By James Maynard Gelinas
(See Dr. Davis’ statement 37m30s into video)
Astrophysicist Dr. Eric W. Davis has a curious interest in UFO research. He spoke to the UFO matter while giving an address in 2010 at a Society for Scientific Exploration meeting about a book he had recently co-edited with Dr. Marc Millis, former head of NASA’s Breakthrough Propulsion Physics Project.
Furthermore, while working in an official capacity for NASA in 1999, Dr. Millis attended a venture capital event hosted by known UFO enthusiast and potential investor Joe Firmage, who had openly stated his belief in having met an extraterrestrial alien visitor. This event led to an official investigation at NASA over potential loss of intellectual property. That investigation was ultimately dropped.
During the question and answer session, Dr. Davis was asked whether UFOs had “…guided [the] thinking and research” of such speculative matters as warp drive and traversable wormholes.
Dr. Davis responded, “Secretly yes and overtly no.” He explained that because “…UFOs don’t have credibility with mainstream academic researchers,” and because policy-makers and funding agencies “…don’t like the topic of UFOs,” some members of the group were forced to “…consider it under the table.”
Continuing on with his comments, Davis contrasted what he considered relevant observed UFO phenomena with their work. In comparing data taken from UFO investigators such as Jacques Vallee, George Hathaway, and the questioner, he said “we’ve been able to use that data as input to give us an idea, and that data does drive the concepts that we did derive later on [when we did] the book and [that] went into the original NASA program.”
Dr. Davis gave two examples taken from work done at the National Institute of Discovery Science, a place more colloquially known as Skinwalker Ranch, where he said investigators and the ranch owner had apparently twice witnessed wormholes open for transport. “…we had the experience of one scientist and one investigator seeing a wormhole – what looked like a wormhole – with a creature crawling through, and then the ranch owners had seen an opening in the sky in broad daylight with a triangular craft that came through it.” According to Dr. Davis, this was of relevance to some investigators at NASA’s Breakthrough Propulsion Physics Project, for it was “…an example of data that indicates there’s a wormhole involved.”
The details of Dr. Davis’ statement about UFOs, including a full transcript, were previously printed in the story, “Dr. Eric W. Davis, of NASA’s Breakthrough Propulsion Physics Project, Discussed UFOs During Lecture.”
Dr. Jack Sarfatti, a theoretical physicist who personally knows Dr. Davis, commented on whether the propulsion specialist has a longstanding interest in UFO research. “I know Eric Davis … I am completely aware of his position on this and what his real secret work is/was about.” Dr. Sarfatti then took the opportunity to challenge Dr. Davis on an arcane matter of warp drive physics.
In referring to the possibility of UFOs using some manner of warp drive, Dr. Davis had said, “We haven’t seen UFOs do performances that adhere to the warp drive. … We seem them doing ninety degree turns and rapid motions; they disappear and reappear. That is undetermined yet.”
Dr. Sarfatti disagreed. “Eric is wrong about no evidence for warp drive in near earth flight, “ Dr. Sarfatti argued. “180 degree turns at high speed is evidence [of warp drive], as is sudden stopping and apparent dematerialization.“
Speaking to Dr. Davis’ claim of two wormholes that had apparently been witnessed at Skinwalker Ranch, Dr Sarfatti challenged Dr. Davis’s line of reasoning. “[Dr. Davis] contradicts himself when he talks about the possible wormhole on the [Skinwalker] Ranch. Wormhole and warp drive physics are both essentially the same and the evidence is that there is a low power technology for them.”
Skinwalker Ranch is a property located in Uintah County, Utah that is near an area believed by locals and nearby Native Americans to be a center of anomalous events. There, according to its website, a group with former military and intelligence community connections as well as high academic credentials, along with well known Las Vegas television investigative reporter George Knapp, have worked together investigating alleged anomalous events. According to those SSE statements, Dr. Davis worked for Mr. Bigelow there for six years.
The owner of that property is reclusive billionaire Robert Bigelow, who is a real estate developer and founder of the Budget Suite hotel franchise. He has a longstanding public interest in UFOs and bought the property in 1995 specifically to investigate those claims. Professional skeptic James Randi once gave Mr. Bigelow the Pigasus Award for having funded what he termed a ‘useless study’ of an ‘old haunted ranch.’
But Mr. Bigelow is interested in more than just running a hotel chain and supporting investigative work into UFOs. In 1999 he founded Bigelow Aerospace, which seeks to launch an inflatable space station and possible hotel in orbit and maybe build a base on the moon. Interestingly, Bigelow Aerospace is only one of two organizations that, according to FAA guidelines, pilots are directed to forward UFO reports. A skeptical article on Mr. Bigelow’s UFO aerospace company stated:
…there is one space-related issue troubling Mr. Bigelow, one on which he feels the need to obtain, even at potentially great cost, the best counsel available: UFOs. It is not clear whether he fears that UFOs will interfere with his future orbiting hotel chain or if he believes that UFOs harbor some secrets of propulsion or anti-gravity that his engineers might someday be able to put to good use. Whichever it is, Bigelow has contracted MUFON, the largest UFO group in the U.S., with potentially very large sums of money for the pursuit of first-hand UFO information. Indeed, longtime UFO activist Ed Komarek is suggesting that Bigelow’s goal is nothing less than an “alien reengineering project.”
Dr. Davis currently works at the firm Earth Tech for physicist and owner, Dr. Harold Puthoff; a man who is also listed on the Skinwalker Ranch bio page for having contributed to that project as well. Dr. Puthoff apparently became connected with the ranch project in 1996, when he posted a mission statement in support of Mr. Bigelow’s NIDS initiative.
According to the Skinwalker Ranch website, Dr. Puthoff “…served with the NSA during his tour with the navy … and would later stay on as a civilian.” Information that is not available on the man’s Wikipedia bio page. His main project of public notoriety was government-sponsored research into PSI phenomena back in the 1970s and 1980s. It was conducted at then Stanford University associated Stanford Research Institute, where he ran the Remote Viewing program from 1972 through to 1985.
Dr. Puthoff’s controversial SRI project was funded to see if psychic phenomena could be used for clandestine purposes. That work led to a classified government project called STAR GATE, a CIA and then DIA (Defense Intelligence Agency) funded program intended to obtain intelligence information. It was then a Cold War response to Soviet interest in psychic phenomena and was formally terminated in 1995.
Professional skeptics, in responding to a statistical analysis of PSI research findings, have challenged the research in general:
Because even if [they] are correct and we were to find that we could reproduce the findings under specified conditions, this would still be a far cry from concluding that psychic functioning has been demonstrated. This is because the current claim is based entirely upon a negative outcome…
Dr. Puthoff responded to the standard scientific view of skepticism for such phenomena in the book Mind Reach, co-written with SRI colleague Dr. Russel Targ. Noting that they had once attempted to submit a paper and received a response by one journal editor, “This is the kind of thing that I would not believe in even if it existed.” (P. 169, Hampton Roads Publishing ed.)
In 1985, after Puthoff ended his relationship with the PSI program, he shifted direction to a new line of work. From the early 1990s, he began publishing papers on polarizable vacuum and Stochastic Electrodynamics, authoring or coauthoring such works as “Inertia as a Zero-Point Field Lorentz Force,” as well as, “Polarizable-Vacuum Approach to General Relativity,” and, “Polarizable Vacuum ‘Metric Engineering’ Approach to GR Effects.” This material is considered by many physicists in the advanced propulsion community to be highly relevant to their ideas.
Skeptics have a negative opinion on that work as well, contemptuously referring to Dr. Puthoff’s ideas as ‘fringe physics.’ A Skeptical Inquirer article by Martin Gardner spoke to Dr. Puthoff’s polarizable vacuum and zero-point ideas in this impolite manner:
The nation’s number two drumbeater for [Zero-Point-Energy] is none other than Harold Puthoff, who runs a think tank in Austin, Texas, where efforts to tap ZPE have been underway for years. In December 1997, to its shame, Scientific American ran an article praising Puthoff for his efforts.
But it’s not just Dr. Davis who has a connection with UFO researchers. Dr. Marc Millis met with UFO proponents and venture capitalists in 1999, while he was still on payroll at NASA. This led to an internal NASA investigation into the matter.
According to a 1999 report published in the San Francisco Chronicle, the NASA Office of the Inspector General had been conducting an investigation into a planned meeting between NASA Ames Research Center staff and Silicon Valley venture capitalists. They had planned to meet at an International Space Sciences Organization (ISSO) event to discuss potential advanced propulsion technologies. The founder of that organization, Joe Firmage, was at the time and remains today, convinced that extraterrestrial spacecraft exist and further that he had met an alien.
In that article, it was reported that NASA’s concern was that proprietary information owned by the government agency might be leaked to private sources. Dr Sarfatti argued that the investigation had been dropped with no findings of wrongdoing. “[It] was nonsense, “ Sarfatti said. “[B]ureaucratic incompetence at NASA and it came to nothing. Too many Keystone Kop NASA security people with too little to do I suppose.”
Dr. Sarfatti said that the meeting had taken place “…at the Free Mason Hall in San Francisco on Van Ness Ave.” He didn’t recall if Dr. Davis had been in attendance, but a long list of other UFOlogy luminaries and then head of NASA’s BPP was. “Marc Millis, John Alexander, John Peterson were there,” he said, among several others.
In an email, Dr. Marc Millis confirmed that he had attended that event at the “invitation of sponsors.” Dr. Millis also agreed with Sarfatti that the investigation had been dropped with no findings of wrongdoing and that the event was entirely above board.
When I asked Dr. Millis why, while still holding an official role at NASA, he had attended a meeting with luminaries of UFOlogy and a venture capitalist who all openly believe in UFO and alien visitations, he declined to comment.
Regarding the other attendees Dr. Sarfatti listed, Col. John Alexander who wrote, UFOs: Myths, Conspiracies, and Realities, and is often remembered as the man who George Clooney portrayed in the film The Men Who Stare At Goats. John Peterson is a Futurist and founder of the Arlington Institute, and is known for having contacted the Director of Central Intelligence James Woosley in 1993 in order to obtain information on UFOs.
Dr. Sarfatti is a former assistant professor of physics at San Diego State University. He’s held research fellowship positions at Birkbeck College in London, where he worked with renowned physicist David Bohm; the Cornell Space Science Center; Atomic Energy Research Establishment in Great Britain; and the Max Planck Institute in Germany. He is noted for being part of a semi-underground counter-culture physics society called the, “Fundamental Fysiks Group”. MIT physicist and historian David Kaiser detailed that story in his recent book, How the Hippies Saved Physics.
Dr. Davis obtained a PhD in Astrophysics in 1991 from the University of Arizona. He co-founded the NASA-JSC’s (Johnson Space Center) Advanced Deep Space Transport Technology Assessment Group. He is also the author of numerous speculative peer-reviewed papers on wormholes, warp drive, quantum teleportation, and other advanced propulsion studies. And, as referred to earlier, he co-edited a book on the research findings from NASA’s Breakthrough Propulsion Physics Project before funding for ongoing work was cancelled in 2002. Dr. Davis is listed on the web page of Millis’ successor organization, the Tau Zero Foundation, as among those of the Tau Zero Network. In addition, Dr. Millis confirmed that Davis had “volunteered some consulting” for the NASA effort, and that both had edited the book, Frontiers of Propulsion Science, together. He is currently scheduled to speak on advanced propulsion at the 2013 Mutual UFO Network Symposium.
Regarding general research into warp drive and gravity manipulation, a recent io9 article quoted NASA physicist Harold White as saying that a bench lab test is in progress. In addition, Bigelow Aerospace and NASA have announced a partnership where the firm:
…will work with a variety of commercial space companies to assess and develop options for innovative and dynamic private and public investments to create infrastructure to support domestic and international government exploration activities alongside revenue generating private sector enterprises.
It should be noted that Dr. Davis’ words and Mr. Bigelow’s interest in UFOs are entirely at odds with the longstanding official NASA position that “…there is no evidence for visits of intelligent aliens to Earth, either now or in the past.”
Neither Drs. Davis nor Puthoff responded to requests for comment.
By James Maynard Gelinas