News Briefs 14-02-2017

It was a simpler time...

Quote of the Day:

We have made enormous progress in teaching everyone that racism is bad. Where we seem to have dropped the ball…is in teaching people what racism actually is…which allows people to say incredibly racist things while insisting they would never.

Jon Stewart

New Research Into the Mystery of Anomalous Meteor Sounds

Leonid Meteors

In our most recent Darklore release (Volume 9), I wrote about the history of the scientific anomaly/controversy known as "electrophonic meteors" (my full article, "Rocks In Your Head", is available at the Darklore website). In short, throughout history, people have reported hearing meteors at the same time as seeing them - despite this appearing to be impossible, given any sound originating from meteors should be delayed by a quite long period as they are generally many miles distant.

For a couple of centuries, respected astronomers rubbished such reports, but in recent decades the phenomenon has become more accepted, with some scientists suggesting that the sounds were caused by radio frequency emissions, possibly from the plasma of the meteor's fireball. Now, a new experiment - published in Nature, no less - has suggested that the mechanism creating the sounds is photoacoustic coupling:

The meteors of interest typically have initial speeds below 40 km/s and burn durations longer than 2 s. These optical pulse trains, if converted to sound, often have time characteristics consistent with the popping, swishing, or sizzling noises reported by observers1–3. We suggest that each pulse of light can heat the surfaces of natural dielectric transducers. The surfaces rapidly warm and conduct heat into the nearby air, generating pressure waves. A succession of light-pulse-produced pressure waves can then manifest as sound to a nearby observer.

...For fireballs, the sound pressure waves track the time history of the illumination, and the amplitude depend on the irradiance. Also important to the generation of sound are the thermal conductivity, specific heat, and density of both the dielectric solid and the air as well as the light penetration depth into the solid.

...[T]he most efficient light-to-sound transducer materials have high absorption coefficients, so the light is absorbed near the surface. They also have low thermal inertia characterized by low conductivity, which minimizes heat flow, and low volumetric heat capacity, which maximizes the temperature rise. This combination of properties is found in most dark-colored dielectric materials. Likely candidates for producing photoacoustic sound are dark paint, fine hair, leaves, grass, and dark clothing – all of which we tested.

Our test setup consisted of a 10 cm square white-light LED array producing a peak flux of E=5W/m2 on the test sample, the sample, and a scientific grade laboratory microphone. The setup was placed inside a plastic dome located in an anechoic chamber. Outside, we located a signal generator and linear amplifier to drive the LEDs and a spectrum analyzer to record the signal from the microphone.

Their testing was successful in producing sounds via photo-acoustic coupling (see their recording of the song "Greensleeves" being transmitted in this way), leading the researchers to conclude that their "calculations and experiments are consistent with how observers have described the concurrent sounds
associated with fireballs".

Paper: Photoacoustic Sounds from Meteors

Further reading: Rocks In Your Head - The Strange History of a Scientific Anomaly

News Briefs 13-02-2017

Natural intelligence seems to be on the wane. And nature abhors a vacuum, so...

Quote of the Day:

Pray that there's intelligent life somewhere up in space, 'cause there's bugger all down here on Earth.

Monty Python, "The Galaxy Song"

2nite: Tune In & Support the John Anthony West Project Telethon

Before the word 'alternative' was hijacked by right-wingers, it was used to differentiate rogue intellectuals who were willing to offer a different interpretation to ideas of theories, which contradicted those endorsed by orthodox academicians.

One of such luminaries in the world of Alternative History is John Anthony West, who has been battling for decades with the 'quackademics' over his theories related to the true age of the Great Sphinx --theories supported by the compelling evidence found by geologist Robert Schoch, who became a long-time friend of John's and was featured alongside him in the Emmy-winning documentary Mystery of the Sphinx (1993).

But now, John is facing a new kind of battle: One with cancer. And true to his unorthodox nature, he's seeking to treat himself using the vanguard therapies designed by Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski on his clinic in Houston, Texas.

Getting sick in America is always expensive. Getting sick with cancer even more so. But renouncing traditional care in favor of cutting-edge methods is something most health insurance companies simply do not accept. Which is why JAW's supporters are trying to raise the money through a crowdsourcing campaign.

And to help promote this money-raising effort, a group of John's friends will be broadcast a special Telethon program --or rather, a Youtubethon-- tonight at 8:30 pm ET. Graham Hancock, Robert Schoch, Laird Scranton, Edward Nightingale and Randall Carlson will be special guests during the transmission, which will be hosted by the Den of Lore show and Sacred Geometry International --Randall's company-- and co-hosted by my buddy Seriah Azkath of Where Did the Road Go?

So tune in, and if you can make a donation. Any amount helps, but both the Fundly crowdsourcing campaign and the telethon organizers have put together a lot of really juicy perks for big contributions.

I had the pleasure of personally meeting all the special guests, including John Anthony West himself, thanks to the Paradigm Symposium(*). I remember one late night of partying back at the hotel lobby, watching the indefatigable John departing with the gathered attendees, or enjoying the spontaneous jamming sessions, seemingly oblivious to the fact it was past midnight and most people his age were probably in bed by then. He used to joke vodka was the key to his inexhaustible energy, but now I think the *real* secret was in the network of caring, nurturing companions he had managed to create and maintain over the years.

Here's hoping that network can spread and multiply its tendrils all over the Internet tonight, so John can keep sticking it to 'quackademics' for many more years to come.

The John Anthony West Project Telethon

Link to the Youtube live show.


(*) Scotty Roberts, co-founder of the Paradigm Symposium, was going to be among the group of special guests, but unfortunately had to withdraw due to personal health problems of his own. Get well, Scotty!

News Briefs 10-02-2017

”There's no reason to burn books if you don't read them.”

Quote of the Day:

“Recreate the world in your own image and make it better for your having been here.”

Ray Bradbury

Spirits of Place Featured in The Independent!

Spirits of Place Cover

The Independent is featuring a wonderful write-up by David Barnett of our recent book Spirits of Place (featuring contributions from Alan Moore, Warren Ellis, Gazelle Amber Valentine and many others), under the title "How places can influence the mind – and vice versa":

Not far from where I live there’s a landscape that’s soaked in apocalyptic imagery. Thornton is a wild and sometimes bleak place, on the hills above Bradford, where the Brontë sisters were born before moving to Haworth, the place they’re more usually associated with, six miles away.

Thornton is farmland and scrub, beautiful in the summer sun, foreboding and often impassable in the depths of winter. There’s a place called World’s End View, from where you feel it really is possible to sit out the apocalypse. There are scattered communities with Biblical names… Egypt, Jerusalem, and Jericho, which even had its own monstrous walls in the Victorian era, massive ramparts that edged the road through and held back the mountains of waste from the stone quarries. There’s a chapel that dates back to the 16th century, which is thought to have been one of the birthplaces of the English Dissenting Christianity movement. The land is well known to be the haunt of the Gytrash, a spectral black hound that snuffled its way into Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Brontë, born here 200 years ago.

It’s a place that has soaked up history and stories, legends and folklore, tales that sit and ferment in the unforgiving stone, long outlasting those frail humans who first forged them. It has what we might call psychogeography, an entwining of people and place, where humans influence the land and the land, in turn, makes its indelible mark on generations of people.

And Thornton is by no means alone in having this strong sense of history and myth about it… there will doubtless be a place just like it near where you live, or grew up. And this is what has informed a new book, Spirits of Place, which over the course of a dozen essays looks at the locations where stories are so embedded that they seem to become part of the landscape themselves.

Follow the link for the complete article - it's a good read - and remember that you can also find more information, and links for ordering the book, at the Spirits of Place website.

News Briefs 09-02-2017

So say we all.

Thanks to Kat & Apollo

Quote of the Day:

"Seriah Azkath: We can’t understand these things for what they are, because our brains are limited and even though mind may not equal brain, the brain is what we have to use to interpret our reality and a lot of this stuff may just be beyond the capability of our brain to actually faithfully interpret."
"Joshua Cutchin: Yeah, I know, I agree, if you’ve got a 12" black-and-white tube television, you’re not going to be able to see some of the detail in a film that was released last year."

~Seriah Azkatch and Joshua Cutchin, on Episode 339 of Skeptiko.

News Briefs 08-02-2017

You've got love to burn...

Quote of the Day:

It's better to burn out, than to fade away.

Neil Young

Meet a Man Who Has Devoted His Life to Searching for the Loch Ness Monster

Steve Feltham has been a full-time hunter of the legendary Loch Ness Monster for 25 years. While skeptics might bemoan a person spending so much of their life chasing a mythical monster, Steve - parked in a caravan right on the shore of the loch, explains exactly why he does it: "The reason I sit here and I try and solve this mystery, is: that's what makes my heart sing."

I first came to Loch Ness when I was a 7-year-old boy, and found this set of caravans with this gang of grown men hunting for monsters in Loch Ness. And I thought...that's amazing, that would be the life for me, I'd love to do that.

...If that little 7-year-old boy could see what became of him, he wouldn't believe his luck."

(via Boing Boing)