Jul 10 2013

Impressions and Implications of the 2013 Roswell UFO Festival

Yesterday Google cutely reminded us of the 66th anniversary of the Roswell UFO event. In the past, although intrigued, I’ve not attended the annual July Roswell UFO festival mainly because Roswell is far away and has very warm summers.

Each year for a few days around July 4, Roswell celebrates and evaluates the most famous UFO event in history. (Images by Bruce Cordell.)
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But given the recently high profile of the UFO phenomenon — Citizen Hearing, scientific meetings at the Vatican and the Royal Society — and key people speaking at Roswell (e.g., Dr. Jesse Marcel, Jr.), I decided to take the plunge.

This time Roswell not only had elevated temperatures but also an unusually early and intense monsoon. Both may have conspired to bring the crowd down a little although everyone seemed to enjoying themselves.

In Roswell UFO-related gift shops and bookstores abound. My favorite was “Roswell Landing” where I found a speculative, but interesting book by mathematician and MUFON staffer Don Burleson, about how J. Robert Oppenheimer, father of the A-bomb, may have been directly involved in UFO crash analyses.
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My impression of the Roswell demographics was an interesting combination of the younger family-oriented groups you’d encounter at Disneyland plus the more senior folks who frequent WalMart. If you survey the festival’s schedule of events (linked above) you’ll see there was something for everyone from eight to eighty.

A lot of the action took place in the International UFO Museum and Research Center on Main Street. I remember strolling though it shortly after it was founded in 1992. This time it was much more elaborate including an autographed poster of wondrous actress Adrienne Barbeau who was a celebrity guest in 2010.
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Friday afternoon in the IUFOMRC North Library well-known Roswell authors Tom Carey and Don Schmitt reiterated their contention that over the last 60+ years the U.S. government has fibbed often about UFOs and especially Roswell.

In particular, since 1947 the government has offered 4 different, official explanations of the Roswell event — the most laughable being a weather balloon! Carey and Schmitt continue to be firmly supportive of the idea that alien bodies were also retrieved at Roswell and expressed particular frustration with the New York Times for showing no interest in witness testimony. Big surprise.

Not being a Roswell expert myself, I’ve always been curious of what became of Roswell base commander Col. Blanchard who sent out the stunning first, but rapidly countermanded press release that indicated the military had retrieved a crashed flying saucer!

Did it hurt his career?

According to Carey/Schmitt, Blanchard shot up the ladder to the Pentagon and became a 4-star general. Shortly thereafter in May, 1966 Gen. Blanchard died “at his desk” of a massive heart attack, while expecting even brighter things in his sadly aborted future. Imagine what the conspiracy theorists of today’s politicized world would make out of that…

The highlight of the UFO Festival for me was Saturday morning at 9:30 am in the Roswell Civic Center Exhibit Hall when Jesse Marcel, Jr., M.D. recounted his story of how, as an eleven-year-old in 1947, he personally examined the debris from the Roswell UFO crash. Dr. Marcel and his daughter are pictured here.
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Marcel comes across exactly like I expected him to: smart, authentic, competent, patriotic, and even very personable. It was quite an experience to hear the most celebrated (publicly speaking) living witness to what was apparently the debris of a crashed alien spacecraft. The fact that Marcel later earned an M.D. and became a successful practicing physician is relevant to his current testimony about events in 1947 because it indicates he has an excellent eye and memory for details.

Marcel likes to talk about the strange “mathematics-like” symbols on the I-beams, but I find the extraordinary properties of the “foil”-like materials more compelling. The symbols could have been faked by someone trying to simulate a crash site, but I doubt, even today, if the properties of the materials (as described by Dr. Marcel and his father, intelligence officer of the base) could be duplicated.

Dr. Marcel has no doubt personally that the Roswell debris was from a crashed extraterrestrial spacecraft. Listening to him I began to feel the same way, although I still have serious doubts that are not related to Dr. Marcel. They’re based on new discoveries in astrophysics which suggest that human-level civilizations and Earth-like planets are so complex and unlikely that even in a Galaxy of 300 billion stars we could be the only custodians of high intelligence.

While smart aliens still might exist elsewhere they would need exotic transportation concepts (e.g., wormholes) to come here from other galaxies or even other universes, and would be way, way too sophisticated for clumsy Roswell-style crashes in thunderstorms.

The question is: Can we reconcile new insights about the low probability of Earth-style civilizations based on current astrophysics with Dr. Marcel’s and others’ observations of apparent extraterrestrial technologies and capabilities?

Here are two options (others are possible):
Option I. Dr. Marcel is right!
Roswell is due to an ET spacecraft. This implies that astrophysical cautions about high intelligence in our Galaxy are overestimated and high-tech civilizations exist elsewhere in the Milky Way. It also indicates that extremely advanced civilizations from other galaxies or universes also probably exist and we can expect visits from them, if they aren’t already here.

Option II. Dr. Marcel is wrong.
Roswell debris is not extraterrestrial and thus is probably due to a secret military project. If other suspected UFO crash sites are likewise not ET spacecraft it’s likely that, based on astrophysical insights, we are alone in the Galaxy. Other ultra-advanced extragalactic or extra-universal civilizations may exist and already be here, but would have little in common with us because they are tens- or hundreds- (or more) of thousands of years ahead of us.

Based on non-secret information, my evaluation of the situation is that both options are still potentially viable. And we need more data to resolve them. (Notice that in either case, we expect extremely advanced civilizations to be here, but they would not be expected to contact us directly.)

A dual track of activities like the Citizen Hearing on Disclosure as well as astrophysical studies that illuminate the origin and development of high intelligence (e.g., extrasolar planets) will eventually reveal these cosmic mysteries to everyone.

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Jun 26 2013

Award-Winning British Astrophysicist Throws Cold Water on Smart Aliens

Dr. Paul Murdin of the Institute of Astronomy at Cambridge University, recently published his provocative book, Are We Being Watched (2013). Murdin added the subtitle, “The Search for Life in the Cosmos,” not so much to distinguish it from recent NSA controversies (j/k), but to focus on an issue of great cosmic importance: Are there actually intelligent space aliens out there?

Despite the fact that our Galaxy has hundreds of billions of stars and planets almost everywhere, it isn’t obvious we have company, according to Murdin, who previously identified the first stellar black hole (Cygnus X-1) in our Galaxy.
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Murdin, a high-energy astrophysicist who received the 2012 Royal Astronomical Society Award and in 1988 was awarded an OBE (Order of the British Empire), reports doing a one-eighty during the writing of his book and now takes a doubtful view of space aliens, especially those with big brains.

Murdin’s book is interesting in a variety of ways, including that it is strongly consistent with two key trends. The first, a megatrend, is that interest in space aliens (as indicated by science, the media, etc.) increases rapidly as we approach a Maslow Window; Click:Citizen Hearing on Disclosure Supports Maslow Forecasts.”

The second trend is a growing science-based view — based on new science about the Earth, Solar System, and our Galaxy — that we may indeed be alone in our Galaxy; Click: “Is Earth Unique? What this “Benchmark Moment” Means for ETs and our Future

Murdin rightly disposes of the Drake Equation, which astronomers have tried to use for ~50 years to estimate the number (N) of high-tech civilizations in our Galaxy, by quoting ASU physicist Paul Davies who, at a 2011 conference in London, described N as “utterly moot,” and concludes that:

It is an unsatisfactory position to be in after fifty years of hard work…

It’s interesting that Murdin chooses to not mention the the well-known ideas of Richard Gott (the Copernican Argument) or Andrew Watson (anthropic model for development of intelligence) to illuminate N. They support Murdin’s bottomline that N is most likely very small.

I was surprised that Murdin included a description of the Roswell UFO story in a book primarily about astrobiology, and then surprised again when he casually dismissed it (“inconsistencies,” “hoaxes”). Actually some of the compelling testimony associated with Roswell and the strange history of government cover-ups (even self-admitted!) to the present day, make Roswell of continuing interest — although not necessarily in the context of ETs.

The reason is that Murdin’s and others’ science-based belief in small N argues against accidental crashes by clumsy space aliens. Click:New Science and Prospects for Visits By Extraterrestrials.”

Murdin saves his best stuff for the last chapter when he admits that,

I changed my mind as I wrote this book … I began … thinking on general grounds that it was impossible for us to be the only intelligent life in the Cosmos. I was rather surprised to find … that it is conceivable that intelligent life on Earth is, to all intents and purposes, unique.

In the stimulating spirit of the approaching 1960s-style Maslow Window and especially of the Rare Earth Hypothesis, he leaves the door open slightly but continues to point to very low N:

If there is complex life elsewhere , it would seem that it is very rare, quite likely not as advanced as humans (possibly hardly advanced at all), and probably a very long way away indeed.

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Jan 05 2012

Is Earth Unique? What this “Benchmark Moment” Means for ETs and Our Future

Astronomer John Gribbin (Alone in the Universe; 2011) uses the latest astrophysics to make an impressive scientific case that we are alone in our Galaxy.

This is despite several hundred planets currently known to exist around nearby stars, and despite NASA’s recent discovery of Earth-size planets orbiting Sun-like stars, as well as the potential for billions of such worlds in our Galaxy of almost one trillion stars.

Even Gort and Klaatu (from “The Day the Earth Stood Still“; 1951) could learn a trick or two from the ultra-ETs — suggested by current astrophysics and physics — that might be visiting us today.
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Despite this “benchmark moment in the history of science” according to Berkeley astronomer Geoffrey Marcy (Wall Street Journal, 12/21/11), Gribbin traces the origin of human intelligence and civilization from the Big Bang to today, and shows that the odds of our development are so small that we are most likely the first high civilization to arise in the Milky Way.

For example, Gribbin points to the origin of the Moon by an impact with a Mars-size body over 4 billion years ago as a pivotal and yet very dicey event. The impact itself had to avoid destroying Earth’s spin (as apparently happened at Venus) and yet excavate and launch into space enough material to form an unusually large Moon that could gravitationally anchor Earth’s axial tilt. Without such a Moon our rotation axis would wobble chaotically due to tugs by Jupiter, Venus and other bodies, and undermine the long-term climate stability conducive to the development of high intelligence and civilization.

Last summer Howard A. Smith of the Harvard Center for Astrophysics also independently found ETs to be scarce in the Galaxy — in American Scientist (July-August, 2011) — as did I last March: Click HERE. I used an updated, anthropic version of the Drake Equation to show that unless a high-tech civilization lives for at least millions of years (highly unlikely) we are probably alone in the Galaxy.

However, other scientists hold contrary views. For example, as I noted in October, 2010:

Following scientific meetings in 2009 at the Vatican on Extraterrestrials, the prestigious UK Royal Society has had not just one, but 2 scientific meetings in 2010 (in January and just last week) to consider if exterrestrials are here on Earth and how to properly greet them.

This current growth of interest in ETs and Earth-like planets is part of a multi-century trend recognized by 21stCenturyWaves.com. It extends back to at least the 19th century and has presaged and figured prominently in each transformative Maslow Window since that time.

For example, just after the financial Panic of 1893 that ultimately led to “Panama fever” and “pole mania” of the early 20th century Maslow Window, it featured the founding of Lowell Observatory in Arizona to study evidence for a highly intelligent canal-building civilization on Mars. Early in the Apollo Maslow Window, Frank Drake began the radio search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) almost a decade before humans first landed on the Moon in 1969.
For more see: “State of the Wave: ETs Surge to Center Stage.”

If we take Gribbin’s conclusion seriously for a moment, it has a number of intriguing implications for the cosmos, ETs, and our future:

1. If we are the first lofty civilization to develop in our Galaxy then radio SETI should not expect success, and we will never see interstellar Von Neumann machines in our vicinity. But the good news was envisioned by Marshall Savage in The Millennial Project (1992):

The stars are our destiny…Strewn like diamonds…All these treasures are free for the taking. There is no guardian genie. There are no alien owners to be bargained with, no evil empires to be vanquished…The galaxy is free and open now in a way it never will be again.

2. If there are no native ETs in our Galaxy, then UFOs may come from very far away — other galaxies or even other universes — and will require exotic transportation concepts (e.g., wormholes) to arrive here. This is a future that could begin tomorrow or may already be in progress, and was imagined — both the good and bad news — by Deardorff et al. in JBIS (2005):

While the ‘We are alone’ solution to Fermi’s paradox was once a seemingly valid one, this answer is now incompatible with the infinite universe and random self-sampling assumption consistent with inflation theory. We thus find ourselves in the curious position that current cosmological theory predicts that we should be experiencing extraterrestrial visitation…

The huge technological head start of the presumed ETs would still come as a great shock to many … The implication that we would be powerless relative to their presumed capabilities and evolutionary advantage may be most unwelcome … science would have difficulty coming to terms with the situation.

3. If there are no ETs from anywhere, then UFOs may originate from covert, terrestrial sources (e.g., secret military aircraft) and we have arrived in Jacques Vallee’s intriguing world of Messenger’s of Deception (1979):

UFOs may be a control system…there is a genuine technology at work here, causing the effects witnesses are describing. But I am not ready to jump to the conclusion that it is … some kind of “spacemen.”

The social, political, and religious consequences of the (UFO) experience are enormous … over the timespan of a generation… Is the public being deceived and led to false conclusions by someone who is using UFO witnesses to propagate … social conditioning?

and

4. Gribbin’s conclusion scientifically elevates human civilization to the pinnacle of the Galaxy which has important implications for both space colonization and theology:

My view is that while life itself may be common, the kind of intelligent, technological civilization that has emerged on Earth may be unique, at least in our Milky Way Galaxy…

Whether or not you see the hand of God in any of this, it would mean that we are the most technnologically advanced civilization in the Universe, and the only witnesses with an understanding of the origin and nature of the Universe itself.

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Dec 28 2011

Newton, Jupiter, and the 2012 Prophecies

Last month the Los Angeles Times (J. Rubenstein; 11/6/11) was cackling about the fact that doomsday just never seems to come. You’d think — given the alternative — they’d be celebrating.

In 1974, The Jupiter Effect never let bad science get in the way of an exciting story.
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Rubenstein, a MacArthur Fellow and history professor, for some reason delights in picking on Harold Camping, the rather dull Christian radio personality. Camping’s doomsday forecast for October 21 didn’t materialize — surprise !! surprise !! — so Rubenstein launches into a even duller lecture.

Doesn’t it say somewhere that Jesus will come “when you do not expect him…” (Luke 12:39-40 (NIV)), “like a thief in the night…” (1 Thessalonians 5:2-4 (NIV)). So why get so excited about a guy like Camping who can’t possibly be right about a specific time based on his own rules (i.e. the Bible)?

Rubenstein also mentions the formerly celebrated “Jupiter Effect” of 1974. Although Camping was presumably talking about the actual, biblical end of days, the Jupiter guys were just expecting a big earthquake near Los Angeles in 1982 — which didn’t occur.

The author of The Jupiter Effect was astronomer John Gribbin who since then has written a number of good scientific books. His latest is Alone in the Universe — Why Our Planet is Unique, which I’ll comment on soon. Expanding popular interest in Earth-like planets, extraterrestrial beings, and UFOs is a signal that we’re approaching the next Maslow Window.

After the Jupiter Effect, Rubenstein does mention the end-time prophecies associated with the Mayan calendar in 2012 — which the professional astronomers do not support — and even the 11th century Crusades (!), however he leaves out one of the most interesting forecasts.

One of the greatest scientists of all time — Isaac Newton (1642-1727) — whose transformative insights into classical mechanics, gravitation, mathematics, and optics set us on the road to modern science, was also very interested in Bible prophecy. And unlike Copernicus, who finally published his Sun-centered theory just before his death in 1543, Newton decided to keep his controversial biblical calculations secret until after his death.

After decades of study, Newton calculated that our current world would end in 2060 when Christ would return to establish his new kingdom. According to an authority on Newton, Stephen D. Snobelen:

The year 800 is a significant one in history, as it is the year Charlemagne was crowned emperor of Rome in the west by Pope Leo III at St. Peter’s in Rome. Since Newton believed that the 1260 years corresponded to the duration of the corruption of the Church, he added 1260 to 800 A.D. and arrived at the date 2060 for the “fall of Babylon” or cessation of the apostate Church.

For more details click Here.

Without necessarily buying into Newton’s chronology, it is interesting that 2060 — Newton’s date for the Battle of Armageddon — is about one decade before the projected culmination of the second Maslow Window of the 21st century; i.e., 2060 is similar to 1960 (early in the Apollo Maslow Window), just 2 years before the Cuban Missile Crisis almost started WW III.

Best-selling author David Flynn has suggested that 2013 is a more likely date than Newton’s 2060 “based on the founding of Rome and the methodology of Daniel’s prophecy.”

While 21stCenturyWaves.com does not know when the current world will end, both dates — Newton’s 2060 and Flynn’s 2013 — are similar in terms of long wave timing; i.e., both dates occur at the beginning of projected Maslow Windows, including the late 21st century Window (around 2060) and the next Maslow Window near mid-decade. Over the last 200+ years, these are times when significant wars or major conflicts — including the Cuban Missile Crisis — have occurred as the world approached a self-organized critical state. Both times would be consistent with a major Armageddon-style battle of biblical proportions.

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May 17 2011

The Klaatu Effect Signals an Accelerating Cultural Focus on Space

Recently, the Wall Street Journal (5/6/11; J. Hookway) featured a grabby, partly tongue-in-cheek page 1 piece about strange events in Asia. “Alien Signtings Go Into Hyperdrive” — this time in Thailand — reminded me of the Klaatu Effect.

In the 1950s traffic was so bad in Washington that not even an interstellar spacecraft could find a place to park. Apparently, now the problem’s spread to Asia.
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According to the Mutual UFO Network in Colorado,

Since the slump in the Western banking system in 2008, UFO sightings among Asia’s fast-growing economies have accelerated. Suspicious UFOs have shut down airports in China, buzzed resorts in Borneo and lti up the night sky in Myanmar.

However, the action in Thailand is strangely familiar. For example, dozens of UFO enthusiasts — e.g., medical students, interior decorators, others — routinely camp out at their own personal “Stargate” to experience UFOs and their effects. One participant explains that,

When we meditate we can understand what they’re trying to tell us — we feel it through our bodies and we understand.

An American medical doctor in Thailand says he had his first UFO encounter in 1996 on the phone with an alien from Mars. The ET said “not to worry about the phone bill.” Now he sees them all the time.

They warn of natural disasters such as the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami or political upheavals …

Other UFO investigators in Thailand believe they communicate with UFO aliens telepathically, and one army sergeant claims to have channeled ETs.

Then an alien voice spoke to us through the sergeant and told us he was there to help human beings reach the next level of development.

This is a replay of a UFO-related subculture that developed in the U.S. and elsewhere during the 1950s and 1960s, before and during the Apollo Maslow Window. Although seemingly with loose screws and easily dismissed, you can read about their cultural impact in computer scientist Jacques Vallee’s intriguing book, Messengers of Deception.

It suggests we may be approaching an affluent, ebullient time with a cultural focus on space, not seen since the 1960s.

In the 1950s, the medical doctor above would have been called a “contactee.” Alleged telepathic communications and warnings of threatening natural and political events were common. From 1953 until 1973, the famous contactee George Van Tassel, who was reportedly a flight test engineer for Howard Hughes, organized large, public UFO conventions — featuring all of the above — in the Southern California desert at Giant Rock (near Landers, CA).

During the early 1960s UFOs became so respectable that one contactee, Gabriel Green, ran for the U.S. Senate from California and received 171,000 votes in the primaries (M. Sachs, The UFO Encyclopedia, 1980).

About 5 years ago while casually perusing the UFOCAT (Center for UFO Studies), a computerized list of UFO sightings from 1946 to 2000, I noticed that UFO sightings were reported worldwide, including Europe, the UK, and North America. Athough they were plentiful from 1947 through the 1950s and 1960s, they petered out after 1973. The timing is coincident with the 1960s Apollo Maslow Window and the preceding decade.

Assuming the UFOCAT was accurate and complete, I still didn’t know if people were actually seeing more UFOs before 1973 than after, or if media reports were artificially stimulating the phenomenon. But I unofficially started calling this the “Klaatu Effect,” after the magnificent space alien in the original movie, The Day The Earth Stood Still (1951).

The current Klaatu Effect involves more than Bay Area-style UFO enthusiasts in Asia. For example, Dr. Lynne Kitei, a well-known physician and educator, discussed UFOs recently on Fox News Channel. She’s played a major role drawing attention to the extraordinary Phoenix Lights UFO sightings of March, 1997. They have been compared to one of the most intriguing mass witness UFO events ever: the Washington National Airport UFO sightings of 1952, when reportedly several UFOs flew in formation over the White House on consecutive weekends.

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Oct 14 2010

State of the Wave: ETs Surge to Center Stage

In the 1950s this might have been called a UFO “Wave”, but today it just appears that interest in extraterrestrials – some of whom might even be coming here – is the rage from China to London and of course to Hollywood.

Does our growing global fascination with extraterrestrials suggest the new international Space Age is just around the corner?
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A Chinese Astronomer Says Yes
Wang Sichao, a veteran astronomer of the Purple Mountain Observatory of the Chinese Academy of Sciences said flat out in August that “extraterrestrial beings do exist and their UFOs have the ability to visit our earth,” (Peoples’ Daily Online, 8/23/10). His statements are as unequivocal as former Apollo Moon-walking astronaut Edgar Mitchell, who has claimed for years that “…we have been visited on this planet and the UFO phenomenon is real … It has been covered up by governments for quite some time now,” (7/28/2008, ABC News).

However, Wang believes that Stephen Hawking’s recent warnings that their arrival would be a bad day for humanity are premature.

“If they are friendly to us, we can promote the human beings’ civilization through exchange and cooperation with them. If they are not, as long as we prepared for their invasion, we can beat them back based on their weaknesses. After all, they are life entities, they would show their slips,”

Obviously the professor is an optimist. Anyone with the technology to travel across interstellar distances could also make us wish they hadn’t. The classic Twilight Zone episode “To Serve Man” comes to mind!

Wang’s public statements come in the wake of 8 reported UFO sightings in China since June. For example, last month an airport in Inner Mongolia was shut down for over an hour because a UFO — reportedly seen both visually and on radar — was buzzing the field.

Unknowns Lurk Everywhere
UFO sightings are not limited to China — they appear almost everywhere. A quick scan of the Mutual UFO Network website, a 40+-year-old, science-based organization, indicates that current aerial unknowns range from a silent boomerang in Boise to agile cigars in Australia.

Over the last 100+ years, a global surge in UFO/ET interest has presaged and figured prominently in each transformative Maslow Window.

For example, the ultra-ebullient Peary/Panama/T. Rosevelt Maslow Window (~1901-13) followed the founding of Lowell Observatory in Arizona to probe the “canals” on Mars. Lowell saw the canals as convincing evidence for a global Macro Engineering Project built by intelligent Martians. His public loved it and in 1907 the Wall Street Journal actually announced “…the proof by astronomical observations…that conscious, intelligent life exists upon the planet Mars,”

Likewise, early in the 1960s Apollo Maslow Window, astronomer Frank Drake inaugurated the famous Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) using a radio telescope in West Virginia. Later he and Carl Sagan ebulliently asserted that a million advanced civilizations might exist in our galaxy, and in 2010 Drake reiterated his ebullient belief that it’s “only a matter of time” before we detect them. Before aligning exclusively with radio SETI, Sagan wrote a stunning, but currently obscure scientific paper (in 1962) in which he argued that advanced ETs had already visited Earth using interstellar spacecraft aided by relativistic time dilation.

If this century-plus pattern holds, we should expect global interest in ETs, UFOs, Earth-like planets, and human expansion into the cosmos to accelerate as we approach the new international Space Age around 2015.

Is Life Abundant in the Galaxy?
It’s not just UFOs that are grabbing the global public, it’s anything to do with extraterrestrials. For example, Chandra Wickramasinghe, Director of the Cardiff Centre for Astrobiology, flatly asserts that current astrophysical research “overwhelmingly” supports his theory that human life started outside of Earth; i.e., that all humans are, in fact, “aliens from outer space.”

In his recent article in the International Journal of Astrobiology, Wickramasinghe argues that the spectral signatures of interstellar dust clouds are due to “biologically derived aromatic molecules.” Thus major components of interstellar materials are actually “… degradation products of biology,” suggesting life is not rare in our galaxy.

The Royal Society Seeks Extraterrestrials
Not to be left out — following scientific meetings in 2009 at the Vatican on Extraterrestrials — the prestigious UK Royal Society has had not just one, but 2 scientific meetings in 2010 (in January and just last week) to consider if exterrestrials are here on Earth and how to properly greet them.

At the Royal Society, Professor Paul Davies of Arizona State University suggested that, contrary to the approach of radio SETI, “We need to give up the notion that ET is sending us some sort of customised message and take a new approach.”

This flurry of ET-related scientific meetings, astrophysical research, and UFO sightings occurs in the context of the exciting recent discovery of the first extrasolar planet with the potential to be genuinely Earth-like. It orbits the red dwarf star Gliese 581 and is nearby — only 20 light years away. If advanced Gliesan’s ever existed, they should be here by now.

What if ET Really Phones Home?
And finally, to complete the pop culture scene, the new movie Skyline opens November 12. It features UFOs and extraterrestrials on Earth and a Rapture-like scene that’s unforgettable. As in the 1960s Space Age, cinema is likely to play a major role in the 2015 Maslow Window.

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May 31 2009

10 Spiritual Connections of the Human Exploration of Space

As we celebrate the 400th anniversary of Galileo’s first astronomical use of the telescope, we’re also reminded of his serious troubles with the Vatican regarding the theological implications of his observations.

Given the international focus on Galileo’s example, plus the fact that 94% of Americans believe in God or a Higher Power — see Gallup, 5/8/08 — and that such powerful symbols and belief systems operate on at least the subconscious level to influence our perceptions of physical reality —

It’s of particular interest now — in the spirit of Galileo — to consider 10 spiritual connections of the human exploration of space.

One of the most important photographs ever taken — Apollo 8’s Earth-rise from lunar orbit — continues to subconsciously encourage the spirit of human space exploration. Click apollo08_earthrise.jpg.

10. Galileo and the Spirit of Science: This is a special week in the often-turbulent 400 year history of Galileo-Vatican relations: The Niels Stensen Foundation, a Jesuit-run cultural center in Florence, Italy has assembled world-class experts this week (May 26-30, 2009) to re-examine the historical, philosophical, and theological aspects of the Galileo affair.

“For the first time after 400 years, members of the Vatican Observatory, the Pontifical Council for Culture, the Sciences Academy and many other Institutions, that were historically involved in the Galileo affair, are among the experts invited… (to show) how ‘recent scientific and historical research’ might alleviate the ‘tension and conflict’ still clouding the relationship between the church and science.”

Four hundred years ago Galileo actually set us on our course to space exploration and colonization via his telescopic observations of the Moon, Sun, and planets, and his famous experiments with falling bodies that were spectacularly verified in the vacuum of the Moon’s surface during Apollo 15 (see Video).

In particular, Galileo became the “Father of Modern Science” through his spirit of honest intellectual inquiry, and especially because of his insistence on the primacy of observation in the scientific process. He risked his life for these principles –courageously defying powerful authority figures in favor of observations and experimentation. As we approach the 2015 Maslow Window and contemplate human expansion into the cosmos and related science issues of global importance, we would do well to emulate Galileo’s example.

9. The Overview Effect: Frank White’s profound 1987 book has become the unofficial philosophy of human space exploration.

White believes that as we move into space we are creating “a series of new civilizations that are the next logical steps in the evolution of human society and human consciousness.” And in addition to our own expansion, we are “performing a vital function for the universe as a whole.”

All astronauts are profoundly affected by their trips into space but their destination also has a large impact, in fact Gene Cernan (Apollo 17) thinks there are two different space programs: Earth orbit and beyond. In Earth orbit, astronauts feel small compared to the stunningly beautiful Earth and are impressed by the lack of visible political boundaries and the interconnectedness of Earth’s systems. According to White, “The lunar astronaut sees the Earth as small and feels the awesome grandeur of the entire universe.” Michael Collins (Apollo 11) felt that “100,000 miles out” is a perspective that world leaders should experience. Gene Cernan (Apollo 17) had a religious experience while standing on the Moon; what he saw was “too much logic, too much purpose — it was just too beautiful to have happened by accident…”

White believes that the lunar astronaut “begins to sense that an underlying purpose may lie behind it all.” Comparing the symbolism of the famous Earth-rise picture taken from Moon orbit on Apollo 8 (December 1968) to the cross, White suggests that “To millions of Christians all over the planet, the cross is a sign of unity in spite of deep divisions of race, language, and political beliefs. Because symbols work at a subconscious level…it makes sense that this new symbol (lunar Earth-rise) might be having a quiet, though dramatic effect too.”

8. The Noetic Sciences of Apollo 14’s Edgar Mitchell: MIT Doctor of Aeronautics and Astronautics and former U.S. Navy test pilot, Mitchell was the lunar module pilot on the Apollo 14 mission to Fra Mauro along with Alan Shepard, the first American in space.

Famous for his interests in consciousness and paranormal phenomena, Mitchell conducted private ESP experiments with friends on Earth while returning from the Moon.

Mitchell also had a religious experience while returning from the Moon, “The presence of divinity became almost palpable, and I knew that life in the universe was not just an accident based on random processes…The knowledge came to me directly.”

In 1973, he co-founded the Institute of Noetic Sciences (Petaluma, CA) to generate interest and conduct research into extended human capacities (e.g., creativity, meditation), integral health and healing (e.g., mind-body medicine, placebo effects), and emerging worldviews (e.g., spiritual awareness, science of wisdom).

Mitchell’s synthesis of science and spirituality in the Institute of Noetic Sciences provides an impressive example of how personal experiences in space can powerfully expand consciousness. This trend should accelerate as we approach the 2015 Maslow Window and more space travelers — government as well as private — experience the cosmos first-hand.

7. New Earths and the Gaia Hypothesis: Planet Earth is the most complex, awe-inspiring system known in the Universe today. From its mysterious magnetic field – core connection, to its earthquake- and volcano-riddled drifting continents and oceans and its chaotic atmospheric and climate processes, as well as its finely-tuned cosmic connections (e.g. Sun, Moon, Jupiter), not to mention its stunning biosphere and the presence of the highest form of life known in the entire Universe: humans the Earth really stands out in the cosmos!

Because of Earth’s proximity, complexity, habitability, durability, and cyclic regularity, the Earth itself has always inspired wonder and even worship, and for some this continues today.

During the ebullient 1960s Maslow Window, a British scientist — James Lovelock –working with NASA on techniques to detect life on Mars, proposed the Gaia Hypothesis, named after the Greek goddess of the Earth. Lovelock sketched Gaia as “a complex entity involving the Earth’s biosphere, atmosphere, oceans, and soil; the totality constituting a feedback or cybernetic system which seeks an optimal physical and chemical environment for life on this planet.” This controversial idea has been criticized by a variety of scientists including Stephen Jay Gould and Richard Dawkins. For example, the “Strong Gaia” form of the model — where living systems make the environment more stable, for the purpose of enabling the flourishing of all life — has been criticized as being untestable and therefore unscientific. This speculative form of Gaia is adopted by some as a spiritual doctrine.

NASA’s interest in the Earth has been to study geological, geophysical, atmospheric, and space processes and to try to understand how they interact to produce Earth’s complex environment, including its changes (e.g., climate studies). More recently NASA has also focused on the discovery of planets orbiting nearby stars, with special interest in finding Earth-like worlds. The PlanetQuest site at JPL indicates that presently we know of 347 exosolar planets orbiting 293 stars, with a total of 0 known Earth-like planets; Kepler was recently launched to search for new Earths.

An even more robust scientific mission — the Terrestrial Planet Finder concept — is currently under study. In 2001, the National Research Council explained the motivation for and the high priority of finding Earth-like planets: “The discovery of life on another planet is potentially one of the most important scientific advances of this century, let alone this decade, and it would have enormous philosophical implications.” As we approach the 2015 Maslow Window, the detection and exploration of Earth-like planets and the search for extraterrestrial life — the two fundamental drivers of human expansion into the cosmos — will become even more riveting as raw human exploration passions, in the spirit of Apollo, begin to engulf the global public.

6. Astronauts as the Prophets of Space: According to comparative sociologist Fred L. Polak (The Image of the Future, 1961), writing during the 1960s Apollo Maslow Window, the Jewish prophets are the “Founding Fathers of Utopia” and bring renewed faith. They can foresee the future and respond to the challenge of the times.

Likewise, astronauts serve as uniquely credible messengers from space to the people. According to White, “Astronauts fit into the mythical subconscious archetypes of the gods and heroes of old…who perform feats of daring no one else is able or willing to do.” Because space is a unique, holistic experience, it cannot be totally expressed by words alone. Thus only astronauts can really communicate the space “truth” to others. Their implicit promise is of a utopian civilization among the stars.

5. Space as the Promised Land: In Genesis, God promises to give Canaan (The Promised Land) to the descendants of Abraham. As long as the Israelites keep the Covenant they can remain in peace and security.

According to former NASA historian Roger Launius (2005), the Apollo program has similar elements, including “articles of faith and a theology of salvation that allowed humanity to reach beyond Earth and populate the cosmos … The promise of a utopian Zion on a new world, coupled with immortality for the species resonates through every fiber of the space exploration community.”

Shortly after I joined General Dynamics in San Diego, Bill Strobl — who worked on EMPIRE in the early 1960s with Krafft Ehricke for NASA in Huntsville, and in the 1980s directed the GD Advanced Launch System (ALS) program — assured me that Wernher von Braun and the German rocket scientists fully intended to “open the planetary worlds to mankind,” and that even their routine mutual interactions consistently reflected that lofty purpose.

4. Raiders of the Lost Ark: According to biblical accounts, the Ark of the Covenant was a sacred container built at God’s direction to hold two tablets with the 10 Commandments (the Covenant). The Jews, and later the Gentiles, are promised the blessings of God as long as they honor the Covenant. The Ark’s is a powerful tool, as was demonstrated during the parting of the Jordan River and during the battle of Jericho.

The Space “covenant” is the promise of spectacular discovery and adventure in space, including the specific, powerful benefits flowing from new science and technology and the expectation of space colonization itself. In space exploration we control our own fate, although if we ignore space we cease to receive many of its key benefits. While space and God are certainly not synonymous, numerous biblical references to the sky or nonterrestrial topics (e.g., the “Kingdom of Heaven“; “My kingdom is not of this world.”) have created at least subconscious connections in many minds.

The Ark of the Covenant was the focus of the monumentally popular 1981 movie “Raiders of the Lost Ark” with Harrison Ford. This is an example of how knowledge of the Covenant and other prominent biblical themes is not limited to scholars or church members, but is now an integral aspect of popular culture. Thus it is clear why subconscious (and conscious) links between biblical concepts and space are sociologically powerful.

3. Messianic Expectations: Both Christians and Jews expect their Messiah to appear at some unpredictable time in the future and to establish his Kingdom on Earth. For example, traditional Judaism expects the Messiah’s activities on Earth to include an end to wickedness, sin and heresy, and a reward to the righteous.

Perhaps the most obvious space parallel is contact with intelligent extraterrestrial beings. ETs that visit Earth will be much more technologically advanced than we are, and their technologies will seem like magic. Most people believe they exist and that it’s only a matter of time until they arrive (or return) and dramatically change the course of human history.

ETs have been envisioned in a variety of ways. Astronomer Carl Sagan was particularly enthusiastic about the spectacular benefits that ET visits might bring, especially in the technology and science arenas; e.g., see his novel and movie “Contact.” On the other hand, UFO abduction accounts as recounted by Jacobs and others suggest a darker side; this view has reached popular culture through movies like “Fire in the Sky” (1993). “The Mothman Prophesies” (2002) and “The Day the Earth Stood Still” (2008) — a movie and sequel apparently influenced by the long wave — also portray ETs as threatening.

Much more popular was Spielberg’s “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial“; released in 1982, it became the most successful movie ever up to that time. Although this ET didn’t share much about technology, he did become “the subject of analogies for Jesus.”

Indeed, as we approach the 2015 Maslow Window, when Moonbases, international competition in space, and the possibility of alien life, begin to take center stage again, the public may insist that all information about UFOs be revealed by government sources. As the 2015 economic boom elevates the public to higher Maslow hierarchy levels, the desire to explore and know the truth increases.

2. The Apocalyptic Writings: Throughout the Old and New Testaments, predictions are made of extreme disasters on Earth. For example, in Isaiah it is forecast that the Earth will be reduced to a desert (13:9); “What will you do…when from far off, destruction comes (10:3).

Revelation alludes to stunning celestial and terrestrial effects: “The stars of the sky fell onto the Earth…the sky disappeared like a scroll rolling up… (6:13); plus “There was a violent earthquake…the Sun went black…the Moon turned red as blood (6: 12-17).

From a 21st Century perspective, a few astrophysical effects suggest themselves. For example, former Livermore nuclear physicist Dr. John Hardy (1993) suggests that a large cosmic dust cloud colliding with the Solar System (including the Earth) and blocking sunlight could produce the solar and lunar effects. “Falling stars” suggest the cloud has a supply of meteors, and the large earthquake implies “a large asteroid. A massive system is required, if the crust of the Earth is to be disturbed.”

It’s interesting that last year scientists reported archeological evidence that the impact of a half mile-wide asteroid caused the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, as recorded in Genesis 19.

As we approach the 2015 Maslow Window, public attention is again — as it was one long wave ago in the 1950s just before Sputnik was launched and NASA was born — being attracted plans for large-scale human operations in space, including how to mitigate a potential atomic weapon-style disaster associated with an impact of a football field-size asteroid or comet. Apollo astronaut Rusty Schweickart has formed the B612 Foundation and is working with the United Nations and individual countries to draw international attention to the space impact threat as well as to begin discussions on how to globally coordinate planetary defense.

1. Ray Bradbury and the Eucharist: Celebrated novelist Ray Bradbury is explicit about space as a religious experience, “Too many of us have lost the passion and emotion of the remarkable things we’ve done in space. Let us not tear up the future, but rather again heed the creative metaphors that render space travel a religious experience…”

According to Launius (2005), Bradbury regards a space launch as a personally transformative experience. “Like the Eucharist, the ritual of the launch offers a recommitment to the endeavor and a symbolic cleansing of the communicant’s soul. The experience … is both thrilling and sanctifying.”

Equally importantly, Launius (2005) reminds us that “Apollo’s history has also been depicted as a missed opportunity for the next step in human evolution.” Indeed, Apollo can be thought of as an analog for Bradbury’s concept of the personally transformative space launch, where Apollo represents the transformative “launch” of humanity into space — which has faltered since then.

It’s intriguing that macroeconomic data and historical trends — over the last 200 years — point to the decade between 2015 and 2025 as the resurrection of the 1960s. Indeed, there is every reason to expect that the long-awaited 2015 Maslow Window will feature unprecedented space and technology spectaculars with a Camelot-like zeitgeist.

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Apr 19 2009

Images of the First Space Age Point to the Future

Continuing last week’s mini-tour of Space Age sites associated with the 1960s Apollo Maslow Window, one has to be especially impressed with the spectacular space icons of southern New Mexico and Arizona, and how they point to the approaching, new Space Age near 2015.

The elegant McMath-Pierce Solar Telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory models Camelot-style scientific ebullience. Click mcmath1.jpg.

Alamogordo, NM — just up the road from the White Sands National Monument and Holloman Air Force Base (currently with 2 squadrons of F-22 Raptors) and at the base of the Sacramento Mountains, home of the National Solar and Apache Point observatories — is the site of the New Mexico Museum of Space History.

Boom-town Alamogordo, NM hosts a superb space museum. Click sonmmuseum.jpg.

The Space Museum commemorates everything from Goddard’s early rocket experiments near Roswell to a mockup of the International Space Station. Also included is the International Space Hall of Fame, which honors individuals who’ve made key contributions to the exploration of space. To emerge from this place not excited about the past, present, and future of humans in space…you’d have to be from another planet!

The John P. Stapp Air and Space Park honors the Space Hall of Fame inductee and amazing aeromedical pioneer of the 1950s. Click stapppark.jpg.

As one of the initial superheroes of the 1st Space Age, John Paul Stapp, M.D., Ph.D. is probably not as famous as he should be today. In 1954 he set a world land speed record of 632 mph and then stopped in 1.4 seconds — pulling just over 20 g’s in the process.

In 1954, The Sonic Wind No. 1 rocket sled propelled Dr. Stapp to 632 mph. Click sonicwind.jpg.

Dr. Stapp was initially concerned about the relation of g forces to pilot injuries during plane crashes and later applied his knowledge to car crashes. For his almost unbelievable rocket sled runs he became known as “The Fastest Man on Earth”, made the cover of Time magazine, and subjected himself to a record-setting 46.2 g’s!

Dr. Stapp shows that pulling 20+ g’s is not as easy as it sounds…! Click stappstop.jpg.

Dr. Stapp, who retired as a Colonel in the USAF, also proved that for all the cracked ribs, mild hemorraging, and broken wrists that he experienced, it didn’t affect his longevity one bit. Amazingly, he passed away in his Alamogordo home in 1999, at the age of 89.

About one long wave ago (~ 56 years) Dr. Stapp’s experiments paved the way for high-performance air- and spacecraft of the 1960s Apollo Maslow Window. Today’s analogous technology development phase for the 2015 Maslow Window is continuing in the International Space Station, among space entrepreneurs (e.g., Virgin Galactic), at national space agencies, and elsewhere.

For example, the current headquarters of Spaceport America is in Las Cruces. According to their website, construction of a road to the Spaceport site, about 45 miles north of Las Cruces, should be completed soon.

The remains of this V-2 were recovered at White Sands after testing. Click v2.jpg.

The first Space Age began shortly after W. W. II with test launches of the German V-2 rocket at the White Sands Missile Range, also known as the “Birthplace of the Race to Space.” Some may remember the historic first, and so far only, landing of a Shuttle at White Sands by Gordon Fullerton and Jack Lousma (STS-3) in 1982. The local pop culture space connections also include famous rumors of a UFO landing at Holloman AFB in 1971 (or before) as dramatized by Rod Serling in the 1974 documentary video “UFOs: Past, Present, and Future.”

The XQ-2 Drone beckons to the Tombaugh IMAX Dome Theater and Planetarium. Click xq-2.jpg.

The Tombaugh Theater and Planetarium sits between the Space History Museum and the new Alamogordo campus of the New Mexico State University. As a teenager I met Professor Tombaugh and was invited to his home in Las Cruces during a family vacation (we lived in Michigan) for a peek through his 16″ telescope. The issue of the Journal of the Association of Lunar and Planetary Observers that he autographed for me is understandably still one of my prized possessions.

On the campus of New Mexico State University, the Tombaugh Observatory honors the former NMSU professor and discoverer of Pluto. Click tombaugh.jpg.

Professor Tombaugh was probably most famous as the discoverer of Pluto, but was also a long-time observer of Mars and played an important role developing scientific rationales for human missions to Mars (e.g., see the 1963 Exploration of Mars, Vol. 15, Adv. Astronaut. Scis., Ed. by G.W. Morganthaler) during the 1960s Apollo Maslow Window. Starting in 1949, Tombaugh was comfortable going public about his many observations of UFOs. He supported the Extraterrestrial hypothesis and was an early voice calling for a serious scientific investigation of UFOs, much like the University of Arizona’s Dr. James McDonald later did, and more recently Stanford’s Peter Sturrock.

The House that Gerard Kuiper Built — The Lunar and Planetary Laboratory at the University of Arizona. Click ualunarlab.jpg

Dr. Gerard Kuiper, known as “the Father of Modern Planetary Science,” established the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory at the University of Arizona in 1960 to give NASA more scientific information about the Moon and planets. For NASA, the idea was to support the Apollo program and eventually human missions to the planets during the 1960s Apollo Maslow Window.

“…A source of pride to the nation.” President John F. Kennedy, 1960. Click solart.jpg.

To the Camelot-style icon of the 1960s Apollo Maslow Window, President John F. Kennedy, “The great new solar telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory in Arizona is a source of pride to the nation. The largest instrument for solar research in the world, it presents American astronomers with a unique tool for investigating the nearest of all the stars, our Sun. The project is of exceptional interest to all our citizens…Bold in concept and magnificent in execution, the instrument is the crowning achievement…” Writing in 1960, JFK’s ebullient tone is unmistakable, as it will be near 2015 when the next Space President describes the scientific challenges of the next Space Age.

Every clear day, the secrets of the Sun are revealed in the observers room. Click solarobs.jpg.

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Jan 07 2009

Marcel vs. Fermi — Toward A Possible Convergence

Just finishing up some Christmastime reading last weekend and was especially enjoying an article in the British Interplanetary Society Journal (November, 2008) by Stephen Baxter who asserts that the apparent absence of pre-Marconi optical beacons from nearby extraterrestrials (ETs) shows “a deepening of the Fermi Paradox…To the ‘great silence’, we must add the ‘great darkness’.”

Of course, the Fermi Paradox refers to Nobel physicist and A-bomb scientist Enrico Fermi who in the 1940s recognized that our Milky Way Galaxy was the right size (about 100,000 light years across) so that an advanced civilization using nonrelativistic speeds could colonize the Galaxy in only a few million years. And, the fact that our Galaxy is about 13 billion years old suggests that if an ET civilization somehow appeared and got organized, they’d have had plenty of time to come here, and just ONE — the first one — could take over the entire Galaxy. So Fermi wondered, “Where are They?”

A Von Neumann Probe would be the key to colonization of the entire Galaxy. Click vnp.jpg.

To me, Fermi’s Paradox is especially wonderful because it integrates and crystalizes the two fundamental rationales driving human expansion into the cosmos as we approach the 2015 Maslow Window: 1) the desire to explore and settle Earth-like planets (space colonization), and 2) the search for extraterrestrial life, especially intelligent life. Under Maslowian influences, the Fermi Paradox will assume increasing importance during the next decade.

Baxter’s point is that optical beacons could have been used by ETs to remotely greet humans long before radio was invented on Earth. For example, using a 7-meter Next Generation Space Telescope, ETs from 10 light years away could produce an optical beacon comparable to the brightest star (Sirius) in our sky. Using an optimistic Moore’s doubling law currently observed in high-powered laser development, Baxter estimates the power requirements (~30 terrawatts) could be attained in ~40 years. A pulsed beacon with steering capability could reduce power demands by orders of magnitude for potentially gregarious, nearby ETs.

Prior to radio waves, how would ETs find us? Ruddiman (2007) argues that detectable pre-industrial effects of humans on the atmosphere may go back at least to the Neolithic ‘farming revolution’ (8000 yrs ago) when significant greenhouse gases escaped into the air. This signal should have enticed ETs to aim their sunlight beacons at Earth, from up to 1000 light years away. Although our pre-Copernican ancesters didn’t know what they were, they did faithfully record the supernovas of 1054 and 1181, but there is “no record of anything unequivocally resembling a sunlight beacon,” according to Baxter; hence the increasing Fermi-style “silence” and “darkness” I recounted earlier.

About this time I picked up my copy of Jesse Marcel, Jr.’s The Roswell Legacy which suggests any Fermi-induced depression may be premature. Dr. Marcel is a key figure in all of UFO history because when he was 11 years old, in 1947, his dad (Major Marcel) brought home some debris from the Roswell crash site and put in on their kitchen table. It apparently was not a weather balloon because “my father knew that what he had found was something absolutely incredible… parts from a ‘flying disc’…” Jesse noticed the I-beam had the now-famous “Egyptian hieroglyphics” markings that he decided “were more like geometric symbols…” Later his dad warned him not to mention the debris to anyone else and “that this material was from an unearthly craft.”

So is he telling the truth? Having been over the book a few times Dr. Marcel comes across as a very frustrating guy: he speaks lovingly of his father; he’s a respected physician in Montana, he loves his wife and kids, he did a 13-month tour in Iraq as a flight surgeon, …I could go on. It would be easier to dismiss him if he just dated Paris Hilton or something, but he doesn’t. I’m at a loss. I can’t think of any reason not to believe him and admire him.

So where do these two stories — the Fermi Darkness and the Marcel Witness — leave us? What would happen if we took them both seriously?

The Fermi story points to the absence of ETs in our vicinity while Marcel (and much other data) suggests there’s serious evidence for the reality of some UFOs. For the moment let’s rule out Messengers of Deception — one of my favorite Jacques Vallee books — because if UFO encounters are actually being faked by humans on Earth to frighten us so we don’t have wars….well let’s just say it isn’t working very well.

How else could we explain real UFOs with no ETs? How about a self-replicating machine — i.e., a Von Neumann Probe — capable of making copies of itself from raw materials found on any moon or planet in the Galaxy? A few VNPs strategically released in ancient galactic times by ETs would exponentially increase to fill the Galaxy with a vibrant reconnaissance network. Over time, if the ETs died, left the Galaxy, or lost interest, the VNP Galactic Network would continue operating and replicating indefinitely according to their creators’ original plan.

Raw human exploration passions are accelerating the riveting search for answers to many potential Fermi/Marcel-type scenarios; they can only be attained by space colonization and the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. The most aggressive expeditions into the unknown occur during the twice-per-century Maslow Windows when pulses of exploration inevitably propel human expansion into the cosmos.

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Aug 12 2008

Stanton Friedman on UFOs and Public Opinion

Larry King — on his 1994 TV special from Rachel, Nevada (near Area 51) — introduced him as the “Dean of UFO researchers.” And why not? Stanton Friedman has been doing research and scientific investigation of UFOs for 50 years, published more than 80 scientific UFO papers, and has appeared on hundreds of radio and TV programs. He’s the original civilian investigator of the Roswell Incident and co-authored Crash at Corona: The Definitive Study of the Roswell Incident among other books.

A classmate of Carl Sagan at the University of Chicago, Stan received his BSc and MSc degrees there in physics. He was employed for 14 years as a nuclear physicist at GE, GM, Westinghouse, TRW Systems, Aerojet General Nucleonics, and McDonnell Douglas on advanced, classified, eventually cancelled, projects as nuclear aircraft, fission and fusion rockets, and nuclear powerplants for space.

Although Stan doesn’t make this claim himself, I’d be surprised if anyone in history has talked in person to more people about UFOs than he has, given that since 1967 he’s lectured on the topic “Flying Saucers ARE Real!” at more than 600 colleges and over 100 professional groups in 50 states, 9 provinces, 16 other countries. I had the pleasure of meeting Stan about 12 years ago in Arizona at one of his presentations; they are data-rich, exciting, and very thought-provoking.

Needless to say, Stan’s an excellent human barometer regarding public opinion about extraterrestrials and their ability to come here, and he devotes a chapter to this in his new book Flying Saucers and Science (2008).

Public Opinion is Wave Guide #2 because it often drives major technology and exploration activities during a Maslow Window and serves as an early indicator of an impending Maslow Window. For example, public opinion is linked with generational waves (e.g., Millennials), pop culture, and even long-term social cycles (e.g., Sarkar) that point to increased public interest in space, technology, and/or exploration and expanding ebullience.

Indeed, as we approach the 2015 Maslow Window, when Moonbases, international competition in space, and the possibility of alien life, begin to take center stage again, the public may insist that all information about UFOs be revealed by government sources. As the 2015 economic boom elevates the public to higher Maslow heirarchy levels, the need to explore and know the truth increases.

In his book, Stan paints a picture of typical UFO witnesses as feeling alone and being afraid of ridicule, “They would think I was some kind of nut.” When in fact, about 10% of his large audiences have made a sighting. He quotes Gallup polls over decades back to 1966 showing the percent of Americans that believe UFOs are real hovers between 46% and 57% and — contrary to popular belief — that educated individuals (e.g., college vs high school) are more likely to believe UFOs are real. As I’ve mentioned before, many engineers and scientists are increasingly intrigued by UFOs.

Reversing these common misconceptions about UFOs is important according to Stan because they make journalists afraid to cover a UFO sighting or lecture, scientists reluctant to study UFO data or sponsor UFO theses, and people with sightings hesistant to report them. If you’d like to “lift the laughter curtain” that inhibits “full disclosure by individuals and full investigation by scientists and journalists,” contact Stanton Friedman at fsphys@rogers.com or through his website.

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