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Red Pills of the Week — May 11th

Greetings, fellow Coppertops! This week’s mission through the murky tunnels of Hidden Reality will show us 3d-printed guns & Peruvian geoglyphs, the ancient mother tongue & communication between plants. And as we try to uncover the rumors of a secret quantum Internet developed by the US government, we’ll analyze the recent release of three women who were kidnapped & presumed dead for a decade, and how this affects the credibility of psychic abilities. This Sunday Americans celebrate Mother’s day –something we Mexicans do on May 10th– so I guess we should all pay our respect to the mother of us all: the pod tank farm.

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plasticgunfun

Meow.

Our first stop is a follow-up to a news we’ve been covering for a while: a group of Texan Libertarians whose objective was the development & open-source distribution of a 3d-printed gun’s design. Last week the 3d-printed cat was officially out of the bag:

[youtube]http://youtu.be/drPz6n6UXQY[/youtube]

Forbes reports that “the U.S. government has been working feverishly to remove design files from the Internet, but not before they were downloaded over 100,000 times. [emphasis mine]” Ironic to think these guys named their little plastic gun ‘The Liberator,’ when most likely it will eventually help to erode the liberties of the American people –even those who were never interested in download and/or print this weapon in the first place!

There are no such thing as a ‘free lunch,’ amigos. Whenever you win something, you lose something in return.

9 3d printing technology can be an incredible tool for creativity. For example, last year’s film ParaNorman employed 3d printers to create thousands of different facial expressions for their stop-motion characters, allowing them to cut off on production costs & time.

But back in the all days stop-motion artists had to rely on nothing but the most basic tools: clay, rubber, wire, & lots of patience. And monster creator Ray Harryhausen had that & more: sheer unadulterated talent. With that talent, Harryhausen managed to create cinematographic icons like Mighty Joe Young, The 7th Voyage of Sinbad & –one of my favorite movies of all time– Clash of the Titans. The Jewish rabbi who created the Golem of Prague in the XVIth century could have learned a trick or two from him!

ray-harryhausen

Ray Harryhausen died on May 7th at the age of 92. His career inspired a plethora of artists & film-makers –along with one or two Cryptozoologists I’m sure– who continue to carry the torch to create fantastic new worlds, populated by strange creatures come from the depths of human imagination. Good luck on your voyage to the land beyond beyond.

8 Before a scientist seeks to unravel a mystery of Nature, the scientist first needs to be inspired by an artist. Thus, artists are the cartographers of Human Potential.

Think for example of space exploration. If humans managed to put a man on the Moon, it was because two imaginative young men –one named Werner von Braun, the other Robert Goddard– were captivated by their lecture of H.G. Well’s War of the Worlds. But unlike most young men, who eventually must renounce their silly fantasies in order to make a living, von Braun & Goddard devoted their lives to the fulfillment of a common dream: launching a rocket to the planet Mars.

Just in #space #walking #yolo #Swag.

Just in #space #walking #yolo #Swag.

Today the governments of the world are suffering from imaginative stagnation: the pace of the space program does not match the expectations of the public, and so 44 years after Neil Armstrong set foot on the Sea of Tranquility, the most exciting thing you’ll se modern astronauts nowadays is fixing leaks on the ISS.

Since governments are not willing to pick up the pace, then private citizens are aiming to fill in that void. On the Red Pills of the Year we mentioned the Mars One project, the ‘American Idol meets Robinson Crusoe on Mars’ idea to kickstart the colonization of the Red Planet by promoting it as a Reality TV show. The project seeks to initially send 4 brave volunteers who will forever cut ties with their homeplanet –i.e. it’s a one-way trip, yo– and for $40 dollars anyone can submit their application on the Mars One website, something 78000 people have done already! Most imaginative Ponzi scheme in history, or is there really a chance we’ll see humans setting foot on the red sands of Mars in the first half of the XXIst century?

Ars Technica posted a few profiles from some of the people hoping to be among those 4 original Martians. Part of me thinks all these men & women are either going to be scammed, or at worst will be sent to a gruesome death. But another part of me see this is a sign that the human race is facing a crossroads: we know we need to leave the cradle of our comfy blue world in search of new horizons. These Mars One applicants are feeling the call of the Cosmos, and I’m sure they’re not the only ones.

And if we fail, if the Void proves to cold & incommensurable for us? Then we’ll join the dinosaurs knowing that at least we tried.

7 When Humanity finally branches out to other worlds, those colonizers will no doubt seek to preserve some of the traditions & festivities they enjoyed here on Earth. But I’m sure that eventually each new human outpost will develop their own rituals & celebrations, the way our forefathers did when they faced new lands, new climates… and new people.

The next Pill has to do with a festivity that traces its origins to the time before Europeans set foot on the Americas: the famous Día de Muertos, with its colorful mixture of the merry & the macabre, is a fine example of Mexican culture that has taken root wherever my countrymen have chosen to seek fortune.

mickey-mouse-dead

That’s why I and many other bloggers were so enraged when we learned that the Disney company was seeking to trademark Día de Muertos, a move intended to consolidate the company’s privilege on the merchandising of DoD products, since it is rumored a future Pixar project is directly inspired by the Mexican festivity.

Fortunately the viral outrage stirred on the social networks has forced the House of the Mouse to back down. But still, this kind of douchebag move forces the question: since when can Culture be treated as a commodity?

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peru-pyramid-alignment_02

From Mexico’s calaveritas we now divert our attention to another land full of wonderful history & tradition: Peru. In this Andean nation archeologists have discovered a remarkable astronomical alignment, between a pyramid at Cerro del Gentil, two stone lines about 1.2 miles (2 kilometers) east-southeast from the pyramid, and the setting sun during the winter solstice:

“When viewed in 3D models, these lines appear to converge at a point beyond the horizon and frame not only the site of Cerro del Gentil [where the pyramid is], but also the setting sun during the time of the winter solstice,” the research team wrote in a poster presentation given recently at the Society for American Archaeology annual meeting in Honolulu.

Thus someone viewing the sunset from these lines during the winter solstice would have seen the sun setting directly behind, or sinking into, the adobe pyramid,” they write. “Thus the pyramid and the linear geoglyph constitute part of a single architectural complex, with potential cosmological significance, that ritualized the entire pampa landscape.” (The word “pampa” stands for plain.)”

These astounding alignments, found everywhere in antiquity, are timeless reminders that Man has always tried to link himself to the Universe through the power of his ingenuity, thus joining the Macrocosmos of the world at large, with the Microcosmos of our minds. “As above so below”, as the sages say.

5 Peru shares the Atacama desert with the neighboring countries of Chile, Bolivia & Argentina –and according to Dr. Steven Greer, with extraterrestrial interlopers who have visited since at least a hundred years, as allegedly revealed by the enigmatic mummified humanoid he’s shown on his recent documentary, Sirius.

ku-xlarge

Sirius & Ata have been the matter of ample discussion not only on this column, but at the Mysterious Universe website at large. As I explained on April 27th I made the effort to watch the film in its entirety, and was surprised to learn about Dr. Nolan & Dr. Lachman’s conclusions, arrived through DNA & X-ray analysis, that ‘Ata’ had reached an age of 6-8 years before he died –I say ‘he’ because the analysis also proved the mummy’s gender was male.

Over at io9 George Dvorsky has also followed the Sirius saga –although from a distinctively skeptic approach– and last Thursday he posted an article focused on the opinion of Paolo Viscardi, a natural history curator at the Horiman Museum in London. According to Viscardi, Ata’s impossible age can be explained due to the natural mummification process it endured on the hot sands of the Atacama desert, which shrunk the soft tissue & exerted pressure on the bones, thus increasing their density –the bone density was the factor with moved Nolan & Lachman to conclude the specimen was not a foetus –high bone density, Viscardi explains, are typical of mummified specimens.

As you can see in the comments I posted on the io9 thread, at first I was against Viscardi explanation, since (a) I’m sure he has not done any direct analysis with Ata; and (b) I’d assumed either Nolan or Lachman would have taken the mummification process into consideration during their study –perhaps using other mummies as controls. But now I’m not sure if io9 user ParticleNoun is not right, and perhaps Nolan & Lachman suffered from ‘specialization tunnel vision’, since neither of them is an expert in Osteoarcheology. Maybe they were just too focused on following Greer’s obsession into proving (or disproving) the ‘hypothesis’ of the specimen’s non-human origin, that they failed to see what was right in front of them.

So in light of this I must admit that my previous support to Ata’s biological uniqueness have diminished. How about you?

4 The fact that Nolan’s study showed Ata’s DNA was human –or closer to human than that of chimps– didn’t bother me that much, since the idea of a common ancestry between UFOnauts & Earthlings has crossed my path on more than one occasion.

The fact is that the Past fascinates me. And as I’m sure is the same with many Forteans, the older the better –specially when the Past is mixed with myth & religious tales.

Take for instance the New Testament account of the tyrant king Nimrod, who tried to build the mighty tower of Babel in order to compare himself to Jehovah. Those who went to Sunday class know full well how the story went, and as we grew up we learned that the story was nothing but a myth, inspired by a few kernels of truth –the tower of Babel was probably a ziggurat, a step pyramid raised by the people of Mesopotamia, and Babel was probably derived from the ancient city of Babylon –although perhaps we should look to the ancient complex of Baalbek to the find the roots to the legend of Babel.

"Come at me bro" - King Nimrod

“Come at me bro” – King Nimrod

But what of the myth of the common tongue? A new study published on May 6th in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,  shows a list of words which hint at a common origin for the language used by hunter gatherers on Europe & Asia 15000 years ago.

“We can trace echoes of language back 15,000 years to a time that corresponds to about the end of the last ice age,” said study co-author Mark Pagel, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Reading in the United Kingdom.

Using biological evolution to try to identify the phonetic sounds that would be more resistant to change –those that are used to depict social relationships  & family– Pagel & his team “could predict what 23 words, including “I,” “ye,” “mother,” “male,” “fire,” “hand” and “to hear” might sound like in an ancestral language dating to 15,000 years ago.”

So not only we may all share a common tongue, but also according to a new study showing the genetic links between modern Europeans, we are all more closely related to everyone else than we previously thought. Gives a whole new weight to that seemingly cliched term ‘human family’, doesn’t it?

3 But it seems that communication is not an exclusive trait of our species. Modern scientists are suspecting that plants can ‘talk’ to each other using acoustic signals, thus boosting inter-species symbiosis –the Chorus of Life, yo!

"What's that? You want me to kill everyone?"

“What’s that? You want me to kill everyone?”

Monica Gagliano and Michael Renton of the University of Western Australia conducted a series of experiments using chili peppers & basils. They found out that chili peppers responded positively to the presence of basils, even when the basils were sealed off by plastic bags, which should discount the influence of released chemical signals.

“We believe that the answer may involve acoustic signals generated using nanomechanical oscillations from inside the cell which allow rapid communication between nearby plants,” Gagliano said in the news release.

So there you have it, Aaron: now you don’t have any excuse not to increase your vibrations, and maybe some day you’ll get illuminating insights from a turnip.

2 The idea of different biological species sharing information between each other is very cool. Almost as cool as the idea of one day enjoying the power of our computer networks sharing information through the entangled properties of a quantum system.

It's the internet because it's purple.

It’s the internet because it’s purple.

The day of a quantum internet is not some pie-in-the-sky fantasy: it may already be here. According to MIT’s Technology Review, the Los Alamos National labs have been running a quantum internet network for the last 2 years. The main appeal for such systems is their security warranties, since the very act to snoop on a quantum signal will invariably change its properties –i.e. the famous ‘observer effect’ which is a matter of acid debate between physicists & New Agers.

The Technology Review article is a little hard to follow, but it seems that the team at Los Alamos designed their system around a central hub, which is the only server equipped to receive quantum signals. The hub is then equipped to re-transmit the message in a conventional way to a second terminal, thus decreasing the complexity of the system.

As common citizens are increasingly worried about the surveillance of their on-line communications, I wonder how disruptive these new quantum cryptographic technologies will be, as we all progress from LOL Cats to Schrö Cats.

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303079_462218563865852_1931741217_nVery few people understand the mechanics of the quantum world, and yet you can’t hardly find a New Age post or magazine that doesn’t end invoking such terms as ‘entanglement’, ‘non-local’ or ‘spooky action at a distance’ –what more cynic individuals would feel inclined to dub ‘Chopra-ing’…

But there’s no denying that to the layman person, the beauty in quantum mechanics lies in its suggestion that everything is deeply interconnected –not only humans with other humans, or even with other living beings, but the interconnection runs as far back as the Big Bang.

Can quantum mechanics explain things like ESP or Remote Viewing? Perhaps, as suggested by scientists like Russell Targ, who have been studying these phenomena for many years –even if they have failed to come up with a solid model to describe them:

[vimeo]http://vimeo.com/64878370[/vimeo]

But for every Russell Targ or Ingo Swann, there’s always some spineless con-man (or woman) willing to pray on the suffering of people in order to gain undeserved notoriety. Such is the case of Sylvia Browne: This week three women in Cleveland were saved from their captivity thanks to the bravery of some pretty unlikely heroes –a Dominican immigrant & McDonald’s fan– but the reason this story is mentioned on the Pills is because Sylvia Browne, a ‘professional psychic’ that has enjoyed the spotlight for far too long, told 10 years ago to the mother of one of these women that her daughter was dead –a devastating blow from which the poor lady never fully recovered.

And the problem with Browne is that her resume is plagued with these kind of ‘misses’, as is reported by my esteemed friend & mentor Greg Taylor at the Daily Grail:

I’m not an easy person to anger, but this list of cases gets my blood boiling, and here’s why: the incorrect calls I could live with, if it was offered privately just as a “I’ve got a feeling, but I could well be wrong”. But to go on TV, and tell these people outright the fate of their children in public – sometimes even rebuking them when they throw doubt on what you’re saying – is just wrong on so many levels. Perhaps some readers of this blog are Browne fans; I can’t apologise for my opinion. If there’s one skill I have, it’s being able to pick a person’s character very quickly, and Browne has always sent a shiver up my spine (for all the wrong reasons). The growing list of cases where she hurt families with misinformation only confirms my gut feeling.

We followers of the Fortean enigmas often blame the skeptics & debunkers for the lack of credibility in the topics we care about. But we should always be mindful that it is the rotten apples in our own orchard, the ones who cause the most damage to the crop.

Maybe it’s time for some pruning.

Until next time, this is RPJ jacking out, reminding you that Mother is the name for God in the lips & hearts of all children.

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