Boing Boing's Mark Frauenfelder did some liveblogging from TED last week, keeping readers up to date with speakers and what they were saying. I was surprised to see that one presenter was none other than Paul Stamets, who spoke on how mushrooms can help the world. Stamets is a legend in the world of mycology - and also with the 'underground' due to his classic work Psilocybin Mushrooms of the World (an identification guide to 'magic mushrooms'). Mark points out a Salon article by Stamets which gives some idea of what he talked about. I'm just hoping he handed out some 'educational' packs to the stuffier TED attendees...
I hope you all had a terrific weekend.
- Say hello to the Pentagon's Active Denial System, a weapon that shoots a 100'000 watt beam of invisible radio waves which stops a person in their tracks.
- Physicists have developed a way to turn heat into sound to make electricity.
- Australian government hopes to close a loophole in International Whaling Commission rules that allows Japan to slaughter whales for scientific research.
- Breakthroughs in stealth technology brings warships closer to invisibility. It's the Philadelphia Experiment meets Star Trek.
- Another chilling article on the mysterious deaths of 9 Russian skiers in 1959.
- Here's footage of the new X-Files film, smuggled from Wondercon last month. Billy Connolly's presence means the monster will be box jellyfish (skip 6 mins in).
- An interview with our favourite hairy expert, Loren Coleman.
- Bad news for Katya: Italians are among the most spied upon people in Europe.
- French aviation expert reveals secret UN meetings discussing UFO disclosure. I wasn't invited; they don't even send me a birthday card anymore.
- Veteran peace officer who served on protective detail for five Texas governors is the latest Stephenville UFO witness to go on public record.
- The origins and composition of meteorite that hit Peru remain a mystery.
- Anonymous source claims to have pictures of Nibiru. What do you think?
- For evidence of a lost twin to our sun that is more trustworthy, Lost Star of Myth and Time by Walter Cruttenden is a must-read (Amazon US or UK).
- Japanese scientists have evidence of another planet up to two-thirds the size of Earth in the far reaches of the solar system.
- A wobble in Alpha Centauri could reveal an Earth-like planet.
- Mysteries of Venus explained by collision and merging of protoplanetary bodies.
- New research discounts a 2006 report that liquid water has flowed on Mars in the past decade.
- Scientists say satellite images reveal the Maya caused their own demise through self-induced climate change.
- German treasure hunters have stopped digging for Russia's Amber Room gold, pillaged by the Nazis in WWII, due to arguments over how to proceed.
- Survey finds some Harry Potter fans show signs of addiction and withdrawal after finishing the final novel. This explains why Kat couldn't do the news today.
Quote of the Day:
“There are many examples of old, incorrect theories that stubbornly persisted, sustained only by the prestige of foolish but well-connected scientists. Many of these theories have been killed off only when some decisive experiment exposed their incorrectness.”
A few things to keep you busy over the weekend...
- Michael Prescott gets a rise out of ectoplasm on his blog.
- At UFO Mystic, Nick Redfern celebrates Tunguska's 100th birthday (a little early).
- The latest Skeptico podcast looks at dog intelligence and the 'animal telepathy' experiments of Rupert Sheldrake.
- Michael Tymn posthumously "interviews" evolutionary pioneer Alfred Russel Wallace - a firm believer in evidence for the afterlife.
- At Rense.com, Brad Steiger tells the tale of the "Farm Boy Who Built An
Empire By Listening To His Spirit Teachers."
- Curious Expeditions opens "The Kunst- und Wunderkammer of Wolf Dietrich."
- The latest eSkeptic newsletter features "Consciousness is Nothing but a Word", an essay by Henry D. Schlinger.
- Anthony North discusses "Our Friends From Outer Space" at Beyond the Blog.
- Filer's Files #9 for 2008 has the latest ufological round-up.
James 'The Amazing' Randi has seen fit to respond to my article "The Myth of the Million Dollar Challenge" in his latest newsletter. Apparently, I am a "grubby", who has published a "19,000 word tirade"! I've added a postscript to the essay, noting Randi's response, and correcting some errors (most importantly, he constantly refers and responds to Loyd Auerbach as the author of the article, which even a superficial read would show not to be the case). In happier news, the article seems to have prompted Randi to lower the odds of the Challenge to make it more inviting - so kudos to him for taking some of the criticism on board in the way it was intended.
One final note: I do think it bears pointing out (as I did in the comments section), that I did ask for comment from the JREF when writing the article. I emailed the JREF on the 4th of February about the article, asking for input. I followed up on the 7th. I received a minor contact from them on the 14th, which was actually my original 'deadline' that I had set for publishing the article. I therefore told them that I was extending the deadline to allow time for their input. On the 22nd, after receiving no response, I emailed them to say that I was posting the article, but that I would be more than happy to add a postscript to the article if they had comments to add. Randi's article appeared today, the 29th. Personally, I would prefer a more constructive dialogue, rather than shouting across the room...but I can only imagine the latter suits Randi better.
In late January, Robert Schoch - formerly known for his geological investigations into the age of the Great Sphinx, the underwater Yonaguni 'monument', and the alleged Bosnian Pyramids - released a book on a completely different tack to his previous work: parapsychology. As editor of an anthology titled The Parapsychology Revolution (Amazon US, or preorder from Amazon UK), he assembled some of the most fascinating scientific essays on psi phenomena into one handy book. I spoke to Robert last week about the new book, and the reasons for his move into (yet another) controversial topic:
TDG: Thanks for talking with us Robert. Firstly, can I ask: what inspired the change from books about ancient pyramid cultures, to this new book about parapsychology?
RS: I view my interest in parapsychology as a logical extension of my work on ancient cultures, and furthermore I personally have a long history of interest in the paranormal. Let me elaborate.
Discovery News is covering a new theory about the Giza plateau, put forward by Italian mathematics professor Giulio Magli, which suggests that Khufu planned and built two pyramids at Giza - the Great Pyramid, and the second pyramid commonly attributed to Khafre. According to Magli...
...astronomical alignments and the landscape indicate that the two main pyramids, those identified with the tombs of Khufu and Khafre, were not built in different stages. On the contrary, they were planned as a single, grand project.
"Khufu was the mind behind the project. He conceived both pyramids to have strong symbolic meaning. He wanted to state forever that his soul had joined the sun god," Magli told Discovery News.
The study, which has been published on the Cornell University physics Web site arXiv, suggests that Khufu planned the construction of two pyramids, exactly as his father, Snefru, did in Dahshur. Only later did Khafre claim for himself the slightly smaller pyramid.
It's interesting to note that Magli is a friend of 'Orion Correlation' theorist Robert Bauval. However, TDG admin Rick asked Robert about this news on Graham Hancock's message board, and Bauval pointed out some problems that he sees with it.
For those that wanted to listen to ufological legend Jacques Vallee on Coast to Coast AM two weeks ago, but don't have a Streamlink subscription, you can find that audio right here, streaming via a flash player. The C2C audio is split up into the four hours of the show (sans advertisements and interruptions), though Vallee was only on for the first two hours. It's a good, measured discussion on ufology and its various subtopics, so well worth a listen.
Happy birthday to Dr Dean Radin, who turns 14 today...
- Live in the UK? Got a special bond with a few other people? Why not register for a telephone telepathy experiment with the Anomalistic Psychology Research Unit (APRU) at Goldsmiths, University of London.
- The secret origins of Scientology.
- Telekinetics: the next big comm technology?
- Bigfoot at Berkeley stimulates debate on scientific heresy.
- James Oberg takes on five myths about last week's satellite smash-up.
- Do living organisms help form rain and snow?
- Famed geneticist creating life form that turns CO2 into fuel.
- Comedian Robin Williams saves the day at TED.
- Meteorites spark mysteries.
- Venus mysteries blamed on colossal collision between two separate protoplanetary bodies.
- Living on Mars, on Earth. Can you get pizza delivered on Mars?
- Messenger probe shows hundred mile cliffs on Mercury.
- Medicated America. Also: the Prozac myth.
- The cost of war? Three trillion dollars (and not a few human lives). For that kind of money, I could work full-time on the Daily Grail for...let me do my sums here...20 million years or so. I think the latter option would have been better for humanity...
- New book shows symbols from a secret world.
- Oldest hominind discovered is 7 million years old. Kind of puts my grandmother in the shade, at a sprightly 102.
- Saving long-gone tribal languages.
- Indecipherable ancient books found in China. Most books in China are indecipherable to me...
- Evidence of prehistoric civilisation near Lake Titicaca discovered by 'armchair archaeologist'? As always with unconfirmed claims, caveat lector.
- Did Mary Poppins lie to us (video)? Heated reaction ensues.
- I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that Richard Dawkins is getting paid mucho money for his next book - could this be it?!
- And one more worthwhile image: the USAF Visual Aid to Debunking. Funny stuff.
Thanks Rick and Kat.
Quote of the Day:
Very few things happen at the right time,and the rest do not happen at all. A conscientious historian will correct these defects.
The website of the San Francisco Chronicle have published a Q&A with parapsychology researcher Dean Radin (coincidentally, it's his birthday today). The conversation covers everything from psi and skeptics, to God and 'intentional chocolate'. In the middle of the interview, there is some interesting discussion about Radin's involvement in the classified Stargate remote viewing program:
Once I went through all of the months and months of background reviews and so on to get the classification, I finally got the briefing that is given to the military officers and intelligence officers with the right clearance, and when you get to the end of that briefing the idea that there is no evidence is so ludicrous that you want to somehow let everybody know this. It is amazing! There are some people who are extremely good, highly reliable remote viewers. And not simply in terms of experimental studies, but in real world applications, typically intelligence-backed applications. There are dozens and dozens of government agencies that were actively using these people, and there are dozens of examples of amazing gifts. The psychics were able to describe things that turned out to be not only true, but pragmatically useful.
Issue 4 of the oh-so-cool magazine Steampunk is now available from the official website as a free PDF download (you can also purchase a hardcopy for $3). Mad science, retro-sci fi coolness, illustrated with some great artwork - it's a very cool zine. All previous issues are also available on the website, in various size formats to make printing easy.