A paper for those of us a little older…
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Mysterious Skies By Randy McAllister




June 2017
As we head into summer, I want to take this opportunity to talk about the one of the most anticipated solar events of this millennium thus far; the total solar eclipse this August.
Solar eclipses happen fairly regularly around the world. When they do, most people in living in the hemisphere get to enjoy some part of the eclipse. However the path of totality usually only covers only a small strip of land some 200kms wide in a very specific location. Most of these locations are in the middle of the ocean or in some distant country. The last time a total solar eclipse occurred within driving distance of Thunder Bay was in 1979. Although it was a partial eclipse in Thunder Bay, back then, I was in grade school and I remember the curtains were all drawn and no one was allowed to go outside to look. I often wonder if this was one of the reasons I became interested in astronomy.
On August 21st 2017, people in most areas of North America will once again be treated to a solar eclipse. This is a rare treat to see a solar eclipse and for those a bit more adventurous you can travel a few hundred miles and see a total eclipse. For me this is the last chance to see a total solar eclipse In North America in my lifetime. The path of totality will travel across the USA starting in South Carolina and moving up towards Nebraska, Wyoming and onto Oregon. As the sun travels west, the historical weather predicts better chances of clear skies in the northwest states. For me Nebraska is relatively short drive with good chances of clear skies. Well worth the effort to witness a total eclipse.
For those who will be in Thunder Bay at the time, you will see a partial eclipse. With about 70% of the sun’s surface covered by the moon it will still make for a great show. The eclipse will starts during lunch when the moon starts to cross in front of the sun at 12:52. By 2:10 the eclipse will reach its maximum, and by 3:28 pm the eclipse will end.
I’ve been an amateur astronomer for over 30 years, and I have not witnessed a total solar eclipse first hand. I hope to experience the same awestruck feelings when the midday sky goes completely back for 2 full minutes. Eclipses before modern times inspired civilizations. Monuments around the world were built to track and predict eclipses. Folklore spoke of omens and plaques that would follow these rare events. For thousands of years man has been captivated by the alignment of the moon and the sun.
I’m sad to think that if I miss this chance to see this total solar eclipse my next opportunity to see one within driving distance won’t occur for another three decades. 2044 will be the next total solar eclipse within reach of most of us in North America. Mark August 21st on your calendar, invest in some welding glass, solar filters or build yourself a pinhole viewing cardboard box, grab a lawn chair and hope for clear skies.

May 2017
If you have followed any of my previous articles you have seen my interest in the sun. After all it plays a pivotal role in our solar system, and is the source of energy and life on our planet. It’s only fair, it get its earned attention. I’ve been researching some lesser known links between the sun and other phenomena here on our blue planet and have found some interesting connections.
Science has long known that the sun goes through regular cycles. Approximately every 11 years the magnetic poles flip on the sun. North becomes south and vice versa. Eleven years is the average but it ranges between 10 to 12 years. These sunspots have been observed for almost 400 years since the advent of the telescope. Records on these observations have been regularly kept since the mid 1700’s. This allowed science to observe the regular pattern and determine this cycle with a high degree of accuracy.
The most accepted theory says that the swirling magnetic lines caused by its rotation, move from the poles to the equator during this cycle. As these lines of magnetic flux travel through the sun, they burst out at the surface and we observe sun spots. The number of sunspots observed peaks half way thru the cycle in what we call a solar maximum and then diminish at the end of the cycle, in what is called a solar minimum. The theory explains the formation and pattern of the sunspots but no one has been able to explain why the consistent and regular period. We also still don’t fully understand what else is occurring during these cycles. For example are we experiencing cyclical patterns in gamma radiation, magnetic energy or neutrinos? Is our earth’s magnetic field diminished during these minimums?
My recent research involved examining correlations between this 11 year cycle and other potential cause-effect relationships. For example, when we look at the major volcanic eruptions over the last few centuries, we find roughly 90% of the major eruptions of the last 200 years occur during the solar minimum and we find many pairs at or near the 11 year cycle, Mount St. Helens 1980 and Mount Pinatubo 1991, Santa Maria 1902 and Novarupta 1912, Koumbo 1650 and Papua New Guinea 1660 .
Is it possible that sun is releasing some high energy particles that we don’t yet observe or understand? Is it possible our dense lead core of the earth is interacting with this invisible energy? If that’s the case, I then postulated that we should see a correlation between earth quakes and the sun cycle. I took the data and combined all the earth quakes for each year and baselined the data based on magnitude. (i.e. one magnitude 6 quake is equivalent to ten magnitude 5 quakes ) I then graphed out the amount of quake energy released on earth over the last 100 years and sure enough, another strong correlation was found. I wasn’t alone in this research; a quick search uncovered some previous works. Research papers published in the 60’s and again in the late 80’s also demonstrated that a strong enough correlation exists, much more than mere coincidence. Yet the mainstream scientific community continues to dismiss the existence of any relationship and explains the correlation as mere coincidence.
Given the sun is over a million times the size of the earth, and its influence is felt 5 trillion kilometers away, it’s not that hard to imagine that we are subject to its day to day moods. Our current sunspot cycle, number 24, the weakest sunspot cycle in a century, is scheduled to enter solar minimum by 2019. Many are predicting an extended period of low sun activity for the next cycle as well. If these relationships are more than coincidence, we could be in for a bumpy ride!

February 2017

The Great Attractor.
2016 was one of those years our understanding of the universe expanded (pun intended). Usually precipitated by introduction of a new technology, leaps forward historically have come in small sporadic waves for the last hundred years.
In the early 1900’s large telescopes came on the scene and we saw farther than before. We realized the universe was made up of a multitude of galaxies. Soon after, we learned about the expanding universe which led to the theory of the big bang. By the 1970s we were looking at the universe from space and gained better understanding of the size of the universe, the life cycle of stars, black holes, galaxies and even had close up views of the planets. 1990s discoveries had pointed us in the direction about the rapid expansion of the universe and forces still unknown called dark energy. More recently, last year, we discovered the population of the universe has increased tenfold and we now estimate over a trillion galaxies exists.
In addition to this, a new observation has been puzzling those in the cosmic field. Although not solely discovered in the last few years, but more so an accumulation of observations over the last 40 years, it was recently assembled into a story. It has the potential to be one of those disruptive and monumental discoveries. So much so, that I think it will help re-write the cosmology textbooks put some old theories in the retirement home and be the beginning for many new theories of how our universe exists.
This gravitational anomaly also coined the “Great Attractor” is in an unseen area of the sky some 250 million light years away. It’s relatively close in the cosmic scheme of things. But its exact make up is hidden because it is obscured from view behind our own thick Milky Way galaxy. Scientist can’t observe it directly in the visual spectrum, but they can observe its radio waves and see its effects on the universe. Whatever it is, it behaves gravitationally like the mass of a million billion stars. The entire region of the universe seems to be caught in its gravitational pull. Scientists are able to take years of observational data and produce a computer model. What it shows is somewhat alarming (again in the cosmic scale of things), The model shows motions of thousands of entire galaxies in the Virgo cluster of galaxies being sucked into a spiraling vortex. Not unlike watching a tornado in slow motion, sucking up leaves.
Understanding this new cosmic entity will be years in the making. Is it a new galaxy size form of black hole? Perhaps an intersection point with another universe? What ever it is, it has potential to impact many of the leading theories including big bang, multi dimension, dark matter, black holes, and how we estimate the size and age of the universe. I just hope someone didn’t pull the drain plug on the cosmic pool.

January 2017
As we stand on the verge of new government policy and a move to taxation on carbon I wanted to provide an astronomically related view on the subject. I hope to provide data, unbiased and from credible sources. But as I have witnessed in my research an overwhelming urge by the mainstream media and the uniformed alike, to dismiss or label anyone with a counter view, a “denier”. But the sheer number of outspoken climatologists or environmental scientists coming forward is making it hard for message to be controlled.
In 1975 News week published “The Cooling Planet” article that the predicted food shortages and global devastation by man’s impact on cooling being felt around the world. This article was not alone, publications in the 60’s and 70’s all looked to a mini ice age being caused by man. The writers of the day were basing this on the data at hand. From 1940 to late 1970’s the planet did cool about 0.1 degree.
From the 1980 to mid 1990’s the climate warmed by 0.2 degrees and the focus switched to a new story line, “global warming.” The predictions of “warmageddon” could be found daily in publications around the world. This was not new, history was once again repeating itself over thousands of years, and the climate changed as it has always done. Not to lose any momentum that governments around the world had gained, they quickly switched the lexicon to “Climate Change” Even the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) could not deny the climate data, so they coined the phrase “global warming paused” when they admitted the temperatures have not increased since 1997. However, this gave them an excuse for the predictions of millions of refugees and mass coastal flooding made only a decade before, based on “sound” science, that had never come true. Even Al Gore with his 2006 Inconvenient Truth documentary made apocalyptic predictions that just never came true. The policy makers and media are now back pedaling and continue struggling to explain what is really going on. Yet many experts in this field have come forward with scientific evidence. Instead of confronting the data, they label the scientist as deniers or better yet the latest lexicon of the conformist, “fake news”
The basis of warming predictions all point to man made CO2 in the atmosphere. Man made CO2 accounts for 3%, the remainder comes from natural sources. The science found a loose correlation between CO2 and climate changes and therefore made the assumption that CO2 must be the cause. Ice core samples allow us to go back thousands of years and see the correlation is fairly consistent long before man was burning fossils fuels. Even when the amount of CO2 by man had steadily increased since the 1900 and more than half the same century experienced cooling. Anomalies they say, no plausible explanation was provided by the warm-ongers. But many scientists like Murry Salby have come forward. Salby provided conclusively evidence that CO2 is a by product of the warming and not the cause. When the planet warms, more CO2 is generated. So where does the warming come from? Thousands of top scientists agree it’s not CO2 but look to the sun. The correlation between the sun and temperatures is undeniable, but given little to no air time by mainstream. The sun undergoes regular cycles and fluctuates and in turn the Earth absorbs more of this energy. It releases energy on a wide spectrum that we are only now starting to understand. Even Mars has polar caps that melt and freeze based on these cycles.
One article is not enough space to give you even a summary of the research available, so I strongly encourage you to become informed. Do your own homework, don’t let the governments and media make your mind up for you. The information is readily available all you have to do is look.
December 2016
Earth’s Shield & the Flipping of Poles
The universe is a violent place. Between the constant barrage of energetic particles from the sun and the various forms of radiation from space, life on earth would look very different if it weren’t for our magnetic field shielding our planet.
Like many things, we take it for granted without much thought during our daily routine. Only in recent decades have we come to understand how the northern lights are an example of the magnetic field shielding us from bursts of energy from the sun.
This century as we venture off our planet more people are taking an interest in the sky above our heads. A few decades ago the hole in the Ozone was front page news. More recently talk of CO2 in the atmosphere and how many feel it’s the cause of the climate change is in the headlines. Just look to the daily news or new government laws around carbon tax for this.
Unless your job depends on a compass for your day to day work, such as surveyors or foresters you likely haven’t give the magnetic field much thought. I predict that will change in the future.
The common belief is the compass points to the rotational north pole of the planet. This is relatively true but not accurate. The compass has been around since before Christ. It wasn’t until ships traveled across the oceans that navigators started to notice a discrepancy between the magnetic north and the celestial true north. As long as 400 years ago they started tracking this discrepancy in their ship logs. This century this tracking has been done with more accurate technology. Combined we now have a good picture of what is going on. The data tells a potentially alarming story.
The first few hundred years of data showed the magnetic pole moved less than 10 kms per year. By 1900 this had slowly increased to just over 11 km. By the first decade of 2000’s this movement has accelerated to 70 kms per year, leading many scientists to believe we are heading towards a magnetic pole flip. A flip or a reversal is where the magnetic field of the Earth will reverse and north becomes south. Using captured magnetic particles in various rocks around the earth scientists were able to determine this flip happened at fairly regular intervals of 200,000 years. The last time it happened was 700,000 years ago, so we are overdue.
Initially scientists believed the flip would occur over a thousand or more years. However more scientists now think it could happen in less than a century, and it appears it has already started.
What does it mean to us, other than compass direction, will we even notice? So far there is no clear answer, but a few interesting hypotheses. Papers published by Daniel Johnson and another by Adrian K. Kerton, MSc found a 99% correlation between the magnetic pole movement and earth temperature much more than CO2 and climate change. Although the studies did not provide an explanation for the connection to weather I suspect it’s due to changes in the field strength. A NASA computer model shows that as the magnetic pole shifts, its strength fluctuates during the process. It makes sense that during periods when the field weakens, the shielding effect also weakens, exposing the earth to more radiation and with it, more energy. Likewise, the inverse effect during those times when the field is stronger. I’ve only scratched the surface, I hope enough to peak your curiosity to look into this subject on your own. Stay tuned for more on this in future articles as more research becomes available.
November 2016
The universe just got a lot more crowded!
A century ago the scientific community was positive the universe consisted of our galaxy with thousands of stars. 50 years ago we thought there were millions of stars in our galaxy and thousands of galaxies. 25 years ago we were sure the universe was made up of millions of galaxies, 5 years ago billions of galaxies. Just this week, the scientific community has released findings that say the universe has trillions of galaxies. This recently released from the Hubble Space Telescope study in partnership with the European Space Agency.
While further understanding of the universe is a good thing, it does provide another example of scientific knowledge being again proven wrong. The implications are not even realized yet. What will become of our models that predict the gravitation effect of mass in the universe and how it did or did not effect the expansion of the universe? What does this mean for the big bang? What about the quest for dark energy and dark matter that were assessed on calculations of the mass of the universe. The list goes on.
Don’t get me wrong, discoveries like this are key to our understanding of the universe and in effect, our long scientific evolution. The responsibility of science is not to dismiss what you don’t understand but to use scientific methods to try and uncover the truth. If you have been following my articles over the last few years, you will notice a common theme focused around one of my greatest pet peeves. This frustration is mostly centered on the arrogance of many in the scientific community. The primary driver for this grudge is the blatant dismissal of the mountain of evidence of extraterritorial visitation to our life filled planet. These opinions are typically focused on a very narrow minded understanding of the universe.
If the ET question was being presented in the court of law, the naysayer would not stand a chance. With tens of thousands of witness testimonies from credible sources, thousands of trace evidence cases and hundreds of thousands of photos, videos and radar imprints the evidence speaks for itself. The closed minded scientists are then left with quoting scientific “facts” like the distance is too great, the energy required to travel to a near star would be enormous…etc These so called scientific arguments are based on what we know today, or at least what we think we know. You don’t have to look far back to see how time changes our view of our own planet, not to mention the universe. Only a hundred years ago, the scientific community would have stated without a doubt that it would take at least a few weeks to travel from Thunder Bay to England. Now we can do it in hours. Why? Because our technology has improved and these improvements were based our expanded scientific knowledge. From chemistry of jet fuel to physics of gravity and air resistance science, we have advanced by not dismissing the possible, but by challenging it. Look how only one century has changed our way of life, now imagine a civilization that has had a millennium or an eon to advance. Our science boundaries likely look like caveman fire and clubs to them. Not only do we think our universe has ten times more stars and galaxies than only a few years ago, it also means the likelihood of planets with life just increased by the same. I wonder how long it will take for that to become main stream scientific fact.


Oct 2016
Why Earth
One of the common discussions among ufologists is why the particular interest in our planet by extraterrestrials. Let’s assume the millions of sightings, tens of thousands of ground trace evidence and thousands of radar confirmed cases, are all true. The question remains why?
The leading theories I’ve heard that make the most sense are based on a few themes. The first of which, is the humanitarian or protectionist theme. Often thought of as an oasis in the cosmic desert, we have a robust biosphere with diverse species of plants and animals. In the last 50 years man has exploded over 2000 nuclear bombs on this planet. We continue to pollute the water and air, deforest the Amazon and make species extinct almost daily. Yes we are capable of great things, but we really haven’t demonstrated we are the best stewards of this planet.
Secondly is the resource theme. Science tells us we are the densest planet in the solar system. This is because our planet is rich in heavier elements. Elements such as gold, uranium, or platinum are very useful for man, so it’s not a stretch to think other beings might have a use for them as well. We also are extremely rich in biological resources. We have millions of various living organisms to pick from. We use them for purposes ranging from medical, food, and construction to perfume or toilet paper. Again it is not a stretch to assume that ET might also have needs that require biological inputs.
Other visitation themes have been put forward by ufo researchers over the years. Many have substantial evidence also to back up their claims. The missing link in our evolution has yet to be answered. We have a consistent theme of beings from the sky influencing early man all over the world. Modern abduction cases also support this theme of man’s evolution being nudged every so often. Are we just an experiment of some ET researchers?
I don’t think we will know the answers to these questions. Not in my lifetime at least. Not knowing is bad enough, but what we are also left with is the credibility issue of ufologists. Having researchers following the evidence and leading to different conclusions is not helping the cause. It leaves people confused and unsure and this leads to skepticism.
If we were to even convince the world that the ufo question is valid, and had hard evidence such as a spacecraft on display, deniers will still say it’s a hoax or it’s fake. People who don’t want to accept the evidence will never be convinced even if the craft landed on top of them. Once you have done your homework, reviewed the warehouses full of evidence, you are left with one question. Why? Once we know the answer to that, I think the rest of the puzzle will fall into place.

Sept 2016
After forty five years, it now appears man is on a path to return to the moon. NASA announced a new program similar to the Apollo program. The ORION program is schedule to get underway by 2018.
Initially planned for next year, the initial flight to moon has been pushed back to 2018. The initial flight, an unmanned mission will take the ORION craft farther than any manned mission has flown. This flight will take the space craft around the moon as far as 70,000 kms out past the moon.
The plan is to test the new two-part design of rocket and return capsule prior to manned flights back to the moon initially scheduled for early in the 2020’s. NASA says this new four man exploration space craft is being designed to take man further than he has ever gone before. If all goes well NASA is hoping this new program will also provide the technology and capability to later take man to Mars sometime in the 2030’s. The tag line for this new mission to the moon says it will be much more than picking rocks and leaving foot prints. What exactly that means is still unclear.
Many have speculated over the years why it has taken NASA, or the rest of the world for that matter, so long to return to the moon. The Apollo missions have been the only time that man has left the safety of low Earth orbit. Why? I don’t think it’s a question of money; NASA has spent many hundreds of millions on other missions to Mars and scientific research in the solar system. As far as I can tell the biggest question that remains unanswered about the Apollo mission and any future manned missions is the radiation in space issue.
The magnetic field generated by our Earth’s iron core protects life on the planet and in near orbit. This field known as the Van Allan Belt deflects dangerous radiation from the sun away from the planet. It’s this same affect that gives us the northern and southern lights. Once we leave the magnetic field we have no protection from the bombardment of photons, ions, gamma rays and other particles traveling at the speed of light. Because of the magnetic field deflecting radiation, the highest concentration will be as they pass through the belt. On this initial ORION flight in 2018 they plan to test the crew shielding and record radiation with hundreds of sensors to determine if the crew and equipment will survive the two trips needed through the radiation. If you’re like me, you are wondering how the Apollo craft did it with 50 year old technology. This seems like a contradiction to me, and leaves me confused about Apollo flights to the moon. In the early 1960’s NASA was so worried, they had even tried to clear the radiation by detonating a 1.4 megaton nuclear bomb in low orbit distance. However this had the opposite effect and by the time the first manned mission went through the belt in 1969 the extra radiation had almost all dissipated but was still detected.
Obviously this issue has been on the minds of NASA for over 50 years. Even though no side effects on astronauts have ever been publicly stated, I suspect that has been the major hurdle to manned trips beyond Earth’s orbit since 1972. Hopefully the first manned ORION mission to the moon will finally put this question to rest.

June 16

With summer just around the corner, I plan on taking some time to relax in, on and around the lake. Floating, boating, or just sitting on the dock looking at the water. There is something soothing about water, especially during those calm mornings or late evenings when it looks like glass. Many times I’ve sat there and thought about the contradiction of this view. On the surface it appears very still but this is very misleading.
While we sit here on planet Earth at rest and still as can be, this is the farthest from reality. The Earth is 25,000 miles around and rotates once every 24 hours. With some simple math it’s easy to calculate we are traveling at over 1000 mph. This rotation is what gives us rising and setting sun, moon and stars. If you were traveling at this speed in the opposite direction of the rising sun, it would be fixed in the sky. That’s because this 1000mph is relative to the sun. This is a fairly impressive speed by itself but it is only the beginning.
The Earth takes 365 days to travel one orbit around the sun. In that year the earth travels over 588 million miles. Again using some basic mathematics, we can calculate that we are also traveling at 67,100 mph as we travel around the sun. This speed is almost three times the escape velocity rockets need to leave the gravitational force of the Earth. Are you getting dizzy yet? We’re not done.
The Sun, like all stars in our galaxy rotates around the core of the Milkyway galaxy. The planets that make up the solar system including Earth are also part of this rotation around the galaxy. Astronomers estimate that this speed is a whopping 500,000 mph. This is an unimaginable number but it pales in comparison to the speed at which our galaxy and all its solar systems are traveling through the universe. Latest estimates put that speed at 1,340,000 mph.
These speeds can be hard to grasp. In comparison, the Apollo missions took about 3 days to get to the moon. At our rotational speed it would take ten days to reach the moon. However, at our orbital speed it would only take three and half hours and faster yet, at our sun’s speed it would take only twenty eight minutes for the same trip.
Because of the constant speed of these motions we don’t notice the affects on us or our surroundings. We are more sensitive to acceleration. You would have experienced this if you have ever been on a train and looked out the window and noticed the train next to you moving, only to later find out it was actually you moving.
All motion takes energy. Whether it’s gas in your car, or food for your horse, movement comes at a cost. The natural question then becomes: where did the energy come from to produce all of this cosmic motion? The accepted scientific theory say all of this motion from the sub-atomic to the galactic drift, came from a single explosion known as the big bang. Many astronomical observations support this theory which does indicate that the universe is expanding. However, this theory does have many holes which have yet to be explained. Why are galaxies not all traveling from a central location outward? Why is the universe so distributed with voids and clusters of matter?
While science tries to explain all this motion, remember, you’re far from standing still. Never again do you have to make excuses for relaxing and doing nothing all weekend. If anyone asked what you did over the weekend, tell them you went on a galactic adventure. In one weekend alone you traveled far enough to go around the world over 3000 times. What did you do?

May 16

Back in February a discovery made headlines around the world. Scientists announced they had finally discovered evidence of gravitational waves. First postulated by Albert Einstein a century ago, this revelation has galactic implications for mankind.
The discovery was made by a team of scientists at the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO). Using a laser beam over a long distance it was able to notice slight variations in the beam of light that they say can only be attributed to gravitational waves passing through the Earth warping the alignment of the laser light.
At first, most won’t think much of it, and rightly so. This historical discovery will likely take decades to be fully felt. If our track record is any indication of the future, the next generation could be in for an interesting ride. Discovery and detection is only the first step in a long line of developments yet to come.
Looking back to the late 1800’s, scientists such as James Maxwell had advanced our understanding of light as both a wave and a particle. A few decades later, we were using our knowledge of light to detect the expansion of the universe, measure distances to distant galaxies, manipulating light in televisions and developing lasers. In the 1880’s scientists such as Heinrich Hertz had discovered radio waves, and those implications are felt all around us today, from wifi to cell phones, we have mastered the air waves. In both cases discovering the existence was the first of many steps towards understanding and then manipulation of these waves.
If our knowledge of gravity waves follows the same course, society has much to look forward to. One example is the unified theory of forces. For the last century, scientists from around the world have been trying to combine the four forces of nature into one theory. The remaining holdout for the last twenty years has been gravity. It has long been speculated that a unified theory will be the next turning point for mankind, much as E=MC2 at the turn of the last century revolutionized our understanding of the universe. One can only hope that a theory that connects all the forces including gravity will be a game changer.
Gravity plays a very costly role in our day to day lives. Fueling airplanes and other transport systems are directly proportional to overcoming gravity. We also know that leaving the Earth’s gravitational pull is the limiting factor in our space exploration efforts. If we eventually become masters of gravity we could learn to overcome its pull on us. Once in space, manipulating gravity could be instrumental as a new form of propulsion. Propelling forward by ejecting flames is a hundred year old technology. It would be so much easier to create a gravitational force and just fall towards the direction you are going.
I suspect that this discovery will spur more interest and lead to increased investment and research which will accelerate the field even faster. If we are fortunate to be around long enough, the future might look a lot like the Jetsons after all

April 16

Edgar Michell

On February 4th 2016 the world lost one of the pioneers of the space age. Edgar Mitchell died at age 85, almost 45 years to the day, after he became the sixth man to walk on the moon. A great loss for mankind not only for his dedication and support for space exploration but also for his open minded attitude and ability to challenge the status quo.
Mitchell was best known for his role in the Apollo 14 crew which landed on the moon on February 5th 1971. Prior to his 6 years as a NASA astronaut, Edgar had graduated with a doctoral degree from MIT in astronautics and had a distinguished career in the navy reaching the rank of captain.
Clearly a well educated man with a solid established reputation. Trusted and respected by all who had the honor to meet him, Edgar put much on the line and braved much more than the vacuum of space. Since his retirement from NASA in 1972 he was an outspoken advocate that aliens and UFO’s were visiting earth. In the last three decades, Mitchell made hundreds of speaking engagements, radio and television appearances where he spoke openly about his inside knowledge of the UFO phenomenon.
“Yes there have been crashed craft and bodies recovered” words if spoken by someone else, would be ridiculed. However, these words were spoken by this famous astronaut during an interview. Mitchell added “I happened to be privileged enough to be in on the fact that we have been visited on this planet, and the UFO phenomenon is real”
The logical question is why someone of his stature would risk his reputation, making such claims. I have to conclude that he was compelled to do so. Being a man of honor and in a history of representing man kind, his convictions were enough to over come any fear of ridicule.
Mitchell’s beliefs in the extraterrestrial beings extended into many areas. He said he had inside information that confirmed the 1947 crash at Roswell New Mexico was a real incident. Admitting in one of his final interviews, he never actually saw a UFO, first hand. He attributed his NASA career to providing him access to sensitive information and people with inside information. It’s safe to assume he was intelligent enough not to be manipulated or gullible and would not take any information of this nature lightly. His insiders share many details including those that saw extraterritorial bodies first hand, and about military engagements with UFOs. Edgar Mitchell reconfirmed his beliefs as one of dozens of witnesses that provided testimony at the congressional citizen’s hearings on UFOs in Washington in 2013.
When asked why they were visiting Earth, Mitchell concludes, streamed from the cold war era, that “Aliens tried to save America from nuclear war”
With his passing, we lost more than just an icon, we lost someone who risked all to come forward with such earth changing information. In an era where public support for UFOs was met with comments akin to little green men, I hope that he is remembered for his courage. Not just his courage to face space exploration but also the harshness of our own world. I also hope his courage paves the way for many more like him.

Feb. 2015

Time Travel
One of my favorite subjects is Time Travel. Gauging by the popularity of hit movies such as “Back to The Future” it appears I’m not alone. What is more interesting to me is watching how this once futuristic science fiction subject is slowly making its way into main stream science.
Not obvious to most of us, but we are already time traveling. However it seems to be limited to only traveling forward. Einstein was first to make time travel a scientific reality. Einstein demonstrated that time is relative to the observer. Here on earth, a day is 24 hours for all of us. We all share this same relative speed and point of view. However, he theorized if one twin brother leaves earth at high speed into space for 10 years and then returns back at high speed for another 10 years. During his journey he would age 20 years. However because his speed through the universe is much greater relative to his brother back on earth his brother aged significantly more than 20 years.
It would take many pages to explain why this happens, but for most it sounds like science fiction, but it has been confirmed on many occasions with synchronized atomic clocks traveling at high speed. This advancement in our understanding of time dilation is what makes GPS technology possible. Extremely accurate time signals from an orbiting satellite in space allows us to calculate your position on the earth to within inches.
Einstein also gave the universe a speed limit known as the speed of light. We think of light, but it actually applies to any object from a sub atomic particle to a spacecraft. Electrons in your electrical wire, or neutrinos traveling from distant stars, all are thought to conform to the speed limit. We know that time slows down with increased speed, and having a speed limit should make traveling back in time impossible… or does it?
Using a method popularized by Einstein this can be demonstrated in a thought experiment. Imagine your brother sitting in his starship in orbit around Pluto. Meanwhile you are on your deck back on earth looking at him in your telescope. Remember the view in your telescope takes six hours to reach your eyes from Pluto. Your brother has the newest model of star ship and he can travel faster than light. He leaves Pluto and arrives 5 hours later back on earth. He joins you on the deck and the two of you look at him still sitting at Pluto. For all intents and purposes your brother has traveled back in time.
The implications of time travel into the past are so huge that it is believed to be impossible and therefore faster than light travel is a limitation of the universe, or is it? Science has long looked to the sub atomic structure of the universe for many answers. In the last decade super colliders that smash particles together have just started to reveal some of its secrets long sought after by science for over a century. The discovery of the Higgs Boson “god” particle made headlines back in 2013 as a direct result of these efforts. More recently, scientist have successfully tested another sub atomic theory known as the Quantum Entanglement. In this theory two related particles are entangled, or connected. As one particle in this relationship is altered the other particle reacts instantaneously. The reaction is not limited by distance. One mile or one light year away, the two particles are believed to communicate instantly. This means they don’t conform to the universal speed limit. So far it has only been proven in an experiment at a relatively short distance. But the radical theory is ringing true. The implications of this cannot be overstated. The basis of our science is built on a foundation of speed of light limitation. Breaking this speed limit might not just land you in cosmic court; you may find yourself looking at some real hard time!

Jan. 2015

One of the contributing factors to planet earth’s ability to sustain life has been the protective shield around the earth known as the Van Allen belt. This unique radiation field surrounding the earth was named after James Van Allen who is credited with its discovery in 1958.
The Van Allen belt is a series of donut shaped belts of high energy particles that surrounds the earth. It is this same belt that is accredited for giving us the Aurora affect. When large energy discharges from solar flares travel past the earth they interact with this belt and produce the northern and southern lights.
Recent announcements from NASA say they discovered the reason for Mars not having an atmosphere. In these reports, they state that the Mars atmosphere was slowly washed away with the constant stream of radiation from the sun, also called the solar wind. Fortunately back on earth, the Van Allen belt shields the earth from these winds and deflects the sun’s harmful radiation away from the planet’s surface.
It is believed the Van Allen belt is a result of our planet’s iron core creating magnetic fields around the earth. The magnetic field projects as far as 1000km into space and traps these high energy particles in space and acts as a shield. The orbit of the satellites and international space station all travel inside of this shield which has protected them over the decades.
Many attempts over the last 50 years have been made to better understand the nature of the Van Allen belt. Many probes and space missions have carried instruments in attempt to measure the belt’s strength and hopefully confirm its origin. The belt’s existence was confirmed in the 1958 by the Explorer 1 and 3 space craft. That same year, Explorer 4 mission was able to map the rough size and shape of the belt.
Although they are fairly confident that its existence is attributed to our iron core they are unable to explain why all the other iron core planets such as Venus and Mars do not have a similar protective shield. Why does earth have a protective shield and not them?
Another interesting revelation attributed to the Van Allen belt is its effects on manned missions into space. Recent releases from NASA indicate they are struggling to find a method to protect astronauts during future planned missions, such as those to Mars. They acknowledge the danger both from traveling through the belt and after from harmful radiation from the sun. A wall of lead three feet thick would be required to diminish the radiation levels to safe levels. This would be impossible to accomplish as the sheer weight of such a craft would be beyond rocket capabilities.
One is then left with an obvious question. How did they accomplish such a task almost 50 years ago with crude and archaic technology during the manned missions to the moon? Even if we were to colonize the Moon or Mars how would we protect its citizens from exposure to radiation without such a protective barrier?
While our technology is advancing in energy, propulsion, computing and other areas of space travel. The challenge seems to be our inability to project ourselves from these dangers. I suspect all the talks about going to Mars and Russia’s plans to send cosmonauts to the moon, will only become a reality if this challenge is resolved. I hope we do, and I hope I live long enough to see it happen.

Dec. 2015

I find it amazing that the most abundant element in the universe, Hydrogen, gets almost no attention in the mainstream media. It’s the primary element being fused together in our stars which eventually creates the majority of energy sources in the universe and here on Earth. It also makes up almost two thirds of the water molecule, which as we all know, is not in short supply.
Besides being the most abundant element and the first element on the periodic table, hydrogen has many other interesting qualities. Hydrogen first became a household name in the 1950’s when H-bomb entered our lexicon. The world suddenly realized the energy potential of the smallest and lightest atom in the universe. Today we use hydrogen at an alarming rate and most of us don’t even realize. Hydrocarbons more commonly known as fossil fuels get their energy from the hydrogen atoms which are bonded to carbon. The hydrogen releases energy and the carbon is freed into the atmosphere in the form of pollution.
For decades we have heard talk of a future where clean hydrogen technology such as fuel cells will power everything from cars to homes. Yet these remain theoretical and have not become a reality? I suspect the reason is more complicated but the leading factor that I can find is the challenge of storage. An element as small as hydrogen, can’t easily be contained. Unlike liquids and gasses like propane, which have molecular structures thousands of times larger, can easily be trapped in tanks for future use. This is unfortunate as we have the technology today to create plenty of hydrogen for energy. Anyone using a simple Direct Current (DC) voltage placed in water can separate the O from the H2. Pound for pound, H2 when burned produces about three times more energy than our typical sources such as gasoline, propane or natural gas.
Because the energy contained in Hydrogen is so great, it has many ideal uses such as the fuel for rockets and vehicles. Hydrogen has long been looked at as the critical element to help us explore the universe. Man has been able to escape the gravity of Earth and begin to explore local space. However, the amount of energy required to carry large quantities of fuel into orbit is our dilemma. The larger the supply of fuel we want to take to space the more fuel we need to lift it. At some point we exhaust almost all of our fuel trying to escape gravity and we are no further ahead. With current propulsion technology we would need to find an energy source in space to “refuel”. NASA has invested billions of dollars in search of water in our solar system. Not only because it’s the basis for finding signs of life, but also it could be used to generate an easy source of fuel. Once a quantity of water is discovered nearby such as on the moon or mars, an array of solar panels could be used to generate a supply of hydrogen. With energy, the other requirements for space colonization such as growing food, generating heat and construction and transportation could be supported.
As our planet’s supplies of oil eventually deplete, the world will have to look to other sources of energy. By separating water into H2 and O we have an endless supply. This is because the hydrogen once burned returns to water again. The argument against the hydrogen energy has long been the amount of energy required to separate the atoms. However as the cost of other energy sources increase with dwindling supplies, hydrogen may be a solution not only for space but for us back on Earth.

Nov. 2015

If you have been watching news about scientific discoveries regarding space over the last number of years, you likely have observed a trend. A theme that I am happy to see unfold. One that has been removing the century of scientific dominated belief that extra territorial life is unlikely.
I’m a keen follower of announcements and news releases from the scientific community. If you have read some of my previous articles, you would know that I have scrutinized many scientists for being closed minded and too quick to draw conclusions. Especially when they have one pixel of evidence yet are arrogant to tell us what the entire picture looks like.
By following these reports, I have noticed a shift in the thinking. The turning point seemed to have been when the overwhelming evidence was made public from the Kepler space telescope. This led us now to estimate 100’s millions of planets exist in our galaxy, where it was once though it might be only 10,000. More recent announcements from NASA also concluded, contrary to a century of belief, that water still exists on Mars. While these discoveries are extraordinary, the most recent reports of a massive unexplained object are turning the scientific community upside down.
A star named, KIC 8462852 approximately 1,500 light years away is puzzling astronomers worldwide. The star has been closely observed for a number of years and in that time its light has periodically been dimmed. While this is not abnormal in itself, the frequency and amount of light being received, is. Star light dims when an object passes in front of the star. This is usually a planet or another orbiting body. Orbits are consistent and can be predicted as is the amount of light being lost as a result. Typically a large Jupiter size planet would dim the light by a mere 1% and this would occur at a regular interview. KIC 8462852’s light, however has been dropping at random times and at variable amounts up to 22%. This has scientists baffled. No known space objects can be attributed to this kind of behavior. A planet large enough to have this result would have to be massive and close to the star. Its presence would tug on the star and it would wobble or provide some other clue as to its size and orbit. Similar investigations were used to eliminate all other known causes, and now many in the scientific community are looking to an extraterrestrial intelligence as a possible answer and many are now going public with the ET cause as a possible answer.
Obviously more telescopes will focus on this star, and many more astronomers will jump into the discussion. But what interests me most is the growing trend of astronomers not only to accept the ET hypothesis as a possibility but also the lack of fear of being ridiculed for publicly stating their position. This theme seems to be gaining momentum and scientists are becoming more open minded. Wow what a thought! A discipline that is based on discovery being open to the possibility of something once thought unimaginable. All it took was a bit of shade for it to become a sunny day!

Oct. 2015

Space Travel
Science fiction has always been a head of the curve when it comes to man’s ability to explore space. Movies from a century ago depicted rockets taking us to the moon fifty years before this became a reality. This trend seemed to continue for much of the 20th century. 2001 a Space Odyssey release in the late sixties previewed the international space station decades ahead of its creation. Technological advancements such as flip phones, MRI scanners, and hand held scanners once thought science fiction from episodes of Star Trek fifty years ago, have been a reality since before of this century. At some point, however, the divide between fiction and reality has grown. We seemed to have reached a technological road block. More specifically our ability to traverse space has not kept pace with science fiction or the rate of developments with the other technological advancements.
Sadly, the most recent and those still planned trips to space will utilize technology that was in use in 1950, namely rocket propulsion. As we took baby steps into space, our technological knowledge was limited. Therefore rockets were a crude but affective means to push man beyond the gravity of earth. Crude from an efficiency perspective as much of the energy required was to lift the sheer weight of the fuel needed to push us. A catch 22 they say. Some sixty years later man has advanced on almost every front. From computing power, global communications, alloys and materials to understanding of the subatomic particles, we have grown as a species. Yet we still need to depend on a technology that is only a minor improvement from other projectiles like arrows or spears.
Is our road block to space a scientific limitation? Or is it being held up by money, politics or some other force. The 19th century was the year of innovation. We went from horses to cars to planes, from telegraph to radio to internet. On every front people were inspired to push, discover and invent. Was innovation and discovery lacking when it came to energy and space travel technology? Most believe that why we still use rockets. I’m not one of them.
When we look back on the last century it seems to be clouded in mystery when it came to these types of discoveries. Nikola Tesla who invented Alternating Current over a hundred years ago, gave us the modern electrical grid system, died poor. He claimed he could give the world free energy, but fell out of favor with powerful men because they could not make money from something that was free. When he died his research was confiscated never to been seen again. Numerous inventors of anti-gravity technology over the last century such as Townsend Brown, Henry Wallace, and Canada’s John Hutchinson have tried to bring technology to the masses. Unfortunately, instead of helping the world, each of them ended succumbing to an unpleasant fate. Hutchinson has had his work and his lab confiscated by police and military on more than one occasion.
With an open mind and a bit of research the evidence is readily available. Hundreds of inventions by ordinary people could have helped man kind to efficiently travel to space. The obvious question that remains is why? But the real question should be, is this true? Ben Rich the previous head of Lockeed Skunkworks, creators of the stealth bomber, confessed on his death bed that they had the means to travel among the stars since the 1960’s. Maybe science fiction isn’t that far off, after all!

Sept 2015

For thousands of years the moon has been a source of wonder and amazement for mankind. So much so that it gave birth to our modern months and even lends its name to the first day of the week “Moonday.” Its influence has stretched from hundreds of songs, thousands of books and countless movie and pop culture influences. We don’t think of it much but it’s all around us. Michal Jackson’s moon walk or Pink Floyd’s “Dark side of the moon”, Werewolves coming out during full moon, or police and emergency rooms reporting an increase during full moons. The list is long, yet with all of this history and obvious impacts on society, is there more to our closest solar neighbor then meets the eye?
Part of the lure of the moon has been its mysterious dark side. The moon rotates on its axis at the same speed it orbits the Earth, therefore the same side of the moon always faces us here on earth. For thousands of years we wondered what was hiding on the back side? This changed after the first Russian space craft, Luna-3 orbiter, photographed the entire moon and sent back pictures. NASA followed suit in the mid 1960’s with a number of Ranger spacecraft sending back its own set of images. Exploration continued with various craft landing on the moon during the same decade and ending with the famous Apollo 11 craft and the first man stepping on the moon on July 20th of 1969. Before the last Apollo mission ended in 1972, twelve people in all had walked on the moon.
Over forty years later, and man has never been back. You would think with improvements in technology over the last five decades it would be a much easier task? Improvements in alloys, computers, energy, batteries, propulsion ..etc would all support a safer and more cost effective return visit? So why has it been avoided? The various answers are as wide ranging as the distance to the moon.
The political answer is “it’s not important, we have other priorities.” Maybe so, but one can’t dismiss the effect Apollo missions had on their technological, political and social achievements that led the USA to the forefront during a very disruptive time in American history.
The scientific perspective claims we have nothing more to learn from the moon? The 800lbs of moon rocks brought back during the Apollo missions tell us everything we need? That sounds a bit hard to believe. Especially now that NASA reports that it has “lost” most of the moon rocks?
The conspiracy theory, surprisingly, seems to be the most plausible. During almost every Apollo missions including the famous Neil Armstrong landing, astronauts reported back to NASA seeing strange craft. These were reported during the trip to the moon and during the landings on the moon. Armstrong’s transmission to NASA “oh my god, you wouldn’t believe it! I’m telling you there are other spacecraft out there, lined up on the far side of the crater, they’re on the moon watching us.” A few years later, Armstrong confided to a credible witness at a public function that we were “warned off” about returning. Armstrong was not alone. Since his admission, dozens of other astronauts have come forward and discussed encounters with craft in space. The consensus being that we are being monitored as we take baby steps off this planet we call home. The common belief is that as long as we are contained to our own world, we are less likely to take our warring ways into the greater cosmic neighborhood.
So until things change and the politics of going back to the moon improve or the private sector can make profit by doing so, we will just have to continue to dream about returning to the moon.

June 2015

It’s fairly easy to see the universe is full of mysteries. Otherwise what would the thousands of astronomer, cosmologist and physicist around the world be doing? For over a century we have observed, studies, and in a few cases ventured into space to advance our understanding of the universe. Space is a extremely large place an estimated 90 billion light years across. Our longest running space craft, Voyageur 1 and 2 , which departed Earth in the early 70’s are only now leaving the confines our solar system. Latest estimates put them at about 15 light hours away or about 3 times the distance to Pluto. So in the grand scheme of things, our worldly efforts to understand space haven’t even taken the plastic wrap of this book discovery.
On the other hand, our telescopes are seeing farther and farther into space. Telescopes in my life time have gone from the size of a transport truck to now, the size of a parking lot. These large telescopes such as the Extremely Large Array (ELA) telescopes are able to focus very faint light, which usually translates into a seeing object at a great distance. The farthest object, a distant galaxy, seen by a telescope is estimated at 13.3 billion light years away. In other words the light from this galaxy has been travelling through space since almost since the beginning of the universe, estimated to be about 13.8 billion years old.
These size, distance and age estimate are all accepted by scientific community as fact. This same community also lives by the laws of physics. Laws that say nothing can travel fast then the speed of light. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see the conflict in this “facts”.
How does a universe that started with a single point smaller than an atom, explode with a big bang and expand to 90 billion light years in size? How does expand that big in only 13.8 billion years without travelling faster then the speed of light? Likewise how does a galaxy which forms only 12 billion years ago, travel over 13 billion light years. I can’t explain it, and as far as I can tell, neither can the scientific community. Nor can they explain why the universe is speeding up or why galaxies seem to be gravitating towards a common point.
This just tells me our understanding of the universe is not simple and explainable by our current laws of physics. Yet each time I pick up a journal, a book or watch a documentary I here our top scientific minds explaining the universe like it was absolute truth. The evidence is mounting that our understanding of the universe is flawed which is building pressure which should lead to a leap in our understanding much like Einstein did at the beginning of the 1900’s. Thankfully a new generation of scientist such as Michio Kaku are breaking the mould and paving the way for open minded thinking. I hope this scientific leap happens in my lifetime and with it, we break our dependence on fossil fuels and master space travel. Maybe then many of these mysteries will finally be solved.

Signals from Space
Since the 1960’s, mankind has been listening for signs of extra terrestrial life on our airwaves.  The majority of this effort has mostly been in the form of looking for ET’s radio signals.  For the last three decades the Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence or more popularly known as SETI has been leading the effort.
After thirty one years and billions of dollars, SETI has produced no notable results in this search.  For this reason, those such as Stanton Freidman a nuclear physicist and a leading UFO research commonly dismiss SETI as the “Silly Effort To Investigate”. Other then a few random signals that have never been repeated,  SETI has come up empty handed.    Not for lack of effort but more so for the sheer size of space and billions of stars that could potentially be home to some ETs.  Compounding this problem is the distance to many of these stars.  By the time the signal reaches us, thousands of years have passed.  Who’s to say ET has even invented radio or perhaps maybe they use some other form of communications.  .
Thankfully, SETI is not the only game in town.  Many earth and space based observatories have also been scanning the skies in the radio frequency.  Not specifically for intelligent life but for sources of radio emissions to help us better understand the universe.    Objects such as pulsating stars, or quasars are examples of objects that give off interesting radio emissions from great distances.
Earlier this year, scientists from the University of Hawaii released findings about an interesting signal that had been observed ten times since 2001 from various observatories around the world.  The signal itself was not that interesting, however the disbursement of the signal was.  The signal followed a mathematical pattern that can not be explained from any natural source.  This pattern is based on intervals of 187.5.  Each time the signal was heard and plotted it followed a straight line.  As each interval of the signal was heard it was a multiple of this number.  After eliminating all known potential sources the remaining conclusion appears to be someone out there was trying to communicate.  Exactly what, is not known.  Are they telling us this number has some significance or is it to show us that it doesn’t occur naturally and therefore, must come from intelligent sources?
The signal originates about 10,000 light years away, which is relatively close on the cosmic scale.  Consider our galaxy is about 100,000 light years wide and our nearest galactic neighbour is about 2.9 million light years away.
Ten signals over fifteen years is nothing to call home about, but it is more then we have ever discovered from space in almost fifty years of listening.   The signal has renewed the dwindling interest in ET signal searching and has given it a new life and an expanded range of frequencies to search.   While some scientists are actively seeking explanations for the signal that could be naturally occurring, other scientists are jumping on the band wagon and looking to see if the signal is occurring elsewhere in space or whether we may have missed signals of similar nature along the way.   Both efforts are valid and necessary.
Meanwhile, I think the scientific evidence supporting the proof of extra terrestrial life just got another arrow in its quiver.  I for one will be listening to how this unfolds over the next few years.

Spock and Star Trek
It’s with great sadness that one of my inspirations in the field of science and astronomy passed away recently.  Leonard Nimoy, made famous by his character Spock on the series Star Trek in the 60’s, died February 27th.
Like many others of my generation I was fixated not only on the series but what it represented.   Years before man had set foot on the moon, Star Trek was breaking ground on our understanding of science and introducing a generation of kids to the possibility of space travel.   More impressively, we have witnessed much of what was science fiction in those episodes, become reality over the last fifty years.
I watched the evolution of cell phones closely match those of the communicators used by crew members.  The advent of the MRI or Cat scanners seemed to be taken out of the sick bay of the enterprise.  More recently 3D printers and advances in energy also seem to have their precursor in some form from Gene Roddenberry, the creator of Star Trek.
Gene consulted cutting edge scientists of the day and wanted to make it futuristic but also based on real science.  He was successful at incorporating not only where science was heading, but also in capturing the hearts and minds of a generation.   He did not let the limitations of the scientific community restrict the abilities of technology of the Enterprise.  Easier to do when your on a stage rather then really in space.  But nevertheless, he pushed us beyond the confines of our planet in many ways.    While science was still stuck in a Cartesian space and struggling to understand Einstein’s theories of space-time, Gene was traveling great distances by warping space in its warp drive.
In addition to the prophetic technical abilities, Star Trek also conditions us culturally.  While segregation and cold war was at its peak, Gene pushed the boundaries by having lead members of his crew representing many parts of the world.    More importantly Star Trek truly started to prepare mankind for the likelihood that vast numbers of civilizations existed in the universes.  This was against the belief of the day which predicted only a small chance of life existed beyond Earth.  Now it is accepted that billions of planets exist that could produce and support life.
Star Trek and Spock’s influence on our modern society is all around us.  Countless kids were inspired to go into science.  Support for space exploration grew.  Many visions of a future became reality and many more are still in the works.   For me, in addition to inspiring me to take up astronomy, it also did much more.  It demonstrated that our drive to explore is not only possible but necessary for our survival.  It showed us that having a vision of the future is the first step to reaching that future.  One such future exists where mankind is united in a common purpose of peace and exploration.  A future where money is no longer the controlling factor and an open mind is as important as a scientific one.   Each week the crew encountered something new that could not be explained in conventional terms.  As the science officer, Spock with his robotic like logic, never closed his mind to all the possibilities, but instead collected the data, followed the facts and as he has said so many times,  could be a lesson for many, “if you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be true”

The edge of the universe?
One of the most interesting questions and subsequent discussions I have ever had was “What is beyond the edge of the universe?”  At first glance this might seem like a simple question with many potential answers and theories.  The most simple of answers is nothing, nothing exists beyond the edge of the universe.   Sounds simple enough?  But is it?
Latest estimates put the visible universe at 93 billion light years in diameter.  Now try and visualize this imaginary bubble that extends in all directions about 46 billion light years away from us here on earth.  If beyond the bubble exists nothing?  The questions that remain will boggle your mind.  Is it possible to have nothingness?   What is the universe expanding into?  Unlike the vacuum of space, nothingness would have none of the characteristics that we are all comfortable with.   Dimensions such as height, width and depth would not exist.   Space-time would not exist nor would light be able to travel in this void.  If this region is void of all reality, then one has to consider that “nothing” is not a strong enough word.  Maybe it would be more accurate to say it doesn’t exist?
Scientists have grappled with this same question ever since Edwin Hubble discovered the universe was expanding in the early 20th century.  Many cutting edge theories try to explain this basic question.  However, these theories all provide different and conflicting answers.   One theory, supported by some observational data, suggests that another universe exists outside our own.   Much like if you traveled far enough you would cross a “Cosmic border”
Another theory which dates back to Einstein, suggests that the universe actually folds or warps back on itself.  Einstein described it looking like a saddle, whereas modern theories describe it more like a soccer ball.  In either case if you could travel far and fast in one direction, say south, you would eventually return to your original location from the opposite direction i.e. north.  Similarly, if you had a bright enough laser and enough time, you could point it in one direction and the light would hit you in the back.  Unfortunately we don’t have the luxury of waiting 93 billion years for the light to return.
Whether you believe our universe is surrounded by a multitude of other universes or the universe bends space back on itself under its own mass, you are still left with the same question we started with.   Imagine a bucket of golf balls, each representing a unique universe.  It doesn’t matter how big the bucket is, or that each may loop back on itself, eventually you reach a boundary where the question remains, what is beyond that?
You can see how it would be easy to get entangled in this discussion.   No matter what answer you come up with you are always left with the question “what’s beyond that?” Like many other mysteries of the universe, it becomes obvious just how much we don’t know.    Perhaps that’s part of our own existence. I doubt we will ever find answers to all these questions.   Ironically Einstein’s model of the universe may be the answer.  Seeking the answers might not be the end of our understanding, but the beginning.  Maybe we will learn more about ourselves and our place in the universe from the questions than the answers.  After all with so many questions about God, the beginning, the end, after life and many more it’s obvious we don’t really understand what existence is so who are we to judge.
2014 Busy UFO year
Many indicators are point to an increase in reports of strange craft in our
skies. Internationally UFO reports are now numbering in the tens of thousands
annually. Here in Canadian, sighting reports increased by about 50% over
the previous year and over 1000% over the previous decade. Even locally,
sightings filed with the Thunder Bay Observatory are more then double then
the previous years. One has to ask, is it more activity in our skies or is it
just more people looking up and taking the time to report them? I’m leaning
towards more aerial phenomena as the cause.
I will be the first to admit, however, that more worldly explanations are also
increasing that could account for more of the craft being seen. The largest
factor becoming more of a reality these days is the use of drones by average
people. They have become easy to use, affordable and likely account for
many daytime sightings. Also now the vast majority of people are walking
around with cameras on cell phones helps substantiate the sighting and make
people more inclined to report them, as they have some form of proof.
Even after removing many potential misidentified man made objects, a
large number of world wide sightings are still unexplainable. A large number
of sightings recently, fall into the category of creditable. These include
multiple witnesses in multiple locations, detailed photographic evidence,
video footage and radar verification to name a few. Another factor adding
creditability to the reports is the witnesses themselves. Increasing we see
more accounts from police officers, pilots and military, all of which are
trained to observe.
With each passing year, the questions we are left with evolve. In the
early days of ufology no one asked if a craft that shot away at 5000mph was
one of ours, when our fastest plane was flying under 500mph? Today with
military secrecy and technological advances these types of questions no
longer seem unrealistic. However the question then becomes if these are our
own craft, why is the technology being withheld. Why not share that energy
source and propulsion system to the betterment of mankind? For years, the naysayer’s main
argument was “the military and government could not keep secrets.” Therefore they could
not be in possession of UFO technology. These same naysayers now try to argue these craft are
our own secret craft and the military has been able to keep it secret for 40+ years. Can they
keep secrets or not?
Most UFO researchers feel that the truth will eventually come out. If it’s not some
form of official or accidental disclosure by the government perhaps a during a mainstream
media evidence such as a craft landing on national TV during the Superbowl. In the mean
time the sightings continue to grow, the amount of witnesses coming forward is increasing and
the evidence piles up. All attempts to get the discussion heard in a legally binding forum
such as congress or court have failed. The only explanation is the fear of the outcome.
Remember a murder suspect can be convicted on the testimony of two witnesses and some footage from a security camera. Imagine what the court would say if millions of witnesses, thousands of photographs and truck loads of ground trace evidence was given the chance to be presented in an unbiased logical forum.

Building Blocks of Life

NASA announced just before Christmas that the Curiosity rover had discovered the building blocks of life on Mars. From the reaction in the mainstream news and on social media this was exciting news. For me and others who follow the quest for extraterrestrial life, this was not shocking. After all, the scientific efforts to find life in the universe have a history of similar discoveries. This is only the most recent in a long series of related discoveries.

President Clinton announced that fossilized microbes had been discovered in a Mars meteorite in 1996. This was a large press conference where the news circulated the world, but only to go silent days after. Again in 2011 NASA announces more meteors have been found with signs of life. Further analysis shows the microbe life is void of nitrogen and therefore could not have originated from nitrogen rich earth and had to originate elsewhere.

2004 NASA’s Stardust spaceship flew through the tale of comet “Wild 2” and captured samples from the gas and dust. These samples were returned to earth in 2006 and once analyzed revealed the building blocks of life such as amino acids and glycene were contained in the sample. Although no reports have been provided yet from Rosetta Comet Lander which touched down on a comet late in 2014, I suspect we will hear similar reports of life signs once the data comes in.

One of the most exciting reports came early in 2014, when it was discovered that microbial life was living on the exterior of the International Space Station. It’s long been said by the scientific community that the extreme temperatures, lack of oxygen and absence of moisture would make it impossible for life to exist in the emptiness of space. Yet these cousins of the sea plankton were found growing out side of earth’s biosphere.

Even while we continue to find signs of life in our solar system, other efforts have found thousands of other solar systems. Evidence indicates that many of the planets discovered also contain oxygen. Even our nearest neighbor Alpha Century has been found to have planets orbiting it. The data is conclusive; the existence of planets in our galaxy is now accepted to be in the billions. A far cry from the 10,000 estimates publicly stated only 30 years ago.

I find it interesting that the scientific community is consistency with each passing discovery. For almost of century they have repeatedly stated that life likely won’t exist elsewhere in our solar system and Earth is a rare planet in the universe. After each new discovery, the media and population gets excited and the scientist rush in and lay down the wet blanket. “Don’t get excited they say”, we will find a logical explanation. They ramp up efforts to find an alternative explanation, reasons why it can’t be true. Despite the quick rebuttals, a trend is emerging in the scientific community. With each passing discovery they keep increasing the odds that we will find life. As our technology improves, so does the quality and amount of new data. Good science is based on theory and data. As better data becomes available, our theories should be updated to reflect this. But this is not the usually the case. The old school version of life as rare and limited to earth still dominate the landscape. I worry that only after a sentient ET being has landed on the lawn of the White House, will the scientific community come up with theories to explain how it’s possible. After all that seems to be the approach today.

Did someone turn down the sun?

Like many of you, this time of year I bundle up for the coming winter. The annual ritual includes digging out the winter clothes and boots, stock piling firewood, installing winter tires among many other activities.

Over the last two winters we northerners have had a rude awaking. The cold seems to move in to the region sooner in the season and with more vigor. The persistent cold seems to linger all winter. I wonder if maybe we were just spoiled by the last decade of fairly mild winters and this is just a return to normal. Is this just part of the cycle of things? Is it part of what was first called global warming but now referred to as climate change? Last winter was so bad they had to come up with a name that imprinted on our minds, the “polar vortex”. Forecasters are now saying prepare for another cold one, some have even dubbed it the T-Rex of winters. That doesn’t sound good no matter how you say it. I’m not a climatologist or a meteorologist, but I am an astronomer, so I often look to the stars for answers. In this case I look to our own star the sun.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that much of our temperature is related to the sun. Between the spring and fall equinox we have more hours of sun than darkness. As summer rolls in, the sun is high in the sky and provides much direct radiation that warms the northern hemisphere. In the winter the days are short and the sun is low in the sky providing little energy and time to warm the ground and the air. Add to that some white ground cover which reflects the little sun and much of the heat we do get on those sunny days.

With two nasty winters behind us and another in the forecast I started looking to the sun for answers. The output of the sun is fairly consistent which means the amount of energy that comes from the sun per square meter here on earth is fairly consistent. So has that changed?

Astronomers have long since known about cycles of solar spots and solar flares that occur on a fairly consistent pattern. They peak every 11 or 12 years and also follow a longer rhythm of three declining maximums in a row. During the mid 80’s, 90’s and again around 2005 the sun spot activity was quiet. During the same period, the activity reached maximum around 1990 and again in 2001 but with about 25% less intensity and again in 2014 the intensity of 50% less. When you graph this longer term cycle and overlap it on the average winter temperatures for Canada you see a direct correlation. The coldest winter years usually follow the years with low sun activity and the hottest summers and mildest winters of the last few decades are usually those that follow the peak in sunspot activity.

This is not to say that the sun is the only factor or that climate change is not a reality. On the contrary the data shows that the world temperature is actually climbing slowly with each decade. I’m just looking for some relief from the cold. The current solar peak is expected to last into next year, and although it’s expected to be the lowest of solar maximums, I’m still crossing my fingers that we have a mild spring and next winter is mild. I for one would like to see T-Rex stay extinct.

Moon Mysteries

The moon is a fascinating object in the night sky. It??s one of the few objects that are visible from all the corners of the world every day. Ancient evidence from temples, structures, art work and monuments such as Stonehenge or Mayan ruins indicate a keen historical interest in the moon. With its changing location, size and phases, people have been fascinated for thousands of years. Ancient cultures around the world developed calendars based on the moon and learned how to predict its motions and eclipse. The moons influence on our calendar is felt today with the month being closely linked to the 29 day cycle of the moon.

Our interest in the moon only increased the more we looked. First with the advent of the telescope and later as we made it into space, man finally had a chance to see it up close. The long standing conspiracy on whether or not we landed on the moon in 1969, was laid to rest in 2012, when the Japanese orbiter photographed the moon rover, flag and tire tracks on the surface of the moon. However, more unsolved mysteries about the moon still persist.

The first on this list of unknowns, is how the moon came to be. Of the two leading theories on the moon’s origins, the impact theory is the most accepted. In this theory the moon was said to be created out of an impact of a large object with the earth resulting in the moon being spun off from material from the original Earth. The second theory is less violent, which say the Earth captured the moon with its gravity while the moon wandered by. Both theories are full of craters. The composite of the moon is not consistent with that of the Earth which makes an Earth born theory tough to accept. Also the proximity to the earth after such a violent collision is mathematically unlikely. In addition the substantial force required to capture the moon in our gravity is also a stretch of laws of physics. Not only is the origin still unresolved, but equally is the mystery about place in the sky. The odds of all parameters being perfectly proportional to produce a match in size with the sun, which gives us spectacular total eclipses, is too great to be coincidence. You??d have a better chance of getting hit with lightning while holding a winning lottery ticket then finding the size of the sun and the moon along with the orbital sizes and distances lined up so conveniently. But we do!

Our story about the moon gets more interesting when you look at some of the historical reports. These include a long list of anomalies such as round and triangular craft, flashing lights, coloured clouds and strange structures being observed and photographed on the moon surface. NASA compiled a list of over 570 observed occurrences over a span of 450 years ending just prior to the manned flight to the moon. During the 1969 Apollo 12 mission, seismographs were installed on the moon. Later while ejecting the lunar module the readings from these instruments showed the moon to “ring like a bell” for an hour after it crash-landed. This was confirmed again in future Apollo missions and when space rocks crashed to the moon. This should not occur on a solid structure.

Many other weird relationships exist. Why is there a higher incidence of police and ambulance calls around the full moon? or why does a female??s cycle match the moon’s orbital period? We will never know. Hundreds of theories about the moon still circulate, dozens of books, documentaries, and research efforts still prevail which try to explain these unknowns. My favorites include hollow moon theory or the moon was placed in orbit by intelligent beings. I??m not endorsing either theory, but as always I??m keeping an open mind. After all, there is more to the moon than some cheesy stories!

UFO Truth Seekers

UFO research efforts have been underway for nearly seven decades. Ever since the waves of sightings in the 1940??s and 50??s private organizations such as Mutual UFO Network (MUFON) and the National UFO reporting centre have continued to increase efforts to get to the truth.

Early in the UFO days of the 20th century, governments and military were fairly open and transparent about the reported sightings. Somewhere around the mid 1950??s this policy changed to one of silence and denial. This lack of cooperation from official sources only fueled the resolve of private organizations to take over the quest. The official government stance on the subject came to a head with the release of project “Blue Book” in 1969, which could not explain thousands of sightings but yet continued to state the UFO??s were not of extraterrestrial origin.

Since the early 70??s MUFON and others have continued to collect data and research the phenomena. By 2001 this research had lead to hundreds of ex military, NASA, government and others coming forward after retiring from positions with credible exposure to extra ordinary events. One of the highest ranged officials in the group is ex-minister of defense for Canada, Paul Hellyer.

In 2001 the Disclosure Project was launched to capture and tell the details of all these creditable witnesses?? stories. The objective of the movement was to try and launch a official government investigation in the truth of the UFO phenomena. After 10 years and much publicity the stories of these individuals have been told over and over, yet no investigation and move to disclose the truth has happened. However, in spring of 2013, the pressure was once again escalated. Over the course of five days, over 30 hours of detailed and thorough presentations were made to a panel of congressional representatives in Washington DC. Known as the “Citizens Hearings”. Expert testimony from NASA, Military, NORAD, United Nations, world government officials and many many more were presented to the panel. (Available on-line CitizenHearing.Org) The five day event was covered by many media outlets and many leaders and officials were made aware of the efforts. The panel members were astonished and became convinced the subject needs further investigation.

Since the event last year, the organizers continue to increase the pressure applied to government with hopes to eventually come clean on what they know. This past spring the group was successful in securing thousands of petition signatures for President Obama??s open government citizen web site. Later this year, they plan to try and secure over 100,000 signatures to escalate the call for a congressional vote on the subject. By this fall, each member of congress will be given a detailed information package of video, documents and research from the last 50 years. Shortly after, they will be asked to meet with the group one by one.

This plan is both bold and strategic and is quickly gaining momentum. UFO truth seekers have decided it has been long enough, and they no longer want to take NO for an answer. I for one, will do all I can to support them. I hope you do too!

UFO Researcher Richard Dolan to Speak in Thunder Bay

The quest to understand the age old questions are we alone in the universe and what is the truth about the UFO phenomena has been a long and winding road. Sixty years after the wave of UFO sightings of the 1940??s that kicked off the modern UFO era, those questions still remain. Along that long road there have been many bumps that deflect, distract and dis-inform the masses. Some of these include crashes, abductions, witnesses, secret bases, cover-ups, documents, insider leaks and death bed confessions.

Fortunately a large number of people worldwide have dedicated much of their lives trying to get to the truth. These researchers come in all shapes and sizes, but every once in while an investigator comes along that dedicates years of his life and digs deeper, cuts through the fog of deception and assembles the pieces of the puzzle for the rest of us. In the world of ufology only a handful of investigators fit this bill and at the front of that list is Richard Dolan.

Richard Dolan is a professional historian who stumbled into the UFO field while researching cold war government topics. While UFO??s were not the focus of his research, he quickly found that he was unable to escape its reality. While visiting national archives and libraries, obtaining mountains of documents through freedom of information requests and many other research techniques the evidence began to pile up. With his open mind, and logical deduction skills, he has managed to decipher some of what has been happening with UFOs and governments for the last sixty plus years. Mr. Dolan has taken this vast amount of research and compiled some of the best books that could only be described as encyclopedias on the subject. I recently heard a friend say, “If UFO??s were taught at the university level, his book UFO??s and the National Security State, would be the required reading.”

Over the last few years, I have been fortunate to see Richard speak at a few conferences. You quickly respect him and his ability to articulate his research to the audience in a very logical and almost story like way. By the time he is done you feel like you just heard the final argument of the lawyer who??s evidence can only lead you to one conclusion. His reputation for sound and detailed research is obvious and has landed Richard many TV appearances. Lately it seems he is on every UFO research show on TV, a well deserved honor.

So why all the Richard Dolan praises? It??s because we will have a chance to hear him in person on June 8th. While making his cross Canada tour he will be making a special stop in Thunder Bay. This is a rare opportunity to see and hear one of the top three researchers in the world of UFOs. The “Modern Knowledge” tour is being organized by a former Thunder Bayer?? Christopher Russak who now lives in Toronto. Chris has worked hard to make this tour and our city??s stop possible. The local event will be held for a full day, at the Mind Vault on Cumberland Street.

If you would like more information, please contact me, pop in to the Mind Vault at 29s Cumberland Street, or visit the tour web site and www.ModernKnowledge2014.com


Whats Your Sign
For millions of people checking their horoscope is a daily ritual.?? Using the stars, planets and signs of the zodiac to predicting our future has been around for thousands of years.?? As long ago as 5000 years ago, the Babylonians were using astrology to predict outcomes of wars, leaders and annual harvest.?? Through the ages many famed people have attributed successful predictions of the future to the astrological arts.?? Given the long history and the large global following, one has to wonder if there is anything to this using stars to predict the future.
At a glance, one thing has to glare back at you.? How is it possible to divide the world??s seven billion plus people into twelve distinct personality groups based on what time of the year they were born?? Research studies have been conducted by creditable organizations to measure the merits of that exact question.? As you can guess the findings are usually consistent and no scientific basis is usually found to support the astrology claims.?? By no means does this deter the masses and the astrologers from producing and reading the daily horoscopes.
Despite the overwhelming scientific opposition, there seems to something to it.? Like me, I??m sure many of you have friends and family that perfectly fit the bill of one of the zodiac signs.?? Who hasn??t had to deal with a stubborn Leo or an indecisive Libra.???? I tend to think the description of the Sagittarian describes me fairly accurately, and I wear it proudly.?? Dividing people into groups based on personality traits a common place.? I??ve participated in a few group exercises over the years where a couple of questions are used… divide a group of 100+ people into few distinct personality types.?? The exercise is enlightening and fairly accurate. People have many inherited and dominant traits they are easy to spot.? The question is do they derive any of those traits from the stars?? Or is it merely a coincidence?
One could argue the universe is made up of cycles that could influence traits in people.? After all, we really don??t understand how seasons, gravity, length of day, height of the sun might influence our personality traits.? Studies in this area are lacking.? But when we compare this to the signs of the zodiac we can use some astronomy to look further.
Of the eighty eight constellations in the sky, twelve belong to the zodiac.? These twelve are the ones that are found along the parameter of the solar system.? Your sign is determined by locating which of these the sun is found when you are born.? For example, in December, the sun is in the constellation of Sagittarius.? At least it is this century?? The motions of the earth and the planets change over time.? We slow down, our year gets longer and we slowly go through a 26,000 year procession of the ages. A person born in October thousands of years ago would have been a Sagittarian by definition?? But the other factors such as weather, length of day..etc,? would have been different, would he be different also?
I??m not dismissing Astrology by any means.? I actually give them credit.? As an astronomer my job is simple, I look into the past.? How the planet looked hours ago, stars looked years ago or galaxies looked millions of years ago.? Astrologers on the other hand try to see the future, who am I to say otherwise?? Our origins and our future are in the stars, it??s not a far stretch to think maybe our fate is also.

April 2014
Hopefully by now you have noticed a consistent theme in my articles.? One that involves answering the age old question… Are we alone in the universe? As part of this on going quest to find evidence and arguments that support my belief that we are not alone, I regularly scan hundreds of sources of information.? When I find information that is relevant to the discussion, I like to make people aware of it.
Finding claims that support my belief is not a difficult task.? However finding hard evidence from a creditable source is usually more challenging.? So when I do, I make sure I share.? After all I??d like people to think I??m not a few donuts short of a dozen.
I have often referred to the efforts of NASA as a good source for providing evidence towards the ??life exists elsewhere?? argument.? One recent example was the amazing efforts of the short lived Kepler space telescope.? This space telescope, with little effort, was able to discover 1000??s of planets orbiting nearby stars.? Many of these planets were found in the habitable zone and a few dozen even indicated having water & oxygen like atmospheres. Other examples involved missions of NASA that were successful in confirming more concrete findings such as the discovery of amino acids and other building blocks of life in samples taken from asteroids and comets.
Again, I am sharing more NASA findings, but this time it not the organization but one of their leading scientists, Dr. Richard B. Hoover.? Dr. Hoover worked for NASA??s Marshall Space Flight Centre as an astrobiologist.? From what I have been able to gather, his primary research over the last 10 years has been to examine meteors for signs of life.? Meteors are basically small asteroids that crash to earth.? These meteors, which are typically rock-like, range in size from golf ball to a basket ball and usually have spent millions of years in the depths of space.
Dr. Hoover employed a number of methods to discover life in meteors that have crashed landed on our planet over the last 200 years.?? One of the methods involved extracting the various molecules that were contained in these space rocks.? If certain molecules or elements were present it would indicate that life had to exist at one time in the meteor.? If other molecules were absent then it would conclusively prove that the life signs could not originate from Earth.? This was an important step in ruling out the chance that a local biological entity might have contaminated the meteors after it crashed.? Because all life on Earth contains a handful of molecules or elements, an absence of them would indicate the life form did not originate on our own planet.
Dr. Hoover found that three separate meteors had all passed this extraterrestrial life test that he had used, and he is convinced that he has discovered fossil evidence of bacterial life.? He feels that he has conclusively proved that life does exist elsewhere in the universe.? He published his results in the Journal of Cosmology and has challenged over 5000 scientists in this field to prove otherwise.? So far no one has been able to disprove his findings that I could find.? It appears the ??Extraterrestrial Life Exists?? team just scored a major touchdown!