The UFO enigma A new review of the physical evidence

Peter A. Sturrock

Book - 1999

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New York, NY : Warner Books c1999.
Main Author
Peter A. Sturrock (-)
Item Description
"The first major scientific inquiry since the Condon report"--Cover.
"Commissioned by Laurance S. Rockefeller and implemented by the Society for Scientific Exploration"--P. [4] of cover.
"With a foreword by Laurance S. Rockefeller"--P. [4] of cover.
Physical Description
xii, 404 p. : ill., maps ; 24 cm
Includes bibliographical references (p. [373]-386) and index.
  • Foreword
  • Preface
  • Part 1.. History
  • Chapter 1.. Introduction
  • Chapter 2.. UFO History: 1947 to 1967
  • Chapter 3.. The Colorado Project and the Condon Report
  • Chapter 4.. Aftermath of the Colorado Project
  • Part 2.. Presentations at Pocantico
  • Chapter 5.. Introduction to Pocantico
  • Chapter 6.. Photographic Evidence
  • Chapter 7.. Luminosity Estimates
  • Chapter 8.. Radar Evidence
  • Chapter 9.. The Hessdalen Project
  • Chapter 10.. Vehicle Interference
  • Chapter 11.. Aircraft Equipment Malfunction
  • Chapter 12.. Apparent Gravitational and/or Inertial Effects
  • Chapter 13.. Ground Traces
  • Chapter 14.. Injuries to Vegetation
  • Chapter 15.. Physiological Effects on Witnesses
  • Chapter 16.. Analysis of Debris
  • Part 3.. Panel's Response
  • Chapter 17.. The Review Panel Process
  • Chapter 18.. Panel's Conclusions and Recommendations
  • Chapter 19.. Panel Recommendations Concerning Implementation
  • Part 4.. Post-Pocantico Reflections
  • Chapter 20.. The Gepan/Sepra Project
  • Chapter 21.. Procedures for Analysis of Photographic Evidence
  • Chapter 22.. Atmospheric Phenomena
  • Introduction
  • Electromagnetic Wave Ducting
  • Sprites
  • Chapter 23.. SETI and UFO Investigations
  • Introduction
  • SETI and UFO Investigations Compared
  • Further Thoughts on SETI and UFO Investigations
  • Chapter 24.. The Next Fifty Years
  • Part 5.. Case Material
  • Chapter 25.. Two Photographic Cases
  • Analysis of a UFO Photograph
  • Photo Analysis of an Aerial Disk over Costa Rica
  • Photo Analysis of an Aerial Disk over Costa Rica: New Evidence
  • Chapter 26.. Luminosity
  • Estimates of Optical Power Output for Six Cases of Unexplained Aerial Objects
  • Chapter 27.. Physical Traces
  • Physical Analyses in Ten Cases of Unexplained Aerial Objects with Material Samples
  • Chapter 28.. The Trans-en-Provence Case
  • Introduction
  • Report on the Analysis of Anomalous Physical Traces
  • Return to Trans-en-Provence
  • Chapter 29.. The Mansfield, Ohio, Case
  • A Helicopter-UFO Encounter over Ohio
  • References in the Text
  • A Brief Guide to UFO Literature
  • Acknowledgments
  • List of Acronyms
  • Index
  • About the Author
Review by Booklist Review

Anyone who doubts that the UFO phenomenon deserves a scientific evaluation should read this book. Sturrock, an astrophysicist at Stanford University, selected a panel of eight scientists in various fields and brought them together in Tarrytown, New York, September 30^-October 3, 1997, to review the evidence for UFOs presented by eight UFO investigators (all but one with doctorates themselves) from four different countries. The result, unlike the much-criticized negative conclusion of the U.S. Air Force^-sponsored Condon Committee in 1969, was a recommendation that the scientific community set up a project to examine physical evidence related to UFO sightings. Sturrock reports on the panel's conclusions and summarizes the case studies they looked at, from UFO photographs and radar returns to interference with the electrical systems of cars and airplanes, ground traces, and debris analysis. In short, this is a sound professional study that contrasts sharply with the unauthenticated anecdotes and rank speculation that pass for UFO literature these days. --George Eberhart

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

If the truth is out there, why haven't we found it? A 1997 conference at the Pocantico center in Tarrytown, N.Y., assembled UFO researchers and distinguished air and space scientists to review theories and evidence concerning inexplicable lights, big disks and other odd, exciting stuff in the sky. If they produced no new conclusions, their work certainly makes informative reading. A professor emeritus of Space Science and Astrophysics at Stanford, Sturrock synthesizes the conference reports and deliberations into 120 carefully considered pages. One presentation (in Sturrock's summary) shows why some UFOs can be explained as weather-related phenomena. Another shows why UFO investigators and SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) radio astronomers don't get along. Sturrock calls for more, and more widely available, research into UFOs; he notes that physical scientists, while not trained to evaluate witness reports, can analyze material evidence. Most of the rest of the book is comprised of essays ("Post-Pocantico Reflections") and "Case Material" (about specific UFO reports) by a variety of hands. Richard Haines considers a Frisbee-shaped aerial object in a vacationer's photo; Jennie Zeidman reports on "A Helicopter-UFO Encounter Over Ohio." The ongoing French study called GEPAN or SEPRA emerges as a leader in recent studies of UFOs, decidedly on the back burner in the United States. All the contributors write in the impersonal, precise, deliberately colorless language proper to scientific journal articles. If the results are less than thrilling, they represent a hoard of raw information, and some admirably cautious reasoning, from which any reader who already cares about UFOs might be glad to learn. Photos, charts and diagrams not seen by PW. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Kirkus Book Review

A comprehensive investigation of encounters with unidentified flying objects, all the more riveting because it is both skeptical and scrupulously objective. What facts do we have regarding UFOs? asks an international team of scientists headed by Sturrock (Physics/Stanford Univ.). What is the physical evidence, and what is it trying to tell us? Taking pains to avoid sounding frivolous, the team reviews the records of UFO encounters. Many can be explained as misinterpretations of such man-made objects as satellites, or as natural phenomena like marsh gas, manifestations of lightning, or wave ducting, which causes radar mirages. Other experiences are characterized here as ``suggestive but far from sufficient'' in terms of data. Even more intriguing are the ``anomalies,'' a full 30% of the notable contacts, often sighted by multiple observers without discernible ulterior motives, some with photographic evidence, some with material remains, some tracked on radar screens, all left unexplained after a battery of tests that include such jawbreakers as micro-densitometry scans of photographic film crystals, and the probings of spark mass spectrometry. The scope and detail of these analyses make them tough going for the lay reader, but the narrative sections and interviews are captivating. It's particularly gratifying to read the investigators' exquisite debunkings of the bureaucratic obfuscation and mumbo jumbo with which government officials have smugly dismissed UFO sightings. This cavalier attitude won't do, the study argues; we need more systematic data collection and procedures. Given the randomness of UFO events, however, that may be asking for the impossible. The ultimate conclusion here is a rousing Who knows? Nonetheless, 'a signal emerges from the noise and that signal is not readily comprehensible in terms of phenomena now well known to science.'' In other words, something is out there; it's just unidentified. (Photos, charts, diagrams)

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.