Greetings, fellow Coppertops! For our final mission of the month --my how May flew by!-- we'll study the Pentagon's contingency plan in case of a Zombie Apocalypse, along with the search for a revered object associated with an even more revered cryptid; we'll also look into Seth Shostak's claims that intelligent ETs will be detected in 20 years, and whether that in itself is an intelligent prediction to make; finally, after we play homage to one of the most intriguing photographs of a (presumed) alien ever taken, we'll marvel at Science's attempts to transform light into matter. You know what other thing is worth marvelling at? The last X-Men film! Last night the crew of the Nebuchadnezzar decided to jack in to a cinema, and we were not in the least disappointed --goes to show the Matrix does have its uses once in a while...
It's something that should keep any intelligent person awake at night: What would I do in case of a zombie outbreak?
Lucky for you, Gringos, your government is way ahead of you, and has prepared a contingency plan in preparation of such a plausible threat to our way of living:
According to Foreign Policy, military strategists assigned to Omaha's U.S. Strategic Command wrote the document in April 2011, as part of game plan to protect citizens against any kind of threat.
"Planners ... realized that training examples for plans must accommodate the political fallout that occurs if the general public mistakenly believes that a fictional training scenario is actually a real plan," the plan's authors wrote.
They added that "we elected to use a completely-impossible scenario that could never be mistaken for a real plan."
Ah, but what if there's actually a real threat of a zombie uprising they don't want us to know about? We already know the dead show up once in a while to the ballots, so what's stopping them from starting some riot for the living?
But I hardly think the menace of a Zombie Apocalypse is something the Pentagon boys worry over a lot --After all, it's BRAINS what the ghouls are after, right?
You know what scares me more than a Zombie outbreak? A Bigfoot uprising. Now you just thing about it: With their super-human strength combined with their Ninja skills of concealment, we wouldn't see them a mile away... until it was too late!
That's why I think the best way to protect ourselves against a Sasquatch revolt is if we start worshiping them, just like the Sts'ailes First Nation in British Columbia, who view the hairy giant of the forest as a sort of steward of Nature. A sacred wooden mask depicting what is now the most famous cryptid in the world had been lost for 75 years, until it was finally located & return thanks to the efforts of James Leon.
The mask disappeared in 1939 from Sts'ailes First Nation, near Harrison Hot Springs in B.C.'s Fraser Valley.
Community elders told Leon that the mask had been taken by J.W. Burns, a teacher at the Chehalis Indian Day School, and a man obsessed with the sasquatch legend.
Burns, who is often credited for bringing the word "sasquatch" into common use, donated the mask to the Vancouver Museum.
Leon took the job of finding the mask seriously and learned it had been on travelling display. He searched through the archives of several museum's known for having artifacts from British Columbia.
While all those elders are gone, he said they'd be pleased the mask has been returned.
"We do burning for the sasquatch. It's our belief that his primary role is to ensure that the land is being taken care of. Because everyone of us, as Sts'ailes people, we carry an ancestral name, a rich name from the land.
I'm glad this story had a happy ending, and although I have nothing against museums displaying artifacts obtained from other cultures, these institutions should always make sure their collections are not the result of unlawful looting, and should always try to respect the wishes & customs of the surviving descendants. I feel a great place to display objects like this fascinating wooden mask would be the International Cryptozoology museum, founded & run by our good friend Loren Coleman, which was recently included in Time magazine's 10 Weirdest Museums in the World list. Congrats to Loren, and I hope I finally get a chance to make the pilgrimage to Maine.
Of course, the most popular scenario for a Sci-Fy-esque Armageddon is an alien invasion. But right now the scientists in charge of hunting down ET, are more preoccupied in proving once & for all that we're not alone in the Universe. And to do that they're asking for help --and money-- from the federal government. Senior SETI scientist Dr. Seth Shostak & Dr. Dan Worthimer, the current director of SETI, recently appeared before Congress to make the plea that searching for intelligent life in the Universe is something worth investing in. Shostak is so confident ET is out there, he predicts we'll find alien life in some form of another in the next 20 years, "depending on the financing."
Dr Shostak goes on to state how Kepler’s primary goal has been to ascertain whether, amongst all these planets, there are habitable worlds like our own.
‘The usual metric for whether a planet is habitable or not is to ascertain whether liquid water could exist on its surface,’ he continues.
‘Most worlds will either be too cold, too hot or of a type (like Jupiter) that may have no solid surface and be swaddled in noxious gases.
‘Recent analyses of Kepler data suggest that as many as one star in five will have a habitable, Earth-size planet in orbit around it.
‘This number could be too large by perhaps a factor of two or three, but even so it implies that the Milky Way is home to 10 to 80 billion cousins of Earth.
‘There is, in other words, more than adequate cosmic real estate for extraterrestrial life, including intelligent life.’
I've always had an on-going love/hate relationship with SETI. On the one hand I feel that trying to understand ourselves more by way of looking out for another comparison point --in this case, another form of intelligent life living elsewhere in the Cosmos-- is about the noblest endeavor I can think of, and something definitely more worthy of federal investment than the countless black programs which only benefit military contractors.
But on the other hand, the stubborn & downright irrational attitude of Shostak & co. to dismiss ALL of the UFO evidence, and to plainly state our planet has never been visited by aliens, is proof of the arrogant narrow-mindedness by which the search of ET life is being conducted. We only care of ETs if they've followed on our footsteps --and frankly to meet aliens so like us is something I don't particularly find too appealing...
Furthermore, I sometimes feel Shostak is guilty of hypocrisy. Yes, he feels Hollywood's portrayal of extraterrestrials is completely unscientific, and yet he's shown no qualms in taking their money when they hire him as consultant for their blockbuster films.
(Or maybe I'm just being biased due to the mythological connotations of Dr. Shostak's surname)
Yes, I often feel Shostak's dismissal of the UFO phenomenon at a whole is akin to a Flatland resident refusing to believe in this mysterious place called 'Up'...
The BBC website recently reminded us of the 50th anniversary of an astonishing event: On that fateful day of 1964, Jim Templeton took his small family to a nice grassy spot in Burgh Marsh, overlooking the Solway Firth in Cumbria. Jim, a fireman, decided to take some pictures of his young daughter wearing her new bright dress, but when the photograph was developed, something appeared in the image which managed to astound the entire world: a ghostly white figure in the background, which seemed to be wearing an odd suit with a helmet. Thus, the entity was nicknamed the Solway Spaceman, and to this day its serendipitous presence in the film has never managed to be explained.
Mr Templeton began receiving letters from all over the world.
"Some people claimed it was a spirit, others believed Jim or his daughter had psychic powers they had not been aware of," Dr Clarke said.
"It got weirder and weirder and weirder."
Then came a visit from two "Men in Black" who asked to be taken to the spot where the image was taken and referred to each other only as Number 9 and Number 11.
Perhaps the strangest turn of events was a link to the planned launch of a Blue Streak missile in Woomera, South Australia.
Just days after Mr Templeton had taken his photograph, that missile test on the other side of the world was aborted by technicians who reported seeing two men in the firing range.
Upon later seeing the Solway Spaceman picture on the front page of an Australian newspaper, they were said to be stunned as the figure looked the same as the figures they saw close to the missile.
I'd never heard of that synchronicity involving Woomera, and find as fascinating as the Solway image itself. British UFOlogist Dr. David Clarke dismisses it as a probable over-exposure, caused by Jim Templeton's wife standing behind her daughter --which makes me think Clarke may believe firemen have a thing for butch, square-shouldered females. And even though we'll probably never know the truth behind that enigmatic white figure, it's appearance on the photograph sparks a whole set of interesting ideas --which in the end I feel is the whole point of the entire UFO phenomenon.
If there are aliens regularly visiting our planet, then it wouldn't be outrageous to assume they've managed to control aspects of the Natural world which, despite being theoretically possible from our standpoint, would still seem almost miraculous. For instance we've know for a long time that a small amount of matter can be transformed into an incredible output of energy, ever since Albert Einstein wrote the most famous scientific formula in human history --E= mc2
So theoretically the opposite should also be achievable, and an enormous amount of energy could be 'slowed down' & converted into matter, in a process which would make any Medieval alchemist wet his pants. Unfortunately, this has never managed to be accomplished... yet. But a team of scientists at the Imperial College in London have come up with a clever method to achieve this still-theoretical phenomenon, involving a new kind of photon-photon collider equipped with a small container made out of gold; once again Alchemy is involved with gold to achieve the impossible.
The concept calls for using a high-intensity laser to speed up electrons to nearly the speed of light, and then smashing them into a slab of gold to create a beam of photons a billion times more energetic than visible light. At the same time, another laser beam would be blasted onto the inner surface of a small gold container known as a hohlraum (which is German for "hollow space"). That would create a high-energy thermal radiation field, buzzing with photons inside the container.
The photon beam would be directed into the center of the container, and when the photons from those two sources collide, some of them should be converted into pairs of electrons and positrons. A detector would pick up the signature of those particles of matter and antimatter as they flew out of the container.
If by reading this you're not immediately thinking of the Star Trek replicator, I suggest you stop reading & never bother to visit this column anymore.
The researcher also point out that a telling sign that their experiment was a success, would be if they detected gamma ray bursts, akin to the ones triggered during the initial moments after the Big Bang. Readers of Mysterious Universe would do well in studying the work of Tom Fusco, who claims gamma ray bursts can also occur during other types of phenomena --the ones we call ghostly apparitions.
Until next time, this is RPJ jacking out. wishing you to convert the light of Insight into the matter of Creativity.