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Feb 16

Physicists may have glimpsed a particle that is a leading candidate for mysterious dark matter but say conclusive evidence remains elusive.

A 9-year search from a unique observatory in an old iron mine 2,000 feet underground has yielded two possible detections of weakly interacting massive particles, or WIMPs. But physicists, who include two University of Florida researchers, say there is about a one in four chance that the detections were merely background noise -- meaning that a worldwide hunt involving at least two dozen different observatories and hundreds of scientists will continue.

It's important to note, that two detection events does not mean that dark matter has been physically observed.  Needless to say, these two detection events will have to be duplicated before anything definitive can be known.  To read the rest of the article, click here.

Feb 15

Worst Case Scenarios?

Posted by: lensman |
Tagged in: Untagged 

Just as an exercise, I'm going to present some worst case scenarios for the prospects of humanity ever getting to other star systems. These are purely technical and pragmatic scenarios, and do not include other possible scenarios like humanity annihilating itself in global warfare, poisoning the planet with their waste products, or triggering catastrophic global climate changes, along with all the other non-human induced planetary extinction level events that have occurred, and will continue to occur, such as mega-solar storms, asteroid impacts, mega-volcanoes, not to mention extra-solar cosmic events like supernovae and gamma ray bursts, etc.. Did I miss anything?  I'm sure I did.  Anyway, here we go:


Scenario #1: Warp drives of any kind are proven to be impossible, according to the best physics known on Earth.


Scenario #2: Traversable wormholes of any kind are proven to be impossible, according to the best physics known on Earth.


Scenario #3: Given even the most advanced and accepted theory, and best possible propulsion technologies known on Earth, such as nuclear fusion, or matter-anti-matter annihilation drives, the vast distances of interstellar space, and the long transit times that sub-luminal velocities result in, prove too hostile for humans to overcome, much less survive.


Depressing, isn't it. But all may not be lost.


None of the above bleak scenarios takes into account the long history of anecdotal evidence that humans have been observing anomalous objects in Earth's skies, as well as interacting with extra-terrestrial, or non-terrestrial beings, for as long as art and language have been around to document such events. So, it may still be possible that highly evolved and technologically advanced extra-terrestrial, or non-terrestrial beings, have figured out how to travel to other star systems. And if these advanced extra-terrestrial, or non-terrestrial beings have figured it out, then it is certainly possible that we terrestrials will eventually figure out how it is done.


And then there's Scenario #4: That all the above accounts by humans are the product of an as yet unidentified form of mass cultural delusion or psychosis. And that we are truly alone in the Universe. I don't know about you, but I can't even allow myself to go there, because it's so utterly depressing.


Here's the good news: None of the above four scenarios have definitively been proven to be the case.  Yet.

Kim Burrafato, a.k.a. Lensman

 

 

Feb 12

How Human Are We?

Posted by: lensman |
Tagged in: Untagged 

WHEN, in 2001, the human genome was sequenced for the first time, we were confronted by several surprises. One was the sheer lack of genes: where we had anticipated perhaps 100,000 there were actually as few as 20,000. A bigger surprise came from analysis of the genetic sequences, which revealed that these genes made up a mere 1.5 per cent of the genome. This is dwarfed by DNA deriving from viruses, which amounts to roughly 9 per cent.

On top of that, huge chunks of the genome are made up of mysterious virus-like entities called retrotransposons, pieces of selfish DNA that appear to serve no function other than to make copies of themselves. These account for no less than 34 per cent of our genome.

All in all, the virus-like components of the human genome amount to almost half of our DNA. This would once have been dismissed as mere "junk DNA", but we now know that some of it plays a critical role in our biology. As to the origins and function of the rest, we simply do not know.

The human genome therefore presents us with a paradox. How does this viral DNA come to be there? What role has it played in our evolution, and what is it doing to our physiology? To answer these questions we need to deconstruct the origins of the human genome - a story more fantastic than anything we previously imagined, with viruses playing a bigger part than you might care to believe.

The above excerpt is from one of the most riveting pieces of science journalism I've read in many a day.  Be sure to read Frank Ryan's excellent article in the 29 January 2010 issue of New Scientist, "I virus: Why you're only half human." This gives new meaning to all those anecdotal stories of humans being abducted by aliens, and their DNA being extracted and used for purposes as yet unknown.  Highly recommended!

 

An item appeared on the web yesterday from the always entertaining, Seattle Exopolitics Examiner, Alfred Lambremont Webre, entitled "Whistleblower Laura Magdalene Eisenhower, Ike's great-grandaughter, outs secret Mars colony project."

Quoting from the article

The alleged purpose of the secret Mars colony was to provide a survival civilization for the Earthling human race in the event of planned (such as HAARP or bio-weapon induced) or natural cataclysm (such as by solar flares) which would depopulate the Earth.  Both Ms. Eisenhower and Ki’ Lia identify Dr. Harold E. (Hal) Puthoff, a former researcher at Stanford Research Institute, as a behind the scenes coordinator of the secret Mars colony project.

But according to Dr. Puthoff, he is NOT "the behind the scenes coordinator of the secret Mars colony project," alleged in the article, as indicated by the following email from Puthoff to Webre:

On Feb 11, 2010, at 11:16 AM, Puthoff@aol.com wrote:

Outed again!  :-)
 
This is what I sent Al Webre:
 
"Alfred,
 
I see that Laura Magdalene Eisenhower claims that I'm the "behind the scenes coordinator of the secret Mars colony project."  I have to tell you that this is complete nonsense.  You can, of course, assume that I'm lying and that I'm just a part of the secret cabal or some such, but I'm telling you the truth when I tell you that this is absolute fantasy.
 
I hate to see your exopolitical movement get marginalized and derailed by such stuff.
 
Sincerely,
Hal Puthoff"

Gotta keep those important facts straight, Alfred. ;-)