Extraordinary claims. Ordinary investigations.

Archive for March, 2010

UFO filmed from a plane over Belgium, 1954

A rare record of an unidentified object hovering over a town in Belgium in 1954 was recently released in compliance with the disclosure legislation.

The video was uploaded by “barzolff814”, who must be better known as David Nicolas, or perhaps best known as the French CGI wizard who in 2007 created the infamous “Caribbean UFOs”.

That is, this Belgium footage is obviously another of his impressive digital creations. Coming soon to another Youtube account near you, without attribution to the source, promoted as the real thing. [via Scepticisme Scientifique]

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The Metepec Creature: author confess hoax

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A “Veterinary Assistant” featured in the whole Metepec Creature brouhaha, “Ángel Palacios Núñez”, is, according to Alejandro Franz, in fact Urso Moreno Ruíz, nephew of Mario Moreno, and a taxidermist.

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More importantly, Urso Ruíz apparently confessed in an Internet forum he indeed hoaxed the creature, which is indeed just a squirrel-monkey:

It’s just the corpse of a skinned squirrel-monkey. I took its ears out and involved it with all the hair and fluids of all animals I could find, then I dried it. All samples they take of it will come out as being of different animals.”

Of course, we already knew it was a skinned squirrel-monkey:

He goes on:

“Mr Mario quickly sold it to Maussán for 300.000 pesos [U$23,000], as you can see after four years they still can’t realize it’s a hoax.”

And tries to defend himself:

“I must say I didn’t claim it was real. That was Maussán who claimed it was real. He believed it. All the show was a hoax that got out of control, but after four years I’m happy to see one of my creations going around the world and through many scientists and tests and they still haven’t figured out what it is. I may have fooled science! LOL”

Nauseating, isn’t it?

Franz warns that, contrary to what Urso Ruíz claims, he did claim in video that the creature was “a strange animal”. Lies. Franz further accuses Maussán, Mario Moreno and Marco Salazar of creating this whole fraud from the beginning. It’s indeed interesting they should go with DNA testing right away, which is not their usual practice with such “finds” at all. It’s as if they knew the results would be inconclusive.

Of course, from the beginning people noticed it looked exactly like a skinned monkey. People also know very well Maussán is part of Ufology’s Hall of Shame.

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So people had every reason not to believe the story. Reason, apparently, is something the History Channel’s MonsterQuest team lacks.

But then, reason is something that may be relative. Money and ratings can make everything relative, one would guess. How much money did all those involved, knowingly or not, make from this hoax?

This really makes me sick. It should make you too. And the skinned, dried monkey is not the culprit. [via Alcione]

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El fin del mundo

Ronald Reagan speaking in Spanish is just the beginning of this piece of perfection, by Alberto González Vázquez. [via Nerdcore]

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Beautiful collision of Vortex Rings: from Clairvoyance to Superstrings

Head-on Collision of Colored Vortex Rings”. A humble title for an utterly amazing video, via the Fluid Mechanics Group at the National University of Singapore. And there’s more in the title card!

“Note the formation of small rings from the cross-linking of the wavy vortex filaments of the larger rings”.

Indeed. The video brings to memory that long before strings became fashionable  in modern physics, an early model of atoms proposed by William Thomson, better known as Lord Kelvin, suggested they were vortex rings in the ether.

As Michael Fowler wonders, Kelvin was probably inspired in his revolutionary idea by a demonstration akin to this:

That’s a simulation by Paul Nylander, but vortex rings can do that trick, being remarkably stable. Nylander Paul Nathan also offers this visualization that helps to see what’s actually happening (click on the image for the video):

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Unfortunately, vortexes are not that stable in many forms other than rings, and thus can’t really account for a good model of atoms. More than a good analogy (“atoms are strings!”, “atoms are smoke rings!”, “atoms are little solar systems!”), what we really need in science, and particularly in physics, are good mathematical tools, and fluid dynamics didn’t offer much advance in predicting the behavior of particles.

Kelvin’s inspired idea did lead to much advance in fluid dynamics physics and even mathematics, particularly the knot theory from topology.

Interestingly, occultists at the end of 19th century also liked Kelvin’s idea. Oh, pseudoscience, always trailing after real science all the while claiming it’s beyond this allegedly obsolete establishment. Too bad there’s evidence those occultists also liked to copy data from real science for their alleged mystical visions.

J. Michael McBride has the whole story of the “Direct Observation of Atoms through Clairvoyance”.

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But let’s not be too harsh, at least with good Lord Kelvin, the one who doubted the airplane was possible. The idea of vortex atoms was indeed revolutionary, it does find a distant correlation with modern string theories, and it may not have been such a bad idea after all.

Such is science, and it’s possible string theories may come even closer to Kelvin’s original proposal.

Sure thing is, vortex rings are utterly cool.

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The Biggest Crop Circle Ever: the reality show

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Almost 60 acres. 530 x 450 meters in size. Created in an evening of August, 2009, at the province of Zeeland, Netherlands, it’s the biggest “crop circle” ever created. And with a twist.

Everything was recorded in video, as this was definitely a very human creation. To be more exact, a creation of 60 humans captured in its process from concept to realization by the cameras of the reality TV show “Try Before You Die”. Click on the image below to see the short clip where cute presenter Geraldine Kemper becomes one of the team leaders stomping crop around in the middle of the night:

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The culprits are the members of XL D-Sign team, which has been creating fantastic formations for more than ten years – many of which are promoted as “mysterious” to this day. This latest one, the biggest one to date, was properly named project Atlas, and aimed not only to break the size record but also depict “a message of both the beauty and vulnerability of man”.

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The gigantic formation can be interpreted in several ways, from the metamorphosis of a butterfly, to the Vitruvian Man, to Mothman and perhaps even chakras. All part of a human symbology, with a human message, created by humans to humans, surpassing in size every crop circle ever created.

Of course, even this will probably not convince those willing to believe in this mystery of crop circles. Nothing ever will, as it’s impossible to prove that all and every crop circle is man-made, and believers will often not accept the reasoning by which one crop circle must be proved not man-made, and not the other way around.

Even those that do understand that the burden of proof lies in proving that there is something other than human circlemakers (and fungus, and lodging, and other prosaic explanations) here will cling to one or another crop circle. Until it’s proven man-made… and they jump to the next crop circle that just “cannot” be man-made. Until it’s also proven man-made. That is, in effect it’s the same fallacy of assuming a crop circle to be supernatural unless proven otherwise.

One particular example that’s worth mentioning is the Julia Set formation, allegedly created in less than 45 minutes according to the report of a doctor who flew over the area, and only noticed it in his return trip, 45 minutes later.

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Creating 149 circles, several hundred feet in size, is a feat that even seasoned circlemakers would probably have a very hard time doing. I would not say it would be impossible, but as far as I know, no one did it. Yet.

But can we really be sure the huge Julia set formation was made in less 45 minutes? As it turns out, probably not.

“When that doctor flew over, he just didn’t see it the first time. That happens a lot. His report was wrong. He just didn’t see it”, says circlemaker Rod Dickinson. He asserts that he knows the (human) creators of the formation, that “was made the previous night, by three people, in about two and three-quarters hours, starting around 2:45 am (on Sunday morning, July 7). It was there all that day”.

American ufologist Michael Lindemann replies with disbelief: “You mean, it sat there next to that highway all day, and no one saw it? Are you kidding?”

"If you went there, you’d see how the field slopes down and away from the road. The formation was in a kind of bowl, below the level of the road. Going by in a car, you couldn’t see it. You would have to get out and walk toward it and look down into that bowl-shaped area to see it", answers Dickinson.

"But there is a lot of air traffic in that area. Planes must have flown over it many times that day."

"Sure, but lots of them just didn’t see it, and the rest didn’t think to report it, until that doctor reported it in the evening. I know this can happen, because I’ve made quite a few big formations and then waited for a day, even several days, before they’re discovered."

That must be a familiar phenomenon. Those are the Invisible Gorillas.

According to Dickinson, by the way, the same team that created the Julia set formation would also be responsible for the more famous Triple Julia formation.

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Those skeptical about Dickinson claims – after all, he doesn’t prove his assertions of knowing who did it, nor is he willing to disclose their names – may simply look carefully at both Julia Set formations. Though the bigger circles followed a more carefully traced work line – which is still visible joining their centers – the smaller, secondary ones were probably stomped “free-hand” and show some gross inconsistencies in their positioning.

But nothing of this will convince those willing to believe in this mystery of crop circles. Nothing ever will. Asked if what he does isn’t just plain fraud, Dickinson offered a thoughtful answer:

"No, it’s not fraud at all. We aren’t the ones who say, ‘Look, these formations must be made by UFOs,’ or whatever. We just make them, as pure art. Then other people, researchers and ‘experts,’ make up all kinds of stories and explanations. It’s interesting to watch this happen, but we aren’t doing it. None of the circle makers ever try to convince anyone that these formations are made by some unusual force. And when we actually tell people that we are making these formations, most people don’t believe us anyway."

The biggest crop circle ever created was recorded by a reality TV show, and will soon be featured by a documentary produced by its creators. Most people will not believe that that has anything to do with the “mystery” of crop circles. [via Francesco Grassi’s Blog]

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