Bosnia’s Sherlock Holmes of Big Ball Mysteries


If an archaeologist unearthed an enormous wheel in a dig of ancient ruins, it would be pretty self-explanatory what it was for, mobility of some sort. However, if the same archaeologist were to unearth an enormous ball with a 5 foot radius and most likely made of iron, surely the archaeologist would be scratching his head and thinking, “What the heck?” Well, that just happened in Bosnia. What could very well be the oldest man-made ball for who knows what has been unearthed  in a forest that lies outside the Bosnian town of Podubravlie.

The gringa is enthralled. Is it man-made? Is it naturally occurring? Is it the remnant of a croquet park from a by-gone era of Bosnian giants? Is Bosnia the only place on Earth where big mystery balls can be found?

The study of big mysterious ancient balls is the favorite field of archaeologist Semir Osmanagich, affectionately known as “Sam”. For the past 15 years Sam has devoted his life to the research of prehistoric stone balls. Despite being made fun of by archaeological peers, Sam remains dedicated to solving the mystery of whether these balls are naturally occurring or man-made. The gringa wants to encourage Sam and remind him that the “haters gonna hate” so follow your dream! And, since Sam has a Ph.D., the gringa believes that he’s not crazy, well, maybe crazy like a fox and on the scent of a mystery his archaeology peers who can’t think outside the box simply don’t understand.

Sam has been discovering mystery balls all over the world: granite balls in Costa Rica, volcanic stone balls in Mexico, stone balls on Isla del Cano, volcanic balls on Easter Island, Tunisia, and the Canary Islands, Antarctica, New Zealand, Russia, the U.S.A., Argentina, Albania, Croatia, Serbia and, now, Bosnia. Sam has been very busy! He has become so enamored with mystery balls that he has created his very own foundation, “Archaeological Park: Bosnian Pyramid of the Sun” to support the investigation of this fascinating mystery. Balls have consisted of volcanic material, granite, and sandstone. The latest ball in Bosnia has not yet had all of its analysis complete but because of its reddish color iron is highly suspected to be the material of which it is made up of.

The first Bosnian balls were discovered in the 1930s according to local records. 80 balls were unearthed and some were eventually transported by river to other locations. In the 1970s local legends surrounding the balls enjoyed a revival and many locals were hopeful that perhaps they were the hiding place of treasure hordes of gold. Many balls were destroyed in hopes of finding untold wealth. Only eight of the original 80 were recovered and are on exhibit at Sam’s archaeological park which has become a local tourist attraction.

Sam’s current project site can only be worked when winter breaks. By spring of this year excavation had advanced to the point that it was apparent that the largest European stone ball was about to be completely uncovered. With half of the ball exposed the radius is estimated to be about 5 feet. If the reddish material proves to be iron the ball would be expected to weight over 30 tons. That would mean that Bosnia can boast the biggest ball in all of Europe, third in the world to second place Costa Rica with a 35 ton ball and first place Mexico with a 40 ton ball.

But the gringa wants to know what the real significance is to finding these big balls other than just being curious and interesting. The gringa also wants to know what the alternative theories are that Sam’s mocking peers claim.

The naysayers claim that the balls are no big deal. They suspect they are just freaks of nature that occur through a process known as concretion. This occur when layers of sediment occur in layers then compact and over hundreds of thousands of years form into balls. It is easy to find images of naturally occurring spheres in nature created by concretion. However, two things set these apart from what Sam is studying.

  • #1. Naturally occurring concretion spheres are small scale compared to the ones Sam has found and claims to be man-made.
  • #2. Naturally occurring concretion spheres are not perfectly spherical, often having flaws. Sam’s big balls are perfectly round.
  • #3. Naturally occurring concretion spheres usually occur en-masse with variation in size and not-so-perfect round shape. Sam’s big balls can sometimes be found isolated from one another.

The gringa scratches her head and thinks that anything squished under thousands of pounds of earth would never form into a ball. It would be squished, like a pancake, maybe wavy, or even flaked from tectonic plate activity shoving things around but never, ever round.

Sam’s theory believes these balls to be man-made. If he’s right, this latest discovery of a 1,500 year-old enormous, man-made, iron ball would prove that European civilizations were much more advanced than was previously expected. Now why would such a theory be controversial among archaeologists? The gringa likes to think that people of old were intelligent, ingenious, clever and quite capable of innovation. How sad to be led to believe that ancient people were just big, ol’ dummies. The dear reader can enjoy a video  of Sam’s discovery and decide for yourself.

The gringa plans to keep Sam on the radar because I find this big ball mystery fascinating. And I wish him the best of luck in solving the mystery and having the chance to say, “I told ya so!” to all his haters!

Sources & Image Credit: http://www.yahoo.com, http://www.piramidasunca.ba

 

 

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Isaac Newton By The Sea


NASA recently reported images of an X-ray tail (or, ribbon) of galactic gas. It has broken cosmic records with the extraordinary length of 250,000 light years. The published images are a composite from combined data that originated from the Chandra orbiting observatory and the Isaac Newton Group (ING) of Telescopes that are located in the Canary Islands of Spain.

ING consists of two telescopes. One is named William Herschel (WMT) and the other is Isaac Newton (INT). They are located on a seaside cliff of La Palma Island and command a breathtaking view of the sea as well as the night sky. Isaac Newton began serving astronomers in 1984 and William Hershel in 1987.

ING is a collaborative effort of scientists representing the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Spain. Their goals in serving the world community of astronomers and space related science is to provide world class telescope operations and programs that aid in research efforts. To encourage innovative methods in science and research, ING welcomes projects that involve novel instruments as “visitors”.  ING is committed to fostering original thinking as well as strongly supporting classical observing.

The Isaac Newton Telescope is open for visiting observers. New instruments are now being enjoyed with funding to provide more. One new instrument, the PAUCam, is a state of the art imaging device that creates prime focus capabilities for the William Hershel Telescope. A wide-field multi-object spectrograph is being developed for William Hershel and expected to become operational in 2017. This instrument will be part of a five year study to help understand how the Milky Way was “assembled”.

WEAVE is the name of the spectrograph developed for William Hershel. WEAVE was designed and built by a consortium of institutes from the UK, the Netherlands, Spain and France. Although visitors will still have access to observe the heavens through William Hershel, much of the telescope’s time will be devoted to the study of three particular projects: 1. The archaeology of the Milky Way; 2. The evolution of the galaxy; 3. Dark energy and its nature. These projects create wonderful opportunities for the UK, the Netherlands and Spain to make important scientific contributions to the world community’s knowledge of outer space.

Resident student programmes are available with ING. Over the past decade, forty students have served in the position of INT support astronomers and have gained valuable hands-on experience and technical skills. In fact, since 2009, 53 PhD theses have been based on ING data. Announcements will be made in March 2016 about the details of the 2016/2017 programme which offers astronomy and astrophysics PhD’s, MSc’s. INT welcomes students who are interested in any field of astronomy or astronomical instrumentation.

Students stay in flats provided by ING and receive a modest monthly stipend. These are cozy abodes within walking distance to the observatories, however, ING also provides transportation back and forth. For one year students will have the opportunity to participate in supportive roles in the work performed by one of the world’s most scientifically productive and versatile telescope groups. They will become part of the professional astronomical family of La Palma.

To qualify for admission to the programme, students must be a European citizen or European student resident. Enrollment in an astronomy PhD or MSc program or in the final year of undergraduate astronomy or physics course is required. English is a must, Spanish is a plus. It is also helpful to have some experience with Linux/UNIX operating systems as well as IRAF astronomical data reduction software. While participating in the program, expect to work 37 hours weekly, day or night, as well as weekends and holidays. A valid driving license is expected as well as being able to pass a medical examination.

Four positions are available. Students report for duty in September. During the one year of service, students have a 25 day leave allowance.

Qualified students who are interested should prepare a cover letter presenting experience along with any other pertinent information to be considered. Two references are required. Applications must be received by May 1 via e-mail or snail-mail. E-mail contact is Ovidiu Vaduvescu, INT studentship program manager, ovidiuv@ing.iac.es. Snail mail contact info:

Studentship Programme Manager

Isaac Newton Group of Telescopes

Apartado de coreos 321, E-38700, Santa Cruz de La Palma, SPAIN

Fax: +34 922 425 401

And, if you are unqualified, like the gringa, but still interested in what goes on at ING, their website has an interesting feature that the gringa really likes. It’s called “Ask an Astronomer!”. You simply fill out the e-mail form and submit. It’s not just any ol’ email form, however. It also has lots of other information to pick and choose from. Click “send” and wait for an amazing scientist to school you on what you want to know.

Source: www.ing.iac.es

Photo Credit: en.wikipedia.org