News Briefs 05-05-2004

We've had Phatarhs as a candidate name for a moon discovered orbitting Uranus. Didn't make it past go, though. I would certainly favour Phuket as the name of any new planet that gets discovered. Better than Sedna, and more in keeping with how astronomers really feel about having to name newly discovered bodies in this endless cosmos in which we live. Post your thoughts.

  • Cometary panspermia explains the Kerala red rains. You'll need Adobe Acrobat Reader.
  • That natural smile could be just a few years away.
  • Scientists announce cosmic rays breakthrough.
  • The birds are singing in outer space.
  • The science behind climate change forecasts adds up to a lot of hot air.
  • Weather changes may effect stroke.
  • The mystery of mind control.
  • Fortune telling Bangkok septuagenarian has supernatural breasts that produce milk able to ward off black magic. She invites people to suck'em and see. The Phuket Gazette? Is that a joke or is it named by a bunch of very unhappy journalists?
  • Chinese were the world's first modern astronomers.
  • Ancient maps of the world.
  • Flourescent fish spark GM row.
  • AIDS theory renegade returns with challenging cancer theory.
  • The promise of artificial photosynthesis.
  • This time it's real: an antimissile system takes shape.
  • Mammals have multiple timers. Any of them fit any planetary motion in the solar system?
  • Flying saucer franchise.
  • Ancient cave in Central Iran dated to 15 Millennia B.C.
  • The myth of the beginning of time.
  • Breaking the chains of illusion. Part I. Part II.
  • Physics meets archaeometry in ancient Greece.
  • I believe that intelligent life must exist somewhere in the vast universe of stars and galaxies. Is he including or excluding Earth. I suppose there's a case for the latter.
  • Today's conspiracy, tomorrow's truth.
  • 18 year-old has severe reaction to prescription drug.

Quote of the Day:

With most people unbelief in one thing is founded upon blind belief in another.

Georg Cristoph Lichtenberg

Techgnosis Tripping

I was surprised and delighted to read in this week's edition of the LA Weekly an article on the entheogenic library The Vaults of Erowid. I've mentioned this marvellous resource for modern neo-shamans before on TDG, but this article gives a peek behind the scenes at the philosophy and work being put in behind the scenes.

If that wasn't enough, the article was written by a great writer, Erik Davis - author of TECHGNOSIS: Myth, Magic and Mysticism in the Age of Information (see Amazon US and UK). Davis is a regular writer on the blend between spiritual thought and modern technology - for a (large) sample of his writings, check out his website "Figments and Inklings". I think there's a couple of years worth of reading in all those links...

News Briefs 04-05-2004

There's no place like home...

  • Venus: the planet which is the cause of all those kooky UFO stories. Personally, Venus has never given me an anal probe, but I can only speak for myself.
  • Hubble captures a big bug. Damn critter's Nebula-sized.
  • At the other end of the scale, 'real' bugs on Venus might hide from the Sun's radiation by using an umbrella made of of a molecular rings of sulphur. That's a smelly umbrella...
  • Astrobiology Magazine talks to Colin Pillinger, head of the ill-fated Beagle 2 mission.
  • Nothing like a Noah's Ark story to get the media excited.
  • Swedish government watchdog queries regional council as to why they put a lake monster on Sweden's endangered species list.
  • Educate yourself about the oddities of the full Moon.
  • NASA releases status report on shuttle return - within the year, they say.
  • Brain-watching helps suppress pain. Cool little story about biofeedback.
  • Spinach pigment proposed as radical cure for some forms of blindness. Gives a whole new meaning to Popeye doesn't it.
  • NASA uses the public to monitor contrails...for climate reasons of course.
  • The Iranian UFOs - here's the evidence (pics and video). Let's hope it doesn't go to court on that.
  • US customs returns $1million worth of smuggled artifacts to Peru.
  • UK government's chief scientist says Antarctica is likely to be the world's only habitable continent by the end of this century if global warming remains unchecked. Might get awful cramped down there, with the penguins and all...
  • Israeli scientists create a computer made of DNA that identified lung- and prostate-cancer cells and combatted them with a molecule based on an anti-cancer drug. Wonder what DARPA is doing with this sort of technology...
  • ISS astronauts safely back on Earth, although with a bit extra weight on their shoulders.
  • The sky at night. As seen from China some 1,300 years ago.
  • Push for anti-nerve agent drug. Methinks that might be a good idea.
  • Toutatis, the strange looking city-sized asteroid - planet killer, or just a cosmic peanut?
  • Indie band release their album exclusively as ring-tones. It's an audiophiles nightmare.

Quote of the Day:



When the Paris Exhibition closes, electric light will close with it and no more be heard of.

Professor Erasmus Wilson (1878)

Skeptical Inquirer 28:2

A number of sample articles are available online for the March/April issue of Skeptical Inquirer for those interested. Included is a review of the CSICOP conference "Hoaxes, Myths and Manias" as well as articles on our 'cultural indoctrination' into a belief in supernatural phenomena, why religion is natural and an investigation into claims of stigmata. Plenty of reading to keep your mind ticking over.

News Briefs 03-05-2004

Ah, nice to be back, and some cool new features like user blogs and automated news feeds to boot. Should be fun to follow this fresh new version of TDG...


Quote of the Day:



The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed.

Albert Einstein

Skeptical Investigations

I've just been pointed towards an excellent website concerning 'skepticism', and the debate over who the 'skeptics' really are. Skeptical Investigations features informative dossiers on so-called 'media skeptics', as well as some of the researchers that they attack.

Add to this a brilliant list of articles on more specific topics, all to do with the true spirit of scientific enquiry and on employing an honest system of skepticism, and you've got a handy resource and a heck of a lot of reading to boot. I'll be spending a good portion of this week there, that's for sure - so check it out yourself. Thanks Joanne for the tip!

A New Beginning

Hello all and welcome back to TDG - The Daily Grail. Or perhaps that should be welcome to DUAT! What's going on you might ask? I would answer a heck of a lot, so if you'd like to read on I'll try and fill you all in on what is happening in the TDG world. What follows should be a good introduction to the new setup here at TDG, so please do fill your coffee cup and read on...

For Returning TDG Users...

Hi and welcome back to all former TDG users! Things have certainly changed a little, as I explain in my first blog for the new TDG-DUAT combination. I'd like to thank you all for sticking by TDG as we've tried different things, this is a real community we have and it's good to see so many back here.

To help out, TDG uber-geek David has hacked away at the old database tables and has made all the old member usernames available for those with the associated email address. Unfortunately, re-establishing passwords was beyond us (because they're secret obviously!), so if you would like your old handle back, simply request a new password and it will be sent out to you at the email address we have in our database (the login box in the left hand block has a 'request password' function, please use that rather than emailing us).

If you've changed email address in the meantime or have any other problems, feel free to register under a new username of your choosing. However, if you really need that old username back, then email me and I'll do my best to reunite the two of you.

News Briefs 30-04-2004

It's Friday. Let's begin with this.........

  • An Iranian archaeologist says that recent discoveries show that the Jiroft civilization predated Sumer.
  • Archaeologists in Israel may have unearthed the oldest evidence of fire use by our ancestors.
  • A massive gamma-ray burst could have helped destroy much of life on Earth 440 million years ago.
  • The University of Chicago is returning 300, 2500-year old clay tablets to Iran.
  • A 1539 map that depicts sea monsters off the coast of Scotland, sinking galleons, sea snakes, and wolves urinating against trees, but the sea and land mass have an amazing resemblance to the latest satellite images.
  • Was there a Trojan War?
  • A Hawaiian arrow was carved from the bone of 18th-Century British explorer Captain James Cook. Great story, but DNA-testing says no.
  • A Russian Museum will exhibit Rasputin’s penis. That's entertainment.
  • Despite previous reports, Yellowstone Park is not likely to blow up anytime soon.
  • Roaming robots can solve the world-problem of over-fishing. Maybe you can fish if you say, 'Klaatu Barada Nikto'.
  • Some experts are concerned that we are on the brink of changing what it means to be human by enhancing healthy brains.
  • Bad news for aspirin. A study suggests people can learn to suppress pain when they are shown the activity of a pain-control region of their brain. Just tough it out, kid.
  • A family has been driven out of their home by an invisible force that has set fire to furniture and played 'mind games' with them.
  • Black holes devour people.
  • Latest Global Warming panic - the world must have carbon stores.
  • Baby buckyballs hold the promise of new and unusual physical properties for nano-engineers to explore. 'Baby buckyballs' is fun to say, too.
  • NASA says future flight may be on on bended wing.
  • Rocket options are examined for the Moon-Mars initiative.
  • Hubble sees a stellar demise in fire and ice (with pic). Speaking of Hubble, there may be hope to keep it.
  • NASA acts to ensure that astronauts don't follow their urges.
  • NASA's Mars rovers Opportunity and Spirit have completed their primary 90-day mission and achieved all of its original goals. Now, they are heading for the hills.

Quote of the Day:

We choose to explore space because doing so improves our lives, and lifts our national spirit.

President George W. Bush