- Ethnically Chinese people found buried in ancient Roman graves in London.
- Chinese in Roman Britain? Not so fast.
- Human teeth found in 'hobbit' cave suggest that we may have killed Homo floresiensis off. Or possibly that hobbits were the dentists of the ancient world.
- Earth wobbles may have driven ancient humans out of Africa.
- To this day, nobody is quite sure what the huge 'monolith' on Phobos is.
- Elon Musk looks beyond Mars with interplanetary transport system.
- What if the aliens we are looking for are A.I.?
- Stephen Hawking is still afraid of aliens.
- Who needs crop circles: America's most elaborate corn maze constructed with GPS and math.
- Horses can communicate with symbols, according to science.
- Do our brains have extraordinary untapped powers?
- A sixth sense? It's in your genes.
- New Scotland Yard has a squad of 'super-recognizers' who never forget a face.
- Why panpsychism fails to solve the mystery of consciousness.
- Many scientific 'truths' are, in fact, false.
- The Ig Nobel prize winners of 2016.
Quote of the Day:
Skeptics, who flatly deny the existence of any unexplained phenomenon in the name of 'rationalism,' are among the primary contributors to the rejection of science by the public. People are not stupid and they know very well when they have seen something out of the ordinary. When a so-called expert tells them the object must have been the moon or a mirage, he is really teaching the public that science is impotent or unwilling to pursue the study of the unknown.
Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls of all ages. News briefs for your reading pleasure.
- Meet Joe Reap, the State Department Spokesman Who Died And Kept Speaking.
- Peek Inside the Secret World Of Russia's Cold War Mapmakers and their highly detailed maps of Washington D.C..
- First Rome. Then the Third Reich. Now there's The Rise and Fall of the UFO.
- Cosmic Fossils: The Real Ancient Aliens?
- If all the aliens are dead, Seth Shostak wonders What if the Aliens we are looking for are A.I.?
- You are judged by your enemies. Case in point: Neil deGrasse Tyson featured in Village Atheists, Village Idiots.
- First the Voynich Manuscript is a hoax. Then it's not. Guess what, it's a hoax again. Make up your mind, people!
- Some Truly Strange Cases of People Kidnapped by Bigfoot.
- Here's a new spin on "Stop the world, I wanna get off": Earth Wobbles May Have Driven Ancient Humans Out of Africa.
- Guess what! Horses Can Communicate With Symbols, According To Science.
Thanks to Eric Wargo, and viewers like you.
"We have to remember that what we observe is not nature herself, but nature exposed to our method of questioning."
- Werner Heisenberg
People may never talk with the animals like Dr. Doolittle, but scientists are hard at work trying to communicate with critters. The Wild Dolphin Project has already proven dolphins understand symbols. Other researchers at Georgia State University have created a symbolic language called 'Yerkish' to talk with primates. Now the noble horse joins the roll call of smart animals who can understand, and use, symbols to make humans aware of their needs.
A new study at Applied Animal Behaviour Science shows how twenty three horses learned to tell trainers if they wanted to wear a blanket or not. Subjects were shown three symbols: a horizontal bar to say "I want a blanket", a blank square for "No change", and a vertical bar for "I don't need a blanket". They learned the meanings in a day or two and using them to convey if they were too warm or too cold, building the case for self-awareness.
Previous studies have shown horses enjoy learning for the sake of learning, a decidedly 'human' trait. Positive reinforcement and consideration for the horse's temperment reduced their anxiety for punishment if they gave a 'wrong' answer. In fact, the horses's behavior changed for the better during training because humans could finally understand them.
When horses realized that they were able to communicate with the trainers, i.e. to signal their wishes regarding blanketing, many became very eager in the training or testing situation. Some even tried to attract the attention of the trainers prior to the test situation, by vocalizing and running towards the trainers, and follow their movements. On a number of such occasions the horses were taken out and allowed to make a choice before its regular turn, and signalled that they wanted the blanket to be removed. It turned out that the horses were sweaty underneath the blanket.
I'm not surprised by their intelligence. About a year ago my wife dragged me to Pennsylvania for an overnight at her friend's house. Her husband shared some Kunkletown lore. Some time ago a local carpenter kept horses to pull lumber to job sites. These beasts knew where to get hitched up, how to reach the job sites, and when to return for more lumber without human direction. Eventually the carpenter bought a truck then shot the horses because he didn't need them anymore.
The hubris of human superiority clouds our understanding of animals, and our approach to the touchy topic of their intelligence. I maintain this conceit's cultural, based in deep-seated guilt over humanity's exploitation of animals and the challenges which may arise should they be considered our equals.
Making a huge leap here, what could our treatment of animals say about humanity's prospects in a first contact scenario? Any sufficiently advanced intelligence could find humanity indistinguishable from the animals we eat or experiment on. Aliens may deem us sufficiently clever, having tamed the atom and thinking smartphones are a pretty neat idea, but not being in their league when it comes to sapience.
Yet if we could talk with the animals, grunt, squeak, and squawk with the animals, and vice versa, maybe aliens would be less inclined to dismiss us.
Or our four-legged friends could make a compelling case on our behalf for clemency.
You may also enjoy:
- China's space station 'out of control' and on crash course to Earth.
- Sending secret messages hidden in the DNA of bacterial spores. More and more we seem to be inching towards this alien message scenario...
- How rumours that NASA had changed star signs spread across the internet.
- Migrants from India settled in Australia 4,000 years ago before Captain Cook's arrival.
- For one man, reinterpreting his schizophrenia as shamanism helped his symptoms.
- Bad science misled millions with chronic fatigue syndrome.
- World's hardiest animal has evolved a radiation shield to protect its DNA.
- Reef fish recorded singing dawn chorus, just like birds.
- Ravens found to show empathy for other ravens who have been in aggressive conflict with their mate.
- Scientists may have solved a key riddle about Antarctica - but you're not going to like the answer.
- Tesla updates software after Chinese researchers hacked into the operating system of its cars, remotely manipulating the brake system.
- There was once a plot to drain the Mediterranean Sea and link Europe to Africa. And then build a wall I'm guessing?
- "I was subjected to exorcisms as a child to treat my epilepsy".
- Latest Hillary conspiracy theory suggests she is using a green screen...or is even a hologram.
- Kids made up story about mysterious clown sightings, police say.
- The snake on Mars.
- Astronomers solve mystery of enormous space blob.
- Meet the Lord of Sipán, the mysterious Moche warrior-priest brought back to life with facial reconstruction.
Quote of the Day:
It's a strange world. Let's keep it that way.
Since their launch in 1977, the two Voyager space probes have toured our Solar System - providing some amazing, 'first look' images of the planets - and headed off into the 'great beyond': interstellar space. If any aliens out there ever intercepted the probes, they would discover that they have gold records attached to them, intended as messages from Earth to introduce ourselves and our (current) culture.
Added to the mission by a committee headed up by Carl Sagan (who was also behind the message plaques attached to the Pioneer probes, launched earlier in the decade), the records contain an assortment of music from multiple cultures and eras (including Beethoven, Chuck Berry, Senegalese percussion and Solomon Island panpipes) as well as many of the natural sounds of our planet. The record also features spoken greetings in 55 human languages (and one whale language) as well as one hundred images encoded in analog that depict who, and what, we are.
Whether aliens ever find the Voyager records is probably a question we'll never know the answer to. But humans can now access them via this Kickstarter that will produce a limited edition reproduction of the original:
An exquisitely-designed objet d'art, this limited edition Voyager Golden Record: 40th Anniversary Edition vinyl box set will only be available through this Kickstarter. It is the ultimate album package of the ultimate album package.
The cloth-covered box with gold foil inlay will house three, heavyweight translucent gold vinyl LPs protected by poly-lined paper sleeves. The LPs will contain all of the same magnificent music, greetings, and sounds as contained on the original Voyager Golden Record, nearly two hours of audio. Those records will slip into old style tip on, black ink and gold foil jackets. The audio will be complemented by a beautifully-designed hardbound book of captivating images from the original interstellar message, glorious photos of the planets returned to Earth from the Voyager probes, compelling essays, and ephemera from the project's history.
Each set will include a color, plastic digital download card with a code to access all of the audio in MP3 or FLAC format. A lithograph of the iconic Golden Record cover diagram, printed with gold metallic ink on archival paper, will complete the box set.
Head over to the project's Kickstarter page to learn more, including the various rewards on offer for backers.
- Europe's last surviving Neanderthals were much smarter than we thought.
- Vocal coaching recreates Neanderthal voice.
- Russian police ‘arrest’ activist robot.
- Researchers develop a nanoscale ’fish’.
- Enormous ‘A-bomb’ sprite filmed over the Carribean Sea.
- Not only can Macaques learn to use touch-screens to communicate feelings, they can also type out Hamlet at 12 words per minute.
- Pigeons can distinguish real words from gibberish.
- Oldest-ever proteins extracted from 3.8-million-year-old ostrich shells.
- Amateur archaeologist finds ‘phenomenal’ trove of rock engravings.
- Statue of ancient goddess draws thousands to Black Sea city.
- Our galaxy might be a a huge wormhole.
- 'Perceptronium': a new state of matter?
- Could this be the clearest image of the Loch Ness monster ever taken? Nope, just three seals in a long overcoat.
- Neurofeedback via fMRI helps people to control mental activity.
Quote of the Day:
The greatest self is a peaceful smile, that always sees the world smiling back.
Bryant H. McGill
To infinity, and...
- Elon Musk says SpaceX will go 'well beyond' Mars.
- 'Alien megastructure' may be explained by interstellar junk.
- Do dolphins dream of space travel?
- Project Orion: the plan to use nuclear bombs to propel spacecraft.
- The Moon's birth may have vaporised most of the Earth.
- Is ball lightning a portal to another universe?
- The real-life X-Files: UFOs, flying saucers and the woman from Venus.
- Astronomers baffled by strange new twin planets.
- The strange second life of string theory.
- Losing the War on Unhappiness: A historian of 'positive thinking' declares surrender - almost.
- $283million flow of ancient artifacts to U.S. revealed.
- Divers discover exceptionally well-preserved human skeleton within the shipwreck that produced the Antikythera Mechanism.
- Was this masterpiece painted with ground-up Egyptian mummy?
- How Indigenous Australian storytelling accurately records sea level rises 7000-18,000 years ago
- Fisherman catches pagan god in river, takes it to local museum where staff literally jump for joy.
- Google's DeepMind artificial intelligence has finally figured out how to talk.
- Entangled particles reveal even spookier action than previously thought.
- How astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson got his kid to test the tooth fairy.
- The irrational idea that humans are mostly irrational.
- The Mysterious Universe podcast chats with Anthony Peake about his new book Opening the Doors of Perception.
- Video of the Day: Watch the Cassini probe's gorgeous 44-hour timelapse of Saturn.
Thanks Kat and Cat.
Quote of the Day:
All governments suffer a recurring problem: Power attracts pathological personalities.
Ball lightning is weird. Not just in the capricious way it appears unexpectedly, and thus largely remains a mysterious phenomenon, but also in other strange aspects of its behaviour. For example:
- It can move independently of the atmosphere, such as gliding externally to an airplane traveling at many hundreds of kilometres an hour without being affected by the high level of air movement.
- It can move through windows and walls unimpeded.
- It sometimes causes no damage, and other times great damage.
- There appears to be little or no correlation between its appearance (size, colour, luminosity) and the energy it emits.
Most of the current theories about ball lightning struggle to explain at least some of the points above. So now Peter Sturrock, emeritus professor of applied physics at Stanford University, has suggested what seems to be a fairly off-the-wall idea: that ball lightning is just a portal to another 'space', through which the energy flows - like the power point in your house is not the source of energy, but just a port for energy from elsewhere.
(a) Since there is no known way for the required energy to be stored in the ball lightning, there must be a reservoir of energy remote from the ball lightning (presumably related to the electrical energy responsible for lightning).
(b) Since the reservoir is remote from the ball lightning, there must be some way to transfer energy from the reservoir to the ball lightning. We therefore conceive of a duct that connects the reservoir to the ball lightning.
(c) A ball lightning may now be regarded as a port through which energy in the duct can be released into the atmosphere.
These points, Sturrock says, "suggest the following hypothesis: A ball lightning is a port connecting our overt space to a covert space with with similar but not identical properties."
Seems a fairly out there idea - but even if you don't agree with it, it's still a worthwhile read simply for some of the weird ball lightning accounts it discusses.
You might also like:
- 23,000-year-old fish hooks discovered in Japanese cave are the oldest ever found.
- David Attenborough series about the aquatic ape theory dismissed as being based on wishful thinking about an implausible theory.
- Amateur archaeologist finds 'phenomenal' trove of rock engravings in Scotland.
- Lost onyx stone believed to be ancient gem from the breastplate of the High Priest of Jerusalem, later owned by a Knight Templar, is 'found' after being 'missing for 1,000 years'.
- The kung-fu nuns of Nepal.
- Could ancient remedies hold the answer to the looming antibiotics crisis?
- How morality changes when thinking in a different language.
- Take a 360-degree tour of the 'doomsday' seed vault.
- Powerful generation of 'X-Men' superhumans will be here in less than 100 years, expert claims.
- Does new 'Loch Ness Monster' photo seal the deal?
- Alien life containment facility being planned in Europe. District Nein?
- Star Trek's warp drive might become a reality.
- Huge Mars lakes formed much more recently than previously thought.
- Do only humans have souls, or do animals possess them to?
- I tried astral projection in a flotation tank and all I got was a text message.
- Joining the revolution against aging and death.
- Image(s) of the Day: 2016 Astronomy Photographer of the Year.
Thanks Kat and Chris.
Quote of the Day:
Who wants to live forever,
Who dares to love forever,
When love must die.
Transformation. This is the word that best sums up the feeling of my personal encounter with Tool's Ænima , originally released on vinyl on September 17, 1996. The album sits at the chronological fulcrum on which my life in the 1990s pivots, from dark days to brighter. Whether by coincidence in time or as the root cause of change I cannot say; nevertheless the album now has a catalytic feel to it when I reminisce on decades past.
Tool's previous album, Undertow (1993), sadly provides some of the soundtrack to the dark days. Living in a share house with surfer friends, on a visit to a record store I helpfully suggested the album to a housemate looking for new music. "I've heard good things about this one”, I remarked, pointing it out. Months later, working midnight shifts and trying to sleep during the day while 'Prison Sex' was belting out in the room beside at 100dB, I had developed a certain hate for Tool's music.
The emptiness of the soul at 11pm, stumbling into a subordination-signifying uniform, as others disappear to their beds for the night, is difficult to describe. A miasma of anger, fatigue and hopelessness permeated the air, and Undertow was - for me - the distorted, grinding noise of those emotions. "This is necessary. Life feeds on life, feeds on life, feeds on life..."
By '96, I had moved house, but negativity lingered. And then, the pivot - springing up through multiple events in different aspects of my life. I am given a managerial job with more sensible hours. On a work-related tour of a Coke factory, I spot a pretty girl who worked for the same company as me. Nothing happens, but the moment lingers. A friend's house is burgled; he claims insurance on his treasured CD collection, but later realises that one CD he had repurchased with the payout had not in fact been stolen. He offers me the spare...Tool's Ænima .
Given my history with the band's music, it's surprising to me now that I even played the CD. Perhaps it was the air-play that 'Stinkfist' was getting on TripleJ; a kind of updated 'Sober', sharing a hypnotic deep bass pulse, but seemingly different in tone. Less angry, more introspective. "Something kind of sad about, the way that things have come to be...desensitised to everything, what became of subtlety".
That's not to say there wasn't anger on the album. "I've got some advice for you little buddy!" And so it wasn't love at first sight, but rather a journey into the music, falling through cracks in the seemingly brutalist architecture of the album. To find it was all a facade. Thus it was ever so; the best albums often turn out to be the ones you have to work your way into.
The genius bass riff of '46&2'. The hypnotic percussion at the beginning of ’Eulogy'. The Bill Hicks' monologue over the heart-beat kick drum that initiates 'Third Eye'. Gateway drugs to the rest of each song, pulling me in for repeat listens. Head cocked in fascination at every newly discovered treasure: Danny Carey's drum solo four and a half minutes into '46&2'; Justin Chancellor's bass rolling in like waves beneath Adam Jones' slide guitar in 'Aenema'; Maynard's lyrics touching deeper than expected. "Rest your trigger on my finger."
Poly-rhythms between vocals, guitars and drums almost seven minutes into 'Eulogy'. The dynamics from whisper to roar across 'Third Eye'. The more I listened, the more I heard, the more I felt. Agape at the craftmanship, from individual musicianship and lyricism, to the overall work of art created by those individuals as the single entity of Tool. The lyrics, the music, seeping deep into your bones. Rearranging your mind, re-aligning your soul. "Feel the metamorphosis".
It was, in actuality, *too* good. There was a Luciferian smell about the whole thing; Robert Johnson recently returned from a visit to the crossroads. Not helped by the liner notes discussing Ritual Magik, and a disc emblazoned with a sigil and the name of Asteroth, duke of hell itself.
Those same liner notes - a collage of thoughts jumping from drug effects to Leary and magik and belief - have cold water to pour as well however. "No true ritual magician has ever sacrificed life, drank goat's blood, or taken part in any other stupid urban legend ritual". Rather, "beliefs are dangerous...allow the mind to stop functioning", and magik is about "activating parts of the mind we might normally never use". Crumbs thrown at least to explain the magik being spun off that disc into my mind.
And yet...those themes of transformation that permeate the album, from the very first line you hear (“Something has to change”) and the lyrics of '46&2' ("Change is coming, now is my time.") and 'Third Eye' ("Prying open my third eye”), to the liner notes mention of Leary's Futants, start seeping out into the real world. I get a better job with regular hours. That cute girl I saw at the Coke factory is transferred to my location; the flirting begins. She will become my wife, now of 16 years. Through her, I make wonderful new friends, for life. I start a webpage, which will lead to a new career. "Now is my time."
It is not all smooth sailing. My father is diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer's. I continue to work mind-numbing jobs for bad pay. But 'angry' songs like 'Aenema' and 'Hooker with a Penis' become tools of catharsis, rather than reinforcing the darkness. I am no longer wallowing.
Remnants of Ænima -related magik continue to swirl through the air of subsequent years, incendiary particles landing in my life periodically. Heavily interested in 'alternative history', I am bemused to find my concert ticket for Tool's 1997 Australian tour has a familiar, esoteric phrase printed upon it: ’Et in Arcadia Ego’. A shared interest; I check out the band’s website looking for more information. A few years later, now running a website devoted to these topics, I off-handedly email Tool's webmaster when he posts on this same subject, not particularly expecting a reply. Instead, a new friendship forms.
Another few years on, and in between meetings with a Hollywood producer in Los Angeles, and a flight to London to visit alternative history author Graham Hancock, I find myself - through my new friend - sitting down to dinner with Danny Carey himself. Somehow a strange path has formed through time and space, from that first record store encounter with Undertow, to the transformational magik of Ænima falling into my hands by chance , to a moment almost a decade on, where I - surreally - am now casually chatting with one of the creators of these albums that have been so significant in my life.
Now another ten years on - twenty in total - and the album remains an all-time favourite. A few rivals persist; Led Zeppelin IV; Neil Young’s Ragged Glory; Prince’s Sign o’ the Times. But none come close to the latent power I feel that still resides in Ænima to this day, waiting for someone to press play and release it into this world once more.
There’s serious magik woven into the fabric of the songs on that album.
Lightning in a bottle.
To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the release of Tool's Ænima on CD (on October 1), I'm going to give away a signed copy of the original lenticular cover CD - signed by Danny Carey himself -, the original release date for the CD. Stay tuned for details on how to enter by liking The Daily Grail on Facebook.