In 1997, a scientific panel was called together to scrutinize the physical evidence in relationship with UFO sightings. Professor Peter A. Sturrock of Stanford University was tasked as the lead investigator, with funding and support provided by Laurance Rockefeller, a notable advocate of UFO disclosure.
The Sturrock Panel was tasked with reviewing physical evidence in order to determine whether further investigation of the reported phenomena were likely to help determine the causes of these reports. The scientific review panel consisted of nine scientific professionals with a variety of backgrounds. This group included Peter Sturrock as the Director of the panel, and was comprised of Professors in disciplines ranging from electrical engineering to planetary sciences to bioelectromagnetics.
Seven UFO researchers were also appointed to present the physical evidence to the Sturrock Panel. The group included experienced investigators with a variety of specialties, including photographic analysis, radar analysis, automobile engine anomalies, video and spectroscopic analysis, energy estimates, and analysis of ground impacts. Among the researchers present was the famous Dr. Jacques Vallee, ufologist and early pioneer of the internet and other high-technology concepts.
The Sturrock Panel report presents the following observations made by the Sturrock Panel:
- “The UFO problem is not a simple one, and it is unlikely that there is any simple universal answer.
- Whenever there are unexplained observations, there is the possibility that scientists will learn something new by studying those observations.
- Studies should concentrate on cases which include as much independent physical evidence as possible and strong witness testimony.
- Some form of regular contact between the UFO community and physical scientists could be productive.
- It is desirable that there be institutional support for research in this area, and the GEPAN/SEPRA project of CNES in France has since 1977 provided a valuable model for a modest but effective organization for collecting and analyzing UFO observations and related data.
- Reflecting on evidence presented at the workshop that some witnesses of UFO events have suffered radiation-type injuries, the panel draws the attention of the medical community to a possible health risk associated with UFO events.”
The report highlights an array of the best evidence that could be collected to support an evaluation of the UFO phenomenon. This includes photographic evidence, radar evidence, estimates of luminosity, vehicle and aircraft interference, apparent gravitational effects, ground traces and injuries to vegetation, physiological impacts on witnesses, and analysis of debris associated with UFOs. There is also specific mention of the Hessdalen Phenomenon, which will be covered in a future post.
Read the full text of the Sturrock Panel report here.
While the review panel was not convinced there was enough evidence to suggest extraterrestrial causes, and they believed that no significant advances had been made by the scientific review of UFO phenomena for the past 21 years, they supported the idea that “there always exists the possibility that investigation of an unknown phenomenon may lead to an advance in scientific knowledge.”
The panel’s conclusions were in contrast to another scientific panel, headed by Edward U. Condon, that was conducted 30 years earlier at the University of Colorado. The Condon Committee had concluded that “further extensive study of UFOs probably cannot be justified in the expectation that science will be advanced thereby.”
Read Sturrock’s book here: A Tale of Two Sciences: Memoirs of a Dissident Scientist
Do you think the scientific study of UFO phenomena might help lead to any breakthroughs? Even if there is a chance for a small breakthrough, would it be worth the attention of mainstream science?