A topic about outer-space and everything in it, from little green men to big spirally galaxies

Glenn Campbell Reminisces with Area 51 'Cammo Dudes'

It's like 1995 all over again! Glenn Campbell, the self-proclaimed 'former Area 51 guy' who helped put the infamous secret base on the map thanks to his Groom Lake Desert Rat newsletter, had a recent mano a mano with the private security personnel known fondly as 'the cammo dudes', who are in charge of patrolling the roads and areas surrounding the facility, and are known to threaten those curious onlookers drawn by the Dreamland allure.

The Groom Lake Desert Rat (1994-1997) --to which I was subscribed waaay back when-- documented the legal battle between Lincoln county's residents and the Air Force, when the latter decided to expand the territory of the Nevada test site so curious onlookers would have a harder time snooping around in search of Bob Lazar's 'reverse-engineered' saucers. The newsletter also covered several of the fringe rumors which were sprouting back in those merry days of suspicion, beer nights at the Little A'Le'Inn, and X-Files conspiranoia, including the tale of J-Rod, the alias of an engineer who claimed to have worked in the development of flight simulators intended to train Air Force pilots operate the reverse-engineered flying saucers; the story expanded upon Robert Lazar's previous allegations, but got even more complicated since 'J-Rod' was also the name of one of the Gray aliens collaborating with US government's reverse engineering program --the human J-Rod claimed his alien counterpart was fond of wearing terrestrial shirts; he also said Hungarian was the human language which had the closes resemblance to the Gray's own language, something I'm sure would have flattered Zsa Zsa Gabor a lot...

It was later found J-Rod 2 (the human engineer) was a man by the name of Bill Uhouse, who kept telling his (unverifiable) tales of secret alliances between the government and visitors from Zeta Reticulli to anyone who would listen, until he passed away in 2009.

As for Glenn Campbell, while he had officially withdrawn from the UFO scene and Area 51, the mischievous smirk he gives at the end of his clip tells me he's willing to relive the good ole times!

(If you want to read more stories about the world's most famous secret base, be sure to read Blair MacKenzie Blake's recounting of his own trips to Dreamland, in the 7th volume of Darklore)

The USAF's New Fighter Jets Were Built Using Flying Saucer Technology

The Avrocar

The F-35 Lighting II is the latest addition to the USAF's fighter jet arsenal. At around $100million per plane, they don't come cheap (though the US government has ordered around 2500 of them...) - but in the modern world, air superiority is key in warfare, and a large fleet of cutting-edge fighter jets is one way to ensure your military might.

How cutting-edge? One of the new models, the F-35B, will be the first operational jet fighter to be supersonic in speed, able to avoid detection via stealth technologies, but also be capable of short take-offs and vertical landing (STOVL).

Interestingly, a new paper on arXiv ("Avrocar: a real flying saucer") points out that the STOVL capability of the F-35B has its origin in an experimental 'flying saucer' vehicle developed by the USAF more than 50 years ago, the 'Avrocar':

One of the most unusual military V/STOL aircraft programs was the Avro VZ-9 “Avrocar”. Designed to be a real flying saucer, the Avrocar was one of the few V/STOL to be developed in complete secrecy. Despite significant changes in the design, during flight tests, the Avrocar was unable to achieve its objectives, and the program was eventually canceled after an expenditure of 10 million US dollars between 1954 and 1961.

[However] the concept of ground effect produced by a fan at takeoff and landing did not die with the Avrocar. In 1963, Bell Aerospace initiated studies of a landing system for air mattress (ACLS), which was later patented. These studies were directed by the former head of Avrocar project, Desmond T. Conde. The Avrocar also ended up producing the prototype Boeing YC-14 and McDonnell Douglas YC-15. The latter was adopted and evolved into the Boeing C-17 transport, which went into series production. This concept lives today as a key component of Lockheed X-35 Joint Strike Fighter contender.

Here's some video of the Avrocar in action:

What inspired the USAF to explore the 'flying saucer' design of the Avrocar? Did it arise out of the flying saucer craze that was at its height in the 1950s? Or was the design more to do with the circular nature of the fan system?

In any case, we can at least now proudly take off our tin-foil hats, and safely state that the U.S. military's latest jet fighters rely on flying saucer technology...

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Red Lasers & Posthuman Blues

I love this cartoon for several reasons: It's funny and pleasing to look at, and once you stop giggling it inadvertently coaxes you to think.

But I also like it because its anonymous author may or may not have been influenced by the musings of one of the best thinkers to arrive in the UFO field in the last 25 years or so: The late Mac Tonnies (20 August 1975 – 22 October 2009).

To say Mac was ahead of his time is an understatement. 10 years before most of the UFO community even knew who Ray Kurzweil was, he was already pondering whether Transhumanism and the Singularity were plausible tools by which to observe the UFO phenomenon from a new, fresh angle. He shared his ideas of UFOs as the potential manifestation of a post-biological intelligence through his blog Posthuman Blues; and after his untimely passing at the age of 34, he was able to reach a larger audience with the posthumous publication of his book The Cryptoterrestrials [Amazon US & UK], which should be required reading to anyone interested in this phenomenon.

[Mac also contributed to the Darklore anthology series with his essay "The Ancients Are Watching", featured on Volume II]

On Friday, September 29th, 2009, Mac published the following post on his blog:

Every few nights I get out my laser pointer and indulge my cats in a frenetic game of "chase." Cats are natural hunters, and they're effectively incapable of not looking at the quickly moving red dot that I project onto the carpet, walls, or any piece of furniture that happens to be in its path.

To my cats, the red dot possesses its own vitality. It exists as a distinct entity. While they may see me holding the pointer, they can't (or won't) be distracted by such things once the button is pressed and the living room is suddenly alive with luminous vermin. So they chase it. And chase it. And, if they get close enough, even take swipes at it -- in which case I make the dot "flee" or disappear in what seems like a concession of defeat (which, of course, only further arouses the cats' predatory curiosity).

All the while I'm controlling the red dot, I'm taking pains to make it behave like something intelligible. Just waving the pointer around the room wouldn't be any fun. So I make it "climb," "jump" and scuttle when cornered -- even though the laser's impervious to obstructions.

This sense of physicality seems to be the element that makes chasing the laser so engaging -- both for the cats and for me.

I can't help but be reminded of our continuing search for assumed extraterrestrial vehicles. UFO sightings demonstrate many of the same aspects of a typical feline laser hunt: mysterious disappearances, "impossible" maneuvers and a predilection for trickery -- the apparent desire to be seen despite (or because of) a technology presumed to be far in advance of our own. More than one UFO researcher has noted that UFOs behave more like projections or holograms than nuts-and-bolts craft . . . an observation that begs the nature of the intelligence doing the projecting.

According to astrophysicist Jacques Vallee, UFOs are part of a psychosocial conditioning system by which perceived "rewards" are doled out to reconcile for the dearth of irrefutable physical evidence. The phenomenon -- whatever its ultimate nature -- obstinately denies itself, thus enabling the very game it's intent on playing with us.

We see that sudden spark of red light; we pounce. This time we'll catch it for sure.

A couple of days ago, when I found the cartoon online --with Spanish subtitles, actually!-- I immediately sent it to Mike Clelland, for I knew he of all people would appreciate it. Not only was Mike a good friend of Mac Tonnies' (and ended up illustrating The Cryptoterrestrials as a final favor to him) but he himself wrote a very similar post as a way to inaugurate his own blog, Hidden Experience; the major difference between both writings being that Mike used a piece of string as a metaphor for the UFO, while Mac --ever the tecnophile-- opted for the more sophisticated laser pointer to play with his cats Ebe and Spooky --the best names for a UFOlogist's pet as far as I'm concerned.

Even more interesting still, it seems there was only a month of difference between Mac's 'laser pointer' post on Posthuman Blues, and Mike's 'cat string' post on Hidden Experience; which should make anyone wonder whether this 'crypto-intelligence' which likes to interact with us from time to time through flashy aerial manifestations, also employs other 'toys' to get our attention --like synchronicities for example.

Which brings us back to the cartoon: Was the author aware of Mac's work? Did he listen to some of his interviews available online? Or was he 'inspired' to come up with the laser pointer gag through other channels? How can be so sure that our thoughts are exclusively our own?

Whichever the case, I hope Mac managed to get a good chuckle out of this, wherever he is right now.


Mac stepping Outside. Artwork by Mike Clelland.

Your Daily Dose of Awe: The Milky Way Over Uluru

Milky Way over Uluru, by Babak Tafreshi

Here's your daily dose of awe: the centre of the Milky Way hanging over Uluru, in Central Australia.

Image taken a couple of weeks ago by Babak Tefreshi, and posted as NASA's Astronomy Pic of the Day on July 30.

The central regions of our Milky Way Galaxy rise above Uluru/Ayers Rock in this striking night skyscape. Recorded on July 13, a faint airglow along the horizon shows off central Australia's most recognizable landform in silhouette. Of course the Milky Way's own cosmic dust clouds appear in silhouette too, dark rifts along the galaxy's faint congeries of stars. Above the central bulge, rivers of cosmic dust converge on a bright yellowish supergiant star Antares. Left of Antares, wandering Saturn shines in the night.

Click to embiggen!

1959 Comic Featured 'The Face on Mars' - 17 Years Before a NASA Probe's Famous Photo

'The Face on Mars' in a 1959 Comic Book

Here's your daily dose of weird: Almost four decades ago a strange photograph was taken of Mars by the Viking 1 space probe, which appeared to show a massive humanoid-looking face carved into the Red Planet's landscape, staring back at the orbiter's lens. The so-called 'Face on Mars' would go on to become a fixture in theories about extraterrestrial alien life, though later more high-resolution photographs of the region had NASA dashing thoughts of it being an artificial creation.

Interestingly though, the idea of a 'Face on Mars' was already present in popular culture, through a 1959 comic book illustrated by the great Jack Kirby - 17 years before the Viking photograph. And the weirdness doesn't end there - see this fun article at the Secret Sun blog to go right down the rabbit hole...

Read more fascinating articles like this one by liking The Daily Grail on Facebook, and by following us on Twitter.

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A History of Aliens on Film

Digg has put together a super-cut of some of the most well-known movie extraterrestrials in 'The History of Aliens on Film', with Radiohead's "Subterranean Homesick Alien" as the soundtrack:

From their earliest cinematic appearance in Georges Méliès's "A Trip to the Moon" in 1902, our conception of life beyond Earth has changed to reflect our hopes and fears, the technology we've mastered, and our growing knowledge of the universe. Watch our depictions of extraterrestrial life change over nearly 100 films and 112 years.

Would have been nice if some of the cuts were a bit longer...bit hard to keep up at times. Any of your favourites not in there?

I enjoyed noting that some of the depictions matched reasonably closely with this half-facetious 'History of Science Fiction' graphic (posted by @neverjessie):

History of Science Fiction

"UFOlogy Has No Ontology": Jacques Vallee at the CAIPAN Workshop 2014

Last year, back when a few reporters took a look at the sorry state of UFO conventions in the United States, and wondered whether UFOlogy as a field had finally come to an end, some of the best minds in the world were meeting behind close doors on the other side of the Atlantic, having serious discussions about a subject which is still regarded as a form of deranged entertainment by the majority of mainstream media.

Those who were invited to participate didn't have to waste time convincing the audience about the reality of the phenomenon; nor was this a reunion of 'true believers' spinning yarns of contact with benevolent Space Brothers or malevolent alien invaders (and they were certainly NO Kodachrome slides of child mummies displayed on cheap glass showcases!). The multinational team of scientists and members of the military gathered at the CAIPAN workshop, sponsored by the French space agency CNES, were gathered in the city of Paris on the second weekend of July of 2014, because they were already convinced UFOs are more than fodder for the supermarket tabloids. But more than that, they were keenly aware of an utterly embarrassing realization for those who claim to be 'professional UFOlogists': That almost 70 years after Kenneth's Arnold seminal sighting in June of 1947, we still don't know $#!t about what UFOs *are*.

Which was precisely the point of Jacques Vallee's participation during the CAIPAN workshop. "Suppose the so-called Disclosure happened tomorrow," Vallee proposes at the beginning of his presentation titled A Strategy for Research; were that to occur, and the press actually began to take the subject seriously and ask UFOlogists for information about the phenomenon, "we would be unable to answer a number of very basic questions."

By getting back to basics, Vallee is setting forth a number of very straightforward and logical questions highlighting our monumental ignorance about the phenomenon:

  • Are there global patterns in the data?
  • What are the physical facts of the phenomenon?
  • Are there special locations where it manifests?
  • What are the social and cultural factors?
  • What is the impact on humans?
  • What methodology is applicable?

The most shocking aspect of the strategy proposed by Vallee, is the fact that ALL those issues can be researched today with the tools available to modern Science. UFOlogy does not require a 'Moon-shot' approach in which we have to patiently wait for the development of new technologies, in hope of one day starting to catch up with the elusive phenomenon. Parsing the databases already gathered by the few civilian groups conducting research --or the files left behind by defunct organizations, like APRO-- could begin to throw some light about patterns observed by UFOs throughout history.

So why are we not doing it?

"UFOlogy has no Ontology" says Vallee, as a phrase meant to encapsulate the stagnation of a field which is already suffering from rheumatism, even though it has barely given its first few steps. With UFOs we try to study cases by exclusion alone --"it wasn't a plane, or a balloon, or Venus, or a meteor, ergo it's an unknown"-- and until we come up with a useful methodology devoid of ideology, with which we can go beyond what UFOs aren't and start to describe what UFOs are, another 70 more years will come and go, and our children's children will still be wondering about those pesky lights in the sky.

The Search for Extraterrestrial Life Just Got Real

Radio Telescope Scans the Sky

Today marks 46 years since Neil Armstrong became the first human to set foot on extraterrestrial ground, when the Apollo 11 mission successfully landed on the Moon. Russian billionaire Yuri Milner certainly has a sense of occasion, because he chose this auspicious date to announce what may be the next big step in learning about our universe: a $100 million project to search for extraterrestrial intelligence.

SETI has fought for decades to secure a decent amount of funding to conduct a thorough search of the skies, although until recently they were also hamstrung by the technology available to do so. Both of those problems have suddenly been solved through the wallet of Milner, who made his fortune through a number of smart investments, including being an early funder of Facebook.

Milner announced his 'Breakthrough Initiatives' today, flanked by the likes of Stephen Hawking, SETI pioneer Frank Drake, and exoplanet hunter extraordinaire Geoff Marcy:

  1. 'Breakthrough Listen' will conduct the most comprehensive search for signals from alien civilisations ever, using the best technology available. Included is a large amount of observation time on two of the world’s most powerful radio telescopes: Green Bank Telescope in the United States, and Parkes Telescope in Australia. Previously only allowed a day or two per year on these big telescopes, SETI researchers will now have thousands of hours of listening time.
  2. 'Breakthrough Message' is the complementary project to send a message back to listening aliens, “to describe ourselves and our planet in language that other minds can understand", according to Milner. This will involve a million dollar prize pool for a competition to create the message, as well as some debate as to whether sending a message is in fact a smart move (ie. should we broadcast our existence in case there are nasty aliens out there).

Stephen Hawking voiced his support for the project in the following statement:

To understand the Universe, you must know about atoms. About the forces that bind them.

The contours of space and time. The birth and death of stars, the dance of galaxies. The secrets of black holes.

But that is not enough. These ideas cannot explain everything. They can explain the light of stars. But not the lights that shine from planet Earth.

To understand these lights, you must know about life. About minds.

We believe that life arose spontaneously on Earth. So in an infinite universe, there must be other occurrences of life. Somewhere in the cosmos, perhaps, intelligent life may be watching these lights of ours, aware of what they mean.

Or do our lights wander a lifeless cosmos. Unseen beacons, announcing that here, on one rock, the Universe discovered its existence.

Either way, there is no bigger question. It’s time to commit to finding the answer - to search for life beyond Earth. The Breakthrough Initiatives are making that commitment.

We are alive. We are intelligent. We must know.

The data from the Breakthrough Listen project will be open, allowing anyone to search through and process it, and will be integrated with SETI@home, allowing volunteers to contribute time on their home computers to sift through the SETI data deluge.

For more information, see the Breakthrough Initiatives website, and as always, science writer Alan Boyle is doing a great job keeping us all up to date with the latest happenings.

Artist Accurately Predicted How Pluto Would Look in 1979

Pluto, painted by Don Dixon, 1979

85 years ago, American astronomer Clyde Tombaugh discovered a distant planet in our Solar System - the tiny world of Pluto. In less than an hour's time, his ashes will whiz past the now 'minor planet' at almost 50,000km/hr, aboard the New Horizons space probe.

If you'd like to track the probe as it makes its fly-by, go download NASA's 'Eyes on Pluto' app, which gives you a simulated real-time telemetry and view of the progress of the mission. Note though that as Pluto is around 4.5 light hours from Earth, no actual signals (including images) from the probe will be available until that time has elapsed.

Though one person did manage to give us a decent image of Pluto, some 36 years in advance. The image at the top of this post was created by astronomical artist Don Dixon in 1979, and it bears a striking resemblance to the images of Pluto received so far:

Pluto painting by Don Dixon compared to New Horizons photo

Before the Pluto fly-by conspiracies begin though, Dixon has pointed out that his image was based on some fairly safe guesses:

I'd like to claim prophetic powers, but the painting was guided by the reasonable assumption that Pluto likely has a periodically active atmosphere that distributes powdery exotic frosts into lowland areas. The reddish color of the higher features is caused by tholins – hydrocarbons common in the outer solar system. The partial circular arcs would be caused by flooding of craters by slushy exotic ices. Pluto is apparently more orange than I painted it, however; I assumed the exotic ices would push colors more into the whites and grays.

Link: Pluto Predicted

Link: NASA's New Horizons Missio

Project Nimbus: Cloud Movies & PSYOPS Deception

Sorry, the above clip is not evidence of the mythical Wild Hunt, although its potential is equally eerie: The video demonstrates the capacity to project moving images on a cloud, by way of a laser system installed on a small airplane.

“Project Nimbus is the exploration of digital and analogue techniques to project moving images onto clouds from the ground, sea level and aircraft including planes, paragliders and hot air balloons.”

Project Nimbus is the brain-child of designer Dave Lynch and Dr. Mike Nix, a chemist from the University of Leeds. Lynch came up with the idea while he was completing his master's degree, after he stumbled upon a paper titled Nonlethal Weapons: Terms and References, edited by Robert J. Bunker in 1997. The paper is a wide compendium of many different technologies, some of them from a theoretical level and others already in use by several governments, intended to incapacitate personnel or materiel without causing permanent or terminal damage, especially for riot control situations.

One of those technologies would be the projection of an 'ancient god' over an enemy city, once their public communications had been seized, as a Psyop operation of a massive scale.

Both the RT article I first read about this, and the New Scientist post it references, go on to describe how Lynch became inspired by Bunker's paper and spent 3 years unsuccessfully experimenting, until he got funded in 2012 by the AND festival and the arts incubator Octopus Collective. Lynch and Nix based their projecting technology on Eadweard Muybridge's pioneering exploration with moving images in the 19th century; using a 2.5W 532 nm laser as a light source with hemispherical lenses transforming the laser beam and creating the shape of the image, they decided to project the vision of a galloping horse over the city of Nottingham as an homage to Muybridge.

Everybody reading these articles --or visiting Project Nimbus' website-- would probably be left with the impression this technology is only meant for artistic or recreational purposes. However, neither RT nor New Scientist give much thought to the idea of weaponizing images projected in the sky, which was why Bunker mentioned them in his paper.

[Fun fact: John B. Alexander, a name you should know well if you're interested in UFOs and the Military psychic program, is credited by Bunker as one of the paper's contributors. Alexander is, among many other things, an expert in non-lethal weapons; his name is also at the top of the contributors' list]

RT mistakenly stated that aerial imagery had been used against the Vietnamese, but after reading Bunker's paper I found no reference of it. In fact I hardly found any description of these Psyops holograms at all --the document is more of a glossary of concepts, rarely extending beyond 5 lines to describe each weapon system listed. What we do know is the CIA did research the possibility of projecting an image of Jesus onto the clouded skies of Havana --from a Navy submarine-- as a way to undermine Castro's communist regime, and possibly trigger an uprising in Cuba, by deceiving the Catholic faithful into believe it was the Second Coming and the fall of Castro was ordained from on high.

This, BTW, is not the first time a 'higher power' has directly criticized Communism, but that's a story for another day…

Obviously, this operation was never carried out, possibly due to the enormous technical problems involving its feasibility; something Lynch and Nix learned the hard way with their Project Nimbus, given how they spent hours searching for the "right type of cloud" for their laser projection.

A question arises almost inevitably, though: If a galloping horse can be 'painted' in a cloud, why not a flying disc? This is the idea behind the controversial Project Blue Beam conspiracy theory, which posits how the powers that be will seek to fake an alien invasion in order to convince the citizens of the world to relinquish their liberties in order to instaurate a Police State as the New World Order.

Project Blue Beam as an idea has many flaws IMO; the biggest one being how you don't really need to pull off such an elaborate plan to establish a Police State --you just give consumers affordable smart phones, and Voilá!. That said, it's always important to be mindful of how intelligence agencies have *always* tried to exploit the UFO phenomenon --and the will to believe it inspires among some people-- for their own advantage. Mark Pilkington's Mirage Men is a great example of this, and although he didn't really look into Project Blue Beam per se, one has to admit how faking a UFO sighting as part of a Psyop campaign is not outside the realm of possibility.

As Forteans we always have to be on the alert and, contrary to popular opinion, make sure to look at a gift horse in the mouth --even if it's flying above our heads.
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