Has DNA finally identified Jack the Ripper?

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aaronkosminskijacktheripperBlood and semen found on a shawl has positively identified the killer who terrorized 1880s London and still haunts the popular imagination, Britain’s Mail on Sunday reports in an exclusive.

Jack the Ripper turns out to be somebody who was one of the suspects all along

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‘Manna from heaven': Magic Last Supper papyrus found in England

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papyrusIn 6th century Egypt, not far from the Nile, a Christian wrote special biblical passages in Greek on the back of a tax receipt.

The fragment of papyrus drifted into obscurity and since 1901 has languished in vaults deep inside a library in England.

But now, it’s found the light. Continue reading

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World War II whodunit solved, German historian says

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In the 1960s sitcom Hogan’s Heroes, a POW camp is run by inept German soldiers. In Mel Brooks’ version of the Lubitsch classic To Be or Not to Be, the Nazis are bumbling evil-doers.

Such blundering Nazis not only existed, they were purposely cast in important roles in a real-life spy mission, according to a book published in Germany by historian Monika Siedentopf.

As a prelude to invasion of the British Isles, Nazi Germany launched an espionage offensive in 1940. But the 12 spies who were slipped into England and Scotland quickly blew their cover, the Guardian reports. A British official at the time blamed it on “their own stupidity.”

For decades, it was a mystery: Why would the Nazis send incompetents on such an important mission? Continue reading

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Photo: First American selfie was taken in Pa. in 1839

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the_first_selfie_Robert_CorneliusRobert Cornelius of Philadelphia captured his own image in 1839, in the first selfie.

He used a cumbersome camera. It wasn’t until the Kodak came out in 1888 that the snapshot was born.

“A game even emerged called ‘snapshooting,’ a sort of photographic version of tag: You tried to escape while someone raced around trying to catch you on film, Clive Thompson writes.

Read more about how snapshots changed the way we see the world here.

This Just In looked at why smiles are so rare in the oldest photos here.

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Care for a nip? 200-year-old bottle of booze found in shipwreck

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bottle-shipwreck-livescienceThey don’t make ‘em like they used to.

After two centuries at the bottom of the sea, you might expect a bottle to contain sea water. But underwater archaeologists from Maritime Museum of Gdansk who were investigating a shipwreck  in the Baltic Sea have announced that a bottle they found still packs a wallop, according to Poland’s Ministry of Science and Science EducationContinue reading

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U.S. ‘kidnapped’ Soviet spacecraft

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lunikThe Kidnapping of the Lunik may sound like the latest spy thriller, but it’s the title of a U.S. intelligence report from 1967.

The USSR, in the midst of the space race, sent the Lunik — Sputnik’s younger but stronger sister — on a global tour, an old-fashioned exhibition/trade fair to demonstrate Communism’s most high-tech achievement.

You’d think that the Soviets would send a Hollywood-style mock-up, right? Continue reading

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Not so fail-safe: Declassified documents confirm H-bomb close call

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Whew. That was a close one.

Declassified documents this week provide new details on the H-bombs that accidentally fell on Goldsboro, N.C., in January 1961, an incident that This Just In explored last year.

It was a scare that prompted Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara to note that “by the slightest margin of chance, literally the failure of two wires to cross, a nuclear explosion was averted,” the National Security Archive reports. Continue reading

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