Monthly Archives: December, 2010

Binnall of America: Christmas Annual With Stanton Friedman

Tim Binnall, that most erudite host of Binnall of America “dot com”, broadcasted his Christmas Annual with guest Stanton Friedman on December 23rd and discussed the usual fare; UFOs, MJ-12, nuclear physics, mainstream science his new book and takes email questions from the audience.

Tim outdoes himself with his early season picks usually and this show is one of his best. It’s hard to follow up his season(s) opener, who’s Tex Marrs.

And Stan Friedman fits the bill.

Season Six Christmas Annual With Stan Friedman

The Paracast: “In Search of the Men In Black”

This past Sunday (12/26/10) Gene Steinberg and co-hosts Chris O’Brien and Greg Bishop speak with Tim “Mr. UFO” Beckley , Claudia Cunningham, and T. Allen Greenfield about the ubiquitous “Men In Black” (not the movies) and the role they play in the paranormal.

As a subject, I know very little about the Men In Black, except what they do in the “Fringe” TV series. Theories go from government agents to servants of the grays. Listen to the podcast and decide for yourselves.

In Search of the Men In Black Roundtable

Faster Not Better?

When talking about interstellar probes in the mainstream, the matter of speed always come up. Usually that speed is the speed of light, and how at the present we can’t obtain that with our current state of rocket technology.

But at Paul Gilster’s Centauri Dreams blog, ideas flow like clear, clean water. And the optimism in the comments column is forever present:

We spend a lot of time talking about how to get an interstellar probe up to speed. But what happens if we do achieve a cruise speed of 12 percent of the speed of light, as envisioned by the designers who put together Project Daedalus back in the 1970s? Daedalus called for a 3.8-year period of acceleration that would set up a 46-year cruise to its target, Barnard’s Star, some 5.9 light years away. That’s stretching mission duration out to the active career span of a researcher, but it’s a span we might accept if we could be sure we’d get good science out of it.

Maximizing the Science Return

But can we? Let’s assume we’re approaching a solar system at 12 percent of c and out there orbiting the target star is a terrestrial planet, just the sort of thing we’re hoping to find. Assume for the sake of argument that the probe crosses the path of this object at approximately ninety degrees to its orbital motion trajectory. As Kelvin Long shows in a recent post on the Project Icarus blog, the encounter time, during which serious observations could be made, is less than one second. A Jupiter-class world, much larger and observable from a greater distance, itself offers up something less than ten seconds at best for scientific scrutiny.

That’s a paltry return on decades of construction and flight time, not to mention the probable trillion or more dollars it would take to build such a probe, and it hardly compares well to what we’ll be able to achieve with even ground-based telescopes as the next generation of optics becomes available. What to do? Long is looking into these issues as part of the Project Icarus team, which is revisiting the Daedalus concept to see how changing technologies could alter the flight profile and produce a mission whose results would be substantially more useful.

Image: The Daedalus starship arrives in the Barnard’s Star system. Credit and copyright: Adrian Mann.

One option is to do the unthinkable. Instead of ramping up flight speed to get to the destination more quickly, perhaps a better alternative is to slow the mission down. There are two ways to do this: 1) Aim for a slower cruise speed in the first place and/or 2) attempt to decelerate the vehicle. The latter choice is a genuine conundrum for reasons Long makes clear:

Another option being examined [for deceleration] is reverse engine thrust, but the problem with this is that if we assume an equal acceleration-deceleration profile then the mass ratio scales as squared compared to a flyby mission and so requires an enormous amount of propellant; definitely a turn-off for a design team seeking efficient solutions.

What this boils down to is that if you want to carry enough propellant to turn your spacecraft around and decelerate, you have to carry that additional propellant with you from the start of the mission. The rocket equation yields a stubborn result — the requirement for propellant increases not proportionally but exponentially in relation to the final velocity required. The initial fuel mass becomes vast beyond comprehension when we apply the numbers to slowing an interstellar craft, which is why the Icarus team, as it looks into deceleration, is examining ideas like magsails, where the incoming vehicle can brake against the star’s stellar wind.

A magsail or, for that matter, various other sail possibilities (Robert Forward described decelerating a manned interstellar vehicle by lightsail in his novel Rocheworld) offers the unique advantage of leaving the fuel out of the spacecraft — you’re braking against a stellar particle flux, or against starlight itself. But whether or not such ideas prove feasible, they’re more likely to at least help if the spacecraft is traveling slower to begin with, making it easier to decelerate further. A slower transit also reduces stress on the vehicle’s engines and structure during the boost phase.

The Case Against Going Faster

Long notes that Project Icarus is far from having answers on just what cruise speed will be optimal — Icarus is a work in progress. But these issues are at the heart of the interstellar quest:

…all of this analysis goes to the heart of whether a flyby probe such as Daedalus is really useful given what it took to get there. The potential science return is massively amplified by performing a deceleration of the vehicle and although it is a significant engineering challenge this is why the Icarus team decided to address this problem; and it is a problem, even if you choose to just decelerate sub-probes. Coming up with a viable solution to the deceleration problem in itself would justify Project Icarus and the five years it took to complete the design process.

Supposing you gave up on trying to stop the probe in the destination system, but simply made your goal to slow it down enough to make protracted scientific observations as it passed through? It’s clearly an option, and again we’re considering a trade-off between the shortest travel time and the ability to maximize science return. Interstellar flight is a challenge so daunting that it makes us question all our assumptions, not the least of which has always been that faster is better. Not necessarily so, the Icarus team now speculates, and perhaps a fusion/magsail hybrid vehicle will emerge, a significant upgrade from the Daedalus design. And this reminds me of something I wrote about magsails back in 2004 in my Centauri Dreams book:

At destination, a magnetic sail is our best way to slow [the] probe down, with perhaps a separate solar sail deployment at the end that can brake the vessel into Centauri orbit. If you had to bet on the thing — if the human race decided a fast probe had to be launched and was willing to commit the resources to do so within the century — this is where the near-term technology exists to make it happen.

Of course, I now look back on that passage and shudder at my use of the phrase ‘near-term’ to describe the vehicle in question, but maybe a very loose definition of ‘near-term’ to mean ‘within the next few centuries’ will suffice (hey, I’m an optimist). In any case, when we’re talking journeys of forty trillion kilometers (the distance to the nearest stellar system) and more, a century or two seems little enough to ask. And while I do believe this, I rejoice at the spirit of Project Icarus, whose team presses on to discover whether such a thing could be attempted in an even shorter time-frame.

One commenter especially had a rather unique take on interstellar sample taking that reminded me of  the late Mac Tonnies’ theory of UFOs (..like a cat chasing after a flash-light beam)…

“…

Is there anyway to have an active sensing solar focus telescope? How big would a radio transmitter (for example) have to be to perform a scan at that distance using the sloar focus to amplify the return signal?
Ok we still have no sample return, but we don’t get that with a flyby either. However one thing a probe could still do better than an active sensing system is learn more about its environment by interactin with it. Its had to concieve of a system that would allow anything but the very crudest interaction from a distance over interstellar distances.

So, moving on…. There is the idea of a giant ‘space tentacle’. Rather than sending one microprobe, send one microprobe followwed by a string of micro relay stations, to get around the problem of data return to Earth. If it is concevable to decellarate a microprobe then perhabs a bridge of tiny relay stations, like a tentacle with sense organs at the tip, could be strung between our solar system and the target star? However we are talking about a huge distance, and each relay station will have limited power due to their size…. we may need a hell of a lot of them.

Perhaps we can progress by rethinking the physical nature of the probe. The structure and functions of a probe are essentially information, stored by the matter that makes up the probe in its shape and composition. Dusty plasmas have been theoretically shown to support behavoir complex enough to qualify as simple life (here: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/08/070814150630.htm )…if it can be used to make simple life then why not a space probe? I don’t exactly have a design plan for one, but that involves no fundamental breakthroughs in physics, only breakthroughs in plasma control. The mass of such a construction could be close to negligable – its a cloud of well organised plasma with a few dust particles in. And if the mass is near negligable it may be possible to carry out a nearly (but not quite) negligable sample return mission – a few thousand atoms from a planets upper atmosphere, or a few particles of space dust from the target system perhaps. Enough maybe to provide a ‘ground truth’ for our telescopic observations. Of course I have no idea how such a thing could be built, powered, or how it wold function…..

What else could we build an exotic probe from? Nothing not totally sci fi (and I realise I’m already stretching the concept of non-scifi to breaking point) springs immediatly to mind. Which doesn’t mean there arent possibilities, just that they elude my cold adled brain right now.

Ok, how else could we get a ‘ground truth’?

Is there anyway we could, in a tiny way, get another star system to come to us? Well that may be a promising avenue of thought, as in a way this has already been accomplished: the stardust mission collected several grains believed to be of interstellar origin. We know that bits of our solar system are gettng blown into interstellar space all the time ; tiny particles of dust produced by collisions, scraps of planetary atmopsheres. Perhaps if we understand and map the interstellar medium well enough (a big job in itself) we could select points on our own solar systems outer edge to place collectors for material that we know is likely to have originated in a specific star system? Given the sparsity of material out there it would have to be a big collector, or a long term hunt – but even a one particle from, lets say, Bernards star could change our understanding of that system. Maybe something like a sensitive tracking station on the heliopause could look for solid particles, then ionise them with a well aimed laser pulse and bring them in with a magnetic field? Total speculation, and possibly total tosh to, I admit.”

Wouldn’t a native observer from that system see strange, glowing objects flitting around like so many fire-flies, breaking the laws of physics and disappearing magically?

Sure I might be stretching the comparison some, but you get the idea.

In the meantime, Gilster’s post might have some merit, if the endgame is parking the probe in the target system for good. I just don’t see the merits of a fly-by, however slow.

If a fly-by is the goal, we might as well build super-duper telescopes at the Sun’s maximum gravitational lensing effect and just observe the target system.

And manipulate the photons enough to grab a few alien atoms.

It’ll be cheaper.

The Problem with Speed

The Great False Wall of China

From io9’s Mad Science:

Scientists in China were able to make a “false wall” in an incredible demonstration of illusion optics. Find out why you shouldn’t believe your eyes anymore, thanks to physics.China has been in the business of building walls for a long, long time. Recently, they’ve added a new twist on an old plan. Instead of going to all the trouble of building a wall, they’re not building a wall and making people think they had. The wall, in this case, is pretty small. Most people wouldn’t notice the entire construction site. However, it’s the first time such a thing has been done, and so even if the wall is tiny, it’s remarkable.

The false wall is constructed leaving a small gap in a physical barrier. The gap is lined by two conductors in close proximity. One of those conductors is covered by a slab of meta-material that ‘bounces back’ electromagnetic radiation. Because of this “bounce back” electrons build up on the surface of the material, thicker and thicker.

When light (or in the case of the experiment, radio waves) comes plowing into the gap between the conductors, it cannot pass through the electrons. It rebounds, just as it would from a conventional wall. Although the experiment was done using radio waves, if it were done using photons a person looking at it would see an unbroken barrier.

Everyone involved with the project admits it’s a baby step. Technology to make it applicable to human-sized walls is several decades away. Still, it’s an important first step. This isn’t a hologram or a projection. It’s not a way to trick the eye, or the way the brain processes images. It’s a way to manipulate incoming electromagnetic waves into not ‘seeing’ a gap in a physical barrier. That’s something new.

Meta-material sounds too much like Greg Bear’s “false matter.”

Another “invention” that has science-fiction roots.

Jules Verne would be proud.

The physics experiment that will one day let you walk through walls

hat tip

Lloyd Pye: In Defense of Zecharia Sitchin

From Paranormal Utopia:

Zecharia Sitchin was an author famous for “The Earth Chronicles” series of books about the writings of the ancient Sumerians (circa 5,000 years ago) as he interpreted them. He was one of perhaps 200 people in the world, if that many, who could translate cuneiform, the symbolic language of the Sumerians. His work has been very influential on my own.

A Message From Lloyd Pye


Since the death of Zecharia Sitchin on Oct. 9, 2010, his critics have come out in droves on the internet to try to trash his work and his legacy. Because of my well-known regard for his work, which I heavily incorporated in Part IV of my book Everything You Know Is Wrong, several people have asked me to come to Zecharia’s defense now that he can no longer do it himself in the vigorous way he was known for. With that said, here is my nutshell defense of his work against any and all criticisms. It is simple and it is true. Please feel free to share it with others on the internet, and/or use it to respond to any critic you care to address:

Anyone who says Zecharia Sitchin is a fraud or mistaken in his translations of Sumerian texts, or anything in that vein, is busily grinding a heavily worn axe. They base all of their complaints on the fact that in certain key areas of the Sumerian writings, he deviates markedly from the “classical” translations, the vast majority of which were completed before 1947, before the terms “UFO” or “alien” came into common usage.

When the early translators came upon passages that could have been and should have been interpreted the way Sitchin interpreted them, they had no conceivable frame of reference for such terminology. Thus, they shoehorned it to fit into their own restricted world views, and because this nonsense was created by “experts” of that time, modern experts are inevitably brainwashed by their education process to believe no other translation is needed, much less preferable.

This intellectual claptrap has become established as the “preferred” and “accepted” translations that critics claim Stichin should have respected and stuck with in the way they are obligated to do. Sitchin rightly jettisoned the nonsense and translated the texts more like they were actually written, calling an alien an alien, so to speak, and this gross offense to modern academic sensibilities is what classic scholars consider a sacrilege to their mindset.

I have no doubt that, in the fullness of time, historians will consider Zecharia Sitchin vastly more correct than any mainstream pundit alive at this moment. Why? Because modern scholars endure years of intense training that forces them to consider the work of prior scholars sacrosanct, which produces a virtual army of close-minded sycophants who, ultimately, will be dismissed as laughably wrong.

Sitchin, who passed away October 9th of this year, was a major promoter of a version of “Ancient Astronaut Theory” that centered on the ancient Sumerian civilization in what is now Iraq.

Because of his work, whether one believes in his theory or not, the global interest in the Sumerians has increased to the point where their culture is regarded on par with the ancient Egyptians (In fact Sumerian culture was older).

I hope Pye’s kind words about Sitchin are prophetic. But I think he’ll have to wait for the current mainstreamers die off first.

In Defense of Zecharia Sitchin

Horse Shoe Shaped UFOs

Here’s something you don’t see every day, horse shoe shaped UFOs.

Here’s a disclaimer though, the first video could be CGI and the second could be the planet Venus. Both are interesting.

Horse Shoe UFO Seen From A Plane

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Fiery Horse Shoe UAP Seen From The Ground

The embedding code was removed, click on above link.

Hat tip

 

Soyuz Launch To I.S.S. 12/15/10

Expedition 25 launch on a Russian Soyuz rocket happened yesterday at 2:09:25 p.m. EST to the International Space Station. One Italian, one Russian and one American was on the flight and will live on the space station for six months.

I would like to try it once just to see if I could do it.

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http://www.space.com/missionlaunches/soyuz-spacecraft-launches-station-crew-101215.html

hat tip

Louisiana Zombie Photo Viral Marketing

From Mysterious Universe:

Recently at my blog The Gralien Report, I took a moment to touch on a story pertaining to a strange trail camera photo, supposedly obtained near New Orleans, Louisiana. The strange image seemed to depict an emaciated, naked, pale-skinned humanoid with large “bug eyes” somewhat resembling a stereotypical “gray alien,” who was leering at the camera.

According to the anonymous individual who obtained the photograph, the camera itself was destroyed (presumably by the creature), but after extracting the memory card from the device, he was shocked to find the strange creature in the last photo the camera had taken.

I found this story interesting right off the bat, since earlier this year Mysterious Universe readers may recall an article I featured here called Lens Flare: Year of the Trail Camera UFOs. The piece detailed a number of incidents involving the way strange phenomena are occasionally captured using motion-sensitive trail cameras used by hunters and wildlife photographers. Though in most every instance the anomalies in question were proven to have fairly mundane explanations, the creature I referenced above, as seen in this recent photograph, is obviously one of two things: a hoax (most likely), or perhaps it is some odd looking “being.” But could there yet prove to be a deeper modus operandi for this curious case of a cold-weather critter in the American South? Perhaps so… at least according to some.

While the astute Loren Coleman of Cryptomundo provides information suggesting the veracity of one of the photo’s supposed locations (all the while linking to photographs that, to me, clearly show digital manipulation was involved), elsewhere a few bloggers have begun to assert that this weird image may actually be part of a “viral marketing campaign” for the upcoming J.J. Abrams film Super 8, which presumably deals with some form of uber-secret government project pertaining to aliens. The websiteio9, quoting MovieWeb, has said the photo is indeed associated with marketing for the Abrams film:

Now, a strange photo has come forward, which is purported to be from Super 8. It first appeared on Wildgame Innovation’s Facebook page. It is a picture reportedly snapped by a deer hunter on a reserve in Berwick, near Morgan City, Louisianna. It was originally being passed off as real, but now inside sources close to the production say its actually a viral image from Super 8.

Of course, none of the inside sources are named, nor can their testimony be confirmed. An earlier post at MovieWeb featured a slightly different take on the monster alleged to appear in the Super 8 film, although this looks curiously like the style of a well known graphic artist who received notoriety a few years ago after paintings surfaced on the web depicting his own speculation as to how the monster might appear in Abram’s last mysterious monster flick, Cloverfield. The drawings, if anything, might have made for a better monster than the one appearing in the completed film; but unfortunately bore no resemblance to the famous “Cloverfield monster.” What cannot be argued, however, is director Abrams’ tendency to go out of his way to create buzz for his films using viral marketing… does this circumstance involving an alleged “swamp monster” represent nothing more than the same, or was this ghoulish image actually a part of a different scheme to pull the wool over the eyes of unsuspecting Fortean researchers?

In the meantime, you may be interested in viewing the film’s trailer, made available at the Super 8 official movie website.

Man, I hate PhotoShop, you just can’t trust any kind of photographic “evidence” at any time anymore!

It wouldn’t surprise me at all this is viral marketing spread by YouTube. It’s cheap and quick.

I have to figure out an original way to get in on this racket!

Was Ghoulish Trail Camera “Zombie” a Publicity Stunt?

hat tip

Cryptoterrestrial in Louisiana

In the age of YouTube and photoshop, one must be leery of videos submitted as evidence anymore. But this little tidbit made the mainstream media (such as it is) in Louisiana where weird phenomena are common in the Bayou.

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This looks like one of the late Mac Tonnies’ classic cryptoterrestrials. Was Mac on the money?

Hat tip = http://www.redicecreations.com/

Paracast: The Kivas of Heaven

I was in an “Ancient Aliens” mood yesterday and caught up on some of the more recent Season 2 episodes on YouTube (and drove my wife nuts LOL). Some of them referenced the American desert Amerinds’ (Hopi, Apache, Ute, Navajo) legends of sky people and how they helped The People as they came out of the Earth to populate the world again after the destruction of the previous one (Hopi legends speak of the impending destruction of this one). Which leads into last night’s Paracast with Gene Steinberg and co-host Chris O’Brien as they interview researcher Gary A. David, author of “The Kivas of Heaven: Ancient Hopi Starlore” . In it David speaks of ancient desert Amerind legends and how they relate to other ancient cultures, specifically Ancient Egypt. Good show.

Paracast Interview with Gary A. David