Dargavs, Russia – The City of the Dead


With all the paranoia seeping into American society over Russia, thanks to the Trump administration, the gringa would like to take a moment to share some good and interesting stuff about Russia. You see, it’s so easy to generalize and say, “Russia bad” and forget all about the human element. Just because Trump and Putin and their respective governing bodies may be ruthless, greedy megalomaniacs, the Russian people are generally just like people everywhere. Some good. Some bad. And the nation of Russia is filled with rich history just like every other place on earth.

The gringa feels a bit guilty of all the complaining and criticizing I’ve been doing lately. It’s about time to focus on some good stuff. And the Russian good stuff I plan to focus on is all dead. In fact, an entire city of the dead.

Believe it or not, a city of dead Russians gets 4 out of 5 stars from travel experts as a must-see place to visit for guests to Russia. So, if you are planning your own tour, put the city of Dargavs on your bucket list. Also, pack your best Sherlock Holmes gear because this little gem is filled with mystery. Maybe you can crack the case and take your place in history as well.

When you arrive you will not be greeted with an eerie sight of Russian zombies and fog-filled ancient cobbled streets. You will discover a hillside burial ground set against the rugged backdrop of the Greater Caucasus mountain range.

Dargavs is found in North Ossetia. Stone structures, most with steep tiled roofs, house the resting places of ancient citizens called the great Alans who were a sub-set of the Sarmatian tribes. Although they are well-known as a nomadic, pastoral people speaking an ancient Eastern Iranian dialect, who lived around the first millennium of our current era.

The surviving ancestors of the great Alans buried belongings with their loved ones when they were entombed. Among the relics concealed in the crypts of this mysterious necropolis are:

  • Open, boat-like vessels to hold the corpse rather than a traditional coffin (curious since there are no rivers nearby)
  • Oars
  • Coins
  • Clothing

Despite some UFOlogists convinced the great Alans were really extra-terrestrials, the gringa thinks they were just regular humans. It seems they had beliefs and lifestyle practices that link them to every other group of humans trying to eke out an existence with primitive means in a harsh climate. Consider the stuff that researchers and archaeologists can all agree on that is very “humanizing”:

  • The crypts house the remains of entire families throughout multiple chambers and sometimes multiple levels.
  • Criminals were entombed in “exile”, their tombs constructed outside the collection of crypts for the Alan clan in general.

5.9.2b

  • Each tomb features a well at the entrance to the crypt that contains coins. So, the great Alans were sophisticated and human enough to understand economics, earnings and wealth.
  • They practiced some sort of religion or superstitions that had a belief in the afterlife hence the construction of a symbolic watchtower to guard the tombs and is, perhaps, the explanation for entombment with boats despite not being a river-faring people.

5.9.2c

There are many theories to explain some of the mysterious features that are, indeed curious, as well as to try to understand what the story was for the great Alans.

Religion: It is presumed that the boats and wells with coins are possibly related to the great Alans’ religious beliefs. The ancient Ossetians are believes to be pagans. However, a pagan is not an atheist. They do have religious beliefs, or superstitions, if you will.

Many religions feature boats and rivers as the means of travel to the world of the afterlife.  The river Styx of Greek mythology is, perhaps, the most well-known.  However, Acheron was also a river the dead navigated to the underworld on a ferry with Charon at the helm who served the king of Hades. It was known as the river of pain and at times, in legends and myth, is interchangeable with the River Styx.

An interesting note is that ferryman Charon also required a fee of a single coin. Non-payment meant a soul was left to wander aimlessly the banks of the River Acheron, presumably in great pain and anguish. However, if you are entombed with your own boat, why would you expect to need the services of another boatman? Perhaps the rivers Styx/Acheron were not the ultimate destination for the great Alans.

Ancient rivers of the underworld are also:

  • Lethe, also known as the river of forgetfulness and oblivion of sleep (no fee required).
  • Phlegethon was written about by Plato who believed it led to the deepest parts of Tartarus. Dante also penned a bit about this river in his legendary “Inferno”, it existing in the Seventh Circle of Hell, a boiling river where souls were tormented in cages by Centaurs tasked with dipping them in to the river’s scalding depths. Probably not the intended afterlife river for a people who hoped to arrive with their own boats.
  • Cocytus, the River of Wailing, joins with Acheron, ultimately leading to a frozen lake. It is the destination of traitors and all who commit sins against humanity. This may have been the destination of the criminals entombed in the outer circle, the Cocytus being a river that encircles the underworld.
  • Oceanus, another afterlife river that encircles the entire underworld, this freshwater stream was where the edge of the world met the cosmos. Although some think this would have been a gloomy, lonely afterlife existence, the gringa thinks this may have actually been the most coveted locale of the dead because they would be the ones nearest the realm of the gods. This may have been where the great Alans hoped their souls would be headed after death and they would need their own boats to navigate the waters of Oceanus. So, then, what was the coin for?

History of the Wishing Well: Wishing wells are common all over the world. Toss in a coin for good luck. We all do it. Anthropologists date the practice as far back as ancient Egypt and the Mesoamerican cultures. It was common practice to placate the gods with gifts. Want your natural water resources to remain sweet and pure? Toss in a valuable coin as a gift and hope for the best. This lends credence to the local legend that loved ones of dead great Alans would toss a coin in the well for good luck with regard to the afterlife situation of a family member who had passed.

Of interesting note is the local legend that the entire clan was wiped out by a plague. This is to explain the small, rectangular open entries into the tombs rather than be sealed crypts. It is said that once a person’s entire family died, having no one left to bury them, once becoming sick, the remaining survivor would climb into the tomb and await death. The gringa wonders if they tossed a coin into the well for themselves since they knew no one else was left alive to wish them well on the other side?

If you plan to visit, expect quite a trek to get there and plan to be your own guide. The place is remote and rarely visited. Even the locals avoid it on pain of death. It’s about a 3 hour drive from the nearest thing that can be called civilization. And the road has a reputation for danger. But, from the looks of things, if you like adventure, history and mystery, this will be a very satisfying jaunt!

Sources:

Encylclopedia of Sacred Places, Volume 1 by Norbert Brookman

RT

Theoi

University of California Irvine Anthropology

Dante’s “Inferno

English Russia

Image Credits: Atlas Obscura

Video Credit: Sam Conney

SYRIA UPDATE: Commentary & Supposition


Let’s suppose for a minute that the allegations are true: that Putin promised the White House and a share in Rosneft to Trump in exchange for lifting Russian sanctions, blackmail of Ukraine’s leader and installing a pro-Russian Ukraine leader which would provide unfettered access to Ukraine’s pipelines. Those pipelines are worthless without the crude being shipped out of the Middle East. Russia’s only port for crude shipping in the Middle East is in SYRIA. What if Syria was part of the bargain?

Russia couldn’t very well topple its own ally it is fighting beside in a civil war. Could it be that Trump or Putin would stage a dark op to cast Assad in such a light that the US could justify a military action so crippling that Syria’s only survival becomes completely dependent on Russia? Russia could then install a new government in Syria, staffed by its own operatives. Trump and Putin would then become the most powerful and wealthy men in the entire world.

But what would happen if this dynamic duo had their plans exposed? It is suspected that Putin is the authority behind the assassination of those with vital knowledge. The suspected body count is now up to 10. What if Trump has become paranoid that he or one of his loved ones might become a Russian liability as US intelligence communities creep their investigations forward? What if Trump decided to cut his losses, that this is all getting too complicated and bothersome and he’s just not enjoying himself any longer? What if Trump tried to cut and run from his Putin obligations? What would happen then? What if this is what is happening?

What if a war is actually about to break out because one crook tried to double-cross another crook and these two crooks both happen to be in control of 2 of the most powerful and deadly military forces in the world? The world is watching 2 madmen on a stage and we have no idea what the real plot is.

The gringa has few solid answers, plenty of questions, and a treasure trove of US documented history that indicates that a dark operation by the US is entirely plausible. I can also guarantee you that Trump’s strike on Syria was NOT motivated by his great, big, humanitarian heart that was bleeding on behalf of suffering, gassed Syrian children. And damn his heretical invocation of the name of God for his actions.

Many dark operations have, in fact, already gone down in US history before. The gringa warns her dear readers to beware. Be very cautious moving forward as you attempt to decide your own position in this very dangerous situation.

The US mainstream media will most likely fall in line. For some news agencies it will be sudden. Others will deliver a slow drip, drip, drip of conditioning to gradually mold the minds of skeptics. But expect all US mainstream media to eventually get around to demonizing Assad and hail President Trump. Americans should beware of the same media that sold us the deceitful bill of goods that gave us Iraq during the Bush administration. Read media from other nations. As you do, you will become acutely aware that Trump, and viz a viz America, is being called every name in the book from rogue nation to terrorist.

State sponsored media in Russia is prepping its population to support, and even demand, a showdown with the US. America is being painted as monsters, the puppets of Zionist terrorists in Israel. Russian media is capitalizing on the love loss between Trump and US neighbors south of the border. Many leaders of countries in Central and South America are pondering over the same possibilities the gringa has mentioned here and in the previous Special Report of yesterday.

There have even been some US southern neighbors welcoming Russia. Just this month it was announced that Russia was shoring up its military and economic alliances with these South American countries that are practically at America’s back door: Argentina, Cuba, Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela. While Trump was busy denigrating neighbors that could make or break our national security, Putin was investing in a local strategy of power and influence. You see why the gringa say, “Take care, dear readers.”

Trump’s actions have been extremely immature and downright dangerous. His lack of sophistication has driven him to desperate actions. Trump has now painted targets on the backs of every American abroad, whether living abroad or traveling for business or pleasure. As the gringa discussed events with her dear caveman, he reminded her of the numerous kidnappings, tortures and murders of Americans that took place in the 70s as the reputation of America became diminished abroad.

Not only is Russia preparing for a confrontation with US sailors in the Mediterranean off the shores of Syria, but Russian ally Iran sits poised for Putin’s direction. Make no mistake about what is happening. Trump is the worst national disaster in the US since the Great Depression. I hope the few points his popularity polls crept upward are worth to him all the lives his megalomania is costing the world. The US president is a madman. And he is a madman who is either in league with another madman, Putin, or has double-crossed that madman. Either way, this is the worst news the entire world could receive.

SPECIAL REPORT: Trump, Putin & Syria


To understand the significance of what just happened, it is important to ask the right questions. Although the gringa would never deny the importance of humanitarian actions, we first have to determine if the American people have been told the truth of what happened in Syria or if we have been duped to support a dark operation. Please read on with an open mind. More importantly, follow the links to further your own personal research in order to draw the most informed conclusion. Even after the research the gringa has already done, she is still left with more questions. Although I am deeply moved by the suffering of the Syrian people, I cannot support Trump’s actions.

Trump had been quietly building up troops in the region of Syria’s conflict since February yet the mainstream media rarely reported these movements. Why?

Trump has always criticized publicizing intended military action as a stupid way of giving the target a head’s up. Yet he notified Russia and Syria officials of his intentions, though not the public. Russia and Syria had time to evacuate personnel and critical equipment and supplies. However, it appears that innocent Syrian civilians were left behind to become collateral damage, public sympathy insurance for Syrian and Russian anti-American propaganda. Also notice in Russia’s drone footage it only appears that outbuildings and insignificant runways were destroyed. Unscathed are major runways, earthen, concrete open hangars with aircraft parked within and aircraft parked in the open. Why?

Russia has troops deployed strategically around the world. Build-ups have been reported by many European nations that see Russia as a growing threat. Yet Trump did not think it necessary to be concerned of Russia retaliation to the US or our allies. Why?

Trump is an avid conspiracy theorist who has publicly insulted and questioned the integrity of the US intelligence community. Such intelligence would be required to verify the identity of who authorized the Syrian gas attack. Conflicting reports throughout Europe, the Middle East and Asia raise possibilities that it was a false flag event staged by the rebels and terrorists designed to be blamed upon Assad. Yet Trump immediately chose to trust the US intelligence community and reject conspiracy possibilities intended to provoke this very response. Why?

Trump has consistently praised and supported the brutal leadership characteristics of Putin and Assad. Yet suddenly he changes his position and engages in an act of war with lightning speed. Why?

Historically, when a president is fraught with unpopularity, low employment, paralyzing controversy, and stagnant economy a war temporarily solves these problems. For a president accused, and being investigated, for treason and collusion with Russia, what more significant gesture to refute the accusations than to attack Russia through an ally proxy? Considering how much power and wealth is at stake between a Putin-Trump alliance, it is entirely possible KGB master of propaganda, deception & mind-molding, Putin himself, cooked up this plan because it is certainly too complex for Trump. This could all be political theatre at the cost of Syrian civilian lives.

Read history, dear readers. Look at Operation Ajax from the 1950s, perpetrated by the CIA on behalf of British oil interest in Iran. All the elements are the same. Staged civilian protest. Staged revolution. Arming of rebels and radicals. Bloody political coup. Massive propaganda and misinformation campaign to win US public support for a fake war that was the cover to install a puppet government to control oil interest. Delve into the documents of the CIA itself to discover that what has unfolded in Syria is simply a re-run of what happened in Iran nearly 70 years ago in Operation Ajax.

Read the works of Noam Chomsky. Hegemony has long been US foreign policy regardless of what party or individual controlled the White House. Trump is no different. That is why, by and large, Congress will support him regardless of party affiliation and even though his action was illegal, lacking Congressional approval. The US is a warmonger, always looking for justification to act on its power for profit or power expansion. And April, 6, 1917, 100 years ago yesterday, the US entered WWI. For a man who loves the taste of drama, don’t think such a detail as this significant anniversary escaped Trump.

Although Trump is justifying his act on the horror of civilians, especially children, being gassed, America has NEVER waged a war for purely humanitarian reasons. If Trump was motivated by humanitarianism, he would not reject desperate refugees seeking shelter in the US. He would not be ignoring the suffering of South Sudanese children caught up in their nation’s civil war. He would be inserting US military into Nigeria to stop the ethnic cleansing and religious genocide that is ongoing. There is only one reason Trump has intervened in Syria. Power and national interest. If you wonder what’s so darn important about Syria, check out the basics of the strategic interests of each party involved in this long, drawn out conflict:

US strategic interest in Syria: The importance of Syria is not because of the resources it has, but because of the countries that border it. Iraq is one neighbor, an oil production giant with many Americans on Iraqi soil and vulnerable to a Syria that might be controlled by a leader who is no friend to America. American allies Israel, Jordan and Turkey skirt 3 other borders.
Russia’s interest: Syria has provided naval station Tartus to the Russian Federation for the past 40 years. It is Moscow’s primary marine foothold in the Mediterranean region. The Mediterranean serves as the major corridor for Intra-European trade and the flow of oil in and out of the Middle East through Syria and, ultimately, to Russian interests.

ISIS interest: ISIS is composed mainly of fundamentalist Sunni Muslims who believe that the whole world should become a single Islamic community living under one Islamic State governed by Sharia Law. War in Syria would give them a golden opportunity to build a proto-state adjacent to countries where Sunni Muslims are a majority. Sunni majority nations bordering Syria or in extremely close proximity: Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt and Turkey. These Sunni rich nations are vast recruitment assets for growing the ranks of ISIS. For ISIS to control Syria would mean greater ease in accomplishing their global mission. It would solidify their grip on the Middle East. This would mean the rest of the world would see their oil interests strangled unless they submitted to ISIS. A nation without Middle East oil powering their military is a nation that is powerless in the face of ISIS. Control of Syria is crucial to winning, or losing, the war against ISIS.

At first glance, the war with ISIS is the most logical reason for Trump’s action. However, we must still consider that Russia has been no friend to ISIS, nor has Assad. There was really no real threat of an ISIS takeover of Syria. The civil war in Syria was beginning to turn in Assad’s favor with the helpful latest push from ally, Russia. Why would Assad then sabotage such progress by a reprehensible gas attack on his people? He is no naive child on the world stage. He had to know there would have been a backlash at least, retaliatory action at most. This is a puzzle many nations who have no oil interest in Syria are openly discussing. And their conclusions are quite dark and disturbing.

Is Trump’s action in Syria indicative of yet one more secret Trump-Russia pact? The election collusion has always centered around the power of oil interests. The allegations: Russia would gift Trump an oil interest in Rosneft along with the White House in exchange for the US lifting Russian sanctions. Trump was also to blackmail the leader of US ally Ukraine to step down making it possible to install a Russian friendly Ukrainian leader. The end result would be a Russian proxy Ukraine allowing unfettered access to lucrative pipelines. What if Syria was also part of the deal?

By destabilizing an already weakened Assad, Trump can create the conditions for Putin to gain control of Syria. Syria has a coastal border which has long provided Russia with port access to move oil. Is Syria to be another gift from Trump to Russia? Was this move to set the stage of pay off by toppling Assad which would enable Russia to tighten its control and install a puppet Syrian leader? Some nation’s are beginning to suspect just such a secret deal between Trump and Putin. Peruse the discussions taking place amongst foreign policy experts in Asia. Such a pact would then explain the inexplicable. Whereas Assad has nothing to gain from gassing his people, the US and Russia or the rebels have much to gain by staging a civilian attack and blaming Assad.

The dear reader may think these suggestions are preposterous. But stop and consider what happens if Middle East oil power is consolidated into the hands of one individual or a partnership between two individuals. If Trump and Putin have ambitions of controlling the world’s oil supplies, they will become the most powerful and wealthy men in the entire history of the world. Such an ambition is not beyond the realm of possibility with these two megalomaniacs. And to achieve their dream, regime change in Syria is necessary. To better understand how critical control of Syria is, read the analysis of the Communist Party USA. Even if you are virulently opposed to Communism, one cannot refute facts regardless of the messenger.

Although the missile attack is sensational, it is the motive that preceded it and the aftermath that ensues that really matters. Someone, or a group of “someones”, will pay the price for this action. Is death for the masses to be the

price of Trump’s low approval ratings? Would these lives be Syrian troops on the ground at the base during the missile launch? Assad, himself? Nope. Trump gave Syria and Russia a head’s up so they could evacuate critical officials, military personnel, equipment and supplies. The only ones paying the price for Trump’s low approval ratings right now appear to be the Syrian civilians left behind, the price Syria and Russia were willing to pay for public sympathy. And a future price may include the American and Russian soldiers who will die as a result of Trump’s desperation to turn things around for himself and deliver what is owed to Putin.

Russia’s navy and biggest guns are speeding to the region as we speak, prepared for confrontation with the US naval ships who launched the attack. And, in the grand scheme of things, every American who continues to naively accept being emotionally manipulated by a government bent on world domination will pay the price. The path of hegemony the US follows will continue to wreak havoc around the world. This will continue to destabilize populations. Desperate populations will continue to flee to America and other places. And they will always require our financial assistance.

Sources:

CIA

Asian Times

Communist Party USA

Image Source: Mappery

Video Source: Russian Defense Ministry

Frozen Siberian Secrets


When you think of Siberia do you think of a Russian gulag or political dissidents exiled to the frozen wastelands of the Siberian tundra? If the word “secrets” crosses your mind it may be from the perspective of the kinds of secrets political prisoners might have. It probably wouldn’t occur to the average person that Siberia would be home to some amazing historical and archeological secrets. The forbidding frozen landscape of Siberia is the perfect cryogenic environment to preserve the secrets of Russia’s ancient past. Here are some of the amazing finds archaeologists have found below the permafrost:

World’s Oldest Known Wooden Statue

Shigir is twice as old as Egypt’s Great Pyramid. He may not be much to look at but imagine the story attached to this carving thought to be about 11,000 years old! Carved from the trunk of a larch tree, the religious icon stands more than 9 feet tall, although some experts think that Shigir originally stood nearly 17 feet tall. Now what kind of tools did ancient Siberians have 11,000 years ago when they chopped down the 150-year-old tree that became Shigir? What kind of tools did they use to create this idol? Not only can a face be seen but there are decorative patterns and lines that run the length of his skinny body. No one has yet solved the mystery of what Shigir worship entailed. shigir-idol-worlds-oldest-wooden-statue_3.jpg

Siberia’s Amazons

Many cultures have their own legends of female warrior culture. None more famous than the ladies from the Isle of Lesbos, Nordic Valkyries and rainforest Amazonians. Now Russian women can join the annals of fierce females. The preserved remains of a Siberian teenager was uncovered in the Altai Mountains. She wore pig-tails and had a muscular body that experts believe reveals that she was an experienced horsewoman, which also explains why nine horses were interred with her. Needing very little interpretation was the fact that she was buried with battle axes, bows with quivers of arrows and multiple shields. A sixteen-year-old Siberian girl, possibly of the legendary elite Pazyryk warriors, received an extraordinary burial fit to honor a captain of the cavalry.

a3b12c99dd495f7bdb0a5358fb28db6b.jpg

True Love

Glazkov culture was typically comprised of Mongoloid tribes during the 18-13 centuries BC. Researchers believe they were most likely a hunting and fishing tribe since their civilization centered around the headwaters of the Angara river. Birch bark boats and sophisticated composite bows and spears have been discovered.

Despite stereotypes as a fierce warrior culture, ancient Siberians were just like humans everywhere. They fell in love. A 5,000 year-old burial site excavated by archaeologists revealed an ode to ancient love,  a couple interred holding hands.  Buried by the shores of Lake Baikal, the gringa wonders if this might have been a favorite spot for romance for the two lovers. Members of the Glazhov culture, the couple had their heads facing west, towards the sunset. This was a curious find in the burial since most Glazkov remains have been discovered to be buried in a crouched position with face orientation downriver. Perhaps, for this particular couple, their favorite thing to do was sit lakeside, hand in hand, and watch the sun go down.

Siberian-Couple.jpg

Image Credits & Sources: Realm Of History

scfh.ru

Siberian Times

Daily Mail

NASA, Please Explain


Why hasn’t mankind been back to the Moon? Why do humans only travel as far as the International Space Station (ISS) and no further if Russia and the United States have already had successful Moon landing missions? These questions fuel the conspiracy fires that claim the Apollo Moon landing was a staged scene and never really happened. Regardless of a person’s position on this, what of Russia? If they made it to the Moon, why haven’t they been back either?

During the years of the Cold War between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, it was always a game of one-upmanship. Rather than flinging bombs at one another it was a bit of “Whatever you can do I can do better.” The space race was no exception.

In 1961 the Soviet Union took the lead in the space race when Yuri Gagarin orbited the Earth and returned home, all in one piece. In response, U.S. President John F. Kennedy did not say, “Well done.” No, instead he threw down the gauntlet and swore that the U.S. would out-do the Soviet’s achievement. He declared that within a decade Americans would have a man on the Moon and back home safe and sound. Eight years later people around the world watched televised broadcasts of Neil Armstrong planting a U.S. flag on the surface of the Moon. Or did he?

What we know now compared to what we knew then may cast great doubt on the legitimacy of the Apollo mission. Accusations that film director Stanley Kubrick prepared a fake production staged with the latest technologies of 70s era filmdon may actually have credibility. Consider the most common criticisms that point to the film being a fake:

  • Wind mysteriously blowing a flag that should be in the vacuum of space.
  • Anomalous shadows cast in different directions which would indicate multiple sources of light.
  • No disturbance of lunar dust or the Moon’s surface from the landing of the space module.
  • What are the strange objects that are reflected at different times in the visors of the astronaut’s space helmet?
  • Where are all the stars that should be in the background?

Skeptics of conspiracy theories can argue away these questions. For years the gringa has been inclined to believe in the Moon landing as an event that really did happen. My reason being that, for one thing, think about how many people would have to be in on such a crazy secret for all of these decades. I don’t know about you, dear readers, but the gringa’s pretty certain that somewhere along the way, throughout all of these years, surely someone would have cracked.

Despite my confidence in NASA, however, the gringa must admit that by becoming informed about the Van Allen radiation belts, I may have to change my position. This may be the smoking gun that exposes how the entire world has been duped. The U.S., desperate to remain relevant and seen as the most powerful nation, outperforming its most aggressive global competitor, may have gone so far as to stage the most incredible hoax of all time.

You see, the Van Allen radiation belts surround the Earth. Consider these belts to be an enormous layered donut and the Earth the donut hole. They radiate outward as far as 36,000 miles depending on whether they are expanding or contracting. The innermost ring generally spans from 400-6,000 miles above the surface of the Earth. The outer belt stretches generally from about 8,400-36,000 miles above Earth. The ISS is safely tucked into orbit at a mere 230 miles from the Earth’s surface in what is called a Low Earth Orbit (LEO). Orbiting between the two belts is a GPS satellite set 12,500 miles away, just inside the innermost rim of the outermost belt, where radiation levels fluctuate according to waxing and waning cycles. Just within the outermost layer of the outermost belt is NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory in geosynchronous orbit at 22,000 miles away studying the mess solar radiation makes from time to time.

In addition to the Van Allen radiation belts is the problem of a cloud of cool, charged particles which envelopes most of Earth’s outer atmosphere. Its nearest edge is about 600 miles from the surface of the Earth and extends outward and stops just inside the outermost edge of the furthest Van Allen belt. Scientists call this cloud the plasmasphere. It seems to cause particles in the outer belt to scatter. As the electrons scatter they create a loop which becomes a well defined belt. The plasmasphere is responsible for creating and maintaining the belts. When a powerful solar event occurs, such as a solar flare, some of the belts’ electrons can be forced by these extreme conditions into the space void between the belt layers, thus creating the waxing and waning effect of the belts.

The craziness of this relationship boggles the gringa’s mind. Think about it. The electrons are prevented by Earth’s magnetic field from penetrating all the way to Earth and frying all of us Earthlings. However, they also do not have enough energy to escape and dissipate into outer space. Thus they are trapped in this belt system which results in a protective barrier that traps dangerous radioactive solar radiation so that we don’t all get fried. Without the belts we fry. Without the plasmosphere we fry. Without the magnetosphere we fry. And if we hang out in any of these Earth preserving regions for any length of time we fry. Is that not the most amazing irony? That which preserves us can also kill us.

Considering that the Moon is 238,900 miles from the Earth, these dangerous, radioactive belts must have been navigated safely with the technology available in 1969. The only other option would have been to “thread the needle”, so to speak, by using a trajectory that would have allowed astronauts to travel through a narrow window of space that would have avoided the highest concentrations of radiation within the belts.

If this path had been successfully traveled in 1969, and adequate shielding technology existed, why is the danger posed by the Van Allen belts considered to be the main obstacle and unsolved problem preventing a consecutive Moon landing today? The gringa suspects the answer may lie in the fact that there really was no successful 1969 Moon landing to begin with.

Here are the words and quotes NASA uses to describe the Van Allen belts today:

  • 2 donuts of seething radiation.
  • Impenetrable barrier.
  • Wax and wane.
  • Expose satellites in low-Earth orbit to damaging radiation.

So what did NASA do to deal with the dangers of the Van Allen belts? Did they come up with a competent strategy and deliver the real deal with a man on the Moon or did they scam the entire world?

Newly discovered in 1958 by scientist James Van Allen, not much was known about them two years later when the first solution was offered up. In 1960 Robert O. Piland and Stanley C. White told NASA that hoping to shield astronauts effectively from the radiation was impractical. They did believe they could provide moderate protection and a safe enough route that would enable astronauts to not fry as they passed through the outer belt.

NASA got to work with a Group On Trajectory Analysis. Van Allen, himself, suggested that by detonating a nuclear warhead the crew could clear a path of travel. The gringa can only say, “Thank goodness NASA didn’t do that!” However, the defense industry in the US really mucked things up by nuclear testing which only increased the intensity of the radiation levels in the belts.

In 1964 NASA officials were confident that with the right skin on the spacecraft, a layer of protection provided by instrumentation, and the right trajectory, the risk was nominal to the crew. Equipped with dosimeters to record radiation exposure, the gringa is puzzled over the final results as reported by NASA. The agency reports that over the course of all the Lunar missions, astronauts were only exposed to radiation levels that were actually lower than the 5 rem a person working in a nuclear power plant would be exposed to annually. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission claims that the average American is exposed to a radiation dose of about 0.62 rem annually. A full body CAT scan delivers a radiation dose of 1 rem. So any human going through some rather routine medical procedures can easily reach the same radiation exposure levels as what NASA reported in the Apollo Moon landing crew.

ISS astronauts deal with radiation issues daily. It took the gringa quite a bit of head scratching and calculating to discover how ISS astronaut radiation levels compare to the astronauts of the Apollo Moon missions. They use a different measurement, the SI system. Maybe, if there is a conspiracy, this is by design to confuse amateur sleuths like myself. Anyway, I digress.

Basically one mSv is the equivalent dose of radiation an average person would be exposed to on Earth in one year’s time. Astronauts on the ISS are exposed to 1 mSv daily! This exposure takes place well outside the Van Allen belts in a space station constructed with the latest technology in radiation shielding and manned by personnel equipped with the safest space suit equipment available. How, then, could minimally protected astronauts pass through highly radioactive belts not just once, but twice, and not be ravaged with radiation? If ISS astronauts report a daily radiation exposure equivalent to a year’s worth of radiation back home and are not in the belts themselves, how in the world is the public supposed to believe that the Apollo astronauts were only exposed to the amount of radiation a person would absorb if they had 4-5 full-body CAT scans?

The  gringa has become incredibly skeptical. The gringa is going to be hopping mad if she discovers hard evidence that proves we have all been had. NASA, please explain.

Sources:

www.nasa.gov

www.nrc.gov

www.popsci.com

www.mun.ca

www.newscientist.com

www.windows2universe.org

Image Credit: www.wakingtimes.com

Let It Rain, Let It Rain, Let It Rain


Although Olympic focus has been trained on Rio, the gringa would like to take the dear reader back in time and to the other side of the globe to the 2008 Beijing Olympics. When China was preparing to host this historical event, pollution was high on the list of problems to solve. Although everyone is probably familiar with the tactic of temporary bans on driving & factory operations as drastic measures to help reduce smog. What many may not be aware of is China’s ambitious plans to control the weather, a $30 million dollar plan that they are still working on today. A plan to shoot into the heavens special “bullets” filled with salt and other minerals. What in the world are those crazy Chinese scientists up to? Apparently, nothing new! They’re just trying to make it rain.

Officially called “weather modification”, China helped clear their smog-filled skies during the Olympic games by making it rain, rain, rain. They are not alone in being rainmakers. Fifty-two other countries have developed their own rainmaking strategies. Ten of these countries joining the rainmaking team only five years ago. Rainmaking countries include: Canada, United States, Mexico, Cuba, Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Australia, India, Senegal, South Africa, Russia and the list goes on. You can see the map created by the World Meteorological Organization to see who all is in on the rainmaking game.

The gringa is rather ashamed to admit that as for the United States, the origins of its weather modification program is not as noble as China’s. For the U.S., it all started with Operation Popeye which was a top secret program that weaponized weather during the Vietnam War. Although I’m sure the scientists who worked for General Electric had noble intentions, they probably had no idea that the U.S. government was going to take their technology and rain down silver iodide on the poor Vietnamese people.

But I digress. Back to China. In addition to creating rain to saturate polluted air and get rid of smog, they also wanted to prevent rain from spoiling events taking place in the stadium that was dubbed the “Bird’s Nest”. To achieve this amazing god-like feat, the Chinese implemented a 3 stage weather modification strategy:

  1. Officials tracked weather patterns with satellites, planes, radar and supercomputer.
  2. 2 aircraft, 20 rocket launcher & artillery sites sprayed silver iodide and dry ice into remote cloud systems that might approach the stadium so they would dump their rain before arrival.
  3. Nearby cloud systems filled with rain were seeded with chemicals that shrink the water droplets thus ensuring that the clouds would have time to pass over the Bird’s Nest without dropping their rain.

Now was all of this really necessary? The Beijing Olympics were held in August which is a high precipitation season for China so, yes, the gringa supposes that it was necessary. Consequently, China’s success in being a master rainmaker or rainstaller has resulted in China being the world leader in the weather modification sciences. They have more than 1,500 professionals devoted to all things necessary in controlling the weather: scientists, pilots, flight crews. Also proudly serving in the program are tens of thousands of peasant farmers who are more than happy to help their government blast away a cloud when crops have been inundated or have clouds seeded during times of drought. Peasants are on call to operate more than 7,000 aircraft guns and almost 5,000 rocket launchers when called to report to rainmaking duty.

The gringa is not too sure what to make of all this. For the most part I am the type to believe that the less we interfere with nature, the better. However, considering how bad mankind has screwed things up where climate change is concerned, it may just be that Mother Nature could use a few rainmakers. So, I say to the Chinese:

Let it rain. Let it rain. Let it rain.

 

Sources:

www.technologyreview.com

www.wmo.int

uspto.gov

fas.org

wikipedia.org/OperationPopeye

Image Credit:  cloudfront.net

 

 

Asteroids Are A Blast


If you are an amateur stargazer who enjoys viewing interesting cosmic objects through a telescope, there are a few galactic peepshows you want to make sure you execute before the subjects disappear forever. Russia has announced their intention to test their intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) by blasting to smithereens certain near-earth objects (NEOs). The spacerocks in their crosshairs range in size from  20-50 meters (65-165 feet). Potential targets are asteroids as well as meteorites that have broken off from asteroids  which orbit the Sun and are capable of surviving the atmospheric burn of falling to Earth, posing the risk of slamming into the surface of our planet. Russia’s target practice could serve to save lives which usually runs counter to the whole point of ICBMs.

The first scheduled missile test is slated for 2036. That is when scientists expect asteroid 99942 Apophis to come within a dangerous close proximity to Earth. Although NASA has definitively ruled out the possibility of an impact, it is still expected to be a close enough encounter that Russia believes it will be within missile range. What weapons junkie could resist such an opportunity?

However, these high grade shoot-en-anny toys require upgrades. It takes days to properly prepare the fuel the rockets use. That means that Russia’s current ICBM’s cannot be rapidly deployed to destroy a meteorite that Earthlings may only detect within hours of coming into range, such as the Chelyabinsk meteorite. It will take millions of dollars to make the necessary changes. However, when they are completed Russia’s weapons of war will be converted to defensive weapons keeping the entire world safe. Instead of Russia launching people killers, they will be launching people saving asteroid blasters. Does that mean that by means of defensive measures we all become Russian by proxy? Or perhaps that simply means for a brief moment, we all become one united human race? Either way, the gringa thinks the sentiment is sweet.

Bottom line for backyard stargazers is that if you want to have a chance of seeing Apophis, you will get your last chance in about thirteen years. The asteroid was discovered twelve years ago and is a bit larger than three football fields. A pass of the asteroid is expected in 2029. This may be humanity’s last chance to view it before it’s 2036 pass that could be its final one if Russia gets its proposal approved and succeeds in blasting Apophis to infinity and beyond.

Although the 2036 pass only has a one in a million chance of impacting Earth, it is still an historical event where astronomy is concerned. Apophis will be the largest asteroid that has ever come as close to Earth as it is projected to. It will zoom by almost 19,000 miles over the heads of unsuspecting Earthlings. Although there are other asteroid’s that pass closer, such as 2012 DA14 which does a 17,000 mile altitude flyby, Apophis is much, much larger than the nearer pipsqueaks.

It is amazing how many NEOs travel by our home planet. Astronomy is a career where there is never a dull moment if you are entrusted with the task of tracking NEOs and projecting trajectories.  This is a very important job to determine courses in order to protect all of humanity from the possibility of a collision. For kids intrigued with outer space and who don’t mind the math, astronomy offers the opportunity of a lifetime. To get a taste of the work they do, follow their reports on NASA’s Asteroid Watch program and stay current with updates through Twitter.

Sources: tass.ru

www.nasa.gov

Image Source:  iluminaci.com