Extraordinary claims. Ordinary investigations.

Archive for August, 2007

Uri Geller on Candid Camera

Priceless Uri quotes:

“You realize that when I talk on the mobile phone I keep it away from my head… because it radiates the brain” [see how he’s telling the truth when he speaks with his lawyer on the phone].

“Let’s bend the mast now… maybe four hours, but it would bend”.

For more Uri Geller fun, watch his autobiographical, fully endorsed movie, Mindbender. It’s hilarious from beggining to end, but the best part is no doubt when he’s making out with a girl inside a car, and then lose control over his powers and goes flying on a tornado. If you don’t believe it, just go watch it.

[Hat tip to Science Humor]

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Caribbean UFO videos: author confesses hoax

The 35-year-old Barzolff is a professional animator who attended one of the most prestigious art schools in France and has a decade of experience with computer graphics and commercial animation.

It took Barzolff a total of 17 hours to make both the Haiti and Dominican Republic videos. He did it all by himself using a MacBook Pro and a suite of commercially available 3-D animation programs, including Vue 6. The videos are 100% computer-generated.

To prove that he was truly behind the videos, Barzolff agreed to provide the L.A. Times with a new spacecraft video. Called “Proof,” the video depicts a small version of one of the spacecraft floating above a Paris street. As the camera pans over, the viewer sees two elderly women at a cafe. One of whom is holding a remote control device. Humorously, of course, this video makes use of computer graphics as well. …

Barzolff stressed the videos were not intended as a viral marketing ploy. His movie is still in the idea phase, and he created the hoax strictly as a “sociological experiment” — in
other words, just to see what would happen. What happened far exceeded his expectations. …

Barzolff called the results of his experiment “entertaining, thrilling, completely addictive, and a little scary.” The scary part, he said, was that in spite of the evidence, “many people refuse to believe it’s a hoax.”

LA Times: It came from outer space (reg required)

Read a the text of the article on UfoUpdates. It’s the same spaceship indeed, and a very humorous proof of authorship. The spaceship is actually extremely detailed, which couldn’t been seen very well on the original videos. If only he had taken the task of creating different palm trees…!

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Amazing: CARET/Chad drone inspired by X-Men!

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The CARET story has been keeping the internet abuzz, where you can read a lot of interesting discussion on the OpenMindForums or AboveTopSecret. It was originally sent to C2C and Earthfiles.

Now Carlos Relva, a fellow Brazilian of the Enigmas da Humanidade website just sent me this huge find: apparently on the “X-Men: Evolution” animated series there was a ship extremely similar to the CARET “drones”.

And the important thing is, the episode featuring that ship, as far as I could check, was aired in August 2, 2003 “Target-X” was aired on September 13, 2003. The original “Chad” drone images were published in May, 2007.

Check below a short clip of the ship:

You can find more clips here (between 02:40 and 03:20), here (02:25~02:40) and here (right at the end).

Relva tells me he watched the episode and noted the similarity, but also says that he remember having read about that on some other place he can’t remember (can anyone find it?).

Regardless of who first discovered it (and as far as I know, it may have been Carlos Relva himself), it’s amazing to find such similarity.

It seems that this ship in X-Men was from the secret and rogue government group that created Wolverine, related to the “X-23” character introduced in the episode, so it also fits. Could it be that the CARET drones are indeed a viral, but for X-Men, Wolverine or something?

Given that it was originally thought that they were a viral for the Transformers movie (or even for the Halo 3 game), and those weren’t confirmed — and so far, have been pretty much disconfirmed — we may also doubt again that it’s a viral for X-Men… whatever.

But at the very least, the hoaxers were inspired by this ship, from the concentric ring, to the spikes above it, even the arms, which in this “original” are folded down (more similar to the “Big Basin” drone).

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You could already tell the hoaxers were geeks from the fact they tried to mix ufology with Sillicon Valley culture (PACL-PARC), but who would have thought they were fans of “X-Men: Evolution”?

UPDATE: I watched both episodes where the character “X-23” is featured, and contrary to what I assumed first, the ship was featured on his second appearance, episode “Target-X”, aired September 13, 2003. Good thing is, I captured all the scenes with the ship:

The similarities to the CARET drones are obvious. A basic disc, or even ring, around which there are lower arms, and topped by spikes. Even the natural landscape background for the X-Men ship is similar to those where the CARET drones were featured.

Once again, considering the CARET hoaxers are very probably computer geeks, capable of creating quite nice computer models; and who also tried to mix ufology’s conspiracy theories with Silicon Valley culture, it just fits that they would be inspired on an nnovative design by an animated TV series like “X-Men: Evolution”.

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Colonizing the Universe – with nuclear bombs

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Of all the dreams of the golden years of the 20th century, in which flying cars would be be crossing the skies of technologic utopias, one of them actually had serious chances of becoming reality exactly as imagined in cheap sci-fi comics. Shortly after stepping on the Moon, we would be colonizing Mars, visiting Saturn and the satellites of Jupiter, all in gigantic spaceships hundreds of meters long, with thousands of tons and hundreds of astrounauts. Huge permanent colonies would be established in other planets and even Alpha Centauri would be at our reach.

It would all be possible through one project: Orion.

In a sort of poetic beauty, this project full of hopes for humankind was born on the mind of the first man to create the most destructive weapon ever conceived. Stanislaw Ulam, who along with Edward Teller created the key concept behind the hydrogen fusion bomb, had a few years earlier thought about using the power of nuclear explosions for a peaceful end. At the end of his life, he would consider the concept of nuclear pulse propulsion his greatest invention.

Since the beggining of the century, physicists had realized that the energies involved in nuclear reactions were many orders of magnitude greater than those in meager chemical reactions to which we are more used to, from a burning match to even TNT. And they spent the next decades trying to control it, first through nuclear reactors and then unleashing this power in an instant with the atom bomb.

On thinking about how to use this huge power to send humans to space, Ulam realized that it was not feasible to contain those explosions in chambers, like we do with our chemical rockets. His alternative concept for nuclear pulse propulsion was more feasible, and essentially very simple, though his original written note about it remains classified to this day.

Ulam proposed to simply detonate a small nuclear bomb at the rear of a vehicle and catch the blast with a simple and strong pusher plate, coupled to a shock aborption system to avoid having the whole vehicle tearing apart from the sudden acceleration. Repeat the process one or more times per second, and you would be going to the stars, pogo-stick style.

But would such a simple method actually work? The video below demonstrates the exotic concept just may be possible:

The experiments used common, chemical, high explosives though. Wouldn’t the pusher plate be pulverized if it caught any significant thrust from the nuclear explosions?

In 1954, an experiment proved that engineered objects could survive a nuclear fireball, where two graphite-covered steel spheres placed near the center of an explosion were later found at a distance, almost intact.

In 1958, a project was created to develop the concept. Project Orion was born. Contrary to almost everything in the history of the space race, all semed to conspire for Orion to succeed.

At around the same time, the military had already mastered the techniques to create small and resilient nuclear bombs, including some that could be fired from cannons. On Project Orion, the spaceship would be loaded with a few thousand small nuclear bombs, stored and deployed one at a time by a mechanical system based on those used on Coca-Cola bottling factories (!).

The explosions would not pulverize the pusher plate. In fact, they would only take a fraction of its thickness, and even that could be dealt with if the plate was first sprayed with an oil, in which case the plate itself would not lose any material in thousands of explosions.

The thrust would be huge. Even though it seems very wasteful at first, and it actually is, since you don’t need to contain the explosion it can be very powerful. It would work in the space vacuum too: the chemical explosives that first ignite the nuclear components turn into the propellant after the nuclear explosion.

Also, the huge thrust produced by the explosions could only mean one kind of vehicle: a hugely massive one. Contrary to the rockets we know, built for minimum possible mass, the more mass the Orion vehicles had the better, as they would translate the thrust into accelerations safe for the fragile human beings inside it.

Project Orion spaceships were designed based on submarines, not aircrafts. Being made of strong steel, their mass was always counted in thousands of tons. Such mass would also be useful as a shield for cosmic radiation, as well as the radiation produced by the constant nuclear explosions at the rear of the vehicle.

Suddenly, huge spaceships were not an issue, but an engineering solution.

The high efficiency of the nuclear pulse propulsion would also allow the vehicle to reach speeds almost impossible for chemical rockets, making round trips to Pluto and even close stars, at fractions of the speed of light, became plausible objectives. The Orion scientists actually made the calculations for such trips.

One by one, all the technical difficulties of the project were being solved, at least in the paper, and the military sponsors were willing to spend almost unlimited resources for it to become a reality. Which, ironically, ended up being one of the main reasons for its demise. Initiated in 1958, when the project was starting to reach maturity as a concrete idea, real world politics got to Orion.

Not everything was a comic book dream. Detonating nuclear bombs in the atmosphere, even small ones, inevitably generates radioactive fallout. Calculations suggested that, statistically, one Orion rocket launch could cause up to ten deaths by cancer provoked by the added radiation in the atmosphere.

The nuclear explosions would also generate electromagnetic pulses (EMPs) which would affect and probably destroy all electronic equipment on a huge area below the rocket, as well as nearby satellites in orbit.

That the military men were also enthusiastically dreaming of great nuclear battleships in space and showed a model of one such monster to John Kennedy also didn’t help. Kennedy had just been through the Cuban missile crisis, and a space race with nuclear battleships over our heads was the last thing we needed.

The Partial Test Ban Treaty of 1963, prohibiting nuclear explosions in the atmosphere, effectively put an end to the project. It survived a few more years, being even supported by figures like Wernher von Braun, but NASA was already on its chemical rocket path to the Moon.

Even today, the nuclear pulse propulsion remains the best technology ever conceived for space travel. It’s not the only way to apply the power of the atom to travel in the skies, but it’s the only one that combines both high thrust and high specific impulse. Ionic and even other kinds of nuclear engines can generate high specific impulse, but only with a very small thrust. Our chemical rockets generate huge thrust, but with such bad performance that it’s impossible to escape Earth without multiple stages. With an Orion vehicle, a rocket could go from the ground to other planets with just a single stage.

It may seem paradoxical that nuclear bombs may mean both the end of our species through an Armageddon caused by intercontinental nuclear bombs, or the guarantee of our future through interplanetary nuclear spaceships.

But it just illustrates how science is just a way of gathering knowledge about the world. Technology is a way of applying this knowledge. But if and how we will apply it, is something for us to decide through other means, unfortunately not as clear cut.

Up until now, we didn’t explode ourselves, but we also didn’t take the leap that could get us “where no man has gone before”.

Above: excerpt from BBC’s “To Mars by A-Bomb“. The reference about project Orion is the book “Project Orion: The True Story of the Atomic Spaceship“, by George Dyson, son of Freeman Dyson.

Wikipedia has a nice summary on the subject, and a more detailed article freely available is “Project Orion: Its Life, Death, and Possible Rebirth“, with a long list of links and further references.

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UFOs, simulacra and simulation

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Take a look at the image above, and answer quickly: is it real? If it’s not, how was it made/faked?

The first thing I thought when I looked at it was how fake it looked. Surely another 3D computer model. Nice detail for the birds, though, there’s one flying right in front of it.

But if you click on the image, look at the full megapixels version and read its filename, the truth may surprise you.

That disc is real. It’s not flying, as the trick here was that the support was crudely erased with Photoshop, but the fake looking disc is actually real. I’m told by a reader that the structure is for the pigeons. Nice lesson on how your eyes may be wrong, even when they are “skeptical”, huh?

Here’s another interesting one. The image below wasn’t altered in any way, and depicts a 100% real scene. And there were indeed those hundreds of witnesses there.

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Click on the image for the original. Can you guess what it really is? The answer will be posted as an update for this post tomorrow.

[images sent by Ringo on alt.binaries.ufo.files]

UPDATE: And the image above is… of two F-18 fighter planes crossing each other. Ta da! I’m told they must be the Blue Angels. These real images that, nevertheless, are not what they look at first sight remind the best UFO photo ever.

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