- Isolation and hallucinations: Why the mental health of astronauts is one of the biggest hurdles when it comes to successful space missions.
- The US is holding on to nuclear weapons to defend the Earth against rogue asteroids.
- Huge feature on the Moon may be an enormous volcanic vent system.
- Exploring the monstrous creatures at the edges of the dark matter map: What if the most popular hypothesis is wrong? Plenty of fringier theories exist.
- Green snot is taking over the world's rivers.
- How we really feel about drugs.
- Healing trip: How psychedelic drugs could help treat depression.
- Memory loss associated with Alzheimer's reversed using systems approach.
- What will it take for computers to be conscious?
- Late addition: The Most Ambitious Environmental Lawsuit Ever: A quixotic historian tries to hold oil and gas companies responsible for Louisiana’s disappearing coast.
- Managing a Nightmare: How the CIA watched over the destruction of Gary Webb.
- Kill the Messenger: Since the Contra-crack-cocaine scandal surfaced in 1985, major U.S. news outlets have disparaged it, most notably when the big newspapers destroyed journalist Gary Webb for reviving it in 1996. But a NYTimes review of a movie about Webb finally admits the reality.
- Monsanto spends millions to fight GMO labeling efforts in a few US states.
- Inside the Koch brothers' toxic empire.
- iPhone? It's a spyphone: Apple devices can record your every movement.
- Leaked documents reveal chemical industry arm-twisting in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) deal, which is poised to derail European regulations on chemicals, endocrine disrupters and GMOs.
- A confidential report and a fired bank examiner’s hidden recorder penetrate the cloistered world of the Fed — and its history of deference to banks.
- New Intel Doc: Do not be 'led astray' by 'commonly understood definitions'.
- For the first time, filmmakers in the forests of Borneo's Mount Kinabalu have documented the so-repulsive-it's-captivating behavior of a large, red, worm-guzzling predator, which remains unclassified by science.
- Fairies and Elves - a history (sort of). Leave your wings at the door.
Thanks to Kapryan.
Quote of the Day:
NSA plays a lot of word games.
The DIA document shows that for the NSA, 'collection' of your e-mails doesn't mean what you think it means. It means something totally different. They want to be able to say they're not 'collecting' your data, so they claim that even though they copied all your e-mails, put them in a server for five years, and searched them at will, that's not 'collection' because your e-mail didn't go into a report.
The NSA plays the same games with all of the words they use — they say you are not a 'target,' even though they collect, store and search all your data. They say your data is collected only 'incidentally,' even though the NSA intentionally designs its programs to collect everything you do online. They say your data is not collected 'under this program,' which almost certainly means it is collected under some other program. The NSA says things, using some very tortured and legalistic definitions, which are technically true but designed to mislead Americans about how it collects and uses our data. The NSA's collection and use of Americans' data would never stand up to any kind of public scrutiny or judicial review. The only way these programs survive is because they are shielded from review and oversight and challenge in the courts.
John Tye, a former State Department official, in 'New documents show how Reagan-era executive order unbounded NSA'.
This article is excerpted from Darklore Volume 8, which is now available for sale from Amazon US and Amazon UK. The Darklore anthology series features the best writing and research on Fortean and hidden history topics, by the most respected names in the field: Robert Schoch, Nick Redfern, Loren Coleman, Robert Bauval and Daniel Pinchbeck, to name just a few. Darklore's aim is to support quality researchers, so it makes sense to support Darklore. For more information on the series (including more free sample articles), visit the Darklore website.
A Social History of Ball Lightning
The chimera that came in from the cold
by Martin Shough
Back in 1967 the astronomer Gerard Kuiper dismissed a 10% residue of unexplained UFO reports with a wave of the hand, thinking it “reasonable to assume” that this testimony must be “so distorted or incomplete as to defy all analysis.” However, he advocated a major Defence Department/FAA programme to research “very rare natural phenomena” such as ball lightning. Why? Because “no adequate data yet exist of ball lightning”, even though its existence had been “known for at least a century”.1
This raises a very interesting question: How was it possible for science to “know” anything with “no adequate data”? The answer is that science did not know. Rather, ball lightning had been kept in the natural philospher’s cabinet of curiosities along with a jumble of Forteana such as sea serpents, will-o’-the-wisps, fabulous mirages and spirits of the dead for a couple of hundred years. Disbelief and credulity swirled around together in a miasma of hopeless speculation until, during the early 20th century, the authoritative consensus settled into scepticism - a position which had only quite recently begun to change at the time Kuiper was writing.
Unpicking some of the reason and unreason behind this curious condition of scientific double-think is instructive. Logically and evidentially speaking, there is precious little difference between a “very rare natural phenomenon” which is unexplained and an unexplained phenomenon characterised as a “UFO”. Even more subtle is the distinction sometimes drawn between “a unique natural phenomenon never before observed” and a UFO. There will always be unique combinations of natural phenomena never before observed (in practice), so how is a distinction to be supported between such effects and UFOs? Is there a real epistemological distinction? Or is it mere semantics?
The difference appears in practice to arise because there are two levels of “explanation” whose meanings are weighted differently in the two cases: There is a level of detailed physical understanding, i.e. a link-by-link chain of observed processes accurately modelled in theory; and there is a level of conceptual classification. When either of these levels is satisfied we experience a sense of accounting, and when both are satisfied there is a closure which we experience as “explanation”.
Neither in the case of “unknown natural phenomenon” nor in the case of “unidentified flying object” is the level of detailed physical understanding satisfied, by definition; the difference enters in the conceptual classification and has to do almost exclusively with the way these ideas are emotionally connoted. Specifically, it is the mechanistic aura of the former and the animistic aura of the latter that sets them apart. The history of science associates mechanistic models with productive explanations, animistic models with backward-looking resistance to explanations. The extraterrestrial hypothesis (ETH) and its analogues are for practical purposes regarded as examples of relict primitive animism.
Ball lightning emerges with some sense of explanation out of the primary category of “rare and unexplained phenomena” to the extent that it replaces (these days) animistic with mechanistic connotations. The collective term is emotionally neutral, the terms “ball lightning” and “UFO” are not individually so, and parity is broken; a coupled particle-pair of overall neutral charge is, so to speak, dissociated into two particles of opposite charge which fly in different directions in the social field potential. The positive “ball lightning” particle is eventually scavenged by surrounding atoms of incomplete theory; the “UFO” particle is left to wander, a free negative ion in a lonely search for an appropriate theory with which to recombine. It is a pragmatic fact, quite separate from the question of evidence, that ... Read More »
A summary of all the stories and news briefs posted on The Daily Grail over the past week. Feel free to share anything interesting!
- Did Marco Polo 'Discover' America in the 13th Century?
- News Briefs 29-09-2014 (Monday)
- The 'Nazca Lines' of Asia - Archaeologists Discover Massive Geoglyphs in Kazakhstan
- News Briefs 30-09-2014 (Tuesday)
- Free Sample Articles from Darklore Volume 8
- News Briefs 02-10-2014 (Thursday)
- Urban Tunnellers - What Lies Beneath Our Streets?
- News Briefs 03-10-2014 (Friday)
Have a good weekend!
“Any life, however long and complicated it may be, actually consists of a single moment.”
- Uncovering more of Gunung Padang.
- When skeptics doubt.
- Particle meet anti-particle.
- Plumbing the depths for Antikythera answers.
- Re-thinking the double-slit experiment.
- Atari asteroids gets real.
- The unseen undersea world.
- ‘Tis the season for meteor strikes.
- The music of the LHC.
- Evolution at work.
- Fishing by satellite.
- There’s life underground.
- The illusion of wetness.
- The art of Star Wars.
- This week’s evidence of the looming robot uprising… Sea ‘bots.
Quote of the Day:
“The universe (which others call the Library) is composed of an indefinite and perhaps infinite number of hexagonal galleries, with vast air shafts between, surrounded by very low railings.”
Jorge Luis Borges
Last week tongue-in-cheek Northern Irish news site Tyrone Tribulations ("News from amongst the bushes. Accuracy cannot be guaranteed.") published a piece entitled "Omagh’s ‘Shawshank Husband’ Dug Tunnel From Bedroom To Pub Over 15 Years".
“The wife has a bad snore on her and after watching the Shawshank Redemption on RTE one night in 1994, I decided to do something about it so I waited til she was in a deep sleep and then set about digging a hole under the bed in the direction of the pub. I used all manner of tools from spoons to a heavy duty tunnel boring machine I managed to sneak down there when she was at the shops. It wasn’t until 2009 that I hit the jackpot and came up through the women’s toilet mop and bucket room.”
While the chronicle Patsy Kerr's nocturnal misadventures beneath the streets of Omagh should undoubtedly be taken with a hypertension inducing amount of salt, there are many interesting documented cases of urban tunnellers and their subterranean works.
In August 2006 retired electrical engineer William Lyttle was ordered by Hackney Borough Council to leave his home at 121 Mortimer Road in De Beauvoir Town, London, UK. Five years earlier an 8 foot (2.4 m) hole appeared suddenly and unexpectedly in the pavement on nearby Stamford Road. When the local authorities investigated, they found that Lyttle had created an intricate network of tunnels, some 26 feet (8 m) deep, spreading out as much as 65 feet (20 m) in every direction from his house. Lyttle had been working on his excavations since the 1960s, digging with a shovel and using a home-made pulley system. Following numerous complaints from people living in the adjacent properties, and with the council looking at and estimated repair bill of one hundred thousand pounds to fill the tunnels in, Lyttle was finally banned from re-entering his property.
In an interview with The Guardian newspaper at the time Lyttle - known as The Hackney Mole Man - was asked the big question: why did he dig the tunnels?
"I don't mind the title of inventor," he said. "Inventing things that don't work is a brilliant thing, you know. People are asking you what the big secret is. And you know what? There isn't one." 
William Lyttle died in 2010. After remaining derelict for several years, 121 Mortimer Road sold at auction in 2012 for £1.12 million. The house remains shrouded in scaffolding and unoccupied, the tunnels beneath largely untouched and unexplored. 
Seymour Roger Cray was an American electrical engineer and supercomputer architect who designed a series of computers which were, for a long time, the fastest in the world. He is known today as "the Father of Supercomputing". In 1997 - the year after Cray's death - an article published in Personal Computer World revealed some interesting mythology surrounding the man and his methods.
There are many legends about Seymour Cray. John Rollwagen, a colleague for many years, tells the story of a French scientist who visited Cray's home in Chippewa Falls. Asked what were the secrets of his success, Cray said "Well, we have elves here, and they help me". Cray subsequently showed his visitor a tunnel he had built under his house, explaining that when he reached an impasse in his computer design, he would retire to the tunnel to dig. "While I'm digging in the tunnel, the elves will often come to me with solutions to my problem", he said. 
In Liverpool, UK, during the early 1800s, wealthy businessman Joseph Williamson employed a workforce of thousands to carve out a vast, uncharted labyrinth of tunnels beneath the city. The purpose of the Williamson Tunnels remains a mystery — some suggest philanthropy, while others say Williamson was a cultist preparing a safe haven for the coming apocalypse. Sealed when Williamson died in 1840, the tunnels were tapped into from above and used as an immense pit into which the household refuse of the city was tipped for over a century.
Today at The Williamson Tunnels Heritage Centre in the Old Stable Yard on Smithdown Lane, visitors can take a guided tour through a section of tunnels cleared over the last twenty-five years by volunteers from the Joseph Williamson Society and the Friends of Williamson’s Tunnels. The majority of the brick-lined warren still remains unexcavated and unexplored.  Not only is Williamson reputed to have had a tunnel dug to connect his home with St. Mary's Church nearby but also, to his local pub The Bear's Paw. Sadly,there's insufficient historical data to tell us whether or not Mrs. Williamson had a "bad snore on her" or not.
This January a jury ruled in favour of the City of Austin, Texas, USA in a case brought against it by 74 year old Austin man Joe De Rio. Joe's claim was that city officials had not followed proper procedures when they seized his home on Canterbury Street in East Austin in 2010.
What has been distressing is the city did not give any prior notice,” [Joe De Rio's Defence Attorney, Joe] McCreary said. “I realize they thought there was some kind of mad bomber-type situation and they mobilized all the horses and all the king’s men. The problem is it’s disturbing when a city will use a warrant to seize a person’s property.” 
The authorities became concerned when De Rio's home was inspected following complaints from neighbours and found unlicensed firearms, grenades, and suspicious chemicals on the property. Beneath De Rio's home they found a 35 foot (10.6 m), three tier excavation "supported [in places] by wood and automotive parts"  . De Rio claimed that he was merely expanding a pre-existing fallout shelter constructed as part of the home in the 1950s but his efforts left the house in danger of imminent collapse. City contractors filled the tunnels beneath the home with more than 264 tons of concrete and De Rio was billed more than $90,000. 
By and large tunnellers motives remain a mystery and, of course, we only know about those whose activities are uncovered. How many suburban catacombs remain undiscovered? Do you know really what your neighbours are up to? I've just worked out that it's 1345 feet (410 m) from my house to the nearest decent pub so, if you'll excuse me, I've got some digging to do.
Holding the 'Fort':
- Archaeologist thinks he's found 'Dracula's dungeon'.
- The Kogi of Colombia's new film Aluna.
- Loss of smell predicts death.
- Eminent scientists publish a Manifesto for a Post-Materialist Science.
- US reroutes flights to avoid walrus stampede on Alaska beach.
- Using brain implants to boost free will.
- Man in the moon mystery solved.
- The return of the black-eyed child.
- Google Earth reveals geoglyphs in Kazakhstan.
- Laser-guided Sea-Monkeys suggest role of zooplankton in ocean currents.
- Dolphins sense magnetic fields.
- Supersmart animals are coming.
- Original ley-hunter Alfred Watkins' memorial stone erected.
- IBT challenges Uri Geller to bend an iPhone with his mind.
Quote of the Day:
If you're going to tell people the truth, be funny or they'll kill you.
Firstly, just a quick heads-up that the Grail is understaffed for the next few days, so updates to the site may be a little sporadic until the weekend. If that leaves you a bit short on reading material, don't fret: I've made three full sample articles from the newly released Volume 8 of our anthology series Darklore available to download (as PDFs) from the Darklore website, absolutely free. Those three join 21 other sample articles available - so if you're new to the Darklore series, you've got plenty of fascinating material to read through!
The three sample articles are:
- Martin Shough's fantastic article on the ball lightning enigma, with a discussion of the way science has approached the mystery, as compared to the UFO phenomenon
- Cat Vincent's intelligent examination of the rise of pop culture-based, hyper-real religions.
- My piece on the phenomenon of the 'dying light' witnessed by some people at the time of a loved one's passing.
Of course, if the articles whet your appetite, it helps us out a whole lot more if you purchase a copy of Darklore, allowing us to continue making new volumes. It's available from any number of online book retailers, but for simplicity's sake, here's the links to Amazon:
We appreciate your support of the Darklore series - it helps to fund this website, and also provides financial support for contributors so that they can continue researching and writing about the stranger side of life.
Link: Darklore sample articles
A few of the Grail crew are on the road and off the web in the latter half of this week folks, so advance apologies for a downturn in the number of updates over the next few days!
- The Nazca Lines of Europe discovered by archaeologists in (glorious nation of) Kazakhstan.
- The Piris Reis map: evidence of ancient technology?
- 2000-year-old battery has puzzled archaeologists for decades.
- "F**k Earth", says Elon Musk. Mars is where the action is at baby!
- Complex organic molecule found in interstellar space. If it belongs to you, please call lost and found immediately.
- Meteor strikes may not be as random as we think.
- Astronomy superstar Neil deGrasse Tyson under fire for fabricating stories and quotations.
- Has physics made philosophy obsolete? Physicist Lawrence Krauss squares off against philosophers Angie Hobbs and Mary Midgley.
- How to choose your destiny in the multiverse.
- Invisibility cloaks built from 'off-the-shelf' materials. Simple enough if you've got an invisibility cloak store just down the road.
- World wildlife populations have halved in the last 40 years.
- The distress of waking up under anesthesia.
- Religion does not poison everything – everything poisons religion.
- 'Maybe we missed something': Warren Commission insider publicly concedes that JFK's assassination was likely a conspiracy.
- Do ghosts exist?
- Living the good death.
- Pareidolia of the day: Holy Jesus on a toilet floor.
Quote of the Day:
One should be ever booted, spurred and ready to depart.
Michel de Montaigne
Wow, this looks interesting: archaeologists say they have discovered more than 50 geoglyphs of various shapes and sizes across northern Kazakhstan in Central Asia - a landscape reminiscent of the famous Nazca Lines in Peru:
Discovered using Google Earth, the geoglyphs are designed in a variety of geometric shapes, including squares, rings, crosses and swastikas (the swastika is a design that was used in ancient times). Ranging from 90 to 400 meters (295 to 1,312 feet) in diameter, some of them are longer than a modern-day aircraft carrier.
Over the past year, an archaeological expedition from Kazakhstan's Kostanay University, working in collaboration with Vilnius University in Lithuania, has been examining the geoglyphs. The team, which is conducting archaeological excavations, ground-penetrating radar surveys, aerial photography and dating, recently presented its initial results at the European Association of Archaeologists' annual meeting in Istanbul.
Many of the geoglyphs were made of earthen mounds, although one example, a swastika, was made using timber.
Archaeological excavations uncovered the remains of structures and hearths at the geoglyphs, suggesting that rituals took place there.
- So what will really go down if we find alien intelligence?
- Weird space bubbles may have caused U.S. battle deaths.
- What the inside of a future starship might look like.
- Great balls of Mars! Curiosity rover finds a strange sphere on the Red Planet.
- U.K. Ministry of Defence to release more UFO files next year.
- Stephen King has a 'tendency to believe in Intelligent Design'.
- An All-Encompassing Light: a short film about Hiroshima.
- Researchers help paralysed rats walk again through electrical spinal stimulation. And by "help", they probably mean researchers severed the rats spinal cord in the first place.
- Digital telepathy is the future of the human species.
- Did Marco Polo discover America in the 13th century?
- Kharga Oasis spider rock art may be astronomical writing.
- Star riddle discovered in 9000-year-old sanctuary.
- Did early humans, or even animals, invent music?
- The earliest sign of human habitation in Canada may have been found…hundreds of metres beneath the ocean.
- Harvard discovers three of its library books are bound in human flesh.
- Who is behind the addition of a small cube with 20-14 engraved on it to the Georgia Guidestones?
- Two men missing for seven hours after car accident outside Roswell wake in field of donkeys with no memory of the night before. Sounds like a typical bachelor party here in Australia…
- Dreams and prophecy in ancient Greece.
- The real reason the new iPhones are bending? Uri Geller.
Thanks Rick and Baldrick.
Quote of the Day:
Do not try and bend the spoon. That's impossible. Instead only try to realise the truth…there is no spoon.