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Alien nation: MoD releases final UFO files

UFO letter

A letter from a schoolchild in Altrincham, released with the MoD’s UFO files. Photograph: National Archives/PA

One sighting in December 2007 described two clusters of amber, orange and white lights in triangular formation moving “like a feather or a cork bobbing on water” over the Vale of Neath in south Wales.

In other cases catalogued by the Ministry of Defence, a caller said he had been living with an alien in Carlisle, and a Cardiff man claimed a UFO took his dog, car and tent while he was camping with friends in 2007.

UFO files

A reported sighting of a ‘UFO’ near Stonehenge, Wiltshire. Photograph: The National Archives/PAAfter more than 50 years faithfully recording reports of UFOs and flying saucers, and patiently answering questions from the public, the MoD eventually decided it was a waste of money, newly released documents show.

“Despite what many people think, and claim, the MoD does not have any expertise or role in respect of UFO/flying saucer matters or the question of the existence or otherwise of extraterrestrial life forms, about which it remains totally open-minded,” defence officials repeatedly told members of the public. Reports were examined and logged, they explained, “solely to establish whether what was seen might have some defence significance”.

UFO files: Blackpool pier

Photograph of a ‘UFO’ taken from Blackpool Pier, Lancashire, in 2008. Photograph: The National Archives/PAOne file released by the National Archives includes a letter to the then prime minister in 2008. “Dear Gordon Brown,” it says, “Do you believe the British people have the right to know if our world has been contacted by alien civilisations?” The letter, like hundreds of others, was passed on to RAF Air Command in High Wycombe. A correspondent in Australia (the names of individuals have been redacted from the files) wrote to the Queen complaining that the British government “continues to refuse to reveal the truth behind their files and reports of unidentified flying objects”.

The writer had tried to contact various UK government bodies – the MoD, the RAF, even MI5 – to persuade them of the “seriousness of this UFO security issue”. A schoolchild from Altrincham, Cheshire, asked whether there was life “outside our planet … I have the right to know”. An RAF official replied: “It’s an interesting question which we remain totally open-minded about.” The official added: “I am enclosing some RAF ‘goodies’ that I thought you might like.”

On 25 June 2009, the Sun newspaper reported, in a front-page exclusive under the headline “Alien army”, that a group of soldiers based at Tern Hill barracks in Shropshire had seen lights in the sky and made a video that they passed on to the tabloid. An unnamed official who had obtained a copy of the video a year earlier said it showed a number of lights in the sky, whose change of colour and square appearance seemed to be due to the photographer zooming in. “The BBC has reported that at the same time as the alleged incident, a local hotel was letting off Chinese lanterns and, apparently, the hotel manager thinks the whole UFO story is ‘highly hilarious’,” the official wrote.

Chinese lanterns became something of a craze, which may help to explain a surge in sightings of alleged UFOs reported to the MoD. Orange lights were filmed on mobile phones and cameras by people saying they were amazed, stunned and frightened when they saw the objects while walking dogs, enjoying family barbecues and relaxing in hot tubs.

According to the files, between 2000 and 2007 the MoD received an average of 150 reports a year. By November 2009, when the MoD decided to close down its UFO hotline, that rate had trebled.

David Clarke, author of The UFO Files, said: “There is evidence that some people were encouraged to report their observations to the MoD and to the press, which could be a direct result of increased public awareness during the period that the first UFO files were being released by the National Archives. I believe this demonstrates that UFOs are very much a social phenomenon.”

The latest files are the last on UFOs to be released by the National Archives. “In over 50 years, no UFO report has revealed any evidence of a potential threat to the United Kingdom,” defence officials observed in 2009. It would be an “inappropriate use of defence resources” to spend any more time or money on the exercise, they added.

‘Not a military matter’

Newly-released files on UFOs not only include reports of sightings, but also alleged contact with aliens. One report, left on the UFO hotline answerphone, was from a man who claimed he had been “living with an alien” for some time.

The report compiled after the June 2008 message said the man described how he had first seen a UFO above his house in Carlisle, but gave no date or time. The form noted that the man, whose name was not revealed: “Said that he definitely has an alien amongst his mists (sic). That things move around the house. Can we please get back to him and explain what is happening.”

Another man left a message in January 2008 claiming a UFO took his dog, car and tent while he was camping with friends near Cardiff in 2007. The report in the files said: “The witness saw spaceships and then said that one of them abducted his dog, car and tent, when he and some friends were out camping.

“They were going quite slow across the sky and one of them abducted the witness’s dog and possessions.”

It added that the man would “like to tell us more about the spaceships he has seen and more about his ordeal. He did not state whether he got back what was taken.”

Officials sent a response to the man, including standard explanations of how the Ministry of Defence did not investigate each sighting, saying: “Unless there is evidence of a potential threat to the UK from an external source, and to date no UFO has revealed such evidence, we do not attempt to identify the precise nature of each sighting reported to us.”

But the message, sent in January 2008, added: “In your answerphone message, you informed us that your dog and possessions were abducted. An official response said: “Abduction, kidnap and theft are criminal offences and therefore would be a matter for the civilian police, not the MoD.”

In another case, a woman who saw “two orange balls” hovering over her back garden in Coventry in July 2008 contacted the MoD to ask if she and her Springer spaniel “could be contaminated” as a result of the experience.

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Is Stephen Hawking right about aliens?

Stephen Hawking thinks that making contact with aliens would be a very bad idea indeed. But with new, massive telescopes, we humans are stepping up the search. Have we really thought this through?

In February 2008, Nasa sent the Beatles song, Across the Universe, across the universe. Pointing the telescopes in its Deep Space Network towards the north star, Polaris, astronomers played out their short cosmic DJ set, hoping that it might be heard by intelligent aliens during its 430-year journey to the star.

The hunt for intelligent species outside Earth may be a staple of literature and film – but it is happening in real life, too. Nasa probes are on the lookout for planets outside our solar system, and astronomers are carefully listening for any messages being beamed through space. How awe-inspiring it would be to get confirmation that we are not alone in the universe, to finally speak to an alien race. Wouldn’t it?

Well no, according to the eminent physicist Stephen Hawking. “If aliens visit us, the outcome would be much as when Columbus landed in America, which didn’t turn out well for the Native Americans,” Hawking has said in a forthcoming documentary made for the Discovery Channel. He argues that, instead of trying to find and communicate with life in the cosmos, humans would be better off doing everything they can to avoid contact.

Hawking believes that, based on the sheer number of planets that scientists know must exist, we are not the only life-form in the universe. There are, after all, billions and billions of stars in our galaxy alone, with, it is reasonable to expect, an even greater number of planets orbiting them. And it is not unreasonable to expect some of that alien life to be intelligent, and capable of interstellar communication. So, when someone with Hawking’s knowledge of the universe advises against contact, it’s worth listening, isn’t it?

Seth Shostak, a senior astronomer at the Seti Institute in California, the world’s leading organisation searching for telltale alien signals, is not so sure. “This is an unwarranted fear,” Shostak says. “If their interest in our planet is for something valuable that our planet has to offer, there’s no particular reason to worry about them now. If they’re interested in resources, they have ways of finding rocky planets that don’t depend on whether we broadcast or not. They could have found us a billion years ago.”

If we were really worried about shouting in the stellar jungle, Shostak says, the first thing to do would be to shut down the BBC, NBC, CBS and the radars at all airports. Those broadcasts have been streaming into space for years – the oldest is already more than 80 light years from Earth – so it is already too late to stop passing aliens watching every episode of Big Brother or What Katie and Peter Did Next.

The biggest and most active hunt for life outside Earth started in 1960, when Frank Drake pointed the Green Bank radio telescope in West Virginia towards the star Tau Ceti. He was looking for anomalous radio signals that could have been sent by intelligent life. Eventually, his idea turned into Seti (standing for Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence), which used the downtime on radar telescopes around the world to scour the sky for any signals. For 50 years, however, the sky has been silent.

There are lots of practical problems involved in hunting for aliens, of course, chief among them being distance. If our nearest neighbours were life-forms on the (fictional) forest moon of Endor, 1,000 light years away, it would take a millennium for us to receive any message they might send. If the Endorians were watching us, the light reaching them from Earth at this very moment would show them our planet as it was 1,000 years ago; in Europe that means lots of fighting between knights around castles and, in north America, small bands of natives living on the great plains. It is not a timescale that allows for quick banter – and, anyway, they might not be communicating in our direction.

The lack of a signal from ET has not, however, prevented astronomers and biologists (not to mention film-makers) coming up with a whole range of ideas about what aliens might be like. In the early days of Seti, astronomers focused on the search for planets like ours – the idea being that, since the only biology we know about is our own, we might as well assume aliens are going to be something like us. But there’s no reason why that should be true. You don’t even need to step off the Earth to find life that is radically different from our common experience of it.

“Extremophiles” are species that can survive in places that would quickly kill humans and other “normal” life-forms. These single-celled creatures have been found in boiling hot vents of water thrusting through the ocean floor, or at temperatures well below the freezing point of water. The front ends of some creatures that live near deep-sea vents are 200C warmer than their back ends.

“In our naive and parochial way, we have named these things extremophiles, which shows prejudice – we’re normal, everything else is extreme,” says Ian Stewart, a mathematician at Warwick University and author of What Does A Martian Look Like? “From the point of view of a creature that lives in boiling water, we’re extreme because we live in much milder temperatures. We’re at least as extreme compared to them as they are compared to us.”

On Earth, life exists in water and on land but, on a giant gas planet, for example, it might exist high in the atmosphere, trapping nutrients from the air swirling around it. And given that aliens may be so out of our experience, guessing motives and intentions if they ever got in touch seems beyond the realm’s even of Hawking’s mind.

Paul Davies, an astrophysicist at Arizona State University and chair of Seti’s post-detection taskforce, argues that alien brains, with their different architecture, would interpret information very differently from ours. What we think of as beautiful or friendly might come across as violent to them, or vice versa. “Lots of people think that because they would be so wise and knowledgeable, they would be peaceful,” adds Stewart. “I don’t think you can assume that. I don’t think you can put human views on to them; that’s a dangerous way of thinking. Aliens are alien. If they exist at all, we cannot assume they’re like us.”

Answers to some of these conundrums will begin to emerge in the next few decades. The researchers at the forefront of the work are astrobiologists, working in an area that has steadily marched in from the fringes of science thanks to the improvements in technology available to explore space.

Scientists discovered the first few extrasolar planets in the early 1990s and, ever since, the numbers have shot up. Today, scientists know of 443 planets orbiting around more than 350 stars. Most are gas giants in the mould of Jupiter, the smallest being Gliese 581, which has a mass of 1.9 Earths. In 2009, Nasa launched the Kepler satellite, a probe specifically designed to look for Earth-like planets.

Future generations of ground-based telescopes, such as the proposed European Extremely Large Telescope (with a 30m main mirror), could be operational by 2030, and would be powerful enough to image the atmospheres of faraway planets, looking for chemical signatures that could indicate life. The Seti Institute also, finally, has a serious piece of kit under construction: the Allen Array (funded by a $11.5m/£7.5m donation from Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen) has, at present, 42 radio antennae, each six metres in diameter, but there are plans, if the Seti Institute can raise another $35m, to have up to 300 radio dishes.

In all the years that Seti has been running, it has managed to look carefully at less than 1,000 star systems. With the full Allen Array, they could look at 1,000 star systems in a couple of years.

Shostak is confident that, as telescope technology keeps improving, Seti will find an ET signal within the next two decades. “We will have looked at another million star systems in two dozen years. If this is going to work, it will work soon.”

And what happens if and when we detect a signal? “My strenuous advice will be that the coordinates of the transmitting entity should be kept confidential, until the world community has had a chance to evaluate what it’s dealing with,” Davies told the Guardian recently. “We don’t want anybody just turning a radio telescope on the sky and sending their own messages to the source.”

But his colleague, Shostak, says we should have no such concerns. “You’ll have told the astronomical community – that’s thousands of people. Are you going to ask them all not to tell anybody where you’re pointing your antenna? There’s no way you could do that.

“And anyway, why wouldn’t you tell them where [the alien lifeform] is? Are you afraid people will broadcast their own message? They might do that but, remember, The Gong Show has already been broadcast for years.” And, for that matter, the Beatles.

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The Truth about Those “Alien Alloys” in The New York Times UFO Story

Is the government really stockpiling materials in a Nevada building that scientists cannot identify?

What to make of a Las Vegas building full of unidentified alloys?

The New York Times published a stunning story (Dec. 16) revealing that the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) had, between 2007 and 2012, funded a $22 million program for investigating UFOs. The story included three revelations that were tailored to blow readers’ minds:

1. Many high-ranking people in the federal government believe aliens have visited planet Earth.

2. Military pilots have recorded videos of UFOs with capabilities that seem to outstrip all known human aircraft, changing direction and accelerating in ways no fighter jet or helicopter could ever accomplish.

3. In a group of buildings in Las Vegas, the government stockpiles alloys and other materials believed to be associated with UFOs.

Points one and two are weird, but not all that compelling on their own: The world already knew that plenty of smart folks believe in alien visitors, and that pilots sometimes encounter strange phenomena in the upper atmosphere – phenomena explained by entities other than space aliens, such as a weather balloon, a rocket launch or even a solar eruption.

Point No. 3, though – those buildings full of alloys and other materials – that’s a little harder to hand wave away. Is there really a DOD cache full of materials from out of this world?

One of the authors of the Times report, Ralph Blumenthal, had this to say on MSNBC about the alloys: “They have, as we reported in the paper, some material from these objects that is being studied so that scientists can find what accounts for their amazing properties, this technology of these objects, whatever they are.” When asked what the materials were, Blumenthal responded, “They don’t know. They’re studying it, but it’s some kind of compound that they don’t recognize.”

Here’s the thing, though: The chemists and metallurgists Live Science spoke to – experts in identifying unusual alloys – don’t buy it.

“I don’t think it’s plausible that there’s any alloys that we can’t identify,” Richard Sachleben, a retired chemist and member of the American Chemical Society’s panel of experts, told Live Science. “My opinion? That’s quite impossible.”

Alloys are mixtures of different kinds of elemental metals. They’re very common – in fact, Sachleben said, they’re more common on Earth than pure elemental metals are – and very well understood. Brass is an alloy. So is steel. Even most naturally occurring gold on Earth is an alloy made up of elemental gold mixed with other metals, like silver or copper. [8 Important Elements You’ve Never Heard Of]

“There are databases of all known phases [of metal], including alloys,” May Nyman, a professor in the Oregon State University Department of Chemistry, told Live Science. Those databases include straightforward techniques for identifying metal alloys.

If an unknown alloy appeared, Nyman said it would be relatively simple to figure out what it was made of.

For crystalline alloys – those in which the mixture of atoms forms an ordered structure – researchers use a technique called X-ray diffraction, Nyman said.

“The X-ray’s wavelength is about the same size as the distance between the atoms [of crystalline alloys],” Nyman said, “so that means when the X-rays go into a well-ordered material, they diffract [change shape and intensity] – and from that diffraction [pattern] you can get information that tells you the distance between the atoms, what the atoms are, and how well-ordered the atoms are. It tells you all about the arrangement of your atoms.”

With noncrystalline, amorphous alloys, the process is a bit different, but not by much.

“These are all very standard techniques in research labs, so if we had such mysterious metals, you could take it to any university where research is done, and they could tell you what are the elements and something about the crystalline phase within a few hours,” Nyman said.

Sachleben agreed.

“There are no alloys that are sitting in some warehouse that we cannot figure out what they are. In fact, it’s pretty simple, and any reasonably good metallurgical grad student can do it for you,” he said.

Nyman said that if metals did fall from some mysterious aircraft, some forensics experiments would quickly answer a lot of questions about that aircraft. [UFO Mysteries: These Sightings Have Never Been Solved]

“How has the hunk of metal changed?” Nyman said. “From my scientist’s perspective, that’s the kind of question I’d be asking. Maybe, if it has to do with world politics, and we want to know where the metal comes from, maybe there’s some analysis that can lead you to where it was mined, or what country uses that particular alloy, that kind of thing.”

If the aircraft had come from space, Nyman said, that travel would leave telltale signs in the metal as well, in the form of spacefaring debris and ionization (changes to the electrical charges of the substance’s atoms).

Even if a chunk of alloy that hadn’t been seen before did fall to Earth from outer space, both Nyman and Sachleben agreed that it wouldn’t necessarily have come from an alien craft. In fact, Sachleben said, alloys strike the planet regularly – space-traversing alloys like those found in fairly common nickel-iron meteorites – leaving behind telltale signs. The meteor that wiped out the dinosaurs was even identified by the rare-Earth metals it left behind in certain geological formations in Earth’s crust.

It’s important to point out that while Blumenthal did go on cable news and say the alloys were unidentifiable mysteries, helping to spur speculation, that’s not what his article actually stated. Here’s the full quote from Saturday’s piece:

“The company [involved in the DOD research] modified buildings in Las Vegas for the storage of metal alloys and other materials that … program contractors said had been recovered from unidentified aerial phenomena. Researchers also studied people who said they had experienced physical effects from encounters with the objects and examined them for any physiological changes. In addition, researchers spoke to military service members who had reported sightings of strange aircraft.”

From this statement, there’s no actual sign that there’s anything unusual about the alloys themselves. All the Times wrote was that the DOD researchers tasked with finding weird UFO stuff collected some metal, interviewed some people who had claimed startling experiences with it, and decided that it was UFO-related.

In an email to Live Science regarding these metal alloys, Blumenthal said, “We printed as much as we were able to verify. Can’t go beyond that.”

As for whether there’s an explanation at least for the metals themselves, Sachleben said: “There’s not as many mysteries in science as people like to think. It’s not like we know everything – we don’t know everything. But most things we know enough about to know what we don’t know.”

Source www.scientificamerican.com


Also published on Medium.

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Aliens & UFO's

Astronaut Buzz Aldrin Passes Lie Detector Test About Alien Encounter

Aldrin reportedly passed the lie detector test during his recollection of his close encounter with alien life during the 1969 Apollo 11 mission to the moon.  

He was part of the test that also analyzed interviews from astronauts Al Worden, Edgar Mitchell and Gordon Cooper.

Experts said their results prove they were ‘completely convinced’ that their claims of alien life were genuine.

Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin has reportedly passed a lie detector test after recalling his apparent encounter with alien life during the historic 1969 mission to the moon.

Aldrin, 88, was a part of the test that also analyzed interviews from astronauts Al Worden, Edgar Mitchell and Gordon Cooper.

Recorded interviews of the astronauts were tested using the latest technology at the Institute of BioAcoustic Biology in Albany, Ohio.

Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin (right) has reportedly passed a lie detector test after recalling his apparent encounter with alien life during the 1969 mission to the moon. Pictured are Neil Armstrong (left) and Michael Collins (center)

Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin (right) has reportedly passed a lie detector test after recalling his apparent encounter with alien life during the 1969 mission to the moon. Pictured are Neil Armstrong (left) and Michael Collins (center)

Aldrin (pictured on the moon), 88, participated in the test along with astronauts Al Worden, Edgar Mitchell and Gordon Cooper

Aldrin pictured in February 2018

Aldrin (left on the moon and right in 2018), 88, participated in the test along with astronauts Al Worden, Edgar Mitchell and Gordon Cooper

Experts claim their results prove they were ‘completely convinced’ that their claims of aliens were genuine, according to the Daily Star.

Aldrin has always maintained he spotted a UFO on the way to the moon.

‘There was something out there that was close enough to be observed, sort of L-shaped,’ Aldrin, who is the second human to set foot on the moon, recalled.

The Institute of BioAcoustic Biology conducted an analysis of the astronauts’ voice patterns as they spoke about their encounters.

BioAcoustic’s Sharry Edwards told the Daily Star that their tests revealed Aldrin is sure he saw the UFO even though his logical mind ‘cannot explain it’.

Last year, Apollo 15 pilot Al Worden, 86, told Good Morning Britain that he saw extra-terrestrials during his mission.

Cooper (pictured) had previously described trying to chase a cluster of objects

In a 2009 interview, Mitchell (pictured), who was a part of the Apollo 14 mission, claimed he saw multiple UFOs

Last year, Apollo 15 pilot Al Worden (pictured), 86, said he saw aliens during his mission

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The Institute of BioAcoustic Biology conducted an analysis of the astronauts’ voice patterns as they spoke about their encounters. Last year, Apollo 15 pilot Al Worden (right), 86, said he saw aliens during his mission. Pictured are Edgar Mitchell (center) and Gordon Cooper (left)

Experts claim their results prove they were 'completely convinced' that signs of alien life they claimed to have witnessed were genuine. Al Worden is pictured (center) next to astronauts David Scott (left) and James Irwin (right)

Experts claim their results prove they were ‘completely convinced’ that signs of alien life they claimed to have witnessed were genuine. Al Worden is pictured (center) next to astronauts David Scott (left) and James Irwin (right)

Voice recordings of NASA astronauts Edgar Mitchell and Gordon Cooper, who are both deceased, were also analyzed.

In a 2009 interview, Mitchell, who was a part of the Apollo 14 mission, claimed he saw multiple UFOs.

Cooper had previously described trying to chase a cluster of objects.

According to the Daily Star, the tests revealed that Cooper and Mitchell believed they were telling the truth.

The technology is still top-secret, but it has been claimed that these tests are more reliable than current lie detector tests.

Daily Mail

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