Is "Improved Instrumental Techniques...", Nolan, Vallee, Jiang, Lemke 2022 a useful paper?

John J.

Senior Member.
This is a consideration of
"Improved instrumental techniques, including isotopic analysis, applicable to the characterization of unusual materials with potential relevance to aerospace forensics."
Garry P. Nolan, Jacques F. Vallee, Sizun Jiang and Larry G. Lemke, published in Progress in Aerospace Sciences Vol. 128, 1 January 2022;

PDF attached below.

Professor Nolan was eager to get a paper dealing with reportedly "retrieved" or anomalous material into a peer-reviewed journal, and to the credit of him and his co-authors was successful . So I thought maybe we should have a look...

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

1. Introduction

Garry P. Nolan is an immunologist holding a professorship at Stanford. He believes aliens are visiting Earth, and has been referred to on this forum.
Jacques Vallee is an astronomer and computer scientist, perhaps best-known as a Ufologist of many years standing. Vallee also believes that UFOs are an objectively real phenomenon representing either alien craft or visitors from "another dimension". Sizun Jiang is a molecular biologist and virologist, who at the time of the paper was a postdoctoral research fellow under Nolan at Stanford. Larry G. Lemke is a retired aerospace engineer with a long career at NASA's Ames Research Center.

Progress in Aerospace Sciences is a monthly peer-reviewed journal, published since 1961 in the UK, currently by Elsevier.
Wikipedia entry https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Progress_in_Aerospace_Sciences
Elsevier webpage https://www.sciencedirect.com/journal/progress-in-aerospace-sciences
The Elsevier site states that Nolan, Vallee et al. 2022 is the "most popular" (but not most downloaded) paper from the journal.

"Improved instrumental techniques" in the paper's title must mean "instrumental techniques which have been improved since the analysis of similar samples in 1977-78".
The authors do not claim or demonstrate that they have developed any new techniques, improved any existing techniques, or applied instrumental techniques in any novel way. They do not define what is "improved" in the techniques they review.

As a case study, they analyse samples of material purportedly taken from what had appeared to be a deposit of molten metal, approx. 6' x 4' (1.83 x 1.22 metres), found beside Gilbert's Pond in Council Bluffs, Iowa, Saturday December 17 1977. Witnesses claim to have seen a "reddish ball" plummet toward the ground in the direction of the find, or to have seen a hovering UFO behind tree-tops around the time of the find.
The authors' account of the reported sightings and find of material can be found in their paper, from page 7 para. 4, "2.1. Overview of the incident at Council Bluffs, Iowa" through to the end of page 9.


We apply these insights to a case of a material derived from an unidentified aerial object...
Content from External Source
Pg. 2, 1st para.
This is problematic; it is not demonstrated that the material was left by an aerial object. As described in the paper, no witnesses reported seeing anything drop from, or be ejected by, an aerial object. Those who claimed to see something fall from the sky did not directly observe an impact. See "4. The Council Bluffs incident, 17 December 1977" below.

The authors state, of the investigative techniques discussed (including Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry, SIMS, which they use)

The approaches discussed have a long history and acceptance in analysis of metals and alloys...
Content from External Source
(Pg. 3 para. 4), so their use of these techniques to analyse a (mainly) metallic sample is not in itself original.


The lessons from this specific investigation are applicable to a wider range of issues in reverse engineering of complex, esoteric materials, and forensics.
Content from External Source
Pg.1, para 5.
Frustratingly, what lessons were learned is not explicitly stated; it isn't apparent from this paper that the authors have demonstrated any new techniques or findings that might be applicable to "...reverse engineering of complex, esoteric materials, and forensics." The paper's summary (pg. 18, paras. 2, 3) has no discussion of methodological considerations.

The authors identify possible confounding factors relating to their spectroscopy findings, and make plausible interpretations of their data based on this.
For some who are sympathetic to Nolan and Vallee's widely stated views about UFOs, the author's prosaic interpretations might be disappointing- but it demonstrates scientific integrity on the part of the authors.


After the introduction, the paper is presented in four main sections:
(1) A discussion of techniques for investigating the composition of materials (pages 2-7).
Includes discussion of some current, proposed or speculative technologies utilising isotopic differences, pages 3 and 4.
(2) A description of claimed events, and the find of metallic material in a park, in Council Bluffs, 1977 (pages 7-9);
consideration of hypotheses attempting to account for the above claims and the found metallic debris (pages 10-12).
(3) Studies of samples of the Council Bluffs debris; two early studies (1977-78) and the author's own (pages 12-16).
(4) "Speculative Conclusions"; mention of a 1978 Soviet satellite crash in Canada (Cosmos 954); speculation about liquid metal use in magneto-hydrodynamic generators and nuclear reactor designs in relation to hypothetical flying vehicles (pages 16-18).

Below, the paper is reviewed in approximately this order, with the exception of the consideration of hypotheses in (2), in which I've included the Soviet satellite recovery; these are addressed last.
______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

2. Authors' discussion of investigative techniques

As per the title of the paper, the authors discuss some of the methods used for materials analysis.

Figure 1 (page 2) shows 19 techniques used for materials analysis. It is
Adapted from https://www.eag.com/techniques/
Content from External Source
Link here https://www.eag.com/techniques/
...which is a diagram on the EAG Laboratories webpage "Our Techniques". There is no formal citation in Nolan, Vallee et al. for this source (which is clearly copyrighted- bottom left of table). There should be; the in-text URL the authors provide is insufficient. Nolan, Vallee et al. should be obliged to formally cite such sources as per convention.
Most of the 19 techniques in Fig. 1 are identified by abbreviations, but there is no key describing what they mean (on the EAG Laboratories online diagram, each technique name/ abbreviation is clickable, leading to a summary, including the unabbreviated name).
The use of technical abbreviations without explanation is usually considered something to be avoided in academic papers.

The authors provide brief summaries for five investigative technologies:
secondary ion mass spectrometry (SIMS) including multiplexed ion beam imaging (MIBI-SIMS)- the technique(s) used by the authors in their case study; inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS); energy dispersive spectroscopy (EDS); scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM) and Raman spectroscopy.

At no point do the authors state how these investigative techniques have specific relevance to aerospace forensics. They do not say if the 5 techniques that they summarize are more useful in this regard than the other 14 techniques in Figure 1.
No examples of past use of any of these methods in aerospace forensics are given. No protocols for applied use of these techniques in future aerospace forensics are suggested. How any of these techniques are "improved" is not stated.

Four of the references cited in the descriptions of the five summarized techniques, [1], [9], [24] and [26] are for Wikipedia articles. Citing Wikipedia content is often considered unacceptable in academic papers. Reference [1] is undated, meaning that the content being cited is uncertain.

It must be arguable that the (uncited) EAG Laboratories online source used by the authors, at https://www.eag.com/techniques/, is a more comprehensive and practically useful description of "Improved instrumental techniques, including isotopic analysis, applicable to the characterization of unusual materials with potential relevance to aerospace forensics" than Nolan, Vallee et al.s' discussion of investigative techniques. This section of their paper covers a narrower range of, and gives less technical information about, relevant investigative techniques than is freely available elsewhere.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

3. Authors' discussion of the utilisation of different isotopes


Elemental and isotopic analysis has proven of value in the study of material recovered from disintegrating aeronautical or astronomical objects, or from residue deposited on earth following an observation of an unknown phenomenon.
Content from External Source
Page 7, para. 2, my italics.
The authors do not cite any examples of valuable insights gained from isotopic analysis of anything "deposited...following an observation of an unknown phenomenon".
This (arguably extraordinary) claim is possibly subjective.

On page 3 of their paper the authors start a section titled "1.1 Materials analysis techniques using ICP-MS and SIMS".
For four paragraphs they discuss ICP-MS (Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry) and SIMS (Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry), noting how these methods can identify ratios of isotopes of specific elements in samples, and how these ratios can identify geographical, or indicate extraterrestrial, origins (pg. 3, 6th/ penultimate para).

Having established that their investigative methods (SIMS in this paper) rely on isotopic ion counts, and that the isotopic composition of an unidentified material under investigation might be important, the authors then- from page 3's last para. to the first para. of page 5- discuss some other technologies and findings dependent on isotopic differences. Why is not clear.
The authors do not use, or find evidence of, any of these applications. They do not state how they might be used in forensic examination of aerospace artefacts. They do not suggest how evidence of these applications- some theoretical at present, e.g. spin physics-based processing, airborne quantum computers- might be found; isotopic ratios alone would be scant evidence in the absence of structural clues (e.g. in a sample resembling the one they analyze, "CB_JV-1", see below).


Interestingly, isotopes can influence a variety of important biological, chemical, and electronic functions.
Content from External Source
(Pg. 3, para. 7).
This is undoubtedly true, but the author's examples of isotopic exploitation have little objective relevance to their paper.

It is mentioned that the nursing behaviour of rats might be influenced by what isotope of lithium they are given (page 3 last paragraph).
This is utterly irrelevant. No lithium was found in any of the studies of the Council Bluffs material (and if it had been, the above citation would still be irrelevant- no rats or other nursing mammals are known to have been affected. And this is not aerospace science).
There is no reason whatsoever to believe that any part of the material had any novel biochemical / biophysical properties.

The authors state silicon-28 might have a role in quantum computing (last line pg. 3- first line pg. 4).
Silicon is the second-most abundant element in the Earth's crust, and 92% of it is silicon-28. And we refine silicon for higher "28" ratios, so we know that silicon with a higher proportion of silicon-28 can be of terrestrial origin:
"Spotlight: Silicon-28 in Quantum Computers", January 11 2020, National Institute of Standards and Technology (USA),
https://www.nist.gov/news-events/news/2020/01/spotlight-silicon-28-quantum-computers
Finding silicon-28 in a specimen does not mean you've found a quantum computer, or the melted remains of one.

As it happens, the authors find significant amounts of silicon in their samples (Figs. 8A and 9, pg. 15). The isotopic composition of 3 subsamples are obtained, all have a slightly lower proportion of silicon-28 in their silicon content (90.7%, 89.9%, 91.4%) than the average natural incidence (92.23%); see Figure 8a, pg. 15.
So silicon found in the sample is not connected in any credible way with silicon use in quantum computing.

The use of isotopes in clinical imaging is referred to; this has no relevance to the paper. Clinical imaging technology is not used by the authors for their investigation (MIBI can be used in histopathology, as cited [23], but not for in vivo clinical imaging); nor do they propose any improvement or novel use of clinical imaging technologies for aerospace forensics purposes.

The authors continue; altering the isotopic composition of carbon in a boron-doped diamond changes the temperature at which it might display superconductivity
(pg. 4 para. 1). No boron (or diamond, presumably) was found in any of the studies. The authors do not investigate the electrical conductivity of CB_JV-1; from indications of its composition (discussed later) we can perhaps safely assume that it is not a manufactured superconductor.

After a mention of spin physics- which the authors do not use or investigate in this study- reference to the Advanced Aerospace Weapon System Application Program (AAWSAP) is made;

Spintronics has been previously investigated in US government analysis of unconventional craft in the Defense Intelligence Reference Documents produced under the Advanced Aerospace Weapon System Applications Program (AAWSAP) program
Content from External Source
(pg.4, para 4).

The cited document for this claim is a list of papers (PDF attached below), available from
https://irp.fas.org/dia/aatip-list.pdf.
The cover letter accompanying the listed papers refers to the Advanced Aerospace Threat and Identification Program (AATIP), not AAWSAP, although the papers are believed to be of AAWSAP origin. The cover letter includes,


The purpose of AATIP was to investigate foreign advanced aerospace weapon threats from the present out to the next 40 years.
Content from External Source
-response from Christine Kapnisi, Chief, DIA Congressional Relations Division to Senators John McCain and Jack Reed, dated 09 Jan 2018, in the cited material.

Note use of "foreign", not "unconventional" (the word used by Nolan, Vallee et al.)

The cited documents do not state
Spintronics has been previously investigated in US government analysis of unconventional craft...
Content from External Source
as Nolan, Vallee et al. seem to claim, if we take that claim to mean spintronics technology or knowledge has been applied or found in the examination of actual hardware.

The AATIP /AAWSAP documents include a list of 38 papers of interest to/ commissioned by US defense staff, mostly concerning "blue sky" research and speculation about future and / or theoretical technologies. It is not a list of papers about, or resulting from, the examination of foreign aircraft or UAP.
All are in the public domain, except one paper about lasers.

Of the 38 papers, the only one devoted to spin physics is Maxim Tsoi's "Metallic Spintronics", 2010 (PDF attached below).
As well as an overview of spin physics, Tsoi's paper proposes (amongst other things) utilising electron spin to carry information instead of charge, in order to allow better heat dissipation from the expected increase in transistor density on semiconductor chips- a promising, hopefully practical idea yet to be realised by industry.

There is nothing in Tsoi's paper that could have been used in any practical sense to investigate "unconventional"/ foreign craft at that time (or in 2022).
Metallic Spintronics was written by a scientist with much experience of the field. It contains 97 checkable references. Just as that paper's proposals could not be used in an applied sense to investigate aerospace craft in 2022, there is absolutely no reason whatsoever to suspect that any part of Metallic Spintronics was dependent on, or informed by, prior examination of aerospace artefacts. No part of that paper describes technology for use in the investigation of aerospace artefacts.

The authors already had the results of two earlier studies of the Council Bluffs material and their own before submitting their 2022 paper.
They would have known the (at best) tangential relevance of the above-mentioned isotopic subjects to their material, and to aerospace science in general.
From a 6-by-4 foot (1.83 x 1.22 m) find of melted metals, all readily available and all, where checked, with terrestrial norm isotope ratios (see "6. Findings, Nolan, Vallee, Jiang, Lemke" below), the authors extend their discussion to biological effects of different isotopes, quantum computing, clinical imaging, superconductivity, the Advanced Aerospace Weapon System Application Program and spin physics. In the case of the last subject the relevant paper (Tsoi, 2010) does not support the author's apparent interpretation of its purpose or meaning.

A cynical reader might suspect that the authors are attempting to associate their study of the Council Bluffs material (using SIMS, a technology that indicates the presence of different isotopes) with these "cutting edge", attention-grabbing subjects merely by raising them as examples of technologies/ projects that might be linked to isotopic variation.
But there is no aspect of the author's investigation, or their findings, that pragmatically connects them in any reasonable way to quantum computing, isotopic biological effects, superconductivity, clinical imaging, AAWSAP or spin physics.
The author's later discussion of liquid metal use in magneto-hydrodynamic generators- and, speculatively, in nuclear reactors- might raise similar concerns.
_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

4. The Council Bluffs incident, 17 December 1977

The authors tell us that their material was retrieved from near Gilbert's Pond in Big Lake Park, Council Bluffs, Iowa (pg. 7, last para). Council Bluffs is immediately across the Missouri from Omaha, Nebraska, with which it is connected by several bridges. Council Bluffs had 60,348 residents in 1970, 56,449 in 1980 (and an estimated 62,415 in 2021),
figures from Wikipedia,
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Council_Bluffs,_Iowa

Gilbert's pond is just to the north of the (substantial) built-up area of Council Bluffs, in an area called Big Lake Park. Big Lake itself is to the north of Gilbert's Pond. The terrain is quite flat in the built-up area through to the pond and lake, and hillier to the east/ northeast.

n1 aerial view 1.jpg

The area of the find, to the north of Council Bluffs, and an aerial view:
n2 map 1.JPG n3 aerial view 2.JPG


Gilbert's Pond viewed from Big Lake Road, looking east (c. 2021)
n4 m Glbrt Bg Lk Rd looking E.JPG


Gilbert's Pond viewed from the turn-off from Big Lake Road to the pond itself, looking approx. NE (location a few tens of metres / yards south from the above photo).
n5 m Glbrt.JPG


On the day of the incident, the sun would have set at approximately 16:54, some two hours fifty minutes before the first report at 19:45
("timeanddate" website, https://www.timeanddate.com/sun/@4860752?month=12&year=1977).
The authors describe the weather, overcast but unexceptional for the time of year. Temperature was 32°F (0° Celsius), last para. pg. 7, first line pg. 8.
The ground was frozen to a depth of at least 4 inches
Content from External Source
pg. 11 para. 7.

At around 19:45, Kenny Drake, 17, 'phoned the fire department from a store payphone. He said he had been driving accompanied by his wife Carol, 16, and his 12 year-old nephew Randy James, when all three had seen a "reddish ball" at an estimated height of 500 or 600 feet, which fell "straight down" into Big Lake Park. There was a bright flash, and flames "8 to 10 feet high"
(pg. 4 para. 8).
The authors don't relate the Drake's purpose or direction of travel, but The Historical Society of Pottawattamie County article " "Close Encounter" at Big Lake Park" (Richard Warner, undated) states the trio were driving along North 16 Street on their way to the Richman Gordman store at 1800 North 16 Street.

The three drove to the park and got out to investigate, arriving to see a glowing orange blob with a bluish crystalline substance in its centre on a dike about sixteen feet from the road. One of them noted it “looked like a great big sparkler.” Lava-like material was running down the dike appearing to slow as it cooled
Content from External Source
3rd paragraph,
https://www.thehistoricalsociety.org/h/ufo.html

Nolan, Vallee et al.:
As the first three witnesses were watching the glowing mass, a small car stopped and four young men, about 18 years old, asked if they had seen “that thing fall out of the sky,” after which they drove away
Content from External Source
(pg. 9 para. 4, section "2.3. Corroborating witnesses"). The four young men didn't subsequently come forward; we know nothing else about them.

Strangely, Kenny Drake doesn't recount the four youths observing, making any remarks about, or showing any interest in the molten mass on the ground.
...a “tiny foreign car” with four teenagers paused briefly and asked if “they saw that thing fall out of the sky too?” The car then drove on. Glowing molten metal is hardly a common sight in the city’s park system yet the occupants of this car weren’t curious enough to pause and take a look.
Content from External Source
Historical Society of Pottawattamie County, ibid.
The young men drove to this relatively isolated spot to ask Kenny, Carol and Randy if they had seen something fall from the sky -presumably Kenny or Carol would have answered "Yes, we think this is it" or something similar- but didn't stop to have a look at the material.

Drake and James drove to a local store and called 911. The call was given to Jack Moore, Assistant fire chief for the Council Bluffs fire department
Content from External Source
(pg. 8 last para).
Where 16 year-old Carol went isn't mentioned. Maybe she was dropped off at Gordman's store. One hopes she wasn't left by herself in the park.

The call was given to Jack Moore, Assistant fire chief for the Council Bluffs fire department, who responded in his personal fire car. No fire-fighting crews were required, however, while the police, who had intercepted the call, dispatched a cruiser car to the scene, driven by Assistant chief Moore. He requested an officer from the Identification section to join him...
Content from External Source
(pg. 8, last para., my emphasis).
The authors seem to claim that the fire department and police department each had an Assistant Chief Moore, who attended the incident.
Did fire department Assistant Chief Moore drive to the police station and request that a police officer return with him to the site to take photographs? Even if so, it might be unusual that the fireman drove the police car.
Other possibilities are that the authors are working with confused accounts; or have confused the accounts themselves, and this slipped through proof-reading.

The recount of the incident by Drake [singular- probably Kenny, not Carol- John J.] and James before the officers did not deviate from the story they first told.
Content from External Source
Page 9, para. 2. It's unclear if Drake and James returned to the park or drove to a police station to meet the officers, or if they met at a later date.
Carol seems to be absent when the 'phone call was made, and when Kenny Drake and Randy James were asked to repeat their account.
Presumably "the officers" were Assistant Chief Moore of the fire department and Identification Section police officer Dennis Murphy -and possibly an Assistant Chief Moore of the police department, if he existed and isn't the result of author error.

Carol's status as a witness, from the facts given in the author's paper, must be questionable. What she saw (and her presence) appear to be reported by Kenny (and maybe young Randy). There is no mention in the paper of Carol herself ever being asked what she saw. In addition,
On that day, at 19:45 CST (0145 GMT) a red, luminous mass was observed by two Council Bluffs residents...
Content from External Source
my italics, pg. 7 para. 5; and
The first report came at 7:45 pm from 17-year-old Kenny Drake and his nephew,... Kenny’s wife Carol, 16 years old, was also in the car.
Content from External Source
Pg. 8, para.5.
...from which impact was observed by the first two witnesses...
Content from External Source
pg. 11 para. 4, my italics.

The four young men in the small car are only known from Kenny's (and maybe Randy's) account- they are part of Kenny Drake's claim, they cannot be considered corroborating witnesses; if they existed they have never come forward to support Kenny Drake's claims.

The Drakes and James must have been travelling northward on North 16 Street- had they been travelling south, Gilbert's Pond would have been behind them (see the 1st map above). Their claimed initial sighting must have occurred before (i.e. to the south of), or at, the turn-off from North 16 Street for Gordman's store (at 1800 North 16 Street, in a small retail/ business park on the west side of the road). This is something over 800 m (875 yards) "as the crow lies" from Gilbert's Pond.

Kenny Drake and Randy report flames "8 to ten feet high" at the time of "impact"- a transient event, seen while the witnesses were still on North 16 Street.
From any possible viewpoint on North 16 Street, Gilbert's Pond is on the far side of a modest railway embankment.
This is the present view approaching the North 16 St. junction for the retail park (a left turn). The bank at right is between 16th and 15th Streets- I don't know if it (or the foliage) was there in 1977. The aerial view shows the line of sight from the junction towards Gilbert's Pond:

street view 1 m4 CB N 16th St northward last turning for 1800 etc.jpg aerial view 3.jpg


The first photo below shows the railway embankment as seen from North 15 (Not 16) Street; behind the embankment is Big Lake Road, which is parallel to North 15th Street at this point; then Gilbert's Pond. The second photo shows the view north on Big Lake Road, the embankment is at left, the pond at right.

street view 2 m emb3 Nth 15th St looking N nb embankment.jpgstreet view 3 m emb1 Glbrt nb embankment at L.JPG

It's hard to estimate the embankment's height- the vehicle on the left of the first photo might give a clue; maybe [ITAL] approx. 5 or 6 feet (1.52 - 1.83 m).
Nevertheless, it must be questionable whether the Drakes and Randy James would have seen brief flames "...8 to 10 feet high" in Big Lake Park from their vantage point on North 16 Street, at least 800 m (875 yards) away on the other side of the embankment.
The short-lived flames sound more like something that would be described by someone who was closer to the event.

The material was deposited near the pond but I've been unable to find out where- it was described as
...running, boiling down to the edges of the levee
Content from External Source
pg. 7, para. 5. I don't know whether the levee referred to is the pond's edge, or a ditch on the east side of the railroad embankment that runs parallel to the west side of Gilbert's pond (and just to the west of Big Lake Road's southbound lane), or possibly the edge of an area of low ground to the east side of Gilbert's Pond (which is a little smaller than the pond itself, and sometimes appears inundated on maps/ photos), or elsewhere.

Aerial photo of Gilbert's Pond:
m gilberts pond aerial view 4.JPG


A few minutes later, when Kenny Drake was making the 911 phone call, authorities were also contacted by a middle-aged couple who were travelling north on 16th street... They reported seeing a bright red mass “rocket to the ground near Big Lake”. They refused to be identified on the record.
Content from External Source
(pg. 9 para. 4, Nolan, Vallee et al.)

This was before cell phones. To make a 'phone call, you would have to use a landline- usually from your home, workplace or a public payphone.
At around the time we know Kenny Drake was in the vicinity of a payphone, "the authorities" received a call from "a middle-aged couple", who corroborate Kenny's report.
How the "authorities" (the authors don't state which agency) ascertained that the caller was middle-aged, and if they spoke to two people to determine that there was a couple, is not stated. The caller(s) did not give their name(s).
The claimed middle-aged couple have not subsequently come forward.
Co-author Jacques Vallee states in "Physical Analyses in Ten Cases of Unexplained Aerial Objects with Material Samples" (1998, PDF attached below),
A middle-aged couple who saw the event spoke to the investigators by telephone...
Content from External Source
(PDF pg. 12, labelled pg. 370, Para. 2, my italics) but doesn't state when, leaving open the possibility -in that paper- that the couple spoke to Vallee himself, or a confederate, at a date after December 17. However, if this were the case, we could expect Vallee to remember and correct any misinterpretation of events by his 2022 co-authors.

The authors describe accounts from another claimed pair of witnesses.
Further south on Broadway Avenue, 24-year-old Mike Moore and his wife Criss had been driving east toward downtown, crossing the 16th street intersection when she first saw the object, described as round with “red lights blinking in sequence around the periphery.
Content from External Source
(Pg. 9 para. 6).
The road concerned is almost certainly West Broadway, not "Broadway Avenue".

Mr. Moore saw it when they reached the Broadway viaduct... ...as a “bright-red thing at treetop level.” He described it as “a big round thing hovering in the sky, below treetops. It was hovering. It wasn’t moving.”
Content from External Source
(Pg. 9 para. 6).

We don't know in what direction(s) Criss and Mike Moore saw their "object" (or in Criss' case, at what elevation).
The immediate area (up to and including Gilbert's Pond and Big Lake) is relatively flat.
If Mike Moore was on the Broadway Viaduct he had a raised vantage point; looking left from near the viaduct's midpoint, approximately in line with 12 Street (running S to N under the viaduct) Mike would have had a line of sight over railroad yards towards Big Lake Park. He might have been able to see the light of the burning material at Gilbert's Pond through the trees of the copse immediately to its south. It seems unlikely that Criss Moore's reported sighting from the 16 Street-West Broadway intersection could have the same possible cause.

Criss, Mike Moore locations:
aerial view 4 broadway viaduct between 9th and 14th street.jpg

From the raised perspective of the viaduct, an object or lightsource below treetop height would probably be beneath the observer if it were in the Council Bluffs/ Big Lake Park area, so it might be difficult to tell if it were hovering or on the ground.

If Criss Moore had been looking over her left shoulder at the West Broadway/ North 16 Street intersection- or Mike from the Broadway Viaduct- each could have had a line of sight almost in line with runways at Eppley Airfield approx. 3 km (1.86 miles) to the north-northwest (NNW). Even from the viaduct it is unlikely that runway lights would be visible, but an aircraft taking off or landing at a shallow angle might- for a short duration- appear to hover.

eppley airfield broadway viaduct.jpg

If the Moores were familiar with the Council Bluffs area, it is perhaps unlikely that they misperceived aircraft lights in the direction of the airfield.

There were no other reports from drivers/ passengers on West Broadway or using the Broadway Viaduct (a major local thoroughfare) that we know of.
Even on a cool December evening at about 19:15, in a built-up area with at least 56,000 residents other people might have been about.

Nolan, Vallee et al. omit a possibly relevant fact: Mike Moore is the son of Assistant Chief Jack Moore of the fire department (see above);

The metal mass was still glowing 15 minutes later when Mike Moore's father, assistant fire chief Jack Moore, arrived.
Content from External Source
-From (pg. 67) "When UFOs Land", Jim Wilson, Popular Mechanics May 2001 pages 64-67; text found via Google Books website (accessed 20/11/23),
https://books.google.co.uk/books?id...ce=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false

Purely supposition: Perhaps Jack Moore got a bit of moral support from son Mike and daughter-in-law Criss. On hearing of Jack Moore's evening, maybe they were "primed" to remember seeing something unusual (the same colour as, but otherwise different from, the Drake's sighting and the anonymous 'phone report).
It's not inconceivable that some Council Bluffs police officers might have questioned Jack Moore's call to attend a small area of burnt material, in a park, that hadn't hurt anyone and that hadn't required any additional attendance from Jack Moore's own fire department.
As discussed above, in what may be a confused interpretation Nolan, Vallee et al., last para pg. 8, say
...the police, who had intercepted the call, dispatched a cruiser car to the scene, driven by Assistant chief Moore.
Content from External Source
(My emphasis).

The Historical and Preservation Society of Pottawattamie County website article "'Close Encounter' at Big Lake Park" (Dr Richard Warner, undated) states
Chief Moore requested a police cruiser
Content from External Source
(my emphasis), not that the police sent a car because of Kenny Drake's call to the fire department.
https://www.thehistoricalsociety.org/h/ufo.html
(However, the 2022 paper and the Historical Society article differ on several points).

A summary of claimed witnesses:

Witnesses.jpg

in Pg.8 para 3 the authors state

Investigators were able to gather testimony from no less than 11 witnesses in separate groups, all within an hour of the incident.
Content from External Source
This is incorrect. "Testimony" is limited to (a) Kenny Drake, Randy James, possibly Carol Drake, (b) an anonymous 'phone call supposedly from a couple, making a similar claim to Drake(s)/ James, (c) Mike and Criss Moore, whose sighting differs from Drake(s)/ James. Seven people maximum.
There are only 4 or 5 identified [ITAL] claimants, depending on Carol's status: 2 or 3 Drake/ James family, and 2 from the Moore family.

As far as we can tell from the paper, Kenny, 17, and nephew Randy, 12, are the only identified people who definitely reported seeing something fall in Big Lake Park and who spoke with "officers". They did not report seeing a flying or hovering object. Their 'phone call to the fire department was acted on by Jack Moore.
Only Mike Moore (Jack Moore's son) and Criss Moore claimed to see a flying or hovering object. They did not report seeing anything fall/ be ejected from it.


4a. Authors' map of northern and central Council Bluffs (Figure 5)

In Figure 5 (page 9), Nolan Vallee, Jiang and Lemke (2022) use a map to show where the relevant events occurred.
I've copied it here, assuming fair use and for purposes of legitimate examination of claims made:

Author map pg 9.JPG

The map has no scale displayed. A minor point- there is no red arrow as described in the map footnote.
The "...site of impact" -a rather leading term- is indicated on the map with an "X" by Big Lake, not Gilbert's Pond. This is incorrect.


...a small car stopped and four young men, about 18 years old, asked if they had seen “that thing fall out of the sky,” after which they drove away
(Figure 6, original map, point #1).
Content from External Source
(Pg. 9, para. 4, my emphasis).
Figure 5 is the only map used in the paper; Figure 6 (pg. 13) shows "Isotope abundances for (a) Titanium; (b) Iron; (c) Chromium".
There is no other explanation in the text stating what point #1 in Figure 5 might indicate.
It is clear from the Drake / James claim that the four young men were encountered at Gilbert's pond.
Point #1, Figure 5 is approximately at the junction of East Kanesvile Boulevard and Northern Broadway. The location has no obvious connection with the events in question, and is 2.4 km (1.5 miles) southeast of Gilbert's Pond.
If point #1, Figure 5 is meant to indicate where Kenny Drake/ Randy James claim four young men turned up in a car, it is incorrect.

...authorities were also contacted by a middle-aged couple who were travelling north on 16th street (Figure 5, point #2).
Content from External Source
(Pg. 9, para. 4). Point #2 on the map is on Interstate 29, not 16th Street. This is incorrect.


Mr. Moore saw it when they reached the Broadway viaduct (Figure 6, point #3)
Content from External Source
(Pg. 9, para. 6). Already mentioned, Figure 6 is not a map. There is nothing else in the text to suggest what point #3 in Figure 5 might be, so presumably this is the point the authors are referring to.
Point #3, Figure 5, appears to be the east side of the Grenville Dodge Memorial Bridge (see the aerial view, discussion of Criss and Mike Moore's claims, above). This is incorrect.
This is over 4 km (approx. 2.5 miles) to the west of Broadway Viaduct (see aerial view, "Criss, Mike Moore locations", above).
The Broadway Viaduct passes over railroad lines, not the Missouri River.

Literally everything indicated by the authors on the map, Figure 5, is wrong. It is difficult to understand how this could have come about.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

5. Early studies of material found near Gilbert's Pond, Council Bluffs

The authors discuss the findings of two studies made soon after the material was found.

Summarising the findings of the two studies, they state
The material recovered at Council Bluffs consists of three components: solid metal, slag, and white ash inclusions in the slag.
Content from External Source
Pg. 12, para. 5.

Both [studies] agreed with the determination that the material was a metallic alloy, chiefly iron with small amounts of nickel and chromium.
Content from External Source
Pg. 8, para. 1

The metal was found to be chiefly iron, with less than 1% of alloying metals such as nickel and chromium. The slag was a foam material containing metallic iron and aluminum with smaller amounts of magnesium, silicon, and titanium, “probably present as their oxides.” The white ash inclusions were “principally calcium with some magnesium, again probably as oxides.”
Content from External Source
Pg. 12, para. 6. It is not clear if both studies returned these results; there is no checkable reference.
It's likely the conclusions about slag and ash were reached by Professor Frank Kayser, Study 2 below.
The authors do not report, or give an estimate, of the proportions of metal/slag/ash found. Possibly this wasn't ever documented.

It is not determined if the original (pre-melt) material included significant discrete metal objects, or if it was composed of a mixture of small items (e.g. swarf, metal dust/ filings, iron wool, scrap electronic components etc.) crudely intermixed through melting, or if it was originally a solid, either as a mixture of previously seperate (mainly) metallic components or as a homogenous alloy. The inhomogeneity later found by Nolan, Vallee et al.'s study of sub-samples suggests a mixture, not a true alloy.

5a. Study 1. Study by Jack Coan at Griffin Pipe Products Company, 1977

The first test, run on 21 December 1977 (within four days of the incident) by lab technician Jack Coan (at Griffin Pipe Products), was run on two exposures of the metal sample using a “Spectro-Comp” instrument that could identify 18 elements spectroscopically. It found carbon at 0.70%, manganese at 0.56%, silicon at
0.52% and other elements as traces only.
Content from External Source
Pg. 12 para. 7 continuing onto pg. 13. So,
sum.jpg
The percentages of elements comprising the remaining 98.22 % are not supplied by the authors.
It is stated that iron was a major constituent (see below) but no figure is given.

Jack Coan Griffen Pipe Products analysis.jpg
Nolan, Vallee et al. have told us that both studies found that the material was primarily iron with small amounts of nickel and chromium.
Study 2 (below)
...examined the metal sample metallographically and reported it was most likely a carbon steel, confirming the judgment of the Griffin Pipe Products Company.
Content from External Source
Pg. 13, para. 3, my italics.
Nolan, Vallee et al. do not present information from Coan/ the Griffin Pipe Products Company showing that this was their conclusion, but the percentage of carbon found might indicate a carbon steel.

The percentages of the main metal constituents, including nickel and chromium (which would be expected if the authors' assessment of the two earlier studies is correct, pg. 8 para. 1), are not given. Information from the Griffin Pipe Products investigation seems rather sparse; maybe not all the details were retained.

5b. Study 2. Study by Professor Frank Kayser, University of Iowa at Ames, metallurgy division (1977 or 1978?)

Professor Frank Kayser, of the metallurgy division at University of Iowa, in Ames Iowa, examined the metal sample metallographically and reported it was most likely a carbon steel...
...From the microstructure he judged that the metal was cast, subsequently reheated to 900-1000 degrees C, and cooled at an intermediate rate so that it resembled wrought iron
Content from External Source
Pg. 13 para. 3.

Kayser himself said
Our first judgment was that the material resembled cast iron.
Content from External Source
Pg. 13 para. 2.

Kayser analysed 4 samples of metal, 2 samples of slag, and 1 of ash. How Kayser differentiated "metal" from "slag" is not recorded, although the slag samples returned somewhat higher non-metallic (silicon + calcium) counts than the metal samples; see pie charts below.
X-Ray fluorescence, electron beam microprobe, and emission spectroscopy were used
(pg. 8 para. 5).

Professor Kayser's results are shown in Table 1, pg. 12 of the paper:
Table 1 Pg12 Nolan Vallee et al..JPG

I'm not confident that I understand the meanings of these results- the opinion of someone with appropriate knowledge would be helpful (to me, at least).
Nolan, Vallee et al. state that the results in Table 1
...are qualitative estimates based on spectrography
Content from External Source
(page 12, Table 1) which implies these are not quantitative results.

Each of the 4 metal samples returns a ">> 1.00" for iron -note the last explanatory line provided by Nolan et al., foot of Table 1 (a possible error in that text doesn't help our understanding).
If those samples are accurately described as
...a metallic alloy, chiefly iron with small amounts of nickel and chromium
Content from External Source
(pg. 8 para. 1),
... chiefly iron, with less than 1% of alloying metals such as nickel and chromium
Content from External Source
(pg. 12 para. 6),
then it seems unlikely that the numbers in Table 1 represent the relative abundance of elements in the metal samples, as the tantalum content of each sample is given as 0.40, magnesium (in the metal samples) 0.30, which I initially took to mean tantalum had 40% the abundancy of iron in each sample, magnesium 30%, whereas nickel is only 0.04 in each sample, chromium only 0.01 or 0.02.
As well as iron, 8 or 9 other elements return higher values than nickel or chromium in each of the 4 metal samples.

You don't need to perform Bayesian analysis to notice that the returned values have some interesting characteristics; there isn't a 6, 7 or 9 amongst the 98 values (conveyed by 330 numerals) in the Kayser table. Maybe this is an artefact of the instrument/ process used by Kayser rather than a reflection of "true" physical characteristics of each element in the original samples. The 2022 authors do not comment on this.

I've made pie charts based on the figures returned by Kayser for the 7 samples, reduced in size for display here.
Again, it seems unlikely that these figures, translated here into percentages, are actually representative of the proportion of elements per sample. Rounding errors are present.
kayser.jpg

Kayser reported that the metal was "most likely" (Nolan, Vallee et al.) a carbon steel, although his studies did not reveal the carbon content.

Kayser thought it unlikely the material was of meteoritic origin,
..in that case one would expect a much higher nickel content
Content from External Source
(implying that his study did produce quantitative information)
and also thought an aerospace industry origin unlikely,
Such hardware usually involved alloys of much higher strength-to-weight ratio, containing high amounts of nickel, chromium and titanium.
Content from External Source
Both quotes, p.13 para. 2.

5c. Conjecture: Re-interpretation of some values reported by Kayser. -This is supposition on my part, and may be irrelevant/ wrong.

I'm unsure about the meanings of the values returned in Table 1 from Ames/ Kayser.
As an exercise, I made the assumption (which might well be wrong) that where a value on that table is preceeded by "<" or "<<", it represents a threshold detection value, i.e. it indicates that the element is probably present, but the number isn't indicative of the quantity of that element in the sample.
Using this assumption, I substituted 0.005, the lowest value returned on the table, for any "<" or "<<" values as an arbitrary (low) value representing a trace.

See "Modified Table 1 (A)" below left. In the original Table 1, tantalum appeared to be a major constituent of the samples tested by Kayser (or at least returned a strong signal). Strangely neither Kayser (as far as we know) or Nolan, Vallee et al. remark on this. Modifying the table as described, tantalum is reduced to a trace in all 5 metal (but not slag) samples.

Modified Table 1 (A) threshold values substituted.jpg Modified Table 1 (B) threshold values & equal Nos. replaced wi. 0.005.jpg


If we substitute 0.005 for all "<" and "<<" values, and all values for a given element which are less than a returned "<"/"<<" value for that element, we get Modified Table 1 (B), above right. These (my) substitutions are certainly questionable, and might be completely misguided.
However, note that this results in much reduced tantalum, titanium and tungsten content (also cobalt, calcium), making the results more indicative of a majority iron/ steel content as described by Kayser (and Coan).

Perhaps coincidentally, but in line with the results above, Nolan, Vallee et al. question the detection of titanium and calcium in their later study due to possible confounding factors, discussed below, and they don't report finding cobalt (or tantalum, or tungsten: but Ta and W have higher atomic masses than 60, the upper limit of their detector).
_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

6. Findings, Nolan, Vallee, Jiang, Lemke (2021, published 2022)


The sample tested by the authors was provided by Jacques Vallee. It is referred to as CB_JV-1.

Note that while this sample is claimed to be derived from the same samples used in Table 1 (those samples are no longer available), it is distinct and uniquely measured in this report
Content from External Source
(Pg. 13, last line).
Why the sample is "claimed" to be from the Council Bluffs material- implying that this is not certain- is not explained.
Similarly, why sample CB_JV-1 is "distinct" from earlier-tested samples is not explained; whether this determination was made prior to the use of investigative technologies (e.g. by visual appearance), or after, is important but not clarified.

...the material was not radioactive
Content from External Source
Pg. 6 para. 1, it is explained this was ascertained before the earlier (1977-78) studies.

The CB_JV-1 sample is approximately XX inches across in the XYZ dimensions and weighs XX grams.
Content from External Source
(Pg. 13 last para.)
The authors have a sample whose characterisation might have "potential relevance to aerospace forensics", and they omit its dimensions and weight.
The mixing of US customary units and metric units (without their respective metric and US customary values) should not be expected in an academic paper.

No assessment of magnetic or conductive properties (either electrical or thermal) are mentioned. Such information might be relevant if the material might be from a technological- particularly an aerospacial- artefact. Sample density is not reported, nor is hardness. Ductility and melting point(s) are not reported, pehaps due to reluctance to damage the sample. In the context of the paper, all of these factors might be considered relevant to a forensic investigation of the sample. While the appropriate tests might not be examples of "improved instrumental techniques" as per the title of the paper, the information they might have provided could perhaps have informed the author's findings in ways that the instruments that they did use couldn't. It might be argued that the author's case study of CB_JV-1 demonstrates that reliance on a single (if improved) investigative technology alone is insufficient for a forensic analysis of a material sample.

A photograph of "a representative fragment" (pg. 8 first para.) is shown on pg. 7; it is very clearly two fragments. The authors do not state if this (or one of these) is CB_JV-1.
claimed CB material scale inches NVJL pg7.JPG


Considering the stated possible origin of CB_JV-1,
...material derived from an unidentified aerial object
Content from External Source
(pg. 2 first line),
and the extraordinary significance that this would have if correct, the absence of professional-standard photographs, from multiple angles, of CB_JV-1 is regrettable.
There is no description of the visual appearance of CB_JV-1. The objects in the photo look very much like metallic slag.

Two sample grains from CB_JV-1 underwent Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry (SIMS), and the isotope ratios for titanium, iron and chromium were found.
The results are consistent with terrestrial values
Content from External Source
(Figure 6, pg. 13; 1st para., pg.14).
On this basis our initial conclusion was that sample components were consistent with a terrestrial origin.
Content from External Source
Page 14, para. 3;
Notably, there were no significant isotopic differences from terrestrial normal in the subsamples, and thus the overall sample could have been made with terrestrial-derived materials
Content from External Source
1st para, pg.2.

To examine a broader range of isotopes, a multiplexed ion beam imaging (MIBI) instrument was used. MIBI
...uses Secondary-Ion Mass Spectrometry (SIMS)
Content from External Source
-Ionpath, Inc., website; Ionpath make a MIBI-SIMS system
https://www.ionpath.com/mibi-technology/

Although the authors have stated
The two principal techniques we have applied so far in our investigative work with unknown materials are known as ICP-MS (Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry) and SIMS (Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry)
Content from External Source
(pg. 3 2nd para.) this doesn't apply to the current study; only SIMS was used via two instruments, one being a MIBI device. There is no earlier published work co-authored by Nolan, Vallee, Jiang and Lemke collectively that uses ICP-MS that I am aware of.

MIBI indicated the presence of aluminium, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, silicon, sodium, titanium (see Figure 7, pg. 14).
Fig. 7 is reproduced here, invoking fair use for legitimate review and the difficulty in presenting the same information by other means:

Fig 7.JPG

Although not identified in Fig. 7 manganese ion counts are present in Figure 8A (pg. 15; see below), this is not explained. There are no returns for chromium or nickel in Fig. 7.
Reasons for chromium's presence in the author's preceding SIMS study, but absence here, are not discussed. Possible reasons for variance from the findings of the two earlier studies (e.g. absence of nickel, chromium) are not discussed.

The authors provide results for
... isotope counts for the most abundant elements between mass 20 and mass 60
Content from External Source
(pg. 15 para. 20); presumably this reflects the detection range of the author's MIBI set-up.
Carbon, relative atomic mass (AKA standard atomic weight) 12.011 is omitted. If the Council Bluffs material had significant steel content as the 1970's studies indicated, an estimate of carbon content might have been useful in a technology forensics context. Coan's 1977 study quantified carbon at 0.7%.
Kayser's study (1977 or '78) indicated returns for tantalum and tungsten, relative mass 180.948 and 183.84 respectively, beyond the limits of Nolan, Vallee et al.s' investigative set-up.

There is no discussion of the forensics implications of using an investigative technology apparently incapable of detecting elements/ isotopes with less than mass 20, e.g. carbon (carbon composites are increasingly used in aerospace engineering, the Airbus A350-900 XWB airframe is 52% carbon composite) or heavier than mass 60 (from an aerospace artefact, plutonium 238 might indicate a small thermoelectric generator; plutonium 239, carriage of a nuclear weapon).
The only example that the authors provide in their paper of a known aerospace artefact which likely underwent systematic forensic examination using the most sophisticated means then available is Cosmos 954 (see "8a1. Discussion of Cosmos 954", below). That craft's nuclear reactor and fuel would have been of great interest- perhaps the primary interest- to American investigators; but the techniques used by Nolan, Vallee et al. would have been of little use in this regard.

It is for the authors to make the case that their spectroscopic studies provide examples of improved (since 1977-'78) instrumental techniques, they do not do so; the lower mass detection range of Coan's study, and higher mass detection range of Kayser's, return findings for elements that Nolan, Vallee et al.'s instruments cannot detect. On page 15, para. 2 Nolan, Vallee et al. state
Other mass spectrometry approaches, such as ICP-MS specifically targeted to this mass range will be needed to verify this result
Content from External Source
and add that this would result in the destruction of the sample. Maybe Coan and/ or Kayser used ICP-MS spectroscopy which might have allowed a broader detection range but at the cost of destroying their samples, but the 2022 authors don't explicitly state this. If the authors chose an instrumental technique with a compromised detection range in order to preserve their sample as much as possible, that might be an understandable trade-off; it might be relevant to choices made by future investigators and it could be seen as a (necessary) limitation of the author's study, but there is no discussion of this.

Ti is not considered here in the analysis due to the presence of Ca and K in the sample, whose weights cannot be discriminated from isotopes of Ti.
In addition, 23Na|23Na and 23Na|24Mg diatomics similarly overlap with the Ti peaks. High peaks such as Ca, K, and Ni are not included in this analysis due to the possible interference with significant diatomics.
Content from External Source
Pg. 15, para. 2.
-The authors exclude calcium, nickel, potassium and titanium from their subsequent figures. Note, like Mn (which is not excluded- yet-) Ni is absent from Figure 7, whereas Ca and K returns are labelled. Although Ni is excluded, it isn't clear that it was detected.

The author's earlier SIMS results measured four isotopes of Ti and two of Cr (alongside three of Fe, Figure 6, pg. 15) to inform the author's conclusion that the materials were consistent with terrestrial origin (para. 1, pg. 14), yet the authors now discard Ti, and do not comment on the absence of Cr returns in Figure 7.

Although the returns for some isotopes of Ca, K, Ni and Ti might be indistinguishable, the decision to omit these elements from later charts of the relative ratios of elements in subsamples 1-5 (i.e. Figure 9, pg. 15), even if only as a grouping (e.g. "Possible Ca, K, Ni, Ti") is questionable, as one or more of these elements must be present in CB_JV-1 (unless there are isotopes of other elements with the same atomic weight present-if I understand correctly).

Nevertheless the author's discussion of the possible confounding effects of oxidation, diatomics, and isotopes of different elements having indistinguishable weights, arguably gives confidence in their interpretation (if not presentation) of these results. It is interesting that the authors exclude titanium from this analysis; Ti has many aerospace engineering applications, and was apparently detected in all samples tested by Kayser (although not mentioned by him- and reduced to arbitrary trace values in all but 1 sample in the conjectural Modified Table 1 (B), above).

Similarly, where the returned values for Fe 57 slightly exceed the terrestrial norm in proportion to Fe 56, the authors state
...this is likely to be caused by a minor contamination of Fe-hydride diatomic ions...
Content from External Source
pg. 15 para. 3, in concordance with their interpretation of the isotopic ratios from their earlier SIMS study as being in line with terrestrial norms.
[Figure 8B, pg. 15, shows "Ion counts for the masses around 57Fe..."; this is incorrectly referred to as Figure 9B in the text, pg. 15 para 3.]

The authors should be credited for prosaic interpretations of their data, resulting from an understanding of the underlying chemistry/ physics of their investigation and the returns of the MIBI instrument. Perhaps uncharitably, maybe I was anticipating more challenging interpretations: that the findings imply an aerospace artefact (due to Ti), or even extraterrestrial origin (raised Fe 57 returns).

Figure 8A, page 15, shows the (intra-elemental) proportions of isotopes found for aluminium (Al), iron (Fe), magnesium (Mg), manganese (Mn), silicon (Si) and sodium (Na).

Note, like Ni (see above) Mn is not seen in Figure 7, pg. 14. The data in Figure 8A was obtained from the MIBI instrument as was the data represented in Figure 7. The authors do not explain the absence of a manganese ionization efficiency in Figure 7; in Figure 8A subsamples 1, 3 and 5 all return Mn ion counts.

Figure 8A does not contain values for subsamples 2 and 4;
...samples 2 and 4 are not presented here due to the low ion counts
Content from External Source
pg. 15 para. 2. Samples 2 and 4
...had the lowest ion counts across the mass range (meaning they were slightly oxidized and perhaps not well ionized during analysis)
Content from External Source
pg. 15 para. 1.

The table below is from the information in Figure 8A. (Note; in the original table the isotopes are in order of atomic weight, placing Mg-55 between Fe-54 and Fe-56).

Data from Figure 8A pg. 15.jpg

The authors note that the five subsamples of CB_JV-1 show marked inhomogeneity. They state,
...it might be reasonable to conclude that the sample was inhomogeneous across its totality for reasons yet to be determined
Content from External Source
pg. 16 para. 2, also see Figure 9, pg. 15.
...the parent sample is inhomogeneous.
Content from External Source
pg. 2 para. 2.

One explanation for this inhomogeneity might be that the material is not in fact from a single manufactured (homogenous) alloy, but from a melt of mixed, varied metal components. This rather obvious possibility is only briefly alluded to by the authors,
...whatever the sample’s origins, it was incompletely mixed at the time of deposition
Content from External Source
in para 2. pg. 18, and in reference to speculation by Kayser (who conducted the second early study), which will be considered in "8e. A hoax using thermite", below.
The implications of this finding in terms of determining the possible origins and purpose of the material are not discussed by the authors.

The authors note that there are spectrographic indications of other trace elements, including germanium, but suggest this is due to diatomic spectra from other identified constituent elements (page 16, para. 3).
As an aside, in 1977 germanium would be found in many transistors, although silicon transistors -and integrated circuits- were rendering them obsolete. My subjective experience, late 70's on, was that Ge transistors would "blow" quite frequently (or simply fail to work from the outset), ending up in the waste bin.

In Figure 9, page 15, Nolan, Vallee et al. display the
Relative ratios of the elements for each of the subsamples...
Content from External Source
(my italics), which I take to mean that the authors are stating these are the actual quantitative ratios of constituents.
The 2022 paper doesn't describe any other technique used to establish the relative amounts of constituent elements in the CB_JV-1 subsamples.

However, the authors have already stated, re. the MIBI instrument,
...one cannot compare the molar ratios between different elements in an experimental sample, but comparisons of isotopes within a given element is possible. Therefore, the MIBI instrument used in this report is not quantitative between elements, due to difference in efficiencies of ionization, while it is quantitative for isotopes intra-element.
Content from External Source
Page 6, para. 2.
There seems to be a serious contradiction between the above statements (Figure 9 pg. 15 and pg. 6 para. 2), unless I have radically misunderstood the meanings of one or both of the above quotes.
The pie charts 1, 3 and 5 in Fig. 9 appear to be based on the counts presented in Fig. 8A; 8A appears to display the intra-elemental ratios of isotopes.
Using the data in 8A, I have constructed pie charts for subsamples 1, 3 and 5; they match those the authors provide in Fig. 9 of their paper, which are supposedly relative ratios of the elements in each subsample.
(as already noted, the counts for 2 and 4 are not given in Figure 8A).

Some of my remarks below are based on the assumption that the Figure 9 charts do portray the "[r]elative ratios of the elements" in each subsample as claimed by Nolan, Vallee et al; these are marked with an asterisk (*).
The pie charts below are reconstructions of those in the author's Figure 9. Charts 1, 3 and 5 are based on data from Figure 8A. Charts 2 and 4 are approximations of their graphic appearance in Fig. 9; any inaccuracies introduced are mine.

Charts as per Figure 9

fig9 from ion counts subsample1.JPGfig9 from ion counts subsample2.JPGfig9 from ion counts subsample3.JPGfig9 from ion counts subsample4.JPGfig9 from ion counts subsample5.JPG

In 4 out of 5 subsamples, including 2 of the 3 where ion counts are known, *both aluminium and silicon are present in greater quantity than iron.

The author's pie charts appear to be based on- at least they strongly correlate with- the data shown in Figure 8A, which does not contain values for subsamples 2 and 4 (due to low ion counts, above).
Nevertheless in Figure 9 the authors present pie charts for subsamples 2 and 4, which must be based on ion counts like those shown for subsamples 1, 3 and 5, Figure 8A.

Why the authors chose to portray pie charts for subsamples 2 and 4 in Figure 9, but not the data on which they are based in Figure 8A, seems an odd decision.

Equally, the author's omission of manganese from these charts seems arbitrary, and is puzzling. (Sodium is also omitted; although Na diatomics overlap with Ti peaks, Na ion counts are listed in Fig. 8A, unlike those for Ca, Ni, K, Ti).
For subsamples 1 and 3, manganese is a *minor constituent (0.2% and 0.7% respectively, from data in Figure 8A) but subsample 5 is *4.5% Mn, a greater proportion than that of magnesium in subsamples 1,3 and 5:

Chart for subsample 5 as per Figure 9, including manganese as per Figure 8A

Sbsmpl5 Mn.jpg


It is implied that the author's investigation is an example of "...characterization of unusual materials with potential relevance to aerospace forensics", but it is hard to conceive of a forensic investigation into a sample's composition being improved by excluding a probable constituent (Mn) without explanation.

The table below shows elements indicated by spectroscopy by Nolan, Vallee et al., as mentioned in the 2022 paper, and reasons (if known) for any elements later excluded:

elements indicated cbjv1.jpg


Comparing the Fig. 9 pie charts 1, 3 and 5, where the authors return ion counts, and 2 and 4, apparently based on ion counts which the authors do not provide, some differences are visible. For subsamples 2 and 4 the authors do not state what level of ion count was determined as their cut-off, if this was decided before results were obtained, or whether it is normal practice to discard such results. This might have been useful for the guidance of future investigators.

Below, a repeat of the pie charts corresponding to Figure 9 arranged for easier comparison of subsamples 1, 3 and 5 against 2 and 4.
Again, charts for 2 and 4 are based on their graphic appearance in the author's Figure 9, not numerical data like 1, 3 and 5; my representation is approximate.
(Click to enlarge)
fig9 all pie charts.jpg

The authors describe these charts as showing the relative ratios of elements in each of the 5 subsamples; it is difficult to decide what significance should be attached to the charts for 2 and 4.
Subsamples 2 and 4 show much smaller proportions of iron (and more aluminium) than 1, 3 and 5; the authors appear to link this with possibly greater oxidation of 2 and 4 (pg. 15 para. 1).
It is possible that retrieved aerospace artefacts undergoing analysis in the future might themselves have been substantially oxidised (or include oxidised components); the authors do not address this potential problem to the approach used in their case study. If the problematic oxidation occurred during spectroscopic processing (as can happen), the authors do not discuss how this risk- affecting 40% of their subsamples- might be minimized in future.

*Iron is not a majority component in any subsample; more aluminium than iron is present in subsamples 1, 2, 3, and 4, Al is >50% in 4 (iron is 46% of subsample 5).
*Silicon, like aluminium, is a larger component than iron in all subsamples except 5.
The possible origins of the silicon- whether a constituent of the material(s) deposited at the site, or incorporated into that melting material from the soil (or sand?) that the material was deposited on- are not discussed. If the Si is from the ground, a modest reduction of the estimates of the deposited material's mass is necessary (density of iron 7.874 g/cm3, silicon 2.329 g/cm3, Wikipedia (accessed 23/09/23) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iron, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silicon).
It is possible that the author's *finding of substantial quantities of silicon- not indicated by the earlier Coan, Kayser studies- indicates that CB_JV-1 originated from the underside of the find, in contact with (and incorporating some material from) the ground.

If the author's claim that the Figure 9 charts represent the relative ratios of elements in the subsamples is correct, then it is at odds with the two 1970's studies that conclude that the material is "...chiefly iron with small amounts of nickel and chromium" (pg. 8 para. 1).
The authors do not comment on this, other than
...this study verified the prior findings in terms of elemental composition and “natural” isotope content...
Content from External Source
in their summary (pg. 18 para. 2). This must be questionable if "composition" includes the relative ratios of elements; none of Nolan, Vallee et al.'s subsamples have a majority iron content and only in subsample 5 is iron the most abundant element.
This is a significant difference in composition from that indicated by the 1977 Jack Coan / Griffin Pipe Products study (it seems unlikely that the Kayser study returned quantitative ratios, although Kayser described his sample as carbon steel). Coan failed to find significant aluminium; Al is a major component in all CB_JV-1 subsamples.

Remembering the author's line about CB_JV-1
...this sample is claimed to be derived from the same samples used in Table 1... it is distinct and uniquely measured in this report
Content from External Source
(pg. 13 last line, my emphasis), maybe it's reasonable to question whether CB_JV-1 and the Coan/ Kayser samples had the same origin.
If CB_JV-1 is from the Council Bluffs material, *and the relative ratios of elements in Figure 9 reflect its actual composition, then the level of difference with Coan's analysis indicates a very marked level of inhomogeneity, more than that found between the CB_JV-1 subsamples. It must be very unlikely that the metallic component of the material was a true alloy. The inhomogeneity strongly implies an uneven mixture of heterogenous metallic sources that vary in their elemental composition.
[My use of "*" as described above ends here.]

The authors make no attempt to combine the results of their initial SIMS study and the later SIMS-MIBI study in an attempt to describe the composition of CB_JV-1.
The authors do not offer any summary (other than, arguably, Figure 9) stating what they believe CB_JV-1 is actually composed of.
No conclusions are made, or new hypotheses advanced, about possible origins of CB_JV-1 based on the author's investigations- all the discussed hypotheses were extant long before the 2022 study, and the authors do not use their investigation results to test any of those hypotheses.

In "Speculative conclusions", pg. 16 para 4., the authors state
We have outlined current trends in advanced materials analysis, as applied to solid samples collected in the field, with a view to determine their nature, structure, and potential purpose
Content from External Source
Despite the above quote, in "Speculative conclusions" the authors do not discuss, or draw any conclusions, about the nature, structure or potential purpose of the Council Bluffs material. There are no speculative conclusions in the paragraph "Speculative conclusions".

6a. Definitions of carbon steel

This might be a bit of a pedantic gripe on my part-
nevertheless, the author's definition of carbon steel is perhaps of interest in the context of their study and its title.

In the last line of pg. 13, para. 3., Kayser (who conducted the 2nd 1970s study) is quoted as saying
"...despite the name, carbon steels contain less carbon (about 1.0 to 1.2%), than cast iron (about 4%).
Content from External Source
In the preceding paragraph (2nd para pg. 13) Nolan, Vallee et al. state
...carbon steels are usually configured to contain between 0.05 to 3.8 percent by weight of carbon
Content from External Source
but do not comment on the different values Kayser gives for carbon steels .

Although there isn't a universal consensus on how different proportions of carbon to iron in an alloy are described, both Kayser and Nolan, Vallee et al.'s values are questionable (Kayser's "...about 1.0 to 1.2 %" might be defended as an off-the-cuff median value. Or maybe terminology has shifted since 1977).
Generally though, "carbon steel" is used to describe iron alloyed with a carbon content of up to approximately 2 to 2.14 %; iron alloyed with a higher carbon content is usually called "cast iron".
carbon steel v cast iron.jpg

Sources (all accessed Sept. 2023): Britannica https://www.britannica.com/technology/steel ,
The World Material https://www.theworldmaterial.com/low-medium-high-carbon-steel/, https://www.theworldmaterial.com/different-types-of-steel-classification/ ,
Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon_steel, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cast_iron, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wrought_iron

Not on this chart, TWI Limited's website gives carbon contents of low-carbon steel: < 0.25%, medium-carbon steel: 0.25-0.6%, high-carbon steel: 0.6-1.25%
https://www.twi-global.com/technical-knowledge/faqs/carbon-steel-vs-stainless-steel ,
and Wikipedia article "Steel" states
The carbon content of steel is between 0.002% and 2.14% by weight for plain carbon steel (iron-carbon alloys).
Content from External Source
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steel

The author's definition of carbon steel is significantly different from those generally used. The two 1970's studies concluded the material was mainly carbon steel. Carbon steels of different grades, and other steels, have many applications in the aerospace industry. These two facts might lead us to expect the authors to have familiarized themselves with the properties of carbon steel (as widely defined) if their case study is characterised as a forensic investigation "with potential relevance to aerospace forensics".
_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

7. "Liquid metal, MHD and advanced flying vehicles." Page 17, first para. pg. 18.

The material found at Council Bluffs was found in a partially melted state, at least one edge behaving at first as a viscous fluid-
"...the material that was “running, boiling down the edges of the levee..."
Content from External Source
-pg.9 first/ second line; uncited by the authors, possibly fire officer Jack Moore.
Lava-like material was running down the dike appearing to slow as it cooled
Content from External Source
3rd paragraph, "Close Encounter" at Big Lake Park" (Richard Warner, undated) The Historical Society of Pottawattamie County website
https://www.thehistoricalsociety.org/h/ufo.html

When reading these near-apocalyptic descriptions, it should be remembered that the final maximum extent [ITAL] of the cooled material was approximately
6 feet by 4 feet; approx. 1.83 by 1.22 metres (pg.7 para. 5). This is a little less than the surface area of a modest double mattress.
Wikipedia, Bed size accessed 04/12/23 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bed_size
Just for fun:
mattress v council bluffs.jpg
...so you could cover the Council Bluffs material with a duvet cover.
(Should you come across incandescent waste of similar dimensions, do not use it as a mattress).

The lack of homogeneity discovered in the material makes it unlikely that it was maintained in a dynamic fast-flowing liquid state for any significant time. The author's assessment of the material's composition (which they do not state in their text, but is apparently displayed in Figure 9) - aluminium, silicon, iron, magnesium, possibly manganese and some other elements- makes it a poor candidate for use as a liquid conductor, or in a magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) generator.
Nevertheless, the authors write,

One aspect of the material is that it was claimed to have dropped from an aerial vehicle. Could liquid metal be part of some propulsion or power generation system? In the words of J. R. Bumby of the University of Durham, "the high conductivity of liquid metals makes them an attractive means of current collection for homopolar machines.
Content from External Source
Pg. 17 para. 4. Note; none of the claimed witnesses reported seeing any material drop from an aerial vehicle. The claim of material dropped from a flying vehicle is an extrapolation by others (including the authors, first two lines pg. 17), see "The Council Bluffs incident", above.

Dr. Jim Bumby was a reader in electrical engineering for many years at the University of Durham, UK. Much of his work dealt with practical applications.
I think it unlikely that he meant (in the quote above) that all liquid metals- including mixtures of metals with substantial non-metallic inclusions- are "...an attractive means of current collection", and it might be a disservice to him to imply this.

Brief profile of Jim Bumby, and list of his publications at "IEEE Xplore",
https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/author/37270694200
At the time of Nolan, Vallee et al.'s study Dr. Bumby was no longer at the University of Durham. Under "Övrig [Other] information" for Power System Dynamics Stability and Control (2020, Machowski, Lubosny, Bialek, Bumby) on the Swedish website "bokus" (books), it says
"James R. Bumby, formerly Reader at Durham University, UK."
https://www.bokus.com/bok/9781119526346/power-system-dynamics/
(My emphasis); Nolan, Vallee et al.'s information about Bumby was out-of-date. Perhaps not surprising:

All the references cited in section 4.3 (refs. 39-46) cite work over 38 years old at the time of the author's study, bar reference (40), a 2021 Wikipedia (!) article, "Homopolar motor". Other than that, the references date from 1983, 1958, 1974, 1972, 1971, 1971, 1979.

Why are the references so dated? Because, except for the Wikipedia reference, they are the same references as used in the section "Liquid Metal Technology" in
(co-author) Jacques Vallee's 1998 paper "Physical Analyses in Ten Cases of Unexplained Aerial Objects with Material Samples" (PDF attached, below).
In fact, most of section 4.1 in the author's 2022 paper is identical to "Physical Analyses..." in Vallee's 1998 paper.
I guess an author can't plagiarise themselves, but I wonder if the staff of Progress in Aerospace Sciences, publisher of the 2022 paper, were aware of this overlap.
Bizarrely, although the Vallee (1998) paper is cited in Nolan, Vallee et al. (reference 29), there is no such citation in section 4.1.

Here is a jpeg enabling a quick comparison of the similar texts; it is copied from a word document, "Comparison of Texts", attached below.
(Click to enlarge)
Comparison of text.jpg

Speculating on possible uses of liquid metal, the authors write
A different approach has been proposed by J. Roser in correspondence with one of the authors: He hypothesized a nuclear design as a potential power plant
Content from External Source
Nolan, Vallee et al. pg. 17 para. 6 (compare with Vallee, 1998 2nd para. pg. 16 of PDF). Roser's highly hypothetical ideas are described, but there is no reference for him in either paper (a quick internet search returns several J. Rosers with backgrounds in physics etc.)

Assuming a working fluid of aluminum-27 plus some percentage of phosphorus-31 (solitary stable isotopes of their respective elements) Roser speculated that depleted fluid might need to be occasionally ejected:
Content from External Source
(italicised by Nolan, Vallee et al.)
This discarded material would contain Al-27, P-11, iron from the original melt or housing erosion, plus isotopes of nuclei close to aluminum and phosphorus such as Mg, Na, Si and S
Content from External Source
Roser, quoted by the authors, pg. 17 para. 7, pg. 18 para 1.
"P-11" should be "P-31" as per Vallee 1998.
One has to question the design of a flying vehicle which occasionally needs to dump kilos of melted nuclear reactor housing.

The authors write,
Iron and Silicon were indeed found in our Council Bluffs samples, but the other elements were not present
Content from External Source
(pg. 18 para. 1).
This is a serious in-paper contradiction: Phosphorus (P) wasn't found, but aluminium-27 clearly was, as was magnesium, see Figs. 7, 8A, 9; sodium (Na) was indicated (Figs. 7, 8A) but later discarded for reasons already mentioned. In fact, Al-27 was the most abundant element in 2 of the 3 unoxidized samples (1 and 3) and both the more problematic oxidized samples (2 and 4) if Figure 9 displays "Relative ratios of the elements for each of the subsamples" as the authors claim (see Figure 9, pg. 15, and "Charts as per Figure 9", above).
Aluminium is not only present, it is the most common element detected by the authors. The error contained in the quote above is serious, and extraordinary.
The presence of aluminium and magnesium might indicate a plausible hypothesis for the material's purpose and composition that does not require the the presence of a nuclear reactor of highly speculative (and radiologically dirty) design carried by a selectively visible UFO.

Note; Roser's comments are near-identical to those made at least 23 years earlier in discussion of a material sample from Bogota, "1975 or 1976", (pg. 9 of PDF, Vallee 1998). See Vallee (1998), pg. 16 of PDF (marked pg. 374 on page).

Roser suggests further isotopic analysis to determine if it reveals anomalous isotopes (such as 32Si with half-life 280 years) which would indicate a nuclear-based power source. The latter isotope was not found in the Council Bluffs materials.
Content from External Source
Pg. 18 para. 1, Nolan, Vallee et al.
The first sentence above, with minor differences, was originally in Vallee's 1998 paper; it refers to the Bogota sample (see text comparison).
Vallee would have been aware of Roser's criteria (for liquid metal to be associated with a nuclear power source) for some 23-plus years before the 2022 paper. The Council Bluffs material does not meet those criteria (and was found not to be radioactive in 1977), so why include Roser's speculations in the 2022 paper at all?

Nolan, Vallee et al. clearly imply that Roser corresponded with one of the 2022 authors about the Council Bluffs material.
Is this the case?
If not, it might be problematic. It is possible that Roser would have agreed that his speculation about the Bogota sample also applied to the Council Bluffs material, but the use of near-identical wording in the 2022 paper might indicate to an unsympathetic reader that Roser did not in fact correspond with Nolan, Vallee et al. about CB_JV-1, but that the authors have reproduced Roser's comments about the earlier Bogota find.

Along with the exciting conjecture about liquid metals in nuclear reactors, the authors write
...liquid metal designs have been proposed... ...for superconducting airborne platforms [46].
Content from External Source
(Pg. 17 para. 5, author's italics).
That reference [46] on page 20 gives us,
46. Southall, H.L. and C.E. Oberly, "System Considerations for Airborne, High-power Superconducting Generators". Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, 1979. 15(1): p. 711.
This paper is attached as a PDF below.

(1) The Southall and Oberly paper is not in any way about "superconducting airborne platforms". It is not about aircraft design or propulsion.
It is about superconducting airborne generators, i.e. generators for electricity production on board airborne platforms. A generator is not an "airborne platform", an aircraft is. Throughout the Southall/ Oberly paper it is assumed that the power source for the generator is a conventional (aero engine) turbine. Nolan, Vallee et al.'s use of the phrase "superconducting airborne platforms" is misleading, and their use of italics to imply significance unwarranted.

(2) There is nothing in Southall and Oberly's 1979 paper about liquid metal. Absolutely nothing at all. Throughout the paper it is assumed that windings of superconducting wire are to be used.
The application of multifilament Nb3Sn has permitted a large thermal margin to be designed into the rotating field winding. ...Preliminary selection of a multifilament Nb3Sn cable has resulted from these considerations. The cable will carry 864 amperes at 8.5K and 6.8 Tesla.
Content from External Source
(Abstract, pg. 1, Southall and Oberly 1979).
The paper is about relatively conventional late 1970's designs for superconducting generators, as this figure (pg. 1 of PDF, 711 of journal) shows:

Southall Oberly Fig 2.JPG

Part of the description for the above figure reads,
The electromagnetic shield screens the superconducting field windings from any asynchronous magnetic fields produced by the stator (armature) winding currents
Content from External Source
There is nothing in this paper that supports, in any way, its use as a reference in the context that Nolan, Vallee, Jiang and Lemke (2022) use it.

Nolan, Vallee, Jiang and Lemke's representation of the 1979 Southall/ Oberly paper is wholly wrong. It is almost inconceivable that Nolan, Vallee, Jiang and Lemke all misunderstood the Southall/ Oberly paper.
And it isn't an administrative error, e.g. citing the wrong paper: Like much of the text in "4.1 Liquid metal, MHD and advanced flying vehicles", the text (and reference) about the Southall/ Oberly paper is identical to that used by Vallee (1998).

Apparently no-one, between 1998 and 2021, contacted Vallee to point out he was wrong to use the Southall/ Oberly paper as an example of proposed "liquid metal technology".
Nolan, Jiang and Lemke either didn't read the referenced paper, or comprehensively misunderstood it. Either possibility is troubling.
It is perhaps unlikely that the editors of "Progress in Aerospace Sciences", the publishers of Nolan, Vallee et al.s' paper, checked this reference.

The "Liquid Metal..." section of the paper concludes, referring to the Council Bluffs find,
Perhaps our physics are yet insufficient to explain the purpose of such material, should its origin be determined to be engineered for a function we don’t currently understand.
Content from External Source
(Pg. 18, 1st para.)
That must be a highly speculative "should". The author's case study surely demonstrates that CB_JV-1 is not a superconductor, or nuclear drive waste as described by Roser. Instead of adopting these conclusions from their own research, the authors appear to imply that unknown physics might be a possible explanation for the material: the material might still have a "high-tech" origin or purpose, despite their own evidence to the contrary.
A sufficiently advanced technology might be able to transmute a discarded potato chip packet into a superconductor or an exotic fuel, but finding a potato chip packet of unknown origin is perhaps insufficient evidence that this is currently occurring. Arthur C. Clarke stated
Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic
Content from External Source
(Profiles of the Future, 1962); to invoke such a technology- when more mundane explanations are available- might be seen as akin to magical thinking.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

8. Hypotheses for the Council Bluffs material

On pages 10, 11 and 12 of their paper the authors consider 5 hypotheses which might account for the find at Gilbert's Pond:
A satellite re-entry and crash; a meteorite; material dropped from an aircraft (of conventional type); a hoax using thermite; a hoax using poured molten metal.
(The hypothesis of a hoax using thermite is considered last here).

The authors use US customary units (quoting a USAF letter) discussing the satellite hypothesis, metric for the meteorite hypothesis, US customary for aircraft-dropped material and poured molten metal hypotheses, and both US customary and metric units for temperature- without their respective equivalents each time- when discussing the thermite hypothesis. This shouldn't occur in an academic paper.

Estimates of the material's weight, discussed below, vary from 30 to 55 pounds (approx. 13.64 to 25 kg) implying there was no serious attempt by any party- fire department, police, or anyone else involved- to study the material in situ or catalogue pieces removed from the site, despite it only covering approx. 2.233 m squared (2.671 square yards).

8a. Satellite re-entry

Already mentioned, Professor Frank Kayser commented on the possibility of the material being from an aerospace artefact in 1977 or 1978:

“Such hardware usually involved alloys of much higher strength-to-weight ratio, containing high amounts of nickel, chromium and titanium."
Content from External Source
(Pg. 13 para. 2). The day after the find, local journalist and amateur astronomer Robert Allen (pg. 8 para. 6) retrieved some of the material.
He requested USAF opinion on whether it could be debris from a [presumably uncontrolled] satellite re-entry (Vallee, 1998 states the department contacted was Air Force Space Systems; last para. pg. 13 of PDF, marked pg. 371).
USAF Colonel Charles Senn replied, but thought a satellite re-entry unlikely; the authors list his 4 points why in paras. 4-7, pg. 10.
They can be summarized as (a) such material would not be molten at impact, (b) no ground impression or spread of debris at Council Bluffs, (c) a satellite would not be glowing at the altitude seen [as reported by Kenny Drake and James] and (d),
There are no structure indications in any of the debris samples. This is very unlikely for space debris.
Content from External Source
Pg. 10 para. 7, quoting Colonel Senn.

The authors accept that the re-entering satellite hypothesis is unlikely, describing Senn's letter as "...helpful in dismissing" it (pg. 10 para. 8).
They report Col. Senn concluded (same para.)
"The Air Force does not feel that additional investigation or analysis is warranted."
Content from External Source

8a1. Discussion of Cosmos 954, "Operation Morning Light", pg. 16.

Immediately after "Speculative Conclusions" (pg. 16 para. 4) the authors briefly discuss the break-up of the Soviet satellite Cosmos (or Kosmos) 954 over Canada, 24 January 1978, which scattered debris over a path of some 600 km (370 miles);
Wikipedia, accessed 04/12/23, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kosmos_954

Some of the debris comprised nuclear fuel, mainly uranium 235, from an estimated 35-50 kg (77-110 pounds) payload in the craft's BES-5 fast fission reactor
(Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BES-5 , accessed 04/12/23).
The radiological clean-up by Canada and the USA was called "Operation Morning Light"; the title used by the authors for this section of the paper (pg. 16, paras. 5, 6, 7). They write that, because of the Cosmos 954 incident,
...it was natural for US and Canadian authorities to revive their lagging [Sic? flagging? -John J.] interest in Council Bluffs and to investigate a potential connection.
Content from External Source
(Pg. 16, para. 6). Nolan, Vallee et al. might think this, but provide no evidence that this was the case. Colonel Senn's letter suggests that the USAF had no ongoing interest in the Council Bluffs material.
There were no doubts about the origin of Cosmos 954; North American Aerospace Defense Command had detected the satellite's erratic orbital changes in mid-December 1977, and Soviet officials advised American authorities about the craft's impending re-entry (Wikipedia, ibid).
The main concern was the radioactive fuel, but the chance to retrieve Soviet reconnaissance satellite technology must also have been a priority.

The reasons which USAF Col. Senn advanced for the Council Bluffs material not being satellite debris- which Nolan, Vallee et al. seem to accept- were just as valid post-Cosmos 954 as before; indeed, the actual satellite re-entry reaffirmed some of those points- debris over a wide area, not molten on the ground, with remaining structural features; all (as Senn predicted) in contrast to the Council Bluffs material.

The authors continue (pg. 16 para. 7)
Given the analytical results and the instrumental procedures described above, it soon became clear there was no connection between the two events.
Content from External Source
It is highly probable that US agencies used whatever means were available- including spectroscopy- to examine recovered components from Cosmos 954.
If the authors are claiming that the agencies conducting those studies compared their results with the Coan/ Kayser results from Council Bluffs, then they provide no evidence. Given the USAF's lack of interest in the Iowa debris, any such comparison seems unlikely.

The presence of uranium 235 on Cosmos 954 was in the public domain from the outset. I am not aware of the results from spectroscopy (e.g. to determine the composition of structural alloys used, or reactor fission products) being made public at the time of Morning Light or any time soon after.
It must be extremely unlikely that anyone not officially involved in investigating Cosmos 954 used "...analytical results and the instrumental procedures described above" to determine that "there was no connection between the two events" (the Council Bluffs find and Cosmos 954) as they wouldn't have had access to the relevant findings about the satellite.
That the Council Bluffs material was not from a satellite re-entry would have been clear, to those with the appropriate practical knowledge, almost immediately as Col Senn's comments indicate. Nolan, Vallee et al. provide no evidence that "...the analytical results and the instrumental procedures described above" were used to demonstrate "...there was no connection between the two events", nor do they provide any evidence that the team(s) analyzing the Cosmos debris made any comparison with- or indeed had any interest in- the Council Bluffs find.

The examination of retrieved parts of Cosmos 954 may well have been a near-textbook example of "...instrumental techniques, including isotopic analysis, applicable to the characterization of unusual materials with potential relevance to aerospace forensics" albeit in the context of 1978.
Despite their "Operation Morning Light" section, the 2022 authors do not document any attempt on their part to find out what investigative techniques were used or to what effect.
As noted above, the author's own investigative set-up had a lower mass-detection threshold than Kayser's in 1978. They would have been unable to determine the composition of reactor fuel from a Cosmos 954-type incident, as was done in 1978, with their example of an improved instrumental technique in 2022.

8b. Meteorite impact

Nolan, Vallee et al. use an estimate of the Council Bluff material's mass to demonstrate that a similar mass meteorite would have insufficient kinetic energy to become molten (pg. 10 last para., pg. 11 first para).

They also state
...iron meteorites are found to contain between 5-40% Nickel [35], whereas the Council Bluffs material had only trace amounts of Nickel
Content from External Source
-pg. 11 para. 1; back in the '70s Professor Kayser's study
...confirmed the fact that the material was not of meteoritic origin, for "in that case one would expect a much higher nickel content”
Content from External Source
pg. 13 para. 2.
The 2022 authors use a quote,
...and “spectrographic analysis did not disclose metal components that should be an integral part of meteoritic material.”
Content from External Source
(pg. 11 para. 2; uncited; we don't know its origin) suggesting that they reject the meteor impact hypothesis.
In light of the material evidence, the author's calculations and Colonel Senn's advice, this is entirely reasonable.

8c. Material dropped from an aircraft

Gilbert's Pond is approx. 2 km/ 1.24 miles to the southeast of Eppley Airfield on the other side of the Missouri, and approx. 10 km/ 6.21 miles from the smaller Council Bluffs Municipal Airport to the east-southeast (ESE).

Offhut Air Force Base is approx. 19.3 km/ 12 miles to the south-southwest (SSW) of Gilbert's Pond; in 1977 Strategic Air Command HQ was stationed at Offhut (as US Strategic Command is now). In Operation Looking Glass from February 1961 to July 1990, at least one EC-135 flying from Offhut AFB was in the air at any given time, providing an airborne command post in case of war
(Wikipedia, Offhut Air Force Base, accessed 10/12/23, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Offutt_Air_Force_Base).

m airbase airports.JPG


The hypothesis that the Council Bluffs material fell from an aircraft is considered by the authors,
...the incident might have been associated with “a piece of equipment or metal which fell from an aircraft landing at Eppley on the runway heading 320
degrees.”
Content from External Source
(pg. 11 para. 3; again the authors use a quote without attribution/ citation).

No problems were reported by operators using Eppley Airfield on December 17. The authors point out that material falling from an aircraft would not reach a speed necessary to bring it to a high temperature. They do not consider the more prosaic (if dramatic) possibility of already-burning material being dropped, but this would probably represent a catastrophic failure of an aircraft and can be ruled out for that date. Illicit dumping of hot material from a small aircraft would seem to be a pointlessly hazardous and complex endeavour; and it's hard to think of a reason why sane aircrew would fly with such material on board.

As with the satellite hypothesis, the very constrained area in which the material was found also makes this possibility unlikely- there was very little scattering of debris. (This fact applies to any other hypothesis involving the material falling from a considerable height).

Next, a check of all airlines operating into Eppley Field indicated no arrivals using the runway that would bring any aircraft near the impact site.
Content from External Source
(Pg. 11 para. 4). Conversely, it might be thought that all aircraft using Eppley Airfield are near the site of the find.
I once wondered if a military illumination or target-marking store might have been responsible, but this seems very unlikely (aircraft-dispensed flares are discussed elsewhere on this forum). The small number of claimed witnesses in the adjacent built-up area implies that the material, if dropped, wasn't widely seen; incidents such as the "Phoenix lights" of March 13 1997 (and others) demonstrate that where military aircraft flares are dropped, they can be seen (and misidentified) over a large area for a substantial duration, e.g. enough time for a witness to bring it to other people's attention.

8d. Hoax using poured molten metal

The possibility of the Council Bluffs material being transported in a molten state and tipped at the site (presumably from some sort of plant or industrial vehicle) is addressed by Nolan, Vallee et al. They state the only facility in Council Bluffs dealing with molten metal was the Griffen Pipe Products Company (workplace of Jack Coan who carried out the first analysis of the material in 1977).

Mr. Linton Stewart, works manager, stated they “dropped the bottom from their cupolas” on Friday afternoon and did no pouring whatsoever until early on Monday.
Content from External Source
(Pg. 12 para. 2). I won't pretend to understand what this means, but accept that Mr. Stewart is saying the company didn't have accessable molten metal on its premises on Saturday 17 September 1977.

Paxton-Mitchell Steel of Omaha advised on the practicalities- and substantial difficulties- of transporting metal in a molten state, requiring (at the least) a large truck containing a robust brick oven and means of maintaining the contents at the required temperature.
Note, like some other quotes in the paper, the opinions from Paxton-Mitchell Steel are not cited- or dated.
It seems the Omaha foundry stopped operating under the name of Paxton-Mitchell Steel around 2013 (Paxton-Mitchell continues as a production engineering company at Blair, Nevada);

...Omaha is bidding farewell to a foundry. ...production is not slated to resume anytime soon at Grede Omaha LLC, formerly part of the 115-year-old Paxton-Mitchell Co.
The Grede property and buildings will be sold at an Auction Solutions Inc. auction Oct. 29-30. Grede liquidated machinery, tools and other equipment at auction Sept. 18-19. Less than two years after purchasing the Omaha-based foundry and machining divisions of Paxton-Mitchell, Michigan-based Grede Holdings LLC has called it quits here...
Content from External Source
From Foundry-Planet.Com, Foundry Daily News, "USA - Former Paxton-Mitchell Foundry's Rich History to go on the Auction Block", 11 October 2013
https://www.foundry-planet.com/d/us...drys-rich-history-to-go-on-the-auction-block/
-meaning the 2022 authors couldn't have discussed the matter with Paxton-Mitchell representatives from an Omaha foundry.

The original source, who spoke with Omaha staff of Paxton-Mitchell, presumably some years earlier, is not identified or cited.
The 2022 authors write
The investigators concluded that:
Content from External Source
-and continue with a quote essentially summarising that a hoax using poured molten metal was unlikely (pg. 12 para. 4).
Again, there is no citation for the quote. Who are "The investigators"? It seems unlikely that this refers to Nolan, Vallee et al.; their own views wouldn't require quotation marks in this paper.

A hoax perpetrated in this manner, though physically possible, might be very unlikely- considerable resources and effort would be needed for a very modest result (6-by-4 feet/ 1.83 x 1.22 metres of molten waste in a park, witnessed by a handful of people).

8e. A hoax using thermite

Thermite is a term used for various mixtures mainly composed of powdered elemental metal and powdered metal oxide. A simple example would be an aluminium: iron oxide mixture. When ignited, thermite undergoes an exothermic reduction-oxidation (redox) reaction, liberating intense heat (and light) in a compact area for a brief time. Modest amounts of thermite in a ceramic mould can be used to cut or weld steel rail tracks; even low-grade (or "improvised") thermite is capable of bringing smaller metal items to melting point very rapidly.

wiki thermite rail welding.JPG

-Illustration from Wikipedia, Thermite (accessed 10/12/23), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thermite
Note the footnote; the reaction occurs (initially very vigorously), the metal is melted and then flows down. This may have relevance- the accounts of Drake/ James and Jack Moore, who arrived later, differ in a way that seems consistent with the observation of a thermite redox reaction (Drake, James) and its results (Jack Moore); see below.

The thermites are characterized by almost complete absence of gas production during burning, high reaction temperature, and production of molten slag.
Content from External Source
Wikipedia, ibid., my italics.

On page 11, para. 6 the authors quote Professor Frank Kayser of the University of Iowa, talking about his sample of the Council Bluffs material (Kayser conducted the 2nd early study):
One could prepare a rather similar sample in the following way: One would collect the splatters from a casting or welding operation involving carbon steel. One would transport this to the position where the material was found. One would then surround the metal with thermite powder and ignite the latter. This would heat the metal to the 900-1000-degree C range, and the thermite reaction would generate the iron-aluminum oxide sponge. A cooling rate appropriate to ‘wrought iron’ microstructure could be achieved by spraying water on the mixture
Content from External Source
The authors are wary of this explanation:
The problem with that hypothesis was that the material was in a molten state when witnesses arrived
Content from External Source
(Pg. 12 para. 7).
This isn't really an issue; material heated to a sufficiently high temperature can remain in a partly melted state after the redox reaction has ceased, it takes time to cool.
The material would remain warm for another two hours, despite the freezing air and ground temperature.
Content from External Source
Page 9, para. 1. -This might be expected; it had been a mass of at least 30 pounds (13.64 kg) of molten or semi-molten metal.

Kenny Drake's/ Randy James' accounts, first seeing a bright flash and (relatively modest) flames, then finding
...a glowing orange blob with a bluish crystalline substance in its center... ...it “looked like a great big sparkler”
Content from External Source
(The Historical Society of Pottawattamie County article "Close Encounter" at Big Lake Park", ibid.) might be a description of a dazzling thermite reaction.
Assistant Fire Chief Jack Moore didn't report seeing this pyrotechnic-like display when he arrived at Gilbert's Pond later, although the material was still incandescent and spreading- what would be expected if a redox reaction were finished, leaving the melted material to cool and settle into a final solid shape.

The authors note that the air temperature was 32°F (0° Celsius) and the ground frozen to a depth of 4 inches (10 cm); mindful of Kayser's hypothesis, they quote (pg. 11 para. 7),

Thus, “had someone tried to cool the material in an intermediate state, there would have been considerable ice in the immediate vicinity caused by the water used to cool the material.”
Content from External Source
(The quote lacks attribution or citation).
This isn't a credible objection;
(1) water poured onto incandescent metal tends to evaporate as steam;
(2) water in the immediate vicinity of something hot might not freeze;
(3) from the description of the material,
"running, boiling down the edges of the levee..."
Content from External Source
(pg.9 1st line, uncited but probably Jack Moore) [pg. 7 para. 5 states "running, boiling down to the edges of the levee] it seems the material was deposited on sloping ground. Any water, less viscous than (and heated by) the material might flow away;
(4) the results of Nolan, Vallee et al.'s own case study show that the material (or at least CB_JV-1) was not chiefly a carbon steel as Kayser concluded, but (probably) had greater quantities of aluminium and silicon than iron (see Figure 9 pg. 15); almost certainly it was an inhomogeneous mix (not an alloy).
It is unreasonable to expect such materials to behave in the same way, or require the same interventions (e.g. water cooling) as carbon steel in order to reach its end appearance. Kayser thought the microstructure of his sample resembled wrought iron and believed his specimen was mainly carbon steel; Nolan, Vallee et al.'s specimens are not primarily carbon steel and the authors don't investigate microstructure.

Finally, a check made with both chemical and construction firms in the Council Bluffs-Omaha area disclosed no source of thermite.
Content from External Source
Page 11, para. 8.
Again, this isn't a credible objection.
(1) Crude but effective thermites can be made relatively easily. (I don't advocate anyone trying, and in many jurisdictions it might be illegal to do so).
Thermite is readily made from powdered iron oxide III and aluminum powder...
Content from External Source
(Nolan, Vallee et al., pg. 11 last para.) "Sparkler" fireworks or a pyrotechnic flare can be a source of ignition.

(2) There would have been many things in Omaha and Council Bluffs, 1977, that were not from the area: coffee; radios from Japan; cars from Detroit; gasoline, tinned tuna, bananas.

Thermite may be used for repair by the welding in-place of thick steel sections such as locomotive axle-frames where the repair can take place without removing the part from its installed location. Thermite can be used for quickly cutting or welding steel such as rail tracks, without requiring complex or heavy equipment.
Content from External Source
Wikipedia, Thermite, ibid.
There are extensive railroads and rail marshalling yards in Council Bluffs, and very close to Gilbert's Pond:

rwys.JPG

I don't know if the relevant rail companies used thermite in the Council Bluffs area at that time, but it is perfectly possible. If commercial thermite were involved at Gilbert's Pond, it might have been sourced from surprisingly close to the site of the find.

As well as the rail yards to the immediate south, railroads pass north-to-south each side of Gilbert's Pond, the west side track is only a few tens of metres/ yards away. Conjecture: maybe a rail repair team craftily burned off surplus thermite rather than clerk it back in at the end of their work on that Saturday evening.
Or maybe a container of thermite ruptured or was spilled on the west railroad embankment, the contents abandoned but "scavenged" later; this might explain the silicon content (sand/ soil picked up with the thermite) and the location of the Council Bluffs material- possibly within forty metres (approx. 130 feet) of the embankment.

The author's final objection to the thermite hoax hypothesis:
While it is not impossible to rule this out, this does not explain how thirty pounds of iron (with other elements such as titanium) was reacted in midair and dropped visibly in sight of multiple witnesses and how no visible melting of nearby earth was evident...
Content from External Source
pg. 11, last para. (The authors didn't include titanium in Figure 9, pg. 15, "Relative ratios of the elements for each of the subsamples" for stated reasons).
This is an argument of questionable value. The authors seem unable to address the possibility that the claim of the material falling from the sky might itself be part of the hoax. It is a bit like saying, "If George Adamski was a hoaxer, how do you explain the meetings with the Venusian Orthon, and the scoutships, seen by multiple witnesses?"

The claimed falling material was described as bright red. While the composition of thermite affects the light emitted during its use, the initial, most energetic stage of thermite use is often characterised by an intense white-blue light (which can be injurious to the eyes, Helmenstine 2019; link below) and vigorous production of bright sparks.
This coincides with the description given by Drake/ James when they reportedly first encountered the material at Gilbert's Pond- but not with their report of the falling red object. If we take their accounts as accurate (which the authors appear inclined to do), it must be unlikely that the falling material represented metals "reacted in midair".

Only two, possibly three identified witnesses, young people from the same family, claimed to see anything fall; they were the first people known to be in the vicinity of the material.
The Council Bluffs material was molten. It is unlikely that there was no melting of earth or sand under it. The author's own results (Figure 9, page 15) show substantial presence of silicon, possibly incorporated from the ground. Liedenfrost effects would not persist long enough to prevent some ground melt.
No evidence from those who cleared up the bulk of the material (parks staff? City refuse disposal?) is presented to support the claim that it wasn't fused with soil/ sand underneath.

8f. More about thermite

If a Council Bluffs resident had access to thermite, or made a thermite analogue, would it be difficult to transport it and any other material used to Gilbert's Pond?
Page 7 para. 5 states that estimates of the material's weight ranged from 35-55 pounds (15.9-25.0 kg); Page 10 para. 5 says the weight was estimated at 35-40 pounds (15.9-18.18 Kg). The final paragraph, pg. 11, says
...thirty pounds [13.64 Kg] of iron (with other elements such as titanium)...
Content from External Source
A reasonably fit young person should be able to carry 25 kg (55 lbs) on foot for a substantial distance at walking pace.

25 Kg (55 lb) of iron or steel makes a cube approximately 15 cm (5.91 inches) per side, a volume of 3.375 litres/ approx. 210 cubic inches.
The Council Bluffs material almost certainly had lower density and therefore larger volume, unless it resembled Coan's analysis and[ITAL] was originally a solid.

weights.png
(Definitions of steel, wrought and cast iron vary a little as mentioned earlier).
Sources:
https://www.custompartnet.com/quick-tool/weight-calculator
https://www.gigacalculator.com/calculators/metal-weight-calculator.php
https://www.omnicalculator.com/construction/metal-weight

Nolan, Vallee et al.'s findings for CB_JV-1 (subsamples 1, 3, and 5) indicate, in total, broadly similar amounts of Fe, Al and Si, plus some Mg; the latter 3 all less dense than Fe, see Charts as per Figure 9, above.
A metal in the form of fine scrap/ swarf/ metallic ribbon/ filings/ powder (e.g. in thermite) takes up a larger volume than a solid of the same weight (Kayser hypothesized that the Council Bluffs material might originally have been composed of small components including thermite powder, pg. 11 para. 6).
If the Council Bluffs material had just one tenth the density of solid iron or steel, it would take up a volume of approx. 33.75 l (2100 cubic inches).

This is within the capacity of a medium-sized backpack: as an example, the ALICE LC-2 Medium Field Pack, in use with US forces in 1977, has a capacity of 2300 cu in. (37.69 l) and
Will hold upwards of 50 lbs [> 22.68 kg] of gear and food
Content from External Source
https://www.thunderheadoutdoorresearch.org/wiki/ALICE_LC-2_Medium_Field_Pack
(A robust large backpack, e.g. 80 litres capacity, could contain twice this volume and weight- a heavy load though!)

25 kg / 55 pounds of material with the composition indicated by Nolan, Vallee et al.'s findings could be carried by one person, on foot, using a medium backpack or something similar. It would easily fit into the trunk of pretty much any car.

What elements might be detected if the results of a thermite reaction underwent spectroscopy?

This depends on the type of thermite mixture used, and the materials it had been applied to or which were in very close proximity.
Nolan, Vallee et al. give the example of an iron oxide III/ aluminium blend
(last para. pg. 11).

ThoughtCo.Com states
Although black or blue iron oxide is most often used as an oxidizing agent in the thermite reaction, red iron (III) oxide, manganese oxide, chromium oxide, or copper (II) oxide may be used. Aluminum is almost always the metal that is oxidized... ...If you can't find aluminum powder...you can blend aluminum foil in a blender or spice mill. Iron oxide as either rust or magnetite will work."
Content from External Source
From ThoughtCo.Com, "What Is a Thermite Reaction in Chemistry?", Anne Marie Helmenstine, updated December 08, 2019
https://www.thoughtco.com/thermite-reaction-instructions-and-chemistry-604261
-Helmenstine demonstrates that the thermite described by Nolan, Vallee et al. is relatively easy to produce, and the materials readily available. She suggests (for experimental purposes) using magnesium ribbon as a fuse.

Magnesium can also be used as the elemental metal in thermite,
Fuels include aluminium, magnesium...
Content from External Source
Wikipedia, Thermite (ibid; also lists silicon).
Manganese oxides can be used to make thermite in conjunction with aluminium, and were studied in "Analysis of Thermochemical Properties of three typical Manganese based thermite", Rui Zhu, Tao Guo et al., IOP Conference Series: Earth and Environmental Science Volume 446, 2020
https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1755-1315/446/2/022024/meta (manganese was mentioned above as an element that featured in Nolan, Vallee et al.'s spectroscopy returns but which they didn't include in their charts of elements found in CB_JV-1 as per Figure 9, pg. 15).

If Nolan, Vallee, Jiang and Lemke had performed spectroscopy on a sample of a post-reaction thermite/ improvised thermite blend in 2022, they wouldn't have found oxygen. Oxygen is obviously essential in a redox reaction, but with a standard atomic weight of 15.999 it is too light to be detected by the MIBI-SIMS instrument used by the authors for their investigation.

They might have found approximately similar quantities (moles, not mass) of aluminium and iron. Alternatively, magnesium (or perhaps silicon) might be found in lieu of aluminium as the (pre-reaction) unoxidised elemental metal, or manganese in the role of (pre-reaction) oxide instead of iron. There are many potential ways to make thermite, including blends of different oxides and elementals.

Looking at the author's Figure 9 again:

fig9 poss thermite.jpg


giphy.gif

The elements found by Nolan, Vallee et al. as shown in Figure 9, page 15, are all consistent with thermite components.


Subsamples 2 and 4 were excluded from Figure 8A by the authors due to low ion counts which the authors theorized might be due to oxidation of those samples.
If the composition of the CB+JV-1 subsamples reflect, at least in part, a thermite origin, subsamples 2 and 4 show the largest ratio of (pre-reaction) elemental fuels (Al, Mg, Si) to (pre-reaction) oxide metals (Fe; possibly Mn).
During thermitic reactions, the elemental fuels (e.g. Al, Mg and Si) form oxides.
Subsamples 2 and 4 might therefore have had the highest proportional content of oxygen post-reaction, locked into oxides with Al, Mg and possibly Si.
I wonder if this might have had a role in the suboptimal returns that the authors report for 2 and 4; but perhaps someone who understands this area could advise.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


9. Significant issues with "Improved instrumental techniques, including isotopic analysis, applicable to the characterization of unusual materials with potential relevance to aerospace forensics.", 2022; Nolan, Vallee, Jiang and Lemke.

9a. Title versus content:

The authors do not define "improved". Their own case study equipment has a narrower detection range than that used in 1977/ 1978, and would be incapable of detecting elements of essential interest in contemporary aerospace forensics. The results for two out of five subsamples investigated with MIBI-SIMS are possibly compromised; a 40% failure rate for, arguably, physically non-problematic solid samples.

No connection is made between the investigative techniques reviewed and aerospace science. The information provided by the authors is just as applicable to uses in archaeology as it is to aerospace forensics. And that information is modest; it is unlikely anyone presently involved in aerospace forensics would benefit from the summary of instrumental techniques.

In the only example given of an aerospace artefact which might have been subject to forensic materials analysis (Cosmos 954) the authors do not discuss or give any indication that they have attempted to find out what investigative techniques were used, or to what effect.
The authors do not demonstrate that the subject of their case study is connected with aerospace technology.

The authors do not define "unusual materials", their case study focuses on what appears to be a piece of slag. No unusual material properties are documented. The most abundant elements in this material (as per Figure 9 pg. 15) are Al, Si, Fe, Mg; the 3rd, 2nd, 4th and 7th most common elements in Earth's crust.
It seems likely that oxygen (most common element in Earth's crust) is present in the samples as a component of oxides pre-spectroscopy; the authors' spectroscope set-up is incapable of detecting it. Isotope ratios of elements from the samples indicate terrestrial norms.

9b. The citing of the Southall, H.L. and Oberly, C.E. paper "System Considerations for Airborne, High-power Superconducting Generators" (1979) in the context used.
This is grossly misleading; the Southall and Oberly paper has no reference whatsoever to liquid metal technology.
There is no discussion of "...superconducting airborne platforms" in the Southall and Oberly paper.
Southall and Oberly's paper is about superconducting generators for use in aircraft. The generators discussed use power from an aircraft engine to generate electricity.
To claim, or imply, that Southall and Oberly's 1979 paper said anything about liquid metal, or novel airborne platforms, or novel / future propulsion methods for airborne platforms, is as misleading and incorrect now as it was when Vallee first cited the paper in his own "Physical analyses in ten cases...", 1998.

9c. The authors claim that aluminium was not found in their study (page 18 first two sentences). This is an extraordinary error;
aluminium would appear to be the most abundant element found in their study (Figure 9, page 15).

9d. The use of an approximately 350 word piece of text, almost word-for-word, from co-author Jacques Vallee's 1998 paper "Physical Analyses in Ten Cases of Unexplained Aerial Objects with Material Samples".
As a result, outdated biographical information for a cited researcher (Bumby) is used. An unidentified source, J. Roser, is quoted but not cited.
Roser's comments, implied by the authors as being about the Council Bluffs material, are word-identical to his comments about a specimen from Bogota, quoted by Vallee in his 1998 paper.
Although Nolan, Vallee et al. (2022) cite Vallee's 1998 paper, they do not do so for this approx. 350 word section, nor do they indicate that it isn't original text in the 2022 paper.

OVERLAP - re-use of texts, data, or other elements of the article contained in an article published by the same author or group of authors
Content from External Source
Toma, C., Padureanu, L., "An Exploratory Analysis of 4844 Withdrawn Articles and Their Retraction Notes", 2021, Open Journal of Social Sciences 09 (11); my emphasis. Link to paper at ResearchGate,
https://www.researchgate.net/public...Withdrawn_Articles_and_Their_Retraction_Notes

9e. Failure by the authors to consider their own case study findings in relation to the hypothesis of a hoax using thermite.
In contrast, because their sample was found in a molten state the authors discuss applications of molten metals in "high-tech" and speculative technologies even though the results of the author's study of CB_JV-1 effectively rules out any plausible role for that material in MHD generators or Roser's highly speculative nuclear reactor.
_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

10. Less significant issues

10a. Having stated that MIBI-SIMS "...cannot compare the molar ratios between different elements in an experimental sample... ...Therefore, the MIBI instrument used in this report is not quantitative between elements" (pg. 6 para. 2) the authors present a table, based on MIBI-SIMS results, showing "Relative ratios of the elements for each of the subsamples" (Fig. 9 pg. 15).

10b. The authors' map. Nothing marked by the authors is in the correct location.

10c. Figure 1 is based on a table from an EAG Laboratories' webpage; a link is given but there is no formal citation/ mention in references.
Unlike the EAG original, the authors do not give the meanings of abbreviations used.

10d. A discussion of experimental findings and speculative technologies dependent on isotopic differences, some of which have no direct relevance to the paper.
In the context given, the mention of the AAWSAP Program Documents and Maxim Tsoi's Metallic Spintronics (2010) is perhaps misleading.

10e. Using Wikipedia as a primary reference is (normally) considered unacceptable in academic papers. The authors do not use the same format for documenting their Wikipedia references. The first reference the authors give is for a Wikipedia article, but it is undated, meaning the content being referred to is uncertain.
"47. Pentagon UFO videos, in Wikipedia. 2021" is not an appropriate way of providing a reference (reference 49, for a Scientific American article, omits date and issue number).
[This review is not an academic paper!]

10f. Mixed use of metric and American customary units without their corresponding equivalents.
Something undergraduates are told to avoid. In an example of aerospace software forensics, it was found that the Mars Climate Orbiter was catastrophically lost because Lockheed Martin used software returning measurement values in American customary units, NASA processed those values as metric units:
"Mars Climate Orbiter Team Finds Likely Cause of Loss", Jet Propulsion Laboratory, NASA, September 30 1999
https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/mars-climate-orbiter-team-finds-likely-cause-of-loss
Wikipedia article Mars Climate Orbiter, accessed 16/12/23
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mars_Climate_Orbiter

10g. Several quotes used without attribution, sometimes where the person being quoted isn't identifiable by context.

10h. The authors claim there were eleven witnesses. This includes four only known from Kenny Drake's account, and an anonymous phone call claiming to be from a couple. Carol Drake's testimony is conspicuously absent.

10i. Assistant Chief Moore gets to drive a fire chief car and a police cruiser on the same evening (unless there was an Assistant Chief Moore in both the Council Bluffs fire and police departments) on his way to investigate a mysterious case. He is very much living the dream of my 8-year-old self.

realistic reenactment council bluffs 1977.jpg

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

11. Attached documents

(Left to Right) Nolan, Vallee, Jiang, Lemke, 2022, "Improved instrumental techniques..."; AATIP papers list 2018; Maxim Tsoi, 2010, "Metallic Spintronics"; Jacques Vallee, 1998, "Physical Analyses in Ten Cases..."; Comparison of Texts 1998, 2022 (word document); Southall, Oberly, 1979, "System Considerations for Airborne, High-power Superconducting Generators"
 

Attachments

  • system considerations for airborne high-power superconducting generators 1979.pdf
    488.8 KB · Views: 33
  • Comparison of Texts.docx
    8.4 KB · Views: 30
  • Vallee orig. 1998.pdf
    265.1 KB · Views: 35
  • Metallic Spintronics Maxim Tsoi.pdf
    1.5 MB · Views: 40
  • AATIP list.pdf
    2.3 MB · Views: 25
  • Nolan Vallee Jiang Lemke 2022.pdf
    911.7 KB · Views: 30
Last edited:
Drake and James drove to a local store and called 911. The call was given to Jack Moore, Assistant fire chief for the Council Bluffs fire department
911 didn't exist at the time in Iowa.

https://www.legis.iowa.gov/docs/publications/DF/661596.pdf
The Iowa 911 system got its start in 1986 when
the Iowa General Assembly passed a law that
created a 29-member State Emergency Tele-
phone Number Commission that was direct-
ed to study the issue of statewide implementa-
tion of 911 services. The Commission issued
its report in January 1987 and the legislative
language contained in the report was intro-
duced as House File 2400. House File 2400
was passed by the General Assembly and was
signed into law by Governor Branstad on May
6, 1988.

Is this a quibble? Or is this another example of the story becoming garbled. Someone unconsciously assumed something happened that is now common but couldn't have happened at the time. How much more sloppy assuming has gone on?
 
https://www.savannahnow.com/story/lifestyle/2011/02/09/offutt-mass-molten-metal-leaves/45409349007/
Samples of the metal were taken to nearby Griffin Pipe Products Company and to the Ames Laboratory at Iowa State University. The metal turned out to be disappointingly ordinary.

“I recall the examination,” Francis Laabs of the Ames Laboratory, said. Laabs did the initial testing and was less than enthused by the results. “We found the debris we received to examine to be consistent with smelter slag, very similar to that from a few operations in eastern Nebraska where they were using auto scrap to make manhole covers, etc.”

But, a question remained. Although a railroad ran alongside the park, and two smelters operated in nearby Omaha, how could someone dump that much molten metal onto the levee a football field away from the tracks?

“To take that much molten iron, you’d have to have it at 2,000 degrees, and it was a heavily-traveled road,” Moore said. “There was about 1,000 pounds of molten iron laying on the ground. And that doesn’t explain how four or five people saw it fall out of the sky.”

Greg Hoskins of Omaha is a long-time UFO enthusiast and visited the site shortly after the incident. He picked up small pieces of metal still on the ground and took them to a laboratory, but their findings were the same – the metal was slag.

But not on that day.

According to Griffin Pipe Products in Valle’s 1998 article, “Physical Analyses in 10 Cases of Unexplained Aerial Objects with Material Samples,” from the Journal of Scientific Exploration, the metal would not only have to be kept at 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit to remain in the state as the fire department found it, but the foundry didn’t pour on Saturday.
Some assuming going on here. Hot slag and molten steel aren't the same thing at all. Transporting slag by rail is a thing. The cars are lined with firebrick as insulation. That's a lot of heat in an insulated container. It could stay hot for a long time.

Let's start some tentative thinking. Transporting hot slag by rail is a thing. Here's what it looks like when it's dumped on purpose. The cone shaped objects that reluctantly fall out are the firebrick lining.

Here's an accidental spill of molten steel from a torpedo car.


-Steel and slag are two different things.
-Could hot slag from a "pour" have been removed some significant time after a "pour" at a smelter? After all, it's the waste material, not the steel.
-Would the slag have had to come from the one of the two smelters in Omaha?
-Could the "fireball" described by the witnesses have actually been an accidental spill of slag? A partial spill of course. It would have been noticable at night. The red lights were actually glowing bits of slag, maybe?
-In that case, was it really falling from the sky, or is this a case of "compounding errors"? In other words, the witnesses assumed it was somewhat above ground level. But what we're missing is a report of how high it was in degrees. People could subsequently misinterpret their imprecise language and imagine the fireball was high in the sky. Witnesses years later may then "remember" it being high in the sky.*
-Could the material run downhill " a football field" from nearby tracks? Is it really 100 yards? Let's look at the topography.
-How far can hot slag be transported? Where was it coming from? Where was it going to?


*Compounding errors
Handbook 3.jpg
 
Last edited:
From the 1998 Vallee report:

The object hit the ground in the vicinity of ª Gilbert’s Pondº in Big Lake Park, across the Missouri from Eppley airport. The exact street address is 1900 N. Eighth street. It fell at a point 16 feet from the paved road and 6 feet from the top of the levee, burning an area 4feet wide by 9 feet long. There was a secondary burn area 27 feet away on theside of the dike, measuring about 2 by 4 feet.
If this address is correct the location was here:
https://www.google.com/maps/@41.2787918,-95.8601621,3a,75y,263.85h,73.87t/data=!3m7!1e1!3m5!1s9tfqzqXzP8h1Y58VprMpsA!2e0!6shttps://streetviewpixels-pa.googleapis.com/v1/thumbnail?panoid=9tfqzqXzP8h1Y58VprMpsA&cb_client=maps_sv.tactile.gps&w=203&h=100&yaw=1.6619711&pitch=0&thumbfov=100!7i16384!8i8192?entry=ttu

1900.png

I don't know what to think about this. More garbled information? Or is this the true site? Right next to the tracks.

But if the "levee" is actually the railroad embankment, this matches the site very well. Six feet down the railroad embankment is consistent with a spill from a railway car.
It fell at a point 16 feet from the paved road and 6 feet from the top of the levee...
1900 north.png
 
Last edited:
Also from the 1998 Vallee report:

The initial witnesses were Kenny Drake and his wife Carol, and Kenny’s 12- year old nephew Randy James. Two other witnesses, Mike Moore and his wife Criss, reported seeing a hovering red object with lights as they crossed 16th street on their way downtown along Broadway avenue. Criss reported "a big round thing hovering in the sky below the tree tops. It was hovering. It wasn’t moving."

She added that she saw red lights around the perimeter of the object, blinking in sequence.

Below the tree tops? That's pretty low in the sky.
 
When I saw the OP's title, Is "Improved Instrumental Techniques...", Nolan, Vallee, Jiang, Lemke 2022 a useful paper?, I must admit I took in the author names and thought to myself, "probably not". @John J. 's excellent work bears that out.

For a study of "Improved instrumental techniques, including isotopic analysis, applicable to the characterization of unusual materials with potential relevance to aerospace forensics" to be useful, I would expect it to
• develop (or cite) a set of criteria desirable to achieve when characterizing "unusual materials"
• producing an overview of possible techniques, both traditional and "improved"
• benchmark these techniques against the criteria set out previously, via experimentation or literature work
• provide a real-world application of the techniques

The Gilbert's Pond material is well chosen (or would be, if it had provenance) with respect to the fourth point, as there are older analyses, such that a comparison of older and newer methods could be readily drawn. The paper also appears to contain a minimal overview of applicable techniques.

However, due to the lack of criteria, no benchmarks could be carried out, and no meaningful comparisons could be drawn. This means that the most interesting claim of the title of the paper, the word "improved", must remain unsupported. The paper thus fails to fulfill the central promise of its title.

If an ad tries to sell me some "improved" laundry detergent, the ad copy better make it clear what's improved about it, or I'm not buying it. The same applies to science: if a paper touts "improved techniques", I want to know what these techniques are improving, or it fails to do its job.

As it is, I highly suspect the true purpose may be twofold:
• get "metamaterial" research published in a reputable journal (I remember some UFO research made it into an optical journal because it described technical processes done to the film)
• provide legitimacy to the spectroscopic analysis techniques of the seafloor material retrieved by Avi Loeb

The paper fails at its stated purpose.
 
Regarding the Gilbert's Pond event:

* my first guess was a big barrel-type BBQ grill, which could easily provide 25 kg of metal, and has wheels, filled with liquid oxygen and set alight.

* the resulting blue-white flash flame would result in a red afterimage in the eye, creating the impression of a moving red object via saccadic eye movements


Some back-of-the-envelope arithmetic:

Steel has a density of ~8000 kg/m³. A uniform sheet of steel sized 1.80m × 1.20m ≈ 2m² that is only 1mm = 0.001m (0.04") thick has a volume of 0.002m³ and a weight of ~16 kg (35 pounds), as the study describes. I'm a bit incredulous about a molten blob of metal flowing out to such a thinness. If it was thicker, it'd have to be "spidery" instead of covering the area. (I would have hoped that the "identification" unit officer had brought a camera.)

@Z.W. Wolf quotes Moore as saying, "There was about 1,000 pounds of molten iron laying on the ground", which corresponds to 450 kg; that amount of metal would make that hypothetical sheet approximately 30mm or 1" thick, which given some unevenness would allow for big clumps of steel.
 
Last edited:
But if the "levee" is actually the railroad embankment, this matches the site very well. Six feet down the railroad embankment is consistent with a spill from a railway car.
If this was an obvious railway car spill onto the railway embankment, wouldn't some of the witnesses to the event or the subsequent cleanup have remarked on it?
 
One inconsistency that stands out to me is that if this is a (15cm)^3 quantity of matter spread out over about (1.5m)^2 area, it's on average 1.5mm thick. Being viscous, it will of course be thicker dendritic dribbles as it runs, but still, that's a lot of surface area for its volume (and thus rather strange to be called a "blob", a word normally reserved for more compact shapes). Given all that surface area across which to lose heat, would it really still be glowing 15 minutes later? (The heat equation solution is a decaying exponential, it would go from 1200C to 700C (molten iron to no longer glowing) in about the same time as it takes to go from 60C to 35C when in contact with a frozen heatsink (and the ground was supposedly frozen to a depth of 100mm).)
 
For a study of "Improved instrumental techniques, including isotopic analysis, applicable to the characterization of unusual materials with potential relevance to aerospace forensics" to be useful, I would expect it to
• develop (or cite) a set of criteria desirable to achieve when characterizing "unusual materials"
• producing an overview of possible techniques, both traditional and "improved"
• benchmark these techniques against the criteria set out previously, via experimentation or literature work
• provide a real-world application of the techniques

Indeed! If the point of the paper were any of those things, but I don't think it is.

From the thread about Elizondo's impending disclosure, there was this slide form Nolan's SOL conference:

1702951224286.png

https://www.metabunk.org/threads/luis-elizondos-claims-of-coming-ufo-disclosure.13238/#post-306192

@Tezcatlipoca explained it this way (post # 31):

"Shaping" specifically enters an area where its application becomes almost entirely malign, as in this context it relates to preparing an information environment for the introduction of information into it, or in other words, artificially attempting to adjust group behavior and attitudes to enable the rest of your efforts to work most efficiently. This is usually conducted in a way where agency is removed from the audience and/or information is misleadingly or deceptively presented to them.
Content from External Source
I think this paper is designed to create a background of "peer reviewed" literature about UFOs regardless of what it actually says or doesn't say.

The referencing of the Spintronics paper is an excellent example:

Spintronics has been previously investigated in US government analysis of unconventional craft in the Defense Intelligence Reference Documents produced under the Advanced Aerospace Weapon System Applications Program (AAWSAP) program (see item #24 Metallic Spintronics [20]). Finally, spinplasmonics combines spintronics and plasmonics where one uses electron spin (again, which can be driven by the isotope of a given nucleus and surrounding materials) to create novel materials that can be used as storage devices, light emitting devices, and electronic switches with low power consumption.
Content from External Source
Pg. 4

There are other references to the US government dabbling in or involved with research into Spintronics, but I'll have to find them. The point is these make it sound like the US government is/was actively engaged in research into Spintronics. We all know that in situations like this, the government is only doing some of the research while various private contractors do a large amount. But the notion is that there is a warehouse full of Lockheed or Northrup-Grumman guys in lab coats engineering a Spintronic something-or-other for the DoD.

The reality is one (1) guy, Lacatski, at the DIA handed out the contract for AASWAP to BAASS for, among other things, some papers on speculative technology. BAASS in turn sub-contracted to Hal Putoff's EarthTech Sciences for said papers. It's likely that EarthTech sub-sub-contracted to Tsoi for one (1) speculative paper on Spintronics. Hardley the US government getting into Spintronics.

But unless one digs into all of that, it's easy to say, "the US government is/was seriously researching Spintronics".

I would argue we have the same situation here. Unless one has the tenacity of @John J. to dig through this entire paper and find its faults, it just gets presented as a peer reviewed paper on possible UFO materials. They dance around the terms UFO/UAP, but we all know what they are insinuating. They have studied fragments of something that "crashed to earth" that they argue it's likely NOT a meteorite, from a plane, a hoax and they didn't think of rail-spilled slag. What's left in their view?

It appears that Vallee pulled out a copy of his 1998 paper Physical Analyses in Ten Cases of Unexplained Aerial Objects with Material Samples and picked through the 10 cases to find one to re-study. The original paper concerned 10 cases in which a supposed UFO/UAP was encountered or saw or it crashed or whatever AND a corresponding piece of material was recovered. That is, anecdotes that include bits of junk. Something Vallee admits is rare and that the materials are usually collected by "civilian researchers":

The combination of a reliable sighting of an unexplained aerial object with the recovery of a durable physical specimen is rare.

At a more modest level, in the course of their investigations of the phenomenon around the world, civilian researchers acting privately have patiently assembled the embryo of a sample collection, starting from physical specimens reportedly gathered at the site of a close encounter or "maneuver" type sighting.2
Content from External Source
As such, his list of 10 includes the following:

Case no. 1 : 1933 or 1934. Ubatuba, near Sao Paulo (Brazil) Ð Classi®cation:MA-2
Case no. 2: June 21, 1947. Maury Island (Washington) Ð Classification: MA-2
Case no. 3: 1952. Washington (DC) Ð Classification: MA-2
Case no. 4: December 14, 1954. Campinas (Brazil) - Classification: MA-2
Case no. 5: November 11, 1956. Väddö island, Sweden Ð Classification: CE-2
Case no. 6: July 13, 1967. Maumee (Ohio) Ð Classification: CE-2
Case no. 7: Early 1970s. Kiana (Alaska) Ð Classification: MA-2
Case no. 8: 1975 or 1976. Bogota (Columbia) Ð Classification: MA-2
Case no. 9: December 17, 1977. Council Bluffs (Iowa) Ð Classification: MA-2
Case no. 10: Circa 1978. Jopala, near Puebla (Mexico) Ð Classification: MA-2
Content from External Source
https://www.metabunk.org/attachments/vallee-orig-1998-pdf.64699/

There is not much to pick through here. Case #2 Maury Island is a known hoax, which Vallee admits is likely, but I guess he needed 10 so he threw it in.

In case #3 the supposed material that came from a damaged UFO in downtown Washington DC was loaned to a Canadian Deportment of Transportation guy, Wilber Smith for study by the USAF. He supposedly returned it to "a higher agency" than the DoD or CIA. Huh? (Link to Smith thread below). So, Vallee included this case even though the sample has never been seen, any analysis of it can't be verified and it's now long gone:

Unfortunately there is no report of an independent analysis in the literature, and the sample is not available for further study.
Content from External Source
And so on.

Most of the collected materials in these cases, like #1 Ubatuba, have little or no provenience, or well-known origin, and checkered provenance, or chain of custody. That hasn't stop lots of people, including Nolan, from repeatedly running tests on the supposed Ubatuba samples to discover they're magnesium. So, that seemed to leave #9 the Council Bluffs case, even though it also suffers from all the same problems as the rest as John J pointed out. In addition, the majority of the '98 paper is an analysis of the Counsil Bluffs case and I guess he still had piece of material supposedly related to the case, so Council Bluffs it is.

As is often the case in UFOLogy and other fringe stuff we have the "expert non-expert" here. Despite Nolan being a genius in genetics and immunology with multiple patents, as we're often reminded, one would think at least one co-author might have been a chemist or material science type person giving the type of testing they were doing.

It really seems as if Nolan ran tests on some slag associated with the Council Bluffs case giving him by Vallee. Given the hot mess of poor editing and coping & pasting that is Vallee's latest book, it appears he took the results of the tests and then rehashed his '98 paper. And now we have a peer reviewed paper about crashed UFO parts unusual materials with potential relevance to aerospace forensics.

I suspect what's actually in the paper is irrelevant.

Great work @John J.

Wilber Smith thread:
https://www.metabunk.org/threads/wilbert-b-smith-project-magnet-and-his-claims-of-ufo-debris.13011/
 
Splendid analysis, @John J. Excuse me if I missed a comment, but have you sent this information on to the editors of the journal in which it was printed? I would hate for this to go unchallenged.
 
I would argue we have the same situation here. Unless one has the tenacity of @John J. to dig through this entire paper and find its faults, it just gets presented as a peer reviewed paper on possible UFO materials.

I'm curious what would be an "impossible UFO material"? Surely anything that's not clearly an impossible UFO material would be a possible UFO material? Their predicate sounds almost like an unfalsifiable property.
 
I'm curious what would be an "impossible UFO material"? Surely anything that's not clearly an impossible UFO material would be a possible UFO material? Their predicate sounds almost like an unfalsifiable property.
Any material that's possibly from a UFO is possible UFO material.
Get some weird scrap metal, write a nice cover letter, and send it anonymously to Coast-to-Coast AM, voilá: possible UFO material.
Anything with clear provenance is "impossible" UFO material, unless there might be a government coverup involved.
 
I'm curious what would be an "impossible UFO material"? Surely anything that's not clearly an impossible UFO material would be a possible UFO material? Their predicate sounds almost like an unfalsifiable property.

I don't know about them, but I meant "possible UFO material" as in the material might be from a UFO. Nolan and Vallee aren't coming out and saying that, at least in this paper. I think they're being cagy because they trying to publish a peer reviewed article in something other than The Journal of Scientific Exploration, where previous analysis of UFO materials have appeared. They are testing stuff from UFOs without saying UFOs.

Nolan has said as much in non-journal articles:

You've also analyzed inanimate materials like alleged UAP fragments...
Content from External Source

You've probably heard of Jacques Vallée, Kit Green, Eric Davis and Colm Kelleher. All roads lead to them when it comes to UAP. I basically became friends with that whole group; they call it The Invisible College. When they found out some of the instruments that I had developed, using mass spectrometry, they asked if I could analyze UAP material, and tell them something about it. That led to the development of a roadmap of how to analyze these things.
Content from External Source
In fact the supposed fragments from the Ubatuba case would look like a better candidate for this paper at first glance. Multiple groups have performed tests on them, including the Condon Committee giving them in the eyes of many UFOlogist the stamp of legitimacy from the US Government. Nolan has tested the Ubatuba parts and says they're weird:

One of the materials from the so called Ubatuba event [a UAP event in Brazil], has extraordinarily altered isotope ratios of magnesium. It was interesting because another piece from the same event was analyzed in the same instrument at the same time. This is an extraordinarily sensitive instrument called a nanoSIMS - Secondary Ion Mass Spec. It had perfectly correct isotope ratios for what you would expect for magnesium found anywhere on Earth. Meanwhile, the other one was just way off. Like 30 percent off the ratios. The problem is there's no good reason humans have for altering the isotope ratios of a simple metal like magnesium. There's no different properties of the different isotopes, that anybody, at least in any of the literature that is public of the hundreds of thousands of papers published, that says this is why you would do that. Now you can do it. It's a little expensive to do, but you'd have no reason for doing it.
Content from External Source
https://www.vice.com/en/article/n7n...nalyzing-anomalous-materials-from-ufo-crashes

The problem though, is they can't fudge the origin story. These pieces were sent with a letter expressly saying they came from an exploding UFO, not a vague light in the sky that they are NOT calling a UFO in the Counsil Bluff case (wink, wink). So, the whole point of testing the Ubatuba material is because it's believed to come from a UFO. Not a good choice to slip in under the radar to a journal.
 
@John J. Excellent work! I second @Ann K in that I think the editors should be notified. The paper is an embarrassment filled with errors, it's not formatted properly, the sources are often irrelevant, not cited properly and chunks of it is lifted directly from an old paper and the analysis they do is lacklustre and hardly an improvement of the original study. That it got through peer review does not reflect well upon the journal at all, though I have to ask if the version you provided is the final one, since the formatting isn't the same one as the one you get when you download a pdf of one of the free articles from the same journal? I mean, the article is probably unsalvageable anyhow, but if it is a draft version there could still be some improvement in the official version. Not that it should've been accepted in the first place in that state.
 
One inconsistency that stands out to me is that if this is a (15cm)^3 quantity of matter spread out over about (1.5m)^2 area, it's on average 1.5mm thick. Being viscous, it will of course be thicker dendritic dribbles as it runs, but still, that's a lot of surface area for its volume (and thus rather strange to be called a "blob", a word normally reserved for more compact shapes). Given all that surface area across which to lose heat, would it really still be glowing 15 minutes later? (The heat equation solution is a decaying exponential, it would go from 1200C to 700C (molten iron to no longer glowing) in about the same time as it takes to go from 60C to 35C when in contact with a frozen heatsink (and the ground was supposedly frozen to a depth of 100mm).)

From the Nolan et al. paper:

Police and a fireman arrived within 15 minutes and saw the mass (with estimates ranging from 35 to 55 pounds) “running, boiling down to the edges of the levee,” in an area of about 4 feet by 6 feet. The central portion remained warm to the touch for approximately two hours. No cratering was noticed.

There's no citation to this. I guess we're just supposed to guess who is being quoted.

But contrast this to the info from this article:
https://www.savannahnow.com/story/lifestyle/2011/02/09/offutt-mass-molten-metal-leaves/45409349007/
“I recall the examination,” Francis Laabs of the Ames Laboratory, said. Laabs did the initial testing and was less than enthused by the results. “We found the debris we received to examine to be consistent with smelter slag, very similar to that from a few operations in eastern Nebraska where they were using auto scrap to make manhole covers, etc.”

But, a question remained. Although a railroad ran alongside the park, and two smelters operated in nearby Omaha, how could someone dump that much molten metal onto the levee half a football field away from the tracks?

“To take that much molten iron, you’d have to have it at 2,000 degrees, and it was a heavily-traveled road,” Moore said. “There was about 1,000 pounds of molten iron laying on the ground. And that doesn’t explain how four or five people saw it fall out of the sky.”

Greg Hoskins of Omaha is a long-time UFO enthusiast and visited the site shortly after the incident. He picked up small pieces of metal still on the ground and took them to a laboratory, but their findings were the same – the metal was slag.

This seems like a deliberate exageration. I also don't trust the half a football field away from the tracks bit, either. This seems to be a defense against a prosiac explanantion. (It's spilled slag.) As is this.

“When they left I kind of hung around and picked up a few pieces that were left,” Mike Moore said. “I still have boxes of it in my shed. I’ve got torches. All the torch did was heat it up. A grinder won’t cut it. You can’t even bend them.”
C'mon... this stuff is indestructible?

Mike Moore doesn’t care what scientists say the material is; he knows what he and others saw; and he’s certain it’s extraterrestrial.

“I think there’s stuff out there,” he said.
An I know what I saw fallacy?

I've written an email to the author of this 2011 article for some clarification and further info. The article seems to be based on 2011 interviews.
 
Last edited:
911 didn't exist at the time in Iowa.

https://www.legis.iowa.gov/docs/publications/DF/661596.pdf

Is this a quibble? Or is this another example of the story becoming garbled. Someone unconsciously assumed something happened that is now common but couldn't have happened at the time.

I think that's an excellent observation. It would never have occurred to me to check this.

From the 1998 Vallee report:
"The object hit the ground in the vicinity of ª Gilbert’s Pondº in Big Lake Park, across the Missouri from Eppley airport. The exact street address is 1900 N. Eighth street. It fell at a point 16 feet from the paved road and 6 feet from the top of the levee, burning an area 4feet wide by 9 feet long. There was a secondary burn area 27 feet away on theside of the dike, measuring about 2 by 4 feet."

I think the Drake/ James account and later reporting put the find very close to Gilbert's Pond in Big Lake Park, which is pretty much directly across the Missouri from Eppley Airfield.
Vallee (1998) provides a map, which doesn't correlate with the 1900 N. Eighth street address he gives. What's now called Big Lake is marked as Iowa Lake, I don't know if that's a change since 1977 or author error.
(None of the locations marked on the 2022 Nolan, Vallee et. al map, pg. 9, are correct; see OP).
Vallee's 1998 map (cropped) below; the arrow indicates the approximate site of the find (in effect, Gilbert's Pond).

vallee map.JPG

It has to be said, Vallee- and Nolan, Vallee, Jiang and Lemke collectively- are really, really, really bad at establishing locations and map-marking.

The Historical Society of Pottawattamie County article "Close Encounter" at Big Lake Park" (Richard Warner, undated) says
...three young people...noticed a reddish object about 500-600 feet in the air falling straight down. It disappeared behind the trees of Big Lake Park... ...The three drove to the park and got out to investigate
Content from External Source
3rd paragraph,
https://www.thehistoricalsociety.org/h/ufo.html

(The Historical Society article differs in several ways compared to the 2022 Nolan, Vallee, Jiang, Lemke narrative).

...they saw a glowing ball falling toward Big Lake Park. "It hit the ground in the vicinity of Gilberts Pond in Big Lake Park, across the Missouri River from Eppley Airfield. The exact street address is 1900 N. Eighth St.," says Jacques F. Vallee...
Content from External Source
"When UFOs Land" pg. 67, Jim Wilson, Popular Mechanics May 2001 pages 64-67; text found via Google Books website (accessed 20/11/23),
https://books.google.co.uk/books?id...ce=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false
The Popular Mechanics account is also different to that of Nolan, Vallee et al. 2022 and The Historical Society of Pottawattamie County's article. Popular Mechanics seems to merge the Drake/James claims with the Mike/ Criss Moore claims.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

One inconsistency that stands out to me is that if this is a (15cm)^3 quantity of matter spread out over about (1.5m)^2 area, it's on average 1.5mm thick.
-And as FatPhil points out, such thinly-spread material would cool pretty rapidly. The pieces of material in Nolan, Vallee et al.'s 'photo look chunkier than a (roughly even) distribution of 15 cm^3 over 2.23 m^2 would allow. -The pieces look quite aerated (is that the right term?) with signs of "bubbling", which might (if the material contains small voids/ bubbles, like an Aero chocolate bar) cause an increase in volume as the material reacted, melted and boiled.

My suspicion is that the Council Bluffs material, pre-ignition, was a mixture of metal waste, largely steel and aluminium, in the form of e.g. swarf/ shavings/filings and metal dust/powder, and perhaps small solid items, with a substantially lower total density than e.g. a solid block of steel of the same weight. The rough-and-ready calculations in the OP show (I hope!) that even if the material had only 10% the density of solid iron/ steel, it would still be a perfectly manageable weight (maximum estimate 25 kg, 55 lbs) and volume (approx. 33.75 l, 2100 cubic inches) for one person to carry in a medium backpack or a large sports bag.
Informed by the inhomogeneity found between their subsamples, Nolan, Vallee et al. (2022) say
...whatever the sample’s origins, it was incompletely mixed at the time of deposition.
Content from External Source
(Pg. 18, para. 2; PDF attached to OP).
Maybe more likely from a stirred tub of metal bits than from a solid alloy (or a pre-cast solid block of inhomogeneous metal components).

I think it's very likely that part of the total pre-ignition mass comprised thermite, either commercial or improvised; mainly a mix of iron oxide (and maybe manganese oxide) with non-oxidised aluminium/ magnesium, possibly silicon. Presumably laid down first, or added on top/ around the other material.

If some bits of electrical/ electronic waste were in the non-thermite material- maybe just chucked in a waste metal bin at whatever hypothetical school, workshop or factory the material came from, or- -conjecturally- added in an attempt to make the material seem more exotic to a potential investigator, it might explain some of Kayser's findings and Nolan, Vallee et al.s' possible germanium: Tantalum from capacitors, germanium from transistors, tungsten from lightbulbs. Many pyrotechnics (including sparklers), which might be possible means of ignition for thermite, contain titanium.

That said, I might be persuaded by @Z.W. Wolf's spilt slag hypothesis, but in light of the reported sightings I still suspect a deliberate hoax. If a spill of slag happened from the rail line nearest the Drakes and James on North 16 Street, into Big Lake Park, it would be on the far side of the train to the claimed witnesses. And I'm guessing that if there was an undesirable spill near a railroad, the Council Bluffs authorities would check train movements.

___________________________________________________________________________________________

I think this paper is designed to create a background of "peer reviewed" literature about UFOs regardless of what it actually says or doesn't say.
I suspect what's actually in the paper is irrelevant.
That's an interesting thesis. I think I agree- the title of the paper seems designed to crowbar its way into a "conventional" aerospace journal.
I toyed with the idea for a while that maybe one or more of the 2022 authors had a hidden agenda, i.e. to demonstrate that a flawed paper about UFOs could get published in a peer-reviewed technical journal- a bit like the Sokal affair.
(Alan Sokal, a physicist, submitted a hoax article to Social Text, to test what he saw as poor academic review standards in the humanities/ social sciences. It was published. Wikipedia article https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sokal_affair).
Depressingly, @NorCal Dave's observations make a lot of sense; Nolan, Vallee, Jiang and Lemke (or at least N. and V.) want to frame the narrative and get UFO subjects into mainstream journals, apparently without too much concern for scientific rigor or objective plausibility.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________

...have you sent this information on to the editors of the journal in which it was printed? I would hate for this to go unchallenged.
I've thought about it, but undecided at the mo. Maybe in the new year.
(Of course, I'm totally happy with anyone here using any material from the OP).
 
As it happens, the authors find significant amounts of silicon in their samples (Figs. 8A and 9, pg. 15). .
Which is consistent with slag. Limestone is added as a flux.

As a matter of fact Nolan seems to be dancing around the subject... implying by cherry picking that the material is carbon steel.

My guess is that the material was derived from carbon steel. In other words it's smelter slag from scrapped cars being melted down, as Francis Laabs speculated in the 2011 article.

“I recall the examination,” Francis Laabs of the Ames Laboratory, said. Laabs did the initial testing and was less than enthused by the results. “We found the debris we received to examine to be consistent with smelter slag, very similar to that from a few operations in eastern Nebraska where they were using auto scrap to make manhole covers, etc.”

If this is the case, the aluminum in the slag is not from thermite. It's an impurity in the scrap due to cars having a lot of aluminum parts.

Nolan very carefully says the metal contains this and that. I suspect that there were bits of metal in the material. You couldn't expect slag would be homogenous. The metal bits were assessed separately and contained this and that. But the material as a whole is slag.
 
Last edited:
I don't agree that anything in the primary sources says that the material was found inside the park. The first local newspaper story says, "... the Big Lake Park area." - a landmark that locals would recognize. It also identifies the site as "... on a levee off Big Lake."

"Off" in this sense is an Americanism meaning "near but not next to." To me, as an American of 67 years and change, this rather out of date usage implies "some distance from, but not too far." It's akin to "off in the distance." If the reporter meant a levee containing Big Lake he would have said, "A levee on Big Lake." Or maybe, "A levee of Big Lake."

The article doesn't mention Gilbert's Pond.

I think the inside the park bit comes from assumptions second parties have made over the years, and it has become canon.

Vallee gives a specific address and I think that's our best info.

In support of this, is this bit from the the 2011 article:

To take that much molten iron, you’d have to have it at 2,000 degrees, and it was a heavily-traveled road,” Moore said.
Does this best describe a road inside the park or North 8th Street?

There happens to be a 3 day old article on this case in the same local paper that published the first report:
https://nonpareilonline.com/news/lo...cle_3ee14df6-9a8e-11ee-8655-6392c9ec19af.html

That article reproduces the original report in JPEG:

657b1361ad018.image.jpg
 
Last edited:
though I have to ask if the version you provided is the final one
Urgh. I'll have bad dreams about this, Skalman!

I downloaded the PDF from the Elsevier site "as is"- titled, consecutive page numbers etc. (but without "supplemental" papers).

On checking (after reading Skalman's post) the paper I've downloaded and used is dated June 2021; but Elsevier list the last revision date as November 2021 (IIRC).

So I got access to the paper as published.
THANKFULLY I couldn't spot any major differences with a quick speed-read; as far as I can tell the questionable elements remain (which perhaps doesn't reflect that well on Progress in Aerospace Sciences' review process).

Attached PDF,
"Improved instrumental techniques, including isotopic analysis, applicable to the characterization of unusual materials with potential relevance to aerospace forensics."
Garry P. Nolan, Jacques F. Vallee, Sizun Jiang and Larry G. Lemke, Progress in Aerospace Sciences Vol. 128, 1 January 2022
 

Attachments

  • 1-s2.0-S0376042121000907-main.pdf
    6.3 MB · Views: 19
I don't agree that anything in the primary sources says that the material was found inside the park. Just near the park. The park is a landmark that locals would recognize.
In support of this, is this bit from the the 2011 article:
To take that much molten iron, you’d have to have it at 2,000 degrees, and it was a heavily-traveled road,” Moore said.
Content from External Source
Does this best describe a road inside the park or North 8th Street?

Your source is the same as the one in which Jack Moore claims there was 1000 lbs of material

“To take that much molten iron, you’d have to have it at 2,000 degrees, and it was a heavily-traveled road,” Moore said. “There was about 1,000 pounds of molten iron laying on the ground.
Content from External Source
...and Mike Moore claims the material is impervious to grinders and blowtorches (which you understandably question).
 
• get "metamaterial" research published in a reputable journal (I remember some UFO research made it into an optical journal because it described technical processes done to the film)
Bruce Maccabee, "Letters to the Editor", Applied Optics, 1979, concerning the Kaikura lights.
See https://www.metabunk.org/threads/kaikoura-lights.12064/post-259992 for details.

Another great example Mendel. It is often touted that Maccabee had his "research" on the Kaikura UFOs included in a peer reviewed journal. As @Z.W. Wolf pointed out in the thread you linked to, Maccabee tried to get a rebuttal letter about another UFO story printed in the journal. After no one else provided one the editors said Maccabee's could be published, provided he rewrote it. It's a bit convoluted, but Maccabee seems to admit that instead he reworked a rejected article for Nature and turned that into this rebuttal letter:

Now a clever plot hatched in my mind. Suppose I made use of an
unintended "bait and switch?" My rebuttal to the BUFOH would be rather
"mundane" not directed toward a specific UFO sighting and not necessarily
right for an optics journal. But I had written a paper for NATURE which
made use of optics, photography, etc. to calculate the brightness of one of
the lights seen off the coast of NZ. I thouht that perhaps I could interest
the Applied Optics Editor in this, instead.

In early May, 1979, I rewrote the NATURE article to be more in line
with the Applied Optics "Letter to the Editor" format. I sent it along with
a cover letter saying that, although this did not respond directly to the
BUFOH, it nevertheless "...contains some physical data about an unusual
light source and, since the data are primarily of an optical nature, the
article is suited to your journal."
Content from External Source
https://thecosmicreport.com/the-kaikoura-ufo-sighting/

So, we have an actual academic that is into UFOlogy using a "bait and switch" to get a UFO research article letter published in a journal.

(Alan Sokal, a physicist, submitted a hoax article to Social Text, to test what he saw as poor academic review standards in the humanities/ social sciences. It was published. Wikipedia article https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sokal_affair).

I remember that one. I actually took a Humanities class with my son at the local Jr College back in ~'13 and used that for a paper. But not in this case. Nolan and Vallee have laid their cards on the table many times before, regardless of what's in this article.
 
It's up to me to give some support for my speculative scenario...

-Why might smelter slag be transported by rail? This video tells us:
slag car.png
This stuff, once it's crushed up, makes great filler in cement (sic).
He means cementing material in concrete.

In my speculative scenario the slag came from a smelter in the Omaha area and was transported in a slag car across the Union Pacific Missouri River Bridge. It wasn't necessarily liquid but was still hot and perhaps semi-liquid; encased in a firebrick lining. It was heading toward a cement plant or large construction site.

Or
A large steel mill typically has a slag dump on the grounds of the mill. The slag cars don't travel on main lines. But if you have a small smelter processing scrap within the city, there may not be room. You might transport the hot slag to a remote slag dump.

This is what it might look like when it got there.



The train hauling the slag car(s) traveled east through Council Bluffs and turned north on the tracks just next to 8th Street. There something happened to eject ~50 pounds of slag onto the ground.

This video shows what happens if you pour hot slag onto pooled water.

Steam expansion, not a chemical explosion.

I don't think water infiltrated from the top and there was this type of violent reaction within the top layer of slag still in the slag car. According to my quick research that kind of thing is rare and would probably involve high pressure water. What probably ejected the slag was bumping or rocking. A prime suspect might be hunting oscillation:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hunting_oscillation
... hunting oscillation is a swaying motion of a railway vehicle (often called truck hunting or bogie hunting) caused by the coning action on which the directional stability of an adhesion railway depends. It arises from the interaction of adhesion forces and inertial forces. At low speed, adhesion dominates but, as the speed increases, the adhesion forces and inertial forces become comparable in magnitude and the oscillation begins at a critical speed. Above this speed, the motion can be violent, damaging track and wheels and potentially causing derailment.
Slag cars are not really meant for main line service. They might be unstable.

But once the hot slag hit the ground, it might well have hit pooled water. Even a little would be enough to cause a violent reaction. This type of thing might start a secondary fire in the vegetation, as was reported.

The light show the witnesses saw was this violent reaction. The reaction blew hot red material... how high? Maybe a hundred feet. The witnesses made a cause and effect error; thinking the lights in the sky were attached to a solid object. And as the lights faded the object departed.

The witnesses made another cause and effect error. The material was simply falling back down. It was not dumped from an object. The material would rocket up from the violent reaction and fall back much more slowly. The falling motion would be more noticeable. Also, the upward motion would have happened in the early stages of the sighting and may have gotten the attention of a witness. But when the witness was really looking straight at the light show the material was slowing down (hanging in the air).

The bit about people later picturing the object being a flying saucer high in the sky like an aircraft approaching the airport is due to compounding errors. This case was not investigated properly. Witnesses were allowed to give raw testimony that was taken literally and then exaggerated in the minds of second parties. Ambiguous language has been allowed to stand and has lead to false assumptions.

When you interview a witness effectively you ask "how many degrees above the horizon" the object was. I suspect the light show was only a few degrees above the cluttered horizon.

People have later imagined a flying saucer about 45 degrees above the horizon. This unconsciously imagined scenario became canon.

What about the witnesses describing molten metal running down the slope? Another cause and effect error.

The slag may have been semi-liquid for a short time. When they saw it, it wasn't liquid... but it was solidified in the classic molten metal form. It's night, the witnesses are excited, there's smoke, and there may have been be an active grass fire... You get the picture.

All speculation of course. But I think it's more likely than a flying saucer ejecting smelter slag.

This is an area where steel mills, smelters and steel fabrication plants are common. C'mon.
 
Last edited:
To take that much molten iron, you’d have to have it at 2,000 degrees, and it was a heavily-traveled road,” Moore said.
Content from External Source


Your source is the same as the one in which Jack Moore claims there was 1000 lbs of material

“To take that much molten iron, you’d have to have it at 2,000 degrees, and it was a heavily-traveled road,” Moore said. “There was about 1,000 pounds of molten iron laying on the ground.
Content from External Source
...and Mike Moore claims the material is impervious to grinders and blowtorches (which you understandably question).
Looking at the map, and considering the vague comments of "near the pond" and "still glowing after 15 minutes", I think the railroad is a more probable route of transit than by road. There's a side loop that curves south of the pond area and continues to the west, and judging by the shadows on Google Earth it appears the embankment may be higher at that point. If the source is uphill from the area, molten material would be more likely to travel quite a distance. There is now a building in that area, and that spur of the RR appears to be somewhat overgrown and perhaps no longer in use.
IMG_2268.png
 
That is a siding and doesn't go through... now at least.

Forty six years have gone by. There are a lot of uncertainties. For example the track I speculate that the train traveled on now goes under the loading chutes of the L Ave. Bartlett grain elevator. Oh it goes through alright, but would they put a slag car through the grain elevator? On the other hand, did that grain elevator exist in 1977? Or tracks may have been replaced/rerouted.

You'd have to look at a 1976 map. But, by cracky, there's one for sale on eBay.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/392010700190
 
Last edited:
@John J. I would agree with you that the paper seems to be more or less unchanged, having skimmed through it quickly. I might do a word-by-word comparison later if I have the time.

I would like to add two speculative scenarios that would account for the other group of teenagers that Drake says spoke to him but didn't stay around: they could be the (unwitting) hoaxers.

Scenario 1: One of them had just learned about thermite and they were eager to try it out, choosing a somewhat secluded (but still open) place to try it out after dark on a Saturday when they assumed no one else would be in the park. They parked some distance away from where they put down their thermite and the shit they wanted to try it on. Unfortunately for them, they miscalculated. Maybe the reaction was more forceful than they had anticipated. They hear the other car come to a stop and they run off to their own car, drive it around to where the Drakes' car is and step out, pretending to have witnessed it just like Drake did. The reason they don't stick around is probably that they don't want to get in trouble with the authorities, and this is also why they haven't come forward. Then, after the UFO-thing blows up, it's just too funny to them that other people think it was aliens that they keep quiet about it. As for why they still haven't come forward: they might have, but only to close friends and family, and they might not live in the area any longer. For one, they could've been university students that just drove from campus to the outskirts of the city in search of a place to try out the thermite and when they came upon the park area they thought "good enough".

Scenario 2: The teenagers (in this scenario being local rapscallions), know that trains transporting molten ore passes through the area with some sort of regularity and they might also hang around the rail yard as some kids like to do when they are up to no good. This night, they see a slag/ore train coming and decides to have some fun. They climb up a tree close to the railway and then throw something into the cart. The ensuing explosion is much more violent than they had anticipated and they scram (maybe when they see/hear a car coming). They come back later to see the aftermath, but just as with the first scenario, they don't want to get into trouble with the authorities.
 
Scenario 2 won't work. I considered a natural version. It's December in Iowa. Perhaps a goodly mass of snow fell off something overhanging the tracks. What would happen? In practical terms, nothing. The water would boil off into the atmosphere. The water must be trapped within the slag for a violent steam expansion to occur. The common way for that to happen is dump hot slag on top of water.

Scenario 1 - I don't know what to think. The metallurgy is way beyond my competence. I have to take the word of an expert - Francis Laabs - that the material resembles slag from local smelters processing auto scrap. That's pretty specific.

His voice is rather faint. We only hear it through a fluff piece article. I've made the first move to get some more clarity. BTW, he's still around. He's 80 something and I have an address. I'm kind of reluctant to disturb him over a matter so trivial.

Assuming the metallurgical process is possible... there are some logistics to sort out. The only vehicle mentioned is a small car. Big enough to transport the materials? Maybe. Maybe another vehicle was involved. You can't dismiss the possibility of a prank because the imagined logistics make it impossible.

You have to sort out the difference between prank and hoax. The prank just involves teenage boys playing a dangerous game. A prank may or may not involve the fun of disturbing the serenity of the adults. Setting off a thermite reaction of this size is fun in itself.

A hoax involves making people believe something is going on when it's not. A hoax may succeed or fail in it's intent. But a failure of a hoax does not disprove it was an attempt.

If this were a flying saucer hoax, it sort of succeeded. It didn't cause much of a stir at the time, but it lives on as a trivial episode in the Folklore. But it's hard to see what the intent was. A flying saucer hoax usually involves putting something into the air. On the other hand it may have been a flying saucer landing traces hoax. I doubt it.

The hoax is an overused/overvalued explanation. Witness error and poor investigation are more than adequate for the overwhelming number of cases.
 
Last edited:
Let's look at the recent article:
https://nonpareilonline.com/news/lo...ium=social&utm_source=twitter_nonpareilonline

A red object falling out of the sky, a blue-white flash of light, something thin and round hovering above the treetops — these are some of the reports surrounding a decades-old Council Bluffs mystery that remains unsolved today.

On Dec. 17, 1977, reports of an object crashing to the ground in Big Lake Park led to questions from area residents. Sunday marks the 46-year anniversary of the strange incident, for which no certain explanation has ever been found.

Eleven independent witnesses confirmed the sighting, as well as the Council Bluffs police and fire departments.

The first reports of the sighting came from three teenagers who were on their way to the Richman Gordman store on North 16th Street, who say they saw a reddish object 500 to 600 feet in the air, falling straight down.

“It disappeared behind the trees of Big Lake Park, followed by a flash of bluish-white light and two ‘arms of fire’ shooting over 10 feet in the air, suggesting an impact,” Richard Warner wrote in an article on the mysterious UFO for the Historical Society of Pottawattamie County.

It's important to note that Richard Warner is a present day secondary source. He has made some judgments based on limited primary sources and on other secondary sources. He authored this undated report:
https://www.thehistoricalsociety.org/h/ufo.html

I don't think his logic is sound and I don't think he has any experience in the field of rigorous UFO investigation. I'm sure he hasn't read Hendry's UFO Handbook.

A young couple reported a “big round thin hovering in the sky below the treetops,” according to the society, while a third couple reported “a bright red object rocketing to the ground at Big Lake.”
Where did this quotation come from?

Assistant Fire Chief Jack Moore was called to the scene by one of the couples, according to a Dec. 18, 1977 article from the Nonpareil. At the park, he found a 4-foot by 6-foot grassy area covered with a molten metal substance that was running and boiling down the edges of the levee near Gilbert’s Pond.

The original article does not say it was "running and boiling down the edges of the levee near Gilbert’s Pond." The first local newspaper story says, "... the Big Lake Park area." It also identifies the site as "... on a levee off Big Lake." The article does not mention Gilbert's Pond.

So is this new article evidence that the site was on a levee near Gilbert's Pond? Tish tush. I think this is evidence that Richard Warner is just repeating that false assumption from another secondary source. In any case I still stand firm that no primary source mentions Gilbert's Pond nor identifies the site as being within Big Lake Park.

This is what Vallee says in the 1998 article:
The object hit the ground in the vicinity of "Gilbert’s Pond" in Big Lake Park, across the Missouri from Eppley airport. The exact street address is 1900 N. Eighth street. It fell at a point 16 feet from the paved road and 6 feet from the top of the levee, burning an area 4 feet wide by 9 feet long. There was a secondary burn area 27 feet away on the side of the dike, measuring about 2 by 4 feet.
This is the oldest mention of Gilbert's Pond I've seen so far. Vallee doesn't cite sources for this info.

I've ordered a copy of The UFO Enigma: A New Review of the Physical Evidence Hardcover – November 1, 1999. This reportedly has a section dealing with the Council Bluffs case. Maybe this will clear up some things.

“I really don’t know what it is,” Moore told the Nonpareil. “The center of it was way too hot to touch” and the grass beneath the mass was burned.

Checks with Eppley Airfield and Offutt Air Force Base offered no leads. Offutt officials “didn’t seem terribly interested,” Moore said.
Faithful to the original article.

The Nonpareil’s longtime astronomy expert Bob Allen visited the scene on Dec. 18, 1977. When taking a look at the scene, he said it couldn’t have been a meteor, as there was no cratering where the metal landed.

That wasn’t the only sign that contributed to Allen’s assessment.

“The molten state of the material, if it did indeed fall from the sky, goes against the physics of a meteorite when it strikes the earth,” he wrote in his Star Gazing column in the Dec. 19, 1977, issue of Nonpareil.
This is another primary source. Allen never says the site was within Big Lake Park nor does he mention Gilbert's Pond.


Moore and Allen both harvested pieces of the mass, which were sent to a metallurgist for testing. After an analysis done by the local Griffin Pipe Products Company and review by Iowa State University, the metal was found to be a high-carbon steel that was common in manufacturing. At the time, two area foundries could produce that type of molten metal.
Wrong. It was smelter slag. The raw material in the smelter was carbon steel... and other stuff. Auto scrap. This paragraph seems to come from the reporter's reliance on Warner. Warner may have gotten this from the Nolan et al. paper.

So it wasn’t a meteor, it was metal. But how did it get to Big Lake? The answer to that question is what remains unclear today.

While these stories are often the result of overproductive imaginations, what makes this incident unique is its very credible witnesses, Warner told the Nonpareil.
Wrong. This is the classic 1950s vintage solid citizen fallacy. This is a good example of what leads me to believe that Warner has no experience with UFO research.

When Hendry wrote the UFO Handbook it had been long known that solid citizens make mistakes too. This was just further proof.

Hendry, A. (1980). The Ufo handbook: A guide to investigating, evaluating and reporting Ufo sightings. Sphere.
UFO Handbook 2.jpg


“There’s really only two possibilities — somebody either brought it there on the ground or something fell out of the sky,” he said.

When the first witnesses arrived on scene, minute after the impact, a small foreign car filled with four teenagers stopped and asked if they had seen something fall out of the sky, too.

One theory is that the teenagers dumped the metal, shooting off a flare to create the illusion of something falling to earth in some sort of elaborate prank.

“I’m at an impasse,” Warner said. “How would you transport something that hot?”

Rail cars would be able to transport molten metal. At the time, North Western tracks sat on one side of the park and Illinois Central rail ran the other, so the idea of an accidental dump from the railroads wouldn't be impossible, Warner said.

"But, it would've been closer to the tracks and some sort of incident would've been reported," Warner said.
This is all based on the false assumption that the site was within Big Lake Park on a levee near Gilbert’s Pond.

In an interview with the Nonpareil, Warner said one man has even so much as admitted that he was involved in the hoax. He told Warner he and a buddy borrowed a thermite welder from Union Pacific to melt down manhole covers to impress some girls — though it did not.
Fiddle-dee-dee

“There’s a bunch of things that are concerning to me,” Warner said. “One, why would someone wait 45 years to admit this, and second, I wanted to confirm this was even possible.”

Warner believes there is more to the story, and he isn’t ready to rule the mystery solved just yet. He hopes to further interview his source at a later date.

Still, credible sources swear they saw something fall from the sky.
The solid citizen fallacy again. Suffering succotash.

The UFO Museum and Research Center in Roswell, New Mexico, has accumulated information on nine other incidents similar to the one in Council Bluffs.
Heh

Allen also raises doubt about the origin of the metal.

"I have checked with the only two foundry's in Council Bluffs which have the expertise to produce molten metal in large volume," Allen wrote in an article for the UFO Examiner shortly after the incident. "They both admit it would be possible to transport molten metal to the spot and dump it, but the 'why' seems to indicate the logistics of transporting the molten metal would be prohibitive."
This article is quoted but not presented.

I have checked with the only two foundry's in Council Bluffs which have the expertise to produce molten metal in large volume
Why would they have to be in Council Bluffs? A sloppy assumption.

it would be possible to transport molten metal to the spot and dump it, but the 'why' seems to indicate the logistics of transporting the molten metal would be prohibitive.
Not dumped by an amateur. Spilled from a railroad car.

"After a thorough investigation of the impact area, I feel the object which fell there was a piece of debris from space and not a meteoric impact," Allen wrote.
What he actually said.


657b1363acfce.image.jpg

I don't think it's space debris.

The other 1977 Allen article.

657b135fb451c.image (1).jpg
Allen does say, "...the Big Lake 'outer space' object." He does not say the Big Lake Park object nor does he identify the site as being within Big Lake Park. I still say that the Big Lake area was just a convenient way of giving locals a general idea of where the site was. Big Lake is a local landmark. The 1900 North 8th Street address is a nondescript place. It is near Big Lake though.

Until someone can give me a primary source that says otherwise, I think the address Vallee gives us in the 1998 article - 1900 North 8th Street - is our best info.
 
Last edited:
If the source is uphill from the area, molten material would be more likely to travel quite a distance.
Hmmm. I think @Z.W. Wolf's rail-spill theory may account for the nature of the material (and may be correct overall).
I'm not sure a blob of molten metal would travel without leaving reasonably clear evidence in its wake, though.

And I feel that such a spill, immediately adjacent to to a railroad, would have such an obvious possible cause (or at least a source of cause, if people were unaware of molten slag freight trains passing through) that it'd be a non-story from the start, except perhaps from a railroad safety perspective.
I would kind of expect assistant fire chief Jack Moore to realise, almost immediately, what might have happened- presumably the local fire department would have some awareness of possible hazardous loads travelling through Council Bluffs.
It must have been possible to check with freight train companies or the railroad operator to see if any "candidate" trains had travelled through CB at around 19:45 that day, and get a result pretty quickly (the next "working" day would be two days later, Monday 19th December).

On knocking a map together, an incident at 1900 N. Eighth St. looks like it might have been more visible to the claimed witnesses than something at Gilbert's Pond, though, and I take Z.W. Wolf's point about details becoming garbled in the re-telling (as we see in many "classic" UFO cases).
As with any theory relying on Criss and Mike Moore seeing a light source at Gilbert's Pond, Criss Moore's sighting is hard to account for.
We (well, I) don't know what Council Bluffs was like in 1977, but the 16th Street/ West Broadway intersection area was almost certainly built-up. As mentioned in the OP, the CB/ Big Lake Park area is relatively flat. If Mike Moore's sighting was from the viaduct, he would have had a raised vantage point over the rail yards.


1900 N Eighth Street.JPG

(Contemporary) Photo of N 16th St./ West Broadway junction. The upwards-inclined roadway at the (visible, not actual) end of West Broadway (on horizon, R. of picture) is the Broadway Viaduct.

junction, N. 16th Street and Broadway Avenue.JPG


This is the view from near the midpoint of Broadway Viaduct, looking north. This structure was opened in 2011, replacing the viaduct that was there in 1977. I don't know if there was any significant difference in height.
The railroad marshalling yards start about 500m (547 yds/0.31 mile) to the north in line with the centre of the picture.
(The red and orange structures are an art installation called "Gateway").

midpoint Broadway Viaduct.JPG
 
Just a couple of further observations while reading through this paper and it's antecedent from '98. NO WHERE in either paper does Vallee mention where he got the sample from.

In the '98 paper he talks about the case and mentions test results from samples at Iowa State University, Aimes and Griffin Pipe Works. Nothing about getting or collecting a sample. Note also, if he did get a sample in '98 from someone, it's fully 20 years after the incident. Are there any records of where these samples had been in that time?

Fast forward to the current paper and we are simply told Vallee had a sample from the 1977 incident:

A surviving piece of the original material was retained by JV and provided for the experiments herein (hence termed CB_JV-1 for clarity).
Content from External Source
Again, no provenance for the sample. I find the follow up sentence even more confusing:

Note that while this sample is claimed to be derived from the same samples used in Table 1 (those samples are no longer available), it is distinct and uniquely measured in this report.
Content from External Source
Who's claiming the sample is derived from the previously sampled (1977) pieces? Vallee or the people that gave him the sample? Even though it's now determined to be "distinct and unique" they go on to provide Table #1, which is the results of the analysis by ISU, Aimes on a sample that this one is not.

If the whole point of the paper is advanced testing of unique materials to improve aerospace forensics, wouldn't it be prudent to explain exactly how the sample they tested is related to an incident from nearly 45 years ago?

As Vallee concluded in his '98 paper, a lot of what got recovered in these cases was industrial slag:

The samples described in the ten cases we have reviewed are summarized in Table 3. They belong, broadly speaking, in two major classes: samples resembling slag or industrial residue, and light silvery alloys, with one incident (case no. 2, Maury Island) involving both types of materials.
Content from External Source
But further research might have shown a UFO:

To the extent that recovered samples did not show an exotic composition or complex structure supporting their preconceived hypothesis, both sides of the extraterrestrial argument lost interest in the cases. In the view of the present author such lack of follow-up is unfortunate, because much could be learned from comparative analysis of such material even if it is mundane. Therefore, our hope is that further field research maybe stimulated by publication of the present survey.
Content from External Source
 
there are some logistics to sort out. The only vehicle mentioned is a small car. Big enough to transport the materials? Maybe.

The maximum weight of material estimated by Nolan, Vallee, Jiang and Lemke (2022) was 25 kg (55 lbs).
I think it unlikely that they would knowingly underestimate the weight or quantity of material.

From the OP:
Page 7 para. 5 states that estimates of the material's weight ranged from 35-55 pounds (15.9-25.0 kg); Page 10 para. 5 says the weight was estimated at 35-40 pounds (15.9-18.18 Kg). The final paragraph, pg. 11, says
"...thirty pounds [13.64 Kg] of iron (with other elements such as titanium)... "
A reasonably fit young person should be able to carry 25 kg (55 lbs) on foot for a substantial distance at walking pace.

25 Kg (55 lb) of iron or steel makes a cube approximately 15 cm (5.91 inches) per side, a volume of 3.375 litres/ approx. 210 cubic inches.
The Council Bluffs material almost certainly had lower density and therefore larger volume, unless it resembled Coan's analysis and was originally a solid.

A metal in the form of fine scrap/ swarf/ metallic ribbon/ filings/ powder (e.g. in thermite) takes up a larger volume than a solid of the same weight (Kayser hypothesized that the Council Bluffs material might originally have been composed of small components including thermite powder, pg. 11 para. 6).
If the Council Bluffs material had just one tenth the density of solid iron or steel, it would take up a volume of approx. 33.75 l (2100 cubic inches).

This is within the capacity of a medium-sized backpack: as an example, the ALICE LC-2 Medium Field Pack, in use with US forces in 1977, has a capacity of 2300 cu in. (37.69 l) and
Will hold upwards of 50 lbs [> 22.68 kg] of gear and food Content from External Source https://www.thunderheadoutdoorresearch.org/wiki/ALICE_LC-2_Medium_Field_Pack
(A robust large backpack, e.g. 80 litres capacity, could contain twice this volume and weight- a heavy load though!)

25 kg / 55 pounds of material with the composition indicated by Nolan, Vallee et al.'s findings could be carried by one person, on foot, using a medium backpack or something similar. It would easily fit into the trunk of pretty much any car.

One reasonably healthy person with a robust bag could carry the materials necessary (and in line with the composition indicated by Nolan, Vallee et al.'s MIBI-SIMS results) for a Council Bluffs-type display, on foot, for several miles.
 
Last edited:
One of the questionable parts of the Nolan, Vallee. Jiang, Lemke 2022 paper that I find most, well, troubling is this:

Similarly, liquid metal designs have been proposed for magneto-hydrodynamic (MHD) generators for the decomposition of toxic wastes and for superconducting airborne platforms [46].
Content from External Source
(Author's italics). Page 12, para. 2 of the published paper (PDF below if anyone who wants it missed it).

Reference 46 is
[46] H.L. Southall, C.E. Oberly, System considerations for airborne, high-power superconducting generators, Inst. Electr. Electron. Eng. 15 (1) (1979) 711.
Content from External Source
It's a short, clearly-written technical paper. It doesn't take much time to read.
There is absolutely nothing in it about liquid metal designs.
Nor is the phrase "superconducting aerial platform" (whatever one of those might be) used. I believe Nolan, Vallee et al. use this phrase to imply- falsely, quite frankly- that superconducting aircraft (again, whatever one of those would be) based on liquid metal technology are discussed in the Southall and Oberly paper. They are not.

I think Nolan, Vallee et al.'s citing of the Southall/ Oberly 1979 paper is incorrect, and misleading.
Not sure why I feel so strongly about this- maybe it's the feeling that the 2022 authors are hoodwinking readers (some of whom are happy being hoodwinked, perhaps). Maybe it's because I feel Southall and Oberly's work is being exploited (as well as being misrepresented) by the 2022 authors.
(To add insult to injury, Nolan, Vallee et al. don't cite the appropriate journal; IEEE publishes several).

Southall, H. L., Oberly, C. E., "System considerations for airborne, high-power superconducting generators",
IEEE Transactions on Magnetics, 15 (1), 1979:
1.JPG2.JPG3.JPG4.JPG

There is nothing here which is relevant to the claims made by Nolan, Vallee et al. about liquid metal technology, as far as I can see.
Thoughts anyone?

Attached: PDF of "Improved instrumental techniques...", Nolan, Vallee, Jiang, Lemke, 2022 (as published);
PDF of "System considerations for airborne, high-power superconducting generators", Southall, Oberly 1979
 

Attachments

  • 1-s2.0-S0376042121000907-main.pdf
    6.3 MB · Views: 19
  • system considerations for airborne high-power superconducting generators 1979.pdf
    488.8 KB · Views: 27
There is nothing here which is relevant to the claims made by Nolan, Vallee et al. about liquid metal technology, as far as I can see.
Thoughts anyone?

It's possible none of them are aware of what's in the Southall & Oberly paper. As you've pointed out, much of the 2022 paper is just a copy & paste of Vallee's '98 paper, which is where the citation comes from, at least originally:

Similarly, liquid metal designs have been proposed for magneto-hydrodynamic (MHD) generators, for the decomposition of toxic wastes and for superconducting airborne platforms (Southall & Oberly, 1979).
Content from External Source
It would appear that "superconducting airborne platforms" is the phrase that ties the Southall & Oberly paper to whatever it is Vallee is claiming. The whole thing is somewhat confusing. In the '98 paper he makes this claim:

The similarities between many of the above cases point to a common scenario for the generation of the recovered samples: metal is observed to be ejected in molten form by an unidentified aerial object, commonly described as a vehicle flying in an unstable condition. The material, in liquid form, falls over a fairly wide area where it takes minutes to hours to cool down. When analyzed, it turns out to be made up of common terrestrial elements, often in a form resembling ordinary industrial byproducts.
Content from External Source
Without going through all 10 cases again, case #4 Campinas Brazil 1954 and #8 Bogota Columbia 1975 or '76 are the only 2 the mention "spurts of liquid metal". So, the conclusion in the first sentence about this being a "common scenario" is false to begin with. Nevertheless, having conceived of this "common scenario", he seeks to explain liquid metal being flung around as some sort of propulsion system or something like that:

Given this scenario, it is appropriate to ask under what conditions one might want to use liquid metal in a flying vehicle. In the words of J. R. Bumby of the University of Durham, ª the high conductivity of liquid metals makes them an attractive means of current collection for homopolar machines.º (Bumby,1983)
Content from External Source
https://www.metabunk.org/attachments/vallee-orig-1998-pdf.64699/

Honestly, and I'm just speculating here, but I get the feeling Vallee saw Bumby's paper and maybe similar ones and thought they might describe potential UFO propulsion systems and just back-fit his claims to the idea. Bonus here is that it is an advanced UFO propulsion system that only produces "ordinary industrial byproducts", which is all that's ever been recovered. Them aliens are very clever!

So, if one copies a problematic and possibly wrong citation form 1998, when one pastes it, it's still problematic and possibly wrong citation in 2022.
 
There is nothing here which is relevant to the claims made by Nolan, Vallee et al. about liquid metal technology, as far as I can see.
Thoughts anyone?
do people find papers to cite by keyword searches? because in that case, a search for liquid superconductor could've thrown up that article because of its discussion of liquid helium, and busy authors/scientists don't always have time to read everything they cite.
 
do people find papers to cite by keyword searches? because in that case, a search for liquid superconductor could've thrown up that article because of its discussion of liquid helium, and busy authors/scientists don't always have time to read everything they cite.
An interesting point. As NorCal Dave reminds us, the Southall/ Oberly paper is cited (by Nolan, Vallee et al. 2022) in an approx. 350-word block of text essentially lifted from Vallee's 1998 paper. Many university libraries had in-house keyword search functions by then (a credit to the work of library staff) and internet searches were fast becoming the norm.
But Vallee (1998) and the 2022 authors make an extraordinary- or at least, a striking claim-
liquid metal designs have been proposed... for superconducting airborne platforms
-and support this claim with reference to a paper that does not, in any reasonable way, have anything to do with liquid metals, MHD generators or aircraft propulsion. If this is the result of using a keyword search, I feel the 2022 authors are still collectively responsible for a misleading citation.
 
I feel the 2022 authors are still collectively responsible for a misleading citation.
Yes, that's obvious, I didn't mean to suggest otherwise.
If an author cuts corners, they're responsible for the consequences. I just had some thoughts on the particular corner that might have been cut here.
 
An interesting point. As NorCal Dave reminds us, the Southall/ Oberly paper is cited (by Nolan, Vallee et al. 2022) in an approx. 350-word block of text essentially lifted from Vallee's 1998 paper.

In addition, that '98 article was in The Journal of Scientific Exploration which is peer reviewed, but by whom:

The JSE is the quarterly, peer-reviewed journal of the SSE. Since 1987, the JSE has published original research on topics of interest that cover a wide spectrum, ranging from apparent anomalies in well-established disciplines to rogue phenomena that seem to belong to no established discipline, as well as philosophical issues about the connections among disciplines. The journal also contains book reviews, letters to the editor, and peer correspondence.
Content from External Source
https://www.scientificexploration.org/journal-library

Just a glance at the contents page for Volume 36, Issue 2 (2022)

1703208250351.png
1703208293242.png
https://www.scientificexploration.org/36/2
 
Back
Top