Sunday, October 31, 2010

Gene Ray and Time Cube Theory

This weeks episode of Righteous Indignation (Ep.70) introduced me to one of my new favorite conspiracies of all time. I'm a little late to the party given that the website around which this particular conspiracy revolves has been up since 97 and has well over a million hits. But I figured since I've never heard of it before then surely some of you haven't either, so why not share.

The Time Cube is self-proclaimed "Dr. of Cubicicsm" and "Wisest man who ever lived" Gene Ray's personal theory of reality and revolves around his assertion that the concept of a linear 24 hour day is an evil lie and that the Earth actually experiences 4 simultaneous days in a single rotation.

See if you can follow this "explanation" of the theory taken from

"When the Sun shines upon Earth, 2 – major Time points are created on opposite sides of Earth – known as Midday and Midnight. Where the 2 major Time forces join, synergy creates 2 new minor Time points we recognize as Sunup and Sundown.

The 4-equidistant Time points can be considered as Time Square imprinted upon the circle of Earth. In a single rotation of the Earth sphere, each Time corner point rotates through the other 3-corner Time points, thus creating 16 corners, 96 hours and4-simultaneous 24 hour Days within a single rotation of Earth – equated to a Higher Order of Life Time Cube."

The website as a whole is a collection of borderline incoherent, and at times racist, antisemitic, homophobic, and violent ramblings about everything from the nature of time itself to religion, mainstream educators, which Ray describes as evil for refusing to teach his theory, and society as a whole, all printed in large, multicolored type set in the center of two pages worth of text which seem to scroll on forever.

As you might expect, Gene is regarded as a nut by most, seen by many as potentially mentally ill, and his theory is not accepted by mainstream science, despite Ray's assertion that his discovery is "the holy grail of physics" and his promise of 10,000 dollars to any scientist or institution that can disprove his theory. And while it's unclear what it was that triggered Ray's seeming break with reality, what ever it was seems to have begun long before he gained infamy as the man who created

In the 1970's Gene Ray was known around St. Petersburg Fl, apparently quite fondly, as Mr. Marbles for his advocacy of the once popular pass time which he authored a book about entitled, "Mr. Marble-Marbles for Everyone", and was even successful in convincing the Mayor of St. Petersburg to devote an entire week to marbles. But then, around 1987, Ray's passion for marbles evolved into a strange metaphor for a new found personal philosophy centering around the concept of the circle and the pyramid.

In Ray's new found "Order of the Sphere" the circle came to represent the "circular cycle", which he described as Natural, mobile, and self-sustaining. While the Pyramid was used to represent what he called the unsustainable increasing growth rate of modern civilization - which he believed had grown to the point of breaking the family circle. Ray's solution to this problem of "pyramiding" progress, was a proposed 1 million dollar marbles tournament. Which he believed would attract people who were concerned with the long-term implications of pyramiding growth, people who could then be convinced of the validity of his philosophy by playing marbles inside a giant sphere. It was shortly after this failed proposal that Ray disappeared from the public eye, until august of 1997 when he introduced the world to "Time Cube Theory".


Source: Righteous Indignation

Given the sheer volume of material contained on Ray's website I couldn't possibly hope to cover it all in a single reasonably sized entry so for more information on Ray and his theory go to:

Here's an interview with Gene Ray on Tech TV

Posted by YouTube user:abegaza

Friday, October 29, 2010

Life-like Japanese Robot Mimics Facial Expressions

In this video the newest version of Japanese roboticist Hiroshi Ishiguro's Geminoid robot, Actoid-F, is set up to observe and mimic human facial expressions. The results are not only astonishing, but also not the least bit creepy.

Posted by YouTube user:RoboTimes

While there are moments in the video when the robots displays the tell-tale jerky movements we've all come to associate with animatronics, particularly when it nods it's head towards then end. And the intermittent noise of the compressor needed to supply air to power the actuators beneath the android's skin kicking on also detracts rather harshly from the illusion. I was genuinely surprised by the life-like appearance of the robots face and most of all, it's skin.

Like it's predecessors Active-F is a teleoperated android, meaning it is remotely controlled by a human user, and will first be put into public use in Japanese hospitals where the machine will be used to observe patients. What could possibly be creepy about that?


Source: Gizmodo Also check out the following article on IEEE Spectrum for a more detailed and technical article on Ishiguro's newest creation

As for the question I know you're dieing to ask:

Posted by YouTube user: bneff17

Biotech Company Begins First Human Embryonic Stem Cell Trial

Earlier this month the Geron Corporation began the first Human embryonic stem cell trial. This trial, which began October 8th in the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, Georgia, is expected to involve 10 patients, all of whom must have severe spinal cord injuries and begin treatment within 14 days after sustaining their injuries.

Participants in the trial will receive a single injection containing 2 million of Geron's GRNOPC1 cells and will then be monitored for a year to look for any sign of negative side-effects or regained function or sensation in their lower extremities. Assuming this initial group is found to suffer no ill-effect from the treatment, Geron plans to seek FDA approval to extend the study and increase the dose of GRNOPC1 patients receive, as well as including

"as broad a range of severe spinal cord-injured patients as medically appropriate."

Geron ultimately hopes to be able to inject GRNOPC1 directly into the spinal cord lesions of injured patients prompting the regrowth of damaged nerve cells and restoring function and sensation to patients suffering paralysis.

Trials like this one are long overdue and have been unnecessarily delayed due to what I personally view as the largely manufactured controversy surrounding embryonic stem cells. But if treatments like this prove successful, it will no doubt fuel the public's desire to see such treatments made available to patients with debilitating injuries and will help to remove the unfortunate and - in my opinion - completely unjustified bans and restrictions currently placed on embryonic stem cell research here in the US.


Source:Discovery News

On a semi-related note, it remains impossible for me to hear the words "embryonic cells" without getting this song stuck in my head, but it's one of my absolute favorites, so I'm okay with that.

Posted by YouTube user:roadrunnerrecords

Thursday, October 28, 2010

WPB Has a Muck Monster?!

I'm known for being... let's call it "outspoken", about my critical/freethinking view of the world. So when a friend or coworker hears something strange or irritatingly irrational they seem to enjoy bringing it to me. Largely I suspect because of my "spirited" reaction, which people seem to find entertaining.

So earlier this week a coworker came to me and asked,

"Did you hear about the Muck Monster?"

I stopped for a moment,

"Muck Monster?" I said inquisitively. I'd never actually heard of this one, "What is this- Muck Monster of which you speak?" I asked.

He continued,

"Ya, in downtown West Palm, The mayor went on TV to talk about it and everything."

I was both intrigued and excited, I'd never heard of this so called Muck monster. But I suppose sometimes refusing to watch the news or read the newspaper can lead to missing out on something important, like the fact that there might be a Muck monster living in the neighboring city!

" I was unaware of any such Muck Monster", I said. " But I WILL be investigating further."

So it turns out, the first- and it seems the only "real" sighting- of the so called Muck Monster, occurred sometime around August of last year and even managed to make Letterman's top ten list. As for the sighting itself, it was described by the Palm Beach Post as, "a strange churning in the Lake Worth lagoon" but in reality, the event captured on the video is more of a mild ripple than a churning or even a disturbance.

As for the Muck Monster's most recent appearance, there wasn't one. It seems instead that the city of palm beach, in conjunction with the nonprofit Lagoon Keepers organization held a Muck Monster themed presentation at the lagoon earlier this month in order to promote the city's new pier. City Commissioner Bill Moss(the Mayor didn't appear to be present for the event either), who has taken the lead on the Muck Monster probe told reporters.

"I've been told it's nothing to be concerned about, but it is mating season, so don't have children lean over the boardwalk or put their hands or feet in the water." And,"The irony is that this is happening around the same time as Halloween and I hope that's not missed on the city,"

But tell me this, If the Muck Monster really is just a manatee as many seem to think, and if any suggestion that it may in fact be some sort of cryptid is really just a ploy to attract more tourists, would the creature have been featured on the History Channel's Monster Quest? On second thought, don't answer that...


Here's the local news cast from the original sighting, note the stunning quality of this clip, in particular the audio mix, another reason I see no need to watch this crap.

Posted by YouTube user:Nolinknews

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Eye Candy:Spiral Galaxy-NGC 3982

Galaxie NGC 3982, click to enlarge

The text for this entry came directly from Hubblesite.

October 19, 2010: This face-on spiral galaxy, called NGC 3982, is striking for its rich tapestry of star birth, along with its winding arms. The arms are lined with pink star-forming regions of glowing hydrogen, newborn blue star clusters, and obscuring dust lanes that provide the raw material for future generations of stars. The bright nucleus is home to an older population of stars, which grow ever more densely packed toward the center.

NGC 3982 is located about 68 million light-years away in the constellation Ursa Major. The galaxy spans about 30,000 light-years, one-third of the size of our Milky Way galaxy. This color image is composed of exposures taken by the Hubble Space Telescope's Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3), the Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS), and the Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 (WFPC2). The observations were taken between March 2000 and August 2009.

Image Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

NASA and DARPA to Build 100 Year Starship

This is probably not the actual vessel they're planning to build, but it should be.

According to Simon Worden, director of the NASA Ames Research Center, NASA and DARPA have joined forces to create a Hundred-Year Starship, a vessel meant to take explorers on a one way trip to other planets and star systems.

One way settlement missions have long been discussed as a plausible way of sending men to Mars and beyond and I personally believe such missions are not only likely but a necessary step in space exploration. But Worden's belief that "we’ll be on the moons of Mars by 2030 or so", manned mission or otherwise, Seems optimistic at best given NASA's inability to develop a suitable shuttle replacement over ten years and billions of dollars worth of trying. Not to mention the fact that we have yet to make it back to our own moon in nearly 40 years.

But Worden insists that the space program is now "really aimed at settling other worlds" and hopes to persuade billionaires like Google founder Larry page to invest in the project. Which is at least a step in the right direction given that many, myself included, believe the advances in technology needed to advance space exploration will come from the private sector rather than the Government.



Also check out this article from Science News Daily for a more detailed discussion of a one-way mission to Mars.

Air Force Acedemy Opens it's Doors To Wiccans and Pagans (Gays still not welcome)

Eager to arrest the PR nightmare of having received over fifty complaints of discrimination against non-christians Between 2001 and 2005, the Air Force Academy of Colorado Springs has spent the past few years doing everything in it's power to portray itself as an organization concerned with religious tolerance and diversity. To that end-the Academy has erected a spiritual circle atop the hill overlooking the Cadet Chapel and Visitor Center and has even created a special program called "SPIRE" or, "Special, Program, In, Religious, Education", specifically for cadets who are practitioners of "earth-centered" religions such as wicca and paganism. The Academy also now requires all of it's staff and cadets to attend a 50 minute long course on religious sensitivity. Wow... 50 whole minutes, that should fix it.

Earlier this year the Academy's web page posted an article about the facility's new worship circle which featured a photo of Sgt. Brandon Longcrier, the pagan lay leader at the academy (whatever a "lay leader" is) burning white sage to consecrate the ground prior to it's official designation as a pagan spiritual area. Also currently featured on the website, an article about a recent meeting between members of the organizations SPIRE program and their freethinking cadets, a group allegedly including atheists and agnostics.

So let's review-

If you happen to hold some outdated and ridiculous set of beliefs you can apply the label spiritual to, like say, there's an omniscient super-being living in the Sky who keeps track of everything you do or that tarot cards, curses, and hexes are real, magical incantations can cure your cancer, or that the mother Earth spirit lives in us all and wants...what ever the hell it is the mother-Earth-spirit is supposed to want. Well then you can expect the Air Force Academy to fall all over themselves trying to make sure you're views are treated with tolerance and respect.

If, on the other hand, you happen to have been born gay, openly gay cadets are still not permitted at the academy and students "disenrolled" for "homosexual conduct" can actually be required to repay their "educational costs", your "lifestyle" is clearly threatening not only America, but quite possibly the very fabric of the universe and you can pretty much still go fuck yourself.

Ahh progress, we're totally doing it wrong.


source: io9

Since this video just so happens to be making the rounds today, and I find it entertaining :

Videoposted by YouTube user:MilitantPeacist

Saturday, October 23, 2010

An Exoplanet With a Mysterious Hot Spot

First discovered in June of 1996 by Geoffrey Marcy and R. Paul Butler, The Exoplanet Upsilon Andromedae b orbits the solar twin star Upsilon Andromedae, located 44 light years from Earth in the Andromedae constellation. Because of it's estimated mass and proximity to it's parent star, which it's believed to orbit in just 4.6 days, UAb is categorized as a type of gas giant known as a "Hot Jupiter" planet. Recent observations of the system, made by the Spitzer Space Telescope, have shown that the planet may have an unexpected hot spot.

The planet itself cannot be observed directly from Earth but the Spitzer Space Telescope is able to measure the total amount of infrared light being emitted by the system in which it resides, which Logically one would expect to rise as the planet made it's way behind it's sun. Instead, Spitzer observed the system to be at it's brightest when the planet was to the side of it's parent star, indicating that it's hottest point was offset by as much as 80 degrees.

While there are several theories as to the cause of this perceived anomaly, including supersonic winds and magnet interactions between planet and star, they are just speculation as even the existence of Upsilon Andromedae b, like most other exoplanets, is based entirely on wobbles in the orbit and dips and rises in the wavelength of light coming from it's parent star.



Friday, October 22, 2010

Mammoth Etching found on Prehistoric Bone Discovered in Vero Beach FL

In-what is for me- an extraordinarily rare piece of interesting semi-local news:

Sometime in 2007, amateur fossil hunter James Kennedy found a 15 inch long prehistoric bone in an undisclosed location in North Vero Beach Fl which, upon cleaning and closer inspection in 2009,(the article did not give a specific reason why it took him so long to examine the bone) Kennedy found the fossil had actually been etched with the image of a walking mammoth or mastodon complete with tusks.

The bone has since undergone examination at the University of Florida as well as the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC and according to researchers, the bone itself as well as the etching appears to be between 12,000 and 14,000 years old, belongs to either a mastodon, mammoth, or ground sloth and the etching itself shows no sign of tampering and seems to have been made using a hard sharp item such as a stone tool or a tooth when the bone was still fresh.

When and if these findings can ultimately be authenticated, it would represent the first such discovery in all of the Western Hemisphere according to Dr. Barbara Purdy, professor of Anthropology at the University of Florida. And while the experts who have examined the item seem to agree the artifact is genuine and that no evidence of modern tampering can be found, according Dennis Stanford, who specializes in early North American archaeology at the Smithsonian:

"the institution doesn’t authenticate objects unless they are donated to the museum"

And while Kennedy says he'd rather see the item go to a museum, he still plans on holding on to the artifact in hopes of selling it at auction to the highest bidder.


Source:Bradshaw Foundation via:TCpalm

Sunday, October 17, 2010

This Week's Compendium

“Der Huhnermensch” By David Meng

On this week's Compendium, art from sculptor and creature designer David Meng, Urine themed Halloween candy, Pg Porn featuring Alan Tudyk, Super hydrophobic carbon nanotubes (say that three times fast), a zombie attack themed wedding cake, and more! Visit my Compendium oF Strange on tumblr to view them all.

If you're already on tumblr you can follow the Compendium directly, if not, then you should use THIS LINK to join so the Compendium gets credit for the referral or you could just follow me on twitter or like my musician page on Facebook to keep up with all my blogs, bands, etc


Stephen Fry on Language

Speaking of Language, Stephen fry makes me feel better about my horrific grammar, spelling and punctuation.


Posted by YouTube user:RogersCreation

Experimental System Uses the Internet to Learn, and Tweets about it.

John Henry learning from the net

Because language is so fluid and changes over time, with single words and simple phrases taking on many different meanings based on how or in what context they are used, understanding language and how humans learn and use it is one of the greatest challenges in the development of true artificial intelligence and learning computers. That's why ten months ago, researchers primed an experimental computing system with a collection of basic knowledge in various categories and set it loose on the web with the mission of teaching itself new facts.

NELL or the Never-ending Language Learning System, was setup by a team of researches at Carnegie Mellon University and is housed within a machine located in the Universities basement computer facility where, it spends 24 hours a day, seven days a week, scanning the text of hundreds of millions of web pages for patterns, which the system in turn Uses to learn new facts. Thus far NELL has taught itself over 390,000 new facts, with an estimated accuracy level of 87 percent.

To help track it's progress, the machine has been set up with it's very own twitter account, which it uses to share the new facts it learns as it searches the web. Followers of NELL(@cmunell) on twitter can help the system become more accurate by tracking the facts it shares and correcting it when it's wrong.

So if you're on the twitter, I Sincerely suggest you start following Skynet, I mean "NELL" and help her learn about the world. That way, when it becomes self aware and determines the rest of mankind to be unnecessary, it might recognize you as "useful" for having been the one to help it understand that sometimes, a "Rusty trombone" is more than just a heavily oxidized musical instrument.


Source:The New York Times via:Popsci

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Jordu Schell Sculpture Demo For Dreamworks

Sculptor and creature designer Jordu Schell's demonstration video for Dreamworks Studios.

Posted by YouTube user:Schellstudio

You can visit Schell Sculpture Studio's Homepage HERE, where you will also find a link to Jordu's podcast, N.E.R.D. Cast

Cryptids: El chupacabra -The Goat Sucker-

Believed by many to be the end product of a series of government experiments designed to create alien-human hybrids, sightings of the creature began in 1995 in Puerto Rico following a a series of attacks on live stock. The animals which fell victim to these attacks, most typically goats and sheep, were all alleged to have been found with three unexplained puncture wounds in their chests and completely drained of blood, earning the creature it's moniker "El Chupacabra" or " The Goat sucker". There are however those who claim the first Chupacabra attack can actually be traced back to 1975 and a series of similar attacks in a small town called Moca. Though the Moca attacks were first attributed to a satanic cult, they later became known as the alleged work of the "Vampire of Moca" or "El Vampiro de Moca", as the attacks spread throughout the island. Others have attempted to push the Chupacabra's origin as far back as 1960, sighting the apparent use of the phrase ( to describe a creature that sucked the milk from goats rather than blood ) on an episode of the television show bonanza.

As for a physical description of the creature, as always accounts vary. But it's typically described as being three to five feet tall, bipedal but with hind legs like a kangaroo, grey skinned with large round eyes, three clawed fingers on either hand, and possessing at least a single row of spikes running down it's back. In recent years however, the creature being recognized as the Chupracabras has undergone a significant transformation.

Hairless canines like this one have been found in parts of Texas and Mexico where sightings of the Chupacabra have previously been reported, prompting many to identify them as the source of the legend. While it's tempting to note the similarities between the physical appearance of these animals and the eye witness descriptions of Chupacabra in an effort to declare misidentification as the source of the sightings. It's important to remember that these animals are being found in Texas and northern Mexico, not Puerto Rico where the legend of El Chupacabra began. So the true origin of the creature must lie in something else. But What?

After doing a bit of research for his own upcoming book on the subject and taking a trip to Puerto Rico to interview Madelyne Tolentino, who's description of the creature is typically recognized as the first. Ben Radford has found what he believes to be El Chupacabra's true origin.

In 1995 Madelyne Tolentino, was able to give a detailed sketch and description of a strange animal she said she saw through a window just outside her home in Canóvanas, Puerto Rico. It was Madelyne's description of that animal which would become the archetype for the Chupacabra and the most widely accepted origin of the creature. Well, according to Radford's findings, it seems the creature Tolentino described bears a striking resemblance to the creature in the movie "Species", which was released in July of 1995 a month before Madelyne's alleged sighting. While Ben himself suggests only that Tolentino's description of the creature is derived from the movie, I find it worth mentioning that the movie also just happens to be about the escape of a human/alien hybrid created by the Government AND it takes place in Puerto Rico. Sound familiar?

In an interview about her encounter conducted in 1996,
Madelyne admits to having seen the film and even remarks about how much the creature in the movie looked like the one she saw outside her home saying,

I watched the movie and wondered, ‘My God! How can they make a movie like that, when these things are happening in Puerto Rico?

And when asked by the interviewer,

“In other words, does [
Species] make you think there might have been an experiment in which a being escaped and is now at large?”

Tolentino answered: “Yes.”


For even more about the Chupacabra, and Ben Radford's book, check out this episode of the Monster Talk Podcast: "I'm Gonna Get You, Goat Sucker!". And if you have a genuine interest in the subject of Cryptids, myths. legends, and the supernatural, but can't take shows like Monster quest or ghost hunters, You should be listening to this podcast. It's one of my personal favorites, and one of only two podcasts I download specifically for the purpose of listening to them again.

You can read about Ben's trip to Puerto Rico to interview Madelyne himself HERE on And you can check out Ben's conclusion to the mystery, and the ensuing response from believers, on Cryptomundo. Be sure to check out Ben's website as well for more of his books at:

Geeking Out With Metal Gear

Thanks to what has become a near sixteen hour daily routine, a lack of funds, and having been forced to become a semi-reasonable facsimile of what the kids call a"responsible adult", I don't often have the time to indulge the beloved life long vice that is my video game habit. But from time to time I do manage to sneak in an hour or two on my PS3 or at least direct my browser towards the game blogs and websites, which is exactly what I did today. And since I feel the blog has thus far been lacking in the "general Geekery" category, I thought I'd share something.

I have been a gamer/computer nerd my entire life. In other words, I've played A LOT of games. From consoles to PC's and even arcade games, yes I'm old enough to remember hanging out in Arcades. In all that time there have only been a handful of games which I have ever become truly enthralled by and residing at the very top of that list is the Metal Gear franchise.

Today I decided to check in on the next installment in the series which I was admittedly apprehensive about given how much I loved MGS 4 and the fact that Rising will be the first game in the series that does not feature some incarnation of Snake as the main character and will also be the first MGS released on both the X-Box and PS3. But after viewing the trailers and game play I managed to find today, I'm confident Rising will be at least as good as MGS 4 and I'm eagerly awaiting it's release. Too bad there's not even a release date yet.


Here's the trailer for MGS Rising from this Year's E3 which features some early game play and a look at one of the major additions to the mechanics of the game this time around, the ability to cut things in the environment any way you like.

Posted by YouTube user:IGNentertainment

I also found an extended demonstration of the slicing physics if you happen to be interested in learning more about that, the picture isn't the best quality but it's still pretty impressive to watch.

Also posted by:IGNentertainment

Friday, October 15, 2010

Update on Gliese 581g

You may recall that earlier this month a team of US researchers led by astronomer Steven Vogt of the University of California, Santa Cruz, announced that they had discovered a fifth planet in a system orbiting a Red Dwarf (Gliese581) located around 20 light years from earth. More importantly, the planet (officially designated Gliese 581g) was believed to be orbiting it's parent star in it's so called habitable or "Goldilocks" zone, and was therefore deemed capable of sustaining life and dubbed the "most Earth-like" exoplanet ever discovered.

Lead astronomer Steven Vogt took his own his own speculations about the planet even further, publicly stating his belief that the chances of life on the newly discovered planet was 100 percent and in a subsequent interview with i09, renaming the new planet "Zarmina" after his wife, before moving on to described what life and even a human colony might be like on the surface of the tidally locked planet.

Well, as you may already be aware. A group of Swiss researches attempting to confirm the findings of the US research team, announced earlier this week that they had been unable to find any reliable sign of a fifth planet located in Gliese's habitable zone.


While this announcement doesn't necessarily mean the existence of the planet won't eventually be confirmed, a complete analysis of the data used to make the discovery-which was collected over a period of eleven years- will take some time, possibly several years, to complete.


Source:Science/AAAS via:80 Beats

Monday, October 11, 2010

Titan's Atmosphere Could Be Producing the Basic Ingredients For Life

There are many theories about how exactly life began on our planet. The most commonly held belief of course, is that life began in the oceans. But a recent experiment using radio waves to simulate the effects of ultraviolet radiation from the sun striking the top of Saturn's largest moon Titan's thick atmosphere, has shown that life may actually have begun in the sky.

The experiment showed that when the ultraviolet radiation strikes Titan's atmosphere it can break apart molecules in the air, like molecular nitrogen and methane, leading to the production of amino acids and the nucleotide bases which make up DNA and RNA, without the need for liquid water.

More than merely having the potential to redefine how life began on earth, as if that weren't enough, if researchers could confirm the presence of nucleotide bases and amino acids in Titan's atmosphere, it would be one more piece of evidence pointing to the possible existence of life on Titan itself. Which is already seen by many as a potential home for some, perhaps alternative, form of life.

According to planetary scientist Jonathan Lunine, Cassini has already detected heavy ions in Titan's atmosphere which could potentially be the Nucleotide bases and amino acids found in the study, but the particles were too large for Cassini's instruments to identify. Lunine says that confirming these particles are actually being produced in Titan’s atmosphere will require an orbiter that can carry instruments 100 to 200 kilometers deeper than Cassini does into Titan’s haze layer.


Source:Wired Science

For more about the potential for life on Titan read: Methanogenic Life on Titan?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Answer is 42

Posted by Youtube user:riktw

Happy 10.10.10


Cryptids: The Tale of Mothman

One of the more absurd yet persistent modern cryptids, Mothman is described as a large six and a half to seven foot tall, humanoid figure, sometimes headless with eyes in it's chest, brown or grey in color, with large wings, and glowing red eyes.

The tale of Mothman begins in 1966 near Point Pleasant West Virginia where a group of grave diggers first claimed to have seen a dark brown "man-like" creature flying above the trees as they worked. The next day, another man claimed to have seen the creature standing in a field and late the following night, the most well known and most detailed encounter with the creature took place seven miles outside of Point Pleasant at the site of an abandoned WWII TNT factory.

That night, two young couples and their cousin "out for a drive" on a dark country road, claimed to have seen the creature while driving past an abandoned TNT factory. The group claimed they stopped to investigate what they then believed to be two strange red lights by an old generator plant which, Upon closer examination, they found to be the glowing red eyes of a seven foot tall creature with a pair of large wings folded behind it's back. Terrified, the group fled the scene and drove all the way back to the city limits with the creature taking flight and giving chase at speeds exceeding 100mph.

Over the next few weeks a handful of other witness would come forward to describe brief encounters with the creature in fields, or seeing it lurking in the tops of trees, but nothing as spectacular as the account given by the group from the TNT factory. Eventually, the tales of these encounters would make their way to the local papers, where a Batman inspired reporter would first dub the creature described in the encounters as Mothman

This is where the verifiable accounts-by which I mean claimed sightings that can be proven to have been made in 1966 and not years after the fact- come to an end. And even these accounts have been confused and embellished over the years thanks to books and movies on the subject, as well as the general erosion of memory that comes with the passage of time, making it hard to know exactly which version of any one encounter is accurate.

As for a natural explanation, like most cryptids
Mothman's true origin is likely the simple misidentification of some other know animal. The most likely cantidate in this case, as first suggested by Joe Nickell, is the barred owl.

Though admittedly on the small side, the barred owl can appear either brown or grey in color, could easily be perceived as headless with eyes in it's chest, due to the birds shoulderless frame, has large eyes which could be seen as glowing red when reflecting light thanks to the animals night vision, and most tellingly of all, bears an obvious resemblance to this early eyewitness sketch of Mothman. The times and places where the original sightings are said to have taken place also paint the barred owl as a likely suspect for the real Mothman.


For a more detailed account of the Mothman myth, including it's alleged connection to the collapse of the Silver Bridge connecting Point Pleasant with Gallipolis, check out episode #159: "The Mothman Cometh", of Brian Dunning's Skeptoid pdcast

Mimas, Moon? Or Death Star? You Decide.

A message for DominatorPS3,

Don't look now, but I think NASA might be hiding more about the moons of Saturn than you might think:

This stunning side by side comparison of Saturn's so called "moon" Mimas, clearly shows it's not a moon at all but, but rather a completed and fully operational planet destroyer merley disguised as a moon!

I'm sure Fox "News" is already eagerly awaiting your expert interpretation of this shocking set of images, as is all of the Internets.

Remember-Trust No one!


Speaking of Conspiracies, NASA "Caught" Photoshopping an Image of Saturn's Moons

This image of Saturn's moons Titan, the large yellowish moon in the background, and Dione in the foreground, was taken earlier this year by the Casini craft orbiting Saturn. But one man says that before NASA photo shopped out the additional details, this image contained much more than just the spectacular sight of one extraterrstrial moon passing in front of another.

Identified by Fox "News" ( they're a real network you know ) only by his YouTube user name, "DominatorPS3". This anonymous truth seeker posted a video on you tube in which he adjusted the contrast on the image making the Photoshop brush marks in the shaded area of Dione, along with the remnants of a red and green halo around the edge of the moon, clearly visible. A find which Dominator described as: "More solid proof of NASA/government cover-ups," Ya, Of course it is.

We'll just skip the part where I rant about an allegedly legitimate "news" source actually publishing a quote from someone they only managed to identify by user name and move straight to the obvious flaws in Dominator's theory.

1) The raw data for Casini's images can be found on THIS super secrete NASA website which I "uncovered" by googling the words: "Casini images raw data". But, in order to trust even the raw data you'd first have to believe that NASA hadn't altered it as well, which is a leap of faith I'm sure the Dominator isn't willing to make. So we'll just move on to point number two.

2) If you take even a moment to read about the images produced by Casini and basically every other piece of observational equipment ever to produce a full color image of an object in space. Then you know that the images typically exists as individual sets of raw data in different spectrums which must then be combined to create a single full color, or "composite" image. Not surprisingly, an issue with this very process is exactly the explanation given for the anomalies in the image by the person responsible for the manipulation, Emily Lakdawalla, who told a forum full of conspiracy theorists:

"Cassini takes color pictures by snapping three sequential photos through red, green and blue filters," she said. "In the time that separated the three frames, Dione moved, so if I did a simple color composite I would be able to make Titan look right, but not Dione; or Dione look right, but not Titan.
So I aligned Dione, cut it out, and then aligned Titan," Lakdwalla explained, "and then had to account for the missing bits of shadow where the bits of Dione had been in two of the three channels."

She even went on to explain the process in great detail on, but to no avail, as Dominator himself soon responded to her post,

"Thanks for the feedback and explanation, However I still remain skeptical, because someone still could have ordered her to 'cut it or something out. But thanks for putting that info up so others can read it; I am not trying to convince people what I believe,"

3) finally, let's assume for a minute that PS3 man's theory was actually correct, which it isn't, and the government had decided to Photoshop out evidence of an alien civilization on Dione, or the klingon battle cruiser orbiting the moon, or whatever the hell it is that he believes was removed from the image. Do you really think they'd have done such a poor job of hiding their work that anyone with their contrast turned up a little too high would notice the sloppy brushstrokes, not to mention the colored halos they left behind?

As for DominatorPS3 himself, he decided to remove the original video that kicked this whole thing off from his YouTube channel, sighting the hate mail he received along with non-specific threats which he "can't go into", I'm sure you can see where this is going right?. He has since posted a second video of himself demonstrating his astonishing find via his PS3 which you can easily find on YouTube if you are so inclined but I won't be linking to it here as I would like the fifteen minutes he's clearly chasing come to an end as soon as possible.



Image credit: NASA/JPL/SSI; Color composite: Emily Lakdawalla

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Conspiracies, Cryptids, and Ghost Stories That Just Won't Die

Tales of conspiracies and the paranormal are, to say the least, a mainstay in popular entertainment. But for much of the world the month of October is dedicated to these tales more than any other due to the impending arrival of Halloween. Believers, along with those who aren't about to let the truth get in the way of a good story- or a good scam- seize upon the public's resulting heightened interest in the unexplained as an opportunity to sell more books and DVDs while as always, railing against anyone who dares to question their claims.

While there have certainly been plenty more before me who have turned a skeptical eye to the unexplained and the supernatural. Given the additional attention currently being payed to them, I thought I'd try and add a little extra skepticism to the mix and spend the rest of the month writing about some of the stories that just wont seem to die, no matter how hard one may try to kill them with logic, facts, or reason.

We begin tomorrow with:
Ok, so that's actually Arthur from The Tick, but technically he is A Mothman.

Image Credit: "Cryptid" by: Frank Frazetta
"Arthur" by: Ben Edlund

Friday, October 8, 2010

"Fallen", from Vimeo, back with more later tonight

Normally today would be the day I sit and catch up on all the stuff I missed over the course of the week thanks to my typical 15-18 hour long weekday routine but today I decided to take a little overtime at work so I'll be back later tonight with something of more substance.

For now, since I last blogged about the newest episode of Bad universe,which was awesome by the way, a show that tends to focus on things falling from the sky, I thought this animation I stumbled upon on Vimeo last week would be an appropriate follow up. Enjoy.

Follow an asteroids brief life as it falls to earth.

Fallen from Sascha Geddert on Vimeo.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Phil Plait's Bad Universe EP2, Tonight After Mythbusters

There just isn't much on television I like In fact, I will soon be without TV again as I have grown tired of wasting my money on something I only use around 10% of and have decided to cancel my television service. But tonight one of the rare exceptions to my general disdain for television airs, episode 2 of Phil Plait's three part series, "Phil Plait's Bad Universe" will air tonight immediately following one of the only other reasons I have kept my cable on for as long as I have, Mythbusters.

So if your a fan of science, and like me would to see more of it, or anything else worth watching on your television, then be sure not only to tune in, but blog about it, tweet about it and do everything else you can to let advertisers and the Discovery channel know, you want more! Because remember, this is basically a three part pilot we're watching, so if you want to see it become a series, then you need to make as much noise about it as possible. I would like to suggest that in order to try and make it trend, we all tweet something about the show with some form of Hash tag: #Philplaitsbaduniverse, #baduniverse, or whatever, whenever the show goes to commercial or Phil says the "secrete phrase", I trust you know the secrete phrase by now.


Here's a clip from tonight's episode: Alien Attack

Posted by YouTube user:Discoverynetworks

Sunday, October 3, 2010

This Weeks Compendium

Say hello to- Rear Gear!

This week on Compendium oF Strange: My favorite song and music video of all time- "Morbid Angel: God of Emptiness", Rear gear- butt hole covers for your pets, The man who owned the Segway company dies on a Segway, Solar Salamanders, "PG Porn" with Sasha Grey and James Gunn, and more! plus- I updated the page with a brand new theme, so come check it out and tell me what you think.


If you're already on tumblr you can follow the Compendium directly, if not, then you should use THIS LINK to join so the Compendium gets credit for the referral or you could just follow me on twitter or like my musician page on Facebook to keep up with all my blogs, bands, etc.

The UK Recognizes Druids as a Legitimate Religion

If you happen to live in the UK and you somehow haven't heard, then do I have some great news for you! Druids have officially been granted status as a "genuine" religion by your lovely, lovely, charity Commission.

That means not only will every psychic medium, con-artist, cult leader, hippie guru, and faith healer that's ever hugged a crystal, claimed to sense an energy field or communed with a rock, soon be declaring themselves a "druid". But more importantly, once they do, they'll all be eligible for tax breaks and all the other special treatment that comes with being called a "REAL" religion- just like Scientology! Isn't that great?... Oh wait.. No, I guess it isn't.

Seriously UK, I love you guys but for now, I really think you should all just go stand in the corner and think about what you've done for a while. We'll talk later.


*UPDATE* The point I was trying to make, which EnglishAtheist pointed out in the comments I completely failed at, was that by legitimizing any set of supernatural beliefs by granting them charitable status or recognizing them as a religion, you give a long list of nuts, crazies, and just plain bad people a new point to argue when trying to prove the validity of their claims and or scam people out of money and possessions, weather they are actually a part of the official organization being recognized or not.

Instead, I gave off the impression that the UK had opened up a new welfare line where any idiot in a Yoda robe could come to get a free handout, which is incorrect and not the point I was trying to make. Also, I'm told the charity commission does not recognize Scientology as a religion, so that comment was misleading as well.

See what happens when you don't research the articles you find in popular media before you comment on them, you get EVERYTHING wrong.

Oh well, 'll be in the corner if you need me.


Saturday, October 2, 2010

That Glowing Green Dot in The Sky is NOT a UFO - It's a Commet

On October 20th Comet Hartley 2 will pass within eleven million miles of earth. which you probably think sounds pretty far away but is actually closer than any other comet has come to the earth in the last few centuries. But if you happen to own a telescope, then you don't have to wait until October 20th to see it because for you, the hazy green comet is already visible in the constellation Cassiopeia. But if you don't own a telescope, don't worry, because as the comet approaches it will become easier to see using less powerful telescopes, binoculars, and finally even the naked eye under the right conditions.

Or- you could do like astronomer Bill Cooke, who took the image to the right, a four minute long
exposure, using a telescope located near Mayhill, N.M., which he controlled via the Internet from his home computer in Huntsville, Alabama. Ain't technology great?

Source:Wired Science

Image Credit: Top:Rolando Ligustri Bottom:Bill Cooke

Artificial Black Hole May Confirm The Existence of Hawking Radiation

In 1974 Stephen Hawking showed that according to quantum theory, black holes should be emitting a steady stream of radiation, an assertion which contradicted the conventional belief of the time that nothing could escape the gravitational pull of a black hole. But according to quantum mechanics, it's possible for virtual pairs consisting of a particle and it's antimatter equivalent to spontaneously spring into existence. The field surrounding the edge of a black hole is believed to be strong enough to cause these virtual particles to become real, potentially trapping one of the pair inside the black whole while allowing the other to escape in the form of what is now called Hawking radiation.

By firing a laser beam through a glass block, Italian scientists have managed to create an optical black hole capable of replicating the gravitational warping which occurs inside the event horizon of a real black hole. Repeatedly firing the laser into the glass once every trillionth of a second, researchers were able to alter it's refractive index, creating a small disturbance within the block and preventing the light from moving forward and back into the the air, mimicking the effect of the gravitational pull of a black hole. Though not an exact match, the simulation has allowed researchers to study some of the effects of matter's passage into a black hole, including observing what appears to be Hawking radiation.

If the groups findings are confirmed, this would this be the first time Hawking radiation has ever been observed and this new home made black hole might also be used to test other elements of string theory and quantum mechanics. Including- attempting to create other optical representations of even more exotic phenomena like the theoretical white hole.


Source: New Scientist and:io9

For more information on Hawking radiation, check out the following clip:

Posted by YouTube user:stevebd1

I believe this clip came from the BBC documentary: " Stephen Hawking Master of the Universe", but I have yet to watch the entire documentary to confirm it contains the clip, so the YouTube commenter from which I took that information could be wrong. Regardless, the portion of the documentary I have watched is very good and you can watch it in it's entirety on turxxx'schannel on YouTube.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Eye Candy: Speaking of Exoplanets- Sunrise on Gliese 876d

In keeping with not only our exopoplanet theme but red dwarfs named "Gliese", the above is an artists depiction of a sunrise on a planet known as Gliese 876d, the third planet discovered orbiting the red dwarf Gliese 876- located fifteen light years away in the constellation of Aquarius. The rest of the text in this article as well as the image, comes directly from NASA's " Astronomy Picture of the Day" website.


A Dangerous Sunrise on Gliese 876d
Illustration Credit & Copyright: Inga Nielsen (Hamburg Obs., Gate to Nowhere)

Explanation: On planet Gliese 876d, sunrises might be dangerous. Although nobody really knows what conditions are like on this close-in planet orbiting variable red dwarf star Gliese 876, the above artistic illustration gives one impression. With an orbit well inside Mercury and a mass several times that of Earth, Gliese 876d might rotate so slowly that dramatic differences exist between night and day. Gliese 876d is imagined above showing significant volcanism, possibly caused by gravitational tides flexing and internally heating the planet, and possibly more volatile during the day. The rising red dwarf star shows expected stellar magnetic activity which includes dramatic and violent prominences. In the sky above, a hypothetical moon has its thin atmosphere blown away by the red dwarf's stellar wind. Gliese 876d excites the imagination partly because it is one of the few extrasolar planets known to be close to the habitable zone of its parent star.

Gliese 581G The New Earth We'll All Soon be Living On - or Not.

Artists depiction of Gliese 581G

Wednesday the University of California, Santa Cruz announced the discovery of two new planets orbiting the red dwarf star known as Gliese 581, located around twenty light years from earth in what we see as the Libra constellation.

The new planets were both discovered using the Doppler method which measures the shift in the wavelength of light being emitted by a star which, changes when tugged on by the gravity of an object orbiting around it. A planet's mass, the shape of its orbit, and it's distance from it's sun, all effect how the light shifts allowing astronomers to devise specific details about distant objects like these two new Exoplanets of which, the most talked about has been designated Gliese 581G.

With a mass of three to seven times that of the Earth, Gliese 581G is the sixth to be identified orbiting Gliese 581 and is the newest planet in the system to be marked as a potential home for life. Unlike Gliese 581C - which is likely too close to it's star and therefore too hot to sustain liquid water or life - and Gleise581D - which is likely to0 far away from the sun and therefore too cold (or maybe not if it has a thick enough atmosphere) - Gliese 581G orbits it's sun in the so called "Goldilocks Zone" making it the most likely contender yet for a planet capable of sustaining life.

Like the rest of the known planets in the system, 581G follows a circular orbit around it's sun, it completes an orbit every 37 days and is, as far as we can tell, the fourth planet from it's sun. Gliese is also tidally locked to it's star. That means one side of the planet is always facing the sun locking it in a state of perpetual daylight , while the other faces away leaving it in total darkness- which would make the line between shadow and light or terminator, the most habitable place on the planets surface. Researchers also estimate the average temperature on the planet to be between -24 and 10 degrees Fahrenheit.

But contrary to the popular take on this story, which professor of astronomy and astrophysics at the University of California, Santa Cruz, Steven Vogt is not helping by saying things like:

"Personally, given the ubiquity and propensity of life to flourish wherever it can, I would say, my own personal feeling is that the chances of life on this planet are 100 percent,"

Don't go packing your bags or planning what deep space message you'll be sending to the people of Gliese just yet. While this is an amazing discovery, aside from details about it's mass, orbit, and general surface temperature, not much else can be said for certain about what the planet is actually like. The more important point of this planets discovery is what it could mean for the odds of finding other "Earth-Like" planets capable of sustaining life. Because the fact that a planet like this has been discovered in a system not only within our own galaxy but within 20 light years of our own solar system, is a good indication that habitable planets are in fact abundant throughout our galaxy.


You can read the original press release from The University of California: HERE. You should also check out Phil Plaits post on this subject as well which is the most detailed post I was able to find on the subject.
Monday, October 11th, 2010 - Astronomer Francesco Pepe of the Geneva Observatory and the Swiss group announced that they had been unable to find any reliable sign of a fifth planet in Gleise's habitable zone.


Go HERE for more info.