Greetings, fellow Coppertops! This week's edition of the Red Pills will reveal to us hoaxing apps for your smartphone & quantum-linked photons, haunted official residences & vermin on the surface of Mars. And as we try to kickstart the first private space telescope, we'll have a feast with mammoth steaks straight out of Siberia, just the way I like them: extra bloody! Apologies if the column turns out a little slimmer than usual, since I'm feeling a little under the weather --I suspect the agents planted a bug inside me.
Our first story is one I kinda left out from last week, involving Alice Eve, the blondiliscious actress who is part of the cast in J.J. Abrams' latest movie Star Trek: Into Darkness. During her appearance on Jim Kimmel's late night show she revealed that as part of the promotion of the movie she and her co-stars Chris Pine and John Cho, along with the film’s writer Damon Lindelof and J.J. Abrams himself, made a Google+ hangout with "the guy on the space station" who turned out to be astronaut Michael Fincke, and that J.J. --who wasn't able to participate live on the hangout so sent his pre-recorded question to the astronaut-- asked the following question:
"I talked to an astronaut once who told me on one of his missions he actually did see something really strange that he couldn’t explain that made him believe in extraterrestrial life, and my question to you is. Have either of you ever seen anything that made you believe that, or something you couldn’t explain or couldn’t understand, that you didn’t really necessarily share with the public, but that you want to share with us now? Thanks".
“That was a great question from J.J., we get that question a lot. We all want to know, ‘are we the only ones out there?’And Star Trek helps us imagine what it could be like if there were other creatures, other people, other species. I spent a whole year in space, 381 days, but it is only 240 miles up, so that’s not very far in cosmic terms. So we think as we go farther out, and into the universe, we might find something out there that we don’t know about. I have never seen anything, maybe Kjell will on his mission, but I think as we go farther out, with the inspiration we get from you guys making these great feats of imagination and excitement, the movies that you make, inspire us to be our best as human beings on planet earth.”
Did someone say 'cookie-cutter response'? Alice Even told Kimmel she felt the answer to J.J.'s question was so generic, in her mind it was proof that these guys have seen aliens.
“Interesting,” Kimmel replied. “So you believe that there’s a party line that they’re given and they kinda have to regurgitate it?”
“Well, I don’t know. I’m not saying I believe that...” Said Eve. The actress then leaned in toward her host and whispered in his ear: “but I believe that.”
Unfortunately the rest of interview kinda reveals Eve might not exactly be the sharpest knife in a drawer full of spoons, as she thinks that 'birds might be aliens' (?). And she studied in freaking Oxford!
It would be interesting to see if J.J. Abrams will eventually reveal the name of this anonymous astronaut. Incidentally, I finally saw the last Star Trek movie last Friday, and I was very interested in how the plot makes use of the Ancient Astronaut mythos during the 1st action sequence, along with some aspects of the UFOlogical lore as explained by my friend Robbie Graham on his blog Silver Screen Saucers [SPOILERS AHEAD] namely the idea that UFOs have been seen coming in & out of active volcanoes, perhaps to help deactivate them & avert a catastrophe.
Speaking of which, here's the latest video of a UFO near mount Popocatépetl. This time, the object changes course before entering the mouth of the crater:
9 This new video at mount Popo is the most interesting so far, as it cannot be dismissed as a bolid or meteorite passing above the crater, as was the explanation offered by skeptics in the previous videos we've discussed on this column. It's almost as if the phenomenon is slowly reacting to our dismissals --maybe the next video will show an object that will remain static for a little while before plummeting inside the volcano (you read it here first).
But as much as I like these grainy b/w videos, I'm all too aware of their limitations, specially when it comes to convince the hard-line skeptics. And the problem is they have good reasons for it: we're inundated with so many hoaxed videos & photographs that visual evidence has quickly becoming irrelevant.
Take for example Ohio news station WMFD NewsWatch, which presented a story about an elderly gentleman who claimed to have taken a startling image of a flying disc with his tablet camera while vacationing in California. Thanks to our watchdog colleagues at Open Minds, it was quickly discovered that the saucer was digitally placed by one of the available effects in the Camera360 app. When confronted with this new information, the witnesses sheepishly accepted that he has the Camera360 app, but denied it had been a deliberate hoax since he might have turned on the app inadvertently --Next time you'd better say the MIB forced you to hoax the photo, bud.
Hoaxers keep pissing on the UFO pool. Will it come a time when no one will want to take a dip? It's now time to return to the controversial Atacama humanoid presented by Dr. Steven Greer on his documentary SIRIUS. Some people have accused Greer of a deliberate hoax to help promote his film, something I don't necessarily believe, even though my personal interest in Ata has diminished now that alternate ideas to explain its bone mass have been presented --namely, that it's the result of the mummification process the specimen was subject to, by the hot sands of the desert.
In this latest video released by the Sirius Disclosure organization, Greer tackles some of the criticism he's received after the release of the documentary, and for the first time he mentions how there may be more of these weird little humanoids all over the world, including the Chilean region where this specimen was (allegedly) unearthed:
What Greer fails or forgets to mention is that one of those tiny humanoids was discovered by Robert 'Believe It or Not' Ripley on the Bolivian side of the same South American desert in the 1930s.
"I came across Atta Boy a few times in my research, Neal Thompson, author of "A Curious Man," told The Huffington Post. "One thing Ripley was fascinated by was the miniaturization of the human form, for example, in the cultures where they practiced the shrinking of heads.
"As far as I know, regarding Atta Boy, Ripley didn't leave behind any specific notes about where he obtained it or the background of the body of the boy -- it's a bit of a mystery. I know that Ripley portrayed Atta Boy as a real human as opposed to an alien. He believed that it was an actual miniature mummified human."
Part of the mystery of Atta Boy is whether or not he was a shrunken human or a mummified fetus. The origins of this artifact are not known and after the 1930s, he vanished into obscurity -- or into someone's private collection.
Ripley seems to have believed that 'Atta Boy' --as he called this vintage version of Greer's Ata-- was the work of the Shuar (Jíbaro) indians, who are famous for their tradition of reducing the heads of their enemies. The problem with that explanation is that the reducing process involves removing the cranium, since bone is too dense to be shrunk; and as can be plainly observed, both Atta Boy & Ata still have their full skeleton. So perhaps the link between these 2 specimens is that they were both the result of illegal abortions performed in Catholic nations.
Good on Lee Spiegel at the Huffington Post for pointing out the Ripley connection --even though he failed to mention our buddies at Who Forted? who came up with it first...
7 In my conversation with my buddies Darren & Graham on The Grimerica Show, I mentioned Greg Bishop's idea that the solution to the UFO enigma will probably come from somewhere completely outside the UFO field. Perhaps some great scientific discovery that will revolutionize our world overnight, or at least rattle up our current materialistic paradigm.
Take the next Pill for example: Scientists from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have managed to entangle 2 photons that don't even exist at the same time --Oy Vey!!
The experiment shows that it’s not strictly logical to think of entanglement as a tangible physical property, [Hagai] Eisenberg says. “There is no moment in time in which the two photons coexist,” he says, “so you cannot say that the system is entangled at this or that moment.” Yet, the phenomenon definitely exists. Anton Zeilinger, a physicist at the University of Vienna, agrees that the experiment demonstrates just how slippery the concepts of quantum mechanics are. “It’s really neat because it shows more or less that quantum events are outside our everyday notions of space and time.”
If quantum events exist unbounded by the limits of space & time, could that also be the case of UFOs as well?
Speaking of The Grimerica Show, I'm happy to announce that I'll become a regular feature in the podcast, chatting with the boys about the latest developments inside the Fortean Matrix. So sign us up on iTunes already --& I hope you dig the artwork of the show too, since it was done by yours truly.
6 But the answers to the Fortean mysteries might not need hundreds of millions of dollars spent in extremely complicated scientific experiments. It might very well just need the use of psychoactive plants like psilocybin mushrooms, or the ones employed to prepare the famous Ayahuasca brew. All these substances are not referred to as drugs by their users, but receive the more appropriate name of entheogens, a word derived from the Greek θεός (God) meant to underline their alleged properties, which help the practitioner re-connect to the divine aspect hidden inside our own humanity.
One such practitioner is the renowned artist Alex Grey, whose psychedelic art is intended to illustrate the effects of these chemicals in the expansion of human consciousness. Grey recently kickstarted a public campaign to fund the construction of a building he calls Entheon, a temple-meets-gallery intended to replace the exhibition named The Chapel of Sacred Mirrors, which closed its doors in 2009. In Entheon, Grey's art pieces will be preserved for posterity, and will allow future generations of visitors to 'seek the God within.'
The Kickstarter campaign closed on May 31st gathering more than US$210,000 dollars, far surpassing its original goal of US$125,000. Given the scale & complexity of the project, I suspect it'll be a few years before we can pay a visit to this wonderful place --and I suspect the aliens would rather choose to land there than in the White House lawn.
Entheon will be a designed to awaken the spirit of its visitors. But sometimes spirits are awakened, even if the intention of the architects. The delay of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe & his wife to move to the official residence managed to spark rumors of ghosts haunting the building, something the Japanese government flat out denies.
The residence, formerly the prime minister's office, was built in 1929 and was the site of military rebellions, including in 1932 when then-Prime Minister Tsuyoshi Inukai was assassinated.
Talk of ghosts has long haunted the building, remodeled in the early 2000s. It has served as the official residence for the prime minister and the premier's family since 2005.
Abe has given no explanation for the delay in moving in, but it is not uncommon for the premier to take some time before taking up residence.
Abe has just concluded a deal with Indian Prime Minister Mamohan Singh which will allow the export of nuclear technology to the Asian sub-continent. Meanwhile the public reaction against nuclear energy in Japan keeps growing --so I guess the ghost of Fukushima is the only one that scares the Japanese head of state.
Japanese folklore is filled with entities called Onis, a word commonly translated as 'demon' even though it doesn't have the purely malignant connotations of Western culture. Nevertheless, stories about exorcisms performed in Japan do appear in the media occasionally.
But when it comes to going 'mano a mano' against the forces of darkness, nobody beats Father Gabriele Amorth, who claims to have ridden this vale of tears of 160,000 demons. Eat your heart out, John Constantine!
Amorth is also an outspoken critic of yoga and Harry Potter books and dismissed them as ungodly hobbies.
"Practicing yoga brings evil as does reading Harry Potter. They may both seem innocuous but they both deal with magic and that leads to evil," he said.
Ok, with HP I kinda understand why padre Amorth will say such a thing --it must be such a letdown to find out kids today idolize the very same people you were burning at the stake 500 years ago-- but Yoga?! What's so wrong about staying healthy by way of stretching your body & building your elasticity?
3 They say the biggest trick the Devil ever pulled, is convince the world he doesn't exist. That doesn't prevent many fundamentalists to spot him everywhere --Pokemon? totally demonic, dude.
Same thing happens with life on Mars: the more NASA keeps insisting The Red Planet is completely barren of life --at least on its surface-- the more eagerly will amateur exo-biologists keep looking at the photographs taken by the rovers & the probes orbiting the planet, pointing out to the rest of the world the 'evidence' that has eluded the gaze of the brightest minds in JPL.
The latest of these findings have been a 'rat' taken by Curiosity's cameras, along with a lizard-like creature, both conveniently camouflaged to mimic the rest of the rocks filling the arid Martian landscape. Hardcore skeptics are always quick to invoke pareidolia to dismiss such amazing findings, while the true believers insist it's all a conspiracy to hide the truth to the public. Although the existence of a rodent on Mars that would look so similar to the indigenous species of our planet seems to go beyond all logic, as a devoted fan of Mass Effect I think I can come up with a satisfactory solution to this mystery: space hamsters.
As for the second photograph --well, that's clearly a bloody rock, you fool.
2 The zealotry of these armchair explorers amazes me, with their willingness to spend hours looking at the exploded pixels of these photographs on their computer monitors. Oh if only there was some way to make their work easier.
Turns out there just might be, courtesy of James Cameron & pals: Planetary Resources, the company they created to mine asteroids, is seeking to crowdfound a small space telescope, with the smallest perk allowing you to "upload a picture of yourself that will be displayed on a small screen, and the satellite will take a picture of your picture with the Earth as a backdrop," because you obviously have zero Photoshop skills which would allow you to recreate the same effect for free...
This crowdfunded space telescope, called ARKYD, is a way for them to test out their abilities to launch and use such a satellite. PRI has already invested quite a bit of money into the development of a series of telescopes—mostly to look for asteroids, but this new one has different goals and therefore a different design. While they are still putting their own money into designing and building it, the Kickstarter is a way to get people involved personally. It has a series of astronomical filters on it (for the nerds out there: UV (< 300 nm), B, V, R, [OIII], Hα, 1 μm, and a clear (luminence) filter) which means you can create near-true-color pictures, too. It’s not a huge telescope, and you don’t get vast amounts of time, but it should be fine to get nice shots of bright nebulae and galaxies.
I'm not sure I buy this 'getting the people involved' move. I mean, aren't these guys supposed to be gazillionaires or whatever? With Alex Grey & Entheon you know he doesn't have enough resources to build it on its own, even with the backing of a bank, but part of me can't help thinking Cameron & Co. are seeking to minimize their risks. If Planetary Resources seeks to attain public support, does that mean the public will also be able to participate on shaping the decisions for future missions? which asteroids to mine & which to leave alone? The public selflessly donating their time & money while the real owners of PR become filthy rich?
Then again, if this proves to be successful, perhaps it will lead the way to other forms of crowd-sourced space exploration, and there's no denying the allure in that.
While there doesn't seem to be much objection in utilizing crowdfunding to back private space enterprises, I wonder if it would be the same with biological enterprises. Consider the recent news about blood squirting out of a frozen mammoth in Siberia, which make the investigators suspect these paleo-proboscids possessed some type of anti-freezing characteristics coursing through their veins. If we now have blood & preserved carcasses, which are becoming more abundant with the defrosting of the tundra thanks to Climate Change, how close are we to clone these animals?
No government would probably jump in to the challenge, but what if some eccentric Forbes 500 list-member --who is fan of the paleo-diet-- were to launch a Kickstater a campaign to bring back to life one of these hirsute behemoths? Would you be willing to back that kind of plan?
Until next time, this is RPJ jacking out. You'll notice that instead of cutting the column short, I actually extend it beyond my usual 2700-ish words. That's because Trinity managed to take the bug out --and gave me a complimentary sponge bath, on the house.