Friday, June 22, 2018

Don't Call Us and We Won't Call You!

"The Dark Forest solution explains why we haven’t heard from aliens by positing that they are purposefully keeping quiet.

The reasoning is laid out best in the science fiction novel The Dark Forest, by Liu Cixin. The plot of the book, the second in a series, concerns questions of how to best interact with potentially hostile alien life.

In the novel, the argument is laid out like this: 

  • All life desires to stay alive.
  • There is no way to know if other lifeforms can or will destroy you if given a chance.
  • Lacking assurances, the safest option for any species is to annihilate other life forms before they have a chance to do the same.

Since all other lifeforms in the novel are risk-averse and willing to do anything to save themselves, contact of any kind is dangerous, as it almost assuredly would lead to the contacted race wiping out whoever was foolish enough to give away their location. This leads to all civilizations attempting to hide in radio silence."


Radio signals or no radio signals, the really "terrifying" proposition here is that all ET races are as brutal, ignorant, paranoid and insensitive as the human race is.

My feeling is that if an ET species has evolved enough to be capable of detecting the presence of other civilizations and/or physically reaching distant planets, etc., then, chances are they're far more intelligent, their machines are smarter, and they're developed psychically enough to realize that it's not worth the risk of landing on planets like Earth. At least not in any obvious way.

The kill-or-be-killed method of survival is, after all, the modus operandi for only the lowest on the food chain. The highest, on the other hand... well, they'd probably ignore our signals, and, chances are, we couldn't even detect theirs!

(Note: this post is kind of an interim post till I get around to the last Voynich installment. But, I also wanted to mention the solstice in passing. Yes, the longest day of the year is now behind us, so, here's wishing us all a little summer satisfaction!)

Monday, June 18, 2018

The Voynich Manuscript (Part 3a) - The Star

Three classic versions of the "The Star" tarot card, 17th of the 22 trumps.
From left to right: "Hope" from the Visconti Bergamo deck, 1452; "L'√Čtoile" from the Tarot de Marseilles (Pierre Madenie), 1709; "The Star," Rider-Waite deck, 1910.
(Click on images for enlargements throughout the post.)

"Early tarot images may seem exotic to us, but they were very familiar to 15th century card players from wall frescoes, illustrated books, plays and pageants. From the start, all tarot decks exhibited a great deal of consistency. They all had the same twenty-two images we’re familiar with, and no other. For instance, the Star card could depict an astronomer, the Magi following the star of Bethlehem, or a woman holding up a star; but the card was easily recognizable as illustrating the concept of Star."

- An excerpt from the Tarot Heritage article: Italian Tarot in the 15th Century. Inset right: The Star from the contemporary Silver Era Tarot.

"The 14th and 15th centuries were a major period of popularity for alchemy, which continued into the 16th and 17th centuries. Alchemical works used a combination of text and pictures. It presented its material in discreet stages, many with accompanying illustrations, with both a spiritual and a material goal. The stages usually involved symbolic death, transformation, and spiritual rebirth...

... Some surviving alchemical texts antedated or were contemporaneous with the first tarot. The Turbo Philosophorum, an anthology of Arabic sources, was part of the Visconti Library in Milan. A so-called "Arnaldian" work (from Arnald of Villanova) called the Rosarium Philosophorum existed in manuscript by the end of the 14th century... illustrated versions circulated by 1400, called 'Rosarium cum figuris'."

- Excerpt from the introduction to Tarot and Alchemy: Two Parallel Traditions, 2012, Michael S. Howard.

"Secrecy is virtually inseparable from alchemy.  Already in the Greco-Egyptian period, alchemists had devised ways of speaking to hide the very information they claimed to transmit.  They used “cover names” to conceal the identity of key ingredients, and called one substance by many different names and many different substances by a single name.  This culture of secrecy had partly been inherited naturally from the craft traditions that sired alchemy, where keeping proprietary secrets was equivalent to maintaining one’s livelihood.  But the secrecy that accompanied alchemy from its origins intensified in the Middle Ages."

- Excerpt (and inset images) from Primer 2 - Alchemy (.pdf), 2013, by Lawrence M. Principe and Laura Light. The subject matter of the photograph above (inset left above): three alchemical miniatures (circa 1450-1475) from Southern Germany or Austria. Inset right is the cover of a MS from Northern Italy (circa 1425-1450) which is described as including: "Recipes and Extracts on Alchemy, Medicine, Metal-Working, Cosmetics, Veterinary Science, Agriculture, Wine-making, and other subjects." Although difficult to see, the beaded metal work on the leather binding is in the shape of a six-pointed star within a circle. For an  investigation of the alchemical meaning of the six-fold star see: The Restoration of Symmetry: The Philosopher's Stone.


From the Voynich MS: the top portion of the zodiac page for Scorpio featuring
4 nymphs (apparently named). Two other zodiac pages also feature this same
arrangement of nymphs placed outside and above the chart: Gemini & Sagittarius.

One of the most striking things about the Voynich MS is the almost obsessive repetition of what must be one of its key figures: the naked (skyclad) blonde nymphs who (more or less) hold large stars aloft with their left hands. They appear in the majority of the zodiac pages in varying numbers, marching clock-wise around the charts, and although a handful of male figures* appear as well - inset left is one male nymph amid the females on the Gemini page - for the most part the star-bearers are women... and women of all ages. Although their appearances change somewhat throughout the zodiac sequence, there seems to be no obvious rhyme nor reason for their presence except to possibly establish the importance of their presence. Once again, they seem to have been individually named - like the bathing nymphs in Part 2 - and, in light of this possibility, I'm inclined to tentatively agree with Voynich researcher Claudette Cohen in that the authors were, in fact, a group of actual women whom the nymphs represent... a sort of Sisterhood of the Star. Well, that's one of the more plausible interpretations anyway.

But, what's most odd about the star-bearing nymphs is that they are uncannily familiar, similar to an esoteric figure that, certainly, some of us have encountered before: the nude, blonde woman with a star (or stars) on the 17th trump card of the tarot: The Star. The interesting thing about The Star is that it corresponds with the astrological sign of Aquarius, the Water Bearer, which just happens to be one of the Zodiac pages missing from the manuscript. (The other is allegedly Capricorn.**) In any case, as you can see in the three versions of the card introducing this post, in the first and oldest image (first documented in the mid-15th century), the position of "Hope" - inset left - who is cloaked and holding a star aloft - is similar to that of the nymphs. One gets the impression that this symbolic figure may have had an even older precedent...

Monday, June 11, 2018

Life on Mars... sort of... theoretically speaking... one of these days!

The bottom of the Martian lake that became Gusev Crater.
(Photo Credit: NASA/JPL and the Spirit Rover.)
(Click images to enlarge.)

"NASA’s Curiosity rover has found new evidence preserved in rocks on Mars that suggests the planet could have supported ancient life, as well as new evidence in the Martian atmosphere that relates to the search for current life on the Red Planet. While not necessarily evidence of life itself, these findings are a good sign for future missions exploring the planet’s surface and subsurface."

- From the NASA report: NASA Finds Ancient Organic Material, Mysterious Methane on Mars.

"No, NASA hasn’t discovered life on Mars yet—but a new result makes it seem like maybe, at some point in the planet’s history, the conditions were ripe for some extraterrestrial beings. Maybe.

The scientists behind experiments conducted by the Curiosity rover are today reporting two results that make the Red Planet’s story even more interesting. One group found carbon-containing organic matter in 3.5-billion-year-old rock. Another noticed the methane levels around Curiosity varied by the season. Combined, these results present tantalizing hints of a potentially habitable Martian past.

From everything we can tell of the chemistry and the minerals deposited in the Gale crater where Curiosity is stationed, “we think it was a habitable environment,” Jennifer Eigenbrode from the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center told Gizmodo. “It had the ability to support life—but doesn’t mean life were (sic) there.”

- From the Mars News report: Curiosity Rover Finds 3.5-Billion-Year-Old Organic Compounds and Strange Methane on Mars.


I wasn't going to bother posting the latest NASA "news"... in spite of the hype... because it isn't really new news, is it? Is it just me or are those cats from NASA like a bunch of little boys (and several girls) in a sandbox hoping to extend their playtime for as long as possible? Or, maybe, just maybe, they're just playing with our emotions? Okay, maybe it's just me.

More Gusev. (Sol 13)
(Photo Credit: NASA/JPL and the Spirit Rover.)

In any case, I decided to post the "news" anyway... because it gave me a good excuse to post more old Spirit photos. As it stands, the alleged (new) methane was found in a lake bed in Gale Crater. Ah, but lots of "things" were found in the lake bed that became Gusev Crater... and that was 13 years ago.

More Gusev. (Sol 12)
(Photo Credit: NASA/JPL and the Spirit Rover.)

Anyway, in the past, I posted Spirit photos here and here... indicating a number of suspicious objects. Well, I'm posting a few more pan-cam shots... but, apart from some inorganic objects you may have noted from the previous posts, I'll let you determine what's a rock and what's not a rock!

Meanwhile, Part 3 of the Voynich series will follow shortly! But, before I forget, here's a related Mars-news video: Woops, Did NASA Mean to Say That??? 

More Gusev. (Sol 12) 
And, yes, it does look like there's a letter "B" on one of the objects.
But, no, I don't really think that the near-central object is a skull,
do you?
(Photo Credit: NASA/JPL and the Spirit Rover.)