Thursday, May 2, 2019

On the difficulty of proving UAP "fragments" are extraterrestrial - updated

UAP "fragments"

In recent times, there has been much re-newed interest in the potential "fragments" from Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon; and in particular, the topic of analyses of such material.

To The Stars Academy

Last July, the To The Stars Academy of Arts & Science, launched its A.D.A.M. project which aimed to collect and analyze "materials reported to have come from advanced aerospace vehicles of unknown origin."  Then followed a series of blog posts on their website discussing the project.

In September, I wrote a blog piece about the letting of a US$35,000 contract between TTSA and EarthTech International for the analysis of several "fragments."

At the 27 October, 2018, Centro Ufologico Nazionale UAP conference in Rome, Italy, Luis Elizondo of TTSA, showed a slide of a collection of images, which he referred to as material in the possession of TTSA, which was being analyzed.

At the March 2019, conference of the Scientific Coalition for Ufology, held in Huntsville, Alabama, Elizondo again showed that same slide. He stated:

" What makes this material so special? Now, in some cases, this material was told it's special. Through analysis, guess what? Not so special. But some of it is absolutely special. I won't point out which ones on that slide but there are some that are absolutely special and have been briefed to some very, very senior levels of the government, and they do remarkable and extraordinary things and they're built in such a way that to this day we still can't replicate them."

However, to date, there have been no documents released, providing details of the analysis of these "special" materials, and it seems that the public release of any such detail, will not occur until the TTSA/History channel six part series, scheduled to commence in the US at the end of May 2019. It is uncertain, whether or not, TTSA will publish a peer reviewed article in a major materials science journal. While I, in general, support the work being undertaken by the TTSA, the apparent direction for us to learn of the analysis results is hardly a scientific one - simply entertainment.

On the 8 January 2019 podcast on the "Open Minds News Radio" program, one of the guests was former Huffington Post journalist, Lee Speigel. Speigel talked about UAP related materials. Thanks to researcher Joe Murgia, we have a transcript of Speigel's segment.  In part, Speigal says:

"...The number one story, may be, for me...what's still floating around is the idea that there's a lot of competition out there among UFO researchers and scientists over the analysis of alleged fragments or pieces of UFOs.  This is a very big story. And even I, recently, had a unique opportunity to see and hold some reportedly, real UFO material that's being analyzed now by scientists that aren't yet ready to go public with their amazing findings. But they will. And I can say...I can say that with total certainty because I was there, in their laboratory... They're gonna release it to science and say "Here's what we've come up with. We can conclude very definitely that some of these fragments were not naturally formed and that they were manufactured by someone... They will be able to conclude that some of these fragments are not from Earth..."

Queried by Alejandro Rojas whether or not he was talking about the TTSA, Speigel responded that no, it was not TTSA he was referring to, and not Robert Bigelow either. Unfortunately, the above, generalized statement fails to add any detail to the topic. Certainly, there was no data provided to back up the statements which Speigel made. I understand, yet again, similar to the  TTSA approach, that Speigel and partner will report upon the analysis work of the unnamed laboratory, in a feature film to be released later in 2019.

Joe Murgia speculated, that the individuals whom Speigel was referring to, were Jacques Vallee, and Dr Garry Nolan.

Professor Garry Nolan is the Rachford and Carlota A Harris Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Stanford University School of Medicine. He was interviewed by author and researcher, M J Banias on 29 April 2019. Their conversation mainly involved the areas of Dr Nolan's work with Dr Kit Green and their cohort of patients who had apparently sustained injuries arising from their encounters with the phenomenon; and the work Dr Nolan was undertaking with Jacques Vallee on materials analysis.

Regarding their materials analysis work, I directed the following question to Dr Nolan, through Banias: "Is there a peer reviewed paper anywhere in the near future that the community can expect?"

Dr Nolan gave an extended response, to the question, which I listened to on YouTube. Later, in communicating with Dr Nolan, he offered to clarify some of the points he mentioned. So, the following is a combination of his conversational response, and some additional material.

"Yes...some initial studies showed unusual isotopic ratios and Jacques has talked about them publicly so I'm comfortable talking about that. So what we are doing right now, is I'm doing this work personally. The recent work that Jacques showed, I did the experiments myself, but not the historical stuff Peter Sturrock for instance, here at Stanford did collaborating with Jacques in the past. Others had done some isotopic analysis work as well, and we have confirmed some of those efforts.

My point is at this stage, as much as some of the (non-mainstream) journals that have published this stuff are credible, they are unfortunately not the journals that anybody in the mainstream is paying attention to. The journals people are paying attention to are like, Nature Materials, Nature Photonics, and Aeronautical journals. So, we've convinced a couple of those major journals that if we put together a credible paper that looks like there are credible conclusions, then they will send the paper out for peer review. That doesn't mean they will publish the work, but they will send it out for peer review, to make sure and double check our results. I expect we will probably get push back like I got push back with the Atacama results at the beginning. But the feedback made it a better paper. So, that's what we will do. So yes, we plan open publication.

So, right now what we are doing are confirmations of our initial results. We are taking it round to those who are specialists in mass spectrometry and metallurgy, to ask "Ok, where could I have made a mistake? What could be the contaminating artifacts in the information here that are leading to me to make the wrong conclusion  - and hopefully prevent me from potentially making a fool of myself?

That's why you go to the experts - which we have done in some of these cases. Sometimes you tell them what it is, and the provenance. Sometimes, you say, hey I've got this stuff, I'm trying to find out what it is. Does this make sense - is this possible? Given we know what this is made of, ( i.e. the elements and the isotopes) could I get apparently altered ratios by some strange surface chemistry that leads me to misinterpret the results? So, let's talk about some of the isotopes. I think there's magnesium in a couple of the samples of Jacques that have strange ratios. So, are the unexpected magnesium ratios because Mg26 is more likely to bond  to something in the material or less able to be ionized, and therefore make it look like it has got a different isotope ratio than it actually has?  And maybe that's the case because that magnesium 26 is in the context of something  else in the sample. Total speculation,but I've learned to be careful. So, apparent isotope ration difference might have nothing to do with aliens, or other worldly anything, and it is only to do with the physical structure of the material that makes what we think we're seeing to be somewhat off natural, when it is in fact truly "normal."

Here the message is to other people that I know , who are out there, who are doing this kind of analytical work on these materials; be very careful. A couple of things that we thought were off, have very conventional explanations, and you have to go to the expert, or you will make a fool of yourself. And you will discredit anything that you're trying to do. And the people who are listening, who know what I am doing with these materials- who know I know who they are, and that I have told this to them privately, but now I'm telling them publicly.

That's why I am interested in the material work that Jacques brought to the table. It's because, of, all the many things things that can be done, the materials are "reproducible." We can cut those samples into many pieces as Jacques would tolerate. Send it to people in laboratories - to confirm it. We've done that in some cases. So, we're getting these validations and we're checking with the necessary experts. Then, we'll write up a simple paper that will make no claim to anything, other than the fact that here's the composition of the stuff and here's the story of how it was found. End of story.

The hanging question there, should the materials be truly anomalous, is how did they get made? People (humans) don't play with isotopic ratios easily. Ask yourself what do people do with isotopic ratios now (with current technology)? What do we modify isotopes for, or what have we been doing with isotopes for the last 60 years? Blow stuff up...uranium and plutonium...imaging or killing ...cancer cells...nothing very subtle.

Chemistry and physics have not caught up with why you might use titanium 46 versus titanium 47 (plus one neutron)...what is different about the magnesium ratios in the sample that I know Hal has, and I have a sample that was given to me by Leslie. So, why would somebody alter those ratios? The cost to change isotopic ratios is considerable, especially given the provenance: that is, some of these materials date back decades, when the ability to make those changes was so costly that why would you make a big chunk of it and throw it out in the desert?...why would you bother?...I can tell you right now there is simply no industrial/material reason to alter the ratios.

(Talking of the use of the word "alloys by TTSA.) "So, I wrote an internal memo to TTSA at the time I was involved with them and said these aren't alloys. These materials, do not think of them as alloys. We need to change the conversation. You need to call them metamaterials - so I'd like to lay claim to the use of that term (this was a memo in response to the Scientific American article about the Tic Tacs saying that humans basically know all there is to know about alloys.) These are more complex, and if anything, you need to call them ultramaterials because metamaterials are pretty well understood....basically that's a repeated atomic architecture that performs a single purpose.

So, I took some of the material from Jacques to some people at Stanford, and I said - this is interesting, and you tell them a little bit about it. They will sometimes reply, if you can interest them that " Well I have this or that instrument, and I'll get back to you, and tell you something about this, that, the other of it..." They can inform us whether you've seen this in any aeronautical industry materials before. And if they come back and tell me, yes this is something from Pratt and Whitley circa 1955, I'm like, thank you, now I can go do something else..."

Premature disclosure

In a recent document titled "A preliminary catalogue of alleged "fragments" reportedly associated with sightings of Unidentified Aerial Phenomena where analysis(es) was/were conducted" I offer dozens of cases where such material underwent analysis. The results vary from the mundane, to cases claiming an extraterrestrial origin had been proven.

A classic example of the latter occurred on 4 July 1997, at a conference held in Roswell, New Mexico, when a Dr VernonClark announced the results of his tests on a sample given to Dr Roger Leir in August 1995 by an individual who stated the fragment came from the 1947 Roswell "crash."

VernonClark announced that the sample showed significant variations from normal isotopic composition found on Earth; and that he could only conclude that the sample had been manufactured and was extraterrestrial in origin. Needless to say, UFO researchers celebrated the announcement.

However, in subsequent weeks, VernonClark retreated from this definitive conclusion, citing that he had been misquoted. Yet his published written results were available for anyone to look at. He is quoted as saying "In retrospect, with 20-20 hindsight, I would have preferred to have more work done..."

Twelve years on,VernonClark's results are generally accepted to have been in error, derived from poor analytical techniques.

It seems to me, that most UFO researchers have failed to understand the complexity of the process by which analysis is undertaken. Note that Dr Garry Nolan, in his statement above, said:

"I'm really talking to other people that I know , who are out there, who are doing this kind of work; be vary careful. A couple of things that we thought were off, have very conventional explanations, and you have to go to the expert, or you will make a fool of yourself. And you will discredit anything that you're trying to do. And the people who are listening, who know what I am - who know who they are, I told this to them privately, but now I'm telling them publicly."

Chris Cogwell

Christopher F Cogwell holds a PhD in chemical engineering with a focus on the study of nanomaterials. In August 2018 he posted a detailed article about the methodology which he considered necessary to be followed when conducting materials analysis. In part he stated:

"We would want to identify if the material has come from outer space by comparing it to similar materials or samples we find on Earth. Does it show significant enough difference to cause us to believe it did not come from our planet?

Second is there evidence that the material has been engineered or designed in some way? Does it show properties or applications that we wouldn't expect to occur naturally, or is it engineered or composed in such a way to give it specific properties?

An third, does it show advanced techniques or knowledge with which we are unfamiliar. Are there super-heavy elements which we have yet to discover here on Earth, does it show crystal structure or solid phases that have not yet been observed by the materials science community, does it show composition and engineering which is beyond the scope of science today?"

His article goes on to describe the types of testing which could be undertaken, and the methodology for such testing.

He concludes:

" As far as can be gleaned from the information available to the general public, it appears that efforts to date concerning the analysis of solids potentially occurring from some unknown civilization have focused on the first class of studies, those concerning the elements making up the material and their isotopes. However, as has been suggested by this work that is only a small portion of the entire picture needed before any definitive conclusions can be made."

Chris Cogwell issued a warning:

"Of particular concern to the interested public should be any study that purports to give evidence without clearly reporting in detail their methodology, potential sources of error, the accuracy of their measurements, and other information required to replicate their results."


Following upon the finding of any anomaly in one of these samples, the next step is to publish the results, to enable discussion among the scientific and UAP communities. Here lies a difficulty, respectable journals so far, have failed to publish such articles. So, it is of interest to note the approach taken by Dr Garry Nolana and Jacques Vallee in their joint work.

In summary

The words of Chris Cogwell; Dr Garry Nolan; Jacques Vallee (in private correspondence to the author) and others, urges us to take care when examining the results claimed by some UFO researchers, and even scientists such as Dr VernonClark, regarding analyses of UAP related material.

What is needed, is a multi-pronged methodology along the lines proposed by Chris Cogwell, and a well documented chain of custody for samples. Then, if a sample does indeed indicate genuine anomalies, along the lines Cogwell suggests; and the full results; are available in an article in a peer reviewed materials science or similar journal, we may be able to  claim that we do indeed have a "fragment"from the phenomenon.

Until then, in my opinion, we need to beware of undocumented proclamations of "special" materials which do "remarkable and extraordinary things."

1 comment:

  1. Super interesting topic, thanks for the write-up. I can't help thinking what it would be like for a scientist, an expert in his field... THE expert in his field, to be analyzing some material that appears to have been layered, atom by atom, in a very specific and complex order.

    Us non-scientists have had our minds blown over and over by what we believe to be true about the phenomena. Personally, my mind has exploded a couple of times with exposure to 'weird stuff.'

    When a noted scientist or group of scientists get cranial cracked, well that's an extra special situation that will reset humanity. I hope it comes this year, but 2020 will be fine too.


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