NTS LogoSkeptical News for 7 June 2003

Archive of previous NTS Skeptical News listings

Saturday, June 07, 2003

Conversations with Extraterrestrials

Date: 2003-06-06 By: Preston Dennett

One of the rarest types of UFO encounter is an onboard experience or a face-to-face encounter with an actual extraterrestrial. In my twenty years of UFO investigations, I have uncovered only a handful of these types of very close encounters. Surprisingly, in the vast majority of these encounters, there is little or no conversation between the humans and the aliens.

In the cases where there is conversation, it is often one-sided and limited to the extraterrestrials giving platitudes to the frightened witnesses. It's the same phrase over and over again. I've heard it a thousand times. It's almost like a broken record. The first word out of the aliens' mouths (or minds) is invariably, "DO NOT BE AFRAID. WE WON'T HURT YOU."

While the aliens are usually very tight-lipped, occasionally they will engage people in brief conversations or relay brief messages.

CASE ONE: "You Won't Remember This."

My first case involving conversations between humans and ETs occurred to the Robinson family of Reseda, California. In 1989, the family experienced a series of sightings and abductions by gray-type aliens, culminating in what UFO investigators call "a baby presentation."

The main witness, Kelly Robinson, experienced four consecutive visitations over a period of a few months. During each encounter, she was able to converse with the aliens.

On the first encounter, Kelly awoke to find four gray-type ETs standing around her bed. One spoke telepathically, telling her."Do not be afraid. Come with us. You won't remember this."

Kelly, however, was a very feisty, independent twenty-year-old, and like twenty percent of abductees, she did remember. She recalled being taken into a small round room and placed on a table. They told her, "We're going to take your memory away. You'll not remember this...Don't be afraid. We're not going to hurt you. You can't remember this."

Kelly screamed at them, "Yes, I will!"

This argument went back and forth, with the aliens telling her she couldn't and wouldn't remember, and Kelly screaming back that she would.

They then cut her arm. She woke up the next morning and immediately looked at her arm. A neat two-inch scar was exactly where she remembered the aliens cutting her.

Two weeks later, the aliens returned, telling her, "We're going to take your memory."

Kelly screamed at them, "No, you're not. I'm going to tell."

They told her, "No, you're not....Your parents wouldn't understand. You better not tell them, you know."

Kelly screamed out that she would tell her father.

They said, "No, no, no! You can't."

A few weeks later, they came again. As usual, they attempted to erase her memory of the incident. They told her, "You're going to forget everything."

However, as usual, Kelly had some recall of the events. Says Kelly, "I don't know specifically what they asked me. They were asking me things about what we do, but you know, I can't specifically say. They [said,] 'this will happen and that will happen.' I think it's about my job or something."

Says Kelly, "It's hard for me to remember. They say, "You're going to forget everything.'...It's totally stressed on, "We're not going to let you remember this. We're going to take your memory of this away."

On her final encounter, the aliens appeared and said, "We need to talk to you. Come with us."

Kelly resisted and threatened to tell her father. They said, "No, you can't tell your dad."

Says Kelly, "I think they're religious. They're not really out to hurt us. They're out to learn. But they're afraid for us to remember because they're afraid we would tell people about them."

CASE TWO: "They Have Everything But Love."

Kelly Robinson's mother, Diane, had an experience which she calls a "dream," but is clearly connected to the UFO encounters of her family. Diane recalls being taken into a room where she was shown babies who were genetically altered. First revealed by researcher Budd Hopkins, these rare cases involve abductees who are told to hold and nurture babies that appear to be half-alien and half-human. In most cases, there is little information exchanged. Diane, however, was given a brief explanation.

She recalled being taken to a room where she saw a large contraption shaped like a Christmas tree, but instead of branches there were incubators filled with babies.

Diane was told to pick a baby and hold it. She refused because the babies appeared to be deformed. Says Diane, "Every one of them had something wrong with them. And she said it was sad, because it wasn't planned that way, that they had all these things wrong with them....She said they had everything but love. She said, 'That's why I'd like you to take one and love it....They have problems. They are different. But they still need love."

Diane was unable to overcome her revulsion and refused to hold the babies. Following this experience, all the UFO encounters of the Robinson family ended.

CASE THREE: "There's Going to be a Rebellion."

During my research into the UFO wave over Topanga Canyon, California (see UFOs Over Topanga Canyon, Llewellyn, 1999), I uncovered several cases involving face-to-face extraterrestrial encounters. Again, in most cases, the aliens either didn't speak or said only, "Do not be afraid, we won't hurt you." However, in a few cases, messages were given. One case is that of the Martin family. It was Sarah Martin, the mother, who actually spoke with the extraterrestrials.

Sarah Martin's encounters occurred during the peak of the UFO wave and involved several close-up sightings and at least one onboard encounter. Sarah recalls being inside a small circular room surrounded by small robed figures. Says Sarah, "To be honest with you, I can't remember their faces. I just remember talking to them...and they were talking to me. And this is what they said: 'Why are you so involved in this [Ross Perot] campaign? Why are you wasting your time? It's going to fall apart, one by one, and whoever wins, it doesn't matter because the whole system is going to come down around everybody. There's going to be a rebellion. And you're not a part of this, so don't get involved.'"

At the time, Sarah was heavily involved in the Ross Perot presidential campaign. After the experience, she dropped all her political activities. Says Sarah, "This was so incredible. In my mind, I keep going over again what they said: 'You're not a part of this, so don't be a part of it. Get away from all of it.'...The other thing too is something about an earthquake, a big earthquake. Something like that...but the thing that stuck out the most was, 'Why are you so involved? Why are you letting this consume your time? It's not worth it, and it's all going to fall apart.'"

A few years later, the devastating Northridge earthquake struck, destroying several homes in Topanga Canyon.

CASE THREE: "We Need Babies."

Interestingly, another Topanga witness received prophetic warnings of the Northridge earthquake the night before it occurred, thereby saving her from serious injury or even death. Marcellina X had had encounters all her life, but it wasn't until she moved into Topanga Canyon that she began to experience face-to-face visitations. Following the earthquake, she had an encounter with a gray-type extraterrestrial in her home.

During the encounter, the ET spoke to her telepathically. Says Marcellina, "It was telling me they were trying to invent ways of intercourse. They needed babies. It was just telling me a bunch of things telepathically. There would be more earthquakes. And then you know, we had all those earthquakes all over the world....I had changed my living room after the earthquake with a whole bunch of pictures I had painted of planets. And they told me that's not exactly the way it looked there...[they said] I would be able to heal myself and I would be able to heal them. If they wanted me to heal them, I would be able to heal them."

Following this experience, Marcellina experienced the missing-fetus syndrome. Well known among UFO investigators, this syndrome involves women who become pregnant following a UFO encounter and then mysteriously lose the fetus. Marcellina also experienced subsequent paranormal healing events.

CASE FOUR: "Our Emotions Are Different Than Yours."

Pat Brown is a physical therapist from Panorama City, California. She had never thought of UFOs until 1992, when a vacation to Arizona triggered a series of encounters with gray-type extraterrestrials. For a period of several months, Pat reported terrifying nightly visits by ETs in her condo. Then, one evening, she was taken on board.

To her surprise, she found the experience enjoyable. She was given a tour of the craft and taken to meet "the master." It was then that she was given several messages of a spiritual nature. Says Pat, "I don't know all that they said to me, but I remember them telling me there was something I had to do with my aura."

She was surprised to find that the appearance of the alien had changed to a human male with blond hair. She asked, "Why do you look like that?"

The ET replied, "Because this is the way you want me to look."

Pat was taken out of her body and was shown what her astral body looked like. The ET told her, "That is your soul. That is the part of you that goes through all the lifetimes."

Pat was given further spiritual lessons on vibrations and healing and was then returned to her bedroom.

She soon had further experiences, and suffered several medical effects as a result of her encounters. Her case is also supported by additional witnesses. Her obsession with the subject grew and Pat began a search for information and was led to a channeler, someone claiming to speak for the ETs.

Pat asked the channeler if people who are abducted make an agreement on some level. The channeler, speaking for the ETs, said that yes, abductees do, in fact, agree to be abducted.

Pat said, "Can you make them stop?"

The ETs replied, "No, you cannot make them stop, but if you become consciously aware, you will be handled in a different way...You need to understand why you have created this. We perceive we are supporting you in your drama. Why did you create this?"

Another audience member asked, "You come here and you get specimens. What do we get from you?"

"You get a jump start in your growth. That's what we give you."

Another member asked about emotions and the ETs replied, "Our emotions are different than yours, but we do have emotions because we accept it as important to us."

The conversation continued until Pat became angry and shouted at them that they shouldn't take her against her will.

The ETs replied, "The experiences you are receiving from this far outweigh the other things you are experiencing, and there's not one person in this room that would not trade places with you."

Pat continues to have experiences, both positive and negative. She is also continuing her quest to understand the reasons for her encounters.

CASE FIVE: "We Are From a Place You Don't Know About Yet."

In 1995, a middle-age couple, William and Rose Shelhart, were driving outside Sedona, Arizona, late at night when they spotted a bright light in the sky following them. It soon became apparent that the light was playing a game of cat and mouse with them as it chased them down the road and eventually landed in a field next to them. That was the last thing they consciously remembered.

Their next memory was arriving at a hotel in Sedona, several hours too late. Realizing they had missing time, they later sought out a hypnotist and recalled an incredible onboard UFO experience. They recalled being taken on board the craft and examined by nearly human-looking uniformed extraterrestrials. While William's recall was negligible, Rose was able to recall most of what happened, including an actual conversation that she had with the ETs.

According to Rose, they were "invited" onboard and treated with kindness and respect. Says Rose, "They [the extraterrestrials] were just saying that we are helping you. They told me [William] was in another room getting different messages."

Rose asked where they come from. The aliens gave a typically enigmatic and evasive answer, replying, "We are from a place you don't know about yet."

When asked about their purpose for coming here, their response was decidedly positive. Says Rose, "They said they are helping certain people here because they will help humanity. And something about like, the more we help, the more they help us. But they can't interfere and just take over and fix everything."

Rose was unable to obtain any further useful information. She and her husband continue to have sightings and encounters, and William reports that he was healed of carpel-tunnel syndrome as a result of his interaction with the Ets.

CASE SIX: "Don't Worry, We Won't Hurt You."

Jack Stevens (pseudonym), of Everett, Washington, was only twelve years old when he was abducted out of a car and into a large craft. Most of the event was shrouded in amnesia until 1997, when he spontaneously recalled what happened twenty-five years earlier. His memory revealed a harrowing six-hour-long abduction event.

Jack recalled being levitated inside a beam of light and laid out on a table surrounded by short figures. As he was being taken on board, the ETs told him, "Don't worry, we're not going to hurt you."

As they examined him, Jack reports that the aliens conversed among themselves. "I remember two of them going back and forth, and it was like a 'good cop, bad cop' thing. One of them, for all he cared, just throw me off. That's what the impression was, just, 'get him off here.' And the other one was saying, 'No, we are not going to do that.'

"I remember them telling me to open my mouth."

Jack became nervous about his mother and brother who were still back in the car. The beings responded, "Don't worry about it, we don't want them...Don't want them, don't need them....We don't care about them."

At one point, one of the beings attempted to relate a complex message. Says Jack, "He was telling me all kinds of stuff, but it wasn't sinking in. I didn't understand what he was telling me. There were math formula things and something about a lot of triangles and circles. There was a lot of geometry thrown at me. And I'm just sitting there thinking, this is pretty cool, but I kind of want to go home."

After several more procedures, the ordeal finally ended. As Jack was being placed back into his car, a final exchange ensued. Jack said, "You didn't do anything to my mom and brother, right?"

The beings responded, "Right, don't worry."

Jack's case involves considerable physical evidence and numerous other witnesses. The case is still ongoing.

CASE SEVEN: "We've been Here a Long, Long, Time."

A very unusual case of extraterrestrial contact occurred to a waitress named Maryann X, of Carpinteria, California. One evening in 1992, following a series of UFO sightings, Maryann was in her home watching TV when she became aware of a presence. Although she couldn't see anything, in her mind's eye she sensed a strange being. The figure was thin, bald, with a large head, gray skin and dark almond-shaped eyes. In other words, the typical gray-type alien.

At that point, Maryann began to experience the phenomenon of automatic writing. Messages which she believed were from the alien began to be transmitted through her.

Says Maryann, "He's very interested in our interest in him and his race. [He says] that they've been here for a long, long time, longer than we have from what I understand....They're vastly interested in us. They're almost more fascinated in us than we are in them. We don't think the same way they do. He said, 'We live in oceans.' They live in the ocean, underwater. Their ships are underwater. They're very benign. They have no nuclear warheads [or] this kind of stuff."

Like many contactees, Maryann was given information about upcoming natural disasters. "He was telling me something about earthquakes. He didn't predict anything else. He just said we're in for some big type of natural disaster. I get the impression, thinking back to what he talks to me about, is that they're almost here to warn us. Not of an impending doom type of thing, like the world's going to blow up, but they're not here to hurt. They're here to observe."

The alien told Maryann that their race is much more numerous than all of humanity. "Lot and lots and lots. This is not just five or ten or twenty ships roaming around. We're talking--from what I get from him--millions and millions of these people. And they've existed before we recorded time and history."

The alien told her that they were conducting a program to contact small groups of people across the planet. "That's the understanding I have. They have jobs like everybody has jobs down here. His job is to find people who are receptive enough that he can talk to. And he was really worried about whether or not I was really scared....I get the impression that I am not the only one he talks to. In fact, I think that it's like a job for them. That's kind of the impression I got, is they kind of probe different people. It's like his job is to find people who are receptive."

Marianne has made contact with the alien on several occasions, and has been given much more information.

CASE EIGHT: "It Is Very Important We Do This."

Melinda Leslie of Los Angeles, California, is an office manager and secretary who has been having ET contact her entire life. Even more amazing is that Melinda has been able to recall many of her experiences consciously, without the aid of hypnosis. She is what UFO researchers call a conscious abductee.

While she has had virtually the entire range of UFO experiences, one of her most dramatic occurred in July 1991 while driving with two friends through the Los Angeles forest. All three experienced a two-hour-long abduction into a metallic craft piloted by grey-type ETs.

Once on board, they were undressed, examined, separated and given separate messages. Melinda Leslie was able to recall the entire event consciously. As she was laid out and examined, she hammered the aliens with questions, none of which they answered.

She saw her friend sitting in a chair with a bizarre-looking headset on him and she screamed out, "What are you doing to him?"

One of the aliens replied, "It's all right, we're giving him information. It's all right. We're educating him."

"Don't hurt him," Melinda said.

"We're not hurting him. He's all right. It's all right."

Melinda continued to let out a stream of questions, however, she was rarely answered, and then, only in an evasive manner. Says Melinda, "They don't give you straight answers. They say, 'It's okay. We need to do this. You understand.'"

At one point, the three friends were separated and placed into different rooms. Melinda found herself in a room with a dozen greys. One stepped up to her and said, "Now, we're going to do something. Don't be afraid, but this is very important that we do this. We're going to put this over your head."

What followed was a bizarre procedure. Melinda was immobilized by a device placed over her head. The aliens stood in a circle around Melinda and pushed her back and forth like a punching clown. Melinda felt she was going to fall, but each time she was caught and pushed again. Finally, she relaxed. At that point, they stopped and removed the device. One of the aliens said, "You needed to learn that....You needed to learn to trust us."

Meanwhile, Melinda's friend, James, was receiving a different message. Says Melinda, "James said when I was out of the room, they came over to him, and they showed him a device, a bunch of stuff. They told him how to make a UFO detector, and they gave him the information. He said, they said because they wanted him to document and videotape them. When sightings happen, they told him he has a mission to document this stuff."

According to James, "They showed me how to do this. And they explained the whole thing technically to me, and I was given the information how to build those. They were done and they made sure I understood. And I said, 'Yes, I understand.'"

Melinda's other friend was unable to recall much detail other than being taken onboard and examined. Melinda continues to have experiences and has lectured extensively about her encounters.


There are many other cases where aliens have conversed with human beings. However, the patterns are usually the same. For the most part, aliens are not only extremely taciturn; when they do speak they are often evasive. When abductee Travis Walton was taken onboard a UFO, he asked numerous questions of the aliens, none of which were answered. When abductee Betty Hill asked her abductors where they came from, they told her, "You wouldn't understand."

But as the above cases show, the aliens do sometimes reveal information about themselves, their feelings, their intentions, their desires, fears and beliefs. By piecing together these accounts, we are beginning to get a clearer picture of who the aliens are and what they are doing on this planet. The main message revealed by the aliens' conversations is that they have a strong interest in humanity. Whether they are removing genetic material, imparting spiritual knowledge, predicting natural disaster or studying our emotions, the aliens are obviously fascinated by humanity. The conclusion is clear. For whatever reason, they are deeply interested in us. And if the patterns reveal anything, the aliens will remain here for a long, long time.


Phil Plaitt debates Nacy Lieder:


Posted: Wed May 14, 2003 1:56 pm Post subject: Verbatim transcript of Phil/Nancy debate is here (whew!)

[Brief introductions and welcome of Nancy Lieder and Phil Plait by George Noory]

GN: Let me start with you, Nancy, very quickly, to get a very brief statement from you on your thoughts again on Planet X.

Nancy: Actually I'm going to give you my thoughts on, oh, who believes in, uh, that Planet X is within our solar system and rapidly approaching--

GN: Okay, and will you be speaking as you, or the Zetas?

Nancy: As me.

GN: Okay.

Nancy: Phil has said, "The weather ain't weird, and quakes aren't increasing", and I've, uh, put a link under the Zeta Face [?] called C to C Debate, which gives some information opposite that. Anyone who thinks the weather isn't weird, uh, is not paying attention and, and, the fact that the quakes are increasing, then why is it that the live seismo, uh, site has been taken down since last Saturday where most of the seismographs are not displaying to people, um, and in fact, uh, they're dropping, uh, quakes from the database like crazy. And, if he says this about the quakes and the weather, then why should we believe him about Planet X? Clearly he has blinders on and plugs up his ears--

GN: Okay, but Nancy, you're gonna get your time to talk about him. You need to use this time to talk about why you think there's a Planet X, so don't waste your time.

Nancy: All right, and here's my final statement. Who believes that Planet X is inbound and that it's likely to cause rotation stoppage and a pole shift after May 15th? Tom Ridge of Homeland Security. With all the attempts to debunk Planet X, why on earth did he mobilize a hundred different agencies just goin' into this week, and keep 'em mobilized, um, and that's the end of my statement.

GN: Okay, as the moderator for this hour with both of you, you have, uh, not, uh, told us your convictions about Planet X yet, but I hope you will do that--

Nancy : Oh, yes. Mm-hm.

GN: --this hour. Philip Plait. Your statement about why you believe there is no Planet X.

Phil: Well, there are quite a few reasons, um, actually, the weather is not weird, there are no more quakes than usual, despite what you just, uh, heard, there is no visual evidence for this, there's no gravitational evidence for this, um, despite the fact, uh, that according to Ms. Lieder it's supposed to be here in a few days, in a week, you know, it's supposed to start sometime in the week after, starting Thursday, um, there's not been a single reputable sighting of it or photograph of it, the pictures that have been shown on the websites are all misinterpretations or fakes, um, and, and, and, can be easily shown to be, so, uh, there's no gravitational effects from this thing, we don't see it affecting the Moon, any of the planets, and, uh, uh, there's just, there's just literally zero evidence for it, and that's why I don't believe in it.

GN: Okay, Nancy, Richard C. Hoagland has said on this program, uh, last Friday that, uh, that he does not believe in Planet X, but he did say that you, Nancy Lieder, uh, sound very convincing, in that he believes that you believe that there is indeed a Planet X. Um, I want you to tell us all. Uh, since the beginning of the 1990 periods when you felt that you were getting information from the Zetas, why you keyed in on a number of things, but including Planet X. Exactly what did they tell you?

Nancy: Well, when Zetatalk started, on January 19th of 1995, in Michael Lindeman's chat group on America Online, they came right out with talkin' about the cataclysm, and talkin' about 2003, uh, this was in fact, um, the first time 2003 began getting a buzz on the Internet, uh, and, uh, it has spread like wildfire. Um, I have never found a statement that they made to be untrue. Uh, they, they, their accuracy is remarkable. Not only did they predict the current weather, and, uh, quake increase, um, increasing illness, slowing rotation where, uh, seconds a day were having to be adjusted by the Navy clock, up until about two weeks ago when they suddenly realized they were showing people what they were doing and reversed that trend, but, um, I have never found them to be accurate, and they place in the sky where they said we would see--when we would see it, how we would see it, and the exact RA and DEC, er, right, right ascension and declination which is the X and Y point in the sky has been so accurate as to be breathtaking, uh, to, and, therefore, um, this in addition to a number of personal signs, which I could never take in front of a, a jury, George, have led me to, um, ah, ah, trust what they're saying is correct and to place my life in jeopardy if it's not.

GN: Well, originally you were saying that the Planet X would be here on May 15th and a few weeks ago you corrected that by saying it's probably closer now to June first. Are you still sticking with that date?

Nancy: Absolutely, and actually, um, it has always been shortly after May 15th, 2003, and you should be in your safe location by May 15th 2003. When we got close to this date, we, uh--clarification was requested. They have always stated that rotation will be stopped for a week, and that when that happens, there will be so much stress in the crust, and so much confusion in the public, that it will be difficult to travel, uh, and, and, in fact travel may be blocked, so therefore assume that week of rotation stoppage after May 15th. They've recently come out with a statement not after June 1st will the pole shift occur. They are not giving a specific date in that two week period because the Indonesian government, the U.S. military, I mean the U.S. government, would use this to harm the populace and prevent them from leaving many large cities along the coast or where damage could be done because they wish to see the underclass and, um, and, and, what is considered undesireables by them, killed.

GN: I'll ask you one more question, Nancy, and then we'll turn to Philip for just a bit--

Nancy: --okay--

GN: --Where is Planet X as we speak?

Nancy: You can, uh, it is, um, between Orion's bow and the right flank of the Taurus bull, but the red persona because it is mostly visible in its orange light which is like a red light that bends, um, uh, and, and, this is, uh, pulling up to be to the left of, in the northern hemisphere, to the left of the sun at dawn, and to the left of the sun, um, at sunset, and. we can get into the details of that later if you wish--

GN: Um-hmm.

Nancy:--it, it was seen as a sunrise um, around May 1st, April 30th, and it was seen as a sunset around May 6th, and uh, we are just beginning to get reports of it seen in the daytime sky. I will tell you the Zetas said that a week before rotation stops, you will, some people depending on their locations et cetera and visibility, will see it, um, in the daytime sky, um, and we can get into that more later, also.

GN: All right, Philip, time to head for the hills? Whaddaya think?

Phil: I don't think so. Um, I don't, uh, I don't even know where to start with all of what I just heard. Um, it, there have not been any sightings of this thing that I've heard of except anecdotal, people have actually been saying they have seen it, um, the photographs that have been placed on, uh, the Zetatalk website are actually, um, clearly at least one of them is a, is, it's what's called a sundog, it's a, uh, it's sunlight that's being bent by ice crystals in the air and, and, uh, Ms. Lieder even has a comparison of the images to sundogs and I think it's kind of funny because one of the images that she claims is real is obviously a sundog, I mean you can compare it to the images she has right there. There are many different types of internal reflections. When you, when you point a, a camera at the sun, you get light bouncing around inside the lens--

GN: Um-hmm.

Phil:--and, and most lenses are coated, you probably heard of this, these multi-coated reflect [?], refraction lenses, all that type of stuff--

GN: Right.

Phil:--but, uh, even with that, when you're pointing it at a very bright object, a lot of light gets in and reflects around. And, the reflection depends on the rotation of the camera, where it's pointed, where the sun is, in the, in the frame, and so these, these, these lens flares, these internal reflections can bounce around, they're different in every picture and it's pretty clear that when there are multiple pictures of, of what some people are calling the second sun, it's, it's, this is supposed to be Planet X, um, it's very clear that these are internal reflections, specially since in the, uh, in the people that take more than one picture, this thing is in a different position relative to the Sun in every picture. And unless Planet X is, you know, bumpin' around like a pinball, I don't think that's really real. Um, she's also claiming that these predictions are a hundred percent accurate, uh, this isn't correct, there have been many predictions that, uh, Ms. Lieder has made in the IRC chat sessions, these, uh, Internet Relay Chat rooms, that have, that have been proven wrong over and over again. Um, and, and, I mean, they're documented in a lot of, a lot of the sites that, uh, actually tear apart the entire Planet X theory.

GN: Now, we have a number of people who continue to e-mail me who are pretty darn concerned that, uh, we've only got a few weeks left, and that is one reason why I think it is so important that after so many years of, of this expected arrival that, uh, we get this kind of dialogue between you two on, one a real scientist, one someone who believes that she's been contacted by aliens from another civilization. I'm going to sorta like sit back and, and monitor for the next couple minutes a conversation between just you two, and you two are on the phone right now, so, uh, you know, if I think it's gonna get out of hand, I'm gonna jump in, but Philip and Nancy? I'd like the two of you to talk to each other.

Nancy: All righty, and I would like to, uh, rebut some of the statements that Phil just said, he said in the images that we are claiming are real--second suns--that it bounces around depending on where it is, actually it's always on the left side at dawn and the left side at sunset, and the only thing that bounces around are my examples of, of, of, sundogs and, and lens flares which, uh, clearly turned like a dial, um, ah, in all directions. Um, second, um, ah, what you're claiming are inaccuracies are, uh, situations which were in the hands of man which as the Zetas have stated from the start of Zetatalk, there is a rule of non-interference which in the main must be followed and therefore, as with the, uh, 2000 election, where they predicted that Gore would win--he did win, he just didn't get the White House because the hands of man interfered. Uh, and so in cases like that, or Chandra Levy, where she later showed up, uh, as a dead body in a park and could have, and was likely to have been planted there, as the evidence showed, um, to, to, state that she was alive and well in Mexico six months earlier, um, is not disproving Zetatalk in that regard, because it was in the hands of man, back to you, Phil.

Phil: Oh, I would disagree pretty strongly with that, I mean, uh, uh, Chandra Levy was known to have disappeared, uh, somewhere near Rock Creek Park and her, her remains were found there sometime later, um. Also, I mean, predicting an election, I'm not gonna argue about that, um, specifically, I should go on record here as saying that I don't believe, uh, that aliens are communicating with anybody here on Earth, there's no evidence of this, um, and so, I am just coming from the angle that this is one person, uh, who is making these statements and, but, either way, if you wanna talk about the hands of man, we could talk for a few minutes about the Comet Hale-Bopp, which, um, was a, a, as most people remember, was a very bright comet, it, uh, passed by the Earth, oh, seven, eight years ago, something like that--

GN: Um-hmm.

Phil:--there were a couple of bright comets right then, actually. Um, Ms. Lieder, you, you were on, uh, sci.astro and, and the venues back then, I mean there wasn't The Web as it is now, or the IRCs or anything like that, saying that Hale-Bopp doesn't exist, and I've read the logs and I've read your website where you actually say now that, um, that the people who are predicting this were trying to distract humanity from looking at the real place of Planet X, and then once, um, the, once the, uh, orbit of Hale-Bopp was known, uh, the, the orbit, the, the, excuse me, the comet that later--wait, lemme rephrase this--that, uh, an orbit was published by astronomers, it was a fake orbit, then they searched around for a comet that was gonna come in, and then they slowly changed the fake comet orbit to match the real one, so they could say, "Hey, look, it was Hale-Bopp all the time!" But--that doesn't work. It just doesn't work. There are thousands of amateurs who used that orbital calculation to see that comet once it was originally discovered. And so there's really no way that you could sit there and change the orbital elements of the, the, the physical characteristics of an orbit, um, and, and have nobody notice. And so to claim that Hale-Bopp didn't exist, and then to turn around and say, "Oh, those sneaky astronomers, they, they changed the orbit", that's just patently incorrect.

Nancy: Okay, my turn? Um, the Hale-Bopp, the Zetas were accurate, in 1995 when it first was announced, um, they said, "What is currently being pointed to is a nova", and, uh, uh, this was in August I believe of 95, and by the fall the ESO, ah, did a, um, emissions study and found no comet emissions in what was being pointed at. Hale-Bopp supposedly outgassed far beyond any, where any comet can, then it stopped outgassing for like over a year, and then started outgassing as a normal comet, ah, when it was approaching its, um, ah, zip around the sun. Now, uh, the Zetas, in their exact words, and if you go and link, uh, click on this, yeah, within the pole shift section, um, you will find that their exact words state in, uh, I believe it was the summer of, um, 96 that they were lining, uh, uh, uh, dots across the sky up with an orbit of a real comet that had been located by the NEAT program. The NEAT program tracks I guess about a thousand different dark asteroids in the sky and finds comets well before amateurs do, they're just allowed to grab the glory, and, and so that NASA isn't being considered a big bully. But, but, um, oh, they can't see, amateurs can't see it until the outgassing starts to occur. So, ah, but the NEAT program can, and in fact the orbital elements were changed. I have a link of actual factual data, um, some thirty different links off that Hale-Bopp, um, link, that, that is, um, observatory reports, um, JPL, uh, uh, orbit, uh, changes that happened, at one point they had the, um, Comet Hale-Bopp leaping away from Jupiter as it passed, perturbing away from Jupiter, and, uh, and then when it appeared, it was no more dramatic than the comet that appeared the year before. The year before, the comet--it was some Japanese name, I'm gonna mispronounce it--Haya something--was allowed, uh, direct feed pictures from the Hubble, and it was very dramatic, and Hale-Bopp did not get released pictures from the Hubble, a very few of them, it was one of these coverup deals that NASA did--uh, does, where they give it to a private investigator, a PI, and he decides what he wants to release. Now, why, if it was the comet of the century, oh, was there that, uh, kind of, control, I don't, why don't, what, should be pointed at, so--back to you, Phil.

Phil: Well, when you talk about Hubble, um, you gotta understand, I spent ten years working on Hubble in various different, uh, venues on different cameras on Hubble, and I know quite a bit about it, and, uh, as a matter of fact, I'm not bragging, it's just, uh, uh, a fact, I worked on it for a long time. There was never a live feed--I've heard you make this claim before, you say there was, but there was never, ever a live feed on Hubble. That is literally impossible, to feed video or images directly to the ground, it has to be, um, manipulated by computers, the data has to be turned into an image, it's a very complicated process, takes some time. Um, and the, the data are not beamed down instantly, um, there were never live feed pictures of Comet Hyakutake, um, and, uh, and, uh, as a matter of fact, if you actually go on the, uh, Hubble website, where you can look up the images that it took, it actually took hundreds of images, or at least, many many dozens of images of the Comet Hale-Bopp. I, I did this some months ago--I just went in, it's just a website, anybody can do it, and, uh, you can just look and see what it's done, it's taken quite a few. Most of the data that were taken were not images, which are not that interesting. They're spectra, which are not terribly interesting to the public, because it's just a graph, and, you know, people look at a graph and go, "All right, it's a graph". Pictures are neater and so, if you don't take pictures, they don't get released. Um, I'll add that Hale-Bopp was actually discovered by amateurs, um, Alan Hale and I believe it was David Bopp, they were both amateurs, and they discovered it.

[commercial break]

GN: ...Nancy, let me ask you this--I'm gonna ask you both "reverse-type" questions--but if Planet X does not show up, I wanna get your thoughts, your reactions to all this, what are you gonna say, have the Zetas tricked you, they lied to you? What will be your, ah, your, your verbiage to me then?

Nancy: Actually, I spend no time whatsoever thinking about that, George, and the reason is, I am too busy explaining to people, ah, what to do when it does show up. Every evidence that I have is that the Zetas are correct, and, ah, I'm not worrying about my sorry ass and how it's going to be defended, um, that's not my mission. My, I already put my life in jeopardy, um--

GN: Whaddaya, what do you mean by "you put your"--

Nancy: It destroyed my life...

GN: Whaddaya mean, you put your life in jeopardy?

Nancy: Um, by that I mean, ah, everybody knows where I live, everybody knows what I've said, um, I am not instructing people as to what to do but I am providing them with information. But there's gonna be, you'd have to get in line and the line would run around the globe, you know, to beat me up if it doesn't happen, so..

GN: [chuckles]

Nancy: I don't spend my time on that, I am Joan of Arc and Mother Theresa in essence, and, and, uh, I'll worry about that if that happens but I don't think it's going to.

GN: Well, let's hope you don't end up getting burned at the stake, Nancy Lieder, if you think you're Joan of Arc.

Nancy: I guess that's pretty mild but it would be quick, wouldn't it?

GN: Philip--well, not that quick--Philip Plait, if, uh, Planet X does show up, of course, ah, we won't have much time to chat again, but, uh, your thoughts if something strange shows up.

Phil: Well, this is an interesting point because I get this question a lot because I actually go out and I fight a lot of pseudoscience, including, you know, people who think the moon landings were faked, um, regular listeners of this show may remember I was talkin' about that in the past--

GN: Um-hmm.

Phil:--and, a lot of other things, and, um, they always say, "You're closed-minded because you won't believe in this" and it's like "No, it's actually quite the opposite", I'm the one that's open-minded, I just have to see real evidence for it, and I haven't seen it for a lot of this stuff. Um, astronomers are not this, this secretive cabal of, you know, white lab-coated goateed, you know, middle-aged white men hunkering down in the basement someplace cooking up nefarious schemes to keep the public, you know, to keep their minds occupied on, on, you know, pro wrestling and beer, or something like that, that it's always made out to be. It's not like that at all. As a matter of fact, uh, uh, astronomers and scientists in general are very excited about, uh, unusual findings, um, uh, comets, asteroids, stars that blow up, anything, anything that comes as a surprise is always wonderful. I have, I have seen research scientists who find something they did not expect and instead of, you know, stomping their feet and going, "Oh--drat" or somewhat stronger words, it's, it's usually a wry smile and like "Oh--isn't this interesting".

GN: Huh.

Phil: And they have to go and they figure out what it is, and it's--the reason people become scientists, one of the reason I became a scientist, is because it's the puzzle, it's the, it's the wanting to find out, and, and the surprises that come along the way. If, if a giant planet were on its way in, and astronomers knew about it, you'd be hearing about it everywhere. There wouldn't be an astronomer on the planet who wouldn't be standing on the rooftop shouting it as loudly as they could.

GN: Is it possible, Philip, that whatever might be there could be anti-matter, something that's totally reversible from what we would expect?

Phil: Well, anti-matter and matter are similar in many ways, and of course different in many ways, but some of the similarities is that, um, if there were a ball of anti-matter, this opposite matter, floating out in space, it would look for all intents and purposes just like regular matter, it would reflect light, it would, if it were hot it would glow, just like, ah, regular matter would. And so if this thing were anti-matter, um, we'd know. As a matter of fact, if it were anti-matter plowing through the solar system, as regular matter from the sun--protons, and subatomic particles and things--as they hit this thing, it would give off a tremendous amount of light, x-rays and gamma rays, which would be extremely obvious. So, if this thing were anti-matter, it would be even brighter than anybody would claim that any planet normally would be. There's really no way to hide an object the size of a planet. If it were so close, it would be here in a couple of days.

GN: Well, let me ask you this. If--well, lemme ask Nancy first. Nancy, is it possible, what the Zetas might have communicated to you was an asteroid might show up? Something unexpected like that? I could believe something like that.

Nancy: Uh, it's, of course, anything is possible, George, including the fact that you're really an octopus and we don't know it. Um, but--

GN: You never know how many legs and tentacles I have, Nancy.

[Phil laughs]

Nancy: --Exactly. And, and, or, or, so therefore, um, but, no, uh, as, as a matter of fact, what they have predicted since the start of 1995 and the increasing weather irregularities and earthquake uptick, and the like, has been so precise, ah, nobody else was predicting this. Oh, and I, I, have to believe, it's only four times the diameter of Earth, it's out just past Mars orbit approaching us now, seen only during the day, you know, from dawn to dusk, and, uh, I do agree that it's reflecting sunlight and you can see it, it also exudes some heat and light itself, which is why it was picked up on infrared in 1983, when, ah, NASA and JPL went looking for it, oh, and BEST [?] picked up an infrared in early 2001 in the two imaging sessions we had. Regarding whether astronomers would come forward, um, they get leaned on, ah, and we had, ah, ah, well-documented instance in Vancouver, in which a, uh, vice-president of the Canadian, uh, astronomical blah blah blah, oh, admitted to Steve Habbas [?] that, that they're watching us regularly and they know about it, pretty soon, two weeks later NASA or whatever shortly thereafter, NASA's up there giving a lecture, the observatory closes down for two months for repairs, has not been opened since.

GN: All right, but, Nancy, when this--let's assume it does happen, and we have all this, ah, calamity. What then do they say? What do governments say when all this happens?

Nancy: George, how are they going to be addressed when all the phone lines are dead, the electric lines are down, bridges are down, people can't drive up and say, "Why did you lie to me?" The White House, such as, is--

GN: So, you're gonna, you're saying everything's gonna be wiped out--

Nancy: [unintelligible]...with the military defending them, you, you won't be able to approach 'em, you'll get gunned down if you try to, they're not gonna have to defend themselves.

GN: Philip Plait?

Phil: Well, um, again, it's hard to know where to start with the, the number of, of things that I just heard that were wrong.

GN: She stands by her convictions, she's not backing down.

Phil: I understand that, um, I won't either, um, the only thing that would convince me that this thing exists would be to, you know, to actually go out and see it, and again, it has not been observed. Um, Nancy's referring to the IRAS observatory, the infrared astronomical satellite which was up in the early 1980s, um, this has long been claimed to have seen a quote unquote "tenth planet" because of a Washington Post article that came out that said in the headline, you know, "NASA astronomers find tenth planet". It turns out that in the press conference, they said, "Here's a list of things that we may have seen in this imaging". One of them was a possible tenth planet, there was also gas in the galaxy, uh, infrared-emitting galaxies way off on the other side of the universe, and when they went back and, and looked with, at this particular object, with bigger telescopes, they found that it was just some gas in our own galaxy. Um, so this thing is not the tenth planet, despite all these other claims. Now, Ms. Lieder also mentioned observatory shutting down. Now, let's think about this for a second, okay? Um, why would an observatory shut down? To keep the astronomers there from talking, to keep the public from seeing this? There are hundreds of observatories in this country. Um, I live near, uh, the Chabot observatory and science center, there's Morrison planetarium, there are amateur astronomers, there's all sorts of people out there, um, who, who should be able to have seen this thing. Ms. Lieder predicted years ago--YEARS ago--that this thing would be one of the brightest objects in the sky, way back then. Those magnitude predictions have changed over and over again, and, uh, now, ah, in, in, as a matter of fact, um, a couple of weeks ago, when I called in, when Ms. Lieder was on your show--

GN: Right.

Phil: --I called in and you said, "Let's have a debate", um, and I hesitated at first because I was thinking two things. One was I wanted to check my schedule and make sure I was available in May, 'cause I travel a lot, but the other thing was that, um, you know, why, why wait two weeks to have this debate? Um, a planet that's on its way to the Earth would be visible for years, YEARS. We can detect, um, Pluto, which is a dinky little ball of ice, and it's, it's, you know, three billion miles away, and now, you know, Ms. Lieder would have us believe that there's a planet four times the size of the Earth, that's over 30,000 miles across, and it's not even a hundred million miles away, and, and, you know, we can barely see it now. And, and some people are seeing it and some people aren't. It just, it just defies all logic, it doesn't make any sense.

GN: Lemme read something to both of you, get your reactions to this, it was on every major media outlet, ah, some time ago. Um, and I'll read just a paragraph of it. "If scientists detect a killer asteroid, shortly before it slams into Earth, should the public be informed? One researcher, Jeffrey Sumner, of the Rand Corporation, which is a Santa Monica, California-based think tank, believes the best answer, in some cases, is no." So here we have, Philip and Nancy, this individual, a researcher saying his recommendation obviously is, don't say anything. Nancy, what are your thoughts on that?

Nancy: Just one quick statement in rebuttal to Phil. Please read the Zetas' statements on the brightest object in the sky, they didn't say that, read that --

GN: Well, let's come back to that, let's come back to that, let's come back to that before we lose the thought of that question I just asked you...

Nancy: [unintelligible]--Oh, I'm not gonna lose it, but please connect with the, and, and, Phil is also reporting human understanding of how fast things move, not what the Zetas said. So, um, as, in regard to your coverup, yeah, absolutely, I think the, the goodhearted people in the government that are being told, "We can't say anything", and I'll believe there's tremendous arguments in, in smoke-filled rooms, are being told, "We can't cause panic, we're not really sure this is gonna happen, think of the panic and all the dead bodies and little children trammeled, if we announce something that doesn't happen, bank failures, so we gotta hold off." Well, ah, but they're, the real reason for a coverup because they could tell you that something might happen, not that it's going to but that it might, and they'll keep you informed, they're informed, the real reason is, they don't want your messy panic, they are gonna take care of themselves, they're gonna emerge with the stores that they've stocked up, but they don't want, they, uh, the average person, the taxpayer, they don't give a hoot about 'em, the people in charge don't care, and that's why they commandeered the White House as they did. Now over to you.

GN: --Philip, this, this researcher kind of scares me a little bit by his comments.

Phil: Um, don't be scared. You know, I, I, when, when you brought this up, I kind of sat here and wondered if, if Ms. Lieder was gonna run with it and extrapolate this to all astronomers. Sumner's not an astronomer, okay? Here's a guy who works for the Rand Corporation, which is a think tank, and they, they were charged with, you know, coming up with these, these potential scenarios for asteroid impact--

GN: Um-hmm.

Phil: -- and so this one guy stands up and says, "Maybe we shouldn't tell people because, um, if this asteroid hits, it may cause less damage than it would be to tell everybody and have them panic."

GN: Um-hmm.

Phil: And what happened was, and this was a thing of beauty, um, is that astronomers roundly said that this was completely wrong, that the best thing to always do is to get information out. This is what the astronomers actually said, not, not some guy in a think tank. He was, uh, not every--and of course some people did agree with him, but all the people I talked to, and a lot of people who do asteroid impact research, said "no way". As a matter of fact, um, and this, this is another thing that kills me, because of people who think that astronomers are so secretive, um, ever try to shut an astronomer up? Ever try to shut me up? You know, I love talking about this stuff, and, um, if, if, you know, if somebody discovers an asteroid, and I, and I know several people who do, like Jim Scotti, he, and, and, and, you know, Eleanor Helin, and some other people like that, they go out and they, they look for asteroids. When they find 'em, and they get a potential one, they look it up against known asteroids, and if it's a new one, hey, they send in a, an e-mail to a, uh, thing called the Minor Planet Center, which records the characteristics of the orbit, and then other people go and discover it. This is--er, excuse me, they observe it--this is what happened in, uh, with 1997 XF11, which was this asteroid which was thought might hit the Earth, it turns out, we were never really in any danger from it.

GN: You would be surprised, though, if an asteroid was spotted relatively close, but undetected previously?

Phil: Yeah, it turns out that these things are rather tough to find. When they're near the earth, they're moving relatively quickly. They can be coming from near the sun, which makes them difficult to detect. They're also, you gotta remember, asteroids are not that big. Even a big one might be a couple of miles across. And they're made of very dark material, and so, unless they're very close, they're not really bright enough to see right now. On the other hand, a planet, like Jupiter right now, if you were to go out right now and it's clear out, uh, well, maybe not right now, it's almost midnight my time, but, uh, right after sunset you'll see that an object that is tens of thousands of miles across, even when it's hundreds of millions of miles away, is tremendously bright. You know, and asteroids aren't, and so they're hard to detect, sometimes comets don't get very bright, and they're hard to detect. Planets are another story altogether.

GN: Nancy, I would like to, uh, talk to the Zetas for a moment, may I?

Nancy: [unintelligible]

GN: Why did you select Nancy Lieder to convey this message of Planet X?

Nancy: Uh, this is Zetatalk. Because we could rely on her at this point in time. Uh, after years of, of intense pressure, um, ah, trying to gut her, ah, from every angle that affects a human being, um, to, ah, give up, walk away, um, close down her psyche, alter her message, um, make mistakes, uh, we could rely on her not to do that, uh, she, when she refers to herself as Joan of Arc and Mother Theresa, these are terms given to her, ah, by others, but this is how she functions. Um, and, uh, as, as a pure messenger of the truth who will not be intimidated, which is a point we have made all along about Nancy, end of Zetatalk.

GN: Philip Plait, this is a great opportunity for you to talk to an alien. Go ahead and ask a question.

Phil: Um, I'm not really gonna, gonna do that, I think, um, I, I honestly don't think that there are aliens that she's channeling and I'm not terribly interested in, in indulging in this.

GN: Okay.

Phil: I'd rather talk about the facts, and what we can see, what we can measure, what we can observe. And I think that, that's what we need to stick to here.

GN: All right. Well, we're--

Nancy: Hey, George? I have a question for Phil. He got to ask me about Hale-Bopp.

GN: Sure, you may ask a question.

Phil: Sure.

Nancy: Yeah, Phil, how do you explain frozen, ah, mammoths bodies up in Wrangell Island, in the, and the, northern Finland, with green grass and buttercups in their stomachs and teeth and the like, ah, radiodated back to be approximately 34 to 38 hundred last deaths and more like, ah, 12, uh, pardon me, ah, yeah, hundred, and 12 thousand, how did they get green grass up there in Wrangell Island and, and northern Finland, uh, where, where it doesn't grow, and what happened, um, in, in the climate then, you claim on your website we haven't had any evidence of past geological changes.

Phil: Well, I'm not an archeologist or a paleontologist, so I'm not that familiar with this. I have heard about this claim that, um, mammoths were found frozen, flash frozen as if--um, I dunno, was it, was it mammoths or was it, um, mastodons?--

GN: Mastodons. I think it was Siberia.

Nancy: [unintelligible]

Phil: --But, um, but, either, either way, um, from what I have read, this is an Urban Legend that has expanded way out of proportion. I am not an expert in this, I do know that in some of the, uh, the Yahoo chat groups, in, er, the, the, the news servers, these, these sort of bulletin board like, uh, websites, um, there have been people talking about this back and forth, um, and uh, this was said, it was, the way I read it, is that they were not discovered with like, uh, tropical plants found in their bellies and that they weren't flash frozen, they actually just died for some reason. But to be honest, um, that's not my field, and if I'm not in my field, when I'm not comfortable with it, then there's not much I can say about it. Um, there are all sorts of things that, that can be talked about here, um, but if it's not something that I have experience in, then I, I, honestly, I can't answer it.

GN: Nancy--

Phil: It doesn't mean that what, it doesn't mean that she's right or wrong, it just means I can't answer it.

GN: Nancy, I will give you a final opportunity for your own summation here, go ahead.

Nancy: Yes, actually, this is run very much by scientists who are probably aghast at listening to you. This is like NASA or the Hubble, uh, very much a scientific operation, um, and, those, uh, big elephants ate, they eat a lot of hay and a lot of grass, and what they're doing up in the polar circles of, frozen like that, so that they're, they're, uh, preserved, um, what do they do, thunder north hundreds of miles or thousands and drop dead, uh, so that here again, Phil is saying the weather isn't weird, we're not having quake increases and, ah, it's, it's an Urban Legend that, that, uh, they, they, um, ate, uh, green grass or something similar, well, they ate something, Phil, they didn't eat snow, and that's the end.

GN: One--

Nancy: And back to you.

GN: One more time, Nancy, to back down on the date?

Nancy: Oh, no.

GN: You're not. All right, very good. Phil, thirty seconds.

Phil: Um, I wanna say that, uh, I was just told by the folks on one of the IRC rooms that talk dot origins, er, excuse me, talkorigins dot org, has a Frequently Asked Question list about the woolly mammoths and completely debunks all of these claims. Um, I won't go into any more detail about that because there's not enough time. Um, uh, to end this debate I would say that, um, I think that, uh, basically, almost everything that I have read on the Zetatalk site, uh, is wrong, and I find it interesting actually, it's kind of funny, ironic, I'm, I'm amused by the fact that it's been down all day, uh, when Ms. Lieder makes claims about the seismograph, seismographic sites down suspiciously when her own site's been down all day, I just find that ironic, um, I'm sure there's innnocent reasons for both.

GN: Well, we, we probably could have jammed her, too.

[end of debate portion]

Friday, June 06, 2003

Mars was a water world

By Dr David Whitehouse
BBC News Online science editor

Liquid water, not anything else, carved the canyons, valleys and outflow plains of Mars, according to the latest research.

A rival theory, that liquid carbon dioxide or rocks supported by CO2 gas could have made the surface features, does not work, according to Dr Neil Coleman of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission. It could put an end to the "White Mars" hypothesis that favoured CO2 and made the prospect for life on Mars more remote.

Vast lakes of water accumulating under sheets of ice until they overflowed crater and canyon walls is the way many Martian features formed, says Dr Coleman.

White or wet Mars

Neil Coleman has studied some of the most dramatic and significant scenery on Mars - the enormous outflow channels of Chryse Planitia.

Chryse Planitia may once have been an ocean. Today it is a huge plain where many of Mars' largest outflow channels converge. It was also Viking 1's landing site in 1976.

But what caused the outflow channels? Many scientists say obviously running water, but in recent years a few researchers have questioned this saying that liquid carbon dioxide might be responsible.

The "White Mars" hypothesis contends that gaseous or liquid carbon dioxide carried debris down Martian slopes and eroded the features some attribute to fluvial processes.

Advocates of the theory say it solves many problems with the water model such as where the water came from and where it went.

Neill Coleman's work, published in the Journal of Geophysical Research, is, he believes, conclusive evidence that water, not carbon dioxide, is to blame.

Water, water, everywhere

Dr Coleman says his latest study shows that nowhere is the evidence for vast quantities of running water clearer than the outflow channels of Chryse Planitia. Consider the associated Kasei Valles, he suggests, it is a system of intertwined flood-carved channels more than 2,000 km long that begins in near the equator in Echus Chasma and ends in Chryse Planitia.

He says that the White Mars theory is "inconsistent with studies of terrestrial and Martian mass movements" because "put simply rocks can 'float' on air, but not for long".

This means that only water had the stamina to carve large-scale Martian features like Kasei Valles.

Advocate of the White Mars idea, Nick Hoffman of Australia's La Trobe University, says that Coleman's work is interesting but that he does not feel that the White Mars idea is mortally wounded by it.

Oceans under ice

Another factor in favour of the water hypothesis is the discovery of reservoirs of water ice beneath the surface at Martian mid-latitudes and the fact that outflow channels on Mars are related to the planet's volcanic activity in the past.

This latest research indicates that the outflow channels may have been carved by lakes of water trapped under ice that burst through crater walls and flowed downhill in torrents.

Only a liquid like water, says Dr Coleman, could have slowly accumulated under ice cover, and ultimately filled a basin until it overflowed.

Water-carved channels are good for the prospect for life on Mars hanging on at the present having been formed in the Martian oceans of three billion years ago. Neil Coleman: "In reviewing the White Mars hypothesis we find even more evidence of water than expected which bodes well for the search for life on Mars."

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2003/06/03 12:35:59 GMT

UFO research at Grampians

June 2, 2003

UFO sightings around the Grampians National Park will be the subject of a new documentary.

A group of investigators from the Victorian section of the Australian UFO Research Network will compile the footage with the aim of attracting an international TV market.

The members plan to spend as long as six nights during June staking out sites in the Grampians.

Spokesman Jason Groves, of Warrnambool, said that during the past three years there had been many reports of strange lights from in and around the Grampians.

"Last October, a group of us from the Victorian section of the Australian UFO Research Network went on an expedition to the area," he said.

"One of the members had gone up there a few days before and managed to get some footage of the lights.

"Sadly, the one night that we all decided to go up there, the area was covered in fog."

The reports have continued.

"There have been a few more reports and last month I contacted a distribution company in England because we plan to make a doco about the expedition," Mr Groves said.

The 10 members of the Warrnambool and Melbourne units will focus their cameras on the Lake Wartook area.

The group hopes to market the documentary to European television stations and will also seek to publicise their findings on Australian TV.

Network members are seeking help from people who may have seen unusual lights.

"What we need at this point is to find more people who may have seen the lights but have not reported them," Mr Groves said.

Anyone with information can contact Mr Groves at jkg_writer\@yahoo.com.au.


Nostradamus and The BJP

http://www.indiacause.com/IC_FG_Nostra_BJP.htm Friends,

This are extracts of an article I wrote three years ago for my Ferengi's column of the Indian Express. Was it prophetic? It seems so, at a time when the BJP is turning the guns of its armed forces against its own people, the Hindus. One cannot think of a greater betrayal. What power does to people. François Gautier

Michel de Nostre-Dame, better known as Nostradamus (1503-1566), was a famous French astrologer whose predictions - which included the assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, or the premature death of the previous Pope - have proved infallibly accurate.

Last month, unpublished manuscripts of Nostrodamus have been discovered (and authentified) in an old trunk in the French city of Lyon. Curiously, there are two full pages, which deal at length with India, particularly with the Bharatiya Janata Party and the just concluded elections. We are giving here the first words in Latin, the language which he used, along with a rough translation in English .

"Politicus Bharatus Janatus Indicus veni grandus est vingtus unus centurus - Congressus oublium est " The Bharatiya Janata Party will come to dominate India in the beginning of the 21st century, as the Congress, will slowly sink into oblivion.

"Malheureusus, duo annum millenium trahisonus idealum est Congressus ressemblum, fautum adoptus est. Electionirium Blanca Madamus attaquum"... Unfortunately, to achieve power, the BJP may gradually forsake most of its idealism and it will not address the real burning changes which India needs to adopt so as to become again a Great Power". And Nostradamus goes on to enumerate these changes : "Congressus independantum Blancum copium est; necessarus changum indianus cumum facus est" As the Congress had heavily borrowed from the White Man (British ?) at Independence, it will become necessary to

"Indianize" the nation so that it may manifest again its true unique soul.

"Panchayatum villagum empruntus. Sanskritus introdum est. Historicum ecritum manus, daemonus est. Yogum, respirationnus introdum est"

Give back the power to the villages in the form of Panchayat. Reintroduce Sanskrit as the national language. Rewrite Indian History, which had mostly been devised by White Masters. Revive ancient traditional systems such as pranayama, yoga, and incorporate them in the education system and everyday life. Change the Constitution so that democracy may not be perverted as it will be "Malheureusus, secularus montrarus Congressus devenium est, corptionus introdus cancerus est..."

Unhappily again, goes on to say Nostradamus, the BJP in its eagerness to prove itself secular (secularus is originally a Latin word), will tend to become like the Congress : corruption, bureaucracy, the VIP plague, the madness of subsidies and the hunger for power, may eat its inner core as a cancer And this is Nostradamus' scoop - if we may say : "Politicus Bharatus Janatus interminum dividus duum et novus politicus formus" After some time, the Bharatiya Janata Party may split into two. Sincere idealists will form a parallel party which will have as its political platform many of the ideals which the BJP had forsaken. "Indianus pretus reformus est, Grandus nationus manum" India by that time will be ready for the Big Change and the new party will sweep away the polls and implement these reforms.

"Sanskritus savantuus nationalum languus, decentralisum governmentus, aryanus theorum mortuum est, dharmum hinduus devenum. Christianum, Islamus influencum"

Scholars will sit down to modernize and simplify Sanskrit; government will be decentralised; India will strive to form of a federation of SAARC countries; the theory of the Aryan invasion will be proved false and it will be shown that Indian civilisation is at least ten thousand years old and has influenced all great ancient civilisations and religions such as Christianity and even Islam.

And finally :
"Aurobindus Ghosus realisum est, Indianum Agus ancientus mortum non est".. And the prophecy of Sri Aurobindo will be fulfilled : "India of the ages is not dead nor has She spoken Her last creative word. And that which She must seek now to awake, is not an anglicised oriental people, docile pupil of the West and doomed to repeat the cycle of the Occident's success and failure, but still the ancient immemorial Shakti recovering Her deepest self, lifting Her head higher towards the supreme source of light and strength and turning to discover the complete meaning and vaster form of Her Dharma".


Source: we received this in one of the mails from our members. Original source not available

Thursday, June 05, 2003

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

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In the News

Today's Headlines - June 5, 2003

from The Associated Press

BEIJING (AP) -- The SARS outbreak is "over its peak" around the world, including in the hardest-hit country China, a World Health Organization official said Thursday.

A renewed outbreak in Toronto shows, however, that the world must still remain vigilant against the illness, said Henk Bekedam, the WHO representative in China.

"It's fair to say that the SARS epidemic is over its peak. We can see it globally and we can also see it in China," Bekedam told a news conference. "I think that's very good news."

from The Associated Press

HELENA, Mont. (AP) -- Five bulls from a Canadian herd linked to a cow that tested positive for mad cow disease earlier this year were shipped to Montana six years ago and have since been slaughtered, state livestock officials confirmed Wednesday.

However, state and federal officials were quick to note that they do not believe any of the bulls had the disease, noting that other animals linked to the infected cow have so far tested negative.

Karen Cooper, spokeswoman for the Montana Department of Livestock, said none of the bulls showed the clinical signs of mad cow disease at slaughter. What became of the carcasses after that was not clear.

from The Los Angeles Times

A three-year, $5.5-million study of America's ocean waters, conducted by a panel of politicians, scientists and fishermen, calls for the creation of a new federal agency to control overfishing, pollution and urban encroachment.

The study by the Pew Oceans Commission details a developing crisis in U.S. waters caused by excessive harvests that are wiping out fish stocks, by rivers of pollution spawning "killer algae" and ocean "dead zones," and by runaway development that is gobbling up coastal wetlands and estuaries.

"The oceans are in serious trouble and we cannot ignore them much longer," said Leon E. Panetta, the commission's chairman and former White House chief of staff under President Clinton. "We govern either by leadership or crisis. If the leadership is willing to take some risks, we will be able to avoid the building crisis in our oceans."

from Newsday

Washington - As researchers prepare to fire a chunk of foam at a mock-up of a space shuttle wing today, a member of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board said a foam projectile in a similar test last week struck a fiberglass wing replica with as much as seven times more force than analysts had expected.

The impact rippled through the structure, leaving a crucial seal between two wing panels deformed. "I thought, 'Oh my God, this is something. This isn't just a light bounce,'" said board member G. Scott Hubbard, director of NASA's Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif.

Hubbard, speaking at a news briefing in Houston yesterday, said the impact stresses were close to the breaking point of fiberglass but were so brief - less than a thousandth of a second - that it did not break.

from The New York Times

Little, Brown yesterday withdrew a book about the creation of the atomic bomb after four authors complained that more than 30 uncredited passages in it were identical or nearly identical to passages in their works.

Michael Pietsch, the publisher of Little, Brown, said the company had taken the unusual step of recalling the book, "Pandora's Keepers: Nine Men and the Atomic Bomb," from bookstores because "after speaking with the author, we agreed there were errors in the book that justified withdrawing it." Mr. Pietsch said that the author, Brian VanDeMark, an associate professor at the United States Naval Academy, would "make any necessary revisions" and that the book would be reissued later but only in paperback. Little, Brown said the hardcover printing had been about 15,000, which is considered respectable by publishing standards.

Mr. VanDeMark, 42, said yesterday that he had no comment. In a telephone interview on Friday he said that he was confident that "detached readers would find a majority" of the passages in question to be "reasonable paraphrases." But he added then that "a minority should and will be reworded or credited in a footnote."

from The San Francisco Chronicle

Corking a baseball bat really may help a power hitter -- at least until he gets caught.

Engineers at the University of Massachusetts Baseball Research Center in Lowell, Mass., recently put corked bats to the test in one of the most careful laboratory studies ever attempted of bats hiting baseballs.

Scientists led by the center's director, James A. Sherwood, concluded that a corked bat, similar to the one that got Sammy Sosa ejected Tuesday night, produced about a 1 percent increase in the speed of the batted ball.

That translates into about 2 percent more distance, other things being equal, or 8 feet on a 400-foot flyball. It doesn't seem like much, but in some ballparks could make the difference between a home run and a long flyball caught at the warning track.

from The Washington Post

Chesapeake PERL Inc. had an audacious-sounding technology: Create proteins needed for biotechnology research by growing them in the cells of caterpillars, then pureeing the bugs into a sort of caterpillar smoothie from which vital proteins could be refined.

But without its local ties, the College Park company would probably have gotten nowhere. It was founded by two professors at the University of Maryland, got its start with help from the university and had its technology tested at the Army's Aberdeen Proving Ground.

Despite Chesapeake PERL's progress, the region's economic development officials say that repurposing research funded by universities or the federal government for the commercial sector is rare. Even though the Washington area is a national leader in federal and university research spending, few of the fruits of that work make it into the private sector.

from The Washington Post

Erika Van Loon, assistant director of quality control at Shire Laboratories in Rockville, has interviewed many job candidates since her start there in 1993. Van Loon looks beyond relevant science knowledge in candidates; she wants effective communicators.

"You do have to be able to speak intelligently about what you know. If you're well-spoken, and can explain it back to me -- I'll respect that," she says. When Van Loon sees a typo on resume, she knocks an applicant out of the running. Her reasoning: if a candidate can't handle the details of his own job search, he probably can't meet the meticulous standards of the lab team.

"You need very high attention to detail ... I need to know if something is going wrong," she says.

For more senior candidates, the publications list at the end of the curriculum vitae(CV) determines who merits an interview, says Kevin Baker, associate director of pre-clinical discovery at Human Genome Sciences(HGS) in Rockville.

from The New York Times

It was 1 a.m. and sunny when Ben Saunders, a young British adventurer, stumbled giddily into the mess tent at Camp Borneo, a way station for thrill seekers, scientists and extreme tourists 60 miles from the North Pole...

Mr. Saunders, 25, sat down at a table, pulled out his palm-size iPaq digital assistant, his pocket-size Global Positioning System locator, his satellite phone and his digital camera and began updating his Web site, www.northpole2003.com.

Such is the state of exploration these days.

In the last four years, ever lighter electronics and a growing grid of world-girdling satellites, along with a network of programmers, tinkerers and trekkers, have brought real-time connectedness to the world's most remote places. "G.P.S. and satellite phones have kind of revolutionized the whole thing," Mr. Saunders said.

UFO's Found to Be Active over the Caspian Sea

As Baku Today already reported last month, on May 19 at 17:00 the inhabitants of Baku witnessed an unusual flying object in the sky.
02/06/2003 03:12
Baku Today

By Emin Allahverdiyev
It did not look like a plane or other type of vehicle. It appeared right in the center of the city. According to witnesses, the flying object was hanging in the sky for over two hours, it was white and stretched. Never before had alien flying objects appear at such an early time and never before were they observed with by so many people.

This appearance of the UFO had a great impact on the city and rumors began to spread all over. Some of these rumors say that it was not a UFO, but something else - but what exactly, nobody could tell.

The head of the space seismology sector and member-correspondent of International energy-informational academy for the UN, Fuad Gasimov, commented on this recently in a local newspaper. Mr. Gasimov confirmed the fact, that the flying object that appeared in the sky on May 19 was truly an apparatus from another planet. "This fact is not surprising. For a long period of time, all facts about UFO's were being denied," he said. "As usual, they were denied at the authoritative level, by famous scientists, who, by the way, were not scientists in fields relating ufology."

According to Mr. Gasimov, all data concerning UFO's were kept secret by the country, over which they appeared. In spite of that, it's hard to conceal the obvious. By 1969 American scientists had published the "Blue book" in which they maintain that the civilization on earth is not the only civilization. Many facts, proving the existence of alien civilizations were espoused in the book. During Soviet times, there existed a special organization for UFO research under the direction of the famous cosmonaut Popovich. A lot of rumors spread about the activity of that organization. The results of the research, as well as facts about UFOs, were labeled "top secret" - this disappointed the cosmonaut. As the result, Popovich refused to cooperate further with the organization.

"Today it's not a secret that the USA and other countries have special hangars, where they keep downed UFOs. Americans using modern technology, now have unique knowledge and are keeping it secret," Mr. Gasimov says. UFO specialists suggest that Azerbaijan create special hangars and begin research on our own.

"Currently, it is known that there are three alien bases on Azerbaijan territory," Mr. Gasimov continues. It is also known that in 1999 a UFO fell in the Caspian Sea. At that time, Iran, Russia and the U.S. were arguing over who would get the remains of the object for research purposes. In the end, the alien ship was transferred to Russia.

"This happened because Azerbaijan didn't have the resources to hide the ship," he said. Hangars in the U.S. today are housing up to 120 UFOs. Leading the research efforts are the famous scientists, Edward Teller (the creator of the hydrogen bomb for the U.S.) and Bob Laser (engineering specialist). A group of ufologists are working along side them in the secret hangar-cities.

Question is, what do the UFOs look like and from what are they made? Fuad Gasimov responded that the shapes and sizes vary from tiny to 300 km in length. Usually such giant ships are called "mother ships", inside of which you can find a number of smaller multi-functional flying devices. The material is kept secret. It's impossible for an ordinary man to get into the alien bases, because of the powerful gravitational fields surrounding them. A UFO, based of the bottom of the Caspian Sea, is "charging" from its tectonic structure. UFOs have the ability to teleport- to disappear in the moment of need.

"That's why the residents of Baku thought that after hanging in the air for the two hours, the UFO went back into space," Mr. Gasimov said. "In reality, due to their hyper-speed capabilities, teleportation took place." The aliens can attain speeds exceeding that of the speed of light and can cover distances of hundreds of light years in a few days. After Fuad Gasimov reported that bodies of aliens were found in the ship, the obvious next question was - what do they look like?

Gasimov said that a few species were found. For example, some aliens were short, with extended vast eyes, and were dressed in silver-colored suits. Other types of aliens were also discovered. They resemble Anglo-Saxons- tall, with light eyes and hair.

Also Gasimov said that worldwide, up to 1 million people are kidnapped annually. In Azerbaijan alone, the number of people kidnapped is 184. Their names and the places from which they were kidnapped are known. Why are they kidnapping earthlings? Mr. Gasimov thinks that they are researching - it is only known that all of the people kidnapped are younger than 35.


Exorcist leads hunt for 'entrail-eating ghosts'


Traffic in Thailand's Muang district was disrupted for hours as more than 1,000 people led by a veteran exorcist hunted for ghosts. The pee-paub is said to feed on raw human entrails, and residents believe it is responsible for a string of unexplained deaths. Phra Khru Udom Panyakorn was called in to catch and destroy the guilty pee-paub, according to the Bangkok Post.

After a three-hour search, Phra Khru Udom declared that a total of 39 ghosts were caught - and would be eliminated later by cremation. He said nine of them were entrail-eating pee-paubs. The rest were other ghosts and stray spirits.

The ceremony, which involved chanting and chasing ghosts with lengths of hollow bamboo was funded by a village fund of £14 800.

According to Udom Buasri, former lecturer on Buddhism and philosophy at Khon Kaen University, less than 10% of the population truly believe in exorcism. He said: ''I think so many people joined the ceremony because they didn't know the cause of death of those people."

He warned, however, that there are people who play with people's beliefs and try to cash in on a good-faith ceremonies like this one, adding: ''Sometimes it turns out to be a scam."

Wednesday, June 04, 2003

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.shtml which mirrors the daily e-mail update.

In the News

Today's Headlines - June 4, 2003

from The Los Angeles Times

WASHINGTON — A federal appeals court Tuesday directed the government to resume considering the results of tests on human subjects as it determines acceptable exposure levels to toxic pesticides.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency had used flawed procedures when, in December 2001, it imposed a moratorium on using the data from human tests to determine allowable pesticide levels.

At that time, EPA Administrator Christie Whitman declared that the agency would not consider data from human clinical studies while it examined the ethical and scientific acceptability of the tests.

from Newsday

Despite early optimism that anti-inflammatory medicines might slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease, results of a large clinical trial published today found them ineffective.

"The evidence does not support use of these anti-inflammatory medicines" for Alzheimer's, said Dr. Paul Aisen, a professor of neurology at Georgetown University and principal investigator in the study. The National Institute on Aging commissioned the treatment study and a prevention trial studying anti-inflammatories that is still under way.

The latest study of 351 patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer's found that a year on the over-the-counter Aleve (naproxen) or prescription Vioxx (rofecoxib) was no better than a sugar pill at slowing the progressive brain damage.

from Newsday

Uh-oh. The Tooth Fairy may need to be more aggressive - or at least less of a cheapskate. No more nickels and dimes, for example.

That's because new research is showing that those baby teeth may be more valuable than anyone imagined. It turns out that the so-called deciduous teeth - popped under pillows for a reward - contain fresh stem cells.

"Shed teeth may be an unexpected, unique source for stem-cell therapies, including stem-cell transplantation and tissue engineering," said bone research specialist Songtau Shi and six colleagues at the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, in Bethesda, Md., and the Institute of Medical and Veterinary Science, in Adelaide, Australia. Their report appeared in a recent issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

from The New York Times

As scientists and companies race to develop diagnostic tests to quickly determine whether a person has SARS, they face a big challenge: testing whether the tests themselves are accurate.

A number of experimental tests have been developed or are being developed, scientists, government officials and corporate executives said in recent interviews and at a meeting on SARS research at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in Bethesda, Md., on Friday.

But such development "has progressed more slowly than initially hoped" because people produce only small amounts of the SARS virus in the first few days of illness, unlike most other viral diseases, the World Health Organization said Monday.

from The Boston Globe

Edward Teller rubbed suntan lotion on his face and put on a heavy pair of gloves to protect his hands as he waited for the first test of the atomic bomb. Standing in the New Mexico desert on the morning of July 16, 1945, the Hungarian born physicist who would later emerge as the champion of the nuclear arms race, pressed a piece of welder's glass to his face. "A hundred to one it's not needed," he said, "but what do we know?"

The explosion that followed changed the course of science and history, ushering in an era where humans have the power to destroy civilization. Less well known is the way it forever altered the friendships and lives of Teller and the eight other physicists who invented the atomic bomb.

The book, "Pandora's Keepers," by historian Brian VanDeMark, offers a fresh look at the dawn of the nuclear age by examining not just the scientific accomplishments, but the thoughts, feelings and judgements of these nine men who created the first weapon of mass destruction and who framed a debate that continues today over how best to contain and reduce the threat of nuclear war.

The Antievolutionists


This web site is for the critical examination of the antievolution movement. Unlike antievolution advocacy web sites, this site aims to provide links to both the antievolutionists making their own arguments and also to the critics who provide mainstream science answers to those arguments.

The real dangers of Armageddon


by Bret Cantwell

The world was supposed to end on May 15th 2003 when a brown dwarf passed through the solar system causing catastrophic upheaval and killing 90% of life on Earth. Though it did not happen, this so-called "Planet X" may still represent a danger to life and livelihood.

To some skeptics, the belief in "Planet X" has taken on the nature of a cult religion, and one of the belief's main advocates, Nancy Lieder, seems to have a Messiah Complex. An overview of the tenets of what is referred to as "Zetacult" as well as statements and actions by Ms. Lieder shows clear evidence of this occurring.

Zetatalk, a word used for Ms. Lieder's agenda, web site and her persona when she supposedly channels aliens from Zeta Reticuli started in 1995. What has developed since then is far from warmed over Velikovsky, and it is possible that a handful to thousands have embraced her apocalyptic vision. Therein lies the potential for tragedy. Some cults, like Jehovah's Witnesses survive the passing of a set date for doomsday. Some, like Heaven's Gate don't. At the very least there is the possibility of lasting psychological damage to believers realizing they've been duped.

For more Information: Phil "Bad Astronomer" Plait has an excellent page fully debunking all things Planet X.

Bad Astronomy

Kite flying experiment won't work.


Benjamin Franklin fudged facts, author says

June 2 2003

An academic claims the US inventor faked his kite experiment, reports Robert Matthews in London.

It was one of the most famous experiments in science: generations of schoolchildren have been taught how Benjamin Franklin, the 18th-century American inventor and statesman, risked his life flying a kite directly under a thundercloud to prove that lightning was a form of electricity.

Franklin's success brought worldwide fame and membership of the prestigious Royal Society. But a new study of his work suggests that the inventor invented the whole story.

According to the official version of events, in the summer of 1752 Franklin devised a simple way of testing his theory that lightning was caused by an electrical build-up. He constructed a kite fitted with a metal spike and flew it during a thunderstorm.

Textbook accounts say that electricity ran down the kite's cord to a key tied near the end, creating a spark when Franklin brought his knuckle close to it. He is also said to have collected some of the electricity in a specially lined jar and experimented on it.

His work led to the invention of the lightning conductor, which has saved countless lives. He was made a member of the Royal Society in London, the world's most prestigious scientific academy, and received the society's premier award, the Copley Medal, in 1753 "on account of his curious experiments and observations on electricity". According to the study of the historical evidence, however, the experiment that proved the theory took place only in Franklin's imagination.

Tom Tucker, a lecturer and historian at the Isothermal Technical College in North Carolina, first suspected the story while working for the US space agency NASA. He examined the original documents describing the experiment, and found differing accounts by Franklin that were vague about when or where the experiment was performed.

"There was no witness identified in the announcement, no location named - and nowhere does Franklin say he actually performed the experiment," Dr Tucker said. Franklin also dropped from his reports his initial claim that the experiment could be performed by anyone, and claimed that the kite and the twine connecting it to the ground had to be wet to conduct electricity.

In practice, however, this would have led to all the electricity leaking away into the ground. Dr Tucker's suspicions were finally confirmed when he tried to recreate Franklin's experiment using materials available in the mid-18th century. "I followed the design of the kite and tried it several times - and it just wouldn't fly," he said.

According to Dr Tucker, even if it had got off the ground, there was no way the kite could have reached the heights needed to draw electricity from thunderclouds. An experiment using a "highly efficient modern kite" did not work, either.

Dr Tucker sets out his evidence in Bolt of Fate, to be published on June 24. While debunking the experiment, Dr Tucker said Franklin's theory was entirely correct.

- Telegraph

Pole shift


Wednesday 28th May 2003

The pole shift threat may appear to have subsided in the short term, but curiously enough worldwide seismic activity has simultaneously picked up during the past week. The main quakes that hit the media headlines were undoubtedly the tragic Richter 6.4 one in Algeria, and the non lethal Richter 7.0 one in Japan. A flurry of minor quakes in California prompted a USGS spokeswoman to declare it a good time to assess readiness [presumably for a long over due major one on the San Andreas fault]. Those still following the Planet X saga noticed that international USGS seismographs were going haywire as if the entire globe was experiencing a slow earthquake. Earthquakes of course occur around the world every day, the vast majority undetectable without instruments. What is significant is the increased concurrent nature of this activity. Whether or not you believe an inbound Planet X exists and is responsible, it is worth noting that an increase of frequency and magnitude in seismic activity was predicted as one of the precursors to the pole shift. If the Planet X theory espoused by various sources is correct, then this trend ought to further escalate from hereon. A lot of people are continuing to monitor this area despite the failure of the pole shift predicted for the end of this month.

Tuesday, June 03, 2003

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 – June 3, 2003

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from The San Francisco Chronicle

UC Berkeley researchers revealed Sunday a pioneering -- and potentially cheap -- laboratory method of manufacturing an antimalarial drug traditionally extracted from the leaves of a medicinal plant.

The drug is called artemisinin, produced with some difficulty from the dry leaves of a specially grown weed called sweet wormwood, a relative of the herb used to make absinthe and whose medicinal properties have been described for 2,000 years in traditional Chinese medicine.

Although it's too expensive for widespread use, the drug is said to show considerable promise in parts of the world afflicted with forms of the malaria parasite that resist conventional drugs. Artemisinin is also being investigated as a cancer drug.

from The Associated Press

TORONTO (AP) -- Almost 700 cattle in Canada have tested negative for mad cow disease, and results from another 400 animals slaughtered for testing are expected by Wednesday, an investigator said.

If all results come back negative, and no more animals are designated for testing, the investigation of one case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE, could wrap up this week, said Brian Evans, chief veterinary officer of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

Evans said he expected three experts -- from Switzerland, the United States and New Zealand -- to arrive in Canada by week's end to review the investigation of the lone case confirmed May 20 from a farm in Alberta, the heartland of Canada's cattle country.

from The Washington Post

BOSTON -- For nearly two decades, Brayton Point Station, New England's largest fossil-fueled power plant, has been accused of killing the marine life of Mount Hope Bay in southern Massachusetts.

Environmental Protection Agency scientists and others say fish populations have declined by more than 87 percent since 1984, when the plant began increasing the amount of water it withdrew from the bay, and many species have shown no sign of recovery. Representatives of the power plant, an affiliate of PG&E National Energy Group, counter that other factors are at work, such as fishing and global warming.

Most public observers of the ongoing debate can only hazard a guess as to what truly survives in the bay these days. Not Philip Colarusso, a marine biologist with the EPA in New England and the lead biologist on this controversial issue. Because he dives year-round into the region's cold and often murky waters as part of his job, Colarusso is one of the few people who actually have explored what lies beneath the surface of Mount Hope Bay. "It's one of the most barren areas I've ever dived in. Life is definitely not as abundant" as it once was, he said in a recent interview.

from The Washington Post

Let's start with the frightening part: There is considerable scientific evidence suggesting that airliner passenger cabins are places where infectious disease and respiratory illness spread among people more often, and more easily, than in other environments.

The comforting news, if it can be called that, is that the cabin's air circulation system, long targeted by frequent flyers as the source of their ills, is probably not to blame.

On May 22, the World Health Organization (WHO) raised to 27 its estimate of the number of people worldwide who became infected with severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, during an airline flight. Earlier estimates had put that number at 16. Twenty-two of those 27 were infected during one flight, Air China's Flight 112 from Hong Kong to Beijing on March 15, the WHO said. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A5068-2003Jun2.html

from The Boston Globe

Hundreds of planetary scientists will soon be getting a chance to stroll on the surface of Mars, checking out rocks, and searching for signs of water and life on the bitterly cold, desert planet. On June 8, the first of two, identical, new-and-improved Martian rovers will lift off from Cape Canaveral on a seven-month journey to the Red Planet and spend at least three months roaming its surface.

"To some extent the rovers mimic what a geologist does," says mission manager Jim Erickson cq of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). They can wander over a rise, see an interesting rock in the distance and go to it, and have a closer look. Along the way, they will be mapping out the location of things and taking panoramic images of the Martian landscape.

The $800 million Twin Mars Exploration Rovers will be hot on the heels of the European Space Agency's Mars Express Mission which launched yesterday. It's expected to reach Mars in December, about a month before the first rover lands. Beagle II will not be able to move around the surface, but it will still be looking for signs of life, but with different experiments and in a different location. Designers have improved on the Sojourner rover that made headlines six years ago. The new rovers are bigger, better- equipped, and able to take in the Marscape from about 5 feet off the ground. "It'll kind of be at human height," said project scientist Joy Crisp of the JPL. In contrast, Sojourner's camera height was set at about 10 inches, making small boulders appear huge.

from The New York Times

COLD SPRING HARBOR, N.Y., May 31 — A shotgun wedding resolves an urgent problem but rides roughshod over longer-term issues. At the annual meeting on the human genome, which ended here this weekend, scientists made a shotgun decision on how many genes are in the human genome.

Their conclusion — just 21,000 — will surprise people who think a human can be developed, operated and maintained with merely 10 percent more instructions than C. elegans, a microscopic roundworm known to possess 19,000 genes.

How did genome scientists paint themselves into such a corner?

It all began in a bar. Three years ago, as the DNA sequence of the human genome was nearing completion, biologists' estimates of the number of its genes ranged from 28,000 to 140,000. At the bar at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory one evening, Dr. Ewan Birney, had the idea of opening a sweepstakes. He invited researchers to register their best estimates of the number of genes, with the winner — with the guess closest to the final number — to be announced this year. Bets cost $1 in 2000, $5 in 2001 and $20 since last year.

from The New York Times

ARBLE CANYON, Ariz. — Condor No. 250 kerplunked himself onto a low wall in front of the Bright Angel Hotel at the Grand Canyon's South Rim. This 2- year-old bird folded his wings, all nine feet of them, and fixed his flinty eyes on scores of tourists flocking around him. People approached and cameras flashed but the waist-high bird was unafraid.

Suddenly, two men lunged from the crowd, tackled the bird with thickly gloved hands and stuffed him into a dog kennel. Condor 250, an impenitent juvenile delinquent, was in custody again.

The men were members of the California Condor Recovery Team in Arizona and they were there to catch him and cart him off to condor detention — 50 miles away as the bird flies and 134 miles away by road on the edge of the Vermilion Cliffs.

The Condon Report and UFOs


Bulletin of the Atomic Scientist,April 1969, p. 39-42.

Scientific Study of Unidentified Flying Objects, a report by Dr. Edward U. Condon, Director of the University of Colorado Project. Bantam Books, New York, in association with The New York Times.
965 pages, including index. $ 1.95 paper.
Reviewed by J. Allen Hynek

As consultant on UFOs to the U.S. Air Force for more than 20 years, Dr. Hynek has examined thousands of reports of "flying saucers" and investigated many of them personally. At the beginning of his consultative assignment, his mission was to determine which of the sightings were due to astronomical phenomena - meteors, planets, or stars. By the end of 1949, Dr. Hynek had examined about as many UFO cases as the Condon Report staff has. He came to the same conclusion as Dr. Condon - that the UFO phenomenon was hardly worth serious scientific consideration. In the years since then, however, Dr. Hynek has had reason to change his earlier opinion. He does not agree with the Condon Report and in this review essay he tells why. Dr. Hynek is head of the Department of Astronomy and director of the Lindheimer Astronomical Research Center of Northwestern University.

Physical scientists who know Edward U . Condon through his work in molecular physics and quantum mechanics will find the hand of the master strangely missing in Scientific Study of Unidentified Flying Objects. Not only is his talent for organizing and deftly attacking a problem unapparent but, for example, he is not listed as having personally looked into any of the 95 cases to which various members of the rather fluid committee addressed themselves. (Yet his characteristic humor comes through delightfully in his chapter on the recent history of the UFO.)

It is unfortunate that, almost certainly, popular history will henceforth link Dr. Condon's name with UFOs and only the arcane history of physics will accord him his true place and record his brilliant career in contributing to the understanding, with mathematical elegance, of the nature of the physical world. These contributions UFOs cannot take away from him, even though his work with this problem is analagous to that of a Mozart producing an uninspired pot-boiler, unworthy of his talents.

The Scientific Study of Unidentified Flying Objects is a strange sort of scientific paper and does not fulfill the promise of its title. Even the color- cover (over which Condon, however, probably had no control) is misleading. Instead of portraying one of the relatively few photographs that remain unidentified we find an immediately identifiable photo of a lens flare.

The report essentially is a collection of case histories and special reports by members of Dr. Condon's staff and investigators working under contract with the University of Colorado. Scientifically trained readers will find these papers as troublesome and dull to read as they probably were to write.

While devoted in the large part to exposing hoaxes or revealing many UFOs as mis-identifications of common occurrences, the book leaves the same strange, inexplicable residue of unknowns which has plagued the U.S. Air Force investigation for 20 years. In fact, the percentage of "unknowns" in the Condon report appears to be even higher than in the Air Force investigation (Project Blue Book) - which led to the Condon investigation in the first place. Every contributor to the report finds in his particular area of examination (photos, radar-visual sightings, physical evidence, etc. ) something that cannot be dismissed as a mis-identification of known phenomena.

One of the contributors, Dr. William K. Hartmann, an astronomer at the University of Arizona, sums up the overall situation as follows: "The present data are compatible with but do not establish either the hypothesis that (1) the entire UFO phenomenon is a product of mis-identification, poor reporting and fabrication, or that (2) a very small part of the UFO phenomenon involves extraordinary events."

An unidentified flying object (UFO, pronounced OOFO) is here defined as the stimulus for a report made by one or more individuals of something seen in the sky (or an object thought to be capable of flight but seen when landed on the earth) which the observer could not identify as having an ordinary natural origin, and which seemed to him sufficiently puzzling that he undertook to make a report of it to police, to government officials, to the press, or perhaps to a representative of a private organization devoted to the study of such objects.

Defined in this way, there is no question as to the existence of UFOs, because UFO reports exist in fairly large numbers, and the stimulus for each report is, by this definition, an UFO. The problem then becomes that of learning to recognize the various kinds of stimuli that give rise to UFO reports.

The UFO is "the stimulus for a report...." This language refrains from saying wether the reported object was a real, physical, material thing, or a visual impression of an ordinary physical thing distorted by atmospheric conditions or by faulty vision so as to be unrecognizable, or wether it was a purely mental delusion existing in the mind of the observer without an accompanying visual stimulus.

Scientific Study of Unidentifed Flying Objects, p. 9.

There are other, more provocative statements buried deep within the report. They do not support its overall conclusion that UFO studies do not offer a fruitful field in which to look for major scientific discoveries. Examples are such comments as "unidetified after analysis," or "conceivable but unlikely mis-identification wit birds, aircraft, etc."


One puzzling aspect of some UFO reports is an electrical damping effect which, according to witnesses, interrupts the ignition and shuts off the engine and lights of a moving automobile. Only one of these cases was examined in the report. The conclusion was "No satisfactory explanation for such effects, if indeed they occurred, is apparent." This reasoning seems to attempt to resolve the problem by dismissing it. One may ask - was it not the function of the investigation to determine whether these reported events did indeed occur? More than 100 cases of electrical or electromagnetic interaction between UFOs and automobiles have been reported, yet the Condon report states: "During the period of field study only one case of automobile engine malfunction came to our attention. There was some ground for skepticism about the report, in that it was made by a diabetic patient who had been drinking and was returning home from a party at 3:00 A.M."

This case is not one of the group I refer to and under the circumstances should have been excluded from the study.

There are other puzzlers described in the report, such as this comment on a UFO sighting claim: "The residue is a most intriguing report that must certainly be classed as an unknown pending further study, which it certainly deserves. It does appear that this sighting defies explanation by conventional means."


During manned space flights, United States astronauts have reported a number of UFO sightings. One of the Condon group's principal investigators, Franklin Roach, an astronomer, writes: "The three unexplained sightings which have been gleaned from a great mass of reports are a challenge to the analyst."

Over the last 20 years, some of the most baffling cases are those involving radar contacts with as well as visual sightings of the same object. The Condon report does not resolve this long-standing problern. Of one such case, Cordon D. Thayer of the Environmental Science Services Administration, a staff member of Colorado Project, observed: "This must remain as one of the most puzzling radar cases on record and no conclusion is possible at this time. It seems inconceivable that an anomalous propagation (AP) echo would behave in the manner described, even if AP had been likely at the time. In view of meteorological situation it would seem that AP was rather unlikely. Besides, what is the probability that an AP return would appear only once, and at that time appear to execute a perfect ILS (Instrument Landing System) approach?"

Again, a staff report comments: "In conclusion, although conventional or natural explanations certainly cannot be ruled out, the probability of such seems low in this case and the probability that at least one genuine UFO was involved appears to be fairly high."


Admittedly, I Have taken these statements out of context and the great bulk of the report over-balances them. But the cases these statements refer to are glaringly there - an outright challenge to human curiosity, the foundation stone of scientific progress. It is difficult to understand why the National Academy of Sciences has fully indorsed Dr. Condon's opinion that no further work on the UFO phenomenon should be done.

As scientific director of the project created to study the vexing problem of UFOs, Dr. Condon undertook a responsibility which may have been distasteful to him from the start. He did so very likely out of a sense of duty, in the same manner that one might, with a deep breath (but through a handkerchief) undertake to sweep out an ill-kept stable. What an Augean stable it was, Condon undoubtedly did not realize, and I feel he grossly underestimated the scope and nature of the problem he was undertaking.

Now, as any scientist would, Dr. Condon defined his terms at the start, but in his very definition of the UFO he fell into a trap. Dr. Condon states, "An unidentified flying object ... is defined as the stimulus for a report made by one or more individuals of something seen in the sky (or an object thought to be capable of flying but seen when landed on the earth) which the observer could not identify as having an ordinary natural origin."

The unmanagability of this definition is brought out well in Samuel Rosenberg's chapter, "UFO's in History: "...a report of all such sightings of mysterious objects which the observer 'could not identify' would fill the entire space devoted to the project as a whole." And then some! For, in another section of the report, it is pointed out that perhaps a few as 10 per cent of sightings of UFOs are ever reported. And that percentage relates to this country, while the UFO phenomenon is global. In discussing ancient reports, Rosenberg makes the observation that most everything in the sky was a UFO to pre-scientific man: auroras, lunar halos, rainbows, tornados, lightning - even the sun and the moon. And "what wild guesses were made," continues Rosenberg. Just as today, one might add, guesses are made about things which have not been admitted onto the playing field of science.


By adopting so broad a definition of UFO, too much was admitted for the possible study when only limited time and funds were available. let us suppose Condon had adopted this definition instead: A UFO is a report ... the contents of which are puzzling not only to the observer but to others who have the technical training the observer may lack.

Why clutter up a study with reports which a cursory examination by people experienced with the subject could almost certainly have dismissed as Venus, a balloon, or a twinkling star? It may be of interest to sociologists that a large percentage of our population cannot identify a bright planet or a bright meteor, but it is of little value to include such trivial cases when others left untouched are truly puzzling (reported effects on car ignition systems, effects on animals and people, cases which have had a traumatic effect on the witnesses, and in some instance, have changed the tenor of their lives, close encounters with craft and blinding lights). Should not the purpose of a study such as Dr. Condon's have been to determine wether there was anything to truly puzzling reports - not to obvious cases of trivial mis-identifications?

On the basis of many years experience with the UFO phenomenon, I would have deleted nearly two-thirds of the cases included in the report as potentially profitless for the avowed purposes of the project as stated by Dr. Condon himself: "As indicated by its title, the emphasis of this study has been on attempting to learn from UFO reports anything that could be considered as adding to scientific knowledge." Examining reports that stem from obvious (to anyone with experience in these things) mis-identifications of planets, stars, etc., can add little to scientific knowledge. Far greater care should have been taken in screening cases to be studied, for, as Thurston E Manning, Vice President for Academic Affairs of the University of Colorado, writes: "The reader should thus bear in mind that this study represents the first attempt by a group of highly qualified scientists and specialists to examine coldly and dispassionately ..." What? Misidentifications of Venus, the predicted (by mental telepathy) landing of a UFO, obvious radar chaff, an admitted balloon prank by some students (admitted within hours of receipt of the report by the staff), a smoke ring from a simulated A-bomb explosion at a military installation, the nightly setting of the planets Venus and Saturn, an obvious power outage caused by a short circuit accompanied by bright flashes, a two to three second observation of a flash of light which almost certainly was a meteor? Even a preliminary evaluation of these incidents should have indicated that it was a waste of time to investigate them.


Over the years I have used a very simple two-dimensional classification method for screening UFO reports for potential scientific value. It is a simple plot of "strangeness" against "credibility of witnesses." "Strangeness" is a measure of the difficulty of fitting, by scientifically trained persons, the contents of a report to a highly likely physical explanation. Thus, if a bright streak of light is seen to course across the sky in a matter of seconds, there certainly is no reason after even a glance to suggest that the stimulus was anything other than a bright meteor - and one can assign this report a strangeness of 1, or at most, 2.

If, on the other hand, a metallic craft, brilliantly lighted, is reported to have been observed to land, or to have cavorted about the skies in a most "unscientific" manner, this calls for a higher strangeness index. Of course, nothing has been said about believing the contents of the report. But one can, by proper investigation and application of tests, make a meaningful effort to evaluate the witnesses of a UFO "happening" in terms of everyday credibility. Are these "reliable" witnesses; do they pay their debts, are they highly regarded in the community, would they have had any reason to profit from making their report, would it be more likely that they would have suffered by making the report in the first place? Is there anything to indicate that their emotional nature is such as to cause them to react to perceptual stimuli in a manner to make a "UFO mountain" out of an everyday molehill?

A proper study of the UTO phenomenon for the purposes of assaying potential scientific value implies a preliminary stage in which cases of high strangeness, reported by witnesses of respected standing to their communities, are selected for detailed study. Out of 21 radar-visual cases studied by Thayer, only to 3 would I have assigned a, sigma (strangeness) of 4, and none of 5 . I would have assigned to the other 18 a sigma of 1, 2, or 3. Admittedly the assignment of these ratings to cases is a matter of individual judgment, but when several independent assessments are made by qualified persons, there is fair agreement, especially as to the "strangeness" of a case; credibility is obviously open to greater variance.

Both the public and the project staff, apparently, have confused the UFO problem with the ETI (extra-terrestrial intelligence) hypothesis. This may hold the greatest popular interest, but it is not the issue. The issue is: Does a legitimate UFO phenomenon exist?

Let us supposc that a committee of nineteenth century scientists had been asked to investigate the phenomenon of the aurora as a single project. It would not have been responsible to state that the polar phenomenon gave no evidence of the existence of some meta-terrestrial intelligence. The issue would have been whether the aurora could be explained in terms of nineteenth century physics.

It may be that UFO Phenomena are just as inexplicable in terms of twentieth century physics. From this point of view, how does the Condon Report serve science when it suggests that a phenomenon which has been reported by many thousands of people over so long a time is unworthy of further scientific attention?

Investigative experience over the last 20 years has indicated to me that the UFO phenomenon, if it be physically real, is a rara avis. I suggest that of all the cases studied in the report, the following might be truly worthy of study in depth: Cases 2, p. 248; 5, p. 260; 10, p. 277; 46, p. 396; 57, p. 469; 19-B, p. 161; 14 Na, p. 127; 14-Nb, p. 128; unnumbered case, p. 139; 1482-N, p. 143 and unnumbered case, p. 236.

While it was perhaps laudable to ask an untried, and therefore, presumably, unbiased group to take a fresh look at the UFO problem, this procedure was akin to asking a group of culinary novices to take a fresh look at cooking and then open a restaurant. Without seasoned advice, there would be many burned pots, many burned fingers, many dissatisfied customers.

Much of the time of the project personnel, it appears to me, was spent in groping for a methodology. It appears also that graduate students did the yeoman part of the investigations in the relatively few field trips made, a result, undoubtedly, of limited funds.

Finally, in the matter of methodology a philosopher of science would find a serious operational and epistemological flaw: An hypothesis which covers everything covers nothing. Let us state this in the form of a UFO theorem: For any given reported UFO case, if taken by itself and without respect and regard to correlations with other truly puzzling reports in this and other countries, a possible natural, even though far-fetched, explanation can always be adduced. This is so if one operates solely on the hypothesis that all UFO reports, by the very nature of things as we know them, must result from well known and accepted causes.

It follows as a corollary that it would have been impossible for the Condon investigation to have regarded any report as arising from anything other than natural causes, a hoax, or a hallucination. Thus, for instance, we have this astonishing analysis (Case not numbered, p. 140): "This unusual sighting should therefore be assigned to the category of some almost certainly natural phenomenon which is so rare that it apparently has never been reported before or since."

Obviously this statement could be made of any puzzling case. Or, ( p. 164, Case 2): "In summary, this is the most puzzling and unusual case in the radar-visual file. The apparently rational, intelligent behavior of the UFO suggests a mechanical device of unknown origin as the most probable explanation of the sighting. However, in view of the inevitable fallibility of witnesses, more conventional explanations of this report cannot be entirely ruled out." in Case 46 (p. 407) the investigator is hard pressed, but still applies the theorem: "This is one of the few UFO reports in which all factors investigated, geometric, psychological, and physical appear to be consistent with the assertion that an extraordinary flying object, silvery, metallic, disk-shaped, tens of meters in diameter, and evidently artificial, flew within sight of two witnesses. It cannot be said that the evidence positively rules out a fabrication, although there are some physical factors such as the accuracy of certain photometric measures of the original negatives which argue against a fabrication." Final verdict: "fabrication."

Final judgment of the work of the Condon Committee, which was not a study of truly Unidentified Flying Objects, but largely of easily identifiable objects will be handed down by the UFO phenomenon itself. Past experience suggests that it cannot be readily waved away.

There is, however, one area in which the reviewer is in accord with Dr. Condon, and that is in his recommendation that science credit not be given in elementary schools for term papers and projects on UFOs. School children are too lacking in critical faculties to be turned loose in UFO land. Present material available to them is apt to be pulp "literature," itself written sensationally and uncritically, cases undocumented, with no attention whatever to analysis; a mere collection of sensationalized anecdotes.

If the Condon Report helps to clear away the miasma of pseudo-science, wishful thinking, and sensationalism in this area, the stage may yet be prepared for a more effective study of the strange and perplexing phenomenon of UFOs. To this end, care should be taken that the files of the Condon Committee not be destroyed, as reportedly were the data in a 1953 investigation of UFOs by another Air Force contractor whose identiy was classified and whose data led to Report No. 14 of Project Blue Book.

Monday, June 02, 2003

Codified Claptrap

From Scientific American
May 12, 2003


The Bible Code is numerological nonsense masquerading as science

By Michael Shermer

In the epilogue of In Memoriam A.H.H., Alfred, Lord Tennyson captured the essence of the quest for a single unifying principle and purpose in nature: "One God, one law, one element,/And one far-off divine event,/To which the whole creation moves."

The noble dream of finding teleological succor in the march of time has become big business, as demonstrated by works from Hal Lindsey's 1970s blockbuster The Late Great Planet Earth to today's Left Behind series, by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins. (Both are said to have sold in the tens of millions.) And if you can sprinkle your homiletics with scientistic jargon, so much the better. The latest and most egregious example of the (mis)use of science in the (dis)service of religion is Michael Drosnin's Bible Code II, enjoying a lucrative ride on the New York Times best-seller list, as did the 1997 original.

According to proponents of the Bible Code--itself a subset of the genre of biblical numerology and Kabbalistic mysticism popular since the Middle Ages--the Hebrew Pentateuch can be decoded through an equidistant-letter-sequencing software program. The idea is to take every nth letter, where n equals whatever number you wish: 7, 19, 3,027. Print out that string of letters in a block of type, then search left to right, right to left, top to bottom, bottom to top, and diagonally in any direction for any interesting patterns. Seek and ye shall find.

Predictably, in 1997 Drosnin "discovered" such current events as Yitzhak Rabin's assassination, Benjamin Netanyahu's election, Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9's collision with Jupiter, Timothy McVeigh and the Oklahoma City bombing, and, of course, the end of the world in 2000. Because the world did not end and current events dated his first book, Drosnin continued the search and learned--lo and behold--that the Bible predicted the Bill and Monica tryst, the Bush-Gore election debacle and, of course, the World Trade Center cataclysm.

Exorcism planned for school toilet 'ghost'


A village in India is planning to hold a Hindu religious ceremony to drive away a ghost from a school toilet.

Residents of Kapurawala village, near Jaipur, are so scared they have stopped sending their daughters to the government middle school for girls.

It is reported three students suffered epileptic fits after visiting the toilet.

One of the teachers obtained a quick transfer after being "gripped by fear" of a spirit that prowled near the toilet.

Sub-Inspector of Police Hakim Singh told United News of India: ''Nobody has seen the ghost, but the school toilet, suspected to be the devil's den, was brought down by villagers.''

The villagers, who believe the ghost is still haunting the school, say they are determined to hold a yagya (a fire purification ceremony) to exorcise the ''ghost'' and to bring girls back to school.

Story filed: 20:21 Sunday 1st June 2003

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from The Los Angeles Times

CHICAGO -- Genentech Inc. reported Sunday that its experimental drug Avastin prolonged the survival of colon cancer patients by one-third over those on chemotherapy alone, providing the first successful clinical trial results of a new class of drugs designed to starve tumors of blood supply.

Two other studies released at a medical conference here provided more promising news for patients with colon cancers. Researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota reported that a cocktail of existing chemotherapy drugs was as effective in treating colon cancer as the combination used in the Avastin trial, a result that came as a surprise.

A third study showed that the controversial ImClone Systems drug Erbitux, which sparked insider trading investigations involving Martha Stewart and others, succeeded in shrinking tumors in patients with otherwise untreatable colon cancer.

Taken together, the studies mean cancer patients may soon have more effective treatment options. Colon cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death in the United States, after lung cancer.

from The San Francisco Chronicle

For a modest lab scientist with a reputation for shunning the limelight, these are tough times for Dr. Napoleone Ferrara. His work on an experimental Genentech drug is behind a huge surge in the company's share price, and it's the big buzz at a major cancer research convention this week.

Ferrara, 46, now finds himself posing for news photographers at Genentech's South San Francisco campus, and patiently explaining to interviewers how he and his colleagues made discoveries that could validate a whole branch of cancer therapy research that once seemed doomed to failure.

Reluctant as he is to be the center of attention, Ferrara's joy in the moment comes through as he recalls the day in mid-May when Genentech Chief Executive Officer Arthur Levinson reached him on a trip to his native Italy with exciting news. The company's drug candidate had extended survival times for patients with advanced colon cancer.

from The Washington Post

Momentum is building in the United States and abroad for an overhaul in the global management of fisheries and other ocean resources. Marine scientists hope the movement, to be highlighted soon in three major reports calling for reforms, will lead to the first significant revisions in U.S. fisheries policy in nearly 40 years and inspire other nations to follow suit.

The problem is straightforward: Populations of fish and other marine creatures have suffered drastic reductions because of overfishing and environmental degradation. The latest analysis, reported last month by Canadian scientists, found that populations of virtually all the world's major marine fish species had fallen to 10 percent of their natural levels.

Fortunately, marine scientists say, years of research into ocean ecosystems and fisheries management have begun to pay off with practical knowledge about how to reverse current trends. Marine biologists and oceanographers have learned a tremendous amount about the life cycles and habits not only of fish, but also of the smaller marine forms and microscopic plankton upon which fish depend. If those scientific findings were translated into policies, experts say, fishermen could catch far more than they do today while causing less damage to marine ecosystems.

from The Baltimore Sun

Pilots Improve with Experience, Crash Less with Age

Gray hair, it seems, is not a liability in the cockpit. A study by Johns Hopkins University scientists has found that inexperience, not age, is the best measure of a pilot's risk of crashing.

Effects of Development on Climate Warming Noted

Climate warming in the United States over the past century may have had less to do with pollution by "greenhouse gases" than previously thought, according to findings in the journal Nature.

Eating of Bats Blamed in Neurological Disorder

Yet another reason not to eat bats: A new study suggests that as a result of eating the winged mammals, many Guam villagers ended up with a neurological disorder resembling Lou Gehrig's disease and Alzheimer's.

West Nile Virus Suspected in Deaths of Chickadees

The West Nile virus may be responsible for heavy losses among black-capped and Carolina chickadees.


from The New York Times

SAN FRANCISCO, June 1 — For almost two decades the federal government has heavily underwritten elaborate centers to house the world's fastest supercomputers. The policy has been based on the assumption that only government money could ensure that the nation's research scientists had the computing power they needed to pursue projects like simulating the flow of air around a jet airplane wing, mimicking the way proteins are folded inside cells or modeling the global climate.

But now two leading American computer researchers are challenging that policy. They argue that federal money would be better spent directly on the scientific research teams that are the largest users of supercomputers, by shifting the financing to vast data-storage systems instead of building ultrafast computers.

Innovation in data-storage technology is now significantly outpacing progress in computer processing power, they say, heralding a new era where vast pools of digital data are becoming the most crucial element in scientific research.

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