Friday, October 31, 2008

Another great video by Pat Condell:

The Solar Powered COM-BAT Spy Plane

In this season of specters and spooks, what could be scarier than a steel-winged robotic spy plane shaped like a bat? The aptly named COM-BAT is a six-inch surveillance device that is powered by solar, wind, and vibrations.
Get vegetarian teeth and eat less meat

Unfortunately, humans are omnivores. Our teeth are designed to eat both meat and plants. Susana Soares and her colleagues designers and engineers of the Material Beliefs program propose to alter human teeth structures into those of herbivores, in order to become a better vegetarian.
Japanese Man Petitions to Legally Marry Manga Character

I suppose we all should have seen this one coming.
The make-your-own-universe kit

According to the theory, any kind of measurement causes the universe to split and this is the basis of Keats' new device. His universe creator uses a piece of uranium-doped glass to create a steam of alpha particles, which are then detected using a thin sliver of scintillating crystal. Each detection causes the creation of a new universe.

Given the rate at which Uranium decays, Keats' claims this should allow users to create literally trillions of universes.

(Via BB.)
Found Image #23

Happy holiday!

Halloween's artist of the day: Khang Le.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Recent acquisitions:

Ultrasound shown to exert remote control of brain circuits

When asked about the potential of using his groups' methods to remotely control brain activity, Tyler says: "One might be able to envision potential applications ranging from medical interventions to use in video gaming or the creation of artificial memories along the lines of Arnold Schwarzenegger's character in 'Total Recall.' Imagine taking a vacation without actually going anywhere?"


I can't help but wonder if a similar effect is to blame for the "screen memories" and "missing time" that plague UFO abductees. Many UFO sightings are accompanied by strange, low-frequency noises that could, in theory, alter consciousness -- perhaps merely as a side-effect.

An ecological disaster is decimating some of Britain’s most vital seabird colonies, experts revealed yesterday.

Kittiwakes, Arctic terns and Arctic skuas raised virtually no young in some of their top strongholds this summer.

Other birds hit include guillemots and puffins. Breeding failures in recent years have left cliffs once teeming with birds all but empty.
New post at

Skeptics, Debunkers and Believers

I've used versions of this essay elsewhere, but find that it needs occasional repeating . . .

Today's featured artist is B.G. Dodson.
SETI: Figuring Out the Beacon Builders

The Benfords -- Jim at Microwave Sciences, Gregory at the University of California's Irvine campus, and Dominic (Jim's son) at NASA GSFC -- believe that advanced societies, if they are to be found, ought most likely to exist toward the galactic center, and probably at distances of over a thousand light years. We're thus talking, in all likelihood, about interstellar beacons rather than targeted transmissions when it comes to SETI. And if beacons are indeed at play, what can we say about their costs, and do our own standards of terrestrial cost have any application in an ETI context?
Shrimp defense: glowing blue spit cloud (video)

Smooth nylon shrimp (Heterocarpus laevigatus) inhabiting the dark depths of the Pacific employ a brilliant method of defense. When threatened with attack, the creature spits a cloud of bioluminescent blue fluid from its mouth, temporarily blinding its predator and allowing escape.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Earth on course for eco 'crunch'

The planet is headed for an ecological "credit crunch", according to a report issued by conservation groups.

The document contends that our demands on natural resources overreach what the Earth can sustain by almost a third.

[. . .]

"If our demands on the planet continue to increase at the same rate, by the mid-2030s we would need the equivalent of two planets to maintain our lifestyles," said WWF International director-general James Leape.
Defense Chief: Give Us New Nukes, or Else

"To be blunt, there is absolutely no way we can maintain a credible deterrent and reduce the number of weapons in our stockpile without resorting to testing our stockpile or pursuing a modernization program," Gates says, according to his prepared remarks.

In other words, fund this thing, mothertruckers, or we start testing.

I'm a Michio Kaku fan. Here's why.
I just can't decide which I like more: the artistry of Marina Bychkova or the undistilled hilarity of Baby Laugh A-Lot . . .
Richard Dawkins used to be a scientist. Now he's a nattering fuckwit.

(Hat tip: Chris Wren.)
Possible Men in Black encounter?

UFO files reveal East Lancs encounter

The 38-year-old's frightening experience came as she drove with her mother from Southport to Manchester, past Wigan. She said her progress was slowed "almost to a standstill," by a 1930s style car being driven be a "tall, stocky" man wearing a "strange German type hat."

"Tall" and "stocky"? Hmmm.

She explains: "To my horror, above my car was an unusually shaped craft of some kind, about 30 feet above us."
New original photos right this way.
We now pause for this important message from our sponsors.

Today's featured artist is "Internal Astronaut." There's a lot to like here (including what appears to be the Klingon-esque font made famous by the "CARET" documents).
"It is a Chinese box, and you're not going to allowed to see. OK? So just get that clear."

Personally, I quite like the opening credits to "Blade Runner." But if the original's white-on-black minimalism doesn't strike you, you could do worse than this serviceable (if unofficial) redux:

Yet more difficulty on the way (back) to the Moon and Mars:

More Ares I Development Problems: Is it Really That Bad?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Virtual worlds set for second coming

A couple years ago, big names in tech and business were rushing to capitalise on Second Life's popularity by building 'islands' and headquarters in the virtual world - or using it to sell products in a novel way.

But since that initial rush, things have quietened down. Media coverage of virtual worlds has subsided and some early adopters have abandoned their virtual activities after failing to reap benefits from the medium.

So are virtual worlds dead?


Ghostbusters: Are military bases haunted?

Military bases appear to be a popular haunt for wandering spirits, with several attracting the attention of ghost hunters seeking evidence of paranormal activity.

(Via The Anomalist.)

As a unapologetic Fortean, I must admit that I'm bothered by the above article's inclusion in Scientific American -- not because of the subject, but because of the conspicuous lack of journalistic follow-up. For example, there's a potentially interesting reference to batteries discharging faster than usual in areas believed to be "haunted," yet we're given no real reason to accept the claim as anything but the opinion of committed ghost-hunters.
More Bad News for Mogul (Kevin Randle)

We can argue about what really fell at Roswell. We can argue about the efforts to recovery it and to hide it but we can now lay to rest the idea that Project Mogul was responsible.
UFOMystic's Greg Bishop is back on the saucer beat.
Whitley Strieber's latest "journal" offers more of the same -- including the seemingly requisite self-aggrandizing conspiratorial aside. This time it comes as early as the opening paragraph:

I have been thinking once again about the possibility of open contact. It almost happened, as I understand it, in late eighties and early nineties, but was stopped when armed NATO fighters rose over Belgium each time an appearance took place. Once on the ground, there was a concern that the visitors involved would be attacked. I had some involvement in this situation, but I lost out, obviously.

I don't know about you, but I'd just love some elaboration on those last two sentences.

I can just see myself inside this thing, attending to my espresso machine and occasionally offering half-hearted waves to milling onlookers. It does come equipped with bookshelves, doesn't it?
How about that Prophet Yahweh? He's like some sort of mash-up between Sun Ra and Blossom Goodchild.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Catch me on the latest episode of The Paracast.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

John Hodgman on alien abductions, missing time and David Lynch:

Scientists dismayed by vanishing of 7 whales

Seven Puget Sound killer whales are missing and feared dead in what could be the biggest decline among the sound's orcas in nearly a decade, say scientists who carefully track the endangered animals.

"This is a disaster," Ken Balcomb, a senior scientist at the Center for Whale Research on San Juan Island, said Friday. "The population drop is worse than the stock market."

I don't see the problem. Simply ban the words "population drop." After all, aren't they "upsetting" and carry "negative connotations"?
Australia bans word 'drought' as too upsetting for farmers

The group also warned farmers to get used to the lack of rain because dry conditions are expected to continue.

"Words like drought . . . have negative connotations for farm families," a report by the Drought Policy Review Expert Social Panel found.

Oh, I like this idea! Hey, let's ban the words "global warming" too! And how about "famine" and "species dieback" while we're at it?
The best Portishead video yet?

Geoengineering: How to Cool Earth--At a Price

So far, however, relatively little research has been done on any of the approaches or on their potentially substantial and unpredictable side effects. "There’s a lot more talk than work," Caldeira says. "Most of the research has been at the hobby level." Some ideas do not merit much more than that -- scattering reflective particles over a large part of the ocean, for instance, would inevitably pollute it, and the particles would probably wash up on beaches fairly quickly. But others are harder to dismiss.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

I just uploaded my first movie.

Europe delays its ExoMars mission

The ExoMars rover, which will search for signs of life on the Red Planet, will not now launch until 2016 because of the high cost of the project.

I remember the good old days when we assumed human astronauts would venture to Mars in 2015 or 2020.
The battle's been lost, the war is not won
An addled republic, a bitter refund
The business first flat earthers licking their wounds
The verdict is dire, the country's in ruins

Watch R.E.M.'s new video here.
It just keeps getting scarier:

Christian right intensifies attacks on Obama

I have a new essay at

Many ufologists committed to the Extraterrestrial Hypothesis (ETH) exclude the Hopkinsville incident from their files because, at least in retrospect, it seems so implausible; attacking an isolated farmhouse hardly seems like the behavior expected of "real" extraterrestrials. Interestingly, journalists noted that purported psychic Edgar Cayce had grown up just south of Hopkinsville. Some Forteans wondered, not completely without justification, if there might be some sort of connection.

Do you know of other cases of seeming paranormal synchronicity?
Of certain interest to aspiring transhuman historians:

Transplanted cornea still sees after 123 years

"This is the oldest eye in Norway -- I don’t know if it's the oldest in the world," Aune, an 80-year-old Norwegian and former ambulance driver, told Reuters by telephone on Thursday. “But my vision’s not great any longer."

He had a cornea transplanted into his right eye in 1958 from the body of an elderly man who was born in June 1885. The operation was carried out at Namsos Hospital, mid-Norway.

"I wouldn't be surprised if this is the oldest living organ in the world," eye doctor Hasan Hasanain at Namsos hospital told the Norwegian daily Verdens Gang.

(Thanks again to Elan.)
Computer circuit built from brain cells

Our brains combine neurons into heavily connected groups to unite their 40% reliability into a much more reliable whole.

Now human engineers working with neurons in the lab have achieved the same trick: building reliable digital logic gates that perform like those inside electronics.

Packs of robots will hunt down uncooperative humans

Given that iRobot last year struck a deal with Taser International to mount stun weapons on its military robots, how long before we see packs of droids hunting down pesky demonstrators with paralysing weapons? Or could the packs even be lethally armed?

Could Strange Mars Craters be from a Fallen Third Moon?

Was there a third Martian moon orbiting the planet? Did Phobos and Deimos have a triplet sibling? According to the discovery of two elliptical impact craters, there might just have been another moon, but it ploughed into the Red Planet's surface a long time ago. The moonlet would have been approximately 1.5 km wide (0.9 miles), and it will have succumbed to the Mars gravity, entering the atmosphere at a shallow angle.

A compellingly "Blade Runner"-ish vision of the future as envisioned by a fourteen year-old writing in 1901.

(Thanks, Elan!)

Friday, October 24, 2008

Retro UFOlogy from 1953

Some old fashioned body-in-the-library research found this aged Popular Science article from January of 1953. In it, the public is invited to help capture data for "the Air Force's new project for studying saucers." Although not explicitly named, the article dates from the time period of Project Bluebook, and it offers some interesting historical insights into the Air Force's scientific methodology at the time.

Interesting indeed! Worth the click.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Mars pioneers should stay there permanently, says Buzz Aldrin

With what appears to be vast reserves of frozen water, Mars "is nearer terrestrial conditions, much better than the Moon and any other place," Aldrin, 78, said in a visit to Paris on Tuesday.

"It is easier to subsist, to provide the support needed for people there than on the Moon."

It took Aldrin, Neil Armstrong and Michael Collins eight days to go to the Moon -- 380,000 kilometres (238,000 miles) from Earth -- and return in July 1969, aboard Apollo 11.

Going to Mars, though, is a different prospect.

I hereby volunteer.
Could Some 'Rods' Grow Into 'Orbs' - Could Some 'Orbs' Grow Into Some 'Ufo's'?

Damn. I'm going to be puzzling over that one all day.
Climate changing 'faster, stronger, sooner'

One of the most concerning aspects of recent data is evidence that, in some places, the Arctic Ocean is losing sea ice 30 years ahead of current IPCC predictions.

Summer sea ice is now forecasted to completely disappear in the summer months sometime between 2013 and 2040 -- something which hasn't happened for over a million years.

The report's author, geoscientist Dr Tina Tin told CNN: "Arctic sea ice is melting much faster than everybody had been expecting. Why? Well, maybe it's because the positive feedback mechanisms have kicked in much quicker than we have been able to quantify."
Banksy meets The Smiths:

Kaiju anatomical drawings

Flickr user modern_fred's Japanese movie monster scan collection includes a few vintage illustrations detailing the innards of Godzilla and other famous kaiju.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Copenhagen Suborbitals shooting for human in space

This ain't no SpaceShipOne. Copenhagen Suborbitals is a Danish group of maverick researchers hoping to launch a human being into space on a rocket booster vehicle. The nosecone holds one astronaut in an upright position, "with a full view through a polymer plexiglas-dome to experience the entire ballistic ride."
Yesterday I linked to a blog highlighting an electricity-generating sneaker-sandal, so today I'm drawing your attention to this Wi-Fi-sensing shoe in the hopes that someone more tech-savvy than myself will take the initiative and combine the two.
Scientists Erase Specific Memories in Mice

Study co-author Joe Z. Tsien, co-director of the Brain & Behavior Discovery Institute at the Medical College of Georgia, Augusta, says the "work reveals a molecular mechanism of how [memory deletion] can be done quickly and without doing damage to brain cells."

Imagine "Total Recall" with the "dystopian" knob cranked up a few notches.
All aboard the atheist bus campaign

The British Humanist Association will be administering all donations to the campaign, and Professor Richard Dawkins, bestselling author of The God Delusion, has generously agreed to match all contributions up to a maximum of £5,500, giving us a total of £11,000 if we raise the full amount. This will be enough to fund two sets of atheist adverts on 30 London buses for four weeks.

It's not that I disagree with Dawkins (indeed, the sentiment emblazoned on the bus advertisements could well be my life's motto), but the effort runs the distinct risk of backfiring.

I advocate ignoring religion to death; attempts to skewer it publicly will invariably serve as a call to arms to True Believers. Certainly Dawkins realizes this, just as he must certainly realize that the money his cause is raising could be put to far more expansive and exciting use.
On Al-Qaeda Web Sites, Joy Over U.S. Crisis, Support for McCain

Al-Qaeda is watching the U.S. stock market's downward slide with something akin to jubilation, with its leaders hailing the financial crisis as a vindication of its strategy of crippling America's economy through endless, costly foreign wars against Islamist insurgents.

And at least some of its supporters think Sen. John McCain is the presidential candidate best suited to continue that trend.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

American lifestyle must change, says neuroscientist

According to neuroscientist Peter Whybrow, head honcho of the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Behavior at UCLA the concept of the American Dream is a "biological impossibility."

Personally, I've always thought the much-vaunted "American Dream" is the stuff of nightmares.
India launches moon mission in Asian space race

Scientists have better maps of distant Mars than the moon where astronauts have walked. But India hopes to change that with its first lunar mission.

Chandrayaan-1 -- which means "Moon Craft" in ancient Sanskrit -- launched from the Sriharikota space center in southern India early Wednesday morning in a two-year mission aimed at laying the groundwork for further Indian space expeditions.
Found Image #22

Talk about found images -- not only did I not know I still had this, I'd forgotten it even existed.

The text is from a long-abandoned science fiction story called "Turing Beach;" the graphic is by Chris Joseph (aka "Sauceruney.")
Ugly sneaker-sandals generate power as you walk

On Thursday, NTT announced that they had made this strange water-filled, electricity-generating sneaker-sandal. Every step you take puts pressure on the liquid-filled sole, which in turn triggers a small turbine generator and can create up to 1.2 watts of electricity--enough to power an iPod continuously while you take your daily stroll.

This functions as a brilliant metaphor for just about every social and political institution I can think of.
A friend assembled some of my recent tweets into a passable poem. Like, dig it, man:

Enduring the pale
accusatory banter of semi
estranged lovers.
'It's such a lovely day to have to always feel this way.'
Chattering med students enamored
of textbook infections.
The flow of inevitable tourists
as the evening dies.
Biosphere Bigger than Bailout

Led by a Deutsche Bank economist, the study puts the annual cost of forest loss at between $2 trillion and $5 trillion. A figure that is ". . . not only greater but it's also continuous, it's been happening every year, year after year."
Found Image #21

Moving the Earth: a planetary survival guide

The clock is ticking inexorably toward doomsday even if we don't kill ourselves by poisoning the environment or overheating the planet. You see, there's a little problem with the Sun.

The Sun is slowly getting warmer as it burns the hydrogen in its core. In about 5 billion years, the Sun will begin evolving into a bloated red giant. Its outer gas shell will swell up, engulfing the Earth by the time it reaches its peak size and brightness 7 billion years from now.

By far the most ingenious take on this I've encountered in science fiction is Robert Charles Wilson's "Spin."
Urban Tumbleweed - Next Nature's Trash

This Urban Tumbleweed creates a footprint of a city. To illustrate this footprint, Urban Tumbleweeds were constructed using genuine trash from the streets of both Düsseldorf and Eindhoven. Though the results appear similar, they offer a lot of detail when being observed from a closer perspective.
Giant toy rabbit spotted from space

A group of Austrian artists have made a giant pink toy rabbit in the Italian Alps can be seen via satellite from outer space.

The 200-foot long rabbit, knitted by Vienna-based art collective, Gelitin, was created as an outdoor sculpture, and was designed for visitors to climb on, sleep on, and play with.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Airliner had near miss with UFO

Civil Aviation Authority and military investigations could not explain the 1991 incident near Lydd in Kent.

The unsolved close encounter features in UFO-related military documents made available by the National Archives.

After ruling out the object flying past the Alitalia jet being a missile, weather balloon or space rocket, the MoD closed the inquiry.

Nineteen files covering sightings between 1986 and 1992 are being made available online.
Future planes, cars may be made of 'buckypaper'

Buckypaper is made from tube-shaped carbon molecules 50,000 times thinner than a human hair. Due to its unique properties, it is envisioned as a wondrous new material for light, energy-efficient aircraft and automobiles, more powerful computers, improved TV screens and many other products.

So far, buckypaper can be made at only a fraction of its potential strength, in small quantities and at a high price. The Florida State researchers are developing manufacturing techniques that soon may make it competitive with the best composite materials now available.
Fleet Of Alien Destroyers Demand Details Of Obama's Universal Health Care Plan (audio)

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The saucers keep coming. Send your photographic evidence to macbot [at] yahoo dot com.
Nick Redfern reviews Gray Barker's "The Silver Bridge," newly reissued.
Apparently it wasn't sufficiently lame the first time around.

'Creepy gnome' back on prowl

A NEW sighting of South America’s 'creepy gnome' has caused panic among locals after a group of youngsters claimed a 'midget monster' ran towards them at night.

The teens -- who recorded footage of the freaky being on their mobile phone -- said they are now "too terrified" to go out at night.

Experts who examined the latest footage, taken in the town of Clodomira, province of Santiago del Estero, Argentina, last week, say it is 'credible'.
I love this song. So much, in fact, that a few nights ago I came frighteningly close to singing it on karaoke.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

1950s Rocket Sketches Envision Manned Spaceflight

Collier's editor Cornelius Ryan detailed von Braun's plans for manned spaceflight across several issues of the magazine. Articles featured topics on manned lunar and Martian exploration, the potential for a space station, property and passage rights, and, of course, the ships themselves. The ships illustrated throughout the series were based on von Braun's earlier designs, but he worked with the series' artists to sketch out sleeker, sexier designs that would pop on the magazine's pages.
Blog of the day: Conspiraporn!
Grand Old Times . . . In The Future (Overview of Pulp Art)

At the time, the artists working for the pulps weren't considered anything but cheap creatives providing cheap entertainment for cheap minds. But now we know what they were: visions of wonder, amazing vistas of the imagination, daring dreams of possibility, magnificent views of What Could Be -- but most of all we look back at what they did and recognize it for being truly magnificent art.
You are reading this blog's 8,000th post.

Today's featured artist is Larry Carlson.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Call it a "plantbot" if you must. But "solar seeking botanical augmentation" sounds a hell of a lot cooler.

(Tip of the hat to The Keyhoe Report.)

More plantbots here.
Does Memory Reside Outside the Brain?

Most people assume that our memories must exist somewhere inside our heads. But try as they might, medical investigators have been unable to determine which cerebral region actually stores what we remember. Could it be that our memories actually dwell in a space outside our physical structure?

(Via Reality Carnival.)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Richard Hoagland's latest:

Rosetta Flies By "Something" Very Strange

I plucked the following two paragraphs at random. Unfortunately, they pretty much say it all.

The simplest model for all this -- the one that best explains all these remarkable observations -- is that "Steins" is, indeed, an artificial object ... that has suffered, as Rosetta scientist Uwe Keller termed it, "a complex collision[al] history."

This Enterprise "artificial" model predicts that, because of those collisions, one entire half of this small celestial body has suffered massive stripping of a former, highly reflective "outer casing" or "outer hull"--
Peter Watts offers some intriguing thoughts on Candidatus Desulforudis audaxviator, exobiology and immortality.
Oh, the humanity!
Download a free issue of H+ Magazine!
Another casualty of the will to believe.

UFO Weaponry (Nick Redfern)

It's clear from the files (as well as from studying the means and methods behind the way in which the phenomenon might be used), that it would be very easy indeed for those involved in the project to either replicate genuine UFO phenomena, or - more intriguingly - create UFO-like events for stage-managed, psychological warfare purposes.

To what extent the work of this project might have a bearing on some of the more perplexing UFO cases and incidents on record is, of course, admittedly a matter of conjecture and controversy.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Asus introduces scented laptops

I'll pass, thanks.
Revealed: a (relatively) quick way of conquering the solar system.
"Recession-compliant": brilliant. Wait -- I don't think he's being sarcastic . . .
Sweet wheels:

Peugeot's 3-wheel hybrid scooter concept puts a roof over your head

It's not a car and it's not quite a scooter. Peugeot's HYmotion3 compressor concept vehicle is an original mix of previously seen design elements - a semi-enclosed shell akin to BMW's C1 or the Benelli Adiva and the carving 3-wheel layout of Piaggio's MP3 - with hybrid drivetrain technology added to produce a 2-person vehicle that promises low CO2 emissions Green-Business-Travel as well as greater safety and weather protection than conventional scooters.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Schirmer Abduction (Kevin Randle)

Finally there is the drawing that Schmirer [sic] made of what the aliens looked like. Here is a point where the contamination might be seen. The alien leader [. . .] with the diver’s hood and the single earphone resembles the aliens in Mars Needs Women, which, coincidentally, had played in theaters only a few months before the sighting and regression. It is an image that has not been repeated in the UFO literature with any regularity.

It does suggest, however, that some of the details that appear in the UFO literate have their foundations in science fiction, both the movies and the magazines. So, when UFO researchers tell us that there is no influence by science fiction, they are mistaken.

Compare and contrast Randle's perspective with that of Terence McKenna, who describes a fascinating first-hand UFO experience in the following clip:

"As I watched, the clouds recoalesced over the next two minutes or so in the same way that they had divided apart. The symmetry of this dividing and rejoining, and the fact that the smallest clouds were all the same size, lent the performance an eerie air, as if Nature herself was suddenly to become the tool of some unseen organizing agency."

"It was, if you ask me -- and there is no one else, really, than one can ask -- either a holographic image of a technical perfection impossible on Earth today or it was the manifestation of something which in that instance chose to begin as mist and end as machine but which could have appeared in any form: a manifestation of a humorous something's omniscient control over the world of form and matter."

In my own opinion, Randle's link between Hollywood sci-fi and the Schirmer abduction is probably spurious -- but does it even matter? The UFO phenomenon seems to deliberately engage us in a dialogue of images culled from memories both personal and collective. What's to prevent it from recasting alien invaders from a "B" movie if it furthers its attempts to communicate with us, if that is indeed its ultimate goal?
Beautiful high dynamic range (?) photos of Tokyo.

(Hat tip: Pink Tentacle.)
Ridley Scott takes on 'Forever War'

Fox 2000 has acquired rights to Joe Haldeman's 1974 novel "The Forever War," and Ridley Scott is planning to make it into his first science fiction film since he delivered back-to-back classics with "Blade Runner" and "Alien."

Monday, October 13, 2008

Human genome sequencing soon childsplay?

As prices are expected to drop further over the next decade, we foresee non-clinical applications will emerge as well. How about a human-genome sequence chip on your cellphone? Should be handy to check if your pick up at the party is also a suitable marriage-partner (you can just filter the father/mother or your kids right just out!?). Calculate your chances regarding that horrible disease in your family. Or determine whether that friend-of-a-friend should be accepted to your genetic-social-network.
The late, great George Carlin on the media, religion and UFOs:

(Hat tip: Dedroidify.)

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Hawking: If we survive the next 200 years, we should be OK

"I believe that the long-term future of the human race must be in space," said Hawking, who is almost completely paralyzed by the illness ALS.

"It will be difficult enough to avoid disaster on planet Earth in the next 100 years, let alone next thousand, or million. The human race shouldn't have all its eggs in one basket, or on one planet. Let's hope we can avoid dropping the basket until we have spread the load."

(Via The Keyhoe Report.)

It's nothing Hawking hasn't said before, but I think it bears repeating.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Just a friendly heads-up:

ET is coming on vacation

The mediums, Blossom Goodchild, an Australian actress, author and direct-voice medium, and Mike Quinsey, a well-known United States-based medium, say they have been contacted by the galactic Federation of Light who have made it known that they will park their massive space ship over Alabama "in the south of your hemisphere" on October 14, and will remain there for three days.

The visitation to humans has been brought forward from the initially planned End of Days in 2012 because of the damage being caused to the planet by man and the fact that "dark forces" remain in charge.

George Dvorsky challenges the notion that humans have stopped evolving.
And today's bogus Mars "anomaly" is . . .
Smart Forests - EWAN

At Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Christopher Love and colleagues are working to find out whether energy from trees can be used to prevent forest fires. A sensor system taps into trees as a self-sustaining power supply. Each sensor is equipped with a battery that can be slowly recharged using electricity generated by the tree. The system produces enough electricity to allow the temperature and humidity sensors to wirelessly transmit signals four times a day, or immediately if there's a fire.

Still no match for the blogging houseplant . . .

Also: The RFID and the saguaro
Head Porter x Buzz Rickson x William Gibson

Head Porter, the famed Japanese bag makers, are back with a new collection of vintage military-styled bags. Its design comes from Buzz Rickson, the company responsible for Sugar Cane Denim, as well as iconic flight jackets and Army attire dating back to the WWII era. The bags are drawn from the William Gibson line, which is inspired by the science fiction writer of the same name.

(Via Beyond the Beyond.)

McCain booed after trying to calm anti-Obama crowd

A sense of grievance spilling into rage has gripped some GOP events this week as McCain supporters see his presidential campaign lag against Obama. Some in the audience are making it personal, against the Democrat. Shouts of "traitor," "terrorist," "treason," "liar," and even "off with his head" have rung from the crowd at McCain and Sarah Palin rallies, and gone unchallenged by them.

McCain changed his tone Friday when supporters at a town hall pressed him to be rougher on Obama. A voter said, "The people here in Minnesota want to see a real fight." Another said Obama would lead the U.S. into socialism. Another said he did not want his unborn child raised in a country led by Obama.

This is creeping me out. Seriously.

Today's featured artist is Sparth, who's doing the cover art for the French translation of Peter Watts' "Blindsight."

Friday, October 10, 2008

UFOs Have Been Filmed At Bruce Springsteen Concert

The flying objects were seen above a Philadelphia concert by Bruce in support of US presidential candidate Barack Obama on October 4.

A group of mysterious grey dots flew in an apparent formation across the sky above the concert stage during Bruce's performance. The UFOs were spotted while it was still light and the sky was relatively clear.

Given Springsteen's lengthy pro-Obama/anti-Bush speech, I seriously have to wonder if the UFOs were recon drones sent to keep watch on the crowd. It wouldn't be the first time small unmanned craft have been spotted monitoring protesters.
Mammals Aren't Loners in Extinction Threat

Earlier this week, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature reported that 25 percent of the world's mammal species are at risk of extinction in our lifetimes due to habitat destruction and hunting. The IUCN is to be commended for its report.

The untold story here, which is far more ominous, is that the United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (which in 2007 won the Nobel Peace Prize for its work) projects that even we if succeed at reducing carbon emissions by 80 percent by the year 2050, approximately 20-30 percent of the species on earth are already at increased risk of extinction due to climate change. So this extinction crisis doesn't just involve hundreds of mammals, but instead, hundreds of thousands and perhaps more than a million species are at risk.
Bold traveler's journey toward the center of the Earth

The first ecosystem ever found having only a single biological species has been discovered 2.8 kilometers (1.74 miles) beneath the surface of the earth in the Mponeng gold mine near Johannesburg, South Africa. There the rod-shaped bacterium Desulforudis audaxviator exists in complete isolation, total darkness, a lack of oxygen, and 60-degree-Celsius heat (140 degrees Fahrenheit).
The Candidates and Climate: A Persistant Air of Surreality
Very interesting indeed . . .

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Nuclear Nightmares: Twenty Years Since Chernobyl
Portishead perform "The Rip" live. Magical.

Click here for Radiohead's acoustic version.
William Gibson on William S. Burroughs:

The biggest influence on my writing has been the accidental fact that I discovered the Beats and Science Fiction more or less in the same season when I was about 14 years old. I suspect that was fairly unusual. When I first tried reading Burroughs I didn’t get it at all, but I recognised that there were elements of the genre of Science Fiction there. I thought it was the strangest stuff I had ever read and I knew that it had hit notes that nothing else had ever hit. Before I started writing, I gradually realised that a lot of the Science Fiction writers that I had admired in the 60s were copying from Burroughs big time, but Burroughs had been able to sustain those notes longer than anyone, and hit stranger highs. When I started writing myself, I had that as part of a toolkit that I knew I could appropriate. I appropriated in the opposite direction. Burroughs was appropriating Science Fiction, mysteries and pulp thrillers into avant-garde fiction and I was appropriating elements of avant-garde fiction quite freely into a sort of late 20th century Pulp Sci-Fi.
It's come to this: an obvious airbag depression interpreted as a Martian "anomaly." And don't get me started on this one.

As Boing Boing's Mark Frauenfelder remarks, "Do they make these robots so repugnant on purpose?"
Experts ponder link between creativity, mood disorders

There have been more than 20 studies that suggest an increased rate of bipolar and depressive illnesses in highly creative people, says Kay Redfield Jamison, professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University and author of the "An Unquiet Mind," a memoir of living with bipolar disorder.

Experts say mental illness does not necessarily cause creativity, nor does creativity necessarily contribute to mental illness, but a certain ruminating personality type may contribute to both mental health issues and art.

"Unquestionably, I think a major link is to the underlying temperaments of both bipolar illness and depression, of reflectiveness and so forth," Jamison said.
Review: "Alien Abductions: Creating a Modern Phenomenon" by Terry Matheson

Unlike many would-be debunkers, Matheson's book reveals an astute familiarity with the principal texts (John Fuller's "The Interrupted Journey," Raymond Fowler's books on Betty Andreasson, etc.) Matheson raises valid points about the way popular authors present strange memes to an astonished (if often credulous) readership. In so doing, he sounds a scholarly alarm that writers of the paranormal ignore at their peril.

(This piece originally appeared here at Posthuman Blues.)

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Patient delighted after world's first full arm transplants

Six years ago a work accident had led to the amputation of both his arms.

"The feeling is indescribable," Merk, 54, said as he showed off the new limbs, which are being supported by a special "corset" while the healing continues. "Every day I gain more mobility."

Since the amputation, Merk was reliant on round-the-clock care. Two attempts to use prostheses failed.

Judging from an email I received today, at least one reader didn't much like my post on human-alien hybridization. Here's a choice paragraph:

The absurd stupidity, of not a true immersion in the data, dammit Mac there are big ships that hang out in the atlantic send scores of transport buses into NY, long island etc and the abductees are taken to auditorium sized exam rooms with hundreds of tables assembly lines of hybrid generation.--some nights--and the incubatoriums have thusands of cells with hybrids in them.

"Dammit Mac" indeed. Apparently I'm just totally out of touch.
Back in 2004 I posted some harsh words about voting. This being another election year, I decided I'd repeat myself.
NASA Will Not Use Russian Progress Vehicle Despite Waiver

Despite the recently signed US Congressional waiver of the Iran-North Korea-Syria Nonproliferation Act, allowing NASA to use the Russian Progress vehicle to send US supplies to the International Space Station (ISS) after Shuttle decommissioning in 2010, NASA has said that they will seek out US-based commercial launch options instead.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Future of flagship Mars mission up in the air

Will NASA's flagship mission to Mars fly next year? The space agency could decide as early as Friday whether to cancel, delay or proceed with plans to launch a nuclear-powered, SUV-size rover to the red planet.

NASA has already sunk $1.5 billion into the Mars Science Laboratory, which is pricier than expected. The mega-rover will roam the surface and drill into rocks for clues to whether the planet ever possessed an environment capable of supporting primitive life.

We already know Mars was (and quite possibly still is) capable of supporting life. The next step is to find that life, which JPL has no detectable interest in doing.

[. . .]

"We've got to continue our exploration of Mars, but in a way that's rational and sensible," said Frances Bagenal of the University of Colorado, Boulder.

Oh, really? Then funnel the money currently being wasted on next-gen rovers and orbiters into manned exploration.
Midori-san, the blogging houseplant

If houseplants could blog, what would they say? To find out, Kamakura-based IT company KAYAC Co., Ltd. has developed a sophisticated botanical interface system that lets plants post their thoughts online.
One in Four Mammals at Risk of Extinction

The assessment, done as part of the International Union for Conservation of Nature's (IUCN's) Red List of Threatened Species, took more than 1,700 experts from 130 countries five years to complete.

The report's findings were released today in conjunction with this week's IUCN meeting in Barcelona, Spain, and will appear later this week in the journal Science. "Our results paint a bleak picture of the global status of mammals worldwide," the study authors wrote.
Whitley Strieber speculates about alien contact:

Will aliens land? That's always a maybe, but since we understand them so little -- even what they are -- obviously, no prediction can be made because there is nothing to extrapolate from. Certainly, UFO activity is at a very high level right now, but that has happened before and, in the past, has not led to contact, which I would define as an event that ends speculation and denial. What form it might take I don't know, but judging from the failed attempt in the early fifties and the way events unfolded over Belgium, my guess would be that it would come in the form of incontrovertible sightings.

These would be followed by their disappearance from the skies, during which the visitors would evaluate the effectiveness of their performance.

Monday, October 06, 2008

High strangeness afoot in the Paracast forums . . .
Chile: Intraterrestrials in the Chilean Desert?

In Chile, according to residents of the communities of Chusmiza, Poroma and several places within the nation's 1st region, the existence of a race of diminutive bipeds has been known and discussed in hushed tones for generations. These entities measure some 15 to 17 centimeters tall and are the inhabitants of an underground realm that exists beneath the sands of the Atacama Desert. They are known to local elders as "the gentiles."

New at

Human-Alien Hybrids?

Because of its alarming (and peripherally erotic) overtones, the "hybridization program" has become a staple ingredient in many books purporting to explain alien abductions, such as "The Threat" by David Jacobs and Budd Hopkins' "Sight Unseen." Jacobs, Hopkins and their peers believe that the UFO and abduction phenomena are necessarily interlinked: UFOs are exotic vehicles used by the abductors to further their agenda. (In what I've termed the "Silent Invasion Scenario," the ubiquitous Grays are suffering from some sort of genetic malady and must rely on infusions of human DNA to survive -- sometimes with governmental complicity.)
Behold . . . the Walkman!
Found Image #20

A delightful fan-made video for Radiohead's "All I Need":

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Does bogus image "enhancement" bug you as much as it does me? Here we have a textbook case of technical incompetency coupled with a will to believe so pronounced it seems pathological.

Chris Wren (Mondolithic Studios) thinks the Turing Test is bullshit. As I happen to agree with him wholeheartedly, I'm not above citing his post in full:

If you think that you're talking to a person when in fact you're just talking to a computer, all that proves is that you thought you were talking to a person when you weren't. That's it. The Turing test is worthless as a measure of artificial intelligence. Not that I think AI isn't possible, but tricking people doesn't count as evidence.
Ommmm . . .

(Hat tip: Beyond the Beyond.)

Saturday, October 04, 2008

This entertaining video chronicles the creation and subsequent mechanical rutting of "sexed robots" equipped with "gender-specific genital modules."

(Hat tip: Riot on an Empty Street.)
Scientists aim to deliver e-paper in full computerised colour

Scientists in Cambridge have launched a £12m three-year project to create the next generation of e-paper, which may herald the arrival of fully interactive, all-colour computerised newspapers and magazines.

Futurismic sounds a word of skepticism here.
Yeah, I'd wear this.
Even though the majority of the beings and spacecraft cataloged in Starship Dimensions are entirely fictional, looking at all of this awesomely implausible stuff in one place induces a certain geeky thrill.
Wow -- take a look:

Oddly obsessed with all things robot, married couple Nicholas and Angela from Kansas City, Missouri, decided on a whim one day to do nothing other than to build one themselves.

After piecing together parts found at their favorite antique and thrift stores, they created their first robot friend. Since that first day, Nicholas and Angela have added many fabulously geeky robots to their beloved robotic collection.

Kansas City, Missouri? That's where I live!

Every home deserves a solid gold life-size statue of Kate Moss.
Planes fly into virtual doughnut

Two stunt planes have raced a computer-generated aircraft in the skies above Spain.

The pilots and a gamer reacted to images of obstacles to fly through.

Their real and supposed locations were beamed to one another as part of a video game.

Can dogfights with CGI UFOs be far behind?
Here's the new video for "Reckoner," very possibly my favorite track from Radiohead's "In Rainbows."

Interestingly, the video's not dissimilar to the panspermia animation I posted earlier.
The "Redfern Incident" -- revealed!
Three. Trillion. Dollars.

(Hat tip: Information Aesthetics.)
2012: No Geomagnetic Reversal

Using the Mayan Prophecy as an excuse to create new and explosive ways in which our planet may be destroyed, 2012 doomsayers use the geomagnetic shift theory as if it is set in stone. Simply because scientists have said that it might happen within the next millennium appears to be proof enough that it will happen in four years time.
Although I recently posted a clip illustrating the concept of panspermia, I can't resist posting another, more poetic, depiction. Note the delightfully outdated computer graphics.

Do You Want to Believe?

New research indicates that in situations in which a person is not in control, they're more likely to spot patterns where none exist, see illusions, and believe in conspiracy theories.

And possibly believe in a conveniently invisible "god" who watches over them 24/7?

Friday, October 03, 2008

Have you seen this cat?
I've deactivated my Facebook account. This is the second time I've done so and most likely the last. I hope I can continue to remain in touch with Facebook contacts through email, which is how many of us met in the first place.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Viva cyberbiology!

(Thanks: BB.)
Not only does Peter Watts write damned impressive science fiction, his financial advice is right up my alley.
More interesting news on the private space flight front:

Next for SpaceX: Falcon 9, NASA, Humans and the Moon?

With a successful Falcon 1 launch under their belt, SpaceX has set its sights on hauling cargo for NASA with the larger Falcon 9 rocket, transporting crews to the International Space Station in its Dragon capsule, and landing on the Moon with a modified Falcon 1 rocket.

Work by today's featured artist, Franciszek Starowieyski, can be found here.
I've been almost painfully remiss in my reading for the last three years. It's not that I've lost interest; I've simply gotten out of the habit. Reading, for all its myriad pleasures, is work: it takes a certain degree of single-mindedness and clarity of thought to sit down with a novel and see it through to its conclusion, especially with the Web as a looming -- and sometimes paralyzing -- distraction.

The good news is that I think I'm coming out from beneath my self-imposed spell and rediscovering that hunger for fiction that nearly defined my existence so many months ago. A most welcome turn of events, or so it seems.
Apparently I'm not the only one galled by the SETI crowd's smug misrepresentation of the UFO phenomenon.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Sometimes I like to do nice things for strangers. Tonight, for instance, I offered to take a picture of a solitary camera-toting tourist, an offer she readily accepted.

But I'm not doing it for them. Rather, I'm perfectly aware that I'm doing it to make myself feel a little better, to breathe some ersatz life into into that consummately mammalian part of my brain that pretends to get off on altruism. It's a functional arrangement, if not necessarily all that romantic.
Reduced Dominance Is Predicted for U.S.

An intelligence forecast being prepared for the next president on future global risks envisions a steady decline in U.S. dominance in the coming decades, as the world is reshaped by globalization, battered by climate change, and destabilized by regional upheavals over shortages of food, water and energy.

The report, previewed in a speech by Thomas Fingar, the U.S. intelligence community's top analyst, also concludes that the one key area of continued U.S. superiority -- military power -- will "be the least significant" asset in the increasingly competitive world of the future, because "nobody is going to attack us with massive conventional force."

Artist of the day: Olivier Bucheron (aka Zamak). More here.
Paul Davies, Wil McCarthy and Alien Nanotech Probes

Late-night viewing of some "morphing UFO" footage has brought me back to a concept that's always fascinated me: a Universe swarming with nano-scale ET intelligence. This could mean anything from tiny spaceships, to Earth itself being a high-tech, alien-scripted "stage" where what we perceive as dead matter is anything but

I was very pleased to discover that Mark Carlotto's fascinating work on Mars anomalies has been archived. Even better, a PDF version of his seminal book on the features in Cydonia ("The Martian Enigmas: A Closer Look") is available for free.