Star Jelly: Meteoric Deposit or Something Else?

Star Jelly
Star Jelly
Star Jelly is a term used to describe a strange opaque jelly-like substance that people have been claiming falls to Earth during meteor showers for hundreds of years. The substance is apparently very real and it does seem to fall from the sky, though there is not any concrete evidence of this. It is weird enough, in and of itself, but some of the theories of its origins and the lack of scientific knowledge regarding Star Jelly make the substance even weirder.

Star Jelly is described as opaque or gray in color. It is said to be like a gelatin mold. Mounds of star jelly that are up to several feet in diameter or length have been discovered. Blobs of it have been found in trees, on top of cars, on the ground and more. Scotland and the UK seem to be popular sites for the dispersion of Star Jelly, though it has been found in Australia and the United States as well.

Scientists at the Macaulay Institute in the United Kingdom examined some Star Jelly and concluded that it is 99% water. The other 1% is anyone's guess. It has also been discovered that, while there are bits of microscopic life on the Star Jelly that came from the environment it was found in, the Star Jelly itself is neither plant nor animal. No DNA can be found that appears to belong to the Star Jelly itself. This puts to rest many theories that have sprung up regarding this strange material.

It has been postulated that Star Jelly is merely frogspawn or stag semen. If the size of some bits of Star Jelly were not enough to make it obvious that this is not the case. The fact that there was no DNA in the samples tested proves it. It has also been suggested that it is biological matter from somewhere in outer space. This is obviously not the case either. Star Jelly is not a life form, nor was it biologically created by one.

Skeptics cling to the idea that Star Jelly is some sort of mold, naturally occurring slime, bacteria or lichen. The recent tests done on Star Jelly prove this wrong. The only way these theories could be true is if the tests were incorrect, which is always a possibility. Well, there is the possibility that it is a hoax as well.

The meteorite theory regarding Star Jelly that has existed so long is highly unlikely, even though the substance is so strange. It is certain that objects from space do make it through the Earth's atmosphere; however, living objects or objects that have such a delicate structure cannot feasibly withstand the journey. The Earth's atmosphere is capable of turning a mass of stone and metal into nothing but particles. Grandma's gelatin mold does not stand a chance. Star Jelly would have to be like no other substance we have ever seen to be able to do that. Frankly, nothing scientists have ascertained about it suggests that it could withstand the fall to Earth. There goes the meteorite theory.

The fact of the matter is that, right now, we do not know what Star Jelly is, but we do know what it is not - for the most part. Without further study and more instances of this stuff (Hopefully, not falling on our heads.), we cannot say much more about it. For now, it will have to remain a mystery, but a most likely Earthly one.


Anissimar, Michael, retrieved 11/5/10, What is Star Jelly?,

Reid, Melanie, Nature 1 Science 0 as finest minds fail to explain star jelly, retrieved 11/5/10,

ufosleuth, Star Jelly - What on Earth is it?, retrieved 11/5/10,

The Coso Artifact

A cut view of the Coso Artifact
The Coso Artifact is an item known as an "out of placeartifact." Out of place artifacts are essentially modern objects found in places where they do not belong, hinting at the possibility of modern technology having been around long before modern man developed it. In the case of the Coso Artifact, the item was found inside of a stone or lump of hardened clay. Proponents for the Coso Artifact as an out of place artifact say that the material in which it was discovered is too old to have held such an item. Estimates put the material at around 500,000 years old. However, there is another side of the story.

The Coso Artifact was found by rock and geode hunters Mike Mikesell, Virginia Maxey and Wallace Lane. On February 13, 1961, the trio was hunting for geodes to sell in their gift shop. They hunted in the area of Olancha, California and then brought their finds back to the shop to be sorted and cut. When one of the "geodes" was cut, a cylinder of metal and ceramic was found inside. One of the discoverers of the item said that an archaeologist dated the material to 500,000 years ago. It was also said that it might be hardened clay and that it also contained what looked like a nail and a washer.

The date of the Coso Artifact relies on the assumption that it is a geode. The only known thorough physical examination of the Coso Artifact found that the material was too soft to be a geode. It also lacked the telltale quartz crystals found in geodes. Some softer materials can form around a modern item relatively quickly, whereas a geode cannot. That renders the age estimate not necessarily incorrect, but based on a faulty belief. The most telling part of the examination came with an x-ray of the item inside. It revealed that the metal was a cylinder with a screw-like item on one end and a flare on the other end.

Since the time of that investigation, the Coso Artifact has disappeared. The three individuals who found it are not talking about it and one may have since passed away. Nonetheless, the first investigation and the photos (including x-ray photos) that resulted have made it possible for experts to make some interesting discoveries about the item. Not only is it widely known that the photos do not show a modern item inside of a geode, the item inside the geode has been identified.

Pacific Northwest Skeptic Pierre Stromberg took an interest in this supposedly out of place artifact and decided to look into it. Unable to use the Coso Artifact itself as a point of reference, he used the photos and x-rays that were taken of the item decades earlier. It had been proposed that the item was a spark plug, as it displayed many of the characteristics of a spark plug. However, the screw-like end posed a problem. He contacted the Spark Plug Collectors of America, asking them to identify it, if possible. He received word back that the item had been positively identified as a 1920s Champion spark plug. There was no doubt in the man's mind and other spark plug collectors have confirmed that the Coso Artifact is indeed a spark plug, just designed differently than the spark plugs we use today.

Along with the nail and washer mentioned by one of the people who discovered the Coso Artifact, the idea of it being a piece of hardened clay that formed in some kind of work yard becomes the most logical explanation. A professional examination of the Coso Artifact would certainly prove or disprove that hypothesis in a matter of minutes. Unfortunately, that is not currently possible. It seems unlikely that it was a hoax, given the hands-off approach that the discoverers have taken over the past few years. It seems it was simply mistaken for something that it was not. In fact, even Maxley said that was a possibility. 


Coso Artifact, retrieved 1/28/12,

Stromberg, Pierre, The Coso Artifact, retrieved 1/28/12,

The Case of the Somerton Man

Photo of the deceased
The Taman Shud Case, otherwise known as the Case of the Somerton Man, is the case of an unidentified dead body found on Somerton Beach in Adelaide, Australia at 6:30 a.m. on December 1, 1948. It is unclear whether the man was murdered, committed suicide or died of natural causes. This, on top of a number of mysterious clues in the case, has made it one of the most lasting mysteries in Australia's history. In fact, the case is so popular that Stephen King makes mention of it in "The Colorado Kid" and part of the "Haven" series is based on that tale.

On the night of November 30, 1948, at least two groups of passersby saw a man who looked like the man found the following morning sitting on the edge of the beach. He sat in the same place that the Somerton Man was found the next morning. The witnesses say that they did not get a very good look at him, but it was the same man from what they could tell. He sat barely moving when he was seen around 7 p.m. By 7:30-8:00 p.m., there was barely any discernible movement. One witness said he had wondered if the man was alive, but assumed he was drunk.

A man sitting in that very spot was found early the next morning -- dead. He wore a nice suit, pointing to at least a marginal amount of prosperity. He also had an expensive British cigarette in his mouth that was not sold in Australia. There was also a half-smoked cigarette of the same brand between his cheek and collar. An interesting find was a pack of those cigarettes in his pockets, placed in the case of a cheaper brand. Also in the man's pockets was a book of matches, a used bus ticket to Glenelg and an unused train ticket to Henley Beach.

All of the tags on the man's clothing were removed, making identification difficult. He was not wearing a hat and his shoes were reportedly suspiciously clean. Another, very mysterious, piece of evidence was found much later, in a hidden pocket in the man's pants. This piece of evidence was a scrap of paper cut from a book that said "Taman Shud." The backside of the piece of paper was blank, but police traced it to the poetry book "The Rubaiyat" by Omar Khayyam.

After some searching, police were able to find the very book from whence the words had been taken. A man had found the book discarded in the backseat of his car, with apparently no explanation as to how it had come to be there. At the back of the book was the following sequence in pencil. Police believed it to be a code, but it has yet to be cracked. The strikethrough on the second series makes it look like a list, as well.


Also found written in the back of the book was the phone number of a woman who allegedly lived and worked near the place where the Somerton Man was found. Her identity has been protected and her name given only as Jestyn. Jestyn once had a copy of "The Rubaiyat" and police tracked it to a man she had given it to years before. He still had the book and it was not unusual in anyway. Police dismissed the woman and man as possible witnesses and dismissed the book, given that there was no evidence that it had anything to do with the case.

During the time that police were investigating the scant few leads, numerous people claimed that the Somerton Man was missing persons that they knew of. In every case, police were able to ascertain that the man was not the missing man in question. In some instances, missing people showed up at the police station to show that they were not the Somerton Man.

The autopsy on the Somerton Man showed something quite interesting -- there was no evidence of the cause of death. The man was 5' 11" with green eyes and blondish red hair. He seemed in excellent health, save for congestion and bleeding in several organs. He was athletic, possibly a dancer or a runner, but not a laborer, as evidenced by the pristine condition of his hands. The doctor who performed the autopsy said that it looked like a particularly dangerous poison that was extremely difficult to identify in an autopsy. He also said that it could have been a natural death, though he did not find the underlying cause. Either way, there was no way of knowing whether the man was suicidal or not, so even if they had found poison in his system, it did not make it a murder.

Police did suggest that they found his lack of i.d. to be evidence of a suicide. Frankly, this writer finds that to be shoddy evidence, at best. Lack of identification on his person could have meant anything from the dramatic, such as he was a spy who didn't want to be found -- corroborated by his cigarettes, -- to the mundane, such as he left his identification at home. He had very little money on him and no wallet, which would be a better indication of suicide, but he could just as easily have brought little money with him on a day trip. That idea was squashed when evidence that he was certainly not on a local jaunt came in a month and two weeks after his body was found.

The Adelaide train station gave a suitcase to the police that the man had left in their coatroom the day before he died. (It should be mentioned that the time of death was given as 2 a.m.) In the suitcase was a suit jacket, stenciling brush, pants with sand in the cuff, screwdriver, scissors with sharpened points, thread, pajamas, underwear, dressing gown, shaving utensils, slippers, knife and laundry bag. The only labels on the clothing were the name T. Keane -- spelled Kean in one instance -- and dry cleaning numbers. A thorough investigation turned up no Keane's or Kean's in the area with a connection to the case. The jacket, however, led straight to America. British cigarettes and an American jacket made this man look more and more like a murdered James Bond. Unfortunately, they were unable to trace Somerton Bond's jacket to an exact location in the United States.

In the end, the Taman Shud Case boils down to two things -- a ton of evidence that leads nowhere and a lack of evidence that borders on suspicious (missing clothes tags). Even the place of death is uncertain because some feel that if the Somerset Man had died there, there would be vomit on him and in the vicinity of his body. Everything that came up about this case made it more mysterious. If you put all of the hypotheses together, you get the following: The Somerton Man was a dancer and a spy who traveled all over the world. He was murdered or killed himself because of something to do with his spying. Seventy-four years later and it still does not make sense.


The Body on Somerton Beach, retrieved 11/5/11,

University of Adelaide, List of facts on the Taman Shud Case that are often misreported, retrieved 11/4/11,

Robert the Doll: The Real-Life Chucky

Robert the Doll
Robert the Doll
Photo by Cayobo
From the somewhat unlikely location of Key West comes the story of Robert the Doll. This weathered turn of the century toy has a somewhat bland facial expression and skin tone. His eyes are round, small and unexpressive, when most people are looking. He sits inside of a display case at the Fort East Martello Museum in a chair that is just his size. In one of his arms is a stuffed toy of his own. On his head is a sailor's cap that matches the 1800s naval officer motif of his outfit. Why is he kept so neatly in a museum? Well, stories say that Robert the Doll is quite evil.

The early stories of Robert the Doll seem like a popular horror movie plot. If you mixed some elements of "Skeleton Key" (2005) and the Annabelle Doll back-story of "The Conjuring" (2013), you would get something similar to the tales surrounding Robert the Doll. It actually did help inspire the Chucky film franchise, but the only real similarity is the evil doll. What makes Robert's story even better is that it goes back to more than a century ago, which we must admit makes almost any horror story better.

In 1906, a house servant at 524 Eaton St. in Key West gave the young son of the mansion's owners a doll that was named Robert after the boy. Eugene Otto is how the boy who would later become a well-known artist is addressed, but the doll took his first name and became known as Robert the Doll. According to stories, there was something evil about the doll from the beginning. The fault is placed on the woman who gave the doll to Otto. She supposedly cursed it or invited an evil spirit to possess the doll using voodoo.

As evil dolls are wont to do, Robert began speaking to his little owner, who spent all of his time with the doll. The Ottos would hear their boy talking to Robert and hear a different voice respond, but they initially thought their son was talking to himself using a different voice. When the lad would get into trouble, he would blame it on Robert. Some tales of Robert the Doll claim that Otto continued to blame bad behavior of Robert when he was an adult, but there is not enough evidence to accuse the man of any bad behavior, let alone passing the buck to a doll from his childhood.

Neighbors and people who walked by the Otto house in Key West would notice Robert the Doll moving from window to window in the home. Some even say he ran through the rooms giggling in such a way as to frighten those who heard it when his owners were not home. It is uncertain why the doll was not thrown away. Quite the contrary happened; Eugene Otto kept Robert the Doll in his house. Even his wife made renters of the home keep Robert in a special room after Eugene passed away.

Eventually, the house passed to new owners, who found Eugene in the attic. They had a young daughter who became terrified of the doll, claiming that it wanted and even tried to kill her. To this day, she repeats that story, according to fans of the story. In 1994, Robert the Doll finally left the Victorian mansion on Eaton St. and made his home at the museum where visitors and some museum workers claim he moves, curses those who take his picture without permission and nods to give his ascent to those who ask nicely.

Mysteries in United States History

The history of the United States is short when compared to that of other countries. Nonetheless, it is riddled with mysteries. Assassinations, disappearances, murders and more have left history experts and buffs baffled. When it comes to the following mysteries, even when there seems to be proof that leads to one answer, something does not fall into place and we are left with questions.

J.F.K. White House Portrait
J.F.K. White House portrait
Mysteries in United States History: The Assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy

President John Kennedy or J.F.K. was assassinated in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963 at about 12:30 p.m. He was in a limo, seated next to his wife, when a bullet struck him the neck and then another hit him in the right side of his head. He was declared dead half an hour later. The nation was shocked. It is seen as one of the most tragic events in United States history to this day.

Later on that day, a man named Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested for the murder of the president and a police officer who attempted to question him. Oswald worked for the Texas School Book Depository, from which the shots appear to have come. A rifle and three shell casings were found near a sixth floor window in the building. Oswald maintained his innocence while in custody, though the evidence against him was, and is, strong. He never did get the chance to stand trial. He was murdered by Jack Ruby on November 24. Ruby shot Oswald while he was being transferred in police custody.

Many questions remain regarding the murder of this beloved president. Did Oswald do it? If so, (and it seems so) did he act alone? Was there another shooter? Was Oswald part of a conspiracy? Some evidence points to another shooter and/or a conspiracy. Jack Ruby claimed all sorts of heroic reasons for killing Oswald. Nonetheless, he comes off as an unsavory character, the type who would murder a man to keep him quiet. Alternatively, he could have murdered him because he was paid to do so. None of these questions has suitable answers. It could be that Harvey did act alone. It could be that he was just a piece of a much larger puzzle.

Elizabeth Short mugshot
Elizabeth Short mugshot
Mysteries in United States History: The Black Dahlia Murder

On January 15, 1947, a body was found by the side of a road just outside of Hollywood. The body belonged to the victim of a particularly gruesome murder. Her name was Elizabeth Short and she would become known as the Black Dahlia.

Short had been cut in half, her lips sliced from the corners up her cheek on either side, giving her a grotesque grin, she had been disemboweled and their was bruising on her wrists and ankles. This is just a glimpse of the many ways she was reportedly defiled. Pictures of her poor, brutalized body hit the papers and the nation was enthralled. Of course, they were also terrified.

A large-scale investigation into the murder was conducted, but it turned up nothing useful. To this day, the murder has not been solved. In fact, the case has gone cold and police refuse to reopen it. There was so much hype that the investigation was severely impeded. Even now, people come forward claiming that they have clues regarding the murder. Sadly, Beth's murderer will never be brought to justice. Chances are he or she is long dead, along with the struggling actress whose life was ended at the age of 22.

The Baptism of Virginia Dare by William A. Crafts
The Baptism of Virginia Dare by William A. Crafts
Mysteries in United States History: The Lost Colony of Roanoke

On July 22, 1587, a group of settlers from England arrived at the island of Roanoke in what is now Virginia. They were led by a man named John White-the only settler whose fate is known. Shortly after they arrived, they concluded that they did not have the resources to survive in the hostile territory. John White decided to return to England for help. He was unable to return for three years.

John White arrived at Roanoke on August 18, 1950. Not one settler remained. John White's daughter and granddaughter were among the missing. There was no sign of foul play and no suspicious remains. The only clue was two carvings, one in a post, and the other in a tree. The first read "Croatoan." The second read "Cro." Croatoan was a nearby island, where the settlers might have gone. Unfortunately, John was unable to investigate. No one is sure where the settlers went, if anywhere.

Amelia Earhart
Amelia Earhart
Mysteries in United States History: The Disappearance of Amelia Earhart

Amelia Earhart was a beloved and exceptionally famous aviatrix. She was a dynamic go-getter and record-setter. Therefore, when she attempted to be the first person to fly around the world, it was a highly publicized event. It was not as highly publicized as her disappearance, however.

During the last leg of Amelia Earhart's flight, she vanished somewhere near Howland Island in the Pacific Ocean. Her last transmission was heard on July 2, 1937. She, her plane, and her navigator-Fred Noonan-were never seen or heard from again. Her plane was low on fuel and Howland was the only land in the area. Chances are she and Fred went down in the ocean and died as a result of the crash or from drowning. Some believe that she survived and ran off. This is highly unlikely, given the circumstances of her disappearance. She was declared dead in 1939.

There is something sad about mysteries like these going unsolved. That may be why each of these mysteries has been written about, made into movies and talked about since they occurred. There is something discomforting about a sad story going unsolved. We would like to see all the heroes' deaths avenged and their bodies given proper burial. We would like to know the fate of families just trying to make their way in strange new lands.


Biography, retrieved 8/28/10,

Scheeres, Julia, Black Dahlia, retrieved 8/28/10,

Krajicek, David, JFK Assassination, retrieved 8/28/10,