NASA Discovers a Global Ocean Lies Beneath the Icy Crust of Saturn's Moon Enceladus


Ten years ago the Cassini space probe first discovered mysterious geysers of water erupting from the polar regions of one of Saturn's moons, the ice-covered Enceladus. After much analysis, last year NASA scientists said there was evidence that this water was coming from a sub-surface ocean beneath the pole. But today, they have revised that conclusion - and now believe that there is a global ocean beneath the icy crust of the Saturnian moon.

In a paper published online this week in the journal Icarus, the researchers outline how a very slight wobble in the movement of Enceladus can only be accounted for if the outer, visible ice shell is not frozen solid to the moon's core:

Previous analysis of Cassini data suggested the presence of a lens-shaped body of water, or sea, underlying the moon's south polar region. However, gravity data collected during the spacecraft's several close passes over the south polar region lent support to the possibility the sea might be global. The new results -- derived using an independent line of evidence based on Cassini's images -- confirm this to be the case.

"This was a hard problem that required years of observations, and calculations involving a diverse collection of disciplines, but we are confident we finally got it right," said Peter Thomas, a Cassini imaging team member at Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, and lead author of the paper.

Cassini scientists analyzed more than seven years' worth of images of Enceladus taken by the spacecraft, which has been orbiting Saturn since mid-2004. They carefully mapped the positions of features on Enceladus -- mostly craters -- across hundreds of images, in order to measure changes in the moon's rotation with extreme precision.

As a result, they found Enceladus has a tiny, but measurable wobble as it orbits Saturn. Because the icy moon is not perfectly spherical -- and because it goes slightly faster and slower during different portions of its orbit around Saturn -- the giant planet subtly rocks Enceladus back and forth as it rotates.

The team plugged their measurement of the wobble, called a libration, into different models for how Enceladus might be arranged on the inside, including ones in which the moon was frozen from surface to core.

"If the surface and core were rigidly connected, the core would provide so much dead weight the wobble would be far smaller than we observe it to be," said Matthew Tiscareno, a Cassini participating scientist at the SETI Institute, Mountain View, California, and a co-author of the paper. "This proves that there must be a global layer of liquid separating the surface from the core."

Enceladus Ocean

The mystery that remains is how this ocean remains in liquid form, rather than freezing. The researchers think it's possibly due to heat from tidal forces generated by Saturn's massive presence nearby.

And the question that is posed by the discovery is: if there is a massive water ocean beneath the surface of Enceladus, could there be alien life living there, out of sight of our prying eyes?

Cassini will make a super-close flyby of Enceladus in late October, passing a mere 30 miles/50 km above the moon's surface through the icy plumes erupting from within.

Link: Cassini Finds Global Ocean in Saturn's Moon Enceladus

Return to Antikythera: Team Goes in Search of More Lost Treasures of Antiquity

In 1900 Greek sponge divers located the wreck of an ancient Greek ship near Antikythera Island, which is thought to have sunk over 2000 years ago. They salvaged a large number of treasures from the wreck, including hundreds of bronze and marble statues, and more famously, the remains of a mysterious device that has become known as the 'Antikythera Mechanism'. This advanced clockwork machine turned out be "a complex mechanical 'computer' which tracked astronomical phenomena and the cycles of the Solar System."

However, since the original salvage, very little further investigation of the wreck had been done until a new team - under the banner of 'Return to Antikythera' - resumed investigations in October 2012. The latest expedition has just begun, and you can keep up with the latest developments at the website as they are posting updates from the wreck.

What does the wreck still hold? Locals on Antikythera tell tales of giant marble statues lying beyond the sponge divers’ reach. Records from the 1901 salvage indicate at least one large marble statue was dropped during recovery operations, and there are hints that others were dragged into deeper water under the mistaken belief they were just boulders. Meanwhile, ancient technology geeks like us wonder whether the site might be hiding another Antikythera mechanism, more pieces of the original, or at least some clues as to whom this mysterious object belonged to.

For those seeking a more detailed exploration of the history and possible functions of the Antikythera Mechanism, grab a copy of Decoding the Heavens: A 2000-Year-Old Computer and the Century-long Search to Discover Its Secrets, by Jo Marchant.

Link: Return to Antikythera

News Briefs 15-09-2015

Spiral out...

Quote of the Day:

The steel mills were laying people off left and right. They finally went under. We gave the steel companies a break when they needed it. You know what they gave themselves? Raises.

They Live (1988)

From 'Paradigm Shift' to 'Paradigm? Shiiiii...'

Further proof 2015 has been a year that sucked donkey balls*, the organizers of Paradigm Symposium, the event which I've religiously attended to for the last 3 years, has been postponed and moved to either May or June of 2016. To say this is a personal disappointment for me is an understatement the size of the freaking Death Star...

2015 began with promise for the Paradigm Symposium; however, we have experienced numerous setbacks throughout the year, while still operating under full confidence that the Symposium would successfully come off as planned. It was only in the last week that we reached the final decision that moving the date and location had now become a necessity.

Over the last few months, we have experienced setbacks and budget cuts from nearly all of our sources sponsorship, along with having experienced issues coordinating our needs with the hotel venue. Again, it was while moving forward within these last weeks that it became clear that the Symposium would need to be rescheduled.

On Thursday of last week, that final decision to reorganize and move things to a future date became finalized. We felt it much more prudent and wise to make this necessary change.

Scotty Roberts and John Ward, the main organizer of Paradigm, assure attendees that all tickets purchased in 2015 will be honored for next year. That of course will be of little comfort for those who, like me, ended up with non-refundable plane tickets...

It's also still uncertain whether the current lineup of speakers will be maintained either --I was just listening to Richard Dolan's radio show on KGRA a few minutes ago, and currently he does not know whether his schedule will permit him to speak at the symposium as it was intended.

Will Paradigm be able to overcome this HUGE blow? I sure hope so. I cannot deny how incredibly rewarding and nourishing attending this eclectic event has been for me; it's not just a question of hanging out with my buds, but being around like-minded people in a rich environment where ideas can be explored, and personal high-strangeness experiences shared, without the usual fear of ridicule.

Regardless of the situations and/or decisions which led to this kerfuffle, Paradigm deserves to endure.

(*) Please God, *PLEASE* don't let 2015's bad juju jinx Episode VII, too!!

New Gods and Monsters - A New Book From Ian 'Cat' Vincent and Daily Grail Publishing To Be Released in 2016

Holy Yoda

I'm excited to announce that in 2016 we will be publishing a new book from Ian 'Cat' Vincent on the development of new, strange, myths and religions in the modern world. Darklore readers will no doubt be familiar with Cat's fascinating explorations of the modern Slenderman mythos and 'hyper-real religions' in our recent releases - but now we'll be getting a full-length book treatment from Cat - titled New Gods and Monsters - that will surely blow all of our minds.

Here's a précis of New Gods and Monsters:

“To a new world of gods and monsters!’
-Dr. Pretorius, in The Bride Of Frankenstein

Despite the predictions (and hopes) of some, the early 21st Century of the Common Era is not a time of less religion than before - 85% of the planet’s population profess to hold some religious belief. But... some of those beliefs are a long way from orthodoxy.

As a result of the rise in popular culture in the last century and the increasing speed and density of communications media to carry it, the modern world has a plethora of stories - avowed fictions among them - about religion, myth and magic to chose from. Increasingly, peoples’ beliefs are directly affected by these stories. Some believers take metaphorical comfort and confirmation of their own orthodox beliefs from them, some incorporate part of pop culture into their belief system... and some even take these fictional tales and treat them as the basis of their own new religions.

New Gods And Monsters is the story of these stories - how they began, how they became popular, the influence they can have on us and what they imply for a future seemingly ridden with religious strife.

Super excited about this, can't wait to get it into your hands next year! For a taster of the themes that Cat will be riffing on in New Gods and Monsters, see the embedded talk below on "Science Fiction's Gifts to Paganism" and the 'Sample Articles' page at the Darklore website for his essays on Slenderman and hyper-real religions.

News Briefs 14-09-2015

Nailed it....

Thanks Michelle.

Quote of the Day:

It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.


Strange Dimensions: A Paranthropology Anthology

Book Cover for Strange Dimensions

For four years the free, online journal Paranthropology has provided a wonderful clearing house of academic level thought on many aspects of the paranormal, and its effect on humans (regardless of its "reality", or otherwise). We've regularly linked to new releases here on TDG as they've become available, and it's worth noting that a new issue, Vol. 6 No. 2 is now available.

Also available right now as well is an anthology of Paranthropology articles that you can add to your bookshelf, titled Strange Dimensions, and which will help support the free journal into the future.

Here's a quick word from editor Jack Hunter:

[I am] very excited to announce the publication of Strange Dimensions: A Paranthropology Anthology, which celebrates 4 years of the Paranthropology Journal. It features 16 chapters (plus an introduction and a foreword by Joseph Laycock), covering everything from William Burroughs to Crop Circles to dowsing, via alien abductions, consciousness studies, mediumship and surfing.

If you have enjoyed the journal, or found it useful, over the last 5 years (that’s 20 issues!), please consider buying a copy of the anthology, as it is the very best way to support its continued existence. It is an excellent collection of some of the best articles from the last two years, over 400 pages of anomalous goodness!

The anthology has received warm praise from the likes of Jeffrey Kripal, who notes that the collection "takes us down the proverbial rabbit hole, here with the grace, nuance and sheer intelligence of a gifted team of essayists, each working in her or his own way toward new theories of history, consciousness, spirit, the imagination, the parapsychological, and the psychedelic." According to Kripal, Strange Dimensions is "another clear sign that there is high hope in high strangeness, and that we are entering a new era of thinking about religion, about mind, about us."

Here's an excellent summary of the contents of the book, taken directly from Jack's introduction:

In an effort to convey as broad a picture as possible of the remit of the Paranthropology journal, this anthology is split into four sections. Part 1 features a collection of ‘Ethnographies of the Anomalous,’ and the chapters within it see scholars going out into the field to investigate their subject matter as participant-observers. First, Darryl Caterine takes us on a tour of American paranormal gatherings to reveal striking, and quite unexpected, core themes connecting Spiritualists, UFO enthusiasts and dowsers. Next, Tanya Luhrmannn describes the sensation of hearing the voice of God during her fieldwork with contemporary Evangelicals in the U.S.A., followed by anthropologist John A. Napora’s vivid description of his own encounter with the deceased, and the ontological challenges such experiences present. Then, Emma Ford examines the experience of transcendence known as ‘stoke’ amongst Christian Surfers in Cornwall, England, before Loriliai Biernacki outlines some Indian perspectives on ‘the paranormal body.’

Part 2, ‘Making Sense of Spiritual Experience,’ looks at anomalous experiences from different theoretical perspectives. To begin, John W. Morehead and David J. Hufford discuss sleep paralysis and explore the notion of ‘core spiritual experiences,’ before Angela Voss takes an imaginal perspective on the paranormal, drawing on the writings of the Sufi mystic Muhyiddin Ibn’Arabi. Then, in their chapter ‘The Spectrum of Spectres,’ Michael Hirsch and colleagues present their sociological findings about the interpretation of ghostly experiences, followed by my own exploration of the ‘problem of spirits’ and some of the scholarly efforts to overcome it. Finally, Andrew Newberg outlines his perspective on the neurophysiological correlates of religious and spiritual experiences, and discusses the implications and future directions of this brand of neurotheological research.

Part 3 takes us a step further down the rabbit hole into realms of ‘High Strangeness,’ where James Riley introduces us to the writer William S. Burrough’s magical use of tape recorders and the cut-up technique in 1970s London. Then, William Rowlandson employs Carl Jung’s archetypal approach to the UFO phenomenon as a lens through which to interpret Crop Circles as a ‘psychoid manifestation.’ This is followed by Steven Mizrach’s summary of the field of alien abduction research as an introduction to John Keel’s ‘ultraterrestrial hypothesis,’ an alternative to UFOlogy’s dominant ‘nuts-and-bolts’ extraterrestrial model.

The final section explores ‘Consciousness, Psychedelics and Psi’ through Rafael Locke’s first-person science perspective on mediumship and psi, David Luke’s expansive review of the literature connecting ostensible psi phenomena with the psychedelic experience, and, finally, Bernardo Kastrup’s proposed model of the brain as a filter for non-local consciousness, in opposition to the standard materialist view of the brain as a generator of consciousness.

The diversity of subject matter and perspectives explored in this anthology do not present a coherent view of reality (or perhaps they do), and nor do they offer any definitive conclusions concerning the reality of the paranormal, one way or the other. What they do succeed in doing, however, is to conjure a spirit of open-minded critical thinking about a range of topics that have fascinated and perplexed countless generations of human beings since time immemorial. It is this open-minded approach that characterises Paranthropology and the kind of writing and thinking it seeks to promote and disseminate. I sincerely hope you enjoy reading this collection, and that it encourages you to delve deeper into this intriguing area of research.

Link: Strange Dimensions on

The Silver Screen Saucers Have Landed!

Good news everyone! Robbie Graham's long awaited book Silver Screen Saucers: Sorting Fract from Fantasy in Hollywood's UFO Movies is now available. What started out as Robbie's doctoral thesis eventually morphed and was abducted by Destiny itself --see what I did there?-- in order to become one of the most highly anticipated UFO books of this year.

More so than any other medium, cinema has shaped our expectations of potential alien life and visitation. From The Day the Earth Stood Still and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, to Battleship, Prometheus, and beyond, our hopes and fears of alien contact have been fuelled by the silver screen. But what messages does Hollywood impart to us about our possible otherworldly neighbours, from where do UFO movies draw their inspiration, and what other factors – cultural or conspiratorial – might influence their production and content? Silver Screen Saucers is a timely and revealing examination of the interplay between Hollywood’s UFO movies and the UFO phenomenon itself, from 1950 to present day.
The book grants the reader a rare, close-up examination of the DNA that builds our perceptions of the UFO mystery. One strand of this DNA weaves real events, stories, and people from the historical record of UFOlogy, while the other spins and twists with the film and TV products they have inspired. With our alien dreams and nightmares now more fully visualized onscreen than ever before, Silver Screen Saucers asks the question: what does it all mean? Are all UFO stories just fever dreams from LA screenwriters, or are they sprung from something more tangible?
From interviews with screenwriters and directors whose visions have been shaped by their lifelong UFO obsessions; to Presidents talking UFOs with Hollywood heavyweights; to CIA and Pentagon manipulation of UFO-themed productions; to movie stars and producers being stalked by real Men in Black, Silver Screen Saucers provides fresh perspective on the frequently debated but little understood subject of UFOs & Hollywood.

I've been a fan (and a friend) of Robbie for quite a while. To say I can't wait to get my greasy palms on this book is an understatement as big as an ID4 mothership.

But wait, there's more! Robbie, along with his associates Bryce Zabel (producer of the cult TV series Dark Skies) and Ben Hansen (host of Fact or Faked: Paranormal Files) are right now in the middle of developing a TV adaptation of Silver Screen Saucers, and are currently pitching the series to the networks: Here's the sizzle reel:

Here's my 2 centavos, you guys: EFF the Jurassic networks! Pitch the show directly to Amazon. They already are the biggest retailer in the WORLD, so if they were to produce and distribute SSS as a free series, they could entice costumers to purchase those UFO/ET movies they *already* carry (along with the book itself). Win-win, y'all!

Silver Screen Saucers: The perfect stocking filler for any UFO buff/Sci-Fi fanboy this Xmas*! [Amazon US & UK]

(*)Reese's Pieces, smashed potatoes and Neuralizer sold separately

News Briefs 11-09-2015

“I don't know anything, but I do know that everything is interesting if you go into it deeply enough.”

Quote of the Day:

“There are the rushing waves, mountains of molecules, each stupidly minding its own business trillions apart yet forming white surf in unison.”

R. Feynman