Monday, June 27, 2022

Review: Tiaroma Crunch Wafer Hazelnut Cream Filling

This snack was a whole lot like Tiaroma's biscuit version, as both delivered three individually wrapped, round, chocolate-coated, hazelnut-flavored bars within a large, candy bar-like package. ...

from Snack Reviews
by June 27, 2022 at 07:33PM

Friday, June 24, 2022

The Baby With the Baboon Heart

On 3 December 1967, South African surgeon Christiaan Barnard made medical history by performing the first successful human heart transplant, transferring the heart of accident victim Denise Darvall into 65-year-old Louis Washkansky. While Washkansky died 18 days later of pneumonia, the pioneering surgery heralded a new era of medicine, giving thousands of people a new chance at life. Today over 5,000 heart transplants are performed every year worldwide, the once unthinkable procedure having become all but routine. So routine, in fact, that the main limiting factor is no longer the surgeon’s skill or the patient’s body rejecting the transplant but rather the availability of donated organs. This shortage is especially acute for babies, who, unlike adults, rarely suffer the kinds of injuries which render them braindead but leave their organs intact. It is for this reason that in October 1984 a surgeon named Leonard Lee Bailey attempted the impossible and implanted a newborn girl with the heart of a baboon. This is the bizarre and controversial story of Baby Fae.

Stephanie Fae Beauclair was born on October 14, 1984 at a hospital in Barstow, California. Her mother, 24-year-old Teresa Beauclair, was unemployed and had recently separated from Stephanie’s father. Right away, it was clear that something was wrong; delivered three weeks premature, Stephanie weighed only five pounds at birth and was blue all over – a sign of improper oxygen circulation. Stephanie and her mother were immediately driven by ambulance to Loma Linda Medical Center, a Seventh-Day Adventist hospital 60 miles outside Los Angeles. Here, Teresa received the terrible news: Stephanie had been born with a rare congenital condition called Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome or HLHS, in which the left side of the heart is underdeveloped. Affecting one in 10,000 babies, HLHS is invariably fatal. Teresa was given two options: leave Stephanie in the hospital to die, or take her home to die. Teresa opted to have Stephanie baptized and move into a nearby motel room where could gather her thoughts.

It was then that fate intervened in the form of Dr. Leonard Lee Bailey, a Loma Linda surgeon who had just returned from a medical conference. During his residency at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children in the 1970s, Bailey had seen dozens of otherwise healthy children die of HLHS, and was frustrated by doctors’ helplessness in the face of the disease. Nearly all attempts to repair the damage surgically failed, leaving heart transplants as the only viable option. But while by the 1970s heart transplantation was a well-established procedure, the problem lay, as previously mentioned, with the lack of available donor organs. Even today, some 2000 babies are born every year requiring heart transplants, while only around 300 are capable of donating the required organs. The majority of these are anencephalic, meaning they are born without fully-developed brains or skulls. However, few of these babies actually become organ donors, for the criteria for establishing brain death – the key prerequisite for organ donation – are often complex and ambiguous, and in any case few parents actually consent to having their child’s organs donated. In the face of such dire shortages, Bailey became an enthusiastic proponent of xenografting – the transplantation of organs from other, non-human species.

Xenografting was not a new idea, but it had never been successfully carried out. In 1964 surgeon James Hardy transplanted the heart of a chimpanzee into the chest of a 68-year old man. While the heart started beating on its own, the patient died after only 90 minutes. In 1977, heart transplant pioneer Christiaan Barnard piggybacked the heart of a baboon on the circulatory system of a 25-year-old woman, but she died five hours later. Barnard would later use the same technique with a chimpanzee heart and a 59-year-old man, who lasted four days before dying. Throughout the 1960s surgeons Thomas Starzl and Keith Reemtsma had greater success transplanting primate kidneys into human patients, but even these lasted only two months before they were rejected by the recipient’s body. Yet despite this dismal track record, Bailey was confident that with proper immune matching techniques and recent advances in immunosuppressing drugs, a xenograft could keep a patient alive long enough for a proper human organ to be located and transplanted. In 1976, this conviction led Bailey to the Loma Linda University School of Medicine, where he performed more than 200 experimental heart transplants on infant mammals including goats, sheep, and baboons in order to perfect the technique. All he needed now was a human patient to test his theories. Upon learning of her case, Bailey set his sights on Stephanie Beauclair.

Shortly after returning to Loma Linda, Bailey visited Teresa Beauclair at her motel and offered to perform the experimental transplant free of charge. Teresa agreed, and on October 19 Stephanie was readmitted to Loma Linda so that her tissues could be matched with a viable donor. The donors in question were seven young female baboons obtained from the Foundation for Biomedical Research in Texas. While around 70% of humans have pre-formed antibodies against baboon tissue, encouragingly Stephanie was found to be among the 30% who did not. Still, as many at the time pointed out, baboons were an unusual donor choice, given that other apes – particularly chimpanzees – are more closely related to humans in evolutionary terms. When questioned about this, Bailey, a devout Seventh-Day Adventist, replied:

 “Er, I find that difficult to answer. You see, I don’t believe in evolution.”

On October 26 the tissue-matching results came back, indicating that Stephanie was most compatible with a nine-month-old baboon named Goobers. By this time Stephanie’s condition had begun to deteriorate, her organs shutting down one by one. It was now or never. So on the same day Stephanie Beauclair and Goobers were wheeled into the operating room and the pioneering surgery began. The procedure took five hours to complete, Bailey painstakingly reconnecting Stephanie’s tiny blood vessels to Goobers’s walnut-sized heart. Then, at 11:35 AM, the baboon heart began to beat on its own in Stephanie’s chest. Sandra Nehlsen-Cannarella, an immunologist who assisted with the surgery, later described the scene:

“[Stephanie’s] new heart began to beat spontaneously. There was absolute awe. The mood was somber, not euphoric, but there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. It was an overwhelming feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction, to see her literally transformed from a helpless cripple.”

Three days later, nurses weaned Stephanie off her respirator and she began to breathed on her own. Colour returned to her pale blue skin, and despite the giant incision running down her chest she looked for all intents and purposes like a healthy little girl. Bailey was ecstatic, boldly predicting that Stephanie would live to see her first – if not her 20th – birthday. The next day, he held a press conference to announce his triumph to the world, fighting back tears as he predicted:

“Infants with heart disease yet to be born will someday soon have the opportunity to live, thanks to the courage of this infant and her parents.”

 In order to protect the privacy of mother and child, Loma Linda refused to divulge any personal details and referred to Stephanie simply as “Baby Fae,” the name by which she would become globally famous. Footage of the tiny patient was broadcast all around the room, and hundreds of well-wishers flooded her hospital room with cards and flowers, praying for her full recovery.

Unfortunately, Bailey’s boundless optimism proved misplaced, for while Baby Fae thrived for a while, her body soon began to reject the foreign organ and her condition rapidly deteriorated. Her kidneys failed, her heart developed a blockage, and on November 15, 1984 Baby Fae died, having survived the surgery by 21 days – longer than any previous xenograft recipient. In hindsight her death was inevitable, for while Bailey had hoped to keep her alive until a human heart became available, no such organ was forthcoming. Furthermore, Baby Fae’s blood was Type O, a type shared by fewer than 1% of baboons. Fae’s body was thus fundamentally incompatible with Goobers’s Type AB organs.

The Baby Fae case became a media sensation, inspiring dozens of works of pop culture including a line in the 1986 Paul Simon song “The Boy in the Bubble.” However, it also ignited a storm of controversy that still rages to this day. While many commended Bailey for his pioneering efforts, others decried the procedure as morally and ethically repugnant. Particularly incensed were animal rights activists, with Lucy Shelton of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals declaring:

“This is medical sensationalism at the expense of Baby Fae, her family, and the baboon.”

Philosopher Thomas Regan argued that all beings, human or not, have a right to life, writing that:

“Like us, Goobers was somebody, a distinct individual. Those people who seized Goober’s heart, even if they were motivated by their concern for Baby Fae, grievously violated Goobers’s right to be treated with respect. That she could do nothing to protest, and that many of us failed to recognize the transplant for the injustice that it was, does not diminish the wrong, a wrong settled before Baby Fae’s sad death.”

Bailey responded to such criticisms with bafflement, stating:

“People in southern California have it so good that they can afford to worry about this type of issue. When it gets down to a human living or dying, there shouldn’t be a question [of using an animal to save that human]. We’re not in the business of uselessly sacrificing animals, we’re forced to make a choice. We can either decide to continue to let these otherwise healthy human babies die because they are born with only half of their heart, or we can intervene, and, in so doing, sacrifice some lesser form than our own human species.”

The Loma Linda Center for Christian Bioethics agreed with Bailey, stating:

“On an ethical scale, we will always place human beings ahead of subhumans, especially in a situation where people can be genuinely saved by animals. That is the story of mankind from the very beginning, Animals, for example, have always been used for food and clothing.”

While doctors and ethicists like Arthur L. Caplan of the New York University School of Medicine defended Bailey, arguing that:

“He was really trying to find an answer for very young children who needed a transplant. He was driven by a real desire to help . . . not fame, not fortune, not money, not greed.”

… others questioned whether the baboon heart transplant had actually been necessary. While Bailey maintained that the procedure was the only option due to a lack of donated infant hearts, according to Paul Teraski, director of the Southern Regional Organ Procurement Agency, a viable human heart was available on the day of Baby Fae’s surgery, but Bailey had chosen deliberately chosen not to use it:

“I think that they did not make any effort to get a human infant heart because they were set on doing a baboon.”

Bailey’s assertion that there was no other option is further undermined by the work of surgeon William Norwood of the Children’s Hospital Philadelphia, who at the time had developed a surgical procedure to correct HLHS with a success rate of 40%. By contrast, despite Bailey’s reassurances to Teresa Beauclair, his baboon heart procedure had a zero percent chance of working long-term. Faced with these accusations, Bailey still defended his decision to operate, stating:

We were not searching for a human heart. We were out to enter the whole new area of transplanting tissue-matched baboon hearts into newborns who are supported with antisuppressive drugs. I suppose that we could have used a human heart that was outsized and that was not tissue-matched, and that would have pacified some people, but it would have been very poor science. On the other hand, I suppose my belief that there are no newborn hearts available for transplantation was more opinion than data or science, but it is scientific to acknowledge that the whole area of determining brain death of newborns is very problematical.”

This issue of medical necessity is part of a larger ethical controversy over the difference between therapeutic and experimental procedures. According to most medical ethicists, a procedure can only be considered therapeutic if there exists a high probability of benefiting the patient long-term. As the odds of Baby Fae surviving long-term with a baboon heart were essentially zero, by this definition Bailey’s procedure can only be classified as experimental. For this reason, Bailey’s procedure was harshly criticized as unscientific by the American Medical Association, who argued that experimental procedures should only be performed as part of larger, systematic medical studies and not as one-offs.

Further criticism has centred on whether Bailey obtained proper informed consent from Teresa Beauclair – or whether parents can even ethically volunteer their children for experimental procedures. Had Bailey not offered to perform the surgery for free, out-of-pocket the procedure would have cost over $250,000, plus $20,000 in immunosuppressant drugs every year for the rest of Baby Fae’s life. As Teresa had no health insurance at the time and thus no other options for saving her baby’s life, critics argue that she was fundamentally incapable of giving informed consent. Furthermore, Teresa later claimed that the consent form Bailey had on file was different from the one she signed, which optimistically claimed that the transplant would keep Fae alive “long term.” And while Bailey claimed he had obtained consent from both parents, Fae’s father was not in fact present at the time of the signing. As Boston University law professor George Annas later wrote:

“This inadequately reviewed, inappropriately consented to, premature experiment on an impoverished, terminally ill newborn was unjustified. It differs from the xenograft experiments of the early 1960s only in the fact that there was prior review of the proposal by an IRB. But this distinction did not protect Baby Fae. She remained unprotected from ruthless experimentation in which her only role was that of victim.”

Yet despite these controversies, the Baby Fae experiment gave Bailey the confidence to continue his research, and the following year he performed the world’s first successful human infant heart transplant. The patient, Eddie Anguiano – known at the time as “Baby Moses” – not only survived the procedure, but is still alive today – the oldest living recipient of an infant heart transplant. Bailey would go on to perform 376 infant heart transplants and become a leading expert on congenital heart disease, serving at Loma Linda for 42 years. Leonard Lee Bailey died of throat cancer on May 12, 2019 at the age of 76.

Since 1905, 33 xenografts have been performed on humans, none of which have been successful. Nonetheless, research on the practice continues, with scientists exploring ways of genetically modifying animals like pigs to make their organs more compatible with humans. Given the relative dearth of viable donor organs – especially for infants and young children – such techniques will be vital to saving lives in the future. This contemporary research owes much to Baby Fae, whose controversial 1984 surgery pushed the boundaries of what was considered medically possible. As Leonard Bailey told the New York Times in 1990:

“We wouldn’t be where we are if it weren’t for Baby Fae. We’re not as crazy as everyone believed. The experiment gave us the confidence to continue.”

Nonetheless, the subject of infant heart transplants – and the risky but necessary experiments that make them possible – will always remain a controversial one. The moral and ethical quandaries involved in saving the lives of young children are perhaps best summarized by theologian Paul Ramsey, who wrote:

“If today we mean to give such weight to the research imperative, then we should not seek to give a principled justification of what we are doing with children. It is better to leave the research imperative in incorrigible conflict with the principle that protects the individual human person from being used for research purposes without wither his expressed or correctly construed consent. Some forms of human experimentation should, in this alternative, be acknowledged to be “borderline situations” in which moral agents are under the necessity of doing wrong for the sake of the public good. Either way they do wrong. It is immoral not to do the research. It is also immoral to use children who cannot themselves consent and who ought not to be presumed to consent to research unrelated to their treatment. On this supposition research medicine, like politics, is a realm in which men have to “sin bravely.””

If you liked this article, you might also enjoy our new popular podcast, The BrainFood Show (iTunes, Spotify, Google Play Music, Feed), as well as:

Expand for References

Oliver, Ansel, Iconic “Baby Fae” Surgeon Leonard Bailey Dies at Age 76, Spectrum, May 13, 2019,

Langer, Emily, Leonard Bailey, Transplant Surgeon Who Gave ‘Baby Fae’ a Baboon Heart, Dies at 76, The Washington Post, May 16, 2019,

 What Happened When a baby Girl Got a Heart Transplant From a Baboon, TIME, October 26, 2015,

Pence, Gregory, Classic Cases in Medical Ethics, McGraw-Hill, Boston, 1990,

The post The Baby With the Baboon Heart appeared first on Today I Found Out.

from Today I Found Out
by Gilles Messier - June 24, 2022 at 12:18AM
Article provided by the producers of one of our Favorite YouTube Channels!

The Curse of the Hope Diamond

The Hope Diamond’s story begins over a billion years ago, when carbon under immense pressure formed the larger diamond from which the Hope Diamond would spring. Not only was the mother stone large, but it was given a rare blue color due to the presence of high amounts of the element boron within the carbon.

The diamond’s story in human hands, as well as the origins of the alleged curse that goes with it, has murky beginnings that date back to the 1600s. French gem merchant Jean-Baptiste Tavernier acquired the stone around the 1660s while in India. It is thought to have been originally mined from the Kollur mine in the Gunter district of Andhra Pradesh. Who originally owned the gem is unknown. Tavernier is believed to have possibly acquired the diamond through theft. Unconfirmed accounts stated that the original form of the Hope Diamond was as stolen from a statue of Sita, the goddess wife of Rama, who was the seventh Avatar of Vishnu. Thus, setting the curse in motion. Whether or not it was Tavernier or someone else who allegedly plucked the stone from the statue is lost to history.

What was confirmed is that Tavernier came back to Paris with the precursor to the Hope Diamond, a loosely triangular stone of an astounding 115 carats. This became known as the “Tavernier Blue.” He subsequently sold the diamond to Louis XIV. The details of the sale vary, and may have involved several other gems as well. Louis XIV had the stone recut, asking the court gem master to “make him a piece to remember.” Work on the stone took two years. This yielded a 67-carat stone known thereafter as the Blue Diamond of the Crown of France, or simply, the “French Blue.”

Louis XIV’s great-grandson, Louis XV, had the piece affixed to a more complex pendant, but it fell into disuse after his death. Eventually the stone was owned by Louis XVI, and was thought to have been worn by his wife, Marie Antoinette. Reports cast doubt on this, as the stone’s pendant was supposedly reserved for the King, but the events to come nonetheless launched the notion of the curse.

The French Revolution was set in motion, and Louis XVI and family were put in prison during the “Reign of Terror.” While they were imprisoned, thieves broke into the Royal Storehouse and made off with the Crown Jewels. Some would later be recovered, but the French Blue was not. Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were killed by guillotine in 1793, severing the necks from which many of the Crown Jewels once hung.

The French Blue was likely smuggled to London on the heels of being stolen in France, and remained at large for some time. In this period the Hope Diamond was thought to be cut from it. This was confirmed in 2008, when a leaden model of the French Blue was rediscovered in the archives of the National Museum of History in Paris. Details from the leaden model matched those from the Hope Diamond perfectly. It was also discovered that the French Blue had also been roughly recut along the way, and that this work on the stone visibly changed its character.

It was in 1812 that the earliest date of the existence of the Hope Diamond, as cut from the French Blue, was confirmed. London diamond merchant Daniel Eliason described the stone as a “massive blue stone of 45.54 carats.” In the ensuing years, until 1830, the gem was thought to have been owned by George IV of the U.K. No records of his ownership exist in the Royal Archives at Windsor, but the consensus is that he owned it. It may have been sold to cover his debts. In any case, next up in the chain of ownership was London banker Thomas Hope, who acquired the diamond for either $65,000 or $90,000, depending on reports. The gem appeared in a published catalog of Hope’s gem collection, and it was then that it became known as the “Hope Diamond.”

When Hope died in 1839, his heirs fought an extended legal battle over the stone. Henry Thomas Pope, his nephew, eventually inherited it. He displayed it in the Great Exhibition of London in 1851 and the Exposition Universelle in Paris in 1855. His wife Anne Adele inherited the gem when Hope died in 1862, and it bounced around among new owners for several more decades, many of which had marriage and financial troubles and had to sell the stone to cover debts. This burnished the story of the curse.

At some point in the early 1900s the Hope Diamond made its way from the U.K. to New York with Simon Frankel, a famous diamond dealer. But Frankel’s business fell on hard times. He referred to the stone as the “hoodoo diamond.” He then sold the diamond for $400,000, about $11 million dollars today, through an intermediary to Sultan Abdulhamid of the Ottoman Empire. He, too, ran into financial problems, and his reign faltered, causing him to sell the stone.

In 1914 it fell into the hands of familiar name in the jewelry world – Pierre Cartier. Cartier would in turn woo Washington, D.C. socialite Evalyn Walsh McLean and her husband, Edward Beale McLean – heir to The Washington Post and Cincinnati Enquirer fortune – to buy the Hope Diamond from him.  Cartier tried several times to get Mrs. McLean to buy the diamond, and she eventually did purchase it from him, but only after Cartier had it reset to her liking. The sale was the subject of an article in the New York Times in which the newspaper claimed that the McLeans had tried to back out of the deal after learning about the curse. Other accounts claim that the McLeans had fabricated the story of their fear of the curse to increase the value of their purchase.

Mrs. McLean’s eccentric ways and how they manifested themselves with the diamond became the stuff of legend. She would wear the diamond around her neck around town, and even around the neck of her Great Dane, Mike. Guests at the McLeans’ parties would be treated to “find the stone” games, as Mrs. McLean would hide it on their property and challenge guests to locate it. McLean even hired a former Secret Service man to provide security during these events. Another story tells of Mrs. McLean hosting guests at her house one evening and asking somebody to turn the record player on – one of the Gramophone models with the enormous horn. Upon being told the record player wasn’t working properly, Mrs. McLean remembered that she put the diamond in the horn.

Mrs. McLean called on another well-known woman who lived near her in the wealthy playground of Aiken, South Carolina, named Eulalie Salley. She asked Mrs. Salley, a suffragist and incidentally the first woman in South Carolina to be granted a real estate license, if she would like to come over to see the Hope Diamond. Mrs. Salley jumped at the chance. After arriving at the McLean’s home, Mrs. Salley was surprised to be led to Mrs. McLean’s bedroom, against the mores of the day. Mrs. McLean reached in her stocking drawer, pulled out a stocking, and out fell the Hope Diamond. Incredulous, Mrs. Salley stated “Mrs. McLean, you’re keeping the most famous gemstone in the world in your underpants? To which Mrs. McLean allegedly replied, “My Dear, at my age, who is going to look there?”

Mrs. McLean was friends with President Warren G. Harding. They had a mutual friend named Gaston Means, who was a former Bureau of Investigation officer. When Charles Lindbergh’s son was kidnapped, Mr. Means told Mrs. McLean that he knew where the baby was being held. In exchange for $100,000 from Ms. McLean, he claimed that he could get the baby back, and in turn Mrs. McLean and he would be heroes. She was to find out it was a cruel hoax. Means made off with the money – the kidnapped baby was already dead.

And so went so much of Mrs. McLean’s life after buying the Hope Diamond. In addition to the Lindbergh baby fiasco, two of the McLeans’ children died young, Mr. McLean was committed to an asylum in his 40s, and the diamond had to be sold upon her death to cover her estate’s debts. Hope Diamond Curse aficionados naturally attribute all of this to the diamond.

The trustees of her estate sold the stone to Harry Winston, a diamond merchant in New York. In fact, he bought all of McLeans’ jewelry. Winston displayed the Hope Diamond during a tour of the United States with his extensive jewel collection. He also had the Hope Diamond’s bottom facet redone to increase the gem’s sparkle.

Years later, the Smithsonian talked Winston into donating the stone to their proposed gem collection. And on November 10, 1958, Winston agreed. But he did not have security transport the stone, nor did he personally hand deliver it. Winston sent the Hope Diamond through the U.S. Mail as you would any package, without any fanfare or even mentioning it to the postal service. Simply popped it in a box and mailed it off.

The stone arrived as planned, but the mailman who delivered it, James Todd, had his leg crushed in an accident not long after, the last significant event in the alleged curse.

Winston never believed in the curse. And he lived a long healthy life with no undue bad luck apparent during his lifetime.

The Diamond has been the centerpiece of the Smithsonian’s gem collection, greatly increasing attendance and thrilling guests for decades since. It is said to be insured for $250 million. You can still see it there today. Seemingly curse free.

If you liked this article, you might also enjoy our new popular podcast, The BrainFood Show (iTunes, Spotify, Google Play Music, Feed), as well as:

Expand for References (retrieved August 26, 2020). (retrieved August 26, 2020).

Bull Cooper, Emily L. 2005. Eulalie. The Aiken Partnership Of The University Of South Carolina Educational Foundation; 2nd Edition, 163 pp.

Gregory, J. 2011. The Hope Diamond: Evalyn Walsh McLean and the Captivating Mystery of the World’s Most Alluring Jewel. Turner, 96 pp.

Kurin, R. 2006. The Legendary History of a Cursed Gem. Smithsonian Books, 400 pp.

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from Today I Found Out
by Kent Cubbage - June 24, 2022 at 12:16AM
Article provided by the producers of one of our Favorite YouTube Channels!

The Badass Sergeant Who was His Own One Man Army

In 1814, some 20,000 troops of the British East India Company launched an assault on the Kingdom of Ghorka in what is today Nepal, seeking to expand their influence into the Indian subcontinent’s mountainous northern territories. To their surprise, the British encountered unexpectedly fierce resistance from local mountain warriors known as Ghorkalis, and the conflict quickly degenerated into a bloody two-year slog. So impressed were the British by the Ghorkalis’ fighting spirit that defectors were quickly integrated into their own ranks. And when the Anglo-Nepali war finally ended in March 1816 with the signing of the Treaty of Sugali, the British took an “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” attitude and formed entire units of Gurkha soldiers commanded by British officers. These units quickly became an integral part of the British Army, taking part in every major conflict over the next 200 years. In this time, they have acquired a reputation that can only be described as legendary, with an astonishing 26 Gurkhas being awarded the Victoria Cross, the UK’s highest military award for gallantry. With a motto of “better to die than be a coward,” the Gurkhas are known – and feared – the world over as among the world’s most fearsome and deadly warriors. How deadly? Well, look no further than the story of Acting Sergeant Dipprasan Pun, who while serving in Afghanistan in 2010 single-handedly defended his outpost against a large group of Taliban fighters and redefined the word badass.

Born in Bima, Western Nepal but currently living in Ashford, Kent, Dipprasan Pun comes from a long line of soldiers, with his father and grandfather also serving in Gurkha regiments. His Grandfather, Tul Bahadur Pun, even received the Victoria Cross in 1944 while serving in the Burma theatre of WWII. In September 2010, the then 31-year-old Pun was an Acting Sergeant in the 1st Battalion Royal Gurkha Rifles, stationed in Helmand Province in southern Afghanistan. On the night of the 17th, Pun and three other soldiers were left to guard their control post near the town of Babaji while the rest of their unit moved out to secure the surrounding roads ahead of the next day’s parliamentary elections. Throughout the night, the four men took turns manning the sangar, or elevated guard tower, at the centre of the compound.

Sergeant Pun was standing guard in the tower when he suddenly heard what sounded like a cow or donkey braying in the darkness. At first he ignored it, but he soon grew suspicious and climbed higher up the tower to get a better look. It was then that he spotted two Taliban insurgents planting an Improvised Explosive Device, or IED, by the compound gate. Before Pun could react, the air filled with tracers and rocket-propelled grenades as a hidden force of Taliban launched a coordinated surprise attack on the compound. While most of us would have reacted to such a situation by making our trousers significantly damper and a bit more smelly, Dipprasad Pun remembered that he was, after all, a Gurkha, and responded accordingly:

“At that time I wasn’t worried, there wasn’t any choice but to fight. The Taliban were all around the checkpoint, I was alone. I had so many of them around me that I thought I was definitely going to die so I thought I’d kill as many of them as I could before they killed me. At first I was a bit scared, but as soon as I started firing, that feeling went away”.

With Taliban closing in all around him, Pun cooly gathered up two radios and used them to call his commanding officer for reinforcements. This done, he then went into Super Gurkha Rage Mode, and with a cry of “Marchu talai!” – Nepali for “I will kill you all!” , pulled the guard tower’s L108A1 general purpose machine gun off its tripod and proceeded to go full John Rambo on his attackers, hip-firing the weapon in a 360-degree arc. Once his ammunition was exhausted, Pun moved on to lobbing grenades off the tower and even set off a Claymore antipersonnel mine before picking up his SA80 service rifle and continuing to lay withering fire upon his attackers. At one point a Taliban fighter climbed up the side of the tower and attempted to rush him, but Pun spotted him, whirled around, and fired – only for his rifle to jam. Apparently determined to prove that a Gurkha can kill you with anything, Pun reached for a nearby sandbag, but it had not been properly tied and the sand spilled harmlessly to the floor. So with seconds to spare Pun picked up the heavy machine gun tripod, folded it, and hurled it in his attacker’s face, sending him toppling off the tower to his death.

Pun continued to beat back the Taliban assault for nearly a quarter of an hour before the rest of his unit arrived and finally drove off the attackers. His company commander, Major Shaun Chandler, gave him a hearty slap on the back and asked him how he was, to which Pun simply replied “I’m fine.” In all, Sergeant Dipprasad Pun, one-man Gurkha army, had single-handedly held off an estimated 30 Taliban fighters and killed three, in the process setting off 250 machine gun rounds and 180 rifle rounds, 17 grenades, and one mine. About the only weapon he didn’t use was a kukri, the traditional Gurkha fighting knife – but only because he didn’t have one on him at the time. As his battalion commander, Lieutenant Colonel Gez Strickland, later remarked:

“My battalion have done two tours in Afghanistan and been involved in some very difficult and fierce fighting. Dipprasad’s action is the bravest I have seen. He courageously held that position despite being under attack from a hail of bullets. He saved the lives of three men as well as his own.”

 In recognition of his bravery, on June 1, 2011 Sergeant Dipprasad Pun was awarded the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross, Britain’s second-highest military decoration, by Queen Elizabeth II in a ceremony at Buckingham Palace. The citation for his award read, in part:

“Sergeant Pun single-handedly fought off an enemy attack on his lightly manned position. In the dark he tackled the enemy head on as he moved around his position to fend off the attack from three sides, killing three assailants and causing the others to flee. In doing so he saved the lives of his three comrades and prevented the position from being overrun. Sergeant Pun couldn’t know how many Taliban were attempting to overcome his position, but he sought them out from all angles despite the danger, consistently moving towards them to reach the best position of attack.”

Sergeant Pun was more modest about his actions that night, stating:

“I know I’m very lucky to be alive. I didn’t think the attack would ever end, and I nearly collapsed when it was over. I did what I was trained to do.”

Though the Gurkhas now make up only a small part of the British Army, their numbers having fallen from an all-time high of 200,000 during WWII to less 3,500, they continue serve with distinction wherever they are deployed – as Dipprasad Pun’s actions of September 17, 2010 clearly demonstrate. Such feats of gallantry would appear to confirm what Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw, former Chief of Staff of the Indian Army, once said about this unique fighting force:

“If a man says he is not afraid of dying, he is either lying or he is a Gurkha.”

If you liked this article, you might also enjoy our new popular podcast, The BrainFood Show (iTunes, Spotify, Google Play Music, Feed), as well as:

Bonus Fact

The weapon most closely associated with the Gurkhas is the kukri, a curved, machete-like knife originating in northern India and Nepal. Over the years, numerous myths have grown up around this legendary weapon, the most common being that once drawn, the kukri cannot be sheathed until it has drawn blood. According to this myth, if a Gurkha is unable to draw another’s blood, he will instead cut his thumb before sheathing the blade. However, this notion is undermined by the fact that the kukri is not exclusively used as a weapon. In fact, in India and Nepal the kukri is widely used as an all-purpose utility knife for chopping wood and preparing food; if everyone were to cut themselves after every minor task, it would surely lead to a nationwide epidemic of anemia.

Expand for References

 Stilwel, Blake, That Day a Lone Gurkha Took Out 30 Taliban Using Weapon Within Reach, Business Insider, May 19, 2016,

Bravery Medal for Gurkha Who Fought Taliban, BBC News, June 1, 2011,

Special Recognition: Acting Sergeant Dipprasad Pun CGC, Pride of Britain Awards,

Beckett, Jack, Repelled 30 Taliban: 400 Rounds, Launched 17 Grenades, Detonated a Mine, and Used His Tripod as a Weapon, War History Online, January 23, 2018,


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from Today I Found Out
by Gilles Messier - June 24, 2022 at 12:14AM
Article provided by the producers of one of our Favorite YouTube Channels!

The Calutron Girls: the Women Who Helped Build the Bomb

They came in their thousands: young women from across rural Tennessee, fresh out of high school, drawn by the promise of good pay, cheap rent, and a chance to do their part for the war effort – women like 19-year-old Gladys Owens and Ruth Huddleston. One by one they  stepped off trains and buses and entered the mysterious town of Oak Ridge, a sprawling complex along the Clinch River which had seemingly sprung up overnight and whose purpose was a closely-guarded secret. Indeed, an oppressive atmosphere of secrecy hung over the entire site, from the tall barbed-wire fences to the giant signs at every gate urging residents to keep quiet. The women who came to Oak Ridge had no idea what they had been hired to do; they knew only was that it was vital work that would help secure victory against Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. Even in training this point was endlessly hammered home, their instructors reminding them:

“What you learn here and what you do here stays here. Don’t tell your family. Don’t tell your friends. All you need to know is that you’re working to help end the war. We can train you how to do what is needed but cannot tell you what you are doing. I can only tell you that if our enemies beat us to it, God have mercy on us!”

The women soon discovered what this war-winning work entailed: sitting for hours in front of massive control panels, carefully monitoring gauges and turning dials:

“If the hand on those meters went too high, we had to get to work and get it back balanced. If it went too low, we had to sit on that stool and watch it. And if it got to the point where we couldn’t control it, we had a person that we could call and they would come help us. And if they couldn’t control it, then they had to shut it down and call for help. I was always afraid to move.”

Though the women were carefully instructed which dials to turn and what settings to maintain, the purpose of the task itself remained a mystery. All they knew was that it somehow involved magnets, for any loose jewelry or bobby pins tended to fly off and stick to the panels. They worked 8-hour days in 7-day rotating shifts, the work carrying on 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. While off-duty, they slept in dormitories like Fostoria Hall which cost only $10/month (about $150 today), ate at the staff cafeteria, and went out to the local cinema or bowling alley. Yet even here the overbearing culture of secrecy made itself known. Residents avoided gathering in groups for fear someone might be listening, and even at the movies security staff patrolled the aisles with flashlights to make sure nobody chatted idly about their work. Those with loose lips were swiftly dealt with, as Gladys Owens recalls:

“They told us that we could immediately be taken out of our position if we were caught talking about it. A time or two, people disappeared, so we didn’t know whether they’d fired them or what had happened. When one young girl didn’t return to her dormitory for her clothes, they told us she died from drinking some poison moonshine.”

And so their mysterious work carried on in silence, week after week, month after month. Then, on the morning of August 6, 1945, someone ran into the dormitory screaming a word no-one had dared utter in over eight months: Uranium. In the control room, a supervisor broke the astonishing news: the United States had just attacked Japan with a powerful new atomic bomb, and the women of Oak Ridge had played a vital role in producing the Uranium used to build that bomb.

When the Manhattan Project, the Allied effort to build an atomic bomb, began in June 1942, there was only one known metal which could sustain a nuclear chain reaction: Uranium-235. This isotope accounts for only 0.72% of natural Uranium, meaning that thousands of tons of Uranium ore would have to be processed to produce the 50 kilograms of enriched U-235 needed to build a single bomb. To carry out this gargantuan task, General Leslie Groves, military director of the Manhattan Project, acquired 59,000 acres of land near the Clinch River in East Tennessee, which soon became known as Oak Ridge. Construction began in February 1943, and within two years the site had grown into a vast complex housing 75,000 people, complete with all the amenities of a large town including dormitories, cafeterias, churches, and cinemas.

Three different Uranium enrichment methods were used at Oak Ridge, all running in parallel in case one method proved unworkable and in order to maximize production. The enrichment facilities were built at breakneck speed and ran 24 hours a day, for the Manhattan Project was in a race against time. So slow was the enrichment process that it was estimated to take three years to produce enough Uranium for a single bomb – long enough, it was feared, for Nazi Germany to complete one of their own.

As U-235 and U-238 are chemically identical, all three enrichment methods worked by exploiting the slight difference in mass between the two isotopes. The first method, known as thermal diffusion, worked on the principle that when a liquid solution is exposed to a thermal gradient, lighter particles tend to collect at the hotter end, and heavier particles at the colder end. In this process, raw Uranium was converted into Uranium Hexafluoride gas and fed into a series of steam-heated steel columns. Gas molecules containing lighter U-235 would rise to the top of the column where they could be tapped off. The thermal diffusion plant, codenamed S50, was built next to the Clinch River to supply water for its steam plant and cooling system.

The second enrichment method used at Oak Ridge was gaseous diffusion. This was carried out in the colossal K-25 complex, which at 152,000 square metres in area was the largest building in the world at the time, surpassing the recently-completed Pentagon. In this process, Uranium Hexafluoride gas was passed through semipermeable nickel-mesh barriers arranged in a series of cascades. As lighter molecules diffuse through membranes faster than heavier ones, as the gas passed through the cascades it became increasingly enriched in U-235. Due to the corrosive nature of Uranium Hexafluoride, gaskets and seals in K-25 had to be made from a newly-discovered material called polytetrafluoroethylene – better known today as Teflon.

The third and final enrichment method at Oak Ridge were the Calutrons, which occupied a complex codenamed Y-12. Named after the University of California Berkeley where they were invented by Nobel laureate Ernest O. Lawrence, Calutrons essentially operated like giant mass spectrometer. Inside a large U-shaped vacuum tank, raw Uranium was vaporized and the resulting hot ions accelerated past a powerful magnetic field. Due to the difference in their mass, U-235 and U-238 atoms would be deflected by different amounts, splitting into two separate beams which were collected at the far end of the tank. To economize on space and energy use, multiple calutron tanks – 1,152 in total – were arranged around a massive ring-shaped electromagnet dubbed a “racetrack.” During construction, technicians at Y-12 ran into a serious problem: due to wartime munitions production, the copper needed to wire the electromagnets was in short supply. Instead, chief engineer Colonel James C. Marshall borrowed 13,3000 tons – or 430 million troy ounces – of silver bullion from the US Treasury, which was extruded into almost a thousand kilometres of wire.

Efficient uranium separation depended on the ion beams remaining tightly focused, a condition that required constant monitoring and adjustments to maintain. At first this task was carried out by technicians from Ernest O. Lawrence’s Berkeley laboratory, but when their skills became urgently needed elsewhere, the job was contracted out to the Tennessee Eastman Company. Due to a shortage of male workers, Eastman was forced to hire thousands of women – mostly high school graduates like Gladys Owens and Ruth Huddleston – reasoning that a job consisting mostly of adjusting dials could be carried out without knowing the exact nature of the work. When Lawrence’s technicians balked, arguing that the delicate work should be carried out by PhDs, a contest was held between the two groups. When the production figures were tallied, the results were indisputable: the “hillbilly girls” – as the technicians disparagingly called them – had beaten the PhDs hands down. According to Ray Smith, historian for the City of Oak Ridge, the reason was simple:

 “[The] young girls were doing what they were told. They were practicing statistical process control, just like they’d been trained. These scientists and engineers, they’d go trying to fix every little thing that was going wrong and the machine never took a set, so it never settled down.”

In the end, the decision to run all three Uranium enrichment processes in parallel proved a wise one, as the S-50 thermal diffusion plant never managed to attain a level of enrichment sufficient to fuel a bomb. But the project could not afford to waste a single gram of Uranium, so the low-enriched product from S-50 was simply used as feedstock for the more efficient K-25 and Y-12 plants. By mid-1944, however, the urgency of the Uranium enrichment program seemed to have faded, as scientists at the Los Alamos laboratory in New Mexico had discovered that another fissile isotope, Plutonium-239, could be bred far more efficiently than Uranium, and the B Reactor at Hanford in Washington state was built to produce it. Nonetheless, Uranium production continued as a backup. This too proved to be a wise decision, as an unfortunate discovery soon brought the  Plutonium program to a screeching halt. The first atomic bomb design, code-named Little Boy, was a gun-type device, wherein a propellant charge launches one subcritical mass of Uranium down a gun barrel into another, creating a supercritical mass that then detonates. When Plutonium was discovered, it was assumed that the same basic design could be used, albeit in a slightly modified form known as Thin Man. But when the first samples of reactor-bred Plutonium from Hanford arrived at Los Alamos, it was discovered that they contained unacceptably high levels of the isotope Plutonium-238. This isotope exhibits a high rate of spontaneous fission, meaning that when the bomb was triggered, the two subcritical masses would start inducing fissions in each other long before they came together, blowing the bomb apart prematurely in what was dubbed a “fizzle.” This discovery sent the whole project into a tailspin, and it seemed once again like the Uranium bomb was the only viable option. Eventually the scientists at Los Alamos would come up with the concept of implosion, where a spherical Plutonium core is compressed to criticality using a system of high-explosive lenses. But this was a radical concept with many unknowns, one which unlike Little Boy – which was almost guaranteed to work – would have to be thoroughly tested. This culminated in the July 16, 1945 Trinity test at Alamagordo, New Mexico – the world’s first nuclear detonation.

By July 1945, the S-50, K-25, and Y-12 enrichment plants had succeeded in producing 64kg of U-235, which was shipped to Los Alamos for integration into the Little Boy weapon. The empty bomb casing was delivered to the Pacific island of Tinian by the USS Indianapolis on July 26, with the Uranium arriving by air four days later. Then at 8:15 AM on August 6, 1945, the B-29 bomber Enola Gay dropped the bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, killing 66,000 people. This was followed three days later by the bombing of Nagasaki, using a plutonium-implosion device code-named Fat Man. Incredibly, due to the inefficient nature of the Little Boy design, of the 64kg of Uranium used only seven tenths of gram – about the mass of a paperclip – was actually converted into energy.

On learning of the role they had played in building the bomb, feelings among the Calutron Girls of Oak Ridge were mixed, as Ruth Huddleston recalled in a 2020 interview:

“They told about all the people that had been killed. It was horrible, but we knew that that would end the war. And my husband-to-be would have been over there soon if the war hadn’t ended. I was happy and then I was sad and then I was happy, and then I got to thinking about it,” she says. “I got to thinking that I had a part in killing all of those people and it really bothered me. It bothered me for a long time after that, but there wasn’t anything I could do about it. There would have been a lot more killed if we hadn’t dropped the bomb. You just have to face reality, so that’s what I did. But I still don’t like to think about that part of it.”

After the war, most of the Calutron Girls were dismissed from Tennessee Eastman to make way for the servicemen returning home. Their patriotic duty done, they scattered back across America and moved on to a variety of careers, Gladys Owens becoming an accountant and Ruth Huddleston a schoolteacher. The strict secrecy of Oak Ridge having been drilled into their heads, neither spoke a word about their wartime experiences – not even to their children or grandchildren – until long after they had retired. In 2004 Gladys Owens visited Oak Ridge for the first time in 59 years, sitting down at the same control panel where she’d worked for 8 months in 1945 and identifying herself in a famous photograph of the Calutron control room taken by Manhattan Project photographer Ed Westcott. On the subject of her wartime service, like Ruth Huddleston Owens’ feelings are conflicted:

“Sometimes I’m proud of what I was involved in, and sometimes I cry about it. We changed the world”.

If you liked this article, you might also enjoy our new popular podcast, The BrainFood Show (iTunes, Spotify, Google Play Music, Feed), as well as:

Expand for References


Kiernan, Denise, The Girls of Atomic City, Simon & Schuster, NY, 2013


Preston, Diana, Before the Fallout, Walker & Company, NY, 2005


Gladys Owens: ‘Calutron’ Technician Who Changed the World, Technicians Make it Happen, July 18, 2019,


“The Calutron Girls,”


Who Were the Calutron Girls of Oak Ridge? Explore Oak Ridge,


Henderson, Nancy, Girl Power, Circa 1940: Building The Bomb (and Not Knowing It) in East Tennessee, BlueRidge County,

The post The Calutron Girls: the Women Who Helped Build the Bomb appeared first on Today I Found Out.

from Today I Found Out
by Gilles Messier - June 24, 2022 at 12:11AM
Article provided by the producers of one of our Favorite YouTube Channels!

That Time Over 1000 People Were Crammed Onto One Plane in a Desperate Rescue Attempt

The Boeing 747 is among the most iconic and celebrated aircraft in history. Since first taking to the skies in 1969, the world’s first “Jumbo Jet” has become synonymous with luxury and reliability in air travel, the more than 1,500 aircraft produced having carried over 4 billion passengers over the last 50 years. But sadly the reign of the venerable “Queen of the Skies” is slowly coming to an end as more and more airlines trade in their ageing fleets for newer, more fuel-efficient designs. In July 2016, Boeing announced that it would no longer produce passenger versions of the 747, but would continue manufacturing cargo variants until 2022, whereupon the production line would finally be shut down. But while newer airliners such as the Airbus A380 and Boeing’s own 787 Dreamliner have surpassed the 747 in range, fuel efficiency, and passenger capacity, the old Jumbo Jet holds one aviation record that is unlikely to be broken anytime soon. On May 24, 1991, an El Al 747 took off with an astounding 1,088 people on board – the largest number of passengers ever carried by a single aircraft. This incredible feat was carried out as part of Operation Solomon, a daring Israeli mission to rescue the Jews of Ethiopia.

Ethiopia is home to one of the oldest Jewish communities in the world, known as Beta Israel or the Falashas. According to Ethiopian tradition the Falashas are the descendants of Israelite tribes who came to the region around 1000 B.C. with Menelik I, the first emperor of Ethiopia and the supposed son of the Biblical King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. Modern anthropologists, however, place the arrival of the Ethiopian Jews closer to 600 B.C. Occupying what are now the northern Ethiopian states of Amhara and Tigray, over the following 3,000 years the Falashas were subjected to numerous periods of religious persecution, with many Jews being forcibly converted to Christianity during the Axumite period of 80 BC to 825 AD and by the emperors of the Solomonic dynasty. Despite this, due to the Falashas’ isolation from other Jewish communities, it was not until the mid-19th Century that Zionism began to take root in Ethiopia. In 1849, the Jewish leadership in Ethiopia sent a delegation to Jerusalem to make contact with the Jewish authorities there and discuss the Aliyah – or return – of Beta Israel to the Holy Land. Twenty years later in 1969, monk Abba Mehari attempted the first mass Aliyah of Ethiopians to Jerusalem, but most of his followers died of disease along the way.

But the greatest danger to Beta Israel came in 1974, when the government of Emperor Haile Selassie I was deposed by the Derg, a Marxist-Leninist military junta lead by Colonel Mengistu Haile Mariam. Soon after taking power, Mengistu unleashed the Qey Shabir or Red Terror, a regime of violent political repression aimed at eliminating rival revolutionary groups such as the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Party and Tigray People’s Liberation Front and consolidating the Derg’s control over the country. Between 1976 and 1977, an estimated 750,000 Ethiopians were tortured and murdered as part of the purge. At the same time, the Derg imposed disastrous economic and agricultural reforms, including land collectivization, the resettlement of over 600,000 rural Ethiopians from the northern highlands, confiscating grain from areas with high rebel activity, and redistributing it in cities to keep urban populations loyal. These policies, coupled with severe droughts, led to a series of  devastating famines between 1983 and 1985 which killed over 1.2 million people and displaced 2.5 million more. Among the worst affected by the nearly two-decade-long civil war were the Falashas. Politically, Mengitsu and the Derg aligned themselves with the Soviet Union against the Western powers – and, by extension, the state of Israel. This, along with the Derg’s general anti-religious sentiment, led to Beta Israel being specifically targeted for political repression, with open religious practice, the teaching of Hebrew, and emigration from Ethiopia being banned. The plight of the Falashas soon came to the attention of the Israeli government, who began evaluating a possible rescue mission.

The 1950 Israeli Law of Return grants every Jewish person in the world the right to make Aliyah and become an Israeli citizen. In the 1970s, however, there was considerable debate among Israeli authorities whether the Falashas even counted as part of the Jewish diaspora. Having lived in isolation from other Jewish traditions for at least 2,000 years, the Falashas practiced a form of Judaism known as Haymanot, considered so different from Rabbinic Judaism that in 1973 the Israeli Ministry of Absorption issued a report declaring the Ethiopian Jews to be entirely foreign to Israeli Jews and thus not eligible for Aliyah. Shortly thereafter, however, Ovadia Yosef and Schlomo Goren, chief Rabbis of the Sephardi and Ashkenazi sects, issued proclamations declaring the Falashas to be legitimate descendants of the Israelites. These proclamations became official government policy when Prime Minister Menachem Begin came to power in 1977, and plans to evacuate Beta Israel from Ethiopia finally began in earnest.

As Israel had no formal diplomatic relations with Ethiopia, the Israeli Intelligence Service, Mossad, instead contacted the government of neighbouring Sudan. While the President of Sudan, Gaafar al-Numeiry, was no friend of Israel, he nonetheless agreed to establish a series of refugee camps along the border from which Ethiopian Jews could be evacuated to Israel. Between 1977 and 1984 over 8000 Falashas made the treacherous journey on foot from northern Ethiopia to the Sudanese border, with nearly 4,000 dying on the way due to disease, starvation, and banditry. At first the refugees were evacuated by the Israeli Navy, which ferried them to the remote Red Sea village of Arous, which Mossad had converted into a fake holiday resort as cover for the operation. But as more and more people arrived at the border it became clear that this method would be too slow to evacuate everyone before they died of disease in the camps. A massive airlift was thus proposed. However, there was a problem: as a member of the Arab League, Gaafar al-Numeiry could not be seen as aiding Israel, and while the initial evacuations had been easy to keep quiet, a large-scale airlift would require the full cooperation of the Sudanese military and intelligence services. Israel thus turned to the United States, which had a close relationship with al-Numeiry’s government. In June 1984 a representative from Sudan met with Richard Krieger and Ambassador Eugene Douglas of the U.S. State Department to ask for aid to prop up Sudan’s faltering economy. Sensing an opportunity, Krieger decided to exploit the representative’s anti-semitism in order to make the aid contingent upon Sudan’s cooperation with Israel. Claiming that congressional approval for aid was subject to approval by the omnipotent “Jewish Lobby,” Krieger suggested to his guest that evacuating the Ethiopian Jews would go a long way towards swaying public opinion, adding:

“Besides, these people are nothing but a burden on the Sudan.”

 The ploy worked, and the airlift, codenamed Operation Moses, began on November 21, 1984. The evacuation was carried out using Boeing 707s belonging to Belgian carrier Trans European Airlines. As TEA had been widely used for years by Muslim pilgrims travelling to Mecca, their presence in Sudan would not arouse suspicion. Every night for 36 days, groups of 220 refugees were driven by bus to Khartoum, from where they were flown to Brussels and then on to Tel Aviv.

Inevitably, news of the operation leaked out, and on January 5, 1985, under pressure from other Arab League members, al-Numeiry was forced to put an end to the airlift. In total, Operation Moses evacuated 7,800 Ethiopian Jews to Israel. But hundreds more remained in the Sudanese camps living in squalid conditions. This time around, it was the Americans who would take the leading role in evacuating them. While US diplomats managed to convince al-Numeiry to resume the airlift, to avoid further controversy he insisted upon a one-shot military operation rather than the protracted approach of Operation Moses. The US Government agreed, and after releasing $15 million in aid to Sudan, preparations for a second airlift, codenamed Operation Joshua, began. At midnight on March 28, 1985, six US Air Force C-130 Hercules transports, flying from Eilat Air Force Base in Israel, landed at a secret airstrip eight miles outside the Sudanese town of Gedaref. While the Air Force had prepared to evacuate up to 2,000 refugees, only 494 remained in the camps, so three of the transports returned from Sudan empty. By 9 AM all the refugees had been safely evacuated back to Eilat, where they were personally greeted by Israeli Prime Minister Simon Peres.

While Operation Moses and Joshua had been stunning successes, tens of thousands of Jews still remained in Ethiopia, and as Tigrean rebels pushed closer to the capital of Addis Ababa and the Mengistu Government faced imminent collapse, their situation grew increasingly precarious. After nearly a decade of barring the Ethiopian Jews from emigrating, in November 1990 Mengistu finally relented in exchange for $35 million in cash and arms from Israel. When in early 1991 the rebels finally took the capital and forced Mengitsu to flee, the Israeli government of Yitzhak Shamir launched Operation Solomon, the last and largest of the Aliya airlifts.

35 aircraft took part in Operation Solomon, consisting of Military C-130 Hercules transports and Boeing 707 and 747 airliners from Israeli carrier El Al. While the evacuation was originally intended to take place over 10-15 days, this was shortened to 48 hours when it became clear that any delay would allow the rebels to hold the Falashas as bargaining chips in international negotiations. In the end, however, the entire operation took less than 36 hours. Between May 24 and 25, 1991, the 35 aircraft made 40 non-stop flights between Addis Ababa and Tel Aviv, evacuating 14,325 Ethiopian Jews to Israel. One aircraft, a Boeing 747-25C registration number 4X-AXD, made history by making the 2,575 km flight with over 1,000 people aboard – the largest number of passengers ever carried by a single aircraft. Sources vary on the exact number, with reported figures ranging from 1,078 to 1,122 – including two babies born during the flight. But even the lowest reported figure is more than twice the 747’s maximum capacity of 524 – and greater even than the Airbus A380’s maximum capacity of 853. This was made possible by removing all of the aircraft’s seats, and by the fact that the starving refugees were considerably lighter than the average airline passenger and carried no luggage other than cooking utensils and the clothes on their backs.

While the evacuation gave the refugees a chance at a brand-new start, for many life in Israel has failed to live up to its promise. Many evacuees, coming from poor agricultural villages without electricity or running water, found adapting to modern Israeli society difficult, and with little education and low literacy rates, large numbers of Falashas were forced to spend years in Government-run Absorption Centres learning Hebrew and being retrained for the technological economy – only to face stiff competition from native Israelis for jobs. Today, the nearly 135,000 Ethiopians living in Israel are among the poorest in the country, earning 30-40% less than the average Israeli citizen and suffering from unemployment rates as high as 65%. Racism and discrimination against Falashas are also widespread. Up until the mid 1990s, Israeli blood banks threw out blood donated by Ethiopians for fear of AIDS contamination, while a 2013 report by Israeli news agency Haaretz claims that for years the Israeli Government carried out a program of forced sterilization on Falasha women. In July 2019 these tensions reached a boiling point when the shooting of 19-year old Solomon Teka by an off-duty Israeli police officer sparked mass protests across the country. Thus while after nearly 3000 years Beta Israel has finally been reunited with its ancestral land, its future remains as uncertain as ever.

If you liked this article, you might also enjoy our new popular podcast, The BrainFood Show (iTunes, Spotify, Google Play Music, Feed), as well as:

Expand for References


Palmer, Mark, Last Blast of the Jumbo, The Daily Mail, July 8, 2020,


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Bednarek, Janet, 50 Years Ago, the Boeing 747 Created Air Travel as we Know It, Quartz, October 4, 2018,


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Liebermann, Oren,  An off-duty police officer shot dead an unarmed black teen, sparking riots. But it didn’t happen where you think, CNN, July 4, 2019,


Knutsen, Elise, Israel Forcibly Injected African Immigrants with Birth Control, Report Claims, Forbes, January 28, 2013,

The post That Time Over 1000 People Were Crammed Onto One Plane in a Desperate Rescue Attempt appeared first on Today I Found Out.

from Today I Found Out
by Gilles Messier - June 24, 2022 at 12:08AM
Article provided by the producers of one of our Favorite YouTube Channels!

That Time a Scientist Stopped a Charging Bullfighting Bull Using Mind Control FOR SCIENCE!!!!

One day in the summer of 1963, Spanish neurologist José Delgado stepped into a bullring outside Córdoba and prepared to perform an audacious experiment. Armed only with an experimental radio transmitter, he prepared to face off with an angry Spanish fighting bull, bred specifically for strength and aggression. Delgado waved a flag to set the bull charging, but before the ton of galloping muscle and sharp horns could reach him he pressed a button on his remote control. Immediately the bull stopped in its tracks, shook its head in confusion, then calmly trotted away. Eyewitnesses to the event were stunned, for Delgado had apparently defeated the bull’s innate aggression using only a set of tiny electrodes implanted in its brain. It was the most dramatic – and disturbing – demonstration in a pioneering but controversial career that would earn Delgado the title “the father of mind control.”

José Manuel Rodriguez Delgado was born August 8, 1915 in the town of Ronda, Spain and received his doctorate of medicine from the University of Madrid in 1936, just as the Spanish Civil War broke out. During the war he served as a stretcher-bearer and medic for the Republican forces, being captured and held in a Nationalist concentration camp for 5 months. Under the regime of General Fransisco Franco Delgado was forced to redo his doctorate, receiving a Ph.D in physiology in 1940. Initially Delgado wanted to be an ophthalmologist like his father, but upon reading the works of Nobel Prize-winning Spanish neurologist Ramon y Cajal (“ee-cay-ahl”):

“I became fascinated by the many mysteries of the brain. How little was known then. How little is known now!”

In 1948 Delgado won a fellowship at Yale University working under legendary American neurologist John Fulton, whose experiments with severing the frontal lobes of chimpanzees had led to the development of the lobotomy for the treatment of mental illness. Delgado was horrified by such extreme methods, and instead gravitated towards the work of Walter Hess and Wilder Penfield, who had shown that by applying a mild electrical current to different regions of the brain they could elicit all sorts of responses, from involuntary limb movements to tastes, smells, and sounds, to emotions such as fear, aggression, and euphoria.

“I thought Fulton’s idea of destroying the brain was absolutely horrendous. My idea was to avoid lobotomy with the help of electrodes implanted in the brain.”

Starting with cats, Delgado gradually moved up to monkeys and then human psychiatric patients. Early results were promising:

“If you insert electrodes directly into the brains of cats and apes, they will behave like electronic toys. A whole series of motor functions can be triggered based on which button the experimenter pushes. This applies to all body parts: front and back paws, the tail, the hind parts, the head, and the ears.”

One test subject, being made to move his arm involuntarily using implanted electrodes, memorably declared:

“I guess, doctor, that your electricity is stronger than my will”.

But the equipment used in these early experiments, which involved wires snaking out of subjects’ scalps into bulky external monitors, was cumbersome, restrictive, and increased the chances of infection. Delgado, a technical as well as a medical genius, thus invented what he called a “stimoreceiver,” a miniaturized radio transmitter the size of a quarter which could be completely implanted beneath the scalp, power being supplied through an electromagnetic coil transmitting through the skin. Delgado also invented a “chemitrode” which delivered controlled amounts of drugs into the brain via radio command.

Delgado’s main interest lay in using implanted electrodes to help regulate strong emotions, especially aggression. In one dramatic experiment, performed in Bermuda in 1966, Delgado implanted a stimoreceiver in a gibbon ape who had been terrorizing his cagemates. The electrodes were implanted in the ape’s caudate nucleus, a region of the brain associated with aggression, and a lever connected to the transmitter was installed in the cage. One of the female apes quickly realized the significance of the lever and began enthusiastically pulling it to pacify the aggressive male. Within days, the entire social order of the cage had been turned upside-down. As Delgado later wrote:

“The old dream of an individual overpowering the strength of a dictator by remote control has been fulfilled, at least in our monkey colonies.”

Delgado next turned his attention to the treatment of epilepsy and schizophrenia, setting up shop in a psychiatric hospital in Rhode Island. Here the results of deep-brain stimulation were varied and often alarming, with Delgado reporting:

“A 36-year-old female epileptic, whose behaviour was normally “quite proper,” responded to stimulation by “giggling and making funny comments” and flirting with researchers. A sullen 11-year-old epileptic boy became chatty and friendly when stimulated. “Hey! You can keep me here longer when you give me these,” he exclaimed. He also announced, “I’d like to be a girl.””

In her book The Brain Changers: Scientists and the New Mind Control, author Maya Pine describes a film taken of another of Delgado’s patients:

As the film opens, the patient, a rather attractive young woman, is seen playing the guitar and singing “Puff, the Magic Dragon.” A psychiatrist sits a few feet away. She seems undisturbed by the bandages that cover her head like a tight hood, from her forehead to the back of her neck. Then a mild electric current is sent from another room, stimulating one of the electrodes in her right amygdala. Immediately, she stops singing, the brainwave tracings from her amygdala begin to show spikes, a sign of seizure activity. She stares blankly ahead. Suddenly she grabs her guitar and smashes it against the wall, narrowly missing the psychiatrist’s head.

Unfortunately, the therapeutic benefits of these experiments were mixed at best, and Delgado turned away more patients than he treated, declaring:

“We knew too little about the brain. It is much too complicated to be controlled. We never knew which parts of the brain we were stimulating with the stimoceiver. We didn’t even manage to prevent epileptic attacks, which we thought would be the simplest of things. We never found the area where epilepsy attacks originate.”

Delgado did, however, achieve some success in the treatment of chronic pain, particularly in one patient who had been injured in a car accident and whose pain had resisted drug treatment. Deep-brain stimulation is still sometimes used for this purpose – as well as the treatment of Parkinson’s – to this day.

The experiment which most excited Delgado, however, involved a female chimpanzee named Paddy, who was wired with a stimoreceiver programmed to detect a brain signal called a spindle, produced by the amygdala. Whenever the receiver detected a signal, it stimulated the Paddy’s brain to produce an unpleasant ‘aversive’ reaction. The result was a negative feedback loop in which Paddy’s brain produced fewer and fewer spindles and Paddy became progressively quieter and less motivated. Delgado predicted that such “neural pacemakers” could be used to help stop epileptic seizures or anxiety attacks in their tracks. In 1972, these experiments would also inspire Michael Crichton – author of Jurassic Park –  to pen a science fiction novel called The Terminal Man, in which a man fitted with a stimoreceiver to cure his epilepsy is instead driven to become progressively more aggressive.

But the experiment that truly put Delgado’s name on the map was the famous charging bull experiment of 1963. The experiment originated in a conversation with a Córdoba bull breeder, who argued that while Delgado’s electrodes might work in cats, monkeys, or even humans, they could not stop a fighting bull, which was specifically bred for aggression. Delgado accepted the challenge and with the breeder’s permission he and his team anesthetized a bull and fitted it with stimoreceiver equipment. The next day the bull was back to normal and ready for the experiment. As Delgado climbed into the ring, the breeder asked him if he had taken bull-fighting lessons in preparation. Delgado, who had grown up in the heart of bullfighting country, responded with mock outrage that of course he knew how to fight a bull!

A story on the bull experiments appeared two years later in the New York Times, finally bringing Delgado and his work to the public’s attention. Delgado was swamped with media inquiries, his experiments hailed as:

“…the most spectacular demonstration ever performed of the deliberate modification of animal behaviour through external control of the brain.”

In 1969, Delgado published a book titled Physical Control of the Mind: Toward a Psychocivilized Society, in which he declared that humanity was on the verge of “conquering the mind” and should use neutrotechnology to overcome its cruel, violent, and destructive tendencies and create “a less cruel, happier, and better man.” It could not have come at a worse time. In the late 1960s, the American public was just beginning to learn of the CIA’s infamous MKULTRA mind-control experiments on unwitting citizens, and despite his benevolent and pacifistic intentions Delgado was branded as a fascist who wanted to use brain implants to erase free will and control the population. Adding to the suspicion was the fact that some of Delgado’s research had been sponsored by the Office of Naval Research and the Air Force Aeromedical Research Laboratory. A paper expressing his views was also presented at the 1972 Congressional hearings on MKULTRA, which stated:

“We need a program of psychosurgery for political control of our society. The purpose is physical control of the mind. Everyone who deviates from the given norm can be surgically manipulated. The individual may think that the most important reality is his own existence, but this is only his personal point of view. This lacks historical perspective Man does not have the right to develop his own mind. This kind of liberal orientation has great appeal. We must electrically control the brain. Some day armies and generals will be controlled by electric stimulation of the brain.”

 Other researchers added fuel to the fire. In 1970 Harvard researchers Frank Ervin and Vernon Mark suggested that brain implants might be used to quell violence in black civil-rights protestors, while in 1972 Robert Heath from Tulane University claimed to have changed the sexual orientation of a homosexual man by electrical stimulating the septal region of his brain while he had sex with a female prostitute. As paranoia about mind control grew, strangers began accusing Delgado of having implanted electrodes in their brains and demanding that he take them out. One woman even sued Delgado for $1 million even though the two had never met. In 1974, Delgado was asked by the Spanish Minister of Education to establish a new medical school at the Autonomous University of Madrid. He jumped at the opportunity and moved back to Spain with his wife and children. Though Delgado switched his focus to non-invasive brain stimulation techniques, developing an early version of transcranial magnetic stimulation or TMS, this did little to rehabilitate his reputation. As his work was published only in Spanish journals, his later research was all but unknown in the United States and he continued to be remembered for his stimoreceiver experiments and controversial opinions on mind control. Jose Delgado moved back to the United States in 2004, dying in San Diego on September 15, 2011 at the age of 96.

Yet despite the storms of controversy surrounding his work, the neurostimulation technology Delgado pioneered never yielded the results he had hoped – and his critics feared. The brain, it turns out, is far more complicated than Delgado and his contemporaries assumed, and scientists have yet to fully crack its complicated neural code. Nonetheless, researchers have had some success in using deep-brain stimulation to treat conditions such as Parkinson’s, epilepsy, and paralysis, and chronic pain, and promising studies are underway to use it in the treatment of depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders. For now, however, mind control remains firmly in the domain of science fiction.

…or is it? Perhaps Delgado and the CIA were actually successful after all. Perhaps I myself was implanted with a stimoreceiver and am being forced against my will to record hundreds of YouTube videos per week. If you are watching this, please send help; I am located at – *stunned pause* – *sigh of contentment * – ahhh, that’s better. Now, where was I?

If you liked this article, you might also enjoy our new popular podcast, The BrainFood Show (iTunes, Spotify, Google Play Music, Feed), as well as:

Expand for References

Horgan, John, Tribute to Jose Delgado, Legendary and Slightly Scary Pioneer of Mind Control, Scientific American, September 25, 2017,


Horgan, John, Return of ElectroCures: Symptom of Psychriatry’s Crisis? Scientific American, June 24, 2015,


Horgan, John, Much-Hyped Brain-Implant Treatment for Depression Suffers Setback, Scientific American, March 11, 2014,


Jose Delgado’s “Physical Control of the Mind,”


Bartas, Magnus & Ekman, Fredrik, Psychocivilization and its Discontents: an Interview with Jose Delgado, Cabinet Magazine, Spring 2001,



Horgan, John, The Myth of Mind Control, Discover Magazine, October 2004,

The post That Time a Scientist Stopped a Charging Bullfighting Bull Using Mind Control FOR SCIENCE!!!! appeared first on Today I Found Out.

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by Gilles Messier - June 24, 2022 at 12:04AM
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