Otherworlds: A New Book Exploring the Links Between Psi and Psychedelics

Book cover for Otherworlds: Psychedelics and Exceptional Human Experience

Our good friend (and Darklore contributor) Dr David Luke has a new book available covering the strange lands that live between shamanism and parapsychology: Otherworlds: Psychedelics and Exceptional Human Experience (Amazon US / Amazon UK). Here's the blurb:

A psychonautic scientific trip to the weirdest outposts of the psychedelic terrain, inhaling anything and everything relevant from psychology, psychiatry, parapsychology, anthropology, neuroscience, ethnobotany, ethnopharmacology, biochemistry, religious studies, cultural history, shamanism and the occult along the way.

Staring the strange straight in the third eye this eclectic collection of otherworldly entheogenic research delivers a comprehensive and yet ragtaglledy scientific exploration of synaesthesia, extra-dimensional percepts, inter-species communication, eco-consciousness, mediumship, possession, entity encounters, near-death and out-of-body experiences, psi, alien abduction experiences and lycanthropy. Essentially, its everything you ever wanted to know about weird psychedelic experiences, but were too afraid to ask…

David is a former president of the Parapsychology Association who has published almost one hundred papers on transpersonal experiences, anomalous phenomena and altered states of consciousness - so he knows his stuff.

Links: Grab a copy of Otherworlds from Amazon US or Amazon UK

News Briefs 25-07-2017

Always moving forward...

Quote of the Day:

The further a society moves from the truth, the more it will hate people that speak it.

George Orwell

Astronomer Royal: Advanced Extraterrestrial Civilisations Will Be Post-Biological

Cylon

People sometimes joke about the horror of being trapped in a room with an older person, listening to them ramble on about various topics. If that person was Martin Rees, British Astronomer Royal, I wouldn't complain at all. The 75-year-old recently sat down with Edge, and over the course of an hour rambled on about all manner of fascinating topics, including advanced aliens, the nature of reality, the dangers of advances in science, climate change, AI, and interplanetary travel.

In the discussion ("Curtains For Us All? A Conversation With Martin Rees", both video and transcript available), Rees contemplated the long process of biological evolution, as compared to the rapid advances made once humans became a technological civilisation, and extrapolated to what that might mean for any advanced alien species that might be out there:

If we think of what's happened on Earth, there's been 4 billion years of evolution. And for a few millennia, there's been some kind of civilization—organized human groups—leading eventually to technology and the world we live in today. If we extrapolate, then of course the extrapolation we get depends on whether we listen to someone like Ray Kurzweil or someone more conservative.

Even though the rate of progress is uncertain, the direction of travel is pretty well agreed. It's almost certainly going to be towards a posthuman world, where our intelligences would be surpassed by something genetically engineered from us or, more likely, it will be some sort of artificial electronic device that has robotic abilities and intelligence.

Some people say that will happen within a century, others say it will happen within a few hundred years. Even if it takes a few hundred years, that is a tiny instant compared to the past history of the Earth. More importantly, it's a tiny instant compared to a long-range future. There are billions of years ahead for our solar system, and maybe even more for the universe.

If you imagine a time chart for what's happened on the Earth, there's been 4 billion years where there's been no manifestation of any technology. Then, a few millennia of gradually expanding technology generated by human beings. After that, maybe there will be billions of years more when the dominant technology, the dominant non-natural things, will be entirely inorganic. That means the following: If we were to detect some other planet on which life had taken a course similar to what happened here on Earth, it's unlikely that its development there would be sufficiently synchronized with development here that we would catch it in those few millennia in which we've got technology that is controlled by organic beings like us. If it's lagging behind what's happened on Earth, then we'll see no evidence for anything artificial.

On the other hand, if it's ahead, then what we will detect—if we detect any evidence that that civilization existed—will be something mechanical, machines. Those machines maybe will not be on the planet because they may not want gravity, they may not want water, et cetera. They may be in space. If the Yuri Milner program detects anything, then it's likely to be some artifact created by some long-dead civilization. It's unlikely that there would be any coded message intended for us, but it might be something we could clearly see was not something that emerged naturally. That in itself would be very exciting.

Well worth a watch/read!

Link: "Curtains For Us All? A Conversation With Martin Rees"

News Briefs 24-07-2017

Accept no imitations, the Daily Grail is the go-to-source for fringe news:

Quote of the Day:

If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be a vegetarian.

Paul McCartney

Darkness Falls Across the Land: The Stranger Things Series 2 Trailer is Here!

Darkness falls across the land, the midnight hour is close at hand. For those who love their paranormal stories with a heavy dose of Spielbergness and 80s nostalgia, the Netflix series Stranger Things is returning with its second series in October. Once again it's saturated in everything 80s, from the Dragon's Lair arcade game (man I remember being excited about that) to Ghostbusters and Michael Jackson references. Oh, and plenty of dark creepiness as well.

The first trailer for Stranger Things 2 is here. It’s 1984 and the citizens of Hawkins, Indiana are still reeling from the horrors of the demogorgon and the secrets of Hawkins Lab. Will Byers has been rescued from the Upside Down but a bigger, sinister entity still threatens those who survived.

Stranger Things returns with all episodes available on October 27th, just in time for Halloween.

Related story:

News Briefs 22-07-2017

“To hold a pen is to be at war.”

Quote of the Day:

“We should be considerate to the living; to the dead we owe only the truth.”

Voltaire

Are Pulsars Actually Navigation Beacons Used as a 'Galactic Positioning System' by Aliens?

Are Pulsars Navigational Beacons for Aliens?

In 1967 researchers Jocelyn Bell Burnell and Antony Hewish discovered an astronomical anomaly: radio-wave pulses that repeated every 1.33 seconds, originating from the same location in the sky. While they "did not really believe that we had picked up signals from another civilization", they did admit to considering the possibility, given the signals were unlike anything ever detected before - so much so that they named the signal LGM-1, a tongue-in-cheek acronym for "little green men".

When more pulsating sources were later discovered, and an entirely natural "lighthouse model" explaining the anomaly as a rotating neutron star was put forward, the 'extraterrestrial civilisation' explanation was well and truly left behind.

However, Belgian researcher Clément Vidal believes that the reasons for dismissing the ET hypothesis were not necessarily entirely valid, and perhaps the idea should be revisited. In a paper titled "Pulsar positioning system: A quest for evidence of extraterrestrial engineering", he runs through various elements of how pulsars could be used as navigational beacons, similar to how in recent decades GPS has become ubiquitous for our own navigation, and what that means for both SETI-related questions, as well as our own future in space, both in terms of navigation and communication:

X-ray pulsar-based navigation (XNAV) is comparable to GPS, except it operates on a galactic scale. I propose a SETI-XNAV research program, to test the hypothesis that this pulsar positioning system might be an instance of galactic-scale engineering by extraterrestrial beings. The paper starts with a critique of the rejection of the extraterrestrial hypothesis when pulsars were first discovered, continues with some highlights on the rich pulsar phenomenology, and their usefulness for various purposes. The core section proposes lines of inquiry for SETI-XNAV, related to: the pulsar distribution and power in the galaxy, their population, their evolution, possible pulse synchronizations, pulsar usability when navigating near the speed of light, decoding galactic coordinates, directed panspermia, and information content in pulses. Even if pulsars are natural, they are likely to be used as standards by ETIs in the galaxy. Such a common galactic timing and positioning standard have deep consequences for SETI and METI. I discuss potential policy issues, as well as benefits for humanity, whether the research program succeeds or not.

Vidal notes that while "normal” pulsars have a pulse period of 0.5 second on average, a small subset (around 10% of all pulsars) have a period between 1.4ms and 30 ms (known as "millisecond X-ray pulsars" (MSPs). This latter, short wavelength pulsar type is an ideal candidate for using as a 'galactic positioning system', as not only are they detectable with small, low-cost equipment (as opposed to a 20+ metre radio dish for normal pulsars), but they offer unbelievable accuracy relative to galactic distances: "a probe or seed could go anywhere in the galaxy, with an accuracy of 100m!"

Vidal also notes that MSPs distribution in space "is isotropic, while normal pulsars are more concentrated in the galactic plane". He asks what is the likelihood for this to happen naturally, and whether this distribution spread is possibly another indication of the involvement of alien engineers.

To sum up, this paper draws two major conclusions, one to be expected, the other uncertain. First, all pulsars could be perfectly natural, but we can reasonably expect that civilizations in the galaxy will use them as standards (section 6). By studying and using XNAV, we are also getting potentially ready to receive and send messages to extraterrestrial intelligence in a galactically meaningful way. From now on, we might be able to decipher a first level of timing and positioning metadata in any galactic communication.

Second, what remains uncertain is whether the pulsar positioning system is natural or artificial. We put forward the SETI-XNAV quest to answer this issue. It draws on pulsar astronomy, and navigation and
positioning science to make SETI predictions. This concrete project is grounded in a universal problem and need: navigation. Decades of pulsar empirical data is available, and I have proposed 9 lines of inquiry to start the endeavor (section 5). These include predictions regarding the spatial and power distribution of pulsars in the galaxy, their population, their evolutionary tracks, possible synchronization between pulsars, testing the navigability near the speed of light, decoding galactic coordinates, testing various directed panspermia hypotheses, as well as decoding metadata or more information in pulsar’s pulses.

To critics of the proposal that pulsars might be navigation beacons, Vidal asks them to imagine that we found strange time-keeping devices well-distributed around Mars, beaming information that could easily be used as a 'Mars Positioning System'. "Wouldn’t we be compelled," he asks, "to explore the hypothesis that extraterrestrial intelligence is at play? This is exactly the current situation with millisecond pulsars, but on a galactic scale."

And in any case, he notes, even if pulsars are entirely natural, they might still be used as navigation beacons by one species at least: us. With numerous scientific missions proposed to send probes not only throughout our solar system, but also beyond - such as Russian billionaire Yuri Milner's 'Breakthrough Starshot" quest to send a probe to Alpha Centauri - precise space navigation is an important topic for the new epoch of space travel. And pulsars, he notes, "are currently the best option to navigate the solar system and the galaxy with high accuracy", and so the topic is definitely worthy of further research.

(h/t Norman)

News Briefs 20-07-2017

Do not attempt to adjust the picture. We are controlling transmission.

Thanks to Charles, Paul & Zencastr.

Quote of the Day:

"The secrets of the universe don't mind. They reveal themselves to "nobodies" who care."

~The Outer Limits, season 1. The Galaxy Being (1.01)

New Bladerunner 2049 Trailer

As much as I want to hate the fact that there is a sequel to Bladerunner, I can't help but be excited by the authentic vibe that Dennis Villeneuve has brought to Bladerunner 2049, at least going by the visuals in the new trailer for the upcoming movie.

Thirty years after the events of the first film, a new blade runner, LAPD Officer K (Ryan Gosling), unearths a long-buried secret that has the potential to plunge what’s left of society into chaos. K’s discovery leads him on a quest to find Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), a former LAPD blade runner who has been missing for 30 years.

As always, avoid the trailer if you want to go into the movie, out on October 6, with minimal spoilers or preconceptions. For everyone else who view the trailer and try and work out what's going on, check out this Gizmodo article which breaks it down.