When Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming lost control of 50 nuclear, inter-continental missiles last October, officials said a communication failure between the control centre and the weapons was to blame.
However, three missile technicians stationed at the base have raised fresh questions in the case, amid reports UFO sightings coincided with the incident.
UFO researcher Robert Hastings says eyewitnesses claim the interruption to the power supply also lasted much longer than the Air Force admits.
A power failure on October 23, 2010 meant that one-ninth of America’s nuclear arsenal went offline for almost an hour.
A U.S. Air Force spokesman said there had been a 'hardware issue' relating to an underground cable linking the command centre with the missiles.
This disrupted ‘communication between the control centre and the missiles, but during that time they were still able to monitor the security of the affected missiles’.
Defence officials insisted there was never any danger of an accidental launch. But the incident was deemed serious enough for Barack Obama to be briefed on it later.
There was no evidence of foul play and the U.S. never lost the capability to launch the missiles, although it could only have done so from an airborne command and control centre, he said.
Another official said there had been similar breakdowns on other bases in the past.
But Robert Hastings says more was involved.
According to Hastings, three missile maintenance technicians have agreed to speak to him on the condition of anonymity, revealing the military has kept UFO sightings that occurred during the power outage under wraps.
The witnesses, he said, reported sightings of 'a large cigar-shaped object high above the missile field'.
Hastings told AOL: 'They said the object was seen in the sky above the field, throughout the weekend, both during the (missile) disruption and the following day.'
His witnesses claim the power outage lasted several hours longer than officials reported.
'I have detailed information about the events. The Air Force said this (missile) disruption lasted 59 minutes. It actually lasted the better part of 26 hours,' he said.
'It was intermittent and involved a very specific sequence of these five missile alert facilities going on and offline. I have all of that down to the most minute detail.'
The eyewitnesses agreed that what they saw 'was not a commercial blimp.'
'It had no passenger gondola and no advertising on its hull,' Hastings said.
'Further, its aspect ratio (length to width) was very similar to a WWI Zeppelin: long and thin, and not at all like the squat shape of a corporate blimp.'
The witnesses did not, however, claim the alleged UFO was connected with the outage.
It is not the first time Hastings has reported UFO sightings at nuclear missile sites.
He organised a press conference last September, when six former Air Force officers stepped forward to reveal they had seen or had been involved with sightings at missile sites.
They claim that since 1948, aliens have been hovering over UK and U.S. nuclear missile sites and deactivating the weapons - once even landing in a British base.
The men said they were encouraged not to speak to the media about their sightings.
Captain Robert Salas, who was among the six, confirmed: ‘We’re talking about unidentified flying objects, as simple as that.'
However, Lieutenant Colonel John Thomas, director of public affairs for Air Force Global Strike Command headquarters at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana, denies there is a policy to silence eyewitnesses to unexplained phenomena at Air Force bases.
'I have no reason to dispute anybody's claims of anything they may seen historically, because those occurrences and reports took place decades into the past and probably will decades into the future,' he told AOL.
'This incident is separate from all of that. We took it very seriously and we're very confident that we understand fully what happened.'
'If people see things that are unusual, they are encouraged to report them,' he said, adding: 'When people join the military, they don't give up their First Amendment rights.' - dailymail
Man sentenced to 10 years for trying to kill wife with electric chair
When Andrew Castle's wife of 18 years asked him for a divorce, his response was to rig up a homemade electric chair in his garage and try to kill her.
After inviting Margaret Castle into the garage "for a chat", he sat her in the metal chair, intending to knock her unconscious with a rubber cosh before connecting the impromptu device to the mains.
However, his 61-year-old wife got up from the chair before he could carry out his plan and there was a struggle, during which she hit him several times with the cosh. She escaped through a side door, but the fight continued outside their bungalow in Knott End-on-Sea, Lancashire, before a passerby intervened and called the police.
Mrs Castle was treated for minor head injuries at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary. Her husband, also 61, was found in the back garden with self-inflicted knife wounds to his wrists after grabbing a blade from the kitchen.
He was sentenced to 10 years in prison by Preston crown court , having admitted attempted murder, at a hearing in May.
Officers who examined the garage found an electric cable running from a 13-amp plug with exposed wires. When switched on, the live and neutral wires which would have completed a circuit if touched together or put in contact with the chair.
Neighbours said the couple, who went on walking and cruising holidays together, appeared to be happy and content until March this year when she told him she wanted to end the marriage. One said: "We couldn't believe it when we heard what happened. We believe Andrew had, in effect, built his own electric chair to kill Margaret because she wanted a divorce. He managed to lure her into the garage on the pretext of them talking about it. He was about to do the deed but there was a struggle and she escaped."
Castle said he was "simply unable to cope" with the divorce and found it "overwhelming". A psychiatric report concluded that he had obsessive compulsive disorder and an adjustment disorder.
Detective Inspector Martin Clague, from Lancashire police, said: "It was a distressing case. He intended to kill his wife and had set plans in place to do this. It is rare for someone to attempt to kill their wife, or anyone, by these means.
"The fact Castle entered a guilty plea at least saves the family from having to go through the ordeal of listening to the evidence, which could have been very distressing for them." - guardian
Why Scientists Should Study Sea Monsters
From the Loch Ness Monster to the Kraken, sea monsters still capture the imagination centuries after medieval cartographers doodled them in the blank spots of their maps. But to Charles Paxton, a researcher at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, sea monster sightings are more than fish tales.
Paxton is no wild-eyed cryptozoologist who spends his weekends imagining Bigfoot behind every tree. He's a fisheries ecologist and statistician who believes that, with the right methods, anecdotes about mysterious monsters can become scientific data to tell us about human perception and the odd reports that science can't fully explain.
On July 12, Paxton and other bonafide, peer-reviewed researchers like him will discuss ways to bring cryptozoology into the scientific fold at the Zoological Society of London Communicating Science event "Cryptozoology: Science or Pseudoscience?"
Ahead of the event, Paxton spoke with LiveScience about sea monster sightings, the likelihood of unknown beasts roaming the sea, and why, before you report a sea serpent, you should always make sure you're not looking at a sexually aroused whale.
LiveScience: What drives you to study sea monster sightings?
Paxton: Several reasons. Actually, probably the first is I'm a big kid and I thought it was an interesting set of questions. A more proper scientific reason is that I'm interested in why people believe the things they believe, especially if their beliefs are non-mainstream. And the third reason I got interested is it's important to understand how science tries to relate to anomalous data, data that doesn’t quite fit into our existing paradigms.
LiveScience: You've lumped old sea monster sightings together to study them statistically. What did you find?
Paxton: I was interested in looking at reported distances in sea monster accounts, in seeing whether those reported distances, were they the same as we would expect if the reports were genuinely of random animals popping up around boats. But if you look at the distribution of reported distances of sea monster accounts, they're much closer than you would expect by chance alone.
This implies to me that there's a huge bias in the reporting of sea monster accounts.
LiveScience: What does that bias tell us about the validity of those reports?
Paxton: It means we can probably be more doubtful about one potential explanation for sea monster reports. I expected that when I did the analysis, the reports would be far away. I thought people were reporting monsters because they'd seen familiar things at a distances. But the reported distances are much closer than you'd expect. It's not because these things are a vast distance away, or at least, if witnesses are misinterpreting things, it happens over short distances.
LiveScience: Are any of these historical reports actually plausible?
There's a report by two zoologists actually in the early part of the century published in the Journal of Zoology where they actually reported seeing a serpent-like animal in the South Atlantic. They describe an animal which doesn't quite fit into our current view. That's an intriguing one. [Read: The Creatures of Cryptozoology]
LiveScience: Okay, let's talk about an implausible report. Tell me about the case of the possible whale penis.
Paxton: That's a quite famous sea monster sighting from the 18th century, where people saw a sea monster en route to the Danish colony in Greenland. What they saw was an animal which they described as having a serpent-like tail. We suggested that there could be an alternative explanation and what they were interpreting as a tail could actually have been the penis of the animal.
If you do a search for "whale penis" on the Net, they've got pictures and they do look quite serpentine.
LiveScience: Does it seem like misidentified body parts might explain many sea monster sightings?
Paxton: I think that goes on, yes, but as yet I've got no quantitative evidence of that happening. I'm actually collecting data on that.
I think people make mistakes and it does mean that I'm a little more skeptical of laypeople who report strange things. When you see something in the water, there are lots and lots of large animals it could potentially be, and there's no one in the world who is an expert on all of these animals. Zoologists, when they see an animal, perhaps they'll be looking at the features which will tell them about its affinities, whereas laypeople won't necessarily do that.
LiveScience: Do you think there are likely large, undiscovered marine creatures out there?
Paxton: Yes, but to make something absolutely clear, my position on this is quite an unusual one. I would actually say without any doubt at all that there are unknown animals out there. The reason I say without any doubt at all, if you look at the rate at which we're discovering new species, that hasn't completely flattened out.
The question isn't, "Are there large marine animals?" The question is, "Are they seen by laypeople prior to their discovery?" The answer to that is "Probably not."
LiveScience: Why not?
Paxton: Logically, the animals we've not discovered yet are the ones that are difficult to detect, which means it would be very rare for people to encounter them anyway. We know there are biases in the reporting process, and we know that to have the potential to recognize an unknown animal, you need to have superb expertise. In terms of marine mammals, for example, I can only think of about 10 people in the world who if they saw a marine mammal would be in a position to say, "That's a marine mammal that we've never described."
We can't explain away all the strange reports, but just because I can't explain a report doesn't mean it's an unknown animal. It's got to be a hypothesis of last resort. I think that's a mistake lots of people make, that just because they can't explain it, it must be something unknown. That's quite a jump.
LiveScience: Do you have a favorite sea monster?
Paxton: I quite like the sea monk [a creature with a monk's head and fish body], actually. The idea that there's a monk living in the sea, that's quite bizarre.
I quite like the Kraken as well. It's not what people say it is, actually. People often say that the Kraken is a mythologized giant squid. If you look at the early accounts of the Kraken, they're not like a giant squid at all. It's very similar to a monster which is a fish or whale so large that it sits for so long that trees grow on it. Sailors see it, they come onshore and make a fire, and it jumps to the bottom of the sea and drags the ship down. I think the Kraken is connected to that, because it describes it being like an island.
LiveScience: Is there anything else you want to add?
Paxton: You didn't ask me the one question everyone asks.
LiveScience: What's that?
Paxton: Whether I believe in the Loch Ness Monster. For the record, I don't. I've only been to Loch Ness once, actually. I didn't see anything. - livescience
The Marble Caves: Patagonia's Sculpted Azure Caverns
In the middle of Patagonia lies an enchanted underworld of azure caverns. Incredible streaks of blue make it look as though a master artist in a land of giants has made his mark on these special caves.
Known as General Carrera, the gorgeous lake where the caves are to be found has borders that are shared by both Argentina and Chile. It has a sunny microclimate in an area that is normally cold, so people can enjoy the water and explore the caverns in comfort.
The caverns are one of nature's miracles, sheer cliffs of marble whose sediments give them this enchanting color. The water itself has slowly thrown gravel against the cliffs to gently form spaces small and large. The caverns can be explored by boat at certain times of the year when the water level is low enough.
Known as Las Cavernas de Marmol – The Marble Caverns – there are three more specific names for the caves: the Cave, the Cathedral and the Chapel.
The Marble Caves are comprised of a jutting rock with a vein of pure marble beneath it that runs from one side of Lake Carrera to Puerto Tranquilo on the lake's north side. The Chapel and Cathedral have been designated as a nature sanctuary. These two can actually be visited all summer long as the water levels are fairly stable there.
The banks of stone above the caverns are white-gray, but you can see streaks of blue from the impurities there as well, culminating in their wild and wondrous colors at the bottom.
One of the worries for the area is Chile's plan to build five hydropower dams in Patagonia. Of course, this is going to disrupt the habitats of many unique and endangered species in the area as well as potentially disturb the beautiful lakes, including Lake Carrera (on the Argentinian side it is called Lago Buenos Aires).
These exquisite caverns may not be well-known but they are as beautiful as some of the world's top geographical wonders and should be included in any such list. Hopefully the lake will not be badly affected by the dams, and these caverns will still be accessible to people who can continue to marvel at them. - environmentalgraffiti