Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Those Old Ones were gone now, inside the earth and under the sea.

The Cold War has a lot to answer for.

Don't get me wrong. The fallout from the United States and the USSR eyeballing each other with suspicion, like a pair of hobo's who come across a crisp five pound note on the ground, was always going to be huge. While neither side could quite get around to nuking the other one off the face of the planet in over 50 years of conflict, the battle of the superpowers (Gee Note: It sounds like it was promoted by Don King doesn't it? "In the red corner, the Soviet Submission machine, the mauler from Moscow…") has left it's mark on the world in more ways than one.

As with everything in life, there are pluses and minuses to this. On the minus side, according to some historians Osama Bin Laden's deep seated hatred of America can be directly linked to an American funded proxy war between Afghanistan and Russia. The Senator McCarthy witch hunts of the 1950's are rightly seen in most quarters as one of the darkest and disturbing era's in modern American history. And due to the cloak and dagger approach used by both countries, countless men and women gave their lives for what was believed to be the greater good. Sadly due to national security reasons these sacrifices have never truly been acknowledged.

There are, however, a couple of relatively good things to come out of The Cold War. The space race for example. Driven by a "can you top this" mentality between the U.S.A and the USSR, it was responsible for both massive leaps in the evolution of technology and a man named Neil Alden Armstrong walking on the moon. And it should never, ever, be understated what a remarkable achievement that was. In one single event the very best bits of human nature, bravery, fortitude, genius, were on display for the entire World to see. If nothing else man walking on the moon shows how good we can be, despite it being born from us at our worst.

Also without The Cold War Alan Moore would have had no reason to write Watchmen, which single handed revolutionised the entire genre of comic books. Goodnight and Good luck, one of my favourite movies of the past couple of years, wouldn't exist. And we would have lost the experience of listening to Sean Connery' s half Glaswegian half Moscow accent in The Hunt For The Red October (Gee Note: Seriously it knocks spots off his "Egyptian" accent in Highlander).

But most importantly as far as this blog is concerned, without The Cold War we wouldn't have discovered "Bloop".

At some point during the late 1950's America became very aware that the Red Menace had a vast fleet of submarines. Now, as any fool will know, the problem with submarines is that they travel underwater, making it dashed difficult to see the things before they sneak up and blow you to kingdom come. To combat this a bunch of boffins got together and created SOSUS, short hand for sound surveillance system. Setting up a series of microphones in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans they were able to track any approaching water based vehicles.

Eventually The Cold War came to an end and as the American defence budget grew the technology became redundant and unnecessary. And then, in a moment that I can only describe as “brilliant” some wonderful soul made the decision to give the microphones to a bunch of scientists to use (Gee Note: Seriously, I've been trying to find out who actually made that call for the past five hours. So far I've come up with nothing. Which is a shame because I think whoever it was deserves a statue raised in their honour).

Anyway, these microphones proved to be exceedingly useful for all types of things, like tracking whale migrations, or learning more about the mating habits of dolphins.

Or discovering bloody great big sea monsters.

Because on several occasions in 1997 two separate SOSUS installations 3000 miles apart picked up this sound. (Gee Note: I hear... Marlon Brando after an all night session of margaritas and prostitutes? No? Really? Awww man, I suck at this game). Now to the untrained ear it sounds like a combination of a very grumpy frog and a very large bee. But apparently to the trained ear it sounds like a marine animal. A very very large marine animal.

The largest animal that has ever known to have existed is our very own Blue Whale. Weighing in at 190 tonnes they can reach up to 110 ft in length and can eat up to 8000 lbs of krill a day. In short these things are just plain massive. However, not even a Blue Whale can make a sound loud enough to be heard 3000 miles away.

In fact nothing can. At least not in the animal world. And pretty much almost every scientist agrees that this is most definitely an animal.

Various theories have been put forward as to what "Bloop" could actually be. A common suggestion is that it's a massive form of Octopii or Squid. After all no one really knows how big the Colossal Squid can grow to, with current estimates being based on immature specimens rather than the almost impossible to find fully grown adults.

Which kind of makes sense. Except that for an animal to make this type of sound they would have to big enough to make the Blue Whale look like a Red Snapper. And even though I'm willing to bet that estimates of Colossal Squid's may be slightly on the conservative side, for them to be a good five times larger than is currently thought may be pushing it a bit. Also cephalopods have no gas filled sac, meaning the only real sound they make is created by movement through the ocean waters and not by the animal themselves. Bottom line is, squids don't roar.

So if it's not a really big squid then what the deuces could it be?

Well, remember the story of The Michigan Dogman? The beast that didn't exist until someone wrote a prank song about it?

Well what if Steve Cook was beaten to the punch by a chap named Howard Phillips Lovecraft over 60 years previously?

For those of you not familiar with H.P. Lovecraft, he is pretty much considered to be the father of horror fiction. Basically every writer that has turned their hand to the genre from Stephen King to Matt Jones carry the influence of Lovecraft on their sleeves (Gee Note: To the point where the movie “Cloverfield” was basically Lovecraft for the Youtube generation). His writing was cynical, claustrophobic and beyond dark.

Lovecraft's most famous creation is a giant evil alien called Cthulhu. This demonic beast of unbelievably massive scale was trapped under the sea in a sunken city known as R'lyeh, the coordinates of which were given by Lovecraft as 47º9'S, 126º43'W. Bloop was believed to have emanated from “somewhere around 50º S 100º W”.

Or to put it another way:

Spooky no?

And so in conclusion, whatever Bloop is or was, I'm more convinced of it being a fictional alien demi-god than I am a large squid. Which isn't to say that I believe that alien demi-god's are splashing about the Pacific willy nilly (Gee Note: I mean, imagine the size of the bathing suit). But the truth is that Bloop is something that's “legitimate” in the sense that it's bona fide scientists who discovered it. And it really does defy explanation. So as it stands any theory is as good as the last one.

Unless of course Cthulhu really is on his way. Because if that's the case then I suggest you look busy.


Naveed said...

Well, being an avid fan of Lovecraft, I have to say that just maybe all his stories are based on reality and is just disguised as fiction. After all, the Bible was supposedly written by God through man, so why couldn't Lovecraft's stories be written by Cthulhu through Lovecraft. Plus when it all comes down to it, that really sounds like some gigantic thing snoring under water.

Oh and ironically enough I've been reading "At the Mountains of Madness" for about the last week.

Kait said...

This makes me never want to
go in the ocean again, or near it.
Which is hard when you live in
"The Ocean State."

I never got into Lovecraft, but I
have been to his grave. My great gram is buried in the same cemetery.

Gee said...

Naveed: You just reminded me I used to have a copy of "At the Mountains" in an anthology somewhere, but lost it when moving house one time. I really need to get myself another copy. And Cthulhu was known to generate the odd cult or two so, you know, it could happen. :)

Kait: You'll have to take me to Lovecraft's grave one day. But only if you promise to go in to the ocean again :)

Naveed said...

Actually Cthulhu/Lovecraft has generated a few small real cults. Sadly they amount to nothing more then a couple groups of guys dressing funny and ripping off Satanism.