Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The art of Shawn Feeney

Click here for more of Feeney's "musical anatomy" drawings.

(Hat tip: Boing Boing.)

We're going to Mars in *this*?

U.S. unveils Orion spacecraft to take crew to Mars

"We're just very proud to build this, do some testing and demonstrate to America that we're moving beyond the space shuttle onto another generation of spacecraft," said Don Pearson, project manager for the Post-Landing Orion Recovery Test or PORT.

NASA plans to use Orion to carry astronauts to the International Space Station by 2015. The capsule will rotate the crew at the station every six months "to work out the kinks" before heading to the moon and Mars, Pearson said.

Trips to the moon are scheduled for 2020, while a journey to Mars is believed possible by the mid-2030s.


Honda develops brain interface for robot control

The system was not demonstrated on Tuesday but Honda did release a video of experiments. It shows a controller sitting in a chair with a large hemispheric scanner over his head, like the sit-down hair dryers you find in hair salons.

Both the EEG and NIRS techniques are established but the analyzing process for the data is new. Honda said the system uses statistical processing of the complex information to distinguish brain activities with high precision without any physical motion.

Just as compelling:

The next not-so-big thing: Nanogenerators

Such generators could be used to power sensors for detecting cancer or measuring blood sugar level for diabetics, Wang says. He adds that within five to 10 years, the technology will mature to the point that these generators could be placed in the soles of shoes or the fabric of clothes so that people will be able to power their iPods and cell phones using the mechanical energy created by the rustling of their clothes or compression of their shoe insoles as they walk.

Provocative statement about the ubiquity of electronic media or hardcore fetishism?

Discarded Ethernet Cables Become Recycled Fashion in Colombia

Actually, I'm not sure if it's actually made of ethernet cables, or if it just looks like the back of a server rack at my local data center. Either way, this outfit makes me think of a future world where people store infringing wares on their bodies, and a buyer can download just by grabbing a cable and sticking it into her laptop right on the street corner.

Sight unseen

(Thanks: Urban Prankster.)

Sunday, March 29, 2009


Simply brilliant.

(Thanks: Next Nature.)

Do aliens smoke cigarettes?

In a follow-up to her post about an unusual cigarette-purchasing "woman" (briefly discussed here), "Kartott" has offered further description that underscores the unconventional nature of her brief encounter:

Though I could not see her eyes due to the large Jackie-O style sunglasses she wore, other aspects were evident: an unusually long pointy chin. Exaggerated cheekbones out of proportion to the rest of the face. Practically no lips, only enough to discern that there was any mouth. A nose that was almost not there: there was very little structure to it, a small bridge area, and some structure around the nostrils, but not much.

Consciously or not, Kartott is describing a being strikingly similar to the woman supposedly encountered by abductee Antonio Villas Boas, whose experience is described here. Indeed, the pointed chin, exaggerated cheekbones and vestigial nose and mouth are commonly reported characteristics of ostensibly "alien" entities, and crop up with compelling frequency in the UFO literature. The visage has become synonymous with that of the "Gray," a commonly portrayed UFO occupant type with massive black eyes and fetal characteristics. (The Grays are often described as sexless or even robotic, stirring discussion that they're in fact biological robots or even genetically atrophied human time-travelers from our own ecologically impoverished future.)

Although the being described by Villas Boas is perhaps the most obvious example of an apparently alien woman, one has to look no further than the cover of Whitley Strieber's iconic 1987 best-seller "Communion" for another. (Often assumed to depict a male extraterrestial, the text of "Communion" and subsequent books by Strieber emphasizes that the being on the book's cover is female.)

In a disquieting twist, researchers have noted a conspicuous resemblance between the "Communion" alien and "Lam," the "magickal" entity allegedly summoned by controversial occultist Aleister Crowley. Like Strieber's female contact and Villas Boas' seductress, Lam's portrait emphasizes a memorably tapered face with dramatically pointed chin and minimal nose and mouth, suggesting a common origin. (At least some of the infamous "Men In Black" would also seem to fit the mold.)

Kartott's "cigarette lady" seems to fit the pattern. Even the purchase of cigarettes -- however seemingly preposterous -- is in keeping with reports by self-proclaimed abductees, who have described the smell of cigarette smoke in the context of their encounters. (The distinctively repellent odor of sulfur is a more common variant, with both mythological and folkloric antecedents.)

I propose -- tentatively -- that the beings featured above are "alien" only in the sense that they seem exceedingly strange to us. Their predominantly humanoid manner and ability to function in "normal" human reality -- if fleetingly -- argue that they're denizens of our own planet. Perhaps they're materializations of the sort postulated by John Keel in such books as "The Mothman Prophecies" and "The Eighth Tower."

Of course, the unmistakably elfin qualities described by UFO witnesses suggest Jacques Vallee's heretical notion of a "multiverse" inhabited by all manner of humanoid intelligences: a hypothesis that begs a scientific analysis of unlikely "contact" reports attributed to indigenous beings such as fairies.

Alternatively, liminal beings like Kartott's cigarette woman might represent a race of human-alien "hybrids," as argued by Budd Hopkins and David Jacobs. Apparently unable to pass among us for great lengths of time, the hybrids' overseers might be content to allow their creations to practice certain basic social skills in a relatively unbounded setting.

Of course, the answer could be a fusion of any of the above possibilities . . . or we could be dealing with a phenomenon generated at least partly by the psyche. The supposed aliens that witnesses see within and outside of UFOs might be examples of what Dr. John Mack termed "reified metaphor": a physical intrusion of repressed archetypal forces. If so, it's all-too-tempting to speculate that the daimonic reality traditionally accessed by shamanic cultures has begun to spill over into waking consciousness, manifesting as a veritable onslaught of beings quietly seeking to reassert their influence.

In a mechanistic society, the "Other" might find itself faced with extinction; violations of restricted airspace and face-to-face encounters with unsuspecting observers could amount to a kind of existential assertion, begging the possibility that our capacity for belief is somehow integral to our visitors' reality . . . if, indeed, "visitors" is the proper term.

Note: This is the latest in a series of speculative essays that I'm using as "source-code" for a book titled "The Cryptoterrestrials." If interested, you can find related musings here, here, here, and here.

Just a hint of "Blade Runner"

Geotectura's AIRchitecture: Flying Buildings!

The campus building concepts combines a static learning center for libraries, offices, lecture halls, and an auditorium, with flying workspaces and off-site "zeppelins" to allow for more dynamic collaboration and exchange. This concept might sound crazy, but it is certainly a great example of a minimal footprint.

Cover the "zeppelins" with heavy-handed neon advertisements for the off-world colonies and we're getting somewhere . . .

Saturday, March 28, 2009

It bears repeating.

Earth Hour. Because the World Isn't Worth a Whole Day. (Peter Watts)

Ninety percent of the world's charismatic megafauna is gone. Hormone disrupters are turning the fish off Lakeshore into hermaphrodites, if the tumors don't get them first. The Arctic is heading for ice-free status by 2030, the Wilkins Ice Shelf is a measly six kilometers away from disintegration, air pollution in this miserable dick-ass excuse for a country alone helps kill 16,000 people a year. How do we rise to this challenge? How do we lie in this bed we have made?

Earth Hour. Sixty minutes during which we turn out the lights and pat ourselves on the back for saving the planet.

"We have synthesized knowledge and created a beer for the new millennium."

But wait! There's more!

(Thanks to Sentient Developments.)

Jack Womack's library

Jack Womack is one of my favorite authors, so it's great fun to browse his book collection (courtesy of William Gibson). Check out his prodigiously quirky UFO collection and selections from his pulp science fiction library.

(Hat tip to Richard Kadrey, via Twitter.)

Triptych #9

It's not terraforming, but it's a start.

A Greenhouse on the Moon by 2014?

"We've grown plants in space before, but this will be the first time we'll attempt to grow a plant on another world," MacCallum told Universe Today. "It's not just a great vision, but interesting science, too."

Friday, March 27, 2009

This sure beats "Godzilla."

The always-amazing Pink Tentacle has the rest of the saga.

An "unpredicted need"

Full story here.

"What Else Is There?"

I have no words to describe how cool this video is.

What Else Is There? from Röyksopp on Vimeo.

Of aliens and cigarettes

Since discovering it via Twitter, Postreason has become one of my regular online reads. As I'm drawn to first-person stories of perceived encounters with nonhumans, I found this recollection especially notable. Students of "alien abduction" lore take note:

Another time when I was 17 I was working in a small convenience store, when a "woman" came in to buy cigarettes. At first I didn't pay any attention to her until I saw her hand (when she handed me the money) - it was not like a normal human hand. This startled me so I looked up and saw a very pale entity, wearing a thin black coat (like a rain coat) with collar turned up to cover her neck, a heavy long haired wig, and very large black glasses. This did not entirely hide her strange face: a very pointed chin, scant lip and nose. She did not speak. Took her cigarettes and left! I was kinda stunned. Oddly I cannot remember the details of her hand (though it was the first thing I noticed). Nor do I think she left in a car which was odd since most patrons drove up the store (it was somewhat isolated).

Do humanoid entities walk among us? I don't know. But I'm convinced (not without a certain reluctance) that something is happening, whether physically or at the edges of normal human perception.

Somewhere, J.G. Ballard is smiling.

Man caught in vacuum sex act gets 90 days

A man police caught performing a sex act with a car wash vacuum has been sentenced to 90 days in prison.

Jason Leroy Savage must also submit to drug testing.


The living robot

At first, the young robot spent a lot of time crashing into things. But after a few weeks of practice, its performance began to improve as the connections between the active neurons in its brain strengthened. "This is a specific type of learning, called Hebbian learning," says Warwick, "where, by doing something habitually, you get better at doing it."

Thursday, March 26, 2009


Space storm alert: 90 seconds from catastrophe

Hurricane Katrina's societal and economic impact has been measured at $81 billion to $125 billion. According to the NAS report, the impact of what it terms a "severe geomagnetic storm scenario" could be as high as $2 trillion. And that's just the first year after the storm. The NAS puts the recovery time at four to 10 years. It is questionable whether the US would ever bounce back.

"I don't think the NAS report is scaremongering," says Mike Hapgood, who chairs the European Space Agency's space weather team. Green agrees. "Scientists are conservative by nature and this group is really thoughtful," he says. "This is a fair and balanced report."

The art of Billy Reynolds

More . . .

Lacoste envisions the future of tennis.

Was that a foul ball or a glitch in the Matrix?

The 2012 meme

The end (or the beginning) is nigh!

I took this low-quality cameraphone picture in a Barnes & Noble. Personally, I'm grateful for the 2012 phenomenon: it's helped focus much-needed attention on issues pertaining to the near-future and our role as planetary stewards.

I'm ultimately agnostic regarding whether anything remotely "weird" occurs on December 21, 2012. My guess is that the fervently New Age crowd is in for a disappointment (which will, of course, be duly incorporated into its existing belief structure for fear of fracturing the entire edifice).

But if thinking about the future by way of the 2012 meme catalyzes interest in making the future a place where we might actually want to live, I'm all for it. And perhaps the ancient Mayans would have agreed.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Better late than never

This has been making the rounds -- and for good reason.

The belly of the beast

See You See Me from Evan Roth on Vimeo.

(Tip of the hat to LiLeLa.)

I won't be satisfied until my spleen begins using Twitter.

Body 2.0 - Continuous Monitoring Of The Human Body

In the future your doctor might call you before you have a heart attack, responding to an alarm sent out by monitoring systems in your body that have detected the precursors to a heart attack hours or days ahead of time. With body 2.0, medicine dosages could be tailored precisely to your body chemistry and metabolism. Real-time monitoring of chemical concentrations in your blood could allow for increasing or decreasing dosages accordingly.

The huge amounts of data that would be accumulated from hundreds of thousands of continuously monitored people would be nothing short of a revolution for medical research and analysis. This data could be harvested to understand the minute by minute changes in body chemistry that occur in response to medication, stress, infection, and so on.

(Via Futurismic.)

It does everything but ooze steam.

Mercedes Announces Crazy Hybrid F-Cell Roadster

But the roadster is a 'hybrid' in a more metaphorical sense as well: drawing design inspiration from a diverse swath of automotive eras. The F-Cell Roadster provocatively merges design elements from the most futuristic Formula One racing cars with the most old-school, turn-of-the-century, original Benz motor car.

The "new poverty"

Cities Deal With a Surge in Shanty Towns

While encampments and street living have always been a part of the landscape in big cities like Los Angeles and New York, these new tent cities have taken root -- or grown from smaller enclaves of the homeless as more people lose jobs and housing -- in such disparate places as Nashville, Olympia, Wash., and St. Petersburg, Fla.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Musical interlude

"Sea Within a Sea" (The Horrors)

(Thanks to Justin for the tip.)

David Brin on "uplift"

Noted science fiction writer David Brin is guest-blogging at Sentient Developments. First up is an evaluation of the contentious prospect of "animal uplift," a concept that Brin's novels helped define:

Artistically, of course, it is wonderful to work with characters who come from an uplifted species. I get to stretch my imagination, and the reader's, exploring what sapient dolphins or chimps might feel and think, under the pressure of such development, tugged between both the ancient instincts of their forebears and the new template being imposed upon them by their "patrons."

I see nothing philosophically wrong with animal uplift, but the concept is freighted with some alarming anthropocentric baggage. "Uplifting" animals to function as peers might sound liberatingly utopian, but the very notion of "peer" suggests, at least to me, beings more or less like ourselves.

As a potential "patron" race, we're bound to project our own preconceptions of personhood onto the animal species in question; our future uplifted friends might very well thank us, but they'll be doing so in a singularly human-like manner (in which case we might be better off poring our energies into the development of sentient machines instead of pretending to be faithful to a given species' zoological source code).

Well-intentioned as they are, proponents of animal uplift labor under the dubious assumption that there's something innately wrong (or at least existentially limiting) about animal-hood. On the other hand, anyone who's had a close relationship with an animal is bound to question such certainty. Sure, it might be nice to jam with my cats about quantum theory, but I sense they're quite content in their feline-hood -- and who am I to deprive them of that?

I'd go so far as to propose that animals are already engaging us in a meaningful dialogue, although perhaps not the sort of dialogue depicted in Brin's canon. That we've yet to understand our fellow mammals on their own terms remains an emasculating reminder that perhaps our "patronage" is neither needed nor desired.

The "Grays" as posthumans

The anonymous speaker in this video quickly encapsulates all of the salient concepts that make the alien "Gray" mythos so appealing. In effect, the Grays are portrayed as failed posthumans who have so recklessly abandoned their own humanity that they've been forced to become genetic vampires.

This context is especially interesting in that it allows the Grays to be portrayed as sympathetic, demonic or both.

The plight of the Grays isn't necessarily inconceivable. Indeed, I can see humanity shedding its capacity for empathy as an adaptive response to the challenging conditions of the next few hundred years. If our species loses some arbitrarily defined sense of existential placehood, to what lengths might we go to get it back?

Monday, March 23, 2009


Whitley Strieber's new journal entry is -- surprise! -- surpassingly bizarre.

In "2012," Daniel Pinchbeck astutely notes that Strieber's alleged visitors behave like the unfathomable assistants and underlings that people Franz Kafka's novels and stories. The incident related in the above-mentioned essay is certainly no exception.

Has the term "Strieberesque" already been coined . . . ?


Miltary grade 100 Kilowatt Solid-State Laser produced

"Our modular JHPSSL design makes it straightforward to scale laser weapon systems to mission-required power levels for a variety of uses, to include force protection and precision strike missions for air-, sea- and land-based platforms," said Dan Wildt, vice president of Directed Energy Systems for Northrop Grumman's Aerospace Systems sector.

Living on the edge

The human brain is on the edge of chaos

Cambridge-based researchers provide new evidence that the human brain lives "on the edge of chaos", at a critical transition point between randomness and order. The study, published March 20 in the open-access journal PLoS Computational Biology, provides experimental data on an idea previously fraught with theoretical speculation.

(Via KurzweilAI.net.)

Sunday, March 22, 2009

"This is a rock from Mars."

Hopefully the world is never inundated by nanotech "gray goo." But if it is I have a feeling it will look something like this . . .

Copy of a copy of a copy of a copy of a . . .

Generation Loss from hadto on Vimeo.

When houseplants attack

Plant plays first-person shooter

The virtual light, displayed by the monitor, is transferred to the light environment in the room and stimulates the plant. The botanical reactions are then sent back to the controlling of the first person shooter. Through this feedback loop, game real-time and botanic real-time are melted into each other.

And don't you forget it.

Quantum weirdness: What we call 'reality' is just a state of mind

What quantum mechanics tells us, I believe, is surprising to say the least. It tells us that the basic components of objects -- the particles, electrons, quarks etc. -- cannot be thought of as "self-existent". The reality that they, and hence all objects, are components of is merely "empirical reality".

This reality is something that, while not a purely mind-made construct as radical idealism would have it, can be but the picture our mind forces us to form of . . . Of what? The only answer I am able to provide is that underlying this empirical reality is a mysterious, non-conceptualisable "ultimate reality", not embedded in space and (presumably) not in time either.

(Via DIP's Dispatches from the Imagination Age.)

The sky's the limit.

Discovery of New Microorganisms in the Stratosphere

Three new species of bacteria, which are not found on Earth and which are highly resistant to ultra-violet radiation, have been discovered in the upper stratosphere by Indian scientists. One of the new species has been named as Janibacter hoylei, after the Distinguished Astrophysicist Fred Hoyle, the second as Bacillus isronensis recognising the contribution of ISRO in the balloon experiments which led to its discovery and the third as Bacillus aryabhata after India's celebrated ancient astronomer Aryabhata and also the first satellite of ISRO.

(Via Futurismic.)

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Electric sheep

Looking for some surrealism to brighten your weekend?

(Thanks, Grinding!)

Friday, March 20, 2009

"David Icke! We need you!"


Perfect storm

Global crisis 'to strike by 2030'

"It's a perfect storm," Prof Beddington told the Sustainable Development UK 09 conference.

"There's not going to be a complete collapse, but things will start getting really worrying if we don't tackle these problems."

Prepare for a bit of disappointment.

HiRISE Looks Down to the Bottom of a Pit on Mars (with pictures)

Dark pits on Mars are fascinating -- probably because they provide mysteries and possibilities. Could anything be inside? Or could this be a place where humans could set up a base since it would provide shelter from Mars' harsh environment?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The gates of Chapel Perilous swing open.

Mike Clelland begins his latest post with the following paragraph:

I am attempting to recount a very short memory. The incident described in this post lasted, maybe, less than 20 seconds. The implications of this event has been difficult for me to integrate into my life. I've been terribly conflicted about the truth of this foggy incident. It could have been a dream, true enough. I cannot allow myself to discount that.

Who can resist that? Read on!

Out of sight, out of mind

An essential photo-essay by National Geographic.

(Thanks: Next Nature.)

I was going to blog about the Cajun Crawler and Theo Jansen . . .

. . . but someone's beaten me to it.

Triptych #8

The art of Kenji Yanobe

Astronauts Tour the Ruins of Earth's Future

By the time the first extraterrestrials arrived on Earth, they found only the ruins of human civilization. But the landscape, at least outside in the deserts, was beautiful. Want to see what else they found?

Don't miss this. To jump directly to artist's website, click here.

Mutants on demand

A Machine That Speeds Up Evolution

Rather than changing the genome letter by letter, as most genetic engineering is done, George Church and his colleagues have developed a new technology that can make 50 changes to a bacterial genome nearly simultaneously -- an advance that could be used to greatly speed the creation of bacteria that are better at producing drugs, nutrients, or biofuels.

"What once took months now takes days," says Stephen del Cardayré, vice president of research and development at LS9, a biofuels company based in South San Francisco of which Church is a founder.

(Via The Keyhoe Report.)

For when you need that doomsday virus now, damnit.

The truth hurts.

Very nice. But I wanted this:

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Meat puppets

If you're reminded of "THX-1138," you're not alone.

Pink Tentacle has the inside scoop.

The "stick figures" revisited

Forgetomori has posted an intriguing follow-up to the already-infamous "stick figure aliens" saga. While unable to conclusively debunk the alleged Fresno, CA security camera footage, Forgetomori points out that the Peruvian video of the "being" near the edge of a forest very likely shows a piece of vegetation in the foreground. Indeed, when one watches the stabilized footage (below), one notices that the anomaly's movement is conspicuously synced with that of the camera. Keep in mind, too, the decidedly poor quality of the video, which tends to blur the culprit bush in the lower right of the screen.

Far from a deliberate hoax, the Peruvian "forest" video seems to be genuine and undoctored -- but, alas, not evidence of anything unusual. (To see how a stain on a window can look vaguely paranormal, click here.)

At least, that's my take. Friend and film-maker Mike MacDonald, on Twitter, argues that the object in the Peruvian video has yet to be debunked.

As I'm now bowing out of the discussion, I encourage readers to post their own ideas.

Move over, triffids.

BLDGBLOG introduces us to the feral majesty of the Ghillie suit:

Manufactured under the tagline "It's what they don't see that's important!" Ghillie suits are made for paintball -- but they are an amazing example of fashion design and landscape simulation together in one. Less a style of dress, they use garments to represent -- and thus blend into -- the earth's surface.

These things are positively fascinating from a science fictional perspective; an entire series of "B" movies could be filmed using little more than a handful of suits and mock firearms. And, unlike most low-budget sci-fi monsters, they're authentically creepy.

(I have a strange whim to purchase one and transform myself into some rogue Gaian archetype, offing unsuspecting hunters as they prepare for the kill . . .)

Has Loren Coleman seen these things yet?

"It's a madhouse!"

I really want to know if I can get that tune as a ringtone.

Meanwhile, on a nominally related "Planet of the Apes" note . . .

(Thanks: Future Blogger.)

Power suit

'Pillows for working late' makes your desk better than your bed

From Polish product designer Maja Ganszyniec comes a boon for late workers: "Pillows for working late." The three-piece set includes a tie, sleeve and and collar, so matter how you fall asleep at your desk you're covered.

I love this idea because it seems so perfectly ridiculous and yet so tantalizingly plausible.

"No thanks."

"Halt, human!"

This is a picture of my last date. (She was polite but firm.)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Twitter unleashed

I snapped this picture today while nursing a cold at a sidewalk cafe. Could this be the real-life avatar of the iconic "Twitter bird" reminding me to check the "replies" column on my TweetDeck?

(You can "follow" me here.)

Neural computing

Brain on a chip?

How could we use a neural computer? Meier stresses that digital computers are built on principles that simply do not apply to devices modelled on the brain. To make them work requires a completely new theory of computing. Yet another FACETS group is already on the case. "Once you understand the basic principles you may hope to develop the hardware further, because biology has not necessarily found the best solution."

Happy birthday, William Gibson!

March 17, 1948: William Gibson, Father of Cyberspace

Gibson has been my favorite writer -- and foremost influence -- since I belatedly discovered his work in high school. And he's never slowed down.

The invasion has begun.

First Masha Telna.

Now Lily Cole:

Are these evidently transgenic supermodels in league with the Grays? And if they were, would we particularly want to stop them?

(Hat tip: Hidden Experience.)

The Malmstrom AFB UFO case

At UFOMystic, Greg Bishop discusses his conversation with Cap. Robert Salas, witness to one of the most significant UFO cases in Cold War history.

The Malmstrom Air Force Base case remains one of the most puzzling UFO incidents on record; self-appointed debunkers fail to address it because it continues to defy explanation.

(I met Salas in 2006 during the filming of Paul Kimball's "Best Evidence" and briefly posed the possibility that the notorious missile shutdown had been perpetrated by an indigenous intelligence concerned for its own welfare. Salas dismissed the idea, and perhaps rightly so.)


10 Incredible Living Walls

The idea of a living wall conjures up all sorts of images, but in reality it is nothing more than a wall completely covered in vegetation. In order to create a living wall pre-vegetated or fabric panels containing plastic containers, or geotextiles, as well as irrigation systems and vegetation are attached to the wall or supporting structure. This form of urban gardening is often designed as an art form to decorate buildings in cities and has been hailed as one way to make cities more enjoyable, healthier and ultimately greener places.

(Via Reality Carnival.)

Monday, March 16, 2009

I'd be making an expression like that too if I knew the blade runners were after me.

Life-like walking female robot (with video)

Japanese scientists have unveiled a female humanoid walking robot at Tsukuba City, north east of Tokyo.

The robot, named HRP-4C, has 30 motors in its body that allow it to walk and move its arms as well as eight motors on its face to create expressions like anger and surprise.

She will also make a special appearance in a Tokyo fashion show and will go on sale for around $200,000 (£142,000).

Things to come?

7 Terrifying Global Warming Pictures

Everyone I know has had a UFO sighting except me . . .

. . . and Mike MacDonald's latest post (while not a UFO sighting, per se) is the last straw!

Spelunking the psyche

Like a refugee from a Steve Erickson novel, urban archaeologist Miru Kim explores the underworlds of major cities, where she photographs herself in the nude. The result is a haunting chronicle of abandonment; I'm in awe of this woman.

It's possible I sensed Kim lurking in the zeitgeist long before I actually encountered her work online; refer to this short-story fragment . . .

(Hat tip to Grinding.)

Sunday, March 15, 2009


R.E.M.'s Mike Mills performs a beautiful orchestral version of the band's 1992 single with the students of Mercer University:

The mind's eye

Enjoy hyperspace.

DMT Trip from skymonk on Vimeo.

(Thanks: The Teleomorph.)

Do kidney patients dream of transgenic sheep?

Introducing the strangely plausible human-animal interfaces of designer Revital Cohen:

Revital Cohen's Pecha Kucha at Design Indaba 2009 from Design Indaba on Vimeo.

There's an unacknowledged element of surrealism at work here; I find Cohen's marriage of empathy and pragmatism pleasantly disturbing and unintentionally cautionary.

Dezeen has more.

The latest from Centauri Dreams

A New Tilt on SETI

The planets in our Solar System rotate around the Sun more or less in a plane (the ecliptic) that is tilted some sixty degrees with relation to the galactic disk. It's interesting to speculate that this could have ramifications in terms of the SETI hunt. Shmuel Nussinov (Tel Aviv University) considers the possibility that any extraterrestrial civilizations might try to contact us only after they had a fair idea we were here. And just as we are now trying, via Kepler and CoRoT, to track down small planets using the transit method, so too might extraterrestrials try to observe our transits, and having done so, to transmit a message.

"Famous Monster"

I've traveled the country with film-maker Mike MacDonald, so I'm supremely embarrassed that I have yet to view "Famous Monster," his documentary about science fiction/horror icon Forrest J. Ackerman.

Fortunately for genre devotees, the film now has its own blog. And yes, copies can be ordered.

Missing time

Mike Clelland has posted an intriguing account of a possible UFO incident, complete with apparent "missing time," a phenomenon brought to light by journalist John Fuller ("The Interrupted Journey") and researchers such as Budd Hopkins.

Mike doesn't recall seeing any aliens; technically, he didn't even see a UFO. But his experience is certainly strange and unsettling.

Google Mars

I just downloaded Google Mars. What I've seen so far is fascinating, although the requisite commentary on the "Face on Mars" is facile and alarmingly one-sided. Here's a scientifically literate page that should have been referenced.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Aliens in the laboratory

Artificial life 'could be created within five years'

Laboratories across the world are closing in on a "second genesis" - an achievement that would be one of the greatest scientific breakthroughs of all time.

Prof David Deamer, from California University, said although building a new lifeform from scratch is a daunting task he is confident it can happen in five to 10 years.

There's no time like the present.

Climate scenarios 'being realised'

The worst-case scenarios on climate change envisaged by the UN two years ago are already being realised, say scientists at an international meeting.

In a statement in Copenhagen on their six key messages to political leaders, they say there is a increasing risk of abrupt or irreversible climate shifts.

Triptych #7




Click for more . . .

The healing touch

Another one of those technologies someone will inevitably claim stemmed from reverse-engineering Roswell crash debris:

Crab chemical could give cars a self-healing 'shell'

Exposure to UV light creates reactive spots on sections of the chitosan molecules which then combine with the broken oxetane rings to form new chemical cross links that close up the damage. The process appears to begin at the bottom of a scratch, pulling it closed like a zipper.

The future, Soviet style

Say what you will about Communism, but the Soviets produced some stunning visual futurism.

Boing Boing links to lots more right here.

But can you dance to it?

The Entire DNA Code Now Broadcasting Live!

The fantastic folk over at DNA-Rainbow have rendered the entire DNA code in audio form and are livestreaming it from their site 24/7. It's not a sound file or a download, it's a live broadcast (thinking about it, probably the "livest" thing ever to be broadcast) of a computer reading out the code, and at three characters per second it will take twenty three and a half years to complete. It will run all the time until 2032. That's how much information is carried in almost every cell in your body.

When memes collide

First Christian UFO-alien symposium

The aliens may indeed be fallen angels.

The very first Christian symposium on aliens will address this idea July 3-5, organized by Guy Malone, author and co-founder of Alien Resistence - an organization that studies Biblical ideas on the UFO and alien abduction phenomena.

Malone's "In a Nutshell" web page at alienresistence.org walks readers through a quick explanation - citting Biblical chapter and verse.

"The Bible contains relevant information about what many believe to be a recent phenomenon, that neither most modern churches, nor most modern ufologists, are well informed about," Malone says on his web site.

Scoff if you must, but I think one would be foolish to casually dismiss the mythological similarities between "angels" and "aliens." I tend to doubt that either label reflects a genuine understanding of the archetypal contact experience; perhaps we are all blind men examining different parts of the same elephant.


A concise -- if rather graphic -- introduction to the relationship between cyborgs and the media.

One wonders if, sometime in the future, video-equipped eyes will be as common as Bluetooth headsets.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

What ever happened to good old-fashioned silver jumpsuits?

Worst Dressed Grays List

I've seen worse.


Action Needed To Avoid World Water Crisis, U.N. Says

By 2030, nearly half of the world's people will be living in areas of acute water shortage, said a report jointly produced by more than two dozen U.N. bodies and issued ahead of a major conference on water to be held in Istanbul next week.

The report, "Water in a Changing World," made "clear that urgent action is needed if we are to avoid a global water crisis," said a foreword by Koichiro Matsuura, head of the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

How quickly we forget.

In our rush to appraise the merits of the alleged "stick figure aliens," it's all-too-easy to overlook oddities from the past -- in this case, a cartoon-like humanoid supposedly captured in a cellphone photo in 2006:

The purpose of this post isn't to suggest the clumsy-looking beings in question are real or unreal, but to underscore the inherently amnesiac nature of online Forteana, in which "mysteries" are created and forgotten with alarming rapidity.

(Greg Bishop reminisces about the "gumboid" above in a new post at UFOMystic, which in turn references a post here at Posthuman Blues.)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

"Seeking Solace in the Abyss"

For those interested, my new "Loving the Alien" column has been posted.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Wait -- isn't this from a Bruce Sterling novel?

Airborne microbots to create wi-fi zones in disaster situations

Autonomous flying quadcopter robots built from off-the-shelf parts in €300 kits (US$380), could establish radio networks for phones and wireless Internet in disaster zones. The system is being developed by German researchers at the Ilmenau University of Technology, which is seeking phD students to assist with the project.

When infrastructure is damaged or destroyed, it's vital that people are able to access information or call for help, and that teams on the ground can communicate efficiently. The quadcopter bots could provide ad-hoc, temporary networks for communication more quickly than technicians on the ground.

But you already knew this.

Sea Levels Rising Faster Than Expected: Scientists

The U.N.'s climate change panel may be severely underestimating the sea-level rise caused by global warming, climate scientists said on Monday, calling for swift cuts in greenhouse emissions.

"The sea-level rise may well exceed one meter (3.28 feet) by 2100 if we continue on our path of increasing emissions," said Stefan Rahmstorf, professor at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. "Even for a low emission scenario, the best estimate is about one meter."

Here's an idea: Let's start planning an infrastructure for climate refugees now instead of transplanting the burden onto our children's generation. That goes double for those of us like me, who will probably be around to see at least some of the fireworks.

Desktop publishing gets funky.

A CGI desktop printer achieves rudimentary sentience and undergoes a Cronenbergian metamorphosis:

(Hat tip to Greg Bishop.)

Any basement gene-hackers reading this?

Will Jurassic Park Ever Really Come True?

Famed paleontologist Jack Horner says that if you want to grow a dinosaur, you have to start with a chicken egg. As descendants of dinos, chickens carry some of the same DNA. So if chicken embryos have their genes reversed-engineered for every trait that they share with dinosaurs -- like long tails, teeth, and three-fingered hands -- you can grow living animals with dinosaur traits.

(Via The Keyhoe Report.)


Another mystery boom wakes people in region

A second loud boom may have rattled windows in parts of Rockland County yesterday - and its origin remains as mysterious as the explosive noise that blew through southern Westchester County over the weekend.

"It was about 5:15 a.m., and it woke up the whole house," said Nanuet resident Keith Wallenstein. "The house was shaking. It sounded like someone had flown an F-16 over the house."

Probably those damned stick-like aliens out taking joy-rides.

Monday, March 09, 2009

"Stick figure" aliens on the prowl

Whitley Strieber's Unknown Country offers the following for our consideration:

Similar Videos Suggest Proof of Aliens (with video)

Because it is no longer possible to definitively conclude that any digital video is authentic, we cannot confirm the authenticity of these videos. However, the extremely bizarre nature of the figures and the way they move are so strange, and so completely unlike anything that has ever been offered before as "alien video," the suggestion is strong that these are real images of unknown bipedal creatures, whose body morphology is so radically different from what has evolved on earth that the conclusion is almost inescapable that they are aliens.

For whatever it's worth, Strieber comments further here.

I'm naturally leery of videos supposedly depicting aliens, and the footage cited by Strieber is no exception. The overwhelming likelihood is that we're looking at computer-generated effects.

But if not . . .

(Incidentally, Strieber is now using Twitter.)

Homeless robot

A humorous ad featuring a robot who probably wishes the Singularity hadn't hit.

(Thanks, Elan!)

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Mummified mystery

Speaking of mummies . . .

Monster mummies of Japan

Lurking the halls of Buddhist temples and museums across Japan are a host of monster mummies -- the preserved remains of demons, mermaids, kappa, tengu, raijū, and even human monks. Here are a few remarkable specimens for the adventurous and brave at heart.

The best movie I've seen all year

This film festival continues . . .

World Builder from Bruce Branit on Vimeo.

(Hat tip to Beyond the Beyond.)


It's all in how you look at things.

(Found at Centauri Dreams.)

"The Black Hole"

This short film is surpassingly clever.

Saturday, March 07, 2009


David Gibbs against robot love

At an anti-gay marriage rally Tuesday in Raleigh, North Carolina, David Gibbs III, the Christian fundamentalist lawyer who fought to keep brain-damaged Terry Schiavo on life support in 2005, publicly expressed his deep-seated fear of machine love.


Remember the "iceman"? If not, this should refresh your memory.


Friday, March 06, 2009

Reprogramming cells

We can't regenerate organs yet, but it seems we're on the right track.

Skin condition

Birthmarks Tattoo

As the name suggests, Birthmark Tattoos, are fake - but permanent - birthmarks that you can add to your body. Aside from its decorative potential, birthmark tattoos makes it possible for your and your partner to 'exchange' birthmarks or to imprint your body with a secret message in braille.

(Via Next Nature.)


Haunting photographs of a ruinous post-Chernobyl landscape.

The Ceres solution*

Life on Ceres: Could the Dwarf Planet be the Root of Panspermia?

You may be forgiven in thinking that the search for life in the Solar System has gone a little crazy, after all, we haven't found life anywhere else apart from our own planet. However, if we do discover life on other planetary bodies apart from Earth, perhaps the panspermia hypothesis is more than just an academic curiosity. So why is Ceres suddenly so interesting? Firstly, it probably has water. Secondly, the ex-asteroid is so small that fragments of Ceres could have been kicked into space by meteorite impacts more readily than other larger planetary bodies, making it a prime candidate for seeding life on Earth . . .

*"The Ceres Solution" is a novel by the late Bob Shaw.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Retrospective #2

Feedback loop

A Drying Amazon Could Speed Climate Change

Co-author Dan Nepstad, a forest ecologist from the Moore Foundation in San Francisco, suggests that it may be climate warming that's causing the Amazon to dry up. He says some climatologists think "the warming of the northern tropical Atlantic of 2005 may have been more intense because of global warming." And that warming is believed to have shifted hotter, drier air over the Amazon.

(Via The Keyhoe Report.)


From oil rig to luxury eco-resort

The old rig would be transformed from environmental hazard into something of an environmental savior through the use of wind, wave and solar power, all easily integrated into the existing structure.

"The big idea is that an icon of non-renewable energy will be powered by totally clean and renewable power," said Douglas Oliver, Director of Design at Morris Architects.

Even if this idea fails, I like the concept. Repurposed structures are the best kind.

Going, going, gone

Arctic Summer Ice Could Vanish By 2013: Expert

The Arctic is warming up so quickly that the region's sea ice cover in summer could vanish as early as 2013, decades earlier than some had predicted, a leading polar expert said on Thursday.

Warwick Vincent, director of the Center for Northern Studies at Laval University in Quebec, said recent data on the ice cover "appear to be tracking the most pessimistic of the models", which call for an ice free summer in 2013.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Image jazz

(Thanks to Uncertain Times.)

The postcapitalist imperative

Time to end the multigenerational Ponzi scheme (Kim Stanley Robinson)

Does the word postcapitalism look odd to you? It should, because you hardly ever see it. We have a blank spot in our vision of the future. Perhaps we think that history has somehow gone away. In fact, history is with us now more than ever, because we are at a crux in the human story. Choosing not to study a successor system to capitalism is an example of another kind of denial, an ostrich failure on the part of the field of economics and of business schools, I think, but it’s really all of us together, a social aporia or fear. We have persistently ignored and devalued the future -- as if our actions are not creating that future for our children, as if things never change. But everything evolves. With a catastrophe bearing down on us, we need to evolve at nearly revolutionary speed.

(Via Beyond the Beyond.)

"We have the technology."

Bionic eye gives blind man sight

Ron, who has not revealed his surname, told the BBC: "For 30 years I've seen absolutely nothing at all, it's all been black, but now light is coming through. Suddenly to be able to see light again is truly wonderful.

"I can actually sort out white socks, grey socks and black socks."

"My one ambition at the moment is to be able to go out on a nice, clear evening and be able to pick up the moon."

(Via Futurismic.)

Triptych #6