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upEnigma Issue 13: News Roundup
by Paul Vigay | Spring 1997

In December 1996, NASA released details of four separate gamma-ray bursts detected in two groups of two in rapid succession on Oct 27th & 29th 1996 respectively.

The unique sequence was detected by astronomers at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Centre in Huntsville, Alabama, using the Burst and Transient Source Experiment (BATSE) instrument aboard NASA's Earth-orbiting Compton Gamma Ray Observatory, launched by the Space Shuttle Atlantis in April 1991.

After 25 years of research, scientists are still debating the sources of gamma-ray bursts, and their causes.

BATSE usually detects only about one gamma-ray burst per day, lasting from 10-30 seconds, and the locations of these events on the sky appear to be randomly distributed. "That's what makes these recent events so unusual," said Dr. Charles Meegan, BATSE experiment co-investigator. "They came right after one another, about two days apart, and all from the same part of the sky. Moreover, the last one was much longer than usual, lasting 23 minutes."

The BATSE astronomers cannot yet say for sure whether these events were produced by just one object in space, or several, but "it would be unlikely that this actually happened by chance" in four unrelated places, said Connaughton.

"Some astronomers argue for an explanation that the origin of these bursts is fairly local, just outside our own galaxy," said Dr. Gerald Fishman, BATSE principal investigator, who agrees that the recent events are likely to be related. "But most believe that bursts come from remote parts of the universe, at cosmological distances of a billion light years or more."

Another debated topic is how bursts are created. One theory suggests that bursts do not repeat from the same source because they involve a tremendous explosion that destroys the source in the process. Another possibility is that bursts occur when neutron stars merge, which would not be consistent with repeating bursts. "This discovery of multiple bursts adds fuel to the debate as to the source of the bursts," said Fishman.

The discovery was confirmed by three other gamma-ray burst detectors. Scientists from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD, the University of California at Berkeley and the Ioffe Institute in Russia participated in the discovery.

Further information on the mission and its accomplishments is available on the Internet home page of Marshall's Space Sciences Laboratory on the World Wide Web at URL:


According to the India Times on November 11th 1996, thousands of people witnessed a UFO sighting in Bombay.

At approximately 6am witnesses were surprised to see a cricket ball sized UFO flying very fast through the streets of Kandivli at an altitude of some 9 metres above the ground then, some 45 minutes later, thrusting into the air at great speeds.

At 9pm on the same night a glowing saucer shaped UFO was spotted flying east across Mahim Bay from the direction of the Arabian Sea. This is said to have moved in an arching fashion over the city.

The very small UFO's are very rare in India and researchers have speculated that they may form some kind of surveillance device preceding the larger UFO's.

According to the Nov.7th 1996 issue of the respected scientific journal "Nature", life on Earth began at least 3.85 billion years ago.

An International team of scientists, from UC San Diego's Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UCLA's Department of Earth and Space Sciences, the Australian National University and the UK's Oxford Brookes University, presented evidence that pushed back the emergence of life on Earth by some 400 million years.

The evidence comes from a rock formation discovered on Akilia Island in southern West Greenland that is at least 3.85 billion years old. The research - funded primarily by the National Science Foundation and NASA -- has provocative implications.

"Our evidence establishes beyond reasonable doubt that life emerged on Earth at least 3.85 billion years ago, and this is not the end of the story," said Stephen J. Mojzsis, a graduate student in geochemistry at Scripps and the lead author of the article. "We may well find that life existed even earlier."

"We look in rocks like this for chemical suggestions and isotropic evidence, and we found both," said T. Mark Harrison, professor of geochemistry at UCLA and director of UCLA's W.M. Keck Foundation Center for Isotope Geochemistry. "It would be wonderful to see a head and toes, and while we don't have those, we have found very strong isotropic evidence for ancient life."

"But in the cases of Earth's most ancient rocks and minerals, we are actually better off relying on this type of isotropic evidence - chemofossils - rather than on the shape of life-like objects with which nature has often been deceiving the unwary," said Gustaf Arrhenius, professor of oceanography at UC San Diego and principal investigator for the research project.

The carbon inclusions in the rock were analyzed with UCLA's high-resolution ion microprobe - an instrument that enables scientists to learn the exact composition of samples - which Mojzsis described as the "world's best instrument" for this research. The microprobe shoots a beam of ions -charged atoms - at a sample, releasing from the sample its own ions that are analyzed in a mass spectrometer. Scientists can aim the beam of ions at specific microscopic areas of a sample and analyze them.

"The form of life discovered was probably a simple micro-organism, although its actual shape or nature cannot be ascertained", Mojzsis said, "because heat and pressure over time have destroyed any original physical structure of the organisms."

It is unknown when life first appeared on Earth, which is approximately 4.5 billion years old. The previous earliest evidence for life was presented by UCLA paleobiologist J. William Schopf, who showed that on the basis of bacteria-like fossils, primitive life, much like modern "pond scum," existed on Earth 3.46 billion years ago. "The evolution of lifeless matter into primitive life forms, and their organization into the complex structure of cells like those found by Schopf, represent an enormous development in the earliest history before the deposition of the Akilia sediments," Arrhenius said.

The residues of ancient life that the scientists have discovered existed prior to the end of the "late heavy bombardment" of the Moon by large objects, which ended approximately 3.8 billion years ago, Harrison said. The implication, he added, is that the often assumed simultaneous bombardment of Earth did not lead to the extinction of life.

This research shows that life on Earth began during the first approximately 700 million years after the formation of the planet, placing an upper limit on the time needed for the creation of life on Earth, or on the time period available for it to arrive here from elsewhere, the scientists said.

"Life is tenacious, and it completely permeates the surface layer of the planet," Mojzsis said. "We find life beneath the deepest ocean, on the highest mountain, in the driest desert and the coldest glacier, and deep down in the crustal rocks and sediments. Not knowing what conditions are needed for the emergence of life, it is only possible to speculate about its existence elsewhere in the universe. An important contribution to the solution of this problem could come from exploration of the surface of Mars for traces there of extinct life."

An equally interesting question, the scientists agreed, that is currently studied in laboratories on Earth is how life originally could have arisen from lifeless molecules, and evolved into the already sophisticated isotope fractioning life forms recorded in the Akilia rocks.

At the beginning of October 1996 a strange sight was observed by people in western America, as a meteorite plunged into the Earth's atmosphere, bounced back out, orbited the Earth once and then careered back into the atmosphere again.

Dr Mark Boslaugh, from the Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico said, "It is so unusual that it has never been observed before, although it has been postulated."

Scientists offered a reward for the first four ounce meteorite sample handed in, although by the time any fragments actually hit the ground they would have been very small.

One eye-witness claimed that "it was a deep red fireball with multi-coloured sparks whiling off it's back", whilst another said that "it just kind of winked out".

To enter the atmosphere twice (like a stone skimming on a lake) it must have approached Earth on a virtually parallel course. It first entered the atmosphere over New Mexico and Texas at 8pm on Oct.3rd 1996, descending at a shallow angle, coming closest to Earth above Artesia in New Mexico, probably around 25 miles high.

It then began breaking apart, spraying a brilliant shower of smaller fragments across the sky.

According to news from the Internet, a march is planned for June 6th 1998, taking place just outside the restricted area at the secret Groom Lake military complex in the Nevada Desert.

No actual march will take place, so there won't be a 'storming of the base' by UFO researchers. Instead, it is planned to stage live music and speakers in front of an expected audience of 500.

Predicting concern from the authorities and military, the organisers have already informed them - well in advance of the event.

Some researchers are sceptical of the event, claiming that a small gathering of 'believers' outside Area51 shouting about Government conspiracy's may not portray the right image and could get negative media attention. Time till tell.

On Thursday December 19th 1996, a Boeing 757-200 operated by China's Southern Airlines took off from Beijing on a routine flight south to Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province.

As the jetliner reached an altitude of 9,600 meters (31,500 feet), the co-pilot spotted a bright flash in the sky just ahead of them. A silver-grey metallic UFO struck the top of the 757's cockpit, cracking the outer windshield.

The pilot immediately declared an in-flight emergency and radioed Beijing's Capital International Airport, requesting permission to land. The plane landed safely ten minutes later.

The incident was briefly reported in the Yangcheng Evening News, picked up by Reuters and included in their report for December 26, 1996.

Reports are just coming in from my South African correspondent of a mysterious UFO sighted in Pretoria, SA.

On 28th August 1996, just after 5am in the morning, local Police stated that they started chasing a UFO which they claimed was "four times bigger than a star".

More information as I receive it.

On Saturday 25th January 1997 radar operators at NORAD's Combat Operations Centre at Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado, watched in amazement as a $200 million satellite simply disappeared from radar screens.

The AT&T television relay satellite, called Telstar-401, was built by Lockheed Martin and launched in December 1993. Located in geostationary orbit at longitude 97W it had been functioning perfectly for three years.

Minutes before the satellite disappeared from radar screens, an unknown "bogey" was detected approaching the satellite on an intercept course. Major General John Yancy Jr. was reported as describing the object as "a large unknown object". He added, "It looked like a large meteor closing in on 401".

On January 6th 1997 the Sun ejected a huge coronal discharge - a magnetically charged cloud of hydrogen and helium - 30 million miles wide. This "solar tsunami" travelled towards Earth at a speed of 1 million miles per hour.

This 'cloud' was tracked by 20 Earth satellites, including the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) launched in Dec.1995. When the cloud struck Earth's magnetosphere it released an electrical charge of 1 million amps.

Several hours after the event, on 11th Jan, the Telstar-401 satellite suffered a major power failure and scientists thought that it had been damaged by the solar tsunami. However, they couldn't understand why the other satellites hadn't been affected.

Interestingly, the Telstar-401 was located over the 97th meridian when it vanished. This meridian is also nicknamed the "mystery meridian" because of several UFO related events that have taken place there, including the York, Nebraska 'airship' case of February 1897.

UFO Researchers in Scotland are convinced that they have good evidence of a UFO, spotted in September 1996.

Falkirk woman, Mrs Ross (63), managed to capture the UFO on her video camera, by pointing it out of her bedroom window.

The amazing footage shows a pulsating bright object in a cloudless sky. Looking like a snowball, it was far bigger and brighter than anything else in the sky. As she filmed, it's appearance gradually transformed into a half-moon shape with four diagonal bars of high intensity brightness.

The object was captured on tape for around 40 minutes before it disappeared from view. Mrs Ross said, "After about 15 minutes, it blossomed into a half-circle shape with four diagonal stripes. It then began rotating and returned to it's original shape. It then seemed to speed away eastwards in the direction of Linlithgow. I don't know what this was but it was definitely not a star, plane, helicopter or balloon. It didn't frighten me. I was just fascinated by the changing shape. I was speechless. I just watched in awe."

The event was also witnessed by Mrs Ross' daughter, who lives two miles away. She said, "I phoned my mother at 7am and asked her if she had seen anything in the sky. She told me she had it on tape. It's absolutely amazing."

The chairman of Scottish Earth Mysteries Research, Mr Ron Halliday of Stirling University, said "It is one of the best footages I have ever seen recorded anywhere in the world. Such a length of footage is very unusual. Film of alleged phenomena is very rare and usually lasts for a few fleeting seconds. It is extremely rare to have film evidence backed up my multiple witnesses. At the moment there is no obvious explanation as to what Mrs Ross captured on video.

The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) detected a large eruption on the Sun at 3pm (GMT) on Monday April 7th 1997. Due to hit Earth at 1am on Tuesday 10th April the storm is large, but moderate in strength to others that have reached Earth in the past.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Space Environment Center (SEC), which provides official government forecasts has predicted, based on "classical indicators" that the solar storm will be an ordinary event and pose no danger to the population at large.

As I write this on the 11th April, it seems that indeed any danger has passed without event (if you know otherwise, please write to me at the editorial address).

A danger could possibly be posed for any cosmonauts or astronauts in Earth orbit, as a strong solar storm can increase radiation levels around the planet.

Although the centre of the storm missed Earth, it was broad enough to affect the Earth's space environment, so watch future issues for any effects reported to me.

Dr.Donald Michels of the US Naval Research Laboratory said, "We've never before seen one headed directly at Earth that was as big and bright, and loaded with complex details, as this one."

"The eruption seemed to blow a hole in the Sun's corona that had opened and healed previously", said Dr.Thompson, who is a physicist with SOHO's Extreme-Ultraviolet Imaging Telescope (EIT) team.

According to the original NASA press-release received at the Enigma offices, the interplanetary storm was travelling towards Earth at a speed of over 1 million miles per hour, and was expected to pass the WIND and SOHO satellites at about midnight on Wednesday 9th April.

If any new information or detected effects come to light, expect to read about it in future issues of Enigma.

News has just come in about a possible event near Sheffield on March 24th 1997. A witness (name withheld for safety) saw a Black Triangle (BT) UFO , some 200' in size and with lights on each tip with a large blue intense light in the centre bottom, fly over their house.

Sixty seconds later it was followed by two RAF Tornado jets, shortly followed by another two and then two more (six in total). This all occurred at about 9.45pm near Sheffield and Dronfield, Yorkshire.

Following this bizarre event, helicopters started to appear on the scene. The investigator decided to drive to the scene, only to find police everywhere.

Radar operators later reported informally that they had tracked the object for ten minutes and a sonic boom had been reported. There were also hundreds of phone calls to police stations in the area.

The Royal Hospital at Hallamshire was on alert for plane crash victims and seven mountain rescue teams were on alert. However the local aviation authority denied that any aircraft were missing and the RAF also denied that any of their aircraft were missing. The official verdict on the sonic boom and possible crash was explained away as a "Bolide Meteor exploding and crashing."

This report has literally just been reported to me via the Internet, so I am busy trying to verify and/or find more information. Stay tuned!

Again, another late piece of research which I thought was too important to hold over until the next issue. After continuing to dig for clues regarding the recent suicide's in California, the trail has got to Rennet-le-Chateau in Southern France.

After attending a lecture by Lyn Pyknett and Clive Prince organised by local Unexplained Phenomena research group UNEX (write to editorial address for more information), on the strange origins of Christianity and Rennes-le-Chateau I was surprised to hear some startling parallels which could be more than coincidence to the recent deaths.

It appears that Rennes-le-Chateau holds some interesting clues as to who Mary Magdalene really was and her true relationship with Jesus Christ - revealing Christ's links with a pagan background. This was at odds with the 'official' version of what happened as told by St.Peter and the Church of Rome.

Anyone who knew the real truth behind the Gnostic Gospels and Magdalene was branded a heretic and murdered. After Christ's death it was rumoured that Mary fled to Southern France to avoid persecution by Peter. Thus started a whole 'Magdalene cult' in the area.

Later a group of Cathar's were brutally murdered by 'the church' for refusing to change their views. They regarded sex as evil and that an Earthly presence was bad, referring to their Earthly bodies as 'containers' (beginning to spot the link?)

We know that the Vatican is keeping a keen interest in Hale Bopp. Did Heaven's Gate know more than has been revealed? Although this is highly speculative, a full article will appear next issue. The Truth is Out There!

Word has just got to me of the details for the next, top secret, Bilderberg meeting. Top financiers and other members of the global elite will be holding their annual meeting on June 12th-15th 1997 at the exclusive Renaissance Pine Isle Resort, located on Lake Lanier Island, 57 miles from Atlanta. More info to come.


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