Greetings, fellow Coppertops! This week the Fortean Matrix has in store for us archeological discoveries, mysteries of Time & Space, along with wonders of the natural world. We’ll encounter dark lightnings, time machines and ancient stone structures submerged in the lake of Galilee. And as we try to wiggle a rat’s tail with nothing but the power of our minds, we’ll visit the subcontinent of India in search of a real-life X-Men mutant. So sit in your designated chairs & prepare to say good-bye to Kansas.
10 Our first stop deals with NASA’s plans for the near future, specifically their intention of bagging an asteroid –something so wacky it was initially mistaken for an April Fools joke!
But defending our planet from cosmic collisions is no joke, no matter the inevitable comparisons with the film Armageddon. That’s why they plan to allocate a portion of their proposed $17.7 billion budget to send miniature robotic probes to a small asteroid, which will then drag it into an orbit around the moon so that human astronauts can then pretend to be wimpier version of Bruce Willis –they will not try to destroy the asteroid, but instead bring back samples to Earth. Something that will probably not earn them the right to be excused of taxes in perpetuity.
In the wake of a meteor exploding over Russia in February and a football-size asteroid whizzing by the earth just hours later, NASA’s latest strategy, dubbed by some proponents as “planetary defense,” seems designed to generate broad public support as well as a favorable response on Capitol Hill. NASA officials say the asteroid to be moved could be about 30 feet long and weigh roughly 500 tons. If all goes well, astronauts could be orbiting around it as soon as 2021.
On the one hand I like this idea, because perhaps NASA is considering this plan to be in par with the objectives of private enterprises seeking to exploit the natural resources of asteroids. Space mining could then turn into the United States’ most profitable industry in the XXIst century & beyond. But let’s not kid ourselves here: what the public has been dreaming with is of a human mission to Mars & a return to the Moon; those are the kind of plans that inspire younger generations to seek a career in Science & Engineering. NASA & future administrations needs to keep that in perspective if they want to preserve their leadership in space.
9 From NASA we now turn to NAZCA, and the famous giant geometric shapes scattered around the desert in southern Peru. Thanks in part to Erich Von Däniken’s questionable ideas, the lines were designated as a UNESCO world heritage site in 1994. Unfortunately, that hasn’t earn them any kind of protection against the senseless greed of a Peruvian mining company, which has already destroyed several of these millenarian glyphs in order to extract limestone.
“We have witnessed the irreparable destruction to a set of lines and trapezoids that existed in the area…
The limestone firm responsible has not been sanctioned or supervised by the authorities of the Regional Directorate of Culture of Ica, despite being in this great archaeological reserve.
The company argues that the land where the plant is installed is private property and that the owner can do whatever he wants on his land, but this is not so.”
Alas, this kind of douchebaggery is all too common in Latin America, where weak government agencies dare not to interfere with the commercial interests of multinational companies –and more often than not officials in those agencies are easily bribed. Such was the case of the recent scandal uncovered by The New York Times with regards to the shady deals behind the construction of a Walmart store near the archeological site of Teotihuacan –the Mexican government uttered a collective “Meh” and paid not attention to it.
Perhaps using a social media community like Avaaz would be helpful into bringing the Nazca situation to the public at large, so that those responsible of defiling the landing pads of the ancient astronauts are made to pay –or maybe the Annunaki will take care of these a-holes once they finally return.
8 Like Peru, Israel has a great archeological heritage, the product of a continuous habitation ever since our ancestors walked out of Africa. Recently archeologists announced the discovery of a massive stone structure at the bottom of the Sea of Galilee –which is not an actual sea, but the largest fresh-water lake in the Holy Land– that has a lot of people scratching their heads, since its age & purpose are not at all evident.
The mysterious structure is cone shaped, made of “unhewn basalt cobbles and boulders,” and weighs an estimated 60,000 tons the researchers said. That makes it heavier than most modern-day warships.
Religious folks will no doubt recognize the Sea of Galilee as one of the most frequented sites of Jesus & his apostles, which prompted me to elaborate my own theory about this stone structure: it was built by the J-man himself, to pull out the famous ‘walking on water’ trick.
7 *Phew!* So fortunately God has a good sense of humor & no lightning stroke me after writing such a blasphemous pill. Speaking of which, scientists have discovered the black sheep of thunderstorms: Dark lightning, a previously unknown burst of powerful gamma radiation that occurs naturally on planet Earth. The reason this is so mind-bending is because gamma rays are commonly associated with space particles accelerated by stellar explosions –a.k.a. cosmic rays– and this might pose an unknown threat for airline passengers, even though to this day it’s unknown whether anyone has been actually hit by a dark lightning, and their energy dissipate very quickly in all directions.
I find this news very cool because we’re finding a new phenomenon in one of the most common of natural occurrences. So who knows what else we might find in events we think we already know well.
6 Thunderstorms are so unpredictable, that the only way we could know for certain where a lightning will strike is if we had a time machine –the advantages of thinking four-dimensionally, Marty!
And yet the building of an actual time machine is exactly the claim made recently by Ali Razeghi, a 27-year-old Iranian scientist. But instead of a bitchin’ DeLorean equipped with a flux capacitor, Ali’s machine is more akin to the device envisioned by Philip K. Dick in his short story Paycheck, in that instead of physically transporting you into a different time-line, it would manage to “produce a print-out detailing any individual’s life between five and eight years in advance after taking readings from the touch of a user. ” Not the sexiest time machine if you’re planning a Hollywood blockbuster, but even that would give any nation or corporation a considerable advantage against its enemies.
(I’d recommend listening to Russell Targ’s interview on The Paracast, where he gave an interesting recipe on how remote viewing can be used to predict the stock market & play black jack in a Vegas casino)
(5) As you can well imagine, the ‘Iranian time machine’ story gathered a lot of ridicule among the skeptical community. But if there’s something skeptics hate more the wild claims coming from Persia, is the popularity of near death experiences. One of the most recent news to trigger their ire was a lady named Crystal McVea making an appearance in the TV show ‘Fox & Friends’ in which she recalled the incredible heightened state of sensorial perception during her NDE –which was insultingly promoted by Yahoo! News as “Woman claims she smelled God”, triggering a deluge of cheap mocking among skeptics who wondered whether the scent of the Almighty would be like Old Spice or Axe deodorant.
The fact of the matter is that the mention of an increased level of awareness is universally consistent with the NDE accounts found in the literature, strengthened with a recent scientific study which discovered how NDE experiences are perceived as more vivid & real than actual memories of real events. But for the skeptical mindset no amount of evidence will be sufficient to convince them that there’s more to NDEs than mere neurochemical activity. They will readily point out to several studies in which SOME aspects of NDEs and/or OBEs have been recreated, which in their minds settle the matter fully. They made me wonder whether when they go out to a bar & order a drink of vodka, they will be fully satisfied if the bartender serves them instead a glass of water –after all, water shares some of the characteristics of vodka, right? water it’s transparent, wet, it’s served in a glass…
I for one would rather miss the more enjoyable qualities of a good shot of Moskovskaya. Nostrovia!
4 The fact of the matter is that modern medical techniques have significantly raised the number of people who’ve been literally resuscitated from the land of the dead; something doctor Sam Parnia, head of intensive care at the Stony Brook University Hospital in New York, knows only too well.
And yet he thinks those numbers could be increased if hospitals were just willing to upgrade their obsolete resuscitation techniques, something he explores in his book The Lazarus Effect: The Science That is Rewriting the Boundaries Between Life and Death. He believes that conventional non-expensive procedures could save the lives of 40,000 Americans a year.
That is hardly the extent of Parnia’s beliefs mind you, after a whole career of dealing with the blurry frontier between life & death. When asked about his personal investigation of NDEs he responds:
“When I first got interested in these mind/body questions, I was astonished to find that no one had even begun to put forward a theory about exactly how neurons in the brain can generate thoughts,” he says. “We always assume that all scientists believe the brain produces the mind, but in fact there are plenty who are not certain of that. Even prominent neuroscientists, such as Sir John Eccles, a Nobel prizewinner, believe that we are never going to understand mind through neuronal activity. All I can say is what I have observed from my work. It seems that when consciousness shuts down in death, psyche, or soul – by which I don’t mean ghosts, I mean your individual self – persists for a least those hours before you are resuscitated. From which we might justifiably begin to conclude that the brain is acting as an intermediary to manifest your idea of soul or self but it may not be the source or originator of it… I think that the evidence is beginning to suggest that we should keep open our minds to the possibility that memory, while obviously a scientific entity of some kind – I’m not saying it is magic or anything like that – is not neuronal.”
3 Parnia wants more people brought back from death so they can share the tale of whatever it is they experienced. Researchers of entheogenic substances, and the benefits they could provide in the treatment of depression & other illnesses, wish for a similar thing.
Unfortunately to them, their investigations are considered an anathema to our modern view of psychotropic substances. Something professor David Nutt would know more than most: Back in 2009 he was fired as UK government’s chief drug adviser after showing criticism on the British policies on cannabis –he said the government’s stance was against scientific evidence– and now in 2013 his research on the benefits of psylocibin has been critically damaged, since even though the study was properly approved and granted the necessary funds, Nutt has been unable to acquire the ‘magic mushrooms’ necessary to conduct the trials.
Under the law, academic researchers are not allowed to manufacture their own Class A drugs and must obtain them from external sources. Companies that could supply the drugs have to go through “regulatory hoops” to obtain the necessary Home Office licence, said Prof Nutt. This could take up to a year and triple the cost, he maintained.
Other major hurdles were the EU guidelines on Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP), which set daunting standards for potential suppliers, and rules on storage.
Only four hospitals in the UK currently have a licence to hold psilocybin, making it difficult to roll the drug out as a prospective treatment, said Prof Nutt.
I’ve said it before & I’ll say it again: at (nearly) 40 years of age, I no longer expect to witness the fabled ‘Disclosure’ of an alien presence in our planet –sorry Stephen– but I however, wish to be alive when the nonsensical repression against mind-altering substances are finally abolished. Then we might find ourselves into a better position to understand the mysteries of the human mind –which could very well solve UFOs, Bigfoot, ghosts, & the whole caboodle as a bonus…
2 It seems almost as if the whole purpose of modern civilization is the effective control & regulation of human behavior. To keep us like trained rats, pursuing the unattainable cheese while we slave ourselves running amid the economic maze. Our scientist might not yet be able to control the thoughts of men, and not even the thoughts of rats, but a new interface developed at the Harvard Medical School can allow a human wearer to mentally control the motion of a rat’s tail, without the need of wires or surgical electrodes.
To me it’s impossible not to think of the controversial subject of ‘alien implants.’ Dr. Roger Leir, who has made a career in Ufology out of extracting & studying strange objects, which were allegedly introduced into the bodies of his patients by alien interlopers, speculates that the function of the implants is to monitor the physiological & metabolic changes in the abductees, as a means to supervise the genetic evolution of our species on a long-term basis. But what if that’s not the case? If the implants are real, and not just mundane foreign materials stuck in the abductees’ bodies during a long-forgotten accident, what if they are used to control the behavior of the abductees?
Not the most comforting of ideas, is it?
1 This edition of the Pills has been mainly devoted to study the mysteries of the Mind. So it’s only fair we conclude with a young Indian girl named Nandana, who suffers from acute autism. Like some autistic individuals, Nandana is what you’d call a ‘savant’ or prodigy child; but instead of performing incredible feats of memorization, like playing Mozart sonatas on the piano after listening them for the first time, Nandana’s talent is far more impressive: She is said to be able to read her parents’ thoughts!
“I used to feel strange when she would come to me and say the name of the food I was thinking of preparing for her. The same way, if my husband and I had decided to take her somewhere, she would know about it without being told about it and would start reacting to it.”
It’s important to point out that Nandana’s feats are accomplished without direct physical contact with her parents –discounting a typical variation of ‘cold reading.’– and her case has already attracted the attention of Dr Darold A. Treffert, considered the grandfather of autistic research & consultant for the film Rain Man:
“So I would clearly classify Nandana as a savant with a very rare skill among savants. In my savant registry of 319 savants, one percent reported ‘paranormal’ abilities such as ESP (extra sensory perception) and Psi (parapsychology). However none reported telepathy or mind reading of the type Nandana exhibits.”
To be fair, it doesn’t seem as if Treffert has had any direct contact with Nandana & her parents, which make some people question the scientific validity of his assertions. Regardless, it seems as if this is not the first case of autism with the exhibition of ‘paranormal’ abilities Treffert has heard of, which seems to strengthen the case that savants elicit special mental talents that lie dormant in the majority of us.
So, while we wait for further evidence to support this extraordinary case, I guess the only thing left to do is come up with a proper X-Men name for Nandana —Kaligirl? Professor N? Submit your suggestions in the comment section.
Until next time, this is RPJ jacking out, inviting you to keep exploring the infinite worlds of inner space.