We Can Predict The Future

A major scientific journal is about to publish a peer-reviewed paper that may have staggering implications.

“Extraordinary claims don’t come much more extraordinary than this: events that haven’t yet happened can influence our behaviour.:

In other words, we have instinctive precognition, if the evidence presented in the paper holds up. The study has already been examined by sceptical psychologists who can’t find any flaws.

Cautious scientists don’t get to extrapolate from this. Everyone else can have a lot of fun. And there are *many* potential repercussions.

Lost Finale

A few first spoiler-free thoughts on the final episode of Lost…

The series has had its critics. I think most of them are unfair – whatever you think about the nuts and bolts mechanics of the show, there is very little in the TV medium with such a weight of ideas. Some people seem stuck in a binary way of thinking – that there is only weighty high-brow or mass-market low-brow.

But several series coming out of the US (and maybe one or two from the UK) show that it’s possible to communicate on two different levels: a mainstream plot that touches many of the usual drama beats, and a deeper level of reflection on big issues that some viewers can ruminate over if they so wish. You can buy into one or the other, or both.

There is a great deal going on beneath the surface in Lost – more than a superficial glance would ever suggest – and the show’s creators have clearly put in some heavy thinking, all of which became apparent – again, in the background – in today’s finale.

I have said before that reviews are more about the reviewer than about the subject of the review. It’s the same with opinions on the finale of Lost (and of BSG before it). The way you view life and the world will impact on your view of the story’s ending. (And the degree of cognitive dissonance that inflicts you will mark the vehemence of your response.)

I found the ending wholly satisfying. I like stories where the creators give you all the information you need, but expect you to do some of the piecing together. Some people don’t. They get very angry if things aren’t spelled out. Nothing wrong with either response – it all depends on your psychology.

Without giving any spoilers away at this stage, the end of the six-season series appeared almost childishly simple and easy to criticise. Like every other aspect of the show, it was anything but. Everything you needed to make sense of it was there, but appreciation really depended on how much you put in.

But like all the best TV, it bears repeated viewings which only reveal new layers of meanings. It operates on three levels – what appears to be happening, what may well be happening, and a symbolic level that comments on very deep issues.

And in this it echoes another piece of classic TV art – the 60s version of The Prisoner. Here we have: a spy who has been kidnapped by powers unknown to discover what he knows; a spy who has been killed in the opening credits and is working through his life’s issues before moving on (the only reading that fully explains the final episode); and a symbolic examination of the individual’s place in society.

It’s certainly worth a deeper reflection on the relationship between Lost and the recently-finished and equally good Ashes to Ashes, and relating both of those to The Prisoner. Something is in the air, maybe.

In the end, Lost was deeply affecting. It will upset many people because it says quite firmly that all the things you thought mattered, aren’t important at all. In the end, like all the best stories, it’s about what it means to be human.

Life On Mars Staring Us In The Face?

A report in New Scientist suggests the evidence for life on the Red Planet could be as plain as those lumps of rocks that scatter the landscape in all the photos we’ve seen a thousand times.

There’s never been any sign of complex carbon-based molecules on Mars, but sulphur is all over the place, more than on earth. Some microbes in our own backyard convert sulphates to sulphides as a by-product of their activity. Intriguing evidence of this microbial work has been found at crater sites – and similar tests could be carried on Mars relatively easily.

All we need is a Mars Lander fitted with the right tools. Oh, one’s already planned? When’s it hitting the red dust?

NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) rover will land on the Martian surface in 2012. It will carry a mass spectrometer that should be sensitive enough to see variations as small as 2 per cent in sulphur isotope abundances, says John Grotzinger of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, the lead scientist for the mission.

Earth Calling All Aliens

After futile decades of listening for any signs of a civilisation beyond Earth, SETI – the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence – is considering broadcasting our own message to the stars.

New Scientist reports that a meeting will be held in Texas in June to discuss if, and how, and in what form, such an attempt at communication should be made.

There is opposition. Our oldest stories tell us that it’s not always wise to let the gods notice you, which is what’s on the mind of SF author David Brin. He resigned from a SETI panel because he felt there wasn’t enough discussion of the potential repercussions from such a broadcast. He says: “I dislike seeing my children’s destiny being gambled with by a couple of dozen arrogant people who cling to one image of the alien”

Crop Circles – New Swirled Order

A friend, the artist Frank Mafrici pointed my attention to a great German documentary on crop circles (with English voiceover).

I’ve always been extremely sceptical about wilder claims for the origins of crop circles. They appear manmade, albeit fantastic examples of landscape art, especially some of the most recent examples. However, I was always slightly troubled by one aspect – I haven’t come across any great art where the artist hasn’t eventually taken credit for it.

Whatever your thoughts, the documentary makes fascinating viewing. It includes details of research by scientists – physicists, chemists, mathematicians – and specifically signs that the crops have been damaged by electro-magnetic radiation. Some stems are blown out at the nodes by escaping steam. There are also changes to the soil, with molten particles a regular feature.

Despite all the received knowledge (groups of hoaxers using planks to flatten the corn at night), one local witness revealed a crop circle wasn’t in the field at 5.30am, but appeared later that day.

And if there are artists at work – using EMF pulse machines – I applaud their attention to cultural memes. One of the crop circles is in the shape of the Mayan calendar, and another shows the position of the planets in the solar system at the end of 2012. Hugely entertaining. Take a look.

“The Universe Knows It Is Being Watched”

University of Vienna Professor of Physics Anton Zeilinger is working on quantum experiments that demonstrate the influence of observers in shaping reality. He believes physicists have only scratched the surface of something much bigger and says, “Maybe the real breakthrough will come when we start to realise the connections between reality, knowledge and our actions.”

Zeilinger and others working in the field have shown that widely separated particles can somehow have quantum states that are linked: by observing one, the outcome of the other is affected. But as New Scientist magazine says, “No one has yet fathomed how the universe seems to know when it is being watched.”

Read the full account of questions that keep physicists up at night at the New Scientist site.

Police Officer Sees Aliens At Crop Circle

Courtesy of Warren Ellis, the first item relating to the previous blog post, herewith known as “the pattern”.

For your consideration: the Daily Telegraph is reporting a British policeman had a close encounter of the third kind at a crop circle near the standing stones at Avebury in Wiltshire. His description of the figures he observed – more than six feet tall with blonde hair – is of a recurring type which UFO watchers have christened “Nordics”.

The police officer said: “They ran faster than any man I have ever seen. I’m no slouch but they were moving so fast. I looked away for a second and when I looked back they were gone.

”I then got scared. The noise was still around but I got an uneasy feeling and headed for the car. For the rest of the day I had a pounding headache I couldn’t shift.”

So: crop circles, aliens and standing stones – that ticks three boxes all at once. More to come…

Countdown To 2012

If you haven’t heard of the 2012 meme gathering pace around the world, you will soon, thanks to a new movie by Roland Emmerich. According to various sources, December 21 2012 is supposed to be either a) the end of the world as a result of a collision with a comet or asteroid/a collision with a rogue, unidentified planet/a geomagnetic reversal/a black hole/some as-yet-unidentified source or b) the end of the world as we know it, caused by a shift in human consciousness, or perhaps, a spiritual awakening leading to a long foretold golden age.

Part of this belief is based on the Mayan Long Count calendar, which, according to some academics, comes to an end on December 21 (or 23) 2012. An End, with a capital E. Typically of the academic world, there is no firm agreement on this, with some saying the calendar actually ends 4.134105 × 10 to the 28th years in the future. Which is what is commonly known as “wiggle room”.

But it’s not just the Mayans. A similar prediction lies in the myths of the Hopi Native Americans, in the I Ching, some say in a code hidden in the Bible, and in the writings of the philosopher Terence McKenna, who created a formula which predicted a singularity of infinite complexity on December 21 2012, when everything and anything imaginable will occur simultaneously. Which seems to happen in my office on a regular basis.

All New Age Nonsense, some say. Well…it doesn’t matter. Much to the annoyance of my arch-rationalist friends, things which don’t exist can often have a greater effect on the world than things that do. If enough people believe we are approaching a time of “spiritual awakening” or “consciousness change”, they will make that happen. Altering patterns of behaviour. Becoming, say, more environmentally-minded. More socially aware, or politically aware. Then, 2012 becomes a focal point for changing the world. Putting it right.

On the other hand, maybe all these predictions are right.

For that reason, I’m going to be documenting here anything and everything which might relate to this. Strange events, odd coincidences, political and environmental acts, UFO sightings, religious phenomena, scientific advances and anything else which might take my interest. Who knows – a pattern might appear – or not? And as anyone who has read my books knows, I’m very interested in hidden patterns.

I’m interested to hear of any links, sightings, bizarre occurrences – personal or global, acts of activism, and transcendence, which may or may not fit into this. You can sign up for my forum and leave a message there, or DM me through that site.

I think we can have some fun with this.