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A Description of an Alien Visit in the Buddhist Lotus Sutra

by Capers Jones 

The Buddhist scripture called Saddharma Pundarika or the Lotus of the True Law was first written circa 300 A.D. (Note that the word “Sutra” means “scripture.”)   The exact date of the original Sanscrit version from India is not known with certainty, but the first Chinese translation was made sometime between 265 and 315 A.D.  Buddha himself was born in 563 BC, so the Lotus Sutra was obviously written by Buddhist monks around eight centuries after his death.

 

The English language version cited here was translated by H. Kern and originally published in 1884 by the Clarendon Press.  This same translation was republished by Dover Books in 1963 in unabridged form and is the source of this paper.

As background before proceeding, Buddhist cosmology is surprisingly modern.  Buddhism recognizes the existence of millions of other worlds and casually asserts that they are inhabited.  Indeed, each inhabited world is stated to have a Buddha of its own.  (The word “Buddha” means an enlightened being.  In Buddhist teachings, anyone is theoretically capable of becoming a Buddha, although actually accomplishing this goal is rare.)  One Buddhist scripture mentions in passing that on earth sermons are given with words, but on other worlds sermons may be given with light or with scents or by other non-verbal means.

aether_galaxy

Another modern aspect of Buddhist cosmology is the recognition that the universe has existed for many millions of years.  Time in Buddhist cosmology is measured in terms of “kalpas.”  A kalpa is figuratively defined as the amount of time it would take to wear away a mile-high mountain if a bird landed on it and sharpened its beak once every thousand years.

Kalpa is a Sanskrit word  meaning an aeon, or a relatively long period of time (by human calculation) in Hindu and Buddhist cosmology. The concept is first mentioned in the Mahabharata. The definition of a kalpa equaling 4.32 billion years is found in the Puranas (specifically Vishnu Purana and Bhagavata Purana). 

Buddhist cosmology also overlaps modern quantum theory, in that the Buddhists think that the void or emptiness is the source of both material objects and energy.  As in quantum theory, particles can flash into existence from the void.  The fact that material objects are constructed from millions of small particles is also part of Buddhist teaching.  A central teaching of Buddhist philosophy is that all objects composed of such particles are fated to decay.  This entropy or decay applies to living creatures, material objects, and the universe itself.  Since Buddhist cosmology dates back prior to 525 BC, it is interesting that there are so many similarities between Buddhist cosmology and modern cosmology.

Incidentally at about the time the Lotus Sutra was being written, the famous University of Nalanda was being created in Northern India.  Nalanda was the first university to teach astronomy and cosmology, as well as teaching mathematics. 

NalandaUniversity

Although Nalanda was a Buddhist university, it was surprisingly eclectic and attracted students of other religions and students from many Asian countries.  For example, translations from Sanscrit into Chinese carried out at the University of Nalanda preserved many valuable scientific documents whose originals were later destroyed during the Muslim invasions of the 11th century.

Nalanda2

In the Lotus Sutra the beginning of each chapter provides some context of where the specific sermon was supposedly given when Buddha spoke.  The names of the major disciples who attended are supplied as well.

 

Chapter 23 of the Lotus Sutra is entitled “Gadgadasvara” and begins on page 393 of the Dover edition.  Because the original 1884 translation uses many Indian names and very long titles (such as a distant world called “Vairokanarasmipratimandita.”) I will paraphrase the section that deals with a visit by an alien from another world.

In Chapter 23, when the terrestrial Buddha was about to give a sermon, he darted a flash of light from a circle between his brows.  This flash of light was seen on other worlds, including the one with the very long name cited in the previous paragraph.

BuddhaRemoteViewing

On this other world the resident Buddha (who also has a very long name) perceived the ray of light from earth.   One of his students, named Gadgadasvara, also sees the ray of light and realized what it meant, i.e. that the Buddha on this world was about to give an important sermon.

The student asks his master for permission to visit earth and listen to the sermon of Sakyamuni, the terrestrial Buddha.  Permission is granted, but the master gives Gadgadasvara some interesting cautions about what to expect on earth:

“On coming to earth you must not conceive a low opinion of it.  The earthly Buddha Lord Sakyamuni will seem small compared to you, as are his disciples.   He looks different from us and he and his followers will seem to be ugly, so do not behave rudely.  The earth itself has parts that are ugly like sewers, so do not form a low opinion of it.”

(It is rather surprising that a Buddhist religious text would describe the historical Buddha as being “small and ugly.”   In fact as a young man the historical Buddha was described by many eye witnesses as being athletic and comely.  Even at an advanced age Buddha was described as having good posture and a face that reflected wisdom, a benevolent nature, and peacefulness.  Of course from the point of view of an alien, it is hard to say what the surface appearance of a human would look like.)

At this point in chapter 23, Gadgadasvara enters a deep meditation and then appears psychically on earth before Sakyamuni and his students.  One of the earthly students, Manjusri, asks about this mental appearance.  Sakyamuni replies that the visitor is a student from another world.

Manjusri asks if he can learn the same kind of meditation used to travel between worlds.  Manjusri also asks if Gadgadasvara can come in person, because he wants to see what he looks like.

Gadgadasvara agrees, and comes to earth in physical form “accompanied by the noise of hundreds of thousands of musical instruments.”  He arrived by moving through the sky on a “large tower.”  Once he arrived, his appearance on earth was described as follows: 

“His face showed eyes resembling blue lotuses, his body was gold colored…and sparkled with a luster.”

Upon arrival Gadgadasvara has a curious but polite conversation with Sakyamuni.  He inquires about this world and about terrestrial students.  Gadgadasvara expresses hope that earthly students are not too troublesome or too difficult to instruct.  This is an interesting conversation because it deals casually with the topic that every inhabited world will have students and teachers and that the students on some worlds may be easier to teach than students on other worlds.

Sakyamuni asks Gadgadasvara to show the earthly students his true shape and body which he does.  But Sakyamuni also points out that Gadgadasvara has the ability to assume many different forms and to take on many other appearances if he wishes to do so.

Gadgadasvara listens to Sakyamuni’s sermon, and then gives a polite “goodbye” to the terrestrial Buddha and returns to his own world:

“he again mounted the tower and with the noise of hundreds of thousands of musical instruments he returned to his own world.”

This brief discussion of an alien visitor in chapter 23 is the only spot in the sutra that deals with interplanetary travel.   The purpose of the discussion appears to be to indicate that Buddhist principles and teachings are valid on all inhabited worlds.  No doubt the discussion in chapter 23 is allegorical rather than describing an actual event.  It is easy to dismiss the account as fiction, but it does contain seven interesting aspects:

  1. The existence of many other inhabited worlds is casually accepted.
  2. Both psychic and physical travel between worlds is casually accepted.
  3. Forms of communication other than words are casually accepted.
  4. Visiting aliens can apparently assume human shapes if desired.
  5. A surprising alien motive for visiting earth is to learn and share knowledge.
  6. Human beings and the earth are described as being ugly to aliens.
  7. At least some aliens visiting earth are cautioned not to be rude to humans.

Considering that the Lotus Sutra was written around the 3rd century AD and the English translation was made in 1884, the concept of interstellar travel is surprisingly matter of fact.  It is stated explicitly in the chapter that extra-terrestrials can travel between worlds and that visits to earth are not uncommon.  Somewhat more surprising is the concept that instantaneous mental communication between enlightened beings on many worlds is possible and indeed a common activity.  This is surprisingly similar to the idea of “entanglement” from physics, or instantaneous communication between widely separated particles.

It is also interesting that chapter 23 of the Lotus Sutra states explicitly that contacts between humans and non-human aliens can be in the form of polite discussions and scholarly exchanges of information.

It is intriguing that the historical Buddha was not at all surprised by an alien visit, and rather casually explained to his followers what was taking place.  The inference is that Buddha’s on various planets are aware of one another.

Since most of the literature dealing with alien contacts tacitly assumes superior wisdom on the part of the aliens, it is also interesting that chapter 23 describes a visit by an alien specifically to listen to a sermon by a human teacher.

In conclusion, chapter 23 of the Lotus Sutra does not contain ambiguous discussions that have to be twisted and distorted to reflect some form of alien contact.  Chapter 23 asserts specifically that interplanetary travel and contacts between humans and aliens actually occur.  Further, the same chapter asserts that such contacts can be benign and cause no harm to either terrestrial or extraterrestrial participants.

September 3, 2013

Copyright 2013 Capers Jones

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Aliens & UFO's

Is Stephen Hawking right about aliens?

Stephen Hawking thinks that making contact with aliens would be a very bad idea indeed. But with new, massive telescopes, we humans are stepping up the search. Have we really thought this through?

In February 2008, Nasa sent the Beatles song, Across the Universe, across the universe. Pointing the telescopes in its Deep Space Network towards the north star, Polaris, astronomers played out their short cosmic DJ set, hoping that it might be heard by intelligent aliens during its 430-year journey to the star.

The hunt for intelligent species outside Earth may be a staple of literature and film – but it is happening in real life, too. Nasa probes are on the lookout for planets outside our solar system, and astronomers are carefully listening for any messages being beamed through space. How awe-inspiring it would be to get confirmation that we are not alone in the universe, to finally speak to an alien race. Wouldn’t it?

Well no, according to the eminent physicist Stephen Hawking. “If aliens visit us, the outcome would be much as when Columbus landed in America, which didn’t turn out well for the Native Americans,” Hawking has said in a forthcoming documentary made for the Discovery Channel. He argues that, instead of trying to find and communicate with life in the cosmos, humans would be better off doing everything they can to avoid contact.

Hawking believes that, based on the sheer number of planets that scientists know must exist, we are not the only life-form in the universe. There are, after all, billions and billions of stars in our galaxy alone, with, it is reasonable to expect, an even greater number of planets orbiting them. And it is not unreasonable to expect some of that alien life to be intelligent, and capable of interstellar communication. So, when someone with Hawking’s knowledge of the universe advises against contact, it’s worth listening, isn’t it?

Seth Shostak, a senior astronomer at the Seti Institute in California, the world’s leading organisation searching for telltale alien signals, is not so sure. “This is an unwarranted fear,” Shostak says. “If their interest in our planet is for something valuable that our planet has to offer, there’s no particular reason to worry about them now. If they’re interested in resources, they have ways of finding rocky planets that don’t depend on whether we broadcast or not. They could have found us a billion years ago.”

If we were really worried about shouting in the stellar jungle, Shostak says, the first thing to do would be to shut down the BBC, NBC, CBS and the radars at all airports. Those broadcasts have been streaming into space for years – the oldest is already more than 80 light years from Earth – so it is already too late to stop passing aliens watching every episode of Big Brother or What Katie and Peter Did Next.

The biggest and most active hunt for life outside Earth started in 1960, when Frank Drake pointed the Green Bank radio telescope in West Virginia towards the star Tau Ceti. He was looking for anomalous radio signals that could have been sent by intelligent life. Eventually, his idea turned into Seti (standing for Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence), which used the downtime on radar telescopes around the world to scour the sky for any signals. For 50 years, however, the sky has been silent.

There are lots of practical problems involved in hunting for aliens, of course, chief among them being distance. If our nearest neighbours were life-forms on the (fictional) forest moon of Endor, 1,000 light years away, it would take a millennium for us to receive any message they might send. If the Endorians were watching us, the light reaching them from Earth at this very moment would show them our planet as it was 1,000 years ago; in Europe that means lots of fighting between knights around castles and, in north America, small bands of natives living on the great plains. It is not a timescale that allows for quick banter – and, anyway, they might not be communicating in our direction.

The lack of a signal from ET has not, however, prevented astronomers and biologists (not to mention film-makers) coming up with a whole range of ideas about what aliens might be like. In the early days of Seti, astronomers focused on the search for planets like ours – the idea being that, since the only biology we know about is our own, we might as well assume aliens are going to be something like us. But there’s no reason why that should be true. You don’t even need to step off the Earth to find life that is radically different from our common experience of it.

“Extremophiles” are species that can survive in places that would quickly kill humans and other “normal” life-forms. These single-celled creatures have been found in boiling hot vents of water thrusting through the ocean floor, or at temperatures well below the freezing point of water. The front ends of some creatures that live near deep-sea vents are 200C warmer than their back ends.

“In our naive and parochial way, we have named these things extremophiles, which shows prejudice – we’re normal, everything else is extreme,” says Ian Stewart, a mathematician at Warwick University and author of What Does A Martian Look Like? “From the point of view of a creature that lives in boiling water, we’re extreme because we live in much milder temperatures. We’re at least as extreme compared to them as they are compared to us.”

On Earth, life exists in water and on land but, on a giant gas planet, for example, it might exist high in the atmosphere, trapping nutrients from the air swirling around it. And given that aliens may be so out of our experience, guessing motives and intentions if they ever got in touch seems beyond the realm’s even of Hawking’s mind.

Paul Davies, an astrophysicist at Arizona State University and chair of Seti’s post-detection taskforce, argues that alien brains, with their different architecture, would interpret information very differently from ours. What we think of as beautiful or friendly might come across as violent to them, or vice versa. “Lots of people think that because they would be so wise and knowledgeable, they would be peaceful,” adds Stewart. “I don’t think you can assume that. I don’t think you can put human views on to them; that’s a dangerous way of thinking. Aliens are alien. If they exist at all, we cannot assume they’re like us.”

Answers to some of these conundrums will begin to emerge in the next few decades. The researchers at the forefront of the work are astrobiologists, working in an area that has steadily marched in from the fringes of science thanks to the improvements in technology available to explore space.

Scientists discovered the first few extrasolar planets in the early 1990s and, ever since, the numbers have shot up. Today, scientists know of 443 planets orbiting around more than 350 stars. Most are gas giants in the mould of Jupiter, the smallest being Gliese 581, which has a mass of 1.9 Earths. In 2009, Nasa launched the Kepler satellite, a probe specifically designed to look for Earth-like planets.

Future generations of ground-based telescopes, such as the proposed European Extremely Large Telescope (with a 30m main mirror), could be operational by 2030, and would be powerful enough to image the atmospheres of faraway planets, looking for chemical signatures that could indicate life. The Seti Institute also, finally, has a serious piece of kit under construction: the Allen Array (funded by a $11.5m/£7.5m donation from Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen) has, at present, 42 radio antennae, each six metres in diameter, but there are plans, if the Seti Institute can raise another $35m, to have up to 300 radio dishes.

In all the years that Seti has been running, it has managed to look carefully at less than 1,000 star systems. With the full Allen Array, they could look at 1,000 star systems in a couple of years.

Shostak is confident that, as telescope technology keeps improving, Seti will find an ET signal within the next two decades. “We will have looked at another million star systems in two dozen years. If this is going to work, it will work soon.”

And what happens if and when we detect a signal? “My strenuous advice will be that the coordinates of the transmitting entity should be kept confidential, until the world community has had a chance to evaluate what it’s dealing with,” Davies told the Guardian recently. “We don’t want anybody just turning a radio telescope on the sky and sending their own messages to the source.”

But his colleague, Shostak, says we should have no such concerns. “You’ll have told the astronomical community – that’s thousands of people. Are you going to ask them all not to tell anybody where you’re pointing your antenna? There’s no way you could do that.

“And anyway, why wouldn’t you tell them where [the alien lifeform] is? Are you afraid people will broadcast their own message? They might do that but, remember, The Gong Show has already been broadcast for years.” And, for that matter, the Beatles.

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Aliens & UFO's

The Truth about Those “Alien Alloys” in The New York Times UFO Story

Is the government really stockpiling materials in a Nevada building that scientists cannot identify?

What to make of a Las Vegas building full of unidentified alloys?

The New York Times published a stunning story (Dec. 16) revealing that the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) had, between 2007 and 2012, funded a $22 million program for investigating UFOs. The story included three revelations that were tailored to blow readers’ minds:

1. Many high-ranking people in the federal government believe aliens have visited planet Earth.

2. Military pilots have recorded videos of UFOs with capabilities that seem to outstrip all known human aircraft, changing direction and accelerating in ways no fighter jet or helicopter could ever accomplish.

3. In a group of buildings in Las Vegas, the government stockpiles alloys and other materials believed to be associated with UFOs.

Points one and two are weird, but not all that compelling on their own: The world already knew that plenty of smart folks believe in alien visitors, and that pilots sometimes encounter strange phenomena in the upper atmosphere – phenomena explained by entities other than space aliens, such as a weather balloon, a rocket launch or even a solar eruption.

Point No. 3, though – those buildings full of alloys and other materials – that’s a little harder to hand wave away. Is there really a DOD cache full of materials from out of this world?

One of the authors of the Times report, Ralph Blumenthal, had this to say on MSNBC about the alloys: “They have, as we reported in the paper, some material from these objects that is being studied so that scientists can find what accounts for their amazing properties, this technology of these objects, whatever they are.” When asked what the materials were, Blumenthal responded, “They don’t know. They’re studying it, but it’s some kind of compound that they don’t recognize.”

Here’s the thing, though: The chemists and metallurgists Live Science spoke to – experts in identifying unusual alloys – don’t buy it.

“I don’t think it’s plausible that there’s any alloys that we can’t identify,” Richard Sachleben, a retired chemist and member of the American Chemical Society’s panel of experts, told Live Science. “My opinion? That’s quite impossible.”

Alloys are mixtures of different kinds of elemental metals. They’re very common – in fact, Sachleben said, they’re more common on Earth than pure elemental metals are – and very well understood. Brass is an alloy. So is steel. Even most naturally occurring gold on Earth is an alloy made up of elemental gold mixed with other metals, like silver or copper. [8 Important Elements You’ve Never Heard Of]

“There are databases of all known phases [of metal], including alloys,” May Nyman, a professor in the Oregon State University Department of Chemistry, told Live Science. Those databases include straightforward techniques for identifying metal alloys.

If an unknown alloy appeared, Nyman said it would be relatively simple to figure out what it was made of.

For crystalline alloys – those in which the mixture of atoms forms an ordered structure – researchers use a technique called X-ray diffraction, Nyman said.

“The X-ray’s wavelength is about the same size as the distance between the atoms [of crystalline alloys],” Nyman said, “so that means when the X-rays go into a well-ordered material, they diffract [change shape and intensity] – and from that diffraction [pattern] you can get information that tells you the distance between the atoms, what the atoms are, and how well-ordered the atoms are. It tells you all about the arrangement of your atoms.”

With noncrystalline, amorphous alloys, the process is a bit different, but not by much.

“These are all very standard techniques in research labs, so if we had such mysterious metals, you could take it to any university where research is done, and they could tell you what are the elements and something about the crystalline phase within a few hours,” Nyman said.

Sachleben agreed.

“There are no alloys that are sitting in some warehouse that we cannot figure out what they are. In fact, it’s pretty simple, and any reasonably good metallurgical grad student can do it for you,” he said.

Nyman said that if metals did fall from some mysterious aircraft, some forensics experiments would quickly answer a lot of questions about that aircraft. [UFO Mysteries: These Sightings Have Never Been Solved]

“How has the hunk of metal changed?” Nyman said. “From my scientist’s perspective, that’s the kind of question I’d be asking. Maybe, if it has to do with world politics, and we want to know where the metal comes from, maybe there’s some analysis that can lead you to where it was mined, or what country uses that particular alloy, that kind of thing.”

If the aircraft had come from space, Nyman said, that travel would leave telltale signs in the metal as well, in the form of spacefaring debris and ionization (changes to the electrical charges of the substance’s atoms).

Even if a chunk of alloy that hadn’t been seen before did fall to Earth from outer space, both Nyman and Sachleben agreed that it wouldn’t necessarily have come from an alien craft. In fact, Sachleben said, alloys strike the planet regularly – space-traversing alloys like those found in fairly common nickel-iron meteorites – leaving behind telltale signs. The meteor that wiped out the dinosaurs was even identified by the rare-Earth metals it left behind in certain geological formations in Earth’s crust.

It’s important to point out that while Blumenthal did go on cable news and say the alloys were unidentifiable mysteries, helping to spur speculation, that’s not what his article actually stated. Here’s the full quote from Saturday’s piece:

“The company [involved in the DOD research] modified buildings in Las Vegas for the storage of metal alloys and other materials that … program contractors said had been recovered from unidentified aerial phenomena. Researchers also studied people who said they had experienced physical effects from encounters with the objects and examined them for any physiological changes. In addition, researchers spoke to military service members who had reported sightings of strange aircraft.”

From this statement, there’s no actual sign that there’s anything unusual about the alloys themselves. All the Times wrote was that the DOD researchers tasked with finding weird UFO stuff collected some metal, interviewed some people who had claimed startling experiences with it, and decided that it was UFO-related.

In an email to Live Science regarding these metal alloys, Blumenthal said, “We printed as much as we were able to verify. Can’t go beyond that.”

As for whether there’s an explanation at least for the metals themselves, Sachleben said: “There’s not as many mysteries in science as people like to think. It’s not like we know everything – we don’t know everything. But most things we know enough about to know what we don’t know.”

Source www.scientificamerican.com


Also published on Medium.

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Aliens & UFO's

Astronaut Buzz Aldrin Passes Lie Detector Test About Alien Encounter

Aldrin reportedly passed the lie detector test during his recollection of his close encounter with alien life during the 1969 Apollo 11 mission to the moon.  

He was part of the test that also analyzed interviews from astronauts Al Worden, Edgar Mitchell and Gordon Cooper.

Experts said their results prove they were ‘completely convinced’ that their claims of alien life were genuine.

Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin has reportedly passed a lie detector test after recalling his apparent encounter with alien life during the historic 1969 mission to the moon.

Aldrin, 88, was a part of the test that also analyzed interviews from astronauts Al Worden, Edgar Mitchell and Gordon Cooper.

Recorded interviews of the astronauts were tested using the latest technology at the Institute of BioAcoustic Biology in Albany, Ohio.

Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin (right) has reportedly passed a lie detector test after recalling his apparent encounter with alien life during the 1969 mission to the moon. Pictured are Neil Armstrong (left) and Michael Collins (center)

Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin (right) has reportedly passed a lie detector test after recalling his apparent encounter with alien life during the 1969 mission to the moon. Pictured are Neil Armstrong (left) and Michael Collins (center)

Aldrin (pictured on the moon), 88, participated in the test along with astronauts Al Worden, Edgar Mitchell and Gordon Cooper

Aldrin pictured in February 2018

Aldrin (left on the moon and right in 2018), 88, participated in the test along with astronauts Al Worden, Edgar Mitchell and Gordon Cooper

Experts claim their results prove they were ‘completely convinced’ that their claims of aliens were genuine, according to the Daily Star.

Aldrin has always maintained he spotted a UFO on the way to the moon.

‘There was something out there that was close enough to be observed, sort of L-shaped,’ Aldrin, who is the second human to set foot on the moon, recalled.

The Institute of BioAcoustic Biology conducted an analysis of the astronauts’ voice patterns as they spoke about their encounters.

BioAcoustic’s Sharry Edwards told the Daily Star that their tests revealed Aldrin is sure he saw the UFO even though his logical mind ‘cannot explain it’.

Last year, Apollo 15 pilot Al Worden, 86, told Good Morning Britain that he saw extra-terrestrials during his mission.

Cooper (pictured) had previously described trying to chase a cluster of objects

In a 2009 interview, Mitchell (pictured), who was a part of the Apollo 14 mission, claimed he saw multiple UFOs

Last year, Apollo 15 pilot Al Worden (pictured), 86, said he saw aliens during his mission

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The Institute of BioAcoustic Biology conducted an analysis of the astronauts’ voice patterns as they spoke about their encounters. Last year, Apollo 15 pilot Al Worden (right), 86, said he saw aliens during his mission. Pictured are Edgar Mitchell (center) and Gordon Cooper (left)

Experts claim their results prove they were 'completely convinced' that signs of alien life they claimed to have witnessed were genuine. Al Worden is pictured (center) next to astronauts David Scott (left) and James Irwin (right)

Experts claim their results prove they were ‘completely convinced’ that signs of alien life they claimed to have witnessed were genuine. Al Worden is pictured (center) next to astronauts David Scott (left) and James Irwin (right)

Voice recordings of NASA astronauts Edgar Mitchell and Gordon Cooper, who are both deceased, were also analyzed.

In a 2009 interview, Mitchell, who was a part of the Apollo 14 mission, claimed he saw multiple UFOs.

Cooper had previously described trying to chase a cluster of objects.

According to the Daily Star, the tests revealed that Cooper and Mitchell believed they were telling the truth.

The technology is still top-secret, but it has been claimed that these tests are more reliable than current lie detector tests.

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