Monday, March 19, 2007

The Cumberland Spaceman

Over the years, there have been many strange pictures of UFOs and aliens to garner media attention. Most turn out to be hoaxes. Then there are those pictures that can't be so easily dismissed. One of those pictures is of "The Cumberland Spaceman."

It was May 23, 1964 when firefighter Jim Templeton took his wife and daughter to Burgh Marsh eight miles west of their home of Carlisle, Northern England. John was an amateur photographer, and wanted to take some photos of their daughter, Elizabeth. She posed sitting in the grass in the middle of this open, grassy area. They continued on their walk, and Jim took more pictures along the way.

A few days later, Jim got his photographs back from the chemist that developed them. The guy told Jim that it was a pity some idiot was walking around in one of the pictures of Elizabeth. It was a pity that it happened to be the best photograph of the lot. Jim looked at the picture. He was baffled. This is what he saw:

The figure behind Elizabeth looked like a tall guy in a spacesuit. What the hell? What was this spaceman doing jutting out of his daughter's head? Alright, so maybe that's not exactly what Jim was thinking. Jim and his family never saw another person on their walk, and this mysterious spaceman wasn't in any of the other photographs John had taken. He had taken three pictures in succession with his Kodak SLR of Elizabeth posing in her new dress. Only the middle one of the three had that spaceman in it.

The picture was exhaustively examined by Kodak for any tampering or signs of a hoax. They found none. They then offered a reward of free film for a year to any person that could solve the mystery as to how this spaceman got into Jim's picture. No one could figure it out, and the picture went worldwide.

As if the picture alone wasn't enough of a mystery, the area where the photograph was taken also adds to the mystique. The Burgh Marsh had been a hotbed of UFO activity, and people believed it had something to do with the atomic plant nearby. In fact, if you look closely, you can see the plant in the far right on the horizon.

Enter the Men in Black...As the photograph hit the newspapers all over the globe, Jim was visited by two strangers wearing dark suits. They pulled up to his house in a dark Jaguar and identified themselves as memebers of Her Majisty's Government. They requested Jim to take them to the site where the picture was taken. They asked Jim specific questions about the weather, any local animal activity, etc. on the day he had snapped the picture. They then tried to get Jim to admit that it was all a hoax. Jim refused to admit such a thing, so they left him there. It was a five mile hike back to the firehouse where Jim worked.

The plot thickens in Australia...Jim's weird photograph was in the newspapers in Australia soon thereafter. The newspapers in Australia requested a copy of the negative of the picture, as they had their own strange sighting that happened to coincide with the spaceman in Jim's photo.

Woomera, Australia was the launch site of a big space project called Blue Streak. When the reporters started digging, they found that on May 23, 1964 - a rocket launch countdown was aborted when security cameras caught two "men" in white spacesuits walking around the launch pad. This freaky incident happened within hours of Jim snapping his photograph on the otherside of the world on that same day.

Later, Jim learned that rockets used for the Blue Streak project were being manufactured in Spadeadam, England...which is only just a few miles from the Burgh Marsh.

Australian reporters wanted to view the film taken on May 23rd, but it seems out of all the canisters of film taken during the entire Blue Streak project, the one canister holding that footage is "missing."

Who or what is that spaceman behind little Elizabeth? You would think that Jim or his wife would notice a dude walking around back there in such a huge expanse of green hills. Jim was an avid photographer, and he wouldn't take such a great picture while such a figure was in the picture. What did the technicians in Australia see just minutes before launching an experimental rocket? Did they see the SAME spaceguys? It seems the Blue Streak project is the common denominator in both sightings. What does it all mean?

Below is a letter written by Jim Templeton published in the UK's Daily Mail in 2002:

As an amateur photographer on a day-trip with my family, I took the photograph on Burgh Marsh on May 23, 1964, using an SLR camera loaded with the new Kodacolor film which was processed by Kodak.

I took three pictures of my daughter Elizabeth in a similar pose - and was shocked when the middle picture came back from Kodak displaying what looks like a spaceman in the background.

I took the picture to the police in Carlisle who, after many doubts, examined it and stated there was nothing suspicious about it.

The local newspaper, the Cumberland News, picked up the story and within hours it was all over the world.
The picture is certainly not a fake, and I am as bemused as anyone else as to how this image appeared in the background.

Over the four decades the photo has been in the public domain, I have ha
d many thousands of letters from all over the world with various ideas or possibilities - most of which make little sense to me.

It should also be noted that I have received no payment for taking this picture.

The only suggestion that struck a chord with me was a letter from Woomera in Australia which came a month after the picture was shown around the world.
The people there were keen to see a good colour copy of the photo, as they had stopped a countdown of the Blue Streak rocket within hours of my photo being taken. Apparently, two similar looking 'spacemen' had been seen close to the rocket.

Only later did I find out that part of the Blue Streak rocket was made and tested within sight of Burgh Marsh.

James Templeton

Friday, March 9, 2007

Friday Fun Facts 2

Human Psychology: 54% of men think about sex every day or several times a day. (The idea that men think about sex every seven seconds...(hold on)...............the idea that men think about sex every seven seconds is really just...(just a sec) urban legend).

Chemistry: Hydrogen is an explosive gas. Oxygen is highly combustible. But when you put the two together (H2O), they make water - which is often used to put out fires. (What do you add to powdered water?)

Health: In the country of Bahrain, a male gynecologist can only examine a woman'"parts" via reflection in a mirror. (I've tried to cut my own hair using this method, and it's impossible. Try performing a pap smear this way. Yowza!)

Animal Kingdom: The Fitzroy River turtle can breathe out of its ass. (I can't do that, but I can talk out of mine).

Monday, March 5, 2007

A Real Wild Child

The stories of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes, tell of a man that was raised by apes as a boy. Growing up, I watched Tarzan on Sunday mornings. Ron Ely looked so well groomed for a dude living with a bunch of chimps. And he spoke such eloquent English too.

This story written by Edgar Rice Burroughs is based on a very real phenomena...

Feral Children.

These children somehow survive being lost, abandoned, and isolated from fellow human beings. It's a miracle that this kids somehow make it alive at all, but the behavioral, psychological, and social affects still baffle scientists. Some feral children are raised by animals, which is still an ongoing debate. Others are kept in such isolation, that they have no idea how to communicate with others after being rescued.

It's strange to think even in this day and age, that a child can be separated from the world. But in parts of the world with more remote settings like dense jungles or deep mountains, this phenomena is still happening today.

Here are a just a few of the more interesting cases I researched:

Rochom P'ngieng - The Jungle Girl
Rochom was lost in the deep jungles of Cambodia at the age of eight. Her parents searched for her for years, but assumed she was dead. On January 13, 2007, she was found when a villager noticed his food had been stolen and caught her. Nineteen years later, 27 year old Rochom P'ngieng had been found. So far, her transition to the modern world has been difficult. She is still nocturnal, cannot speak, and refuses to wear clothes or take showers. Rochom has desired to go back to the jungle, so her parents have to keep a careful watch over her.

Traian Caldarar - The Transylvanian Dog Boy
Traian ran away from home at the age of three when his mother left without him, hoping to escape an abusive husband. When she returned, little Traian was gone. In 2002, seven year-old Traian was found by a shephard. Although it was nearly four years later, the boy was still physically the same size. Experts believe there's no way this boy survived on his own. Traian exhibited many animal-like characteristics including walking on all fours and sleeping under his bed. They believe Traian survived with the help of stray dogs in the countryside. Thankfully, Traian is learning to speak and communicate - probably because he was lost for only three years. Hopefully he'll continue his progress.

Genie - Abuse and Isolation
"Genie's" story is perhaps the most well-known modern case of a child being deprived of social and sensory stimulation. Her mother was partially blind from a detached retina and cataracts, and her father was mentally ill. Her father kept her locked in her room alone, tied to a potty chair. At night, she was bound and then kept in a crib with a lid over it. Finally in 1970, after ten years, thirteen year-old Genie was taken by her mother when she fled their Los Angeles home. Her discovery made worldwide news.

When she was discovered, Genie could understand a few words but could only say "stop it" and "no more." Genie was verbally silent, she couldn't focus her eyes beyond 12 feet, she masterbated constantly, and she weighed only 59 pounds. Scientists wanted to help her, but they also wanted to learn more about how humans acquire language.

With the team of doctors' help, she learned over 100 words and could dress herself. In time, she improved and it seemed as if she was going to recover. However, she couldn't string words together. Her progress hit a wall. After five years, Genie's mom sued for custody. She was then transferred to several institutions. Her father committed suicide not long after Genie had been discovered. Genie is said to still be living in an adult institution to this day somewhere in Southern California.

Kamala and Amala - The Wolf Children
Kamala was eight years-old and Amala was eighteen months in 1920 when they were found by Reverand Joseph Singh. They were living in a cave in Godamuri, India with wolves at the time. Singh took them to his orphanage and tried his best to care for the two girls.

They both had developed callouses on their hands and knees, were nocturnal, and walked on all fours. The girls also barked and howled like wolves. Not only that, but they had developed acute senses of smell and hearing. After a year, the younger Amala showed signs of some progress but died. Kamala learned a vocabulary of about forty words, became housetrained, and eventually learned to walk upright. Nine years later, Kamala fell ill with typhoid fever and died.

The girls were known to NOT be sisters, and Reverand Singh suspected they originally had been abducted by wolves.

The discovery of a feral child faces scientists to confront the fact that we still do not fully understand how our language and social skills develop. It's a fact that the sooner a child gets help, the better off they are. But it's also certain that if a child misses those critical moments in early childhood, the brain hasn't developed all those connections necessary for true language development. In recent brain scans, the feral child's brain is found to be less wrinkled than a normal child's.

And is it really possible for a child to be cared for by wild animals? There are cases of children being raised by monkeys, dogs, and especially wolves. In India, there are just bunch of reported cases of children being raised by wolves. Are a she-wolf's maternal instincts so strong as to care for a human baby?

In 1995, a Kenyan baby named Angel was abandoned in the forest. (Kenya has forests?) A dog found her and carried the baby to her own litter of puppies. The dog's owner found the infant and took her to the hospital. Angel's story is an amazing one, and it illustrates that motherly instinct can cross animal species barriers.

Case in point:
I'm sure there are some humans out there that treat their pets like their own babies.