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A plane (an Airbus A320 to be precise, although I doubt it matters) coming in to land at Glasgow airport has seen a UFO.  Usually, when people talk about UFOs, they mean aliens, however in this case I’m using it in the literal sense.  It was an object, it was flying, and it was unidentified.

The UFO passed around 300 feet below the plane, seen by the pilots mere seconds before.  Visibility was good, nothing was showing on the radar, and the pilots were wide awake.  They described it as

blue and yellow or silver in colour with a small frontal area, but […] bigger than a balloon

They reported the near miss immediately, and the flight controller said he wasn’t talking to anyone else in the area, and there was nothing on his radar.  The radar at Prestwick (which is about 30 miles from Glasgow) reported an “unidentified track history” just over a nautical mile away 28 seconds earlier.  If it was the same object it was moving pretty fast.

Other aircraft, including small planes, helicopters, and weather balloons, would show up on radar.  The weather conditions were wrong for gliders and parascenders, and they shouldn’t have been in restricted airspace anyway.  So what was it?  Members of the committee investigating the near-miss were unable to decide.

Was it aliens?  Or a secret military experiment?

I have a different suggestion.  What is blue and yellow, can fly fast, and is bigger than a balloon?

I’ll give you a hint: it wasn’t a bird, or a plane.

And I may have been lying about it not being an alien.

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Some students have examined the physics behind Batman’s cape (the one from Batman Begins, which goes rigid when a current is passed through it).  They were hoping to discover whether he could actually fly using it.

The conclusion?

Image Credit: Trajectory of a Falling Batman, by D.A. Marshall, T.O. Hands, I. Griths, and G. Douglas

He could fly almost twice as far as he does in the film – around 350m if he jumped from a building 150m tall.  Alas, when he landed he would be moving too fast and would become “a little bit splattered”.  He would be better off with larger wings.

Do physics problems like this annoy you when you discover them in novels and films, or do you just happily suspend your disbelief?


The Author

Nicola Higgins is a 30-something martial artist who runs two Brownie packs and works full time. She somehow still finds time to write.

Her favourite genres are near-future and alternate world science fiction and fantasy.

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