Is the government actually hoarding things that scientists can’t identify in a Nevada building?
What are we to make of a Las Vegas structure crammed with unidentified alloys? The New York Times released a bombshell piece Saturday (Dec. 16) indicating that the US Department of Defense (DOD) supported a $22 million program to investigate UFOs between 2007 and 2012. Three revelations in the story were designed to blow readers’ minds:
1. Many high-ranking officials in the federal government think that aliens have visited Earth.
2. Military pilots have captured footage of UFOs that appear to outperform all known human aircraft, shifting direction and accelerating in ways that no fighter jet or helicopter could ever match.
3. The government stores metals and other materials thought to be related with UFOs in a cluster of facilities near Las Vegas.
Points one and two are strange, but not particularly persuasive on their own: The world was already aware that many intelligent people believe in alien visitors and that pilots occasionally observe weird occurrences in the high atmosphere that can be explained by things other than space aliens, such as a weather balloon, a rocket launch, or even a solar eruption.
However, point No. 3 – those structures full of alloys and other materials – is a little more difficult to dismiss. Is there truly a DOD stash consisting of extraterrestrial materials?
On MSNBC, one of the Times report’s authors, Ralph Blumenthal, said of the alloys, “They have, as we reported in the paper, some material from these objects that is being studied so that scientists can find what accounts for their amazing properties, this technology of these objects, whatever they are.” Blumenthal said, “I’m not sure what the ingredients were.” “They have no idea. They’re looking into it, but it’s a substance they don’t identify.”
But here’s the thing: the scientists and metallurgists Live Science spoke with, who are experts in recognizing strange alloys, don’t believe it.
“I don’t think it’s credible that there are any alloys that we can’t detect,” retired chemist Richard Sachleben, a member of the American Chemical Society’s expert group, told Live Science. “In my opinion? That is simply not possible.”
Alloys are combinations of various elemental metals. They’re incredibly numerous – in fact, they’re more prevalent on Earth than pure elemental metals, according to Sachleben – and very well understood. Brass is a metal alloy. Steel is as well. Even the most abundant gold on Earth is an alloy composed of elemental gold combined with other metals such as silver or copper. [Eight Crucial Elements You’ve Never Heard Of]
“There are databases of all known phases [of metal], including alloys,” May Nyman, a professor in the Department of Chemistry at Oregon State University, told Live Science. These databases give simple methods for recognizing metal alloys.
If an unknown alloy appeared, Nyman predicted that determining its composition would be rather simple. Researchers employ a technique called X-ray diffraction to study crystalline alloys, which are ones in which the atom combination produces an ordered structure, according to Nyman.
“”Because the wavelength of an X-ray is about the same size as the distance between the atoms [of crystalline alloys], when the X-rays enter a well-ordered material, they diffract [change shape and intensity] – and from that diffraction [pattern], you can get information that tells you the distance between the atoms, what the atoms are, and how well-ordered the atoms are.” It gives you everything you need to know about the arrangement of your atoms.”
The technique differs slightly for noncrystalline, amorphous alloys, but only slightly.
“These are all fairly typical processes in research labs,” Nyman explained. “If we had such mysterious metals, you could take it to any institution where research is done and they could tell you what the elements are and something about the crystalline phase within a few hours.”
“There are no alloys sitting in a storage that we have no idea what they are. In reality, it’s quite straightforward, and any decent metallurgical graduate student can do it for you “He stated.
According to Nyman, if metals did fall from a mysterious airplane, forensics experiments would swiftly explain a lot of questions about that aircraft. [UFO Sightings: These Cases Have Never Been Solved]
“How has the metal hunk changed?” Nyman stated. “That’s the kind of inquiry I’d ask if I were a scientist. Maybe, if it’s about international politics and we want to know where the metal originates from, there’s some analysis that can take you to where it was mined, or what country utilizes that particular alloy, or something like that.”
If the plane had come from space, it would have left telltale indicators in the metal, such as space debris and ionization (changes in the electrical charges of the substance’s atoms), according to Nyman.
Even if a previously unseen chunk of alloy did fall to Earth from space, Nyman and Sachleben agreed that it wouldn’t necessarily have come from an alien craft. In reality, space-traversing alloys like those seen in typical nickel-iron meteorites, according to Sachleben, impact the planet on a frequent basis, leaving behind telltale evidence. The rare-Earth metals left behind by the meteor that wiped out the dinosaurs were even used to identify the meteor that wiped out the dinosaurs.
It’s worth noting that, while Blumenthal did go on cable news and declare the alloys were unidentified mysteries, fueling conjecture, that’s not what his report said. Here’s the complete quote from Saturday’s article:
“The corporation [engaged in the DOD research] altered buildings in Las Vegas to store metal alloys and other materials that… Contractors for the initiative claimed that they had recovered from mysterious airborne phenomena. Researchers also evaluated those who claimed to have had bodily impacts as a result of their experiences with the artifacts for any physiological changes. In addition, researchers spoke with military personnel who had reported odd aircraft sightings.”
There is no indication from this statement that the alloys themselves are special. All the Times said was that the DOD researchers entrusted with uncovering strange UFO items gathered some metal, interviewed some persons who claimed to have had strange encounters with it, and concluded that it was UFO-related.
Blumenthal stated in an email to Live Science about these metal alloys, “We printed as much as we could verify. That’s all there is to it.”
Sachleben responded to the question of whether there is an explanation, at least for the metals themselves: “There aren’t as many mysteries in science as people believe. It’s not that we know everything; in fact, we don’t. But for the most part, we know enough to know what we don’t know.”