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Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Strange cigar-shaped object in our solar system ‘could be an alien probe’, scientists say

Last month, for the first time ever, astronomers spotted an object which had entered our Solar System from interstellar space – a strange ‘cigar’ up to 1,200ft long.
Now researchers from the Seti – Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence – project are to scan the object, to see if it’s actually an alien probe.
It’s certainly a mysterious asteroid – scientists initially thought it was a comet, but reclassified it.
Researchers from the Seti project Breakthrough Listen are to ‘listen’ to the asteroid using the Green Bank radio telescope in West Virginia.



A statement said, ‘Researchers working on long-distance space transportation have previously suggested that a cigar or needle shape is the most likely architecture for an interstellar spacecraft, since this would minimise friction and damage from interstellar gas and dust.
‘While a natural origin is more likely, there is currently no consensus on what that origin might have been, and Breakthrough Listen is well positioned to explore the possibility that Oumuamua could be an artifact.’
Scientists believe that it was travelling through space for millions of years before arriving near our Sun, according to results published in Nature.
On 19 October 2017, the Pan-STARRS 1 telescope in Hawai`i picked up a faint point of light – and scientists realised that its orbit showed that it came from the space between the stars.
At first scientists thought it was a comet, but it was reclassified as an asteroid and named 1I/2017 U1 (`Oumuamua).
Scientists suggest that Oumuamua is dense, possibly rocky or with high metal content, lacks significant amounts of water or ice, and that its surface is now dark and reddened due to the effects of irradiation from cosmic rays over millions of years.
It is estimated to be at least 400 metres long.
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To avoid confusion because the image above IS NOT a photograph, here is the actual photo

Raw image straight from ESO's Very Large Telescope. 1I/2017 U1 (‘Oumuamua), the interstellar asteroid, is the tiny dot at the centre, above the brighter star. Though actually faint, in this image the asteroid appears bright.
Crédit:
ESO/O.Hainaut

Nasa schedules press conference as it announces breakthrough in mission to find Earth-like planets


Nasa will be holding a press conference to reveal a major breakthrough from its planet-finding telescope, it has announced.
The Kepler space telescope is tasked with finding other planets — some of which exists in a ‘habitable zone’, meaning they could support life.
The press conference, which will be live-streamed on its agency’s website, will take place on Thursday (December 14).
Nasa has said little else about its latest discovery, although added it was made with the help of Google artificial intelligence.
It is thought the announcement will revolve around exoplanets – Earth-sized planets that orbit around their own stars.
These are considered the best hope of finding alien life.
Nasa said that four engineers and scientists would take part in the press conference, including Paul Hertz, who leads Nasa’s astrophysics division, a senior Google software engineer, and two scientists.
Nasa launched the Kepler telescope, named after a 17th century German mathematician, astronomer and astrologer, in 2009.
It is designed to survey a portion of the Milky Way to discover these Earth-size exoplanets.
It concluded its original mission in 2012 after finding a total of 2,337 exoplanets and 4,496 more ‘candidates’ in 30 habitable zones.
In 2014, Kepler began a new exoplanet-hunting mission, K2, which has confirmed the existence of 178 exoplanets to date..
K2 is also “introducing new research opportunities to study young stars, supernovae and other cosmic phenomena.”
In February, Nasa said it had found the “holy grail” – an entire solar system that could support life.

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Strange and Mysterious Beasts -completed



Just to update everyone.  The book is completed.  I am looking at a couple other subjects to include but as it stands, today, the manuscript is 293 pages and 91,034 words.  I haven't counted the photographs, maps and so on therefore I have no idea as to total!

I will not be making many friends. I have looked at various accounts of strange and mysterious beasts (wow, and that is the title of the book!) both old and new and whether I found any true mysteries as I had hoped you will have to wait and see.  However, I have reached a somewhat "controversial" conclusion about the shunka warak'in and that rather famous photograph plastered around the internet.

Although complete the book will not be published until January, 2018, well ahead of schedule and that is the joy of being your own publisher.

When the book is released a full list of contents will be published on this blog but the scope of the book is global!

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

super-size black hole harkening back to almost the dawn of creation.

http://wpri.com/2017/12/06/supermassive-black-hole-from-early-universe-farthest-ever-found/
This illustration provided by the Carnegie Institution for Science shows the most-distant supermassive black hole ever discovered, which is part of a quasar from just 690 million years after the Big Bang. (Robin Dienel/Carnegie Institution for Science via AP)
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — Astronomers have discovered a super-size black hole harkening back to almost the dawn of creation.
It’s the farthest black hole ever found.
A team led by the Carnegie Observatories‘ Eduardo Banados reported in the journal Nature on Wednesday that the black hole lies in a quasar dating to 690 million years after the Big Bang. That means the light from this quasar has been traveling our way for more than 13 billion years.
Banados said the quasar provides a unique baby picture of the universe, when it was just 5 percent of its current age.
It would be like seeing photos of a 50-year-old man when he was 2 1/2 years old, according to Banados.
“This discovery opens up an exciting new window to understand the early universe,” he said in an email from Pasadena, California.
Quasars are incredibly bright objects deep in the cosmos, powered by black holes devouring everything around them. That makes them perfect candidates for unraveling the mysteries of the earliest cosmic times.
The black hole in this newest, most distant quasar is 800 million times the mass of our sun.
Much bigger black holes are out there, but none so far away — at least among those found so far. These larger black holes have had more time to grow in the hearts of galaxies since the Big Bang, compared with the young one just observed.
“The new quasar is itself one of the first galaxies, and yet it already harbors a behemoth black hole as massive as others in the present-day universe,” co-author Xiaohui Fan of the University of Arizona’s Steward Observatory said in a statement.
Around the time of this newest quasar, the universe was emerging from a so-called Dark Ages. Stars and galaxies were first appearing and their radiation ionizing the surrounding hydrogen gas to illuminate the cosmos.
Banados suspects there are more examples like this out there, between 20 and 100.
“The newfound quasar is so luminous and evolved that I would be surprised if this was the first quasar ever formed,” Banados said. “The universe is enormous and searching for these very rare objects is like looking for the needle in the haystack.”
Only one other quasar has been found in this ultra-distant category, despite extensive scanning. This newest quasar beats that previous record-holder by about 60 million years.
Still on the lookout, astronomers are uncertain how close they’ll get to the actual beginning of time, 13.8 billion years ago.
Banados and his team used the Carnegie’s Magellan telescopes in Chile, supported by observatories in Hawaii, the American Southwest and the French Alps.

Ashamed to say that I missed this: Hope Ryden, Wildlife Protector and Photographer, Dies at 87

I have added a few photographs and apologies to any unidentified(c) holders

By SAM ROBERTSJUNE 26, 2017



Hope Ryden developed a passion for photography during breaks abroad as a Pan Am flight attendant in the 1950s. Credit Barbara Hill

Hope Ryden, whose lifelike photographs of North American beavers, coyotes, mustangs and other wildlife helped elevate them into poster animals for conservation campaigns, died on June 18 in Hyannis, Mass. She was 87.

The cause was complications of hip surgery, her brother, Ernest E. Ryden, said.

An English major who later developed a passion for photography during breaks abroad as a Pan Am flight attendant, Ms. Ryden, in 1961, joined Robert Drew & Associates, a noted documentary production company, where she and her colleagues were in the vanguard of cinéma vérité filmmaking.

By the early 1970s, she had become a full-time naturalist and animal-rights advocate, publishing books for adults and children lushly illustrated with her own photographs.




Her advocacy was credited with encouraging Congress to pass legislation in 1971 protecting the populations of wild horses and burros in the West; their numbers had dwindled to an estimated 17,000 in 1970 from a peak of two million. She also helped persuade New York’s Legislature to name the beaver the official state mammal in 1975.

Ms. Ryden wrote two dozen books on wildlife, including “America’s Last Wild Horses” (1970), “God’s Dog: A Celebration of the North American Coyote” (1975), “Bobcat Year” (1981) and “Wild Animals of America ABC” (1988).

In “Lily Pond: Four Years With a Family of Beavers” (1989), she described beavers’ sociable dam-building, kit-rearing and playful shoving matches, observed in Harriman State Park in Rockland County, N.Y.


Ms. Ryden wrote two dozen books on wildlife, including “America’s Last Wild Horses” (1970).

“Like Japanese wrestlers, the contenders would square off, grip one another’s loose ruff with their black satiny hands, and then drive forward with all their might until the stronger one propelled the weaker backward into deep water,” Ms. Ryden wrote.
 
“Breast-to-breast, cheek-to-cheek, heads tilted skyward, eyes rolled upward so that only membranes showed,” she continued, “their resemblance to samurai warriors was uncanny, both in bodily shape and in the martial strategies they employed. They inflicted no wounds; theirs was a contest of strength, not an outlet for vengeance.”
 
Hope Elaine Ryden was born on Aug. 1, 1929, in St. Paul, Minn. Her father, E. E. Ryden, was a Lutheran minister who helped unify four denominations to form the Lutheran Church of America. Her mother, the former Agnes Johnson, was an organist and pianist.

In addition to her brother, she is survived by her husband, John Miller.

After earning a bachelor’s degree in 1951 from the University of Iowa, she was a fashion model in addition to her work as a flight attendant. In 1958, she was a crew member aboard Pan Am’s inaugural trans-Atlantic jet passenger flight.
 
Ms. Ryden spent more than 25 years as a writer, director and producer of documentary films, beginning with Drew Associates and also working for ABC News.

Among her first documentaries was “Jane” (1962), which profiled the actress Jane Fonda at 25 as she prepared for her starring role in “The Fun Couple” on Broadway. The show flopped, but the documentary, produced by Ms. Ryden and directed by D. A. Pennebaker, became a classic of fly-on-the-wall filmmaking.

In 1965, she and her production team, including the cinematographer Abbot Mills, immersed themselves in the lives of Richard and Mildred Loving, the Virginia couple who challenged the state’s law against interracial marriage.

Photo


Ms. Ryden’s devotion to animal rights often extended to creatures that had been spurned as varmints by sheep ranchers, pet owners and backyard gardeners. Credit Penguin Random House

Ms. Loving, a black woman, and Mr. Loving, a white man, had been sentenced to a year in prison for violating an anti-miscegenation statute that was still valid in Virginia and two dozen other states. In 1967, the United States Supreme Court declared the Virginia law unconstitutional, voiding all race-based restrictions on marriage.

Ms. Ryden’s footage was not immediately screened publicly, but was incorporated into “The Loving Story,” an Emmy Award-winning documentary released in 2011, in which she also appeared.

Her other documentaries included one that followed two Peace Corps nurses in Malaya and another on a Boston man who saved some 9,000 animals in Suriname from starvation or drowning.

She devoted her later years to animal-rights advocacy, passionately objecting to the treatment of wild horses as livestock to be slaughtered wantonly.
 
In addition to her books, Ms. Ryden wrote for National Geographic, Audubon, Smithsonian and The New York Times Magazine.

Her commitment to animal rights earned her a place in the pantheon of scientific adventurers embraced admiringly by Kay Redfield Jamison, a psychiatrist and author, in her book “Exuberance: The Passion for Life” (2004).

Ms. Ryden’s devotion to the cause often extended to creatures that had been spurned as varmints by sheep ranchers, pet owners and backyard gardeners.

The resurgence of the Eastern coyote, for example, reminded her of “a sunflower that has penetrated a cement sidewalk,” she once wrote, adding that “the event suggests that man’s strangulation grip on nature may not yet be fatal.”
 
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A version of this article appears in print on June 27, 2017, on Page B12 of the New York edition with the headline: Hope Ryden, 87, a Photographer And Protector of Wildlife, Is Dead. Order Reprints| Today's Paper|Subscribe



Monday, 4 December 2017

Book Up-Date

Just a quick up-date as I try to finish off the new book that could appear in January, 2018 rather than April.  So far it runs to 216 pages and 65,861 words.  I will give a little idea what is in the book in a few days.

As the A4 regular format (for Black Tower Books) and a second smaller format version seems popular this book will follow High Strangeness/UFO Contact and its example.

Strange & Mysterious Beasts will be the A4 version
The preliminary cover for the smaller format is below and you will note the title is Mysterious & Strange Beasts since, unfortunately, two books with the same title but different formats cannot be done.

So hold your breaths.....or buy some of my other books....?

Saturday, 2 December 2017

The Devil’s Footprints... of Japan


This was first reported on in English, as far as I am aware, by Bruce Swancer, who lives in Japan and reported on the case for Mysterious Universe website on the 11th June, 2015.

"There are undoubtedly creatures lurking out there in the wildernesses of the world for which we currently have no record or knowledge of. On occasion these mystery animals are glimpsed, sighted, and even sometimes photographed, most often in a way that is not conclusive to demonstrating their actual existence. And on other occasions still there is more bizarre and indeed sparse evidence left behind. A tuft of fur, an audio recording, perhaps even a track; tantalizing pieces left behind by something that may be out there continuing to elude us. In these cases all we can do is marvel and wonder at what sort of beast could have left such mysterious tidbits in its wake, and hope that more will be forthcoming to help shed light on the mystery. However, in some cases this mystery can be frustratingly evasive. For one remote coastal village in Japan, a mystery creature passed through one evening, leaving behind a line of tracks that to this day has managed to prove to be a perplexing enigma before going on its way to seemingly disappear forever.
"In August of 1992, in the coastal village of Kuji in Iwate prefecture, Japan, a couple went out to their bean field one morning and found an unusual sight. A path of strange tracks meandered through the field, over some grass, and continued on to the underbrush. The tracks were like nothing anyone had ever seen before in all of their years living in the area. These footprints were 22cm long by 15cm wide, with four forward pointing toes and one toe seeming to point in the opposite direction from the others. The odd tracks went on for over 20 meters before disappearing into the forest bordering the field.
"Word of the tracks spread and they seemed to baffle everyone who saw them. No one had ever seen anything like them before... the Japan Monkey Center (was contacted) about the tracks, and the center informed them that they did not seem to be from any known primate. The tracks were ultimately a complete enigma.
"The tracks became quite a phenomenon at the time, and although there were never any sightings of the mystery creature itself, it became known by locals as the Gatagon. The tracks were seriously investigated by Japanese cryptozoologists, and plaster casts were even allegedly made although these have since been lost. Analyses of the trackway came to the conclusion that the gait of the prints seemed to point to a bipedal creature of some sort. Known wildlife of the area was also ruled out, indeed the tracks did not seem to be those of any animal known to inhabit Japan. Superstitious locals suggested that they were the tracks of a spirit of a demon of some sort, and UFO enthusiasts were quick to label them as the tracks of some visitor not of this world.
"Considering that this is the only case of strange tracks being found in the area, and no similar tracks were ever found again, the Gatagon trackway of 1992 merely leaves us scratching our heads. The possibility that the tracks were a hoax is often put forward and although this is most certainly possible it seems like a lot of trouble to go out in the middle of the night to this secluded farm just for the purpose of spooking an old couple living alone out in the mountains in the middle of nowhere.
"Another possibility is that the tracks were from some kind of primate, despite claims from experts to the contrary. It seems worth noting that the backward facing toe apparent on the tracks seems to point to an opposable toe, which might fit in with a primate, especially one that is highly arboreal. Orangutans are arboreal, with opposable toes that display a surprisingly wide range of movement, and their feet look in some ways similar to something that could perhaps leave the Gatagon tracks.
"Could the prints have been left by some kind of arboreal primate or an escaped exotic animal like an orangutan? There is at least one account that I know of concerning orangutans escaping into the wilds of Japan, so the idea is not completely far fetched. The remote location and arboreal nature of the creature suggested by the morphology of the tracks could explain why no more tracks were found. A tropical primate like an orangutan would also possibly not survive the harsh winters of Japan, which could explain why the tracks were only found in the summer of 1992, and never again. Still others say these tracks are of a completely undiscovered hominid or primate of some sort. However, if it were a whole undiscovered species, it seems odd that only one set of tracks would ever be found.
"Whatever the explanation may be, the strange case of the Gatagon has gained quite a bit of notoriety in the locale. To this day a Gatagon festival is help in the area every August, and one can find Gatagon memorabilia such as souvenirs, as well as signs indicating the presence of the Gatagon and even an illustrated trackway through a shopping area, imprinted into the floor tiles. It’s actually very impressive how popular it has become for a cryptid only known through one trackway of unusual footprints.
"...I’m not so sure that we can ever hope for an answer to this bizarre mystery, but it is obvious that area locals will not forget the strange incident for quite some time".

So what might have made the Devil's footprints?  A pity that the casts were lost but then, it seems, cryptozoologists do this sort of thing on a regular basis. Often I wonder whether this 'loss' occurs when the casts provide clear identification of an animal that would kill the "mystery".

As of 1 April 2012, 5% of the total land area of the prefecture was designated as Natural Parks, namely Towada-Hachimantai and Rikuchū Kaigan National Parks; Kurikoma and  Hayachine Quasi-National Parks; and GoyōzanHanamaki OnsenkyōKuji-HiraniwaMurone KōgenOritsume BasenkyōSotoyama-Hayasaka, and Yuda Onsenkyō Prefectural Natural Parks.

There is a neat little map showing what you might find in the area:
There is a very interesting story about how the area got its name "Iwate", and the most well known is the tale Oni no tegata, which is associated with the Mitsuishi or "Three Rocks" Shrine in Morioka. These rocks are said to have been thrown down into Morioka by an eruption of Mt. Iwate. According to the legend, there was once a devil who often tormented and harassed the local people. When the people prayed to the spirits of Mitsuishi for protection, the devil was immediately shackled to these rocks and forced to make a promise never to trouble the people again. As a seal of his oath, the devil made a hand-print on one of the rocks- giving rise to the name Iwate, literally "rock hand". Even now after a rainfall it is said that the devil's hand print can still be seen there.

Was this "devil" a mischievous primate that was caught and chained up? And I like the additional note that "after a rainfall it is said that the devil's hand print can still be seen there"...meaning "the devil" still visits?

But what about the animals known to wander the area.  There is the Asiatic Black bear (Ursus thibetanus japonicus) lives on three main islands -Honshu, Shikoku and Kyushu.
Could the tracks have been from one of these?
Above: the Asiatic Black bear -this one at Darjeeling Zoo, India.

below: Asiatic Black bear paw-not bearing much resemblance to the mystery prints as they did not show signs of claws and the claws are very noticeable. 
The Japanese serow (Capricornis crispus) is a Japanese caprine (goat-antelope)and is a symbol of Japan and wide-spread.  Again, in snow that is melting you might get odd tracks but nothing similar to the image of the Gatagon print.

The Japanese macaque (Macaca fuscata) is also known as the snow monkey, and is a terrestrial Old World monkey species that is native to Japan. They get their name "snow monkey" because they live in areas where snow covers the ground for months each year – and no other non-human primate is more northern-living, nor lives in a colder climate. There are an estimated 150,000 snow monkey living in Japan, a tenfold increase from the World War II era. They range from semi-tropical regions of islands south of Kyushu to the forests and mountains of northern Honshu. Adult males are 88 to 95 centimeters tall and weigh 10 to 14 kilograms. Females are 79 to 84 centimeters from head to foot long and weigh between 8 and 10 kilograms. Males have a different shaped face and bright red testicles. Adults males are as strong as a man.

Snow monkeys sometimes raid farms, eating things like soybeans, watermelons, mushrooms, sweet potatoes, potatoes and mushrooms. Each year snow monkeys destroys about 5,000 hectares of farmland, costing farmers $6 million. The total damage caused by monkeys in 2006 was estimated at ¥1.63 billion. Looking at the macaque in Japan is a very long and involved process and there is macaque-human confrontation and more.  But they are in Japan in numbers.

Here is a very strong possible contender for causing the said foot-prints.
Hakuba Wildlife offers these tracks. The first is fox, the next macaque and the final ones are from a hare.
Now look at a drawing of the Gatagon print:



There is, of course, a problem with sizes given. In The Japanese Macaques the various lengths and widths of macaque feet are given from various provinces and these range from 11-17 cms in length to 3-4 cms in width.  The problem lies in what we are told.

The cryptozoologists naturally had the evidence in a plaster cast.  They lost that and so I have to query just how accurate the measurements given were and there is no information as the whether the ground was wet, therefore muddy and slippery meaning that this could account for a larger size in the track. 

However, there are a number of other factors and since this has now (from one set of tracks only)  become a well known "cryptid" there is a thin line between what is fantasy and what is fact.

In Strange & Mysterious Beasts I will be considering the evidence available as well as looking at those escaped orang-utans.