Extraordinary claims. Ordinary investigations.

Archive for April, 2008

Ten thousand years from now (but 25 would do)

Wow. Just wow. Click on the image to view the original on Paleo-Future, from the February 12, 1922 Ogden Standard-Examiner (Ogden, UT). That’s 1922. If that doesn’t impress you, dear UFO buff, it should.

The modern icon of the flying saucer didn’t actually penetrate our culture until 1947, when amid much confusion the term was publicized in relation to UFO sightings (the term UFO itself would take some more years to come by).

There were some examples and reports of discoidal flying objects before that seminal year, some even used the iconic expression. But there was no concept (much less mass sightings) of flying saucers as a kind of Universal design for alien spaceships. Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers used rockets. Alien Flying Saucers, that’s a post-1947 cultural icon.

That’s why depictions of discoidal aircrafts and spaceships before 1947 are of special interest. They are not that rare, actually, but each one of them should make you say wow. And this one from 1922, well… WOW.

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Beings of light

“I looked out and I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, I’ve lost my mind,'” resident Karen Henuset said of the first time she saw the specters. “So I asked our nanny to come and take a look at this, and the hair on her arms just stood straight up.” It’s as “clear as day. You see two eyes on each of them, they both have this little thing over their head. It’s a little weird,” said resident Reid Henuset.”

But a neighbor is more skeptical. He “believes the image is a reflection off of a window. And it only happens every afternoon between 4:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. The only sure way the image goes away — clouds”. via NBC.

The silent invasion also reached the UK:

“David and Ann Lawrence saw their new neighbour and decided to get snap of the creature. Ann said: “The house has had an extension built and since then, the sun shining on the window has created this image on the wall opposite.”

Previously, these signs of light were more abstract, though perhaps more symbolic. They were divine:

The phenomenon was actually interpreted by some as a miracle, something to do with Maitreya and the space brotherhood. There’s also a documentary about it.

And, of course, there are also boring skeptics who explain how those are just more reflections from opposite windows.

But beware. There are also evil shadow beings.

Or pareidolia. [via Cabinet of Wonders, Marcianitos]

UPDATE: Clarke and Robert’s Strange Days has another image of the Henuset light beings:

On which we can see that they are — just like the British “being” — versions of the original, but more boring, “crosses of light” reflected from windows.

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The Great Dark Cosmic Side Coincidence

[Earthlit Moon: Dorst/Druckmüller]

One of the biggest mysteries — and wonders — in the known Universe flies over our heads every day. Or night, to be more precise. Alas, few human beings ever come to realize these questions even exist, much less ponder about them.

Although often quoted polls suggest some people are still in the Middle Ages, most do know that planets are more or less spherical and revolve around the Sun. Or at least that they are not just points of light on a celestial bowl over a Flat Earth. Everything is moving, evolving and revolving.

Now, then why does we always see the same Moon? That is, the same old side, with a Man, a rabbit or even a woman carrying an infant? Our natural satellite is not flat, and even if it was, fact is we never get to see its other side. Because there is one. Popularly called the “dark side”, it’s in fact as often illuminated by the Sun as our familiar side, and that’s exactly because the Moon evolve and revolve. So how come it cannot be seen from Earth, ever? No human being had ever seen the far side of the Moon until 1959, when soviet probe Luna 3 captured the first glimpse of it.

One of the first images of the far side of the Moon, captured on 1959

The simple answer is that the Moon’s rotation period coincides with its orbital one, which in turn means that the time it takes for the Moon to turn around itself is the same as it takes for it to fly around Earth. The slightly more tricky question is why this happens to be so. It’s certainly no coincidence, one must assume. Given all the possibilities, it would be insane to think such a match would happen fortuitously.

Science does have an answer for it, and it involves the most traditional of the forces. Initially, the Moon — however it was formed — didn’t have equal rotational and orbital periods, but good old gravity took care of synchronizing them. Called the tidal locking effect, it explains this synchronization not only on our Moon, but on many satellites of the other planets that have also synchronized their rotation and orbital periods. It also means that this synchronization will continue for eons to come, even as these periods change. Long Live to the Rabbit on the Moon.

The mechanism of the tidal locking is fascinating by itself. While the rotational and orbital periods of a satellite are not synchronized, it will have tides. Here on Earth we associated tides with the sea water, but the effect also applies to solid matter, which doesn’t flow as easily. The result is friction, which generates heat, much the same way you can heat a paper clip by bending it repeatedly. This exact mechanism may be generating enough heat in one of Jupiter’s satellites, Europa, to sustain life under miles of ice!

All this heat doesn’t come from nothing, and it effectively decelerates the rotation period, exactly the one that determines the frequency of the tides. And it does that until the rotation period equals the orbital, when tides cease to be significant. It’s as if there were giant cogs linking the orbiting objects. It’s not surprising such intricate and precise celestial mechanisms were compared to clockworks.

And this mechanism (click for a longer and nicer explanation) works both ways: the tides we have here on Earth, due to the Moon, also generate friction, which decelerate the motions responsible for them. Meaning that in a few billion years, if our Moon is still in orbit, Earth would also synchronize its rotation period with that of Moon’s orbit around it. Meaning that the Moon would not only show one side, but that it would only be visible from one hemisphere of Earth, “fixed” in the sky above one point of the planet. Our Earth would also have a “far side” to anyone who happens to be on the Moon.

Neat, huh? A very nice example of the amazing success science has had on explaining things as nicely as clockworks mechanisms that we just mentioned. But there’s one more thing to be explained about the Moon, something just as casual but amazingly more intriguing, because cogs are nowhere to be seen. Not even the metaphorical ones.

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Giant ‘jiboia’ snake in Brazil

Reader José Paulo Grandal, from Pará, Brazil, found and kindly sent us (thank you!) the scan of the photograph of a seemingly enormous Brazilian snake. The scan is from a copy, and the embedded description on it reads something like:

“This is a ‘jiboia’ snake of which only part appears. It has approximately 48 meters [sic] and was found on the ‘Jari’ Lake, Pará state, where some people say there are no Big Snakes. On 11/10/1949“.

The original photograph has the description (with the same information) written on the back, as Grandal tells. And even he doubts the size ascribed to the snake, which looks immense because of perspective.

But it does look like an extremely big one, there are no clear signs of tampering that I could see, and Grandal even asks for tips on how to better preserve the original photograph, as the writings on the back are already fading.

I hope someone is interested on better analyzing it, perhaps a more accurate size estimate is still possible.

UPDATE: Herpetologist Chad Arment, from Strangeark.com, kindly informed us that the “snake photo was originally published (per Newton’s Encyclopedia of Cryptozoology) April 28, 1949, in the newspaper A Provincia do Pará, credited to Joaquim Alencar. The snake was alleged 45 meters, and was found on the Rio Abuna (Acre State). There’s been a fair bit of confusion over the details over the years, and different lengths have been reprinted along with the same photo at different times. The locality details printed on the photo sent to you appear to be another variant.”

As to the size of the animal, “there is, unfortunately, no way to determine the length of the snake from the photo itself”, Arment explains. “And I don’t see any visual clues supporting an extraordinary length in the anaconda”. As Craig York also noticed, the snake could be very close to the camera and its apparent size would be just a perspective trick.

Its actual size could be big, but not extraordinary.

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Dogu figures: Jomon Jedi?

Long before the invention of agriculture or the domestication of animals, the Japanese already lived on villages and cooked their meals on pots. Ten thousand years before the Christian Era, possibly even earlier, the inhabitants of the eastern islands had already developed the art of ceramics, which would arise on the “Cradle of Civilization”, western Asia, three thousand years later. Reason for the Japanese to yell “Banzai!“, which actually means “ten thousand years”.

Such ancient ceramics mark the so-called Jomon Jidai, a term from Japanese archeology: Jomon, meaning “rope pattern”, and Jidai meaning period or era.

The word Jidai would become famous worldwide on a variation created by filmmaker George Lucas. With his space knights with strict honor codes, Lucas was inspired by the “jidai geki”, Japanese period dramas with samurais. That’s where the Jedi knights come from.

Our interest here is something that likewise links Japanese prehistory with the modern space fantasy. Beside pots, the Jomon Jidai ceramic artifacts include some figures, called Dogu. With an intriguing appearance, highly stylized, some of them were recently understood as “six thousand years-old space suits”, proof of ancient contacts with extraterrestrials. Click on the figure to continue reading.

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