Extraordinary claims. Ordinary investigations.

Archive for November, 2008

Man wakes up 1,000 feet from the ground


“A mystery is puzzling the inhabitants of Córrego Bananalzinho, rural area of the city of Rio Bananal [Espírito Santo, Brazil]. Construction worker Odair José Berti, 35, doesn’t know how he ended up atop a rock around 1,000 feet high, where he stood for 17 hours. He was rescued by the firemen in a risky operation that lasted for 12 hours and ended yesterday’s night.

Even to the experienced firemen that were there, such as sergeants José Ailton and Caldeira, the event doesn’t have a logical explanation. According to them, access to the top of the rock is extremely difficult, even with the use of proper equipment. (…)

Odair himself was scared with the happening. He lives in the city of Colatina and decided to visit his brother, who lives in Córrego Bananalzinho, where he arrived Wednesday’s noon. As he was very tired, according to what he told relatives, he went to sleep early. The next day, when he woke up, he was startled when he realized he was atop a rock. Desperate, he started to scream and wave his shirt, until someone saw him.

After being rescued, the construction worker was using shorts, a shirt and sandals and, according to the firemen, didn’t have a scratch in his body. He was, however, debilitated as he was thirsty and hungry. (…)

The rescue operation involved a team of four firemen. They were called around 1:40PM. When they realized the seriousness of the situation, it was almost night, and they thought about using a helicopter. But as the aircraft doesn’t fly at night, they decided to climb the rock instead. With the help of locals, they spent more than an hour to get to the most appropriate point do climb. The operation lasted for around an hour. Climbing down, two firemen lost themselves and got out of the area with the help of locals. Sergeant José Ailton had several bruises in his feet due to the climbing.

Relatives of the construction worker claimed he doesn’t have mental problems. Odair is divorced and lives with his mother.”
From A Gazeta: Homem acorda em alto de pedra e não sabe como chegou lá

An interesting, albeit slightly contradictory, story. Did the rescue operation last for 2 or 12 hours? Perhaps it’s just badly written: the operation itself lasted two hours, but ten hours had already passed from the moment the firemen were called after near 2 PM.

If the firemen took around an hour to climb the rock with equipment, then we may conceive someone with sandals might have been able to climb up there, without injury, if he was lucky and fit. And, most importantly, in daylight, contrary to the rescue operation at night. That certainly is more plausible than what most people may be thinking now… something that begins with “ab” and ends with “duction”.

Other people may remember Fortean stories, the annals of which this case may be added, because it’s at the same time just slightly puzzling, but more importantly, kind of amusing.

UPDATE: The case has been solved (probably).

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UFO zaps red beam? The Sun attacks again

A RED beam of light shoots to the ground from what is believed to be a UFO. The Sun was yesterday handed dramatic footage of the mysterious craft hovering over Bristol.

Shellie Williams, 20, and her mum Betty, 53, filmed it on their mobile phones. When they zoomed in, they also caught red and white vertical beams not visible to the naked eye.”
From The Sun: “What’s Zap?

The beams are extremely quick near the end of the clip, screencaps below:


As Emps at DamnData already noted, “given how shaky the footage is and that it was filmed on a mobile phone (where the picture would be grainy and compressed) that beam is dead straight, perfectly perpendicular and consistently coloured across the width and down the length (it also appears to start just slightly below the speck of light)”. A telling sign that that’s not a real beam – aside from the fact it was also not seen by the alleged witnesses.


So what was it? Assuming it was not a crude hoax, which I think it was not, then it was very probably just a common artifact of cheap cameras, including those on cell phones.

blooming2 That was simply pixel blooming or bleeding. It occurs when sources of light exceed the full well capacity (the electron-holding capacity) of the pixels on which they are being recorded. As a light-gathering pixel exceeds its capacity to hold captured photons, the excess energy spills over into the adjacent pixel (or pixels, if the second pixel also fills to its capacity). This spillover, called “blooming,” produces a spike of light.

This artifact is so common with digital images, and yet, source of so much confusion and shameless exploitation. For instance, it has already been the culprit behind alleged “Sun Cruisers”, supposedly gigantic flying saucers near the Sun that for some strange reason always appear in profile:


Click on the image for clarifications on NASA’s website, and if you doubt people would be so… what could I call it? Let’s say “ignorant” so as to claim these things were real and anomalous, just remember that it was announced with fanfare a few years ago, and it’s still on some guy’s space anomalies website. A search for “Sun Cruiser” on Google is dismaying.

These common artifacts can also be seen on many images from the Martian Rovers, and sure enough, there are people claiming they are evidence of tampering or something.


That’s, by the way, is one authentic artificial object on Mars. Some people may be disappointed that it was made by us, somehow quite forgetting just how amazing it is that if there wasn’t anything artificial on Mars, now there is, because we, as evidence of our intelligence, ingenuity and pure curiosity, sent those things over there.

And who knows? Someday we may find evidence we are not alone. But certainly not through ignorance.

Oh, I was almost forgetting. If the “beams” in Bristol were just pixel bleeding, then what were the “UFOs”? I’m not sure, but they don’t seem to move nor do they look very high in the sky, which means they appear like common urban lights. Were they? I don’t know.

UPDATE: Eileen points out (thanks!) that over at Alien Casebook, the same camera (d)effect can be seen in an October 18 video from Brandenburg, Germany.

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The “Chupa-Chupa” strikes back?


“Other UFO sightings were seen recently by residents of the city of Belterra, 45 kilometers from Santarem [Para, Brazil], where two teenagers, 13 and 15 years old, claimed they were victims of the ‘chupa-chupa’ [suck-suck] in the end of last month. They said they were walking near the Maguari beach when they saw themselves among strong and colored lights and hit by something they never saw before.

The two girls were taken to the Belterra Hospital to receive medical assistance, as they had serious burns. Another two hunters were also victims of unidentified objects. They tell they saw colored lights, which left them very scared. One of them was so traumatized he didn’t want to go on hunting anymore.”
Source: OVNI é visto por santarenos, from “Diario do Para”, 10/29/2008

An online website also mentioned the event:

“Now, the facts are happening in the west region of Para, more precisely in the city of Belterra. Until the closing of this edition, the identities of two girls who, according to some information were attacked by a UFO known as ‘Chupa-Chupa’, were still not publicized. The event happened in the Maguari community, city of Belterra, where there’s a famous beach.

Reports coming from people who were in contact with the girls say that this last weekend, the two were walking in the Maguari beach when they saw something moving in the sky, like colored lights that flashed all the time. It was then that they felt their bodies paralyzed, followed by a very strong light that hit them. The girls lost consciousness for a few moments, but as they woke up they went running to their homes.

When they got home, they told what they saw and the strange sensation they felt when in contact with the ‘strange lights’. They were immediately taken to the municipal hospital in Belterra, where they received medical attention as they showed evidence of burns in their bodies, perhaps caused by the ‘Chupa-Chupa’ which, as people say, always attacks in the city in the Maguari beach, that became famous because of the aliens.”
Source: Jovens são vitimas do "chupa chupa", from Gterra, 10/29/2008

The “Chupa-Chupa” is perhaps one of the most interesting UFO cases coming from Brazil, though it’s unfortunately made up almost exclusively of anecdotal reports. There are (or were) loads and loads of them, on the other hand, and the statewide panic in 1977-78 was investigated by a group of officers from the Air Force, in the so-called “Operation Saucer”. We made a few "new revelations” about it last year.

Alas, it’s been a week and I don’t know much more about the event. If the girls were indeed burned, then this would be a significant report. I still don’t know their names. I also don’t know if the event happened in the end of September or October, as the news item is not very clear. I guess it was September.

There’s almost no solid evidence of the original Chupa-Chupa panic – none of the known alleged photos of the phenomenon are much useful, and some of them, according to Fernando Costa, were hoaxed by him as he developed them for his father, Flavio Costa, author of almost all reports. Reports which, by the way, clearly admit they weren’t able to gather convincing proof of what they nevertheless believed: that the Chupa-Chupa was “intelligently driven”.

So a confirmed contemporary case of burn victims of the Chupa-Chupa would be something relevant. I am not that incredulous about such sort of claims: the Chupa-Chupa panic in Brazil is very similar to the Muchnowa panic in India, and mass panics do generate victims, even if the cause is not necessarily what is claimed.

The year has been somewhat agitated regarding UFOs in Brazil as the media is heavily exploiting the subject – we covered the start of it all with the Sugarcane “signs” in January and the ensuing brouhaha, which subdued and eventually went into Banana circles. It’s been recently been resurrected from the dead as new smashed grass has been found last month in eastern Sao Paulo, in the city of Peruibe.

Reports of aliens coming form Northern Brazil are also characteristically more violent, as Bob Pratt emphasized. One just has to read about the case of the aliens who threw boiling oil.

Any news on this as they come.

UPDATE: The case has been solved: “Chupa-Chupa” attack solved: it sucks.

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Boldly going…


Astronaut Karen Nyberg gazes the outer space whilst her hair flies inside the new Kibo laboratory in the International Space Station (click for high resolution glory direct from NASA).

The nice shampoo ad hair, the window to the vacuum, the slight curvature of the blue planet as background and a solar panel in the foreground… how cool is that?

A few more space images, including a spectacularly alien one, after the jump.

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