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The protein ricin (pronounced rye-sin) is a poison manufactured from the castor bean (Ricinus communis). Its name comes from the seed's resemblance to the tick. Ricin can be extracted from castor beans and is known to have an average lethal dose in humans of 0.2 milligrams (1/5,000th of a gram), though some sources give higher figures . It is considered to be twice as deadly as cobra venom.
Toxicity and manufacture
Ricin is poisonous if inhaled, injected, or ingested, acting as a toxin by the inhibition of protein synthesis. There is no known antidote; only symptomatic and supportive treatment is available. Long term organ damage is likely in survivors. In small doses, such as the typical dose contained in a measure of castor oil, ricin causes digestive tract cramps. Ingested in larger doses, ricin causes severe diarrhea and victims can die of shock. (See abrin).
Although the castor bean plant has long been noted for its toxicity, ricin was first isolated and named in 1888 by Hermann Stillmark. Modern feed-making techniques break down the ricin in castor beans by heating at 140 degrees Celsius for 20 minutes, although some studies suggest that residual toxic effects may linger. Although one seed contains enough ricin to kill an adult human, they may pass harmlessly through the digestive system if swallowed whole. . Typically 2.5–20 raw seeds can kill an adult human; 4 a rabbit, 5 a sheep, 6 an ox, 6 a horse, 7 a pig, 11 a dog, but 80 for cocks and ducks.
Ricin consists of two distinct protein chains (almost 30kDa each) that are linked to each other by disulfide bond:
Many plants such as barley have the A chain but not the B chain. Since people do not get sick from eating large amounts of such products, ricin A is of extremely low toxicity if and only if the B chain is not present.
Ricin is easily purified from castor-oil manufacturing waste. The seed-pulp left over from pressing for castor oil contains on average about 5% by weight of ricin. Since 0.2 mg of purified Ricin constitutes a fatal dose, this is a considerable amount of ricin.
As little as one castor bean, about 0.5 grams, may be fatal in a child.
In the United states, a person caught manufacturing or possessing ricin may be sentenced up to 30 years in prison.
Potential medicinal use
Ricin may have therapeutic use in the treatment of cancer. Ricin could be linked to a monoclonal antibody to target malignant cells recognized by the antibody. Genetic modification of ricin is believed to be possible to lessen its toxicity to humans, but not to the cancer cells. A promising approach is also to use the non-toxic B subunit as a vehicle for delivering antigens into cells thus greatly increasing their immunogenicity. Use of ricin as an adjuvant has potential implications for developing mucosal vaccines
Use as a chemical/biological warfare agent
The United States investigated ricin for its military potential during the First World War. At that time it was being considered for use either as a toxic dust or coated bullets and shrapnel. The dust cloud concept could not be adequately developed, and researchers believed the coated bullet/shrapnel concept was unethical. The War ended before it was weaponized.
During the Second World War the United States and Canada undertook studying ricin in cluster bombs. Though there were plans for mass production and several field trials with different bomblet concepts, the end conclusion was that it was no more economical than using phosgene. This conclusion was based on comparison of the final weapons rather than ricin's toxicity (LD50 <30 mg.min.m–3). Ricin was given the military symbol W.
The best-known documented use of ricin as an agent of biological warfare was by the Soviet Union's KGB during the Cold War. In 1978, the Bulgarian dissident Georgi Markov was assassinated by Bulgarian secret police who surreptitiously 'shot' him on a London street with a modified umbrella using compressed gas to fire a tiny pellet contaminated with ricin into his leg. He died in hospital a few days later; the pellet was discovered by chance during an autopsy and the poison linked back to the KGB. Earlier, Soviet dissident Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn also suffered (but survived) ricin-like symptoms after a 1971 encounter with KGB agents (D.M. Thomas, Alexander Solzhenitsyn: A Century in His Life, 368-378).
Despite ricin's extreme toxicity and utility as an agent of chemical/biological warfare, it is extremely difficult to limit the production of the toxin. Under both the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention and the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention, ricin is listed as a schedule 1 controlled substance. Despite this, more than 1 million metric tonnes of castor beans are processed each year, and approximately 5% of the total is rendered into a waste containing high concentrations of ricin toxin .
In August of 2002, US officials asserted that the Islamic militant group Ansar al-Islam tested ricin, along with other chemical and biological agents, in northern Iraq.
To put ricin used as weapon into perspective, it is worth noting that as a biological weapon or chemical weapon, ricin may be considered as not very powerful, if only in comparison with other poisons such as botulinum or anthrax. Hence, a military willing to use biological weapons and having advanced resources would rather use either of the latter instead. Ricin is easy to produce, but is not as practical nor likely to cause as high casualities as other agents. Ricin denatures (ie, the protein changes structure and becomes less dangerous) much more readily than anthrax spores, which may remain lethal for decades. (Jan van Aken, an expert on biological weapons explained in an interview with the German magazine Der Spiegel that he judges it rather reassuring that Al Qaeda experimented with ricin as it suggests their inability to produce botulin or anthrax.)
Pure ricin could be dispersed through the air, however it would tend to be oxidized and rendered harmless by ozone, nitrogen oxides, and other pollutants in a matter of hours. Since it acts as an enzyme, catalyzing destruction of ribosomes, even a single oxidation is likely to render the ricin molecule harmless. Presumably it could be sealed inside some sort of dust particle that would dissolve in water, but this would be difficult.
The major reason it is dangerous is that there is no specific antidote, and that it is very easy to obtain (the castor bean plant is a common ornamental, and can be grown at home without any special care). Ricin is actually several orders of magnitude less toxic than botulinum or tetanus toxins, but those are more difficult to obtain.
Ricin patent"Preparation of Toxic Ricin",
The process for creating ricin is well-known, in part because a patent was granted for it in 1952. The inventors named in US Patent 3,060,165 (granted October 23, 1962) "Preparation of Toxic Ricin", assigned to the U.S. Secretary of the Army, are Harry L. Craig, O.H. Alderks, Alsoph H. Corwin, Sally H. Dieke, and Charlotte Karel.
The patent was removed from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) database sometime in 2004, but is still available online through international patent databases.
Ricin extraction process
The extraction of ricin from castor beans is very similar to the prepartion of soy protein isolates. Modern extraction plants might use membrane filtration to make highly purified ricin isolates
Ricin is initially extracted from defatted castor beans by aquous extraction at pH 3.8 to yield a leachate containing solubilized ricin. The leachate is filtered to remove insoluble matter and the crude ricin then precipitated by the addition of a 12% solution of sodium sulfate with a pH of 7.0-8.0. After precipitation, the crude ricin cake is washed with a 16.7% solution of sodium sulfate to remove extranious nitrogenous substances. The precipitated ricin may be reextracted once to further purify it.
The final ricin precipitate is dried and then purified by floatation in carbon tetrachloride. An aerosol powder may be prepared by spray drying or air grinding the purified ricin using cold air.
Ricin-related arrests in Britain in 2003
It was widely reported in the media that traces of ricin were detected by British police in a flat in Wood Green, North London after a raid on a suspected ring of terrorists on 5 January 2003. Media reports stated that a group was suspected of intending to use the poison in an attack on the London Underground. However at the trial of Kamel Bourgass in 2005 it became apparent that within a few days of the raid the leader of the Biological Weapon Identification Group at the Porton Down Defence Science and Technology Laboratory had concluded that ricin was not present at Wood Green  . Some acetone, 22 castor beans, and poor recipes for ricin and other poisons copied from the Internet were found. It appears that an individual conducting amateur research on poisons was found in this raid.
A little later several arrests were made in France and a bottle of something that tested positive for ricin was found. Further analysis identified the material as ground wheat germ. The analytic confusion was caused by the similarity of many plant proteins to one of the ricin components, which suggests that higher quality (better specificity and sensitivity) analytic tests for ricin are needed.
Six more suspects were arrested in Bournemouth in England in connection with the investigation into the alleged ricin incident in London. They were not convicted of any poisons related crime.
Three more suspects were arrested in Manchester in England in connection with the investigation of the alleged ricin found in London, following a raid carried out pursuant to an investigation into immigration issues. A Special Branch policeman, DC Stephen Oake, was fatally stabbed during the arrests, and three other officers were also injured, one seriously.
On January 20, 2003 Finsbury Park mosque was raided by police, apparently as part of the investigation into the alleged discovery of ricin in Wood Green. A number of men who were apparently living at the mosque were arrested.
On February 5, 2003, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell presented those arrested as the "UK Poison Cell" of a global terrorist network in making the case for military intervention in Iraq to the UN Security Council .
In April 2005 31-year-old Kamel Bourgass was jailed for 17 years after being convicted of conspiracy to commit a public nuisance "by the use of poisons and explosives to cause disruption, fear or injury". He was also jailed for life following a conviction for murdering the Special Branch policeman who went to arrest him. All others accused in connection with the Wood Green flat were acquitted on all counts.
Ricin in Washington, D.C.
Ricin was detected in the mail at the White House in Washington, D.C. in November of 2003. The letter containing it was intercepted at a mail handling facility off the grounds of the White House, and it never reached its intended destination. The letter contained a fine powdery substance that later tested positive for ricin. Investigators said it was low potency and was not considered a health risk. This information was not made public until February 3, 2004, when preliminary tests showed the presence of ricin in an office mailroom of U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's office. There were no signs that anyone who was near the contaminated area developed any medical problems. Several Senate office buildings were closed as a precaution.
Ricin in popular culture
Ricin was the poison used in the Agatha Christie Tommy and Tuppence whodunnit The House of Lurking Death in a 1929 collection of short stories called Partners in Crime.
Ricin was used as the poison of choice of the murderer in the 1962 comedy film Kill or Cure.
Ricin was mentioned in the "call me the prankster" comic at toothpaste for dinner
The Penn and Teller book How To Play With Your Food (ISBN 0679743111) includes a "gimmicks envelope" of small objects related to the tricks inside the book. One of these is a sticker reading "With all-natural ricin!". The book explains that ricin is a poison.
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The book explains that ricin is a poison. It is sometimes said that "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence", but many pro-research groups only claim that the topic deserves further investigation, not that UFOs ar. One of these is a sticker reading "With all-natural ricin!". On the other hand, many still inexplicable cases are either ignored by the media or, if a purported skeptic offers an explanation that fails to fit the facts (e.g., Zig-zagging formation of lights and confirmed by radar are blamed on misinterpreting 'Jupiter'), it is often taken up by the press and the case is closed, as far as the media is concerned. The Penn and Teller book How To Play With Your Food (ISBN 0679743111) includes a "gimmicks envelope" of small objects related to the tricks inside the book. Sightings like this are harder to dismiss.". Ricin was mentioned in the "call me the prankster" comic at toothpaste for dinner. Some of the most intriguing sightings have been made by seasoned pilots and passengers aboard air line flights which have also been tracked by radar and have been videotaped.
Ricin was used as the poison of choice of the murderer in the 1962 comedy film Kill or Cure. Similarly, Physicist Michio Kaku states that although "perhaps 99% of all sightings of UFOs can be dismissed as being caused by familiar phenomena" that "What is disturbing, to a physicist however, is the remaining 1% of these sightings, which are multiple sightings made by multiple methods of observations. Ricin was the poison used in the Agatha Christie Tommy and Tuppence whodunnit The House of Lurking Death in a 1929 collection of short stories called Partners in Crime. However, even if the overwhelming majority of all UFOs become IFOs, one well documented case such as the Chile 1997 radar/visual case confirmed by the government in Santiago  is sufficient to negate the 'null hypothesis'. Several Senate office buildings were closed as a precaution. Their percentage of unexplained cases out of 3200 studied was 22%, which went up to 35% for the best cases. There were no signs that anyone who was near the contaminated area developed any medical problems. The 1950s Battelle Memorial Institute statistical study, commissioned by Project Blue Book, found that it was actually the better cases with the better witnesses and evidence that tended to defy explanation.
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's office. However, a small residual, from 3% to 30% depending on who is doing the counting, remain unexplained. This information was not made public until February 3, 2004, when preliminary tests showed the presence of ricin in an office mailroom of U.S. After investigation, most UFOs actually become IFOs — Identified Flying Objects. Investigators said it was low potency and was not considered a health risk. Only a few percent of sightings have been actual hoaxes. The letter contained a fine powdery substance that later tested positive for ricin. These turn out to be honest mistakes.
The letter containing it was intercepted at a mail handling facility off the grounds of the White House, and it never reached its intended destination. Skeptics and ufologists both agree that the vast majority of cases can be explained as natural phenomena, usually misidentification of objects that viewers are either unfamiliar with or see in unusual conditions. in November of 2003. There is sometimes corroborating evidence such as simultaneous radar contact, photographs/movies/video, or physical interactions with the environment, e.g., electromagnetic interference, physiological effects, or "landing traces." (see Science and UFOs section). Ricin was detected in the mail at the White House in Washington, D.C. It is also noted that UFO evidence goes beyond just eyewitness accounts. All others accused in connection with the Wood Green flat were acquitted on all counts. Gordon Cooper and Edgar Mitchell are two NASA astronauts who have expressed an interest in UFOs, and both have decried what they consider the biased attitudes of some professionals; Cooper claims to have seen UFOs in the early 1950s.
He was also jailed for life following a conviction for murdering the Special Branch policeman who went to arrest him. Some Ufologists argue such cases are more difficult to dismiss as misidentification of mundane objects. In April 2005 31-year-old Kamel Bourgass was jailed for 17 years after being convicted of conspiracy to commit a public nuisance "by the use of poisons and explosives to cause disruption, fear or injury". Some feel that UFO study is still a worthwhile topic because of open questions, especially due to occasional reports of UFOs from professional or military astronomers or pilots — individuals whose careers, and often their very lives, rely on their ability to recognize and assess aircraft, weather conditions, distances, and other factors vital to flight. Secretary of State Colin Powell presented those arrested as the "UK Poison Cell" of a global terrorist network in making the case for military intervention in Iraq to the UN Security Council . Some of the more popular hypotheses for explaining UFOs are:. On February 5, 2003, U.S. The remaining residue of unexplained UFO sightings constitute a debate on their ultimate origin.
A number of men who were apparently living at the mosque were arrested. Depending on who is doing the evaluation, between about 3% and 30% of all cases remain unexplained. On January 20, 2003 Finsbury Park mosque was raided by police, apparently as part of the investigation into the alleged discovery of ricin in Wood Green. Common misidentifications of natural objects include:. A Special Branch policeman, DC Stephen Oake, was fatally stabbed during the arrests, and three other officers were also injured, one seriously. Common misidentifications of human phenomena include:. Three more suspects were arrested in Manchester in England in connection with the investigation of the alleged ricin found in London, following a raid carried out pursuant to an investigation into immigration issues. Hendry’s conclusions were:.
They were not convicted of any poisons related crime. Hendry admitted that he would like to find evidence for extraterrestrials but noted that the vast majority of cases had prosaic explanations. Six more suspects were arrested in Bournemouth in England in connection with the investigation into the alleged ricin incident in London. In 1979, Hendry published his conclusions in The UFO Handbook: A Guide to Investigating, Evaluating, and Reporting UFO Sightings. The analytic confusion was caused by the similarity of many plant proteins to one of the ricin components, which suggests that higher quality (better specificity and sensitivity) analytic tests for ricin are needed. Hendry spent 15 months personally investigating 1,307 UFO reports. Further analysis identified the material as ground wheat germ. Allen Hynek (who had been a consultant for the Air Force’s Project Blue Book) to provide a serious scientific investigation into UFOs.
A little later several arrests were made in France and a bottle of something that tested positive for ricin was found. CUFOS was founded by Dr. It appears that an individual conducting amateur research on poisons was found in this raid. In contrast, much more conservative numbers for the percentage of UFOs were arrived at individually by Allen Hendry, who was the chief investigator for the Center for UFO Studies (CUFOS). Some acetone, 22 castor beans, and poor recipes for ricin and other poisons copied from the Internet were found. For example, scientists for the Battelle Memorial Institute, who did a study for the USAF of 3201 UFO cases in the 1950s, ended up with 22% being unidentified, using the stringent criteria that all four analysts had to agree that the case had no prosaic explanation, whereas agreement of only two analysts was needed to list the case as explained. However at the trial of Kamel Bourgass in 2005 it became apparent that within a few days of the raid the leader of the Biological Weapon Identification Group at the Porton Down Defence Science and Technology Laboratory had concluded that ricin was not present at Wood Green  . UFOs depends on who is doing the study and can vary widely depending on criteria.
Media reports stated that a group was suspected of intending to use the poison in an attack on the London Underground. However, the actual percentages of IFOs vs. It was widely reported in the media that traces of ricin were detected by British police in a flat in Wood Green, North London after a raid on a suspected ring of terrorists on 5 January 2003. While a small percentage of UFO reports are deliberate hoaxes, most are misidentifications of natural and man-made phenomena. An aerosol powder may be prepared by spray drying or air grinding the purified ricin using cold air. It has been estimated that up to 90% of all reported UFO sightings are eventually identified. The final ricin precipitate is dried and then purified by floatation in carbon tetrachloride.  (See also wonder weapons).
The precipitated ricin may be reextracted once to further purify it.  Other microwave weapons have been proposed that would cause loss of bodily functions. After precipitation, the crude ricin cake is washed with a 16.7% solution of sodium sulfate to remove extranious nitrogenous substances.  A microwave crowd control nonlethal weapon causing heating and intense pain was announced in 2001. The leachate is filtered to remove insoluble matter and the crude ricin then precipitated by the addition of a 12% solution of sodium sulfate with a pH of 7.0-8.0. The same weapon is also reported capable of disrupting aircraft navigation and communication systems, as well as ground electronics and power grids. Ricin is initially extracted from defatted castor beans by aquous extraction at pH 3.8 to yield a leachate containing solubilized ricin. Air Force Scientific Advisory Board issued a report on 21st century air force weaponry, in which they described microwave directed energy weapons that could be used to stall vehicles, making them easy targets for bombing.
Modern extraction plants might use membrane filtration to make highly purified ricin isolates. In late 1998, the U.S. The extraction of ricin from castor beans is very similar to the prepartion of soy protein isolates. Some recently reported developments in electronic warfare mimic electromagnetic interference and physiologic effects described in UFO cases dating back to the 1940s and 1950s, and may conceivably be examples of military reverse engineering efforts. The patent was removed from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) database sometime in 2004, but is still available online through international patent databases. Leik Myrabo, Professor of Engineering Physics at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute as a possible advance in hypersonic flight.1995 Aviation Week article. Dieke, and Charlotte Karel. McCampbell's solution of a microwave plasma parting the air in front of the craft is currently being researched by Dr.
Corwin, Sally H. Among subjects tackled by both McCampbell and Hill was the question of how UFOs can fly at supersonic speeds without creating a sonic boom. Alderks, Alsoph H. Examples are former NASA engineer James McCampbell in his book Ufology online and NACA/NASA engineer Paul Hill in his book Unconventional Flying Objects. Craig, O.H. Some scientists and engineers have attempted to reverse engineer the possible physics behind UFOs through analysis of both eyewitness reports and the physical evidence. Secretary of the Army, are Harry L. A comprehensive scientific review of physical evidence cases was carried out by the 1997 Sturrock UFO panel..
The inventors named in US Patent 3,060,165 (granted October 23, 1962) "Preparation of Toxic Ricin", assigned to the U.S. Despite the low opinion of the subject matter possibly held by many scientists, many reported physical effects would seem to be ripe for scientific analysis. The process for creating ricin is well-known, in part because a patent was granted for it in 1952. A list of various physical evidence cases includes:. Ricin is actually several orders of magnitude less toxic than botulinum or tetanus toxins, but those are more difficult to obtain. However, even the ambiguous physical cases should be amenable to statistical analysis to reveal possible underlying trends across cases. The major reason it is dangerous is that there is no specific antidote, and that it is very easy to obtain (the castor bean plant is a common ornamental, and can be grown at home without any special care). Analyses of most cases have results that are ambiguous or inconclusive.
Presumably it could be sealed inside some sort of dust particle that would dissolve in water, but this would be difficult. A larger fraction, including those researched by governmental and military authorities, have been labeled unidentified or unexplainable. Since it acts as an enzyme, catalyzing destruction of ribosomes, even a single oxidation is likely to render the ricin molecule harmless. A small fraction of these cases have been shown to be deliberate hoaxes. Pure ricin could be dispersed through the air, however it would tend to be oxidized and rendered harmless by ozone, nitrogen oxides, and other pollutants in a matter of hours. More direct physical evidence comes from "close encounters of the second kind," interactions occurring at close range, which include so-called "landing traces," and physiological effects. (Jan van Aken, an expert on biological weapons explained in an interview with the German magazine Der Spiegel that he judges it rather reassuring that Al Qaeda experimented with ricin as it suggests their inability to produce botulin or anthrax.). data obtained from afar, such as radar contacts or photographs.
Ricin denatures (ie, the protein changes structure and becomes less dangerous) much more readily than anthrax spores, which may remain lethal for decades. Hynek's close encounter scale would define indirect physical evidence as data obtained from "close encounters of the first kind," i.e. Ricin is easy to produce, but is not as practical nor likely to cause as high casualities as other agents. There have, in fact been many UFO reports accompanied by physical evidence of various kinds, both direct and indirect. Hence, a military willing to use biological weapons and having advanced resources would rather use either of the latter instead. Nobody, for example, demands an actual piece of a neutron star for analysis. To put ricin used as weapon into perspective, it is worth noting that as a biological weapon or chemical weapon, ricin may be considered as not very powerful, if only in comparison with other poisons such as botulinum or anthrax. Kaku and others have noted that much of physical science consists of indirect physical evidence, such as spectrograms of stars to determine composition.
In August of 2002, US officials asserted that the Islamic militant group Ansar al-Islam tested ricin, along with other chemical and biological agents, in northern Iraq. Michio Kaku, that the demand for hard physical evidence (the fabled "alien hubcap") is an unreasonably restrictive one. Despite this, more than 1 million metric tonnes of castor beans are processed each year, and approximately 5% of the total is rendered into a waste containing high concentrations of ricin toxin . It has also been argued by various people, such as physicist Dr. Under both the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention and the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention, ricin is listed as a schedule 1 controlled substance. . Despite ricin's extreme toxicity and utility as an agent of chemical/biological warfare, it is extremely difficult to limit the production of the toxin. Jacques Vallee,  or Larry Hatch, who maintains a public database of thousands of cases with online statistical analyses.
Thomas, Alexander Solzhenitsyn: A Century in His Life, 368-378).  Various other researchers have also compiled such databases, such as Dr. Earlier, Soviet dissident Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn also suffered (but survived) ricin-like symptoms after a 1971 encounter with KGB agents (D.M. David Saunders, a member of the Condon Commission, recommended compiling a statistical data base of cases to determine trends, which eventually resulted in a catalog of over 10,000 cases compiled by Saunders and others. He died in hospital a few days later; the pellet was discovered by chance during an autopsy and the poison linked back to the KGB. Statistician Dr. In 1978, the Bulgarian dissident Georgi Markov was assassinated by Bulgarian secret police who surreptitiously 'shot' him on a London street with a modified umbrella using compressed gas to fire a tiny pellet contaminated with ricin into his leg. 14, was commissioned by the USAF and carried out from 1952 to 1954 by the Battelle Memorial Institute (see United States government studies above).
The best-known documented use of ricin as an agent of biological warfare was by the Soviet Union's KGB during the Cold War. A massive statistical analysis of UFO cases, called Project Blue Book Special Report No. Ricin was given the military symbol W. Hundreds of witnesses were interviewed to determine object characteristics and also to try to recover fragments through determination of trajectories. This conclusion was based on comparison of the final weapons rather than ricin's toxicity (LD50 <30 mg.min.m–3). One example of applying such techniques in researching UFO reports occurred during investigations of the mysterious Green Fireballs that suddenly appeared over sensitive military and research installations in New Mexico in the late 1940s. Though there were plans for mass production and several field trials with different bomblet concepts, the end conclusion was that it was no more economical than using phosgene. Accuracy and reliability of individual accounts is not essential if large numbers of sightings are analyzed, because statistical analysis can reveal important trends.
During the Second World War the United States and Canada undertook studying ricin in cluster bombs. Witnesses to meteor fireballs, for example, can be interviewed to reconstruct trajectories, and this often leads to recovery of meteorite fragments. The War ended before it was weaponized. One objection to this argument is that even eyewitness accounts can be treated with scientific methods to obtain important information. The dust cloud concept could not be adequately developed, and researchers believed the coated bullet/shrapnel concept was unethical. If there is no physical evidence, then it is contended there is no way that physical scientists can contribute to the resolution of this problem. At that time it was being considered for use either as a toxic dust or coated bullets and shrapnel. Others feel that physical scientists cannot get involved in the UFO problem unless there is associated physical evidence.
The United States investigated ricin for its military potential during the First World War. Sightings may also be accompanied by corroborating information such as radar tracking, movies, or physical effects on individuals or the environment. Use of ricin as an adjuvant has potential implications for developing mucosal vaccines. There have also been mass sightings, sometimes involving hundreds or even thousands of witnesses. A promising approach is also to use the non-toxic B subunit as a vehicle for delivering antigens into cells thus greatly increasing their immunogenicity. A large fraction of reports involve more than one witness, and sometimes an event is witnessed from two or more different locations. Genetic modification of ricin is believed to be possible to lessen its toxicity to humans, but not to the cancer cells. However, it is also pointed out that trying to reduce UFO sightings to mere psychological misperceptions of individuals is often inadequate.
Ricin could be linked to a monoclonal antibody to target malignant cells recognized by the antibody. Indeed, most reports simply comprise narrative accounts of what someone saw or thought he saw in the sky. Ricin may have therapeutic use in the treatment of cancer. Still, some claim the general perception in the scientific community remains that, if UFO reports pose a scientific problem at all, it has more to do with psychology and the science of perception than with physical science. In the United states, a person caught manufacturing or possessing ricin may be sentenced up to 30 years in prison. . As little as one castor bean, about 0.5 grams, may be fatal in a child. 57% for high school graduates and 36% for those with only grade school education.
Since 0.2 mg of purified Ricin constitutes a fatal dose, this is a considerable amount of ricin. For example, a 1978 Gallup poll found 66% of college graduates thought UFOs real vs. The seed-pulp left over from pressing for castor oil contains on average about 5% by weight of ricin. Opinion polls of the general public have also consistently shown that the higher the education the more likely people are to believe UFOs are real. Ricin is easily purified from castor-oil manufacturing waste. Two 1970s surveys of MENSA members revealed over 50% thought they were from space. Since people do not get sick from eating large amounts of such products, ricin A is of extremely low toxicity if and only if the B chain is not present.. A 1978 survey of Optical Spectra readers found 42% felt it "quite conceivable" that UFOs were space ships from other civilizations.
Many plants such as barley have the A chain but not the B chain. 54% thought UFOs definitely or probably existed and 32% thought they came from outer space. Ricin consists of two distinct protein chains (almost 30kDa each) that are linked to each other by disulfide bond:. A 1971 survey of Industrial Research/Development magazine, based on 90,000 readers, found that 76% felt the government wasn't revealing all it knew about UFOs. Typically 2.5–20 raw seeds can kill an adult human; 4 a rabbit, 5 a sheep, 6 an ox, 6 a horse, 7 a pig, 11 a dog, but 80 for cocks and ducks.. Other surveys of scientific/technical and well-educated groups also show clear interest in UFOs or belief that they are real or extraterrestrial. . Jacques Vallee claims many scientists are interested in investigating UFOs but prefer to work quietly in the background because of the attached "ridicule factor." Vallee refers to these scientists as the "invisible college.".
Although one seed contains enough ricin to kill an adult human, they may pass harmlessly through the digestive system if swallowed whole. Dr. Modern feed-making techniques break down the ricin in castor beans by heating at 140 degrees Celsius for 20 minutes, although some studies suggest that residual toxic effects may linger. Possibly fear of ridicule by colleagues or fear of professional repercussions may figure in suppressing open expression of interest in the subject within the scientific community. Although the castor bean plant has long been noted for its toxicity, ricin was first isolated and named in 1888 by Hermann Stillmark. Sturrock noted in summarizing his surveys that guaranteed anonymity was important in getting high rates of response. (See abrin). .
Ingested in larger doses, ricin causes severe diarrhea and victims can die of shock. 10% thought UFOs were from space. In small doses, such as the typical dose contained in a measure of castor oil, ricin causes digestive tract cramps. 5% said they had had UFO sightings. Long term organ damage is likely in survivors. About two-thirds thought UFOs were possibly, probably, or certainly a scientifically significant problem. There is no known antidote; only symptomatic and supportive treatment is available. Sturrock did another survey of over 400 American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics members in 1973.
Ricin is poisonous if inhaled, injected, or ingested, acting as a toxin by the inhibition of protein synthesis. His results were: . . Following a formal 1977 survey of the American Astronomical Society, Sturrock learned that a majority of those who responded to the survey (1356 responded; over half of the AAS membership) thought that UFOs deserved scientific study, and were willing to contribute their time and expertise to such studies. It is considered to be twice as deadly as cobra venom. This alleged widespread negative feeling among the scientific community regarding UFOs as outlined above has been challenged as inaccurate. Ricin can be extracted from castor beans and is known to have an average lethal dose in humans of 0.2 milligrams (1/5,000th of a gram), though some sources give higher figures . A good introduction to this aspect of the subject is given by one of the authors, astronomer Bernard Haisch, in his website , an introduction to the area for scientists, which has a link to the JBIS article.
Its name comes from the seed's resemblance to the tick. Recently, hopes that this theme might be about to become respectable again were raised when a peer reviewed article on UFOs and SETI appeared in JBIS, the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society. The protein ricin (pronounced rye-sin) is a poison manufactured from the castor bean (Ricinus communis).  Nonetheless, the positive evidence presented by Sturrock and others in support of UFO reality has seen little attention or support from other scientists. Ricin B is important in assisting ricin A's entry into a cell by binding with a cell surface component. McDonald wrote a paper called "Science in Default," criticizing the Condon Report for bad science, and furthermore criticising mainstream science for its failure to deal with the subject. Ricin A is toxic to the cell by interfering with Ribosomes, responsible for protein synthesis. James E.
When the report came out in late 1969, atmospheric physicist Dr. Sturrock , have shown that the conclusions section was badly at variance with the report's actual contents, where about 30% of the cases examined could not be explained. Peter A. Subsequent reviews by the AIAA, and more recently by a scientific panel organized by Dr.
However, the conclusions section of the report was written by Condon, who expressed public disdain for the subject long before the investigation was concluded. In the past, the Condon Report's negative conclusions seem to have been particularly damaging to the likelihood of large numbers of scientists involving themselves seriously in the investigation of UFOs. Some of these are:. Proponents, however, note that there are counterarguments to all of these objections.
Why, for example, would sightings occur with great frequency for decades without any attempt by the alien intelligence to communicate its presence unambiguously? Or if an extraterrestrial civilization was engaged in mapping or otherwise investigating the earth, as some have hypothesized, why would it take so long, when present-day terrestrial technology, such as satellites, can do the job so quickly?. While many scientists would agree that the sighting of a genuine extraterrestrial craft is not an impossibility, some also argue that that the patterns of reported UFO behavior do not personally strike them as rational. Other reasons often cited for the disdain shown by many scientists for the subject are:. (See Physical Evidence section below).
These include simultaneous radar contact, photographs/movies/videos, radiation increases, electromagnetic interference, and physiological/biological effects. Others point out that it is erroneous to claim the evidence is only observational and that a number of recorded physical effects also exist that are amenable to research by the physical sciences. In such examples, the eyewitness accounts of such phenomena eventually proved correct despite initial skepticism, denial, and sometimes hostility from many scientists. Some in the scientific community feel there is enough evidence to warrant further investigation efforts, comparing it to the period in the history of meteorite research or atmospheric electrical phenomena such as sprites or ball lightning when there was only witness testimony available.
Some academics have argued that this constitutes unacceptable bias, and that while current evidence may be lacking, new evidence should be evaluated objectively as it arises. As the Sturrock poll results below suggest, absence of study of the subject increases skepticism and strongly affects willingness to investigate. It has been suggested, however, that rather few academics have actually researched the topic themselves or become personally familiar with the literature. Unreliability of witness testimony is often cited.
Still many academics feel that the subject is a waste of time, due to a number of factors. Air Force studies found that the strong preponderance of identified sightings were due to misidentifications, with hoaxes and psychological aberrations accounting for only a few percent of all cases. Statistics compiled by U.S. Despite unexplained cases, the general official opinion of the mainstream scientific community is probably that all UFO sightings ultimately result from ordinary misidentification of natural and man-made phenomena, deliberate hoaxes, or psychological phenomena such as optical illusions or dreaming/sleep paralysis (often given as an explanation for purported alien abductions).
Perhaps the best known study was Project Blue Book, conducted by the United States Air Force from 1952. Despite a strong residue of extremely puzzling cases, no national government has ever publicly suggested that UFOs represent any form of alien intelligence. Governments or military agencies of the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Belgium, Sweden, Brazil, Mexico, Spain, and the Soviet Union, are known to have carried out the investigation of UFO reports at various times. UFOs have been subject to various investigations over the years, varying widely in scope and scientific rigor.
Each of these may have had some impact in dampening the interest of the scientific community in regard to UFO research. It has also been contended that the CIA's 1953 Robertson Panel recommendations of official public ridicule through the mass media has made the subject scientifically and politically taboo. Many scientists also assume that the 1969 Condon Report settled the issue, hence UFO data is no longer worth examining. This may be due in part to the fact that there are no public or government funds to support UFO research.
Despite the large number of reports and great public interest, the scientific community has shown little interest in UFOs. These reports have been attributed to a wide range of causes including planets, stars, meteors, cloud formations, ball lightning, deliberate hoaxes, experimental military aircraft, hallucinations, and extraterrestrial spacecraft. Since the late 1940s, people throughout the world have become familiar with UFO reports. Putting aside the question of physical reality of UFOs, there have been studies of UFOs and UFO enthusiast subcultures from a folklore or anthropological perspective, and some feel the subject, at the very least, may provide new insights in the fields of psychology (both individual and social), sociology, and communications.
It is a common error to assume that the only question of interest provided by the subject is whether UFOs represent alien intelligence (Peter Sturrock has argued that this emphasis on the extraterrestrial hypothesis has narrowed the field and restricted debate). Probably the most favored theory among advocates is the more conventional extraterrestrial hypothesis, though the Interdimensional hypothesis and the Paranormal/Occult Hypothesis for UFOs are sometimes given as possibilities by some (see also below). Unfortunately, the quality of investigations by amateur researchers can vary enormously. While most academics prefer to ignore the subject, others, including mostly amateur and some professional scientific researchers, continue to investigate.
Ufology is the study of UFO reports and associated evidence. Two notable organizations, UFO Casebook and Malevolent Alien Abduction Research also study UFOs, alien contact. The groups listed below have embraced a broad variety of approaches, and have seen a correspondingly wide variety of responses from mainstream critics or supporters. Some have achieved fair degrees of mainstream visibility while others remain obscure.
There have been a number of civilian groups formed to study UFO’s and/or to promulgate their opinions on the subject. Sometimes lawsuits have had to be filed to get even the censored documents released to the public. In addition, many documents still remain classified or are heavily censored even when released, such as those of the CIA. Furthermore, the official Air Force position was frequently at odds with internal, classified documents, many later released under the Freedom of Information Act, which proved that the subject was treated far more seriously by the Air Force and other government agencies, like the CIA and FBI, than the public had been led to believe.
Both contemporary and modern critics, however, argue that some of the listed studies harbored an unacceptable degree of bias, were involved in sloppy science of dubious validity, or even perpetrating a cover up. Air Force public position was that UFO reports were due almost entirely to misidentification of ordinary aerial phenomena, delusion, or hoaxes. Ultimately, the official U.S. government began a number of formal studies of UFOs:.
In response to the June-July 1947 wave of UFO sightings and resulting publicity, the U.S. The equipment was designed to detect gamma rays, magnetic fluctuations, radio noises and gravity or mass changes in the atmosphere. In the early 1950s, Project Magnet was created to investigate the possibility of discs powered by magnetic propulsion. See Australian Ufology.
Harley Rutledge established Project Identification in 1973 to gather scientific data. Challenged to explain sightings of unidentified lights and luminous phenomena in the hills around Piedmont, Missouri, Dr. One established non-military station, which has seriously monitored UFOs, including anomalous lights, is project Hessdalen AMS in Norway. Jung, however, also felt that at least some UFOs were "nuts and bolts" craft, based on physical evidence such as simultaneous radar contact.
A notable attempt on the basis of his theory of archetypes was made by the Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung in his book Flying Saucers (1959). No single and comprehensive "psychological" theory to explain UFO reports has yet been proposed. Other researchers, such as Jacques Vallee, argue that if UFO sightings are motivated by some mechanism through which the public can release hidden fears and satisfy a psychological need for fantasies, why did "UFO waves" not coincide with such science-fiction feats such as Orson Welles' radio adaptation of The War of the Worlds in 1938, or the motion-picture versions of Flash Gordon (1936-37)? Vallee points out that the theory regarding how the general public generates and propagates UFO reports as a way of releasing psychological tensions, is denied by the absence of correlation between notable periods of interest in science fiction and major peaks of UFO activity. surrounded by a great deal more misidentification, wishful thinking and general flakiness." .
One writer contends that UFO mass sightings — sometimes called "flaps" — are "a hard core of genuinely unusual sightings .. Other advocates, arguing for the non-conventional interpretation, reply that the volume of impressive sightings reported by witnesses, from commercial airline pilots to United States presidents, and occasionally captured on film and radar, possesses strong consistency and cannot be explained away simply as mundane phenomena (weather balloons, aircraft, Venus, etc.). However, some feel that such speculation is overly premature because the very actuality of UFOs as alien craft is itself problematic. Another view is that the shape may be concealed or distorted by space-time distortions arising from an anti-gravity propulsion system.
Air ionization could also partly explain the diversity of colors reported, as different air molecules are excited at different energy levels, as well as the electric, neon-like glow around the objects often reported, similar to what happens with polar auroras. Another argument is that the true underlying shape may, in some cases, be concealed or distorted by the ionization of air around the objects, believed by some researchers, such as NASA engineers Paul Hill and James McCampbell or rocketry pioneer Hermann Oberth, to be a characteristic of the propulsion system. Still others argue that there is a large diversity in the shapes and sizes of human flying craft, reflecting different origins, propulsion systems, and purposes, so such diversity in UFOs is not necessarily unexpected or inexplicable. Other researchers argue that the large diversity of UFO shapes points to a possible paraphysical origin.
Skeptics argue this diversity of shapes, size and configurations points to a socio-psychological explanation. The number of different shapes, sizes, and configurations of claimed UFOs has been large, with descriptions of chevrons, equilateral triangles, spheres, domes, diamonds, shapeless black masses, eggs, and cylinders. Comprehensive review of opinion polls on UFOs since 1947. .
The younger the person was, the more likely the person were to hold such beliefs. But 56% thought UFOs were real craft and 48% that UFOs had visited the Earth. Again about 70% felt the government was not sharing everything it knew about UFOs or extraterrestrial life. A 2002 Roper poll for the Sci Fi channel found similar results, but with more people believing UFOs were extraterrestrial craft.
government has been less than forthright in regard to UFOs than accept the ETH. The poll results may also simply suggest that a greater percentage of those polled believe that the U.S. Another Gallup poll in 2001 found that 33% of respondents "believe that extraterrestrials have visited the Earth sometime in the past."  These two poll results may seem confusing or contradictory if one considers only the extraterrestrial hypothesis (ETH) as an explanation for UFOs. A 1996 Gallup poll reported that 71% of the United States' population believed that the government was covering up information regarding UFOs.
UFOs have played a role in tourism, such as in Roswell, New Mexico, site of a supposed UFO crash in 1947 (see Roswell UFO incident). There have also been notable hoaxes involving UFO reports, some of which have received substantial press attention (see the list below). UFO topics were amongst the most popular on early computer Bulletin board systems (Bullard writes that "Only sex Web sites outscore UFOs for popularity on the internet." (Bullard, 141), and millions of people have some degree of interest in the subject. Bullard writes, "UFOs have invaded modern consciousness in overwhelming force, and endless streams books, magazine articles, tabloid covers, movies, TV shows, cartoons, advertisements, greeting cards, toys, T-shirts, even alien-head salt and pepper shakers, attest to the popularity of this phenomenon, its ability to hold public attention, and, yes, to sell! Gallup polls rank UFOs near the top of lists for subjects of widespread recognition--in fact, a 1973 survey found that 95 percent of the public had heard of UFOs, whereas in 1977 only 92 percent had heard of Gerald Ford in a poll taken just nine months after he left the White House." (Bullard, 141).
Thomas E. Folklorist Dr. Regardless of any ultimate explanation, UFOs constitute a widespread international cultural phenomenon of the last half-century. Physicist Edward Condon suggested the word should be pronounced "ooh-foe", but this seems to have largely been ignored.
However it is generally pronounced by forming each letter: "U.F.O.". Ruppelt suggested that "UFO" should be pronounced as a word — "you-foe". In Italian, German and Japanese, UFO is an acronym instead of an initialism. In Finnish the acronym for UFO is TLK ("Tunnistamaton Lentävä Kohde").
In Russian, the term is NLO or "Neopoznannyi Letaushschii Ob'ekt" (Неопознанный Летающий Объект). In Spanish, Portuguese, and French, the acronym for UFO is OVNI (in Spanish, Objeto Volador No Identificado, in Portuguese, Objeto Voador Não Identificado, in French, Objet Volant Non Identifié). Along these lines, Paul Hill, an early NACA/NASA aerospace engineer, titled his 1970s book on the subject, Unconventional Flying Objects. Thus the "U" in "UFO", instead of standing for "Unidentified", would more aptly stand for "Unexplained" or "Unconventional".
For example, Air Force Regulation 200-2, issued in 1954, defined an Unidentified Flying Object (UFOB) as "any airborne object which by performance, aerodynamic characteristics, or unusual features, does not conform to any presently known aircraft or missile type, or which cannot be positively identified as a familiar object." Furthermore, investigation of UFOBs was stated to be for the purposes of national security and to ascertain "technical aspects." Obviously these concerns would not apply to the usual explanations for most UFO sightings, such as natural phenomena or man-made conventional objects, except, perhaps, previously unknown foreign aircraft. In contrast, researchers like Hynek have argued that the term should be strictly limited to those sightings that have been intensively investigated and still defy conventional explanation, which was the actual definition adopted by the Air Force in official directives in the 1950s. Skeptics often argue that UFO simply means that the object was "unidentified" by those making the sighting and doesn't mean the object is unexplainable, much less extraterrestrial. An unforeseen difficulty with the term "UFO" is that it often leads to semantic debates between skeptics and advocates.
Ruppelt recounted his experiences with Project Blue Book in his memoir, The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects (1956) online. His suggestion was quickly adopted by the Air Force, who also briefly used "UFOB" circa 1954. Air Force's Project Blue Book, who felt that "flying saucer" did not reflect the diversity of the sightings. S.
Ruppelt, the first director of the U. Edward J. Use of "UFO" instead of "flying saucer" was first suggested in 1952 by Capt. The term "UFO" was more commonly used by the late 1960s.
"Flying Saucer" was the preferred term for most unidentified aerial sightings from the late 1940s to the 1960s, even for those that were not actually saucer-shaped. So did popular books on the subject such as Frank Scully's Behind the Flying Saucers (1950), Donald Keyhoe's The Flying Saucers Are Real (1950) and Flying Saucers From Outer Space (1953), and "contactee"-oriented books, such as George Adamski's Flying Saucers Have Landed (1953). the Flying Saucers (1956), depicting flying saucer-like craft, further entrenched the term as a cultural icon. Hollywood science fiction movies in the 1950s, such as The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951), Forbidden Planet (1956), and Earth vs.
By mid-1950, a Gallup poll revealed that the term "flying saucer" had become so deeply ingrained in the American vernacular that 94% of those polled were familiar with it, making it the best-known term appearing in the news, easily beating out others like "universal military training" (75%), "bookie" (67%), or "cold war" (58%). "Flying disks" was another term commonly used by the media to describe the objects in the late 1940s and early 1950s. He complained that the press misquoted him, picking up the "like a saucer" phrase, and reported it as a "flying saucer". However, several years later Arnold said he had described their movement as a kind of skipping, like a saucer skimming over water.
(See Kenneth Arnold for drawing and verbal descriptions.) Another drawing was of a ninth, somewhat larger object with a boomerang or crescent shape, resembling a flying wing aircraft. Arnold initially described and drew a picture of eight of the objects as being thin and flat, circular in the front but truncated in the back and coming to a point. The nine objects Kenneth Arnold reported were not strictly saucer-shaped. Some seventy years later in 1947, the media used the term "flying saucers" to describe Kenneth Arnold's sighting.
 This may be the first known use of the word "saucer" to describe an unidentified flying object. On January 25, 1878, The Denison Daily News wrote that John Martin, a local farmer, the previous day had reported seeing a large, dark, circular flying object resembling a balloon flying "at wonderful speed," and also used the word "saucer" in describing it. This is echoed in the character of the parson Nathaniel in Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of The War of the Worlds. Noting the variance of the above theories with Christian tradition, a number of conservative Protestant writers (e.g., Hal Lindsey) have suggested that UFOs and their occupants are demonic in origin, intent on seducing humanity into accepting non-Christian doctrines such as evolution.
A prominent spokesperson for this trend was Shirley MacLaine, especially in her book and miniseries, Out On a Limb. Many participants in the New Age movement came to believe in alien contact, perhaps through channeling. Another 1970s-era development was the association of UFOs with supernatural subjects such as occultism, cryptozoology, and parapsychology. Many of these theories posit that aliens have been guiding human evolution, an idea taken up earlier by the novel and film 2001: A Space Odyssey.
This "ancient astronauts" theory inspired numerous imitators, sequels, and fictional adaptations, including one book (Barry Downing's The Bible and Flying Saucers) which interprets miraculous aerial phenomena in the Bible as records of alien contact. The book argued that aliens have been visiting Earth for thousands of years, which explained UFO-like images from various archeological sources as well as unsolved mysteries (such as the Egyptian pyramids). Another important development in 1970s UFO lore came with the publication of Erich von Däniken's book Chariots of the Gods. Jung's comparison with angelic visions in his article Flying Saucers: A Modern Myth of Things Seen in the Skies.) This newer, darker model can be seen in the subsequent wave of "alien abduction" literature, and in the background mythos of TV's X-Files.
(Cf. Both Strieber and Vallee were led to doubt that these beings were "extraterrestrials" as the term is ordinarily understood, and see more of a connection to elf and fairy lore. The cover of the paperback edition of Communion introduced a standard "grey" alien-head appearance charactierized by a large lozenge-shaped head sharpening to a pointed chin, a small slit for the mouth and large pointed lozenge-shaped eyes canted downwards towards the nose (this was later satirized in Schwa). Strieber, a horror writer, felt that aliens were harassing him and were responsible for "missing time" during which he was subjected to strange experiments.
This model was all but overturned during the 1980s mainly in the USA, with the publication of books by Whitley Strieber (beginning with Communion) and Jacques Vallee (Passport to Magonia). By the 1970s, popular sentiment had it that UFOs were alien spacecraft, and that the aliens involved were benevolent, reinforced through movies such as Close Encounters of the Third Kind and E.T., and Klaatu's song Calling Occupants (of Interplanetary Craft), later made popular by Karen Carpenter. I can now reveal that every day, in the USA, our radar instruments capture objects of form and composition unknown to us." . ...For many years I have lived with a secret, in a secrecy imposed on all specialists and astronauts.
Cooper stated, "I believe that these extraterrestrial vehicles and their crews are visiting this planet from other planets which obviously are a little more technically advanced than we are here on Earth. McDonald said the incident evidently happened; besides talking to Cooper, he had interviewed the two photographers involved, who corroborated Cooper’s basic story. In 1985 Cooper addressed a United Nations Panel Discussion on UFOs and ETs chaired by then Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim. McDonald’s Case 41 in his 1968 Congressional testimony discussing his list of the best UFO evidence. James E.
The incident was Dr. Project Blue Book claimed it was a weather balloon distorted by desert heat. Cooper said he viewed prints of the object before the film was shipped back to Washington. NASA astronaut Gordon Cooper has claimed, (including in his book Leap of Faith), that a classic saucer-shaped aircraft landed at Edwards Air Force Base on May 3, 1957 when he was stationed there, and was photographed by a technical film crew.
This was the case with the UFO encounter reported by police sergeant Lonnie Zamora just outside the town of Socorro in New Mexico, which is perhaps the best documented encounter. Others claimed that the main role of the supposed craft was to supervise. Generally speaking, the aliens who were purported to sponsor such groups, claim benevolent purposes such as warning humanity of the dangers of nuclear war or inviting Earth to join an interplanetary federation. The Aetherius Society is an early example; more recent ones include Raël and the Ashtar Command.
Beginning in the 1950s, UFO-related spiritual sects began to appear. Arnold's claims subsequently received significant mainstream media and public attention. The UFOs witnessed by Arnold were not, in the strictest sense of the term, saucer-shaped, he described only their movements as being similar to that of a saucer skipping over water, hence the origin of the term flying saucer. He reported seeing nine bright objects, (possibly irregular, glowing components of a meteoric fireball in the process of breaking up) flying at "an incredible speed" at an altitude of 10,000 feet (3,000 m) towards nearby Mount Adams.
Marine C-46 transport plane. Arnold was helping to search for the wreckage of a downed U.S. The post World War II phase in UFOs began with a claimed sighting by American businessman Kenneth Arnold on June 24, 1947, near Mount Rainier, Washington. In 1946, there was a wave of "ghost rockets" seen over Scandinavia.
In Europe during World War II, "Foo-fighters" (luminous balls that followed airplanes) were reported by both Allied and Axis pilots. There were several reports of unidentified aircrafts in the Scandinavian countries in the 1930s. However, Roerich did not express an opinion as to what he thought it might be, surrounding passages discuss the technology of ancient civilizations as recounted by Theosophical lore. In his travelogue Altai-Himalaya, Russian artist and mystic Nicholas Roerich reported sighting "an oval form with a shiny surface" flying high above Amdo, eastern Tibet in 1926.
These phantom airship scares are detailed in The Scareship Mystery edited by Nigel Watson (DOMRA, 2000). Most of these scares can be attributed to the misperception of stars, the work of hoaxers and their promotion by the media. During the First World War there were mystery aircraft scares in South Africa, Canada, Britain and the USA. Airships and mystery aircraft were also seen over the USA in 1909 and 1910 and were thought to be the creation of Wallace Tillinghast, though this seems very doubtful.
The same fears generated a similar scare in New Zealand and Australia in 1909. These were thought to be German Zeppelins spying out the land prior to invasion. Mystery airships were seen throughout Britain in 1909 and from 1912 to 1913. In 1896-97, unidentified "Mystery airships" were reported in the United States, though some of these reports are now known to have been deliberate hoaxes.
This event was witnessed by hundreds of people, as was a similar event in Basel in 1566, where numerous "flaming" and black globes appeared. On April 14, 1561 the skies over Nuremberg were filled with a multitude of objects, including cylinders and spheres, seemingly engaged in an aerial battle. An appropriate report was made for the emperor, and other appearances occurred in Japan in 1361. In 1235 the army of Oritsume in Japan saw mysterious lights in the sky.
Ancient Roman records occasionally mention "shields" and even "armies" seen in the sky. The army of Alexander the Great in 329 BC saw "two silver shields" in the sky. Strange unidentified apparitions in the sky and on the ground have been reported throughout history. .
However, similar groups of notables are equally skeptical and often dismiss such statements as conspiracy theories, maintaining that the evidence is unconvincing and that the subject in general is pseudoscience. Such allegations have been made by Ufologists as well as notable high-ranking military officers, government officials, astronauts, scientists, and other notable ETH supporters. There is an unproven contention that incontrovertible proof probably does exist but is being withheld from the public by world governments, perhaps out of fear of widespread panic and social disruption that might result from disclosure of such information. However, no incontrovertible physical evidence of the existence of such spacecraft has been presented, though many forms of disputed physical evidence do exist in the public domain.
However, the original working term UFO has largely become popularized in the public mind with the notion that UFOs might be extraterrestrial spacecraft (the ETH or Extraterrestrial hypothesis). A number of conventional and unconventional theories have been proposed to explain UFOs. (USAF document). Such characteristics, as noted by early Air Force studies dating back to 1947, might include unconventional shape, high speed and/or acceleration, high maneuverability, extreme rate of climb, absence of sound and/or trail, formation flying, and/or evasion upon pursuit.
By the stricter definitions, something must remain unidentified and have anomalous characteristics to be classified as a UFO. Air Force adopted a similar official definition in 1954, saying a UFO is "any airborne object which by performance, aerodynamic characteristics, or unusual features, does not conform to any presently known aircraft or missile type, or which cannot be positively identified as a familiar object." In addition, investigation was stated to be for the purposes of national security and to ascertain "technical aspects." (USAF document). The U.S. Air Force consultant and UFO proponent, as "the reported perception of an object or light seen in the sky or upon the land the appearance, trajectory, and general dynamic and luminescent behaviour of which do not suggest a logical, conventional explanation and which is not only mystifying to the original percipients but remains unidentified after close scrutiny of all available evidence by persons who are technically capable of making a common sense identification, if one is possible.".
Allen Hynek, late astronomer, U.S. J. A fuller definition was given by Dr. A UFO or Unidentified Flying Object is simply defined as any object or optical phenomenon observed in the sky which cannot be identified, even after being thoroughly investigated by qualified people.
More than one explanation--various combinations of the above. The Man-made Craft Hypothesis (see Military flying saucers). The Earthlights/Tectonic Stress Hypothesis. ball lightning.
The Natural Explanation Hypothesis, e.g. The Psychological-Social Hypothesis. The Interdimensional Hypothesis. The Paranormal/Occult Hypothesis.
The Extraterrestrial Visitation Hypothesis. Aurora borealis (northern lights). Reflected light (especially through broken clouds). Atmospheric inversion layers.
Ball lightning. Earth lights (luminous electrical events from low-level earthquakes and tectonic-geological phenomena.). Hot ionized gas (natural or man-made). Reflections from atmospheric inversion layers.
Swarms of flying insects. Flocks of birds. Near or large meteors. Meteor Swarms.
Comets. Unusual weather conditions (such as lenticular cloud formations, noctilucent clouds, rainbow effects, and high-altitude ice crystals). The moon, stars, and planets (for example, the cusps of the rising crescent moon in the tropics, and Venus at maximum brightness). Jiffy Fire Starters.
Deliberate hoaxes. Searchlights. Lasers aimed at the clouds. Fireworks.
Hang-gliders. Model aircraft. Kites. Rockets and rocket launches.
Blimps. Hovering aircraft (such as helicopters). Artificial earth satellites (and particularly satellite flares, which can be surprisingly bright). Advertising planes.
Unconventional aircraft or advanced technology (i.e., the SR-71 Blackbird or the B-2 Stealth bomber). Flashing landing lights of conventional aircraft. Military aircraft. Balloons (meteorological or passenger).
The human brain then creates the illusion of a spacecraft based on this misinterpretation, which then fools the observer.". Reentering space debris or meteors may appear as a string of lights, which can be misinterpreted as lights coming from windows of a spacecraft. Even police and other reliable witnesses can easily be fooled by sightings of stars and planets. Similarly, some witnesses believed that the UFO was “following them” even though the celestial body was actually stationary.
In 49 of the UFO reports caused by celestial bodies, the witness’ estimated distance to the UFO ranged from 200 feet to 125 miles (60 m to 200 km). Distortions in the atmosphere can cause celestial bodies to appear to “dart up and down,” “execute loops and figure eights,” “meander in a square pattern,” or even “zigzag.” This helps explain why celestial bodies can so easily fool observers. Statistics: 28% of the UFO reports were bright stars or planets; 1.7% were the tip of the crescent moon; 18% were advertising plane banners (usually seen edge-on rather than the face-on); and 9% were fireballs and reentering space debris. "Out of 1,307 cases: 1,194 (91.4%) had clear prosaic (non-extraterrestrial) explanations; 93 (7.1%) had possible prosaic explanations; and 20 (1.5%) were unexplained.
. James Harder as intense magnetic fields from the UFO causing the Faraday effect. Misc: Recorded electromagnetic emissions, such as microwaves detected in the well-known 1957 RB-47 surveillance aircraft case, which was also a visual and radar case;  polarization rings observed around a UFO by a scientist, theorized by Dr. The 1964 Socorro incident also left metal traces, analyzed by NASA.
Actual hard physical evidence cases, such as 1957, Ubatuba, Brazil, magnesium fragments analyzed in the Condon Report and by others. . Remote radiation detection, some noted in FBI and CIA documents occurring over government nuclear installations at Los Alamos National Laboratory and Oak Ridge National Laboratory in 1950, also reported by Project Blue Book director Ed Ruppelt in his book. Electromagnetic interference effects, including stalled cars, power black-outs, radio/TV interference, magnetic compass deflections, and aircraft navigation, communication, and engine disruption..
Biological effects on plants such as increased or decreased growth, germination effects on seeds, and blown-out stem nodes (usually associated with physical trace cases or crop circles). Such cases can and have been analyzed using forensic science techniques. So-called Animal/Cattle Mutilation cases, that some feel are also part of the UFO phenomenon. .
One such case dates back to 1886, a Venezuelan incident reported in Scientific American magazine. Physiological effects on people and animals including temporary paralysis, skin burns and rashes, corneal burns, and symptoms resembling radiation poisoning, such as the Cash-Landrum incident in 1980.  Catalogs of several thousand such cases have been compiled, particularly by researcher Ted Phillips.. Another less than 2 weeks later, in January 1981, occurred in Trans-en-Provence and was investigated by GEPAN, then France's official government UFO-investigation agency.
A well-known example from December 1980 was the USAF Rendlesham Forest Incident in England. Height 611 UFO Incident or the 1964 Lonnie Zamora's Socorro, New Mexico encounter, considered one of the most inexplicable of the USAF Project Blue Book cases). See, e.g. Landing physical trace evidence, including ground impressions, burned and/or dessicated soil, burned and broken foliage, magnetic anomalies, increased radiation levels, and metallic traces.
Recorded gravimetric and magnetic disturbances (extremely rare). Recorded visual spectrograms (extremely rare) — (see Spectrometer). A library of Star Cruisers has been compiled complete with links to the official government versions of the images. Images recorded by SOHO and other Sun watching probes.
Photograpic evidence, including still photos, movie film, and video, including some in infrared spectrum (rare). One such recent example were the mass sightings of large, silent, low-flying black triangles in 1989 and 1990 over Belgium. These are often considered among the best cases since they usually involve trained military personnel, simultaneous visual sightings, and aircraft intercepts. Radar contact and tracking, sometimes from multiple sites.
5% of respondents admitted to puzzling sightings; only 10% of these said they had reported their sightings. only 3% for UFOs being actual alien craft. Probabilities of conventional explanations such as hoax or familiar/unfamiliar craft or natural phenomena were rated at 13% to 23% vs. Skepticism against the extraterrestrial hypothesis ran high.
Younger scientists were more willing to investigate than older ones. 68% who had spent over 300 hours. Only 29% of those having spent less than an hour reading about the subject felt further investigation was warranted vs. Lack of knowledge strongly contributed to skepticism and lack of willingness to investigate.
80% expressed a willingness to contribute to the resolution of the UFO question, though only 13% of these could think of a way to do so. only 20% who felt they definitely or probably were not. 53% felt UFOs were definitely or probably a topic worthy of further scientific study vs. Air Force in the 1950's or the 1960's Condon Commission?.
Why focus on only poor cases when there are also many high-quality, unexplainable ones, even when investigated by trained scientists, such as those involved with the Battelle Institute investigation for the U.S. Many sightings, for example, are not of distant "lights in the sky," which might easily be simple misidentifications, but are of structured objects at close range, often with associated physical effects and evidence (see below). Some arguments show a lack of knowledge of the available evidence. Why would aliens necessarily make their presence unambiguously known? Why would alien interests necessarily be restricted to simple physical surveys? Why assume interstellar travel to be nearly impossible, basically an assumption that alien science and technology would not be that much more advanced than that of present-day humans?.
Many of the skeptical arguments rest on hidden or presumed assumptions about alien intentions and technology. The general sensationalization surrounding the subject, including the perception that many amateur researchers lack proper scientific training and instead have a "readiness to believe". The many circumstances that can lead to misidentification of ordinary objects seen at a distance in the sky — a scientific, skeptical approach can cast reasonable doubt on the "strangeness" of cases that appear at first glance to be very impressive. The unreliability or scientific inadequacy of many reports.
Lack of indisputable physical evidence. Arguments that aliens could not be here because of the distances and energies required for interstellar travel in a reasonable period of time, according to present-day understanding of physical law. home page. Education and lobbying group that runs The Disclosure Project, an effort to get government disclosure on UFOs and other topics, claiming to currently have over 400 government, military, and intelligence witnesses.
Steven Greer. Center for the Study of Extraterrestrial Intelligence (CSETI) (1990- ): Maryland based, founded and run by the controversial Dr. home page. based group founded and headed by political activist/lobbyist Stephen Bassett, pushing for government UFO disclosure.
Paradigm Research Group (PRG) & Extraterrestrial Phenomena Political Action Committee (X-PPAC) (1996- ): Small, Washington D.C. home page. Citizens Against UFO Secrecy (CAUS) (~1978- ): Small, Arizona based research and judicially oriented organization filing many FOIA applications and lawsuits to declassify and release government UFO information. National Institute of Discovery Science (NIDS) (1996-present).
Fund for UFO Research (FUFOR) (1976-present). Center for UFO Studies (CUFOS) (1973-present). Mutual UFO Network (MUFON) (1969-present). National Investigations Committee On Aerial Phenomena (NICAP) (1956-1980).
Aerial Phenomena Research Organization (APRO) (1952-1988). About 30% of the cases examined by the Condon Committee itself were "well-documented but unexplainable" and formed the "hard core of the UFO controversy." They recommended a moderate level, ongoing scientific study of UFOs. The conclusions were quickly endorsed by the National Academy of Science (NAS), but a more detailed review by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) criticized the NAS position and the Condon Report conclusions, which they noted did not match the actual data. The Condon Committee (1966 to 1969), commissioned by Project Blue Book while under pressure from a Congressional inquiry after a new wave of sightings in 1965 and 1966, was a landmark but still controversial study which supported the misidentification-delusion-hoax explanation for UFO reports, and furthermore argued that no available evidence warranted further scientific study.
The report's conclusions have been offered as a possible motive for governments to cover up evidence of extraterrestrial life. The study was noteworthy for its conclusions regarding possible future contact with an extraterrestrial civilization, which they felt would likely be highly disruptive: "...societies sure of their own place in the universe have disintegrated when confronted by a superior society..." Among groups cited as likely having trouble adapting to the new reality were religious fundamentalists and many scientists. The Brookings Report was a study commisioned by NASA in 1960 from the Brookings Institution. Also six studied characteristics (speed, duration, color, etc.) were found to be different between knowns and unknowns at a high level of statistical significance.
18%). Their statistics indicated that 22% of the reports remained unexplained even after stringent analysis and the highest quality reports were twice as likely to remain unexplained than the poorest quality (35% vs. 14 was a massive scientific statistical study of all Blue Book UFO reports to date conducted by the Battelle Memorial Institute at behest of the Air Force from 1951 to 1954. Project Blue Book Special Report No.
This protocol is allegedly still in effect. The alleged intent of this government program, as indicated on many UFO-related websites and other UFO conspiracy sources, is to ridicule or discredit any who had seen UFOs or had alien encounters. Thereafter, unexplained cases plummeted from over 20% down to 3%. Immediately after the Robertson Panel, Project Blue Book was downgraded in status by the USAF, directed to withhold information on unexplained cases from the public, and also ordered to reduce the number of unexplained cases to a minimum.
They also recommended spying on civilian UFO organizations because of their influence on the public. After brief study, the panel concluded that most UFOs were prosaic, and furthermore suggested a public relations campaign using celebrities, authority figures, and media giants like Walt Disney Corporation to reduce public interest. The Robertson Panel was organized by the Central Intelligence Agency in late 1952, in response to a wave of UFO sightings, especially in the Washington DC area, which included highly-publicized radar contacts and jet intercepts. Ruppelt they thought the fireballs were alien probes from spaceships orbiting Earth.
But at the same time, scientists at Los Alamos told new Project Blue Book chief Edward J. In 1951, over LaPaz's objections, Twinkle concluded the fireballs might be some natural phenomenon. Upon urging of the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board, a year later the Air Force set up a small observation program called Project Twinkle. Based on observed object characteristics, LaPaz quickly concluded the fireballs weren't natural and thought they might be Russian spy devices.
Lincoln LaPaz, astronomer and noted meteor expert, investigated for the Air Force, with extensive help from military intelligence and the FBI. Dr. In December 1948, mysterious Green Fireballs were sighted over sensitive military and government research facilities in New Mexico, such as Los Alamos National Laboratory. Since Project Blue Book was dissolved in 1969, the United States government claims that they have had no formal study of UFO reports.
According to Ruppelt, highly influential Pentagon generals were frustrated with the UFO debunking of Project Grudge, resulting in it being replaced by Blue Book. Ruppelt, referred to the previous era of Grudge as the "Dark Ages" of USAF UFO studies. Grudge was active until early 1952, when it too was renamed and upgraded in status by the Pentagon, becoming Project Blue Book. In 1956, the first director of Blue Book, Edward J. In late 1948 Project Sign was renamed Project Grudge.
Vandenberg ordered the report destroyed citing lack of physical proof. USAF Chief of Staff General Hoyt S. Sign produced an "Estimate of the Situation" in late summer, 1948, concluding that the flying saucers were not only real but likely interplanetary in origin. Twining's memo resulted in the United States Air Force founding Project Sign in late 1947, the first publicly acknowledged government UFO study.
Both the Air Intelligence and Material Command studies concluding saucer reality were classified and not publicly acknowledged for many years. Twining's memo of September 23, 1947, likewise concluded the craft were real, further defined their described characteristics, and urged that the subject should be treated seriously, including a formal investigation by multiple government agencies besides the Air Force. In response to the earlier study, the engineering and intelligence divisions of the Air Force Materiel Command at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, under the direction of General Nathan Twining, further reviewed the data. From July 9 to July 30, 1947, Army Air Force Intelligence studied the 16 best UFO sightings of the previous months, mostly those reported by military and civilian pilots, and concluded that the "flying saucer situation" was neither imaginary nor adequately explained as natural phenomena: "something is really flying around.".
summary of report. government. They also accused world governments of covering up this information, with strongest criticism directed at the U.S. The report concluded that UFOs were physically real, under control of intelligent beings, and probably extraterrestrial in origin.
Other contributors included various generals, admirals, aerospace engineers and scientists (including from SEPRA), and the national police superintendant. The report was prefaced by General Bernard Norlain of the Air Force, former Director of IHEDN, and began with a preamble by André Lebeau, former President of CNES. The study was carried out primarily by an independent group of former "auditors" at the Institute of Advanced Studies for National Defense, or IHEDN (the same group whose recommendations two decades before led to the formation of GEPAN), and by experts from various fields. COMETA (in English, "Committee for in-depth studies") was a semi-official committee that began investigation into UFOs in 1995 and issued a final report in July 1999, titled "UFOs and Defense: What must we be prepared for?" Before its public release, the report was sent to French President Jacques Chirac and to Prime Minister Lionel Jospin.
14). (see Project Blue Book Special Report No. (description and links) A 1979 GEPAN report stated that about a quarter of over 1600 closely studied UFO cases defied explanation, echoing results from the USAF's initial UFO studies from 1947 to about 1954. It devised a precise analytical methodology and accumulated a database of more than 2200 different cases, with some 6000 eyewitness accounts and approximately 100 sightings from aircraft.
It was set up to help civilian and military authorities understand the precise nature of the UFO phenomenon. GEPAN/SEPRA was a unit of the national space agency of France (CNES) and was based at the CNES technical center in Toulouse. In 1988 it was reorganized into SEPRA (the Service d'Expertise des Phénomènes de Rentrées Atmosphériques) and discontinued in 2004. GEPAN (Group d'Etude des Phénomènes Aérospatiaux Non-Identifiés) was the official French UFO study agency, started in 1977.
Cigar-shaped "craft" with lighted windows (Meteor fireballs are sometimes reported this way). Large triangular "craft" or triangular light pattern. Rapidly-moving lights or lights with apparent ability to rapidly change direction — the earliest mention of their motion was given as "saucers skipping on water." Disc-shaped craft are sometimes reported to move in an irregular or "wobbly" manner at low speeds. (day and night).
Saucer, toy-top, or disk-shaped "craft" without visible or audible propulsion.