Wednesday, February 25, 2009

More deep sea weirdness.

I can't describe this thing. It makes the Yeti seem ordinary.

You'd have to see it for yourself.

Monday, February 23, 2009


Another claim to Atlantis has surfaced (bad pun, I know). This time there's a map. I tried to embed it here but it just messed everything up.

Here's the link and if that doesn't work, try entering the coordinates 31 15'15.53N 24 15'30.53W into Google Earth's search box (copy and paste works). You might have to zoom out a bit until an image appears.

It does look like a city plan on the bottom of the sea. However, if you note the scale bar, each of those 'city blocks' is ten miles wide.

That's some city, ten miles between road junctions.

Whatever it is, it doesn't look like a natural formation. It's too big to be a city plan. It's certainly something odd.

I hope there are plans to look into it, but I'm not going down there. I have enough problems coping with rain.


Edited to add:

Here's a screenshot showing where in the world the feature is found. Off the coast of North Africa, in some seriously deep water:

Here's the biggest magnification Google has:

I hope those images will enlarge if you click on them. That doesn't always work.

The feature is far too big to be a city street layout. It's also in very, very deep water. If a city sunk that far under the waves it should have been fragmented, not lowered down as if by a forklift truck. So I don't believe it's Atlantis.

It's very interesting all the same. Maybe it's a bizarre natural formation of some kind - even so that would be something I'd like to hear about. It might even turn out to be a board game played by giant squid!

But not a city. The scale is wrong.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Weird animals.

No, not Bigfoot or Loch Ness monsters, but real animals.

Part One

Part Two

There are far stranger things out there than Bigfoot.

I especially liked this comment left on Part One:

This is proof that God gets drunk and just starts making shit up.

It's a great image.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Another UK UFO.

Many UFO sightings are explained by reflections within the atmosphere or by celestial bodies such as Venus, or the lights of a helicopter or plane. At night, it can be hard to judge distance so a faraway helicopter carrying a very bright light (which they do) can appear to be a close, silent object.

In daylight, it's not so easy to dismiss the sightings. It's harder still when there's film, even harder when that camera moves around, so it can't be something on the lens. When the film shows others looking at the same object and an amateur cameraman having trouble with focus while zooming, then it becomes very difficult indeed to explain the sighting as 'something ordinary'.

This video shows something in the sky. It's a real something, it's not an artefact of the camera, it's not a plane or a helicopter and if it's a balloon, it's not like any I've seen. It's too long even to be a zeppelin.

It's an object, it's flying and it's unidentified.

Alien, or some Earthly experimental machinery? You decide.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A new home.

I have for some time rented laboratory space in the middle of town, where I set up and test new forms of gadgetry. Motion detectors, temperature probes, things like that. It's a handy place to hide from the world because it has no phone and no Internet, so nobody bothers me unless they know my mobile number. It was, however, small and quite costly.

So I have a new place. Out of town, less distance to travel, cheaper rent and much bigger. It is, unfortunately, a mess. Previous occupants have screwed so many things to the walls it looked as if someone had gone wild with a shotgun in there. There was the remains of a telephone exchange and wiring conduit all over the place. This was stuck on so when I pulled it off, most of the paintwork came with it.

I've been filling holes and repainting and it'll take a few weeks to put it into usable laboratory condition - there's even a carpet in there! That definitely has to go, but I'll do that once the painting is finished because it's a handy splash-catcher at the moment.

It actually looks good once the holes are filled and painted over. Here's the part I've mostly done (I won't show a photo in the other direction!). Tons of storage space, the lab door locks, there are two outer doors and a burglar alarm. I might get a 'biohazard' sticker for the door anyway, I've found them to be particularly effective at keeping the nosy chatterers from other labs away.

Still a lot to do, and all the health and safety and fire-escape posters have to go back up even though I'll never read them. They have to be there by law. I haven't seen a law saying I have to look at them. (no ghosts in these photos so don't spend time looking!)

I can try bigger devices here than I could in the poky little lab I had before. I have an idea for a motion detector based on illuminated threads. The infrared detectors people normally use only sense body heat - and I don't think the dead have all that much body heat. I'm going for movement in actual physical objects instead.

The best thing about this new lab is that when you go outside, you don't see grey buildings, traffic and crowds. You see this:

Well, okay, it'll be more attractive in the spring, I'm sure.

The lab is, as far as I can tell, completely free of any form of ghostly activity. It's not a new building but it's away from any towns or settlements as far back as records go, so there's no reason to suppose there'd be any haunting there. Which is good, because that means the place acts as a control. Any response from any equipment is very unlikely to be a ghost and is therefore most probably an artefact. So I can tune those out.

The only downside is that the Italian restaurant that does particularly good espresso is now a long way away. I'll just have to invest in an espresso machine. I wonder if I can write that off as essential lab equipment?

Monday, February 09, 2009

Cartoon outrage.

A while back, a Danish paper ran cartoons that the Muslims regarded as insulting to their faith. They were outraged about this, while the non-Muslims generally wondered what all the fuss was about. At that time, I recall atheists crowing that it couldn't be an insult because there was no God.

In the UK, atheists recently paid a large amount of money to buy advertising space on buses for their 'there's probably no God' campaign. Christian groups are now buying space for an 'Oh yes there is' campaign. Does all that strike anyone else as something similar to those playground shouting matches?

As a non-believer myself, I have often marvelled at the way atheism seems to be forming a religious basis of its own. Dawkins, the Archbishop of Atheism, is seen as infallible in exactly the same way that catholicism regards the Pope as infallible. Atheists have meetings to discuss things they don't believe exist. They place ads on buses to promote their position. They brook no dissent and allow no discussion of the merest possibility they might be wrong. These are Fundamentalist Atheists and are no different to the fundamentalists in any religion you care to name.

Now, someone has produced a cartoon that mocks Dawkins and how do his congregation react? Like the Muslims offended at the cartoons that mocked them, the Atheists are outraged and incensed. How dare anyone mock the Prophet Dawkins? How dare anyone question the writings in his Holy Books?

Fundamentalist religions regard themselves as the One Truth and their word cannot be questioned.

Science, real science, regards its knowledge as the Most Likely to be True based on Observations Made So Far. Everything is questioned, all the time.

Yet these fundamentalist atheists call themselves scientists. They are not.

Atheism has just become officially a religion. So I'm not going to call myself one. I'm a Romulus, a belief system that has no members and no supporters. No meetings, no singing non-hymns, no conversions and no advertising.

I'm a 'don't care'. I suspect I always will be.

Are you insane? Try the fun quiz.

Nothing irritates me more than self-diagnostic newspaper quizzes. It's all fine and good running a harmless fun one like 'which flavour milk shake are you' or 'which breed of gecko are you' but when it comes to serious issues, when it masquerades as a diagnostic help tool, it can be actually harmful.

Here we have a page listing quizzes to determine whether you are:

Clinically depressed
Clinically stressed
A junkie.

I put 'clinically' in front of two of those because everyone gets depressed or stressed once in a while. It's normal and does not need treatment. When stress or depression get deep-rooted, then there could be a case for treatment. That's when it becomes a clinical issue.

We can ignore the last on the list. If you're taking hard drugs and don't know it, you're too far gone to help.

But just look at this:

Worried your mood swings are out of control? Answer our simple questionnaire,compiled by doctors from the Royal College of Psychiatrists, to find out if you are likely to be suffering from bipolar disorder.

No. Don't. If you are worried, see a psychiatrist. Don't mess about with newspaper quizzes. Would you do a 'Is that lump cancer' quiz and be happy that your score says it isn't? Hell, no, you wouldn't. You'd go along to the doctor. Worse, these quiz games will have doctor's surgeries full of people who have nothing at all wrong with them beyond feeling a bit down today.

And just look at some of the questions for the 'bipolar' quiz.

3. Are you having lots of new and exciting ideas that seem to come very quickly into your mind?

That's a problem? That's my job!

7. Do you talk very quickly and do people find it hard to follow your thoughts while they seem clear to you?

Only when talking to idiots. These questions would have you thinking you're in the manic phase. The depressive phase is just as bad.

2. Are you finding it hard to cope with things that used to be manageable?

That's called 'getting older' and applies to everyone.

4. Are you finding it harder to make decisions?


9. Have you been avoiding other people or friends?

Always have, always will.

10. Do you ever contemplate suicide as a way out of your problems?

Suicide, never. Murder, occasionally.

Answering these questions without a professional there to interpret those answers in context is pointless and will lead to a lot of people thinking they're sick when they're not. On the other hand, someone with this condition might not recognise there's a problem and will hold up that quiz to friends and family and say 'See? nothing wrong with me'. Get a real doctor involved if you're concerned.

The quiz for depression is the same as the second part of the bipolar one. You'd answer 'yes' to most of those questions if you had a cold.

The stress one is on two parts, mind and body. Any of the 'body' symptoms, if they are persistent, should be checked by a doctor anyway. The 'mind' part starts with this question:

1. Do you feel worried almost all of the time?

I live in the UK. Anyone who isn't worried almost all the time just hasn't been paying attention.

A rough day at work will get a positive result from this quiz. That's not necessarily clinical stress. That's someone who needs to go fishing for the day.

Obsessive-compulsive: I check the doors are locked more than once before going to sleep, I check things more than once before going out. That's not OCD. That's forgetfulness and thinking about other things while doing mundane chores. That's why I have to make sure I really did lock the doors. I don't turn lights off, then on and then off again to make sure they're really off. That is OCD.

The alcoholic one has some serious points (if you wake up needing booze, you have a problem) and some silly ones (can you go more than a few days without a drink). I like a whisky last thing at night. So I haven't been more than a couple of days without some form of alcohol for a long time, apart from when I was ill. Then there's the 'can you drink a lot without getting drunk' question. It depends on what drink, how much time, and what you'd consider 'a lot'. I rarely get drunk because it spoils the next day, but I can drink what some would consider 'a lot' over a period of several hours and end up tipsy but stable (not driving quality though).

This line is the killer:

If you answer yes to a few or more of these questions, it is indicator of alcohol misuse.

'A few or more'? There are questions in there almost everyone would answer 'yes' to.

Anyone could self-diagnose themselves to have all these problems or none, depending on what mood they were in and how prone to hypochondria they are. These quizzes aren't 'fun', they cause needless worry for many and can be used by a wily alcoholic, say, to convince others that there's no problem.

I wish they'd stop doing this. The place for diagnosis is in a doctor's surgery, not the pages of a newspaper.

Stick to 'what colour of sea anemone am I' and things like that. Very few are deranged enough to take those seriously.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Perspective and belief.

Everyone's seen sand. Not everyone will have been to a beach (and there is nothing to recommend them unless you enjoy the scent of frying flesh and sand in every orifice) but sand is inescapable. It's everywhere.

Pick up a grain of sand. Just one. Hold it on the palm of your hand and consider it. Try to relate it to all the sand on the beach, or in the building-site pile you found it in, and consider this.

The relationship between that sand grain and the beach is not the same as the relationship between humanity and the universe. Not the same as the relationship between Earth and the universe.

What you hold in your hand relates to the beach as the galaxy we live in relates to the universe.

What's more, we can't see all of it. I can't recall the exact distance, but something like 40 billion light years is as far as we can see. There is no reason to suppose the universe ends at that point. Just as when we look out to sea from the coast and see nothing beyond the horizon, that does not mean other countries aren't really there. It's as far as we can see, and beyond that, there is a lot more. Without a handy atlas, we have no way of knowing how much more.

Look at that grain of sand again. Deep within it, imagine a single atom of silicon shifting in its lattice. It has just moved further, in relation to the whole grain, than the Pioneer probes have travelled in relation to the galaxy.

This is why I cannot bring myself to believe in a God, and why I cannot accept the arrogance of many scientists in denying the same thing. We cannot know.

Because we know nothing. We think our great body of literature encompasses all there is to know but we have travelled nowhere and seen little. Most of science is still based on assumptions. True, many of those assumptions are accepted because they have not been falsified but equally, they have not been definitively proved.

We assume that the physical laws that apply to our corner of the universe apply to all of it. That might be true. We have to assume it because we have no way to test it. We haven't really been anywhere else. What if the light that arrives here conforms with local laws only because it has passed into local space? What if, outside our little region, things are different?

Science presumes an unspeakable arrogance, not with its assumptions, but with its assertion of them as the Only Truth. We cannot know until we get there. We have been nowhere near 'there'.

Likewise, I must levy the same accusation at religion. In all this unimaginable vastness of space, we assume that there is a God who cares only about one small planet around one nondescript star and all the rest is just for show. It's too much. I cannot believe, in the sense of religious belief, that there really is nothing else out there. I cannot believe, in the sense of scientific belief, that we are somehow special. (Those are interchangeable.)

This planet has a finite life. On that we can all agree. It will end. Whether Man or God or Astrophysics brings this about, it will definitely end.

All our pomposity, all our literature, all our art, all that pretentiousness and self-importance will be gone. Not one word will remain. None of those strange shapes that now pass for statues. No shark in formalin. Not one of Darwin's books. Not even the rather excellent one on the formation of leaf-mould by earthworms (he wasn't a one-trick pony, you know). Not one Bible, Q'ran, Bhagavad-Gita. None of it.

To think that the universe will mourn our loss is wrong. To think it will even notice is a supreme arrogance.

The place we live is not the earth. It is the universe, and if we manage to reach another star we will have achieved as great a distance of travel as a virus turning over in its sleep. Don't waste time picking up on that. I know viruses have no concept of sleep.

So, is it likely that our God pays special attention to a particle within one sand grain on the beach and ignores all others? Is it likely that our severely limited reach is all science needs to understand everything?

We don't even know everything about the Earth. We know remarkably little about the human condition. Religion is rigid and dogmatic. So is science. Both pretend otherwise.

Perspective can be depressing but it can also be uplifting. Against the odds, here we are. Thinking and building and inventing. There is a chance that we will find another planet to live on before this one is gone. If it is suitable for life then there is a good chance it already has some. That will be interesting and, I suspect, sufficiently brutal and shameful that I can be pleased I won't be alive to see it.

I wonder what will happen to the ghosts. Will they follow us or will they stay on a ghostly image of this planet orbiting the remains of the sun? That will be for future investigators to study.

In the meantime, it's best to see the petty squabbles of people for what they are. Irrelevant and pointless.

The universe really doesn't care.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Inauguration ghosts

There's a photo here of the inauguration of President Obama. On the face of it, it's an incredible camera that took the shot because you can zoom right in on individual people. The zoom is at the top left and you can move the image by clicking on it and moving the mouse. Sometimes you have to click again to make the mouse let go, and it might take a moment to update now and then. It's a big image.

Look at the bottom of the press tower, the big white thing opposite the President. There's a policeman right next to a doppelganger of himself. Follow along the railings, and you'll see a pair of disembodied legs. Further along is another blurry manifestation.

Unfortunately for those who believe such cameras exist, and for those of us on the lookout for spontaneous paranormal imagery, the real story is more mundane. It's a composite image of many small photos. It's extremely well done, but a few people (the policeman, the legs, the blurry image) moved between shots and spoiled the matching of the edges of the photos. No fancy spy camera here, and no ghosts.

It's still worth a look. If you were in that crowd you might be able to spot yourself.

Monday, February 02, 2009

The evidence of your own eyes.

'I'll believe it when I see it' is a phrase I hear a lot. Well, I've seen photos of orbs and rods and I don't believe they are supernatural so why should I expect anyone else to believe what I tell them? It's only fair.

Although, even showing them pictures won't convince them. They'll just mutter 'Pixellation' or 'Trick of the light' or if they want a scientific-sounding put-down. 'Pareidolia'.

Perception is everything. The reason I never put up a photo and point out what I think might be an image of a ghost is because my perception might differ from someone else's. In cases of real pareidolia, that's what happens. Individual perception picks out an image but nobody else's perception does. If the image is pointed out, almost anyone can see the form you're seeing. Perception, however, is not a reliable tool, especially when looking at a two-dimensional image of a three-dimensional object.

I don't have an original credit for the following pictures, they were sent to me in an Email with no credits so if you know who took them, let me know. No ghost here, this is just a bit of fun with perception.

Overtaking that might be tricky, don't you think?

Concentrate on the road, not on the floating boxes!


None of those are real, naturally. They might exist as paintings on the trailers but if they do, they'll only look right from one angle. Just as you're passing them. They might just be Photoshopped images, but either way, they are effective at fooling the eye. I really hope those trucks exist somewhere. I'd like to see them in real life one day.

Don't be too certain that what you see of the world around you is the One True Image of Reality. If you believe absolutely that what your eyes tell you is always the absolute truth, you're going to be disappointed one day.

In the meantime, you're missing a lot. There's a lot more to the world than the narrow range of the visible spectrum, and our eyes can't tell us about any of it.

There are other senses than sight, and other forms of experience beyond the narrow range of the fixed reality we experience. Our senses can't actually detect all that much, and what they do tell us isn't always correct.

And no, I'm not on drugs and never have been (apart from whisky). I just don't believe in accepting the limits declared by others, because those limits are arbitrary and based on one individual's experience.

We can record sound and vision, we cannot record taste, smell or touch. No real record of any entire experience can therefore exist, so no definition of what constitutes a standard level of experience can be formulated. Maybe there isn't one. Maybe every person's experience of this reality is different.

In which case, there can be no limits.

Keep that mind open.