One of the more infamous haunting investigations was the San Pedro Haunting or the Jackie Hernandez case. Dr. Barry Taff got involved in the case, along with cameraman Barry Conrad, in 1989 when he was asked to look into a house in San Pedro, California that was allegedly being haunted. The owner of the house was Jackie Hernandez, a young woman who also had some emotional problems in the past.
Recent images of the San Pedro, CA poltergeist house
The investigators were told of strange smells, unexplained sounds, moving objects, apparitions, a glowing cloud that tried to suffocate her (and which had appeared in front of other witnesses) and actually witnessed a peculiar, dripping substance dripping from the kitchen cabinets.
Barry Conrad hanging from a cord attached to a nail in the attic. This was the result of an attack by the entity
The events in the house grew stronger and even followed Jackie from place to place. Taff began to believe that she was creating the phenomena unconsciously because of her emotional problems and what became a strong romantic attachment to Barry Conrad. It seemed that anyone who might be perceived as threat to Jackie’s relationship with Barry ended up on the end of a violent attack by the poltergeist.
However, there are problems with the theory that this was strictly a haunting brought on by living subject. The unexplained lights are certainly odd and so would be the reports of male apparitions from witnesses. Also, as Taff found out later, Jackie’s house continued to be reported as haunted long after she moved out. According to the owners, no subsequent tenants stayed there for longer than 6 months. Could this be merely some residual from Jackie’s presence there or was there really a bonifide malevolent spirit?
Here is another brief version of the investigation:
On the night of August 8, 1989, Barry Conrad along with friend and photographer Jeff Wheatcraft, and Dr. Barry Taff, formerly with UCLA’s parapsychology lab and principal investigator of the now famous “Entity” case, would be witness to some of the most compelling and disturbing paranormal activity. Hernandez had told them stories of flying lamps, oozing blood-like gelatin from the walls, an apparition of a decaying old man, an invisible force that would hold her down as though trying to smother her, as well as a floating disembodied head in her attic. So before they left that evening Conrad suggested that Wheatcraft check out the attic. Not long after crawling through the small hole in the ceiling, Jeff’s camera was ripped from his hands into the darkness of the attic. Expectedly, quite shaken he bolted from the attic. Later he would venture back up into the attic in hopes of retrieving the camera. As he searched the empty attic he found an old dusty grape box, which when opened contained his camera, but strangely no lens. Continuing his search he found the surprisingly undamaged lens behind the trap door to the attic. Jeff decided to see if he could get a couple more shots before leaving. But as he began shooting a foul stench began to permeate the attic and without warning he was shoved by an invisible hand into the rafters. And this wasn’t the worst of the activity.
A month later on September 4th, they would be called back by a frantic Jackie Hernandez. The activity was escalating and getting more violent. Arriving around 1am, Jeff and friend Gary decided they should investigate the attic again. Jeff would pay for it, as he was attacked more brutally than the first encounter. Conrad down below with Hernandez heard a loud moan, it was Jeff. Something had grabbed Jeff by the neck and pulled him into the rafters. Somehow able to pull himself free, Jeff and Gary exited the attic. It was then that they all noticed an old cord wrapped around Jeffs neck. It was then that Gary explained that he actually had to pull Jeff off a nail in the rafter and if he hadn’t been there Jeff might have been strangled to death. But there was a plus to the attack, Gary snapped off a photo at the precise moment of the entity yanking Jeff into the rafters.
Jackie Hernandez would eventually move out of the house after the activity became so dangerous that she felt her children were in danger.
NOTE: I attempted to contact the current occupants of the house....no dice. I can understand their reluctance to comment...Lon
New British documents show UK attempted to derail UN UFO initiative
Among the thousands of pages in the latest badge of UFO documents released and posted online by the British Ministry of Defence (MoD), there are two dozen pages of memos and telexes dealing with the UFO motion at the United Nations undertaken by the government of the Caribbean island of Grenada in the late 1970s. This effort, spearheaded by the late Prime Minister of Grenada sir Eric Gairy (1922-1997) in the period between 1976 and 1979, culminated with the UN General Assembly Decision 33/424 of December 18, 1978, “Establishment of an agency or a department of the United Nations for undertaking, coordinating and disseminating the results of research into unidentified flying objects and related phenomena.”
The Grenada UN initiative remains one of the big milestones in the international diplomatic history of UFOs. Here you have the head of state of a member country making speeches, seeking experts and convening hearings to bring the subject of UFOs and alien visitations into the official agenda of the United Nations, so the subject can be dealt in a coherent and coordinated global manner. Real exo-politics at the highest level! I know this subject particularly well for this was one of the very first UFO stories that I covered professionally as a journalist. I attended the famous UFO Hearing at the Special Political Committee on November 27, 1978, where I had the opportunity of meeting Gairy himself as well as the experts who testified in the hearing like Dr. J. Allen Hynek, Dr. Jacques Vallee and Stanton Friedman. I wrote a long feature article on the third issue of Open Minds magazine (August/September 2010), “The True Story of the United Nations’ UFO Hearings,” where I provided a lot of history and background. Although Decision 33/424 was never implemented—the UFO effort died out after Gairy was overthrown from power in March 1979—the idea of a small UN UFO agency or department is still technically in the books, waiting for another country to take the torch and proceed from there. Continued reading at New British documents show UK attempted to derail UN UFO initiative
South Africa euthanises famous mugger baboon
news.com.au - South African officials have euthanised the country's most famous baboon, known as Fred, who was well-known for raiding cars and frightening tourists along Cape Town's scenic route.
Fred was the ringleader of a group of baboons infamous for breaking into cars to chow down on sandwiches and snacks.
Cape Town's baboon management group said he was euthanised overnight because he was becoming increasingly aggressive.
The group said Fred attacked and injured three people in 2010.
"The decision to have him euthanised was not taken lightly and not without extensive discussions between all role players involved," the group said in a statement.
"This baboon's aggression levels had recently escalated to the point where the safety of tourists, motorists and other travellers along the road past Smitswinkel Bay was being threatened."
In 2009, Fred led a group of 29 baboons in a four-car raid outside Simon's Town, a small coastal neighbourhood.
The baboon chief used his signature tactic of opening unlocked doors and jumping through windows to search for food, while the rest looked for access inside from car roofs and bonnets.
There are more than 400 baboons roaming Cape Town's outskirts, particularly the popular scenic route to the Cape of Good Hope.
Baboons are a protected species under South African legislation but their aggressive pursuits of food have led to conflicts with residents.
Cape Town's baboon management group said as baboons are exposed to human food, rich in carbohydrates, they are becoming increasingly intent on getting more of it - and increasingly dangerous.
People caught feeding baboons are liable for a fine of 1500 rand ($215).
"Unfortunately, this baboon's demise can be contributed mainly to the continuous misguided efforts by humans to befriend and feed baboons," the group's statement said.
"Because people want to love, laugh at and be entertained by baboons, they start a cycle of events that can lead to tragedy, as in the case of this baboon."
Chinese sheep gives birth to puppy
A Chinese farmer claims that one of his sheep has given birth to a puppy. The 'puppy' has wool like a lamb but it's mouth, nose, eyes, paws and tail look more like a dog's. Vets say it is impossible for a sheep to give birth to a dog - but people have been flocking to Liu Naiying's farm to see the animal for themselves.
Liu, of in Fugu County, Shaanxi Province, says his 'sheep dog' even plays like a puppy. He told how he found the unusual baby animal shortly after it was born in one of his fields.
"I was herding the sheep, and saw a sheep licking her newborn lamb on the grassland. The lamb was still wet," he said. "When I went up close to check on the lamb I was shocked because it looked so weird, like a cross between a sheep and a dog. I was a bit frightened, as I've been raising sheep for 20 years and had never seen such a creature."
Yue Guozhang, a researcher at Xi'an City Animal Husbandry Technology Centre, said sheep and dogs were different species. "It's not possible that a sheep could become pregnant with a puppy," he said. "It's likely that this is just an abnormal lamb."
Elizabeth Taylor had seven husbands, but only one of them was dug up in Chicago. It was also the case that launched a notorious Hollywood private eye's career.
So when Hollywood makes a movie about the life of the (second) most beautiful woman in the world, the director had better focus on some intriguing Chicago lore.
The story involves husband No. 3, producer Michael Todd, and two Chicago Outfit types who dug up his body at Jewish Waldheim Cemetery in Forest Park in 1977.
Legend has it they were searching for a 10-carat diamond ring. And legend says they never found it.
The story also involves private eye Anthony Pellicano, a human ferret and convicted eavesdropper who often bragged about his Outfit connections.
He used the Michael Todd grave-robbing caper to launch himself right out of Chicago and into Hollywood, where he became Private Eye to the Stars. Without Todd's remains being dragged around that cemetery, it's possible that Pellicano would still be working divorces in Chicago, peeping through keyholes.
"It was a difficult thing for Elizabeth Taylor to go through," said Arthur Bilek, executive vice president of the Chicago Crime Commission, "but for Pellicano, it was the beginning of the rest of his life."
These days, Pellicano, 67, sits in a federal prison in Safford, Ariz., convicted in 2008 on federal wiretapping and racketeering charges. His schemes helped some top Hollywood figures and hurt others, including Sylvester Stallone, Garry Shandling, and developer Robert Maguire.
Pellicano will be in his mid-70s when he walks in 2019 (his scheduled release date), and so far, he's keeping his mouth shut. But if he ever decides to get gabby at the end, I'd love to buy him a cup of tea and ask if he used his Chicago Outfit connections to find Todd's remains.
It begins in 1958 when Todd was on board his airplane, the Lucky Liz, and died in a fiery crash.
Taylor wanted a closed casket, and he was buried in a simple grave at Waldheim. But there wasn't much of a body for Taylor to bury.
"There was ash, bits of burned clothes, and a piece of a seat belt, that's all," said Bilek.
And 19 years later — in June of 1977 — the grave robbers dug up what was left of Todd. A Chicago Tribune article described the crime:
"The grave robbers dug down several feet, then pried open the coffin lid. They smashed through a glass case inside to get to a rubber bag containing what remained of Todd. Police said they were 'baffled' by the crime.
"'It could be the work of sick pranksters,' speculated Sgt. Richard Archambault, of the Forest Park police.
"'It might be a possible extortion attempt,' Archambault said. 'Or it might have been the work of an anti-Semitic organization that wants to attract attention to its cause. Who knows? Maybe someone thinks he can make some money selling the remains.'"
Then Pellicano — who had steadily been building media contacts in Chicago and who was working on a tip from an "informant" — showed up at the cemetery. He wasn't alone.
With Pellicano was WBBM-TV news anchor Bill Kurtis and a camera crew. They were soon joined by police.
It must have been dramatic, the cops and the private eye walking around the grave, trying to find Todd.
"They go off so many feet one way, then so many feet the other way," Bilek said. "Then Pellicano walks off into the bushes, and yells, 'Hey, I got it!'" - ChicagoTribune
When Hollywood's A-list wants protection from gossip and lawsuits, they put Anthony Pellicano on the case. Some see him as a pushy showoff, but he says he likes to play hardball.
Saturday September 11, 1993
By SHAWN HUBLER and JAMES BATES, TIMES STAFF WRITERS
......Then there was the matter of producer Michael Todd's bones, which disappeared in 1977 from a Forest Park, Ill., cemetery. Todd had been married to actress Elizabeth Taylor when he died in a 1958 plane crash.
The grave robbery made headlines. Police scoured the cemetery in vain. Then a phone rang in the detective division. Pellicano said he had an informant; he knew where the bones were buried. Police met him at the graveyard. Pellicano had an anchorman in tow.
Todd's remains--a few bones and a melted belt buckle--were right on the cemetery grounds, under a pile of leaves and dirt about 75 yards from the grave. The grave robbers, Pellicano told police, had been after a 10-carat diamond ring, a gift from Taylor that they mistakenly had believed was inside Todd's casket.
A 1983 government sentencing report maintains that a mobster-turned-informant told authorities that two mob figures were the ones who exhumed Todd. But the story making the rounds in Chicago even today is that Pellicano orchestrated the event to gain publicity in hopes of being hired to help find Chicago candy heiress Helen Brach, who disappeared in 1977.
"I've been hearing that story for years. It's a great story, but there's no way I would know if it's true. The guy is a legend here," said lawyer Glen Crick, former director of enforcement for the state agency governing private investigators.
But Pellicano's critics--Chicago archrival Ernie Rizzo among them--gleefully refer to him as "the grave robber." And police say the story has become part of the city's detective lore although there is no evidence linking Pellicano to the disappearance.
Pellicano--along with his defenders in Chicago--says the tale is fueled by professional jealousy.
"Ernie Rizzo is a fruit fly," Pellicano said in one of his more printable comments about the man.
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A recent photograph of the house on 11547 Braddock Drive (2011)
On August 22, 1974 at 11547 Braddock Drive in Culver City, California an investigation began that was to be like no other that parapsychologists Kerry Gaynor and Barry Taff had ever experienced. "At the time I had a colleague named Barry Taff," said Gaynor. “We were working under the auspices of Dr. Thelma Moss, but Barry and I did most of the research on this case.” Believing that this would be an open and shut case they journeyed to Doris Bither’s house with few expectations.
While in a bookstore, Kerry Gaynor and Barry Taff were overheard talking about the paranormal when a woman approached and mentioned to them that her house was haunted. She gave Gaynor a few details of the haunting, in which Gaynor told her that he would discuss this with his associate. Gaynor and Taff made an appointment to meet at her home to discuss her situation.
Parapsychologist Kerry Gaynor
Doris Bither, a petite thirtysomething woman, greeted them at her door. Bither lived in the small house with her six year-old daughter and her three sons, ages ten, thirteen and sixteen. The house was in squalor with substandard living conditions and had twice been condemned by the city. There was also an uneasy relationship between the mother and her sons, especially by the eldest. It seemed they harbored dark resentment towards their mother, most likely as a result of their living conditions. Young minds unconsciously troubled by physical and/or verbal abusive and in a negative environment are lightning rods for paranormal activity that can manifest into psychosomatic or poltergeist activity.
Gaynor said that during the initial meeting a two-hour interview was conducted. Gaynor realized fairly soon that she was holding something back. “I kept pushing her," said Gaynor. "Finally she said that a ghost had raped and beat her. Barry and I laughed when we left her home, and I thought she was probably off her rocker. But she called me back a few days later and said that several people visiting her had seen an apparition. This is what we're always looking for...independent verification of the phenomena. I'm a scientist and that's how I approach it. I don't take their stories at face value. Their story is the beginning and I don't discount it, but I'm there to experience the phenomena and document it."
Recent photo of Dr. Barry Taff
During the second visit by Gaynor and Taff, it was starting to become apparent that this was not a simple haunting. Doris claimed that spirits would physically attack her, either bumping into the ghosts while walking through the house or actual spectral rape on occasion. Gaynor and Taff were still skeptical of these claims until they saw the dark bruises on her inner thighs and over much of her body. Doris’ eldest son did admit to seeing his mother being tossed around the room. In one instance he tried to intervene and was thrown across the room by the unseen force. Doris claimed that the spectres were Asian men and that the children had also witnessed the manifestations. The sightings were so frequent that the children dubbed one of the more prominent spirits as “Mr. Whose-it.” People outside the family corroborated through testimony that they had also seen apparitions. Gaynor and Taff did witness some visual phenomena. "We were seeing little pops of light," said Gaynor. "It would happen quickly. We would try to shoot the camera, but they were happening too quickly and we just couldn't catch them. We were shooting with a Polaroid and with a 35mm camera."
How could these investigators prove “spectral rape” or even claim it? The team decided to setup at the location and brought in high-speed cameras and photographers as well as other investigators to help capture something on tape. In the report, all the investigators and equipment, as well as Doris, were in her small bedroom. Uncomfortable and anxious to see any paranormal activity, they decided to have Doris call out to the spirits. Doris began swearing and yelling at the spirits while the investigators hoped for any evidence. Very soon small lights started to manifest throughout the room. As Doris continued to bait the entities, a greenish mist started to form in a corner. The green mist started swirling and growing quickly forming a visible upper torso of a man...very large and defined with muscles was reported. One of the investigators fainted after witnessing the manifestation. Unfortunately, none of the equipment was able to capture the definition of the form, only free floating arcs of light.
The most famous of these photographs is the one that shows Doris sitting on a bed, investigators surrounding her and the free floating arc of light in the middle of the picture. The arc of light appears smooth, even though this is a room with corners and one would expect bends in the arc as when someone uses a projector to display an image and the image hits corners in a room. If this were the case, the image would bend. The photographic evidence produce by the team shows the arc of light floating above Doris with no bends, even though behind it is the room’s corner.
There was also more common poltergeist activity noted during the investigation. “I was standing in the kitchen talking to the woman's 16 year-old son when a lower cabinet door slammed open and a pan came flying out," said Gaynor. “It flew out and landed about three or four feet from the cabinet. I immediately tore the cabinet apart to see if there were any tricks, or if anyone was hiding in the cabinets. But there was nothing.” Not long after this occurred Doris screamed, “it's in the bedroom.” Gaynor explains “we ran in there and that's when all the lights started happening. That's when we got the Polaroid shots. Again Doris shouted, 'the ghost is in the comer'. We snapped the picture, but it was bleached out and not very interesting. She shouted again, 'it's in the corner' and again the photo was bleached. At this point, I thought the camera wasn't working. So I took two control pictures. I asked her if the ghost was gone. She said yes. The picture came out perfectly. A few seconds later I took another one….perfect picture. But then we got the most interesting Polaroid. Doris said, 'It is right in front of my face.' Those were her exact words. So we took a shot. And in the photo you can see the curtains and the buttons on her dress, but her whole face is obliterated. We took a second picture when she once again said, 'it's right in front of my face.' Amazingly, her face was obliterated again, but you could see details in the rest of the picture.”
The investigative team observed lights and poltergeist activity for about two and a half months. As time went by, the activities decreased. Doris was attacked about 15 times during the ten-week investigation. "But she got stronger," said Gaynor. "And she was able to realize that she wasn't crazy and that there really was something going on. She got stronger, and in my opinion, she outlasted it." Doris moved five times, but the attacking entity followed her. She eventually moved further away. "As she moved," Gaynor said, "the phenomena diminished, and after about two years the attacks stopped altogether.”
Regardless of the evidence a few factors must be pointed out. Barry Taff notes that Doris moved from Culver City to Carson, CA. Then from Carson to San Bernadino, CA , then from San Bernadino to Texas. She eventually found her way back to San Bernardino. Doris reported that the phenomenon followed her and the family to every place they moved. This seems to support the theory that the poltergeist activity was a manifestation of the unstable environment and diseased mind. Doris was addicted to alcohol and she was very abusive and belligerent on a daily basis. Her refusal to deal with her own personal issues intensified negative energy in the home that eventually manifested as poltergeist activity. According to the reports paranormal activity was more intense ONLY when Doris was present in the home. Doris’ intoxication would attract the desired phenomena. It was also noted there were times when Doris was present with the team and sober. As expected the activity did not manifest during these periods. Because of the negative energy provided by Doris’ addiction and temperament combined with the resentment of her son’s towards her because of the abuse and poor living conditions it is rather easy to see why dark entities were attracted to the location.
NOTE: According to her son, Brian Harris, Doris McGowan Bither had a very turbulent upbringing. Both her parents were alcoholics and were not suited in providing a well-rounded environment for a child even though she was raised in an upper middle-class family. Harris states, “living in that home was hell.”
“…we all experienced some form of attack.” “…there were about 4 entities in the home, and they made themselves known by appearing all the time.” “…we were so used to the poltergeist, that we just got to a point where we wouldn’t even care.” Harris continues, “The rapes were real. My room was right next door to my mother’s. I would hear the attacks happening. Things being thrown and her screaming.” “…she would come out of the bedroom and have all these bruises on her legs, her inner thighs.”“…there were times where we would see it happen in front of us. It was like if a man was standing in front of my mother and would start to beat her. You could see her being picked up and thrown around. Sounds of slaps…but there was no one there to actually do it.”
Actress Barbara Hershey played the role of Carla Moran in the Hollywood film version of "The Entity"
Harris disagrees with many of the assessments made by the investigation team as well as how they were treated. “…well it was hell. Between Barry’s team of 30 or so people crammed in a small, and I mean, small room. Cheering and yelling at this thing. I was in the next room trying to watch television. I tried to mind my own business.” Harris continues, “The investigation lasted about 2 or 3 months, but it wasn’t like Barry was there every single day. So for him to say that this could have been some sort of telekinetic thing that my mother was creating is all bullshit. She didn’t want to have this happen….it’s a possibility, but it’s not like he knew what we were really going through. He was only there for three months. And from that, he would show up every Thursday or so.” “…when the team would show up, I knew as soon as they left, they (the entities) would become so angry that the house would come alive!”“The place we moved to was hell….in the bad part of Carson, CA. There was very little paranormal activity happening. It was hell because of the neighborhood. It was a bad neighborhood and school. The paranormal stuff was very rare at that point.” Harris adds,
Harris says that his mother passed away in 1995, from pulmonary arrest.
The book 'The Entity' written by Frank deFelitta (and subsequent film by the same title) was based on this case.
Click for video The video contains a segment on the Doris Bither / Entity case
"Sightings: The Real Entity Case" - Susan Michaels - 1996
"Weird California: The Entity Haunting" - Greg Bishop, Joe Oesterle, Mike Marinacci, Mark Moran, Mark Sceurman - 2006
Orange Coast Magazine - 10/1989
livescience - A super soldier program produces Marvel superhero Wolverine in the movie "X-Men Origins: Wolverine," along with rivals Sabretooth and Weapon XI. Now LiveScience looks back on real experiments that the U.S. government ran on soldiers and citizens to advance the science of war.
The military didn't replicate Wolverine's indestructible skeleton and retractable claws. Rather, they shot accident victims up with plutonium, tested nerve gas on sailors, and tried out ESP. While some of the tests seem outlandish in hindsight, the military continues to push the envelope in seeking new warfare techniques based on cutting-edge science and technology.
"My measure of success is that the International Olympic Committee bans everything we do," said Michael Goldblatt, former head of DARPA's Defense Sciences Office, while talking with reporters. And that's not a Hollywood script.
7. Nerve gas spray
Threats of chemical and biological warfare led the U.S. Department of Defense to start "Project 112" from 1963 to the early 1970s. Part of the effort involved spraying different ships and hundreds of Navy sailors with nerve agents such as sarin and VX, in order to test the effectiveness of decontamination procedures and safety measures at the time. The Pentagon revealed the details of the Project Shipboard Hazard and Defense (SHAD) project in 2002, and the Veterans Administration began studying possible health effects among sailors who participated in SHAD. This was just one of many chemical warfare experiments conducted by the U.S. military, starting with volunteer tests involving mustard gas in World War II.
6. Hallucinogenic Warfare
Psychoactive drugs such as marijuana, LSD and PCP don't just have street value: Researchers once hoped the drugs could become chemical weapons that disabled enemy soldiers. U.S. Army volunteers took pot, acid and angel dust at a facility in Edgewood, Md. From 1955 to 1972, although those drugs proved too mellow for weapons use. The Army did eventually develop hallucinogenic artillery rounds that could disperse powdered quinuclidinyl benzilate, which left many test subjects in a sleep-like condition for days. The National Academy of Sciences conducted a study in 1981 that found no ill effects from the testing, and Dr. James Ketchum published the first insider account of the research in his 2007 book "Chemical Warfare: Secrets Almost Forgotten."
5. Falling near the speed of sound
When the U.S. Air Force wanted to find out how well pilots could survive high-altitude jumps, they turned to Captain Joseph Kittinger, Jr. The test pilot made several jumps as head of "Project Excelsior" during the 1950s. Each time involved riding high-altitude Excelsior balloons up tens of thousands of feet, before jumping, free falling and parachuting to the desert floor in New Mexico. Kittinger's third record-breaking flight on August 16, 1960 took him up to 102,800 feet, or almost 20 miles. He then leaped and freefell at speeds of up to 614 mph, not far from the speed of sound's 761 mph, and endured temperatures as low as minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit.
4. Pacifist guinea pigs
Most soldiers don't sign up to fight deadly viruses and bacteria, but that's what more than 2,300 young Seventh-Day Adventists did when drafted by the U.S. Army. As conscientious objectors during the Cold War who interpreted the Bible's commandment "Thou shalt not kill" very literally, many volunteered instead to serve as guinea pigs for testing vaccines against biological weapons. Volunteers recalled being miserable for several days with fever, chills and bone-deep aches from diseases such as Q fever. None died during the secretive "Operation Whitecoat," which took place at Fort Detrick, Maryland from 1954 to 1973.
3. Rocket rider
Before man could launch into orbit and to the moon, he rode rocket sleds on the ground first. NASA scientists developed decompression sleds that could race at speeds of more than 400 mph before screeching to an abrupt halt, and early testing often had fatal results for chimpanzee subjects that suffered brain damage. Starting in 1954, Colonel John Stapp of the U.S. Air Force endured grueling tests that subjected his body to forces 35 times that of gravity, including one record-setting run of 632 miles per hour. As a flight surgeon, he voluntarily took on the risks of 29 sled runs, during which he suffered concussions, cracked ribs, a twice-fractured wrist, lost dental fillings, and burst blood vessels in both eyes.
2. Get your plutonium shot
As the United States raced to build its first atomic bombs near the end of World War II, scientists wanted to know more about the hazards of plutonium. Testing began on April 10, 1945 with the injection of plutonium into the victim of a car accident in Oak Ridge, Tenn., to see how quickly the human body rid itself of the radioactive substance. That was just the first of over 400 human radiation experiments. Common studies included seeing the biological effects of radiation with various doses, and testing experimental treatments for cancer. Records of this research became public in 1995, after the U.S. Department of Energy published them.
1. Seeing infrared
The U.S. Navy wanted to boost sailors' night vision so they could spot infrared signal lights during World War II. However, infrared wavelengths are normally beyond the sensitivity of human eyes. Scientists knew vitamin A contained part of a specialized light-sensitive molecule in the eye's receptors, and wondered if an alternate form of vitamin A could promote different light sensitivity in the eye. They fed volunteers supplements made from the livers of walleyed pikes, and the volunteers' vision began changing over several months to extend into the infrared region. Such early success went down the drain after other researchers developed an electronic snooperscope to see infrared, and the human study was abandoned. Other nations also played with vitamin A during World War II – Japan fed its pilots a preparation that boosted vitamin A absorption, and saw their night vision improve by 100 percent in some cases.
NOTE: the worst part is that these are just the ones we know of...Lon
MIT: Are you a Martian?
MIT - Are we all Martians? According to many planetary scientists, it's conceivable that all life on Earth is descended from organisms that originated on Mars and were carried here aboard meteorites. If that's the case, an instrument being developed by researchers at MIT and Harvard could provide the clinching evidence.
In order to detect signs of past or present life on Mars — if it is in fact true that we're related — then a promising strategy would be to search for DNA or RNA, and specifically for particular sequences of these molecules that are nearly universal in all forms of terrestrial life. That's the strategy being pursued by MIT research scientist Christopher Carr and postdoctoral associate Clarissa Lui, working with Maria Zuber, head of MIT's Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences (EAPS), and Gary Ruvkun, a molecular biologist at the Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard University, who came up with the instrument concept and put together the initial team. Lui presented a summary of their proposed instrument, called the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Genomes (SETG), at the IEEE Aerospace Conference this month in Big Sky, Mont.
The idea is based on several facts that have now been well established. First, in the early days of the solar system, the climates on Mars and the Earth were much more similar than they are now, so life that took hold on one planet could presumably have survived on the other. Second, an estimated one billion tons of rock have traveled from Mars to Earth, blasted loose by asteroid impacts and then traveling through interplanetary space before striking Earth's surface. Third, microbes have been shown to be capable of surviving the initial shock of such an impact, and there is some evidence they could also survive the thousands of years of transit through space before arriving at another planet.
So the various steps needed for life to have started on one planet and spread to another are all plausible. Additionally, orbital dynamics show that it's about 100 times easier for rocks to travel from Mars to Earth than the other way. So if life got started there first, microbes could have been carried here and we might all be its descendants.
If we are descendants from Mars, there might be important lessons to be learned about our own biological origins by studying biochemistry on our neighbor planet, where biological traces erased long ago here on Earth might have been preserved in the Martian deep freeze.
The MIT researchers' device would take samples of Martian soil and isolate any living microbes that might be present, or microbial remnants (which can be preserved for about up to a million years and still contain viable DNA), and separate out the genetic material in order to use standard biochemical techniques to analyze their genetic sequences.
"It's a long shot," Carr concedes, "but if we go to Mars and find life that's related to us, we could have originated on Mars. Or if it started here, it could have been transferred to Mars." Either way, "we could be related to life on Mars. So we should at least be looking for life on Mars that's related to us."
Even a few years ago, that might have seemed like more of a long shot, but recent Mars orbiter and rover missions have clearly shown that Mars once had abundant water, and many of the conditions thought to be needed to support life. And although the surface of Mars today is too cold and dry to support known life forms, there is evidence that liquid water may exist not far below the surface. "On Mars today, the best place to look for life is in the subsurface," Carr says.
So the team has been developing a device that could take a sample of Martian soil from below the surface — perhaps dredged up by a rover equipped with a deep drill — and process it to separate out any possible organisms, amplify their DNA or RNA using the same techniques used for forensic DNA testing on Earth, and then use biochemical markers to search for signs of particular, genetic sequences that are nearly universal among all known life forms.
The researchers estimate that it could take two more years to complete the design and testing of a prototype SETG device. Although the proposed device has not yet been selected for any upcoming Mars mission, a future mission with a lander or rover equipped with a drill could potentially carry this life-detection instrument.
No instrument has been sent to Mars specifically to look for evidence of life since NASA's twin Viking landers in 1976, which produced tantalizing but ambiguous results. An instrument on the Mars Science Lander to be launched in the fall will investigate chemistry relevant to life. The instrument from the MIT-Harvard team directly addresses Earth-like molecular biology.
Christopher McKay, an astrobiologist at NASA-Ames Research Center in California who specializes in research related to the possibility of life on Mars, says this work is "very interesting and important." He says, "it is not implausible that life on Mars will be related to life on Earth and therefore share a common genetics. In any case it would be important to test this hypothesis." But he adds that there is another motive for doing this research as well: "From an astronaut health and safety point of view and from a return-sample point of view, there is more to worry about" if there are organisms closely related to us on Mars, since a microbe that is similar is much more likely to be infectious to terrestrial life forms than would a totally alien microbe — so it is very important to be able to detect such life forms if they are present on Mars. In addition, this method could also detect any biological contamination on Mars that has been brought by spacecraft from Earth.
This kind of test is something we have the ability to do, he says, and therefore, although such an experiment has not yet been formally approved, "it seems improbable to me that we will do a serious search for life on Mars and not do this test."
Air Traffic Control Abandoned as Two Passenger Planes Try To Land
gizmodo - Shortly after midnight on Wednesday, two DC airliners approached Washington DC's Reagan National Airport. They waited for guidance from air traffic control. And waited. And waited. And waited. They never got a response.
The two pilots—responsible for the safety of a combined 165 passengers—managed to land only by coordinating between themselves, giving each other regular status updates and confirming with their airlines which runway they were supposed to approach. A third plane was able to land a half hour later, only after ATC had been restored.
As The Washington Post points out, planes land at small airports without air traffic control guidance all the time. But at a major hub like Reagan, maintenance workers are crossing over runways late at night, sometimes towing jets in their wake. The only way incoming pilots are aware of their positions is from air traffic control.
So what happened? No one's saying yet, but there seem to be two distinct possibilities. One is that the operator somehow got locked out of his tower, which happened two years ago at the much smaller Teterboro airport. The other is that he simply fell asleep early into the graveyard shift.
Pushing tin is no easy job, and a few hiccups—the average number of errors is 1 in 84,000 flight operations, or double that in NYC—are inevitable. But a mistake on this scale could have had grave consequences. And while the FAA has ordered Reagan to place two air traffic control officers on the midnight shift, that's kind of like putting up a stop sign only after a schoolbus collides with an ice cream truck. And makes you wonder how many other major towers are understaffed, just waiting for the next lockout.
NOTE: there will definitely be a stink about this since most of Congress uses Reagan International. Personally, I don't like the place....I get a 'bad feel' there. Use BWI or Dulles if you can...Lon
The relic, said to be a thorn from Jesus's crown, has been kept at Stonyhurst College, in Clitheroe, Lancashire, for the last 200 years. The thorn has Mary Queen of Scots's pearls twined around it
'Thorn from Jesus's crucifixion crown' goes on display at British Museum
dailymail - It was plundered in the Fourth Crusade, sold to French royalty and has spent the past 200 years in safekeeping at a British public school.
Now a relic claimed to be a thorn from Jesus's crown is to go on display at the British Museum.
And while no one can doubt the item's rich history, there is less evidence to support the claims of its provenance.
The Crown of Thorns is said to have been seized from Constantinople, the imperial capital of the Roman Empire, in the Fourth Crusade - around AD 1200 - and was later sold to King Louis IX of France while he was in Venice.
King Louis kept the religious relic in the specially-built Saint Chapel and thorns were broken off from the crown and given to people who married into the family as gifts.
The thorn at Stonyhurst College - a 400-year-old Jesuit boarding school - was said to have been given to Mary Queen of Scots who married into the French royal family and she took it with her to Holyrood in Edinburgh.
And following her execution in 1587, it was passed from her loyal servant, Thomas Percy, to his daughter, Elizabeth Woodruff, who then gave it to her confessor - a Jesuit priest - in 1600.
The Jesuits brought it with them to the college and it has been kept at the Ribble Valley college ever since.
Now it is to be loaned to the British Museum in London for a new exhibition, Treasures of Heaven, inspired by saints, relics and devotion in medieval Europe.
Jan Graffius, curator at Stonyhurst, said: 'It is an incredible object and we are really delighted that it will form part of the British Museum exhibition. It is a priceless treasure.'
Catriona Graffius, a sixth former at the college, was invited to take part in the production of a podcast guide for the exhibition.
She was interviewed to give a pupil's perspective on her school's precious possession, and said: 'I was asked to describe the thorn, which has Mary Queen of Scots's pearls twined around it.
'The thorn is placed in a chapel at Stonyhurst every year in Holy Week.'
The British Museum exhibition features sacred treasures of the medieval age, which have been collected from more than 40 institutions and many of which have not been seen in the UK before.
The thorn will sit next to rare loans from the Vatican, including from the private chapel of the popes and the Sancta Sanctorum.
While the majority of objects date from between AD 1000 to 1500, some of the earliest pieces include a late Roman sarcophagus dating from between AD 250 and 350.
The exhibition will open in June 23 and run until October 9.
This week Eric and Lon welcome back the the BTE segment hosts as well as other guests and friends...many paranormal and alternative subjects will be presented. There will also be an overview on Eric's weekend at 'Phenomenology 103'. Go to the 'Beyond the Edge' radio website and join us live in the chatroom. See you there!
Join Eric Altman, Lon Strickler and the crew LIVE each Sunday at 10 PM ET as we go Beyond the Edge!
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