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The 13 Crystal Skulls - with photo's 01/16/2011
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Jim Kelly

Patriot Freedom
The 13 Crystal Skulls - with photo's
One of archaeology's most compelling mysteries is that of the 13 Crystal Skulls.  Skulls have been one of the most powerful objects of symbolism in human history, all over the world.  Several "perfect" crystal Skulls have been found in parts of Mexico, Central and South America.  Together, they form a mystery as enigmatic as the Nazca Lines, the Great Pyramids and Stonehenge. 

These skulls are believed to be between 5000 and 35000 years old.  During early expeditions, archaeologists were told by locals that the skulls possessed magical powers and healing properties.  However, people were unsure as to where they came from, or even why they existed.  Some like to believe that these were remains from the lost civilization of Atlantis.  Others like to believe these are fakes.  And yet another group of psychics believe that these skulls have the capability to enable us to look into the past, present and future. 

Historians and social anthropologists decided to find out more about the strange skulls. Very soon, they came across an ancient Indian legend saying that there had been thirteen crystal skulls of the Goddess of Death; they had been kept separately from each other under the strict control of pagan priests and special warriors.

Searches for more skulls started; some of them were found in museums and some in private collections not only in the USA, but in Mexico, Brazil, France, Mongolia, and in Tibet. There were more than 13 skulls found. However, not all of them were as perfect as Mitchell-Hedges- was. Very likely, those were just later attempts to create something similar to the original skulls that were believed to have been gifts by God to the people.

The very construction and make of the skulls defies common logic.  There are several crystal skulls in existence today around the world.  We start off with the most famous one: The Mitchell-Hedges Skull.

The Mitchell-Hedges Skull

As the story goes, the skull was first discovered by the expedition headed by famous English archeologist F. Albert Mitchell-Hedges in Central America in 1927. Before that, the archeologist started clearing an ancient Maya settlement in a damp tropical jungle in Yucatan (British Honduras at that time and currently Belize) in 1924. It was decided to burn down 33 hectares of forest covering the ancient constructions of the settlement to make the archeological dig easier. When the smoke lifted, the expedition saw amazing ruins of a stone pyramid, city walls, and a huge amphitheatre capable to seating thousands of spectators. The ancient settlement was called Lubaantun: The Place of the Fallen Stones.

After three years, Mitchell-Hedges organized another expedition; he took his daughter Anna with him, but, at that moment, the archeologist hardly supposed that the girl would be a lucky talisman for the expedition. On the day of her 17th birthday, in April 1927, Anna discovered a strange item under the debris of an ancient altar. That was a natural sized human skull made of a rock crystal and wonderfully polished. The skull lacked its lower jaw, which was found dozens meters from the site three months later. The crystal details could be moved with the help of perfect, smooth joints on the skull and easily moved with every touch. Those who touched the skull experienced rather strange feelings.

It now appears that this tale of the skull's discovery was entirely fabricated. Mitchell-Hedges apparently purchased the skull at an auction at Sothebys in London, in 1943. This has been verified by documents at the British Museum, which had bid against Mitchell-Hedges for the crystal artifact, but the origin of which is attributed to Central America.  The skull remains in the possession of the octogenarian Anna Mitchell-Hedges. She resides in Canada and displays the skull on frequent tours. Anna has maintained for all these years that she discovered the skull, even though there is reason to doubt that she was present at the Lubaatun expedition at all.

Continuing, Anna was the first to experience strange things. The girl put the skull near her bed before going to sleep. Anna said that she dreamed of the life of Indians who had lived thousands years ago, and the girl could describe the dream in detail.

At first, Anna didn'tt attribute the strange dream to the crystal skull. However, strange dreams haunted the girl each time she had the skull near her bed. New dreams brought more new details about the life of Indians, details unknown even to scientists. When the skull was removed from the bedroom, there were no strange dreams. And they recommenced as soon as the strange find was taken back to Anna's room. The girl heard Indians talking and watched their everyday life and sacrifice rituals.

After the death of her father, at the beginning of the 1960s, Anna decided to give the strange skull to scientists for investigations. She believed that the skull was too perfect to have been made by the Indian civilizations living before the Columbus discoveries.

First, art critic Frank Dordland started investigating the strange skull. After a closer investigation, he discovered that the skull had a complicated system of lenses, prisms, and channels, creating unusual optical effects. The investigator was surprised to discover no signs of processing on the skull's perfectly polished surface. They couldn't be seen even with a microscope. Frank Dordland even addressed Hewlett-Packard, the famous company that specialized in crystal oscillators at that time, for a competent examination of the crystal.

The results were shocking not only for the scientist himself. The research by Hewlett-Packard in 1964 in a special laboratory revealed that the skull had been made long before the first civilizations appeared in that part of America where the skull was found. In addition, rock crystal of such perfect quality couldn'tt be found in that area. The most amazing thing was that the ancient skull weighing 5.13 kg, 203.4 mm long and 125.4 wide had been made of a whole crystal. This fact contradicted the laws of physics.

Hewlett-Packard experts analyzed the skull and discovered that it consisted of three or four joints grown together. After close analysis, they found out that the skull had been cut of one piece of crystal, together with the lower jaw. The rock crystal has a hardness that is slightly lower than that of topaz, corundum, and diamond; it can be cut with diamonds only. It is astonishing, but the ancient Indians managed to cut it somehow, and even made a lower jaw with the joints. Someone had made the skull of a whole crystal so carefully that it seemed that nobody had ever touched it. A kind of a prism was found at the back bottom of the skull; any ray of light that strikes the eye-sockets is reflected there. If you look into the eye-sockets, you may see the whole room reflected.

Hewlett-Packard experts say that the skull had been made regardless of all laws and rules. They surprisingly said: "The damned thing can't exist at all. Those who had done it had no idea of crystallography or of fiber optics. The people completely ignored the axis of symmetry, which was to prevent the crystal from splitting during processing. It is strange why it didn't split at that!" No matter how unbelievable it may seem, the strange crystal skull can be seen in the Museum of American Indians.

Researchers found that the skull had been carved against the natural axis of the crystal. Modern crystal sculptors always take into account the axis, or orientation of the crystal's molecular symmetry, because if they carve "against the grain," the piece is bound to shatter -- even with the use of lasers and other high-tech cutting methods.

To compound the strangeness, HP could find no microscopic scratches on the crystal which would indicate it had been carved with metal instruments. Dorland's best hypothesis for the skull's construction is that it was roughly hewn out with diamonds, and then the detail work was meticulously done with a gentle solution of silicon sand and water. The exhausting job -- assuming it could possibly be done in this way -- would have required man-hours adding up to 300 years to complete.

The Mitchell-Hedges Skull:
Mitchell Hedges Skull

Mitchell Hedges Skull

British Crystal Skull and Paris Crystal Skull

There is a pair of similar skulls known as the British Crystal Skull and the Paris Crystal Skull. Both are said to have been bought by mercenaries in Mexico in the 1890s, possibly at the same time. They are so similar in size and shape that some have guessed that one was copied to produce the other. In comparison to the Mitchell-Hedges skull, they are made of cloudier clear crystal and are not nearly as finely sculpted. The features are superficially etched and appear incomplete, without discretely formed jawbones. The British Crystal Skull is on display at London's Museum of Mankind, and the Trocadero Museum of Paris houses the Paris Crystal Skull.

British Skull
The British Skull

Paris Skull
The Paris Skull

Mayan Crystal Skull and Amethyst Skull

These were discovered in the early part of the 20th century in Guatamala and Mexico.  They had been brought to the US by a Mayan Priest. The Amethyst Skull is made of purple quartz and the Mayan skull is clear, but the two are otherwise very alike. Like the Mitchell-Hedges skull, both of them were studied at Hewlett-Packard, and they too were found to be inexplicably cut against the axis of the crystal.

Picture of the Mayan Crystal Skull  sent in by owner
Amethyst Skull
Amethyst Skull (Ami)

Texas Crystal Skull (a.k.a. MAX)

In the early 1980s, a human-sized quartz crystal skull surfaced in Texas. It was in the possession of Norbu Chen, a Tibetan healer. The skull was given to Carl and Jo Ann Parks to satisfy a debt. The skull was placed in a cosmetic case and stored on the floor of a closet in their Houston home for several years. It was while Jo Ann Parks was watching television that she realized that her skull may be an important artifact.

The program was about the Mitchell-Hedges skull, and F.R. Nick Nocerino, a world-renowned expert in crystal skull research, was a guest on the show. After viewing the program, Jo Ann, contacted Nocerino, upon which he traveled to Houston from his home near San Francisco to examine the skull. He determined that the skull was authentic and that it was ancient. He had indeed been aware of the existence of the skull, but had not been able to determine its location. Soon after Nocerino's visit, Jo Ann, after several discussions with the rock, as she fondly referred to it, was told its name was Max.

"Max," or the Texas Crystal Skull, is a single-piece, clear skull, weighing 18 pounds.  The origin is believed to be Guatemala.  The Parks family allows visitors to observe Max and they display the skull at various exhibitions across the U.S.

ET Skull

Also in the mid 80s, Joke van Dieten Maasland, who presently resides in Miami Beach, Florida, acquired a smokey quartz crystal skull from a dealer in Los Angeles. It was reported that this skull had been in the possession of a family in Guatemala, whose parents found the skull in 1906, while excavating a Mayan Temple. Joke credits the skull, which she calls E.T., as instrumental in a personal healing of a brain tumor. She shares the story in her book, Messengers of Ancient Wisdom.

"ET" is a smoky quartz skull originally found in the early 20th Century in Central America. It was given its nickname because its pointed cranium and exaggerated overbite make it look like the skull of an alien being. ET is part of the private collection of Joke Van Dietan, who tours with her skulls to share the healing powers she believes they possess.

Rose Quartz Crystal Skull

The only known crystal skull that comes close to resembling the Mitchell-Hedges skull is one called the Rose Quartz Crystal Skull, which was reported near the border of Honduras and Guatemala. It is not clear in color and is slightly larger than the Mitchell-Hedges, but boasts a comparable level of craftsmanship, including a removable mandible.

Aztec Skulls

The Museum of Man, in London, contains a crystal skull which is called the Aztec Skull. It is no longer on display in that museum. Museum personnel as well as visitors claim the skull moves on its own within the glass case in which it is enclosed. It was acquired by the museum at the turn of the century from an antiquity dealer in New York.  I've also heard that workers demanded the skull case be draped over by a cloth at night so that they could work around it in peace.

The Paris museum of Man also contains a crystal skull called The Aztec Skull, which is no longer on display. Both the Paris Skull, and the British Skull are much smaller than the Mitchell-Hedges skull, and not nearly as perfectly carved or as clear.

Sha-Na-Ra, Jaguar Man and the Rainbow Skull

During a lecture tour in Mexico many years ago, Nocerino (the same expert mentioned earlier) was invited to a location in Guerro Provence, to assist in locating the buried ruins of an ancient city. It was during this visit that Nocerino provided the information as to the location of what he thought was an ancient temple. (Due to the current political situation in Mexico, the safety of those currently involved with this excavation would be compromised should I reveal the exact location of the excavation, or the name of the city.) Excavation of that location later revealed several carved crystal artifacts. Among these artifacts were two crystal skulls, one of which is currently owned by Nocerino, which is 13 pounds 3 ounces and is carved of clear quartz crystal. Nocerino calls the skull Sha-Na-Ra, in memory of a Shaman Healer he once knew. The second is currently owned by DaEl Walker, a well- known crystal researcher and author of several crystal healing books. It is smaller than Sha-Na-Ra, about 9 pounds, also quartz crystal. DaEl calls it The Rainbow Skull, due to the rainbow of colors that dance through the skull when in the natural light.

There were many other artifacts found at this location. Several small carved crystal skulls, half skulls which were hollow and a very rare and powerful item we call The Jaguar Man. It is five inches high, two inches in diameter and is carved of quartz crystal. It depicts the head of a Jaguar, with the head of a man in its mouth. The facial features of the man do not appear Mayan. This piece is currently owned by Charles C. Pelton (Pelton Foundation of Paranormal Research), and is being exposed to extensive research.


Aside from the theory of these being hoaxes or exaggerations, the very first questions that comes up are, "Where did these skulls come from?" and "Why do they exist?" There are countless hypotheses that they are the legacy of some higher intelligence. Many believe they were created by extraterrestrials or beings in Atlantis. Yet another theory maintains that these skulls together contain a history of mankind.  Also, as mentioned earlier, local legends say that these were given by the Goddess of Death.

The most obvious theory links these to Mayans, although the Aztecs are a more formidable candidate for this, since a lot of their artwork as well as religious symbols featured skulls.  In addition, they were the finest known crystal sculpters.  Perhaps the skulls found in Mayan ruins were Out Of Place ARTifacts (OOPARTS).

What's more, some believe that “The ancient Crystal Skulls are the computers of the ancients, they contain important information that help humanity to pass through it current series of challenges to take us into a Golden Age.”, and “They were a powerful tool for healing the body, mind, and spirit, by ancient civilizations such as the Mayans or the Atlanteans”

Or perhaps these skulls are somehow linked to the "Year Zero" or December 21, 2012, the date at which the Mayan Calendar ends. 

According to some psychics who performed experiments on some skulls,
Psychometry and scrying provided glimpses of the past and wonderful scenarios of ancient ceremonies. A connection with the fabled Atlantis was also brought out during one of the sessions. What were these magnificent objects used for? Who carved them? Is it possible that contemporary society can make use of their wisdom for physical and mental healing? Further research may provide the answers. Perhaps it will provide only more questions!

During my personal research with the skulls, I stumbled upon a phenomenon that I am continuing to pursue. While working with the skulls, performing scrying, I was using various colors and sounds. I placed the skull on a small light box and alternated several colors over the light source opening. After recording my sessions over a period of several weeks, I began a review of the results. I was shocked to learn that when I used a certain color over the light source it seemed to activate a time period. Researching my results further, I determined that each time I used the same color blue, for example, that I would revert to the same time frame. I could almost pick up where I left off at the end of the previous session that I used the particular color. The energy that these skulls produce is staggering. Are they indeed holding the knowledge of mankind? Were they left by an extraterrestrial intelligence? The ages of some of these skulls are estimated to be 100,000 years old. Without ancient documentation, psychometry may be the only tool that can be utilized to obtain the information. Our research continues daily.

It is unfortunate that very few of these skulls exist and are therefore not easily accessible for researchers to work upon.  We can only hope that the truth behind these skulls comes to light soon.
Factbox: China's military modernization 01/14/2011
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Jim Kelly

Patriot Freedom


Factbox: China's military modernization

Thu, Jan 13 2011
(Reuters) - U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates warned on Friday that advances by China's military in cyber and anti-satellite warfare technology could challenge the ability of U.S. forces to operate in the Pacific.
The comments follow his visit to China, during which the government confirmed the test flight of a new stealth fighter.
China has alarmed the region and Washington with its ambitious military modernization program. China says it needs to upgrade its outmoded forces and that its plans are not a threat to any country.
Here are some facts about China's military modernization and some of the weapons systems that have attracted attention:
- Along with the development of its aeronautics industry, China has developed a more formidable design capacity. Its most advanced aircraft in service, and for the United States the potentially most threatening, are Russian Su-30 and Su-27 fighters. China is developing its fourth-generation J-11.
- China confirmed this week that it had held its first test-flight of the J-20 stealth fighter jet, a show of muscle during a visit by Gates aimed at defusing military tensions between the two powers.
- Some analysts have said that the development of the J-20 indicates that China is making faster-than-expected progress in developing a rival to Lockheed Martin's F-22 Raptor, the world's only operational stealth fighter designed to evade detection by enemy radar.
- However, deployment is likely to be years away and Gates said ahead of his visit to China that he thought there was some question as to "just how stealthy" it really was.
- Modernization has also included developing an inflight refueling capacity, to give its fighters a greater reach, and early warning aircraft.
- Analysts have said that China possibly has tens of thousands of people working as or training to become military hackers, who would target an enemy's computers in time of war.
- There are also tens of thousands of civilian hackers who have been accused of hacking into websites of foreign governments or companies, sometimes simply to vandalize home pages with pro-China messages.
- Many are motivated by patriotism, though it is more difficult to establish their relationship with the Chinese government or military. China has consistently denied supporting hacking, saying that it too is a victim.
- The successful missile "kill" of an old satellite in early 2007 represented a new level of ability for the Chinese military, and last January China successfully tested emerging technology aimed at destroying missiles in mid-air.
- The Pentagon has said China has developed weapons and jammers to prevent an enemy using space-based systems such as satellites. It has also said China was looking at satellite jammers, kinetic energy weapons, high-powered lasers, high-powered microwave weapons, particle beam weapons, and electromagnetic pulse weapons for use in space.
- U.S. officials have noted disclosures in recent weeks of advances in China's capabilities, including in its anti-ship ballistic missile program, which could challenge U.S. aircraft carriers in the Pacific.
- President Hu Jintao has made the navy's modernization a priority. It is upgrading its destroyers and frigates to range further and strike harder.
- China could launch its first aircraft carrier this year, according to Chinese military and political sources, a year earlier than U.S. military analysts had expected, underscoring its growing maritime power and assertiveness. [ID:nTOE6BE01S]
- The cost of building a medium-sized conventionally powered, 60,000-tonne carrier similar to the Russian Kuznetsov class is likely to be more than $2 billion. China is likely to acquire at least two.
- China is building new "Jin-class" ballistic missile submarines, capable of launching nuclear warheads while at sea. It has built a naval base on Hainan, the island-province in the south, that can serve submarines.
- China is trying to transform the 2.3 million-strong People's Liberation Army into a smaller, sleeker modern force capable of short, high-intensity conflicts against high-tech adversaries.
(Sources: Reuters, Chinese state media, International Institute for Strategic Studies,, U.S. Department of Defense)
(Writing by Ben Blanchard, editing by Jonathan Thatcher)
Baby Boomers Could Force Economic Catastrophe 01/13/2011
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Jim Kelly
Patriot Freedom
Baby Boomers Could Force Economic Catastrophe
Lawmakers will look back on 2011 as the year the U.S. started down into a financial Grand Canyon, because the first baby boomers turn 65 this year -- the front edge of a tidal wave of baby boomer retirements.
"Over the next 20 years, around 10,000 baby boomers will be retiring each day," says Andrew Biggs, an analyst at the American Enterprise Institute. "That means more people collecting social security, more people collecting Medicare, more people collecting Medicaid as well,"
That also means the members of one of the most affluent generations will slow down in buying cars and homes and consumer products of all kinds, as they pass their peak earning years and head into retirement.
That could hurt the economy, but it is clearly a financial disaster for the federal government as those 79 million boomers shift from paying taxes into social security and Medicare and start collecting benefits from them.
"The federal government's going to be bleeding money as the baby boom retires," says Doug Holtz Eakin, a former director of the Congressional Budget Office. "We know we can't pay all the Social Security and Medicare benefits that we promised. There isn't enough money in the world to do that so we know we're going to have to make cuts," Biggs says. "But politicians are afraid to make the choices to do that."
The two programs need tens of trillions of dollars to pay all the benefits promised. And analysts say that when all the boomers are collecting benefits, the government would need one of every three dollars earned by those still working just to support social security and Medicare. Charles Blahous, a trustee of Social Security and Medicare, notes that younger Americans are " going to have a much, much higher share of their paychecks going to the federal government to support not only the federal budget in general, but specifically entitlement programs for the elderly."
There are lots of proposals to repair the finances of the two programs. But they're politically difficult, and the longer lawmakers wait, the harder and more painful the fixes get.
"There is an implicit bipartisan consensus," Blahous says, "that we're not going to suddenly cut benefits of people once they're receiving them. So we're not going to pay that 85 year-old widow $2,000 in January and then jerk her back to $1,800 in February. We're just not gonna do that."So every year that passes puts more seniors on the rolls, making their benefits politically untouchable -- meaning more and more of the solution has to come from tax increases.
Young taxpayers would no doubt complain, but people over 65 are the most reliable and determined voters, which means lawmakers would be wary of taking anything away from them.
Something Different-First contact: The man who'll welcome aliens 01/12/2011
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Jim Kelly

Patriot Freedom
First contact: The man who'll welcome aliens
Jon Ronson meets Paul Davies, the scientist with an awesome responsibility

Click here for an audio interview with Paul Davies
Jon Ronson meets Paul Davies, the scientist with an awesome responsibility

Click here for an audio interview with Paul Davies
Paul Davies
'We don't want anybody just turning a radio ­telescope on the sky and sending their own ­messages to the source.' Photograph: Felix Clay
If we are ever contacted by aliens, the man I'm having lunch with will be one of the first humans to know. His name is Paul Davies and he's chair of the Seti (Search For Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Post-Detection Task Group. They're a group of the world's most eminent scientists and will be, come the big day, the planet's alien welcome committee. His is an awesome responsibility, and one he doesn't take lightly.
"Imagine a civilisation that's way in advance of us wants to communicate with us, and assist us in our development," Paul says. He pushes his mackerel across his plate. "The information we provide to them must reflect our highest aspirations and ideals, and not just be some crazy person's bizarre politics or religion."
This is why, Paul says, he very much hopes that our opening communication with the aliens will be drafted by him. "All the attempts to send messages up so far have been very crass," he says. "If you're going to leave it up to the mob to decide what's important, it'll be this really cool video game. Or some sporting event. Or some rock group."
"Do you have any idea of what you might say to the aliens?" I ask.
There is a short silence. "I do," he says.
"Will you reveal it to me?" I ask.
Paul thinks for a second. And then he clears his throat.
Who is Paul Davies? How have events transpired to put him on the front line of extraterrestrial relations? And what will his message to the aliens be?
The story begins 50 years ago, in April 1960, when a young astronomer named Frank Drake decided to cut a swathe through the forest of unscientific UFO believers, the abductees, the searchers for mutilated cattle, and so on, and treat the subject with some rigour. He formulated an equation, the Drake Equation, which attempted to determine mathematically how many intelligent civilisations exist in our galaxy. His conclusion: 10,000. Amazed at his findings, and at the thought that some of these extraterrestrials must surely be bombarding our hitherto deaf ears with incredible radio messages, he borrowed the 26m dish at the US National Radio Astronomy Observatory in West Virginia, pointed it at a distant star called Tau Ceti, turned it on and – nothing. Just a disappointing static hiss.
"No signals have been detected," he noted.
Despite this setback, Seti was born. Drake managed to score some US government funding and created an institute in California. Like-minded scientists joined him. For much of the 60s, as Paul Davies writes in his new book, The Eerie Silence, a "major preoccupation among Seti researchers was to decide which particular frequency ET might choose, given that there are billions of possibilities. The hope was that the aliens would customise their signals for Earth-like planets."
But the aliens didn't customise their signals for us. After a decade or so, a schism formed within Seti. Some contended that surely the aliens – being far advanced – would use lasers to communicate, not radio. And so Optical Seti was born.
Optical Seti didn't detect any signals either.
The day before my lunch with Paul, Frank Drake was in London to update the Royal Society on the latest. The good news is that with the help of wealthy private benefactors such as Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, Seti is now better equipped than ever. Allen has provided them with an array of new dishes called, in fact, the Allen Telescope Array. They're situated in a field 290 miles north of San Francisco. The bad news is that no signals have been detected.
"Fifty years of nothing," I say to Paul now. "Do Seti people just go into work every morning, spend all day hearing nothing and then go home again?"
"Your question is very similar to, 'How does a computer scientist spend their days?' " Paul replies. "Sending emails and raising finance and teaching students and thinking about strategy."
"Doesn't it get depressing?"
"The Seti people are very calm, very determined. There is a hypothesis to test and Seti are testing it." He pauses. "If the eerie silence goes on for 500 years and not 50 years, it might become hard to recruit the young scientists."
Seti scientists also fill the void by putting protocols in place for what to do on the day a bleep is definitively heard. It is extremely likely they will be the ones to hear it: they're the ones with the dishes. Should the protocols be followed, they'll know not to call the media or some government figure. They'll call the chair of the Post-Detection Task Group. Which is Paul.
Paul is a British-born theoretical physicist, cosmologist and astrobiologist at Arizona State University. He lives his life at an incredibly high level of amazingness. He lectures at the Vatican, the Smithsonian, Davos and the UN. He has an asteroid named after him – the Pauldavies Asteroid. He's a passionate scientific communicator and a grumpy man of enormous intellect. A telephone near us keeps letting off a loud and unexpected ring, and whenever it does, Paul looks extremely cross and says, "This is terribly annoying." I can't help thinking that if the aliens do make contact, his automatic response will be to screw up his face in irritation and yell: "WHAT?"
I've been following Paul for a few days now. I watched him speak twice yesterday at the Royal Society (it has been hosting a Seti conference). The queue to get into his evening talk snaked around the block. He encouraged the audience, which filled the main hall and an overflow room, not to be depressed. It's quite possible the aliens do know we're here, but because they're 1,000 light years away and are consequently seeing us as we were 1,000 years ago – all pathetically rudimentary and agricultural – they're going to hold off beaming a signal to us until they know we've developed radio technology.
During the question and answer session, a man with dark glasses stood up and animatedly announced: "To see the future, one must look at the fringe, at the freaks, the visionaries, the artists. Why does Seti ignore what's right in front of us? The 6,000 abductions! The 10,000 cattle mutilations…!"
One or two people nodded in agreement. Paul tried to look kindly, but his annoyance was obvious. "To expect alien technology to be just a few decades ahead of ours," he replied, "is too incredible to be taken seriously."
His inference was, you can tell the abductees are lying or delusional because their descriptions of the aliens and their craft are always so unimaginative. As he writes in The Eerie Silence, the giveaway is the banality of the aliens' putative agenda, which seems to consist of grubbing around in fields or meadows, chasing cows or cars like bored teenagers, and abducting humans for Nazi-style experiments.
"At least flaky UFO nuts believe they've met aliens," I say to Paul now. "They believe they've been abducted and probed. You lot have rationalised yourselves into a 50-year void of nothingness." I pause and add: "I realise what I just said is quite stupid, but will you respond to it anyway?"
"For me, science is already fantastical enough," he says. "Unlocking the secrets of nature with fundamental physics or cosmology or astrobiology leads you into a wonderland compared with which beliefs in things like alien abductions pale into insignificance."
Paul says he doesn't trust people. But he does have great faith in aliens. His face lights up when he imagines them. My guess is that, since he's spent so much of his life meeting people who aren't as clever as him, the aliens are – intellect-wise – his last-chance saloon.
The Post-Detection Task Group has been in existence since 1996. It is comprised of 30 Seti-friendly scientists, writers and engineers. Paul was invited to become chair in 2008 but has so far convened only one meeting. He hopes to hold a second later this year in Prague, so they can update their declaration of principles.
"So what's the first thing that'll happen when a bleep is detected?" I ask.
"We'll have it independently verified. That's really important."
"And once it's verified?"
"My strenuous advice," Paul says, "will be that the coordinates of the transmitting entity should be kept confidential until the world community has had a chance to evaluate what it's dealing with. We don't want anybody just turning a radio telescope on the sky and sending their own messages to the source."
"So you'll tell the world that extraterrestrials are beaming signals to us, but you'll refuse to say from where?"
"Exactly," Paul says.
"They'll kill you. They'll grab you and torture the information out of you."
"But what's the alternative? Imagine we go to the United Nations: 'There's an alien community over there and everyone has to think about what our response might be, so we're turning it over to you, the United Nations, who are so adept at finding harmonious solutions to the world's problems.' Well, of course it would be a complete shambles. And which are the agencies that can truly represent humanity? You wouldn't go to the Catholic church, would you? Or the US Army."
This is why, he says, the most prudent course of action will be to create some sort of science parliament – a bit like the one set up to oversee the scientific exploration of Antarctica – and present to them the draft of a message that will be written by him later this year in Prague.
I am, I'm proud to say, the person who gave him the idea to draft the message this far in advance.
"If you don't trust anyone else to come up with a decent message, you should do it yourself!" I say. "You don't want to be caught on the hop. Do it in Prague and just put it in a drawer somewhere until the time comes."
"That's a very good idea!" he replies. "I'm thinking on my feet here, but it's an excellent idea."
"I'm full of ideas like that. I'd be happy to join the Post-Detection Task Group."
Paul looks panicked. "There's no money."
"Oh, right," I say. "Right. Yes." It is an awkward moment.
"So what will the message say?" I ask, changing the subject.
"We're talking about two civilisations communicating their finest achievements and their deepest beliefs and attitudes. I feel we should send something about our level of scientific attainment and understanding of how the world works. Some fundamental physics. Maybe some biology. But primarily physics and astronomy."
"And some classical music?" I suggest.
"Well, we could, but it's not going to mean anything to them," Paul says.
"Yes, yes, of course." I pause. "Why won't it mean anything to them?"
"There's nothing certain in this game," Paul says, "but our appreciation of art and music is very much tied to our cognitive architecture. There's no particular reason why some other intelligent species will share these aesthetic values. The general theory of relativity is impressive and will surely be understood by them. But if we send a Picasso or a Mona Lisa? They wouldn't care." He pauses. "I mean the phonograph disc that went off on Voyager had speeches by Kurt Waldheim and Jimmy Carter. That's a world away from what we should be doing."
"Yeah, and Beagle 2 had Blur songs!"
"Quite," Paul says.
I actually like Blur and found the idea of their music being beamed to Mars quite exciting, but I'm belittling it because I feel a strong desire to make Paul think I'm wise.
"Of course, the world will eventually discover the coordinates and start sending up their own stuff," I say.
"Yes. So one of the first things we might want to say is that there's no unitary government on this planet, no unitary political philosophy or ideology. We're a great place for freedom, if not anarchy, and so we're putting together the best possible coherent package for your consideration, but expect it to be followed up with all sorts of bizarre and incoherent babble that you must treat with some discretion." He pauses. "Although how we'll express all this when we only have mathematics in common will be something of a challenge."
Science Weekly Extra interviews Paul Davies Link to this audio
We get the bill. Paul wants to end on an optimistic note and so he mentions the one time in Seti history when something broke the silence.
"We call it the Wow signal," he says. "It was a radio telescope in Ohio, back in the days when they didn't have the electronic gadgetry to go 'ping' if there was something weird. So they looked at a computer print-out some weeks afterwards, and it showed a signal that went on for 72 seconds. Nobody was listening at the time. The researcher wrote 'Wow' in the margin. And many times radio telescopes have been turned on that star, but nothing odd has ever happened again."
"Should we feel excited by the Wow signal?"
"I've often wondered," Paul says. He puts on his coat. "What we're doing is a fantastic and challenging task. It compels us to think about all the things we should be thinking about. What is life? What is intelligence?" He pauses. "And if nothing else, it is a great deal of fun."
Original story at Guardian
Justices Look Again at How Police May Search Homes 01/12/2011
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Jim Kelly

Patriot Freedom


Justices Look Again at How Police May Search Homes

January 12, 2011
WASHINGTON — More than 60 years ago, the Supreme Court ruled that the police were not entitled to enter a residence without a warrant merely because they smelled burning opium.
On Wednesday, at the argument of a case about what the police were entitled to do on smelling marijuana outside a Kentucky apartment, two justices voiced concerns that the court may be poised to eviscerate the older ruling.
“Aren’t we just simply saying they can just walk in whenever they smell marijuana, whenever they think there’s drugs on the other side?” Justice Sonia Sotomayor said, considering what a decision against the defendant would signal to the police. “Why do we even bother giving them a warrant?”
The old ruling, Johnson v. United States in 1948, involved the search of a hotel room in Seattle. The smell of drugs could provide probable cause for a warrant, Justice Robert H. Jackson wrote for the majority, but it did not entitle the police to enter without one.
“No suspect was fleeing or likely to take flight,” Justice Jackson wrote. “The search was of permanent premises, not of a movable vehicle. No evidence or contraband was threatened with removal or destruction.”
In the new case, police officers in Kentucky were looking for a suspect who had sold cocaine to an informant. They smelled burning marijuana coming from an apartment, knocked loudly and announced themselves.
Then they heard sounds from inside the apartment that they said made them fear evidence was being destroyed. They kicked the door in and found marijuana and cocaine but not the original suspect, who was in a different apartment.
The Kentucky Supreme Court suppressed the evidence, saying that any risk of drugs’ being destroyed was the result of the decision by the police to knock and announce themselves rather than to obtain a warrant.
Lawyers for Kentucky and the federal government told the justices on Wednesday that the lower court had erred. There had been no violation of the Fourth Amendment, which forbids unreasonable searches, they said, because the police had acted lawfully every step of the way.
Justice Elena Kagan expressed doubts about that approach.
A standard that looks only at the lawfulness of police behavior, Justice Kagan said, “is going to enable the police to penetrate the home, to search the home, without a warrant, without going to see a magistrate, in a very wide variety of cases.”
All the police need say, she said, is that they smelled marijuana and then heard a noise. “Or,” she continued, “we think there was some criminal activity going on for whatever reason and we heard noise.”
“How do you prevent,” Justice Kagan asked Joshua D. Farley, a Kentucky assistant attorney general, “your test from essentially eviscerating the warrant requirement in the context of the one place that the Fourth Amendment was most concerned about?”
Mr. Farley said that nothing the police had done in this case had violated the Fourth Amendment.
Justice Sotomayor was even more direct.
“Aren’t we just doing away with ‘Johnson’?” she asked.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg asked why the police could not simply roam the hallways of apartment buildings, sniffing; knock whenever they smell marijuana; then break in if they hear something suspicious.
Mr. Farley said, “That would be perfectly fine.”
Other justices appeared untroubled by the standard the government lawyers proposed.
“There are a lot of constraints on law enforcement,” Justice Antonin Scalia said, “and the one thing that it has going for it is that criminals are stupid.”
He said a sensible criminal would answer the door but decline to let the police enter without a warrant.
In a blog post, Orin S. Kerr, a law professor at George Washington University and an authority on the Fourth Amendment, said the case, Kentucky v. King, No. 09-1272, presented a tricky question based on murky facts.
But he said the police should not be allowed to take advantage of at least some of the circumstances their own conduct creates. Among those circumstances, he said, are the reactions of people who are made to believe that the police are about to conduct a forcible search of their homes.

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