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Saturday, April 18, 2015

The Smithsonian Air and Space Museum

After the Mysteries of Space and Sky 2014 Conference, we had the opportunity to visit the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in downtown Washington DC. This was my first time visit and driving and parking downtown is to put it bluntly, a pain. If you get a chance to get a bus ride or taxi, that's probably a better way to go. Downtown DC is full of extraneous ad hoc political activity also. When we were there, streets were blocked off due to marches, and there were demonstrations everywhere with posters and banners. This area is definitely the hub of the political washtub. Once you get inside the museum of your choice, and there are a lot to choose from, it's all good.

This year's Society of Scientific Exploration meeting is going to be held in the DC area and they are having a bus trip to the Air and Space Museum on Friday afternoon May 29th. This would be the perfect way to see the museum.

There is a row of banners in front of the monument above the grass line and there is still work being done on the Capitol dome. (Maybe they are still recovering from Independence Day.)

Once inside the museum, the displays are fantastic.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Mysteries of Space and Sky 2014 Part 3

This is the last post of the three-part series covering the Mysteries of Space and Sky 2014 Conference held in Maryland.

The next speaker was Rob Swiatek. The title of his topic was, "The Investigation of UFOs: New Instruments, New Cases." The three main topics were:

1) Instruments to track and gather data on UFOs

2) UFO report statistics

3) A few recent cases

Rob makes the point that we do not have enough UFO investigators with science backgrounds and I think this point is very important. It's significant because the scientific method is not being used on cases. Speaking personally, a big problem with studying UFOs is the inability for reproducible results for testing. We need to approach cases in new ways and look for ways to dig the science out of what we know about the phenomenon. Rob stated that the scientific method may not be working for UFO cases and we may need to change how we use science in investigating UFOs. At any rate, we need more people who are familiar with science to begin to tackle these problems.

The role of science can be a hot topic with UFO investigations and I think no matter what, we do need more science and engineering expertise involved in the investigation of anomalous phenomena, not just UFOs. I also certainly understand why many scientists do not become involved openly in these studies either. I don't think these are insurmountable problems but they are important ones to address.

Several people are involved in putting together a new device that may assist in learning more about the UFO phenomenon. The project is UFOTOG II and the device will scan the atmosphere with a variety of sensors to gather data. These people are highly degreed and skilled professionals in their fields of expertise: Douglas Trumbull, Marc D'Antonio, Dr. Mark Rodeghier, Dr. Massimo Teodorani, Dr. Ron Masters, and Philippe Ailleris. (I apologize that I do not have the information or the biography for Dr. Ron Masters as yet.)

Phillippe Ailleris

The following is from the website, "Unidentified Aerospace Phenomena (UAP) Observations Reporting Scheme:"

"Philippe Ailleris is the face behind the UAP Reporting Scheme.  His fascination for and interest in Unidentified Aerospace Phenomena (UAP, popularly called UFO) was already well underway by the time he was a teenager.  As the years passed, his interests expanded into astronomy, space exploration and exobiology; however his interest in UAP persisted and led him to work in the space industry where he has remained for the past 20 years." [1]

I highly recommend this website by UAP. There is a lot of excellent reading material here on astronomy and UFOs.

Marc D'Antonio

From the Open Minds website on Marc D'Antonio:

"Marc D’Antonio is the chief photo and video analyst for the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON). Marc has been involved with MUFON since 1971 and has a vast amount of experience investigating UFO cases." [2]

Dr. Massimo Teodorani

Dr. Teodorani has a degree in astronomy and has a PhD in stellar physics from the Department of Astronomy of the University of Bologna, Italy. Dr. Teodorani has written several excellent papers and articles. One includes a paper written for The Society for Scientific Exploration on the Hessdalen Phenomenon. [3]

Dr. Mark Rodeghier

Anyone who has been studying UFOs for any length of time should know who Dr. Rodeghier is. From the CUFOS website:

"Mark Rodeghier has been President and Scientific Director of the J. Allen Hynek Center for UFO Studies since 1986. Born in Hammond, Indiana, in 1953, he earned a B.S. in astrophysics from Indiana University in 1975. After a year of graduate study at the University of Sussex in England, he returned to complete a M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) in sociology. His dissertation, Factors Influencing Attitudes Toward Controversial Research: Quantitatively Disentangling the Social from the Scientific, explores the attitudes toward the study of extraterrestrial intelligence by the scientific community. Other publications include numerous articles for IUR and the Journal of UFO Studies, and UFO Reports Involving Vehicle Interference: a Catalog and Data Analysis (Evanston, IL: Center for UFO Studies, 1981)." [4]

Douglas Trumbull

Douglas Trumbull is an expert in special effects, working on movies such as Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Silent Running, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Blade Runner, and many others. [5]

Besides the development of the device, several questions need to be addressed. A few of these questions include:

1) What were the limitations of previous efforts?

2) How does this work differ from existing astronomical networks of all-sky cameras?

3) What is the estimated cost for the prototype? Where and how will it be tested?

4) What are the next steps after developing the prototype device?

5) How will we decide where to place automated stations?

6) What is the definition of "success?"

The information presented on this device in the making sounds very interesting and I look forward to more presentations on its development and implementation. UFOTOG II is an excellent example of people coming together to try and move the study of UFOs in a forward and positive direction. No matter what happens with the experiment, many valuable things will be learned from this endeavor and the field of UFO studies will be much better off for it. By learning what techniques work and which ones fail, we can continue to move forward and contribute to the UFO field in a positive way while improving our understanding of this fascinating phenomenon. 

Mr. Carl Feindt spoke next and gave updates for his revisions for his book, UFOs and Water: Physical Effects of UFOs on Water Through Accounts by Eyewitnesses. Carl recommended (and I do too) Paul Hill's book, Unconventional Flying Objects: A Scientific Analysis. Carl's thesis is that an ionization field around the unidentified object pushes or draws water. This action results in different wave patterns depending upon whether the UFO is just above, partially immersed, or totally underneath the water's surface. A great deal of information is available on the internet regarding Carl's work. He has been researching and looking into the physical effects of UFOs on water for many years.

The last speaker of the day was Colonel Charles Halt, the former base commander from RAF Bentwaters, England. I have not had time to read a lot about this fascinating case and I have heard aspects of the case from several witnesses. The strange events that occurred at Bentwaters in December 1980 had life changing impacts on all the people who were involved. Strange occurrences are still happening in the area today. Many witnesses have not come forward about what happened for fear for their jobs and careers.  

Col. Halt played a tape recording by the British Admiral of the Fleet, Lord Hill-Norton speaking about UFOs. It was terrific. I have heard the late Lord Hill-Norton speak before and he is just mesmerizing and it is very refreshing to have an individual of his caliber speak out about the UFO mystery in a very straight forward, no-nonsense way.


In addition to discussing aspects of the most famous Bentwaters case, Col. Halt mentioned one incident in 1975 in which some type of entities were seen by an MP (military police) coming through the perimeter fences. The MP emptied his weapon into an entity with no observed effect.

The end of Col Halt's presentation concluded the day's conference. Everyone had a good time and Dr. Resta does a fantastic job putting on these conferences. It's always a good time to meet up with friends and catch-up. Maryland is also a very beautiful state and in October, the leaves are starting to change and it is just spectacular. Good times!