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Science and the UFO phenomenon:

Statement by Stanton T. Friedman, 1968:

This statement has been submitted by Stanton T. Friedman, Nuclear Physicist, to the House Committee on Science and Astronautics at July 29, 1968, Symposium on Unidentified Flying Objects, Rayburn Bldg., Washington, D.C.


The biography of Mr. Friedman is:


Mr. Friedman has a relatively unique background in advanced technology, having been actively involved in the development of all of the following advanced systems: nuclear aircraft, nuclear power for space, terrestrial nuclear power, nuclear rockets, fusion rockets.

Professional affiliations include the American Physical Society, the American Nuclear Society, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the Aerial Phenomenon Research Organization, the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena. Mr. Friedman is on the Board of Directors of the UFO Research Institute of Pittsburgh and on the Standards and Program Committees of the Shielding Division of the American Nuclear Society.

Mr. Friedman has presented papers at technical society meetings and has chaired sessions at such meetings. He has written numerous classified and unclassified reports and has published articles on UFOs as well as on radiation shielding.

Mr. Friedman has made dozens of radio and TV appearances across the United States and in Canada. These include the Joe Pyne Show (Los Angeles - radio), Long John Nebel (New York City), the J. P. McCarthy Show in Detroit, all four TV stations in Pittsburgh, and others in Raleigh, Akron, Detroit, Baltimore, Toronto, Waco, Phoenix, Calgary, Albuquerque, etc.

Mr. Friedman, his wife, and three children reside at 702 Summerlea Street in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.


UFO's and Science

I am grateful to the House Committee on Science and Astronautics for inviting me to present my views on Unidentified Flying Objects.[1] These viewpoints shall be presented in the form of answers to specific questions with the references, tables and figures presented at the end of the article. A partial list of the technical organizations to which I have presented a lecture entitled "Flying Saucers are Real" is given in Appendix 1. Appendix 3 is a reprint of an article I wrote.[2] Appendix 2 is a list of patents of saucer-like vehicles. The viewpoints are mine and mine alone and are not to be construed as those of any of the organizations to which I belong or of my employer, Westinghouse Astronuclear Laboratory. The opinions are based upon ten years of study of UFOs and discussions all over the U.S. and in Canada on a private level for eight years and a public level since late 1966 both in question and answer sessions following my illustrated talks and with newspaper, radio, and television reporters with whom I have publicly discussed this subject.

1. To what conclusions have you come with regard to UFOs?

I have concluded that the earth is being visited by intelligently controlled vehicles whose origin is extraterrestrial. This doesn't mean I know where they come from, why they are here, or how they operate.

2. What basis do you have for these conclusions?

Eyewitness and photographic and radar reports from all over the earth by competent witnesses of definite objects whose characteristics such as maneuverability, high speed, and hovering, along with definite shape, texture, and surface features rule out terrestrial explanations.

3. Haven't most sightings been identified as conventional phenomena?

Yes, of course. However, it is only the unidentified objects in which I am interested and on which I base my conclusions. The job of science is to sort data and focus on that which is relevant to the search at hand. Fewer than 1% of Americans have hemophilia or are 7 feet tall or can run a mile in under 4 minutes -- we certainly don't dispute the reality of hemophilia, Wilt Chamberlain, or 4 minute miles.

4. Are there any good unknowns?

Yes, there are very many good unknowns which have been reported and investigated and undoubtedly very many more which have not been reported because of the "laughter curtain". In the most comprehensive detailed scientific investigation ever conducted on this subject, and reported in Reference 3, it was found that 434 out of 2199 sightings evaluated had to be classified as Unknowns. This is 19.7% or a far higher percentage than most people have associated with UFOs. The complete breakdown is shown in Table 1. Table 2 shows the breakdown of sightings by quality. Fully one third of the 9.7% of the sightings labeled as Excellent were identified as Unknowns: one fourth of the Good sightings were labeled Unknown. All it would take to prove the reality of extraterrestrial vehicles is one good sighting not hundreds.

Footnotes at the end of article.


CATEGORY Number Percent
Astronomical 479 21.8
Aircraft 474 21.6
Balloon 339 15.4
Other 233 10.6
Unknown 434 19.7
Insufficient Information 240 10.9
TOTAL 2,199 100

(1) Data from reference 3.


Quality Number Percent of total Unknowns Percent of group
Excellent 213 9.7 71 33.8
Good 757 34.5 188 24.0
Doubtful 794 36.0 103 13.3
Poor 435 19.8 72 16.6
TOTAL 2199 100.0 434 19.7

(1) Data from reference 3.

5. Aren't most of those "unknowns" really sightings for which insufficient data is available to identify an otherwise conventional object?

Absolutely not. If there was not enough information available about a sighting it was labeled "Insufficient Information" not "Unknown" -- again contrary to what many people believe about UFOs.

6. Were there any differences between the Unknowns and the knowns?

A "chi square" statistical analysis was performed comparing the Unknowns in this study to all the "knowns". It was shown that the probability that the unknowns came from the same population of sighting reports as the knowns was less than 1%. This was based on apparent color, velocity, etc. Maneuverability, one of the most distinguished characteristics of UFOs, was not included in this statistical analysis.

7. Weren't most sightings of very short duration, say less than a minute?

The average duration of the sightings labeled as "Unknown" was greater than that for the knowns. More than 70% of the unknowns were under observation for more than 1 minute and more than 45% for more than 5 minutes.

8. Isn't it true that UFOs have never been sighted on radar?

No, it is not, Ref. 3 specifically mentions radar unknowns. In ref. 4, Edward Ruppelt, former head of the official UFO investigative effort, makes specific mention of not only "Unknowns" observed on radar but of combined visual and radar "Unknowns". Hynek [5] also mention radar and visual sightings.

9. Where can I get more information about "Unknowns"?

Ref. 6 presents an unbiased description of about 160 "Unknowns". Ref. 7 includes data on over 700 Unknowns. References 8 and 9 contain many others.

10. Why haven't the worldwide Smithsonian Network of Satellite Tracking cameras picked up "Unknowns"?

The former head of the film evaluation group concerned with the Smithsonian sky watch said [10] that the purpose of the search was to get data on satellite orbits. If a light source on the film could be shown not to be a satellite then no further measurements were made. 10% to 15% of the plates showed anomalous light sources which were not a satellite but were not otherwise identified.

11. How about the other space surveillance radar installations?

Baker in Ref. 11 deals with this question in detail. In summary, the systems are set up to reject signals which refer to anything other than the objects of interest -- typically ballistic missiles coming from certain directions.

12. Aren't the reported maneuvers of UFOs in violation of existing laws of physics?

Not at all. This argument ("It's Impossible") is used when what should really be said is we don't know how to duplicate these maneuvers. Piston aircraft can't fly faster than the speed of sound and a conventional dynamite bomb couldn't have wrecked Hiroshima and a vacuum tube circuit can't fit on the head of a pin but surely we don't say that supersonic flight, atom bombs and microcircuits violate the laws of nature or physics. Present aircraft can't duplicate UFO maneuvers; no laws of physics have been violated by UFOs.

13. Haven't astronomers proved that trips to other stars are impossible?

Again, the answer is no. The studies [12] that conclude that trips to other stars are impossible are based upon false or unnecessary assumptions such as, assuming, that the flight be at orbital velocity.[13] The one comprehensive study of interstellar travel conducted by a JPL group actually concerned with space hardware [14] concluded that with present technology trips to nearby stars are feasible with round trip times being shorter than a man's lifetime and without violating the laws of physics. They assumed that staged vehicles would be used having either fission or fusion propulsion systems.

14. Are fission and fusion propulsion systems actually being developed?

Both fission and fusion propulsion systems for space travel are under development. I have worked on both. The NERVA program has successfully tested a number of nuclear rocket reactors suitable for use in flight throughout the solar system. Flight rated systems offering substantial advantages over chemical propulsion systems could be ready in less than a decade if the current program at Aerojet General, Westinghouse Astronuclear Laboratory, and Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory is supported. References 15 and 16 are good reviews of the nuclear rocket program. The fusion work is not nearly as far along but has been productive at Aerojet General Nucleonics, San Ramon, California. An older review of some of the aspects of this program is given in Ref. 17.

15. Are these the only possibilities?

Not at all. This is one of the major flaws in the "non-believers" arguments; they presume that our technology is the ultimate -- a presumption made by each generation of scientists in the last 75 years and proved wrong by the next generation of engineers and applied scientists. If there is one thing to be learned from the history of science it is that there will be new and unpredictable discoveries comparable with, say, relatively, nuclear energy, the laser, solid state physics, high field superconductivity, etc. It is generally accepted that there are civilizations elsewhere which are much more advanced than are we. Look what technological progress we have made in the last 100 years. Who can guess what we will accomplish in the next thousand years -- or what others have accomplished in the thousand or million or billion year start they may have on us. We still don't know about gravity, for example, no less anti-gravity.

16. Could UFOs be coming here from our own solar system?

They certainly could. We have no data from any other body in the solar system which definitely rules out the existence of advanced civilizations. We frequently forget that the resolution of present photographs of the other planetary bodies is extremely poor. As a matter of fact, there does seem to be a direct correlation between the number of sighting reports per unit time and the closeness of Mars to the earth. Both have periodicities of about 26 months.[18] We make certain space shots at "favorable times". The reverse may also be true but without the restrictions on payload and trajectory placed upon us by our crude, inefficient, space propulsion systems which no thoughtful engineer considers the ultimate.

17. Didn't the Mariner IV pictures prove there isn't any life on Mars?

The Mariner pictures didn't provide proof of life on Mars but they certainly didn't rule it out and were not intended to. Studies[19] of 10,000 pictures of earth taken from orbit with cameras having resolving power equivalent to those on Mariner IV provided only one picture which could be taken to indicate that there is life on the planet called earth.

18. Isn't it true that life as we know it cannot exist on any other body in the solar system?

This statement, though repeated many times, is quite obviously untrue. Consider for a moment the fact that we intend to send men to the moon and by the end of the century to Mars. We expect these men to stay for a while and to return despite the fact that Mars and the moon both supposedly aren't fit for life as we know it. One characteristic of an advanced technological civilization is the ability to provide suitable conditions for life almost anywhere; including under the ocean, in the void of space and on the surface of the airless, waterless moon and Mars. More and more we are also finding that life exists under almost all circumstances.

19. If we are being visited why haven't they landed?

The fact of the matter is that there are many reports of landings. The comprehensive study by scientist J. Vallée [20] reviews 200 landings which occurred in 1954 alone; many of them with multiple witnesses giving reports of humanoids in addition to strange craft either on or just above the ground. Most scientists have unfortunately not examined this data since it was published in a UFO Journal and laughter comes easier than facing up to the evidence.

20. Has the attitude of the scientific Journals and professional community been changing?

There has been a quiet yet enormous change in the attitude of the technological community. I say technological to include the applied scientists and engineers who are far more responsible for the progress of the last 30 years than the academic scientists who are prone to tell us all that is impossible. Examples of the change include the publication of articles by Science [21 22 23 24 25] Astronautics and Aeronautics, [26] the Journal of the Astronautical Sciences [11 27] the American Engineer [28 29 30] Industrial Research, [33] Scientific Research [32 33] Aviation Week and Space Technology. [34 35]. In addition, numerous pro-UFO talks have been presented to local and national meetings of professional groups (see Appendix 1 and Ref. 36, 37) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science is planning a UFO seminar for a national meeting. The AIAA has even set up a UFO Committee.

21. Have there really been any electromagnetic effects associated with UFO sightings?

Indeed such reports are numerous, see for example Ref. 38, which includes stopping of car engines and headlights, and interference with radio and TV reception, magnetic speedometers, and watches.

22. Could these conceivably be related to a propulsion scheme?

There is an enormous amount of work available concerned with magnetoaerodynamics. I received a NASA bibliography with more than 3000 references. Ref. 39 contains abstracts of more than 800 publications dealing with interactions between vehicles and plasmas. Much of this work is classified because ICBM nose cones are surrounded by plasmas. In any event, there is a body of technology which I have studied and which leads me to believe [2] that an entirely new approach to high speed air and space propulsion could be developed using the interactions between magnetic and electric fields with electrically conducting fluids adjacent to the vehicles to produce thrust or lift and reduce or eliminate such other hypersonic flight problems as drag, sonic boom, heating, etc. These notions are based [on] existing technology such as that included in Ref. 40 through 49 though one would expect that a considerable development effort would be required.

23. Have any electromagnetic propulsion systems been operated?

So far as I know no airborne system has been operated which depended on electromagnetic forces for propulsion. At Northwestern, turning on a magnet inside a simulated re-entry vehicle with a plasma around it resulted in a change in the color of the plasma and its location relative to the vehicle. However, an electromagnetic submarine has actually been built and successfully tested. It is described in some detail in References 50-52.

24. Can an EM submarine really be related to a UFO?

Dr. Way's electromagnetic submarine which, incidentally, is silent and would be quite difficult to detect at a distance, is directly analogous to the type of airborne craft I envision except that the shape of the aircraft would most likely be lenticular and the electrically conducting seawater would be replaced with an electrically conducting plasma of ionized air.

25. Would lenticular vehicles fly?

I certainly think so. We seem to believe that airplanes have the only possible shape probably because the Wright brothers plane had the same outline which in turn was like that of birds. As pointed out by Chatham in Ref. 53, flight is still only a byproduct of high forward velocity leading to the need for long runways and high speed landings and takeoff. Present airplanes are quite obviously inefficient in terms of fuel consumption, payload fraction, and volume of air and airport space per passenger. After all the SST will only carry a few hundred passengers though it will occupy the space of a football field capable of holding at least ten times as many people. Fuel weight is greater than payload weight and neither is a very high fraction of system weight. It is interesting to note that most scientific progress has come from doing things differently rather than using the same technique -- microcircuits aren't Just smaller vacuum tubes; lasers aren't just better light bulbs. Many people are not aware that the U.S. Patent Office has granted more than ten patents for what one might honestly call flying saucer shaped craft all of which claim great maneuverability and the ability to rise vertically. Some can supposedly hover. None of these use magnetoaerodynamic techniques. For those who are interested, the patents are listed in Appendix 3. This list hasn't been up-dated for a couple of years.

26. Have any members of your audience seen any UFOs?

I have taken to asking whether any members of my audiences have seen what they would call a UFO. Typically 3-10% are willing to raise their hands and usually there are others who approach me privately. These data, though limited, tend to support the Gallup Poll of 1966 which revealed that 5 million adult Americans claimed to have observed a UFO. Interestingly enough the official files contain fewer than 12,000 reports.

27. Were these sightings by your audience reported to investigative bodies?

In general, no. At Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory 20 of the 600 listeners indicated that they had seen something odd but only one had reported what he had seen.

28. Is there some way to get more data about UFOs besides reading reports?

There are several approaches that should be taken.

(a) Lift the "laughter curtain" so that more observers are willing to report what they see and more scientists will become involved.

(b) Using existing technology establish instrumented investigative teams and automated observation instrumentation such as that recommended by Dr. Baker before the Committee on Science and Astronautics.

(c) A world wide communication and study effort should be begun.

(d) A very large survey should be conducted to determine the characteristics of the objects that have been observed. The most comprehensive picture we have of ball lightning resulted from carefully conducted surveys by McNally [54] and Rayle. [55] UFOs in my opinion are definitely not ball lightning or other natural plasmas but are analogous to ball lightning and earthquakes in that their appearance cannot be predicted and they cannot be reproduced in the lab or in the field but they have been observed.

29. Are there any other references of interest to scientists?

Yes, References 56-62.

30. Haven't you biased your comments by not discussing at any length the work of Marcowitz, Menzel, and Klass?

The paper by Marcowitz [12] and the books by Menzel [63 64] and Klass [65] will undoubtedly be read by scientists of the 21st century as "classics" illustrating a non-scientific approach to UFOs by people who, for whatever reason, would not examine the data relevant to UFOs or advanced technology. Marcowitz was totally wrong about fission and fusion propulsion systems, didn't even consider electromagnetic propulsion, and was obviously unaware of current technology and the data such as I mentioned earlier about UFOs. McDonald [62] has discussed Menzel's approach in detail, but let me also point out that in Ref. 64, fewer than 30 sightings ever listed as "unknowns" were discussed and no mention was made of the 434 "Unknowns" of Ref. 3 or even the 71 Excellent Unknowns of this study. I agree with Klass on only one item, many people have observed glowing plasmas; but I believe they were adjacent to vehicles rather than ball lightning or corona discharge. He didn't even consider this possibility despite all his talk about plasmas and despite the enormous amount of plasma-vehicle data which is available. In summary, I feel that these three gentlemen have made strong attempts to make the data fit their hypotheses rather than trying to do the much more difficult job of creating hypotheses which fit the data.



S. T. Friedman has talked about UFOs to these groups (partial list):



Patent No. By TITLE Granted
3,067,967 I.R. Barr Flying machine Dec. 11, 1962
2,772,968 J.C. Fischer, Jr Circular aircraft and control system therefore Nov. 27, 1956
2,947,496 A.L. Leggett Jet-propelled aircraft Aug. 2, 1960
2,801,058 C.P. Lent Saucer-shaped aircraft July 30, 1957
2,876,964 H.F. Streib Circular wing aircraft Mar. 10, 1959
2,997,013 W.A. Rice Propulsion system Aug. 22, 1961
3,124,323 J.C.M. Frost Aircraft propulsion and control Mar. 10, 1964
2,876,965 H.P. Streib Circular wing aircraft with universally tiltable ducted powerplant Mar. 10, 1959
2,939,648 H. Fleissner Rotating jet aircraft with lifting disk wing and centrifuging tanks June 7, 1960
3,103,324 N.C. Price High velocity, high altitude VTOL aircraft Sept 10, 1963



There are a few standard responses to any statement that "the earth is being visited by intelligently controlled vehicles whose origin is extraterrestrial." The simplest is ridicule, coupled with a comment that flying saucers are figments of the imagination, or optical illusions, or motes in the eye, or hoaxes, or misidentified conventional phenomena seen under unusual circumstances by untrained observers. These, however, are all Identified Flying Objects, and not the Unidentified Flying Objects with which my statement is concerned.

The next simplest response is: "We are certainly not alone in the Universe and surely some civilizations are more advanced than ours, but interstellar travel is not feasible because of the vast distances between such civilizations and the great quantity of energy and time required for the trip." These critics ignore our lack of data on intercivilization distances the possibility of unknown (to us) flight technology, and studies in this area.[1] Another response is that the reported activity of UFOs is not rational since, if "they" were advanced enough to get here, they would surely try to communicate with us.

These responses avoid coming to grips with the reported data. Those interested in data -- and there is plenty of it [2-13] -- are advised to consult the References and derive a hypothesis other than extraterrestrial vehicles to fit the facts, rather than to try to make the facts fit the hypothesis that "we are not being visited because -- " (in 25 words or less).

A particularly interesting aspect of the data from all over the world is that electromagnetic effects are frequently observed in association with the presence of UFOs, along with the fact that many observations suggest that what is being observed is a "vehicle" having a plasma region adjacent toil -- "vehicle" because of its metal-like surface, large size, maneuvers indicating intelligent control, well-defined shape, surface features such as "port holes, antenna, landing gears," lights, etc.; and plasma because of bright glows rather than color, changes in the color of the glow associated with changes in velocity, luminous boundary layers, and appearance on film of regions not seen by the naked eye. The EM effects include interference with the operation of automobile engines, radios, and headlights; interference with the operation of radio and TV sets, compasses, magnetic speedometers, power systems; residual magnetism in metal objects, watches, etc. [13]

During the past decade a vast amount of terrestrial technology, much of it classified, has been developed concerning the interactions of airborne vehicles and plasmas.[14] The development of lightweight, compact, high-field superconducting magnets has also led to much work on the potential benefits to be derived from placing a magnet within a high-speed vehicle to interact with a plasma around the vehicle. Such a combination might be used to reduce vehicle heating, control aerodynamic drag, exert control forces on the vehicle, provide power for its operation, open a "magnetic" communications window, and change the vehicle radar profile. In addition, the magnets might be used to provide shielding against space radiation. Numerous reports cover such applications. [13-17]

A review of this literature and an extrapolation of existing technology suggest that with considerable effort an entirely new EM approach to hypersonic flight might be developed which, in many respects, could duplicate UFO characteristics. In turn, this leads to the notion that observed UFO behavior is not so unreasonable as might at first appear to be the case. The measurement of EM parameters of UFOs could well provide information on both UFO characteristics and new propulsion.


(Items 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 13 available from UFO Research Institute, Suite 311, 508 Grant St., Pittsburgh, Pa. 15219.)

Ed.: For additional comments on UFOs see the following AIA references:

Also see:

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