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- Remarkable Paleolithic sculpture discovered in famous Foissac cave in France.
- Archaeologists puzzled by 80 shackled skeletons in ancient Greek mass grave.
- It's August! You know what that means: exhume your dead relatives, dress them up in clean clothes and take them for a walk.
- Spanish pilgrimage sees near-death experiencers placed in coffins for a parade through the streets.
- Could the secret to understanding gravity lie in reducing the number of dimensions, rather than increasing them?
- Is reality an illusion? Scientist says we may be living in a computer simulation controlled by an evil genius.
- How hackers could get inside your head with 'brain malware'.
- Investigation finds that the supposed benefits of dental floss are largely unproven by science.
- Environmental records shattered as climate change 'plays out before us'.
- Could solar interference destroy our way of life? More on the dangers posed by our Sun here.
- "The Universe is a jungle": China's space scientists warn of extraterrestrial danger.
- One of the best explanations for why we haven't found alien life.
- Private company cleared for 2017 Moon mission.
- Did the Universe boot up with a 'Big Bounce'?
- Fun fact: Jupiter's shadow freezes Io's atmosphere solid every day.
- How 'the land of the stars' shaped astronomy.
- Image(s) of the Day: Golf's newest major champion, Jimmy Walker, is also a kick-ass astrophotographer.
Quote of the Day:
The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Also known by its designation KIC 8462852, Tabby's Star continues to perplex astronomers and mainstream science bloggers.
News broke in September 2015 after citizen scientists noted the abrupt, non-periodic dimming of this distant F-type star. F-type stars are like our sun, but bigger and hotter. Hard line skeptics dismissed the phenomenon as comets, but evidence has yet to emerge supporting this hypothesis. Currently astronomers and cosmologists can't imagine how ~648,000 giant comets could coordinate their orbits to dim a star over the last hundred years.
Bradley Schaefer of Louisiana State University combed through Harvard's archive of astronomical plates from the last century, finding there's been a steady dimming of Tabby's Star. Faced with a deepening mystery Michael Hippke, self-proclaimed (and cringey) "gentleman scientist", and Vanderbilt University doctoral student Michael Lund earnestly tried, and failed, to disprove Schaefer's discovery. There's nothing wrong with the Kepler observatory that first imaged KIC 8462852, nor Harvard's plates, and Schafer's methodology is watertight.
Spicing up the story is Penn State's Jason Wright, suggesting the dimming's cause might be an alien megastructure like a Dyson swarm or sphere. The invocation of aliens by straightlaced scientists without outright dismissal by their peers means more money from ad impressions, and angry flame wars in comment sections around the web. Also aliens?
To puzzle out this anomaly, the only sensible course of action is to continue surveying the sky, and reviewing past data for other stars with similar characteristics. Should one be found, astronomers can study it, compare it, then begin narrowing down the suspects behind the strangeness 1,480 light years away from us.
This search might take longer than hoped. Daryll LaCourse, profligate Kepler data miner, announced to the internet how Tabby's Star is unique.
The Kepler spacecraft is now observing a series of new ecliptic fields (K2) and has accumulated observations of ~165,000 additional targets. Continued visual inspection of these public data has failed to recover an analog to KIC 8462852. Lack of such a detection suggests that the aperiodic dimming indeed represents a rare astrophysical phenomenon, regardless of the true root cause mechanism involved.
For now Homo sapiens should content themselves with Tabetha Boyajian's successful Kickstarter to continuously monitor her star, and see how deep the rabbit hole goes.
You might also enjoy:
- Dark Ages royal palace discovered at Tintagel in Cornwall, an area closely linked to the legend of King Arthur.
- Last woolly mammoths 'died of thirst'.
- 'Ayahuasca is changing global environmental consciousness’: Interview with Dennis McKenna.
- Save the world’s largest living thing: build a fence around it.
- Boys deface ancient 5,000-year-old rock carving ‘to improve it’.
- In near-death experiences, blind people see for first time.
- Anthrax outbreak triggered by climate change kills boy in Arctic Circle.
- Interview with the "Acid King" serving life without parole.
- Multicoloured artificial meteor showers launched from a satellite are coming soon.
- Human consumption of Earth's natural resources has tripled in 40 years.
- More than one-third of the world can't see the Milky Way anymore.
- Jack White’s label spins Carl Sagan vinyl in near-space.
- Former astronauts dying from mysterious deep space exposure.
Quote of the Day:
If you want to understand consciousness, you’ve got to study psychedelics.
Professor David Nutt
In a country far, far away (Australia), a war is brewing over census data. The Atheist Empire is unhappy with rebel scum who put down "Jedi" as their religion. The Atheist Empire argues it will skew the results and make Australia seem more religious than it really is, leading to bad things with public services.
In 2011's census, 64,390 Australians put “Jedi” down as their religion, which increased from 58,053 Jedi in 2006. Some are just donkey voting, sticking the middle finger up at authorities, but some sincerely worship the Force. The Atheist Empire thinks the Force is woo, and doesn't see the funny side, and wants to crush the rebellion with rational thinking. They even made this cuter than an ewok poster to convince people they should all think like they do.
Wait, the government using census data to wisely spend our tax dollars? The AFA is worshipping at the Temple of Woo themselves if they believe that (pun intended)! This year's census also brings a major change that raises serious privacy concerns. In previous years, it was optional to include your name and address; now it's compulsory. That is a huge leap and the ABS has been highly unconvincing in their reasons for the change.
Now excuse me, I'll be at the local cantina, learning to force choke a beer can like a proper Aussie Jedi... or a scruffy-looking nerf herder.
Only 3 days left before we pick a winner for this signed Alan Moore comic...get in!
- Meet the scientist on a quest to reunite with his dead father - by building a time machine.
- How we'll solve the mystery of the 'alien megastructure' star.
- Juno begins Jupiter free-fall before closest approach.
- Antimatter spacecraft propulsion: birth of a concept.
- NASA is sending a spacecraft to a potential killer asteroid.
- Could life on Earth have come from a comet?
- There's life in the clouds, and it makes it rain.
- Scientific crop circle research is being held back by links to UFO conspiracies.
- What really caused the voice in Joan of Arc's head?
- Noah's Ark docks in northern Kentucky, complete with dinosaurs and wi-fi.
- Vampire capitalist: billionaire Peter Thiel is very interested in taking young people's blood to help him live longer.
- Corpse flowers in different locations are blooming at the same time and it feels ominous.
- The secret life of cadavers.
- Alien hunters claim 'seashells' in Mars pictures are evidence ancient ocean once had life.
- Fake bomb detectors finally banned in Iraq.
- Humpback whales around the globe are mysteriously rescuing animals from orcas.
- Tarot card reading with beautiful ancient decks.
- Carl Sagan single becomes the first record played in space.
Thanks Kat, Ray and Michael.
Quote of the Day:
Policymakers who deny basic scientific truths should be denied penicillin, horseless carriages, and airtime on the magic box of shadows.
In the video above, well-known skeptic Chris French (Professor of Psychology at Goldsmiths, University of London) introduces the field of 'anomalistic psychology', and how it can be of use in understanding strange beliefs in the paranormal and conspiracies.
Ever since records began, in every known society, a substantial proportion of the population has reported unusual experiences many of which we would today label as ‘paranormal’. Opinion polls show that the majority of the general public accepts that paranormal phenomena do occur. Such widespread experience of and belief in the paranormal can only mean one of two things. Either the paranormal is real, in which case this should be accepted by the wider scientific community which currently rejects such claims; or else belief in and experience of ostensibly paranormal phenomena can be fully explained in terms of psychological factors. Chris French provides an introduction to the sub-discipline of anomalistic psychology, which may be defined as the study of extraordinary phenomena of behaviour and experience, in an attempt to provide non-paranormal explanations in terms of known psychological and physical factors.
There's plenty in the talk that a smart Fortean should take on board when evaluating evidence for strange phenomena, even if sometimes the full skeptical viewpoint can wear a little. Overall, a great little talk though.
Only five days left to get in on a chance at winning this signed Alan Moore comic (and help support the Grail at the same time)!
- Apollo astronauts found to have higher rates of cardiovascular problems, possibly caused by space radiation.
- Scientists find distinctive patterns in the brains of patients under hypnosis.
- UFO sighting over America last week was a Chinese rocket re-entry.
- Gullies on Mars probably weren't carved by water flowing.
- Anthrax outbreak in Russia blamed on a frozen 75-year-old reindeer carcass defrosting in a recent heatwave.
- The Goetia of Music: what the vibration patterns of musical notes look like.
- 21st century biohacking is fruity: human ears are being grown on apples.
- Ten of the weirdest things found on the bottom of the ocean.
- 'Ayahuasca is changing global environmental consciousness', says Dennis McKenna.
- How nitrous oxide inspired early psychedelic literature: An interview with Darklore contributor Mike Jay.
- Wild theory suggests that Snow White is actually a Lord of the Rings sequel.
- Earthquake clues from ancient temples in the Himalayas suggest the area could be overdue for a catastrophic quake.
- Australia to move itself one metre to fix GPS discrepancy - an illustration of how self-driving cars will need to take tectonic plate movement into account.
- Video of the Day: How to free-fall 25,000 feet from a plane without a parachute and survive.
Quote of the Day:
It's easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.
Nightmares of the Present: Anthrax Outbreak in Russia Came From a 75-Year-Old Frozen Reindeer Carcass Thawed by HeatwavePosted by Greg at 12:39, 31 Jul 2016
A horror scenario straight out of a science fiction story appears to have come to life in Russia, with an outbreak of anthrax - which has killed 1500 reindeer and hospitalized a number of humans - being blamed on a frozen 75-year-old reindeer carcass that has been thawed by a recent heatwave:
According to the Siberian Times, officials initially thought that the reindeer deaths and human illnesses were the result of a heat wave, after uncommonly high temperatures of up to 95 degrees F swept through the region. And, in a way, it seems they were: Officials with the Russian Ministry of Agriculture believe the cause of infection is the thawing of the frozen carcass of a reindeer that died 75 years ago. Reindeer, weakened by the heat, may have eaten the carcass, and then passed on the disease to the nomad herders.
Grailers will remember one of Mikey's posts in his "Nightmares of the Future" series touched on the 'climatological horror' scenario depicted in the British TV show Fortitude (if you haven't seen it, spoilers follow). In that case, a thawing mammoth carcass was to blame for bringing back to life an ancient parasite that spreads through the population of a small settlement in Norway.
As our planet continues to warm, and glaciers and other ice packs disappear, hopefully there aren't any greater 'evils' waiting to wake from their slumber...
Here's your dose of crazy for the day: American skydiver Luke Aikins jumped from a plane at 25,000 feet with no parachute or wingsuit, aiming to freefall the entire distance and land in a (relatively) small net held off the ground by four cranes.
Spoiler alert: He's still alive.
A summary of all the stories and news briefs posted on The Daily Grail over the past week. Feel free to share anything interesting!
- Upcoming Giveaway of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Signed by Alan Moore, for Supporters of the Grail
- News Briefs 25-07-2016 (Monday)
- New Theory Attempts to Explain Ball Lightning Anomaly
- News Briefs 26-07-2016 (Tuesday)
- Archaeology Continues to Reinforce the Truth That Human History Has Been One Long Trip
- News Briefs 27-07-2016 (Wednesday)
- Why Does Our Universe Seem to be Fine-Tuned for the Existence of Life?
- News Briefs 28-07-2016 (Thursday)
- News Briefs 29-07-2016 (Friday)
Have a good weekend!