Dr. Garry Nolan is a Professor of Microbiology and Pathology at Stanford University. His research ranges from cancer to systems immunology. Dr. Nolan has also spent the last ten years working with the US Department of Defense analyzing materials from Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon.
His robust resume—300 research articles, 40 US patents, founding of four biotech companies, and honor as one of Stanford’s top 25 inventors—makes him, easily, one of the most accomplished scientists studying UAPs.
Motherboard sat down with Garry to discuss his work.
[For more with Dr. Garry Nolan, watch this interview with Jesse Michels on American Alchemy.]
MOTHERBOARD: How long have you had an interest in UAPs?
Dr. Garry Nolan: I started looking at a bunch of YouTube videos about UFO stuff. I noticed that this guy at the time, Steven Greer, had claimed that a little skeleton was an alien. I said, Oh, I can prove or disprove that. And so I reached out to him. I eventually showed that it wasn’t an alien, it was human. We explain a fair amount about why it looked the way it did. It had a number of mutations in skeletal genes. The UFO community didn’t like me saying that. But you know, the truth is science. So I had no problem with that. We published a paper and it ended up going worldwide. It was on the front page of just about every major newspaper. What’s more appealing or clickbait than ‘Stanford professor sequences alien baby’?
That ended up bringing me to the attention of some people associated with the CIA and some aeronautics corporations. At the time, they had been investigating a number of cases of pilots who’d gotten close to supposed UAPs and the fields generated by them, as was claimed by the people who showed up at my office unannounced one day. There was enough drama around the Atacama skeleton that I had basically decided to forswear all continued involvement in this area. Then these guys showed up and said, ‘We need you to help us with this because we want to do blood analysis and everybody says that you’ve got the best blood analysis instrumentation on the planet.’ Then they started showing the MRIs of some of these pilots and ground personnel and intelligence agents who had been damaged. The MRIs were clear. You didn’t even have to be an MD to see that there was a problem. Some of their brains were horribly, horribly damaged. And so that’s what kind of got me involved.
Does the Department of Pathology at Stanford have a track record of pulling practical jokes on you?
I thought it was a practical joke at the beginning. But no, nobody was pulling a practical joke. And just as an aside, the school is completely supportive, and always has been of the work that I’ve been doing. When the Atacama thing hit the fan, they stepped in and helped me deal with the public relations issues around it.
Are you able to mention which folks from which governmental departments other than aeronautics approached you?
No, I’m not.
Can you describe the more anomalous effects on the brains you observed with the MRIs?
If you’ve ever looked at an MRI of somebody with multiple sclerosis, there’s something called white matter disease. It’s scarring. It’s a big white blob, or multiple white blobs, scattered throughout the MRI. It’s essentially dead tissue where the immune system has attacked the brain. That’s probably the closest thing that you could come to if you wanted to look at a snapshot from one of these individuals. You can pretty quickly see that there’s something wrong.
How many patients did you take a look at in that first phase?
It was 100 patients. They were almost all defense or governmental personnel or people working in the aerospace industry; people doing government-level work. Here’s how it works: Let’s say that a Department of Defense personnel gets damaged or hurt. Odd cases go up the chain of command, at least within the medical branch. If nobody knows what to do with it, it goes over to what’s called the weird desk, where things get thrown in a bucket. Then somebody eventually says, ‘Oh, there’s enough interesting things in this bucket worth following up on that all look reasonably similar.’ Science works by comparing things that are similar and dissimilar to other things. Enough people were having very similar kinds of bad things happen to them, that it came to the attention of a guy by the name of Kit Green. He was in charge of studying these individuals. You have a smorgasbord of people, some of whom had heard weird noises buzzing in their head, got sick, etc. A reasonable subset of them had claimed to have seen UAPs and it was because of that closeness that they got sick. Let me show you the brains of some of these people.
We started to notice that there were similarities in what we thought was the damage across multiple individuals. As we looked more closely, though, we realized, well, that can’t be damaged, because that’s right in the middle of the basal ganglia [a group of nuclei responsible for motor control and other core brain functions]. If those structures were damaged, these people would be dead. That was when we realized that these people had an over-connection of neuronal pathways between the head of the caudate and the putamen [The caudate nucleus plays a critical role in various higher neurological functions; the putamen influences motor planning, learning, and execution]. If you looked at 100 average people, you won’t see it. But these individuals had it. An open question is: did coming in contact with whatever it was cause it or not?
For a couple of these individuals we had MRIs from prior years. They had it before they had these incidents. It was pretty obvious, then, that this was something that people were born with. It’s a goal sub-goal setting planning device, it’s called the brain within the brain. It’s an extraordinary thing. This area of the brain is involved in what we call intuition. For instance, Japanese chess players were measured as they made what would be construed as a brilliant decision that is not obvious for anybody to have made that kind of leap of intuition, this area of the brain lights up. We had found people who had this in spades. These are all high-functioning people. They’re pilots who are making split second decisions.
Everybody has this region, but the density level is 1x. Most of the people in the study had 5x to 10x and up to 15x, the normal density in this region, and density usually implies some sort of intercommunication.
Did the people who claimed that they’d had an encounter, especially the pilots, describe any perceivable decrease in neurological capacity?
Of the 100 or so patients that we looked at, about a quarter of them died from their injuries. The majority of these patients had symptomology that’s basically identical to what’s now called Havana syndrome. We think amongst this bucket list of cases, we had the first Havana syndrome patients. Once this turned into a national security problem with the Havana syndrome I was locked out of all of the access to the files because it’s now a serious potential international incident if they ever figured out who’s been doing it.
That still left individuals who had seen UAPs. They didn’t have Havana syndrome. They had a smorgasbord of other symptoms.
How does the impact of electromagnetic frequencies factor into your hypotheses about what exactly transpired here?
With one of the patients, it happened on the Skinwalker Ranch. Given how deep into their brain the damage went, we can actually estimate the amount of energy required in the electromagnetic wave someone aimed at them. We don’t think that has anything to do with UAPs. We think that that’s some sort of a state actor.
Other than MRIs, what technologies were you using to analyze the patients?
We did a deep psychological evaluation of all of these people, just to make sure that they were stable. The analysis work that I did was on blood, using a device called CyTOF which was something that I had been involved in the development of. The problem was that we couldn’t really conclude very much because many of the cases happened years before I ended up getting the blood. I can do it now within four or five days or a couple of weeks, but not a couple of years. What I told the people in the government is I need access to their blood while the case is still acute.
Is there anything man-made that might have this impact on the brain?
The only thing I can imagine is you’re standing next to an electric transformer that’s emitting so much energy that you’re basically getting burned inside your body.
Are you simply attempting to document what you see? Or are you looking for a cause as well?
Yes, it’s kind of the natural way that science is done. First, you catalog, then you organize and then you say: well, this is similar to that and that’s similar to that but why is this different? And then you look for causes. I do that every day with our cancer work. We always try to come up with hypotheses on why something is. Hypotheses are innumerable. I won’t get caught trying to come to a conclusion because you only need one disproof. That’s what I’m trying to stay away from. I have my private thoughts about what I think is going on, and some of them I’m very, very sure about. I’m open to being wrong. Except most of the time, I know I’m right.
You’ve also analyzed inanimate materials like alleged UAP fragments…
You’ve probably heard of Jacques Vallée, Kit Green, Eric Davis and Colm Kelleher. All roads lead to them when it comes to UAP. I basically became friends with that whole group; they call it The Invisible College. When they found out some of the instruments that I had developed, using mass spectrometry, they asked if I could analyze UAP material, and tell them something about it. That led to the development of a roadmap of how to analyze these things.
Some of the objects are nondescript, and just metals. There’s nothing unusual about them except that everywhere you look in the metal, it’s different, which is odd. It’s what we call inhomogeneous. The common thing about all the materials that I’ve looked at so far, and there’s about a dozen, is that almost none of them are uniform. They’re all these hodgepodge mixtures. They all have the same stuff in them, but they’re at different levels.
One of the materials from the so called Ubatuba event [a UAP event in Brazil], has extraordinarily altered isotope ratios of magnesium. It was interesting because another piece from the same event was analyzed in the same instrument at the same time. This is an extraordinarily sensitive instrument called a nanoSIMS – Secondary Ion Mass Spec. It had perfectly correct isotope ratios for what you would expect for magnesium found anywhere on Earth. Meanwhile, the other one was just way off. Like 30 percent off the ratios. The problem is there’s no good reason humans have for altering the isotope ratios of a simple metal like magnesium. There’s no different properties of the different isotopes, that anybody, at least in any of the literature that is public of the hundreds of thousands of papers published, that says this is why you would do that. Now you can do it. It’s a little expensive to do, but you’d have no reason for doing it.
Most of the time humans use isotopes to blow stuff up—uranium or plutonium—or to poison someone, or used as a tracer in order to kill cancer. But those are very, very specific cases. We are all almost always using radioactive isotopes. We don’t ever change the isotope ratios of stable isotopes. What that means is it’s been engineered, it’s downstream of a process that caused them to be altered.
So, now, let’s look at what these materials are claimed to be. In almost every case, these are the leftovers of some sort of process that these objects spit out. So you go look at the cases where molten metal falls from these objects. Why would 30 pounds of a molten metal fall anywhere from a flying object?
So one of these objects is unstable. It spits out a bunch of stuff. Now it’s stable and it takes off. It looks like it fixed itself. It’s almost as if this is part of the mechanism for moving around, and when things get out of whack, it has to offload it. It just drops this stuff to the ground, kind of like the exhaust. That begs the question: what are they using it for? If there’s altered isotope ratios, are they using the altered isotope ratios? Are these the result of the propulsion? The result of the propulsion is to change the ratios. When the ratios get that far out of whack, they have to offload because it’s no longer useful in propulsion. Smarter people than me will come up with better reasons.
I just had somebody contact me from Fresno [California] recently with an exactly similar case. A daughter and a father see this stuff dropping. They’ve got this molten metal on their driveway. I’m more interested in the cases that nobody knows anything about. Because then it’s not contaminated [by media attention].
How many objects have you checked out that are not playing by our rules?
So of the 10 or 12 that I’ve looked at, two seem to be not playing by our rules. That doesn’t mean that they’re levitating, on my desk or anything, it just means that they have altered isotope ratios.
Have you ever used a super quantum interference device?
We will likely be using SQUIDs in a new device that can determine the atomic structure of anything, at a sub-angstrom resolution. There’s no device in the world that can do that today, especially of an amorphous object. We can do crystals, we can do little bits of biology with what’s called cryo-EM. But this device supersedes all of them. So I’m talking with the government about building that.
Are the devices and methods that you have available to you in terms of being able to analyze this material sufficient? In a perfect world, what would you want to see?
Depending on how deep you want to go, each analysis costs anywhere from $10,000 to $20,000. That tells you what the atoms are, what the isotope ratios are, crystalline quality—a lot of things that are sort of standard materials analysis. The point of doing this though is to figure out what it was used for. To do that, eventually, you do need to get down to the atomic level.
Let’s say we didn’t have transistors today and one of these objects dropped a big chunk of germanium, dopamine, or, you know, these little transistors. We say, what is this thing?
Anybody who’s engineering advanced materials these days for doing any kind of signal processing is detecting precise differences in where the atoms are in the structure. There’s a thing that’s often used in biology called structure function. Sometimes, if you can just see the structure you can understand the function. I can look at a heart and watch a little bit of how it moves and understand that’s the function. I can look at the tubes in your veins and say, that function is to carry blood. As we’re looking at the structure of cells, when we see the structure of a protein we can get a sense of how it’s operating. So that’s really what it’s about. The next frontier of materials study is atomic. If you want to understand something very advanced, you better have something like this in your back pocket.
Additional reporting by Jason Koebler.
Thobey Campion is the former Publisher of Motherboard and the Founder of EXO Dynamics, a blockchain-powered media organization. You can subscribe to his Substack here.