Letters to the Editors

Letter from the Editors (12/01/01)
Aqui Ordonez (12/30/01)
Gary Tigerman (3/20/02)
Bob Harrison (3/22/02)
Mac Tonnies (11/08/02)
Gehrke and Dayes (3/31/03)

From: nfs@mindspring.com
Subject: Letter from the Editors

Welcome to the first issue of New Frontiers in Science, an on-line journal devoted to the study of unexplained and controversial scientific phenomena.

Scientific revolutions result from the discovery and study of anomalies—phenomena that conflict with prevailing scientific theories. Yet, historically, science has been and still is, resistant to and intolerant of anomalies.

In both scientific journals and mainstream science magazines today, articles and papers on topics deemed ãoutside the boxä by the scientific establishment are subject to a form of censorship—seldom published and often simply not reviewed. Those of us who have attempted to publish on anomalies research know how difficult it is to find a journal that will consider publishing this type of material.

NFS came about because we believe that there should be a forum for scientific research outside the mainstream—a forum that doesn't cater to speculation or sensationalism. NFS is open to research on a wide range of topics, including: the search for extraterrestrial life, anomalous earth phenomena, new physics, communication with non-human intelligence, the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, unidentified flying objects, prehistoric civilizations, the origin of life, the history of science, and others. New topics will be introduced on a quarterly basis, however, the site will be updated each month with new additions to research threads, responses from readers, links, and topic area FAQs. Unsolicited submissions from readers are encouraged, provided they conform to our guidelines for submissions, which require authors to present data, research methods, and results.

If you are a researcher, we look forward to your contributions to this exciting new Internet journal. If you are a visitor, we encourage you to subscribe and we welcome your feedback.

Mark Carlotto
Holladay Weiss

From: Aqui Ordonez <aordonez@viacat.com>
Date: 12/29/01
Subject: Distributed Computing

As is mentioned in the article by Mac Tonnies on the NFS website, over 3 million people are running, or at least have downloaded,  SETI@Home software with the hope of identifying indicators of alien life by analyzing radio telescope data .  The SETI@Home web site indicates that, to this point, over 841,000 years of CPU time has been dedicated to this analysis.  I believe that Malin Science Systems has released all, or at least 78,000, of the images captured by MGS.  Considering the aforementioned facts, would there be some merit to developing a distributed computing application along the lines of SETI@Home that could analyze the MGS images with the intention of identifying other apparently artificial objects on the surface of Mars?  Certainly the founders of the NFS web site possess the technical know-how i.e. the computing algorithms necessary, to conduct such an analysis.  I, for one, think this would be a beneficial pursuit and I would be more interested in participating in such a search  than the "needle in a cosmic haystack" hunt that SETI@Home represents.  Releasing such software in a freeware format might also help draw more traffic to the NFS web site and produce other paying supporters.
Just a thought.  Happy Holidays.
Link to SETI@Home stats:
Link to Malin Space Science Systems MGS images:

This is an excellent idea. A shape-from-shading algorithm has been available for some time via Mark Carlotto's Martian Enigmas web site. Provided over the Internet as a free processing service it has been used by many to create digital elevation models (DEMs) from images for studying selected surface features in 3-D. Other algorithms, e.g., for detecting non-random patterns might also be useful. Further discussion and ideas on this topic are encouraged. Eds.

Date: 3/22/02
From: Bob Harrison

Subject: The geometry of the D&M pyramid—where now?

With the new Mars Odyssey image revealing that the D&M "Pyramid" is: (a) a highly symmetrical five sided pyramid orientated in a southerly rather than a northerly direction and, (b) that there is a fifth ridge line entirely separate from the north-east buttress evidenced in all images taken of the D&M pyramid—where does this leave the D&M geometry of Erol Torun based on the assumption that the isolated north-east buttress was once the end of a fifth ridge line? The diamond/arrowhead shape formed by the D&M and the triangular platform adjoining its north-west facet appears to be another nail in the coffin of the Torun geometry.

However, I believe that the Torun geometry still has validity if we assume that the D&M pyramid is an artificial construction—for the structurally redundant north-east buttress must have served some geometrical function for its builders. So what was the reason to add this buttress to the D&M's elegant pentagonal shape?

It seems to me that the north-east buttress may actually have been a later addition to the D&M to feed back into the existing design a new geometry to co-exist with the one it was originally designed with. Erol Torun and Richard Hoagland determined that the extended line from the D&M peak to the north-east buttress probably points to the peak of the far away Tholus formation, which also may be artificial. If the Tholus is a newer construction than the D&M, then its siting, and that of the north-east buttress, could have been arranged in such a way as to create the northerly pointing pentagonal figure of Torun using four of the original corners of the D&M.

If something like the night time infra-red camera of the Mars Odyssey were to confirm that the south-east buttress of the D&M actually did originally match the Torun geometry exactly, then the above hypothesis gives an explanation of how this geometry came to be embedded in a pyramid of a different design.

This proposal and other ideas are explained more fully in two web pages that I've put on the internet:

The task now is to explore whether there is anything geometrically significant to the new "design" of the D&M discovered by Mars Odyssey. Best Regards.

Date: 3/20/02
From: Gary Tigerman

Subject: D&M Pyramid

Great article on the D&M imaging. Hard to understand why it isn't front page news at the N.Y. Times. Any comment from JPL or NASA? I think if Arthur C. Clarke sees these Themis captures he might get pretty excited, too. Are they converting any disbelievers, or at least anybody you might describe as mainstream scientists with an open mind? And is the SPSR going to lobby Malin, et al, for Themis targetting of specific sites? Good luck with all.

Date: 3/17/02
From: Ron Rossi

Subject: Face on Mars

I am a subscriber to your web site and am always fascinated by your discoveries. In view of this most recent finding, the subject begs the question: what are the implications? What do you suppose are the odds of finding a second naturally formed feature like "the face" on the same planet (Mars)? The probability of it being "naturally formed" must be very low unless there is some unknown geologic process at work. Very interesting!
Keep up the good work.

Eds: We think the odds are quite low of this formation occuring by chance and hope to present some results on this at some point.

Date: 11/8/02
From: Mac Tonnies

Subject: SETI and Intelligent Alien Life in the Solar System

SETI and Intelligent Alien Life in the Solar System

by Mac Tonnies

1. The Demise of "Academic" SETI?

The "mainstream" Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) has finally conceded that it's not impossible that aliens are already here, rather than diligently manning radio telescopes hundreds of light years away. Inevitably interpreted by some as signaling a conspiratorial inside agenda, SETI's change of perspective is more accurately attributed to recent advances in science and their implications for the human future.

While SETI continues to ridicule the UFO phenomenon as evidence of ET visitation, arguments by physicist/ufologist Stanton Friedman remain especially topical. Friedman, a long-time critic of SETI's justifications (he's interpreted the acronym as "Silly Effort To Investigate"), has justifiably lambasted the "old school" SETI assumption that extraterrestrial civilizations will necessarily forego interstellar travel because of the daunting requirements of chemical rockets. Indeed, SETI's long-held contention that beings thousands or millions of years more advanced than us would be constrained by Apollo-era technology (already near-obsolete here on Earth) has always seemed something of a convenient anachronism for researchers content to keep the study of ETI comfortably academic.

2. The Postbiological Cosmos

Rapid advances in computing, manufacturing and physics (theoretical and otherwise) suggest that intelligent extraterrestrials (assuming they exist), are almost certainly more exotic and technically capable that previously assumed. Scientists such as roboticist Hans Moravec, who predicts that the human species will become effectively obsolete within the next few hundred years, and K. Eric Drexler, whose work with nanotechnology has done nothing less than redefine how futurists view the coming decades, have collectively modeled a future in which artificial intelligence is near-omnipresent ("ubiquitous computing" or "ubicomp") and practical travel between stars is moved out of the arena of wishful thinking and into the realm of the imminently possible.

Recent books such as Moravec's "Robot: Mere Machine to Transcendent Mind" and Ray Kurzweil's "The Age of Spiritual Machines" present technologies as optimistic as any dreamed by Arthur C. Clarke--and as potentially hazardous as the dystopian nightmares of neo-Luddite Bill Joy.

At the same time, breakthroughs in fields as seemingly arcane as quantum teleportation (and possibly antigravity) reveal a universe alive with untapped potential. If the human species can survive what astronomer Carl Sagan poetically termed our "technological adolescence," predicting the future with any hope of accuracy becomes impossible. In all probability, the minds that will plot our trajectory through the next millennium will be humanity's cybernetic offspring; the role of humans as we know them is quite unguessable (although Moravec argues that we will coexist peacefully with our "mind children," perhaps even merging with them until the distinction between "animate"and "inanimate" is thoroughly dissolved).

3. SETI's Disturbing Double Standard

Such speculation fuels SETI's new intellectual renaissance, as addressed by senior researchers Seth Shostak and Jill Tarter (the inspiration for Jodie Foster's character in "Contact"). SETI's reappraisal of the galactic neighborhood is both welcome and long overdue. Rather than reflecting a hidden agenda, SETI's willingness to entertain once-heretical notions indicates the (perhaps grudging) need to acknowledge the changing scientific zeitgeist.

However, SETI's implicit rejection of UFOs and evidence for extraterrestrial artifacts on Mars betrays its frailty as a political entity. Ignoring the evidence in Cydonia is ironic, as Carl Sagan's own early calculations suggested that our solar system may have been visited once every 20,000 years. Even if Sagan grossly overestimated, a single visiting ET civilization could have left artifacts within our ability to discover. (This scenario is presented in the Brookings Institute's famous report to NASA, with Mars cited as a candidate for ET intervention.)

Interestingly, mainstream SETI astronomers have made no secret of their searches for "Bracewell probes," theoretical automatic devices left by visiting civilizations (much like the "monolith" left buried on the Moon in "2001"). Bracewell probes, in any exist, are thought to occupy orbital Lagrange points, where they can remain stable for millennia. Acting as calling cards, such devices could alert their long-departed creators upon detecting intelligent life; conversely, the probes themselves could establish a dialogue with an emerging technical species. (I personally think that such a "machine intelligence" could be responsible for some UFO encounters. A similar hypothesis has recently been advanced by Richard Dolan, author of "UFOs and the National Security State.")

Since SETI is willing to look for ET artifacts in space, why not planetary surfaces? Perhaps if the disconcertingly human-like "Face" hadn't first been discovered and popularized, radio SETI's attitude toward "planetary SETI" (the search for ETI on planetary bodies such as the Moon and Mars) would be different. Cydonia, with its implied "terrestrial connection," has been neatly excluded from mainstream SETI research for no apparent scientific reason (NASA's erroneous "tricks of light" and bungled MOLA data notwithstanding).

Merging planetary SETI and mainstream radio SETI promises to advance objective efforts to detect intelligent alien life, even if eventual "contact" is one-way. The hoped-for signal sought by Jill Tarter may not be an electromagnetic emission from some distant sun, but a collection of geometric anomalies on a planet we've already pronounced as "dead."

Not long ago, a geologist involved in JPL's robotic exploration of Mars remarked that the proper way to view the fourth planet was to "expect the unexpected." We would be wise to apply this maxim to the ongoing search for extraterrestrial intelligence as well.

Date: 3/28/03
From: Forrest Gehrke

Subject: Proposed binary dark star

Editors: Regarding your article on a long cycle binary system: Since you have calculated an orbit for this dark star of this proposed binary system, using Newtonian equations it should be known quite accurately where it is located and its projected area. Consequently would it not be possible to note occultation with stars in the far background? The background of these stars should be well mapped and as the dark star moves occultation should be able to be photographed.

Forrest Gehrke, Mountain Lakes, NJ

Date: 3/31/03
From: Vince Dayes

Subject: Proposed binary dark star

Dear Mr. Gehrke,

Thank you for your thoughtful comments on our article that recently appeared in "New Frontiers In Science".

You are correct that we have calculated/estimated possible orbits for our dark star using a 24,000 year period and probable mass estimates for a Brown Dwarf (.08 Sun Mass) and Black Hole or Neutron Star (6 times Sun Mass). However, this does not indicate where the dual star may be located. I believe this is an incorrect assumption on your part.

We believe our dark companion is currently in the direction towards the center of the galaxy, which would make it hard to find.

You are quite correct that occultation is probably the best way of providing undeniable evidence of the dark star as it moves through the heavens. Once its orbit is defined, it would indeed be easy to predict future occultations.

Thanks again for your interest in our project. I suspect that you are also hoping that our dark companion star is located in the near future. It would be a tremendous discovery.


Vince Dayes Binary Research Institute