Government Spending

The Feds Spent $22 Million Researching Invisibility Cloaks, UFOs, and a Tunnel Through the Moon

However wonderful it is to imagine a world in which these things are possible, the government shouldn’t be shelling out millions to entertain speculation.

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Documents acquired by Vice via a public records request have revealed details about a secretive government program that was researching highly speculative and often outlandish theories and technologies, including the development of invisibility cloaks and the feasibility of building a tunnel through the moon using nuclear explosions.

Those documents (which are available here) reveal insights into the research conducted by the Advanced Aerospace Weapons System Application Program (AAWSAP), a program that often overlapped with the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP). Both were funded by the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), a division of the Department of Defense (DOD). AAWSAP and AATIP research focused on the potential use of far-term technologies in defense and military settings. While AATIP "was the name of the overall program," AAWSAP "was the name of the contract that DIA awarded for the production of technical reports," according to a DIA spokesperson.

The AATIP made waves in 2020 for its study of UFO-related phenomena. (It formally disbanded in 2012, but multiple reports indicate that it has lived on in some form). Though the existence of the AAWSAP and the AATIP has been known for years, the newly-publicized details of their research are proving as outlandish as the UFO fodder of yore. "None of these technologies ever seem to have gotten remotely close to being a reality, as far as we know," says Vice. Rather, the aspects of this program that are now seeing the light of day are reports, assessments, and memos that reveal truly bizarre research carried out using government dollars, out of public view.

One document, entitled "Invisibility Cloaking: Theory and Experiments," explores "camouflage, transparency, and cloaking" and "honestly discusses technological challenges to making a practical invisibility cloak," per a DIA memo. The report's chosen illustrations of invisibility-related concepts include H.G. Wells' novel The Invisible Man, jellyfish, and Invisible Woman, a character in the Fantastic Four comic series. "Whether invisibility in the visible range of the spectrum will become a reality is not entirely clear yet," the document concludes.

Another report discusses negative mass propulsion and the possibility of harnessing wells of negative mass for space travel. "It just happens that the center of the moon is a potential well," reads the document summary. "Making a tunnel through the moon, provided there is a good supply of negative mass, could revolutionize interstellar space flight." There is a lengthy discussion of the processes "required to shatter the rocks to make a tunnel from the center of the moon…to its surface," suggesting "nuclear explosions."

The 2008 Defense Supplemental Appropriation Act included $10 million for the AATIP and the 2010 Defense Appropriations Act allotted $12 million, amounting to $22 million over five years. It is unclear how much of that money went toward researching UFOs and how much went toward invisibility cloaks, because how the money was used has been shrouded in secrecy.

One of the key figures advocating for that secrecy was former Sen. Harry Reid (D–Nev.), who was behind the research program's creation. Reid pushed for high levels of classification, writing that "the continued study of these subjects will likely lead to technology advancements that in the immediate near-term will require extraordinary protection." In a 2009 letter to then–Deputy Secretary of Defense William Lynn, Reid argued that the insights and innovations resulting from the research would "allow the U.S. to maintain its preeminence as a world leader."

As questions around research priorities have mounted, so have concerns surrounding financial transparency. Per Vice, "AATIP and AAWSAP weren't doing much of that research in-house." Rather, they relied on contract research carried out by Bigelow Aerospace Advanced Studies. Robert Bigelow, the owner of that company, was a friend of Reid's—Vice reports that Bigelow "lobbied for the creation of the AATIP program" and his organization was the sole bidder for the AAWSAP contract. Bigelow has also financed investigations of alien abduction claims and offered a $1 million prize for anyone who can provide evidence of life after death.

Steven Aftergood, former director of the Federation of American Scientists' Project on Government Secrecy, raised a red flag about the program in a 2020 Popular Mechanics interview. "The whole contracting process for this program was irregular from start to finish," he said. The AAWSAP contract "sounds like it was a good deal for the contractor. But it would be hard to argue that either the military or the public got their money's worth."

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  1. Fuck Joe Biden

    1. Don't worry; be happy!

      Here is the GOOD news: Scientific eggheads now say that... Make sure you're sitting down for this now... REALITY MIGHT BE REAL!!!!

      https://thenextweb.com/news/new-experiment-demonstrates-reality-might-actually-be-real
      New experiment demonstrates that reality might actually be real

      1. Not likely:

        https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/confirmed-we-live-in-a-simulation/

        All computing hardware leaves an artifact of its existence within the world of the simulation it is running. This artifact is the processor speed. If for a moment we imagine that we are a software program running on a computing machine, the only and inevitable artifact of the hardware supporting us, within our world, would be the processor speed....

        If we live in a simulation, then our universe should also have such an artifact. We can now begin to articulate some properties of this artifact that would help us in our search for such an artifact in our universe.

        The artifact is as an additional component of every operation that is unaffected by the magnitude of the variables being operated upon and is irrelevant within the simulated reality until a maximum variable size is observed.

        The artifact presents itself in the simulated world as an upper limit.

        The artifact cannot be explained by underlying mechanistic laws of the simulated universe. It has to be accepted as an assumption or “given” within the operating laws of the simulated universe.

        The effect of the artifact or the anomaly is absolute. No exceptions.

        Now that we have some defining features of the artifact, of course it becomes clear what the artifact manifests itself as within our universe. The artifact is manifested as the speed of light.

        Published on April 1st, but the logic is actually pretty unassailable.

        1. No, the argument is actually circular if you think about it. Why does any processor have a limiting speed?

          Because of the speed of light...

    2. Fuck Joe Biden

  2. Do they stare at goats?

    1. Ass long ass they provide a "safe space" for goats who feel offended by being harassed in this manner, maybe the "safe space" gangs would mess less with the humans! ("Displaced stupidity" theory here; a finite amount of stupid to go around.) So this could be a GOOD thing!

    2. If you see the goats, be prepared for when the goats see you.

      1. Goat staring is a capital offense under the Articles of War,

  3. I am bizarrely proud the government had a plan to blow up the moon.

    1. Maybe they will fund my plan to take all the nuclear missiles and shoot them at the moon so that is spells out "FUCK YOU" in giant flaming letters.

      1. How 'bout FUCK YOU THAT'S WHY? There's plenty of room.

        1. Fuck Joe Biden?

    2. Yeah, they finally spend a little money on something interesting and inspiring, and Reason has to bitch about it.

      1. Perfectly reasonable to research invisibility cloaks, people are making good progress in that area, and it's entirely feasible as long as you limit yourself to a relatively small portion of the EM spectrum.

      2. I am surprised no one has thought of this- I am not writing this is what happened, but logically seems sound to me. Let's say we spent 22 million and from the start, it was all fake. We knew none of this would work but- what if the Soviet Union diverted hundreds of millions to try and replicate our fake research? Then it would be 22 million well spent, wouldn't it?
        There is a smoking gun. Many colleges had ESP "experts" who were funded by the government up until the fall of the Soviet Union. Guess what happened? The government pulled the funding. Interesting, isn't it? There is also a magician who liked to bend spoons who was filmed doing his tricks and the government agents interviewing told him he really did it. One wonders what the Soviets thought when they saw the film.
        How much they would waste trying to replicate it.
        Be seeing you.

    3. All they need is a space modulator.

      1. Apparently the Q36 model is no longer in production. Apparently they use percussion ignition rather than rabbit vulnerable fuses.

      2. Why is Marvin always forgotten during Black History Month?

        1. He’s a total Oreo.

  4. But remember, the threat to Democracy is LibsofTikTok!

    1. Don’t worry, the German government is on it.

  5. FYI, "invisibility cloak" could be just generally "stealth technology".

    Also, "Invisibility cloak" that will make you actually go, "Hmm..."

    If you're interested in googling this, look up "lenticular lens camouflage".

    1. Yeah, I think that's still actively researched by the military and has had actual successes over the years.

      The real meat is in the final two paragraphs calling for more funding transparency. Though, eh, I don't know. 22 million dollars is so incredibly little in the budget, and I have a hard time getting too upset over money being put into R&D.

      1. 22 million dollars is barely enough to bribe a President's son more than a few times.

    2. Aren't all lenses lenticular?

      1. What are you? Some kind of Lensman?

        1. Can you just stay focused on the subject at hand for once?

      2. You'd think so, but, no. Some are fresnel or meta.

    3. It was just a cloak for Invisibility Dagger research.

    4. I have to agree. Active camouflage is a technology with fairly clear and extremely advantageous military applications. Even if it is only effective on armored land or sea vehicles at long distances, greatly reducing visibility would be a great help in certain circumstances.

      At the very least, it would be worth looking into. Even if the result is that the only way it could work is large flat surfaces that make it stand out on radar and glow white hot in infrared, making them trivial targets.

  6. "Making a tunnel through the moon, provided there is a good supply of negative mass, could revolutionize interstellar space flight."

    As long as the cost of the tunnel covered by tolls.

    1. And make sure to hire the cartels to dig it and not the bostonians

    2. That first driver is really gonna get it.

    3. I have a physics degree..what the hell is negative "Mass"? Never heard of it.

      1. anti-matter?

        1. Nope, anti-matter has positive mass.

          Negative mass is the hypothetical stuff that you get if you take empty space and remove some mass from it.

          Honestly, I don't think that just because you can put a minus sign in front of "M" and do math means that -M is a real thing.

      2. I've heard negative energy and mass being discussed in some cosmology books. If you have something with low enough energy and matter and yet extremely large outward pressure, you effectively have negative energy (and negative energy is the same as negative mass). It was used in the discussion of how sufficient negative mass might be able to keep a wormhole stable.

        No idea how this relates to drilling a hole through the moon, but it at least does have some real terms in the technobabble

        1. Hey, Cixin Liu has stories in which they dig tunnels through the Earth! (Curved because of the Earth's rotation so they don't intersect the liquid core.)

          1. That's actually a legit proposal for mass transit. Goes back a long ways.

  7. the government shouldn’t be shelling out millions to entertain speculation.

    There we go. That's much better

    1. the government shouldn’t be shelling out trillions.

      even better

  8. "Making a tunnel through the moon, provided there is a good supply of negative mass, could revolutionize interstellar space flight."

    OR

    "Making a Tardis on the moon, provided there is a good supply of unicorn farts, could revolutionize interstellar space flight."

  9. "The Feds Spent $22 Million Researching Invisibility Cloaks, UFOs, and a Tunnel Through the Moon."

    This sounds like ideas for a Monty Python sketch.

    1. You must be a man of science!

  10. Where's that guy who always posted puns to articles like this? Is he quarantining because of the pun-demic? Miss ya old chum. Be good.

  11. I hope everyone caught that this was a Defense Department Program. Next time your Congress person tells you that defense spending is critical to the country's safety, just remember the moon tunnel.

    1. Sorry buddy - but we need a moon tunnel. We can't let the Russians create a moon tunnel first! Slava Ukraine or something.

      1. We must close the moon tunnel gap!

    2. Do you want to have to drive all the way around the moon when our lunar base is attacked?

  12. Spend more than that on immigration handouts.

    1. Yes, but in one case we are helping people, educating children and in the other we are adding to some defense contractor's bottom line. There is a difference and I hope you understand that difference.

  13. I would just point out that this was less of a waste of money than any random set of line items equaling 22 million for CA's HSR.

    Like, if anything had come of the invisibility cloak, that would be *useful*. Unlike HSR in CA.

  14. They're keeping the tigers away, aren't they?

    Now get back in your hole, peasant.

  15. Well to be honest it was a better investment than the entire Department of Education, HHS, HUD (Hastening Urban Decline), Iraq war 2 and 3, Afghanistan, and pretty much most of the Federal Govt. I'd rather spend 1B on UFOs than 1 Trillion on useless wars to enrich Ratheon, Goldman Sachs and certain middle eastern countries.

  16. Planet News Day
    US News Updates
    Sorry buddy - but we need a moon tunnel. We can't let the Russians create a moon tunnel first! Slava Ukraine or something.

  17. sports Updates
    uk news Updates
    I would just point out that this was less of a waste of money than any random set of line items equaling 22 million for CA's HSR.

  18. USA News Updates
    Where's that guy who always posted puns to articles like this? Is he quarantining because of the pun-demic? Miss ya old chum. Be good.

  19. Democrats. Always happy to give your money to their friends.

  20. This is just dimwitted enough to be real. It's also possible they were buying $10k toilet seats for the CIA again.

  21. Most government waste is boring and depressing. At least this is kind of entertaining.

  22. Previous programs like this brought us things like jet aircraft, aircraft carriers, tanks, ballistic missile submarines, ballistic missiles. I can go on and on. You never know when one of these programs could be the next breakthrough. I'd rather see them spend money on this, than some of the other things they spend money on. As I recall the military just had an investigation into "white supremacy" in the military. They didn't find anything. Who wants to bet that investigation's costs would fund this program for several years?

    1. Well said.

    2. Like the guy once said, that government is best which kills the most!

  23. Finally, something that might pay off.
    Acquiring advanced alien technology would be a true game changer.
    And you don't want to be the last one without an invisibility cloak.

  24. If the Romulans can make a cloaking device, we can, too!

  25. Just some good sci fi fun, that's all.

    $22 Million is a blink of the eye to this government, rising from 30.3 TRILLION in debt. https://usdebtclock.org/

  26. Had Reason magazine existed in the 1930s and 40s, I'm sure they would have derided research on radar (see stuff at night--No way!), atom bombs, sonar, and...

    If we assume that the U.S. Military ought not wait for the Chinese to develop its technology, then the military is going to have experiment with ideas and theories that have never been tested before. When done correctly, science will often show that a novel theory is either wrong or needs some adjustment, and that some ideas are just not practical.

    But, I'm sure that Reason's Brain Trust thinks it would be best for the military to contract its research work to think tanks in Russia or laboratories in China.

  27. Yeah, invisibility cloaks are nonsense. Oh, wait....

    Hyperstealth Biotechnology Quantum Stealth
    Broadband invisibility
    Electromagnetic cloaking
    Synthetic skin
    Spectral cloaking
    Carpet cloak
    Rochester cloak
    Invisible active camouflage
    Toyota cloaking
    Brookhaven invisible glass
    Metamaterials

  28. I am surprised no one has thought of this- I am not writing this is what happened, but logically seems sound to me. Let's say we spent 22 million and from the start, it was all fake. We knew none of this would work but- what if the Soviet Union diverted hundreds of millions to try and replicate our fake research? Then it would be 22 million well spent, wouldn't it?
    There is a smoking gun. Many colleges had ESP "experts" who were funded by the government up until the fall of the Soviet Union. Guess what happened? The government pulled the funding. Interesting, isn't it? There is also a magician who liked to bend spoons who was filmed doing his tricks and the government agents interviewing told him he really did it. One wonders what the Soviets thought when they saw the film.
    How much they would waste trying to replicate it.
    Be seeing you.

  29. I remember when I was a a wee lad, the news reported the Navy spent $2 million studying Frisbees.
    The FBI spent $1 million attempting to decipher the words to the song Louie Louie.
    Meanwhile the American people are attempting to decipher the words from little miss Ginger in the White House.

  30. No doubt "friends of the party" got paid and then turned around and "contributed" to their friends in Congress.

  31. "the government shouldn’t be shelling out millions to entertain speculation."

    This $22M isn't remotely close to the most egregious wastes of taxpayer money, and private concerns have spent more than that on UFO research alone. Not only is this reported amount very likely not the actual amount, technology that is developed is not immediately publicized and rather trickled through industry over time.

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