The Phenomenon: A Brief Introduction to America’s Massive UFO Problem

Matthew Forman
11 min readFeb 23, 2020
FLIR footage of an Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon. Source: The United States Department of Defense.

On December 16, 2017, The New York Times dropped a bombshell article detailing the funding of a top-secret DoD program called The Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP) tasked with investigating the countless encounters experienced by pilots and military service members in U.S. airspace and abroad. The program was green-lighted by former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D) in 2007, funding research and inquiry into the many sightings witnessed by military personnel and naval officers. Reid has publicly expressed his disbelief in the lack of investigation into the matter by the U.S. Military and the Pentagon.

“I’m not embarrassed or ashamed or sorry I got this thing going” — Harry Reid

The exposure of the AATIP program, supposedly run by intelligence officer Luis Elizondo, revolved heavily around a particular encounter off the coast of San Diego in 2004 reported by pilots and officers aboard the USS Nimitz Carrier Strike Group. The incident occurred after a series of radar tracks from unidentified objects traveling off the coast of Los Angeles near Catalina Island were picked up by the Strike Group’s communications vessel, the USS Princeton.

During a routine combat exercise, Super-Hornet Commander David Fravor was leading his squadron over the clear blue skies off the coast of San Diego when he was instructed by the Princeton to delay training for a real-world task to investigate an unidentified radar reading near their location. Upon arrival at the location given by the Princeton, the squadron noticed nothing unusual. The Princeton however, was tracing an object that was hovering at around 28,000 ft then abruptly dropped to sea level within a second, velocities well over the speed of sound. The pilots then noticed a disturbance in the ocean below, a sort of churning white-water estimated to be the size of a Boeing 737 as if something was surfacing just beneath the water. The attention of the pilots was then quickly focused on an object hovering just above the disturbance in the water. A white, oblong Tic-Tac shaped craft with no visible windows, surface features, or noticeable means of propulsion was observed by all of the pilots. The craft was making erratic movements, described as a ping pong ball bouncing around rapidly in a glass jar, “never changing it’s longitudinal axis,” Fravor says.

An artist’s depiction of the relative sizes between the Tic Tac UFO, a Super-Hornet jet, and a human pilot.

Fravor engaged the object, banking down to its location. The strange craft seemed to notice Fravor’s presence and began to ascend. Fravor then performed an aggressive maneuver and apprehended the object. The Tic-Tac then quickly accelerated away, beaming out of sight past the pilots.

Understandably, they were stunned.

The squadron began to proceed to their rendezvous point when the Princeton notified the pilots that the object reappeared on radar at the exact location they were told rendevous with the Nimitz Battle Group. It would later be calculated that the object must have exceeded 2,000 mph in order to cover that distance.

The pilots in the next squadron of Super Hornets immediately began to keep an eye out for anything out-of-the-ordinary. Sure enough, they spotted what seemed to be the same object described by Fravor and his team. The pilots recorded the object with onboard FLIR cameras as it hovered in the skies nearby before the pilots lost lock and accelerated out of frame at immense speed (see link).

This is one of three videos released on the internet by To The Stars Academy that have been verified by the Department of Defense as authentic footage of what our government refers to as Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon (UAP) or “anomalous aerial vehicle” (AAVs). The other videos appear to show similar craft to the Tic-Tac with no visible means of propulsion displaying vast superiority over our most advanced aircraft and military technology.

This is the first time the U.S. government has openly admitted to the existence and presence of unidentified craft in our air space and across the globe. The occupants of the crafts and their motivation are unknown.

Objects of unknown origin have been reported and investigated in the U.S. since WWII but their presence has permeated U.S. and global culture for generations. The U.S. military has a deep and often withholding connection to the UFO subject, for their interest in objects with superior technological capabilities is not to be unacknowledged. It is important to note that while there is no implicit assumption about the origin of these crafts and their pilots, the likely conclusion we come to when eliminating all other possibilities is most probably Extraterrestrial.

Humans are simply not capable of what these craft have displayed, outperforming our most state of the art weapons systems by light years.

These are likely non-reactionary craft, meaning they operate through completely different physics than conventional aircraft where material is heated up and shot out the back at high velocities to push craft forward.

It is unlikely that a foreign government such as Russia or China could completely leave us in the dust technologically practically overnight.

This is just Occam’s razor at play. The possibility of extraterrestrial or extra-dimensional beings visiting Earth is usually conflated with highly stigmatized phenomena such as Bigfoot or Ghosts, which are actually gaining some level of credence in recent months.

This unfortunate lensing and stigmatization of the UFO subject coupled with government gas-lighting of the public has confused the discourse around this intriguing subject of life beyond Earth.

The Phenomenon (or Phenomena), as I like to refer to it as, has most likely (much uncertainty) spanned back in time to an unknown point of contact or recognition of Homo Sapiens as an intelligent, vastly imaginative, and horrifyingly violent race of ape descendants that have decimated their home planet for natural resources, transformed large portions of unprotected land to feed their rapidly accelerating industrial agriculture engine and growing population, and led the world’s climate and ecosystems to the verge of collapse.

To make matters more complicated and profound, Homo Sapiens have attained the ability to annihilate all life on Earth in a matter of hours, if they choose to do so. Our species has unlocked the incredible power of the atom in a sadistic and homicidal manner as we witnessed in Japan during the culmination of WWII.

As of 2019, there are approximately 9,500 active nuclear warheads possessed by the Sapien Superpowers of the world such as Russia, China, France, the UK, Israel, and most troubling; the U.S. and North Korea with two of the most unstable Sapien Leaders/Authoritarians on Earth, engaging in a pissing match to reassure their pulsating egos and the world that they are the dominant nuclear power.

While current stock-piles are being reduced and there are treaties in place for the banning of nuclear weapons testing, our history with these weapons has been witnessed by something beyond our comprehension in the nearly 2,000 nuclear tests Sapiens have performed on the cosmic stage.

Toying with the idea of a full-blown nuclear exchange through geopolitical power dynamics is a disgusting, horrifying, and deplorable act. The power of these weapons is ungodly, supreme, and there is no technical limit to their potential blast yield, only constrained by engineering practicalities.

It would be foolish to assume the nuclear weapons testing and abnormal heating of our planet done by Sapiens has not caught the attention of an advanced intelligence beyond Earth. There is very little evidence that this intelligence may be hostile or nefarious to our species and life on Earth, but there is a wealth of evidence to suggest a deep concern with the way humans are treating the planet, themselves, and ultimately as we progress as a civilization, other life in the universe which almost certainly exists.

This is the crux of The Phenomenon.

Over the past 75 years, there have been numerous accounts of unidentified craft appearing near or over nuclear warhead silos and arsenals across the globe.

“All of the nuclear facilities — Los Alamos, Livermore, Sandia, Savannah River — all had dramatic incidents where these unknown craft appeared over the facilities and nobody knew where they were from or what they were doing there,”

says George Knapp, an investigative reporter that has widely covered the American UFO Phenomenon since the 80’s. The early 40’s and 50’s were the dawn of the UFO craze in the U.S., resulting in an explosion of sightings, press coverage, and public anxiety and confusion.

We’ve all heard of Roswell, but few know the truth of what actually occurred on the ranch in New Mexico in 1947. Initially, the Air-Force reported the incident to the local news as an undeniable crashed “Flying Saucer” of unknown origin.

Regardless of what actually happened in Roswell, the event ignited public imagination and sparked the highly contested debate over whether we are alone in the cosmos.

If anything, the UFO subject has been massively distorted and manipulated through disinformation campaigns by the government and deep confusion injected into the mainstream media and tabloids through a highly compartmentalized organization of officials within and outside our government to mitigate public concern and completely dismiss the possibility of it even being a feasible scientific argument.

This public gas-lighting by the government and media has been remarkably successful if The Phenomenon indeed proves to be true.

One of the biggest arguments against The Phenomenon is the sheer amount of control of highly classified information needed to keep this a secret from the world. If true, it constitutes the most Earth-shattering paradigm shift our species has ever faced.

Consider the amount of public confusion, religious uproar, existential angst and concern for the safety of our families that would occur if the major governments of the world announced tomorrow that there is an ever-pervasive presence from another planet or even dimension occupying our skies on a daily basis.

We are then likely not dealing with a foreign power that has leap-frogged us in technology; we are likely dealing with a highly advanced form of intelligent life from elsewhere in the galaxy or universe, possibly existing and interacting with life on Earth for thousands, even millions of years.

A depiction of Ezekiel’s Chariot, a biblical event in the book of Ezekiel which could be interpreted as an extraterrestrial encounter. Source: Wikimedia

These words may elicit disbelief, scorn, or even scientific heresy in many people's minds and that is natural. Right now, we simply cannot say for sure who or what is operating the vast variety of UAPs or what their true intentions are here on Earth.

One thing we do have to keep in mind is all that we do not know about the true nature of reality and life beyond Earth, which cannot be stressed enough.

We simply don’t understand the universe in it’s entirety. The implications of the ET hypothesis are incomprehensible, if true.

As a physicist in training, I believe I have a unique perspective on the UFO topic since it has greatly interested me since childhood and was a reason for my entrance into science and learning more about this strange universe we occupy and consciously experience.

My belief is that there is indeed an ET presence on Earth of potentially unknown origin. I come to this conclusion after years of reading and listening to credible people describe some truly incredible experiences.

While mostly anecdotal evidence exists, and we must realize that 95% of UFO reports are often mistaken for something explainable, the remaining 5% is truly an unexplained enigma and could represent a crucial obstacle in the development of our species.

For The Phenomenon to be true, a few things must be stated and admitted as indisputable facts in our current predicament:

First, we do not fully understand the laws of nature in our present description of reality. The Standard Model of Physics is a beautiful and precise explanation for approximately… 5% of the universe’s mass-energy. The rest is completely and utterly unknown; for there is dark matter that contributes to most of the universe’s mass yet we have not been able to directly observe it so far. Then there is dark energy which may be even stranger; for it is a repulsive gravitational phenomenon encapsulated in Einstein’s field equations for Gravity, denoted with the Greek letter, Λ (Lambda), the Cosmological Constant, to keep the universe static. This “fudge factor” happens to describe what physicists believe to be dark energy. For we observe galaxies receding from us faster and faster the farther into space-time we look with our most powerful telescopes.

The universe is not only expanding but accelerating in its expansion. This has baffled physicists ever since we noticed this feature of the universe and we have thus far failed to find a coherent explanation for this phenomenon. In fact, our current best explanation, which uses the idea of vacuum energy to explain an accelerating universe, is the concept that empty space itself has a residual ground state energy or quantum zero-point energy permeating all of space and that this drives the expansion of the universe. However, when physicists calculate the theoretical energy density supposedly produced by this effect, the value is so vastly off from what we observe it has been dubbed “the worst theoretical prediction in the history of physics” since the discrepancy is roughly 120 orders of magnitude in difference.

We have no clue how gravity actually works at the quantum scale and it is not a far-off possibility of physics to say it can be manipulated and controlled to maneuver the vast distances of interstellar space, theoretically speaking, albeit the amount and type of energy needed are astronomical with gigawatt (10⁹ Joules/second) to petawatt (10¹⁵) energy scales, rivaling cities in energy consumption.

As a physicist, I’m deeply curious about these craft and the physics going on here. I was then shocked to find an actual scientific journal article written by Kevin Knuth, a Professor of Physics at SUNY Albany on the physics of the Tic-Tac craft in the 2004 Nimitz Encounters (, analyzed using observations from the pilots. The article claims that the Tic-Tac reached accelerations of 75 g’s to a staggering 5,000 g’s with velocities up to 46,000 mph. The energy required to do this is equivalent to the detonation of multiple thermonuclear weapons occurring in an instant.

This, from a physicist's point of view is simply shocking. We are nowhere near capable of those numbers as a species. The laws of nature are elusive, profound, and startling, but usually, the math doesn’t lie and simply predicts some unbelievable things that were once beyond our comprehension (gravitational waves, black holes, the Higgs particle, etc..).

Clearly, we have a lot to learn about physics and how nature really works, how gravity and quantum mechanics interlink, and how conscious observers can manipulate these powerful foundations of nature to their advantage in unprecedented ways.

We are then faced with the genuine possibility of an intelligence far more superior than us mere humans whom are almost certainly trying to tell us something without rattling the cage too much, so to speak.

This realization, if you choose to make it, is unsettling at the deepest level. On the other hand, it could be one of the most significant events in the history of life on Earth and a potential answer to one of our greatest questions as human beings: Are we alone in this vast universe?

The answer is not up to you, for these phenomena are real and do not need to be believed by us humans to be factual. It is up to the passage of time and our governments to decide whether or not to inform the public of one of the biggest potential cover-ups in the human story. In the end, it is no longer a question of if ETs are visiting Earth, but why and how their presence may be deeply correlated with the way we are treating it and each other as a species. For we have no idea of how precious, rare, or rich Earth is in its natural beauty or as a home to the billions of variations of terrestrial life.

An oasis in the cosmic abyss.



Matthew Forman

Astroparticle physics PhD candidate at UC Irvine, Citizen Scientist, curious Homo Sapien. instagram: @human_wavefunction, twitter: @human_wavfnctn