News Briefs 20-07-2004

Do you remember what you were doing 35 years ago? I bet Neil Armstrong does.

  • Could this be the decade of the Moon? Didn’t we do this already? Did Peggy Sue get married?
  • Astronomers redate the very first marathon, based on phases of the Moon – and solve the mystery of why the very first marathon runner collapsed and died afterwards.
  • Forget about that lost Beagle, NASA now plans on sending a mole to Mars.
  • And NASA also announces the two latest proposals for their “New Frontiers” program.
  • Is Spirit starting to fade? Mars rover being driven backwards due to a problematic front wheel.
  • Rovers find that surface water existed on Mars for eons.
  • Asteroid fragments on a fast collision course with Earth.
  • Satellite sees sprites, jets and elves in the upper atmosphere.
  • Amish clue helps scientists find genetic basis for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
  • Researchers create super-conducting nano-cables.
  • Niacin found to be a potent brain protector against cognitive decline.
  • Health alert: don’t swat mosquitos, just flick them away.
  • Nigerian mobile phone use drops as rumours of a killer call spread like wildfire. We need a few of those rumours ourselves I think.
  • Japan seeks commercial whaling okay, to kill 3,000 Antarctic minkes. Free advice to the Japanese: just accuse the whales of having WMD, should work a treat.
  • Good mothers stop monkeys going bad. Such a shame when a good monkey boy goes off the rails…
  • Graham Hancock fans take note: Pre-Harappan bricks found in the Gulf of Cambay.
  • Lessons from The DaVinci Code. Write a novel based on alternative history books?
  • Roslyn Chapel’s Apprentice Pillar to be subject of thriller play.
  • Man remembers 1949 UFO sighting.
  • Mysterious crop damage featured on Linda Moulton Howe’s Earth Files website.
  • Mystery creature lurks in Baltimore County (with pics and video).
  • The ‘drums’ of Seneca Lake are just big methane burps. Pity the unwitting fisherman who lights a cigarette at the wrong time.
  • Students use ancient system of Vedic Maths to solve the big equations.

Quote of the Day:

If the human brain were so simple that we could understand it, we would be so simple that we couldn’t.

Emerson Pugh

  1. Alternative history fiction
    I said to myself years ago, “Holy Blood Holy Grail” would make a great premise for a thriller. Procrastination was my downfall, and Dan Brown is now a millionaire. Although Alan Folsom (“The Day After Tomorrow”), Daniel Easterman (“The Jaguar Mask”) and John Case (“The Genesis Code”, “The Eighth Day”), were writing alternative-history-conspiracy thrillers, and writing them better, years before Dan Brown.

    I can also recommend Michael Doherty’s “Area 51” series — from a 10’000 year old Sphinx to the latest UFO conspiracy theory, he does it all.

    And Stel Pavlou did an admirable job with “Decipher”.

    There’s definitely a market for it, but I can’t understand how Dan Brown has changed anything, there have been authors before him who wrote international bestsellers, like Folsom and Case.

    I guess it’s the Harry Potter syndrome — media hype. There have been plenty of books, such as Roald Dahl’s “Witches” and “Matilda”, or Jill Murphy’s “The Worst Witch”, or Diana Wynne-Jones’ “Chrestomanci” series, or the comic that JK Rowling borrowed heavily from (in my opinion she ripped it off), “The Books Of Magic” by Neil Gaiman — plenty of books that have been there first, yet a new author explodes onto the scene, makes millions, and suddenly they’re considered the first, the original, the benchmark, and everything similar gets compared to them. First it was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, then it was the Power Rangers, then Pokemon, and Harry Potter was simply the next well-timed fad. Adults were itching to be a part of this and this is why I think Dan Brown has done so well with “The Da Vinci Code” — it’s Pokemon for adults.

    Now excuse me, I have work to do on my UFO-archaeology-thriller set in China …


    “Read like a butterfly, write like a bee.” – Philip Pullman

    1. The picture looks much to sam
      The picture looks much to same as a similiar case a few weeks ago. In that instance, the creature in question was fox with mange.

  2. Emerson Pugh.
    Quote of the Day:
    If the human brain were so simple that we could understand it, we would be so simple that we couldn’t.
    Emerson Pugh

    Has to be one of the best quotes you’ve ever presented! Although it is a shame to see that the human brain married to modern technology (like the MRI) is rendering this irony trite. We are now a long way toward understanding the human brain. How ironic!

    1. Consciousness

      I think there’s still a hell of a lot we don’t understand about the brain. Certainly modern science has given us amazing insights into brain function. But the mysteries of consciousness, memory etc are still way beyond us.

      Peace and Respect

      You monkeys only think you’re running things

      1. Theories of Mind
        Hey Greg, great News, and all from that comfy sun-chair too!

        On the subject of consciousness, I wonder if you’ve come across the great philosopher John Searle? In an interview he compared brains relation to mind with:

        “Look at this glass of water, for example. It’s liquid. Now, liquidity is a real feature, but the liquidity is explained by the behavior of the molecules, that is, the liquid behavior is explained by the behavior of the molecules, even though the liquidity is just a feature of the whole system of molecules. I can’t find a single molecule and say “This one is liquid, this one is wet, I’ll see if I can find you a dry one.” Similarly, I can’t find a single neuron and say “This one is conscious or this one is unconscious.” We’re talking about features of whole systems that are explained by the behavior of the microelements of those systems. So I think the philosophical problem is resolved. That is, I don’t have any worry about the philosophical mind-body problem. But the scientific problem — how exactly does the machinery do it? — that’s still very much up for grabs. ”

        Agree or disagree, Searle is one of the greatest thinkers in the field and anyone writing on the subject has to deal with his arguments.
        To sit in silence when we should protest makes cowards out of men

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