Sunday, January 29, 2017

CIA Declassify UFO Documents: The Truckloads Of Information Will Now Help Alien Hunters

What a way to begin the year for unidentified flying object (UFO) enthusiasts. Finally, they have truckloads of declassified Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) documents with which to face the naysayers. Along with scientists of the Seti (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) Institute, flying saucer lovers believe we aren’t alone in the universe. The crucial difference between the two groups is that the latter believe that aliens have been visiting us regularly — some actually having ‘met’ the visitors — while the scientists don’t accept the UFO argument even with barrels of salt. Often, the ‘scientific’ ET-trackers have been accused by UFOlogists that their Seti research is keeping the truth away in databanks. The Project Blue Book of the CIA, which monitored alien activity and recorded all ‘encounters’, was a closely guarded secret which aroused much suspicion. Despite many announcements by the US government debunking UFO conspiracy theories, the CIA was not let off the hook by conspiracy theorists. The recently declassified documents may ‘prove’ the flying saucer clubs right. There are indeed several ‘incidents’ that the CIA could not ‘explain’. One such report documents a UFO spotted by two police officers patrolling the Lithuanian border on June 26, 1996. “Vehicleloads of soldiers from the ARAS rapid reaction force, sniffer dogs and police reinforcements immediately arrived on the scene of the emergency,” read an ITAR-TASS report that’s part of the declassified material. It’s interesting to note that the two policemen were interviewed by the Lithuanian authorities which later deemed that both men were mentally stable and suffered no hallucinations during the encounter. This would be enough to add fuel to the dying embers of UFOlogy. After its heydays in the 1960s-80s, the UFO is once again flying. But without clinching evidence that is verifiable by independent scientific inquiry, it is impossible to say that Earth has been a playground for alien visitors.
Grainy images, a burnt blade of grass, or statements from psychologically stable Lithuanian policemen are not enough to prove these visits. But the documents that recorded them are enough to spread the UFO lore. UFO or not, one cannot wish away the question: Are we alone in this universe?’ In 2015, the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) estimated there were 1billion possible ‘Earths’ in the Milky Way alone. While the data may appear to be too optimistic, there is still a sizeable population of exoplanets — planets that orbit a star outside the solar system — that may be habitable within the realm of scientific possibility. Whether these other worlds had been sending spaceships to inspect Earthlings is still speculation. These speculations marketed as ‘science’, as in the case of Swiss writer Erich von Daniken in his Chariots of the Gods and other ‘aliens seeded Earth’ books, make fun reading but do no good to Seti research. The people at the Seti institute have been painstakingly searching various parts of the sky to catch a glimpse of intelligent life forms. They have come across strange signals in the past and their science has not been able to decode the messages as yet. But has not spured them on to tell the world that ‘ET wanted to contact us’. In 2007, Duncan Lorimer at West Virginia University was rummaging through historical records from the Parkes radio telescope in Australia, when he and his colleagues stumbled across an unusual signal. It was a burst of radio energy that no one had ever seen before. Lorimer published this discovery and that raised a lot of questions including, “Are we looking at a real set of data?” The reaction of the astronomy community was one of astonishment. But soon it was pointed out that a microwave oven in the kitchen below the control room of Parkes was responsible for the ‘strange signals’. But doubts lingered. When other, similar bursts were later found by the Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico, everyone realised that these quick radio blasts — christened ‘fast radio bursts’ or FRBs — are for real. What is causing FRBs? The question has to be answered and here are some candidates: It could be a black hole gorging up matter. It could be tell-tale signs of a neutron star. They could be screeches transmitted by intelligent beings. But then, why are the broadcasts so brief ? There are 18 known FRBs and investigating these would be better for ‘alien hunters’ than peering over inconclusive CIA declassified documents. And if you are on the side of physicist Stephen Hawking, you would stay clear of an alien. The result of such a contact, according to Hawking, would be catastrophic for humanity — as it has for so many human cultures after having encountered a technologically superior alien civilisation.