I’ve written a few posts like this in past years when ThatBiologist has done Halloween! I asked whether Vampires were real, Werewolves were real and finally whether zombies were real! But today I’m asking could ghosts be real?!
Ghosts, thanks to popular culture, come in all sorts of different shapes and sizes. From orbs to see through figures, ghosts come in all kinds of different shapes and sizes. Ghosts are popularly theorized to be spirits of people that have passed away. There are thousands of famous ghost stories including people seeing the ghost of Anne Boleyn. Another ghostly case was that of Freddie Jackson who was a mechanic and died in World War I. The story goes that he did not want to be left out of a photo of his squadron even after death and makes an appearance in this photo:
However are ghosts actually real? Many claim that ghosts are the mind playing tricks on you. After all many ghost stories are set in creepy, dark and quiet places. With the right story the mind might simply see what it wants to see and hear what it wants to hear.
Ghosts became very popular in the Victorian era particularly in fiction. In this time things were changing with the industrial revolution. Lighting was often provided by gas lights, these lights emitted carbon monoxide causing more people to have hallucinations. Photography allowed for photos to become “proof” of these phenomenons when in reality these photos were faked with quite literally smoke and mirrors.
In conclusion, are ghosts real? Well who am I to give a definitive answer. Although many cases of ghosts are probably a trick of the eye or spending a little too much time by a gas light, maybe just maybe one or two stories could be true.
More ThatBiologist Does Halloween
“A mermaid has not an immortal soul, nor can she obtain one unless she wins the love of a human being”
Fairyology Episode 8
Hello and welcome to another fairyology episode, this time I pose the question is it better down where its wetter? Todays fairy tale is of course the little mermaid. Now for a quick run down of the story. So the disneys version is a little bit different from the original fairytale but today we’re going to look at the original version.
Theres a mermaid that lives with her widowed father in an underwater kingdom. When she turns 15 she can swim to the surface. She then becomes obsessed with the world on land and falls in love with a Prince she rescues. She asks her grandmother about the humans and she then tells the young mermaid (Ariel) and she tells her that humans live for a shorter time than the mermaids 300 years but when they die their soul lives forever. Where as when a mermaid dies they turn into sea foam and disappear (have a think about that when you’re next paddling in sea foam!). Ariel decides she wants to live on the land so visits a sea witch. The sea witch gives her a potion that will cause her to become human but she will never be able to return to the mermaid world and the only way she will obtain a soul is if the prince marries her.
Ariel then takes the potion and becomes human. She becomes good friends with the prince but he doesnt recognise her as the mermaid who recognises him. He instead marries a princess who he sees as the one who rescued him. Ariel is now heartbroken. Her sister comes to the rescue with a knife for her to kill the prince. Ariel goes to do the awful deed but cannot bring herself to kill him. She chucks the knife into the water and her body turns to foam. BUT! She instead turns into an earth spirit??? and uses her 300 years doing good deeds. Yes well I now understand why disney simplified this tale!
So the science in this one has to be could mermaids be real?! There are a few theories on this one so lets get to it!
Theory 1. Manatees
The main theory behind mermaid sightings is that they were actually manatees. Now manatees hardly look like Ariel but often these sightings came from seamen. In the past often boats would carry limited supplies meaning these sailors were often highly dehydrated and suffered with scurvy. All this together meant they often started to see things and the manatees appeared to them as attractive women. So next time you see a mermaid just have a check that it isn’t a manatee and maybe have an apple with some water!
Theory 2. Hoaxes
Mermaids that have been “found” in the past were often pretty horrific. They were very popular in freak shows of the victorian era and were “obviously” hoaxes. If you’re brave enough feel free to go and have a look at the photos online but often these were a combination of monkeys with fish. Yeah, its gross…. moving on!
Theory 3. “Of course they’re real they just haven’t been found yet.”
Mermaids are so fantastical and genetically having half human half fish is just not going to happen. However my mermaid lovers out there should always remain hopeful! The ocean is such a mystery to scientists even now so I’m just waiting for the documentary where Ariel makes her first appearance!
Hope you have enjoyed this silly foray into fairyology! See you all next time!