Monthly Archives: March, 2013

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

International Spacecraft To Hit Asteroid in 2022

From Huffington Post:

Aida Mission

Scientists in Europe and the United States are moving forward with plans to intentionally smash a spacecraft into a huge nearby asteroid in 2022 to see inside the space rock.

The ambitious European-led Asteroid Impact and Deflection Assessment mission, or AIDA, is slated to launch in 2019 to send two spacecraft — one built by scientists in the U.S, and the other by the European Space Agency — on a three-year voyage to the asteroid Didymos and its companion. Didymos has no chance of impacting the Earth, which makes it a great target for this kind of mission, scientists involved in the mission said in a presentation Tuesday (March 19) here at the 44th annual Lunar and Planetary Science Conference.

Didymos is actually a binary asteroid system consisting of two separate space rocks bound together by gravity. The main asteroid is enormous, measuring 2,625 feet (800 meters) across. It is orbited by a smaller asteroid  about 490 feet (150 m).

The Didymos asteroid setup is an intriguing target for the AIDA mission because it will give scientists their first close look at a binary space rock system while also yielding new insights into ways to deflect dangerous asteroids that could pose an impact threat to the Earth. [Photos of Potentially Dangerous Asteroids]

“Binary systems are quite common,” said Andy Rivkin, a scientist at Johns Hopkins’ Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md., working on the U.S. portion of AIDA project. “This will be our first rendezvous with a binary system.”

In 2022, the Didymos asteroids will be about 6.8 million miles (11 million km) from the Earth, during a close approach, which is why AIDA scientists have timed their mission for that year.

Rivkin and his colleagues at Johns Hopkins’ Applied Physics Laboratory are building DART (short for Double Asteroid Redirection Test), one of the two spacecraft making up the tag team AIDA mission. Like its acronym suggests, the DART probe crash directly into the smaller Didymos asteroid while travelling at 14,000 mph (22,530 km/h), creating a crater during an impact that will hopefully sending the space rock slightly off course, Rivkin said.

The European Space Agency is building the second AIDA spacecraft, which is called the Asteroid Impact Monitor (or AIM). AIM will observe the impact from a safe distance, and the probe’s data will be used with other data collected by telescopes on Earth to understand exactly what the impact did to the asteroid.

“AIM is the usual shoebox satellite,” ESA researcher Jens Biele,  who works on the AIM spacecraft, said. “It’s nothing very fancy.”

AIDA scientists hope their mission will push the smaller Didymos asteroid off course by only a few millimeters. The small space rock orbits the larger, primary Didymos asteroid once every 12 hours.

The goal, Rivkin said, is to use the DART impact as a testbed for the most basic method of asteroid deflection: a direct collision with a spacecraft.  If the mission is successful, it could have implications for how space agencies around the world learn how to deflect larger, more threatening asteroid that could pose a threat to Earth, he added.

At the moment, AIDA researchers are not sure of the exact composition of the Didymos asteroids. They could just be a loose conglomeration of rocks travelling together through the solar system, or made of much denser stuff.

But once DART impacts the asteroid, scientists will be able to measure how much the asteroid’s orbit is affected as well as classify its surface composition, Rivkin said. And by studying how debris floats outward from the impact site after the crash, researchers could also better prepare for the conditions astronauts may encounter during future manned missions to asteroids — such as NASA’s project to send astronauts to an asteroid by 2025, he added.

The AIDA mission’s AIM space craft is expected to cost about 150 million euros (about $194 million), while the DART spacecraft is slated to cost about $150 million, mission officials said.

While the DART and AIDA missions are relatively inexpensive ( $150 and $194 million respectively ) private companies such as Planetary Resources and Deep Space Industries don’t just plan on impacting asteroids, they plan on mining the crap out of them.

The question is whether these companies are willing to wait on the science to be obtained by these government probes in order to save them money on research.

Asteroid Deflection Mission AIDA Set To Crash Two Spacecraft Into Space Rock In 2022

Our Sun, No Fusion There?

From thunderbolts.info:

Latest image of the quiet Sun from the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) satellite (March 25, 2013). Credit: ESA/NASA

[…]

Almost 70 years ago, Dr. C. E. R. Bruce offered a new hypothesis about the Sun. Being an electrical researcher, as well as an astronomer, Bruce proposed that the Sun was a discharge phenomenon:

“It is not coincidence that the photosphere has the appearance, the temperature and spectrum of an electric arc; it has arc characteristics because it is an electric arc, or a large number of arcs in parallel. These arcs quickly result in the neutralization of the accumulated space charge in their neighbourhood and go out. They are not therefore stable discharges, but may rather be looked upon as transient sparks. Arcs thus continually appear and disappear. It is this coming and going which accounts for the observed granulation of the solar surface.” (A New Approach in Astrophysics and Cosmogony ByC. E. R. Bruce)

Years later, in 1972, the late Ralph Juergens wrote a series of articles suggesting that the Sun is not an isolated body, but is the most electrically active object in the solar system—the focus of a radial electric field extending outward almost to the next star system. Juergens was the first one to link electricity in the Solar System to the galactic circuit and to theorize that the Sun might have an external power source.

In the electric Sun hypothesis, the Sun is an anode, or positively charged terminal. As previously mentioned, the cathode is an invisible “virtual cathode,” called the heliopause, at the farthest limit of the Sun’s coronal discharge, millions of kilometers from its surface. This is the double layer that isolates the Sun’s plasma cell from the galactic plasma that surrounds it.

In the Electric Universe model, the voltage difference between the Sun and the galaxy occurs across the heliopause boundary sheath. Inside the heliopause the weak, constant electric field centered on the Sun is enough to power the solar discharge. The visible component of the glow discharge occurs above the solar surface in layers.

In the chromosphere, at 500 kilometers above the surface, the coldest temperature exists: 4400 Kelvin. At the top of the chromosphere, 2200 kilometers up, the temperature rises to about 20,000 Kelvin. It then jumps by hundreds of thousands of Kelvin, slowly continuing to rise, eventually reaching 2 million Kelvin in the corona. The Sun’s reverse temperature gradient agrees with the glow discharge model, but contradicts the idea of nuclear fusion.

The discovery that a “solar wind” escapes the Sun at between 400 and 700 kilometers per second was a surprise for the nuclear theory. In a gravity-driven Universe, the Sun’s heat and radiation pressure are insufficient to explain how the particles of the solar wind accelerate past Venus, Earth and the rest of the planets. Since they are not rocket powered particles, no one expected such acceleration.

According to the Electric Sun theory, an electric field focused on the Sun accelerates charged particles: the faster they move, the stronger the field. But as noted, the interplanetary electric field is extremely weak. No instrument would be able to measure the voltage differential across 100 meters, but the solar wind acceleration over tens of millions of kilometers does confirm the Sun’s e-field, enough to sustain a drift current across the Solar System. Within the spatial volume, the implied current is sufficient to power the Sun.

In 1979, Earl Milton composed a paper titled, The Not So Stable Sun in which he wrote:”In order to maintain a stable sheath between the photosphere and the corona a great many electrons must flow downward through the sheath for each ion which passes upward. The solar gas shows an increasing percentage of ionized-to-neutral atoms with altitude. Some of the rising neutral atoms become ionized by collision. Some fall back to the solar surface. The rising ions ascend into the corona where they become the solar wind. The descending gas flows back to the Sun between the granules—in these channels the electrical field is such that ions straying out from the sides of the photospheric tufts flow sunward, and hence the electrons flow outward. The presence of these channels is critical to the maintenance of the solar discharge”

I don’t really know much about the Electric Universe Theory, but it’s a refreshing alternative to the mainstream stuff that is put out there today with it’s invisisble “dark matter” and “dark energy” that make up 95% of the Universe supposedly.

Electric Sunbeams

Did Voyager 1 Leave The Solar System?

From nytimes.com:

For about three hours on Wednesday, Voyager 1 had left the solar system — before a rewritten news release headline pulled it back in. Voyager 1, one of two spacecraft NASA launched in 1977 on a grand tour of the outer planets, is now nearly 11.5 billion miles from the Sun, speeding away at 38,000 miles per hour. In a paper accepted by the journal Geophysical Review Letters, William R. Webber of New Mexico State University and Frank B. McDonald of the University of Maryland reported that on Aug. 25 last year, the spacecraft observed a sudden change in the mix of cosmic rays hitting it.

Cosmic rays are high-speed charged particles, mostly protons. Voyager 1’s instruments recorded nearly a doubling of cosmic rays from outside the solar system, while the intensity of cosmic rays that had been trapped in the outer solar system dropped by 90 percent.

The American Geophysical Union, publisher of the journal, sent out the news Wednesday morning: “Voyager 1 has left the solar system.” NASA officials, surprised, countered with a contrary statement from Edward C. Stone, the Voyager project scientist. “It is the consensus of the Voyager science team that Voyager 1 has not yet left the solar system or reached interstellar space,” Dr. Stone said. He said that the critical indicator would be a change in the direction of the magnetic field, not cosmic rays, for marking the outermost boundary of the solar system. In their paper, Dr. Webber and Dr. McDonald (who died only six days after Voyager observed the shift in cosmic rays) did not claim that Voyager 1 was in interstellar space, but had entered a part of the solar system they called the “heliocliff.” The geophysical union then sent out another e-mail with the same article but a milder headline: “Voyager 1 has entered a new region of space.”

Eventually Voyager 1 will leave the Solar System and there will be no dispute about it.

In the meantime, mainstream science will learn and post about the outer edges of the Solar System as Voyager 1 creeps along at .00002 lightspeed ( 37,500 mph ) .

Of course there are those in mainstream media and science who believe that mankind will never leave the Solar System because they proclaim that spacecraft will never be built that go faster than that.

Already the Pluto probe New Horizon traveling at 54,500 mph is breaking Voyager’s speed record and will probably leave the Solar System before Voyager does!

I’m certain in 100 years star probes will be launched toward Alpha Centauri and Tau Ceti that reach appreciable percentages of lightspeed bypassing all of our old interplanetary probes and perhaps in several centuries, mankind’s interstellar colonies will be picking up these old probes to study them, like old time capsules!

Where’s Voyager 1? That Depends.

Hat tip to the Daily Grail.

Declassified CIA UFO Files

From starpod.us:

(Spies, Lies and Polygraph Tape) — The now infamous MJ-12 / MAJIC / Operation Majestic 12 Eisenhower Briefing Document, allegedly created to inform President Elect Dwight D. Eisenhower of contact with extraterrestrial visitors, is dated November  18, 1952.

CIA has been busy responding to the 25 Year Automatic Declassification Rule (don’t get too excited, as there are plenty of X25 Exemption paragraphs that have been redacted from the documents). Among the various releases are the “flying saucer” documents — and some of those documents have been converted into PDF format for easy viewing and archiving.

Of particular interest are the “Deputies’ Meeting” documents, which review the various topics discussed by senior CIA officials on a daily basis.

And among the topics of discussion in late 1952? The need to brief the U.S. President (Harry Truman) on the flying saucer problem.

For those interested in pursuing the real “flying saucer” material, here are a few items of possible interest, from CIA’s website, in PDF format:

Undated 1952 memo from CIA Director Smith to Psychological Strategy Board (PSB) on the flying saucer issue.

15 March 1949 United States Government Memorandum on the flying saucer problem

1 August 1952 preliminary evaluation of flying saucer problem.

18 August 1952 discussion of OSI briefing on flying saucers in the CIA Director’s Conference Room.

2 September 1952 CIA flying saucer sighting report.

11 September 1952 flying saucer threat assessment memorandum.

14 October 1952 Memorandum for the Record on the flying saucer problem

18 November 1952, same date as the alleged MJ-12 Eisenhower Briefing Document, mentions “the original 12″ — probably not a veiled secretly coded reference to Majestic 12 members, but a nice coincidence none-the-less for hard-core conspiracy buffs.

3 December 1952 Memorandum on the flying saucer problem.

4 December 1952 discussion of preparing an estimate (national intelligence estimate or NIE) for the president on flying saucers.

9 December 1952 FCC reports no interference from flying saucers to communications.

10 December 1952 CIA Director Smith requests memorandum on flying saucers to discuss with President Truman on 12 December 1952.

12 December 1952 discussion requesting delay for briefing then President Truman on the flying saucer issue.

25 March 1955 Memorandum on flying saucers and Air Force Project Blue Book.

10 October 1955 U.S. officials report flying saucer observed during travel in the U.S.S.R.

11 June 1957 on who is responsible at CIA for the flying saucer problem.

Some of the documents look authentic because they have the authentic dating regime; ex: 18 November 1952.

I know this because at one time during my own military service I handled memorandums and other documents that used that standard.

Also these documents are still redacted, Mr. Bekkum is correct about that.

Did the U.S. government conclude that these UFOs were nuts and bolts spacecraft piloted by real aliens?

I think they surmised so, but you be the judge when you peruse these documents.

CIA files: Washington vs. the flying saucers

Virtual Immortality

From kurzweil.ai:

Where their grandparents may have left behind a few grainy photos, a death certificate or a record from Ellis Island, retirees today have the ability to leave a cradle-to-grave record of their lives, The New York Times reports.

Two major forces are driving virtual immortality. The first and most obvious: inexpensive video cameras and editing programs, personal computers and social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

These technologies dovetail with a larger cultural shift recognizing the importance of ordinary lives. The shift is helping to redefine the concept of history, as people suddenly have the tools and the desire to record the lives of almost everybody.

The ancient problem that bedeviled historians — a lack of information — has been overcome. Unfortunately, it has been vanquished with a vengeance. The problem is too much information.

In response, a growing number of businesses and organizations have arisen during the last two decades to help people preserve and shape their legacy.

This reminds me of the Robin Williams film The Final Cut in which Williams works for a company that “edits” a deceased person’s life history recording before giving ( selling? ) it to the person’s family.

Which begs the question “Who has the right to edit a person’s, or event’s history?”

Hey, at least you can be virtually immortal

The Covert Mainstream

From mysteriousuniverse.org:

The late researcher of UFOs, Dr. J. Allen Hynek, once wrote that, “In one’s frustration it is all too easy to seize on an explanation of the “Men from Mars” variety and to ignore the many UFO features unaccounted for… We may be inadvertently and artificially increasing the significance of the conspicuous features while the part we ignore–or that which is not reported by the untrained witness–may contain the clue to the whole subject.”

I would also argue just as well that, in addition to part of the UFO enigma that remain hidden, there might be researchers in this field that do the same.

I recently attended the 2013 International UFO Congress as a speaker, as well as a panelist for a discussion with fellow researchers Stanton Friedman and Richard Dolan, where we discussed the state of ufology in the 21st century. The Congress, arguably the largest and most well-attended UFO conference anywhere in the world, is not only a proving ground for both the budding young researcher and the decades-in ufologist alike; it is also a breeding ground for new ideas and the formation of new hypotheses, which may eventually sow the seeds of new insight toward solving this enduring mystery.

International UFO Congress - Educating the World One Person at a Time

International UFO Congress – Educating the World One Person at a Time

And yet, while there is this obvious mainstream component to the UFO research community, there is another more clandestine arm of the community that is less active before the public eye… but not all things that are “secretive” are necessarily nefarious or part of some grand dark conspiracy. In truth, it may be within the humble confines of Ufology’s “Shadow Research Community” that some of the more innovative thinkers exist, working out problems behind the scenes that many point-and-click researchers of today might overlook altogether.

No doubt, a statement of this caliber might be enough to anger many prideful UFO researchers at large (although I would argue that most serious UFO researchers will learn early on to rid themselves of any pride, lest they be crushed by the seething sensationalism in the mainstream media, and their overt approach toward the UFO community in general). But again, the notion of their being an underlying academic element that persists behind the mainstream study of UFOs–if one could ever call UFO research “mainstream” at all–is nothing new.

French Ufologist and computer scientist Jacques Vallee in his book Alien Contact by Human Deception argued that there were many private UFO researchers in academic circles–perhaps a few hundred he knew and had worked with–that studied the UFO problem intently, but without doing so publicly. Vallee referred to this as being a sort of “Invisible College” that has continued serious scientific study of UFOs, despite the fact that since the late 1960s, Edward Condon and his University of Colorado UFO Project helped determine that once and for all, the UFO mystery would forever be pseudoscientific.

Hynek and Vallee

Hynek and Vallee

Indeed, the general study of UFOs has largely been pseudoscientific, in that the largest body of serious research spanning the last several decades has been carried out by civilians, and often those with little or no academic or technical training suited for study of the phenomenon. While this has often been a point of criticism by scientists the likes of Carl Sagan, Stephen Hawking, and many others, it also highlights yet another problem in the UFO field: the tendency for academics to push for debunking of UFO phenomenon or labeling it as pseudoscientific, while doing very little on their own accord to help further the serious scientific study of the phenomenon aside from waging an ongoing war of words.

Angela Joiner

Angela Joiner

To the credit of the academicians, it should be noted that to openly and publicly embrace the study of UFOs most often becomes equivalent to academic suicide in the Western world. There are many instances where professionals have been forced to choose between studying fringe subjects and maintaing a career by more conventional standards. Scientists such as Dean Radin, who lost his teaching position for openly discussing parapsychology, comes to mind, as well as members of the media like Angelia Joiner, who famously reported on the Stephenville, Texas UFO flap several years ago; the latter was eventually pinned into a position where she felt she had to resign as a reporter for the Stephenville Empire-Tribune, in order to be able to continue following the UFO story.

Altogether, the problem here is that UFO research, by virtue of the fringe or “kooky” subject matter it has often become directly associated with, warrants blacklisting among professionals (especially scientists, university professors, etc). In my own experience, I’ve had numerous interactions with those in academia who reach out to me, often under aliases at first, to express interest not just in UFO research, but to share their own ideas and findings (albeit covertly) from an academic standpoint. The reasons these individuals would reach out to ufologists at all most often has to do, in my experience, with a hope for finding someone who will allow them to plead their case, but also that they might be able to influence or steer with their own professional observations. On both counts, this is usually a good thing, as it allows the academics to find others who won’t be so openly critical with the treatment of fringy subject matter, but the less technically skilled civilian researcher also gains insight from members of the scientific community.

Thus, while there is certainly a “trickle down effect” with regard to academics who occasionally reveal tidbits of insight to the publicly known UFO researchers, it could be argued that some of the most plausible and interesting insights into the field of ufology may exist behind the scenes, in what Vallee dubbed a so-called “Invisible College.” Today, could we ever get a serious, ongoing academic discourse on UFOs back into mainstream scientific circles… or is this even something that could ever be afforded the modern UFO research community, with an ever-growing divide that is occurring between the “believer” and “skeptic” diametric?

I actually don’t find it odd that there are some “mainstream” scientists working on the UFO mystery on their own time. After all that is what Jacques Vallee and Stanton Freidman did before devoting their studies of UFOs full-time .

The late J. Allen Hynek was a little different, he waited until he had a government pension before becoming a convert to studying UFOs on a full-time scientific basis.

Believe it or not, it is this “covert mainstream” that is fueling SETI, astroarcheology, astrobiological and advanced propulsion technology research.

Or perhaps, it’s the “science-fiction” collective consciousness?

Behind The Scenes: Ufology’s Shadow Research Community

Hat tip to the Daily Grail.

Worldships and Planetary Chauvanism

From Centauri Dreams:

The assumptions we bring to interstellar flight shape the futures we can imagine. It’s useful, then, to question those assumptions at every turn, particularly the one that says the reason we will go to the stars is to find other planets like the Earth. The thought is natural enough, and it’s built into the exoplanet enterprise, for the one thing we get excited about more than any other is the prospect of finding small, rocky worlds at about Earth’s distance from a Sun-like star. This is what Kepler is all about. From an astrobiological perspective, this focus makes sense, as we want to know whether there is other life — particularly intelligent life — in the universe.

But interstellar expansion may not involve terrestrial-class worlds at all, though they would still remain the subject of intense study. Let’s assume for a moment that a future human civilization expands to the stars in worldships that take hundreds or even thousands of years to reach their destination. The occupants of these enormous vessels might travel in a tightly packed urban environment or perhaps in a much more ‘rural’ setting with Earth-like amenities. Many of them would live out their lives in transit, without the ability to be there at journey’s end. We can only speculate what kind of social structures might emerge around the ultimate mission imperative.

Moving Beyond a Planetary Surface

Humans who have grown up in a place that has effectively become their world are going to find its norms prevail, and the idea of living on a planetary surface may hold little interest. Isaac Asimov once wrote about what he called ‘planetary chauvinism,’ which falls back on something Eric M. Jones wrote back in the 1980s. Jones believed that people traveling to another star will be far more intent on mining asteroids and the moons of planets to help them build new habitats for their own expanding population. Stephen Ashworth, a familiar figure on Centauri Dreams, writes about what he calls ‘astro-civilizations,’ space-based cultures that focus on the material and energy resources of whatever system they are in rather than planets.

mann_worldship

Ashworth’s twin essays appear in a 2012 issue of the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society (citation below) that grew out of a worldship symposium held in 2011 at BIS headquarters in London. The entire issue is a wonderful contribution to the growing body of research on worldships and their uses. Ashworth points out that a planetary civilization like our own thinks in terms of planetary resources and, when looking toward interstellar options, naturally assumes the primary goal will be to locate new ‘Earths.’ A corollary is the assumption of rapid transport that mirrors the kind of missions used to explore our own Solar System.

Image: A worldship kilometers in length as envisioned by space artist Adrian Mann.

An astro-civilization is built on different premises, and evolves naturally enough from the space efforts of its forebears. Let me quote Ashworth on this:

“A space-based or astro-civilisation…is based on technologies which are an extension of those required on planetary surfaces, most importantly the design of structures which provide artificial gravity by rotation, and the ability to mine and process raw materials in microgravity conditions. In fact a hierarchical progression of technology development can be traced, in which each new departure depends upon all the previous ones, which leads ultimately to an astro-civilisation.

The technology development Ashworth is talking about is a natural extension of planetary methods, moving through agriculture and industrialization into a focus on the recovery of materials that have not been concentrated on a planetary surface, and on human adaptation not only to lower levels of gravity but to life in pressurized structures beginning with outposts on the Moon, Mars and out into the system. Assume sufficient expertise with microgravity environments — and this will come in due course — and the human reliance upon 1 g, and for that matter upon planetary surfaces, begins to diminish. Power sources move away from fossil fuels and gravitate toward nuclear and solar power sources usable anywhere in the galaxy.

Agriculture likewise moves from industrialized methods on planetary surfaces to hydroponic agriculture in artificial environments. Ashworth sees this as a progression taking our adaptable species from the African Savannah to the land surface of the entire Earth and on to the planets, from which we begin, as we master the wide range of new habitats becoming available, to adapt to living in space itself. He sees a continuation in the increase of population densities that took us from nomadic life to villages to cities, finally being extended into a fully urbanized existence that will flourish inside large space colonies and, eventually, worldships.

An interstellar worldship is, after all, a simple extension from a colony world that remains in orbit around our own star. That colony world, within which people can sustain their lives over generations, is itself an outgrowth of earlier technologies like the Space Station, where residence is temporary but within which new skills for adapting to space are gradually learned. Where I might disagree with Ashworth is on a point he himself raises, that the kind of habitats Gerard O’Neill envisioned didn’t assume high population densities at all, but rather an abundance of energy and resources that would make life far more comfortable than on a planet.

 

This reminds me of an old Analog article I read back in the 1970s by Larry Niven titled “Bigger Than Worlds” in which Niven gave several examples of structures that evolved into massive structures from interstellar vessels to Ringworlds and Dyson Sphere, all of which were safer than natural planets.

Of course this goes by the assumption if human goes by the “expansion” route, or the “evo devo” route proposed by Jon Smart.

Toward a Space-Based Civilization

 

 

Chavez Cancer Conspiracies

I was actually surprised to see this printed on a mainstream site, especially an investment publication.

From forbes.com:

Charismatic president Hugo Chavez, 58, died of respiratory complications caused by pelvic cancer on Tuesday evening in Venezuela.

Or did he?

The announcement of Chavez’s death came hours after vice president, and now interim president Nicolas Maduro, met with Venezuela’s top political leaders and military brass to discuss the president’s ever-worsening health condition. At the time, Maduro apparently suggested that someone may have deliberately infected Chavez with cancer or some other agent that made him deteriorate, according to CNN.  Maduro went so far as to call Chavez’s death an assassination, according to The Washington Post.

Stories of Chavez being essentially poisoned by the CIA have been around since his first tumor was reported back in 2011. Even controversial drama-loving Chavez himself wondered out loud if it were possible. To which the U.S State Department public affairs staff responded with a “that’s reprehensible”.  What else are they going to say? You caught us?

For the sake of argument, we can say Maduro said no such thing about Chavez. Does one actually get injected with cancer? I mean, even if you did, your immune system would have to already be compromised already.  We  have cancer cells floating in our bodies all the time. They get destroyed, hopefully, on a daily basis.

But since Chavez announced he was heading to Havana for cancer treatment, conspiracies of a U.S. involvement began immediately.  Chavez egged them on, if not outright got them rolling.

For those who can understand Spanish, this video of Chavez talking to the military questioned whether the U.S. was infecting rival leaders in Latin America with cancer.  He said he found it an odd coincidence that major leaders south of the border, from Brazil’s Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva to Dilma Rousseff, his handpicked successor, to the president of Argentina, Cristina Kirchner, all got cancer around the same time.  And now…it was Chavez’s turn.

“I find it very strange. It is hard to explain,” he says in the video.

Of course, most of this has fallen on deaf ears. Even the video itself got under 10,000 viewers.  And Hugo Chavez is, since Lula left office, the most famous politician in Latin America. He”s far from an unknown.  The conspiracy angle has not caught fire.

The death of Chavez did not really rally the left outside of his home base.  In Latin America, Lula was seen as the more charismatic, if not more practical leader of South America. Chavez was a firebrand, stoking Cold War rhetoric with Washington. As Latin American politics goes, Chavez was the anti-American.

So it is not surprising that here at home, the harshest critics of good, old fashion Yankee imperialism came out Wednesday in notes circulating in email in-boxes nationwide that Chavez may have been the victim of a U.S. plot to get rid of him once and for all.  And while the left in the United States send out Viva Chavez, Viva La Revolucion kudos to the most reviled leader in Washington other than Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the right wing, in their usual lust for kindness, is busy expression their sheer joy that the man is gone.

The Daily Caller wrote in an op ed by Christopher Bedford that “No, the U.S. didn’t kill Chavez. But we should have.”

Tea Party Republicans called him a tyrant, expressed relief that he was no longer a “force” to reckon with. Force quotes are mine, not his. Because, really, was Chavez a force to reckon with anywhere outside of Venezuela?

Meanwhile, there is a relative calm in Venezuela according to press reports and investment sources on the ground in Caracas.  The market expects Maduro to be elected within 30 days.

Unless the CIA gives him cancer.

Shhhh….

To see this printed in Forbes goes to show that even if there’s a hedge of truth to the “cancer” meme, the attitude of the public is “meh” and “What’s the deal ?” “The U.S. Government assassinates people on a daily basis.”

And goes to show how over-rated Chavez was to begin with.

Hugo Chavez Cancer Conspiracy Theories Resurface After Death

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