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Interdisciplinary research blog by scholars at the Institute of Linguistics and Laboratory of Information Systems of Adam Mickiewicz University

Word of the day 1

Filip Graliński

etereoplano (aetherplane)

Così pensai alla possibilità dell“etereoplano, apparecchio cioé per andare anche fuori di quel mondo come alla luna, altri pianeti e forse anche alle lontane stelle - considerando possibile aumento straordinario della velocità diminuendo la forza attrattiva della terra e più ancora servendosi delle attrazioni dei pianeti.

[So I thought of the possibility of the aetherplane, a device to leave Earth, to go to the moon, to other planets and, maybe, even to distant stars…]

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Long before the Blue Whale — suicidal cult in Soviet Russia

Filip Graliński

Enter the maze of canards and contemporary folklore and you can’t be sure what you’ll find.

I was looking for the “midwife to murderers” story, but found a forerunner of the Blue Whale Challenge (see Snopes.com’s take on the Blue Whale) in a Polish newspaper from 88 years ago. The story is about a suicidal, let’s say, “game” happening in the Wild East.

See the original clipping below, but first a synopsis in English:

  • it’s 1929, Soviet Russia, Moscow, Tverskoy Boulevard;
  • a young woman, on her way back from work, was approached by a good-looking gentleman and asked whether she was a… virgin;
  • … upon confirmation, the man offered her 10 chervonets for a simple work that would not bring discredit to her;
  • she agreed, though not without some hesitation, and was led to a nearby car where she was blindfolded (but told not be afraid — her eyes were covered so that she would not know where they are going);
  • finally, they arrived at some place, the blindfold was taken off and she found herself in a cellar — 3 walls were covered with white silk and one was just made of regular, red bricks, there was a large niche there;
  • the woman was told to sit on a chair in front of the niche;
  • she heard people singing sad Russian songs and saw a procession of 5 men and 5 women (clad in white and masked) enter the cellar and stand in a half-circle in front of the niche;
  • then a man and a woman entered the cellar from some other place, they were also clad in white but not masked;
  • the pair went into the niche…
  • … they were suicides to be walled up there
  • the young woman was watching in horror what was going on and when the mason work was done, she was told to clean up the lime waste — the cultists said that a virgin is needed for that (as required by the rite);
  • then she was blindfolded, taken back to Tverskoy Boulevard and given the money as promised;
  • she went to the police station immediately and gave a testimony
  • … but was unable to locate the house when the ritual took place.


“It's Venus”, declared dr. J. Allen Hynek

Filip Graliński

I’m midway through The Close Encounters Man. How One Man Made the World Believe in UFOs by Mark O’Connell, a biography of J. Allen Hynek, a prominent astronomer and… ufologist. This is not a review (though the book starts with the best first paragraph I’ve ever read), I treated it as a challenge — to find something about Hynek that should be included in his biography, but it was not.

We’re better at Polish stuff, but, anyway, our researching super powers brought us the following tidbit:


Skeleton in a tree

Filip Graliński


Chasing Walter Y. Wentz

Filip Graliński


Dancing about pop music

Filip Graliński


1940 selfie

Filip Graliński


The upper ten thousand antedated

Filip Graliński


The Mystery of the Pedespeed

Filip Graliński


„50k words” briefly

Filip Graliński