Category Archives: life

Spacing Out

Here is a link to December 6, 2013s Youtube video of Jason McClellan’s Spacing Out space/UFO show. Interesting take on science and UFOs.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fh2Z-kG2YWw&feature=youtu.be

Scientist wants to teleport Martians to Earth

Craig Venter And Life At The Speed of Light

A U.S. scientist wants to detect Mars life and teleport it to Earth. And he already has the technology to do it.

Dr. J. Craig Venter. (Credit: J. Craig Venter Institute)

Dr. J. Craig Venter. (Credit: J. Craig Venter Institute)

J. Craig Venter, Ph.D. is a leading scientist in the field of genomic research. He is also the founder and CEO of Synthetic Genomics Inc., a privately held company dedicated to “commercializing genomic-driven solutions to address global needs such as new sources of energy, new food and nutritional products, and next generation vaccines.”

He and his research team have been field-testing technology that he believes will revolutionize the search for extraterrestrial life. According to the South China Morning Post, “Not only does Venter say his invention will detect and decode DNA hiding in otherworldly soil or water samples – proving once and for all that we are not alone in the universe – it will also beam the information back to Earth and allow scientists to reconstruct living copies in a biosafety facility.” He hopes to detect Martian life and bring it to Earth using a digital biological converter, or biological teleporter.

The India Times describes, “Dr. Venter’s machine would merely create a copy of an organism from a distant location — more like a biological fax machine.” Storing genetic code in a computer and transmitting it just like any other data is the basic idea.

Cover of J. Craig Venter's latest book. (Credit: Viking Adult)

Cover of J. Craig Venter’s latest book. (Credit: Viking Adult)

Dr. Venter’s team, and scientists from NASA’s Ames Research Center, recently conducted field-testing of this technology in the Mojave Desert south of Baker, California–a dry environment similar to Mars. Researchers tested the unit that would, in theory, send data back from Mars. But according to Dr. Venter, a prototype of the unit that would receive the transmitted data here on Earth exists as well, and will be available for sale next year.

India Times explains that this machine will be able to “automate the synthesis of genes by stringing small pieces of DNA together to make larger ones.” With this technology, “A person with a bacterial infection might be sent the code to recreate a virus intended to kill that specific bacterium.” Venter optimistically surmises that this technology will enable doctors to “send an antibiotic as an email,” and allow diabetics to “download insulin from the Internet.”

Original

Of Orphan Worlds and Interstellar Island Hopping

From Centauri Dreams:

Because of my fascination with exotic venues for astrobiology, I’ve always enjoyed Karl Schroeder’s novels. The Canadian writer explored brown dwarf planets as future venues for human settlement in Permanence (2002), and in his new book Lockstep (soon to be published by Tor, currently being serialized in Analog), Schroeder looks at ‘rogue’ planets, worlds that move through the galaxy without a central star. Imagine crimson worlds baked by cosmic radiation, their surfaces building up, over the aeons, the rust red complex organic molecules called tholins. Or consider gas giants long ago ejected from the system that gave them birth by close encounters with other worlds.

Objects like these and more are surely out there given what we know about gravitational interactions within planetary systems, and they’re probably out there in huge numbers. I’m not going to review how Lockstep uses them just yet — in any case, I haven’t finished the book — but we’ll return to its ingenious solution to time and distance problems in a future post. Right now I just want to mention that one of Schroeder’s characters muses upon ‘a hundred thousand nomad planets for every star in the galaxy.’ Now that’s some serious real estate.

If the number sounds like a novelistic exaggeration, it’s nonetheless drawn from recent work. Schroeder is invoking the work of Louis Strigari (Stanford University), who has studied the possibilities not only of planets ejected from their own systems but those that may form directly from a molecular cloud. The figure of 105 free-floating planetary objects for every main sequence star is from a 2012 paper in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (you can read more about Strigari’s ideas in ‘Island-Hopping’ to the Stars).

Rogue planets would be tricky to find but gravitational microlensing should help us set constraints on their actual numbers, and as we’ll see below, direct imaging has its uses. If rogue worlds are available in such quantities, we can imagine a starfaring culture capable of exploiting their resources. We can even speculate that a thick atmosphere that can trap infrared heat coupled with tectonic or radioactive heat sources from within could sustain elemental forms of life even in the absence of a star. Tens of thousands of objects in nearby interstellar space would obviously be a spur for exploration.

A Newly Found Orphan World

Eighty light years from Earth floats a solitary planet that has been discovered through its heat signature in data collected by the Pan-STARRS 1 wide-field survey telescope on Maui. In mass, color, and energy output, the world is similar to directly imaged planets. As you might expect, PSO J318.5-22, a gas giant about six times the mass of Jupiter, turned up during a search for brown dwarfs, delving into the datasets of a survey that has already produced about 4000 terabytes of information. The discovery was then followed up through multiple observations by equipment on nearby Mauna Kea, with spectra from the NASA Infrared Telescope Facility and the Gemini North Telescope indicating the young, low-mass object was not a brown dwarf.

ps1_lonely_planet-450

Image: Multicolor image from the Pan-STARRS1 telescope of the free-floating planet PSO J318.5-22, in the constellation of Capricornus. The planet is extremely cold and faint, about 100 billion times fainter in optical light than the planet Venus. Most of its energy is emitted at infrared wavelengths. The image is 125 arcseconds on a side. Credit: N. Metcalfe & Pan-STARRS 1 Science Consortium.

“We have never before seen an object free-floating in space that that looks like this. It has all the characteristics of young planets found around other stars, but it is drifting out there all alone,” explained team leader Dr. Michael Liu of the Institute for Astronomy at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. “I had often wondered if such solitary objects exist, and now we know they do.”

The find is interesting on a number of levels, not least of which is that observations of gas giant planets around young stars have shown that their spectra differ from those of L- and T-class brown dwarfs. Young planets like these, according to the paper on this work, show redder colors in the near-infrared, fainter absolute magnitudes at the same wavelength and other spectral peculiarities that suggest the line of development between brown dwarfs and gas giant planets may not be as clear cut as once assumed. The paper makes clear how complex the issue is:

PSO J318.5−22 shares a strong physical similarity to the young dusty planets HR 8799bcd and 2MASS J1207−39b, as seen in its colors, absolute magnitudes, spectrum, luminosity, and mass. Most notably, it is the first field L dwarf with near-IR absolute magnitudes as faint as the HR 8799 and 2MASS J1207−39 planets, demonstrating that the very red, faint region of the near-IR color-magnitude diagram is not exclusive to young exoplanets. Its probable membership in the β Pic moving group makes it a new substellar benchmark at young ages and planetary masses.

A landmark indeed, and here the Beta Pictoris moving group, a collection of young stars formed about twelve million years ago, is worth noting. Beta Pictoris itself is known to have a young gas giant planet in orbit around it. The newly detected PSO J318.5−22 is lower still in mass than the Beta Pictoris planet and it is thought to have formed in a different way. The paper goes on:

We find very red, low-gravity L dwarfs have ≈400 K cooler temperatures relative to field objects of comparable spectral type, yet have similar luminosities. Comparing very red L dwarf spectra to each other and to directly imaged planets highlights the challenges of diagnosing physical properties from near-IR spectra.

The beauty of objects like these from an astronomical point of view is that we don’t have to worry about filtering out the overwhelming light of a parent star as we study them. Co-author Niall Deacon (Max Planck Institute for Astronomy) thinks PSO J318.5−22 will “provide a wonderful view into the inner workings of gas-giant planets like Jupiter shortly after their birth.” The discovery also gives us much to think about in terms of future explorations as we contemplate a cosmos in which perhaps vast numbers of planets move in solitary trajectories through the galaxy.

I like the idea of targeting “rogue” planets as potential interstellar missions within the next 100 years. The probes can be smaller and the fuel problem won’t be as bad.

Karl Schroeder isn’t the only author who has used rogue planets as interstellar destinations. The old Space: 1999 television series addressed it as well as Peter Watts Blindsight. Good stuff.

Interstellar Wanderers

When the Alien is not the Alien

From Huffington Post:

Atahumanoid

The mummified remains of what looks like a 6-inch space alien has turned “Sirius” into the most eagerly awaited documentary among UFO enthusiasts.

The findings, however, might come as a disappointment.

In early publicity, filmmakers claimed the documentary would reveal that the DNA of the creature with an oversized alien-looking head couldn’t be medically classified.

In fact, the film, which premiered Monday in Hollywood, features a scientist who concluded the little humanoid was human.

“I can say with absolute certainty that it is not a monkey. It is human — closer to human than chimpanzees. It lived to the age of six to eight. Obviously, it was breathing, it was eating, it was metabolizing. It calls into question how big the thing might have been when it was born,”said Garry Nolan, director of stem cell biology at Stanford University’s School of Medicine in California.

“The DNA tells the story and we have the computational techniques that allows us to determine, in very short order, whether, in fact, this is human,” Nolan, who performed the DNA tests, explains in the film.

“Sirius” focuses on the remains of the small humanoid, nicknamed Ata, that was discovered in Chile’s Atacama Desert 10 years ago and has, literally, gone through different hands and ownership since then.

The film also explores an ongoing grassroots movement to get the U.S. government to reveal what it reportedly knows about UFOs, extraterrestrials and the availability of advanced alternative energy technologies that could greatly benefit everyone on Earth.

The primary force behind “Sirius” is Steven Greer, a former emergency room doctor who founded the Center for the Study of Extraterrestrial Intelligence (CSETI) and The Disclosure Project.

One odd thing about the Ata controversy is how it came to the recent attention of the American public.

Early in the documentary, Greer refers to Ata as an extraterrestrial being, explaining how it was found in the Atacama Desert and “we don’t know how it came about.” That seems strange because HuffPost recently reported on the well known history of little Ata since its discovery 10 years ago and subsequent moving from hand to hand, ending up in Spain.

Early PR for “Sirius” referred to the “paradigm shifting physical evidence of a medically and scientifically analyzed DNA sequenced humanoid creature of unknown classification.” This fueled rumors, speculation and more than likely, the hope many people had that, finally, a real alien creature had been discovered and proven to have non-human DNA.

But now that the film is available to everybody, and DNA analysis shows that Ata was human, was that early PR hype about the humanoid a bit premature?

“My interest, frankly, is to disprove that it’s anything unusual or anything paranormal,” Nolan said prior to beginning his DNA study of the small portions of Ata he was allowed to work with. “I would like to prove that this is human [and] just an interesting mutation. In every situation with scientists, your reputation’s at stake. I have every expectation that even doing this is going to lead to some ribbing from some of my colleagues.”

Or this could be what Dan Burisch claims about the “greys” ( J-Rods ), that they are human descendents from the future?

That could explain the human DNA.

Not that I’m a huge fan of Greer or Burisch, but this leaves a lot of the UFO/alien issue definitely in the air.

‘Sirius’ Documentary Reveals DNA Test Results On Ata, The ‘6-Inch Alien’

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=CnRIR3pqY9A

Are Chupacabras Puerto Rican Jersey Devils?

From Inexplicata:

Chupacabras: Sudden Impact
By José Pérez – PRMUFON

On Saturday, 20 April 2013, a team of researchers consisting of this author, José Pérez, his wife Ilbis Dominguez, Mr. Luissepi Quiñones, Mr. José A. Martinez, Mr. Anibal Martínez and Mr. Richard Flores reported to the residence of Mr. Fernando Díaz to interview him about the impressive and highly important case which we will endeavor to narrate briefly in this article as follows…

In the early hours of 30 March 2013 at around 6:15 a.m., Mr. Fernando Díaz, a resident of the town of Guayama, Puerto Rico, was headed to work as usual. Mr. Díaz was driving along PR-3, one of the island’s main thoroughfares. The sky was light at that time of the morning, although the sun was not fully out yet.
Mr. Diaz was driving his blue 2001 Hyundai Brio at an approximate speed of 35 miles per hour, heading from the town of Guayama to the town of Salinas.

As he approached kilometer 3.0, right in front of the facilities of the División de Tránsito y Vehículos Hurtados (Traffic and Stolen Vehicles Division) of the Guayama State Police, he noticed that the vehicle ahead of him began zigzagging, as if trying to avoid something.

When he looked, he could see something strange coming over the vehicle – something he had never seen before. It was an enormous, dark-winged figure that appeared to have collided against the vehicle in front of him, and was trying to stand up in an effort to take flight. His first impression was that it was a gigantic bird.
The creature never had enough time to get up off the ground and struck the grille of Mr. Díaz’s car head-on. With the same momentum, it continued sliding along the vehicle’s hood until it struck the windshield, continuing to slide off the hood.

Mr. Diaz stepped on the brake, terrified at the sight, and brought his vehicle to a sudden halt. Luckily there were no cars behind him. After stopping, he looked through the rear-view mirror to see exactly what he had hit, but was unable to see anything.

Although the event lasted only seconds, Mr. Díaz was able to take in considerable details of the creature that hit his car.

According to his description, the creature had a broad face like a Pitbull terrier. It had a short snout and nose resembling that of a dog. Its eyes were small, human-sized, but completely dark and glossy. It had something like ears on either side of its head. It had no feathers; its skin was like a bat’s and although he thinks it may have had hair, it was short and smooth along the body.

The creature was black or dark brown in color, and seemed to have arms aside from wings – that is to say, it had six extremities: two legs, two arms and two wings. Its feet appeared to have multiple toes with claws, and its extended wings resembled those of a bat.

Mr. Díaz noted that the wings appeared to stretch out from two to three feet on either side of his vehicle. A 2001 Hyundai Brio measures exactly 5 feet and 8 inches wide, meaning that if we round it off to 6 feet and add a minimum of two additional feet to each side, we would be talking of a creature whose wingspan was 10 feet from wingtip to wingtip.

Mr. Díaz admitted to us that the first thing that came to his mind was that he had seen the Devil.

Despite his fear, he could see that the vehicle ahead of him was pulling into a Gulf station some 400 meters ahead on the right side of the road.

Once there, he saw the driver of the other vehicle – a white Toyota Corolla – stepping out. Excitedly, Mr. Díaz asked him: “Did you see that?!”

Both drivers spent a few minutes discussing the awful experience, but since they had to reach their respective workplaces, decided to continue their journeys. They decided not to make a formal complaint to the police, since they were certain no one was going to believe them and would probably consider it a joke, and mock them.
Mr. Díaz told his co-workers about the event and one of them accompanied him back to the site at around 10:00 a.m. to see if they could find the thing that hit his vehicle, but there were no traces to be found.

Although Mr. Díaz has been very kind and cooperated with us in our investigation, the driver of the other car does not want his name made public, at least for now. We hope he changes his mind soon in order to lend further credence to this significant case.
Mr. Díaz knows Ms. Felicitas Cintrón, who reported seeing a similar creature in 2012, and when sharing their experiences, agreed that they were definitely talking about the same entity.

Luckily for Mr. Díaz (but not for us in our evidence-gathering endeavors) his vehicle suffered no damage whatsoever aside from some scratches to the paint. The bodywork was not dented and the windshield did not shatter.

We would like to express our thanks to Mr. José Oscar Martínez and Ms. Felicitas Cintrón, who informed us about this case, and especially Mr. Fernando Díaz for having welcomed us into his home and bravely recounted his terrible experience, allowing us to share it with the public.

In my opinion, this could be one of the most significant cases in explaining the mystery that surrounds the mutilation of animals by creatures of unknown origin.
We shall continue our investigations until the day that those who know the truth – and we are certain that they do – choose to make it public.

When I read this article and come across the description of the winged creature, the first thing I thought was “Jersey Devil!”, not chupacabras.

I suppose there could be winged chupacabras, but I don’t think the name applies to this particular creature.

Of course cryptozoology isn’t my main forte, but I’ve done enough research over the years to express my opinion about such things.  I’ll stand by Scott Corrales’s research in Fortean things Latin American however because I have limited experience in that cultural venue.

Puerto Rico: Chupacabras – Sudden Impact

Possible Life Before Earth

From arxiv.org:

An extrapolation of the genetic complexity of organisms to earlier times suggests that life began before the Earth was formed. Life may have started from systems with single heritable elements that are functionally equivalent to a nucleotide. The genetic complexity, roughly measured by the number of non-redundant functional nucleotides, is expected to have grown exponentially due to several positive feedback factors: gene cooperation, duplication of genes with their subsequent specialization, and emergence of novel functional niches associated with existing genes. Linear regression of genetic complexity on a log scale extrapolated back to just one base pair suggests the time of the origin of life 9.7 billion years ago. This cosmic time scale for the evolution of life has important consequences: life took ca. 5 billion years to reach the complexity of bacteria; the environments in which life originated and evolved to the prokaryote stage may have been quite different from those envisaged on Earth; there was no intelligent life in our universe prior to the origin of Earth, thus Earth could not have been deliberately seeded with life by intelligent aliens; Earth was seeded by panspermia; experimental replication of the origin of life from scratch may have to emulate many cumulative rare events; and the Drake equation for guesstimating the number of civilizations in the universe is likely wrong, as intelligent life has just begun appearing in our universe. Evolution of advanced organisms has accelerated via development of additional information-processing systems: epigenetic memory, primitive mind, multicellular brain, language, books, computers, and Internet. As a result the doubling time of complexity has reached ca. 20 years. Finally, we discuss the issue of the predicted technological singularity and give a biosemiotics perspective on the increase of complexity.

A very fine paper, except for one thing.

The authors only use one data-set to reach their conclusions.

And I believe they are wrong unless they can prove we live in a simulated universe.

Life Before Earth

Earth Life, and Earth Shadow-Life

From guardian.co.uk:

Animal figures cut into desert varnish

Across the world’s great deserts, a mysterious sheen has been found on boulders and rock faces. These layers of manganese, arsenic and silica are known as desert varnish and they are found in the Atacama desert in Chile, the Mojave desert in California, and in many other arid places. They can make the desert glitter with surprising colour and, by scraping off pieces of varnish, native people have created intriguing symbols and images on rock walls and surfaces.

How desert varnish forms has yet to be resolved, despite intense research by geologists. Most theories suggest it is produced by chemical reactions that act over thousands of years or by ecological processes yet to be determined.

Professor Carol Cleland, of Colorado University, has a very different suggestion. She believes desert varnish could be the manifestation of an alternative, invisible biological world. Cleland, a philosopher based at the university’s astrobiology centre, calls this ethereal dimension the shadow biosphere. “The idea is straightforward,” she says. “On Earth we may be co-inhabiting with microbial lifeforms that have a completely different biochemistry from the one shared by life as we currently know it.”

It is a striking idea: We share our planet with another domain of life that exists “like the realm of fairies and elves just beyond the hedgerow”, as David Toomey puts it in his newly published Weird Life: The Search for Life that is Very, Very Different from Our Own. But an alternative biosphere to our own would be more than a mere scientific curiosity: it is of crucial importance, for its existence would greatly boost expectations of finding life elsewhere in the cosmos. As Paul Davies, of Arizona State University, has put it: “If life started more than once on Earth, we could be virtually certain that the universe is teeming with it.”

However, by the same token, if it turns out we have failed to realise that we have been sharing a planet with these shadowy lifeforms for eons, despite all the scientific advances of the 19th and 20th centuries, then we may need to think again about the way we hunt for life on other worlds. Robot spacecraft – such as the Mars rover Curiosity – are certainly sophisticated. But what chance do they have of detecting alien entities if the massed laboratories of modern science have not yet spotted them on our own planet? This point is stressed by the US biologist Craig Venter. As he has remarked: “We’re looking for life on Mars and we don’t even know what’s on Earth!”

The concept of a shadow biosphere was first outlined by Cleland and her Colorado colleague Shelley Copley in a paper in 2006 in the International Journal of Astrobiology, and is now supported by many other scientists, including astrobiologists Chris McKay, who is based at Nasa’s Ames Research Centre, California, and Paul Davies.

These researchers believe life may exist in more than one form on Earth: standard life – like ours – and “weird life”, as they term the conjectured inhabitants of the shadow biosphere. “All the micro-organisms we have detected on Earth to date have had a biology like our own: proteins made up of a maximum of 20 amino acids and a DNA genetic code made out of only four chemical bases: adenine, cytosine, guanine and thymine,” says Cleland. “Yet there are up to 100 amino acids in nature and at least a dozen bases. These could easily have combined in the remote past to create lifeforms with a very different biochemistry to our own. More to the point, some may still exist in corners of the planet.”

Science’s failure to date to spot this weird life may seem puzzling. The natural history of our planet has been scrupulously studied and analysed by scientists, so how could a whole new type of life, albeit a microbial one, have been missed? Cleland has an answer. The methods we use to detect micro-organisms today are based entirely on our own biochemistry and are therefore incapable of spotting shadow microbes, she argues. A sample of weird microbial life would simply not trigger responses to biochemists’ probes and would end up being thrown out with the rubbish.

That is why unexplained phenomena like desert varnish are important, she says, because they might provide us with clues about the shadow biosphere. We may have failed to detect the source of desert varnish for the simple reason that it is the handiwork of weird microbes which generate energy by oxidising minerals, leaving deposits behind them.

The idea of the shadow biosphere is also controversial and is challenged by several other scientists. “I think it is very unlikely that after 300 years of microbiology we would not have detected such organisms despite the fact that they are supposed to have a different biochemistry from the kind we know about today,” says Professor Charles Cockell, of the UK Centre for Astrobiology at Edinburgh University. “It is really quite unlikely,” adds Cockell, whose centre will be officially opened this week at a ceremony in Edinburgh.

Ways need to be found to determine whether or not the shadow biosphere exists, says Dimitar Sasselov, professor of astronomy at Harvard University and director of the Harvard Origins of Life Initiative. “If you want a clue you can count up the amount of carbon that is emitted by living things – cows, sheep, grass, plants, forests and all the planet’s bacteria. When you do, you find there is a discrepancy of around 5% when you compare the amount given off from Earth’s standard biosphere and the amount you find in the atmosphere.”

In other words, there is slightly too much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere than can be explained by the emissions of standard lifeforms on Earth. There could be an error in these calculations, of course. Alternatively, the shadow biosphere could be responsible for this excess, says Sasselov. “There is plenty of room for a shadow biosphere. That is clear. Certainly, it is not true, as some allege, that we have strong evidence to show that it does not exist. In fact, the opposite is true: we do not have good enough evidence to dismiss it.”

A key point to note is that scientists – although describing the inhabitants of the shadow biosphere as weird – still assume they will be carbon-based entities. Complex chemistry based on other elements, such as silicon, is possible, they acknowledge but these alternatives cannot create the vast range of organic materials that carbon can generate. In other words, the shadow biosphere, if it exists, will almost certainly be inhabited by carbon life, albeit of an alien variety.

“Billions of years ago, life based on different types of carbon biochemistry  could have arisen in several places on Earth,” says Cleland. “These varieties would have been based on different combinations of bases and amino acids. Eventually, one – based on DNA and on proteins made from 20 amino acids – formed multicellular entities and became the dominant form of life on Earth. That is why we find that life as we know it, from insects to humans and from plants to birds, has DNA as its genetic code. However, other lifeforms based on different bases and proteins could still have survived – in the shadow biosphere.”

A different prospect is highlighted by Sasselov, who points out that a complex organic chemical can come in two different shapes even though they have the same chemical formula. Each is a mirror-image of the other and are said to have a different chirality. “Amino acids are an example,” says Sasselov. “Each comes in a right-handed version and a left-handed version. Our bodies – in common with all other lifeforms – only use left-handed versions to create proteins. Right-handed amino acids are simply ignored by our bodies. However, there may be some organisms, somewhere on the planet, that use only right-handed amino acids. They could make up the weird life of the shadow biosphere.”

But how can scientists pinpoint this weird life? Microbes are usually detected in laboratories by feeding nutrients to suspected samples so they grow and expend. Then the resulting cultures can be analysed. A weird lifeform – such as one made only of proteins formed out of right-handed amino acids – will not respond to left-handed nutrients, however. It will fail to form cultures and register its existence.

One solution to this problem is being pursued by Sasselov and colleagues’ Harvard Origins of Life Initiative. They are building an artificial cell – or bionic system – made only of right-handed components including right-handed DNA and right-handed ribosomes. “If there are right-handed lifeforms out there, many of them will be viruses – which will attempt to hijack the DNA of our bionic cells,” adds Sasselov. “When they do that they will leave evidence of their existence. Essentially we are building honey traps to catch any right-handed viruses that might live in the shadow biosphere and so reveal their existence.”

Other scientists suggest a different approach – by looking at Earth’s most inhospitable ecological niches: hot vents on the seafloor, mountaintops, highly saline lakes, Antarctic ice sheets and deserts. Standard lifeforms, mainly bacteria, have been found in these places but only a few. Some niches, researchers speculate, may prove to be just too inhospitable for standard life but may just be tolerable enough to support weird life. Microscopic studies would reveal their existence while standard culture tests would show they had a different biochemistry from standard lifeforms.

Stripes of desert varnish Stripes of desert varnish line the canyon walls of Capitol Gorge in Utah. No laboratory has been able to re-create the phenomenon. Photograph: Larry Geddis/Alamy

And a promising example is provided by the desert varnish proposed as a target by Cleland and backed by David Toomey in Weird Life. “No laboratory microbiologist has been able to coax bacteria or algae to make desert varnish,” he states. “It is also possible that the stuff is the end result of some very weird chemistry but no one has been able to reproduce that either.” So yes, these sites could provide proof of the shadow biosphere’s existence, he argues.

Not surprisingly, Cleland agrees. “The only trouble is that no one has yet got round to investigating desert varnish for weird life,” adds Cleland. “I confess I find that disappointing.”

Fascinating. I have come across different versions of Earth “shadow” life over the years; Mac Tonnies’ “cryptoterrestrials“, ancient creatures older than mankind whom remain hidden and undetectable from us. And Peter Watts’ “Behemoth” right-handed amino acid life forms taking over the Earth during the 21st Century.

And I’m not even counting legends of elves, Bigfoot, dwarves, demons and angels from past decades and centuries.

So the idea of Earthly “alien” life isn’t new.

But maybe, just maybe with advanced biotechnology techniques, we’ll be able to detect this shadow life.

Perhaps a whole hidden world!

Life on Earth… but not as we know it

Hat tip to the Daily Grail.

The UFO “Solid Light” Phenomenon

From Science and the UFO CONTROVERSY:

This picture was produced by my son Chris with my assistance to develop imagery that helps describe a “solid light” case that was focused at a beach headland area at Kiama New South Wales in Australia back in the early 1970s. I have revisited this affair many times and it has inspired my worldwide focus on similar cases. Gildas Bourdais from France helped me immensely with regard to the strange event played at Taize back in 1972. I have also focused on the classic Trancas case from Argentina in 1963. Both cases are striking, but not without their weaknesses and possible explanations. In both cases my enquiries to date suggest the possible explanations are not all that compelling, but we still need to examine them, to see how the evidence for these classic cases stack up.

An objective and solid evidence based focus on the role military and government has emerged with the appearance of the book “UFOs and Government – A Historical Inquiry” by the UFO History Group, the primary authors being Dr. Michael Swords and Robert Powell, and contributions from the rest of the group – Clas Svahn, Vicente-Juan Ballester Olmos, myself (Bill Chalker), Barry Greenwood, Richard Thieme, Jan Aldrich and Steve Purcell.
One of the major themes that runs through the “UFOs and Government” narrative is the recurring sense of lost opportunities to engage appropriately with a consistently unexplained phenomena, which if studied properly could yield fascinating scientific breakthroughs.  When the picture presented is of poor investigation and active debunking with far too little serious in depth analysis, and yet we have impressive international evidence of a consistent unexplained phenomenon, there is a vast disconnection from an appropriate scientific response.
The book “UFOs and Government” alludes to several lost opportunities to focus on enduring unexplained attributes of the UFO phenomenon.  Unfortunately if your only insight into the UFO phenomenon was the typical debunking official military response revealed time and time again by their documents and histories, you would miss these strange and possibly breakthrough attributes of the UFO phenomenon.
A striking example of this is the fascinating 1960 Red Bluff California case where official attitudes caused a UFO witness, a highway patrol officer, to not initially describe the “light beam projected by the object seemed like what would be described today, as a big, fat laser beam.  That is, it did not spread out or diffuse “properly.” But worse than that, the beam seemed to have an “end” to it,” wrote Mike Swords.  Here was a remarkable example of what many researchers have called “solid light” in action.  In writing this Dr. Swords touched upon a critical issue.  He highlighted that Dr. James McDonald did manage to draw out this remarkable detail, because he was actually interested in what the witnesses reported, rather than conducting a myopic debunking exercise.  Genuine scientific skepticism, driven by a desire to question and carefully investigate an experience can potentially yield scientific breakthroughs. We now know that there are many such cases of “this peculiar sawed-off light” or “solid light.”
Indeed Michael Sword’s indicated in an endnote in “UFOs and Government” that “sawed-off light” cases are “a peculiar feature of a smallish set of “high strangeness” UFO encounters.  As these encounters are widely spread across the world, this feature is suprising and difficult to explain on sociological grounds.” He indicated he had some 44 cases in his own files.
I had been studying these sorts of “solid light” cases for decades so I naturally contacted Mike about his collection.
I emailed Mike Swords:
“I have been quietly studying for decades this strange aspect of many worldwide UFO cases and have developed a very disorganised collection of material on such cases.
“In both “The OZ Files” and “Hair of the Alien” I refer to solid light cases and describe an Australian case from Kiama, southern NSW from the early 1970s.  I have been looking into the case since learning of it in the 1990s and earlier this year conducted a very detailed site investigation to determine if the observations reported by the primary witness were possible and to see if further information could be found.  The case is rather complicated and also has entity and abduction aspects.  The primary witness has closely guarded his privacy and I have only had one face to face meeting with him, as well as many phone conversations, written statements and emails.
“The on site investigations this year took place because the main witness was more forthcoming with locational details.  Some of this was in my original interview notes and material when we originally talked in person, however they were not precise enough to undertake an on site reconstruction.  Finally this year these confirmations were forthcoming and I had sufficient detail to locate the exact viewing locations, lines of sight, and confirm accurately the Kiama beach location. I stayed there for 2 days gathering information and managed to confirm that his ex parents in law were still living at the house in question.  The ex father in law while elderly recollected the night, but while he feels he may not remember the event as the main witness Graham described to me, he is certain that his former son-in-law would not have invented the story.  Bill, the ex-father in law, recollects that Graham was agitated and focused on the incident, but Bill cannot recollect that his own involvement was as Graham described it in his accounts to me. 
“Having talked to Graham a number of times over the years I have found him to be a compelling witness, but one who has struggled mightily with the ontological status of the events.  Indeed he was originally much more comfortable casting the event as a strange dream.  While the recent investigations seem to caste the stranger aspects as being witnessed by Graham only with marginal supporting cast in the form of his ex wife and ex father and mother in law, as well as possibly some neighbours, who may have interpreted the event in different ways, this seems to be a strange “display” event, so frequently reported in many CE type cases, particularly those with high strangeness elements, such as this one.  In many of these sorts of cases there often seems to be selective perceptions of the events, sometimes so acute that often people near to each other have a very different experience, as if a central witness is the only intended viewer?
“The ongoing investigation has continued to energise my interest in solid light cases and I have been attempting to drag all my solid light cases together with a view to create a catalogue of such cases, building on the early SOBEPS catalogue of the 1970s.
“I was also intrigued with a UFO film taken by Ray Stanford, covered in Chris Lambright‘s recent e-book “X Descending”.  Because I had some previous contact with Ray back in the 1970s and early 1980s and talked to him briefly at the 1987 Washington DC MUFON symposium, I renewed our acquaintance. This lead to some extensive email exchanges in which he elaborated on the “new film”, beyond the “air spike”/Leik Myrabo connection which Chris has understandably focused on. 
“Instead I focused on a different part of the same footage which appears to show a “solid light” projection event. 
“Apart from many other cases I was also drawn towards a Chinese event I located that occurred in 1998 at a desert Air Force base, involving a Chinese Air Force F-6 pursuit.  The possibly striking confirmation of Zhao Xu, who is described as a famous Chinese Defence expert in unmanned aircraft, as one of the various high level witnesses, who mentioned “Surprisingly these two light beams of light were not as we normally see light beams, as has been according to the distance and spread, but as two light-emitting entities, sticking out from the bottom of the UFO ending on a certain length. At least today we have not got control of this sort of light technology.”  Radar detection was also involved.  Given this comment was made by a defence specialist* I suspect some Chinese military science investigation and research since then.
* Correction: following further research and more detailed translations the quote above referring to “two light-emitting entities” comes from General Li the PLAAF missile base commander in the Badain Jaran Desert in Lanzhou province.  Major General Zhao Xu witnessed the UFO incident.  It was General Li’s pilots who undertook the attempted aerial pirsuits and close up observations.
“Meanwhile open science has been playing with Bose-Einstein condensates et.al to manipulate light in diverse ways – our crude opening gambit in a direction that might show us “solid light” effects that have been reported for decades in a diverse range of international (UFO) case material.  Mainstream science directions in this area have been nicely summarised with references in Sidney Perkowitz‘s “Slow Light: Invisibility, Teleportation, and other mysteries of light” (2011).
“Hence my ongoing deep focus on “solid light” cases and my long winded way of asking if I can get a copy of your 44 “solid light” case files!  A big ask I know, but it would support an in-depth focus on these cases and perhaps a collaborative workup of a catalogue of such cases to build on the early and somewhat flawed SOBEPS catalogue?
“Best wishes in “solid light” anticipation, like don’t keep me in the dark (pun intended),
Bill”
Mike was very helpful and shared his listing of cases.  Indeed he addressed this research focus in his always interesting blog “The Big Study” – thebiggeststudy.blogspot.com – on October 19 2012 – with a post entitled” “SLOW LIGHT & UFOs”:
“Bill Chalker wrote the other day. He’s contemplating making a review of so-called “solid light” UFO cases, and I welcome that. Bill’s a hard-science-trained ufologist and might just be able to make some sense of a real puzzlement in this field. He asked me if I’d scour my files for such cases [since I'd foolishly admitted to having around 44 of such things], and so I did, making a list for him to pursue and build his analysis more robustly [Bill already had a bigger bunch than that].”
Mike further stated, In my understanding the term “solid light” came from witness testimony— the light beam seemed “solid”; it was as if the beam extended like a solid tube, etc. This phrase stuck but is probably a bad one. The light effects that we’re witnessing in these cases behave not like solids but like “regular” light which is abnormally “contained” somehow. Things don’t seem to be “impacted” by these beams, only illuminated by them. The things [generally] seem to be more like spatially-constrained lasers [admittedly of wide diameter] than anything solid, and might well be more like tubes [i.e. hollow] than “full” beams.”
I recommend readers read Mike Swords valuable post on this fascinating group of cases.
I’ve included the core details of the catalyst for this re-invigorated enquiry into “solid light” cases.
BIZZARE UFO “LIGHT” PHENOMENA AT KIAMA
…. I was approached by a man who was troubled by a bizarre episode on the south coast at Kiama, in the early 1970s….  The reporting witness, who I will call Graham, has pondered the nature of what occurred.  He is troubled by it and now feels more comfortable with it being a dream.  The fragmentary nature of the events and the strange elements of the experience beckon this interpretation.  But there are startling aspects that fit in with some extraordinary characteristics of the UFO phenomenon.   I have spoken to Graham on a number of occasions and meet him directly for an extended interview.  I found him to be a compelling witness who is grappling with the ontological issues that striking episodes often force us to confront.  I have quoted from his own prepared statement:
“Awoken by a light coming into the room, I was too drowsy to do anything about it, I wanted to sleep.  It came to mind that the only way light could come into the window was a light was being shone at it.  I thought it may be an intruder so I forced myself awake, to step over the baby and my two year old daughter sleeping on the floor beside me.  When I got to the window I could see nothing unusual outside.  Thinking it must have been a dream because I had remarked on the endless stream of car headlights winding their way along the old highway towards Sydney.  I laid down again and fell quickly asleep.  Again the light came into the room.  This time I jumped up quickly, wide awake again, there was nothing unusual outside.  Suddenly I saw a light beam white in colour with a blue fluorescent tinge evaporating from it.  Because of the luminescence of the light I was able to make out the shape of a flying craft from which the beam projected at an angle to the ground of about 75o. “The beam was about 30 feet long and about 2 feet six inches diameter, given the craft was between the headland I was on and the next headland.  Suddenly the beam, still only 30 feet long fell, like a perfect cylinder of solid light.  It did not fall in the direction of gravity, it continued along the path of its own axis.  The cylinder of solid light hit a caravan.  Upon impact the light behaved like water, pouring over the caravan, over its roof, over its walls, over every nook and cranny of the van.  Like fluorescent paint from an electro, airless spray gun.  The caravan illuminated completely for about three seconds then the light faded away.  My attention was on the light.  I could not see the craft any more.
“I rubbed my eyes and looked for the craft.  It appeared slightly to the left of its original position with another beam of light, descending from it at a very slow speed; say about only 3 feet per second.  When the beam reached a given length, longer than the first time, it began falling as before.  This time it hit an amenities block and the light covered its surfaces completely illuminating it in the same way as the caravan.  Again the light faded away. 
“From the same location, the craft let another beam go at an angle of about 45o to the ground level line.  The beam was much longer than before.  It reached the beach and illuminated approximately an area of sand forty feet at its widest.  Inside the lighted area were two men standing motionless looking up at the craft.  A young woman jumped up from sitting near a small beach fire and ran to stand with the two men.  A second young woman was running backwards trying to brush the light off her arms and body.  Then she too stood separate to the other three and also stared up at the craft.  The light suddenly went out and I looked for the people.  Has it taken the people I thought.  Where as I was marvelling at the craft and light before, I now became angry, thinking it has terrorised that woman.  It was not a good thing as I first thought.  Now I could see the fire dimly glowing.  I looked this way and that to see if any of the people walked in front of the fire, to prove they were still there.  I fell asleep on my feet.  When I awoke I was standing on the other side of the window, one hand on the window.
“I looked outside the window only feet away.  The craft hovered over the street in front of the house.  It manoeuvred very close to the window.  I was impressed that it looked like a spaceship.  It had no helicopter noises or blades.  It did not force itself off the ground.  There was no blowing of the small trees.  It was not a hovercraft, and it had no wings like a plane.  The metallic material it was made of appeared as though it was unpolished Zinc alloy.  It had no seams, no rivets, no weld marks, no plates visible.  It was as if it was made from one piece of metal about 40 feet wide and 10 feet high, which began to spin in one direction, then it stopped and spun for a shorter time in the opposite direction.  Then it stopped spinning, hovering in a steady position above the skyline.  There were no thoughts it belonged to the western world.  That it was a secret craft, that got into difficulty.  That I wasn’t meant to see.  I blacked out.
“When I came to, the craft was still opposite my window.  I thought why was I meant to see that it had no welds or seams, it seemed to want to show me that.  I looked at a window shape about six feet wide and two feet six inches high with carved corners.  The metallic window shield suddenly disappeared and I could see inside the craft.  I saw no fittings.  It had flat vertical off white walls.  I felt very peaciful.  A man walked into the room of the craft and stood in front of the window.  As he walked in he was looking at a flat object he was holding in his hands, like a clip board but thicker.  He began to move his arms as though he was working on something at bench height below the window.  Totally absorbed, he worked away.  I felt completely safe.  Another man then entered the room looking at the other man and what he was doing.  He stood also facing me looking at the bench and pointing like without words he was helping the other fix something.
“They had bright silver one piece suits like thin wetsuits on, with no badges or markings.  They carried no weapons or tools.  The craft had no fittings or anything that looked like a weapon, so I felt safe.  And besides, they didn’t know I was watching them.  With that thought the last one to enter the room smiled at the other, then they both smiled directly at me.  I had physical fright, my hair stood on end literally and I knew what it meant to be really scared.  I dropped to the floor and said, “Everybody keep down. Stay out of the light.”  I knew that in the light they could control my thinking to feel and think peacefully.  Suddenly great noise and severe vibration of the house took place.  The laundry light went dim, the fridge began jumping about and there was great noise above the roof.  The washing machine was bumping about also.  I said, “Quickly get under the doorways, the house is going to fall.”  It was like the craft overhead sucked the electricity out of the house, then took off.
“Bill shouted out, “Shit, what was that?  It took the bloody roof off.”  I said, “It was a UFO.”  Somebody said what, againI said, it was a UFO.  Bill said, “Yes I saw it as it took the roof off.”  Bill was trying to comprehend how come the roof was still there.
“Gordon __  living behind came out to his back door and said very explicitly, “What the …… was that?  I thought it took the roof off.”  He too was greatly concerned with checking out his roof, reassuring himself it was still there.  The lady next door on the seaward side opened a window and said, “Where did it crash?  Do we have to get out?”  She became very angry saying again, “Do we have to get out?”  No you’re safe.  It’s gone.  Relieved, she said, “I am alone with the children tonight, that bloody pilot should be shot for that.”  It was unusual to hear people who I had never heard swear before, swearing.
“Bill and Gordon were saying it was a UFO.  Suddenly, __, Bill’s wife began to try and quieten everyone down and get us all inside.  We decided that I should phone the Nowra base.  I spoke to the duty officer.  He said he was the only one on duty.  He asked me if I saw any orange lights.  I said, “Yes.”  He then quickly said it was a weather balloon you saw, it was let go at such and such a time from Jambaroo, it didn’t inflate properly and other people reported seeing it as an orange light over Kiama.  In my mind I thought, he knows what it was, it must be secret.  I’ve done my duty reporting it, so that was that.
“The next day (our wives) said two men in dark suits with ID tags came to the door asking did any one see anything unusual last night.  Frightened by the men, they said no and the men went on.  (Our wives) warned me not to speak about it, they were very frightened that something would happen to me if I spoke up and also it would make us a laughing stock in the community.  The plan was we would forget it, not talk about it, even to one another.  So it would be distanced from our lives.
“Bill was reading the paper some days later and said an expensive Navy helicopter flew from Jambaroo over Kiama.  It lost its electronics and crashed forty kilometres out to sea off Kiama.  The navy was reported to be trying to recover it to find out what happened.  The crew were rescued.  I said, “Yeh, I know about losing power, the same thing happened to the helicopter as what happened to the fridge and the laundry light.  The UFO took its electricity.”  Nothing was said further.  We ignored the event.  What I saw holds future understanding for me, if it was a dream I believe.  Possibly it was an active imagination, a dream and actual occurrences combined.”
This strange affair has several defined stages, but the evident discontinuities in awareness, argue both for a surreal, dream like quality and also reflect the paradoxical reality of some of the stranger elements of the UFO phenomenon.  The extraordinary behaviour of the “light beams” behaving as both “solid” and “liquid” has been reported elsewhere in Australia and overseas.  The apparent display quality to episodes in the incident is reflected in many cases.  There seems to have been a number of gaps in the time sequence.   The apparent plight of the people on the beach is provocative, and one I am trying to unravel.  This is clearly a case that would benefit from further in depth enquiry.
Fortunately the original witness to the Kiama case re-contacted me.  He has been very difficult to relocate after my original interviews with him.  He is still very guarded about his privacy and protecting the welfare of his family.  However we were able to have some very extensive discussions and a detailed interview where I was able to locate the events much more precisely in the Kiama area and secure more details about the incident.
He confirmed an aspect I had long suspected as part of the experience, which he only original hinted at in the vaguest possible way.  He has an abduction recollection that was consciously recollected at the time, but he was extremely reluctant to share these details during our original discussions years ago.
He recollects sitting in a curved hallway in a strange environment.  He heard a voice and turned to find a woman.  She asked him, “Do you remember what happened in there?”  “No,” he replied. “Do you?” he asked. “Put it this way, I won’t be telling my husband.”
He doesn’t recollect much more, or he volunteered little further detail about this aspect of the Kiama encounter.  However he did say he started to frequent some UFO group meetings with the express purpose of seeing if he could find the woman he had encountered in the Kiama experience.  At one meeting he saw a woman who looked like the woman encountered in the “strange environment”, presumably onboard the UFO.  When he started to talk to her he felt she was not the right person and did not persist with the conversation.

I described some of the results of my 2012 field investigations in the Kiama area in my email to Mike Swords quoted above.  I hope that further research and investigation will continue to assist the evaluation of this strange case.  It will be fascinating if the ongoing enquiries further validate the affair. “Solid light” cases represent an intriguing and challenging opportunity to research a potential “breakthrough” aspect of the UFO phenomenon.  If we can get to the bottom of such extraordinary manipulations of light and other associated UFO light phenomena, then real progress in a UFO science can be made. Maybe mainstream science is slowly catching up. New Scientist has done a few reports on “tractor beam” development following the Bessel beam principle, including this one:

which was accompanied by this Russell Tate/Getty Imagest image:

An earlier New Scientist piece (3 March 2011) highlighted the Chinese connection: http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn20193-treklike-tractor-beam-is-possible.html

(This image accompanied the March 2011 New Scientist article)

Now Jun Chen of Fudan University in Shanghai, China, and colleagues, have shown that it is possible to create exotic beams that would pull rather than push on an object. For tiny particles with dimensions of a thousandth of a millimetre or so, this would result in the particle being drawn back towards the beam.

Hmm … I wonder what inspired them? Perhaps the Zhao Xu and General Li 1998 UFO observation? Seems to me that maybe someone within our more clandestine scientific community is already trawling through “solid light” UFO cases?

The “solid light” phenomenon is gaining scientific value in the laboratory as in the actual “slowing down” of light in crystals and heavy gases using diffuse lasers.

All in all, I think that the answer to the UFO issue lies in finding the answer to quantum entanglement, brane theory and linking of parallel universes at a practical level.

SOLID LIGHTS and the neglected UFO SCIENCE LEGACY

Hat tip to The Anomalist.

Advanced Oort Cloud Civilisations?

From Centauri Dreams:

Jules Verne once had the notion of a comet grazing the Earth and carrying off a number of astounded people, whose adventures comprise the plot of the 1877 novel Off on a Comet. It’s a great yarn that was chosen by Hugo Gernsback to be reprinted as a serial in the first issues of his new magazine Amazing Stories back in 1926, but with a diameter of 2300 kilometers, Verne’s comet was much larger than anything we’ve actually observed. Comets tend to be small but they make up for it in volume, with an estimated 100 billion to several trillion thought to exist in the Oort Cloud. All that adds up to a total mass of several times the Earth’s.

Of course, coming up with mass estimates is, as with so much else about the Oort Cloud, a tricky business. Paul R. Weissman noted a probable error of about one order of magnitude when he produced the above estimate in 1983. What we are safe in saying is something that has caught Freeman Dyson’s attention: While most of the mass and volume in the galaxy is comprised of stars and planets, most of the area actually belongs to asteroids and comets. There’s a lot of real estate out there, and we’ll want to take advantage of it as we move into the outer Solar System and beyond.

Comets and Resources

Embedded with rock, dust and organic molecules, comets are composed of water ice as well as frozen gases like methane, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, ammonia and an assortment of compounds containing nitrogen, oxygen and sulfur. Porous and undifferentiated, these bodies are malleable enough to make them interesting from the standpoint of resource extraction. Richard P. Terra wrote about the possibilities in a 1991 article published in Analog:

This light fragile structure means that the resources present in the comet nuclei will be readily accessible to any human settlers. The porous mixture of dust and ice would offer little mechanical resistance, and the two components could easily be separated by the application of heat. Volatiles could be further refined through fractional distillation while the dust, which has a high content of iron and other ferrous metals, could easily be manipulated with magnetic fields.

Put a human infrastructure out in the realm of the comets, in other words, and resource extraction should be a workable proposition. Terra talks about colonies operating in the Oort Cloud but we can also consider it, as he does, a proving ground for even deeper space technologies aimed at crossing the gulf between the stars. Either way, as permanent settlements or as way stations offering resources on millennial journeys, comets should be plentiful given that the Oort Cloud may extend half the distance to Alpha Centauri. Terra goes on:

Little additional crushing or other mechanical processing of the dust would be necessary, and its fine, loose-grained structure would make it ideal for subsequent chemical processing and refining. Comet nuclei thus represent a vast reservoir of easily accessible materials: water, carbon dioxide, ammonia, methane, and a variety of metals and complex organics.

Energy by Starlight

Given that comets probably formed on the outer edges of the solar nebula, their early orbits would have been more or less in the same plane as the rest of the young system, but gravitational interactions with passing stars would have randomized their orbital inclinations, eventually producing a sphere of the kind Jan Oort first postulated back in 1950. Much of this is speculative, because we have little observational evidence to go on, but the major part of the cometary shell probably extends from 40,000 to 60,000 AU, while a projected inner Oort population extending from just beyond the Kuiper Belt out to 10,000 AU may have cometary orbits more or less in the plane of the ecliptic. Out past 10,000 AU the separation between comets is wide, perhaps about 20 AU, meaning that any communities that form out here will be incredibly isolated.

Kuiper_oort

Image: An artist’s rendering of the Kuiper Belt and Oort Cloud. Credit: NASA/Donald K. Yeomans.

Whether humans can exploit cometary resources this far from home will depend on whether or not they can find sources of energy. In a paper called “Fastships and Nomads,” presented at the Conference on Interstellar Migration held at Los Alamos in 1983, Eric Jones and Ben Finney give a nod to non-renewable energy sources like deuterium, given that heavy elements like uranium will be hard to come by. Indeed, a typical comet, in Richard Terra’s figures, holds between 50,000 and 100,000 metric tons of deuterium, enough to power early settlement and mining.

But over the long haul, Jones and Finney are interested in keeping colonies alive through renewable resources, and that means starlight. The researchers talk about building vast mirrors using aluminum from comets, with each 1 MW mirror about the size of the continental United States. Now here’s a science fiction setting with punch, as the two describe it:

Although the mirrors would be tended by autonomous maintenance robots, the nomads would have to live nearby in case something went wrong… Although we could imagine that the several hundred people who could be supported by the resources of a single comet might live in a single habitat, the mirrors supporting that community would be spread across about 150,000 km. Trouble with a mirror or robot on the periphery of the mirror array would mean a long trip, several hours at least. It would make more sense if the community were dispersed in smaller groups so that trouble could be reached in a shorter time. There are also social reasons for expecting the nomad communities to be divided into smaller co-living groups.

Jones and Finney go on to point out that humans tend to work best in groups of about a dozen adults, whether in the form of hunter/gatherer bands, army platoons, bridge clubs or political cells. This observation of behavior leads them to speculate that bands of about 25 men, women and children would live together in a large habitat — think again of an O’Neill cylinder — built out of cometary materials, from which they would tend a mirror farm with the help of robots and computers. Each small group would tend a mirror farm perhaps 30,000 kilometers across.

The picture widens beyond this to include the need for larger communities that would occasionally come together, helping to avoid the genetic dangers of inbreeding and providing a larger social environment. Thus we might have about 500 individuals in clusters of 20 cometary bands which would stay in contact and periodically meet. Jones and Finney consider the band-tribe structure to be the smallest grouping that seems practical for any human community. Who would such a community attract — outcasts, dissidents, adventurers? And how would Oort Cloud settlers react to the possibility of going further still, to another star?

While by no means is this is a new theory, ( note the Jules Verne story ), it presents the scenario of the very slow spreading of intelligent biological life through-out the Galaxy ( see Slow Galactic Colonization, Zoo Hypothesis and the Fermi Paradox ).

Now here’s a thought; could a potential alien Oort Cloud civilization be the basis of the Ancient Astronaut Theory and the legends of the Sumerian Gods, the Anunnaki?

There’s no hard evidence of that of course, but there are Pluto-sized and larger objects in the Kuiper Belt glowing in the infrared, a sign that was said to represent a Dyson Sphere type civilisation.

Either these are natural objects such as Brown Dwarf stars, or potential alien civilisations whom don’t care whether they are detected in the infrared or not.

And that’s disturbing.

Original article.

Crowl Space article

The Invisible Invaders

From starpod.us:

(STARpod.us) — Imagine this, then pretend it isn’t real.

Professor Stephen Hawking was right, contact with an extraterrestrial alien civilization might be the end of us — but he was wrong about one thing: it is too late to avoid contact with ultra-intelligent extraterrestrial aliens.

They are here, now, and living with you, perhaps within you, in your home.

And their actions are utterly invisible.

Worse still, every human thought, every human response to this invisible terror is already known and is shared across an intergalactic telepathic mind-to-mind based Internet.

The above may sound like a science fiction tale, however the reality may be worse than our most feared imaginings.

To enter into this “Twilight Zone” of darkness we simply accept that the brief history of human scientific and technological evolution points to an ever-greater penetration of the human mind — and the probability, given the unfathomable vastness of eternity currently predicted by our best theories of the universe and beyond, of intelligent minds beyond our own.

Our deepest, inner thoughts and experiences are going to be turned inside out upon the world.

We enter this virtual reality with an understanding that an encounter with alien intelligence beyond our own is something we may not even recognize, if and when it happens.

And according to sources, some who have held high positions within the U.S. government, close encounters have already taken place.

It is this unseen, largely unheard and secret presence that haunts us like a secret society from the great beyond. Probing our actions — even before they are taken — the vast and disturbingly alien mind behind this unstoppable terror of invisible things surrounds us, watching and waiting, like an invisible guardian in a cosmic conspiracy written eons before our time.

The cover story for contact with this deeply disturbing intelligence was written in Hollywood: extraterrestrial biological entities arrived on Earth in flying saucers and maybe they even crashed a disk or two, which were later recovered by the government.

It is this wrap-over story that has been spread by a handful of former CIA-types including the recent revelation by Chase Brandon. According to Brandon, bodies and wreckage (presumably of an extraterrestrial alien origin) were indeed recovered in Roswell, New Mexico. Others have hinted of some deeply buried truth underlying the saucer tales, based upon hearsay from their more senior colleagues in intelligence. And this, so we are told, goes all the way to the top, coming from at least a handful of former CIA Directors.

But is there really any truth in the tales? At a minimum, we should begin our exploration of the unstoppable terror of invisible things with a brief examination of down-to-earth technologies from human sources. We will, for the time being, ignore that other Hollywood-inspired meme claiming the most advanced human technologies of the 21st century owe their existence to reverse engineered extraterrestrial technology.

There are other stories of possible relevance, tales of invisible things that sometimes show their face  in brief and mysterious ways. They sometimes seem to speak to select groups of human beings, in particular scientific types, using a form of direct mind-to-mind communication.

Mental radio has been an essential element of the pop culture for decades, and once again appears to be just another meme invented in the fantasy of a Hollywood writer’s imagination. The situation is further complicated by the countless number of persons who have self-experimented on the core physical structure of the human mind — the brain — by ingesting a wide variety of chemical substances known to create hallucinatory effects.

Invisible things do not always remain visible: there are other stories and sometimes grainy and poorly photographed images of manifestations of unusual phenomena popping in and out of our consensus reality. Other highly questionable reports include observations of ordinary material objects moving under the force of an unseen source. Several persons I know have related to me stories of so-called psychokinetic motion, including one person who told me of a misadventure involving knives that were picked up off of a table and flung with extreme force into the wall. In this particular story, it was reported that the environment changed mysteriously prior to the psychokinetic event, and even space and time seemed distorted in some inexplicable manner.

Psychokinesis was once a concern for American intelligence agencies and their political handlers in Congress (and this is confirmed within the declassified government record). Once upon a time they even feared psychokinetic hacking of America’s missile arsenal launch codes.

Invisibility is no longer bound to the imaginative world of sorcerer Harry Potter. As physicists look deeper into the nature of quantum reality they are gradually realizing new and clever ways around what was once assumed to be insurmountable obstacles. The late Arthur C. Clarke, author of “2001: A Space Odyssey” is often referenced for having said any sufficiently advanced technology appears (on the surface to those who do not understand it) to be magic.

Cracking through the barriers of human ignorance and human fantasy does not come easily. But if we are indeed facing an unstoppable terror of invisible things — real, physical forces under intelligent guidance — then we need to prepare a response.

We are challenged in this effort by the anthropocentric nature of the human mind: Is is really possible to envision truly alien sources and methods? Or are we confined to describing the extraterrestrial alien droning of America?

Bekkum makes many valid points about possible alien interference with we human beings on Earth; the most important point is the immaterial way the interference would take place. No flying saucers, triangles or spheres need apply.

Remote control of human beings, i.e., possession, ( or avatars ) via of “mental telepathy” for lack of a better term, would be preferable to outright invasion and destroying turf. Especially if proxy colonization or species manipulation is part and parcel of the alien’s overall strategies.

Unstoppable terror of invisible things

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