Best Science Fiction (Or Is It?) About Phoenix 2012 | The 33rd Parallel | People & Places

Best Science Fiction (Or Is It?) About Phoenix

The 33rd Parallel

You don't have to be a believer, a Freemason, or even well-versed in ancient cultures to get swept up in the multi-layered history and archeo-astronomy surrounding the 33rd parallel north latitude. According to legend, Phoenix, which sits at a latitude of 33 degrees and 43 minutes, lies within the influence of the "dragon energy" of this imaginary line around the Earth. In this theory, a "researcher" named Gary A. David chronicles the numerous civilizations all over the world that sit along the parallel. From the Hohokams to the ancient city of Babylon, David believes the 33rd parallel cities demonstrate the mysterious and pervasive connections between Masonic lore, UFOs, and, yes, our own Valley of the Sun.

Within just one degree of the parallel and in the Phoenix metro area, David points to at least a half-dozen historical landmarks and happenings (including the ruins of the astronomical observatory called Casa Grande, the 1997 UFO sighting of the "Phoenix Lights," and the Cirlestone solstice and equinox sun-watch station in the Superstition Mountains) which he says show ancient peoples' attempts to channel the power of the "terrestrial chi." The number and location also hold significance for the Church of Scientology, which developed out of the Hubbard Association of Scientologists, founded right here in Phoenix in 1954. Recently, Scientologist poster boy Tom Cruise has drawn media attention for his "rule of 33" and apparent inclination to divorce his wives (three in total now) at age 33. Other theories point to the imbalanced distribution of wealth: Major financial centers such as London, New York, Chicago, and Switzerland all lie above the 33rd parallel, although the majority of the world's population lives below the line. One theorist notes the large number of death row prisons that sit on or near the "Global Mystery Circle" — including the Arizona Department of Corrections maximum-security prison in Florence. The number is significant in the Bible, some say it holds the key to John F. Kennedy's assassination, and, lucky us, we live in the middle of it all.

Within the walls of a building near the Scottsdale Air Park, Max More, CEO of ALCOR Life Extension Foundation, keeps a watchful eye over his "patients." Here, about 100 bodies or body parts (namely, heads) sit in liquid nitrogen and wait for the time when they're brought back to life.

ALCOR (which stands for Allopathic Cryogenic Rescue) specializes in cryonics, the science of preserving bodies at sub-zero temperatures for eventual reanimation, possibly centuries from now. The Scottsdale facility currently has 70 "neuros" (or heads, including that of baseball great Ted Williams) and 42 whole bodies on ice, ranging from 21 to 101 years old at the time of preservation. The process of preserving patients is relatively straightforward — More and his team collect a patient's body after he or she is legally pronounced dead, technicians remove body fluids and replace them with medical-grade antifreeze, and then they load the bodies, or heads, into large, stainless steel containers called dewers, where they'll remain for the foreseeable future. The cost of extended life isn't cheap — membership runs around $200,000 for full-body preservation and $80,000 for the preservation of a head — but More is a staunch believer. "I've always been interested in life extension," More says. "I don't believe in an afterlife, and if there is an afterlife, it's infinite, so why are we in such a rush to get there?" See a slideshow here.

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