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 on: Today at 09:28:09 am 
Started by Final Dread, the Unquiet Earth, Ghostland, Armageddon - Last post by Final Dread, the Unquiet Earth, Ghostland, Armageddon
The Fortean Fallacy!    

New York eccentric Charles Hoy Fort (1874–1932) really started something. The obsessive hobby which occupied the last 26 years of his life led to four published books— The Book of the Damned, New Lands, Lo!, and Wild Talents— which appeared between 1919 and 1932. These books are perfect examples of the classic pseudoscience activity of research by exegesis. Fort haunted the British Museum in London and the New York Public Library, noting any event reported in old magazines and newspapers— the older the better— which in any way seemed “odd.” Fort enjoyed taking several hundred such odd events and using them to prop up a scenario “theory”— the wilder the better. Fort equally enjoyed contradicting himself; instead of riding the hobbyhorse of a single crazy scenario, like most modern pseudoscientists, Fort offered numerous totally inconsistent ones. For example, in one place he speculates that the earth is relatively stationary in a space that is surrounded by an opaque shell, full of holes (the stars and planets) and with areas which are mushy or jelly-like. Between the shell and the earth are gigantic floating islands of more jello, to which stick tons of rubbish— worms, fish, dead birds, bricks, worked stone, worked iron, liquids of various colors, frogs, statues, blocks of ice, mammoths and dinosaurs, sea monsters, unclassifiable alien creatures, snakes, odd humans like Kaspar Hauser— which has somehow blown there or drifted there from other inhabited regions somewhere off the earth. Once in a while a bundle of such debris drops down to earth, and the inhabitants of some village or community marvel at the blood-red rain, or the salmon, or the frogs, that pour down from the sky! Fort did not take anything he wrote seriously, and his books are intentionally very funny— a really rare thing, given that one of the distinctive features of pseudoscience is its total lack of humor, apart from misplaced sarcasm and unintended humor. On the other hand, Fort, following perhaps unwittingly in the footsteps of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, was quick to point out that in his opinion all the claims, facts, theories and discoveries of science were just as absurd and false as Fort’s own speculations. Fort, who knew nothing whatsoever about science, had not the vaguest idea how scientists investigate, confirm, test, invalidate or validate an idea. He was not so much a pseudoscientist as he was one who seems to believe, like Hegel and his more recent disciple, Paul Feyerabend, that there is no difference between science and pseudoscience; his decades of exegesis were intended to demonstrate mainly that “reality” is probably ultimately unknowable, and that the smug certainties of science are achieved mainly by sweeping aside and ignoring all the “unpleasant facts” that don’t fit in with supposed scientific dogmas.

As a critic of science, Fort is of no interest whatsoever, because he was totally ignorant of what science is and what scientists do. But his impact on pseudoscience was immense. Fort taught the field of pseudoscience that all you need to write a book is a subscription to some newspapers and good sharp scissors (today, a personal copier or scanner) plus a scrapbook to paste it all in (today, a computer to store it all in). Since newspapers and magazines publish vast amounts of “weird” and “strange” reports, one just has to keep clipping until one has enough for a book— of course, one never investigates directly to see whether these reports actually correspond to real events! That would spoil the fun; it would also no longer be pseudoscience.

The two most serious modern Forteans— a Fortean being one who occupies himself clipping or otherwise saving weird reports out of old magazines and newspapers, like Fort himself— are Vincent H. Gaddis (1913 - 1997) and William R. Corliss. Gaddis is the unsung inventor of the Bermuda Triangle hoax. Corliss is the creator of a number of vast tomes full of questionable reports on a wide variety of topics, as part of what he calls his “Sourcebook Project.” Both Gaddis and Corliss completely lack the wit and literary elegance that make Fort’s books such fun to read. Many other writers have followed in the footsteps of Fort and Gaddis particularly, sometimes coming quite close to directly plagiarizing Gaddis' and Fort's works. The 1950s through the 1970s were a particularly ripe time for Fortean compilations on a wide variety of strange topics. Some successful modern Forteans include Charles Berlitz, Jacques Bergier, Ivan T. Sanderson, Morris K. Jessup, Robert Charroux, John Wallace Spencer, D. Scott Rogo, Martin Ebon, Frank Edwards, Harold T. Wilkins, W. Raymond Drake, and the list goes on....

Such book-producing Forteans should not be confused with members of the Fortean Society, a club founded in 1931 by members of the New York novel-writing profession, including Tiffany Thayer, Alexander Wolcott, Booth Tarkington, and Ben Hecht. The Fortean Society was merely an excuse for buddies to get together, hear exceptionally valueless speeches after a good dinner, and then drink one another to the carpet.

Fort's critique of science is based on the misconception of science as a kind of secular priesthood, deciding arbitrarily what is “true” and what is “false” without regard to the evidence. In this aspect, Fort is rightly viewed as a forerunner of most of today's Postmodernist critics of science, who explicitly deny the very existence of scientific fact or of scientific progress, and like Fort view science purely as a “social construct.” Attacks on science, scientists, and often all forms of scholarship, are found in many if not most pseudoscience books. However, many pseudoscientists, from J. B. Rhine, Immanuel Velikovsky and Rupert Sheldrake, on down to the Intelligent Design cultists, do not accept the facts of science for what are essentially religious reasons. Fort's critiques are not based upon perceived conflicts between science and any religious dogmas; in fact, Fort proudly claimed to be completely dogma-free. However, the Fortean approach is always a comfortable fit for science-haters with any personal ideologies that can't exist within established reality. On his website, arch-Fortean William R. Corliss modestly summarizes the well-established facts that the superstitions he has collected supposedly call into question: “The expanding universe; The Big Bang origin of the universe; Neo-Darwinism (specifically, evolution via random mutation and natural selection); That genomes are the complete blueprint for life-forms; Plate tectonics/continental drift; Special and General Relativity.” Strangely, he doesn't mention quantum physics! Many religious conservatives position themselves as Christian Forteans, and this kind of Forteanism has had a terrifically negative impact on science education in “Red State America.” Indeed, the Creationism/Intelligent Design Movement is a very pure example of extreme, Bonehead Forteanism.

We might define Fortean activity in general as the collection of magazine and newspaper or Internet reports of “odd” or “impossible” phenomena, and the grouping of such phenomena by “type,” followed by the claim to have learned something from reviewing the reports of the phenomena. The “something” generally tends to be an absurd science-fictional scenario— that all these missing cats have wandered into the 19th Akasic dimension, that’s why they’re never seen again on this earth! Further, these reports are always taken precisely at face value. There is never the slightest attempt at checking or verification. As most are aware, there have been for a number of years tabloid newspapers and one or two magazines which exist principally to print or reprint “real” or completely made-up Fortean style material. Most of the tabloids that sit near drugstore checkout counters are of this kind— BIGFOOT STOLE MY WIFE! TV STARS CURSED BY INDIAN MEDICINE MAN! GHOST OF J. F. K. HAUNTS U.S. AIR FORCE! “SIMPLE LIFE” STAR’S EXPERIENCE WITH REINCARNATION! and so on; with the difference that essentially the entire content of most such tabloids is literally made up on the spot by the writers sitting at their word processors, which short-cuts the laborious clipping procedure, while insuring (most importantly) that the desired celebrities are mentioned as being involved somehow. A more traditional Fortean publication is the magazine Fate, which began publication in 1948, founded by infamous science fiction magazine editor Raymond A. Palmer. A similar, but more light-hearted publication is The Fortean Times, available monthly since 1973.

A fairly large percentage of all pseudoscience books published in the 20th century have had a basically Fortean format. After Fort’s own books, the most successful were Fortean books on “flying saucers” or UFOs that appeared in the early 1950s. The success of these books led pseudoscientists to create Fortean books on a vast number of other topics, including mysterious disappearances of ships and aircraft at sea. The classic modern Fortean book is a collection of ghost stories, “ESP experiences,” recollections of near-death experiences, reports of Bigfoot or the Yeti or the Loch Ness Monster, reports of reincarnation experiences, reports of “spontaneous human combustion,” reports of “alien-abduction experiences,” reports of “mysterious” crop circles, etc., etc., etc.

The very strong elements of humor and sharp wit in Fort's books have misled some readers into thinking he did not intend to be taken seriously. Fort would have been a very strange individual indeed if he had not realized the extreme ridiculousness of most of the “authentic reports” he uncovered. He has fun with his material. But as a critic of science he expects to be taken seriously. And it is precisely at that level, as a critic of science, that he fails completely and utterly.

The deliberately absurd scenarios in which Fort delighted in his four “nonfiction” works are the concoctions of a man who perhaps would far rather be writing outright science fiction.

For more about Charles Fort, see:
•Charles Fort, the Man who Invented the Supernatural, by Jim Steinmeyer, Tarcher/Penguin, NY, 2008.

•Charles Fort, Prophet of the Unexplained, by Damon Knight, Doubleday, NY, 1970.

•Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science, Martin Gardner, Dover, NY, 1957, Chapter 4.

•“Charles Fort,” by Jim Lippard, in Encylopedia of the Paranormal, ed. by Gordon Stein, Prometheus, NY, 1996, pp. 277–281.

→ Skeptic's Dictionary entry on Charles Fort.

→ A very brief biography of Fort.

• About FATE Magazine.

• Some examples of Fort's influence on fantasy fiction. Another writeup on the same topic.

• A rare writeup on William R. Corliss, the busiest modern Fortean.

• About the only writeup on Vincent H. Gaddis.

• Fortean reports generated wholesale just to advertise a new video game!

Some modern “amazing phenomena” in the spirit of Fort: Crop Circles!  The Bermuda Triangle! (invented by Fort follower Vincent H. Gaddis) Ica Stones!  Crystal Skulls!  Chupacabra!   Hundredth-Monkey Hoax   Vinyl Vision!

Acknowledgments: This material was originally written in 1985 by Rory Coker, Professor of Physics at the University of Texas at Austin.


 on: Yesterday at 06:40:38 pm 
Started by Kristina - Last post by Kristina
Trump has left, but some of his supporters still think he's about to declare martial law -- and they're excited
Alex Koppelman
Donie O'Sullivan

By Alex Koppelman and Donie O'Sullivan, CNN Business

Updated 10:53 AM ET, Wed January 20, 2021

See LG's transparent TV
Internet gets creative with empty iPhone boxes
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 3: The Google logo adorns the outside of their NYC office Google Building 8510 at 85 10th Ave on June 3, 2019 in New York City. Shares of Google parent company Alphabet were down over six percent on Monday, following news reports that the U.S. Department of Justice is preparing to launch an anti-trust investigation aimed at Google. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Google employee on unionizing: Google can't fire us all
Watch 'deepfake' Queen deliver alternative Christmas speech
Watch father leave daughter dozens of surprise Ring messages
Zoom's founder says he 'let down' customers. Here's why
See Walmart's self-driving delivery trucks in action
This robotaxi from Amazon's Zoox has no reverse function
Extremists and conspiracy theorists search for new platforms online
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 22: Facebook's Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg speaks with AEI president Arthur C. Brooks during a public conversation on Facebook's work on 'breakthrough innovations that seek to open up the world' at The American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research on June 22, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Allison Shelley/Getty Images)
Hear Sandberg downplay Facebook's role in the Capitol riots
screengrab US social media
Tech companies ban Trump, but not other problematic leaders
See Samsung's new Galaxy S21 lineup
This illustration picture shows the social media website from Parler displayed on a computer screen in Arlington, Virginia on July 2, 2020. - Amid rising turmoil in social media, recently formed social network Parler is gaining with prominent political conservatives who claim their voices are being silenced by Silicon Valley giants. Parler, founded in Nevada in 2018, bills itself as an alternative to "ideological suppression" at other social networks. (Photo by Olivier Douliery/AFP/Getty Images)
Parler sues Amazon in response to being deplatformed
Twitter permanently suspends Donald Trump from platform
Panasonic's Augmented Reality Heads-up Display
This tech gives drivers directions on the road in front of them
See LG's transparent TV
Internet gets creative with empty iPhone boxes
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 3: The Google logo adorns the outside of their NYC office Google Building 8510 at 85 10th Ave on June 3, 2019 in New York City. Shares of Google parent company Alphabet were down over six percent on Monday, following news reports that the U.S. Department of Justice is preparing to launch an anti-trust investigation aimed at Google. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Google employee on unionizing: Google can't fire us all
Watch 'deepfake' Queen deliver alternative Christmas speech
Watch father leave daughter dozens of surprise Ring messages
Zoom's founder says he 'let down' customers. Here's why
See Walmart's self-driving delivery trucks in action
This robotaxi from Amazon's Zoox has no reverse function
Extremists and conspiracy theorists search for new platforms online
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 22: Facebook's Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg speaks with AEI president Arthur C. Brooks during a public conversation on Facebook's work on 'breakthrough innovations that seek to open up the world' at The American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research on June 22, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Allison Shelley/Getty Images)
Hear Sandberg downplay Facebook's role in the Capitol riots
screengrab US social media
Tech companies ban Trump, but not other problematic leaders
See Samsung's new Galaxy S21 lineup
This illustration picture shows the social media website from Parler displayed on a computer screen in Arlington, Virginia on July 2, 2020. - Amid rising turmoil in social media, recently formed social network Parler is gaining with prominent political conservatives who claim their voices are being silenced by Silicon Valley giants. Parler, founded in Nevada in 2018, bills itself as an alternative to "ideological suppression" at other social networks. (Photo by Olivier Douliery/AFP/Getty Images)
Parler sues Amazon in response to being deplatformed
Twitter permanently suspends Donald Trump from platform
Panasonic's Augmented Reality Heads-up Display
This tech gives drivers directions on the road in front of them
See LG's transparent TV

(CNN Business)Sometime Monday, some of the remaining dead-enders convinced that President Trump will remain in office for at least the next four years got a sign. A Telegram account falsely purporting to be run by Gen. John Hyten, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was telling them that the moment they'd been waiting for, the moment Trump would finally act and use the military to crush his enemies, was coming.
"Nothing can stop this," the account said in a message that had been seen by at least 185,000 people as of Tuesday morning. "They can no longer hide in the shadows," it added half an hour later. Then, 20 minutes later: "Last hours." It continued on like this. Around 10 a.m. ET it posted an ominous picture of soldiers in uniform behind a fence in Washington DC with the caption "Stay in your homes."
By Tuesday afternoon, the account had almost 220,000 followers -- likely helped by the fact that it was being widely and actively discussed and promoted on other platforms including Twitter (TWTR) and Facebook (FB). After CNN asked about the people sharing links to and promoting the Telegram channel on its platform, Twitter said it was "taking action on accounts sharing it" and would prevent the link from being tweeted further. Additionally, Facebook spokesperson Andy Stone told CNN that Facebook had started blocking the link to the Telegram account as of early Wednesday morning.
A spokesperson for Gen. Hyten told CNN Tuesday morning that the account is "an absolute fake" and added the Pentagon was "actively working" to get it taken down. Tuesday afternoon the account was marked as a "scam" with the message, "Warning: Many users reported this account as a scam or a fake account." The account has since shed some followers, and many of the messages have been removed. A Telegram spokesperson told CNN, "Telegram monitors reports and warns users about fraudulent accounts in clear-cut cases like the one you pointed out. " Facebook and Twitter did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The account, which largely reflected old tropes from the QAnon conspiracy theory, was emblematic of a bigger trend. A sizable group of people who believe the lie that the election was stolen from Trump and that someone or something -- the courts, state legislatures, members of Congress, Vice President Mike Pence -- would stop Joe Biden from being inaugurated have not been dissuaded from that belief. Instead, they came to believe that the only thing left is violence, and blood. They are convinced, even now that he's left Washington, that Trump is about to institute martial law -- and they can't wait.
He went down the QAnon rabbit hole for almost two years. Here's how he got out
He went down the QAnon rabbit hole for almost two years. Here's how he got out
The conspiracy theory has at its root the same thing that inspired the riot inside the Capitol on January 6th — the false idea that the election was stolen and American democracy under threat, and someone had to do something. Then, the rioters took it upon themselves. After the riot, similar groups of people had faith that they could hang back and wait because Trump and the military would take action. But given the way conspiracy theories work generally, and the way they have proliferated after the riot, it is easy to imagine these theories spinning out in new ways once it is clear no such action is coming.
Much of the discussion around martial law online ultimately connects to QAnon, which has long had a promise of and a lust for blood. But the people who are excitedly discussing the possibility of a military takeover may not know the origins of their obsession. And the phenomenon does not appear to be confined to a niche corner of the internet.
Over the past two weeks, CNN has seen Trump supporters embracing the idea in large numbers and across multiple social media platforms.
On Facebook, a video in which a man warned people they should stock up on food before martial law was implemented was viewed more than five million times before it was fact-checked and marked as false. The video is no longer on Facebook, though it is not clear who took it down. CNN has reached out to Facebook for comment.
Facebook posts promoting violence still circulated even after insurrection
Facebook posts promoting violence still circulated even after insurrection
On YouTube, a man who had previously been best known for his claims that he has an alien mother and an alien daughter has suddenly become a star. He racked up more than 3.5 million views with a video in which he claimed that Trump had signed the Insurrection Act, a prominent feature of many martial law conspiracy theories. Another video in which he said that as much as 85% of Congress could be arrested has been viewed almost 1.7 million times. After this article was initially published, Ivy Choi, a YouTube spokesperson, told CNN that the company had removed the latter video after being asked about it by CNN, saying it had "violat[ed] our presidential election integrity policy."

On TikTok, thousands if not tens of thousands of people have been seeing and reacting to dozens of videos tied to the conspiracy theories. Those videos range in subject, all tied to the same false idea that Trump is about to institute martial law -- in some, people excitedly film the movement of military vehicles, convinced it's a sign; in others, people repeat warnings about being prepared with food and water; one popular theme is that at any moment Trump will use the Emergency Broadcast System to announce the beginning of his move. There is rarely, if ever any sign of hesitation or concern over the lives that might be lost.
-- CNN's Mallory Simon contributed reporting

 on: January 22, 2021, 06:36:47 am 
Started by Jennie McGrath - Last post by Jennie McGrath
Have We Already Been Visited by Aliens?

An eminent astrophysicist argues that signs of intelligent extraterrestrial life have appeared in our skies. What’s the evidence for his extraordinary claim?

By Elizabeth Kolbert
January 18, 2021
Encountering aliens would be surprising; the fact that we haven’t yet heard from any is perhaps even more so.Illustration by Paul Sahre

On October 19, 2017, a Canadian astronomer named Robert Weryk was reviewing images captured by a telescope known as Pan-STARRS1 when he noticed something strange. The telescope is situated atop Haleakalā, a ten-thousand-foot volcanic peak on the island of Maui, and it scans the sky each night, recording the results with the world’s highest-definition camera. It’s designed to hunt for “near-Earth objects,” which are mostly asteroids whose paths bring them into our planet’s astronomical neighborhood and which travel at an average velocity of some forty thousand miles an hour. The dot of light that caught Weryk’s attention was moving more than four times that speed, at almost two hundred thousand miles per hour.

Weryk alerted colleagues, who began tracking the dot from other observatories. The more they looked, the more puzzling its behavior seemed. The object was small, with an area roughly that of a city block. As it tumbled through space, its brightness varied so much—by a factor of ten—that it had to have a very odd shape. Either it was long and skinny, like a cosmic cigar, or flat and round, like a celestial pizza. Instead of swinging around the sun on an elliptical path, it was zipping away more or less in a straight line. The bright dot, astronomers concluded, was something never before seen. It was an “interstellar object”—a visitor from far beyond the solar system that was just passing through. In the dry nomenclature of the International Astronomical Union, it became known as 1I/2017 U1. More evocatively, it was dubbed ‘Oumuamua (pronounced “oh-mooah-mooah”), from the Hawaiian, meaning, roughly, “scout.”

Even interstellar objects have to obey the law of gravity, but ‘Oumuamua raced along as if propelled by an extra force. Comets get an added kick thanks to the gases they throw off, which form their signature tails. ‘Oumuamua, though, didn’t have a tail. Nor did the telescopes trained on it find evidence of any of the by-products normally associated with outgassing, like water vapor or dust.

“This is definitely an unusual object,” a video produced by NASA observed. “And, unfortunately, no more new observations of ‘Oumuamua are possible because it’s already too dim and far away.”

As astronomers pored over the data, they excluded one theory after another. ‘Oumuamua’s weird motion couldn’t be accounted for by a collision with another object, or by interactions with the solar wind, or by a phenomenon that’s known, after a nineteenth-century Polish engineer, as the Yarkovsky effect. One group of researchers decided that the best explanation was that 1I/2017 U1 was a “miniature comet” whose tail had gone undetected because of its “unusual chemical composition.” Another group argued that ‘Oumuamua was composed mostly of frozen hydrogen. This hypothesis—a variation on the mini-comet idea—had the advantage of explaining the object’s peculiar shape. By the time it reached our solar system, it had mostly melted away, like an ice cube on the sidewalk.

By far the most spectacular account of 1I/2017 U1 came from Avi Loeb, a Harvard astrophysicist. ‘Oumuamua didn’t behave as an interstellar object would be expected to, Loeb argued, because it wasn’t one. It was the handiwork of an alien civilization.

In an equation-dense paper that appeared in The Astrophysical Journal Letters a year after Weryk’s discovery, Loeb and a Harvard postdoc named Shmuel Bialy proposed that ‘Oumuamua’s “non-gravitational acceleration” was most economically explained by assuming that the object was manufactured. It might be the alien equivalent of an abandoned car, “floating in interstellar space” as “debris.” Or it might be “a fully operational probe” that had been dispatched to our solar system to reconnoitre. The second possibility, Loeb and Bialy suggested, was the more likely, since if the object was just a piece of alien junk, drifting through the galaxy, the odds of our having come across it would be absurdly low. “In contemplating the possibility of an artificial origin, we should keep in mind what Sherlock Holmes said: ‘when you have excluded the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth,’ ” Loeb wrote in a blog post for Scientific American.

Not surprisingly, Loeb and Bialy’s theory received a lot of attention. The story raced around the world almost at the speed of ‘Oumuamua. TV crews crowded into Loeb’s office, at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, and showed up at his house. Film companies vied to make a movie of his life. Also not surprisingly, much of the attention was unflattering.

“No, ‘Oumuamua is not an alien spaceship, and the authors of the paper insult honest scientific inquiry to even suggest it,” Paul M. Sutter, an astrophysicist at Ohio State University, wrote.

“Can we talk about how annoying it is that Avi Loeb promotes speculative theories about alien origins of ‘Oumuamua, forcing [the] rest of us to do the scientific gruntwork of walking back these rumors?” Benjamin Weiner, an astronomer at the University of Arizona, tweeted.
Video From The New Yorker
Why Being Friends with a Giant Isn't Easy

Far from being deterred, Loeb doubled down. Together with Thiem Hoang, a researcher at the Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute, he blasted the frozen-hydrogen theory. In another equation-packed paper, the pair argued that it was fantastical to imagine solid hydrogen floating around outer space. And, if a frozen chunk did manage to take shape, there was no way for a block the size of ‘Oumuamua to survive an interstellar journey. “Assuming that H2 objects could somehow form,” Hoang and Loeb wrote, “sublimation by collisional heating” would vaporize them before they had the chance to, in a manner of speaking, take off.

Loeb has now dispensed with the scientific notation and written “Extraterrestrial: The First Sign of Intelligent Life Beyond Earth” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). In it, he recounts the oft-told story of how Galileo was charged with heresy for asserting that Earth circled the sun. At his trial in Rome, in 1633, Galileo recanted and then, legend has it, muttered, sotto voce, “Eppur si muove” (“And yet it moves”). Loeb acknowledges that the quote is probably apocryphal; still, he maintains, it’s relevant. The astronomical establishment may wish to silence him, but it can’t explain why ‘Oumuamua strayed from the expected path. “And yet it deviated,” he observes.

In “Extraterrestrial,” Loeb lays out his reasoning as follows. The only way to make sense of ‘Oumuamua’s strange acceleration, without resorting to some sort of undetectable outgassing, is to assume that the object was propelled by solar radiation—essentially, photons bouncing off its surface. And the only way the object could be propelled by solar radiation is if it were extremely thin—no thicker than a millimetre—with a very low density and a comparatively large surface area. Such an object would function as a sail—one powered by light, rather than by wind. The natural world doesn’t produce sails; people do. Thus, Loeb writes, “ ‘Oumuamua must have been designed, built, and launched by an extraterrestrial intelligence.”

The first planet to be found circling a sunlike star was spotted in 1995 by a pair of Swiss astronomers, Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz. Its host star, 51 Pegasi, was in the constellation Pegasus, and so the planet was formally dubbed 51 Pegasi b. By a different naming convention, it became known as Dimidium.

Dimidium was the ‘Oumuamua of its day—a fantastic discovery that made headlines around the world. (For their work, Mayor and Queloz were eventually awarded a Nobel Prize.) The planet turned out to be very large, with a mass about a hundred and fifty times that of Earth. It was whipping around its star once every four days, which meant that it had to be relatively close to it and was probably very hot, with a surface temperature of as much as eighteen hundred degrees. Astronomers hadn’t thought such a large body could be found so close to its parent star and had to invent a whole new category to contain it; it became known as a “hot Jupiter.”

Mayor and Queloz had detected Dimidium by measuring its gravitational tug on 51 Pegasi. In 2009, NASA launched the Kepler space telescope, which was designed to search for exoplanets using a different method. When a planet passes in front of its star, it reduces the star’s brightness very slightly. (During the last transit of Venus, in 2012, viewers on Earth could watch a small black dot creep across the sun.) Kepler measured variations in the brightness of more than a hundred and fifty thousand stars in the vicinity of the constellations Cygnus and Lyra. By 2015, it had revealed the existence of a thousand exoplanets. By the time it stopped operating, in 2018, it had revealed sixteen hundred more.

NASA’s ultimate goal for the telescope was to work out a figure known as eta-Earth, or η⊕. This is the average number of rocky, roughly Earth-size planets that can be found orbiting an average sunlike star at a distance that might, conceivably, render them habitable. After spending two years analyzing the data from Kepler, researchers recently concluded that η⊕ has a value somewhere between .37 and .6. Since there are at least four billion sunlike stars in the Milky Way, this means that somewhere between 1.5 billion and 2.4 billion planets in our galaxy could, in theory, harbor life. No one knows what fraction of potentially habitable planets are, in fact, inhabited, but, even if the proportion is trivial, we’re still talking about millions—perhaps tens of millions—of planets in the galaxy that might be teeming with living things. At a public event a few years ago, Ellen Stofan, who at the time was NASA’s chief scientist and is now the director of the National Air and Space Museum, said that she believed “definitive evidence” of “life beyond earth” would be found sometime in the next two decades.

“It’s definitely not an ‘if,’ it’s a ‘when,’ ” Jeffrey Newmark, a NASA astrophysicist, said at the same gathering.

What will life on other planets look like, when—not if—it’s found? Arik Kershenbaum, a researcher at the University of Cambridge, takes up this question in “The Zoologist’s Guide to the Galaxy: What Animals on Earth Reveal About Aliens—and Ourselves” (Penguin Press). “It’s a popular belief that alien life is too alien to imagine,” he writes. “I don’t agree.”

Kershenbaum argues that the key to understanding cosmic zoology is natural selection. This, he maintains, is the “inevitable mechanism” by which life develops, and therefore it’s “not just restricted to the planet Earth” or even to carbon-based organisms. However alien biochemistry functions, “natural selection will be behind it.”

From this premise, Kershenbaum says, it follows that life on other planets will have evolved, if not along the same lines as life on this planet, then at least along lines that are generally recognizable. On Earth, for instance, where the atmosphere is mostly made of nitrogen and oxygen, feathers are a useful feature. On a planet where clouds are made of ammonia, feathers probably wouldn’t emerge, “but we should not be surprised to find the same functions (i.e. flight) that we observe here.” Similarly, Kershenbaum writes, alien organisms are apt to evolve some form of land-based locomotion—“Life on alien planets is very likely to have legs”—as well as some form of reproduction analogous to sex and some way of exchanging information: “Aliens in the dark will click like bats and dolphins, and aliens in the clear skies will flash their colours at each other.”

Assuming that there is, in fact, alien life out there, most of it seems likely to be microscopic. “We are not talking about little green men” is how Stofan put it when she said we were soon going to find it. “We are talking about little microbes.” But Kershenbaum, who studies animal communication, jumps straight to complex organisms, which propels him pretty quickly into Loebian territory.

On Earth, many animals possess what we would broadly refer to as “intelligence.” Kershenbaum argues that, given the advantages that this quality confers, natural selection all across the galaxy will favor its emergence, in which case there should be loads of life-forms out there that are as smart as we are, and some that are a whole lot smarter. This, in his view, opens up quite a can of interstellar worms. Are we going to accord aliens “human rights”? Will they accord us whatever rights, if any, they grant their little green (or silver or blue) brethren? Such questions, Kershenbaum acknowledges, are difficult to answer in advance, “without any evidence of what kind of legal system or system of ethics the aliens themselves might have.”

As disconcerting as encountering intelligent aliens would be, the fact that we haven’t yet heard from any is, arguably, even more so. Why this is the case is a question that’s become known as the Fermi paradox.

One day in 1950, while lunching at Los Alamos National Laboratory, the physicist Enrico Fermi turned to some colleagues and asked, “Where are they?” (At least, this is how one version of the story goes; according to another version, he asked, “But where is everybody?”) This was decades before Pan-STARRS1 and the Kepler mission. Still, Fermi reckoned that Earth was a fairly typical planet revolving around a fairly typical star. There ought, he reasoned, to be civilizations out there far older and more advanced than our own, some of which should have already mastered interstellar travel. Yet, strangely enough, no one had shown up.

Much human intelligence has since been devoted to grappling with Fermi’s question. In the nineteen-sixties, an astronomer named Frank Drake came up with the eponymous Drake equation, which offers a way to estimate—or, if you prefer, guesstimate—how many alien cultures exist with which we might hope to communicate. Key terms in the equation include: how many potentially habitable planets are out there, what fraction of life-hosting planets will develop sophisticated technology, and how long technologically sophisticated civilizations endure. As the list of potentially habitable planets has grown, the “Where are they?” mystery has only deepened. At a workshop on the subject held in Paris in 2019, a French researcher named Jean-Pierre Rospars proposed that aliens haven’t reached out to us because they’re keeping Earth under a “galactic quarantine.” They realize, he said, that “it would be culturally disruptive for us to learn about them.”

Loeb proposes that Fermi may be the answer to his own paradox. Humanity has been capable of communicating with other planets, via radio wave, for only the past hundred years or so. Seventy-five years ago, Fermi and his colleagues on the Manhattan Project invented the atomic bomb, and a few years after that Edward Teller, one of Fermi’s companions at the lunch table at Los Alamos, came up with the design for a hydrogen bomb. Thus, not long after humanity became capable of signalling to other planets, it also became capable of wiping itself out. Since the invention of nuclear weapons, we’ve continued to come up with new ways to do ourselves in; these include unchecked climate change and manufactured microbes.

“It is quite conceivable that if we are not careful, our civilization’s next few centuries will be its last,” Loeb warns. Alien civilizations “with the technological prowess to explore the universe” are, he infers, similarly “vulnerable to annihilation by self-inflicted wounds.” Perhaps the reason no one has shown up is that there’s no one left to make the trip. This would mean that ‘Oumuamua was the cosmic equivalent of a potsherd—the product of a culture now dead.

A message an earthling might take from this (admittedly highly speculative) train of thought is: be wary of new technologies. Loeb, for his part, draws the opposite conclusion. He thinks humanity ought to be working to produce precisely the kind of photon-powered vessel that he imagines ‘Oumuamua to be. To this end, he’s an adviser on a project called the Breakthrough Starshot Initiative, whose stated aim is to “demonstrate proof of concept for ultra-fast light-driven nanocrafts.” In the longer term, the group hopes to “lay the foundations” for a launch to Alpha Centauri, the star system closest to Earth, which is about twenty-five trillion miles away. (The initiative has funding from Yuri Milner, a Russian-Israeli billionaire, and counts among its board members Mark Zuckerberg.)

Loeb also looks forward to the day when we’ll be able to “produce synthetic life in our laboratories.” From there, he imagines “Gutenberg DNA printers” that could be “distributed to make copies of the human genome out of raw materials on the surface of other planets.” By seeding the galaxy with our genetic material, we could, he suggests, hedge our bets against annihilation. We could also run a great evolutionary experiment, one that might lead to outcomes far more wondrous than seen so far. “There is no reason to expect that terrestrial life, which emerged under random circumstances on Earth, was optimal,” Loeb writes.

When I was a kid, one of my favorite books was “Chariots of the Gods?,” by Erich von Däniken. The premise of the book, which was spun off into the TV documentary “In Search of Ancient Astronauts,” narrated by Rod Serling, was that Fermi’s question had long ago been answered. “They” had already been here. Von Däniken, a Swiss hotel manager turned author who for some reason in the documentary was described as a German professor, argued that aliens had landed on Earth sometime in the misty past. Traces of their visits were recorded in legends and also in artifacts like the Nazca Lines, in southern Peru. Why had people created these oversized images if not to signal to beings in the air?

I figured that von Däniken would be interested in the first official interstellar object, and so I got in touch with him. Now eighty-five, he lives near Interlaken, not far from a theme park he designed, which was originally called Mystery Park and then later, after a series of financial mishaps, rebranded as Jungfrau Park. The park boasts seven pavilions, one shaped like a pyramid, another like an Aztec temple.

Von Däniken told me that he had, indeed, been following the controversy over ‘Oumuamua. He tended to side with Loeb, who, he thought, was very brave.

“He needs courage and obviously he had courage,” he said. “No scientist wants to be ridiculed, and whenever they deal with U.F.O.s or extraterrestrials, they are ridiculed by the media.” But, he predicted, “the situation will change.”

It’s often said that “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” The phrase was popularized by the astronomer Carl Sagan, who probably did as much as any scientist has done to promote the search for extraterrestrial life. By what’s sometimes referred to as the “Sagan standard,” Loeb’s claim clearly falls short; the best evidence he marshals for his theory that ‘Oumuamua is an alien craft is that the alternative theories are unconvincing. Loeb, though, explicitly rejects the Sagan standard—“It is not obvious to me why extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence,” he observes—and flips its logic on its head: “Extraordinary conservatism keeps us extraordinarily ignorant.” So long as there’s a chance that 1I/2017 U1 is an alien probe, we’d be fools not to pursue the idea. “If we acknowledge that ‘Oumuamua is plausibly of extraterrestrial-technology origin,” he writes, “whole new vistas of exploration for evidence and discovery open before us.”

In publishing his theory, Loeb has certainly risked (and suffered) ridicule. It seems a good deal more likely that “Extraterrestrial” will be ranked with von Däniken’s work than with Galileo’s. Still, as Serling notes toward the end of “In Search of Ancient Astronauts,” it’s thrilling to imagine the possibilities: “Look up into the sky some clear, starlit night and allow yourself the freedom to wonder.” ♦
Published in the print edition of the January 25, 2021, issue, with the headline “Swinging on a Star.”
Elizabeth Kolbert, a staff writer at The New Yorker since 1999, won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for “The Sixth Extinction.” Her new book, “Under a White Sky: The Nature of the Future,” will be published in February.

 on: January 19, 2021, 04:38:37 am 
Started by knakker - Last post by knakker
the strait of gibraltar that was blocked with mud was for the same reason an image of death and resurrection, as the crossing of the river Jordan was. It had nothing to do with a sunken island atlantis. But tell the academic researchers with their expensive equipment.

 on: January 18, 2021, 11:41:56 am 
Started by knakker - Last post by knakker
Sea of Atlas;

Atlas was to my opinion closely related with Quatzalcoatl whose symbol was somehow Venus. Venus is the Morningstar and Eveningstar. As Jesus is. He is the image of death and resurrection,

 on: January 18, 2021, 10:26:27 am 
Started by knakker - Last post by knakker
Paul Feyerabend would agree with me: Atlantis research needs more anarchists or in my case Bible students and less scientists

 on: January 18, 2021, 08:28:11 am 
Started by Elya - Last post by Elya
Intentionally to omit the relationship between MOSES and AKH EN ATON

Second register
The second part of the division forms a second register. Twelve goddesses are located on two slopes, "the Hours which are in the Duat", forming two groups of six (see rs_19603_01 and see rs_199603_02). Between the two groups, an enormous snake "the one who must be removed". Above of the snake, is an inscription : "Twelve to be extinguished are born in front of her, here it is that the hours swallow them." ... es1_02.htm
الكتابة في الوسط تقول
موسي و (12) ( و الاثني عشر ساحراً القوا صاغرين يدعون
نلس صخر عم خر دوات
هذه الترجمة خاصة
R. azz. miligi

 on: January 18, 2021, 08:20:04 am 
Started by dhill757 - Last post by dhill757

 on: January 18, 2021, 08:19:07 am 
Started by dhill757 - Last post by dhill757

Amy was born in April, 2006 and spent much of her life in Oklahoma. She first came into my life with her  sister Addie in July pf 2016 when I adopted the two as part of a boned pair. Well, they may have been brought up together, but I have rarely seen two dogs fight with  each other like Addie and Amy, with the definite exception of Robbie and Athena. Amy was very cute, though, and I adored the heck out of her. She slept beside my bed every night close to the vent and I did my best to give her a good life.  Man, that coat of hers was hard to tend and she sure liked to while away the day sleeping. I would have to call Amy several times for supper and would have to make her another dish because she always came out when she was ready not when the food was. Actually, all of her idiosyncriti3es only ended up endearing me to her. She was a little individual, could take or leave the rest of the group. Like me, she was actually more of a night person. In  fact, many times during the night she would bark, not because of an intruder but because she wanted one of the biscuits I originally bought just for her.

Four and a half years, I had way too short of time with Amy. A few days ago, she began to have breathing episodes like Cleo before her who had died of cancer, specifically, tumors on her lungs. She was drinking water and eating food all until two days ago. Also like Cleo she did little in the way of complaining. I went to sleep Saturday night, by the time I woke up, she had passed away, in her sleep. The other dogs treated her body respectfully, even my  Benji, who can be a holy jerk sometimes. Amy, we had too short of a time together. I hope that the rest of our brood is guiding you into a better world in the afterlife and that all of us are with one another again someday.

 on: January 17, 2021, 09:58:05 am 
Started by knakker - Last post by knakker
I was blocked at the twitter of a well know atlantis researcher. he said I made too many errors in my postings, ... "but he had no time to mention even one example". 

So the academic researchers who were looking for Atlantis for ages and generations had no anwers to my postings and do still not see that Atlantis is a theological issue instead of an archeological one. Maybe a paradigm shift in thinking among atlantis researchers is not enough. There should be another culture and mentality among them, to my opinion.

I am the discoverer of Atlantis and not you out there! I am sorry, but don't blame the messenger.

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