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Red Pills of the Week — August 10th

Greetings, fellow Coppertops! In this week’s edition of your favorite MU column you’ll find cosmic threats & underground hazards, supersonic space planes & car-shaped UFOs. And as we assess the possibility of whether killing a person by telepathy is possible or not, we’ll witness the faint glimpses of a future when marijuana is finally legalized. You know a good thing about red pills is that they don’t give you the munchies –so there must be another reason for those 3 bags of Doritos I just ate…

10 On this week Curiosity celebrated its first Marsiversary. So what has the intrepid rover accomplished so far, aside from snapping selfies? Nat Geo lists Curiosity’s top-5 accomplishments:

It kinda looks like Mars ~ E

It kinda looks like Mars ~ E

Discovery of an ancient, habitable environment. “At Yellowknife Bay, the rover found evidence that an intermittent lake was once present, with fresh water and other chemical ingredients that life requires.” More evidence that conditions  were ideal for the emergence of life on Mars’ ancient past.

Evidence of an ancient streambed. “Curiosity found a rock called a conglomerate—made up of many rounded, small pebbles cemented together. This type of rock forms on Earth when water flows about knee deep.” Kind of over-kill if you ask me, but you know those NASA guys –they want to be 110% certain before they admit Mars was filled with rivers, lakes & even a giant ocean.

Radiation measurements to aid human exploration. “Curiosity measured the natural cosmic and solar radiation on its journey from Earth to Mars.” This was something of a bummer, since NASA scientists concluded a roun trip to Mars would expose any human astronaut to an incredibly hazardous amount of radiation.

Lack of methane in Mars’ atmosphere. “In the last few years, both Earth-based telescopes and Mars orbiters have seemed to detect methane on Mars—a gas that could be a result of present-day biological activity or signify other non-biological processes.” Whatever is releasing the methane –Martian bugs on a black bean diet?– it seems to be a cyclical phenomenon.

Diversity of rocks in Gale crater. “Before even getting to the ultimate destination of Mount Sharp, scientists were surprised that Curiosity found diverse types of rocks—from volcanic to mudstones to rocks with cracks filled with mineral veins. Each of these rock types tell the story of a different environment at some point in Mars’ past.” Yeesh… enough with the freakin’ rocks already! Show me some bonafide Martian fossils, dammit!

Curiosity is currently heading to mount Sharp,, where it will investigate the exposed lower layers, which appear to be sedimentary & might have been formed under wet conditions –Ok make that 120% certain…

9 So there I was last Monday, having the 1st cup of coffee of the day, when I saw a new e-mail delivered from NASA’s free newsletter titled “The Sun’s Magnetic Field is About to Flip.”

Le Me's reaction

My reaction

Followed by…

First thought that came to mind

But then I actually read the article, and discovered this is actually a normal event, signaling the peak of the solar maximum on the 11-year cycle:

When solar physicists talk about solar field reversals, their conversation often centers on the “current sheet.”  The current sheet is a sprawling surface jutting outward from the sun’s equator where the sun’s slowly-rotating magnetic field induces an electrical current.  The current itself is small, only one ten-billionth of an amp per square meter (0.0000000001 amps/m2), but there’s a lot of it: the amperage flows through a region 10,000 km thick and billions of kilometers wide.  Electrically speaking, the entire heliosphere is organized around this enormous sheet.

During field reversals, the current sheet becomes very wavy. Scherrer likens the undulations to the seams on a baseball.  As Earth orbits the sun, we dip in and out of the current sheet. Transitions from one side to another can stir up stormy space weather around our planet.

It’s a good thing to know our sun is not getting all gangsta on us, and is about to flip us the finger or anything…

...Although come to think of it, that would be kind of awesome!

…Although come to think of it, that would be kind of awesome!

8 So the sun is doing it’s solary things & we have nothing to worry about, right?

WRONG! Scientists have announced that they believe the meteor which crashed over Russia last February was part of a larger group, meaning it was nothing but an early warning shot.

First thought that came to mind

According to io9, Spanish researchers Carlos and Raul de la Fuente Marcos (brothers) conducted a computer simulation in an attempt to find the meteor’s orbit path around the sun. The two were able to average the ten best possible orbits against real asteroids in NASA’s catalogue—the researchers found 20. The alleged matches are supposedly part of a larger family, which range in size from 16 to about 660 feet across—one of which is expected to fly by Earth in 2025.

You read that? That means we have little more than 20 years to prepare ourselves & come up with some defensive strategy against these space rocks.

OR we can just sit with our thumbs up our bums & do nothing. That sure worked pretty well for the Clovis 12,900 years ago…

7  Tired as I was of all these fear-mongering news re. threats from above, I decided to check my Twitter feed, only to discover that ZOMG Fatberg is gonna destroy London!!!

First thought that came to mind

After my coworkers restrained me for the uptenth time, I went out to find out what exactly is a Fatberg –Fat Albert’s British cousin?– and thus learned ’twas nothing but a 15-tonne ball of congealed fat, held together by wet wipes. It took a sewage worker 3 whole weeks to get rid of this giant lump of limey lard.

Srsly London, WTF!

Srsly London, WTF!

“Given we’ve got the biggest sewers and this is the biggest fatberg we’ve encountered, we reckon it has to be the biggest such berg in British history,” said Hailwood.

I don’t know what creeps me out the most: the idea of a disgusting mass of fat looming underneath London, or the fact that they’re so common they actually came up with a name for them!

6 Also from London comes our next Pill: the first lab-grown has been cooked & eaten, and the verdict from the food critics is: not as disgusting as they thought.

[youtube]http://youtu.be/Oo6UyLqUVtQ[/youtube]

Ok so it feels like regular beef in your mouth, but judging by the ambiguous responses, it sure doesn’t taste like it. Still, not too bad as a first step for a project funded by Google’s co-founder Sergey Brin, who has invested an approximate $330,000 in research to develop a viable substitute to meat in order to meet the increasing demand for animal protein.

How curious that what very well be the 1st step in the Food revolution of the XXIst century took place in the same city where the Fatberg came into existence…

Unless…

OMG! it all makes sense now! What if those poor people were unawarely made to taste a FATBERGER??

First thought that came to mind

5

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But in case you need to escape a Fatberg overflow extra-fast, what do you do? That’s where Britain’s new Skylon project might come in pretty handy: Skylon is a radical new concept for a re-usable space plane theoretically capable of traveling from London to Sydney in just 4 hours –so I already know it’s got Aaron’s seal of approval– based on the Sabre rocket engine, which employs a very novel heat-exchanger to cool hot gases entering the engine intake. The plane would be capable of sending small payloads into space (satellites or equipment for the ISS) as well as transporting passengers.

The power unit would work like a jet at slow speeds in the lower atmosphere but then transition to full rocket mode at high speed in the upper atmosphere to make the jump to orbit.

Sabre is currently in development. It has been earmarked as a “high priority” technology project by the UK government following favourable technical reports from Esa’s propulsion experts.

If the Skylon becomes a reality, it will become a worthy successor to the Concorde’s legacy of ultra-fast aerial travel.

4

I'm sorry ~ E

I’m sorry ~ E

Skylon’s hybrid capabilities as a jet plane & a rocket are impressive, but not as impressive as the capabilities of a UFO that resembles an automobile. Yet that’s exactly what a stunned witness in New Zealand reported:

A West Coast man is ‘freaked out’ after coming face to face last night with what he claims was a UFO, parked on the road outside the entrance to Shantytown.

Matthew Robert, a mechanic from Rutherglen, insists he is not alone and that three other cars were also confronted by the night-time visitor on Rutherglen Road, south of Greymouth, about 8.45pm.

When the car-shaped object suddenly lifted into the sky in a blinding light, he and the other drivers left in such a hurry they left skid marks on the road.

The witness also reported loss of cell phone reception during the incident, along with ‘blurry vision’ –microwave radiation?

This is probably one of the most interesting UFO cases of the year, and I hope someone does a proper follow-up, because I want to know why Mr. Roberts initially confused this unknown object with a car –was it the shape perhaps?

Incidentally, I’ve read a few cases of witnesses reporting disc-shaped objects landing & then ‘morphing’ into common-looking trucks & cars. What kind of technology are we dealing with here?

3 Would a dolphin make a good UFO witness? Yes I know there’s the small detail of making sense of all those ‘eeeehs’ & ‘iiiiiiiks’, but a new research lead by Jason Bruck, a biologist with the University of Chicago, reveals the clowns of the seas have the best memory in the Animal kingdom after humans & are capable of remembering their friends for 20 years —without Facebook mind you.

Overall, Bruck found that the dolphins responded significantly more to signature whistles [the equivalent of ‘names’ in dolphin society] from old friends than unfamiliar dolphins, no matter how long they were separated. In one case, two dolphins, named Allie and Bailey, had been separated for 20.5 years, but Allie still immediately recognized Bailey’s whistle on the loudspeaker. In the wild, bottlenose dolphins live for an average of 20 years (though some hardy individuals can survive for nearly half a century), suggesting that the cetaceans have a lifelong social memory.

All this makes me wonder: if dolphins can remember their friends for so long… what about their enemies?

dat-dolphin

“Say that to me again, you blow-hole!!”

2 Yeah we like to make fun of the dolphins mostly to annoy the New Age crowd, but there’s no denying they are amazing creatures, capable of stunning prey using their sonars. Humans unfortunately lack that natural capability, so we have no choice but to deal with our foe the old-fashioned way –with guns.

aselsan

Unless there was a way to inflict harm on a person without regards to proximity. Believe it or not ‘death by telepathy’ is being proposed as one of the explanations for the death of four engineers working for an important Turkish defense firm, as part of a report submitted to Prime Minister Erdogan by the Inspection Board:

Four engineers working for ASELSAN died in mysterious and consecutive deaths in the years 2006 and 2007. Following the initial probe conducted after the deaths of Hüseyin Basbilen, Halim Ünsem Ünal, Evrim Yançeken and Burhaneddin Volkan, the press reported that the unexpected deaths of the four engineers were believed to be suicides, but question marks about the deaths have lingered on, with the families of the victims usually skeptical about their suicides.

Last year, the Inspection Board of the Prime Ministry launched a probe into the engineers’ deaths. After completing a one-year investigation into the incidents, the Inspection Board has drawn up a final report, which, after being presented to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan this week, was also submitted to the Ankara Chief Prosecutor’s Office, which is in charge of the investigation.

[…] The Inspection Board examined almost everything, from the projects the four engineers worked on to the victims’ family life, psychological treatment they were receiving, trips abroad and files prepared by the prosecutor’s office. Members of the Inspection Board also talked with the families, the psychologists of the victims and with experts in telepathy.

Given the current political situation in Turkey, it’s easy to understand the snarkiness in the comments accompanying this article, which show a great deal of skepticism in the ‘official explanation.’ Then again, I for one would like to know who these ‘experts in telepathy’ are. Could they be former Soviet investigators in psychotronic weaponry?

1 Even if you don’t believe in the existence of psychotronic weapons which could affect the behavior of individuals from a distance, it is an historical fact that the CIA did a great deal of research in the employment of mind-control mechanisms, through the use of powerful drugs, during the infamous MK-Ultra program –a program that might continue to this day away from the peering eyes of American citizens. Regardless of that, I sometimes wonder if the reason the powers at be decided to prohibit psychedelics was in order to secure an exclusivity to these chemical pathways…

This year I turn 40, and the War on Drugs is even older than I am. During all these decades millions of dollars have been wasted, countless lives have been lost or ruined, all in the name of preventing substances like marijuana from harming the minds of hapless citizens who can’t take care for themselves. And what gives the DEA and the NIH the certainty that marijuana is so harmful? Well um… you see… there’s this film Reefer Madness you know…

Yep ~ E

Yep ~ E

In what might be a historical turnover, Dr. Sanjay Gupta gave a public apology to his former rejection to cannabis, which he says was based on ignorance & false information. Something he will explore further on his upcoming documentary Weed, premiering this Sunday.

I apologize because I didn’t look hard enough, until now. I didn’t look far enough. I didn’t review papers from smaller labs in other countries doing some remarkable research, and I was too dismissive of the loud chorus of legitimate patients whose symptoms improved on cannabis.

Instead, I lumped them with the high-visibility malingerers, just looking to get high. I mistakenly believed the Drug Enforcement Agency listed marijuana as a schedule 1 substance because of sound scientific proof. Surely, they must have quality reasoning as to why marijuana is in the category of the most dangerous drugs that have “no accepted medicinal use and a high potential for abuse.”

They didn’t have the science to support that claim, and I now know that when it comes to marijuana neither of those things are true. It doesn’t have a high potential for abuse, and there are very legitimate medical applications. In fact, sometimes marijuana is the only thing that works. Take the case of Charlotte Figi, who I met in Colorado. She started having seizures soon after birth. By age 3, she was having 300 a week, despite being on seven different medications. Medical marijuana has calmed her brain, limiting her seizures to 2 or 3 per month.

I have seen more patients like Charlotte first hand, spent time with them and come to the realization that it is irresponsible not to provide the best care we can as a medical community, care that could involve marijuana.

We have been terribly and systematically misled for nearly 70 years in the United States, and I apologize for my own role in that.

Gupta was in Obama’s short list to become the US Surgeon General, but I’m glad someone else got the job, otherwise he wouldn’t have had the freedom (read: COJONES) to declare the falsity over which the pointless War on Drugs was established –the same way president Obama has quickly forgotten how he used to smoke weed long before he dreamed of becoming president of the United States.

And yet it’s not hard to foresee the conservative reaction to Gupta’s statement & documentary…

First thought that came to mind

Until next time this is RPJ jacking out, advising you to choose carefully the mad mobs you think of joining.

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