spectrum sounds recorded in the summer of 1997 are consistent with icequakes generated by large icebergs as they crack and fracture. NOAA hydrophones deployed in the Scotia Sea detected numerous icequakes with spectrograms very similar to “Bloop”. The icequakes were used to acoustically track iceberg A53a as it disintegrated near South Georgia Island in early 2008. Icequakes are of sufficient amplitude to be detected on multiple sensors at a range of over 5000 km. Based on the arrival azimuth, the iceberg(s) generating “Bloop” most likely were between Bransfield Straits and the Ross Sea, or possibly at Cape Adare, a well know source of cryogenic signals.

Icequakes (Bloop) [NOAA]

(via Hacker News) Read the rest

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