Wil je een videoclip bekijken en stoort het X-files-deuntje jou daarbij. Schakel het deuntje gewoon uit door in deze kolon, helemaal beneden op de 2 witte balkjes in het blauwe cirkeltje te klikken, tot een pijltje verschijnt. Veel kijk- en luisterplezier en bedankt voor jouw bezoek.
The purpose of this blog is the creation of an open, international, independent and free forum, where every UFO-researcher can publish the results of his/her research. The languagues, used for this blog, are Dutch, English and French.You can find the articles of a collegue by selecting his category. Each author stays resposable for the continue of his articles. As blogmaster I have the right to refuse an addition or an article, when it attacks other collegues or UFO-groupes.
Deze blog is opgedragen aan mijn overleden echtgenote Lucienne.
In 2012 verloor ze haar moedige strijd tegen kanker!
In 2011 startte ik deze blog, omdat ik niet mocht stoppen met mijn UFO-onderzoek.
UFO'S - MET HET LAATSTE NIEUWS OVER UFO'S BOVEN BELGIË EN IN ANDERE LANDEN...
UFO's in België en de rest van de wereld In België heb je vooral BUFON of het Belgisch UFO-Netwerk, dat zich met UFO's bezighoudt. BEZOEK DUS ZEKER VOOR ALLE OBJECTIEVE INFORMATIE ww.ufo.be.
Verder heb je ook het Belgisch-Ufo-meldpunt en Caelestia, die prachtig, doch ZEER kritisch werk leveren, ja soms zelfs héél sceptisch...
Voor Nederland kan je de mooie site www.ufowijzer.nl bezoeken van Paul Harmans. Een mooie site met veel informatie en artikels.
MUFON of het Mutual UFO Network Inc is een Amerikaanse UFO-vereniging met afdelingen in alle USA-staten en diverse landen.
MUFON's mission is the analytical and scientific investigation of the UFO- Phenomenon for the benefit of humanity...
Je kan ook hun site bekijken onder www.mufon.com.
Ze geven een maandeliiks tijdschrift uit, namelijk The MUFON UFO-Journal. Since 02/01/2013 is Pieter not only president (=voorzitter) of BUFON, but also National Director MUFON / Flanders and the Netherlands. We work together with the French MUFON Reseau MUFON/EUROP.
UFO hunter claims proof of giant alien ship that crashed 'millions of years ago'
UFO hunter claims proof of giant alien ship that crashed 'millions of years ago'
File photo: An oblique view of a massive rift in the Antarctic Peninsula's Larsen C ice shelf is shown in this November 10, 2016 photo taken by scientists on NASA's IceBridge mission in Antarctica. (Courtesy John Sonntag/NASA/Handout via REUTERS)
A Russian conspiracy theorist claims these images show the wreckage of a huge alien spaceship which crash-landed in Antarctica millions of years ago.
Valentin Degteryov posted images of the UFO, which he claims has gone undiscovered because it is covered with snow, after spotting the dark shape on Google Earth.
The UFO hunter, from Nizhny Tagil in Western Russia, says the object is 1,900-feet long.
He believes the wreckage has only become visible now because of ice melting on the earth’s most southerly continent.
A video posted by Degteryov has attracted hundreds of thousands of hits since it was uploaded yesterday.
But many dismissed his theories, and said the shape was just a rocky outcrop on a barren mountain.
Valentin listed the coordinates of the object as 73~13’55.09″S,71~57’12.98″W.
It’s not the first bizarre UFO theory to emerge based on satellite images.
Australian government reviews funding for UFO group
Australian government reviews funding for UFO group
If Australian UFO enthusiasts hope to retain government money, they may need more proof of terrestrial activity.
The nation's Social Services Minister, Christian Porter, has described having "a beam me up, Scotty" moment after learning his department had approved grants to the Tuggerah Lakes UFO Group.
The group has received A$6,000 (£3,400; $4,500) since 2013 under funding to support volunteers with disabilities.
Mr Porter has halted the payments to seek "more detail" about the group.
"I'm sure they are very nice people and there are lots of volunteers who are getting something out of it, but looking at it from my perspective, representing taxpayers, it did not seem to pass a common sense test," Mr Porter said on the Australian Broadcasting Corp.
Funds on hold
The New South Wales group has more than 800 members on Facebook, where it says it shares "news, information, support friends and network in UFO matters as well as related topics".
When asked about apparent sightings in the region, Mr Porter said: "You tend to find a lot of sightings when you are funding UFO-sighting groups, I tend to think. But we will see what they are about."
The Tuggerah Lakes UFO Group has been contacted for comment.
A person identified as a spokeswoman told the Central Coast Gosford Express Advocate: "We have elderly people we pick up and take to meetings, where we need projectors and microphones so everyone can see and hear what is going on."
Australian government investigating taxpayer funding of UFO group
Australian government investigating taxpayer funding of UFO group
Australia's social services minister on Friday launched an urgent investigation to determine how a UFO group received thousands of dollars in taxpayers' funds.
Christian Porter described having a "beam me up, Scotty" moment when he discovered that his department approved nearly AUD6,000 (£3,400) of grants for the Tuggerah Lakes UFO Group on the New South Wales central coast since 2013.
"I'm sure they're very nice people and there are lots of volunteers who are getting something out of it, but looking at it from my perspective, representing taxpayers, it didn't seem to pass a common sense test," Mr Porter told ABC News.
"I asked the department to hold the transmission of funds until they could give me a little more detail around what the group does."
The funding, exposed by national news, was initially provided by the Labor government to assist with the cost of transporting volunteers with a disability.
Asked about the Central Coast's reputation as a UFO sightings hot spot, boasting the most apparent sightings of UFOs in the country, the minister said that "you tend to find a lot of sightings when you're funding UFO sighting groups."
The department approved AUD2,645 for the UFO group in the 2017 volunteer grant program, according to official records seen by ABC News.
Mr Porter said that the money transfer has been currently put on hold until he is given more detail about what the group does specifically.
Tuggerah Lakes UFO Group received AUD2,994 in 2013 under Labour government.
The Tuggerah Lakes UFO Group has over a thousand followers on Facebook where it says that its mission is to "share information on UFO and related topics, support and encourage likeminded people and encourage UFO Disclosure."
The Telegraph has contacted the UFO group for comment.
AMAZING! British Bus Driver In Exmouth Videotapes Triangular UFO
AMAZING! British Bus Driver In Exmouth Videotapes Triangular UFO
Three lights in triangular formation were reportedly spotted and recorded on video slowly crossing across the sky above Exmouth in East Devon, England. The British witness, who is a bus driver, noticed the strange lights at 9:41 p.m. on April 17, 2017, while on a break.
The unnamed witness was talking on the phone to his best man for the upcoming wedding while walking near the leisure center where their bus stopped. When he happened to look over in the river, the witness then saw the three lights forming a triangular formation while rotating on its axis and wobbling slightly.
He then felt that the triangular object was unusual. The witness told his mate that he would call back and started recording the lights using his phone. However, the witness was having a difficult time focusing on the formation due to the street lights. To get a better view, the witness decided to go closer to the river.
The witness managed to record almost a 3-minute video initially. He also took seven pictures and another 41-second video. He filed a report to MUFON along with the video of the incident and some pictures. MUFON filed the report as Case 832412 and can be accessed in their witness reporting database. The case is still under investigation led by British MUFON field investigator Karl Webb.
This year will mark the 50th anniversary of one of the best documented UFO incidents in history, and the community of Shag Harbour applied for a government grant to fund a large celebration. Alas, the Canadian government axed their request which has left organisers scrambling.
At around 11:20 pm on October 4th, 1967, the small fishing village of Shag Harbour in Nova Scotia, Canada was awakened to a loud whistling noise followed by the sound of a crash. A dozen of witnesses saw a bright illuminated object crash into the harbour, and watched for nearly 30 minutes as a bright round shape floated upon the water’s surface before it sank under the depths and vanished. Contacting the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), the local detachment sent several officers to the location. Fearing an aeroplane crash, they contacted the Coastguard and the Navy. Local fishing boats went out into the bay to look for survivors, but nothing was ever found and no aircraft were reported missing.
The Shag Harbour UFO Incident is one of the best documented UFO incidents in history. Investigations were conducted by the RCMP, the Canadian Navy and Air force, as well as the US led Condon Committee. A media frenzy followed the event, and the Navy even spent several days after the event combing the sea floor looking for the object. Whatever the people of Shag Harbour saw that night, it has never been identified.
Canada is turning 150 years old this year, and to generate excitement, the Canadian government created a grant program called “Canada 150” to help fund major celebrations around the nation. The Shag Harbour Incident is celebrating its 50th anniversary, and the community wanted to do something special.
The society’s vice-president, Brock Zinck, said in an interview,
We can’t get a lot of love here in Shag Harbour; they won’t even give us a [highway] sign…Maybe the government doesn’t want to know we are there.
In regards to the loss of the grant money,
We were excited…It does throw a wrench in our preparations. We had big plans to take it to the next level.
The Shag Harbour Incident Society applied for $20,000 to put on a major event, including a conference with UFO experts and speakers. Many of these speakers had to be flown in from across Canada and the from the United States. The event would have brought significant tourism to the quiet village of 500 people, and the economic benefits would have been significant.
Photo inside the Shag Harbour Incident Center. Photo: Tina Comeau, Shelburne County Coastgaurd
UFO researcher and science writer Chris Rutkowski was slated as one of this year’s guests. Author of several books on UFOs, his latest release, “When They Appeared” came out only two weeks ago. In an exclusive interview with Mysterious Universe, in regards to the benefits of such an event, he stated,
It would have been quite appropriate for a Canada 150 event because it is one of the best-known Canadian [UFO] cases, and one that attracts visitors to Nova Scotia. It certainly would be at least as important as a local community event involving mainstream or more traditional historical projects like museums and artwork.
The internet and its host of conspiracy theorists has taken this denial of funding as another aspect of the “truth embargo” regarding the UFO phenomenon. Perhaps the government is hiding something, and the less attention the Shag Harbour event gets, the better. Most people believe that other cultural events simply took precedence, and the Canada 150 grant committee simply had to make cuts to certain requests.
However, the UFO community in Canada has not taken this news sitting down. Podcasters and UFO enthusiasts around the nation are continuing to bring awareness to the event. Tickets are still for sale, and the society plans to host the event anyway, just on a more grassroots level. Event planners are hoping for the best, and praying for a miracle. The event is slated for September 29th to October 1st 2017, with a celebration party on October 4th.
If you’re one of the hundreds, if not thousands, of people who have seen a triangular UFO over the past two decades or so, now you can see what its original design diagrams look like, courtesy of a viewer (Darian Calhoun) of the Talk is Cheap video podcast and Corey Goode, an unusual fellow who tweeted a link to the podcast and his followers took care of spreading it on the Internet. Where did the diagrams come from? The original patent US 20060145019 A1 for a triangular spacecraft that became the TR-3B!
A spacecraft having a triangular hull with vertical electrostatic line charges on each corner that produce a horizontal electric field parallel to the sides of the hull. This field, interacting with a plane wave emitted by antennas on the side of the hull, generates a force per volume combining both lift and propulsion.
Does that sound like what you saw? The patent, filed on December 20, 2004, by inventor John St. Clair, gets mathematical fairly quickly, but the drawings and abstract make it clear that this is an entirely new spacecraft with a futuristic propulsion system.
This invention relates to a spacecraft propulsion system utilizing a rotating octagon of trapezoidal electrically charged flat panels to create an electric dipole moment that generates lift on the hull. On the interior side of each panel are electrostatically charged rods which produce a planar electric field that emerges from holes in the panel to form an ellipsoidal potential energy bubble on the outside of the hull. The rotating hull dipole moment generates a magnetic moment which, together with the magnetic field gradient developed by the rotating electric field of the electrostatically charged panels, produces said lift force. The potential energy field is enhanced by using a double cladding of hull material with different ranges of permittivities.
Throw in some comments like “This combination of fields produces a spacetime curvature as determined by Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity” and it’s no wonder the military keeps it so well hidden … except for this patent that’s been hiding in plain sight. It’s not clear how “Darian Calhoun” stumbled upon it, but kudos to Talk is Cheap for bringing it out into the open where Corey Goode picked it up.
For those not familiar with him, his Sphere Being Alliancebiography describes Corey Goode as “an intuitive empath” (IE) who was recruited at age 6 for a MILAB program (indoctrination for black ops program) where he eventually supported a “rotating Earth Delegate Seat (shared by secret earth government groups) in a “human-type” ET SuperFederation Council.”
He claims to have worked in a “Secret Space Program” interfacing with “non-terrestrial beings.” Goode now works in the information technology and communications industry as well as continuing to use his IE ability to communicate with the Blue Avians (of the Sphere Being Alliance) and “interface with multiple ET Federations and Councils” to “deliver important messages to humanity.”
Like the TR-3B patent? There’s obviously more to this. Iit seems strange that the patent just “suddenly” was discovered. Will someone from the military or the government issue any comments, confirmations or disclaimers? They haven’t so far. For now, we’ll just have to wait for more from Corey Goode.
This week we look at the implications of the coming automated industrial revolution before venturing into the classrooms of Remote Viewing trainers and their students. On our Plus+ extension we return to the…
Social Services Minister Christian Porter, whose department dishes out the volunteer grants, is in disbelief.
"It was a bit of a 'beam me up Scotty' moment when I found out about it," he told ABC TV on Friday.
"I'm sure they're very nice people and there are lots of volunteers who are getting something out of it but looking at it from my perspective - representing taxpayers - it didn't seem to me to pass a commonsense test."
Mr Porter has requested his department hold any funds until he gets more information about exactly what the group does.
The group, which has more than 800 members on Facebook, is said to share news and information of UFO matters and support friends and networks.
NSW's Central Coast has long been a hotspot for UFO sightings in Australia.
"It's very hard to unpack cause and effect; you tend to find a lot of sightings when you're funding UFO sighting groups.
"But we'll see what they're all about."
The minister's office has been advised the group was previously funded under the Labor government in 2013 and that some of this grant goes to the transport costs of volunteers with a disability.
As we perhaps draw thrillingly/terrifyingly closer to discovering life elsewhere in the universe, the chorus of people warning us to be careful what we wish for is growing louder. Most famously, renowned physicist Stephen Hawking has argued for hitting the brakes, reiterating as recently as 2016 his concern about seeking alien contact in his comments about possibly life on Gliese 832c: "One day, we might receive a signal from a planet like this. But we should be wary of answering back. Meeting an advanced civilization could be like Native Americans encountering Columbus. That didn't turn out so well." For example, European germs were deadly for the natives and some fear that could happen to us.
Astrobiologist Lewis Dartnell, however, disagrees with all of this. From his perspective, things are considerably less scary than many think. In an article recently published on Literary Hub, he offers a host of comfortingly solid arguments for why we should stop worrying.
1. Why Aliens Wouldn’t Want to Enslave Us or Breed with Us
Sure, humans have repeatedly enslaved other humans throughout our history, but we’re not that advanced. Our collective sense of guilt may be making us fear that someone else will do to us what we’ve done to others. Dartnell says we’re looking at this wrong.
There’s an increasing concern that we’ll soon find ourselves competing for jobs with robots. After all, they may offer a more efficient form of labor than us humans. Dartnell points out that any civilization advanced enough to traverse space and arrive here would have no need for slaves. He writes, “Constructing robots, or other forms of automation or mechanization, would be a far more effective solution for labor—people are feeble in comparison, harder to fix, and need to be fed.”
As far as wanting us for breeding purposes, Dartnell’s points out how perfectly in sync two organisms’ chemistry has to be to allow mating — in fact, such mismatches are what separates one terrestrial species from another. For reproduction to be possible, here’s a short list of some of the things aliens would have to share with us. The same:
• polymer, or RNA, we use for storing genetic information
• A, C, G, and T genetic letters we use
• coding system that that translates the letters into proteins
• chromosomal organizational structure
Given how rare a workable match is even here on earth, Dartnell concludes it’s “overwhelmingly improbable that an alien life form from a completely different evolutionary lineage would be compatible.”
2. Why Aliens Wouldn’t Want to Eat Us
As food, it’s likely we wouldn’t agree with them. In order for an alien to derive any nutrition from us, they’d have to be biochemically similar. They’d have to have enzymes that allow them to successfully break down and make use of the polymers of amino acids, polymers of bases and sugars, and membranes of phospholipids from which we’re made.
Dartnell points that while there’s a chance they’d be made of the same stuff as us — amino acids, sugars and fatty molecules have all been found in meteorites , suggesting they’re common across the universe — there’s an interesting additional wrinkle: Enantiomers. Simple organic molecules can occur in mirror images of each other. As Dartnell says, it’s like how your two hands are the same, but can’t be placed atop each other in alignment. All life on our planet has “left-handed” amino acids and “right-handed” sugars, and any creatures looking to us for sustenance would need to have the same, even if they do share our basic microbiology.
Unless we’re just really tasty.
3. Why Aliens Wouldn’t Come Here to Steal Our Water
Simply put, there’s plenty of water everywhere, water that would be easier to acquire than the stuff we have. A thirsty alien visiting our solar system would probably head straight for Jupiter’s moon Europa, which holds more liquid water beneath its frozen surface than we have here. There also appears to be lots of water on other icy moons and even in comets and asteroids, the likely sources of our own H2O. It would be easier to suck it off one of those smaller bodies than from a planet like ours with so much gravity trying to hold our water in place.
4.Why Aliens Wouldn’t Come Here for Some Other Raw Material
Again, asteroids seem like a more logical place to get any of the building materials we have here such as iron, nickel, platinum, tungsten and gold. The lack of gravity would again make them easier to extract from a smaller body. In fact, there are companies on earth planning asteroid mining operations.
What Dartnell suggests may make us a bit more special in this regard is plate tectonics, which hasn’t been seen many other places so far, and could theoretically produce something we’re unaware of that an alien might want. Maybe.
5. Why Aliens Wouldn’t Want to Colonize and Live Here
As an astrobiologist, Dartnell admits that earth hosts a variety of conditions that make it especially suitable for supporting complex life, and that it could therefore be attractive to an extraterrestrial species looking for a new home.
However, he points out that any civilization capable of traversing the mind-boggling expanses of space is probably more than capable of artificially managing, or “bioengineering,” the environment of any planet to make it habitable. If this is so, why would aliens bother with having to eradicate the billions of organisms here that are unlikely to line up with an alien’s own unique biochemistry? It would be quicker and easier to simply design and build a compatible biosphere somewhere free of bothersome inhabitants.
So Why Would Aliens Come Here at All?
From Close Encounters of the Third Kind
Dartnell suggests that if aliens do appear, it may simply be that they want to meet us. “I suspect that if aliens did come to Earth, it would be as researchers: biologists, anthropologists, linguists, keen to understand the peculiar workings of life on Earth, to meet humanity and learn of our art, music, culture, languages, philosophies and religions” he writes.
And Where Are They, Anyway?
Dartnell asserts that since we’ve been sending signals out into the void for nearly a century — and recently, intentionally doing so — yet no one has responded, one of two things are most likely:
1. Either no one’s out there, and we’re alone. 2. There’s so much intelligent life in the universe that we’re not that special.
Either possibility packs an emotional wallop.
For many of us, the thought of aliens visitation began with movies like Close Encounters of the Third Kind that had us scanning the night skies with a hopeful sense of expectation. Lately, however, some have been shifting our gazes downward with a fearful sort of, “nope, nothing here to look at, keep flying by” attitude. Darnell’s argument makes so much sense, though, that it feels safe once again to look back upward in excitement at that sky full of promising stars.
An Earth-sized world that swings around a star in the constellation of Aquarius has become a priority in the search for extraterrestrial life after scientists found that an atmosphere could have enveloped the planet for billions of years.
The planet is one of seven circling a small and feeble star called Trappist-1 which astronomers reported in a wave of excitement in February this year. The rocky world lies in the habitable zone around its parent star, where temperatures should allow for free-running water, but that would count for little if the planet has no atmosphere.
“Since the discovery of the seven planets there has been a great deal of interest in using telescopes such as the upcoming James Webb Space Telescope to determine whether these planets have atmospheres, and if so, what their composition is like,” said Manasvi Lingam at Harvard University. “It is fair to say that the presence of an atmosphere is perceived as one of the requirements for the habitability of a planet.”
If Earth serves as a good example, the evolution of complex and ultimately intelligent life calls for an atmosphere that not only contains the right blend of gases, but which persists for hundreds of millions, or preferably billions, of years.
With Nasa’s James Webb Space Telescope not due to launch until late 2018, the scientists turned to computer models to find out whether the Trappist-1 planets could have long-lived atmospheres. From details of the Trappist-1 system, which lies 39 light years distant, they worked out the intensity of the stellar wind – the rush of high energy particles streaming out of the star – and the effect it would have on the seven orbiting planets.
Atmospheres that exist around planets soon after they form can gradually be stripped away if they are battered by a strong stellar wind from their parent star. The model showed that the stellar wind from Trappist-1 was much faster and far more dense than the solar wind that reaches Earth. On Trappist-1b, the first planet from the star, the stellar wind was 1,000 to 10,000 times stronger than the solar wind that strikes Earth.
The intensity of the solar wind destroyed the atmospheres of the inner Trappist-1 planets within millions of years. But planets further out fared better, their atmospheres surviving for billions of years, the models found. According to the scientists, while the seventh planet around the star is considered too cold for liquid water to exist on the surface, the sixth planet, Trappist-1g, appears to be the most likely home for life in the Trappist-1 system.
In a report submitted to a leading journal, the scientists write: “The outer planets of the Trappist-1 system, which are expected to retain their atmospheres for longer periods, may therefore support more complex biospheres eventually.”
Amaury Triaud, an exoplanet researcher at Cambridge University who helped discover the Trappist-1 planets said: “The work is quite optimistic that the planets could retain an atmosphere, which is nice to hear. It prepares us for what we might or might not see. Maybe we’ll find atmospheres that are denser and denser for the outer planets.”
“Having too much of an atmosphere containing a lot of hydrogen would be detrimental for life, but if you strip everything down to the surface, it’s also no longer habitable. The moon is the same distance from the sun as the Earth and it has absolutely no signs of life,” he added.
Astronomers have now detected about 3,600 planets beyond the solar system. The Trappist-1 planets orbit incredibly close to their parent, an ultracool dwarf star the size of Jupiter that shines 2,000 times less brightly than the sun. Mercury, the innermost planet in our solar system, is six times farther from the sun than the outermost seventh planet is from Trappist-1.
All seven of the planets have Earth-like dimensions, ranging from 25% smaller to 10% larger than our home planet. Most, if not all, will be “tidally locked”, meaning they show only one face to their star. Such worlds would be defined by stark divisions, with one half in constant daylight, and the other in permanent darkness.
“We don’t really know how life started,” Triaud said. “Some people say life was born at the bottom of the ocean. If that is the case and there is a lot of water on the Trappist-1 planets, then it’s good news: it doesn’t matter which side it is on, because at the bottom of the ocean you have no light at all.
“But if life is born on the surface then the UV irradiation the planets receive is important. It drives chemical reactions to begin with, but it can become an issue for DNA mutations, and whether they were on the day or the night side would matter. There really are a lot of elements,” he said.
A mysterious object appeared to have hovered past the International Space Station, according to new video footage from UFO researchers.
SecureTeam 10, who in recent days has posted videos about a supposed alien tank and a cigar-shaped disc over Paris, claims that a disc-shaped object whizzed past the ISS “at a very high rate of speed.”
NASA, which did not respond specifically to the latest video, has often said the objects are “distortions in a lens” and do not signify the presence of extraterrestrial life.
Tyler Glockner, the voice heard on the video from SecureTeam 10, said the object in the video moved “as if it knew the camera was watching.”
If Proxima b has an Earth-like atmosphere, researchers found, it might just be a comfortable place to live. A (probably) rocky planet located a measly 25 trillion miles away, Proxima b lies squarely in the “habitable zone” of its star—a tempestuous red dwarf called Proxima Centauri—meaning it might be able to support liquid water, and even life. The latter is still a big question mark, but as we wait for more data, a UK-based team of scientists is trying to figure out whether Proxima b might have the stable climate and reasonable temperatures necessary for life.
So the researchers turned to the Met Office Unified Model, one of the foremost models for studying the climate here on Earth. The team modified this model for extraterrestrial forecasting by considering two potential atmospheres: an Earth-like one rich in nitrogen and oxygen, and a simple nitrogen atmosphere containing trace amounts of CO2. Then they ran their simulations considering a few hypothetical orbits for Proxima b, including one in which the planet is tidally locked, with a permanent dayside and a permanent nightside, and an orbit similar to that of Mercury. The researchers also considered differences in the star’s light output, which produces more infrared and less visible light than our Sun.
Overall, the findings published this week in Astronomy and Astrophysics were promising. In both tidally locked and Mercury-like orbits, the planet’s hypothetical climate featured stable surface temperatures conducive to liquid water, supporting and extending the results of previous studies. Although not all parts of Proxima b were habitable in all simulations (the night side in the tidally locked scenario hovered around a nice, balmy -200 degrees Fahrenheit), the models pointed to enough warmish regions to makeour neighboring exoplanet a very acceptable interstellar vacation spot.
Caveats abound, however. First and foremost, these models assume Proxima bhas an atmosphere, which might not be the case at all. In fact, as another recent modeling study demonstrated, planets in tight orbits around red dwarf stars might be getting lashed by an insane number of high-energy solar flares, stripping their atmospheres faster than they can be replenished. No atmosphere, no rivers, lakes or oceans, no life as we know it.
The model has other limitations, too—for instance, it didn’t consider what the surface of Proxima b is like at all. As we know from studying Earth’s climate, the mixture of land, water, and ice coating a planet has an enormous impact on its temperature.
Avi Loeb, chair of Harvard’s astronomy department and an advisor for Breakthrough Starshot, an effort to send an interstellar probe to the Alpha Centauri system (which includes Proxima Centauri), called the study’s results “encouraging” but agreed that the results are “predicated on an atmosphere being present which remains to be seen.” The way forward, Loeb told Gizmodo, is to figure out whether Proxima b actually has an atmosphere by observing it, and if so, to figure out what it’s made of.
Both questions require more powerful telescopes than our current state of the art, but the technology is on its way. In the meantime, studies like this inject hope in the quest to find habitable worlds beyond Earth, serving to inspire scientists and motivate further investigations. Maybe we’ll even make that interstellar voyage to settle the matter once and for all.
Cover Art on UFO Sightings Desk Reference, a composite drawing by Susann Snyder based on reported UFO shapes seen by people who made reports. The new book by Cheryl Costa and Linda Miller Costa is drawing media and researcher attention
CREDIT SUSANN SNYDER
We’ve all gazed into the sky to look at the moon, maybe a shooting star, and possibly something we couldn’t quite explain. Cheryl Costa has been following U-F-O sightings for years and writes a column for the New Times and a blog. In 2015 She and her wife Linda Miller Costa cast an eye on actual reports
“We figured let’s crunch the data for New York and it suddenly started revealing patterns that none of the UFO researchers in New York had ever seen before.”
And then they decided to check out the entire nation…using that big data approach.
“I started downloading the National UFO Reporting Center databases for all 50 states.”
Cheryl Costa adds more on what she sees as the value of the information they've collected.
You might notice she’s not trying to convince you.
(CLICK TO ENLARGE) -- Yearly data shows reports of UFO sightings increased over the past 15 years.
CREDIT COSTA AND COSTA "UFO SIGHTINGS DESK REFERENCE"
“We couldn’t set out to prove alien life exists. But people have been telling us for a number of years, ‘UFO sightings, they’ve been on the decline since the 1980s.’ Well, we set out to prove that wrong.”
Her book, UFO Sightings Desk Reference 2001-2015, has break downs of the reported sightings from every state, down to the county level. The information came from the national organizations that collect sighting reports, the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON) and the National UFO Reporting Center (NUFORC).
What they found – 121-thousand reported sightings from 2000 to 2015 …5200-plus in New York, and on the increase.
SIGHTINGS BY-THE-NUMBERS FOR NEW YORK STATE AND LOCAL COUNTIES
5141 - Total reported sightings in New York State 2001-2015
161 - Total reported sightings in Onondaga County 2001-2015
105 - Total reported sightings in Oneida County 2001-2015
31 - Total reported sightings in Onondaga County 2001-2015
554 - Total reported sightings in Suffolk County 2001-2015 (most in state)
657- Number of reports seeing a Circle Shape (highest shape frequency in state reports)
But Costa says the data revealed other findings…like clusters around the Saint Lawrence and Hudson rivers.
“Those two waterways alone, on a first appearance, it doesn’t look that way, but when you add them up, they are 51% of New York State’s sightings and people have always been saying these things hang out around water for some reason.”
Frequency of shapes people reported seeing in Onondaga County.
CREDIT COSTA AND COSTA "UFO SIGHTINGS DESK REFERENCE"
I talked with Cheryl up on Onondaga Hill, thinking less light pollution = more sightings. But she said the bulk come from urban areas.
“It raises the question, ‘Are we seeing more UFOs in the city because there’s more people there to see them, or is it because there’s more people there and the UFOs are studying the people.”
Cheryl Costa shares more on her findings and how sightings are investigated.
Costa emphasizes her book UFO Sightings Desk Reference – mostly charts and graphs of data, state by state – down to county level – does not prove existence. That’s a job, she says for scientists, academics, maybe government, even though the Air force stopped investigating reports in 1968. The book does group sightings by form, a disc, cigar-shaped …and Costa says the truth is in the shapes and the 6-7 percent that can’t be explained away.
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Central Coast UFO group funding mystery: Federal minister calls for urgent review
Central Coast UFO group funding mystery: Federal minister calls for urgent review
Matt Taylor, Central Coast Gosford Express Advocate
A DISBELIEVING federal minister has launched a probe into an X-File mystery of why taxpayers have forked out thousands of dollars for a Central Coast UFO group to conduct its out-of-this-world activities.
Minister for Social Services Christian Porter this week called for an urgent review into his department’s decision to approve a grant of $2645 for Tuggerah Lakes UFO group to “do their important work”, after it had received $2994 in 2013.
“The minister’s office has been advised that this group was previously funded under the Labor government in 2013 and that some of this grant goes to the transport costs of volunteers with a disability,” a spokeswoman for Mr Porter told the Express Advocate.
“However, the minister is somewhat surprised at the nature of this particular volunteer group being funded through this grant program and he has instructed his department to hold the transmission of funds pending a re-examination of the application.”
A Tuggerah Lakes UFO group spokeswoman said the close encounter with a funding investigation was “disappointing”, but “it’s not the end of the world”.
Asked what the group — which has more than 800 Facebook members — used the funding for, she said: “We have elderly people we pick up and take to meetings, where we need projectors and microphones so everyone can see and hear what’s going on.
“We also have outings out at night checking for unusual activity.”
The Department of Social Services says on its website that “the funding will help (the UFO group’s) volunteers to do their important work”.
“By sharing their experiences and knowledge within the community, the volunteers foster social inclusion and enrich the local region,” it said.
The Coast has long been a hot spot for UFO sightings. The 1994 Gosford UFO incident, where business owners, policemen and retired academics witnessed a large object beaming “four or five” bright lights into Brisbane Water, made national headlines.
The Tuggerah Lakes UFO group spokeswoman says the truth is out there for the “many” locals who have since spotted unusual activity in the region.
“It’s always hard to get a definitive photo,” she said. “Often people find it easier to speak about their experiences.”
Quizzed on how the public reacted to the UFO group, she said: “It’s getting better, but some people think we’re all crazy. We actually get people come to our meetings from all walks of life.
“We’re all open-minded to aliens being out there. When you read and hear the stories (of UFO sightings), anything’s possible.”
GOSFORD 1994 X-FILES STILL A MYSTERY
IT’S one of Australia’s most intriguing UFO cases.
On New Year’s Eve 1994, police switchboards lit up with reports of an unidentified illuminated object over Brisbane Water.
Witnesses reported seeing a “huge ball-shaped object with bright lights on the bottom” where it appeared to be sucking up water.
Some believed the “four or five” beams of light were turning the water to steam, while others described the water frothing.
Reports came in that night from respected members of the community including police officers, doctors, teachers, nurses and lawyers. Police were sent out to investigate, but they soon found themselves chasing a “strange metallic craft” back and forth across the bay.
Officers said that when they came within 50m of the UFO, the “craft would turn off its own lights and shoot up skywards, out of sight”.
Residents also reported their pets acting strangely, with dogs howling for no apparent reason.
Towns people including business owners, policemen and retired academics talk about the 1994 Gosford UFO incident.
UFO researcher Moira McGhee investigated the eyewitness reports, putting in calls to possible launching sites for planes and helicopters. But her inquiries brought no evidence on the UFO’s origin.
Ceres appears especially bright because Dawn captured the imagery while the dwarf planet was at "opposition" — that is, when the spacecraft was directly between Ceres and the sun.
"Based on data from ground-based telescopes and spacecraft that previously viewed planetary bodies at opposition, scientists correctly predicted that Ceres would appear brighter from this opposition configuration," NASA officials wrote in a description of the new video, which was released Tuesday (May 16). [More NASA photos of the dwarf planet Ceres]
"This increase in brightness, or 'surge,' relates the size of the grains of material on the surface, as well as the porosity of those materials," they added.
Dawn took the photos that make up the video on April 29, from a distance of about 12,000 miles (19,300 kilometers). Mission team members shifted the spacecraft into a special orbit to view the 56-mile-wide (90 km) Occator Crater from this opposition perspective, NASA officials said.
Occator stands out clearly in the video: It harbors the brightest of Ceres' mysterious bright spots, which scientists think reveal the presence of some type of salt on the body's surface.
The $467 million Dawn mission launched in September 2007 to study Vesta and Ceres, the two largest objects in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Dawn circled Vesta from July 2011 through September 2012 and reached Ceres in March 2015. In the process, it became the first spacecraft ever to orbit two different bodies beyond the Earth-moon system.
"Dawn's observations of Ceres during its more than two years there cover a broader range of illumination angles than almost any body in the solar system," NASA officials wrote in the same statement. "This provides scientists with an opportunity to gain new insights into the surface properties. They are currently analyzing the new data."
Last month, Dawn lost the third of its four orientation-maintaining reaction wheels. But the failure has not unduly affected the probe or its mission, NASA officials said; Dawn's handlers are used to orienting the spacecraft with its hydrazine thrusters and will continue to do so into the future.
How Do Scientists Search for Extraterrestrial Life?
How Do Scientists Search for Extraterrestrial Life?
By Mindy Weisberger, Senior Writer
Human civilizations dating back thousands of years left behind structures and records documenting their studies of the stars as they sought to chart the seasons, help travelers find their way and interpret the world around them. Stargazers among the ancient Greeks, Maya, Egyptians, Middle Easterners and Asians likely also pondered if there were other planets like ours among those distant points of light — and if so, what might live there.
Over the last century, science-fiction storytellers have used books, movies, comics and television to speculate at great length about contact with creatures from other worlds — to our benefit and our detriment. These creatures have been imagined as sometimes benevolent and sometimes bloodthirsty, and they have come in a wide range of shapes and sizes — from inquisitive "little green men" to human-parasitizing, chest-bursting Xenomorphs in the "Alien" movie franchise.
Present-day astronomers have likewise been probing this question, using sophisticated equipment to listen farther and peer deeper into the universe than ever before, to find evidence of our cosmic neighbors. From detecting unexplained radio signals to investigating the atmospheres and liquid water on distant worlds — how are scientists searching for signs of extraterrestrial life? [Greetings, Earthlings! 8 Ways Aliens Could Contact Us]
For an alien-seeking scientist, "life" means any living form — including microbes, astronomer Mercedes López-Morales, at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts, told Live Science.
But even the smallest microbe living on a distant exoplanet — a planet orbiting a star other than our sun — could still broadcast a chemical signal that would be visible to sensitive telescopes, in the form of atmospheric gases that probably wouldn't be there in the absence of life, López-Morales explained.
"Life affects the atmosphere of a planet," she said. "You have gases that are only there because they are constantly being replenished by something — otherwise, they would react with other gases and disappear. For that gas or that molecule to be in the atmosphere of a planet, it must have some mechanism that is continuously producing it," López-Morales said.
One of the atmospheric gases astronomers are searching for in exoplanets is oxygen, which is plentiful in Earth's atmosphere because it is continuously being replaced by plants through photosynthesis.
However, the presence of unusual atmospheric gases doesn't necessarily mean that something living is generating them, López-Morales added.
"Sulfur molecules, for example, could come from active volcanoes," she explained. "For oxygen, there are at least two or three ways to produce it that involve irradiation in the ultraviolet light coming from stars. But we know that oxygen appeared on Earth because life appeared on Earth," she said.
Of course, even if these chemical signatures can be detected, there's no way to tell what forms of life are producing the signal, Sara Seager, an astrophysicist and planetary scientist at MIT, told Live Science in an email.
And what type of exoplanet is a good candidate for life? Our familiarity with our own world nudges efforts toward those that resemble Earth — "a rocky planet with a thin atmosphere with surface water," Seager said.
"Right now, we can tell — for some planets — if they are rocky, based on planet size and planet mass, which gives average density. But we can't yet tell if a planet has liquid water," she said. [A Field Guide to Alien Planets]
Location, location, location
What else makes an exoplanet a promising candidate? "Anything close by," López-Morales told Live Science. For an astronomer, that means less than 30 light-years away, which would enable humans to actually visit the world where life was detected, she said. (One light-year is about 5.9 trillion miles, or 9.5 trillion kilometers.)
"Eventually, I hope humans will have the technology to get that far, within a reasonable number of years. So for us, the holy grail is to find something within 30 light-years of Earth," she said.
Scientists are also investigating worlds within our own solar system — such as the Saturn moons Titan and Enceladus — which are close enough to be visited by probes that can collect samples and capture images. Several NASA missions are also looking closely at Mars, which once had abundant liquid water on its surface, and where brackish water still flows today, researchers announced in 2015.
"Humans are creatures that want to know — where we came from, where we're going, how we appeared on Earth," López-Morales said. "Our research might start providing answers to that." [FAQ: Significance of Liquid Water on Mars]
But scientists aren't just looking for signs of extraterrestrial life — they're also listening for them.
For more than two decades, SETI, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Institute, has conducted research to understand the origins of life in the universe, and to detect and analyze evidence of life emanating from places other than Earth. This effort includes investigations of microbial life within our solar system, such as on the surface of Mars or under the icy crust of Jupiter's moon Europa. SETI scientists are also monitoring the universe for signals in light or radio wavelengths that originate far away and could be signs of technologically advanced alien life, SETI explains on its website.
At SETI, astronomers use the Allen Telescope Array (ATA) of 42 radio antennas to "listen" for signals over a range of radio frequencies, tuned to "hear" the regions around 20,000 red dwarf stars (a broad term describing stars smaller than our sun and in a certain spectral range) that are closest to Earth, Seth Shostak, a senior astronomer at the SETI Institute, told Live Science.
Investigating red dwarf stars for life-supporting worlds is a relatively recent development at SETI. In the past, stars that were more like our own sun — a yellow dwarf — were thought to be the most likely candidates to host planets harboring life. But over the last few decades, astronomers have determined that many red dwarf stars host planets that could be at the right distance from the star to be habitable, according to Shostak.
"That's something we didn't know when we started," he said.
And SETI radio-signal monitoring is accelerating, as telescopes become more sensitive and technological developments increase the number of radio channels and locations in the sky that can be studied at once, Shostak explained.
"Until now, the total number of star systems that have been looked at carefully over a wide range of the radio dial is measured in the thousands. In the next 20 years, with new technology, you could increase that number to maybe a million," he said. [4 Places Where Alien Life May Lurk in the Solar System]
An alien megastructure?
Shostak also reviews images of alleged alien spacecraft sent to him by hopeful photographers, he told Live Science. A photographer himself, Shostak said that he invariably identifies all the purported "UFO" sightings as tricks of the light or internal reflections in the camera lens — much to the dismay of the observers.
"That never makes them happy," he said.
But even among astronomers, unusual observations can sometimes turn the conversation toward the likelihood of alien technology.
In 2015, when scientists discovered the star KIC 8462852 — also known as Tabby's Star, located more than 1,400 light-years from Earth — they were puzzled by repeated and significant dips in its brightness that took place over several years. During the dips, the star dimmed by as much as 22 percent, far more than could be caused by an orbiting planet passing in front of the star, Shostak said.
In short, the star was "really weird," Tabetha Boyajian, lead author of a study about the star and a researcher at Yale University, told the Atlantic in October of that year.
One possible explanation suggested by some experts was an "alien megastructure," an enormous array orbiting KIC 8462852, built by a hypothetical alien civilization advanced enough to possess technology capable of drawing power from a star. Such a construct could — in theory — periodically block visible light and make the star appear dramatically dimmer when seen from Earth, Space.com reported in 2015.
However, there is no data to actively support this hypothesis. In fact, on all fronts, evidence of any extraterrestrial presence — within our own solar system or beyond its boundaries — remains elusive. But scientists seeking life on other worlds are undaunted by the ongoing challenge, Shostak told Live Science.
"The search should continue, simply because it's a very interesting question," he said.
"Is Earth special? Is it the only place around with intelligent life? That would be remarkable — but it's just as remarkable to find you're not the only kid on the block. That's something that would change our view of ourselves forever," he said.
MESA, Arizona — Since the dawn of the space age NASA and other agencies have spent billions of dollars to reconnoiter Mars — assailing it with spacecraft flybys, photo-snapping orbiters and landers nose-diving onto its surface. The odds are good, many scientists say, for the Red Planet being an extraterrestrial address for alien life — good enough to sustain decades' worth of landing very expensive robots to ping it with radar, zap it with lasers, trundle across its terrain and scoop up its dirt. Yet against all odds (and researchers' hopes for a watershed discovery), Mars remains a poker-faced world that holds its cards tight. No convincing signs of life have emerged. But astrobiologists continue to, quite literally, chip away at finding the truth.
As the search becomes more heated (some would say more desperate), scientists are entertaining an ever-increasing number of possible explanations for Martian biology as a no-show. For example, could there be a "cover up" whereby the harsh Martian environment somehow obliterates all biosignatures—all signs of past or present life? Or perhaps life there is just so alien its biosignatures are simply unrecognizable to us, hidden in plain view.
Of course, the perplexing quest to find life on Mars may have a simple solution: It's not there, and never was. But as the proceedings of this year's Astrobiology Science Conference held here in April made clear, life-seeking scientists are not giving up yet. Instead, they are getting more creative, proposing new strategies and technologies to shape the next generation of Mars exploration.
A SLUMBERING BIOSPHERE?
Talk about looking for Martians and you inevitably talk about water, the almost-magical liquid that sustains all life on Earth and seems to have served as an indispensable kick-starter for biology in our planet's deepest past. "It all started out with ‘follow the water;' not necessarily ‘follow the life'…but ‘follow one of the basic requirements for living systems,'" says Arizona State University geologist Jack Farmer, referring to NASA's oft-repeated mantra for Martian exploration. "There are many indications of water on Mars in the past, perhaps reservoirs of water in the near subsurface as well," he says. "But what is the quality of that water? Is it really salty—too salty for life?"
Without liquid water, Farmer points out, one would naively think organisms cannot function. The reality may be more complex: on Earth, some resilient organisms such as tardigrades can enter a profound, almost indefinite state of hibernation when deprived of moisture, preserving their desiccated tissues but neither growing nor reproducing. It is possible, Farmer says, that Martian microbes could spend most of their time as inert spores "waiting for something good to happen," only springing to life given the right and very rare conditions. Certain varieties of Earthly "extremophiles"—microbes that live at extremes of temperature, pressure, salinity and so on—exhibit similar behavior.
Farmer says there is as yet no general consensus about the best way to go about life detection on the Red Planet. This is due in no small part to the runaway pace of progress in biotechnology, which has led to innovations such as chemistry labs shrunken down to fit on a computer chip. These technologies "have been revolutionizing the medical field, and have now started to enter into concepts for life detection on Mars," he explains. Things move so fast that today's best technology for finding Martian biology may be tomorrow's laughably obsolete dead-end.
But no matter how sophisticated a lab on a chip might be, it won't deliver results if it is not sent to the right place. Farmer suspects that seriously seeking traces of life requires deep drilling on Mars. "I basically think we're going to have to gain access to the subsurface and look for the fossil record," he explains. But discovering a clear, unambiguous fossil biosignature on Mars would also raise a red flag. "We probably would approach the future of Mars exploration—particularly accessing habitable zones of liquid water in the deep subsurface—more cautiously, because life could still be there. So planetary protection would be taken very seriously," he says. ("Planetary protection" is the term scientists commonly use for precautions to minimize the chance of biological contamination between worlds. Think of it not so much in terms of bug-eyed aliens running rampant on Earth but of billion-dollar robots finding "Martians" that prove to only be hardy bacterial hitchhikers imported from our own world).
THE MARTIAN UNDERGROUND
Like-minded about deep diving on Mars is Penelope Boston, director of the NASA Astrobiology Institute at the agency's Ames Research Center. "That's my bias," she says. "Given Mars' current state, with all the challenging surface manifestations of dryness, radiation and little atmosphere, the best hope for life still extant on Mars is subsurface." The subsurface, she says, might also offer better chances of preserving past life—that is, of fossils, even if only of single-celled organisms.
The planet's depths hold the potential for harboring liquid water under certain circumstances, Boston thinks. But how far down might that water be? "I suspect it's pretty far…and how we get to it, that's a whole other kettle of fish," she says. Over the years scientists have estimated the average depth of the planet's possible liquid reservoirs as anywhere between tens of meters to kilometers. Then again, recent observations from orbiters have revealed mysterious dark streaks that seasonally flow down the sunlit sides of some Martian hillsides and craters. These "recurring slope lineae" could conceivably be brines of liquid water fed by aquifers very close to the surface, some researchers say.
Such lingering uncertainties emerge from the indirect and scattered nature of our studies of Mars, and ensure that any argument for life there is based solely on circumstantial information, Boston notes. "Each individual piece of evidence is, on its own merits, weak," she says. Only by amassing a diverse suite of independent measurements can a well-built case for life on Mars be made, she says: "In my opinion, we can't make that strong case unless we push to do all of those measurements on exactly the same precise spot. We don't do that because it's very difficult, but it's something to aspire to." Despite decades of sending costly hardware to Mars, Boston believes that what is still missing is a sense of harmony between instruments, allowing them to work together to support a search for alien life. "I think that the precise requirements of a really robust claim of life at the microscopic scale require us to push on further," she notes.
Attendees at the astrobiology meeting in Arizona showcased an assortment of high-tech devices for next-generation exploration, ranging from microfluidic "life analyzers" and integrated nucleic acid extractors for studying "Martian metagenomics" to exquisitely sensitive, miniaturized organic chemistry labs for spotting tantalizing carbon compounds and minerals at microscopic scales. Missing from the mix, however, was any solid consensus on how these and other tools could all work together to provide a slam-dunk detection of life on Mars.
WHAT'S THE WEATHER?
Some scientists contend a new kind of focus is sorely needed. Perhaps the pathway to finding any Martians lurking in the planet's nooks and crannies is to learn where exactly on Mars those potentially life-nurturing niches exist, and how they change over the course of days, months and years rather than over eons of geologic time. That is, to find homes for extant life on Mars today, researchers should probably not just be studying the planet's long-term climate but also its day-to-day weather.
"Right now we're sort of shifting gears. Once you've found out that a planet is habitable, then the next question is, ‘Was there life?'—so it's a completely different ball game," says Nathalie Cabrol, director of the Carl Sagan Center at the SETI Institute. "On Mars you cannot look for life with the tools that have been looking for habitability of that planet," she argues. "We should be looking for habitats and not habitable environments. You are dealing on Mars with what I call extremophile extreme environments on steroids," she says, "and you don't look for microbial life with telescopes from Mars orbit."
Cabrol advocates making an unprecedentedly robust, high-resolution study of environmental variability on Mars by peppering its surface with weather stations. Sooner or later telltale signs of the possible whereabouts of extant life may emerge from the resulting torrents of data. "Today's environment on that planet is a reflection of something in the past," she says, and planting numbers of automated stations on Mars does not need to be expensive. "This is of interest not only to astrobiology but to human exploration. The first thing you want to know is what the weather is like," she says, adding, "Right now we're not equipped to do this and I'm not saying it's going to be easy to look for extant life. I'm not saying what we're doing now is wrong. Whatever we put on the ground we are learning. But there is variability on Mars. You go up or down one meter, things change. Habitats at a microscopic level can happen at the scale of a slope. It can happen at the scale of a rock!"
MIGHT WE BE MARTIANS?
"I think Mars offers us the highest chance of finding life" somewhere beyond Earth, says Dirk Schulze-Makuch, a planetary scientist at Technical University of Berlin in Germany. But, like Boston and others, he maintains confirmation of life will only come from multiple "layers of proof" that have to be consistent with one another. "We really need at least four different kinds of methods," he says. "My point is that there's no slam-dunk. We need several instruments. You have to build a case, and right now we can do better…unless the biosignature through a microscope is waving hello." The trouble, he adds, is that too-stringent planetary protection rules may preclude getting the evidence necessary for that proof. "We have the technology to go to places where there could be life," he says. "But we can't go to certain areas on Mars, like recurring slope lineae or…under patches of ice. It seems to be ridiculous."
Indeed, Schulze-Makuch speculates planetary protection may be a lost cause for Mars—or at least a misguided endeavor. It may even be that any Martian microbes are actually Earth's long-lost cousins. Or, conversely, Mars rather than Earth is really the sole site of biogenesis in our solar system. Both scenarios are possible, considering that single-celled organisms can likely survive world-shattering impacts and the subsequent interplanetary voyages if embedded in ejected shards of rock that could fall elsewhere as meteorites. Innumerable impacts of this scale battered the solar system billions of years ago, potentially blasting biological material between neighboring worlds. On balance, Schulze-Makuch says, "the chances are higher that we are Martians."
I'm sure by now we've all heard the refrain: "The Higgs boson creates mass." And if you haven't heard it, well, now you have. This simple statement seems to pack a wallop of a concept: that every pound and gram of your body, down at the submicroscopic scale, is due to this invisible Higgs goo that fills up the universe.
Hence the nickname "The God Particle," which has frustratingly entered the public consciousness. Without the Higgs, there wouldn't be mass. Without the Higgs, all the physics that we know and love would come screeching to a halt, particles flying off at the speed of light, hardly ever having the chance to interact. [What Is the 'God Particle'? Higgs Boson Explained (Video)]
A massive problem
The Higgs boson does indeed play a role in mass, but it's much less significant than you might think. Zooming in on you, we find that your body is made of organs, which are made of tissues, which are made of cells, which are made of molecules, which are made of atoms. Atoms have a nucleus surrounded by a cloud of electrons, and those electrons are incredibly wimpy — so insignificant that for most mass calculations they can simply be ignored.
Digging into the atomic nucleus, we find protons and neutrons, the meat and potatoes of the atom. But they too are made of even-smaller components — the quarks. Each proton and neutron is composed of a triplet of quarks tightly bound together by gluons, the carriers of the strong nuclear force.
And here's where it gets really weird. If you added up the masses of the three quarks that comprise each proton or neutron, you would only end up with around 1 percent of the total mass.
That's right. The total mass of all the fundamental parts of you (electrons and quarks) is just a laughably tiny part of your weight. Instead, most of the blame for tipping the scales is the energy of the interactions between your parts. Those gluons holding the protons and neutrons together are massless, but the very fact that they're doing their job — that is, gluing — gives rise to a binding energy.
It costs energy to rip apart a proton or neutron, and since we live in a universe where E=mc2, energy is mass (the c for the speed of light just tells us how much energy is in a bit of mass; the fundamental concept in that famous relation is that mass and energy are totally equivalent).
Hence, most of your mass is really the binding energy of your protons and neutrons. And none of that has anything to do with the Higgs boson.
The missing mass
But the impressive-sounding statements about the fundamental connection between the Higgs and mass aren't all subatomic smoke and mirrors. The Higgs does play a (small) role here: It's the explanation for the mass of your parts, the electrons and quarks themselves. Even though they aren't very heavy, they're not entirely massless, and they can thank the Higgs for that.
And the nature of that mass-making interaction? Often, the Higgs field is likened to a rich and creamy soup, or maybe a dense and heavy fog, or even a vat of thick and goopy honey. Whatever the poor choice of metaphorical words, the analogy is clear: the Higgs field permeates the cosmos, impeding the free travel of carefree electrons and quarks.[Watch: The Mystery of Mass]
I'm not the biggest fan of these viscous comparisons. They make it seem like movement is the key to the relationship between the Higgs and particle mass. As if the only way that an electron can acquire mass is by traveling through the murkiness of the Higgs field around us.
To me, metaphors like this fall far short of describing the true nature of the relationship. Instead, when metaphors fail, it's best to retreat to the safety of the mathematics. After all, the game of physics is to use mathematics to describe the workings of the universe; it's in the math that relationships are described and discovered. Descriptions of those relationships using a natural language are always going to come up a little bit short.
When it comes to the Higgs and electrons, the mathematics is very clear. When we allow for the existence of a universe-filling Higgs field, that field has certain properties, based on the work that field has to do to split the weak nuclear force from its electromagnetic sibling. And we're free to ask: Given such-and-such field with such-and-such list of properties, does it interact with anything else?
And indeed it does: The Higgs field interacts with the electron field, the quark fields and all the other lepton fields. And it interacts with those other fields in a very specific place in the mathematical formulas that physicists use to describe their nature and evolution: The Higgs pops up in the exact spot where we usually put the mass of the particle.
So there it is. Let the math speak for itself for once in its life. The mass of an electron — or the mass of a quark or any other lepton — is its interaction with the Higgs field. No syrup, no sticky paper, no buzzing flies. No metaphors, analogies, or similes. Just a plain, bare, naked statement of dumbfounding fact.
What is the mass of an electron? It's the interaction between an electron and the Higgs field. And that's all there is to it.
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