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THE LOS ALAMOS CONFERENCE ON AERIAL PHENOMENA, FEB. 16, 1949:

From 1947 to 1949, hundreds of strange green fireballs were observed in New Mexico over vital security installations. Where these meteors? Dr. Lincoln LaPaz, top scientist on meteors, did not think so. The military at Roswell, Sandia, Los Alamos and other sensitive installations were extremely concerned as they had no explanation. Were they revolutionary technology by the soviets or the US? We now know they were not.

This is one of the 24 pages of one of the many formerly secret official documents on this issue. These pages are the minutes of an important conference on the issue held at Los Alamos on February 16, 1949. Representatives of the Army, the FBI, the Air Force and scientists joined together. Dr. La Paz spent two years chasing the green fireballs and explains the issues. Dr. Edward Teller, one of the fathers of the atomic bomb, asks questions.

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The document:

The transcript:

Dr. Bradbury: this is not an excluded? direction like the ... ?

Dr. LaPaz: Due to the fact that they have a curve, and practically all times during which darkness is with us, why they tend to come in from that direction?

Dr. Bradbury: would it be a a shower?

That was my first explanation, as a matter of fact. Geminides showers, with a maximum of December 10 to December 12. The first evidence that I had was Sgt. Kinsley's report on December 2 and since often the forerunners of the showers will ... I thought we were talking about Geminides showers except that I have never observed a green geminide. Matter of fact, a check of the observations made at that time found that there were 414 observations sine 1915 and there wasn't a single one, Geminide or non-Geminide, for which any hue of green was mentioned. Later, for instance on the night of December 12, you could watch the Geminides come down ... and notice that they came in at high angles to the horizontal, whereas the green fireballs, ... incidentally, we have another interesting piece of evidence there - Dr. Sherman Smith from the University - I mention an observation that he made on the same night. The time of the observation is in dispute. According to Dr. Smith it was probably as late as 10:50. He had to wait for a long time, he said, for his wife to pick him up after the concert was over. Mrs. Smith, however, times it around 10:10. Whatever the time, within one hour or say an hour and a half after the green fireball and the horizontal path were observed, we have another extremely bright blue fireball come out of the Geminide rays. I mention this because some of the first persons to concern themselves with this problem suggest that the green fireballs were simply abnormally bright Geminides. Apparently you can have very large Geminides falls of the color estimated by a trained ... checked with the spectrum charts ... is quite distant, I assure you, from the green fireballs.

Comdr. Mandelkorn: How good is the coverage of the observers of the American Meteor Society as far as the top-half of the United States is concerned?

Dr LaPaz: It depends a good deal on the overcast conditions. I would say, however, that this year the Eastern half of the country has offered phenomenal observing conditions. One of my reasons for withdrawing from Ohio State was that after 13 years there I had given up hope of ever seeing a meteorite shower because during the season of maximum intensity of the falls we had a heavy overcast snow and so forth. One the other hand, this year they've had reasonably open skies. I have obtained no report from people in that part of the country. we thought we had a station near or possibly inside the White Sands Proving Ground. Since the 12th of December, you correct me if I exaggerate here, we have been trying to determine the color and other characteristics of the ten or 12 brightest meteors observed at the station. We still don't know what they saw. We know they were operating and they made some photographs, but Captain Neef can probably tell you the red-tape channelization ipedimenta that has dropped out any determinations better than I can.

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This page was last updated on November 19, 2005