Extraordinary claims. Ordinary investigations.

Archive for February, 2008

Premonition… failed

After the amazing feat of Purnam Rama Sastri, we have another incredible Ed Glosser moment:

A 23-year-old woman a North Sea oil rig was overheard recalling a dream she had had about a bomb on the platform. The rumour that a bomb was on the accommodation block – or “flotel” – had spread to senior managers within an hour. According to the company the alarm was raised at about 9.15am.

Within minutes emergency procedures swung into action and the block was evacuated, with about 500 people crossing the gantry linking it to the oil rig. A search of the platform began and army bomb squad officers were put on standby.

Five helicopters from RAF Kinloss and a Nimrod reconnaissance aircraft from RAF Waddington were scrambled to the scene.

Small detail:

By mid-afternoon the company confirmed that nothing had been found, and workers began to return to the platform. The bomb squad was stood down and police said they were making arrangements to bring the woman ashore.

The union described the decision to evacuate as “ludicrous“.

Molloy said: “It appears that the whole thing was started when someone was a bit upset about a dream they had and that appears to have sparked one of the biggest security operations the North Sea has ever seen. The cost has been astronomical and there was never any need for it.” He said he felt sorry for the woman who appeared to be at the centre of the alarm.

From the Guardian. Redrum.

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Saucer looking planes


Above, MiG’s Skat unmanned combat air vehicle mock-up — see more images at the Ares blog, and info by Bill Sweetman. Many of the UAVs and UCAVs being developed are flying wings, ant their resemblance to flying saucers has been noted for a long time.

Curiously, Kenneth Arnold’s original sighting was much more similar to flying wings than a flying saucer, which even led some to speculate whether he could have seen prototypes by the german Horten brothers. The general opinion, though, is that that’s not a very probable solution to his sighting. If you are up to mundane explanations for this seminal sighting, you can just stick to pelicans.

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Walson’s World

In short: guy named John Lenard Walson says he invented a new gadget capable of extending his amateur telescope resolution. Walson then says he could film not only the International Space Station (ISS), but that he discovered that many “stars” in the sky are in fact HUGE structured objects. Walson then asks, in a very thrilling manner to some, “Mystery Space Machines Above. Black Ops, Star Wars Or ET? Or All Of The Above?

This has been going for over a month now, as Walson keeps uploading new videos, images and heightening the tension. But he never gets to the smoking gun. Probably because his name is not Walson, and everything is just-another-hoax.

Let us start from the trivia. “Walson” intended to sell his footage, involved himself with fellow mystery sellers, but they ended up fighting. You can check some of the public name-calling here. Millions of dollars, Spielberg and such are things involved. But that’s not all.

Less trivial is the fact that “Walson” seems to have been presenting videos from other people as if they were shot by him. Like an “orb” or even the much debated military helicopters that were harassing him at home. Those were in fact originally published on the Internet some years ago, by one Abby (”Bambi”) Parker. You can check more about UFO video piracy here.

Or not. Apparently, Abby Parker is in fact Walson himself. Or not. Walson is Parker’s husband. Or not. Walson has a very sick wife, who wasn’t Parker. Or not.

There’s much confusion and embarrassing excuses given, but this is essentially trivial. Even if the helicopters videos are indeed real, filmed by whomever claims to be harassed, they would be no mystery. At least according to the definitely not-debunkers folks at the AboveTopSecret forum.

Springer, from ATS, claims that a license plate of a van in the video could be traced back to a company that is located near a military airbase. That, along with the refusal to disclose any actual details of their methods, led to the expulsion of one of Walson’s spokespersons (or Walson himself, who knows). The whole case is now tagged as a HOAX on ATS.

Not happy with so many embarrassing moments, Walson actually went to the length of recording an interview with an astronomer. Only thing is that he didn’t tell the astronomer he was being filmed, and then edited the interview to make it look like it supported his claims. The astronomer was not very happy about that.

But anyway. All these things are trivial. The fact they are evidence that “Walson” is a liar, crank and similar adjectives shouldn’t be relevant if he did in fact create something capable of doing what he claims. Unfortunately, he didn’t.

Walson claims he uses an eight inch Meade telescope to shoot his videos. He says the giant machines are “fixed” in the sky. That he can record them in plain daylight, at noon. Or that he can record sounds from the machines in space. If this last claim didn’t ring any skeptical bells for you, watch more Alien movies, because in space nobody can hear you scream. In fact all of the previous claims are more or less impossible.

Photographing the ISS and satellites is very possible, though. And this may be the clearest evidence of Walson’s hoax. Read this article on the NYT about amateur enthusiasts who actually track and image orbiting objects. And then, check the video below:

Amazing shots of the ISS by Mike Tyrrell and Phil Masding, see more on Tyrell’s website.

Now, compare it with what Walson claims is the ISS:

Walson’s revolutionary, status-quo shattering, new super-secret invention actually produces worse images. Which means that if there were “giant machines” on space, you would expect amateur, noted, conventional astronomers to spot them much earlier.

And Walson’s images are not only worse. That ISN’T the ISS at all. Which leads us to the crucible question of how he creates his videos.

There are many possibilities, but someone already managed to reproduce very similar images. Without aiming above. In fact, “waveguide3” suggests he recreated the videos using models made with aluminum foil, shot at a distance and distorted with mirrors and glasses. And he actually shows: check his three videos, titled “S.L.O.W.”

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Prince Rupert’s Drop

Pouring molten glass on cold water, you can get Prince Rupert’s drops, named after the fellow who discovered the process around the 17th century. The quick solidification of the glass in the outer layers creates strong internal tension, distributed on a peculiar way and assuring the “magic” effect.

Drop a hammer over the bulbous end, and it will remain intact. But create a small fracture by the thinner end, and the drop will instantly explode into glass dust.

The same principle is applied in tempered glass, which combines greater resistance with almost instant fragmentation when the internal tension is broken. Another video below:

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Classical illusions revisited

The image above is not a spiral staircase. Look closely and you will find that it’s made of many closed circles.

It’s a modern, photoshopped version of a classical optical illusion. Click to see more on Mighty Optical Illusions.

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