Extraordinary claims. Ordinary investigations.

Archive for October, 2009

YeaGS! Yet another Giant Snake

snakefushun 

Workers at Fushun, Liaoning, China, allegedly found a 17 meter snake while working with a shovel car this past August 4, 2009. They noticed blood in the sand, apparently the shovel had hit the creature, which died shortly afterwards. Some accounts tell it weighed 300kg, others a measly 103 kg, which is probably closer to reality.

As in so many photos of this kind, there is some forced perspective. Note how the leaves are close and also look unearthly big. We must have a reference, and the shovel seems to be half of the length of the bent snake, that is, the shovel is around a fourth of the creature’s original length.

Assuming a 1,5m length for the shovel, the snake would be around 6 meters in size, around a third of the claimed one.

Of course, it’s possible that that shovel was almost 5 meters in length. Those are small, but Chinese shovel cars, they must have superpowers. In any event, this is a curious photo, and a 20 feet snake is already something impressive.

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Man as a Machine

Or better yet: the human body as a whole factory, complete with control and production systems operated by tiny little… men! You certainly must have seen some graphical illustration with the metaphor of heavy machinery to explain how our body works, and the animation above, by German artist Henning Lederer must be the first detailed video, with a special touch.

At the “intertwining of science, culture, art and technology”, as Lederer writes, he paid homage animating the original poster by Fritz Kahn, “Man as Industrial Palace”, published in 1927. Almost a century ago, Kahn is the inspiration, if not the direct source, for all the graphics of giant men as huge factories we came to know. You can see his original illustration in high resolution clicking below.

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Kahn, a physician in Berlin, was a writer and illustrator who spread science and, in particular, medical and biological findings through wonderfully illustrated books. Going beyond the reduction of biological systems to what may look now as outdated machines, Kahn also did the opposite. At an age of extreme confidence in technological progress, he showed how many organic structures incorporated the most sophisticated engineering solutions.

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It’s inevitable to consider his wonderful art in context. “Man as Industrial Palace” depicts a human being as a giant chemical factory, at a time when Germany was leader in the field. It was also the between-wars era, and besides being a doctor, Fritz Kahn was Jewish. His books were banned and burned by the Nazis, and the author escaped to the USA with the help of none other than Albert Einstein.

That his art portrayed humans as assembly-lines when shortly thereafter Nazis would put in effect their assembly-line genocide may at first cause some repulse to these illustrations, but we must remember: Kahn was a doctor. And Jewish.

Portraying our bodies as machines is a beautiful and adorable metaphor, valuable exactly for its over-simplification, and these works are quite simply beautiful. There’s nothing leading those visions directly to fascism, one must not forget national-socialistic ideology was just as reliant and at the same time suspicious of both “reductionist” and “holistic” visions, whatever fit them best.

Banning those marvelous works, that is indeed Hitler’s job. [via Nerdcore]

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Keanu Reeves is immortal

Whoa. Also, do watch The Man from Earth.

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Phobos 2: a Bloody Soviet ‘Close Encounter’

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March 25, 1989 – Purportedly the above-top-secret infrared photo taken from the Soviet Phobos II probe, showing an object approaching the Martian moonlet. Estimates say the UFO was approximately 15.5 miles long.” [UFO mag, vol 7, n 1, 1992]

Long before our War with the Moon, the Soviets had already packed “a very powerful laser” to be fired at the Martian moonlet Phobos. “All went well”, UFO mag’s Don Ecker wrote, until March 25, 1989. “Something” turned the Soviet probe into a spinner and the unmanned craft then disappeared.

“According to Zechariah Sitchin in his book Genesis Revisited, the rumor going around was that the Soviet space craft had encountered a huge ‘UFO’ while in Mars orbit. In his book, Sitchin included a photo that the Russians released, which showed a large ellipse shadow reflected off Mars. Sitchin claims that the few photos Phobos sent back prior disappearing were never released by the Russians, and that they treated the entire matter as ‘above top secret’.”

Tasty mystery, isn’t it? And the solution involves some bleeding!

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Superman: a Unified Theory for his Superpowers

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“Since Time immemorial, man has sought to explain the powers of Kal-El, a.k.a. Superman. Siegel et al. supposed that His mighty strength stems from His origin on another planet whose density and as a result, gravity, was much higher than our own. Natural selection on the planet of Krypton would therefore endow Kal El with more efficient muscles and higher bone density; explaining, to first order, Superman’s extraordinary powers. Though concise, this theory has proved inaccurate. It is now clear that Superman is actually flying rather than just jumping really high; and His freeze-breath, x-ray vision, and heat vision also have no account in Seigel’s theory.
In this paper we propose a new unified theory for the source of Superman’s powers; that is to say, all of Superman’s extraordinary powers are manifestation of one supernatural ability, rather than a host. It is our opinion that all of Superman’s recognized powers can be unified if His power is the ability to manipulate, from atomic to kilometer length scales, the inertia of His own and any matter with which He is in contact.”
[Ben Tippett: A Unified theory of Superman’s Powers (PDF)]

Inertia. That would be the key to all of Superman’s powers, according to the Grand Unified Theory proposed by Ben Tippet in the style and prose of a scientific paper. The work has generated quite a buzz and we are actually a week late on this, but bear with us for some comments on what looks like one of the most promising theories for understanding this ancient enigma.

Consider, for instance, that if Superman was simply very, very strong guy, capable of lifting dozens of tons with only one arm, this would still not be a satisfactory explanation for the observed behavior in many comics, TV series and movies. A figure of Tippett’s work illustrates the problem:

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