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In 1964, an Antarctic research vessel photographed a mysterious and unidentifiable object on the sea bed. In the first of a two-part investigation, Peter Brookesmith explains how the ‘Eltanin antenna’ generated a soap opera from another Universe.
Whitley Strieber, whose 1987 book Communion did so much to make intergalactic grey dwarves a subject of dinner-table chatter in even the best-regulated households, is clearly a man prepared to entertain many rare and unusual ideas. Visitors to his website may sample the kinds of things that fascinate Strieber, and will find this cogitation:
Between 1962 and 1979 the NSF [National Science Foundation] Polar Research Vessel Eltanin surveyed Antarctic waters, studying the ocean and ocean bottom. In 1964, the ship photographed an unusual object at a depth of 13,500 feet [4,115m]. At the time, there was no submarine that could have carried a piece of technology to this depth.
The object appears to be a pole rising from the ocean floor with twelve spokes radiating from it, each ending in a sphere. The spokes are at 15 degree angles to each other. It is located approximately 1,000 miles [1,600km] south [sic] of Cape Horn, beneath some of the most inhospitable seas in the world.
There exists the possibility that it is an antenna or other scientific instrument that was lost by an early research vessel, but once again, this would appear to be a very forced explanation. It seems unlikely that an object could drop through [over] three miles of ocean, and anchor itself on the bottom.
In addition, the position of the antenna is so exact, and so strangely significant, that it would seem almost certain that it was intentionally put there. Who did it, with what technology and why remains unknown. However, it’s clear that there could be an enormous secret connected with the Eltanin antenna, and one that might not be entirely unknown to certain members of the scientific community...
There exist a number of "accursed sites" on the surface of our planet. Some of these locations are the sites of gravitational or atmospheric disturbances that still remain unexplained by twentieth century science. Such anomalous areas possess properties which interfere sporadically with humans and their equipment. One area worthy of mention surrounds the Mediterranean island of Elba (famous for being Napoleon's first place of exile), and is the bane of maritime aviation in the Mediterranean; another spot is Mt. Stredohori in Czechoslovakia, where an unknown force drains car engines of power throughout the length of a 75-foot stretch of road.
However, we need not travel so far to encounter a part of the world that is even more perplexing than these others, although it remains little known to most people: Mexico's mysterious, magical zona del silencio--the Zone of Silence, just four hundred miles away from El Paso, Texas. Deserts are often considered to be mysterious enough without the added weirdness that this patch of earth some four hundred miles from El Paso has to offer. It is a place which gobbles up radio and TV signals, and which has of late been associated with the UFO phenomenon.
Centuries of Mystery
According to Dr. Santiago Garcia, there has been an awareness of the
unusual properties of the area since the mid-nineteenth century, when farmers
trying to eke out a living in the forbidding environment became aware of the "hot
pebbles" which routinely fell to earth from the clear sky. In the 1930s,
Francisco Sarabia, an aviator from the northern Mexican state of Coahuila,
reported that his radio had mysteriously ceased to function, earning him the
distinction of being the Zone of Silence's first victim.
About 40 miles north of the city of Boston, and about 25 miles inland from the Atlantic Ocean, is what appears to be the greatest, and perhaps oldest, megalithic enigma of North America. Mystery Hill, also known as "America's Stonehenge", is a site that has puzzled archaeologists for almost a century.
Running across the 30 acres of hillside are a series of low walls, cave-like primitive buildings, and tunnels that are spread about with, according to one archaeologist, "gigantic confusion and childish disorder, deep cunning and rude naively."
While the hill is compared to the English Stonehenge circle, it is, at first glance, physically quite different. Stonehenge is located on a plain, not a hill, and is arranged neatly as a series of concentric circles, horseshoes and squares. Mystery Hill seems a jumble in comparison. The stones involved in Stonehenge are larger, up to 45 tons. The stones at Mystery Hill are smaller (the largest is about 11 tons) and the construction less intricate.
Both sites do have some common points, though. Firstly, they served as observatories. Each has been found to have astronomical alignments including summer solstice. Secondly, we know almost nothing about the builders of either location.
One summer day in 1795 Daniel McGinnis, then a teenager, was wandering about Oak Island, Nova Scotia (see Geography) when he came across a curious circular depression in the ground. Standing over this depression was a tree whose branches had been cut in a way which looked like it had been used as a pulley. Having heard tales of pirates in the area he decided to return home to get friends and return later to investigate the hole.
Over the next several days McGinnis, along with friends John Smith and Anthony Vaughan, worked the hole. What they found astonished them. Two feet below the surface they came across of layer of flagstones covering the pit. At 10 feet down they ran into a layer of oak logs spanning the pit. Again at 20 feet and 30 feet they found the same thing, a layer of logs. Not being able to continue alone from here, they went home, but with plans of returning to search more.
It took the three discoverers 8 years, but they did return. Along with The Onslow Company, formed for the purpose of the search, they began digging again. They quickly got back to 30 foot point that had been reached 8 years ago. They continued down to 90 feet, finding a layer of oak logs at every 10 foot interval. Besides the boards, at 40 feet a layer of charcoal was found, at 50 feet a layer of putty, and at 60 feet a layer of coconut fiber.
At 90 feet one of the most puzzling clues was found - a stone inscribed with mysterious writing.
There is no shortage of strange or haunted locations on our planet, and Argentina’s Calingasta Valley is definitely among them, located near the town of Barreal in the province of San Juan. Drivers who have to cross this arid region out of necessity have reported seeing a variety of strange lights in the darkness: orbs of yellowish or white energy described as being around the size of a soccer ball which can be mistaken for the lights of a distant, oncoming automobile. Much like the Marfa Lights of Texas, these Argentinean orbs appear and vanish only to reappear further down the road. On some occasions they engage in frantic pursuits of trucks and cars along the road; on others, they stand in the way of traffic, causing understandable consternation.
Journalist Patricio Parente mentions the case of a schoolteacher anxious to return home and, lacking a car, hitched a ride with a truck driver. After the vehicle was on its way, the teacher mentioned that she could see distant lights like small candles, which appeared to be following the truck. But even more alarming than this was the fact that a bigger light had already placed itself above the truck’s cab, endeavoring to slow it down or bring it to a halt, in spite of the driver’s best efforts to maintain speed. Are we dealing with a normal “earthlight” phenomenon or some kind of South American ignis fatuus of the desert, or something stranger?
When you drive past the crossroads of Gilmerton Road/Drum Street and Newtoft Street/Ferniehill Drive in Gilmerton, a sleepy small suburb of Edinburgh, there is little if anything to suggest that under your very feet, is one of Edinburgh’s greatest mysteries. Not that it is necessarily that important – but essentially that it is that enigmatic. Inexplicable. One of those sites that underlines that the past is quite often difficult to uncover and explain.
Just a few metres below ground is what is known as “Gilmerton Cove” – caves that at one point in time were hewn out of the sandstone. The Cove is a series of caves, connected by a 40 feet main passageway, with two entrances, and located no more than ten feet underground. Tradition tells us that in 1724, after five years of hard labour, George Paterson, a local blacksmith, completed an underground dwelling house. His subterranean apartment seems to have consisted out of several rooms with stone tables and chairs, what appears to be a bedroom and a forge – though this was never operational as it lacked the airshaft. There are clear signs that the various rooms were once separated from each other by wooden doors. Elsewhere, there is a well that never reached down to the water level. Hence, the apartment appeared to have two features essential for living, but both were ineffective. Still, the story continues that he lived in it until 1737, however unlikely that is.
Furthermore, even though it is often labelled as an underground construction or a system of man-made caves, fact of the matter is that each room and the corridors were once exposed to the open air by a series of skylights that have since been closed off. Hence, though it is often labelled a cave, it should perhaps be more accurately labelled an open-air cellar. But whereas the construction would make sense if it was a proper cave, with the numerous skylights, it defies explanation as to why someone in the 18th century would go through all of this trouble. The only logical explanation would be that there was once an upper structure, which interacted with the various manmade spaces below ground. Maybe the cellars were constructed as storage spaces for food or liquids that were required to remain at constant temperatures, yet could needed to be lowered into place, rather than transported via the main two – stepped – entrances. Indeed, the chambers on either side of the well were labelled wine cellars. Were some of the rooms equipped with tables and like, as a number of people spent considerable time in this facility, tasting wine or other liquids brewed here? Perhaps, but… who knows?
Charles Fort wrote about many types of substances, objects and animals falling from the sky. He suggested (with tongue planted firmly in cheek) that they fell from floating sky islands. One of the main types of fall he wrote about was chunks of ice plummeting from a clear sky.
Fort’s cases all came from the pre-aircraft days of the 19th century. Modern ice falls are routinely explained away as leaks from plane holding tanks. Blue chunks that smell of chemicals, or greenish-yellow pieces that smell of urine (not to mention rarer cases of brown pieces smelling of something even worse) certainly originate in this way.
Falls of clear and pure ice are harder to explain. Some may be from water that has frozen on the outside of an aircraft then fallen off at a lower altitude.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) launched an investigation into a chunk of ice that damaged the roof of a house on 4 November 2009. The house is about 16km from Runway 28 at O’Hare International Airport, and lies under one of the airport’s flight paths. Paul Dowd and his family heard a bang shortly before 8pm and ran outside to find fragments of a large ice chunk that had struck their roof. The FAA were investigating the possibility that accumulated structural ice, which can gather on surfaces and around gears, struts and tail sections of aircraft, had fallen off as a plane descended into warmer air.
On average, there are about two ice chunk falls each month, worldwide. Curiously, there were three falls of clear ice over the USA in a short two-week period in March 2008.
In Modesto, California, on October 3, 1950, a mystery explosion shattered the night with such violence that a general fire alarm was sounded for fifteen miles around.
In Thanet and Margate, England, in the early morning of October 19th , officials reported the "biggest explosion since the war." Vibrations were felt as far away as Deal, but no one offered an explanation.
On November 10, 1950, a thirty-mile area in the lower St. Lawrence River area, Canada, was vibrated by a mystery blast. Federal transport department officials tried to pin this one on a U.S. Air Force plane with engine trouble that dropped a bomb.
On January 4, 1952, a series of mystery blasts shook Los Angeles and San Diego. The first explosion sounded at 3:33 A.M. in the vicinity of Los Angeles' International Airport. The second thundered forth from San Diego's Mission Hills at 8:30 P.M., followed by a third at Point Lorna a half an hour later, and a fourth nearly two hours later in the Chula Vista region.
Police officials stated that their investigation revealed that no explosions had been set off at those times. Scientists selected the old, dependable scapegoat of exploding meteorites, even though none had been reported or observed on that date.
There is something fundamentally and primally mysterious about caves and tunnels. Maybe it's their darkness or the fact that they open into the very body of the Earth. They are invariably the subjects of adolescent adventure stories, such as the Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew mysteries, and R.L. Stine's books. And they serve as backgrounds in exciting stories directed at older audiences as well, such as Jules Verne's A Journey to the Center of the Earth and the Indiana Jones films. Tunnels represent the unknown and touch the fears that reside deep in the primitive human subconscious.
I've come across several sites on the Web that tell what some believe are true stories of vast underground networks of tunnels. And they are no less mysterious and fantastic than those used as settings in the fictional tales mentioned above. It's not that the tunnels merely exist and are unknown to most people, it's what they contain, who built them, and why – and that takes us into the deepest recesses of the unknown.
People who claim to have first- or second-hand knowledge or experience with these tunnels make many astonishing claims: that they contain long-lost cities; that they are inhabited by advanced civilizations – perhaps the descendents of Atlantis; that they are bases for extraterrestrials and their flying saucers; that they are bases for secret government installations. The government no doubt has top-secret military installations deep within mountains and perhaps underground, but this, of course, is the least fantastic of the stories.
Coral Castle in Homestead, Florida, is one of the most amazing structures ever built. In terms of accomplishment, it's been compared to Stonehenge, ancient Greek temples, and even the great pyramids of Egypt. It is amazing - some even say miraculous - because it was quarried, fashioned, transported, and constructed by one man: Edward Leedskalnin, a 5-ft. tall, 100-lb. Latvian immigrant.
Many men have single-handedly built their own homes, but Leedskalnin's choice of building materials is what makes his undertaking so incredible. He used huge blocks of coral rock, some weighing as much as 30 tons, and somehow was able to move them and set them in place without assistance or the use of modern machinery. And therein lies the mystery. How did he do it?
It's estimated that 1,000 tons of coral rock were used in construction of the walls and towers, and an additional 100 tons of it were carved into furniture and art objects:
* An obelisk he raised weighs 28 tons.
* The wall surrounding Coral Castle stands 8 ft. tall and consists of large blocks each weighing several tons.
* Large stone crescents are perched atop 20-ft.-high walls.
* A 9-ton swinging gate that moves at the touch of a finger guards the eastern wall.
* The largest rock on the property weighs an estimated 35 tons.
* Some stones are twice the weight of the largest blocks in the Great Pyramid at Giza.
Identification as sponge:
In 2003 Tom DeMary, a researcher in underwater acoustics, contacted oceanographer A.F. Amos, who had been aboard the USNS Eltanin in the 1960s, and in turn Amos referred DeMary to the 1971 book The Face of the Deep by Bruce C. Heezen and Charles D. Hollister. Hollister had already identified the mysterious object as Cladorhiza concrescens, a carnivorous sponge. Heezen and Hollister's book reproduces the photograph taken by the USNS Eltanin and a redrawn version of a drawing by Alexander Agassiz which originally appeared in his 1888 Three Cruises of the Blake. Hollister and Heezen describe Cladorhiza concrescens as a sponge which "somewhat resembles a space-age microwave antenna", while Agassiz described the sponges as having "a long stem ending in ramifying roots, sunk deeply into the mud. The stem has nodes with four to six club-like appendages. They evidently cover like bushes extensive tracts of the bottom"