Apr 28, 2014 I Miguel Romero

Red Pills of the Week: Cosmic Radio Bursts, Cousin Worlds & UFOlogical Phoenixes

Greetings, fellow Coppertops! As we rapidly approach the end of the month, we see no end to the onslaught of weirdness & wonder spewed out by the Fortean Matrix. From mysterious energetic radio bursts who seem to be originated at the edge of forever, to the most Earth-like exo-planet ever discovered; we'll also question the role of epigenetics in how our ancestors looked so different from our extinct cousins, the Neanderthals; and as we marvel at a mysterious glowing UFO photographed by an Australian pilot --an a skeptic, nonetheless!-- we'll witness the return of unidentified triangular craft over the American skies. Are these mysteries mere glitches in the Matrix... or perhaps a deliberate signal from the Matrix's programmers?


Bursting Out the Cosmic Egg


On November 2, 2012, the massive radio telescope at Arecibo, Puerto Rico --the same facility once used by Frank Drake in 1960 to send a coded message to any potential extraterrestrial civilizations listening-- detected a blast of radio waves, which helped stir a long-heated controversy with regards to a celestial phenomenon currently called the Lorimer bursts: a very short & bright type of cosmic radio wave, first detected in 2007 by a team led by Duncan Lorimer, an astrophysicist at West Virginia University in Morgantown and the National Radio Astronomy Observatory.

The bursts are so rare, that until now they'd been detected by only one telescope in Australia, leading many astronomers to wonder whether they were actually originating right here on our own planet. The Arecibo discovery seems to have put that matter to rest, and it also strengthens Lorimer's original suspicions that the bursts come from outside our own galaxy --like WAY way outside!

If astronomers are interpreting the bursts’ dispersion measures correctly, then the bursts came from billions and billions of light-years away – in other words, they’re nowhere near our cosmic neighborhood. And nobody knows what they are.

“The sources of the bursts are undoubtedly exotic by normal standards,” Cornell University astronomer Jim Cordes wrote in Science.

So now comes the 60-million light-year question: Just what the hell are they??

More detections will undoubtedly be necessary to answer this, and to confirm which of the several proposed theories is correct --spinning neutron stars, magnetars, primordial black holes, or something even more exotic.

Notice that all these proposed hypotheses have one thing in common: They are based on natural phenomena. But what if the Lorimer bursts are artificial in origin? One thing I've never understood, is this evident paradox in the mindset of modern astronomers: On the one hand they assure us that life is more than likely widespread throughout the Cosmos; but on the other hand --save a few exceptions-- NONE of the observed astronomical events is ever interpreted as a sign of these assumed extraterrestrial civilizations.



Earth 2.0? Not Yet...


Like many of you, dear Coppertops, I've lived most of my life waiting for confirmation that we're not alone in the Universe. In my younger years, I used to think that confirmation would come in the form of the cliched UFO disclosure, as still promoted by a few die-hard --or perhaps delusional-- activists. But nowadays, I think the long-waited paradigm change will come from anywhere BUT the UFO community.

One of those likely avenues of change, is the finding of that astronomical Holy Grail: An exo-planet with the same characteristics of Earth; a similar size, chemical composition, and relative position to its home star well within the 'Goldilocks zone'. If future advances in telescope technology would allow us to know with absolute certainty that life flourishes in another planet, life in our own will NEVER be the same.

That fateful day is closer than we think: This week NASA announced that their Kepler telescope --the same one we thought last year it was broken beyond repair-- has discovered a rocky exo-planet tentatively named Kepler-186f; despite orbiting a red dwarf instead of a yellow sun like our own, and being larger in size than Earth, Kepler-186f is the closest thing we've found so far to an extraterrestrial world capable to supporting life as we know it.

If you're not utterly enthralled by that last sentence, then read it again.

"Being in the habitable zone does not mean we know this planet is habitable. The temperature on the planet is strongly dependent on what kind of atmosphere the planet has," Thomas Barclay, a research scientist at the Bay Area Environmental Research Institute at Ames, and co-author of the paper, said in a statement. "Kepler-186f can be thought of as an Earth-cousin rather than an Earth-twin. It has many properties that resemble Earth."

Are you ready for having your world changed forever? If you're reading this column, then chances are you already are...


Neanderthals vs Modern Humans: It's Just a Matter of Expression


Long-time readers of this humble column will know by now that I'm completely fascinated with Neanderthals, those stocky cousins who shared the planet with us for thousands of years, only to be completely replaced by our direct ancestors.

Modern science has managed to uncover what Victorian observation failed to realize: Not only is the genetic differences between Neanderthals & us incredibly minute, but the possibility that we actually interbred with them is no longer perceived as improbable fantasy.

But as any close observer of scientific matters would tell you, DNA is only part of the equation. More & more we're becoming aware on the important role in how the environment & personal circumstances play a role in how our genes express themselves --i.e. get switched on & off, mostly through a process called methylation-- over time; a field that is currently known as Epigenetics.

Could epigenetics play a role in the morphological differences between Neanderthals & modern humans, despite the almost negligible similarities in their genomes? That is what a team of scientists are currently proposing:

The team identified about 2,000 regions in modern and archaic human genomes that had significantly different degrees of methylation. One of those regions, the HoxD cluster, is important in the development of body structure. Researchers theorize that the HoxD cluster, which was highly methylated in archaic humans, may be responsible for some of their differences in physical appearance from modern humans, including shorter, more robust limbs. The researchers published their findings today in Science.

Once again, I feel the need to bring up the subject of Zana, the female Almasti that was allegedly kept captive in a remote Russian village in the 19th century, and subsequently gave birth to several offspring sired by different townsfolk. After Dr. Bryan Sykes discovered, through the study of her offspring, that Zana's DNA was of Sub-Saharan origin, everyone was all too eager to close that cryptozoological chapter, and label the red-head wild woman as nothing more than an escaped African slave.


But what if there's more to the story? What if we also need to consider the epigenetic factor in the hominid quandaries that represent the account of 'wild men' spread out throughout the world? What if these mysterious hominids are almost indistinguishable from us from a mere DNA study, and yet be morphologically divergent from 'modern' human beings?



The Australian Phoenix


When you've spent so much time reading close encounter accounts as I have, it's impossible not to wonder at some point: Are UFO reports a sign that we are witnessing another phase in the evolution of our species, influenced by some unknown exterior pressure?

Even though by now photographic evidence is no evidence at all, in our age of ubiquitous smartphones you can still get surprised by a UFO photograph. That's why I feel when I look at the picture taken by an anonymous witness, allegedly an Australian commercial pilot with  30 years of experience, who observed something unusual over the skies of Caloundra, the southernmost community on the Sunshine Coast in South East Queensland, Australia.

The man, a self-confessed skeptic, could not find a conventional answer for the self-illuminating object he managed to observe & photograph.

"I have heard of and seen many, many things in my career and have flown all over the world ... but nothing like this," he said.

"I think it is fascinating and if there is some credibility to it ... it has changed my mind that there could be something else out there."

I've read the hypotheses of some UFO researchers, who think this winged UFO may be some kind of R/C aircraft rigged with LEDs covering its frame. As for me, what came to mind the 1st time I saw the image, was Betty Andreasson's mystical vision of a glowing phoenix, which eventually transformed into a big gray worm.

2wqh0mgNow I'm more than aware that this interpretation has more to do with my own psychological framework, than with the actual observation of this unknown Australian pilot. But so be it; the UFO mystery is a template in which we each hang our own biases & aspirations.


The Triangles Cometh

For the aspiring UFO investigator, it would be most unwise not to consider the human factor meddling with the more outré cases. Whether we want it or not, there are many unidentified craft soaring our skies, that are more than likely to have a 'mundane' provenance.


Almost a month ago we discussed some tantalizing photographs taken over Texas by aviation experts, which seemed to portray some sort of secret triangular craft. Now comes a new photograph taken in Wichita, which also shows a strange triangular object leaving behind a thick, double contrail.

Amateur photographer Jeff Templin says he was out taking pictures of wildlife when he spotted a strange contrail. He snapped a few images.

Templin told KSN that the object was “Right over the city, clear as a bell. Anyone that was looking up would have seen it. You don’t usually see military or even civilian aircraft’s jets that leave contrails making those kinds of severe departures off of the given route.”

He also said the aircraft was making 180 degree turns in the shape of an “S.” He says the craft was completely silent.

When Templin got home he zoomed in on the object and was surprised to see the triangular shape. He says it is “not like anything you typically see.”

According to the aviation experts KSN talked to, they agree. None of them were able to identify the craft.

triangular craft 570x313
Left: Photo taken in Amarillo, Texas. Right: Photo taken in Wichita

Veteran UFO researcher Norio Hayakawa agrees these were 2 different triangular craft, being tested over US territory. And comparing the images side by side, we can observe 2 different delta shapes--the more recent one being wider than the other.

But, can we be certain of this? What if we're witnessing the SAME secret aircraft, which is capable of changing its wing configuration, the same way F-14 Tomcat jet fighters can change into a more 'aggressive' wingspan? I know this is a very speculative assumption, but given the fact we know NOTHING about these black birds, why should we leave any option out of the table?

Until next time, this is RPJ jacking out. If you have the habit of changing your assumptions regularly, you'll be free of ego-driven beliefs.

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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