Science-related (Astronomy / Chemistry / Biology / Meteorology / Physics / etc.)

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Astronomy / Space Science / Aliens / UFOs

  • Wikipedia - Milky Way
    • Interesting excerpts:
      • Until the early 1920s, most astronomers thought that the Milky Way contained all the stars in the Universe.
      • Dark regions within the band are areas where light from distant stars is blocked by interstellar dust.
      • In Meteorologica (DK 59 A80), Aristotle (384–322 BC) wrote that the Greek philosophers Anaxagoras (c. 500–428 BC) and Democritus (460–370 BC) proposed that the Milky Way might consist of distant stars. However, Aristotle himself believed the Milky Way to be caused by "the ignition of the fiery exhalation of some stars which were large, numerous and close together" and that the "ignition takes place in the upper part of the atmosphere, in the region of the world which is continuous with the heavenly motions." The Neoplatonist philosopher Olympiodorus the Younger (c. 495–570 A.D.) criticized this view, arguing that if the Milky Way were sublunary, it should appear different at different times and places on Earth, and that it should have parallax, which it does not. In his view, the Milky Way is celestial. This idea would be influential later in the Islamic world.

        The Persian astronomer Abū Rayhān al-Bīrūnī (973–1048) proposed that the Milky Way is "a collection of countless fragments of the nature of nebulous stars". The Andalusian astronomer Avempace (d 1138) proposed the Milky Way to be made up of many stars but appears to be a continuous image due to the effect of refraction in Earth's atmosphere, citing his observation of a conjunction of Jupiter and Mars in 1106 or 1107 as evidence. Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziyya (1292–1350) proposed that the Milky Way is "a myriad of tiny stars packed together in the sphere of the fixed stars" and that these stars are larger than planets.

        According to Jamil Ragep, the Persian astronomer Naṣīr al-Dīn al-Ṭūsī (1201–1274) in his Tadhkira writes: "The Milky Way, i.e. the Galaxy, is made up of a very large number of small, tightly clustered stars, which, on account of their concentration and smallness, seem to be cloudy patches. Because of this, it was likened to milk in color."

        Actual proof of the Milky Way consisting of many stars came in 1610 when Galileo Galilei used a telescope to study the Milky Way and discovered that it is composed of a huge number of faint stars. In a treatise in 1755, Immanuel Kant, drawing on earlier work by Thomas Wright, speculated (correctly) that the Milky Way might be a rotating body of a huge number of stars, held together by gravitational forces akin to the Solar System but on much larger scales. The resulting disk of stars would be seen as a band on the sky from our perspective inside the disk. Kant also conjectured that some of the nebulae visible in the night sky might be separate "galaxies" themselves, similar to our own. Kant referred to both the Milky Way and the "extragalactic nebulae" as "island universes", a term still current up to the 1930s.

YouTube channels

The start of the universe / The Big Bang / Multiverses

Space maps

The size of the universe

Answers to basic questions




General thoughts

  • There are a lot of liers and hoaxers in the world. People will lie because they think it's funny to manipulate you, or for the attention, or for money. If you grew up in a situation where you didn't encounter this kind of behavior, it might lead you to believe someone when you should be more skeptical.
  • There are also a lot of people who are not as rigorous as a lawyer when it comes to calibrating their statements. So, for example, they'll say "It was definitely X" instead of "I think it may have been X".
  • There are a lot of unusual physical phenomena.
  • People who are put in unusual situations (like flying an airplane at 10,000 or 20,000 feet) may be more likely to observe physical phenomena that they would not encounter closer to the ground.
  • People may be biased to interpret unsual phenomena in terms of some preexisting priorities.
    • For example, a lookout on a ship for Christopher Columbus may interpret a light on the horizon as a sign of land, while a commercial pilot may interpret a light as a potential sign of a physical object they could accidentally collide with, and a military pilot may interpret a light as a sign of some potential enemy aircraft.
    • I got this idea from James Oberg.

Major sources of information


Particular events

2004 Nimitz F/A-18 Encounter

  • Spent some more time looking into this because it was so unusual to see the NYT report something like this, and the more I learn about it the worse it looks.

    First, it looks like the NYT may have run this story to try to draw attention away from the sexual-harrassment-media-staff purge (see, an MSNBC interview with one of the two NYT authors, where he says "it'll take some attention away from the day-to-day, let's put it that way"). The same day that this article came out, it was reported that MSNBC's Chris Matthews had also been accused of sexual harrassment.

    The NYT articles say the videos were released by the "Defense Department's Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program", which according to their own reporting was apparently just the one guy (Luis Elizondo) who they interviewed for the articles, who has just left the Pentagon and is now trying to raise money for some kind of fringy UFO company with the former lead singer of Blink-182(!!).

    Also, there is an apparently-respected UFOlogist online who has evidence that one of the two videos first showed up in 2007 on a website run by German special effects students (you can visit the version of the German site from 2007 at and download the video yourself). In any case, the video doesn't match the description of the event given by the pilot in the NYT article: it shows the object at the same altitude as the pilot's aircraft, while the pilot seems to describe the object rapidly ascending from below his aircraft to a position above it.

    The other video *also* doesn't match up with the description given by the pilot in the article: the pilots in the video describe a "fleet" of objects, whereas the pilot in the article describes a single flying object, and as with the previous video, the pilot's aircraft is roughly at the same altitude as the object.

  • 2007.02.03 - AboveTopSecret - Observations of an Actual UFO
    • This reads like an amateurish hoax.
    • This thread is by the same person who started the next thread (see below).
  • 2007.02.04 - AboveTopSecret - Fighter Jet UFO Footage: The Real Deal
    • This reads like an amateurish hoax.
    • This is the thread that first introduced the 
  • 2017.10.10 - - Blink-182's Tom DeLonge's "To The Stars" UFO Disclosure Enterprise
  • 2017.10.23 - - 2004 USS Nimitz Tic Tac UFO FLIR footage
  • 2017.10.23 - AboveTopSecret - November 2004 off the coast of Calif. Nimitz Battle group and UFO
  • 2017.10.24 - Open Minds - Robert Powell – USS Nimitz UFO Encounter
  • 2017.10.26 - YouTube - Joe Rogan Show - Tom Delonge
  • 2017.10.28 - UFO Chronicles - Isaac Koi - Bogus Imagery Muddles Compelling Navy UFO Encounter
  • 2017.10.30 - Open Minds - Robert Powell - Video: U.S. Navy Carrier Strike Force-11 Encounters Unknowns on November 14, 2004 near San Diego – Part I/3
  • 2017.11.10 - Fox 5 Las Vegas - Mystery UFO video supposedly from USS Nimitz fighter jet intrigues researchers
    • The origin of the video is uncertain, although two UFO researchers say it first appeared in 2007 on what they describe as a website run by German film students.

      Researcher Isaac Kol lives in London and sometimes posts on the Web forum Above Top Secret.

      He recently posted:

      Back in 2007, I tracked the first online copy of the video back to the website of a group of German film students that specialized in creating science fiction movies with lots of special effects (Vision Unlimited).

      His post also included, “in 2007, I was inclined to reach the tentative conclusion that it was a hoax... I find it very interesting that the current rounds of discussion seem to ignore the provenance of the footage…”

      Kol told FOX5 in an email, “I don’t claim to have debunked that footage – merely shown that the place that it was originally posted raises red flags pending further evidence.”

      Robert Powell lives in Austin, Texas, and publishes on the Facebook page Scientific Coalition for Ufology.

      He said: “The video was first found on a German film site back in 2007 I believe. That makes one suspicious, but there is no proof that the video was doctored by the German film students. I'm not aware that anyone has looked at the video and made a determination that it was edited in some fashion.”

    • The video they show is the one with no dialogue, where the object is further away, and "moves" to the left at the end.
  • 2017.11.14 - AboveTopSecret - Reported On Nov 10: Mysterious UFO Video From USS Nimitz Fighter Jet Intrigues Researchers
  • 2017.12.16 - - NYT: Video of U.S. Navy Jet Encounter with Unknown Object
    • Great analysis.
    • This is the video that has dialogue.
  • 2017.12.16 - NYT - 2 Navy Airmen and an Object That ‘Accelerated Like Nothing I’ve Ever Seen’
    • Summary:
      • For two weeks, the operator said, the Princeton had been tracking mysterious aircraft. The objects appeared suddenly at 80,000 feet, and then hurtled toward the sea, eventually stopping at 20,000 feet and hovering. Then they either dropped out of radar range or shot straight back up.
      • The two fighter planes headed toward the objects. The Princeton alerted them as they closed in, but when they arrived at “merge plot” with the object — naval aviation parlance for being so close that the Princeton could not tell which were the objects and which were the fighter jets — neither Commander Fravor nor Commander Slaight could see anything at first. There was nothing on their radars, either.

        Then, Commander Fravor looked down to the sea. It was calm that day, but the waves were breaking over something that was just below the surface. Whatever it was, it was big enough to cause the sea to churn.

        Hovering 50 feet above the churn was an aircraft of some kind — whitish — that was around 40 feet long and oval in shape. The craft was jumping around erratically, staying over the wave disturbance but not moving in any specific direction, Commander Fravor said. The disturbance looked like frothy waves and foam, as if the water were boiling.

        Commander Fravor began a circular descent to get a closer look, but as he got nearer the object began ascending toward him. It was almost as if it were coming to meet him halfway, he said.

        Commander Fravor abandoned his slow circular descent and headed straight for the object.

        But then the object peeled away. “It accelerated like nothing I’ve ever seen,” he said in the interview. He was, he said, “pretty weirded out.”

        The two fighter jets then conferred with the operations officer on the Princeton and were told to head to a rendezvous point 60 miles away, called the cap point, in aviation parlance.

        They were en route and closing in when the Princeton radioed again. Radar had again picked up the strange aircraft.

        “Sir, you won’t believe it,” the radio operator said, “but that thing is at your cap point.”

        “We were at least 40 miles away, and in less than a minute this thing was already at our cap point,” Commander Fravor, who has since retired from the Navy, said in the interview.

        By the time the two fighter jets arrived at the rendezvous point, the object had disappeared.

      • “I have no idea what I saw,” Commander Fravor replied to the pilot. “It had no plumes, wings or rotors and outran our F-18s.”
    • Comments
      • Criticisms
        • The warning flag comes out, however, with the mention that Harold Puthoff, of remote viewing notoriety, is associated with this even remotely. "Skeptical Inquirer" has had, over the years, a number of articles that suggest he and his former associate Russell Targ were, on the most charitable interpretation, gullible and unwitting tools of the illusionist Uri Geller and others. Puthoff's emergence as a spokesperson for the undertaking does not speak well for its scientific seriousness.
        • The only people that think space aliens have visited earth are the people not applying science based evidence to the issue. Fuzzy blobs and spinning lights are not any indication of extraterrestrials. (why would a space craft need to spin like that?)

        • There are people that claim that the U.F.Os seen since WW2 are advanced Nazi-Germany flying machines and that the Third Reich somehow has survived in South America. This is as good an explanation as "...they are from an alien planet..."  I agree with professor Stephen Hawking when he writes that any encounter between us and aliens would be like Cortes landing in America. We would be wiped out.

      • UFO reports
        • I was a young Air Traffic Controller stationed at Dover AFB, De back in 1984-85. Our airspace was upto 8,000 ft & about a 40 mile radius. I worked Radar Approach Control (RAPCON). Dover was home to C-5's and C-141 (at least back then it was). I cant recall what time exactly but it was at night. I do recall vividly my interaction/radio convo with the military pilot. The pilot was on either the C-5 or the C-141. I recall traffic being light.
          The pilot called up Approach Control (me) and reported an aircraft off his right wing. He reported that it was close. His voice was shaken and I could sense the panic. I yelled to my supervisor who was at the helm behind me. I needed him right there because this was bad news in our world-having an aircraft close to another. We can widen out our radar scopes and we have features that can help us zoom in for a lack of a better word and also pick up any light "blips" (radar returns). I saw nothing. This is happening at 6,000 or 8,000 ft. I informed the pilot that I did not see anything.He then reported that its now just off the left wing. As he was talking, I could hear his crew in the background. They are panicked as well-excited/panic background chatter. I could hear them saying it too close! The pilot said it was going to maneuver right to get away. He reported that it was gone and said that he believe it was a UFO. At the time I thought..holy cow..a UFO
        • Late one winter night in Grand Rapids, Minn., I went outside to see if the Northern Lights were on display. They were not, but I did see, as I looked north a distant light, significantly brighter than the surrounding stars, moving rapidly from the western horizon eastward. When it neared the midway point in the sky between the western and eastern horizons it's course turned on a dime and proceeded northward until it disappeared from view. It was in view for 10-15 seconds. No colors, no flashing, just a bright light moving faster across the heavens than anything I have ever seen, behaving in a way I doubt a man-made object can even today.
    • My questions:
      • Why is the clip so short? Why isn't there a full recording of all communications from that sortie?
      • What was the maximum airspeed the F-18s reached when pursuing the object?
      • The video itself doesn't seem to show most of the incredible behavior attributed to the object in the text of the article.
    • HN discussion
  • 2017.12.17 - MSNBC - Interview with Ralph Blumenthal
    • Ralph Blumenthal is one of two NYT reporters credited for the two articles that broke.
    • At the end of the interview, he says, "It'll take some attention away from the day-to-day, let's put it that way".

Particular phenomena


Weather balloons

Crop circles


YouTube channels

Individuals & Organizations


Mick West /

Isaac Koi

Leslie Kean

  • She comes across as reasonable, but she wrote a book about evidence for life after death, which is a topic that's beyond the current limit of plausability of what I'm willing to entertain.

James Oberg

Robert Bigelow

  • He comes across as an intelligent / modest guy, but the certainty with which he asserts that there are aliens visiting Earth seems .
    • Lara Logan: Do you believe in aliens?

      Robert Bigelow: I'm absolutely convinced. That's all there is to it.

      Lara Logan: Do you also believe that UFOs have come to Earth?

      Robert Bigelow: There has been and is an existing presence, an ET presence. And I spent millions and millions and millions -- I probably spent more as an individual than anybody else in the United States has ever spent on this subject.

      Lara Logan: He told us he's had his own close encounters, but declined to go into detail.

To The Stars Academy of Arts & Sciences





  • 2000 - Cosmology (Textbook)
    • Highly recommended by Luke Barnes in video 4 or 5 of his "Life in a Fine-Tuned Universe" lecture.
  • 2002.09.20 - NYT - Radio Telescope Proves A Big Bang Prediction
    • Using their telescope in effect as a pair of Polaroid sunglasses, the team, headed by Dr. John Carlstrom of Chicago, discovered that a faint radio haze thought to be the fading remnant of the Big Bang itself is slightly polarized. That is to say, its flickering electromagnetic fields that constitute light waves were not completely jumbled, vibrating in all different planes as they sped to Earth, like feathers sticking out at all angles at the end of an arrow. Rather, they showed a slight preference for one plane of vibration, as if all the feathers lined up.

      That, theorists say, is the predicted signature of the last bounce of light from hot, electrified cosmic gases just as the universe was cooling to the point where atoms could form, 400,000 years after the universe was born.

    • The observations also represented another notch in the belt for one of the most controversial ingredients in the standard model of the Big Bang. Known as inflation, it posits that the universe underwent a hyperexplosive growth spurt early in its existence. Although it is successful as a theory, astronomers admit that they do not know what caused inflation or precisely when it happened.
  • 2014.09.02 - YouTube - TED - Why does the universe exist?
  • 2017.11.07 - YouTube - Before the Big Bang 5: The No Boundary Proposal
  • 2018.03.14 - YouTube - StarTalk - Stephen Hawking on what happened before the Big Bang