This episode is suspiciously timed to two different events, the first being History’s Project Blue Book airing its two-part Roswell conspiracy dramatization and the second being History’s corporate partner To the Stars Academy of Arts and Science contracting with the Pentagon to study magnesium-bismuth metal fragments purchased from Linda Moulton Howe of Ancient Aliens. Those fragments, which Howe long claimed to have been residue of the Roswell crash, were previously known as Art’s Parts after the late Art Bell, who was their previous owner, and have been tested and retested since the 1990s, returning results that they are earthly, and most likely industrial waste.
In this episode, Giorgio Tsoukalos and Howe visit Howe’s L.A. safe deposit box where she keeps the Art’s Parts that she did not sell to TTSA. She also has a pill-shaped piece of “99% pure” aluminum that the two ancient astronaut theorists claim can’t be produced by human means. It can. You can buy it yourself, and it is widely used in electronics. Here is a link to similar pill-shaped pure aluminum chunks so you can get one of your own. Fool your friends! Make ufologists jealous! Howe tells the story of how Bell received the metal fragment through the mail and why Howe and Bell were able to delude themselves into believing that they were receiving a UFO one piece at a time.
The talking heads offer conspiracy theories about the supposed crash of a flying saucer at Roswell. The military has acknowledged that there was a coverup, but of a spy balloon crash, not an alien spaceship. Without acknowledging this, the show expands its conspiracy to allege that at least three alien spaceships crashed in New Mexico, which would make it seem like the aliens are really bad at space travel.
George Knapp, the biased Las Vegas journalist and UFO celebrity long in thrall to Robert Bigelow, alleges that the metal is not earthly and “we” didn’t make it. The show then omits TTSA altogether and falsely claims that Howe “handed over” her metal to the “U.S. Army.” She sold it to Tom DeLonge, who sold it to TTSA, which contracted with the Pentagon to study the metal. The metal is not owned by the Pentagon. Ancient Aliens is making Howe look like a hero rather than a profiteer, and Prometheus Entertainment is systematically downplaying a rival History Channel show (Unidentified) from a competing production company. Somebody at History should be plenty pissed that their flagship alien show is failing to cross-promote their New York Times-endorsed alien show.
More summary of the modern myth of the Roswell Incident follows, along with conspiracy theories involving a “memo” visible in a staged 1947 publicity photo of fake Roswell wreckage. We last saw this memo on Expedition Unknown, and the conclusion hasn’t changed, nor has the dubious deciphering of some of its blurry text. As I said back then, “The reading of another line finds a word that might be ‘rise’ or ‘disc.’ Big deal. The military itself called the object carried by the balloon a ‘disc,’ as it did in reporting the crash to the FBI, so this means nothing other than [it is] consistent with every other reference to the material the balloon was floating into the sky.”
Tsoukalos and Howe travel to New Mexico and meet with geologist and UFO researcher Frank Kimbler, and they discuss the claims he made—and I discussed—in 2018, including the allegation that the Bureau of Land Management attempted to suppress the “truth.” As I said at the time, BLM owned the land where Kimbler claimed to find Roswell wreckage, and they rightly requested that they evaluate the material he took from the land to ensure that it was not an artifact of historical value. “It had a happy ending. I got clarification on the rules and regulations from the BLM and there was no confiscation of materials,” Kimbler said at the time.
More Roswell conspiracy theories follow, alleging the recovery of alien bodies and claiming that witnesses were threatened into silence. The show wastes a lot of time having Kimbler take Tsoukalos and Howe on a metal-detecting hunt for UFO wreckage. They find some wires they plan to test. Kimbler’s fragments and the wires are tested for trace metals, and the wire fragments have selenium in them. Kimbler’s chunks of metal contain zirconium and molybdenum. Our heroes imagine that this shows them to fragments of an “exploded” UFO, though the elements in them are consistent with industrial waste. Molybdenum, for example, is present at more than half of all hazardous waste sites in America, according to the CDC.
We then get a repeat of the segment on alleged (and dubious) “nano” coils and springs from Russia, first seen in a 2016 episode. Repeated material from that episode about Soviet and Russian UFO encounters follow because Ancient Aliens couldn’t manage to keep their focus on Roswell for a full hour and they needed something to connect to ancient history to justify the Ancient Aliens brand name. Perhaps interesting, perhaps depressing, the show changed its claims about the springs from 20,000 years old to 50,000 years old since 2016. As I said at the time, there is no proof of the claims, and the springs have never been evaluated by independent researchers.
As the show wheezed to a conclusion, a specialist in metals tells Tsoukalos and Howe that some of Kimbler’s metal contained carbon and some contained indium, which everyone suggests means that the metals are “unusual” and possibly alien. Indium, while rare, is a byproduct of zinc refinement and is used in various solders. There being many potential earthly explanations—industrial waste is again a leading contender—there is no special reason to leap to alien spacecraft.
One problem investigators like Howe and TTSA face is that few people study industrial waste and slag because, as the name suggests, it’s a waste product. Therefore, it is difficult to know exactly what gets produced by accident under real-world conditions rather than the waste products produced in the lab under ideal conditions. So the materials accidentally created by industrial processes do not tend to show up in searches for compounds and substances to for comparison. Earthly possibilities need to be eliminated before jumping to a conclusion that mysterious miracle metal came from space.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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