Monday, December 28, 2009

Viewing video: Did the UK military shoot down UFOs ?

A Fox News segment in which Nick Pope is asked about the MoD and UFOs.

Viewing video: And finally tonight... Jesus

A series of segments from news networks on the topic of images of Jesus appearing in unusual places.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Nick Redfern on alien big cats

Now and again, I get asked if government agencies take an interest in reports of strange creatures roaming the countryside – in much the same way that, for many years, official departents have investigated other forms of anomalous phenomena, such as UFOs. Well, the answer is “Yes,” there have indeed been such studies undertaken. As just one of many examples, consider the following.

Early in 1998, the British Government’s House of Commons held a debate on the existence – or otherwise – of a particular breed of mystery animal that is widely rumored, and even accepted by many, to inhabit the confines of the British Isles: the so-called Alien Big-Cats, or ABCs, as they have become known. It scarcely needs mentioning that Britain is not home to an indigenous species of large cat. Nevertheless, for decades amazing stories have circulated from all across the nation of sightings of large, predatory cats that feed on livestock and terrify, intrigue and amaze the local populace.

Indeed, there now exists a very large and credible body of data in support of the notion that Britain does have in its midst a thriving population of presently unidentified large cats – such as the infamous “Beast of Bodmin” and “Beast of Exmoor” that so dominated the nation’s newspapers back in the early-to-mid 1980s.

Documentation that followed the February 2, 1998 debate in the controversy in the House of Commons began with a statement from Mr. Keith Simpson, the Member of Parliament for mid-Norfolk: “Over the past twenty years, there has been a steady increase in the number of sightings of big cats in many parts of the United Kingdom. These are often described as pumas, leopards or panthers. A survey carried out in 1996 claimed sightings of big cats in 34 English counties.”

Many of the sightings, Simpson continued, had been reported in his constituency by people out walking dogs or driving down country roads, often at dawn or dusk. Frequently the description given fitted that of a puma or leopard. Simpson also added that in a number of incidents it had been claimed that ewes, lambs, and even horses had been attacked – and in some cases killed – by the marauding beasts.

Simpson elaborated further: “A number of distinguished wildlife experts have suggested that some pumas or leopards could have been released into the countryside when the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 made it illegal to own such animals without a licence. They would have been able to roam over a wide area of countryside, live off wild or domestic animals and possibly breed. So what is to be done?”

Simpson had a few ideas: “I should like to suggest two positive measures for the Minister to consider. At national and local levels, it is logical that the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food should be the lead Government Department for coordinating the monitoring of evidence concerning big cats.”

In response, Elliot Morley, at the time the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, admitted that there was a valid issue that needed addressing. He said: “The Ministry’s main responsibility on big cats is confined to whether the presence of a big cat poses a threat to the safety of livestock. The Ministry is aware that a total of 16 big cats have escaped into the wild since 1977. They include lions, tigers, leopards, jaguars and pumas, but all but two animals were at large for only one day.”

Morley expanded: “Because there is a risk that big cats can escape into the wild and because of the threat that such animals could pose to livestock, the Ministry investigates each report in which it is alleged that livestock have been attacked. Reports to the Ministry are usually made by the farmers whose animals have been attacked. In addition, the Ministry takes note of articles in the press describing big cat incidents and will consider them if there is evidence that livestock are at risk.”

On receipt of a report of a big cat, explained Morley, the Ministry would ask the Farming and Rural Conservation Agency – the Ministry’s wildlife advisers – to contact the person who reported the sighting, as he explained:

“The FRCA will discuss the situation with the farmer and seek to establish whether the sighting is genuine and whether any evidence can be evaluated. It will follow up all cases where there is evidence of a big cat that can be corroborated and all cases where it is alleged that livestock are being taken.

“The FRCA will consider all forms of evidence, including photographs given to it by members of the public and farmers, plaster casts of paw prints and video footage. In addition, it will carry out field investigations of carcasses of alleged kills for field signs of the animals responsible.”

In conclusion, Morley stated: “It is impossible to say categorically that no big cats are living wild in Britain, so it is only right and proper that the Ministry should continue to investigate serious claims of their existence – but only when there is a threat to livestock and when there is clear evidence that can be validated. I am afraid that, until we obtain stronger evidence, the reports of big cats are still in the category of mythical creatures.”
Of course, many of those British citizens who have seen big-cats roaming the countryside would perhaps strongly argue with the notion that these beasts are merely mythical in nature…

Friday, December 18, 2009

Video from Norway investigating the Hessedalen UFO phenomenon.

Group release images of "Atlantis" ruins

Lost city of Atlantis discovered? Grainy images show city-like formations at the bottom of the Caribbean

A group of 'undersea archaeologists' have become the latest to claim they have uncovered the lost city of Atlantis.

The scientists - who have refused to identify themselves - have released a series of images taken beneath the Caribbean.

They insist the snaps show what appear to be the ruins of a city that could pre-date Egypt's pyramids, which appeared after 2600BC.

They even told a French newspaper that one of the structures appears to be a pyramid.

Now the anonymous group wants to raise funds to explore the secret location where the images were taken.

They would not reveal the exact location, however, saying only that it was somewhere in the Caribbean Sea.

The claims have raised eyebrows on the internet, though sceptics refrained from debunking them entirely - just in case.

The legend of Atlantis, a city of astonishing wealth, knowledge and power that sank beneath the ocean waves, has fascinated millions.

Time and time again hopes have been raised that the lost city has been found - only for those hopes to be dashed against the evidence (or lack thereof).

Its location - or at least the source of the legend - remained a tantalising mystery.

In 2004 an American architect used sonar to reveal man-made walls a mile deep in the Mediterranean between Cyprus and Syria.

In 2007 Swedish researchers claimed the city lay on the Dogger Bank in the North Sea, which was submerged in the Bronze Age.

And as recently as February of this year, what appeared to be grid-like lines that resembled city streets were spotted on Google Earth - in the ocean off the coast of Africa.

Sadly Google itself quickly debunked the suggestion, explaining that the lines were left by a boat as it collected data for the application.

'Bathymetric (sea-floor) data is often collected from boats using sonar to take measurements of the sea-floor,' a spokesman said.

'The lines reflect the path of the boat as it gathers the data.'

Sunday, December 13, 2009

UK’s Vista telescope sheds new light on Milky Way and beyond

A new telescope designed by British scientists has released its first images, revealing spectacular views of both the Milky Way and distant galaxies.

The stunning pictures of the Flame Nebula, the centre of the Milky Way and the Fornax Galaxy Cluster show that Vista — the Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy — is working well.

Vista is the largest and most powerful telescope yet built for surveying the sky using infrared light, which allows it to peer through clouds of dust that obscure many celestial structures when viewed in the visible spectrum.

The telescope — which cost £37 million — at the European Southern Observatory’s (ESO) Paranal Observatory in Chile, was developed and built by a consortium of 18 British universities, and was formally handed over for operations this week.

Its image of the Flame Nebula, a star-forming cloud of gas and dust in the constellation Orion, shows off Vista’s capabilities particularly well. When observed with visible light, the Nebula’s core is hidden by dust, but infrared light has revealed the cluster of hot young stars at its heart.

A new image of the centre of the Milky Way, in the constellation Sagittarius, has been assembed from two Vista views, which have again penetrated opaque clouds to show about a million stars in a single picture.

The image of the Fornax Galaxy Cluster shows off Vista’s wide angle of view, which has allowed multiple galaxies to be seen in a single shot.

Vista, which sits adjacent to ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT), will be used to study the nature and distribution of stars and galaxies of different types, as well as the underlying structure of the Universe.

It will also investigate the mysterious “dark matter” and “dark energy” that are known to make up much of the Universe’s mass, but which have not yet been directly observed.

Professor Jim Emerson, of Queen Mary, University of London, who leads the Vista consortium, said its most exciting discoveries would probably be unanticipated. “History has shown us that the most exciting things that come out of projects like Vista are what you least expect — and I’m very excited to see what these will be,” he said.

Lord Drayson, the Science and Innovation Minister, said: “This outstanding example of UK kit is revealing our Universe’s deepest secrets. I eagerly await more images from Vista, which builds on our reputation as a world-leading centre for astronomy.”

Professor Tim de Zeeuw, director-general of ESO, said: “Vista is a unique addition to ESO’s observatory on Cerro Paranal. It will play a pioneering role in surveying the southern sky at infrared wavelengths and will find many interesting targets for study by the future European Extremely Large Telescope.”

Professor Keith Mason, chief executive of the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), which funds the Vista collaboration, said: “This innovative telescope will help to reveal some of the deepest secrets of the Universe like the nature of dark matter and dark energy.”

Professor John Womersley, director of science programmes at STFC, said: “The handover of Vista marks a major milestone for UK astronomy, strengthens our relationship with ESO and enhances our capabilities in an area of science where the UK has a particular strength.”

India Scientist detects sign on life on MOON

Bangalore: Scientists at the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) are on the brink of a path-breaking discovery. They may have found signs of life in some form or the other on the Moon.

They believe so because scientific instruments on India's first unmanned lunar mission, Chandrayaan-1, picked up signatures of organic matter on parts of the Moon's surface, Surendra Pal, associate director, Isro Satellite Centre (Isac), said at the international radar symposium here on Friday.

Organic matter consists of organic compounds, which consists of carbon -- the building block of life.

It indicates the formation of life or decay of a once-living matter.

Pal said the signatures were relayed back to the Bylalu deep space network station near Bangalore by the mass spectrometer on board the Indian payload, the moon impact probe (MIP), on November 14, 2008.

The relay of data happened moments before it crashed near the Moon's south pole. The MIP was the first experiment of the Chandrayaan-1 mission, which was launched on October 22, 2008.

Pal, however, did not elaborate, but concluded saying "the findings are being analysed and scrutinised for validation by Isro scientists and peer reviewers".

"It is too early to say anything," said the director of Isro's space physics laboratory R Sridharan, who is heading the team of MIP data analysis and study. He, however, did not deny the finding.

DNA later inquired with other senior Chandrayaan-1 mission scientists, who not only confirmed the finding, but gave further details.

"Certain atomic numbers were observed that indicated the presence of carbon components. This indicates the possibility of the presence of organic matter (on the Moon)," a senior scientist told DNA.

Interestingly, similar observations were made by the US's first manned Moon landing mission, the Apollo-11, in July 1969, which brought lunar soil samples back to Earth. But due to a lack of sophisticated equipment then, the scientists could not confirm the finding.

However, traces of amino acids, which are basic to life, were found in the soil retrieved by the Apollo-11 astronauts.

The Chandrayaan-1 scientists, at present, are analysing the source of origin of the Moon's organic matter. "It could be comets or meteorites which have deposited the matter on the Moon's surface; or the instrument that landed on the Moon could have left traces," a senior space scientist said.

"But the presence of large sheets of ice in the polar regions of the Moon, and the discovery of water molecules there, lend credence to the possibility of organic matter there," he said.

Viewing video: Nick Pope on Fox News

An interview with former MoD UFO department head Nick Pope on Fox News.

Viewing video: James Randi on homeopathy

In this short video James Randi explains homeopathy. This is a portion of the lecture Randi gave at Princeton in 2001.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Norway's mysterious spiral blue light display: Was it a failed Russian Bulava missile test? Read more:

By Mail Foreign Service
Last updated at 11:18 AM on 10th December 2009

What's blue and white, squiggly and suddenly appears in the sky?

If you know the answer, pop it on a postcard and send it to the people of Norway, where this mysterious light display baffled residents yesterday.

Speculation was increasing today that the display was the result of an embarrassing failed test launch of a jinxed new Russian missile.

The Bulava missile was test-fired from the Dmitry Donskoi submarine in the White Sea early on Wednesday but failed at the third stage, say newspapers in Moscow today.

This emerged despite earlier reports denying a missile launch yesterday. Even early today there was no formal confirmation from the Russian Defence Ministry.

The light appears to be unconnected with the aurora borealis, or northern lights, the natural magnetic phenomena that can often be viewed in that part of the world.

The mystery began when a blue light seemed to soar up from behind a mountain in the north of the country. It stopped mid-air, then began to move in circles. Within seconds a giant spiral had covered the entire sky.

Then a green-blue beam of light shot out from its centre - lasting for ten to 12 minutes before disappearing completely.

Onlookers describing it as 'like a big fireball that went around, with a great light around it' and 'a shooting star that spun around and around'.

Yesterday a Norwegian defence spokesman said the display was most likely from a failed Russian test launch.

Tromsō Geophysical Observatory researcher Truls Lynne Hansen agreed, saying the missile had likely veered out of control and exploded, and the spiral was light reflecting on the leaking fuel.

But last night Russia denied it had been conducting missile tests in the area.

A Moscow news outlet quoted the Russian Navy as denying any rocket launches from the White Sea area.

Norway should be informed of such launches under international agreements, it was stressed.

However this morning media reports claimed a missile had indeed been launched from the White Sea. Test firings are usually made from the White Sea, close to the Norwegian Arctic region.

Kommersant newspaper reported today that a test-firing before dawn on Wednesday coincided with the light show in the northern sky.

It also emerged today that Russia last week formally notified Norway of a window when a missile test might be carried out.

This included a seven hour period early on Wednesday at the time when the lights were seen.

The submarine Dmitry Donskoy went to sea on Monday, ahead of the test, and some reports suggest the vessel is now back in port.

A Russian military source said today that 'the third stage of the rocket did not work'.

The Russian Defence Ministry, with characteristic secrecy, has so far been unavailable for comment.

A Bulava missile is fired from a submarine in this undated file photo. Russia has yet to confirm if a similar test launch was behind the mystery lights seen over Norway yesterday

A Bulava missile is fired from a submarine in this undated file photo. Russia has yet to confirm if a similar test launch was behind the mystery lights seen over Norway yesterday

The Bulava, despite being crucial to Russia's plans to revamp its weaponry, is becoming an embarrassment after nine failed launches in 13 tests, prompting calls for it to be scrapped.

In theory, it has a range of 5,000 miles and could carry up to ten nuclear weapons bound for separate targets.

A previous failure in July forced the resignation of Yury Solomonov, the director of the Moscow Institute of Thermal Technology which is responsible for developing the missile.

However, he is now working as chief designer on the jinxed project.

The Norwegian Meteorological Institute was flooded with telephone calls after the light storm yesterday morning.

Totto Eriksen, from Tromsø, told VG Nett: 'It spun and exploded in the sky,'

He spotted the lights as he walked his daughter Amalie to school.

He said: 'We saw it from the Inner Harbor in Tromsø. It was absolutely fantastic.

'It almost looked like a rocket that spun around and around and then went diagonally down the heavens.

'It looked like the moon was coming over the mountain, but then came something completely different.'

Celebrity astronomer Knut Jørgen Røed Ødegaard said he had never seen anything like the lights.

He said: 'My first thought was that it was a fireball meteor, but it has lasted far too long.

'It may have been a missile in Russia, but I can not guarantee that it is the answer.'

Air traffic control in Tromsō claimed the light show lasted 'far too long to be an astronomical phenomenon'.

Saudi Arabia to execute TV psychic

n the United States, television psychics are merely mocked. In Saudi Arabia, they are executed.

The Saudi Arabian government is planning to execute Lebanese television psychic Ali Sibat. Sibat was found guilty of witchcraft by a Saudi court in November, a crime which carries the death sentence.

It appears that Sibat was targeted for arrest and trial while visiting Saudi Arabia for the Hajj. Saudi Arabia’s special religious police, the Mutaween, grabbed him out of his hotel room and placed the host in custody. Sibat was then tried on charges related to his satellite television show:

Before his arrest, Sibat frequently gave advice on general life questions and predictions about the future on the Lebanese satellite television station Sheherazade, according to the Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar and the French newspaper Le Monde.

According to Sibat’s supporters in Lebanon, he was denied a lawyer at his trial and “tricked” into making a confession. Sibat’s Lebanese lawyer, May al-Khansa, stated that the television psychic was told he would be deported to Lebanon if he confessed to witchcraft. Instead, Saudi lawyers used Sibat’s confession as proof he deserved the death penalty.

Saudi Arabia routinely sentences foreigners to the death penalty. Additionally, death sentences are usually carried out through public executions — mainly in the infamous Chop-Chop Square.

Unfortunately for Sibat, Saudi Arabian authorities have refused to define what they call “witchcraft,” “sorcery” or “charlatanry.” Saudi Arabia lacks a penal code outside of sharia and judges are given wide latitude in defining criminal acts.

Activist group Human Rights Watch trawled the Saudi press and found other examples of a literal witch hunt taking place in the country:

Saudi newspaper Al-Madina reported on November 15 that a lower court in Jeddah started the trial of a Saudi man arrested by the religious police and said to have smuggled a book of witchcraft into the kingdom. On October 19, Saudi newspaper Okaz reported that the religious police in Ta’if had arrested for “sorcery” and “charlatanry” an Asian man who was accused of using supernatural powers to solve marital disputes and induce falling in love. [...]

In February 2008, Human Rights Watch protested the 2006 “discretionary” conviction and sentencing to death for witchcraft of Fawza Falih, a Saudi citizen. Minister of Justice Abdullah Al al-Shaikh responded that Human Rights Watch had a preconceived Western notion of shari’a, but did not answer the organization’s questions about Falih’s arbitrary arrest, coerced confession, unfair trial, and wrongful conviction. She remains on death row in Quraiyat prison, close to the border with Jordan, and is reportedly in bad health.

The Los Angeles Times reports that the 51-year-old Falih was given the death penalty after a man accused her of making him impotent. A Saudi court in the northern town of Quraiyat determined that Falih had practiced witchcraft, consorted with djinn and slaughtered animals in an effort to make the man impotent. According to Saudi authorities, her death was for “the benefit of ‘public interest’ and to ‘protect the creed, souls and property of [Saudi Arabia].’ ” Interestingly, documents surrounding the Falih case indicate that she is a foreigner — a Jordanian — who also got caught up in the Saudi witch hunt.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Viewing video: Apollo 11 in orbit

Apollo 11 - Aldrin describes surface color characteristics from Lunar orbit

Viewing video: Why we believe in gods

Andy Thomson gives his talk titled 'Why We Believe in Gods' at the American Atheist 2009 convention in Atlanta, Georgia.

Viewing video: Norway UFO footage

An unknown filmmaker shoots footage of mysterious objects in the sky over Norway

Friday, December 4, 2009

Viewing video: Albert Ostman bigfoot capture

BFGTV presents Albert Ostman talking about how he was kidnapped in 1924 by a family of Bigfoot on Vancouver Island, British Columbia.

Viewing video: Double slit experiment

Dr Quantum explains the mysteries of the double slit experiment.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Venomous Aussie redback spiders invading Japan

AFP - Wednesday, November 25

TOKYO (AFP) - – Australia's venomous redback spiders are on the march in Japan, where they are believed to have arrived years ago as stowaways on cargo ships, a wildlife expert warned Wednesday.

The creepy-crawlies, named after their fiery markings, have infested the Osaka region and are drawing closer to the capital Tokyo, said Japan Wildlife Research Centre official Toshio Kishimoto.

A dozen people have reportedly been bitten in Osaka prefecture alone, media reports say, including a six-year-old boy who was treated with antivenom in June, the first time the medication had been used in the country.

"Their poison is strong and they are particularly dangerous to people in weak physical condition, like children and the elderly," Kishimoto told AFP.

"Redbacks are becoming a common species in Japan. They are very numerous, especially in the western region, and are now often sighted in residential areas.... Once the spiders spread, it's hard to eliminate them."

Redback bites, which inject a potent neurotoxin, have caused numerous deaths in Australia, although an antivenom stocked in hospitals has prevented fatalities more recently.

Redbacks were first spotted in Japan in 1995, around Osaka, a major port where, experts believe, they may have arrived in a container of Australian woodchips used to make paper in Japan.

Several years ago a major redback infestation was found in the street drainage system of the city, and the arachnids have now spread to prefectures covering roughly a third of the country.

In one case, a man moving from Osaka north to the Tokyo region by car unknowingly took a redback spider with him after the animal had latched onto the vehicle, the wildlife researcher said.

He said Japanese people must become more aware of the dangers of redbacks, a species long feared in Australia, where the creatures are known to lurk in garden sheds, in shoes left outdoors, and under toilet seats.

"People need to be warned on how to treat them, and to be careful when they're out cleaning ditches, and to wear thick cotton gloves for example," said Kishimoto.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Viewing video: Labyrinth of Egypt

Must see video about the recently found legendary Labyrinth of Egypt. Could this be the most important discovery in human history?

Viewing video: Starchild skull - Lloyd Pye

Lloyd Pie speaks on Coast to Coast am about the famous Starchild skull.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Paranormal Activity Deleted Scenes

Scientists under fire in climate change 'cover-up' scandal

A leading British climate scientist has come under pressure to resign over a series of leaked e-mails, which global warming sceptics say point to a mass conspiracy. The scandal erupted after a research server was hacked into, and private e-mails and documents were released, suggesting that scientists may have colluded to prevent the release of climate data.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Viewing video: Michio Kaku: physics of invisibility

Michio Kaku talks a bit about the possibility of technology capable of making someone invisible.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Viewing video: STS-61 UFO

An unidentified object flies over the space shuttle during the STS-61 mission.

Viewing video: Weird creature in Panama

CNN covers this story from earlier this year, a strange creature was found in Panama.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Twitter Seance reached departed pop star?

Twitter users have attempted to speak to departed pop stars in the world's first seance on the social networking site.

The move was a paranormal publicity stunt by a fancy dress shop in London ahead of Hallowe'en

The shop, Angels Fancy Dress, let Tweeters vote on who they wanted to contact and the final list was made up of Michael Jackson, Kurt Cobain, William Shakespeare and River Phoenix.

Tweeters taking part chose questions for the foursome and their 'answers' were tweeted online.

The seance was run by psychic Jayne Wallace, who allegedly contacted the spirit of Jade Goody - who died in March this year - for her mother Jackiey Budden.

Ms Wallace reported that Jade wanted to apologise to her mother for not listening to her about marrying Jack Tweed, saying it was the "biggest mistake she ever made".

Michael Jackson was said to be singing when Ms Wallace made contact. He later "tweeted" he should have asked for help but he was now at peace.

During the Twitter seance, River Phoenix was said to have apologised to his family for the way he died and claimed his brother was the better actor.

Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain allegedly caused Ms Wallace physical pain before saying he was sorry drugs destroyed him.

The tweance failed to reach William Shakespeare.

A spokesman for Angels Fancy Dress said: "We've been amazed by the response we've had to this. We stopped counting at around 4,000 responses.

"And most people have been very positive.

"Jayne Wallace is very well respected in her profession and we thought that this, as well as being a world first, would be a good way of allowing people to interact with their heroes."

:: In other Halloween-related news, a black cat called Tiny from Edgware in London has been appointed the official cat of the Wookey Hole Witch.

To see a picture of Tiny log on to

Sting claims he once confronted a ghost

Sting has claimed he once confronted a ghost which wandered into his room at the dead of night.

The singer, who famously sang Spirits In The Material World in the 1980s, said wife Trudie Styler also witnessed the figure, standing with a child in the corner of their bedroom.

Sting said he also experienced flying objects and mysterious voices in one of his homes in an interview to be played on Radio 2.

He said: ''I would never have said I believe in ghosts, until I saw one - and I've seen a ghost with my own eyes.''

The musician, whose former band The Police recorded an album Ghost In The Machine, continued: ''I was in bed one night, a very old house I used to live in. And I woke up at three in the morning, bolt upright, looked into the corner of the room and thought I saw Trudie standing there with a child - our child - in her arms, staring at me.

''And I thought 'well, that's strange - why is she standing in a corner, staring at me?'. And I then reached next to me and there was Trudie, and I suddenly got this terrible chill. And she woke up and said 'Gosh, who is that?' and she saw this woman and a child in the corner of the room.''

Sting told presenter Claudia Winkleman, in an interview to be broadcast on Friday night at 10pm, that the figure simply disappeared.

He added: ''A lot of things happened in that house, a lot of flying objects and voices and strange, strange things happened.

''When you live in old houses you get this energy there. Intellectually, no I don't believe in them (ghosts), but I've experienced them on an emotional level.''

Could Jupiter Moon Harbor Fish-Size Life?

Video: Hydrothermal Vents on Earth

Victoria Jaggard
National Geographic News
November 16, 2009

In the oceans of a moon hundreds of millions of miles from the sun, something fishy may be alive—right now.

Below its icy crust Jupiter's moon Europa is believed to host a global ocean up to a hundred miles (160 kilometers) deep, with no land to speak of at the surface. (See "Jupiter Moon Has Violent, Hidden Oceans, Study Suggests.")

And the extraterrestrial ocean is currently being fed more than a hundred times more oxygen than previous models had suggested, according to provocative new research.

That amount of oxygen would be enough to support more than just microscopic life-forms: At least three million tons of fishlike creatures could theoretically live and breathe on Europa, said study author Richard Greenberg of the University of Arizona in Tucson.

(Related: "Did Rising Oxygen Levels Fuel Mammal Evolution?")

"There's nothing saying there is life there now," said Greenberg, who presented his work last month at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society's Division for Planetary Sciences. "But we do know there are the physical conditions to support it."

In fact, based on what we know about the Jovian moon, parts of Europa's seafloor should greatly resemble the environments around Earth's deep-ocean hydrothermal vents, said deep-sea molecular ecologist Timothy Shank.

"I'd be shocked if no life existed on Europa," said Shank, of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, who was not involved in the new study.

Despite the promising new estimates, it's too early to do more than speculate about how Europan life might have evolved. A closer look—perhaps by a NASA orbiter now in development—will be needed to tell exactly how chemicals are distributed on Europa and how the moon's geologic history might have contributed to life's chances.

Europa's Shiny New Coat

Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei discovered Europa in 1610. But it wasn't until Galileo, the NASA spacecraft, reached the Jupiter system in 1995 that scientists were able to study the moon in detail.

What the Galileo probe found was so exciting that NASA deliberately crashed the spacecraft into Jupiter in 2003 to prevent the craft from contaminating one of its own discoveries: the salty, subsurface ocean on Europa. Although the probe didn't see the ocean directly, scientists are pretty sure it's there, based on the age, composition, and structure of the moon's icy surface.

For instance, pictures of the moon's bright surface suggest it's relatively young, said the University of Arizona's Greenberg, author of Unmasking Europa: The Search for Life on Jupiter's Ocean Moon.

Europa, like the other planets and moons in our solar system, is more than four billion years old. But a relative lack of impact craters implies that the icy crust is just 50 million years old. "It's an entirely different surface now than it was at the time the dinosaurs went extinct on Earth," Greenberg said.

"Repaving" Sends Oxygen Steadily Downward?

Europa's smooth surface is marred only by dark, crisscrossing ridges that suggest the icy shell is being stretched and compressed by tidal forces.

"We're used to thinking of tides on Earth as something seen on the shore," Greenberg explained. But on a larger scale, gravity from the sun and moon constantly squishes and stretches Earth as a whole.

Europa, which is about as big as our moon, also gets tidally stretched, not by the sun but by the gravity of massive Jupiter.

The friction from all this tidal stretching probably heats Europa enough to maintain liquid water, Greenberg said—even though the Jovian moon is 483 million miles (778 million kilometers) from the sun.

The warmer ocean material may be oozing up through cracks in the ice and freezing on the surface at the same rate that older ice sinks and melts into the liquid interior.

This cycle of "repaving" would explain the young look of the surface ice—and would open the door for oxygen at the surface to permeate the subsurface ocean.

Oxygen is created when charged particles from Jupiter's magnetic field hit the ice. Given his estimates for the moon's rate of repaving, Greenberg thinks it would have taken one to two billion years for the first surface oxygen to reach the ocean below.

Time to Grow

A few million years after the ice-repaving process had started, oxygen levels in Europan seas reached their current levels—which exceed levels in Earth's oceans—Greenberg speculates.

This timeframe actually improves the chances that life as we know it took root on Europa. For starters, the most primitive life-forms need an absence of oxygen to form, Greenberg said.

"Oxygen tends to cause other molecules to come apart," he said, so genetic material such as DNA can't freely assemble with oxygen present.

"You need the delay so genetic material and structures can take shape," he said. "And then when oxygen arrives, organisms will at least have a fighting chance."

Similarly, a sudden abundance of oxygen can kill simple life-forms that aren't accustomed to the highly reactive element. But if oxygen is introduced slowly, creatures can evolve to tolerate it and even come to depend on it—a process thought to have happened on early Earth.

The Case Against Animals on Europa

Greenberg's generous estimate of oxygen in Europa's ocean—and the resulting speculation that fishlike creatures may exist there—depends on the surface repaving to have happened at a relatively stable rate, in this case, a complete renewal every 50 million years.

But planetary scientist Robert Pappalardo said the process may have been more intermittent, and therefore the oxygen level—and chance for fishlike life—lower.

"Maybe 50 million years ago it was churning away, and now it's slowed down and become much more sluggish," said Pappalardo, a senior research scientist with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

For example, Pappalardo said, Europa is gravitationally locked with its neighboring moon Io, which has an eccentric orbit around Jupiter. This means Io may be pushing and pulling on Europa in extreme cycles, resulting in periods of high and low tidal friction on Europa.

Even in this scenario, oxygen could reach the seas, though maybe not in quantities that would favor complex life-forms.

Since ice behaves like a fluid over long time frames (think glaciers), he said, surface elements could be reaching Europa's ocean via solid ice.

"Picture a lava lamp: Blobs of warmer material rise, and cooler blobs sink. It's just that in ice it might take a hundred thousand years for a blob to rise."

Meanwhile, if tidal activity on Europa comes in fits and starts, that would change the rates at which heat and nutrients from the rocky mantle become available, he said.

"Say there are microbes down there," Pappalardo added. "What would it mean for their evolution if every hundred thousand years there was much more heat and chemicals? It might lead to much more hardy organisms"—but not necessarily complex life.

Life's chances on Europa would also depend on whether tidal friction heats the moon all the way to its rocky core. If the solid core is in fact warm, he said, "then you may have black smokers pouring out heat and chemicals." If not, the dissolved nutrients needed to sustain life would be much more limited.

In fact, even with vast amounts of oxygen in the water, astrobiologist Cynthia Phillips of the SETI Institute said, it's unlikely for Europa to house anything bigger than microbes, given its probable amounts of life-supporting chemical nutrients.

"While it's really exciting to think of giant squid on Europa, there's not likely to be anything there that size," Phillips said.

Wanted: Ice-Penetrating, Swimming, Sniffing Spacecraft

For some scientists, though, the idea of at least microbial life on Europa is plausible enough that researchers, including Shank of Woods Hole, are already eyeing Earth's superheated hydrothermal vents as possible analogues.

Some microbes can thrive on the gases created from the chemicals spewed out by these vents. On Europa such chemicals could be the basis of a food chain that, with oxygen in the water, might support complex life.

One day spacecraft could be sent to Europa to penetrate the ice and explore the ocean, much as remotely operated vehicles sniff Earth's deep ocean for nutrients released by unseen hydrothermal vents, Shank said.

But first scientists would have to develop sensors that can probe for DNA, RNA, and other chemical signatures of life.

A submersible sent to Europa would also have to be made smaller, lighter, and with better battery life than existing models—while still being able to drill its own way through what may be miles of ice.

Robust communications capabilities would also be essential, Shank said. "It's no good to go down there and find life and not be able to tell anyone about it."

Mission: Europa

NASA's next step in exploring Europa, however, is more likely to be an orbiter—i.e., no undersea missions—proposed as part of a joint mission with the European Space Agency.

Such a mission, while desirable, would face a number of hurdles, SETI's Phillips noted. At their closest, Jupiter and its moons are roughly 365 million miles (588 million kilometers) from Earth, so getting there can take as long as five to six years with current technology.

At that distance, there's not enough sunlight for a solar-powered probe, so the craft would need to bring its own nuclear power source, Phillips said.

There's also the constant radiation from Jupiter's magnetosphere to contend with.

"If you want to orbit Europa, the radiation is [eventually] going to fry your spacecraft," Phillips said. "Once you finally get to Europa, you can hope to orbit for a couple months if you're lucky."

Pappalardo, the study scientist for the proposed Europa mission, said NASA's planned orbiter should be robust enough to last almost a year before succumbing to radiation or other environmental pressures.

Such a mission, he added, could find concrete evidence for complex life on Europa. But, he said, that's the optimistic view.

"The conservative view would be to ask: Is there enough chemical energy for organisms of any type to thrive?" Pappalardo said.

"It's not out of the question, but first let's go see what's there."

Nasa and Esa sign Mars agreement

The US and European space agencies have signed the "letter of intent" that ties together their Mars programmes.

The agreement, which was penned in Washington DC, gives the green light to scientists and engineers to begin the joint planning of Red Planet missions.

The union will start with a European-led orbiter in 2016, and continue with surface rovers in 2018, and then perhaps a network of landers in 2018.

The ultimate aim is a mission to return Mars rock and soils to Earth labs.

The Washington document was signed by the heads of the agencies, Nasa administrator Charles Bolden and Esa director-general Jean-Jacques Dordain.

The Mars Joint Exploration Initiative (Meji) has been under discussion for several months, with the key elements - covering scope, division of responsibility and financing - gradually falling into place. The letter of intent puts the initiative on a more formal footing.

The US and Europe have taken the view that they can achieve more together scientifically at the Red Planet if they combine their expertise.

And with both parties' current Mars programmes also experiencing financial pressures, the shared approach means the exploration schedule of a mission every two years can be maintained.

Esa's member states have already pledged 850m euros towards a Red Planet venture. They will need to take that figure up to about a billion euros to properly fund Meji activities.

The existence of this extra funding, and which European nations might provide it, will have to be established at a council meeting of the agency in mid-December (although the subscription opportunity will officially stay open until the end of the year).

"The important thing I think is that the member states have bought into the ideas; I'm not expecting any shocks," Professor David Southwood, Esa's director of science and robotics, told BBC News.

Professor Southwood has put together the joint initiative with his opposite number at Nasa, Dr Ed Weiler.

Their broad vision would encompass the following launch opportunities:

  • 2016: A European-led orbiter to study trace gases, including methane, in Mars' atmosphere. The mission would also put a static meteorological station on the surface. Critically, Europe would handle the entry, descent and landing (EDL) of this station - a capability it has yet to demonstrate.
  • 2018: European and American rovers would be despatched to Mars. The US would do the EDL.
  • 2020: "Under consideration" is a network of landers focused on geophysics and the environment.

Nasa will provide the launch rockets in 2016 and 2018.

The 2016 meteorological station would be smaller than the recent US Phoenix lander.

Europe will try to land it during what is expected to be the dust storm season, when Martian dirt is whipped into the sky.

Such storms can sometimes envelop the entire planet and change the characteristics of the atmosphere, making EDL far trickier.

"It will be a challenge but we think we know how to do it," said Professor Southwood.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Video Viewing : History Channel documentary about the year 2012 and what might happen.

Viewing video: Sleep paralysis with David Hufford

The Authority on sleep paralysis David J Hufford speaks openly about sleep paralysis, the raw footage is from the documentary Your Worst Nightmare.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

This video has some interesting information about Russian Cosmonaut UFO sightings.

This video has some interesting information about Russian Cosmonaut UFO sightings.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Joshua Kucera 11/09/09
Part 1 of a Series

According to legend, when Genghis Khan died in 1227 in what is now northern China, his lieutenants wanted to keep the death a secret from the Mongols’ enemies. So as the party accompanying his body made its way back to Mongolia, they killed every person they saw on the way - more than 20,000 - so news of the death wouldn’t spread. Then, when they buried Genghis, they either redirected a river to cover the site, or set horses to trample the ground so no trace would be seen, or killed all the people who buried him, and then killed those killers.

There is no hard evidence that any of those things happened. It may well be that they are after-the-fact embellishments designed to explain a remarkable circumstance of history: the location of Genghis’ tomb remains a mystery.

The Mongol Empire receded almost as fast as it spread -- a fact that may have played a big role in keeping Genghis’ final resting place a secret. For centuries, the people of Mongolia retained a traditional, nomadic lifestyle that left little time to contemplate the distant past. In the 20th century, the Soviet Union dominated Mongolia and, while it modernized the country, it feared Mongolian nationalism, and so discouraged any deep look into the nation’s history.

But the last 20 years have seen a burst of interest in Genghis Khan. Abroad, his reputation as a bloodthirsty barbarian has undergone a substantial revision, thanks in part to books like the bestselling Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World. Meanwhile, a new, high-budget museum exhibition is touring the United States that emphasizes some innovations developed by Genghis Khan, including intercontinental commerce, religious pluralism and meritocracy.

In Mongolia, Ghengis is revered to a degree approaching that of a deity. His image appears everywhere, including on a tapestry in Ulaanbaatar’s main monastery, as well as a statue in front of the parliament building. Ulaanbaatar’s airport and popular brands of beer and vodka are named after him.

Given the revival of his legacy, it’s not surprising that there has been an awakening of interest in finding his grave.

Since the collapse of Communism in 1991, two high-profile attempts have been mounted to find the grave. Both became mired in controversy.

The first was in the early 1990s, when the Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun sponsored an expedition that lasted four years and found the site of an early Mongol capital city, Avraga, and an intriguing circular structure three kilometers in circumference called the Almsgiver’s Wall. But it found no sign of Genghis’s tomb. The expedition did, however, engender suspicion among Mongolians, many of whom still believe the Japanese were in fact using Genghis as a pretext to secretly prospect for minerals.

Rumors also still circulate in Mongolia that the government, in an attempt to thwart the foreign expeditions, forbade the group from looking at Burkhan Kaldun, a mountain near the border with Russia where most scholars believe Genghis Khan is likely buried. It was on Burkhan Khaldun that, after his wife was kidnapped by rivals, Genghis prayed and received the revelation that he was to build an empire.

"Mongolians wouldn’t accept them finding the grave, because of our beliefs," said D. Tumen, the chair of the archeology department at the National University of Mongolia. "This was the first time that an international expedition was undertaken, and Mongolians [were] afraid they would destroy or steal some things from the grave, so they didn’t want them to be touched." Hard evidence of a government ban on exploration around Burkhan Khaldun has never surfaced, however.

The next major expedition was led by a retired commodities trader, Maury Kravitz, and a University of Chicago historian, John Woods. That expedition, too, did not look at Burkhan Kaldun, but at the Almsgiver’s Wall. Even so, the group was forced to end its research early, in 2002, after a former prime minister of Mongolia visited and wrote a public letter alleging that the Americans had desecrated the site by driving cars over it, constructing temporary buildings too close to the wall, and storing human remains unceremoniously in pans.

Now there is a new group intent on finding the grave. It is called the Valley of the Khans project, and started work last year. It is led by Albert Yu-Min Lin, a materials science expert at the University of California-San Diego with no archeological background. The front page of the project’s website features a quote from the 2004 book Genghis Khan, by John Man, which hints at the expectations of the team:

"Surely, it is widely assumed, the grave of the ruler of half Eurasia would rival that of Tutankhamun. In fact, the search is not just for one grave but for a whole necropolis, a Mongolian Valley of the Kings, where Genghis’s family and heirs ... must lie buried, along with wives, concubines, slaves, horses and Eternal Heaven knows what else of gold, jewelry, costumes and weapons the imagination can conjure up."

"If the grave exists and if it were ever found, it would create a revolution in archeology, scholarship, cash-flow and - since China claims Genghis as its own - international relations."

But the Valley of the Khans website doesn’t quote the next lines of Man’s book: "The discovery of the grave would signal the start of a feeding frenzy, attracting funds, most of them probably in dollars, to the delight of both the institutions that already exist and many more that would spring up overnight. Universities would rival tour companies for control of access, with the government acting as umpire, trying to seize a share of the inflow for the nation, and probably failing, given the current passion for privatization and the prevalence of bribery."

The potential for that sort of unseemly chaos around the resting place of Mongolia’s greatest hero has created deep misgivings in Mongolia about the search, and so while researchers close in on their goal and the answer to one of archeology’s great unanswered questions, another question is increasingly being asked in Mongolia: Should Genghis Khan’s grave be found?

Editor's Note: Joshua Kucera is a Washington, DC,-based freelance writer who specializes in security issues in Central Asia, the Caucasus and the Middle East.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Telekinesis revealed!

Is the straw moving by the power of telekinesis? If not, how does it move?

Science of Scam Video : Why We Believe?

Psychic Readings revealed!

Is the reader really psychic? If not, just how does she seem to know so much?

Viewing video 53:56 mins: UFOs: the best evidence - the visitors

Emmy winning journalist traces UFOs through history, includes sightings by the world's most famous people.

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