A Piece of Stonehenge, Missing for 60 Years, Was Just Returned to the Site

iStock.com/fotoVoyager
iStock.com/fotoVoyager

Though the mysterious standing stones in Wiltshire, England look intact from the outside, three fragments of Stonehenge have been missing since 1958. Now, more than 60 years after it was taken, BBC reports that one of the pieces has been returned to the site.

The history of Stonehenge stretches back to 3000 BCE, and archaeologists have studied the site since the 17th century. In 1958, a team of archaeologists raised a collapsed trilithon—three stones that had been arranged into an upright shape—and contracted a diamond-cutting company to restore it. Cores were drilled through a cracked stone and metal rods were inserted to stabilize the structure.

Robert Phillips was one of the employees tasked with drilling into the stone 60 years ago. Workers extracted three, 3-foot-long stone cores from the pillar, and when the job was done, Phillips decided to take one of the pieces home with him. He's kept it all this time, even holding onto when he moved from England to Florida, and the day before his 90th birthday last year, he made the choice to return it to its home.

Though the core is just a fragment of the multi-ton stone circle, it could hold important clues regarding the site's origins. Unlike the rocks' weathered exteriors, the stone core is reportedly pristine, and it can be subject to analysis that would be hard to perform on the intact stones. Archaeologists hope the tests will shed further light on where the ancient rocks originated.

The rediscovered artifact may clarify some Stonehenge mysteries, but the question of where the other two stone cores ended up remains unanswered.

[h/t BBC]

Celebrate the Holidays With the 2020 Harry Potter Funko Pop Advent Calendar

Funko
Funko

Though the main book series and movie franchise are long over, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter remains in the spotlight as one of the most popular properties in pop-culture. The folks at Funko definitely know this, and every year the company releases a new Advent calendar based on the popular series so fans can count down to the holidays with their favorite characters.

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Right now, you can pre-order the 2020 edition of Funko's popular Harry Potter Advent calendar, and if you do it through Amazon, you'll even get it on sale for 33 percent off, bringing the price down from $60 to just $40.

Funko Pop!/Amazon

Over the course of the holiday season, the Advent calendar allows you to count down the days until Christmas, starting on December 1, by opening one of the tiny, numbered doors on the appropriate day. Each door is filled with a surprise Pocket Pop! figurine—but outside of the trio of Harry, Hermione, and Ron, the company isn't revealing who you'll be getting just yet.

Calendars will start shipping on October 15, but if you want a head start, go to Amazon to pre-order yours at a discount.

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Did the Northern Lights Play a Role in the Sinking of the Titanic? A New Paper Says It’s Possible

Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

The sinking of the RMS Titanic on April 15, 1912, is the most famous maritime disaster in history. The story has been retold countless times, but experts are still uncovering new details about what happened that night more than a century later. The latest development in our understanding of the event has to do with the northern lights. As Smithsonian reports, the same solar storm that produced an aurora over the North Atlantic waters where the Titanic sank may have caused equipment malfunctions that led to its demise.

Independent Titanic researcher Mila Zinkova outlines the new theory in a study published in the journal Weather. Survivors and eyewitnesses from the night of the Titanic's sinking reported seeing the aurora borealis light up the dark sky. James Bisset, second officer of the ship that responded to the Titanic's distress calls, the RMS Carpathia, wrote in his log: "There was no moon, but the aurora borealis glimmered like moonbeams shooting up from the northern horizon."

Zinkova argues that while the lights themselves didn't lead the Titanic on a crash course with the iceberg, a solar storm that night might have. The northern lights are the product of solar particles colliding and reacting with gas molecules in Earth's atmosphere. A vivid aurora is the result of a solar storm expelling energy from the sun's surface. In addition to causing colorful lights to appear in the sky, solar storms can also interfere with magnetic equipment on Earth.

Compasses are susceptible to electromagnetic pulses from the sun. Zinkova writes that the storm would have only had to shift the ship's compass by 0.5 degrees to guide it off a safe course and toward the iceberg. Radio signals that night may have also been affected by solar activity. The ship La Provence never received the Titanic's distress call, despite its proximity. The nearby SS Mount Temple picked it up, but their response to the Titanic went unheard. Amateur radio enthusiasts were initially blamed for jamming the airwaves used by professional ships that night, but the study posits that electromagnetic waves may have played a larger role in the interference.

If a solar storm did hinder the ship's equipment that night, it was only one condition that led to the Titanic's sinking. A cocktail of factors—including the state of the sea, the design of the ship, and the warnings that were ignored—ultimately sealed the vessel's fate.

[h/t Smithsonian]