Nov 20, 2012 I Miguel Romero

Red Pills of the Week — November 17th

Greetings, fellow Coppertops! Our weekly excursion across the Fortean side of the Matrix will show us sociable smart bombs, rogue planets and invisibility cloaks. We'll find naive attempts to ask the White House to support out favorite hairy cryptids, and even more naive threats to destroy the Sphynx & the pyramids. And as we ponder on the mysteries of human consciousness with patients on vegetative state, we'll say good-bye to one of the last researchers from UFOlogy's golden age. I've been thinking: if the agents are capable of erasing your mouth so you can't make a phone call, would they also erase your thumbs to stop you from Tweeting?

(10) This week the whole world became worried with the escalation of hostilities between Israel & Hamas. Even though exchanging threats & bombs is practically a national past time in that part of the world, what's new is that in this case we bore witness to a new escalation in modern warfare: the deliberate inclusion of social networks.

With Israeli troops breaking the news of the Gaza strike in which a Hamas leader was killed on Twitter, one wonders if predator drones & smart bombs will start following Curiosity's example & open accounts of their own --"BRB I'm late for my blind date & it's gonna be a BLAST LOL LOL"-- in which case we would ALL be forced to follow them... just to be on the safe.

(9) Tracking who's following (or unfollowing) you on Twitter is really easy. Tracking rogue planets? not so much --even though scientists now think these wandering objects might be more common than we previously thought, in light of the finding of one of these star-less planets 100 light-years away.

"If this little object is a planet that has been ejected from its native system, it conjures up the striking image of orphaned worlds, drifting in the emptiness of space," [Study co-author Philippe Delorme of the Institute of Planetology and Astrophysics of Grenoble] said.

Rogues: they steal your moons from behind.

(8) To find the rogue planet, an international team made use of the Canada France Hawaii Telescope on Hawaii's Mauna Kea and the Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile. And speaking of Chile, we now have an update on the strange UFO videos taken in Chile during an air show, which we discussed on the very first installment of this column. Aside from CEFAA's (the official Chilean department that studies aerial phenomena) study of the videos, which seem to show objects displaying velocities & maneuvers impossible to accomplish by standard aircraft, Leslie Kean sought the analysis of 2 highly respected investigators in the field: Richard Haines, chief scientist for the National Aviation Reporting Center on Anomalous Phenomena (NARCAP), and retired Navy physicist Bruce Maccabee, an expert on photographic analysis of UFOs.

Unfortunately, the result of the analysis is inconclusive, since both researchers came to diametrically opposite conclusions --to Maccabee, there's no way to determine if there's triangulation of the same object taken by different camera, and in his opinion the likeliest explanation is that the UFOs are nothing but bugs; whereas Haines thinks that two different videos DID manage to capture the same object, showing it to be larger and faster than a bug, given how the distances between the two camera locations is somewhat considerable.

For their part, the CEFAA team has concluded their investigation and are ready to file this case as an unknown. They obviously don't seem to share Leslie's concerns that UFOs might pose a threat to air traffic --and to be hones, neither do I. As for myself, this outcome is rather anti climatic, and leaves me wondering whether we couldn't have found ANOTHER researcher in order to have a third opinion.

Alas, the Chilean videos will be now forced to join the more recent Denver footage, and cynic skeptics will be able to dismiss them as nothing but bugs --which bugs me a lot...

(7) People who ascribe an extraterrestrial provenance to UFOs speculate that these craft will no doubt be equipped with some sort of cloaking device, akin to the Klingons' birds of prey. Since invisibility would offer a tremendous advantage in the battlefield, a lot of effort is currently been put in the development of real-life 'Predator camouflage' --confirming my suspicions that DARPA is being run by a bunch of geeks like you & I!

Researchers at Duke University made a lot of Harry Potter fans squee, when they announced in 2006 the creation of  an 'invisibility cloak' composed of metamaterials. Unfortunately the cloak was only able to render an object 'invisible' to micorwaves --hardly adequate for escaping the dorm room & have some fun in the halls of Hogwarts. The system also allowed some 'reflections' which minimized the occultation effect. But now the same group of researchers have announced that they have perfected their system, as explained by grad student Nathan Landy, who joined the original team.

“We built the cloak, and it worked,” he said in a press release. “It split light into two waves which traveled around an object in the center and re-emerged as the single wave minimal loss due to reflections.”

Ten points to Landy's house for the annual House Cup award!

(6) Sure, movies have always been a great source of inspiration for many scientists & engineers, who keep struggling in bringing the magic of the silver screen to our daily lives. Take this year's Prometheus: while plot-wise the movie left a lot of Alien fans disappointed, it did manage to show a lot of cool future tech, like for example David's dream-scan helmet.

Could a device like that become a reality in the future? The next red pill seems to show that may indeed be the case! A new research carried out in the UK & Belgium shows that communication with patients in a vegetative state may be possible. The study involved the use of fMRI scanners, and showed how patients who are completely unable to interact with the outside world are nevertheless aware of their surroundings, and can respond to direct questions.

This new study might open the door for improving the treatment and quality of life of such patients. Although it could also permit patients to request the termination of their life. As always modern Science advances much more rapidly than our moral codes.


(5) Now that y'all stopped head-banging, it's important to point out how the last red pill also forces us to reconsider our notions re. the role of the human brain in the emerging of consciousness. And to further prove how little we know about the conscious and unconscious mind, let's move on to the next red pill: a new study shows that people can process short sentences and solve mathematical equations BEFORE they are aware of the words and numbers before their eyes! The experiments were carried out at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where more than 300 student volunteers were submitted to a technique called Continuous Flash Suppression (CFS), which consists of rapidly changing images shown in one eye, along with static images shown in the other --the 'scary mammal' aspect of our nature would force the changing images to take precedence, while the static images are injected subliminally to the unconscious --Tyler Durden anyone?

In the second part of the study, the scientists examined how the unconscious brain processes math problems. Using the CFS technique again, the researchers subliminally exposed the participants to three-digit equations, such as "9 − 3 − 4," for two seconds or less. Then, the participants were shown a number (without CFS masking it) and told to say it out loud. The students were quicker to read aloud a number that was the right answer to the equation they had just subconsciously seen. For example, after being exposed to "9 − 3 − 4," they were quicker to pronounce "2" than "3."  This suggests they subconsciously worked out the problem and had the answer on their lips.

This experiment presents with a neat dichotomy: either the human brain is able to process information at an unconscious level to a degree we had never thought possible --which might be even more acute among people who excel in split-second decisions, like soldiers or first-response public servants-- OR maybe, just maybe, sometimes the human mind is capable of attaining information instantly, bypassing the brain altogether. Such states of instant information are quite common in altered states of consciousness, like the ones experimented during mystical experiences.

I don't presume to know the answer to this, but I find it very neat how we're refining our questions.

(4) The fact that we might be better at Math than we realized goes counter with the recent caused by professor Gerald Crabtree, who maintains that our current society is making us stupider by each passing generation. According to Crabtree, the argument in Mike Judge's Idiocracy is quite true, and any shepherd in the Neolithic would be smarter and more emotionally balanced than you or I --so I guess instead of playing Portal 2 we should all just swap our consoles for a nice herd of god-damned sheep!

I'm not going to waste much time ranting against this nonsense --after all, Ben & Aaron voiced some of my own comments in the latest edition of the MU podcasts. Let me just point out 2 things: [1] that 3000 years ago I doubt someone like Stephen Hawking would have had much of a chance of surviving, let alone become a productive member of society; and [2] that 2400 years ago a guy by the name of Socrates started to warn his fellow Greeks about something which he thought would become the downfall of mankind. That terrible threat was the written book, which in his opinion allowed people to cheat and stop memorizing entire poems or philosophical treaties.

And let's just conclude by saying such fear-mongering has been used to attack everything from the Waltz, fiction novels, to movie films and Rock & Roll... so yeah, me no care me so dumb.

(3) Then again, it's news like the next one which makes you wonder if Crabtree might not be entirely wrong. This week the entire web was abuzz with fears raised by some fundamentalist pendejos in Egypt, who expressed their desire to blow the Sphinx & the pyramid for the glory of Allah --Allah... chingada!

Murgan Salem al-Gohary, an Islamist leader twice-sentenced under former President Hosni Mubarak for advocating violence, called on Muslims to remove such “idols.”

“All Muslims are charged with applying the teachings of Islam to remove such idols, as we did in Afghanistan when we destroyed the Buddha statues,” he said on Saturday during a television interview on an Egyptian private channel, widely watched by Egyptian and Arab audiences.

What's painful about these news is NOT that we should fear about the safety of these monuments, but that it further continues to promote a barbaric concept of Islam, whereas some 500 hundreds years ago it was completely the opposite --just think: the modern word Chemistry derives from the Arabic word al-kimia (الكيمياء) --which in itself might have derived from the ancient name given to the land of Egypt, Khem.

IMHO the pyramids are as endangered of being destroyed, as are the southern states in the USA of seceding from the Union after Obama's re-election, k?

(2) Oh yes, but that sure hasn't stopped some begrudging Southerners from promoting their wish to secede using the White House portal We the People *facepalm*

You know what else that portal is good for? showing some love for Bigfoot! As reported by Cryptomundo, On November 13th Ken N. of Chesterfield, MO started a petition to “Recognize the cryptid species known as Bigfoot as an endangered species in the United States of America."

Recognize the cryptid species known as Bigfoot as an endangered species in the United States of America.

Bigfoot also known as the "Sasquatch or Yeti" is in danger of becoming extinct.

We the people petition the Obama administration to recognize "Bigfoot" or "Sasquatch" as an American species of animal.

We plea with the Obama administration to recognize Bigfoot or Sasquatch as an American species of animal as soon as possible and put it on the endangered species list.

Research is an ongoing effort in the field of studying this creature, and one day it will be discovered and shown to the American public.

Please join our effort in recognizing this creature as an endangered species that needs to be saved!

Here's the link to the petition, in case you wanna join --because judging by the number of signatures gathered so far... the big fella needs ALL the help he can get.

(1) Organizing online petitions for Disclosure or to recognize the endangered status of Sasquatch is a very modern way to be a Fortean. It's almost difficult to envision how this game was played in its early days, when newsletters by UFO groups were sent through snail mail, and the best way to get the latest scoop about the flying saucers & the Space Brothers was attending a UFO conference. We certainly have come a long way since those humble beginnings... without really learning much about the mystery itself.

One of the few researchers who was able to witness the evolution of UFOlogy was none other than Jim Moseley, the legendary editor of Saucer Smear. Starting up as an enthusiastic young man, Moseley gradually became ever more disenchanted with both the phenomenon itself and the people devoted in studying it, who seemed more interested in promoting their books and unverifiable ideas, than trying to work together to crack the UFO enigma. Still, Moseley never really turned into a cynic skeptic, and although he maintained a belief in the otherworldly nature of the phenomenon, his caustic sense of humor and trickstery exploits gained him quite a few enemies among researchers and true believers.

I never managed to have any direct contact with Mr. Moseley, although in one occasion one of his associates did contact me via e-mail with regards to something I had commented on the famous Cash-Landrum case. Nevertheless, it is with a heavy heart that here in the pills we report the passing of such a notorious character of the wacky UFO world. Jim passed away last Friday at the age of 81.

Vaya con Dios, señor Moseley. I'm sure that a person of your genial sense of humor is ought to have a great time on the other side.

Until next time, this is RPJ jacking out. Remember: Love is just a word. What matters is the connection the word implies.

Miguel Romero

Miguel Romero a.k.a. Red Pill Junkie is a cartoonist and fortean blogger who writes at Mysterious Universe

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