Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Roswell and the Disappearing Debris

I have never been a big fan of the paranoia that runs through the UFO field. I don’t believe Men in Black are stalking UFO witnesses or investigators. I don’t believe that black helicopters routinely inspect witnesses and investigators. I just don’t buy into all the paranoia that runs so deep.

But there are questions. Frank Kimbler (photo courtesy Alejandro Rojas of Open Minds), who teaches at the New Mexico Military Institute in Roswell, and who has spent time inspecting the terrain around the various debris fields and crash sites, has had some luck in finding strange debris. I say strange simply because it is not readily identifiable. He has just some scraps that he, as a geologist, was unable to identify with the equipment available to him. Doesn’t mean what he has is of alien manufacture or extraterrestrial origin. Just that it is a little odd.

On September 2, 2010, I received an email from Frank about a metal fragment he’d sent to Arizona State University for analysis, which is to say that I was just one of a couple of dozen recipients of the email. Frank send his concerns about his fragment to many of us.

Frank had received an email from Dr. Lynda B. Williams, a research professor at the School of Earth and Space Exploration at ASU. She wrote that she had received his FEDEX package and that she had opened it on the lab bench, but found nothing inside.

She wrote, “I was expecting a 2mm foil and a standard. There is nothing in there but a black felt with gray sponge layer on top of a thin grey [yes, she used both spellings] sponge layer attached to white cotton. Which layer had the sample on it? I’m sorry, but its just not there!”

Frank wrote back:

The AH- 1 metal fragment was well packaged and I can't believe that it is lost. I did not forget to include the fragment. I can assure you it was in the small round box, directly on the top in plain sight in the box.
This UFO evidence stuff is an interesting game to play. Seems to be a great deal like cat and mouse, cloak and dagger and chess all wrapped in one.
I hate to say this but I was warned and should have never trusted sending an

alloy fragment to anyone, universities, or private labs I should have hand delivered it to the SIMS lab. So its my word against everyone else's; and its my fault. The stupid mistake I make will not happen again.
The metal fragment was in the round plastic box. The round plastic container has a small metal fragment about 1.5 x 2 mm in size. It was directly on top of the black material and visible just about dead center through the plastic top. The plastic container was wrapped in a small amount of bubble wrap and taped at both ends and placed in small brown padded envelope which was also taped and stapled at the top; this was placed in a Fed-EX mailer. Very static sensitive as I mentioned in the note in the package. There was no standard because it takes weeks to get those from ALCOA.
No other fragments will be sent to anyone. All specimens will be delivered by me, under private armed guard if needed, every step of the analysis will be supervised by me and a trusted scientist or individual.
He signed his name.

No, I have no explanation for this. I know that Frank would not be engaged in some sort of hoax to elevate the importance of his work. I don’t know how any governmental agency, if a governmental agency was involved, could have pulled this off. It is one of those mysteries that dot the landscape. (Debris photo courtesy of Frank Kimbler.)

I do know that back in 1990, after Mark Wolf, Don Schmitt and I had interviewed Glenn Dennis on tape for the first and second times, that Wolf gave me one set of interviews and he took the other set. He said that the package that contained his video tapes had been tampered with, but nothing was missing. He thought it strange simply because, on other assignments and documentaries, when they had transported video tapes, nothing had been disturbed. However, all the tapes were there and I had the duplicate (or rather the other interview) with me so it wasn’t as if anything was lost.

Make of this what you will. The sample has vanished from the closed package. Dr. Williams didn’t mention that she thought there had been tampering and she wasn’t looking for that. I do know that I have received some FEDEX packages in pretty sorry shape.

One fact remains. There was nothing in the package, and unless Frank is engaging in some kind of scheme, I have no explanation for this.


Lance said...

KImbler's story has many holes in it.

In particular there is the breathless and silly way it was first reported by the impossibly credulous folks at Open Minds.

I might have thought, Kevin, you would have some other questions for the man who says he still sees the scrape pattern where the alien craft landed (or maybe where the army scoured the area) in satellite photos!!!! He calls this the EXACT location given by witnesses. Really?

Can he give me the GPS coordinates of that EXACT location and tell me how it might be determined? From half century old memories? Do you know that location, Kevin. Which landing site of the plethora of choices?

Such piffle.

Such ridiculous stuff accepted without question by UFO enthusiasts!

Tim Printy's new issue of Sunlite show how Kimbler misrepresented (or perhaps just misunderstood) the data about the fragment's isotopic ratios, claiming that the fragment fell outside the expected natural values. In reality it falls well inside.


Ah, believers and their scientific pronouncements!

The highest standards of UFOlogical science as usual.


Challenge Your Reality said...

Pretty interesting stuff to say the least. I am certainly a UFO believer, but I've always been skeptical about Roswell being extraterrestrial in nature up until recent claims and revelations. Also, great blog! Do you think you could follow mine or recommend it to others? I'm having trouble getting this off the ground (no UFO pun intended) :\

starman said...

Disappearing evidence is nothing new in UFOlogy. I had doubts about Kimbler's scraps because they didn't, to my knowledge, have the extraordinary characteristics reported by Marcel and others.

calliebuddy said...

Truly a frustrating situation for all involved.

However, the good news is that the specific issue of chain-of-custody is readily correctable.

I hope he is able to arrange for reliable examination of his samples. Then we can see just what has been has been revealed and go from there.

Tyler Kokjohn

KRandle said...

Lance -

Your debunker mentality is showing through here...

I said nothing in about the Open Minds story, other than to credit Alejandro for the use of his picture in the way he requested.

The site Frank surveyed was the one shown to me by Bill Brazel some twenty years ago, and Brazel, who lived on the ranch at one time, and who found bits of material, knew where that was. I will add that others that I interviewed took me to the same stretch of ranchland on separate occasions. So, I am confident that we have the correct location, your comments about witnesses notwithstanding.

I'm sure that he could give you the GPS coordinates (as could I), but he won't. Why? Because it is a working ranch and you need permission to roam around out there. (I won't even mention the guy who was trespassing, broke his arm, and then sued the ranch owners.)

I will note some things about Tim's article... the first problem is that Tim didn't like the Open Minds article... and thought that the information in it left out critical facts. I actually emailed Frank about this on August 3 and he wrote back, saying, "The media hyped the hell out what I said but at least they said some important things. One data set with results at the limit of the margin of error does not make for
alien spacecraft. The data looks anomalous and has peaked the interest of several good scientists (like Hal Puthoff). They have seen the data and they know that it needs more verification. One or two more isotopic analyses will be done by certified labs. The results will be made public as soon as it is available. I would like a metallurgist to look at the chemical, molecular, and physical properties of the material and determine if there is hint of ET."

In other words, Frank is attempting to have the samples tested by others and that the preliminary stuff looks interesting but is far from conclusive.

Second, Tim wondered about the use of satellite photos to search the area... but this is a standard (or is becoming) a standard in archaelogical research. They use satellite photos to search for ruins several thousand years old. Traces of the damage done might still be visible simply because the earth would have been disturbed by whatever was dragged across it. In other words, the disturbed soil, even from 60 years ago, might look different from the soil that had not been disturbed.

Finally, I will note, based on my experience as a military officer, that the buttons found look like the buttons used on military fatigues in the 1960s... which does not mean they were buttons on military uniforms in the 1940s, or the 1960s, or that a civilian, having purchased fatigues in a surplus store wasn't wearing the clothes when the buttons were lost. Frank asked me if they looked like fatigue buttons and I said they did... not that they were.

So, it seems that your comment about UFO enthusiasts is a little over the top. And Kimbler has not misrepresented the data... he continues to search for answers.

I suppose I could say, the highest standards of debunker science at its best.

Lance said...

Hi Kevin,

The preliminary tests do not look interesting to anyone except UFO enthusiasts--the material fell well within the expected norms (Kimbler misrepresents the results AGAIN in his response to you). So what's interesting about it?

You pretend that Kimbler uses the techniques of actual archaeologists to locate the site. Ok, can we check his work? Checking his metallurgy showed immediate problems (and one might expect this to be closer to his actual area of expertise--not a good sign). His satellite "archeology" work remains secret (in true UFO fashion) and so cannot be examined for similar mistakes.

Let me make a prediction now.

This will go exactly where every other piece of Roswell evidence went.


Double Nought Spy said...

There is one in every crowd...

I live in the desert, where scars from uranium prospecting in the late 40s and early 50s are clearly visible. The crust, once disturbed, takes a long time to re-establish itself. When there is less than eight inches of precipitation per year and no grazing or other such activity, scars 50 or 100 years old look like they could have been made much more recently. I spend a lot of time in the desert, and I have no problem with the idea of the crash site being pretty much like it was 50 years ago.

KRandle said...

Hawkeye -

I deleted your comment because I didn't appreciate the political statement embedded in it. I really don't care what your politics are, who you endorse or who you dislike. But this is not a political forum and I will not allow political comment... except, of course, my own.

Lance said...

The fact that the supposed satellite methodology (which has not been revealed) just happens to match a landing site site suggested by Kevin, suggests experimenter bias (in addition to the already pointed out errors).

The mention of Hal Puthoff shows us the level of thinking that is being brought to this.

This is UFO religion masquerading as science.


terry the censor said...

You have to admit, Kevin, that ufology has a lot of "missing evidence" attested to by witnesses but not examined by anyone in any meaningful way.
This looks like one more case of the same...but if he still has samples, we'll see.

Erich Kuersten said...

Good lord, who is this Lance character? Why doesn't he concentrate on pointing out the inconsistencies in the bible at some church group and leave decent gray-abiding citizens alone?

Debunkers are even worse than hoaxers when it comes to clouding issues. If some govt. agency wants to defame a UFO conference just send a debunker and a hoaxer down there to wrestle and knock over tables and make everyone there embarassed for all humankind.

In wishing to not appear as if they rush to conclusions, mainstream science has become so wary of topics like Roswell they don't want to touch it, and it's thanks to guys like Lance - if these debunkers would focus on some real issues just imagine the good they could do in saving the world instead of wasting their time on the UFO 'nonsense.' I can see him making all the kids at Christmas cry by explaining the lack of propulsion on an average sleigh and reindeer rather than facing a real foe, like big Pharma and its rote demonization of any psychoactive plant substance it can't put a patent on.

terry the censor said...

Erich, in ufology, people on both sides repeat claims (and slurs) over and over that, upon examination, are built on a sure fact but are not entirely true.
I respect Kevin's research, but I appreciate Lance questioning this more personal attack on Klass. It gets repeated uncritically. While it does seem to have a sizeable kernal of truth at its centre, it's not fully supported by facts.
Such arguments are a favoured method of argument on the fringe, but it's not really science and we should question it.

Lance said...

Thanks to Terry!

And Hi Erich,

While I do agree that most UFO belief and Santa Claus belief are roughly equivalent, I wonder why you don't bother to address any of the actual problems with the Kimbler story that I brought up.

I mentioned actual problems, big ones, with what Kimbler is selling. Facts are bothersome, huh?

If a dumb ass like me sees these problems, do you really think that scientists are gonna embrace this stuff even if you do manage to get me to shut up?


KRandle said...

Gentlemen -

I have been spending my time assembling the facts about Klass and his attacks on others. There are many examples and I do have a long posting about it, but wasn't sure if I wanted to post it. Apparently the decision is now out of my hands. And anyone who wished to do a little Internet research will be able to find examples of Klass' conduct (which is not to say that some of the UFO researchers engage in similar activities... I was just challenged to provide the information about Klass.)

Lance -

Your facts about Kimbler are not facts. You know there was no crash and therefore there could be no anomalous material. You over emphasize your interpretation of the reports, but I do not understand why you object to additional testing. The money is not coming from your pocket or the pockets of taxpayers. The museum in Roswell is footing most of the bill.

Here is what Frank Purcell, who studied the results that were easily available to him had to say on the www.ufotrail.blogspot.com site. It seems reasonable to me.

"The data is presented and plotted as isotopic ratios. Although AH-1 is shown as a point, it is really an area on the chart extending from 0.120 to 0.135 on the horizontal axis and from 0.125 to 0.140 on the vertical axis. (These ranges are calculated from the observed data.) It is clear that this range does in fact intersect the line and is suggestive that the AH-1 sample is not extraterrestrial.

"Sure, additional measurements would be helpful to discern if the metal is terrestrial, or not."

I will note here that Frank is aware of this analysis as well because I sent him the link and he found it to be interesting.

So, why not wait for the final results. Sure, we all pretty much know what those results will be, but why not wait rather than sling allegations.

Not to mention that some scientists are interested in testing the material.

Lance said...

Thanks Kevin,

As I am sure you know, debris analysis is fraught with problems. Often fraud is one of those problems. But you are probably right, waiting for the results is a wise course.

The fact that Kimbler's introduction came from the most credulous and unscientific lot at Open Minds may have made my biting reaction a bit deeper than necessary.

Furthermore his mention of Hal Putoff (an apparent Operating Thetan Level XXX in scientology who believes that Uri Geller performs real magic instead of the stage sort) did not make me think that this was headed in a rational direction.

In regards to Klass, my only request was that you support what you said about how he "routinely called the employers of witnesses, or investigators, of lecturers and researchers, and told them that their employees believed in alien visitation."



Lance said...

As a P.S.:

I wonder why the same advice, to wait until the analysis, wasn't followed by the folks selling the story? And why a headline that says:

"Test Confirms Roswell Debris Not From Earth"

Didn't generate the same kind of chiding from the buffs?

Sure that is a absolute lie but apparently it is the kind of lie that believers like. As we see from some of the responses above, some folks want to hold on to the lies at all costs.


terry the censor said...

I appreciate Kevin critiquing Friedman and Klass in recent columns.
When I started reading about UFOs online, I quickly got the impression that the most prominent proponent and best-known antogonist were both more interested in scoring points than discovering facts: Stanton Friedman and Philip Klass. As my main interest was alien abduction, and as these two men are not primarily abduction researchers or experts in psychological sciences, I had hoped to avoid reading any of their works for a very long time.
But a friend has asked me to review the literature of the Hill case in anticipation of the 50th anniversary. Unfortunately, Stan has lived up to his reputation ("Captured!" would be an eminently more useful book if all his "contributions" -- and very repetitive conspiracy ravings -- were replaced by more info on the Hills). Yesterday I received "UFOs -- Identified" in the mail and now have all of Klass' books that mention the Hills (the Toronto library system has very few of his works). I do not look forward to the task of going through them. (Plasma? Really?)
BTW, in my short time reviewing abduction reports, the two best books I've read (and re-read) are "Abduction Enigma" by Randle et al, and "Abductions and Aliens: What's Really Going On?" by eminently sensible Canadian, Chris Rutkowski.
Now...when will the rest of ufology allow criticism of Budd Hopkins and David Jacobs without going totally insane?
(Sorry this has nothing to do with Roswell but the comments are bleeding all over each other.)

cda said...

Regarding Lance's comment on a headline such as:

"Test Confirms Roswell Debris not from Earth"

I certainly expect such a headline to appear somewhere (if not already), and there would be nothing unusual if it did.

Below the headline you will then find quotes such as "Dr X, a leading scientist at such-and-such Institute today revealed that careful analysis showed the fragments have some unusual properties and could possibly have originated from space". Further on you would read that another scientist, "Dr Y, expressed certain misgivings about the analysis, but said the results were very interesting and aroused some curiosity among us as to the origin of the fragments".

This is exactly the sort of headline that attracts the reader but then fizzles out into a mixture of 'could be, might be, possibly, etc.'

In other words, it would turn out to be a completely useless article. One that promised so much (via its headline) but delivered so little.

That is why I agree with Lance that the upshot of all this scientific analysis, as far as establishing the ET connection, will be a big fat zero. And no, I am not even waiting for the results, even though I know that is the wrong attitude to take.

The tampered package, if it was indeed tampered with, does not concern me at all.

"In 1951 Gerald Heard wrote to tell me that he was coming across evidence of interference with letters of people corresponding with each other on the subject [of UFOs]". So wrote Waveney Girvan in his book "Flying Saucers and Common Sense", chapter 10, published 1955. Girvan, or Heard, was clearly implying the US Government was doing the 'interfering'.

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