I was recently sent an excerpt from some ancient Irish Celtic folktales about Deirdre of Ulster. Deirdre was a woman of legendary beauty who occupied a tragic position in the old Celtic pagan mythology, similar to that of Helen of Troy. There are other connections with Near East paganism to explore here, too, in the form of Bel or Baal. From her birth, prophecies were told that the beautiful Deirdre would be the cause of great strife and war. In this context, my friend Mickey noticed in his reading of the old poem that Deirdre was likened to a ‘red star of ruin’:
“O Deirdre, terrible child,
For thee, red star of our ruin,
Great weeping shall be in Eri-
Woe, woe, and a breach in Ulla.”
Druid song of Cathvah“ (1)
Where does the concept of this portent come from? Comets were often associated with catastrophe in ancient times, but not red stars. Perhaps it denoted the planet Mars, with its long-held association with gods of war? That would be within context. However, the translation is specifically a star, rather than a planet or ‘wandering star’. Perhaps they are denoting the prominent Taurean red star Aldebaran, which has been associated by some with the ancient Celtic festival of Beltaine (2).
Whether this association with Aldebaran is correct or not (and I suspect it isn’t), the connection with Beltaine itself is interesting because its meaning is ‘the two fires of Bile’. The festival marks the end of winter, and a ritual of purification which takes place between two fires. If we have a red star as one of these ‘fires’, then might we assume that the Sun is the other? Read More…
I recently reviewed a book about Carl Sagan’s interest in ancient aliens, written by Donald Zygutis (1). Early on in his illustrious career, Sagan expressed scepticism about seeking E.T. life using radio telescopes, instead advocating a search through historical accounts and myths to determine whether our planet had been visited (2). He argued that in a standard galaxy there are so many stars/planets etc, that all you’d need to do is point the radio receiver at any given galactic source beyond the Milky Way, and alien radio signals should come screaming out at you.
They generally don’t, of course, which led Sagan to the early logical conclusion that SETI’s search with radio telescopes was bound to fail. However, this approach became the only game in town, with serious funding at its disposal, and Sagan fell into line behind it – supporting this doomed search for E.T. radio signals ostensibly from stars within out galactic neighbourhood.
Decades on, and SETI has come up with little of any merit. The odd interesting blip, sure, but nothing demonstrably repetitive, or intelligent. Other searches have also come up empty-handed, including an extensive search for highly advanced galactic civilisations using infra-red (3), based upon the theories of the physicist Freeman Dyson. Looking for an infra-red signature from other galaxies seems like a bit of a stretch to me. Sagan’s initial premise about radio waves emanating from other distant galaxies is more plausible. By staring at the tiny amount of our sky that any given distant galaxy occupies, radio telescopes can cover a lot of possible stars in a very small space. If any of them contain radio-emitting alien species, shouting for attention, then we should pick them up one would have thought. Read More…
It’s a year since proposed the existence of Planet Nine (1). Despite the fact that its discovery remains elusive, there have been a great many academic papers written on the subject, and no shortage of serious researchers underpinning the theoretical concepts supporting its existence. Many have sought evidence in the solar system which indirectly points to the perturbing influence of this mysterious world; others have provided data which have helped to constrain the parameters of its orbit (by effectively demonstrating where it could NOT be). Throughout 2016, I have been highlighting these developments on the Dark Star Blog.
At the close of 2016, two further papers were published about Planet Nine. The first of these delves more deeply into the possibility that Planet Nine (Brown’s new name for Planet X, which seems to have caught on among astronomers keen to distance this serious search from, well, the mythological planet Nibiru) has a resonance relationship with some of the objects beyond the Edgeworth-Kuiper Belt which it is perturbing. These kinds of resonance relationships are not unusual in planetary orbital dynamics, so such a suggestion is not that odd, even given the eccentricities of the bodies involved here. The new research, from the University of California, Santa Cruz, bolsters the case for this kind of pattern applying to Planet Nine’s orbit:
“We extend these investigations by exploring the suggestion of Malhotra et al. (2016) (2) that Planet Nine is in small integer ratio mean-motion resonances (MMRs) with several of the most distant KBOs. We show that the observed KBO semi-major axes present a set of commensurabilities with an unseen planet at ~654 AU (P~16,725 yr) that has a greater than 98% chance of stemming from a sequence of MMRs rather than from a random distribution.” (3)
Their randomised ‘Monte Carlo’ calculations provide a best fit with a planet of between 6 and 12 Earth masses, whose eccentric orbit is inclined to the ecliptic by about 30 degrees. They are unable to point to a specific area of the sky to search, but provide a broad-brush region which they favour as most probable. Dr Millholland has also helpfully provided a 3D manipulable 3D figure of the cluster of extended scattered disk objects allegedly affected by the purported Planet Nine, alongside their extrapolated orbit for it (4). Read More…
A new theory about planet formation has posited that stars, placed under inordinate stress, could break apart catastrophically, flinging their smouldering remains out into the void at tumultuous speeds. It would take quite a force to render stars apart in this way. The supermassive black hole which lies at the centre of the galaxy creates just such an impression. Wayward stars drifting inexorably into the depths of its immense gravitational well would not fare well, during what are termed Tidal Disruption Events (1,2).
Researchers from Harvard University (namely, undergraduate Eden Girma and James Guillochon, an Einstein fellow at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics), have conducted computer simulations to model what happens to this streaming material, and the results are quite extraordinary:
“Every few thousand years, an unlucky star wanders too close to the black hole at the center of the Milky Way. The black hole’s powerful gravity rips the star apart, sending a long streamer of gas whipping outward. That would seem to be the end of the story, but it’s not. New research shows that not only can the gas gather itself into planet-size objects, but those objects then are flung throughout the galaxy in a game of cosmic “spitball.”” (3)
One of the accusations levelled at the late Zecharia Sitchin was that he was not able to read and translate the cuneiform scripts of the Sumerians, Akkadians, Babylonians and other ancient Mesopotamian cultures. There aren’t that many people who can read cuneiform, and Sitchin was not a recognised linguistic scholar of ancient languages. As a result, it’s easy for scholars to question his ability to read, transliterate and interpret the ancient Mesopotamian writings.
I came across this issue first-hand in 2003 when appearing in a short university project documentary alongside some noted British Sumerologists and astronomers, discussing Planet X (1). The Sumerologists, curators from the British Museum in London, were sceptical of Sitchin’s knowledge of cuneiform, and his expertise with the ancient languages that used this script:
Christopher Walker (Deputy Keeper, Cuneiform Collection, British Museum): “It’s basically a very subjective interpretation of individual pictures, individual ideas. But he [Sitchin] doesn’t actually sit down and work with the texts. And people think this is a nice idea, this is a nice story, let’s have the next chapter of the story…It’s like Harry Potter.” (2)
Dr Irving Finkel (Assistant Keeper, Cuneiform Collections, British Museum): It is very easy to use Sumerian and the Sumerian culture as your explanation for things because hardly anyone in the world can read Sumerian, and if you can give the impression you can read these texts you can say what you like. And I do think this is a factor. The number of people who can read Sumerian reliably and properly you could fit into this room. I think it would be a bit of a squeeze, you would have to move the furniture, but you could get everyone in the world onto this room.” (2)
There’s a general disillusionment with experts these days. Sometimes, experts get it horribly wrong: Economists failing to see a looming crash, or bursting of an economic bubble; environmental scientists cooking the books to solidify their stance on climate change; politicians expounding doom and gloom if a particular decision is made, only to see markets lift when it comes to pass. This may be a similar situation. Read More…