> Appeal to ignorance, in this case for the sake of
> melodrama. That's one of the favorite tactics of
> 'woo'. Chemistry is now based on direct
> understanding of the structure of atoms. There are
> no gaps in the element table, and probably not
> many remaining undiscovered elements even at the
> far end. Very heavy elements are very unstable and
> short-lived. I agree with Aine that the statement
> needs to be clarified, but if they mean that they
> really have no idea what it is, they wouldn't even
> know to call it an 'alloy' (a combination of one
> or more metals with possibly other
> non-metallic elements). And if it really was
> something unlike any other known matter, why would
> it even interact with normal matter? If they
> simply mean that they don't know where it came
> from (who manufactured it) then the person or
> persons reporting the story are using deliberate
> ambiguity, again, for the purpose of melodrama. An
> unidentifiable piece of wreckage is not evidence
> of aliens or super-human technology.
This clears things up a bit:
The Truth About Those 'Alien Alloys' in The NY Times UFO Story
Even if a chunk of alloy that hadn't been seen before did fall to Earth from outer space, both Nyman and Sachleben agreed that it wouldn't necessarily have come from an alien craft. In fact, Sachleben said, alloys strike the planet regularly — space-traversing alloys like those found in fairly common nickel-iron meteorites — leaving behind telltale signs. The meteor that wiped out the dinosaurs was even identified by the rare-Earth metals it left behind in certain geological formations in Earth's crust.
It's important to point out that while Blumenthal did go on cable news and say the alloys were unidentifiable mysteries, helping to spur speculation, that's not what his article actually stated. Here's the full quote from Saturday's piece:
"The company [involved in the DOD research] modified buildings in Las Vegas for the storage of metal alloys and other materials that … program contractors said had been recovered from unidentified aerial phenomena. Researchers also studied people who said they had experienced physical effects from encounters with the objects and examined them for any physiological changes. In addition, researchers spoke to military service members who had reported sightings of strange aircraft."
From this statement, there's no actual sign that there's anything unusual about the alloys themselves. All the Times wrote was that the DOD researchers tasked with finding weird UFO stuff collected some metal, interviewed some people who had claimed startling experiences with it, and decided that it was UFO-related.
In an email to Live Science regarding these metal alloys, Blumenthal said, "We printed as much as we were able to verify. Can't go beyond that."
As for whether there's an explanation at least for the metals themselves, Sachleben said: "There's not as many mysteries in science as people like to think. It's not like we know everything — we don't know everything. But most things we know enough about to know what we don't know."
I am satisfied with this answer, other than wanting to know specifically what alloys were found.