Where we attempt to fill you in on everything they forgot to teach you at school

The Secret Pi Confirmed

Welp, I got at least one thing right in my book Inside Dan Brown's Inferno. Today on the Wall Street Journal website:

When Dan Brown’s new thriller “Inferno” is published May 14, one thing his readers will look for are clues to solving the puzzles that he sprinkles inside his book and on his dust jackets...

Here’s one tip: it appears certain that Professor Langdon will need to draw upon his old algebra lessons. In a mystery yet to be deciphered, it turns out that the book’s publication date wasn’t chosen by random.

“It is written 5-14-13, which read backwards 3.1415 – the value of pi,” said Suzanne Herz, a Doubleday senior vice president. Ms. Herz declined to reveal how the value of pi relates to the book’s storyline, saying that would be for readers to discover.

Scooped! I posted the video at the top of this story on February 21, and wrote about it in my book (indeed, the fictional 'introduction' to Inside Dan Brown's Inferno is built around this hidden code), after getting the tip from one of the fantastic commenters on The Cryptex ('RalphK').

The inclusion of pi may be related simply to Dante's circles of hell in his Inferno. However, there's other more likely ways that it might be included - notably, the secret history of the ancient sage Pythagoras and his veneration by some of the drivers of the Renaissance. You can find out the full details in Inside Dan Brown's Inferno (did I mention it's only $2.99?).

Click on the cover below to go get a copy:

Inside Dan Brown's Inferno

Massive 'Pyramid' Beneath the Sea of Galilee?

Structure beneath the Sea of Galilee

Israeli archaeologists have discovered Jesus' Fortress of Solitude a massive stone structure at the bottom of the Sea of Galilee in Israel:

The mysterious structure is cone shaped, made of "unhewn basalt cobbles and boulders," and weighs an estimated 60,000 tons the researchers said... Rising nearly 32 feet (10 meters) high, it has a diameter of about 230 feet (70 meters).

...The structure was first detected in the summer of 2003 during a sonar survey of the southwest portion of the sea. Divers have since been down to investigate, they write in the latest issue of the International Journal of Nautical Archaeology.

"Close inspection by scuba diving revealed that the structure is made of basalt boulders up to 1 m (3.2 feet) long with no apparent construction pattern," the researchers write in their journal article. "The boulders have natural faces with no signs of cutting or chiselling. Similarly, we did not find any sign of arrangement or walls that delineate this structure."

They say it is definitely human-made and probably was built on land, only later to be covered by the Sea of Galilee as the water level rose. "The shape and composition of the submerged structure does not resemble any natural feature. We therefore conclude that it is man-made and might be termed a cairn," the researchers write.

Based on nearby megalithic sites, such as the monumental site of Khirbet Beteiha, 19 miles to the north-east of the submerged structure, researchers believe that the mysterious monument may date back more than 4000 years.

Livescience: Mysterious Stone Structure Discovered Beneath Sea of Galilee

Tutankhamen's Alien Glass

In 1996 in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, Italian mineralogist Vincenzo de Michele spotted an unusual yellow-green gem in the middle of one of Tutankhamun's necklaces. The jewel was tested and found to be glass, but intriguingly it is older than the earliest Egyptian civilisation.

Working with Egyptian geologist Aly Barakat, they traced its origins to unexplained chunks of glass found scattered in the sand in a remote region of the Sahara Desert. But the glass is itself a scientific enigma. How did it get to be there and who or what made it?

...An Austrian astrochemist Christian Koeberl had established that the glass had been formed at a temperature so hot that there could be only one known cause: a meteorite impacting with Earth. And yet there were no signs of a suitable impact crater, even in satellite images.

...In 1908, a massive explosion flattened 80 million trees in Tunguska, Siberia. Although there was no sign of a meteorite impact, scientists now think an extraterrestrial object of some kind must have exploded above Tunguska. Wasson wondered if a similar aerial burst could have produced enough heat to turn the ground to glass in the Egyptian desert.

(h/t Inannawhimsey)

The Heretic Volume 3

Volume 3 of The Heretic Magazine is now available for sale, and returns with another stellar line-up of material from the likes of Robert Schoch, Tim Wallace-Murphy, Mark Oxbrow and Robert Eisenman. The Heretic is a magazine project created by two of our good friends, editor Andrew Gough and designer Mark James Foster (Mark has worked on Darklore with me, and was also the designer behind Sub Rosa, so you'll definitely get a similar vibe to some of TDG's own projects).

Our current edition contains 16 lushly designed articles written by a variety of cross disciplinary experts and subject area enthusiasts in the fields of Alternative History, Lost Civilisations and Technologies, Mysteries and Conundrums, Rennes-le-Château, the Occult, Politics, Science and more. No magazine offers more specialized esoteric content than The Heretic.

Edited and collated by Andrew Gough, Volume 3 features (alphabetically) Sol Aris, Dawn Bramadat, Miguel Conner, Peter Cresswell, Robert Eisenman, Ralph Ellis, Robert Feather, Brien Foerster, Mark Foster, Andrew Gough, Mark Oxbrow, Jack Minier, Tim Wallace-Murphy, Madlen Namro, Margaret Robertson, Robert Schoch and Richard Webster. Once again we have compiled a bumper crop of thought-provoking articles and features.

Our latest edition is available NOW in two digital formats: firstly as a multi-touch iBook for iPad and secondly as a Kindle edition. The two versions are very different and the richest experience will be gained from the iPad version. We have designed the magazine primarily for the iPad, but are also offering the Kindle edition for those readers who are interested in our content, yet do not own an iPad.

The Heretic's website has direct links for purchasing the magazine from both the iTunes store and various Amazons around the world.

[Visit The Heretic Magazine]

Secrets of the Inferno

Eight fascinating topics that should be in the next Dan Brown book

Dan Brown and his publishers have released a limited amount of information about his upcoming novel Inferno, most notably that it will be set in the Italian city of Florence, and that it will involve one of the great pieces of literature, the Inferno by Dante Alighieri (the first part of his Divine Comedy). Inside Dan Brown's Inferno Florence is a fantastic location for a novel: Dante, Michelangelo, Galileo, da Vinci and Machiavelli all hailed from the city, and as the 'birthplace of the Renaissance' under the patronage of the Medici family, it is filled with architectural and artistic treasures. But beyond some of the obvious locations, such as the great cathedral that dominates the city sky-line, the Duomo, a little detective work can unveil some other fantastic elements that would make great topics to explore in a Brownian type novel. I've done exactly that in my ebook, Inside Dan Brown's Inferno, from which I've selected just eight topics below that I think Dan Brown will likely feature in his book – if he doesn't, you'd almost have to feel that he hasn't done his homework…

Galileo's Fingers

Dan Brown's novels are often seen as 'giving the bird' to the Catholic Church, and in Inferno he has the opportunity to use the middle finger of one of the greatest scientists in history. If Dan Brown's main character Robert Langdon ends up at the Galileo Museum, bordering the Arno River, he could point out a number of historical treasures, including Galileo's telescope, through which the genius Florentine discovered the moons of Jupiter and the phases of Venus, both of which offered support for the (at the time) heretical Copernican theory that the Earth revolved around the Sun. But perhaps more fitting of a Dan Brown novel are the three fingers of the great man, preserved within elegant egg-shaped glass containers, that are on display in the museum. Will Galileo point the way for Langdon to solve a puzzle?

Galileo's Middle Finger

Sacred Geometry

The publication date for Dan Brown's Inferno is May 14, 2013, or 5.14.13. Turn that around, and you get 3.14.15, the first five digits of pi.* Add to that the fact that a cryptic clue on Dan Brown's website is comprised of the words 'Tarty Sect' and we definitely start wondering whether Pythagoras and sacred geometry are going to feature in some way: 'Tarty Sect' could be rewritten Pie Sect, a pun suggesting the Pythagorean cult, and what's more 'Tarty Sect' is an anagram of 'Tectractys' - the symbol of the Pythagoreans, a triangle made of subsequent lines of 1 point, 2 points, 3 points and 4 points.* A number of the great Renaissance minds of Florence held Pythagoras in great esteem, so there's definitely a link worth exploiting there for Dan Brown. Additionally, the number 33, often linked to the Pythagoreans, ... Read More »

Video Trailer for 'The Forbidden Book'

Cat Vincent recently reviewed The Forbidden Book, by Joscelyn Godwin, Guido Mina di Sospiro, for us here on TDG. And Cat makes it plain in his review that the book was not up his alley. But I've also heard from others whose opinion I trust that they enjoyed the book, so - as with most books, music and movies - there's no doubt plenty of subjectivity involved with opinions. So, in the interests of fairness, above is the video trailer for The Forbidden Book, which features some of the praise given to the novel. If you've read the book, feel free to comment below with your own thoughts, or below Cat's original review.

You can grab your own copy of The Forbidden Book from Amazon's Kindle store, or in a hardcover edition for just a few dollars more.

On Top of the World: Images from the Great Pyramid

Image taken from on top of the Great Pyramid

A group of Russian youths has (illegally) climbed the Great Pyramid at Giza at night, and posted some lovely photos online (such as the one above) for all of us law-abiding citizens to drool over.

I was taken by the fact that one of the images featured someone lying in almost the exact location on top of the Great Pyramid as the two ladies were standing in the photo I've posted previously from 1920 - we move through the ghosts of the past no matter where we travel. Compare the difference between skylines in the two following images: the first taken by the Russian adventurers this year, the second taken almost 100 years ago, in 1920. Cairo seems to have grown a little (especially considering the centre of Cairo is in the opposite direction)...

Looking at Khafre's Pyramid

Ladies atop the Great Pyramid

In juxtaposition, the stones on the Great Pyramid and Khafre's pyramid look not to have changed at all. As the old saying goes, "man fears time, time fears the pyramids"...

Pyramid Lines

Giza Pyramids

One of the many amazing facts about the three pyramids of the Giza Plateau in Egypt, built almost 5000 years ago, is that they are aligned remarkably accurately to the cardinal points. How do we know this? Mostly because, um, a few people measured them about a century or more ago, and we just keep repeating what they said.

But no longer do we have to rely on old, possibly inaccurate measurements! Archaeologists Clive Ruggles and Erin Nell undertook a week-long survey of the famous pyramid complex, aiming to clarify the data concerning the main three pyramids' orientation, and also determine the orientations "of as many as possible of the associated structures" surrounding them. To do so, the pair departed from the usual method of using the corners of the buildings, and instead identified a series of points along the best preserved structural segments of each side.

The result? Nell and Ruggles found that the pyramids truly were aligned very accurately to the cardinal points, that there was "only a very slight difference in orientation" between the north-south axes of the two larger pyramids at Giza, those of Khufu and Khafre (approximately 0.5 arc minutes), and that the sides of Khafre's pyramid are actually more perfectly perpendicular than those of the 'Great Pyramid' of Khufu.

But perhaps the most interesting discovery was that the east-west axis of both pyramids was even closer to "true cardinality" than the north-south axis. For many years there has been some debate as to whether the alignment of the pyramids was executed by sighting the circumpolar stars of the northern sky, or via the Sun (using noon shadows or rising point on the equinox). This debate has also sometimes been associated with a debate over Egyptian culture of that time being centered around a 'solar cult' or a 'stellar cult', with a possible change from stellar to solar between Khufu and his son Khafre (note the 're' on the end of the latter's name, denoting the Sun).

Nevertheless, Nell and Ruggles concluded that the main pyramids were probably aligned using the circumpolar stars. However, they also noted from their data that the "broader context of associated structures suggests that the east-west orientation in relation to sunrise or (in one case) sunset may have been a, or even the, key factor in many cases."

Read: "The orientations of the Giza pyramids and associated structures", published in the journal Archaeoastronomy.

Inside Dan Brown's Inferno: The Voynich Manuscript

It is well-known that Dan Brown likes to engage in fun games with his readers, often setting 'treasure hunts' through which they can get access to more information about his work than is readily available. Perhaps the most significant example was the cover of his bestselling novel The Da Vinci Code, in which a number of codes were embedded that, when solved, gave hints to the topics that would be discussed in the next book in the series. By solving these ciphers, I was able to write a book predicting the content of The Lost Symbol some five years before it was released.

With the publication date of Brown's next novel Inferno now set (which, incidentally, seems to have been deliberately chosen in order to encode the value of Pi), what can we find if we search around for other possible clues to the strange topics that Dan Brown might explore this time? Taking a look at his website, we find a number of little puzzles waiting to be solved, one of which takes this form:

Dan Brown's Voynich Code

While at first glance this square of letters and numbers might look like gibberish, it's actually quite easily solved ... Read More »

Graham Hancock Working on 'Fingerprints of the Gods Part 2'

Graham Hancock

Many regular visitors to this site were inspired by, or at least enjoyed, the 'hidden history' bestseller Fingerprints of the Gods, written by Graham Hancock. Those readers will surely be happy to hear that Graham has mentioned on Facebook that he is now working on a sequel to the book, after being inspired by a couple of recent developments:

I thought I’d share two of the developments, one in the field of archaeology, one in the field of geology, that persuaded me some years ago that it was time to begin work on a sequel to Fingerprints of the Gods. Please note, however, that what I’m going to outline in this short post is only a very small part of the much wider range of accumulated evidence I’ll present in the sequel – powerful new discoveries and new understandings in many different fields that have come to light slowly, piece by piece during the past two decades. Taken together, I believe these new findings provide overwhelming support for the thesis I put forward nearly twenty years ago in Fingerprints of a titanic global cataclysm in the window between 13,000 and 12,000 years ago, around the end of the last Ice Age, that wiped out and destroyed almost all traces of a great global civilisation of prehistoric antiquity. I’m already well ahead with the research and I aim to complete writing of the book by December 2014 and to publish in the autumn of 2015.

Emerging from mainstream science – which has so often ridiculed and dismissed my work – the first piece of evidence that made me realise there was a new story to be told was proof that north America was struck by several pieces of a giant fragmenting comet 12,900 years ago (i.e. 10,900 BC), causing an extinction-level event all around the planet, radically changing global climate and initiating the sudden and hitherto unexplained thousand-year deep-freeze right at the end of the Ice Age that geologists call the Younger Dryas.

The second early clue was the discovery in Turkey of an extraordinary 12,000-year old megalithic site called Gobekli Tepe, which is on the scale of Stonehenge but 7,000 years older than any of the other great stone circles known to history anywhere else in the world. Furthermore the best megalithic work at Gobekli Tepi is the oldest and the site was deliberately buried 10,000 years ago only to be rediscovered, and to have its importance and mysterious nature recognised long after the publication of “Fingerprints of the Gods”.

According to orthodox history, the period of 12,000 years ago (10,000 BC) is the "upper palaeolithic", i.e. before "the neolithic", and our ancestors then are only supposed to have been hunter gatherers, and incapable of large-scale stone-cutting and engineering works. Yet the scale and perfection of the 12,000-year old megaliths at Gobekli Tepe speak of a civilisation that had already accumulated -- by that date -- thousands of years of experience of working with and setting up large blocks of stone weighing in the range of 10 to 20 tons each with one piece thought to weigh 50 tons. The site appears literally out of nowhere but even the most sceptical mainstream archaeologists (who recognise its importance but have kept very quiet about its implications for the stories we tell ourselves about the origin of civilisation) now admit that there must be a very long and so-far unrevealed background to the wonders of Gobekli Tepe. That background upsets all established models of the time-line of history and directly supports the thesis of a great civilisation, lost to history between 13,000 and 12,000 years ago, that I controversially put before the public in 1995 with Fingerprints of the Gods.

While the book is still a couple of years away, Graham has another fiction novel out in June – War God, set during the Spanish Conquest of Mexico - and maintains a busy speaking schedule (see his lecture page for appearances).

Graham also notes that anybody advance-purchasing copies of the UK edition of War God can request a personally signed and dedicated bookplate from him, that he will send out to you at his own expense. See the War God section of his website for details.