Lao Tsu, a Chinese Emperor, Osama bin Laden, and the purported son of Al Capone, are all mixed together in the legendary saga of the largest pearl ever found. The Atlantic tells its story.
Legend says the diver drowned retrieving the pearl. Trapped in a giant Tridacna clam, his body was brought to the surface by his fellow tribesmen in Palawan, a province of the Philippines, in May 1934. When the clam was pried open, and the meat scraped out, the local chief beheld something marvelous: a massive pearl, its sheen like satin. In its surface, the chief discerned the face of the Prophet Muhammad. He named it the Pearl of Allah. At 14 pounds, one ounce, it was the largest pearl ever discovered.
A Filipino American, Wilburn Dowell Cobb, was visiting the island at the time and offered to buy the jewel. In a 1939 article that appeared in Natural History magazine, he recounted the chiefâ€™s refusal to sell: â€œA pearl with the image of Mohammed, the Prophet of Allah, is earned by devotion, by sacrifice, not bought with money.â€ But when the chiefâ€™s son fell ill with malaria, Cobb used atabrine, a modern medicine, to heal him. â€œYou have earned your reward,â€ the chief proclaimed. â€œHere, my friend, claim this, your pearl.â€
In 1939, Cobb brought the pearl to New York City, and exhibited it at Ripleyâ€™s Believe It or Not, on Broadway. There, a new legend emerged, eclipsing the first. Upon seeing the pearl, Cobb said, an elderly Chinese gentleman â€œof highest culture and significant wealthâ€ named Mr. Lee â€œburst into an hysteria of trembling and weeping.â€ This wasnâ€™t the Pearl of Allah; this was the long-lost Pearl of Lao Tzu.
Around 600 b.c., he told Cobb, Lao Tzu, the ancient Chinese philosopher and founder of Taoism, carved an amulet depicting the â€œthree friendsâ€â€”Buddha, Confucius, and himselfâ€”and inserted it into a clam so that a pearl would grow around it. As it developed, the pearl was transferred to ever-larger shells until only the giant Tridacna could hold it. In its sheen, Mr. Lee claimed, was not just one face, but three.
On the spot, Mr. Lee offered Cobb half a million dollars, saying the pearl was actually worth $3.5 million. But like the principled chief before him, Cobb refused to sell.
The mysterious Mr. Lee returned to China, never to be heard from again. But his spontaneous appraisalâ€”$3.5 millionâ€”still forms the basis of a price that has steadily grown, from $40 million to $60 million to $75 million and beyond. And Mr. Leeâ€™s recognition of Lao Tzuâ€™s legendary pearl is at the heart of an 80-year-old hoax that has left a trail of wreckage across the United Statesâ€”a satin mirage many try to grasp, before the jaws snap shut.
Bits of the legend are true. The pearl really was discovered when a diver drowned; Cobb really did acquire it from the local chief; and gazing at the pearl, you really can discern the face of a turbaned man. The rest is a fantasy Cobb invented.
Japanese Twitter user @thumb_tani (aka Tanu) has mastered the art of balance. He uses his keen sense of equilibrium to create small, fascinating sculptures from carefully-positioned coins. Although many of us have probably attempted this same sort of coin stacking, Tanu takes these arrangements to a whole newâ€”and totally epicâ€”level.
Using a variety of denominations, Tanu creates intricate structures that range in shape and size. Often, heâ€™ll first build a strong base using staggered coins. Then, he does the seemingly impossible. Tanu stands the coins upright and places them edge-to-edge without the discs falling or even wobbling. From there, heâ€™ll sometimes stack even more coins (or other objects) on top. Itâ€™s a mesmerizing sight, but also one that youâ€™ll want to hold your breath for. The precarious sculptures look as though they could tumble at any moment.
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Brave grandma kills 4.5-foot-long cobra with shovel to protect neighborhood kids.
Animal control said the snake that grandma Kathy Kehoe killed was an Asian cobra, and was about 4.5 feet long.
Animal control said the snake that grandma Kathy Kehoe killed was an Asian cobra, and was about 4.5 feet long. (Photo: Getty Images)
First she snapped photos.
Then the 73-year-old Pennsylvania grandma smashed the snake dead with a shovel. Animal control says she slayed a 4.5 foot Asian cobra.
Kathy Kehoe said she knew instantly it was a cobra when she first spotted it on her patio. Birds were screeching outside at about 2 p.m. Monday when she stepped outside see why. “Oh, it’s a snake,” Kehoe told ABC 6.
“When I opened the screen door to see what kind of snake it was, the birds flew away and I saw the spot on its back, and I kind of nudged its tail and it came up and spread its hood and I said ‘that’s a cobra,'” she said.
The snake slithered away, but Kehoe chased after it.
“He went this way. I stalked him and when he got over to here, I tapped his tail. He went up and that’s when I did the deed and held him there,” she said.
The grandma said she wasn’t about to let the cobra get away because of children in the neighborhood of Falls Township, Bucks County, 25 miles from Philadelphia.
“I was like ‘this animal can’t be here, it’s a poisonous reptile,'” she said.
In March, officials removed 20 venomous snakes from a neighboring apartment, including 12 cobras.
An 8.5-million-pound rock that fell from a ridge onto a Colorado highway will be turned into a landmark, Gov. Jared Polis announced. The rock will remain on Highway 145 between Cortez and Telluride, and the road will be rebuilt around it.
The boulder, which is the size of a two-story building, tumbled from a cliff 2,000 feet above the roadway, CDOT officials said.
Another smaller boulder also smashed into the road, carving a deep trench across the highway. The smaller rock has been blasted, and its fragments were carried away.
The new landmark boulder will be dubbed “Memorial Rock,” in honor of Memorial Day Weekend, when it fell, officials said.
Leaving the boulder where it fell will save taxpayers around $200,000 in blasting and cleanup costs, Polis said.
The Polis administration was filing federal paperwork for the landmark designation.