The Most Significant Breakthrough in Medical History?

A group of scientists at the Space Biosciences Division at NASA recently made an astounding discovery using carbon nanotubes. What is it? And could it be “the most significant breakthrough in medical history?”

Carbon Nanotubes & the NASA Biocapsule: The Most Significant Breakthrough in Medical History?

Imagine a bundle of carbon nanotubes implanted under your skin. Now, imagine this bundle could be used to self-regulate insulin levels for diabetes patients, deliver high levels of chemotherapy to very specific areas of the body, or provide epinephrine doses when needed for those with severe allergies.

Well, here’s the kicker…the bundle exists and it’s poised to change the way doctors treat all sorts of ailments. Here’s more on these miraculous carbon nanotubes from Gizmodo:

There are no hospitals in space. The closest E.R. is back on Earth, and astronauts can’t exactly jump in a cab to get there. So what happens if the sun burps out a massive blast of radiation while an astronaut is space-amblin’ by?

The NASA Biocapsule—made of carbon nanotubes—will be able to “diagnose” and instantly treat an astronaut without him or her even knowing there’s something amiss. It would be like having your own personal Dr. McCoy—implanted under your skin. It represents one of the most significant breakthroughs in the history of medicine, and yes, it’ll work on Earth, too…

(See The Miraculous NASA Breakthrough That Could Save Millions of Lives for more on carbon nanotubes and the the NASA Biocapsule)

Where was the Sun Born?

So, where exactly did that giant yellow orb in the sky we know as the sun originate?

Was the Sun Born in Messier 67? Or Somewhere Else?

Until recently, scientists suspected the sun came from Messier 67, a gigantic star cluster roughly 2.6 to 2.9 light years away from Earth. But new 3-D simulations appear to have thrown that theory into the dustbin of history, leaving the sun’s origin a mystery once more. Here’s more on the sun’s origin from National Geographic:

New 3-D computer simulations have delivered a crushing blow to the strongest contender for our sun‘s birthplace, astronomers say, returning the quest for the solar system‘s origins to square one.

Stars like the sun typically form in clusters with other stars. Many clusters are spread out so that the stars drift apart, but others are denser, and gravity keeps their stars close together.

The sun now stands alone, so astronomers think our star—and its newborn solar system—was either ejected from its birth cluster or drifted away from its siblings about 4.5 billion years ago…

(See the rest on the sun’s mysterious origin at National Geographic)

The Great Moon Hoax…of 1835?

On August 25, 1835, a strange article appeared in the New York Sun. The piece, attributed to famed astronomer Sir John Herschel, announced a startling discovery…the moon was inhabited by intelligent creatures. The Sun’s circulation increased dramatically and within a couple of days, was the most popular newspaper on the planet. What was the Great Moon Hoax of 1835?

What was the Great Moon Hoax?

In 1835, the moon was a source of great mystery. So, when the New York Sun’s headline blared, “Great Astronomical Discoveries Lately Made by Sir John Herschel, L.L.D. F.R.S. &c. At the Cape of Good Hope,” citizens turned their heads.

In total, six articles were published by the Sun, claiming to be supplements to the (non-existent) Edinburgh Journal of Science. Supposedly written by Herschel’s assistant, (the fictitious) Dr. Andrew Grant, the pieces described how Herschel had created a new telescope at his Cape of Good Hope observatory. This miracle of science was capable of 42,000x magnification, more than enough to see small objects in space. The resulting images were then reflected onto the observatory’s walls where they were sketched and described.

The Great Moon Hoax…Life on the Moon?

The articles insisted that Herschel had “discovered planets in other solar systems…firmly established a new theory of cometary phenomena…and…solved or corrected nearly every leading problem of mathematical astronomy.” Despite this impressive list of accomplishments, all of it paled in comparison to the shocking news that Herschel had spotted life on the moon.

After viewing rock, a poppy field, vast forests of yew trees, inland seas, and beaches, Herschel turned his attention to an oval-shaped lunar valley. He reported seeing bison herds and blue unicorns. But the most amazing animals were yet to come. On August 27, readers learned that Herschel had observed signs of intelligent life on the moon. More specifically, he saw a primitive tribe of biped beavers who lived in huts, used fires, and carried their young in their arms. The next day, he reported something even more spectacular…a population of winged humanoids who appeared to live near a golden temple. Herschel and Grant labeled these humanoids “Vespertilio-Homo,” or man-bat.

The man-bats appeared to be engaged in conversations, complete with gestures. While the initial creatures were somewhat primitive, more elaborate man-bats would soon make an appearance. Herschel would later report the existence of a beautiful race of angel-like creatures and a mostly human population of middle class citizens.

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

The story is now known, of course, as the Great Moon Hoax. Not only had Herschel failed to see any of the sights claimed by the article, he wasn’t even aware of the articles until well after they were published. From all accounts, he was initially amused by the incident but soon grew weary fielding questions about it.

The New York Sun reaped strong benefits from the Great Moon Hoax. Its circulation quickly rose from 15,000 before the series to 19,360 after its conclusion, making the Sun the most popular newspaper in the world at the time. Other newspapers followed suit and soon, the Great Moon Hoax was worldwide.

To this day, it remains unclear whether average citizens were aware of the Great Moon Hoax. At that time, newspapers were known for making up outrageous stories in order to drive sales. Also, it’s important to note that subscribers didn’t cancel their subscriptions once the truth began to emerge. Indeed, the Great Moon Hoax of 1835 became somewhat of a cultural icon for the time, leading to a play at the Bowery Theater among other things. Still, eyewitness accounts from the time make it clear that large numbers of people were fooled by the Great Moon Hoax. For example…

“Yale College was alive with staunch supporters. The literati—students and professors, doctors in divinity and law—and all the rest of the reading community, looked daily for the arrival of the New York mail with unexampled avidity and implicit faith. Have you seen the accounts of Sir John Herschel’s wonderful discoveries? Have you read the Sun? Have you heard the news of the man in the Moon? These were the questions that met you every where. It was the absorbing topic of the day. Nobody expressed or entertained a doubt as to the truth of the story.” ~ Yale Reporter, 1853

So, that leads us to our final question: who was behind the Great Moon Hoax? A reporter named Richard Adams Locke is usually given credit for the articles. However, Locke never admitted his involvement in the Great Moon Hoax and some researchers believe that the French astronomer Jean-Nicolas Nicollet, or Lewis Gaylord Clark, editor of the Knickerbocker Magazine, may have perpetrated it. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to know for certain. And unless new evidence comes to light, we may never know the hoaxer’s true identity.

Astroforensics: The (New) Search for Alien Life

On August 26, 2011, Professor Paul Davies published a paper in Acta Astronautica entitled, “Footprints of Alien Technology.” In it, he suggests a new approach in the ongoing search for extraterrestrial life. This approach, which he calls astroforensics, consists of police-style forensics techniques…employed right here on Earth.

Who is Paul Davies?

Paul Davies is an interesting guy. He was recently hired by the U.S. National Cancer Institute to help improve America’s extremely disappointing efforts at improving cancer survival rates. But he wasn’t brought in for his background in physics. Rather, he was recruited because he’s a “disruptive agent.”

“True, his naivety sometimes makes biologists grit their teeth. (‘Aaargh! Physicists!’ wrote Paul ‘PZ’ Myers, a biologist at the University of Minnesota, Morris, in a blog response to Davies’ proposal earlier this year that tumours are a reversion to primitive genetic mechanisms that pre-date the dawn of multicellular life.) ‘But his critics don’t appreciate the value of a disruptive agent,’ says biophysicist Stuart Lindsay, who works closely with Davies at the ASU physics–cancer centre. ‘It takes someone like Paul, constantly nagging, asking disruptive questions, to get people to take a fresh look at their assumptions.'” ~ Physics Meets Cancer: The Disruptor, Nature

Astroforensics: The (New) Search for Alien Life?

He’s also a well-known figure in the search for alien life, having worked with SETI  (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) for over thirty years. Now, he hopes to revamp the way mankind is searching for aliens through the incorporation of forensics techniques. While most people of a similar mindset suggest searching the solar system for large scale evidence such as “orbiting probes, artificial structures on planetary surfaces, and astroengineering projects such as Dyson Spheres,” Davies proposes an all-out search for more subtle traces…right here on earth. In other words, he hopes to encourage scientists across the world to keep an eye open for signs of what might best be described as “palaeocontact.”

“If alien civilizations do, or did, exist, their technology will impact their environment. Some consideration has been given to the detection of large-scale astro-engineering, such as Dyson spheres. However, a very advanced technology might leave more subtle footprints requiring sophisticated scientific methods to uncover. We must not overlook the possibility that alien technology has impacted our immediate astronomical environment, even Earth itself, but probably a very long time ago.” ~ Paul Davies, Footprints of Alien Technology

Davies is not a proponent of the “ancient alien” mania that runs wild today. Instead, he believes that if aliens visited the Earth, they most likely did so prior to the emergence of mankind. Thus, he proposes searching for traces capable of surviving hundreds of millions or even billions of years. Some possibilities include: nuclear waste, scars of large-scale mining or quarrying, a shadow biosphere, or messages left behind in DNA.

The last two options represent especially intriguing possibilities. Aliens might’ve created or accidentally left behind a “shadow biosphere” of life built upon a unique form of biochemistry that we have yet to understand. Also, they might have left behind traces or messages in DNA.

“My proposals aim to spread the burden from a small band of heroic radio astronomers to the entire scientific community. Projects like genomic SETI are an attempt to complement radio SETI, not undermine it.” ~ Dr. Paul Davies

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

Paul Davies presents an interesting plan to widen the search for alien life. As we speak, large amounts of data are being collected in various scientific fields. He hopes to convince scientists to use forensic techniques to examine this data for “anomalies.” In its own right, this is a significant act. It’s also brave considering the fact that the very idea of aliens is dismissed by most reputable scientists.

Interestingly enough, Paul Davies doesn’t have an opinion as to whether alien life actually exists. Indeed, he’s known for describing the search as an attempt to find a needle-in-a-haystack “without any clue as to whether there is a needle there at all, or how large the haystack may be.” However, if alien life does exist, one thing is certain…Paul Davies is determined to find it.

A UFO…from 1883?

In 1883, José Bonilla took several photographs of objects crossing in front of the sun. After more than a century of speculation, scientists believe they have finally identified these objects. Were they high flying geese? A series of old UFOs? Or was it a force of epic proportions…a force that nearly destroyed the Earth?

Chaos!

First things first. As many of you know, I released my first novel yesterday. It’s an adventure thriller along the lines of Indiana Jones or books written by Clive Cussler, James Rollins, Douglas Preston, or Steve Berry. If you haven’t already done so, please consider picking up a copy of Chaos at one of the following locations:

Kindle * Nook * Kobo * iBooks * Smashwords * Paperback

 An Old UFO Sighting…from 1883?

Now, on August 12, 1883, an astronomer named José Bonilla was studying sunspot activity at the Zacatecas Observatory in Mexico. Suddenly, he noticed something strange. Dark objects seemed to be crossing in front of the sun. Bonilla worked fast and managed to take a couple photographs of the phenomenon.

In 1886, these pictures were released to the public via the magazine L’Astronomie. Taken as a whole, they were “dubbed the first photo of a UFO – a series of 447 objects that looked ‘misty’ and ‘left behind a similar misty trace.'” However, the magazine’s editor was more skeptical and attributed the images to high-flying birds, insects, or a dust cloud rather than an old UFO.

What was this Old UFO?

Recently, a team of scientists led by Hector Javier Durand Manterola at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México proposed a new theory to explain Bonilla’s strange images. Namely, they believe the objects were parts of a “highly fragmented comet.”

Using Bonilla’s observations, Manterola estimated that the objects in question measured anywhere between 151 – 2,608 feet across and passed at a distance of 334 -5,009 miles above the Earth’s surface. If true, then it means that this gigantic body “came close to hitting the Earth – with a similar mass to the object that killed the dinosaurs.” (Assuming, of course, that an asteroid or comet actually killed the dinosaurs in the first place).

“The only bodies in the Solar System which are surrounded by a bright mistiness are the comets, so it is appropriate to suppose that the objects seen by Bonilla were small comets.” ~ Hector Javier Durand Manterola, Maria de la Paz Ramos Lara, and Guadalupe Cordero

Not everyone agrees. There were no reports of a meteor shower at the time. And the annual Perseid meteor shower “was no brighter than usual.”

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

As far as I can determine, the evidence pointing to a comet is pretty skimpy (as is the evidence pointing to an old UFO). It appears that Manterola’s team made its determination based primarily on the “bright mistiness” of the objects. Then they proceeded to analyze the objects as such.

All in all, the theory is plausible. And I tend to think that comets have impacted Earth at a greater rate than history generally assumes (possibly even causing the Black Death). But the lack of an exceptional meteor shower raises significant questions that are difficult to answer. Regardless, if Bonilla’s 1883 sighting was a fragmented comet, we can be thankful it didn’t come any closer to Earth. Otherwise, well, we might not be here right now.

A Supernova…in Ancient Texts?

In 1006 AD, ancient astronomers and astrologers from around the world witnessed a strange cosmic event. A brilliant light emitted from a strange and new “star” in the sky. The incident lasted for three months and was marveled at separately in places as far apart as China, Egypt, and Switzerland. Did these ancient scientists observe an ancient supernova?

What is a Supernova?

A supernova is a stellar explosion. It’s characterized by a bright light, intense radiation, and the high-speed expulsion of the star’s materials. If one happened too close to earth, it could easily lead to mass extinction or even destroy our planet. It has long been strongly suspected that the strange sighting by the ancients was that of a supernova called SN 1006. And it wasn’t just any supernova…it was the brightest one in recorded history. It was followed up in 1054 AD by SN 1054, a second brilliant supernova which created the crab nebula.

In 2009, Japanese scientists traveled to Antarctica to search for physical evidence of these supernovas. They drilled into the ice and brought out 122 meters of core samples. Using known volcanic eruptions as reference points, they discovered “NO3 spikes at times corresponding to 1006 and 1054, as well as a mysterious unknown third event.”

Did a Supernova cause Events Described in Ancient Texts?

The presence of nitrogen oxide in the ice provides the first real physical evidence that a supernova was responsible for the events in 1006 and 1054. When a supernova occurs, gamma rays impact the Earth’s atmosphere, hence the excess NO-3 in ancient, well-preserved ice.

As for the mysterious third event, it would appear that yet another supernova took place during the 11th century. The fact that it wasn’t recorded in ancient texts indicates that it may have been only visible from the southern hemisphere or perhaps, hidden by clouds.

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

Three large supernovas in a single century? That’s incredible. And its even more impressive when one considers that two of them were the brightest stellar events in history. When everything’s said and done, it seems clear that the 11th century deserves to be recognized as one of the most cosmically active periods of all time.

Around the World in…One Minute?

In Jules Verne’s classic adventure novel, Around the World in Eighty Days, Phileas Fogg and his valet Passepartout attempt to circle the Earth in eighty days in order to win a £20,000 wager. Now, thanks to modern technology, you can accomplish the same trip…in the span of just one minute.

Around the World in 80 Days…or just One Minute?

Check it out…just one minute to circle the world. Breathtaking huh? This is actually a motion interpolated version of the original movie. That original video is a “time lapse video taken from the front of the International Space Station as it orbits our planet at night.” Here are the details of what you’re seeing.

“This movie begins over the Pacific Ocean and continues over North and South America before entering daylight near Antarctica. Visible cities, countries and landmarks include (in order) Vancouver Island, Victoria, Vancouver, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles. Phoenix. Multiple cities in Texas, New Mexico and Mexico. Mexico City, the Gulf of Mexico, the Yucatan Peninsula, El Salvador, Lightning in the Pacific Ocean, Guatemala, Panama, Columbia, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Lake Titicaca, and the Amazon. Also visible is the earths ionosphere (thin yellow line), a satellite (55sec) and the stars of our galaxy.”

Jules Verne is often referred to as the “Father of Science Fiction.” For example, his books, From the Earth to the Moon and Around the Moon, detail a rather ingenious method for launching a vehicle into space via space cannon. But for all his vision, I doubt even Verne ever imagined the day when mankind could travel around the earth in a minute’s time and all from the comfort of one’s living room.

The Velikovsky Affair and Consensus Science?

In 1950, Immanuel Velikovsky published a book entitled, Worlds in Collision. This work, which involved decades of research, subsequently became a best-seller. However, it also inspired unprecedented backlash from the scientific community, which became known as the Velikovsky Affair. Who was Velikovsky and why were his ideas derided by established scientists?

Who was Immanuel Velikovsky?

Immanuel Velikovsky was an independent, multidisciplinary scholar who researched in fields such as astronomy, physics, ancient history, and comparative mythology. He was also a proponent of catastrophism, which is the theory that Earth has been greatly impacted in the past by sudden, violent events such as comet collisions and volcanic eruptions.

In 1950, Velikovsky released Worlds in Collision. It proposed that “many myths and traditions of ancient peoples and cultures are based on actual events.” His work noted that Venus, which is the second brightest object in the sky, was not observed by ancient astronomers. Based on historical texts and his reading of the physical evidence, he suggested that Venus was a relative newcomer to the solar system, having been ejected from Jupiter around the 15th century BCE. Furthermore, he thought that Venus originally had an irregular orbit. This caused numerous catastrophes on Earth which were subsequently recorded in ancient texts.

The Velikovsky Affair?

Velikovsky was a polymath and thus, not easily dismissed as a kook or a fraud. So, the scientific establishment went after him in a different fashion, in what would become known as the “Velikovsky Affair.”

According to David Stowe’s essay, The Velikovsky Story: The Scientific Mafia, Velikovsky “became the target of nearly universal abuse and derision.” During the Velikovsky Affair, he was shunned and essentially blackballed from college campuses. He was also “rigorously excluded from access to learned journals for his replies.” The Senior Editor at Macmillan who helped publish his book was fired as was the director of the Hayden Planetarium who “proposed to take Velikovsky seriously enough to mount a display about the theory.” In regards to the Velikovsky Affair, the Italian probabilist Bruno de Finetti reportedly described the scientific establishment as a “despotic and irresponsible mafia.”

Analyzing the Velikovsky Affair

The Velikovsky Affair deserves to be scrutinized in two ways. First, the merits of his ideas must be considered. While criticizing some of Velikovsky’s work, no less an expert than Mike Baillie (see: Did a Comet Cause the Black Death?) is generally supportive of some of his basic ideas.

“Velikovsky was almost certainly correct in his assertion that ancient texts hold clues to catastrophic events in the relatively recent past, within the span of human civilization, which involve the effects of comets, meteorites and cometary dust…But fundamentally, Velikovsky did not understand anything about comets…He did not know about the hazard posed by relatively small objects…This failure to recognize the power of comets and asteroids means that it is reasonable to go back to Velikovsky and delete all the physically impossible text about Venus and Mars passing close to the earth…In other words, we can get down to his main thesis, which is that the Earth experienced dramatic events from heavenly bodies particularly in the second millennium BC.” Mike Baillie, Exodus to Arthur: Catastrophic Encounters with Comets

We must also scrutinize the response of the general scientific community. As a recent study observed, creative ideas are often rejected in favor of the “tried and true.” This is just as accurate in science as it is in business or any other field. Unfortunately, some scientists are so eager to discredit things they view as pseudoscience that they end up blocking progress. In the case of Velikovsky, he disagreed with the so-called “consensus science” of the time and found himself blackballed as a result.

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

Science is hardly the apolitical field it is portrayed to be in the popular media. Original thinkers are often either forced to conform or face professional destruction at the hands of the consensus. Hence, the shameful Velikovsky Affair. However, progress dictates that we must always remain skeptical of “consensus science,” no matter how difficult it is to do so.

“Let’s be clear: the work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world. In science consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results. The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus. There is no such thing as consensus science. If it’s consensus, it isn’t science. If it’s science, it isn’t consensus. Period.” ~ Michael Crichton, Speech: Aliens Cause Global Warming

Are we Aliens?

The origin of life is a question that has baffled generations of scholars. However, the panspermia theory recently received a gigantic boost from NASA scientists. This theory proposes that life didn’t originate on earth…it came from outer space.

What is Panspermia?

Panspermia is the theory that extremely hardy forms of life, such as bacteria, exist on certain meteors and asteroids. If parts of these space rocks land on a suitable planet, the bacteria become active and begin an evolutionary process. While panspermia doesn’t address the origin of life, it suggests a mechanism for how it may spread throughout the universe.

Although panspermia isn’t a new theory, it’s gained recent attention thanks to the work of Sir Fred Hoyle and Chandra Wickramasinghe. Hoyle and Wickramasinghe also popularized the idea that new diseases and the genetic material needed for macroevolution continue to enter earth’s atmosphere on a regular basis. Still, their theories are generally viewed with skepticism by the scientific community. Now, thanks to NASA scientists, that might change.

New Evidence for Panspermia?

Yesterday, NASA announced that it has found evidence that “certain meteorites can carry DNA components created in space”. Scientists first discovered DNA components on space rocks in the 1960s. However, they were never certain about whether the components came from space or from earth contamination.

The most recent study looked at twelve carbon-rich meteorites, nine of which were found in Antarctica. Researchers discovered adenine and guanine, two of the four nucleobases that comprise DNA, on several of the rocks. In addition, they found three nucleobase analog molecules. The presence of the analogs, which are rarely found on earth, suggests that the nucelobases arrived from outer space and perhaps, were formed there as well.

“You would not expect to see these nucleobase analogs if contamination from terrestrial life was the source, because they’re not used in biology. However, if asteroids are behaving like chemical ‘factories’ cranking out prebiotic material, you would expect them to produce many variants of nucleobases, not just the biological ones, because of the wide variety of ingredients and conditions in each asteroid.” ~ Michael Callahan, Astrobiologist

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

This latest discovery means that the three ingredients for life – nucleobases, amino acids, and amphiphilic compounds – have all been found on meteorites. Furthermore, the evidence suggests that these molecules formed due to chemistry that occurred in space.

“The research gives support to the theory that a “kit” of ready-made parts created in space and delivered to Earth by meteorite and comet impacts assisted the origin of life.” ~ Michael Callahan, Astrobiologist

For centuries, mankind has searched the skies for alien life. Now, it appears that it might have been right here on earth all along.

Secrets of the Moon?

The moon is more than just a celestial body. Its also the source of unanswered questions, speculation, and mystery. One particularly strange mystery involves the vast geographical differences between it’s near side and its far side. Why are these two sides so different from each other?

The Moon: Near Side vs. Far Side

The moon doesn’t rotate. Thus, the near side is always visible from earth while the far side remains shrouded in darkness. But the differences don’t end there. The near side exhibits few mountains and a thin crust. Large rocky plains account for 31.2% of its surface. The far side, in contrast, is marked by mountain ranges measuring over 3,000 feet high and a thick crust. It’s heavily cratered and flat plains account for just 2.5% of its surface.

Secrets of the Moon?

Now, two scholars, planetary scientist Erik Asphaug and his postdoctoral researcher Martin Jutzi, believe they can explain these differences. They recently proposed that the reason the two sides look so different is because they are different. In other words, they think that the moon is, in actuality, two separate celestial bodies!

Using sophisticated computer models, they have shown that it might’ve been formed four billion years ago by a relatively low-speed collision of two separate moons. Their model assumes that the smaller moon smashed into the larger one at about 4,400 miles per hour. At this speed, material from the smaller moon would’ve splattered all over the larger one, creating a thicker crust, a battered surface, and long mountain ranges.

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

The theory doesn’t explain everything. For example, the model assumes that the two moons consisted of the same material. However, the far side of the moon contains heavy concentrations of aluminum, a material that is only found in low quantities on the near side.

Further mineral studies are needed. And fortunately, they’re coming. On September 8, 2011, NASA plans to launch the GRAIL, or Gravity Recovery Interior Laboratory, mission. Two spaceships will fly circular orbits thirty-one miles above the moon’s surface. Using gravity mapping techniques, NASA hopes to determine the moon’s interior structure. That data should help us answer numerous questions about the moon such as, has earth always had just one moon? Or, many centuries ago, did two moons float above our planet?