In the northern Ethiopian town of Lalibela one can find a number of churches that have been hewn out of the solid rock of the natural landscape. These chthonic churches were carved into their shape in the 12th century - though some theories suggest the initial work began several centuries earlier - at the behest of of the Emperor of Ethiopia, Saint Gebre Mesqel Lalibela, and their construction is said to mimic the layout of Jerusalem and the Holy Land in order to create a 'New Jerusalem'.
The churches are also said to take many features of Solomon's Temple, including a 'Holy of Holies' where a replica of the Ark of the Covenant is kept. This Judaic connection is found across many aspects of Ethiopian culture, from a rejection of pork as a food and similarities between Ethiopian and Judaic words, through to a strong belief that the Ark of the Covenant is housed in a church in the city of Axum.
Some say this Judaic 'heritage' arose directly from the construction of Lalibela as a 'New Jerusalem' in the 12th century, while others claim the influence is explained by various 'hidden histories' of Ethiopia, ranging from the involvement of the Knights Templar through to the hiding of the actual Ark of the Covenant in Ethiopia centuries before the destruction of Jerusalem.
Hancock was in Ethiopia in 1983, having been hired by the Ethiopian government to write and produce a coffee-table book extolling that country. He was greatly surprised when told that Ethiopia's Falasha Jews did not exist, and that many people could land in jail, or worse, if he went around photographing such nonexistents. Even so, off he went to Axum, deep in the desert, to see the temples and statuary of the Black Jews of Ethiopia. What he found was a sect that claimed to have the original Ark of the Covenant.
For a tour of some of these amazing, mysterious churches, see the video below:
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Quote of the Day:
“Have you thought of an ending?"
"Yes, several, and all are dark and unpleasant."
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring
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:
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
17 years posting the news, and nobody's done a Turing test on me yet...
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Quote of the Day:
Most of the intelligence out there must be artificial intelligence. We keep looking for critters like us living on a planet like ours, where in fact the majority of the intelligence out there is not biological. That would be my argument.
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.
Just in case you're eating calamari right now...
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Quote of the Day:
Call intuition cosmic fishing. You feel a nibble, then you've got to hook the fish.
Sometimes people describe the taste of their food as being better than sex. In other cases, the food actually is having sex with you. Posted by @ColinDickey, this horrifying passage is from Preparing the Ghost, by Matthew Gavin Frank.
Squid corpses, even when cooked, retain their sexual reflexes and have been known to inseminate our mouths. After eating calamari...a South Korean woman reported experiencing "severe pain" and a "pricking foreign-body sensation" in her mouth. From her tongue, inner cheeks, gums, throat, her doctor escised "twelve small, white, spindle-shaped, bug-like organisms." These were spermatophores, whicih possess seriously tenacious ejaculatory apparati, and a cementlike body, which allows for their attachment to materials like the tongue, inner cheeks, gums...
More information: That Squid On Your Plate Could Inseminate Your Mouth
The New Horizons space probe is fast approaching its rendezvous with Pluto, and in a new image just released the first real details of the dwarf planet's moon Charon have emerged, showing it to be a world of chasms and craters:
The most pronounced chasm, which lies in the southern hemisphere, is longer and miles deeper than Earth’s Grand Canyon, according to William McKinnon, deputy lead scientist with New Horizon’s Geology and Geophysics investigation team.
“This is the first clear evidence of faulting and surface disruption on Charon,” says McKinnon, who is based at the Washington University in St. Louis. “New Horizons has transformed our view of this distant moon from a nearly featureless ball of ice to a world displaying all kinds of geologic activity.”
The most prominent crater, which lies near the south pole of Charon in an image taken July 11 and radioed to Earth today, is about 60 miles (96.5 kilometers) across. The brightness of the rays of material blasted out of the crater suggest it formed relatively recently in geologic terms, during a collision with a small body some time in the last billion million years.
The darkness of the crater’s floor is especially intriguing, says McKinnon. One explanation is that the crater has exposed a different type of icy material than the more reflective ices that lie on the surface. Another possibility is that the ice in the crater floor is the same material as its surroundings but has a larger ice grain size, which reflects less sunlight. In this scenario, the impactor that gouged the crater melted the ice in the crater floor, which then refroze into larger grains.
A mysterious dark region near Charon’s north pole stretches for 200 miles. More detailed images that New Horizons will take around the time of closest approach to the moon on July 14 may provide hints about the dark region’s origin.
Those who have read recent instalments from our Darklore anthology series will no doubt have enjoyed Cat Vincent's explorations of the blurred lines between the mythical and the real, in his essays on 'The Slenderman' and on the rise of 'hyper-real religions'. In the video embedded above you'll find an outstanding talk by Cat that covers this topic eloquently and with some humour as well, ranging everywhere from the origins of paganism to the history of science fiction (which aren't actually that far apart, as you'll learn from Cat's talk).
Highly recommended - grab yourself a beverage, get comfy and enjoy!
(Warning: some cherished beliefs may be challenged.)
Two hours, three minutes and two seconds. That is the fastest time established by a human being running the Marathon.
Covering that same distance took 11 years for a 4-wheeled vehicle, which would seem like the worst mileage ever --unless you took into account this marathon was traversed on the surface of another world.
The above clip is a time-lapsed video produced by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, from the POV of the Opportunity rover's stereoscopic cameras, showing its progression from January 2004 to April of 20015. The rover's top speed is 0.18 km/h.
By comparison, the Apollo 17 astronauts traveled a total distance of 35.74 km on the lunar surface with the 'moon buggy' vehicle, just behind the Soviet Lunokhod 2 rover, who covered a total distance of 39 km in 1973. All this making Opportunity the undisputed long-distance champion in the entire solar system.
And the little guy is still going! Keep in mind its designers were originally counting its mission would only last 90 (Martian) days. Give me THAT kind of sturdiness and reliability over speed any Sol of the week, mister.
Rovin' rovin' rovin'
Keep on your explorin'
*sung with the Rawhide music*