UDreamOfJanie

Dream a Little Dream of Me.

Anal Probes Explained… Maybe

With all that’s going on, I sort of missed our Science Friday. Consider this a belated post for that.

Kate actually woke me up to show me this. It’s pretty cool though, and since she’s so cute, she’s forgiven.

Dr. Phil Plait (pronounced Plate, contrary to popular thought) is one of Kate’s heros. It helps that she says his locks are somewhat scarce, I’m sure. (I think I’ve mentioned she has a thing for bald men, right? Every picture I see of him, he has a hat on so I can’t verify that.) I saw him on a show a week or two ago on TV. He’s like famous and stuff.

He’s an astronomer, and you can find his website at BadAstronomy, his blog at BadAstronomy.com.

A recent post there, entitled My Mother, The Alien is rather nifty.

It’s a brief summary of an experiment done by “Frederick V. Malmstrom, a psychologist and visiting scholar at the U.S. Air Force Academy”. (That’s only in quotes because I swiped it verbatum, not because I doubt his identity.) The idea was that maybe the mental image of what we think of as aliens might be derived from vague memories of our mothers while we were infants. He took a picture of a woman (presumably a mother) and altered the photo to simulate what an infant might see. Now, I don’t know how we know what an infant might or might not see, but the image certainly is suggestive of the popular notion of an alien.

Basically, he took pictures of human women, and then ran them through a filter to distort them. The filter was based on how a baby’s eyes work, so that the resulting image would represent what a baby would see when they look at their mother. Malmstrom’s work is online

Then there’s an illustrative image set.

Now, I’m looking at the example given at Dr. Plait’s blog, but it seems to me that this particular woman might not be an unbiased example. She seems to me to have a face already leaning in the direction Dr. Malmstrom wants to go with this. To me, she already seems to have larger than normal and almond shaped eyes, and other facial features suggestive of the final product. Is she a random sample? Or mearly the best sample for purposes of illustration. At this hour of the morning, I have to be honest – I’m not interested enough to search and find out. Do your own homework.

I have no idea how rigorous the experiment was, or whatever, but it’s an interesting idea, anyway. It certainly seems more plausible than aliens crossing vast distances to skulk around cattle farms and wheat fields in England and the U.S. Exactly what possible reason would they have to fly all the way here in their warp-drive spaceships, only to make pretty pictures in the fields in the middle of the night?

Anyways, if you’re having recurring nightmares of aliens and anal probes, it’s possible you’re only remembering your Mom and her butt thermometer. Whether that’s a good thing or not is for you to deal with in the privacy of your own mind.

For fans of Stargate, I have to tell you. If you look at Thor and squint your eyes just right while standing on your head and eating cupcakes, that’s EXACTLY what my Mom looks like. (Sorry Mom! 🙂 )

Filed under: Astronomy, Biology, Education, Family, Humor, More Formal Blogs, Science, Science Links

10 Responses

  1. JanieBelle says:

    This is too funny…

    We just got a referral from this google blog search.

    I’m quite sure our visitor didn’t find exactly what (s)he was looking for.

    😉

  2. Well, tell Kate I say thanks. 🙂

    As far as the picture of the mother/alien goes, I grabbed one of several images off of the paper. I have a link on the blog entry which goes to the actual report, and there are other women’s faces there. CREEE-EEEPY. Yikes.

    And FWIW, here’s me without a hat. I am in fact hair-impaired.

  3. Hi Dr. BA!

    Your link is broken to the actual paper. We’ll try to find it by search.

    I like to think of the “hair-impaired” as men who are simply too tall for their hair.

    🙂

    Thanks for coming by, we’re both honored.

    Kate

  4. JanieBelle says:

    A little searching, and Voila.

    That’s to the paper Dr. BA cites.

    Kisses,
    JanieBelle and Kate

  5. Dr. BA has come up with an even better link, so he’s fixed it in his original post about their post, and we’ve fixed it in our original post about his post about their post.

    ex POST facto, of course! (Ok, sleepyhead fed me that line.)

  6. JanieBelle says:

    Here’s a thought.

    What if we took a bunch of people who claim to have been abducted by aliens, and asked them to draw a picture of the aliens.

    Then we ask them to provide a picture of THEIR mother and run it through the filters, as opposed to just any old young woman.

    That seems like it would make for a more solid case to me, or at least make for some interesting comparisons.

    Just a thought.

  7. Anonymous says:

    You are on your way to being a scientist. This is exactly the mindset a scientist has. “How can I test this idea” You even came up with a good idea for a test. Are you sure you won’t want to major in something technical? The best way to acquire all the science knowledge you want is to actually take classes.

    vino

  8. JanieBelle says:

    Hi vino!

    You are on your way to being a scientist. This is exactly the mindset a scientist has. “How can I test this idea” You even came up with a good idea for a test.

    Hey, after talking to Kate, and doing a bit of googling, I’m just impressed with myself that Dr. BA came to my little teeny blog and commented.

    It’s like bumping into a Rock Star on your front porch who’s there to give you an autograph.

    Only better. Dr. BA is WAY cooler than a Rock Star.

    (Yes, I’m shamelessly drooling in hopes of a second autograph, but it’s all TRUE!)

    Are you sure you won’t want to major in something technical?

    Sorry, vino, I’m a Lit girl. Science is becoming quite the little adventure for me, but unless I could hope to invent the warp drive, I’d rather keep science as a hobby, not a vocation.

    The best way to acquire all the science knowledge you want is to actually take classes.

    I intend to. But because of the difference between “in-state” and “out-of-state” tuition, my formal education will have to wait until fall of next year, when I fall into the former catagory. So much for graduating a year early. That didn’t help me at all, given my current position.

    You know, as an aside though – It’s a sad state of affairs in America today when a just-graduated-from-high-school average girl knows who Richard Hoagland is, but not Phil Plait. Told you my science teachers sucked.

    Kisses,
    JanieBelle

  9. JanieBelle says:

    Ha!

    Mom wants to know if scientists are allowed to have groupies.

    🙂

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