News Briefs 21-10-2016

“You must not change one thing, one pebble, one grain of sand, until you know what good and evil will follow on that act.”

Quote of the Day:

“All knowledge is local, all truth is partial. … No truth can make another truth untrue. All knowledge is part of the whole knowledge. … Once you have seen the larger pattern, you cannot get back to seeing the part as the whole.”

Ursula K. Le Guin

News Briefs 20-10-2016


Thanks @anomalistnews.

Quote of the Day:

I’ll show you politics in America. Here it is, right here.

“I think the puppet on the right shares my beliefs.”

“I think the puppet on the left is more to my liking.”

“Hey, wait a minute, there’s one guy holding both puppets!”

“Shut up! Go back to bed, America. Your government is in control. Here's Love Connection. Watch this and get fat and stupid.

Bill Hicks

Alien Intelligence: Stranger Than We Can Imagine?

"To search expectantly for a radio signal from an extraterrestrial source is probably as culture-bound a presumption as to search the galaxy for a good Italian restaurant." Ever since I first grokked this insight from Terence McKenna, I've made it a mission to try and think outside the anthropomorphic box when it comes to the question of what intelligent aliens might be like.

So I thought the Aeon video above was worth posting, along with the asking for your thoughts on what form ETI might take?

When we look for aliens, why do we always find ourselves staring back?

Humans have long imagined beings in other worlds or on other planets whose emotions, motivations and physiologies closely mirror our own. Science fiction in its many forms tends toward a human-inflected conception of non-human life out in the Universe. This view of aliens as rather like us is fine for ancient myths and Hollywood blockbusters, but even modern scientists can’t seem to shake the notion that extraterrestrials’ decisions and behaviour would follow logic and patterns akin to our own. Many of the major scientific projects seeking life elsewhere in the cosmos still rely on assumptions that reflect, above all, ideas about how we would do something if we were aliens.

We in fact already know what non-primate intelligence, of varying degrees, looks like: corvids, cetaceans, horses, even bees.

But what does it take to become an interplanetary species? A major topic, I think, has to be the ability to get yourself off the planet. Is it necessary to be able to construct complex devices, as we have with rockets? Or are there other ways - for example constructing hardy lightweight 'transports', such as mushroom spores, that could escape the planet on the explosion caused by an asteroid impact? Or are we even so primitive that we think interstellar travel requires fighting against the power of our gravity well, when advanced species simply transfer their consciousness or slip between dimensions?

Is this a question you've pondered? Would love to hear your ideas for what form an interplanetary alien species might be like, and what their transport technology they might use to travel.

News Briefs 19-10-2016

The beginning of the end?

Quote of the Day:

Everything starts somewhere, although many physicists disagree.

Terry Pratchett

The Lunatics are Running the Asylum

Alex Jones

During this mad election cycle we have covered a number of stories about 'Wikileaked' emails to John Podesta - one-time chief of Hillary Clinton's campaign - concerning the UFO phenomenon. Some of the 'rational' crowd may have raised an eyebrow at this, but given that Podesta has long been known as a UFO tragic, and yet functions fine (or rather, at a very high level) regardless, it wasn't exactly ground-breaking news.

The Clinton campaign though is not alone in having some people in high-level positions who are interested in 'fringe' topics. In a new Kindle 'Single' titled The Elephant in the Room, author Jon Ronson outlines how the Trump campaign has been influenced by conspiracy talk show host Alex Jones.

Ronson has a long history with Alex Jones - as part of the research for his book Them: Adventures with Extremists, the pair 'broke into' the infamous Bohemian Grove encampment and filmed a mock sacrificial rite. So when Ronson noticed Donald Trump praising Alex Jones during a campaign rally, he decided to track down Jones and talk to him about it. Why?

Donald Trump might be on the verge of becoming the leader of the free world, and it was incredible to discover that he takes Alex seriously - that Alex might be influencing him.

Alex is basically the most irresponsible man I have ever met. He uses his powers to inflame paranoia. He boldly makes stuff up to suit his weird agenda. Alex eschews facts and reason and he definitely should not have political sway.

Ronson discovered that a number of Trump's conspiratorial talking points seem to have originated directly from Jones's monologues via his site the 'Hillary for Prison' meme, and the 'rigged election', just two examples.

But how did Trump come to be paying attention to Alex Jones? Turns out the influence comes through Trump's right-hand man, Roger Stone:

Stone's beliefs, i later discovered, were just as crazy as Alex's. He had advised Trump in 2011 that there were "a lot of questions" about President Obama's birth certificate. He was forever juggling an array of malicious theories. Right now he was working on a book about how John F. Kennedy Jr. was murdered by the Clintons, while concurrently spreading a theory that Hillary Clinton's adviser Huma Abedin was a "Saudi asset".

Jones's crazy ideas about the Presidential election have even got some air-play from President Barack Obama, who had some fun with the theory that both Obama and Hillary were - literally - demons:

Anybody who has been around the fringe scene for a while (and I have) knows that Alex Jones is either as mad as a cut snake, or acts that way intentionally for showmanship purposes (or perhaps more likely, a little from column a, a little from column b). it is, once again, a sad indictment of the scene (and also, a large percentage of the US population) that it's guys like Jones who end up earning money, and now gaining political power, due to the many thousands of fools that are suckered by his schtick and buy into it to confirm their own sad beliefs.

Link: The Elephant in the Room: A Journey into the Trump Campaign and the "Alt-Right"

News Briefs 18-10-2016

Death and bananas...

Thanks @anomalistnews.

Quote of the Day:

I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it.

Mark Twain

We Are Made of Star Stuff

The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of starstuff.”

- Carl Sagan, Cosmos

Sometimes we forget just how incredible our existence is. So here's a quick reminder from astronomer Dr. Michelle Thaller that you are, quite literally, made of the remains of an exploded star (along with the scientific explanation for why).

(via The Kid Should See This)

News Briefs 17-10-2016

Thumbs up for miracles...

Thanks to @CultofWeird and @djp1974.

Quote of the Day:

So remember, when you're feeling very small and insecure,
How amazingly unlikely is your birth.
And pray that there's intelligent life somewhere out in space,
Because there's bugger all down here on Earth!

Monty Python, 'The Galaxy Song'

Two Mysterious Cavities Discovered Hidden Within the Great Pyramid

Pyramid Anomaly

Almost a year ago we wrote about the announcement of the 'Scan Pyramids' project, which aimed to search for hidden chambers in the pyramids of Egypt. Just two weeks later came a breaking news story on an 'impressive anomaly' being detected behind the outer blocks of the Great Pyramid at ground level, suggesting the existence of a secret passageway or room.

A year on, and we finally have more news on the Great Pyramid investigation. Only, the much-vaunted 'impressive anomaly' on the pyramid's eastern side doesn't get a mention; instead new 'cavities' have been found:

An unknown cavity was detected at a height of about 345 feet from the ground on the northeastern edge of the monument, while a "void" was found behind the northern side at the upper part of the entrance gate.

"Such void is shaped like a corridor and could go up inside the pyramid," Mehdi Tayoubi, founder of the Paris-based Heritage Innovation Preservation Institute, told Seeker.

He added that no link can be made between the two cavities at the moment.

...Tayoubi and his colleagues placed detectors sensitive to muons, called emulsion plates, inside the pyramid to discern dense areas from less dense areas — essentially the bones and tissue of the pyramid. When the films from the detectors were analyzed at Nagoya University in Japan, they revealed a significant excess of muons in the same direction, strongly pointing to a corridor-like void.

"The precise shape, size and exact position of this void is now under further investigation," the researchers said.

Exactly how much 'further investigation' will be possible is up in the air though, as a familiar face heads up the scientific committee overseeing the investigation - and this particular person is not a fan of other people getting the glory ahead of him...

The results have been submitted to a scientific committee led by the former minister of antiquities Zahi Hawass... [He] believes more research is needed before it can be confirmed that the results point to hidden cavities or secret rooms.

"These people are scientists and do not have an archaeological background. The core of the pyramid was built using long stones and small stones. If you know that, you'll find anomalies everywhere," Hawass told Seeker in a phone interview.

"I think there are no secret rooms and these anomalies have to do with the way the pyramid was built," Hawass said.

There is currently no new information posted on the Scan Pyramids website, but we'll keep an eye out for new videos or press releases in the near future that might offer more information.

Link: Great Pyramid Find: Two Mysterious Cavities With Unusual Features