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F***ing UFOs! How do they work?
June 19, 2011 5:19 PM   Subscribe

"The conventional wisdom, promoted by government and echoed by the subservient media, is that UFOs are mysterious objects which by definition are unknowable. Anyone attempting to explain them is a charlatan perpetrating a hoax and using 'junk physics' . That may not be so."

The author of this forthcoming book is a theoretical physicist who did his graduate
work in elementary particle theory at MIT in the 1960s. He only
became interested in the subject of UFOs three years ago.
posted by Obscure Reference (50 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
I read some of it.....and I just feel a little EDUCATED STUPID.
posted by lazaruslong at 5:22 PM on June 19, 2011


Summary of UFO Physics.
posted by lazaruslong at 5:24 PM on June 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


oh god it even has a chapter that is freakin' titled "Why This Book May Not be Numerological Hallucination"
posted by lazaruslong at 5:26 PM on June 19, 2011


The fundamental revelation, that UFOs possess gravitationally negative mass, is an inescapable consequence of the fact that UFOs sometimes "levitate" people and cars.

Now, I'm no theoretical physicist, but....
posted by mittens at 5:28 PM on June 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


He only became interested in the subject of UFOs three years ago.

Sure he did. And there was that girl he met in Mexico that time, of course he doesn't have a photo they were too busy gettin it on.

To get semi-serious for a second, it's always amused me when people try to explain UFO activity within the parameters of our understanding of the world and the universe. If UFOs exist then you'll surely have to throw the textbook away. And uninstall Microsoft Paint. UFOs would redefine our existence and our universe, forget making sense of them.
posted by fire&wings at 5:30 PM on June 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


Anybody wishing to “debunk” the thesis of this book, that UFOs posses negative mass, would have a formidable problem.

Dang it! I retract my previous ironic ellipsis!
posted by mittens at 5:31 PM on June 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


We know a gravitational vector potential from
the UFO lifts the car. But how? There has to be an answer.

Yep occam's razor cuts this to ribbons. I hope his tongue is firmly in his cheek.
posted by multivalent at 5:32 PM on June 19, 2011


Negative mass? Where can I get some of this and how best to prepare it for dinner?
posted by Apoch at 5:33 PM on June 19, 2011


This all checks out.
posted by TwelveTwo at 5:37 PM on June 19, 2011 [7 favorites]


Well... if you allow negative mass, all sorts of crazy things are possible, ex the Diametric Drive
posted by BungaDunga at 5:37 PM on June 19, 2011


If the positive A(+) of the universe creates inertia, and it is excluded from the saucer-car region, then by Mach’s Principle (or if you wish, its corollary) there is no inertia in that region. The negative mass can be spun at high speed because the mass has no inertia, no centrifugal force is created by spinning it, and no centripetal force is required to hold it together.
Out of curiosity, does this make any sense at all?
posted by BungaDunga at 5:42 PM on June 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


I’m so glad the author of Time Cube finally tried his hand at a sequel.
posted by sidesh0w at 5:43 PM on June 19, 2011


Dementia is a terrible disease.
posted by Avenger at 5:43 PM on June 19, 2011


Negative mass? Where can I get some of this and how best to prepare it for dinner?

No, no, no ... you've got it all wrong ... "Negative Mass" is The Church's excommunication ritual.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 5:43 PM on June 19, 2011


All the conclusions in the book come directly from interpreting the eye witness reports. The basic conclusions were an inevitable consequence of applying standard physics principles to the reports.

GIGO.
posted by googly at 5:46 PM on June 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


One of my pet peeves is when people use the term "UFO" to mean "alien spacecraft" or "advanced technology vehicle".

Goddammit, if you know what it is, it's not a goddamn UFO. Get that shit straight.
posted by Xoebe at 5:47 PM on June 19, 2011 [17 favorites]


John Bigboote: It's not my goddamn planet. Understand, monkey boy?
posted by storybored at 5:49 PM on June 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


What's the point of this post? LOLUFOZ? This is theoretical physics, a.k.a. science non-fiction. It's speculation, even if the author doesn't state it explicitly. Which, of course, makes him look like a Time Cube-esque nut.

The eyewitness accounts of UFOs, though, constitute a massive body of research, if not potential evidence. Anyone can come up with a theory of UFOs, tongue in cheek or not. Far more interesting for me is the body of evidence. The thousands and thousands of eyewitness accounts are completely anecdotal, but interesting nonetheless.
posted by zardoz at 5:51 PM on June 19, 2011


This is awesome, he's got the science all worked out. Now I can make my Tipler Cylinder.
posted by charlie don't surf at 5:52 PM on June 19, 2011


Wut?
posted by Splunge at 6:04 PM on June 19, 2011


Would it be possible to make a negative mass chocolate chip cookie? Because I would eat about 1,452 of them per sitting.
posted by maxwelton at 6:10 PM on June 19, 2011


Call me persnickety, but I find it hard to take a website and its author seriously when he's used H1 Times New Roman, a free web counter, visible table borders, and no page titles. Needs animated gifs, midi player, rainbow lettering and a twinkly star background to round out that 1997 style.
posted by empatterson at 6:16 PM on June 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Would it be possible to make a negative mass chocolate chip cookie? Because I would eat about 1,452 of them per sitting.

I think you might have trouble keeping them down.
posted by TwelveTwo at 6:18 PM on June 19, 2011 [6 favorites]


a good deal of what people reported as seeing is explained in great measure by the recent book just out on what was going on (and still is) at area 51, which includes Roswell.
Roswell and area 51
I believe the explanations are both responsible and accurate, as well as evidence cited. Alas, no indication of real thingies from way out there in other planets.
posted by Postroad at 6:23 PM on June 19, 2011


7. Cause car engines and headlights to die
(there is no force on earth that can turn a car
off and on at a distance with no after effect)


I guess they never heard of OnStar?
posted by pjern at 6:30 PM on June 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Xoebe, I was just coming in here to say that.

I don't care if it's being driven by superintelligent shades of the color blue, certain members of my extended family, or the goddamn Sta-Puft Marshmallow Man. If it's a spaceship, it's been identified. Grar.

(Certain flying insects I am willing to slot into the UFO category because OH JESUS CHRIST WHAT WAS THAT AND WHERE DID IT GO?)
posted by cmyk at 6:54 PM on June 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


centrifugal force

I guess he is a theoretical physicist.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:00 PM on June 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'll bet this dude's a certified genius.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:07 PM on June 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


One thing it's worth considering when thinking about UFOs is this - even if sightings are treated as real, it's entirely possible that none of them are actual interstellar or interplanetary spacecraft. There's no reason to think that aliens, if they were here, wouldn't use some sort of shuttlecraft or unmanned drone for their exploration of the planetary atmosphere - hell, NASA has done that with several of our interplanetary probes (Cassini and Huygens, Galileo and the atmospheric probe, etc.) All of those things we've seen could have just been the alien spacecraft's little throwaway computerized probes, and the actual spaceship could be just hanging out in orbit or back in the Kuiper belt or something.

Personally I tend to think that the sightings are likely just proof of humanity being made up of unreliable observers, and that interstellar travel is basically impossible beyond things like solar sails and nuclear-powered ships like the Orion. I do think it's fun to think about sometimes, though.
posted by Mitrovarr at 7:11 PM on June 19, 2011


One of my pet peeves is when people use the term "UFO" to mean ... "advanced technology vehicle".

All those stories of back-country folk getting anal-probed on UFOs ATVs are starting to make a lot more sense.
posted by griphus at 7:11 PM on June 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'll bet this dude's a certified* genius.

*certification valid for novelty purposes only.
posted by TwelveTwo at 7:22 PM on June 19, 2011


The author of this forthcoming book is a theoretical physicist who did his graduate
work in elementary particle theory at MIT in the 1960s


I love how this statement completely fails at lending any credibility to anything else on the site.

I wonder if this guy had a girlfriend in High School. He met her in Niagra Falls. You wouldn't know her.
posted by thanotopsis at 7:35 PM on June 19, 2011


The thousands and thousands of eyewitness accounts are completely anecdotal, but interesting nonetheless.
posted by zardoz at 5:51 PM on June 19 [+] [!]

The plural of "anecdote" is still not "data".
posted by kcds at 7:44 PM on June 19, 2011


[Please do not post people's personal info in a thread. Thanks. ]
posted by restless_nomad at 7:57 PM on June 19, 2011 [1 favorite]



The plural of "anecdote" is still not "data".


Not all data is factual. The fact that a large percentage of the population believe in UFOs based on nothing but some very sketchy reports is interesting data in itself.
posted by doctor_negative at 8:08 PM on June 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Apoch: "Negative mass? Where can I get some of this and how best to prepare it for dinner?"

HRRRK
posted by Rhaomi at 9:15 PM on June 19, 2011


I think it's great. Apparently it's necessary to "get" this post. Since when is it no good to post something weird and fun to read?
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 9:32 PM on June 19, 2011


Well I can see there were no Larry Niven fans in this thread.
posted by charlie don't surf at 9:59 PM on June 19, 2011


To all would-be wonder-makers: if you're really sure that your science is right, please just quietly build one of your devices. Zoom it around for a while. Then publish the explanatory articles. Granted, this didn't work too well for Nicola Tesla, but the world has changed since then.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 10:01 PM on June 19, 2011


Didn't we have an article about something I'd term "negative mass" just recently?
posted by Hairy Lobster at 10:54 PM on June 19, 2011


That was fascinating! It's very much science fiction, in that he takes a What If premise (what if the UFOCAT reports are accurately and consistently describing a single phenomenon) and then tries to figure out how such a thing would function. It's hard SF, but without a plot or characters. It's problematic as a description of anything real, of course, because of his initial assumption: most likely the UFO reports are not describing a single phenomenon, but are instead a mass of misidentifications of various ordinary phenomena, leavened with a substantial number of outright falsifications.

I really did enjoy his description of how an anti gravity vehicle would work, though. I followed most of it, but he lost me with the vector calculus. So when he gets to the Fundamental Equation of a Flying Saucer page and says:


Positive and negative masses repel each other through their fields, and the field has to be zero on the boundary. If a region of space existed around a gravitationally negative mass, the scalar potential would be negative and the A vector derived from this field would be anti-parallel to the velocity

A = - |φ|v/c2

as opposed to parallel, A = Φv/c2.

This is to be expected as Φ and A form a four-vector in relativity

Aμ = (A,φ)

so if φ is negative, so is A.

These parallel conditions are mutually exclusive; you cannot have A parallel and anti-parallel to v at the same time. Therefore the positive and negative gravity spaces would have to be disjoint.


I really don't get it. And that part is crucial to his thesis that there'd be a zero inertia bubble around the UFO.
posted by Kevin Street at 11:22 PM on June 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't read them books. For me it's exactly the same. There's no difference between a flying saucer and a time machine. People get so hung up on specifics, they can't see the whole thing.
posted by adipocere at 11:32 PM on June 19, 2011


Thinking about it a little more, I'm not sure I get how his saucer would move in any direction that isn't up or down. Basically, he's saying that the negative mass ring rotates, producing "an extended space of the negative vector potential" (ie: an antigravity bubble), which lifts the saucer. Then to move in orthogonal directions, the spinning ring is tilted at various angles relative to the positive mass UFO inside the ring, which makes the craft "fall" in the direction you want it to move.

But doesn't it still have to fight Earth's gravity to stay aloft? To move orthogonally you'd need at least two spinning rings, one to keep the craft in the air, and one to make it fall in the direction of motion. But then the fields produced by each ring would interact, making the whole thing really unstable.
posted by Kevin Street at 11:53 PM on June 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


A hundred years ago they were called 'Phantom Airships'. A thousand years ago they were levitating saints, witches or flying ships. Four thousand years ago, fiery chariots. 'UFO' is inaccurate because it implies that these things have a physical reality. A better name would be 'FSPS', or 'Flying shit people see'.
posted by Hogshead at 12:17 AM on June 20, 2011


That may not be so.

Yeah, but it is.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 2:15 AM on June 20, 2011


UFOs are us...
posted by atomicmedia at 2:53 AM on June 20, 2011


The conventional wisdom, promoted by government and echoed by the subservient media...

Seriously? The only UFO information I've ever seen on TV would lead me to believe they are everywhere. UFOs are actually only ever debunked by people donating time, money and equipment to finding out the truth. And with that tiny amount of work, UFOs still have a hard time seeming believable.
posted by DU at 4:44 AM on June 20, 2011


Calling other people crazy and stupid makes me feel better about myself.
posted by Bushidoboy at 5:29 AM on June 20, 2011


This is theoretical physics, a.k.a. science non-fiction.

E=mc2

Solve for negative mass. Hmm, negative energy. A *lot* of negative energy.

Okay, explore what negative energy means.

Errr....umm....Hey, look Rory won the US OPEN!!!
posted by eriko at 6:04 AM on June 20, 2011


A hundred years ago they were called 'Phantom Airships'. A thousand years ago they were levitating saints, witches or flying ships. Four thousand years ago, fiery chariots. 'UFO' is inaccurate because it implies that these things have a physical reality. A better name would be 'FSPS', or 'Flying shit people see'.

Yeah, I vaguely recall reading something by Jung about flying saucers, he noted the same examples of visions of flying circles, dating back to the bible and the earliest recorded writings. He said that people need to see UFOs, the circles are symbols of wholeness, a message from above.
posted by charlie don't surf at 8:36 AM on June 20, 2011


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