Hunting UFOs with the MADAR III

If you’ve seen my latest posts you know I’ve spent some quality time wading through the NUFORC UFO sightings database. One thing I’ve learned after analyzing over 98,000 sightings reports spanning almost three decades is that we haven’t learned much of anything about the true nature of UFOs.

What we have is a crap ton of witness testimony. What we don’t have is very much corroborating evidence.

Sure, we do have some intriguing photos, but in today’s digital age, anything can be faked.

Perhaps it’s time for a better approach, and this is why I support the Madar project.

Probable Hoax Photo from Belgium UFO Wave

The MADAR Project

If you haven’t heard of it, the Madar effort is an ambitious attempt to create a worldwide network of sensors that set out to detect the physical traces of UFO activity. As of this writing there are 150 nodes on the network, with the majority located in the continental US.

US MADAR Node Map. Real-time updates can be found here.

The project was conceived by life long UFO researcher and author Fran Ridge. The origins trace back to 1970 with the Madar I and has grown more technically sophisticated over time.

The current iteration is the Madar III data probe, an affordable device that allows anyone to participate in a network that monitors for UFO activity 24/7.


Crowd sourcing a network of sensor nodes provides a clever way to corroborate physical anomalies with other sighting reports from the same or nearby locations that might have occurred at the same time.

It also provides a way to alert the node “operators” that an anomaly is occurring in realtime. This way actions can be taken to document the sighting. As in actions I mean like running outside and taking photos.

You might be wondering at this point how exactly does a MADAR node detect UFOs?

Scanning the skies

That’s a good question and where a degree of buy-in is needed in support of the central premise of this project.

Can We Detect UFOs?

Here’s the issue. UFO believers typically fall into one of two camps:

Some people believe the extraterrestrial hypothesis (ETH) that proposes that UFOs are best explained as being physical spacecraft occupied by extraterrestrial life or unmanned probes from other planets visiting earth.

And then there’s the interdimensional hypothesis (IDH) that suggests that UFOs involve visitations from other realities that coexist separately along side our own.

The two theories are not mutually exclusive, but if UFOs turn out to be interdimensional in nature, they’re sure going to be a heck of a lot harder to detect.

If you buy into ETH and that UFOs are physical spacecraft (and therefore obey the laws of physics) then there should be a detectable trace of their existence.

But here’s the enigma with ETH and the gathering of evidence: As our sophistication with surveillance technologies has increased, we haven’t seen a corresponding increase in the number of UFO sightings.

For example with smartphones, everyone essentially has a camera in their pocket at all times. It’s hard to reconcile why there hasn’t been an explosion in documented (as in photographed) sightings in the last decade.

Number of UFO Sightings Reported to NUFORC 2006-2021 (Source: NUFORC Dataset)

Also, our military surveillance technologies have never been more advanced. While we do have the occasional, albeit reluctant admissions by militaries (like the US Department of Defense) that some radar detected events can be classified as “unidentified aerial phenomena”, you would imagine that the frequency of reports would match pace with our technological advancements.

On the other hand, think of the challenges of blanketing our airspace with radar coverage. For example, in the continental US alone there’s over 3 million square miles to protect. That’s a lot of airspace, and perhaps that does leave an opening for a novel approach.

Exploring A New Approach

Perhaps we need a distributed type of coverage that’s better suited for the phenomenon.

This is the void that the MADAR project attempts to fill. Packaged with the MADAR probe is a sensitive 3 axis magnetometer. This gives it the ability to detect a sudden change in the ambient magnetic field and/or compass heading in proximity to the device.

3 Axis Magnetometer Chip

All the MADAR nodes are networked and take sensor readings every few minutes. When the magnetometer detects an abrupt change over the typical background threshold, an alert is sent to a central server.

This novel approach serves a few purposes. First, the device can be configured to send an alert to the owner so that a local observation can be made. Second, the centralized alerting provides a way to automate the reporting of the anomaly to a nationwide UFO sightings database (like the NUFORC). Lastly, it enables correlation of sensor data with unrelated nearby sightings reports or even anomalies reported at the same time across different MADAR nodes.

The Evidence

At this point you’re probably wondering about the validity of the detection approach itself (looking for magnetic anomalies to detect UFOs.) Skepticism here is warranted.

There is at least some evidence that seems to suggest that UFOs can influence electronics and compass readings. A strong enough magnetic field could have that effect. Whether the MADAR sensor is sensitive enough to detect a field change with the range needed to detect a UFO overhead is subject to debate. That would have to be an uber-strong magnetic field. And of course you have to be willing to buy into ETH and that there’s something physical happening that can even be detected.

I can tell you first hand however that I have seen readings from my own MADAR node that I cannot explain. My own WOW signal if you will. Huge magnetic field changes with no appreciable cause – unrelated to weather or local environment. Unfortunately, these have occurred in the middle of the night and I’m not invested enough to run outside in my pajamas with binoculars and a phone.

Magnetic field reading from my Madar III probe – 9/1/2021

The Madar website reports evidence collected from over 500 EM cases with 144 that involve compass deviations. As a participant on the mailing list, I’ve seen mention of a few correlations with actual witness sightings. Perhaps there is something there.

Ultimately my position on the project is that it’s an ambitious step forward in UFO research. By attempting to collect real scientific data from a geographically distributed array of sensors and then correlate to unrelated sightings reports, it provides a way to bolster witness testimonies.

I have definite reservations about using a magnetometer as the primary UFO detection method, but the project opens the door for future efforts using different technologies that can build upon the core premise.

As my readers know, at Enigmatic Devices we like to peak behind the curtains of interesting projects like this. If you’re interested in a deep dive into the technology under the covers with the MADAR III, make sure to check out my next post.

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Which Cities to Spot a Specific Type UFO?

ufo over city

The NUFORC database categorizes all UFO sightings into 1 of 19 specific types. Categories like “triangles” or “chevrons” or “lights”, etc. In this post I’ve listed the top 5 US cities most likely to report a specific type UFO. Find out if yours is on the list!

This analysis is based on over 98,000 NUFORC UFO reports between January 1994 and May 2021. I used two different methods:

First, for the “Top 5” tables, I simply listed the top 5 US cities in terms of total number of sightings for a given UFO type.

Second, I identified the single top city for each UFO type after normalizing by population. To be included in the analysis, each location needed to have at least 5 sightings reported in the database along with available census population data.

I think this is the more interesting metric as it helps to uncover where there’s a disproportionate number of sightings based on the number of people in a particular location.

Here’s an example: When searching the database for the most “triangle” UFO sightings, Phoenix, AZ with a population of 1.7M is the top city with 30 since 1994. However, if I normalize by population, Cumming, GA is the top city with only 5 sightings, but with a population of just 6,639 people!

Of course what this actually means is subject to interpretation. A single person with a penchant for reporting UFOs can likely skew the results for a small town.

Cumming, GA

Many thanks again to Timothy Renner for making the NUFORC dataset available on

Without further ado, here are the cities where you are most likely to see a particular type UFO:


Who knew that “egg” shaped UFOs were a thing. And that there have been over 727 reported egg UFOs since 1994 and that the Big Apple would be #1 on the list!

New YorkNY9
Los AngelesCA5

Top city normalized by population: Albuquerque, NM.

They had 5 sightings since 1994 with a population of 500K. Here’s an excerpt of an egg sighting that occurred there on 7/28/20:

As it  got closer and I saw it clearly…  It was 3 dark colored egg shapped things about the size and height in the sky as a helicopter. It was going south on the east side of the housing area off Wyoming.  The eggs were fast and quick and moved very soothly and quickly around each other extremely close!  It looked like a dance but probly more security I feel. 
It was in a straight line of travel but the eggs moved around like the cup game where bet that you can find the ball after the dealer moves the cups all over over under and around...and at constant speed.

The “cup game” type movement must have been something to see and would not likely be confused as typical aircraft.


Interesting that NUFORC decided to separate chevrons from triangles. Phoenix is tied for first for this shape. Not surprising given that the famous Phoenix Lights sighting in 1997 was essentially a chevron with lights.

San DiegoCA7

Top city normalized by population: Orlando, Fl.

They had 5 sightings with a population of 289K. Here’s an excerpt of a chevron sighting that occurred there on 8/7/12:

my husband, adult daughter, and I saw orange, round lights in the sky as we were heading to our home near the Magic Kingdom area of Walt Disney World. 
The lights were farther west of Disney property.  They changed distances apart, but their formation mostly reminded me of a Nike swoosh symbol.

Apparently the Magic Kingdom isn’t the only spectacle in Orlando. The Nike swoosh symbol is an interesting detail.


Ah the always popular cigar shaped UFO. Over 2200 cigar sightings since 1994 and once again New York City tops the list.

New YorkNY20
Los AngelesCA11
Las VegasNV10

Top city normalized by population: Cumming, Ga.

They had 5 sightings with a population of 6K. Here’s an excerpt of a cigar sighting that occurred there on 5/5/14:

Looked like a missile but bright platinum colored.  Drove into subdivision.  Stopped looked up saw it.  Kept on driving. Then it just disappeared. Strange

Strange indeed. Not saying this is the case here, but whenever I see descriptions that are described as metallic and missile shaped I have to wonder if jetliners are being misidentified based on the viewing angle.


My favorite, the generic “circle” shaped UFO. Reserved for sighting descriptions where creativity is at a premium. Again, New York is at the top of the list. Not too surprising given that there are a over 8 million people who could have their eyes on the sky at any time. Over 11,000 circle sightings since 1994.

New YorkNY66
Las VegasNV50
Los AngelesCA50
Phoenix AZ47

Top city normalized by population: Dawsonville, Ga.

They had 5 sightings with a population of only 3K.

I know what you’re thinking, is Dawsonville anywhere near Cumming? It turns out that they’re fairly close, only 20 miles away from each other.

Here’s an excerpt of a circle sighting that took place there on 11/18/19:

We saw what looked to be a light strung up high in the air, at first we thought it was a helicopter due to how low it was but then we noticed it was a circle shape. And it did not move at all, so we thought it was a light, but there is nothing that high to string it up from.


UFOs are a rare phenomena. Cone shaped sightings are even rarer with only 373 reported since 1994. Odd that Beavercreek OH is in the top 5 with a population of 46,000.

Los AngelesCA5

Since there are so few “cone” UFO sightings, I changed my methodology for determining the top normalized city. In this case I looked at any city with more than 3 sightings (instead of 5).

Top city normalized by population: Sedona, AZ

Sedona had 3 cone sightings since 1994 with a population of only 10K.

Here’s an excerpt of a cone sighting that took place there on 12/21/10:

Was on my Ranch, when two, Fully white cone crafts came in view, one went over the west pasture, one over the feild, I snapped a few pictures, after about 5 minutes 1 emited a white light, then they both shoot back up. after reviewing the Pictures,  No of the crafts showed up in the pictures, also, two of my horses where never seen again

Whoa. What happened to the horses? That’s not good. Even more amazing is that the same witness reported cone shape sighting again thirteen months later. Thankfully no horses involved in that one.


The ubiquitous light in the sky is by far the most common type of sighting with over 20,000 in the database. If you want to see strange lights, move to New York City where there have been over 106 reports since 1994.

New YorkNY106
Las VegasNV99
San DiegoCA88

Top city normalized by population: Harrington, Washington.

Harrington has a population of only 422 people, but there have been 8 reported sightings of strange lights there.

Here’s an excerpt of a sighting from 8/14/14:

I was outside to walk my dogs, I had looked up and there was a light flash in the south, way up high, it was a bright light ball of some sort.   This light ball moved slowly for about a minute, towards the west a bit.  I shined my powerful green laser on it, it went upward, I shined my laser on it again and the light ship turned off its light source and it turned red, all within a minute, then this thing disappeared into space, after about watching for at least 2 minutes.

I like that the witness shined a “powerful green laser” on the light. Behold our power aliens.


Triangles are the third most common type sighting with over 8000 listed in the database. I have a particular interest in black triangle sightings and there have been over 400 of those since 1994.

Like chevrons, Phoenix is also the most likely city to spot triangle shaped UFOs.

Las VegasNV29
Colorado SpringsCO27

Top city normalized by population: Cumming, GA.

What the? This same city has the most cigar sightings! What is going on in Cumming?

They had 5 sightings of cigar shaped UFOs with a population of 6K.

Here’s an excerpt of one:

Strange cigar shaped object. Looked like a missile but bright platinum colored.  Drove into subdivision. Stopped looked up saw it. Kept on driving. Then it just disappeared. Strange.

Strange indeed.


My first thought was that the majority fireballs would just be misidentified meteors. However after reading through a few of the 7400+ fireball sightings reports in the NUFORC DB, I’m not so sure.

The Big Apple wins the prize again for most fireball sightings with 44 in the database.

New YorkNY44
Los AngelesCA33

Top city normalized by population: Cumming, GA

You guessed it. Cigars, fireballs, triangles, there’s a lot of action in Cumming.

Here’s a snippet of a fireball sighting report from there on 10/1/13:

3 very slow-moving sparking, flaming meteor looking objects starting on 1 side of the horizon and ended in the same spot on the other. The object was moving about the speed and height of a high-flying aircraft, and it appeared to be on fire.  Sparks and flames were clearly visible.  This was not the speed of a meteor by any means.  Once the object reached the other side of the horizon, it appeared that the ""flames"" went out - at which point our group though the fire on the ""plane"" had been extinguished.  Lo and behold, a second fiery object came from the same side of the sky that the first object rose from, and it did virtually the same thing the first object did and culminated in the same spot.

Lo and behold, Cumming, undisputed capital of weird sighting reports.


Spheres seem more 3D than simple circle sightings. And a fairly common description with over 6700 reported sphere shaped UFO sightings. Once again, New York is the place to be for these.

New YorkNY38
Los AngelesCA31
San DiegoCA31
Las VegasNV30

Surprisingly the top city normalized by population for sphere sightings is NOT cumming, GA. Instead: North Myrtle Beach, SC

Here’s an excerpt of a description there from 5/15/17:

Husband, sitting on porch, saw 3 red orbs in a line above the ocean, then they disappeared.   Later, 3 red orbs appeared again with a 4th one and another set of 2 to the left.    Then just disappeared.   Few minutes later sparkles of tiny white lights appeared in the western sky and disappeared.  Others saw this too.

This date is interesting as there was more than one “sphere” sighting reported at Myrtle Beach on that day. Another sphere sighting was reported there two months later, same year.


Disk UFO sightings go way back to the 1940’s. One of the most famous is the Kenneth Arnold sighting in 1947 which popularized the term “flying disk”. If you want to see a disk shaped UFO, try New York City again, with 51 reported since 1994.

New YorkNY51
Los AngelesCA27

Top location for disk sightings normalized by population: Holt Summit, MO.

Holt Summit, has 10 disk sightings reported with a population of 4500.

Here’s a short excerpt of a report from 12/24/13:

"It is back, once more, early, and dropping drones."

Wow. Apparently this witness has a history with these disks. And what’s with the dropping of drones? And how do we know they’re drones? So many questions.


Close cousin to the circle sightings, we also have ovals. There have been 4200+ oval sightings reported in the US since 1994. Like many of the other types, New York is the place to be for oval UFOs.

New YorkNY35
Las VegasNV28

Top city normalized by population for oval UFO sightings: Myrtle Beach, SC.

Apparently the census makes a distinction between North Myrtle Beach and Myrtle Beach. Between the two we have spheres, ovals and as you’ll soon learn – formations, covered.

Here’s a Myrtle Beach oval UFO report excerpt from 7/24/14:

Orange oval-shaped object, with orange droplets, seen over Myrtle Beach. Around 20:00 hrs., an orange oval appeared in the sky.  It almost appeared to be a star, but was much to bright.   After not moving for a few minutes it looked as if droplets were dripping from the craft.  These droplets were the same color as the craft.

The “dripping droplets” are a strange detail and I’ve never seen anything similar in any of the reports that I’ve read.


In my mind, the term “formations” holds more meaning than just a group. There has to be coordination between the members. Flying in formation implies intelligence.

Portland, Oregon wins the prize for most sightings of UFO formations with 24 reported.

Las VegasNV15

Top city normalized by population for formation sightings: North Myrtle Beach, SC.

Here’s an excerpt of a recent North Myrtle Beach formation sighting report from 8/27/20:

I took my dogs outside to go pee. I live less than a mile from the North Myrtle Beach coastline.  Facing south, I saw 8-10 lights in a formation shaped like a 3 or sideways “m” heading west and disappearing behind trees.  The lights moved almost like a flock of geese and it was completely silent.

The dog situation is an important detail. 8-10 lights altogether. There’s a fine line between a formation and an invasion.


The chameleon UFOs. Sightings that describe physical changes in terms of shape, size an number are truly strange.

2300+ US sightings were categorized as changing in the NUFORC db. The number one city for this type is Phoenix, AZ with 20 reported.

New YorkNY19
Las VegasNV16
Los AngelesCA13

Top city normalized by population for “changing” UFO sightings: North Myrtle Beach, SC.

North Myrtle Beach is making a run at Cumming, GA for top prize of most sightings.

Here’s a recent sighting report for a changing UFO from this city on 5/14/21:

Many lights over North Myrtle Beach ocean moving erratically Last night while watching comedy on Netflix, I observed an orange light flash outside my beachfront condo. When it did it again I got up and got my binoculars and my iPhone to take a picture.  I could see many lights out over the ocean but thru the binoculars I can see that some of them are moving very erratically and changing color equally as fast.  I took a picture and when you enlarge the photo you can see one of the lights is a red color and looks to have energy coming from it.

Unfortunately I don’t have a link to the photo. Energy emanating from the UFO is an odd detail. So is the Netflix comedy comment.


From reading through the reports, a “flash” is typically either a sighting where colors are changing rapidly or something occurs in a split second. There are 1,797 “flash” reports in the NUFORCDB. Number one city for these is Albuquerque, NM.

San DiegoCA12

Number one city normalized by population for “flash” type UFO sightings: Myrtle Beach, SC.

Myrtle Beach and North Myrtle Beach combined are the top cities for 5 different categories of UFO types. That’s odd.

Here’s a snippet from a flash sighting in Myrtle Beach on 6/10/14:

Come to myrtle beach and see for yourself...seeing is believing. I was checking out some UFO reports and was giving up for the night, when I notice two bright orange lights, just south west of me.  After about a few seconds they disappeared.  I started walking toward the beach again, then all of a sudden, I  saw the lights due east of me, blinking on and off for about 20 minutes.  I took my eye of them for a second after that, and they broke up into about 6 smaller lights, and flew away, blinking very fast..

Given the amount of sightings there, perhaps I should make a trip to Myrtle Beach. There are many similar reports of blinking and disappearing lights spotted over the ocean.


Rectangle sightings are strange given the inherently non-aerodynamic shape. They’re not as frequently reported with only 1,777 entries in the database. Top city for rectangle sightings is Phoenix, AZ.

Las VegasNV12
New YorkNY9

Top city for rectangle UFO sightings normalized by population: Naples, FL.

Here’s an excerpt of a sighting there from 9/7/09:

Two very bright green large flashing bars, end to end, wiith a space in the middle, as close as 30 feet. moving, and observing me. Hello: I never believed in this. But I Cannnot live with what I saw. Out of the east, a green light, ""Huh jet"" ""Damn thats moving fast"" Two green flashing bars,""Huh some rich rap guys private jet"" Then it is right at tree tops, Im thinking ""huh giant fire fly"" I am making every rationalization to account, for what I never believed in. ""Common there's no giant fire flys"" Two very bright flashing perfect rectangles, with a space in between, length wise Very bright green

Bright green flashing bars is truly unique sighting. How did the witness know that he was being observed?


My suspicion is that aircraft are regualarly misidentified as cylinder UFOs. It would be interesting to see if there’s a correlation between common flight paths and the number of cylinder sightings.

There have been 1,518 sightings since 1994 with New York City leading the pack with 11 reported.

New YorkNY11
Cape CoralFL7
Las VegasNV7

The top city normalized by population for cylinder shaped sightings: Columbia, MO.

They’ve had 7 sightings since 1994 with a population of 124,769.

Here’s an excerpt of a Columbia cylinder sighting from 7/4/06.

I was at a July 4th fireworks display at the Hearnes Center in Columbia, Mo. We were all impatiently waiting for the fireworks to begin. I was looking to the south when I saw what I believed to be a plane coming in our direction but as it passed over us I realized it was the same silvery cylindrical object I saw in June (see June 2006 NUFORC report). As before it was much lower than a large passenger plane or blimp.

Two points about this one:

First, as touched on here, the most frequent day for US UFO sightings is July 4th. That’s probably the outcome of more people with their eyes on the sky than any other day. Second, this single witness has reported multiple cylinder sightings in Columbia. Given the relatively low frequency of cylinder sightings overall, this certainly helped Columbia to rise to the top for this category.


As with the gemstone, diamond UFO sightings are relatively rare with only 1,389 catalogued in the NUFORC database.

The number one city for diamond UFO sightings is Phoenix, AZ with just 9 reports.

San JoseCA7
St LouisMO6

Top city for diamond shaped UFOs normalized by population: Naples, Fl.

Naples had 5 sightings with a population of 22K.

Here’s a sighting excerpt. This one from 12/26/11:

I was driving and I saw a form maybe about 100-300 feet above the road going over my car.  It was large and in a diamond-square shape.  The corners of the object were illuminating a light blue color, and there seemed to be some sort of digital pattern on the bottom lighting up a light blue as well, but this section was more faint and the lighting was sporadic in different areas of the object.

I included this one because of the mention of being in the car and being buzzed by a low flying UFO. This is an very common theme in UFO reports – terrified witnesses stating that something unidentified passed over their car at a low altitude. There are over 9000 sightings reports where the witness observed a UFO from their car. Not all of these are near miss flybys, but there are a lot of car sightings.


An exceedingly rare category as less than 1% of UFO sightings are reported as teardrop in shape.

Las Vegas, with 7 sightings is the most popular city for teardrop UFOs.

Las VegasNV7
Los AngelesCA6
New YorkNY6

Las Vegas, NV is the top city normalized by population for teardrop UFOs with 7 reported.

This Nevada teardrop sighting snippet is from 6/5/17:


Reporting your sighting in all caps adds a certain amount of gravitas in my opinion. I’ve been to Las Vegas and Frenchman mountain is only about 10 miles from the strip. If the witness was in that vicinity he would have a clear view of the mountain.


This is the last category. Cross UFO sightings are the most rare with only 331 reports since 1994.

New York, once again comes out at top for this type.

New YorkNY6
Huntington BeachCA6

Since there are so few “cross” UFO sightings, I had to change my methodology somewhat to determine the top city based on population. In this case, any city that had more than 2 sightings was included in the analysis.

Top city normalized by population for cross shaped UFO sightings: Huntington Beach, CA.

Huntington Beach had 3 cross shaped sightings with a population of 198K. Here’s an excerpt from one:

I saw an odd shaped cluster of lights as I drove thru a residentional neighborhood, so I stoppped the car and got out. It hovered at a distance moving in my direction, it literally  came right up to me. All I could see was the lights from underneeth. There were a total of sixteen lights in the shape of a cross, four lights on each leg of the cross with no light in the center.

So there you have it – top cities for all UFO types. If you like this content make sure to share on social media and let me know your thoughts. Especially if you live in Cumming, GA!

More on Data Mining UFOs

UFO Shape Distribution Over TIme

More insights after analyzing 25+ years of sightings from the NUFORC database.

Many thanks again to Tim Renner for making the NUFORC UFO sightings dataset available on

Frequency of US UFO Sightings Normalized by Population

(Sort by “countByPop” to see which states report the most UFOs!)


I was very surprised that northeastern states (ME, VT, NH) were at the top of the list.

Frequency of Reported US UFO Shapes Over Time

Distribution of Reported UFO Shapes

Reported UFO shapes have been relatively consistent over time. Describing a UFO as an unusual “light” is by far the most common. Also interesting is that there appears to have been a slight uptick in “fireball” sightings between 2012-2014.

Number of US UFO Sightings Reported over Time

Total UFO Sightings Over Time with 30 Day Moving Avg

There were 88,000 UFO sightings reported since 1994. The spikes are what’s interesting here. I call it the “4th of July Effect”. The blue line is the 30 day moving average, which helps to visualize trends over time. It appears that there was an uptick in sightings in 2020.

More detail on the 7 largest spikes:

DateSightings Count
July 4, 2010213
July 4, 2011165
July 4, 2012197
July 4, 2013180
July 4, 2014273
July 4, 2015173
Nov 7, 2015297

It’s not surprising that the top day for UFO sightings is consistently July 4th. Probably more than any other day people have their eyes in the sky because of fireworks celebrations. I would imagine there’s a good deal of misidentifying fireworks as UFOs.

The day to look into is November 7th, 2015. That’s an odd date and represents the most US UFO sightings ever reported in a single day. Perhaps a subject for a future post.

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