|Nick Popes Weird World|
|Posted by Georgina Bruni
Editor in Chief Hot Gossip UK
Check out Bruni's Column
Welcome to February's column, with its usual mixture of news and
gossip on ufology, the paranormal, and anything else that catches my
The Encyclopedia Of Extraterrestrial Encounters
Ronald D. Story, editor of the classic The Encyclopedia of UFOs, is hard at work on another project, aimed at putting together a follow-up book entitled The Encyclopedia of Extraterrestrial Encounters. It will contain a huge range of data and will include details of classic alien contact cases, theories about the phenomenon and profiles of leading experiencers and investigators. Even though it's over twenty years old now, Story's original 1980 title is still an invaluable reference tool for researchers. It's going to be a tough act to follow, but the aim is to produce something even more broad-ranging than this previous book. Watch this space for more details.
UFOs On Film
Now out on DVD is Ultimate UFO! - a compilation of 250 UFO film clips from 26 countries. Also included on the twin DVDs are a selection of documents obtained under the US Freedom of Information Act, together with some of the controversial MJ-12 papers. There are also links with a selection of websites, and informed commentary from Peter Robbins, Michael Hesemann and J. Antonio Huneeus. But it's the film clips that will be of most interest, I suspect, and these include footage from Mexico, Gulf Breeze and from NASA. The DVDs contain over five and a half hours of material. Check out www.ufocity.com for order details and further information on this product.
Anyone who collects UFO/alien-related toys or who wants to give an unusual gift should check out www.shadowboxinc.com for details of a wide range of fun products. Model UFOs, glow-in-the-dark alien figures, posters and even a reproduction of the UFO crash that allegedly took place at Roswell.
Sci-Fi On TV
Talking of Roswell, Sky One are now showing Roswell High - a US sci-fi series that takes as its start point the premise that a UFO did crash at Roswell in 1947, but that the aliens survived and escaped. The story follows the (human looking) children of these survivors, whose powers bring them to the intention of various alien hunters. The show runs on Thursday nights at 8pm. Channel Five have scheduled the sci-fi series First Wave - about an alien invasion conspiracy - in the same Thursday evening slot, so sci-fi fans should take their pick, set their videos and write angry letters to TV schedulers. At least BBC 1 have The X-Files on Wednesday nights, repeated on Saturdays. I hope everyone caught the eagerly-awaited episode Triangle, which ran on 19 January, and featured time travel and a kiss between Mulder and Scully. Well, sort of.
Sea On Europa?
The chances of finding extraterrestrial life may just have been given a boost. Data from NASA's Galileo space probe suggests that below the icy crust of Europa - one of Jupiter's moons - there may be a vast, salty ocean. The discovery stems from the detection of directional changes in Europa's magnetic field. The cause of this is almost certainly electric currents: ice is a poor conductor but salt water is a very good one. Most scientists believe that water is perhaps the key factor in the development of life, so there's a possibility that life could have developed on Europa, especially if there are hydrothermal vents on the ocean floor. Nobody is suggesting that this would be intelligent life - we're probably talking about little more than microbes - but the implications of even this would be immense.
One of my best Christmas presents was the book Universe, which accompanies the acclaimed series of the same name, made by Pioneer Productions and screened on Channel 4 in the UK and The Learning Channel in the US. Written by Heather Couper and Nigel Henbest it's packed with informed and up to date comment on astronomy and cosmology, and contains a truly awesome selection of photographs - many from the Hubble Space Telescope. It's published by Channel 4 Books. Check out www.macmillan.co.uk or any good bookshop.
The Martians Are Coming
What are the chances of anything coming from Mars? A million to one? Well, maybe it's a little more likely than anyone thought. The scientific community is still debating the significance of ALH 84001 - one of around a dozen meteorites known to have come from Mars. Some scientists believe it shows evidence of fossilised bacteria, while others think that what was found could have chemical but not biological causes. But even those who think they've found evidence of biological activity are split as to the origin of the material. Some believe they've found fossilised Martian bacteria, while others think that there could have been terrestrial contamination. At a recent conference organised by the American Astronomical Society it was suggested that if life did once exist on Mars, life on Earth could actually have been seeded when this life was carried here on meteorites. If it's true, we're all Martians!
Alien Big Cats On Film
On Tuesday December 28 the Western Morning News ran a front page story about the emergence of a piece of film footage that may be the strongest evidence yet that mystery big cats are stalking the British countryside. The video was taken in 1994 in a clay mine near St Austell, by Roy Taylor, a Cornish councillor, but emerged only during the making of a Carlton Westcountry TV documentary, Tracking the Beast of Bodmin, also screened on December 28. The tape shows a black feline creature which Mike Thomas from Newquay Zoo said was similar to a leopard or a panther. The animal was estimated to have been between four and a half and six feet in length. Mr Taylor had previously kept the film secret because he didn't want people to hunt down and kill an animal which hadn't hurt anyone, and only came forward now because he believed that the animal would no longer be in the area, given the time that had passed. Cryptozoologist and naturalist Trevor Beer, author of a number of books including The Beast of Exmoor: Fact or Legend? is also against the idea of hunting down these animals, which he believes originate from the escape or deliberate release of animals from private collections. But the release of the film is likely to renew calls for official action: the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food investigated in 1994, and I'd been involved while investigating UFOs for the MOD, because of the possible connection with the animal mutilation mystery. I'll keep you posted.
Science Minister Lord Sainsbury has announced the establishment of a task force to look into the danger posed to the Earth from comets and asteroids. The team is to confirm the nature of the hazard, identify current UK activities in this field of study and advise on future action. The team (Dr Harry Atkinson, Professor David Williams and Sir Crispin Tickell) will report to the British National Space Centre, whose Director General will report to the Minister by May 31 2000. The danger from so-called Near Earth Objects may seem remote, but it's a case of low probability, high consequence: this is how the dinosaurs were wiped out, and it's worth bearing in mind that the small, comet-like object that exploded in the atmosphere above Tunguska, Siberia, in 1908, struck with the force of ten million tons of TNT. If such an object struck London, the entire city would be destroyed. I'll keep you posted on this extremely important story. For further details check out www.ds.dial.pipex.com/spaceguard or just search on "spaceguard" for the Spaceguard UK website.
Nick Pope's three books, Open Skies, Closed Minds, The Uninvited and Operation Thunder Child are available from All Good Book Stores. His UK publishers are Simon & Schuster. In America, The Overlook Press publish his books in hardback while Dell Publishing produce paperback editions.