'Star Wars' One Step Closer
The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has received government permission to field test its HELLADS laser weapon system.
“The technical hurdles were daunting, but it is extremely gratifying to have produced a new type of solid-state laser with unprecedented power and beam quality for its size,” DARPA program manager Rich Bagnell said in a statement cited by the agency’s website. The testing is set to start this summer.
High-Energy Liquid Laser Area Defense System (HELLADS) has been in development since 2003. It is intended for use as a protection system for aircraft.
“Enemy surface-to-air threats to manned and unmanned aircraft have become increasingly sophisticated,” DARPA states on its website. “High power lasers can provide a solution to this challenge, as they harness the speed and power of light to counter multiple threats.”
The statement adds however, that the laser could also be used for attack: “Laser weapon systems provide additional capability for offensive missions as well—adding precise targeting with low probability of collateral damage.”
To deploy that in practice, though, DARPA says the weapon must be made smaller and lighter than currently possible – and America’s drones will have to stick with relatively imprecise missiles for the time being.
The goal of the HELLADS project is to build a laser with 150 kilowatts of power, weighing under 750 kilograms, and with a size less than 3 cubic meters.
In mid-April, DARPA’s contractor General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI), unveiled the HEL Generation 3 laser. It meets these size specifications and is fitted with a module generator system, which enables it to produce 75 to 300-kilowatt beams.
Developers believe it can be mounted on GA-ASI’s new Avenger drone. The drone’s jet engine is capable of producing enough energy to recharge the laser’s battery in flight, essentially giving the weapon infinite ammunition. - 'Star Wars' One Step Closer
Town hopes that fake whale will fix their sea lion problem
A community in Oregon is bringing in some unusual help to fix their sea lion problem. They're hoping a fake killer whale from Bellingham, Washington, will do the trick.
"I don't have any idea in the world if it'll work or even should work. It's just kind of a fun, crazy thing to do," said Terry Buzzard, who runs Island Marine Cruises in Bellingham. He owns a life-size mock orca which he's used to promote his business during parades and other events.
Buzzard recently heard about the problems at the Port of Astoria, where hundreds of sea lions have taken over the docks, preventing boat owners from using their slips. He offered up his giant mock orca, which will head south to act as a scarecrow of sorts.
"If it doesn't look like an orca whale and they call our bluff, then I guess they'll sit there and thumb their noses at us," said Buzzard. The Port of Astoria has tried using electrified mats to deter sea lions, but those didn't work all that well. They've considered putting up fences, but they're worried the animals will just knock them down.
Strange happenings on Missouri’s ‘other’ interstate
I have lived in the Missouri Ozarks for more than 30 years, after growing up in Jackson County. I still have friends and family up there who, when they simply say “the interstate,” are referring to I-70. Down in this neck of the woods, of course, we mean I-44. Traveling eastward, both of them lead to St. Louis.
A good friend of mine who lives in the KC-area and shares my interest in all things unexplained, made the comment that the number and variety of incidents reported over the years from along I-70 were just as plentiful and would make an equally interesting column. So, without further ado, here it is.
One characteristic that these to relatively narrow bands of Midwestern countryside have in common is a rich history of unexplained events long before the first politician looked at the concept of a national system of freeways and asked himself, “What’s in it for me?” But during the period that these two major Missouri traffic arteries have existed, the quantity and variety of unexplained reports originating in these two bands have been remarkably similar. UFOs and anomalous lights predominate, with lesser numbers of Bigfoot encounters, haunted places and other phenomena rounding out the data.
Back in February, for example, I received an email from a lady who had been traveling westbound on I-70 at about 2 a.m. on Jan. 28, 2015, when she had a brief but close encounter with a UFO, just east of the Highway 54 junction in Callaway County. The next morning, she told a neighbor whom she knew to be interested in such matters. He is a friend of mine and urged her to contact me.
“I was just driving along listening to the radio and enjoying the light traffic at that hour of the morning,” she began. “There was a car about 200 yards ahead of me going the same direction and all of a sudden his brake lights came on, and he stopped right in the highway. I figured it was probably an animal crossing the road and I slowed way down. He was still sitting there in the right-hand lane and I was going to slow down even more. Then I saw what was in his headlights and I stopped, too. Read more at Strange happenings on Missouri’s ‘other’ interstate
Paranormal Investigations...Fast-Growing Hobby
Saurabh Singh is a commercial pilot who’s just conquered a deep fear. It wasn’t fear of flying but a dread of the dark and of what he might encounter in its depths that had Singh spooked for years. Until a few months ago, he wouldn’t even sleep without his bedroom lights on. But a three-month course in paranormal studies has changed all that. “The course equipped me with knowledge of what ghosts are all about and how to deal with them. Now, I sleep peacefully in the dark, secure in my new-found knowledge,” says Singh.
He is not alone in the pursuit of the unknown. An increasing number of urban Indian professionals are signing up for courses and training in paranormal sciences from a host of institutes that have mushroomed across India. And the cost of these courses — which can touch Rs 75,000 — is no deterrent.
Some, like Singh, sign up to face their fears, but for others it’s all about the thrill and sense of adventure. “When I started the Indian Paranormal Society a few years back, the word ‘paranormal’ was not familiar to everyone. I am happy that so many people are now taking interest in paranormal investigations. Ghosts are nothing but human consciousness without a physical body,” says Delhi-based Gaurav Tiwari, the country’s most famous ghost-hunter.
His Indian Paranormal Society runs the Ghost Research & Investigators of Paranormal (GRIP) academy from which, Tiwari says, around 3,700 have ‘graduated’. The academy’s three-month-long course can cost anything between Rs 45,000 and Rs 75,000 depending on the level of specialisation one wants to achieve.
It includes training in the use of ghost-hunting devices such as the electromagnetic field meter, infra-red thermometer, electronic voice phone, full spectrum cameras etc.
These can detect changes in electromagnetic field and temperatures which, paranormal investigators point out, can be indicators of paranormal activity.
Has Tiwari come across any such activity? Quite often, he says, citing an investigation he conducted last year in Delhi’s Karkardooma court where advocates complained of unexplained events at night. “The lawyers installed CCTV cameras and one day, at around 11.55pm, they saw all the computers getting switched on.
They also saw a bright light in the shape of a ball. When I was called to conduct my investigation after a few days, I put balloons on every computer and ordered aloud (to a suspected paranormal entity) to switch on the computers, move the balloons left and right, and to open the web browser. All these commands were carried out. Our electronic voice phenomena recorder also captured a voice that asked us to ‘get out’. The place was really haunted,” he says.
Around 50 paranormal teams and societies across India are in the pursuit of such paranormal occurrences, with Delhi alone boasting of over a dozen. Interestingly, a lot of these are run by doctors and engineers.
Kolkata-based Soumen is a mechanical engineer by day and a self-taught paranormal investigator by night. He was attracted to the paranormal during spiritual classes in his school where ‘soul’ was an often-repeated word. Like Tiwari, he too believes that ghosts are human consciousness. “Ghosts do not appear in white saris as most people have come to believe from movies. Their paranormal activity is nothing but an attempt to complete the task they couldn’t complete in their lifetime. This generally happens when someone dies in an accident,” says Somen, who founded the Paranormal Society of India (PRSI) along with a lawyer friend.
The most common signs of a place being haunted, he says, are unexplained shadows and noises, the feeling of being watched, lights turning on and off on their own, balls of unexplained light, eerie crying, unexplained handprints etc. “But in 90% cases that we handle, there is no real haunting,” says Soumen.
Bangalore-based dentist Rahul Kumar says he turned a paranormal investigator because science cannot explain everything. “Many behavioral and physical conditions of man lie beyond the boundaries of medical science. There are many doctors in our team of paranormal investigators who discuss cases that medical science cannot explain,” says Kumar, who is part of the Pentacle Paranormal Research Society.
The society, set up by former journalist Shishir Kumar takes the study of the paranormal a notch higher to include the mysteries of extra-terrestrials and UFOs.
Team Pentacle, which claims to have captured the first ever full-body apparition in India, runs the Institute of Paranormal Research and UFOlogy. “Our team has doctors, engineers, physiotherapists and charted accountants who blend the psychic and scientific approach in paranormal investigations,” says Mumbai-based Shishir, adding that most cases come from Mumbai and Pune. - Paranormal investigations a fast-growing hobby
Brett Butler has been entertaining the world for years with her stand-up comedy and acting on hit shows like the award-winning sitcom 'Grace Under Fire' and more recently 'Anger Management.' Brett will soon be bringing her unique perspective to an ongoing podcast series covering everything from comedy to world news, the metaphysical and more. Brett and I have deliberated and consulted together for several years...I consider her a trusted friend. Brett is a true intuitive / psychic medium and you can book a personal reading with her at http://www.realbrettbutler.com/
Recently I reported that Arcane Radio will be starting back this Summer as a LIVE broadcast. Brett has promised to join Sean and I on the new and improved Arcane Radio! Check the Arcane Radio Facebook page for further updates. Stay tuned...Lon
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