They were odd streaks on videos, showing up when someone would be shooting footage of the sky, an airplane, or a weather event. When slowed down, these streaks looked like cylindrical rods with stubby, flap-like protrusions extending from their sides. The objects would enter from one end of the frame and move in a straight line (most of the time) for the opposite end at a high speed and then go off frame.
Since 1994, the notion of "rods" has been a recurring topic in both UFO and cryptozoological circles. What were they? Alien probes? Alien lifeforms in our atmosphere? Hitherto undiscovered aerial creatures (a few took to calling them "skyfish")?
Here is an example of rod footage:
Of course the whole thing has been found to be a gigantic case of mis-identification and a colossal waste of time. "Rods" are just a trick of light and optics. When caught on video, insects in flight are the cause of the rod shapes. The beating of their wings creates the effect due to motion blur and long exposure times on the part of the camera. This effect has been duplicated many times by simply videotaping insects. A few proponents of rods were unconvinced and decided to set up nets around an area where they had previously taken rod footage. You know what they caught? Moths.
Rods still have a small band of supporters, even despite all of the evidence against them. While I'm not smart enough to know everything, I can say with pretty much 99.9% certainty that "rods" are not new lifeforms living in our skies or alien devices. It's just a case of someone seeing something perfectly natural, albeit a bit odd perhaps, and wanting to believe it is an otherworldly experience. For me, it's right up there with the "orbs" that ghost investigators keep touting as evidence of spiritual energy and not a bug or a reflection off of a speck of dust.
But the fiction writer in me starts thinking. Arthur C. Clarke said that "any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." It stands to reason that alien technology might be able to morph in shape or to even alter our own perception of it. One of their probes might behave very much like a fictional rod; it comes in fast, stays high, and changes form if it senses it's being detected or observed. What visual evidence would be left behind? A blurry, rod-like streak that could easily be a bird or insect.
Continuing on the alien probe thread from this and a previous post, I found this article about the very subject on Discovery."Forget about those huge motherships in the 1996 film Independence Day, the fuel costs are astronomical."
Follow me on Twitter: @Jntweets