Bob White’s Great UFO Artifact Mystery—Solved!

Bob White’s Great UFO Artifact Mystery—Solved! 1

The late Bob White’s mysterious object (see photo above) is touted on the internet as hard evidence for the existence of UFOs: “This isn’t the smoking gun—this is the bullet!!!!” And it has been included on or near the top of UFO “best evidence”. In 1985, according to White’s sworn deposition, he was napping as he and a companion drove west through the desolate country between Grand Junction, CO and the Utah border. After 2 or 3 in the morning White’s friend woke him for a second time—the odd light they’d noticed before in the sky seemed to be getting bigger. White recalled:

[The light] was about the size of a full harvest moon… As we got closer, it grew larger… When we were a few hundred yards from it, I turned off the ignition and we coasted up close to it… It was huge, the size of a very big barn. I got out of the car…for a better look. For some unknown reason, Jan turned on the headlights, and this light went up in the sky as fast as my eyes could follow it… Then I saw another small light, bright orange with a tinge of yellow, white, and blue falling from it… I climbed the incline and went over to where I thought it might have hit. I found a groove in the ground about 18 inches deep and 9 inches wide. I followed the groove and there it lay… it was still glowing.

White stashed the object in his trunk, and fearing that the story would harm his entertainment career, said nothing about it until after he retired.

From 1996 to his death in 2009, the now retired Bob White devoted himself to promoting his artifact as a piece of hard evidence for the existence of extraterrestrial engineering. His quest was not without its frustrations—his artifact, if genuine, should have been one of the greatest discoveries of all time—but he did manage to attract some media attention. He gave interviews, spoke at UFO conventions, wrote a book titled UFO Hard Evidence (Galde Press 2004), set up a small museum to house his artifact (where he is said to have offered the object for sale for ten million dollars), and was featured on a number of TV shows.

Production budgets of shows like the History Channel’s UFO Hunters, Unsolved Mysteries, and Jane Goldman Investigates (a series produced in the UK) allowed him to present the object to scientists for testing, with mixed results. While it was easily established to be made of aluminum, it had no apparent working parts. UFO enthusiasts focused on proving its extraterrestrial origin by suggesting the composition of the metal matched nothing on earth. They compared isotope ratios in the object to those of meteors, tried to establish that it emitted unusual radioactivity, or focused on inclusions and trace elements in the metal. No one seemed to wonder why a supposedly sophisticated piece of alien technology looked like it had been unceremoniously hacked off at one end.

Our expert Ean Harrison is a retired steel foundry quality control supervisor who worked in the Seattle area. Not only can he explain the origin of Bob White’s strange object, he once owned several of them and used them as garden ornaments. Harrison writes:

The object in question is made of accreted grinding residue. It forms in a manner similar to a common stalagmite when metal castings are “cleaned” on large stationary grinders. Rough castings need to have the parting line fins and gates smoothed to facilitate machining and reduce tool breakage. A typical stationary grinder in a foundry cleaning room used to hand clean castings up to 40 pounds may have a composite wheel 3 feet in diameter and 4 inches wide or larger. The casting is placed on a work guard just like the small grinder found in home workshops, and the piece is fed against the surface of the wheel, grinding off parting line fins, weld repairs, and gate bosses. The grinding dust is spewed downward into the wheel guard at a temperature near the melting point of the parent metal. When the metal dust and grinding wheel abrasive hit the bottom of the guard, the melted epoxy wheel binder glues the mixture together. Over time a stalagmite is slowly created from the bottom up, that fuses the parent metals into the characteristic form. Depending on the size of the machine, a stalagmite can easily grow to a length of 2 feet or more. Also, depending on the castings being ground, the composition of the stalagmite could be an exotic mix of stainless steel, manganese, mild steel, aluminum—in other words, a very puzzling metallurgical mix all combined in a seemingly impossible compound. But in reality it is merely a product of the melted grinding wheel binder. eventually the stalagmite grows high enough to block the opening at the base of the grinding guard. The housing must be opened, the stalagmite broken off, thrown away, recycled, used as a yard ornament, or reported as something tossed out of a UFO.

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  A foundry standgrinder. (A) is the grinding wheel composed of abrasive and adhesive. (B) is where the casting rests. The stalagmites form inside the grinding wheel guard (C) just behind the two large bolt heads.
Not many large stalagmites exist as souvenirs anymore because the metal is now so valuable that it is collected and sold for scrap. There is also a concerted effort to keep the grinding guards clean and remove the stalagmites before they grow so large that they break off and destroy the grinder by becoming jammed between the guard and wheel. It is possible that Bob White’s artifact was not identified sooner because few old foundries remain which use the antiquated grinding equipment that produces them. Foundry work in the U.S. has been steadily outsourced to developing nations such as Mexico, China, and India.


It is unfortunate so many people have been deceived into thinking an industrial waste product is concrete evidence for a UFO. But I suppose the possibility remains that an alien sailing along in a UFO was processing castings on a stationary grinder and tossed the stalagmite down at Mr. White—but one would wonder why they are still using such primitive technology. 

One and two-horned steel stalagmites, each about 4 inches (10 cm) high. Foundry stalagmites come in many shapes and textures—from soft soggy oil-oozing blobs to elegant feathered needles. (A) and (B) (above) are fairly typical steel stalagmites with short scales and a coarse grainy texture.
Our custom-made two-horned carbide steel stalagmite exhibits long layered scales and a fine texture. An expert grinder operator took a look at a photo of the Bob White artifact and produced this otherworldly object (C) for Skeptic magazine by using an extra fast, extra hot grind of carbide steel to keep the metal and adhesive mix near the metal’s melting point.


Our thanks to: B.J. Mayclin of Roemer Electric Steel Foundry, Longview, WA, for supplying stalagmites (A) and (B); and to Michael Gilmore and Pat Mason for researching stalagmite production at Los Angeles area metal shops; and to Francisco Rosales for creating stalagmite (C) for this article.
Except for the top photo in this article (Bob White’s artifact), all photos were taken by Michael Gilmore, David Patton and Ean Harrison.

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  1. I still believe good old Bob’s story….I really believe that them sneaky little aliens opened up a hatch on the way up and threw that object at him….fortunately for him they were terrible at the aim

  2. Soon as this pic scrolled to my screen I knew exactly what it was or at least I remember seeing the story 15 or 20 years ago. This view makes a lot of since and not being biased is good. 1 down 15 million to go.

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