Search FQXi

If you are aware of an interesting new academic paper (that has been published in a peer-reviewed journal or has appeared on the arXiv), a conference talk (at an official professional scientific meeting), an external blog post (by a professional scientist) or a news item (in the mainstream news media), which you think might make an interesting topic for an FQXi blog post, then please contact us at with a link to the original source and a sentence about why you think that the work is worthy of discussion. Please note that we receive many such suggestions and while we endeavour to respond to them, we may not be able to reply to all suggestions.

Please also note that we do not accept unsolicited posts and we cannot review, or open new threads for, unsolicited articles or papers. Requests to review or post such materials will not be answered. If you have your own novel physics theory or model, which you would like to post for further discussion among then FQXi community, then please add them directly to the "Alternative Models of Reality" thread, or to the "Alternative Models of Cosmology" thread. Thank you.

Forum Home
Terms of Use

Order posts by:
 chronological order
 most recent first

Posts by the blogger are highlighted in orange; posts by FQXi Members are highlighted in blue.

By using the FQXi Forum, you acknowledge reading and agree to abide by the Terms of Use

 RSS feed | RSS help


Thomas Ray: "(reposted in correct thread) Lorraine, Nah. That's nothing like my view...." in 2015 in Review: New...

Lorraine Ford: "Clearly “law-of-nature” relationships and associated numbers represent..." in Physics of the Observer -...

Lee Bloomquist: "Information Channel. An example from Jon Barwise. At the workshop..." in Physics of the Observer -...

Lee Bloomquist: "Please clarify. I just tried to put a simple model of an observer in the..." in Alternative Models of...

Lee Bloomquist: "Footnote...for the above post, the one with the equation existence =..." in Alternative Models of...

Thomas Ray: "In fact, symmetry is the most pervasive physical principle that exists. ..." in “Spookiness”...

Thomas Ray: "It's easy to get wound around the axle with black hole thermodynamics,..." in “Spookiness”...

Joe Fisher: "It seems to have escaped Wolpert’s somewhat limited attention that no two..." in Inferring the Limits on...

click titles to read articles

The Complexity Conundrum
Resolving the black hole firewall paradox—by calculating what a real astronaut would compute at the black hole's edge.

Quantum Dream Time
Defining a ‘quantum clock’ and a 'quantum ruler' could help those attempting to unify physics—and solve the mystery of vanishing time.

Our Place in the Multiverse
Calculating the odds that intelligent observers arise in parallel universes—and working out what they might see.

Sounding the Drums to Listen for Gravity’s Effect on Quantum Phenomena
A bench-top experiment could test the notion that gravity breaks delicate quantum superpositions.

Watching the Observers
Accounting for quantum fuzziness could help us measure space and time—and the cosmos—more accurately.

January 18, 2018

CATEGORY: Blog [back]
TOPIC: The Year Everything Changes [refresh]
Bookmark and Share
Login or create account to post reply or comment.

Blogger William Orem wrote on Dec. 31, 2017 @ 18:38 GMT

Let’s take the lesser extraterrestrial threat first: The New York Times, in the last month of the truly strange 2017, ran a much-attention-getting article on “The Pentagon’s Mysterious UFO Program,” detailing how 22 million of those tax dollars you’re working right now to generate were given to “Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification”—which is to say, flying saucers.

Which is really to say, “Most of the money went to an aerospace research company run by a billionaire entrepreneur and longtime friend of [Senator Harry] Reid’s, Robert Bigelow,” who is “absolutely convinced” aliens exist, and have visited earth—settling one of the biggest foundational issues right there. And, indeed, resolving the Fermi Paradox in the bargain, although—to get sidetracked for a minute—I was reflecting recently on how the Paradox would still exist even in the demonstrable presence of an alien visitation to Earth, because everything we know about stellar evolution, planetary accretion, the evolution of life in habitable zones, the age of the galaxy, and so on, leads to the conclusion that there should not just be one confirmed case of aliens, but lots of them, obvious ones, in every direction. But I digress.

Anyway, UFOs have long been a staple of media outlets where science isn’t, shall we say, a high priority. (Here’s Megyn Kelly asking the foreign desk, in all earnestness, whether a UFO over the Dome of the Rock means Jesus is back.) Even when LGM get mention in credible media, it’s usually a popular interest piece starring the same cast of characters: someone interviewed the good-hearted but gullible Edgar Mitchell; there’s mention of Jimmy Carter having seen something in the sky he couldn’t personally identify at the time, and so on. It’s a bit like the way Francis Collins is always mentioned in articles on how science and religion don’t really conflict, because, you know, Francis Collins.

This article was different. The United States’ DOD itself has been running this Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program for years, and with “black money,” no less; the spending committee that backed it included Reid, Ted Stevens (R, AK) and Daniel Inouye (D, HI); and I suppose the Nimitz video making the year-end rounds may indeed show something important, though it actually looks pretty sketchy as evidence, the aerial equivalent of a Bigfoot sighting. A new generation of Chinese drone? Unidentified, as the article rightly notes, means just that. Despite public enthusiasm, the options are not alien spacecraft or YOU GOT ANY BETTER SUGGESTIONS? In any event, whatever we’re looking at here, I, and clearly a lot of other folks, were intrigued.

Then things get sketchy: “Under Mr. Bigelow’s direction, [Bigelow Aerospace] modified buildings in Las Vegas for the storage of metal alloys and other materials that Mr. Elizondo and program contractors said had been recovered from unidentified aerial phenomena. Researchers also studied people who said they had experienced physical effects from encounters with the objects and examined them for any physiological changes.” ( . . . )

“We’re sort of in the position of what would happen if you gave Leonardo da Vinci a garage-door opener,” said Harold E. Puthoff, an engineer who has conducted research on extrasensory perception for the C.I.A. and later worked as a contractor for the program. “First of all, he’d try to figure out what is this plastic stuff. He wouldn’t know anything about the electromagnetic signals involved or its function.”

Let me just interrupt the responsible reportage here to giggle. Come on, Bigelow Aerospace; no you don’t. I’ll bet 22 million tax-payer dollars right now that the number of tech objects built by aliens in those Las Vegas hangars is exactly zero.

Anyway, the weird eventually takes over altogether. The DOD program was cancelled in 2012 when “It was determined,” according to the Pentagon, “that there were other, higher priority issues that merited funding,” but Mr. Elizondo, a true believer, kept at it. Now he and a few others, including the guitarist from a band called Blink-182, are somehow involved in a “public benefit corporation” called To The Stars Academy of Arts and Sciences that has plans to make great profits for you, investor, and all your investor buddies off alien tech, just invest now!

I admit I can’t quite get my head around To The Stars, but they appear to be FQ(x)’s evil twin. “What if scientists were given resources to investigate the boundaries of traditional theory?” the pop star inquires in their home-page pitch. Hear, hear! I say: FQ(x) has been trying to fill this gap for years. What follows, though, is a puzzling melange of foundational science issues, pseudoscience, actual names evidently associated with the CIA and DOD, and ready-made History Channel filler. Honestly, it’s hard to understand quite *what* this is. The Pyramids at Giza are shown as voice-over describes “mysteries of the universe,” ancient astronauts come into it, and we are told the company’s ambitions include such things as “[pulling together] unified study from religious scholars” and funding “warp drive metrics.” ESP, telepathy—it’s all in there. (“Quantum theorists” get the usual nod, though for some reason they are listed separately from “physicists.”) In any event, with my mysterious powers of precognition, I will now predict the actual scientific output from this venture . . .

But, break my heart, New York Times! I read your article and thought: Is this it? We have talked since I was young, at the dawn of the “space age,” about the tantalizing possibility of visitors—is this what it feels like, the morning of that day when it actually happens? That day when everything changes, and the new year will be truly, profoundly new?

Not yet. Though we did get also get a taste, late in 2017, of just how such a day will likely feel. Someone on the news will say something a lot like this: “It’s definitely from outside our solar system, it’s not shaped in any way you’d expect, indeed it’s cigar-shaped, it has no comet tail, it’s big, it’s bigger than a skyscraper, it’s half a mile long, actually we don’t know what it is . . .”

At the beginning, it wasn’t at all outrageous to wonder whether ‘Oumuamua was something manufactured. (Its name means “forward scout” or “first messenger.”) A generation ship? The planet killer? Lots of people called it Rama, in honor of Arthur C. Clarke’s centennial, but I prefer the Hawaiian name, having just recently been to the beautiful and cold Haleakala Observatory myself (as a tourist). Everyone pointed telescopes, including FQ(x) familiar Avi Loeb, and SETI with the Allen Array: nope, not broadcasting, apparently covered by a foot and half of reddish crust and showing signs of millions of years of cosmic ray bombardment. It’s just (“just”) a truly weirdly shaped piece of planetary debris that happened to be brushing our neighborhood.

So as we ring in the New Year on earth, we wish ‘Oumuamua well on its long flight through the emptiness. That fuzzy video of something being chased by fighter jets left me intrigued, but finally unmoved. But, just for a second, seeing the first artist’s renditions of ‘Oumuamua, I felt myself in the position of a Wampanoag tribesman seeing some kind of impossible ocean-crossing vessel emerge on the horizon, and wondering whether this was it—the moment when everything was about to change.

this post has been edited by the author since its original submission

report post as inappropriate

Joe Fisher wrote on Jan. 1, 2018 @ 13:49 GMT
Dear William Orem,

We know for a fact that the earth had a visible surface for over a million years before any English language fluent man, woman, child, or parrot ever appeared on that surface. It logically follows that Nature must have constructed an eternal reality. The real visible Universe must consist of only one single unified visible INFINITE surface occurring eternally in one single INFINITE dimension that am always illuminated mostly by finite non-surface light. All English language speculation about a finite invisible God, or finite invisible aliens am jolly interesting, but utterly unrealistic.

Joe Fisher, Realist

report post as inappropriate

Jason Mark Wolfe wrote on Jan. 2, 2018 @ 00:40 GMT
There is no reason not to look for UFO's and aliens. The skeptics do the equivalent of saying, there is no other route to India because the Earth is flat. There is no need to send ships across the ocean because they will just fall off the map and be eaten by dragons.

You have an Alcubierre drive idea. What you need is a way to store negative energy in the space around your space craft. What you need is a better understanding of the medium that causes the invariance of the speed of light. Surely you can figure out the trick that nature plays.

report post as inappropriate

Joe Fisher replied on Jan. 2, 2018 @ 16:25 GMT
Dear Jason Mark Wolfe,

Reality consists of only one single unified VISIBLE infinite surface occurring eternally in one single infinite dimension that am always mostly illuminated by finite non-surface light. Multiple finite INVISIBLE aliens could not really have ever existed. If ever gets around to publishing my essay REALITY AM NOT ROCKET SCIENCE, you will be able to learn that the infinite surface of a sphere always appears to every observer as a FLAT, FILLED-IN DISK.

Joe Fisher, Realist

report post as inappropriate

Jason Mark Wolfe replied on Jan. 3, 2018 @ 09:35 GMT
Hi Joe,

To be honest, I don't think we're as far from a superluminal drive as we used to be. The difference between now and maybe a few years ago is that researchers of the Casimir Effect have proven that virtual photons are real existent things. I will speculate that virtual photons have everything that nature needs to define the distance between two points in space: namely, wavelength. Virtual photons have everything that nature needs to make the speed of light invariant, without the need to rely upon just measurements, with no explanation.

If you and others will give me a chance to explain, virtual photons fill all space and are ready to accept energy at any frequency to become a photon. A photon is expected to have a speed of light c, wavelength and a frequency. A virtual photon, actually I would argue that 10^100 virtual photons go unused, and their wavelength and speed of light characteristics fill all space, all over the universe, as (mostly) empty energy and momentum states. Every path, including those two used to define special relativity, relies on the availability of virtual photons. So the speed of light is built in.

If aliens ever show up from their mother ship with a five tone song and flashy lights, we could infer that they figured out how to alter the properties of the virtual photons to make turbo virtual photons that travel faster than c.

So, I am simply arguing that the speed of light barrier is now reduced to a property of virtual photons. Maybe in the next hundred years, we'll figure out how to make turbo photons.

Jason Wolfe

report post as inappropriate

Jason Mark Wolfe wrote on Jan. 2, 2018 @ 01:26 GMT
There is no reason for the government not to spend millions of dollars looking for UFO's. It's a good use of taxpayer money.

report post as inappropriate

Joe Fisher replied on Jan. 2, 2018 @ 16:26 GMT
Dear Jason Mark Wolfe,

Reality consists of only one single unified VISIBLE infinite surface occurring eternally in one single infinite dimension that am always mostly illuminated by finite non-surface light. Multiple finite INVISIBLE aliens could not really have ever existed. If ever gets around to publishing my essay REALITY AM NOT ROCKET SCIENCE, you will be able to learn that the infinite surface of a sphere always appears to every observer as a FLAT, FILLED-IN DISK.

Joe Fisher, Realist

report post as inappropriate

Georgina Woodward wrote on Jan. 2, 2018 @ 09:58 GMT
Thank you for this William. I like reading your articles, which are a little bit different from the usual. The YOU GOT ANY BETTER SUGGESTIONS? link made me laugh.

report post as inappropriate

Joe Fisher replied on Jan. 2, 2018 @ 17:00 GMT
Dear Georgina Woodward,

You have apparently been carefully taught to only trust the preposterous guesswork of the physicists concerning their abstract FINITE universe, and that am a pity. The sad part am that you are in the majority. No matter how many times I repeat that Nature must have provided only one single eternal structure of the real visible surface of the earth a good million years before any English language fluent man, woman, child or parrot ever appeared on that surface, and no amount of finite complex English language mathematics or finite complex physics information has ever accounted for one infinite surface occurring eternally in an infinite dimension that am always illuminated by finite non-surface light, for truth has never been accepted by any scientific community.

Joe Fisher, Realist.

report post as inappropriate

Login or create account to post reply or comment.

Please enter your e-mail address:
Note: Joining the FQXi mailing list does not give you a login account or constitute membership in the organization.