Carnivora Gardinum: Timelapse Video of Carnivorous Plants

Just in case you've forgotten, Earth is an alien planet. Film-maker Chris Field put over a year of effort - with 107 days of straight shooting with 2 cameras - into creating Carnivora Gardinum, a short video featuring both timelapse and real-time footage of carnivorous plants doing their thing. Wonderfully dark.

A Fortean Feast with Joshua Cutchin

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In case you haven't done so already, I encourage you to head over to Mysterious Universe and listen to their latest podcast, which features a fascinating conversation with Joshua Cutchin, a guy who's been researching an all too-neglected aspect in the annals of Forteana: The exchange of food stuffs with humanoid entities.

I first learned of Joshua through my Cosmic Compadre, Micah Hanks, who had him as a guest on The Gralien Report some time ago. Many of the things he said in that radio show resonated with my own views re. the UFO phenomenon, and from there we started to exchange e-mails and became fast friends. Joshua asked me for my opinion in his investigations on what he calls 'Entity food' and I was more than delighted to do so, mainly because I found in him a true Fortean in every sense of the word; like Micah and myself, he's not afraid of dipping his fingers into fields that are often considered to be as separate as oil and water. But as any decent chef would tell you, it is when you dare to mix the 'unmixable' that new flavors and textures are discovered --and if you doubt me, then I bet you'd never tasted a good mole.

From Joe Simonton's cardboard-tasting pancakes, to the Celtic taboos which admonished not to taste any food and drink in Fairyland, I'm sure that Grailers will find Joshua and his research a real treat.

(And in case you happen to have a good personal experience to share for his still-to-be-published book, you can contact him at foodtaboo@gmail.com)

Bon Appetit!

News Briefs 11-12-2014

Last News Briefs of 2014 for me. My, how time flies when you're having Fort!

Thanks to the whole TDG community for another stellar year. Enjoy the holidays!

Quote of the Day:

“If the fool would persist in his folly, he would become wise.”

~William Blake

Are These Amazing Underwater Structures Evidence for a Lost Civilisation?

Graham Hancock at Yonaguni

Our good friend Graham Hancock is currently 'periscope down' in writer's terms, submerged in the first stages of writing the 'sequel' to his massive bestseller Fingerprints of the Gods, currently under the working title of Magicians of the Gods. As an early piece of provocation, however, he's released the short video below showing him submerged in a different way - at strange underwater sites that some have suggested were shaped by human hands, and which were above water during the last Ice Age.

Whether they are natural or man-made, one thing is certain - these are spectacular dive sites. For those who might want to dive them one day, the locations featured in the video are: Kerama (Aka Jima), Yonaguni, Chatan and Aguni.

Natural or man-made? You decide. (Point of information. Sea level rose just over 120 metres - 400 feet - at the end of the last Ice Age. All the structures seen here would have been above water until about 12,000 years ago).

You can learn more about Graham's work at his website, and I also suggest liking his Facebook page and/or following him on Twitter.

News Briefs 09-12-2014

Short and sweet so that I can sleep!

Quote of the Day:

To have faith is to trust yourself to the water. When you swim you don't grab hold of the water, because if you do you will sink and drown. Instead you relax, and float.

Alan Watts

Evidence Mounts for Early Greek Celestial Expertise

 

Greek wine cup or star chart?

It is often rightly said that the birthplace of science is ancient Greece.  Our best and brightest minds today are said to be standing on the shoulders of giants.  That’s usually a nod to the humbled genius of Sir Isaac Newton who uttered something similar in a letter to Robert Hooke in 1676.  Though we all know Newton was not of the humble sort.

That famous phrase, which now adorns the cover of Stephen Hawking’s anthology of classical science papers, is correctly attributed to Bernard of Chartres, a French philosopher and genius in his own right:

“We are like dwarves perched on the shoulders of giants, and thus we are able to see more and farther than the latter. And this is not at all because of the acuteness of our sight or the stature of our body, but because we are carried aloft and elevated by the magnitude of the giants.”

One can certainly see why this sentiment has been adopted by those wishing to give credit (or some credit) to their predecessors.  And when it comes to the knowledge we have in the realm of science, it cannot be denied that much of it is due to the incredible insights of the classical Greek Masters.  Those masters, it seems, actually worked out more about the world in which we live, than most are currently aware.

There’s a cup, currently on display at the Lamia Archaeological Museum in Greece.  It’s not an ordinary cup by modern standards, but it wasn’t really thought to be all that special either.  It’s just an ancient, two-handled wine cup with stylized animals artfully dancing around its surface.  Of course, it has historic value, it is roughly 2,600 years old after all, but there are better examples of Greek pottery on display in that same museum.

This thinking has just taken a drastic detour though…

This cup, the style of which is known as a skyphos, is currently being studied with great interest, as a possible origin, or at least one of the first known stellar calendars.  Up until recently, this particular cup was thought to depict simple, random animals frolicking around the rim, but new analysis by John Barnes, a classical archaeology doctoral candidate at the University of Missouri, suggests that it may in fact be much more than that.

Barnes recently spoke with Live Science magazine and offered an enticing look at his research.  He says that the animals seen on this cup are actually fairly accurate depictions of constellations, showing a progression over the period of perhaps an entire year.  According to Barnes, it’s unlikely to be an actual star chart or celestial calendar, and is probably more of an attempt to represent time in a more general way, using constellations as the foundation.

This is perhaps not immediately as impressive to you as it is to others, since we’ve long thought the Greeks famous for their celestial knowledge base, and in fact most of today’s known constellations were named in the classical Greek period.  If correct in his conclusions, which have been published in the science journal Hesperia[1], Barnes claims that the impact would be revolutionary, simply because it may mean that many other examples of pottery and Greek art that have previously been thought to have only random or simple stylizations, are in fact examples of the earliest star charts in the history of mankind.

"If we go back and re-evaluate other animal scenes that might have been originally categorized as hunting scenes or animal friezes, then maybe we can find more [depictions of constellations] and get a greater understanding of how the ancient Greeks viewed the night sky," Barnes told Live Science.

Antykithera Mechanism

This is an incredible insight, but in light of other recent realisations about Ancient Greek artefacts, it brings an even larger issue further into focus.

A study recently conducted by researchers from the National University of Quilmes (Argentina), has caused quite a stir in the archaeological, historical, and fringe science circles.  This study focuses on the origin and construction of the famed Antykithera Mechanism[2].

Called, by some, the first computer in existence, the Antykithera Mechanism is an enigma.  First found in an ocean wreck off the coast of the small island of Antykithera (hence the name), it sat unexamined in a drawer in the same museum in which the above skyphos is on display.  No one had any idea how important this strange artefact is to our understanding of history.

Once it was rediscovered – so to speak – and analysis began, researchers found that it is in fact a highly complex machine, with gears and dials and delicate inscriptions that seem to match up with star alignments.  This led everyone (or nearly everyone) to believe that it’s an ancient sextant or star map.  The problem is that it’s been dated, through radiometric decay measurements, to have originated around 100-150 BCE.  That, in and of itself, was a problem, as it was believed that no one of that era could have conceived of, much less built such a device.

The idea that it had some purpose related to using the stars for navigation at sea, has slowly come to be accepted as fact, or as close to fact as we can get.  Until, that is, this new research threw all the accepted knowledge out the window.

The Argentinian researchers have been scouring the device for clues as to its origin and age, and they struck upon an incredible bit of information.  It seems that a dial on the back of the artefact contains an inscription that clearly corresponds to a solar eclipse that we know happened on May 12, 205 BCE, easily 100 years earlier than previously thought possible.  That alone tells us that whoever made it had not only the technical skill to create something so mechanically advanced that nothing like it was seen for at least another 500-1000 years, but they also had celestial knowledge that is far more advanced than anything known in the the entirety of Greek antiquity.

Unless, of course, we consider John Barnes ideas about the skyphos.  When we do that, it seems plausible that what we think we know about Greek celestial knowledge amounts to jack…well you know.

These findings, both of which are still under a great deal of scrutiny, could ultimately lead to a complete reorganising of our understanding of not only what the Greeks knew, but when they knew it and what they did with it.

Exciting things are on the horizon.

 

[1] Barnes, John T. Asteras Eipein: An Archaic View of the Constellations from Halai.  Hesperia (2014), Volume 83, Issue 2.  Page(s): 257-276 http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.2972/hesperia.83.2.0257

[2] Carman, Christián C.; Evans, James. On the epoch of the Antikythera mechanism and its eclipse predictor. Archive for History of Exact Sciences November 2014, Volume 68, Issue 6, pp 693-774 http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00407-014-0145-5

News Briefs 08-12-2014

Have you had your passport stamped?

Thanks David.

Quote of the Day:

We cannot be sure that we study something real, because we do not know what reality is; we can only be sure that our study will help us understand more, far more, about ourselves.

Jacques Vallee, Passport to Magonia

Everyday Magical Tattoos

Dylan Carson Left HandDylan Carlson Left Hand

According to an online survey conducted in 2010, 20% of British adults had at least one tattoo. [1] The statistic crops up again and again if you're reading tattoo related articles online, but has been upped ever so slightly in more recent pieces to “more than 20%”, just to be on the safe side. A corresponding 2013 survey of US adults found that 14% had at least one tattoo. [2] So, taking into account the fact that I failed maths GCSE twice, I think that means that between Brits and Americans, roughly one in six people who are of legal age to get one has a tattoo. That seems like a pretty believable statistic to me. In 2014 tattoos are normal, passé even. Right?

I got my first tattoo when I was nineteen years old: a 2p coin sized yellow smiley with horns, surrounded by red flames (my children now refer to it as “Mr. Happy, on fire”). Seventeen years later I have again opted to have ink inserted via needle into the layer of dermal tissue underlying my epidermis. This time however, I thought things through rather more carefully. Because this time my tattoo is magical.

One of the most ubiquitous kinds of tattoo I see on a daily basis here in Liverpool – on the street, at the shops, at the school gates, in the pub – are those of names and/or dates. While there are of course exceptions, the majority of these name/date tattoos are in commemoration of births and/or deaths. Commonplace as they may be, these inscriptions are a perfect example of everyday magical thinking.

Choosing to have these characters etched permanently into your flesh is not rational. The name/date might be rendered in an aesthetically pleasing way but simply looking good is not the reason for having a name/date tattoo. The sentiment behind the commemoration may be summed up as “I will never forget”, but there is more to it than that. The promise of never forgetting is one the individual has made to the world at large, but more than that it is made to a realm beyond our own. A promise made to the place we speak to when we ask an empty room where the hell our keys are, or why we drank so much last night; the region we wish and we hope into. This is the domain of the omniscient, omnipresent other; the elusive Higher Self whose wisdom we all appeal to, regardless of spiritual beliefs (or lack thereof). Most importantly of all then, the fallible everyday you makes the oath to the inerrant all-knowing you. “I will never forget, and somehow, in some way, I will be better for it”. Those who see the name/date tattoos might not realise it (indeed some who have them might not even know it) but those indelibly embedded characters are literally magical.

There is some confusion as to what magic actually is. I think this can be cleared up if you just look at the very earliest descriptions of magic. Magic in its earliest form is often referred to as 'the art'. I believe this is completely literal. I believe that magic is art, and that art – whether that be music, writing, sculpture, or any other form – is literally magic. Art is, like magic, the science of manipulating symbols, words or images, to achieve changes in consciousness [...] to cast a spell is simply to spell; to manipulate words, to change people's consciousness. This is why I believe that an artist or writer is the closest thing in the contemporary world to a shaman. [3]

I'm not usually one for quoting my father-in-law in my writing but, honestly, I'd be hard pushed to find a better, clearer explanation of magic than the one Alan Moore gave a decade or so ago in an interview with Dez Vylenz. Tattoos are an art-form, tattooists artists, and the tattooed person is ... Read More »

Jacques Vallee's Classic UFO Book 'Passport to Magonia' is Finally Back in Print

Passport to Magonia

One of the most influential and famous books on the UFO phenomenon, Jacques Vallee's Passport to Magonia: From Folklore to Flying Saucers, has long been out of print. Most true Forteans would know this because, like me, if they've wanted a copy in the internet age they've probably had to fork out exorbitant sums for a second-hand copy.

Well, if you've been holding off getting a copy of this must-have book for any serious UFO buff, I've got good news! Today, Daily Grail Publishing has released a reprint of this classic book - both in paperback and hardcover. You can find it at most online bookstores, but I've added handy links to Amazon below if you want to get an early start on your Xmas shopping:

The book has not been revised at all - we decided that the book should be released 'as is' (apart from the addition of a new Foreword from Jacques), as the seminal historic work in ufology that it was (and still is). For anyone wanting more up-to-date commentary about the topic, be sure to grab Jacques' books Dimensions and Wonders in the Sky.

For a number of years, since publishing Messengers of Deception, I've had many, many readers asking me to convince Jacques to republish Passport to Magonia. I'm excited and proud to bring that to you today.

And for those that will no doubt ask: the gorgeous cover image is by Chris 'Isoban' Butler.