Andy Lloyd's Dark Star Blog

 

Blog 84   (April-July 2021)

 

UFO Disclosure

Suddenly, UFOs are back in the news.  Not because there's been a game-changing sighting, but because the US government and its agencies seem to want to initiate a new era of transparency around this much-clouded subject.  One could argue that there has been an information war over UFOs which the US government won years ago.  They didn't win it because they were necessarily right (because, frankly, who knows?) but rather because they managed to debase the subject to the level of complete ridicule.  If you spotted a UFO, you were clearly drunk, on drugs or stupid; because everyone knows it's nonsense. The media got into the habit of presenting what looked like an open-minded documentary, before pulling the rug from under the witness's feet with a throw-away piece of fact-less debunking at the end. The debate became highly polarised, with scientific debunkers displaying an entrenched attitude and lambasting the 'believers', often depicted as overly credulous fools.

It was so different back in the '40s and '50s when this subject first emerged as a significant issue in the public sphere.  At that time, serious scientists and military top brass took the whole subject extremely seriously.  Taxpayers' money was poured into the official investigations, culminating in the accepted notion that while most UFO sighting could be readily explained, a certain percentage (around 5-10%) remained stubbornly inexplicable.  Sceptics argued that if more facts were known about these mysterious cases, they too would have a prosaic explanation.  Yet, many remain unresolved to this day.  Many of the strongest UFO sightings involved trained observers, with physical trace evidence or radar reports to back them up.

Image credit: DoD/AFP/Getty Images

Yet, the disinformation campaign subsequently waged by the authorities worked so well that the whole subject essentially died.  Except for a few hard-core enthusiasts, of course; easily dismissed as cranks.  But there are always unforeseen consequences to an action such as this.  The stigma and ridicule attached to reporting a UFO sighting discouraged trained observers, particularly in the military, to sticking their heads above the parapet and reporting what they had seen or monitored.  A rather totalitarian response to this subject quashed reports:  "You might think you saw something, but you didn't... okay?"  This may not have needed to be said.  The danger of reputational damage was enough, rendering widespread self-censorship.  The stonewalling also fed ever darker conspiracy theories, and the scientifically trained scholars who once dominated the debates about UFOs gradually drifted away.

After decades of interest and study, I too became disillusioned, but for a slightly different reason.  For me, the issue was how conspiracy theory had taken on a more overtly political presence in the West, likely stirred by nefarious forces in the old Eastern bloc.  NBC recently noted this:

"In a deeply polarized country where conspiracy theories have ripped apart American politics, belief in a UFO cover-up seems relatively quaint and apolitical." (1)

My 'quaint' opinion that UFOs and an alien presence in our skies was (is) a reality had become associated with a political hatred and distrust of the federal government 'over the pond'.  I became uncomfortable with that association.  Even my study of ancient aliens and Planet X was affected, as utterly baseless nonsense on the subject seemed to be promulgated from Russian sources wishing to provoke panic.  Planet X became a subject about how Western governments were lying about a forthcoming cataclysm:  A cataclysm which had no evidential basis, and whose date was continuously being set back.

The problem with these disinformation campaigns, whether waged by government agencies or unfriendly foreign powers, is that any real evidence becomes lost in the ensuing murk.  Which, of course, is fine if you're wanting the subject to be stamped out, or used to sow internal political dissent. 

As mentioned, the additional problem with UFOs is that Allied armed forces no longer receive the kind of crucial intelligence they need to adequately monitor and protect our skies.  In the age of drones, that becomes a very serious issue, especially in the skies around sensitive military establishments.  It may well be that this is the reason for the current sea-change in policy in Washington.  The decades-long disinformation war against UFOs has been so effective that useful reporting of foreign intrusion in our skies has been stymied. The only way to correct that seems to be to let in a chink of light about UFOs, and to reduce the stigma around reporting.  But not too much, naturally...

 

Written by Andy Lloyd,  3rd July 2021

References:

1)  Alex Seitz-Wald “'Truth embargo': UFOs are suddenly all the talk in Washington” 13th June 2021

NBC News article

 

 

An Embedded Protoplanet?

 

The Moon may not be made of green cheese, but what it is made up of bears remarkable similarity to rocks on Earth.  This disfavours a capture theory for its origins, and leaves scientists with two main possibilities: The Earth and Moon formed alongside one another from the same proto-planetary building blocks; or the Earth got walloped by another protoplanet early on, creating on orbiting debris field that coalesced into our rather over-sized Moon.  Many scientists think that the 'Giant Impact Hypothesis' is the most likely possibility.  They've even given a name for our thunderous protagonist: 'Theia': 

 

If this was the case, you would naturally think there would be strong evidence for this enormous impact on Earth.  The problem is that the Earth crust is incredibly mobile (with respect to geological time periods), and continental drift and the shifting of tectonic plates have eradicated any evidence left from the scene of the crime 4.5 billion years ago.  But...could chunks of the impactor remain hidden below the crust in the next layer down - the mantle?  And, if so, how could we possibly find out?

Scientists conducting seismic studies of the Earth's mantle have identified 'blobs' of dense, hot material towards the very bottom of the mantle, near to the Earth's core itself.  These LLSVPs (Large Low-Shear Velocity Provinces) have been studied indirectly for years.  A recent paper penned by a team from Arizona State University argues that the LLSVPs may be leftover remnants of Theia (2).  They reason that if Theia's mantle is be iron-rich, and so denser than the Earth's, it would thus gradually sink down towards the Earth's core (3,4).  Indeed, the two LLSVP blobs are located on opposite sides of the Earth's core, below the Pacific Ocean and West Africa respectively. 

Taking this thought exercise forward, the ASU team performed calculations to explore the dynamics of what might happen to Theia mantle within the Earth mantle following the Moon-forming impact. They had to make a pretty major assumption about the constituents of Theia's mantle.  On that basis, they were able to conclude the following:

"Theia’s mantle may be several percent intrinsically denser than Earth’s mantle, which enables the Theia mantle materials to sink to the Earth’s lowermost mantle and accumulate into thermochemical piles that may cause the seismically-observed LLSVPs.  Our hypothesis is also consistent with the isotope geochemistry of OIBs and lunar samples." (2)

OIBs are 'oceanic island basalts', and there is evidence of emerging noble gases from rocks in keys areas exhibiting unusual isotope ratios.  The geochemical arguments here are quite complex.  Do the OIBs stem from LLSVPs?  Is there mantle rock involved here that predates the alleged collision?    In order to sidestep the issues raised by these theoretical arguments it is necessary to bore down into the mantle and do some science.  That, as you can imagine, would be quite a feat of engineering.

 

Written by Andy Lloyd,  6th April 2021

References:

1) Main image: The Giant Impact hypothesis for the origin of the LLSVPs Image credit: Li et al.

 

2)  Q. Yuan et al. "Giant impact origin for the large low shear velocity provinces" 52nd Lunar and Planetary Science Conference 2021 (LPI Contrib. No. 2548) https://www.hou.usra.edu/meetings/lpsc2021/pdf/1980.pdf

 

3)  Bob Yirka "New theory suggests large blobs of material in Earth's mantle are remnants of protoplanet Theia" 26 March 2021

https://phys.org/news/2021-03-theory-large-blobs-material-earth.html

 

4)  Inverse “An ancient protoplanet may be buried beneath the Pacific Ocean” 29 March 2021 with thanks to Lee

Inverse.com article

 

A Colossal Comet

 

At 100-200km across, Comet C/2014 UN271 (Bernardinelli-Bernstein) is a big beast.  This massive icy object has been inbound for a while, and is currently closer to us than the planet Neptune.  In ten years time, it will be close to Saturn's orbit, where it will reach its perihelion point and turn back again (1).  It's possible that it will emit enough heated vapour to show off a significant mane, but probably not enough to be a naked eye object in the sky at that distance. Indeed, it may be less bright than even distant Pluto (2).  So, although this is the biggest comet discovered (in terms of the size of its nucleus) it's unlikely to be the most spectacular optically.

Image credit: Dark Energy Survey/DOE/FNAL/DECam/ CTIO/NOIRLab/NSF/AURA/P.

Bernardinelli & G. Bernstein (UPenn)/DESI Legacy Imaging Surveys

 

But there's something else about 2014 UN271 that demands our attention: It has an incredibly elongated orbit.  Its ~3 million year year journey around the Sun has taken it from a staggering 40,000 AU distance out in the Oort cloud (0.6 light years!) closing in to its perihelion at 10.9 AU (Astronomical Units) in 2031 - just beyond Saturn.  After that closest point to the Sun, the comet's outward bound journey will extend its aphelion range to an estimated 54,000 AU (0.9 light years), and lengthen its orbital period accordingly (3).  At these kinds of distances, the lightest brush with galactic tidal forces could see Comet C/2014 UN271 lost to interstellar space forever. 

There's plenty of time over the next few decades for astronomers to study this large Oort cloud comet in great detail, although any rendezvous using a spacecraft seems unfeasible at the moment.  Nonetheless, using powerful telescopes, we're likely to learn a huge amount about the nature of Oort cloud objects more generally as we watch Comet C/2014 UN271 make its protracted handbrake turn. 

 

Written by Andy Lloyd,  3rd July 2021

References:

1) Robin George Andrews “The Largest Comet Ever Found Is Making Its Move Into a Sky Near You” 28 June 2021

NYTimes article

2)  Michael Irving “Extremely eccentric minor planet to visit inner solar system this decade” 20 June 2021

New Atlas.com article

3) C/2014 UN271 (Bernardinelli-Bernstein) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C/2014_UN271_(Bernardinelli-Bernstein)

 

 

Gene Editing is the Path to Colonising Other Planets

 

One of the most controversial aspects of Zecharia Sitchin's ancient alien hypothesis is that human being were, at one stage, genetically altered to become a productive slave workforce.  The idea goes that the gods spoken about by the ancient Mesopotamians (and other civilisations) were actually real people who had colonised Earth from another planet (1).  Finding hominids on this world provided these visitors with the ready-made biological 'clay' from which to fashion more intelligent and thus useful humans. 

Whether you buy into this idea or not, it has some incredibly interesting philosophical repercussions.  All creatures adapt to their environments, science tells us, through natural selection.  This developmental process can be helped along by selective breeding, something humans have long done with crops as well as domesticated animals and livestock.  We're also starting to tinker with DNA to modify biology through genetic engineering, although these procedures often remain controversial.  It's clear that there is enormous potential going forward with these techniques.  So it will not come as any surprise that scientists are also pondering how humans can be better prepared to endure long periods of time in spacecraft, or even colonising other worlds.  We're pretty well adapted to conditions on Earth.  In zero gravity - not so much.

In many ways, this modern science shines a kind light upon Zecharia Sitchin's ideas, published in the late 1970s - long before the emergence of DNA sequencing and genetic engineering.  However, the concept of alien intervention remains anathema to scientific thinking:  A great heresy.  But the idea of gene editing humans to create effectively an exoplanet-friendly new species is a hot topic, it seems. 

So much so that Genetics Professor Chris Mason has recently published a book (2) about how we can make ourselves biologically ready to live on alien worlds.

"Chris Mason, professor of physiology and biophysics at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York, argued technological advances would one day allow humans to engineer their bodies to survive extraterrestrial conditions.  The professor outlined a detailed plan for how the human race could settle on potentially hundreds of exoplanets when Earth is no longer able to sustain life.

"The geneticist, who previously worked on a Nasa study of identical twin astronauts Scott and Mark Kelly, said research into the impact of space travel on DNA had provided valuable insight into how to protect humans for future life away from Earth.  He outlined how genetic engineering could allow humans to overcome the challenges settling on another planet posed, for instance allowing humans to produce their own amino acids or nutrients." (3)

The scientist's blue sky thinking envisions colonising the Moon and Mars first, before heading, via Saturn's moon Titan, towards the stars and habitable Earth-like exoplanets scattered among them (4).  The ultra-long voyages involved provide an opportunity to develop more honed humans through in-flight genetic modification.  Tailor-made astronauts built for spaceflight are going to be different to the tailor-made colonisers of alien worlds, after all.

So, how does this compare with the ancient alien concept?  Well, the alleged alien colonisers of Earth, the Anunnaki, weren't thought to have been genetically altered themselves (to better cope with Earth's unique environment).  Instead, it's the lowly creatures of Earth - already genetically honed by nature - that have the gods' editing tools applied to them.  It's more or less what we did with wolves through selective breeding, you might say. 

Even if there is any truth to this ancient mythical tale, we are kept in the dark about whether the descending gods adapted themselves to our climes.  That's not in the cuneiform text, it seems.  Still, the principle applies well enough.  To colonise an alien world, intelligent beings can either adapt the alien environment using advanced technologies (biodomes, terraforming, etc), or adapt themselves to the exoplanet's environment. 

After all, evolution takes a ridiculous amount of time, so why not take a few short-cuts?

 

Written by Andy Lloyd,  18th July 2021

References:

1) Zecharia Sitchin "The Twelfth Planet" Avon Books 1976

2) Christopher Mason “The Next 500 Years: Engineering Life to Reach New Worlds” MIT Press 2021

3) Rozina Sabur “Humankind could live on Mars — in 500 years’ time” 18th July 2021

Independent article

4) Joshua Howgego “Chris Mason interview: Let's tweak human DNA for life on other planets” 14th July 2021

New Scientist article

 

 

A recent review of Darker Stars

 

Planet X (if it exists) is elusive because the new solar system is very large and many new found objects emit no visible light of their own and are too small to generate detectable inferred radiation. Planet X could be similar. Also, its orbit may be highly elliptical with an aphelion of perhaps of 2000AUs; very dim and beyond our current instrumentation. The author makes the case that Planet X may be shrouded in circumplanetary dust making it even more difficult to detect.

This is a highly informative, comprehensive, and accessible book and it makes a good case for Planet X and many undiscovered objects in the new solar system. It is also a treasure trove of outer solar system information. The author does a lot of speculating , but provides supporting rational and some evidence. Well worth the read.

Rich, USA.  7 March 2021

 

 

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