Chapter 4 (sample)

Domestic Speculations

Robert T. Jones, Aerodynamicist

When I was a youth, in the years immediately proceeding and following adolescence, one of my best buddies was Ed Jones. Ed and his two sisters lived three doors from me in Palo Alto and I spent a lot of time at their house. Their father was Robert T. Jones, the famous Aerodynamicist. I didn’t realize how famous he was at the time. To me he was just their father and he worked for NASA, although the kids were fond of pointing out that their father had invented the swept back wing. Hanging out at the Jones’ house was a real education. Ed was a few years older than I and he had an old Model T. Ford truck that we were continually tearing apart and putting back together. In addition, we built countless model airplanes. In this latter endeavor we received the most expert instruction you could possibly imagine. There were also lessons in optics and electronics. Most of my instruction came to me second hand from Ed, but occasionally I got it straight from “R.T.” himself.

R.T. had a knack for making the strangest looking contraptions fly, and fly well. One in particular sticks in my memory. It was a flying wing, but more like half a flying wing. It was almost all wing and it was straight, but it flew on a bias. In flight, one end would lead by quite a bit and the other end would trail. Looking at it made you scratch your head and think, “How could such a configuration possibly fly?” but it did. R.T. called it an “oblique flying wing.” Many years later, after he retired from NASA and was associated with Stanford University, he spent time developing this concept further. What eventually emerged was a fairly complete design for a Mach 1.6 aircraft that could seat 440 passengers inside a wing with a span of 400 feet. Of course, you don’t see anything like that flying today. It was just too strange for the public to accept. As R.T. himself once wrote “artifacts created by humans show a nearly irresistible tendency for bilateral symmetry” (10). If one of these wings were to appear in the sky without warning you would immediately be struck by the almost “unearthly” quality of its appearance.

There probably are aircraft of various types and configurations under development at secret facilities, and no doubt they contributed from time to time to the total inventory of UFO sightings. The recent unveiling of the stealth bomber and fighter is an example of this kind of secret development.

Area 51

Among UFO enthusiasts are those that frequent the small town of Rachel, Nevada, located near area 51 and the “secret” base at Groom Lake. There you can sign up for a guided evening trek up into the Nellis Range over looking the base. I have never done this, but I understand that on Wednesday nights at a certain location, it can be a very interesting experience, or at least it used to be. The most common description of what was seen involves a ball of brilliant light that changed altitude in a stepped fashion, exhibited terrific accelerations, and made sharp turns at very high velocities. this has all the ear marks of a beam of some kind directed from either above or below –– probably below. But how could such a beam be made to exhibit a bright ball of light without hitting a target or passing through a layer of gas and thus causing fluorescence? I don’t know, but I am addicted to speculating about this kind of thing.

If there was a device similar to the linear accelerators described in the previous chapter that produced a particle beam of some kind, maybe there is a way to run something up and down that beam. Suppose this device produced a beam of protons or positive ions and accelerated them to high velocity. And suppose there was a way of superimposing a wave function on this beam. I envision this as looking like stop-and-go traffic on a freeway when viewed from above. And further, suppose there is a way of controlling the phase velocity of this wave. This gets me back to R.T. Jones again.

In the early days of television, when I was somewhere in the range of ten to twelve years old, I happened to walk into the Jones’s living room one day and noticed what I thought was a TV. not everybody had one in those days, and I commented on its presence. R.T. was nearby and he informed me that what I was looking at was actually an oscilloscope.

“What’s an oscilloscope?” I asked, stumbling over the pronunciation.

“Do you know what oscillation is?”

“Uh huh”, I replied with a nod, not wishing to appear ignorant.

He looked at me for just a moment and an almost imperceptible smile crept over his face.

“Well, oscillation is when something moves back and forth between two limits like the pendulum on a clock.”

I remember being embarrassed that he had seen through me so easily. He then turned on the scope and gave me a lesson in its use. the image that sticks in my head to this day was the standing sine wave that he produced on the screen.  He  made  it  proceed  to  the  right  slowly  at  first  then gradually faster until the wave was just a blur. He then slowed it down again until it was motionless again, all the while explaining about frequency and phase velocity. Anybody who has worked with an oscilloscope has seen what I have just described. Much later, when I worked for the Radiation Division of Varian Associates, I was impressed with the fact that the phase velocity of a radio frequency signal can be used to move particles down the length of an accelerator’s tube, and accelerate them in the process.

So, what if we pass a positive beam through a small synchrotron-like device that has electrons whirling around in it, and we pass the beam through the synchrotron along its axis of rotation. Would there be a way of hanging a ring of electrons on the positively charged beam? And could this ring be moved up and down the beam or be held steady at some location by adjusting the phase velocity? and since the ring of electrons would give off what is called synchrotron radiation from being constantly held to a circular path, would this electromagnetic radiation be in the visible portion of the spectrum? There are a lot of questions here and not many answers.

After thinking about this a little more, I realized the synchrotron is not necessary. All you need is a small linear accelerator arranged perpendicular to the larger positive beam. This linac would put out a stream of electrons at just the right velocity and distance from the center of the positive beam so that they go into a stable orbit around the stream of positive particles. The phase velocity of the positive beam could be adjusted so the positive peak of a standing wave (zero phase velocity) was at the intersection of the two beams while the orbit was being established. Once established, the phase velocity of the positive or carrier beam could be increased, sending the ring on its way. (see A Hard Look at UFOs)

After writing the above I decided to see if anybody else had come up with the idea of linking particle beams and UFOs and this led me to the web site authored by Tom Mahood entitled Bluefire (11). From his site, I gathered that Tom was at one time an area 51 groupie, but has since reformed and is now a physicist. This combination of attributes provides him with a unique perspective on the question of UFOs sighted over area 51. Tom speculates that a particle beam aimed up into the atmosphere would, depending upon the initial energy and velocity, produce a ball of plasma at some altitude, and he provides some impressive mathematics to back this up. Coming out of the accelerator at high velocity the beam would initially shoulder aside molecules of air, but would gradually attenuate to the point where it would eventually collide with these molecules and dump its remaining energy creating a ball of plasma. A good deal of the resulting electromagnetic radiation would be in the visual portion of the spectrum but it would also show up as a false bogie on radar screens, and he suggests that is where the military interest lies. Mahood notes a paragraph from David Darlington’s book, Area 51 — The Dreamland Chronicles[06]. Darlington, quotes Mark Farmer and because it is such a descriptive passage, I will quote it also:

“I’ve seen two of them out here,” Farmer divulged.
“One was a light that kept bouncing around and then just  went  away.  The  other  was  colored,  floating, glowing orb that popped up behind the jumbled mountains south of Groom Lake. It went straight up, then started jerking around and wobbling up and down — at times making right-angled, or greater than right-angled, turns then sitting still in a rock-hard hover. It became distorted when it moved part of it lagged behind the main object, then the trailing edge would catch up. I had a Celestron twelve-hundred- millimeter telescope, and I watched it for an hour and forty-five minutes. It wasn’t quite round; it was sort of squashed, and shimmering the whole time as if  it  were  surrounded  by  some  kind  of  field.  It  was crimson on top, blue-green on the bottom, and gold in the middle. I have no idea what it was” (12).

After reading his on-line essay “Particle Beams and Saucer Dreams,” (13) I had the feeling that Mahood is probably closer to established science than I am, but who knows what is yet to be established? I’ll touch on this kind of thing again in the next chapter, but from a different point of view. (Click here to read Mahood’s essay)

Historical Coincidence?

The first particle accelerator, a cyclotron, was built in the early 1930s, but they really didn’t proliferate until the invention of the synchrotron and the linear accelerator in the mid 1940s. I think it is interesting to note that the modern era of UFOs is generally considered to begin in 1947. As Tom Mahood speculates, the military interest in accelerators probably has to do with their ability to create a false radar target. Just how much development and distribution the resulting device has received is unknown, but I get suspicious whenever I read about UFOs being sighted in conjunction with large military maneuvers or naval exercises.

Robert Thomas Jones, May 28, 1910 — August 11, 1999 by Walter G. Vincenti /
Biographical Memoirs, National Academy of Sciences
[06] p. 237

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Sunday, January 25th, 2009 Chapter 4 (sample) No Comments