My Embarrassing Secret Belief

Submitted by: Mike Spindell, guest blogger

 In the years, I’ve spent commenting here at Professor Turley’s blog, I have presented myself as an honest person, sensible and with humane beliefs. Many regulars think of me as sort of a blog “elder statesman” and one who has a rational view of the world. There are of course others, fewer in number I assert, who think me a fool and a knave, which shows you can’t please everyone. Professor Turley himself has expressed fondness related to my tendency to be honest and open about myself personally.

 Yet through all of these years here, I have harbored a secret belief that I’ve avoided mentioning for fear that the esteem in which I’m held, will disappear in an avalanche of ridicule and disappointment. I have to admit that to a retired old guy on the wrong side of sixty years, my place here has provided comfort to my self-esteem and certainly the feeling that I can still find things in life to accomplish. To those who haven’t realized the obvious yet from my writings, I have my vanities and indeed my insecurities, so being a guest blogger has stroked those needy aspects of my ego. Since I’ve received much gratification from this, I have been loath to be completely honest about one of my more deeply held beliefs. I came across an article that impels me to break my silence and reveal this belief here and now. While in the eyes of some reading this blog, it might lower their opinion of me and expose me to ridicule, I must finally admit to you my dirty little secret.

Ever since the first nationwide “Flying Saucer” sensation began with the first “official” UFO sighting on June 24, 1947 by pilot Kenneth Arnold  Unidentified Flying Objects (UFO’s) have been a phenomenon lasting for the past 64 years, with most governments ridiculing the people making the reports and dismissing the entire idea. This is despite the fact that many pilots have made sightings and indeed many people in large communities, such as WashingtonD.C., have seen UFO’s in their skies over a period of nights. I personally believe that UFO’s are indeed alien spacecraft and that the possibility of this being the case is narrowed by the unfathomable size of the Universe, its age and the trillions of stars that exist. I further believe that the governments have covered this up to prevent what in their minds is public panic and to deny the truth that if UFO’s do indeed exist; our technological capacity could not deal with them if necessary.

 This article in Huffpost on 6/17/11confirms my belief in governments covering up the details of these sightings and ridiculing anyone claiming to have made a sighting:  “The former Ministry of Defense (MoD) UFO Project chief [Nick Pope] is openly admitting to being part of what he claims was a U.K. policy of ridiculing UFO reports and the people who reported them.

 “What’s abundantly clear from these files is that, while in public we were desperately pushing the line that this was of no defense interest,” Pope told The Huffington Post. “We couldn’t say ‘There’s something in our air space; pilots see them; they’re tracked on radar; sometimes we scramble jets to chase these things, but we can’t catch them.’ This would be an admission that we’d lost control of our own air space, and such a position would be untenable.”

 My interest began in 1953, reading a book by Major Donald Keyhoe, USMC Pilot, Retired. In it he described the various documented incidents and the explanations given for them by the Department Of Defenses “Project Blue Book”, that was established seemingly to investigate the phenomenon. . Among others, Keyhoe had interviewed Air Force Captain Edward Ruppelt, who had been head of the Project:

 What I found so compelling was that perhaps 20% of the incidents could not be adequately explained and that distinguished observers, such as veteran pilots, were supposed to have mistaken everyday phenomenon, like weather balloons and Venus, for UFO’s. As my interest grew, it became obvious that our government would respond to any new sighting by first ridicule of the person(s) making the report of the sighting and then responding with explanations that were not credible. In the D.C., sightings in 1953 a mass of objects were not only detected by eye, but by airport radar and yet dismissed without adequate explanation.

 What added to the government’s ability to ridicule were the so-called direct contact cases, first made famous by George Adamski: and later by Betty and Barney Hill: . Since the “contactees” in these cases seemed mainly to be self-serving individuals, they muddied the waters by being conflated with people who were seriously looking for explanations, or who had made direct sightings. Considering what the Huffpost article cited as details about the British Government’s policies, ridicule replaced research as a tool of institutional government investigation.

 In further revealing my dirty little secret, I was for a time, in my teens, a dues paying member of The “National Investigations Committee On Aerial Phenomena (or NICAP). It was a civilian unidentified flying object research group active in the United States from the 1950s to the 1980s:

 While I never lost interest in UFO’s, my interest waned as my puberty began to assert itself and other things in life became more important. However, I have read enough about the topic to be certain in my own mind that there is much more to it than merely misidentification of known objects, moneymaking schemes, and public hysteria. In fact, an article in yesterdays Huffpost shows that the amount of UFO sightings has increased in recent years:

 As someone interested in ancient history some of the writings of Sitchin, Velikovsy and Von Danniken

also, attract my interest and tie in with my feeling about UFO’s. I am keen on the possibility of Alien visits throughout human history and the possibility that they have affected our history and progress.

 So there you have it. I’ve exposed one of the final embarrassing secrets about myself and opened up to your possible ridicule and/or opprobrium. Since we have so many people here who are qualified to comment, given their knowledge of science and other erudition, I would enjoy your comments. In any event, I feel much better having gotten this off my chest and while I’ve exposed myself further as someone with quirky sensibilities, I feel a certain lightness and freedom in making my confession.

Submitted by: Mike Spindell, guest blogger

148 thoughts on “My Embarrassing Secret Belief

  1. One more thing, then I’m done here…

    What do they want? The same thing every other self-serving shit wants. Power.

    What exactly happened with me? Don’t wanna go there. It’s outofthisworld and it ain’t pretty.

    I just wanted to know the truth.

  2. As far a dirty little secrets go, that one’s not so bad.

    I, too, used to believe that some UFOs were alien spacecraft and was keen on the movie Roswell. But, over the years, I started thinking about the probabilities involved, and the likelihood of alien spacecraft reaching Earth seems infinitesimal. I just couldn’t justify my earlier beliefs.

  3. And this is just one of the reasons that many of us are so fond of you, Mike S. I think the only shame is in not being open to the unknown. I much prefer those who are willing to suspend their disbelief and, at least, entertain certain possibilities… It’s those with “closed minds” that I cannot abide.

  4. Oh, with all the pre-amble I was worried you were about to admit to being a card carrying member of the church of scientology. Pleasantly relieved by your subsequent admission. Won’t say I agree but certainly no ridicule from me, there is a lot of controversy and arguments both ways and I could be wrong. I’ll be concerned if you mention galactic overlord Xenu though.😉

  5. Mike,

    Most folks that half a degree of intelligence realize that we are not the only one…I too share your beliefs…I also think that there is a spiritual world that most folks have not the degree of belief, though they claim to be righteous and they are certain that they are the chosen ones….Too bad for you, you don’t believe like me so you won’t be going where I am going mentality….We cannot explain everything happening…There are dimensions that although we see we do not comprehend….

    Great postssss

  6. My favorite exchange in John Carpenter’s “Thing”:

    Childs: I just cannot believe any of this voodoo bullshit.
    Palmer: Childs, it happens all the time, man. They’re falling out of the sky like flies. Government knows all about it, right, Mac?
    Childs: You believe any of this voodoo bullshit, Blair?
    Palmer: Childs, Childs… Chariots of the Gods, man. They practically own South America. I mean, they taught the Incas everything they know.

    The universe is BIG and old and whatever can happen has, and is, somewhere and sometime. IMO. If we had the tech wherewithal we’d be the UFO’s in somebody else’s pop literature; we’re already surveying for other planet’s with an eye to signatures that might be hospitable to life as we know it. Once you get all dressed up (technologically speaking) there’s always somewhere to go.

  7. Mike,
    Great article! I don’t know if I can agree with your belief, but I remember growing up in the 50’s and I thought I saw a UFO when I was waiting for the school bus, but it may have just been a shiny plane or the proverbial weather balloon.

  8. Nal,

    Are you stating that it is improbable that Aliens have visited earth…..I wonder how we got here…But hey, believe what is in your heart or head….

  9. “I also think that there is a spiritual world that most folks have not the degree of belief, though they claim to be righteous and they are certain that they are the chosen ones….Too bad for you, you don’t believe like me so you won’t be going where I am going mentality”


    I’ve never talked about my spiritual beliefs, you might be surprised. However, you must remember that “back in the day” four decades or so ago, I was a hippie and consumed a lot of psychedelic drugs that taught me “reality” could sometime not be what your senses imagine. However, most of the films I’ve seen and tales I’ve heard about those who delve too much into the spiritual realms have bad outcomes.

    I had someone read me in Taro Cards about 40 years ago and their gloomy predictions came true. Don’t know if it was their psychic power or my self fulfilling prophecy, wouldn’t do it again though.

  10. Mike,

    I don’t think any less of you – on the contrary, I see this as an opportunity to have a discussion of orthodoxy vs. counter-orthodoxy with both sides acting in good faith. For my part, barring faster than light travel (which I don’t believe possible outside of science fiction), I think that it is extremely unlikely to to point of being impossible that we are being visited by a technologically advanced extra-terrestrial species (or at least an extra-solar species). So while I would certainly admit that there have been unexplained observations, I believe that they are all, nonetheless, explicable observations without the need to resort to alien involvement. For there to be extra-solar aliens here (and for them to have affected our history) they would have needed to be technologically advanced enough to detect some form of life within their light cone (basically the region of spacetime that the aliens [or ourselves] are seeing at any point in time), interested enough to launch a mission of planet farmers (for whatever reason) in ships capable of accelerating at 1 gravity for about 3 years or the equivalent or at least boosting and decelerating to and from speeds close to that of light (that’s subjective time, by the way – objective time ~ distance / c ) that were close enough to get here with a sustainable, nigh undetectable infrastructure (or the technology to build it) but far enough away that we haven’t detected their civilization (bonus points for suggesting a nearby Dyson sphere here, by the way… negative points for suggesting a nearby ringworld, though ;-)). All in all, the odds don’t seem very good. I’ll be glad to offer my opinion on the likelihood of any scenario you propose.

  11. Mike,

    As far as the interface between the spiritual and the psychedelic and the scientific goes, I think of Terrence McKenna’s work as foundational.

  12. Good article, Mike. I’ve got no problem with your willingness to explore the possibilities.

    I think it would be naive to think that we are the first life, and the most advanced. I have theorized that what many consider to be our Creator/God is an alien who achieved the technological advances to travel and create life. For me, that is much more plausable than the theory that a comet shit on a rock and the sun hatched us. I also believe that some of what we consider to be evolution may be the result of interference by that creator or those who succeeded the creator. This theory presents a problem for both evolutionists, and those who believe in a God that was always all-knowing. My theory relies on a creator that learned. Such blasphemy.:)

    I have first-hand knowledge of government cover-up. Exposing it would serve no useful purpose. It took place too long ago, and I have seen efforts to prevent it from happening again. For me, that is sufficient. It does, however, permit me to admit that the government will “cook the books” in order to let the masses feel more comfortable.

  13. Mike,

    I personally believe that UFO’s are indeed alien spacecraft and that the possibility of this being the case is narrowed by the unfathomable size of the Universe, its age and the trillions of stars that exist. I further believe that the governments have covered this up to prevent what in their minds is public panic and to deny the truth that if UFO’s do indeed exist; our technological capacity could not deal with them if necessary.”

    I can’t say that I “believe” it in the sense I have confirmed it, but I can say that it would seem to be “expected” that there is other life out there.

    Many famous and competent scientists expected to find signs of extraterrestrial civilizations, and more than that explained some things our telescopes would see as evidence of advanced civilizations.

    The government cover ups may be knee jerk reactions to what happened when a radio program began to broadcast an HG Wells mock Martian invasion some decades back, plus, the portrayal of aliens as beings who act like humans do (killing lots of humans) also scares people.

  14. “It does, however, permit me to admit that the government will “cook the books” in order to let the masses feel more comfortable.” -NoWay

    Well, that bears repeating…

    “I have first-hand knowledge of government cover-up. Exposing it would serve no useful purpose.” -NoWay

    Secrets seem to give their “keepers” a sense of power. It’s a sort of “there, there, now…” mentality. Never mind the damage…

  15. NoWay,

    Personally, I believe that something like what was seen in the Miller-Urey experiments is much more likely than some aliens mistaken for gods due to Clarke’s law. But maybe that’s just me. I also have no problem believe that the government tries to cover things up (and sometimes succeeds). My question for you (and Mike) would be – what do our alien benefactors (or overlords) get out of it?

  16. Slartibartfast,

    “My question for you (and Mike) would be – what do our alien benefactors (or overlords) get out of it?”

    Maybe the same satisfaction that an artist gets from painting a picture, or a scientist performing an experiment. Why did Bach create music? The reward must be determined by the creator. A sense of accomplishment? Sometimes the ability to create it is enough motivation.

    If I were to acquire the ability to create life, I think it reasonable to create life of my own design and see how it develops and interacts with other life forms.

    Maybe it’s a vast competition between those who have learned to create life? Which begs the question; Who created the our creators? And who/what created them? Some things are beyond our minds ability to grasp…though we will continue to attempt to find answers. Fascinating!

  17. Mike Spindell

    as to AY,

    I’ve never talked about my spiritual beliefs, you might be surprised. However, you must remember that “back in the day” four decades or so ago, I was a hippie and consumed a lot of psychedelic drugs that taught me “reality” could sometime not be what your senses imagine. However, most of the films I’ve seen and tales I’ve heard about those who delve too much into the spiritual realms have bad outcomes.


    No what I am trying to get at and was not so clear…is You have your beliefs…I support you for yours….I have my beliefs…But FYI, I am not getting into any magic stuff…or Tahitian Christianity…

  18. Tahitian Christianity

    what is that? Sitting on the beach in Tahiti and thinking damn this is grand and having a Mai Tai and mango for communion?

  19. No Way,

    I don’t think your theory holds water – either you need to bootstrap yourself to infinity or you need abiogenesis at some point. In the first case it’s not a scientific theory and in the latter it should be discarded according to Ockham’s razor. Its internal consistency isn’t great, either – for instance, if there are a race of alien progenitors of life out there, why don’t we see the civilizations that they’ve grown? How long did it take them to evolve their skills? What sort of infrastructure/society do they need to have on Earth? Can you fit all of that into a plausible timeline? The most likely thing (in my opinion) would be a race that seeded appropriate planets with life and moved on, but even that seems extremely unlikely to me.

  20. NoWay:

    I have theorized that what many consider to be our Creator/God is an alien who achieved the technological advances to travel and create life.

    Then what created the alien?

    The theory that some polymers got together and started self-replicating seems more likely to me than the infinite regress you propose.

  21. “In the beginning the universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and has been generally considered a bad idea.” – Douglas Adams

  22. Belief in UFOs and little green men is nothing more than 20th century sci-fi religion. It’s as much bu**sh** and stupidity as any religious belief.

    In order for aliens to visit the Earth, ALL of the following must be true:

    1} Life occured on at least one other planet. There is no proof of that.

    2} Intelligent life evolved on at least one other planet. Again, no proof.

    3} Aliens were capable of faster than light technology. There is no proof of such technology, and no habitable planets are within 30 light years of Earth.

    4} Aliens would have to detect our planet. Our radio waves have only been going out for 50 years at the speed of light, and any detection of our planet via telescopes was seen after the light had travelled for millions of years to other planets.

    5} Life occured at the EXACT SAME TIME on another planet as it did here, or aliens somehow knew Earth would be habitable before they came. Even if life existed elsewhere, is it really going to evolve at the same point in the universe’s 13 billion year existence? The Earth and Sun were not formed in the big bang, they are the product of an earlier star going supernova. How would a planet of aliens more than four billion light years away know that a habitable planet even formed?

    There are so many “ifs” and wishful thinkings to be assumed to make any claim of aliens. The only one that could ever hold any water is aliens evolved billions of years ago and sent spacecraft around the universe to possible habitable worlds, placing seeds of life – otherwise known as panspermia, which means we would be aliens. But even that is a load of codswallop, knowing the fact of evolution and abiogenesis.

  23. PSmith makes some good observations. However, I think items 1 & 2 are plausible. Given the billions of stars out there, many of which have planets, I think it is not only possible, but probable there is something we could identify as “life,” if we were able to examine it. We have a good idea of how the planets in our own solar system formed, so the laws of physics and chemistry would apply elsewhere, making the formation of a life creation and sustaining planet a reasonable assumption.

    As for “intelligent” life, that depends on what you call intelligent. Using ourselves as a baseline, again it is not unreasonable to assume that such life forms might have evolved elsewhere. Remember we are talking numbers of stars in such quantities that it is hard to comprehend a number so large. Just the laws of chance creates a reasonable probability at the .05 level of confidence.

    Items 3, 4 & 5 are the real kickers in this scenario which make alien visits so unlikely. Impossible? No. Just incredibility unlikely.

  24. Mike, I haven’t made up my own mind as to whether or not we have been
    visited by someone from another planet. Some of the UFO sightings I
    suspect are from advanced weapons systems being tested by our government at places such as Area 51. But that in no way should diminish
    the possibilty that extraterrestial life does exist. You have your reasons for
    believing in UFOs and I respect that. I consider your contrubtions to this
    blog very thoughtful and filled with much insight and I will continue to do so.

  25. Question, Just like religion….How can one state with certainty that another life form exists or does not exist…..and I am not talking about Bush or Cheney…outside of this solar system….

  26. OS,

    What is your professional opinion of spontaneous combustion…..some think it exists…some think that it is impossible and some other reason is explain….what is yours….

  27. Anonymously Yours:

    “How can one state with certainty that another life form exists or does not exist”

    For the same reason that people are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, or a theory isn’t accepted until it’s tested:

    All propositions are false until proven true. That includes claims of alien life on other planets.

    When you say “maybe it exists, maybe it doesn’t”, you’re no different than someone saying, “Maybe he’s guilty, maybe he isn’t” You cannot say “It may be true” because you want it to be or because of your preconceptions.


  28. @P Smith belief in the possibillity that we have been visited by aliens is nothing like religious belief for a start there is no moral code or significant dogma associated with the belief; sure some believers are more extreme than others but believing in th possibility that aliens have pr do visit us is no different to believing there was more to the JFK assassination than a lone gunman or some other subject where there is gray areas of conjector.

    Religious historical concepts are readily disproven scientifically. We cannot disprove the existance of any gods though. That said having decided what a god should be if one exists then I’ve concluded all religions are wrong because a god should be above vanity and totally secure, ergo not needing worship or even to be believed in and theist religions tend to demand both, but I digress.

    A couple of times in your arguments against the idea of UFOs you use the phrase “there’s no proof” now while I instinctively side with you in not believing we have been visited I’m likely also the person who would have scoffed at the idea the world was a sphere when there was no proof it was.; okay I know it’s not perfectly spherical but you know what I mean.

  29. P Smith,

    Um… Godel proved that there are true propositions which cannot be proven – sorry, but your statement, “All propositions are false until proven true”, is demonstrably false.

  30. AY – I state with certainty that life exists outside our solar system. My reasoning is that everything is a number, and numbers are infinite. Going off of that premise, there will be endless examples endlessly beyond where our perceptions end. (this way I don’t have to cite😛 )

    Are we really that special? Are we the one and only living planet in an endless universe? It seems foolish to me to believe so.

    As for THEM coming HERE, I don’t think so. I don’t know. If they were so frickin advanced maybe they OH WAIT.

    I just figured it out. Tesla was an alien, he was their way of spreading their magnificent technologies- and the greedy humans snubbed it.

    just like Thomas Henry Moray.

  31. P Smith, With all due respect your list is predicated on the assumption that our level of development is such that what we can prove is somehow controlling on the rest of the galaxy and universe when it is not. Until the fifties it was not known that the majority of matter we can see when we look outward were galaxies and not individual stars. The actual configuration and magnitude of the matter in space has become known to us only very recently. When it comes to actual space exploration we are virtually foetal in our development. That we can’t prove something doesn’t really mean much.

    Considering the sheer numbers of stars in our galaxy or local cluster your statements #1 – #3 could be couched in the obverse just as correctly: we currently haven’t the sophisticated means necessary to prove that: 1/ Life did not occurred on at least one other planet; 2/Intelligent life did not evolve on at least one other planet; 3/ Aliens are not capable of faster than light technology.

    Regarding #4, “Aliens would have to detect our planet. Our radio waves have only been going out for 50 years at the speed of light,…”

    Radio waves are not the only way to determine what possible conditions exist on another planet. We are now looking for planets that meet our bias of water being necessary for life as we know it and we aren’t using radio waves, radio waves are not the only method for detecting the possibility that a planet (or moon) might be suitable for life. While looking for water is a perfectly reasonable bias to have requirements wise, it may or may not be appropriate to all life. If it is, there is a lot of water in our own solar system and that is a product of the mechanics of star formation and planet building generally. We are not unique in this regard. There is a lot of water out there. Conveniently, it’s in the regions of space where it would be most useful for the evolution of life as we know it, stellar nurseries. :

    “We can think of these stellar nurseries as giant chemical factories that are producing water vapor at a tremendous rate. The large amounts of water vapor present in regions of star formation will help the interstellar gas to cool, perhaps eventually triggering the birth of a future generation of stars.”

    Regarding #5, “Life occured at the EXACT SAME TIME on another planet as it did here,…”

    If the evolution of life in the galaxy/universe is viewed as a continuing aspect of universal process’ and not a one time event it would seem to me that at any given time there will be many civilizations at a similar age as others give or take some number of millennia. Why is that even required? We have nothing to make a comparison against when postulating the outer limits of the effective lifespan of a species of technologically adept creatures; it could be several hundreds of thousands of years. Why should there even be an upper limit so long as hey are mobile as a race? The “exact same time” has a lot of play in it as a concept.

  32. Seriously, though- the UFO’s are actually intergalactic passenger conveyances filled with alien senior citizens who have come to visit the Grand Canyon and to watch the bizarre Earth Servants fire projectiles at one another. They particularly enjoy watching the Earth Masters, who are small four-legged creatures with tails that oscilate from side to side as each of them pulls an Earth Servant behind it. The tourists find it very amusing when the Earth Master expells a brown substance from it’s rear aperture onto the ground and the Earth Servant immediately picks it up and saves it in a flexible transparent container, apparently to be worshiped later at another location.

  33. AY, regarding spontaneous combustion. There are no proven cases where spontaneous combustion has taken place with a credible witness.

    There have been experiments using hog carcasses. It appears that if there is a source of ignition, such as a candle or other flame, the carcass fat can combust in a slow fashion that replicates the cases reported of alleged spontaneous combustion. The body burns, slowly, but pretty much completely. It tends to remain localized and may not set the surroundings on fire.

  34. Mike Spindell,

    Good on you but I won’t be following you onto the ship. I won’t deny the possibility of its existence but I’ll spend what time I have left in this body looking for the dimensions whose shadow forms I see all around me.

    “Everything in any dimension is also present in the form of a shadow in all dimensions below it.” Carl Sagan

  35. If it weren’t such a long time held belief I’d chalk it up to senility. But instead it must be stupidity. I was going to reiterate that it’s inconceivable that a spacecraft could travel faster than the speed of light and the enormous distances of space, millions of light years to most stars that have an earthlike planet capable of sustaining life, but P. Smith beat me to it.

  36. Karl Friedrich: “…but P. Smith beat me to it.”

    But he didn’t do a very good job of it. None of his statements can be proven as factual (as negative statements) and governing the debate.

    There are limitations to what any current technology we have can do though. I’m not prepared to say a hundred or so years down the road we won’t be capable of something more or that there are not others that have found solutions to the limits we see before us today. Ascribing our limitations to every other race that exists is egocentric as is denying the probability of their existence. It’s an egocentricity we have done nothing to earn and one I won’t grant merely by virtue of our existence IMO.

    The vastness of space and the limits imposed by the speed of light (regarding the accrual of mass of a speeding object) are problems now and seemingly absolutes that can be universally applied. Until we are sufficiently advanced technologically to prove that and as well, that conventional propulsion is the only way to approach space travel I will, in the interim, simply send greetings and welcome our space traveling sisters when they arrive.:-)

  37. To everyone saying c is the speed limit, I have one word for you and Professors Einstein, Thorne, Penrose and Hawking agree . . .


    There are more ways to travel than simply compounding velocity. We know it’s possible. We just don’t know how to do it yet and at the rate we’re going as a species, we never will.

    That strange noise you’re hearing in the distance? Is advanced alien cultures breathing a collective sigh of relief. Relief that a primitive species whose primary occupation is tribal warfare isn’t going to be spreading their messy and ridiculous petty internal conflicts among the stars.

  38. LK,

    What we think we know, we know based on the information that we have at hand. Who would have ever thought that man was supposed to fly….it only took man to put wings on something…say 500 hundred years or so….I think Michelangelo drew pictures of a man flying……. so whats a few hundred years…

  39. Blouise-

    Indeed! Actually the joke about aliens seeing a person picking up after a dog and concluding that the human was subservient came from a comedian i heard but I can’t remember who it was. Might have been Bill Maher or George Carlin.

  40. lotta ^..^,

    In fact, P Smith’s statement that unproven things are false shows a profound misunderstanding of logic (on the other hand, your critique of his points was right on…). Things are true or false regardless of whether or not you can prove them or whether or not you have any evidence of any kind. You can’t always determine if something is true, nor can you always prove true theorems.


    I don’t believe that we will ever be able to use wormholes for travel, although I admit that I’m no expert and could easily be wrong on that one. I would also point out that gravity effectively travels faster than light (or, more accurately, gravitons, if they exist, would seem to have to travel faster than light – the Earth is attracted to the sun, not where the sun was eight minutes ago. A curved spacetime solves this problem on the map (light travels along geodesics in spacetime which is curved by mass – no particle is required to carry gravity), but I’m not sure that anyone understands what the territory is really like. Let’s hope we find out more in 2014…

  41. Slarti, we must always be mindful of what Arthur C. Clarke once said on the subject. He said that science, sufficiently advanced, is indistinguishable from magic.

    Imagine what people two hundred years ago might think of our current science. Just speculating, I like to think the only person on the planet who might not be surprised would be Ben Franklin.

  42. Slarti,

    The problem with wormholes is stabilization. I think the key to that might be understanding quantum gravity.

  43. Gene, not to nitpick, but Tesla was in his prime about 100 years ago, not 200. I think it would be easier for a turn of last century scientist to understand our modern world than one from a century earlier.

    Einstein was only about 25 years Tesla’s junior, so they were contemporaries, scientifically.

  44. Mike.

    In my view the evidence of UFO appearances already publicly available from credible sources is such that it seems irrational to deny their reality. However assuming that the sightings are caused by extraterrestrial space vehicles is going too far, for one thing such an explanation may be insufficiently weird. For another it is obvious that intelligence is involved and what observers see may not be reality but visions conjured up by that intelligence for its own purposes.

    I was skeptical about the existence of the UFO phenomenon until I bought one of J Allen Hynek’s books at a railway bookstall and read it on a train trip. J Allen Hynek was an astronomer at North Western University who was recruited by the US Air Force’s project Blue Book as a resident debunker of sightings as misperceptions of meterological and astronomical events. During his time at Blue Book he had access to the accumulated files which he analysed and which led him to the conclusion that although 95% of reports had obvious mundane explanations there remained 5% for which no conventional explanation sufficed. Hynek examined in detail a subset of this 5% involving multiple unrelated and separated observers of high credibility.

    It may be prejudice because he was the author I read first, but my recommendation to any one interested in the subject would be to acquire one of J Allen Hynek’s UFO books. Second I would recommend “Passport To Magonia” and “Messengers of Deception by Jacques Vallee”. J Allen Hynek makes clear that he did not study UFOs, rather UFO reports. He points out that until someone actually admits having custody of a UFO, reports of sightings are all that can be studied.

    Jacques Vallee started in the same way as Hynek, but eventually came to the conclusion that when a person sees a UFO it may not be an accident, but a case where someone intended him to observe a UFO, the sighting may be an illusion like the rubber inflatable tanks set up in Southern England before D Day to convince the Nazis that the invasion would be elsewhere than where it actually took place. Also Vallee does not dismiss the contactees like Adamski, he thinks they may be truthful although the tall Nordic saucer pilots with long blond hair claiming to Adamski to be from Venus are obviously not.

    I think Vallee’s argument that people are seeing little playlets put on for their benefit is convincing as some of the sightings in Hynek’s books fit that pattern. In particular the Levelland Texas incident in which multiple drivers on roads radiating from Levelland one night had essentially the same experience. They each observed a dark object blocking the road in front of them and their vehicles engine and lights failed. The object then glowed, rose into the air and flew off after which their vehicles became operational again.

    Vallee postulates that an intelligence is trying to introduce ideas into the human community however an alternative theory is that suggested by Douglas Adams in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to The Galaxy, that it is all due to alien teenagers playing jokes on the inhabitants of primitive planets.

    It is obvious that whatever is behind the phenomenon is more technologically and therefor militarily advanced than we are, that if they want to they can exterminate us in a few minutes. One has to question why they have not already done so – as I would certainly advise them to do – perhaps they don’t want to or perhaps they do not consider that we have yet reached a technological level that makes us a serious threat.

  45. Since we have now invoked both Tesla and Arthur C. Clarke, and it is late on a Saturday evening, how about a little 2001 Space Odyssey theme on a Tesla coil?

  46. Gene,

    I think that the question is one that depends on the nature of the territory – something that will also determine what kind of map structure will be useful. I agree that quantum gravity would be an extremely promising map if we could learn it. Mostly, I’m just kicking my whole interest in the standard model and all that quantum down the road a few years so I can let the guys (and gals) at the LHC figure it out (I’m doing the same thing with George R.R. Martin and Stephen R. Donaldson…). I have read that some physicists think that they have discovered the Higgs boson in old data, but they’ve got a bunch of work to do before they’re sure. In any case, I think that experiment catching up to theory every once in a while is good – and probably long overdue in this case.


    I think that a corollary to Clarke’s law is that a being possessing even more sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from divinity. I think Old Ben would have been shocked – for about a second, then he would have started trying to understand it… That would really be a treat – to watch one of the great scientists and inventors of the past learn about modern technology. I’d love to see Henri Poincaré learn about modern dynamical systems theory and computers – given how much he understood with just pencil and paper (or chalk and slate…) I think what he would be able to do with such powerful tools would be amazing.


    You don’t live in other dimensions except in Buckaroo Banzai* – however many dimensions there are, they’re all around us all the time. we can’t live in just one of them any more than we could live in flatland (i.e. live in your height and width but not your breadth…)

    * But we are going to Planet Ten real soon…

  47. I always expected that the list of authors of UFO books would contain a fair number of kooks, but after buying such books for years I have found that not to be the case. Some authors are too ready to make the assumption that what people are seeing are space vehicles but they are otherwise sober and considered.

    Vallee’s idea that something is putting on a show is supported by the fact that the phenomenon sometimes mimics human technology that appears a few years later. For example in the late 19th century there was a spate of sightings of air ships in the mid west of the US. Typically an airship would land at a farm and the bearded inventor in control would ask to borrow a spanner or something to make a minor repair and would state that the airship is his new invention which he is soon going to disclose publicly. The airship would then take off to never again be seen. There was also a spate of airship sighting in New Zealand in the late nineteenth or early twentieth centuries, I forget which and in the nineteen thirties phantom biplanes were flying among the New York skyscrapers in the midst of a blizzard when no sane aviator would have risked taking off. The typical case of UFOs causing cars to stall looks like the effects of a magnetohydrodynamic aerospace craft, something which we could build had we a power supply of sufficient power density. Such a magnetohydrodynamic craft would produce ionized air that would short out the spark plugs of a vehicle, diesels should not be affected except that their lights might dim.

  48. OS,

    Oooh, I want a pair of Tesla coil speakers!


    The question is, how much of that 5% has mundane explanations that AREN’T obvious? I think it is likely closer to all of it than it is to none of it. In any case the assumption that there is unquestionably intelligence behind that 5% seems unwarranted. Admittedly, I haven’t looked at the evidence, but is there anything which really requires non-human intelligence to explain? Especially ultra-powerful beings of unguessable goals and motives? Where have I heard that sort of thing before…

  49. Slartibartfast.

    You sound like me before I read Hynek.

    I suggest you read one of Hynek’s books for example this one.

    Hynek is an excellent example of scientific skepticism. He does not jump to any unwarranted conclusions. Read Hynek’s classification of sightings and examine the characteristics of each class and I think you will see that most of the 5% can not in fact be explained by mundane causes. Aircraft for example are constrained by Newton’s laws on mass velocity and acceleration, they cannot fly around a polygonal path with sharp corners and they cannot stop dead or accelerate from 0 to 6000kph in an instant. Also a single aircraft also cannot split apart into multiple vehicles nor can multiple aircraft combine in to one. To take an observer’s description of what he has seen and to dismiss it as being a misperception of a mundane cause is to imply that that observer is an idiot. This is why Hynek studied in detail only a subset of the Blue Book reports where there were multiple observers of high credibility, police, miltary pilots, radar operators and airline pilots.

    We should not assume that because people see things that they see what they appear to see. People viewing a magician’s performance see things that do not happen, one can only speculate what kind of illusions could be created with a technology a good bit higher than ours. What we can be certain is that intelligence and high technology are involved but we should not assume they comes from outer space or that any of the apparent space vehicles are real.

  50. CM,

    Hynek may not be jumping to unwarranted conclusions, but you certainly are. I’m not calling anyone an idiot – I’m just saying that some of the unexplained things (I would think most…) have a mundane explanation that we just don’t understand right now. Any theory which requires extra-terrestrial intelligence is just like Intelligent Design – long on assumptions and short on explanations – scientists tend to like things the other way around…

  51. given the problems of distances in Einsteinian (sp?) space and that all of the ufo craft seen are generally small and that no larger craft have been seen in space (unless we haven’t been told) i would offer a slightly different scenario

    the people who claim to have seen beings from the craft(s) (including Roswell in 1947), most describe humanoid beings (at least in the U.S.). the idea of parallel evolution plus the ability of interplanetary flight make more unlikely they would be from somewhere else.

    so if i would have to make a guess i would be more inclined to say they were from somewhen else not somewhere else.

  52. Nal.

    Your estimation of the probabilities may be biased by our current level of technology. Obviously aliens limited by a technology equivalent to ours would have a hard time reaching us but our technology is advancing quickly, why is it difficult to assume that interstellar aliens may have advanced in some areas enough to make interstellar travel possible for them. In any case assuming that whatever is behind the UFO phenomenon is from another star is assuming too much, they may actually have been here all along (ultraterrestials) or they may be from another dimension or even another universe. The other assumption you are making is that the development of life is extremely unlikely, that the jump from non-life to life is huge. However biological research has continually narrowed the gap between life and non life. Until we ourselves have decent interstellar travel and can examine a fair number of earthlike planets around other stars, we can make no estimate on how likely or unlikely the arise of life is. However, if life exists here that proves it is possible and that it certainly exists somewhere else in a very big universe.

    I see the number of reports from credible individuals and conclude that not all of them can be hoaxers. As I said earlier, before I read Hynek I was of the opinion that all people who wrote about UFOs were kooks, many books later I have come to the conclusion that they are not. Their books however do mostly cover the same ground so anyone who wants a taste of the subject can safely restrict him/herself to those of Hynek and Vallee.

  53. pete,

    I’ve read accounts of sightings where the ships were huge (a mile plus in length).

    Regarding parallel evolution, there are a couple of things to consider. One, nature favors bilateral symmetry. Two, there are only so many solutions to a problem. Consider flight for example. Mammals (bats), reptiles (pterosaurs), insects and birds all evolved to live in the air and while there solutions have structural differences in the details, the basic solution is a wing. That is not to say there cannot be “truly” alien aliens. Life based on exotic chemistry or for extreme gravitational environments might be radically different. For example, life from a silicon based ecosystem might resemble very slow moving crystalline trees. If they came from a world roughly the same size as ours that had liquid water, their forms in basic terms are likely to be not terribly different from our own.

  54. Slartibartfast.

    There is no such thing as the supernatural, there are however natural phenomena that are not yet understood. One can argue that technology is a natural phenomenon because the life forms who originated it are natural. So if you mean that the UFO phenomena is mundane in this sense you are playing with words. It is however something that we do not yet understand but that does not mean it is intrinsically incapable of being understood.

    The 5% of cases that Hynek labels incapable of being explained by mundane causes are such that if the observer is describing accurately what he actually saw, aircraft, helicopters, planets, satellites and falling space junk are ruled out.

  55. CM,

    Think of a Venn diagram of those 5% of cases. Divide them into 3 mutually exclusive groups:

    1. Things which have mundane explanations which do not involve a craft with an intelligent pilot/controller – i.e. things that have a scientific explanation that we just don’t understand.

    2. Incidents involving craft/technology that is piloted or controlled by humans (any sort of secret government experiments, prototype aircraft etc.).

    3. Incidents involving non-human intelligence.

    I’m maintaining that all of that 5% is from (1) or (2)…

  56. Slartibartfast.

    J Allen Hynek would not have agreed with you about the 5%. His conclusion was that for none of them was an explanation involving clouds, planets, aircraft, satellites, meteors, stars, falling space junk or weather balloons adequate. Your opinion has no value until you have actually read descriptions of some of the 5% of unexplainable reports yourself. When you have done so then ask yourself whether it is possible to explain the sighting with any of the explanations in the previous list without also implying that the original observers are idiots suffering from grossly distorted perceptions or bad memory which embellishes what they actually saw beyond recognition.

    I recommend you read some of Hynek’s books not just because he was the author who introduced me to the UFO phenomena but because he was an admirably cautious and skeptical scientist who did not assert anything that could not be proved.

  57. Slartibartfast,

    I’m responding to the comment above that you made earlier in this discussion. I recall reading many years ago in Stephen Hawkings book “A Brief History of Time” something like the following: As an object nears the speed of light its mass increases.

    If that is true, wouldn’t it be nearly impossible/impossible for any object to actually travel at the speed of light. What do you think?

  58. Elaine, based on what we know now, it is physically impossible to approximate the speed of light. It is the ultimate speed limit. On the other hand, as was pointed out earlier, gravity does not seem to have a measurable speed. It is instantaneous, as far as can be determined. It takes about eight minutes for light from the sun to reach the earth. However, the sun’s gravity acts on the earth’s orbit now, not as the orbit was eight minutes ago.

  59. Slartibartfast.

    Maker of fjords, you postulate that Hynek’s 5% unexplainable reports can be divided into 3 classes as follows:-

    1. Things which have mundane explanations which do not involve a craft with an intelligent pilot/controller – i.e. things that have a scientific explanation that we just don’t understand.

    2. Incidents involving craft/technology that is piloted or controlled by humans (any sort of secret government experiments, prototype aircraft etc.).

    3. Incidents involving non-human intelligence.

    You assert that most of the 5% would fall into categories 1 and 2. If a sighting falls into category 1 it is still a valid subject for study and a valid recipient of the term UFO.

    As for category 2, today it is possible that some secret high tech aircraft originating from the Skunk Works could be responsible for some UFO reports, but that was not so in the ’50s or during World War II when airman were seeing foo fighters.

    As for category 3. I think we can rule out human intelligence being behind any UFO reports as humans with such a high technology would have used it to conquer and enslave the rest of us by now.

    It is premature to assume that UFOs are actually space craft originating from creatures from another star. Certainly they appear to be spacecraft and certainly there is an intelligence behind their appearance but they may no more be real spacecraft than the army of inflatable rubber tanks set up in Southern England by one of Eisenhower’s generals was a real armored division.

    There are so many possibilities that it is premature to assert that any one is the explanation. Consider these few:-

    1/ UFOs may be related to beings that have lived on Earth beside us for many thousands, tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of years but kept hidden from us;

    2/ If indeed some UFOs are spacecraft whose original origin is another star, the occupants may not be biological beings from that star, rather robots better able to survive interstellar travel at high speeds involving lethal radiation or travel at slow speeds requiring thousands of years;

    3/ The origin of the phenomenon may be another universe or another dimension of our quantum multiverse;

    4/ Some scientists now speculate that our apparent universe may be a simulation in an enormous computer in an outer real universe. In that case programmers in that outer universe could arbitrarily create phenomena in ours and these would appear supernatural. Many UFO students claim visions of the virgin Mary as UFO events especially the one at Fatima.

  60. Elaine.

    Somewhere recently I read that traveling at near light speed would involve exposure to radiation like that from the beam of the large hadron collider which would be lethal to biological life. However interstellar travel at lower speeds may indeed be possible for biological entities. They may be able to put themselves into suspended animation or they may use generation ships in which the distant descendants of those who set out are the ones to arrive at the destination.

    We no longer consider using humans for planetary exploration but rely on increasingly sophisticated robot probes. Hypothetical interstellar aliens may have done the same using robots of a complexity beyond what is possible with our current technology. They may also use biological robots that appear to be creatures. They might not need to send more than the pattern for such creatures on the full journey, just activate the patterns to build them at journeys end. This might explain the humanoids ranging from long blond haired Venusians to grey dwarves with big eyes.

    Anyone who looks at how far our technology has come in a few centuries and does not allow for the possibility that somewhere else technology has gone far beyond where we are now and uses what is possible at our current level of technology as an argument that others cannot do what what we cannot do is silly.

  61. The same goes to computer technology….who’d ever thought they basically would have an electronic abacus…..reading 1 and O’s…..

    I was thinking the other day how smart the smart phone really is…Although it can do a lot of great things….used to be…people had to actually dial numbers…which forced the person to memorize them or to write them down, look them up…now all’s you have to do is remember the name…if put in correctly….it reduces it down to a number which has been assigned to them….isn’t what we are really talking about basically numbers in science anyway…..

    In conclusion…You think what we know as absolute…but is it? If it is absolute then we do we have change on a daily basis….

  62. Carlyle,

    To be sure mankind has advanced in its scientific knowledge and technological development in the past few centuries. We have in our country, at present, many people and politicians who appear to be “anti-science”–of the type who’d commit people like Copernicus or Galileo to house arrest for heresy because of their beliefs.


    I wasn’t suggesting that there might not be other beings in other galaxies or solar systems who may be advanced technologically. I was asking Slarti if he thought it was impossible to travel at the speed of light because of the laws of nature/the universe. If Stephen Hawking wrote that travel at the speed of light was probably impossible, it certainly gives me pause for thought.

  63. Elaine,

    Other than the G-Force…..and if properly suspended in the vehicle for travel…I do not see why it is not possible….Everything that everyone is arguing for or against is theory….They can prove that it is possible, how….They can prove that it is impossible, how….

    Should planes not fly or have a greater drag if they have a 100 geese inside of the body flapping it’s wings….or does this not have any net affect on the outside of the airship….

  64. AY,

    I’m not a physicist. I was simply asking a question. Traveling at a speed of 186,000 miles per second is pretty fast. At that speed, one could reach the moon in less than two seconds.

  65. To expand on the travel at the speed of light question. It has been proven that a single photon cannot travel faster than the speed of light. A photon has no mass, and can therefore travel at v = c = 299,792,458 meters/second (or, 186,282 miles per hour).

    If a particle has mass, it would require infinite energy to accelerate to v = c and therefore would also require infinite energy to get it stopped at the destination.

  66. Lee Speigel
    Become a fan of this reporter

    UFO Sightings Increase 67 Percent In 3 Years, History Channel Investigates

    “Unemployment, gas prices, and fear over global warming aren’t the only things skyrocketing — so are mysterious objects rocketing through the sky.

    The Mutual UFO Network — the largest privately funded UFO research organization in the world — tells The Huffington Post that more people than ever are reporting unidentified flying objects, mostly in the United States and Canada.

    “Over the past year, we’ve been averaging 500 sighting reports a month, compared to about 300 three years ago [67 percent],” MUFON international director Clifford Clift said.

    “And I get one or two production companies contacting me every week, wanting to do stories on UFOs.”

  67. OS,

    You as a guy with forensic knowledge can surely attest to the fact that since you have started things have changed…dramatically….in depth and knowledge…Blood used to be typed…now its now to the DNA probabilities….But at each level it has improved dramatically…

  68. Elaine,

    I’m working on an answer for you… in the meantime I’ll leave you with this relativistic limerick (author unknown):

    There once was a racer name Fisk
    Who took an incredible Risk
    When his dragster caught traction,
    The Lorentz contraction
    Reduced his wazoo to a disk.

  69. Elaine M.,

    It is readily apparent that I am not either a physicist…..What I do know is that things that I thought I knew are not as concrete as when I knew them to begin with…I really believe all things are possible…whether I believe them or know them to be a truth or fact…I am open to new ideals all of the time….Wasn’t some composer deaf and still performing….before we had the invention of light….

  70. Elaine.

    According to our present knowledge travel at nearly speed of light would be useless because the passengers would be killed by the radiation which would be of the order of intensity as the beam from the large hadron collider. This radiation would consist of nothing more than the space ship crashing into interstellar matter in its way. Of course maybe future technology could provide a shield.

    Travel at near light speed would also require an enormous amount of fuel weighing much more than the weight of the spacecraft. The spacecraft could not carry enough of it as a lot of energy in the fuel carried would be wasted accelerating the remaining fuel. One way around this would be to use a Bussard Ram Jet which uses magnetic fields to scoop up interstellar hydrogen and causes it to undergo fusion reaction and generates a propulsive jet of fusion byproducts. Of course the idea of the Bussard ram jet may prove impossible to implement.

    However we do not need to assume near light speed or faster than light travel. Interstellar distances could be bridged at slower speeds as long as the crews have some means of surviving the trip time, by breeding multiple generations during the journey or by suspended animation or perhaps by constructing robot crews that are not bothered by a trip of a few tens of thousands of years.

  71. Slarti,

    Thanks for the limerick!

    Here’s a “relative” quatrain that I wrote many years ago:

    I’m taking a trip in the rocket, my dear.
    I’ll travel far faster than light.
    I’m leaving tomorrow–but don’t you fret
    For I will return tonight.

  72. Next we’ll be hearing that wormholes & strings make possible a great gaseous invertabrate hovering in the stratosphere administering justice and deciding who shall have eternal afterlife.

    Pseudoscientific speculation & wishful thinking about UFO’s are the new religion in an age of decay where the world’s once major religions are defined by sodomite priests & suicide bombers.

    In a declining empire UFO’s are the new heart in a heartless world.

  73. I have learned one thing in this last few years….Regardless of how I feel, I do not have to engage in any disagreements….and when I do, I have given you the power to have an affect how I feel…..

    The 4 Nobel Truths….

    1) Suffering does exist
    2) Suffering arises from attachment to desires
    3) Suffering ceases when attachment to desire ceases
    4) Freedom from suffering is possible by practicing the Eightfold Path…..

  74. It should be added that the sociological basis for the rise of such New Age fantasies is the decimation of an organized working class, that is, the only class that has the historic possibility or diverting humanity from this iniquitous social arrangement based on predation, perpetual wars & the inherent ecological destruction of private profits before people’s needs.

  75. There once was a blogger named Spindell
    Who thought he’d avoid going to hell
    Reading Von Daniken, not Chaucer
    He’d see flying saucers
    Every time shooting stars fell

  76. Thank you everyone so far for providing such an interesting and erudite discussion. Since it’s not my policy to get too involved in the Posts I put up for discussion, I won’t answer each of many good questions asked of me thus far. however, I do think given the questions raised that some further comments are in order. My first is to CM for reminding me how important Hynek was in his contributions to this subject, I should have referenced him.
    Not only have I read his books, but I had the pleasure of hearing him in many late night discussions on the excellent Long John Nebel radio show, in NYC, in the 50’s and 60’s. The also had Maj. Kehoe. Those discussions provided the spark of my interest.

    When I say I believe in them, my belief is definitely not one of faith, or of a “religious nature”. Were it such, it would be impossible for me to accept any evidence to the contrary. However, my belief is based on deductions that I’ve made from the facts at hand as I see them. Though I’m not specifically scientifically inclined, I do read and watch a lot about science. There are scientists today who do theorize that FTL travel is possible and who are delving into it. See the excellent “Through the Wormhole” series hosted by Morgan Freeman. That show also has had episodes on “String Theory”, particle physics and quantum mechanics. I can barely keep up with these ideas, but they engender a wonder in my thought processes as to the possibilities that the Universe is a far stranger place then we imagine. A corollary to this is as far as humanity has gone in science, we are still in our
    infancy as to our full understanding.

    As was mentioned by many, Arthur C. Clarke’s postulate about humans running into an advanced race, has been well known to me, since I’ve been an avid Sci-Fi fan since age 8. This was why I included references to the writings of Sitchin, Velikovsy and Von Danniken. Ancient history is also one of my favorite subjects and these men, with at times over zealousness, have
    allowed me to dovetail both UFO’s, religion and archaeology together in my mind.

    The creation myths and religious beliefs of the Sumerians (c 3,000 BCE), for instance, can be seen as referring to aliens creating humanity via cloning from apes and their step pyramids as landing places for Gods coming from a “mother ship” in orbit. “The Mahabharata” of India currently speculated as dating to 1,500 BCE (or even much earlier) is an epic description of a war possibly fought with airships, missiles and ray weapons. Ezekiel’s portion of the Torah, his “wheel”, “chariot” and “Angels”, could be read as descriptions of alien’s and their conveyances.

    Too often the ancient texts available to us have been viewed as the writings of primitive minds, steeped in superstition and story telling bearing no relation to history. When Troy was discovered in the 19th Century, to some at least, ancient texts were looked at anew. While the “Arnold Sighting” gave rise to “flying saucer” then UFO interest, it was actually the latest (at that date) of unexplained things seen throughout history.

    Having been born in the early 40’s I’ve watched the world around me change to a fantastic degree and the science I learned in High School become obsolete in light of new discoveries. Just in my lifetime the world has change phenomenally. If we don’t kill each other off, who knows what the future holds in store and who really knows what impossibilities will become mundane realities? I survived a terrible heart condition that killed both my parents by age 54, only because of technology that became available after their deaths.

    Scientists like Slarti and OS should remain skeptical because that is what true scientists do, but I have no such limitation and so can speculate on possibilities not deemed possible.

  77. There once was a blogger named Spindell,
    A non believer in Heaven or Hell,
    He let his mind wander and wonder,
    “Impossibilities” he deigned to ponder,
    He did it for fun, he let his mind run,
    And shibboleths he cast asunder.

    There once was a man called Karl
    A human being of serious demeanor,
    His mind couldn’t play, nor could he take larks,
    Since all prospective thought he must filter,
    Through the perspective cant of Karl Marx.

    Lighten up Karl, unless you’re my age, you haven’t done half in your life that I’ve done in my work with people oppressed by this society, nor have you put your career on the line as many times in that pursuit. People who can only see the world via the entirety of their political views are not only boring, but ultimately ineffective, since real people find it hard to relate to or be led by them. By the way I’ve always been a lousy poet.

  78. Hi Elaine! – let’s go to school…😉

    If you’re driving down the road at 50 mph and throw a bowling ball forward at 50 mph, the bowling ball appears to be going 100 mph to an observer on the roadside and 50 mph to the driver. Mythbusters showed that if you throw the ball backwards at 50 mph it drops straight down from a roadside frame of reference. They did not, however, account for relativistic effects. So, in Mythbusters tradition, let’s ramp it up…

    A very SPECIAL* Mythbuster’s thought experiment

    Okay, so when we last left the build team, Grant was driving the pickup, Tory was in the back with an air cannon and a bowling ball (and just who’s idea was that?) and Kari was monitoring the high-speed on the roadside. First, let’s go on location just outside of the heliopause – we don’t want any interference from massive gravitating bodies and comets and Venutians and whatnot. Next, we’ll give Grant his very own rocket ship (he wanted to RC it, but we didn’t want to deal with the blue and red-shifts and another frame of reference…) and Tory an ε-cannon (a cannon that can shoot a projectile within ε of c, where ε is arbitrarily small – he hasn’t been this happy since he got to fire the minigun and says the only thing that would be better is if it were made of duct tape – Adam and Jamie are working on it for the revisit…). Kari has marked out a light-year long course and ditched the high-speed camera for the ultra-mega-enormous speed camera which can detect the velocity** and wavelength and time of any photon it sees.

    [You should imagine a montage with time-lapse going on in the background…]

    Now, let’s start off with some control runs. Grant will fly the course at 0.75c, 0.99c, and 0.999999c [note: because Grant is clever at the math and stuff, he’s going to go dimensionless, so we’ll do the standard thought experiment trick and let c = ℏ = π = 1 (a little theoretical physics joke there – just let c = 1, it makes the math easier…)]. When they reach the exact center of the course, Tory will fire the ε-cannon backward at the same speed the ship is going. In each of these runs, Kari sees Tory shoot a bowling ball that remains perfectly motionless after it leaves the ε-cannon. That’s not all of the data we’re collecting, though – we’ve got a special non-relativistic timing system which can measure duration at multiple locations in the same frame of reference and report them to Kari instantaneously and Grant has his digital watch (which has a stopwatch function accurate to within ε…) We’ll also assume they can all communicate without time-lag or time-snyc issues. At 0.75 c, Kari times the run at 1.33333 years or about 487 days. Grant, on the other hand, gets a time of about 322 days – exactly as Einstein predicted. The other runs are:

    0.99 K: 369 days G: 52 days
    0.999999 K: 365 days G: a little over 12 hours

    Now let’s turn the ε-cannon around and have Tory fire it in the same direction (and at the same speed) as the ship. So Sir Ike says that Kari should see the bowling ball going at a speed of 1.5 and almost 2 on the three runs, but that’s not what Kari sees – she sees the following data:

    v1 and v2 observed v1+v2
    0.75 0.96
    0.99 0.99995
    0.999999 0.9999999999995

    Which is exactly what Big Al said it was going to be. So to wrap things up, Sir Ike’s roolz are BUSTED and the Big Al special is CONFIRMED.

    *I’m only dealing with special relativity here – understanding general relativity has been on my bucket list since early childhood, but I fear I didn’t seize the opportunity when I had the chops for it (immediately after learning differential geometry – that’s the dialect of math that the map of general relativity is written in)

    **Remember that velocity is speed plus direction.

    Sorry, I never really got the hang of fanfic…

    I’ll add some bonus material and answer Elaine’s question about mass after dinner…

  79. I’m light enough Mike, except perhaps in the waistline, and although you may be 15 years older there’s no way your experience with organizing the oppressed matches mine.

    I’ve broken bread with people as diverse as Cesar Chavez & Dolores Huerta to Gloria Steinem & Madelyn Murray-O’Hare.

    I’ve been on more strike barricades & social struggles that encircle the globe than you’ve probably read about; marched in every major anti-war demo in DC from ’67 to ’07 and was gassed by Mayor Daley’s cops in ’68 as a latch key kid growing up on the streets of Chicago.

    The decimation of an organized working class in the US, oweing primarily to the class collaborationist politics of the trade union bureaucracy, is the materialist basis for erstwhile left liberals like you dabbling past puberty into New Age fantasies like extra terrestrial visitors.

    Talk about being ineffective. All your putting your “career on the line” and “working with people oppressed by this society” still didn’t prevent you from voting for a corporate shill warmonger like Obama — even though his being a creature of the banks should have been obvious years before his Presidential ambitions when his 1st major vote in the Senate was directly against his constituency, siding firmly with the odious credit card companies in draconian bankruptcy reform legislation.

    I do however concur with you that you’re not much of a poet.

  80. A delightful posting/thread…

    We “humans” are very limited, but it makes us feel better about ourselves to think otherwise… to pound the old chest and make serious, definitive pronouncements about all manner of things… and then, quite suddenly, the universe surprises us, turning knowledge on its head and revealing something that, heretofore, we thought impossible…

  81. ekeyra, If you haven’t seen the documentary “The Spirit Molecule” which documents a scientific study of DMT effects, I highly recommend it. DMT is an amazing substance which I, unfortunately, will probably never get the chance to try.

  82. “I’ve broken bread with people as diverse as Cesar Chavez & Dolores Huerta to Gloria Steinem & Madelyn Murray-O’Hare.”

    Tit for Tat Karl I won’t do, except to say that I’ve had my share of close experiences with famed radicals and I ran for President of the most radical Union of its time in the US, SSEU out of NYC. As for strike barricades I’ve led many a strike and work action. Here’s the problem I have with you and with those like you I met, hung out with and worked with in the 60’s and 70’s.

    Marxists of all stripes bore the shit out of me, not because their analysis is so off, but because they are so self impressed that they are simply boring to be around. That is also their fatal flaw. The common theme among the CP’ers, PLP’er, Trotskyites, etc. I met was Organize!, Organize, Organize!. They were so intent on seeing the world only through their particular party line, that they were unable to organize the masses of people to come to their banner and so obnoxious in the process that they turned the mass of people off. Chavez and Huerta were exceptions to this in the farmworkers cause, but unfortunately that too ran out of steam as the excesses of supporters outside the movement became conflated with their efforts and thus undermined them.

    As for Steinem, Ms. Magazine fast turned into a corporatist apologia finally equating liberation with the duty of women to rise in the business world.
    Murray-O’Hare had guts, but was so shrill in her presentation that she pushed away potential allies. I’m sure they found you splendid, worshipful company.

    You problem is an obvious one. Here I write a rather lighthearted piece, meant to engender discussion of an interesting topic and you dismiss it by
    using economic analysis. Boring, smug and may I add silly.

    “and was gassed by Mayor Daley’s cops in ’68 as a latch key kid growing up on the streets of Chicago.”

    I too went to every major anti-war rally in D.C., but was smart enough not to go to Chicago. This wasn’t because I was afraid, but because I recognized it for the fiasco it turned out to be. You Chicago types didn’t have the guts to go to Miami beach, because then they really would have kicked your collective asses down there in a bloodbath that would have made Chicago seem tame. What you accomplish was electing Nixon President and absolutely assuring the wars continuance for 7 years and they death of
    perhaps millions. You took a viable anti-war movement and destroyed it in your zealotry and party line thinking. Read “Nixonland” by Perlstein for corroboration. however, I doubt that you’d get it because it doesn’t coincide with your “heroic” view of the past.

    That is where we differ, Karl. I learned from my past and you learned nothing but continuing to do the same thing and think the same thoughts over and over. We don’t differ so much politically as we differ in humanity. I
    see and have worked closely with the pain of people and I will not participate in using them in some game of political theorizing, in order to maintain the chimera of doctrinal purity.

    Obama is little more than an old fashioned centrist Republican, but McCain given subsequent events would have screwed things up to a much greater degree. From your doctrinal perspective this would have been good as laying the groundwork for revolution. From my perspective the only way your hoped for revolution goes is into a more Feudal/Fascist State.

    I’ve unfortunately digressed far too much off the topic you’re trying to derail in service of your own petty perspective. You bore me and your hubris annoys me. When I see the life path of some of those you probably hero worshipped in your youth, like Eldridge Cleaver and Jerry Rubin I am reminded of the Dylan line, which you probably will never get:

    “Don’t follow leaders, watch your parking meters.”

  83. Elaine, Your question is a good one and goes to the heart of light-speed travel. If Einstein is correct then mass will increase and progressively greater amounts of energy will be needed to move the ship forward. This has been the great, universal limiting factor regarding propulsion toward the speed of light from all of my lay-person’s reading on the matter. And depressingly so. It means that as far as we are concerned we are trapped here or at a distance that is impractical for single generation flight. All outbound flights would be one-way and of no value for the homeplanet even with suspended animation technology. The only value would be the possible need for a forced migration.

    There is postulated though a method of travel that could short-circuit that problem, a true warp drive that warps space around an essentially stationary ‘ship’. A device that would stretch space in the ‘back’ direction while compressing space in the ‘forward’ direction. Space would move relative to the ship, the ship would, by remaining stationary, not be burdened by the energy/mass limitation.

    A mechanism to do that would rely on negative energy and an effect called the “Casimir effect”.

    “…To show that this energy exists involves a rather simple experiment– take two metal plates in a vacuum, put them close together, and they will be attracted to each other. This is caused by the energy between the plates only being able to resonate at certain frequencies, while outside the plates the vacuum energy can resonate at pretty much any frequency. Because the energy outside the plates is greater than the energy between the plates, the plates are pushed towards each other. As the plates get closer together, the force increases, and at around a 10 nm separation this effect (called the Casimir effect) creates one atmosphere of pressure between them. Because the plates reduce the vacuum energy between them to below the normal zero-point energy, the space is said to have negative energy, which has some unusual properties.

    One of the properties of a negative-energy vacuum is that light actually travels faster in it than it does in a normal vacuum, something that may one day allow people to travel faster than the speed of light in a kind of negative-energy vacuum bubble….”

    I saw the device used to prove that there is a Casimire effect and heard an explanation of it’s weird properties and potential a few months ago in a documentary but I have no idea how far-fetched the possibilities are. As fetching goes though they seem pretty far out. The information in the Wiki article down toward the bottom of the page under the heading “Repulsive forces” is interesting. If it can be scaled up, taken from a liquid medium to air and brought from the mostly theoretical to the practical one would have a device for levitation. Ummmm, not in my lifetime I’m thinking.

    Maybe Slartibartfast or anyone with an actual understanding of such magical things can give this untutored layperson a short “No, that’s all SciFi carp” or ? in response to my enthusiastic but nonexistent understanding of the Casimir effect?

  84. Elaine,

    To answer your question about mass, I had the gang do some relativistic measurements on Buster’s mass (buster was riding along in the spaceship… ;-)).

    If we set Buster’s rest mass equal to 1, then we get the following data for his relativistic mass:

    0.75 1.5 x rest mass
    0.99 7.1
    0.999999 707

    Finally, Tory fired buster out of the ε-cannon at 0.999999 c while the ship was going the same speed – remember that this gives him a speed of 0.9999999999995 c from Kari’s perspective – and his relativistic mass was 1,000,000 times his rest mass.

    Lotta ^..^,

    You’re looking at it all wrong – all you need is a ship that can produce enough thrust to accelerate at 1 G for three years* and you can go anywhere in the universe you like. Slower than light travel may take a long time, but, due to relativity, it sure doesn’t have to seem that way…

    * A trip of ANY distance at a constant acceleration of 1 G (deceleration on the second half of the trip…) takes about 3 years to complete subjectively (the engines would also burn fuel in subjective time). Hops between stars are pretty much one-way, but they are certainly doable…

  85. Lotta ^..^,

    I’ve heard of the Casimir effect (as opposed to the Kashmir effect, which is something completely different… ;-)), but that was the first time I’ve heard it described (you did a good job – thanks). I looked at the Wiki page and it is real science (unless they just made up all of those references to Physics Review Letters, et al.). I wouldn’t get my hopes up on being able to use this effect to raise the speed of interstellar ships just yet though… time dilation is going to be a much better way to “make time fly”, so to speak, for the foreseeable future. (although the think about breakthroughs is that you don’t really see them coming…)


    I told you before, I didn’t make any stinkin’ promises – and even if I had you would have been naive to believe them. That’s my nature. (cf. “the scorpion and the frog”)

    Besides, this was mostly science and the only equation I used was a joke (did you get it?).

  86. I have broken bread with Gibson and gotten snucker with Smoltz…Talk about disfranchisement…oh that is not right, one is back as a sports announcer and the other is a manager for an expansion team.

  87. AY,

    Luol Deng once apologized to me for a bad game and Chris Duhon thanked me for cheering for him and I was once at a party with a Nobel laureate (Oliver Smithies and I were at the UNC pathology department Christmas party – according to a charming emeritus chemistry professor and his delightful wife, he’s the nicest, most humble, Noble laureate you’ll ever meet, but I didn’t get to put that to the test [it would have been trivially true in any case]). Also, Cal Ripken, Jr. says I have a good handshake – so I got that goin’ for me…

    Plus the brother of my cousin’s wife coaches the Cleveland Browns (I’m sure that rooting for the Browns is exactly what I need after the last decade as a Lions fan… ;-))

  88. Yea right Mike:

    1968 Chicago was a peaceful protest until a “police riot” broke out, as an official government report called it.

    To blame the victims there for Nixon illustrates only the poverty of your philosophy.

    I was only 7 but still remember the sting & smell of the tear gas, so I could hardly be responsible for anything.

    As far as idolizing Cleaver & Rubin, that must be a freudian slip referring to your own political trajectory since Eldridge died a Republican and Jerry was killed after being hit by a car on Wilschire Blvd. in front of his $5k/mo. penthouse apartment.

  89. AY,

    Hey, it might just be preseason, but I’ve got some numbers:


    Detroit 34, New England 10

    Matt Stafford 158.3 passer rating

    It took over half a century, but we’re back, baby!


  90. Karl, Thread-jacking on such a lovely day (here anyway) and such a refreshingly innocent thread is not appreciated.

    One small quibble Karl, two actually:

    Everything can be turned into a religion if one views religion as a palliative for a wounded mind or heart. The invasion of our planet by reptilian et’s and their shape-shifting assumption of leadership positions the world over is another common theme in the UFO literature. All of the bad thing that have happened from the excesses of the Nazi death camps to the excesses of Wall Street, are their fault. At least to the folks that can’t conceive that we are actually that bad to each other and at the business of civilization.

    Being an old Wobbly I tend toward the belief that such bad things are just a variant on the ceaseless class war. Then too, the ceaseless war against women plays into that, women being the first oppressed class.

    Thing is, I don’t make a religion of any of it and neither does anyone here from reading their postings for a couple of years. If everything has to come back to your religion that’s your problem, make your point and be less personally insulting.

    Regarding what you refer to as “New Age fantasies”, They are really quite old and cover a multitude of phenomena, natural and unknown. Where some see a multiple lightening strike or ‘bad’ mushrooms in the luncheon gruel, others see an early record of an alien abduction:

    “And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.”–2 KINGS ii. 11

    And then of course there’s this:
    Ezekiel 1: 1-28

    1 Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth [month], in the fifth [day] of the month, as I [was] among the captives by the river of Chebar, [that] the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God.

    2 In the fifth [day] of the month, which [was] the fifth year of king Jehoiachin’s captivity,

    3 The word of the LORD came expressly unto Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the river Chebar; and the hand of the LORD was there upon him.

    4 And I looked, and, behold, a whirlwind came out of the north, a great cloud, and a fire infolding itself, and a brightness [was] about it, and out of the midst thereof as the colour of amber, out of the midst of the fire.

    5 Also out of the midst thereof [came] the likeness of four living creatures. And this [was] their appearance; they had the likeness of a man.

    6 And every one had four faces, and every one had four wings.

    7 And their feet [were] straight feet; and the sole of their feet [was] like the sole of a calf’s foot: and they sparkled like the colour of burnished brass.

    8 And [they had] the hands of a man under their wings on their four sides; and they four had their faces and their wings.

    9 Their wings [were] joined one to another; they turned not when they went; they went every one straight forward.

    10 As for the likeness of their faces, they four had the face of a man, and the face of a lion, on the right side: and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an eagle.

    11 Thus [were] their faces: and their wings [were] stretched upward; two [wings] of every one [were] joined one to another, and two covered their bodies.

    12 And they went every one straight forward: whither the spirit was to go, they went; [and] they turned not when they went.

    13 As for the likeness of the living creatures, their appearance [was] like burning coals of fire, [and] like the appearance of lamps: it went up and down among the living creatures; and the fire was bright, and out of the fire went forth lightning.

    14 And the living creatures ran and returned as the appearance of a flash of lightning.

    15 Now as I beheld the living creatures, behold one wheel upon the earth by the living creatures, with his four faces.

    16 The appearance of the wheels and their work [was] like unto the colour of a beryl: and they four had one likeness: and their appearance and their work [was] as it were a wheel in the middle of a wheel.

    17 When they went, they went upon their four sides: [and] they turned not when they went.

    18 As for their rings, they were so high that they were dreadful; and their rings [were] full of eyes round about them four.

    19 And when the living creatures went, the wheels went by them: and when the living creatures were lifted up from the earth, the wheels were lifted up.

    20 Whithersoever the spirit was to go, they went, thither [was their] spirit to go; and the wheels were lifted up over against them: for the spirit of the living creature [was] in the wheels.

    21 When those went, [these] went; and when those stood, [these] stood; and when those were lifted up from the earth, the wheels were lifted up over against them: for the spirit of the living creature [was] in the wheels.

    22 And the likeness of the firmament upon the heads of the living creature [was] as the colour of the terrible crystal, stretched forth over their heads above.

    23 And under the firmament [were] their wings straight, the one toward the other: every one had two, which covered on this side, and every one had two, which covered on that side, their bodies.

    24 And when they went, I heard the noise of their wings, like the noise of great waters, as the voice of the Almighty, the voice of speech, as the noise of an host: when they stood, they let down their wings.

    25 And there was a voice from the firmament that [was] over their heads, when they stood, [and] had let down their wings.

    26 And above the firmament that [was] over their heads [was] the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone: and upon the likeness of the throne [was] the likeness as the appearance of a man above upon it.

    27 And I saw as the colour of amber, as the appearance of fire round about within it, from the appearance of his loins even upward, and from the appearance of his loins even downward, I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and it had brightness round about.

    28 As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so [was] the appearance of the brightness round about. This [was] the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw [it], I fell upon my face, and I heard a voice of one that spake.

    ET’s baby, hiding in plain sight, perhaps they drop in occasionally to see if we’re so gullible as to still think them gods. Sorry ’bout the probing Zeke.:-)

  91. AY,

    100 geese inside of an airliner is just a really bad flight for the passengers – 100 geese on the outside and you’d better hope Sully is at the stick.

  92. Slartibartfast, I would not have thought you would have been a party to shooting Buster out of an e-cannon, that’s just harsh.:-)

    I like The Myth Busters when I manage to catch them. Their ‘Christmas lights can burn down your house’ show from a few years back was one of the funniest things I ever saw on the TV.

    They wanted to see if stringing too many strands of lights on the tree and leaving it unattended would short the lights and cause an electrical fire or generate enough heat to set a dry tree and/or flammable ornaments on fire. Fair enough.

    They got a tree that was so dry it was brittle and loaded it down with every kind of paper and flammable ornament they could find. They strung on line after line of lights plugging them into each other to overload the circuit. They made sure there was contact between the lights and ornaments and they lit it up! And left it. And nothing happened. It just glowed in a nice Christmas-y manner.

    After some time, hours I think, after a cut-away, they decided that if they upped the amperage on the lights (to simulate a power surge?) maybe something would happen so they did, and nothing happened. The ‘speriment then took on a life of its own. They were going to make that tree burn (or suck all the power out of the power grid trying) so they just kept amping up the power.

    They were reading off the steadily increasing amperage and wondering, marveling really, that nothing was happening. Their voices got tight and high, the wires on the bulb strings started going soft and then melting in spots, the ornaments were unburned, the lights were blazing with the light of 10 suns- so bright was the light that the film they were using to film the thing was flashing in the negative with the overabundance of light! !!!!! A tone of hysterical disbelief crept into their commentary.

    I was laughing so hard I couldn’t make a sound, nor breathe, I thought I was going to wet myself. Finally, finally the darn tree caught fire. The boys weren’t sure if their experiment was a success or not. I figured it was a bona fide Christmas miracle. It was a stupendous episode, should have won an Emmy.

  93. OS,

    The phrase “a true American original” is often overused and misapplied.

    Not so in the case of Johnny Cash.

  94. “1968 Chicago was a peaceful protest until a “police riot” broke out, as an official government report called it.

    I was only 7 but still remember the sting & smell of the tear gas, so I could hardly be responsible for anything.

    As far as idolizing Cleaver & Rubin, that must be a freudian slip referring to your own political trajectory since Eldridge died a Republican and Jerry was killed after being hit by a car on Wilschire Blvd. in front of his $5k/mo. penthouse apartment.”


    I was 24 at the time of Chicago and involved in radical politics. I don’t know what crap your parent’s handed you, but the whole idea of the “peaceful protest” was to provoke a police reaction. This was well known in radical circles way before the protest and was discussed openly. As for your parents bringing you there it was an extremely irresponsible act on their part. Perhaps though, they were just idealistic young kids themselves and didn’t understand the manipulation being pulled.

    Because I was involved in union politics with radicals I learned through hard experience that many who seemed to be on the side of “truth and justice” were no less sociopathic than those we opposed. They didn’t want justices for the masses, they wanted to rule the masses in the same way that any sociopathic politician does.

    As far as your claim to have attended all the Washington Peace Rally’s now I understand. You were a young kid, with idealistic, probably naive parents, who viewed it all from that immature perspective. You didn’t understand how at many “peaceful” rallies the PLP (Maoists to you) would dress in riot gear and literally try to herd people into violent confrontation with police. I know, because I had to fight my way through the PLP people because I WAS there for peaceful protest. Let me inform you why.

    MLK’s genius, taken from Gandhi, was that violent protests don’t work. In his time he and the SCLC did more for African Americans than any other movement. MLK understood that not only would violence beget violence, but it would also lose the sympathy of the majority of the public.

    The organized Marxists came from a belief that you had to light a match through violence to make the repression so bad that the people would rebel, under their guidance of course. They were too blindly doctrinaire to realize a tactic like that wouldn’t work and would in fact boomerang. When this type of thinking took ascendancy in both the Civil Rights and the Peace Movement both movements began to fail. That’s why, not understanding your youth at the time, referenced Cleaver and Rubin. Cleaver, along with Stokely Carmichael helped destroy the Civil Rights Movement with their advocacy of violence. Rubin and his buddy Hoffman did the same with the Peace Movement aided by various Marxist fronts. Rubin by the way clearly emphasized that the Yippies goals in Chicago were to provoke police violence. I referenced them to show how they were really much more about ego and getting laid, than social justice.

    Now if you really want to get some understanding of what went on back then, it is important to note that there was Government Counter Intelligence tactics also at play. I don’t forgive or forget that, nor do I forget the various fortuitous assassinations of key people on the Left. They played us for fools and we in the Movement played along with them, so convinced were we that our cause would sweep America. It is also no coincidence that the CIA’s Air America began flying in heroin to the US in return for getting the assistance of the “Golden Triangle”. Heroin tore the Black community apart by picking off the young people.

    Now you can think of me and my politics whatever you will, because you were there by proxy of being a child and I was there as a man. A man who has never given up his commitment to social justice and racial equality, but a man whose experience has made him smart enough to understand that just because people espouse the same goals you do, doesn’t mean they’re on your side.

  95. Just to step back a bit from a few of the more speculative ideas discussed in these comments, we’d like to offer two comments of our own.

    First, Carlyle hit on something that seemed to go under the radar: robotic crews. Many arguments against the possibility of alien lifeforms making interstellar journeys disappear if we replace the word “lifeforms” with “intelligences.”

    Using 1970s technology, NASA was able to launch probes that have left the solar system – the Pioneers and Voyagers. The two Voyager probes are still functioning, 34 years later. Even without imagining that future researchers might discover ways to bypass what we consider to be fundamental laws of nature, e.g. the speed of light, we have no trouble thinking that 2070 technology will be able to build interstellar probes that function for centuries. As for the state of propulsion, communication, and artificial intelligence technologies that will exist in 2170 and 2270 (to say nothing of the technologies that no one’s even imagined today), the idea that probes with artificial intelligence (easily surpassing human intelligence) could make interstellar voyages seems inevitable. As for what humans, or human/AI hybrids will be technologically capable of doing a thousand years from now… we have no doubt the world – barring disaster – will be even more astonishing than today’s wildest science fiction.

    Our second comment takes an additional step back from Mike’s association of UFOs with alien visitations. (For the record, we think that association is a reasonable hypothesis, though there’s nowhere near enough evidence to support it – at least in the public sphere.)

    Earlier this year, we read a compelling book by Leslie Kean – UFOs: Generals, Pilots, and Government Officials Go on the Record. Kean examines the U.S. government’s official position that it no longer investigates UFO sightings because UFOs are not a threat to the military, or to civil aviation. Kean then systematically, and convincingly disputes those claims, citing instances when UFOs were associated with Minuteman missile malfunctions and interference with civilian airliners, and provides testimony that the U.S. government does secretly investigate UFO incidents.

    However, in the absence of compelling evidence, Kean draws no conclusion as to the nature of UFOs, which sets the book apart from so many others in the field. She draws the line at stating that UFOs – at least in the documented incidents she describes – are physical objects capable of powered flight that exceed the capabilities of current aviation technology. Since any mention of aliens is sure to create a spirited debate – as in these comments – we think her decision to not take that next step in her book was wise.

    The immediate questions then become simple and direct: What are UFOs (like the ones described in her book), and why does the U.S. government investigate them while claiming it does not?

    Good questions. Fascinating subject.

  96. lotta ^..^,

    The last time I saw Buster they were using him to test the myth that water is as hard as pavement – they had to find alternate means to test (dropping pig carcasses onto pavement and water at terminal velocity) because they maxed out their accelerometer at over 500 Gs. It wasn’t like I was shooting him AT anything… hmm… I wonder what we could shoot Buster at…

    As for the Christmas episode, I haven’t seen it, but it’s part of the show that they must replicate the results of the myth (even if the myth is busted). My favorite Mythbusters Christmas tree decoration was primer cord – after busting the myth that you could explode a tree with liquid nitrogen they needed to make the tree explode somehow…

  97. Slarti,

    100 Geese on a plane you got Gander….Bad gander….and not so good Karma either….

    I was listening to something on NPR Friday about aerodynamics….and a professor was talking about gravity and the space probe…gave an analogy about the Geese…I am sure it was NPR….as I don’t usually listen to anything else….

  98. Slartibartfast,

    In re robotic crews. Think technological synergy. We use telepresence now to control drone half way around the world on a daily basis. With communications based on quantum entanglement (effectively an ansible), it still makes sense to send robotic bodies and control them remotely. You could build smaller ships (no traditional crew and commons areas) with less radiation shielding and carry only mission critical materials instead of all the food and water required for a biological crew. This doesn’t include the benefit of hazard replacements for crew. One of your red shirts buys it on a mission? No big deal as long as you’ve got a replacement body on board for the controller. In fact, other than maintenance and away teams, you wouldn’t really need traditional style bodies for most of the crew. There is also the benefit of non-traditional style bodies specially mission outfitted for hostile environments, research and/or combat. Not being tied directly to meat space at work has some advantages in space travel.

  99. Gene,

    You would certainly want the best computer/robot(/cyborg? ;-)) technology available at the time and I’m a big believer in exploring the solar system (or prospecting a new one) with robots or remote controlled drones (an ansible would come in handy, too – as well as making some sort of interstellar society possible…). I was just pointing out that – radiation issues aside – the life support problem is about the same one as a trip to Mars, i.e. one that we are already pretty close to being able to solve. By the time we’ve gotten the power and propulsion issues worked out, I expect life support to relatively easy to deal with. At the very least you would want to be able to send robot probes before you sent humans on one-way trips if possible (possible in this sense means a strong enough communications laser, I think… unless you can upgrade to an ansible [and if we run into the Kzin you’re going to wish we brought a comm laser instead of an ansible…]). I also think that people build railroads when it’s time to build railroads (subtitle: Why Leo couldn’t fly). When propulsion and communication make contemplating interstellar travel possible, bio-environment engineering will catch up fast if it’s not already there, in my opinion.

  100. Slartibartfast,

    For a three-year trip, robotic crews might not be an absolute necessity, provided the spacecraft is large enough or has the equivalent of a holodeck to keep cabin fever away. Some plans for a human expedition to Mars propose a three-year mission: about six months to get there, two years on Mars, then six months to get back. But for interstellar exploration, even if a spacecraft was able to achieve the, for now, impossible velocity of 10% of the speed of light, it would take almost fifty years to reach the closest star, and centuries to millennia to visit some of the most interesting exoplanets discovered so far.

  101. Mr. Friedrich,

    Concerning your comment to Mr. Spindell “…still didn’t prevent you from voting for a corporate shill warmonger like Obama — even though his being a creature of the banks…”

    I don’t see it like that.

    Obama being elected as President is an honor to the people of the United States and to people of good will everywhere. We were able to transcend our inherit racism and draw closer to the ideal of a humane and noble humankind. That he in and of himself failed so miserably on his end no way diminishes us in ours.

    Mr. Spindell,

    “Too often the ancient texts available to us have been viewed as the writings of primitive minds, steeped in superstition and story telling bearing no relation to history.”

    I nod my head to the greats of time and call them friends, though I know myself not to be their equal. I wish to be with them after my time here is through.

  102. J&G R-S,

    Actually, we have the thrust to do it (velocity in space is all about thrust and duration – a Saturn V rocket, say, delivers a lot of thrust – an interstellar ship doesn’t require as high a thrust to mass ratio), just not the power – that will likely change when we achieve controlled fusion (probably a necessity anyway…). Human exploration beyond the solar system will likely have to wait until we get near the 3-year trip that I suggested (as you said, robots will go first), but if we can just get out into the solar system I think our space travel technology will develop quite rapidly – think about the dividends we could get from Lunar bases, astroid mining, Mars colonies, etc. If we don’t kill ourselves or drown in our own filth I think we’ll get there before too long…

  103. Re: Majestic 12

    “Who in the hell knows”, as as good friend often says…

    In perusing the FBI documents, I found it amusing that “BOGUS” is written across many of the pages. I guess that it’s one way of expressing oneself, but it strikes me as a bit unprofessional.

    In general, teasing out the truth isn’t always an easy endeavor… Knowing that truth, honesty, integrity… are in increasingly short supply in certain governmental quarters, keeping an open mind is perhaps the best approach, as I said earlier in this thread…

  104. From the September, 1947, until December, 1954, my family lived in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin (the closest city to where I now live). I knew Jim and Coral Lorenzen, and happened to talk with Jim a very few hours after the “UFO” incident that led to the Lorenzens founding the Aerial Phenomena Research Organization.

    Jim was a well-trained electronics technician and a Musician’s Union bass-player jazz musician. I have never, to my awareness, seen a “UFO,” and I am quite skeptical about so-called UFOs.

    Nevertheless, whatever happened in Door County in 1952 (the local newspaper, “The Door County Advocate,” reported many, perhaps hundreds of people, including police officers, saw the apparent UFO that dramatically altered the direction of JIm Lorenzen’s life.

    Before ruling out there being something real about UFO observations, it might be helpful to explain, in detail, how existence itself came to exist. Perhaps a testable, in-principle-refutable “Theory of Everything” is needed?

    Consider a typical “drinking glass.” Consider breaking it, perhaps accidentally, by dropping it. Prior to its breaking, it is not made of the pieces into which it breaks because the surface formed in breaking does not exist in the intact glass. Analytical reductionism has its uses, yet when something is taken apart into its constituent components, the relationships of the constituent components into which it is broken are lost in the breaking process, yet those lost relationships were constituent components of the intact glass.

    Consider the intact glass, made of atoms forming molecules forming the glass, and consider that atoms are almost entirely empty space. Is the intact glass therefore made mostly of empty space? Next, consider the glass as made of de Broglie (matter) waves. Is there a non-infinitesimal volume within the substance of the glass in which the de Broglie wave function is identically zero for all time, hence empty space?

    Then there are people who study physics, particularly quantum mechanics, and who observe that existence may be made of probability patterns at any and every possible scale of observation. What are probability patterns and what limits the forms and functions of which probability patterns are capable?

    What is the directly observable nature of the existence of non-existence?

    What is “government”?

  105. Some random thoughts and comments:
    1) A number of teams have been looking for evidence of extra-terrestrial life by listening for radio or optical communications with “artificial” characteristics. So far, nothing has been found. (not like the movie Contact). In my opinion, we are AWASH in alien communications, and either can’t detect it or can’t recognize it for what it is. I make the analogy that ETs are to us as we are to ducks. If a duck wants to know if there is intelligent life nearby, he/she listens for quacking. But ducks will never detect or understand the internet.
    2) People often used to ask the late astronomer Carl Sagan if he believed in ETs visiting earth. His answer was generally along the lines that if there WERE ET’s, they’d want to come to Cornell and talk physics with him. Since that hadn’t occurred, obviously extraterrestrials had not visited earth…. To use the metaphor of item 1), it is hard for us to think that we might be the “ducks.” We seem to expect that ETs would be very nearly like us, and only very little more advanced.
    3) It is not difficult to contemplate a potential link between ETs and religion. Some Biblical events have been interpreted as representing a visitation of the ET sort. (“Ezekial saw the wheel….”) I think that an ET visitor with nothing more than a blimp, a searchlight, a flamethrower, a loudspeaker, a rifle, and maybe some poison gas could pass him/her/it self off as a god or THE God. Some have speculated that Jesus of Nazareth was an ET/human hybrid. (this ties into UFO encounters where the ETs seem to be interested in human biology and reproduction, to the point of abducting women and stealing their eggs) That is, how hard would it be to do the Virgin Birth thing? Need to find an isolated and naive woman, knock her out, remove an egg laparoscopically, do in-vitro fertilization, and then implant laparoscopically. And we are only a couple of thousand years past the life of Jesus and maybe a thousand or two more past Old Testament events. Think how easy these “miracles” would be to a species with hundreds of thousands if not millions of years more experience and development than we have?

  106. A criticism of UFOs and ETs is that they are not testable in the scientific sense, and they do not leave behind concrete evidence of their visitation.

    But if we are being visited by advanced ETs, maybe THEY DON’T WANT to leave any evidence behind. Only when they get careless or have an accident (e.g., Roswell). I use the analogy of humans and ducks. Humans can study ducks indefinitely without the ducks catching on to what is happening. And I suspect that ETs can study us indefinitely with low probability of leaving anything behind or getting caught. Perhaps ETs might have concluded that even when they do show themselves, humans don’t do much about it, so the ETs may eventually let their guard down.

  107. Jay S.

    But if we are being visited by advanced ETs, maybe THEY DON’T WANT to leave any evidence behind.

    If they don’t want to leave any evidence they are pretty incompetent in going about it. Another possibility is that some intelligence is deliberately setting up UFO observation experiences for reasons that could range from playing a joke on the primitives to propagating the idea among humans that they are being visited by extraterrestrial aliens.

    Obviously intelligence is involved in the phenomena, but it is silly to assume that such an intelligence would think the way humans think and any assumptions based on the assumption that it does should be treated as possibilities rather than certainties.

    I was a skeptic about UFOs until I read one of J Allen Hynek’s books. I also believed that most people who wrote books on UFOs were kooks. Since then I have bought many books on the subject and none of the authors turned out to be kooks although most are too ready to jump to the alien spacecraft conclusion. Most of these books cover the same ground, however I would recommend to people knowing nothing of the subject just two authors, J Allen Hynek and Jacques Vallee. Both are skeptics but Vallee’s skepticism has led in an interesting direction, first connecting UFO phenomena with folklore from the past such as the European folklore about fairies and second seeing the phenomena as an intelligence problem (as in military intelligence) not amenable to scientific study beyond very narrow limits since one cannot rule out that observers are seeing only wha some intelligence wants them to see and no more.

    Use a Google search limited to amazon for books by these authors. I have not included links because of the one link limit on this blog.

    I would recommend Hynek’s “The UFO Experience a Scientific Enquiry” and Jacques Vallee’s “Messengers of Deception” to start with but all books by these authors are worthwhile.

  108. The reason people feel / think / believe /there being
    aliens The reality /humans are aliens to themselves.

    I hope that clears your reasoning / of belief in aliens.

    THE CURE one must GO beyond belief /unto that of
    knowing truth // not beliefs /not ideas / knowing truth.

    Now your question / HOW CAN SUCH BE DONE ???.

    Its realy very simple. The means not being a alien to
    yourself / is knowing yourself. Not as you’ve become
    within the world / but experience the essence of your
    own being // in one’s knowing / in one understanding
    the power that sustains all life / the power of creation.

    On PC seach put (words of peace) on site be a large
    selection of videos / which Prem Rawat talks explains
    of meditation / where one focuses the senses inward
    bringing / depths of understanding as experience / in
    a unfolding of the spiritual self /via / practical spiritual
    experience // which answers all question // giving one
    a clarity of clearly understanding /life its ultimate goal
    that one becomes enlightened through their practical
    experience in knowing /understand power of creation.

    Thus in truth untill one pull back the curtain of illusion
    then one be the alien unto themselves /thus believing
    in aliens. When alien to self / then it be aliens existing.

  109. You should never feel embrassed by. There are plenty of people who would agree with you. The probability that there is intelligence out there is highly probable.
    Sure it is wishful thinking for many. But there are many clues that point to aliens being directly involved with humans throughout history. Today, UFOs and aliens are becoming more openly talked about because we are advancing in technology and communication.
    The whole world will never truly believe in them until they are disclosed to us “officially” (if they are). They are a great subject to talk about.

  110. squelsch,

    What do you see as clues that aliens have been directly involved (by which I assume you mean more than UFO sightings) with humans throughout history? Personally, I think that the world will truly believe in aliens when (and if – I don’t believe that aliens have visited the Earth as I’ve said above) the scientific evidence supports that conclusion – which I don’t believe it currently does.

  111. Much of the alien abduction fantasies arose via govt propaganda.

    The cold war with Russia had to come to a end / western nations
    in great need of Russia’s vast natural resources ……oil / gas / etc
    however the problem RUSSIA for decades was used as an means
    in the USA ever increasing its military forces / its nuclear stockpile
    RUSSIA it claimed wished to DESTROY DEMOCRACY / TO TAKE

    Thus the USA had to replace RUSSIA as the enemy /thus continue
    its growing military force / its growing stockpile of nuclear capability.

    Alas poor muslims were the chosen victim // as media propaganda
    put RUSSIA as being a friend of western nations the same western
    proaganda machine made muslims islam enemy of western nations
    much aided by the movie industry /whom in producing a production
    line // a deluge of movies where muslim terrorists were / attempting
    to blow up bridges / trains / planes / hot air ballons / etc etc movies
    having no real plot but that of constnt violence // putting muslims as
    the lowest of the low / whom intending bring /destruction of the USA.

    Though taking time it worked // RUSSIA becoming the friend / while
    muslims put as public enemy NUMBER 1 whom needed destroyed
    thus allowing the USA to continue its military build up / unto its cost
    so astronomical // rather aid a USA /it brought the nations collapse
    the military cost in its upkeep / the cost of wars crippling the nation.

    Back to the aliens // while the backroom boys were dreaming up the
    most effective propaganda scams // as in justifying a USA’s growing
    military might // they came up with a novel idea that the nation must
    be prepared to defend itself from a alien attack // it then suggested
    people the victims of alien kidnappings // where they being taken to
    alien ships where experimented upon /alien devices planted in their
    brains // thus they were being tracked / put fully under alien control.

    Many americans / victims of the 24 / 7 brainwashing media agenda
    believing the brainwashing & started reporting of their kidnappings
    claiming took to enemy alien spaceships where experimented upon.

    Thus the alien fiasco had its roots in the ending of the cold war with

  112. RE: Slartibartfast,

    Extra-terrestrial phenomena isn’t something new to this planet. References to space ships, saucers, fire in the sky, gods, angels, have all been recorded since ancient times. (I highly recommend watching the History Channels Ancient Aliens.) Maybe the ancient sightings are being lost in translation with our modern thinking, but maybe there actually is intelligent life beyond our planet that is interested in our species (and cows – look at some of the strange cow mutilations on Google images. Dead cows in trees, all with the exact same surgery performed on them).

    A personal belief of mine is that extra terrestrials manipulated our race to create what we have today. It’s strange to think that humans went from being animalistic hunter/gatherers, to Pharaos so quickly. I don’t think we decided that for ourselves. And there may be “evidence” of this in some Egyptian heiroglyphs. The stories of aliens abducting humans for genetic engineering corelate to our speedy advances in technology.

    Of course, the question that sparks these whacky theories of mine is always “if.” Why not “if”? There may not be a lot of evidence to support the fact that extra terrestrials exist, but “if” they did and they WERE ancient Gods, then we could really start to explain some of the nonesense preached in ancient AND current religions.

    The idea of “aliens” conjurs up little green men in silver space suits with laser guns. The truth is probably far from that. The government hasn’t disclosed aliens to us, and they probably never will. But there are many governments on Earth that are guilty of lying to their people, repeatedly too. You can’t base your opinions on what other people tell you. Period. You have to make your own decisions. Mine might seem crazy to you, but the best thing about them is that they are mine.

  113. Basicly as humans got more established / abled to
    catch the odd sabre toothed tiger and or dinosaur.

    They began to have periods of relaxation / where
    they would sit around the campfire’s telling stories
    telling jokes // they then started to ask themselves
    the question WHOM AM I // WHAT I MY DOING ON

    At such a time there being no computers thus they
    could not just look to the internet.So they looked to
    the heavens /and considered the shooting stars as
    a sign of other life out in space. Thus this the very
    earliest of alien beliefs of UFO’s ////other life forms.

    Later development / humans did not wish sharing
    same cave. Some sought their own cave dwelling
    much as todays housing with the first time buyers.

    Shooting stars / the first alien distraction / nought
    but shooting stars & much imagination as is today.

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