Saturday, July 16, 2005
Andrews Space has won a contract to test an experimental "freighter".
(Click title to visit site)
Leveraging LaGrange Points, Hall thrusters and solar power, the "SmallTug" offers a low-cost alternative to more fuel (and cost)-intensive methods. A short animation describes the components in action.
Friday, July 15, 2005
SimNuke art event looks to remind about nukes.
(Click title to visit site)
SimNuke is an art group determined to create a vivid reminder of the horrors of nuclear arms.
Tomorrow...the anniversary of the first successful atomic bomb test at Trinity Site...the group will detonate fuel into a column of fire, and an appropriate mushroom cloud. The "GO" button will be pushed by the winner of an ebay auction.
After the detonation, a full slate of related activities will further press the need for recognition of the hazards, and the wise use, of this remarkably deadly technology. Click post title for details.
Thursday, July 14, 2005
A New Ufology?
Can Ufology be saved from itself? Should it be?
Ufology is typically defined as, "The study of unidentified flying objects". But this definition no longer applies. "Ufology" now includes alien abduction, exopolitics, secret bases (under and above ground), government coverups, "reverse-engineered" technologies, and a renewed attempt to debunk many classic cases. This fragmenting creates confusion among those outside, but interested in, Ufology, while it provides some sort of "legitimacy" for the fringe elements and their claims. If this trend continues, any semblance of "legitimate" Ufology will crumble away and die. But can this trend be reversed? And if so, should it be reversed? My responses are, "Yes...and yes".
Since the first human looked skyward, weird things have been seen there. As cultures emerged and stories of these weird things spread, discussion began in earnest. Ufology, as defined above, began with these early humans. They studied and pondered the things in the air which they could not explain. Fast forward to today...
Ufology today encompasses many diverse viewpoints, definitions, and personalities. The field has grown far beyond the study of "what's up there", and includes spiritual aspects, ghosts, government experimentation, and a host of "sub-UFO" studies like Orbs, Rods, Inter-dimensional entities, etc. Each of these areas has its own proponents, debunkers, promoters and detractors, and there is much overlap between them.
For someone outside the field but interested, there is a mine-field to navigate...fraught with incessant argument, side-taking, and ridicule...and even the most curious "newbie" is soon convinced to find another area of interest to investigate. The evidence of this is the paradox that polls show that the majority of people accept that alien life exists, while Ufology is a very small subset of the population at large. The polls also show that the more intelligent the person, the MORE likely that person will be to accept this proposition. If this is so, Ufology should be awash with bright, curious eager folk. Alas, this is not the case.
The state of Ufology is such that only a fool...or a true believer for or against...would wade into this "minefield". As a result, Ufology today has pretty much run off the more intelligent, open minded "newbies", and those that are remaining form one of three general types...pro-ETH, Anti-ETH, and the fringe on either side. The "fence-sitter" is reviled by both sides, and in the end, falls out of the debate and either observes in silence or leaves the field altogether.
The "pro-ETH" camp is convinced that (at least some) UFOs represent alien technology...that it is the product of ExtraTerrestrial intelligence...thus the ETH..."ExtraTerrestrial Hypothesis". This group is convinced that overwhelming evidence exists to "prove" the ETH. Among the luminaries of this group are Stanton Friedman and Richard Hall. Both these gentlemen have studied UFOs and UFO accounts...and written about them...for decades. By definition they are indeed Ufologists. They cite case after case which they feel (when considered in toto) conclusively proves the ETH. Some of this evidence is physical...documents, landing impressions or pieces of debris, radar, film and videotape of aerial vehicles exhibiting performance capabilities which are "impossible" with current technology. Some of it is anecdotal, i.e., multiple witness accounts, recollections by "insiders", etc. Some is circumstantial, as with Roswell, where more and more it is apparent that SOMETHING happened, while the details still remain elusive.
There is a large number of like-minded folk who revere Stan, Dick, and others. While they may not actively investigate UFO cases, their involvement constitutes their credentials as Ufologists, as well, i.e., they ARE engaged in the study of UFOs.
The "anti-ETH" camp is comprised of those unconvinced by the cases cited by pro-ETH camp, and are further convinced that ET life has not visited the earth. They scrutinize the cases cited by the ETHers and attempt to explain them as something more "down to earth". Among the staunchest of this group are Philip Klass and (to a lesser extent) James Randi. For decades, both of these gentlemen have stepped into the breach to "explain" a UFO case, or to "expose" what to them is an obvious hoax. They find the evidence extant of UFO as ET craft at best unproven, and at worst, utter nonsense. They point to atmospheric anomalies, photographic defects, hoaxes, and misidentified mundane objects, and more, to "prove" that UFO reports are not at all the product of ET life. They are convinced that every UFO case has a prosaic explanation, and that in time we will be able to explain the few cases that elude conclusive explanation today. There is a large group of "adherents" to this group as well. While they too, may not investigate or "debunk" cases, their interest and discussion again qualifies them as Ufologists. This group also includes various alternatives to the ETH, i.e., the PsychoSocial Hypothesis, the PsychoPathological Hypothesis, Religion-related ideas, and other physics and mathematics-based theories. Some of these "sub-groups" are adamant that the ETH is invalid, while their own theories have similarly little evidence to support them.
The third group comprising Ufology is actually more along the lines of "whomever does not fit into either of the other two". This includes those who feel strongly that ET life exists, but are not convinced that UFOs represent ET visitation; those that feel some UFO events are evidence of the ETH, but not conclusive evidence; those that find UFOs a curiosity, but have not formed an opinion overall; and those that think that neither side has proven their case regardless of the "truth". There are more opinions represented by this group, but these are among the more prevalent. Due to their interest in, reading about, commenting on, and just pondering of UFOs, they rightly qualify as Ufologists, as well. I believe (though I could be wrong) that this group represents the largest number of Ufologists.
As has been painfully demonstrated elsewhere, getting these disparate groups to agree on anything is exceedingly difficult, if not impossible. The pro-ETH contingent is convinced of its validity, the anti-ETH contingent is just as convinced otherwise, and the fence-sitters are roundly castigated by both. Is there an answer to this conflict, a way to meld these positions into a grand "unified field"? I think so, yes.
With electronics becoming truly inexpensive...from digital imaging, cell-phones, night-vision, GPS and distributed computing, even ultra-light aircraft, among other examples...it is possible for civilian groups to possess technology approaching that of the military of only a few years ago. Our economy has abandoned many of the most adept at using such equipment, and those most capable of writing software to allow these technologies to inter-operate for a single purpose. Open Source software projects provide a means for under-employed IT professionals to pool their resources via the internet, leveraging a vast amount of expertise from far-flung locales without buildings, or conference rooms, or beaurocracy. Finally, we are beginning to realize the true dangers of near-earth objects, which could pose a collision risk, while science continues to try to locate such objects.
I think this previous paragraph provides the building blocks for a new Ufology.
Imagine this scenario...Under the guise of the search for near-earth objects posing a potential hazard, a group of distant hobbyists builds a network...a grid...of mobile sensor arrays, connected via wireless broadband, cell-phone, and GPS, including passive radar, high-resolution imaging, audio and video recording, telescopic cameras, night-vision, etc., and all connected to a distributed computing "cluster" for processing data. A software project such as SETI@Home could be created to split the task of data analysis to hundreds or thousands of interested individuals while simultaneously raising awareness and interest in the project. Such a group might even attract attention and funding from NASA, NOAA, and other organizations, as a "citizen science" project. Promoting such a project would increase the visibility of NASA as a "civilian" organization, and the credibility it could lend would help the project.
In this process, a virtual "net" could be created to monitor in real-time the goings on in our atmosphere and beyond. Citizens could participate by allowing their PCs to be used to help process the reams of data collected. With this data, two purposes could be served. One, to alert authorities when a near-earth object appears to be worthy of a closer look, but also to create a database of observed atmospheric phenomena from multiple sensors. This last is where Ufology could benefit.
Scientists faced with a citizen-reported asteroid on a possible collision course, would obviously be able to bring their more sophisticated equipment to bear on such an important subject. But also, if such a sensor array was to pick up evidence...from multiple sensors... of something much closer to earth...in our atmosphere...and record the data, NASA would be hard-pressed to ignore such data. Even if NASA declined, such a group could go public with such data, and attract interested scientists who would now...and FINALLY...have current hard scientific data about aerial phenomena, and would have no question as to the provenance of the evidence. The data could be reviewed quickly and perhaps even corroborated by other scientists...NOAA, etc.
With such a group in place, attracting intelligent forward-thinking people would be far more likely, and those not interested in a hands-on participation could STILL lend help by downloading the "@Home" software and help by providing processing cycles. Looking for UFOs could be marketed as "saving the earth"...not from ET, but from collision. Who wouldn't want to assist in such an endeavor?
As such activities spread and grew in popularity, there could even be competitions held between branches of the organization to see who can collect the most data, or giving the public a chance to see the gear in operation, perhaps inspiring younger children to "watch the skies".
This kind of project would need to focus on the "security" aspect of the search, as surely a UFO exhibiting far-advanced technology poses a potential threat as great as an asteroid. Therefor, it should not have the moniker "UFO" in its name or mission, since that would minimize the greater purpose. But to name the subject of the project "NEO" for Near Earth Object, would provide a "cool-factor", and be an explicit description of ALL phenomena occurring in our atmosphere and just beyond. Like the skywatchers of WWII, it could even be sold as a patriotic endeavor, what with unmanned drone aircraft and other unconventional aircraft posing a risk as well, for terrorist activities.
Such a project could be called "NEOS-GRID" for Near Earth Object Sensor Grid. The software for the distributed computing aspect could be called NEOS@Home or similar. Interested citizens could participate without rancor and debate, scientists would have data to analyze that was of great value and unquestioned provenance, Ufologists could finally agree on a "direction", and the rehashing of old UFO cases could continue unabated, while this new project would carry the younger crowd forward to new discoveries, and renewed interest in what buzzes around our skies.
The parts for such an organization or project already exist. Passive radar has already been suggested as a "Square One" starting point. As we have civilian "stormchasers" who spend hundreds or thousands of dollars in equipment, vehicles and time, we could build a growing network of civilian "NEO-chasers", who instead of getting their thrills seeing tornadoes, would get their thrills searching for more esoteric phenomena and recording as much data on each as possible. The analysis would be much more valuable, since the data recorded would be from multiple sensors, and perhaps multiple locations.
Imagine what such an array could have done for the "Phoenix Lights". Imagine what such a civilian organization would have done with the "Belgium triangle flap".
Is NEOlogy the future of Ufology? It certainly could be. If so however, it will be best conceived by a small group, working quietly at first...a bloodless coup as it were. But the old characters with their varied agendas could and would still debate the old cases and no harm would be done. And the renewed interest in what's "up there" could perhaps save the planet...or find ET. :)
Artemy Lebedev has invented the coolest innovation in keyboards since...well since those 6-fingered control panels from Roswell.
(Click title for more info)
The keyboard is fully programmable, and each key has its own "OLED" display. For games, applications, etc, the keyboard layout can be custom-mapped for the game or application functions.
This is just a completely fabulous idea for any gamer, Photoshop fiend, or people who have multilingual users. Yes, the keyboard can reflect different languages, too.
The best use of OLED tech thus far, IMO.
But where did the idea actually originate? Some quiet lab in Russia, or the desert of New Mexico? :)
(Click title to read article)
(Story via WaPo, photo via the WWW)
(Click title to visit site.)
Residents in Hastings, NE might have been excused from thinking the War of the Worlds is real, when this unbelievable mammatus cloud formation made an appearance.
The photo is one of three chosen to grace the journal Meteorology.
One has to wonder what people of the past would have made of such a sight. For that matter, what did the residents of Hastings think?
(Photo by Jorn Olsen)
Wednesday, July 13, 2005
(Click title to visit site)
Chapter 9 Photography artist Jerome Abramovitch shows what happens when you inject saline into your forehead...and cheeks...and, well, just go and look. :)
The curious thing is that when he's all puffed up, he does look a little asian, which is how some alien bodies have been described.
Could post-crash internal bleeding and swelling create the visage of the "UFO crash victim"?
Tuesday, July 12, 2005
Perhaps the "UFO flotilla" videos are meant to keep folks eyes to the sky?
World Net Daily...that bastion of "accurate" journalism, ups the "fear factor" with this tale of Al Qaeda using our porous border down south as a portal for moving nukes into the US, as plans move toward an "American Hiroshima".
The article applies a little jab at Dubya for not "locking down" the border with Mexico. Like we have enough soldiers left for that...
---Begin provocative satire---
Well, as we all know that Mexico just loves terrorists, and would love to see the US nuked (since fallout recognizes borders...and crumbling our economy would really help Mexico), perhaps the authorities should look into those promoting the UFO fleet videos. After all, what better way to sneak across the border with a MIRV or two, than by keeping everyone looking up?
---End provocative satire---
Methinks this article is best read from within the confines of a large salt mine. But do keep an eye on those UFO fleet guys...*S*
(Click title to see images)
Flickr is a photo-community site, with scads of tagged images, comments, public slideshows, and a whole lot of cool people.
The title links to a search for images tagged with "ufo". The result is over a thousand shots of FOs...Flying Objects...of the U, I, and everything else variety...*g*
Some cool images, some...not so much. Good practice viewing for the budding researcher or the seasoned pro.
Once you've ooohed and ahhed over the FO shots, search on any tag(s) you like. If you're a shutterbug, sign up for an account. Create a group, private or public. Or just up your snaps and tell your peeps.
My flickr folder is here. It's nice for sharing images with friends and family...quickly and easily.
(Click title to visit site)
Personal favorite excerpt: ..."get ride of the limitation of the bed structure". Whaaaa?
(via night-crawl...insomnia-based obsessive surfing)
(Click title to visit site and download)
Google's acquisition of Keyhole Software (maker of EarthViewer) brought awesome satellite-photo coverage to Google Maps.
Now, Google is offering Google Earth, a graphical front-end to Google's earth image database. The interface opens with a view of the earth from space, and provides easy tools to zoom into an address, landmark, pizza parlor, just about anywhere.
Once closer to the ground, the image field can be "tilted" to create perspective, and the user can "fly-through" the map. Zoom, tilt and orientation are all adjustable on the fly! Waypoints can be set, and trips can be plotted and replayed in realtime.
The download is free and small. Broadband connection basically mandatory.
This really rocks!! See Earth as the invading ET armies do!
(Click title to read more...scroll to July 10)
Author and UFO guy Mac Tonnies confesses an infatuation with nubile Jessica Alba. You gotta admit, that Mac's got excellent taste in unattainable sci-fi babes. Thanks Mac, and congratulations on going public. If it helps even one...*S*
Mac waxes far further afield as well. After slobbering over Jessica's "smooth"-ness, read his other posts.
A couple of short story treatments that look pretty cool, too. Bookmark it, or del.icio.us it today.
UFOReflection Project Update: Phase two experiments rained out!
The weekend was spent watching TWC for hurricane updates, and even though we're a couple hundred miles away, the weather here went south, and with it Phase two...for now.
I'll regroup and post the new schedule.
(Click the title to see the video)
via Brian Vike's fine site
(Click title above to read more)
Perhaps Nuremberg still has a courtroom available...
Monday, July 11, 2005
...there was a post that described an article by Alfred Lehmberg (intrepid UFO proponent and crown curmudgeon of Ufology) as "a fun read".
Having been at the "bidness end" of Alfred's poison pen (and notably, at least once praised by him), I can relate to the term "fun read".
The post also included a question as to his supplying evidence for his adamancy. I doubt you'll get much in the form of evidence or an explanation for anything from Alfred. I think he knows that the truth is not in doubt, and doesn't require reinforcement. And even WITH evidence to provide, he'd not "play the game" of tit-for-tat. I'm sure he would see it as a "dog and pony show" disguised as a sincere request for data. Since evidence for the ETH abounds, Alfred is under no obligation to cite chapter and verse. Been there, done that...got the blue face.
His mission is to harangue and annoy any that oppose the ETH generally, and his "alienview" specifically. He has stated so on multiple occasions. More and more, I feel a keen sense of admiration for his "stick-to-it-iveness" in the face of a "usurped authority", and his ideological honesty and consistency in stark contrast to the invented fears, created realities, and duplicitous motives of the illegitimate elite against which he commonly rails.
My agreement with this results far more from our political leanings than from our respective Ufological views, but agreement is agreement. I have written on my own similar political views elsewhere.
He sees the assault by "common sense" on the subject of UFOs as a call to arms which obviates logic, science and evidence in favor of archaic language, occasional rhyme and meter, a flair for debate and an unabashedness I find very refreshing. Plain talk in a very creative wrapper. He channels his outrage into very considered and often verse-laden prose that is at once (in its way) beautiful and baffling....and often accurate in my view.
Again, I agree with Alfred's oft-repeated assertions about "a hijacked mainstream", and a "duplicitous elite" and an "illegitimate authority". And though I do not share his every assertion, I'd gladly share a table and a story or two with him. I'd even buy him a beverage of his choice. *S*
Alfred provides a needed "advocacy without conscience". His "give no quarter; take no prisoners" approach is consistent...and admirable...whether he brings supporting evidence or not. He is content to let others clean up in his wake...as any "avenging angel" would be. Never apologize; never explain. The raging advocate for the view of the "co-opted majority" has no need or desire for case details or spectrographic analysis at this late date. That is just a distraction from the mission at hand.
His ongoing "discussion" with film-maker/blogger Paul Kimball is an example of where I have more disagreement with Alfred. His arguments are in keeping with his views, but he admits that Kimball is intelligent. This would seem to indicate that Kimball is at least capable of achieving Alfred's view of "enlightenment", but Alfred's method doesn't invite, rather just offends the already offended subject. This is my disagreement on this issue, but remember that he does not seek to educate in this milieu. He obviously feels that anyone not already convinced is a lost cause...and he may be right. I know he is sure he is. I admire that, as well.
On the subject of another blogger-come-lately, Alfred's comments about the rrrgroup blog found a resonant frequency here. The honesty of ideology Alfred never shies away from is nowhere in evidence at rrrgroup. The "r-cubed" effort is purely to inflame with no apparent fuel; to provoke with a pointed stick (because that is as sophisticated as the "weapons" get in that quarter); to claim affiliation with or affection for certain luminaries to provide a basis for idiotic character assassination and self-congratulatory "diatribe-arrhea". The brilliant display of their utter lack of journalistic integrity, and blatant intellectual dishonesty, combined with their incessant need to name-call and ridicule the work of others in the field, would be hypocritical if it weren't so insanely, amusingly pathetic. A truly fine example of "nattering nabobs" and an "effete corp of impudent snobs" (apologies to Spiro). Alfred calls it as he sees it, and balls-on in this case, from my perspective.
I could of course go on into a personal indictment of members of the rrrgroup, and assail their lack of education, their inexperience, or their adherents' mental states, but that would mean stooping to their level. I choose instead, like Alfred, to just change the channel.
Alfred also notes their common tactic of "passive aggression", where a derogatory comment is explained away as youth, or haste, only to be shown to be the "true colors" upon further discussion. Such intellectual (and conversational) dishonesty is a hallmark of rrrgroup.
Interestingly, both Paul and r-cubed propose a new Ufological paradigm. Kimball's approach is attractive to me, but abrasive to Alfred. Fair enough. We both also have anal orifices, as well.
Here Alfreds views on r-cubed however, again resonate with me. While Lehmberg engages the debate with Kimball, he finds little use for r-cubed's feigned attempt for some kind of dubious legitimacy and expectedly...and sensibly...just changes the station.
I will add that they are prone to fabricating information, provide nothing to assist anyone curious about the UFO mystery, and have collectively achieved absolutely nothing of any note whatsoever in any field whatsoever, while decrying others who aren't, and do, and have...and have.
On this issue I cannot but agree with Alfred's assessment.
Alfred Lehmberg is a zealot. I like zealots, and while I don't agree with everything he says, I believe that he represents a necessary "force" in the debate. Zealots stir the pot...not with hyperbole and momentary notoriety, but with dogged persistence, palpable self-assurance, and a blunt refusal to retreat. Strangely, it's what little I admire of our current President, as well.
As he might himself say, his "odes" are but a (strenuous) squeak of lucidity amidst the never-ending barrage of "monkey-paffle" with which the duplicitous elites...via a hijacked mainstream...inundate a dubiously "anaesthetized" populace. On this we very much..."reach".
His website, www.alienview.net, is as much of an "assault on ones senses" as his rhetoric, and I think this visual metaphor is an apt one. Spending much time at his site agitates and provokes the viewer, and by the time an article is located and reading has begun, this barely perceptible agitation feeds into...and compliments...the indignation and adamance reflected in his prose. It is clever, and it is effective. I have no idea if it is accidental or intentional, but in his favor I presume intent. *S*
Unfortunately, a family history of epilepsy, and an unpleasant physiological reaction, prevents my viewing his site for more than just a few seconds at a time. That is the absolute truth.
But his prolific writings at Updates...analyses, attack pieces, assassinations...whatever you want to call them...never fail to provoke me. I have an appreciation for this that is completely aside from my level of agreement with his various theses...or his "targets".
He is an amusing read at times, nonetheless. Calm before the storm...and seeing how someone "handles" a Lehmberg frontal assault is a fair measure of one's character under fire.
For Paul Kimball's part, he maintains his course and heading, and plows ahead...ideologically honest and consistent. Alfred would likely disagree...but of course. Ergo the ongoing discussion.
r-cubed's reaction is juvenile pejorative, knee-jerk ill-conceived rebuttal, and transparent claims of faux-sarcastic affection. Word is getting around.
I can see Paul and Alfred still going at it...LONG after the impertinent, momentary flicker of rrrgroup is washed from an otherwise perfectly good hard drive in a datacenter somewhere...a zen moment to be played out much sooner than later. (Oh to be the wielder of the "rm /rrrgroup/*" command. Sadly, the one to do it will likely take no special satisfaction from such a public service....just another disk "wiped". How apt.
That Alfred and I are different in so many ways is curious vis a vis our complete agreement on r-cubed. What does one make of this?
Finally, Alfred has something to which all zealots (and r-cubist wanna-bes) aspire...style and panache. I think it was Lancelot in "Grail" who put it nicely..."in his own...unique...(provided by squire) IDIOM".
"Write" ON, Alfred.