Forgot your password?
typodupeerror

British Rail's Flying Saucer 155

Posted by samzenpus
from the to-manchester-and-beyond dept.
Dynamoo writes "The Register is carrying a story about a patent for a fusion powered spacecraft filed by British Rail in the 1970s. While the concept may seem silly for a public railway, it seems that the British Rail Research Division employed a large number of aircraft engineers who presumably had some spare time between projects such as the Advanced Passenger Train."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

British Rail's Flying Saucer

Comments Filter:
  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@gmFREEBSDail.com minus bsd> on Monday March 13, 2006 @11:43AM (#14907768) Journal
    Unfortunately, the Fluxcapacitor [espacenet.com] has already been patented (Fig. 1 & 2).
    • Well, you know you can still get a patent on using an existing invention in a new and non-obviously way.

      Sure, the obvious use of the flux capacitor is create a time travel vehicle to go back and fix your parents lives so they aren't such pathetic losers. On the application of its time warping capabilities to, say, making sure your train arrives in the station on time aren't so obvious.

      Likewise, the obvious use of a sustainable fusion power might be ending the world's dependeny on fossil fuels, powering a sp
      • On the application of its time warping capabilities to, say, making sure your train arrives in the station on time aren't so obvious.

        Eh? The second prototype vehicle using the flux capacitor was a locomotive [edp.org]. Surely nothing is more foremost in the mind of the Engineer than being on time!

  • Other patents... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gowen (141411) <gwowen@gmail.com> on Monday March 13, 2006 @11:43AM (#14907769) Homepage Journal
    Pedrick bombarded his former employers with legendarily screwball designs in the 60s and 70s - one of which was a catflap fitted with a colour sensor to allow his cat Ginger through, to the exclusion of his neighbour's black moggie.
    Screwball? That's freaking genius!
  • Prior Art! (Score:5, Funny)

    by TripMaster Monkey (862126) * on Monday March 13, 2006 @11:43AM (#14907773)

    This design [uncleodies...tibles.com] was made in 1965 [wikipedia.org].
  • British Rail (Score:5, Interesting)

    by pubjames (468013) on Monday March 13, 2006 @11:44AM (#14907790)

    Is this the same British Rail that can't even keep a train running on time? What chance have they got with a flying saucer?

    "British Rail would like to announce that the 17.34 UFO to Mars has been delayed due to a slight wind and a few leaves blowing in the air..."
    • Sorry that should have been:

      "British Rail regret to announce... We are sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused you."

      The b*stards.
    • Re:British Rail (Score:2, Interesting)

      by xfletch (623022)
      In case you don't understand that reference to the the Advanced passenger train it was British Rails "leaning train" . The train-spotters' answer to Concorde, but was a catastrophic failure. Leaning over to take corners at speed is cool unless it throws everyones coffee into the isle. The story is in the BBC archive [bbc.co.uk]

      , and you can see pictures here [apt-p.com] You used to be able to see one rotting in the sidings at Crewe railway station. Does anyone know if it it still there?

      • There was one there as of July last year.

        (As an aside, I happened to spot it whilst on board a Pendolino, which I thought was quite appropiate - the Pendolinos are also tilting trains, and make use of tilting technology developed for the British Rail APT.)
      • Re:British Rail (Score:5, Interesting)

        by 91degrees (207121) on Monday March 13, 2006 @12:14PM (#14908086) Journal
        Leaning over to take corners at speed is cool unless it throws everyones coffee into the isle

        It didn't do that. The ride was very smooth (when the tilt mechanism worked). Too smooth actually. People got motion sickness from going round a corner without feeling like they were going round a corner.

        You used to be able to see one rotting in the sidings at Crewe railway station.

        It was still there last August.

        Some of the technology made it to other trains. Sadly, not the tilting mechanism .
        • Hey, that's not any old decrepit siding.
          That's the former site of "Crewe Heritage Centre", opened by her Majesty the Queen. Needless to say, it's now a bloody great Tesco. The rusting APT and the old signal box are all that remains.
        • Not true. The Tilting mechanism is being incorporated into modern trains around the world. An example is the Queensland Rail Tilt Train [wikipedia.org], which is currently the fasted train in Australia, having been comissioned here in 1997.
      • Re:British Rail (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Bazzalisk (869812) on Monday March 13, 2006 @12:15PM (#14908106) Homepage
        Actualy ...

        The tilting system worked fine, and didn't throw people's coffee around - it was practicly every other experimental system on the train that failed. Virgin trains are now running a tilting train service between London and Birmingham ... which makes me seasick, but everybody else seems to be happy with it.

        • Re:British Rail (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward
          which makes me seasick, but everybody else seems to be happy with it.
          The trick is not to look out of the windows, especially on bends. The motion sickness is caused by perceiving bends without physically experiencing them.
          • Indeed, the information of your equilibrum sense in your inner tube does not match the visual impressions you receive from your eyes, just like it happens when you start reading a book in a car on a winding road. You brain will suspect something strange going on, perhaps food poisoning - and will try to get rid of it.
      • Still there as of a few weeks ago. It's the railway museum at Crewe, isn't it?
      • Re:British Rail (Score:3, Interesting)

        by AlecC (512609)
        Leaning over to take corners at speed is cool unless it throws everyones coffee into the isle.

        On the contrary, tilting over stops the passengers coffeee spilling. Like leaning into the corner on a motorcycle or banking a plane - if you get it right, everything feels perfectly normal to those inside.

        The problems come if you fail to tilt when you should - then everybody's coffee does get thrown around, and you have to slow down to non-tilt speed, making you very late. Or more dangerously, if you fail to until
        • I'm somewhat surprised that no one has mentioned Acela Express in the United States. This train features active tilt, which seems to work very well for them as far as reliability goes. However, they are not allowed to use the tilt for a substantial portion of the trackage in NY State for the very reason you illustrated above: conventional trains that do not tilt are a danger there, and the clearances are not such that that tilt trains can successfully mingle with non-tilt trains.
        • The APT could not tilt into the path of another train. Its whole tilt motion envelope fell within the envelope of a non-tilting train; or in other words, within the loading gauge. True, if the tilt failed the train would have to slow to the speed of a non-tilting train, not for any technical reason but for passenger comfort or so as not to alarm the passengers. This would not be a huge problem - the tilt system would be pretty reliable and even if it did fail the train would only need to slow on the shar
    • Re:British Rail (Score:2, Informative)

      by DarthChris (960471)
      British Rail don't exist, and haven't existed for years. The trains were privatised even before New Labour came in, and it's the shitty private companies who can't turn up on time.
      My parents tell me that BR were normally pretty punctual, even if the trains weren't so great to look at.
      • Re:British Rail (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Bazzalisk (869812)
        British Rail were a public joke. The trains were late, crowded, and falling apart.

        So the Major government privatised them ... and the trains managed to get later, more crowded, and even more motheaten - not to mention a series of spectacular rail disasters caused by the private companies cutting costs on pointless things like track maintainence. As a result the current labour government partialy renationalised the company which owned the tracks (but left the trains themselves privitised) and imposed much

        • The result? things are now only slightly worse than they were when British rail was a national joke

          That's a tad unfair. The sandwiches have at least doubled in quality, and the prices only trebled.

          Everything else is true, though.

          (Oh how I wish we were joking. Britain's railways are only acceptable if you never travel on any other country's rail network).

      • I heard the same thing about the rail privatization. I am American. However, I lived in London from 2001 to 2002. People told me that prior to privatization the trains were punctual and there were fewer accidents.
        • Re:British Rail (Score:1, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward
          Not true, you run the luck of the line. E.g. Waterloo to Portsmouth had at least one cancelled train per day in the rush hour back when I was using it, which was years before privatisation.

          British Rail came into being because the previous separate rail entities couldn't get a decent service together, so the govt of the day stepped in. They failed, and then passed the wreckage back to the private sector, who thought they'd be able to turn the survice around. Unfortunately for them, the govt controlled B.R. h
      • British Rail's legendarily lazy staff do still exist, and they are the reason that no matter who owns the various parts of the system, our British train service will always be laughably bad.

        The notoriously socialist 'strike-at-the-drop-of a-hat' RMT rail union are the cause of British train service's problems, it's hardly fair to blame recent centre or right wing governments for the actions of an organisation that thinks promotions should be given to whoever has worked in a job the longest!
    • I believe British Rail was privatised in 1993. So no it is not the same British Rail....
    • Re:British Rail (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Richard_at_work (517087) <richardprice.gmail@com> on Monday March 13, 2006 @12:12PM (#14908068)
      'British Rail' hasnt existed for a decade, they arent to blame for the current problems - the previous Tory and the current Labour governments are the ones to blame.
      • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Monday March 13, 2006 @12:27PM (#14908209) Journal
        A rail network isn't cheap and it doesn't make money. It is part of the infrastructure however that countries need to others can use them to make money.

        Lets just take a small rail network like the london underground. It is hideously expensive to build and maintain. There are only two ways to operate it.

        See it as a commercial company. Nice idea but doesn't work. Why? Because commercial companies A got to earn their costs, their future investments and a bit extra. But how can you do this when you run a company that has to maintain loss making lines?

        What?

        Well it is simple, it is very easy to make money on the mainlines during peak times. Then the trains are packed and you can easily get your money even with reasonable ticket prices. But how many people would use those mainlines at peak times if there werent any feeder lines at non-peak times?

        Simply put, to get on the mainline I need to take a bus from my house that is half empty. No way that bus makes a profit BUT if it wasn't running I would have no use for the mainline.

        Think of it like this, a supermarket that only sells butter and cheese and jam and peanut butter but NOT bread wouldn't be much use now would it?

        A rail network, or public transport in general will always be spending the money it makes on those non-profit lines. The moment you try to cut money by getting rid of unprofitable lines you gut the service meaning fewer people can use it.

        This practice of cutting unprofitable lines and thereby cutting off whole parts of the country from public transport started long ago. The more it happens the less people can rely on public transport, the less they will use it, the more unprofitable lines you will have, and so on.

        Only in those countries where public transport is seen as an vital part of the infrastructure still have a working system. Spending billions on keeping it all running year in and year out however is very difficult and it is very tempting for a goverment to just cut the budget for a term and hope it will all keep to gether and next term there will be money for the back maintenance. Off course that never happens and so the system is neglected for decades until people die.

        Nothing new, the dutch railnetwork is going through similar problems, our politicians asure us that the we won't have the same problems as the brits and the fact that recently we have had a whole series of accidents is just coincendence.

        Who is to blaim? People that believe in tax cuts. A goverment tax cut is like your landlord saying he will charge you 100 less. Just now you got to pay the elec bill of 200 yourselve. I never seen a tax cut that wasn't offset by an increase somewhere else.

    • by 91degrees (207121) on Monday March 13, 2006 @12:24PM (#14908182) Journal
      The BR time dilation effects may be useful for interstellar travel.
    • Do you think they'd encounter the wrong sort of snow in space?
    • IIRC "British Rail Engineering" was rather good at what it did. And was sold off well before the "Rail Network" was privatised.
    • Re:British Rail (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Skuld-Chan (302449)
      Live in the USA for a while - then you'll be happy that your trains run at all...
    • It uses time travel to ensure it is always on time - the journey may take 7 years though!
    • Luckily people have pointed out the inaccuracy in your statement. Unluckily for me I no longer have anything intelligent to contribute. I should probably say that travelling around London on the trains isn't that bad, people make out like it is living hell. I've often had to wait longer for a bus to come along than I would have to wait for a train to the same place. They don't look very nice (the older ones, I mean) and the tracks are a bit dodgy but apart from that it's a decent service. Would rather it wa
    • Re:British Rail (Score:3, Informative)

      by BovineSpirit (247170)
      Yawn, no it's a completely different one. British Rail was the nationalised company that was given no money to keep our railways going. Thatcher made them reduce costs by 30%, and, when they were successful made them do it again. The trains were still very reliable.
      The railways were privatised in the early 90s, leading to vast increases in fares, delays and cancellations. Inexperienced managers were brought in to replace the old BR staff and they wasted alarming amounts of money
      • The railways were privatised in the early 90s, leading to vast increases in fares, delays and cancellations.

        Not everywhere. On my line, for example (c2c), fares didn't change much, and although the service was patchy for the first couple of years, since then it's been very good: there are lots of trains, they all have modern sliding-door carriages, and they're practically always there and on time.

        I know that the experience of passengers elsewhere has been lamentable, but credit where it's due.

    • Re:British Rail (Score:4, Informative)

      by Alioth (221270) <no@spam> on Monday March 13, 2006 @03:31PM (#14909967) Journal
      Every railway suffers from leaves on the line; in the BR case it was more of a PR problem (they told the truth, where other railway companies may have just said 'operational problems' or some other nondescript reason) and the dolts who didn't understand laughed.

      The problem is this. Wet leaves can accumulate during heavy leaf falls. When a train rolls over these, it turns the leaves into an incredibly good lubricant. The moment the driver applies the brakes, hundreds of wheels all lock up. This leaf lube isn't all that good though - quickly wearing off, and when it does, metal to metal contact with the rail head is restored. Except now the wheels are stopped even though the train is still going. The friction burns a flat spot in the wheel - and the rolling stock has to be immediately taken out of service to have the wheel repaired.

      BR (or more accurately, Network SouthEast) made a similar gaffe when they told the truth about the snow (the infamous 'wrong kind of snow'). British snow is typically heavy and wet. This snow was like the finest powder in Utah which people love to ski on. It got sucked into traction motors, shorting them out. If they had just lied and said the track was blocked by snow, everyone would have forgotten about it by now.

      • "...Every railway suffers from leaves on the line..."

        Also, bear in mind that leaves anywhere near the line are a relatively modern phnomenon: In the days of yore, sparks from the smokestack would ignite any accumulated leaves and brush near the line. Obviously this don't happen with diesel an electric locomotives.
  • Daedalus (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Phanatic1a (413374) on Monday March 13, 2006 @11:47AM (#14907818)
    "The thermonuclear fusion will take place in a series of pulses, each pulse being triggered by laser energy, and/or energetic particles reflected from a previous pulse. The system will be arranged so that the fusion process will decay after each pulse so that the stability of the system is maintained."

    Pulsed inertial confinement fusion is just a fancy version of Orion, and is what the British Interplanetary Society used in their Daedalus spacecraft concept [wikipedia.org]. Given the 1973 date, the same year as the start of Project Daedalus, I imagine the 'inventor' was a member of the Society.
  • by Mattygfunk (517948) on Monday March 13, 2006 @11:48AM (#14907835) Homepage

    While this may get shot down (NPI) as all a bit of movie inspired silliness, it's people who attempt these very ambitious projects and designs that change the world. Hey - commercial spaceflight is a reality today so why not?

    __
    Laugh DAILY funny adult videos [laughdaily.com]

    • While this may get shot down (NPI) as all a bit of movie inspired silliness, it's people who attempt these very ambitious projects and designs that change the world. Hey - commercial spaceflight is a reality today so why not?

      It isn't just the people who attempt ambitios projects who change the worls. Keep in mind that Frank Whittle was laughed at when he offered his Jet engine to the British MOD, the Brits only began to allocate real resources to jet engie research when their photo intelligence analysts fou
  • by harriet nyborg (656409) on Monday March 13, 2006 @11:50AM (#14907850)
    The fusion powered spacecraft is delayed due to a signal failure at Camden Town. Passengers are advided to board the next fusion power spacecraft and change at Saturn.
    • Will they be able to at least keep it on the same platform? I've walked into Leeds City Station some days and seen a platform change for almost every service.
      • by ajs318 (655362)
        That's hardly surprising in a metropolitan area. Whenever one train has to be re-platformed, the train that was going to use the platform that train is now using also has to be re-platformed, and so on, until there is a big enough time window to get one train out of the way before the xext comes in.

        It's worse in the South because there are two electrification systems in use; the old Southern Electric, third-rail DC system and the modern, overhead AC system. Not all vehicles are dual-powered, and neither
    • That's of course, always assuming that the driver shows up for work.
  • by digitaldc (879047) * on Monday March 13, 2006 @11:54AM (#14907899)
    "The thermonuclear fusion will take place in a series of pulses, each pulse being triggered by laser energy, and/or energetic particles reflected from a previous pulse. The system will be arranged so that the fusion process will decay after each pulse so that the stability of the system is maintained."

    After using the saucer, you are so full of radiation that you will begin to glow green.
    This is helpful when trying to reproduce all aspects of 'alien' saucer lore, as well as to scare the crap out of your neighbours.
  • ....BR canned the Advanced Passenger Train project because apparently the test subjects didn't like the tilting inherent in a tilting train design.

    They came up with the InterCity 125 (because it could do 125MPH) instead. This didn't tilt and was far less revolutionary, but is none the less still in service on our express lines, especially where the line hasn't been electrified.

    It was at least the first train in the UK to have a DVT allowing it to be operated in either direction without being turned round and driven from either end

    Annoyingly, the rights to the APT design were sold to an Italian firm (I think it was Bombardier) who turned it in to the commercialy succesful pendolino - which we have had to buy lots of to run on our West Coast Main line.

    Shame we didn't finish the job ourselves really.

    If you would like to find out more about the APT, visit the National Railway Museum in York UK!
    • BR abandoned the APT because they couldn't make it work reliably. It kept breaking down.

      The 125 was actually a simultaneous project which got into service before the APT was abandoned.
      • "But for the stimulus and competition of APT, HST would not have been in service as early. It might not have existed at all as its development was initiated as a low risk conventional response to APT."

        See APT - With Hindsight by Professor Alan Wickens [apt-p.com]

      • by MROD (101561) on Monday March 13, 2006 @03:26PM (#14909905) Homepage
        Actually...

        The APT-E was the experimental gas turbine powered test train built in 1973/4. At the same time the prototype HST (Intercity 125 as it became) with the prototype (253001) running by 1975, the production versions (class 253 (great western) and the slightly more powerful class 254 (east coast mainline) going into service in 1977 as a stop-gap as the APT would take a while to come into production.

        The HST vehicles (and the Mark 3 coaches) used technology developed in the APT project, such as high speed bogies, wheel design and brakes, the designs for which were licensed throughout the world.

        In 1979/80 the APT-P vehicles were produced. These were the prototype technology test/demonstration machines and were electricly powered.

        Due to the new Conservative government wanting to see a return on the money already spent on the APT project (which was in total less than 1Km of french TGV track) a political decision was made to force the prototypes into regular service before they were ready.

        The inaugural journey was a comedy of errors. Firstly, it was known that the tilt system was not fully debugged and test had shown that some people became "air sick." So, the PR office plied a load of Fleet Street journalists with alcohol, piled them onto the train along with some minor celebrities and then gave them more drink.

        Strangely enough the journos go sick and wrote about it. One car had a tilt failure half way through the journey and properly rotated upright and locked itself there. Strangely, the guard on the train agreed to a certain minor celebrity to stop the train at Carlisle to get off. Because of this the train lost its high-speed slot on the track and arrived late, which pleased the journos even more.. Fleet Street loves stamping on anything new and painting it in the blackest terms.

        So, a PR disaster.

        After being withdrawn from front-line service (for which the protoypes were never designed) they were used on and off on the West Coast Mainline until 1985, by which time all the bugs had been sorted out, they were reliable and it had been determined that the reason for the "air sickness" was due to the tilting being too good and not giving the brain enough hints that the person was going around the corner.

        One set of the APT-Ps has been bought by a private buyer and the last I heard was sitting at Crewe.

        The Pendolino trains are actually a decendant of a separate tilting train projetc in Italy, which initially used passive tilting. The technology and information gathered during the APT project was used by the italians after the APT project closed.

        It is an interesting point that the West Coast Mainline had been given the green light for 155mph running for the APT in the early 80's using the existing lines and signalling. Yet in the late 90's it was stated by the railway authority that the new pendolino trains could only run on that line at 125mph until new signalling was designed, built and installed.
    • I can't comment on anything else in your post, but Bombardier is actually a Canadian [bombardier.com] company. They do make lots of choo-choos though.
    • The HSTs do not have a pair of DVTs, DVT being a shorthand term for Driving Van Trailer - they are 2 x 2,250HP Driving Motor Brakes (DMB).

      As for two driving cabs on either end, the technology was already well used on various multiple units. It was unusual to have two diesel-electric power units used in this fashion, although the "Tadpole" DEMUs in use in the South-East of England had been around for about 20-30 years beforehand.

      I really must get out more.
    • I rode a tilting train once from Berlin to Munich, the "ICE-T" (BTW, Germans find it mildly hurtful to their collective pride if you laugh about the name). Anyhow, as least compared to the Amtrak and MBTA trains I ride, this thing was a work of art. You didn't even notice the tilting unless you had to get up and walk somewhere (or use the WC... but that's another story).
    • On a point of pedantry, the Intercity 125 (HST) does *not* have a DVT - it has an actual locomotive at each end. A DVT is a driving van trailer; by definition unpowered. Both ends of an HST are powered.

      The Intercity 225 has a DVT, however. But by then, DVTs were already in use (most notably on the Edinburgh to Glasgow route).
  • Power Source (Score:4, Informative)

    by Billosaur (927319) * <wgrother@NOsPAm.optonline.net> on Monday March 13, 2006 @11:59AM (#14907949) Journal
    British Rail patented a design for a flying saucer powered by thermonuclear fusion back in 1973. The public transport body submitted Charles Osmond Frederick's maverick contraption, the Guardian reports.

    The fact that sustainable fusion hasto this day eluded scientists was no deterrent to such a ferociously inventive mind. Frederick explains how to dodge the scientific watershed: "The thermonuclear fusion will take place in a series of pulses, each pulse being triggered by laser energy, and/or energetic particles reflected from a previous pulse. The system will be arranged so that the fusion process will decay after each pulse so that the stability of the system is maintained."

    And according to a related report, the fusion required to run the thing may not be ready anytime soon [theregister.co.uk]

  • remember... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    it was British engineers who came up with the first hovering jet! [technologystudent.com]

    With its' lights and hovering at night and from far enough away it's probably routinely mistaken for a UFO.
  • I first heard about this in 1982 in "The Unexplained" magazine! Slow day for the news I suppose...

  • by user24 (854467) on Monday March 13, 2006 @12:13PM (#14908078) Homepage
    so... when the aliens finally meet up with us, the first words between our race and theirs will be a notification of patent infringement and intent to sue said little green men for every neutrino core they've got... :-)
  • by telchine (719345)
    Due to technical difficulties, this spaceship will terminate here at Uranus, a bus service will be along shortly.
  • by Rob T Firefly (844560) on Monday March 13, 2006 @12:19PM (#14908139) Homepage Journal
    Someone beat Microsoft and Amazon to an insane patent!
  • There is a nicer picture and discussion with what looks to be text from the patent itself HERE [bizhosting.com].
  • So does this mean the British patent system is broken too. They issued a patent without a working prototype. Or unless, they did get it working??
    • by Anonymous Coward
      It's British, therefore it doesn't work when it rains.

      Since it rains a fair amount in the UK, they've never managed to get enough consecutive sunny days to actually try the saucer.

      (This is a sly reference to the way many classic British sportscars and motorbikes would fail to operate when it was the slightest bit damp.)
    • Under UK patent law there is no requirement that there be a prototype - the invention must be capable of industrial application but no prototype or working model is needed.

      That said, the patent is plainly not capable of industrial application as it does not explain how the fusion drive would work. It should therefore not have been granted. The UK patent office is normally fairly good at spotting things like this.
  • Fight security... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Masq666 (861213)
    A plane crash is bad enough, and this thing has an onboard Nuclear Reactor. I don't wanna be any place even near a crash site.
  • Here is something to consider for those that like to poke fun at UFOs.

    http://jnaudin.free.fr/lifters/main.htm [jnaudin.free.fr]
  • Rails?! (Score:4, Funny)

    by consumer (9588) on Monday March 13, 2006 @01:05PM (#14908575)
    Since I switched to Ruby on Rails, I can develop fusion powered spacecraft in half the time! With no code at all! And it all tests itself!
  • this story gets "discovered" every few years by journalists looking for copy to fill blank pages.. I can recall it being "reported" 3 or 4 times spread over the last 10 years
  • Sobering experience. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Thedeviluno (903528) on Monday March 13, 2006 @02:30PM (#14909352) Homepage
    I used to laugh at UFO freaks....Until I actually saw one during a BBQ several years ago, with a small gathering of friends late one night outside my house. What we witnessed was a disc visible only by the absence of light in an eliptical shape. The perimeter of the disc had pin-holes of bright white light and I can only guess at the size due to the lack of landmarks in the sky, but the collective opinion seems to be somewhere around 100-200meters in diameter. When I first spotted the disc I could not understand what I was looking at. The eye must associate what it sees with what the brain knows (optics) and so I would have never reconsidered the matter had the UFO not passed directly over my house. From a distance of several miles it appeared to be a flock of white birds heading south. Hardly uncommon, as it slowly drew closer to me I thought maybe I was looking at some kind of helicopter.(I had by now alerted my guests to the event) Once it was on top of us we could see that what had been mistaken for white geese migrating was a ring of bright white lights slowly rotating just enough to make out a sillouhette of the disc against the nightsky, nobody could speak. My small gathering of friends had become a herd of deer in front of headlights. Certainly a once in a lifetime experience. I immediatly called the first aeronautical authority I could think of; the airport laughed at me, the laughter hasnt stopped. You cant talk about this shit without people labelling you a crackpot and why not? Isn't it easier to believe that thousands of eye witnesses are fools or madmen? I always thought so, just keep your eyes on the sky. Everything I've reported is true and I dont care if anyone besides the guests at my BBQ laugh themselves to death. I know what I saw.
    • In 1962 I was at a 5 frat spring outing at a lake not far from York, Ne. We were playing king of the mountian and had stipped to our skivvies to protect our shirt and pants. There were probably 50 or 60 buys there. It was a moonless but clear night. While guarding our flag I happened to look into the northern sky and saw a long, tube shaped craft with a few orange portholes along the side. It passed by silently, amost overhead. I estimated it to be about 100 feet long and 20 feet in diameter. I was
  • Sounds familiar (Score:2, Informative)

    by alanw (1822) *
    I thought I'd read about this before - a long time ago. A quick google for "British Rail" "Flying Saucer" turns up several references, including this New Scientist [newscientist.com] article from 26 July 1997.

    There are other possible earlier ones as well.

  • patents should be disallowed.

    If those "research" or "technical" firms whose only employees are lawyers filing submarine patents had to demonstrate working models of "their" inventions before a patent could be issued, we'd have less of this kind of patent nonsense.
  • Does it come with a tea cup?

What hath Bob wrought?

Working...