Maurits Cornelis Escher was born in 1898 in Leeuwarden, in the northern part of the Netherlands, and spent most of childhood in perpetual uncomfort due to a reoccurring skin rash. His grades in primary school were lackluster, yet he found solace in drawing and carpentry. After surviving secondary school, he went on to study architecture and decorative arts, and decided to travel throughout Europe before settling down.
It was during this period that he became enchanted with the intricate architectural legacy of the Moors and with the Italian countryside; this was also the time when he fell in love with his future-wife. The two of them settled in Rome in the 1930s, unfortunately just in time to experience the development of Italian fascism. So Escher, his wife, and their sons moved first to Switzerland, then to Belgium, and finally back to the Netherlands – the cold and wet location where most of his greatest works were produced.
Escher was not a formal mathematician by any means (he only had a high school education in the subject), but he was fascinated by the visual identity of mathematical concepts. Working mostly in lithographs and woodcuts, Escher explored the relationships between shape and space, interlocking figures in multi-dimensional planes and eternally spiraling spaces. He developed a serious obsession with impossible objects like the Necker Cube and the Penrose Triangle, as well as with ordered arrangements and absolute symmetry.
Throughout his career, Escher created an outstanding amount of work while lecturing and furthering his understanding of mathematical concepts like topology and the Mobius Strip. In his later life, Escher moved to a retirement home for artists in the Netherlands, where he died in 1972 at the age of 73. …
Archive for the ‘History’ Category
Posted by Xeno on June 17, 2013
Posted by Xeno on June 14, 2013
Usually, “Happy Birthday” is a happy, celebratory song that often precedes cake and ice cream. But it might soon become part of a contentious legal battle.
Jennifer Nelson, the president and owner of the New York based Good Morning to You Production Corp., is producing a documentary about the history of “Happy Birthday to You.” One of the scenes in the film includes the actual song. But in order for Nelson to obtain the rights to “Happy Birthday,” the music company Warner/Chappell, a division of Warner Music Corp., required her to pay a licensing fee of $1,500.
On Thursday, Nelson’s production company filed a class action in U.S. District Court in New York to invalidate the Warner/Chappell’s copyright and make the rights available to the public.
According to the complaint, “Warner/Chappell has either silenced those wishing to record or perform ‘Happy Birthday to You’ or has extracted millions of dollars in unlawful licensing fees from those unwilling or unable to challenge its ownership claims.”
“The song has a very interesting history that I wanted to tell. It is a song that belongs to everyone and everyone in the world knows it and has had occasion to sing it,” Nelson wrote in an email to ABC News. “It is shocking that someone claims to own it and others therefore have to pay a fee to use it. I hope to return it to the public where it rightfully belongs.”
As of this afternoon, Warner/Chappell has not filed any response yet, Janine Pollack, one of the lawyers representing the company, told ABC News.
A Warner/Chappell spokesperson declined to comment when contacted by ABC News.
“Happy Birthday” has a long and complex history dating back more than a century. The melody comes from the song “Good Morning to You,” which sisters Mildred and Patty Hill composed at the end of the 19 th century.
“No one has claimed even to write the words to the song ‘Happy Birthday to You,’ because it started with ‘Good Morning to All,’ ” Pollack explained. “Somewhere along the lines someone starts singing ‘Happy Birthday to You’ but it wasn’t Warner/Chappell who wrote the words and has the copyright.”
The class action pertains to anyone who paid Warner/Chappell for the rights to “Happy Birthday” since 2009….
Posted by Xeno on June 11, 2013
A 350-year-old mathematical mystery could lead toward a better understanding of medical conditions like epilepsy or even the behavior of predator-prey systems in the wild,
University of Pittsburgh researchers report.
The mystery dates back to 1665, when Dutch mathematician, astronomer, and physicist Christiaan Huygens, inventor of the pendulum clock, first observed that two pendulum clocks mounted together could swing in opposite directions. The cause was tiny vibrations in the beam caused by both clocks, affecting their motions.
The effect, now referred to by scientists as “indirect coupling,” was not mathematically analyzed until nearly 350 years later, and deriving a formula that explains it remains a challenge to mathematicians still. Now, Pitt professors apply this principle to measure the interaction of “units”—such as neurons, for example—that turn “off” and “on” repeatedly. Their findings are highlighted in the latest issue of Physical Review Letters.
“We have developed a mathematical approach to better understanding the ‘ingredients’ in a system that affect synchrony in a number of medical and ecological conditions,” said Jonathan E. Rubin, coauthor of the study and professor in Pitt’s Department of Mathematics within the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences. “Researchers can use our ideas to generate predictions that can be tested through experiments.”
More specifically, the researchers believe the formula could lead toward a better understanding of conditions like epilepsy, in which neurons become overly active and fail to turn off, ultimately leading to seizures. Likewise, it could have applications in other areas of biology, such as understanding how bacteria use external cues to synchronize growth.
Together with G. Bard Ermentrout, University Professor of Computational Biology and professor in Pitt’s Department of Mathematics, and Jonathan J. Rubin, an undergraduate mathematics major, Jonathan E. Rubin examined these forms of indirect communication that are not typically included in most mathematical studies owing to their complicated elements. In addition to studying neurons, the Pitt researchers applied their methods to a model of artificial gene networks in bacteria, which are used by experimentalists to better understand how genes function.
“In the model we studied, the genes turn off and on rhythmically. While on, they lead to production of proteins and a substance called an autoinducer, which promotes the genes turning on,” said Jonathan E. Rubin. “Past research claimed that this rhythm would occur simultaneously in all the cells. But we show that, depending on the speed of communication, the cells will either go together or become completely out of synch with each another.”
To apply their formula to an epilepsy model, the team assumed that neurons oscillate, or turn off and on in a regular fashion. Ermentrout compares this to Southeast Asian fireflies that flash rhythmically, encouraging synchronization.
“For neurons, we have shown that the slow nature of these interactions encouraged ‘asynchrony,’ or firing at different parts of the cycle,” Ermentrout said. “In these seizure-like states, the slow dynamics that couple the neurons together are such that they encourage the neurons to fire all out of phase with each other.”
The Pitt researchers believe this approach may extend beyond medical applications into ecology—for example, a situation in which two independent animal groups in a common environment communicate indirectly. Jonathan E. Rubin illustrates the idea by using a predator-prey system, such as rabbits and foxes.
“With an increase in rabbits will come an increase in foxes, as they’ll have plenty of prey,” said Jonathan E. Rubin. “More rabbits will get eaten, but eventually the foxes won’t have enough to eat and will die off, allowing the rabbit numbers to surge again. Voila, it’s an oscillation. So, if we have a fox-rabbit oscillation and a wolf-sheep oscillation in the same field, the two oscillations could affect each other indirectly because now rabbits and sheep are both competing for the same grass to eat.” …
U.S. Special Forces getting constellation of mini surveillance satellites to hunt down ‘people considered to be dangerous’
Posted by Xeno on May 23, 2013
In September, the U.S. government will fire into orbit a two-stage rocket from a Virginia launchpad. Officially, the mission is a scientific one, designed to improve America’s ability to send small satellites into space quickly and cheaply. But the launch will also have a second purpose: to help the elite forces of U.S. Special Operations Command hunt down people considered to be dangerous to the United States and its interests.
For years, special operators have used tiny “tags” to clandestinely mark their prey — and satellites to relay information from those beacons. But there are areas of the world where the satellite coverage is thin, and there aren’t enough cell towers to provide an alternative. That’s why SOCOM is putting eight miniature communications satellites, each about the size of a water jug, on top of the Minotaur rocket that’s getting ready to launch from Wallops Island, Virginia. They’ll sit more than 300 miles above the earth and provide a new way for the beacons to call back to their masters.
Who needs drones when you’ve got satellites?
The belief that the US government will be using drones to spy on its citizens might not have any basis, as its security forces move towards satellite spying instead.
In September, the US government will fire into orbit a two-stage rocket from a Virginia launchpad. According to official reports, the mission is scientific one, designed to improve America’s ability to send small satellites into space quickly and cheaply.
Satellites. So humans can hunt humans. Great. Since the days when simple spears were used for the same purpose, how have we progressed, morally? What new world-wide compassion programs, what great ethics and understanding revolutions have we had to prevent the misuse of our rockets and our meat cleavers?
Posted by Xeno on May 16, 2013
Tonight, while reading a thick secret Masonic book left to me by my departed Master Mason grandfather, who reached the 32nd degree (Master of the Royal Secret) on June 16, 1944, I became curious if I might be able to start a Science-Based Masonic lodge. It appears not… but things do change.
At this time in history, an atheistic Freemason must hide his true beliefs according to this:
I’m an atheist Freemason (they’d expel me if they knew)
Is it possible to reconcile being a confirmed atheist with participating in a religious organisation?
People usually think Masons are either a bunch of old farts with their trousers rolled up, or evil genuises bent on world domination. Dan Brown, in his otherwise execrable Lost Symbol, described us fairly and with a sneaking admiration (though in this country we don’t do anything like locking ourselves in cupboards with skulls). It’s a way of meeting people (well, men) on a basis of immediate friendship. It teaches a moral code: integrity, fidelity, benevolence etc. It raises a *lot* of money for charity. It offers a chance to perform ceremonies. Why does it need to be religious?
Every candidate for initiation is asked “Do you believe in a Supreme Being?”. When I was asked this, I replied “Yes”, and meant it – nothing further is ever asked or expected. At the time I was a wishy-washy not-quite-a-Christian, like many other members I’ve met. People from any faith are welcome, and oaths of secrecy and fidelity are taken on a bible, or other holy book if appropriate (requests for Darwin or Dawkins wouldn’t be well received!). Each meeting involves prayers to the generic “Great Architect of the Universe” to look favourably upon the organisation and its members, and to keep us steadfast in our oaths. I question whether any passing God would trouble Himself to shine His rays upon a bunch of men waffling on in coloured aprons, but this low-key interventionism is woven in. The secrets themselves serve no purpose other than identification, aren’t hard to find on google, and really aren’t interesting in their own right.
Moral teachings are a central part of the ceremonies, in which the “candidate” (new member) is taught various lessons about how to be a better man. There are some wonderful moments in these ceremonies, which are genuine once-in-a-lifetime experiences, and I can honestly say that they’ve had a very real and positive effect on my conduct in everyday life. One key point they hold that I utterly reject is that God is the moral compass and fount of all goodness.
I derive a lot of enjoyment from performing the ceremonies. They involve learning large tracts of dignified, old-fashioned dialogue and monologue, and performing them in such a way as to give the candidate a memorable and impressive experience. Any frustrated actor would revel in this. Amateur pageantry is also an important part, and for anyone who enjoys watching the pomp and circumstance of a royal wedding, military parade, or a high church service, this is good fun to take part in. Some of the buildings are nothing short of magnificent and it’s a privilege to use them. Alas, those small parts of the ceremony which reflect the religious underpinning engender in me feelings of hypocrisy; I’ve filled various offices which involve leading short prayers. It feels dirty – perhaps more so than mumbling the Lord’s Prayer at a wedding, though there is no logical reason for this to be the case. Is it any different from being in a church and not agreeing with the letter of everything being said? Maybe it’s the difference between being an atheist church-goer and an atheist priest.
Why do I do this? It’s fun. It fills a gap which I think church fills in the lives of the religious – community, morality, ceremony etc. I agree strongly with the intent of its teachings, even though I reject the jump from “being nice to people is good” to “God is good and He wants you to be nice to people”. Given the don’t-ask-don’t-tell policy after the initial interview (religion and politics are taboo subjects on account of being too divisive), all that’s required is a certain amount of finger-crossing and keeping my mouth shut. It’s a price to pay, but the benefits (strictly non-pecuniary!) of membership far outweigh this price.
There’s no secular equivalent, alas – society is still to emerge fully from the assumption that all good people are religious, and all religious people are good, and Freemasonry is lagging far behind. In my opinion, the religion could be removed from Freemasonry to no loss, but I’m probably in the minority.
You may call me a hyprocrite, and you may very well be right. So be it. I’ve made a significant positive contribution to a number of lodges over a number of years, and they to me. I have every hope this will continue.
Of course, if I had successfully formed an Non-Religious Masonic lodge bent on proving that moral behavior is a human right, a human creation, and a universally human struggle, I couldn’t tell you about it.
My grandfather only said one thing about the Masons to me… Ever. It seemed totally random to me at the time because I didn’t know he was one. He said that if anyone ever tells you the Masons asked him to join, they were lying. You have to go to them.
Posted by Xeno on May 7, 2013
At the end of the last ice age, a single language fractured, until it became the languages we speak across Asia and Europe.
At least 15,000 years ago, a single language started to break up. It broke into about seven different languages and, over the next 5,000 years, splintered into thousands more. Those languages became what’s spoken by billions throughout Europe and Asia.The seven languages are part of a “superfamily” of Eurasiatic languages, the Guardian reports, a long-debated theory on the history of human speech. It’s tough to definitively trace back words when about half of words are replaced by completely different words every 2,000 to 4,000 years, but the British team advancing the super-languages theory has already shown in another study that certain words stay the same for tens of thousands of years longer. Using a computer model to search for words that only changed very, very rarely, the team determined which modern words likely sounded similar to the same words in ancient languages, then checked their results against a list of words reconstructed by linguists. That pointed them to a split from a common language at about 15,000 years ago.
Also interesting are some of the “ultraconserved” words that seldom changed throughout history: Frequently used words like “I” and “we” understandably have a long history but also, inexplicably, the verb “to spit.” Apparently spitting is essential to our development as humans. …
… they started from a pool of 200 words that linguists know to be the core vocabulary of all languages, and then tried to work out which of them had common meanings and a similar sound in different languages. Once they’d done that, they tried to work out how the words were shared across different languages stretching back in time, and what root words they’d been associated with.
The result is a list of 23 words which appear to be common to four or more language families through time. It’s unlikely that similar sounding words cropped up by accident, and the fact they’ve endured is probably down to the fact that they are common and important to daily life. All of which means, of course, that if you were to go back in time – even 15,000 years – you might, just about, maybe, possibly be able to communicate with whoever you meet. …
Here are the 23 words:
thou, I, not, that, we, to give, who, this, what, man/male, ye, old, mother, to hear, hand, fire, to pull, black, to flow, bark, ashes, to spit, worm
Posted by Xeno on May 2, 2013
The winter of 1609 to 1610 was treacherous for early American settlers. Some 240 of the 300 colonists at Jamestown, in Virginia, died during this period, called the “Starving Time,” when they were under siege and had no way to get food.
Desperate times led to desperate measures. New evidence suggests that includes eating the flesh of fellow colonists who had already died.
Archaeologists revealed Wednesday their analysis of 17th century skeletal remains suggesting that settlers practiced cannibalism to survive.
Researchers unearthed an incomplete human skull and tibia (shin bone) in 2012 that contain several features suggesting that this particular person had been cannibalized. The remains come from a 14-year-old girl of English origin, whom historians are calling “Jane.”
There are about half a dozen accounts that mention cannibalistic behaviors at that time, although the record is limited, said Douglas Owsley, division head of physical anthropology at the Smithsonian National Museum of National History.
The newly analyzed remains support these accounts, providing the first forensic evidence of cannibalism in the American colonies.
What we know from the bones
Jane’s remains were found in a 17th-century trash deposit at the former site of James Fort. William Kelso, chief archaeologist at the Jamestown Rediscovery Project said at a briefing Wednesday that the fort was built in 1607, but has been washed away. Kelso and colleagues began digging in 1994 and have been excavating the site on Jamestown Island ever since.
Owsley and colleagues can tell quite a bit about what happened to Jane when at least one starving settler in the fort apparently tried to feed off of her.
If it’s any consolation, it appears that she was already dead at the time. …
Six ships reached Jamestown in August 1609, with spoiled or depleted food, and many settlers in poor health. “On one of those ships was Jane,” Horn said.
At the same time, the relationship between the Jamestown colonists and the native Powhatan Indians had broken down. The existing settlers were already experiencing disease and a shortage of food, and the demands they made on the Powhatans strained their relations.
That was the environment into which 300 additional settlers arrived at the James Fort.
One of the leaders of the group, Captain John Smith — the same one who was famously friends with Pocahontas — returned to England in October 1609 because he was injured, Owsley said, leaving a leadership vacuum.
In the fall, the Powhatans waged war against these colonists, and launched a siege against the fort.
With no way to get food from the outside, the colonists resorted to eating horses, dogs, cats, rats, mice and snakes, Horn said, according to the accounts of George Percy, who was the president of Jamestown during this time. There are even accounts of people eating their shoes and any other leather that could be found. Anyone who left to try to scrounge for roots in the woods was killed by the Powhatans.
Percy wrote, according to the Smithsonian, “thatt notheinge was Spared to mainteyne Lyfe and to doe those things which seame incredible, as to digge upp deade corpes outt of graves and to eate them. And some have Licked upp the Bloode which hathe fallen from their weake fellowes.” In other words, cannibalism. …
A bit more history for context:
Captain John Smith became the colony’s leader in September 1608 – the fourth in a succession of council presidents – and established a “no work, no food” policy. Smith had been instrumental in trading with the Powhatan Indians for food. However, in the fall of 1609 he was injured by burning gunpowder and left for England. Smith never returned to Virginia, but promoted colonization of North America until his death in 1631 and published numerous accounts of the Virginia colony, providing invaluable material for historians.
Smith’s departure was followed by the “starving time,” a period of warfare between the colonists and Indians and the deaths of many English men and women from starvation and disease. Just when the colonists decided to abandon Jamestown in Spring 1610, settlers with supplies arrived from England, eager to find wealth in Virginia. This group of new settlers arrived under the second charter issued by King James I. This charter provided for stronger leadership under a governor who served with a group of advisors, and the introduction of a period of military law that carried harsh punishments for those who did not obey.
In order to make a profit for the Virginia Company, settlers tried a number of small industries, including glassmaking, wood production, and pitch and tar and potash manufacture. However, until the introduction of tobacco as a cash crop about 1613 by colonist John Rolfe, who later married Powhatan’s daughter Pocahontas, none of the colonists’ efforts to establish profitable enterprises were successful. Tobacco cultivation required large amounts of land and labor and stimulated the rapid growth of the Virginia colony. Settlers moved onto the lands occupied by the Powhatan Indians, and increased numbers of indentured servants came to Virginia.
The first documented Africans in Virginia arrived in 1619. They were from the kingdom of Ndongo in Angola, West Central Africa, and had been captured during war with the Portuguese. While these first Africans may have been treated as indentured servants, the customary practice of owning Africans as slaves for life appeared by mid-century. The number of African slaves increased significantly in the second half of the 17th century, replacing indentured servants as the primary source of labor.
Posted by Xeno on April 8, 2013
“I’d like to see that land beyond the (North) Pole. That area beyond the Pole is the Center of the Great Unknown”
Supposed comment from Rear Admiral Richard E. Byrd.
When renowned explorer Richard E. Byrd returned from the first-ever flight to the North Pole in 1926, he sparked a controversy that remains today: Did he actually reach the pole? Studying supercomputer simulations of atmospheric conditions on the day of the flight and double-checking Byrd’s navigation techniques, a researcher at The Ohio State University has determined that Byrd indeed neared the Pole, but likely only flew within 80 miles of it before turning back to the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen. Gerald Newsom, professor emeritus of astronomy at Ohio State, based his results in part on atmospheric simulations from the 20th Century Reanalysis project at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The study appears in a recent issue of the journal Polar Record.
“I worked out that if Byrd did make it, he must have had very unusual wind conditions. But it’s clear that he really gave it a valiant try, and he deserves a lot of respect,” Newsom said.
At issue is whether Byrd and pilot Floyd Bennett could have made the 1,500-mile round trip from Spitsbergen in only 15 hours and 44 minutes, when some experts were expecting a flight time of around 18 hours.
Byrd claimed that they encountered strong tail winds that sped the plane’s progress. Not everyone believed him.
“The flight was incredibly controversial,” Newsom explained. “The people defending Byrd were vehement that he was a hero, and the people attacking him said he was one of the world’s greatest frauds. The emotion! It was incredibly vitriolic.” Newsom was unaware of the debate, however, until Raimund Goerler, now-retired archivist at Ohio State, discovered a flight journal within a large collection of items given to Ohio State by the Byrd family at the naming of the university’s Byrd Polar Research Center. In 1995, Goerler opened a previously overlooked cardboard box labeled “misc.” In it, he found a smudged and water-stained book containing hand-written notes from Byrd’s 1926 North Pole flight and his historic 1927 trans-Atlantic flight, as well as an earlier expedition to Greenland in 1925.
Goerler looked to Newsom for help interpreting the navigational notes. “Given the strong opinions on both sides from people in the polar research community, we thought an astronomer who had no prior opinion about the flight would have the skills to do an assessment, and the neutrality to do it in an unbiased way,” he said.
In fact, Newsom had helped teach celestial navigation during his early days as a graduate student, and still had an interest in the subject. With the help of current Byrd Polar archivist Laura Kissel, he pored over copies of the notebook and other related writings, including the post-flight report by Byrd’s sponsors at the National Geographic Society.
Newsom was particularly curious about the solar compass that Byrd used to find his way to and from the pole. The compass was state-of-the-art for its time, with a clockwork mechanism that turned a glass cover to match the movement of the sun around the sky. By peering at a shadow in the sun compass, Byrd gauged whether the plane was heading north. Among the artifacts in the Byrd Polar Research Center is a copy of the barograph recording made during the flight, showing atmospheric pressure. A small calibration graph was labeled with altitudes for different pressures, allowing Byrd to determine how high the plane flew throughout the flight. Byrd used the altitude to set a device mounted over an opening in the bottom of the plane, and with a stopwatch he timed how long it took for features on the ice below to move in and out of view. The stopwatch reading then gave the plane’s ground speed.
Byrd could then calculate the distance traveled, and know when he and Bennett had traveled far enough to reach the pole. He would also be able to tell if a crosswind was nudging the plane off course. And he would have had to repeat the calculations every few minutes for the entire trip north.
The partially open cockpit would have been very loud, Newsom explained, so Byrd wrote messages in the book so Bennett could read his suggested course corrections. For example, there was a note from Byrd to Bennett asking for a three-degree correction to the west, to counter a crosswind. The problem, Newsom quickly found, is that the notebook didn’t contain any calculations of ground speed, only the results of the calculations. “I would have thought he’d have pages and pages of calculations,” Newsom said. “Without that, there’s no way of knowing for sure, but deep down there’s a worry I have—that he did it all in his head.”
Newsom found that the barograph recording and calibration graph were remarkably small. A change of atmospheric pressure of one inch of mercury would equal only one quarter of an inch on the barograph record. “That’s tiny,” he said. “If Byrd was off by even a tenth of an inch on the barograph recording, then his altitude would be off 18 percent, and that means his ground speed would be off by 18 percent. And he had the same chance for error every time he took a reading throughout the flight.” Changes in the atmosphere at different latitudes meant that Byrd’s calibration graph lost accuracy during the duration of the flight. Newsom calculated that this could have led Byrd to believe that he had reached the pole when he was still as much as 78 statute miles away, or caused him to overshoot the pole by as much as 21 statute miles.
As he wrote in the Polar Record paper: “This type of analysis by itself will not resolve any controversy over whether Byrd reached the pole. But it does indicate that he was considerably more likely to have ended up short of his goal than to have exceeded it.” Next, Newsom decided to test whether Byrd could have experienced strong tailwinds as he claimed, and to do that, the astronomer turned to an unbiased resource of his own: NOAA’s 20th Century Reanalysis dataset.
Using U.S. Department of Energy supercomputers, NOAA calculated likely atmospheric conditions all over the earth for every six hours between 1870 and 2010. The data used a computer model that calculated 56 plausible scenarios for every six-hour interval, and the results of the 56 model atmospheres were averaged together to arrive at the most likely conditions. The model winds did not appear consistent with what Byrd said, so Newsom examined each of the 56 scenarios individually, to see if even one of them allowed for strong tailwinds during the trip. They didn’t.
“For the most part, he probably had a headwind going north, and a tailwind going south. But there’s no evidence of the winds shifting as much as he described. Of course, the models are NOAA’s best guesses for what the conditions were that day, not an actual measurement, so Byrd could have had strong tailwinds just like he said. But the simulations suggest that if he did have strong tailwinds that day, he was very lucky.”
It’s easy to forget, he continued, how difficult and dangerous navigation was before modern altimeters and GPS. Byrd was under a tremendous amount of pressure: he’d overloaded the plane with fuel to make sure he and Bennett wouldn’t run out over the Arctic (they would likely have died in that circumstance), but the extra load made the plane hard to control; he had to calculate the plane’s location constantly for nearly sixteen hours, in a screaming-loud cockpit while worried about frostbite; and partway through the trip, one of the plane’s engines sprang an oil leak and seemed likely to stop working.
“That they returned at all is a major accomplishment, and the fact that they arrived back where they were supposed to—that shows that Byrd knew how to navigate with his solar compass correctly,” Newsom said. …
According to projectparanormal.com, “On February 19, 1947, Admiral Richard E. Byrd left Base Camp Artic and flew northward.” The site claims that when Byrd returned to Washington, on March 11, 1947, he was interviewed by top security forces and a medical team and was then ordered to remain silent.”
Posted by Xeno on April 5, 2013
A single-page FBI memo relaying a vague and unconfirmed report of flying saucers found in New Mexico in 1950 has become the most popular file in the bureau’s electronic reading room.
The memo, dated March 22, 1950, was sent by FBI Washington, D.C., field office chief Guy Hottel to then-Director J. Edgar Hoover.According to the FBI, the document was first made public in the late 1970s and more recently has been available in the “Vault,” an electronic reading room launched by the agency in 2011, where it has become the most popular item, viewed nearly 1 million times. The Vault contains around 6,700 public documents.
Vaguely written, the memo describes a story told by an unnamed third party who claims an Air Force investigator reported that three flying saucers were recovered in New Mexico, though the memo doesn’t say exactly where in the state. The FBI indexed the report for its files but did not investigate further; the name of an “informant” reporting some of the information is blacked out in the memo.
The memo offers several bizarre details.
Inside each saucer, “each one was occupied by three bodies of human shape but only 3 feet tall, dressed in metallic cloth of a very fine texture,” according to the report. “Each body was bandaged in a manner similar to the blackout suits used by speed fliers and test pilots.”The saucers were found in New Mexico because the government had a high-powered radar set up in the area and it is believed the radar interfered with the controlling mechanism of the UFOs, according to the informant.The FBI filed the typed page neatly away 63 years ago at its headquarters and “no further evaluation was attempted.”
The memo does not appear to be related to the 1947 case in Roswell, N.M., when Air Force officials said they recovered a UFO, only later to recant and say it was a research balloon.”For a few years after the Roswell incident, Director J. Edgar Hoover did order his agents – at the request of the Air Force – to verify any UFO sightings,” the FBI said Thursday.
“That practice ended in July 1950, four months after the Hottel memo. Suggesting that our Washington Field Office didn’t think enough of that flying saucer story to look into it.”
So, what’s the real scoop on this? Aliens? Russian scam?
Posted by Xeno on April 5, 2013
The cathedrals of Europe took centuries to build, surviving political upheavals for the benefit of future generations. Can a board game created today also last that long?
That’s what game designer Jason Rohrer was shooting for when he unveiled A Game for Someone, winner of the Game Design Challenge at the recent Game Developers Conference (GDC) in San Francisco.
Rohrer, who has created titles such as The Castle Doctrine, designed A Game for Someone for a challenge titled “Humanity’s Last Game,” which it won.
Rohrer’s new board game is meant to be played not by anyone alive today, but by people some 2,000 years in the future, assuming our species survives that long. To that end it has been buried somewhere in the Nevada desert, Polygon tells us.
“I wanted to make a game that is not for right now, that I will never play,” the website quoted Rohrer as saying, “and nobody now living would ever play.”
Inspired by the Mancala group of board games, A Game for Someone was tested in video game form by AI algorithms, and apparently Rohrer did not even play it himself.
It was designed to last through the ages, with the 18×18-inch board and silver cylindrical pieces machined from about 30 pounds of titanium.
The rules, which Rohrer has kept secret, were printed as diagrams on acid-free paper, sealed in a Pyrex tube, and housed in more titanium.
Rohrer then buried the game at a secret location in the Nevada desert, but kept the GPS location.
With dramatic panache, after describing the game he had GDC attendees open envelopes he had distributed. They contained a total of 1 million GPS coordinates.
“He estimates that if one person visits a GPS location each day with a metal detector, the game will be unearthed sometime within the next million days–a little over 2,700 years,” Polygon noted.
Anyone up for some game hunting? Who knows what else you’ll find buried out there. …
2,000 years? Not likely because about 353 years from now we find out that everything everywhere in the solar system can be searched without leaving your home by calculating the way light changes when it moves through a quantum “computer”. Anyone could then do a search of the physical Nevada desert from surface level down to 20 feet (that should do it) for a titanium signature mass between certain values.