UFO Researcher Publicizes Another Piece of the Mysterious "Alien" Metal Handled by Bigelow Advanced Aerospace Space Systems and Hal Puthoff
A report in the Times of London indicates that the British government spent fifty years from 1947 to 1997 trying to catch a UFO on the off chance that it could yield advanced weapons technology. The RAF feared, according to the report, that the Soviet Union or China had already captured a flying saucer ad were using to make super-fast jet planes. As we now know, the Soviets and Chinese thought the same about Westerners, and the most obvious conclusion is that world governments had entered into a mutual delusion based on paranoia and wishful thinking. It’s always important to remember that governments are composed of people, and large numbers of people have been willing to believe things that are untrue. It’s also worth noting that the files—like the Pentagon UFO program in America—don’t describe UFOs as alien spaceships but couch their language in terms of “novel” propulsion technologies, suggesting that there may be earthbound explanations that world governments considered.
Meanwhile, a professor of physics who teaches a couple of miles up the road from me at SUNY Albany published a conspiratorial editorial in The Conversation (later picked up by The Daily Mail) late last week alleging that space aliens are real and that the U.S. government is covering them up. While Kevin Knuth leaned heavily on his credentials as a former NASA employee, he provided no “insider” knowledge, nor any indication that he had firsthand evidence of a government conspiracy. Instead, he took the media and fellow academics to task for not assuming that lights in the sky are spaceships from another world.
I think UFO skepticism has become something of a religion with an agenda, discounting the possibility of extraterrestrials without scientific evidence, while often providing silly hypotheses describing only one or two aspects of a UFO encounter reinforcing the popular belief that there is a conspiracy. A scientist must consider all of the possible hypotheses that explain all of the data, and since little is known, the extraterrestrial hypothesis cannot yet be ruled out. In the end, the skeptics often do science a disservice by providing a poor example of how science is to be conducted. The fact is that many of these encounters – still a very small percentage of the total – defy conventional explanation.
It goes without saying that “unexplained” means neither “unexplainable” nor “flying saucer,” only that insufficient evidence exists to make a determination. Since Knuth merely reiterates standard ufology claims, there is little to say except to note that he has committed a logical fallacy. He asks us to accept at face value the claim that “all of the data” about UFOs are linked to a singular phenomenon, namely spaceships from another world. But as I have frequently pointed out, up until the late 1970s or early 1980s, the various myths and beliefs now associated with ufology were not considered part of the same phenomenon. Beginning with the modern myth as your baseline inherently biases the results by distorting the very nature of any investigation into a seemingly anomalous piece of data.
It’s also worth noting that the fact Knuth accepts Jacques Vallée’s Wonders in the Sky as a reliable guide to premodern UFO encounters demonstrates that his research approach is not as thorough as he imagines. As I have demonstrated, the book (and the underlying texts used in its predecessor, Passport to Magonia) are fabricated, mistranslated, truncated, and otherwise altered with the intent to deceive.
There is more than a little irony in all this since Vallée is in part responsible for forging the random collection of weirdness from the 1970s into the modern UFO myth. As he explains in Forbidden Science, he was instrumental in popularizing the previously nonexistent link between cattle mutilations and UFOs by ensuring such material appeared in a widely-seen documentary film in which he served as narrator and host, a film that was the first mainstream discussion of “cattle mutilation” as a paranormal subject.
Knuth, it will surprise no one, lavishes praise on Tom DeLonge’s To the Stars Academy of Arts and Science for working to popularize government UFO documents, particularly in the effort they undertook to seed the New York Times with the story of the Pentagon’s UFO contract with Bigelow Advanced Aerospace Space Systems to track flying saucer reports. BAASS, as you will recall, holds a collection of supposedly “alien” metal that the company believes fell off of flying saucers. It provided some of that metal to DeLonge’s To the Stars because BAASS’s owner, Robert Bigelow, is a longtime patron of To the Stars executive and paranormal investigator Hal Puthoff.
Last month, Puthoff publicly identified one piece of the “alien” metal, the so-called Roswell Sample, which a previous investigator had determined was actually made from earthly materials and was probably industrial waste. Now a second piece of the so-called “alien” metal has been identified, and it is nearly as unimpressive as the first.
According to reports circulating in the media and on UFO blogs this past week, geologist Frank Kimbler, a longtime investigator of the supposed crash of a flying saucer in Roswell, New Mexico in 1947, claims that using a metal detector he discovered twenty small shards of metal near Roswell that he believes could be debris from the flying saucer. “Some of it could be trash, camper trash, but some of it could be interesting,” Kimbler told KRQE-TV. He added that upon finding the scraps of metal, he immediately worried that government helicopters would chase him down. “You get paranoid,” he said.
He said recently--and we will see that there are some issues here--that he has sought to have the metal tested to prove it is extraterrestrial, but the Bureau of Land Management, which owns the land where the metal was recovered, have asked to meet with Kimbler to evaluate whether the debris qualifies as an artifact and therefore belongs to the federal government. Kimbler spread word across the internet that the government was trying to seize the evidence, prompting a rash of outraged blog posts. But nothing happened. “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.
But Kimbler has been in possession of the shards of metal for seven years. In 2011, he contacted none other than Hal Puthoff’s Earth Tech and BAASS in an attempt to have the metal analyzed for ET content. Kimber reported at the time that the analysis went slowly and that he was deeply concerned by what he perceived to be shortcomings in Puthoff’s and BAASS’s process. A follow-up posting at UFO Trail reported on Kimbler’s emails that explained the problems in more detail:
[Kimbler] described both outfits as not forthcoming with information, sometimes requiring months of repeatedly asking the status of tests. He never received any data at all on one particular sample sent to BAASS, Kimbler wrote.
UFO Trail tried to get a response from Puthoff’s company, to no avail.
According to Kimbler, BAASS and Puthoff dragged their heels analyzing his sample, so he took it to an unnamed laboratory which concluded that the metal was from another world because of unusual magnesium isotopic ratios in his isotopic analysis. He gave the results in a chart. We will return to this anon.
If all this sounds familiar, it’s because Garry Nolan of To the Stars and Jacques Vallée, a paid Bigelow consultant who is working with Nolan, have both referred to isotopic ratios as proof that various pieces of metal came from other planets. If I follow the timeline correctly, it appears that BAASS and Puthoff only got into the isotopic analysis of magnesium after the Pentagon UFO program lost funding in fiscal 2012 and Kimbler reported his results in mid-2011. It is now the heart of their claim for “alien” metal.
Interestingly, another character connected to this saga seems to have been a vector for the promotion of the isotopic ratio claims. Peter Sturrock, a Stanford physicist and ufologist, wrote a report two decades ago on the physical evidence for UFOs—a report he published with the same fringe science group, the Society for Scientific Exploration, that sponsored Hal Puthoff’s recent Las Vegas lecture on alien metal. Sturrock was one of the SSE’s founders. Oh, and he also used to work with Jacques Vallée in the 1970s, at the time that Vallée and Puthoff were working together on UFOs. Vallée introduced Sturrock to ufology.
Sturrock analyzed a fragment of the so-called Ubatuba UFO. In the middle twentieth century, a claim was made that a flying saucer exploded over Brazil in 1957, and fragments of its magnesium metal fell to earth, of such purity that no human technology could reproduce them. The Condon Committee had a fragment tested, and it turned out not to be so pure after all, but a near duplicate of magnesium alloys made by Dow Metallurgical Laboratory in the 1940s and 1950s. Sturrock reanalyzed the Ubatuba fragments in 2001 and confirmed the Condon results. He also subjected them to isotopic analysis and found no significant anomalies.
In 2007, Russell Vernon Clark claimed that a so-called “Roswell sample” had non-earthly isotopic ratios, but other scientists who reviewed the findings determined that the discrepancies were likely due to the laboratory process involved in manufacturing the metal.
Kimbler, however, took Sturrock’s work and applied it to his Roswell debris. In 2011, this yielded a large anomaly, with an unusually large amount of Mg-25 compared to Mg-24. However, at the time Kimbler could not say whether this was due to a laboratory error or extraterrestrial origin. He was looking to have the results confirmed by two independent laboratories, which were testing it when he reported the first results in 2011. Seven years later, he is looking for new and different tests to “prove” the metal alien. Either he never finished the original tests, or they did not return the results he hoped for. The results Kimbler did publish (see above), which were said to be anomalous when plugged into Sturrock’s magnesium fractionation chart from 2001, were, however, not anomalous according to UFO researcher Keith Basterfield, but entirely within the standard and expected range. You can see it yourself in the chart Kimbler himself provided in 2011.
This therefore suggests that the error is in Kimbler’s application of the findings to Sturrock’s graph rather than in the sample since it is exactly what we’d expect from earthly metal.
Vallée, however, was on quite an isotope kick and retested the Ubatuba samples yet again in 2016 and reported the information in 2017 at Contact in the Desert, though he did not, so far as I know, publish the results anywhere else. The Ubatuba results again found no anomalous isotopes. He, however, said that he found anomalous ratios in samples from other events. It is perhaps disturbing that one tested sample was from Maury Island, where industrial waste was passed off as a UFO detritus in 1947. The remaining samples Vallée declined to identify. A sample of 99.3% pure titanium, mixed with 10 trace elements, that he code-named “Sierra” without any context or background information, yielded anomalous results for two titanium isotopes:
Titanium 46 - Standard % 8.25 - sample 8.70 and 7.66 (two runs)
Titanium 47 - Standard % 7.44 - sample 5.33 and 3.83
Titanium 48 - Standard % 73.72 - sample 73.91 and 76.56
Titanium 49 - Standard % 5.41 - sample 6.30 and 6.70
Titanium 50 - Standard % 5.18 - sample 5.76 and 5.26
The data, however, come from tests Vallée commissioned from a private company he finances, but which he has not confirmed is qualified to do the work and interpret it accurately. He would only confirm that “engineers” who built its mass spectrometer ran the samples through the machine at his request. “I have access to their engineers and not only do they have a machine, but they’ve built the machine, so I have access to the people who have actually engineered the instrument and we can begin to look at this,” he said last year. It’s also a bit disturbing to see that the same sample yielded such different results on two passes through the mass spectrometer.
But to make sure I was understanding this correctly, I contacted a few scholars who are familiar with isotopic fractionation for some their opinions. The results were fairly consistent: The results are interesting, but there is not enough data to draw any conclusions. Without information about the composition of trace elements, and whether they also have isotopic anomalies, as well as data about the machine used, how recently it was calibrated, and the test protocols involved (including the number of times the sample was analyzed), the resulting data lacks context to draw firm conclusions.
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.
Enter your email below to subscribe to my newsletter, The Skeptical Xenoarchaeologist, for updates on my latest projects, blog posts, and activities, and subscribe to Culture & Curiosities, my Substack newsletter.
Terms & Conditions
Please read all applicable terms and conditions before posting a comment on this blog. Posting a comment constitutes your agreement to abide by the terms and conditions linked herein.