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5/29/09  #523
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Don't touch that dial!  We control your television. We know what you watch. We have control of your computer - We have your email - We know what you want to read - And that is Conspiracy Journal!  Yes, once again it is time for your favorite email newsletter of the world of conspiracies, UFOs, the paranormal and everything else weird and strange.

This week Conspiracy Journal brings you such vein-throbbing stories as:

- The Coming Superbrain -
Help History Channel’s UFO HUNTERS Land Season Four -
- Files Connected to Memory-Metal Study Are Missing -
- Utah Has Mountains of Mysteries -
AND: 'Allo, Allo,' Sonar Image May Be Nessie

All these exciting stories and MORE in this week's issue of

~ And Now, On With The Show! ~

UFO Abduction From Undersea


Unidentified Submerged Objects USOs -- Have Been Observed Descending Into Bodies Of Water All Over The World. . .There Is Now Evidence That They Have Established Several Deep Sea Installations Around The Globe.

The abduction experience of Filiberto Cardenas is in a class by itself! When the events originally transpired, Cardenas s story was the lead item on the nightly news on every Hispanic TV station imaginable coming at the height of an unparalleled UFO wave, and the beginning of the abduction scenario as we have come to accept it today. To a stunned audience of millions, Cardenas told how he was lifted up onboard a craft in front of multiple witnesses. Investigators later backed up his account upon determining that there were anomalies with the engine block of the car that he was driving at the time and which had stalled for no apparent reason.

But this is the least of what transpired. . .For here in UFO ABDUCTION FROM UNDERSEA, is Filiberto Cardenas full story as told by Dr Virgillio Sanchez-Ocejo and Lt Col. Wendelle Stevens (Ret.), including the complete documented and ILLUSTRATED -- report on the incident which involved: Two Abductions Onto The Alien Spacecraft. Elevated Aboard In A Beam of Light. Physical Examination By Alien Beings. A Trip As Guest Aboard The Other Worldly Vessel. Several Varieties of Flying vehicles Used. A Submarine Base Visited By The Witness. A Tour Of The Alien's Earth Facilities. Conversations With The Alien Beings. High-technology Transceiver Implanted In Witnesses Head. Photos Of Flying Discs From Under Sea, As Well As Maps Of Pertinent Locations.

If you order right now, UFO Abduction From Undersea is available at the special price of only $20.00 + $5 s/h. (All Foreign Orders $13 Shipping)

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In This Incredible Issue:

Feature Articles
Decoding the Bible
Whether resting on an altar, courtroom podium, or bedroom nightstand, the Holy Bible commands respect. Although the longest debate about its teachings concerns evolution versus creationism, today’s controversy is not generating sermons or atheists’ arguments inasmuch as  challenging a standard belief system. The Good Book is getting a  closer look from people who are learning that past tragedies, such as 9/11 and the future    Apocalypse, may actually be encrypted in this 3,200-year-old text.
Sunspots and the Number 11 in the 2012 Prophesy
Our times are bracketed by two specific dates—September 11, 2001 and  
December 21, 2012—the greatest single act of terrorism on the continental United States and the end of the Mayan calendar. If, as some observers suspect, something more than a coincidental relationship exists between these two events, its explanation must lie beyond the powers of ordinary human reason and in the world of numbers.
The Mayan Calendar: Ancient Prophesies for a New World
On December 21, 2012, the world as we know it will cease to exist.  This prediction, made thousands of years ago by Mayan shamans, has  raised many questions: What does the ancient prophecy mean? Will a cataclysmic event destroy the planet and how and why did the Mayans choose the winter solstice in a year so far into the future? Scholars claim the answers to all these questions are found in the Mayan  
The Loch Ness Monster: Hoax or Horror?
Whichever estimate of sightings we accept, be it 600, 3,000, or 10,000, there is no shortage of anecdotal evidence that a strange creature inhabits Loch Ness.

Now available at your favorite bookstore or magazine stand.


The Coming Superbrain

It’s summertime and the Terminator is back. A sci-fi movie thrill ride, “Terminator Salvation” comes complete with a malevolent artificial intelligence dubbed Skynet, a military R.&D. project that gained self-awareness and concluded that humans were an irritant — perhaps a bit like athlete’s foot — to be dispatched forthwith.

The notion that a self-aware computing system would emerge spontaneously from the interconnections of billions of computers and computer networks goes back in science fiction at least as far as Arthur C. Clarke’s “Dial F for Frankenstein.” A prescient short story that appeared in 1961, it foretold an ever-more-interconnected telephone network that spontaneously acts like a newborn baby and leads to global chaos as it takes over financial, transportation and military systems.

Today, artificial intelligence, once the preserve of science fiction writers and eccentric computer prodigies, is back in fashion and getting serious attention from NASA and from Silicon Valley companies like Google as well as a new round of start-ups that are designing everything from next-generation search engines to machines that listen or that are capable of walking around in the world. A.I.’s new respectability is turning the spotlight back on the question of where the technology might be heading and, more ominously, perhaps, whether computer intelligence will surpass our own, and how quickly.

The concept of ultrasmart computers — machines with “greater than human intelligence” — was dubbed “The Singularity” in a 1993 paper by the computer scientist and science fiction writer Vernor Vinge. He argued that the acceleration of technological progress had led to “the edge of change comparable to the rise of human life on Earth.” This thesis has long struck a chord here in Silicon Valley.

Artificial intelligence is already used to automate and replace some human functions with computer-driven machines. These machines can see and hear, respond to questions, learn, draw inferences and solve problems. But for the Singulatarians, A.I. refers to machines that will be both self-aware and superhuman in their intelligence, and capable of designing better computers and robots faster than humans can today. Such a shift, they say, would lead to a vast acceleration in technological improvements of all kinds.

The idea is not just the province of science fiction authors; a generation of computer hackers, engineers and programmers have come to believe deeply in the idea of exponential technological change as explained by Gordon Moore, a co-founder of the chip maker Intel.

In 1965, Dr. Moore first described the repeated doubling of the number transistors on silicon chips with each new technology generation, which led to an acceleration in the power of computing. Since then “Moore’s Law” — which is not a law of physics, but rather a description of the rate of industrial change — has come to personify an industry that lives on Internet time, where the Next Big Thing is always just around the corner.

Several years ago the artificial-intelligence pioneer Raymond Kurzweil took the idea one step further in his 2005 book, “The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology.” He sought to expand Moore’s Law to encompass more than just processing power and to simultaneously predict with great precision the arrival of post-human evolution, which he said would occur in 2045.

In Dr. Kurzweil’s telling, rapidly increasing computing power in concert with cyborg humans would then reach a point when machine intelligence not only surpassed human intelligence but took over the process of technological invention, with unpredictable consequences.

Profiled in the documentary “Transcendent Man,” which had its premier last month at the TriBeCa Film Festival, and with his own Singularity movie due later this year, Dr. Kurzweil has become a one-man marketing machine for the concept of post-humanism. He is the co-founder of Singularity University, a school supported by Google that will open in June with a grand goal — to “assemble, educate and inspire a cadre of leaders who strive to understand and facilitate the development of exponentially advancing technologies and apply, focus and guide these tools to address humanity’s grand challenges.”

Not content with the development of superhuman machines, Dr. Kurzweil envisions “uploading,” or the idea that the contents of our brain and thought processes can somehow be translated into a computing environment, making a form of immortality possible — within his lifetime.

That has led to no shortage of raised eyebrows among hard-nosed technologists in the engineering culture here, some of whom describe the Kurzweilian romance with supermachines as a new form of religion.

The science fiction author Ken MacLeod described the idea of the singularity as “the Rapture of the nerds.” Kevin Kelly, an editor at Wired magazine, notes, “People who predict a very utopian future always predict that it is going to happen before they die.”

However, Mr. Kelly himself has not refrained from speculating on where communications and computing technology is heading. He is at work on his own book, “The Technium,” forecasting the emergence of a global brain — the idea that the planet’s interconnected computers might someday act in a coordinated fashion and perhaps exhibit intelligence. He just isn’t certain about how soon an intelligent global brain will arrive.

Others who have observed the increasing power of computing technology are even less sanguine about the future outcome. The computer designer and venture capitalist William Joy, for example, wrote a pessimistic essay in Wired in 2000 that argued that humans are more likely to destroy themselves with their technology than create a utopia assisted by superintelligent machines.

Mr. Joy, a co-founder of Sun Microsystems, still believes that. “I wasn’t saying we would be supplanted by something,” he said. “I think a catastrophe is more likely.”

Moreover, there is a hot debate here over whether such machines might be the “machines of loving grace,” of the Richard Brautigan poem, or something far darker, of the “Terminator” ilk.

“I see the debate over whether we should build these artificial intellects as becoming the dominant political question of the century,” said Hugo de Garis, an Australian artificial-intelligence researcher, who has written a book, “The Artilect War,” that argues that the debate is likely to end in global war.

Concerned about the same potential outcome, the A.I. researcher Eliezer S. Yudkowsky, an employee of the Singularity Institute, has proposed the idea of “friendly artificial intelligence,” an engineering discipline that would seek to ensure that future machines would remain our servants or equals rather than our masters.

Nevertheless, this generation of humans, at least, is perhaps unlikely to need to rush to the barricades. The artificial-intelligence industry has advanced in fits and starts over the past half-century, since the term “artificial intelligence” was coined by the Stanford University computer scientist John McCarthy in 1956. In 1964, when Mr. McCarthy established the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, the researchers informed their Pentagon backers that the construction of an artificially intelligent machine would take about a decade. Two decades later, in 1984, that original optimism hit a rough patch, leading to the collapse of a crop of A.I. start-up companies in Silicon Valley, a time known as “the A.I. winter.”

Such reversals have led the veteran Silicon Valley technology forecaster Paul Saffo to proclaim: “never mistake a clear view for a short distance.”

Indeed, despite this high-technology heartland’s deeply held consensus about exponential progress, the worst fate of all for the Valley’s digerati would be to be the generation before the generation that lives to see the singularity.

“Kurzweil will probably die, along with the rest of us not too long before the ‘great dawn,’ ” said Gary Bradski, a Silicon Valley roboticist. “Life’s not fair.”

Source: NY Times


Help History Channel’s UFO HUNTERS Land Season Four

During a recent email exchange I had with my friend Nancy Birnes, editor of UFO Magazine, it was brought to my attention that there has been concern among the production staff of History Channel’s UFO Hunters (of which Nancy’s husband, author Bill Birnes, is the star). Nancy tells me, “Pat U. was depressed at how the budgeting — or rather, the lack thereof — for really basic things was hurting the quality of the episodes.”

Now granted, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the program’s future is uncertain, as constraints with the present economy are affecting virtually every industry; including television. However, Nancy tells me that these budgetary and other restrictions have caused some to “jump to the conclusion that there would be no Season 4,” which Nancy now says “is what the production team does believe.”

The good news, at this point, is that the network has made it clear that they have not reached a decision, as of yet. “Doesn’t look good, but not entirely bleak,” according to Nancy. Whatever the circumstances, if change can be made, now is the time to act.

If you enjoy History Channel’s UFO Hunters, and would like to continue following Bill Birnes and the crew as they push the boundaries (at least as far as television networks can allow), I encourage all the readers of this blog to take time to do one of two things:

Write to the network and let them know you would like to see more episodes by going to this site:

…Or you can sign a petition by following this one:

Either way, it can’t hurt, and it just might help! Keeping hope alive, in these depressing financial times, is of great importance, as is the good work that Bill, Nancy, and the folks with UFO Hunters continue to do. I appreciate the concern of any who would be willing to act in defense of the longevity of this fine program.

An added note, in a few weeks, Conspiracy Journal's own Timothy Green Beckley will be featured on UFO Hunters as he talks about his amazing photograph of what could possibly be a Man-In-Black. We will let you know the exact date when it has been set.

Source: The Gralien Report


The Truth About 'UFO Abduction From Undersea'
By Sean Casteel

A Riveting Work By Dr. Virgilio Sanchez-Ocejo and Lt. Col. Wendelle C. Stevens (Ret.)

As Timothy Green Beckley quite rightly states in his introduction to "UFO Abduction From Undersea," UFOs have been sighted in the skies since man first began to keep written records of his own existence. They can in fact be called a commonplace occurrence compared to the less frequent phenomenon of the Undersea UFOs, often called "USOs," which stands for "Unidentified Submerged Object" or "Unidentified Submarine Object." Nevertheless, the USO is a consistent and important part of UFOlogy that is worthy of close scrutiny by researchers and believers everywhere.

In the interest of total disclosure, I wrote the first few chapters of "UFO Abduction From Undersea" myself. My assignment was to provide some historical background on the subject as an introduction to the real core of the book, which is a reprint of the privately published "UFO Contact From Undersea" by Dr. Virgilio Sanchez-Ocejo, the primary researcher and documenter of the abduction experiences of one Filiberto Cardenas of Florida, about whom more later. Dr. Sanchez-Ocejo has done an excellent job of telling Cardenas' story from many different angles and with an admirable thoroughness that is a joy to read.

My introductory material deals with, among other things, several undersea abductions, including the story of Betty Andreasson Luca, one of the better known and documented abduction cases in the modern history of the phenomenon. As author and researcher Raymond Fowler tells the story in "The Andreasson Affair Phase Two," Betty is routinely abducted into an alien spacecraft, but on this particular occasion, she finds herself in a domed UFO hurtling toward a body of water. Under hypnosis, Betty cringes in terror as she recalls feeling that the ship was going to crash into the water.

Fowler says the safest assumption to make is that Betty was still located somewhere on Earth when this was happening, as the presence of so much abundant water on another nearby planet is not very likely. In any case, after safely passing through a "window" of water, Betty enters what she describes as an "icy place" that is brightly lit. As she is being transported in a kind of car through a tunnel strewn with icicles, she sees what she at first takes to be people, human-looking people, encased in glass. Fowler calls this place the "Museum of Time," since the people were clothed in the costumes of different historical periods, complete with appropriate background scenery, like the tableaux once might see in a museum on Earth. The figures didn't appear to be dead or stuffed, and included children and babies and people of all races.

When he played back the recording of this particular regression with Betty, Fowler admits that he was tempted to disbelieve most of the story. Yet he wondered how Betty could spontaneously and emotionally relive such a detailed and intricate experience unless it was true? A cold chill ran through Fowler as he contemplated the implications of the human beings encased in glass, and even to a jaded reader of abduction accounts like myself, this one is pretty darn spooky, I must say.

Let us now return to the primary focus of "UFO Abduction From Undersea," the experiences of the aforementioned Filiberto Cardenas, whose story began in January of 1979. Cardenas was in his workplace, a gift shop in Hialeah, Florida, when he received a phone call from his friend, Fernando Marti, who asked Cardenas to accompany him to buy a pig from one of the local merchants for a feast the next Sunday. After visiting two such vendors, they were unable to find a suitable pig. They were going to visit yet another pig-seller when they turned off onto a little used road and the car's engine mysteriously stopped.

The two men examined the engine and could not find the problem. Then, even more strangely, the engine began to emit violet and red lights in sequence. At the same moment, they heard a strange noise, like a swarm of bees, according to Marti. The lights and noise continued to build in intensity and the car began to shake. Believing it was an earthquake, Marti's wife began to scream. When Cardenas tried to move to her to offer comfort, he discovered he was paralyzed beneath the hood of the car where he had been examining the engine.

Then the same force that had paralyzed him lifted him into the air. As he hung there suspended in midair, he shouted "Don't take me! Don't take me!" The noise and light were somehow switched off, and Marti observed a UFO ascending into the sky and disappearing. Marti shouted to his wife and child, "They have taken Filiberto!" After several attempts, he was able to start the car again. He considered whether he should inform the police of what happened, fearing that he might be accused of having harmed Cardenas himself. He decided to tell the police anyway, and also told Cardenas' wife, "A light took Filiberto away."

Meanwhile, Cardenas awoke onboard the UFO. He was shown on television screens scenes of the past, present, and future of mankind, similar in theme to the Museum of Time that Betty Andreasson Luca witnessed. Cardenas was next transported to a smaller ship, which plunged into the sea at an incredible velocity. Also, like Luca, he entered a tunnel with walls that seemed brightly illuminated, but he does not describe the icicles and humans encased in glass. Cardenas was instead welcomed here by a human-looking figure who said he was from Earth and had long worked with the UFO entities. He told Cardenas that he should feel fortunate to be receiving instructions from "beings like us." Cardenas was also privileged to visit an undersea alien city, after which he was returned to a pasture near where he had originally been abducted.

The story, as exhaustively documented by Dr. Sanchez-Ocejo, contains many exciting elements. The abductions themselves onto an alien spacecraft, being elevated aboard in a beam of light, physical examination by alien beings, a trip as a guest aboard the otherworldly vessel, the varieties of flying vehicles used in Cardenas' experiences and his visit to an alien submarine base, a tour of the aliens' Earth facilities, actual conversations with the aliens, the implanting of a high-tech receiver in Cardenas' head, photos of flying discs from undersea and maps of pertinent locations.

The Cardenas abduction received media attention on Hispanic stations worldwide, especially in the Miami area near where the initial events transpired. Several clips have been posted on the Internet in Spanish for those who want to seek them out. There is independent witness confirmation as well as the hypnosis regression sessions and the testimony of friends to add weight to the body of evidence that this case is legitimate.

I believe that Cardenas contacted essentially benevolent aliens in his undersea adventure. He seems to have experienced everything that is good about the abduction phenomenon-most notably the kindly, welcoming aliens and "television" images that imply a deep and abiding interest in the future of mankind.

Cardenas' abductors gave him some interesting prophecies in 1979, many of which have come true, such as the election of President Ronald Reagan in 1980, the assassination of Anwar Sadat in 1981 and the demonstration by Chinese students in Tiananmen Square in 1989.

All of these prophecies are included in this expanded edition of "UFO Abduction From Undersea," as well as transcripts of Cardenas' historic hypnotic regression sessions and an excellent, extremely informative introduction by Wendelle Stevens.

If you're interested in reading about the alien encounter experience as seen from below the briny depths, look no further than this wonderfully complete overview of the USO phenomenon.

Source: UFO Digest


Files Connected to Memory-Metal Study Are Missing

With a boost from Sarasota resident Tony Bragalia, the enduring Roswell UFO controversy is about to swing the spotlight onto one of the most successful research and development entities in America — Battelle Memorial Institute in Columbus, OH.

At issue are some missing reports from Battelle’s study of a nickel/titanium alloy called Nitinol, renowned for its resilience as a “memory metal.” Contracted by the U.S. Air Force to assess and exploit its compelling properties in the late 1940s, Battelle participates in or manages six national laboratories for the U.S. Department of Energy, including Oak Ridge, Lawrence Livermore, and Brookhaven.

The problem is, neither Battelle nor the USAF can produce copies of what the scientific literature refers to as the “Second Progress Report on Contract AF33 (038)-3736.” Bragalia suspects that’s because the data is still highly classified due to its source — a flying disc that crashed outside Roswell, N.M., in 1947.

“Personal testimony is one thing,” says Bragalia, whose research skills have been polished by his business as an executive-search consultant. “But when you start talking about documents and the history of science, unlike testimonials, their provenance is not questioned.”

Bragalia’s work is showcased in a just-released update of “Witness To Roswell” ($16.99, New Page Books) by Tom Carey and Don Schmitt. Bragalia says his curiosity about the Roswell debris began accelerating in 2007, shortly after a retired Army Air Force veteran from Ellenton named Ben Games told De Void a tale that no one had ever heard before — in July of 1947, he flew Gen. Laurence Craigie to Roswell during the furor over the alleged UFO recovery.

As chief of the Research and Engineering Division at AAF headquarters, Craigie had offices at the Pentagon and at present-day Wright-Patterson AFB in Ohio. In October 1947, he became Director of Research and Development for the U.S. Air Force. At the end of the year, he authorized the first-ever USAF study of flying saucers. From 1948-50, he served as commandant of the USAF Institute of Technology at Wright-Pat.

In 1991, retired brigadier general Arthur Exon confirmed for author/investigators Schmitt and Kevin Randle that the Roswell debris was transferred to Wright Field in ‘47. Civilians and military personnel who handled the stuff compared some components to aluminum foil, except that it would conform to its original shape after being crumpled.

Exon, a lieutenant colonel on base at the time, said lab chiefs in charge of testing the material “knew they had something new in their hands. The metal and material was unknown to anyone I talked to.” However, Exon, who was promoted to Wright-Pat base commander in 1964, never had access to the debris.

But who did? And if, as skeptics contend, the thing that went down in Roswell was simply a classified but hardly exotic balloon project, why did Craigie make a hurried flight to New Mexico from Washington?

Enter Nitinol, which made its debut in 1939. The nickel/titanium metal was created as a byproduct of another project and initially studied for its crystalline structures. Bragalia was unable to find any research on its shape-recovery properties until encountering references to a WPAFB contract with Battelle produced in 1949.

Its “Second Progress Report” — authored by Battelle employees listed only as C.M. Craighead, F. Fawn, and L.W. Eastwood — implies a first progress report, for which Bragalia could find no references at all. Although unable to get his hands on the “Second Progress Report,” Bragalia lists four references to its existence in 1952, 1965, 1972, and 1984.

Bragalia didn’t read the “Second Progress Report” because nobody appears to know where it is. Kemberly Lang, manager of the Battelle Library, couldn’t find a copy, and neither could Annette Sheppard, special collection librarian at WPAFB. Lang reconfirmed to De Void her futility at learning anything about the 60-year-old project beyond published references to it.

“There’s something strange going on here, but there is no copy of the contract. And Wright-Patterson doesn’t have it, either. Evidently it was never submitted for retention,” says Lang, who coordinated her search efforts with WPAFB. “Both sides have miraculously lost their copies of it.

“I don’t know what’s in it, I don’t have a clue. I don’t think there’s anything malicious going on, but it’s kind of in my ‘open’ file now. It’s a mystery.”

Bragalia doubts the USAF farmed out the actual Roswell debris to Battelle. More likely, he suspects its scientists were tasked to simulate its morphing abilities through Nitinol, which requires 99.99 percent purity and the application of heat.

Curiously, Braglia says military reports announcing the unveiling of Nitinol as a memory metal cite every year from 1959 to 1963 as its point of discovery. The last word from the U.S. Naval Ordnance Lab lists its debut as 1962 or 1963.

Today, Nitinol has blossomed into the commercial sector, finding its way into everything from medical hardware to bendable eyeglass frames. Among the most ambitious firms incorporating the latest generation of metallic elasticity into a vast array of products is LiquidMetal Technologies, a publicly traded R&D company headquartered in Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.

Attributing its “amorphous alloys” to researchers from California Institute of Technology — managed by Battelle in cooperation with Lawrence-Livermore — LiquidMetal’s Web site says it has collaborated on “numerous shuttle missions for NASA scientists to study its technology in space first hand.”

“The NASA connection is huge,” says Bragalia. “When you begin taking stuff into space and testing it under microgravity conditions, it allows you to develop material of exceptional purity.”

Battelle, listed as a charitable trust exempt from taxation, is most famously known in UFO circles for producing a 1954 Air Force Project Blue Book study called Special Report No. 14. Concluding that 21.5 percent of UFOs in the military database were unknowns, Battelle directly contradicted then USAF Secretary Donald Quarles’ assertion that only 3 percent of its sightings were unknown.

“Battelle is very artful at concealing its connections,” says Bragalia. “When people say ‘the government’ knows about UFOs, I wonder. Especially when you consider that Battelle has more or less privatized six of our national laboratories.”

Source: The Herald Tribune/Billy Cox


Mars Robots May Have Destroyed Evidence of Life

Have Mars landers been destroying signs of life? Instead of identifying chemicals that could point to life, NASA's robot explorers may have been toasting them by mistake.

In 1976, many people's hopes of finding life on Mars collapsed when the twin Viking landers failed to detect even minute quantities of organic compounds - the complex, carbon-containing molecules that are central to life as we know it. "It contributed, in my opinion, to the fact that there were no additional [US lander] missions to Mars for 20 years," says Jeff Moore of NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California.

The result also created a puzzle. Even if Mars has never had life, comets and asteroids that have struck the planet should have scattered at least some organic molecules - though not produced by life - over its surface.

Some have suggested that organics were cleansed from the surface by naturally occurring, highly reactive chemicals such as hydrogen peroxide. Then last year, NASA's Phoenix lander, which also failed to detect organics on Mars, stumbled on something in the Martian soil that may have, in effect, been hiding the organics: a class of chemicals called perchlorates.

At low temperatures, perchlorates are relatively harmless. But when heated to hundreds of degrees Celsius they release a lot of oxygen, which tends to cause any nearby combustible material to burn. For that very reason, perchlorates are used in rocket propulsion.

The Phoenix and Viking landers looked for organic molecules by heating soil samples to similarly high temperatures to evaporate them and analyse them in gas form. When Douglas Ming of NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, and colleagues tried heating organics and perchlorates like this on Earth, the resulting combustion left no trace of organics behind. Ming's team presented their results at the recent Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in Houston.

Iron oxides have also been suspected of interfering with the detection of organics, but perchlorates are probably far more effective, says Chris McKay of Ames. Even if organics make up a few parts per thousand of the soil, Viking or Phoenix could have missed them, he adds, so it is too soon to conclude that these materials are not there. "We haven't looked the right way," he says.

Jeffrey Bada of the University of California, San Diego, agrees that a new approach is needed. He is leading work on a new instrument called Urey for the European Space Agency's ExoMars rover, due to launch in 2016, which will be able to detect organic material at concentrations as low as a few parts per trillion. The good news is that, although Urey heats its samples, it does so in water, so the organics cannot burn up.
Mystery of the missing salt

Organic chemicals are not the only substance that we may have missed on the Red Planet (see above). We should have seen carbonate salts littering the surface.

Weathering breaks down basalt, the dominant rock in the planet's crust, into a clay plus positive ions. These ions should react with carbon dioxide in the Martian atmosphere to form carbonate salts, explains Ralph Milliken at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

Orbiters have spotted clay on Mars but few carbonates or other salts. We shouldn't assume that they aren't there, however, Milliken says.

Milliken and his colleagues have calculated that weathered Mars basalt should produce equal amounts of clay and salt. Thus in the planet's southern highlands, where thousands of clay deposits have been identified, there should be at least as much salt (Geophysical Research Letters, DOI: 10.1029/2009gl038558). "Chemistry has shown that you can't draw conclusions from observations alone, because you are still missing pieces of the puzzle," says Milliken.

Some argue that the lack of known carbonate salt deposits points to a different atmospheric composition in the past, but Milliken says we should study the rocks directly before making any conclusions.

Source: New Scientist


Utah Has Mountains of Mysteries

When it comes to mysteries and legends, Utah certainly has a wealth of rich material for an author to draw upon. There are famed outlaws, hidden gold and ancient treasures, strange lights hovering over the West Desert and that elusive and rather hairy big guy who in these parts goes by name of Bigfoot.

It was Salt Lake City author Michael O'Reilly's intention to write a book that hit upon some of these stories, and he does so in "Mysteries and Legends of Utah: True Stories of the Unsolved and Unexplained" (Globe Pequot Press, $14.95). O'Reilly is a writer, outdoorsman and business owner who earned his master's degree in poetry from the University of Utah.

His book is broken into 12 chapters, each dealing with a different subject, ranging from historical events such as the Mountain Meadows Massacre and the Mormon handcart disaster, to colorful characters of the Old West like the storied, tough-as-nails trapper Jedediah Smith and the infamous, but lovable, outlaw Butch Cassidy.

In an interview with the Standard-Examiner, O'Reilly said one of his favorite chapters, "The Lost Rhoades Gold Mine and the Secret of Carre Shinob" tells the story of the legendary gold mine and a sacred Indian burial site containing spectacular treasures.

Utah treasures

O'Reilly's story begins in 1855 with a frightened 19-year-old Caleb Rhoades, who reportedly accompanied a group of Utes into the Uinta mountains to bury Chief Walker, the famed Indian chief who converted to the Mormon religion. What Caleb witnessed inside the burial site was the stuff that has helped fuel the legends of gold in them thar hills.

"As far back as the lanterns cast their dusty glow, he could see more skeletons, some wearing ancient Spanish armor, their leather pouches and knife sheaths still perfectly intact," O'Reilly writes. "There were two large, golden disks, taller than a man, each one engraved with words of a language Caleb had never seen. He couldn't fathom their value. Skeletons were adorned with elaborate feathers, jewels and gold artifacts he did not recognize. He had a thousand questions. Could these golden disks, strange masks, anklets and breastplates belong to the ancient Lamanite people written about in the Book of Mormon? Young Caleb only hoped he lived long enough to find out the answers."

Caleb didn't live long enough to discover the answers, but his account has lived on in modern times.

O'Reilly said he enjoyed researching and writing the chapter because of the numerous characters involved -- past and present -- including The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

"The most interesting thing is the quest for the gold and how it ties in with the church and their need for gold," O'Reilly said.

Alien experiences

His chapter "UFOs and Aliens in Utah" was also of particular interest to O'Reilly because of an unusual experience he had on a mountain-biking trip near Wendover, Nev. That experience, he thinks, might have been something out of this world.

"I was lying in my sleeping bag and looking west, and two lights come up from horizon," O'Reilly said. "I thought they were fighter jets as they came up in formation, but they were really far away from me. They came up slow, stopped, turned right, stopped again in unison, zigzagged and then both lights shot up into space really fast. They weren't moving like normal aircraft."

O'Reilly said that what he saw shares commonalities with other UFO sightings. He includes his experience in the book, but acknowledges that he doesn't know what he saw over the desert that night, "which officially makes it a UFO sighting."

"Regardless of what others think of my experience, whether or not they believe them, I am tremendously grateful for having seen the UFO," he writes. "Because I know I'm not crazy or delusional, my experience allows me to take seriously the accounts of others and to hear their stories with an open mind, without passing judgment."

O'Reilly does include the accounts of others in his UFO chapter, including Alien Dave, famous in Utah UFO circles, and a Sandy man named Darrell Smith, also famous in UFO circles, but perhaps more well-known for his interest in Bigfoot.

Smith and his wife moved to Utah from Southern California in 1979. A year later while watching the evening news, he saw a story that sent him on an ongoing quest for Bigfoot.

"It was on the news that a Bigfoot had come down from Coldwater Canyon to a trout farm in North Ogden and he was eating the trout out of the ponds and left some perfect footprints in the mud while he was doing it," Smith said in an interview with the Standard-Examiner.

"When he was finished with that, he walked back up Coldwater Canyon. One of the neighbors was walking out into the trout farm when Bigfoot was walking out of the trout farm and they met -- face to face. He was hospitalized for shock. He'd come face to face with a Bigfoot."

O'Reilly's chapter on Bigfoot begins with the multiple sightings in North Ogden, which the author says continued over the next 17 years as various landowners and hikers had encounters with fabled creature.

Smith elaborated on one incident in which a North Ogden man got a little angry with Bigfoot because, week after week, his pigs were disappearing.

"He was getting kind of upset about that and one night the pigs were squealing out there, so he takes his hunting rifle out there and said, 'If it's a bear, or Bigfoot or a mountain lion, I'm going to kill it. If it's a human being, I'm going to scare him to death.' "

When the man walked around the outbuilding, Smith said he came upon a Bigfoot who was "palming a 35-pound pig like you would a football."

Leveling his rifle at the creature, the man reportedly said he could see the expression on the its all-too-human face.

"Bigfoot was scared 'cause he knows what a man with a rifle means," Smith said. However, when the man pulled the trigger, the gun didn't fire and Bigfoot ran off toward Coldwater Canyon.

In his 29 subsequent years of researching and cataloging Bigfoot stories, Smith said, guns not firing and cars not starting is a common occurrence when Bigfoot is in the house.

What's that smell?

In addition to being big and hairy, Bigfoot apparently needs a hot shower, some strong soap and an effective deodorant.

O'Reilly writes in his book of a particularly frightening encounter in which one of Smith's friends (named Ron) ran across a Bigfoot while driving with his family up Farmington Canyon.

"After rounding a tight corner in a densely wooded area, Ron slammed on the brakes to avoid hitting something tall and hairy standing in the middle of the road," O'Reilly writes. "For at least five minutes, the giant beast stood there on the centerline, looking around as if he couldn't decide where to go. Finally, he started moving, and for a moment the entire family was on the edge as the beast walked toward the car, swinging his long arms. A few strides later he was past them and out of sight. Ignoring his wife, who begged him to keep driving, Ron jumped out of the car to get a better look at the creature.

"When he opened the door, everyone inside was hit by a blast of foul-smelling air."

Smelling bad is a trait Bigfoot is known for, Smith said, "whether it's on purpose or not."

"A lot of people have said it's like rotten meat, or the worst smell they've ever smelled," he says in the book. "But then I've been within feet of them and never smelled a thing. I've had them follow me through the woods and walk around my camp."

Where's the body?

O'Reilly's chapter on Bigfoot in Utah also quotes renowned Bigfoot expert Jeff Meldrum of the University of Idaho, who O'Reilly says approaches the Bigfoot question from a more academic and scientific point of view than Smith.

So O'Reilly asked Meldrum the obvious question: Why, if there is such a thing as Bigfoot, has no one ever produced a body? Why no Bigfoot road kill?

Meldrum's response: "If this is a species of large primate, then its intelligence is at least on par with that of a chimp or a gorillla, perhaps greater. Given its rarity and its solitary habits, it is not surprising that they avoid traffic."

But Smith has another explanation.

"We know that Bigfoot buries its dead. They've been seen burying their dead," he says in the book. "A couple guys in California saw two Bigfoots burying a third ... the guys went back to town to get help 'cause they wanted to dig it up, but when they returned, they couldn't remember where it was."

Even in death, it seems, Bigfoot remains elusive.

Source: Standard-Examiner


'Allo, Allo,' Sonar Image May Be Nessie

The cast of the UK stage adaptation of sitcom "Allo 'Allo" got slightly more than they bargained for while cruising Loch Ness - catching a glimpse of what could be the elusive Loch Ness Monster on the ship's sonar screen.

The sonar images reveal five Nessie-shaped images, which a trusted Loch Ness expert cannot explain.

The cast, including television series favourite Vicki Michelle, had been taking a break from performing at Eden Court Theatre last Thursday, when the spot was made.

The crew of the Jacobite Queen witnessed highly unusual readings on the ship's sonar screen, somewhere between Dores and Urquhart Castle.

According to captain John Askew, it was the first-time in his 15-years working on the loch that he successfully picked up images of this kind on any of the Jacobite fleet's sonar screens. The images have now been sent for scientific analysis.

An expert in sonar who has been studying Loch Ness since 1973 couldn't explain the sighting.

"This has got me puzzled and has every appearance of a genuine sonar contact," said Adrian Shine, of The Loch Ness Project. "The fact there's five items on the screen can be explained, as a single object often appears again as an echo.

"This certainly adds to the Loch Ness mystery and will be the subject of further investigation."

Vicki Michelle, who was aboard the boat as it travelled from Inverness to the historic Urquhart Castle, commented: "I went down to the boat's cabin and caught an arch shape on the monitor, followed by four more. The whole cast had been hoping to see something on the trip and, if it was Nessie, that positive energy probably brought her out... or perhaps she's just a fan of the show!

"In all seriousness, whether it was Nessie or not, we all definitely saw something on that monitor," she added.

Recorded sightings of the Loch Ness Monster go back nearly 1,500 years, although many photographs of the legendary 'Nessie' taken in the past century have proved to be either hoaxes or simply optical illusions.

Source: Inverness-Courier (UK)

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