A Rover's Martian Marathon

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'
Of Maaars!
*sung with the Rawhide music*


Alan Moore, As Seen Through the Eyes of a Stoned Skynet

Since Google decided to open-source their Deep Dream visualization tool, which was designed to help them understand how neural networks work in recognizing images through different 'layers' of appreciation, artists and programmers all over the world have been having a blast using it to create pictures worthy of a Hunter S. Thompson's nightmare --like the one above, featuring renowned graphic-novel writer Alan Moore.

I've been thinking a lot about DeepDream lately, and what it could possibly mean. Is it a quirk of Google's algorithms, or is it hinting at some fundamental aspect in the process of perception itself?

And, could it be related somehow to the UFO phenomenon aswell? I think it just might! I think in fact it's the perfect example of what my friend and colleague Greg Bishop has been proposing for sometime, of how when we observe something completely outside of our normal frame of experience --say, a disc-shaped object in the sky, or a humanoid form on the ground-- we unconsciously struggle to put inside one of our 'mental boxes'.

When we finally make it fit, the end result might be an aberration from the original signal, shaped by the expectations and desires of the observer.

In any case, DeepDream should at least give us some comfort in thinking the Robot Apocalypse is gonna be groovier than we thought --and to stay away from the killer sentries, just hide behind a flock of chickens...



News Briefs 09-07-2015

C'mon FOX! You call that a tease!!

Thanks to Charles.

Quote of the Day:

"Trust in dreams, for in them is hidden the gate to eternity."

˜Khalil Gibran

News Briefs 08-07-2015


Quote of the Day:

The reason the future feels odd is because of its unpredictability. If the future didn't feel weirdly unexpected, then something would be wrong.

Douglas Coupland

Breaking Convention 2015

Breaking Convention 2015

The 2015 Breaking Convention is on this weekend in London, so if you're in the area and interested in all things shamanistic and psychedelic you should definitely make the effort to get on down to the University of Greenwich and attend.

Speakers at the conference include a bunch of absolute legends in the field: Jonathan Ott, Kat Harrison, Rick Doblin, Amanda Feilding, Dale Pendell, Rick Strassman, Carl Ruck, Martina Hoffman and David Nutt. Also there will be a bunch of people Grailers might be well familiar with, including Daniel Pinchbeck, Anthony Peake, Jack Hunter and David Luke.

Fantastic line-up, sad that I'm on the other side of the globe from this one. Note though, if you're in the same boat as me, that the Breaking Convention website posts plenty of online videos of talks from previous years that you can enjoy from the comfort of your own home.

Link: Breaking Convention 2015

News Briefs 07-07-2015

My daughter Isis has started a blog about the books she's reading - check it out...

Quote of the Day:

You can turn your back on a person, but never turn your back on a drug, especially when its waving a razor sharp hunting knife in your eye.

Hunter S. Thompson

Jacques Vallee on UFOs, Remote Viewing and the COMETA Report

This is a short, little video of which I wished I had more information regarding when and where it was taken: Jacques Vallee, possibly our favorite UFOlogist in the world* --even though he deliberately chose to move away from the public eye of UFOlogy, because he grew tired of all the asinine in-fighting between 'researchers' promoting their favorite BS (Belief System)-- is shown discussing a few things about the phenomenon and its undeniable link with what we call 'psychic phenomena' --something MANY nuts-and-bolters refuse to acknowledge to this day.

He also briefly mentions his participation with SRI, the non-profit research institute which originally branched out of Stanford University --fun fact: SRI was responsible for the AI research behind Apple's Siri-- and was focusing on study the possible military and security applications of 'Remote Viewing' under the guidance of Hal Puthoff and Russell Targ during the 1970s and until 1995, when the program was (officially) cancelled.

It wasn't long before the UFO phenomenon become 'entangled' with the members of the Stargate Project, something which likely hurt the credibility of an already outlandish pursuit. A brief study of Remote Viewing, however, will bring anyone with an open mind to the conclusion that the program's (apparent) cancellation had nothing to do with its actual effectiveness though, but because the seemingly 'occult' properties of Remote Viewing did not sit well with the religious sensibilities held by the higher echelons of the US top brass --not to mention that spending billions of dollars in spy satellites is part of what makes the wheels of the Military Industrial Complex turning...

Finally, Monsieur Vallee brings up the famous COMETA report, which involved credentialed scientists and retired generals presenting the best available evidence in support of UFOs' existence, whose objective was to request academic circles and government bodies to take the phenomenon with the seriousness it deserves.

Unfortunately the report never gained the traction its redactors' hoped for, and Vallee thinks the reason for that has to do with what is still the biggest blight plaguing this field: The Roswell Mythos.

Why, the fact that 'World UFO Day' is supposed to commemorate what many researchers still believe is the be-all and end-all of UFOlogy, is proof enough of how this field is still too American-centered; ironic, considering how this is supposed to be a global mystery.

C'est la vie...


(*)If you want to understand why Vallee is our fave, you should probably grab a copy of Passport to Magonia [Amazon US & UK] and Messengers of Deception [Amazon US & UK], both re-issued by Daily Grail Publishing.


UPDATE: Our friend Eric Wargo informs us the video above was taken during the Q&A session of Vallee's talk at the 2007 IRVA (International Remote Viewing Association) conference. The entire presentation is available here.

Incidentally, you should also check out Eric's interview at The Paracast, in which he delivered a lot of thought-provoking ideas about synchronicities and UFOs.

News Briefs 06-07-2015

Surprising fact of the day: the Aztec Empire came into being 200 years after Oxford University began teaching students...

Quote of the Day:

A monopoly on the means of communication may define a ruling elite more precisely than the celebrated Marxian formula of ‘monopoly in the means of production.

Robert Anton Wilson

EdgeScience #22

Issue 22 of the free PDF magazine EdgeScience is now available to download from the website of the Society for Scientific Exploration (SSE). In the new issue:EdgeScience 22

  • "Toward Reconciliation of Science and Spirituality: A Brief History of the 'Sursem' Project", by Edward F. Kelly
  • "The Sirius Mystery: Time for a Reevaluation?", by Anthony Mugan.
  • "The Stralsund Incident of 1665", by Chris Aubeck and Martin Shough.
  • "Looking for a Revolution", by Andrew May.

Grab a free PDF or order a print version of EdgeScience 22 from the SSE website, and please consider a small donation to help the EdgeScience team continue with this excellent publication, via the button on the webpage. There's also a link to join the SSE on that page if you want to keep up with the latest academic research into the 'edgier' areas of science.