February 2, 1979 is a well-known date – if, that is, you are a big fan of the U.K. punk band, the Sex Pistols. I got into the Pistols when I was a kid, back in the late 1970s. To be correct, I was just twelve when the Pistols’ one and only album, Never Mind the Bollocks, hit the stores in the latter part of 1977. The members: Steve Jones (guitarist), Johnny Rotten (vocalist), Glen Matlock (bassist), and Paul Cook (drummer). Matlock wasn’t destined to stay with the band, however. He was replaced by Sid Vicious, who could barely play the bass. Unfortunately, while Matlock was a great song-writer, Vicious was a hopeless junkie who was hooked on heroin – which is, without a doubt at all, one of the most dangerous drugs out there, and that should be avoided at all times. As for that date, February 2, 1979, that’s when stupid, pathetic Sid died. He was just twenty-one. Moving on, there are a couple of intriguing mysteries surrounding the Sex Pistols that are worth noting.
David Shayler is a former employee of Britain’s domestic intelligence-gathering agency, MI5, which is the British equivalent of the United States’ FBI. Shayler, a definitive whistle-blower, shook the British establishment to its core in 1999. That was the year in which authors Mark Hollingsworth and Nick Fielding wrote a book titled Defending the Realm: MI5 and the Shayler Affair. One of the many and varied revelations of the secret kind from Shayler were focused on London’s most famous, loved, and hated, spiky-tops: the Sex Pistols, of course. According to Shayler, while working for MI5 he saw and read a file titled Subversion in Contemporary Music, which contained numerous newspaper and magazine clippings on musicians whose output was deemed by MI5 to be controversial and inflammatory. And, no surprise, that included the Sex Pistols. Shayler added: “You can imagine some Colonel Blimp character compiling this file, whereas anybody with half a brain knew the Sex Pistols talked a good talk – wrote a lot of songs about it, but when it came to political activism did absolutely nothing.”
Then, there’s the matter of Nancy Spungen. For a while Nancy was Sid’s girlfriend. That is, until she was found dead, on October 12, 1978. Her lifeless body was found in a room in the Chelsea Savoy Hotel, New York. Both Sid and Nancy were junkies, something that made it difficult to determine who had killed Nancy. Was it another junkie looking for money or drugs? Did Nancy take her own life? Or, did Sid kill her? We’ll likely never know. Sid had little to say after Nancy was no more. And Sid wasn’t saying a damn thing after February 2, 1979 – ever. As for possible answers to what happened at the legendary hotel, there’s this over at the Groovy History website: “After Vicious died, the NYPD dropped their investigation into Spungen’s death. In all likelihood, a gacked-out Vicious was the person who put an end to his girlfriend’s life, but there are some in the punk community who believe that Vicious was set up and that someone else was brandishing the knife. There’s no way to have a crystal clear understanding of exactly what happened that night in 1979…”
The Ramones pay homage to Sid and Nancy …
The U.K. Independent states: “Many have speculated the whole tragic episode was the result of a botched suicide pact, the couple romanticised as punk’s very own Romeo and Juliet. Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren, admittedly never an entirely trustworthy source, remained unwavering in his defence of Vicious, criticising the police investigation into the incident and telling The Daily Beast in 2009: ‘She was the first and only love of his life … I am positive about Sid’s innocence.‘”
A four-year-old girl finds a 220 million-year-old Dinosaur footprint in wales
looked down and said, “Daddy, look at this.” When Daddy looked, instead of a coin or a dead fish – the kinds of things four-year-olds normally find on the beach – he saw what looked like a well-defined dinosaur’s footprint on a rock. And not just an ordinary dinosaur’s footprint either.
“This fossilised dinosaur footprint from 220 million years ago is one of the best-preserved examples from anywhere in the U.K. and will really aid paleontologists to get a better idea about how these early dinosaurs walked.”
It’s enough to make an experienced, long-searching, frustrated paleontologist cry, but Cindy Howells is the curator at the Amgueddfa Cymru — National Museum of Wales Palaeontology and she’s thrilled to have the rock with a small three-toed footprint (paleontologists call it a Grallator) stomped on it. (See the photo here.) In fact, that’s how four-year-old accidental paleontologist Lily Wilder described to the CBC the sound the dinosaur made.
“Stompy stomp stomp!”
Stompy stomp stomp — really?
While walking on the beach at Bendricks Bay near Barry in south Wales, Lily and her father, Richard Wilder, should not have been surprised to find a fossil since the beach is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) which contains many fossils and geological features that require careful site management in order to protect and preserve them. The footprint was in a large rock, so Richard took a photo of it, which showed it “was almost like someone had etched into the rock.”
“It was small.”
While Lily might possibly have preferred finding a footprint from the creature that inspired her toy T-Rex, this one is just over 10cm (4 inches) long and probably ‘stomped’ by a dinosaur that was about 75cm (30 inches) tall and 2.5m (8.2 feet) long, walked on two hind legs (one of which made the footprint) and ate small animals and insects. Paleontologists who looked at the print have been unable to identify the species.
While paleontologists probably don’t shout that when finding a dinosaur footprint – even one as well-defined as the one Lily spotted – they can certainly understand her reaction to finding out that the museum display of the rock and fossil will feature a plaque listing her as its discoverer.
Hey paleontologists – if you’re still feeling depressed and frustrated, try a few “Yuppees!” Or maybe a “Stompy stomp stomp!”
Project thor and the rods from God
Brent Swancer | Mysterious Universe
Brent Swancer is an author and crypto expert living in Japan. Biology, nature, and cryptozoology still remain Br…
Throughout human history the art and weapons of warfare have evolved continuously, and much as with natural evolution itself, warring sides have been locked in a never-ending cycle of increasing one-upmanship. Our relentless arms race goes way back to ancient times, going from clubs, to spears, to arrows, and beyond, in modern days bringing us firearms, missiles of increasing lethality, and of course nuclear weapons, but even this is not seen as the ultimate weapon of devastation. Research and development has continued to find and refine better ways to kill each other, to beat the other guy, and among these the realm of space has been seen as a sort of last frontier of warfare. What if you could wield weapons of mass destruction orbiting in space where the enemy would be helpless to do anything about it, and what if you could whisk these weapons to anywhere on the globe in minutes to rain down death from above? To the military this is almost too good to pass up, and it might be disturbing to many readers that this science fiction scenario has been hotly pursued. Let’s take a look.
One of the main problems with using space as a battlefield is that it is technically banned, in a sense. The Outer Space Treaty, which was signed by 107 countries in 1967 prohibits nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons from being placed in or used from Earth’s orbit. This is a bummer for warmongers, but there is a loophole. What if the weapon wasn’t nuclear, biological, or chemical? How could we devise something that skirted the treaty, yet was still utterly devastating? Lasers have been proposed in the past, but far from what you see in the Death Star in the Star Wars films, lasers just haven’t proven to be that effective at blowing things up. They require too much power to focus, are ineffective at long distances, and simply cost too much to develop. Laser technology for warfare, especially that from space, has been considered largely a dead end, and our technology in this area is woefully inadequate for anything other than perhaps burning through a piece of plywood with a concentrated burst at short range for sustained periods on an unmoving object, or perhaps shining a little mini cat toy laser in an enemy’s eyes. But what if you could just drop something heavy on them from space? It might sound absurd, like something Wile. E. Coyote might try, but this is a very real, and very frightening area of research, and far more powerful than you might think.
It’s called “Kinetic Bombardment,” also known as a “Kinetic Orbital Strike,” which is a lot scarier-sounding than “big heavy thing dropped from space,” and indeed it is scary. The basic premise behind it involves using an inert projectile, no explosives, no moving parts, propellants, or chemicals, just a, well, big solid heavy thing, to drop down from orbit at a target. The idea is that a satellite would carry a magazine of these objects, most likely tungsten rods about the size of a telephone pole and weighing around 9 tons, with fins attached to keep them straight, and more or less just drop them towards a target. So, it’s just a big heavy object falling towards earth, right? You’d just have to get out the way and you’d be fine, right? Well, not exactly.
As it travelled towards the surface of the earth powered by gravity alone, the projectile would gain tremendous velocity and speed, going 8 kilometers per second in orbit and eventually getting up to an impact speed of about Mach 10. When just one of these “rods from God” hit the surface, it would penetrate hundreds of feet into the ground, while releasing its built up kinetic energy to create an explosion roughly on par with over 11.5 tons of TNT (or 7.2 tons of dynamite). If more than one was dropped over an area, they could create incredible devastation on par with a tactical nuclear strike. For instance, one hundred rods would have the total destructive power of 1,150 to 14,000 tons of TNT, approaching the yield of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, all without the fallout, no radiation, and no need for actual explosives of any kind. Often called Project Thor, there are envisioned to be between 6 to 8 satellites in orbit at any given time carrying these projectiles, giving them the capability to hit any target on the planet’s surface within 10 to 15 minutes from order to launch to impact. This would give the enemy very little time to prepare, and furthermore the launch would be difficult to detect, the rods would be hard to see on radar, and they would be moving so fast that they would be nearly impossible to defend against. It sounds horrifying, and there would not really be much an enemy could do to predict or stop such attacks, but surely this is all just science fiction speculation, right? Again, not exactly.
It does sound a lot like science fiction, and indeed the rods from God have appeared in many science fiction stories and were even originally conceived of by Boeing employee turned science fiction writer Jerry Pournelle back in the 1950s, but make no mistake this is not purely fantasy. Indeed, not only is the concept and theory behind it totally sound and achievable, but kinetic strikes in one form or another have already been used in real life. Using heavy solid objects dropped from great heights has been going on since World War I, when masses of metallic objects, called flechettes, were dropped in great numbers on enemy positions from aircraft, with the effect being on par to machine gun fire. During the Vietnam and Korean wars, the U.S. occasionally used what were called “Lazy Dog bombs,” which scattered hundreds of little solid hunks of metal with fins of sheet metal welded on to allow a straighter fall and higher velocity, with each one hitting with enough force to penetrate 9 inches of concrete after being dropped from as little as 3,000 feet. In as recently as 2020, a kinetic weapon, in this case basically a 100 pound modified missile fitted with detachable blades for added lethality, was dropped from an aircraft to obliterate a vehicle carrying a senior Al Qaeda official.
This technology is very real, the theory is sound, and it really works. The rods of God of Project Thor could definitely be a reality today, and the only reason it isn’t is down to money. It just simply costs too much to haul such heavy projectiles into space, making it too cost-prohibitive, with it costing at least $10,000 to carry just one pound into space at the moment. To carry hundreds of 9 ton rods into orbit would be astronomically expensive, and this is likely the only reason Project Thor has not been more seriously pursued. Yet, the plan has continued to come across the table of military officials, and has been reconsidered on more than one occasion, if even in a limited capacity as a bunker busting weapon. If the cost wasn’t so exorbitant, they would absolutely pursue this to fruition, and if they can work this out, then who knows? For now we are probably safe, but it does make one look up and hope there is not a satellite up there with a rod aimed at you.