News Briefs 05-12-2014

“Walking through the forest alone, a tree fell right in front of me… and I didn't hear a thing”.

Quote of the Day:

“I wish the first word I ever said was the word "quote," so right before I die I could say "unquote.”

Steven Wright

Ancient Humans Carved Geometric Art Half a Million Years Ago

Earliest Engraving

After analysing a collection of 166 freshwater mussel shells found at Trinil, on the banks of the Bengawan Solo river in East Java - the site of the famous 'Java Man' find in 1886, researchers have come to a stunning conclusion:

Using an electron microscope, scientists found a zigzag set of grooves incised into one shell. The marks push back the date for the earliest known geometric engravings by our ancestors by at least 300,000 years.

According to one of the researchers, Wil Roebroeks of Lieden University in The Netherlands, "the simple zigzag on the shell is the earliest engraving known thus far in the history of humankind. But: we have no clue why somebody made it half a million years ago, and we explicitly refrain from speculating on it" in terms of art or symbolism".

Link: Oldest engraving rewrites view of human history

Abstract: Homo erectus at Trinil on Java used shells for tool production and engraving

Nightmares of the Future: Deconstructing TRANSCENDENCE

SPOILER WARNING: This post completely spoils the plot of the movie TRANSCENDENCE.

This is the story of how I watched what was by all reports a terrible sci-fi movie and found either a subtle piece of anti-human film making, or a movie so devoid of meaning it acted as a vessel into which I poured my own thoughts until it spilled over into this very essay. You be the judge.

I'd been warned off Transcendence by people ranging from ordinary sci-fi fans to hardcore grinders and singularitarians alike. Everybody seemed unanimous that this was an instantly forgettable movie, bordering on a hate-crime against the future. So it was much to my surprise that upon eventually watching it – and hell, I'd sat through all three Left Behind movies (for reasons!), I could do this, surely – what I discovered was, ultimately, a stunningly anti-human movie that's arguably about our genocidal origins and fear of a world transformed turning against us. Less a technothriller than a tale of humanity's struggle against the forces of futurity it has unleashed upon the world; its inability to comprehend them and instinctual reaction to lash out against what it doesn't understand and can't empathise with.

Allow me to unpack my argument, and in the process completely spoiler a generic blend of Terminator 2, The Lawnmower Man and every other SF flick about the "rise of the machines" or a technological superman. Honestly, if you want a better examination of the ethics and issues of AI, watch ... Read More »

News Briefs 04-12-2014

It's beginning to look a lot like Spending…

Thanks to the Merch.

Quote of the Day:

"In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act."

˜George Orwell

Sight Unseen: Humans Are Able to See Infrared Light (Really)

You've seen the graph since you took Science class in primary school: The electromagnetic spectrum comprised of a tiny-winy slice of visible light, with ultraviolet and X-rays at the top, and infrared at the bottom. And ever since, our teachers have taught us that human beings are incapable of seeing both the infrared or ultraviolet radiation, without the aid of special equipment. Right?


Turns out a new experiment has demonstrated that, under a special set of circumstances, the human retina CAN perceive electromagnetic wavelengths at the infrared spectrum. The study was carried out by an international team of researchers co-led by scientists at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, and their paper was published on Dec. 1, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) Online Early Edition.

Using retina cells of both mice and humans, and powerful lasers that emit pulses of infrared light, the researchers found that when the laser was pulsed at rapidly-enough intervals, the light-sensing cells in the retina would get a "double whammy" of energy. When that happens, the eye would be able to detect the light, even though is actually below the range of the standard visible spectrum.

"We're using what we learned in these experiments to try to develop a new tool that would allow physicians to not only examine the eye but also to stimulate specific parts of the retina to determine whether it's functioning properly," said senior investigator Vladimir J. Kefalov, PhD, associate professor of ophthalmology and visual sciences at Washington University. "We hope that ultimately this discovery will have some very practical applications."

What originated the experiments was something of an odd 'glitch' in another investigation conducted by the research team, in which the team members reported seeing occasional green flashes when working with the infrared laser. Intrigued by the apparent impossibility of such visions, the scientists moved on in trying to solve the mystery.

"They were able to see the laser light, which was outside of the normal visible range, and we really wanted to figure out how they were able to sense light that was supposed to be invisible," said Frans Vinberg, PhD, one of the study's lead authors and a postdoctoral research associate in the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences at Washington University.

After consulting the scientific literature, as well as previous reports of people claiming to see in infrared, the team started to conduct trial-and-error experiments, and they eventually discovered that the shorter the pulse, the more likely is a person to perceive it. By packing more photons in the energy pulse makes it more possible that two photons with a wavelength of a 1000 nm (nanometers), would be perceived as a single photon of 500 nm, which falls into the range of visible light (between 400-720 nm).

What appeals to me about this study is not its potential applications in Medicine or industry --or the fact that the scientists didn't follow the "it can't be/therefore it isn't" of skeptics, which helped them uncover a new property of Nature-- but whether it could somehow play a factor in certain 'paranormal events'. Would it be possible that some 'ghostly' apparitions are the result of the witness' retina being excited by electromagnetic energy that, under certain circumstances, might be perceived as visible light?

I'm also reminded of John Keel's ideas about what he coined as the 'Superspectrum', because he was convinced that all paranormal phenomena --from ghosts to UFOs-- had essentially an electromagnetic nature. Also, think of all the reports of flashing lights illuminating UFOs like Xmas trees; not the best approach to go unnoticed --or is it?

Maybe it's possible that individuals who are more sensitive than the average, sometimes perceive manifestations that normally go unseen by the naked eye.

In any case, it's cool to think that my old 4th-grade Science book is now outdated. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm in the middle of my attempt to acquire supervision thanks to the Science for the Masses vitamin supplements. ___________________________________________

[H/T The Anomalist]

News Briefs 03-12-2014

If only.

  • The chilling sound of the Aztec death whistle.
  • Big bangs shake Britain.
  • 10 million years ago, our ancestors came down from the trees, to get drunk.
  • The forgotten brains.
  • Journalist obtains new footage of Phoenix lights showing military encounter with unknown aircraft.
  • Stephen Hawking warns artificial intelligence could end mankind. One presumes it's Hawking talking…
  • Stephen Hawking's new speech system is free and open-source. Will the real Hawking please stand up.
  • Meanwhile, robots can still act stupid. (h/t Boing Boing)
  • Nick Pope asks what alien life is worth.
  • NASA plans journey to Mars.
  • Or have they already been! Surely this 'statue' on Mars should be called BaROCK Obama. Daily Mail losing its touch?
  • Britain's ley line network due for radical upgrade.
  • Anglo-Saxon carving turns up in rockery rubble.
  • Transcending boundaries: identity and oppression within psychedelic culture. (h/t to
  • Researchers turn back clock on Antikythera Mechanism.
  • Scientists claim the Golden Ratio unifies science.
  • No resurrection for mummy daddy.
  • Unused lunar barfbags left on moon. Someone should tell this guy.

Quote of the Day:

Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.

Roald Dahl

Time Trap: Sci-fi Comedy Short Offers an Explanation for Anomalistic Alien Sightings

"Stranded in space, but not in time..." Time Trap is a fun and brilliantly produced sci-fi comedy short film (from Late Nite Films) which presents an alien-eyed view of anomalistic encounters.

The Only Pie Graph About Pyramids You Will Ever Need

Pyramid Pie Chart

Looking for a better understanding of ancient pyramids? Be sure to consult this handy pie chart for all you need to know...

(via @andrewducker)

News Briefs 02-12-2014

We found this minion of Cthulhu on the beach on the weekend. R'lyeh is rising my friends, stay safe...

Thanks David.

Quote of the Day:

[T]he void left by the collapse of traditional religious cosmology cannot be filled by the marvellous narrative that science unfurls. Despite its truths and wonder, this narrative remains too allied to the view of things from without to easily bond with the atrophied but vital experience of things from within.


Rapping Out the New World Order!

Want to understand the Machiavellian schemes by which the Illuminati keeps us all enslaved? You could either read David Icke's entire bibliography, and pay some 35 quid to listen to the Reptilians' nemesis speak live on Wembley; OR just listen to Juice Rap News' latest clip, which lays it all out with rhyme and reason:

BTW is it just me, or does the Illuminati spokesman Bill de Berg look A LOT like certain charismatic British entrepreneur?

[H/T RT News]