Jul 08, 2013 I Miguel Romero

Red Pills of the Week — July 6th

Greetings, fellow Coppertops! On the continuing adventures of the crew aboard the Nebuchadnezzar, this week we'll investigate Chinese lanterns, electromagnetic deflector shields & human head transplants. And after we take a quick look at loch Ness in search for aquatic monsters & geologic faults, we'll analyze a recent exposé in one of the most popular books on NDEs in recent history. Grab your gear in the Construct & let's go --and NO, flashy leather jackets are not optional! this is how we roll.

10 I trust you've all recovered from the party. No, I'm not talking about the July 4th weekend, but the World UFO Day which was celebrated on July 2nd, in remembrance of the (in)famous Roswell case.

Wait, you're telling me you didn't know about World UFO Day?? What kind of UFO buff you think you are!


While the organizers of this festivity recommended people to celebrate UFO awareness by either go out  & skywatch, or stay indoors watching one of your favorite UFO-related movies, most journalists (even those who take the phenomenon seriously) decided to make fun of World UFO Day, and UFOs in general.

For my part, I don't really care either way whether we have a World UFO Day or not. Like International Moustache Day or Talk Like a Pirate Day, it's a harmless excuse to break the routine for a little while & play silly --luckily, some brave soul manage to break the ice with that hot co-worker of theirs, by wearing a silver suit & saying "take me to your leader" in a hich-pitched voice.

Where I do take issue is with the date chosen. So you're telling me the world need to focus exclusively on a 66-year-old American case --one that is mired in controversy I might add– because…?

No wonder they make fun of this in the movies.

If anything, I’d suggest the date be changed to November 29th, to commemorate the Belgian UFO wave of 1989, which makes for a far stronger case on the reality of the phenomenon. THEN you can include 'international' in the name of your little festivity.


aliens in the 80s
UFOs in the 1980s were a lot cooler... Just look at that laser!

If you're aware of the Belgian UFO wave of '89, then chances are that a copy of Leslie Kean's book, UFOs: Generals, Pilots, and Government Officials Go on the Record is sitting in your book shelf. As you might have noticed during the Citizens Hearing on Disclosure organized by Stephen Bassett, Kean was conspicuously absent despite the fact she was invited to participate, which she courteously declined to do so.

Leslie and an impressive cadre of scientists & international experts did decide to participate in the 2013 Symposium on Official and Scientific Investigation of UAP (Unidentified Aerial Phenomena), organized by The Center for UFO Research in Greensboro (NC) on the weekend of June 29-30.

Included among the international speakers were two representatives from official government UFO research organizations. One of those is Xavier Passot, the head of GEIPAN, a UFO investigative group that is part of France’s CNES (National Centre for Space Studies), which is the equivalent to NASA here in the US. The other official was Jose Lay, the international affairs director of Chile’s Committee for the Study of Anomalous Aerial Phenomena (CEFAA). This organization is a branch of the General Administration of Civil Aeronautics, which is similar to our FAA.


Unfortunately, this event didn't manage to grab as many headlines as the Washington even with Bassett & co. I guess next time instead of bringing scientists with indisputable credentials, the folks at the Center for UFO Research should include a few more attendants wearing Lemurian headbands...


paddies thumb
UFOs seen in Paddies Market, Sydney.

It's not just the cynical attitude of most mainstream journalists that which hurts the credibility of the UFO phenomenon. We can't overlook the fact that 90% of all sightings are misidentifications of common objects or natural events, and on top of that there are always the occasional deliberate hoaxes. Recently the popularity of Chinese lanterns in some countries like the UK have been the culprit of both the former & the latter, but the days of the festive paper contraptions might soon be over: A massive fire at a recycling plant in Smethwick is thought to have been ignited by one stray Chinese lantern, as can be clearly seen by the footage of one of the security cameras:


As a result there's now a call for the ban of the lanterns. So if you're planning on getting married, may I suggest you spend your money instead on a nice photoshoot.

7 Trying to explain away ALL UFO sightings as either Chinese lanterns, UAV drones or experimental aircraft is as naive as thinking that UFOs = Alien spacecraft. Long are the days when I was a strong proponent of the ETH, and yet despite it all there's no denying the fact that ascribing an extraterrestrial origin to some UAP remains a valid --though unconfirmed-- possibility.


And the reason we might possibly never get rid of the ETH is that every day we learn more about the Universe, and how widespread the conditions for life are: A new scientific estimate suggests there might be as much as 60 billion alien worlds capable of supporting life in our own galaxy alone. And these alien worlds need not orbit yellow suns like our own, but red dwarfs which are the most common type of star --Krypton, anyone?

In the new study, the researchers used 3D simulations to model the way air and moisture would move over a planet tidally locked around a red dwarf. The team found that any surface water would result in water clouds. What's more, highly reflective clouds would build at the point of the star-facing side where it's always high noon. This would have a cooling effect in the inner ring of the habitable zone, meaning the planets there would be able to sustain water on their surfaces much closer to their star, the researchers say.

The findings could give scientists a new way to confirm the presence of liquid water on the surface of alien planets with the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), a new space-based observatory scheduled for launch in 2018, the researchers say.

Because if it is just us, it would seem like an awful waste of space, wouldn't it?



Even if we haven't found any of our neighbors, that hasn't stopped us from trying to reach them. Voyager 1 made headlines (again) about its inevitable exit out of the solar system (again), meanwhile entering a completely unexpected region of space. Well I don't mean to be the obnoxious child seating at the back, but unless you're 100% absolutely certain the probe has indeed stepped outside the edge of our local neighborhood, don't bother alerting the media, k?!

Unless it's picked up by a passing alien vessel, or it crashes with a ginormous transparent dome imprisoning us, chances are the vintage NASA probe will continue roaming the depths of space for hundreds of thousands of years. But that's because its metal innards are not particularly affected by the cosmic rays that could probe lethal to any human astronaut. It was recently revealed that a regular trip to Mars would expose the human crew to extremely dangerous levels of radiation, so unless you were to line the spacecraft's fuselage with a lead skin two meters thick, or a ring wall filled with water --neither one of those solutions being terribly practical, on account of the the launch/weight cost ratio-- it would seem that our dreams of one day colonizing other worlds are nothing but that: dreams.

...Unless we get creative: On the TV series Star Trek the Enterprise is protected by an energy deflector shield, and that's just what researchers at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory are suggesting to prevent the 1st humans on Mars from growing an extra limb or two.

“The concept behind what we’re suggesting is due to the evolution in our understanding of plasmas. What we discovered is that if you put a magnetic field around an object in a flowing plasma, the electrons, which are very light, will follow the new magnetic field that you’ve put there but the ions, the very fast ions, will overshoot — they won’t follow the magnetic field lines.

You end up with a constant electric field that can be enough that it actually refracts or deflects enough of the radiation from inside the magnetic cavity that you’ve formed to protect the astronauts … enough like the Earth that they can survive” Ruth Bamford, RAL

And if your field is strong enough, it can also help deflect the attacks from Klingons & Romulans.

5 At its current speed of 38,000 miles/hour, it would take Voyager 1 76,000 years (2,500 human generations) to reach the nearest star system. To put it in perspective, if someone had sent the probe during the time of the Toba catastrophe in Indonesia, Voyager 1 would still be a good millennium away of reaching Proxima Centauri.

overgrown russian town
Not a Pyramid, but it's overgrown and that's the best I could do on short notice.

A thousand years from now, how much of our current civilization would still remain? Not much I imagine, given our current rate of growth & renovation. Oh sure, our descendants might choose to keep the Eiffel tower & the Statue of Liberty as quaint memorials, but most of the monuments we're so proud of will surely be mercilessly razed to make room for bigger & newer settlements. And I can't help but feel a bit depressed by that.

Early this year we mentioned the destruction of a 2300 year-old pyramid in Belize to obtain gravel for a road, and now comes news that a 4,000 year-old pyramid in Peru, pre-dating the mighty Inca empire, was bulldozed by real estate developers. What does it say about our civilization, when we choose to destroy ancient sites that have stood for eons, just so they can be replaced by fragile buildings that will not even last 30 years?

It is said you can rapidly analyze any given culture, by looking at its most prominent buildings. 2000 years ago those buildings were temples; 1000 years ago the buildings were castles & cathedrals; 200 years ago those buildings were parliaments & government monuments; 100 years ago they were banks; 5o years ago they were corporate buildings.

It looks as if in our day, the most prominent buildings are hotels & boutiques. So what does that say about us?

4 The last paragraph clearly shows my belief that we collectively need our head examined. Or maybe even transplanted.

Wait, WHAT?

That's right: Dr. Sergio Canavero, an Italian neuroscientist working for the Turin Advanced Neuromodulation Group, has just published the gruesome proposal in the medical journal Surgical Neurology International. One imagines that the writing of the paper was continuously interrupted by spontaneous bursts of evil laughter.


To make it work, the operation would involve the simultaneous severing of two human heads with an "ultra-sharp blade," followed by cooling and flushing out the “recipient” head before attaching its new body with an advanced polymer “glue”.

He suggests that the realigning of head and body could also be achieved using “electrofusion.”

"Interestingly, electricity can be exploited to achieve axonal fusion," he writes. "This method is at the moment not a suitable alternative for GEMINI, but it should be explored in this context."

Canavero admits that his polymer gel reattachment method (known as GEMINI) would not be perfect, but adds that “as little as 10 per cent of descending spinal tracts are sufficient for some voluntary control of locomotion in man.”

He says that the procedure could be available in about two years, and that a team of 100 surgeons could perform the operation in 36 hours — and at a cost of $12.9 million.

A commentator @ TDG pointed out at the 1st sentence in the above paragraph --the needing to conduct the severing simultaneously-- as a sign of its infeasibility.  But as can be seen on my response, the fact that we live in a world where TV shows like Jackass are a thing, and someone like the Octomom can become celebrities, leads me to believe that perhaps one day we'll witness the 1st human head transplant on Pay Per View.

3 The last Red Pill reminded me of this glorious scene on Mars Attacks:


Sure, head transplants could bring about all sorts of interesting chimeras. But me, I'm a fan of classic monsters! Bring me Nessie or Bigfoot anytime instead of modern abominations.

Speaking of Nessie, the famous beastie was in the news this week thanks to a novel hypothesis proposed by another Italian scientist, geologist Luigi Piccardi from the Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche in Florence, who thinks the monster sightings reported throughout the years could be attributed to bubbles produced by seismic activity along the Great Glen fault system underneath the lake.

What prompted Piccardi to consider a geologic solution to the monster mystery was an ancient reference to the legendary sighting of the beastie by Saint Columba, which describes how the creature appeared and disappeared "when the earth shook."

[Piccardi] said that there were a number of reported sightings of Nessie in the 1930s that coincided with seismic activity along the Great Glen fault line.'I think it’s an obvious description of what really happened...with increased activity of the fault, in reality people have seen the effects of the earthquakes on the water,' he said.

He believes that his theory can be applied to over 3,500 Nessie sightings

The Glen farts it's an interesting idea, though IMO it can't explain the cases when the witnesses observed a long slim neck rising above the waters of the loch. Nevertheless, the seismic activity underneath the lake reminds me of how many 'window areas' across the planet where anomalous phenomena are observed seem to coincide with fault systems & regions of increased telluric activity.


Katy perry
Definitely not Sasquatch

From Nessie we now turn our gaze to our favorite biped creature: Katy Perry Sasquatch, and a new chapter in the Melba Ketchum saga.

Last time we left our hapless heroine, she was being lambasted by both the Bigfooters & the skeptics, despite her adamant conviction that her DNA study have proved Bigfoot was a human hybrid of some sort. If only an independent laboratory would bother to confirm her results...

Turns out Eric Berger, science blogger for the Houston Chronicle, offered his assistance to do just that. He agreed to act as an intermediary between Ketchum & a highly reputed geneticist in Texas he knew personally --whose name he was asked not to disclose-- and after Ketchum sent some of her samples & the 3rd party geneticist had the chance to analyze them, it was time to publish the results.

The verdict: a mix of opossum & other species. Kind of ironic, given how opossum had also been used in the infamous 'Bigfoot in a cooler' hoax of 2008.

Ketchum has issued a rebuttal in her customary fashion --on her Facebook page.


proof-of-heavenIt seems we've touched on all the major Fortean mysteries from a rather skeptic approach, so I guess it's now time to deal with the last of the paranormal enigmas left: Life after death. Last year Dr. Even Alexander's book Proof of Heaven became a New York Times best-seller, and even managed to acquire a juicy movie deal. Perhaps the reason for his astronomical success had to do with the seeming position of authority given by his credentials as a neurosurgeon, which would allegedly give him a far more objective & critical understanding of the extraordinary experience he went through when he suffered a rare form of meningitis that pushed him to the edge of death --or perhaps the key was in the bow tie...

But ever since Alexander's story was highlighted on the cover of Newsweek, both this experience & his persona have been the subject of continuous attacks by the circle of usual suspects: the skeptic nu-atheists who can't stand the thought of anything or anyone threatening their Materialist worldview. The last one of those attacks is an Esquire Exposé written by Luke Dittrich title 'The Prophet' (requires online purchase), which focuses on a number of legal problems in Alexander's previous medical practices, along with his claim that the coma he suffered was directly provoked by the E. Coli bacterial infection:

In Proof of Heaven, Alexander writes that he spent seven days in "a coma caused by a rare case of E. coli bacterial meningitis." There is no indication in the book that it was [ER doctor] Laura Potter, and not bacterial meningitis, that induced his coma, or that the physicians in the ICU maintained his coma in the days that followed through the use of anesthetics. Alexander also writes that during his week in the ICU he was present "in body alone," that the bacterial assault had left him with an "all-but-destroyed brain." He notes that by conventional scientific understanding, "if you don't have a working brain, you can't be conscious," and a key point of his argument for the reality of the realms he claims to have visited is that his memories could not have been hallucinations, since he didn't possess a brain capable of creating even a hallucinatory conscious experience.

I ask Potter whether the manic, agitated state that Alexander exhibited whenever they weaned him off his anesthetics during his first days of coma would meet her definition of conscious.

"Yes," she says. "Conscious but delirious."

I confess I haven't read neither Alexander's book nor this new Esquire article, so I can't comment with any authority on either one of them. I do think that this latest smear campaign on Alexander on account of previous malpractice problems stinks of ad-hominem innuendos; also, the way the story has been addressed by the media --"The 'Proof of Heaven' Author Has Now Been Thoroughly Debunked by Science"-- is just laughable.  There is *no* Science as an independent entity; what there are is scientists, who make use of a set of protocols known as the scientific method, which is an effective --yet limited-- tool to further our knowledge of the Natural world. But at the end of the day, those scientists remain as fallible & imperfect as the rest of us mortals.

According to my friend & mentor Greg Taylor though, the article does raise valid points that should be addressed, and it seems Alexander is preparing to do just that. I'd also like to know if Dittrich bothered to offer an explanation to Alexander's remarkable recovery from a disease which should have left him brain-dead, or at least severely impaired.

Until next time, this is RPJ jacking out, reminding you there are truths that can never be learned without being experienced first.

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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