January 28, 2013

Astrobiology and the Search for Extraterrestrial Life

As mankind begins to explore more of the universe, Astrobiologists will be in demand to help establish settlements on other planets and work to plan our future in space.  From General Sciences to human Philosophy, the study of Astrobiology encompasses a large spectrum of scientific disciplines free from sensationalism commonly attributed to today's space topics. University of Edinburgh's Charles Cockell is generously offering a free course about Astrobiology and the Search for Extraterrestrial Life starting today on Coursera. It's not too late to sign up and enjoy these very informative video lectures.  For those interested, participation in the course discussions as well as completing homework assignments can also earn a certificate of accomplishment.

January 27, 2013

In Reponse: El Dorado Questions

Recently we received an email from two students who were researching El Dorado for a Social Studies project. They wanted to know if we had any further information based on our article published on the Ancient Earth Mysteries website. El Dorado is a fun topic to explore because research leads to an important part of Central America and South American history, when the Spanish invaded.  Despite the benefits to the inquisition, the invasion was detrimental to the Aztecs, Inca, and Mayans. A great deal of knowledge and understanding of these cultures was lost to the destruction of Spanish Conquistadors.
Orellano and Pizarro

El Dorado itself is a difficult subject to find information on considering the very nature of how the legend originated, as part of the Spanish Inquisition and their conquest on the Inca Empire. Some researchers believe the legend of a Lost City of Gold might have been a tactic of the Inca (and Mayans) to distract Spanish invaders from destroying their cities. The conquistadors were in search of great wealth to bring back to Spain, as this was a major motive for exploring new worlds and funding future expeditions.

We do know by historical record the Inca and Mayans accumulated vast amounts of gold and theoretically not all of it was pillaged during Spanish invasions, and much was thrown to the bottom of a lake as offerings to the gods. This concept leads new age explorers to believe a large gold cache still resides somewhere, the Lost City of Gold, where the Inca hid their wealth to prevent the inquisition from stealing it. Many people have spent their entire lives searching for this legendary city in hopes to discover a treasure of a lifetime, but unfortunately these expeditions often end in frustration.

January 17, 2013

Orb Photography

Lately AMB has received a few questions about orb photography and how likely or not the masses shown are legitimate. There are several genuine photographs of orb phenomena which cannot be explained by conventional means, but there are many many more results from accidental or intentional photographing techniques.

As long term photographers, we understand it's important to know how light affects a subject as well as how camera equipment affects the final image. Taking pictures under low light conditions is not always an easy task. Quality night shots with a digital SLR can be touch and go at times; They're subjected to blurring when slowing the shutter or while opening the aperture to allow more light in. Often enough, high quality night photographs take a tripod, maybe a remote trigger, and the patience to get manual settings just right. These factors, however, make night photography a great opportunity to express creativity through light manipulation techniques. Understand that many compact point and shoot cameras are designed to automatically flip up a flash the moment scenery lighting is too low for the camera's settings to handle. Identifying a built-in flash in photographs is not too difficult because of extreme contrasts, the hard-points, where light from the flash concentrates the most. Natural lighting generally doesn't have these areas (unless intentional) and using speed lights (with a DSLR), can be compensated for with manual settings to ensure a proper exposure.

Built-in camera flashes are generally at the root of many orb photographs as it's their reflections being sent back to the camera lens to create spots, flares, and other types of camera artifacts sometimes misinterpreted as unidentified objects or spirit entities. Before arriving at the conclusion a photograph truly captures an unknown object of any type, be sure to go over the following checklist to rule out what it isn't:

  1. Flash reflecting off rain drops, snow, mist, moisture, insects or dust particles
  2. Obstructions between the camera and subject such as glass, screens, camera straps
  3. A lens or filter with dust, dirt, scratches or water marks
  4. Failing camera sensor creating single or groups of burnt pixels
  5. Other lights at the scene causing reflections
  6. Multiple exposures
  7. Other types of camera malfunction 

There is a trick to determine how a built-in flash is lighting a scene to check and see if it's the reason for creating reflective orbs in the photographs. Hold or fix a transparent colored plastic or gel sheet over the the camera's flash unit. When the flash is triggered, it will light the area using this makeshift flash filter. If the orbs are the same color, then they can be ruled as created by flash. If the orbs do not change color it's time to assess the scene a little more in depth to see what might be causing the lights. Look closely at the orbs, are they out of focus while the rest of the scene is in focus?

An object can appear blurred or out of focus for a number of reasons including moving too quickly for the camera settings or being out of sync with the lens' current focal length. Do a scene check, look for every possible light source that might be causing the orbs and trace the light paths. If the photograph(s) can face the above scrutiny and pass, perhaps it's truly a genuine capture of an unidentifiable object. Have a professional assess the image, in fact, have multiple professionals take a look and share it with friends. Photographs capturing something out of this world are rare, so it is important to share it with everyone to try and figure out what exactly the object might be.

January 5, 2013

Bigfoot, a Wild Relative?

Patterson Bigfoot
Continuing research in ancient mysteries subject matter has brought J.C. Vintner to the realm of Cryptozoology. Many related topics are fascinating on multiple levels and often provide us with an alternative perception of the world and its hidden dimensions. We may not be able to talk to our ancestors directly, yet through oral traditions passed down through the generations we can begin to decipher what it must have been like to live during those times. Those traditions also hint there is a possibility that modern sightings of Bigfoot might be attributed to a true. A living relative of us, provided that Home erectus (or a variant) managed to live another 300,000 years beyond what the archaeological record indicates.