Meta Materials From UFOs

Loeb says, in his quoted response:
To be scientifically credible, any such claim must reproduce the measured abundances of all elements and, in particular, demonstrate the loss of volatile elements — as derived in our paper.
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But then he says:
Our research teams at the Bruker Corporation in Germany and at Harvard University in the US are currently analyzing the remaining 93% of our full sample of nearly 800 spherules. We will report the complete results once available in the coming months.The fact that vocal critics reach definitive conclusions about the nature of these spherules without having access to them, demonstrates how unprofessional their conduct is.
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So it would appear that his paper reached its conclusion based on only seven percent of his sample, but it doesn't sound as if he wants to analyze any portion of that 93% by other methods or different instruments.

The response, tellingly, discusses only the composition of the materials (along with a dash of history and a large handful of hubris). It doesn't mention what is probably the most sweeping statement of his findings, the claim that this is from an "interstellar" object.
 
Similarly not in a place to judge, but Avi Loeb has responded:
Lately, some of these commentators promoted the claim that the spherules we collected in an expedition to the Pacific Ocean and analyzed carefully with the best instruments in the world over the past five months, are coal ash. This claim is based on unrefereed comments that superficially examined a few elements out of the dozens we analyzed.
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That's a mis-representation.

Anthropogenic Coal Ash as a Contaminant in a Micro-meteoritic Underwater Search

Patricio A. Gallardo1

Published October 2023 • © 2023. The Author(s). Published by the American Astronomical Society.
Research Notes of the AAS, Volume 7, Number 10
Citation Patricio A. Gallardo 2023 Res. Notes AAS 7 220
DOI 10.3847/2515-5172/ad03f9

Abstract
...
The lack of consensus regarding atmospheric survival and precision of path estimates motivate an examination of possible contaminants. Contents of nickel, beryllium, lanthanum and uranium are examined in the context of a known anthropogenic source of contamination, and found to be consistent with coal ash as suggested from a publicly available coal chemical composition database (COALQUAL). The meteoritic origin is disfavored.
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-- https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.3847/2515-5172/ad03f9

Notice the could-be-sloppy-could-be-a-deliberate-straw-man replacement of "they are X" for "they are contaminated with X". And also note that these aren't "unrefereed comments", that's a peer-reviewed published paper. Also note that it focusses mostly on "a few elements" simply because Loeb et al. specifically selected those elements as the ones with the most curious proportions - they're countering your strongest evidence, Avi, you can't with a straight face fall back on your weaker stuff to try and bolster your argument. It's a short paper, it's a 10 minute scan read.
 
And also note that these aren't "unrefereed comments", that's a peer-reviewed published paper.
It's not peer-reviewed.
Article:
Research Notes of the AAS is a non-peer reviewed, indexed and secure record of works in progress, comments and clarifications, null results, or timely reports of observations in astronomy and astrophysics.

That's where I found Loeb's own speculative articles.

The fact that Loeb's paper on the spherules is on arxiv but not there is, well, interesting.
 
Article:
In reality, taking up the mantle of Galileo requires not just that you are scorned by the establishment but also that you are correct[note 1] — that is, that the evidence supports your position. There is no link between being "persecuted" and actually being correct. However, the selective reporting of cases where people who were persecuted or ostracized for beliefs and ideas that later turned out to be valid has instilled a confidence in woo promoters and pseudoscientists that is difficult to shake. They forget the part where they have to prove themselves right in order to be like Galileo.

To horrifically misquote Carl Sagan:
"They laughed at [Galileo], but they also laughed at Bozo the Clown"
(The original quote uses more modern examples like the Wright brothers rather than Galileo. IIRC.)
 
After publishing a book arguing that the Sun is at the center of the solar system, Galileo Galilei faced a trial on suspicions of heresy, as depicted by this 1847 painting by Joseph-Nicolas Robert-Fleury.
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Is it me, or after donning Galileo's cloak of persecution does Loeb than spend his time attacking a giant Strawman? I guess it's not a complete Strawman if in fact there were bloggers and other "non-scientist that have never published anything" questioning his work, hell that could be us :D . But I don't see anywhere in his blog post where he answers some of the fundamental questions raised by other actual published scientists aside from the "coal ash" argument.

If this blog post is in response to Desh and Jackson, then where is the response? They're starting argument is that there is no way for Loeb and his team to know they were collecting bits or material from the ocean floor that was from a specific astrological event:

There is no evidence for interstellar materials. The 2014-01-08 probably wasn’t interstellar. If it were, it would have completely vaporized. Even if ablation spherules were produced, these would have been few and spread out, and vastly outnumbered by background spherules. There is no evidence that spherules overall, or “Be La U” spherules, were concentrated anywhere, let alone the path of the bolide, which is very poorly known.
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https://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/2311/2311.07699.pdf

Something meteorite specialist Peter Brown had already pointed out:

"It's been known for a century that if you take a magnetic rake and run it over the ocean floor, you will pull up extraterrestrial spherules," Peter Brown, a meteorite specialist at the University of Western Ontario in Canada, told Live Science. Such debris has accumulated worldwide on the seafloor over millions of years from meteors dropping tiny bits of molten metal as they pass overhead, Brown added. Factoring in shifting ocean currents and sedimentary movements, "it essentially would be impossible to say that this particular spherule comes from a particular event."
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Even if the stuff collected could be traced to a certain event, Loeb's conclusion that he starts from, that this is the first ever recorded interstellar event, is in question according to Brown:

Brown also recently co-authored a paper calling into question IM1's interstellar pedigree. The claim that the meteor came from outside our solar system is based on its ridiculous speed upon entering our atmosphere. However, Brown said, "particularly at higher speeds, the U.S. government sensors tend to overestimate speeds." A lower speed would also account for the object's unusual brightness profile, which didn't match what would be expected for a metallic meteor moving at over 100,000 mph (160,000 km/h), Brown said.

Of course, this doesn't mean the meteorite isn't from another star system — just that it doesn't have to be. To date, there have been no confirmed interstellar meteorite impacts on Earth, though Brown himself has spent 20 years searching for one.
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https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/tech...&cvid=7f015103409343be8188e77745658104&ei=129

Having laid out that what was collected was very likely only vaguely or not at all related to the IM1 event, Desh and Jackson point out why it was likely from our solar system and not unusual:

The “Be La U” triple spherule S21 most likely formed in an impact plume tens of thousands of years ago, and not in a fireball like the 2014-01-08 bolide. The “BeLaU” pattern is seen in other cosmic spherules in the Indian Ocean and Antarctica and is attributed to terrestrial contamination. The Be abundance also is attributable to terrestrial contamination, not cosmic-ray spallation. Finally, the Fe isotopes are more consistent with terrestrial contamination than vaporization during entry, and are a smoking gun for a Solar System origin for all their spherules.
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Again, none of this is addressed. None of this on either side is in peer reviewed publications, but as Loeb has been blogging about his results and theories and then putting them on Arxiv, that's where the response is.

EDIT: Fixed buggered up EX tags.
 
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On the face of it, the claim that this event was due to an interstellar meteor is not that outlandish. Even if these spherules do not turn out to have come from an interstellar meteor, I would anticipate that sooner or later some interstellar meteoric material may be found, perhaps on the ice in Antarctica or somewhere similarly remote.

But the suggestion that these meteors may be the wreckage of alien technology is somewhat more speculative. Loeb wrote an imaginative article about wreckage from a destroyed Dyson Sphere; this sort of artifact could spread material over a wide volume, and we might find something of this sort eventually. On the other hand, no-one has found an intact Dyson Sphere yet, so it seems odd to imagine that the only evidence we might have is from a long-abandoned one.
 
On the face of it, the claim that this event was due to an interstellar meteor is not that outlandish. Even if these spherules do not turn out to have come from an interstellar meteor, I would anticipate that sooner or later some interstellar meteoric material may be found, perhaps on the ice in Antarctica or somewhere similarly remote.
The problem is that we're dealing with several uncertainties here.

First of all, we don't really know how many interstellar meteors impact Earth, statistically. Desh/Jackson argue that it's well possible that Loeb's bolide was not extrasolar at all. So we'd want to know how many interstellar vs. extrasolar meteors hit Earth.

Then there's the question of how much material we'd be expect to find afterwards. Since interstellar meteors are likely to have higher velocities, they'd burn up more than intrasolar meteors, leaving less material to be discovered later—maybe none.

Plus then there's the question of how much of that material would stick to a magnet, or just be rock.

So if we knew these values, we could compute a ratio of much material we'd expect to be interstellar in an average magnetic dredging. It seems that number should be quite low, less than 0.1%. So you'd have to do a lot of dredging to find a statistically significant sample.

Notice here also that the tables in Loeb's paper show spherule counts and average/median spherule sizes, but their abundance heatmap uses total mass somehow. But then the general idea that the heat map would clearly indicate the path of the bolide when you're bound to dredge up well over 90% of pre-existing spherules (as their controls suggest) smells of fabrication anyway. So their way of linking the "special" spherules they found to that specific bolide is very tenuous.

And once that link is gone, these spherules have to prove extrasolar on their composition and structure alone. And when you have several experts in the field saying they look perfectly intrasolar to them, that's another untenable claim.

So maybe someone can design an experiment where they actually know where the sled is (instead of assuming it could be 2.5 km to the left of right of the ship which was not going straight, and assigning the collected material to that whole area of uncertainty), and where they include undersea cartography to show where there may be undersea ditches and dells where such heavy spherules might naturally gather over the centuries, and then maybe run their probes in a grid pattern instead of a bunch of haphazard squiggles.

From afar, Loeb's experiment smells like so many pseudoscientific experiments (FE is big on these) that give just enough data to support fascinating speculations, but not enough to actually prove anything: a scientific LIZ (low information zone), if you will; exacerbated by cherry-picking data.

So yeah, "I would anticipate that sooner or later some interstellar meteoric material may be found, perhaps on the ice in Antarctica or somewhere similarly remote." But nobody knows how hard that actually is. It's kinda like saying, "sooner or later some alien may come visiting". Until we have clear proof of it, watch out for wishful thinking reports.
 
But I don't see anywhere in his blog post where he answers some of the fundamental questions raised by other actual published scientists aside from the "coal ash" argument.

Just to clarify, it seems like the coal ash argument is addressed, but not really answered. As @FatPhil noted in post #122 above, Loeb says somebody claimed some of his spherules, particularly the anomalous ones, were coal ash (link to Loeb's blog at bottom as it creates a big header):

Lately, some of these commentators promoted the claim that the spherules we collected in an expedition to the Pacific Ocean and analyzed carefully with the best instruments in the world over the past five months, are coal ash.
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I guess reading the exact wording above and giving Loeb the benefit of the doubt, he could be referring to people that may have read the Gallardo paper, Anthropogenic Coal Ash as a Contaminant in a Micro-meteoritic Underwater Search and were blogging about it.

But the next line in Loeb's blog seems to indicate he's aware of the paper:

This claim is based on unrefereed comments that superficially examined a few elements out of the dozens we analyzed. To be scientifically credible, any such claim must reproduce the measured abundances of all elements and, in particular, demonstrate the loss of volatile elements — as derived in our paper
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Meaning he likely knows the actual claim is that the possibility a few of his spherules could have been coal ash and contaminated his sample and that should have been considered and wasn't. His equally unrefereed response to the unattributed claim that his anomalous spherules were coal ash was:

Our team member, Dr. Jim Lem, head of the Department of Mining Engineering at the University of Technology in Papua New Guinea, noted: “The region where the expedition was carried, should have no coal mineralization. In addition, coal is non-magnetic and cannot be picked up by the magnetic sled that was used.” Indeed, our “BeLaU”-type spherules have a much higher iron abundance than coal ash. Case closed
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I suppose its case closed if he's responding to a random blogger, but Dr. Lem merely asserts the area of the search "should have no coal mineralization". Not that it does NOT have coal or that they tested it for coal.

Even if Lem's assertion were correct, the source of the coal ash contamination need not be naturally occurring coal mineralization in the search area. The title includes the word Anthropogenic:

an·thro·po·gen·ic:
of, relating to, or resulting from the influence of human beings on nature
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https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/anthropogenic

The coal ash could be from man-made pollutants from steam engines as noted in the paper:

Multiple reports during the past century have discussed anthropogenic contaminants in samples containing magnetic spherules from microns to millimeter scales in size (Handy & Davidson 1953; Oldfield et al. 1978; Goldberg et al. 1981; Deuser et al. 1983; Locke & Bertine 1986; Wik & Renberg 1991). Most notably, in 1976, another naval expedition in the Gulf of Mexico found large numbers of magnetic spherules from anthropogenic sources in seawater (Doyle et al. 1976). Chemical composition analyses revealed consistency with coal fly ash, a waste product of the combustion of coal in power plants and steam engines.
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https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.3847/2515-5172/ad03f9

Gallardo then compares the values for Be La U and Fe found in the literature with those of Loeb's supposedly anomalous spherules. I've edited a bit here for brevity. L23 refers to Loeb's paper and samples if I'm reading this right:


3.1. Iron​

The abundance reported in Table 1 in Doyle et al. (1976) has a mean value of 68%, while the iron abundance in the BeLaU sample has a mean of 51%. In consistency with Hock & Lichtman (1983).

3.2. Nickel​

Nickel content has been pointed out as a discriminator between coal ash and meteoritic material (Handy & Davidson 1953). Table 1 in Doyle et al. (1976) found nickel concentrations of order 0.04% in fly ash. The nickel concentrations in L23 are of order 200 ppm (0.02%) or lower. Which puts the nickel content in the same order of magnitude of Doyle et al. (1976).

Nickel content is in consistency with ash from coal.

3.3. Beryllium, Lanthanum and Uranium​

Figure 1 shows in green the concentrations for the five BeLaU samples, with the expected histogram (in black) of the concentrations from coal ash for beryllium, lanthanum and uranium. COALQUAL data shows that all samples are in the expected range, in consistency with coal ash, and with: Headlee & Hunter (1953), and Zielinski & Finkelman (1997).
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Note also the amount of iron in coal ash, meaning it could in fact be picked up with a magnetic sled, contrary to Loeb's assertions. In fact, Gallardo argues that while coal ash has a typicaly lower iron content, using a magnetic sled in fact selects for spherules of coal ash with a higher iron content:

The iron content of coal ash has been documented in the context of coal quality control and commercial iron sourcing. Although typical values for the iron content in coal ash range 20%, with a variance of several tens of percent (Myers et al. 1973), higher values can be obtained if the ash is magnetically selected (Murtha & Burnet 1978).
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https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.3847/2515-5172/ad03f9

Lastly, as mentioned before me and math are not friends, but I did try my hand a few calculations. From Loeb:

Our research teams at the Bruker Corporation in Germany and at Harvard University in the US are currently analyzing the remaining 93% of our full sample of nearly 800 spherules.
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I'm not sure if "nearly 800" is 750 or 795 but I'm just going with 800. Now 93% of 800 is 744 meaning they have analyzed ~56 samples of which it appears 5 were anomalous:

A three-order of magnitude difference from CI-chondrites has been identified for elements beryllium, lanthanum and uranium in five samples.
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https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.3847/2515-5172/ad03f9

So, at this point around 10% of the samples so far studied are anomalous. I have no idea what percentage of spherules magnetically obtained form random seafloor drags would include spherules of coal ash with a high level of iron, but it seems it should be ruled out before claiming interstellar origins.

Source: https://avi-loeb.medium.com/new-knowledge-must-be-learned-not-preached-ffb287585377
 
In addition, coal is non-magnetic and cannot be picked up by the magnetic sled that was used.”
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That's a bunk comment because Loeb's paper clearly reveals that they did process a lot of non-magnetic sediment. See e.g. Appendix B.
 

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The entire thesis of alien metamaterials is quite preposterous for several reasons :-

1) There are 90 or so naturally occurring elements. Nobody has ever found an 'alien metamaterial' that was not composed of these basic elements.

2) We have no idea what processes may go on elsewhere in the universe that may produce 'techno-signature' type materials totally naturally. For example I do not consider it impossible that there may be some exoplanet somewhere that is capable of producing within its environment something that we would call 'steel'.

3) Given the propensity of asteroids to hurl material off planets, and that the Earth has been round the entire galaxy 18 times since it was formed, and the universe itself existed for 9 billion years before that, we could have material from bizarre exoplanets right here in our own solar system. There's been more than long enough for this to happen.

Thus the whole argument about materials 'of non human origin' signifying aliens is complete nonsense, as we need to eliminate a huge number of other perfectly natural possibilities first.
 
Thus the whole argument about materials 'of non human origin' signifying aliens is complete nonsense, as we need to eliminate a huge number of other perfectly natural possibilities first.
I'd say that would apply to remotely detected materials as well... a recent example being the Phosphine Detected at Venus kerfuffle that NASA got embroiled in. (Phosphine, possibly a product of life, was detected, then not detected and, last time I looked, maybe detected again in the atmosphere of Venus.)
 
I'd say that would apply to remotely detected materials as well... a recent example being the Phosphine Detected at Venus kerfuffle that NASA got embroiled in. (Phosphine, possibly a product of life, was detected, then not detected and, last time I looked, maybe detected again in the atmosphere of Venus.)
Agreed. The inconclusive results from the Mars biology tests on the 1970's Viking landers should have served as fair warning that nature can concoct some pretty strange chemistry without consulting us first.
For those too young to remember here's the wiki summary - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viking_lander_biological_experiments
 
Thus the whole argument about materials 'of non human origin' signifying aliens is complete nonsense, as we need to eliminate a huge number of other perfectly natural possibilities first.
Reinforcing this, we must also remember that even a large number of rocket scientists and navy pilots saying "this is an unknown material to us" doesn't make the material alien when there's even just a single dentist saying "we use this all the time". "Unknown to science" is often used as a lazy shortcut to mean "unknown to a large number of people in a very small field of science". Information-theoretically, you'd expect broad consensus from people all in the same field, there isn't the weight in numbers that people like to think if they are not specifically experts in a relevant field. Of course, the origin of the error would be in the presumption that it might be an alien craft in the first place, and then running off to only rocket scientists and navy pilots for opinions on it, when finding an expert on amalgams or catalysts or superconductors or slag could have been the quicker route to the correct answer. (Contrast that against how the actually-scientifically-curious NASA has shipped samples of Bennu grit from Osiris-Rex far and wide to get the broadest possible input - it'd be surprised if it wasn't dozens of laboratories worldwide, as it's at least 4 in the UK, and more in the US - as each can do their own independent analysis.)
 
Agreed. The inconclusive results from the Mars biology tests on the 1970's Viking landers should have served as fair warning that nature can concoct some pretty strange chemistry without consulting us first.
For those too young to remember here's the wiki summary - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viking_lander_biological_experiments

Can you please include some of the webpage you cite, so that we don't need to follow links, and also to protect everyone against the changeability of the external internet? (This is called the "no click policy" in the posting guidelines: "The reader should not have to click on a link in order to understand what the post is about" - https://www.metabunk.org/threads/metabunks-link-policy.5158/ .)
 
Can you please include some of the webpage you cite, so that we don't need to follow links, and also to protect everyone against the changeability of the external internet? (This is called the "no click policy" in the posting guidelines: "The reader should not have to click on a link in order to understand what the post is about" - https://www.metabunk.org/threads/metabunks-link-policy.5158/ .)
My apologies. I didn't get that I needed to post a teaser so I paraphrased. I can't edit the post any longer, but here is a relevant summation:
"Despite the positive result from the Labeled Release experiment, a general assessment is that the results seen in the four experiments are best explained by oxidative chemical reactions with the Martian soil. One of the current conclusions is that the Martian soil, being continuously exposed to UV light from the Sun (Mars has no protective ozone layer), has built up a thin layer of a very strong oxidant. A sufficiently strong oxidizing molecule would react with the added water to produce oxygen and hydrogen, and with the nutrients to produce carbon dioxide (CO2)."
 
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