News Briefs 08-10-2015

Just put me inside a cryo-chamber and wake me up until December already!

Quote of the Day:

“You cannot depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.”

˜Mark Twain, “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court”

The Bones Go Last: Life and Work of the First Chaos Magician

The Bones Go Last is a short documentary centered around Austin Osman Spare, a British artist and devout practitioner of Occultism, whose esoteric ideas became instrumental for the development of Chaos Magick, and influenced other artist/magicians like Alan Moore and Grant Morrison.

Alas, the documentary doesn't really delve much into Spare's occultism, beyond his brief romantic involvement with The Beast himself, Aleister Crowley. Which is why I recommend you head out to Ultraculture and read Jason Louv's article where he does explore Spare's work with sigils, as well as his autumn friendship with Kenneth Grant, who is largely responsible for Spare's popularity in current esoteric circles.

A much enviable talent; though certainly not an enviable life...

News Briefs 07-10-2015

Not the end of the world. Or the end of the week.

Quote of the Day:

The world is not made of atoms. It is made of the stories we tell about atoms.

Damien Walter

CSI Turin: The Shroud's DNA


The case isn't closed yet on Christendom's most famous relic. A team of investigators from the Università di Pavia got a second crack at the Vatican's dirty laundry, opening up a whole new can of worms.

Back in 1988 an international team announced the Shroud of Turin was 600-700 years old with 95% certainty. The niggling 5% lay in science's inability to duplicate the image, and the shroud's cloth.

The original investigation's protocol called for taking several samples for dating. Luigi Gonnella, the scientific advisor to the Archdiocese of Turin, allowed only one from an outside corner. Instead of dating different sections of the artifact, ensuring the samples were representative of the whole shroud, investigators could only say that corner was from the middle ages.

The problem begins with a fire that badly burnt the relic in 1532, leaving several holes burned on the shroud. Two years later artisans filled them in with a technique called invisible mending. Most likely the tested fibers were from the artisan's repairs, rather than the original cloth. Another circumstance casting doubt on the sample was possible contamination from repeated handling throughout the centuries, skewing the radiocarbon results.

Earlier this year Gianni Barcaccia and pals got their hands on the dust vacuumed off the fibers in 1978, hoping trace the artifact's travels. Over the centuries it's picked up pollen, dust, and other particles from around the globe. Using DNA testing, they've turned up some interesting discoveries. Either the cloth's from medieval times, coming into contact from people from around the world. Or the Shroud of Turin is from the mideast, travelling around the Mediterranean, qne being exposed to different people over a longer time span suggesting it's much older than believed.

Stranger still, Barcaccia and company found data suggesting another hypothesis.

One obvious possibility is that during the course of centuries, individuals of Indian ancestry came into contact with TS. Taking into account the rate of DNA degradation and PCR-biases toward undamaged DNA, the recent contamination scenario is extremely likely. However, one alternative and intriguing possibility is that the linen cloth was weaved in India, as supported perhaps by the original name of TS - Sindon - which appears to derive from Sindia or Sindien, a fabric coming from India.

Check out the full text of Uncovering the sources of DNA found on the Turin Shroud at Nature.

The Secrets of Cetacean Communication Revealed

"They like you, but they're not the hell your whales"

In 1966 military sound engineer Frank Watlington heard something weird while recording underwater explosions.

Whale song.

Frank passed the recordings off to biologist Roger Payne. After a few listenings, he discovered these weren't random sounds but complex vocalizations by creatures possibly as smart as humans. Recordings weren't the only data Payne shared with the world, He printed out sonograms of whale song, illustrating their structure as units, phrases, and themes.

Ever since Payne's discovery of whale song's properties, humans fascination with whales has flourished. If it wasn't for his discovery, these great beasts could've become a fond memory, hunted to extinction. Fortunately whales still swim among us, singing to each other, tantalizing us with the prospect of interspecies communication.

Eerily, the sonograms resembled the sheet music for Gregorian chants. These neumes evolved into today's musical notes. Now David Rothenberg and Mike Deal have standardized whale song notation for human consumption.

Sonograms and whale song musical notes.

The top row contains individual examples of each unit. The colored glyphs below were created by tracing the “averaged” shapes that resulted from overlaying the many occurrences of the same unit across Knapp’s recording.
Because standard musical notation is, in essence, made of timelines of note symbols plotted against a vertical axis of pitch frequencies, we can match the whale sounds to their corresponding frequencies on the musical staves. Hopefully this gives the whale sound shapes a more familiar context.

This isn't humanity's first attempt to put whale song into an anthropomorphic context. Marc Fischer uses wavelets, a mathematical function used in signal processing, to visualize sound. Over at Aguasonic Acoustics, he's imaged whale and dolphin song into gorgeous mandalas like the one below. Best thing about them, they still show "rhymes" and the units of speech that excited Payne.

Humpback song mandala

Going a step further into the fringe, look at the soundwaves in the blue whale song video. If you squint, you can make out a face in parts of the sonogram. This might be a clue to the method of communication between whales. Whales use sound not only to communicate, but also to hunt and navigate with active sonar. Sonar is the use of sound waves and listening for the echo to "see" the world. Sonar's pretty sensitive, as dolphins can differentiate fish with their clicks and whistles.

But what if these vocalizations aren't language as we know it, but images or sonic holograms.

Each moan, groan, click, and whistle, adjusted for pitch, rhythm and tempo, could generate an image or animation. Instead of saying "A pod of orca killed ol' Humphrey", the witnesses would create the scene in a song. As the song propagates through pods, variation does occur.This might be evidence of whales collaborating, embellishing, or entropy akin to a game of Telephone. That's a huge leap of logic, but how could one test the hypothesis of whale song as an image?

Putting whale song back into a human context, consider each unit of whale song as a pixel. With enough pixels, an image will form, but only if one knows the correct pattern for the raster. Take the Arecibo message as an example. It's 73 rows by 23 columns, making up 1679 pixels. If earthlings didn't give those dimensions to aliens, they might screw up the image as below.

23 by 73, not 73 by 23, Zorlak!

In this case, the correct dimensions are just transposed rendering the message as gibberish. If audio engineers play with the whale song, tuning it to whale-specific frequencies, an image might emerge. In short, humans need to think like a whale rather than a human brain in a whale's body. If we are able to communicate with cetaceans, this'd be a huge step for SETI should we ever intercept their communications.

News Briefs 06-10-2015

Those days where you're just trying to have fun and the universe decides to get in the way...

Quote of the Day:

The foundations upon which history is based look increasingly suspect. Let's no longer shroud ourselves in the illusion that [mainstream] historians and archaeologists are invincible.

Graham Hancock


What's the end game of late-stage capitalism? What provisions are The Powers That Be making for the Coming Collapse; for Climate Chaos and other Catastrophes? This is the Plutocratic Exit Strategy. In this series we'll see how they plan on making their getaway, and how we can work to steal the future back.

The story so far: In the first post of this series we took a ride on the Hyperloop, and talked about the philosophies of the California Ideology and SMI2LE, then began to sketch out the ideas of the Breakaway Civilisation, the Shadow State and the Secret Space Program.

In this post we'll get up close with the Coming Collapse; examining the interrelation between Plague and Progress, both metaphorically and literally.

The language we're constructing to describe the wider view of reality we're developing in this series will increase in scope.

We'll make specific readings of some films and TV shows to illustrate some key variations of the Plutocratic Exit Strategy. By comparing and contrasting them, we'll begin to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of these plans, furthering our understanding of how they unfold (and thus how we might subvert them and steal our future back).

Just like the previous post, in the following we'll largely draw from the fictional universes of Tomorrowland and Kingsman: The Secret Service. This time we'll also dip into my previous analysis of Fortitude. Elysium gets a bit of a mention, too. As does Moonraker.


Our unofficial spokesperson for the Breakaway Civilisation, Elon Musk, will drop by again, to announce the arrival of another piece of science-fictional technology. We'll look at its incredible potential: to help the Elite flee a broken world, or let us build a more resilient civilisation. In this way we'll illustrate the differences and similarities between Infrastructure for the Apocalypse and Infrastructure for Building Through the Collapse.

Up Close With The Coming Collapse: Plague & Progress

If you've read this far, you're not allergic to spoilers. There was a high dosage of them in Part 1, after all. So as we proceed in our discussion of the Plutocratic Exit Strategy we'll increase our exposure to them to near toxic levels, as we reveal and analyse most of the key plot points of the two films that we've been using to expand the grammar we're building to describe the post-cyberpunk condition. Building up a language enabling a richer discussion of the technological transfer currently under way, that would appear to be originating fully-formed from the various mythic, science-fictional realms we've identified.

The key question that always remains is this: Who will be on the receiving end of such almost technomagical objects? And what will they build with these wonders?

As we keenly examine the narrative engines of these fictions - deconstructing their workings in detail - we'll become able to draw in other, related explorations of these issues and put them together to see both how the whole thing operates, and more crucially, where it breaks down or malfunctions.

As this series progresses we'll see that Elon Musk's ... Read More »

The Darkest Side Of The Moon


Something weird on the moon has the European Space Agency scratching its collective head. Today they released a mosaic from the 32,000 photos taken between 2004-2006 by the SMART-1 satellite mapping our largest, natural satellite.

At the center of this picture is our moon's north pole. It appears, regardless of the sun's angle during the moon's day-night cycle, these areas are in perpetual shadow.

Astronomers can use images like these to identify peaks on the north pole that are almost always lit and areas deep inside its largest craters that may never see daylight. These areas of constant shadow are of particular interest because frozen within them could be water ice and clues to the history of the Solar System.

Or... they might be filled with dark matter.

The Mother Lode of NASA Apollo HD Images Has Just Been Dumped on the Internet

It's like Xmas in October --and no, I ain't talking about my birthday-- thanks to the release of THOUSANDS of high-resolution photographs taken by NASA during the age of the Apollo missions, between 1961 and 1972.

Those images were taken by the Apollo astronauts using Hasselblad 500EL data cameras, equipped with special IMAX-like, 70mm thin-based film produced by Kodak, which is the equivalent of 12,000 lines of digital resolution --the perfect excuse to finally get that new iMac with 5k Retina display next Black Friday!

Project Apollo Archive, which contains over 8400 pics in total, is being curated by Kipp Teague, who founded it since 1999.

"Around 2004, Johnson Space Center began re-scanning the original Apollo Hasseelblad camera film magazines, and Eric Jones and I began obtaining TIFF (uncompressed, high-resolution) versions of these new scans on DVD," Teague tells The Planetary Society. "These images were processed for inclusion on our websites, including adjusting color and brightness levels, and reducing the images in size to about 1000 dpi (dots per inch) for the high-resolution versions." Because there was so much demand for higher-resolution versions, Teague decided to reprocess the entire set and upload them to Flickr magazine by magazine.

[NOTE: These are **not** the best-resolution versions available on the archive]

Teague hopes to further expand the archive to 13,000 by the end of this week --but you can start looking for the wires on the lunar landing's movie set right now!

News Briefs 05-10-2015

Before we begin, a quick heads-up to the esoteric book collectors our there. And now, the news:

Thanks @djp1974 and @mandate33.

Quote of the Day:

I believe we are a species with amnesia, I think we have forgotten our roots and our origins. I think we are quite lost in many ways. And we live in a society that invests huge amounts of money and vast quantities of energy in ensuring that we all stay lost. A society that invests in creating unconsciousness, which invests in keeping people asleep so that we are just passive consumers or products and not really asking any of the questions.

Graham Hancock