Mar 26, 2013 I Miguel Romero

Red Pills of the Week — March 23rd

Greetings, fellow Coppertops! This week the Fortean Matrix will show us parallel universes beneath the oceans' crust, along with submersed technological wonders --both ancient & contemporary. We'll meet shape-shifting agents of the Secret Service, along with well-toned Bigfoots working out in the Georgia woods. And as we peer into the night sky in search of more fiery heralds of change, we'll cross the chasm of infinity to glimpse deep into the beginning of Time itself. Spring has finally arrived, so I guess it's time to discard those heavy trent coats in favor of something lighter --the shades stay, of course.

10 Put on your diving suits & fins, my friends, because for our first Pill we'll take a dive deep into the bottom of the sea, where Danish biologists have found an entire ecosystem flourishing in the cracks of the oceanic crust, so detached from the rest of the planetary biosphere they are calling it a 'parallel universe'.

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If you aren't excited by rocks, you should be! Rocks!

These microorganisms depend on chemical reactions --chemosynthesis-- to survive, and the way the biologists made this startling discovery was by collecting rock samples from the the Juan de Fuca Plate, about 120 miles off the coast of Washington --some 1.5 miles below the ocean’s surface and beneath another 1,000 feet of sediment-- and then proceeded to simulate the conditions of their natural environment, and study the samples for 7 whole years --which would make these scientists prime candidates for adoption of a pet rock...

Biogeochemist Everett Shock of Arizona State University, also not involved in the research, isn’t yet ready to rule out multicellular life. “My bet is on fungi,” he said, “but there are other possibilities, including things that may be quite unfamiliar.”

Indeed, such findings sparkle the imagination. And even though Verne's fans might be deprived to find some hidden mastodons or dinosaurs living beneath our surface, is it so preposterous to conceive that some form of complex multi-cellular beings are currently thriving, near the warmth  of our planetary core?

9 It's startling to conceive that we currently know more of what lies beneath our atmosphere, than what hides beneath our oceans --and I'm not only talking about weird natural ecosystems or the occasional elder god snoring inside its submarine coffin.

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Cthulu by Shadow-net on DeviantArt

Take for example one of my favorite OOP objects ever found: the Antikythera mechanism, discovered in 1901 by sponge divers and relegated to some dark corner of a museum's basement, until our Science was mature enough to understand its incredible significance.

Last year we announced that a new expedition was being prepared, seeking to go back to the same underwater shipwreck where the ancient computer had been originally found, and now the initials results of this project have finally been publicized:

You have to "urn" a living some how... I got jokes.

The largest item recovered was a huge lead anchor stock. It was lying on a semicircular object that might be a scupper pipe, used to drain water from the ship's deck. If so, the ship may have gone down as she was sailing with the anchor stowed. The team also raised an intact storage jar (amphora), which matches those previously recovered from the wreck. DNA tests may reveal its original contents.

Most intriguing are dozens of irregular spherical objects sprinkled across the wreck site. They look like rocks but contain flecks of green, suggesting small bronze fragments, corroded and encrusted in sediment after thousands of years in the sea. This is just what the Antikythera mechanism looked like when it was discovered. Then again, they could be collections of ship's nails.

Then again... they could be something more interesting...

8 In a way, the oceans act like the storage vault of Humanity, jealously guarding the treasures of civilizations both old & not-so-old. Fortunately for us, there's always bold individuals willing to pick the lock & peer inside.


One of those bold fellows is Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who decided to use his considerable wealth to recover the Saturn V rocket engines that carried the first men to the moon in 1969, which were thought to be irretrievably lost deep beneath the Atlantic ocean. Glad to know all those sales of 50 Shades of Gray were finally put to good use!


Yet I can't help to feel mad about all this. C'mon Jeff! you have the capacity to go to the bottom of the Atlantic freaking ocean, but you still can't ship my copies of Nick Redfern's newest books in less than 3 weeks??? Priorities, dude. PRIOR-EH-TIES!

7 Saturn V's engines are a valuable testament of the bygone days of space exploration, when men were sent to do a robot's job. Now sadly, the rover's get all the fun.

We now return to planet Mars, where Curiosity has crushed a rock dubbed 'Tintina' (?) with its 1-ton weight --evidently robots loathe Slim Fast shakes-- and revealed a bright white interior, indicative of the Red Planet's wetter infancy.

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Erosion is a slow process.

"The first time we tried to take the image [of Tintina], it saturated the detector, because we had no idea we'd have something so bright," said Jim Bell, from Arizona State University in Tempe.

That's kinda cool & creepy at the same time, realizing that we're finding stuff on Mars that our best minds weren't prepared for (more on that up ahead).

6 Speaking of finding things we weren't expecting, this week many news outlets were oh-so eager to announce that the aging probe Voyager 1 had finally left our solar system --something regular readers of this column would prompt to exclaim "wot, again?."

In fact after the hasty announcement, some NASA spokesmen rushed to explain the general consensus is that Voyager has not yet exited the boundaries of our stellar neighborhood. And all this suddenly made me recall one of my favorite explanations of the infamous Fermi paradox: the Zoo hypothesis  --the idea that advanced civilizations would keep the Earth quarantined as some sort of wildlife preserve, the same way vast regions of the African savannah are devoted to the conservation of endangered animals.

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"Oh and in case I don't see ya..."

I have my own version of the Zoo hypothesis, which I call the Truman Show hypothesis: the idea that humans are the unwilling cast in some sort of reality TV show, for the entertainment of a bored transdimensional audience. In which case I'm half-expecting something like THIS to happen with our little V'ger wannabe:


5 If we exist solely to amuse a crowd of hyper-advanced tricksters, then it's not so far-fetched to assume that once in a while our overlords might fancy to 'beam down' and interact with their creations, the same way we interact with synthetic individuals on computer videogames.

That's the conclusion some might reach after watching this strange video taken during president Obama's speech at the AIPAC conference in 2012, where a member of his Secret Service's security detail has been declared to be a shape-shifting alien by the Youtube poster jane trivum:


I for one can hardly blame the Obama administration for hiring Reptilian shape-shifting aliens --I bet they cause far less scandals abroad, and are sure to pay in full for the services of local prostitutes.

4 Reptilians seem to be as phobic to cameras as North America's favorite cryptid, Bigfoot. The Interwebz & the Youtube are choke-full of boring 'blob-squatches' that force die-hard Bigfooters to squint their eyes in front of their computer screens, trying to discern the rear from the end in some vague clump of brownish pixels.

Well, the rear is more than evident in this new image allegedly taken in the forests of Georgia, as reported by our comrades of the Who Forted? webzine. As in the legendary Patterson-Gimli footage, this new photograph distincts itself from your usual guy-in-a-suit fake, clearly shows the musculature  behind the hair of what looks like a bipedal anthropoid figure.

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"I like Bigfoots & I cannot lie!"

If the image is real, that is.

To be honest, it's hard not to feel suspect of this new photo, which could be either a small action figure posed in front of a forest background, or an elaborate suit composed of several felt patches. But a small part of me still wishes this image to be the real deal, and that it might foster a new batch of Bigfoot enthusiasm --even if it's for all the wrong reasons.


3 The curvy shape of another interesting character has been the subject of most debate amid many scholars. I'm talking about the legendary pharaoh Amenophis IV, better known as Akhenaten, whose effeminate features & bulbous abdomen has caused Egyptologists to ponder whether the ancient ruler suffered from some genetic disorder --and among the less orthodox it is the clear evidence of extraterrestrial hybridization.

Akhenaten - Hot alien dude or just weird looking human dude?

The only thing that can be said with any certainty is that Akhenaten's religious views were revolutionary, in that he discarded the traditional pantheon of his forefathers in favor of one supreme deity: the Sun (Athen). Because of this, I think there's a prevalent inclination among both scholars & profane to idealize this ancient king, and think of him as a progressive ruler ahead of his time.

Sadly, that might not be the case at all. New diggings at the commoner's cemetery of Amarna --the short-lived capital of Egypt that Akhenaten ordered built in honor of the sun-god-- provide tantalizing evidence that the monotheist pharaoh's kingdom was no paradise on earth for his lowly subjects (both adults & children) whose skeleton remains show the effects of hard labor & severe malnutrition.

So next time an Ancient Aliens fan starts to tell you about Akhenaten & his extraterrestrial ascendency, point him or her to this article to show that, alien or not, the dude was still a major douchebag.

2 Some of the most beautiful examples of Egyptian jewelry are made of a mysterious type of yellow glass, that's been a matter of debate for many years. To the conservatives the material was formed by the impact of a meteor or a cometary body, and to the more unorthodox thinkers it is evidence of nuclear detonations in ante-diluvian times.

Yellow Glass

If we follow the rationale that big meteor impacts occurred during the Anthropogenic era --i.e. when our ancestors were walking about-- then it would help us understand the ancients' widespread preoccupation with astronomy, and the detailed tracking of celestial bodies --something even in our modern age of iPads & Game of Thrones should worry us as well...

We were recently reminded of our fragility on February 15th, when a big fireball made worldwide headlines after it was seen crossing the skies of Russia, and ended up causing considerable material damage. Astronomers were quick to reassure us that the Russian meteoroid had nothing whatsoever to do with the asteroid 2012 DA14, which ALSO made a close flyby on that same day --even after reports from another fireball had come out of the Cuban province of Cienfuegos prior to the Feb. 15th incident.

Well, guess what: ANOTHER large (green!) fireball was spotted last Friday 22nd crossing the skies over the eastern coast of the United States. Have we suddenly moved to a slightly more dangerous spot of galactic real estate?

And it's not that I wanna go all Chicken Little on y'all, but maybe we should start to seriously consider establishing an international effort to track & deflect all the hazardous pebbles zipping past our heads.

1 No matter how much we think we know about outer space, the Universe is always eager to beat the arrogance out of us. Of the things that keep cosmologists awake at night, one of the most dreaded is what they call the 'Axis of Evil'. But unlike Bush & Cheney, who used the term to exploit the public's ignorance for their own benefit, cosmologists coined the term to illustrate their own ignorance.

In the simplest laymen's terms, the axis of evil refers to a seeming orientation in space, provided by the way hot & cold spots aligned against the cosmic microwave background (CMB). So where's the evil in that, you might ask? The answer is that out current models of the Big Bang assume that the Universe's origin was governed by complete random events, which would mean that during its initial stages, the Universe should display a perfectly homogeneous pattern. Should, yet it didn't in 2005 when the CMB was first measured by Kate Land and João Magueijo at the Imperial College in London.

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Dat Perfect Universe

The problem, most cosmologists concluded, would be surely solved once they obtained more detailed readings, which would no doubt erase that obnoxious axis once and for all. Such readings would be obtained thanks to the new Planck space telescope, launched by the European Space Agency (ESA), which was launched in January 2012.  Alas, the recently released findings of the telescope --which are 3 times more accurate than the initial data Land & Magueijo had in 2005-- reveal that the Axis of Evil is still there, laughing at the face of modern Cosmology, and threatening to discard some of our more treasured ideas of how the Universe came to be.

So odd to think that in our Brave New World of the XXIst century, knowledge is still considered... demonic ;)

Until next time, this is RPJ jacking out, wishing you never fear to learn that you might be wrong.

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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