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Google's Rogue Internet Balloon Test Spurred UFO Reports Nationwide

timothy posted about 3 months ago | from the what's-the-frequency-richard dept.

Google 65

Jason Koebler (3528235) writes "The hardest thing about Google X's Project Loon hasn't been the engineering challenge of beaming high-speed internet down to the far-flung corners of the world: It's trying to control all those freaking balloons. Project lead Rich DeVaul just revealed the 'Falcon 11,' a 120-foot long transparent mylar balloon made in-house at the secret Google X lab that spurred UFO reports nationwide after the company lost track of it: 'We tracked the balloon by outsourcing to the internet UFO community, it drifted all the way across the country,' he said."

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I agree. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47045547)

http://www.pensu.com

reading comprehension? or network "news"? (4, Funny)

Thud457 (234763) | about 3 months ago | (#47045569)

What I took from that was " Google terrorizes nation with gigantic UFO "

Re:reading comprehension? or network "news"? (4, Funny)

NotDrWho (3543773) | about 3 months ago | (#47045707)

As much as Google loves to fuck us, I'm surprised they didn't deploy anal probes too.

Re:reading comprehension? or network "news"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47046423)

Just what leads you to believe they did not?

Re:reading comprehension? or network "news"? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47046791)

Just what leads you to believe they did not?

If Google had been performing anal probes, there would be a new 'Colonoscopy results' tab on your G+ page.
On the other hand, who would notice if it was only linked to G+?

Re:reading comprehension? or network "news"? (1)

cheater512 (783349) | about 3 months ago | (#47049437)

It is beta so if you submit your feature requests they'll probably add them. ....if you like that kind of thing.

Re:reading comprehension? or network "news"? (1)

antdude (79039) | about 3 months ago | (#47049853)

They already did. ;)

What I took from that was (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47046843)

What I took from that was "Dosing the entire population with microwaves = big ...UFO...belly laugh"

What's the protocol? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47045601)

Surely Google would have had to report that one of their balloons had gone rogue to the FAA, correct? Can't imagine that it doesn't become a hazard to aircraft especially if it drifts near an airport.

Re:What's the protocol? (1)

asylumx (881307) | about 3 months ago | (#47045923)

I'm not sure what altitude this flew, but most class B and C airspace goes no higher than 10,000ft MSL so if this was above that altitude, it would not have broken any of those airspace regulations. In order for it to get past the Rocky Mountains, it was probably at least 7,000ft so it's quite possible it was over 10,000 ft.

Re:What's the protocol? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47046009)

Well, google says "about 12 miles up" ... That actually gets slightly tricky (iirc only a few sectors have controlled airspace above FL600)

Re:What's the protocol? (1)

asylumx (881307) | about 3 months ago | (#47046459)

Ya, thanks. I was trying to find what altitude this flew at before I posted but couldn't find it.

Re: What's the protocol? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47046015)

The Rockies are taller than this. Don't pretend to know more than you do.

Re: What's the protocol? (2)

asylumx (881307) | about 3 months ago | (#47046421)

It didn't have to fly over the tallest point...

Re: What's the protocol? (1)

asylumx (881307) | about 3 months ago | (#47046435)

Besides, I don't see how that changes the point. Did you forget to take your "don't be a dick" pills today?

Re:What's the protocol? (2)

parkinglot777 (2563877) | about 3 months ago | (#47046039)

According to eyewitness testimonial, sighting was with clear, blue, cloudless skies, no aircraft in sight, altitude unknown but definitely above airliner cruising altitude. The object hovered roughly in the same location for over 2 hours, not drifting more than 10 degrees in any direction. Was sighted approximately 60 degrees above the horizon. Image in video was shot with about 150 power magnification.

That's the quote from one of TFA...

Re:What's the protocol? (3, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | about 3 months ago | (#47046441)

"According to eyewitness testimonial, sighting was with clear, blue, cloudless skies, no aircraft in sight, altitude unknown but definitely above airliner cruising altitude."

So no reference but thew new the altitude?
The testimony is worth exactly nothing. This is a common problem with 'UFO seekers' they have no idea that they can't actual give a distance with any accuracy without reference.. So the 'distance' they see something is set at whatever the bias of the viewer wants it to be.

The person who took the video refuses to believe it's acutally a Balloon and thinks Google is lying. So idiocy abounds.

Re:What's the protocol? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47047689)

So, you think GOOGLE never lie ?

Re:What's the protocol? (1)

Carnildo (712617) | about 3 months ago | (#47051135)

I don't know about this balloon, but the ones I've been tracking on FlightRadar are solidly *above* controlled airspace. Airliners tend to hang out around 30,000-40,000 feet, business jets are typically 35,000-45,000 feet, and Google's balloons are at 60,000 feet and above.

UFOs exist (5, Insightful)

Cederic (9623) | about 3 months ago | (#47045611)

Any unidentified flying object is a UFO. I just despair at people immediately assuming that means it's extraterrestial in nature.

Re:UFOs exist (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47045681)

So UFOs exist, but disappear as soon as we identify them?
Sounds like a conspiracy to me! What are you hiding? And why?

The truth is out there!

Re:UFOs exist (1)

Sloppy (14984) | about 3 months ago | (#47045867)

So UFOs exist, but disappear as soon as we identify them?

Only some fake UFOs disappear. The unidentified UFO objects remain!

Re:UFOs exist (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47046219)

So UFOs exist, but disappear as soon as we identify them?

Only some fake UFOs disappear. The unidentified UFO objects remain!

So the unidentified UFOs remain when we identify them? O.o

Re:UFOs exist (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47052109)

So UFOs exist, but disappear as soon as we identify them?

Only some fake UFOs disappear. The unidentified UFO objects remain!

So the unidentified UFOs remain when we identify them? O.o

I'll bite this troll bait.
Identification here isn't *sighting*, but *cataloging* what has been seen under something of real substance. Just like you can hold an unidentified motherboard all you want at a shop... but it's not "identified" till you find the little marker that says what it actually is by part number or something

Re: UFOs exist (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47047829)

so the unidentified unidentified flying object objects remain?

Re:UFOs exist (1)

GuB-42 (2483988) | about 3 months ago | (#47047409)

In the same way, your fist disappear as soon as you open your hand.

Re:UFOs exist (2)

gstoddart (321705) | about 3 months ago | (#47045743)

Any unidentified flying object is a UFO

Kind of by definition, as you've essentially expanded the acronym. :-P

Re:UFOs exist (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47047607)

They're not the same thing.

Re:UFOs exist (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47048151)

Aren't you being a picky pants? Your links are more forgiving than you are.

If you pronounce UFO as "you eff oh", the acronym link's second definition is precisely the sense the poster intended: "a set of initials representing a name, organization, or the like, with each letter pronounced separately; an initialism". Be aware that some people pronounce UFO as a word, you-foe, which fits the first and most specific definition of acronym. (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/ufo)

Also pay attention to the grammar note found in the definition of abbreviation:

"Many abbreviations for phrases, however, are pronounced as words: for example, NATO for N(orth) A(tlantic) T(reaty) O(rganization) or radar for ra(dio) d(etecting) a(nd) r(anging). This type of abbreviation is called an acronym. Some acronyms, like radar, laser, scuba, and Gestapo, have become so accepted as normal words that most people are unaware of their acronymic origins. In many cases an official name may be chosen purely to create an appropriate and catchy acronym, as in the federal "Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act" of 2010 (the "CALM Act").

"In a loose sense, initialism can refer to any abbreviation composed of initials, even if pronounced as a word; conversely, acronym has been widely adopted to refer to any such abbreviation, even if it is pronounced letter by letter. But the distinction between true acronyms (pronounced as words) and pure initialisms (said letter by letter), is a useful one. To complicate the issue, however, there are hybrid formsÃ"part initialism, part acronymÃ"like CD-ROM and JPEGÃ"for which one term is as good as the other."

So maybe, since both initialism and acronym are forms of abbreviation and UFO is an example of both, the general term abbreviation should be preferred. However, your links do not make the strong case you seem to think they do.

Re:UFOs exist (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47045749)

Quite. All those mid-20th century UFOs were much more likely to be military test craft which nobody wanted to acknowledge to the Russkis.

Although Google really ought to have all FCC licenses revoked for managing to lose a balloon. It's pathetic.

Re:UFOs exist (2)

Nidi62 (1525137) | about 3 months ago | (#47045825)

Quite. All those mid-20th century UFOs were much more likely to be military test craft which nobody wanted to acknowledge to the Russkis.

Often they were actually sightings of captured/purchased Russian aircraft such as the MiG-17 that the US was secretly studying. The profile of a MiG-17 is different enough from US planes at the time (F-101, F-4, F-8) that one could easily mistake it as something other than a plane, especially if it was unpainted.

Re:UFOs exist (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47046145)

Often they were actually sightings of captured/purchased Russian aircraft such as the MiG-17 that the US was secretly studying. The profile of a MiG-17 is different enough from US planes at the time (F-101, F-4, F-8) that one could easily mistake it as something other than a plane, especially if it was unpainted.

You really think a ground-based observer, even a kook, is going to claim that a MiG-17 doesn't look like a conventional plane?

Re:UFOs exist (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47046475)

You can probably find a kook claiming it looks like Elvis.
So... yes.

Re:UFOs exist (1)

Threni (635302) | about 3 months ago | (#47045801)

I know, but some people believe in all that stuff. Then again, that's all "UFO" is ever used for anyway, so there's no problem.

Re:UFOs exist (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about 3 months ago | (#47045901)

When you have organisations like MUFON who are more interested in alien invaders than weather balloons, you can understand the usage.

Re:UFOs exist (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 3 months ago | (#47046453)

Since the fact majority of uses is for that, it's a decent assumption. If you don't like it, blame the UFO(alien) community that co-opted it.

Re:UFOs exist (2)

alex67500 (1609333) | about 3 months ago | (#47048409)

Any unidentified flying object is a UFO.

This tautology contest is a tautology contest.

Re:UFOs exist (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | about 3 months ago | (#47049169)

And everyone is a winner.

Re:UFOs exist (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | about 3 months ago | (#47049147)

A significant subset probably believes that they're evidence of a conspiracy instead.

Re:UFOs exist (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47054219)

Any unidentified flying object is a UFO. I just despair at people immediately assuming that means it's extraterrestial in nature.

Oh stop it. This is one of those things that's been used so often it has become an acceptable definition. UFO now can mean "alien spacecraft", just like "begging the question" now can mean "raising the question", and also just like how "literally" now means "figuratively".

it's trying to control all those freaking balloons (1)

csumpi (2258986) | about 3 months ago | (#47045637)

it's trying to control all those freaking balloons

now that wasn't too hard to predict, was it?

.

Derp (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47045671)

They didn't lose it; this is just viral marketing. And it worked.

Well what's more believable: ET-UFOs or God(s)? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47045703)

Make that, which could possibly happen, and which could not. Kansas people...nevermind. A few 1000 blaberring about a UFO is what compared to billions blabbering about a fairy tale straight from hell?

Re:Well what's more believable: ET-UFOs or God(s)? (1)

pr0fessor (1940368) | about 3 months ago | (#47046903)

Hey now! I live in Kansas... just because we have a few very vocal nut jobs doesn't make us all nut jobs.

I've concluded that they make the news so much because unless there is a tornado not much else really happens here. I know it sounds boring but sometimes that's a good thing.

Jets? (1)

AndyKron (937105) | about 3 months ago | (#47045775)

I wonder what would happen if a 120 balloon got stuck in a jet engine?

Re:Jets? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47045841)

Thats going to be a bad day!

Re:Jets? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47046111)

Depends, U-2 or SR-71?

Oh the irony (2)

Nidi62 (1525137) | about 3 months ago | (#47045837)

Tracking Project Loon by following a bunch of UFO loons. Well done Google.

Re:Oh the irony (1)

harvestsun (2948641) | about 3 months ago | (#47046483)

Irony. Humorous coincidence. Learn the difference.

Kind of sad (1)

asylumx (881307) | about 3 months ago | (#47045861)

People want SO BADLY to believe that we're being visited by aliens, that they won't accept a very clear explanation for what they saw. It's kind of sad that we are so disillusioned with our own world that we need to convince ourselves of things like UFOs.

Re:Kind of sad (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47047267)

People want SO BADLY to believe that we're being visited by aliens, that they won't accept a very clear explanation for what they saw.

People want SO BADLY to believe in the free market, that they won't accept a very clear explanation as to why it's not real.

People want SO BADLY to believe in creationism, that they won't accept a very clear evidence for why that's bullshit.

People want SO BADLY to believe in trickle-down economics, that they won't accept that it's a lie.

People want SO BADLY to believe in trickle-down economics, that they won't accept that it's a lie.

People want SO BADLY to believe that America is still free and not ran by douchebags, that they won't look around themselves.

People want SO BADLY to believe Obama isn't an American, that they won't accept that the people pushing this are morons.

People want SO BADLY to believe Bhengazi was a conspiracy, that they won't accept any other explanation.

People are collectively fucking idiots. Most of the people on the American political right are complete fucking idiots. Most of the rest of America are just plain old fucking idiots.

Re:Kind of sad (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 3 months ago | (#47047743)

It's kind of sad that we are so disillusioned with our own world that we need to convince ourselves of things like UFOs.

Partly, but I also wonder how much of it is because some people will convince themselves of anything just to feel special because they know The Truth. The more ridiculous the thing, the more special a person it takes to know that it's true.

c.f. conspiracy theories down the ages.

Reminds me of the Hyperblimp reports (2)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about 3 months ago | (#47046097)

There's a high-end RC hybrid-blimp-thing called the Hyperblimp, it's about 50ft long and transparent. It's been featured by various news stations as a UFO many times. Even with some pics close enough that you can see that it's clearly composed of non-exotic man-made technology. *facepalm*

Re:Reminds me of the Hyperblimp reports (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 3 months ago | (#47046487)

I've seen picture of Chinese floating lanterns which are clearly 50 feet away(reference point: trees) and people say it' a UFO miles away.
At least they stopped when I pointed out the hard to see marking on the lantern oh, no they didn't they called me names and went out about the 'truth'.

Re:Reminds me of the Hyperblimp reports (1)

chihowa (366380) | about 3 months ago | (#47048749)

Speaking of RC and amateur devices, I'm surprised that they didn't just use APRS to keep track of the balloons [aprs.net] . The power budget of a GPS and VHF transmitter are tiny and they can tie into the network (almost) no matter where, or how high, the balloon goes.

The transmissions aren't commercial in nature, so as long as there is a licensed ham there is should be all legal.

It can be tracked easily. (2)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about 3 months ago | (#47046131)

All you have to do is to claim a little boy has sneaked aboard and the balloon has taken off and the balloon boy is missing. Every network will find, track and cover the balloon preempting all scheduled programming. Air Force and Air National Guard will be mobilized. Airports will be closed. It will be tracked. It. Cant. Fail.

Re:It can be tracked easily. (1)

dmorgantini (3660721) | about 3 months ago | (#47046827)

Nope. Wouldn't happen like that. I watched UP.

How hard would it be to find it? (2)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about 3 months ago | (#47046147)

They just have google it right? Google will find it. They might even hit the "I feel lucky" button.

Re:How hard would it be to find it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47046713)

They might even hit the "I feel lucky" button.

Unless your name is Felix Baumgartner, I'd strongly advise against that.

morons (2)

slashmydots (2189826) | about 3 months ago | (#47048475)

I love how UFO believers still exist. We literally have flying discs. I think you can buy them on Thinkgeek. With all the crap we have flying around up there like drones and satellites and secret planes and hobbyist stuff and rockets and balloons, the FIRST place they do is still "must be aliens."

So Google lost a balloon (1)

Stan92057 (737634) | about 3 months ago | (#47049125)

So Google lost a balloon, what would have happened if that balloon took down a passenger plane or a military jet? Oh and shouldn't that balloon be considered a drone as well?? I think Google should be heavily Fined for loosing the balloon. That is IMO

cool (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47049979)

more cia disinfo from cia data headquarters (google)

A simple way to control a balloon (1)

maitas (98290) | about 3 months ago | (#47113327)

This is way old, but can be usefull to help Google control their balloons. http://www.gaerospace.com/proj... [gaerospace.com]

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