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17
Dec

The best Macbook alternatives you can buy


The MacBook is the world’s most famous notebook for a reason. While not updated as frequently as some competitors, the Mac’s excellent design and build quality makes every system feel timeless. It’s common to call a new computer an “investment,” and with a MacBook Pro or 12-inch MacBook, that feels true.

But Apple isn’t a charity, and it charges a lot for the privilege of owning a notebook with its logo. Many who’d like to own a Mac simply can’t afford it. Fortunately, there are Windows and Chromebook alternatives that are nearly as well built, and they sell for hundreds less.

Here they are — the best MacBook alternatives you can buy.

Best MacBook Pro 13 alternative

Dell XPS 13 ($800)

Dell XPS 13 (2016)

The newest MacBook Pros aren’t exactly widely beloved. Thanks to the move to offering only four USB-C ports and that controversial Touch Bar, people came away unsure of where to put their money. The right choice for most people will be the 13-inch MacBook Pro without Touch Bar, which starts at $1,300.

There are a number of PC laptops that are good alternatives such as the HP Spectre 13 and the Lenovo Yoga 920. Our favorite, however, is the Dell XPS 13. It’s every bit as beautiful as the MacBook Pro, all while offering great CPU performance and a lot more port options.

The least expensive version of the XPS 13 might actually be considered a MacBook Air alternative. It’s only $800 and boasts a Core i3 processor paired with 4GB of RAM and a 128GB hard drive. If you were thinking about the MacBook Pro, though, we recommend the $1,000 model, which has a Core i5 processor and 8GB of RAM. The 128GB hard drive remains the same. The 1080p display isn’t quite as nice as the MacBook Pro’s, but when you bump it up to the Core i7 configuration for $1,300, the performance boost alone makes it worthy as an alternative.

Buy it now from:

Amazon

Best MacBook Pro 15 alternative

Dell XPS 15 ($1,000)

Yes, that’s right. Another Dell. The negative buzz from its unfortunate “Dude, you’re getting a Dell!” era still lingers, and that’s a shame, because the company builds the best PC notebooks available today.

The XPS 15 is essentially an XPS 13 on steroids. It has the same “Infinity Edge” display, but in a larger size, and with more powerful hardware. While a $1,000 configuration is available with a Core i3 processor, we recommend at least the $1,200 model. That nets a Core i5 quad-core processor, 8GB of memory, a 1080p display, a hybrid hard drive with 1TB of storage, and GTX 960M graphics. Aside from display resolution, this version of the XPS 15 makes few concessions to Apple’s 15-inch Pro. You can even upgrade it to a 4K display, though doing so will set you back $500 bucks.

There’s also a top-shelf, $1,700 model that’s worth attention. It boosts the hardware to a Core i7 with 16G of RAM and a 512GB solid state drive, and it also ups battery capacity to 84 watt-hours. Dell says that model can hit 17 hours of battery life in optimal conditions. Even this version is $300 less than Apple’s most affordable MacBook Pro 15, which doesn’t have a discrete graphics chip.

All models of the XPS 15, like its little brother, are notable because of their size. While it has a 15-inch display, it weighs as little as 3.9 pounds, a half-pound less than the MacBook Pro 15. That means Dell’s system is actually more portable than Apple’s more expensive alternative.

Buy it now from:

Dell

Best 12-inch MacBook alternative

Google Pixelbook ($1,000)

The Pixelbook is not a perfect laptop, but to be fair, neither is the 12-inch MacBook. However, the kind of person who’d be interested in the MacBook — someone who wants thin, classy, head-turning design — would also be interested in the Pixelbook.

Neither laptop has the best CPU, but you shouldn’t be picking up either of these laptops for their gaming and video-editing prowess. They are fantastic laptops at handling the daily tasks that the average person does, whether that’s streaming Netflix or working with 10-15 browser tabs open. The Pixelbook starts at $1,000, while the 12-inch MacBook starts at $1,300. On top of that, the Pixelbook is a 2-in-1, meaning you can flip around use it as a tablet in bed or on the go.

Buy it now from:

Amazon

Best MacBook Air alternative

Asus Zenbook UX330UA ($750)

Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

This one is a two-fer. It’s not because the 12-inch MacBook and MacBook Air are all that similar, but instead because the Asus Zenbook UX330UA is both a great notebook and an affordable one.

For $750, you get a powerful, long-lasting laptop with a great keyboard and display. The UX330UA avoids the pitfalls of many “budget” laptops by not compromising in any significant area. It’s got over 11 hours of battery life, and now comes packed with the newest 8th-gen. Intel i5 processor. In terms of processing power, you’ll be delighted by the comparison to what you get in the old MacBook Air or low-powered 12-inch MacBook. The cherry on top is how tiny this laptop is, coming in at thinner than even the MacBook.

Buy it now from:

Amazon

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17
Dec

360-degree videos to help get you ready for the holidays!


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Replace your world with something a little more Christmas-y.

Some people hit the day after Thanksgiving and immediately flip into Christmas Mode, and some feel that excitement at friends and family opening their gifts a little closer to the holiday. It’s a great feeling when it comes naturally, but a handful of folks out there need something to kick start that Christmas spirit with a specific event. Sometimes it’s that first glass of egg nog, or seeing family you haven’t seen in a while.

Other times it can be seeing your favorite holiday movie, and with VR and 360-degree videos filling the world there are some great new short experiences for you to dive into. Here’s a look at some of our favorites, guaranteed to get you ready for the holiday!

Read more at VRHeads

17
Dec

Toss Anker’s tiny Soundcore nano Bluetooth speaker into someone’s stocking for $16


All I want for Christmas is good music.

Anker’s super-small SoundCore nano is down to just $15.99 at Amazon in Gray or Silver when you enter promo code XMASANK8 at checkout to save $7 off its average price. This is also its lowest price ever.

This tiny Bluetooth speaker is so small, it can fit easily into a pocket, handbag, or Christmas stocking, making it a versatile option to use at home or on-the-go. While so compact, it still pumps out great sound with its 3W audio driver. Its battery can last for four hours of playtime.

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You’ll receive an 18-month warranty on this purchase. This speaker has 4.6 out of 5 stars on Amazon with over 500 reviews.

The full-sized SoundCore is also currently on sale for just $23.95.

See at Amazon

17
Dec

Deal: Pixel 2 and 2 XL now $50-$75 off at Google Store


Get Google’s latest for as little as $599.

Your available time for online holiday shopping is quickly coming to a close, but in a last attempt to help you get some savings on the perfect gift, Google is now discounting its Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL. This deal is available exclusively on the Google Store, and it takes $50 off the smaller Pixel 2 and $75 off its XL sibling.

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This discount is available no matter which color or storage configuration you decide to pick up, and it results in the following end prices:

  • Pixel 2 w/ 64GB storage – $599
  • Pixel 2 w/ 128GB storage – $699
  • Pixel 2 XL w/ 64GB storage – $774
  • Pixel 2 XL w/ 128GB storage – $874

In addition to these discounts, you can still trade-in your current phone with the Google Store’s trade-in program to get up to $435 back on your purchase, as well as a free Google Home Mini when buying a Pixel 2 or 2 XL.

These deals are available through December 31, but to make sure everything arrives in time for the holidays, we’d recommend placing an order soon.

See at Google Store

17
Dec

Ben Heck’s super glue gun: Designing a better enclosure


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Karen and Ben break out the pencils and go back to the drawing board to redesign their super glue gun. After changing the auto stand in response to feedback from the element14 Community, the team is looking at how best to fit together the extruder and electronics. They also need to decide on the best plastic to use for the casing. After buying a few off-the-shelf glue guns for inspiration, Ben loads up Autodesk Fusion 360 and starts designing a 3D model to print. Is the team headed in the right direction? Let them know over on the element14 Community.

17
Dec

Awesome tech you can’t buy yet: Tiny phones, trippy LED masks, and more


At any given moment, there are approximately a zillion different crowdfunding campaigns happening on the web. Take a stroll through Kickstarter or Indiegogo and you’ll find no shortage of weird, useless, and downright stupid projects out there — alongside some real gems. We’ve cut through the fidget spinners and janky iPhone cases to round up the most unusual, ambitious, and exciting new crowdfunding projects out there this week. That said, keep in mind that any crowdfunding project — even the best intentioned — can fail, so do your homework before cutting a check for the gadget of your dreams.

Radius — wide field mosquito repeller

If there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that mosquitos suck — in more ways than one. They spread disease, leave you with itchy bumps on your skin, and always show up uninvited to every outdoor gathering you attend. To make matters worse, there’s not much recourse.

You can light all the citronella candles and geraniol tiki torches you want, but those needle-nosed bloodsuckers will still find a way to bite you — usually in a place that’s hard to reach. The only real way to get them to buzz off is to douse yourself in DEET, and pray that you remember to wash your hands before you eat any hors d’oeuvres.

But what if there was a better way to keep mosquitos at bay? That’s exactly what Thermacell aims to do with it’s newest gizmo, Radius. It’s touted as the “world’s first rechargeable, EPA-approved, zone mosquito repellent.”

According to the creators, “Radius works differently than sticky sprays and lotions. Radius uses heat to activate a clean, scent-free repellent. Once activated, the repellent spreads out to create an invisible zone of protection. So instead of treating your skin and clothing with chemical repellents, Radius targets the mosquitoes themselves with a tiny amount of airborne repellent. You simply turn it on, and within minutes, the mosquitoes are gone.”

OneManBand — realtime digital backup band

Do you play guitar, but wish you had a backup band to accompany you? In the past, you only had two ways to solve this problem: either find other musicians to play with, or invest in a loop pedal setup and play your own backup. But now, there’s a third option: the OneManBand. It’s essentially a high-tech upgrade kit for your guitar.

Once installed, the system can read what you’re playing, adapt to it, and generate accompanying backup in real time. In other words, you just start playing, and OneManBand’s magical AI will start jamming with you.

So how does it work? According to the device’s creators: “OMB’s patented guitar uses unique hardware and software to enable guitar players of all styles and levels to skyrocket their playing experience with real-time backup music, instrument-swap mode, and a mindblowing guitar-to-MIDI mode. The unique technology utilizes capacitive and inductive tech to detect signals from the strings and convert them to digital data without any latency. By knowing what you’re playing, the app can convert that to MIDI in real-time and enrich your sound in a bunch of different ways. The guitar feels and plays just like normal; start playing and you’ll be amazed.”

Zanco Tiny T1 — world’s smallest cellphone

Remember the first Zoolander movie — aka the one that didn’t suck? In the film (which was released in 2001, a time when cell phones were shrinking rapidly), one of the running gags were the tiny cellphones that Derrick Zoolander and Hansel used to answered calls. They were outrageously small, and acted as a sort of trendy status symbol. The smaller the phone, the cooler the owner.

Anywho – if you saw those phones and thought to yourself “Damn, I really want a ridiculously tiny cell phone,” then we have good news for you. 16 years after Zoolander, somebody has finally created a phone that’s just as small as Derrick’s — and you can get it on Kickstarter.

The Zanco Tiny T1, as its called, is allegedly the world’s smallest mobile phone. According to the Kickstarter page, it’s “smaller than your thumb, lighter than a coin, and is ridiculously cute.” We can hardly argue with that last point.

As for specs, the company doesn’t list too much, but it does state that the Tiny T1 “will work with any mobile phone network. You can change the nano-SIM at any time if you want to change your network too. The tiny phone operates on the 2G network. The battery has 3 days standby and 180 minutes talk time.”

Morphcooker — electric camp stove

We covered this gizmo earlier in the week, so I’ll just let DT’s outdoor reporter Kraig Becker give you the rundown:

“Camping stoves come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, ranging from compact and lightweight, to large enough to feed an army of hungry backpackers. But few can offer the level of versatility of the Morphcooker, a new backcountry stove that recently launched on Kickstarter and promises to be a revolution in the way we prepare our meals in the outdoors.

The idea behind the Morphcooker came three years ago, when designer Lawrence Bass went in search of a safer way to cook at the campsite. His quest began after his father was injured in a fire that started when a faulty gas stove caught his tent on fire. It took 19 different prototypes for Bass to finally hit on a design that met his requirements of not only providing a safe way for backpackers to prepare their meals, but was also environmentally friendly and extremely adaptable too.

His final design comes in two different versions — the Morphcooker Solo and Morphcooker Family. At the heart of both models is an 8-inch silicone plate that serves as the hot plate, frying pan, and heating element for the pot and stove. The silicone is riding and firm, contains the heating element, and is powered by a rechargeable lithium battery. It also comes with a magnetic handle that can be swapped out with any of the various components.”

Sound Reactive LED Mask — light-up face mask

This one is pretty straightforward. It’s just a thin, flexible LED mask that has a number of nifty features, the most significant of which is its ability to “hear” incoming noises (presumably, loud electronic music) and automatically adjust the color, brightness, and strobe pattern of the LEDs to match.

Better yet, these masks are available in a variety of different styles, including a human face, a big cat (like a panther), a fox, and an ape. There’s really not much else to say, so we’ll let the creators from Outline Montreal tell you more.

“9000 years ago, the first mask was created,” the creators proclaim on Kickstarter. “Used to either disguise or reveal a personality trait, masks are present in every culture throughout History. The Sound Reactive LED Mask takes a step forward. It integrates art and technology into a very versatile device that mesmerizes anyone who sees it. The LED Mask transcribes any sort of music and any type of rhythm into amazing Illuminations. Our masks are easily wearable, foldable and adjustable. As a costume or music accessory for any occasion, they are the perfect companion.”

Editors’ Recommendations

  • Awesome tech you can’t buy yet: Folding helmets and emojis for your car
  • Radius is a smart device that acts like a force field for mosquitoes
  • Getting the ghouls together? Checkout our epic Halloween Spotify playlist
  • The 50 best albums of 2017
  • Best new songs to stream: Porches, Alvvays, Feist, Grizzly Bear, and Goon




17
Dec

Awesome tech you can’t buy yet: Tiny phones, trippy LED masks, and more


At any given moment, there are approximately a zillion different crowdfunding campaigns happening on the web. Take a stroll through Kickstarter or Indiegogo and you’ll find no shortage of weird, useless, and downright stupid projects out there — alongside some real gems. We’ve cut through the fidget spinners and janky iPhone cases to round up the most unusual, ambitious, and exciting new crowdfunding projects out there this week. That said, keep in mind that any crowdfunding project — even the best intentioned — can fail, so do your homework before cutting a check for the gadget of your dreams.

Radius — wide field mosquito repeller

If there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that mosquitos suck — in more ways than one. They spread disease, leave you with itchy bumps on your skin, and always show up uninvited to every outdoor gathering you attend. To make matters worse, there’s not much recourse.

You can light all the citronella candles and geraniol tiki torches you want, but those needle-nosed bloodsuckers will still find a way to bite you — usually in a place that’s hard to reach. The only real way to get them to buzz off is to douse yourself in DEET, and pray that you remember to wash your hands before you eat any hors d’oeuvres.

But what if there was a better way to keep mosquitos at bay? That’s exactly what Thermacell aims to do with it’s newest gizmo, Radius. It’s touted as the “world’s first rechargeable, EPA-approved, zone mosquito repellent.”

According to the creators, “Radius works differently than sticky sprays and lotions. Radius uses heat to activate a clean, scent-free repellent. Once activated, the repellent spreads out to create an invisible zone of protection. So instead of treating your skin and clothing with chemical repellents, Radius targets the mosquitoes themselves with a tiny amount of airborne repellent. You simply turn it on, and within minutes, the mosquitoes are gone.”

OneManBand — realtime digital backup band

Do you play guitar, but wish you had a backup band to accompany you? In the past, you only had two ways to solve this problem: either find other musicians to play with, or invest in a loop pedal setup and play your own backup. But now, there’s a third option: the OneManBand. It’s essentially a high-tech upgrade kit for your guitar.

Once installed, the system can read what you’re playing, adapt to it, and generate accompanying backup in real time. In other words, you just start playing, and OneManBand’s magical AI will start jamming with you.

So how does it work? According to the device’s creators: “OMB’s patented guitar uses unique hardware and software to enable guitar players of all styles and levels to skyrocket their playing experience with real-time backup music, instrument-swap mode, and a mindblowing guitar-to-MIDI mode. The unique technology utilizes capacitive and inductive tech to detect signals from the strings and convert them to digital data without any latency. By knowing what you’re playing, the app can convert that to MIDI in real-time and enrich your sound in a bunch of different ways. The guitar feels and plays just like normal; start playing and you’ll be amazed.”

Zanco Tiny T1 — world’s smallest cellphone

Remember the first Zoolander movie — aka the one that didn’t suck? In the film (which was released in 2001, a time when cell phones were shrinking rapidly), one of the running gags were the tiny cellphones that Derrick Zoolander and Hansel used to answered calls. They were outrageously small, and acted as a sort of trendy status symbol. The smaller the phone, the cooler the owner.

Anywho – if you saw those phones and thought to yourself “Damn, I really want a ridiculously tiny cell phone,” then we have good news for you. 16 years after Zoolander, somebody has finally created a phone that’s just as small as Derrick’s — and you can get it on Kickstarter.

The Zanco Tiny T1, as its called, is allegedly the world’s smallest mobile phone. According to the Kickstarter page, it’s “smaller than your thumb, lighter than a coin, and is ridiculously cute.” We can hardly argue with that last point.

As for specs, the company doesn’t list too much, but it does state that the Tiny T1 “will work with any mobile phone network. You can change the nano-SIM at any time if you want to change your network too. The tiny phone operates on the 2G network. The battery has 3 days standby and 180 minutes talk time.”

Morphcooker — electric camp stove

We covered this gizmo earlier in the week, so I’ll just let DT’s outdoor reporter Kraig Becker give you the rundown:

“Camping stoves come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, ranging from compact and lightweight, to large enough to feed an army of hungry backpackers. But few can offer the level of versatility of the Morphcooker, a new backcountry stove that recently launched on Kickstarter and promises to be a revolution in the way we prepare our meals in the outdoors.

The idea behind the Morphcooker came three years ago, when designer Lawrence Bass went in search of a safer way to cook at the campsite. His quest began after his father was injured in a fire that started when a faulty gas stove caught his tent on fire. It took 19 different prototypes for Bass to finally hit on a design that met his requirements of not only providing a safe way for backpackers to prepare their meals, but was also environmentally friendly and extremely adaptable too.

His final design comes in two different versions — the Morphcooker Solo and Morphcooker Family. At the heart of both models is an 8-inch silicone plate that serves as the hot plate, frying pan, and heating element for the pot and stove. The silicone is riding and firm, contains the heating element, and is powered by a rechargeable lithium battery. It also comes with a magnetic handle that can be swapped out with any of the various components.”

Sound Reactive LED Mask — light-up face mask

This one is pretty straightforward. It’s just a thin, flexible LED mask that has a number of nifty features, the most significant of which is its ability to “hear” incoming noises (presumably, loud electronic music) and automatically adjust the color, brightness, and strobe pattern of the LEDs to match.

Better yet, these masks are available in a variety of different styles, including a human face, a big cat (like a panther), a fox, and an ape. There’s really not much else to say, so we’ll let the creators from Outline Montreal tell you more.

“9000 years ago, the first mask was created,” the creators proclaim on Kickstarter. “Used to either disguise or reveal a personality trait, masks are present in every culture throughout History. The Sound Reactive LED Mask takes a step forward. It integrates art and technology into a very versatile device that mesmerizes anyone who sees it. The LED Mask transcribes any sort of music and any type of rhythm into amazing Illuminations. Our masks are easily wearable, foldable and adjustable. As a costume or music accessory for any occasion, they are the perfect companion.”

Editors’ Recommendations

  • Awesome tech you can’t buy yet: Folding helmets and emojis for your car
  • Radius is a smart device that acts like a force field for mosquitoes
  • Getting the ghouls together? Checkout our epic Halloween Spotify playlist
  • The 50 best albums of 2017
  • Best new songs to stream: Porches, Alvvays, Feist, Grizzly Bear, and Goon




17
Dec

Smart display button puts GIFs on your shirt


The odds are that you’ve shown your support for a cause with a button on your shirt or backpack at some point in your life. But there’s only so much button real estate you can offer, isn’t there? That’s where BEAM Authentic thinks it can save the day. Its BEAM button pairs to your phone through an app and lets you display virtually any image you want on its circular AMOLED screen, including slideshows and GIFs. You could promote an environmental cause one hour and a dank meme the next.

Also, you’re not just limited to your own creations. You can find buttons art from others’ collections, follow creators you like, receive streams and send conversations. And yes, there are paid buttons — you can donate to a cause at the same time as you endorse it. The button might even get you out of trouble, as you there’s a panic mode that will send an emergency message and your location to as many as four other people.

The BEAM button is available now, but there’s a catch: it’s $99. That can buy a lot of conventional buttons, and those won’t run out of energy. You’ll contribute $3 to a charity when you buy, though, and this is certainly a viable option if you’d rather draw your own artwork than track down an elusive button that expresses your exact thoughts.

Via: Android Police

Source: Beam

17
Dec

Pentagon funded UFO identification program for 5 years


Recent UFO research isn’t just the work of the X-Files or former pop punk stars. The New York Times has learned that the US Department of Defense quietly funded a program (Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification) designed to explain UFO reports. The program was initially funded in 2007 at the behest of Senator Harry Reid, and sent most of its money ($22 million per year) went to an aerospace firm run by his friend Robert Bigelow, who’s “absolutely convinced” UFOs have visited Earth and has been making inflatable habitats for NASA. The money stopped flowing in 2012, but the program is technically active to this day.

Many details of the program remain under wraps. However, it frequently included videos of encounters between American military aircraft and mysterious objects that defied explanation, such as ‘aircraft’ that flew at high speed or hovered with no apparent source of propulsion. Also, it wasn’t a source of shame for the politicians that supported it. Reid said it’s “one of the good things” he did before he retired, while the late senators Daniel Inouye and Ted Stevens also backed the program.

It’s not known what conclusions the program has reached. With that said, this doesn’t mean that officials were expecting to find aliens. Reid said in 2009 that there had been “highly sensitive, unconventional” discoveries, and one briefing the same year claimed the US couldn’t defend itself against what it had seen. However, that may have just meant that what was found couldn’t be readily explained by natural phenomena or other known aircraft, and was curious enough to warrant a deeper look. Former program lead Luis Elizondo would only say that the sightings didn’t clearly originate from specific countries.

The program probably isn’t going to see a renaissance. UFO research understandably has plenty of skeptics who see it as misguided and a waste of money. However, that it has been happening in a significant capacity this century is still notable in itself.

Source: New York Times

17
Dec

Is the Pentagon’s shadowy secret UFO research program still going on?


If the truth is out there, the Department of Defense may still be determined to find it.

Stories published in the New York Times and Politico almost at the same time both detail a secret Pentagon program that went on for years, spending tens of millions of dollars to investigate “unidentified aerial phenomena,” also known as UFOs. Called the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, it spent five years investigating reports from pilots and other military personnel about unexplained objects in the sky — and it may still be going on.

The program apparently began in 2007, and many parts of it are still classified. Most of the research was undertaken by an aerospace company run by billionaire Robert Bigelow, who’s expressed his belief in extraterrestrial life many times.

“I’m absolutely convinced. That’s all there is to it,” he said in an interview with CBS News. “There has been and is an existing presence, an ET presence [on Earth]. And I spent millions and millions and millions — I probably spent more as an individual than anybody else in the United States has ever spent on this subject.”

The program has described objects that move at high speeds or hover in place without any visible propulsion. One 2004 DoD video obtained by the Times shows cockpit footage from a Navy F-18 Hornet chasing an object the size of a commercial airliner. “Look at that thing!” one pilot exclaimed to the other during the incident.

According to the Times, the program was run by a military official named Luis Elizondo deep in the bowels of the Pentagon. Although defense officials claim the program was ended in 2012, it has recently received scrutiny due to Elizondo’s recent resignation. He maintained that, despite the lack of official government funding, the program has continued with officials from the CIA and the Navy. Elizondo also claimed that he quit in protest because the program had not been taken seriously.

“We tried to work within the system,” Elizondo said to Politico. “We were trying to take the voodoo out of voodoo science.”

From 1947 to 1969, the Air Force operated Project Blue Book, a program designed to investigate sightings of unexplained aerial phenomena. The conclusion was that there had been no evidence that any of the sightings were extraterrestrial vehicles.

After departing the Pentagon, Elizondo has joined up with Tom DeLonge (formerly of Blink-182) and his To the Stars venture, which posted the video obtained by the Times on YouTube. Speaking to the Times, he said his research over the years had proven that the mysterious objects had not come from Earth. “That fact is not something any government or institution should classify in order to keep secret from the people,” he said.

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