Dec 29 2013

Did ESA’s Mars Express Broadcast the Carpenters’ “Close to You” This AM to Phobos?

Well if they didn’t, they should have!

Now we know what the Carpenters really meant when they sang their mega-hit, “Close to You”…

Lyrics from “Close to You” by Burt Bacharach and Hal David; recorded by the Carpenters, 1970…

Why do stars fall down from the sky
Every time you walk by?
Just like me, they long to be
Close to you

Only a short time ago (11:09 pm, 12/28/13 California time) the Mars Express spacecraft made the closest approach ever to Phobos — only 28 miles (45 km) above its fascinating surface!

CONGRATULATIONS TO ESA and the Mars Express team!!

It’s too fast and close to take images but the trajectory data — currently being received by the 70 m NASA tracking station in Madrid — will be used to better constrain the structure of Phobos’ very porous interior!

On the day that you were born the angels got together
And decided to create a dream come true
So they sprinkled moon dust …

Phobos is truly a “dream come true” especially every 2 years when a launch window opens that makes Phobos (and Deimos) more accessible energy-wise than a trip to the lunar surface!

For those of us who crave the human exploration of Mars, Phobos is indeed the key to the cosmos!

Just so you know what Mars Express must have been feeling this morning, here’s an encore performance of “Close To You”; CLICK Here.

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Dec 24 2013

Merry Christmas 2013!

Merry Christmas everyone!!

Yesterday from Chicago Apollo 8 astronaut James Lovell reenacted his famous 1968 Christmas Eve television broadcast from orbit around the Moon during which the crew read the first 10 verses of Genesis.

Apollo 8 was the first manned mission to leave Earth orbit, travel to the Moon and orbit it, and return safely to Earth.

Captain Lovell is an extraordinary space traveler: He is the first of only 3 people to fly to the Moon twice (although he did not make a landing), and is famous as commander of the Apollo 13 mission.

For the full text of their broadcast, Click: Celebrating Christmas at the Moon!

Lovell closed yesterday with the same message the astronauts did in 1968.

From the crew of Apollo 8, we close with good night, good luck, a Merry Christmas and God bless all of you, all of you on the good Earth.

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Dec 23 2013

The Meaning of China’s New Moon

Could the 21st Century shape up to be China’s on the Moon … and even — if the U.S. allows it — here on Earth?

On December 14 China took “one giant step,” to quote Neil Armstrong (44 years earlier) in that direction by soft-landing Chang’e 3 and successfully deploying the “Jade Rabbit” rover on the Moon’s surface.

This is a great achievement that could lead to Chinese astronauts on the Moon by the 2020s, and clearly signals our rapid approach to the next 1960s-style Maslow Window and the new International Space Age.

China’s new rover on the Moon is farther away than the Senkaku Islands, but is its geopolitical meaning the same?

For historical perspective, Russia achieved the first soft landing on the Moon in January 1966 (Luna 9). And the first manned landing on the Moon was by the U.S. in July 1969 (Apollo 11) followed by 5 more (3 w rovers), with the last coming in December 1972.

Significantly, the most recent soft landing on the Moon was by Russia in August 1976. Thus China’s Moon triumph is the most recent gentle landing on the Moon in 37 years!

This 4-decade hiatus in human and robotic exploration on the lunar surface is apparently due to the Maslow Effect, involving multi-decade self organization of the international economic system into twice-per-century, transformative “critical states”.

Thus China becomes only the 3rd country in history to join the international Moon Club, as well as the 1st and only nation to do it (so far) in the 21st Century!

So…will China win the 21st Century Moon by default?

Many have noticed China’s success. For example, NASA planetary scientist and long-time major advocate of human missions to Mars, Chris McKay is now supporting a U.S. lunar base, mainly because without it we’ll be less able to influence future international plans for the Moon. Lunar and Planetary Institute scientist Paul Spudis agrees that the Chang’e-3 mission is about expanding China’s future options on the Moon, in this case by flight-testing a “new and potentially powerful lunar surface payload delivery system.”

Former NASA boss Mike Griffin believes that ISS-style international cooperation with China in a Moon base initiative is currently possible as long as the U.S. is “clearly ahead,” but this window will rapidly close as China’s space capabilities expand. Likewise, long-time NASA backer Rep. Frank Wolf (R), currently serving his 17th term in Congress, is retiring and has written President Obama asking for action regarding a “U.S.-led return to the Moon” in the next decade.

Unfortunately, the response of NASA Administrator Charles Bolden is to say No to new “flagship missions” for NASA, “The budget doesn’t support that.”

Bolden’s absolutely right about the budget, but he neglects to focus on the connection between the budget and the current sluggish economy, and ultimately that’s the responsibility of his boss, President Obama.

And because Apollo-level initiatives since Lewis and Clark only occur during JFK-style economic booms, the question really is: How do we stimulate significant growth in the economy?

The formula’s been known for some time. President Kennedy used it with considerable success in the early 1960s to create the greatest boom in modern history and to support Apollo. Because of its importance, we’ll examine JFK’s stimulus program in the near future.

One more point about China’s new Moon: early leaks from China suggested a long-term program culminating in a Star Wars-style “death star” base on the Moon with significant offensive military potential.

Such hoopla is undoubtedly for internal consumption (in China), but military Moon bases are not without merit. For example, in 1984 Edward Teller extolled the virtues of a lunar base for continuous, secure surveillance of Earth. And George Friedman presents a dazzling future space war scenario featuring military bases on the Moon’s farside.
You can read more here; CLICK: The Geopolitics of a Moon Base

Did the folks in Beijing just remember to renew their subscription to Stratfor?

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Nov 21 2013

Bruce Returns to The Space Show on December 6

Published by under Uncategorized

It’s a pleasure to announce that I’m returning again to The Space Show ( global internet live radio program, on Friday, December 6, 2013, from 9:30 am – 11 am Pacific time.

My most recent appearance on The Space Show was last March and you can listen to it by clicking

Thanks to Dr. David Livingston, the show’s host, for inviting me. You can learn about him by visiting his personal website,

We’ll explore the state-of-the-wave in U.S. and international space today — Surprisingly, all indicators suggest that the ignition of a new, international Apollo-level Space Age is just around the corner.

We’re currently waiting for only one final step on the new Space Age “checklist” to occur before we can enter into another transformative, 1960s-style Golden Age of human expansion.

Plus, we’ll do a year-end evaluation of my annual look at space-related trends; Click: 10 Space Trends for 2013 — Featuring the Approach of the New International Space Age..

And who can resist examining current prospects for near-term human exploration of the Red Planet, including Dennis Tito’s 2018 manned Mars flyby, Mars One, and possible U.S.-Russia joint manned Mars expeditions.

See you on December 6!

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Sep 02 2013

Syria Reveals that the 1960s-style “Critical State” is Imminent

The Sunday New York Times (9/1/13) headine — “President Pulls Lawmakers Into Box He Made” — sums up the current dangerous Middle East situation that Obama aggravated by announcing, a year ago, his Red Line against the use of Syrian chemical weapons and then blinking when it occurred (see also David Sanger, NYT, 9/1/13).

A popular theme is emerging that sees parallels between the current crisis and the summer of 1914 which quickly led to World War I. For example, in “Obama is Playing With Fire in Syria” (8/30/31, CounterPunch) Rob Prince and Ibrahim Kazarooni of the University of Denver’s Korbel School of International Studies see real dangers:

The militaries of virtually the entire region are on alert. It might not take much to set a war in motion that extends far beyond Washington’s borders. What makes matters worse, is that many of the parties are itching for a fight. Indeed, a scenario not unlike that which existed in Europe in the summer of 1914 appears to be shaping up.

Are we approaching a 1914-style “critical state” in the Middle East? The aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln patrols in the Arabian Sea.

And in its recent politics blog, The Guardian (8/29/13) expressed the key idea in the title of its piece: The Syria dilemma: we don’t want it turning into another Sarajevo 1914.

A hint of what’s fundamentally driving this crisis is provided by historian Niall Ferguson in his 2010 Foreign Policy article, “Complexity and Collapse”:

Great powers and empires…operate somewhere between order and disorder … Such systems can appear to operate quite stably for some time; they seem to be in equilibrium but are, in fact, constantly adapting. But there comes a moment when complex systems “go critical.” A very small trigger can set off a “phase transition” from a benign equilibrium to a crisis.

In the spirit of Ferguson, Christopher Clark in his new book (The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914) summarizes how the WW I complex system went “critical” (italics below mine).

The etiology of this conflict was so complex and strange that it allowed soldiers and civilians in all the belligerent states to be confident that theirs was a war of defense , that their countries had been attacked or provoked by a determined enemy, that their respective governments had made every effort to preserve the peace.

This Ferguson/Clark concept is broadly consistent with’s model of transformative, twice-per-century Maslow Windows that are triggered by “critical states” of the complex global economic system due to self-organization over decades. The last one was in the 1960s — which featured the Apollo Moon program — but Maslow Windows can be traced back 200+ years to Lewis and Clark.

A brief intro to Maslow Windows is found HERE, and more info is HERE.

Because financial systems, wars, and NASA space programs are now known to be “fractal”, it’s reasonable to expect that the approach of a “critical state” will trigger extraordinary behavior (also known as “avalanches”) in all three, and history supports this. For example, the greatest economic expansion (the JFK boom) in history and the greatest ever technology and exploration program (the Apollo Moon landings) both occurred during the 1960s.

So in this context, the questions are: 1) Is Syria a harbinger of the approaching 1960s-style critical state? and 2) Is Syria likely to evolve into a global war like WW I?

Although predicting the future of a complex system in its critical state is tricky, the answers are probably and probably not.

History shows that Maslow Windows are asymmetrically bookended by wars; i.e., a smaller war or international conflict (e.g., Cuban missile crisis) just before or early during the Maslow Window, and a major war (e.g. WW I) that terminates the Maslow Window.
For more, CLICK: “Near-Term Wars Threaten the New Space Age.”

World War I, which originated during the most intense portion of the critical state, terminated the Maslow Window in 1914. While the smaller, early war was the Spanish-American War of 1898 which only briefly preceded the onset of a stunning JFK-style economic boom that triggered one of the most ebullient decades in US history.

During the 1960s critical state, the Cuban Missile Crisis was the early international conflict that had the potential for a full nuclear war between superpowers but was rapidly resolved. In this sense it appears to have parallels with the developing Syrian crisis, as we approach the new Maslow Window/Critical State expected by mid-decade.

Although the current geopolitical situation is not held hostage to the 200+ year historical patterns of Maslow Windows and their critical states, it appears that a major war is more likely to occur in the mid-2020s after the approaching Maslow Window/Critical State has lost momentum.

Support for this general view of a limited scenario for Syria (as opposed to a WW I analog) was reported in The Daily Caller last week. Jeff Poor quotes Charles Krauthammer as asserting Friday that any missteps by Obama in Syria could trigger a “major regional war.”

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Aug 01 2013

State of the Wave: The Physics of Finance As We Approach the 1960s-Style Critical State

For most people the financial Panic of 2008 is probably the most famous evidence that conventional economic models — like those long-used by the Fed and other central banks — are simply not adequate. In fact, many decades have been littered with officially unforeseen recessions and initially minimized expansions. So many that in 2010 economist Russ Thomas (Hoover Institution & George Mason Univ) finally asked, “Is the dismal science really a science?” (Wall Street Journal, 2/26/10).

Thomas’ bottom-line is revealing:
“The economy is a complex system, our data are imperfect and our models inevitably fail to account for all the interactions.”

Momentum is growing in this direction. For example, after asking whether economics is “a science or a religion” physicist Mark Buchanan concluded recently (Bloomberg, 7/17/13) that,

Economics is riddled with hidden value judgments that make its advice far from scientific … (and) economists would do well to derive their prescriptions from observations of how the world really works, with a healthy respect for its complexity.

In 2010, The Economist (7/22/10) reported on growing insight into complexity in the economy using Agent-based Models or ABMs, with an eye toward forecasting major fluctuations.

ABMs do not suffer from key assumptions that limit traditional (dynamic stochastic general equilibrium) economic models including a theoretical equilibrium that attracts all prices or that markets must be fundamentally rational. Instead an ABM assigns specific rules for each agent (e.g., an individual, a firm) including for example, how it regards fundamentals or technical analysis of market data. Agents can also interact with each other and learn from experience, and thus mirror real-world activities.

Michael Casey (Wall Street Journal, 7/10/13) concludes that

the Universe’s dynamic tendency toward disequilibrium and instability … (is) a direct challenge to the prevailing economic theory that markets are inherently self-correcting and always reverting to equilibrium.

Mark Buchanan sees sudden events like the 1987 stock market crash as an “avalanche” in economic behavior. In the 1980s physicist Per Bak and his colleagues originated the term “avalanche” in reference to his famous sand pile analogy to explain the behavior of a fractal system that has self-organized to a “critical state.”

This is an increasingly popular theme with econophysicists. For example, European geophysicist Didier Sornette founded the Financial Crisis Observatory in Zurich and developed his “Crash Risk Index” to monitor the approach of market-related critical states. Researchers at Oxford University, the Santa Fe institute, and elsewhere envision a super-ABM — by linking many ABM modules — that can anticipate avalanches across the globe.

Although the details in some physics-based models are proprietary (because of their commercial potential), the physics of finance has achieved significant success and recently even became a marketing tool. The Paris-based Capital Fund Management, whose chair is physicist Jean-Philippe Bouchaud, prominently features this on their website:

Research in the statistical properties of financial instruments and the development of systematic trading strategies are carried out at CFM by a team of Ph.D’s, most of them former physicists from prestigious international institutions …

And we should remember that on September 15, 2008, Scientific American magazine republished an article by Benoit Mandelbrot (who originated the concept of a fractal) on “How Fractals Can Explain What’s Wrong With Wall Street,” with this note:

This story was originally published in the February, 1999 edition of Scientific American. We are posting it in light of recent news involving Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch.

This is a glimpse of the exponentially expanding world of the physics of finance that provides theoretical support for our empirical model of the Maslow Window. Indeed, Maslow Windows appear increasingly to be the manifestation of “critical states” in the international economic system.

Twice-per-century, rhythmic pulses of unprecedented activity — in great explorations (e.g., Lewis and Clark), monumental macro-engineering projects (e.g., the Panama Canal), and major wars (e.g., World War I) — produce transformational, 1960s-style decades called Maslow Windows powered by “critical states.”

The last one was in the early 1960s and it led to the first human landing on the Moon.

Over the last 200+ years, the approach of a Maslow Window is signaled by a financial panic (e.g., Panic of 1893) that precedes it by 6-7 years. Such panics are now understood as “avalanches” in the complex international economic system due to the development of “critical states” over decades of self-organization.

Based on 200-year patterns, the Panic of 2008 signaled that we were within 6-7 years of the opening of the next Maslow Window (~2015).

Recovery from the Panic/Great Recession duo typically results in a JFK-style economic and technology boom that momentarily creates an “ebullient” population ready to tackle major projects like Apollo despite the rather bumpy road (e.g., Cuban Missile Crisis). The rapid-fire juxtaposition of both “good” (e.g, Apollo, Peace Corps) and “bad” events (e.g., CMC, Cold War) is understood now as characteristic of a complex system in a critical state subject to major avalanches (technological, economic, or geopolitical) in both positive and negative directions. Once in the critical state almost anything can happen.

Our recent statistical study of the costs of NASA space programs — over the history of the agency — showed they are fractal, in the same fundamental sense as financial markets. Thus the fact that Apollo became a featured element of the 1960s is now understood as being due to the development of its critical state.

The ongoing, linked North Korea/Iran nuclear crisis is, in some ways, reminiscent of the Cuban Missile Crisis and signals that the opening of the next Maslow Window is imminent. Just how imminent is still uncertain. Until the JFK-style boom appears the Maslow Window cannot blossom.
For scenarios that lead to a near-term JFK-style boom, click: “State of the Wave: 10 Space Trends for 2013 — Featuring the Approach of the New International Space Age”

Historically, wars and/or major international conflicts punctuate Maslow Windows. For example, the 1960s Maslow Window began with the Cuban Missile Crisis (nearly triggering a nuclear war) and ended as the Vietnam War destroyed any remaining societal ebullience.

This is to be expected because in 1998 geophysicist Donald Turcotte and his colleagues discovered that wars are fractal and subject to self-organized criticality — like financial systems and NASA space programs! According to Turcotte:

World order behaves as a self-organized critical system independent of the efforts made to control and stabilize interactions between people and countries.

The early war/conflict is always smaller than the major war that abruptly terminates the Maslow Window. Widespread affluence-induced ebullience early in the Maslow Window may moderate conflicts at that time, while the terminal war accelerates collapse of the Maslow Window; the classic example is World War I.

The fact that Maslow Windows are bookended by wars and/or major international conflicts is now understood as a natural consequence of the fractal nature of wars and the development of a critical state before and during each Maslow Window.

The fractal nature of financial systems, wars, and NASA space programs informs us why “avalanches” in these entities cluster exclusively during the self-organized critical states of Maslow Windows. Expanded ABM’s will reveal the details of these mutual relationships in time (hopefully!) to illuminate our near-term, 1960s-style transformative future.

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Jul 21 2013

Does “Man of Steel” Support the Rare Earth Hypothesis?

I happened to catch Man of Steel recently and it is definitely one of the best fantasy movies ever made. But, special effects aside, this Superman has one key difference with George Reeves, an earlier MOS who flew into living rooms across America as the first space age was gaining steam.

There was once another Man of Steel who, on small screens in the 1950s, used his superpowers to defend “Truth, Justice, and the American Way.”

The difference is George Reeves never had to contend with General Zod, a super-villain from Superman’s original neck of the woods, Krypton. Although Gen. Zod first appeared on the screen in Superman (1978) and also in Superman II (1980), he really started to get nasty in this movie.

His casual, but deadly approach to stamping out humanity started me wondering if there could be any REAL Gen. Zods out there.

As I’ve documented previously, widespread interest in extraterrestrials — even evil fictional ones — tends to spike as we approach a Maslow Window. The canal-building Martians of Lowell a century ago were part of this trend, as were George Reeves (Adventures of Superman) and the SETI program of Frank Drake in the 1950s and 60s, as are now the discovery of hundreds of extrasolar planets, scientific meetings contemplating ET visits, and cinema like Man of Steel.

But it isn’t just Gen. Zod. For example, Putnam Books is spending big money to exploit the current “renaissance” in popular science fiction (Wall Street Journal, 5/10/13), with Rick Yancey’s The 5th Wave, characterized as an “alien blockbuster invasion.”

Yancey’s aliens would have warmed General Zod’s heart (if he had one); he envisions eradicating humanity in 5 stages “to preserve the planet’s resources.” First is an EMP-style attack that would fry our electronic and communications infrastructure, then trigger large earthquakes that would kill billions, and third release a lethal virus carried by birds (an idea toyed with earlier in a fun 1965 SciFi film with George Maharis, The Satan Bug)… Anyway, you get the idea!

Very popular super-villain entertainment like Man of Steel and The 5th Wave highlight three obvious issues relating to potentially real extraterrestrials:

A major theme of the movie was the extraordinary technology that Gen. Zod and his pals had relative to humans. In one violent encounter, Gen. Zod’s aliens simply flew to an attacking jet, pulled open the cockpit and dragged the pilot out to his death. (Most of us were sitting there eating popcorn thinking it doesn’t matter because Superman will soon take them out … but let’s forget about the “it’s not an S”-guy for a minute.)

In the context of the real Galaxy, it’s a wild sensation to imagine such a demonstration of vulnerability in state-of-the-art human military forces. How should we, as people hoping for a long positive Galactic future, react to such a prospect? This is an important question that is already being openly addressed in the scientific literature.

Near the end of the movie, as they were drumming up interest in MOS sequels, a human general (who obviously had thought about Point 1) asked Superman an important question: How can we know that you (Superman) will always be on the side of humanity?

Let’s get real for a second. While everybody would like to weekend on Alpha Centauri, isn’t it more likely that even well-meaning, “Good” ETs would have a net negative effect on humanity? Contact with highly advanced ETs would involuntarily transform our culture — a complex system subject to the Butterfly Effect — in unintended ways. In the original Star Trek TV series, this gave birth to the Prime Directive.

Imagine a real Zod-style civilization of advanced aliens who casually view humans as a group that should be wiped out — as long as Earth’s resources are preserved! Think how they behaved in Man of Steel. Of course that was only a movie so it was fun, but let’s imagine now that it’s real.

They could easily find us using their galactic network of self-replicating Von Neumann probes (or something even more exciting), and would have no problem terraforming Earth, as they started to in the film. There would be no compunctions like The Prime Directive, only a focus on achieving their alien goals.

If they existed, wouldn’t they already be here by now and wouldn’t we be under attack? If worlds very similar to Earth are rare in our Galaxy — part of the popular Rare Earth Hypothesis which says that high intelligence is very rare in our Galaxy — this doesn’t help our survival chances very much, because, although there will be fewer space aliens out there — it only takes ONE group to come here. And because they’re evil (and Earths are rare), they would come here as we’ve seen above.

This type of Fermi Paradox argument can be used to assert that NASTY space aliens like General Zod do not exist. If they did, they would already be here. And, as in Man of Steel, we would know it.

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Jul 10 2013

Impressions and Implications of the 2013 Roswell UFO Festival

Yesterday Google cutely reminded us of the 66th anniversary of the Roswell UFO event. In the past, although intrigued, I’ve not attended the annual July Roswell UFO festival mainly because Roswell is far away and has very warm summers.

Each year for a few days around July 4, Roswell celebrates and evaluates the most famous UFO event in history. (Images by Bruce Cordell.)

But given the recently high profile of the UFO phenomenon — Citizen Hearing, scientific meetings at the Vatican and the Royal Society — and key people speaking at Roswell (e.g., Dr. Jesse Marcel, Jr.), I decided to take the plunge.

This time Roswell not only had elevated temperatures but also an unusually early and intense monsoon. Both may have conspired to bring the crowd down a little although everyone seemed to enjoying themselves.

In Roswell UFO-related gift shops and bookstores abound. My favorite was “Roswell Landing” where I found a speculative, but interesting book by mathematician and MUFON staffer Don Burleson, about how J. Robert Oppenheimer, father of the A-bomb, may have been directly involved in UFO crash analyses.

My impression of the Roswell demographics was an interesting combination of the younger family-oriented groups you’d encounter at Disneyland plus the more senior folks who frequent WalMart. If you survey the festival’s schedule of events (linked above) you’ll see there was something for everyone from eight to eighty.

A lot of the action took place in the International UFO Museum and Research Center on Main Street. I remember strolling though it shortly after it was founded in 1992. This time it was much more elaborate including an autographed poster of wondrous actress Adrienne Barbeau who was a celebrity guest in 2010.

Friday afternoon in the IUFOMRC North Library well-known Roswell authors Tom Carey and Don Schmitt reiterated their contention that over the last 60+ years the U.S. government has fibbed often about UFOs and especially Roswell.

In particular, since 1947 the government has offered 4 different, official explanations of the Roswell event — the most laughable being a weather balloon! Carey and Schmitt continue to be firmly supportive of the idea that alien bodies were also retrieved at Roswell and expressed particular frustration with the New York Times for showing no interest in witness testimony. Big surprise.

Not being a Roswell expert myself, I’ve always been curious of what became of Roswell base commander Col. Blanchard who sent out the stunning first, but rapidly countermanded press release that indicated the military had retrieved a crashed flying saucer!

Did it hurt his career?

According to Carey/Schmitt, Blanchard shot up the ladder to the Pentagon and became a 4-star general. Shortly thereafter in May, 1966 Gen. Blanchard died “at his desk” of a massive heart attack, while expecting even brighter things in his sadly aborted future. Imagine what the conspiracy theorists of today’s politicized world would make out of that…

The highlight of the UFO Festival for me was Saturday morning at 9:30 am in the Roswell Civic Center Exhibit Hall when Jesse Marcel, Jr., M.D. recounted his story of how, as an eleven-year-old in 1947, he personally examined the debris from the Roswell UFO crash. Dr. Marcel and his daughter are pictured here.

Marcel comes across exactly like I expected him to: smart, authentic, competent, patriotic, and even very personable. It was quite an experience to hear the most celebrated (publicly speaking) living witness to what was apparently the debris of a crashed alien spacecraft. The fact that Marcel later earned an M.D. and became a successful practicing physician is relevant to his current testimony about events in 1947 because it indicates he has an excellent eye and memory for details.

Marcel likes to talk about the strange “mathematics-like” symbols on the I-beams, but I find the extraordinary properties of the “foil”-like materials more compelling. The symbols could have been faked by someone trying to simulate a crash site, but I doubt, even today, if the properties of the materials (as described by Dr. Marcel and his father, intelligence officer of the base) could be duplicated.

Dr. Marcel has no doubt personally that the Roswell debris was from a crashed extraterrestrial spacecraft. Listening to him I began to feel the same way, although I still have serious doubts that are not related to Dr. Marcel. They’re based on new discoveries in astrophysics which suggest that human-level civilizations and Earth-like planets are so complex and unlikely that even in a Galaxy of 300 billion stars we could be the only custodians of high intelligence.

While smart aliens still might exist elsewhere they would need exotic transportation concepts (e.g., wormholes) to come here from other galaxies or even other universes, and would be way, way too sophisticated for clumsy Roswell-style crashes in thunderstorms.

The question is: Can we reconcile new insights about the low probability of Earth-style civilizations based on current astrophysics with Dr. Marcel’s and others’ observations of apparent extraterrestrial technologies and capabilities?

Here are two options (others are possible):
Option I. Dr. Marcel is right!
Roswell is due to an ET spacecraft. This implies that astrophysical cautions about high intelligence in our Galaxy are overestimated and high-tech civilizations exist elsewhere in the Milky Way. It also indicates that extremely advanced civilizations from other galaxies or universes also probably exist and we can expect visits from them, if they aren’t already here.

Option II. Dr. Marcel is wrong.
Roswell debris is not extraterrestrial and thus is probably due to a secret military project. If other suspected UFO crash sites are likewise not ET spacecraft it’s likely that, based on astrophysical insights, we are alone in the Galaxy. Other ultra-advanced extragalactic or extra-universal civilizations may exist and already be here, but would have little in common with us because they are tens- or hundreds- (or more) of thousands of years ahead of us.

Based on non-secret information, my evaluation of the situation is that both options are still potentially viable. And we need more data to resolve them. (Notice that in either case, we expect extremely advanced civilizations to be here, but they would not be expected to contact us directly.)

A dual track of activities like the Citizen Hearing on Disclosure as well as astrophysical studies that illuminate the origin and development of high intelligence (e.g., extrasolar planets) will eventually reveal these cosmic mysteries to everyone.

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Jun 26 2013

Award-Winning British Astrophysicist Throws Cold Water on Smart Aliens

Dr. Paul Murdin of the Institute of Astronomy at Cambridge University, recently published his provocative book, Are We Being Watched (2013). Murdin added the subtitle, “The Search for Life in the Cosmos,” not so much to distinguish it from recent NSA controversies (j/k), but to focus on an issue of great cosmic importance: Are there actually intelligent space aliens out there?

Despite the fact that our Galaxy has hundreds of billions of stars and planets almost everywhere, it isn’t obvious we have company, according to Murdin, who previously identified the first stellar black hole (Cygnus X-1) in our Galaxy.

Murdin, a high-energy astrophysicist who received the 2012 Royal Astronomical Society Award and in 1988 was awarded an OBE (Order of the British Empire), reports doing a one-eighty during the writing of his book and now takes a doubtful view of space aliens, especially those with big brains.

Murdin’s book is interesting in a variety of ways, including that it is strongly consistent with two key trends. The first, a megatrend, is that interest in space aliens (as indicated by science, the media, etc.) increases rapidly as we approach a Maslow Window; Click:Citizen Hearing on Disclosure Supports Maslow Forecasts.”

The second trend is a growing science-based view — based on new science about the Earth, Solar System, and our Galaxy — that we may indeed be alone in our Galaxy; Click: “Is Earth Unique? What this “Benchmark Moment” Means for ETs and our Future

Murdin rightly disposes of the Drake Equation, which astronomers have tried to use for ~50 years to estimate the number (N) of high-tech civilizations in our Galaxy, by quoting ASU physicist Paul Davies who, at a 2011 conference in London, described N as “utterly moot,” and concludes that:

It is an unsatisfactory position to be in after fifty years of hard work…

It’s interesting that Murdin chooses to not mention the the well-known ideas of Richard Gott (the Copernican Argument) or Andrew Watson (anthropic model for development of intelligence) to illuminate N. They support Murdin’s bottomline that N is most likely very small.

I was surprised that Murdin included a description of the Roswell UFO story in a book primarily about astrobiology, and then surprised again when he casually dismissed it (“inconsistencies,” “hoaxes”). Actually some of the compelling testimony associated with Roswell and the strange history of government cover-ups (even self-admitted!) to the present day, make Roswell of continuing interest — although not necessarily in the context of ETs.

The reason is that Murdin’s and others’ science-based belief in small N argues against accidental crashes by clumsy space aliens. Click:New Science and Prospects for Visits By Extraterrestrials.”

Murdin saves his best stuff for the last chapter when he admits that,

I changed my mind as I wrote this book … I began … thinking on general grounds that it was impossible for us to be the only intelligent life in the Cosmos. I was rather surprised to find … that it is conceivable that intelligent life on Earth is, to all intents and purposes, unique.

In the stimulating spirit of the approaching 1960s-style Maslow Window and especially of the Rare Earth Hypothesis, he leaves the door open slightly but continues to point to very low N:

If there is complex life elsewhere , it would seem that it is very rare, quite likely not as advanced as humans (possibly hardly advanced at all), and probably a very long way away indeed.

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May 05 2013

Citizen Hearing on Disclosure Supports Maslow Forecasts

This week’s Congressional-style inquiry into the reality of ET contact with humans was very significant, both in terms of its content and what it reveals about our societal trajectory.

Dr. Jesse Marcel, Jr. — who allegedly examined the Roswell crash debris in 1947 — testified last week at the Citizen Hearing on Disclosure at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.

Running from April 29 to May 3 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., the “Citizen Hearing on Disclosure” — while not perfect — hit a genuine homerun.

Before I get to the details, here’s the context:

A variety of long-term and current indicators — including macroeconomic (financial Panic of 2008), geopolitical (the Iran-North Korea crisis), technology (the Mach 25 X-37B space plane), and others — suggest strongly that we are rapidly approaching a 1960s-style “critical state,” apparently due to self-organization over decades of the international economic system.

Such twice-per-century “critical states” can be traced back to Lewis and Clark and always dramatically change the world. Although typically preceded by financial panics and geopolitical stress, critical states are best seen through Maslow Windows that are triggered by major JFK-style economic booms and driven briefly by the societal euphoria (“ebullience”) that always follows.

The most recent Maslow Window was in the 1960s and featured an extraordinarily diverse agenda typical of critical states including the Cuban missile crisis, Apollo Moon program, and Peace Corps. A similar transformative, albeit bumpy road is expected with the arrival of the next critical state/Maslow Window — by mid-decade.

Over the last 100+ years, public fascination with intelligent life in space has surged as we approached each new Maslow Window; Click: State of the Wave: ETs Surge to Center Stage
And recent interest in UFOs, extra-solar planet discoveries, and now the Citizen Hearing on Disclosure indicate this pattern is continuing.

The CHD featured an unprecedented gathering of 40 of the world’s most significant UFO researchers and witnesses.

My favorite was the Tuesday afternoon panel on tampering with nuclear ICBM launch sites in the U.S.. Four former USAF personnel (including three officers) violated their security oaths (one, Capt. Schindale, for the first time) by describing multiple examples of UFOs hovering around Minuteman launch sites, including instances where ICBMs were mysteriously disabled by the UFO. The men and their stories continue to be believable and the national security implications are obvious and stunning.

The Wednesday afternoon panel on the UFO crash at Roswell in 1947 was good too; it featured the usual riveting suspects — Kevin Randle, Don Schmitt, and Stan Friedman. It’s always impressive to hear Dr. Marcel describe his first-person view, as an 11-year old, of the Roswell debris that his father brought home directly from the crash site.

During the week, several participants were invited to speculate on rationales for the multi-decade UFO cover-up by the U.S. government. The suggestions ranged from military technology to new game-changing energy sources.

However, on the Friday “Truth Embargo” session, historian-researcher Richard Dolan recounted two stories of the very disturbed emotional states that former President Jimmy Carter and (later) a high-level Reagan official appeared to be in after receiving key classified information regarding the nature of UFOs. Dolan speculated that a fear-factor may also be involved in the cover-up.

The CHD organizers hope that increased exposure of the facts about UFOs to the media and the public will trigger a true Congressional investigation into what the government and all its retired members actually know about UFOs.

And it’s likely the CHD will be a key step in that direction as we begin to become engulfed by the 1960s Camelot-style ebullience of the approaching Maslow Window.

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