FORTEAN FOLLOW UPS
Further developments in past FT news stories
GHOST OF KYIV [FT418:4]
News outlets identified the alleged Ukrainian pilot ace, the “Ghost of Kyiv”, as Major Stepan Tarabalka, 29, after he was killed in action on 13 March. The Ghost was credited with up to 40 kills of Russian aircraft, but after Tarabalka’s death Ukraine’s Air Force Command admitted that he was not the Ghost and had not shot down 40 planes. Instead, they confessed that the Ghost was “a collective image of pilots of the Air Force’s 40th tactical aviation brigade, who defend the sky over the capital”. Tarabalka, though, has been posthumously awarded Ukraine’s highest medal for bravery in combat, the Order of the Golden Star, with the title Hero of Ukraine. nzherald.co.nz, 1 May 2022.
TURIN SHROUD [FT418:11, 419:9]
Following claims that the Shroud is a mediæval tablecloth and challenges to its carbon dating, research using a new scientific dating technique has put its origins firmly back in the first century, consistent with it being from the time of Christ. The carbon dating carried out in 1988 indicated it was of mediæval origin. Italian scientist Liberato De Caro used a technique known as Wide-Angle X-ray Scattering (WAXS) to date the Shroud and explained to the National Catholic Register that “the technique of dating linen by X-ray is non-destructive, therefore it can be repeated several times on the same sample”. He used WAXS on various historic fabrics whose dates were well established, then compared his Shroud results to these. He found that its closest match was a piece of fabric from the siege of Masada in AD 55-74. He also said the analysis showed pollen samples consistent with those found at ancient sites in Palestine, confirming that the Shroud had spent time in the Middle East.
De Caro also suggested several reasons why the 1988 carbon dating could be wrong, saying: “Fabric samples are usually subject to all kinds of contamination, which cannot always be controlled and completely removed from the dated specimen... if the cleaning procedure of the sample is not thoroughly performed, carbon-14 dating is not reliable.” He says that this is likely to have been the case with the 1988 dating, as it showed there was a significant increase in carbon-14 found moving from the edge of the Shroud to the centre; such a change would have meant that the age of the Shroud steadily decreased as you moved across it. www1.cbn.com, 23 Apr 2022.
NEEDLE PANICS [FT413:4-5]
The wave of “spiking by needle” reports across the UK and Ireland in autumn last year subsided with no perpetrators being apprehended and blood tests from alleged victims indicating nothing more than unwise drinking and recreational drug use. This led police to conclude that it was a social panic, largely spread by social media, particularly as medical professionals pointed out that the practicalities of drugging someone against their will by stabbing them with a needle made it almost impossible.
However, the message does not seem to have reached France: April saw a wave of alarm spreading across the country as dozens of women reported nausea, dizziness and sharp pain while out partying, followed by the discovery of a red dot surrounded by a circular bruise on their skin, which they interpreted as a needle mark. French police have received at least 60 reports of spiking by needle since early April, and Thierry Fontaine, of the UMIH hospitality association, representing nightclubs, said the “sick and perverse” attacks were sparking “hysteria” among young people. He added that nightclubs were reporting a 50 per cent fall in revenue as revellers afraid of needle attacks were staying away. Meanwhile, as the music festival season gets going, attacks have also been reported from these. Given the British experience, it is unsurprising that the police have not been able to find any culprits, nor identify the devices used. news. yahoo.com, 29 Apr 2022.
MALIAN NONUPLETS [FT408:9, 411:27]
The world’s only nonuplets to all survive their birth, born to Malian Halima Cissé, have reached their first birthday “in perfect health”. Their father, Abdelkader Arby, an officer in the Malian army, says “They’re all crawling now. Some are sitting up and can even walk if they hold on to something,” and that their mother was doing well. “It’s not easy, but it’s great. Even if it’s tiring at times, when you look at all the babies in perfect health, we forget everything.” BBC News, 4 May 2022.
DIGGING UP DOUG [FT414:10]
Disappointment awaited Colin and Donna Craig-Brown when the results of the genetic analysis of what they believed was a worldrecord 7.8kg (17lb) potato they had named “Doug” came back. The tests concluded it was, in fact, a gourd tuber, so Guinness refused to accept it as a worldbeating spud.
Colin said: “It sure looked and tasted like a potato,” although he conceded that he’s never tasted a gourd tuber. “He is the world’s biggest not-a-potato,” he concluded. theguardian.com, 16 Mar 2022.