A topic about outer-space and everything in it, from little green men to big spirally galaxies

Earth is an Alien Planet: The Mysterious Camouflaging Ability of the Cuttlefish

If the cephalopods didn't exist, would any sci-fi or horror writer even have the imagination to invent them? From tentacles to ink to their amazing camouflage abilities, they seem a creature born into the physical world out of the nightmares of fish (see the animated gif above for a prime example).

In the video below, from which the top animation was taken, BBC presenter Richard Hammond puts the cuttlefish's abilities to the test by placing it in an artificial - i.e. human - environment.


The Glory of Ra: NASA Releases Ultra-HD Video of the Sun

A number of ancient cultures worshipped the mysterious light-giving globe in their sky as a deity, but over time as science has revealed the true nature of our Sun our reverence has been replaced with ambivalence. But staring at this new video released by NASA, of the Sun in 4K ultra-HD, might be enough to make us religious again. Taking in its size, the energy it is releasing, and how its presence sustains all life on Earth, one can only marvel at this slowly rotating sentinel.

It’s always shining, always ablaze with light and energy. In the ubiquity of solar output, Earth swims in an endless tide of particles. Every time half of the Earth faces the Sun, we experience the brightness of daytime, the Sun’s energy and light driving weather, biology and more. But in space, NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) keeps an eye on our nearest star 24/7. SDO captures images of the Sun in 10 different wavelengths, each of which helps highlight a different temperature of solar material. In this video we experience images of the Sun in unprecedented detail captured by SDO. Presented in ultra-high definition video (4K) the video presents the nuclear fire of our life-giving star in intimate detail, offering new perspective into our own relationships with grand forces of the solar system.

Full screen or GTFO.

UFO Hotspots Just Got A Little Hotter


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Ufology is one of forteana's toughest nuts. Organizations like MUFON, NUFORC, and others have tons of data winding up as interactive maps and infographics. That's all well and good knowing where to see saucers, but what does it all mean? Could there be an underlying pattern?

Over at the Toulouse School of Economics some researchers have submitted an analysis of locations known for sightings. They draw upon the UFO reports archived with GEIPAN, a branch of the French Space Program (CNES). French citizens can submit their sightings to the local police, passing the buck over to GEIPAN, who classify each account into one of four categories. Type A sightings have been explained without a shadow of a doubt, B's are probably identified, and C-class encounters lack enough meaningful data to be of any use. Type D events are the sweet spot. The kinds of reports that, despite a wealth of data, defy identification. Real, unidentified flying objects.

Out of the 1,961 sightings recorded between 1951 and 2013, Thibault Laurent, Christine Thomas-Agnan, and Michaël Vaillant have 381 D-class observations, and their conclusions are provocative. They considered many variables surrounding these events. Population density being a key factor for their models. More people and more sightings mean more reports. But this is only the tip of the iceberg as Thibault and pals note a strong correspondence of D-class reports around nuclear power plants and toxic waste dumps. Also factoring into the mix are rural areas, forests, and wetlands. Either our space brothers are playing guardian angel as humanity self-destructs, or it's a whole lot of swamp gas.

They lay out all the math in black and white for anyone hoping to crunch the numbers for their own country. A cursory Google search brings up American, Australian, and other world UFO maps, in addition to many public domain records regarding contaminated land, nuclear power plants, population centers, and sacred sites like Uluru and Roswell.

Investigations like Spatial Point Pattern Analysis of the Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon in France should inspire researchers to apply the same methodologies to their work, broadening our understanding of the phenomenon. Goodness only knows what can be learned by comparing sightings over rich and poor neighborhoods, or if the UFOs appeared after a major event with a profound psychological impact on the population. Bringing us back to Charles Fort's admonition of "One measures a circle, beginning anywhere", giving fresh insights on an old topic.

Related stories:

(h/t Norman R.)

Astronomers Discover Something 'You Would Expect an Alien Civilization to Build', and SETI Wants a Look

Dyson Sphere

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Well this is interesting. Astronomers have spotted a strange bunch of objects around a distant star - "like something you would expect an alien civilization to build" - and SETI is scrambling for a closer look:

In 2011, several citizen scientists flagged one particular star as “interesting” and “bizarre.” The star was emitting a light pattern that looked stranger than any of the others Kepler was watching.

The light pattern suggests there is a big mess of matter circling the star, in tight formation. That would be expected if the star were young. When our solar system first formed, four and a half billion years ago, a messy disk of dust and debris surrounded the sun, before gravity organized it into planets, and rings of rock and ice.

But this unusual star isn’t young. If it were young, it would be surrounded by dust that would give off extra infrared light. There doesn’t seem to be an excess of infrared light around this star.

...And yet, there is this mess of objects circling it. A mess big enough to block a substantial number of photons that would have otherwise beamed into the tube of the Kepler Space Telescope. If blind nature deposited this mess around the star, it must have done so recently. Otherwise, it would be gone by now. Gravity would have consolidated it, or it would have been sucked into the star and swallowed, after a brief fiery splash.

[T]his light pattern doesn’t show up anywhere else, across 150,000 stars. We know that something strange is going on out there.

...Jason Wright, an astronomer from Penn State University, is set to publish an alternative interpretation of the light pattern. SETI researchers have long suggested that we might be able to detect distant extraterrestrial civilizations, by looking for enormous technological artifacts orbiting other stars. Wright and his co-authors say the unusual star’s light pattern is consistent with a “swarm of megastructures,” perhaps stellar-light collectors, technology designed to catch energy from the star.

“When [Boyajian] showed me the data, I was fascinated by how crazy it looked,” Wright told me. “Aliens should always be the very last hypothesis you consider, but this looked like something you would expect an alien civilization to build.”

Full story: The Most Mysterious Star in Our Galaxy

Support High-Quality UFO Research and Receive a Deluxe Collector's Edition of 'Wonders in the Sky', by Jacques Vallee and Chris Aubeck

Golden Orbs from 73BCE

The scientific investigation of the UFO phenomenon is a relatively new endeavour, with less than seven decades having passed since the sightings in the late 1940s which propelled UFOs into the limelight through modern media. And one of the longest serving, and most highly respected investigators is Jacques Vallee.

Jacques has been fascinated with UFOs since a well-publicised 'wave' in Europe in 1954 (he is from France originally), and his own sighting of a metallic saucer in 1955. He has spent the decades since traveling the world, interviewing witnesses, and authoring a number of best-selling books not just on UFOS, but also on their effects on belief systems and how they might be manipulated.

(During that time he also managed to complete a Master of Science in astrophysics, a Ph.D. in computer science, win the Jules Verne Prize for his first science-fiction novel.)

One of the most important results of Jacques' research was the realisation that the UFO phenomenon extended well back before those first, well-publicised sightings in the late 1940s. In his seminal book Passport to Magonia* he published a chronological 'catalogue' of UFO sightings that began with a case from July 1868 and listed many more from the same century.

More recently, this catalogue was extended in the book Wonders in the Sky: Unexplained Aerial Objects from Antiquity to Modern Times, co-authored by Jacques and researcher Chris Aubeck, which detailed sightings of strange objects from millennia past.

The exciting news is that Jacques and Chris - and like-minded researchers from the 'MagoniaX' group - have continued researching this historical aspect and are ready to release a new, significantly updated edition of Wonders in the Sky. And they're doing so in an exciting way - they are hoping to release the book as a special, deluxe Collector's Edition, limited to 500 copies, which will help fund further high-quality research into the UFO phenomenon.

Employing the benefits of modern crowd-funding platforms, they have now launched a campaign where you can get in early and be one of the lucky few to get your hands on what will surely be one of the most sought-after limited-edition 'esoteric' books in future decades.

Here's Jacques explaining things himself:

The goal of this campaign is to publish a collector's limited edition of Wonders in the Sky. And by supporting this project you will also be supporting UFO research. Help us facilitate future investigations.

Research has flourished in the last five years, with remarkable material added and unique color images obtained from collections and museums all over the world. With the manuscript completed, and the prototype prepared, we now need your help to independently publish this next generation of Wonders that takes the study and research of UFOs to a higher level. We hope you will support our campaign and come to love your book for both its artistic beauty and scientific merit.

This new unique Limited Edition (only 500 signed, numbered and slipcased copies will ever be produced) represents the culmination of many years of exhaustive scientific research.

...Our expanded and updated Wonders in the Sky contains 106 color images of rare photographs and illustrations. These images have been rendered from high quality digital images to create a work of lasting beauty as well as science.

The campaign launches 'officially' next week, but as a good friend of the Daily Grail, Jacques has been kind enough to give us a few days advance notice so that we can get it in early. To ensure you can get a copy of this limited edition masterwork - or even just to chip in a smaller amount to help support further research -head over to the Wonders in the Sky campaign page now.

Link: Wonders in the Sky: A Breakthrough in UFO Research

(* Full disclosure: The Daily Grail is the publisher of Jacques' books Passport to Magonia and Messengers of Deception)

Fire in the Sky: The Inside Story (An Exclusive Excerpt from Silver Screen Saucers)

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If you're into UFOs and alien abductions, chances are that in 1993 you rushed to your nearest multiplex to watch Fire in the Sky, the Hollywood movie based on Travis Walton's homonymous book.

Chances also are, that nearing the end of it you felt an overpowering compulsion to throw your bag of popcorn on to the screen, and yell "THAT'S NOT HOW IT HAPPENED!" as you stormed out of the theater --or were escorted out in handcuffs. Fact is, Fire in the Sky is paradoxical in being the best AND worst cinematic depiction of the alien abduction phenomenon in a major motion picture.

In an exclusive excerpt from his book Silver Screen Saucers [Amazon US & UK], film researcher and author Robbie Graham shares with us the inside story of what really happened during the arduous journey to bring Fire in the Sky to the big screen; a movie studios rejected from the get-go, because they couldn't understand it or place it in the usual Sci-Fi box where they put all aliens and space monsters.

In a way, Hollywood's repudiation of abductions is but a symptom of how our society at large still hasn't found a way to tackle with this confounding phenomena, even 4 decades after Travis Walton suffered his amazing experience in a snowy Arizonian woods. Which is why Robbie's work is so important for the people inside and outside of the UFOlogy field.








Screenwriter reveals why that infamous abduction scene was so creatively distorted…

1993 saw the release of Fire in the Sky – Hollywood’s take on the famous Travis Walton UFO abduction case of 1975, in which the Arizona logger claimed to have been taken aboard a flying saucer and later into an expansive spaceport, and to have interacted with two different species of aliens – the now archetypal ‘Grays’ (or a variant of them), and attractive human-looking beings (commonly known in UFOlogy as ‘Nordics’). What distinguishes Walton’s story from innumerable other accounts of cosmic kidnapping is that his apparent abduction was witnessed in part by the six other men on his logging crew. They sped back into town that night to inform bemused authorities of how a UFO had zapped Travis in front of their very eyes. Assuming he was dead, the terrified loggers had left their colleague where he lay, the saucer looming above his lifeless body.

A swirling storm of confusion, anger, and allegations was soon to descend on the sleepy town of Snowflake. The loggers, having reported to police that their friend had been

Fifty Shades of Greys from 1895


Over at the Public Domain Review, there's a few scans from The physiotherapy in gynecology and the mechanical treatment of diseases of the uterus and its appendages by Thure Brandt. These images are eerily familiar for those steeped in forteana, featuring figures with gracile bodies, large heads, largely featureless faces, and big, dark eyes.

Thankfully these are a far cry from the hairy, hippy-sex sketches from The Joy of Sex, it does make one wonder if a copy was on the shelf of Betty Hill's alien gynecologist. Check out the rest for yourself! h/t to Undine on Twitter for sharing this gem.

Snowden vs Fermi: Aliens Might be Encrypting their Messages

The say that to a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail. That might explain why world-famous computer hacker --and unofficial Public Enemy #1-- Edward Snowden thinks the reason why our Universe seems to be devoid of chatty aliens, is because they might be more security-conscious than us, Earthlings, and choose to encrypt all of their communications to render them indistinguishable from cosmic background noise.

Snowden threw his 2 bitcoins out there during a 'robot-enabled' conversation with Neil deGrasse Tyson, on his popular Star Talk radio show --the robot was a moving screen which allowed Neil to interact with the wanted engineer, from the comfort of his office at the Hayden Planetarium.

"When we think about everything we're hearing from our satellites, or everything they're hearing from our civilization, if there are indeed aliens out there, all of their communications are encrypted by default. So what we're hearing — which is actually an alien television show or a phone call or a message between their planet and their own GPS constellation, whatever it happens to be — is indistinguishable to us from cosmic microwave background radiation."

Snowden sees this as the natural progression every technologically-advanced civilizations would go through, while Neil rightly pointed out that perhaps aliens would not have to deal with the same type of 'security issues' as we do, meaning the fear of being spied by their government; maybe they are TRULY advanced and don't even need governments in their society --K-Pax anyone?

But perhaps the young computer engineer's solution to the Fermi paradox works better in terms of a possible external threat, behind the so-called 'Great Filter' proposed by Robin Hanson to explain the confounding silence of the Cosmos. Something like a Galactus-like entity which feeds off young, naive civilizations, or advanced aliens who destroy nascent sentient races, the minute they are fool enough to start shouting out their position in the galaxy, like newly-hatched chicks attracting the attention of a snake --if you're a Mass Effect fan, the scenario is quite easy to grasp…

Of course, having the chance to have an exclusive interview with *the* American whistle-blower of the XXIst century, it was impossible for the discussion not to veer into the issues of privacy under our current state of digital surveillance. But the 1st part of the conversation was by far the most enjoyable, because it was a lighthearted chat between two geeks who share a common passion about Science and knowledge --hearing Snowden admit he once read a metallurgy book "just for fun", and that his biggest regret about dropping out from High.school is that he missed the chance to learn more about chemistry in his teens, is perhaps the closest we've ever gotten to knowing who he really is as a person.

But then again, more important than acquiring knowledge is HOW you choose to make use of it. Neil deGrasse Tyson used his knowledge to help the public open their eyes about the wonders up above. Snowden used his to the help the public open their eyes about the rottenness down below.

One of them ended up being a beloved public figure. The other one will perhaps never set foot again on his home.

Talk about a paradox, huh?.


First Reported Alien Abduction Case to be Made into Major Motion Picture

The Hills are going to Hollywood. Variety reported last week that Bryce Zabel --producer of the TV series Dark Skies-- and his wife Jackie --who wrote the story for Disney's Atlantis-- are teaming up with Gotham/Principal to bring one of the most famous alien abduction cases to the silver screen.

The movie will be based on the book 'Captured!' [Amazon US & UK] co-written by Stanton Friedman and Kathleen Marden, the niece of the late Betty Hill, who had an alleged encounter with humanoid entities along with her recently-wed husband Barney; the beings took them aboard a wingless, circular craft to perform a series of medical procedures on them, on the night of September 19th. 1961.

Producers plan to make the film in a context of both Cold War paranoia and the country’s struggle over race relations.

“Captured is a true story that explores the birth of modern UFO lore through the eyes of the first Americans to report that they were kidnapped by aliens,” said Eric Robinson, who will also produce the film on behalf of Gotham/Principal. “This is an exciting story that is as intriguing, timely and ripe for adaptation today as it was 54 years ago when this incident occurred.”
Stellar CEO Jackie Zabel said the Hills were unique in a number of aspects.

“They were an interracial couple in a country that still had segregation laws, and they lived in a city that was next door to a bomber base bristling with nuclear weapons,” she noted. “What they knew and why they were targeted will make for a phenomenal film.”

Not only is the Hills case the first documented example of what would be later known as the 'alien abduction' phenomenon, but it has also been one of the most heavily debated. All sorts of theories and hypotheses have been proposed by people on both sides of the UFO camp to explain the incredible account of this interracial couple; from notable skeptic Philip Klass claiming the Hills were spooked by the planet Jupiter, to pro-UFO researchers speculating on whether they might have been the subject of some kind of military experiment --Betty and Barney had members of the Air Force among their closest friends, and it was in fact one of them who suggested the Hills the use of hypnotic regression as a way to solve the problem of the 'missing time' they experienced during the night of the UFO sighting, which had been causing a lot of anxiety on the distressed couple.

But what both skeptics and believers seem to be in agreement, is that the Hills were *not* charlatans or attention seekers; they were two honest, hard-working people who were reluctantly driven to worldwide fame after their story was leaked to the press, and were telling the truth as they perceived it. Dr. Benjamin Simon, the psychiatrist and hypnosis expert who treated them --who also had connections with the Army-- believed the story that emerged in the sessions was the result of Betty's dreams, which had ended up influencing Barney's recollections. The Hills never accepted that theory, and were adamant they had been physically taken inside a circular craft while under the influence of some type of mind control --here's important to remember a large portion of the experience was consciously recalled by the Hills, including the several times Barney stopped the car to take a look at the object in the sky which seemed to be following them and getting nearer, and how he used his binoculars to observe humanoid figures clad in black Nazi-like 'uniforms', who seemed to be observing him inside the craft with a malevolent expression.

This new project will not be the first time the Hills case has been dramatized into a movie, though. In 1975 James Earl Jones and Estelle Parsons starred in the TV film The UFO Incident, based on John G. Fuller's book The Interrupted Journey. As a movie fan I can only say it will be tough to surpass James Earl Jones' masterful performance, especially in the scene in which Barney is in Dr. Simon's office, hypnotized and re-experiencing the terror he felt that night when he realized they were about to be captured, and suddenly stands as if wanting to storm out of the room while yelling "I gotta get my gun!"; this is in my humble opinion one of the best moments in his acting career.

Considering there's never been a good abduction movie come out of Hollywood studios --Fire in the Sky is passable, but The Fourth Kind is just atrocious-- here's hoping Captured! manages to become the exception. I also hope the Zabels manage to show a glimpse of the high-strangeness which haunted the Hills after their abduction, as portrayed by Marden and Friedman in the book --even though I get the feeling they're not planning to deviate too much from the typical ETH scenario.

We will keep you up to date regarding this story, and inform you when a release date and an official title is announced*

(*) With at least 6 movies bearing the title 'Captured' in IMDB's database --not to mention all the *ahem* gay romance books available on Amazon-- I think it would be wise for the producers to seek a more original name for their new film... how 'bout 'A Star Map for Two'? ;)

End of an Era: MUFON Founder Passes Away

The largest UFO organization in the world (MUFON) is mourning the loss of its founder, Walter H. Andrus Jr. (1920-2015).

Born in Des Moines, Iowa, Andrus's life-long interest in UFOs began in 1948, when he along with his wife and son had a daylight sighting of four objects flying in formation over downtown Phoenix, Arizona. He then became a regional officer of APRO, one of the leading UFO organizations in the United States back in the day.

In 1969, one year after the infamous Condon Report had given the Air Force the excuse they needed to end their official involvement in the study of UFOs, Andrus founded the then-called Midwest UFO Network --later renamed Mutual UFO Network-- based out in Seguin, Texas, taking a bunch of APRO members with him along also with disenfranchised members of NICAP --the other major UFO organization in the United States-- after their original founder Major Donald Keyhoe was forced to resign and the group came in the hands of a new leadership. In his two books UFOs and the National Security State [Amazon US & UK]Richard Dolan explains how this internal coup in NICAP seemed to have been orchestrated by the American intelligence community, as a way to finally neutralize a feisty civilian organization which had always protested the official cover-up maintained by the government on the UFO phenomenon. At the same time, APRO was also infiltrated and undermined, most notably when one of his directors --Bill Moore-- become involved with Richard Doty in the disinformation campaign which eventually caused the nervous breakdown of Paul Bennewitz, as described in Greg Bishop's book Project Beta [Amazon US & UK] and Mark Pilkington's Mirage Men.

(Speaking about undercover neutralization of UFO groups, I've always suspected Robert Bigelow's involvement with MUFON, during the time when James Carrion was International Director, was an attempt to repeat the same undermining cycle)

NICAP slowly fizzled and died under the new administration, and APRO didn't survive after the death of its founders, Jim and Coral Lorenzen --who never forgave Andrus for what they considered a personal betrayal after he left and founded MUFON; the same could also be said about Dr. Hynek's CUFOS --even though technically it still exists. Andrus on the other hand, lead his group from 1970 to July of 2000, when he retired from his position as International Director, and was succeeded by John F. Schuessler.

Despite my personal caveats with MUFON for its bias towards the extraterrestrial hypothesis (ETH), one cannot deny Walter Andrus succeeded where his peers clearly did not: Creating a well-established civilian organization robust enough to survive the passing of its original founder(s); an organization with visibility outside the small niche of UFOlogy, comprised of dedicated members and hard-working field investigators, who try (as best they can) to apply a structured methodology when researching a phenomenon which challenges many of the most basic principles of the scientific method.

Here's hoping MUFON --or other organizations rising to the challenge UFOs pose-- will try to learn from the mistakes of the past, embrace new technologies ASWELL as different perspectives, and continue to honor the efforts of those pioneers who dedicated their lives in the search for answers.

Rest in Peace.