Ovilus III – The Evolution of a Scam

Well, the madness continues.  It seems there’s an all new technological wonder on the market, one that might give you a sense of déjà vu.  With all the fanfare of a root canal, Digital Dowsing presents its 2013 ghost hunting line-up, staring the Ovilus III.

A remake of the original Ovilus I and cousin to the I-phone app I-Ovilus (I’m never disappointed by the creativity of their product naming strategy), the Ovilus III is the most recent version of the famous ghost box or puck.  Paranormal Investigators have been using the Ovilus as a mainstay of their technological bag of tricks for years now, touting some quite unbelievable results.

I’ve previously written about the Ovilus and was less than charitable with my review of the product, and today will be no different.  In its current iteration, the Ovilus III boasts some technological updates that will make its users happy:

“The Ovilus III features a built in 6 line display for words No DTD need , Multiple operating modes Including Dictionary and Phonetic Modes. Built in Word Display for Dictionary mode. Built in Thermal flashlight changes color to indicate different tempertures !”[1] (Spelling and grammar is theirs, not mine)

In case you couldn’t tell from the above description, Digital Dowsing, the company responsible for the Ovilus in all its glory, does a bang-up job of marketing their wares.  The original Ovilus enjoyed a great deal of popularity among the paranormal community, but was unavailable for purchase except through Ebay and Craigslist for used units for quite a long time, to the disappointment of many I’m sure.  This new incarnation will surely fill a desperate need for quality ghost hunting technology, as though it did anything more than blink and beep in random fashion.

The Ovilus III, with its blinking lights, its six line LCD screen and its highly satisfying knobs and buttons, much like the Ovilus I, is a useless piece of crap.

Yes, you read that right…a useless piece of crap.  As I explained in my first and second critiques of this technology, the Ovilus is a scam, it cannot possibly do what Bill Chappell and his cronies at Digital Dowsing claim.  Well, actually, they don’t claim that it can do anything really…it’s the Ovilus consumers who make most of the claims, and they do so with a high degree of credulity.

It is not possible to build a device that detects or communicates with ghosts, because no one, and I mean no one in the entire world, has any idea how to prove that ghosts exist, let alone how they communicate.  I may not have the technical expertise to fully analyse and explain how the Ovilus comes up with its output results, but as discussed in the comments of my article Ovilus I – 21st Century Snake Oil, one doesn’t need a degree in electronic engineering to see that it’s a random output generator with some other clever bells and whistles incorporated for added value.

Now, I fully expect a litany of verbal backlash for my comments, but I believe if you think about it for a minute, you’ll see that I’m right.  That is unless you need to believe that the Ovilus and other devices like it have harnessed the supernatural in some fantastical way.

Do ghosts exist? Maybe, and truthfully this is as far anyone can go with that question.  As much as some people, or even many people, believe that they do exist, their belief does not constitute proof.  There may be a great deal of anecdotal or circumstantial evidence to support the assertion that there is such a thing as ghosts, but none of it provides any explanation for what, exactly, they may be, what they might consist of, where they come from or how, or even if, one can communicate with them.  To quote myself (from my first post on the Ovilus): “We cannot have a machine that defines an unknown phenomenon, when a definition of the phenomenon is required to build the machine in the first place.”

In closing, I simply ask you; if Bill Chapell or any of his colleagues has found a way to empirically detect and communicate with ghosts, which is precisely what the Ovilus III and its predecessors are purported to do, wouldn’t that technology qualify them for a Nobel prize, or at least a nomination?


[1] Source: Digital Dowsing’s website, sales page: http://www.ghostshop.com/gear.html

The Antikythera Mechanism

The Antikythera MechanismIn the evolution of engineering principals and technology, it is well known that the long march to our technological opulence began in the mid 14th century, with the introduction of the first finely tooled mechanisms in the form of astronomical clocks in Western Europe…or did it?

What if I told you that such devices were made more than 1000 years before?  Well, hold onto your hats!

I give you the Antikythera Mechanism. Found by sponge divers in the Aegean Sea near the Greek island of Antikythera in 1900, the Antikythera Mechanism (pronounced antik-e-thera) is an engineering curiosity that has baffled researchers for the better part of a century.

While there is some argument about its purpose, the general consensus is that it is an astronomically based ancient analog computer.  Yes, you read that right, a computer.  Efforts to date the device, which contains many finely constructed gears and inscriptions, have placed its construction to around 87 BCE.  antikythera_mechanism_remainsAgain, yes, you read that right.  Built at a time when man’s understanding of the universe was more than somewhat primitive, prior to the discovery of gravity and theories of planetary motion, this computer is the earliest known example of a complex gear mechanism.  Other examples of which weren’t seen for another 1000 years.

Retrieved with the mechanism were numerous artefacts, including bronze and marble statues, pottery, glassware, jewellery, and coins which were transferred to the National Museum of Archaeology in Athens for storage and analysis. The mechanism itself went unnoticed for 2 years; it was a lump of corroded bronze and wood and the museum staff had many other pieces with which to busy themselves. On 17 May 1902, archaeologist Valerios Stais was examining the finds and noticed that one of the pieces of rock had a gear wheel embedded in it.

While a curiosity, serious scientific scrutiny of the piece didn’t occur until 1951, when physicist and historian of science Derek J. de Solla Price took notice and began subjecting the device to more pointed scientific examination.

A replica of the Antikythera Mechanism
A replica of the Antikythera Mechanism

All of the mechanism’s instructions are written in Koine Greek, and the consensus among scholars is that the mechanism was made in the Greek-speaking world. One hypothesis is that the device was constructed at an academy founded by the Stoic philosopher Posidonius on the Greek island of Rhodes, which at the time was known as a center of astronomy and mechanical engineering; this hypothesis further suggests that the mechanism may have been designed by the astronomer Hipparchus, since it contains a lunar mechanism which uses Hipparchus’s theory for the motion of the Moon. However, recent findings of The Antikythera Mechanism Research Project suggest that the concept for the mechanism originated in the colonies of Corinth, which might imply a connection with Archimedes.

Mainstream science, while unable to agree on some of the details, is largely unanimous in its assertion that this, while a piece out of time, is definitely man-made.  As much as conspiracy theorists might have different ideas, the marvel of this artefact is the fact that nothing like it has ever been found of the same period.  The mechanism itself is broken up into 82 different fragments, seven of which, considered major fragments, contain inscriptions or gear and dial components.  Several reconstructions and duplications have been made over the years and many can be found in museums around the world.

Among such curiosities as the Baigong Pipes –a network of strange pipes drilled into the mountainside about 40 km southwest of the city of Delingha, in the Haixi Mongol and Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Qinghai Province, China dated to a time before Zeus- the Antikythera Mechanism is thought by some to be an artefact of one or more unknown and technologically advanced civilizations.  There’s even some talk of this mechanism being the product of alien-human technology and information sharing.

Whatever your particular bent, it’s clear that the Antikythera Mechanism has one hell of a story to tell, and The Antikythera Mechanism Research Project should be releasing some very interesting findings in the very near future.

What do you think the Antikythera Mechanism is?

SETI…Calling The Stars

ET Phone HomeET phone…us?  If you were to believe the assertions of science fiction TV and movies, communicating between the stars is as easy as connecting a child’s See & Say toy with an old school TV antenna and…KABLAM!  You’ve got a good old interstellar phone call on the go.

OK, maybe that’s a little simplistic (if not entirely unrealistic), but perhaps we can be forgiven, with the understanding that we grew up watching such classics as Steven Spielberg’s E.T. the Extraterrestrial with its long range cell phone call, and even Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek with its sub-space communication, enabling messages from between the stars.

Seems a fanciful thing really, but there just might be some real world applications for such technology.  In fact some people right here on Earth are using the principals employed in the above science fiction all in an effort to communicate with whoever might be out there.

SETI or the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence has been both searching for alien signals and sending their own signals to ET since November 1984.  The bulk of their efforts have been in receiving and analysing radio signals from all over the universe, most of which are caused by natural cosmic goings on, but over the years there have been a few surprises.

seti_logo_cmykAt the top of the list are two events that, in their time, garnered a great deal of attention:

Radio source SHGb02+14a

Discovered in March 2003 by SETI@home –an Internet-based public volunteer computing project employing the BOINC software platform, hosted by the Space Sciences Laboratory, at the University of California, Berkeley- SHGb02+14a is considered to be a candidate for an intelligent extraterrestrial signal, coming from an area located between the constellations Pisces and Aries.  This region is peculiar as it contains no visible stars within 250,000 light-years of Earth, but the signal has been detected three separate times from that location, the last of which being considerably stronger than any other.

The signal was observed at a frequency of 1420 MHz, considered to be a part of the waterhole region –an especially quiet section of the electromagnetic spectrum- which is theorized to be a good candidate for an extraterrestrial intelligence to broadcast a signal.

SHGb02+14a was announced through the science journal New Scientist in September of 2004, and as might be expected, mainstream science is sceptical of the nature and origin of the signal, citing the signals rapid drift and explaining that it could be an artefact of random chance, cosmic noise or a glitch in the technology.

Even though SETI@home leaders deny the likelihood of the signal being that of an alien civilization, many people see SHGb02+14a as a leading candidate for extant extraterrestrial contact.

300px-Wow_signalThe WOW! Signal

Detected August 15, 1977 by American astronomer Jerry B. Ehman, the Wow! Signal was a strong narrowband radio signal detected at  the Big Ear radio telescope of The Ohio State University then located at Ohio Wesleyan University’s Perkins Observatory, Delaware, Ohio.

While working on the SETI Project, Ehman was amazed to find the signal when going through a readout from the telescope.  Designated by the alphanumeric code 6EQUJ5, shown circled in the famous photograph associated with the find, Ehman was so astounded that he wrote “WOW!” in the margin of the document.

Originating from the region of the constellation Sagittarius, roughly 2.5 degrees south of the fifth-magnitude star group Chi Sagittarii, and about 3.5 degrees south of the plane of the ecliptic (Tau Sagittarii is the closest easily visible star), the signal lasted a whopping 72 seconds and was received at a frequency of 1420.356 MHz (again within the waterhole range). However, it was never detected again, despite the Big Ear radio telescope, as well as many others, targeting that particular region on many subsequent occasions.

As with SHGb02+14a, mainstream science is sceptical of the idea that the WOW! signal was that of an extraterrestrial intelligence, even though the UFOlogy community largely holds this signal as proof that there is intelligent life elsewhere in the universe.

This communication is by no means a one way effort however, and SETI is just as active in the transmission of signals as it is in the detection of them.  Operating under the umbrella of the SETI Project, CETI or Communication with Extraterrestrial Intelligence has undertaken a number of experiments intended to put us that much closer to our potential ET neighbours, the most famous of which is the Arecibo Message.

arecibo messageThe Arecibo Message

The brain child of the late Dr. Carl Sagan and Dr. Frank Drake (creator of the famous Drake Equation, which you can read about here: The Drake Equation, Counting the Stars), the Arecibo Message was an attempt to broadcast a single FM radio signal into space at a ceremony marking the remodelling of the Arecibo Radio Telescope in Puerto Rico on November 16, 1974.  The signal was directed at globular cluster M13, which is 25,000 light-years away, but where it was sent is less interesting than what was sent.

Dr. Frank Drake, then at Cornell University wrote the message, with help from Carl Sagan, among others.  The message consists of seven parts that encode the following (from the top down):

  1. The numbers one (1) to ten (10)
  2. The atomic numbers of the elements hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, and phosphorus, which make up deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA)
  3. The formulas for the sugars and bases in the nucleotides of DNA
  4. The number of nucleotides in DNA, and a graphic of the double helix structure of DNA
  5. A graphic figure of a human, the dimension (physical height) of an average man, and the human population of Earth
  6. A graphic of the Solar System
  7. A graphic of the Arecibo radio telescope and the dimension (the physical diameter) of the transmitting antenna dish

The message, most often represented in its famous diagram form (the original without colour) was a binary code, and will take 25,000 years for the message to reach its intended destination of stars (and an additional 25,000 years for any reply), the Arecibo message was more a demonstration of human technological achievement than a real attempt to enter into a conversation with extraterrestrials. In fact, the stars of M13, that the message was aimed at, will no longer be in that location when the message arrives.

In spite of the apparent purpose of the message, much of the UFOlogical community is ardent in its belief that someday a response will be received, whether in the form of a return signal or even a visit from our first galactic neighbours.

Whatever your particular bent on the nature of these signals, are these efforts worthwhile, or are they a giant waste of time, money and resources?  Voice your opinion in the comments section below.

Guest Author Emma Beeken Recounts Her Journey Through the Landscape of Science and Spirituality

Emma Beeken
The Beautiful and Sensitive Emma Beeken

One winter evening many many years ago, I walked to my friends house after supper. Thick snow on the ground and the lack of any cars or people made the stillness so eerily quiet that I could hear the beating of my child-size heart in my ears. My friend’s house was not even 100 metres away but before I was halfway there I stopped in my tracks, suddenly feeling irrepressibly drawn to look up at the wide open expanse of the dark sky, spectacularly glittering with millions of stars. And as I stood there, my friend’s house forgotten, head back (and probably with my mouth hanging open) I just knew. To me the secret of the universe had been revealed to me, and only me. And the secret was that everything is connected and there is far, far more to life than we can see, and that it is only one small part of our entire existence. I felt so safe, so secure, and as if nothing was beyond my reach.

I’ve never forgotten that moment, and until recently I’ve kept the experience to myself. Looking back on that incident, it’s clear just how incredibly significant it was, given that in the following years, and perhaps as a result of a long bout of depression I was going to find that out for myself.

My fascination with science and space from around that age was obvious to me, and I read books about the moon landing and watched Cosmos on T.V., as I debated in my mind on other things, such as whether god existed or not.  Even then I could see there was a huge divide between the scientific community and the religious. But I noticed that Mr Sagan seemed to see a connection between science and spirituality (something I’ve come to learn is far, far different than religion). From that moment he was my hero, because I felt the same.

The inimitable Carl Sagan

My sense that there was more to life than we could see never left me. As I grew older I became aware I was occasionally seeing things out of the corner of my eye. I kept them to myself, so no-one would think I was insane, and I wasn’t even sure myself. Usually I just shook them off and tried to ignore them.

These sightings came to a scary head when in my 20′s. I was a few years into a long depression and living in a flat above a shop. One day whilst I was washing dishes, I heard a crack beside me in the quiet kitchen. Looking for the source of the noise I saw a glass canister that was waiting by the sink had cracked and split near the bottom. What was weird was that my hands had been in the sink at the time, nowhere near it, and I was alone in the apartment. That on its own had me rattled enough. I told my boyfriend about the incident but I could see he wasn’t quite convinced. A couple of weeks later, we were sitting quietly on the couch watching TV when a glass sitting on the table just cracked and split near the bottom, just like the canister. This time I had a witness, needless to say we were a little freaked out. But soon we forgot about it, until one day listening to a local radio station. The DJ asked people to call in with any ghostly experiences they’d had and, just for a laugh we called in. We got on air – which was nothing significant, given the size of the audience. He listened with interest and then after the call ended a frightened sounding woman called in to warn us that it wasn’t the apartment that was haunted but it was me.

Well this wasn’t exactly what I wanted to hear, as I wasn’t quite sure what I could do about it. But fortunately those glass-breaking incidents stopped, as if simply acknowledging the incidents had been all the attention the spirit responsible had needed. Life moved on, and so did I – several times.

Every home that I’ve moved into since then I’ve been aware of being watched on arrival. I’ve seen a ghostly figure pass behind me reflected inside the glasses I wear, and when I’ve whipped around, and not being surprised to see no-one there. I’ve even seen a washing machine dial spin endlessly on its own – suddenly stopping when commanded to. But they haven’t always happen in a place where I’m living. Even as recently as a few weeks ago as I turned around from being served at a convenience store counter, I quickly had to jump out of the way to avoid crashing into an old lady who, on second glance, was never there

poltergeistBut the realisation that the sightings hadn’t stopped since moving away from that flat forced me to face the uncomfortable fact that there was probably a lot of truth to what the woman caller on the radio had told me. If the spirit or spirits were haunting me, what could I do about it and what did it or they want with me? My scientifically-inclined mind wanted the answers more than it frightened me.

Probably the very same reason I can see and sense spirits was most likely connected to the reason I had to stop going to crowded places in amongst all the moving. Being “sensitive” is what I found they call it, in spiritual circles. I found it excessively distressing to visit crowded places due to a disturbing ability to pick up on other people’s energy, all their anger, anxiety and even excitement. This was unfortunately doing absolutely nothing to alleviate my depression.

This was the point I made the decision to utilise my lifelong love of reading to recover. I started with a visit to the self-help shelf in our local bookstore. I did my best to search out the less mainstream volumes, and let my intuition guide me to something that would help. I did manage to find some lesser known self-help books, and those led seamlessly to others at an almost alarming rate, which were notably much more esoteric in nature. Exercise to yoga, to meditation, to Buddhism. Ancient Egypt, spiritual books and the afterlife according to aforementioned ancient Egyptians and others. Interestingly the books on the afterlife mostly seemed to concur that there are actually no evil spirits, just misguided and unhappy ones, and yes they can be damn terrifying when they want to be. They could very well be attracted to living souls who were, like me, very depressed. It made an interesting correlation between people’s energy and hauntings and even how energy can stay trapped in houses and buildings years after unhappy incidents such as death and murders. A couple of books on how to use our own power through visualisation to affect our reality came into my attention. From those and other reading I was even presented with the suggestion that perhaps it was my own befuddled and distressed energy that had broken those glass items all those years ago, albeit unconsciously.

But without even realising it, I’d stumbled back onto what had enthralled me when looking up at those stars all those years ago. I began to unavoidably see the common thread – the invisible thread – that binds us all.

Now some years later I am through my depression, thankfully but still on the course that the determination to recover had set me. My beliefs have not changed at all, I still reside in the perceived gap between science and spirituality with my hero Carl – and I am so pleased to see that more than a few notable scientists now seem to share the same thoughts.

The honest truth as I see it is that I’ve not even scratched the surface of what we can learn about our universe. Though I may never even know exactly what caused the breakages whether it was actually me or another spirit, I can’t say it really matters. But everything I’ve read between then and now from whatever genre, the general consensus suggests that there is a far stronger connection out there than a lot of us are aware of. My poltergeist story is just a teeny tiny piece of a much bigger puzzle. Though, between you and me, if it was me that broke those glasses, and I could harness that power there would really be no stopping me..

A fellow Earthling, Emma Beeken


Be sure to visit Emma at her own blog: emmabeeken.co.uk

Bob Lazar and His Ununpentium, The Story of Element 115

Heated debate between the believer and the non-believer always produces a significant amount of friction, but few arguments have been as vitriolic as the on-going disagreement between those who support Bob Lazar and those who don’t.

Lazar, as many of my readers are completely aware, is a UFOlogical mega-star, a living legend. He is the one and only seemingly credible former Area 51 whistleblower…or is he?

Lazar claims to have been involved with reverse engineering alien technology at a top secret government facility labelled S4, which is believed to be a subsidiary of the Groom Lake Nevada test facility known as Area 51.  Allegedly working at S4 from 1988 to 1989, Lazar says he saw nine different extraterrestrial vehicles there and has provided detailed information on the mode of propulsion and other technical details of a disc-shaped vehicle he called the sport model.

Robert “Bob” Lazar

Of course, Mr. Lazar isn’t without his detractors.  His credibility has been called into question over his alleged education and his involvement in the scientific community.  He claimed to hold degrees from the California Institute of Technology (Cal Tech) and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), though neither institution has any record of his attendance, as has been investigated by the likes of Stanton Friedman and the investigative team at the Los Angeles Times.  But a lack of records doesn’t necessarily discredit him completely, as many believe the government has been systematically erasing Lazars history, all in an effort to reduce his story into a steaming pile of misinformation.

Among the tales he’s told, one of the more technologically plausible is that of the propulsion system used by some of these alien craft, namely element 115.

Element 115 or Ununpentium, which sounds like something you might find on an alien moon called Pandora, is actually a real thing, believe it or not.  Currently known to mainstream science as a synthetic superheavy element in the periodic table, that has the temporary symbol Uup and has the atomic number 115; ununpentium is a candidate for the island of stability, which is not some tropical destination but rather a grouping of isotopes with stable half-lives.[1]

S4 Disc Reactor

According to mainstream science, element 115 was discovered in 2003 and cannot be found be found in nature.  Officially it is said to be very unstable with a half-life of only 200 milliseconds or so, much like its periodic table neighbours (with half-lives ranging from several nano-seconds to a few minutes).  It has only been synthesized in very small amounts, about 50 atoms to date.  But Lazar says otherwise, he stated that the US government has (or had) at least 500 pounds of the stuff, given to them by the Reticulan EBE’s (extraterrestrial biological entities).  According to Lazar, the ununpentium was processed by the Los Alamos National Laboratory, eventually creating several milled cones or wedges of the element that could then be used as fuel for the craft in question.  In its milled form, according to Lazar, it is highly stable and provides a gravitational force field that can be used to propel the craft.

To some in UFOlogy circles, Lazars description of the characteristics and effects of element 115, provides a plausible explanation for the flight characteristics of some, or well, most UFO reports and there are those who have put a great deal of effort and thought into the ununpentium question.[2] Analysis of the element is far beyond my chemistry knowledge, so I leave the scientific scrutiny up to the reader.

As is consistent with their mission, RationalWiki.com describes Lazar as an out-and-out liar, citing his missing educational records and sketchy work history as cause to doubt his claims.[3] [4] But support for Lazar and his story has been unwavering in the UFO and paranormal communities and there does seem to be some verifiable scientific endorsement, at least for his element 115 narrative.  The argument will continue for sure and likely we will never see a resolution of the facts at hand, but, as with all of these type of stories, the truth behind the legend is probably stranger than any one of us can imagine.

Göbekli Tepe, The Oldest Megalithic Mystery

If you’re a regular reader of my blog, especially lately, you’re probably already aware that I have a thing for ancient archaeological sites, particularly megaliths.  I find them fascinating and am in awe of the historical beauty and engineering mystery that they embody.  Were I financially independent, I would likely spend my time visiting the many hundreds of Neolithic sites around the world.

Today though, I’m interested in one site in particular, a site that, according to some, is the most important archaeological site ever discovered, if not the oldest.

Up until 1964, it was widely believed that the earliest megalithic constructions dated from around the 7th millennium BCE, and those sites were pointedly primitive and unrefined.  More sophisticated megalithic examples, such as Stonehenge in Wiltshire England, didn’t start popping up in our culture until 3000-2000 BCE.  One possible explanation for the emergence of such constructions is the free time afforded to our early ancestors by the advent of agriculture.  Now, not to lead you astray, by free time I don’t mean that they spent their days sitting on a rock doodling messages for their friends, 140 pictographs long.  I mean simply that the demands on their time shifted from seeking food and resources to cultivating them, thereby allowing the first inklings of social culture to creep into their days.

Of course, the move from hunter-gatherer to farmer began about 10,000 years ago, coinciding nicely with the first examples of megalithic structure, which were largely religious in nature.

A survey conducted by the Istanbul University and the University of Chicago shattered that belief however.  That survey marked the discovery of Göbekli Tepe, a Neolithic settlement in the Southeast Anatolia Region of Turkey, some 15 kilometres northeast of the town of Şanlıurfa, one that contains the oldest known human-made religious structure in the world.

What’s special about this location is the fact that researchers have found that the religious monument was built in the 10th millennium BCE, a full 2000-3000 years before any other similar construction.

The site, located on a hilltop known as “Potbelly Hill”, contains 20 round structures which had been buried, four of which have been excavated. Each round structure has a diameter of between 10 and 30 meters (30 and 100 ft) and all are decorated with massive, mostly T-shaped, limestone pillars that are the most striking feature of the site. The limestone slabs were carried from bedrock pits located around 100 meters (330 ft) from the hilltop, with Neolithic workers using flint points to carve the bedrock.

A few humanoid figures have surfaced at Göbekli Tepe, they include the engraving of a naked woman posed frontally in a crouched position that archaeologist Klaus Schmidt of the German Archaeological Institute of Istanbul likens to the Venus accueillante figures found in Neolithic North Africa, and a decapitated corpse surrounded by vultures in bas-relief.  Other carvings, of animals, and of human hands and stylized arms are thought to give the entire site an anthropomorphic identity.

Göbekli Tepe is regarded as an archaeological discovery of the greatest importance since it could profoundly change our understanding of a crucial stage in the development of human societies.  It suggests that this type of construction was available to our hunter-gatherer ancestors, rather than exclusively to the more sedentary farming communities.  To quote Schmidt: “First came the temple, then the city.”

That explanation sits well, as long as you buy the idea that it was our ancestors who built these megaliths.  Not to doubt the good Doctor Schmidt but some ancient alien theorists are quite sure that Neolithic man lacked the tools, both physical and mental, to build such things.  Opting instead for the somewhat fanciful idea that aliens or inter-dimensional beings were responsible.  Despite the fact that all current information points to this being a man-made structure, there does exist the possibility however unlikely.

Beyond the question of who is why and there again, the ancient alien theorists have their hand up.  Mainstream researchers are confident that Göbekli Tepe was built for religious worship, likely of shamanistic gods, and that the settlement was constructed after the temple, possibly indicating that the site was initially the destination of a desert pilgrimage and later became home to hundreds.  This reasoning isn’t really in question, what the AAT’s (ancient alien theorists) believe that those shamanistic gods weren’t the focus of Göbekli Tepe.  They claim that this site, among many others, was a place for worshiping the sky gods, or in other words…ancient astronauts.

Whatever you believe, whether aliens, Mothman or Bigfoot were responsible for building Göbekli Tepe, it remains an interesting topic, and the repercussions of its excavation could be far reaching in the academic world, not to mention the world of ancient alien theory.

Voice your opinion in the comments section below.

The Bélmez Faces, Supernatural or Silly?

Emit - The Mysterious UnknownWow!  Jesus appeared in my dirty laundry, I think he’s trying to tell me to wash my clothes.  OK, maybe not, but if you believe the claims of some international media outlets Jesus is appearing in some pretty strange places of late, namely in the drop cloth of a man from Massachusetts.

“My heart went a million miles an hour. I was hyperventilating,” Brian Krantz, told WHDH Channel 7 News. “A crown or a halo. Two eyes. Mustache, nose, there’s the chin, jaw line. His right arm out like that with cloths he was buried in hanging down,” said Krantz.

Is he nuts?  Is he the victim of Pareidolia?  Or did he really capture the essence of the Divine Son in his painting rag?  Who knows…

In the world of the paranormal, seeing faces in your toast is quite a normal thing, really, but seldom do they show something so poignant.  One example of this phenomenon, one that has been called the best-documented and without doubt the most important paranormal phenomenon in the 20th century, is that of the Bélmez Faces.

The story begins in 1971, when Maria Gómez Cámara claimed that a human face had appeared on her cement kitchen floor.  Subsequent to its discovery, Cámara’s husband Juan Pereira and their son Miguel hacked up the floor with pickaxes and replaced it with new concrete, only to be faced with another image a few days later.  Since then, many jesushundreds of faces of different shapes, sizes and expressions have appeared and disappeared on the Pereira’s kitchen floor.

Named after the town of  Bélmez de la Moraleda, Jaén, Andalusia, Spain, the faces have garnered a huge amount of fanfare over the years, beckoning hundreds upon hundreds of people to make the pilgrimage to Bélmez, all in the hopes of catching a fleeting glimpse of the faces that continue to appear to this day.

Because of the longevity of this particular case, local and international researchers have investigated the hell out of the Pereira’s home, most of whom came up empty when it comes to conclusions.  But conclusions be damned, the evidence speaks for itself, which by the way includes photographs, EVP’s, video footage and a host of environmental readings.  The paranormal community at large is fairly well unanimous in its support of the Bélmez Faces, and the leading theory of their cause is thoughtographic imprinting.

Considered to be an extension of other psychokinetic phenomenon, thoughtographicimprinting is said to be a process by which a psychic subconsciously causes images or script to appear on or “burn into” surfaces like…concrete.  Also known as Nensha(Chinese), projected thermography or nengraphy,[1] thoughtography became relatively famous in

belmez montagethe early 1900’s when Tomokichi Fukurai, an assistant professor of psychology at Tokyo University and a firm believer in the supernatural, used self-proclaimed psychics who were said to have a history with Nensha, to prove the existence of such phenomena, though was largely unsuccessful.  Other attempts by Ted Serios[2] and Uri Geller[3]saw marginal success in their own efforts.

In the case of the Bélmez Faces, it is thought that Cámara was subconsciously causing the imprints, though her death in February of 2004 (at the age of 85) brings that theory into question as the faces continue to appear.  Some claim that Cámara’s ghost is now causing the images; others however suggest that there must either be another cause or someone else was performing the Nensha.

Of course, the sceptics have their own theory, which pretty much diminishes the Bélmez Faces to a well performed hoax.  The Pereira’s son Miguel has been accused of spending hours drawing the faces on the floor, and chemical analysis of the concrete of the floor seems to show traces of paint, which admittedly could have come from anywhere.

Regardless of the sceptical view, people all over the world are convinced that the faces are supernatural, some even claim divine influence.  Nonetheless, droves of people still flock to Bélmez in search of thrills and answers.

What do you think causes the Bélmez Faces?

Grey Goo, The Nanotechnological Terror

It starts small, and innocent.  A technological marvel is presented to the world, it promises to revolutionise the very fabric of our lives.  A nanotechnology that will serve to protect us from environmental and even medical threats, will build better materials more efficiently and with lower cost, and will create benefits in nearly every aspect of human life…in theory.

But things don’t go smoothly in practice; self-replicating nano-bots seemed like a good idea on paper, but a slight programming error causes the little soldiers to replicate out of control, consuming resources in that effort, eventually decimating the face of the Earth.

Seems like the plot to a halfway decent made-for-TV movie one might watch at 2:00am, but what if I told you that the above is a scenario that has been given an undue amount of attention, scientifically?

The above is actually the premise behind the idea known as Grey Goo.  Also called ecophagy (“eating the environment”), this is a little known end-of-the-world scenario involving molecular nanotechnology in which out-of-control self-replicating robots consume all matter on Earth while building more of themselves.

The idea comes from American engineer and nanotechnology expert K. Eric Drexler, who coined the phrase Grey Goo in his book Engines of Creation (1986).

“Early assembler-based replicators could beat the most advanced modern organisms. ‘Plants’ with ‘leaves’ no more efficient than today’s solar cells could out-compete real plants, crowding the biosphere with an inedible foliage. Tough, omnivorous ‘bacteria’ could out-compete real bacteria: they could spread like blowing pollen, replicate swiftly, and reduce the biosphere to dust in a matter of days. Dangerous replicators could easily be too tough, small, and rapidly spreading to stop — at least if we made no preparation. We have trouble enough controlling viruses and fruit flies.”[1]

Believe it or not, the idea of Grey Goo, a term that describes the after-effects of molecular nanotechnology, is one that holds a good deal of scientific credence…it’s a real thing!

While Drexler admits that the exponential growth of such technology would be limited by the availability of resources needed for self-replication, this is hollow sucker for the rest of us.  A doomsdays scenario reminiscent of the mechanism of destruction portrayed in the 2008 remake of The Day The Earth Stood Still staring Jennifer Connelly and Keanu Reeves seems especially frightening considering the speed with which it could happen –Drexler says a runaway Grey Goo situation could consume the surface of the Earth in a few days- and the relentless nature of that particular foe is no comfort either.

In the face of this potential horror, Drexler admits that the likelihood of such technology coming to the fore is slim to none, as self-replicating machines are needlessly complicated and inefficient.  But let’s not let our guard down, lest we find ourselves at the mercy of some Dr. Evil type character with a handful of nano-bots at his command.

One might question the need to even think of such scenarios and but “Grey goo is a useful construct for considering low probability, high impact outcomes from emerging technologies. Thus, it is a useful tool in the ethics of technology.”[2]

Case in point, a History Channel broadcast presented a similar idea with a futuristic doomsday scenario:

“In a common practice, billions of nano-bots are released to clean up an oil spill off the coast of Louisiana. However, due to a programming error, the nano-bots devour all carbon based objects, instead of just the hydrocarbons of the oil. The nano-bots destroy everything, all the while, replicating themselves. Within days, the planet is turned to dust.”

So now that you’ve got the heebie jeebies thinking about these little robots –I imagine millions of little Bender (Futurama) type bots with a horny obsession for eating carbon- I’ll leave you with this final thought: while this technology doesn’t currently exist and likely will not exist in any form for legitimate scientific purposes, nothing is stopping more nefarious people or groups from developing molecular nanotechnology for terroristic means.

[1] Engines of Creation (Chapter 11), K. Eric Drexler

[2]  Vallero, Daniel (2007). Biomedical Ethics for Engineers: Ethics and Decision Making in Biomedical and Biosystem Engineering. Academic Press. ISBN 9780080476100.

Cornerstone UFO Cases

Open your browser to the Google Search page, type in UFO and hit �?search’.  You should see somewhere in the neighbourhood of 186,000,000 results.  Now try the same with YouTube.  There you’ll see somewhere near six million results.  This is the state of UFOlogy today, millions upon millions of sightings, pictures, videos and stories, and common sense should tell you that they can’t all be true.  What percentage of those untold numbers are hoaxes, or misidentified technology, or just whackos who see aliens in their soup?

UFOlogy, of course, covers a wide array of phenomena, as is delineated by the classic encounter scale (Also known as the Hynek Scale[1]):

First Kind – visual sightings of an unidentified flying object.

Second Kind – visual sightings plus the accompanying of physical evidence.

Third Kind – sightings of “occupants” in and around the UFO.

Fourth Kind – a human is abducted by a UFO or its occupants. (This type was not included in Hynek’s original close encounters scale, though is typically considered part of the classic scale)

There are several extensions to the above scale, covering everything from psychic communication with aliens to mating and breeding with ET, but for general purposes the Extended Hynek Scale above is sufficient.

Even these four types of encounters leave us with millions of cases to investigate, and in amongst the vast crowd of encounters, there are some cases that stand to a little more scrutiny, cases that might be called the cornerstone cases of UFOlogy:

(Presented in chronological order)


300px-RoswellDailyRecordJuly8,1947The quintessential UFO encounter, Roswell refers to the small town of Roswell, New Mexico, where in July of 1947 a craft of unknown origin allegedly crashed in a farmer’s field.  Eyewitness accounts told of the bodies of little green men strewn about the crash site and a surplus of debris that was subsequently collected by military personnel.  Following the event, the military first offered a statement admitting that a “flying disc” had crashed and was in government custody, but later changed their story claiming that the craft was nothing more than a weather balloon (thought to be an implement of Project Mogul).  The public, then as now, largely disagrees with the official story and this case has been the focus of much controversy and conspiracy theorising.

Betty & Barney Hill

The first widely publicized claim of alien abduction, the Hill’s case is largely touted as the mother of all Fourth Kind encounters.  As the story goes, the Hill’s were returning from a vacation in Canada and travelling through a rural area of New Hampshire on the evening of September 19, 1961. As they travelled along, they noticed a particularly bright star in the night sky and they watched as it apparently began to follow them.

At some point the couple stopped along the roadway, just south of Groveton New Hampshire on US Route 3, to walk their dog before completing the final leg of their long journey home.  Shortly after their pit stop, the couple suffered what seemed to be a lapse in memory, and found themselves again driving along Route 3 with no recollection of having gotten back into the car.

Prompted by the missing time they experienced and by some physical evidence on Betty’s dress, the couple later underwent hypnosis in an effort to retrieve memories.  The story then took a dark turn; during hypnosis Betty recalled horrifying details of abduction by extraterrestrials, providing descriptions of the craft, the occupants and even details of a star map (of Zeta-Reticuli) that at the time was thought to be anomalous, but was later confirmed to be accurate.  The Hill’s story was adapted into the best-selling 1966 book The Interrupted Journey and the 1975 television movie The UFO Incident.

Shag Harbour UFO Incident

The Shag Harbour UFO incident was the reported impact of an unknown large object into waters near Shag Harbour, a tiny fishing village in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia on October 4, 1967.  While there were no clear descriptions of the craft and there were wide spread opinions that it was a manmade aircraft, what makes this case quite unique is that Police and government officials reported that the craft was an unidentified flying object.  This might seem rather elementary, but it’s leaps and bounds ahead of anything the U.S. government has ever admitted.

The impact was investigated by various civilian (Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Canadian Coast Guard) and military (Royal Canadian Navy and Royal Canadian Air Force) agencies of the Government of Canada. The RCN conducted at least one underwater search in an attempt to locate the remains of any associated objects, though nothing was ever found.

Subsequent to the investigation, several military witnesses, including one RCN diver claimed that an alien space craft was responsible for the impact.

The Travis Walton Incident

Popularised by the movie Fire in the sky, which details Walton’s story, the Travis Walton Incident is unique among other encounters due to the fact that there were corroborating witnesses to his abduction.

On the afternoon of November 5, 1975, Walton and four of his companions were driving down a lonely logging road in Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona after a long day of logging on the mountain.  The group, at some point, encountered a strange craft hovering above a clearing several feet from the roadway.  While the rest of his crew were terrified, Walton left the truck and approached the craft, only to be engulfed in a beam of intense white-green light that lifted him off the ground and threw him over 10 feet.  Believing he was dead, the crew, led by Mike Rogers, sped away in fear for their own lives, only to return to the site a few minutes later and finding Walton missing.

Despite police involvement from the beginning and a five day manhunt, Walton was feared dead, until he was “returned” five days later with physical wounds to his face and body and no recollection of what had happened.  Over the days that followed, he displayed symptoms of psychological trauma, including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and eventually memories of the abduction started to come back, gruesome as they were.  Walton’s accounting of the missing time details examination and experimentation by alien beings onboard their craft, but the personal toll experienced by the entire group of loggers was largely the focus of public attention.

The Rendlesham Forest Incident

The Rendlesham Forest Incident is the name given to a series of reported sightings of unexplained lights and the alleged landing of a craft or multiple craft of unknown origin in Rendlesham Forest, Suffolk, England, in late December 1980.  This case is possibly the best documented UFO sighting or contact experience in history.  It happened just outside RAF Woodbridge, used at the time by the U.S. Air Force and involved several dozen U.S. Air Force personnel.

Official reports of the incident have been suppressed and possibly forged by Air Force brass, but the personal, eyewitness accounts of some of the men involved raises a few eyebrows.  Namely, Deputy Base Commander Colonel Charles Halt, from whom a lengthy voice recording of the event, as it occurred has become available, and Sergeant Jim Penniston, who claims to have had direct contact with a craft in the woods just outside the base.  Penniston’s accounting tells of strange symbols or marking on the outside of the craft and he claims that when he touched one of the symbols a large sequence of 1’s and 0’s appeared in his mind.  Those 1’s and 0’s later proved to be a binary code sequence that, according to some, reveals plans to “explore humanity” and provides several coordinates for geographical locations.

The Belgium Wave

The Petit Rechain Photo

The Beligium Wave is a series of UFO sightings in (you guessed it) Belgium, over the period of November 29, 1989 to April 1990.  What sets this event apart from most others is both the large number of credible witnesses, such as Police Officers and government officials, but also because this was the first major sighting of a craft or crafts that were triangle in shape rather than the traditional disc or saucer shape.  There were over 2000 sighting reports over 18 months, 650 of which were investigated with 500 remaining completely unexplained.

This event was best captured by a now famous photo of the craft known as the Petit Rechain photo, which is largely dubbed the best UFO picture ever taken.  It has been analysed by two independent nuclear physicists and is deemed to be entirely genuine, which is a monumental conclusion considering the state of UFOlogy.

Phoenix Lights

On March 13, 1997, thousands of people in Phoenix, Arizona witnessed an incredible sight in the early evening sky.  Now known as the Phoenix Lights, this event happened in two parts.  Part one was the sighting by many people of an enormous �?delta wing’ or boomerang shaped craft that silently floated over the city between 8:00 and 9:00pm.  Part two was a series of stationary lights that appeared over the south side of the city, which were later said to be flares dropped by A-10 Warthog aircraft performing training exercises in the area at approximately 10:00pm.

This case is important not only because of the huge number of witnesses, but also because there was government interest in explaining the phenomenon at both the local and state level.  Former Governor Fife Symington, who claims to have witnessed the craft himself, came under fire for a publicity stunt he pulled, wherein one of his aids was paraded out at a press conference wearing an alien costume.  Expressing remorse for his not-well-thought-out gag, Symington later pressed military officials for an explanation to the event but was apparently stone-walled.

As mentioned above, these have been what some consider to be the cornerstone UFO cases among the millions and millions of reports.  Though nothing concrete has ever been found that proves that these encounters were extraterrestrial in nature, many are adamant that ET’s exist and are visiting our planet.  The abduction stories offer a chilling glimpse into the modus operandi of such ET’s, but doesn’t necessarily mean they are malevolent.  It could be that they are indifferent, much as we are to many of the bugs that trod under our own feet.

While the above offers a good cross section of the headline cases in UFOlogy, the sheer number of accounts available ensures that some will disagree with this assessment, thus stands an open invitation for anyone who would like, to submit their pick for cornerstone UFO Case in the comment section below.

[1] J. Allen Hynek first postulated the scale in his 1972 book The UFO Experience: A Scientific Inquiry.

Flying Humanoids, What’ll They Think of Next?

Courtesy of Rense.com

Courtesy of Rense.com

It’s a bird…it’s a plane…it’s… What the hell is that?  Since the Wright Brother’s first flight in December of 1903, our skylines have seen a flood of aeronautical wonders, from simple propeller planes to jumbo jets to stealth bombers, but all these have something in common, they’re airplanes.  What some people have been witnessing in the sky can hardly be compared to these technological marvels.

Flying Men Phenomenon, which, as the term suggests, is the strange trend being reported in many parts of the world describing humanoid figures flying or hovering without any apparent technological assistance.  Stories of Flying Men come from such exotic locales as the Solomon Islands (as previously reported in The Solomon Island Giants and their ET Neighbours) Japan and even right here in North America, a laBrooklyn, New York and most recently San Luis Valley, Colorado.

Colorado is no stranger to unexplained phenomena, what with their long history of UFO sightings, Bigfoot cases and even a satanic encounter or two.  Most of the accountings tell tales of weird humanoid looking figures hovering high above populated areas for minutes to hours.  Some say the figures are winged, others say they look just like an action figure hanging in mid air.

There are a few blurry photographs on the internet, but nothing to write home about, most are so out of focus that all you can see is a blob centre frame.  If you do a Google search for Flying Men you’ll get only a few relevant results mixed in with an ambiguous list of sites referencing other aerial phenomenon.  But one thing you might notice is that the information you’ll find is suspiciously similar, as if all the websites offering Flying Men stories are all just re-postings of the same blog article, the original for which is difficult to determine.

Courtesy of Rense.com

Courtesy of Rense.com

That article explains, quite briefly, about Colorado’s colourful past, and offers a cursory description of the Flying Men, much as you read above, but there’s no corroborative information listed and one is hard pressed to find a date for any of the reports –though if you look hard enough you can find a rare case or two, such as the report out of Poland in 2000[1], but even that report is second-hand and lacks any corroboration.

One report does stand out against the background however, and that one comes courtesy of the famous Rense.com.  The post, authored by Santiago Yturria and titled The Mysterious Flying Humanoids details a series of sightings in Colonia Agricola Oriental, Mexico, by renowned Mexican sky-watcher and UFOlogist Salvador Guerrero among several others.

In March of 2000 Guerrero captured a spectacular sequence of video footage of a so-called flying humanoid over his home.  This marked the beginning of a long series of sightings all over Mexico, a series that produced the best known photos and video captures of this phenomena.

The single thread of commonality between all of the reports, including those that occurred in foreign airspace, is that the witnesses were able to see, clearly, fully formed arms and legs, which begs the question…what the hell are these things?

Despite the evidence and anecdotal reports, little serious investigation has been undertaken in this regard, and as you might imagine, everyone is scratching their heads trying to come up with an explanation.  Whatever they are, it appears no one region has a monopoly on the Flying Men phenomenon and if you watch the skies long enough, who knows what you might see.


[1] About.com, 2000: Flying Humanoid in Poland,http://ufos.about.com/od/ufofolkloremythlegend/a/polandhumanoid.htm