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The Oumuamua Conundrum

The Oumuamua Conundrum 90

“It is in the admission of ignorance and the admission of uncertainty that there is a hope for the continuous motion of human beings in some direction that doesn’t get confined, permanently blocked, as it has so many times before in various periods in the history of man.”


Richard P. Feynman

When studying about the most notable scientific stories of the XXIst century, future students will probably giggle when trying to memorize a peculiar word found in their books: Oumuamua.

Recognized as the first object of unquestionable interstellar origin to ever intrude into our solar system –we know this because of the highly eccentric orbit it displayed in contrast to the ecliptic plane that most bodies in the system follow when orbiting around the Sun– Oumuamua was discovered in October of 2017 by Robert Weryk at the Haleakala Observatory in Hawaii, and ever since it has continued to puzzle scientists because its shape and behavior was even weirder than the name it was assigned to (it means “first distant messenger” in Hawaiian). Oumuamua moved like a comet, and yet it didn’t produce the characteristic tail of these icy bodies. To make things even more confusing, the varying light emitted by this not-comet suggested Oumuamua was at least 10 times as long as it was thick. How could this ‘interstellar baton’ retain its fragile form for so long?

The Oumuamua Conundrum 91

And then there was the final insult to our knowledge about errant astronomical bodies, observed in June of last year: new data from the Hubble telescope confirmed Oumuamua’s velocity had increased during its rendezvous with the inner solar system, in ways that could not be explained by simple celestial mechanics and gravitational influences.

Astronomers paused their collective hand from scratching their collective head only to make that hand into an angry fist when they read a truly bold and controversial paper co-written in November of last year by Abraham Loeb, chairman of Harvard University’s astronomy department, and his postdoctoral student Shmuel Bialy. The paper was very rigorous in its math and the scientific assertions it proposed, and at the same time it did something no-one else in the scientific community dared to do: Suggest Oumuamua was in fact an ancient solar sail built by an extraterrestrial civilization and deliberately sent to intercept our solar neighborhood.

American-Israeli theoretical physicist Abraham (Avy) Loeb
American-Israeli theoretical physicist Abraham (Avy) Loeb

Last week the Israeli newspaper Haaretz published an excellent interview with Loeb, which not only helps to explain in layman terms why Oumuamua is a true anomaly, but also highlights the many problems arising from the way the academic community tends to behave when confronted by a scientific mystery: with an a-priori contempt for any kind of novel ideas, especially when it comes to the possibility about alien life. An arrogant ‘it can’t be therefore it isn’t’ attitude that is even more prevalent –ironically enough– among the scientists more directly involved with the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI). It’s almost as if we are so certain there’s no one else out there, we keep on looking for signs we’re not alone without really expecting to find any.

Not only that, but Loeb points out the kind of fear prevalent among his colleagues of making their ideas public, if they happen to be too ‘heretical’:

“The article I published was written, in part, on the basis of conversations I had with colleagues whom I respect scientifically. Scientists of senior status said themselves that this object was peculiar but were apprehensive about making their thoughts public. I don’t understand that. After all, academic tenure is intended to give scientists the freedom to take risks without having to worry about their jobs. Unfortunately, most scientists achieve tenure – and go on tending to their image. As children we ask ourselves about the world, we allow ourselves to err. Ego doesn’t play a part. We learn about the world with innocence and honesty. As a scientist, you’re supposed to enjoy the privilege of being able to continue your childhood. Not to worry about the ego, but about uncovering the truth. Especially after you get tenure.”

In the interview, Loeb explains to the Haaretz reporter that Oumuamua is probably shaped like a flat pancake instead of a cigar. Not only that, but its relative velocity compared to the average speed of all the stars in the region suggests this ‘distant messenger’ was at ‘relative rest’ until the solar system reached its position while traveling around the center of the Milky Way. Read that last sentence again until it sinks in.

But how to explain the biggest mystery of all –Oumuamua’s sudden and inexplicable acceleration once it entered the inner solar system? “The only hypothesis I could think of,” Loeb says, “is a push from solar radiation pressure. For that to work, the object would have to be very thin, less than a millimeter thick, in other words a type of pancake. In addition, the Spitzer Space Telescope found no evidence of heat emission from the object, and that means that it is at least 10 times more reflective than a typical comet or asteroid. What we have, then, is a thin, flat, shiny object. So I arrived at the idea of a solar sail: A solar sail is a spaceship that uses the sun for propulsion. Instead of using fuel, it is propelled ahead by reflecting light. In fact, it’s a technology that our civilization is developing at this very time.”

How solar sails work

I urge you to read the interview in its entirety. In the end,  I feel whether Loeb is correct or not about Oumuamua, and it was not in fact an ancient probe sent by an advanced civilization tens of thousands of years ago, is not the most important thing about the paper he and his student wrote. As the scientific director of Project Starshot which studied the possibility of deploying solar sails traveling at one-fifth the speed of light, critics could very well argue he’s falling into an ‘antropomorphization’ of this astronomical anomaly, attributing aliens with the same kind of technology we’re currently trying to develop –then again, SETI is also guilty of the exact same thing, insisting our hypothetical galactic neighbors would only bother to communicate with us using radio transmissions.

No, the value in Loeb’s hypothesis is that it helped to highlight how in the cutting-edge areas of Science, we tend to punish innovative thinking instead of encouraging it. Scientists are being conditioned to stick to what is accepted by the status quo in order to protect their careers. Only the older scientists who are sufficiently shielded from professional suicide by having already achieved enough recognition, or won enough prizes and medals, are the ones brave enough to dare to say “what if” out loud. With that kind of rationale, we are less likely to make any major breakthroughs.

“If you’re not ready to find exceptional things, you won’t discover them. Of course, every argument needs to be based on evidence, but if the evidence points to an anomaly, we need to talk about an anomaly. Who cares if this anomaly appeared or did not appear in science-fiction books? I don’t even like science fiction.”

Loeb’s colleagues are still detecting mysterious fast radio bursts (FRBs) coming from the deepest reaches of the Universe. Nobody knows what originates them, but suggesting they could be actual transmissions of artificial origin is not considered kosher among ‘serious’ researchers. Likewise, NASA is getting prepared to probe the surface of Mars in search of microbial fossils, and yet the debate involving meteorite ALH 84001, discovered in Antarctica more than 20 years ago, rages on. The findings of the scientists who suggested the microscopic structures found inside the meteorite were signs of Martian life were flat-out rejected by most of the scientific community –this at a time when even considering the possibility that Mars had had water in its ancient past was simply preposterous.

The Oumuamua Conundrum 92
Meteorite ALH 84001. Signs of Martian fossils?

Perhaps schools should teach the future generations of scientists and thinkers to dare to be wrong more often. Instead of waiting ’til they get tenure and secure retirement.

SOURCE:

The Daily Grail

Aliens & UFO's

The CIA has laid out all its information about UFO’s in the public domain

The CIA has laid out all its information about UFO's in the public domain 105

The Black Vault, which publishes declassified data, has posted on its website an impressive archive of CIA documents related to UFOs. The founder of the project, John Greenwald, says that he received all the documents by official means from the hands of the organization’s employees.

And suddenly, the CIA declassified its entire database of UFOs. That is, the secret service has documents from the 1980s and everything shows that conspiracy theories are becoming a reality. Already, the “Black Vault” website contains several relevant documents, which can be downloaded by anyone.

The term “Unidentified Flying Objects” is commonly used in the documents.
Some of these may be due to light reflections or errors in the pilot instruments. However, some are objects of inquiry by the Pentagon.

The CIA claims that they have nothing else, but it is not possible to verify this statement.

It was possible to obtain information thanks to the Law on Freedom of Information, and the process itself was launched at the turn of the 70-80s of last century. 

The representatives of the special services had to admit that the public ultimately has the right to find out the secrets of the government, but the process of transferring information is not really regulated. According to Greenwald, he spent 25 years in endless meetings, disputes and bickering with the CIA, until he finally got what he wanted.

But not everything is so simple – the researcher was handed a box with about 10,000 printed sheets of very low quality. He had to scan them manually, some things could not be disassembled at all, many documents were scattered. 

“Starting about 20 years ago, I struggled for years to get additional UFO records from the CIA,” Greenwald said in an email to Motherboard. “It was like pulling teeth! I went around with them to try and do it, finally achieving it. I received a large box with a couple of thousand pages, and I had to scan them one page at a time.”

The CIA used the rather outdated .tif format, so software processing is also difficult. Ufologists don’t have to talk about a gift, it’s more like trying to get rid of garbage in order to get rid of annoying researchers. 

“Researchers and curious minds alike prefer simplicity and accessibility when they look at such data dumps,” says Greenwald. “The CIA made it INCREDIBLY difficult to use its archives in a sensible way. They offer a very outdated format (multi-page .tif) and offer largely unusable text output, which I think they intend to use as a “search” tool. In my opinion, this outdated format makes it very difficult for people to view documents and use them for any research purposes.”

However, there are also enough mysterious stories there.

Thousands of files were uploaded in the first 24 hours after release, Greenwald said. Some documents are crisp and clear, while others are almost impossible to decipher.

According to Greenwald, one of the most interesting documents in this article relates to the fact that the Assistant Deputy Director of Science and Technology passed on some serious information about UFOs to the CIA back in the 1970s. After that, it became extremely difficult to obtain information from the government about extraterrestrial phenomena.

The release of the documents comes six months before the UFO report to be released by the US government. This means that the revelations are not made at this time randomly.

In particular, intelligence experts have 180 days to formulate an official report on signs or secret aircraft near US military bases, which will be released later.

The CIA has laid out all its information about UFO's in the public domain 106

Greenwald posts the files in the Black Vault, as he claims that publishing the files is a matter of public interest and notes that citizens have a right to know.

“The public has a right to know!” Greenwald says. “When I started my research almost 25 years ago, at the age of 15, I knew there was something about this topic. Not from viral online pranks, not from secret meetings with insiders that no one has ever seen. No, this is all UFO evidence straight from the CIA and NSA. I feel like I’ve almost achieved what I set out to do – give people easy access to important material so that people can form their own opinion about what’s going on.”

The aliens are already among us.

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Aliens & UFO's

Trump-signed bill obliges US federal services to publish UFO contact data

Trump-signed bill obliges US federal services to publish UFO contact data 107

The incumbent president of the United States signed the government spending bill this Sunday. The bill signed by Trump, among other things, obliges the US federal services to publish data on contacts with UFOs. American magazine Newsweek told about it in its publication. This provision appears in the report of the Special Committee on Intelligence, chaired by Senator Mark Rubio. 

The document is an annex to the new Exploration Permit Act. It says that the US Secretary of Defense, the Director of National Intelligence and other officials must report on the facts of observation of aerial objects that could not be identified. They are also called “anomalous flying vehicles”. Of course, this is not only about “alien ships”.

Reports must be submitted no later than 180 days from the date of entry into force of the law. The special committee demands to include in them a detailed analysis of investigations of UFO “intrusions” into American airspace, which were conducted by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The publication calls all these requirements a “request”, stating that they are not binding, since they have no legislative force.

If the executive branch fulfills this important request, the nation will finally have an objective basis for assessing the validity of this issue and its implications for national security.
– said the former director of human resources of the Senate Intelligence Committee Christopher Mellon.

The request from the special committee came after the appearance of the footage of flights of mysterious aerial objects, which were filmed by the pilots of the naval aviation in 2004 and 2015, published by the US Department of Defense.

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Aliens & UFO's

An Out Of This World Encounter: Japan Air Lines Flight 1628 spotted a giant UFO in the skies over Alaska

An Out Of This World Encounter: Japan Air Lines Flight 1628 spotted a giant UFO in the skies over Alaska 108

It was a normal flight. Well, not quite a routine…. It was Japan Air Lines special cargo flight 747 that carried a shipment of French wine from Paris to Tokyo. The flight plan was to include flight 1628 from Paris to Reykjavik, Iceland, via the North Atlantic and Greenland, then via Canada to Anchorage in Alaska, and finally across the Pacific Ocean to Tokyo. The crew included veteran captain Kenju Terauchi, co-pilot Takanori Tamefuji and flight engineer Yoshio Tsukuba.

On November 16, 1986, loaded with wine, JAL1628 took off from Paris and made the first leg of the journey to Reykjavik. The next day, they continued their flight over Greenland and then through northern Canada without any event.

An Out Of This World Encounter: Japan Air Lines Flight 1628 spotted a giant UFO in the skies over Alaska 109

Immediately after they crossed the Alaska border at 5:09 pm local time, Anchorage air traffic control contacted them by radio to report the first radar contact. The flight controller of Anchorage asked them to turn 15 degrees to the left and head towards a point known as Talkeetna on a course of 215 degrees. They were at an altitude of 35,000 feet and were traveling at about 600 miles per hour.

At about 5:11 pm local time, Captain Terauchi noticed the lights of some aircraft about 2,000 feet below and 30 degrees to their left. He figured it was probably an American jet fighter from nearby Eilson or Elmendorf airbases patrolling Alaska airspace, so he ignored them at first. However, after a few minutes, he noticed the lights were keeping up with his own aircraft, which would be unusual for patrol aircraft.

An Out Of This World Encounter: Japan Air Lines Flight 1628 spotted a giant UFO in the skies over Alaska 110

It has been about seven minutes since we started paying attention to the lights (when), in the most unexpected way, two spaceships stopped in front of our face, “shooting” lights. The interior cabin shone brightly and I felt warmth in my face.

Terauchi said he had the impression that two objects he saw below them a few minutes ago suddenly jumped out of him. The ships, one above the other, kept pace with the Boeing 747 for several minutes, moving in unison with a strange sway. After about seven minutes, they switched to a side-by-side arrangement. 

Terauchi said the “amber-whitish” lights were like flames coming out of several rocket exhaust windows arranged in two rectangular rows on the ship. He felt they were firing in a specific sequence to stabilize the ship, much like the small, maneuverable engines on the space shuttle. He also reported seeing sparks similar to fire when using gasoline or coal fuel.

An Out Of This World Encounter: Japan Air Lines Flight 1628 spotted a giant UFO in the skies over Alaska 111

Co-pilot Tamefuji described the lights as “Christmas platter” with a “salmon” color. 

He said:

“I remember a red or orange and white landing light, as well as a landing light. And a faint green, ah, flashing.”

He also described the lights as slowly pulsing. They got stronger, weaker, stronger, weaker, different from strobe lights. 

The lights “swayed” in unison, as if two planes were standing side by side, “very good formation … close.” He described the appearance of the lights as similar to a “head-on night flight” vision, where only the lights of an approaching aircraft can be seen, but “we cannot see the general shape.”

He said:

“I’m sure I’ve seen something.” 

It was clear enough to make me believe that an airplane was coming.

Flight Engineer Tsukuba, seated behind the co-pilot, could not see the lights so clearly. He first saw them “through window L1 at 11 o’clock and saw “undulating clusters of lights.” 

These clusters were “made in two parts … in the form of airplane windows.” He stressed that “the lights in front of us were different from the city ones.” He described the colors as white or amber.

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Tamefuji decided to call Anchorage Air Traffic Control, and for the next thirty minutes the Boeing 747 and the AARTCC were in constant contact about UFOs.

At this time, Captain Terauchi asked Tskububa to hand him a camera so that he could try to photograph the lights. However, Terauchi was unfamiliar with the camera and could not get it to work. Tsukuba was also unable to get his camera to work due to autofocus issues and finally gave up trying to take a picture.

At this point, they began to experience some radio interference, and Anchorage asked them to change frequencies. Terauchi later said that Anchorage kept asking him about clouds in the immediate vicinity: they asked us several times if there were clouds at our height. We saw thin speckled clouds near the mountain below us, with no clouds in the air from mid to top, and the airflow was steady.

Shortly after talking about clouds, objects flew to the left. Terauchi later said:

“In the direction where the ships were leaving, there was a pale white flat light, they were moving with us in the same direction, at the same speed and at the same height as us.”

Terauchi decided to see if they were seeing anything on their own 747 radar:

I thought it would be impossible to find anything on the aircraft radar if the large ground radar showed nothing, but I estimated the distance to the object visually and it was not very far. I set the digital weather radar to 20 (nautical) miles, the angle of the radar to the horizon (i.e. no deflection angle). This was on the screen. A large green and circular object appeared 7 or 8 miles (13 to 15 km) in the direction the object was. 

We informed downtown Anchorage that our radar had caught an object within 7 or 8 miles at the 10 o’clock position. We asked them if they could catch it on ground radar, but it looks like they couldn’t catch it at all.

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At 5:25:45 am, after two minutes of searching, the military radar at the Regional Operations Center Elmendorf also picked up something. The ROCC radar controller reported back to AARTCC that it received some “pulse primary return”. By this he meant a random radar echo, not accompanied by a transponder signal.

When 747 approached Fairbanks:

The lights (of the city) were extremely bright for eyes accustomed to the dark (the cockpit lights were turned off to prevent internal light from reflecting in the windows.) We were just above the bright city lights and checked out the pale white light behind us. 

“Alas! There was a silhouette of a giant spaceship. We must run fast! Center of Anchorage. JAL1628 asks to change course 45 degrees to the right. It seemed like a long time before we got permission.”

Immediately after the plane turned right, AARTCC dispatcher called Fairbanks control radar to see if the short-range radar had a target near the JAL. Approach radar reported no targets other than JAL1628.

The aircraft exited the turn and flew towards Talkeetna at an altitude of 31,000 feet while the object continued to follow.

At approximately 5:40 am, a United Airlines passenger plane took off from Anchorage and headed north to Fairbanks. The AARTCC controller decided to ask the UA pilot to try to see the object that was following the JAL flight. The UA pilot said he would watch when he got closer. The controller requested that the JAL flight remain at 31,000 feet and the UA flight at 29,000 feet. He then ordered UA to make a few more turns so that the planes could fly within five miles of each other.

As the United Airlines plane approached, the UFO apparently fell behind, allowing the JAL plane to fly far ahead. The United pilot asked the AARTCC for the JAL pilot to turn on the headlights on the JAL plane so he could locate the plane. At 5:49:45 am, the JAL pilot did it. At this point, the planes were about 25 miles apart.

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When the planes were about 12 miles apart, UA reported seeing JAL and nothing else. But by this time the UFO appears to have disappeared, and JAL1628 did not notice it either.

At about 5:51 am, the AARTCC demanded that a TOTEM military aircraft in the area also fly towards the JAL aircraft to take a look. For the next few minutes, TOTEM watched the JAL plane, but saw no other vehicles. JAL1628 proceeded to Anchorage and landed at 18:20.

The FAA conducted an investigation into the incident and did not submit its final report until March 5.

CSICOP (Committee on Scientific Investigation of Allegations of the Paranormal) Phil Klass issued a premature statement on January 22nd claiming that UFOs were the planets of Jupiter. and Mars is an impossible solution because UFOs were seen in the opposite part of the sky to the positions of these planets, and because UFOs moved from positions on top of each other to stand side by side. 

CSICOP later published a second explanation that the UFO was light bouncing off clouds of ice crystals – also unlikely because the sky was clear at the UFO’s stated altitude. 

The US Federal Aviation Administration attributed the ground-based radar images as “split radar from a JAL Boeing 747”.

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