NTS LogoSkeptical News for 6 September 2001

Archive of previous NTS Skeptical News listings

Thursday, September 06, 2001

Science In the News

The following roundup of science stories appearing each day in the general media is compiled by the Media Resource Service, Sigma Xi's referral service for journalists in need of sources of scientific expertise.

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Today's Headlines - September 6, 2001

from The Los Angeles Times

A powerful X-ray telescope has captured the super-massive black hole in the center of our Milky Way galaxy in the act--the act of snacking.

For the first time, astronomers have observed a sudden and powerful X-ray flare coming from the direction of the voracious black hole. They believe the X-rays burst forth as the black hole gobbles up matter that comes near it.

Scientists have theorized for years that a huge black hole lurks at the center of the Milky Way--indeed that black holes lie at the center of most galaxies. The new observations provide important proof that those theories are correct.

That is an important validation for how physicists understand the universe, said Fulvio Melia, an astrophysicist at the University of Arizona who was not directly involved with the new research.

"Modern physics doesn't have a theory that could account for this object if it is not a black hole," Melia said.


Here is The New York Times on the discovery:


from The Washington Post

Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson acknowledged yesterday that almost two-thirds of the 64 stem cell colonies approved for federal funding by the Bush administration were only recently derived from embryos and their usefulness to scientists has not yet been proven.

Thompson, testifying before a Senate committee, stressed that the two dozen colonies ready for laboratories today are sufficient to conduct extensive basic research into the still untested promise of stem cell science.

"We're confident there are enough and we're confident the private sector will fill the voids where there are any voids," he said, predicting that more of the 64 will be ready by the time federal grants are awarded early next year.

But Thompson's comments represented the first time a high-ranking administration official has conceded that not all the cell colonies eligible for funding are as "robust" as initially advertised. That could bolster criticism by supporters of more aggressive research who say that President Bush has tied scientists' hands by imposing overly stringent restrictions.


from Newsday

Washington - The Wisconsin group that owns rights to five existing human embryonic stem cell colonies has signed an agreement allowing federally funded researchers broad access to the cells, even as the Bush administration conceded that fewer than half of the 64 cell colonies it has identified worldwide are ready for use.

Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson announced the agreement between the National Institutes of Health and the WiCell Research Institute of Madison, Wis., at a Senate hearing yesterday. He called the pact, signed Tuesday, a "groundbreaking agreement that hopefully will serve as a model" for making other stem cell colonies available.


from The New York Times

Stone tools, animal bones and an incised mammoth tusk found in Russia's frigid far north have provided what archaeologists say is the first evidence that modern humans or Neanderthals lived in the Arctic more than 30,000 years ago, at least 15,000 years earlier than previously thought.

A team of Russian and Norwegian archaeologists, describing the discovery in today's issue of the journal Nature, said the camp site, at Mamontovaya Kurya, on the Usa River at the Arctic Circle, was the "oldest documented evidence for human presence at this high latitude."

Digging in the bed of an old river channel close to the Ural Mountains, Dr. Pavel Pavlov of the Russian Academy of Sciences and Dr. John Inge Svendsen of the University of Bergen, Norway, uncovered 123 mammal bones, including horse, reindeer and wolf.

"The most important find," they said, was a four-foot mammoth tusk with grooves made by chopping with a sharp stone edge, "unequivocally the work of humans."


from The New York Times

WASHINGTON, Sept. 5 - Taking a cue from broad-based class-action lawsuits like those filed on behalf of Holocaust survivors or against tobacco companies, a group of environmental lawyers is exploring novel legal strategies to adopt against global warming.

What makes the approach of this environmental fight extraordinary is that the plaintiffs would be not just people who live near a source of pollution but those who are thousands, even many thousands, of miles away.

Last month two dozen lawyers from around the country met in Washington to explore the avenues they might pursue to force the United States or corporations to reduce emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases, which scientists say are already warming the planet and posing serious risks to human health, property and even entire nations.


from Newsday

Scientists at Brookhaven National Laboratory are testing a gene therapy technique that has curbed alcohol consumption in rodents. And, they say, if studies prove the approach is safe, similar research will be carried out in humans.

The researchers have pioneered the biological underpinnings of drug addiction and their latest findings are published in today's issue of the Journal of Neurochemistry.

Drugs such as alcohol, cocaine and methamphetamine are known to increase concentrations of a brain substance called dopamine. Dopamine has many jobs in the brain, and in one particular area, called the nucleus accumbens, it acts as a chemical pleasure switch, governing reward and reinforcement.

Brookhaven's research director, Dr. Nora Volkow, had previously established that chronic drinkers had far fewer dopamine receptors called D2. This finding motivated researcher Panayotis "Peter" Thanos to develop a gene therapy technique to increase the nucleus accumbens store of D2 receptors in rats.


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Cold fusion experiment produces mysterious results


Copied From: NewScientist.com

The World's No.1 Science & Technology News Service

Cold fusion experiment produces mysterious results

15:10 04 September 01
Jeff Hecht

A "cold fusion" experiment in California has produced tantalising results - but critics say they may not indicate that any kind of nuclear reaction has actually taken place.

Most physicists treat claims of cold fusion with derision. However, an underground of enthusiasts has continued performing experiments which, they say, demonstrate that deuterium nuclei can fuse to produce tritium and helium isotopes during the electrolysis of heavy water with palladium electrodes. The few outsiders who have tried to repeat the experiments have failed, and claims for cold fusion have not survived peer review to appear in mainstream journals.

Now Brian Clarke of McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, has found something that is not easily explained away.

Researchers at SRI International, a private laboratory in California, carried out a cold fusion experiment - passing a current through heavy water using palladium electrodes - and claimed to see more heat produced than could be explained by the electric power used. They then sent their electrodes to Clarke for analysis. He discovered that they contained more than 1015 atoms of tritium, a heavy radioactive isotope of hydrogen.

"There's no question of the tritium being real," Clarke told New Scientist.

"No explanation"

Although this is more tritium than you would expect to find in a palladium electrode, it is far less than would be needed to account for the amount of heat produced during the experiment. A spokesman for the UK Atomic Energy Authority's Culham Laboratory who has seen Clarke's analysis said the small amount of tritium "indicates it's an electrochemical effect" -that the heat is produced by the making or breaking of chemical bonds rather than the fusing of nuclei.

"I have no explanation of how the tritium was produced," Clarke told New Scientist.

Michael McKubre, who performed the SRI experiments, says: "I am not convinced it's a fusion process, but it's definitely a nuclear process."

Clarke also investigated similar experiments led by Yoshiaki Arata of Osaka University, Japan. Arata's team claimed to have detected an excess of helium-3 and helium-4 isotopes following the heavy water electrolysis. But Clarke's analysis revealed no excess.

Journal reference : Fusion Science and Technology (Vol 40, p 147, 152)

15:10 04 September 01

Astrological Accredation


Science In the News

The following roundup of science stories appearing each day in the general media is compiled by the Media Resource Service, Sigma Xi's referral service for journalists in need of sources of scientific expertise.

For accurate instructions on how to subscribe or unsubscribe to the listserv, follow this link: http://www.mediaresource.org/instruct.htm

If you experience any problems with the URLs (page not found, page expired, etc.), we suggest you proceed to the home page of "Science In the News" http://www.mediaresource.org/news.htm which mirrors the daily e-mail update.


Today's Headlines - September 5, 2001

from The New York Times

The National Academy of Sciences has apparently yesterday headed off a move by the Bush administration that could have revamped the financing and management of the nation's astronomy research, issuing a report saying that the changes would "seriously weaken the intellectual roots of the discipline" and that they should not be adopted.

The proposal was included in the administration's proposed budget for the 2002 fiscal year, partly as a cost-saving measure. Many astronomers had warned that the changes could threaten their ability to extend the past decade's string of successes, discoveries of things like planets around stars beyond the solar system and radiation from the birth of the cosmos.

The administration had directed the academy to study the possibility of radically changing the management of astronomical research that relies on ground-based instruments, like radio telescopes and infrared sensors. At its core, the change would involve removing those programs from the National Science Foundation, a federal agency that focuses on basic science, and consolidating them with related programs at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.


from Newsday

Even as scientists searching for an AIDS vaccine convene today in Philadelphia, many leading researchers warn that newfound optimism in the field may rest on rocky, even dangerously misleading, science.

The optimism stems from three alleged breakthrough vaccines announced over the last year, and a fourth to be unveiled at this week's meeting.

One of the naysayers is Harvard Medical School scientist Dr. Ronald Desrosiers, director of the New England Primate Research Center. "I fail to understand where this optimism is coming from," Desrosiers said. "I find it totally astounding, to the point of it being irresponsible, in many cases. What are they thinking?"

At issue for Desrosiers and other top vaccine researchers is the way all these new products, which their developers hope to rapidly put into human clinical trials, were tested in monkeys. They argue that the test method has yielded false promises of success. It's possible, they say, that none of these vaccines could even protect monkeys that were infected with natural, wild forms of the simian AIDS virus, much less have any hope of working in human beings.


from The Chicago Tribune

LEXINGTON, Ill -- With 800 acres of corn and soybeans as his pulpit, Jim Kinsella has long preached the gospel of no-till farming--abandoning the plow to grow crops with little disruption of the soil. Farmers used to snicker at him, dismissing his ilk as conservation do-gooders.

But Kinsella's time may have come. Strange as it sounds, leaving America's farmland unplowed is now seen as a way to fight global warming.

While greenhouse gas usually evokes images of tailpipes and smokestacks, farms are another producer of heat-trapping emissions. But they have great potential as storehouses of the most common such gas, carbon dioxide.

When farmers churn their cropland, they encourage microorganisms to convert the carbon-rich organic material in the ground into carbon dioxide. By not plowing, farmers can keep that carbon locked away underground, cutting down on the carbon dioxide emissions that are boosting the planet's temperature.


from The Washington Post

Sometimes it has been a case of mistaken identity: A sandbar shark takes a bite out of swimmer's flailing hand or leg, thinking it's a fish. Other times an ornery bull shark lurking in a murky estuary has literally stalked human prey.

The incidence of unprovoked shark attacks on humans in the United States and overseas has risen sharply during the past 40 years -- reaching an all-time high of 79 last year -- including 51 in this country -- before leveling off to 50 so far this year. Fatal encounters with sharks are far more rare, yet even so, there have been three deaths this year worldwide (including two in the United States), compared with 10 last year, according to the International Shark Attack File at the Florida Museum of Natural History.

Paradoxically, the increased number of attacks has coincided with a sharp decline in the population of sharks, which have fallen victim to commercial fishing and quirks in their reproductive systems that limit their offspring.


from media critic Howard Kurtz of The Washington Post

A maritime expert said on last night's "NBC Nightly News" that more people die from bees, wasps, snakes or alligators than from shark attacks.

But there's no ratings in bees. Unpleasant little critters, but not scary-looking enough.

With "Jaws" music practically playing in the background, the media have turned this into the Summer of the Shark. Never mind that the number of attacks has actually dropped since last year. They're here, they're nasty and they could be coming to a beach near you.


from The New York Times

WASHINGTON, Sept. 2 - Julian W. Scheer, whose deft handling of public relations helped foster America's fascination with the space program from the early orbits of Earth until the first Moon landing, died on Saturday at his cattle ranch in Catlett, Va. He was 75.

The cause was a tractor accident, his wife, Suzanne, said.

Mr. Scheer, who had covered the fledgling space program as a newspaper reporter, joined NASA in 1962 as a consultant and was named assistant administrator for public affairs in 1963. Working closely with James E. Webb, the second head of the agency but the most influential of NASA administrators, he built an information program that embraced the news media and fed their appetite for news about space.

The result was a steady flow of generally positive public attention during the risky and expensive drive to land a man on the Moon, making public heroes of the early astronauts.


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Psychic politician claims to have seen missing intern - dead

From Ananova at


A US politician claims to have seen Chandra Levy by communicating with the dead.

Georgia State representative Dorothy Pelote told members of the state legislature she is a prophet and can speak to the dead.

She claims to have seen the missing Washington intern through a psychic vision; Ms Levy was lying dead in a ditch surrounded by woods.

"I want you to know that I can prophesy. I can communicate with the dead," Ms Pelote, a Democrat representative, said while standing at the podium of the House delivering the House's daily devotional message.

"The last person who visited me was - I don't know if I need to call her name. Maybe I should not, because it's a controversial death now. She's missing. You know who I'm talking about. She has visited me. She has."

After leaving the podium, Ms Pelote confirmed she was talking about 24-year-old Chandra Levy, whose disappearance in April sparked a national scandal because of her links to Californian congressman Gary Condit.

"She really didn't say anything. I saw her. She came," Ms Pelote said in an interview."

"When I saw her, she was lying in a ditch and her eyes were closed. She was in a wooded area in a ditch."

She told her House colleagues that her psychic experiences began in her childhood after she was brought back from near death in an accidental drowning. She had a vision of a bright fireball turning in the sky.

Later, she said, she had visions of the dead, reports the local paper, The Macon Telegraph: "And the older I get, the stronger it becomes."

Skeptic Newssearch - 9/5/01

Georgia lawmaker has vision of Chandra Levy
By Don Schanche Jr.
Macon Telegraph


"The spirit of Chandra Levy ventured into the Georgia legislature's special redistricting session Tuesday when a lawmaker hinted to her colleagues that she had had a psychic vision of the missing woman."

Folklore provides fanciful fables of fairies and fungi to explain mysterious rings
By Marcia Nelesen
Janesville Gazette


"If she were born in Europe long ago, Debra Voigt would have immediately recognized the circle of mushrooms that popped up on her lawn as magic."

Police seek out lies with controversial tool
San Jose Mercury News


"Bay Area police departments are snatching up one of the latest technological tools in crime-solving -- a computerized voice analyzer that's supposed to determine when the bad guy is telling a lie, just by the sound of his voice."

Medical truths are no strangers to fiction
By Stephanie Stapleton
American Medical News


"They are known as urban legends or contemporary myths -- sometimes even old wives' tales. Although the topics relate to a variety of experiences, a large number are linked to current health concerns -- from HIV, hantavirus and West Nile virus to cancer and other dreaded diseases. Most often, they do not ring true."

Group Suicide Remains Mystery
By Christoph Moeskes
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung


"One step forward and two steps back -- this is how the dancing style of the Crypts and the Goths, and others who are fascinated by the darker side of life, is sometimes mockingly described."

Animal control officials train to deal with the occult
By Kasey Kelly
Midland Reporter Telegram


"Midland Animal Control personnel spent part of Tuesday learning how to recognize signs of occult activity, especially when it involves animals that have been sacrificed."

Catalina (a.k.a. Katya, a.k.a. Catia) Rivas (a.k.a. de Arze, a.k.a. Arce)
by Robert T. Carroll
Skeptic's Dictionary

http://skepdic.com/rivas.html "Catalina Rivas is almost certainly a pious fraud."

Acupuncture points couple to new business venture
by Timothy Mazzucca
Washington Business Journal


"Kelly Welch and his wife, Kate Yonkers, are pinning their hopes on open-minded Washingtonians."

Supreme Court shuts down online pyramid scheme
Australian Broadcasting Corporation


"The New South Wales Fair Trading Minister, John Watkins, says an Internet-based pyramid scheme has been shutdown by a Supreme Court order." Special touch therapy helps kids
By Ellyce Field
Detroit News


"Laura Benavides has a healing touch."

Deepak Chopra opens shop in Savannah
Associated Press


"In self-help books rooted in Eastern spirituality, Deepak Chopra writes that people can reverse aging by changing their thoughts. His Web site says astrology can forecast disease. He once wrote an essay for Playboy titled "Does God Have Orgasms?""

Free Energy ad on Newsweek

From: August Pamplona cosmicaug@mail.com

Leafing through Newsweek, in addition to the usual questionable health type product advertisements I found a full page advertisement for http://www.teslaelectric.com/ promoting a free energy tour (The print ad basically has the 15 of the 23 highlights at http://www.teslaelectric.com/2001_tour.htm). Big surprise, It's Dennis Lee!

You too can become a dealer!

August Pamplona

TV's Dharma Hiring Scientology Pals


Wednesday, September 05, 2001
By Roger Friedman

Has ABC's Dharma and Greg become Scientology central for sitcoms?

The group already has a vocal member in star Jenna Elfman, who plays Dharma. Elfman is the protégé of acting teacher Milton Katselas, also a devotee of the pay-as-you-go cult favored by Tom Cruise, John Travolta and others.

Last spring, avowed and outspoken cult member Kirstie Alley appeared in Dharma and Greg's season cliffhanger as, of all things, a marriage counselor. (It was ironic since Alley in real life had a disastrous marriage to actor Parker Stevenson that ended in an acrimonious divorce.)

Now the show, which is produced by former Cybill producer Chuck Lorre, has announced a full-time cast addition: Juliette Lewis, former drug addict and star of awful movies like Kalifornia and Natural Born Killers. Lewis, according to reports, will play Dharma's hippie-like childhood friend.

Lewis is one of Scientology's foremost celebrities. Last summer at a Creative Coalition panel discussion in Los Angeles about violence in the media, Lewis - a last-minute addition - pushed the Scientology agenda the minute she got her chance. She ambushed moderator Carl Bernstein when she announced that what was really affecting children today was not violence in the media - such as her own movies.

The real culprit, she said, was psychotropic drugs. Scientologists, including Alley and Elfman, are vehemently against kids with illnesses like Attention Deficit Disorder getting psychiatric treatment or drugs like Ritalin. (This is because the cult depends on alienated kids, and kids with learning disorders and other problems to come to them instead. Ritalin is probably Scientology's worst nightmare.)

So what's next, John Travolta as Greg's long lost cousin? Mimi Rogers as his aunt? Will Dharma and Greg simply become a repository for more Scientologists with dead careers? (Since the cancellation of her dreadful Veronica's Closet series, Alley has been relegated to Pier 1 Imports commercials. Lewis has been unemployable for years.)

Even the atrociously pandering Entertainment Tonight questioned what was going on last spring when Alley did her star turn, by the way.

Dharma and Greg's very affable co-executive producer Bill Prady told me that the propensity of Scientologists is merely a manifestation of who Elfman's friends are. "Really, stunt casting is the bane of my existence. We go to the cast and say, 'Who are your friends?' And, 'Who can you get?' Jenna's friends with Kirstie and with Juliette, so they came. One of our writers is friends with Bob Dylan, that's how we got him. Right now we're hoping to get Olivia Newton-John, who's a friend of someone here. It's really that simple."

Why Mothman Belongs in Cryptozoology

Loren Coleman's response to Darren Naish...


First off, it appears I have to say this because there does seem to be the assumption by some that to have an intellectual disagreement with a person on the internet means you must have an ancestral blood feud with that individual and thus hate their guts. Regarding, Darren Naish, nothing could be further from the truth, so let's put that notion to rest. Darren and I disagree about ideas, and there's nothing personal to it.

Okay, the matter to which I would like to take flight about today...


Why Mothman Belongs in Cryptozoology: Loren's Paradigm and Cryptids

Darren Naish has written an intriguing item, entitled "How to approach a winged humanoid," for the Fortean Times website.

It is full of data about a few Gambian (Atlantic West African) cryptids or creatures or fantastic beasts, depending upon your point of view. Of course, your point of view is what the article is really all about. Some of these creatures, you see, appear to be winged humanoids, and we humans are very uncomfortable with the thought of winged humanoids. It seems zoologists are even more rattled by them. But my point is that cryptozoology does not just belong to zoologists. Darren Naish uses the Gambian critters to launch into a discussion of which I must humbly note he calls "Loren's Paradigm."

But first, back to the creatures for a minute. They are a strange lot. For example, you have the Kikiyaon and the Guiafairo, which Naish writes are "both sharp-clawed flying monsters that appear to combine human and avian traits."

Then there's the Sasabonsam, which Naish observes is "traditionally a vampire or ogre-like monster from Ashanti myth, is sort of similar, though it was regarded by Heuvelmans as another name for the kongamato. Remarkably, a 1939 article published in The West African Review recounts the capture, killing and examination of a sasabonsam specimen. According to the account, the creature had a man-sized body with bat-like wing membranes attached to elongate clawed arms. The wingspan was something like 20 ft. Some of the features described are just bizarre - its hands were reported to be retractable and it apparently had a human-like nose and two short horns on its head. Other features are highly intriguing. For example, it had a prominent ridge down the middle of its chest (a sternal keel?). It had sharp teeth, stiff hair on its head and elongate, slim hindlegs. Needless to say this doesn't correspond to anything we know of."

Naish feels the folks at the Center for Fortean Zoology, under the direction of Jon Downes, are interested in the Sasabonsam because of the similarity to the Cornish Owlman. Naish writes: "Personally I don't think the owlmen and their winged brethren have much to do with cryptozoology in the strict sense - however, they are significant 'indicators' in that how they are interpreted reveals the approach of the investigator."

Getting to my analysis of such material, Naish then writes that "as unlikely as it may seem that such creatures are cryptids sensu stricto, this is proposed by some. I've dubbed this 'Loren's paradigm', after cryptozoologist Loren Coleman, though strictly speaking it's not Loren's and it's not a paradigm (I'll elaborate another time). Mark Hall, for example, apparently a strict applicator of Loren's paradigm, has argued that some of the feathery 'winged humanoids' may actually be gigantic owls, a notion I find pretty ludicrous."

And then he continues:

"At the risk of sounding tedious, cryptozoology is a part of zoology, and the more trained academic zoologists we have contributing to cryptozoological problems, the better. One problem is that some researchers operating on the fringes of cryptozoology have no interest in subjecting their ideas to scientific scrutiny."

Gosh, I sure don't feel like I am on the fringe, but when "some researchers" are not identified, right about talking about "Loren's Paradigm," and Naish's sense that linking biological owls Mothman is "ludicrous," what is one to think? :-)

Darren Naish calls my approach "Loren's Paradigm" based mainly on thoughts I wrote in my On the Trail column calling for a broad-based analysis of folklore and legends within the ranks of cryptozoology. In an email of 22 March 1999, Naish writes: "I can't help but think that by ostensibly including all manner of bizarre unknowns (including mythical flying and swimming humanoid creatures) within cryptozoology, we are truly creating an amorphous and undefinable field of study that clearly does not nest conformably within the zoological framework: the framework that Heuvelmans tried to adhere to. Indeed, if we are to follow the definition that Loren suggests, are zoologists supposed to be coming up with a proposed biological and historical model to account for the identity and evolution of owlman, or mothman - much as ancient scholars did to account for sightings of angels? It is surely untenable that such things are real animals."

Well, I wasn't speaking of angels but of cryptids. Anyone reading Bernard Heuvelmans's works in the 1950s through the 1980s, clearly knows he was interested in a multidisclipinary approach to cryptozoology, a wide-ranging review of many forms of material which would inform a position of considerable knowledge regarding the possible zoological existence of new animals. He was interested in people being well-read in myth, legend, and folklore, as well as botany, linguistics, and anthropology. That too much information is in some way inconvenient never crossed Heuvelmans' mind.

Naish has implied in his writings that too many creatures is an unfortunate situation, noting that more and more Mothman-like reports will cause a dilution of resources. However, the universe of cryptids was just as filled back in Heuvelmans' days as it is now. From the beginning of the 1960s, people in my circles, sans the Internet but via letters and other means, certainly talked about every little and big cryptid that abounded. Some we don't talk about anymore, and others have replaced them, I would conjecture. If we have not discovered more to talk about, however, I would be upset, as it seems like we should have "realized" more since then.

Perhaps one reason that it appears that no new headway is being made in cryptozoology is that by the time something is scientifically verified, of course, it is not too interesting to cryptozoologists. Heuvelmans wrote about reports of lemurs in his classic On the Track of Unknown Animals, and they have been discovered since that time. But people don't ponder this for very long. A whole new group of coelacanths have been found off Indonesia, but who talked about them indepth for any length of time? Cryptozoology by its very nature is fickled. Discover something and move on to the next mystery. Oh sure, we all talk about the okapi, the mountain gorilla, or the 1938 coelacanth, but how many "psychological autopsies" do we perform on what happened regarding John McKinnon's discoveries of the saola of Vietnam? I think we are missing the boat, and we don't even know it passed by sometimes..

No, this is not the time to "limit" and "screen out" what we examine and listen for in natives' and locals' eyewitness descriptions and physical evidence. Now is the time to expand our awareness of the reality that nature's mysteries are much more vast than any human can even attempt to realize, as our vision is limited by our humanness, not expanded by it.

While I have a sense that "Loren's paradigm" is going places I never had in mind, I wholeheartedly embrace the notion that, as part of cryptozoology, we must be open to cryptids that native peoples make fantastic. Heuvelmans was clear about this, and I am too. Taking Mothman as a case in point, I do not recall that I ever said anything much more than *part* of what was being termed "Mothman" may in fact be based on overblown and embellished accounts of giant owls (as per Mark A. Hall's discussion of finding reports from 100 years ago of giant owl-like avian creatures from the same West Virginia area as the Mothman sightings) - or even Bigfoot-like cryptids. To neglect the fire behind some reports of Mothman or winged weirdies is to ignore that Yeti, Kraken, and Sasquatch accounts have folkloric elements that are studied by cryptozoologists.

If a large, winged animal which scared teenagers and Appalachian witnesses said had a ten-foot wingspan and chased their cars had been called something other than "Mothman," would we even be having this discussion? Why is it so easy to note that the Kongamato is part of cryptozoology, and have questions about Mothman?

Just because a partial percentage of the reports that happen to be cryptid in nature and thus grist for the cryptozoological mill are labeled by media folk, tall tale tellers, and locals as "Mothman" does not mean we should exclude all of these due to the fact of their "gathering moniker." If I feel some of what people call Mothman are instead misidentified unidentified birds, how do we know that part of what is being seen is a cryptid or not? Remember, until an unknown or hidden animal is scientifically identified, it is a cryptid. Why should folklore about the Meh-teh of the Sherpas of the Himalayas be included in cryptozoological studies, and folklore of the Mothmen of the local people of Appalachia be excluded? In "Loren's Paradigm," they both belong in cryptozoology, and there seems enough evidence that *part* of the solutions in both cases could lie with real animals, either mundane, misidentified, or entirely new.

Mothman is a cryptid, and belongs in cryptozoology.

Loren Coleman

See Darren Naish's article at:
"Paradigm, much like the cry of 'wolf' in the folk tale of the shepherd boy who took that liberty too often, has been applied so casually that when a real paradigm shift looms on the horizon it meets a jaded acceptance. Raised to prominence in the 1960s by Thomas Kuhn in his classic work, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, the concept of paradigms has been applied to nearly every aspect of our lives. But real paradigms are not about technologies or products. Paradigms are about perspective. Paradigms define what we view as important and how we approach problems and activities. At the most basic level they form the fabric of our view of reality. It is not the paradigm that causes change. Change forces us to alter our paradigm of what is real and how to measure it. Changing from one paradigm to another can never be evolutionary. Either you 'get it' or you don't. The change is like a light bulb going off in your head. Paradigms shift, like tectonic plates, from one perspective to another."
-Steven L. Telleen, Ph.D., "The Intranet Paradigm,"
http://www.iorg.com/papers/paradigm.html, June 24, 1997.

Carteret - Newark Airport Radar Information

Filer's Files #36 MUFON Skywatch Investigations
George A. Filer, Director, Mutual UFO Network Eastern
September 5, 2001, Majorstar@aol.com

CARTERET: NEWARK AIRPORT RADAR INFORMATION -- The National Institute for Discovery Science on July 25, 2001, sent a FOIA request to the FAA requesting radar tapes (Tracon) for the July 14-15, 2001 time frame around the Carteret UFO incident. NIDS also requested the tower voice tapes for the same time period from Newark International Airport. A preliminary analytical report that details unidentified flying objects without transponders detected on air traffic control radar in the airspace around Newark International Airport on the night of July 14-15, 2001.

By far the most noteworthy aspect of this communication is the large number of objects detected that DO NOT have transponders (all commercial aircraft have transponders) in the airspace around Newark International at the same time that an estimated seventy eyewitnesses on the New Jersey Turnpike and a further fifty (estimated) witnesses from Staten Island reported unidentified lights in the same area of sky. A request to randomly check for aircraft without transponders at the same time on a DIFFERENT night produced the result that there were no objects without transponders in the air around Newark International airport on that second, randomly chosen, night.

This "control" study lends support to the notion that such a large profusion of objects without transponders in the air around one of the busiest international airports in the world is unusual. Secondly, the fact that multiple objects without transponders were in the same airspace while over one hundred eyewitnesses on the ground were watching several unidentified objects over Carteret might be of interest. Thanks to NIDS and MUFON's Director John Schuessler. See report at:http://www.nidsci.org/news/newjersey_contents.html

Editor's Note: Peter Davenport also requested a similar FOIA From the FAA. Our contacts with military and Coast Guard radar operators have revealed similar information concerning unknowns. A dozen anomalous targets possibly circling targets flew over the Newark International Airport general area on July 15 around 12:30 AM. These anomalous targets flying through controlled airspace illegally flew in wide variations in speed. Most were moving relatively slowly around 60 mph. One was moving at 250 mph and a high-speed craft flew through the area at around 600 knots (690 MPH). Speeds varied from 580 to 620 knots (670 to 720 MPH) faster than any normal jet traffic. Numerous slow moving targets were also reported that flew slower than any normal aircraft traffic from 50 to 80 knots.

My discussion with John Callahan former FAA Division Chief of Accidents and Investigation in Washington, DC revealed similar radar data has been available for many years. He revealed that during his six years in this position other similar cases were investigated and the FAA was told by the CIA to keep this information quiet. John revealed during the Disclosure Project how he had radar proof of a UFOs over Alaska that were reported by a Japanese Air Lines 747 flown by Captain Kenja Terochi in 1986. The 747 crew and multiple radar have spotted a huge aircraft carrier size UFO over Alaska. TWA and other airline crews also spotted the UFO. Captain Terochi announced his sighting to the press and was soon relieved from flying duties. The other aircraft crews were smart enough to keep quiet and keep their jobs. This ridicule factor more than any other keeps the true extent of the UFO problem relatively secret. Dr. Richard Haines a NASA scientist happened to meet the Chief Medical Officer for Japan Airlines and asked about the incident. He was told a medical review board had decided that it was not wise to have pilots who see strange things. Numerous near misses by military and commercial pilots are kept quiet in this way. Fortunately, the pilots of the UFOs generally react quickly and avoid most mid-air collisions. When our aircraft fall out of the sky and hundreds of witnesses report seeing a UFO in near proximity, it is time to consider their involvement in accidents.

U.S. Researcher Announces Telekinesis Breakthrough


FarShores ParaNews

Posted Sept 04.01

US Researcher Announces Telekinesis Breakthrough

I am a private American paraphysics researcher who has been looking into the subject of telekinesis on and off for over 20 years, ever since in the early 1980s when I witnessed a heavy ceramic table lamp lift up on one edge and thump down repeatedly for five seconds and on another occasion, also in the early 1980s, I saw a small bottle of Liquid Paper slide briefly across a desk surface, both events occurring spontaneously in front of me.

There have been numerous other witnessed telekinetic events; in the late 1970s and 1980s mostly spontaneous and then throughout the 1990s mostly consciously intended, once I learned how to activate it. The above two instances of heavy objects moving, however, are the most dramatic and powerful examples; others have come close.

In April of 2001 (the date of the photo here), after years of trial-and-error research attempting to create a suitable electronic detection apparatus and search for a biological boosting agent or thought method, I finally came upon the answer, the secret, the natural mechanism by which telekinesis operates.

What I can reveal is that there is real, not supernatural, physiology involved and cerebral activation of that physiology. There is a measurable systemic element to part of it that can be monitored and increased or decreased. Decreasing that factor stops the functionality of the ability or at least lowers it to below a detectable level with current instrumentation, which in my lab is sensitive enough to detect the application of force down to below the touch of a human hair. There may be genetics and an evolutionary transition factor at work also, but that is beyond my research capability at the present.

The energy forming the basis of the telekinetic motive power emanates from the head region, not the hands, and not the body as a whole. It activates briefly in a controllable on or off mode by means of a learned mental triggering process and requires a short duration of metabolic recharging, with an increase of effect observed the longer the rest or inactivation period. An eventual headache is a side effect of many activations in a row.

How the breakthrough occurred: It was only after the ability began to leave me suddenly in late 1999 after a nearly 100% success rate (9 times out of 10, sometimes 10 out of 10 repetitions of effect observed) that I was able to conduct an investigative analysis of my body's physiology, taking into account any effects of my increasing age (44 at the time), and make comparisons with previous research notes, medical observations, experimental nutritional and therapeutic supplements intake, and blood profile and hormone tests from the past 20 years when the ability was stronger, looking for what had changed and what I had not already researched as a possibility, that I found the answer.

Note that my experiences and research have made me a firm believer only in "telekinesis" and not "psychokinesis," which may or may not exist. My definitions:

TELEKINESIS (TK): The ability to cause at a distance by cerebral-generated motive power the movement of matter or energy, inclusively or exclusively, solids, liquids, gases, plasmas, particles of matter, or particles or waves of energy.

PSYCHOKINESIS (PK): The ability to cause at a distance or by physical touch using the mind's will power and imagination the extraordinarily profound movement or manipulation of matter, energy, or events.

The protocol for a run of my telekinesis experiment requires that I stand motionless and silent at least four feet from a target (have stood over 20 feet away), with high-resolution video footage shot before, during and after the claimed activation. The floor of the lab is bare concrete, which provides a stable, non-electrostatic generating surface.

I am making this discovery claim known now because I would like to solicit suggestions from the variety of great minds out there on how best to locate and make contact with a serious research partnership entity, perhaps a genetics lab or business entrepreneur, U.S. or foreign, private or government, without automatically being viewed as just another crackpot claimant. Over twenty years ago, my IQ tested at a respectable 140, so at least consider the possibility that I may be genuine.

Like Thomas Edison and scores of honored engineers and chemists, I, too, have a connection with the mainstream film industry. As such, I have been hesitant to step fully out of the research shadows because I know that association might be used by some as a reason to denigrate my sincerity (although my connection is a fairly good one). My sideline interest in frontier science is one that satisfies my intellectual curiosity and helps me to understand numerous extraordinary events that I have witnessed.

You may ask why I don't try out for the James Randi Educational Foundation million-dollar challenge prize? Two reasons. First, the knowledge of practical telekinesis in the long run is worth more than a million dollars (a prize amount subject to hefty income taxes). Sharing what I know with temporary judges in a challenge, who would not be subject to any kind of confidentiality, would make no sense from an information security standpoint. It could jeopardize possible future trade secret protection and the contractual relationship that I am seeking with a research partner.

Second, it might be ethically inappropriate for me to participate in the JREF challenge. I am a dues-paying, rank-and-file member of a skeptics' organization of which James Randi is a consultant and whose officers and leading members do and have done pre-testing for the JREF prize. It might be necessary for me therefore to disqualify myself and seek to gain from my discovery elsewhere, and so that is what I am doing.

Regarding my being a skeptic, I would like to make it clear that the statements and views presented here are my own and I am not an official spokesperson for the skeptics' organization to which I belong. I first revealed my research in this subject area in a cover article in the Fall 1993 issue of that organization's printed newsletter and have not updated my progress publicly until now.

Skeptics are often criticized for not actually doing any research. Well, as you can see by the photo, I've been doing serious laboratory research. I expect to be criticized by some for not sharing all the details of what I know, and that's okay, but also send in those suggestions.

Speculation: How valuable would telekinesis be to future astronauts in the weightlessness of space or on Mars as an emergency ability? TK motive power would certainly increase significantly without the restraints of Earth-bound gravity weighing down objects. What would be a weak effect observed on Earth would be a strong one in space. I have found it to be a line-of-sight ability, so it could only be used inside of a spacecraft or ground structure with an atmosphere. You couldn't teleport the energy through a helmet or window, as it would act upon the surface of that matter first.

The photo and comments posted here may be presented or excerpted in other news media so long as no attempt is made to use them as an endorsement of anyone else's research or claim. Contact me if you are not sure.

James A. Conrad
September 4, 2001
Lab email: tknews@medmail.com
Film industry: http://jamesconrad.hollywood.com
Info on trade secrets: http://www.execpc.com/~mhallign

Exorcism, Made Easy


Daily News Staff Writer

If there's a Devil at work, chances are so is an exorcist.

Exorcists help those who've been possessed by an evil spirit that could cause an ordinarily kind, gentle and moral person to spit, vomit, curse and behave indecently or even violently.

Within the Catholic Church, a handful of exorcisms take place annually, compared with the "thousands" that take place in other faiths, said Michael Cuneo, author of "American Exorcism," due in bookstores next week.

In the Archdiocese of New York, exorcists have investigated about 40 cases a year since 1995, the Rev. James LeBar of Regina Coeli Church in Hyde Park, Dutchess County, told the Daily News last year. LeBar is one of 18 Catholic exorcists in the United States.

Before a victim is exorcised by priests, he or she is interviewed and subjected to a battery of psychological and medical tests to rule out any treatable disease.

The ritual can be performed in the afflicted's home, in a church or in a neutral spot, but never in a public space. A priest blesses the afflicted with holy water, shows the victim the consecrated Host (which Catholics believe has the real presence of Jesus) and then begins the ritual.

The exorcist, armed with religious artifacts such as a wooden cross and or a relic of a saint, begins saying a series of prayers. He is always accompanied by another priest and several helpers who may pray the rosary.

The priests pray for the intercession of saints and help from the Blessed Mother to cast out the Devil or demons, who are commanded to leave their charge.

Mom, Dad Say Condit Bedeviled


By HELEN KENNEDY Daily News Washington Bureau


Rep. Gary Condit slipped back to Washington yesterday as his parents and daughter blamed rapacious reporters, lying women, weak cops — and even the Devil — for his problems.

"Satan had a big-time role in this," his father, the Rev. Adrian Condit, told the Ceres (Calif.) Courier.

Satan's Little Helper: Gary Condit
The preacher and his wife, Jean, said their son won't answer questions about missing intern Chandra Levy out of respect for her — not political expediency. "Gary has taken a lot of crap because he's trying to be a gentleman and not expose her," said his father.

Both said their son had nothing to do with his 24-year-old lover's May 1 disappearance.

Jean Condit said she thinks Levy took off on her own to get attention and questioned why her son should discuss his private life.

"Just because he won't say the sex word and make a big juicy confession of some sexual activity that he had, the people are ready to turn thumbs down on him," she said.

The parents said cops called Condit uncooperative because they "began to weaken" under media pressure.

They also said flight attendant Anne Marie Smith is lying about a 10-month affair with Condit — even though his lawyer has conceded the relationship. "If Gary told me he didn't, I believe him," said the minister.

Their granddaughter, Cadee Condit, 25, went on CNN's "Larry King Live" to say her father has been "a gentleman throughout."

She portrayed him as a sexual innocent who never even heard of sadomasochism. "One morning Gary and I were having a cup of coffee, and he was going to give me a heads-up to one of the tabloids. He said, 'Cad, I just want to give you a heads-up that they're going to come out with some awful stuff tomorrow. ... They're going to say that I'm into that M&M, or M&S stuff.'

"I didn't know to laugh or cry. I just said, 'Dad, I think they mean S&M.'"

To avoid reporters, the congressman did not fly back to the Capitol, his daughter said. She wouldn't say whether he drove or took a train.

California Democrats Anna Eshoo, Sam Farr and Nancy Pelosi greeted Condit with hugs when he arrived on the House floor for a vote last evening.

Wednesday, September 05, 2001

Report: Mother Teresa Had Exorcism


By Chandra Banerjee
Associated Press Writer
Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2001; 5:25 p.m. EDT

CALCUTTA, India -- Mother Teresa had an exorcism performed on her while hospitalized in 1997, the Archbishop of Calcutta said Wednesday.

The disclosure by Archbishop Henry D'Souza came as hundreds of people in this eastern Indian city paid homage to the renowned caregiver on the fourth anniversary of her death.

But the Rev. Richard McBrien, a Notre Dame theology professor, called the exorcism and the archbishop's explanation for it "bizarre."

D'Souza said the exorcism would not affect the nun's candidacy for sainthood.

"No way. Mother was not possessed ... it did not hurt her sanctity," D'Souza told The Associated Press. He said the need for the exorcism was a sign of her human side.

"Human dimension in a saint is quite normal," he said. "It was rather a sign of closeness to God."

He said the exorcism took place in a hospital where the nun was admitted because of heart trouble before her death on Sept. 5, 1997 at age 87. D'Souza said he was undergoing similar treatment at the same hospital.

The doctor treating Mother Teresa reported that she was having trouble sleeping, he said.

"There was no medical reason for that," the archbishop said. "It struck me that there could be some evil spirit which was trying to disturb her."

Parapsychology Experiment

Can people foresee future events without using the normal five sense or an educated guess? I am currently conducting a study at the University of Edinburgh to test this hypothesis.

Participants will be asked to try to imagine what picture will be shown to them over the WWW at a later date to see if overall participants guess the correct picture more often than would be expected by chance.

If you would like to be a participant in this experiment, you should email me at fiona@moebius.psy.ed.ac.uk with an account of a premonition that you have had at some point in your life and that you feel you can't explain via the normal five senses or as an educated guess. I will then send you full details of the experiment.

I look forward to receiving your replies.

Dr Fiona Steinkamp
Dept of Psychology
The University of Edinburgh
7 George Square


[Presented in the interest of maintaining standards of good tast on the Internet. Ed.]


As horrifying as the question may be, one must now contemplate the mind-numbing possibility that Chandra Levy may well have been victim to darkly vicious satanic forces. What's more, could it be that Congressman Gary Condit is a practicing satanist? Consider:

The last time anyone (other than Condit and associates?) heard from Chandra was April 30th. It just so happens that April 30th is walpurgisnacht on the witchcraft calendar, the night of the Grand Climax, when a chosen innocent victim—invariably a young woman—is sacrificed to Pan, the horned god (a.k.a. "Devil"). Webster's dictionary says of walpurgisnacht (or night): "The eve of May Day on which witches are held to ride to an appointed rendezvous: something (as an event or situation) having a nightmarish quality."

The Washington, D.C. Police reported that May 1st, 1:00 p.m. was the last entry on Chandra's computer in her apartment. They believe she was abducted about that time. May 1st, or May Day, also known as Beltane, is a High Holy Day for witches and devil worshippers. Riotous sex orgies and the Bacchanalia festival were celebrated this day after the Grand Climax and sacrifice (April 30th). In the pagan era, girls and boys trolloped around the Maypole, a phallic symbol of the god. On May 1, 1776, Swiss mason and Jesuit Adam Weishaupt founded the Illuminati. On May 1, 1917, Lenin and his Bolsheviks (Illuminati revolutionaries) celebrated their victory and takeover of Czarist Russia. In maritime circles, the term May Day indicates emergency, a call for help, crisis, tragedy. May 1st is the day police believe Chandra was taken!

The last web page viewed by Chandra (or someone else?) on her computer was a map and info about Washington, D.C.'s Rock Creek Park. This secluded park is the largest forested area in the D. C. metro area. Within its perimeters is an ancient old, rock estate, said now to be inhabited by "caretakers." Shades of the Cruise-Kidman occult movie, Eyes Wide Shut? Was this a clue--a mystery--left by abductors? Why did D.C. Police and volunteers for days on end meticulously comb and carefully search and go over every square foot of Rock Creek Park, in the vain hope that Chandra's body (or charred bits or remains of it) could be found?

Congressman Gary Condit, generally known to be an incompetent legislator, was given a plum assignment on the House Intelligence Committee. How? What are Condit's ties to the spook apparatus—the CIA, DIA, etc.? (Intelligence agencies and occult societies have long had intimate connections)

As a State of California Assemblyman, Condit led the powerful committee given oversight of casinos, gambling, and liquor interests. Hmmmm...

Gary Condit is known to have secret ties to the satanic Hell's Angels motorcycle cult. He owned and anonymously rode on back roads a Harley Davidson. Airline attendant Anne Marie Smith's testimony is that Condit once clandestinely attended a Hells' Angels party held in honor of a cop-killer biker!

The attorney for Anne Marie Smith says that when the D. C. police searched Condit's exclusive condo, they found strange "materials," and things hidden in a bedroom closet. So disturbing was their finding that the attorney says it would revolt and shock the nation if this discovery were to be revealed. What was in Condit's closet? Could it be that evidence of satanic and/or barbaric, sadistic conduct—chains, whips, symbols, masks, etc.—were discovered and inventoried by police investigators?

Sadly, not a trace of Chandra Levy has been seen. Has this gullible young intern been added to the growing list of our nation's satanic victims? What do the Washington, D.C. police and the FBI know? Are other congressmen involved? Would revelations of satanic treachery so blacken the reputation of our politicians that the United States might never recover as a nation?

Tuesday, September 04, 2001

Science In the News

The following roundup of science stories appearing each day in the general media is compiled by the Media Resource Service, Sigma Xi's referral service for journalists in need of sources of scientific expertise.

For accurate instructions on how to subscribe or unsubscribe to the listserv, follow this link: http://www.mediaresource.org/instruct.htm

If you experience any problems with the URLs (page not found, page expired, etc.), we suggest you proceed to the home page of "Science In the News" http://www.mediaresource.org/news.htm which mirrors the daily e-mail update.


Today's Headlines - September 4, 2001

from The Washington Post

Scientists for the first time have coaxed human embryonic stem cells into becoming blood cells, an advance that may eventually offer a safe and inexhaustible source of blood for transfusions and new treatments for many blood diseases, scientists announced yesterday.

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin in Madison guided stem cells into blood cells by surrounding them with chemical cues and nutrients that signaled the immature cells to morph into every type of regular blood cell -- red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets.

"Because [embryonic stem] cells can be expanded without apparent limit, [their] cell-derived blood products could be created in virtually unlimited amounts," the scientists reported in today's issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. "These cells could be screened for pathogenic organisms and even potentially be genetically engineered to treat specific patients or to combat specific diseases."

The discovery adds to the growing excitement about the enormous potential of stem cells -- very early cells capable of transforming into any kind of cell or tissue in the body. Scientists hope the cells will eventually lead to new ways to treat a host of diseases. In the case of blood cells, they could potentially be used to treat illnesses such as leukemia and anemia.


from The Los Angeles Times

WASHINGTON -- When Congress returns from its summer break this week, one of its biggest fights with President Bush is sure to turn on some very tiny things: 64 microscopic sets of human embryo cells, some of them in India, Sweden and Australia.

These are the only embryonic stem cells that Bush has said can be used in federally funded research into cures for disease. On Wednesday, the Senate holds the first of at least three hearings to investigate whether all 64 sets of cells are truly "robust," "viable" and useful to researchers, as the Bush administration has said.

Some lawmakers suspect they are not. If enough of the cells turn out to be as fragile and untested as some of their owners have reported, then pressure is sure to grow for Congress to overturn the strict limitations on stem cell research that Bush imposed three weeks ago. "I've seen those 64 stem cell lines evaporate," said Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.). "The 19 in Sweden are down to three. The seven in India may be zero. . . . If it turns out that the situation is not adequate for research, there's going to be a lot of sentiment in Congress to legislate."

Whether or not legislation gains momentum, the stem cell issue is likely to generate wide debate this fall in Congress--and beyond. Many lawmakers have already said they want to look not only at the number of cell lines available but also at patent rules and whether the Bush policy will cause a "brain drain" of U.S. researchers to countries with more liberal rules. Already, one prominent stem cell researcher, Roger Pedersen of UC San Francisco, is moving to England.


from Newsday

Efforts to genetically engineer viruses to cure deadly inherited diseases are showing signs of success, along with a new and troubling sign of danger, scientists announced yesterday.

Genetic engineering is seen as a potentially quick, easy and long-lasting treatment - someday. The technique would involve using a virus as a "vehicle" to insert healthy versions of genes into babies born with genetic handicaps, such as Tay-Sachs disease and dozens of others.

According to molecular biologist Mark Sands, his mouse experiments at Washington University in St. Louis were going beautifully last fall when he got a jolting surprise. Of 59 mice in his experiment, six developed fatal liver tumors after they matured into adults. The treatment used viruses to insert a gene to correct an inherited disease called muccopolysaccharidosis type VII, Sly's syndrome.

"It was a total surprise," Sands said about his discovery of tumors in the treated mice. The finding seriously disrupted human trials that were using the virus, called AAV, across the country. AAV is shorthand for adeno-associated virus, a benign virus known to infect without causing disease.


from The San Francisco Chronicle

"Beautiful pink skies in the morning, followed by an afternoon high of 120 degrees, dust devils and a soothing evening rain of liquid methane."

That might be the weather forecast on Planet X, a hypothetical world orbiting a star trillions of miles away. If a new scientific hypothesis pans out, future newspapers might feature extraterrestrial weather reports next to those for Earth.

A proposed method for determining weather conditions on Earth-like alien worlds, appearing in the Aug. 30 issue of Nature, is remarkably simple: One can make reasonable guesses about these worlds' weather conditions even if, as seen through telescopes, they resemble mere pinpoints of light.

The brightness of a hypothetical planet varies not only as it rotates or as it orbits its parent star, but also as clouds, storms, ice caps and other light-reflecting meteorological phenomena move over its surface, explains the article's lead author, astronomy graduate student Eric B. Ford of Princeton University Observatory in Princeton, N.J.


from The Boston Globe

The future of space travel flutters in a small plastic box bolted to the floor of a plane affectionately known as ''the Vomit Comet'' for the effect it often has on its passengers.

As the NASA jet flies 32,000 feet above the Gulf of Mexico on a training mission that gives passengers intervals of weightlessness, two MIT aerospace engineering students peer into the box, straining to keep their knees under the harnesses. Tamra Haby and Jennifer Long carefully videotape the behavior of small sheets of carbon fiber material coated with shiny Mylar.

While the windowless aircraft repeatedly dives and climbs 10,000 feet like a roller coaster with 32 precipitous dips, they examine their carefully folded samples, hoping one will unfurl flawlessly in weightless conditions, without a single wrinkle.

Their quest: To find a fabric that will present a smooth surface for the sun's rays to push in the same way that the wind pushes a sailboat. Though the pressure exerted by sunlight is imperceptible on Earth, light rays are potent in the frictionless vacuum of space: They are the reason that the tails of comets always point away from the sun.


from Knight Ridder Newspapers

DULUTH, Minn. - Oddvar Larsen likes his microorganisms well done. Larsen, a Norwegian ultraviolet light expert, was in Duluth recently to see his latest invention at work.

The device ''zaps'' about 1,500 gallons of water per minute, and the bacteria in it, with a dose of ultraviolet light 1,000 times more powerful than the sun.

''It's a slaughterhouse in there,'' Larsen said, explaining the device. ''We are learning how to kill [bacteria] more and more effectively.''

Larsen's device is part of two-step system being developed in Duluth by a team of biologists and engineers to treat ballast water aboard ships.

The team hopes the system will not only stop the spread of exotic aquatic species like the zebra mussel, but also tiny unintended biological cargo like viruses and bacteria that make people sick.


from The New York Times

Governments, private groups and individuals spend billions of dollars a year to root out non-native organisms that are considered dangerous to ecosystems and to prevent the introduction of new interlopers.

But a number of scientists question the assumption that alien species are never acceptable in a natural ecosystem. While applauding efforts to banish harmful organisms - like the brown tree snakes that have destroyed most of Guam's native species of forest birds or the star thistle, a prickly weed that is toxic to horses and has invaded much of the West - they say portraying introduced species as inherently bad is an unscientific approach.

Distinctions between exotics and native species are artificial, said Dr. Michael Rosenzweig, a professor of evolutionary biology at the University of Arizona, because they depend on picking a date and calling the plants and animals that show up after that exotic. Ecosystems free of species defined as exotic are, by default, considered the most natural.


from The New York Times

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia - For nearly 400 days since two mysterious torpedo room explosions ripped open the nuclear submarine Kursk, causing the deaths of all 118 Russian crewmen, the 505-foot vessel has been nestling into the sediments on the bottom of the Barents Sea.

Periodically, Russian warships on guard above the wreck have thrown live hand grenades into the water, to ward off any prying foreign submarines that may be interested in scavenging the Kursk's weapons, codes or electronics.

Now, a fleet of high-tech salvage vessels is taking over from the warships. If all goes according to plan - and little has so far - a Dutch lifting barge called the Giant 4, tethered by eight anchor lines, will raise the Kursk from the seabed later this month using 26 computer-controlled hydraulic jacks in an operation that, its designers say, can be accomplished in 12 to 16 hours.

But the raising of the Kursk, one of the largest and most complex salvages ever attempted, is fraught with dangers. The crews must avoid disturbing the Kursk's twin nuclear reactors and jostling its lethal payload of unexploded torpedoes and 22 supersonic cruise missiles, still snug in their 30-foot launching canisters. Each carries a warhead packed with nearly 1,000 pounds of high explosives.


from Newsday

ACCESSIBLE only by government-owned ferries either from Orient Point or from Old Saybrook, Conn., and covered in beach plum and low scrubby pine, sandy Plum Island looks more like a blissful haven for birds than the site of high-level research.

But, housed in a large brick and concrete building that looks like a middle school with large loading docks and myriad stacks jutting up from the roof, the Plum Island Animal Disease Center is ground zero in this country for the study of foot-and-mouth disease, the animal equivalent of the plague. Since the outbreak of the virus in the British Isles, Plum Island has been a very busy place as scientists attempt both to prevent and to prepare for an outbreak here.

"A year ago people were saying maybe we have gotten as far as we can go with foot-and-mouth," said Peter Mason, who heads foot-and-mouth disease research at the center, run by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. "But now we're redoubling our efforts, trying to push the envelope."


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Superstition Bash Photo Essay at Comedy Central and more

From: Barry Karr SkeptInq@aol.com

Contact: Kevin Christopher
E-mail: press@csicop.org

Whatta Karmedian:
Friday the 13th Bash Photo Essay by Comedy Central's Susie Felber on the Karma Central site

Amherst, NY (September 4, 2001) -- Back in July, we invited Comedy Central's Susie Felber to the Sixth Annual Superstition Bash at the Center for Inquiry. Susie had been torturing the karmically challenged for years with her tongue-in-cheek horoscopes at Comedy Central's Karma Central Web site. She is also a huge fan of Skeptical Inquirer and CSICOP and had posted some incredibly nice comments about us on Karma Central. So we thought, why not invite Ms. Felber to our annual bash?

Susie went above and beyond the call of duty during our July 13th party. She exhausted herself channelling the spirit of "Muffins: Psychic Cat from Beyond the Grave" for scores of Bash-goers. (BTW: Ectoplasmic kitty litter is extremely hard to find.) She ran the fearsome gauntlet of our Superstition Obstacle Course. And she risked life and limb to smash a full-length mirror, ushering in seven full-length years of pitiful bad luck.

Well, there really is no such thing as luck, but all of you who missed the Superstition Bash--and Susie's amazing feats of "com-mediumship" are the truly unfortunate ones. Nevertheless, take heart: at least you can enjoy what you missed by visiting Karma Central's Superstition Bash Photo Essay at http://www.comedycentral.com/timewasters/kc/bash01.jhtml.

Articles of Note

Number crunch
By Michael Finley


"Do we put too much stock in numbers? That is the thesis of a new book, "The Sum of Our Discontent," by David Boyle. Boyle has written one of those great armchair books, arguing that our statistical universe is no more real or reliable than that on Cartoon Network."

Sci-Fi Channel's Slick Psychic Crosses Over To Broadcast TV
Published: Sep 3, 2001 Tampa Tribune


I don't see dead people. But I'm getting a letter. It's an F ... a word that starts with F. Fat? Fools? Fraud? It's Fred! I once had a dog named Fred. He went to the great fire hydrant in the sky a few years ago. He's barking. He's trying to tell me something.

Whoops! I lost him.

From Skeptic Sami Rozenbaum in Venezuela:

...I was interviewed by the press (El Universal), and those words were selected by my fellow journalist for the title. You can see it at http://zona.eluniversal.com/zona/2001/09/02/ciencia.shtml (in Spanish)

This is probably the first time somebody talks in our media about being systematically skeptic, and blames the same media for its responsibility in today's pseudoscientific wave.

An update on Paul Kurtz radio interviews:

Also, the Freethinkers of Colorado Springs have arranged for Dr. Kurtz to appear with Dr. David Noebel (Summit Ministries and co-author of "Mind Siege") on a Colorado Springs radio station (KGFT 100.7) on September 26, 4-6 p.m. MDT. The discussion will focus on Noebel's contention that Humanism is a religion and represents a "threat" to our nations moral character.

Macbeth ritual hit by 'strange happenings'

From Ananova at


A white witch ceremony in the Highlands to exorcise the curse of Macbeth has been hit by strange happenings.

White witch Kevin Carlyon and psychic medium Eileen Webster were trying to contact the spirit of King Macbeth of Scotland.

They claim several other witches cancelled their trip after the "unlucky" death of a pet dog, another stayed at home when her cat brought in a black feather and a cameraman ended up in hospital after falling ill while filming the ritual.

The ceremony at the site of the old Inverness Castle was aiming to raise the spirit of Macbeth and lift the curse afflicting the Shakespeare play.

Mr Carlyon summoned the elements of earth, air, wind and water, while letting off industrial smoke bombs, reports the This is North Scotland website.

When Ms Webster attempted to contact Macbeth, she collapsed on the ground.

She said: "I sensed a great power that just drained away all my energy. I remember feeling fear. I sensed a very, very evil spirit. I believe in this curse definitely now."

She claimed she had been stalked by a black crow prior to the ceremony.

Mr Carlyon said: "What happened here was totally out of the unexpected. There has been a strange series of mini disasters.

"We have reflected the curse, but it will only be when people start saying 'Macbeth', and putting on productions of the play, that we will know we have been successful. We won't know until people tell us."

Monday, September 03, 2001

Witches hold national congress to work on curses

From Ananova at:


Witches in Romania have held a national congress to fight against curses they believe are blighting the country.

More than 30 of the country's most famous witches attended the meeting at Iasi and discussed uniting their powers through magic chants to dispel curses.

The witches think a drought that has hit the country this year is because of a curse placed on the country.

Ileana, a witch from Iasi, said: "The drought is a major problem and even if it now does not present an immediate threat, it should be stopped in due time."

The witches decided to meet yearly but also in emergency cases, "if the country needs us," Ileana said.

Their next appointment will be an emergency case to debate the visas regime of Romania, reports Libertatea Daily.



Check the following links for the latest "quack" therapy, & the latest example of religious fanaticism!!


Anti-gravity device gives science a lift


SCIENTISTS in Finland are about to reveal details of the world's first anti-gravity device. Measuring about 12in across, the device is said to reduce significantly the weight of anything suspended over it.

The claim - which has been rigorously examined by scientists, and is due to appear in a physics journal next month - could spark a technological revolution. By combating gravity, the most ubiquitous force in the universe, everything from transport to power generation could be transformed.

The Sunday Telegraph has learned that Nasa, the American space agency, is taking the claims seriously, and is funding research into how the anti-gravity effect could be turned into a means of flight.

The researchers at the Tampere University of Technology in Finland, who discovered the effect, say it could form the heart of a new power source, in which it is used to drive fluids past electricity-generating turbines.

Not created equal, indeed: The case against evolution


Not created equal, indeed: The case against evolution

Science seeks to answer questions for which it simply isn't equipped

By Joel Amos Gordon, For the Journal and Courier

Lately a debate has been going on regarding the teaching of evolution or creationism in class. It is really not so much an argument that concerns itself with science as it does philosophy.

The question that everyone is attempting to answer is, "How was life first formed?" Was it by the creation of God or the natural forces of nature or extraterrestrial aliens? Scientists approach this question through science, religious people through their religion, etc. This is a philosophical question that science really has no ability to answer.

The problem with scientists trying to answer this question is that the scientific method cannot construct a theory for something that is not observable and testable. The scientific method has five steps. Step 1 is to observe and describe phenomena. Step 2 is to form a hypothesis concerning the phenomena. Step 3 is to use the hypothesis to predict results. Step 4 is to test these predictions through experiments. Step 5 is to reduplicate steps 3 and 4 until the hypothesis and the results contain no discrepancies. All of these steps are dependent upon physical observation.

So when it comes to the beginnings of life, how can the scientific method help? To speak strictly from the realm of science, it cannot help at all. Evolution, as the word is commonly used today (which seems to have as many definitions as there are biology professors), basically is the genetic change of a population species, or part of a population species, into new and different species. To approach this with the scientific method is impossible -- that is unless some of our scientists were around to see how species "evolved" from other species (Step 1) and were then able to test the hypotheses that were made (Step 4) from those phenomena. Seeing as both of these have not yet occurred (nor can they, in my opinion), science cannot claim to answer the question of the origins of life. Because scientists were not around to physically observe the origins of life, science and the scientific method are unable to deal with it.

This small detail, however, has not stopped scientists from trying to prove evolution has occurred. Many scientists provide "evidence" of evolution through different fossils that have been unearthed by conveniently fitting them into an ancestral tree that they created to prove their own argument. As if this self-serving "proof" is not enough, another problem has been found with this ancestral tree. There have been examples of some "descendant fossils" which have been found dating to an earlier time than their supposed "ancestors." Another problem with this ancestral tree is that most of it is purely imagination. The earliest fossils found are already complex organisms contained in many different species. To put it bluntly, the "tree" shown in many textbooks contains an imaginary trunk and branches.

Other scientists have used the scientific method to a degree to "prove" this concept of evolution. In the early 20th century scientists bombarded fruit flies with radiation to get them to mutate, thus proving the hypothesis of evolution. Of course, no new species were created in these experiments, but that's beside the point, I guess. Even if new species were formed from these experiments, that does nothing to show how life was first formed. Had new species been formed in these experiments, all humanity would have gained was an avenue on how life could have been formed, not necessarily on how it was formed.

This is really the crux of the issue. Science is good for explaining things which can be observed, poked, prodded and tested. The scientific method is set up to do just that. But at the end of the day, it cannot answer philosophical questions such as the origins of life. It can predict what might have occurred, but it will never be able to prove its prediction through the scientific method, because the scientific method is not able to deal with anything outside of the observable and testable.


Gordon is a Lafayette resident.

Mystery of off-shore boom noises under microscope

Seismologists in the US are to try to find out what's causing strange noises which can be heard off the coast of North Carolina.

The mysterious noises have been reported as far back as the 1850s and cause windows to rattle in Fort Fisher.

Some say the noises are sonic booms from unseen aircraft, or top secret military training offshore or maybe the earth moving on the ocean floor.

Others say the phenomenon, known as the Seneca Guns, is the sound of the ghosts of American Indians firing guns to disturb descendants of those who drove them from their land, reports Detroit News.

Now Duke University seismologist Peter Malin will monitor a sensor placed deep in the ground in Fort Fisher.

It is intended to record minor seismic activity which might indicate when more significant quakes can be expected.

However, Mr Malin's hunch is the booming noise originates in the atmosphere, although he has no particular theory on the cause. He heard the sound and saw its impact in July while preparing his project. Doors and windows shook, but the house didn't, he said, indicating to him the ground did not move.

Accounts of the rumbling date back to the days before airplanes, much less supersonic jets which fly fast enough to break the sound barrier. There is no particular pattern, although in the past they have been reported most often in the autumn and spring.

Other scientists have suggested the interplay between water and weather might be causing the sounds.

*Natural world story sent by Ananova

See this story on the web at


Actor takes new approach to 'Inherit the Wind' role

Copyright © 2001 Nando Media
Copyright © 2001 Christian Science Monitor Service

By GREGORY M. LAMB, Christian Science Monitor

(August 31, 2001 8:52 p.m. EDT) - "Inherit the Wind" was written in the early 1950s as a reaction to McCarthy-era threats to free speech. It's a fictionalized version of the 1925 Scopes "monkey trial" in Tennessee, which concerns the teaching of evolution in public schools.

Full text:


Scientists call for online library

Saturday, 1 September, 2001, 09:48 GMT 10:48 UK
Scientists call for online library
By BBC News Online technology correspondent Mark Ward

Thousands of scientists around the world will soon be boycotting academic journals that refuse to make their contents freely available on the web soon after publication.

The boycott could mean scientists refusing to submit papers to journals and refusing to review the work of their peers for any journal that does not deposit research papers into an online public library of science.

The group behind the online library is planning its own online journals to give scientists who join the boycott a forum for their work.

Already the support gathered by the group has led many journals to make their contents freely available far sooner than they used to.

So far, over 26,000 scientists from 170 countries, including many Nobel Laureates, have signed a letter supporting the creation of an online public library, which will one day be a repository for all scientific research.

Full text:


At Last We Will Have Proof


MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (Wireless Flash) -- The mystery of Sasquatch may finally been solved thanks to a South Carolina man who claims he is in possession of a Bigfoot corpse. 30-year-old Simon Garth claims he shot and killed the creature in self-defense last weekend after it pelted him with rocks during a camping trip.

He dragged the dead Bigfoot to his pick-up truck and hauled the creature to his brother-in-law's house, where the corpse supposedly is now sitting in a meat freezer.

Garth claims the Bigfoot is 6 feet tall, weighs around 285 pounds and smells like "bad eggs."

He plans to sell the corpse to the highest bidder and says he hopes the Discovery Channel will be interested because he thinks they'll treat the creature "...with more dignity than ABC or CBS."

Advanced propulsion and new energy technologies

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Please, look content of Sept-Oct. 20001 issue at our site


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I hope our news can be useful in your scientific work. Also we are looking for business partners. Please, let your colleagues know about our new company.

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Mel Gibson [cast in] crop circle movie

http://www.upcomingmovies.com/signs.html Signs
Release Date: TBA 2002
Distributor: Touchstone Pictures (Disney)

Production Company: Note: Spyglass Entertainment produced Unbreakable and The Sixth Sense, but aren't handling this.

Cast: Mel Gibson; other cast not announced yet.

Cast Note: (8/30/01) Mark Ruffalo had been cast as the second lead, but has had to drop out due to an ear operation to remove an inner ear cyst. The role will be recast shortly.

Director: M. Night Shyamalan (Unbreakable, The Sixth Sense, Wide Awake, Praying with Anger)

Screenwriter: M. Night Shyamalan (in addition to writing the above films, he also cowrote Stuart Little)

Based upon: The modern phenomenon known as "crop circles", most common in England, where mysterious patterns are found in remote fields; depending upon whom you ask, they're either elaborate hoaxes or messages from UFO's.

Premise: A farmer (Gibson; in talks) in Bucks County, PA, near Philadelphia, becomes a media sensation when strange 500-foot crop circles begin appearing in his fields...

Filming: Production is scheduled to start in the Philadelphia area (especially Bucks County, of course) in October, 2001. (note: according to a recent, 8/30/01, report at Corona, some filming has possibly already happened.)

Genres: Supernatural, Thriller

Greg's Preview Thoughts: (5/7/01) After establishing a reputation and following with the ghosts of The Sixth Sense, M. Night Shyamalan took on superheroes with Unbreakable, and is now apparently addressing the UFO phenomenon with Signs (other unexplained subjects I expect from him someday: Bigfoot, the Bermuda Triangle, the Tooth Fairy, Santa Claus, and why there is no J Street in Washington, D.C.). Like both of his previous films of a spooky nature, Shyamalan is likely to continue to be tight about the specifics of this film, although revealing that it's about crop circles is already more than we knew about Unbreakable this far ahead of its production.

It's interesting to note that there is another UFO-related movie on the way, The Mothman Prophecies, starring Richard Gere, which also was filmed in rural PA.



Walt Disney/Mel Gibson - Crop Circle Movie
A message from David Kingston and a comment by Colin Andrews (Letzes Update: Sunday, 20-May-2001)

Mel Gibson is mulling an offer from the Walt Disney Co. to star in M. Night Shymalan's supernatural thriller "Signs," which begins shooting in the fall.

The plot for the film is being kept closely under wraps, but it is known to revolve around the mysterious appearances of crop circles on a family farm in Pennsylvania.

Disney picked up the project last month in a multimillion-dollar pre-emptive bid. Gibson, repped by ICM, is shooting Paramount Pictures' "We Were Soldiers Once ... and Young," which his production company, Icon, is producing.

Kommentar von Colin Andrews:
When Pat Delgado and I wrote 'Circular Evidence' during 1989, we promised that one day the crop circles mystery would make a great movie. Well its arrived. Only pity is that while the script will no doubt evolve around some of our experiences and research findings and all the strange experiences we and others since have had, the $10,000,000 was paid in full by Disney films to the script writer only.

The story will no doubt impact many and now that we can view the whole thing as just a movie, millions will think about it for the first time and will be able to consider what is going on.

When the collective consciousness of mankind is impacted with similar thought, our future is affected by the consequences. One way or another 'The Signs' (or at least 20% of them!) really meant business when they showed up in the fields around Stonehenge those two decades and more ago.

Onward-watch out for 'The Signs'!

Colin Andrews



It's been a long time coming but Hollywood has finally smelt the coffee and decided to bankroll a blockbuster movie about the crop circle phenomenon. Manoj Nelliyattu Shyamalan aka M Night Shyamalan (pictured right), the writer/director behind the blockbusters "The Sixth Sense" and more recently "Unbreakable" which collectively grossed more than one billion dollars worldwide presented Disney with his new script titled "Signs" - which is centered around the crop circle mystery - on Saturday 21st April 2001 with the ink still drying. The studio bosses were so impressed with the script that they preemptively closed an eight-figure deal with Shyamalan the following Sunday morning (haven't they heard of the day of rest?) Shyamalan received $10 million upfront for Unbreakable, and it's safe to assume that "Signs" would have been bought for an equivalent - if not larger - sum. The "Unbreakable" deal, which included $5 million for his script, broke the script auction record previously held by Shane Black, who received $4 million from New Line Cinema for "The Long Kiss Goodnight."

At this stage little is know about the plot of the movie which is being closely guarded but, like "The Sixth Sense" and "Unbreakable", the film is a thriller set in Shyamalan's home state of Pennsylvania. "Signs" takes place in Bucks County and revolves around the sudden appearance of mysterious crop circles at a family's farm. Mel Gibson (pictured right) will star in "Signs" as the farmer whose land the circles appear on. Rising Hollywood star Mark Ruffalo (pictured below) has also been asked to co-star alongside Gibson. He has just completed work on "A View From the Top" alongside Gwyneth Paltrow and John Woo's new movie "Windtalkers" alongside Nicolas Cage. (Update: Ruffalo had to drop out of the project in late August 2001 due to illness.) Filming is scheduled to start in Philadelphia in mid-September with a nine-week shoot. The current estimated release date for the movie is November 2002.

This won't be the first time a crop circle has appeared in a movie. The 1999 Danish film "Mifune's Last Song" featured a crop circle but it was by no means central to the plot. Also, there have been several near misses: the directors of the 1997 feature "Contact" starring Jodie Foster collected crop circle information but decided not to use it in the final cut of the movie. Circlemakers Doug Bower and Dave Chorley were in talks with an unnamed famous British director in the early nineties about bringing their story to the screen but the project never came to fruition. We've also been approached several times over the years by representatives of Fox and Barry Levinson asking if we would be interested in helping develop a script.

Crop circles have already made it to the small screen, beyond the numerous documentaries and news items made about them over the years, they've also been fictionalised and featured in Sci-Fi series. "The X Files" featured circles during its seventh season in an episode called 'All Things'. circlemakers.org even gets a plug in the documentation about the episode on the 'X-Files' website. (Pictured right is the 'virtual' formation that appeared in the show). Circles also featured prominently in the cult Sci-Fi series 'Dark Skies' cropping up in several episodes including the pilot 'The Awakening" - directed by Tobe Hooper of 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre Fame' -'Inhuman Nature' which ties the crop circle phenomenon into the macabre practice of cattle mutilation and in "Shades of Gray" in which some of the shows characters decide to create their very own crop circle in the hope of luring an alien spaceship to land!

So, twenty five years after the circles started appearing here in the UK, it's good to finally see a film project based around the circles get the green light.



Farm college home to Gibson film

Wyatt Counts / Associate Press

Mel Gibson will star in the film "Signs" as a farmer who discovers large circles and other patterns in his fields.

Mel Gibson is playing a farmer in M. Night Shyamalan's Signs, which will be filmed outside Philadelphia starting in September. After a lengthy search of area farmland, producers have decided to film the movie at Doylestown's Delaware Valley College, a private four-year school known for its agricultural program. "Everyone knows he's coming and all the girls are waiting," said Mitzi Weikel, a student working on campus this summer. The college has signed an agreement to rent 100 acres of its cornfields through the end of the year. Filming is expected to start in September. Gibson plays a farmer who discovers large circles and other patterns in his fields. "Our biggest concern is that when they leave, they leave the fields the way they found them," said Dr. Thomas Leamer, president of the college, which locals call "the farm school." "That's part of the agreement."



Bucks farm will be setting for Mel Gibson movie

By Steve Wartenberg
Staff Writer

In Bucks County.

This fall, the latest film from M. Night Shyamalan, the writer and director of "The Sixth Sense" and "Unbreakable," will be filmed right here, on a Bucks County farm, and is slated to star the hunky Mel "Braveheart" Gibson.

"Signs" is scheduled to start shooting in the fall and location scout Andrew Ullman has been scouring bucolic Bucks, looking for the perfect farm.

"He just drove up one day when I was working outside," said Bedminster's David Leopold. "He said they're looking for a farmhouse or barn where they could look out the window and see a cornfield. They were willing to replant the cornfield. It had to be big and ours wasn't big enough."

Ullman also indicated the farm he selects will be the primary location and filming could take three to five months.

Shyamalan, who lives in Montgomery County, is secretive about the plots of his films and isn't talking much about "Signs."

Indications are it's about what happens after a farmer —Gibson, with a Bucks County accent —discovers large circles and patterns in his field.

How the heck did they get there?

"(Ullman) said he's been all over the county," said another Bedminster farm owner who wanted to remain nameless. "He's visited at least 75 places and taken photographs. He's a very personable fellow, but...

"He's Hollywood."

Ullman is also a little shy about returning phone calls and did not respond to messages left on his cell phone.

Then again, maybe he's under orders from Shyamalan to remain mum.

Piecing together what's going on with the filming of "Signs" is as difficult as following the plot of one of his movies.

"In my opinion," said Sharon Pinkenson, executive director of the Greater Philadelphia Film Office, "(all the secrecy) is because he tends to write movies with mysteries involved in them. It's incumbent upon him to be secretive about the project."

The film is being produced by Disney's Touchstone Pictures. His first two films have grossed a reported $900 million worldwide.

"The Sixth Sense" and "Unbreakable" were both filmed in Philadelphia and Pinkenson estimated they brought in $25 million to $50 million —each to the local economy.

And now, some of that movie money is headed our way.

Hooray for Hollywood!

Plus, there will be a cottage industry of Gibson sightings that should keep us busy for weeks.

"(Shyamalan) has always stated," Pinkenson said, "that's he's very committed to living, working and writing in this area."

His production company is located in Conshohocken, but employees there were also not talking.

Casting has already begun, through Mike Lemon Casting.

The Philadelphia agency is looking for "A boy, 8-12, intelligent, sensitive and intuitive, for a leading role" and "A girl, 4-7, intelligent, extremely focused for a leading role."

As if all of our Bucks and Montgomery county boys and girls aren't intelligent, intuitive and focused.

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