Far Out / Science
Yesterday’s oddest Twitter/London story was probably this report from radio station LBC, which was tweeted by the London Air Ambulance charity and thence by city theorists/publishers This Is Not A Gateway.
Like many London ‘insect invasion’ news stories, the scale of the attack was pretty localised (confined in this case to one traffic light), but the swarm of bees that descended upon Regent Street was scary enough to merit beekeeper intervention and close the street.
Back in 2003 I wrote about former hair-dresser Maurice Ward and his nuclear-blast-proof miracle paste, Starlite (a name given to hit by Ward’s granddaughter – he nicknamed it ‘gubbins’), for my Far Out column in the Guardian. At the time Maurice was elusive and I was unable to track him down, but he’s now back in the public eye with articles in both Fortean Times magazine and the Daily Telegraph.
Ward’s story is as uplifting as it is demoralising, a genuine case of a backyard boffin making a potentially world-changing discovery but, due to a number of factors – not least that he was something of an outsider refusing to play by the rules of the military-industrial establishment – being unable to get it off the ground.
Part of the problem seems to have been that Starlite even puzzled the engineers and scientists who studied it. As Professor Keith Lewis, who tested Starlite for the MOD in 1993 told the Telegraph‘s reporter:
Starlite ‘had unique properties which appeared to be very different to other forms of thermal barrier material available at the time.’ It wasn’t clear how Starlite worked: was it diffusing the heat? Absorbing it? Repelling it?
The Starlite saga is well worth revisiting. Meanwhile, here’s video of Maurice and his discovery on BBC’s Tomorrow’s World in 1990.
Incredible footage of the courtship and mating behaviour of the Australian peacock spider Maratus volans.
More peacocks this Sunday at Nomad Codes with Erik Davis and friends. Erik is also speaking on Friday 19 May at the British Library with China Mieville and others as part of their science fiction season.
Tuesday, 22nd February, 2011
October Gallery, 24 Old Gloucester Street, London, WC1N 3AL
Entry £7 /£5 Concessions, Arrive 6pm for a 6:30pm Start – Wine available
In this new audio-visual presentation Mark shows how military and intelligence operators have shaped and exploited beliefs in UFOs, ghosts, monsters, vampires, and elements from folklore and conspiracy theory to create an armoury of supernatural weapons of mass deception capable of manipulating consciousness on a grand scale. The inspiration for these toys, tools and techniques has come from a range of sources including fiction, cinema, stage magic, advertising and occultism and has, for many of its intended and unintended targets, altered their very perception and understanding of the world around us.
Mark Pilkington has written for Fortean Times, the Guardian, Sight & Sound, The Wire, Frieze, The Anomalist and a host of other magazines and journals. His book ‘Mirage Men: An Adventure into Disinformation, Paranoia and UFOs’ was published in July 2010.
Here’s a simple electronics project we can all approve of: The Electronic UFO Detector, from a 1968 edition of the then-highly-respected British journal of ufology, Flying Saucer Review.
The device is actually a magnetic field detector. While the case for UFOs producing strong magnetic fields is not exactly cut and dried, magnetic anomalies do appear to have been detected in at least some cases over the years.
Magnetic anomalies do seem to be associated with earthquakes [see this paper from the Journal of the Society for Scientific Exploration for example] and so, perhaps, with the UFO-like lights sometimes linked to them.
Even if it won’t help you spot UFOs , this would be a fun paranormal project and it might help you to detect a quake, or perhaps even a ghost.
Via the excellent Forteana blog