Extraordinary claims. Ordinary investigations.

Archive for December, 2008

Flying saucer captured by STS 115 Atlantis?

“The object seen by the STS 115 ATLANTIS SHUTTLE CREW may have been this DISK OBJECT videotaped in space near the ATLANTIS SHUTTLE. It is moving away and it looks like it’s within the 100 feet range or a little further. This footage has not been confirmed nor denied by NASA nor any other GOVERNMENT ENTITY. Footage was sent to an anonymous poster who stated on the original posting that this is ‘LEAKED NASA FOOTAGE’ sent to a TV STATION NEWS satellite receiving dish.” [Ufocasebook]

First thing you will notice in any ordinary investigation is that the poster of the video is “luckymauro”, already known to us. Second thing is, he now admits that the audio is not connected with the video. During STS115 astronauts noticed two objects in space and there was concern as to if they could be important parts of the shuttle that could have come off. You can check an image of one and a video of the other. They were ultimately not identified, but are certainly not what we are seeing above, which is allegedly footage of disk-shaped satellite used to illustrate what the STS115 crew may have seen.

Why add a non-related video to illustrate something when we have the actual images of what the STS115 crew saw? And since we are asking… A disk-shaped satellite from the 1980s?

As fellow Marcelo Domingues noted the footage above looks pretty much like the Telstar 3C deployed by the Discovery shuttle in the 1980s. A quick search through Youtube, and we find this video:

As is clear, it’s not a disk-shaped satellite. It’s not the exact same footage, but it shows what we are seeing. Just a communications satellite spinning, a cylinder filmed from below.

Further ordinary searches and we find that on STS51G, the Discovery shuttle deployed three satellites in 1985, two of them very similar, the Morelos-1 and the Telstar 3D. Both of them look almost exactly the same, with gyroscopic stabilization. There were other satellites based on the same design by Hughes aircraft and deployed by the space shuttles, any one of them when filmed from below show their motors which look like the “dome” of a flying saucer.

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My brain… It’s full of stars

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My God… It’s full of stars”, said astronaut Bowman while he was being absorbed by the black Monolith in “2001”. A succession of psychedelic imagery (created with slit-scan photography) then followed, representing the contact with the Divine, or whatever it was, as Kubrick never made clear what for Sirius sake that ending actually meant. But it was something big, mystical, even religious.

Spiral images and tunnels of light often emerge in experiences with hallucinogenic drugs, and perhaps not by mere coincidence, in religious iconography referring to “visions”, such as eastern mandalas, Islamic art or even Christian cathedrals. Not only that, it also shows up in near-death experiences, synaesthesic hallucinations, migraines, epilepsy, psychotic disturbances, sleep disturbances, advanced syphilis and even in ancient rock art thousands of years old.

This universality of the theme seems to suggest something literally Higher, perhaps a contact with higher planes, even though migraines, advanced syphilis or psychosis are kind of out of place in this interpretation. Neuroscience offers an alternative explanation that seems to fit them all.

In the 1920s, German neurologist Heinrich Klüver dedicated himself to study the effects of mescaline (peyote) and noticed that some geometrical patterns were repeatedly and consistently reported by different subjects (including himself). The patterns were then classified by him into what he called “form constants”, of four types: (I) tunnels, (II) spirals, (III) lattices and (IV) cobwebs.

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All very interesting, but this is just description. Recent studies however, combining discoveries on the workings of the visual cortex with models of the workings of neurons suggest that such patterns could be the result of something akin to a short-circuit in the brain. Simple disturbances in the visual cortex, when mapped to what patterns would be perceived by the subject show a striking similarity with psychedelic imagery.

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On the left, the representation of the visions of someone quite high. On the right, the simulation of the perception generated from a simple disturbance in the visual cortex. Simple as that. No god, no spiritual plane, just an artifact of how our visual cortex process images and how it then reacts to anomalies in its workings. “It’s full of stars”, but they may all be inside your brain.

Well, perhaps things are not so simple, I must note. Those damn scientists, they keep insisting on having solid evidence and naming speculation and hypothesis as just speculation and hypothesis. So this oversimplified description of their work must not be taken as gospel, and I have to say that in their papers they make clear that this is just a work-in-progress, and that even the comparison above involves some fiddling with the model.

And as believers would say – as they said in response to a first Portuguese version of this text – who are to say the “disturbances” that create the imagery are not somehow “holy” in themselves?

To which I answered that this is missing the whole point here, that such seemingly complex and universal images are product of our brains, even if there could be countless root causes for the simple planar disturbances that may cause them. Including some kind of brain fiddling god. Fact is, our brain would do most of the work.

Amazingly, even to this day, many people still have doubts about that. Funny ape brains.

For a more rigorous and accurate description of these findings check:

Physics Makes a Toy of the Brain (Science after Sunclipse);
– "What Geometric Visual Hallucinations Tell Us about the Visual Cortex" (PDF) Neural Computation 14 (2002):473–491.

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Enlarge your penis data bandwidth

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1. The human cell contains 75 MB of genetic information
2. A sperm 37.5 MB.
3. In a milliliter, we have 100 million sperms.
4. On average, one ejaculation releases 2.25 ml in 5 seconds.
Using basic math we can compute the bandwidth of the human male penis as:
(37.5MB x 100M x 2.25)/5 = (37,500,000 bytes/sperm x 100,000,000 sperm/ml x 2.25 ml) / 5 seconds = 1,687,500,000,000,000 bytes/sec = 1,687.5 TeraBytes/sec

That’s in the order of Petabytes. After laughing about it, you may wonder if the calculation is correct. Well, keep reading for our ordinary investigations in this profound question that will surely cheer up any casual conversation.

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Metallica: Tunguska, Zombies and Chemtrails

The Tunguska explosion is the start for an alternate history where the event brings in a mysterious alien organism that produces spores, which in turn are capable of producing zombies. The Soviets afterwards use the discovery for their “revolution”, launching the spores over the USA, only to watch the ensuing zombie chaos. Their offer of help comes when the country is no more, and giant soviet robots rule over in the cleanup with the USA as part of USSR. But playing with zombies may have side effects.

It’s the new amazing video for “All Nightmare Long” by Metallica, and it’s not only completely awesome for all zombie-giant-robot-loving geeks, it’s full of references to all of us that are also Fortean-lover nerds.

Of course, it all begins with Tunguska, and the video clearly suggests it was an alien event. That is obvious. But what about the zombies? The pseudo-documentary reel shows the soviet “Volcano Tunguska and the Revival of Organisms”, which if you are a true Fortean you will associate with “Experiments in the Revival of Organisms”, documenting disembodied dog heads kept alive artificially by Soviet Dr. Sergei Bryukhonenko.

Watch the full original Soviet documentary and discover a couple more Fortean references after the jump.

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Crucified Alien MRI Pareidolia

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The Apparition of Virgin Mary in the inverted MRI scan of Pamela Latrimore’s brain is making the rounds, which was the opportunity for us to show here the exclusive, never-before-seen and almost as moving related religious imagery of the crucified alien above. That comes from a hip MRI scan of another woman. The amount of detail is quite interesting, you can even feel the pain of the alien (or would it be The Passion of the Grey?).

Well, enough of the unfunny jokes. Doctor Marco Lazzeri kindly clarified to us that:

crucifiedalienscanfullthumb432 “It’s a hip MRI, performed in the coronal plane (front to back). This is one of the last sections, far to the back. The black circle, [which also looks like a monster face] up there is the large intestine, sectioned. The head of the alien/anti-Christ is a piece of the uterus, and the eyes are the normal uterine veins. The body is composed of parts of the uterus and the vagina. The arms are the large uterus ligaments. Coming out of its feet, that black line, is gas inside the vagina. Those white “little fingers” a bit further down are the vulva labia. Everything white is fat, in vaginal labia, thighs and inside the pelvis.”

Which means, obviously, that that’s just pareidolia, our pattern-hungry brains recognizing not so arbitrary things in very arbitrary images. Things that are not really there. And Brazil has also been the stage for another interesting example of pareidolia from diagnostic methods.

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Seeing the comparison above, you can somehow see that there’s something like a vague impression of the man on the right in the x-ray on the left. Mostly the ears and eyes. Well, some people think that’s a miracle, or at least, proof of one.

In the cities of Pará de Minas and Leandro Ferreira, Minas Gerais, there are many stories from people who believe they were cured thanks to “father Libério”, a local catholic priest deceased in 1980 who, though not officially, is worshiped by the locals as a saint.

Last year, young student Walace de Souza was hit in a road, breaking his pelvis and suffering from internal hemorrhage. Doctors “gave him three days left to live”, tells his father.

But two months later Walace was not only still alive, he was able to stand up. The recovery was “miraculous”, which only made their surprise greater when they saw the x-ray of Walace’s pelvis. Yes, the man who appears in his pelvis is father Libério, the non-official saint.

The local church is investigating if that would be considered a miracle to be included in the process to canonize Libério, but Fantástico TV show quoted doctor Paulo Bahia classifying it as an “optical illusion”.

“The eyes are formed by the sacrum, that is the bone that makes up part of the pelvis, the ears are formed by the ilia, also a bone structure of the pelvis, the mouth is gas from the intestines, as well as the face is partially formed by the bladder that is full in this case”, he explained.

If that wasn’t embarrassing enough, guess what Walace de Souza was doing when he was hit in the road? He was taking part in a religious procession. I can certainly understand that he and his family were glad with the recovery and were prone to see divine intervention rather than a bad diagnostic, but this is surely a case where faith didn’t help very much in the first place.

Pareidolia can be quite surprising indeed, though in these cases it is just slightly amusing. Virgin Mary in a brain scan is more easy to discuss in a dinner table than these ones from the lower parts which end up inevitably involving intestines and bladders, gases and urine.

Sure, they are, for the exact same reasons, funnier. Haha, this post has the v-word. Three times.

[Many thanks to Marco Lazzeri]

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