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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Did Ancient People Have Advanced Technology?


For thousands of years, humans have been resourceful, making tools out of stone, wood, clay, and metal. In the land that is now occupied by Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Iran was once a highly fertile region dominated by ancient civilizations. It was from this land that the first civilization is thought to have originated. From there, civilization is said to have gradually progressed up to the present level of technology. It is commonly thought that prior to the Mesopotamian culture, humans were primitive cave dwellers. But, is this really the case?

The Bagdad Battery

In the central region of the Mesopotamia lies a country that has had much history. A country that has seen the rise and fall of great empires, a country that has been a subject throughout the Bible, Iraq (ancient Babylon) is not a location one would think advanced technology could be unearthed from. A short distance from Baghdad, the capital of Iraq, in the village of Khujut Rabbou'a, a German archeologist who was the director of the National Museum of Iraq, Wilhelm Konig made a unique discovery. In 1936, workers excavating the ruins of Kujut Rabbou'a, an ancient village near Baghdad, unearthed a pot made of yellow clay (6). gives this description for the object:

A 6-inch-high pot of bright yellow clay dating back two millennia contained a cylinder of sheet-copper 5 inches by 1.5 inches. The edge of the copper cylinder was soldered with a 60-40 lead-tin alloy comparable to today's solder. The bottom of the cylinder was capped with a crimped-in copper disk and sealed with bitumen or asphalt. Another insulating layer of asphalt sealed the top and also held in place an iron rod suspended into the center of the copper cylinder. The rod showed evidence of having been corroded with an acidic agent [sic]. (6)

This mysterious object naturally drew the curiosity of the director of the National Museum of Iraq. Upon discovering the object in the museum’s collection, Konig published a paper in 1940 on his reasons for believing that the object was an ancient battery. He speculated that it, along with nearly a dozen other similar batteries, was used for electroplating gold onto silver objects (6). Other experts have concurred with Konig (6). Willard F.M. Gray, learned about Konig’s hypothesis and put it to the test. In 1940, he constructed a replica of the battery and filled it with a copper sulfate solution. The battery produced half a volt of electricity. Other replicas of the Baghdad battery, using grape juice as an electrolyte to transmit the electric current, have produced a current of just under one volt per battery (6). Arne Eggebrecht, the director of Roemer and Pelizaeus Museum in Hildesheim (16), constructed a replica of the Baghdad battery in the 1970s (6). Using fresh grape juice in his replica--what he considered to be a more authentic electrolyte than that used by Gray--Eggebrecht succeeded in producing 0.87 volts (6). Then, Eggebrecht connected several of these replicas together with wire. Using the series of connected batteries, he claimed to have deposited a thin layer of silver--one ten thousandth of a millimeter thick--on another surface (16). Some skeptics have said that the copper cylinder was used for storing scrolls, but have not been able to account for the corroded iron rod and the asphalt or bitumen cap and why all three components were found together.

The Antikythera Mechanism

computer rendering
Some decades before the discovery of the Bagdad batteries, an object that had rested on the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea for thousands of years, had been discovered by divers off the coast of Crete, causing many historians to change their views on ancient history. In 1901, a team of divers were in search of sea sponges between the coasts of Crete and mainland Greece. They got a real surprise when they discovered a sunken ship with treasure onboard: treasure unlike anything they had expected. Inside a wooden box was an object made of many corroded, bronze gears (5). When scientists x-rayed the artifact, they found that it was composed of approximately 30 gears (22). In 1959, after much research on the Antikythera Mechanism, Derek Price, a British historian, theorized that the mechanism was used for astronomy to make calculations. According to, the “complexity of the gears found within the Antikythera Mechanism baffled scientists, since this type of ‘technology’ was not though to have been in existence until around 1575” (5). Scientists have determined that the ancient device was built around 87 B.C. (22). Many scientists have built on Price’s work, agreeing that the Antikythera Mechanism was a kind of early computing device. It proves that ancient people knew that the Earth orbited around the Sun (5). It also shows that while some philosophers, such as Aristotle, believed that the Sun orbited around the earth, others knew better.

Ancient Egyptian Model Plane?

Ancient technologies are not limited to instruments such as batteries or calculators. Rare and astounding artifacts have been found around the world that suggest that the ancients may have not only used wind and muscle power for transportation. In 1898, archeologists excavating a tomb near Saqqara, Egypt discovered a small wooden object that looked somewhat similar to a bird. The object was stored in the basement of the Cairo museum and forgotten. At the time, operational planes had yet to be invented and the Wright brothers had not made their famous flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. According to the standard view, the first lighter-than-air flight had been achieved by two Frenchmen in a hot-air balloon, in the 1780s (21). When the wooden object was rediscovered years later and put on display, it was labeled as a model airplane (4). In the 1970s, a team of Egyptologists was formed to investigate the object. Because it strongly resembled a plane, a group of aviation experts was assembled to study the object’s aerodynamics and structure (14). After much research, they concluded that it was a glider. When they threw it into the air to see if it would glide, the small craft did so gracefully and with ease (14). When Dr. Khalil Messiha, an expert on ancient models, studied the ancient glider, he concluded that it had very advanced aerodynamics and was similar to modern pusher-gliders that require very little power to stay airborne (21). One interesting question arises: Is it possible that this glider was actually a model of an aircraft that the Egyptians planned on building or had built?

Strange Embossed Images in the Temple of Abydos

Corroborating evidence for the idea that the ancient Egyptians might have constructed aircraft can be found in the ancient temple of Abydos, Egypt. One of the most controversial and interesting finds relating to the idea that the ancient Egyptians might have had or known about aircraft was made by Dr. Ruth Hover, during a trip to Egypt. Dr. Ruth Hover and her husband visited the temple of Abydos, snapping pictures as they wandered through the vast complex. She photographed a wall that had remained after an overlying section had crumbled and fallen off of it (14). This older section revealed strange, embossed images of what appeared to be aerial vehicles. Others, who had heard about Hover’s discovery, went to Egypt, to the temple of Abydos, and confirmed that the embossed images were real, snapping their own pictures, proving that Hover had not created a hoax (21). One of these embossed images resembles a helicopter, having a distinct helicopter-like tail, a tapering fuselage, rotor blades, and a cockpit. No insect or bird even remotely resembles the shape of the “helicopter” image. Skeptics claim that the images are actually palimpsests, the combination of two or more overlapping hieroglyphics (21). These same skeptics, however, have no way of scientifically explaining how the pyramids were built. (We will look into that a little later.) Were these images depicting ancient aircraft, or were they depicting something else, or were they just palimpsests? There is not enough evidence to prove or disprove any of the above possibilities, but the possible connection to the ancient glider model is interesting.

Unusual Golden Artifacts

Monday, November 21, 2011

Did Ancient People Believe that Dinosaurs Were Contemporaries of Humankind?

Did Ancient People Believe that Dinosaurs Were Contemporaries of Humankind?

Like cultures today, ancient people created artwork based on real-life subjects. Many cave paintings (pictographs) and petroglyphs (shallow rock carvings) depict scenes from battles (24), ancient people performing various rituals (36), (and fauna, such as buffalo, seen by the native peoples. Sculptures, mosaics, figurines, and carvings made by people hundreds or thousands of years ago also depict some strange creatures that seem to closely resemble what we might call dinosaurs. This leads to a fascinating question: Did ancient cultures believe that dinosaurs were contemporaries of humankind and did they claim to see such creatures?

The Acambaro Figurines

In the summer of 1944, a German merchant, Waldemar Julsrud, made a discovery that has caused a stir in the scientific community (35). It was July 1944 and Waldemar Julsrud was riding his horse along the lower slope of El Toro Mountain near the town of Acambaro, Mexico, when he noticed something unusual poking out of the dirt (35). Dismounting, he tore into the ground and unearthed a few ceramic objects unlike anything he had ever seen before (35). His discovery led to the excavation of over 33,500 ceramic, stone, and jade figurines and artifacts (35).

Charles Hapgood, a professor of anthropology and history at Keene State College, learned about the figurines and decided that he would see them for himself (35). After investigating and researching the figurines for 18 years, and after seeing more of the objects turn up when workers dug in certain locations he determined, Hapgood, a self-confessed skeptic (35), authored a book on the Acambaro figurines: Mystery in Acambaro: Did Dinosaurs Survive Until Recently? No longer a skeptic about the origin and authenticity of the ancient figurines, Charles Hapgood believes that they were made by an ancient culture. At the same place where the artifacts were discovered, the teeth of an extinct horse, the skeleton of a mammoth, and human skulls were also unearthed (35). The fact that many of these unique figurines resemble dinosaurs has been a reason the majority of the scientific community has ignored the discovery, passing it off as a hoax.

Shang Dynasty "Saurolophus"

Besides the major discovery in Acambaro, a number of other figurines from other ancient cultures have sparked debate or been ignored by the majority of the scientific community. An artifact from the Shang Dynasty is described by Genesis Park website as a creature that "displays relief lines in a scale-like pattern, a broad beak, a dermal frill, and a headcrest that is strikingly like the dinosaur Saurolophus ..." (1). According to Genesis Park, the dinosaur-like figure "was advertised on the Chinese antiquities market as a dinosaur depiction" (1). Concerning it's authenticity, Genesis Park declares that: "This jade statute, now in the Genesis Park collection, is made of white colored nephrite with differential weathering, cleaving veins and earth penetration, demonstrating authenticity …" (1).
Besides the Acambaro figurines and the Shang Dynasty saurolophus, there are more examples of possible dinosaur-like figurines from ancient cultures that could be mentioned such as the figurine of a Dogon tribesman, from Africa, riding a strange, "prehistoric" creature or the painted pots and vases from the Moche tribe of South America. According to Genesis Park, the Moche tribe ceramics display "with singular realism medical acts, combative events, musical instruments, plants and animals" (1). Some of these painted vases and pots have what appear to be realistic dinosaurs painted on their clay surfaces (1). The Moche tribe pottery collection is currently located in the Larco Herrera Museum in Peru (1).

The Ica Stones

Besides clay, ancient humans used stone and metal to artistically record objects, events, or animals they had witnessed. They also carved images into individual rocks. An example of this can be found in the controversial Ica Stones discovered by Dr. Javier Cabrera outside of the town of Ica. Over the years, Dr. Cabrera had amassed a huge collection of stones with strange carvings in their surfaces depicting people and dinosaur-like creatures living together. Referring to Dr. Cabrera's collection, Josef F. Blumrich, a NASA scientist, said, "I am deeply impressed by what I have seen here, and I am happy to have found so much direct evidence of what I began to feel and understand before. There is not doubt in my mind about the authenticity of these stones" (10). Unfortunately, there is no way of scientifically determining whether or not the stones are ancient. Because of their controversial nature, Dr. Cabrera has received a lot of condescension by the scientific community (4).

The Granby Idol

A discovery made in 1920 by a rancher outside the town of Granby, Colorado bears the unique appellation "the Granby Idol". Bud Chalmers was removing rocks from his ranch one day when he lifted one that weighed more than he expected. Curious, he decided to wash it off. After the coating of dust and dirt had been removed, a set of grooves appeared in the rock. A crude, smiling face surrounded by strange symbols appeared on one side of the rock (22). On the reverse side of the stone, to Bud Chalmers amazement, the distinct carvings of a long-necked dinosaur and a woolly mammoth appeared (22). As an interesting note, Dr. Cyclone Covey, who wrote a book about the possibility that the ancient Chinese had come to America, studied photographs of the stone and identified the symbols carved into the stone as belonging to the ancient Chinese (22).

Mesopotamian Cylinder Seal

Another ancient artifact, created by carving into a stone chunk, that provides a clue that the ancients believed dinosaurs existed with them is a Mesopotamian cylinder seal, estimated to come from the year 3,300 B.C. (13). The seal displays two long-necked animals--that strikingly resemble modern renderings of a sauropod dinosaur--entwining their necks and tails. The shape of the muscles and length of the necks and tails of the creatures are remarkably realistic. One can only logically conclude that the artists who created the seal would have had to have seen either a representation of a dinosaur or a living specimen to make such an accurate depiction. The imagination alone could not produce such accuracy.

The Anasazi Dinosaur Petroglyph

Depictions of dinosaurs are not limited to figurines, stones, or cylindrical seals. Ancient dinosaur artwork has been found on cliff sides, on walls, and in buildings. Petroglyphs and pictographs made by ancient tribes depict strange creatures that do not match up with any that are known to exist today. In Natural Bridges National Monument, Utah, a very interesting petroglyph that resembles a sauropod (long-neck dinosaur) has raised eyebrows and questions. The petroglyph is attributed to the Anasazi Indians who lived in that area during the 1300s A.D. (15). Like the creators of the other relics mentioned above, the Anasazi Indians' ability to create such rock art could only be explained if the Anasazi Indians had actually seen a living dinosaur. The first complete dinosaur skeleton was discovered by William Parker Foulke in 1858, in Haddonfield, New Jersey (17). That is more than five-hundred years after the Anasazi Indian tribe left the area in which the dinosaur petroglyph was discovered.

The Water Panther Pictograms

Found on different cliff faces near the Great Lakes, another interesting native representation of a dinosaur-like creature draws the attention of curious hikers. The creature is called the water panther. The Sioux Indians believe that this creature inhabits the Missouri River. Vine Deloria, author of Red Earth, White Lies: Native Americans and the Myth of Scientific Fact, reports in his book what members of the Sioux tribe have said about the legendary creature. The creature had a backbone "just like a crosscut saw" and "in the middle of its forehead was one horn" (7). The pictograms of this creature show an animal with a jagged back similar to a dinosaur's back, and two horns protruding from its head. It looks strikingly like a triceratops, a member of the family Ceratopsidae, or a horned dinosaur of some kind.

Angkor Wat "Secret"

Representations of dinosaurs on large, flat surfaces are not limited to pictographs and petroglyphs on cliff sides. Some ancient buildings have eye-opening features either cut into or affixed to their walls and floors. One of the most clear examples of this can be found in the mysterious, ancient ruins of Angkor Wat. Richard Sobol, author of The Mysteries of Angkor Wat: Exploring Cambodia's Ancient Temple, wrote about his experience exploring the ancient temple. A group of kids he met wanted to show him a "secret" (29). They led him over to a rock wall filled with carvings. Richard Sobol writes, "I moved closer, and saw there, on the wall, carved inside a circle, a creature that could only be described as a dinosaur--a stegosaurus, in fact" (29). The image he took of the dinosaur, which is carved into a circle within the wall, resembles a stegosaurus. Whether or not it is a stegosaurus, it does have some of the distinct features of the family Stegosauridae: triangular plates on its back and tale, four muscular legs, a head attached to a short neck, a large body, and a thick tail.

The Tomb of Richard Bell

Another oddity is found in the tomb of a fifteenth-century bishop at Carlisle, Richard Bell. A brass fillet, dating back to the 1400s, runs around the perimeter of his tomb. Engraved into its metal surface are various animals such as a dog, a fish, an eel, a bird, a pig, etc (8). What is really intriguing is the engraving of what appear to be two long-necked creatures with long tails apparently struggling with each other. All the creatures in the tomb are fairly accurately portrayed, so it is most likely that these creatures were accurately portrayed as well (8). Having long necks, four legs, and thick, long tails, the creatures appear to be sauropods (8). No animal that we know of today fits that description.

The Nile Mosaic of Palestrina Mosaic

An incredible and yet very real mosaic from ancient Italy, the Nile Mosaic of Palestrina is a huge image that was originally set into the floor of the Sanctuary of Fortuna Primigenia, which is located in Palestrina, Italy (9). Currently located in the Museo Nazionale Prenestino in Rome (20), the Nile Mosaic of Palestrina displays various scenes from the Nile River, showing life in Egypt during the Roman Empire. This mosaic is notable not only for its historical value but also for its depictions of strange creatures. One creature clearly looks like a large dinosaur resting on a rock, and the human figures standing beside it are small in comparison.

The "Hunt" Mosaic

A most intriguing mosaic from the same era was discovered in the ancient city of Pompeii, Italy. It was in the year 79 A.D., on the 24th of August, that Mount Vesuvius erupted, sending a hot cloud of vocanic ash through the city of Pompeii, preserving the ancient relics and artifacts within (9). It was from the house of a rich physician in this city that the "Hunt" mosaic was discovered. The mosaic shows people interacting with, or hunting, reptiles and large animals. The most unique aspect of this mosaic is the fact that the creatures are not normal animals one would expect to find. A man is riding atop a large reptile with vertical plates along the ridge of its back. The creature is not a poor fascimile of a crocodile because, elsewhere in the same mosaic, an accurately rendered crocodile is seen resting on a bank (9). Why more people are not aware of these amazing pieces of history appears to be due to an intentional suppression of the existence of these ancient Roman mosaics. If both these mosaics, all the abovementioned artifacts, engravings, and artwork were actually studied by unbiased scientists, historians, and other experts, and judged without any preconceived beliefs regarding the nature of the objects, then history books would likely have to be rewritten.
Considering the evidence above, a few questions emerge. Did ancient cultures believe that dinosaurs existed with humankind? Did ancient people actually see dinosaurs and encounter them? If so, did they tell their descendents what they witnessed?

Stories passed down by word of mouth--some of them originating apparently not that long ago--have come out of remote jungles and wilderness areas as western civilization has expanded to distant lands. Such information by word of mouth has come from the Australian Aboriginees, a people who have lived in the sub-continent for thousands of years. According to the Aboriginees, a number of large and powerful creatures once inhabited the vast expanse of Australia.

The Bunyip

In July 1845, and article appeared in the Geelong Advertiser of Victoria, Australia (12). It described the discovery of an un-fossilized bone of an unknown, giant animal. When the bone was shown to different, separate Aboriginal tribes, they all immediately identified it as a "bunyip" bone. The tribes were quite distant from each other and had no way of communicating with each other (12). According to their descriptions of the "bunyip", the animal was big, laid eggs, could walk on two feet, and was considered dangerous (Driver). According to the Aboriginees, the "bunyip" had "the characteristics of a bird and an alligator" (12). One native claimed that some deep scars in his skin were caused by a "bunyip" (12).

The Yarru

The Kuku Yalanji is a tribe located in rainforest of Far North Queensland, Australia (12). A missionary, Dennis Fields, learned from the elders of the Kuku Yalanji that a creature called the "Yarru" used to live in large waterholes in the rainforest (12). When Dennis Fields asked a tribal artist to paint the "Yarru" for him, the result was astonishing. The artist, who had no knowledge of what textbook dinosaurs or extinct creatures were supposed to look like, created a painting that was an accurate portrayal of what appeared to be a plesiosaurus (12). The painting was based entirely on the descriptions passed down to the tribal artist from ancient stories (12).

The Kultra

A creature that is described as a quadruped with a long neck and a long, pointed tail is said, by the Central Australian aboriginal tribes, to have lived in swamps which once covered the region. The Aborigines call this creature the "Kultra" (12). From the descriptions they give, it appears to be a type of sauropod.

The Mokele-mbembe

Thousands of miles away from the jungles of Australia, another rainforest spreads its leafy canopy over a vast area. The Congo Basin covers 1.5 million square miles with a swamp-filled jungle (3). Filling up a large portion of the Congo Basin, the Likouala Swamp is the largest swamp in the world (21). Covering roughly 55,000 square miles, an area larger than the state of Florida, the Likouala Swamp has been officially declared by the People's Republic of the Congo to be 80% unexplored (21). Over the years, starting in the year 1776 and up to the present time, people who have traveled to the Congo and talked to the native people have heard about a large creature that the natives call the "Mokele-mbembe" (21).

Various expeditions sent by different countries into the Congo have heard strange sounds coming from the jungle and have seen unusual footprints in the ground. A few have claimed to have actually seen the "Mokele-mbembe". In 1932, Gerald Russel, an animal trader, and Ivan T. Sanderson, a world famous zoologist at the time, were paddling up the Mainyu River in the Congo Basin. Suddenly, a large head, attached to a thick, "swan-like" neck, rose from the water (21). For a few seconds, the creature stared at the two men. Sanderson would later sum up his encounter with these startling words: "I don't know what we saw, but the animal, the monster, burned itself into my retinas. It looked like something that ought to have been dead millions of years ago. As a scientist, I should have been happy, of course, but this encounter was so frightening, so nasty that I never want to see it again" (21).

The natives describe the creature as being generally reddish-brown and about the size of an elephant, with a long neck and a long tail. It is known to devour plants and leave behind rounded tracts with three, prominent claws (21). Thus, it is a herbivore. These descriptions strongly suggest that the creature is a sauropod dinosaur (21).

The Thunderbird

Tribal people from Africa and Australia are not the only ones to have passed down stories about dinosaur-like creatures. Legends about large, scaly reptiles can be found in many ancient cultures. China, Europe, and the Middle East have tales about dragons. Though mythicized, the accounts of large reptiles capable of killing humans can hardly be the result of some highly imaginative people around the world who all happen to imagine very similar creatures. Though they do not have stories about dragons, Native American tribes, isolated from the rest of the world by giant oceans, have stories about dinosaur-like creatures. The Thunderbird is one such creature. The Thunderbird is claimed to have a huge wingspan and claws that it uses to pick up people. The belief is that the Thunderbird causes storms. Over the years many people have claimed to see a giant bird or pterodactyl flying through the air. As recently as the 2000s, people have claimed to have seen large, flying creatures. In the year 2001, several sightings of huge, "grayish-black", winged creatures were seen on June 13, July 6, and September 25, by various witnesses, in the state of Pennsylvania (32).

The Ogopogo

Besides the Thunderbird and the Water Panther (mentioned earlier), Native Americans also have another legend about a dinosaurian creature they called the "N'ha-A-Itk", which is commonly called the "Ogopogo". According to Native American legends about the N'ha-A-Itk, a "demon-possessed man" killed a tribal elder on the shores of a lake near his home (28). Completing his dastardly deed, he ran away, fearing retribution. Angered at the murderer, the gods captured the demon-possessed man, turned him into a "serpent", and cast him into the lake (which later was called Lake Okanagan) (28). He was to remain forever at the scene of the murder, as punishment. People who lived near the lake called the creature N'ha-A-Itk (28). It was later that the moniker Ogopogo was more commonly used, which was based on a line from an old song. To this day, sightings of a creature in Lake Okanagan have been reported (28). Besides Lake Okanagan, Lake Champlain, Lock Ness, and other lakes have had sightings of large creatures. Is it possible that some people actually have seen dinosaurian creatures in these lakes and have not been hallucinating or imagining what they have seen?

Ancient petroglyphs, pictographs, figurines, carvings, mosaics, stones, engravings, and legends on the subject of dinosaurian creatures are all interesting and intriguing pieces of possible evidence that dinosaurs may have (or possibly still do) lived as contemporaries of man. A question arises: If dinosaurs really had lived with humankind, explorers, scientists, or archeologists would most likely have found some remains or evidence to concretely prove it, correct?


In 1999, Tyler Lyson, 16 at the time, was walking through the Hell Creek Formation badlands of North Dakota (25). His eyes locked onto a strange object protruding from a hill. As he looked at it longer, he realized it was a dinosaur bone. Five years later, excavation on the site began. On December 3, 2007, scientists announced to the world the discovery of a nearly intact, mummified hadrosaur, nicknamed "Dakota". According to an article from, the dinosaur's "entire skin envelope appears to remain largely intact (25)." Phil Manning a paleontologist at University of Manchester (in England) who was leading the examination of "Dakota" said that the integrity of the skin envelope suggests that Dakota may have other "soft-tissue remnants" such as organs and muscles (25).


Discovered by a Judith River Dinosaur Institute expedition in the year 2000, and presented to the world in 2002, Leonardo is a duck-billed dinosaur (or a brachylophosaurus) that "will advance our science a quantum leap", according to Nate Murphy, curator of paleontology at the Phillips County Museum in Montana (18). The brachylophosaurus is estimated to have been either 3 or 4 years old when it died (37). Leonardo's muscles, skin, scales, foot pads, and a stomach are still intact. Skin scales and tissue have been found on less than a tenth of one percent of all the dinosaurs excavated over the years (18). Amazingly, 90 percent of Leonardo's skeleton is covered in soft tissue, such as a beak, nails, skin, and muscles (18). The actual tissue cells have been replaced by minerals, but the stomach contains a partially digested meal and scientists can actually see what exact plants the dinosaur had eaten (18). Ferns, magnolias, conifers, and the pollen of more than 40 different plants form the contents of the animal's stomach. It is likely that these all mineralized slowly over millions and millions of years without decaying?

B. rex

Discovered in the year 2000, the skeleton of a young, 18-year-old Tyranosaurus Rex (19) has drawn a lot of attention from scientists and laymen alike. The dinosaur skeleton was named "B. rex" after Bob Harmon, chief preparator of paleontology at the Museum of the Rockies, who discoverer it (2). Because the dinosaur was too large to take by helicopter, it had to be broken in pieces (19). As a result, a thighbone was cracked open and Mary Higby Schweitzer and her team were able to examine the interior of the bone (19). What they discovered has shaken the scientific community, causing scientists to reconsider their long-held beliefs about dinosaurs. Inside the bone were life-like tissues that should not have been inside a "65 million"-year-old Tyrannosaurus Rex (39). According to an article in Discover Magazine, Schweitzer found "supple bone cells, their three-dimensional shapes intact; and translucent blood vessels that looked as if they could have come straight from an ostrich at the zoo (39)." Hillary Mayell of National Geographic wrote about the discovery: "The vessels resemble blood vessels, cells, and the protein matrix that bodies generate when bones are being formed (19)." If the dinosaur was indeed 65 million years old, how could the actual cell tissues be preserved for so long? These tissues were not replaced by minerals and they were not mummified. Blood vessels, cells, and a protein matrix could hardly survive for a thousand years, much less a million. Is sixty-five million years with little decomposition possible?

The Age of B. rex

According to evolutionists, the earliest man (homo sapiens) existed in Africa nearly 200,000 years ago (23). The earliest form of civilization is considered, by evolutionists, to have come into existence 10,000 to 12,000 years ago (30). To get a picture of the length of time involved, imagine living to an old age of 100. Now, imagine, by some miracle, you keep going on and you make it to the age of 200. Say that scientists find a way to greatly extend human life spans and you get your life span extended so that you live a thousand of these 200-year-long life spans. You are now at an age equivalent to the time that has supposedly passed between the emergence of the earliest homo sapien and the present. You've live an incredibly long life. You've seen civilizations come and go, new buildings decompose into dust, animals become extinct, bodies die and rapidly decay into their constituent elements, and you've seen skeletons petrify. Now, imagine living 325 of these extremely long (200,000 year) life spans. You have finally reached the purported age of "B. rex". Think about all that time you spent and all the things you saw decay to dust. Does it make any sense at all that the cellular tissue within the bones of "B. rex" are millions and millions of years old? Is it possible that the methods evolutionists use to date dinosaur bones are erroneous?

When scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory used the Carbon dating method to find the age of some dinosaur bones, they came up with an age of only a few thousand years (31). Because this date did not fit their beliefs about the age of dinosaurs, they ignored their findings and decided to use other methods instead (31). Some of these results can differ from each other by as much as 150 million years (31).
Soft tissues normally decompose quickly after an organism dies (6).
Therefore, is it likely that blood vessels and soft tissues could continue to exist inside a dinosaur bone for millions of years? Scientists with evolutionary beliefs have scrambled to come up with a plausible and realistic explanation for how the soft tissue found within the thighbone of "B. rex" was preserved for what they assume to be 65 million years. So far, they have no explanation they all can agree on.


If one believes that dinosaurs died out millions of years ago, long before mankind came into existence, why does such an abundance of artifacts and legends on the subject of large, dinosaurian creatures, coming from ancient cultures around the world, exist? Is it possible that the figurines, stones, petroglyphs, pictographs, engravings, carvings, mosaics, and legends depicting and describing large reptile-like creatures are based on animals that ancient humans actually saw alive? Is it possible that our ancestors saw living dinosaurs and told stories about their encounters with the dinosaurs, passing down the tales by word of mouth? Could our methods for determining the age of dinosaurs be flawed? These are questions we need to ponder. The implications for the Theory of Evolution are numerous and profound. One such implication leads to an important question: Did humankind and dinosaurs live together instead of millions of years apart, as evolutionists claim? I leave my readers to come to their own conclusions based on the information presented in this article.

However, if one spends his (or her) life researching this information with an unwavering, adamant belief that God does not exist, he will not believe any new evidence that is stronger than what we presented. Nothing will change such a person's mind because he or she doesn't want to believe in God or be accountable to the Creator. God loves us and wants us to be with Him in Heaven, but He will not force us to believe in Him. We have the choice to accept God's free gift of eternal salvation and serve God or reject eternal salvation and serve ourselves, but the consequences of such a decision will be eternal.

The Bible says:

Revelation 20:10-15 (bold / underline added) 
10 And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever. 
11 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.  
12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.  
13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.  
14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.  
15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

If a person rejects Christ, he or she will be cast into the lake of fire. I don't write this to scare you. This is what the Bible teaches. I urge you to turn to Jesus and accept Him today as your personal Lord and Savior. Forsake sin and live.

Would you like to find out how to Know God's Name Personally?

IF YOU ARE SEEKING TO KNOW GOD, please read this message.

1 Timothy 2:5: “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;”  
Acts 4:12: “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” 
Ephesians 2:8-9:  
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 
9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.

God loves us so much that He sent His Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to die for our sins and shed His precious blood to pay for all of these sins. (See John 3:16; and 1 Corinthians 15:3-5; and Romans 5:8-11.)

If you repent (turn away) from your sins (Acts 3:19), and believe and confess aloud that Christ has done this for you (Romans 10:9-10), and have made Him your Lord and Savior (again Romans 10:9-10) you are saved.

Now seek God with all your heart. Seek to know Him and you will (Jeremiah 29:13).

John 17:3: "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.”  
Jeremiah 29:13: “And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.”  
John 14:6: “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”  
Acts 4:12: “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Harmful Effects of Watching Too Much TV

Used around the world by millions, arguably one of the most popular modern inventions created, television has changed the way people spend their evenings. The first television system that could both transmit and receive images was invented by Vladimir Zworkin in 1929 (Bellis). By 1936, roughly 200 television sets were receiving television broadcasts worldwide (Bellis). Since then, television has gained in popularity and appeal. Today, hundreds of television channels exist and millions of people around the world spend a lot of time watching TV. An important question arises: is all this time spent watching television beneficial or harmful?

One obvious result of watching television is the time it takes away from doing other things. According to a study conducted by The Nielsen Company recently, the average American watches 153 hours of TV each month ("Americans Watching More TV Than Ever”). That is roughly five hours per day. Using a little algebra, it is not hard to determine that a 75-year-old who, at the age of 10, started watching TV 5 hours per day will have spent a little more than 13 years of his or her lifetime in front of a television set. More than a decade of this senior citizen’s life would have gone by in front of a glowing screen.

The time spent in front of a television screen also includes time spent watching acts of violence, sex, vulgar actions, and profanity. According to the American Psychological Association, a 15-year study of 329 youth revealed that men who have watched violent TV shows as kids have been convicted of crimes at a rate triple the rate of other men ("Childhood Exposure to Media Violence”). Women who watched violent TV shows as kids were more likely to punch, choke, or beat another adult at a rate more than four times the rate of other women (“Childhood Exposure to Media Violence”). A study headed by Professor Jeffrey Johnson of Columbia University has recently come up with some astounding results. It was revealed that only 5.7 percent of children at the age of 14 become violent a few years later if they only watch an hour of TV per day ("Teen TV viewing 'linked to violence'"). But, 22.8 percent of the children who watch between 1 and 3 hours of TV each day become violent when they get older ("Teen TV viewing 'linked to violence'"). The percentage increases to 28.8 percent when the children watch more than 3 hours of TV (“Teen TV viewing 'linked to violence'"). This trend is disturbing, but not incredible, given that violent, R-rated movies are popular for both adults and even children.

Alarmingly, a September 2000 Federal Trade Commission report stated that 80 percent of all R-rated movies were being marketed to children under 17 years of age ("Media Violence: Facts & Statistics"). And, two-thirds of all Hollywood movies released in 2001 were rated R ("Media Violence: Facts & Statistics"). Therefore, two out of three movies were R-rated and most of them were being marketed to underage children. Is this really what society wants for the next generation?

Another disturbing fact is that the average 18-year-old has witnessed 200,000 violent acts and 16,000 murders ("Media Violence: Facts & Statistics"). Interestingly, the Bureau of Justice Statistics has claimed that 7,225,800 people, in total, were incarcerated, on parole, and on probation in the year 2009 (“Key Facts at a Glance”). In the year 1980 the total was 1,840,400 (“Key Facts at a Glance”). That is a significant increase. In less than three decades, the total has risen by nearly 293%. Part of this growth in the prison population could be due to the increasingly violent television shows, video games, and movies, among other things.

Besides influencing people to become more violent, television has had harmful and undesirable affects on the brain. According to the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, a study on the affects of TV on young children indicated that children under the age of 3, who watched an average of  2.2 hours of TV daily, did not perform very well on various reading tests for children in their age group (Zimmerman). The conclusion was that children younger than two years old should not be exposed to television at all (Zimmerman).

Aside from the harmful affects the television has on young children, TV produces a state in the brain that causes one to be highly receptive to suggestion (Moore). Scientists have measured the brain activity of people watching TV. It appears that a person’s brain slows down when one is watching a television screen, even if the screen is only displaying text (Moore). Because of this, people watching TV may be more likely to purchase a product advertised in a commercial since their brain is more open to suggestion.

So, how does the television set cause the brain to slow down and be more receptive to suggestion? The brain emits electromagnetic waves all the time as electro-chemical signals pass through its complex neural network. When the brain is in a normal state of alertness and consciousness, it emits beta brain waves (Heyrman). During a state of less activity, the brain emits alpha waves (Heyrman). Alpha brain waves are emitted when a hypnotist induces a person into a hypnotic state used for suggestion therapy (Moore). The brain also emits alpha waves when a person is watching television (Moore).

If this is not enough, the results of a recent study, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, indicates that for adults 25 or older, every hour spent watching TV will lower life expectancy by 22 minutes (Fiore). And, adults who spend a lifetime average of 6 hours in front of a TV set lose 4.8 years of their life expectancy (Veerman). So, not only is television harmful to young children’s developing minds, but it is also physically harmful to adults, causing them to have lower life expectancies. For many years, people have been aware of the physical consequences of smoking, but that was not always the case. Similarly, scientists have now revealed that what has appeared to be a harmless pastime is not as harmless as it seems.

A technology that has existed for more than seventy years, television has entertained millions of people around the world, from young children to the aged. If its early inventors could see the world today and the programs being watched on television sets, they would most likely be appalled. The time people spend watching television shows is time that can never be regained. A father who spends most of his evenings in front of a glowing screen is a father who is absent from his kids. If his children grow up watching a lot of violent programs on TV, they might end up with a criminal record later as an adult. Sadly, this has been the case for many households and is due, in part, to the influence of the television.

Imagine that someone uses a time machine to travel back to the time that the television was being invented and takes the inventors of the TV to the present time. If they were to see toddlers who are not developing their brains properly, the increase in violent crimes, and the statistics that adults would lose years of their lives because of their invention, what might the inventors of the television do? Would they continue working away to create a television set, or would they decide to burn their notes, drawings, and designs and forget about creating a device which would display moving images and sounds? Perhaps, if they had seen the future and had chosen the latter option, our world would be a better place.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Jules Verne: A Novelist Who Accurately Envisioned the Future

The future has been predicted by many people over the years, and some have been quite accurate in their predictions. In December of 1901, an article by Henry Litchfield West included his prediction that, “Aerial cars will ply between great centers of population, arriving and departing on fixed schedules and carrying their human cargoes (Hallion, pg.183).” Other people since and prior to West’s time have made accurate predictions, but very few have made accurate predictions within the framework of fiction like the visionary author, Jules Verne.

It was this world-famous French author, whose books have been translated into numerous languages, that has become known as the father of science fiction. Even today, the works of Jules Verne are popular and some of his books have been turned into movies, such as his books, Twenty-Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and Journey to the Center of the Earth. In both of these books and in most of his other ones, Verne employs the use of vivid, scientific descriptions and technology that did not exist at the time his books were written. Such works of fiction fall into the genre known as science fiction, a genre pioneered by Jules Verne, who is known by many as the father of science fiction. Some might argue that H.G. Wells is also the father of science fiction. H.G. Wells started publishing his books in the 1890s, several decades after Jules Verne’s famous works (which were first published in the 1860s) appeared on bookshelves. Before H.G. Wells had penned his first published novel, Verne was taking his readers on strange adventures through uncharted territories and mysterious lands. His novel Twenty-Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, published in 1869, explored the mysterious and hidden world beneath the sea, in a submarine: a vehicle that did not exist in the 1860s. In his novel From the Earth to the Moon, Jules Verne takes the reader on a journey through outer space in a space capsule, to visit the moon: something that would happen roughly a century later.

Unlike his other famous stories, which are more plausible, Jules Verne’s story about spelunking, Journey to the Center of the Earth, describes an underground cavern filled with a breathable atmosphere, huge mushrooms, a sea, dinosaurs, and giants. At the time of its creation, the geothermal gradient (the rate at which temperature increases with increasing depth in Earth’s interior) was not known and the technique of seismic reflection (the method of determining the density and type of material in the earth by means of creating an artificial seismic wave) had not been discovered yet. Today, the thought of sending such an expedition to the center of the earth is laughable and absurd, but not in Verne’s time. Despite breaking some scientific facts, Journey to the Center of the Earth still remains a well-read classic to this day. One might say, without making an overstatement, that Jules Verne was truly a creative genius who had a visionary and inventive mind that baffles us today with its phenomenal ingenuity and foresight.

His creative mind came up with ideas never thought of or penned down before: ideas which exist today as actual inventions. In an article titled In the Year 2889, published in 1889, he wrote about the future where people regularly communicated via a device that resembles the modern equivalent of video conferencing, where two or more parties can both see and hear each other live through computer or television screens. In this same article, Verne described a form of news that could be heard instead of read. Voices would replace newspaper print. This article was written several years before the first wireless transmission was made. It was on July 27, 1896 that the Italian inventor, Guglielmo Marconi, demonstrated to a small crowd wireless telegraphy for the first time.

Other fulfilled predictions Jules Verne has made include guns that can kill by means of electricity. In Twenty-Thousand Leagues Under the Sea,  Captain Nemo’s men use guns that fire spheres charged with electricity.  On impact, the projectiles release a lethal dose of electricity. A similar technology exists today, which is used by law enforcement officers. The Taser is a small device which can stun by sending electricity through a pair of electrodes that are fired into the skin of a person or animal. Another of Captain Nemo’s impressive devices is a backpack for breathing, used by Nemo’s divers. It was many decades later that the SCUBA tank was invented. But, the most profound technology described in Twenty-Thousand Leagues Under the Sea was the Nautilus, a submarine that ran on battery power. At the time Verne had written his story, no battery-powered submarines existed.

Besides his accurate predictions about underwater technology, Jules Verne has also made stunning predictions about space travel. In his book From the Earth to the Moon, first published in 1865, Cape Canaveral is the launching place for the first manned mission to the Moon, and a bullet-shaped space capsule is fired from a huge cannon. The space travelers, who occupy this capsule, orbit around the Moon and return to Earth. In a manner similar to how the Apollo 11 capsule landed in the Atlantic, their pod splashes down in the ocean. An interesting fact is that it was 104 years after Verne’s book was first published that Apollo 11 was launched, in 1969.

This incredibly accurate ability of Verne to predict the future is not limited to his famous works. One of Jules Verne’s books, which has been in hiding for 131 years, was published for the first time in 1994. Well ahead if its time, Paris in the Twentieth Century is a story that includes descriptions of glass skyscrapers, gasoline-powered cars, and fax machines. The story was set in the year 1960 and portrayed a dystopian world with technology similar to what exists today. Verne’s editor, Pierre-Jules Hetzel, rejected the story as being inferior to his previous work. Hetzel wrote to Verne, saying, “No-one today will believe your prophecy (Bernstein).”

It was years later that Jules Verne was considered to be a kind of prophet and a man ahead of his time. Few men alive then (or today) could have accurately imagined the future and put it into a fictional form. His books include numerous technological inventions, many of which have come true in one way or another. His vivid descriptions and heroic adventures make his stories come alive and contribute to his enduring popularity. His influence has rubbed off on subsequent authors and a new genre of fiction has been formed: science fiction. Jules Verne’s legacy—his amazing foresight, realistic descriptions, attention to science, and sense of adventure—has acted as a springboard for other authors to dive off of into the world of science fiction where the imagination is free to explore the mysteries of the universe in a way that is scientifically plausible.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Mind Reading Technology is No Longer Fictional

The concept of mind-reading, telepathy, or the transference of thoughts from person to person without any direct communication between them, has been in existence for only a little over a century. The word ‘telepathy’ was coined by Frederick W. H. Myers in 1882 and has remained a concept with no scientific proof it could ever occur. During experiments, the subjects, who could supposedly communicate telepathically, would give subtle, nonverbal cues, such as tapping out Morse code with coins. Though Myers was wrong about mind-reading being possible through so-called psychic abilities, reading minds, nevertheless, is possible through the use of modern technology. Mind-reading is no longer fiction: it is a fact.

As a fanciful notion, mind-reading technology has been around a long time. In the year 1919, a whimsical article appeared in The Syracuse Herald entitled “This Machine Records All Your Thoughts”. The imaginary device would record one’s thoughts as fluctuating waves on a long roll of paper, similar to how a seismograph records earth tremors. What is more absurd about such a device is that a secretary had to interpret the waves scrawled on the roll and type out the corresponding words. It would seem more logical to simply dictate to the secretary the sentences one wanted to write.

Another early reference to mind-reading technology appeared in Isaac Asimov’s book “I, Robot”, which was published in 1950. A robot capable of reading people’s minds decides to only tell people what he knows they want to hear instead of answering truthfully. The scenario of the robot lying was used to demonstrate some of the possible ways Asimov’s three laws of robotics could be altered. These laws were his idea for general principles robots should be programmed to have.

Though Asimov’s mind-reading robot is fictional, mind-reading technology is not. In 2007, a team of neuroscientists performed an experiment using a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanner. Volunteers were asked to decide whether to add or subtract two numbers which were to later appear on a screen. Before the numbers appeared, each volunteer had a brain scan. Using the data obtained from the scans, the scientists could be used a special computer program to predict what choice each volunteer would make. The predictions were correct 70 percent of the time.

Another brain-scanning technology allows scientists to reconstruct images a person has seen. A team of researchers, at the University of California, Berkeley, headed by Jack Gallant, a neuroscientist, has conducted an experiment where they had participants view brief video clips from YouTube. Using advanced computer software, images seen in the brains of the participants could be reconstructed. A computer matched reconstructed images taken from the participants’ brains with images from the YouTube videos. Though the reconstructed images looked blurry and more like modern art, they did resemble the images from the YouTube videos.

Reconstructing images from the brain is just the beginning of the technological mind-reading trend. Mind-reading applications are being sold at the Apple App Store. One application (or app) called “W.I.L.D.” allows players to do activities such as extinguishing fires, walking through landscapes, and bending spoons. By using a special set of headphones that acts like an electroencephalograph (EEG) machine, brain activity is recorded and sent to a portable device, such as an iphone. The program can detect a change in brain activity, such as concentration or relaxation and used both states to control the games in the application.

Such technology, or similar technology, has potential for many other uses. One, in particular, is a wheelchair for disabled people who do not have the use of their arms. Toyota, a car manufacturer, and RIKEN, a research lab, have partnered to design and build an electric wheelchair that responds to thought commands. The user of the wheelchair wears a cap filled with sensors monitoring his or her brainwaves. By thinking a clear and straightforward command such as “turn left” or “turn right” the user can navigate the wheelchair without touching a single control. This mind-reading technology is now being applied to the auto industry.  (Continued on the next page)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Ray Bradbury's Fulfilled Predictions for the Future

The origin of "Fahrenheit 451" started with Ray Bradbury's short story "Bright Phoenix," written in 1947. The short story was rewritten into the novella "The Fireman", and published in a 1951 issue of Galaxy Science Fiction, a periodical. Later, it was expanded and given the title "Fahrenheit 451".
The story is about a futuristic world in which firemen do not put out fires, but start them. These firemen are the law enforcement officers who were given the directive to burn books and to arrest those who own the books.
Most people do not read books. Rather, they watch TV and participate in interactive television shows where the audience can interact with the person in the TV screen. Surprisingly, the televisions take up most of a wall and seem strikingly similar to the large flat-screen televisions of today.
Other technological wonders in Bradbury's book include tiny radios that fit into one's ear. The wife of Montag, the main character of the story, constantly listens to music through tiny ear radios. This is hardly different from what we have today.
Montag, the protagonist of the story, is a fireman who has hidden away, in his house, books which should have been burned. Eventually discovered, he decides to flee from his home town. While out in the country, Montag ends up meeting a group of survivalists who have memorized books and are able to quote them verbatim.
Ray Bradbury has stated that "Fahrenheit 451" is not about the topic of censorship. Rather, he said, it is a story of how television destroys interest in reading literature, leading to a replacement of knowledge with "factoids": partial information devoid of context, such as Napoleon's birth date with no explanation of who he was.
Could this be somewhat prophetic of today? Without a doubt. Many people have ear buds connecting them to their ipods, massive plasma-screen televisions in their living rooms, and an addiction to watching TV. At the time the book was being written, televisions were a new technology and not everyone had one. Today, the average American watches four hours of TV per day, according to the A.C. Nielson Company. By the age of 65, a person would have spent nine years of his or her life watching TV. How beneficial was that time spent watching TV?
According to a study conducted by the Higher Education Research Institute of the University of California Los Angeles, 15- to 24-year-olds read for only, on average, 7-10 minutes each day, for their own pleasure. At the same time, this same category of young adults watches TV, on average, for 2-2.5 hours each day.
Sadly, it seems TV has a hold on the general population, just as Bradbury imagined it would. Some questions come to mind: 'Is there something that can be done to change this trend?' and 'Will fiction books become obsolete?'
Despite all this, a new type of book has come out of obscurity and has now surpassed traditional hard cover and soft cover book sales. The ebook is an electronic book that can be downloaded onto a portable device, such as a kindle, a smartphone, or a personal computer. Early in 2010, Amazon announced that it sold 105 ebooks for every 100 normal books. In July 2010, Amazon announced that the sale of ebooks had surpassed the sale of traditional books. According to Amazon, for every 100 paper books sold, 143 kindle ebooks were purchased. A new form of book has taken the stage. Part of this increase was due to the sales of Apple's new ipad with its kindle apps and Amazon's reduced price on its basic Kindle.
Where technology goes from here remains to be seen, but the future may hold many surprises: surprises that Ray Bradbury could not have imagined. Will ebooks completely replace regular books? Only time will tell.

Monday, September 26, 2011

What Makes Good Fiction?

   Many people have various opinions about what good fiction should look like, but almost anyone could agree that there are certain elements that should be an integral part of fiction. Plot, characterization, and the setting are three basic components of all novels, plays, and movies. But how exactly do these components make a good story?
   All stories have plots. A good plot has a clearly defined conflict between the protagonists and the antagonists. The war between the Scottish and the English, as seen in the movie Braveheart, is a clear example of a real conflict between good protagonists and bad antagonists. William Wallace did not merely have an emotional or verbal conflict with his enemies. Armed with his massive claymore, Wallace hacked through his foes, fighting against overwhelming odds.
   Conflict can also involve a more subtle form, such as the tension between the opposing sides in a court of law. Whether the main character is battling his enemies with a sword or arguing verbally with his opponent, the tension and conflict should increase progressively as the plot moves forward and eventually come to a head, the climax, where tension and conflict are at the maximum.   
   At this point, prior to the resolution of the conflict, the main characters are close to losing the battle or conflict. Here, the reader, or viewer of the story, should get the strong feeling that the hero just might end up losing to his foes. If it appears that the main character always has the upper hand and does not have a chance of losing, the outcome will be obvious and the reader may find it hard to keep reading. For example, if super heroes never had imposing enemies that presented real challenges for them, they would have very few fans. Stories with good plots and interesting characters will hold the reader’s attention up to the time of the climax.
   A good plot can only exist if the characters are well formed and realistic. Stories with poorly developed characters do not hold the reader’s attention for long because they seem fake and two-dimensional. A character is really an imaginary person that exists in the author’s mind. If the author fails to imagine and create realistic characters, his story will lack a dynamic and believable element that is crucial for it to be interesting. A character can make or break a story. Good characters stand out in a reader’s mind. They appear almost as realistic and believable as a person one is acquainted with, such as a coworker, a boss, or a friend. Being realistic, they shouldn’t appear to have been created on an assembly line. Each character should be different from any other that existed. Unique features set good characters apart from the thousands of personas that exist in movies and books. Features such as a scar on the cheek, walking with a limp, having a unique way of speaking, or a distinct personality help to give characters a life-like feel. An assassin with beak-like nose, a detective with beady eyes that can pierce like lasers, or a scientist with a nervous habit of rubbing his hands together all stand out and will likely be remembered by the reader of good fiction.
   And finally, a story can only be good if it has a distinct, detailed, and realistic setting (or settings) that makes the reader feel as if he or she is present in the story. If the story takes place in the 1800s, in the city of London, the descriptions of the period, the clothing styles, the streets, the buildings, the rooms, the bridges, and the people should be accurate and vivid. The reader should be able to visit the streets of London and almost see the surroundings in his or her mind’s eye. ‘Cobblestone streets worn smooth like polished wood by the countless numbers of feet that have trodden them underfoot’, ‘quaint shop signs once brightly painted but now exfoliating their decaying coatings like lizards shedding scales’, and ‘a horse-drawn coach, its wheels protesting with loud squeaks, rushed past’ all are descriptions that help to make the settings come alive in the reader’s mind. 
   However, a huge amount of unnecessary details do nothing to create interest in the story or in the plot. Rather, they slow down the pacing of the story and tend to make the story uninteresting. Pacing is everything in novels and movies. If the story is interesting and the conflict and tension are increasing in intensity, a long, slow, relatively uneventful spot in the middle of the story will cause many readers to stop reading, or to read less and less each time they pick up the book. From beginning to end, the story needs to be interesting, and the pacing, though somewhat varied, should not leave room for boredom. A reader of a good fiction story will be reluctant to put the book down and will have a lingering curiosity about what will happen next.
   In conclusion, fiction has three main elements: a plot, characters, and a setting (or several). A good plot is interesting and unpredictable with a real conflict that culminates in a climax. A plot can only be good if the characters performing the action and involved in the conflict are realistic, unique, and believable. The setting (or settings), where the characters interact, must be a place (or places) that the reader can easily imagine and picture vividly in his or her mind. Details should make the story come alive, without bogging down the pacing. Those three elements together constitute a good story.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Science fiction is a subject that will never grow old. One might argue that for thousands of years science fiction has been the product of many creative imaginations. The Epic of Gilgamesh, the Mahabharata, Homer's Odyssey, and many other ancient stories contain similar themes and elements to stories written today. Elements such as romance, drama, action, and adventure have always appealed to humankind. Every epic story has villains and heroes, daring rescues, battles, and romance.
Why is that the case? Why are the best movies made always about a hero falling in love with a beautiful woman and fighting in a climatic battle for a noble cause? There is something within each of us that finds these stories captivating. Regardless of culture or creed, we all enjoy movies or novels about heroism, betrayal, sacrifice, and victory. Why is this?