Thursday, December 21, 2017

About those "Glowing Auras" in the Pentagon Infrared UFO Videos

Following up on the media's DeLonge Overload we wrote about three days ago, there is a lot to report. 

The program collected video and audio recordings of reported U.F.O. incidents, including footage from a Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet showing an aircraft surrounded by some kind of glowing aura traveling at high speed and rotating as it moves (emphasis added).
This struck me as a monumentally stupid thing to say, especially since a "glowing aura" was also visible in the "Groundbreaking" Chilean Helicopter Infrared video released by the "experts" in the Chilean government UFO investigations, that Leslie Kean (one of the authors of the current New York Times article) promoted so eagerly. (In that case, the "aura" was called an "envelope".) That video has conclusively been shown to depict a distant jet aircraft whose position had been misjudged.
An image from the "Groundbreaking" Chilean UFO video promoted by Leslie Kean in January 2017, later shown conclusively to be a distant jet aircraft. Kean's Chilean "expert" labeled the object's "envelope" (envoltura).
An infrared photo of John Lester Miller
I figured that these "auras" were almost certainly some kind of image processing artifact, a possibility that seems not to have occurred to the Pentagon "experts." So I consulted John Lester Miller of Cascade Electro Optics, the guy who literally "wrote the book" on Infrared Imaging. He had helped me investigate the Infrared UFOs that turned up in a video over the Bay of Campeche, Mexico in 2004, which turned out to be distant flares from burning oil wells. When I asked Miller what those "auras" might be, he replied,  

I know exactly what the glowing aura is a common image processing artifact called "ringing"....Frankly, I'm surprised the ATFLIR has it, we worked hard at [my previous company] to mitigate/eliminate this artifact.  When in "white Hot" you will see that the aura around it is dark, and when in Black hot, it is brighter than the background.  This is the image processing algorithm compensating for the large signal on neighboring pixels where the signal is not there, the algorithm doesn't know the shape of the object, and over-processes the neighboring pixels.  Very common when an object (like jet engines) are images over a cold background (like high altitude clouds).
So when various UFO "experts" talk about a "glowing aura" surrounding the objects, they are in fact admitting, "We don't know anything about infrared imaging, and we did not consult with anyone who does."

Miller says that the objects are likely distant jet aircraft, but we can't see them clearly enough to be sure. Which is itself an interesting question - why is the quality of these videos so terrible?
What perplexes me  (and is telling) is why all these IR UFO videos have such lousy quality.  Modern IR images look like Hi Def black and white TV.   All of these are out of focus, need uniformity correction and generally are crap.  We should be able to make out a shape and even count the engines, or see landing gear if deployed. A sales guy would never show a prospective customer anything like these.
Very good observations, indeed! Why are there no good, clear infrared images of UFOs, in sharp focus?

One of the two Infrared videos recently released by the Pentagon is labeled by DeLonge as the "Gimbal video."  He writes that "The filename “GIMBAL” seems to be traceable to the unusual maneuvering of the UAP," thereby proving that he has no idea whatsoever what he is talking about. Miller explains that "Gimbal is just a generic term for any electo-optical system (infrared, visible or laser) that has a two dimensional pointing mechanism."

In the days since that New York Times story burst on the scene, attention is starting to turn to the following puzzling lines in that story:
Contracts obtained by The Times show a congressional appropriation of just under $22 million beginning in late 2008 through 2011. The money was used for management of the program, research and assessments of the threat posed by the objects.

The funding went to Mr. Bigelow’s company, Bigelow Aerospace, which hired subcontractors and solicited research for the program.

Under Mr. Bigelow’s direction, the company modified buildings in Las Vegas for the storage of metal alloys and other materials that Mr. Elizondo and program contractors said had been recovered from unidentified aerial phenomena. 

Bigelow's company modified buildings in Las Vegas for the storage of artifacts gathered from UFOs? That does not seem to be possible, but that is exactly what the Times story says. How many tons of alleged UFO artifacts must Bigelow have to need to modify buildings to store it?

Speaking of alleged UFO artifacts in Las Vegas,  I wrote in my Psychic Vibrations column (Skeptical Inquirer), January/February, 2013, concerning a UFO discussion panel held at the The National Atomic Testing Museum in Las Vegas. They had a special exhibit on "Area 51."
During the question and answer session, Las Vegas skeptic John Whiteside asked about the supposed “authentic alien artifact” in the Area 51 exhibit. The moderator referred the question to reporter George Knapp, in the audience, who (scandalously) was the source of that “artifact.” Knapp has made a career out of reporting on weird stuff like alleged saucers at Area 51, Robert Bigelow’s Haunted Ranch in Utah, etc. Who had verified that supposed artifact? The Russians, and others. Who exactly? No answer. The moderator encouraged the two to take the discussion off-line afterwards. Immediately after the close of the questions, Whiteside says he was approached by Jim Brown who identified himself as the Acting Director of the Museum. Brown berated him for asking such a question, claiming that it threatened their funding. If a Museum’s funding is threatened by asking a legitimate question, the fault lies not with the questioner, but with the Museum. Whiteside went looking for Knapp after this, no more than five minutes later, to find that he had quietly slipped out the door.
I'm thinking it's very likely that this was one of the same "UFO artifacts" that Bigelow had. If so, one would scarcely need to modify any buildings to house it.

Lee Speigel's photo of the supposed "Authentic Alien Artifact" in the Area 51 exhibit of theNational Atomic Testing Museum in Las Vegas.

Following up on my comments in the previous posting that MUFON board members apparently did not know that Bigelow was in essence funneling federal dollars to them (lord knows that Bigelow has enough spare dollars of his own), the following has come to light. In 2011 former MUFON director James Carrion wrote,

Mr. Bigelow did not fund MUFON’s work for BAASS, instead “sponsors” that Bigelow revealed to John Schuessler but not to the other MUFON Board Members put up the money.
We can now conclude quite definitely that the unnamed "sponsor" was in fact the federal government. Carrion also wrote,

John Schuessler, MUFON Board Member and former International Director was offered a U.S. government security clearance allegedly related to his consulting work for Mr. Bigelow. Now whether John was actually given that clearance, I can’t say for sure, but I was one of the people interviewed as part of his background investigation.
From which we can reasonably conclude that John Schuessler did know that MUFON was receiving federal funding through Bigelow, but other MUFON officials did not.

Monday, December 18, 2017

DeLonge Overload - And a Secret Federal UFO Investigations Program!

So much exciting stuff to write about, I scarcely know where to begin. I will assume that by now, everyone here has read or heard about the recent big UFO story in the New York Times. If not, here are the links for you to read about this:

This "UFO disclosure" is what Tom DeLonge has been promising for some time, and it looks like he has finally delivered something, although apparently it falls far short of what some people were expecting. DeLonge says that three UFO videos have been released, but he shows us only two. You can see them here on his website, along with his commentary.
GIMBAL video
2004 Nimitz FLIR1 video

I won't make any detailed comments about these videos yet, as many people are now looking into them very carefully, and we should know a lot more soon. I will write about them as soon as some definitive information is available. Over on Metabunk, Mick West makes a good case that these images show distant jets. In fact, they seem quite similar to the "Groundbreaking UFO video" that Leslie Kean (one of the authors of the New York Times UFO article) obtained from Chile's UFO investigations group early this year, quite conclusively shown to have been a distant jet aircraft whose position had been misjudged.

An image from the "Groundbreaking" Chilean UFO video promoted by Leslie Kean in January 2017, later shown conclusively to be a distant jet aircraft. Kean's Chilean "expert" labeled the object's "envelope" (envoltura). According to the New York Times story, the objects in the newly-released UFO videos are surrounded by a "Glowing aura"!

The most surprising "revelation" to me was that almost $22 million in federal funds were (reportedly)  secretly spent in investigating UFOs. According to the New York Times story,
The shadowy program — parts of it remain classified — began in 2007, and initially it was largely funded at the request of Harry Reid, the Nevada Democrat who was the Senate majority leader at the time and who has long had an interest in space phenomena. Most of the money went to an aerospace research company run by a billionaire entrepreneur and longtime friend of Mr. Reid’s, Robert Bigelow, who is currently working with NASA to produce expandable craft for humans to use in space...
Contracts obtained by The Times show a congressional appropriation of just under $22 million beginning in late 2008 through 2011. The money was used for management of the program, research and assessments of the threat posed by the objects.

The funding went to Mr. Bigelow’s company, Bigelow Aerospace, which hired subcontractors and solicited research for the program. [emphasis added]

Bigelow Aerospace received  almost $22 million in federal funds to study UFOs? What happened to this money?? How was it spent?

Bigelow Aerospace "hired subcontractors"??? WHO were these subcontractors, and what research did they produce? Contracts invariably have specifications of work and deliverables. What deliverables were produced? Now that the UFO program is no longer classified, the public has a right to see whatever reports and analyses it has produced using taxpayer money.

Bigelow received his initial federal UFO funds in late 2008, and the one obvious (in hindsight) use of them was (ironically) the contract he signed with MUFON in February, 2009 to fund their "STAR Team Rapid Response UFO Investigation Unit." 
The STAR Team Impact Project (SIP) was a MUFON program funded in part by Bigelow Aerospace Advanced Space Studies (BAASS) where MUFON was subcontracted to provide information from the CMS data base (website) and witness reports related to the Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP) directly to BAASS.

MUFON had a contract with BAASS (per the terms of the contract agreement) MUFON provided data from sighting reports that were submitted to MUFON CMS website in exchange for BAASS paying funds directly to MUFON each month. This Contract was sometimes referred to as a Purchase Agreement (purchase of information) and the project was referred to as the SIP Project (STAR Team Impact Project).

Part of this money was used to directly fund the STAR TEAM, which consisted of paid investigators who would be deployed to investigate the most compelling cases and a dispatch operation that would work continuous shifts to monitor the activity of the cases coming into the CMS website.
Unfortunately, Bigelow's deal with MUFON quickly turned sour. According to Richard Lang, who was the manager of the STAR Team, the deal soon got tangled up in financial controversy and audits, and was terminated in January, 2010. He says that MUFON only received about $324,000 total from Bigelow, a small fraction of the money Bigelow received from the federal government.

So far as I am aware (and I talk to a lot of MUFON people), none of them were aware that Bigelow was in essence passing federal funding onto them. In fact, I am sure that some of them will be upset that Bigelow was, in essence, making them unknowingly participate in a federally-funded investigation.

Data on the Federal Elections Committee website shows that Bigelow was a campaign contributor to Harry Reid.

That "Searchlight Leadership Fund" is also tied to Harry Reid, and there have been accusations of corrupt practises concerning it. In fact, accusations of corruption have long dogged Reid, who was the leader of the Democratic Party in the U.S. Senate. In 2016 Reid made the "surprise announcement" he was retiring from the Senate, in the wake of a  2015 Department of Homeland Security’s Inspector General’s report, which found that 
 Reid pressured a compliant DHS official to override normal departmental procedures and rush through 230 EB-5 foreign visa applications, thereby freeing up $115 million the applicants invested in the SLS Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. The report did not, however, reveal the now confirmed fact that the owner of that casino project had hired Reid’s son, Rory Reid, to provide legal representation for the project.

It seems very implausible that it would be possible for Bigelow to spend over $21 million in analyzing two (or maybe three) videos of purported UFOs. How was this money spent?

DeLonge may think that he has opened up a locked box to let secrets out and sunshine in. But in fact, he has just opened a giant Can of Worms.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Socorro Again: Did Zamora Simply Make the Whole Thing Up?

In the previous posting, we talked about all of the new controversies swirling around the "classic" 1964 sighting of an alleged landed UFO by Patrolman Lonnie Zamora in Socorro, New Mexico. Was it a student hoax from the adjacent New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology? Was it the landing of a propane hot air balloon? A piece of space hardware being tested? Extraterrestrials?

The issue is that there are serious problems with all proposed explanations for what Zamora reportedly saw, prosaic or otherwise. The big problem is that Officer Chavez reportedly arrived at the site just three minutes after the sighting, and both of them were soon walking in the area where the object reportedly set down, leaving marks. Whatever craft reportedly landed there sure disappeared quickly.

Lonnie Zamora

Problems with Student Hoax Theory: How exactly did they pull it off, presumably using a balloon? How did they get rid of the balloon so quickly? For that matter, how did they disappear themselves from Zamora's sight so quickly? It would have to be like a magician's disappearing act. Also, serious attempts to investigate the student hoax theory have turned up plausible rumors and implications, but so far no solid and demonstrable facts.

Problems with a Propane Hot Air Balloon: Again, the main problems is having the balloon disappear so quickly. Some investigators claim that a balloon would have to move against the wind to move as Zamora recounted.

Problems with a Test of Space Hardware (Lunar Surveyor, or Lunar Excursion Module): Could not arrive and depart so quickly. The tests of the Lunar Surveyor were carried out towing the vehicle below a helicopter, which would surely have been visible and obvious. The LEM was reportedly tested near Socorro, but not until at least a year after the Zamora incident.

Problems with an Extraterrestrial Craft. Again, we have the problem of simply too little time for a device of any construction to blast itself away completely out of sight in a short time, while leaving behind very little disturbance or evidence of its departure - IF it is following the laws of physics.

To examine that question, we need to refer back to a "classic" 1967 peer-reviewed UFO article in Science [157, 1274] by astronomer Dr. William Markowitz, "Physics and Metaphysics of Unidentified Flying Objects." I wrote about it in some length in 2012  when discussing "Is Interstellar Travel "Preposterous"? Markowitz' article was obviously intended as a reply from the astronomical community to Hynek's letter published in Science the previous year, arguing that UFOs were worthy of scientific study [154, 329, 1966]. Markowitz cites some obvious inconsistencies in Hynek's statements about UFOs.

What Zamora reportedly saw.
Markowitz writes,
First I consider the physics of UFO’s when the laws of physics are obeyed. After that I consider the case where the laws of physics are not obeyed. The specific question to be studied is whether UFO’s are under extraterrestrial control... If an extraterrestrial spacecraft is to land nondestructively and then lift off, it must be able to develop a thrust slightly less than its weight on landing… if nuclear energy is used to generate thrust, then searing of the ground at 85,000 deg C should result, and nuclear decay production equivalent in quantity to those produced by an atomic bomb should be detected. This has not happened. Hence, the published reports of landing and lift-offs of UFO’s are not reports of spacecraft controlled by extraterrestrial beings, if the laws of physics are valid.

We can reconcile UFO reports with extraterrestrial control by assigning various magic properties to extraterrestrial beings. These include ‘teleportation’ (the instantaneous movement of material bodies between planets and stars), the creation of ‘force-fields’ to drive space ships, and propulsion without reaction. The last of these would permit a man to lift himself by his bootstraps. Anyone who wishes is free to accept such magic properties, but I cannot.

Longtime UFO author and Roswell investigator Kevin Randle wrote a very surprising Blog entry on December 9 titled "Lonnie Zamora as the Hoaxster" (sic). What makes this surprising is that Randle had just published a book a few weeks earlier titled  Encounter in the Desert: The Case for Alien Contact at Socorro. Randle appears to have gone from "Zamora saw aliens" to "Zamora probably just made it all up" in about sixty seconds. He wrote,
According to what we know, no one else saw the landed craft. No one else saw it lift off and disappear in seconds. No one else saw the little beings near the craft. All of this came from Zamora and if he wasn’t telling the truth about it, well, then, the hoax becomes easier to accept. Just assume that he hadn’t really seen all these things, and some of the arguments about the alien nature of the craft and its capabilities are no longer relevant. The whole thing becomes much simpler to explain in terrestrial terms...
Although many rejected the idea that Zamora had created the hoax on his own for some unknown reason, the Zamora hoax explanation is by far the simplest. It eliminates the need for a balloon either hot air or helium filled, it eliminates the need for other participants to create the illusion of something landing there, and it explains the lack of physical evidence that the hoax scenario should have left behind. If Zamora had done it, he just needed his shovel and a tape measure. Then he called the station to make his report and request that Chavez come out to meet with him. This also explains why none of those other people who said they had seen something ever came forward. All the rest of it, from the alien creatures, the banging of the hatch, the red symbol… all of it was so much window dressing created by Zamora.
And while that theory is applauded for its simplicity, it fails when other facts are figured into it. We can begin with the three telephone calls into the police station...I like this idea, that Zamora hoaxed it by himself because of the simplicity of it. However, when we add in other factors, all the factors, it seems that the theory is flawed. Hector Quintanilla suggested the solution for the case would probably be found in Zamora’s head, and had he hoaxed the thing, then Quintanilla had it right. But Zamora never suggested to anyone that he had made up the story, his friends and his actions that night seem to argue against hoax, and there is no real motivation for him to have created the hoax that included the landing site.
So while Randle goes a long way towards the theory that Zamora just made it all up, he doesn't quite go all the way down that path.
Hynek and Klass at the 1984 CSICOP Conference, at Stanford. They were not always buddy-buddies!
(Photo by Gary Posner).

One important point not previously noted is a comment about Socorro made by Blue Book scientific Consultant Dr. J. Allen Hynek. In a letter to arch-skeptic Philip J. Klass dated 23 January 1967, Hynek writes:
No matter what we say about the Zamora case, it is still, because of its one-witness character, a low-order case. It is a [Sigma]5 C4 case in my classification system: taken at face value the report has a high strangeness index, but a low credibility rating primarily because I do not go above 5 in my scale of 1 to 9 if there is only one witness. (p. 102 of the Socorro case documents scanned by Paul Dean,  emphasis added)
Note that Hynek judged the credibility of the Zamora case to be just 4 on a scale from 1 to 9. So to those who cite Zamora's reported 1964 sighting at Socorro as among the 'best ever,' we remind them that Hynek, who investigated the incident in depth, in person and on site, called it "a low-order case."

Friday, December 1, 2017

Socorro 'Student Hoax' Tempest in a Pentagon Teapot (or something)

Well, the iconic 1964 reported sighting of a landed object with two occupants by Patrolman Lonnie Zamora in Socorro, New Mexico is certainly back in the news! Veteran UFOlogist Kevin Randle has written a new book about the case, and former Roswell Slides promoter Anthony Bragalia claims to have finally proven his earlier suggestion that Zamora was the victim of a hoax perpetrated by students at the nearby New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology (NMIMT).

Randle's new book is Encounter in the Desert: The Case for Alien Contact at Socorro. I confess I have not yet read it, so I won't comment on it. "Mrherr Zaar" commented on the Facebook group UFO_Pragmatism,
"I submit it does not present a single argument FOR [alien contact] at all. It is ultimately an exercise in explanatory nihilism which merely assumes that if something is unidentified that takes one “very close” to it immediately being extraterrestrial. (p. 249) He does not address any of the obvious problems. Zamora does not report seeing aliens – “Saw two people in white coveralls very close to the object. One of these persons seemed to turn and look straight at my car and seemed startled--seemed to jump quickly somewhat… I don't recall noting any particular shape or possibly any hats, or headgear. These persons appeared normal in shape--but possibly they were small adults or large kids.” Implicitly they are not wearing spacesuits or air supply face masks or protective gear like dozens of other ufo humanoid reports in the early decades. They seem okay with breathing our atmosphere. They don’t seem to be grays or reptoids or insectoids or a more distinctly alien shape."
As noted in my 2012 Blog entry A Socorro Student Hoax Confirmed?,  Bragalia was arguing that the incident was a student hoax perpetrated on Zamora, who the students did not like because he was a buzz-killer for their hijinks. On November 27, Bragalia published his latest piece on the incident (Link and commentary at

The newest wrinkle in Bragalia's tale is this:
This author has found and spoken to an involved perpetrator of the Socorro UFO hoax, a student at New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology in 1964. Using resources and clues obtained over years, the identification was not easy. There were many missed opportunities, embarrassing moments, and awkward calls.

There is also major disappointment over what was not shared and what cannot be shared. I cannot tell you with 100% assurance exactly how the hoax was performed (I was not told, but I will make a good attempt later in this piece). And I am unable, due to the requested anonymity, to tell you the names of involved people. But what I did learn is perhaps equally as important, just as enlightening.

The individual did not reach out to me – I contacted him by phone. Retired and in his 70s, he is a man of accomplishment. Though he never denied being a perpetrator, he also does not want his name associated with the event. How many of us would want to recount our youthful follies to our children? Who amongst us would wish our names on the net, revisiting embarrassing moments during our late teens or early twenties? Where are those of us who will come forward to publicly explain our tricks and lies from college?
And that is where it sits. If we believe that Mr. Perp replied truthfully to Bragalia, and that Bragalia correctly reported it to us, then we have something that resembles a confession. Except that we don't know who is making the supposed "confession," or exactly what he is confessing to. So, Believe it or Not.

In support of his "student hoax" claim, Bragalia provided the following photo, with the caption "The Small Figures in White Coveralls, New Mexico Tech Physics Department in the Mid-1960s." 

Definitely NOT from New Mexico Tech!
However, French skeptic Giles Fernandez pointed out that he had discovered several years earlier that this photo actually shows physics students from UC Davis visiting Intel, and suiting up in special 'clean room' suits, designed to prevent contamination of silicon wafers used in the manufacture of integrated circuits. It has nothing to do with Socorro or NMIMT. When this was pointed out to Bragalia, he blamed the error on his Webmaster, and said that the caption was being changed to "The Small Figures in White Coveralls, Similar to New Mexico Tech Physics Department in the Mid-1960s" (emphasis added). Why tech students in 1964 would be wearing suits similar to those used in contemporary Clean Rooms, designed to filter out the tiniest submicroscopic particles, was not explained. Or maybe he simply meant that the students had white overalls, like plumbers and handymen sometimes wear. How incredible would that be?

Arguments in favor of the "student hoax" explanation
  • The late Stirling Colgate, physicist and former President of NMIMT, said in a letter to Linus Pauling that he knew the Socorro UFO incident to be a student hoax. When questioned by Bragalia about this, Colgate reportedly acknowledged the hoax, but was evasive and refused to give any details or to discuss the matter further. 
  •  Dr. Frank Etscorn, New Mexico Tech administrator and behavioral psychologist, reportedly affirms the event to be a hoax. One of his graduate students reportedly investigated and solved the "mystery" of what happened, and who was involved. Unfortunately, further details are not available.
  • In a long 1965 letter to Dr. J. Allen Hynek (who investigated the Zamora incident in person shortly after it occurred), noted UFO skeptic Dr. Donald Menzel and his co-author Lyle Boyd wrote
    "We come back to the speeding car, which started the whole business. We certainly would like to know more about this. You have made it clear that Zamora was a gruff type, who enjoyed giving out tickets. It seems entirely reasonable that he might have antagonized some of the local teenagers, who devised a hoax to get even. This explanation, I might add, independently occurred to both Lyle and myself. The whole thing could easily have been planned to come off about as it did. The car came into his line of sight from a side road. Which side road? Could it have been from the direction of the flame and roar? Apparently Zamora thought he knew the occupant of the speeding car (Vivian Reynolds?) Was this driver ever found and questioned as to what he heard or saw? Did Zamora have a regular patrol route so that his approximate whereabouts would be known at a given time?
    In other words, we see as the most likely possibility that someone planned the whole business to "get" Zamora."(p. 142 in case documents scanned by Paul Dean).
    One interesting thing that doesn't seem to have been discussed is the existence of an "aircraft graveyard" belonging to NMIMT quite near the site of the incident. The UFO investigative group Ground Saucer Watch (GSW) of Arizona wrote up "Socorro - New Mexico Revisited," published in the UFORA Newsletter, July-August, 1982 (p. 131 in the same scanned documents). They wrote,

    As the investigators were leaving the actual site, they noticed an area approximately 1 3/4 miles away, which gleamed in the sunlight. Extracting binoculars from their vehicle, they viewed what appeared to be an abandoned aircraft junkyard. Later, they discovered that the aircraft were part of the property of a local technical school - New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology. This information was obtained from a clerk who works for the City Court system. He warned the researchers not to enter the storage area, because two men were recently convicted of breaking into this property. GSW's team became curious and decided a closer look at the area was warranted. They traveled on a road through the technical school's campus and came upon a barrier.
    Walking some distance away from the road they found a point at which the contents of the storage area could be viewed. To their amazement, the area contained a large variety of both segmented and intact aircraft. There appeared to be some Navy and Marine jet fighters, some Bell "X" aircraft and a nose section of a large ballistic missile.
    GSW determined that the property did indeed belong to NMIMT. They contacted C. B. Moore, professor of atmospherics, and a man who plays a significant role in UFO history quite independent of this, primarily because of his connection with Project Mogul. Moore told them that the junked aircraft were part of the Terminal Effects Program, which began in 1947, with most of the aircraft arriving during the 1950s. Moore replied to GSW that he had investigated the Zamora incident on his own, "and can assure you that there is little probability that it had anything to do with students or the Institute. If we can believe Officer Zamora (and there is no reason except for the strangeness of the observation that we should not), then it appears that he saw a Lunar Landing Module (LEM) but his observation was at least 12 months before the module was first tested here." A very strange comment, indeed!

    I am not suggesting that the aircraft graveyard necessarily played any part in this incident, but it is a damn peculiar thing to discover so close to a possibly aerospace-related incident. Might the scattered aircraft and missile parts have been used to create a hoax saucer? Might the area have afforded hoaxers a place to operate, and to hide?
Arguments against the "student hoax" explanation
  • How did the students make the balloon disappear so quickly?
  • How did the two students in white overalls make themselves disappear, especially since Zamora and Officer Chavez were walking the site of the alleged landing just a few minutes later? This would seem to require something like a magician's disappearing act.
  • Dave Thomas, founder of the skeptical organization New Mexicans for Science and Reason,  is a NMIMT graduate. To look into the possibility of a hoax originating with NMIMT students, he set up an internal website available only to those who are students, employees, or alumni of NMIMT. Its purpose was to allow people to tell what, if anything, they knew about the 1964 Zamora incident. While a few people expressed the opinion that it was a student hoax, there was no specific or useful information obtained from anyone. This strongly suggests that no 'student hoax' existed. 
Thomas has suggested an interesting possibility of what Zamora may have seen. According to documents obtained from the White Sands Missile Range, "on April 24, 1964, there were special tests being conducted at the north end of the White Sands Missile Range (WSMR) involving a helicopter used to carry a Lunar Surveyor around for some tests... Surveyor was a three-legged, unmanned probe, which was used to learn about the moon before the Apollo program got there....The Surveyor tests were done with a small Bell helicopter that supported the craft from its side... The tests missions were manned by a helicopter pilot and a Hughes engineer - two persons, in white coveralls." Not only does the time of day of this planned test (morning) not match Zamora's sighting (which occurred just before 6 PM), but this is a long way from Socorro, about 80 miles as the helicopter flies. Still, as Thomas notes, "things don't always go "according to plan," and many tests which have defied completion by morning have been known to somehow get finished up in the afternoon." The possibility of the Surveyor testing cannot be ruled out.

What do I think Zamora saw?
A brand new way to fly in 1963
In 1996, engineer Eugene Robinson of Indiana University suggested that what Zamora saw was an early version of a propane-powered hot air balloon.  This  explanation has been largely ignored by UFOlogists. It was not even mentioned by Randle in his Socorro book. When asked why, he replied that it was a "non-starter." I'm not so sure about that.

The propane hot air balloon is a familiar sight today, but back in the mid 1960s it was quite new, as this article in Popular Mechanics (published just one year before the Socorro incident) shows.
"As of this writing, two of these new balloons have been sold and a third is on order... Raven is coming out with a new, larger model with an old-fashioned wicker basket that can carry two men standing up. Price tag: $5000." 
Popular Mechanics, April 1963.

The propane burners on such a balloon make a loud "woosh," as Zamora described hearing. It seems quite likely he may have seen an experimental two-man propane hot air balloon briefly land, then take off again. In fact, that suggestion seems to best match the details Zamora reported. Might this two-man balloon be what Zamora saw?

Some of Robinson's comments on the incident:
  • The reported flame colors (blue and orange) agree with the propane flame used by hot-air balloons.
  • Zamora never saw the full shape clearly. He lost his glasses before it rose enough.
  • He never saw the platform. It was behind terrain, then he lost his glasses.
  • The dust Zamora saw here could have come from the burner blast.
  • The envelope went straight up as it lifted and centered over the platform.
  • The envelope remained in this position until it had enough lift to raise the platform off the ground.
  • Once the platform lifted off the ground, the wind moved the balloon horizontally.
Given all these conflicting yet plausible explanations, it is difficult to say for sure what Zamora saw. Unless someone can explain convincingly exactly how the supposed "student hoax" was carried out, I will assume that the unexpected landing of a newfangled propane hot-air balloon is the most likely explanation for this classic UFO incident.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Tom DeLonge, Serial Deleter

By now you probably have heard all about rocker Tom DeLonge, formerly of Blink 182, and his long-promised "UFO announcement" on October 11 that turned out to be nothing more than a fund-raising scheme to provide income for him and his colleagues, with whatever money that might be left "invested" in wacky pseudo-scientific research, like a faster-than light spaceship.
Tom DeLonge (from Wikimedia Commons)

Now that a few weeks have passed since that famous announcement, we are getting a clearer picture of DeLonge, and his venture (which has now raised almost $2 million from "investors", who are perhaps better called "suckers.") For one thing, he is a Serial Deleter on social media. Meaning, that he carelessly posts stupid stuff, that he soon has to delete after the embarrassment of having it quickly shot down.

The first such deletion I became aware of was a supposed photo of Bigfoot that DeLonge posted on Instagram in August of 2016, with the comment "taken yesterday by a friend of a friend" (making this a FOAF story, probably the least-credible category of urban folklore). It was quickly pointed out that this was in fact an old picture that had been kicked around on Reddit about a year earlier. DeLonge deleted the supposed Bigfoot photo. Apparently somebody told him this FOAF story, and he did not question it at all.

Then on October 30, almost three weeks after the Grand Announcement, DeLonge posted this illustration to his Facebook page, with the comment "Looks like we may be adding a notable Aerospace Revolutionary to our leadership team at ToTheStars... Stay tuned, and check out"

Here Tom DeLonge is clearly suggesting that Robert Bigelow may be joining his organization. Bigelow is the founder of Bigelow Aerospace, a company making valuable progress in an effort to create inexpensive inflatable space modules. Bigelow is also well-known as a staunch believer in extraterrestrial UFOs. The app Tin Eye quickly confirmed that this illustration does indeed depict a module from Bigelow Aerospace. In less than a day, Delonge deleted the posting.  I suspect that Bigelow called up DeLonge and said something like, "You fool, I didn't say that!"

Most recently, DeLonge posted to Facebook several very fake-looking photos depicting supposed triangle-shaped UFOs (triangle UFOs have been very trendy of late). I especially liked the one that showed a triangle UFO behind a jet aircraft and its contrails. Very quickly the Italian skeptic Scott Brando pointed out that several of these photos were stills from a hoax video posted to YouTube by the hoax-promoting site Secure Team 10. All but one of the "triangle UFO" images were quickly deleted from DeLonge's Facebook page. But when I checked this morning,  there was still this one remaining. Perhaps he overlooked it when deleting the others?

DeLonge also posted this on November 4, but for some reason quickly deleted it. Fortunately Curt Collins saved a screen capture. (From now on, if you see something weird posted by DeLonge, get a screen capture right away, before he has a chance to delete it).

What all this shows is that Tom DeLonge is a very careless guy, who believes practically every crazy UFO story he hears. He impulsively posts flaky photos to Facebook or Instagram, then soon removes them once someone points out that they are known to be hoaxes. Yet he has raised almost $2 million from "investors" in less than a month. I'll bet even Steven Greer hasn't raised that much in the past few years.......

Finally, in this video DeLonge promises that his company To The Stars will construct a spaceship that will generate more energy than it consumes, thereby violating conservation of energy. Before anyone can take DeLonge's claims seriously, he needs to explain exactly how he is planning to do this.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

At Longe Last - Tom DeLonge's Dramatic UFO Announcement!!

This past February 15, rocker Tom DeLonge, formerly of the band Blink 182, was named the UFO "Researcher of the Year" at the International UFO Congress in Arizona. This award struck many people as unusual, since DeLonge has not actually published any UFO research. However, in his acceptance video, he hinted at his great UFO disclosure announcement that is to come:
 I'm into some serious shit. I'm making really good progress. I can't tell you what I'm about to announce... There's going to be an announcement in like the next sixty-ish days...
DeLonge's promise that it would come in "sixtyish" days stretched out to two-hundred-thirty-sevenish days, but finally on October 10, 2017 he posted his long-awaited announcement to Facebook:
Thank you all for waiting for an announcement that is literally 2 years in the making. I have assembled a team of insiders that I believe can possibly change the world. All are current consultants to the US Gov on National Security Matters, and some literally left days ago from the Department if Defense to join me in this initiative. Fmr. High Ranking Government Officials and Senior Intelligence Officers from CIA, DOD, and also a Chief Engineer (Director of Advanced Programs) from Lockheed Martin’s the Skunk Works have come together aiming to BUILD A REVOLUTIONARY TECHNOLOGY for the world, research the unknown and finally tell the “story of the millennia” through Feature Films. NO ONE GOVERNMENT, INDIVIDUAL OR INSTITUTION should own what can truthfully help the world. We all can own it together. To The Stars Academy of Arts and Science is allowing a group of those who are interested to join us on day one. 
In other words, DeLonge is not announcing anything about UFOs. Instead, he has announced the formation of his new corporation to look into UFOs, and he wants you to fund it. What a truly breathtaking announcement! Here is your chance to give money to the very wealthy Tom DeLonge! Don't miss this opportunity of a lifetime!!!
Countdown to DeLonge's great announcement Broadcast
Participating in DeLonge's exciting dog-and-pony show are:
Chris Mellon: FMR Deputy Asst Secretary of Defense for Intelligence
Jim Semivan: FMR Sr. Intelligence Service, CIA’s Directorate of Operations
Dr. Hal Puthoff: Director of DOD/CIA/DIA Scientific Research Programs
Steve Justice: FMR Advanced Systems Director for Lockheed Martin’s “Skunk Works”
Luis Elizondo: FMR Director of Programs to Investigate Unidentified Aerial Threats, USG
Something extraordinary is about to be revealed. Former high-level officials and scientists with deep black experience who have always remained in the shadows are now stepping into the light. These insiders have long-standing connections to government agencies which may have programs investigating unidentifed aerial phenomena (UAP). They intend to move into the private sector and to make all declassified information, and any future knowledge, available for all to see.
Is the presence of "government insiders" in a UFO organization unprecedented? Does it promise significant informational breakthroughs? Most UFOlogists today may not aware that back in the 1950s and 60s, NICAP had several former high-ranking CIA officials in its leadership. In 1957, Roscoe Hillenkoetter, the first Director of Central Intelligence (1947-1950) became a member of the board of NICAP. Also in 1957,  Colonel Joseph Bryan III, the founder and head of the Psychological Warfare Staff at the CIA, became member of the NICAP board. Several other former CIA officials also became affiliated with NICAP. Nonetheless, despite all these government insiders, NICAP never obtained or revealed any supposed UFO secrets held by the government.

Nor is this the first time that those with a background in science and technology have been brought together in a UFO research organization. In 1973 with much fanfare, former Air Force Blue Book consultant Dr. J. Allen Hynek announced the formation of the Center for UFO Studies. Despite the participation of numerous scientists who were previously part of Hynek's "invisible college," CUFOS ultimately changed nothing in the UFO controversy.

What is unprecedented here is the stated intention to mix UFO "research" with cinema and other forms of entertainment. It is impossible to predict how successful this will be - obviously some UFO and Sci-Fi entertainment has been extremely successful. Just ask Steven Speilberg or George Lucas. But just producing a space or UFO related movie does not in any way guarantee success. Just ask the investors in the independent Sci-Fi film Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. Now that Harvey Weinstein has a lot of free time, perhaps he can give some good advice to To The Stars' entertainment division. In the absence of major Hollywood directorial and production talent, their odds do not look good.

For your convenience, DeLonge's website includes a handy button for you to "invest".
But let's look at the fine print. This is a stock offering, and that entails a lot of legal red tape, "Filed pursuant to Rule 253(g)(2), File No. 024-10728."  "OFFERING CIRCULAR DATED SEPTEMBER 29, 2017 To The Stars Academy of Arts and Science Inc. Up to 10,000,000 shares of Class A Common Stock." I have highlighted some of the more humorous lines in this prospectus:
The company is a public benefit corporation founded in 2017 by a former senior Intelligence Officer with the CIA, a distinguished research scientist from the Department of Defense, and an award-winning artist with the goal of creating a dynamic Aerospace, Science and Entertainment consortium. We strive to be a positive vehicle for change by supporting progressive thought through academic research, exotic engineering, and
entertainment media. In the course of the company’s organization it acquired To The Stars, Inc. (“TTS”), an existing business that now comprises the company’s Entertainment Division.....

The company’s Aerospace Division is dedicated to finding revolutionary breakthroughs in propulsion, energy, and communication. We intend to employ lead engineers from major Department of Defense and aerospace companies with the capability to pursue an advanced engineering approach to fundamental aerospace topics ranging from Beamed-Energy Propulsion to warp drive metrics. Our team will seek to develop next-generation
energy and propulsion concepts for spaceflight, as well as new technologies for space communications.

The company’s Science Division will be a theoretical and experimental laboratory, challenging conventional thinking by discovering a new world of physics and consciousness-related possibilities and exploring how to use them to affect the world positively. TTS AAS has access to a global team of research scientists with advanced knowledge to pursue the company’s research projects, including Human Ultra-Experience Database, Engineering Space-Time Metrics, Brain-Computer Interface, and Telepathy....

To date, our revenues have not been sufficient to fund operations. Thus, until we can generate sufficient cash flows to fund operations, we are dependent on raising additional capital through debt and/or equity transactions....

The offering price has been arbitrarily set by the company and the valuation is high.
Valuations for companies at this stage are generally purely speculative, and even more so in our case. We have not generated any revenue from the aerospace and science projects we plan to pursue, nor do we have deals in place yet to do so. Our valuation has not been validated by any independent third party, and may decrease precipitously in the future. It is a question of whether you, the investor, are willing to pay this price for a percentage ownership of a start-up company. You should not invest if you disagree with this valuation.....
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission carefully regulates all proposed stock offerings, and requires that risks to investors be clearly disclosed. To fail to do this is to invite future lawsuits from investors who might suffer losses. I would have to say that To The Stars, Inc. has done a very thorough job of disclosing "risks." If anyone thinks after reading this stock offering (and after watching the video below, in which DeLonge talks about the "pyramids and stuff on Mars"), that To The Stars represents a good investment, I have a bridge for sale I'd like to tell you about.

Dude, where's my Saucer?

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Another Nonsensical "Explanation" for the Kecksburg Incident

The so-called "UFO Crash" at Kecksburg, Pennsylvania on December 9, 1965 has become a UFO legend as a 'second Roswell.'  In reality, there is no mystery at all. The supposed "UFO" was simply the Great Lakes Fireball of December 9, 1965, reported by many observers over a wide area and written about by astronomers.

The train of the Great Lakes Fireball, seen across at least six states and Ontario, that started the Kecksburg 'UFO crash' story. Photo taken 9 December 1965 4:43 p.m. E.S.T. by Richard Champine of Royal Oak, Michigan. Location: 2 miles east of Pontiac, Michigan, approx. 45 seconds after event.

That hasn't stopped UFOlogists from proposing elaborate and unlikely alternate explanations, including a "UFO crash." In 2015, MUFON's Pennsylvania state director John Ventre, along with Owen Eichler, "explained" that  the Kecksburg incident was probably caused by a GE Mark 2 capsule from a Program 437 rocket launched from Johnson Island in the Pacific on 7 December 1965. Ventre already had a reputation for making dubious claims and frequently appeared on MUFON's sensation-mongering TV series Hangar 1. That reputation was enhanced by his claim that the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH-370 was probably abducted by extraterrestrials.  More recently, Ventre was at the center of a shit-storm in MUFON concerning some apparently racist comments he posted, and was (somewhat reluctantly) given the boot by MUFON's director Jan Harzan.

Canadian researcher Ted Molczan, perhaps the leading civilian expert on satellite orbits, quickly shot this claim down. He wrote that "Ventre and Eichler concluded that the Kecksburg UFO sightings were of a General Electric Mark II re-entry vehicle, launched on a variant of Program 437, called 437AP (Alternate Payload), which replaced the ASAT warhead with a satellite inspector. However, 437AP launches were sub-orbital," and hence could not possibly have orbited the earth for two days before allegedly coming down in Kecksburg. Molczan noted that "they omitted the conclusion of the experts that the flight ended with a destructive impact into the ocean... none of the key claims of Ventre and Eichler withstand scrutiny. The Program 437AP launch in question was sub-orbital and Kecksburg was far beyond the range of the Thor IRBM. That alone is fatal for their theory."
Now there is a brand new theory to explain Kecksburg, by Bob Wenzel Gross, a "semi-retired researcher and writer with a forthcoming non-fiction memoir entitled: In Pursuit of Anomalies: How Great Music and Real UFOs Can Save the Human Race. Dr. Gross has worked as a researcher, field investigator, scientist, writer, lecturer, educator, administrator, change agent, turnaround specialist, and professional musician." Published in Frank Warren's UFO Chronicles, Gross' account is very long-winded, and you can mostly ignore Part 1 - it's just Gross showing what a clever guy he is:
On or about June 1, 2016, I declared that the Kecksburg case would be my inaugural attempt at unraveling an established (fifty year old) UFO mystery. I gathered and analyzing new relevant data from the existing literature. Thus, I closed the Kecksburg case, once and for all, by applying scientific methodology to aggressive research. I strongly believe I solved the Kecksburg enigma—beyond the shadow of a doubt. (emphasis added)
Wow, what a guy!!!!

Gross' loopy "explanation" is in the second part, involving the once highly-classified Corona surveillance satellite, the earliest "spy satellite" that would fly over the Soviet Union to take pictures from orbit, then drop its film canisters back to earth for recovery.

Corona surveillance satellites were launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California...Corona satellites employed Satellite Recovery Vehicles (SRVs). These recovery vehicles were essentially space capsules with nosecone-like forebodies featuring heatshields made from a type of a composite metal that, to a degree, burned away during reentry. Enclosed within the SRV’s protective heat shielded forebody was perhaps the most valuable part of the SRV. It was a gold-plated capsule designed to be recovered by parachute. ...
A Corona Satellite was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on December 9, 1965. Due to an anomaly of sorts, its recovery vehicle separated from the satellite earlier than planned. Thus, this Corona recovery vehicle in conjunction with its film bucket is a highly viable candidate for the object that landed in Kecksburg, Pennsylvania on that same date.

The Corona KH-4A series consisted of "Film return with two reentry vehicles and two panoramic cameras."  KH-4A 1027 was launched  at 1:07 PM PST on 9 Dec 1965  from Vandenberg AFB aboard a Thor Agena D rocket. This was 35 minutes before the completely unrelated Great Lakes Fireball was widely seen across the eastern U.S. and Canada at 4:42 PM EST. The rocket was launched almost due south with an 80 degree inclination to the equator, which would allow it to fly over every part of the Soviet Union.

An Air Force JC-130B practices catching a satellite “bucket” with grappling gear and winch at Edwards AFB, Calif., 1969. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Gross speculates, based on nothing except his need for the rocket to be in Kecksburg, that
instead of heading south, the rocket system headed for a launch trajectory that would cut a northeasterly path across the United States... In an attempt to regain control of Satellite KH-4A 1027’s orientation, the foreword recovery vehicle (SRV-1) was separated from the spacecraft. The separation was done at some time before the engine burn that would have injected the satellite into orbit. This action was followed by placing the aft recovery vehicle (SRV-2) into a passive mode for the time being. Fortunately, jettisoning SRV-1 resolved the Corona satellite’s attitude problem for the time being.
According to NASA, "Erratic attitude necessitated recovery of this KH-4A (Key Hole 4A) type spacecraft after just two days of operation. All the cameras operated satisfactorily." But a satellite's "attitude" is not the same as its "orbital inclination," as Gross seems to think. The satellite could not control where its cameras were pointing (attitude), although it went into orbit exactly as planned. According to Remote Sensing from Air and Space by Richard C. Olsen (p. 239), KH-4A 1027 suffered a "control gas loss," and thus would not be able to keep its cameras pointed in the desired direction. But this means that the satellite achieved its desired orbit, and the reentry pods remained in orbit for at least two days - long after the sightings near Kecksburg. There is absolutely no evidence that one of its film recovery vehicles separated prematurely, as Gross speculates.

I sent Ted Molczan the links to Gross' articles to get his comments. Molczan consulted a 1966 document about the Corona program from the National Reconnaissance Office, originally classified "top secret," then declassified in 1997. From it he extracted the following information pertaining to mission KH-4A 1027 (emphasis added):
All launch, ascent and injection events occurred as programmed. Both Thor and Agena propulsion and guidance was normal and resulted in the desired orbit. After the Agena yaw around maneuver, the guidance pneumatics failed to switch to low gain. This condition resulted in gas supply depletion by orbit 9 and loss of stability by orbit 15.

Loss of vehicle stability necessitated first mission recovery on orbit 17 and second recovery on orbit 33. Both recoveries were executed using the lifeboat system and aircraft pickup
So, according to these once-secret documents, the Corona mission launched from Vandenberg on 9 December 1965 achieved its "desired orbit" by flying almost due south across the Pacific, and did not go careening wildly across the U.S., dropping its film payload over Kecksburg, as Gross imagines happened.

From that same NRO document:

Recovery was enabled in the lifeboat mode on pass 16 [redaction] and executed on pass 17 on December 10, 1965. All events monitored occurred within their prescribed tolerances. Lifeboat gas pressure indicated an adequate supply for a second lifeboat recovery attempt.

Predicted Impact 22° 00'N, 152° 01'W

Actual Impact    22° 22'N, 151° 50'W

The condition of the air recovered capsule was normal.


Recovery was enabled and executed in the lifeboat mode on pass 33. The capsule was air recovered on 11 December 1965, All events monitored occurred within the prescribed tolerances. See Table 5-1.

Predicted Impact  24° OO'N, 147° 03'W
Actual Impact     23° 3l'N, 146° 30'W

The condition of the recovered capsule was normal.

So, according to once-secret records, both of the film reentry capsules were recovered normally, over the Pacific Ocean near Hawaii. Neither one fell into the woods near Kecksburg, Pennsylvania before the satellite achieved orbit. Molczan commented,
Gross and Ventre/Eichler claimed to find non-UFO explanations for Kecksburg, but failed because they relied on the methods of ufology, which tend to be unreliable.

The biggest error that both made was to ignore the scientific and journalistic evidence that the event was due to a meteoric fireball that disintegrated near Detroit, and accept the unsubstantiated claims that surfaced decades later, which are the foundation of the modern Kecksburg myth. That doomed them to try to fit a theory to what almost certainly is false data.... Gross attempted to solve some of the same problems as Ventre/Eichler. He tried to get a Corona SRV to Kecksburg by claiming that one launched that day went spectacularly off course, despite the contrary historical record. He needed a radiation danger, so he claimed one existed, without providing any evidence.

Gross and Ventre/Eichler have nicely demonstrated that the methods of ufology do not work, even when investigating non-ET solutions.
The launch in question did indeed contain an experiment:
Nuclear emulsion experiment, NSSDC ID: 1965-102A-01
Mission Name: KH-4A 1027
Principal Investigator: Mr. Robert C. Filz, Principal Investigator, Phillips Laboratory (nee USAF Geophysics Lab, nee Cambridge Labs)

Gross suggests, based on nothing more than his own misunderstanding of the term "nuclear emulsion," that there was something terribly dangerous about this Corona mission:
 It is reasonable to think that one of the SRVs had a potent nuclear experiment packed on board.

Documentation about this nuclear experiment has been lacking by design. However, it is clear that this experiment was intended to study Earth’s magnetosphere. The experiment was developed by the Phillips Laboratory in conjunction with the US Air Force. The experiment was enclosed inside a recovery capsule. Thus, the experiment would have been stowed carefully inside the film bucket of one of the satellite’s two SRV’s. For practicality and functionality, the front recovery vehicle (SRV-1) probably contained the nuclear test.

The National Aeronautics Space Administration (NASA) has not yet supplied sufficient details about the true nature of this nuclear emulsion experiment. From the onset, disinformation has been an integral part of the Corona program.. based on continual research, I can confidently surmise that the magnetosphere study may have encompassed at least three possible sorts of nuclear trials. I ranked these proposed experiments by danger levels. The danger levels take into account both physical and political safety considerations.

A rather low-danger-level nuclear experiment may have involved a cosmic ray study to detect radioactively charged particles trapped in an emulsion by energy generated through cosmic radiation. The radiation would interact with the emulsion. Such emulsions are made of gelatin and silver salt molecules that act when charged particles pass through. The molecules are excited by the passage for a period of time and can be converted to metallic silver. A satisfactory approach to this kind of test involves exposing the emulsion to high cosmic radiation long enough to capture particles (Stratopedia 2017).

A moderate-danger-level nuclear experiment may have involved studying organisms’ sensitivity to radiation in microgravity. As a result, such experiments may have involved placing by-products of nuclear fission in the recovery capsule along with a living animal. In this case, the animal may have been a primate (Popular Mechanics 2010).

An extremely high-danger-level nuclear experiment may have involved atmospheric tests of a nuclear explosive device. In the 1960s, the United States wanted to find out what happened when nuclear weapons are detonated in space. Regardless of the potentially great danger related to physical damage, the political damage associated with testing any nuclear device in space would have been astronomical.
Gross leaps from the first "low danger nuclear experiment" which is more or less correct (it should be described as a "no-danger cosmic ray experiment") to his speculations about an "extremely high-danger-level nuclear experiment" involving "a nuclear explosive device," which is totally absurd.

What is a "nuclear emulsion"? It sounds dangerous, but in fact it's not. According to the on-line Encyclopedia Brittanica
Nuclear photographic emulsion, also called Nuclear Emulsion, radiation detector generally in the form of a glass plate thinly coated with a transparent medium containing a silver halide compound. Passage of charged subatomic particles is recorded in the emulsion in the same way that ordinary black and white photographic film records a picture.
In other words, it's just a specially coated photographic plate, designed to detect radioactive particles. A "nuclear emulsion" is not itself radioactive! But Gross needs to stir up nuclear hysteria to justify a supposed military efforts to seal off the area and recover the supposedly hazardous "nuclear experiment."

Meanwhile, I'm still waiting for Gross to tell us "How Great Music and Real UFOs Can Save the Human Race." (From what?)

Robert Young's article debunking the Kecksburg claim was published as far back as the Spring, 1991 issue of The Skeptical Inquirer magazine (Vol. 15 no. 3): "Old-Solved Mysteries: The Kecksburg Incident." An updated version of "Old-Solved Mysteries" begins on p. 177 of the book The UFO Invasion, edited by Kendrick Frazier, Barry Karr, and Joe Nickell. (Prometheus Books, Buffalo, NY, 1997). So the solution is well-known and has been for over twenty-five years, although many UFOlogists have determined to simply ignore it, and claim that a UFO crashed.

Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 61 No. 4, pp. 184-190.

In this article, the astronomers actually calculated the orbit around the sun of the meteor responsible for the Great Lakes Fireball before it entered the earth's atmosphere.

The green dot shows the location og Kecksburg, PA.

The people of Kecksburg have erected this monument to the supposed acorn-shaped space capsule that allegedly crashed nearby

We will let Zippy the Pinhead have the last word on Kecksburg: