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U.S. to disclose UFO findings from Pentagon task force
A new report from The New York Times describes a Pentagon task force's long-standing project to collect data on unidentified aerial phenomena and a Pentagon consultant who says the U.S. has collected crashed "off-world vehicles."
- Since 2007, a Pentagon task force has been collecting data on unidentified aerial phenomenon.
- Earlier this year, the Pentagon published three videos showing encounters between Navy pilots and strange-moving flying objects.
- The former head of the Pentagon task force believes U.S. officials have collected artifacts from crashed aircraft.
In April, the Pentagon released three videos taken by Navy pilots showing unidentified flying objects. Government officials didn't say the videos depicted alien spacecraft, nor did they say the objects were novel aircraft sent from a foreign nation. In short, the message was simply: nobody knows.
But the government wants to find out.
According to a recent Senate committee report, the Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon Task Force at the Office of Naval Intelligence will "standardize collection and reporting on unidentified aerial phenomenon" and disclose some of its findings to the public within 180 days of issuing reports.
This once-covert task force has, under multiple names, been studying "unidentified aerial phenomena" since at least 2007, according to a recent New York Times report. Defense Department officials had told the Times that the task force had run out of funding in 2012. But the Times later spoke to people involved with the program who said it had never stopped studying unexplained aerial phenomena.
The Senate report frames unidentified aerial phenomena as a potential threat to national security. Senator Marco Rubio told the Times that the U.S. needs to study these sightings in case a foreign nation, like China or Russia, has made "some technological leap" that "allows them to conduct this sort of activity."
So, what might the task force disclose? Maybe not much more than what the government has already revealed. For example, the Pentagon videos from April (which The New York Times had first published in 2017 and 2018) show what some American pilots have called "Tic Tac" UFOs — fast, ovular aircraft that don't fly like anything currently on the market.
"What we saw exceeded anything that we had in our inventory, far superior to the airplanes that we were flying in; at the time they were brand new," David Fravor, a retired Navy pilot who said he encountered a Tic Tac UFO, told Fox News.
But interestingly, the new Times report describes how the former head of the Pentagon UFO task force, Luis Elizondo, is "among a small group of former government officials and scientists with security clearances who, without presenting physical proof, say they are convinced that objects of undetermined origin have crashed on earth with materials retrieved for study."
The report also mentions Eric W. Davis, an astrophysicist at Aerospace Corporation who's worked as a consultant for the Pentagon UFO program since 2007, and who's authored multiple papers on theoretical advanced propulsion systems for the Air Force Research Laboratory. Davis said he's briefed Defense Department officials as recently as March on "off-world vehicles not made on this earth."
Leslie Kean, who co-bylines these NYT stories, has made a career of researching UFOs. She's also written a book abo… https://t.co/LXn6qBUVVe— Dan Zak (@Dan Zak)1595556822.0
It's hard to know what to make of such extraordinary claims. After all, unlike the Tic Tac videos, there's no physical evidence suggesting the U.S. government has collected crashed aircraft. What's more, it's worth noting that in the public conversation about aliens or the supernatural, there have always been people with big claims but little (or zero) evidence to back them up. (Of course, if physical evidence did exist, it'd almost surely be classified.)
But what's clear is that the U.S. government is becoming more transparent about the strange objects that have been appearing in American skies and over the Atlantic Ocean. That's good news for UFO enthusiasts. Yet the scientific community doesn't seem interested at all.
In an interview with Vox, political scientist Alexander Wendt described a "taboo" against scientists studying UFOs.
"...even though the Navy is now saying, 'Hey, we've got UFOs on film, here they are,' the scientists are still not going to study them," Wendt said. "So there seems to be something blocking the scientific community from engaging this phenomenon, even though anything else even remotely this interesting would generate limitless research dollars."
Wanted: A Science of UFOs | Alexander Wendt | TEDxColumbus
Still, after Wendt gave a TEDx talk on the need for scientific study on UFOs, he said he received many emails from individual scientists saying: "Thank you, we wish we could study this, but we can't because our lives depend on getting grants from the government and other research institutes, and if anybody gets worried that we're interested in UFOs, boom, they won't get a cent and their careers will be in the tank."
Could this taboo set back efforts to bolster national security? After all, these recent reports are coming from the same people in charge of protecting U.S. airspace, and they're reporting objects that not only exceed modern technological capabilities, but also seem to defy our modern understanding of physics. If scientists react to these reports with the same eye-rolling that they'd give to tin-foil-hat conspiracy theorists, that seems like a problem.As Senator Rubio told the Times, there might be a "completely, sort of, boring explanation" for the sightings, "but we need to find out."
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An open letter predicts that a massive wall of rock is about to plunge into Barry Arm Fjord in Alaska.
- A remote area visited by tourists and cruises, and home to fishing villages, is about to be visited by a devastating tsunami.
- A wall of rock exposed by a receding glacier is about crash into the waters below.
- Glaciers hold such areas together — and when they're gone, bad stuff can be left behind.
The Barry Glacier gives its name to Alaska's Barry Arm Fjord, and a new open letter forecasts trouble ahead.
Thanks to global warming, the glacier has been retreating, so far removing two-thirds of its support for a steep mile-long slope, or scarp, containing perhaps 500 million cubic meters of material. (Think the Hoover Dam times several hundred.) The slope has been moving slowly since 1957, but scientists say it's become an avalanche waiting to happen, maybe within the next year, and likely within 20. When it does come crashing down into the fjord, it could set in motion a frightening tsunami overwhelming the fjord's normally peaceful waters .
The Barry Arm Fjord
Camping on the fjord's Black Sand Beach
Image source: Matt Zimmerman
The Barry Arm Fjord is a stretch of water between the Harriman Fjord and the Port Wills Fjord, located at the northwest corner of the well-known Prince William Sound. It's a beautiful area, home to a few hundred people supporting the local fishing industry, and it's also a popular destination for tourists — its Black Sand Beach is one of Alaska's most scenic — and cruise ships.
Not Alaska’s first watery rodeo, but likely the biggest
Image source: whrc.org
There have been at least two similar events in the state's recent history, though not on such a massive scale. On July 9, 1958, an earthquake nearby caused 40 million cubic yards of rock to suddenly slide 2,000 feet down into Lituya Bay, producing a tsunami whose peak waves reportedly reached 1,720 feet in height. By the time the wall of water reached the mouth of the bay, it was still 75 feet high. At Taan Fjord in 2015, a landslide caused a tsunami that crested at 600 feet. Both of these events thankfully occurred in sparsely populated areas, so few fatalities occurred.
The Barry Arm event will be larger than either of these by far.
"This is an enormous slope — the mass that could fail weighs over a billion tonnes," said geologist Dave Petley, speaking to Earther. "The internal structure of that rock mass, which will determine whether it collapses, is very complex. At the moment we don't know enough about it to be able to forecast its future behavior."
Outside of Alaska, on the west coast of Greenland, a landslide-produced tsunami towered 300 feet high, obliterating a fishing village in its path.
What the letter predicts for Barry Arm Fjord
Moving slowly at first...
Image source: whrc.org
"The effects would be especially severe near where the landslide enters the water at the head of Barry Arm. Additionally, areas of shallow water, or low-lying land near the shore, would be in danger even further from the source. A minor failure may not produce significant impacts beyond the inner parts of the fiord, while a complete failure could be destructive throughout Barry Arm, Harriman Fiord, and parts of Port Wells. Our initial results show complex impacts further from the landslide than Barry Arm, with over 30 foot waves in some distant bays, including Whittier."
The discovery of the impeding landslide began with an observation by the sister of geologist Hig Higman of Ground Truth, an organization in Seldovia, Alaska. Artist Valisa Higman was vacationing in the area and sent her brother some photos of worrying fractures she noticed in the slope, taken while she was on a boat cruising the fjord.
Higman confirmed his sister's hunch via available satellite imagery and, digging deeper, found that between 2009 and 2015 the slope had moved 600 feet downhill, leaving a prominent scar.
Ohio State's Chunli Dai unearthed a connection between the movement and the receding of the Barry Glacier. Comparison of the Barry Arm slope with other similar areas, combined with computer modeling of the possible resulting tsunamis, led to the publication of the group's letter.
While the full group of signatories from 14 organizations and institutions has only been working on the situation for a month, the implications were immediately clear. The signers include experts from Ohio State University, the University of Southern California, and the Anchorage and Fairbanks campuses of the University of Alaska.
Once informed of the open letter's contents, the Alaska's Department of Natural Resources immediately released a warning that "an increasingly likely landslide could generate a wave with devastating effects on fishermen and recreationalists."
How do you prepare for something like this?
Image source: whrc.org
The obvious question is what can be done to prepare for the landslide and tsunami? For one thing, there's more to understand about the upcoming event, and the researchers lay out their plan in the letter:
"To inform and refine hazard mitigation efforts, we would like to pursue several lines of investigation: Detect changes in the slope that might forewarn of a landslide, better understand what could trigger a landslide, and refine tsunami model projections. By mapping the landslide and nearby terrain, both above and below sea level, we can more accurately determine the basic physical dimensions of the landslide. This can be paired with GPS and seismic measurements made over time to see how the slope responds to changes in the glacier and to events like rainstorms and earthquakes. Field and satellite data can support near-real time hazard monitoring, while computer models of landslide and tsunami scenarios can help identify specific places that are most at risk."
In the letter, the authors reached out to those living in and visiting the area, asking, "What specific questions are most important to you?" and "What could be done to reduce the danger to people who want to visit or work in Barry Arm?" They also invited locals to let them know about any changes, including even small rock-falls and landslides.
What makes some people more likely to shiver than others?
Eating veggies is good for you. Now we can stop debating how much we should eat.
- A massive new study confirms that five servings of fruit and veggies a day can lower the risk of death.
- The maximum benefit is found at two servings of fruit and three of veggies—anything more offers no extra benefit according to the researchers.
- Not all fruits and veggies are equal. Leafy greens are better for you than starchy corn and potatoes.