Welcome to the April 2008 round up of news and views on UFOs, alien abductions, crop circles, ghosts, the paranormal, the unexplained, the weird and the wonderful.
MoD UFO Files
By the time you read this, the first of the MoD UFO files scheduled for release may be available. 160 files are earmarked for release in a rolling programme of disclosure that will take 3 years to complete, with 2 or 3 files being made available each month, at the National Archives. The release of these files follows a similar decision taken by the French Government last year and is a reaction to the fact that the MoD receives more Freedom of Information Act requests about UFOs than about any other subject. The MoD press office are finding it difficult to give a precise timescale, but when I broke this story in the media at Christmas, a spokesperson said that the process was expected to commence in the Spring. Now expectation has been raised, expect MoD to release 2 or 3 files very quickly, so as to avoid a good news story about open government becoming a bad news story about delay.
X-Conference 2008 will be held on April 18 - 20 at the Hilton Gaithersburg near Washington DC. This conference is best categorized as relating to Exopolitics, a controversial subset of ufology that takes the extraterrestrial presence and an associated government cover-up as fact and deals with issues of how people can prepare for contact and deal in a political and diplomatic context with extraterrestrials. Organized by Stephen Bassett, speakers include astronauts Dr Edgar Mitchell and Dr Brian O'Leary, former Canadian Minister of Defense Paul Hellyer, and ex United States Army officer Dr John Alexander. Check out www.x-conference.com for details.
MUFON 39th International UFO Symposium
Talking of conferences, details of the Mutual UFO Network annual conference this summer were recently announced. The event will be held at the Doubletree Hotel in San Jose and speakers include General Wilfried De Brouwer, Dr. Anthony Choy and Captain Rodrigo Garrido. I will also be giving a presentation which will include an update on the release of the MoD archive of UFO files. The event lasts from July 24 - 27. Check out http://www.mufon.com/symposia.htm for further details. Additional speakers may be announced over the next few weeks.
Last year the MoD released a formerly classified study into remote viewing, sometimes known as psychic spying. The release was made in response to a Freedom of Information Act request and the MoD has now released some of the background papers from 2 Defence Intelligence Staff files. The 2 files have intriguing titles. The first, DI51/GPO21, is titled Novel Bio-Effects Psychotronics, Remote Viewing. The second, DI51/GPO28, is titled Novel Phenomena, Remote Viewing. More about this next month.
Easter was early this year. In fact, it was the earliest Easter since 1913 and was the earliest Easter that anyone alive today will experience. Easter fell on 23 March and will not do so again for another 220 years. Because people believe the Last Supper was a Jewish Passover meal, Easter is determined not by the calendar but, like Passover itself, by the moon. Easter Day falls on the Sunday that follows the first full moon to occur on or after 21 March. Accordingly, Easter can be as early as 22 March or as late as 25 April. Easter will not fall on 22 March until the year 2285.
Large Hadron Collider
The countdown has begun. The largest machine ever constructed, the Large Hadron Collider, is about to go live. The particle accelerator has a circumference of 27 kilometers and straddles the borders of France and Switzerland, near Geneva. Buried underground, the plan is to smash proton together at virtually the speed of light and thus recreate conditions that are thought to have existed a fraction of a second after the Big Bang. Scientists hope that the results may shed light on some of the great mysteries of our time, including Dark Matter and the search for extra dimensions. It may also detect new and exotic particles, such as the Higgs Boson, the existence of which has, thus far, only been theoretically postulated. The first beams are expected to be circulated in May 2008, with the first high energy collisions being planned shortly thereafter. Expect to see massive media coverage as we get nearer to the time when this amazing machine begins to operate. In the meantime, check out www.cern.ch/lhc for more information.
The Time Traveler's Wife
Having recommended the movie Cloverfield in my last column, I thought I should mention one of the best books that I have read in recent years. The Time Traveler's Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger, is part love story and part science fiction novel. It tells the story of Clare and Henry, who met when she was 6 and he was 36, but married when she was 22 and he was 30. Henry suffers from what is called Chrono-Displacement, which means that he time travels involuntarily, particularly when stressed. It is a wonderful new twist on the concept of time travel, cleverly plotted and beautifully written. New Line Cinema are making the film, due out in November 2008. Try to read the book first.
OK, we seem to have hit a bit of a theme here, so if I mention The Time Traveler's Wife, I must also mention Doomsday Book, by Connie Willis. Another book that has at its core the concept of time travel, but is so beautifully crafted that you see it not as a science fiction novel but as a historical drama. It tells the story of a time travel experiment gone wrong, where a history student planning to observe medieval England is stranded at the time of the Black Death. Why on earth this wonderful book has not been made into a major Hollywood movie I will never though, though I suspect it is because the Michael Crichton book Timeline was made. It has a similar plot, but I think Doomsday Book is the better book. It one the Hugo and Nebula awards for science fiction. Like The Time Traveler's Wife, you do not have to a science fiction fan to enjoy this wonderful book.
Author, journalist and TV personality Nick Pope used to run the British Government's UFO Project and is now recognised as one of the world's leading experts on UFOs, the unexplained and conspiracy theories.
Check out www.nickpope.net for more information about Nick.