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Posts Tagged ‘Alien

“Who you gonna call?”*…

 

Let’s say your house is on fire, or overrun by a gang of psychotic raccoons. You don’t hesitate—you take out your phone, and you call the fire department, or animal control, and then firemen/raccoon-wranglers are promptly dispatched to your home. These are well-established protocols, essential to the maintenance of a mostly not-on-fire, feral-animal-free society.

But what about UFOs? What about extraterrestrial beings? Faced with some six-eyed slime-being rooting through your trash, or a spacecraft idling above your backyard (provided it’s not Elon Musk’s “nuclear alien UFO” again), who exactly would you think to call? And what would whoever you called do, when you called them?…

Find out at: “If You Find Aliens, Who Do You Call?

[Picture above: source]

* Ray Parker, Jr., theme from Ghostbusters

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As we let our fingers do the walking, we might recall that it was on this date in 1953 that the Air Force declassified and released a file in which Lt. David C. Brigham, the pilot of an F-84 “Thunderjet,” reported that a small, metallic, disc-shaped object made a controlled, sweeping pass at the American jet fighter-bomber over the Sea of Japan.  “It closed rapidly and just before it would have flown into his fuselage, it decelerated to his air-speed almost instantaneously, the pilot reported.  “In doing so it flipped up its edge at approximately a 90-degree bank. Then it fluttered within 20 feet of his fuselage for perhaps two or three seconds, pulled away and around his starboard (right) wing, appearing to flip once as it hit the slipstream behind his wing tip fuel tank…  Then it passed him, crossed in front of him and pulled up abruptly, appearing to accelerate, and shot out of sight in a steep, almost vertical climb.  It did so more sharply than a plane could have done.  Its maneuvering throughout was always clear and precise.”

F-84 “Thunderjet,” ca. 1952

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HAPPY MOZART’S BIRTHDAY!

 

Written by LW

January 27, 2018 at 1:01 am

“To declare that Earth must be the only planet with life in the universe would be inexcusably bigheaded of us”*…

 

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If any intelligent life in our galaxy intercepts the Voyager spacecraft, if they evolved the sense of vision, and if they can decode the instructions provided, these 116 images are all they will know about our species and our planet, which by then could be long gone…

When Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 launched into space in 1977, their mission was to explore the outer solar system, and over the following decade, they did so admirably.

With an 8-track tape memory system and onboard computers that are thousands of times weaker than the phone in your pocket, the two spacecraft sent back an immense amount of imagery and information about the four gas giants, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune.

But NASA knew that after the planetary tour was complete, the Voyagers would remain on a trajectory toward interstellar space, having gained enough velocity from Jupiter’s gravity to eventually escape the grasp of the sun. Since they will orbit the Milky Way for the foreseeable future, the Voyagers should carry a message from their maker, NASA scientists decided.

The Voyager team tapped famous astronomer and science popularizer Carl Sagan to compose that message. Sagan’s committee chose a copper phonograph LP as their medium, and over the course of six weeks they produced the “Golden Record”: a collection of sounds and images that will probably outlast all human artifacts on Earth…

More (including an interactive decoding of the symbols on the disc) at “The 116 photos NASA picked to explain our world to aliens.”

And for an update on NASA”s attempts at interstellar communication, check here.

* Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Death By Black Hole

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As we contemplate co-habitation of the universe, we might send out-of-this-world birthday greetings to Alan B. Shepard; he was born on this date in 1923.  A naval aviator and test pilot, he was selected in the first class of American astronauts, the “Mercury Seven”; in 1961, he piloted the first American manned mission, “Freedom 7,” becoming the first American (and second man, after Yuri Gagarin) into space.  Ten years later, he was part of the Apollo 14 crew, piloting the lunar module for Nasa’s third successful moon landing.

Shepard during the “Freedom 7” flight

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Written by LW

November 18, 2015 at 1:01 am

“I’ll reshoot a corridor 13 different ways, and you’ll never recognize them”*…

 

… one of hundreds of stills of dark passages available at the Sci-Fi Corridor Archive.

* Ridley Scott (from whose Alien [1979] the above example is taken)

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As we watch our steps, we might recall that it was on this date in 1958 that Kurt Neumann‘s cinematic tale of technologically-enabled metamorphosis, The Fly, premiered. With a screenplay by James Clavell (his first), it spawned two sequels and a remake (by David Cronenberg).  The original has a “95% fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

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Written by LW

August 29, 2015 at 1:01 am

“Everyone’s quick to blame the alien”*…

 

In August of 1977, volunteer astronomer Jerry Ehman reviewed readings from Ohio State’s Big Ear Radio Observatory (that’s a scan, above, of Ehman’s notations on the print-out he was assessing)…

He was sitting in his kitchen when he spotted a pattern that a couple of physicists had theorized 18 years earlier would signify alien chatter, according to Michael Brooks, the author of 13 Things That Don’t Make Sense . The printout read 6EQUJ5, a human way of cataloging the 72-second burst of sound registering at a frequency of 1420 MHz. The significance? E.T. may have phoned our home long before Spielberg set otherworldly hearts aglow with his 1982 film…

Scientists have rules out terrestrial sources– the signal came from “out there.”  So there are two possibilities: It was an actual alien communication, or Ehman stumbled across a previously undiscovered natural astrophysical phenomenon.  And as H. Paul Shuch (an engineer, radio astronomer, and executive director emeritus of the SETI League) observes, “either one would be worthy of a Nobel Prize, if only we knew which.”

Read the whole story at “The ‘Wow’ Signal. or That Time Jerry Ehman May Have Heard From Aliens.”

* Aeschylus, The Suppliant Maidens

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As we phone home, we might spare a thought for Martin Gardner; he died on this date in 2010.  Though not an academic, nor ever a formal student of math or science, he wrote widely and prolifically on both subjects in such popular books as The Ambidextrous Universe and The Relativity Explosion and as the “Mathematical Games” columnist for Scientific American.  Indeed, his elegant– and understandable– puzzles delighted professional and amateur readers alike, and helped inspire a generation of young mathematicians.

Gardner’s interests were wide; in addition to the math and science that were his power alley, he studied and wrote on topics that included magic, philosophy, religion, and literature (c.f., especially his work on Lewis Carroll– including the delightful Annotated Alice— and on G.K. Chesterton).  And he was a fierce debunker of pseudoscience: a founding member of CSICOP, and contributor of a monthly column (“Notes of a Fringe Watcher,” from 1983 to 2002) in Skeptical Inquirer, that organization’s monthly magazine.

 

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Written by LW

May 22, 2015 at 1:01 am

“I have had UFO experiences, and yet, at the same time, I can easily be convinced that none of it is true”*…

 

In 1995, as part of the Walt Disney Company Presents series (that was hosted by Michael Eisner, doing his not-very-successful best to channel Walt), Disney aired “Alien Encounters.”  A documentary that opens with footage of “an actual spacecraft from another world, piloted by alien intelligence,” and the pronouncement that “intelligent life from distant galaxies is now attempting to make open contact with the human race,” it only aired once.

* Frank Black (AKA Black Francis, of the Pixies)

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As we look to the skies, we might spare a thought for Gertrude Stein; she died on this date in 1946.  An American ex-pat, Stein was an author, poet, and memoirist (The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas).  But she was probably most impactful and is best remembered as a hostess and mentor to a generation of writers (e.g., Hemingway,described her salon in A Moveable Feast) and artists (e.g., Picasso) in Paris, where– “the mother of us all”**– she held court for forty years.

Carl Van Vechten’s 1935 portrait of Stein

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** The Mother of Us All was the title of a Virgil Thomson opera for which Stein wrote the libretto.  And while the subject of the opera, Susan B. Anthony, certainly deserves the epithet, so, many have observed, did its author.

 

Written by LW

July 27, 2014 at 1:01 am

First Impressions…

 

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Via the always-rewarding Dangerous Minds, a simple– and simply wonderful– graduation film made by Jurjen Versteeg, who explains the idea behind his project:

Designed as a possible title sequence for a fictitious documentary, this film shows a history of the title sequence in a nutshell. The sequence includes all the names of title designers who had a revolutionary impact on the history and evolution of the title sequence. The names of the title designers all refer to specific characteristics of the revolutionary titles that they designed.

This film refers to elements such as the cut and shifted characters of Saul Bass’ Psycho title, the colored circles of Maurice Binder’s design for Dr. No and the contemporary designs of Kyle Cooper and Danny Yount.

This title sequence refers to the following designers and their titles: Georges Méliès – Un Voyage Dans La Lune, Saul Bass – Psycho, Maurice Binder – Dr. No, Stephen Frankfurt – To Kill A Mockingbird, Pablo Ferro – Dr. Strangelove, Richard Greenberg – Alien, Kyle Cooper – Seven, Danny Yount – Kiss Kiss Bang Bang / Sherlock Holmes.

 

As we remember to “tell ’em what we’re going to tell ’em,” we might recall that it was on this date in 1946 that the first Cannes Film Festival opened.  It had originally been scheduled for September, 1939 as an “answer” to the Venice Film Fest, which had become a propaganda vehicle for Mussolini and Hitler; but the outbreak of World War II occasioned a delay.

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There are some places in the universe you don’t go alone…

Your correspondent is back, and bearing gifts…  Our furiously funny friends at Blogadilla (“The Tijuana of the Internet”) have shared a Sweded version of Aliens, James Cameron’s sequel to Ridley Scott’s singular original.  Created by Tim(botron), one of Blogadilla’s co-conspirators, it’s a complement to the “pre-makes” that (R)D considered just before the break– and a reminder that, in the right hands, $100 can go a long way…

In the time-honored tradition of re-gifting, here, Dear Readers, it is:

As we pass on the Gummi Bears, we might note that in Huichol, Mexico today is the Festival of Wawtsari (God of Deer Peyote)– that’s to say, the peyote mushroom festival.  And in Egypt, it’s the Feast of Khepera, The Beetle God… in whose honor we might enjoy:

Rootworm Beetle Dip

2 cup low-fat cottage cheese
1 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons skim milk
1/2 cup reduced calorie mayonnaise
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon onion, chopped
1 1/2 tsp. dill weed
1 1/2 tsp. Beau Monde
1 cup dry-roasted rootworm beetles

Blend first 3 ingredients. Add remaining ingredients & chill (out?).

Courtesy, Iowa State University Department of Entomology’s “Insect Recipes

Disclaimer: The Department of Entomology at Iowa State University is not responsible for gastric distress, allergic reactions, feelings of repulsion, or other problems resulting from the ingestion of foods represented on these pages.

Neither is your correspondent…

ISU master chefs Kathy Gee and Julie Stephens
(pictured above with Jay Leno) Photo: NBC

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Written by LW

September 28, 2009 at 12:01 am

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