I get a little irritated when folks who I think must be a tinny short of a six pack look at a confusing situation and leap for the first explanation that they can think of, even if there is absolutely no supporting evidence or frankly any likelihood. Today brought up just such a case. There are reports about suspect UFO activity around a wind turbine site that has had a badly damaged turbine that lost a couple of blades. Here‘s a report from the BBC, and here’s a report from treehugger.
County councillor for the area Robert Palmer said he had seen a “round, white light that seemed to be hovering”.
Did he indeed. My nonsense antenna is severely tuned in, even if that is in fact what he did see.
Russ Kellett, from the Flying Saucer Bureau, said witnesses had told him of activity in the area. “One saw what they at first thought was a low-flying aircraft on the Saturday evening and another heard a loud banging in the early hours of Sunday,” he said. “This is the second most reports of activity we have ever had – I have had over 30 phone calls and emails. To be fair to him, he does not do more than report the view of others … but then he says ‘”To hit two of the blades, any object must have been about 170ft long.” It is far from obvious to me that this is true. The blade that came off could have damaged the one that remained on, one object that was relatively static in space could hit two blades as they passed, or the blades could have been hit near the root. All feel more obvious that some mystery 170 foot+ long object.
Dale Vince of Ecotricity who own the site apparently said “Until we have some idea, some plausible explanation that it was not a UFO, I don’t think we should rule it out”.I listened to the video clip in which he was speaking, and he sounded a sensible bloke, so I wonder if he did say exactly these words, and/or whether there was some missing context. He’s reported in the Telegraph as saying “Give us a few days and if there is a rational explanation we will find it.” that sounds much more sensible.
I don’t deny it’s confusing, and given that there were multiple reports some hours before the wind turbine was damaged, the repored lights are unlikely to be a figment of imagination. But, to assume that they must be a UFO seems a rather huge leap. I also note that it was a very cold day, and the first winter that the wind turbine farm had been exposed to. So, other options could be faults in composite blades that were creating light as they were stressed and destressed in cold weather. The damage to the second blade could have been caused by the first blade hitting it. It could have been St. Elmo’s fire driven by static build-up on the baldes in a very dry and cold environment. Or blades shedding lumps of ice that hit other blades. or any number of other things. But, to leap for the high woo factor option of ‘it must be a UFO’ just smacks of failure of imagination. Science is more fun than that.
So, I feel absolutely comfortable in saying I’ll pay a thousand quid if someone can demonstrate that it was a UFO. Properly I mean, positive proof to a properly skeptical scientific audience (reminder being a skeptic is a GOOD thing, not a term of abuse) not just that they ran out of other explanations. Safe money of course since it would be the biggest news since, well since the invention of language I suspect.