News Briefs 15-05-2007

I just found out, new power adapters for four-year-old monitors can be hard to come by.

  • An almost perfect 29m-year-old fossilised skull from one of humankind's earliest ancestors has been unearthed in Egypt.
  • From the 'news you couldn't make up' department: To keep back-from-the-dead ectoplasmic soldiers from giving away D-Day secrets, British intelligence agents, including Ian Fleming, creator of James Bond, jailed a famous spiritualist for contravening the Witchcraft Act of 1735.
  • Digital tricks preserve thousands of dinosaur tracks.
  • Will an impending magnetic pole reversal spell danger for the Earth? An article from The Economist no less.
  • ESA's Cluster was in the right place and time to make a shocking discovery. The four spacecraft encountered a shock wave that kept breaking and reforming – predicted only in theory.
  • Mexican sinkhole may lead NASA to Jupiter.
  • Changes in deep ocean circulation triggered the two enormous 'burps' of carbon dioxide released from the depths of the ocean around Antarctica at the end of the last Ice Age.
  • 'My stroke left with me a foreign accent'.
  • Pwnage news: Google has drawn up plans to compile psychological profiles of millions of web users by covertly monitoring the way they play online games.
  • Google study finds one in 10 web pages searched contains malicious code. No surprise to most of us.
  • Spreading viruses as we breathe.
  • Researcher says some children demonstrate unusual abilities after UFO and Extraterrestrial Encounters.
  • Robbie Williams talks to dead people.
  • Mike Oldfield talks about his slow, painful recovery from the mental health problems that underlay his 40-year musical career - and about his autobiography, Changeling.
  • Depleted uranium weapons linked to lung cancer in new study.
  • Human enhancement: right or wrong?
  • Doom creator John Carmack's Armadillo Aerospace is on track to win the 2007 Lunar Lander Challenge (with video link to test flight).
  • Almost 30 years ago, NASA sent a gold record to the aliens. More pertinently though, were some of the strange images within due to Carl Sagan's predilection for a toke or three?

Thanks, Greg.

Quote of the Day:

Towering genius disdains a beaten path. It seeks regions hitherto unexplored.

Abraham Lincoln

2007 SSE Conference

This year's meeting of the Society for Scientific Exploration will be held May 31 to June 2 at Michigan State University. The theme of the event is "Pushing Scientific Boundaries: Interactions, Intersections, Interventions", and speakers include Robert Jahn, Brenda Dunne and Dale Graff. Topics covered range from global consciousness, to bioenergy, UFO research, and psi abilities. Check out the conference schedule (PDF file) for a complete rundown of speakers, and the abstracts of their talks.

Tuesday Roundup 15-05-2007

A strange assortment to get you through the week...


Radio 15-05-2007

Here's the alternative radio schedule for the first half of the week.

Fate Radio: This week's encore presentation features Hilly Rose's one hour interview with one of the world's foremost crop circle experts, Mr. Colin Andrews (Real Audio or mp3).

Coast to Coast AM: First half-hour Monday Jerome Corsi and Hossein Hedjazi will comment on Iran, followed by Charlie Carlson discussing paranormal and strange events in Florida. On Tuesday historical scholar Bro. Hakim Bey will discuss his work on the real history of North America - how it was populated by vast global civilizations and connected to Mu/Lemuria, and Atlantis. Wednesday's guest is Robert Bruce, an Australian who has actively explored metaphysical, paranormal and spiritual phenomena for the past 30 years. Thursday should be fun, with futurist and author Dr. Cliff Pickover discussing his new novel, The Heaven Virus, which explores spiritual technologies for the 22nd century, virtual universes, and immortality.

More details including relevant guest links are available at the C2C website.

News Briefs 14-05-2007

Ramen noodles, food of the Gods.

Thanks Greg.

Quote of the Day:

"According to World Bank estimates, $54 billion a year would eliminate
starvation and malnutrition globally by 2015, while $30 billion would
provide a year of primary education for every child on earth. At the
upper range of those estimates, the $456 billion cost of the war could
have fed and educated the world's poor for five and a half years."

Uri and YouTube

'Spoon-bender' Uri Geller has found himself at the center of an Internet controversy, after contacting YouTube to take down a clip - featuring James 'The Amazing' Randi debunking his 'powers' - which he says infringes his copyright by including footage which belongs to him. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is backing the YouTube poster of the video ('Brian Sapient', a pseudonym used by a member of the debunking group Rational Response Squad), and has filed a lawsuit against Geller for misuse of the DMCA (Digital Management Copyright Act), asking for payment of damages and a judgement on the copyright status of the video, due to the fact that Geller is not the copyright holder on the complete video, only one small part.

With most stories circulating on the Internet referring to the clip as being 3 seconds long (based on the EFF lawsuit filing), Geller's lawyers have issued a press release in which they claim the clip is actually ten seconds long - which could be an important difference, in terms of copyright coverage of 'fair use' (interestingly, some stories have now changed their coverage to 'more like 5 or 6 seconds', but it is obviously 9 or 10 seconds if you watch the clip).

No matter what the outcome though, the result is a PR victory for skeptics such as Randi and the RRS. The publicity from the controversy has ensured even more people have seen the clip, and Geller comes across as a bully (and Randi portrays him as a fraud to boot). On the other hand, the EFF filing (and news stories across the web) stating that the offending clip was only 3 seconds in length (presumably the EFF took the word of Sapient?) is patently incorrect, and one can only wonder how a court will react to that issue - but which just goes to show more than anything, you should be skeptical of *everyone*, not just those claiming paranormal powers.

Weekend Roundup 11-05-2007

A few things to keep you busy over the weekend...


News Briefs 11-05-2007

Data, damn data...

Quote of the Day:

I am a pioneer of a new kind of writing that instead of heroes and villains will have floods and bugs and stars and earthquakes for its characters and motifs.

Charles Fort

Wiseman's Quirkology

'Parapsychologist' and CSICOP fellow Professor Richard Wiseman is currently getting a blast of publicity for his new book Quirkology (playing on the Freakonomics vibe), with feature articles in New Scientist, The Guardian, The Times and a number of other publications:

For over twenty years, psychologist Prof Richard Wiseman has examined the quirky science of everyday life. He has spent nights in allegedly haunted houses, conducted clandestine experiments in over 30 countries, and dressed up in a giant chicken suit. Here, he describes his adventures into the backwaters of human behaviour, and pays tribute to others who have carried out similarly weird and wonderful work. Presenting a fresh look at the fascinating phenomenon that is your life, this is the definitive guide to what happens when scientists misbehave.

Part of the publicity for Quirkology involves some YouTube videos giving fun illustrations of human psychology - one in particular, the Colour Changing Card Trick, is going great guns on YouTube (and deservedly so) with at least 70,000 views just today, and about half a million all up since being posted, as I write.

The amount of publicity isn't all that surprising though, as Professor Wiseman has a long history of getting his name in the news - among CSICOPian skeptics, he virtually has no peer (maybe Michael Shermer could challenge) - and that's saying something, with that organisation's thirst for publicity. The Skeptical Investigations profile for Professor Wiseman describes him as "Britain’s most ambitious and ubiquitous media skeptic [who] has appeared in hundreds of TV and radio programmes." He also has a long history of controversial research and debunkings into parapsychological research, as the SI profile shows.

Quirkology is available from Amazon UK at the moment, publication in the US is set for September.

Radio 11-05-2007

Here's the rundown on the radio schedules for the second half of the week:

Whitley Strieber's Dreamland: This week William Henry talks to Andrew Collins about his work on the Cygnus Mystery. Afterwards, Linda Howe talks to Prof. Lonnie Thompson of the Byrd Polar Research Institute about just how sudden and extreme climate change can be.

Coast to Coast AM: Friday is open lines, with Ian Punnett standing in for George Noory. Early show Saturday Trevor Marriott, a former British police murder squad Detective, joins Ian for a discussion about the Jack the Ripper case. Later, Art Bell chats with Evelyn Paglini and Richard Hoagland. On Sunday theoretical meteorologist Richard Summerville will discuss the implications of adding more and more carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.

More details including relevant websites are available at the linked pages above. Remember also that while Coast to Coast is subscription, Dreamland is free. Dreamland also now offers a podcast of the most recent show.