Monday, October 24, 2011

THE SKY IS FALLING: Return of the Blob.

My friend-in-anomalies Frank Reid sent me this notice today. "The Real Life Blob: Is mysterious translucent jelly found in Cumbrian Fells from outer space?". Hah!! We've been THERE before on the blog!.

Here's one of the pictures of Scottish blobs lying at their leisure. Everyone is puzzled. The theories have been spread around from "meteors" [pretty weird meteors to get through the atmosphere without damage to their nearly insubstantial content --- they seem to be almost entirely water --- I guess that they'd have to slowly float down without anyone ever seeing such a thing], to the remains of eaten frogs [despite no parts of frogs found] to something associated with deer rutting season [despite being a completely information-less comment] to something associated with algae [despite a scientist saying that he could find essentially no algae other than minor contaminant in a similar batch which was discovered in 2009]. The article claimed that sporadic incidents of this stuff could be traced back as far as the 14th century. Like our famous "angelhair", it is said to simply disappear completely in time.

This is the second picture of the blobs. They seem to be the only relaxed entities in the story. We looked at various forms of blobness way back in, I think, February of 2010. If the technology will allow me, I'm going to try to insert a few blob cases which were posted then.

A). 1955: Baltimore, MD--"a fuming spherical mass drifted over Baltimore and landed in the city". Thus began a note to Wright-Patterson AFB and Project Blue Book. Many people congregated about it including the police. People tried to puncture it, but it healed up. One guy tried to squash it with a tire, but couldn't damage it. Police cordoned off the area, and after several hours, the thing degenerated and left behind a yellowish residue. Analyzed at the morgue, the residue contained Metallic oxides and animal tissue. Blue Book was told that the answer was "a detergent bubble filled with exhaust gasses from a diesel locomotive in a railway yard." !! [this is one of the goofiest "explanations" in my files of an "answer" not meeting the reported characteristics of the event]. But, there you are.---

B). 1950: Philadelphia, PA--Four policemen saw an "airborne object" which sailed above the city before landing in an urban field. The thing was six feet in diameter and glowed purplish and misty. One of the policemen tried to pick it up, but some of it adhered to his hands, dissipated, and left a sticky residue. The officers watched for 30 minutes while the blob slowly disappeared. Lest one believe that the story was just made up, the policemen reported the event to the FBI and the relevant document still exists. At least no one tried to explain this one as containing train engine exhausts.----------------------------------------------------------

C). 1979: Frisco, TX--A lady woke up one morning and walked outside. There on her lawn were three purple blobs. They were small, about breadloaf sized. As she watched, one of them "just faded away". The other two persisted. They "looked like smooth whipped cream, purple... I stuck this stick into the object. It went in easily, very easily. I punctured it. On the inside it was the same thing--just like real whipped cream, and it looked like it was melting". When the police arrived, an officer tried to pick one up. He said that it was "pretty warm". He put the blobs into boxes and they were sent to a the local Natural Science Museum. The curator said that the blobs were emitting an acidic liquid and contained uranium [!!] and a strange pattern of specks of lead. These weirdos were then sent on to NASA in Dallas and placed in freezers to preserve them. The NASA spokesperson said: "It's kind of like plum-pudding. It has round solid chunks in it that remain after the goo goes away. We don't know what it is." Uhhhhhh...what?! ---------------------------------------------------------------------------

D). 1966: near Ellicotteville, NY--The NICAP subcommittee field investigators said at the beginning of their report: "[This] is a report, which for the first time we have encountered, dealing with something seemingly more fantastic and even more out of science fiction". Uh Oh. [the case refers to my drawing that accompanies this section]. Two buddies were riding motorcycles along route 219 in NY. One several yards ahead of the other. The lead cyclist saw an object coming on an intersecting course from the right about 10 feet off the ground. He judged that it would pass between the two of them. The thing was a watermelon-sized oval glob, dull green in color. Turning he watched the thing pass just in front of his friend, swerve into him, and attach itself to him !! Wrapping itself around his lower leg, the friend tried to kick the thing off, losing his shoe in the process. The glob became more interested in the shoe, and left to go after it. It seemed to briefly inspect the shoe from above it, rise in the air, and fly away over the hillside. The close-up description was: smooth surfaced and jelly-like in "feel". Translucent dull green. Oval in shape while in the air, but flexible in contact. May have made a soft whirring [dare I suggest "purring" ?] sound. Produced a large red mark on the person's leg with a white oval center, 4 to 6 inches in size. Around this were 5 or 6 [how can they not have a single count?] puncture marks. {maybe I should give them a break on that if the marks were really small and hard to see}. The victim of the "Attack Glob From Magonia" never became ill, and the red/white area went away in a day, leaving only the pin-pricks. Yep. Just another day in the life.--------------------------------------------------------

Both the first and second case were referred to in the new article. In fact, and I had no idea about this, the Philadelphia case was stated to be the inspiration for the Science Fiction film "The Blob". Well, our blobbish friends from Magonia got more famous than I knew.

Maybe someday soon we'll figure out the Scottish Highlands Blobs. But, re-reading the other cases, algae swells and deer ruttings floating down in Innercity Philadelphia don't seem to cut it. Could Science have failed to provide answers to everything?? Lord save us! Whoops. Not allowed to mention the Lord in Science.


  1. I can assure you that the blobs are indeed some type of fungus. I know this because for about 3 years I kept a garden that included giant zinnias and tall african marigolds. The zinnias get to about 4 to 4 1/2 feet tall. The marigolds get to about 5ft tall. I began to notice, starting that first fall, that it looked like somebody had spit "loogies" on my plants as there was what appeared to be mucus or a wad of slime that would accumulate on the stems. They were about the size of a silver dollar and looked like mucous. They had no smell or it could be that the smell of the marigolds overpowered any natural smell it may have had. At the time I saw it I was reminded of a similar slime I found growing on conifer trees. The difference was that the one that grew on the conifer tree were yellowish-orange and when it dried it turned into spaghetti-like strands. As far as the slime that was growing on my marigolds and zinnias, it only lasted while the weather was wet. It spread to plants during light rain and misty weather that lasted for a week or more. As soon as the weather cleared the mess seemed to stop spreading and eventually just dried up and disappeared.

    So I'm convinced it's a fungus or mold, possibly a slime mold.

  2. Hmmm...well, I'm sure that your own experience is veridical. A few comments in search of the larger truth:
    1). I assume that you are applying these observations to these recent Scottish cases and not the others described;
    2). Do you see any differences in the Scottish cases and your own experiences?? Example: do silver dollar sized blobs vs blobs as big as a man's foot make any difference?? It may not; it is just a thought which arises;
    3). Does your characterization of your blobs as "mucous" conform well to the descriptions in the Scottish cases and does their "vanishing" without noticeable residue in any way clash with your own experience of seeing "dried" remains??
    4). Should we be at all concerned that the professional biologist brought in missed the slime mold explanation??

    What I am doing here is ingrained in my scientific training: take reasonable hypotheses as hypothetical, and spend time considering the "goodness" of their fit with the entire phenomenon. Your idea MAY in fact work. My procedure would be to test it a bit further before becoming "convinced" and "assuring" others. I think that such enthusiastic support for one's own good ideas is natural, but sometimes we are a bit "quick" to conclude.

  3. If you look at a map of Philadelphia, it's interesting to note that the site of the 1950 incident was a stone's throw from a major oil refinery complex which was there then and still is now. Anybody who lived in Philly can attest to the stenches and aromas that often came from that direction. It seems extremely likely that the floating material was some sort of effluent or byproduct of a process in the refinery. If it as a gassy foamlike gel, with something like methane in the bubbles, it would account for both the floating, the dissipation, and the "lifelike" motion of the mass as the bubbles popped and dissolved. I bet somebody from the petroleum industry could hazard a guess at what the material might have been. (Seems likely that at the time, the refinery people might not have been too keen to comment, if it was the result of some kind of process problem at the plant). But it is pretty interesting that it was the basis for our local Phoenxville phenomenon, "The Blob"...

  4. I'm with you on the "logic". What always remains in cases like this though is the lack of actually nailing such a speculation down. What did the police and FBI actually DO? They weren't stupid either. They knew about the plant. They probably didn't want plant effluent coming down in Philadelphia parks and polluting the surroundings.

    Did anyone ever notice any such thing before? Could it really have been the only time the plant burped?? Could the materials used in the plant even create such a thing?? If this was just an effluent from a refinery, then we have refineries all over the place. Was this the only time anyone has ever noticed a refinery producing such material??

    It seems to me, as an old chemist, that if this was "just chemistry", then this phenomenon should be well known. These are the sort of thoughts that go through my mind when I read even very logical ideas such as yours. My mind says, like the football announcer, "not so fast, my friend".

  5. prof whats your opinion on the hypothesis that these blobs are

    a) man made chemical that was releaased into the air and coagulated and fell as blobs

    b) pollen/ fungi spores and other natural biological material coagulated into blobs

    c) combination of a and b

    1. These cases are almost obviously different substances. It is a classic anomalist error to shove everything one sees resemblance in into one explanation.

  6. i apologize prof if im sounding like trying to force an explanation to all this without much knowledge of related case. its certainly not my intention , i just trying to fit in the illogical and strangeness into (what i think) acceptable to my mind..

    sometime the strangeness really hard to accept, and trying to come up with explanation feels like im pushing a square peg in a round hole in my mind..