Extraordinary claims. Ordinary investigations.

Archive for February, 2010

Hallelujah Mountains? Praise Science!


“A friend of mine was amazed after watching Avatar. He couldn’t stop talking about the floating mountains. Then I said to him: ‘Man, your planet has huge mountains of water. Water! They float above your head every day and when they turn into rain, they contribute to the cycle of the most important liquid to your existence’. Most people go around without realizing the complexity, wonder and graciousness that a cloud is.” – Ibrahim César, 1001 Gatos de Schrödinger

Indeed, as Cecil Adams writes, “a good sized cumulonimbus cloud, or thunderhead, [has] a mass of roughly four billion kilograms per cloud, or the equivalent of not one but 10,000 747s.”

Just wanted to share that with you all. “Science is the poetry of reality”.

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UFOs: Before they were Alien, they were Nazi


Just look at the image above: from a strictly fictional point of view, could there be something cooler than Nazi flying saucers fighting at the Second World War? Nazis, they are evil, and now they have flying saucers!

Besides a nice upcoming CGI comedy movie, this is something that could be seen as a background story for a (good) Indiana Jones movie, and in fact, LucasFilm Games sold “Secret Weapons of the Luftwaffe” at the beginning of the 1990s – it didn’t include Nazi flying saucers, but it had a Horten flying wing (which was recently recreated, by the way).


My own interest for ufology started when I was young(er) and first read these wild tales of incredible Nazi flying disks. There are even scale models for sale. I actually believed the stories.

Because, you see, stories and rumours about flying saucers from the evil Nazis are promoted as real fact by not so few. You can read all about how Hitler ran away to the South Pole and the Nazis visited Mars on Kevin McClure’s comprehensive research on the subject published on Magonia, or his short summary and update published on 2003 at ForteanTimes.


Now fellow Maurizio Verga has published an amazing article which adds a lot of information to the subject, especially at its origins. The article is in Italian – here’s an automated English translation – but it’s well worth the effort to understand it even if you don’t quite get the language (like me).

One of the most interesting finds by Verga in my opinion is the image at the top of this post. The comment that it would be something very cool from a fictional point of view had a reason: pay attention to the signature.

The illustration comes from Amazing Stories, published in July 1943. That’s four years before the start of the modern obsession with flying saucers, and therefore way before anyone associated them with Nazis, much less Aliens.

As Verga remarks, in the 1950s that exact scene – a flying saucer fighting a squadron of Superfortress Flying Fortresses (thanks Craig!)– would be depicted as a supposedly real event over Schweinfurt in 1944.

[Above, art by Daniele Sabatini, 1998. Compare it with the 1943 Amazing Stories illustration]

It’s not news to the psychosocial theorist that all and every allegedly real element from ufology can be found years before in science fiction. Some examples, however, can be quite impressive, and the Amazing Stories illustration foretelling later Nazi UFOs tales is clearly one of them.

Nazi UFOs are not just a curious sub-area of ufology. At the early years of the field, the idea that flying saucers were very terrestrial secret weapons was one of the most popular explanation for them. Before they were Alien, they were Nazi.

Aliens didn’t even made it to the opinion poll, as the extraterrestrial hypothesis would only be widely popularized in 1950 by Donald Keyhoe.

Now, another interesting bit, Verga also remarks how even Keyhoe mentioned the story he heard that flying saucers were real… British aircraft, captured from the Nazis after the war. They were later transferred to Australia and also Canada, the story went.

Nazi UFOs: an idea so cool that it quickly jumped from Amazing Stories to… amazing stories as told by not quite amazing, and not at all original, mystery sellers.

Be sure to check Verga’s work: WikiUFO, UFO nazisti: leggende dischi volanti tedeschi Nazi UFOs saucers.

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HAARP, Crop Circles and Giant Weather Rings?


“This Dramatic Spiral Burst known to ‘insiders’ as The Ring of Fire Fault was observed on national radar over Melbourne Australia today – but then what?  Is this the HAARP smoking gun?” – Colin Andrews

Andrews, more known for his involvement with crop circles, tries very hard to work up some curious geometric patterns seen through weather stations in Australia over the last few days. They are indeed quite interesting, which gives him room to speculate about “strange weather effects, possible weather modification experiments or the secret agenda behind the global HAARP project”.

Amazingly, however, Andrews has already received and actually reproduced the quite prosaic explanations for these patterns… but he simply don’t seem to get it.


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Zooming into a fractal bigger than the Universe

Quite literally: After a trip of 10 minutes inside this Mandelbrot fractal (be sure to check the HD version on Vimeo), the original image you saw would be “billions and billions” of times larger than the whole Universe. As the author, hd-fractals, explains:

“The final magnification is e.214. Want some perspective? A magnification of e.12 would increase the size of a particle to the same as the earths orbit! e.21 would make a particle look the same size as the milky way and e.42 would be equal to the universe. This zoom smashes all of them all away. If you were "actually" travelling into the fractal your speed would be faster than the speed of light.”

You can compare it to some actual zooms into hair, concrete, metal et al.

I found this gem via the always great Nerdcore, which also pointed to a previous zoom into the Mandelbrot set which “only” went to e.89, in 2008, with a maximum of 2,100,000,000 iterations.

Remember that these infinite and exquisite details emerge from the repeated iteration of the simple expression zn+1 = zn2 + c. It’s the Mandelbrot set.

And there’s more! After the jump.

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A simple yet effective levitation


Behold! Such a simple and cool illusion, you can impress your friends by printing it and presenting first the man, hiding the dark patch “below” him. Try it yourself. He seems grounded.

Then say he will levitate, and present the whole picture. We can’t help but have the impression he’s levitating. Click for the whole picture.

This reminded of another similar illusion:

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