Today’s “Planet Earth Report” — ‘Pentagon’s Alien Alloys’, Real Danger of Fake News, Photos of the Week

 

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Sunday, December 24 2017: Today's links to headline stories from around the world on the threats, opportunities, and dangers facing our fragile planet –along with an occasional dash of humor, popular culture, and an intriguing conspiracy theory or two.

 

 Photos of the Week: A Train Wreck, Christmas Preparations, Big Surf in Portugal

 

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The photo above shows the work Eggs of Yodafoetus by French artist Alexandre Nicolas at the science fiction museum Maison d'Ailleurs (translated as "House of Elsewhere") during the exhibition entitled "I Am Your Father!" on December 21, 2017, in Yverdon-les-Bains, Switzerland. The museum presents the works of thirteen contemporary international artists who use the Star Wars myth to elicit different perspectives, including the relationship between reality and fiction or the making of myths and idols, until October 14, 2018.

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The Truth About Those 'Alien Alloys' in The New York Times' UFO Story

 

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On Saturday, Dec 23, LiveScience posted a report questioning if the government really stockpiling alien materials in a Nevada building that scientists cannot identify as reported in The New York Times

The New York Times story included three astounding revelations: 

1. Many high-ranking people in the federal government believe aliens have visited planet Earth.

2. Military pilots have recorded videos of UFOs with capabilities that seem to outstrip all known human aircraft, changing direction and accelerating in ways no fighter jet or helicopter could ever accomplish.

3. In a group of buildings in Las Vegas, the government stockpiles alloys and other materials believed to be associated with UFOs.

One of the authors of the Times report, Ralph Blumenthal, had this to say on MSNBC about the alloys: "They have, as we reported in the paper, some material from these objects that is being studied so that scientists can find what accounts for their amazing properties, this technology of these objects, whatever they are." When asked what the materials were, Blumenthal responded, "They don't know. They're studying it, but it's some kind of compound that they don't recognize."

 

The chemists and metallurgists Live Science spoke to – experts in identifying unusual alloys – don't buy it.

"I don't think it's plausible that there's any alloys that we can't identify," Richard Sachleben, a retired chemist and member of the American Chemical Society's panel of experts, told Live Science. "My opinion? That's quite impossible."

In an email to Live Science regarding these metal alloys, Blumenthal said, "We printed as much as we were able to verify. Can't go beyond that."

Read more at LiveScience about the plausibility of the US government being in possession of alien alloys. 

On Saturday, December 16 we posted the groundbreaking report published in the New York Times that in the $600 billion annual Defense Department budgets, $22 million spent on the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program that was almost impossible to find.

For years, the program investigated reports of unidentified flying objects, according to Defense Department officials, interviews with program participants and records obtained by The New York Times. It was run by a military intelligence official, Luis Elizondo, on the fifth floor of the Pentagon’s C Ring, deep within the building’s maze.

Luis Elizondo, who led the Pentagon's secret UFO program until October 2017 and Helene Cooper, who covers the Pentagon for the New York Times. Elizondo resigned in protest to excessive secrecy and internal opposition to the shadowy program. Listen to the interview here.

The Defense Department has never before acknowledged the existence of the program, which it says it shut down in 2012. But its backers say that, while the Pentagon ended funding for the effort at that time, the program remains in existence.

 

For the past five years, they say, officials with the program have continued to investigate episodes brought to them by service members, while also carrying out their other Defense Department duties.

 

The shadowy program — parts of it remain classified — began in 2007 says the New York Times, and initially it was largely funded at the request of Harry Reid, the Nevada Democrat who was the Senate majority leader at the time and who has long had an interest in space phenome Robert Bigelow, who is currently working with NASA to produce expandable craft for humans to use in space. Watch video below.

On CBS’s “60 Minutes” in May, Mr. Bigelow said he was “absolutely covinced” that aliens exist and that U.F.O.s have visited Earth.na. Most of the money went to an aerospace research company run by a billionaire entrepreneur and longtime friend of Mr. Reid’s,n

The Mystery of Maine’s Viking Penny

 

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The coin is the real deal, but how did it get all the way from Norway? The story that Guy Mellgren told about the curious silver coin began on the shores of Maine, where he met a stranger named Goddard. In the fall of 1956, Mellgren and Ed Runge, a pair of amateur archaeologists, had come in search of the most basic of coastal dig sites—a shell midden—when they happened onto a more unusual discovery.

Goddard had invited them to explore his shoreline property, and there, on a natural terrace about eight feet above the high tide line, they found stone chips, knives, and fire pits, along with an abundance of other unexpected artifacts. Each summer for many years, Mellgren and Runge returned to excavate the “Goddard Site,” with little help from professional archaeologists.

In the second summer, they produced the coin. For two decades, based on an analysis by a friend in a numismatics club, Mellgren described it as a coin minted in 12th-century England, and no one questioned that identification. The discovery should have been noteworthy—there’s no good explanation for how a medieval English coin could have crossed the Atlantic—but Mellgren never sought wider attention for the find. It was a curiosity to show off to friends and his son’s classmates, until, in 1978, a scrappy regional bulletin published a picture of the coin and an article titled, “Were the English the First to Discover America?”

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"The World of String Theory" –The Best Explanation for Everything in the Universe

 

 

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String theory is considered the leading “theory of everything,” but there’s still no empirical evidence for it.

It’s not easy being a “theory of everything.” A TOE has the very tough job of fitting gravity into the quantum laws of nature in such a way that, on large scales, gravity looks like curves in the fabric of space-time, as Albert Einstein described in his general theory of relativity.

Somehow, space-time curvature emerges as the collective effect of quantized units of gravitational energy—particles known as gravitons. But naïve attempts to calculate how gravitons interact result in nonsensical infinities, indicating the need for a deeper understanding of gravity.

String theory (or, more technically, M-theory) is often described as the leading candidate for the theory of everything in our universe. But there’s no empirical evidence for it, or for any alternative ideas about how gravity might unify with the rest of the fundamental forces. Why, then, is string/M-theory given the edge over the others?

The theory famously posits that gravitons, as well as electrons, photons, and everything else, are not point particles but rather imperceptibly tiny ribbons of energy, or “strings,” that vibrate in different ways. Interest in string theory soared in the mid-1980s, when physicists realized that it gave mathematically consistent descriptions of quantized gravity. But the five known versions of string theory were all “perturbative,” meaning they broke down in some regimes. Theorists could calculate what happens when two graviton strings collide at high energies, but not when there’s a confluence of gravitons extreme enough to form a black hole.

Then, in 1995, the physicist Edward Witten discovered the mother of all string theories. He found various indications that the perturbative string theories fit together into a coherent non-perturbative theory, which he dubbed M-theory.

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The Real-World Consequences of 'Fake News'

 

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“Once you’re uprooted from your sense of reality, that allows all sorts of other uprootings to take place.”

When Donald Trump’s press secretary was recently asked to comment on a rogues’ gallery of foreign leaders embracing her boss’s catchphrase of “fake news,” she essentially made the Las Vegas argument: What happens in the United States stays in the United States.

“I’m not going to speak to specifics of another country when I don’t know the details,” said Sarah Sanders. “The White House is concerned about false and inaccurate information being pushed out … to mislead the American people.”

One of the lessons of the past year, however, is that Vegas rules don’t apply to “fake news.” The phrase has escaped the confines of the American president’s Twitter feed. Bashar al-Assad and other Syrian officials have trotted out the expression to reject evidence that the government summarily executed prisoners and massacred civilians with chemical weapons.

The Chinese military just launched a website for the public to report “fake news,” including “malicious posts,” about the People’s Liberation Army, while the Russian Foreign Ministry now operates a webpage where international media reports that it considers problematic are slapped with a bright-red “FAKE” stamp.

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