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."
A volcano in California is a hot spot for conspiracy theorists.
- Unusual UFO-shaped formations were observed in the skies over Mount Shasta.
- These were actually lenticular clouds that often look like lenses or flying saucers.
- This volcano peak in California has long been the subject of conspiracy theories.
Mount Shasta in California has become a nexus of conspiracy theories and unusual events. The latest viral sensation from the area has been a UFO-shaped object that appeared in the skies above the potentially active volcano peak of 14,179 feet on the morning of February 12th.
Upon closer look, this was not an alien spaceship but a beautiful lenticular cloud, the kind that is often shaped like lentils or UFOs, depending on your perspective. It was so convincing, however, that the U.S. Forest Service had to deny its extraterrestrial origins in a statement.
The flying saucer or lens shape of these clouds is caused by their development along the downwind sides of mountains. When moist and stable air goes over a mountain, oscillating waves are created. The crest of the waves causes condensation of vapor, which evaporates through the troughs, explains Weather Underground. These evaporations take the form of lenses and spaceships, looking layered.
Mount Shasta, in particular, has seen its share of lenticular cloud sightings, leading to its status as a new focal point for alien hunters much like Roswell, New Mexico. The latest UFO cloud quickly became a social media sensation, as you can see in these posts of the enigmatic formations:
View this post on InstagramAlien Sunrise #lenticularclouds #mountains #mountainviews #coolclouds #mtshasta #siskiyoucounty #siskiyou #discoversiskiyou #lenticular #whatsthiscloud
A post shared by Roxanne Coonrod (@roadshotsphotography) on Feb 12, 2020 at 12:43pm PST
View this post on Instagram#lenticularcloud#mtshasta#juniperrose#shasta#sunrise#lenticular#mushroomcloud
A post shared by Juniper Rose (@juniperroseairbnb) on Feb 12, 2020 at 7:06am PST
Mount Shasta has also seen other unusual happenings, with a mysterious side hole that appeared over 10 years ago becoming the subject of a documentary. Its sudden emergence connected with local legends about a lost continent of Lemuria supposedly hidden under the mountain. This mythical kingdom would be there along with its capital city Telos.
The first thought of the documentary filmmaker Elijah Sullivan about the giant hole was that it was from people trying to find Lemuria.
"You'll hear a lot of people talking about Lemuria, maybe even asking for directions," he told the news in 2018. "People make pilgrimages here — it's like a New Age mecca."
In 1987, the area was home to a New Age conference dubbed a "spiritual Woodstock".
It is also known to be sacred to the Native American Winnemem Wintu tribe, indigenous to this area.
If you're in the mood to check out the stunning area for yourself and see some aliens in the skies above, you can come to the nearby town of McCloud for the "Meet the Venusians — We Are in Contact" conference from August 25-30 of this year. It promises to be a "tribute to honor of all the Venusians & Pleiadean's who have taken the time to present themselves" with a schedule of speakers and events focused on healing and consciousness.
FOIA release sheds light on the DOD's own struggle to understand UFOs.
- A just-unclassified Department of Defense reading list on UFOs is stunning.
- The DOD is wondering if the truth lies in some of the most far-out theories.
- Science fiction has nothing on science fact.
The public finally had a chance in 2017 to see some of the government's tightly guarded UFO footage — never mind the sudden admission that it existed in the first place. The handful of clips that were de-classified were eye-popping, depicting flying somethings with ridiculous maneuvering capabilities, far beyond anything we'd seen in human craft. Sure, we wondered where they came from and who was driving those things, but just as urgent was a desire to wrap our heads around how they were doing the things they were doing. Apparently, the Department of Defense (DOD) was right there with us, because their recently published reading list suggests their suspicions went in some seriously sci-fi directions.
The reading list
The first page of the DOD reading list. (Full list here.)
We're seeing this list because of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request made of the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program by Steven Aftergood, director of the Federation of American Scientists' Project on Government Secrecy. It was released to Congress in January 2018.
At the top, as you can see, it's somehow both "UNCLASSIFIED" and "FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY." And, if you're not confused yet, both phrases are crossed out.
The DOD’s possible explanations for UFO behavior
What's on this reading list jumps right into the theoretical and even quasi-fictional (Star Trek's warp drive?). After all, any explanation for both the presence of UFOs and their observed behavior would have to solve two currently unanswerable riddles.
- If these are aliens, how did they successfully traverse the massive distances between Earth and, well, basically anywhere?
- How are these whatever-they-ares moving the way they do with such startling agility and speed?
The DOD seems to be looking at this question from a variety of angles, also including the effects of space travel on biological tissue, communications technologies, and energy storage. They're also wondering, apparently, if they're from space or are somehow home-grown. Also, um, weapons?
Many of the books listed appear to themselves be classified and thus unavailable to the general public. It's also worth noting that some of the publications are by NASA, which demonstrates their out-of-box thinking, too.
Where do these things come from?
The DOD has apparently revisited the Drake equation that quantifies the likelihood of intelligent alien life. But could these weird craft maybe be the product of a single brilliant earthling? Maybe. Maverick Inventor Versus Corporate Inventor is on the list.
Possible means of interstellar travel
How would alien vehicles traverse vast stretches of space? As Douglas Adams famously wrote in Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy:
"Space is big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist's, but that's just peanuts to space."
Care for some light reading on confinement fusion? How about vacuum engineering or aneutronic fusion propulsion? Positron propulsion, and negative mass propulsion? Star Trek's warp drive? Yup, and we'll throw in inter-dimensional travel, too: Warp Drive, Dark Energy, and the Manipulation of Extra Dimensions. Speaking of extra-dimensional shortcuts, how about Traversable Wormholes, Stargates, and Negative Energy? And, of course, quantum entanglement, always a party favorite.
The DOD's interests in this area have to do with a wide range of elements, from materials — Biomaterials, metamaterials, Metallic Glasses — to methods of control, such as Metallic Spintronics, and antigravity. There's also the disturbing Technological Approaches to Controlling External Devices in the Absence of Limb-Operated lnterfaces. And you know how UFOs can sometimes suddenly disappear? Sit down, Hagrid: The DOD read Invisibility Cloaking.
And then there are the observations of multiple craft doing "impossible" things. How are they all working together? You could read Cognitive Limits on Simultaneous Control of Multiple Unmanned Spacecraft before lights-out tonight if it wasn't classified.
Bang, bang, or zap, zap
We'll just say this: The DOD has lasers on its mind. There are a few publications here on high-powered lasers. Also maybe microwaves.
So, seriously what on earth?
It's unlikely that the entire DOD takes UFOs this seriously, or is so obviously well-versed in science fiction as to even consider some of these angles. Clearly, though, at least some members of the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program have spent as many hours immersed in space opera as we have. This list reveals two startling things: Science may be catching up to fiction. And maybe us nerds aren't so crazy after all.
Michio Kaku: Let’s not advertise our existence to aliens
If you believe there is intelligent extraterrestrial life out there, have you ever stopped to wonder why?
Are atheists who believe in aliens falling for one of humanity's oldest brain biases? In a series of four studies titled 'We Are Not Alone: The Meaning Motive, Religiosity, and Belief in Extraterrestrial Intelligence', psychologist Clay Routledge and his colleagues discovered that participants who report low religiosity demonstrate a greater belief in intelligent extraterrestrial life existing out there, elsewhere in the universe. This tendency is particularly interesting to science writer and skeptic Michael Shermer, because let's face it, he says, "religions have no more evidence for god than scientists have for extraterrestrials." These two beliefs are as detached from proof as each other, yet both fill the all too human need to be comforted by the thought of another world—whether takes the form of moral and kind sky gods, or technologically advanced aliens. Is a belief in intelligent extraterrestrial life just another expression of our religious impulse? Michael Shermer's new book is Heavens on Earth: The Scientific Search for the Afterlife, Immortality, and Utopia.
Peel off your tin-foil hat like a Hershey’s Kiss, because Bill Nye has a reality check for the alien conspiracy theorists out there.
Peel off your tin-foil hat like a Hershey’s Kiss, because Bill Nye has a reality check for the alien conspiracists out there. Roswell? Area 51? Vincent D'Onofrio as the roach alien in MIB? Bill Nye shoos them away, deeming each as unrealistic as the next.
Nye has some experience when it comes to classified information – not much, he admits, but a little. He once had security clearance while working as an engineer on secret government planes, and although he did not visit Area 51 himself, colleagues with one level higher security clearance than him did go, and what did they find there? Planes. Lots of people, lots of planes, and zero trace of alien life.
The origin of alien conspiracies go back to 1947, when something mysterious fell out of the sky and crashed at a ranch near Roswell, New Mexico. It spurred curiosity and panic; claims emerged that the unknown object was an extraterrestrial spaceship. The government eased people’s minds by revealing that it was nothing but a standard weather balloon that had crashed – and of course, that was a filthy lie. The intrigue was quieted until the late 1970s, when UFO enthusiasts rediscovered the story and images and amped up the interest once again, developing conspiracy theories about alien crash landings. There was no closure until the 1990s, when the US military published reports disclosing what really happened in Roswell: it was an experimental US government spy balloon that had crashed, part of Project Mogul, an attempt to listen out for Soviet murmurs of nuclear testing.
It has been thoroughly investigated and officially debunked, but seeing as the government lied once, the heat on the theory has never really died in the hearts of passionate conspiracy theorists.
But Nye does not believe the government is concealing aliens from us for an even simpler reason: as we can see from the daily political scandals in the media, it is so hard for the government to keep anything a secret.
But he’s not quick to dismiss alien life, and is excited at the prospect of traces being discovered in the next 50 or 100 years, under the icy layers of Mars, or on Jupiter’s intriguing moon Europa. whether that’s a sizeable organism or a mere cell, or fossil.
So there's no reason to narrow your eyes at the government when you ponder alien life. Then again, it’s possible Bill Nye’s body was commandeered by the government using alien technology for the duration of this interview. Or maybe Nye is an alien. And he hangs out with Tupac and Elvis drinking green slime mojitos in a secret ET spa club way out in desert Nevada.
Bill Nye's most recent book is Unstoppable: Harnessing Science to Change the World.