Tuesday, July 31, 2007

"I'm looking forward to Armageddon and looking forward to the cleansing of the Earth."

Miami Will Drown

In the July 28-August 30, 2007 issue of New Scientist magazine, NASA physicist James Hansen says that, due to global warming, the oceans will rise so high in the next 100 years that Miami, Florida will be one of the major cities that drowns: it will be underwater. The article contains a "before" photograph and a computer-generated "after" image of the state which reveal that by 2107, Florida will be a small "stub," compared to its land mass today.

Imagine longing for the balmy, halcyon days of Katrina.
UFO mystery solved

No, not the entire UFO mystery (contrary to Shostak and Shermer, who refuse to acknowledge a mystery in the first place), but this previously blogged sighting.

The floating, circling UFOs seen last Saturday night were, it would appear, little more than Chinese lanterns released as part of a wedding celebration at the Bushey Police Club.

Robert Rosamond from the British UFO Research Organisation (BUFORA) confirmed residents weren't "seeing things" and that his organisation had received a great many similar reports in recent months.

He said: "Chinese lanterns or variations upon a similar theme are being sighted up and down the country at present."

(Thanks: The Anomalist.)
This is great: an energy-saving alternative to Google called "Blackle." Bookmark now!

However, Kiviat did tell ufowatchdog.com that he would release the true identity of Mister M to the public and that Mister M will come forward. Kiviat stated his production company is working exclusively with Mister M and that an announcement could be made as early as this week regarding the identity of Mister M and other information about the Alien Autopsy Film.

The convoluted saga of the "alien autopsy" continues!
DigitalSpace Releases Design Simulation for a Human Mission to a Near Earth Object (NEO)

DigitalSpace, a privately held company based in Santa Cruz, California, today released their design simulation of a notional crewed mission to an as-yet unidentified asteroid (also refered to as a Near Earth Object, or NEO) which might pass near the Earth sometime in the future. This visualization is DigitalSpace's design concept for the mission, produced by DigitalSpace as an independent effort for the benefit of an internal NASA feasibility study completed in 2007. The NASA study was performed to show that such a mission is possible with NASA's new Constellation architecture which was designed to return humans to the moon.

(Via Universe Today.)

Monday, July 30, 2007

ESA's DARWIN Proposal Online

The European Space Agency's DARWIN mission proposal is now available online, well worth a look if you're hoping to keep up with planet-hunter spacecraft technologies. With a launch date dependent upon the evolution of its technology, DARWIN probably won't get off for another decade, but with a primary goal of detecting and studying terrestrial planets around other stars, it is sure to be a high-visibility mission as it continues development.
Mars Library of books, DVDs, and database is now ready for launch

A silica-glass DVD put together by folks at the Planetary Society is now ready to be shipped off to Mars, aboard NASA's Phoenix Scout. The mission may lift off as early as this Friday, August 3, and landing should happen in 2008.
In 1975, "Arabesque" was considered a state-of-the-art display of computer artistry. Over thirty years later, it still beats a lot of the over-pondered drek that passes commercial muster.

(Hat tip: Beyond the Beyond.)
Seven riddles suggest a secret city beneath Tokyo

"Subway officials treat me as if I'm a drunk or a madman," Shun notes with a wry smile. "Tokyo is said to have 12 subways and 250 km of tunneling. I'd say that last figure is closer to 2,000 km. It's clear to me that the tunnels for the Namboku, Hanzomon and O-Edo lines existed before decisions were made to turn them into public subways."

What most concerns Shun is not the existence of this network, but why it is a carefully preserved secret. He can understand why maybe before World War II the government thought it prudent that the public remain in ignorance. "Not wanting the enemy to know, it was decided to tell no one and let the population survive as best it could."

(Via The Anomalist.)

Physicist and ufologist Stan Friedman argues that it's overwhelmingly likely that some UFOs are extraterrestrial spacecraft. I'd argue with equal tenacity that it's just as likely we're dealing with beings living virtually next-door, perhaps utilizing an infrastructure deeply entangled with our own.

The dependably ludicrous Kal Korff is claiming that I've gravely insulted the Arab community. Or something like that. (I'd joked about an unattributed "byline" photo of a man in Middle Eastern garb. Korff wasted no time replacing it with an animated GIF of a spooky, hooded figure. Maybe it's still posted; I haven't bothered checking.) The gist of Korff's tirade is that I'm culturally insensitive. (I'm not exactly sure how that works -- but then again, I'm still scratching my head at claims of 500 book mega-deals and nonexistent intelligence "meta-organizations." Maybe it's just me.)

In any event, I'm through with Korff's malignant make-believe. This blog deserves better. I have a life to live, a book to finish and espresso to drink. That said, I enthusiastically recommend giving the K-Man's site a look once in a while. Like a particularly gory car accident, you can't help but gaze at it with a paradoxical mixture of revulsion and wonder. Korff's rants about transparently bogus lawsuits are eclipsed only by the photos cited as "teasers" from his ever-mythical reality-television drama.

I'm sure Liona would agree.
FDA Says No New Labeling For Nanotech Products

The recommendations come as the agency looks at the oversight of products that employ the design and use of particles as small as one-billionth of a meter. There are fears by consumer groups and others that these tiny particles are unpredictable, could be toxic and therefore have unforeseen health impacts.

A task force within the FDA concluded that although nano-sized materials may have completely different properties than their bigger counterparts, there is no evidence that they pose any major safety risks at this time.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

I'm a guest on The Paracast this week along with Nick Redfern and Jeff Ritzmann. Tune in!

(Photo by Paul Kimball.)
Watch it go!

Could this inspire a next-generation Mars rover?

(More here.)
Four rare mountain gorillas shot to death

The bodies were discovered in the southern sector of the Virunga National Park by rangers from the Institute for the Conservation of Nature (ICCN), the DRC's wildlife and protected areas authority. All four mountain gorillas were shot, but it is unclear who killed them and why.

Just over 700 mountain gorillas survive in the wild today, and none exist in captivity. For such a small population the unnecessary and indiscriminate killing of four mountain gorillas is a huge loss.
Aluminum sea-urchin espresso maker

The Etienne Louis espresso machine is a giant polished aluminium sea urchin whose top half swings away to reveal its removable water reservoir and other vital organs.

I'm hoping Liona buys me this . . .

Saturday, July 28, 2007

The strange thing is that I don't think I'd ever even heard of her until William Gibson linked to one of her videos . . .

Speaking of which, I just found a link to the video below via Gibson's blog.

"Pimp my ride" indeed -- it's autogeddon!

Here's a thoroughly wrong-headed editorial that attempts to convince readers that science fiction is dead. (Which is surprisingly easy to do when you get to use Michael Crichton as a straw man.)
SpaceShipTwo Blast Kills 3, Injures 3

According to Burt Rutan, the owner of Scaled Composites, and the designer of the SpaceShipTwo craft being built for Virgin Galactic, the explosion occurred when workers were performing a "cold fire test". The workers were testing nitrous oxide fuel injectors, which deliver this oxidizer to the spaceship's hybrid rocket engine. The explosion was on a remote pad, and the fire was quickly contained; however, the damage was done.
Same shit, different medium. Kal Korff documents his ongoing apparent mental breakdown on YouTube. Be warned: you might find yourself feeling a bit sorry for him.

Liona Tanaka: reporting for duty!

On a completely unrelated note, international media personality and noted scholar Liona Tanaka has joined the Posthuman Blues team. Armed with multiple Ph.D.s in fields as diverse as architecture, physics, cosmology, and artificial intelligence, Liona is uniquely qualified to handle the large volume of email we receive. Although officially serving as Posthuman Blues' PR coordinator/receptionist, her role within the organization's structure is as expansive as it is influential.

Welcome aboard, Liona!

(By the way, if you feel able to stomach more Korff, this one had me in stitches.)

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Report: Astronauts drank before launch

At least twice, astronauts were allowed to fly after flight surgeons and other astronauts warned they were so drunk they posed a flight-safety risk, an aviation weekly reported Thursday, citing a special panel studying astronaut health.

The independent panel also found "heavy use of alcohol" before launch that was within the standard 12-hour "bottle-to-throttle" rule, according to Aviation Week & Space Technology, which reported the finding on its Web site.

If I knew I had to blast off in an antique Space Shuttle, sheathed in necrotic foam and subject to any number of preventable, potentially lethal glitches, I'd probably drink too.
The End of Everything

It can be said that humans have a bit of a short term view of things. We're concerned about the end of summer, the next school year, and maybe even retirement. But these are just a blink of an eye in cosmic terms. Let's really think big, stare forward in time, and think about what the future holds for the Universe. Look forward millions, trillions, and even 10100 years into the future. Let's consider the end of everything.

Now we're talking!
UFO sightings bring town to a standstill

The strange episode started just after 10.30pm, when the lights were seen hovering slowly over the town before three of them formed a triangular shape with one positioned just to the right.

A few minutes later a fifth came into view travelling towards the others at breakneck speed before slowing down and stopping a short distance away.

Sceptics dismissed the UFOs as nothing more than hot air balloons, fireworks or even lanterns which had broken loose from a local rugby club.

Others, however, claimed the speed and agility of the objects was unlike any known aircraft and said the odd movement, lack of noise and the length of time in the air discounted any man-made explanation.
Remember Extracranial? Sure you do. Anyway, I just posted a story fragment. Enjoy.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Majestic-12 document proponent Ryan S. Wood's press release concerning the new forensic condemnation of the MJ-12 documents warrants a read, as he raises some worthwhile points.

As I mentioned in my previous MJ-12 post, I suspect the documents will ultimately be proven to be bogus -- but almost certainly not because of the new study gathering attention.

(To see some of the controversial papers yourself, click here.)
Antique engines inspire nano chip

Mechanical computers are nothing new. The remains of a 2,000 year old analogue computer known as the Antikythera mechanism were discovered in Greece in 1902.

And during the 19th Century, English mathematician and engineer Charles Babbage designed various steam-powered mechanical computers.

His "difference engine", for example, consisted of more than 25,000 individual levers, ratchets and cogs and weighed more than 13 tonnes.

Although none of his designs were ever finished, recent reconstructions by London's Science Museum show they were capable of carrying out complex calculations.

The US team's proposal owes a debt to these early concepts.

"It's inspired by Babbage's ideas but these days we can scale it down," Professor Blick told the BBC News website.

"Now, we are able to process devices on the nano scale."

Does this qualify as "steampunk"?
Why write about UFOs when you can be a UFO?
Plague of bioweapons accidents afflicts the US

Deadly germs may be more likely to be spread due to a biodefence lab accident than a biological attack by terrorists.

Plague, anthrax, Rocky Mountain spotted fever - these are among the bioweapons some experts fear could be used in a germ warfare attack against the US. But the public has had near-misses with those diseases and others over the past five years, ironically because of accidents in labs that were working to defend against bioterrorists. Even worse, they may be only the tip of an iceberg.

(Via PAG E-News.)
The man with a hole in his brain

Three years ago, a 44-year-old man was admitted to hospital in Marseille, France, complaining of weakness in his left leg. He had no idea what doctors would find to be the source of the problem: a huge pocket of fluid where most of his brain ought to be.

(Via Variable Gravitas Content.)

Dead frog with a webserver can be controlled over the net

The Experiments in Galvanism frog floats in mineral oil, a webserver installed it its guts, with wires into its muscle groups. You can access the frog over the network and send it galvanic signals that get it to kick its limbs.

Pure brilliance.
Nick Redfern has another book on the way. It looks good, too. This guy's putting me to shame.

(By the way, I'm still working on "The Cryptoterrestrials." I fully expect a glowing endorsement from Kal Korff.)

Europe's getting slammed by some fierce greenhouse heat. Ever the futurist, Bruce Sterling's reporting from ground zero:

Belgrade Heatwave Part VII

This was the hottest day ever recorded in Belgrade. Fifty forest fires right, left and center. Hundreds of dead reported in Hungary. State of Emergency in Greece. What next? Oh, the specter of famine.

The legendary MJ-12 documents take a hit:

Leaked 'Top Secret' Government UFO Documents Proven Frauds

The documents were tested by Dr. Carol Chaski of Georgetown, DE, who was hired by Dr. Michael Heiser, a biblical scholar with an interest in the UFO phenomenon. Dr. Chaski is a leading expert in the linguistic science of authorship attribution, a discipline that uses computers to extract and define stylistic patterns in a given author's writings -- a "linguistic fingerprint". Dr. Chaski pioneered her own computational document authentication software program, ALIAS, for such testing, and is currently the president of ALIAS Technology, LLC. Among the stylistic patterns detected by Dr. Chaski's specially-developed computer program are patterns in sentence structure, word order in parts of speech and use of punctuation.

A total of 17 documents were tested, allegedly written by nine different authors. Dr. Heiser typed the prose text of the disputed Majestic Documents and a set of undisputed control documents for each author for Dr. Chaski's testing. Of the 17 documents tested, only one can be scientifically validated as having been written by the author who is named. Dr. Heiser's assessment: "Anyone basing any claims of alien existence or an alien crash at Roswell on these documents would be foolish to do so; they just don't stand up to cutting edge scientific analysis."

This is very likely the beginning of the end as far as the MJ-12 papers go. But while I think they're frauds, I'm not sure the analysis detailed above is the death-blow it pretends to be.

But never fear -- the death blow's coming.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

"Non-Local" Effects on the Human Body

In my experience, and possibly in the experience of some yoga and/or Reiki practictioners (which, incidentally, I am not on both counts), there is one area outside of the body, approximately 1 1/2 feet above the scalp which, when "touched", can be felt as a distinct pressure at the top of the head. When analyzed, the sensation - initially felt as slight tug - might be described as a type of ray or vortex emmanating from or to the head; a primary locus point in what ultimately can be perceived as an envelope surrounding the upper body.

Has anyone experienced anything like this? I'm impressed with the writer's candor and clarity.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Let's see: it's got sex, androids, murder, and pop existentialism . . . what more could you want?

(Thanks: Cyberpunk Review.)

Southeast Europe Sizzles, North Hit by Storms, Tornado

Temperatures across central and southwest Europe threatened to top 42 degrees Celsius (107 Fahrenheit) on Saturday in a heat wave that has killed nine people in Romania and caused havoc from Hungary to Greece.

While the region sizzled, parts of northern Europe shivered in unseasonably fresh weather and flash flooding forced Britain to call out its Royal Air Force to rescue hundreds of people stranded in central England.
My AT&T DSL connection continues to taunt me. I think a phone call to one of their "service" representatives is in order, not that I really expect anything to be set right.
Greg Bishop pointed my way to this database of 2007 "humanoid" reports. Yes, I'm aware that most are probably noise. But we can't automatically discount the possibility of a signal, however faint.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Mars Rovers Caught in Severe Dust Storm

Having explored Mars for three-and-a-half years in what were missions originally designed for three months, NASA's Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity are facing perhaps their biggest challenge.

For nearly a month, a series of severe Martian summer dust storms has affected the rover Opportunity and, to a lesser extent, its twin, Spirit. The dust in the Martian atmosphere over Opportunity has blocked 99 percent of direct sunlight to the rover, leaving only the limited diffuse sky light to power it. Scientists fear the storms might continue for several days, if not weeks.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Nick Redfern relates a curious tale about the prehistory of UFO contactees.
This quick video, found on Bruce Sterling's blog, positively seethes with futuristic potential:

Come to think of it, it's vaguely reminiscent of the thinly veiled sex scene from my short-story "One Hundred Years."

Friday, July 20, 2007

John Brownlee has seen the future:

Aphorisms of the Real Doll Enthusiast

For me, that's the horrible future of genetic cloning: soulless with the implausible bodies of massively breasted 13 year olds, alchemically congealed in bubbling vats for the express purpose of being sold as both semen receptacles and murder dolls to the mentally sick.

Unidentified falling object in Bayonne mystifies NASA

When a hunk of metal crashed to the floor of a home Tuesday, it set off a mystery that has NASA, NJ Transit and scientists scratching their heads.

The hunk of gray metal fell with a bang into a multifamily home around lunchtime. It was 3 inches by 5 inches with two hexagonal holes. The man who lives in the home was watching television in the next room when he heard the crash and saw a cloud of dust.

Experts who have seen it say it's manmade. But nobody can say where it might have come from.

All of I can think of is Donnie Darko's late-night encounter with a falling jet engine.
Here's a fascinating account of strange humanoids in Argentina:

Strange Creatures Seen In San Luis Argentina

While the trimming operations took place on the avenue, adjacent to a stream, traffic was interrupted and once restored, locals driving through the area, lighting it with their car headlights, claimed to have seen the strange figures. They reportedly saw "some little men coming out of the amputated tree and walking single file toward the library.

It's worth at least considering that the imp-like creatures were flesh-and-blood primates forced to evacuate in fear of ever-encroaching humans. (Also note the conspicuous absence of any UFO or reported "spacecraft.")

The idea that we're sharing Earth with a fellow intelligent species forces us to consider 60+ years of UFO lore in a fundamentally new light. For if we succeed in rendering the planet into a dessicated husk, it's possible we may be forced to acknowledge a "cryptoterrestrial" presence on unforgiving terms. Will we be forced to vie for resources with an uprooted neighbor species or will we manage to coexist amicably?
Score! My next-door neighbor has Wi-Fi and readily offered to let me use it. Moreover, she's really into Second Life (which I find intriguing even though my laptop's graphics card isn't quite up to the task of actually transporting me there).

Thursday, July 19, 2007

A phenomenon related to this might explain some of the unusual "cellular" landscapes photographed on Mars.

(Hat tip: Reality Carnival.)
New Top Secret Construction at Area 51

Something big is in the works at Nevada's legendary Area 51 military base. A massive new building is under construction at the top secret location. Aviation experts say there's a good chance that a new, highly classified aircraft might soon be zipping around the Nevada skies.

(Via The Anomalist.)

We've halved our most important natural resources. It's as if the world itself--the biosphere itself--has shrunk by half. As if the world is shrinking around us--but all the while, our population is growing. It's like being in a rubber boat that is losing air even as it picks up more and more people.

Another reason to never again set foot in a Wal-Mart . . .

(Thanks, Chapel Perilous!)

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Take a careful look at the Upper Palaeolithic designs depicted at the bottom of this interesting page on entoptic phenomena (reproduced above). Readers of UFO literature might find some of the images familiar from books about "ancient astronauts"; indeed, many of the glyphs superficially resemble modern UFOs. Coincidentally, some of the glyphs bear a casual resemblance to the symbol allegedly sighted by policeman Lonnie Zamora.
UFO Watchdog and Royce Myers III: 24 Hours Before LEGAL ACTIONS BEGIN!

You know Kal Korff's deadly serious when he posts a byline photo of an anonymous man in a turban.

(More on Korff here.)
Gulf of Mexico 'Dead Zone' Could Expand This Year

The Gulf of Mexico's "dead zone" -- a swath of water with such low levels of oxygen that marine life can be threatened or killed -- could be the largest since measurements began in 1985, scientists said on Tuesday.

The dead zone, which recurs each year off the Texas and Louisiana coasts, could stretch to more than 8,500 square miles (22,100 sq km) this year -- about the size of New Jersey -- compared with 6,662 square miles (17,250 sq km) in 2006 and nearly double the annual average since 1990 of 4,800 square miles (12,430 sq km).

Japan nuke plant leak worse than thought

An earthquake-wracked nuclear power plant was ordered closed indefinitely Wednesday amid growing anger over revelations that damage was much worse than initially announced and mounting international concern about Japan's nuclear stewardship.
I attempted to post yesterday but my Net connection was messed up. I'm not sure if I should blame AT&T or my apartment manager.

I'm also experiencing lots of interference on my phone-line. During a "round-table" interview with The Paracast, I endured long bouts of clicking and static. It's not incapacitating, but it's close.

On Mundane SF (Rudy Rucker)

Let it be said that futurism and SF are quite different endeavors. A rude person might say that futurism is about feeding inspirational received truths to businessmen and telling them it will help them make more money. SF is about unruly artistic visions.

Writing responsibly about socially important issues can be timid and boring. The thing is, science really does change a lot over time. Compare what we're doing now to what we were doing in the year 1000. A Mundane SF writer of year 1000 might want us to write only about alchemy, the black plague, and the papacy.
Wish for rain to wash away Homer

Pagans have pledged to perform "rain magic" to wash away a cartoon character painted next to their famous fertility symbol - the Cerne Abbas giant.

A doughnut-brandishing Homer Simpson was painted next to the giant on the hill above Cerne Abbas, Dorset, to promote the new Simpsons film.

Many believe the ancient chalk outline of the naked, sexually aroused giant to be a symbol of ancient spirituality.

"Rain magic" is no match for the all-powerful donut.


I just noticed that Boing Boing beat me to this. Not exactly a surprise given their seeming omniscience, but damn.
Saturn's Moon Iapetus Enjoys Eternal Youth

Saturn's moon Iapetus is one of the stranger objects in our Solar System. Unlike other objects its size, Iapetus is walnut-shaped, with a clearly defined chain of mountains along its equator. How could it have formed billions of years ago with the rest of the Solar System, and yet still have its unique shape?

New NASA supported researchers have developed a computer model that seems to accurately explain the series of events that Iapetus went through to arrive at its current shape.

Remember Richard Hoagland's "Death Star" theory?
Dad, Where Do UFOs Come From? (Greg Bishop)

What physicists call the "quantum field," is also the "collective unconscious" of Jung, where archetypes arise, and where spontaneous and simultaneous events occur, independent of distance. Western occultists are convinced that this realm is where everything we experience (both in waking and dream states) resides, but we are only seeing and sensing a small piece of what it truly "is." This "dimension" is not bound by time, space or our attempts to understand and more importantly, to explain it. Language traps us in a conceptual web of illusions, at least as far as this symbolic realm is concerned. We may imagine that our reality could be a sort of shadow or epiphenomenon of this holographic dimension, looked at through a mental web of expectations, sensory input, and our illusory flow through time.

Is it just me or does Greg seem very close to Getting It?

Monday, July 16, 2007

"Moorephology" alert!

Franz Kafka: "slipstream" guru? Works for me!
Sleek new spacesuit design

MIT aeronatuics professor Dava Newman designed this new spacesuit that's far sleeker and lightweight than today's bulky gas-pressurized outfits work by today's astronauts. Instead of gas pressurization, the new prototype BioSuit employs "mechanical counter-pressure" in the form of skin-tight layers wrapped around the body.

Not to mention a way-cool green visor.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Cliff Pickover on a term of posthuman relevance:


Meatspace is synonymous with real life or the physical world, and conceived as the opposite of cyberspace or virtual reality. The term originated in science fiction, especially cyberpunk, but it has become increasingly common in general usage, as a reference to transactions or interactions which physically occur, rather than online or electronically. The term may be used in a derogatory manner as a conscious rejection of the connotations of the term "real life" and the implication that interactions in cyberspace are less real or important than physical interactions.
Another inspiring post from Centauri Dreams:

Nanotech, Colony Worlds and the Long Jump

Such mega-engineering is hard to imagine if you're thinking in terms of 20th Century technologies, but by the end of this century, molecular nanotechnology could conceivably be applied to the task, turning fields of building material like the asteroid belt into workable structures. If off-planet living becomes a serious option, then generations accustomed to living aboard enormous space colonies will surely find among their number some who decide to make the interstellar journey, even if thousands and thousands of years are involved.

Elsewhere in the post Marshall Savage's "The Millennial Project" is mentioned. I can't recommend this title enthusiastically enough; seek out a copy and prepare for a incredible ride through a future we still have a chance of attaining.
Hmmm . . . could this explain the debris found at Roswell?


Saturday, July 14, 2007

A.J. Gulyas has posted a generous and comprehensive review of my 2004 book, "After the Martian Apocalypse." While his criticisms of the book are absolutely on the mark, I feel compelled to exonerate my editor, Patrick Huyghe of Paraview Pocket Books. My approach to writing "Apocalypse" was a bit scattered, leaving the redundancies mentioned by Gulyas. In this case the oversights were truly my own.
More global warming fashion.

A colleague has posted my rebuttal to Seth Shostak's essay on Space.com. If you want to join the fun (pro or con), I'm not stopping you.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Happy Birthday, Hysterics! The Roswell Incident Turns 60 (by Seth Shostak)

Well, in the more-than-half-century since Roswell, we still seem to be here with our lives and economy intact. If there's been any effect from an alien face-to-face, it's too subtle for me.

As rebuttal, some people claim that I'm wrong; that there really is a noteworthy aftermath to Roswell. Namely, that the military has reverse-engineered the debris, producing all sorts of strategically important technology breakthroughs. That, at least, would be significant. However, the idea, to begin with, is about as plausible as talking dogs. Could the Roman legions, a pretty successful military in their own right, reverse-engineer your laptop? They were, after all, only two thousand years behind us, and were humans to boot.

But plausible or otherwise, what's the evidence that we've in any way benefited from extrasolar imports?

Shostak seems to assume that if Roswell was the crash of an ET vehicle, we should have been able to figure it out by now -- despite his well-made point about ancient Rome's certain inability to make sense of laptop computers. He forces himself into an evidential cul-de-sac: we should know all about Roswell because of the event's importance, he complains, but that very importance is rooted in an assumed alien technology we don't have a chance of understanding. Ironically, Shostak's case against Roswell as an ET event actually winds up complimenting the idea that an alien craft was recovered and duly covered up by an understandably concerned military.

Regarding the Roswell crash's technosocial impact being "too subtle" for Shostak's taste, it's worth noting that technological forecasters such as Ray Kurzweil argue that technology even a few centuries ahead of our own will likely underscore Arthur C. Clarke's maxim that "any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic" -- in which case classified laboratories could still be attempting to make sense of the Roswell debris in order to reproduce it for military or industrial applications.

In this scenario, we could hardly expect to have benefited from ET technology. Yet Shostak appears committed to the idea that human history should have been visibly changed by a single UFO crash despite the extraordinarily advanced (indeed incomprehensible) technology supposedly involved . . . to say nothing of the purported military cover-up.

But Shostak's arguments betray further naivete. For example, careful readers have likely noted his unaccountable insistence that the Roswell craft must have crossed interstellar distances by itself, dismissing the more logical speculation that the downed craft was more along the lines of a fighter jet launched from a nearby aircraft carrier. (Even a cursory reading of the UFO literature reveals a "wave" of UFO sightings in 1947. If even some of these objects were extraterrestrial, are we to think that each made the voyage to Earth individually? While we obviously can't outguess the propulsion savvy of alien physicists, ignoring the implications posed by observations of objects exiting larger apparent craft smacks of selective thinking.)

I don't know if the infamous "Roswell Incident" was the crash of an alien vehicle, nor do I know anyone who does. But Shostak's eager acceptance of the Air Force's belated Project Mogul explanation, coupled with the mercurial standards for evidence demanded of the "hysterics" of his essay's title, reveal a pundit whose need to believe casts a troubling shadow on claims of scientific objectivity.
If There's Oxygen, There's Life

Most of the oxygen (O2) in the Earth's atmosphere was thought to have been generated though photosynthesis. Plants use energy from the Sun, taking in carbon dioxide and releasing O2 as a byproduct. Over time, this oxygen has built up in our atmosphere to its current ratio of 21%, with the rest nitrogen and other trace gases.

This ratio is very important to the search for life in the Universe. Over the next few decades, a fleet of spacecraft and experiments are being built that will be so sensitive, they'll be able to analyze the atmosphere of a distant Earth-sized world. Find oxygen or ozone in that planet's atmosphere - so goes the thinking - and you've found a world with life.

Chances are we'll find at least a modest handful of "living" extrasolar planets in the next few decades. A lot will change after that first discovery of a distant, life-harboring world. We'll find ourselves abruptly living on a planet we know is far from unique, and that promises some interesting existential consequences.

Maintaining fictional galaxies not your bag? Try finding real ones:

The simple answer is that the human brain is much better at recognising patterns than a computer can ever be. Any computer program we write to sort our galaxies into categories would do a reasonable job, but it would also inevitably throw out the unusual, the weird and the wonderful. To rescue these interesting systems which have a story to tell, we need you.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Many lives in many worlds

From the bird perspective, Everett's multiverse is simple. There is only one wavefunction, and it evolves smoothly and deterministically over time without any kind of splitting or parallelism. The abstract quantum world described by this evolving wavefunction contains within it a vast number of classical parallel storylines (worlds), continuously splitting and merging, as well as a number of quantum phenomena that lack a classical description. From their frog perspective, observers perceive only a tiny fraction of this full reality, and they perceive the splitting of classical storylines as quantum randomness.

(Via Reality Carnival.)

I suspect the Many Worlds Interpretation (MWI) will prevail -- assuming our universe is predicated on quantum physics. Some thinkers (such as Rudy Rucker) hold that quantum phenomena might not be "deep" enough and could mask a more primal mathematical underpinning.

Let's have an informal vote. What do you think? Are other versions of you reading different blogs at this very moment? Is the MWI a valid assumption or somehow flawed? Feel welcome to leave a comment.

Top cop predicts robot crimewave

Technology such as cloned part-robot humans used by organised crime gangs pose the greatest future challenge to police, along with online scamming, Australian Federal Police (AFP) Commissioner Mick Keelty says.

[. . .]

"Our environmental scanning tells us that even with some of the cloning of human beings - not necessarily in Australia but in those countries that are going to allow it - you could have potentially a cloned part-person, part-robot," he said.

(Via Boing Boing.)

This situation calls for a hero. Someone with boundless ambition and the might of the international intelligence community. Someone with access to cutting edge technology and the intellectual sophistication to use it for the benefit of humanity.

Yes, the fate of the world rests in the hands of Kal Korff.

Blogger A.J. Gulyas has discovered my Mars book. It's redeeming to know it's still out there creating little ripples in the meme pool.

How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic

Below is a complete listing of the articles in "How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic," a series by Coby Beck containing responses to the most common skeptical arguments on global warming.

(Thanks: WorldChanging.)
NASA spies water vapor on hellish alien planet

A scorching-hot gas planet beyond our solar system is steaming up with water vapor, according to new observations from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope.

The planet, called HD 189733b, swelters as it zips closely around its star every two days or so. Astronomers had predicted that planets of this class, termed "hot Jupiters," would contain water vapor in their atmospheres. Yet finding solid evidence for this has been slippery. These latest data are the most convincing yet that hot Jupiters are "wet."

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Feral posthumans engaged in street performance, mincing and metallic as they shun the gaze of onlookers in favor of mercurial rites.

The night stippled by the glow of laptop computers, the very lawnscape a choreography of pixels and chlorophyll.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Wow -- Korff really clears it all up in this revealing "interview." (Yeah, I know: I should leave the guy alone with his online antics. I suppose it's just that I hate seeing my name misspelled; I expect better from Israeli intelligence.)
I was surfing YouTube for Morrissey videos and found this gem:

Solar Variations Not Behind Global Warming - Study

The sun's changing energy levels are not to blame for recent global warming and, if anything, solar variations over the past 20 years should have had a cooling effect, scientists said on Wednesday.

Their findings add to a growing body of evidence that human activity, not natural causes, lies behind rising average world temperatures, which are expected to reach their second highest level this year since records began in the 1860s.

Damn, damn, damn! First the cosmic ray idea went down in flames; now we can't blame solar cycles either. This is getting out of hand!
Big Brother's Coming to New York

New York City is preparing to install more than 100 public surveillance cameras by the end of this year and that is only the beginning. As part of the Lower Manhattan Security Initiative several thousand cameras will ultimately be installed throughout the city by 2010.

One wonders if all those cameras will leave room for the inevitable police recon drones.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Are we ready for shockbots?

Taser says the technology will let officers use a robot to "engage, incapacitate, and control dangerous suspects without exposing those personnel, the suspect, or bystanders to unnecessary risks."

(Via Aberrant News.)

All I can think of is the product demo scene from "Robocop." You know the one.

Von Braun Was At Roswell

Dr. von Braun explained how he and his (unnamed, for now) associates had been taken to the crash site after most of the military were pulled back. They did a quick analysis of what they found. He told me the craft did not appear to be made of metal as we know metal on earth. He said it seemed to be created from something biological, like skin. I was lost as to what he indicated, other than thinking perhaps the craft was "alive." The recovered bodies were temporarily being kept in a nearby medical tent. They were small, very frail and had large heads. Their eyes were large. Their skin was grayish and reptilian in texture.

Bullshit? Probably. But if the "Roswell Incident" was the crash of an ET craft, it's not unlikely that von Braun, the era's foremost rocket pioneer, would have been briefed on at least some of the details in hope that he might propel efforts to back-engineer alien tech.

Mysterious Clouds Creeping Out of the Arctic

A new NASA satellite has recorded the first detailed images from space of a mysterious type of cloud called "night-shining" or "noctilucent."

The clouds are on the move, brightening and creeping out of polar regions, and researchers don't know why.

"It is clear that these clouds are changing, a sign that a part of our atmosphere is changing and we do not understand how, why or what it means," said atmospheric scientists James Russell III of Hampton University in Hampton, Virginia.

(Via Technoccult.)

Thanks, James. We all feel a whole lot better now.
REM's Dublin gig: bring your cameras!

Ethan Kaplan is Head of Tech for Warner Bros Records and he's one of the good guys, a 28-year-old geek who's trying valiantly to get the record industry to stop fighting the weather and embrace technology. To that end, he reports on REM's latest venture, REM in Dublin, where the band encouraged fans to bring cameras to their shows and record and upload audio and video, then the band blogged their tour and linked to their favorite fan-recordings.

The R.E.M. in Dublin site features a clip of the band performing new material. Fantastic!
I usually hold fan videos in disdain; they're typically both insipidly literal and grievously sentimental. But this envisioning of Alfonso CuarĂ³n's palpably futuristic "Children of Men" set to Gary Jules' melancholy remake of "Mad World" might be an exception. It's not perfect, but it's certainly a far cry from the usual YouTube fare.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

The burning ufological question of our age: why is there controversy over the UFO phenomenon when Michael Shermer is here to set everybody straight?

'Out of the Blue': Do Aliens Exist?

But when it comes to UFOs, there are plenty of skeptics. One man who makes his living as a professional skeptic is, well, skeptical.

Michael Shermer, the editor of Skeptic Magazine, says, "The parade of astronauts or police officers or politicians like Jimmy Carter -- it's irrelevant. Because they're human and they're brains and nervous systems and sensory apparatus are structured just like the average Joes."

Most people will concede that humans are fallible. We're certainly capable of misinterpreting stimuli, not to mention falling victim to the under-estimated "will to believe." But does that make witness testimony "irrelevant," as Shermer would have us believe? Hardly. Especially when he selectively ignores the vast body of UFO evidence in which the phenomenon (ET or otherwise) leaves an objective imprint on its surroundings (or is tracked and recorded by instruments).

The article continues:

Shermer spends a lot of time with reports of UFOs and space aliens, and has this to say about the documentary: "Um, the facts are true. The, uh, the story is well told and well produced. But that's not how science works. In science we have to have some way of testing to get an answer. It's this or this. And we have to have some way of weighing the evidence. And short of an actual experiment to run you have to have debate."

The irony, of course, is that we should be having a serious scientific debate over the meaning of the UFO evidence -- many of them, in fact. But Shermer's facile assumption that "UFO" is synonymous with "extraterrestrial spacecraft," coupled with his fanatical insistence that even high-caliber sightings (presumably even those confirmed by subsequent investigation) should be categorically dismissed, conveniently precludes the need for sober discussion.

In Shermer's world, the universe abides by the proclamation of a self-appointed "skeptical" elite, inconvenient facts summarily brushed aside with the help of a few condescending remarks and semantic misrepresentations. Fortunately for the rest of us, the universe doesn't seem to care what Shermer thinks. Instead, we're confronted with phenomena that challenge our assumptions and force us to expand our epistemological frontiers, all the while utterly indifferent to the preconceptions of committed believers and debunkers alike.

I've accepted a guest columnist position at Futurismic, a future-oriented blog I've long admired. My monthly column is tentatively titled "Loving the Alien." Keep your eyes peeled.
Mac's MP3 Player (Part One in a series):

Monitoring Global Warming From the Moon

Not everyone thinks we should be investing so much time and money in the ISS, but there's more than one reason to return to the moon: while it's a source of a potentially perfect fuel to some nations, to climate change researchers, it represents the ideal place from which to study climate change on Earth.

Researcher Shaopeng Huang has found that surface temperatures on the near side of the moon accurately record important information about Earth's climate system. Based on his analysis, he is calling for an international effort to develop and deploy monitoring stations on the moon for the study of global warming here on earth.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Globalheaded cyberpunk that he is, Rudy Rucker's been in France. Thankfully he took some great photos.
Avatar machine

The virtual communities created by online games have provided us with a new medium for social interaction and communication. Avatar Machine is a system which replicates the aesthetics and visuals of third person gaming, allowing the user to view themselves as a virtual character in real space via a head mounted interface. The system potentially allows for a diminished sense of social responsibility, and could lead the user to demonstrate behaviors normally reserved for the gaming environment.

I really love that last sentence.
The intrepid Greg Bishop reports from the Roswell UFO Festival.

Did an alien craft crash in Roswell in July of 1947? Maybe. As kitschy as the idea has become in a post-"X-Files" world, I've never been able to dismiss the possibility to my satisfaction.

The problem with Roswell, as Paul Kimball points out, is that the testimonies of many supposed principle witnesses have been deflated by nagging truths and contradictions. We still can't rule out an ET explanation, but much of what originally defined the Roswell case has transcended the bounds of "investigation" and become mythology . . . which might not be entirely bad.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Be on the lookout for weird life

The search for life elsewhere in the solar system and beyond should include efforts to detect what scientists sometimes refer to as "weird" life -- that is, life with an alternative biochemistry to that of life on Earth -- says a new report from the National Research Council. The committee that wrote the report found that the fundamental requirements for life as we generally know it -- a liquid water biosolvent, carbon-based metabolism, molecular system capable of evolution, and the ability to exchange energy with the environment -- are not the only ways to support phenomena recognized as life.

Nick Redfern, Greg Bishop, Tim Binnall and Mac Tonnies -- in the same room, no holds barred! Together, we just might crack this UFO thing once and for all.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

A must-read post by Greg Bishop:

Making UFO Sense Often Sucks

The source and meaning of truly "unexplained" UFOs seems to be hidden, and will likely remain that way for quite some time. It will reveal itself to us when we are ready, or when it is. Many UFO cases, if looked at from a symbolic perspective, reveal more to our humanness than simple questions about "where the aliens come from and what they're doing here."

Bishop posits that brushes with the paranormal, just like encounters with genuine art, convey meaning by remaining purposefully elusive. (Ever tried "explaining" a David Lynch movie to someone, or to yourself? In my experience, people who feel the acute need to understand "Eraserhead" on a literal level are exactly the sort of people who'll sap your brains, given the opportunity.)

My own creative powers (such as they are) suffer when I try to adhere to a template, which is one of the reasons I try to keep away from writing "how-to" texts, as seductive as some of them are. But when I relax my guard -- never an easy trick -- I find that meaning and structure often arise as if of their own volition.

The field of ufology suffers from a related problem, the toxic assumption that UFOs and other elements of forteana must necessarily yield to a single consciously derived explanation -- whether the hallowed Extraterrestrial Hypothesis or something else.

But if we're dealing with a truly alien intelligence there's no promise that its thinking will be linear. Indeed, its inherent weirdness might serve as an appeal to an aspect of the psyche we've allowed to atrophy. It might be trying to rouse us from our stupor, in which case it's tempting to wonder if the supposed ETs are literally us in some arcane sense.
MUFON Investigation Shows Drone Photos Hoaxed

In one of the images, you can see that the faker used, something called "radiosity" to render the images. The technique allows for more realistic images and makes things look very good, as if lit by the sun in this case. Well, in ONE of the radiosity images supposedly looking up at the 'fake ship' from directly below it is clear that the faker didn't take care in setting his settings for the renderer and you can see classic "radiosity render artifacts" in the dark shadow areas of the CG craft. They show up as mottling in the shadows instead of smooth transitions. It is what happens when you want the rendering to be finished quickly. If radiosity settings were used to make the image look absolutely real, each image could take tens of hours to render perhaps.

And that's just for starters.

The question on my mind: will Linda Howe or Whitley Strieber, both key players in disseminating the "drone" images and their accompanying mythos, dare post this on their respective sites?
No Link Between Cosmic Rays and Global Warming

The scientific consensus is in: human-produced carbon dioxide is causing a rise in temperatures across the planet. There are still those who reject the evidence that humans have an impact on global temperatures, and instead maintain that natural processes are at the root.

Damn. Well, at least there are still other potential culprits. No shortage, in fact. I'm thinking "elves" has a certain cachet.
Photos of cephalopodic playscapes

For the love of Cthulhu, here are photos of giant cement octopi posing as playground equipment in Japan.

I call Dali-esque biomorphic structures like this "Moorephologies," in honor of sculptor Henry Moore. I doubt it catches on like "blobject," but you never know.
Galaxiki - a fictional galaxy anyone can edit

Galaxiki is a fictional online galaxy created, maintained and owned by its Community. Membership is free - sign up now to become a "Galaxician" and start editing stars, planets and moons, or get your own personal solar system.

Who can resist an invitation like that?

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Tomorrow morning I take Ebe to the vet. She's developed an intermittent spasmodic "whooping," accompanied by constrictions of her chest. While she continues to eat and behave normally, I'm pretty concerned; I halfway suspect she's having feline "anxiety attacks" brought on by the Big Move. Needless to say, I'm hoping for reassuring news.
Black Holes are Key to the Evolution of the Universe

One of the most important findings of the simulation was the impact of black holes. Galaxies look the way they do because of the supermassive black holes at their centres.
Paul Kimball offers his opinion on the Walter Haut Roswell affidavit. My reply can be summarized in two syllables: "bingo."

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Bush, Mideast Wars and End-Time Prophecy

President George W. Bush has become dangerously steeped in ideas of Armageddon, the Apocalypse, an imminent war with Satanic forces in the Middle East, and an urgency to construct an American theocracy to fulfill God's end-of-days plan, according to close observers.

Historians and investigative journalists following the "end-time Christian" movement have grown alarmed at the impact it may be having on Bush's Middle East policies, including the current war in Iraq, the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian crisis, the strife in Lebanon and the administration's repeated attempts to find a cause for war against Iran.

Many people are aware that Bush is "the most aggressively religious president in American History," as eminent historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr. described him, (Schlesinger, "War and the Presidency," 143) but most remain without a clue to what this actually means.

(Via John Shirley's blog.)

Ballardian has just published an interview with me. More than any other online chat in which I've taken part, this one really captures the essence of what this blog is all about. Topics range from J.G. Ballard (natch), transhumanism, UFOs, and the end of the world as we know it. It even has a cool title: Ufopunk: Mac Tonnies' Strange Blue World.