Spaceflight, space junk, and the hunt for life in space – meet the experts in this month’s episode of R Science        
This month we’re going into outer space. We ask the experts if human space flight is worth the risk; find...
          How do you clean up 60 years of space junk?        
GREAT MOMENTS IN SCIENCE: There's 60 years of space junk floating around the earth's orbit crashing into itself. How do you clean it up?
          A Crash Course in Space Junk        
There is a floating museum above our heads: millions of fragments from past space missions are hurtling round the earth and could destroy our current satellites. We find out how spacecraft are coping now, and how we might be able to clean up space in the future. Plus, news of a synthetically engineered yeast genome, a breakthrough in OCD and a new ebola vaccine for gorillas.
          Golden Moments -5th International Meeting on Astronomy and Astronautics        
It's always been a pleasant experience cherishing past memories with great happenings. Even now, just a month and a week later, I can be happy going though my own flashback of 5th International Meeting on Astronomy and Astronautics held in Brazil. Blogging requires to be specific sometimes and in this post I will recall about some interesting happenings took place during the 3 days from 19th to 22nd of April 2012. You can always check about the pre-events that preceded the 5th International Meeting on Astronomy and Astronautics and also the event schedule/ program.

I had the pleasure of participating in the 5th International Meeting on Astronomy and Astronautics as an invited speaker as the president of the Mathematical & Astronomical Society of University of Colombo. Having arrived in Brazil for the first time, and being though my first 2 days in Brazil I was slowly having my lessons and learning about the culture and the people, who proved to be very dynamic, spontaneous and friendly as I was progressing with rest of the stay. The hospitality I received was amazing, Professor Marcelo was always making sure I was doing fine and helped me in whatever possible way he could have had, and later as I was traveling in some parts of the Brazil, it proved to be no exception, as the Brazilian hospitality I received was at its best.
My Visa for 5th International Meeting on Astronomy and Astronautics

Well, Let's get straight into the context, 5th International Meeting on Astronomy and Astronautics started on the 19th morning inside the cinema hall of the Shopping Boulevard in Campos dos Goytacazes. Saying something about the hosting city, which is usually referred to as Campos, it is located almost in the middle between the cities of Vitória and Rio de Janeiro, which are the metropolitan capitals of Brazilian states of Espirito Santos and Rio de Janeiro respectively. I think you would get to Campos in a 3-hour driver from Rio. In Brazilian Portuguese, Campos means fields and they say Gaytacazes is an Indian tribe that used to live in the area and hence the name Campos dos Goytacazes.

During the Opening Ceremony of 5th International Meeting on Astronomy and Astronautics at Shopping Boulvard, Campos dos Goytacazes, RJ, Brazil - People pictured from right to left are, Professor Marcelo Souza from Campos dos Gaytacazes, Brazil, Tamas Ladanyi from Hungary, Johannes Stübler from Austria, Andrea Sanchez-Saldias from Uruguay, Prasanna Deshapriya from Sri Lanka, Dirk Ross from Japan, Dimitri Gadotti from ESO,  Douglas -A representative of Shopping Boulevard, 2 other personnel from Campos dos Goytacazes city.

The audience at the same time: The audience consisted of students, teachers, and citizens of Campos dos Goytacazes

Professor Marcelo Souza, speaking at the opening ceremony
Here you can see the happy face of Professor Marcelo Souza, who is the chief organizer of 5th International Meeting on Astronomy and Astronautics. Also pictured is the Hungarian astro-photographer Tamas Ladanyi from the TWAN- The World At Night project.

Just before the start !
You may see here how crowded the cinema hall was getting just before the start of the opening ceremony. Here you can see Professor Marcelo and some of the members of the Luis Cruls astronomy club as well. I must mention that these guys did an awesome job behind the scenes with so much untiring efforts towards the success of the 5th International Meeting on Astronomy and Astronautics. Thus it is with great gratitude I mention them here for despite their young age they delivered really serious and tough work. I'm really happy to have enjoyed their company throughout my stay in Campos, not only during the meeting, but also prior and post to the event.

Tamas Ladanyi from Hungary - TWAN (The World At Night)
Here you see the first speaker of the 5th International Meeting on Astronomy and Astronautics, Tamas Ladanyi, an astrophotographer from Hungary who also works for the TWAN, specialized in the landscape photography.  During his session he showcased his experience with astrophotography, which was vivid with a lot of fine combinations of skies and landscapes. One of the interesting pieces of his work was the photograph titled in Spanish "Mira mira Mira" (Mira olha Mira em Português) where his daughter Mira, is looking at the red-giant star Mira (a star in the constellation Cetus).
Professor Marcelo performing the interpretation task during the astrophotography workshop of Tamas Ladanyi

During the evening of the second day he also conducted a workshop on using equipment/ gear for astrophotography, touching down many technical specs as well. Then he led an expedition into a darker and distant area of the city with Professor Marcelo to flee from the lights of the city to get involved with more hands-on activity, where he demonstrated exactly the very steps that one needs to follow in taking a decent photo of some celestial object with the inclusion of a landscape as well. I was able to join this expedition and get more insights into my understanding of this beautiful branch of astronomy. Below you will see a picture that Tamas made at the end of the observation session at this remote location, along with all the participants.
Have a thorough look at the southern skies  !!
Southern skies and the participants of the Tamas Ladanyi's workshop -  Tamas himself, Professor Marcelo Souza and Johannes Stübler from Austria are also presented in the picture. (Photo Credit : Tamas Ladanyi)
Me and Tamas Ladanyi
 The second speaker José Carlos Diniz, a Brazilian astronomer from Rio de Janeiro spoke about the difficulties that one must undergo when doing astronomy in Brazil as well as about some determined individuals who have proved themselves exceptional, still to continue practicing astronomy in Brazil despite the various issues. The humorous sense he developed whilst presenting himself added more vibe to his presentation bringing about the ideology of his talk "Astrophotography in Brazil, the victory of passion".

One of the funny slides of José Carlos Diniz  (Photo Credit : Johannes Stübler)
It was really inspirational as José went on to particularly mention how difficult it was for him and his colleagues to find dark areas for observations in Brasilia, the capital of Brazil and how they finally managed to find better areas in the end in the same vicinity with adventures mixed with huge passion, and love for the astronomy.

The next was the presentation of Johannes Stübler, the National Co-ordinator of AWB (Astronomers without Borders) from Austria. Johannes gave an account about his ambassador role in "Living the Idea", traveling from Linz, his home city in Austria across Jordan, Syria and Turkey, promoting the astronomy and trying to get more people, met on the road to look at the skies and get interested. I was convinced that it is a great coincidence that Johannes Stübler also comes from the same city that Johannes Kepler was once living, as I was gathering more information.
Astronomy Outreach - from Orient to Occident (Photo Credit : Johannes Stübler)
 As I had the chance of having the company of Johannes during the meeting, we were sometimes sharing our ideas and experiences and it was fascinating to hear about the AWB Beer they had in Austria for the GAM (Global Astronomy Month) and I think it shows the innovation and creativity, blended with popularizing astronomy among people.

A souvenir I received from Johannes Stübler
Me and Johannes Stübler, he presented me the gift of the raffle draw :)
 Here is another picture taken during the first day of the meeting. Pictured are José Carlos Diniz, Patrick - the Portuguese<>English interpreter throughout the meeting, Norma Reis from Brasilia, Brazil and Oscar Matsuura from São Paulo, Brazil. Look at the variety of people that astronomy could bring together !
Another picture, you add the caption for this !
Dimitri Gadotti, a Brazilian working at ESO in Chile, during his presentation
The talk about the life and work at ESO telescopes in Chile with a focus on E-ELT, ESO's newest challenge, by Dimitri Gadotti was interesting, and curious as I was wondering how they make such great missions possible. It was also my Why for ESO's preference on southern skies, as they produce a lot of sophisticated cutting-edge accessories and equipment in Europe and transport those all the way across Atlantic Ocean and further to Chilean deserts.

“Jorge Marcgrave in Dutch Brazil: his founder role in Astronomy of Brazil and of the New World” - This sounded different for me in the beginning, Dutch Brazil ? Well, as I was through the presentation of Oscar Matsuura, who is a veteran researcher based in São Paulo, Brazil, I managed to figure out answers to my puzzle. He spoke about the pioneering role of Jorge Marcgrave in astronomy in Dutch Brazil or Brasil holandês as it is said in Brazilian Portuguese and about the influence he had on the people of northern parts of Brazil when they were Dutch colonies. Although I've included the Wikipedia link about Jorge Marcgrave here, I'm more than sure the presentation of Oscar was more resourceful.
Oscar Matsuura, and me outside the Shopping Boulevard, Campos
Attendees for the 5th International Meeting on Astronomy and Astronautics waiting inside the Shopping Boulevard, You can also see the telescopes, multimedia, mobile planetarium, belonging to the Louis Cruls Astronomy Club.
Astronomy + Chess : I've always stumbled upon this game whenever I was out of Sri Lanka. I really don't know how I always find a connection with Chess and end up playing it, as the time permits. With me here is Laura from Louis Cruls Astronomy Club with a keen interest in astronomy.
The second day of 5th International Meeting on Astronomy and Astronautics continued at Campus Guarus do Instituto Federal Fluminense, a new location also close to the city center.

Dr. Robert Zubrin from United States during his presentation
First presentation in the morning was that of Dr. Robert Zubrin from Mars Society, US about the project "Mars Direct" which is an attempt to get the man to the red planet in no more than a decade. Dr. Zubrin particularly expressed his idea on why this should be done within a time frame of 10 years and no more. He was quite certain about the potential about the project and I think it wouldn't be too far away the day where there would be Mars colonies, probably within our lifetime provided all works out fine.

Professor Marcelo & Dr. Zubrin with Monique, Ana, Lucas & Hermerio - First Brazilian Crew in Mars Desert Research Station
Then followed the report of the first Brazilian crew in Mars Desert Research Station, a facility located in the US. The report was about the experiences of Lucas, Ana, Monique & Hermerio, 4 students of Louis Cruls Astronomy Club who had the chance of visiting Mars Desert Research Station and spending few days there under the crucial conditions, similar to those, to be faced in real exploration activities in Mars. The students were supposed to be crew members, who had different areas to undertake like, geologist, communicator, etc whilst during the stay at this facility. For example Ana, who was in charge of communications had to wait long hours for the feedback from Earth, taking into account the distance between the two planets after she has sent any message/ signal. I believe it was truly an inspiration to all the participants as the students shared their individual experiences. Professor Marcelo also thanked Dr. Zubrin for his involvement in this project and I reckon there would be more chances for the Brazilian students in the future.

One of the other interesting as well as curious sessions to follow was the presentation of meteorite hunter Dirk Ross from Yamaguchi University, Japan and AWB with the topic "Meteor/Meteorite Soup"
Here is Dirk Ross, as he presents on "Meteor/Meteorite Soup"
One of the facts that Dirk mentioned in his talk still echoes in my mind; he went on to say that there had been only few meteorites found in the Brazilian territories and provided the large size of the country, there could be many more meteorites to discover. Later I got to know that Dirk, himself led some expeditions on lookout for possible meteorites along with some other students, and the results were not positive though. Nevertheless I hope they enjoyed the expeditions.

Dirk is confronted by curious students after his talk !

Dirk Ross at his meteorite hunting workshop, Look at the meteorites on the table !
 I don't know how to relate what happened the following evening, We received the NEWS from locals that there had been a meteor crash close to Campos and someone had recorded it as well and had put the video up on Facebook. We were with Professor Marcelo and he was receiving a lot of calls, reporting about this so-called meteor crash. In a different sense it was funny that Dirk Ross had just delivered his presentation about meteorites during the day and he had just had conducted the workshop in the evening on how to look for and identify them, and few hours later we're receiving a lot of reports on meteorite sighting.
Professor Marcelo, Dirk, Andrea and me as we were receiving the HOT news !, Believe me, this kept us sleepless and awake till the early morning.

However later taking into account the information and all the possibilities, Dirk concluded it to be space junk, seen being burnt as it was entering the atmosphere. However it triggered some fuss and suddenly a lot of interest and attention was paid to what Dirk was trying to explain in his talks.
The Souvenir from Dirk Ross

Still on the second day there were many other sessions and activities too with the inclusion of variety of events both indoors and outdoors.
The areas discussed in the meeting were vivid, here you see Eugênio Reis talking about Sun and its life cycle

Eugênio Reis with students at his outdoor session on solar observation.

Norma Reis from Brasilia, talking about her work with scientific communication, her topic was “Teacher’s MEC Portal exemplified by the site “Astronomy, Astronautics and Space Science at the School”
Here you see Oswaldo Barbosa during his workshop session, he's specialized about rocket propulsion and is from ACRUX Aerospace Technologies based in São Paulo, Brazil.
Outdoor adventure with Oswaldo Barbosa
  Whenever there was a break between the sessions I always tried to talk to fellow speakers and students and learn more about what they do, for I was naturally driven with the curiosity. These times proved to be hard sometimes when I stumbled upon some students who hardly spoke any English. However the universal expression of smile was commonly shared despite the language barrier. Below is one such a situation.
Dirk Ross and me with some students
This is Gennady Saenko from ROSCOSMOS talking about "Russia in Space - Vision and Challenges"
Andrea Sanchez-Saldias from Universidad de La Republica – Uruguay, during her presentation of “Educational experiences in Uruguay (formal and non-formal)”
This is me with Adriano Leonês, who talked about “School in the Stars – Experiences and Reports of three years teaching astronomy”
This is me with Andrea and Claudio, I should mention the latter is a polyglot, believe me he spoke Greek as well, and was one of the interesting characters I got to know during the meeting. I'm putting this picture up because of this amazing guy although I look pretty terrible in the picture, don't look at me !
During my presentation, which was the last on the agenda.
I spoke about the outreach activities of astronomy in Sri Lanka, generally what we do here to popularize astronomy. In addition I also talked a bit about my astronomy career and how IYA2009 boosted my involvement with astronomy outreach. In the picture above, in the slide, I'm seen presenting the annual astronomy magazine "Sigma" of Mathematical & Astronomical Society to the staff adviser Professor Chandana Jayarathne at the 'Star Quest 2011' inter-school astronomy quiz competition held in May 2011. In fact this was a great milestone of my astronomy career as I was the editor of that publication. 

The amazing and promising team of Louis Cruls astronomy club, who were behind the organizing of the 5th International Meeting on Astronomy and Astronautics and bringing it to such a success. Kudos to all of them it was a great event !
It is with great gratitude I mention here Professor Marcelo Souza and his beloved wife Eponine. Professor Marcelo is a wonderful person with a great personality. His hospitality and friendliness is irresistible. Muito obrigado Marcelo por tudo. I humbly feel privileged to have known him.

          Argentina: Alleged UFO Over Quequén        

Source: Planeta UFO
Date: 06.26.2017

Argentina: Alleged UFO Over Quequén

Guillermo Giménez writes: "Today I received a message from Dolores Bernskov telling me '...that while she was writing in a WhatsApp group, I turned on the cellphone camera to show them what the weather was like. When I looked up, cellphone in hand, I saw this before my eyes. I pressed the button. The first thing I did was check the time - 8:56 a.m. on 25 June. [The object] was located over 521 corner with 554 in Quequén, bordering Necochea (Buenos Aires). It had staggered motion and vanished in the clouds. I was using a Samsung phone. This was about two blocks from where I live. They appeared to be high up. They suddenly zig-zagged and lost themselves in the clouds. It all happened very quickly.'

"It should be noted," Giménez continues, "that this would not be a meteorite, as these objects do not engage in zig-zag movements, nor is space junk, for the same reason, and cannot be an airplane. Therefore: What is it we are seeing in the picture? Two strange lights suspended in the air, playing with each other before vanishing? For the time being we are identifying these objects as UFOs in the strict sense of the term - unidentified flying objects captured by this resident of Necochea, a sighting that in her own words, 'gave me chills'.

Unidentified objects are visiting Argentina's Atlantic Coast once more.

[Translation (c) 2017, S. Corrales, IHU with thanks to Guillermo Giménez, Planeta UFO. Photo credit: Dolores Bernskov]
          Laidback Living on an Australian Rocket-Testing Range        

If you walk around the homestead at The Twins cattle ranch in outback Australia, it's hard not to think the people who live there might be a little odd. First, an old bomb shelter gives the impression someone was overly concerned about a Soviet nuclear attack, even though the 4,500-acre property is in one of the least populated areas on earth. Then there are the heads and tails of exploded rockets decorating the garden and lined up against the side of the house.

But Wayne Rankin, who runs the ranch, isn’t odd at all. His property is just on the Woomera Range Complex in South Australia where the British, U.S. and Australian militaries have tested all things that go boom for decades.

The bomb shelter was built for the family by the Australian government in the early 1960s. The Rankin family collection of wayward rockets that landed on the cattle station is evidence that this was not an overreaction.


“I remember as a child when Woomera fired rockets off in the early days, they used to have colored grenades in them,” says Rankin, 66, who grew up on the ranch, which is referred to as a cattle station in Australia. “I used to see a lot of different colors as the rockets went up.”

The Woomera Range Complex is considered the world’s largest military land base. At close to 50,000 square miles, it is about the size of Louisiana. However, much of that arid and flat land is leased to mining companies or pastoralists to run either cattle or sheep. That is why people like the Rankins technically live on the rocket range.


“It has been a good part of our lives, and it never did us any harm,” says Rankin. In the 1960s, when testing seemed to be at its peak, the family would get numerous phone calls from the military notifying them of an impending test. The first warning call would come a week out, then another one the day of and then another 20 minutes out, notifying the family to enter the bomb shelter. Often a plane would fly over the cattle and sheep stations to ensure people were out of the way.

“Sometimes, there might be a test at two in the morning, and we would have to straggle over to the bomb shelter,” says Rankin. As the rocket tests became part of their way of life, many pastoralists set up deck chairs on top of the bomb shelters to watch the light show instead of going in them. “We were all guilty of that,” Rankin says.


Atomic bombs, ballistic missiles and boosters for satellites have all been tested at the range since it opened in 1947, according to Wayne Reynolds, an associate professor of Australian military history. And it hasn’t been without controversy. Even though the government has officially declared the tests sites safe, some question whether the nuclear cleanup went far enough. There have also been accusations that not all indigenous Australians who lived in the area were notified when British atomic bombs were tested, according to an Australian Geographic article.

The range is still active today with the testing of drones, ground-based weapon systems and explosives, but it doesn’t provide the light show or rocket debris it once did. This year, the U.S. and Australian militaries successfully tested a hypersonic (extremely high speed) glider. Chinese buyers were also blocked from purchasing a large cattle station in the area due, in part, to national security fears.


“If they are letting off bombs, you will see a mushroom cloud come up south of us,” says Colin Greenfield, 45, who holds the lease for the 1.3 million-acre Billa Kalina cattle station. “It does happen in our backyard, it’s just that our backyard is very big.”

A few times a year, the Greenfields are evacuated for hours or days when a test takes place. There are also security checkpoints around the property that intensify during testing. “Because people have to get a permit to come to the area, it stops your average tourist or burglar who is up to no good,” says Greenfield. His bomb shelter also comes in handy as a storage unit.


Tests are generally planned to avoid peak pastoral and farming times such as mustering and sheep-shearing, according to an Australian Defence Force spokesperson. The Woomera range is divided into zones with the defense force having permanent access to what is known as the "red zone" and only accesses other zones when required.

Pastoralists are still finding bits and pieces of rockets, satellites, and weather balloon from those early tests, according to Trevor Wright. He owns a much celebrated pub in the six-person town of William Creek, a few miles outside of rocket range territory. Across the red dust road from the pub, the William Creek Hotel is a display of military and space junk found in the area.


“These rockets would end up head first in dried up lakes like a cartoon,” said Wright. “The cattle stations would go out and collect them, so as a community we decided to put up a display of rocket memorabilia.”

          the politics of objects & relations        
The objects versus relations debate has revved up again over at Larval Subjects, in the commentary responding to Levi Bryant’s Questions about the possibility of non-correlationist ethics. The debate, as I would describe it, circles around the following question: If we agree that traditional philosophy has been too centrally premised on the relationship between humans […]
          Space collisions could rise due to more CO2        
Fri, 2012-11-16 03:15

LONDON: More satellites and orbiting debris could collide in the upper atmosphere because a buildup of carbon dioxide (CO2) has reduced the “drag effect” which can eventually send some space junk back down to Earth, a study shows.
Over the past eight years CO2 concentrations in the upper atmosphere have risen from burning fossil fuels that have warmed the Earth’s surface and caused temperatures to increase, the study in the journal Nature Geoscience said.

Main category: 

          How Boeing plans to annihilate space junk        
NASA recently proposed that all that space junk stuck in the Earth's orbit could be eliminated with high-powered lasers. But now one Seattle-based Boeing engineer has another idea.
          ISPO:2013 - deel 1        

Als jij nu al wil weten wat er aan snowboards en kleding volgend seizoen in de winkels komt te staan of te hangen, dan is er 1 plek waar jij naartoe moet gaan: de ISPO in München. 5 Hallen staan vol met de nieuwste kleding, snowboards, longboards, skies, schoenen….. Alles wat je maar voor een goede wintersport vakantie denkt nodig te hebben.

En omdat jij misschien niet de tijd had om naar München toe te gaan, is Johnny 13 met zijn camera een aantal stands langs gegaan. Kijk mee bij Vans, Nitro Snowboards, Analog Cloting, K2 skis, Rome Snowboards en de Spacejunk Art Show.

Video Podcast by @johnnydertien

Kijk op de website of wordt een fan op Facebook! 

          Total Mix #05 - 17 de Outubro        


Bloco 1

1.Earth, Wind & Fire - September 2012
2.Eminem - Not Afraid
3.Carly Rae Jepson - Call Me Maybe
4.Nicki Minaj - Starships
5.Jessie J feat. David Guetta - Laserlight (Elmy Extended Mix)
6.Dim Chris feat. Amanda Wilson - You Found Me (Original Mix)
7.Fun ft Janelle Monae - We are Young (Squin & Ruud Remix)
7.Jonathan Mendelsohn - Till Tonight
8.Michael Brun - Rise [EXCLUSIVE VERSION]
9.PSY - Gangnam Style (ID Bootleg Mix)
10.Avicii - Last Dance (Original Mix)
11.Justin Bieber - As Long As You Love Me (Anndyk Bootleg)
12.Calvin Harris feat. Florence Welch - Sweet Nothing (eSQUIRE vs OFFBeat Remix)
13.Nause - Mellow w/Gotye - Somebody Used Know [Exclusive]
14.Wolfgang Gartner - Space Junk (Extended Mix)
15.Mac Zimms - My Feelings (Original Mix)

Clique Aqui Para Baixar!
Bloco 2 (Dj Jardel)

1.The Wanted - Chasing The Sun (Ollyver Remix)
2.Bob Sinclar - Groupie (Nick, Danny Chatelain Remix)
3.Swedish House Mafia - Save The World
4.Sander van doorn Vs. Axwell - Kangaroo In my Mind
5.Die Young (Liam Keegan Extended Mix)
6. Nicky Romero & Calvin Harris - Iron (Dyro Remix)
7.Will.I.Am ft. Eva Simons - This Is Love (Funk D Bootleg)
8.Deft Duo - Rebillion (Original Mix)
9.Swedish House Mafia - Dont You Worry Child (Landis Remix)
10. Kaskade Feat. Haley - Llove (Extended Mix)
          Party Mix #21 30 de Agosto        
1.NERVO - You're Gonna Love Again
2.Chuckie & Promise Land feat. Amanda Wilson - Breaking Up
3.Dïmitrï Vegas, Lïke Mike, Dada Lïfe ft. Tara McDonald - Tomorrow
4.Dim Chris feat. Amanda Wilson - You Found Me
5.Nause - Mellow
6.Alesso feat. Matthew Koma - Years
7.Calvin Harris & Sandro Silva - Feel So Epic (G-Ten & Stereo Speakers Bootleg)
8.Simon De Jano, Kim Lukas - One More Day (Nicola Fasano & Steve Forest Mix)
9.Wolfgang Gartner - Space Junk
10.Muttonheads feat. Eden Martin - Going Away (Bodybangers Remix)
11.NERVO vs. Hook N Sling - Reason
13.Fedde Le Grand - Put Your Hands Up For Detroit (ID 49 Remix)
14.Nari & Milani - Atom (Exclusive ID MashUp)

Bloco 2
1.Cuca feat. Winnie-lo - Dancing For our Lives (Club Mix)
2.J Quest - Tudo Está Parado (Cuca & Mister Jam Don't Stop Club Remix)
3.The Prodigy - Everybody In The Place (ID Remix)
4.Axwell feat. Steve Edwards - Watch The Sunrise (Roman Reef Remix)
5.Avicii Feat. Salem Al Fakir - Silhouettes (ID Remix)
6.Ellie Goulding - Lights
7.David Guetta feat. Sia - She Wolf (Michael Calfan Remix)
11.Dannic Vs. Sandro Silva & Quintino - Epic Pipeline (.Bruu! Mashup)
12.John Dahlback - Phoenix
14.Dada Life - Feed The Dada
15.Fatboy Slim - Star 69 (What the fuck) (Sabbyz 2k12 Radio Edit)

          How do you clean up 60 years of space junk?        
GREAT MOMENTS IN SCIENCE: There's 60 years of space junk floating around the earth's orbit crashing into itself. How do you clean it up?
          Cleaning up space junk        
The amount of junk in orbit is always increasing but cleaning it up is also essential for our future space operations, but it’s not going to be easy.
          How much space junk is out there?        
Space junk includes old satellites, spent rocket stages, dust from solid rocket motors and even coolant from obsolete Russian nuclear-powered satellites. But just how much is up there?
Vin Diesel is back as nocturnal space junkie Richard B. Riddick, attempting to revive yet another franchise from the early aughts. Can Diesel do it again? We give our review of Riddick and discuss why we think more sequels should or shouldn't happen. Also, we reveal news for Star Wars 7 and Independence Day 2, but mainly just talk Diesel.
          The Jigglybits Illustrated vol. 15        

Congenital (adj): With Jigglybits

I wish I had a witty headline, like “Bono’s bits and Aram’s pieces,” but I guess I do.

Perhaps the thing that excites me the most about the term “roller coaster” is the possibility of there one day being a hover coaster.

I hope the Martians land on St. Patrick’s Day. Then they’d think we’re cool.

I was woken up by some people clapping, cheering and ringing a cowbell every few seconds. It turns out there was a marathon going down the street, but at first, it was like I was being applauded for sleeping. It was great, because you always hear about people who feel bad after sleeping wrong. I did it right.

But perhaps the best part about having a marathon go by your house is staying inside and making omelets.

Eggos are gross, but they have a hell of an advertising campaign, so they get away with it. When that came out, I bet the people in charge of marketing beans were like, “Shit. We were so close. ‘Leggo my legume,’ that would’ve been perfect. We would’ve sold millions.” They did, but it was because they made the product very small.

And before you get really mad and think I’m saying God is in advertising, he is.

Wafers don’t really project the most accurate image. The church should cut a deal with Powerbar.

This is the church.

This is the steeple.

Open the door,


Funny Name:

Heh, heh. "Seth."

Seriously, though, even pornstars are thinking, “Try again, mate.”

Stanford was forced to change their team name from the Indians to the Cardinal. I think it’s a good move.


I wouldn’t fuck with 11 of that.

Their reasoning was that it’s offensive to Native Americans, and I have enough straight white man guilt to agree. We should be sensitive to the needs of others, and we shouldn’t stop at Stanford. Edmonton is next. I don’t personally take offense, but the Oilers must really piss off polar bears.

I considered buying a Prius, but the technology just isn’t there yet. It beeps when you reverse. I’m holding out for the model that plays Juvenile.

Wheel of Fortune, Same Name: “We’ve got dabut, we’ve got dabut, we’ve got dabut.” – The L80s Man

I still don't think I understand that category.

I’m pretty sure Noel Gallagher’s sheet music is a Mobius strip.

I get at least +7 nerd points for that.

As a musician, I don’t know how someone can listen to their own music while they fuck. That’s like Jedi narcissism.







I’d like a lady who wants to bang to Radiohead. Guess it’s time to start trolling the bipolar chatboards.

Btw, do lines ever work? Like are any women out there saying, “Hehe, thanks, but I didn’t fall from heaven. I came out of my mom’s vagina like everyone else. But you sure are nice, so let’s fuck.”

Strategically placed stickers:


I read the book of that. It was called 50 Shades of Rash.

I’m bringing sexy to wherever sexy wants to go. I’ll even pay. I’m a gentleman.

But then it has to put out.

I feel good about bringing sexy out because I know Timberlake will always be there to take it home at the end of the day. He’s like a DD, but only for sexy.

Fashion report: It appears that the tank top is making a comeback among sweaty motherfuckers who don’t care what they look like.

I have a farmer tan, but it’s not a very good one. It’s more like a guy who plants a couple tomatoes in the backyard that shrivel up and die when he doesn’t water them enough tan.

Ok, I give in. You can use the term Sacratomato if you agree to get dickslapped. It’s not even a good pun. If you want something that works, try

Sacramentos. It’s like that candy that seemed like a good idea in 8th grade, but now it’s mostly used to make shit blow up on YouTube. Come visit. It’s just like New York City if New York City was like Sacramento. Papa Roach was from about 50 miles away. And the circus has been here twice.

Problemas del mundo primero: Being able to get your steak cooked to temperature but not getting the same for tortillas.

I can’t be the only one who likes them medium-well.

Whenever there’s a new social media site, I join right away with my real name as my user name because I know that there’s at least one other person out there with my name, and if I get the chance to shaft a distant relative I’ll probably never meet, I will.

For those who slept through the '90s, here's how to make an online user name.

Step 1: Choose something you like.
Step 2: Choose a word or phrase that shows you like it.
Step 3: Choose the last two digits of your birth year. (This may be substituted by a number that shows you really like that thing you chose).
Step 4: Combine 1 through 3 with intentional disregard for grammar or dignity.


  • Surfingluvr82
  • Blazin4lyfe420
  • Penguinsgivemeboners77

And if you’re just getting into this because you’re tired of waiting for the computer fad to go away:

  • Crochetvillain187
  • Damitfeelzgood2bagramma69
  • Jesusismypimp54

I’m a client of a Christian financial planning company. That’s not very settling, putting responsibility for profit in the hands of religion.

Wait a minute.




It blows my mind that such a thing as a “gay district” still exists. Like they live in their own ghettos. Fabulous, fabulous ghettos.

Sorry. I’ll try to write jokes.

If your dinner requires three utensils and they are all spoons.

Sorry. I’ll try to write sentences.

Spooning leads to sucking if you have a root beer float.

I get slutty for ice cream.

Sometimes I think about getting a Thighmaster. Other times I think about koala bears.

I like coffee, but I like it to be strong, which is not how Americans typically drink it. I’ve been using this new method that’s kind of like what the Turkish do and kind of like what a crackhead would do if he were looking to change careers.


I personally can’t see how we don’t have more rehab programs that aim to reintroduce addicts into society as chemists. From an industrial perspective, these people have already demonstrated their skill set, not to mention their resourcefulness and go-getter attitude. You don’t need to pay them much. Just let them use the company restroom and occasionally sleep under their desk. Before long, Monsanto will have an ear of corn that resists all parasites, gets you high as balls and doubles as a food product for the inner city.

Jamba Juice would be way different if fruit could talk. Then again, so would most things.

“Knock knock.”

“Who’s there?”


“Shut the fuck up.”

I would try to convince it.

“But sir, you are delicious. Take one for the food chain?”

I was so upset when I found out that wasn’t what Aretha Franklin was talking about.

“Come on, man. My stomach is relaxing. It sits like a hammock. I know you people are into that.”


Screams would be a lot more appetizing.

And vegetarians would be murderers.

I was a kid once, and Mama never said, “Knock you out.” She’d usually say, “Eek! What are you doing? Go outside! You’re getting blood on the carpet!”

Btw, if you submitted something to The Jigglybits Magazine, I feel sorry for whoever has that email address.

Old fuck moment: I have little hope for this generation. I think there should be a rule that we don’t give nuclear weapons to anyone who listened to Justin Bieber.


Some babies sound like Chewbacca. Others look like him.

Was Chewy even a him? I don’t recall any space junk.

I want a dog that doesn’t look worried when it’s taking a shit. I don’t need that pressure.

Rene Zellweger appears to be forever practicing for her future role as spokeswoman for Depends.

If you get a giant zit on your chin, you look like a dork. But if you get a giant zit on your chin and you have a beard, you look like a superhero.

So, bloggers are journalists now. That means I have to report on shit. So, in case you didn’t see it, this was the Democratic National Convention:

And the Republican National Convention:


Both of which promote ball chin.

I get really tanned in the summer, but only the parts that see the sun. I don’t commit all the way. I’m albino curious. It’s enough that if I went to the South, I probably wouldn’t be allowed to masturbate.

Cucumbers aren’t cool unless they’re refrigerated.

I didn’t know the guy from Creed tried to kill himself. Huh.

I got an invitation from the Post Office to attend a stamp show. Just because I buy something does not mean I like it enough to go to a show. And where the shit are all the invitations to cheese shows?

Piewrit (n): 1. One who creates illegal pastry, 2. One who steals legal pastry, 3. The long awated sequel to Seabiscuit

It’s been a long time. I think The Muffin Man has to have moved by now. Motherfuckers don’t stick around like they used to.

The best hold music hands down goes to the DHHS. It’s kind of like if Yanni made porn.

Babies come from sex. So use a condom if you’re going to fuck a stork.

The more you know.

The freakier you get.

Names that could also be things you have to pay extra for:


British translation:


Jack Skellington on weed: “I am the sofa king!”

I’m waiting for society to wake up one day and say, “Cats? WTF were we thinking?”

I saw a bumper sticker that just said, “Jesus is coming,” and then it had a phone number. I need three things:
1. A company that makes custom bumper stickers
2. The number of a gay Mexican phone sex line
3. A coke


It’s too hot for clothes. Neighbors, I’m sorry.

Or you’re welcome.

Problemas del mundo primero:


Sorry. I get kinda douchey when I get political.

Btw, republicans, is that still an ok ladybits action?


Mak-a me nervous.

I asked my friend, Amanda, if I could call her “Amandapanda,” and she refused. Anyone who doesn’t accept the nickname “Amandapanda” doesn’t know what cute is.

“Hey, hot stuff. What’s your name?”
“Jeff. But you can call me ‘Amandapanda.’”

Robin: “Amandapanda has unleashed her forces all over Gotham!”
Batman: “It’s like the cutest infestation ever.”

The superhero world seems a bit catty and insecure. Everyone is trying to one-up each other.



Man, Fighter 2 Turbo Hyper Fighting


If you haven’t seen the new Batman, Bain is voiced by Sean Connery going down on ProTools.

I’ve seen enough superhero movies to know what they’re doing. It’s all marketing. Next summer we’ll have another movie.


I heard a bit of this new song, maybe you can help me out. It goes something like:

I just met you.
And this is crazy.
But here’s my number.
I want to fuck you like an animal.

“My life needs to be more G rated… The world scares me :(” – my Mormon friend

Maybe I should start deleting people.

I’m a writer, which means I don’t have health insurance. I was walking across my kitchen the other day, when my knee started hurting. I immediately thought of all the shit I didn’t do. I didn’t exercise, so that was out. I didn’t take the lord’s name in vain.

Wait. Fuck. I did. That’s kinda what I do. There is a god. And he strikes about 24 inches from the floor. If you live on the second floor. People, if you value your ligaments, you’d better start going to church. It’s too late for me. But that’s ok. I’m pretty sure they can replace what’s broken with a part from a dead pig.

I still get CareerBuilder emails because I’m lazy about unsubscribing, and the most recent one offered a position as a bath fitter, which is odd because I don’t.

That joke is only funny if you’re over 6 feet tall. And if you aren’t, using the top shelf is like sex.

Names that could also be things you have to pay extra for:


Some companies get a bit too dramatic with their phone numbers. I saw a carpeting truck that said in big, red letters: CALL 499-HELP. This could lead to potentially fatal misunderstandings. Someone who is in legit trouble dials for help, and they get carpeting. At least they make same week appointments. That can’t be entirely bad.

I think I just wrote a 1970s porno.

I shall call it “Chick-fil-A.”

I like how some things are named after their creators: Allen Wrench, Mendelevium, Rubik’s Cube. I’m pretty sure that whenever Kevlar makes the news, some dude named Kev is going, “Yes! That’s my-lar!”

They can’t all be winners. If the Olympics taught us one thing, it’s that swimmers Nair.

Names that could also be things you have to pay extra for:


I got a smartphone, which I highly recommend because you can make your own ringtone. I made one that’s the sound of my phone on vibrate. It’s just like having it on vibrate, but it doesn’t move. I have a very sensitive upper thigh.

Plus I like to have people answer my phone as a practical joke, like a joy buzzer that doesn’t buzz.

“Hey, would you get that?”

“Um, dude, it’s in your pocket.”

“Trust me, you’re going to like this.”

It works great on the elderly.

I don’t have a microwave. If I did, I would record the ding and make it my ringtone in order to give those around me false hopes.

“Dammit, Bono. Fooled me again. I thought I was about to get a burrito.”

The microwave burrito is its own first aid. You just have to keep eating.

Shopping list:

  • Milk
  • Milk
  • Lemonade

There’s more, but I’ll have to go somewhere else.

Linguistics fans: “Jason Statham” backwards spells “butt sex.”

That’s the formula for Pig Italian.

Have you found Jesus? If so, we could totally make a killing.

Partial Sentences Taken Out of Context:


I saw a woman walking down the street wearing an “I < 3 ME” shirt. But I’m skeptical. I doubt she’s ever been to Maine.

This month’s installment of Not a Porn Site:

I’m awkward at goodbyes. I have a hard time gauging whether the situation calls for a handshake or a hug.

So I hump their leg. 

          Rocket blasts off with U.S. ‘neighborhood watch’ spy satellites        

An unmanned Delta 4 rocket blasted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on Monday with a pair of U.S. military satellites designed to keep watch on other countries’ spacecraft.

The 206-foot (63-meter) tall rocket, built by United Launch Alliance, a partnership of Lockheed Martin and Boeing, lifted off at 7:28 p.m. EDT and blazed through partly cloudy skies as it headed into orbit, a United Launch Alliance live webcast showed.

Launch of two satellites for the U.S. Air Force’s recently declassified Geosynchronous Space Situational Awareness Program, or GSSAP, had been slated for July 23, but was delayed one day to resolve a technical issue with ground support equipment and then three more times by poor weather.

Once in orbit, the GSSAP satellites, built by Orbital Sciences Corp, will drift above and below a 22,300-mile (35,970-km) high zone that houses most of the world's communications satellites and other spacecraft.

General William Shelton, head of Air Force Space Command, likened GSSAP to a “neighborhood watch program” that will keep tabs on other countries’ satellites.

The program "will bolster our ability to discern when adversaries attempt to avoid detection and to discover capabilities they may have which might be harmful to our critical assets at these higher altitudes," Shelton said during a speech in February that unveiled the once-classified program.

GSSAP also will track orbital debris, which could pose a threat to operational satellites. Current ground-based radar systems and telescopes can monitor objects that are bigger than about 4 inches (10 cm) in diameter. The trash includes spent rocket bodies and the remains of a satellite that China exploded in 2007 as part of a widely condemned anti-satellite missile test.

The Air Force currently tracks about 23,000 pieces of space junk.

Costs and technical details of the GSSAP program were not released. The rocket also carries a small secondary satellite that will be used for engineering tests.

The Air Force mission bumped NASA’s debut test flight of its Orion deep space capsule, which also will fly on a Delta 4 rocket. NASA’s launch is now targeted for December.

(Reporting by Irene Klotz in Mojave, California; Editing by Eric Walsh)

          Re: Space Junkies Magazine Toni Iommi CD        
Wow, this is kicking it back a few! For those interested in my new work, please visit me at!

Previous In Thread
          Gecko-inspired robot has grippers that could clean up space junk        
Hundreds of thousands of pieces of debris orbit our planet. A device that sticks to space junk like a gecko’s toes might be able to help clear them up
          NASA managers discuss fragmentation risks as UARS heads back to Earth        

- As NASA’s defunct Upper Atmospheric Research Satellite (UARS) continues to head towards its death – which will result in re-entry around September 23 – NASA managers have discussed ways of improving their fragmentation models for future returning spacecraft, with the aim of reducing the the debris footprint for hardware which may threaten to survive entry. Full story:

* The Sky is Falling As UARS Drops In... 7-ton NASA satellite set to fall... Scientists warn NASA to deal with space junk... US: 'Too Bright' Meteor Streaks Over Atlanta Skies... Video: Meteorite soars over Peru... Fact following fiction? Scientists plan mission to blow up an asteroid 'hurtling towards Earth'... Massive Meteorite Found in China... A rare direct hit from a meteorite... U.S. Must Be Ready to Meet Asteroid Threat, White House Science Adviser Says...Cdn and American astronauts want world to start getting ready for asteroids...Our terrifyingly crowded solar system: New video reveals just how many asteroids are out there... Mysterious object or planet moves over the sun on SOHO imagery...Gigantic hidden planet could be hurling comets at the rest of the solar system:

          That mysterious southwest streak? Probably a fireball        

- The streak of light that blazed across southwestern U.S. skies and stoked burning curiosity across the social media landscape was probably a tiny and bright meteor known as a fireball, a NASA spokeswoman said Thursday. Full story:

* The Sky is Falling As UARS Drops In... 7-ton NASA satellite set to fall... Scientists warn NASA to deal with space junk... US: 'Too Bright' Meteor Streaks Over Atlanta Skies... Video: Meteorite soars over Peru... Fact following fiction? Scientists plan mission to blow up an asteroid 'hurtling towards Earth'... Massive Meteorite Found in China... A rare direct hit from a meteorite... U.S. Must Be Ready to Meet Asteroid Threat, White House Science Adviser Says...Cdn and American astronauts want world to start getting ready for asteroids...Our terrifyingly crowded solar system: New video reveals just how many asteroids are out there... Mysterious object or planet moves over the sun on SOHO imagery...Gigantic hidden planet could be hurling comets at the rest of the solar system:

          Saint Louis Science Center - Space Junk & Star Trek: The Exhibition Combo - Only $9 for $18 value!        

A fun family outing - a film & an exhibit!

Space Junk & Star Trek: The Exhibition Combo

Space Junk is a visually explosive, sensory-expanding voyage into the now threatened Final Frontier. In the film, viewers will experience mind-boggling collisions, both natural and manmade, and soar from the stunning depths of Meteor Crater in Arizona to an unprecedented view of increasingly crowded orbits -- 22,000 miles above Earth.

Appearing for the first time in St. Louis, Star Trek: The Exhibition, brings 45 years of authentic Star Trek artifacts to life. Featuring one-of-a-kind costumes, props and filming models from every Star Trek television series and feature film, this exhibition will amaze and inspire Star Trek fans and novices alike. Learn how the series has influenced and inspired present-day science and technology. Explore Captain Picard’s Quarters from Star Trek: The Next Generation and strike your best James T. Kirk pose in the captain’s chair on a recreation of the USS Enterprise bridge. Boldly go explore Star Trek: The Exhibition at the Saint Louis Science Center!

Monday-Saturday: 9:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Sunday: 11 a.m - 4:30 p.m.
Saturday Hours: Star Trek: The Exhibition only
9:30 a.m. - 7 p.m.

On Saturdays, Star Trek: The Exhibition will stay open late. The rest of the building, including the James S. McDonnell Planetarium, will close at 4:30. After 5 p.m., evening rates for the exhibition apply and parking is free.

If you plan to visit Friday-Sunday, please call 314.289.4424 to reserve tickets as showtimes may sell out.

* All films have a 45 minute running time.

          Mantis Radio 101 + Imaginary Forces        


Mantis Radio 101 + Imaginary Forces

Automatic Tasty – Over The Hill [Lunar Disko]
Mat Lionis – Src Kinases [dub]
Withering Zithering – Recombinant Organism [Acre Recordings]
Withering Zithering – Looking At And Looking For [Acre Recordings]
COVA – Batria [Terrain Ahead]
Ukkonen – Tresgradus [Uncharted Audio]
Slam – Groovelock (Deepchord Centrum remix) [Soma Records]
Anodyne – Bs-6 [Acroplane]
Machine Gun Militia – Machine Gun Skank [Oeuvre] Ingen – Subway [dub]
Bran Lanen – Soul Over Mechanics [Cicuta Netlabel]
Voidloss – Diaphanous Fever of Dreams [Singularity]
David Meiser – Waves of Pressure [mental remake] [dub]
Warlock – Space Junk [Rag and Bone]
Lighter Thief – Like Dat (Kirk Degiorgio remix) [beardman]
Radical G – Shadowdancing (_Unsubscribe_ remix) [The Public Stand]
Moony – Blast [Ghost House Records]
Deset – Crisis V.I.P [Ghost House Records]
George Lanham – This Sceptical Isle [The Zone Records]
Warlock – No Half Measures [Rag and Bone]
MOTOR – Man Made Machine (Extended) [CLR]

Imaginary Forces – Live Improvisation
Karl O’Connor + Mick Harris – We Can Elude Control
Coil – Strange Birds
Autechre – Perlence Subrange 6-36
William S Burroughs – Wonderful Copenhagen
Kenneth Kirschner – 100810
Sleeparchive – 10 Years, 3 Beers, 3 Albums And No Seat
Ilpo Väisänen – Asumaton
Antti Rannisto – Ääniesineitä 7
Pan Sonic – Corona
Sleeparchive – 10 Years, 3 Beers, 3 Albums And No Seat
Imaginary Forces – Återstående Laddning
Imaginary Forces – Materia Flöde
Imaginary Forces – Kall Luft
Imaginary Forces feat Matthew Saw – Slutvinjett
Imaginary Forces – Låg Flex

          Piece of UFO or Space Junk in Siberia?        
Today’s mystery is this piece of “space junk” that fell out of the sky in a small Siberian village in Russia. Russian space officials deny that it’s any part of their space program — secret or mainstream. It doesn’t show any stress or burns from heating or scorching from re-entry at all. I thing it’s […]
          Space Station Astronauts Take Shelter From Space Junk        
Astronauts at the International Space Station were forced to seek emergency shelter from a piece of space junk on Thursday.
          UK engineers developing harpoon that could help space junk meet a fiery end        

UK engineers developing harpoon that could help space junk meet a fiery end

Sure, we can pull space junk out of orbit with lasers or use it to cobble together new satellites, but if engineers at space firm Astrium UK have their way, space trash could be disposed of with the help of harpoons. Currently in a conceptual stage, the system is designed to shoot defunct satellites or other debris with a harpoon mounted on a "chaser satellite" and use a tethered propulsion pack to send the rubbish in an atmospheric descent where it'll burn up. Since the projectile could shoot straight through targets and result in even more garbage, it's been fashioned with a crushable portion to reduce its speed upon impact. There's no concrete word on when the outfit's solution might be put in action, but they'll present their work on Wednesday at the 63rd International Astronautical Congress in Naples (Italy, not Florida, mind you). If you can't wait to see the harpoon at work, head past the break to catch tests of an Earth-based prototype.

Via: Ars Technica

Source: BBC

          Salvage Law in the Space Age        
Much of the Apollo hardware that brought astronauts to the moon never returned to the Earth. Pieces of Saturn V rockets and one lunar module are orbiting the Earth or Sun, having been jettisoned en route to and from the Moon. One such example is the "mystery object," J002E3. It's a piece of space junk that NASA is pretty certain must be the third stage of Apollo 12's Saturn V rocket. Discovered by an amateur astronomer in 2002, it was originally assumed to be just another asteroid. But then astronomers charted its crazy orbit for a little over a year:

Asked if J002E3 might be an alien spaceship, a NASA official responded, "if it is, the aliens aren't good pilots."
Source: NASA.

And they realized that the object must have been captured by Earth's gravity relatively recently; an orbit like that wouldn't persist over a long period of time. Further, a reading of the spectrum of sunlight reflected off J002E3 indicated it was white... in fact, painted white with the titanium dioxide based paint that was used on the Saturn Vs. Calculating its orbital pattern back in time indicated that it had likely entered an unstable Earth orbit sometime around 1971. But since all Apollo 13 and 14 hardware is accounted for,* it seemed it must be from a slightly earlier flight.

* There's a chance it's one of the panels that covered the Apollo 14 lunar module en route to the moon, but the color is wrong so probably not.

Apollo 12: the bit orbiting the Earth.
Source: NASA.

That's how NASA concluded that J002E3 is most likely the third stage of Apollo 12's Saturn V. But why did that rocket end up as a mystery object in an erratic orbit? The Apollo 12 mission plan was for the astronauts to jettison the nearly used up third stage on the way to the moon. After jettisoning it, Mission Control would remotely triggered the stage to ignite and burn up the last little bit of remaining fuel, powering the rocket into a stable solar orbit. Something must have gone wrong with that final burn, and this is the result.

Apollo 13, on the launch pad.
Source: NASA.

Reading about this Apollo relic got me thinking: what would happen if an interplanetary salvage crew towed the third stage back to Earth to sell it to the highest bidder? Apollo artifacts bring good money, especially those that actually flew in space. Once commercial spaceflight really gets underway, what is stopping folks from salvaging and selling Apollo gear left in outer space? Well, it turns out that would be illegal... Apollo-era rocket parts left in outer space are the property of the U.S. government.

An F-1 rocket nozzle on the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.
Source: Bezos Expeditions.

A few months ago Amazon founder Jeff Bezos sponsored a space age fishing expedition: Bezos Expeditions located, and then salvaged, parts of Apollo 11's engines from the Atlantic Ocean.  These engines ("F-1" engines), powered the first stage of the Saturn V rocket that propelled Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins to the moon. News accounts of the marine salvage operation (which was no small feat- the engines recovered were more than three miles underwater!) noted that the engines were still U.S. government property. That's clearly true under international law: Article VIII of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, which the United States has ratified, states that objects launched into space remain the property of the treaty signatory state that originally registered the object. This is true regardless of where the property is located.

Cleaning off an F-1 Rocket.
Source: Bezos Expeditions.

The Apollo relics that Bezos recovered are also U.S. government property under maritime law. Since NASA didn't abandon its claim to the F-1 rockets, they are still NASA property, even under several miles of water. This principle was recognized in U.S. federal court, in a case before a U.S. Court of Appeals in 1992 (U.S. v. Richard Steinmetz 973 F.2d 212 (3rd Cir. N.J. 1992)). The court held that the bell recovered off a sunken Confederate States of America warship remained property of the United States, even after it was salvaged from the wreck.

Part of a Saturn V rocket.
Source: Bezos Expeditions.

The decision's author, Judge Dolores Sloviter, seems at times to be making only a modest effort to reign in her excitement at writing on such a Clive Cussler worthy topic. Her opinion (available here, and definitely worth a read) delves enthusiastically into the full tale of the warship, the C.S.S. Alabama. It's quite a story!

From 1862-1864, the C.S.S. Alabama roamed the seven seas, sinking Union merchant ships. Then she was sunk in battle off the coast of France in 1864. Her bell was recovered by a British wreck diver in the 1930s, who sold it to a London pub, in exchange for unlimited drinking privileges. A few years later, the pub was destroyed in the blitz. When the bell was dug up from the rubble of the pub, it was sold and resold a few times before ending up in the possession of the antiques dealer who became the target of the U.S. government's lawsuit.

French impressionist Edouard Manet painted the scene of the Alabama's final battle.
Source: Wikipedia.

As for Judge Sloviter's legal analysis... her conclusion is firmly rooted in maritime law and longtime international practice. The United States government (the successor to the bell's original owner, the Confederate States of America) did not deliberately abandon the wreck and bell. Previous Supreme Court cases had held that some explicit statement of abandonment, maybe even congressional action, is necessary for the U.S. government to relinquish legal ownership. Since no abandonment occurred, the bell remained federal property.

C.S.S. Alabama. It looks like a sailing ship, but it also had a steam-driven propeller.
Source: Wikipedia.

Judge Sloviter goes on to explain that maritime salvage law isn't always quite that simple; older U.S. naval vessels (i.e., pre-Civil War era ships) are sometimes considered abandoned because of the long passage of time. But U.S. government property that was sunk in oceans after 1860 is pretty clearly still U.S. government property.

Apollo 11, post-splashdown.
Source: NASA.

So, under international law and maritime law, all Apollo hardware launched into space is U.S. government property, regardless of where it eventually ends up. Does that mean the U.S. National Park Service can set up a new national park on the moon, preserving for posterity the Apollo landing sites? I will answer that question in my next post! :-)

Sources: Bezos Expeditions; The Space Review; U.S. v. Richard Steinmetz 973 F.2d 212 (3rd Cir. N.J. 1992); 1967 Outer Space Treaty; NASA.
          The Skeptics Guide #597 - Dec 17 2016        
Forgotten Superheroes of Science: Barbara Liskov; News Items: Trust of Scientists and GMOs, Cryogenic Energy Storage, Deorbiting Space Junk; What's the Word: In Situ; Your Questions and E-mails: Premium Gas, Porn Follow Up; Science or Fiction
          The Skeptics Guide #352 - Apr 14 2012        
This Day in Skepticism: Titanic Disaster; News Items: Blow Up Space Junk, Aristolochia Nephropathy, Homophobia, Toilet Water, Monkey Bill Update; Who's That Noisy; Your Questions and E-mails: Grover's Algorithm, Gulf of Cambay Ruins; Science or Fiction
          The Skeptics Guide #293 - Feb 23 2011        
Guest Rogue: Joshie Berger; This Day in Skepticism: Galileo Censored; News Items: Internet Kill Switch, Japan to Trawl for Space Junk, Watson on Jeopardy!, Lie to Me; Who's That Noisy; Your Questions and E-mails: Lost Information; Science or Fiction
          The Skeptics Guide #144 - Apr 23 2008        
Interview with Simon Singh; News Items: Man Raised from Dead, Politics of Vaccines, Penis Theft Panic; Your Questions and E-mails: Oldest Plant, The SGU Drinking Game, Space Junk, Brain Gym; Science or Fiction
          Library: A Round-up of Reading        
Space Law An Asteroid Impact Will Someday Be Mistaken for an Act of War – Motherboard NEOSSat Not Up to the Job; Government Report Blames Contractor – Commercial Space Blog Space junk damages ISS US segment – Space Travel The New Asia Space Dream – Space News Editorial | Another Continuing Resolution Looms for NASA […]
          Space Pollution: Is Our Space Safe?        
Collision Dangers Resulting From
Orbiting Satellites, Debris and Space Junk
300,000 Hazardous Objects Orbiting Earth

A Russian and a US satellite crashed into each other in an unprecedented collision unleashing clouds of space debris that could threaten orbiting spacecraft, officials said.

After more than five decades of human activity in space, the news raises fresh concern over the swarms of hazardous debris orbiting the Earth.

A 2008 report by the international monitoring group Space Security Index found that 300,000 objects measuring between 0.4 and four inches (one and 10 centimeters) in diameter and "billions" of smaller pieces orbit the Earth.

Some 6,000 satellites have been sent into space since the Soviet Union launched the first man-made orbiter, Sputnik 1, in 1957. About 800 satellites remain in operation, according to STRATCOM.
Read Article...

          So I begin... travels in to a wonderful, strange, new world full of iPodites, MySpace junkies, Flickr fanatics and even the odd clingon!! Woohoo... exciting....
          What Channel is NASA TV on DIRECTV?        
NASA TV can be found on Channel #346 on the DIRECTV Channel Guide. If you are a space junkie and NASA TV is a must, then you will want to know what DIRECTV packages carry this channel. Below are the different ones which have the channel included. Entertainment Choice Choice Extra Choice Ultimate Premier If you enjoy outer space and everything that comes along with it from rocket launches, astronauts, space observation and more, then NASA TV is for you. This channel will broadcast the latest NASA missions and activities, all in real time. You can also get access to tons of educational programming, as well as revisit missions  and other cool aspects of NASA from the past. Just some of the cool programming you can expect to see on this channel
          Comment on Space Junk: collision imminent by Rich Dubielzig        
The flypaper idea doesn't sound so silly to me. If the ISS can snag and salvage junk satellites, that's a big cost savings against launching raw materials from the ground. Surely there must be spare propellant, power supplies and working solar arrays on these things that could be put to good use.
          The Present is the Future of the Past        
The Perfume of Garbage: an archaeology of the world trade centers (pdf). What do the the godfather of garbology, a leading post-modern archaeological theorist (blog), and a "space archaeologist"(cf. space junk) think about the WTC? Obviously as a ruin and as an archaeological site - but much more. An intriguing analysis placing the WTC ruins into archaeological context, and, most particularly, responding to the Smithsonian's exhibition of artifacts from the events of September 11, 2001. Also, a commentary (pdf) responding to garbage, space and the WTC. And yes, garbology goes well beyond Mick Jagger ephemera.
          Duck and Cover, Quantum Computing and Kurzweil Interview        
Duck your head! Astronomers say it may be space junk or it could be a tiny asteroid, too small to cause damage even if it hit. It’s 33 to 50 feet wide at most. NASA says that on Wednesday at 7:47 a.m. EST, it will streak by, missing Earth by about 80,000 miles. In the […]
          abcstarstuff: How to catch a satellite Standard space dockings...        


How to catch a satellite

Standard space dockings are difficult enough, but a future ESA mission plans to capture derelict satellites adrift in orbit. Part of an effort to control space debris, the shopping list of new technologies this ambitious mission requires is set for discussion with industry experts.

ESA’s Clean Space initiative is studying the e.DeOrbit mission for removing debris, aiming to reduce the environmental impact of the space industry on Earth and space alike.

Decades of launches have left Earth surrounded by a halo of space junk: more than 17 000 trackable objects larger than a coffee cup, which threaten working missions with catastrophic collision. Even a 1 cm nut could hit with the force of a hand grenade.

The only way to control the debris population across key low orbits is to remove large items such as derelict satellites and launcher upper stages.

Such uncontrolled multi-tonne items are not only collision risks but also time bombs: they risk exploding due to leftover fuel or partially charged batteries heated up by orbital sunlight.

The resulting debris clouds would make these vital orbits much more hazardous and expensive to use, and follow-on collisions may eventually trigger a chain reaction of break-ups.

e.DeOrbit is designed to target debris items in well-trafficked polar orbits, between 800 km to 1000 km altitude. At around 1600 kg, e.DeOrbit will be launched on ESA’s Vega rocket.

The first technical challenge the mission will face is to capture a massive, drifting object left in an uncertain state, which may well be tumbling rapidly. Sophisticated imaging sensors and advanced autonomous control will be essential, first to assess its condition and then approach it.

Making rendezvous and then steady stationkeeping with the target is hard enough but then comes the really difficult part: how to secure it safely ahead of steering the combined satellite and salvage craft down for a controlled burn-up in the atmosphere?

Several capture mechanisms are being studied in parallel to minimise mission risk. Throw-nets have the advantage of scalability – a large enough net can capture anything, no matter its size and attitude. Tentacles, a clamping mechanism that builds on current berthing and docking mechanisms, could allow the capture of launch adapter rings of various different satellites.

Harpoons work no matter the target’s attitude and shape, and do not require close operations. Robotic arms are another option: results from the DLR German space agency’s forthcoming DEOS orbital servicing mission will be studied with interest.

Strong drivers for the platform design are not only the large amount of propellant required, but also the possible rapid tumbling of the target – only so much spin can be absorbed without the catcher craft itself going out of control.

Apart from deorbit options based on flexible and rigid connections, techniques are being considered for raising targets to higher orbits, including tethers and electric propulsion.

TOP IMAGE…One capture concept being explored through ESA’s e.Deorbit system study for Active Debris Removal - capturing the satellite in a net attached to either a flexible tether (as seen here) or a rigid connection. Copyright ESA

CENTRE IMAGE…Simulations of orbital debris show that actively removing large items of debris, such as entire derelict satellites, should help stabilise its population and prevent a collision-based cascade effect. ESA has performed a system study for an Active Debris Removal mission called e.Deorbit. Copyright ESA

LOWER IMAGE…All human-made space objects result from the near-5000 launches since the start of the space age. About 65% of the catalogued objects, however, originate from break-ups in orbit – more than 240 explosions – as well as fewer than 10 known collisions. Scientists estimate the total number of space debris objects in orbit to be around 29 000 for sizes larger than 10 cm, 670 000 larger than 1 cm, and more than 170 million larger than 1 mm.

Any of these objects can cause harm to an operational satellite. For example, a collision with a 10 cm object would entail a catastrophic fragmentation of a typical satellite, a 1 cm object will most likely disable a spacecraft and penetrate the International Space Station shields, and a 1 mm object could destroy subsystems. Scientists generally agree that, for typical satellites, a collision with an energy-to-mass ratio exceeding 40 J/g would be catastrophic. Copyright ESA

          Ron Howard shows off space junk in latest tweets from Han Solo set         

It looks like the Millennium Falcon won’t be the only bucket of bolts in Lucasfilm’s untitled Han Solo movie.

Director Ron Howard shared his latest Twitter dispatch from the set of the Star Wars anthology film Thursday, glimpsing some rusted metal in an unknown location “where old speeders go to die.”

He also offered a behind-the-scenes look at crane shot combining practical effects and green screen.

Howard has been tweeting a steady but discreet stream of backstage photos and videos since replacing co-directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller in June, including peeks at Chewbacca’s family, Lando Calrissian’s wardrobe, and a stubborn droid.

The Han Solo movie stars Alden Ehrenreich as Han, Donald Glover as Lando, Woody Harrelson as a mentor figure, and Emilia Clarke as an unknown character. It’s due May 25, 2018.

          Landsat 8 Launches Successfully!        
The title of this post could actually be "Live video of Landsat launch blows my mind". Landsat was launched atop a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V 401 rocket with live video coverage from aboard the rocket throughout the various stages of the launch streaming to the web for anyone to watch. The best part of the coverage was the end, when a camera on the rocket booster showed the separation of Landsat 8 from the booster, with a backdrop of the rising sun above a crescent Earth. See for yourself, and just try to hold your jaw closed:

Here are some amazing facts about our Universe (as a whole, because I'm slowly-but-surely becoming more drunk as this blog progresses. go organizational skills!):

- Tonight, when the sun goes down look up. Depending on how dark it is outside you can probably see several thousand stars up there, all of which come from our own galaxy, the Milky Way. If you look a bit closer though, you might be able to spot one of only a few galaxies other than our own that is visible with the naked eye.

- If this makes you feel small, it should, because scientists estimate that there are hundreds of billions more galaxies in the universe, none of which you can see without a telescope. Moreover each one of these galaxies has billions of stars which brings the grand total number of stars in the universe to 10 billion trillion which is 10 followed by 21 zeros. Thats more stars than the number of grains of sand on the Earth.

- All the stars, galaxies, and black holes in the universe only compose about 5% of its mass. As crazy as it sounds, the other 95% is unaccounted for. Scientists decided to label this mystery material “dark matter” and to this day they are still not sure where or what it is.

Say Whaaaaaat?!

- For those of you considering opening your own pubs, there is probably no place better than Sagittarius B. Although it is 26,000 light years away this interstellar cloud of gas and dust contains over a billion billion billion liters of vinyl alcohol. Okay, so its not really drinkible but it is a very important organic compound that is critical to the existence of life.

- Have you ever noticed that when the moon is directly on the horizon it appears to be a lot closer and larger? Well, it’s not. What’s happening is actually something that your brain does all the time. Think about what happens when you see one of your friends on the horizon. Although they appear to be really small your brain doesn’t actually interpret them as being that tiny. Something similar is going on with regards to the moon. Known as the Ponzo illusion, your brain inflates the size of the moon to make it appear larger than it really is. Don’t believe it? Next time you’re looking at an oversized moon block everything else out with your hands and watch it shrink.

- In 2004 scientists discovered the largest diamond ever. In fact it’s a collapsed star. Measuring 4000 km across and having a core composed of 10 billion trillion trillion carats it’s roughly 50 light years from the Earth.

- Strangely enough Venus completes an entire orbit around the sun before it manages to turn on its axis once. This means that its day is actually longer than its year and in Venusian time, World War II ended only 56 days ago.

- As big as the planet Saturn is, if you were to put it in a glass of water, it would float. This is because its density is .687 grams per cm cubed (being a Gas Giant) while water’s is the famous .998 g per cm cubed. Unfortunately though, you would need a glass that is over 120,000 km in diameter to witness this.

Habba Babba... Habba babba babba! Habba? *insert internet meme here for absolutely no reason*

- Cold welding. This is a phenomenon used to describe the fact that whenever two pieces of metal in outerspace touch each other, they are more or less permanently stuck together. While welding usually requires heat, in this case the vacuum of space does the trick, hence the the name. You might think then, how do space shuttles accomplish anything out there? Well, typically metals on Earth have a layer of oxidized material covering their surface that prevents this, so on shuttle missions the risk of accidently welding the shuttle to itself is negligible.

- The Earth has more then 1 moon. Okay, not really, they’re more like moon wannabes but scientists have discovered several asteroids that are more or less following the Earth as it moves around the sun.

- Earth does, however, have over 8,000 objects orbiting around it. Most of these would be classified as “space junk” or debris left over from spacecraft and missions in the past.

- While most of us know that the light hitting Earth took 8 minutes to cross the 93 million miles between our skin and the surface of the Sun, did you know that the energy in those rays started their life over 30,000 years ago deep within the core of the sun? They were formed by an intense fusion reaction and spent most of those thousands of years making their way to the Sun’s surface.

- While it’s not my intention to burst your bubble, I thought I should inform you that it is actually an asterism. There are only 88 official constellations in the night sky and everything else, including the Big Dipper, falls into this other category. It is, however, composed of the 7 brightest stars in the Great Bear (Ursa Major) constellation.

- You are standing on a planet that is spinning about its axis while rotating around a star that is revolving around the center of galaxy that is itself bareling through space. Sounds like enough to give you motion sickness right? Well, before you take your dramamine lets visit our next point.

Time blur.

-As a result of the aforementioned fact that light cannot exceed 186,000 miles per second, it would follow that nothing can, which is exactly why this has come to be known as the universal speed limit. This however, has some interesting consequences and leads directly into…

- Without getting too complex, Einstein essentially came forward with the revolutionary idea that not only is motion relative, but time is too. In fact, they are linked together. The faster you move, the slower others will perceive that time has passed for you.

Why? Well imagine this.

As you are sitting in the bus you shine a beam of light at the opposite wall. Lets say in 1 second it covers 2 meters before hitting the other side of the bus. Now, lets think of this from the perspective of the person on the street. To them the bus is also moving so the beam of light actually covers 15 meters in that same second. Why is this weird? Think about it. Here we have an object that just traveled 12 meters farther in the same amount of time…but it was moving at the same speed. The only logical explanation is that to the person watching you from the road, it actually took the beam of light longer to reach the other side of the bus. This means that while you percieved the event to elapse in only 1 second, they percieved it in 2. To them your clock is ticking slower. While this was exactly the kind of nonsense scientists were trying to avoid, Einstein took it at face value and accepted the conlusion. Still don’t believe it? Thats why we’re moving on to…

-Everything we just talked about is very relevant to modern technology. In fact, the clocks in onboard computers and navigation equipment have to take into account the effects of relativity. For example, if you measured the time that had elapsed on a fighter pilots wristwatch, you would find that it lagged behind your watch by several nanoseconds.

If you have been keeping up so far then this won’t be too much of a leap. The famous twins paradox postulates that if you put one twin on a spaceship that was moving near the speed of light through space and left another on Earth, due to the effects of relativity, the twin in the space ship would return to the planet significantly younger than his Earth bound sibling.

At one point these intergalactic vacuum cleaners were actually super massive stars. When one of those stars dies it generally blows of its gaseous outer layers and the core collapses into an extremely small and dense sphere. Imagine, for example, trying to pick up a tennis ball containing the entire mass of the Sun. The immediate effect of this astronomically high density would be an insanely strong gravitational field. In order to break free from any gravitational field you have to be traveling faster than something known as escape velocity. On Earth spacecraft achieve this by reaching a speed of about 7 miles per second. On some collapsed stars though, they would have to reach a speed faster than 186,000 miles per second which is more than the universal speed limit, meaning  nothing – not even light – could escape.


Ahem *coughs awkwardly*

I believe in the 4-5 hours it took me to post this blog, I have drunken too many brews. I apologize for the lack organization near the end. To make up for it? Here are some incredible pictures from NASA!

M87 Galaxy

One of my favourite pictures of Earth.


This isn&#Array;t our Univere, but uber cool none-the-less.

A similar galaxy to our own...

Oh, Whoops! Did I slip something Mass Effect in?

Look, it&#Array;s 2 galaxies colliding...

My favourite moon in the entirety of existence. Europa. One of Jupiter&#Array;s moons. The main site for life in our Solar System. Now if only we will send some satellites & probes there, to properly test this theory!

Taken from the International Space Station.

Snow Moon over Edmonton <3

Over Switzerland. The Moon & Venus. One of my favourite pictures ever.

The Sombrero Galaxy. Similar to ours, but we can get a picture of it so it&#Array;s that much better. xP

So, there you have it. I've drunken waaaaay too much <3  And it's way too late. Goodnight, I hope you at least learned a bit <3





          Have you ever wondered why Muslims bow to Mecca?        

The Pussified Meteorite

Have you ever wondered why Muslims bow to Mecca? If they were bowing to God then they wouldn't have to face in exactly one direction, because God is everywhere.

So what are they bowing to - the city itself? But Catholics don't bow to Rome, and Anglicans don't bow to Canterbury, and Mormons don't bow to Salt Lake City.

So what's so special about Mecca? What part of the city are they actually worshipping? Surely they aren't worshipping the entire city, including hotels, car parks, shops, electricity substations, public toilets and all the rest of the urban infrastructure?

No, in fact they're worshipping one specific object in the city - Allah's sacred meteorite.

Jihadist jerk circle
If you ever see pictures of them milling around in Mecca they are all circling a cubic building called the Kaaba. And set into the wall of that building is a meteorite enclosed by a vessel shaped like a woman's quim that they all try to kiss. Sometimes they get so sexually excited at the thought of the pious pussy that they stampede and kill one another in their efforts to muff-dive the meteorite.

The mingy meteorite was an object of worship long before Islam reared its ugly head, so what it's got to do with Allah is a bit of a mystery. Maybe it represents one of Allahs daughters, but as a Muslim father, wouldn't that get him murderously mad at all the wanabe quim-lickers sniffing around his girls' sacred snatch? Perhaps that's why he sets them stampeding.

Or maybe it means that Islam is some sort of tribal fertility cult that Mohammed duped people into believing was a proper religion.

But one thing is for certain. When Muslims accuse other religions of idolatry, they are the biggest hypocrites on earth. What could be more idolatrous than worshipping a hunk of space junk tarted up to look like a tw@t?

Bonking the bolide
I realise that Muslims have got psychological problems due to inbreeding compounded by sexual repression, but lusting after a mineral specimen as the ultimate sex-object is probably something that even Freud could never have dreamed up.

Everything an infidel needs to know about Islam on one alphabetically ordered webpage.


          Fireball streaks across night sky, likely lands in Lake Michigan        
It’s a bird! It’s a plane! Nope – it’s a meteor, or a fireball, or space junk... A bright, unidentified object flying over Lake Michigan last night caught onlookers in Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana and Michigan saying just that. But what was it?
          Gravity: Space Movie        
The new space thriller Gravity has already taken in over $75 million at the box office and is on its way to blockbuster status, but the question is: How realistic is the premise of a mid-space collision with space junk? Possible — but unlikely.

In Gravity, we're presented with a survival drama when Sandra Bullock’s character, Dr. Ryan Stone, is thrown into a free-fall after space debris collide...
          Japan Sends Long Electric Whip Into Orbit, To Tame Space Junk A cable that's as long as six football fields has been launched into orbit — and when it's deployed, it'll test an idea to knock out orbital debris. Japan's space agency sent the electrodynamic tether into space along with supplies for the International Space Station. Reels aboard the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's Kounotori 6 craft will deploy the 700-meter (2,296 feet) tether, essentially unspooling a clothesline in space that could help clean up the roughly 20,000 pieces of potentially hazardous space debris that are tracked by systems on Earth. Those pieces of junk are dangerous enough on their own — but they can also generate thousands more smaller pieces of debris if they collide, creating even more risk to the space station and satellites orbiting the Earth. With the official acronym of EDT (for electrodynamic tether), the Kounotori's cable "is a promising candidate to deorbit the debris objects at low cost," JAXA says . As
          BUFORA Conference 2012        

Last Friday night, just before 11pm, a cluster of about 20 bright lights were seen crossing the sky over Great Britain and Ireland. In Scotland a number of people called the police thinking that they were witnessing a plane crash; luckily they weren't. The real cause of the fireballs was either meteorites or pieces of "space junk", an old satellite or spacecraft, burning up when they entered the Earth's atmosphere at very high cosmic speeds. If the objects survived their fall to the Earth's surface intact then they've probably fallen into the North Sea. It's likely that this spectacle might generate a few UFO reports too. If you want to make a UFO report for the first time, with no experience of the subject, and you go to Google and put in "UFO", one of the first hits you'll get is the website of BUFORA, the British UFO Research Association, see: a long time now, I've been a believer in synchronicity and used the word "coincidence" less and less to explain the way separate events can be very apt in their timing. You see, the day after this celestial fireworks display, the BUFORA Conference began and I attended.
As regular HPANWO-readers will know, I'm financially much worse off than I used to be; I've not been able to do my usual tour of the conspiracy/paranormal conference circuit this year, however I remain in good spirits. Compared to others who have shared my fate, like Tony Farrell and Kevin Annett (See:, I've been very fortunate. I have a roof over my head and food on my table; what's more I've managed to break my addiction to materialism and consumerism that we're all conditioned to get hooked on, and I've realized that there's a spiritual dimension to life that you can't get sacked from! I also believe that the universe helps you along if you can keep a positive frame of mind, and as "luck" would have it several conferences have been organized this year that are cheap and easy to get too, so I've been able to join the other delegates there. One of these was the BUFORA Conference which took place in London; London is linked to Oxfordby a very good coach service that runs almost 24-7. I was also offered accommodation at the home of two friends of mine from the Kent Freedom Movement who live in Shepherds Bush, see: The venue was at the Holiday Inn near Kings Cross Station, a half-hour ride on the London Underground. The conference room was in the basement and made up for in comfort what it lacked in daylight. There were the usual book stalls in the foyer and a neat and clean auditorium. Considering that the subject of conversation included orbs, the patterns on the carpet were remarkably appropriate; "it's almost as if they knew we were going to be here" said one of the speakers. See the photoes below:
The hotel itself is modern and very grand, a bit too grand perhaps. There was nowhere we could purchase refreshments over the counter and when I asked if there was somewhere I could buy a cup of tea the receptionist said: "Go and sit in the bar and I'll send the waiter in to serve you." I did so and about five minutes later a very dapper man in a suit came in and said: "What would you like, Sir?" This 5-star service arrangement is all well and good if you enjoy that kind of thing, but when you've got a 15 minute break between speakers you just long to be able to just flip somebody 50 pence and have them hand you over a mug of tea straight away. I apologized to the waiter and told him I didn't have time. Then I did what I should have done to begin with: nipped out of the hotel to the greasy spoon across the road. This became the generally-accepted social gathering place for many of the delegates over the weekend.
The three letters "UFO" are a very good root for acronyms because they have two vowels with a consonant in the middle, hence the ease with which names like MUFON, BUFOG, CUFOS etc roll off the tongue. BUFORA is another, although it was originally BUFOA, the British UFO Association; the R for "research" was added in 1964 when the original group merged with another. The tall and learned-looking founder-president Lionel Beer (BUFORA link) opened the conference with a brief history of the organization. It began in September 1962 at a meeting in Kensington Central Library; this was exactly 50 years ago, so this one was a very special anniversary conference: the half-centenary, as you can see in the banner (Thanks to Matt Lyons, the BUFORA chairman for allowing HPANWO to illustrate this article with these official graphics). Their first Chairman was Nick Stephenson whose photo is below. As another speaker quipped: "It's 65 years since 1947 so modern UFOlogy is at a pensionable age." BUFORA immediately recruited a network of investigators and got stuck in to all the biggest and most promising British cases, the "Warminster Thing", the Lakenheath Incident, the famous 1979 House of Lords UFO debate and many others. BUFORA has a reputation for being a "pure" UFOlogical group, an aspect which I'll expand on more later, but it's had its fair share of sinister and underhand attention over the years, including an attempted infiltration by the Church of Scientology and the Aetherius Society. The latter are bat-excrement crazy, but pretty harmless; however the former are well-known to have a dark and violent side to them. When Lionel received threats he was understandably worried. In the early years he also had to contend with the rise of the far right and their own involvement with UFO's. BUFORA members were harassed by the sinister and mysterious people calling themselves "APEN- the Aerial Phenomenon Enquiry Network". This is believed by many to be a cover-organization for the National Front or one of the other BNP-like parties that were popular at the time. The Government were investigating those parties at the time and people showed up at BUFORA meetings whom Lionel swears were MI5 or Special Branch. I'm not sure, but I suspect that APEN was actually run by the Government itself, however they'd be foolish to let every department of MI5 and Special Branch in on that secret so I don't doubt that real agents from those outfits did attend Lionel's meetings as he said they did. I met a man from Germany at the conference who told me that UFOlogy is very unpopular in his native country because it has connotations with Neo-Nazism via its inevitable overlap with the conspiracy theory community. The German author Jan van Helsing is specifically named as a bridge between the two milieux. I've read one of van Helsing's books, paradoxically advertised under the title Don't Touch this Book!, and I could find nothing racist or fascist in it, but I do understand why the Germans are very sensitive about this subject because of their own tragic history. I myself am a part of this overlap, but I can honestly say that there are far fewer people in the conspiratorial world with racist and far rightist political views than most people think; and nothing justifies the hysterical and hateful abuse that David Icke has suffered at the hands of the "anti-fascist" movement, see: anybody dares to accuse me of being a Neo-Nazi then the kindest thing I can say to them is... leave my vicinity... or words to that effect!
BUFORA also found itself hurled into Cold War politics, which, sadly, few people managed to escape in the 60's and 70's. A staffer from the Soviet Embassy joined and although Lionel approved his membership it lost the organization a part of its security certificate. More infiltrators turned up at meetings and asked political questions. Lionel thinks that these people were testing BUFORA to see where its political loyalties lay. He was also tested to see if he would swallow disinformation. Luckily the Association has a policy of being non-political which was a wise move in those days; and it still is, up to a point. BUFORA has long been affiliated with the magazine Flying Saucer Review, and since Gordon Creighton sadly went, as Lionel puts it, "to that great saucer in the sky" BUFORA has been given the substantial research archives of that oldest of UFO journals. Lionel has had his house raided by the police, has been arrested for photographing Bentwaters Base (This was before the Rendlesham Forest Incident), sat for five hours in the House of Lords public gallery, been thrown out of Morely College and had L Ron Hubbard threaten to drown him in the sea! The life of a UFO investigator is not without its hazards.

The next speaker was Heather Dixon (BUFORA link) She spoke clearly and professionally during her hour on stage, obviously she has experience of doing lectures. She is striking in appearance, disarmingly pretty and smartly-dressed with a head of well-groomed, lush blonde hair. She began by lamenting about how much of the information available to UFOlogists nowadays is false and misleading; I agree completely with that and have said as much myself, see: then went on to explain how it is that people can make mistakes about what they see in the sky, how they might see something that they don't recognize and assume wrongly that it's inexplicable. Several times during her lecture she repeated: "More than 98% of all reported sightings have a mundane explanation" and this was a point reiterated by several other speakers. The list of things that can confuse the witness is enormous; 60% of reports can be explained as Chinese lanterns. I'm ashamed to say that I was taken in by them too; once but never again! There are other things such as laser light shining into the sky; although I think they've been banned because they can dazzle aircraft pilots and could even cause a plane crash. Astronomical objects are major culprits, like the planet Venus. I find it hard to believe that large numbers of people could be fooled that way, especially professional observers like pilots and policemen, but Heather says these do account for a large proportion of the reports received. She presented statistics of sightings and their analysis in the same way other speakers did. The International Space Station, birds, kites, balloons and satellites in space also cause people to pick up the phone and call. She also echoes Mark Pilkington, Nick Cook and others by claiming that the Government is quite pleased when people think they've seen spacecraft from another planet when they accidentally intrude on a top secret test of some new spy-plane. This may true in some cases, but it in no way accounts for the entire UFO phenomenon. And I also suspect that some kind of double-bluff may be in operation; the Government could be using aviation projects to launder their secret UFO research programmes, see: then went on to discuss what she calls "high strangeness". This is of course the title of a famous book by Laura Knight-Jadczyk, but Heather uses the term to mean close encounters and the abduction phenomenon. She made a lot of the same points Richard Wiseman does in his book Paranormality, see: hypnagogic and hypnopompic states of mind, sleep paralysis etc. During the Question and Answer session at the end I asked Heather: "Leaving aside the whole UFO subject and just concentrating on the 'high strangeness', can the explanations you've just given account for every single case you've ever investigated?" To her credit, Heather immediately replied: "No." She then told me about a man she knows in Northumberland whom she gives the pseudonym "Steve Robinson". She thinks he could be experiencing real alien contact. I enjoyed listening to Heather's address and she's quite right to make people aware that it's essential to eliminate all mundane explanations for UFO sightings before postulating the possibility of ET involvement, but I would have liked to have heard more about "Steve Robinson" and any other real cases she'd encountered. She only had a limited time to speak, I know, but I hope she'll maybe do a new speech next time where she squeezes the explicables down to 20 or 30 minutes and leaves the rest for the real ET research she's done. I'd make a similar observation about two other speakers, Jenny Randles and Vicente Juan Ballester-Olmos (See: Vicente Juan's statistics showed that on one occasion the number of unexplained sightings rose from its comfortable average of 2 or 5% to 40%; but he blames that on less cases being examined; and "unexplained" being the default category for a case not yet investigated. However, bear in mind that investigators have different viewpoints. One of the cases he quoted as "solved" was the Solway Firth Spaceman; however I think that there is need for a second opinion on his diagnosis, see:
Heather Dixon supports the policy BUFORA have towards the use of hypnosis to retrieve information from a witness. They're against it. She says hypnosis simply fuels and solidifies fantasy and can construct false memories. This is highly disputed and there are many other groups who endorse the use of hypnosis and rebut the misgivings Heather described. I recently interviewed Mary Rodwell on HPANWO Radio, see from 0.46.40: As she details in the interview, she think hypnosis is a good method of recovering lost recollections and explains why she refutes the theory that it generates falsified memory. The same goes for AMMACH, see:

Jenny Randles(See: is a living legend in the UFO community. She is one of the "Four Horsewomen" of Rendlesham Forest(Another of the Four, Dot Street, was a delegate at the conference. Brenda Butler was not there and Georgina Bruni has sadly passed away) If it hadn't been for those four eminent ladies the Rendlesham Forest Incident would never have become what it is today, see:'s unlikely anybody would have even heard about it. At best it would have emerged rather like the Roswell Incident did: the aging witnesses coming forward 30 or so years later, round about today, with wild stories but no documents, no photoes, no forensics, nothing. She's a former chief investigator with BUFORA. Jenny could not travel to the venue personally, so through the wonders of technology she spoke from her home in North Walesvia a live Skype link (A lot of UFO enthusiasts seem to live in North Wales for some reason). Like several of the other speakers she once again reminded us that over 95% of all reported sightings are explicable in mundane terms, what she called "IFO's- Identified Flying Objects"; it began to sound a bit like a mantra to me. She thinks it's important to focus on IFO's for the same reason Heather Dixon does, however I once again found myself wondering if they're focusing on that a bit too much. Jenny plans to write a book on IFO's... a book!? Normally it's only Skeptics who write books like that (I analyze exactly what I mean by "Skeptics" as opposed to "sceptics" in this episode of HPANWO Radio, from 1.07.23: But Jenny is not a Skeptic, she has not completely rejected the Extraterrestrial Hypothesis. Perhaps we could call her and people like her an "IFOlogist". As a writer myself I know how much effort is required to write a book; it means giving up a year or more of your life to write, rewrite, revise, edit, submit, negotiate with publishers etc. Jenny is taking the line Heather did, the perceived necessity of constantly looking over your shoulder, to an even greater degree. Another observation Jenny made was that when people experience a UFO sighting, like in the case of the meteor shower the night before, you'll often find that they embellish the details of the sighting. For example if they see a few balls of fire trailing across the sky they'll then later on claim that they saw a structured craft with lights running along it, or that they heard a buzzing alien-like sound coming from it etc. This may sometimes be the case, but there are other incidents which indicate the exact opposite. The strange case of the "Avebury Carlos" is one. A few years ago, some engineers built a fake UFO out of a model plane and flew it over Avebury, an ancient sacred site and a gathering place for mystics, hippies and pagans. The intention was to fool them and therefore show them up for being dupes. People did indeed report a UFO, but in a way the plan backfired because they reported pretty much what they saw. There were none of the embellishments and exaggerations that the hoaxers were banking on. It showed that even the so-called “most gullible members of society” have turned out to be much better witnesses than previously thought. Jenny Randles has recently been a focus of controversy because of her views on one of the most significant events in British UFOlogical history, the Berwyn Mountains Incident of 1974, the "Welsh Roswell" (This is an inaccurate nickname, in my view, because it does not involve a crash-retrieval. See here for my review of the book on the subject UFO Down by Andy Roberts: This case has been massively played down by the mainstream media with facetious newspaper reports like this one: article is not only making a mockery of the entire event in true tabloid style, with its comic-book illustration and the clumsy, Murdochian forced pun in the title; it contains errors that could so easily have been avoided that I can only conclude that they were "deliberately not avoided"; for example, the police searched the wrong mountain! However the dismissal of the magnitude of the Berwyn Mountains case comes from inside the UFO community too. To this day many UFOlogists maintain that this was the coinciding of an earthquake and bolide meteor, together with the "earthlights" phenomenon written about by Paul Devereux. Unfortunately Jenny is one of them; in fact she even claims to have seen an earthlight herself during a field trip to the Berwynrange. A good friend of mine is Richard Wright, who reviewed the 2011 BUFORA Conference for UFO Matrix magazine. He is both a UFO journalist and a geologist. He told me that Jenny must have seen something else that could not be an earthlight. The only way rocks can produce light is through friction, like rubbing two bits of flint together to produce a spark. What's more a massive amount of work has been done by many UFOlogists, especially Scott Felton and Richard D Hall, that proves that no other event in our sights right now deserves further study more than the Berwyn Mountains Incident. Richard has produced a feature-length documentary on the subject which I recommend, see: less than two years it will be the 40th anniversary; are we going to let it go past just shrugging it off as earthquakes and earthlights? Another conference speaker, Dave Newton (See BUFORA link) disappointed me by also repeating this line during his address on Sunday. There have been a few TV and radio reports about Berwynlike this one: features a number of UFOlogists being interviewed, however among the out-takes you should find Scott Felton as well. Why was his part not broadcast? A TV expert would say: "We had to cut it down to 45 minutes and simply didn't have room for him", but the way the other individuals, like Jenny, are given so much air time indicates that it is the nature of what was said that decided what this film's editors chose to broadcast, and what to exclude. This means that this programme is presenting Berwyn in a particular light. If therefore we have some kind of media cover-up in operation and this film is a piece of its propaganda then Jenny Randles is collaborating with it, whether she knows it or not. That would be a great shame given her vital contribution to UFO truth in the past.

During our Saturday lunch break I was walking though the merchandise area when I saw an elderly man wearing a neatly-pressed suit. He looked well built and his head was shaved, though he had a sparse beard, like a retired bouncer; but he also had an intensely jolly smile and bright eyes that looked youthful and full of joie-de-vivre. I went up and spoke to him. He had a calm, mellow and intelligent voice. It wasn't long before I recognized him as the RevdLionel Fanthorpe (See: He has one of the most impressive CV's you could ever wish to see, in fact it's easier to think of something he hasn'tdone than something he has. He's a school teacher, a vicar, a motorbike expert, a journalist, a martial arts expert, a weightlifter, a wrestler, he's a member of MENSA, the society for people with high IQ's, and on top of all that he is president of ASSAP (See: I first heard of him many years ago when he presented the brilliant programme Fortean TV, see: aged 77 he's still going strong and has lost none of his charisma; in fact I've often described him as Britain's answer to Robert Anton Wilson. He did a presentation entitled Behind all Anomalous Reports. He made a list of all possible things UFO's are, and aliens from space was just one of them; the list was similar to what you'll find in Richard Dolan and Bryce Zabel's ADbook, see: ET's, 2: interdimensional objects, 3: time travellers 4: ghosts 5: angels and demons 6: denizens of Atlantis or another unknown prehistoric Earth civilization; I'm sure we can think of more. There are two other possibilities that spring to my mind, 7: All of the above, 8: None of the above; something nobody has yet thought of! His speech was light-hearted yet informative, and I was enthralled by his story about how a man experienced an interdimensional slip while in the public toilets outside Norwich Cathedral! Another entertaining performance took place at the end of the Conference on Sunday and was carried out by my old friend Ross Hemsworth (See: whom I was delighted to see again. Ross organized one of the best conferences I've ever been to in Glastonbury in 2008; unfortunately it was just a one-off, see: his lecture he describes a strange encounter he had with a telepathic being in Rendlesham Forest. The photo is copyrighted and so I can't post it, but the being appears as a smoky or misty shape above Ross' head. It has a humanoid face and what looks like huge ears or horns coming out of the side of its head. I hear that Ross and Lionel Fanthorpe are going to do a TV show together soon; I have a feeling those two will make a good double act. John Hanson (See: also gave a fascinating speech about his experiences in Rendlesham Forest, and he even brought with him some of the mysterious stones that appeared out of thin air and dropped to the ground in the forest. These are what are known as "apports", solid objects that seem to manifest out of nowhere, usually during Spiritualist seances. John allowed us to handle the stones and they looked and felt like ordinary stones to me, but John, like Ross, has had some really weird experiences in those woods and is willing to talk about them. He's also engaged in a monumental project to construct an encyclopaedia of Britain's UFO's. As you can see in the link above; it is going to run to many volumes.

The history of UFO's and their impact on human society is a theme picked up by several of the speakers John Spencer (See: made a speech entitled "A History of UFO's" in which he described how the UFO phenomenon has evolved alongside human society, set against the backdrops of World War II, the Cold War and the advent of the Space Age. It is clear that in fact UFO and alien encounters have not changed at all; it is our attitude towards them that has changed and it's changed because our world has changed. This leads to the question that often gets knocked back with curious frowns: Why do we call them "extraterrestrial"? The answer will often be seen as obvious: "Because they come from outer space of course!" But do they? How do we know that? Dave Newton and several other speakers echoed the thoughts of some other people I know, like Brian Allan, see: classic Extraterrestrial Hypothesis is the one which states that UFO's and aliens are flesh and blood creatures from some unknown Earth-like planet a long way out in space, which we could see with a telescope if we looked hard enough, and that they fly here in nuts and bolts spacecraft that are simply more sophisticated versions of our own rockets; this is really an assumption. There's little hard evidence that indicates that that is the case. If they're not little green men from Mars then what are they? I refer you to Lionel Fanthorpe's list.
Tony Eccles (See: has discovered that there are many similarities between alien encounters and religion, like Shamanism. This is a point not lost on people like Rick Strassman and Graham Hancock (See HPANWO Links column). Contactees have a lot in common with Spiritualist mediums and indigenous shamans of the Amazon who take psychoactive drugs to commune with their gods. Despite this Tony doesn't think that UFO's are a religion. There is no "UFO God" as such (although Steven Greer thinks there is, and it's him!). On the question of what UFO's are Clas Svahn (See: has been studying a particular type of UFO: "ghost rockets". These date back to the 1930's and the first ever recorded aerial interception was deployed by the Swedish Army Air Corps in 1931 to try and examine them (Good 2009). They continue to be reported to this day. Unlike most UFO's these do bear a moderate resemblance to man-made aircraft or projectiles; they tend to be streamlined and have wings, fins and propulsion nozzles. They're also unique in being almost exclusively confined to a specific region of the world: Scandinavia. They often end their flights by dropping into lakes and Clas has even organized a diving expedition to one of the lakes where a ghost rocket has been reported to have landed. So far they haven't found anything, but the lake bed is covered in thick, deep mud so they'll need to go back with better scanning equipment. I hope he'll succeed because he's been chasing these stories since he was 16 years old. Geoff Falla (See: BUFORA link) has studied incidents in which people experience close encounters while driving along in their cars. These often start with the vehicle suddenly malfunctioning; the engine stops, the electrics cut out, the radio experiences interference etc. This is a very common feature of UFO incidents on the road and was what befell Richard Dreyfus' character in the film Close Encounters of the Third Kind. The director of that movie, Stephen Spielberg, approached real UFOlogists to act as consultants. Geoff has gathered some interesting statistics that seem to indicate that certain regions of the globe are more afflicted by these kinds of events than others, and it's all to do with latitude and longitude.
Richard Conway(See BUFORA link) Did a presentation together with his father Stan Conway (Not billed) that was definitely one of my favourites of the Conference. Richard is the science adviser of BUFORA and shares a passionate interest of mine: Free Energy. I got the impression from the blurb that he was going to debunk the concept, but in fact he didn't. He is dubious only about those people who claim to have received the knowledge to build advanced scientific technology from "alien epiphanies". He met a lady in Turkeywho built a lightweight ceramic radio-shield after an extraterrestrial being told her how to. I don't think it's prudent to dismiss the notion that people can be inspired this way; after all Tony Eccles showed us that ET contact experiences are very similar to other kinds of mystical states of mind; and that it's a well-known fact that some great marvels have been achieved through them. Francis Crick, the discoverer of DNA, was encouraged in his quest by visions and insights he gained on LSD trips. I hope Richard and Tony compared notes afterwards. Richard also takes seriously the issue of "Cold Fusion" that I myself have investigated, see: Stan Conway gave an energetic talk about the progress of Zero Point Energy technology. Amazingly NASA have launched a serious project to research this and as you'll see in the links above, so has Dr Robert Duncan of the University of Minnesota. But as I say in those linked articles, these projects up till now have been very abortive. For some reason they start very well, but grind to a halt. Rumour has it that some "rich philanthropists" get involved who quietly and covertly scuttle the ship when nobody's looking. For this reason I'll be watching these new projects very carefully to see what happens. Richard talked about people he refers to as "tinkerers", these are laymen with an interest in science who carry out scientific work as a hobby. Among these he includes John Hutchison, John Searl, Edward Leedskalnin and Viktor Schauberger. He says that these people are often just "eccentrics" who have misled themselves into thinking they've made a scientific breakthrough, and when properly-trained scientists investigate they find out that there's nothing in them. However I've studied these individuals myself and I take them far more seriously (See for example: Most of these "tinkerers" come from the USA, and this is a country with a great tradition of garden shed, amateur inventors; people like Thomas Edison and the Wright Brothers. People laughed at them once, but, as the Frank Sinatra song goes, who has the last laugh now?
I'm very glad I went to the BUFORA 2012 50th Anniversary Conference. I met some lovely people, caught up with some old friends and made some new ones. I had some great conversations with Matt Lyons, the chairman, the German man I mentioned and another man called Bill. I also met up with some old buddies, like Colin and Dave from Probe, see: also saw Mike Rutter whom I interviewed at a recent Probe conference, see: thanks to all the organizers and speakers for their hard work in putting together this conference and for giving us this information on stage. I must confess it was not what I expected. I said at the beginning of this report that BUFORA was "pure"; I meant that it is purely for the scientific study of the phenomenon and doesn't embrace any of the conspiracy theories related to the subject. The Exopolitics movement, on the other hand, takes a diametrically opposed position on UFO's. For them, UFO science has already done its job and generated a conclusion: UFO's exist; now what do we do about that? One thing's for certain if you're campaigning for Disclosure: There is, by definition, a conspiracy involved. My own opinion, as regular HPANWO-readers know, is that the Exopolitics movement is correct. This doesn't mean that UFOlogy has no further purpose; it does. Just because I'm certain that UFO's exist doesn't mean that the scientific investigation of them should stop; on the contrary, it is an even more urgent mission now. Therefore there is still a role for organizations like BUFORA. My concern is that the denial that a conspiracy exists could lead to them easily falling foul of one, and, as I've detailed above, the Berwyn Mountainscase could well be the first tripwire. Nick Pope defines Exopolitics as the "militant wing" of UFOlogy; I define it as a group of UFOlogists who have simply made up their minds.
If I met somebody right now with an emerging interest in UFO's who was thinking of going to a BUFORA event or joining BUFORA I would definitely say: "go ahead", however I would also advise them to also look into the other side of the story; go to Exopolitics events too, read UFO conspiratorial books. I know several people who feel very disillusioned by BUFORA; some have said so publicly like Richard D Hall and Simon Parkes. My own experience along with this conference comes from my submission of two sightings reports, see: have no serious criticism of how they handled my reports other than it is slightly tinged with the "looking back over their shoulder" tendency that I went into above. The email I received in reply to my Chinese lantern sighting was longer than the one about the December 2008 sighting, even though the one in 2008 was far harder to explain. I'd be more interested in that one than the Chinese lanterns and want to write more about it! I get the feeling that BUFORA, like ASSAP, quite enjoys having one foot in the Skeptic movement and rather apes them. A major hero for the speakers who was repeatedly quoted was Carl Sagan; this was man who may have started out as amenable to the prospect, but did not take the idea of UFO's seriously in his mature career. He developed a reputation as a debunker and has won several posthumous Skeptic awards. BUFORA, and also ASSAP and the CFZ (See HPANWO Links column), occupy that strange demi-monde between the two worlds; on the bridge, being shot at from both sides. On the Skeptic-believer scale this conference was one notch up from the specialist Skeptic ones like James Randi's TAM or QED. I've actually been to TAM London; I like to hear all sides of the story:
There will be no BUFORA Conference next year, but in 2014 they plan to hold an event in Glastonbury. It will be a single day only so that delegates have the chance to see all the other sights in the town during the weekend. If I can I will go along and I would recommend it to anybody else. I didn't notice it at the time, but there was a BBC reporter at the conference and this is his article:

          Moon Exploration        
Allowing private companies to explore space.

For the first time, a private company has been given permission to send a robotic space craft to land on the moon. Up until now, moon landings have only been attempted by government agencies. So what could this development mean for the future of space exploration?

NEIL ARMSTRONG: That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.

In the last 47 years, mankind has walked on the moon, built space stations, sent probes to investigate far off planets and landed this little guy on an asteroid. We've even grown the first ever space veggie and eaten it in space!

REPORTER: You might think "Where could we possibly go after space lettuce?" Well there are always heaps of exciting projects in the works, but so far they've always been driven by government organisations like NASA and the European Space Agency because they have the money, resources and permission to make them happen.

But that could be about to change. Lots of private companies are making plans to lift off, whether it's to take tourists on the trip of a lifetime, or to explore distant planets. Now, one private company called `Moon Express’ has become the first to be given the green light from the US government to travel beyond Earth's orbit.

The business plans to land a robotic probe on the moon in 2017 to carry out experiments and, eventually, `Moon Express’ also wants to set up a mine on the moon. It would collect minerals that are rare on earth like Tantalum, a strong metal used to make electronics, Helium-3 which could be used to create clean, efficient fuel and moon cheese which is super tasty. Ok not that last one, but you never know.

REPORTER: Space mining is still a long way off but it's already raising some questions about what should and shouldn't be allowed to happen in space. Because you might not even realise, but there's already such a thing as International Space Law.

Back in the 1960s, the United Nations created the Outer Space Treaty. Basically, it says that space belongs to everyone and any country can explore it, but people aren't allowed to damage any part of the space environment and no one can use it to set up super weapons of mass destruction, like the death star - sorry Darth, not happening.

But that treaty was made a long time ago and now people are starting to wonder how things like space mining would fit within the rules. Who would get the profits if technically no one owns the moon? What would happen if companies started damaging or contaminating planets? And would it contribute to the build up of space junk that's already floating about out there from things like satellites and old missions?

Some reckon letting private companies take a slice of the space pie could open up the world to amazing new possibilities and discoveries. Others say we need to start thinking about how to keep things fair and under control as the private space race heats up.

          Back to School Scavenger Hunt Twitter Party + Prizes Galore! #ScavHuntB2S        
Join MomsLA and Momfluential for a fun Back-To-School Scavenger Hunt Twitter Party on Wednesday, August 17th at 10am PT/1pm ET. #ScavHuntB2S RSVP below and then join the party to be eligible to win one of our 4 prize packages! Follow your hosts on Twitter and use the Hashtag #ScavHuntB2S to be a part of the party! MomsLA @MomsLA Momfluential @Momfluential The Back To School Scavenger Hunt Twitter Party is going to be super fun! We’ll tweet out scavenger hunt ideas so be ready to snap pics of your Back To School gear, snacks and outfits! Learn more about these awesome prize sponsors who want to help you get back to school in style. Vanilla Gift Card @VanillaGift With the purchase of a prepaid card, everyone can happily survive the back-to-school season. Yes, both the teen and the parents can survive. Prepaid cards, like Vanilla Gift, grant the teen the joy of shopping without a parent, while the parent has the power to set a spending limit; peace of mind for everyone. The cards have no personal information attached and, if lost, the money can be reloaded onto a new card with ease. Vanilla Gift Cards are safer than cash, never expire, and can be used at thousands of retailers. Vanilla Gift is giving away 4 $25 gift cards!   General Mills Cereal Back-to-School Prize @GeneralMills General Mills Cereal is helping you get ready for Back-to-School with a month worth of cereal (4 boxes of Cheerios and 4 boxes of Chex) and supplies to help parents make the transition easier. Whole grain is the first ingredient in all of these cereals, which contain at least 10 grams per serving. Plus these Chex and Cheerios are also gluten-free. The pack includes post-its, refrigerator magnets and clip boards to help organize the weeks ahead. General Mills Cereal  is giving away this terrific prize package! Otis Spunkmeyer Treats @Otis_Spunkmeyer Otis Spunkmeyer has recently launched a new retail line including a variety of 20+ different snack cakes, loaf cakes, mini muffins, mini cupcakes, cookies and more in a variety of classic flavors. These new treats come individually wrapped, making them the perfect lunchtime snack option for kids headed back to school! Parents will be happy to learn that Otis Spunkmeyer has committed to better-for-you ingredients with its ‘No Funky Stuff’ guarantee, meaning their delicious snacks are made without artificial flavors or colors, high-fructose corn syrup or partially hydrogenated oils – so parents can feel good about letting their kids have an Otis Spunkmeyer sweet treat in their lunch! Otis Spunkmeyer is giving away 4 terrific prize packages! Space Junk Backpacks What could be better than heading Back to School with one of these cool backpacks by Space Junk, sold exclusively at Target? Space Junk is giving away 3 Backpacks! Life is Good T-Shirts @LifeIsGood Make back to school season exciting for your little one with Life is Good’s Back to School Gift Guide. Help them ease back into the swing of things with a positive flair they’ll want to rock at school and at an affordable price point. The best part? Life is Good donates 10% of its annual net profits to help kids in need. Life is Good is giving away 2 kids’ shirts! Unusual Animal Adventures A to Z by Heather Jones @RhythmChild This adorable new children’s book is quirky, imaginative, educational and just plain fun! Heather Jones is a Los Angeles author and part of the team behind the very popular Rhythm Child. Whether it’s Andre the aardvark or Zena the zorilla, each of these 26 unusual animals are part of a colorful A-Z adventure. Rhythm Child is giving away 1 book! Prizes Packages: Prize #1 is 1 backpack + 1 $25 card + Snacks Prize #2 is 1 backpack + 1 $25 card + Snacks Prize #3 is 1 t-shirt + 1 $25 card + Snacks Prize #4 General Mills Cereal Prize Pack Grand Prize is 1 backpack + 1 $25 card + 1 t-shirt + Snacks + Heather’s book RSVP Here: Official Rules No Purchase Necessary to enter or win. Void where prohibited by law. This contest is in no way sponsored by, endorsed by, administered by, or associated with Twitter. This Twitter Party is open only to legal residents of the fifty (50) United States and who have a twitter account, and are over age eighteen (18) years old at the time of entry. Winners must submit RSVP via the link and participate in the Twitter Party. Winners will be chosen using a random drawing. Winners will be notified via twitter and Direct Message of their winnings. Winners must respond within 24 hours with shipping information. MomsLA and Momfluential are grateful to these terrific companies for sponsoring this fun Back to School Scavenger Hunt Twitter Party.
          Breakfast on...a Dwarf Planet?        

I for one am greatly saddened by the news that the International Astronomic Union has decided to strip Pluto of its status as a planet.Not that I give one whit about astronomical taxonomy in the clinical sense, its just our culture is losing something very real by cutting the number of planets in our solar system down to eight. That there are nine planets in the Milky Way is one of the first scientific facts most of us ever commit to memory. How many of us made models with nine planets orbiting the Sun? How many of us learned mnemonic devices to remember the nine planets? ("My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas")

It was one of the basic numbers of life: 9 planets, 12 months, 50 states. (God help us if Puerto Rico ever gains statehood!)

I know I'm being silly. There are plenty of people walking around today who were taught elementary school astronomy before Pluto was designated a planet. But what about the otherconsequences of this rash reclassification? Think of the added burden on our over-taxed school systems! Astronomy texts were probably the only books principals didn't have to reorder every few years to keep up-to-date. Now everyone's going to have to order new textbooks, models and charts. And how many planetariums will go out of business because they can't afford to hire new narrators to update their decades-old voiceovers?

Why can't we just say a planet is whatever we say it is? I mean a year has 365 days except when it has 366, right? i before e except after c? Lets make a friggin' exception here. All planets must clear the orbits of their neighboring bodies, except for Pluto. Done and done.

On a side-rant, I also have to take exception to "Xena," the common name given to 2003 UB313, the trans-Neptunian object (def.: any big piece of space junk beyond Neptune) found by astronomers at Mount Palomar Observatory three years ago. A centuries-old tradition of naming celestial orbs after Roman gods is thrown out the window so some space-Eurkel can give a shout out to his favorite syndicated sci-fi series?! I bet he's waiting by the phone, expecting a call from Lucy Lawless any moment now. Ring, damn it, ring!
          The NATURE of UFOs        

Ten things that UFOs do that are not possible in the Universe as we know it.

          1. Make high speed zig-zag motions
                   (act like light beams, not massive craft)
          2. Great accelerations without sound
                   (no sign of energy or thrust use for acceleration)
          3. Float in gravity slowly in silence
                   (no energy or effort to stay aloft)
          4. Fly faster than sound without a sonic boom.
          5. Propel themselves silently without interacting
                     with the environment (no visible thrust,
                     turbulence, heat, light)
          6. Exhibit Pendulum or "Falling  Leaf" Motion
          7. Cause car engines and headlights to die
                     (there is no force on earth that can turn a car
                     off and on at a distance with no after effect)
          8. Cause temporary paralysis
                     (paralysis that comes and goes with presence of UFO)
          9. "Levitate" people and cause steering loss
                     (no electric or magnetic forces can lift human tissue
                     or effect steering)
         10. Lift cars off the ground.
                     (No known force can lift a car from 20' away)


UFOs is that they do not experience inertia.
Inertia is the resistance to acceleration.
Most of the amazing acrobatic feats of UFOs derive from fact that they do not experience the inherent resistance to their movement.
Fast aircraft encounter tremendous air resistance.
UFOs, however, are not effected by air resistance.

For decades it has been known that UFOs exhibit zig-zag motion.
The UFOCAT listst 720 reports of this phenomena.
Massive objects are incapable of zig-zag motion.
If a passenger falls off a cruise ship, it takes the better part of an hour for the ship to turn back. The SR-71 spy plane when it was still flying, at speed, took the territory of three states for it to make a U-turn.
UFOs, on the other hand, can change direction instantaneously
You need an infinite force to make an instantaneous change in direction.
An infinite force is not possible.
The mass in this case is the inertial mass, mi.
One can distinguish between aspects of mass.
Mass that measures the amount of matter in an object is m, the mass involved with gravitational attraction is  gravitational mass, mg, and finally there is inertial mass, mi.
UFOs have no inertia because their inertial mass with respect to moving in space is essentially zero.
It is true that the American Space Shuttle, in its ascent, during its drive to reach orbit, at one point goes through a 9g acceleration.
Also fighter jets can pull 9g’s in a turn or coming out of a dive.
But that is not stop and go in level flight.
To better understand this, we should consider a more manoeuvrable vehicle like the Air Force F-22.
The F-22 Raptor has two engines, which with afterburners, produce 156 Kilo Newtons of thrust each, so the pair about 300 KN. 
The empty weight of the F-22 is 20 tons and 38 tons fully loaded.
If we take the weight as 30 tons and apply Newton's Second Law, then

                               F = ma

                    300 KN = 30 tons x acceleration.

            acceleration =  300 KN = 10 meters/sec/sec

                                      30 tons

                                  = 1 g

That is, the F-22 can do a 1g acceleration in straight horizontal flight on full afterburners.
When the F-22 accelerates in level flight, the pilot will be pushed back in his seat by approximately 1 g, not 9 g’s as with the Nellis UFO.
This agrees with the fact that the F-22 can basically fly straight up, just balancing gravity.
Say the Nellis object, which appeared to be 25' in diameter had a mass of 20 tons.
Then its propulsive thrust or a 9.2g acceleration normally would have been

                              F = ma

                                 = 20 tons x 9.2 x 10 meters/sec/sec

                                 = 1840 Kilo Newtons

or nine times that of the F-22 or almost half of the Shuttle's 5400 Kilo Newtons thrust.
The problems is that it showed NO evidence of a “trail” from such a thrust.
What the analysis did not consider is the Second Law of Thermodynamics.
The Second Law states that energy used has to be dispersed.
The afterburners on the F-22 produce hot gas plumes and a giant roar, and rocket exhaust plumes of the Shuttle are hundreds of feet long, and can be heard up and down the Florida East Coast.
In November 1994, at the Nellis Test Range in Nevada where cameras and radar automatically track military fighters and there targets, a UFO was recorded and its motion photographed.

If you apply some simple physics, what you watch is not possible in the universe as we know it. Here is why.
The Nellis object, in its high acceleration manoeuvre not only did it not show any exhaust "trail", it also showed absolutely NO energy release of any kind.
That means that no energy was expended in the manoeuvres.
That means there was no force or "thrust' involved.
In our universe, massive objects can not make accelerations without energy or thrust.
It is expected that when the UFO makes a 9.2 g acceleration that requires half the thrust of the shuttle, that there be giant fireworks of exhaust plumes and roar.
None of that happened with the Nellis object.
The only way that could happen in our universe is that the UFO had essentially no inertial mass. That the UFO essentially did not experience inertia.

On March 30, 1990, two Belgian F-16s were scrambled by the Belgian Air Force to intercept UFOs reported by SOBEPS, the Belgian society formed to investigate the UFO wave that Belgium was experiencing during 1990 and 1991.
They made repeated brief radar contacts with the objects.
The radar was recorded on video tape. In one contact the UFO made a 22g acceleration, going from essentially zero to 500 mph in one second.
The Belgian UFOs were large black triangles. People often claimed they were 747s. A 747 weighs 200 tons empty, 387 tons full.
If we try to match the pattern of their lights by superimposing their images, we see that while much of the UFO area is solid undefined metal, most of the 747 is air behind the wings.

A conservative estimate would be for the UFO to be 400 tons, but 800 tons is more likely.
What kind of force would be needed to accelerate the 747 from zero to 500 mph in one second ?
We get an idea by calculating the amount of energy involved.
If the kinetic energy initially was small, we can calculate the final kinetic energy of the plane at 500 mph.

                         K.E. = 1/2 mass x (velocity)2

                         The mass is 400 tons = 400,000 kg

                          The velocity is 500 mph = 220 m/s

                         K.E. = 1/2 x 400,000 kg x (220 m/s)2

                                 = (1/2) (4 x 105) (2.2 x 102)2

                                 = 9.68 x 109 joules

the amount of kinetic energy of the 747 sized object at 500 mph. The amount of energy  in one KILOTON of high explosive,  4.18 x 109 joules.
Therefore the energy that would be required to make a 747 go from zero to 500 mph in one second would be equivalent to the explosion of two kilotons of explosive, or that of a small atomic bomb.
In terms of the force required to do the 22g acceleration

                               F = ma

                                  = 400 tons x 22g

                                  = 4(10)5 kilograms x 220 m/sec2

                                  = 8.8(10)7 newtons

                                  = 88,000 Kilonewtons

This is 16 times the shuttle’s 5,400 Kilonewton’s thrust.
If the massOf the UFO was 800 tons, the above figures would be doubled, or 32 times the shuttle's thrust.
We are faced with the following situation:
The radars in F-16s are designed to track and evaluate enemy craft.
They detected and recorded on tape the radar contact with the UFO.
This is what they are designed to do.
They recorded a 22g acceleration by the UFO.
The tape has been checked and the accuracy data has been verified.
This is not swamp gas. This is not some hallucination by feeble minded eye witnesses. This is hard data.
It is about as close to a controlled experiment as you are going to get.
According to the Second Law of Thermodynamics energy used has to be dispersed.
There are no exceptions.
You have heard the rumble of a  jet liner taking off, the fire, smoke, and  roar of a top fuel dragster, and the magnificent spectacle of the shuttle taking off with the rocket plumes hundreds of feet long and a sound that rattles windows up and down the East Coast of Florida.
The force required to produce the UFO acceleration is at least  88,000 kilonewtons.
That is 16 times that of the shuttle, but more likely 32 times.
Therefore to perform the 22g acceleration the UFO would have to create a rocket plume 16 or 32 times as large as the shuttle with 16 or 32 times the sound.
But it did not. It made no sound at all. It did the 22g maneuver in total silence.
Also nothing was visible.
The F-16s never made visual contact with the UFO.
People on the ground saw the UFO but heard and saw nothing else.
Therefore the conclusion is that by the Second Law of Thermodynamics energy used has to be dispersed.
None was seen from the UFO, therefore the energy used by the UFO to create the 22g acceleration was so small that it’s dispersal could not be seen.
The inevitable conclusion is that a 400 or 800 ton UFO has an inertial mass of 1 kg .  

In brief,  The Second Law of Thermodynamic implies:
                      silent motion = imperceptible energy use
   imperceptibe energy use = minimal inertia
                  minimal inertia = inertial mass essentially zero.

The ultimate proof is that UFOs CANNOT make smooth turns.
They can only do sharp angle or "zig-zag" turns, for which their inertial mass has to be essentially zero.
For those of you who have heard the Dr. Einstein insisted the gravitational and inertial mass to be the same for General Relativity, you must remember that Einstein considered a universe of positive gravity only. As far as I know he never dealt with negative mass. 


During the Hudson Valley and Belgian UFO waves, big black triangle UFOs would cruise at walking speed over the countryside in utter silence.
They would then speed up and disappear.
Where did they disappear to ?
Because of the Belgian F-16 encounters we know that UFOs reflect radar, since the fighters were able to lock on briefly.
During the waves UFOs appeared and cruised around daily, why did they not show up on radars constantly ?
And also - where did the UFOs go during daytime ?
But the question is deeper than that.
Near space is one of the most scrutinized areas of real estate in the world.
For decades the NORAD radars have been on hair-trigger alert for Russian missiles coming over the horizon.
Multiple radars constantly scan near space, keeping track of thousands of pieces of space junk so it does not collide with other spacecraft.
Therefore it would seem that the million or so visits by UFOs during the last century did not come from outer space passing through that intensely scrutinized zone, for they then would constantly have triggered alerts.
It appears that UFOs show up on radar only at about the time they actually become visible, and only when they are already fairly low in the atmosphere.
This possibly implies that they do not come from outer space.
In this case perhaps they come from another dimension where radar does not reach.
At about the turn of the Twentieth Century there was a great interest in four dimensional space, due mostly to the great influence of Einstein's 'Theory of Special Relativity'.
It was understood that a real fourth spatial dimension did not exist, because then all knots would unravel, and the inverse square law of gravity and electricity would not bind the moon in its orbit or the electrons around atoms.
A Professor of Mathematics at Brown University, H. P. Manning, wrote a mathematics text on the fourth dimension, 'Geometry of Four Dimension's.
'Scientific American' held a contest for amateurs of essay about the fourth dimension.
The volume of essays arising from the contest, was published as 'The Fourth Dimension Simply Explained' in 1910, and it was edited and with an introduction by Prof. Manning.
He established a tradition in the Brown Math department of work on the 4th dimension which exists to this day.
Notably Prof. Thomas Banchoff has produces computer programs and films on the subject and the illustrated book 'Beyond the Third Dimension'. 
In one of the essays in 'The Fourth Dimension Simply Explained' the author describe what it would look like if a four dimensional object passed through our three dimensional space|:

'a four dimensional being moving steadily in the direction of the fourth-dimension might suddenly appear at our side within a room destitute of openings. Continuing this motion, the final limiting solid of this body would pass beyond our three-dimensional space into the fourth dimension, and he would disappear as suddenly and as inexplicably as he had appeared.'

In the Banchoff book there is an illustration of precisely this description. 
All four dimensional objects have parts which are three dimensional objects.
A four dimensional square has 16 faces each of which is a solid three dimensional cube.
A four dimensional hollow sphere appears as two solid 3-dimensinal tori (donuts) only one of which can be seen at one time.
As the 4-dimensional figure comes through our 3-dimensional space we can only see the 3-dimensional parts.
Therefore the original statement about the 4-dimensional figure therefore also holds true for 3-dimensional ones.
If a three dimensional figure came in from another dimension it would appear exactly like the description above, except when it was in our space it would be entirely in it, with no parts still invisible.
About half the authors in 'The Fourth Dimension Explained' try to analogize the relationship between three dimensions and a fourth by considering a fictitious two-dimensional world and how it would relate to three dimensions.
In that vein, suppose a two-dimensional world consisted of the surface of a lake as viewed from the bottom. One could then see the skis of a water skier moving on the surface of the lake.

Suddenly the skier comes upon a large rectangle, and instead of crashing into it, the skier disappears, only to reappear on the other side.
Of course we know that the water skier only came up on a ski ramp and used it to leap over to the other side.
A viewer confined to two dimensions would think that the skier went through the block.
As the skier flies through the air, the tips of his skis are elevated, and when he lands, the rear edge of the skis enter the surface first, and the rest of skis settle in the water.
What we have learned from this example is this: 1) entities able to enter another dimension appear to have the ability go through objects or walls, and 2) when an object enters from another dimension, it does not do so all at once, but gradually, like the skis settling in the water.
Let us now try to make a model of the 4-dimensional case.
We will try to make this model as simple as possible.
The real world model may be much more complicated.

Suppose we have a 3-dimensional space with coordinates x, y, and z.
Let us now add a fourth coordinate p, which perpendicular to all the others.
Let us say an object, say a UFO, is in the space x-y-p.
Because the p direction is invisible to us, we can not see the UFO.

Lets now say the UFO approaches the origin of the p coordinate and then pokes its nose into our x-y-z space.
Where the origin is and how the UFO does this, we do not know.
A three dimensional object can only be in three dimensions at one time, therefore the nose of the UFO is in x-y-z space, while the rest of it is in x-y-p space.
You see that the entrance from another higher dimension into our x-y-z is piecemeal, and not all at once.
As the UFO proceeds, it now is totally in x-y-z space and not in x-y-p space.
The UFO now moves around in our world.
Why are we talking about UFOs ?
Because this is precisely what eye witnesses have reported UFOs doing.
Over 10% of witnesses said that the UFO “shrunk” out of existence.

We know of course that large material objects like a UFO don’t “shrink”.
Their piecemeal disappearance at night-time is merely interpreted by the eye as shrinkage. Witnesses say: “that the UFO, the size of a football field just collapsed on itself and vanished."
They compared what they saw with “a huge telescoping antenna folding until it is very small.” 
In another report: “The lights went out one by one, and, when the last light went out, the object had vanished like the Cheshire Cat’s smile.”.
The lights going out one by one is precisely what happens.

as the UFO withdraws into another dimension.
If you consider that almost all sightings are at night, it is very possible that even when a UFO is perceived to be moving away, that may be an illusion.
When something gets smaller we unconsciously think it is receding because we are used to perspective.
The reduction in size may actually be the apparent shrinking of the UFO as it enters another dimension, especially since the inevitable outcome of the motion is disappearance.
The actual percentage of shrinking disappearance may be much higher than perceived.
During the night of April 29, 1990 when the Belgian F-16s made radar contact with the UFOs, the contacts usually lasted only a few seconds, and the UFO would disappear from the screen only to reappear somewhere else a few moments later.
Why would the contacts last only a few seconds ?
One could invent various scenarios where the UFO turned sidewise, or blocked the radar. Possibly -  but in the 'Hudson Valley Wave' a decade earlier the authors remarked:

“And there were many people who say the object simply disappear in an instant, often only to reappear a moment later in a blinding flash of light.”

An Officer Turnbull of the Greenburgh Police, and his wife, saw a UFO and the lights went out suddenly.
It was “as if the object had become invisible”.
Officer Turnbull searched for the shape behind the lights but could not see it.

“About 40 seconds later, the lights suddenly came back on, but in a different section of the sky not far from their original position.”

Since Officer could not see any shape were the lights had been perhaps we could conclude that the UFO DID disappear, and then suddenly reappeared.
And when the Belgian F-16s lost radar contact, it was not because of some radar ECM countermeasures, but that the UFO actually did disappear as in the Hudson Valley cases both from sight and radar.
This disappearance is consistent with the fact that UFOs mostly appear at fairly low altitudes, and not traversing near space where they would constantly be setting off alarms between the ICBM crews of the superpowers.
There is considerable evidence that UFOs are acutely aware of the situation on Earth, and they take great care not to cause a World War by accident.
It would seem that UFOs have the uncanny power to simply pop into our universe from another dimension, and, at will, pop out again.

          The Andromeda Strain        
The Andromeda Strain
author: Michael Crichton
name: Chris
average rating: 3.51
book published: 1969
rating: 4
read at: 2017/06/20
date added: 2017/07/22
shelves: speculative-fiction, thriller
"Certainly the Wildfire team was under severe stress, but they were also prepared to make mistakes. They had even predicted that this would occur. What they did not anticipate was the magnitude, the staggering dimensions of their error. They did not expect that their ultimate error would be a compound of a dozen small clues that were missed, a handful of crucial facts that were dismissed."
-- From Chapter 24, The Andromeda Strain

Michael Crichton's 1969 techno-thriller is in some ways an update of H G Wells' The War of the Worlds, but instead of invading Martians being defeated by a earth-borne microbes (or "putrefactive and disease bacteria" as Wells has it, our "microscopic allies") here it is the extraterrestrial microscopic organisms that threaten humankind. Brought back to earth by a Project Scoop satellite, they kill human beings by almost instantly clotting their blood. A top secret team codenamed Wildfire is tasked with retrieving, analysing, assessing and counteracting this virulent invader before it spreads to the general population. Holed up in an underground lab, they have a scant few days to come up with solutions; this being a thriller, things do not go smoothly.

Put thus baldly The Andromeda Strain appears to be a fairly humdrum novel, its premise familiar from scores of dystopic novel plotlines and SFF films and TV series. But, bearing in mind the date of its release -- at the height of a flurry of manned space missions (though just three years from the last Apollo mission to the moon) and on the crest of a wave of optimism in the march of science and technology in the face of Cold War tensions -- its then impact isn't hard to imagine. The nightmare scenario of an invisible killer chimed in with fears of Russian aggression -- remember, the USSR and its Warsaw Pact allies had in 1968 invaded Czechoslovakia, a country at the heart of Europe. While the US became more mired in a disastrous Vietnam conflict, despite opposing a technologically poorer nation, on the other hand it had sent a mission around the moon; and computer sciences seemed to be announcing new advances on a daily basis.

In such an extraordinary time of upheaval Crichton's novel comes as little surprise. For this work of speculative fiction he chose to write in what would now be called a creative nonfiction style, buttressing it with much that would not be unexpected in a scientific paper, such as diagrams, computer print-outs and an extensive academic bibliography. Though some of this material, typical of the so-called hard SF genre, has now dated, what to me seems extraordinary is that half a century later much of it is still recognisably current when compared to the less realistic SF offerings then available in popular culture, especially in the visual media (for example TV series such as Lost in Space, Star Trek and Doctor Who).

The Andromeda Strain is largely plot-driven. Few of the characters, though mostly distinctive, remain truly memorable: bacteriologist Jeremy Stone is team leader and near enough infallible; Mark Hall, a surgeon, is accorded almost the only chance to play action hero; because of equipment failure pathologist Charles Burton seems a real goner at one stage; and microbiologist Peter Leavitt's unwillingness to face a personal truth nearly puts the whole enterprise -- and the world's human population -- at risk. Otherwise their roles seem to be to, stage by stage, elucidate for us readers the team's findings and tentative conclusions. That is, until the next crisis develops.

These crises take various forms. First there are the purely mechanical and -- to a lesser extent -- system failures, which the team have to respond to on an ad hoc basis. Then there are the human errors, not least the release of the deadly bug in the first place. Some of these human errors are procedural, from not following protocols to the letter, while others are due to human failings, pure and simple, the result of fatigue and stress compounded by the urgency of the situation. Unless I have missed something, there doesn't appear to be a crisis engineered from sheer malice -- a relief to this reader, wary of the habitual insertion of a villainous adversary in much of the more populist examples of this genre.

In short, because of the clues presented right from the start we are aware that a crisis of global magnitude is averted, so that the jeopardy premised by the novel is ultimately averted. What Crichton only alludes to without revisiting it later on (leaving it to ferment in the reader's mind) are the habitual risks taken by governments in sending objects into space: the dangers of inadvertent contamination, the foolhardiness in deliberately searching for and possibly retrieving microscopic alien organisms (for what ulterior purpose?) and, most worrying, the potential disasters waiting from the steady and unceasing accumulation of space junk in orbit around the earth.

The catastrophic risks from these scenarios (particularly the last) have increased, not diminished, in the five decades since the author published his fictional account; in this respect The Andromeda Strain -- while undoubtedly entertaining -- in the final analysis takes on the role of a modern Cassandra. Let's hope it's not too late.

          Robot Mechanic Could Prevent Satellites From Becoming Space Junk        
DARPA plans to send a robotic service technician to repair broken satellites in geosynchronous orbit
          Space Junk, Defensive Laser Strikes and Conspiracy Theories        
Talking of garbage, pollutants and unsavoury junk swilling about where it is unwanted but where nobody is really sure what to do with it – let’s move over to the reader comments section of The Scotsman.