Sunday, July 7, 2019

A Red Ale for a Red Planet

The label for Phobos beer - released as a seasonal ale in 2015 by
the Ecliptic Brewing Co. based in Oregon.

"Hopped entirely with citrusy, tropical Azacca hops, Phobos is named after the Martian moon that circles the Red Planet. Eight types of malts were used to give this beer a deep caramel flavor and rich red color that would make Old Man Mars proud. Phobos finishes creamy and smooth."

- Commercial description for Phobos single hop red ale found here.

"Good appearance, dark red-brown with foamy head. The aroma is mild earthiness, not a whole lot there. The taste is much more complex. Chocolate, spice, alcohol, caramel, bread, a bitter finish. A bit of citrus in the taste. This is an odd, but satisfying beer. For a single hop beer, I expected the hops to be the focus, but Phobos is all about the malt. A lot of chocolate and dark caramel flavors, even a hint of dark fruit. If I was closing my eyes I might even call it a stout. Very tasty overall, just much different than your average red ale."

"22oz bottle served in a tall pub glass. Beer pours surprisingly cola brown in color, merely tinged with red, and forms a thick pillowy foam. Even more surprising is the pronounced coffee malt aroma. I was excited to try this beer because, while I'm not often excited by red ales, I don't think I've ever tasted Azacca hops before, and I approve of single hop brews. There is an edge of hop bitterness here, but it's not the center of this moon's orbit. Instead, this beer is all about a complex and interesting malt profile, with great balance of flavors, roasty and nutty notes of coffee, toffee. Recommended."

- Two reviews of Phobos found here.

"Phobos is named after the Greek god Phobos, a son of Ares (Mars) and Aphrodite (Venus) and the personification of fear (cf. phobia). Phobos has also been proposed as an early target for a manned mission to Mars because a landing on Phobos would be considerably less difficult and expensive than a landing on the surface of Mars itself. A lander bound for Mars would need to be capable of atmospheric entry and subsequent return to orbit, without any support facilities (a capacity that has never been attempted in a manned spacecraft), or would require the creation of support facilities in-situ (a "colony or bust" mission); a lander intended for Phobos could be based on equipment designed for lunar and asteroid landings. Additionally, the delta-v to land on Phobos and return is only 80% of that for a trip to and from the surface of the Moon, partly due to Phobos's very weak gravity."

- Excerpt from the Wiki entry for Phobos, where both photos of the Martian moon were sourced.

A close-up of Phobos. Note the weird, white "stretch mark" pattern 
on the foreground surface, right above an oddly blurred area.

"Mars has two natural satellites: Deimos and Phobos; the latter orbits Mars closer than any other moon orbiting the other planets in the solar system, and it’s currently undergoing a process known as orbital decay.

In short, this means that Phobos is slowly drifting closer to Mars over time. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this has an impact on the gravitational pull between Mars and Phobos. As this tug strengthens, the tidal forces exerted on Phobos are increased, and this quite literally tears the moon apart.

Phobos’ surface is covered in strange lines, and according to planetary scientists, these are ‘stretch marks’ that result from the tidal forces that are being exerted on the moon as it orbits Mars. If the moon’s orbital decay continues at its current rate, then the moon could be destroyed in the next several million years, resulting in a planetary ring around Mars."

- Excerpt from this June, 2019 article: Can We Prevent Phobos' Inevitable Demise?


Well, Phobos (the beer) has been around for 4 years, but I never heard of it till recently. But the minute I did, well, it goes without saying... (Thanks, BG!)

In spite of the photo inset left, Mac wasn't actually much of a beer-drinker... coffee was his drink of choice... morning, noon, and night. But, something tells me he would've loved this ale even if only for the label. Then again, who knows, some people think it has a "coffee-malt aroma"... he might've become a fan!

Needless to say, there hasn't been anything particularly earth-shattering in the news these days... a tease here and there... but mostly just recycled old stuff. For instance, I recently saw an article which claims that there's been a "Parallel universe breakthrough." See here and here. Big Think has an article about it, too. But, then I notice The Guardian was reporting something similar last year. The most interesting bit I found was actually news in 2014:

"New data suggests that it may be plausible that one of those parallel universes could be bumping into ours. The ESA's Planck telescope has discovered very bright light at the edge of our universe that really shouldn't be there. It's brighter than we would expect it to be, and the idea is that the light could be spilling in from another parallel universe bumping into ours."

Well, at least that sounds fairly cosmic.

I'll comfort myself with the thought that somewhere out there in the multiverse - and maybe right this minute - Mac is nursing a mug of Phobos.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

The Day of the Jellyfish

Birthday Cake by Salvador Dali? No, a "Flower Hat" jellyfish by Mother Nature.
(Click-on images for enlargements.)

I was'nt  planning on posting these lovelies till June 1st, but it appears neither they (nor my muse) could wait. And, no, one doesn't question these things. So, here they are from top to bottom: the Flower Hat jelly, the Black Sea Nettle, and the ultra-violet Halitrephes jelly (often referred to online as the "Fireworks" jelly). The first two photos were sourced from this article in which we learn:

"Scientists have discovered jellyfish fossil snapshots in rocks believed to be more than 500 million years old. That makes them even older than dinosaurs!"

Photo credit: Aurelien Guichard

Which kind of alerts us to the possibility that jellyfish know things that we don't! The thing is, allegedly, jellyfish do not have brains. But, then again, it sort of appears as if jellyfish are brains... alien brains, but brains nonetheless.

And, don't argue with me.

Speaking of aliens, however, while searching around for the most amazing jellyfish I could find, I found this article: The Sky is Alive; Are Many UFOs Atmospheric Creatures?, a reposting of a Fortean Times article. If you go there - and you should - you'll find a photo of a UFO flying over Denmark in 1974 which looks, well, exactly like an airborne jellyfish. So, are some UFOs atmospheric organisms? I don't know... but, I once created a tiny planet which did have an ocean-like atmosphere and did have weird marine-like creatures flying around.
Anyway, it's a cool concept whether technically true or not.*

Meanwhile, I was finally able to embed a moving picture in a blog-post again - absolutely NO thanks to Youtube - and, really, if this little perpetual film clip of the Halitrephes-in-motion doesn't make your day, you should definitely go back to bed (and start all over again)! ;-)

(Note: The video below should start playing automatically. If it doesn't, try clicking it.)

via MEME

For more great jellyfish shots, try this page.


* On the topic of UFOs, here are 2 excerpts from a May 27 CBS News article: U.S. Navy pilots reportedly spotted UFOs over East Coast.

"Some U.S. Navy pilots reported seeing unidentified flying objects while training over the East Coast in 2014 and 2015 in interviews with The New York Times. According to The Times, multiple Navy pilots spotted "strange objects" with "no visible engine" reaching 30,000 feet and going hypersonic speeds...

According to the report, the pilots who reported the aerial phenomena "speculated that the objects were part of some classified and extremely advanced drone program." In another instance, one pilot told Lt. Graves that he "almost hit one of those things" and that he described it as looking 'like a sphere encasing a cube.'"

Of course, like much UFO news, this story comes out years after the fact. In this case, five years. Oh well. CNN also has an interview.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Vale, Stanton Friedman

Mac Tonnies and Stan Friedman at the 2006
New Frontiers Symposium in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

"The American-born nuclear physicist turned full-time UFO investigator - or ufologist - never actually spotted a flying saucer himself in more than six decades of research on the subject... But UFO believers and enthusiasts around the world held him in high regard, and he gave more than 700 lectures titled “Flying Saucers Are Real” at institutions in the U.S., Canada, the U.K. and elsewhere over the course of his career.

Throughout his career, Friedman was aggressive about his beliefs and always claimed to have an answer to whatever question the “debunkers” - as he often referred to UFO skeptics - could throw at him. One of his most famous sayings was: “Don't be an apologist ufologist.”

The editor of UFO Truth Magazine, Gary Heseltine, described Friedman as the 'greatest ufologist of all time.'"

- Excerpt from a Newsweek article reporting on the passing of Stanton Friedman, May 13th of this year.

"Despite intermittent correspondence and having read his books, I'd never actually seen Stan Friedman in person until the Symposium. It was worth the wait. Stan's a virtuoso speaker and makes a provocative case against both the "SETI cultists" (his term -- and an apt one) and the "noisy negativists" who deride the possibility that some UFOs could very well be extraterrestrial craft. Regardless of your take on the Roswell incident, one of Friedman's pet cases, there are few, if any, rational arguments against his modest proposition that technological progress comes from doing things in unexpected ways."

- Mac Tonnies from an October 18, 2006 PHB post.

"In "TOP SECRET/MAJIC," Friedman provides a detailed examination of the Roswell UFO crash and subsequent cover-up, challenging the reader with an exhaustive analysis of the "MJ-12" documents: apparent TOP SECRET documents detailing security procedures in the wake of the Roswell Incident. Friedman also tears into the criticisms of arch-debunkers Philip Klass and Carl Sagan. "TOP SECRET/MAJIC" includes the never-before-published "SOM1-01" MJ-12 manual, an apparent "field guide" to extraterrestrial crash recovery leaked to writer Don Berliner ("Crash at Corona"). Friedman remains a voice worth hearing."

- Mac's review of Stanton Friedman's TOP SECRET/ MAJIC found on his website page: UFO Book Reviews.

"Paul Kimball's posted another excellent clip of ufologist Stan Friedman. While I agree with Friedman on relatively little when it comes to the nature and ultimate meaning of specific UFO encounters (such as Roswell or the Hill abduction), his ability to cast light on the bureaucratic and media implications of the phenomenon in general is always engaging. I saw him speak (for free) last year and would gladly pay to see him again -- even knowing I'd find myself objecting to many of his conclusions."

- Mac Tonnies from a September 07, 2007 PHB post.


I was over at Radio Misterioso earlier today and was sad when I read Greg Bishop's most recent posting and learned of Stan Friedman's death. (See: Stanton Friedman - Recollections.) It's like the official ending of an era... the "Old Guard" of early UFO researchers who, on occasion, still let slip antiquated terms like "flying saucer."

But, I think few would deny that Stanton Friedman will always be remembered as one of the Greats of ufology and, in my eyes, he was the first person - a former physicist - to give any real credibility to UFOs. 20 years ago he was the go-to guy for any serious discussion regarding extraterrestrials - on television or otherwise. In other words, it was men like Stan who brought the subject of UFOs to the public's attention.

Mac always admired and respected Stan, and I sensed that, regardless of their differences of opinion, he felt a type of affection for him. Stanton Friedman had a great investigative mind, wit, and a sense of humor that will be missed in the field of ufology.

(Happy trails to you, Mr. Friedman.)

(Of note: Nick Redfern has also posted about Stan here. And Paul Kimball announced Stan's retirement last year with a review of his long career. Incidentally, Mac's cartoon which appears on the cover of the second Posthuman Blues compilation is a caricature of Stan and can also be found here.)

(Additional links - 5/23/2019.) I had reason to use the library computers today and finally got to visit my old favorite site, the Daily Grail. My obsolete computer system prevents me from visiting about 50% of what's on the web now. Anyway, while there I found a nice tribute to Stan Friedman by Red Pill Junkie from May 15th, and news of another tribute by the New York Times (which I also can't access anymore). (BTW, guys, love that new DG logo of yours... and if it isn't new, well, then I guess I've been away too long.)

(Recently found at Mysterious Universe: Legendary Physicist and UFO Researcher Stanton Friedman Dies at 84.)

Saturday, May 4, 2019

The Message is Clear

Just visited the Art Shaman's Shop and had so much fun, I thought I thought I'd share it with you.

Never been to Roswell, New Mexico? I haven't, and I live in NM. Anyway, well, now here's your big chance!

Meanwhile, BG's doing some great new stuff; ancient future artifacts he refers to as Isotopic Icons (starting here). There's something very, shall we say, hermetic about these figures... and prescient.  In many ways we might very well be seeing a resurgence of hermeticism in the near future. It isn't as if the world is going backwards; it's merely going to a new level... a new Aeon. So, if things really look like hell for awhile - and this is nothing new - don't be alarmed, the Ouroboros is just shedding its skin.

But, ssshhhh, keep it under your hat.

Preferably, one of these...

Credit for all sculpture and photographs in this post:
© 2019, BG Dodson.

No, your eyes do not deceive you... They've landed, and their message is clear: "Have some fun, you foolish earthlings!"

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Capturing a Massive Black Hole

A halo of gas surrounding a black hole.
(Note: this is not an artist's rendering.)

"No single telescope is powerful enough to image the black hole. So, in the biggest experiment of its kind, Prof Sheperd Doeleman of the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics led a project to set up a network of eight linked telescopes. Together, they form the Event Horizon Telescope and can be thought of as a planet-sized array of dishes.
Each is located high up at a variety of exotic sites, including on volcanoes in Hawaii and Mexico, mountains in Arizona and the Spanish Sierra Nevada, in the Atacama Desert of Chile, and in Antarctica.

A team of 200 scientists pointed the networked telescopes towards M87 and scanned its heart over a period of 10 days. The information they gathered was too much to be sent across the internet. Instead, the data was stored on hundreds of hard drives that were flown to a central processing centres in Boston, US, and Bonn, Germany, to assemble the information. Prof Doeleman described the achievement as 'an extraordinary scientific feat.'
'We have achieved something presumed to be impossible just a generation ago,' he said.

Prof Heino Falcke, of Radboud University in the Netherlands, who proposed the experiment, told BBC News that the black hole was found in a galaxy called M87. 'What we see is larger than the size of our entire Solar System,' he said. 'It has a mass 6.5 billion times that of the Sun. And it is one of the heaviest black holes that we think exists. It is an absolute monster, the heavyweight champion of black holes in the Universe.'"

- From the April 10th BBC report: First ever black hole image released.

"The physicist Stephen Hawking's greatest early-career contribution to physics was the idea of 'Hawking radiation' - that black holes aren't actually black, but emit small amounts of radiation over time. The result was hugely important, because it showed that once a black hole stops growing, it will start to very slowly shrink from the energy loss.

But the Event Horizons Telescope didn't confirm or deny this theory, Bonning said, not that anyone expected it to. Giant black holes like the one in Virgo A, she said, emit only minimal amounts of Hawking radiation compared to their overall size. While our most advanced instruments can now detect the bright lights of their event horizons, there's little chance that they will ever tease out the ultra-dim glow of a supermassive black hole's surface.

So what did we actually learn from this image?

First, physicists learned that Einstein was right, once again. The edge of the shadow, as far as the Event Horizons Telescope can see, is a perfect circle, just as physicists in the 20th century working with Einstein's equations of general relativity predicted. 'I don't think anyone should be surprised when yet another test of general relativity passes,' Bonning said. 'If they had walked on stage and said that general relativity had broken, I would have fallen off my chair.'

The result with more immediate, practical implications, she said, was that the image enabled scientists to precisely measure the mass of this supermassive black hole, which sits 55 million light-years away at the heart of the Virgo A galaxy."

- From the April 10th LiveScience article: 3 Huge Questions the Black Hole Image Didn't Answer.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

RIP Opportunity Rover

Photo of the Mars Opportunity rover, found on the
Opportunity/Spirit Rover's Twitter page.

Credit for photos in this post:  NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell University.

Mars Rover Opportunity Is Dead After Record-Breaking 15 Years on Red Planet

"Opportunity roamed the Martian surface for nearly a decade and a half, covering more than a marathon's worth of ground and finding conclusive evidence that the Red Planet hosted large bodies of liquid water in the ancient past. The golf-cart-size rover and its twin, Spirit, also helped bring Mars down to Earth, in the minds of scientists and laypeople alike.

Spirit and Opportunity 'have made Mars a familiar place,' Opportunity project manager John Callas, of JPL, told last year, a few months after the dust storm flared up. 'When we say, 'our world,' we're no longer just talking about the Earth. We have to include parts of Mars as well.'"

- Excerpt from's obituary for NASA's Opportunity Rover (linked-to above) which fell silent in June of last year and, alas, never recovered. Here's NASA's announcement.

An early Opportunity Pan-cam shot of Meridiani Planum.
(Click-on images to enlarge.)

"The NASA Rover science team mission was to find evidence of water on Mars. They found it and their proofs, images and scientific analysis were superb and they seemed to have nailed it at 100%.Their mission was not to say, 'Oh, this sort of looks like a fossil, whadidja think?' That's what I am saying here. They can't say that. I notice now that they have found water, their senior scientists are relaxinga bit and will say 'Wouldn't this be a good place to look for fossils? Look how well everything is preserved.'To make a scientifically valuable decision about life on Mars you would have to go there with a gas analysis spectrometer and do counts and ratios for isotope carbon-12 and 13 and look for amino acids and other distinctive biological signatures. Maybe they are waiting for a mission with that kind of equipment or a mission that will return some sample soil and rocks. In any case I congratulate NASA MER team and the American people on their great contribution to planetary science."

- Canadian, Michael Davidson, from his 2004 article: Mars Fossils, Pseudofossils or Problematica? (via Posthuman Blues).

 "I previously wrote that JPL was developing an anything-but-scientific immunity to the unexpected. Apparently rocks are fair game -- but only if they resemble terrestrial rocks. Rocks with "varnished" surfaces or geometric cavities must be avoided -- perhaps because they look just a bit too organic, like chunks of bone or petrified wood where such things have no business being. Oddly colored snail-shapes are studiously avoided because, in the words of one JPL scientist, taking a close look would "waste precious machine time." He failed to note that the anomaly in question was directly in front of the Opportunity rover, starkly unavoidable. In the scheme of the rover's mission, taking a closer look would have been virtually effortless. Instead, Opportunity was (presumably) steered directly over the strange formation; JPL has taken to literally running over what it can't explain, like a monster truck imperviously crushing a line-up of decrepit cars.

- Mac Tonnies from a February 7, 2004 Posthuman Blues post. Inset right is an Opportunity shot of Erebus Crater found here. Other Posthuman Blues posts regarding Opportunity can be found here, and here.


Time was when any new data from Mars spawned a whole lot of controversy, and Mac was generally on-board with that. Nothing fell under his radar, so to speak, and, well, we all had a lot of fun hypothesizing about the latest Martian "find." But, those were the good old days. Nowadays, I'm not sure if anybody cares... although I noted there were plenty of nostalgic articles popping up yesterday regarding the passing of the Opportunity rover. Here's a video (via the Washington Post).

Remember Opportunity's great discovery: the Martian "Blueberries"? Well, they weren't blue, actually... it was just NASA's use of false coloration. As for the name, well it was an effective way of both popularizing them and trivializing them. There were those, however, who thought the odd spherules (inset right) were a sign of water and even life. As it happens, similar small, round concretions exist on earth, too. See this 2018 article.

Anyway, Mac wasn't altogether jaded and truculent when it came to NASA/JPL's press releases. Posted on Posthuman Blues a few days earlier in February of 2004 (re: his previous quote) was this:

"This panorama just might qualify as my favorite image ever returned from the surface of Mars. At 9 MB, it's big, with an epic quality that's hard to put into words. In the foreground you can see several "crop circles" where the lander's airbags disturbed the surface as it rolled down the incline; it's amusing to think that we're the aliens here, modifying the landscape in ways that would mystify any native onlookers. The protruding bedrock looks suggestively like the ruined vertebrae of some impossible creature, compacted and exhumed by wind. If you look at this image long enough -- and there's plenty to see and contemplate -- you get a vertiginous sense of actually being there that surpasses any virtual reality interface I have yet to sample. This small slice of Mars is redolent with history, infused with a timelessness and mystery that even Earth's natural wonders fail to evoke. In a word: Wow."

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Welcome to the ABYSS - (May 26, 2019 Update)

A tiny region of space in the Fornax constellation
via an imaging technique known as ABYSS.
(Click to  enlarge.)

"A few years ago, the Hubble Space Telescope did something amazing: over the course of 841 orbits and hundreds of exposures, it imaged a tiny region of space in the constellation of Fornax, peeling back the layers of time by 13 billion years, to just a few hundred million years after the Big Bang.

It's called the Hubble Ultra-Deep Field 2014 (HUDF), and it's one of the most breathtaking mosaics the telescope has produced. In it, around 10,000 galaxies gleam - a feast for astronomers exploring the early Universe.

Now a team of astronomers has made the image even better. Over the course of three years, scientists at the Instituto de Astrof√≠sica de Canarias (IAC) developed and applied an image processing technique designed to draw out the unseen light in the HUDF.

They called this complex technique ABYSS, and with it they have recovered the dim light from the outer edges of the largest galaxies in the image."

- Image and quote from the January 25th, 2019  Science Alert article by Michelle Starr: Astronomers Have Made a Breathtaking Image Staring Deeper Into Space Than Ever Before. (Hat-tip to Graham Hancock.)


(Update, May 26, 2019)

Oddly enough, I never did make this a formal posting... as if I was unconsciously waiting for the precise moment to finish it. And, I guess that moment is now.

As it worked out, I was recently looking through an old stargazing book when I found that the constellation of Fornax was originally named (by the French astronomer Nicolas Louis de Lacaillele Fourneau Chymique (the Chemical Furnace), and graphically described as an alembic - an alchemical still - in his early catalogue. Of course, had I had the time to really read the Wiki entry, I would have known this... in other words I didn't do my homework! Below is an illustration of the original constellation, a portion of a graphic found in the Wiki article.

le Fourneau Chymique (the Chemical Furnace)

Cool! A tribute to alchemy... high up in the starry, starry sky.

The article also tells us that Chinese astronomers located Fornax in the area of the firmament they referred to as the White Tiger of the West. They referred to the constellation itself as the "heaven furnace" constellation.

And, this is all very interesting... especially as modern astronomers have located 6 star-systems which have planets in Fornax... and it makes this blogger wonder what Lacaille and his predecessors may have intuited was cooking up there in the Heavenly Alembic they both created and described.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

The First Plant on the Moon

A cotton plant sprout on the "dark side" of the moon.

"Seeds Just Sprouted On The Moon For The First Time In History

In a development that will likely have huge implications for the future of space travel, China’s Chang’e 4 lunar lander successfully managed to plant and sprout cotton seeds on the Moon. This of course marks the first time that a plant has ever grown on the Moon, with the seeds naturally sprouting in a specially designed and concealed container. Incidentally, the Chang’e 4 lander first touched down on the far side of the Moon earlier this month, an impressive achievement in and of itself."

In making the announcement Tuesday, Chinese researchers released pictures from the probe showing the tiny plant growing in a small pot inside the spacecraft, hundreds of thousands of kilometers away from the Earth."

-  Excerpt from a Yahoo article found today which has since disappeared (?), but for other news sources see: The Daily Mail's: One giant leaf for mankind!, the BBC's China's Moon mission sees first seeds sprout,'s Cotton Seed Sprouts on the Moon's Far Side in Historic First by China's Chang'e 4, or CNN's China might just have grown the first plant ever on the moon.


Chang'e, the Moon Goddess.

Well, thus far, I haven't been able to say that 2019 has kicked off too encouragingly... that is, until I found the above article this morning which actually brought a smile to my grim and half-conscious face. But then, I sort of love everything about China's recent moon mission, because it ties in so enchantingly with Chinese mythology and folklore.

The lunar mission's name Chang'e is the name of their Moon Goddess (above), the immortal maiden who lives on the moon. The lunar rover, on the other hand, is named Yotu, the Jade Rabbit who lives on the moon as a companion to Chang'e, mixing her an elixir of mortality (inset right, sourced here) under an osmanthus tree; a symbol of good luck to humans on earth. As it stands, while we interpret the markings on the moon to represent a "Man," the Chinese see those same markings as a rabbit, the Rabbit on the Moon.

I note, in an earlier article about the mission, Chinese scientists had intended to send some silkworm eggs. I don't know how I feel about that. In ways, plants and silkmoths alone on the moon seems eerily romantic. in other ways it seems cruel.

BTW, apparently, in 2013, NASA had plans for Moon plants (see here).