Underwater Pyramid: What is the Galilee Anomaly?

Recently, a team of researchers discovered a giant underwater pyramid beneath the Sea of Galilee. What is the Galilee Anomaly?

Underwater Pyramid: What is the Galilee Anomaly?

Underwater Pyramid: What is the Galilee Anomaly?
Description: Professor Aronnax and Captain Nemo visit the ruins of the lost world of Atlantis
Illustration by Alphonse de Neuville and Edouard Riou
Source: Wikimedia Commons

What is the Galilee Anomaly?

Well, it looks like we’ve got another Baltic Anomaly on our hands. Here are the details. During the summer of 2003, a sonar survey captured an image of a large cone-shaped structure in the southwest part of the Sea of Galilee. Almost ten years later, divers finally investigated the strange underwater pyramid.

They found “a conical stone pile built of large, natural, unhewn basalt cobbles and boulders” at a depth of 220 meters. The underwater pyramid rises 10 meters off the seafloor with a diameter of 70 meters. Incidentally, the individual boulders show no signs of human activity.

“Close inspection by scuba diving revealed that the structure is made of basalt boulders up to 1 m long with no apparent construction pattern. The boulders have natural faces with no signs of cutting or chiselling. Similarly, we did not find any sign of arrangement or walls that delineate this structure.” ~ Yitzhak Paz, Moshe Reshef, Zvi Ben-Avraham, Shmuel Marco, Gideon Tibor, and Dani Nadel, A Submerged Monumental Structure in the Sea of Galilee, Israel

Underwater Pyramid: Manmade or Artificial?

Although the boulders show no signs of being worked, the team is convinced this underwater pyramid is a manmade structure. The reason? It appears unnatural and other basalt boulders were not found in the area.

“The shape and composition of the submerged structure does not resemble any natural feature. We therefore conclude that it is man-made and might be termed a cairn. The boulders had to be transported at least a few hundred metres from the nearest basalt outcrop.” ~ Yitzhak Paz, Moshe Reshef, Zvi Ben-Avraham, Shmuel Marco, Gideon Tibor, and Dani Nadel, A Submerged Monumental Structure in the Sea of Galilee, Israel

They think the structure was built on dry land, possibly more than 4,000 years ago. This would match up with other megalithic architecture in the area. But while those ones were spared, the Galilee Anomaly was eventually washed over by the Sea of Galilee. Incidentally, the structure is located a mile north of the ancient city of Khirbet Kerak.

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

The Galilee Anomaly, as I like it call it, is an exciting discovery. But I’m not fully convinced this underwater pyramid is manmade. Just because it appears unnatural doesn’t mean it is unnatural. I’ve touched on this in a previous article, namely how people tend to think certain angles, shapes, and rock formations can’t exist in nature.

“After all, right angles don’t exist in nature right? Wrong. The right angle, contrary to popular opinion, does exist in nature. It’s not some secret invention of mankind. It is just as likely to appear in nature as any other angle. However, nature shows no bias toward the right angle while mankind, on the other hand, makes extensive use of it. Thus, when we see right angles in nature, we’re inclined to immediately suspect artificial origin.” ~ David Meyer, The Baltic Anomaly: Is it Natural…or Artificial?

Also, the team has yet to conduct a full search of the underwater pyramid. There may yet be signs of a basalt outcropping in the area. Until the team conducts a full archaeological excavation, it will be impossible to know for sure.

Nazi Secret Weapons: The Rocket U-Boat?

Throughout World War II, Nazis scientists sought secret weapons to launch offensive attacks on American soil. What was the mysterious Rocket U-Boat? And how close did it come to destroying New York City?

What was the Rocket U-Boat Secret Weapon?

What was the Rocket U-Boat Secret Weapon?
Description: Launch of a V2 Rocket (Summer 1943)
Attribution: Bundesarchiv, Bild 141-1880 / CC-BY-SA
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Nazi Secret Weapons: The Rocket U-Boat?

Throughout World War II, the Nazis sought to build long-range, secret weapons (such as the Amerika-Bomber and the Sun Gun). In 1941, this desire led Nazi scientists to research the Rocket U-Boat. They hoped such a U-boat could travel across the globe, targeting cities on distant continents. In 1942, scientists developed and tested the first Rocket U-Boat. It was relatively simple, just a few rocket launchers mounted on the U-511′s deck. The test was a mixed bag. On one hand, the missiles fired just fine at depths of up to 12 meters. However, the lack of a guidance system rendered the missiles useless.

In 1943, Nazi scientists developed another secret weapon known as the V-1 flying bomb, an early predecessor to the cruise missile. It had a range of 160 miles. Paired with a U-Boat, it would be capable of long-distance strikes on any city in the world. However, the Nazi Luftwaffe showed little interest in helping to create the Rocket U-Boat, probably due to inter-service rivalry.

That same year, Nazi scientists developed another secret weapon known as the V-2 rocket. The V-2 was the world’s first long-range combat ballistic missile as well as the first rocket to achieve sub-orbital spaceflight. It had a range of 200 miles. Again, this seemed like the perfect fit for a Rocket U-Boat. And in late 1944, resources were finally allocated to it under Project Prufstand XII. The target of the Rocket U-Boat?

New York.

The Race to build a Rocket U-Boat?

The V-2 was much larger than the V-1 flying bomb. In fact, it was too large for any existing Nazi U-boat. Undeterred, Nazi scientists developed a 500-ton specially-constructed container for the V-2. The plan was to have a U-boat tow it across the Atlantic Ocean. Then sailors would flood the ballast tanks, causing the rocket to shift into a vertical position. Afterward, the sailors would fuel the rocket, prepare the guidance system, and aim it at New York.

The Nazis ordered three of these containers. At least one was actually built. It is unknown if this container was ever tested in any fashion.

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

The Americans were well-aware of Nazi attempts to build a Rocket U-Boat secret weapon and prepared a contingency plan known as Operation Teardrop. In March 1945, six Nazi U-boats approached America. The U.S. launched Operation Teardrop and ended up destroying the four of the boats. It was later determined that none of these were Rocket U-Boats.

But that doesn’t mean the Rocket U-Boat was never launched. In February 1945, the U-1053 was carrying out diving trials off the coast of Norway. With all sides closing in on Nazi Germany, this seems like an odd time to worry about diving trials. Some historians think the U-1053 may have had an ulterior purpose, perhaps to test out a Rocket U-Boat system. The U-1053 shipwreck was located in March 2010. To my knowledge, it has yet to be fully explored.

The Nazi Sun Gun: Death from Above?

Nazi Germany created many unusual, horrific weapons during World War II. One incredible weapon, however, failed to materialize. What was the Nazi Sun Gun?

What was the Nazi Sun Gun?

What was the Nazi Sun Gun?
Description: “Hermann Oberth presents the Hermann Oberth award to Dr. Wernher von Braun at a banquet hosted by the Alabama Section of the American Rocket Society (October 19, 1961).”
Attribution: NASA
Source: Wikimedia Commons

The Birth of the Nazi Sun Gun?

In 1929, a German physicist named Hermann Oberth wrote Wege zur Raumschiffahrt (Translation: Ways to Spaceflight). The book described Oberth’s vision of a manned orbital space station created from prefabricated parts. He also described a way to create electricity using a 100-meter wide concave mirror. The idea was to concentrate sunlight onto a single area and use steam turbines to convert the heat energy.

While Oberth’s mirror was designed to create useful energy, Nazi scientists saw another use for it. Namely, an orbital weapon called Sonnengewehr…or Sun Gun.

Launching the Sun Gun into Space

Plans for the Sun Gun were worked out by Nazi scientists at Hillersleben. They proposed creating a giant three-kilometer square mirror out of metallic sodium. Then they wanted to break it apart and launch the individual pieces into an orbit of 8,200 kilometers. In order to do this, the Nazi scientists hoped to use the Aggregate A11.

The A11 was a multistage rocket intended to deliver people and/or small payloads into low Earth orbit. At the time, it was being designed by Wernher von Braun (who later became chief architect of the Saturn V launch vehicle via Operation Paperclip, which helped land Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins on the moon).

Oberth’s original plan was to send an unmanned rocket into space, containing six long cables. These cables would then unreel themselves, eventually covering a vast area. Nazi astronauts would then fly into space and attach pieces of the giant movable mirror to the cables.

How did the Sun Gun Work?

According to Life, Nazi astronauts would live inside the rocket, using large greenhouses to maintain fresh oxygen. They would remain in space, waiting for orders from radio or wireless telegraph. Upon receiving orders to attack, they would use rocket thrusters to move the mirror into position. The mirror would focus the sunlight, causing incredible devastation in the process.

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

Fortunately, the Sun Gun never went past the theoretical stage. In fact, newspaper articles from 1945 say it would’ve taken 50 to 100 years to harness the sun’s energy in this fashion. However, Oberth disagreed, claiming it would take just 10 to 15 years. Oberth admitted the original mirror’s design might not have worked. However, he came to believe that a larger mirror would’ve done the trick.

“If the mirror were double the size mentioned, however, the irradiation would be four times as strong, and so on. The temperature on the surface irradiated by the double-sized mirror would be 200° C (392° F).” – Hermann Oberth, Man into Space (1957)

Water boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit. So, 392 degrees would’ve been plenty hot…perhaps hot enough to change the course of the war itself.

The Lost Apollo 11 Engines?

Apollo 11 Launch

“At 9:32 a.m. EDT, the swing arms move away and a plume of flame signals the liftoff of the Apollo 11 Saturn V space vehicle and astronauts Neil A. Armstrong, Michael Collins and Edwin E. Aldrin, Jr. from Kennedy Space Center Launch Complex 39A.”
Source: NASA

On July 16, 1969, Apollo 11 launched from Kennedy Space Center, sending Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on a date with destiny. In the process, two massive F-1 engines were jettisoned into the ocean, seemingly lost for all time. Now, after a year-long expedition, billionaire Jeff Bezos has salvaged this history-making technology.

Salvaging the Apollo 11 Engines?

We first reported on this story in March 2012, calling it one of the most incredible salvage efforts of all time, ranking up there with Robert E. Peary’s search for “The Tent.” The cost of the recovery and restoration remains unknown but according to NASA, the engines will be displayed at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum as well as Seattle’s Museum of Flight, respectively.

Who owns the Apollo 11 Engines?

The exact ownership of the engines remains unclear to me. I’m sure the U.S. government claims ownership. However, this would appear to fall under the Homesteading Principle. In essence, governments cannot legitimately own private property, since everything they have (including tax dollars) has been, in effect, taken with force. Even if you disagree with that assessment, NASA abandoned the engines, making no plans to ever recover them. Thus, I would argue no one owned the engines prior to discovery. Bezos Expeditions, on the other hand, is the rightful owner of its own labor. By salvaging the engines, it added its labor to the engines and thus, became the rightful owner.

Here’s more on the discovery of the lost Apollo 11 engines from Jeff Bezos at Bezos Expeditions:

What an incredible adventure. We are right now onboard the Seabed Worker headed back to Cape Canaveral after finishing three weeks at sea, working almost 3 miles below the surface. We found so much. We’ve seen an underwater wonderland – an incredible sculpture garden of twisted F-1 engines that tells the story of a fiery and violent end, one that serves testament to the Apollo program. We photographed many beautiful objects in situ and have now recovered many prime pieces. Each piece we bring on deck conjures for me the thousands of engineers who worked together back then to do what for all time had been thought surely impossible.

Many of the original serial numbers are missing or partially missing, which is going to make mission identification difficult. We might see more during restoration. The objects themselves are gorgeous…

(See the rest at Bezos Expeditions)

Reversing Extinction: The Passenger Pigeon?

Should the Passenger Pigeon be brought back from Extinction?

Should the Passenger Pigeon be brought back from Extinction?
Description: Hunters take aim at a flock of passenger pigeons
Attribution: The Illustrated Shooting and Dramatic News (July 3, 1875)
Source: Wikimedia Commons

As cloning technologies improve, the odds of reversing extinction continue to grow. Reviving the passenger pigeon, extinct since 1914, now appears to be a distinct possibility. But a larger question remains, namely how will these “extinction clones” survive in the modern world?

If the goal is to make them zoo exhibits, then a few passenger pigeons will suffice. But if the goal is to reintroduce them to nature, scientists could be in for a rude awakening. Passenger pigeons once existed in massive flocks and traveled up and down the east coast of the United States. In the process, they destroyed forests, picked trees clean, and left behind miles of feces. Could modern forests endure such an onslaught?

Here’s more from Kelly Servick at Wired Science:

Twelve birds lie belly-up in a wooden drawer at the Berkeley Museum of Vertebrate Zoology. Bloated with stuffing, their ruddy brown chests resemble a row of sweet potatoes. Slate-blue heads and thin white tails protrude in perfect alignment, except for one bird that cranes its neck to face its neighbor. A pea-sized bulge of white cotton sits where its eye should be. A slip of paper tied to its foot reads, “Ectopistes migratorius. Manitoba. 1884.” This is the passenger pigeon, once the most abundant bird in North America. When Europeans first landed on the continent, they encountered billions of the birds. By 1914 they were extinct.

That may be about to change. Today scientists are meeting in Washington, D.C. to discuss a plan to bring the passenger pigeon back from extinction. The technical challenges are immense, and the ethical questions are slippery. But as genetic technology races ahead, a scenario that’s hard to imagine is becoming harder to dismiss out of hand.

About 1,500 passenger pigeons inhabit museum collections. They are all that’s left of a species once perceived as a limitless resource. The birds were shipped in boxcars by the tons, sold as meat for 31 cents per dozen, and plucked for mattress feathers. But in a mere 25 years, the population shrank from billions to thousands as commercial hunters decimated nesting flocks. Martha, the last living bird, took her place under museum glass in 1914…

(See the rest at Wired Science)

Did Ancient Mariners use Sunstones to Navigate?

The Ancient Sunstone: Was it an Iceland Spar?

The Ancient Sunstone: Was it an Iceland Spar? Description: Large Iceland Spar at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC.
Attribution: Alkivar
Source: Wikimedia Commons

According to ancient Icelandic texts, a mysterious object known as a sunstone could locate the sun in a clouded-over sky. Such an object might explain how ancient mariners like the Vikings traveled across the oceans with otherwise rudimentary technology. But did sunstones actually exist? Or were they merely allegorical references?

Recently, researchers discovered a slab of mineral in a 16th century shipwreck. This mineral, known as Iceland Spar, might just be the mythical sunstone. Here’s more from Raphael Satter at the Associated Press (posted at R&D Mag):

A rough, whitish block recovered from an Elizabethan shipwreck may be a sunstone, the fabled crystal believed by some to have helped Vikings and other medieval seafarers navigate the high seas, researchers say.

In a paper published earlier this week, a Franco-British group argued that the Alderney Crystal—a chunk of Icelandic calcite found amid a 16th century wreck at the bottom of the English Channel—worked as a kind of solar compass, allowing sailors to determine the position of the sun even when it was hidden by heavy cloud, masked by fog, or below the horizon.

That’s because of a property known as birefringence, which splits light beams in a way that can reveal the direction of their source with a high degree of accuracy. Vikings may not have grasped the physics behind the phenomenon, but that wouldn’t present a problem.

“You don’t have to understand how it works,” said Albert Le Floch, of the University in Rennes in western France. “Using it is basically easy.”

(See the rest at R&D Mag)

Hot Hand: Is it a Reality or a Fallacy?

Hot Hand: Reality or Fallacy?

Hot Hand: Reality or Fallacy?
Description: Dr. James Naismith (the inventor of basketball) with a basketball and a basket
Source: Wikimedia Commons

College basketball season is in full swing. Everywhere you look, an announcer or writer is screaming about players going on streaks, making lots of shots in a row. In other words, having a hot hand. There’s just one problem. The hot hand is a myth. There’s no evidence to support it. It’s similar to the gambler’s fallacy. Say you toss a coin into the air and it comes up heads ten times in a row. Many gamblers believe this means tails are due. But each coin flip is an independent event. So, the odds of flipping a tail are still just 50%. Statistically speaking, basketball is the same way. Here’s more from the New York Times:

Those who play, coach or otherwise follow basketball believe almost universally that a player who has successfully made his last shot or last few shots – a player with hot hands – is more likely to make his next shot. An exhaustive statistical analysis led by a Stanford University psychologist, examining thousands of shots in actual games, found otherwise: the probability of a successful shot depends not at all on the shots that come before.

To the psychologist, Amos Tversky, the discrepancy between reality and belief highlights the extraordinary differences between events that are random and events that people perceive as random. When events come in clusters and streaks, people look for explanations; they refuse to believe they are random, even though clusters and streaks do occur in random data.

”Very often the search for explanation in human affairs is a rejection of randomness,” Dr. Tversky said…

(See the rest at the New York Times)

SETI: The Search for Aliens comes up Short?

Will SETI ever find Aliens?

Will SETI ever find Aliens?
Description: Alien attacks the warship Thunderchild
Attribution: Illustration by Henrique Alvim Corrêa for The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells (1906 Edition)
Source: Wikimedia Commons
via Wikimedia Commons

SETI’s latest search for aliens has come to a disappointing conclusion. Part of the problem is our own technology. We just aren’t that advanced. SETI is only capable of searching for Type II civilizations, who utilize and channel an energy source equivalent to the sun. So, yeah…there probably aren’t too many of those.

The other problem is even more challenging to overcome. Searching for aliens has always struck me as a long-shot. Sure, the galaxy is vast but so is time. And the odds of our civilization overlapping with a similar one (actually a much more advanced one) on a distant planet have got to be miniscule. Here’s more on the latest SETI search from Ian O’Neill at Discovery News:

In an effort to search for intelligent extraterrestrials, SETI astronomers have completed their first “directed” search. Unfortunately, it turned up no evidence of transmitting aliens. But that’s hardly surprising.

By focusing the Green Bank radio telescope, located in West Virginia, on stars hosting (candidate) exoplanets, it is hoped that one of those star systems may also play host to a sufficiently evolved alien race capable of transmitting radio signals into space. But in a study headed by ex-SETI chief Jill Tarter, the conclusion of this first attempt is blunt: “No signals of extraterrestrial origin were found.”

(See the rest at Discovery News)

The Drones are Coming

MQ-9 Reaper Drone

A MQ-9 Reaper Drone flies above Creech AFB (2008)
Attribution: Paul Ridgeway
Source: Wikimedia Commons

The drones are coming and not just by air either. In the next few years, an explosion of drones is expected to invade the U.S. by air, by water, and even underground. Here’s more from Robert Beckhusen at Wired.com:

It’s been 10 years since the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) started up operations. During that decade, DHS has moved to the forefront of funding and deploying the robots and drones that could be coming soon to a neighborhood near you.

DHS funds research and development for surveillance robots. It provides grant money by the hundreds of thousands to police agencies to buy their own. And sometimes it’s bought and deployed robots — for their skies, the ground and the waters — of its own, usually concentrated along the border. It’s not clear how many of those robots police operate, and law enforcement isn’t by any means the only domestic market for the ‘bots. But the trend lines point toward more robotic spy tools for law enforcement in more places — with more DHS cash.

But it’s not going to be simple. The Federal Aviation Administration is cautious about opening the skies to unmanned vehicles — so much so that Congress and the Obama administration ordered it to ease up on restrictions by 2015. But not all spy robots fly. DHS is also developing robots that resemble fish, and deploys tunnel-bots deep into drug-smuggling tunnels along the border…

(See the rest at Wired.com)

Blizzard of 1888: The Worst Blizzard of all Time?

New York City during the Great Blizzard of 1888

New York City during the Great Blizzard of 1888
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Snow is starting to fall in northern New England as the region braces for an epic blizzard. Snowfall is expected to reach 2 to 3 feet when all is said and done. *Yawn* Unless things change dramatically, the Blizzard of 2013 will be nothing compared to the Great Blizzard of 1888. 125 years ago, 40 to 50 inches fell in New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, and Connecticut over a four day period. Saratoga Springs received almost 6 feet!

The Blizzard of 1888 snowdrifts were epic. In Keene, New Hampshire, “drifts of hard packed snow from 12-15 feet deep were piled across the roads, and half way to the top of the second story windows.” And that was on the low end. Whopping 30 to 40 foot snowdrifts were common with the highest drift topping out at 52 feet (not the best day for residents of Gravesend, New York). Here’s more on the Great Blizzard of 1888 from Forgotten New England:

During New England‘s Blizzard of 1888, also known as the Great White Hurricane, over four feet of snow fell in Connecticut and Massachusetts.  The storm dumped as much as 40 inches of snow in New York and New Jersey.  In a world before road salt and snowblowers, the Great White Hurricane suspended communication and travel in the U.S. Northeast for nearly a week in March 1888.  History most remembers the particularly horrific conditions in New York City.  There, the New York World reported that almost two feet of snow had fallen amidst biting 50 mph winds and sub-zero temperatures.  However, the storm also wrought havoc in smaller northern cities along the US East Coast…

(See the rest at Forgotten New England)