Saturday, July 26, 2014

Tesla's 'UFO'

Among the many apocryphal tinkerings of famed inventor Nikola Tesla, the most contentious might be his flying machine, which some sources claim was an ion-propelled vehicle that would fly without use of wings, ailerons, propellers, or an onboard fuel source. This craft would be light, fast, and likely not of any familiar design. Tesla believed this craft would fly by powering itself from electrical stations on the ground but without ever having to directly connect to them, remotely recharge, as it were. Some believe the shape of the craft would have been either cylindrical or saucer-like.

While Tesla's ruminations on the concept might not be in total dispute, the notion that he got very far with the concept is highly debatable. While there do seem to be unaccounted for patents in the vast trove of documents relating to Tesla's revolutionary work, there is little to suggest from attendant documents and the general work of his at the time that he was even looking in that direction in any serious sense.

One spurious report has it that work on such a device was begun in the late 1920s, being financed by the likes of J. P. Morgan and seeing fruition in 1938. Furthermore, wild speculation attributes WW2 foo fighter and later flying saucer sightings--nay, the entire UFO phenomenon--to this invention or some similar iteration.

If we look at Tesla's patents from the late 1920s, we see he was working on an interesting flying machine. However, a quick read reveals that his revolutionary device would have less in common with the Jetsons than with such vertical take-off vehicles such as the Osprey and Harrier employed by the USAF.

U.S. Patent 1,655,113 - Method of Aerial Transportation - 1928 January 3 - VTOL aeroplane; Describes a method of achieved vertical take-off, transition to and from horizontal flight, and vertical landing, with a tilting rotor. Including transportation which consists in developing by the propelling device a vertical thrust in excess of the normal, causing thereby the machine to rise in an approximately vertical direction, tilting it and simultaneously increasing the power of the motor and thereby the propeller thrust, then gradually reducing the propeller thrust as forward speed is gained and the plane takes up the load, thus maintaining the lifting force sensibly constant during flight, tilting the machine back to its original position and at the same time increasing the power if the motor and thrust of the propeller and effecting a landing under the restraining action of the same.

This patent summary clearly illustrates a vehicle using largely conventional thrust in an unconventional way. This is revolutionary to be sure, but far from any ion-propulsion technology.

But much like DaVinci and other master inventors who seemed far ahead of their times, a quasi-mystical cult has arisen in the wake of Tesla's passing, filling the gaps with all sorts of spurious tales of fantastic inventions, including death rays, thought photography, force fields, and more. So, why not add UFOs to the list as well?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Roundup of the Rare: Strange (but true?) Stories From Around The World.


Roopkund is a glacial lake in India's Himalayan region full of ancient skeletons that become disturbingly visible when the snow melts. No one knows exactly why so many bodies lie at the bottom of this lake. It could have been war, disease, or ritual. Scientists at National Geographic examined 30 of the skeletons and concluded they were all Indian. Other artifacts, such as clothing, spears, and wooden implements were found as well. Approximately 300 individuals rest in the lake's icy embrace, most dating to the 9th century. It seems by DNA composition to have been a party of Konkanastha Brahmins on a pilgrimage from  Maharashtra to Tibet as part of festivities that took place once every 12 years among members of the Nanda Devi cult. But how they died remains the biggest mystery. Were they attacked or did they succumb to disease or weather?

Leave it to the Icelanders to have a Christmas monster more terrifying than the Krampus. Everyone, meet GrĂ½la, an ogress that lives in a mountain-top lair who descends at Christmas to punish naughty children--by eating them. Her favorite dish is a stew of naughty kids. When she’s not consuming children, she’s also the mother of the Yule Lads, a group of miscreants who in modern times have become the Icelandic version of Santa Claus.

The intense heat and light of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bomb blasts left behind ghostly silhouettes of human beings whose lives were erased in an instant. These "shadows" are permanently etched onto buildings and sidewalks throughout the two cities, though fewer remain with each passing decade.







The Guanjuato Mummies are considered to be among the strangest and most horrifying in the world. Contorted faces on some of the mummies have given rise to the belief that some of them were buried alive. After author Ray Bradbury visited the catacombs in Guanajuato he stated "The experience so wounded and terrified me, I could hardly wait to flee Mexico".

I should note that some of this writing was pulled directly from blubs on Pinterest. These disparate authors remain unkown, but I appreciate their efforts at chronicling some really weird stuff.

Monday, June 23, 2014

When Silence Falls, The Murmuring Begins...

A meme floating about the interwebs states:

"On August 29th, 1968, all the televisions in America shut down. There was a murmuring on the TV that some believe was the devil's voice. The televisions were off for about 25 seconds. No one knows what the issue was an no one knows what the sound was from the TVs."

I cannot corroborate that any such event--an inarguably remarkable one--occurred, which is surprising. There were significant power outages in both 1965 and 1968 that blacked out large portions of the country. UFO conspiricists love to mull over those. And it does remind me of the Doctor Who episode "The Impossible Astronaut" about and alien species known as The Silence that is set in 1969.

However, if the meme is real, it is interesting to note that this would have transpired one day after a famous antiwar protest at a Democratic National Convention in Chicago. The same antiwar demonstration that gave rise to the popular protest slogan: "The Whole World Is Watching."

UPDATE: It may appear that this is yet another amalgam of half-truths. On April 10, 1061, television broadcasts were suspended briefly for a civil alert test. Prior to termination of all transmissions, the following was aired:  "We interrupt our normal program to co-operate in security and civil defense, as requested by the United States government. This is a Conelrad alert. Normal broadcasting will now be discontinued for and indefinite period. Civil Defense information will be broadcast in most areas at 640 or 1240 on the AM dial..."

As you can hear from this recording from April 28, 1961, the audio is definitely drifting into what one could construe as murmuring:



Moreover, there were articles from 1968 in various newspapers that mention strange signals from space, as picked up from the Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico that piqued the interest of Dr. Frank Drake (famous for his eponymous equation for the probability of extraterrestrial life).

This story may also be confusing an incident that happened at 5:10 pm on November 26, 1977 when the Hannington transmitter of the Independent Broadcasting authority in the UK was hijacked by a speaker claiming to be a representative of an "intergalactic association". The speaker who has been reported as calling himself "Vrillon" or "Gillon" or "Asteron" (depending on whom you ask) spoke with a disguised voice to warn those watching that their "weapons of evil" must be removed and there is only a "short time to lear to live together in peace." Fortean Times magazine's Winter 1977 issue (#24) has the verbiage a bit different, but the sentiment remains the same: "This is the voice of Asteron. I am an authorised representative of the Intergalactic Mission, and I have a message for the planet Earth. We are beginning to enter the period of Aquarius and there are many corrections which have to be made by Earth people. All your weapons of evil must be destroyed. You have only a short time to learn to live together in peace. You must live in peace... or leave the galaxy." The hoaxer was never identified and the incident remains a mystery.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Ancient Acoustics and the Almighty

According to a report at phys.org a unique acoustic attribute within a 5,000 year old mortuary temple on the island of Malta produces two distinct resonance frequencies (at 70Hz and 114Hz). The chamber, dubbed the Oracle Room, has a history of supernatural phenomena, which science might now explain.

Among the interesting things learned about the chamber is that the timbre of a deep, male voice attenuated to these cycles creates a resonance that lasts as many as 8 seconds and can be physically felt. Those who have experienced the resonance say they felt relaxed and that it were as if the sensation was radiating from the paintings along the stone walls.

There are other neolithic sites (such as Newgrange) that demonstrate similar sonic vibrations. Scientists have come to learn these can affect the human nervous system and our sense of perception.

It is remarkable that 5,000 years ago, neolithic people were able to take note of the phenomenon and make use of it--likely to exploit the temple's supernatural aura and bring the unseen to life.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Summer Movies

There are just some movies that become summer favorites. Something about summer makes me want to watch them more so than other times of the year. These are a few of mine (in no particular order). What are some of yours?





Unmasking Internet Hoaxes

It never ceases to amaze me, in a digital age where facts are literally at your fingertips, how so many can still be fooled by Internet urban legends and hoaxes. Yet, almost daily, we find examples of well-known hoaxes proliferating the digital wastelands with the least bit of examination. Laziness it to blame, chiefly. Below, I hope to clear out some of the garbage you might be seeing on blogs, Tumblr, Pinterest, and Facebook....

The Astronaut On A Spanish Cathedral

"[The story] errs a bit in identifying the astronaut carving as adorning the wall of a cathedral built in 1102. The city of Salamanca in Spain is home to two adjacent cathedrals: The "Old Cathedral" (Catedral Vieja), begun in the 12th century, and the "New Cathedral" (Catedral Nueva), begun in the 16th century. The figure in question is part of latter, not the former. Still, finding this carving of an astronaut on the wall of a cathedral constructed between 1513 and 1733 would be quite remarkable, as the figure anticipates with amazing accuracy a form of technology not realized until centuries later.

Unfortunately for Chariot buffs, however, the origins of the carving are neither ancient nor mysterious. The astronaut figure dates not from the 12th century or the 16th century or even the 18th century, but from 1992, and we know both who put it there and why: The New Cathedral was undergoing restoration work during that period, and one of the artisans engaged in the project chose to engage in a bit of tradition by "signing" his work with a contemporary symbol representative of the 20th century: an astronaut." [snopes.com]

The Google Earth Dead Body Hoax


In April 2013 a meme was spread on the Internet that entering the coordinates 52.376552,5.198303 into Google Maps (a location described in that application as being the Beatrixpark in Almere, Netherlands) and zooming in on the resulting satellite view would reveal an image of a man dragging a body into a lake (leaving a bloody trail behind him), as shown above.

Considering the full context of the image makes that claim rather improbable: it's unlikely that someone would choose to dispose of a body in a public park in broad daylight, from a spot requiring that the body be lifted over a rail several feet high, while leaving an obvious trail of evidence behind him (and potentially resulting in a conspicuous large splash and floating body).

What the image actually appears to show is a couple of people accompanied by a dark brown dog (perhaps a chocolate labrador), and the supposed trail of blood is simply red-stained wood that has taken on a darker appearance due to being wetted (possibly because the dog jumped into the surrounding water and then dripped it onto the wood). [snopes.com]

Ancient Megalithic Ruins In Russia

So-called 'megalithic' ruins in Russia are nothing more than misunderstood geology. The granite boulders of Mount Shoria in southern Siberia demonstrate a common feature of granite upthrusts: cracks forming fairly straight horizontal and vertical lines. This gives the appearance of cut stones that have been put together (doubtlessly by some lost, advanced civilization--and the 'government' is keeping it from you!). Combine this misidentification with some repurposed images from other locations and you have the makings of an Internet Urban Legend.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

FRIDAY 13 GHOSTLY TALES TURNED SPOOKY

Oklahoma City-- The Spirit of Oklahoma Storytelling Festival, sponsored by the state arts organization, The
Territory Tellers, held a free ghost tales concert on the first night of the event.   It was Friday...the 13th, a fat full moon filled the sky and the summer evening was mild with just a hint of cool breeze.  Held outdoors in an open pavilion on the campus of SNU in Bethany, near 50 people huddled in and around the brick structure as storytellers Liz Parker, Barbara Jones, Marilyn A. Hudson, and Tony Hardman shared suitably spooky tales.  The battery operated sound system worked perfectly during the first story but then...

The sound system strangely malfunctioned.  The light was red, the power was on, but the sound was - dead. The equipment was selected from the personal equipment of a professional performer for its reliabilty and its quality. The power lights glowed steady and bright. The batteries were fresh and it worked perfectly right up to the  first story...

Then, despite the still bright ready lights and solid connections, the microphone and speaker ceased to function.

Being professional storytellers the performers following compensated competently as they shared their stories without a mic.  The event was successful and enjoyed by all, including the storytellers who were initiated into the "Fellowship of the Flame", a special festival event for those who share stories of the ghostly variety in this popular item on the festival schedule.

Throughly unhappy, the next day the sound equipment's owner was ready to toss out the apparently now worthless sound system  when another check of the system was made.  The "dead" equipment  was checked. The mic worked on another system.  The batteries were all registering as good.  The dials had all been set to their highest settings the previous night attempting to get any sound and, now, when the mic hooked back up to the original speaker, the whole system blared to strong and steady life.

This workhorse sound system chosen because it was dependable and capable of functioning in extreme conditions (it went to a mountain top on one occassion!) had failed on a Friday the 13th, during a full moon, and during a concert of spine-tingling ghost stories.  A coincidence?  You be the judge.

Friday, June 6, 2014

What Preys On The Predator?


As part of a project to better understand the elusive and mysterious lives of Great White Sharks, Australian scientists tagged some, set them free, and studied the telemetry. But four months into the project, one of their devices washed ashore. It appears that something larger and more ferocious attacked one of the oceans largest and most successful predators. All that could be discerned from the final readings were a temperature spike and a sudden descent of 1,900 feet into the ocean.

Could this fish have encountered another Great White shark? Do they attack each other? These are things scientists are looking at. It might also have been an orca, one of the few marine creatures known to attack Great White Sharks.

Others wonder about giant squid or the oft rumored giant octopus. Could it have been the prehistoric megalodon (a whale sized shark that presumably died out millions of years ago) or something else--something far older and far more frightening?


Thursday, June 5, 2014

Listen To The Music Of The Trees


Bartolomaus Traubeck recorded the following by taking a PlayStation Eye Camera to transcribe via a program called Ableton Live the rings of various trees into music that is strange, evocative, and sometimes rather eerie.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

"Reincarnated" Child Catches His Own Killer.

If the tales recounted in German therapist Trutz Hardo's tome, "Children Who Have Lived Before: Reincarnation Today," are to be believed, then one particularly precocious 3-year-old has led police to the body of his murdered former self.

Along the Syrian-Israel border, a toddler recounted to his people that in a previous life he had been murdered. This didn't shock his family and community, though, as reincarnation is a part of daily life among the Druze, an offshoot religion of Shia Islam that incorporates other philosophies and religions as well.

It is common for the birthmarks of newborns in this community to be scrutinized as evidence of wounds from a previous life. In the boy's case, he told his people how he had been struck and killed by an axe to his head.

The villagers took him around in hopes that he could tell them where he once lived. The boy said he could also remember the first and last name of his killer.

In demonstration, the small child went up to a man who would otherwise be a stranger and asked if his name was... Puzzled, the man replied that was, indeed, his name. The boy continued, "I used to be your neighbor. We had a fight and you killed me with an axe."

The stranger seemed horror-struck.

The boy then announced that he knew where his body was buried. The village followed the boy to a simple cairn of stones, beneath which were the remains of a man with a severe wound to the front of his head. The boy then led them to where the axe was buried.

Under the onslaught of such startling revelations, the killer confessed.

Is this fourth-hand story to be believed? Is reincarnation real? Or did the boy, in fact, possess some type of post-cognitive gift that allowed him to glimpse past events that he would otherwise never have witnessed?

Friday, May 16, 2014

THE ENIGMA OF THE BLACK KNIGHT SATELLITE

For some time now, the legend of The Black Knight Satellite has floated through the literature on UFOs and other Forteana. The myth that has arisen over the years is of an object of unknown origin that circumnavigates a polar orbit--and has been doing so for 13,000 years.

Others believe the story is mere
ly an aggregate of half-truths and fantasy.

Legend has it that in 1899 Nikola Tesla received a strange, repeating radio signal that he believed originated from beyond Earth.

In 1954, before humans had ever launched a satellite, UFOlogist Donald Keyhoe was reported as saying the Air Force had detected two orbiting the planet.

A few years later, the Navy (according to some vague sources) detected a dark object in a strange orbit, but determined it was merely a piece of the damaged Discoverer VIII satellite casing.

Scottish writer Duncan Lunan concluded in 1973 that radio data collected by Norwegian researchers rendered a star chart to Epsilon Bootis in the Bootes constellation. Lunan believed a 12,600 year old object orbiting Earth was transmitting these aberrant signals. Eventually Lunan reconsidered his interpretation of the data and retracted his hypothesis, but not before it became ingrained in UFO literature.

In 1988, the first shuttle mission to the International Space Station (STS-88) snagged an image of what some considered an alien artifact (possibly Erich von Daniken's "Pakal Spacecraft" ), but was likely a thermal blanket inadvertently jettisoned during an extravehicular walkabout.

Over the years, these stories have coalesced into or otherwise bolstered the idea of an alien probe that orbits our planet daily.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Dancing Plague


In the summer of 1518, the town of Strasbourg in France was literally dancing in the streets--and no one could explain why.

It seemed a strange sort of plague had taken hold of the city, beginning with Frau Troffea. Within a week more than 30 townsfolk were dancing in the streets. Within a month, that number swelled to 400.

These men and women were dancing night and day to the point of exhaustion. Some began suffering heart attacks and strokes.

Medical men were called in and came up with a sound solution: build them a stage and strike up the band!

Explanations range from spiritual ecstasy or the much-abused "mass hysteria" to an outbreak of ergot poisoning, the latter being a type of mold that affects grains and, if ingested, can cause hallucinations and seizures.

Eventually, those dancers that survived slowly began to leave the perplexing promenade and life returned to normal, leaving us scratching our heads the weird little dancing plague of Strasbourg, France.

Can You Solve The Mystery of Cicada 3301

In early 2012, a 4chan user posted a steganograph (a way to conceal data within code, text, images...) that said someone or something called Cicada 3301 was recruiting intelligent people. It's your classic White Rabbit trope, but if you could make it beyond the straight-forward Caesar cipher in the text, you would begin to unlock deeper, more technical layers of the puzzle and eventually find yourself...???

And that's the question. More puzzles followed and before long, like Slender Man before it, Cicada 3301 was a 4chan celebrity.

Some claim that they solved the seemingly unsolvable riddles and received e-mails from the entity, but beyond that it isn't clear what winners have received. Others posit that Cicada 3301 is a front for information security firms or even government agencies. The ability to crack complex codes is in high demand.

Or maybe it's not one person or group at all. Maybe it started out as a single poster with a puzzle and then others added their own under the same name. The reward being little more than knowing you could solve a complex puzzle.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Clients: Must or Mistake?


Here's a topic for you paravestigators... Clients: Must or Mistake? Let me know your thoughts on the concept of taking on "clients".  Is it a distraction to real work? If clients are seeking help, is there any to be given if you're a scientific team?