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UFO hearing: is there evidence that aliens have visited the Earth?

May 20, 2022 · Comment icon 77 comments

Has the US government been in contact with ET ? Image Credit: CC BY-SA 2.0 Jim Trottier
The groundbreaking congressional hearing offered some interesting revelations - but was alien contact one of them?
Radio astronomer Steven Tingay of Curtin University takes a look at what went down at the hearing.

The United States Congress recently held a hearing into US government information pertaining to "unidentified aerial phenomena" (UAPs).

The last investigation of this kind happened more than 50 years ago, as part of a US Air Force investigation called Project Blue Book, which examined reported sightings of unidentified flying objects (note the change in name).

The current hearings are the result of a stipulation attached to a 2020 COVID-19 relief bill, which required US Intelligence agencies to produce a report on UAPs within 180 days. That report appeared in June last year.

But why would governments be interested in UAPs? One exciting line of thought is UAPs are alien spacecraft visiting Earth. It's a concept that gets a lot of attention, by playing on decades of sci-fi movies, views about what goes on in Area 51, and purported sightings by the public.

A much more prosaic line of thought is governments are interested in unexplained aerial phenomena - especially those within their own sovereign airspace - because they may represent technologies developed by an adversary.

Indeed, most discussion at the recent hearing revolved around potential threats from UAPs, on the basis they were such human-made technologies.

None of the public testimony went any way towards supporting a conclusion that alien spacecraft have crashed on, or visited, Earth. The hearings did include closed classified sessions that presumably dealt with more sensitive security information.

There is no doubt unexplained phenomena have been observed, such as in footage obtained by navy pilots (above) showing fast moving airborne objects. But the leap to aliens requires far more substantial and direct evidence - incredible evidence - that can be widely scrutinised using the tools of science.

After all, the existence of life elsewhere in the universe is a fascinating question of science and society. So the search for extra-terrestrial life is a legitimate pursuit, subject to the same burden of evidence that applies to all science.

A drop in an ocean

On and off over the past decade, I've used radio telescopes to perform wide ranging experiments to search for technosignatures - signs of technological civilisations on planets elsewhere in our galaxy (the Milky Way). But after decades of many teams of experts using powerful telescopes, we still haven't covered much territory.

If the Milky Way is considered equivalent to the Earth's oceans, the sum total of our decades of searching is like taking a random swimming pool worth of water out of the ocean to search for a shark.

On top of that, we're not even sure sharks exist and, if they do, what they would look like or how they would behave. While I believe life will almost certainly exist among the trillions of planets in the universe - the sheer scale of the universe is a problem.

What would it take to make contact?

The vast volume of the universe makes it very difficult to achieve interstellar travel, receive signals, or communicate with any potential far-off lifeforms (at least according to the laws of physics as we know them).
Speeds are limited to the speed of light, which is around 300,000 km per second. It's pretty fast. But even at that speed it would take a signal roughly four years to travel between Earth and the nearest star in our galaxy, which is four light years away.

But Einstein's theory of special relativity tells us that, in practice, the speed of a physical object such as a spacecraft will be slower than the speed of light.

Also, thanks to the inverse square law of radiation, signals get weaker in proportion to the square of the distance they have travelled. Over interstellar distances, that's a killer.

So for planets hundreds or thousands of light years away, travel times are likely in the many thousands of years. And any signals originating from civilisations on those planets are incredibly weak and difficult to detect.

Cover ups?

Could it be aliens have crashed on Earth and the US government is just covering it up, as Republican Congressman Tim Burchett claimed in his reaction to the hearing?

For airlines belonging to the International Air Transport Association, the chance of plane crash is about one in a million. That begs the question: do we think an alien spacecraft that can travel for thousands of years, across interstellar distances, is more robust and better designed than our planes?

Let's say it's a hundred times better. Which means the chance of a crash is one in a hundred million. So to end up with alien wreckage stashed away at Area 51, we would need one hundred million visits from alien spacecraft. That would be 2,739 visits from aliens per day, every day, for the past 100 years!

So, where are they? The near-Earth environment should be constantly buzzing with aliens.

With radars constantly scanning space, billions of mobile phone cameras, and hundreds of thousands of amateur astronomers photographing the sky (as well as professional astronomers with powerful telescopes), there should be a lot of really good evidence in the hands of the general public and scientists - not just governments.

It's much more likely the UAPs presented in evidence are home-grown, or due to natural phenomena we don't yet understand.

In science, Occam's Razor is still a great starting point; the best explanation is the simplest explanation consistent with the known facts. Until there is much more - and much, much better evidence - let's conclude aliens haven't visited yet.

I can't lie though, I'm hoping I'll see a time when that evidence exists. Until then, I'll keep searching the skies to do my bit.

Steven Tingay, John Curtin Distinguished Professor (Radio Astronomy), Curtin University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license.

Read the original article. The Conversation

Source: The Conversation | Comments (77)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #68 Posted by Golden Duck 2 years ago
What about when USAF fighter pilots loot at the same footage and say "meh" Do you prefer to listen to true believers that know stuff so secret it's on the internet?
Comment icon #69 Posted by godnodog 2 years ago
We all remember the day we sent our human represent team to that ant colony in the white house garden, it didn't go well, we never heard back from them.
Comment icon #70 Posted by Hyperionxvii 2 years ago
Send them all home without pay and force them to read a science book, no, a real science book, not Chariots of the Gods...
Comment icon #71 Posted by Hyperionxvii 2 years ago
"show signs of intelligent control behind them" So, we've 100% concluded they were not being flown by any Congress Critters. 
Comment icon #72 Posted by Tatetopa 2 years ago
Pure escapism.  These folks can't solve any of the real problems they were elected to deal with.  Climate change is way too woo woo for them, but UFO's need immediate attention?
Comment icon #73 Posted by Nobu 2 years ago
At my chess club and sometimes at various veteran things. Why should that matter to you?   I actually would encourage you to find some things offline in life that you could involve yourself in. It would help you.
Comment icon #74 Posted by Timothy 2 years ago
I was just wondering if you prefer to ‘debate’ in settings where there is not much debate at all. Eg. Conducive to similar thoughts or opinions. Which could very well be the case in a ‘veteran  things’ setting. (Don’t know what your chess buddies are like though…) Ouch! Getting personal now. I actually would encourage you to debate here with people who don’t agree with you. It would help you. 
Comment icon #75 Posted by Portre 2 years ago
That is just what they want you to believe
Comment icon #76 Posted by Hyperionxvii 2 years ago
Exactly, problems are hard and take hard work, so just say 'look, it's not our fault! We tried, but ... climate change! Putin! Aliens!  Truly pathetic. 
Comment icon #77 Posted by Trelane 2 years ago
I would like to hear a detailed retort from @Portre

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