Area 51 used to – GASP – test secret planes, not flying saucers

By Phil Plait | April 8, 2010 10:22 am

ufos_zappingWhen the topic of flying saucers comes up, someone inevitably talks about the government’s secret installation in the Nevada desert called Area 51. The base has been public knowledge for a long time, though I suspect a lot of folks heard about it through the movie "Independence Day". The idea is that the alien spaceships that crashed at Roswell New Mexico and other sites were carted off to Area 51, and the technology there examined and reverse engineered to create a lot of modern tech today.

You can just guess what I think of this theory.

But I’ll spell it out: it’s nonsense. Yes, Area 51 exists, but the idea that we keep alien tech there is pretty silly. First, all our technology has a clear line of antecedents; the transistor, velcro, smart metals, and so on didn’t just pop up ex nihilo as some UFO enthusiasts claim.

Second, we have a simpler and more logical line of reasoning here. We know that the military has a black budget to create advanced tech. They don’t want our enemies to know what’s going on, and the Nevada desert is pretty isolated. When the news came out that a base was out there, of course the government’s first line of defense is to deny it. When the rumors and evidence pile up, they admit it exists, but won’t say what it’s for. Of course they don’t! That’s kinda the point of it being a secret.

And we know that advanced tech comes from the military; the SR 71 Blackbird is an incredible piece of engineering, and it was designed in the 1960s. Stealth tech can be thought of in a similar way, and it’s decades old as well. They are clearly designing amazing stuff at Area 51 and perhaps other locations, and this is exactly the sort of hardware that we need to keep secret. Like it or not, there are bad guys out there who would love to see America fall, and this kind of technology helps prevent that from happening.

Weekly World News: Alien cries for McCainJumping from that to harboring aliens and their flying saucers is a wee bit of jump of logic. Of course, I have said for years that I’m sure the government loves the UFO rumors, since it takes the pressure off the real secrets there.

And so it goes: an article in the Statesman corroborates that view. Several Area 51 vets have come out and discussed recently declassified information. My favorite bit is at the very end:

[Area 51 radar specialist] Barnes thinks the Air Force and the CIA didn’t mind the stories about alien spacecraft. They helped cover up the real secret planes that were being tested.

Ya think? Anyway, while I may not be happy with everything that supposedly goes on at Area 51, I can be reasonably — stress the word reasonably — sure that it involves stuff developed right here on good old planet Earth.

Tip o’ the tin foil beanie to James Oberg.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Antiscience, Debunking, Skepticism
MORE ABOUT: Area 51, UFOs

Comments (86)

  1. John

    Two conspiracy theories I love because they directly contradict each other:

    The military have been conducting experiments with aliens at area 51.

    The military have been experimenting with covert technology at area 51 and spreading disinformation about alien landings as a clever diversion.

    That last quote is probably a massive understatement…

  2. You’re just falling for the conspiracy, man. Like, the claim that stories of UFOs covered up secret airplanes is just a cover up for like, alien tech an’ stuff. It’s a cover up of the cover up of the co…UFOs exist!!!one!!11

  3. Dan

    From what I’ve heard, Area 51 gets so much attention that it isn’t used for the most cutting edge sooper sekrit R & D anymore.

    Other bases are used because no one is trying to watch what’s going on at Area 51B

  4. Gus Snarp

    I pretty much believe everything you wrote in your post, but from what I’ve read elsewhere, there’s no actual confirmation that these guys really worked at Area 51. So maybe they did, but they don’t make a great tool for debunking, since it’s easier than usual for the conspiracy types to poke holes in their story.

  5. Gareth

    This post is just what you’d expect from someone in on the whole conspiracy.

  6. Zucchi

    With all that flying saucer technology, why did we have to fake the Moon landings? Damn it, there’s got to be an answer! (Maybe because the flying saucers seem to crash all the time.)

  7. Like it or not, there are bad guys out there who would love to see America fall, and this kind of technology helps prevent that from happening.

    Please. Our military budget exceeds the entire rest of the world’s combined. Yet we have a higher poverty rate, higher illiteracy rate and higher infant mortality rate than many other countries. Why? Because we spend a giant portion of our federal budget on things that kill people instead of things that help people.

  8. taiki

    Phil, it’s not just a view that they want America to fail, but, it’s not just political espionage that’s happening but also commercial/industrial espionage as well. France may not be our enemy, but Airbus sure has a stake on finding out what we’re up to.

  9. Charlie Young

    You mean all that stuff they were storing at Area 51 for the Indiana Jones movies isn’t really there!?!? Man, I knew that movie had something that didn’t add up!

  10. Rick

    I went to an AIAA lecture a few years ago from a researcher who linked many UFO sightings in the American southwest to airplanes that were, at the time, classified and flying out of Groom Lake/Area 51 and other black program air stations, but which are now unclassified (like the SR-71 and F-117). He connected their flying patterns, jet contrails, colors and shapes to planes that were under development at the time, and it’s pretty obvious that all these UFO stories are just the result of classified test flights.

    Which makes me wonder – how many UFO watchers did the Soviets employ under the pretense of getting UFO data, but really knowing they were secret American military aircraft?

  11. Pieter Kok

    Like it or not, there are bad guys out there who would love to see America fall.

    Exactly! There is no room for any nuance here.

    It’s statements like this that give the rest of the world the impression that Americans are a bunch of trigger-happy cowboys.

  12. Alva

    Well said, Doug.

  13. Again, Futurama has all the answers:

    President Truman: Whistling Dixie! I want this sent to Area 51 for study.

    General: But sir, that’s where we’re building the fake moon landing set.

    President Truman: Then we’ll have to really land on the moon! Invent NASA and tell them to get off their fannies!

  14. Where is Area 51B? I know Area 51A is at the end of a bus line near Springfield (even though the location of the location is classified).

  15. Douglas Troy

    Don’t believe Phil! He was genetically grown in a lab at Area 51. I have proof, but I can’t show it to you,because,ummmm, ALIENS … right … the Aliens would erase my brain.

    No. wait. The Aliens DID erase my brain, so I, uh, don’t know WHERE my proof is …

    Yea. That’s it. Phil’s a genetic Area51 experiment that I could totally prove if Aliens hadn’t zapped my brain. But he’s in on the whole thing, and trying to spread misinformation to the public through things like Truth and Logic.

    Plus, he has shifty eyes.

  16. UFO= Unidentified Flying Object

    There were UFOs at Area 51. Maybe not little green guys, but there were things in the sky over Nevada (and other places) that people couldn’t identify.

    What I find hard to believe is the happy horses**t that they were putting crash dummies up in weather balloons.

    I would be more inclined to believe our government if they; a) didn’t change their story every couple of years, and b) have a history of blatant lies to their people

  17. Chris

    One of these days all the aliens are going to come out and start telling how the government probed them. Probably after the wife finds a text message from one of the aliens.

  18. Pocket Nerd

    You’re ALMOST right, Doctor Plait. The “reverse engineering alien technology” is indeed a cover story, but not for advanced military aircraft. (The real military aircraft research takes place on the island of Atlantis, obviously.) What actually happens at Area 51 is ESP research, for the ongoing “psychic cold war” between the NWO and the Reptiloidians.

  19. Dave_B

    Of course theres no alien tech in Area 51, we know better now – it’s all in warehouse 13 :)

    Top pic brings back memories… UFO… a truly classic piece of 60s cheesy scifi. Purple wigs and all. Somewhere in my parents attic there might still be the old cast metal model of the interceptor, although its missile was long lost when I stopped playing with it

  20. Jove

    On one occasion, he remembers, when the first jets were being tested at what Muroc Army Air Field, later renamed Edwards Air Force Base, a test pilot put on a gorilla mask and flew upside down beside a private pilot.

    “Well, when this guy went back, telling reporters, ‘I saw a plane that didn’t have a propeller and being flown by a monkey,’ well, they laughed at this guy — and it got where the guys would see [test pilots] and they didn’t dare report it because everybody’d laugh at them,” says Barnes.

    http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2011461015_area51vets28m.html

  21. Na

    Aren’t they storing UFOs in Fort Knox (too)?

    (Er, West Wing reference there…)

  22. “Secret planes?!” Harumph! Everyone knows human flight is a fallacy. If people were meant to fly they’d be born with wings. Besides, the human body can’t withstand speeds of more than 80mph. Flight may be theoretically possible but is highly improbable.

    Let us all keep our wits about us now.

  23. I love how the US gubment is able to hide intergalactic travelers from the rest of the world yet is supposedly inept when it comes to everything else.

  24. Vaccination Dalek

    If there were advanced alien tech, we’d have busted it out on Iraq years ago. Maybe that’s why I haven’t seen near as much Area 51 conspiracy BS on the net and news lately. It made sense in the 80s and early 90s… hide it from the Russians, keep it in case of some super war. Between Vietnam and the Persian Gulf war, there were about 10 years of relative peace, when we didn’t get to see what our weapons could really do. But now, with two wars going on, no big super power that we’re afraid of starting an arms race with, where is our alien tech?

    InnOccUlate!

  25. Lars

    I don’t want to see America fall, but I would’t mind seeing the USA dissolving into independent states. It would be one less threat in a world that is already dangerous enough. Better if you fight among yourselves, than take it out on everybody else.

    Yes, I’m a westerner. Yes, I’m slightly afraid of the crazed military machine called USA. The fact that my country has a nice diplomatic relationship with USA doesn’t give me much comfort, as long as we’ve got these damn oil reserves… :S

    (Am I a bad guy now, BTW?)

  26. An “enhancement” to your comment on the SR-71 being designed in the 1960s: Kelly Johnson first set pen to paper on the “Archangel” (which became the A-12 which was redeveloped into the SR-71) in 1957. Kind of makes you wonder what the F are they designing now???

  27. Evil Merodach

    This is wrong, wrong. Without the alien tech harbored at Area 51 we would not have FTL travel, teleportation, unlimited zero-point energy, godlike AIs, cures for all diseases, and immortality — not to mention our flying cars and jetpacks. Do you think these we actually developed these technologies on our own?

    Oh wait.

  28. jasonB

    Good to see McCain and Obama shake hands and make nice.

  29. @ultraholland,

    That’s the problem! All of the competent government officials are assigned to the “Secret Alien Spaceship Research” and “Moon Hoax Cover-up”" departments. We just need to reassign them to other areas of the government and suddenly our government will work perfectly every time!

    Seriously, though, I love how these conspiracy theories state that the government is so perfectly able to hide their secrets from everyone except the conspiracy theorists who somehow stumbled across the truth. Let’s assume for a second that a covert and extremely competent branch of the government really was zealously protecting an alien spaceship and/or alien bodies from the public. If a conspiracy theorist really did stumble close enough to the truth, they’d be silenced before they could speak out at all. And it would be made to look like an accident. Oops. Looks like Billy Nutcase had a heart attack. What a shame.

  30. Jeff

    All this alien stuff is pure bunk. I was just thinking about the speed of light, and even if the “UFO” could travel at speed of light (laugh laugh laugh!!!!), they still would be unlikely to stumble upon earth in this vast galaxy.

    I just can’t believe smart guys like Stan Friedman seriously study this, it’s so obviously a waste of time.

  31. James H.

    I would love to walk around there and see what they are working on. Last “rumors” on something they were working on was the Aurora project, a suspected hypersonic aircraft to replace the SR-71.

  32. Ian

    LOL. The Soviets did the same thing with UFO investigators during the cold war. Ooohhhh! Spooky patterns in the sky at night? Of course comrade, it could be an alien craft! And not a missile test. No. Not that. Yes, share your “investigation” with your American UFO contacts! By all means!

  33. kkozoriz

    We didn’t get velcro from Area 51. It came from Carbon Creek, PA. How are we supposed to believe you Phil if you can’t even get something that simple right?

    http://memory-alpha.org/en/wiki/Velcro

  34. Chris A.

    @Doug Watts (#7)

    >>Like it or not, there are bad guys out there who would love to see America fall, and this kind of technology helps prevent that from happening.

    >Please. Our military budget exceeds the entire rest of the world’s combined. Yet we have a higher poverty rate, higher illiteracy rate and higher infant mortality rate than many other countries. Why? Because we spend a giant portion of our federal budget on things that kill people instead of things that help people.

    I’m no militarist, but could it be that part of the reason we spend so much on defense is because it’s a lot more expensive to protect your citizens in a free country than in a dictatorship? I’ll bet it’s a lot cheaper to prevent terrorism when no one can travel within the country without papers, and personal privacy is non-existent.

    Also doesn’t help that the U.S. is a large and obvious target, perceived as “haves” to be brought down by the “have-nots,” perhaps more so than any other nation on Earth.

  35. Ad Hominid

    Little Green Footballs had the
    real story on this (and much else besides) last August, thanks to the diligent research of one Shiplord Kirel (Harry Turtledove fans take note).

  36. The alien stuff was shipped off to Wright-Patterson, duh.

  37. Lonny Eachus

    This is “sort of” old news. Much of the goings on at Area 51 were declassified at least a year ago.

  38. Utakata

    Well, there could of been flying saucers, but ones they built that didn’t really work out…since it’s not the predominant design of aircraft today. And likely not ones that crashed from star systems far, far away. :)

    There was also this weather balloon thing they had I read back in Skeptic Magazine sometime ago called Project Mogal I believe. It was supposed to be an alternative way to spy on Russia and other sources before they had satellites and high flying aircraft. But it was predominantly the largest cause of UFO sightings including the infamous UFO crash at Rosewell…since one of those balloons had an accidental landing in New Mexico. Though the dowling should of given it away as something more terrestrial to the public. Just saying…

  39. BJN

    @ Peter Kok and Doug Watts

    Well said.

    The way to fight a military-industrial empire that puts billions into advanced weapons of war is simple. You break the rules. Fly jets into skyscrapers or become a walking bomb. Find the inevitable vulnerabilities of military technology and exploit them.

    Does anyone really think stealth technology keeps today’s “bad guys” at bay? Meanwhile, we turn ourselves into dispassionate remote-control killers using drone technology. What’s the point of “defending” freedom while eroding the moral underpinnings of your culture?

  40. Kullat Nunu

    I’m no militarist, but could it be that part of the reason we spend so much on defense is because it’s a lot more expensive to protect your citizens in a free country than in a dictatorship? I’ll bet it’s a lot cheaper to prevent terrorism when no one can travel within the country without papers, and personal privacy is non-existent.

    Can’t see that’s the reason. I think the reason why your defense budget is so insane is partially because of various legacy government programs that nobody wants to close (because that would be suicidal for a politician because of the jobs lost etc.), because of defense industry lobbyists (resulting in costly programs which have questionable usability), and partly because much of your “defense” is actually for offense. And lot of defense budget money goes to warring in other countries or preparation. An honest defense budget could keep you more than safe enough with a small fraction of the current budget.

    Also doesn’t help that the U.S. is a large and obvious target, perceived as “haves” to be brought down by the “have-nots,” perhaps more so than any other nation on Earth.

    Not true either. Invading US by any country is next to impossible (a large country can be even bigger problem for the invader, remember Russia), furthermore you are pretty safe between the oceans (unless Canada or Mexico decides to invade you ;) ). Most who want you to “fall” are people who actually just want you to stop meddling in their business. Nothing helps anti-Americanism to grow more than invading countries or supporting local dictatorships.

  41. Plutonium being from Pluto

    ‘Area 51 used to gasp test secret planes not flying saucers

    Well d’uh! Somehow I am not at all surprised by this. ;-)

  42. IVAN3MAN AT LARGE

    Jeff (#31):

    I just can’t believe smart guys like Stan Friedman seriously study this, it’s so obviously a waste of time.

    No, he’s not wasting time; he’s making a profit: [UFO nutters] × [UFO books] = $M
    ;-)

  43. dluv

    @ BJN
    “The way to fight a military-industrial empire that puts billions into advanced weapons of war is simple. You break the rules. Fly jets into skyscrapers or become a walking bomb. Find the inevitable vulnerabilities of military technology and exploit them.
    Does anyone really think stealth technology keeps today’s “bad guys” at bay? Meanwhile, we turn ourselves into dispassionate remote-control killers using drone technology. What’s the point of “defending” freedom while eroding the moral underpinnings of your culture?”

    Hmm…..dispassionate remote-control killers….Really BJN? Thousand of troops killed in the past decade in Iraq and Afghanistan and that is all you see??? The occasional predator strike??? If you’ve ever spoken to someone that’s come back from either theater you’d probably not think in those terms. But we can assume you are a cable-news guy so you decide for yourself. That’s like saying all muslims are terrorists, which you would probably believe since you expunge sweeping generalizations (like most people nowadays).

  44. dluv

    Oh and regarding big defense numbers, take it from me because I have experience in this subject. The Navy is nothing more than welfare for defense contractors. And thank god in my case….

  45. Michael Swanson

    @ Vaccination Dalek

    “If there were advanced alien tech, we’d have busted it out on Iraq years ago.”

    The problem is you’re only thinking one conspiracy deep. We have the technology to win the wars in the Middle East in mere moments, but we need to distract the populace with long, drawn out conflicts with people are culturally different than most Americans (focus their xenophobia on people different religions, brown skin, etc.) Imagine how the masses would react if they knew that Bush Sr., Clinton, Bush Jr. and Obama were all reptilian clones, and that once lizard-Obama eliminates all of our civil rights they can just start eating us and stealing all of Earth’s water?

    I just hope we don’t caught in the crossfire when the lizard people start a war with the subterranean Antarctic Nazis.

  46. Michel

    If Area 51 really excisted it would be on one of your banknotes. Like all those other secret things that’s on them.

  47. jcm

    Warning: tin foil hats are required while reading this post.

  48. Charlie Young

    @Kullat Nunu

    Actually, since Canada is so resource rich, wouldn’t it make more sense for the US to annex them rather than vice versa? Yes, I’m kidding…

  49. Bob

    Of course there are no UFO’s at Area 51.

    They are all at Area S-4…

    ooooops – how do I erase this.kdfohsdf0ihsdsdkndv

  50. I think the phrase “Independent Speculative Analysis” is so much better than “conspiracy theory.”

  51. I’ve always felt that Area 51′s modern purpose is to be as mysterious as possible in order to keep people looking at it. Then they can test all their experimental stuff somewhere else without being noticed.

  52. Kerthunk

    @Dluv

    Actually, there is something of a moral/ethical concern with modern warfare technology. As drones, remove missiles/remote bombs/ etc become more and more how we fight, you lose any sort of personal connection to war.

    while this keeps our boys safe, it creates a situation where your nation has nothing to lose by going to war, was all your going to lose is machine, and no hesitation to pull that trigger, as it looks like nothing more then a game. What are the ultimate consequences of a nation fighting a disconnected war like that?

  53. TheInquisitor

    It makes me wonder about other such sites in other countries. Surely any government with a half decent military is going to have secret projects. So why don’t we hear about similar secret bases in other countries? Is the US just not as good at keeping a secret?

  54. Martha

    Article: “Goodbye Ufology, Hello Truth”

    http://followthemagicthread.blogspot.com/2010/04/goodbye-ufology-hello-truth.html

    “What I discovered was that the phenomenon is based in deception – of the human kind –and that there is no way ANYONE will understand the real truth unless they are willing to first accept that. No, I am not talking about some grandiose cover-up of alien visitation, but instead the documented manipulation of people and information for purposes that I can only speculate on. How do I unequivocally know this to be true? Well let me lay it out for you in laymen’s terms.

    People are easily manipulated because we are all subject to the psychological pressures of ego, biased beliefs and tunnel vision. For example, those that KNOW that earth is being visited by aliens have blinders on and no amount of alternative explanation will convince them otherwise. They are the die hard in the wool believers for whom Ufology serves as a religion to confirm their beliefs that they take on faith. On the other end of the spectrum are the debunkers who must counter every claim with a reason why it can’t be so, without bothering to examine the data or lift a finger in conducting original research of their own.”

  55. Mike Coombes

    “But I’ll spell it out: it’s nonsense. Yes, Area 51 exists, but the idea that we keep alien tech there is pretty silly. First, all our technology has a clear line of antecedents; the transistor, velcro, smart metals, and so on didn’t just pop up ex nihilo as some UFO enthusiasts claim.”

    I had the pleasure of attending a talk by Ted Maiman ( he built the first laser) and asking him if he was an alien. He hadn’t heard that the laser was supposed to be alien technology out of Area 51 and thought it very funny.

  56. Steve in Dublin

    Martha @ #56

    Yes, I read the linked article too. And your point is… ?

  57. Floyd

    #57: Martha’s point is: “People are easily manipulated because we are all subject to the psychological pressures of ego, biased beliefs and tunnel vision.”

    There you go. That’s why there’s skeptical inquiry.

  58. RH

    dluv, I don’t think “expunge” means what you think it means.

  59. Pete

    Velcro not an alien technology? Now you’ve lost me.

  60. Plutonium being from Pluto

    @12. Pieter Kok Says:

    “Like it or not, there are bad guys out there who would love to see America fall.”
    Exactly! There is no room for any nuance here. It’s statements like this that give the rest of the world the impression that Americans are a bunch of trigger-happy cowboys.

    Um what part of that quote is so untrue or objectionable actually?

    Do you think Osama Bin Laden and Al Quaida don’t exist?

    Do you think North Korea and Iran and China are all generous, kind, soft-hearted nations with the interests of the world at heart?

    Just how blind or foolish are you?

    What the BA said there is entirely correct &, if anything, the problem with the US military response to the bad guys of the world is too weak & too reluctant to take action.

    Look at what Rome did to Carthage – it destroyed the city utterly and sowed the ground with salt so it could never be rebuilt.

    Look at how the Mongol empire dealt with cities that were just a bit too slow to surrender, they got stomped out of existence and their inhabitants massacred and turned to pyramids of skulls or slaves.

    Or if you aren’t willing to learn from history look around today at what China is doing to the Tibetans or what Russia is doing to the Chechens.

    Compare that with America that rebuilt (West) Germany and Japan post WWII. That did so so generouslyand sowell that these natiosn are now major world leaders and economic powerhouses that still choose to rely onUS military aid. That puts up with Iran and North Korea’s violent & hateful trash talk, that is now backing out from Iraq after liberating its people from Saddam Hussein’s tyranny and hands that oil-rich country back to its ungratefuland civil-war fighting population without even asking them to pay the bill.

    No, the USA is NOT an imperialist brute power or the globe’s bad guy.

    No, not everybody in the world can be negotiated with rationally and accepted as legitimate international actors.

    Sometimes military strength *is* needed for self-protection.

    Sometimes (as Israelis know all too well) pre-emptive strikes are required for a better more peaceful world.*

    The USA is clearly NOT in the practice of empire building and exporting its culture and values to the world.

    Some would say that’s rather a pity given the nastiness of the alternatives & the benefits and inherent betterness of the American & wider Western way.

    —-

    * Iraq was building nuclear WMD’s – back in the 1980′s . Israel took care of that potential nightmare for the world & was widely condemned for its trouble. Imagine how much worse things might have been had Saddam had nukes in 2003. Yes, his WMD’s were a bluff – but at the time the fear & threat was genuine and no one should shed any tears that that murderous dictator was overthrown. The world could do with less dictators and more democracies.

  61. I love the Area 51 stories, and while I’ve known for years that Area 51 is used for testing secret aircraft and technologies, I still have to wonder where exactly some of those technologies came from.

    Lets assume Roswell “happened” on July 2, 1945 how many huge leaps in technology happened shortly afterward?

    1946 Mobile Telephone Service (predecessor to Cellular Service)
    1947 Transistor (Predated by the Vacuum Tube)
    1947 Pocket Calculator (Mechanical)
    1948 Holography

    There were not small leaps from their predecessors they were huge leaps and all happened in a short period of time. I’m not saying it was from reverse engineered Alien Technology but you have to admit it gives people an excuse for that theory, even your 1960′s spy planes were a huge leap considering Jet Propulsion didn’t kick off until WWII less than 30 years prior.

    If you ask me, what I think? Aliens have become to many the Zeus, Athena, Helena, and Aphrodite of our time, we explain things we can’t understand or explain on UFO’s and Little Green Men, long ago people heard a story of a strange event they couldn’t explain rationally and the gods did it. Now it’s Aliens, doing it. Does this mean I think there is no possibility that there are intelligent life forms out there? No I firmly believe there is and they are all smart enough to keep away from all the idiots on planet earth.

  62. Plutonium being from Pluto

    ^ * See : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Opera

    Methinks the world could do with a more muscular and pro-active US that was more willing to take aggressive pre-emptive military action and was less willing to put up with all the sh .. er, stuff .. that Iran and North Korea and China get up to.

    It may be Politically Incorrect & untrendy to say so but there is much to be said for a stable “Imperialist” superpower enforcing a Pax Romana, Pax Britannnia or Pax Americana on the rest of the world. Empires need not be all bad news. In fact they’re often termed civilisations and enable Humanity to flourish and achieve remarkable, wonderful things and make lives better for almost all their citizens.

  63. Gary Ansorge

    63. GCronk:

    From Wikipedia:

    “Physicist Julius Edgar Lilienfeld filed the first patent for a transistor in Canada in 1925, describing a device similar to a Field Effect Transistor or “FET”.

    If someone could transport a ram jet powered drone back to this same period(1925) and the scientists of that time tried to reverse engineer it, they would likely never figure out how a kerosene fueled piece of pipe with no moving parts could have ever flown, since they have to get up to about 400 mph/ to generate compression and containment for the ram jet to work. That’s only 85 years in our past, so how do you think we could ever reverse engineer tech from a couple of centuries ahead of us?

    Reverse engineering only works if the stuff you’re working on is in the same knowledge ball park as you, meaning it’s based on the same basic knowledge as the person doing the engineering. If your tech requires a new paradigm to be understood, we would never understand w/o the new paradigm in place. W/o the theory of quantum mechanics we’d never be able to understand or be able to copy LSI circuits or even SEE the circuits. They’re deposited these days with ion beams. IF you can’t see what a device is made of, you can’t copy it.

    That said, I hope the US Air Force is taking Leik Myrabos Light Craft seriously. That would be so cool!

    Gary 7

  64. Kullat Nunu

    Do you think Osama Bin Laden and Al Quaida don’t exist?

    No, but you won’t stop them by invading another countries (that’s exactly what Osama wanted!) Only way is counterintelligence and infiltration into the terrorist groups. And in some cases, a surgical strike on the terrorist cells if the intelligence is good enough.

    Do you think North Korea and Iran and China are all generous, kind, soft-hearted nations with the interests of the world at heart?

    Do you really think North Korea or Iran is going to attack US? What could they achieve by that? Suicide? North Korea has huge army, but do you really think it is well-equipped? Iran’s military forces are comparable to that of Jordan! And it would be totally insane for China to threaten you military. They’d rather do business with you. It won’t be your next cold war enemy, unless you really try to make it one.

    All of that is hype to keep the military industry running.

    No, the USA is NOT an imperialist brute power or the globe’s bad guy.

    Please tell that to Iraqis and Afghans, whose standard of living is even worser today than before. Or to Vietnamese or Philippines. Or to native Americans. Sure it has been nicer than some, but that’s not an excuse.

    Sometimes (as Israelis know all too well) pre-emptive strikes are required for a better more peaceful world.

    Well, Israelis are not exactly bringing peace to this world.

  65. zackoz

    Well said, Kullat.

    Pluto, try a thought experiment. It’s called empathy. Try it some time.

    Just imagine for a moment that you are an Iraqi or an Afghan.
    Would you be totally loyal to the United States? Why?

    Imperial powers can never understand why the locals aren’t grateful.The Chinese are baffled the Tibetans don’t understand that civilisation is being brought to them.

    Yes, the US is a far more benign power than most. But that does not seem to stop imperial behaviour at times, eg Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, and have you seen the Wikileaks video?

    Power is dangerous, even for Americans.

  66. MaDeR

    Logic of PBFP reminds me of nazi holocaust deniers. No, no one killed a few milion jews, but if we could, we would do it again. Of course, I am not comparing nazi politics to american-thumping PBFP, only point that he have same logic. Insane troll logic. I dare you all, google it. :>

    Justification: PBFP deny that America behaves like empire doing retarded actions on whim, but later admit that is what he would like (of course, he will not call it “retarded”). Fact: America is already like this. Predictably, it didn’t work and PBFP is veeery surprised that USA is not considered everywhere and by everyone as pinnacle of creation and example for everyone to follow. Oh dear.

    “The USA is clearly NOT in the practice of empire building”
    Newsflash: they are already empire, and for long time. Something about “world superpower” and things kinda like that.

    “and exporting its culture and values to the world. ”
    Funny that I see McDonald in half of countries in world, including mine. Ever heard about soft power? Cultural domination? Exporting democracy on bombs? Or “inherent betterness of the American & wider Western way”? USA is not ” exporting its culture and values to the world” in same way that Earth is not round. And again: you deny it, but you like it. Insane troll logic.

    “there is much to be said for a stable “Imperialist” superpower enforcing a Pax Romana, Pax Britannnia or Pax Americana on the rest of the world.”
    Good news for you: USA already tries this. Question of successfulness are, of course, completely different matter.

    Last thought: your whines are funny in a scary way. This is like children that throws stones at each other for fun and later cries because being hit by stone hurts. You want empire that shoot at anything that said empire does not like and you whine that no one likes USA. Someone that is not complete idiot would thought that these things are somewhat related. Or learn a thing or two about “consequences of own actions”. Ah well.

  67. Ah, Area 51. Or as people who study such things know it, the place where the CIA tested the U-2 and trained its pilots.

    Roswell was indeed a government coverup — of a spy balloon. The weather balloon bit was the standard cover for that operation, you see. The flying saucer thing was a clever bit of ad-libbing by agents on the scene.

    It’s amazing the things you learn when you study they real history of covert reconaissance during the Cold War. Way more interesting than this fake alien crap.

  68. Jason

    Velcro was indeed given to us by aliens. It was passed over in 1957 in the small community of Carbon Creek, Pennsylvania. A passing alien spacecraft noted the lunch of Sputnik and came in for a closer look. Unfortunately, they were stranded in this small town for several months until they were rescued.

    Besides, once everyone became aware of Area 51, the government got sneaky and moved everything to Area 52.

  69. SionH

    “there are bad guys out there who would love to see America fall”

    Has it been established, then, that America is the good guy? I’m not arguing either view, just pointing out that I didn’t think it was a given.

  70. mike bukhart

    This is what I allways thought.About the goverment and conspiracy.Look the goverment could not cover up Watergate,Iran Contra, or Bill Clintons fun with interns .How could they have covered up the capture of an alien space craft ?

  71. mike bukhart

    Two more things: This debunks the ps2 game Area 51 for those who are’nt video game players ,this game is an update version of an earlyer game of the same name you are a army hasmat whos sent to Area 51 to combat a plage outbrake thats mutateing the base personale every conspircy you could think of is put in this game execpt Jimmy Hofa and Elvis. The story is the grays ,at war with some other aliens (who are’nt reviled) came to Earth to use human DNA to make the ultimate bio wepon mosters called theta and super theta they crashed at Roswell and made a deal with the goverment called the pact:the goverment ingnores the Grays kidnaping people in return for the Grays giving the millatary there wepons tecnogy .2 Phill must love the show UFO.

  72. mike bukhart

    Two more things: This debunks the ps2 game Area 51 for those who are’nt video game players ,this game is an update version of an earlyer game of the same name you are a army hasmat whos sent to Area 51 to combat a plage outbrake thats mutateing the base personale every conspircy you could think of is put in this game execpt Jimmy Hofa and Elvis. The story is the grays ,at war with some other aliens (who are’nt reviled) came to Earth to use human DNA to make the ultimate bio wepon mosters called theta and super theta they crashed at Roswell and made a deal with the goverment called the pact:the goverment ingnores the Grays kidnaping people in return for the Grays giving the millatary there wepons tecnogy .2 Phill must love the show UFO.

  73. Halcyon Dayz

    “When the news came out that a base was out there, of course the government’s first line of defense is to deny it.”

    I think that is a really bad idea.
    It might be proper for a government to state: For reasons of national security we can neither confirm or deny.
    But they should never blatantly lie.
    It undermines the public trust.

    I suspect this might be one of the reasons why the US military and government have so many more conspiracy theories associated with them then those of other democracies.

    They lie.

  74. timmer

    phil plait confirms et’s are developing alien technology right here on earth!!!! !! !

  75. Richard

    Anyone who has looked into this would know that not everyone who works in any government facility has a “need to know” anything outside the realm of the project they are working on. The real work on these matters was taking place at S4, not the Area 51 test facility. Thanks, Discover, for doing another “bang up” investigatory piece. Your sources clearly had no need to know outside of their own mundane projects. It’s called “compartmentalization”. Look into it.

  76. Richard (#77): And therefore alien spacecraft really do exist at Area 51?

    “Jumping to conclusions”. Look into it.

  77. Brett Dunbar

    In 2008 the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute calculated that the US military budget was about 41.5% of total world military spending, China was second with 5.8% France and the UK both spent 4.5% Russia was fifth at 4.0%. This means that the US spends about two thirds of what the entire rest of the world spends.

  78. Chris Winter

    Dave_B wrote: “Of course there’s no alien tech in Area 51. We know better now – it’s all in warehouse 13.”

    Surely you mean Hangar 18. ;-)

    Now there was a movie. Space shuttle is about to launch a missile out of the payload bay. Flying saucer swoops down and hovers right in the path of the missile. Sure enough, it gets hit and falls out of control, landing in the American southwest. The shuttle crew gets everything on tape, but after they land all the evidence disappears.

    I kid you not; that is the beginning of the plot line. See:

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0080836/

  79. ray thompson

    A lot of these people need to forget about flying saucers and UFOs and all that, and go to their local public library or college and check out a good book on logic..

  80. Gerard

    Does anybody has evidence that UFOs doesn´t exist? Does anybody has evidence that they do exist?…Phil? …Im not talking about UFOs like we see in the movies or Ytube. We all know flying soucers are taking new shapes as human design explores new tendencies. That´s crap. I´m talking about something that rules the modern physics as we know it. It doesn has to be an intelligent form of life too., just maybe another form of life or maybe another form, without life, just another way of physics. Sorry about my english…and my imagination, maybe? :)

  81. Chris L.

    Even the term Area 51 is archaic. It’s an old Atomic Energy Commission designation of the area. The book Dreamland by Phil Patton covers the history of the lace just fine. I’d also like to say that Gary’s analysis pf the whole reverse engineering thing is spot on. You don’t even need something as sophisticated as a drone to prove it either. Any piece of ubiquitous technology (like a cell phone) would get the same results. You couldn’t build any of it without the technological infrastructure that goes with it.

  82. Jim Chase

    Wow, I knew McCain was a illegal alien supporter, as he panders to greedy businessman’s bottom line, profit, thus cheap labor from any source possible, illegal or not. Just another politico hack, but now I see he is pals with space aliens? Probably wondering home we can use them for cheap labor and maybe trade some beads for cosmic high tech. lol! However, now I wish I had voted for him instead of the socialist now taking us down each day. Next time I will vote for whomever is offered to run against President Obama. And no, there are no Flying Sauces from some planet out there nor have there been any crashes not intentional visits, as far as mankinds knows.

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