Thursday, January 28, 2016

Chiles and Whitted Revisited

Although I was working on another project, this Chiles-Whitted thing is beginning to get out of hand, so I thought I’d just run through it again based on the Project Blue Book files, various newspaper reports from the time, and what has been said
Chiles' Drawing
about the case in the years since by a number of UFO writers. There has been some evolution in the sighting details over the years but I’m not completely sure the blame can be laid at the feet of Chiles or Whitted. Their statements, for the most part, have remained consistent.

According to the documentation, gathered in the hours after the sighting, Captain Clarence S. Chiles and John B. Whitted were flying an Eastern Airlines DC-3 at
Whitted's Drawing
about 5,000 feet, heading toward Atlanta. The night was clear and the moon was bright. They were twenty miles from Montgomery, Alabama, when Chiles saw a bright object in front of them. He tapped Whitted on the shoulder and told him that “Here comes a new Army jet job.” (It would seem that the glow of the jet engine would be what Chiles thought he saw and that would mean the aircraft was flying away from him but I digress.)

It appeared to them to be slightly above them and coming directly at them. It flashed by them on the right. Both Chiles and Whitted said that it was cylindrical in shape and that there was a double row of windows along the side. They thought it was about double the size of a B-29 fuselage in circumference and there was a long flame from the rear. As it passed them, one of the passengers, Clarence L. McKelvic, said that he saw a steak of light but no object. It seemed to climb into the clouds and disappear. The object was in sight for something like five or ten seconds.

Chiles called the company on the radio and asked if there was any other traffic in the area, meaning were there any aircraft near him. After they landed in Atlanta at 0349, they learned that the encounter had already been reported to the media. They were taken to radio station WCON and later were interviewed by William Key for the Atlanta newspaper. This provides a record of their descriptions within hours of the sighting.

The Air Force was impressed with the sighting. It might have been because both Chiles and Whitted had been military pilots during World War II. Chiles had been a lieutenant colonel and Whitted had been a first lieutenant. The report in the Project Blue Book files suggest that both were qualified observers, meaning that they were familiar with aircraft and had seen most of the natural phenomena that would be observed in the night sky.

At first the Air Force suggested a weather balloon but then switched to meteor. Chiles and Whitted both rejected the idea, explaining the object was much closer and much slower than a meteor. They also mentioned that they had to maneuver to avoid a collision. Although that information does not appear in the first official accounts, it was reported by Key in his first article. Chiles said, “We veered off to the left and the object veered off to the left.”

He also said, “There was no prop wash or rough air felt as it passed.”

In 1960, in a description of the sighting in a letter to ATIC dated February 17, an unidentified civilian wrote, “The UFO was now almost on top of them. Chiles rocked the DC-3 into a tight left turn. Just as the UFO flashed by about 700 feet to the right, the DC-3 hit turbulent air.”

In 1968, James McDonald interviewed Chiles. One of the points to come out of that was the idea that the object came out of a squall line. The weather that night was described as broken clouds in 4/10s of the sky. We are told that there was a bright moon and there is no mention of a squall line anywhere.

There was another sighting that took place about fifteen minutes earlier near Blackstone, VA. Captain Perry R. Mansfield and co-pilot Louis Feldvary on another flight saw only a streak of light that seemed to be heading west. It was in sight for only three seconds. The Air Force concluded, in 1948, after their investigation that this object was most probably a meteor, given the lack of detail and the brief length of time the object was in sight.

Donald Menzel, the Harvard astronomer and rabid debunker, reported that on the night of July 24, an amateur astronomer in Alabama counted fifteen meteors in a one-hour period. That was part of an annual meteor shower so the rate of meteors hitting the atmosphere was higher than non-shower times.

In the Blue Book files there is a note suggesting that this might be a meteor, though if it had maneuvered to avoid the aircraft, then it was not a meteor and it was under intelligent control. There was a suggestion that a passing of a meteor might produce a perceptual artifact such as the double row of windows, but that it was something to be left to the psychologists.

It turned out, based on other evidence, that such is the case. March 3, 1968, provided a textbook example. The Zond IV spacecraft reentered the atmosphere and broke up in a spectacular flaming display. Most people recognized it for what it was, but a few thought they had seen a cigar-shaped craft with windows along the side.
Zond IV Drawings

Taking this a step further are the videos that appear on YouTube. There are dozens that show meteors as they break up, often looking like a glowing cockpit with a stream of fragments behind it looking just like the lighted windows along a fuselage.

There are those who say that Chiles and Whitted could not have seen a meteor because it was traveling too slowly and it was much too low. They said that it disappeared into the clouds and though McDonald reported they had seen it come out of a squall line, that doesn’t seem to be accurate based on the weather data available.

An object seen against the night sky, through a broken cloud cover, can be quite deceptive. It can appear closer than it is, traveling at a slower speed then it was. Chiles thought the object passed within 700 feet of his aircraft but Whitted thought it was about 2500 feet away.

Their drawings of the object, other than the general shape, don’t match very well, given that they had about an hour to discuss this before the aircraft landed. Whitted said that he saw a double row of six windows and his illustration shows that arrangement. Chiles drawing has a different front end and no real windows like that of Whitted. Of course some of this is nitpicking, but then, the differences do suggest they weren’t actually seeing the thing the same way.

There is one other aspect that needs to be discussed and that is Walter Massey who was a ground maintenance crewman at Robins Air Force Base in Georgia. I mention this so that there will be no accusations of hiding information. I’m not sure it is relevant given the timing and the distance but the Air Force as well as other civilian investigators have suggested a connection.

At about 0140 or 0145, or about an hour before Chiles and Whitted had their sighting, Massey said that he had seen a stream of fire that he said, “…was a fairly clear outline and appeared to be cylindrical-shaped object, with a long stream of fire coming out of the tail end… I noticed a faint glow on the belly of the wingless object.” He said that he was sure it wasn’t a meteor.

Massey said that the trajectory of the object was more or less straight and level. He said that it was about the size of a B-29 and that the fuselage might have had a slightly larger circumference. It was too large for a jet.

But this was an hour before Chiles and Whitted and might not be related. By separating the sightings, the explanation becomes simpler. Two separate events. Linked, then you must ask what sort of meteor stays airborne for an hour.

Given all the information, given the description of the object and given the misidentification by some of the Zond IV reentry, I believe that a meteor, or rather a fireball (bolide), is the most likely answer. Or, as some others have pointed out, there is nothing to disqualify that as an answer. All the information suggests meteor (which I say at the risk of sounding like Philip Klass who invoked the
Meteors in Flight
meteor explanation frequently).


And yes, as far as I know, Chiles and Whitted never deviated from their original story and their original descriptions. They rejected the meteor theory from the moment they heard it. They were convinced they had seen some sort of craft that was not part of any countries aviation inventory and was therefore extraterrestrial in origin. For me, the answer seems to be a bolide, but then, you can argue that the experienced aviators wouldn’t have been easily fooled. You just have to pick the side where the evidence seems to be the strongest.

50 comments:

cda said...

In what way was the Chiles-Whitted story "getting out of hand"? Someone rather foolishly brought an Adamski photograph into it but apart from that, it appears to me that the ensuing discussion was on the right lines.

I recall, when reading decades ago about this case, that experienced airline pilots would surely have recognised a meteor if they saw one. Therefore, the argument went, the object could not have been a meteor. Simple, isn't it?

If only. You have brought up that the two pilots and the passenger did NOT all agree on certain aspects in their original reports. I'll bring up one other matter: a meteor is NOT the same as a fireball (i.e. a bright exploding meteor). The former would indeed be seen many times by pilots during their flying career; the latter is far more of a rarity and might be seen perhaps once in a lifetime. That, in a nutshell, is the difference.

Bob Koford said...

Though I understand the reason for the two posts, I respectfully suggest that, perhaps, a different case might better serve as an example of what you mean:

see: www.bluebookarchives.org to read the entire file

"On 20 September 1949, at approximately 1000 hours, an unidentified unconventional aircraft was sighted by WILLIAM E. ARCHBOLD, 1st Lt,. 16020A..." This took place in Manchester, New Hampshire and was almost certainly a meteor. 1st Lt. Archbold was considered beyond reproach, and he was convinced it was not any known "celestial object".

"ARCHBOLD estimated 10 miles as the point to point distance from his point of observation to the object. The missile was observed to be in a 45 to 60 degree dive, at an altitude of 3500 feet..."

He could tell this from 10 Miles? The point is that he only saw it for "one second" and yet described it as a "fuselage, silver in color, of an undetermined material." I had looked into this case when I was reviewing the Blue Book material regarding the Murray Meteor of 1950. I went back one year, and forward one year, and ran across this case.

Thanks again and Best Regards,
Bob

Larry said...

Part 1
Kevin:

What has been troubling me in the conversation thus far is that there has been no serious consideration of the physical properties of meteors. I would say even in Menzel’s time there was no serious attempt to match the observations the pilots offered with the known properties of meteors. In fact, the one thing that Menzel did say was factually wrong (i.e., that meteors heat up due to “air friction”). I’m an Aerospace Engineer, not a Meteoriticist, but one of my areas of technical speciality is atmospheric entry and I also have worked in the Planetary Defense program for the last 20 years or so, and therefore am pretty familiar with the phenomenology of naturally occurring bolides. So, with your permission, I would like to provide a discussion on the Physics of meteors, without the mathematics.

First, at the speeds that meteors enter the atmosphere (many 10s of km/sec) their trajectories are basically straight lines relative to the curvature of the Earth. (These trajectories are called “approach asymptotes” in the parlance of astrodynamics). When entering the atmosphere on an approach asymptote, meteors first start encountering enough atmospheric density to be self-luminescent at a density altitude around 75 miles. If you consider a hypothetical Earth-grazing approach asymptote that passed through a point about 1 mile above the Earth’s surface (where Chiles and Whitted were located) that line would extend approximately 750 miles from the point where it first became visible to its point of closest approach to the surface. This can be calculated by basic Trigonometry as simply the distance at which the curvature of the Earth falls away by 74 miles.

Why am I discussing an Earth-grazing trajectory? Because the pilots reported the object as travelling horizontally as it approached and passed by them. The only naturally occurring meteor trajectory that can do that is an Earth-grazing one. Now, it should be noted that Earth-grazing meteor trajectories are relatively rare; only about 4% of all meteors that enter the Earth’s atmosphere are in this category. 96% of all meteors that enter the Earth’s atmosphere are on an approach asymptote that would have them collide with the surface at high speed, if their trajectories were extended that far.

However, their trajectories do not—as a rule—extend that far. The vast majority of meteors disintegrate by the time they get down to a density altitude of 30 miles or so.

The reason for that is that the atmosphere is most dense at the Earth’s surface, tapering off exponentially to negligible values around a couple of hundred miles altitude. When a “space rock” (not a Meteoriticist term, of course) enters the atmosphere, it is moving from the top of the atmosphere toward the bottom of the atmosphere on a straight line and therefore encountering exponentially increasing density. The reason that meteors give off light is because of the extremely hot plasma sheath that is created when the ram air in front of the nose momentarily comes to a stop at the stagnation point. When it comes to a stop, it compresses. When it compresses, it heats up (exactly like the compression in a Diesel engine). At the hypersonic entry velocities of meteors, the black body temperature of the compressed air exceeds that of the surface of the Sun. The superheated compressed air forms a stable bubble (a “strong shock”) surrounding the nose and extending back around the body for a short distance. The proximity of this bubble of hot gas to the surface of the bolide starts boiling off the surface of whatever the bolide is made of. The vaporized particles trail off behind the bolide and leave an ionized, glowing trail. Often times the surface of the bolide ablates away at about the same rate at which heat is conducted back into the body and therefore the interior of the bolide never warms up very much. Some recently fallen meteor fragments that crack open on impact with the ground are found to be cold on the inside.

Larry said...

Part 2
The exact same compression that creates the luminescence also creates pressure on the nose of the bolide that results in a drag force that decelerates the bolide. This drag creates mechanical stress in the bolide due to inertia forces. The drag force is proportional to the atmospheric density at the altitude the bolide happens to be at. As we’ve said, atmospheric density increases exponentially with depth into the atmosphere. What this means is that when a natural meteor (below a critical size) comes into the atmosphere on a straight line trajectory it inevitably reaches a depth in the atmosphere where the inertia stress due to aerodynamic deceleration exceeds the load bearing strength of whatever the meteor is made of, and the meteor breaks apart. Rare exceptions to this would be objects that happen to enter very high in the atmosphere, in which case they would skip out without ever getting very deep or, very large objects

Once a meteor starts breaking apart, a chain reaction begins; each resulting piece is, of course smaller than the parent body. Each piece therefore immediately starts decelerating faster than the parent (due to the square-cube relation between surface area and volume) and experiences even higher stresses, and immediately breaks apart creating smaller pieces, etc. The catastrophic disintegration of a meteor that results in a fireball is not an explosion (as many lay persons erroneously think) it is an exponential disassembly due to aerodynamic forces.

Effectively, the atmosphere filters out meteors below a critical size and prevents them from getting low in the atmosphere while retaining any of their original approach velocity. The Planetary Defense community is arguing about exactly what that cutoff size is, but it seems to be somewhere below 50 meters. For example, the bolide that caused the high altitude disintegration at Chelyabinsk in Feb. 2013 was estimated to be about 17 meters in diameter and made it down to about 18 miles altitude before it disintegrated with an airburst yield of about half a megaton. The bolide that formed Barringer Crater (“Meteor Crater, Arizona”) was estimated to be 50 meters in diameter and it made it to the surface with a little over half its entry speed and deposited about 10 Megatons of energy to the ground. Since it lost about half its energy in the air, it would also have created about a 10 Megaton air blast.

So, the bigger the initial body is, the deeper it gets into the atmosphere before disintegrating. However, the bigger the body is, the rarer it is. For example, bolides of 5 meter diameter enter the Earth’s atmosphere only once a day, on the average, and they never make it deeper than about 30 miles altitude. The Chelyabinsk meteor of February, 2013 was about a once-in-a-century bolide. A bolide that could make it down to 1 mile altitude before disintegrating would be similar to the meteor that formed Barringer Crater, and would come along perhaps once in 100,000 years.

This is why I say that if the object passed by WHERE the pilots said it did (about 1000 to 4000 feet abeam their aircraft in their horizontal plane and therefore at about their altitude) it clearly was NOT a meteor. To a meteoriticist, the suggestion that it was, is absurd.

To be fair, much of the knowledge with which a modern Meteoriticist would approach this problem was not available to anyone attempting to explain the Chiles Whitted sighting in 1947. For example, the blunt body atmospheric entry theory that forms the basis for understanding the deposition of the kinetic energy of meteors in the atmosphere wasn’t discovered by Harvey Allen until 1952. Knowledge about the size and frequency distribution of meteor diameters didn’t come along until after the various space programs instituted observation programs for that purpose. High fidelity computational modeling of atmospheric didn’t come along until after the supercomputer. And so on.

Larry said...

Part 3
If you still want to make the observation into a meteor, there is the possibility that it was in their horizontal plane, but at an altitude where meteors can exist and be reasonably common—let’s say about 30 miles altitude. In order to be at that altitude AND be in their horizontal plane, it would have to have been about 600 miles away, off their starboard wing, at its point of closest approach. In this case, since the observers were at 1 mile altitude and the meteor would have been at 30 miles altitude, they would have been looking mostly horizontally through 600 miles of atmosphere. Recall that the horizontal visibility at the nearby airports was reported as about 7 miles (just barely above VFR minimums), so it is not obvious to me that they could have seen ANYTHING at that distance, whether there were clouds or not. However, there were clouds, and the object would have been BEHIND a 600 mile bank of clouds of 40% density. There would be virtually a 100% probability that the meteor would have been partially or wholly obscured as it passed BEHIND the clouds. There is no way the pilots could have mistaken that for an object that was UNDERNEATH the clouds and heading straight toward them.

Jim Robinson said...


One more thing: the meteor shower Don Menzel suggested as the culprit has a radiant in the southern sky, hence none of them could have been seen coming at the airliner head-on. Any Aquarids seen by the pilots would have been crossing their flight-path at roughly a 90 degree angle. Also, fireballs are very rarely seen in meteor showers.

Gilles Fernandez said...

Hello,

In my "big", extended and revised article devoted on the 1896/97 Airships wave, you will find some drawings of bolids/meteors where the so-called "airship effect" have probably been at play, echoing to Chiles' drawing (?).

It is here for those maybe interested: http://skepticversustheflyingsaucers.blogspot.fr/2014/01/cracking-189697-airships-mystery-toward_11.html

Regards,

Gilles

KRandle said...

Larry -

Your response is predicated on the theory that Chiles and Whitted accurately reported what they had seen... and if that is correct, then the meteor explanation clearly fails.

However, if there were perception problems, and a predisposition to seeing a structured craft, then it is possible that a bolide is the answer. By this I mean that Chiles' first reaction was that he was seeing an new Army jet aircraft. He was looking upward, through a partial overcast, that is 4/10s broken clouds, which could have affected his perception of the distance and the maneuvers of the craft. He thought it was coming at them and reacted by turning to the left to avoid a collision. If it was a bright meteor, then he had to make no maneuver because it was much higher and farther away than he thought. It's all a matter of perception and what he thought he was seeing, which could have been exactly what he reported...

As for the idea that the radiant of the meteor shower was in the wrong part of the sky and that meteor showers rarely produce bolides, I say that not all meteors during a shower come from the source of that shower, or from that particular radiant... or, in other words, this particular meteor was not part of the shower. Menzel was noting that there was a higher rate of meteors given the time... and please, I am no fan of Menzel since it is clear that he invented explanations to fit his bias.

Larry said...

Part1
Kevin:
First of all, a correction.

Above, I implied that the mean time interval between impacts of a meteor 50 meters in diameter was of the order of 100,000 years. That is incorrect, I wasn’t remembering the data correctly, so I went back and retrieved the model that we generated back in 2006, when I was participating in a study for NASA’s Program Analysis and Evaluation (PA&E) office. That model is a power law that estimates the probable cumulative number of NEOs of diameter D, or greater.

The relationship is N = 942D^-2.354.

What this says is basically that the number of objects of a given size gets greater with decreasing size by a factor greater than D squared. So, for example, the number of objects of 1 km diameter or more is 942 (in good agreement with the number of such objects discovered in NASA’s 20 year observation program). The number of objects of diameter 0.1 km is about 10,000,000. And so on.

As the number of objects in a given size class increases, the mean time between impacts of such objects goes down accordingly. This is why NEOs of 10 km diameter impact every 100 million years or so and NEOs of 1 meter diameter impact every year. For those who wish to do background reading on this, I would recommend, for example, Chapter 4 of the National Academy of Sciences report: Defending Planet Earth: Near Earth Object Surveys and Hazard Mitigation Strategies, paying particular attention to Figure 2.4. This figure summarizes the best current scientific consensus on the subject.

http://www.nap.edu/read/12842/chapter/4

When this simplified model is corrected for observational bias, it indicates that the mean time interval between impacts of a meteor 50 meters in diameter would be about 1,500 years. In other words, no one alive on the planet for the last 1,500 years would have had the chance to see a meteor that remained at hypersonic velocity and remained incandescent down to an altitude of 1 mile or less.

Second, with regard to your statement: “As for the idea that the radiant of the meteor shower was in the wrong part of the sky and that meteor showers rarely produce bolides, I say that not all meteors during a shower come from the source of that shower, or from that particular radiant... or, in other words, this particular meteor was not part of the shower.”

I agree that the whole discussion between Menzel and McDonald is a red herring. It neither proves nor disproves what Chiles and Whitted saw. Menzel’s statement that there was a meteor shower at the time is true. McDonald’s statement that the radiant was in the wrong part of the sky is also true. Your statement that not all meteors in the sky at the time of a shower come from a radiant is also true.

Basically, meteors come from two sources, comets and asteroids. Cometary meteors are associated with burnt out comet nuclei. As the comets approach the inner Solar system, they warm up, outgas and release their dust and gases into space around them. The dust diffuses out to very large distances and enters the atmosphere around the same time the burnt out nucleus makes a close pass of the Earth. Because there is a huge number of these very small particles they create a large spike in the number of observable but very tiny meteors—thus a shower. Because they are associated with a specific parent body, they appear to come from a specific radiant.

Asteroid meteors are planetesimals that are in relatively stable elliptical orbits around the Sun and whose orbits come in proximity to the Earth’s orbit. As discussed above, they come in a very large range of sizes and are distributed more or less randomly and can therefore enter the atmosphere at any time and from any apparent direction. So yes, there could have been (almost certainly were) asteroidal meteors in the sky unrelated to the shower.

Larry said...

Part 2
Third, your comment: “Your response is predicated on the theory that Chiles and Whitted accurately reported what they had seen... and if that is correct, then the meteor explanation clearly fails.”

Exactly. And I see no particular reason to question that they were accurate. It’s clear to me as a pilot and probably also to you that the pilots were flying at 5,000 feet under a cloud deck at 6,000 feet in order to maintain VFR conditions (i.e., 1,000 feet vertical separation when passing under clouds. As a student pilot I was taught to develop and practice a systematic scan habit for safety. The idea is to spend some time scanning the instrument panel to monitor flight conditions and system health and to spend most of the time with eyes outside the cockpit looking for traffic. Most of your attention should be spent looking horizontally forward at your own altitude because if there is going to be a mid-air collision, that is where it is most likely to come from. I have no reason to believe that Chiles and Whitted, as professional pilots, were doing anything else.

And finally: “… if there were perception problems, and a predisposition to seeing a structured craft, then it is possible that a bolide is the answer. By this I mean that Chiles' first reaction was that he was seeing an new Army jet aircraft. He was looking upward, through a partial overcast, that is 4/10s broken clouds, which could have affected his perception of the distance and the maneuvers of the craft. He thought it was coming at them and reacted by turning to the left to avoid a collision. If it was a bright meteor, then he had to make no maneuver because it was much higher and farther away than he thought. It's all a matter of perception and what he thought he was seeing, which could have been exactly what he reported...”

The idea that there were “perception problems, and a predisposition to seeing a structured craft” seems to me to be a totally ad hoc and baseless conjecture. It amounts to nothing more than you substituting your judgment for the pilots’ testimony.

Ditto for the conjecture that “…He was looking upward…”. Where in the record is that stated or implied? As I discussed above, that would be illogical since the highest priority for a VFR pilot is to see and avoid traffic closing at the same altitude on a reciprocal heading.

Moreover, moving the supposed meteor overhead instead of off to the side doesn’t solve the Geometry problem. If the meteor was at 20 or 30 mile altitude at closest approach and traversing 100s of miles of sky, it would still be seen moving behind the clouds, not underneath them.

I would urge you to draw a Geometrically accurate sketch or diagram, placing the “meteor” at realistic altitude, speed, and location. If you can come up with a solution that satisfies all of the constraints simultaneously, then I would be willing to concede you might have a point.

zoamchomsky said...

“perception problems, and a predisposition to seeing a structured craft”

Larry;

Kevin is right: the human perception, conception and reporting process is notoriously fallible. So much so that the "airship" or "rocketship" illusion is well known in "UFO" reporting. Moving, bright bits of fragmented meteors and reentering space junk against darkness are commonly misperceived and misinterpreted as the "windows" or "exterior lights" of fantastic rocketships and "flying saucers," or saucers flying "in formation."

http://files.ncas.org/condon/text/s6chap02.htm#S3

Not only is that overwhelming evidence of “perception problems, and a predisposition to seeing a structured craft,” as Kevin reports, "Chiles' first reaction was that he was seeing an new Army jet aircraft." So the pilots were entirely predisposed to interpreting what they would see as an aircraft.

Now, your assertion that what Chiles-Witted witnessed could NOT possibly have been a fireball--a bright but not necessarily large meteor--when two great astronomers, Menzel and Hartmann, accepted what we know after fifty years of experience is the most plausible explanation is not reasonable.

http://files.ncas.org/condon/text/s6chap02.htm#S3

cda said...

Zoam:

Yes I agree. However, recall that it was this very Chiles-Whitted sighting, by virtue of the vivid 'spaceship' description given by the pilots, that caused the creation of the infamous top secret "Estimate of the Situation" by a few USAF officers in 1948, a document that is still talked about, especially by the ETHers, as powerful evidence of the true leanings and beliefs of the early Project Sign gang.

It is this document that, again emphasised by the ETHers, General Vandenberg refused to sign and rejected.

So you can see how this one sighting greatly bolstered the spaceship theory in those early days. Ruppelt writes how the Chiles-Whitted case "shook them [ATIC] worse than the Mantell incident". It still 'shakes' some people to this day.

Don Maor said...

In his book Top Secret Magic, Stanton Friedman recalls his visit to Donald Menzel's archives in the university in which Menzel worked, and there Friedman saw documents showing Donald Menzel did secret work for the CIA and NSA. Menzel's opinion should therefore be highly dubious. He was most probably an insider being paid for covering up UFOs.

That reminds me of zoamchonsky being a material scientist who, for example, should know well (extremely well in fact), whether the properties reported for the materials recovered in Roswell are interesting or not. My point is: if Menzel was, as an astronomer, being paid for discrediting UFOs, can zoam be now, as a material scientist, being paid for discrediting Roswell and UFOs in general? Of course, we know for certain that zoamchomsky is highly dogmatic and rigid in his views, and that may mean he is just a fanatic extremist; but who knows.

Kevin, I know this is somewhat off-topic, but that is the way new ideas appear.

Brian Bell said...

Larry -

Twice in my lifetime I have seen bolder sized meteors falling in broad daylight. Once I have seen the very same thing at night.

No long trail of debris....nice slow descents....brilliant glow....rock seen tumbling and rotating....

If I used my imagination I could have envisioned these as spaceships....or crashing airplanes (which I did in the daylight episodes).

Alas just massive solid rocks burning up in the atmosphere and clearly very large in size.

Larry said...

Brian:

I don't know exactly what you mean by "boulder sized"--perhaps 1 meter in diameter? If so, then the scientifically accepted model would say that such objects enter the atmosphere once every day or so. So the probability is very high that you might see a few in your lifetime. By the way, how did you know they were boulder sized?

Did you read and comprehend my discussion, above about the relative frequency of meteors of different sizes? In spite of what people like Zoam think, I'm not making this up. The discussion I published is the scientific consensus of the small body planetary science community. It was published by the National Academy of Science, for chrissake! And I will repeat: much of the science that is known by the current meteorics community was not known by Menzel, Hartmann, or, for that matter, McDonald. What the model says is that even though you might see a few 1 meter sized bolides in a lifetime, you would most likely never see a 10 meter sized object. You would have to go 1500 years to see a 50 meter object.

I also don't know what you mean by "descent"--although that generally implies a downward trajectory. When meteors enter the atmosphere they are typically moving 3 to 4 times orbital velocity. Orbital velocity at low altitudes is roughly 8 km/s. When an object is moving at or above orbital velocity it can appear to be "flying" horizontally. It's not actually flying, of course; what's actually happening is that centrifugal force is overcoming the force of Earth's gravity. When it slows down below orbital velocity then it starts falling. It has to--Newton's laws. By definition, any object in Earth's atmosphere that is going less than orbital velocity is going to end up on the surface, even if in pieces. The pieces will end up descending vertically.

I don't doubt your sightings, I just don't see what you think they prove, relative to the Chiles-Whitted sighting.

KRandle said...

Don -

Do you have any evidence that Menzel "was most probably an insider being paid for covering up UFOs."

I think he thought of himself as the keeper of the flame of knowledge and saw UFOs as a retreat into the darkness. He held his views firmly and was not open to any dialogue about them. The fact he had connections into the intelligence community, especially during WW II is probably irrelevant. All you really have is speculation without a solid base.

cda said...

Kevin:

I am pretty sure Don is an MJ-12 believer (OK maybe fence sitter). In which case he will readily accept anything pointing to Menzel being a UFO ETH 'insider', such as might be suggested in those papers dug up by Stan Friedman (a known UFO conspiracist). So, yes Don's ideas are based on this. But he can speak for himself, of course.

And yes, Menzel wrote 3 books debunking UFOs, but all the while he knew the dreaded 'truth', just like all those other MJ-12 members. And away we go...

Larry said...

Zoam:

The main point of your comments above is to provide support to the idea that people’s perception can be tricked by illusions produced by meteors. Hartmann discusses two illusions actually. One is the illusion that a large distant object can be mistaken for a small, nearby object when there are no other visual cues in the sky (as when the sky is very dark and very clear). The other illusion is that a point source (i.e., the meteor nucleus) that is trailing a luminescent wake can be mistaken for a cigar shaped extended object with surface structure (i.e., windows). I get it; I’m not disputing the idea.

However, the fact that a particular kind of illusion CAN occur with some observers and some meteors is in no way proof, or even evidence, that it DID occur in the Chiles-Whitted case. That is basically just conjecture. The fact that it CAN occur means that it also CAN NOT occur in some cases. How do you know that the Chiles-Whitted case isn’t one of those where it didn’t?

I don’t see any way to provide any additional evidence to support your (and Kevin’s, and Menzel’s, and Hartmann’s) conjecture at this late date. However, the conjecture is Popper falsifiable. That is, if the conjecture is false, it can be shown to be false. And knowledge is thereby advanced. That’s all I’m trying to do. As someone who is always prattling on about null hypotheses and falsifiability, you should welcome this approach.

Over at Rich’s blog site you accused me of taking “…the most plausible explanation for a “UFO” report and turn(ing) it into the least plausible using a lot of make-it-up sciency-sounding mumbo-jumbo to justify (my) predetermined conclusion..”

First of all, I am not the one who has a predetermined conclusion, you are. Your conclusion is that it is a meteor causing an illusion. I am simply inquiring into whether that conjecture is falsifiable. The only preconception I have going in is that if it is a meteor, then it must obey the laws of physics that all meteors are known to obey. Your accusation in this regard is a pretty good example of the psychological phenomenon of “projection”. You are attributing to others the unpleasant impulses that you yourself experience. It is a pretty common ego defense mechanism.

Second, I did not make up “sciency-sounding mumbo jumbo”; that statement is bullshit on every count. I didn’t make anything up. Every physical principle and effect that I discussed was put into the consensus scientific knowledge base by someone else. I have simply come along and learned it through years spent in graduate school and decades spent as a professional aerospace engineer. It’s not “sciency”; it’s actual science created by actual card-carrying scientists who have spent entire careers in research and have put their findings through peer review. And it’s not mumbo-jumbo, except perhaps to an uninformed idiot. To a person who is ignorant of the physics behind a phenomenon, everything about it may seem like magic or a miracle.

KRandle said...

Larry -

I almost deleted your comment based on a single word and while that word has appeared on this blog before, it was in a much different arena. Yes, I'm splitting a fine hair, but I ask you to clean up the language. Thanks.

Don Maor said...

Kevin wrote:

"Don -Do you have any evidence that Menzel "was most probably an insider being paid for covering up UFOs."

I think he thought of himself as the keeper of the flame of knowledge and saw UFOs as a retreat into the darkness. He held his views firmly and was not open to any dialogue about them. The fact he had connections into the intelligence community, especially during WW II is probably irrelevant. All you really have is speculation without a solid base."


Kevin, you really sound like it is very unlikely that there was someone paid by the government to do the task of discrediting the UFO reports. Is that really unlikely for you, an author of a book in which the cover says "the conspiracy of cover-up"?

Menzel is a clear suspect here. He wrote three strange and extremist anti-UFO books, he had ties CIA and NSA, which were not known until Friedman researched Menzel after the appearance of the Eisenhower Briefing Document. Yes I know that you regard the EBD as "nonsense" and I am not sure about its authenticity, but it is known that some information on the document was correct even if the document is regarded as a hoax.

Rusty Lingenfelter said...

@Larry, it certainly should not be surprising that pseudoskeptics begin with a conclusion and are comfortable with any conjecture as long as it supports that conclusion. That conjecture can be based on the thinnest of evidence or no evidence at all as long as the conjecture favors the mundane. It shouldn't be surprising that individuals who lack the conviction of their beliefs to even supply their own name would limbo under the lowest intellectual bar. Before one of our pseudoskeptical giants quotes Sagan concerning "extraordinary claims..." let me say, he was a smart man, not infallable and that statement was an opinion. Also before they quote Ockham, they should at least learn and understand what he said. The pseudoskeptical conjecture typically requires more assumptions than alternative propositions. That fanatical Mogulites are a great example. With that said, I don't think CW saw anything ET. I think it was fantastic and unusual, but not ET. That is my opinion based on an fairly extension review of the limited facts available.

zoamchomsky said...

What I actually said elsewhere:

"One of Larry’s favorite tricks is to take the most plausible explanation for a “UFO” report and turn it into the least plausible using a lot of make-it-up sciency-sounding mumbo-jumbo to justify his predetermined conclusion.

"The reality is that every random event is so fraught with contingencies that no amount of would-be, could-be, should-be guesswork can ever account for ALL events—and much less show that a unique event is unlikely.

"We know for a fact that meteors can and often do travel horizontally. Meteors can exhibit any behavior. Meteors can and have in recent time circled the Earth before exploding or returning to space. So the idea that Chiles-Whitted could NOT have witnessed such a common event [as an ordinary fireball during a known meteor shower] is ridiculous."

Larry; You're not fooling anyone. You're not offering a positive falsification of the nullification process; you're simply doing the well-known pseudoscientific-contrarian act of making a "contradictory argument."

Your "predetermined conclusion" is to be contrary to the most plausible and completely mundane explanation--even though the case has been settled for decades--because your wish, your pretense is to have the case "unidentified."

Your MO is to play Mr Wizard and give us a science lesson in meteoritics--even though it's mostly tangential to the mundane realities of the Chiles-Witted case, ie, you're ignoring the obvious. All of your information may be correct but it's the purpose to which you employ it that makes it "sciency-sounding mumbo-jumbo." It's just a diversion, it's smoke and mirrors--that changes nothing and proves nothing--that forms your "contrarian argument" concluding in "the most plausible is NOT plausible," which is ridiculous.

And finally, you, Larry, appeal to your own authority as a former aerospace engineer, which would be legitimate except that you're not speaking or behaving as such, you're speaking and behaving like a hardcore ETHer, using the same MO we've seen over the years from other ETHers.

That should be the subject: Why you do it? Why do you even bother when it accomplishes nothing, changes nothing; the fireball explanation is still the most plausible by far--a near certainty. But I think cda has given us the answer. (g)

KRandle said...

Don -

This isn't about a campaign by a specific individual who was on the government payroll to debunk UFOs, but about whether you have any evidence that Menzel was one of those people. Other than the nonsensical EBD, there is nothing to suggest that Menzel was on the payroll... He was given great access to the Blue Book files but that can be explained by his debunker campaign. He was saying what the Air Force wanted the general public to believe, but it seems to be more about his rage that people would believe these sorts of things than something motivated by the government.

I didn't say that there weren't people paid to do this... just look at the last officers to lead Project Blue Book. Air Force officers who might have been selected, partially because of their anti-UFO beliefs rather than anything else.

But the real point is that you have no evidence that Menzel was anything but a self-appointed keeper of the truth.

And though it has nothing to do with the Chiles=Whitted sighting, I will say that there is a fatal flaw in the EBD and that is the El Indio UFO crash. It never happened and if it didn't happen, that destroys the EBD and MJ-12.

KRandle said...

Rusty -

Technically, Chiles and Whitted did see and extraterrestrial object, it just wasn't a manufacture object. Sorry, I just couldn't help myself. I think that the solution to the case is very clear and it has nothing to do with alien visitation.

David Rudiak said...

(Part 1 of 3)
I have been following the two Larry's comments (Larry L. and Larry R.) about how there are many problems with a meteor hypothesis. Here are some more. As Larry L. points out, what Chiles and Whitted described does NOT fit any plausible meteor scenario.

First of all, if you try to imagine Larry's best-case scenario of where a sizable fragmenting "meteor" would be seen by the pilots as being on a LEVEL collision course, then seem to pull up as it passed on the right (as observed by copilot Whitted) when Chiles swerved the plane left to avoid collision, you encounter a number of logical contradictions. Larry postulated a large meteor on an earth-grazing course starting to glow about 75 miles up 200+ miles away and slowly descending to C-W altitude (5000 feet) as it approached to maintain appearances of head-on collision. A large, long-duration (at least 5-20 seconds depending on witness report) meteor like this would disintegrate or blow up long before it reached C-W. It would also have been widely seen and heard as it entered the lower atmosphere (think of the recent Chelybinsk bolide which visibly lasted about 15 sec), lighting up the ground like daylight, creating sonic booms, if not a thunderous explosion as it came apart (Chelybinsk detonated with the energy of about a half megaton H-bomb). Nor was a prominent smoke trail ever described with C-W, what such a meteor necessarily would have left behind.

Further, to appear to be on a direct collison course, or on C-W’s heading, the meteor would also necessarily have had to pass near or over several cities, including Atlanta and Montgomery, AL. Even late at night, such a rare and spectacular meteor should have attracted SOME attention with all its necessary physical effects. Never happened.

Contrarily, if you try to imagine the meteor staying high (tens of miles up) to avoid ground sound and inevitable destruction from penetrating the thick lower atmosphere, it should NOT have appeared to be on a collision course. E.g. suppose it lasted a nominal 10 seconds and was traveling at least ~20 miles/sec (as would necessarily be the case for a meteor approaching from the NE, adding both earth escape velocity of 7 mi/sec and orbital velocity of 11 mi/sec plus some sun gravitational velocity). Say it was first spotted at 200 miles, then the pilots got worried 5 seconds later of collision at 100 miles distance with the meteor still about 50 miles high. The problem here is the meteor instead of appearing to be head-on would appear to be rising higher in angular elevation (going from roughly the horizon to 30 degrees above the horizon). As it got closer, it would continue to increase rapidly in angular elevation because of perspective. The pilots should have perceived the meteor being well ABOVE them and NOT on a collision course.

Chiles swerving the plane left would NOT have created the effect Whitted observed of the object noticeably rising as it passed to their right. Instead, the right wing would have risen as they swerved left, and although the meteor would have continued to rise from perspective, the swerving would have dampened the perceived perspective rise, NOT exaggerated it so that Whitted would have thought the object clearly rising up as it passed them on the right.

The whole "fragmenting meteor" scenario derives almost entirely from a handful of anecdotal eyewitness reports, out of probably hundreds, of others of events (brought up by Hartmann in the Condon Report and Menzel in “UFOs: A Scientific Debate). One example involved a mass sighting of a trail of glowing space debris from a reentering Zond IV in 1968 being perceived by two people as a craft with glowing windows. Another mentioned by Hartmann was the 1913 mass sighting of the so-called Chance meteor train, in which ONE whole person reported a craft with a double row of “windows” (thus closer to C-W) Thus only a few percent of all such reports gets turned into 100% of such UFOs with glowing “windows” being explained by meteors.

David Rudiak said...

(part 2/2)

This gets real problematical when you consider that part of the reason Project Sign took the C-W sighting so seriously was that (quite unknown to C-W and 4 days before), ANOTHER sighting of a high-speed, rocket-shaped UFO with a double-deck of glowing “windows” or ports had taken place over the Hague, Denmark. Even if you assume C-W influenced one another, what are the odds of two completely INDEPENDENT events days apart with the SAME RARE description both being caused by these exceedingly RARE fragmenting meteor trains? The odds are pretty damn low.

The problems continue to grow when you factor in another witness mentioned briefly by Kevin, Walter Massey, of a very similar object, but a full hour BEFORE, from Robins AFB in Georgia. Massey was a ground-maintenance crewman on fire watch and was quite certain about the time because he had to log his time of observation of a plane. Kevin suggests they were two completely separate events, but then you get again into the extreme improbability of two very similar descriptions of two completely different things happening so close together in time and space. The only thing missing from the Massey report was the “windows”, but Massey, when asked about this, himself noted he observed the glowing, fat, cylindrical object trailing flames from underneath where “windows” would not have been visible, whereas C-W observed it from the side. But if it was a fragmenting meteor train, it wouldn’t have made any difference.

Others, like original Sign investigators or Martin Shough (who likewise favors the misperception of a fragmenting meteor, but also realizes there are problems with it, such as the time discrepancies), proposes maybe a time zone reporting problem, with both C-W and Massey seeing the same object from different perspectives.

(see Shough’s writeup and analysis with useful map of witness locations: )

www.nicap.org/reports/480724montgomery_shough.pdf

But even if you assume that, that doesn’t begin to resolve the problems. Massey said he saw the object approach from the north, pass “OVERHEAD”, and depart to the SW, suggesting a clear change of course. Even if you assume this was a misunderunderstanding, with the object first being seen north (not approaching from the north) and on a SW course the entire time, it would have had to pass very LOW “overhead” to have been on an intercept course with C-W, begging the question why Massey would use the word “overhead”, which usually implies very high in the sky, not closer to the horizon.

Check out Shough’s map. C-W were about 20 miles SW of Montgomery, AL, headed towards Atlanta, about 170 miles to the NE. Massey at Robins AFB would have been about 160 miles E to ENE of C-W and 90 miles S of Atlanta. If Massey literally meant the object approached from the N, passed high overhead, and departed to the SW, there would be no way this could have been the same object at the same time as C-W seen to approach C-W on a course straight to Atlanta. However, it could have been the same object seen at DIFFERENT times if it WASN’T a meteor.

There are other problems with a meteor hypothesis. Again check out Shough’s writeup & map. Two other sets of witnesses were plane crews in South Carolina/Virginia about 400-500 miles away, who at about 2:30 saw a streak of bright light going very fast to their SW near or somewhat above the horizon, or in the direction of where C-W reported their encounter at 2:45. There is again a discrepancy of time, which Shough tries to heal by saying C-W delayed reporting their . Even assuming that, this just makes the discrepancy in time with the Massey sighting worse, not better, even assuming a one hour time zone mistake. (1:40-1:50 AM or 2:40-2:50 if you assume a time mixup) To try get around this, Project Sign just assumed the two airline reports where of an actual meteor fireball, not what C-W or what Massey saw (which they lumped together).

David Rudiak said...

(3/3)

On the other hand, if all the witnesses were seeing a controlled object zipping around hither and yonder, it is easier to reconcile the discrepancies in the reports in times, elevations, and directions. There are similar cases of an ovoid UFO trailing flames to the Chiles-Whitted one, where witnesses in widely differing places and times saw what is apparently the same object. One which I stumbled across from June 24, 1950, I have studied in great detail because it was seen over a four-state area over at least an hour of time, from southern California/Nevada up through northern Nevada. It was seen from the air by at least 5 civilian plane crews plus passengers, 2 military plane crews, from the ground by dozens of pilots and CAA control operators, and at least hundreds of other ground witnesses. It was described changing direction by numerous witnesses, in particular leaving a huge spiral trail visible for several hundred miles, even seen flying in giant circles. Details at: www.roswellproof.com/UFO_CalNev_1950.html.

Researchers like Brad Sparks wrote me he thought it a meteor (just like C-W), but I just don’t see how this is possible given the VERY long duration of the sighting (hour total and minutes by individual observers) and the descriptions (particularly the very marked changes in direction—reversing direction, darting back & forth, flying in circles, dipping down then back up again, going west, then departing to the north). In addition, this sighting was accompanied by numerous others from the same night. As soon as this one ended in northern Nevada (with the object last seen headed north), another series of fireballs were sighted in central (Modesto, Fresno) and northern California (San Jose), but traveling south, the first sightings happening within minutes of the end of the major one in Cal/Nev. This also came on the heals of a well-known sighting in UFO literature at Hamilton Field north of San Francisco, on June 21, 1950. At 1:35 am, three control tower operators reported seeing a circular UFO emitting a bright blue flame with a thunderous roar making several passes over the base and control tower. The fireball sighting from San Jose 3 nights later had the witnesses also reporting a loud roar. Exactly 2 hours later, near Bakersfield, CA, a judge reported seeing two UFOs fly overhead with a loud roaring sound (the roaring sound also heard by others nearby), one large and circular, the other smaller and elliptical, flying acrobatics around it.

There were also other very strange fireball and other UFO sightings in the previous and following days (see my writeup for details), including another mass sighting over the southern U.S. exactly one day before the June 24 one, also with reported anomalies (“looping”, spiral trail).

If you treat all these sightings in complete isolation, then “meteor fireball” might seem like a reasonable prosaic explanation, at least for a FEW of the sightings, but certainly not all. You further run into the conundrum of why there should be such a heavy concentration if such rare meteor fireball sightings in such a short period of time. Invoking too many improbable “coincidences” make for a poor prosaic explanation.

I think we run into the same problem with the C-W sighting. Trying to pound too many round pegs into small square holes to make a fragmenting meteor explanation work makes for a poor theory.

David Rudiak said...

I just wrote:
"Another mentioned by Hartmann was the 1913 mass sighting of the so-called Chance meteor train, in which ONE whole person reported a craft with a double row of “windows” (thus closer to C-W)."

Before someone else takes me to task, this should have been the "Chant", not "Chance" meteor train, which has its 103rd anniversary tomorrow (Feb. 9). "Chant" was Canadian astronomer Clarence A. Chant, who did the first collection of reports (over 100), mostly from newspapers, and wrote up the results. Good summary report here:

http://www.pa.msu.edu/people/smith/feb1913.pdf

Originally Chant was able to establish the train of meteors (or whatever) was seen over at least a 2500 mile track, from central Canada and the Great Lakes region to at least Bermuda. Later research revealed sailing ship reports over the Atlantic clear to South America (about 5000 miles), and still more recent research has extended the ship reports into the south Atlantic, about 7000 miles, with the "meteor train" still going strong.

It remains an unprecedented display, for which the article indicates there is still a great deal of controversy, with various famous astronomers sniping at one another over what it really represented. Charles Fort also got into the act, writing about it back in 1919 in "Book of the Damned" and (naturally) thought the meteor explanation inadequate, instead proposing a fleet of ET spaceships.

The center of the sightings was near Toronto, in which rumbling sounds were also heard (indicating some of the objects had to approach within 25 to 30 miles of the surface and perhaps detonating, otherwise nothing would have been heard--relevant to the Chiles-Whitted case in which NOTHING seems to have been heard).

In case you think Fort was way off the mark, the article also mentions something similar to a modern UFO report from Toronto, the very next day in broad daylight, when multiple DARK objects in formation were seen flying eastward over Lake Ontario, then returning:

"Prof. Chant says that, according to the Toronto Daily Star, unknown objects, but dark objects this time, were seen at Toronto, in the afternoon of the next day
—‘not seen clearly enough to determine their nature, but they did not seem to be clouds or birds or smoke, and it was suggested that they were airships cruising over the city.’ Toronto Daily Star, February 10 —‘They passed from west to east, in three groups, and then returned west in more scattered formation, about seven or eight in all.’”

Another astronomer weighing in, connected to UFO research, was Dr. Lincoln LaPaz. Working in conjunction with LaPaz was Alexander D. Mebane of NY City, who greatly extended Chant's initial newspaper survey, and found 27 additional reports, extending sightings into the U.S. northeast, previously lacking. Add to those the ship sightings found in logs and Chant's original 100+ reports, there were probably close to 150 reports found.

Now out of ALL of those, one and only one came close to describing what Chiles-Whitted described:

"a large airplane or dirigible with two tiers of lights strung along the sides"

This was point about such descriptions being RARE, yet we had three such descriptions in four days in 1948: Chiles-Whitted, where both pilots reported the double row of windows or ports (and the object being rocket-shaped, glowing blue, and trailing a red flame), and the completely independent sighting over the Hague. That just seems way too improbable that two such independent sightings of already a very rare natural phenomenon would produce nearly identical descriptions.

Larry said...

Zoam:

Please explain where your statement, "...Meteors can exhibit any behavior. Meteors can and have in recent time circled the Earth before exploding or returning to space...." comes from.

Are you saying that you have seen this happen? Are you saying that there is an authenticated example of this happening? If so, where and when? How about a reference? Or are you saying that you imagine this can happen?

Consensus science would say that meteors can't exhibit any old behavior that you might want them to exhibit. Actually, they obey the laws of Newtonian mechanics.

cda said...

DR:

Minor correction. The Hague is in Holland, not Denmark.

The answer to the likelihood of two independent witnesses describing rows of 'windows' depends on whether one witness (i.e. one of Chiles and Whitted) had known of the sighting over The Hague. We cannot say with certainty, but I'll assume they did not know of it. It also depends on whether either object was seen by others who did not report it because to them it did not seem strange, i.e. they did not witness the cigar shape or the windows. We simply do not know how many persons in total saw either object. We only know the number who reported them publicly.

Comparing it to the case of 1913, when only one witness saw the so-called 'windows' is likewise dubious. The reason being that in 1948 people in the US were getting geared towards believing in 'flying saucers' as spaceships (including some in Project Sign). The 1947 flap had died out but it was still in peoples' minds (I do not know about Holland or the rest of Europe). Psychology DOES play an important part in what people see, or rather what they think they see. In 1913 people's minds were NOT leaning towards ETs but more likely towards airships. Would this have also caused witnesses to interpret a bright fireball as having 'portholes' or 'windows', or not? Did airships have windows?

Anyway, food for thought. But a bit more complicated than simple.

[I expect a certain Nitram Ang will now add his worthy comments here].

zoamchomsky said...

Larry;

We all know of the Great Daylight Fireball of 1972, an Earth-grazer that returned to space. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1972_Great_Daylight_Fireball

Then there's the 1996 Southwest fireball that orbited the Earth before reentering and exploding over Southern California. http://www.meteorobs.org/maillist/msg01861.html

And a similar 2012 British fireball circled the Earth, reentered and exploded over Northern California and Nevada.
http://lunarmeteoritehunters.blogspot.com/2012/09/breaking-news-uk-earth-hugging-asteroid.html

Given the great range of size, shape, composition, trajectory and speed, the behavior of meteors is not completely predictable. Certainly meteors obey the law of gravity. But trying to conclude that a unique, random fireball-like event full of contingencies was NOT a fireball--based on inherently fallible human perception, conception and reporting--is not constructive.

zoamchomsky said...

“That just seems way too improbable that two such independent sightings of already a very rare natural phenomenon would produce nearly identical descriptions.”

If fireballs aren’t really rare and appear much the same in full-blown display—a green head with yellow-orange flames inside a glowing nebulous trail--then human beings in the 20th century—predisposed to interpreting flying things in a few basic models of structured aircraft—are going to make similar fantastic descriptions: a glowing cigar shape with a row of lights; a rocket ship with a line of windows that was riveted together; a “flying saucer” with a row of flashing lights around it!

Here’s one interpretation of confirmed space-junk reentry.

http://www.nuforc.org/index_files/image024.jpg

And something like what he saw.

http://www.slate.com/content/dam/slate/blogs/bad_astronomy/2013/11/01/iss_ATV4_reentry.jpg.CROP.original-original.jpg

David Rudiak said...

Maybe we should add another well-known airline sighting of this period, where both pilots reporting "ports" or "windows" or whatever emitting light. This occurred March 20, 1950.

At about 9:30 p.m., Cpt. Jack Adams (with 7000 hours flying experience) and co-pilot C.W. Anderson were flying west from Memphis, Tenn. to Houston, Tex., and were near Stuttgart, Ark. Adams spotted an unusual bright light to his left, or south, and called Anderson's attention to it. It had a VERY bright, rapidly strobing light on top, unlike anything Adams had previously seen. They watched it for about 20-30 seconds before it flew north across their path, about an estimated 1000 feet above them and 1000-1500 feet in front at an estimated 500-600 mph. As it flew over their path, they could make out a definite circle of lights, 8-10, on the edge or bottom, an estimated 100 feet across, emitting strong bluish-white or "fluorescent" light that seemed to come from the inside of whatever it was that they saw. They called them ports or portholes and said they resembled lighted windows on a plane. (NOTE: Chiles-Whitted gave the same description of the light from their "ports" or "windows".) Another newspaper description by Adams of what he saw was that it looked like a giant pinwheel.

Adams commented he thought the object solid because the brilliant top strobe was blocked from view as it flew across and over their path, but came back into view as it flew past and beyond. Anderson said it was unlike anything either pilot had ever seen before. Adams didn't know what it was, but it was unlike any plane and came closest to the description of a flying saucer. Adams thought it was definitely under controlled flight, maintaining a constant altitude and course.

This was another very well-publicized sighting, and even caught the attention of Eleanor Roosevelt, who interviewed Adams and Anderson on her TV show. You can find a transcript of that interview and a newspaper article on the sighting at Grant Cameron's Presidential UFO website:

http://www.presidentialufo.com/old_site/eleanor_ufo_interest.htm

A text transcript can also be found on the SaturdayNightUforia website, along with an old newsreel, with a drawing by Adams/Anderson, and some of their opinions:

http://www.saturdaynightuforia.com/html/articles/articlehtml/saucsum5.html

Ruppelt also commented (see Chapt. 6 in his book) on the sighting, saying he had a "bull session" in 1953 with a group of airline pilots on their UFO sightings, one commenting that Adams was an extremely conservative guy, and if he said the object had a circle of glowing portholes, that it what it was. The pilot was commenting on some "red hot" Air Force investigator (during Project Grudge days) that had met Adams in Memphis and tried to convince him he had seen a meteor.

I concur. It is hard if not impossible to reconcile the details of this sighting with any sort of meteor (though no doubt some here may try). Even ignoring everything else, has a "meteor train" or re-entering space debris ever been reported as appearing circular or having a brilliant, rapidly strobing light? You have some of the same reported details as Chiles-Whitted: about the same speed, the same close distance, and multiple glowing "portholes" seeming to emit a bright, bluish-white light from within. Like with Chiles & Whitted, Adams & Anderson had no doubt they had seen a "controlled aircraft of some type", (though Adams thought it man-made).

Again I want to point out the meteor trains are quite RARE, and so are reports of witnesses that such trains look like flying craft with windows or ports. Trying to turn very rare events with very rare reports into a conclusive prosaic ID for all such cases seems like one is brushing off the great improbability of what is being proposed.

KRandle said...

All -

Here's a question that has been ignored. Look at the two illustrations by Chiles and Whitted and tell me if there are of the same object. Looking at them carefully and with an attempt to be dispassionate about this, I have to say it looks as if they were drawing different craft... oh, the general shape is the same, well sort of, but they don't really look like each other.

Larry said...

Zoam:

The reason I asked for a reference is not because I doubt that Earth grazing meteors exist. I saw one myself one particularly dark night in the Australian outback. Nor do I doubt that a small fraction of Earth grazers can lose just enough velocity on their pass through the atmosphere to put them on a trajectory that comes back and enters the atmosphere one orbit later. As Mark Boslough (the author of one of you references) observed, that phenomenon is actually predicted by classical Newtonian orbital mechanics. So the fact that it has now been observed a couple of times is actually validation of modern meteor modeling science; it is not—repeat, not—evidence that there is something mysterious and magical going on with meteors.

If someone actually reads and comprehends your references, it can be seen that they actually refute your rather preposterous and silly statement “…Meteors can exhibit any behavior…” I wanted you to present your references in order to see if there was even a scintilla of evidence in there to support your conclusion, and of course there was not. All the examples you reference are simply instances of a meteoroid entering the atmosphere and burning out at high altitude.

The idea that “…Meteors can exhibit any behavior…” is actually an example of magical thinking and is the centerpiece of your argument. You need to be able to invoke this fictitious piece of claptrap specifically so that you can avoid the need to go through the rigorous scientific process of figuring out, quantitatively what it would take for a meteor to be at the altitude and flight path angle that Chiles and Whitted said it was.

The essence of my argument remains that Chiles and Whitted placed the location of the incandescent object that passed off their right wing as being on a horizontal straight line trajectory, on a reciprocal heading, and underneath the cloud deck at approximately their altitude (5000 ft). They also say the duration of the encounter was about 10 to 15 seconds.


As I discussed above, the minimum speed for a meteor to be seen on a horizontal flight path is about 8 km/s. The nominal minimum atmospheric entry speed for meteors derived from asteroidal sources is about 20 km/s. So the Chiles Whitted meteor would have to have retained about 40% of its cosmic entry speed to be both self luminescent and “flying” horizontally. Such a meteor would be in the same category as the one that formed the Barringer crater in Arizona. That would be a very extraordinary event. Where is your extraordinary evidence?

zoamchomsky said...

Chiles and Whitted's drawings "don't really look like each other."

Good point! Just as the two drawings of the Zond IV reentry you provided "don't really look like each other."

The fallibility of human perception, conception and reporting, and the power of the "airship effect" confirmed once again.

zoamchomsky said...

DR;

Every minute, somewhere in the world, a baseball-sized object falls from space, that's large enough to create a fireball. Several times a week, it’s a basketball-sized object. Dozens of times a year—50 to 100—it’s a desk-sized object. And about once a month, or even many times that number, the object is about the size of a house, that explodes in the upper atmosphere with the energy of a small nuclear detonation. Fireballs aren't rare in the least, they're actually quite common.

DSP satellites discovered this decades ago. This discovery also debunked the so-called “fastwalkers.” They’re nothing but upper-atmosphere grazing meteoroids.

http://www.nytimes.com/1994/01/25/science/meteoroids-hit-atmosphere-in-atomic-size-blasts.html?pagewanted=all

David Rudiak said...

Larry challenged Zoam:
Please explain where your statement, "...Meteors can exhibit any behavior. Meteors can and have in recent time circled the Earth before exploding or returning to space...." comes from.

Are you saying that you have seen this happen? Are you saying that there is an authenticated example of this happening? If so, where and when? How about a reference? Or are you saying that you imagine this can happen?


To which Zoam responded:
We all know of the Great Daylight Fireball of 1972, an Earth-grazer that returned to space. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1972_Great_Daylight_Fireball

Yes, we all know of this fireball, which did NOT circle the Earth before returning to space, thus a non-example in support of your claim. Larry stated upfront that a small percentage of meteors were such Earth-grazers, and for Chiles-Whitted’s object to be a meteor, it would necessarily have to be an Earth-grazer to have any chance to be perceived by C-W as on a horizontal collision course coming straight at them.

Then there's the 1996 Southwest fireball that orbited the Earth before reentering and exploding over Southern California. http://www.meteorobs.org/maillist/msg01861.html

Except, this was nothing more than a THEORY, never proven. In fact, with further study, the two scientists who proposed the theory RETRACTED it and concluded this was nothing more than a coincidence. (Maybe our “scientific” skeptic Zoam should have done more than a 1 minute Google search.)

http://www.sandia.gov/media/meteor.htm

“...The relationship among the times, locations, and trajectories of the meteors seemed too unlikely to be mere coincidence, and had initially led some scientists to believe that a single object skimmed through the atmosphere and re-entered after a single orbit. After careful analysis of a video tapes... together with eyewitness reports, Mark Boslough of Sandia National Laboratories and Peter Brown of the University of Western Ontario found that the first meteor entered at too steep of an angle to skip off the atmosphere. They are now convinced that the two fireballs observed over New Mexico/Texas and over California were two different objects.

So again, NOT a supporting example.

And a similar 2012 British fireball circled the Earth, reentered and exploded over Northern California and Nevada. http://lunarmeteoritehunters.blogspot.com/2012/09/breaking-news-uk-earth-hugging-asteroid.html

Again, initially nothing but a theory by one or two people, quickly DISPROVEN within a month by more careful analysis of the data by others (URL link title says it all):

http://www.universetoday.com/97756/recent-uk-fireball-could-not-have-skipped-around-the-world-new-analysis-says/

So once AGAIN, not a supporting example. Three strikes and Zoam’s out. I’m still waiting for the SCIENCE in Zoam’s “scientific” skepticism.

It certainly seems remotely possible that a meteor coming in at exactly the right angle and slowed by a first encounter with Earth’s atmosphere could temporarily skip out and take up a short-term orbit around the Earth, but Zoam’s examples were NOT examples. Zoam’s claim remains unproven. It also has only a tangential (pun not intended) relevance to the Chiles-Whitted sighting (but probably bears on the 1913 Chant 7000 mile “meteor procession”, which still hasn’t been fully explained).

David Rudiak said...

Kevin wrote: “I have to say it looks as if they were drawing different craft... oh, the general shape is the same, well sort of, but they don't really look like each other.”

Yes and no. Chiles, Whitted, and Massey all described the same general shape and proportions. All estimated about the same size (B-29 or about 100 ft, but fatter than a B-29). All agreed that the "flames" out the back were not that long, with C-W agreeing that they were shorter than the object, or about 40-50 ft., though Whitted thought they got longer as the object passed them on their right, with the flames intensifying as the object shot up and disappeared. Massey thought they were somewhat longer than the object, also bluish, instead of the red-orange that C-W both agreed upon. Chiles and Massey both noted the bottom of the object had a fluroescent look to it (Chiles said it was deep bluish).

Nobody mentioned anything like a very long smoke trail, though for a long duration meteor fireball (Chiles, 5-10 seconds, Whitted, 10-15 sec., Massey, 20 sec.) there should have been a very prominent and easily seen one, especially on a moonlit night. (E.g., the Space Shuttle re-entered over the S.F. Bay Area a dozen years ago in the dead of night creating a bright fireball, and trailing a very long, prominent and easily seen smoke trail.)

Chiles and Whitted agreed that the object had a double row of brightly lit "windows", just like two witnesses in the Hague had reported for their object 4 days before. (The incredible "coincidence" that I don't see ever being explained by two different, rare, fragmenting meteors would generate rare identical misperceptions from 4 different witnesses.) Massey was asked about this, but said the object passed "overhead", i.e., he saw the object from underneath, and he wouldn’t have seen “windows” if they were there. (Now if he had seen the same supposed fragmenting meteor, it wouldn't have made any difference if he was looking from underneath.)

C-W and Massey described their objects as darkish (except for the "flames" and the "windows" for C-W), very peculiar for a supposed meteor fireball.

Also peculiar was C-W's certainty that the object pulled up after passing them. Even more peculiar was Massey's description of the object approaching from the north, passing "overhead" (which I interpret to mean very high in the sky), and then making a course change to the SW, which would have been quite impossible for any sort of meteor. (Also would have made it quite impossible for it to intercept C-W near Montgomery) Also Massey was quite certain about his time of 1:40-1:50 a.m. But C-W's sighting was at about 2:45 a.m. Thus it would seem either two different objects were involved, or one very fast-flying one darting around hither and yon to be seen at different places at different times.

But however you slice it, we now have THREE sightings by five people at three different times and places (the Hague, July 20, Massey and C-W July 24) but with very similar descriptions of what appeared to be an unusual high-speed, rocket-shaped aircraft with little in common with a meteor fireball.

If you get down to details, instead of the overall description, YES, there are obvious differences. C-W double row of windows were drawn very differently: Whitted a double row of large square windows, and not very many; Chiles, much smaller windows and more of them. Chiles thought he saw something like a lighted cockpit at the front top, with the front bottom dark. Whitted thought the whole front was dark, even blackish (again a very strange description for the front end of a supposed meteor fireball).

But the fact that there were differences in descriptions, does not somehow support the idea that what they ALL saw were meteors. Too many differences from real meteors and too many coincidences in descriptions (which are in reality quite rare for fragmenting meteors or space debris, i.e. a craft with lighted windows).

zoamchomsky said...

“The idea that ‘meteors can exhibit any behavior’ is actually an example of magical thinking”

Oh, please, Larry. It was a casual comment. I’ve studied astronomy and watched the sky as much as any other serious amateur and know that meteors can and can appear to exhibit just about any behavior within reason for meteors. Okay? Given the great range of meteoroids falling from space no one can say with certainty what any unique example will NOT do, as you have tried to do.

Look, there is no science in or to be had in Chiles-Whitted’s anecdotal report any more than there is in their confabulatory “airship” drawings—only make-it-up mumbo-jumbo intended to cast doubt on the fireball identification. We’ve been through this already. And the only magical thinking being done here is the idea that they saw anything other than a fireball.

zoamchomsky said...

If DR were the least bit interested in the most important science fact relevant to Chiles-Whitted he wouldn’t ignore the obvious commonness of fireballs.

David Rudiak said...

Zoam wrote:
Every minute, somewhere in the world, a baseball-sized object falls from space, that's large enough to create a fireball. Several times a week, it’s a basketball-sized object. Dozens of times a year—50 to 100—it’s a desk-sized object.

And about once a month, or even many times that number, the object is about the size of a house, that explodes in the upper atmosphere with the energy of a small nuclear detonation. Fireballs aren't rare in the least, they're actually quite common.


Wow, "the size of a house", at least "once a month, or even many times that number." Reference please. Another example of Zoam making up his "facts".

If he even thought about it for a second, this also contradicts what he said about desk-size meteors being of similar frequency. Something "house-size" would impact (as Larry pointed out) over a hundred times LESS frequently. Size and frequency decreases with over the square of the size. Thus the 2013 Chelybinsk bolide was an estimated 17 m across ("house-size") and was the largest such object since the 1908 Tungusta explosion. On average, such "house-size" events should happen only once every few decades, not dozens of times per year.

Not that this matters regarding Chiles-Whitted, other than a "meteor" to visibly last as long as the object reported by C-W would have to indeed be something like "house-size" (Chelybinsk, e.g., was visible for about 15 sec), yet remarkably created no reported nuclear-sized explosion. Whitted said it just suddenly disappeared from view as it pulled up to their right. No huge flash of light as bright as the sun, no explosive sounds, like with Chelybinsk, no large meteor trail like Chelybinsk, no windows blown out on the ground like Chelybinsk, nothing like Chelybinsk or any large bolide, though they were flying over populated areas, not the middle of the Pacific.

That is why Larry calls your comment "meteors can exhibit any behavior" as "magical thinking" and "claptrap". You need a magical meteor of large size so that C-W (and other witnesses like Massey) can see it for at least 10 seconds (also penetrate deeply into the atmosphere on a grazing trajectory to appear to be on a LEVEL, head-on collision course), yet it displays none of the physical characteristics of what a real meteor NECESSARILY must display.

zoamchomsky said...

“It certainly seems remotely possible that a meteor coming in at exactly the right angle and slowed by a first encounter with Earth’s atmosphere could temporarily skip out and take up a short-term orbit around the Earth”

Nothing remote about it, we have astronomers saying it in two cases. As it turns out they were mistaken, but there’s nothing extraordinary about the idea; DSP satellites detect Earth-grazing meteors around the clock.

“we now have THREE sightings by five people at three different times and places...of what appeared to be an unusual high-speed, rocket-shaped aircraft with little in common with a meteor fireball.”

The most amazing thing about this completely mundane case is that some people are so invested in the ETH that they can ignore the obvious and are seemingly oblivious to the fireball “airship effect”—the most plausible explanation.

Larry said...

Part 1

Kevin:

This is what I hope is my last posting on this topic since it will contain a concise summary of my position.

In his last posting, Zoam uses qualitative descriptors like “baseball sized”, “basketball sized” and “house sized” In a previous posting Brian described his sighting as involving “boulder sized” objects. In my posting from Feb. 3, I gave a reference to a National Academy of Science publication which included a graph (Fig. 2.4) that summarizes the best current scientific knowledge about the frequency of occurrence of meteorids as a function of their diameter. I’m guessing nobody here read it or comprehended it, but the reason I included it is that it eliminates all the handwaving qualitative descriptors and presents quantitative data that can be (and in fact, is) used to calculate the probability of occurrence of any particular meteor event you are interested in. This is the model that NASA uses to set policy on the risk of death or destruction expected from various different scenarios.

Allow me to demonstrate how it relates to the Chiles-Whitted sighting. This model allows calculations of the probability of a particular interaction by calculating the cross-section of that interaction. This type of calculation is very common in stochastic physics and is used to calculate everything from low density aerodynamic drag to the production rate of radionuclides inside a nuclear reactor.

Here’s how it works. Meteoroids (the physical bodies responsible for the production of visible light meteors) of all sizes are flowing by the Earth all the time. The Flux of any particles is taken to be the number of those particles flowing through a particular cross sectional area, per unit time. So, it has units of N (number) divided by (area times time). A target is exposed to that flux for some period of time, and we ask how many hits will there be on the target. Obviously, the bigger the target and the longer the exposure period, the more hits there will be. So, the number of hits will be proportional to the cross sectional area of the target and the exposure time. So, the number of expected hits is simply the flux, F, multiplied by the target area and the exposure time.

Larry said...

Part 2

What is the target area? According to the introductory astronomy textbook, Realm of the Universe, fifth edition, by Abell, Morrison, and Wolff, 1994, “To be visible, a meteor must be within 200 km of the observer.” So let’s imagine a 200 km radius circle centered around Chiles and Whitted and following them on their flight. That circle would have a cross section area of about 1.25 * 10^5 square km. The cruise speed of a DC-3 is about 200 mph and it is about 700 miles from Houston to Atlanta. So, let’s say they were airborne about 3.5 hours. So let’s say that if a particular meteor entered their observation zone any time they were airborne then that counts as a hit.

Now let’s consider the meteoroid flux. As I have argued above, in order to be both incandescent and be seen to be flying horizontally, the meteor would have to have retained about half of its cosmic entry speed down to low altitude (essentially, the surface). It is known beyond a doubt that “Earth’s atmosphere is an effective but selective screen that prevents smaller meteoroids from hitting Earth’s surface” to quote the well known planetary scientist Jay Melosh.

(http://www.space.com/834-mystery-arizona-)

That’s why I choose the 40 meter diameter meteoroid that created the Barringer crater as a good model. The graph in Fig 2.4 shows that the interval between impacts for 40 meter diameter meteoroids is about 500 years (4.38 * 10^6 hours). The cross section area of the Earth is about 1.27 * 10^8 square km. So the flux of 40 meter meteoroids is 1 divided by (4.38 * 10^6 hours times 1.27 * 10^8 square km) or about 1.8 * 10^-15 per square km, per hour. Multiply that flux times the observers’ cross section (1.25 * 10^5 square km) times the duration (3.5 hours) and you get the expected number of such meteoroids to have been seen by Chiles and Whitted. That number turns out to be 7.8 * 10^-10. That’s less than one chance in a Trillion.

In most scientific publications a confidence of at least .95 is required of a finding before it is published. A confidence level of less than one in a Trillion is well below my comfort level, although others may find it acceptable. This is why I say, if the self-luminescent object in horizontal flight was where Chiles and Whitted said it was (i.e., at 5000 ft altitude) then it almost certainly was not a meteor.

David Rudiak said...

I wrote: “It certainly seems remotely possible that a meteor coming in at exactly the right angle and slowed by a first encounter with Earth’s atmosphere could temporarily skip out and take up a short-term orbit around the Earth”

To which Zoam responded: Nothing remote about it,

Actual asteroid/comet capture into an Earth orbit has NEVER been observed, to my knowledge. It is indeed a REMOTE possibility, requiring a very unique set of circumstances: exactly the right trajectory, right speed, and right size

we have astronomers saying it in two cases.

Wow, we have "astronomers saying it in two cases," that is conjecturing it MIGHT have happened, but never actually verifying or demonstrating it. In one of those cases alleged meteor capture cases, the very scientists who proposed it later admitted they were mistaken.

As it turns out they were mistaken,

Exactly, they were MISTAKEN, but you used those two alleged cases as examples of supposedly verified meteor capture. You might have discovered that if you had spent more than one minute Googling.

It is a theoretical possibility, but has NEVER been observed. Yet you are still claiming that there is "nothing remote about it."

but there’s nothing extraordinary about the idea;

There is nothing extraordinary about the IDEA, but it is extraordinary to claim this is a common event ("nothing remote about it") when it has NEVER BEEN OBSERVED.

DSP satellites detect Earth-grazing meteors around the clock.

Which Larry said from the beginning: about 4% of meteors are Earth-grazers. But Earth-grazer does NOT equal new moonlet of Earth, which was YOUR claim.

The most amazing thing about this completely mundane case is that some people are so invested in the ETH that they can ignore the obvious and are seemingly oblivious to the fireball “airship effect”—the most plausible explanation.

Requiring Zoam's magical mystery meteors "that can exhibit any behavior". You will notice Zoam will not or cannot engage in an actual scientific discussion, i.e. showing exactly how such an Earth-grazer could account for what was reported (as Larry and I have been arguing), not only by Chiles-Whitted, but also by Massey ~200 miles away an hour earlier, or 4 days earlier, 4000 miles away (Hague sighting), all witness giving very similar descriptions).

You need not only an Earth-grazer, but more than one Earth-grazer, and much rarer BIG ones, to last at least 10 seconds (C-W and Massey) and to penetrate DEEP into the atmosphere (so as to appear to be on a level collision course—C/W sighting), yet somehow avoid exploding, be capable of course changes (C-W/Massey), and leave only a short flame behind but no long, prominent smoke trail (C-W/Massey). Four different witnesses (C/W and 2 at the Hague) reported a double row of "shining windows".

In REALITY, your so-called "airship effect" (“windows”) reports are quite RARE (at best only a few percent of all reports of fragmenting meteors or re-entering space debris), plus such long-lasting, fragmenting meteors are not all that common. This alone makes it very unlikely (even ignoring all other problems with a meteor theory) that two sightings in four days (C/W & the Hague) would both have the same EXTREMELY RARE description (double deck of windows) of an already relatively RARE event.

KRandle said...

David -

The point, I think, is that the airship effect is reported regardless of how rare it is. I think that Chiles and Whitted would have discussed the sighting in the hour before they landed, comparing notes about size and speed. I am just not convinced that they saw a structured craft but perceived one instead which isn't exactly the same thing.

David Rudiak said...

The Zoam spun:
Every minute, somewhere in the world, a baseball-sized object falls from space, that's large enough to create a fireball. Several times a week, it’s a basketball-sized object. Dozens of times a year—50 to 100—it’s a desk-sized object. And about once a month, or even many times that number, the object is about the size of a house, that explodes in the upper atmosphere with the energy of a small nuclear detonation. Fireballs aren't rare in the least, they're actually quite common.

I was looking at Zoam's screwy numbers and comparing with the formula from Larry's reference, used by NASA to predict impact frequency of meteors of different size:

http://www.nap.edu/read/12842/chapter/4

Graph:

http://www.nap.edu/openbook/12842/xhtml/images/p2001b363g18001.jpg

Here are the results:

"Baseball-size" objects = ~3", about once every hour. Where did Zoam get "every minute"? Who knows? Once a minute would equate to something about ½” across, or “marble-sized”.

"Basketball-size" objects = ~1', about once every day, close enough to "several times a week".

"Desk-size" objects = ~1 m, about once every 2 weeks, or 2 dozen times a year, at least in the same ball-park as "dozens of times a year--50-100" given imprecision of “desk-size”

"House-size" objects = ~10 m, about once every 10 YEARS! Where did Zoam get "about once a month, or even many times that number"? That's off by 2 to 3 orders of magnitude! That would be more of the frequency of “desk-size” objects. Maybe Zoam meant doll houses?

Those more frequent “desk-size” meteors (NOT “house-size”) explode with the energy of roughly 100 tons of TNT, not the ~10,000 tons of a typical A-bomb. Something A-bomb size would be about 5 m and occur only once every ~2 years on average. A meteor equivalent of a relatively SMALL nuke of 1000 tons TNT would be about 2+ m across and occur 3 or 4 times a year. (Yes, smaller nukes of ~100 tons TNT have been made, but this is getting down into conventional explosive range. We could quibble about what Zoam means by “small nuclear detonation”, but normally most people think of city destroyers, not damage caused by conventional explosives.)

In two of four Zoam examples, he is WAY off in his meteor frequencies, not remotely close, either being very sloppy or uninformed, or deliberately exaggerating. Doesn’t sound very professorial or professional to me, certainly not scientific or factual, as in “scientific skepticism”.

Getting back to Chiles-Whitted, a KEY part of their sighting that needs explaining, if it was a meteor, was the DURATION, which was on the order of 10 seconds. (And witness Massey 170 miles away gave a figure of 20 seconds.) This brings us back to Larry’s point, that you need a BIG meteor for it to survive that long. E.g., the recent Chelybinsk bolide was visible 12-15 seconds, eventually exploding with the energy of a 500 Megaton nuke. It’s approximate size has been determined to be 17 m, or a large “house-size” meteor. Before it blew up, it was as bright as the sun, lighting up the ground and casting shadows. It left a VERY prominent smoke trail.

Where is the evidence of anything like that with Chiles-Whitted? The only way for a large meteor NOT to do this, is to stay very high, dozens of miles up, in which case C-W, from perspective, should have seen the meteor rising sharply up in angular elevation as it approached, NOT appearing to be on a LEVEL collision course. E.g., if it was 50 miles up and 50 miles away, it would have been 45 deg. in elevation; 25 miles away, 63 deg., 10 miles, 79 deg., etc., or passing well ABOVE them, no apparent collision.

David Rudiak said...

Kevin wrote:
The point, I think, is that the airship effect is reported regardless of how rare it is. I think that Chiles and Whitted would have discussed the sighting in the hour before they landed, comparing notes about size and speed. I am just not convinced that they saw a structured craft but perceived one instead which isn't exactly the same thing.

Rarity has very much to do with how probable a prosaic explanation might be. The only example I know of where two decks of windows was reported, was the one from the 1913 Chant meteor precession. That was ONE out of about 150 reports collected. Hartmann came up with two examples of "windows" out of 78 Blue Book reports, but used only 30 for his table, stating these were more complete reports. Even using that, it amounts to only 7% of reports. If you put both events together, that would be about 3 out of ~180 reports, less than 2%. The VAST majority of witnesses, however, correctly reported multiple glowing objects which they interpreted to be separate objects, but moving together in a procession or formation.

Now factor in the Hague sighting 4 days before by two other witnesses. again a rocket-shaped object with a double row of windows. These two sightings were totally independent of one another, even if the witnesses of each sighting influenced each other (a BIG if). If double row of windows has a 1% chance of being reported for some fragmenting meteor (probably less than that), then the probability of two such instances would be one in ten thousand.

It would be much less than that, if you factor in the probability of two LONG-LASTING, fragmenting meteor sightings occurring within a 4 day period. To last even a few seconds, it would have to be at least one of Zoam's "desk-size" meteors (about 1 m across), that occur about once every 2 weeks on average. (To get the ~10 seconds of C-W or the ~20 seconds of Massey, it would have to be MUCH larger than that and far rarer, so this is trying to give the meteor explanation every chance it can get.)

You can use something called the Poisson distribution to calculate the probability of multiple random, rare events occurring during a specified interval. It turns out, two such meteors occurring within a four day interval (instead of an average 14 days) is only 3%. (The probability of these both being fragmenting meteors that might generate a "windows" report, being much lower still)

If you factor in Massey's sighting being yet another independent event (occurring an hour earlier), no "windows" but the same basic shape and appearance, that would be 10 times less likely to occur. The odds are now less than one in a million. (Yes, I know, it all depends on one's assumptions of meteor size and frequency, etc., but this gives a decent idea of how improbable a meteor explanation would be from the gitgo, namely HIGHLY IMPROBABLE.)

This still doesn't deal with the other HUGE problems with a meteor explanation, that Larry and I have been touching on. You need a much bigger, rarer meteor(s) to last as long as reported by C-W or Massey, AND penetrate low enough to appear to be on a collision course with C-W. But such a large, penetrating meteor, would necessarily create LARGE physical effects, like a huge explosion, which was NOT reported. To get around this, the meteors would have to be Earth-grazers (~4% of meteors, making it even more improbable) that stayed VERY high (dozens of miles up), leading to another conundrum of why HIGHLY experienced pilots like C-W perceived theirs as being level and on a collision course. A high meteor would climb very rapidly in elevation as it approached, not appear to be at their level and about to collide, yet C-W reported the object going into a climb only AFTER it passed them on the right, not as it approached.

As far as I'm concerned, all these extremely serious problems with a meteor explanation falsify it, for all intents and purposes.

Daniel Transit said...

cda said...

In what way was the Chiles-Whitted story "getting out of hand"? Someone rather foolishly brought an Adamski photograph into it but apart from that, it appears to me that the ensuing discussion was on the right lines.............

Bringing the photograph into the discussion was surely not a major issue. If you're sure that all of the Adamski photographs are "fraudulent" then it might be considered a case of him being influenced by the Chiles-Whitted sighting. The photo in question can be seen at the end of the last page of the 1954 O Cruziero magazine article at the link below (along with some other photos that haven't been widely published).

http://adamskifoundation.com/Brazil/Portuguese-Brazil.html