China’s Tale of First Contact with Aliens

Humanity's first encounter with intelligent extraterrestrial life would undoubtedly have a huge impact on how we see our place in the universe. But could first contact also affect technological progress and spur technology leaps on Earth? That question becomes one of many driving forces in the fascinating "Three-Body" book trilogy by Cixin Liu, a Chinese writer who has become the bestselling author of science fiction in China. Liu's trilogy has steadily gained public attention since the f

Your Average, Everyday Zombie

She came out of nowhere. All of a sudden, you are set upon by a flying nightmare whose body shines iridescent green. Limbs intertwine as she fights to subdue you. You struggle; every muscle in your body tenses and flexes as you try to fling the emerald harpy off your back, but you feel her jaws clamp down, and she remains attached. Terrified, you helplessly twist and contort, unable to shake her. Then you feel it — she stabs her needle-like stinger into your abdomen. Your legs tingle,

This Week’s Top Downloads

Every week, we share a number of downloads for all platforms to help you get things done. Here were the top downloads from this week

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Halloween Horrors from the Archives

Halloween is my favorite time of year, and my obsession with the queer and supernatural wonders of the natural world - namely horrifying parasites and bizarro infections - regularly overflows into the Body Horrors blog. So in celebration of All Hallows' Eve, a night of masquerade and devilry, I present a small selection - no small task, trust me! - of the more sinister and spine-tingling articles from the Body Horrors archives. All tricks, no treats! Enjoy. The Bestial Virus: The Infec

Reel Scary Helps You Find the Perfect Scary Movie

Not all horror movies are the same kind of scary. Reel Scary tells what movies people rate to be the scariest, and helps you separate the disturbing from the gory and the suspenseful.

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Shooting In Colorado Reportedly Leaves 4 Dead, Including Gunman

Four people, including a gunman, died on Saturday after a shooting in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

According to The Denver Post, the gunman shot three people before police arrived to the scene. The gunman returned fire at officers, until he was shot dead by one of them. He was pronounced dead on Saturday afternoon. According to the reports of one witness, the gunman, carrying a rifle, was fleeing police when he was shot.

“I looked out my kitchen window and I saw a man in a green jacket firing an AR-15...waited a few seconds, went out my house, looked to my left and saw a man down the street, probably 50 feet. I started calling him and I called the cops,” witness Matt Abshire told The Colorado Springs Gazette.

The sheriff’s office has not yet released the names of the three victims. The police department has opened an investigation into the incident, and the officers involved have been placed on administrative leave for the time being.

Run Split View and Picture In Picture at the Same Time on the iPad

The new multitasking stuff on the iPad is great as it is. But it turns out you can actually run both the new Split View and the new Picture in Picture mode at the same time for maximum multitasking overload.

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This Turning-The-Clocks-Back Nonsense Needs To Stop

This Turning-The-Clocks-Back Nonsense Needs To Stop

Daylight saving time ends tomorrow, a fact which will cause many of us to groan as we think forward to the Monday evening commute home in utter darkness. While many have argued that daylight saving time is pointless and should be abolished, I’d like to firmly disagree with that sentiment: Saving daylight is awesome, and we should do it all year.

First, to dispel the most common misconception: Farmers have nothing to do with daylight saving time. It was introduced in World War I, first by the Germans, who fancied it a clever way to save fuel for the war effort. The idea quickly caught on and soon, everyone was doing it. Many countries reverted back to standard time after the war, only to pick up daylight saving again during World War II. Daylight saving time is now used in over 70 countries worldwide, although the beginning and end dates vary from country to country.

Because daylight saving time was essentially established for historical reasons that have little bearing on modern society, and because the actual energy savings of turning the clocks forward has since been hotly contested, many folks will argue that we should do away with daylight saving time altogether. On the other hand, why can’t we rid ourselves of standard time—which, by the way, only encompasses about four months of the year at this point—and enjoy longer evenings year round? Here are three reasons why the latter option makes a lot more sense.

Shifting the Clocks is Bad for Us

A growing body of research indicates that switching the clocks back or forward can have adverse health effects, by disrupting our sleep patterns and leading to short-term sleep deprivation. For instance, a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that the incidence of heart attacks is significantly higher for the first three days after the transition to daylight saving time in the spring. Risk of heart attack was also higher on the first weekday following the transition out of daylight saving time in the fall. A study published last year corroborated this find, revealing a 21-25% jump in heart attack incidence on the first workday after switching the clocks.

Longer Days Are Safer Days

If turning the clocks either direction is a source of undue insomnia and stress, one might argue that we simply abolish daylight saving time. But a forthcoming paper authored by researchers at Brookings Institution and Cornell suggests the opposite.

According to this study, making daylight saving time permanent could dramatically reduce the number of rapes and robberies, which most often occur in the evening commuting hours between 5 and 8 pm. The researchers note that when Congress increased the period of daylight saving time by four weeks in 2007, “robbery rates for the entire day fall an average of 7 percent, with a much larger 27 percent drop during the evening hour that gained some extra sunlight.” This led to an estimated annual social cost savings of $59 million.

And no, the drop in evening crime wasn’t compensated by an increase in morning assaults. Criminals (shocker) don’t appear to be early birds.

We All Like Daylight!

How many people do you know who look forward to spending their entire evening in darkness four months out of the year? Commuting home in darkness. Going on a run after work in darkness—or better yet, not, because it isn’t safe. Picking up your kids after school as the sun’s final fleeting rays bend distressingly low across the horizon. When the sky goes dark before you’ve finished your daily grind and gotten a chance to relax, an irresistible little voice starts whispering in your ear. You know the one I’m talking about. “Don’t even bother going out and enjoying the world,” the voice says. “It’s been a long day. There’s a frozen pizza in your freezer. There’s a new season of Supernatural on Netflix.” How many hours of human creativity and productivity have been wasted in the name of inexplicably early evenings we can only imagine.

Daylight saving time might have a weird, misguided origin story, but that doesn’t make standard time better. If there’s one thing nearly all human beings will agree on, it’s that we like the goddamn Sun. Let’s stop needlessly wasting it.

Follow the author @themadstone

Top image: Phil Dolby / Flickr

4 Disturbing Hauntings That Had a Totally Logical Explanation

4 Disturbing Hauntings That Had a Totally Logical Explanation

Widespread accounts of otherworldly visitations leave people convinced that ghost stories are real, but many are outright scams, hoaxes or accidents. Let’s debunk some famous supernatural scares, shall we?

4 Disturbing Hauntings That Had a Totally Logical Explanation

The Fox Sisters

In 1848, the Fox Sisters of Hydesville, NY, helped kick off the Spiritualist craze that swept America. Two young girls named Margaret (15) and Kate (12) started to hear mysterious “rapping” noises and eventually developed an extraordinary ability to communicate with the spirits responsible. Their communion was such that the spirits would answer questions about all sorts of things through a code of taps.

At first no one could figure out where the noises were coming from, and they followed Margaret and Kate wherever they went. The girls passed “tests” to make sure they weren’t faking the phenomenon, like being searched and having their hands tied. Their fame grew enormously; they performed their spiritual communiques for huge crowds and had famous fans like Sojourner Truth, William Lloyd Garrison and Horace Greeley. Their tours across America helped inspire millions of people to take up Spiritualist beliefs—the idea that the dead are still around us and are waiting to communicate through a proper medium.

At the height of their renown, however, the Fox sisters’ spirit friends also met with many skeptics, who noticed that the sounds appeared to be emerging from underneath the girls’ long skirts. Professors, reporters and reverends declaimed them as frauds, but the Foxes insisted on their special abilities for decades. Later in life, Margaret Fox, who had converted to Catholicism, denounced her “powers” as diabolical and demonstrated to a live audience how the deception was perpetrated: the “raps” came from the cracking of toe joints. In 1888—40 years after the first Hydesville “haunting”—Margaret Fox signed a confession:

“My sister Katie was the first to observe that by swishing her fingers she could produce certain noises with her knuckles and joints, and that the same effect could be made with the toes. Finding that we could make raps with our feet—first with one foot and then with both—we practiced until we could do this easily when the room was dark. Like most perplexing things when made clear, it is astonishing how easily it is done.”

[Wikipedia]

4 Disturbing Hauntings That Had a Totally Logical Explanation

The Curse of King Tut

“Death shall come on swift wings to him who disturbs the peace of the king” was the alleged “curse” found when archaeologists opened the tomb of King Tutankhamun in 1922. And several members of the exhibition did die, each one adding fuel to the legend’s fire. The death cited most often is the passing of Lord Carnarvon, the British Earl and amateur Egyptologist who bankrolled the search in the Valley of the Kings.

A year after Carnarvon and archaeologist Howard Carter discovered vast treasure and the golden sarcophagus of the boy-king Tut, Carnarvon received a mosquito bite. This seemingly normal bite became infected by a cut from a razor, and soon Carnarvon lay dead in a Cairo hotel of blood-poisoning—or was it Tut’s ghostly vengeance, reaching through the centuries?

It was totally blood-poisoning. Howard Carter, who opened the tomb and the king’s sarcophagus with his own hands, lived for 16 years after the event. While others connected to Tut’s discovery did die, some under strange conditions, it was no more than could be expected considering the number of people attached to the expedition and the state of medicine in the 1920s. The media helped spread the “Mummy’s curse” narrative, but the hoax was on them: years later it was revealed the story was spread and encouraged by the expedition in order to keep thieves—and the media—away from Tut’s tomb.

[LiveScience]

4 Disturbing Hauntings That Had a Totally Logical Explanation

The Amityville Horror

One of America’s best-known hauntings centers around a stately colonial house in Amityville, NY. Events surrounding the house were turned into Jay Anson’s bestselling novel The Amityville Horror and subsequent films, which traded on the notion that the Amityville hauntings actually happened.

The truthful part of Amityville’s story is ghastly enough. In 1974, Ronald DeFeo murdered his entire family—parents and four siblings—inside the house. Then it gets more murky. In 1975, the Lutz family moved into the house, with full knowledge of what had happened there. Soon, the family, especially the parents Kathy and George, claimed all sorts of supernatural afflictions, including:

Mysterious voicesAn unseen brass bandWindows and doors opening and closing on their ownPlagues of fliesPhantoms of hooded formsGreen slime seeping from ceiling and wallsOffensive stenchesCold and hot spotsObjects moving by themselvesMysterious cloven hoof prints in the snowGeorge possessed by an evil spiritTelephone service affectedThe priest who tried to help being attackedKathy beaten and scratchedPersonality changesAn incubusEncounters with Jody, a demonic ghostly pig

Alas, there was no demonic ghostly pig named Jody. The Lutzes had conspired with DeFeo’s attorney William Weber and come up with the fantastical hoax, which benefitted all financially through book and movie deals—as well as the possibility of a new trial for Ronald DeFeo. The whole thing was a scam, with both the family’s story and Anson’s book riddled with discrepancies and errors. Later, Weber admitted that he and the Lutzes “created this horror story over many bottles of wine.”

[Decoded Past, Snopes]

4 Disturbing Hauntings That Had a Totally Logical Explanation

The Haunting of H. House

The H. House also tells the story of a family that moves into a frightening abode and starts to experience all manner of hair-raising events. In 1912, the family occupied a “large, rambling, high-studded house, built around 1870, and much out of repair.” Almost at once the parents, children, and members of staff reported gloomy depressions, wretched sleep, hearing voices and ghostly footsteps, seeing frightening apparitions, and the sound of pealing, unseen bells. The mother started to have terrible headaches and became weak and worn. She later wrote:

I grew more tired and indifferent to everything, and also felt very cold in the evenings, and wore shawls and scarves most of the time. The children seemed so poorly and I was so tired, I took them away the day after Christmas for the holidays.

While we were away, G was frequently disturbed at night. Several times he was awakened by a bell ringing, but on going to the front and back doors, he could find no one at either. Also several times he was awakened by what he thought was the telephone bell. One night he was roused by hearing the fire department dashing up the street and coming to a stop nearby. He hurried to the window and found the street quiet and deserted.

It had always been G’s habit at night before going to bed to sit in the dining room and eat some fruit. In this house when seated at night at the table with his back to the hall, he invariably felt as if someone was behind him, watching him.

Mrs. H.’s account of the horrible events that beset her family and servants makes for a harrowing read. In all of their experiences, the afflictions are very real, as is the increasingly wretched physical and mental health of the house’s occupants. Unlike Amityville, there was no scam afoot and the family was justifiably scared... just for the wrong reasons.

G’s brother told us that he thought we were all being poisoned; that several years before he had read an article which told how a whole family had been poisoned by gas and had had the most curious delusions and experiences.

Upon examination, the furnace at H. house was found to be faulty, and was pouring carbon monoxide gas throughout the house. Carbon monoxide poisoning causes sickness and hallucinations of the sort the family experienced. As soon as the furnace was fixed, their haunted house became a regular home.

[Blastr]

“Many houses have been condemned as haunted, and avoided by the weak and credulous, from circumstances the most trifling in themselves, and which only wanted a vigorous mind to clear up at once, and dissipate all alarm,” wrote Charles Mackay in his insanely badass 1841 guide for skeptics, Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds. Mackay covers hoaxes, charlatans, and moral panics across the ages. He has no at all time for ghosts and he eviscerates popular hauntings, showing that they were most often found to be caused by such diabolical fiends as rats in the walls, structural conditions, and deliberate fraud.

We recommend perusing the pages of this wonderful book and reading Mackay in place of the usual horror stories this Halloween. With vivid tales of alchemists, Crusaders, witch-hunters and—yes—alleged hauntings, the real activities people get up to are more eye-popping and hair-raising than anything the spirit world has to offer.

Top image via Shutterstock

Contact the author at kaila@gizmodo.com, or follow on Twitter @kailahalestern

Custom Quick Settings Creates Your Own Settings Tiles in Android Marshmallow

Android: The Quick Settings shade is a handy tool for toggling your hardware settings. Now, Custom Quick Settings lets you add your own tiles to quickly do all kinds of things.

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