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Red Pills of the Week — February 8th

Greetings, fellow Coppertops! As usual the mission we’re about to embark will not only be dangerous, but it will also challenge many of your dearest preconceptions: Discussing whether the Future is able to influence the Past, how much it takes to turn a harmless chicken into a fierce dinosaur, to the mystery surrounding the impenetrable language of the Voynich manuscript. And as we unscrew our bottle of holy water to deliver an exorcism via Skype, we’ll take out the popcorn from the ship’s microwave to enjoy the return of Chris Carter with his new series ‘The After.’ All this & more on the 2nd edition of your favorite column during the Year of the Whores! –here at The Pills we’re pledged to make the most of it.

10the-persistence-of-memory-1931

In the Matrix movies the people of Zion didn’t actually know the year they were living in, while the rest of humanity –still plugged to the machine simulation– we’re led to believe  it was the year 1999. Science Fiction has always loved to play with the concept of Time, but nowadays it seems REAL Science wants to join in the fun!

As reported by Greg Taylor on TDG, the new issue of the online magazine Nautilus has an article penned by George Muser, titled The Quantum Mechanics of Fate. In it Muser makes reference on the work of Hugh Price,  a University of Cambridge philosopher who specializes in the physics of time & who is not afraid to challenge the dogma that Entropy & the Arrow of Time forbids the possibility of Retrocausality. According to Price, thanks to quantum entanglement the Future CAN have a (somewhat limited) influence on past events, without breaking both the laws of physics & Doc Brown’s flux capacitor:

…Price asks us to consider the impossible: that doing something to either of the entangled particles causes effects which travel backward in time to the point in the past when the two particles were close together and interacting strongly. At that point, information from the future is exchanged, each particle alters the behavior of its partner, and these effects then carry forward into the future again. There is no need for instantaneous communication, and no violation of relativity.

Such radical speculations could one day give credence to disparate phenomena like Remote Viewing, in which practitioners often claim a future confirmation provided on a given target increases the accuracy of the information, by way of ‘closing the temporal loop.’

9step_pyramid

When we start talking about the issue of Time, some of us might start imagining how it would be like to transport us to some favorite historical period. No doubt many of my readers would instantly choose to travel to ancient Egypt, to learn once & for all how the Great Pyramid was built –and by WHOM.

Egypt was in the news this week thanks to a newly discovered step pyramid which predates the (official) construction of the Great Pyramid by a few decades. Yet as my colleague Rick MG pointed out @ TDG, the news is a bit misleading since the pyramid had been known to exist since at least 2010. But the important thing about this discovery nonetheless, is that this structure was part of 7 other identical pyramids bearing the same dimensions –60 x 61 feet (18.4 x 18.6 m)– and that neither of them were intended to have a funerary purpose.

The team also found hieroglyphic graffiti incised on the outer faces of the pyramid. The inscriptions are located beside the remains of babies and children who were buried at the foot of the pyramid. The researchers think the inscriptions and burials date to long after the pyramid was built and that the structure was not originally intended as a burial place.

The above quote reminded me a lot of the most recent findings in Teotihuacán, where human & animal remains have been found at the base of the Pyramid of the Sun. Could it be those babies were sacrificed to commemorate the construction of the pyramid?

8From ancient Egypt we now go further back in time to the Age of the Terrible Lizards. Thanks to Hollywood & many fine artists, we now have a pretty good idea of how dinosaurs might have looked like millions of years ago. But there’s still plenty of debate on how they moved, which forces paleontologists to get a bit… creative.

We know birds are the direct descendants of theropods –the line of meat-eating biped dinosaurs which included T-Rex & Allosaurus– so  scientists from the University of Chile, perhaps after having one cerveza too many, came up with a wacky idea: what happens if we stick a fake tail on a common chicken?

Behold… Chickenosaurus!

“Our experimental approach, although not perfect, was effective in displacing the [chickens’ center of mass] and recreating locomotor patterns expected in non-avian theropods,” the authors wrote. “Thus, we expect that careful phenotypic manipulation of extant birds can open new avenues of experimental investigation into unexplored facets of dinosaur locomotor mechanics and energetics, providing a more nuanced understanding of the relationship between form and function in dinosaur evolution.”

Why did the chicken cross the road? To prove it’s the great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandson of the mightiest predators who ever walked this Earth.

7Nessie-cryptozoology

To this day many people think plesiosaurs were also dinosaurs, while in fact they belonged to an entirely different taxonomic line –unlike dinosaurs, they were probably cold-blooded– and also to this day many Cryptozoology fans are convinced the loch Ness monster is an extant plesiosaur living in the cold waters of that Scottish lake.

Unfortunately for those cryptofans the chances Nessie is a living fossil of the Mesozoic period are slimmer than its reportedly large neck. Even more unfortunate still, 2013 was the 1st time in which there were no credible sightings of the beastie in almost 90 years. Has Nessie taken a sabbatical?

Loren Coleman reminds us that, whatever Nessie may be, if it’s a flesh & blood animal then there would have to be more than one animal in order to sustain a viable colony in the loch –unless they somehow swim in & out of the loch through some undiscovered passage, something which hasn’t yet been proven.

Of course, if Nessie is something other than an ‘ordinary’ aquatic creature –as researchers like Nick Redfern have proposed on numerous times– then I guess all bets are off.

Kevin Carlyon, the High Priest of White Witches in the UK, has claimed a spell he placed on the loch to protect Nessie from “exploitation of fraudsters” explains her non-appearance.

He said: “I personally believe Nessie is a ghost of a dinosaur, who has been regularly seen on the loch.

“But the spirit of the creature has been so exploited in recent years I decided to carry out an exorcism, hence no sightings of the monster.”

The white witch has vowed to return this summer to lift the spell and “put Nessie back”.

I’m sure the Inverness hotel owners & tourist guides will greatly appreciate it.

6oldest_print_Europe

Nessie proponents maintain the accounts of St. Columba are the oldest reference to their favorite monster –whether ancient Celts kept even older records of the famous ‘water horse’ is currently unknown.

On the shores of England, a team of scientists have just discovered the oldest human footprints found in Europe; with an estimated age of 800,000 years, they are also the oldest of its kind found outside of Africa.

British Museum archaeologist Nick Ashton said the find — announced Friday and published in the journal PLOS ONE — was “a tangible link to our earliest human relatives.”

Preserved in layers of silt and sand for millennia before being exposed by the tide last year, the prints give a vivid glimpse of some of our most ancient ancestors. They are from a group, including at least two children and one adult male. They could be a family foraging on the banks of a river scientists think may be the ancient Thames, beside grasslands where bison, mammoth, hippos and rhinoceros roamed.

The researchers said the humans who left the footprints may have been related to Homo antecessor, or “pioneer man,” whose fossilized remains have been found in Spain. That species died out about 800,000 years ago.

Ashton said the footprints are between 800,000 — “as a conservative estimate” — and 1 million years old, at least 100,000 years older than the previous earliest evidence of human habitation in Britain.

Perhaps with this new discovery, which sets even further back the history of human habitation in the ‘Old World,’ scientists will be more willing to take a look at the findings on the ‘New World’ –specifically, the footprints found on Valsequillo dam (Puebla) which are at least 40,000 years old, if not much older.

5lunar_footprint

It’s said the footprints left on the Moon by Apollo astronauts will last billions of years, unless an unexpected meteorite –or an alien douchebag– say otherwise.

But what about leaving NEW footprints? This week a group of NASA scientists calling themselves the Lunar Exploration Analysis Group (LEAG) decided to organize an open-letter campaign directed to the U.S. Congress which they call Destination Moon. It’s objective: To point out the importance of our natural satellite in order to organize a sustained human colonization off-planet –in short, a plea to return to the Moon.

Destination Moon supporters are rallying around other key points:

* Lunar resources can be used for fuel and life support for operations in Earth-moon space as well as for voyages to Mars and beyond.

* America can still lead the world beyond low Earth orbit by forging collaborations to make the frontier of space accessible to all.

* Scientific investigations on the surface of the moon uniquely support studies of early Solar System events that have been erased from Earth’s record.

These kind of petitions always rub me the wrong way, because basically we’re talking about projects which will be approved during a given administration, yet are susceptible to cuts or shutdowns after the next one. Scientists, who have long-term vision, are pleading to politicians, who only understand short-term ideas.

Still, I wish LEAG good luck.

4

Man, Val Kilmer has REALLY let himself go...

Man, Val Kilmer has REALLY let himself go…

During the famous Apollo 11 mission, while his companions Buzz & Neil were stretching their legs on the lunar surface, astronaut Mike Collins was orbiting the Moon & piloting the Command Module all by himself — for a brief moment, he became the loneliest human in history.

This is a sentiment José Alvarenga might understand only too well. The Salvadoran fisherman was rescued after washing ashore on the Marshall islands in January of this year, after allegedly being adrift at sea since late December of 2012 –that’s 13 whole months lost at sea!

He claimed to have survived all those months on a diet of fish, birds & turtles; when the rain water was scarce, he had no choice but to rely on turtle blood & his own urine.

Many doubts & questions have been raised about the veracity of his story, though –even though this is not the 1st time fishermen from Mexico have been taken by the currents & ended up so far away on the Pacific ocean. The family of Ezequiel, the young Mexican fisherman who was accompanying Alvarenga on that sharking trip, want to know what exactly happened to him & the particulars of his death. They will have to wait, though, since the 37-year-old castaway is still too weak to return home.

3voynich_manuscript

Speaking of Mexico, a rather interesting new development has connected my nation with one of the most intriguing texts in the whole world: The Voynich manuscript.

For years the content of this richly-illustrated book has eluded the cleverest cryptographers, with some even daring to suggest it’s nothing but nonsensical gibberish. But now a  team comprised of botanist Arthur Tucker & a retired information technology researcher Rexford Talbert, have come up with a brilliant way to approach the Voynich text: by focusing on the pictures, instead of the text.

Their conclusion: the images depict plants that are found exclusively in the American continent, and so propose the text might have been written in an extinct form of Náhuatl –the tongue used by most Mesoamerican cultures in  central Mexico prior to the Spaniard conquest.

Tucker began collecting copies of Mexican botanical books out of curiosity about the history of herbs there. “Quite by accident, I ran across the Voynich and it was a Homer Simpson moment of D’oh! Of course – this matches my other codices and the artwork of 16th century Mexico.”

The most striking example was an illustration of a soap plant (xiuhamolli) in a Mexican book dated 1552. Tucker and Rexford Talbert, a retired information technology researcher at the US Department of Defense and NASA, connected a total of 37 of the 303 plants, six animals and one mineral illustrated in the Voynich manuscript to 16th century species in the region that lies between Texas, California and Nicaragua. They think many of the plants could have come from what is now central Mexico.

On the basis of these similarities, the pair suggests that the manuscript came from the New World, and that it might be written in an extinct form of the Mexican language Nahuatl. Deciphering the names of these plants could therefore help crack the Voynich code.

Could this be evidence that certain esoteric groups had previous knowledge of the so-called New World prior to its ‘official’ discovery by Columbus? But most importantly than that, why were those plants so important to the unknown author of the manuscript?

2Likely the Voynich was created by a Renaissance alchemist, since they were famous for protecting their secret lore by using arcane symbolism & cryptic text, mainly out of fear their knowledge would fall on the wrong hands –like the Inquisition, which would have no qualms in judging their work as witchcraft & demon-worshiping.

Some say demons are still around seeking to afflict souls & create all sorts of mischief, and for that there are those willing to make a stand against the powers of Darkness. People like Bob Larson, who is still fighting the good fight by performing exorcisms over Skype.

Wait, what???

This is great to know, since I’m about to launch my own brand of exorcisms over Twitter (@Exortweetz) which no doubt will also help keep the minions of Satan at bay, 140 characters at a time!

1I actually do have an unhealthy fascination with the concept of demonic possession –it’s probably a big turnoff for the ladies to learn one of my favorite movies is ‘The Exorcist’… oh well.

I’m also happen to be a big fan of ‘The X Files.’ Chris Carter, the creator, practically colored the way I looked at the world during the 90’s –which was one of the reasons I kept checking the rooms of my parents’ house looking for hidden microphones!– so it gives me great pleasure to announce Carter is back in the game with a new series called ‘The After’, whose pilot is freely available online!

Go watch the series & share your thoughts on it on the comment section, will ya? It may not tap the cultural zeitgeist the way the X-Files did, but I’m sure it will still be worth your time.

Until the next time, this is RPJ jacking out. The Truth is indeed out there… but you need to start your search from within.

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