Stranger Things and the Montauk Project

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One very successful television series of the last few years has been 'Stranger Things', a thriller-supernatural series centred around several kids who encounter the results of strange experiments being carried out at a base outside their American town. The series has adopted the style of famous books and television series of the eighties, especially those by Steven Spielberg and Stephen King. This combination of up-to-date special effects, a 'conspiracy theory' style plot and the classic eighties vibe, which is very much in fashion at the moment (Ready Player One being a good example) has made the series very successful. This article is all about where they seem to have got the psychic, supernatural, conspiracy-theory ideas for that series.

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When the Duffer Brothers originally pitched the series to the producers in Hollywood, they called it 'Montauk'. They created the image opposite as part of their presentation, including the sinister tower in the distance. To quote from the Wikipedia page for Stranger Things:

The series was originally known as Montauk, as the setting of the script was in Montauk, New York and nearby Long Island locations. The brothers had chosen Montauk as it had further Spielberg ties with the film Jaws, where Montauk was used for the fictional setting of Amity Island.


I find this explanation hard to believe, for Montauk Air Force Base, in the Eastern coast of the United States, was already famous among aficionados of conspiracy theories for exactly the kind of experiments that take place in the series. According to some, secret experiments took place underground there in the late Seventies that succeeded in doing all sorts of dark and very strange things.
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Why do we move forward in time?

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This week, the New Scientist magazine gave me a big compliment by making my latest letter to them their Editor’s letter of the week. Here it is:

Your article 'Why do we move forward in time?" (Issue 3037, 5th Sept 2015, pg34) makes it clear that physics has no clear answer as to why time passes. The article reminded me of an ancient Zen Koan. Two monks were watching a flag flapping in the wind. One said to the other, "The flag is moving." The other replied, "The wind is moving." A Zen master, walking nearby, overheard them. He said, "It is not the flag nor the wind that is moving but your minds." The idea that our minds experience the four-dimensional 'landscape' of physical reality in a chosen time direction would explain the phenomenon of time passing without violating any physics. Perhaps the Zen master was right philosophically and scientifically?


The article concerned was one of a series of articles in the New Scientist that week (issue 3037) about aspects of physics that non one had yet solved. The tricky nature of time is definitely one of these big conundrums. We all experience time flowing; we do things, one after the other, day after day. Around us clocks tick and cars drive and birds fly etc. We can't seem to stop or alter this flow of time. We can't make time stand still. It can certainly sometimes seem as if time is flowing more slowly than at other times. For example, waiting to go into an exam can seem to last forever, but while you're doing the exam, time can seem to scream by. I remember once starting a strategy board game, then becoming completely engrossed and then looking up and finding out that two hours had gone by, as if in a flash. Read More...

RSA Animate on YouTube

A friend sent me some very interesting links today and I thought I'd pass them on to anyone interested in popular science, psychology and the brain. The first one was to the web site brainpickings.org which looks to be full of good content. Here's a quote I've picked out of one of its recent articles:


“You are a mashup of what you let into your life,” artist Austin Kleon recently proclaimed. This encapsulates the founding philosophy behind Brain Pickings — a filtration mechanism that lets into your life things that are interesting, meaningful, creatively and intellectually stimulating, memorable. Naturally, I was thrilled for the release of Clay Johnson’s The Information Diet: A Case for Conscious Consumption — an intelligent manifesto for optimizing the 11 hours we spend consuming information on any given day (a number that, for some of us, might be frighteningly higher) in a way that serves our intellectual, creative, and psychological well-being.

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Navigation and the Ladies Internation Rescue Organisation

It’s always a good thing for men and women to find ways to understand each other better. If done properly, good male/female communication can, in particular, save the bloke from endless arguments, cold silences and comments like ‘that’s stupid’, ‘you’re not listening’ and sentences beginning with ‘my mum was right...’. To help improve this, I thought I’d write a short article about navigation.

Imagine that you’re in your car with your dearly beloved - your lovely female partner without whom life would be an empty wasteland of loneliness and poor personal hygiene. You’re both in the car on your way to an important social event, a place that you both will reach in time, if all goes well, but there’s not a lot of room to spare. You’re driving along and you spot a side street. You realise that if you head down that side street, there’s a very good chance that you’ll end up on a road you know that’ll take you to the destination quicker. ‘Ahah!’ you think, ‘I’ll take that shortcut and I’ll have improved my knowledge of the area, speeded up my journey and my dearly beloved will be really grateful. We’ll be at the wedding/christening/graduation ceremony with time to spare. Hooray!’

I have three words of advice to give at this point:
Don’t do it!

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