(Since you asked...
There hasn't been very much progress in solving the UFO riddle since 1947, but if there's one thing researchers have learned in the past 60 years,
it's that UFOs come in a bewildering variety of shapes and sizes. Every new report seems to bring a new shape, and overall, the shapes tend to
evolve over time.
Many, many, many years ago I read a book which had an interesting idea: most UFO shapes can be explained as disks seen at different angles. A disk
can look like a disk, of course, but the sillouette also matches the classic cigar-shape, but it can also be elliptical, egg-shaped, and circular,
depending only on the viewing angle; you just have to tip it up on-edge. (If anyone knows the name of that book or its author, could you post it?).
About that time there were a number of round/spherical craft sighted, which meant there were lots of saucers standing on-edge that year, I suppose. I
could never get my mind around the idea of extraterrestrials rolling around the Desert Southwest like so many hubcaps; luckily for me, the basic cigar
shape can mimic all the outlines of the basic saucer.
It also occured to me that evolution had decreed that free-swiming sea creatures (your dolphin, sharks, tuna, cod, whales, and so forth) would be
cigar-shaped, while the saucer shape would be used primarily by bottom-feeders and reef dwellers, who didn't need to be sleek and efficient. Nature
has also applied the cigar shape to creatures of the air. Most flying insects are elliptical. The more efficient a bird needs to be, the closer their
bodies are to the ideal, the albatross being a perfect example. Watch a starling or sparrow closely sometime: they beat their tiny wings like mad for
a few seconds, then pull everything in and glide for a surpdrisingly long distance tucked into a tidy little cigar shape.
Some bird shapes.
Aircraft are also mostly cigar-shaped, as are artillery shells. Despite many attempts to create one, there have been no successful disk-shaped
airplanes. The Chance Vought V-173 is probably the closest anyone's ever gotten, and it's a pretty ungainly looking thing. Aerodynamics, it seems,
prefers the cigar to the saucer. The exception is the frisbee (and perhaps it's cousin, the clay skeet target), although that relies on some extreme
rotaional dynamics to maintain course and altitude.
But can a cigar explain all the different shapes of UFOs? They have been described as disks, saucers, chevrons, arcs, cresents, bananas, globes,
balls, lightbulbs, manta rays, cylinders, orbs, eggs, beer bottles, crosses, triangles, wyes, exes, rectangles, diamonds, eyes, doughnuts, inner
tubes, jellyfish, cones, fans, half-moons, full-moons, funnels, and even blimp-shaped ("...but it was not
a blimp, I'm sure of that..."),
and coffee cup shaped (they go with the doughnuts, perhaps). And that's not counting variations: with fins, without fins; domes on top, domes on the
bottom, no domes at all; windows, portholes, perfectly smooth; glowing and pitch black and everything in between; and so on and so on...
Cigars alone can't explain everything, but between saucers and cigars, we can narrow down the menagerie quite a bit.
All the shapes in the elliptical family, from rocket-shaped to fully circular, can be explained by either of the two "basic" shapes. I lean toward
cigar-shaped, of course, but either would do. I really hope, in fact, that the USAF has been flying disk-shaped blimps.
I started playing around with Blender3D, and am amazed at the similarity of the shapes; either can easily look like the other, depending mostly on
It's not easy to tell them apart sometimes.
We can also explain the shapes in the arc and cresent family, although here, the cigar has the edge, so to speak. Disks tend to spread the reflection
out more; I didn't save the similar simulation for saucers because I never could get it to look like anything but big white smudges. But if you see
a flying fingerprint, you'll know what it is now.
Also notice that just turning on axis will make the arc shrink and grow dramatically; an observer could easily think the object was performing
near-impossible maneuvers and accelerating like nothing on this earth.
We've still got more shapes to work through, though.
If we go ahead and throw blimps and other LTA airships into the mix, we get a lot more options: we can cover many of the geometric shapes (the ones
that appear to glow, not necessarily the ones which have rows of lights). The big triangles will probably have to wait for the coming of the Giant
Black Stealth Blimps (which are, we all know, cooler and sexier than their silver-haired forebears).
Genman wondered why I am obsessed the angle of the sun and moon and what they have to do with any UFO sighting. This is why: we now, all of us, have
instantly available at our fingertips (quite literally!) every tool needed to completly analyze a close encounter, IF we have sufficient information.
Let's take one example: the 1947 Maury Island event.
Gazrok pointed out that the incident is considered a hoax by most UFO researchers, and it may be too late now to ever know for sure. However, there
are a few kibbly little details that I always wondered about. The witnesses claimed to see flying doughnuts, for instance. If Harold Dahl had been
influenced by the Arnold sighting, and wanted fame and/or notoriety, why mention doughnuts? It's a pretty ridiculous detail.
Basically, we would need to believe that the blinp on the left can be made to look like the delicious airborn Krispy Kreme (tm) on the right.
So, we look up the solar azimuth and elevation for Maury Island (Seattle is close enough), and adjust our model accordingly. The
thensun was at 232 degrees azimuth, 58 degrees elevation on maury Island at 2 PM on
June 21, 1947. Dahl said he was looking almost straight up, so we'll adjust our virtual camera, plug in the figures, and see what we get.
Well, it's not perfect, but not bad for a first approximation; it seems that blimps we can indeed do doughnuts, under the right circumstances. First
of all, we need a stumpy blimp; an L-Type trainer will work nicely. Then, we need an eliptical gondola that protrudes a bit. K class won't work, the
gondola is too long; ZPGs have a huge antenna slung unerneath, and they didn't come around for a couple of decades, anyway. Luckily, the "little"
L-Types come equipped with just the right sort of control cabin. Then we need the right lighting conditions. If we use an L class blimp, the sun
needs to be approximately 50 degrees elevation, and need to be gererally from the side of the craft, rather than fore or aft. On my model, the
inner-tube effect starts at an elevation of 15 degrees begins disappearing around 60 degrees, although it hangs in for a while longer on the high
Maury Island may be a hoax, but we know that the witnesses could
have seen something resembling a doughnut that day, at that time, if there
were L-Type blimps overhead. The power of any any theory, however, is its ability to make predictions. To this day, I still don't know which
direction Dashl and friends were supposedly headed when the pastries arrived, but our model makes a fairly strong prediction: the observers would need
to be generally south and east of the objects to have seen them as doughnuts. (Anybody know where the boat was coming from?)
Well, at least we know where all that hot slag came from
[edit on 4-1-2006 by rand]
[edit on 4-1-2006 by rand]