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ghost stories

Haunting the human psyche since days of old.

Ghosts have been haunting stories across human culture since ancient times. Even in our modern age, with a scientific explanation for nearly every phenomenon once considered supernatural, many still believe specters of the past float among us.

Perhaps it’s a way to make sense of the unexpected, cope with loss or to create a universe that isn’t random and chaotic. On the other hand, no one really knows what awaits us on the other side—it’s all conceptual theories in the land of the living.

But whether or not ghosts are actually real, they can help us make meaning of life’s fragile existence and perhaps take a different view on death, reminding us that sometimes our legacy lives on long after we are gone.

Reddit user u/pyotrfojti asked people on the online forum to share experiences that made them believe in the paranormal, and the answers were certainly compelling. Even the biggest skeptic might get a kick out of these spooky stories. 'Tis the season, after all.

Here are nine of the best, most bone-chilling tales of the paranormal:


1.

While working overseas, the office we would normally work in was being renovated. The building was once part of a series of palaces [which] was later used by the Nazis as an interrogation and torture center.

I personally saw two stories come to life.

  1. The harpsichord piano in the grand ballroom began to play on its own. I know because I was the only person in the building at the time. Plus, it was missing several strings.
  2. The windows to the bedroom where a royal stayed were known to fog up and then open on their own. Saw the fog. Looked at them again a half-hour later and they were open.

– @JQuest7575

2.

I was alone at home with my 2 year old who was sleeping in his own room. An arm and hand of an adult human pushed open my bedroom door and it creaked loudly, waking me up. I saw the arm and the hand holding the doorknob. It then let go and retracted. I was afraid that it might be a burglar and then I smelled smoke and burning. I got the courage to leave my room and noticed smoke coming from my son's room. His window curtain was inside his night lamp and had just caught fire. I could put it out in time, thanks to whatever had woken me up.” – @Niqga4PolishBabes

3.

I haven't really had any super intense experiences, mostly just hearing my name clearly being called when I was a kid while everyone else was asleep. That and hearing a constant loud sound in a specific area of a known haunted park at night that had nothing to do with bugs flying nearby. There were no other people at the park and there wasn't anything electrical nearby. Just in the middle of a park near a willow tree.” – @WumboWings

4.

"I was six when I first saw her, in the woods. I followed my friend John even though he told me not to. I followed at a distance, watching my feet, making sure not to step on the bevy of fallen leaves…The first thing I saw was a small hut. Raw, bloody, and nailed into place. The second thing I saw was her on the stoop, eyes all white, lips red. John ran to her. She reached down and embraced him, and looked at me over his shoulder with her all white eyes.

I ran like hell. I ran, screaming like bloody murder, all the way to my father, who swooped me up in a way he never had, and hasn't had to do since. He asked me what happened and I told him about John.

‘Who?’

I described the kid I had met at the playground weeks ago. The kid I had played with three times before all this. Even now, John's face is crystal clear in my mind. I could count his freckles from memory.

My dad tells me: I was playing alone the whole time.” – @sentient_luggage

5.

When [my mom] died I couldn't be there for her, I was away in another state for work. Thank God that I could come to her funeral (this was in November of 2020). I was in the house of my mom, [and] one night I was in my bed sleeping and I woke suddenly and saw her in pajamas, like she was alive. If I didn't see her body early that week being buried, I would have thought that she was alive.” – @Upbeat-Ad-3316

6.

I was at my choir director's house to practice a solo. I started my recorder and when I got home to practice the song there was a voice on the recording that wasn't from either me or my choir director. I have let everyone listen to it and they always miss it the first time because it is so loud and clear they assume that it was someone in the room. Freakiest thing ever!” – @Euphoric_Device11

7.

It was late at night, like 1 am or so, [and] I was walking home till I heard a lot of noises. The street was empty and the whole entire neighborhood was silent. The lights of the lamp posts started flickering. Then I saw a black dressed, dark eyed lady with a black robe and black fingertips standing in front of my house ‘Hello? Are you okay ma'am?’ She then left and walked away towards the back of the house. My house lights started flickering. I quickly ran to my next door neighbor. Thankfully they were there and they rang my parents and all the lights started to stop flickering.” – @sleevlyboring

8.

“I did not believe for most of my life, until about 4.5 years ago. I worked in a very old hospital that used to be run by nuns in 1880-1940. My office was in the basement (next to the morgue) and strange things that could not be rationalized away started happening. Daily. Whispering, footprints thru newly waxed floors (angry janitor swears he checked the camera to see who ruined his work and saw no one) papers flying off my desk with zero draft etc. I don’t work there anymore, thankfully.” – @glass_heart2002

9.

My dad died a few years ago. I had been living with him to give him assistance as he needed full time care and couldn't afford a nurse. He always, always, freaking always complained about being cold, even during the summer. I came home several times to find the heater cranked up to 80, no matter the time of year. We used to fight about it often. A couple weeks after he died, I would wake up hot and find the heater turned up to 80. It only persisted for a few weeks and stopped after I woke up again sweating and yelled out ‘Damn it dad, you're dead, stop fucking with the heater!’” – @DeaconStGone

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Czech photographer Jan Langer's portrait series "Faces of Century" shows them in a different light: as human beings aged by years of experience, but at their deepest level, unchanged by the passing of time.

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In a compelling interview with Big Think, astronaut, author and humanitarian Ron Garan explains how if more of us developed this planetary perspective we could fix much of what ails humanity and the planet.

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Four years ago an accident resulted in a plastic-eating mutant that just might save us all

Researchers knew it would take a while for the bacteria to evolve into the environmental savior we need.

man swimming underwater

Plastic has been taking over our world for a while now.

You may not think too much about it, but plastic is a global crisis. A recent rundown in The National Review reveals that more than 8 million tons of plastic is regularly deposited in the ocean. It's killing sea life, endangering coral reefs, and affecting the fish we eat because of the toxins they ingest.

So much for a happy, carefree day, right?

But there's some good news on the horizon: Scientists have found a mutant bacteria that eats plastic.

Of course, this mutant bacteria isn't exactly like the kind of mutants you see in movies and comic books. Although, I'll admit I initially thought, "Good! Someone's finally getting Storm to handle this whole climate change business." How cool would that be?

So maybe Professor X isn't coming out of hiding to help us with our global problems, but the reality of this news is just as exciting. According to The Guardian, an international team of scientists have mutated a bacteria's enzyme to fully break down plastic bottles.

The plastic-eating bacteria was first discovered in 2016 in Japan. Researchers studying plastic pollution — specifically polyethylene terephthalate or PET — discovered a colony of bacteria that fed on the plastic, breaking down strong chemical bonds as a means of survival. The bacteria back then, though, was eating through highly crystallized PET — the material plastic bottles are made of — at a slow rate. Researchers knew it would take a while for the bacteria to evolve into the environmental savior we need.

Scientists started studying the bacteria's evolution and discovered they'd unintentionally made it stronger.

"It's alive! It's alive!" they screamed. That's how I imagine the discovery of this mutated bacteria enzyme went, with all the blinking lights and klaxons of a superhero movie. That's what happens in labs, right?

Well, that's how it should have gone. Because this is exciting! After viewing a 3D model of the bacteria, scientists discovered that small modifications could make its enzymes much more effective. The BBC reports that PET takes "hundreds of years" to break down on its own, but with the modified enzyme, called PETase, the same process begins within a matter of days. The enzyme breaks down PET to its original building blocks, meaning that the plastic can be reused again without losing quality.

recycling, reusable, plastic bottles, PET, enzymes

A large blocked cube made up of plastic bottles.

Image via Pixabay.

Here's why this is important: You may think plastic bottles are recycled into new plastic bottles and that every bottle you drink from had a rich and beautiful life before it came to you, but that's not true. In 2017, BuzzFeed reported that Coca-Cola sourced only 7% of its plastic from recycled material and only 6% of Nestle's bottles were made from recycled plastic. The rest of all that single-use plastic being dumped is turned into other fibers like carpet and clothing.

This is because plastics degrade as they're recycled. "Bottles become fleeces, then carpets, after which they often end up in landfill," the BBC notes.

But PETase makes it possible to use PET in its original form over and over again.

We're only at the beginning of this development.

On one hand, PETase could bring us closer to true recycling (producing much less plastic and using much less fossil fuel) than ever before. But the research has only started. The breaking down process still needs to be made faster, so it could be years before PETase or anything like it is used on an industrial scale.

While scientists keep working to make PETase a worldwide plastic problem-solver, we can all do our part by reducing our reliance on plastic. Little things — like a reusable bottle for the gym, keeping metal utensils at work, and reusable bags and totes for trips to the store — can help keep the Earth clean, save animals, and make us a little less reliant on mutants (er, mutant enzymes) to save the day.