The Turk: History’s First Chess Computer?

Two centuries before Big Blue, there was the Turk, history’s first chess computer. From 1770 to 1854, this mechanical marvel played and defeated all sorts of challengers, including many top-ranked chess players as well as Benjamin Franklin. It wasn’t until 1857 that the Turk’s secret was revealed…it was a giant fake. Here’s more from  Krešimir Josić at the University of Houston:

The Turk was touted as an early robot that could play chess at the highest level. Built in Vienna in 1770 by the inventor Wolfgang von Kempelen, the machine consisted of a large pedestal, housing intricate machinery on top of which stood a chessboard. To this box was attached the upper half of a men dressed in oriental robes and a turban. Each performance began with an elaborate introduction to convince the audience that the Turk is really a machine. The automaton would then face a challenger.

The Turk first dazzled the court of the empress Maria Theresa in Vienna. The machine moved its own pieces, and would instantly recognize illegal moves by its opponent. It offered a surprisingly good game of chess! The automaton soon became a sensation, toured Europe and North America, and was matched against some of the best chess players of the time…

(See the rest at the University of Houston)

 

Lost Life Found Deep Beneath Antarctica?

Cells containing DNA have been found deep beneath Antarctica’s ice. But the most important question still needs to be answered…are they still alive? Here’s more from Crux Guest Blogger at Discover:

The search continues for life in subglacial Lake Whillans, 2,600 feet below the surface of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet—but a thrilling preliminary result has detected signs of life. At 6:20am on January 28, four people in sterile white Tyvek suits tended to a winch winding cable onto the drill platform. One person knocked frost off the cable as it emerged from the ice borehole a few feet below. The object of their attention finally rose into sight: a gray plastic vessel, as long as a baseball bat, filled with water from Lake Whillans, half a mile below.

The bottle was hurried into a 40-foot cargo container outfitted as a laboratory on skis. Some of the lake water was squirted into bottles of media in order to grow whatever microbes might inhabit the lake. Those cultures could require weeks to produce results. But one test has already produced an interesting preliminary finding. When lake water was viewed under a microscope, cells were seen: their tiny bodies glowed green in response to DNA-sensitive dye. It was the first evidence of life in an Antarctic subglacial lake…

(See the rest at Discover)

Crop Circles: Photographic Proof from 1945?

Greg Jefferys, future crop circles PhD candidate, claims to have found photographic evidence for crop circles in Google Earth’s 1945 overlay. Before you UFO fanatics get too excited, he attributes the circles to natural phenomena, namely ball lightening. Here’s more from The Huffington Post:

Crop circles dating back to 1945 are proof the phenomenon is no modern hoax, a Tasmanian historian claims. The mystery of the increasingly intricate patterns was supposedly solved after several high-profile cases were revealed to be the work of artists and mischief-makers armed with barrels, planks of wood and plenty of spare time. Credit for the hoaxes has been laid largely at the feet of pranksters Dave Chorley and Doug Bower, who in 1991 announced they had been pulling the wool over people’s eyes since 1978.

But research by Greg Jefferys has revealed evidence of the strange circles in the English countryside at least 33 years before Chorley and Bower took credit for the phenomena – which until then had been attributed to UFOs and alien activity. Jefferys, who has a degree in archaeology, was prompted to research the matter after reading a report on crop circles in an 1880 edition of the science journal Nature.

The 59-year-old’s research focuses on images from Google Earth’s new 1945 overlay, which Jefferys studied for more than 300 hours. The overlay is a series of photos taken towards the end of World War II by the RAAF and comprises around 35% of the 1945 overlay of England presently available online…

(See the rest at The Huffington Post)

The Sound of a Nuclear Bomb?

On March 17, 1953, the U.S. military detonated an experimental nuclear weapons test. This test, part of Operation Upshot-Knothole, was designed to calm public fears about such weapons. The raw footage of this test was recently discovered. What does a nuclear weapons test sound like?

What was the Operation Upshot-Knothole Nuclear Weapons Test?

Operation Upshot Knothole was a series of 11 nuclear weapons tests conducted in Nevada during 1953. The March 17, 1953 test was called Annie. It was an “open shot” test, meaning reporters were allowed to view it. The purpose was to “calm public fears about weapon testing.”A secondary purpose was to study the effect of a nuclear blast on houses, cars, and bomb shelters. Researchers concluded people inside a car with open windows could survive if they were at least ten blocks from ground zero. They also decided a basement could protect people at 3,500 feet while the home itself could remain standing at 7,500 feet (assuming no flames).

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

You’ve probably seen videos of nuclear weapons tests in the past. Most of those are dubbed, probably with stock footage, so the detonation and its resulting noise occur at the same time.However, the speed of light travels at 671 million miles per hour. The speed of sound is much slower, just 768 miles per hour. Thus, we would expect to see the mushroom cloud of a nuclear explosion well before we actually hear it.

The video below comes from the National Archives. It’s the raw footage of the 1953 Annie test and was filmed about 7 miles away from the detonation. The explosion takes place at 2:37. You can see the mushroom cloud starting at 2:42. The sound doesn’t appear until 3:09, a full 32 seconds after the initial white light.

“The audio is what makes this great. Put on some headphones and listen to it all the way through — it’s much more intimate than any other test film I’ve seen. You get a much better sense of what these things must have been like, on the ground, as an observer, than from your standard montage of blasts. Murmurs in anticipation; the slow countdown over a megaphone; the reaction at the flash of the bomb; and finally — a sharp bang, followed by a long, thundering growl. That’s the sound of the bomb.” ~ Alex Wellerstein, The Sound of the Bomb (1953)

The Baltic Anomaly: The Fire and Ice Theory?

The strange Baltic Anomaly has baffled the world for over a year. Recently, the Ocean X Team returned to the Anomaly in order a conduct a new investigation, spurring renewed rumors and speculations in the process. But what is it? Is it something artificial? Or is it a natural formation made from…fire and ice?

The Baltic Anomaly

On June 19, 2011, the Ocean X Team used side-scan sonar to “photograph” a massive object deep in the Baltic Sea, approximately 260 feet below surface. Peter Lindberg, co-founder of the Ocean X Team, jokingly declared “Hey guys, we have a UFO!” However, after a new expedition, the Team discovered the Anomaly primarily consisted of large rocks. The exact nature of those rocks, which we call the Circle, as well as a 985 foot runway leading up to them (the Tracks), remain mysteries.

Since that time, the Ocean X Team has gone on a second expedition, released a few photographs and some video, and provided lots of mysterious information via interviews conducted primarily with the Team’s UFO-centric Facebook community as well as websites devoted to UFOs. However, very little concrete data has emerged. Skeptics, including us, have questioned whether or not the Baltic Anomaly is a “hoax” of sorts.

The Ocean X Team has vigorously defended itself from charges of a hoax. They claim to be ordinary treasure hunters who happened to stumble upon a strange mystery. They have assured the world that they want answers just as badly as everyone else.

Outstanding Physical Mysteries?

Let’s get one thing straight…the Baltic Anomaly “evidence” available to the public is quite limited and of very poor quality. Most of the information is in the form of unsubstantiated testimony. Unfortunately, some of this testimony has changed over time (for example, the mysterious “egg shaped” hole is now referred to as a perfectly round hole). Other pieces of this testimony are highly speculative, such as reports of malfunctioning equipment and other odd phenomena. That being said, here are a few of the “physical mysteries” surrounding the Baltic Anomaly.

  • Strange Shapes: One end of the Circle has a rounded, circular shape. The top of the Circle contains numerous right angles and carved pathways which apparently resemble the shapes of “corridors,” “rooms,” and even a “staircase.
  • “The Hole: There is a hole on top of the Circle. In its initial statement, the Ocean X Team described it as “egg shaped.” More recently, Peter Lindberg, co-founder of the Ocean X Team, referred to it as “round.
  • The Fireplaces: The Team photographed several circular rock formations on top of the circle which resembled “small fireplaces.” The stones were covered with something that looked like soot. Stefan Hogeborn, one of the divers, described them as being “like four or five pearl necklaces with stones, each a few decimeters in diameter.” For reference, a decimeter is equal to roughly four inches.
  • Mysterious Stone Samples: The Team collected two stones from the area. One of the stones was apparently indigenous to the region but normally found under the Earth’s crust. The other stone was common to the mid-Atlantic.
  • Odd Materials: The Circle’s exterior was initially described as resembling sandstone. Lately, it has been described as “granite.” When divers broke off a piece, they discovered the inside was black, like volcanic rock.
  • Volcanic Activity: No known volcanoes exist in the Baltic Sea. However, the Team spotted a 50-meter tall mountain that resembles a “black smoker” several miles from the Circle. The Ocean X Team also believes magma resides underneath the Circle and in the vicinity.

Fire & Ice

There are well over a dozen theories by now which attempt to explain the Baltic Anomaly. They range from the natural (pillow lava, rock formation) to the artificial (a shipwreck, an artifact of an ancient civilization, a forgotten Nazi sub trap, and even a sunken UFO).

We’ve gone on record stating our opinion that the Circle may have been formed by several extinguished “black smokers.” We’ve also pointed out how the last Ice Age could’ve formed the “small fireplaces.” However, we haven’t really taken the time to put these pieces together into one comprehensive theory. So, here it goes…we believe the Circle was formed by “fire and ice.”

We are currently in an ice age, known as the Pliocene-Quaternary glaciation. It started 2.58 million years ago. During this period, ice sheets have advanced and retreated on a cyclical basis. To make a long story short, the area now encompassed by the Baltic Sea was heavily eroded during these cycles, eventually forming a deep basin.

While covered in ice, we believe a sort of subglacial submarine eruption took place in the area now encompassed by the Baltic Anomaly. This could’ve been accomplished via now-extinguished hydrothermal vents or via a normal submarine eruption.

Magma and/or dissolved minerals was expelled into the thick ice sheet. It was hot enough to melt out space underneath the ice. However, it wasn’t hot enough to melt a hole through it. Thus, a large subglacial mound formation known as pillow lava was created. The video below, from the movie “Pele Meets the Sea,” shows pillow lava flowing underwater off Hawaii’s coast. This particular lava erupted on land and flowed into the ocean. However, underwater pillow lava probably forms in a similar manner.

And that’s it. In other words, we think the Baltic Anomaly is most likely an ancient pillow lava formation, created by the interaction of fire and ice.

Back to the Outstanding Mysteries…

But how does the “fire and ice” theory hold up to some of the outstanding mysteries we listed above? Let’s take a look…

  • Strange Shapes: According to the Encyclopedia of Volcanoes, “the glassy surfaces of pillows are not smooth but have cracks, corrugations, and linear grooves, many of which intersect at right angles.” Also, lava pillows “are found in a wide variety of shapes including near-spherical bulbous pillows.”
  • The Hole: This could be the remains of an extinguished hydrothermal vent. Also, sometimes lava “pushes aside a portion of the outer pillow crust and drains out through the hole to form a spilled pool outside the broken pillow.”
  • The Fireplaces: The “fireplaces” might actually constitute moraines. In other words, as the ice sheets retreated from the pillow lava, small rocks slid down a cone of ice to form a circular shape on top of it.
  • Mysterious Stone Samples: The stone normally found under the Earth’s crust could’ve been driven to the surface by the submarine eruption. The other stone could’ve arrived in the area via any number of normal means.
  • Odd Materials: The chipped, granite-like surface of the Circle is consistent with what one would expect to find at a pillow lava formation. Also, the black interior could be explained by a heavy presence of sulfide. Incidentally, sulfide would also explain the substance “resembling soot” which covered the rocks dotting the exterior.
  • Volcanic Activity: The 50-meter tall mountain resembling a “black smoker” indicates the presence of volcanic activity in the region. Also, although no known volcanoes exist in the Baltic Sea, geothermal heat is actually fairly common. Regardless, if the “fire and ice” theory is correct, the volcano or black smoker would’ve existed thousands of years ago when ice lasted covered the Baltic Sea.

Guerrilla Explorer’s Take

So, there you have it. Unfortunately, the lack of concrete information makes it difficult to provide much in the way of extensive analysis. However, the “fire and ice” theory appears to explain most of the outstanding physical mysteries surrounding the Circle.

The Ocean X Team is currently on-site, investigating the Anomaly. They are expected to return in late July.

 

Guerrilla Explorer’s Coverage of the Baltic Anomaly

 

Avoiding Earthquakes & Tornados?

Earthquakes and tornados are some of nature’s deadliest weapons. For many years, researchers have gathered data on their frequencies and magnitudes. What can we learn from that information?

Earthquakes

Here’s a map created by John Nelson, a mapping manager with data-visualization software maker IDV solutions. It shows every major earthquake (203,186 in total) that has been recorded since 1898. You probably already knew this, but if you want to avoid earthquakes, stay away from the Pacific Rim.

“We only started recording hard core in the late 1960’s. Also, you’d be right to assume that areas with more sensors record more earthquakes (but that’s why they are there, so round and round we go), though they can pretty well pinpoint epicenters from all over.” ~ John Nelson, Mapping Manager

Tornados

John has also created an interesting map showing the path of tornados over the United States. It includes all tornados that “touched down” between 1950 and 2011. Nelson has several other related tornado maps on his website, showing the data by season as well as by F-Scale. Most of the activity takes place in Tornado Alley, usually known as the area between the Rocky Mountains and the Appalachian Mountains. But there’s more activity on the East Coast than we anticipated. The brightness of the lines indicates the F-Scale, or Fujita Scale, of the Tornado. The F-Scale measures the intensity of tornados based on the amount of damage they inflict on buildings as well as vegetation.

Interestingly enough, West Virginia is surrounded by tornados yet appears to get very little activity within its borders. We suppose that could be a data flaw. But if not, your best bet to avoid tornados seems to be sticking to the West Coast or holing up in West Virginia.

The Mysterious “Weeping” Statue of Jesus?

On March 10, 2012, an Indian skeptic named Sanal Edamaruku traveled to Mumbai to investigate a mysterious statue of Christ. The statue appeared to be “weeping” tears which proceeded to run over its feet. Was the statue the real deal? Or was it a hoax?

Background

Sanal Edamaruku is a well-known rationalist. He has “exposed the man-made nature of the ‘divine flame’ at Sabarimala, and successfully challenged Hindu godmen on TV.” He is also the President of Rationalist International. This organization is intended to “argue for a rational approach to human problems, suggest reasoned alternatives to religious dogmas, defend freedom of thought and civil liberties and strive for the secularization of politics, society and educational system.”

On March 5, Sanal appeared on a television program in Delhi, India. At the time, the priest of the Our Lady of Velankanni church in Mumbai, India, along with several organizations, were “promoting the idea that water dripping from the feet of a statue of Jesus was a sign from God.” Hundreds of true believers had gathered at the Church to consume this “holy water.” Sanal proceeded to question the reports. So, the TV station flew him to visit the church and investigate the possible hoax on March 10.

Miracle or Hoax?

When he arrived, Sanal saw a priest leading a prayer near the cross. The “holy water” was being distributed to the participants. He also saw a photograph of the dripping water over which someone had written the world “miracle.” However, he wasn’t allowed to take a sample of the water for testing purposes.

So, Sanal investigated a nearby washroom. He pulled away some stones and discovered a blockage in the drainage system. This blocked water needed an outlet. And it found one in the statue.

“It was very simple: Water from the washroom, which had been blocked in the clogged drainage system, had been transmitted via capillary action into the adjacent walls and the base of the cross as well as into the wooden cross itself. The water came out through a nail hole and ran down over the statue’s feet.” ~ Sanal Edamaruku

In other words, the “holy water” was really just sewage run-off from a leaky drain. When Sanal returned to TV, he accused the Church of a hoax, describing it as “miracle mongering.” He specifically called out the PR campaign to support the “miracle” as well as the photographs they distributed of it. Church officials, who were present for the discussion, demanded he apologize and retract his statements. Sanal refused to do so.

Controversy Erupts!

On April 10, two separate individuals filed FIRs, or First Information Reports, against Sanal. The first was filed by Joseph Dias, general secretary of the Catholic Secular Forum (CSF). The second was filed by Agnelo Fernandes, president of Maharashtra Christian Youth Forum.

In India, an FIR is a document used to kickstart a police investigation. In the case of Sanal, both individuals accused him of a violation under Section 295 of the Indian Penal Code, which outlaws “deliberately hurting religious feelings and attempting malicious acts intended to outrage the religious sentiments of any class or community.”

“We never said it was a miracle, though devotees came to pray and atone for their sins. It was sad that it was claimed to be a money-making scam. Not a single penny was collected and even those who insisting on making donations, were told to feed the poor.” ~ Augustine Palett, Parish Priest, Velankanni Church, Irla.

Sanal, in turn, claims the FIRs are being used to silence his point of view on the “hoax.” He plans to use this opportunity to directly challenge the blasphemy law to India’s Supreme Court.

“I’m determined, I have a duty to develop scientific temper and promote inquiry so on these two grounds we will challenge the very veracity of this law in the Supreme Court.” ~ Sanal Edamaruku

Guerrilla Explorer’s Take

We wholeheartedly support Sanal Edamaruku in this endeavor. All too often, modern rationalists embrace a sort of relativism in which absolute truth is sacrificed for so-called individual truths. So, we find a lot to like about Sanal. He sought the truth and when he found a hoax, took it to the masses.

As many of you know, we here at Guerrilla Explorer have been the lead skeptics of the Baltic Anomaly. We’ve questioned the Ocean X Team’s vague and conspiratorial statements. We’ve pointed out that one of the co-founders of the Ocean X team, Mr. Dennis Åsberg has professional acting experience (albeit from several years ago). Thanks to an anonymous tipster, we’ve also learned that the Team created their website three months BEFORE they claim to have discovered the Anomaly.

And now, the Ocean X Team is attempting to turn their publicity into a major financial windfall, complete with a documentary produced by Titan Television, submarine rides, picture sales, sponsorships (it appears they’ve already used equipment from their sponsors to look for shipwrecks at a separate site), and most recently, a clothing line. All of these things don’t necessarily mean a hoax is at work, but it’s enough to raise a bunch of red flags in our mind.

We’ve received much grief for our position, especially from UFO enthusiasts. That’s not terribly surprising. Many people, especially true believers, find skepticism frustrating. However, we think it’s extremely important.

“Question: Why do people so readily believe in miracles?

Answer: For many, the regressive belief in superstitions and miracles is an escape from the hardships of life. Once trapped into irrationalism, they become more incapable of mastering reality. It is a vicious circle, like an addiction. They become vulnerable to exploitation by astrologers, godmen, dubious pseudo-psychologists, corrupt politicians, and the whole mega-industry of irrationalism.” ~ Jon White (Questioner) & Sanal Edamaruku (Answerer)

As we’ve stated before, skepticism isn’t about rejecting other people’s beliefs. It’s about suspending judgement until claims can be properly tested and verified. Just because we’re skeptical of the Baltic Anomaly being anything more than a natural formation doesn’t mean we reject it as a hoax out of hand. Indeed, we believe keeping an open mind is important.

“But while I’m extremely skeptical of Bigfoot, I certainly don’t reject the possibility of its existence. One of the things that frustrates me about modern science is the built-in disdain many researchers hold for fields like cryptozoology. Regardless of our opinions, we must continue to evaluate any and all scientific claims with an open mind…even if its about the legendary Sasquatch. After all, that’s what science is all about.” ~ David Meyer, Bigfoot Lives…!

Breeding Ancient Animals?

In 1627, the last of the aurochs, which was the predecessor of domestic cattle, died in Poland’s Jaktorów Forest. Now, a group of scientists hope to, in a manner of speaking, bring the aurochs back from extinction. How is this possible?

The Aurochs

The aurochs once inhabited Europe, Asia, and North Africa. They were herbivores. Bulls stood from five to six feet tall while cows were slightly shorter. They sported large horns that curved in multiple directions. When fighting each other, they would apparently lock horns and attempt to push each other backward.

The aurochs were eventually domesticated into at least two separate subspecies: Zebu cattle in South Asia and the domestic cattle we know today.

The Nazi Breeding Experiments

In 1920, two brothers named Heinz and Lutz Heck were the directors of the Berlin and Munich zoos, respectively. For two decades, they attempted to recreate the aurochs using wild cattle from central and southern Europe. The idea was to genetically purify cattle to the form they held during the time of the so-called Aryan race.

The Luck brothers began cross-breeding strains of cattle. The resulting animal, now known as heck cattle, was a hardy breed who was considered at the time to be a resurrection of the aurochs. In truth, however, there were many differences between heck cattle and aurochs. Most of the heck cattle were destroyed at the end of World War II. However, about 2,000 still exist today.

“The Nazis wanted to recreate the aurochs to evoke the power of the folklores and legends of the Germanic peoples. Between the two wars there was thinking that you could selectively breed animals – and indeed people – for Aryan characteristics that were rooted in runes and folklore. Young men hunted these bulls as preparation for battle and leadership in war. Hunting was a very big part of what people like Goering did. This was something that was considered very manly to do.” ~ Derek Gow, Hitler has only got one bull (and it’s alive and well in the West Country)

The TaurOs Project

The TaurOs Project is mankind’s most recent attempt to, in effect, reengineer the aurochs. It’s a joint project between Stichting Taurus and several European universities. While back-breeding an actual aurochs is believed to be impossible, the Project hopes to create a form of cattle that is as close as possible to it.

The stated purpose of this project (and others like it) is to fill ecological niches. In other words, when mankind domesticated the aurochs, it supposedly left an empty niche in certain ecosystems. However, that niche can’t be filled by today’s domesticated cattle. Cattle have been bred to be docile and productive. They are, in effect, a creation of mankind rather than evolution. Hence, they may lack the wild traits needed to survive in nature.

The TaurOs Project hopes to create new breeds with these ancient wild traits. The theory is that original features of the aurochs are still present in certain breeds of cattle and can be brought together via crossbreeding and selective breeding. The resulting cattle would then be reintroduced into large rewilding reserves.

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

These sorts of experiments, in our opinion, are at once exciting and frightening. The near recreation of extinct species is an intriguing idea. Who knows what species could ultimately be brought back from extinction?

On the other hand, the TaurOs Project and rewilding in general are strange, almost anti-human concepts. They seek to restore ecosystems to a pre-human state. In other words, the arrival of humans upset the pristine (and mythical) balance of nature and now we must seek to fix it.

“Lost in the mix is a very important question. What’s so great about ancient ecosystems anyway? In truth, there is very little, if any, scientific evidence that pre-human ecosystems were superior to the ones that we enjoy today. Many ecosystems do just fine with both native and non-native plants and animals. They’re just as productive and they contain just as many species.” ~ David Meyer, The Pleistocene Rewilding?

But scientists and conservationists remain driven to recreate historical ecosystems. And admittedly, we can understand some of the fascination. However, there is a curious irony to the whole thing.

“Nature doesn’t exist in a steady state. It’s always changing, always evolving. The only way to keep it from doing so is with lots of human interference. And if that’s the case, then what’s the point of returning to a pre-human ecosystem? Why not just let nature evolve on its own?” ~ David Meyer, The Pleistocene Rewilding?

 

Guerrilla Explorer’s Man vs. Nature Coverage

The Red Rain Phenomenon Returns?

On June 28, residents in Kannur, India awoke to a startling downpour. For fifteen minutes, rain poured from the sky. But this rain was different than normal rain. It was red rain or blood rain. Where did it come from?

Background on Red Rain

We first explored the concept of “red rain” or “blood rain” back in August 2011. It’s exactly what it sounds like. Clouds open up and red rain pours from the sky. Sometimes other colors are seen, such as yellow, green, or black. In this most recent storm, some people saw red rain while at least one person saw collected samples of something that was “as dark as black coffee and had the smell of raw beetroot.”

  • “I thought someone killed some animal and its blood got mixed with water on the courtyard.” ~ Shaija M, Kannur block panchayat president

Red rain is a rare phenomenon, but it’s occurred numerous times in the past.

  • “Ancient texts describe similar events throughout known history. For example, Homer’s Iliad states that Zeus caused blood to rain from the sky on two separate occasions. In 582 AD, Gregory of Tours reported on a rain of blood that caused Paris citizens to frantically disrobe themselves. And there were reports of blood rainstorms prior to the arrival of the Black Death.” ~ David Meyer, The Mysterious Rain of Blood

What Causes Red Rain?

Back in 2001, red rain felt sporadically throughout the Indian state of Kerala for two full months (Kannur is located within Kerala). After studying the raindrops, researchers decided that the red coloring was due to solid particles captured within the raindrops. These particles included various elements and metals. The exact source of those things remains an unsolved mystery. Here some some possibilities:

  • Spores of Lichen: Some researchers think the reddish hue is provided by lichen spores. In fact, the 2001 particles were even declared “morphologically similar” to algae and fungal spores. Supposedly, heavy rains cause increased growth of the lichens. These lichens release their spores simultaneously, leading to a build-up in the atmosphere where they mix with the rain. However, this is now considered somewhat improbable, partially because it doesn’t explain how the spores got into the atmosphere in the first place.
  • Atmospheric Pollution: According to local meteorologist M Santhosh, this most recent red rain might’ve been caused by atmospheric pollution. He was quoted as saying, “I assume this is due to atmospheric pollution. The pollutants in the air get dissolved in rainwater resulting in red rain.”
  • Transplanted Sand: In 1903, dust from the Sahara desert was sucked into the sky and deposited onto England during a series of rainstorms. Some researchers initially thought red rain occurred due to similar means, with dust rising from the Arabian deserts. However, lab tests ultimately debunked this theory after the 2001 storms.
  • Volcanic Eruption: Volcanic eruptions can load the atmosphere with dust and other materials. Presumably, these could mix with rain. However, the 2001 storm seemed to disprove this theory since the rain contained particles “morphologically similar” to spores rather than dust.
  • Outer Space: Many historical incidences of red rain can be tied to meteors or comets. According to this theory, a meteor might’ve exploded in the sky. Its material mixed with the clouds and drifted to the ground as rain. The 2001 red rain contained biological matter. If this came from outer space, it would appear to support the panspermia hypothesis. However, this doesn’t explain why Kerala has now been struck multiple times by the same phenomenon.

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

It will probably take a few weeks for scientists to examine the Kannur samples. In addition, it will be interesting to see if the current red rain continues for an extended period like 2001 or whether it’s a one-time event.

Back in 2001, no one really disputed the contention that the raindrop particles were similar in shape and form to lichen spores. And yet, the mechanism by which those spores could’ve reached the atmosphere and stayed in the same area for over two months remains unknown.

When we first examined the 2001 storms, we found the meteor or comet theory particularly interesting. It explained crashing sounds and flashing lights that preceded the red rain. In addition, NASA’s discovery of glycine in Comet Wild-2 indicated organic material could’ve survived the extreme conditions found in outer space.

However, we find it curious this particular area of India has received another red rain storm. It hints at a regional explanation, such as the lichen spores or perhaps atmospheric pollution. Hopefully, we’ll have some answers in a few weeks.

“The source of Kerala’s mysterious blood rain continues to elude the world’s finest minds. However, the recent research, coupled with the NASA discovery, indicates that we might be closing in on an answer. Perhaps Kerala’s blood rain was nothing more than a freak infusion of localized lichen spores into the sky. On the other hand, maybe the rain came from somewhere else…somewhere beyond this world.” ~ David Meyer, The Mysterious Rain of Blood

 

Guerrilla Explorer’s Coverage of “Blood Rain”

 

The Baltic Anomaly: The Original Ocean X Team?

The ultra-strange Baltic Anomaly has baffled the world for over a year. It was discovered by a group of treasure hunters calling themselves the Ocean X Team. But where did the Team come from? And how did they first achieve fame in the treasure hunting world?

Background on the Baltic Anomaly

On June 19, 2011, the Ocean X Team used side-scan sonar to “photograph” a massive object deep in the Baltic Sea, approximately 260 feet below surface. Peter Lindberg, co-founder of the Ocean X Team, jokingly declared “Hey guys, we have a UFO!” However, after a new expedition, the Team discovered the Anomaly primarily consisted of large rocks. The exact nature of those rocks, which we call the Circle, as well as a 985 foot runway leading up to them (the Tracks), remain mysteries.

Since that time, the Ocean X Team has released a few photographs and provided lots of mysterious information via interviews. However, very little concrete data has emerged. Skeptics, including us, have questioned whether or not the Baltic Anomaly is a “hoax” of sorts.

In our view, the Anomaly has intriguing profit potential. The Team has a documentary deal with Titan television. They’ve gained valuable equipment and funds via sponsorships with Ocean Modules, SeaLabs, and Silvercrest Submarines (this equipment has also been used to search for other wrecks). In addition, they’ve indicated a desire to use a new submarine to take wealthy tourists to view the Baltic Anomaly close-up.

The Ocean X Team has vigorously defended itself from charges of a hoax. They claim to be ordinary treasure hunters who happened to stumble upon a strange mystery. They have assured the world that they want answers just as badly as everyone else.

The Champagne Wreck

In 1916, the Swedish schooner Jönköping sailed out of Gävle, on route to Finland. In her cargo holds, the Jönköping carried “4400 bottles of 1907 Heidesieck Champagne ‘Goût Americain’, 67 large barrels of Cognac and 17 regular barrels of wine.”

At the time, Europe was broiled in World War I. Thus, the Jönköping’s alcohol was meant for Russian officers. However, the schooner was stopped by SM U-22, a German submarine. Since the Jönköping also carried some railroad-related “war materials,” the submarine’s officers chose to sink it.

In 1994, Claes Bergvall and Peter Lindberg discovered information about the wreck in local court archives. Three years later, they discovered it under 210 feet of water using side-scan sonar. Apparently, the hull was in excellent shape. Claes and Peter formed a company named C-Star and proceeded to acquire the rights to the cargo.

C-Star divers started to salvage the champagne bottles. Remarkably, the corks had stayed in place and the icy conditions of the Baltic Sea had kept the alcohol well-preserved.

“French experts who tasted some of the champagne recovered earlier have rated it exceptional and ideally preserved by the cold, dark Baltic.” ~ John Acher, Yo-Ho-Ho, Sea Salvagers find Champagne, Cognac

At the same time, C-Star announced their ambitious places for the ship. They wanted to raise it to the surface, salvage the rest of the alcohol, and turn it into a floating museum of sorts. However, bad weather thwarted their efforts.

In 1998, disaster struck. A Finnish businessman named Peter Fryckman took out a ship, hired some divers, and began salvaging the bottles for himself. Although he had no salvage rights to the ship, Fryckman claimed some of the bottles rightfully belonged to his great-grandfather, and thus to him.

He was unable to prove his claim however, and on July 3, 1998, Fryckman’s team was forced to abandon the site. Claes and Peter proceeded to poach Fryckman’s divers in exchange for 25% of the haul. In turn, Fryckman began auctioning off his illegally-obtained bottles.

On July 24, C-Star successfully lifted the Jönköping off the bottom. The cargo was removed from the wreck. However, the ship was determined to be unsuitable for a museum ship. Thus, it was dumped back into the Baltic Sea.

Apparently, the barrels of cognac were unrecoverable. We’re not sure about the wine. However, a Christie’s auction in October 1998 hints that the 2,000 champagne bottles might’ve been worth around $8 million dollars at that time. For those of you who are interested, Peter Lindberg wrote a book about the project in 2003.

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

We don’t know whether or not Dennis Åsberg, the other co-founder of the Ocean X Team, was part of C-Star in 1997. His name is not listed in any of the articles we’ve read. Still, C-Star can easily be viewed as a sort of predecessor to the Ocean X Team.

When they first “saw” the Baltic Anomaly, Peter and Dennis were searching for a shipwreck similar to the Jönköping. According to various media reports, this wreck contained cases of an extremely rare brand of champagne. We suspect it was the Louis Roederer Crystal, referred to by the Ocean X Team as the Tzar’s champagne.

C-Star shares some similarities with the current Ocean X Team. First, they were big dreamers. Raising a ship off the bottom of the seafloor was fairly audacious. Wanting to create a floating museum out of it was even more audacious. It brings to mind the Ocean X Team’s massive publicity campaign and lucrative tourist-centered plans for the Baltic Anomaly.

Second, C-Star overcame large odds to achieve success. They fended off a rival treasure hunter and managed to recover a valuable cargo. And although we’ve been critical of the Ocean X Team, the fact remains that they’ve conducted an initial investigation, complete with some photos, of the Anomaly. Incidentally, Peter Lindberg revealed last night during a chat with the Team’s Facebook group that initial analysis of samples taken from around the site (but not from the Anomaly itself) have been completed. One rock is apparently common to the Baltic region but is normally found under the Earth’s crust (which might give some credence to our black smoker theory). Another rock is supposedly typical to the mid-Atlantic seafloor.

Will the Ocean X Team ever solve the mystery behind the Baltic Anomaly? In all honesty, we remain skeptical. However, the Team is planning another expedition for July 10. They hope to recover rock samples from the Anomaly as well as possibly investigate a second site (the so-called Window). Hopefully, we’ll know more at that point.

 

Guerrilla Explorer’s Coverage of the Baltic Anomaly