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Water—smaller than a drop.
In the accounts presented here, there are several observed atmospheric conditions that appear similar and in some cases, they are mentioned as if they were equivalent in meaning.
Arthur Conan Doyle’s fictional detective, Sherlock Holmes, is quoted as saying: “It is a capital mistake to theorize before you have all the evidence. Insensibly, one begins to twist the facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts. It biases the judgment.”
Many eyewitness accounts of UFOs contain terms for various observable conditions often associated with the weather. However, in the cases presented here, it is often not the weather which is responsible for what the witness observes. In some cases, it may be the result of the UFO’s hot, ionized field coming into contact with water, causing it to turn to steam. In non-water-related cases, what the witness notices could be a UFO’s partially visible field in an early morning or twilight period, and the witness might unwittingly describe this using a weather-related term. Due to the fact that different conditions affect visibility, a person’s perception of distance may be altered between him/her and the nearest observable reference point, such as a tree, a house, etc. In most UFO cases, distances are probably one of the last things that one thinks of in the excitement of the moment. Words such as cloud, fog, haze, smoke, steam, and vapor could be used interchangeably in the texts of the following reports, since witnesses may refer to them as if they were the same. Consequently, it is necessary to remember the relationship of the following definitions:
cloud - 1. A visible mass of condensed water vapor suspended in the atmosphere, consisting of minute droplets or ice crystals. 2. A mass of smoke, dust, steam, etc.
fog – Condensed watery vapor suspended in the atmosphere at or near the earth’s surface.
haze – 1. Very fine suspended particles in the air, often with little or no moisture. 2. A thin vapor of fog, smoke, dust, etc. in the air that reduces visibility.
mist – 1. A large mass of water vapor at or just above the earth’s surface and like a fog, but less dense. 2. A cloud of dust, smoke, gas, etc.
smoke – 1. The volatilized products of the combustion of an organic compound, as coal, wood, etc., charged with fine particles of carbon or soot; less properly, fumes, steam, etc. 2. Any vapor, fume, mist, etc. resembling smoke.
steam – 1. Water in the form of vapor. [#2 is of particular interest to us.] 2. The gas or vapor into which water is changed by boiling.
vapor – 1. Moisture in the air: especially, visible floating moisture, as light mist. 2. Any light, cloudy substance in the air, as smoke or fumes.