||The North Newark UFO Case:
Anatomy of a Journalistic Investigation
Earthquake Information Center
In looking for a natural
explanation for what happened, I first checked to make sure there had
been no earthquake that night. According to geophysicist Willis Jacobs
there was no seismic activity of any kind in the Newark area on March
5. This left only two possible prosaic explanations for the event:
either the incident was weather-related or it was due to a utility
company problem. I hoped to find a clue to one or the other from the
analysis of the materials found in the Gonzalez yard.
Matthew Moniz, an analytical
chemist in Massachusetts, examined the mysterious, lightweight,
golf-ball shaped object MUFON investigators had found in the yard and
two oak branches, one of which supposedly had been knocked off the tree
by the UFO, while the other was from an unaffected part of the tree.
"The 'golf ball' is a ground fungus," said Moniz, "what's commonly
known as a puffball." And the black material on the test branch?
"That's another fungus," he replied, "similar to other shell fungus
that you find growing on trees. Nothing unusual." But Moniz did
initially find a slightly elevated level of radiation for the test
branch, although later attempts to verify this proved inconclusive.
"It could have been contamination in the area that I was working in,"
notes Moniz. "Or the readings may have resulted from short-lived radio
nuclides that have half-lives of only days. This may account for the
absence of the readings in the following weeks. Short-lived radio
nuclides can come from only a few places: nuclear reactors, cyclotrons,
particle accelerators as well as some other natural sources such as
plasma events like lighting strikes."
One witness thought the flash of light was a lightning strike. Such a
strike could also explain the fallen branches, the shaking of his
house, and the electrical disturbances he reported. I asked Moniz if he
thought a lightning strike could explain the episode. "It very well
could have been," he replied." But they indicated that the weather was
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