News Briefs 17-02-2017

“One of us is obviously mistaken.”

Quote of the Day:

“Genius is play, and man's capacity for achieving genius is infinite, and many may achieve genius only through play.”

W. Saroyan

News Briefs 16-02-2017

How time flies. One year ago I was enjoying a Mexican dinner with my pal Greg Bishop in Phoenix. This year he's one of the speakers at the International UFO Conference --save one of those Güero Canelo hotdogs for me, vato!!

  • 'Huge flashing UFO' purportedly filmed over Normandy --AND Texas-- was nothing but a huge hoax.
  • In 1939 Winston Churchill wrote an essay about the possibility on alien life --which is probably the reason he ordered a UFO coverup in the 1950s.
  • NASA is studying whether or not to light their new big-ass candle with The Right Stuff on board --and if you don't understand that reference, well I only have THIS to say…
  • Here are the winners of NASA's Space Poop Challenge --because there are no gas stations between here and Mars!
  • First Star Trek gave us flip cell phones, now comes Geordi's headset that will let the legally blind to see again.
  • A giant galaxy orbiting our own just appeared out of nowhere. Great! Maybe now all my left socks will also reappear.
  • The Paranormal Activity franchise is moving to the next frontier of mass entertainment: VR.
  • Brain scans can detect autism long before symptoms start to manifest.
  • Robert Kennedy Jr. and De Niro say they'll give $100K to anyone who can prove to them 'vaccines are safe.' Oh boy…
  • The federal Patent and Trademark office ruled against the true inventors of CRISPr.
  • Sorry, you can't hunt for Bigfoot --or Pokemons-- on public taxpayers' money.
  • Revisiting the mystery of the Wollaton Park gnomes.
  • Grill Flame was the name of the CIA operation which used psychics to try to spy on Iran during the hostage crisis.
  • The Teachings of OA: Was the Netflix series inspired by Carlos Castañeda's Tensegrity techniques?
  • Red Pill of the Day: Stealing cars to have a 'joy ride' of the most EXTREME kind...

Thanks to those awesome ice-cream sodas at McAlpine's.

Quote of the Day:

"I am different from Washington; I have a higher, grander standard of principle. Washington could not lie. I can lie, but I won't."

~Mark Twain

Researchers Say We Should Check for Alien Messages in Neutrinos

Radio telescopes

Researchers from Purdue University have proposed a new search for alien messages, not by scanning radio frequencies, but by looking for artificial patterns of neutrino pulses ('NU-SETI'). They note that since neutrinos are weakly interacting, any signal carried by a neutrino beam is "less likely to be distorted en route to Earth than would be the case for an electromagnetic signal":

In searching for SETI signals carried by neutrinos, there are at least two classes of signals that might be accessible to us. We start by recognizing that we already have the capability of generating pulsed neutrino beams at Fermilab, starting from pulsed proton beams. Specifically a pulsed beam was sent over a distance of 0.66 miles at an effective bit rate of 0.1 bits/sec, and was received with a detection accuracy of 99%. If we assume an advanced civilization can do somewhat better, then we can search for “universal” strings of pulses, say, those characterizing prime numbers 1,2,3,5,7,… The other class of signals would be those specific neutrino signals associated with an advanced civilization running exclusively on fission or fusion sources all of which produce characteristic neutrino signals.

It's all well and good to propose these things, but how viable is the search in real life given the equipment and time required? The researchers note that their proposed NU-SETI system would be "a scalable array of individual sites spread over the world", each looking for the signature decay rate of specific radioactive sources; each of those sites would cost approximately $20,000 to set up, so 1000 worldwide sites would cost $20million.

While this sounds like a non-starter based on the costs alone - especially considering how difficult it has been for regular SETI to raise funds over the years - the researchers involved point out that NU-SETI might happily be funded by "sectors sensitive to the effects of solar storms such as electric power companies and the military", as the data collected could simultaneously be used to predict solar storms and thus mitigate their effects. In that case, $20million seems like a bargain (as compared to, say, losing a satellite to an unexpected solar storm).

Link: "NU-SETI: A proposal to detect extraterrestrial signals carried by neutrinos" (PDF)


News Briefs 15-02-2017

Grab some popcorn and pull up a grassy knoll - the new season of 'America' is about to get exciting....

Quote of the Day:

Life isn’t divided into genres. It’s a horrifying, romantic, tragic, comical, science-fiction cowboy detective novel. You know, with a bit of pornography if you're lucky.

Alan Moore

Life (2017): Because ET's Are Still a Big NOPE

Space: The final blockbuster frontier. By the looks of this upcoming film, it seems Hollywood hasn't given up on scaring the crap out of us with the prospect of learning we're not alone in the Universe

Life tells the story of the six-member crew of the International Space Station that is on the cutting edge of one of the most important discoveries in human history: the first evidence of extraterrestrial life on Mars. As the crew begins to conduct research, their methods end up having unintended consequences and the life form proves more intelligent than anyone ever expected.

Don't get me wrong. I love me some Ryan Reynolds as much as the next bro, and wouldn't mind laughing at his jokes about how the ISS smells like ass because of Jake Gyllenhaal's lack of hygiene. But there's just something that's really bugging me about this apparent thriller concoction that seems 1 part Alien, 2 parts Gravity, one table-spoon of Mission to Mars with a pinch of Lovecraft to add a bit of tentacled flavor.

That brew seems just too bland to swallow. Not after seeing how Hollywood is capable of serving us masterpieces like Arrival, and exploring the discussion of life outside of Earth in much more interesting ways than your typical space-based thriller. Here's what *I* would like to see for a change: A Sci-Fi story in which humanity finds extraterrestrial life and feels deeply threatened by it, but NOT because ETs want to either eat/enslave/assimilate us, but because their very nature and existence proves Mankind is irrelevant in the larger picture of the Cosmos. Think about it: If we humans and everything we can see, touch and smell all around us amounts to less than 5% of the observable universe, then that means we're basically cosmic dandruff.

What if aliens haven't made open contact with us because they would find such an idea as ludicrous as ourselves trying to establish relationships with the bacteria inhabiting our large intestine?

All I'm saying is we deserve more intelligent Sci-Fi narratives, and Life seems just like a flashy mashup of tried-out themes.

But if you're not dissuaded by my ranting --and in fact you shouldn't and make up your own mind-- then you'll be able to catch it on your nearest cineplex on March 24th.

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!