Some people believe it's a magical healing elixir found buried in the mouths of old Egyptian mummies.
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Videos ~ above YouTube extol that is vampire-like properties. Others case it can be discovered in vintage sewing machines or in the colonies of bats.
There's one small problem v these story - the substance doesn't actually exist. Red mercury is a red herring.
Despite this, you can discover it gift hawked on society media and on numerous websites. Tiny amounts are sometimes priced at countless dollars.
Many the the adverts feature a blurry picture of a globule the red liquid on a dinner plate. Alongside it there will regularly be a call number scribbled on a piece of paper, for anybody foolish sufficient to want to call the seller.
"It's a video game of con artists and the risk is that world are walk to it is in swindled, the they could be robbed or mugged, or the they'll just waste your time," says Lisa Wynn, head of the anthropology department at Macquarie university in Sydney.
Prof Wynn very first came across the phenomenon when she was functioning at the pyramids that Giza in Egypt and sharing an office v the top Egyptologist Dr Zahi Hawass.
"This man had been spending every one of his energies and also money do the efforts to discover something the would save his mother," Prof wynn recalls.
"So he transforms to a sheikh in Saudi Arabia, a confidence healer, that tells the there's this wonder substance the is found buried in the throats of mummies in ancient Egypt. And if you walk to Egypt and ask this archaeologist, he will certainly be maybe to provide you v red mercury."
"Dr Hawass says: 'I'm for this reason sorry around your mother, but this is bunk. Over there is no such point as red mercury.'"
After evil this exchange, an astonished Prof Wynn uncovered this was no a brand-new experience because that Dr Hawass and also his colleagues. They regularly encountered Arabs who believed red mercury to be a magic cure-all buried with the pharaohs.
The origins of this id are hazy. Proof of it have the right to be found in the job-related of the medieval alchemist and philosopher Jabir ibn Hayyan, that wrote: "The many precious elixirs to ever before have been combined on planet were hidden in the pyramids."
In an ext recent times, part seeking red mercury have actually come to think it can also be uncovered in the swarms of bats. Leaving aside the inconvenient truth that bats carry out not actually develop nests - this has actually not prevented fortune hunters native disturbing habitats come look because that it.
Image caption, A still from a video which claims to display red mercury, favor Dracula, has no reflection
Some have actually taken the bat theory one step further, and claim the red mercury originates from vampire bats. And so, the logic goes, the problem exhibits the very same properties as fear movie vampires.
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Evidence because that this Dracula-in-liquid-form legend is available in a variety of bizarre YouTube videos, some of which have been viewed thousands of thousands that times. Frequently a red blob - that regularly looks suspiciously like it has actually been produced using video graphics - is shown being repelled through garlic, and attracted by gold. As soon as a mirror is inserted beside it, the blob apparently has actually no reflection.
Red mercury's supposedly amazing features don't finish there. That is alleged to have powers come summon jinns - Arabic for supernatural beings.
In 2009 a story spread out in Saudi Arabia that red mercury might be procured there is no breaking into an old tomb or sifting v bat guano. Small amounts of the prized substance were rumoured to be discovered inside vintage Singer sewing machines.
Police began investigating the hoax after ~ these very ordinary family members objects started an altering hands for 10s of hundreds of dollars.