The comet theory of the 1908 Tunguska, Siberia Event is nothing new. But now there is a 21st Century twist to what happened; The Space Shuttle.
A popular news story doing the rounds this week is this Space.com item about how recent space shuttle launches may have solved the mystery of what hit Tunguska in 1908: a comet. Key to the new theory are ‘noctilucent clouds‘, which were seen over Europe in the days following the explosion, and the fact that these clouds are also created by the Space Shuttle on take-off:
About 97 percent of the exhaust from a shuttle launch turns into water, a by-product of the liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen fuel. A single shuttle flight pumps 300 metric tons of water vapor into the Earth’s thermosphere, and the water particles have been found to travel to the Arctic and Antarctic regions.
Noctilucent clouds were tied to the launch of Endeavour (STS-118) on Aug. 8, 2007. And high-altitude clouds were detected over Antarctica shortly after the fateful launch of Columbia, which along with its crew was lost during re-entry. Columbia’s plume was 650 miles long and 2 miles wide and reached Antarctica in three days.
Cornell University engineering professor Michael Kelley figured the bright night skies after the Tunguska event must have been the result of noctilucent clouds. And since they require water vapor, Kelley assumed a comet was the culprit.
It’s worth noting though that for the theory to work, a completely “new model of upper-atmospheric physics is needed” to explain how the water vapour traveled so far. Given that rather large leap, I found it quite ironic that the Space.com article begins by ridiculing the ‘UFO theory’ for Tunguska, then proceeds to explain how a spaceship leaving the Earth shows that the event was caused by a comet. Funny stuff.
I like Greg’s comment at the end of the post. Priceless.
In going from mainstream scientific debunking of the UFO phenomenon to its semi-official acknowledgement by the CIA and Pentagon, we discover, to no surprise, that the movie industry over the decades has been used to great effect by said agencies to alternatively debunk and ‘disclose’ it:
Bizarrely – and for reasons not entirely clear – the U.S. government has taken a keen interest in Hollywood’s flying saucer movies since the early days of the phenomenon. Official efforts to debunk UFOs through media channels originated with the CIA-sponsored Robertson Panel which, in 1953, decided that public excitement about flying saucers should be actively discouraged. The panel recommended “That the national security agencies take immediate steps to strip the Unidentified Flying Objects of the… aura of mystery they have unfortunately acquired,” and that this should “be accomplished by mass media such as television [and] motion pictures…” with specific reference to Walt Disney.
Unambiguous evidence for the Robertson Panel’s covert impact on media representations of UFOs is found in the CBS TV broadcast of UFOs: Friend, Foe, or Fantasy? (1966), a documentary narrated by Walter Cronkite. In a personal letter addressed to former Robertson Panel Secretary Frederick C. Durant, Dr Thornton Page confides that he “helped organize the CBS TV show around the Robertson Panel conclusions,”even though this was thirteen years later and despite the fact that he was personally sympathetic to the existence of flying saucers.
Concern over, or involvement in, UFO movies continues to be evidenced in more modern Hollywood productions. Take, for example, the 1996 alien invasion blockbuster Independence Day, which, despite its proud championing of American values and leadership, was denied cooperation from the Department of Defense (DoD) due in large part to a plotline concerning Area 51 (a super-secret military facility in the Nevada desert long rumoured to be the testing ground for captured extraterrestrial technologies) and the so-called ‘Roswell Incident.’
The Pentagon specifically requested that “any government connection” to Area 51 or to Roswell be eliminated from the film – a request apparently based on the ridiculous assumption that both the Roswell Incident and Area 51 were not already known to half of America.
The DoD may have been unable to dictate script changes on Independence Day, but its involvement with both Transformers movies (2007 and 2009) was much more deep-rooted. The original film’s script is loaded with UFOlogical references and laboured rhetoric absolving the U.S. military of complicity in what turns out to be a massive cover-up of alien visitations. The finger is pointed instead at the quasi-governmental “Sector 7” which has been concealing its “Top Secret” alien research for decades within “special access projects” – and all without the knowledge and consent of a shocked and concerned Secretary of Defense.
No startling revelations here, since it takes a willing and complicit mainstream media outlet to spread effective meme control, the CIA’s stock in trade and useful Pentagon tool.
Whether it proves the extraterrestrial hypothesis of the UFO phenomenon is another matter.
Whither Nazi UFOs?
The subject of this column dropped through the letterbox. I was going to return to the American right’s conspiracy theories about President Obama – the most amusing of which is the claim that he’s a stooge of the Soviet Communists, trained by them and planted on America  – until the postman brought the March/February issue of Nexus. It contains an interview by Linda Moulton Howe with someone purporting to be a former CIA and military officer who worked with UFOs. It’s obviously disinformation – and not even very good disinformation, at that. Howe’s interviewee, whom she calls “Stein”, runs some of ufology’s greatest hits past her: Nazi UFOs hidden in the Antarctic (FT175:42–47), aliens, Roswell, and so on and so forth. He claims to have seen the Santilli ‘alien autopsy’ film in the 1950s – seemingly unaware that Santilli has admitted it was a fake – and tells Howe that the Germans had the flying discs we think of as UFOs in 1917(!), built from plans received (sort of downloaded) by mediums from the Vril Society.
The really startling thing to me that is that Howe doesn’t appear to have thought, “UFOS in 1917? That seems unlikely”, or asked herself, “Oh, the Vril Society: what’s that?” Had she Googled “Vril society” she would found that the concept of Vril first appeared in a novel by Edward Bulwer-Lytton published in 1871 (FT241:32–33) and evidence for the existence of a real Vril Society is non-existent. For a journalist and filmmaker, Howe is stunningly uncurious.
And we have been here before. It was Howe who was taken into an office of the US Air Force by Sgt Richard Doty in 1983 and shown ‘secret documents’ about UFOs, aliens and crash sites which she could read but not copy.  Doty was part of a disinformation operation by the US Air Force aimed at American ufology. This operation gave similar information to Paul Bennewitz and then, a year later, offered some of it in documentary form as the MJ12 papers (FT121:40–43; 122:28–31). We know this was a disinformation operation because one of its main perpetrators, the writer William Moore, told American ufologists at a conference in 1989 that they’d been had – and by him
Linda Moulton Howe is famous for her 1979 cattle mutilation documentary “A Strange Harvest” which garnered her a Regional Emmy Award for sound effects and editing. For legitimate cred, she has some to boast.
But in recent years she has been slammed by some UFO researchers for propagating discredited UFO memes on her website Earthfiles.com, such as the ‘drones’ and the MJ-12 documents.
Is Linda Moulton Howe a disinformation agent? As it was put to me one time by Jeremy Vaeni, “Linda’s gotta eat.”
Depends who’s buttering your bread I guess.