- Mesmerising: the fantastical history, mysterious healing power and emergent neuroscience of hypnosis.
- How the rise of mirrors in the 15th century shaped our idea of the individual.
- The blood of the young might really be an anti-aging elixir, researchers say. Relieved we don't live in a Dystopian future where the super-rich might become vampires taking blood from our youth...
- How global warming is awakening ancient deadly diseases.
- The broken technology of ghost hunting.
- The latest Mysterious Universe podcast features Joshua Cutchin discussing reports of supernatural scents and otherworldy odors
- The real risks of artificial intelligence.
- Dark energy could force the universe to gradually unzip itself. *cue wah guitar*
- The benefits and downsides of mind-controlled machines.
- How your brain decides without you.
- What the Aztecs can teach us about happiness and the good life. "Rip people's still-beating hearts from their body"?
- Massive, 1500-year-old stone complex discovered near the eastern shore of the Caspian Sea in Kazakhstan.
- Israel to launch a major expedition to find more Dead Sea Scrolls.
- "We couldn't believe our eyes": A lost world of shipwrecks is found.
- Millennials on spirit quests are ruining everything about ayahuasca.
- Strange brew: 'DMT cinema' goes mainstream.
- A monolith on Mercury?
- Image of the Day: Spaceship in front of the Supermoon.
Quote of the Day:
The problem is not to find the answer, it is to face the answer.
When I saw the new 'alien first contact' movie Arrival last week, one particular element that made me smile was seeing the alien spaceship leaving Earth basically by dissolving into a cloud or mist. Readers with Fortean tastes will likely be familiar with tales of UFOs disappearing into clouds. For example:
On many occasions UFOs are reported to become gradually engulfed in a vapor cloud. One such case can be found in James McCampbell's "Effects of UFOs upon people": A highway patrolman saw a strange object sitting on the ground in the San Joaquin Valley of California. It was early morning on a wintry day. Suddenly, the object became surrounded by a mist. Then a brilliant glow appeared as the object rose off the ground.
A doctor saw two large disk-shaped objects merge into one, and the single object sent a beam of light in his direction. It vanished with a sort of explosion, leaving a cloud that dissapated slowly.
This 'dissolving into mist' factor - along with other elements from UFO sightings - have been discussed at length by some UFO researchers as possible clues to they way in which they travel (although doing so does tend to make the perhaps erroneous leap from 'UFO' to 'spaceship'). However, there seems little consensus, with explanations for the link ranging from the effects of plasma propulsion, to reduced atmospheric pressure surrounding the UFO.
So I was interested today to read polymath Stephen Wolfram's length discussion of his contribution to the science in Arrival. Wolfram covers a lot of ground, but at one point he does appear to discuss his idea for how the aliens might achieve interstellar travel (an idea which he came up with overnight, surprising even himself):
Maybe the spacecraft has its strange rattleback-like shape because it spins as it travels, generating gravitational waves in spacetime in the process... The gravitational waves would lead to a perturbation in the structure of spacetime, [and] the spacecraft somehow “swims” through spacetime, propelled by the effects of these gravitational waves. Around the skin of the spacecraft, there’s “gravitational turbulence” in the structure of spacetime, with power-law correlations like the turbulence one sees around objects moving in fluids. (Or maybe the spacecraft just “boils spacetime” around it…)
So there you go UFO researchers, there's another possibility to add to your list of propulsion theories!
There's much more of interest in Wolfram's blog post, I recommend it for anyone interested in high-concept scientific thinking about the alien contact scenario. And one particular passage stood out to me, not so much because of the 'alien' concepts discussed, but a very human one. These days, it often seems to be the case that 'speculation' is a no-no in scientific thinking - "stick to the facts". But Wolfram points out how liberating it felt for him to explore how 'the impossible' might be achieved:
It’s fun for an “actual scientist” like me to come up with stuff like this. It’s kind of liberating. Especially since every one of these science fiction-y pieces of dialogue can lead one into a long, serious, physics discussion.
I think there has to be room for plenty of speculation in science - it's just a case of communicating clearly to others that you are doing so, rather than suggesting something as a certainty.
Further reading: Your Choice of Starships (at Centauri Dreams)
A new paradigm....
- Daesh have reportedly bulldozed two of the world's most important ancient cities, including the ziggurat of Nimrud.
- Crusades-era hand grenade discovered in Israel.
- To avenge the Nazi's murder of her husband, this woman bought her own tank and went to the front line.
- New theory of gravity might explain dark matter.
- The fact and fiction of the NASA EmDrive paper leak.
- Did the seeds of life come from space?
- Mysterious x-rays coming from Pluto leave scientists baffled.
- Ten ludicrously advanced technologies we can expect by the year 2100.
- Solar panels surpass coal-fired electricity in the United Kingdom.
- Up in the sky! Is it a bird, is it a plane? No, it's Supermoon!
- Mysterious metal object crashes near Myanmar village.
- Facebook is telling everyone they're dead. Just prototyping some upcoming code is all...
- Investigation finds the Beagle 2 Mars lander likely did not actually crash-land in 2003.
- Dogs may wag their tails in different directions to communicate.
- Smallest sliver of time yet measured sees electrons fleeing atom.
- These two brothers become paralysed when the Sun sets each day.
- Image of the Day: Galactic map.
Quote of the Day:
Every one is a moon, and has a dark side which he never shows to anybody.
A summary of all the stories and news briefs posted on The Daily Grail over the past week. Feel free to share anything interesting!
- Alien Abduction in Westworld?
- News Briefs 07-11-2016 (Monday)
- A Baby Was Buried Upon a Swan's Wing in Denmark 6000 Years Ago
- News Briefs 08-11-2016 (Tuesday)
- The Deeper You Go - A Documentary on the Mystery of Consciousness
- News Briefs 09-11-2016 (Wednesday)
- News Briefs 10-11-2016 (Thursday)
- Beware the Slenderman - HBO Documentary on a Modern Monster Myth
- News Briefs 11-11-2016 (Friday)
- Movie Review: Arrival
Have a good weekend!
This may be one of the shortest movie reviews you'll ever read. Because to appreciate Arrival, a new movie in the 'first alien contact' sci-fi sub-genre, I think you're better off going in absolutely blind. Don't read reviews, don't watch the trailer, and don't read the short story it is based on. Just go.
Given the recommendation above, this 'review' will expand outwards from the most simple of statements, so if you haven't seen the movie I recommend reading as little as possible from the following. How far you read on should depend on how much encouragement or detail you need before going to see a movie. Obviously, the further you go down, the more spoilers are involved - so be warned.
So to start:
1. Go see it. Stop reading this now, and go see it.
2. Need more introductory detail about the movie? Arrival is directed by Denis Villeneuve - the guy behind the excellent Sicario and Prisoners - and is based on the acclaimed short story by Ted Chiang, Story of Your Life. It stars award-winners Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner and Forest Whitaker. Here's the synopsis, and trailer (there is also a separate international trailer). Note again though, I recommend not watching the trailers:
When multiple mysterious spacecraft touch down across the globe, an elite team is put together to investigate, including language expert Louise Banks (Amy Adams), mathematician Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner), and US Army Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker). Humankind teeters on the verge of global war as everyone scrambles for answers – and to find them, Banks, Donnelly and Weber will take a chance that could threaten their lives, and quite possibly humanity.
3. Need a feel for the movie? If you liked Contact, you will ... Read More »
“Tiger got to hunt, Bird got to fly; Man got to sit and wonder, "Why, why, why?"
- Flying Saucers in 1966.
- Swirling in the subatomic soup.
- A glimpse at life on mars.
- 3,800 year-old funeral boat uncovered in Egypt.
- Time to save space.
- Hypersonic flight and driverless flying taxis coming soon to a future near you.
- Predator linked to size of virus populations.
- Get ready for the new Bond.
- Plants help rate of atmospheric CO2.
- How to make a memory.
- Tiniest magnifying glass reveals chemical bonds.
- Interactive periodic table.
- Birth year linked to flu immunity.
- Rise of the Mud Dragon.
- For those days days when you need 22 hours of ”Happy little trees”.
- This week’s evidence of the looming robot uprising.
Quote of the Day:
“I want to stay as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all kinds of things you can't see from the center.”
We've been covering the modern monster mythos of 'Slenderman' here on the Grail since back in 2011, when Cat Vincent contributed an article about 'Slendy' to Darklore Volume 6. From small memes, however, big things grow - and in May this year it was announced that Slenderman would get his own movie.
And now, to add to that, HBO will be airing the documentary Beware the Slenderman in January. Here's the trailer, which focuses on the (real-life) attempted murder (by stabbing) in 2014 of a 12-year-old girl by two friends who claimed to be doing it on behalf of Slenderman:
Not much news about today, apologies. Everyone seems to be transfixed by some election thing that apparently happened yesterday...
- Is Marco Polo a fictional character?
- 9000-year-old tool discovered in Ireland shows that Mesolithic people had sophisticated burial rituals and even cremated their dead.
- Lamarck's 'debunked' theory of evolution is being pulled from the dustbin of history.
- Scientists think this is where your consciousness lives.
- A new wireless brain implant is helping paralyzed monkeys walk. Humans could be next.
- 1990s doomsday planners were worried about feminists breaching nuclear waste sites.
- Some animals use vomiting as a defense mechanism.
- How the dearly departed could come back to life - digitally.
- Robots will take two-thirds of all jobs in the developing world, UN says.
- Bizarre creature with transparent head found near Bali.
- Trump's NASA looks good for human space exploration, and terrible for Earth science. A new life awaits you in the Off-world colonies!
Quote of the Day:
You have power over your mind - not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.
Okay, so...President Biff?
- The controversial device that might make you feel the presence of a higher power.
- U.S. military successfully tests electrical brain stimulation to enhance staff skills.
- Inside the Jet Propulsion Laboratory: NASA's crazy, kooky, legendary research facility.
- Exploring Mexico's zone of silence...where radio signals fail and meteorites crash.
- How aliens might shield their planets from cosmic dangers.
- What triggered tsunamis that demolished Bronze-Age civilisation?
- Arabic translators did far more than just preserve Greek philosophy.
- The medium is the messenger: meet the new breed of American spiritualists.
- The mysteries of 'dreamless sleep' come to light.
- What sleeping will (probably) look like in the future.
- 6-year-old boy worshipped as the reincarnation of a Hindu god after medical condition left him with enlarged head and narrow eyes.
- Neanderthal DNA is being purged from our genomes.
- Researchers seek to explain the mysterious hovering flight of the hummingbird.
- Latest data shows the five hottest years on record have occurred since 2011. This is fine.
- Sea levels rising at unprecedented rate could displace millions of people by the end of the century. Everything is fine.
- Huge sinkhole opens up in Japanese city. No kaiju reported as yet.
- Whale vomit found by three fishermen will make them millions of dollars.
- Image of the Day: Gentleman discovers fossilized grizzly bear on Mars. Sounds legit.
Quote of the Day:
Propaganda should be popular, not intellectually pleasing. It is not the task of propaganda to discover intellectual truths.
"The Deeper You Go" is a half-hour documentary, available freely online, that looks into the mystery of consciousness:
Is consciousness a byproduct of the brain or is the brain a vehicle for consciousness? Preeminent minds debate the nature of consciousness in this 30 minute documentary. Featuring: Eben Alexander, Susan Blackmore, David Chalmers, Deepak Chopra, Patricia Churchland, Stanislas Dehaene, Daniel Dennett, Stuart Hameroff, Dean Radin, John Searle and Rupert Sheldrake.