“You and the Atom Bomb” by George Orwell

Orwell logically and accurately predicted the Cold War – and creeping tyranny.
-The Voice before the Void

“You and the Atom Bomb”

George Orwell

Considering how likely we all are to be blown to pieces by it within the next five years, the atomic bomb has not roused so much discussion as might have been expected. The newspapers have published numerous diagrams, not very helpful to the average man, of protons and neutrons doing their stuff, and there has been much reiteration of the useless statement that the bomb ‘ought to be put under international control.’ But curiously little has been said, at any rate in print, about the question that is of most urgent interest to all of us, namely: ‘How difficult are these things to manufacture?’ Continue reading

“Ortega hypothesis” from Wikipedia

“The matter is not settled.”

“Ortega hypothesis”

Wikipedia

The Ortega hypothesis holds that average or mediocre scientists contribute substantially to the advancement of science. According to this hypothesis, scientific progress occurs mainly by the accumulation of a mass of modest, narrowly specialized intellectual contributions. On this view, major breakthroughs draw heavily upon a large body of minor and little-known work, without which the major advances could not happen.

1. Citation research

The Ortega hypothesis is widely held, but a number of systematic studies of scientific citations have favored the opposing “Newton hypothesis,” which says that scientific progress is mostly the work of a relatively small number of great scientists (after Isaac Newton’s statement that he “stood on the shoulders of giants”). The most important papers Continue reading

“Why We Do Not Behave Like Human Beings” by Ralph Adams Cram, with Discussion

U.S. Inauguration Day:
“All the multiple manifestations of a free and democratic society fail of their predicted issue, and we find ourselves lapped in confusion and numb with disappointment and chagrin.”

“Why We Do Not Behave Like Human Beings”

Ralph Adams Cram

The Ancient doctrine of progressive evolution which became dominant during the last half of the nineteenth century, was, I suggest, next to the religious and philosophical dogmas of Dr. Calvin and the political and social doctrines of M. Rousseau, the most calamitous happening of the last millennium. In union with Protestantism and democracy, and apparently justified in its works by the amazing technological civilization fostered by coal, iron, steam and electricity, it is responsible for the present estate of society, from which there is no escape, it would seem, except through comprehensive calamity. Continue reading

“Acámbaro figures” from Wikipedia

acambaro-figures-mystery-figurines-mexico-guanajuato-museo-waldemar-julsrud-1 acambaro-figures-mystery-figurines-mexico-guanajuato-museo-waldemar-julsrud-2 acambaro-figures-mystery-figurines-mexico-guanajuato-museo-waldemar-julsrud-3 acambaro-figures-mystery-figurines-mexico-guanajuato-museo-waldemar-julsrud-4

Seems legit.

“Acámbaro figures”

Wikipedia

The Acámbaro figures are several thousand small ceramic figurines allegedly found by Waldemar Julsrud in July 1944, in the Mexican city of Acámbaro, Guanajuato. The figurines are said by some to resemble dinosaurs and are sometimes cited as anachronisms. Some young-Earth creationists have adduced the existence of figurines as credible evidence for the coexistence of dinosaurs and humans, in an attempt to cast doubt on scientific dating methods and potentially offer support for a literal interpretation of the Genesis creation narrative.

However, there is no known reliable evidence for the validity of the Acámbaro figures as actual ancient artifacts; and many have questioned the motives of those who argue for their validity.

1. History

The Acámbaro figures were uncovered by a German immigrant and hardware merchant named Waldemar Julsrud. Continue reading

“Body Ritual among the Nacirema” by Horace Mitchell Miner

Worth listening twice.
-The Voice before the Void

“Body Ritual among the Nacirema”

Horace Mitchell Miner

Most cultures exhibit a particular configuration or style. A single value or pattern of perceiving the world often leaves its stamp on several institutions in the society. Examples are “machismo” in Spanish-influenced cultures, “face” in Japanese culture, and “pollution by females” in some highland New Guinea cultures. Here Horace Miner demonstrates that “attitudes about the body” have a pervasive influence on many institutions in Nacirema society.

The anthropologist has become so familiar with the diversity of ways in which different people behave in similar situations that he is not apt to be surprised by even the most exotic customs. In fact, if all of the logically possible combinations of behavior have not been found somewhere in the world, he is apt to suspect that they must be present in some yet undescribed tribe. The point has, in fact, been expressed with respect to clan organization by Murdock. In this light, the magical beliefs and practices of the Nacirema present such unusual aspects that it seems desirable to describe them as an example of the extremes to which human behavior can go. Continue reading

“Sex and sexuality in speculative fiction” from Wikipedia

Some of the most challenging of ideas.
-The Voice before the Void

“Sex and sexuality in speculative fiction”

Wikipedia

The examples and perspective in this article may not represent a worldwide view of the subject.

Sexual themes are frequently used in science fiction or related genres. Such elements may include depictions of realistic sexual interactions in a science fictional setting, a protagonist with an alternative sexuality, or exploration of the varieties of sexual experience that deviate from the conventional.

1872 illustration by David Henry Friston in lesbian vampire story Carmilla by Sheridan Le Fanu 0Science fiction and fantasy have sometimes been more constrained than non-genre narrative forms in their depictions of sexuality and gender. However, speculative fiction also offers the freedom to imagine societies different from real-life cultures, making it an incisive tool to examine sexual bias and forcing the reader to reconsider his or her cultural assumptions. Continue reading

The 3 Classic UFO Encounters: Mantell Incident, Chiles-Whitted Encounter, and Gorman Dogfight

Mantell UFO Incident Anniversary Special:
Edward J. Ruppelt was the first head of Project Blue Book, an official U.S. Air Force investigation of UFOs. In his 1956 book The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects, Ruppelt identified three UFO encounters of 1948 as the “classic” encounters that convinced Air Force personnel “that UFOs were real” and energized the UFO phenomenon in the mainstream public consciousness.

As Ruppelt wrote:

“With the Soviets practically eliminated as a UFO source, the idea of interplanetary spaceships was becoming more popular. During 1948 the people in the Air Technical Intelligence Center (ATIC) were openly discussing the possibility of interplanetary visitors without others tapping their heads and looking smug. … ‘The Classics’ were three historic reports that were the highlights of 1948. They are called ‘The Classics,’ a name given them by the Project Blue Book staff, because: (1) they are classic examples of how the true facts of a UFO report can be twisted and warped by some writers to prove their point, (2) they are the most highly publicized reports of this early era of the UFO’s, and (3) they ‘proved’ to ATIC’s intelligence specialists that UFO’s were real.”

The three “classic” encounters were: the Mantell UFO incident of January 7 near Franklin, Kentucky; the Chiles-Whitted UFO encounter of July 24 near Montgomery, Alabama; and the Gorman UFO dogfight of October 1 in the skies over Fargo, North Dakota.
⁓The Voice before the Void

circa 1947 - US Air Force North American F-51D Mustang - North Dakota Air National Guard - World War II era fighter plane P-51

“Mantell UFO incident”

Wikipedia

The Mantell UFO incident was among the most publicized early UFO reports. The incident resulted in the crash and death of 25-year-old Kentucky Air National Guard pilot, Captain Thomas F. Mantell, on January 7, 1948 while in pursuit of a UFO.

Historian David M. Jacobs argues the Mantell case marked a sharp shift in both public and governmental perceptions of UFOs. Previously, the news media often treated UFO reports with a whimsical or glib attitude reserved for silly season news. Following Mantell’s death, however, Jacobs notes “the fact that a person had died in an encounter with an alleged flying saucer dramatically increased public concern about the phenomenon. Now a dramatic new prospect entered thought about UFOs: they might be not only extraterrestrial but potentially hostile as well.” Continue reading

“Bloop” from Wikipedia

Let’s say it was ice. But it was Cthulhu.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“Bloop”

Wikipedia

Bloop was an ultra-low-frequency and extremely powerful underwater sound detected by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in 1997. The sound was consistent with the noises generated by icequakes in large icebergs, or large icebergs scraping the ocean floor.

Analysis

The sound’s source was roughly triangulated to 50°S 100°W (a remote point in the south Pacific Ocean west of the southern tip of South America), Continue reading

Octavia E. Butler, Part 2: Notable Works

Extraordinary stories.
⁓The Voice before the Void

Octavia E. Butler, Part 2: Notable Works

compiled from Wikipedia

Lilith’s Brood

Lilith’s Brood is a series of three science fiction works by Octavia E. Butler. The three volumes (Dawn, Adulthood Rites, and Imago) were previously collected under the title of Xenogenesis; the collection was first published under the current title of Lilith’s Brood in 2000.

Synopsis

The first novel in the trilogy, Dawn, was published in 1987. The story begins after the United States and the Soviet Union obtained nuclear weapons and their actions resulted in a terrible nuclear war that left the earth uninhabitable. Humans are all but extinct. The few survivors are plucked from the surface of their dying world by an alien race, the oankali. The title character Lilith (a black human female) awakens from stasis centuries later on an oankali ship. She meets her saviors/captors and is repulsed by their alienness. The oankali don’t have eyes, or ears, or noses, but sensory tentacles over their entire bodies with which they can perceive the world much better than a human can. Stranger still, the oankali have three genders: male, female, and ooloi. All oankali have the ability to perceive biochemistry down to a genetic level, but the ooloi have the ability to directly manipulate genetic material. Ooloi can mutate and “evolve” any living thing they touch and build offspring gene by gene using the genetic material from their male and female mates. Despite their alienness, the ooloi are strangely alluring – sexually arousing even while being visually repulsive. Continue reading

“Talking with the Planets” by Nikola Tesla

Pop-culture cult-hero and legitimate science-hero Tesla reveals that he received electrical messages from, he believes, outer space.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“Talking with the Planets”

Nikola Tesla

Collier’s Weekly Editor’s Note.–Mr. Nikola Tesla has accomplished some marvellous results in electrical discoveries. Now, with the dawn of the new century, he announces an achievement which will amaze the entire universe, and which eclipses the wildest dream of the most visionary scientist. He has received communication, he asserts, from out the great void of space; a call from the inhabitants of Mars, or Venus, or some other sister planet! And, furthermore, noted scientists, like Sir Norman Lockyer are disposed to agree with Mr. Tesla in his startling deductions.

Mr. Tesla has not only discovered many important principles, but most of his inventions are in practical use; notably in the harnessing of the Titanic forces of Niagara Falls, and the discovery of a new light by means of a vacuum tube. He has, he declares, solved the problem of telegraphing without wires or artificial conductors of any sort, using the earth as his medium. By means of this principle he expects to be able to send messages under the ocean, and to any distance on the earth’s surface. Interplanetary communication has interested him for years, and he sees no reason why we should not soon be within talking distance of Mars or of all worlds in the solar system that may be tenanted by intelligent beings.

At the request of Collier’s Weekly, Mr. Tesla presents herewith a frank statement of what he expects to accomplish and how he hopes to establish communication with the planets.

1901 02Feb 09 Collier's Weekly Talking with the Planets by Nikola Tesla - Mr Tesla's ExperimentThe idea of communicating with the inhabitants of other worlds is an old one. But for ages it has been regarded merely as a poet’s dream, forever unrealizable. And yet, Continue reading

“Hajile” from Wikipedia

Rocket science!
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“Hajile”

Wikipedia

Hajile was an experimental project developed by the British Admiralty’s Directorate of Miscellaneous Weapons Development (DMWD) during the final years of the Second World War for slowing the landing of air-dropped supplies with rockets.

1. Development

The project was initiated by a request from the Army for a method of dropping heavy equipment and vehicles from aircraft at high speed, retaining the materiel’s terminal velocity for as long as possible in order to minimise drift and damage from anti-aircraft gun batteries. It was further required that the materiel suffer only minimal or no damage from landing, and once dropped be ready to deploy within minutes.

The high falling speed ruled out parachutes, so the DMWD came up with the idea of loading the drops onto a platform surrounded with cordite rockets. These would fire at the last instant to decelerate the materiel to a safe landing speed. The initial test produced the project’s codename; as the rockets’ exhaust engulfed the apparatus in a plume of smoke and fire, an attending officer remarked “Look at it! It’s Elijah in reverse,” referring to the biblical prophet’s ascension to Heaven in a “chariot of fire.”

2. Testing

Initial tests

Once testing began, a number of problems became apparent. Continue reading

“Introduction to M-theory” from Wikipedia

All is but vibration.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“Introduction to M-theory”

Wikipedia

This article is a non-technical introduction to the subject.

In non-technical terms, M-theory presents an idea about the basic substance of the universe. Continue reading

“Masters and Johnson” from Wikipedia

Science boldly marching.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“Masters and Johnson”

Wikipedia

The Masters and Johnson research team, composed of William H. Masters and Virginia E. Johnson, pioneered research into the nature of human sexual response and the diagnosis and treatment of sexual disorders and dysfunctions from 1957 until the 1990s.

The work of Masters and Johnson began in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Washington University in St. Louis and was continued at the independent not-for-profit research institution they founded in St. Louis in 1964, originally called the Reproductive Biology Research Foundation and renamed the Masters and Johnson Institute in 1978.

In the initial phase of Masters and Johnson’s studies, from 1957 until 1965, they recorded some of the first laboratory data on the anatomy and physiology of human sexual response based on direct observation of 382 women and 312 men in what they conservatively estimated to be “10,000 complete cycles of sexual response.” Continue reading

The Alien and the Human: 4 Novels by Stanisław Lem, from Wikipedia

Summarized narratives of four philosophical novels from the greatest science fiction writer. Spoilers.
⁓The Voice before the Void

Solaris

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Solaris is a 1961 Polish science fiction novel by Stanisław Lem. The book is about the ultimate inadequacy of communication between human and non-human species.

Solaris by Stanislaw Lem science fiction classic Polish sci-fi novel book cover first English edition

Continue reading

“Baltic Sea anomaly” from Wikipedia

Discovery of the Baltic Sea Anomaly Anniversary Special:
Love the weird.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“Baltic Sea anomaly”

Wikipedia

The Baltic Sea anomaly is a 60-meter circular rock-like formation on the floor of the Baltic Sea, discovered by Peter Lindberg, Dennis Åsberg, and their Swedish “Ocean X” diving team in June 2011. The team reported that the formation rests on a pillar and includes a structure similar in appearance to a staircase, leading to a dark hole. Continue reading

The Lost Continent of Mu from Wikipedia

Make up an extravagant, mysterious, elaborate idea, and it just might live for generations.
⁓The Voice before the Void

The Lost Continent of Mu

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Mu is the name of a fictional continent that was once believed to have existed in one of Earth’s oceans, but disappeared at the dawn of human history.

map from The Lost Continent of Mu by James Churchward 1927The concept and the name were proposed by 19th-century traveler and writer Augustus Le Plongeon, who claimed that several ancient civilizations, such as those of Egypt and Mesoamerica, were created by refugees from Mu—which he located in the Atlantic Ocean. This concept was popularized and expanded by James Churchward, who asserted that Mu was once located in the Pacific. Continue reading

2 Wrongs from Wikipedia

Science!
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“Wronger than wrong”

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Michael Shermer has described as “wronger than wrong” the mistake addressed in what he calls “Asimov’s axiom,” after the noted author Isaac Asimov, who discussed the issue in his book of essays, The Relativity of Wrong. A statement that equates two errors is “wronger than wrong” when one of the errors is clearly more wrong than the other. As Asimov put it:

“When people thought the earth was flat, they were wrong. When people thought the earth was spherical, they were wrong. But if you think that thinking the earth is spherical is just as wrong as thinking the earth is flat, then your view is wronger than both of them put together.” Continue reading