Physical Science - Other

Irans Working Flying Saucer

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"Irans Working Flying Saucer"
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Perhaps worried that international scrutiny of Colonel Gadaffi's tottering regime in Libya was robbing Iran of their rightful place as maddest country in the Middle East, their Fars news agency have now declared that Iranians have developed and built the world's first working flying saucer, in a story which has been covered by the UK's Daily Mail, among others.

Iran likes to boast about its 2,500 years of civilisation, and its rulers would like to think that the country is at the forefront of scientific research. This mindset has resulted in the bizarre claim that they have built a working flying saucer, presumably as an offshoot of their ambitious space programme.

What with developing massive rockets as part of an allegedly peaceful space programme, and developing nuclear energy as part of an allegedly peaceful energy programme, Iran likes to keep politicians around the world awake at nights by building intensely scary technology on not particularly plausible pretexts. In this context, a press release about a flying saucer, complete with a sweet picture of a 1950s B-movie style craft, is almost light relief.

Except for the part where (assuming the story is in any way true) the device is blatantly going to be used as stealth surveillance equipment, either on Iran's own population or its neighbours. Designed for aerial photography, this vertical flying aircraft apparently comes equipped with GPS and HD quality recording equipment, while being small enough to fly indoors.

Iran's student news agency ISNA claimed that the saucer had several unique selling points: "Easy transportation and launch and flying, making less noise, are some of the advantages of the device." Making less noise than what, precisely, is unclear.

Other recent scientific breakthroughs made by Iran include a flying stealth boat designed to evade radar, and last year they apparently launched a rocket which carried a mouse, a turtle and some worms into space. Which sounds rather charmingly like an Edward Lear poem. No one's seen the flying boat yet. Perhaps it's invisible as well, and Iran forgot to mention that they've also developed a cloaking device.

It's brilliant that Iran's scientists have a sense of humour, even if it doesn't extend to the country's terrifyingly insane rulers. Speaking of which, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei apparently saw the device unveiled at an exhibition of so-called strategic technologies.

The truth behind Iran's odd claim is probably that they've developed some sort of miniature unmanned spy plane. It's not a flying saucer in the true sense as it's unlikely that such a craft would be spaceworthy (for one thing, GPS only works if you're at a position under the satellite network). Behind the fun that various media agencies are having photoshopping old B-movie flying saucers with Iranian flags, Iran is pressing ahead with surveillance and weapons technologies with alarming vigour and determination.

More about this author: Kenneth Andrews

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