Monday, March 26, 2012

Secrets of the Past - Early Evidence of Nuclear Weapons? from Micah Hanks

To kick off a new week we wanted to give you a look inside one of our recent anthology works entitled Exposed, Uncovered, and Unclassified: Lost Civilizations & Secrets of the Past.  This section comes from Micah Hank's entry entitled Oppenheimer's Iron Thunderbolt: Evidence of Nuclear Weapons which starts on page 117.  We hope you enjoy the read and that it peaks your interest to investigate the book and other great authors that included portions from their research.

The exchange of knowledge between master and student is a timeless expression of the accumulation of human insight. Like some clandestine secret handed from the magi of old down to a new generation of protégés, the wisdom of the ancients is something that many spend their entire lives seeking. This is because they know that this wisdom of the past is of inestimable value to future generations. Whether it be Sun Tzu’s treatises on the art of waging war, or the once alchemical agents that form the basis of our modern sciences, we look to the past to learn about ourselves and how to better our existence both today and in the future. The details imparted to us in the particular exchange between master and student that we will be examining here—though obscure at best—will introduce us to unforeseen possibilities that might change our very perspective regarding who we once were, who we are now, and, perhaps most importantly, what we may become.

To begin at what might have been one story’s ending, we arrive at the dawn of the atomic age, in the years immediately following World War II. This most dire of modern global conflicts was considered the “war that would end all wars.” Of course, ending this conflict came at a horrible cost: the loss of civilian life on a tremendous scale with what all assumed was first use in Earth’s history of nuclear weapons during wartime.

On the morning of August 6, 1945, at approximately 8:15 a.m. Japan time, the Boeing B-29 Superfortress bomber EnolaGay had entered airspace directly above Hiroshima, where it dropped a free-fall explosive known to history by the nickname “Little Boy.” Within one minute, the bomb detonated over the city at an altitude of approximately 1,900 feet.1 No large-scale enemy raid had occurred; a small fleet of U.S. aircraft had been detected and subsequently ignored by early warning radar. For this reason, it was hours before officers from the Japanese General Staff arrived to investigate why all the radio stations in Hiroshima had gone silent.2 Upon arriving within sight of the city, pilots were stunned to see only a vast pillar of smoke rising over the area. Announcers in broadcasts overheard by Allied sources reported that, “[t]he impact of the bomb was so terrific that practically all living things—human and animal—were literally seared to death by the tremendous heat and pressure setup by the blast. All the dead and injured were burned beyond recognition. Those outdoors were burned to death, while those indoors were killed by the indescribable pressure and heat.”3

This attack was followed by a similar blast that leveled the city of Nagasaki to the southwest, prompting Japan’s surrender and thus ending the Second World War. As has been argued many times with due controversy since the end of the conflict, war always results in death, but killing on the scale seen in the days leading up to Japan’s surrender also restored peace to the least for a while. Soon, however, the lingering fear that other countries—especially emerging superpowers such as the Soviet Union—would build their own atomic arsenals presented a terrifying new threat.

Another result of humanity’s entry into the atomic age was the utter fascination with which the public regarded these weapons and their development. As information about the Manhattan Project became public knowledge, J. Robert Oppenheimer, dubbed the father of the atomic bomb for his involvement in the project, became something of a celebrity, with his face emblazoned across the covers of American magazines and newspapers. Oppenheimer would also begin lecturing about the scientific merits of this emerging nuclear technology, as well as the necessity for alliances with different countries around the world, from which all could reap the benefit of mutual protection from the threat of nuclear arms in the wrong hands.

Of course, the blasts at Hiroshima and Nagasaki hadn’t been the first of their kind. Oppenheimer had been among those at the famous test at Alamogordo, where the first successful detonation of a nuclear weapon (given the nickname “Trinity” by Oppenheimer) had occurred. Much later in 1965, Oppenheimer recalled his feelings from that occasion during a NBC television appearance, saying that, “We knew the world would not be the same. A few people laughed, a few people cried, most people were silent. I remembered the line from the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad-Gita...‘Now, I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.’ I suppose we all thought that one way or another.”4

Though Oppenheimer was the so-called father of modern nuclear weapons, there are some rather strange circumstances involving this brilliant physicist that have resulted in questions as to whether the test at Alamogordo was indeed the first nuclear detonation in Earth’s history. On one occasion, during a seminar Oppenheimer was giving at Rochester University on the development of nuclear weapons, a college student asked if the blast at Alamogordo had been the first of its kind. Oppenheimer replied rather strangely by saying, “Well, yes, in modern times.” This statement is troubling for a number of reasons. For one, Oppenheimer seems to be intimating that there had been other nuclear explosions in the past that he knew about. Even if this were indeed found to be the case, where could any such blast have occurred, and who would have been responsible for it? Since Oppenheimer specifically referenced “modern times,” it would seem that something akin to the blasts at Alamogordo, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki had once transpired at some point earlier in Earth’s history.

Logic would tell us, however, that it’s very unlikely that an ancient technology ever succeeded in harnessing the power of the atom as we have done in modern times. Some say that Oppenheimer was referencing the mysterious blast that occurred over Tunguska, a remote part of modern-day Russia, in 1908. This explosion, however, was not the result of a man-made device, nor was it even a nuclear blast, as it has since been determined that the concentration of radioactive isotopes in the blast area after the incident did not match the expected levels following a nuclear explosion.5 So what, then, was Oppenheimer referring to? Did the brilliant physicist really make this unsettling allusion to a student at Rochester during such a lecture? If so, what are the implications? The surprising answers lie hidden deep within some of the late physicist’s more esoteric interests, where we begin to see that he may have been referencing an event that occurred much earlier.

It is well known that Oppenheimer was well-versed in the Vedic epics of India, particularly given his propensity to publicly quote Hindu scripture such as the Bhagavad-Gita. Oppenheimer was also known to give copies of the Bhagavad-Gita to friends as gifts, in addition to keeping a copy of the text on the bookshelf by his desk.6 According to British journalist Nilesh Prashar, at the funeral of U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt, Oppenheimer read an excerpt from the holy text, which states in part, “Man is a creature whose substance is faith, what his faith is, he is.” Oppenheimer also cited the volume as being among his 10 favorite and most influential spiritual books during an interview in 1963.7

The Bhagavad-Gita is merely one part of the greater epic known as the Mahabharata, and one of two manuscripts (along with the Ramayana) that constitute the major Sanskrit epics of India. Of particular relevance to the discussion of nuclear weapons and their potential existence in ancient times, we find mention of something curious in the Mahabharata—specifically, during the epic battle said to have taken place between rival nations of the ancient world. If we accept this as a literal account of an armed conflict that took place in ancient times, we are left with the curious mention of a variety of weapons which seem to resemble modern firearms, advanced aircraft, and even explosives with devastating potential that resemble nuclear armaments. The late Alexander Gorbovsky, who served as an expert at the Russian Munitions Agency, wrote about this in his 1986 article “Riddles of Ancient History,” where he mentions references to a “terrible weapon” in the Mahabharata. “Regrettably, in our age of the atomic bomb, the description of this weapon exploding will not appear to be an exaggeration.”8 Following is the passage to which Gorbovsky is referring. Despite having been authored almost 3,000 years ago, it seems to describe something all too familiar to us today:

[A] blazing shaft possessed of the effulgence of a smokeless fi re (was) let off.... This makes the bodies of the dead unidentifiable.... The survivors lose their nails and hair, and their food becomes unfit for eating. For several subsequent years the Sun, the stars and the sky remain shrouded with clouds and bad weather.

The weapon described here, variously referred to in the text as the Weapon of Brahma, the Flame of Indra, or the Iron Thunderbolt, causes various kinds of ailments to living beings, in addition to atmospheric damage. During the early 1960s, it was shown that high-altitude testing with megaton nuclear explosives resulted in the creation of artificial belts of radiation in space. Although it is uncertain whether such radiation belts would cause the “clouds and bad weather” described in the Mahabharata, great concern about long-term atmospheric effects have been expressed by the likes of Sir Bernard Lovell, the director of the Radio Astronomy Laboratories at Jodrell Bank Center for Astrophysics.9 The late Herman Hoerlin, a leading expert on the physics of high-altitude nuclear detonations, also noted in a 1976 study
that “recent studies of a possible relationship between certain auroral displays in the north and weather do not exclude the hypothetical possibility of artificial weather-modification by nuclear energy releases.”10 On a greater scale, however, it was thought that the effects of a fullblown nuclear holocaust could result in a nuclear winter, in which the smoke and soot filling the air following the detonation would block sunlight, thus reducing temperatures over large areas or even worldwide. Citing a 2006 study on the potential devastation following a nuclear winter, Science Daily reported that “even a small-scale, regional nuclear war could produce as many direct fatalities as all of World War II and disrupt the global climate for a decade or more, with environmental effects that could be devastating for everyone on Earth.11

The descriptions of this massive weapon in the Mahabharata are thought to indicate some kind of projectile, perhaps lending to its description as a “bolt” that strikes locations from above:

[It was] a single projectile charged with all the power of the Universe. An incandescent column of smoke and flame as bright as the thousand suns rose in all its was an unknown weapon, an iron thunderbolt, a gigantic messenger of death, which reduced to ashes the entire race of the Vrishnis and the Andhakas.

Soldiers then “throw themselves into streams to wash themselves and their equipment.”12 Interestingly, this line is reminiscent of individuals attempting to ward off the effects of radiation poisoning. According to the Merck Manual online medical library, initial treatment for exposure to radiation involves careful removal and storage of the individual’s clothing (to aid in preventing further contamination), followed by bathing wounded areas and then the rest of the skin.13

This portion of the Mahabharata appears to describe an event that bears more than a passing resemblance to what we now know of modern nuclear weapons and their attendant dangers. But is it reasonable to infer that ancient nuclear wars were indeed occurring on Earth prior to civilization as we know it today, based solely on the descriptions given in an ancient Sanskrit holy text? Arguably, some portions of the Mahabharata, much like the epics of other ancient cultures, are necessarily comprised of fantastical narratives that incorporate the mythologies, values, cultures, and imaginations of its author, all presented as direct reportage. Take, for instance, the remarkable flying craft known as vimanas that were described in some detail in many of the Sanskrit legends. These craft resemble everything from modern aircraft to popular depictions of flying saucers and UFOs. Could there be any factual basis for such things existing thousands of years ago, especially when descriptions of their capabilities seem to exceed what modern avionics has achieved? Remarkably, the intricacies pertaining to the design and mechanics of these craft are described at various times throughout the Vedas, with mention of “engines” that consist of an iron enclosure housing mercury or a similar substance that, when stimulated in some way (electrically, perhaps), could cause a vortex to occur within the swirling liquid metal, thus manifesting a strange energy source capable of propelling these flying vehicles to great altitudes at tremendous speeds.

Though remarkable and imaginative, these sorts of descriptions—replete with details that appear to describe a technologically advanced society—have prompted many a modern researcher to consider whether the Vedas do indeed contain evidence of some ancient, advanced society. Imagine if they were the last remaining written accounts of some even older civilization which, though forgotten today, was remembered well enough thousands of years ago that attempts were made at cataloguing its various innovations. Perhaps this monumental task was undertaken by people who themselves had only a vague remembrance of these earlier exploits—and even less knowledge of the technology they were attempting to document.

One researcher who has carefully and exhaustively examined the technology depicted in the Vedas is Peter Thomson, an instructor at Napier University in Edinburgh who has authored books and articles on everything from green energy, holistic diets, and computer systems that integrate biological life forms, to attempts at finding credible evidence for ancient civilizations and prehistoric nuclear weapons. In his article “Unexplained Flying Vehicles” on his Website, Thomson describes his research into what he calls a charged sheath vortex, a device inspired by and designed to operate based on the aforementioned descriptions of a “swirling mercury engine” from the Sanskrit epics. (Incidentally, this is very similar to the “implosion technology” developed by Austrian inventor Viktor Schauberger in the 1920s and ‘30s, which itself was based on tornado-like fluidic vortices, for whirlpools, and similar vortex movements found in nature.14) Regarding the appearance of such advanced concepts in ancient texts, Thomson states the following:

There is simply too much consistent and working technology in [the Vedas]. These stories can only be fragments of history from the distant past. Twisted, altered, misremembered, but still enough technology remains in these accounts to say with a lot of certainty, we are not the first technological civilization on this planet.15

Granted, it may require a suspension of disbelief for anyone to assume that the Vedas, as Thomson writes, “can only be fragments of history from the distant past.” After all, the Vedas could certainly be discussing other things just as easily, especially in the absence of any scientific evidence of ancient technological innovations on par with modern atomic weaponry. However, according to Thomson, the finest evidence for advanced technology exists not in these fascinating descriptions of aviation and engineering innovations in the Vedas, but instead in our planet’s archaeological, geological, and climate data.

For instance, the ability to manipulate our environment using technology involves the acquisition and practical use of essential metals such as copper, lead, tin, and iron. Thomson notes that mining for such metals, along with the ensuing smelting and processing of usable quantities, resulted in traces that could be observed in glacial deposits around the globe, relative to the time period when such industrialization began. Thomson argues in his article that the industrial development of ancient Greek and Roman societies left a clear signature out, stating that nuclear fission could also be traced in such a way. Any evidence of a nuclear war and the ensuing period of nuclear winter would likely be found within the cores of coral reefs, formed out of calcium carbonate secreted by marine organisms over the centuries, and in the beds of rivers and lakes left undisturbed for long periods of time.16 Other evidence that would be observable in the geological record might include the extinction of large swaths of animal populations in various regions and habitats, as well as stone and sand melted by the sudden, intense heat at the site of an explosion, resulting in the formation of glass, called trinitite. If we were to find evidence of such conditions spanning a relatively short period of time in geological history, we might indeed have a case not only for ancient civilizations, but also, given the right sort of evidence, perhaps even for a clearly traceable nuclear event—or even several of them—in prehistory.

Remarkable though it may seem, many of these criteria have been found, most coinciding with the end of the last Ice Age. Thomson notes evidence of expected increases in traces of metals such as iron and copper; of the extinction resulting from an intelligent species proliferating and encroaching on the habitat of megafauna in the locale; of uranium concentrations in coral; and even of the presence of glasslike fused sand and stone at a number of ancient sites. This information serves as the rationale for a bold emerging hypothesis that perhaps a technologically advanced civilization did exist in ancient times. Thomson argues that [this civilization] mined and smelted copper, lead, tin and almost certainly iron...and destroyed all the megafauna predators from all continents.... It developed a nuclear capability and then destroyed itself in a nuclear holocaust...followed by a nuclear winter that returned the world to an ice age for a further 1000 years.17

Speaking more specifically, physical evidence for a nuclear event, or possibly a series of them, exists, as well. A paper written by scientists William Topping and Richard B. Firestone states that anomalous radiocarbon readings were recovered from the Great Lakes region of North America: “The entire Great Lakes region (and beyond) was subjected to particle bombardment and a catastrophic nuclear irradiation that produced secondary thermal neutrons from cosmic ray interactions.”18 Granted, the event to which the authors refer took place in Paleo-Indian times. Moreover, because conventional wisdom holds that nuclear devices simply couldn’t have existed so long ago, the authors propose instead the theory that a supernova was likely to blame: “The size of the initial catastrophe may be too large for a solar flare,” they say, although a “significantly powerful nearby supernovae or cosmic ray jet could account for it.”19 Obviously, this is only a theory, and as such it does not definitively prove that such natural phenomena caused a nuclear event in ancient times. But left to consider the troubling alternative—namely, that ancient humans may have possessed a greater degree of technical proficiency—what are we to think of explanations that point to the existence of ancient nuclear weapons? Despite the controversy that rages between these two polar opposite positions, one thing is obvious: a nuclear event or events apparently did take place in ancient times, and proof of this does exist. Regarding a technological primum movens behind the nuclear event(s) in question, however, there may indeed be evidence that brings us to an even more unsettling conclusion involving our ancient ancestors and what dreadful technology they may have possessed— despite what conventional history has taught us for so long.

Micah A. Hanks is a full-time journalist, radio personality, author, musician, and investigator of the unexplained. Throughout his many years studying the world’s mysteries, Hanks has visited a number of diverse places, collecting information about not only UFOs and strange phenomenon but also cultural data, folklore, history, and philosophy. He has been featured as a guest on many television and radio programs, including the History Channel’s Guts and Bolts, National Geographic’s Paranatural, CNN Radio, and The Jeff Rense Program. He is also a staff writer for UFO Magazine, Mysterious Universe, and regular contributor to Intrepid Magazine, with past articles appearing in FATE, Mysteries Magazine, New Dawn, and several other publications. The latest news about UFOs and unexplained phenomena, as well as information about Micah’s ongoing projects and appearances, are available at his Website, TheGralienReport  

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