Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

A Quick Analysis of the First North Korean ICBM Test: July 5, 2017

July 5, 2017 9 comments

One of the joys of blogging is the ability to point to one of your older posts and say- “I told you so”. As some of you might recall, a little less than three months ago I had written a post about how the narrative about USA disrupting North Korean missile tests through cyberwarfare was fake news. At that time, one credulous or delusional commentator spent lots of time trying to prove otherwise. Well.. we know who was right.

As it turns out, I am also right about the reason why some of the missile tests by that country in the first few months of this year were unsuccessful. To refresh your memory, I has put forth the idea that North Korean scientists and engineers were experiencing issues with using potent hypergolic fuels since they had very limited experience with them in the past. It now appears that they have mastered the use of rocket engines which use those more potent fuels. Don’t believe me? Well just look at the first picture below.

The combination of a clear, almost transparent, rocket plume and that yellow-orange clouds surrounding the rocket as the engine starts up is the signature calling card of hyperbolic propellants- specifically an engine that uses UDMH + N2O4, as opposed to IRFNA and Kerosene or solid propellants like HTPB-based mixtures. To put it another way, they have mastered the use of modern hypergolic rocket fuels including the ability to build engines (and associated plumbing etc) to handle them.

And this brings us to the second question, namely, what is the range of this missile? As late as yesterday evening, the delusional officialdom of USA was unwilling to definitively call it an ICBM. Perhaps they were having some trouble accepting the reality that yet another non-white country had successfully mastered the tech to build an ICBM. It seems that they have now accepted that it was an ICBM but are still trying to make the bullshit claim that the missile can only hit Alaska as opposed to the Alaska and the west coast of mainland USA. So here is another picture to help you understand the next point I am going to make.

While this photo might appear somewhat ordinary, it gives two important characteristics of the missile in question- apart from the obvious fact that it is road mobile and hence very hard to destroy in any preemptive strike. Note that the missile is about 13-16 meters long and 1.5-1.8 meters wide (first stage). As it turns out, those dimensions, having a hypergolic first stage and the fact that it is road mobile tell me that it weighs somewhere between 30 and 50 tons. My best guess is about 35-40 tons. So why are those figures important?

Well.. as it turns out, these dimensions and weight are very similar to a family of submarine-launched ICBMs developed and deployed by the former USSR in the early 1970s. SLBMs of R-29 Vysota family, specifically the first (and oldest) version of that series have a very strong resemblance to the North Korean ICBM which was tested yesterday. Interestingly, unlike hypergolic fuel using ICBMS of other countries, those developed by USSR (and now Russia) can be stored in their fueled and ready condition for years.

Here is why I think they chose to base their ICBM on the R-29 (aka SS-N-18 “Stingray”). Firstly, they probably had access to the technology, blueprints and consultants who developed that missile series. Secondly, it is a relatively light and proven design that can be stored in the ready condition for a few years at a time. Thirdly, though neither highly accurate or capable of carrying especially heavy warheads, it can easily project a single warhead with a combined mass of over 1.5 ton to about 8,000 km (you can convert that number to miles, if you want to).

It does not take a genius to figure out that building a slightly larger (10-15%) version of the R-29 with a slightly lighter warhead (700-800 kg) allows it to reach the 10,000 km mark. I strongly suspect that the North Korean ICBM is a slightly larger version of the R-29 with similar, but not identical, flight characteristics. Moreover it is pretty easy to adjust engine burn times, propellant loading etc to increase the maximal velocity by the few hundred meters per second necessary to make it go a couple thousand extra km.

To make a long story short, that North Korean ICBM can most certainly put a warhead on Seattle, Bay Area or maybe even Los Angeles-San Diego urban aggregation. Of course, we can always get many smartly dressed and hair-styled “experts” on TV to say otherwise, but then again these same idiots were also telling us that it would be many years before North Korea would successfully test an ICBM. Of course, it is unlikely that North Korea is going to use such ICBMs unless provoked to do so by the USA. Then again, it is USA you are talking about.

What do you think? Comments?

An Explanation for the Proliferation of Superhero Movies and TV Shows

July 2, 2017 10 comments

The previous decade has seen a large and unprecedented increase in the number and relative percentage of movies and TV shows made in USA which are centered around one or more superheroes. In fact, it is now possible to find critiques of this seemingly endless glut of superhero-based movies in allegedly “respectable” magazines as well as on clickbaity sites. In other words, the belief that too many superhero movies are being made is now a mainstream viewpoint.

But how did we end up here? And more importantly, why? Sure.. superhero movies have been around since pretty much the dawn of cinema. However for many decades, especially until the late-1970s, the number of superhero movies was rather small. The first significant increase in the number of superhero movies came in the late-1970s and early-1980s. But even then, it was unusual for more than 2-3 superhero movies to be released per year.

The current glut of superhero movies can be traced to a few hugely profitable movies of that genre made in the early-2000s. It also helped that the same time period saw huge improvements in the quality of computer-generated special effects as well as a steep decrease in the cost of creating them. Since then, there has been a never-ending avalanche of movies and, increasingly, TV shows based on some superhero or the other- as well as tons of sequels, “prequels” and reboots.

But why? Why would movie studios and TV show production companies devote so much of the budget and resources to churning out even more productions full of men and women in tights and tons of computer-generated effects but without memorable characters or coherent plots? What is in for them? And why now?

Before we go to my explanation, it is worth quickly recapitulating the conventional explanations which have been put forth to explain this phenomenon. One popular explanation is based on the idea that such movies make more money around the world, especially in large non-western markets like China. To be fair, predominantly visual movies or shows are likely to sell better in countries that are linguistically and culturally different from those of their origin.

However, that does not explain why so many of these productions are set in the USA. I mean, would you not make even more money by creating superhero movies tailored to individual market like China? Another explanation is based on the ever decreasing cost of using high-quality computer generated special effects. Once again, there is some truth to the idea that reductions in cost of computer generated special effects being responsible for part of the increase in this genre of movies and shows. But that does not explain why movie studios and TV production companies seem to now favor this genre over other previously profitable ones.

Then there are those who point out that a significant number, and percentage, of superhero based production (including sequels and reboots) make a decent amount of money and more importantly- profit. Now.. it is no secret that any success of a new genre in the entertainment sector always results in tons of imitators as well as attempts to milk the original success to the limit. But we are now in 2017, not 2007 when the imitation hypothesis would have been sufficient. Furthermore, the number of superhero- based movies and TV shows has kept on increasing rather than stabilizing, let alone decreasing.

But perhaps even more importantly, none of these conventional explanations even attempt to answer the main question- which is as follows: Why do movie studios and TV production companies keep on making an ever-increasing number of superhero movies and shows while simultaneously cutting back on other genres including those which were responsible for the majority of their profit in the past and still appear to be capable of delivering it?

My explanation for this phenomenon is based on a somewhat unconventional analysis of the current zeitgeist, especially as it relates to changing patterns of general belief in society. To make a long story short, it is increasingly hard for people in USA to mentally associate themselves with traditional protagonists in films and TV shows. As you might recall, the protagonist in most films and TV shows made in USA has traditionally been somebody who (or willing to be) part of institutions that were once considered to be respectable or otherwise desirable.

That is why the protagonists of so many movies and shows are either in (or associated with) the army, police, FBI, CIA, medical profession, legal profession or some other american institution. Even movies or shows set in other eras (historical movies), domains of alternate reality (LOTR, Star Wars, Matrix, Harry Potter movies) or the future (Star Trek, back to the Future movies) end up replicating that institutional structure. To put it another way, the superhero movie genre is the only major one that ‘works’ without the presence of functional and recognizable american institutions.

In fact, the superhero genre requires conventional american institutions to be dysfunctional, incompetent or absent. And this brings me to what I think is the real underlying reason behind the proliferation and continued success of superhero-based films and TV shows in the previous decade. Simply put, it has become hard to sell protagonists who are connected with discredited american institutions- all of them. And that is why superhero- based movies and TV shows have taken off in such a big way over the previous decade.

I mean ask yourself.. what are the first images that pop up in your mind when you think of police in USA? People who protect the innocent or roid-driven murdering racists? What about somebody who is part of the CIA, FBI or any similar three-letter agency? Patriots or greedy power-crazy asshole of dubious competence? What about doctors or lawyers in USA? Pillars of society providing important services or greedy extortionists of questionable competence? I could go and on.. but you get the point.

That is why, for example, we see few (if any) highly profitable movies or TV shows that glorify mass murderers depicted as such or slave owners depicted as such. Human beings, even evil ones, like to believe that they are good and moral. They, therefore, do not want to associate with protagonists who are severely tainted or otherwise discredited. Superheroes are, by definition, not really a part of the institutions they belong to- even in their respective fictional universes. Hence it is far easier for audiences in the post-2008 era to mentally associate themselves with such protagonists.

To summarize- it has become much less profitable to sell movies and TV shows in USA (especially to younger audiences) in which the protagonists are somehow positively connected with any of the many american institutions which have been publicly discredited within the previous decade. And that is why we now have an avalanche of superhero-based movies and TV shows.

What do you think? Comments?

An Alternate Explanation for Murders of Black Men by Police in USA

June 24, 2017 22 comments

As many of my long-term readers know, more than a few of my older posts have touched on the issue of systemic racial discrimination in USA, especially as it concerns what is frequently described as the “criminal justice” system. In fact, I even wrote a short series about this issue in 2014. In that series, I made the point that murdering black men and women is, and always has been, one of the main functions of the “law and order” apparatus in USA.

In that series, I also made the point that USA as a country and society is simply too dysfunctional to fix the problem of extra-judicial (and judicial) killing of black people. The simple, if tasteless, reality is that a large percentage of white people are quite OK with treating black people as less than human. Of course, this won’t be a big problem in a couple of decades from now when the numbers and relative position of whites has irreversibly declined to the point that few will even care what they think or believe.

But the ongoing and irreversible decline of whites as a group in USA and rest of the world does not by itself solve the problem of “law enforcement” killing black people in USA. It is well-known that the race and gender of police has little connection with their willingness to kill or otherwise brutalize black people in USA. In other words, replacing a white cop with a black, brown or asian cop is unlikely to eliminate or even reduce the rates of extra-judicial executions of black people in USA.

But why has large-scale public exposure of numerous instances of police murdering black people in USA had little, to no, effect on their propensity to continue doing it? Why have all those large public protests had no worthwhile effect on the rate of police murdering black people, except perhaps to ensure that the family members of at least some of the murdered get monetary compensation? Why have all those appeals to the conscience of whites had no worthwhile effect on the status quo?

There are many reasons for public exposure having little effect on the continued predilection of police to murder black people in USA- but it mainly comes to the lack of adverse consequences. Police who murder, torture or otherwise abuse black people do not face any adverse consequences for those actions. Choking a black guy to death, murdering a black guy in front of his family, shooting an unarmed black guy from the back, murdering a black kid etc does not adversely affect the lives of police who did those things even if it is recorded on camera- sometimes from multiple angles.

To understand what I am getting at, here is a thought experiment. Do you think police would dare to murder Muslims of middle-eastern descent in USA at anything even remotely close to the rate they do for Blacks? And if not, why not? What makes police in USA and other western countries so hesitant to pull that shit on Muslims of middle-eastern descent?

Well.. there are two components to the answer for that question. Firstly, Muslims of middle-eastern descent are very highly organised AND they do not see their lives as less valuable than whites. Even Muslims from the poorest and most deprived countries in the middle-east do not see themselves as less human than whites in the west. In contrast to that, a majority of the native-born black population in USA appear to see their own lives as less valuable than their white counterparts.

But there is a second reason, which we don’t like to talk about. Whites in western countries understand that murdering Muslims from the middle-east has consequences, even if white western courts exonerated them. There is a reason why white Americans could not walk freely in countries like Iraq and Afghanistan, even at the peak of their now failed invasions of both those countries. Turns out that people from that part of the world are more than willing to avenge the death of their relatives in any manner possible.

To make a long story short- it is very likely that police murdering Muslims from the M-E at even a fraction of rate of Blacks in USA would severely compromise the personal safety of themselves and their families. In contrast to that, police murdering black people in USA will at most result in more marches, prayers at some church and tearful interview with relatives on TV.

European whites did not get kicked out for good out of Asian and African countries after WW2 because they feared peaceful marches, prayer assemblies and tearful testimonies. American whites did not get kicked out of North Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan because of nonviolent resistance by the local population. They had to leave those countries because the human and material costs inflicted on them by the local population (sometimes at great cost to themselves) was beyond their own ability to sustain those occupations.

What do you think? Comments?

Pedestalling of Women by American vs Non-American Men: 1

June 13, 2017 32 comments

While I am not a big fan or user of Instagram, it is an interesting social network to keep track of how people all around the world want to present themselves to others. Over the years, I have noticed an interesting, but seldom talked about, pattern that is most obvious if you don’t use Instagram as an active participant. The observed pattern can be summarized as follows..

Fairly mediocre looking North-American women who post even somewhat revealing photos of themselves on Instagram get far more positive comments from obviously male user accounts than even more revealing photos of gorgeous women from countries in Europe and South-America.

Initially, I considered that this discrepancy in number of online male admirers might be related to the total numbers of Instagram users across various countries. It is no secret that a significant percentage of the first bunch of large-scale users of some internet-based social networks such as Instagram do live in North America. However, I noticed that the geographical discrepancy between number of positive comments to revealing pictures of women has persisted over the years.

Therefore, the far fewer number of male admirers writing worshipful comments in response to revealing photos of women from other parts of the world is not an artifact of userbase composition. Furthermore many of the comments by ostensibly male accounts on photos of young, attractive, thong-bikini (or less) clad women living in countries outside north america are also far less worshipful of the woman (or women) in those photos.

Local men who comment on photos of thong-bikini wearing hotties in Brazil almost never sound desperate, eager to please or otherwise submissive. Similarly, local men who comment on photos of topless (or even less) continental European cuties lounging on the beach seldom write comments that come across as pathetic or worshipful. Curiously, a significant number of worshipful comments towards such photos are in English rather than he language of the country of residence for the women in those photos.

Instagram is however not the first social network where I have seen this pattern.

As some of you might know, Flickr was the best online photo-sharing network before the idiots at Yahoo screwed it up. Many (maybe 5-7) years ago, I noticed that most of the corny worshipful comments for beach vacation photo albums of European girls were written in English rather than German, French, Italian, Dutch etc. However, it was also obvious that the majority of viewers of those photos were local.

And this brings me to my explanation for this apparent discrepancy. Men in North America are significantly more likely to be, or act like, beta orbiters than men in most other parts of the world. They are far more likely to compliment mediocre looking women for a basically non-existent chance of having sex with them than men in other parts of the world. Their pathetic online behavior is therefore merely an extension of their pathetic behavior in real life.

But why would they do that? Are they stupid enough to believe that a woman who they have no realistic chance of meeting in real life will suddenly want to meet them and have sex with them. Perhaps there are a few who think like that, but they are clearly not the majority. In my opinion, it is far more likely that this peculiar online behavior is a reflection of how they have been taught to behave towards women when they were growing up.

In other words, the dominant pre-internet cultural trends in North America were (and to some extent still are) far more female-centric than those in other countries. A lot of men raised in North America still believe, at some level, that being beta-orbiters of women is normal. These men appear to lack any significant amount of self-esteem and appear to accept being abused, exploited and ignored by even mediocre women as “normal”.

Of course, as many of you know, this state of affairs has changed a lot in the previous decade. However, it is also clear that a significant number of men who still live in that mental world. maybe that will change, or maybe it won’t. In any case, there is not much you can do for people who believe in something that is is clear contradiction with observable reality.

What do you think? Comments?

The Business Model of SpaceX is a Quintessentially American Fraud

June 6, 2017 20 comments

I have been meaning to write this particular post for a few months now, but was not sure how to compress into something that can be comfortably read in one sitting. On the other hand, aiming for too much optimization and perfection is probably not helpful for getting things done and posted. So here it is..

The main point of this post, stripped down to its absolute minimum, is that the business model of SpaceX is a uniquely american-style fraud. Note, I am not saying that corporations like SpaceX are incapable of making a profit someday in the future. My issues with their business model concern the many claims made by them about their future prospects, especially about their advertised potential for future growth, profit and services.

To be fair, the business model of SpaceX is Elon Musk‘s second largest fraud- after Tesla Inc. FYI- My criticism of the business model of Tesla Inc is not based on whether electric cars are practical or viable (they are both). It has to do with the claims made by Musk about how electric cars will displace internal combustion because the former will become somehow cheaper or more functional than the later. But that issue is best left for another day.

It is an open secret that Tesla Inc market capitalization has no link to the number of cars it can sell. How else can you explain a corporation selling less than 80 thousand automobiles a year being considered more valuable than one that sells 10 million a year. As you will soon see, the public image of SpaceX’s future potential is also largely based on a combination of extremely wishful (ok.. highly delusional) thinking and silly valley-style optimism. Along the way you will also see why I say that it is a quintessentially american fraud.

So let me list the many ways that SpaceX’s business model is based on a public relations-led fraud.

1] Everything SpaceX has achieved to date is based on half-century old research funded by the american government. Yes, you heard that right! SpaceX’s launchers are based on technology and fundamental research done by the public sector decades ago. Furthermore, unlike the older corporations comprising United Launch Alliance (Boeing, Lockheed etc), it has not really invented or discovered anything more innovative than making the lower stages of their rockets land vertically and streaming HD videos from them.

SpaceX’s business model is based on PR promoting themselves as innovative while being dependent on decades old research as well as direct and indirect government largess. It certainly helps that there are enough idiots in the world who will buys flashy hype. In other words, the business model of SpaceX is very similar to Tesla Motors and pretty much every single corporation (startup or otherwise) in Silly Valley. As I will show you in the next couple of paragraphs, their claim of being the cheapest space launch system is based on a gross misrepresentation- on many levels.

2] Elon Musk’s is trying to sell the dream that it is possible to build a few dozen launchers and then simply refuel and fly them over and over again for say 10-20 times before building new ones. To put it another way, he wants you to believe that it is possible to make space launch systems that are more like commercial airliners than conventional space launch systems. There is just one problem with that idea.. it is based on what can be best described as optimistic bullshit.

Rocket engines, you see, are rather different from most other types of engines in that they work under conditions of extreme heat and pressure and with a very tiny margin of mechanical safety. They have to so because of the conditions necessary for their operations and the need to keep weight down. While it has been possible to build potentially reusable Kerosene-LOX engines of the type used by SpaceX for decades now, there haven’t been any takers. Even the ex-USSR, and Russia, preferred to use new engines rather than reuse engines even when they knew that the later would OK after refurbishment and testing.

But why? Why did countries like the ex-USSR which made them in tens of thousands prefer to use new engines than use ones they knew could be reused. Well.. it comes down to a cost and risk calculation. Rocket engines, even the most simplified and robust ones, are always one tiny defect away from blowing up. It is easier to be certain about the lack of tiny but fatal defects in a newly built engine than a refurbished one. Moreover the cost of a refurbished engine blowing up once in a while exceeds the cost of using freshly built engines. Also refurbishing and testing used engines can get almost as expensive as building new ones from scratch.

3] The launch costs of a spacecraft, especially a satellite or space probe, are often the smallest part of the program budget. Yes.. you heard that right, launch costs for satellites are often significant lower than costs of designing, building and testing them- not to mention ground support for the next 10-15 years. My point is that launch costs for a satellite or any spacecraft (which is not a disposable transport vessel) are usually less than 20% of the “Total Cost of Ownership” for that particular spacecraft program. In other words, launch costs are not a particularly big concern to organisations whose primary operations require reliable and long-lived spacecraft. And this brings us the next point..

4] Even if we assume that SpaceX is actually cost competitive, who will use their launch services? Here is a hint- almost nobody outside the USA. Here is why.. Countries such as Russia, China, India and Japan are going to use their own launch systems for a number of reasons such as ensuring national security, keeping their own scientists and engineers employed and maintaining national pride. Also, vertical integration of spacecraft and launcher programs create far more cost savings than using somebody else to launch your spacecraft using slightly cheaper launchers.Even European countries are unlikely to use SpaceX over their own ESA launch systems- even if they are a bit more expensive because it is about technology, jobs and security. Furthermore, countries other than those listed above are also unlikely to use SpaceX since countries like China already offer very competitive packages covering everything from satellite design and launch to post-launch support.

5] Even in USA, the launch business for commercial and military satellites is an oligopoly- one long dominated by well-known players such as Boeing, Lockheed-Martin and Thiokol. Did I mention that those corporations have much more money, and many paid lobbyists, than SpaceX? To make a long story short, Space X is unlikely to become the dominant player in the area of launching american spacecraft (at least in dollar terms) unless the other larger players screw up very badly. This is not to say that SpaceX cannot make a decent profit on launching some spacecraft for the american governments and USA-based corporations. SpaceX will run just fine as long as it is run as a conventional launch business.

My point is that SpaceX is bluffing and lying when it claims the ability to “disrupt” the space launch business or become the dominant global player in that sector. What is especially sad to see is the number of otherwise intelligent people who are willing to treat the press releases of that company as holy gospel. Then again the USA is full of self-delusional types who are confident of becoming multi-millionaires within the next decade. To summarize, the long-term (and even medium-term) business model of SpaceX is a confidence scam based on rosy and polished presentations combined with exhortations to positive thinking. And that is why I called it a quintessentially american fraud.

What do you think? Comments?

My Opinion about the ‘Ancient Astronaut’ Theory: 2

Towards the end of the previous post in this series, I wrote something to the effect that mythical accounts suggesting sporadic, transient and accidental contact between extraterrestrials and human beings are far more likely than those which claim purposeful, extended and prolonged contact between the two. To put it another way, the Sumerian or Babylonian myth of Oannes is far more likely to be evidence of an extraterrestrial visiting earth than, for example, the construction of Giza pyramid complex or any other large bronze-age (and earlier) buildings and structures found in Egypt or other parts of the world.

One my major issues with people such as Erich von Däniken, Zecharia Sitchin or Giorgio Tsoukalos are their attempts to pass off large man-made ancient structures as evidence of extraterrestrials helping human beings, even when it is pretty clear than humans built those structures by themselves. Much of the willingness, among their audience, to believe such bullshit comes from the still prevalent general belief that all people in previous eras (especially in bronze-age and pre-bronze age times) were stupid, primitive and generally incapable barbarians. However, even a brief look at modern archaeological evidence show that was not the case.

It is clear that even pre-bronze age human beings were quite capable of exploring and manipulating the world around them- even if they did so in ways that are not immediately familiar to us. For example: The indigenous people of central america were able to selectively breed an otherwise barely-edible grass known as Teosinte into Maize almost 10,000 years ago. Similarly, the selective breeding of a number of edible plants from potatoes to wheat and rice- all of which occurred before the bronze age suggest that human beings in those eras were just as clever as those living today.

The domestication of certain livestock species, such as cattle, from problematic wild ancestors such as Aurochs also occurred before the bronze age (or very close to its start). Of course, not all species of livestock were that difficult to domesticate and some such as pigs and goats can easily revert to their wild phenotypes. My point is that we should not underestimate the intellectual capacity and ability of human beings from previous eras- even if their mental model of the world around them was rather different from ours.

Moreover there is evidence that technologies were often discovered and then lost in the pre-printed book era. A good example of this is Concrete, which was made and extensively used by Romans only to be lost and then rediscovered almost 1,500 years later. Or take the Antikythera mechanism which is a , pretty complex, geared astronomical calculator made over 2000 years ago. Even fairly large and complex technologies like those behind the sanitation and drainage systems of the Indus Valley civilization can be lost for thousands of years. The mere presence of seemingly advanced technology does not, by itself, prove that extraterrestrials were interacting with or teaching human beings in the past.

And this brings us to the next issue: Is it possible to group instances of alleged historical extraterrestrial-human contact into categories based, perhaps, on their likelihood of being based in fact? After giving this problem some thought, I have come to the conclusion that the best way to categorize alleged instances of extraterrestrial-human contact cannot be binary (as in ‘yes’ or ‘no’) since the classification too much certainty. A better way to classify them would be as follows: high unlikely, ambiguous and somewhat likely.

The highly unlikely, aka basically impossible, category is the largest of the three. It contains ancient mega-structures such as the Giza pyramid complex, the Megaliths at Baalbek, Moai on Easter Island, Stonehenge in UK, other Megalithic structures and complexes in Europe, Mesoamerican pyramids and pretty much all of the very impressive structures built in the stone- and early bronze-age. Note use of the words “pretty much all” rather than “all”. We will come back to that in future parts of this series. The common feature of all objects (mostly structures) in this category is that they appear mysterious only because so many people today think that people in the past were totally stupid savages.

Based on more recent archaeological finds such as the massive and long-used religious complex at Göbekli Tepe, we know that even stone-age humans were far more organized than even “experts” had previously imagined. Let us also not forget that certain parts of the world with the potential for rich archaeological finds such as the Persian Gulf and coastal areas of the Black Sea were above water during the last ice-age which ended about 10-12k years ago. To put in another way, what we consider as “human civilization” very likely began at least a few thousand years before the dates given by conventional historical guidelines.

It is therefore not surprising that humans around the world had the capability and organization to build large stone mega-structures much earlier than is popularly believed. This is why I am very skeptical about those who want to interpret any ancient stone mega-structure as evidence of extraterrestrials interacting with and helping human beings. The case for extraterrestrial assistance or inspiration in building such structures would be stronger if they were built of materials other than stone or were built in hard-to-reach locations where they did not serve any obvious purpose.

In future parts of this series, I will look at examples of physical evidence that is ambiguous or somewhat likely.

What do you think? Comments?

My Opinion about the ‘Ancient Astronaut’ Theory: 1

May 27, 2017 6 comments

In the previous post, I wrote about my thoughts on why tv shows about “ancient astronauts” are still popular and what that says about the popular mood in the west. The main point I was trying to make is that belief in “ancient astronauts” is the secular version of belief in existence of traditional gods and other mystical/ mythical beings in a previous era. But what about the central question.. you know.. is the “ancient astronaut” theory correct or even feasible?

My short answer is: Yes, but with certain caveats.

The longer version is a bit more complicated and will not make people on either side of the issue happy. But then again, I do not write this blog to make people happy. I simply give you my opinion about issues- whether it is about how to use escorts, the nature of “civilization” and human beings or some recent controversial event. Also unlike many others (especially credentialed morons) I explore a number of alternate possibilities in a systematic manner- even if I do not care about them.

Let us start by trying to answer the first major question: Do extraterrestrial species capable on interstellar travel exist?

The answer to the first major question starts with estimating the likelihood of life (of any kind) on planets other than earth- either in our galaxy or in neighboring galaxies. If you regard life as a series of complex chemical process which can arise under some set of environmental conditions and with a certain probability, then our galaxy (and the rest of the universe) is full of planets which harbor life in some form or the other- even if it is largely in the form of single-celled organisms.

I am not, therefore, claiming that the universe is full of planets hosting life forms with self-awareness and the ability to travel between star systems. Having said that, it is very likely that given enough time, a small minority of planets harboring life (in any form) will go on to host more complex multi-cellular and differentiated forms such as those seen in fossil record of earth.

To make a long story short- if you believe that life is a chemical process based in probability, given sufficient time a small (but not insignificant) number of planets will eventually host intelligent and self-aware species. If we take this idea to its logical conclusion, it is almost certain that there have been multiple independent instances of self-aware species attaining levels of technology which make it possible for them to travel between stars.

Provided they do not subsequently destroy themselves through war, ego or greed- such species could end up becoming very long-lived. It also goes without saying that extraterrestrial species capable of interstellar travel would also have the technology to be basically immortal- for all practical purposes. In other words, extraterrestrial species capable on interstellar travel are an inevitable consequence of life being a chemical process whose creation and evolution are governed by chance and probability.

But would such extraterrestrial species want to visit earth and chill with human beings or somehow influence our evolution?

This particular question has two parts. Firstly, would they explore or visit earth or other planets in the first place? Secondly, would they take a special interest in human beings to the point of deliberately interacting with them or influencing their evolution?

It goes without saying that any species which has developed the capability for interstellar travel will use it to explore their stellar neighborhood. Over time, such species will end up exploring a larger and larger volume of their (and our) galaxy. It is almost inevitable, given sufficient time, that one or more spacefaring species will come across the solar system and discover earth.

Now, this could have occurred 2 billion years ago or it could happen tomorrow morning. My point is that, the discovery of earth by such spacefaring extraterrestrial species is also almost inevitable. Also, my hunch is that such a discovery is far more likely to occur via indirect means (space probes) than direct ones (actual visits).

But would they want to intentionally interact with human beings or influence their evolution or technological development?

Well.. let me ask you a counter question. Would you try to communicate with termites in some termite hill you came across when you were on vacation in some exotic part of the world? Sure, you might take a few photos of the mound and perhaps even briefly study a very small percentage of its inhabitants. But at the end of the day, you simply wont’t care about some species on the other side of your world that poses no challenge or possibility for genuine interaction with yourself.

Similarly, it is very unlikely that extraterrestrial species capable of interstellar travel would demonstrate serious interest in human beings unless we reach a technological level where worthwhile and genuine interaction is possible. This is not to say that there would be no interaction whatsoever. However it is very likely that such interaction would be sporadic and somewhat accidental rather than sustained and methodical.

In other words, accounts of extraterrestrial contact which fit the sporadic and accidental contact pattern are far more credible than those which recall extended contact between extraterrestrials and human beings. So the Sumerian myth of Adapa is much more likely to be based on an actual instance of such contact than extraterrestrial being involved in building of Giza pyramid complex. The description of Vimanas in ancient Hindu and Buddhist texts are pretty close to what one might expect for spacecraft capable of landing on, and taking off, from planets such as earth.

It is also worthwhile to note that instances of non-natural objects flying in a controlled manner in the sky have been reported since the 2nd millenium BC. More than a few of these accounts contain details that are just too peculiar to be explained as natural phenomena or hallucinations. Moreover, these accounts document sporadic and very brief contact with appear to be probes capable of flying in the atmosphere.

To summarize, I think that extraterrestrial species capable of travelling between star systems are almost inevitable. Furthermore, if such species exist (very likely) they are almost certainly aware of the existence of earth and have likely visited it in some manner on more than one occasion. It also likely that some instances of such brief visits or encounters have been documented, albeit in a distorted form, within the mythological narratives of multiple tribes or nations. I am however very skeptical of accounts which suggest extraterrestrials making extended or systemic contact with humans.

What do you think? Comments?