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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
News is new information or current events. The reporting of news falls into the field of journalism. News can be reported by a variety of sources, such as newspapers, television and radio programs, wire services, and web sites. News reporting is a type of journalism, typically written or broadcast in news style. Most news is investigated and presented by journalists and can be distributed to various sites via news agencies. If the content of news is significant enough, it eventually becomes history.
To be considered newsworthy, an event usually must have broad interest due to one or more news values:
Effect (how many people were, are or will be affected?)
Timeliness (did the event occur very recently?)
Revelation (is there significant new information, previously unknown?)
Proximity (was the event nearby geographically?)
Oddity (was the event highly unusual?)
Entertainment (does it make for a fun story?)
Celebrity (was anyone famous involved?)
News items and journalism can be divided in various ways, although there are gray areas. Distinctions include between hard news (serious and timely topics) and soft news (lighter topics); breaking news (immediate events); news analysis; and enterprise or investigative reporting, in which a topic is examined in great detail.
News coverage traditionally begins with the "five W's"—who, what, where, when, why.
In democracies, news organizations are often expected to aim for objectivity: Reporters cover both sides in a controversy and try to eliminate bias. This is not true of all, as some are expected to have a point of view.
In the United Kingdom, limits are set by the government agency Ofcom, the Office of Communications. Both newspapers and broadcast news programs in the United States are generally expected to remain neutral and avoid bias except for clearly indicated editorial articles or segments.
Many single-party countries have operated state-run news organizations, which may present the government's views. Even in those situations where objectivity is expected, it is difficult to achieve, and individual journalists may fall foul of their own personal bias, or succumb to commercial or political pressure. Individuals and organizations who are the subject of news reports may use news management techniques to try to make a favourable impression.
The word "news" comes from a special use of the plural of the word "new" and not, as the common backronym claims, from the four cardinal directions (north, east, west, and south). Old spellings of the word varied widely—newesse, newis, nevis, neus, newys, niewes, etc.
For more information on News, please visit Wikipedia.
Unidentified flying object
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
A UFO or unidentified flying object is any real or apparent flying object which remains unidentified after investigation.
The UFO researcher J. Allen Hynek described a UFO as "the reported perception of an object or light seen in the sky or upon the land the appearance, trajectory, and general dynamic and luminescent behaviour of which do not suggest a logical, conventional explanation and which is not only mystifying to the original percipients but remains unidentified after close scrutiny of all available evidence by persons who are technically capable of making a common sense identification, if one is possible."
This is reputedly a UFO over Passoria, New Jersey, 1952. It comes from an FBI document but there is no information establishing authenticity, or otherwise.Many people believe that UFOs are extraterrestrial spacecraft, but others say there is no compelling evidence to support such a conclusion. Most scientists and academics adhere to a standard of research attributed to Carl Sagan that "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence". As a result, critiques are often made against those who believe that UFOs are extraterrestrial spacecraft.
1.1 Ancient accounts
1.2 First modern reports
1.3 Modern UFO era
2 UFOs in popular culture
3.1 UFO categorization
3.1.1 Hynek system
3.1.2 Vallee System
3.2 Physical evidence
3.2.1 Notable UFO-related sightings and events
3.3 Explanations and Opinions
3.3.1 Popular ideas for explaining UFOs
3.3.2 Identified flying objects (IFOs)
3.4 Conspiracy theories
3.4.1 Allegations of evidence suppression
4 Ufology - people and organizations
4.1 Organizations: U.S.
5 Use in film and television
Reports of strange apparitions in the sky have been recorded throughout history. Some may have been comets, bright meteors, or atmospheric optical phenomena such as parhelia; others remain unexplained. Some of the more famous reports include:
The Book of Ezekiel describes the vision of beings descending and ascending in the sky in something with smoke, flames, and wheels inside wheels. NASA aerospace engineer Josef Blumrich designed a spaceship that he thought would fit the various parts of Ezekiel's description (in Blumrich's book, The Spaceships of Ezekiel). Blumrich thought, for example, that the wheels might represent helicopter rotors for landing and takeoff. However, others argue that a "wheel within a wheel" might simply be a religious metaphor for God's continuously revolving kingdom.
During the reign of the pharoah Thutmose III around 1450 BCE, there is a description of multiple "circles of fire" brighter than the sun and about 5 meters in size that appeared over multiple days. They finally disappeared after ascending higher in the sky.
The army of Alexander the Great in 329 BCE, as they were crossing a river into India, saw "two silver shields" in the sky that dove repeatedly on their military columns causing panic. In 322 BCE when Alexander was besieging Tyre in Phoenicia, another "flying shield" moving in triangular formation with smaller "shields" approached. Supposedly the larger object shot beams of light at the city shattering its walls and other defenses. Alexander's army quickly took advantage of the situation and seized the city. The objects then departed.
1566 woodcut by Hans Glaser of 1561 Nuremberg eventThe Roman author Julius Obsequens writes that in 99 BC, "in Tarquinia towards sunset, a round object, like a globe, a round or circular shield, took its path in the sky from west to east."
In 1235 the army of Oritsume in Japan saw mysterious lights in the sky.
In the Chronicle of monk and historian William of Newburgh, it says that in 1290 the abbot and monks of Byland Abbey in Yorkshire were terrorized when "a flat, round, shining silvery object" flew over the abbey. This story was, however, later shown to be a hoax, started when two school boys from the local school wrote a letter to the editor detailing the claim.
Circa 1491-1492, famous explorer Christopher Columbus had an account, in his journal, of lights that had seemed to come out of the sea, and vanished into the air.
On April 14, 1561 the skies over Nuremberg, Germany were reportedly filled with a multitude of objects seemingly engaged in an aerial battle. Small spheres and discs were said to emerge from large cylinders. (image right)
Usually treated as supernatural portents, angels, and other religious omens, some contemporary investigators believe these reports to be the ancient equivalent of modern UFOs.
First modern reports
Before "flying saucers" and "UFO"s were coined as a term, there were a number of reports of strange, unidentified aerial phenomena from the mid-nineteenth to early twentieth centuries. These include:
Photo of an alleged UFO taken in New Hampshire in 1870On November 17, 1882, astronomer E. W. Maunder of the Greenwich Royal Observatory described in the Observatory Reports "a strange celestial visitor" that was "disc-shaped," "torpedo-shaped," or "spindle-shaped." It was said to be very different in characteristics from a meteor fireball. Years later, Maunder wrote it looked exactly like the new Zeppelin dirigibles. The strange object was also seen by several other European astronomers. (Frank Edwards, Flying Saucers, Serious Business, 18)
In the late nineteenth century, sightings of large airships, often using searchlights, were sometimes conflated with extraterrestrial visitors. One of the most famous early reports was an 1897 crash of an airship of unknown origin in Aurora, Texas. Local news reported the recovery of the body of a "Martian pilot" in the crash.
On February 28, 1904, there was a sighting by three crew members on the U.S.S. Supply 300 miles west of San Francisco, reported by Lt. Frank Schofield, later to become Commander-in-Chief of the Pacific Fleet. Schofield wrote of three bright red egg-shaped and circular objects flying in echelon formation that approached beneath the cloud layer, then changed course and "soared" above the clouds, departing directly away from the earth after 2 to 3 minutes. The largest had an apparent size of about six suns. 
The so-called Fátima incident or "The Miracle of the Sun," witnessed by tens of thousands in Fátima, Portugal on October 13, 1917, is believed by some researchers to actually be a UFO event.
Between 1932 and 1937, there were hundreds of reports of large "ghost planes" over the Scandinavian nations, often reported using powerful searchlights and accompanied by multi-colored lights at much higher altitudes.
In both the European and Japanese aerial theatres during World War II, "Foo-fighters" (balls of light and other shapes that followed aircraft) were reported by both Allied and Axis pilots.
On February 25, 1942, an unidentified craft was detected over the California region. The craft stayed aloft despite taking at least 20 minutes worth of flak from ground batteries. The incident later became known as the Battle of Los Angeles, or the West coast air raid.
In 1946, there were over 2000 reports of unidentified aircraft in the Scandinavian nations, along with isolated reports from France, Portugal, Italy and Greece, then referred to as "Russian hail," and later as "ghost rockets," because it was thought that these mysterious objects were Russian tests of captured German V1 or V2 rockets. This was subsequently shown not to be the case, and the phenomenon remains unexplained. Over 200 were tracked on radar and deemed to be "real physical objects" by the Swedish military. A significant fraction of the remainder were thought to be misperceptions of natural phenomena, such as meteors.
Modern UFO era
The post World War II UFO phase in the United States began with a reported sighting by American businessman Kenneth Arnold on June 24, 1947 while flying his private plane near Mount Rainier, Washington. He reported seeing nine brilliantly bright objects flying across the face of Rainier towards nearby Mount Adams at "an incredible speed", which he calculated at at least 1200 miles an hour by timing their travel between Rainier and Adams. His sighting subsequently received significant media and public attention. Arnold would later say they "flew like a saucer would if you skipped it across the water" and also said they were "flat like a pie pan", "shaped like saucers," and "half-moon shaped, oval in front and convex in the rear. ...they looked like a big flat disk." (One, however, he would describe later as being almost crescent-shaped.) Arnold's reported descriptions caught the media's and the public's fancy and gave rise to the terms flying saucer and flying disk.
Arnold's sighting was followed in the next few weeks by several thousand other reported sightings, mostly in the U.S., but in other countries as well. Perhaps the most significant of these was a United Airlines crew sighting of nine more disc-like objects over Idaho on the evening of July 4. This sighting was even more widely reported than Arnold's and lent considerable credence to Arnold's report. For the next few days most American newspapers were filled with front-page stories of the new "flying saucers" or "flying discs." Starting with official debunkery that began the night of July 8 with the Roswell UFO incident, reports rapidly tapered off, ending the first big U.S. UFO wave.
Starting July 9, Army Air Force intelligence, in cooperation with the FBI, secretly began a formal investigation into the best sightings, which included Arnold's and the United crew. The FBI was told that intelligence was using "all of its scientists" to determine whether or not "such a phenomenon could, in fact, occur." Furthermore, the research was "being conducted with the thought that the flying objects might be a celestial phenomenon," or that "they might be a foreign body mechanically devised and controlled." (Maccabee, 5) Three weeks later they concluded that, "This 'flying saucer' situation is not all imaginary or seeing too much in some natural phenomenon. Something is really flying around."  (Maccabee, 15; Dolan, 69; Good, 253; Fawcett & Greenwood, 213-14) A further review by the intelligence and technical divisions of the Air Materiel Command at Wright Field reached the same conclusion, that "the phenomenon is something real and not visionary or fictitious," that there were objects in the shape of a disc, metallic in appearance, and as big as man-made aircraft. They were characterized by "extreme rates of climb [and] maneuverability," general lack of noise, absence of trail, occasional formation flying, and "evasive" behavior "when sighted or contacted by friendly aircraft and radar," suggesting either manual, automatic, or remote control. It was thus recommended in late September 1947 that an official Air Force investigation be set up to investigate the phenomenon.  (Maccabee, 20; Good, 261, 476-8) This led to the creation of the Air Force's Project Sign at the end of 1947, which became Project Grudge at the end of 1948, and then Project Blue Book in 1952. Blue Book closed down in 1970, ending the official Air Force UFO investigations.
A claimed UFO from Brazil. The circular aura suggests it is a light in the foreground.Use of "UFO" instead of "flying saucer" was first suggested in 1952 by Capt. Edward J. Ruppelt, the first director of Project Blue Book, who felt that "flying saucer" did not reflect the diversity of the sightings. Ruppelt suggested that "UFO" should be pronounced as a word — "you-foe". However it is generally pronounced by forming each letter: "U.F.O." His term was quickly adopted by the Air Force, which also briefly used "UFOB" circa 1954. Ruppelt recounted his experiences with Project Blue Book in his memoir, The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects (1956), also the first book to use the term. book online
Air Force Regulation 200-2, issued in 1954, defined an Unidentified Flying Object (UFOB) as "any airborne object which by performance, aerodynamic characteristics, or unusual features, does not conform to any presently known aircraft or missile type, or which cannot be positively identified as a familiar object." The regulation also said UFOBs were to be investigated as a "possible threat to the security of the United States" and "to determine technical aspects involved." Furthermore, Air Force personnel were directed not to discuss unexplained cases with the press.
UFOs in popular culture
Beginning in the 1950s, UFO-related spiritual sects, sometimes referred to as contactee cults, began to appear. Most often the members of these sects rallied around a central individual, who claimed to either have made personal contact with space-beings, or claimed to be in telepathic contact with them. Prominent among such individuals was George Adamski, who claimed to have met a tall, blond-haired Venusian named "Orthon," who came to warn us about the dangers of nuclear proliferation. Adamski was widely dismissed, but an Adamski Foundation still exists, publishing and selling Adamski's writings. At least two of these sects developed a substantial number of adherents, most notably The Aetherius Society, founded by British mystic George King in 1956, and the Unarius Foundation, established by "Ernest L." and Ruth Norman in 1954. A standard message-theme from space beings to these cults was a warning about the dangers of nuclear proliferation. More recent groups organized around an extraterrestrial theme include Ummo, Heaven's Gate, Raël, and the Ashtar Command. An interesting feature that many of the early as well as the later UFO sects share is a tendency to incorporate ideas from both Christianity and various eastern religions, "hybridizing" these with ideas pertaining to extraterrestrials and their benevolent concern with the people of earth.
The notion of contactee cults gained a new twist during the 1980s, primarily in the USA, with the publication of books by Whitley Strieber (beginning with Communion) and Jacques Vallee (Passport to Magonia). Strieber, a horror writer, felt that aliens were harassing him and were responsible for "missing time" during which he was subjected to strange experiments by 'grey aliens'. This newer, darker model can be seen in the subsequent wave of "alien abduction" literature, and in the background mythos of TV's X-Files.
However, even in the alien abduction literature, motives of the aliens run the gamut from hostile to benevolent. For example, researcher David Jacobs believes we are undergoing a form of stealth invasion through genetic assimilation. The theme of genetic manipulation (though not necessarily an invasion) is also strongly reflected in the writings of Budd Hopkins. The late Harvard psychiatrist John Mack (1929-2004) believed the aliens ethical bearing was to take a role as "tough-love" gurus trying to impart wisdom. James Harder claims abductees predominantly report positive interactions with aliens, most of whom have benevolent intentions and express concern about human survival.
Another key development in 1970s UFO folklore came with the publication of Erich von Däniken's book Chariots of the Gods. The book argued that aliens have been visiting Earth for thousands of years, which he purported to explain UFO-like images from various archeological sources as well as unsolved mysteries. Such ideas were not exactly new. For example, earlier in his career, astronomer Carl Sagan in Intelligent Life in the Universe (1966) had similarly argued that aliens could have been visiting the Earth sporadically for millions of years. "Ancient astronauts" proposals inspired numerous imitators, sequels, and fictional adaptations, including one book (Barry Downing's The Bible and Flying Saucers) which interprets miraculous aerial phenomena in the Bible as records of alien contact. Many of these interpretations posit that aliens have been guiding human evolution, an idea taken up earlier by the novel and film 2001: A Space Odyssey.
An interesting 1970s-era development was a renewal and broadening of ideas associating UFOs with supernatural or preternatural subjects such as occultism, cryptozoology, and parapsychology. Some 1950s contactee cultists had incorporated various religious and occult ideas into their beliefs about UFOs, but in the 1970s this was repeated on a considerably larger scale. Many participants in the New Age movement came to believe in alien contact, both through mediumistic channeling and through literal, physical contact. A prominent spokesperson for this trend was and is actress Shirley MacLaine, especially in her book and miniseries, Out On a Limb. The 1970s saw the publication of many New Age books in which ideas about UFOs and extraterrestrials figured prominently.
UFOs constitute a widespread international cultural phenomenon of the last half-century. Folklorist Thomas E. Bullard writes, "UFOs have invaded modern consciousness in overwhelming force, and endless streams books, magazine articles, tabloid covers, movies, TV shows, cartoons, advertisements, greeting cards, toys, T-shirts, even alien-head salt and pepper shakers, attest to the popularity of this phenomenon. Gallup polls rank UFOs near the top of lists for subjects of widespread recognition -- a 1973 survey found that 95 percent of the public had heard of UFOs, whereas in 1977 only 92 percent had heard of Gerald Ford in a poll taken just nine months after he left the White House." (Bullard, 141)
A 1996 Gallup poll reported that 71% of the United States' population believed that the government was covering up information regarding UFOs. A 2002 Roper poll for the Sci Fi channel found similar results, but with more people believing UFOs were extraterrestrial craft. Again about 70% felt the government was not sharing everything it knew about UFOs or extraterrestrial life. But 56% thought UFOs were real craft and 48% that aliens had visited the Earth. 
Main article: Ufology
Ufology is a neologism coined to describe the collective efforts of investigators who study UFO reports and associated evidence. While ufology does not represent an academic research program, UFOs have been subject to various investigations over the years, varying widely in scope and scientific rigor. Governments or independent academics in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Belgium, Sweden, Brazil, Mexico, Spain, and the Soviet Union are known to have investigated UFO reports at various times. Perhaps the best known study was Project Blue Book, previously Project Sign and Project Grudge, conducted by the United States Air Force from 1947 until 1969. Other notable investigations include the Robertson Panel (1953), the Brookings Report (1960), the Condon Committee (1966-1968), the Green Fireballs/Project Twinkle investigation (1948-1951), the Sturrock Panel (1998), and the French GEPAN/SEPRA (1977-2004) and COMETA (1996-1999) study groups. No national government has ever publicly suggested that UFOs represent any form of alien intelligence. However, a few internal, classified government studies have suggested this or had individuals associated with them who have held such opinions. Examples are the 1948 Estimate of the Situation by Project Sign personnel and the heads of the French GEPAN/SEPRA studies, who have publicly supported the Extraterrestrial Hypothesis.
Some researchers recommend that observations be classified according to the features of the phenomenon or object that are reported or recorded. Typical categories include:
Saucer, toy-top, or disk-shaped "craft" without visible or audible propulsion. (day and night)
Rapidly-moving lights or lights with apparent ability to rapidly change direction"
Large triangular "craft" or triangular light pattern
Cigar-shaped "craft" with lighted windows (Meteor fireballs are sometimes reported this way).
Other: chevrons, equilateral triangles, spheres, domes, diamonds, shapeless black masses, eggs, and cylinders.
J. Allen Hynek developed another commonly used system of description, dividing sightings into six categories. It first separates sightings on the basis of proximity, arbitrarily using 500 feet as the cutoff point. It then subdivides these into divisions based on viewing conditions or special features. The three distant sighting categories are:
Nocturnal Lights (NL): Anomalous lights seen in the night sky.
Daylight Discs (DD): Any anomalous object, generally but not necessarily "discoidal", seen in the distant daytime sky.
Radar/Visual cases (RV). Objects seen simultaneously by eye and on radar.
The distant classification is useful in terms of evidentiary value, with RV cases usually considered to be the highest because of radar corroboration and NL cases the lowest because of the ease in which lights seen at night are often confused with prosaic phenomena such as meteors, bright stars, or airplanes. RV reports are also fewest in number, while NL are largest.
In addition were three "close encounter" (CE) subcategories, again thought to be higher in evidentiary value, because it includes measurable physical effects and the objects seen up close are less likely to be the result of misperception. As in RV cases, these tend to be relatively rare:
CE1: Strange objects seen nearby but without physical interaction with the environment.
CE2: A CE1 case but creating physical evidence or causing electromagnetic interference (see below).
CE3: CE1 or CE2 cases where "occupants" or entities are seen. (Hence the title of Steven Spielberg's movie, Close Encounters of the Third Kind)
Hynek's CE classification system has since been expanded to include such things as alleged alien abductions and cattle mutilation phenomena.
Jacques Vallee has devised a UFO classification system which is preferred by many UFO investigators over Hynek' system as it is considerably more descriptive than Hynek's, especially in terms of the reported behavior of UFOs.
Type - I (a, b,c, d)- Observation of an unusual object, spherical discoidal, or of another geometry, on or situated close to the ground (tree height, or lower), which may be associated with traces - thermal, luminous, or mechanical effects.
a - On or near ground
b - Near or over body of water
c - Occupants appear to display interest in witnesses by gestures or luminous signals
d - Object appears to be "scouting" a terrestrial vehicle
Type - II (a, b,c) - Observation of an unusual object with vertical cylindrical formation in the sky, associated with a diffuse cloud. This phenomenon has been given various names such as "cloud-cigar" or "cloud-sphere."
a - Moving erratically through the sky
b - Object is stationary and gives rise to secondary objects (sometimes referred to as "satellite objects")
c - Object is surrounded by secondary objects
Type - III (a, b,c, d,e)- Observation of an unusual object of spherical, discoidal or elliptical shape, stationary in the sky.
a - Hovering between two periods of motion with "falling-leaf" descent, up and down, or pendulum motion
b - Interruption of continuous flight to hover and then continue motion
c - Alters appearance while hovering - e.g., change of luminosity, generation of secondary object, etc.
d - "Dogfights" or swarming among several objects
e - Trajectory abruptly altered during continuous flight to fly slowly above a certain area, circle, or suddenly change course
Type IV (a, b,c, d) - Observation of an unusual object in continuous flight.
a - Continuous flight
b - Trajectory affected by nearby conventional aircraft
c - Formation flight
d - Wavy or zig-zag trajectory
Type V (a, b,c)- Observation of an unusual object of indistinct appearance, i.e., appearing to be not fully material or solid in structure.
a - Extended apparent diameter, non-point source luminous objects ("fuzzy")
b - Starlike objects (point source), motionless for extended periods
c - Starlike objects rapidly crossing the sky, possibly with peculiar trajectories
Source: 1. Jacques and Janine Vallee: Challenge To Science: The UFO Enigma, LC# 66-25843
Besides visual sightings, cases sometimes have alleged associated direct or indirect physical evidence, including many cases studied by the military and various government agencies of different countries. Indirect physical evidence would be data obtained from afar, such as radar contact and photographs. More direct physical evidence involves physical interactions with the environment at close range—Hynek's "close encounter" or Vallee's "Type-I" cases—which include "landing traces," electromagnetic interference, and physiological/biological effects.
Some of these cases have been shown to be deliberate hoaxes. Others have been shown to be explainable as natural or manmade phenomena. The remaining fraction have been labeled unidentified or unexplainable. Analyses of such cases have results that are usually ambiguous or inconclusive.
A list of various purported physical evidence cases from government and private studies includes:
Radar contact and tracking, sometimes from multiple sites. These are often considered among the best cases since they usually involve trained military personnel and control tower operators, simultaneous visual sightings, and aircraft intercepts. One such recent example were the mass sightings of large, silent, low-flying black triangles in 1989 and 1990 over Belgium, tracked by multiple NATO radar and jet interceptors, and investigated by Belgium's military (included photographic evidence).  Another famous case from 1986 was the JAL 1628 case over Alaska investigated by the FAA.
Photograpic evidence, including still photos, movie film, and video, including some in the infrared spectrum (rare).
Recorded visual spectrograms (extremely rare) — (see Spectrometer)
Recorded gravimetric and magnetic disturbances (extremely rare)
Landing physical trace evidence, including ground impressions, burned and/or desiccated soil, burned and broken foliage, magnetic anomalies, increased radiation levels, and metallic traces. See, e.g. Height 611 UFO Incident or the 1964 Lonnie Zamora's Socorro, New Mexico encounter, considered one of the most inexplicable of the USAF Project Blue Book cases. A well-known example from December 1980 was the USAF Rendlesham Forest Incident in England. Another less than 2 weeks later, in January 1981, occurred in Trans-en-Provence and was investigated by GEPAN, then France's official government UFO-investigation agency.  Project Blue Book head Edward J. Ruppelt described a classic 1952 CE2 incident ("Scoutmaster case") involving charred grass roots and tips under the area where the witness said the UFO had hovered.  Catalogs of several thousand such cases have been compiled, particularly by researcher Ted Phillips.
Physiological effects on people and animals have been reported, including temporary paralysis, skin burns and rashes, corneal burns, and symptoms resembling radiation poisoning, such as in the 1967 Falcon Lake Incident and 1980 Cash-Landrum incident. One such case dates back to 1886, a Venezuelan incident reported in Scientific American magazine.  Mass sightings and UFO-generated injuries and deaths were reported in the Amazon River delta beginning in 1977 and documented by the Brazilian military and others. A detailed summary and compendium of physiological cases reported in the UFO literature has been compiled by Geoff Dittman  ]
So-called Animal/Cattle Mutilation cases, that some feel are also part of the UFO phenomenon. Such cases can and have been analyzed using forensic science techniques.
Biological effects on plants such as increased or decreased growth, germination effects on seeds, and blown-out stem nodes (usually associated with physical trace cases or crop circles)
Electromagnetic interference (EM) effects, including stalled cars, power black-outs, radio/TV interference, magnetic compass deflections, and aircraft navigation, communication, and engine disruption. A list of over 30 such aircraft EM incidents was compiled by NASA scientist Richard F. Haines. A famous military case from 1976 over Tehran, recorded in CIA and DIA classified documents, resulted in communication losses in multiple aircraft and weapons system failure in an F-4 jet interceptor as it was about to fire a missile on one of the UFOs. This was also a radar/visual case. (Fawcett & Greenwood, 81-89; Good, 318-322, 497-502)
Remote radiation detection, some noted in FBI and CIA documents occurring over government nuclear installations at Los Alamos National Laboratory and Oak Ridge National Laboratory in 1950, also reported by Project Blue Book director Ed Ruppelt in his book. The Oak Ridge incidents also involved radar contact.
Actual hard physical evidence cases, such as 1957, Ubatuba, Brazil, magnesium fragments analyzed by the Brazilian government and in the Condon Report and by others. The 1964 Socorro/Lonnie Zamora incident also left metal traces, analyzed by NASA.
Misc: Recorded electromagnetic emissions, such as microwaves detected in the well-known 1957 RB-47 surveillance aircraft case, which was also a visual and radar case;  polarization rings observed around a UFO by a scientist, explained by James Harder as intense magnetic fields from the UFO causing the Faraday effect. 
These various reported physical evidence cases have been studied by various scientist and engineers, both privately and in official governmental studies (such as Project Blue Book, the Condon Committee, and the French GEPAN/SEPRA). A comprehensive scientific review of physical evidence cases was carried out by the 1998 Sturrock UFO panel.
Attempts have been made to reverse engineer the possible physics behind UFOs through analysis of both eyewitness reports and the physical evidence. Examples are former NASA and nuclear engineer James McCampbell in his book Ufology online, NACA/NASA engineer Paul R. Hill in his book Unconventional Flying Objects, and German rocketry pioneer Hermann Oberth. Among subjects tackled by McCampbell, Hill, and Oberth was the question of how UFOs can fly at supersonic speeds without creating a sonic boom. McCampbell's proposed solution of a microwave plasma parting the air in front of the craft is currently being researched by Leik Myrabo, Professor of Engineering Physics at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute as a possible advance in hypersonic flight.1995 Aviation Week article
Notable UFO-related sightings and events
List of major UFO sightings
Australian UFO Sightings
Explanations and Opinions
Statistics compiled by U.S. Air Force studies found that the strong preponderance of identified sightings were due to misidentifications, with hoaxes and psychological aberrations accounting for only a few percent of all cases.
Nevertheless, many cases remained unexplained. An Air Force study by Battelle Memorial Institute scientists in 1954 of 3200 USAF cases found 22% were unknowns, and with the best cases, 35% remained unsolved. Similarly about 30% of the UFO cases studied by the 1969 USAF Condon Committee were deemed unsolved when reviewed by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA). The official French government UFO scientific study (GEPAN/SEPRA) from 1976 to 2004 listed about 14% of 5800 cases as inexplicable. 
Despite unexplained cases, the general opinion of the mainstream scientific community is that no UFO sighting requires extraordinary explanations . On the contrary, such sightings can be explained by the following prosaic explanations :
ordinary misidentification of natural and man-made phenomena
psychological phenomena such as optical illusions or dreaming/sleep paralysis (often given as an explanation for purported alien abductions)
Skeptics point out that most evidence is ultimately derived from notoriously unreliable eyewitness accounts. Very little in the way of solid physical evidence has been reported, and because UFO sightings are transitory events, there is no opportunity for the repeat testing called for by scientific method. Ockham's razor is invoked by such skeptics since it is considered less incredible for the explanations to be the result of scientifically verified phenomena rather than resulting from novel mechanisms (e.g. the extraterrestrial hypothesis).
Popular ideas for explaining UFOs
To account for hardcore unsolved cases, a number of explanations have been proposed by both proponents and skeptics. Among proponents, some of the more common explanations for UFOs are:
The Extraterrestrial Visitation Hypothesis (ETH) (most popular)
The Interdimensional Hypothesis
The Paranormal/Occult Hypothesis
The hypothesis that they are time machines or vehicles built in a future time.
Similarly, skeptics usually propose the following explanations:
The Psychological-Social Hypothesis
The man-made craft hypothesis (see Military flying saucers)
The unknown natural phenomena hypothesis, e.g. ball lightning, sprites
The Earthlights/Tectonic Strain hypothesis
Usually a combination of explanations is cited to explain all cases, and even proponents will sometimes invoke skeptical explanations, such as man-made craft, to possibly account for some unsolved cases.
Identified flying objects (IFOs)
Main article: Identified flying object
It has been estimated from various studies that 50-90% of all reported UFO sightings are eventually identified, while typically 10-20% remain unidentified (the remainder being "garbage cases" with insufficient information). Studies also show only a tiny percentage of UFO reports to be deliberate hoaxes; most are honest misidentifications of natural and man-made phenomena.
Generally studies indicate that misidentifications fall into three basic categories: astronomical causes (planets, stars, meteors, etc.), aircraft, and balloons. These typically account for 80-90% of the IFOs, with all other causes (such as birds, clouds, mirages, searchlights, etc.) being rare and accounting for the remainder.
The actual percentages of IFOs vs. UFOs depends on who is doing the study and can vary widely depending on the used database, evaluation criteria, personal biases, and politics. Results can also fluctuate from year to year.
Among the many people who have reported UFO sightings, some have been exposed as hoaxers. Not all alleged hoax exposures are certain, however, and many claimants have stuck by their stories, leaving the determination of specific cases as hoaxes contentious. Some of the controversial subjects include these:
Contactees such as George Adamski, who claimed he went on flights in UFOs. (Some believers even contend he had real experiences and later fictionalized others, leaving the subject murky.)
Billy Meier, some of whose photographs have been discredited.
Ed Walters of the Gulf Breeze, Florida UFO reports.
Documents surrounding Majestic 12, a purportedly supersecret high-level United States UFO information management group formed during the Truman administration.
The Maury Island Incident
The alleged Aztec UFO crash debunking article
Bob Lazar, who claimed to have been hired to help reverse engineer saucer craft at Area 51
The Ummo affair, a series of detailed letters and documents allegedly from extraterrestrials.
An online list of reportedly Discredited Sightings
The study of UFO claims over the years has led to valuable discoveries about atmospheric phenomena and psychology. In psychology, the study of UFO sightings has revealed information on misinterpretation, perceptual illusions, hallucination and fantasy-prone personality, which may explain why some people are willing to believe hoaxers such as George Adamski. Many have questioned the reliability of hypnosis in UFO abduction cases.
Main article: UFO conspiracy theory
UFOs are sometimes an element of elaborate conspiracy theories in which the government is said to be intentionally covering up the existence of aliens, or sometimes collaborating with them. There are many versions of this story; some are exclusive, while others overlap with various other conspiracy theories.
Probably most Ufologists believe the basic premise that various national governments are covering up UFO information. In the U.S., opinion polls again indicate that a strong majority of people believe the U.S. government is withholding such information. Various notables have also expressed such views. Some examples are astronauts Gordon Cooper and Edgar Mitchell, Senator Barry Goldwater, Vice Admiral Roscoe H. Hillenkoetter (the first CIA director), Lord Hill-Norton (former British Chief of Defense Staff and NATO head), the 1999 high-level French COMETA report by various French generals and aerospace experts, and Yves Sillard (former director of the French space agency CNES, new director of French UFO research organization GEIPAN).
There is also speculation that UFO phenomena are tests of experimental aircraft or advanced weapons. In this case UFOs are viewed as failures to retain secrecy, or deliberate attempts at disinformation: to deride the phenomenon so that it can be pursued unhindered. This explanation may or may not feed back into the previous one, where current advanced military technology is considered to be adapted alien technology. (See also: skunk works and Area 51)
It has also been suggested by a few fringe authors that all or most human technology and culture is based on extraterrestrial contact. See also ancient astronauts.
Allegations of evidence suppression
Some also contend that physical evidence of UFOs is sometimes swiftly and clumsily suppressed by governments, aiming to insulate a population they regard as unprepared for the social, theological, and security implications of such evidence. See the Brookings Report.
There have been allegations of suppression of UFO related evidence for many decades. (See also Men in Black) Some examples are:
On July 7, 1947, William Rhodes took photos of an unusual object over Phoenix, Arizona. The photos appeared in a Phoenix newspaper and a few other papers. According to documents from Project Bluebook, an Army counter-intelligence (CIC) agent and an FBI agent interviewed Rhodes on August 29 and convinced him to surrender the negatives. The CIC agent deliberately concealed his true identity, leaving Rhodes to believe both men were from the FBI. Rhodes said he wanted the negatives back, but when he turned them into the FBI the next day, he was informed he wouldn't be getting them back.  The photos were extensively analyzed and would eventually show up in some classified Air Force UFO intelligence reports. (Randle, 34-45, full account)
A June 27, 1950, movie of a "flying disk" over Louisville, Kentucky, taken by a Louisville Courier-Journal photographer, had the USAF Directors of counterintelligence (AFOSI) and intelligence discussing in memos how to best obtain the movie and interview the photographer without revealing Air Force interest. One memo said "it would be nice if OSI could arrange to secure a copy of the film in some covert manner," but if that wasn't feasible, one of the Air Force scientists might have to negotiate directly with the newspaper. 
In another 1950 movie incident from Montana, Nicholas Mariana filmed some unusual aerial objects and eventually turned the film over to the U.S. Air Force, but insisted that the first part of the film, clearly showing the objects as spinning discs, had been removed when it was returned to him. (Clark, 398)
During the military investigation of Green Fireballs in New Mexico, UFOs were photographed by a tracking camera over White Sands Proving Grounds on April 27, 1949. The final report in 1951 on the green fireball investigation claimed there was insufficient data to determine anything. But documents later uncovered by Bruce Maccabee indicate that triangulation was accomplished. The data reduction and photographs showed four objects about 30 feet in diameter flying in formation at high speed at an altitude of about 30 miles. Maccabee says this result was apparently suppressed from the final report. 
Project Blue Book director Edward J. Ruppelt reported that, in 1952, a U.S. Air Force pilot fired his jet's machine guns at a UFO, and that the official report which should have been sent to Blue Book was quashed. 1952 newspaper articles of USAF jets being ordered to shoot down saucers
Astronaut Gordon Cooper reported suppression of a flying saucer movie filmed in high clarity by two Edwards AFB range photographers on May 3, 1957. Cooper said he viewed developed negatives of the object, clearly showing a dish-like object with a dome on top and something like holes or ports in the dome. The photographers and another witness, when later interviewed by James McDonald, confirmed the story. Cooper said military authorities then picked up the film and neither he nor the photographers ever heard what happened to it. The incident was also reported in a few newspapers, such as the Los Angeles Times. The official explanation, however, was that the photographers had filmed a weather balloon distorted by hot desert air. McDonald, 1968 Congressional testimony, Case 41
On January 22, 1958, when NICAP director Donald Keyhoe appeared on CBS television, his statements on UFOs were precensored by the Air Force. During the show when Keyhoe tried to depart from the censored script to "reveal something that has never been disclosed before," CBS cut the sound, later stating Keyhoe was about to violate "predetermined security standards" and about to say something he wasn't "authorized to release." What Keyhole was about to reveal were four publicly unknown military studies concluding UFOs were interplanetary (including the 1948 Project Sign Estimate of the Situation and Blue Book's 1952 engineering analysis of UFO motion). (Good, 286-287; Dolan 293-295)
Astronomer Jacques Vallee reported that in 1961 he witnessed the destruction of the tracking tapes of unknown objects orbiting the Earth. (However, Vallee indicated that this didn't happen because of government pressure but because the senior astronomers involved didn't want to deal with the implications.)
In 1965, Rex Heflin took four widely-published Polaroid photos of a hat-shaped UFO near Santa Ana, California. Two years later (1967), two men posing as NORAD agents confiscated three prints. Just as mysteriously, the photos were suddenly returned to his mailbox in 1993. detailed article and photos
A March 1, 1967 memo directed to all USAF divisions, from USAF Lt. General Hewitt Wheless, Assistant Vice Chief of Staff, stated that unverified information indicated that unknown individuals, impersonating USAF officers and other military personnel, had been harassing civilian UFO witnesses, warning them not to talk, and also confiscating film, referring specifically to the Heflin incident. AFOSI was to be notified if any personnel were to become aware of any other incidents. (Document in Fawcett & Greenwood, 236).
In the 1986 JAL radar/visual case over Alaska (see Physical evidence/radar), FAA manager John Callahan stated that he briefed the CIA, President Reagan's scientific staff, and others on the FAA's analysis of the radar and voice data tapes. At the end of the briefing, Callahan said the CIA advised that they were "confiscating all the data, this event never happened, we were never here, and you are all sworn to secrecy." In addition, they were advised to not notify the media as "it would scare the public." 
Ufology - people and organizations
See also List of UFO researchers.
There have been a number of civilian groups formed to study UFO’s and/or to promulgate their opinions on the subject. Some have achieved fair degrees of mainstream visibility while others remain obscure. The groups listed below have embraced a broad variety of approaches, and have seen a correspondingly wide variety of responses from mainstream critics or supporters.
Aerial Phenomena Research Organization (APRO) (1952-1988)
National Investigations Committee On Aerial Phenomena (NICAP) (1956-1980)
Mutual UFO Network (MUFON) (1969-present)
Center for UFO Studies (CUFOS) (1973-present) A privately-funded unidentified flying object (UFO) research group. It was founded in 1973 by J. Allen Hynek, a professor of astronomy at Northwestern University in Chicago. Hynek was also a top scientific consultant for Project Blue Book.
Fund for UFO Research (FUFOR) (1976-present)
National Institute of Discovery Science (NIDS) (1996-present)
National UFO Reporting Center (NUFORC) (1994-present): Run by Peter Davenport; national clearing house for UFO reports with phone hotline; listings of reports online. homepage, and this link
National Aviation Reporting Center on Anomalous Phenomena (NARCAP) (2000- ): Founded by NASA scientist Richard F. Haines. Clearing house for aviation UFO reports. Concerned about UFOs and air safety. Has collected and evaluated 3400 aviation cases from the last 40 years. homepage
Citizens Against UFO Secrecy (CAUS) (~1978- ): Small, Arizona based research and FOIA interest group. CAUS Homepage
Paradigm Research Group (PRG) & Extraterrestrial Phenomena Political Action Committee (X-PPAC) (1996- ): Small, Washington D.C. group pushing for government UFO disclosure. home page
Center for the Study of Extraterrestrial Intelligence (CSETI) (1990- ): Maryland group that runs The Disclosure Project, an effort to get government disclosure on UFOs. CSETI home page
Dr. Greer's Disclosure Project Disclosureproject Homepage
UFO Casebook UFO Case Book's Homepage
Malevolent Alien Abduction Research Malevolent Alien Abduction Research Homepage This organization believes that aliens are pushing an extremely deceptive agenda, such as claiming that they're friendly and promote peace.
For more information on UFOs, please visit Wikipedia.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Urban legends are a kind of folklore consisting of stories often thought to be factual by those circulating them (see rumor). The term is often used with a meaning similar to the expression "apocryphal story." Urban legends are not necessarily untrue, but they are often false, distorted, exaggerated, or sensationalized. Despite the name, urban legends do not necessarily take place in an urban setting. The name is designed to differentiate them from traditional folklore created in preindustrial times.
Urban legends are sometimes repeated in news stories and, in recent years, distributed by e-mail. People frequently say such tales happened to a "friend of a friend"—so often, in fact, that "friend of a friend", or "FOAF", has become a commonly used term for this sort of story. In the UK, urban legends are sometimes referred to as WTSes (Whale Tumour Stories), from a famous World War II story about whale meat.
Some urban legends have survived a very long time, evolving only slightly over the years, as in the case of the story of a woman killed by spiders nesting in her elaborate hairdo. Others are new and reflect modern circumstances, like the story of people being anaesthetized and waking up minus a kidney surgically removed for transplant. Urban legends often are born of fears and insecurities, or specifically designed to prey on such concerns.
3 Propagation and belief
4 Urban legend versus urban myth
5 Urban legend versus contemporary legend
6 Documenting urban legends
Jan Harold Brunvand professor emeritus of English at the University of Utah in the United States,used the term in print as early as 1979 (in a book review appearing in the Journal of American Folklore 92:362). However, even at that time folklorists and others had been writing about “urban legends” for a good while. Brunvand used his collection of legends, The Vanishing Hitchhiker: American Urban Legends & Their Meanings to make two points: first, that legends, myths, and folklore do not belong solely to so-called primitive or traditional societies; and second, that one could learn much about urban and modern culture by studying such legends. Brunvand has since published a series of similar books. The field also credits Brunvand as the first to use the term vector (after the concept of a biological vector) to describe a person or entity passing along an urban legend.
Most urban legends are framed as stories, with plots and characters. The urban legends resemble a proper joke, especially in the manner of transmission, only that they are much darker in tone and theme.
The compelling nature of the story and its elements of mystery, horror, fear, or humor are part of what makes the tales so attractive. Many of these legends are presented as warnings or cautionary tales. Other urban legends might better be called "widely dispersed misinformation", such as the erroneous belief that you will automatically pass all of your college courses in a semester if your roommate kills himself. While such "facts" may not have the narrative elements of traditional legend, they are passed from person to person and generally have the elements of horror, humor or caution found in legends.
Similarly to the legends of older traditional times, urban legends also concern unexplained phenomena, like phantom apparitions.
Propagation and belief
Many urban legends are about horrific crimes, contaminated foods or other situations that might affect a lot of people if they were true. If one hears such a story, and believes it, a person might feel compelled to warn friends and family.
A person might also pass on non-cautionary information simply because it is funny or interesting. Many urban legends are basically extended jokes, told as if they were true events. In some cases they may have originated as pure jokes that some teller personalized to add point and force to the story.
Some urban legends originate from parents who wish to scare their children into behaving. This often leads to stories where someone (usually a child) is acting in a similar manner and winds up hurt, dead, or in trouble. One such urban legend is that a ceiling fan can decapitate a person jumping on a bed (this was disproved on MythBusters). The supposed argument for the creation of such stories is that it lowers the instances of misbehavior without the need to resort to actual punishment. Drawbacks include the creation of phobias, and a general distrust of one's parents when one learns that many of the stories one has been told are false.
People apparently take urban legends to be true instead of recognizing them as tall tales or unsubstantiated rumors because of the way the story is passed on. A friend who tells an urban legend may say it happened to a friend of somebody else. This apparent accountability adds force to the narrative and personalizes it. Since people, unconsciously or otherwise, often exaggerate, conflate or "clean up" stories when passing them on, urban legends can alter over time.
Urban legend versus urban myth
Some people use the term urban myth to refer to this type of folktale. Jan Harold Brunvand notes that the use of urban legend is less prejudicial because myth is commonly used to describe ideas and tales that are widely accepted as being untrue. The more academic definitions of myth usually refer to a supernatural tale involving gods, spirits, the creation of the world, and so forth.
Urban legend versus contemporary legend
Many scholars prefer the term 'contemporary legend', to highlight the fact that the people telling the story always assert that it has happened very recently, to people contemporary with themselves. This remains true at all periods, e.g. an eighteenth-century pamphlet alleging that a woman has recently been tricked into eating the ashes of her lover's heart is a contemporary legend within the eighteenth century.
The main scholarly association on the topic calls itself The International Society for Contemporary Legend Research, and their journal is entitled Contemporary Legend
Documenting urban legends
The advent of Internet e-mail has allowed the proliferation of many old and many new urban legends. At the same time, it has also allowed accelerated investigation of this social phenomenon.
Discussing, tracking, and analyzing urban legends has become a popular pursuit. It is the topic of a thriving Usenet newsgroup, alt.folklore.urban, and several Web pages, most notably snopes.com.
The United States Department of Energy has a service called Hoaxbusters that deals with all sorts of computer-distributed hoaxes and legends. A TV series, MythBusters, tries to prove or disprove urban legends by reproducing them.
Many early historians recycled hearsay and anecdotal accounts as historical facts. These writings served as the basis for other accounts, and thus inaccurate historical narrative created self-perpetuating, vicious circles.
Well-known modern urban legends include the person who tried to dry off a wet poodle in a microwave oven, killing it; the vanishing hitchhiker; and alligators said to live in New York City's sewers, where they grow to enormous size after having been flushed down the toilet by dissatisfied pet owners.
An urban legend can very seldom be traced to its origins. For examples of those that can be, see The Submarine (shark), the Steam tunnel incident and Gloomy Sunday, the tale of the so-called "Hungarian suicide song".
For more information on Urban Legends, please visit Wikipedia.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
A natural disaster is the consequence of the combination of a natural hazard (a physical event e.g. volcanic eruption, earthquake, landslide) and human activities. Human vulnerability, caused by the lack of appropriate emergency management, leads to financial, structural, and human losses. The resulting loss depend on the capacity of the population to support or resist the disaster, their resilience . This understanding is concentrated in the formulation: "disasters occur when hazards meet vulnerability" . A natural hazard will hence never result in a natural disaster in areas without vulnerability, e.g. strong earthquakes in uninhabited areas. The term natural has consequently been disputed because the events simply are not hazards or disasters without human involvement .
1 Natural hazards
2 International campaigns
Avalanche - An avalanche is a geophysical hazard involving a slide of a large snow (or rock) mass down a mountainside, caused when a buildup of snow is released down a slope, it is one of the major dangers faced in the mountains in winter. An avalanche is an example of a gravity current consisting of granular material. In an avalanche, lots of material or mixtures of different types of material fall or slide rapidly under the force of gravity. Avalanches are often classified by what they are made prolonged rainfall from a storm, including thunderstorms, rapid melting of large amounts of snow, or rivers which swell from excess precipitation upstream and cause widespread damage to areas downstream, or less frequently the bursting of man-made dams or levees. A river which floods particularly often is the Huang He in China, and a particularly damaging flood was the Great Flood of 1931.
Forest fire - A forest fire is a natural disaster consisting of a fire which destroys a forested area, and can be a great danger to people who live in forests as well as wildlife. Forest fires are generally started by lightning, but also by human negligence or arson, and can burn thousands of square kilometers. An example of a severe forest fire is the Oakland Hills firestorm.
Hailstorm - A hailstorm is a natural disaster where a thunderstorm produces numerous hailstones which damage the location in which they fall. Hailstorms can be especially devastating to farm fields, ruining crops and damaging equipment. A particularly damaging hailstorm hit Munich, Germany on August 31, 1986, felling thousands of trees and causing millions of dollars in insurance claims.
Heat wave - A heat wave is a disaster characterized by heat which is considered extreme and unusual in the area in which it occurs. Heat waves are rare and require specific combinations of weather events to take place, and may include temperature inversions, katabatic winds, or other phenomena. The worst heat wave in recent history was the European Heat Wave of 2003.
Hurricanes, Tropical cyclones, and Typhoons - Hurricane, tropical cyclone, and typhoon are different names for the same phenomenon: a cyclonic storm system that forms over the oceans. It is caused by evaporated water that comes off of the ocean and becomes a storm. The Coriolis Effect causes the storms to spin, and a hurricane is declared when this spinning mass of storms attains a wind speed greater than 74 mph. Hurricane is used for these phenomena in the Atlantic Ocean, tropical cyclone in the Indian, typhoon in the eastern Pacific. The deadliest hurricane ever was the 1970 Bhola cyclone; the deadliest Atlantic hurricane was the Great Hurricane of 1780, which devastated Martinique, St. Eustatius and Barbados. Another notable hurricane is Hurricane Katrina, which devastated the Gulf Coast of the United States in 2005.
Ice storm - An ice storm is a particular weather event in which precipitation falls as ice, due to atmosphere conditions
Lahar - A Lahar is a type of natural disaster closely related to a volcanic eruption, and involves a large amount of material, including mud, rock, and ash sliding down the side of the volcano at a rapid pace. These flows can destroy entire towns in seconds and kill thousands of people. The Tangiwai disaster is an excellent example, as is the one which killed an estimated 23,000 people in Armero, Colombia, during the 1985 eruption of Nevado del Ruiz.
Landslides and Mudslides - A landslide is a disaster closely related to an avalanche, but instead of occurring with snow, it occurs involving actual elements of the ground, including rocks, trees, parts of houses, and anything else which may happen to be swept up. Landslides can be caused by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, or general instability in the surrounding land. Mudslides, or mud flows, are a special case of landslides, in which heavy rainfall causes loose soil on steep terrain to collapse and slide downwards (see also Lahar); these occur with some regularity in parts of California after periods of heavy rain.
Sinkholes - A localized depression in the surface topography, usually caused by the collapse of a subterranean structure, such as a cave. Although rare, large sinkholes that develop suddenly in populated areas can lead to the collapse of buildings and other structures.
Tornado - A tornado is a natural disaster resulting from a thunderstorm. Tornadoes are violent, rotating columns of air which can blow at speeds between 50 and 300 mph, and possibly higher. Tornadoes can occur one at a time, or can occur in large tornado outbreaks along squall lines or in other large areas of thunderstorm development.
Tsunami - A tsunami is a giant wave of water which rolls into the shore of an area with a height of over 15 m (50 ft). It comes from Japanese words "??" meaning harbor and wave. Tsunami can be caused by undersea earthquakes as in the 2004 Indian Ocean Earthquake, or by landslides such as the one which occurred at Lituya Bay, Alaska. The tsunami generated by the 2004 Indian Ocean Earthquake currently ranks as the deadliest tsunami in recorded history. The highest Tsunami ever recorded was estimated to be 85m (278 ft.) high. It appeared on April 24th, 1771, off Ishigaki Island, Japan.
Ice age - An ice age is a geologic period, but could also be viewed in the light of a catastrophic natural disaster, since in an ice age, the climate all over the world would change and places which were once considered habitable would then be too cold to permanently inhabit. A side effect of an ice age could possibly be a famine, caused by a worldwide drought.
Impact event - An impact event is a natural disaster in which an extraterrestrial piece of rock or other material collides with the Earth. The exact consequences of a direct Earth impact would vary greatly with size of the colliding object, although in cases of medium to large impacts short-term climate change and a general failure of agriculture. An example would be the Tunguska event.
Solar flare - A solar flare is a phenomenon where the sun suddenly releases a great amount of solar radiation, much more than normal. It is theorized that these releases of radiation could cause a widespread failure of communications technology across the globe. The exact implications of such a failure are unknown. Further studies are being carried out.
Supervolcano - A supervolcano is an eruption which is thousands of times more massive than a normal eruption. If a volcano expels at least 1000 cubic kilometers of material, it is declared a supervolcano. The last eruption of this magnitude occurred over 75,000 years ago at Lake Toba. If such an eruption were to occur today, a wholesale general die-off of both animals and humans would occur, as well as a significant short-term climate change.
Megatsunami - Megatsunami is a term used by the popular media to describe very large tsunamis. They are a highly local effect, either occurring on shores extremely close to the origin of a tsunami, or in deep, narrow inlets. The largest waves are caused by a very large landslide, such as a collapsing island, into a body of water. They can potentially reach 20 km inland in low-lying regions.
In 2000, the United Nations launched the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR) to address the underlying causes of vulnerability and to build disaster-resilient communities by promoting increased awareness of the importance of disaster reduction as an integral component of sustainable development, with the goal of reducing human, social, economic and environmental losses due to hazards of all kinds (UN/ISDR, 2000).
For more information on Natural Disasters, please visit Wikipedia.