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Aliens Use Death Rays (Again)

0710toasterfire.jpgOn Oct. 30, 1938, the Associated Press sent a notice to all of its editors on the newswire:
"Queries to newspapers from radio listeners throughout the United States tonight, regarding a reported meteor fall which killed a number of New Jerseyites, are the result of a studio dramatization."

Of course, the meteor carrying Martians with flame-shooting guns and poisonous gas was just Orson Welles's War of the Worlds broadcast. Old history from the time of cure-all elixirs and eugenics. Right?

Well, maybe not. The major Italian magazine L'espresso ran an article on Friday (in Italian, "E.T. Speaks Sicilian") that aliens may have caused hundreds of unplugged household appliances to burst into flames in northern Sicily back in 2004. It cited a leaked interim report by the Italian government that either a secret military test or alien experiments caused a brief electromagnetic emission between 12 and 15 gigawatts.

The Cabinet of Wonders delves into British newspaper reports for an answer.

Without a real report it's pointless to speculate about the source of this event. To add a little solid science to this entry I should mention that electromagnetic waves from solar superstorms have been known to cause problems with electric grids, a phenomena we briefly covered on page 302 of the 2007 World Almanac.

Solar Storms and Their Human Impacts (NASA)
War of the Worlds broadcast (Internet Archive)

Flickr photo by The Redbird


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