News Briefs 20-09-2017

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Quote of the Day:

It is now highly feasible to take care of everybody on Earth at a higher standard of living than any have ever know. It no longer has to be you or me. Selfishness is unnecessary. War is obsolete. It is a matter of converting the high technology from weaponry to livingry.

Buckminster Fuller

Rendezvous with Vallee: From UFOs (Unidentified Flying Objects) to UAMs (Unidentified Alchemical Manifestations)

Last week my friends Darren and Graham, hosts of The Grimerica Show podcast, regaled me with what is probably the greatest honor a UFO buff can receive: A chance to interview Dr. Jacques Vallee, the most renowned researcher in the field.

I actually had the opportunity to meet Dr. Vallee in person last year, and conversed with him in the company of my good friend and colleague Greg Bishop --you can read about it here-- but this new opportunity was clearly different. For starters, on that occasion I let Greg do most of the talking, since the main excuse we had to meet with the honorable astronomer and computer scientist was to hand him a copy of my friend's book It Defies Language! --I was just too 'starstruck' and intimidated by being in the presence of such a legend, anyway. Besides, that had been a private conversation away from any kind of public scrutiny; since I knew Vallee rarely concedes interviews these days due to his busy schedule, I had to prepare myself with a list of good questions for him --the kind that are rarely asked in shows like Coast to Coast, if you know what I mean-- to which I consulted with a few people whose opinion on the UFO subject I value greatly.

I did my homework diligently, but nevertheless the night prior to the interview I was understandably nervous, and couldn't sleep until way past 3 in the morning. I tried to calm myself by watching Star Trek Generations, which had been recently released on Netflix, and the movie reminded me of my forgotten love for the 90's series ST: TNG and my college years; of how at the same time I was beginning to make use of the computers in my university to access the early Internet in order to read monochromatic UFO bbs forums, I would return home and try not to miss the adventures of Captain Jean Luc Picard and the crew of the USS Enterprise on cable TV; of how I would join them on their voyages in my imagination, and dream of the Final Frontier...

It's fair to say I was still deeply entrenched in the Extraterrestrial Hypothesis as the 'best' solution for the UFO dilemma back then, and even though my thoughts about the phenomenon have evolved dramatically in the last twenty-something years, I decided that night --out of a pure whim-- that I would start rewatching the whole series of The Next Generation, available in its entirety on the Netflix platform.

(I'm mentioning this seemingly trivial anecdote for reasons which will result clear later on, dear Coppertops…)

The night of the interview came, and my Grimerican friends were kind enough to let me 'be at the helm' of the discussion for most of the time we had Dr. Vallee on --you can listen to the episode here. The Grimerica Show prides itself in not trying to copy the outdated radio model, hence it has no sponsors or commercial interruptions, and the guys have learned the finesse of letting their guest speak and trying to cut in as little as possible. This informal podcast format has its pros and cons: The cons is that of the looong list of questions I'd prepared I think I only manage to cover less than 15% of what I'd wanted to ask Vallee; the pros is that the conversation went into avenues I had neither expected nor anticipated. At all.

There's a lot of things we covered in the approximate 1½ hours we had Dr. Vallee on the line, but the REAL meat of the conversation happened when we began to discuss what he calls 'physical samples', and the research he's been trying to do with them. Firstly he made the distinction between two different type of samples connected to the UFO question: There are the so-called 'alien implants' which became popularized in the late 90's thanks to the work of the late Doctor Roger Leir; it was surprising to listen to Dr. Vallee admitting how, after being very skeptical initially about the nature of the odd objects being extracted out of the bodies of alleged abductees --justifiably so, given how dermatologists are well acquainted with all the kind of odd foreign bodies which get harmlessly lodged beneath the skin, to which patients will have no recollection of how they got there if they had an incident at an early age-- he is now convinced some of these implants deserve further scrutiny. Perhaps it was Jeremy Corbell and the work he made with Leir just before he died what made Vallee changed his opinion, but in any case it was refreshing to once again corroborate that the reason Dr. Vallee is exceptional in this field, is because he's not afraid of reinventing himself and change his mind about the phenomenon from time to time; unlike most researchers who may start by submitting one interesting theory or case, and then spend the rest of their career DEFENDING their position against any type of dissent and criticism --but then again, that's what good scientists DO when presented with new data.

The other samples Dr. Vallee is interested in, and the ones he's been focusing more recently, are what he calls Ejecta: Pieces of metal slag supposedly expelled by a UFO under unusual circumstances --as if the object was suffering some type of 'malfunction' or going through some kind of trouble-- and then material 'drips off' to the ground at very high temperatures, which may later be picked up by the puzzled witness after it cools off to keep as a curious memento.

Dr. Vallee mentioned the famous Ubatuba case from Brazil which came to light in 1957, but for the English-speaking UFO field perhaps a more recognizable example would be the controversial Maury Island case, which was investigated by Kenneth Arnold and ultimately led to the death of two Air Force members while they were retrieving a box containing samples of the slag ejected by a flying saucer.

Those type of samples had been analyzed decades ago, by both the Air Force and independent researchers like Prof. Sturrock of Stanford University, and at various laboratories in France. In the case of the Ubatuba samples, the researchers found they were composed of magnesium of a very high level of purity, which made them unusual… but not necessarily compelling if what you were looking for was a novel chemical element --i.e. something not of this Earth-- which would prove your case that UFOs are interplanetary craft. Eventually both the UFO buffs and the skeptics forgot about the ejecta material, which remained hidden in the drawers or cabinets of the still-puzzled witnesses.

The kind of spectrometer equipment Prof. Sturrock used in his analysis is very expensive and are under constant use by university researchers. What Dr. Vallee has been quietly doing instead is gathering samples provided to him from less publicized UFO cases, and go to his associates in Silicon Valley where they have newer spectrometers that are smaller and more affordable.

"We found something very curious," he told us. When analyzing the isotope ratios of these mineral samples, they discovered they neither conformed to the expected terrestrial ratios, nor to the extraterrestrial ones exhibited by meteoric objects. In other words, it almost seemed as if the isotopes had been reengineered, by separating them and giving them an exotic ratio only to reintroduce them into the metal alloy for some unknown reason.

Separating isotopes from Uranium was done for the first time by the Manhattan project, but separating the isotopes of 'ordinary' metals like magnesium? That would still cost millions of dollars, according to Vallee. And even if you could do it, WHY would you do it, anyway?

Now, Vallee has been making presentations on conferences recently, and also given radio interviews in which he's tried to explain this funny isotope business, but I guess nobody has been really paying the necessary attention to it. Perhaps it's to be expected; after all, most people interested in the UFO phenomenon are not scientists or metallurgists --including me!-- so talking about chemical ratios becomes too dry and technical very quickly, and it's not really what you want to hear from a man like Dr. Vallee, right? You want to talk about high strangeness, classic cases, the sorry state of the UFO field in the XXIst century --Tom DeLonge!-- or discuss the type of activity reported inside the infamous Skinwalker ranch, right? In other words, you want the 'hot chaff' my good friends Ben and Aaron love to discuss in their Mysterious Universe podcast!

But then it hit me.

I waited for Dr. Vallee to finish talking about how he and his colleagues are willing to share their samples to whomever wants to conduct their own experiments, and I excitedly jumped in
to ask him: "are you saying these results suggest we're dealing with an agency not only capable of manipulating the space-time continuum --the way you and other researchers have documented in plenty of cases-- but ALSO capable of transforming energy into matter, and vice versa?"

I almost jumped out of my chair when he replied with a resounding "Oh yes!"

And he went even further, speculating on how maybe this has more to do with the supposed 'cover-up' of the UFO reality by the US government, than any nefarious plan by the supposed 'Breakaway Civilization' or our 'Illuminati' overlords. If we assume the government has in fact recovered crashed saucers or other type of material over the years, the cover-up might have made sense in the 50's if what they were trying to accomplish was to find the secret of the 'alien propulsion system' before the Russians. Dr. Vallee firmly believes that as taxpayers the American people would have the right to demand an answer to those who might have kept these recovered items in secrecy for so long.

But… what if they still don't have an answer yet?

Let's imagine the powers that be have managed to retrieve 10, 50 or even 100 crashed saucers. They figure out how to open them up, only to find them… empty. No control room, no guidance system. Not even an engine or a discernible power source. To us, that would not make any sense, the same way someone living in the XVIII century would find one of our automobiles equally nonsensical; they would open the hood trying to find where the horse is hidden!

Not only that, but the same powers that be can't really learn anything from the 'alien' hardware, because they sooner or later discover what Valle and his colleagues are finding out: that it is composed of 'mundane materials.' No Unobtanium or Vibranium to replicate for your military R&D, and nowhere to know the purpose behind this 'absurd' reengineering.

So... pretty insightful realization to be mentioned during the interview, huh? Truth be told I can't pat myself too hard on the back for it, and this is when we go back to the 'trivial' anecdote I mentioned at the beginning of this article. Remember that I had decided to rewatch ST:TNG on Netflix the night before the interview? [Spoilers!] It just so happens that in the two pilot episodes of the first season (Encounter at Farpoint) The Enterprise encounters a mysterious object --which initially has the classical appearance of a flying saucer, BTW-- and in the end they discover they are not dealing with a 'vessel' filled with hostile aliens, but with a living entity capable of manipulating reality, and 'manifesting' any type of object into existence by sheer thought alone, in a manner similar to the 'replicators' onboard the Enterprise which were used to convert energy into matter.

Synchronistic? Maybe not so. But at least fairly serendipitous...

But let us get back to the Vallee interview. The implications of this finding, if successfully confirmed by him and other researchers --and he reminds us they are not ready to publish their results yet-- are staggering. More than a hundred years after year Albert Einstein penned the most famous physics equation in the world (E=mc2) any child in elementary school knows that the atoms which build up ordinary matter can be divided, and the process liberates an enormous amount of energy; this power is not only the basis of fission energy, but is also the reason why our current geopolitical climate is turning ever more… interesting --in the Chinese sense of the word.

But reversing the equation and turning pure energy into matter? That still remains in the realm of theoretical physics. And yet the ancient precursors of our modern scientists already had a name for such a process: TRANSMUTATION.

The men who used such a word were just as intelligent as any MIT graduate; they just didn't have computers or large hadron colliders to work with, but beakers and retorts instead. They also didn't write their findings using mathematical equations, but rather relied on arcane symbols intertwined with myth and astrology, in order to protect their findings from competitors or the dangerous gaze of the Church. These men were Alchemists, following a philosophical tradition so old its origins has been lost in the sands of Time.

In our times Alchemy is considered nothing more than a 'proto-science', and although alchemists are credited with laying the basic foundation on which the modern edifices of Chemistry and Physics were erected, they are still regarded as superstitious dullards who wasted their life in pursuit of an impossible substance called the 'lapis' or Philosopher's Stone --some scientists even gloat on the fact that with our modern equipment, they have accomplished the alchemists' wildest dreams of 'turning lead into gold.'

But the real purpose of the Great Work was much more complicated than that: it was not the mere transmutation of base metals, but the transformation of the Alchemist himself. In the esoteric Western tradition philosophers talked about the quintessence, the celestial 'aether' or divine substance, different to the common elements of Earth, Wind, Water and Fire. Aether was the 'pure air' that the gods breath, and is that of which the heavenly bodies were supposed to be composed, similar to the Hindu Akash and other mystical traditions. Without the quintessence, none of the other elements could exist.

Could we use a different term to describe this ancient alchemical term, in order to make it more approachable to our modern thinking? How about… The Matrix?

Let us then speculate on how a possible intelligence (or group of intelligences) may be able to 'manipulate the Matrix' in order to manifest whatever they need, wherever and whenever they want; be that a metal craft… or a body, in case you need to interact with the natives for whatever reason.

Revolutionary propulsion systems and exotic materials inside a UFO only make sense from the perspective of an alien craft that came from elsewhere and arrived to our planet. But when you play a computer videogame you (the player) don't need to 'insert' anything into the virtual system, and you certainly don't need to be physically transported to that digital realm. You push a few buttons and Voilá! You 'spawn' a digital avatar to interact with the game's environment. And in some games you can also manifest all sorts of transportation systems. Those transports are composed of the same 1's and 0's which make up everything in the synthetic landscape, and the programmers don't need to simulate every little intricacy or component in the vehicle in order for it to work, since they have direct access to the 'source code' controlling the dynamics of the whole game.

Preposterous? Not if you are willing to embrace Dr. Vallee's assumptions --and my own-- that our Space-Time continuum is just a subset of a bigger Reality, from which the UFO phenomenon may emanate. And if that sounds to you a lot like ancient Gnosticism, dear Coppertop, is because it is --Dr. Vallee himself conceded as much during the interview.

I know fully well all these wild speculations have gone way beyond what Jacques Vallee and his colleagues might be comfortable with endorsing, and it's true that what they are discovering opens up MORE questions than the answers it may provide. But one thing is for sure: When compared to the notion of unidentified alchemical manifestations (UAMs) invoked by intelligences capable of controlling the Matrix of our very existence, the ETH (extraterrestrial hypothesis) sounds positively quaint… and boring.

So here's hoping Vallee manages to get some big honchos of Silicon Valley involved in his research *cough*Elon Musk*cough*. And if you happen to know someone who may be in possession of potential debris ejected by a UFO, don't feel annoyed if a suave-looking French gentleman asks you about it. Cut him some slack --and give him some slag.

News Briefs 19-09-2017

Tear it down!

Quote of the Day:

When we were kids, we were all afraid of the dark. And when we grew up we weren't afraid anymore, but it's funny how a big lie can make us all kids again.

Judge Clement, in 'Trackdown'

Björk's New Music Video Looks Like it was Double-Dipped in DMT

Björk, 'The Gate'

Icelandic singer Björk has a new album coming out in November (Utopia), and the music video for the first single that has just been released has so much multi-dimensional geometric space fairy vibe happening in it you'd swear they double-dipped it in DMT before releasing it:

For the first release from her forthcoming new album, co-produced by Arca, Björk has teamed up with a super-troupe of contributors to create a hallucinogenic new video. Artist Andrew Thomas Huang lends his tech-savvy hand to envision a kaleidoscopic world inhabited by the singer-songwriter, who is clad in an iridescent otherworldly garment designed by Gucci’s Alessandro Michele.

Björk herself says 'The Gate' is "essentially a love song, but I say ‘love’ in a more transcendent’s about rediscovering love—but in a spiritual way, for lack of a better word."

(h/t Boing Boing)

News Briefs 18-09-2017

Shit just got real folks...

Thanks to Mark Pesce and Anomalist News.

Quote of the Day:

The first principle is that you must not fool yourself - and you are the easiest person to fool. So you have to be very careful about that. After you've not fooled yourself, it's easy not to fool others. You just have to be honest in a conventional way after that.

Richard Feynman

Glitch in the Matrix: 1950s TV Show Featured a Character Named Trump Defrauding Simple Townsfolk with Promises About a Wall

Trump the Con-Man

Yet another piece of evidence* that the simulation we're living in is buggy AF: an episode of the 1950s TV Western Trackdown has been found that featured a con-man named Trump, who promises to build a wall around the town to save them from certain death:

Narrator: The people were ready to believe. Like sheep they ran to the slaughterhouse. And waiting for them was the high priest of fraud.

Trump: I am the only one. Trust me. I can build a wall around your homes that nothing will penetrate.

Townperson: What do we do? How can we save ourselves?

Trump: You ask how do you build that wall. You ask, and I’m here to tell you.

The episode is filled with conversations that seem entirely appropriate to the debates of 2017. When Ranger Hoby Gilman goes to the local judge in an effort to get Trump arrested for fraud, the judge replies "In order to arrest him, a sheriff has to have a charge, and Trump hasn't given him a thing to go on." The judge then goes on to point out that Gilman has no chance of convincing the scared townspeople that Trump is a con-man, because a big lie that scares people is a difficult thing to counter:

I know how you feel; maybe I agree with you. I know these people pretty well, and right now there's nothing in the world that could change their mind...they're not going to listen. You may as well try to spit out a forest fire.

It's a funny thing - when we were kids, we were all afraid of the dark. And when we grew up we weren't afraid anymore, but it's funny how a big lie can make us all kids again.

Could the Trump character have been based - either consciously or subconsciously - on Donald Trump's father Fred Trump, who faced criticism and investigations during the 1950s regarding profiteering from public contracts? The physical resemblance between the fictional Trump and Fred Trump is certainly interesting. Or is this just another glitch in the Matrix, or a warning from a time-traveling script-writer?

(* Just last month we posted about this 19th century science fiction novel about a boy named Baron Trump.)

(thanks Ray)

Related stories:

News Briefs 15-09-2017

”The centre of every man's existence is a dream.”

Quote of the Day:

“You can only find truth with logic if you have already found truth without it.”

G.T Chesterton

Commemorate the Cassini Mission to Saturn With This Free eBook from NASA

Death of Cassini

As I write this, the Cassini space-probe is in its final hours, plunging towards Saturn at some 23,000 mph. The decades-long mission has been a monumental success, both on account of its scientific revelations, as well as the inspiration the images flowing back from the ringed planet and its moons has offered to the public at large.

For a fantastic review of the Cassini mission, accompanied by some truly epic images, be sure to head over to NASA's website and grab a copy of The Saturn System Through the Eyes of Cassini, a free eBook (multiple formats) that has been made available to the public:

This free NASA e-Book celebrates Saturn as seen through the eyes of the Cassini spacecraft.

The Cassini-Huygens mission has revolutionized our knowledge of the Saturn system and revealed surprising places in the solar system where life could potentially gain a foothold—bodies we call ocean worlds.

Since its arrival in 2004, Cassini–Huygens has been nothing short of a discovery machine, captivating us with data and images never before obtained with such detail and clarity. Cassini taught us that Saturn is a far cry from a tranquil lone planet with delicate rings. Now, we know more about Saturn’s chaotic, active, and powerful rings, and the storms that rage beneath. Images and data from Saturn’s moons Titan and Enceladus hint at the possibility of life never before suspected. The rings of Saturn, its moons, and the planet itself offer irresistible and inexhaustible subjects for intense study. As the Cassini mission comes to a dramatic end with a fateful plunge into Saturn on Sept. 15, 2017, scientists are already dreaming of going back for further study.

Over a period of 13 years, Cassini has captured about 450,000 spectacular images within the Saturn system, providing new views of the “lord of the rings” and a plethora of iconic images. To honor the art and science of Cassini, this book was developed collaboratively by a team from NASA’s Planetary Science Division (PSD), NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), and the Lunar and Planetary Institute (LPI). While these images represent the tip of the iceberg—each telling a story about Saturn and its mysterious moons—our hope is that the mission will inspire future artists and explorers. The sheer beauty of these images is surpassed only by the science and discoveries they represent.

In the modern world, it's sometimes easy to grow ambivalent to the wonders that surround us. We should never, ever take things like the Cassini mission for granted - imagine the excitement anybody from previous times would have had if shown these magical images of another world far beyond our own. As you look through the book, be sure to raise a glass to Cassini, and all the engineers and scientists behind the mission.

Related posts:

News Briefs 14-09-2017

Word has it Stephen King has already signed a deal with SyFy for the It sequel: Clownado!: "They float, but you'll fly!"

Thanks to Cass, Greg and my Grimerican buds for letting me chat with one of my heroes.

Quote of the Day:

"The web is becoming the medium of choice for disinformation and misinformation, including official efforts to inject new 'memes' into the culture. Although I remain an optimist about the web as a medium for free exchanges of data and faster communication of high value and faster communication of high value, it is also a potential tool for propaganda, false rumors intentionally planted and for a range of techniques designed to alter or filter social reality."

˜Jacques Vallee: Of Crop Circles, Meme Wars and Web-based Flypaper

News Briefs 13-09-2017

Clowns are no laughing matter...

Thanks to @MattStaggs.

Quote of the Day:

Death is part of the deal. Imagine if, before you came to exist on Earth, God said, “You can choose to stay up here with me, watching reruns and eating ice cream, or you can be born. But if you pick being born, at the end of your life you have to die — that’s nonnegotiable. So which do you pick?” I think most people would say, “I’ll give living a whirl.” It’s sad, but the whirl includes dying. That’s something I accept.

John Cleese