Monday, January 14, 2008

UFO and/or Antichrist Sighted in Texas...?

CNN's website has picked up an Associated Press story to the the effect of "some folks in Texas saw what they think was a UFO, and furthermore some of them think it may be a sign of the coming apocalypse." It's the typical silent, silver, seamless wonder with no visible riveting apparently free-moving running lights that the aliens have been sporting for years now. (I guess the Zeta Reticulans don't by into the whole "new models every year" paradigm we earthlings use for our vehicles.) The only wrinkle this time is that one of the witness is saying that it's at least a mile long and have a mile across. The same witness, commercial freight pilot Steve Allen, is quoted as saying (and I'm not kidding) "It was positively, absolutely, nothing from these parts."

I think a quote from Philip J. Klass out of his book UFOs: The Public Deceived* might be instructive here: "No human observer, including experienced flight crews, can accurately estimate either the distance/altitude or the size of an unfamiliar object in the sky, unless it is in very close proximity to a familiar object whose size or altitude is known."

For a fun illustration of how hard it is to judge the size of a flying object, here's a clip from that History Channel show "Monster Quest" in which people are asked to guess the size of a large bird-shaped kite being flown away from any good reference points. Check out how wildly their estimates vary.

Well, in any event, I'm interested to see how much play this Texas UFO gets. It's front page news on CNN as I type this, so it may end up attracting a fair bit of attention. I'll be keeping my eye out for it in the coming days.

*I'm pretty sure this was also covered in UFOs Explained, but I don't have my copy handy at the moment so I can't check.

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