UFO Conjectures

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Green Fireballs (and the quantum measurement effect)

Here are a few excerpts from Flying Saucers Have Landed, provided by Desmond Leslie in Part One of that dismissed book (mentioned here previously).

The excerpts deal with the green fireball phenomenon, which had its heyday in the late 1940s and early 1950s, with sporadic sightings after that. [See link below]

I’ve highlighted what strikes me as interesting about the Project Twinkle effort and that is this: when an all out effort was made to capture the things via various scientific methods, the green fireballs did not/would not appear.

This follows the quantum maxim that measurement (observation) of a quantum event alters that event. (I’ve elaborated on that “maxim” in various places, allowing that when a camera appears in a crowd, the dynamic of that crowd will change – a Marshall McLuhan effect.)

The quantum “maxim” seems to apply, not only to the green fireball phenomenon, but to UFO sightings generally; that is, when a UFO is spotted or seen, the UFO’s behavior seems to change. (Some see this as an indication of an “intelligent agency” while I see it as the result of the quantum measurement/observation effect.)

Anyway, here are the Leslie excerpts:

On the night of 2 November 1951 a ball of kelly-green fire, larger than the moon and blazing several times more brightly, flashed eastward across the skies of Arizona. It raced, straight as a bullet, parallel to the ground, and then exploded in a frightful paroxysm of light—without making a sound. At least 165 people saw the incredible thing; hundreds more witnessed the similar flight of countless other fireballs that since December 1945 have bathed the hills of the southwest in their lunar glare.

In the last year they have been seen as far afield as Pennsylvania, Maryland and Puerto Rico. Reports came so thick and fast during 1948 that in 1949 the Air Force established " Project Twinkle " to investigate them. " Project Twinkle" established a triple photo-theodolite post at Vaughn, North Mexico, to obtain scientific data on the fireballs. Day and night, week in, week out, for three months, a crew kept vigil. Ironically, while fireballs continued flashing everywhere else in the south-west, they saw nothing until the project was transferred to the Holloman Air Force base at Alamgordo [sic], North Mexico. There, during another three-month siege, they saw a few but were unable to make satisfactory computations because of the fireballs’ great speed. Search parties have had no better luck. They have combed in vain the countryside beneath the point of disappearance; not a trace of tell-tale substance has been found on the ground.’

‘Evaluation. The popular south-west belief that a strange meteor shower was underway has been blasted by Dr. Lincoln La Paz, mathematician, astronomer and director of the Institute of Meteorites at the University of New Mexico. He points out that normal fireballs do not appear green; they fall in the trajectory forced on them by gravity, are generally as noisy as a freight train and leave meteorites where they hit. The green New Mexican species does none of these things. Neither do the green fireballs appear to be electrostatic phenomena — they move too regularly and too fast.

‘If the fireballs are the product of a United States weapons project, as some south-westerns believe, it is a very secret one indeed: the Atomic Energy Commission and every other government agency connected with weapons development has denied to Life any responsibility for the fireballs. Could they be self-destroying Russian reconnaissance devices ? Not likely. While the United States believes the Russians have an intercontinental guided missile, there is no intelligence that indicates they have developed silent power plants or objects capable of moving nearly as fast as meteors (twelve miles a second). Yet — for whatever it may be worth — the only reports of green fireballs prior to 1945 came from the Baltic area.

‘The extreme greenness of the fireballs has impressed most witnesses. When asked to indicate the approximate colour on a spectrum chart, most of them have touched the band at 5,200 angstroms — close to the green of burning copper.

Copper is almost never found in meteorites; the friction of the air oxidises it shortly after he meteor enters the upper atmosphere. However, a curious fact has been recorded by aerologists. Concentrations of copper particles are now present in the air of Arizona and New Mexico, particularly in "fireball areas ". These were not encountered in air samples made before 1948.’

In 1934 I [Desmond Leslie] was at school in the south of England and, one November evening after ‘lights out’, our dormitory was suddenly lit by a brilliant green glare. With yells of delight we rushed to the windows, in time to see an immense green fireball move slowly across the sky and disappear behind the Sussex Downs. It was so bright that all the school grounds were lit up in this unearthly green glow. The walls of a white cottage half a mile away reflected the light almost as brightly as a green neon sign. Our speculations, however, were interrupted by the appearance of an angry master, who had come to investigate the commotion. 

27 April. [1952] 10.0 p.m. Ann Arbor, Michigan. 42.25° Latitude, 83.75° Longitude.

One brilliant blue-green object trailed by greenish sparks falling from it, crossed the sky with great speed, from north to south. [SOURCE: Ann Arbor News, 29 April.]

A few relatively current green UFO (fireball) sightings:



  • Good afternoon,

    My own interest in the area of rare natural phenomena that may potentially explain UFO reports and the field observation project has conducted me to study statistical patterns of recurrence.

    A random occurring phenomenon may appear to cluster for a short period of time but will be unpredictable in the long term:
    for example, two unrelated aircraft crashes that occurs the same week. This is pure chance.

    A phenomenon that occurs in clusters in time will manifest itself a lot of times in a small period of time then stops . For example: meteor showers, earthquake aftershocks. Statistical analysis of time series can be used to find if the distribution of events is clustered or random.

    For the green fireballs studied by project Twinkle, if the occurrences were clustered (Earth crossing the tail of a comet or asteroid debris) and the study team took too much time to start the field observation project, then this is a missed opportunity, not intelligent behaviour from the fireballs. The same applies for recurrent UFO sightings that seem to stop
    when trained observers go to the site. For the latter, of course, I assume that the reports are unexplained. If the sightings
    stops simply because the observers find that previous sightings have a mundane explanation, then this is not an observer effect.

    Proving that there is an "observer effect" when studying the occurrences of a phenomenon needs a very strict protocol to avoid interpreting random variation as evidence of such an effect.

    Green fireballs are still observed these days:


    The green colour is no longer considered a mystery for a fireball:

    From the web site of the American Meteor Society:

    "Vivid colors are more often reported by fireball observers because the brightness is great enough to fall well within the range of human color vision. These must be treated with some caution, however, because of well-known effects associated with the persistence of vision. Reported colors range across the spectrum, from red to bright blue, and (rarely) violet. The dominant composition of a meteoroid can play an important part in the observed colors of a fireball, with certain elements displaying signature colors when vaporized. For example, sodium produces a bright yellow color, nickel shows as green, and magnesium as blue-white. The velocity of the meteor also plays an important role, since a higher level of kinetic energy will intensify certain colors compared to others. Among fainter objects, it seems to be reported that slow meteors are red or orange, while fast meteors frequently have a blue color, but for fireballs the situation seems more complex than that, but perhaps only because of the curiosities of color vision as mentioned above."

    An anomalous phenomenon (ball of light) that may occur at the same time when a fireball is observed:


    For the case presented in the posting, I am afraid that MUFON didn't try too hard to find a conventional explanation
    for the sighting.

    Best regards,


    By Blogger Rare phenomena lover, at Thursday, August 27, 2015  

  • Good evening,

    An update for my posting.

    For the Florida, March 30, 2010 9h32 PM fireball investigated by MUFON, I found that it has en entry in the American Meteor Society Fireball Log:




    By Blogger Rare phenomena lover, at Thursday, August 27, 2015  

  • @RRR
    > I see it as the result of the quantum measurement/observation effect

    Quantum effects on a non-atomic level? Has this ever been observed?

    @Rare phenomena lover

    Nice comments. Facts beat mystery mongering every time.

    By Blogger Terry the Censor, at Wednesday, September 02, 2015  

  • Terry:

    I've posted here and elsewhere a few things on macro-quantum, citing theories from quantum physicists (from books I've reviewed for Wiley and others).

    You can find those postings via Google I think.

    Macro-quantum is not as esoteric as you think.


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Wednesday, September 02, 2015  

  • > Macro-quantum is not as esoteric as you think.

    Googling "macro-quantum" got me a Wikipedia page listing such effects.


    I am not taking a stand on this -- the equations mean nothing to me -- but these phenomena don't seem to have anything to do with winking in and out, contingent on observation, as you postulate.

    I could very well be wrong, but scaling up the quantum observation effect to the macro level seems unwarranted. I feel I should challenge this speculation because I am concerned that less discriminating souls than yourself (that is, UFO dogmatists) would use such a speculation to make ufology a wholly unfalsifiable field of study.

    By Blogger Terry the Censor, at Wednesday, September 02, 2015  

  • Not to worry Terry...

    The quantum effects apply, theoretically to UFOs and other Newtonian artifacts, and, in my estimation, to social and mundane physical events also.

    But that's another story....online at one of my blogs too.


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Wednesday, September 02, 2015  

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