Navy UFO Reports and the Laws of Physics

Empiricist

New Member
We know that objects that defy what we know to be true about physics don't exist.
Speaking of nitpicking, the claim as made is false. We know that objects that defy the laws of physics don't exist, but that is a tautology, as the laws of physics encompass everything that exists. We also have a very strong prior that objects cannot exist which defy our current understanding of the laws of physics but we don't know with absolute certainty that our current laws of physics are exhaustive. (I mean, we know for a fact they are not, though not in ways that are relevant to the specific claim being discussed here.)

Even if the odds we are wrong about the laws of physics are incredibly low, I still find it to be hubris to be absolutely certain that objects cannot exist which defy our current understanding of physics. This pattern seems to repeat throughout the history of science.

And to be clear, I do not believe that a real physical object descended 80k feet in less than a second. I'm not arguing against our dismissal of that claim, I just don't think it is appropriate to have absolute certainty that our current understanding of physics cannot be supplemented, or even supplanted, in the future. Collectively that is a mistake that we have made many times.
 

Buckaroo

Member
Speaking of nitpicking, the claim as made is false.
Not in the physical regime we're talking about, it isn't. Physical models are incomplete, but this is a problem only at the bleeding edge of physics, and any new models must necessarily reduce to our current models within the regime of "normal" physics. If an observed phenomenon appears to contradict established principles of physics within the regime, then the explanation is a flaw in the observation, not the reality of the phenomenon.

Even if the odds we are wrong about the laws of physics are incredibly low, I still find it to be hubris to be absolutely certain that objects cannot exist which defy our current understanding of physics.
This is a philosophical problem, not a practical one. It understates the situation to say that the odds are "incredibly low." The odds are in fact so low that in any practical or meaningful sense they are zero, like the odds of a bowling ball quantum-tunneling through a brick wall. The residual philosophical uncertainty can be safely neglected.
 
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Mauro

Active Member
Speaking of nitpicking, the claim as made is false. We know that objects that defy the laws of physics don't exist, but that is a tautology, as the laws of physics encompass everything that exists. We also have a very strong prior that objects cannot exist which defy our current understanding of the laws of physics but we don't know with absolute certainty that our current laws of physics are exhaustive. (I mean, we know for a fact they are not, though not in ways that are relevant to the specific claim being discussed here.)

Even if the odds we are wrong about the laws of physics are incredibly low, I still find it to be hubris to be absolutely certain that objects cannot exist which defy our current understanding of physics. This pattern seems to repeat throughout the history of science.

And to be clear, I do not believe that a real physical object descended 80k feet in less than a second. I'm not arguing against our dismissal of that claim, I just don't think it is appropriate to have absolute certainty that our current understanding of physics cannot be supplemented, or even supplanted, in the future. Collectively that is a mistake that we have made many times.
I'm very much hopeful "our current understanding of physics will be supplemented, or even supplanted, in the future" but I really doubt we'll ever find a means to circumvent the most basic principles (i.e. inertia, various conservation laws, 2nd law of thermodynamics.. a long list, in effect): to be able to do it would simply be 'too good to be true'. So I think too that an object that defys those laws cannot exist, just as a perpetual motion machine cannot possibly exist. This may very well be hubris, but it could also be humility: the recognition that there are limits to what can possibly be done and that these limits do not care about our human hopes and desires. I'd love interstellar travel to be possible, so I'd love an alien spaceship to be seen, but I humbly recognize, on the basis of our current, and with every probability, future understanding of physics, that the human race is stuck to this planet in the very best case for 500 million years more when the Sun will have evaporated all the water off. How could I 'proudly' recognize this?
 

Empiricist

New Member
... but I really doubt we'll ever find a means to circumvent the most basic principles (i.e. inertia, various conservation laws, 2nd law of thermodynamics.. a long list, in effect): to be able to do it would simply be 'too good to be true'. So I think too that an object that defys those laws cannot exist, just as a perpetual motion machine cannot possibly exist.
Well, I am much more strongly in agreement here, and I don't believe I would make this argument if the claim were something like "exceeded the speed of light". But the claims than an object "accelerated, moved 80k feet in one second, and decelerated" do not violate any of the "hard laws" like the ones you gave as examples. But even then, as I mentioned, I wasn't defending the plausibility of that specific claim.

It makes sense that we would agree not to bother spending our time evaluating possibilities that are vanishingly small, and I am in complete agreement there. The argument I was trying to make is a more general argument that I don't think it is ideal to have infinitely strong priors about anything. One of the definitions of skepticism is: "the doctrine that true knowledge or knowledge in a particular area is uncertain". I am a skeptic, and I am unwilling to make absolute claims of knowledge on any topic. On the other hand, I am happy to claim a high degree of confidence about many things, or to see others make such claims.

Physical models are incomplete, but this is a problem only at the bleeding edge of physics
Our complete lack of understanding of why the universe is expanding at an accelerating rate is a pretty major unresolved question - one of the type that may still reveal major new physics. So are things like baryon asymmetry or even (to challenge the sacred cow, materialism) the hard problem of consciousness. You may feel very confident that the answers to those mysteries couldn't possibly be relevant to the issues at hand, nor imply that there may be ways to perform actions which appear to break the laws of physics as we understand them, but that's the exact topic on which, while I find the odds very very low, I still find substantially higher than "in any practical or meaningful sense [...] zero". And to be clear, I'm not suggesting that I believe that the linked things are directly related to the issues at hand, though they hypothetically could be, just pointing out there are some major aspects of our universe that we still don't understand, and as such I'm not personally willing to make claims of certainty regarding the physical laws of the universe. I wouldn't have posted if you said "it isn't worth discussing the possibility of an object which violates physics as we know them" rather than "We know that objects that defy what we know to be true about physics don't exist.". This might seem like a pointless difference to you, but I really do think it is meaningful.

I can make a separate thread if you feel there is anything here worth discussing further so as not to derail this one.
 

Mauro

Active Member
Well, I am much more strongly in agreement here, and I don't believe I would make this argument if the claim were something like "exceeded the speed of light". But the claims than an object "accelerated, moved 80k feet in one second, and decelerated" do not violate any of the "hard laws" like the ones you gave as examples.

Moving 80kft in one second, starting and ending with zero speed, requires an acceleration of about 100000 m/s2, or about 10000 g. Top speed will be about 50 km/s, or about 180000 km/h [I'm supposing the object accelerates uniformly for the first 40kft in 0.5 seconds, then decelerates uniformly for 40 more kft in the remaining 0.5 seconds, to keep the accelaration to a minimum. Changing the acceleration profile will reduce the top speed at the price of more acceleration, and it will make the math a lot more complicated].

I agree with you that this does not violate any hard law, but I cannot possibly see how anything macroscopic could ever do that without leaving any other trace at all than a radar track: it would have made a sonic boom to be heard kilometers and kilometers away and a hard-to-miss fireball of superheated gases (and some big waves too, I guess). I cannot also possibly see how anything organized (a complex living being, a computer, a machine) could survive after a 10000g acceleration.

To sum it up: in my opinion, the object as described is not as unphysical in the same sense as, say, a perpetual motion machine, but it's at least orders of magnitude more unphysical than, say, a generation starship (hypothetical type of interstellar ark starship that travels at sub-light speed). That's unphysical enough, for me, to consider it impossible it was a real object.

But even then, as I mentioned, I wasn't defending the plausibility of that specific claim.
I noticed that. My main reason to answer your post was to point out that a case can be made for refuting the existence of 'unphysical objects as far as we know' being due to humility, instead than hubris. I was actually little interested in the specific claim, too out of this world to deserve much consideration imho, but well at least you spurred me to make the calculations above (I hope I got them right lol xD).

I can make a separate thread if you feel there is anything here worth discussing further so as not to derail this one
I don't think we need a separate thread, after all it seems we agree on almost everything except the exact point where 'physical' ends and 'unphysical' begins (and the hubris thing xD). A discussion would be quite interesting and probably enjoyable but it's not in the Metabunk mission I think.
 
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Mike Miker

New Member
It's hardly nitpicking. We know that objects that defy what we know to be true about physics don't exist. We also know that eyewitness testimony is notoriously unreliable. It's difficult to overstate just how malleable human perception and memory actually is, and there's a whole literature describing the psychology. So the parsimonious explanation is psychological, not Fortean. That old cliche from Sherlock Holmes cuts both ways.

I've not heard anyone claim that Fravor, Dietrich, or Day are being dishonest, or that their memory is any shoddier than any other average person. (Elizondo, on the other hand...)
Speaking of nitpicking, the claim as made is false. We know that objects that defy the laws of physics don't exist, but that is a tautology, as the laws of physics encompass everything that exists. We also have a very strong prior that objects cannot exist which defy our current understanding of the laws of physics but we don't know with absolute certainty that our current laws of physics are exhaustive. (I mean, we know for a fact they are not, though not in ways that are relevant to the specific claim being discussed here.)

Even if the odds we are wrong about the laws of physics are incredibly low, I still find it to be hubris to be absolutely certain that objects cannot exist which defy our current understanding of physics. This pattern seems to repeat throughout the history of science.

And to be clear, I do not believe that a real physical object descended 80k feet in less than a second. I'm not arguing against our dismissal of that claim, I just don't think it is appropriate to have absolute certainty that our current understanding of physics cannot be supplemented, or even supplanted, in the future. Collectively that is a mistake that we have made many times.
Empiricist, could you clarify what laws of physics the descent of a physical object through 80,000 ft/sec would necessarily have defied?
 

Mike Miker

New Member
Very interesting, I have no experience with radars but this looks possible (and it is consistent with the 'software glitch' idea: the echoes tricked the software which then produced the strange descending behaviour). Whatever the exact reason, we can anyway be pretty sure that the 'target' (if there ever was one to start with) was 'never observed actually descending'. As described, the descent was so outlandish and unphysical that we can safely rule it out it ever happened.
This purported descent may indeed not have occurred. But why would the the rate of descent in itself be in-principle unachievable by some physical means?
 

Mike Miker

New Member
I'm very much hopeful "our current understanding of physics will be supplemented, or even supplanted, in the future" but I really doubt we'll ever find a means to circumvent the most basic principles (i.e. inertia, various conservation laws, 2nd law of thermodynamics.. a long list, in effect): to be able to do it would simply be 'too good to be true'. So I think too that an object that defys those laws cannot exist, just as a perpetual motion machine cannot possibly exist. This may very well be hubris, but it could also be humility: the recognition that there are limits to what can possibly be done and that these limits do not care about our human hopes and desires. I'd love interstellar travel to be possible, so I'd love an alien spaceship to be seen, but I humbly recognize, on the basis of our current, and with every probability, future understanding of physics, that the human race is stuck to this planet in the very best case for 500 million years more when the Sun will have evaporated all the water off. How could I 'proudly' recognize this?
I keep seeing statements to the effect that the alleged descent defies the laws of physics and here some general physics terms are mentioned. I would like to see a detailed exposition with calculations as it is not immediately obvious to me that there is a necessarily a fundamental breach of known physical principles implied by the descent. Neither is it clear that interstellar travel is impossible within our present understandings, although it would not look like "Star Trek". Humans already have an object in interstellar space incidental to planetary exploration, and there are feasible plans to deliberately send devices both to to interstellar regions and other star systems. It has been estimated that the galaxy could be fully colonized in several million years by a star-faring civilization that could achieve just 10% of light speed and hop from star system to star-system. Although there is neither incontrovertible nor compelling evidence in support of it at this time, to be truly impartial, one should not discount the extra-terrestrial hypothesis a priori.
 

Empiricist

New Member
Empiricist, could you clarify what laws of physics the descent of a physical object through 80,000 ft/sec would necessarily have defied?
I'm not sure if you got me mixed up with another user, but I didn't claim that an object that performs such a maneuver is in violation of any of the "hard" laws of physics. On the other hand, as Mauro pointed out, an object behaving in such a way would be expected to generate an enormous amount of sound (from the sonic boom) and light (from the super-heating of atmospheric gases it passes through).

So to summarize the reasons why such a claim is extraordinarily unlikely:
  1. Such an object must also have novel technology or physics which allows it to travel so quickly through the atmosphere without a sonic boom or super-heating atmospheric gases to the point of visibility
  2. To accelerate to 80k ft/s and stop again in .78 seconds, even if you assume the object is only 200 pounds, requires a power output of 69.15 gigawatts, if it were 100% efficient at power generation. That means that such a craft must be able to generate 17.5 times as much power as the largest nuclear power plant in the United States. And not just generate that much energy, but generate it in such a way that it doesn't create huge amounts of waste heat that it would have to radiate away somehow. The craft must also have the structural integrity to survive 10000gs of acceleration.
Such a craft basically by necessity requires the existence of new physics, as it's easier to imagine such things being possible using some entirely new physical paradigm (e.g. extra-dimensional travel, space-time manipulation, or other handwavey voodoo) rather than that such a craft could be constructed within our current paradigms.

What are the odds of such a craft actually existing, versus the radar returns being explained by one of the following:
  1. The results of electronic warfare
  2. Simulated results due to some sort of exercise/testing
  3. A system glitch
  4. Confabulation in the recollection of the event
It appears that most people here have not argued that this specific claim is absolutely impossible (perhaps with the exception of Buckaroo) - just that it requires so many extraordinarily unlikely things to be true simultaneously that without stronger evidence for the existence of such an object it isn't worth spending much effort bothering to address that specific claim.
 
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Mauro

Active Member
This purported descent may indeed not have occurred. But why would the the rate of descent in itself be in-principle unachievable by some physical means?
I gave an answer somewhere else (too many threads around to be sure where), but I'm expanding on that.

Some numbers first: considering an object moving ~80kft in one second, the bare minimum speed is 80kft/s or ~ 26.67 km/s (about Mach 78). This would need an infinite acceleration at the starting and ending points of the trajectory, but we can calculate also the minimum possible acceleration, which turns out to be a tad higher than 10000g and gives a peak speed in excess of 50 km/s (see Note 1). They are huge numbers.

1) There's no way something macroscopic can move that fast in air without a big sonic boom and a big fireball (I cannot put numbers on 'big', sorry, but just think 26.67 km/s is a typical entry speed for a meteor hitting Earth).
2) Conservation of momentum (accelerating): for each kilogram of mass going from zero to 26.67 km/s (very best case), another kilogram must go from zero to 26.7 km/s in the opposite direction (or half a kilogram must go from zero to 53.4 km/s, and so on). This should be pretty noticeable (fireball again, directed upwards), unless the mass of the object was negligible.
3) Conservation of momentum (decelerating): same as before, but this time the fireball is directed downwards, towards the ocean surface.
4) How did the object get the ~355 megajoule/kg of kinetic energy (at 26.67 km/s, very best case) without emitting any heat? And notice the energy needed to compress and push away a 26.6km high column of atmosphere needs yet to be factored in.
5) Where did those 355 megajoule/kg (very best case) go when the object decelerated to zero speed, yet again without leaving any traces (heat)?
6) Surviving a minimum acceleration (very best case) of 10000g for 1 second total looks very improbable to me. I'm not sure, maybe a bacterium or a tardigrade could, but surely an human being would be squished to jelly. An artillery shell could withstand that (but I doubt the fuze could, one second is a very long time at 10000g), but surely a complex piece of machinery cannot.


Note 1: the minimum acceleration has been calculated by assuming the object accelerated uniformly for the first 40kft of the descend, then decelerated uniformly to zero speed in the remaining 40kft.

Edit: I see now Empiricist already gave an answer on the same general lines. I wholly agree with him
 

JMartJr

Active Member
...an object behaving in such a way would be expected to generate an enormous amount of sound (from the sonic boom) and light (from the super-heating of atmospheric gases it passes through).

This seems to me to be worth stressing. A hypothetical super advanced craft can have all sorts of advanced and unknown technology -- but the air is still good old Air 1.0, does not have any high-tech add-ons, and will still move in response to an object moving through it. At those speeds, air is going to have to move (compress, get thrust aside, move back in after the object passes, and whatever else I'm forgetting) and, at those speeds, the way the air reacts is going to be VERY noticeable, audibly and visually.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
This seems to me to be worth stressing. A hypothetical super advanced craft can have all sorts of advanced and unknown technology -- but the air is still good old Air 1.0, does not have any high-tech add-ons, and will still move in response to an object moving through it. At those speeds, air is going to have to move (compress, get thrust aside, move back in after the object passes, and whatever else I'm forgetting) and, at those speeds, the way the air reacts is going to be VERY noticeable, audibly and visually.
The theory proposed to explain this is some kind of space warp. Basically magic.
 

Buckaroo

Member
The theory proposed to explain this is some kind of space warp. Basically magic.
And even in the case of a "space warp," there would necessarily be interaction with the medium in which the "warp" is embedded, at the boundary between "warp" and "non-warp." There must always be an interface that is subject to conventional physics.
 

Ravi

Active Member
And even in the case of a "space warp," there would necessarily be interaction with the medium in which the "warp" is embedded, at the boundary between "warp" and "non-warp." There must always be an interface that is subject to conventional physics.
Inertia, drag, friction and together with high velocities, will indeed spoil any fun.
 

JMartJr

Active Member
The theory proposed to explain this is some kind of space warp. Basically magic.
Yeah, but even there, you have air collapsing into where you warped from, and being instantly expelled from where you warp into. Unless more magic. I admit that the technology of magic Space Warps is beyond me, but it is still interacting with good ol' Air1.0 with no super tech upgrades. :)
 

Mike Miker

New Member
I gave an answer somewhere else (too many threads around to be sure where), but I'm expanding on that.

Some numbers first: considering an object moving ~80kft in one second, the bare minimum speed is 80kft/s or ~ 26.67 km/s (about Mach 78). This would need an infinite acceleration at the starting and ending points of the trajectory, but we can calculate also the minimum possible acceleration, which turns out to be a tad higher than 10000g and gives a peak speed in excess of 50 km/s (see Note 1). They are huge numbers.

1) There's no way something macroscopic can move that fast in air without a big sonic boom and a big fireball (I cannot put numbers on 'big', sorry, but just think 26.67 km/s is a typical entry speed for a meteor hitting Earth).
2) Conservation of momentum (accelerating): for each kilogram of mass going from zero to 26.67 km/s (very best case), another kilogram must go from zero to 26.7 km/s in the opposite direction (or half a kilogram must go from zero to 53.4 km/s, and so on). This should be pretty noticeable (fireball again, directed upwards), unless the mass of the object was negligible.
3) Conservation of momentum (decelerating): same as before, but this time the fireball is directed downwards, towards the ocean surface.
4) How did the object get the ~355 megajoule/kg of kinetic energy (at 26.67 km/s, very best case) without emitting any heat? And notice the energy needed to compress and push away a 26.6km high column of atmosphere needs yet to be factored in.
5) Where did those 355 megajoule/kg (very best case) go when the object decelerated to zero speed, yet again without leaving any traces (heat)?
6) Surviving a minimum acceleration (very best case) of 10000g for 1 second total looks very improbable to me. I'm not sure, maybe a bacterium or a tardigrade could, but surely an human being would be squished to jelly. An artillery shell could withstand that (but I doubt the fuze could, one second is a very long time at 10000g), but surely a complex piece of machinery cannot.


Note 1: the minimum acceleration has been calculated by assuming the object accelerated uniformly for the first 40kft of the descend, then decelerated uniformly to zero speed in the remaining 40kft.

Edit: I see now Empiricist already gave an answer on the same general lines. I wholly agree with him
So what I asked is can you cite a fundamental law of physics being defied and I believe you have not. Churchill's technical advisor was asked his opinion about an alleged German rocket that could purportedly strike England from well within the continent. He performed very sound analysis and concluded it was not possible. The main problem was he did not consider a liquid fueled rocket as a possibility. This all represents issues of engineering (certainly extreme by present standards) not fundamental issues that defy known physics such as exceeding the speed of light. SSTs that can travel over continental area without making a sonic boom are presently under development for instance. Braking that would have made a drum glow red with heat once can now be converted to energy by electromagnetic means and stored as useful energy. If there is even a single other technological, space-faring civilization in the galaxy, it would be as likely that it is millions of years ahead of us as thousands. Imagining that you can wave off the possible mastery of matter and energy that such a civilization could have with a few very trivial engineering calculations and assumptions goes well beyond hubris. If you are going to consider the possibilities and not dismiss them apriori, then you have to consider we might be confronted by technologies that are presently beyond imagining.
 

Mike Miker

New Member
I'm not sure if you got me mixed up with another user, but I didn't claim that an object that performs such a maneuver is in violation of any of the "hard" laws of physics. On the other hand, as Mauro pointed out, an object behaving in such a way would be expected to generate an enormous amount of sound (from the sonic boom) and light (from the super-heating of atmospheric gases it passes through).

So to summarize the reasons why such a claim is extraordinarily unlikely:
  1. Such an object must also have novel technology or physics which allows it to travel so quickly through the atmosphere without a sonic boom or super-heating atmospheric gases to the point of visibility
  2. To accelerate to 80k ft/s and stop again in .78 seconds, even if you assume the object is only 200 pounds, requires a power output of 69.15 gigawatts, if it were 100% efficient at power generation. That means that such a craft must be able to generate 17.5 times as much power as the largest nuclear power plant in the United States. And not just generate that much energy, but generate it in such a way that it doesn't create huge amounts of waste heat that it would have to radiate away somehow. The craft must also have the structural integrity to survive 10000gs of acceleration.
Such a craft basically by necessity requires the existence of new physics, as it's easier to imagine such things being possible using some entirely new physical paradigm (e.g. extra-dimensional travel, space-time manipulation, or other handwavey voodoo) rather than that such a craft could be constructed within our current paradigms.

What are the odds of such a craft actually existing, versus the radar returns being explained by one of the following:
  1. The results of electronic warfare
  2. Simulated results due to some sort of exercise/testing
  3. A system glitch
  4. Confabulation in the recollection of the event
It appears that most people here have not argued that this specific claim is absolutely impossible (perhaps with the exception of Buckaroo) - just that it requires so many extraordinarily unlikely things to be true simultaneously that without stronger evidence for the existence of such an object it isn't worth spending much effort bothering to address that specific claim.
Forgive me I was mixed up and confused by this "We know that objects that defy the laws of physics don't exist" in the overall context. I think the point is that if you are going to countenance the extraterrestrial hypothesis at all then you do have to consider Clarkeian "magic" technology as a possibility. It is reasonable to posit how the observations might be flawed, but I respectfully suggest it is pointless to apply contemporary notions of engineering mathematics to dismiss the claim that something could be an artifact of a civilization perhaps millions of years in advance of us technologically. When you can look up the effective air coefficient of friction of an alien "Tic-tac" craft travelling at 100,000m/s in a manual, then by all means proceed with your sums and they would then amount to more than "pencil wavy". So I agree that it is not worthwhile to pursue that by way of debunkery, but then I did not and you did. But neither is it scientifically reasonable to simply discard observations that don't favour your preferred hypotheses.

As for the "probability" excursion, I was not addressing anything about probabilities, only the question of a breach of known physics. I myself am only able to perform meaningful probabilistic calculations on things I can assign probabilities to. Depending on your assumptions, one might reasonably conclude anything from that we are alone in the cosmos to all intents and purposes, to that we should be surrounded by technological civilizations. I guess that the probability in general of any individual account being due to an alien craft is less (maybe much less) than 99% but it is certainly more than zero (maybe only infinitesimally but maybe not). Purely on a probabilistic basis I can discount all such claims as "unlikely" without considering them further. I can assign a numeric probability to your alternative postulates (that you have explained in no great technical detail) with about as much confidence as I can the ET hypothesis i.e. somewhere between 99 and 100% probability that they are wrong in any particular instance. Now if you can attribute actual numbers to all those alternative postulates and present the numbers then you can talk about this with mathematical meaning and not just express a prejudice dressed as a scientific argument.
 
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Empiricist

New Member
I think the point is that if you are going to countenance the extraterrestrial hypothesis at all then you do have to consider Clarkeian "magic" technology as a possibility.

Funny enough, my estimate of the probability that there is indeed a real phenomenon occurring is probably quite a bit higher than most other users of this forum, and I certainly don't completely write off the possibility a priori like some others here. But I didn't arrive at my beliefs because one particular person made a claim about an object accelerating to 80k feet in one second within the atmosphere. If your standard for evidence is "one person made this claim from their memory of an event 15+ years ago" than you wind up having to consider all sorts of specious claims. You are willing to go to extreme lengths to try and find ways to justify the possibility of this specific claim, but that seems to be because you have already decided that the extraterrestrial hypothesis is correct. Even if it were correct, I think it's important to remember that in addition to whatever true claims are made about such a phenomenon, there would also be lots of false claims made.

Perhaps more importantly, the rules of this forum are that it is for debunking specific claims of evidence, not discussing broader theories. I actually am interested in the later as well, but you should bring that line of discussion over to the sub-forum where it is allowed. Maybe in this thread.
 
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Mike Miker

New Member
The theory proposed to explain this is some kind of space warp. Basically magic.
Mick, in the unlikely event that evidence was presented that did convince you of the ET hypothesis, would you then become a believer in magic?

https://www.sciencealert.com/engineers-have-proposed-the-first-model-for-a-physical-warp-drive

Maybe sometime in the next million years there is a working prototype, who knows.

Out of my hat some other theories: the craft changes shape to become needle-like and manipulates the air around and ahead of it by ionizing and cunningly manipulating the particles electromagnetically to smoothly and progressively part and close behind. Maybe it is some kind of holographic projection which utilizes the atoms in the region it occupies as part of its mechanism and does not actually move the matter, in which case it could even appear to travel faster than light.

I respectfully suggest that trying to debunk by way of ridiculing purported "hyperpertechnological" capability as infeasible is silly, because evidence of that capability is precisely what would lend weight to the ET hypothesis, neither is resort to ridicule becoming of an impartial and unbiased examiner of evidence. It only makes sense to critique the quality and credibility of the evidence.
 

Mike Miker

New Member
Funny enough, my estimate of the probability that there is indeed a real phenomenon occurring is probably quite a bit higher than most other users of this forum, and I certain don't completely write off the possibility a priori like some others here. But I didn't arrive at my beliefs because one particular person made a claim about an object accelerating to 80k feet in one second within the atmosphere. If your standard for evidence is "one person made this claim from their memory of an event 15+ years ago" than you wind up having to consider all sorts of specious claims. You are willing to go to extreme lengths to try and find ways to justify the possibility of this specific claim, but that seems to be because you have already decided that the extraterrestrial hypothesis is correct. Even if it were correct, I think it's important to remember that in addition to whatever true claims are made about such a phenomenon, there would also be lots of false claims made.

Perhaps more importantly, the rules of this forum are that it is for debunking specific claims of evidence, not discussing broader theories. I actually am interested in the later as well, but you should bring that line of discussion over to the sub-forum where it is allowed. Maybe in this post.
I am not speaking to support of any hypothesis, only to the soundness of the thinking behind the debunking and the substance of argumentation that is directed not against evidence but against the hypothesis itself. Do you see my point? My point is that it is the quality and credibility evidence that one can assess fairly and rationally and that is what should be spoken to. In that way you would not be lead inevitably to this kind of discussion. After all, I only started by questioning if a known fundamental physical limit of physics was actually being breached as seems to be more or less implied by some posts. It is worth us all reflecting on our prejudices and the limitations of our knowledge or we can be as bad in some way as those credulous we'd hope to act as counterpoise to.
 

JMartJr

Active Member
Even if it were correct, I think it's important to remember that in addition to whatever true claims are made about such a phenomenon, there would also be lots of false claims made.
I have never seen that concept stated so clearly and succunctly, and have made a note. Of course applies more broadly than just the ET hypothesis, or even just to hypotheses regarding UFOs. It is not a retreat from a position to decline to believe and defend every claim made that would seem to support it.

Thanks for posting that.
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
only to the soundness of the thinking behind the debunking and the substance of argumentation that is directed not against evidence but against the hypothesis itself. Do you see my point? My point is that it is the quality and credibility evidence that one can assess fairly and rationally and that is what should be spoken to.
You said "evidence" twice in this statement. Imagination is the opposite of evidence. If you are going to hypothesize creatively, i personally think it's fair game for others respond creatively.
 

Buckaroo

Member
Mathematical physicists have proposed a *mathematical* model for a physical warp drive.

That's nothing. Mathematicians have proposed a model of a sphere which when cut into 5 pieces and reassembled, forms a sphere twice the size of the original with no gaps.
Not to mention that there are many solutions to problems of applied mathematics that are considered "non-physical" because they make no sense in physical reality, and are immediately rejected in favor of the "physical" solutions. Mathematical soundness is no guarantee of physical possibility.
 
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Buckaroo

Member
My point is that it is the quality and credibility evidence that one can assess fairly and rationally and that is what should be spoken to.
That's the primary purpose of this forum. In all cases, after analysis the quality and/or credibility of the evidence has been found wanting in the context of exotic explanation. Clarkean "magic" is therefore an overwhelmingly less likely explanation than human fallibility.
 
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Mauro

Active Member
So what I asked is can you cite a fundamental law of physics being defied and I believe you have not. Churchill's technical advisor was asked his opinion about an alleged German rocket that could purportedly strike England from well within the continent. He performed very sound analysis and concluded it was not possible. The main problem was he did not consider a liquid fueled rocket as a possibility. This all represents issues of engineering (certainly extreme by present standards) not fundamental issues that defy known physics such as exceeding the speed of light. SSTs that can travel over continental area without making a sonic boom are presently under development for instance. Braking that would have made a drum glow red with heat once can now be converted to energy by electromagnetic means and stored as useful energy. If there is even a single other technological, space-faring civilization in the galaxy, it would be as likely that it is millions of years ahead of us as thousands. Imagining that you can wave off the possible mastery of matter and energy that such a civilization could have with a few very trivial engineering calculations and assumptions goes well beyond hubris. If you are going to consider the possibilities and not dismiss them apriori, then you have to consider we might be confronted by technologies that are presently beyond imagining.

Of course I cannot cite a fundamental law of physics being defied: in fact, there are objects which can move through air much faster than 26.67 km/s, but they are elementary particles or atoms nuclei, almost point-like and with negligible massless (for this purpose). And there are objects accelerated at more than 10000g, I guess protons in the LHC routinely experience much higher accelerations (I didn't check the numbers, it just looks probable to me).


But a macroscopic object with a movement like the one described, and which leaves only a radar trace and no other signatures, does indeed violate fundamental laws, as I tried to explain in my post:

- Pauli exclusion principle (how did the object pass through the air column, without leaving any trace but the radar track?)
- conservation of momentum (what 'recoiled' when the object was accelerated and decelerated, without leaving any trace but the radar track?)
- conservation of energy (where did it go when the object decelerated, without leaving any trace but the radar track?)
- 2nd principle of thermodynamics (how could the object gain the energy necessary to accelerate, without any waste heat?)

- how did anything macroscopic and complex survived the acceleration? I agree material science is not as fundamental as conservation of energy or momentum, but unfortunately it needs to be reckoned with too


Imagining that you can wave off the possible mastery of matter and energy that such a civilization could have with a few very trivial engineering calculations and assumptions goes well beyond hubris. If you are going to consider the possibilities and not dismiss them apriori, then you have to consider we might be confronted by technologies that are presently beyond imagining.
This is the second time in this thread that I've been told my position represents 'hubris'. I cannot but quote my previous answer:
This may very well be hubris, but it could also be humility: the recognition that there are limits to what can possibly be done and that these limits do not care about our human hopes and desires. I'd love interstellar travel to be possible, so I'd love an alien spaceship to be seen, but I humbly recognize, on the basis of our current, and with every probability, future understanding of physics, that the human race is stuck to this planet in the very best case for 500 million years more when the Sun will have evaporated all the water off. How could I 'proudly' recognize this?

I'd like to expand a little on this, and I apologize because I'm violating the 'debunking specific claims' Metabunk rule.

I think a root problem here is a fundamental misconception of science: science (unfortunately) does not tell us that we can go beyond the limits (like German engineers did with their liquid-fueled V-2). On the contrary, it teaches us that we (and any other being in the universe) have very serious fundamental limits: we cannot get energy for free, thus we cannot go to the stars in any reasonable amount of time (the light speed limit is the last of our problems in this respect). The Sun will not shine comfortably forever, thus we are doomed not just as single human beings, which alas is bad already, but as a race altogether. This scientific 'sad truth' is very unpleasant, I know, so it's pretty natural to stick to the 'hopeful lie' that alien spaceships visit Earth, because this would demonstrate those limits do not exist and so we can, after all, live forever (as a race, at least).
 
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Empiricist

New Member
- conservation of momentum (what 'recoiled' when the object was accelerated and decelerated, without leaving any trace but the radar track?)
- conservation of energy (where did it go when the object decelerated, without leaving any trace but the radar track?)
I hate to seem like I'm actually defending the plausibility of this claim, because I find it incredibly unlikely, but I was thinking about this the last several days wondering if there are any ways to get around these issues without violating physics. At least for these two specific issues, I don't see those being hard limits. A craft which is able to directly convert mass into neutrino-based propulsion avoids both of the quoted issues. And while it might not be plausible, it isn't just total imagination, and a theoretical basis for it exists:

An exotic spacecraft propulsion technology is described which exploits parity violation in weak interactions. Anisotropic neutrino emission from a polarized assembly of weakly interacting particles converts rest mass directly to spacecraft impulse.

- 2nd principle of thermodynamics (how could the object gain the energy necessary to accelerate, without any waste heat?)
Even this one doesn't seem to be directly violated. We primarily use heat engines of various forms to turn chemical and nuclear energy into electric energy, but unless I've majorly misremembered my physics lessons, there is no rule that heat must be released when converting energy/mass from one form into another. That the entropy must increase, certainly, but not that there must be heat.

- Pauli exclusion principle (how did the object pass through the air column, without leaving any trace but the radar track?)
I think this is the strongest argument against this claim.

Regardless, Mike Miker, we can never prove without a shadow of doubt that one of our debunking explanations for a given event is 100 percent certain to be true. But when there is a prosaic explanation that doesn't strongly imply either the violation of physics as we know it or Clarkian "magic", that's the explanation that is overwhelmingly more likely to be correct. We could play this game of "maybe it could indeed be [whatever phenomenon] given [incredible unlikely set of circumstances] but that isn't a sound way to reason about things.
 
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Amber Robot

Active Member
The problem I’m having is that we are presented with only saturated images of unresolved sources and eyewitness oral testimony. That’s just not enough to even begin contemplating the nature of the phenomena in an independent manner. We would need actual sensor data at the very least.
 

FatPhil

Active Member
Even this one doesn't seem to be directly violated. We primarily use heat engines of various forms to turn chemical and nuclear energy into electric energy, but unless I've majorly misremembered my physics lessons, there is no rule that heat must be released when converting energy/mass from one form into another. That the entropy must increase, certainly, but not that there must be heat.

With the compression of the air as it is pushed out of the way by the vessel, heating is surely unavoidable? (Of the air and the craft itself.)

For me the strongest "it's impossible" argument is the conservation of momentum one - what particles of what mass are being released such that momentum is being conserved (I am prepared to make things easy and pretend that any air magically gets out of the the way symmetrically with no friction, to make it easier for a craft to work - or to imagine a sperical craft in a vacuum, or to imagine an infinitesimally thin craft, chose your abstraction, it matters not for the momentum argument), and what energy must these particles be carrying by virtue of that velocity? No matter what mass you chose of normal matter, they'd be acting in a domain that should be very obvious. Where are the reports of radio/IR/visible/UV/X/gamma rays, the EMPs, or what have you?
 

Empiricist

New Member
With the compression of the air as it is pushed out of the way by the vessel, heating is surely unavoidable? (Of the air and the craft itself.)
It sure seems unavoidable to me - I can't come up with any explanation which avoids heating. But the heat from the movement in the atmosphere is a separate issue than the heat from the energy/propulsion generation, which seems to be at least theoretically solvable.

For me the strongest "it's impossible" argument is the conservation of momentum one - what particles of what mass are being released such that momentum is being conserved?

I addressed this in my last post, and there is at least one possibility, if we're trying to find explanations that make this in the realm of the not-completely-impossible: neutrinos. That post has a linked publication discussing the theoretical possibility of using neutrinos for spacecraft propulsion.
 
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Mauro

Active Member
I addressed this in my last post, and there is at least one possibility, if we're trying to find explanations that make this in the realm of the not-completely-impossible: neutrinos. That post has a linked publication discussing the theoretical possibility of using neutrinos for spacecraft propulsion.
I agree that if the momentum was carried away by neutrinos they may have been undetectable, given they interact very little with matter. The only possible objection I can think of is that the flux density should have been enormous to achieve enough acceleration, and possibily such a flux could have some easily noticeable effect. At nose I'd say this objection does not hold, but I have really no clue.

Well, at least it seems we are making progress in reverse-engineering the mysterious spaceship ;): it's estabilished the only possible reaction mass which it could use and go undetected is neutrinos (but dark matter would be an even better choice!).

As a side note, the article you quote about the neutrino propulsion has a reading fee of 5$, much more than I wish to spend to check what it actually says (I would gladly read it were it free).
 

Empiricist

New Member
As a side note, the article you quote about the neutrino propulsion has a reading fee of 5$, much more than I wish to spend to check what it actually says (I would gladly read it were it free).
I found a free (and legal, AFAICT) link. Even if the specific mechanism described in the paper doesn't apply (as it appears to require the generation of a relatively large amount of heat), it seems to me that using neutrinos as a reaction mass is at least theoretically possible.
 

Mauro

Active Member
Thank you for the link (I then found many more free copies of the article, searching for its title). I could not find online any reference or any discussion at all of the article, much less from a real physicist, and I'm surely not knowledgeable enough to give a judgement: I have no idea if 'parity-violating weak decays' (which is an estabilished fact) can physically generate 'collimated neutrinos in a polarized target', the 'collimated' part being the solution to an otherwise 'untractable' problem of an hypothetical anti-matter photon drive (I readily agree this is an untractable problem).

What I understand is that the author hypothesizes a way to convert a part of the matter / anti-matter annihilation products (the muons) into collimated neutrinos, with a very low efficiency (2.5% 'ideal efficiency estimate': I cannot say I understand what exactly the author means by 'efficiency', but the energy efficiency would be much, much lower than that). The thrust is also low I think, as is usually the case for anti-matter drives, so not really applicable to our case both for the lack of waste heat (which requires efficiencies very close to 100%), as you also notice, and for the low thrust.

But that's not the point of course! I perfectly agree that if a viable method of producing 'enough' collimated neutrinos exists it can be used as a propulsion system, and if it can be done with an energy conversion efficiency nearing 100% it will also be almost untraceable. Just don't point the neutrino beam towards IceCube or Super Kamiokande or even Gran Sasso, switch to axions if you really must :).
 

DavidB66

Active Member
Donald Rumsfeld was often ridiculed for talking about 'known knowns, known unknowns, and unknown unknowns', but we might use a similar threefold classification for the 'laws of physics':

Type 1. established theories. These would include Newton's laws of motion and gravitation (as modified by relativity); the laws of thermodynamics; Maxwell's Equations; Special Relativity; the simpler applications of General Relativity; and Quantum Mechanics. They are 'established' in the sense that they have a wide range of empirically confirmed application. As the example of Newtonian gravitation shows, these 'laws' are not immune to revision, but they are the best we have got, and should not be treated lightly. For example, any proposals that would violate the Second Law of Thermodynamics or Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle have the odds stacked against them.
Type 2. speculative theories. These are theories that go beyond the 'established' ones, that are not yet supported by much empirical evidence, but are not known to be impossible. They would include the 'many-worlds' interpretation of quantum theory; string theory; and various extensions or speculative applications of General Relativity, such as Godel's cosmology or Einstein-Rosen wormholes, about all of which I know approximately nothing.
Type 3. the 'unknown unknowns', about which by definition not much can be said. But a possible example would be the 'hard problem of consciousness', for which we don't really have a hint of a solution, but which might have enormous implications if we did. Scientists like Eddington and Schrodinger start to muse about these things when they are old enough not to worry about ridicule.

The alleged behavior of UFOs/UAPs often appears to violate laws of type 1, such as conservation of momentum, but UFOlogists tend to appeal to theories of type 2 to explain the problems away. Those who combine interest in UFOs with belief in the supernatural or paranormal might fall more into type 3.
 

Empiricist

New Member
Since this discussion has already been separated off into a separate thread...

@DavidB66 - Then you have things like the simulation hypothesis - which is probably not falsifiable, bringing it outside the realm of science. It isn't clear whether that would sort into your type 2 or type 3.

If it were true, it could also be used to explain any "true UFOs" - that "things basically follow the laws of physics in the simulation, but the simulators have the ability to violate those laws". Though I'm not sure that the simulation argument is really anything other than an atheist's version of theism - that there are beings with power far beyond ours that have both created reality and have the ability to manipulate it as they see fit. Either way, I imagine we're all on the same page that there isn't much point discussing non-falsifiable hypotheses.
 

gtoffo

Active Member
What a great and fun thread :)

A lot of interesting comments.

I'll try to add my two cents.

I found this interesting youtube analysis that speculates the observations could be caused by some phenomena in the 4th dimension we are seeing a projection of in the 3rd dimension.
Source: https://youtu.be/a6tDHZj5q5Q?t=851


So what we are seeing could possibly not be a complete view of what is going on.

However the prevailing "theory" I've heard being tossed around is that the "crafts" are basically "moving aside"/"warping" the atoms in the environment without actually interacting with them.

This would cause them to move as the object is passing but would not impart any energy on them.

This would allow them to travel "transmedium" possibly even through solid objects without emitting heat or any other effect.

New physics would be involved to do this of course or some other source of magic.

I say this tongue in cheek but agree with others we should be wary of assuming we have "figured it all out". Several times in history mankind has been rudely reminded of the fact that in the grand scheme of things we are nothing but a bunch of apes only just starting to understand where we are in the universe.

We've only had a couple of million years of evolution in a universe 13.8 billion years old.

What would Galileo say if he saw a nuclear powered submarine? Or what would Einstein think of an iPhone?

We could not yet have the theoretical concepts necessary to comprehend the way those things work.

Curiosity and imagination could help us unlock extraordinary discoveries even if what we are filming today are just lens flares.
 

Empiricist

New Member
I found this interesting youtube analysis that speculates the observations could be caused by some phenomena in the 4th dimension we are seeing a projection of in the 3rd dimension.
I've heard others suggest the hypothesis that these observations are real, and that whatever is observed has such incredible properties because we're only witnessing 3 dimensions of higher-dimensional objects. But I still don't quite follow that hypothesis, as if you think of the flat-lander thought experiment as described in the video, there still is no way for a three dimensional object to appear to move faster in either of the two dimensions in flatland than it actually moves along that dimension, with two exceptions:
  1. The object is long enough that as it passes through the lower-dimensional space, we see a cross-section of an object that is long enough to create the appearance of extraordinarily fast travel. But in the case of the specific claim discussed up-thread, this would require that the object is at least 80k feet long (give or take a little if the object is also moving along the vector of "towards the earth"), and much longer in one dimension than in the other dimensions. (Like an enormous cylinder passing through flatland roughly along its long axis, but with a slight angle such that only a small portion is visible at a time.)
  2. Dimensions are warped. As an example, if you picture flatland as existing along the outer edge of a cylinder, then obviously a small amount of acceleration in the correct direction in 3d space will give the appearance of extraordinary motion in 2d space.
These ideas are hard for me to type up clearly, I could potentially make a video if necessary.

But anyway, I think that if the observations of the type discussed in this thread (80k / second) are real, it implies something far beyond our current knowledge or comprehension, to the point where I feel like the speculation performed earlier in this post is nothing more than idle daydreaming, as I would find it incredibly unlikely that we could begin to understand the operation of such objects (would it even be fair to call them "objects"?) using our current frameworks. The priority, IMO, would be to collect more evidence rather than try to understand them based on the current claims made. But I won't lie, it has been fun to ponder.
 
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SkepticSteve

New Member
@DavidB66 - Then you have things like the simulation hypothesis - which is probably not falsifiable, bringing it outside the realm of science. It isn't clear whether that would sort into your type 2 or type 3.

If it were true, it could also be used to explain any "true UFOs" - that "things basically follow the laws of physics in the simulation, but the simulators have the ability to violate those laws". Though I'm not sure that the simulation argument is really anything other than an atheist's version of theism - that there are beings with power far beyond ours that have both created reality and have the ability to manipulate it as they see fit. Either way, I imagine we're all on the same page that there isn't much point discussing non-falsifiable hypotheses.
The popularity of the simulation hypothesis is a baffling mystery to me. At its core it just feels like ancient superstition was given a more "digital" touch, and now we have now invisible "simulators" hidden in different hierarchies of reality, instead of invisible gods ruling at different levels of hierarchies. Somehow not so different from a tiny teapot spinning cirlces halfway between the moon and earth...

I've heard others suggest the hypothesis that these observations are real, and that whatever is observed has such incredible properties because we're only witnessing 3 dimensions of higher-dimensional objects. But I still don't quite follow that hypothesis, as if you think of the flat-lander thought experiment as described in the video, there still is no way for a three dimensional object to appear to move faster in either of the two dimensions in flatland than it actually moves along that dimension, with two exceptions:

It's a fun hypothesis and mathematical mind game. But I seriously question the reality to of it. Changing our physical models to consider a 4th spatial dimension is many cases as simple as changing a 3 to a 4. The problem however is, that nature then also should take advantage of this degree of freedom. And this means 3d physical models should create predictions which are violated because we have not counted to 4. But they don't. And there is no evidence from over 60 years of experimental high-energy physics that certain elementary particle reactions can only be explained when energy and mass magically disappear in a 4th dimension.
 
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