Phil Klass must be smiling somewhere.
By the way, while I'm no supporter of the Roswell case, here's another lazy reporter for you. The Alien Autopsy film was fake, you idiot - but that doesn't mean that Roswell was bogus.
Sheesh... doesn't anyone at the Times fact check anymore?
Then again, I was always an "Independent" kind of guy.
The Sunday Times
London, UK May 07, 2006
Sorry ET, You're Just A Puff Of Plasma
by Jack Grimston
They didn't come from outer space: UFOs crash on Planet Sceptic
BRITAIN’s defence intelligence chiefs have come up with a detailed scientific explanation to solve the mystery of unidentified flying objects.After a four-year inquiry, they have concluded that most sightings can be explained by a little-understood atmospheric phenomenon.
Scientists at the Defence Intelligence Staff (DIS) describe how glowing "plasmas" of gas are created by charges of electricity. Air flows then sculpt the plasmas into aerodynamic shapes which appear to fly at extraordinary speeds through the sky.
The document is emphatic that UFOs do not come from alien civilisations or hostile powers, but equally it does not dismiss those who claim to have seen them as fantasists or hoaxers.
Instead, the scientists say such plasmas can play tricks on the mind, creating vivid impressions. They note that "local [electromagnetic] fields... have been medically proven to cause responses in the temporal lobes of the brain".
As a result, UFO witnesses may not be mad but instead suffering from "extended memory retention and repeat experiences" induced by the plasmas.
Their report says that, though UFOs have "defied credible description" as to their cause, they are confident that they now have "a reasonably justified explanation".
It goes on to recommend that the findings on UFOs — of which more than 100 are sighted in most years — could be developed for "novel military applications", adding that Russia is already investigating such weapons.
The report has been released under the Freedom of Information Act following an application by Dr David Clarke, a lecturer at Sheffield Hallam University, and Gary Anthony, a fellow researcher. The pair will give a presentation on the results this week.
It has been a bad year for conspiracy theorists. Last month, the "Roswell incident", another favourite, was debunked. John Humphreys, a special effects expert behind the television cyber-presenter Max Headroom, claimed he was one of the hoaxers behind grainy black and white footage supposedly showing an autopsy on alien corpses in 1947. He said the bodies were latex models.
Files released last year under freedom of information laws showed that the Ministry of Defence maintained a special unit, named S4F, responsible for logging sightings of UFOs by the public and the military, which numbered 88 in 2004. Those files gave detailed accounts of sightings but did not indicate that the intelligence services were using the information as the basis of an inquiry codenamed Project Condign.
They began their inquiry in 1996, apparently without the knowledge of Michael Portillo, who was then defence secretary and responsible for the DIS.
The project was intended to assess any military danger UFOs might pose to Britain (it concludes they pose none).
The investigation by the DIS’s section DI55 was completed in 2000 under Geoff Hoon, now Europe minister, when other branches of the same agency were busy trying to find Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction.
The document, marked UK Eyes Only and entitled Unidentified Aerial Phenomena in the UK Air Defence Region, analyses 30 years of evidence on UFOs. Only 11 copies of the report were made."
Credited with the ability to hover, land, take off, accelerate to exceptional velocities and vanish, they can reportedly alter their direction of flight suddenly and clearly can exhibit aerodynamic characteristics well beyond those of any known aircraft or missile," states the report.
While some non-hoax sightings of UFOs may be caused by wrongly identifying aircraft, various optical illusions or obvious natural phenomena, the most common explanation, the report concludes, is "several types of rarely encountered natural events within the atmosphere and ionosphere".
It describes how an "electrically charged... gaseous mass" can form in the atmosphere which is often invisible to radar but resembles the bright, fast-moving, round or cigar-shaped objects typically reported by UFO spotters.
Although the plasmas share the characteristics of reported UFOs, they remain a mystery. "The method of formations of the electrically charged plasmas... is not fully understood," the report finds.
Many of the other phenomena reported by UFO spotters can be explained by plasmas. For example, the report says the space between two plasmas sometimes "forms an area... from which the reflection of light does not occur", giving the impression of a "black ‘craft’, often triangular and even up to hundreds of feet in length".
In addition, the report finds that because plasmas are electrically charged, they can change shape or colour if hit by another energy source, such as a radio signal sent by a UFO spotter. "This has led ‘ufologists’ to imagine that an ‘alien response’ is being given to their signals," the report says.