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UFO, Area 51, etc. ASTR 1420 Lecture 24 Section 12.4. More than a half of Americans believe UFO. 2012 Nat. Geo poll (fun-oriented poll) 36% believe UFOs exist (17% no) 55% believe MIB-like agents exist 77% believe signs of alien visitations 2002 October poll

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Ufo area 51 etc

UFO, Area 51, etc.

ASTR 1420

Lecture 24

Section 12.4

More than a half of americans believe ufo

More than a half of Americans believe UFO

  • 2012 Nat. Geo poll (fun-oriented poll)

    • 36% believe UFOs exist (17% no)

    • 55% believe MIB-like agents exist

    • 77% believe signs of alien visitations

  • 2002 October poll

    • 72 percent of Americans believe the government is holding the truth on UFO

    • men more than women think such information should be shared with the public

    • The younger you are, the stronger your belief that the government is withholding information

54% believe intelligent life exists beyond earth 
64% believe aliens have contacted humans 
50% believe that aliens have abducted humans 
37% believe that aliens have contacted the US government 
75% believe that a UFO crashed near Roswell 
26% believe that they would be expected to be treated as an enemy 
39% believe that aliens would appear very humanoid 

  • In a 1947 US Gallup Poll 90% of the population who heard of flying saucers believed they were not real.

1 st modern report

1st modern report

  • June 24, 1947 by a businessman Kenneth Arnold

  • 9 shiny winged objects streaking the sky at 2,000 km/h

  • A reporter mistakenly described the objects as “flying saucers”

    from his statement “… they flew erratic like a saucer if you skip it across the water.”

Ufo sightings

UFO sightings

  • about 10,000 sightings are reported a year

  • It is true that there are unidentified objects being seen in the sky

  • Some claims are from seasoned pilots or astronauts whose credibility is not in question.

  • Even many astronomers have seen unidentifiable objects in the sky.

  • However, something unidentifiable ≠ UFOs

  • US Air Force started investigation on the UFO phenomenon (largely by Cold War concerns).

Betty and barney hill

Betty and Barney Hill

  • Best well known alien abduction

  • Barney (USPS) and Betty (social worker)

  • 1961, Sep 19, Portsmouth, New Hampshire

    • traveling home from Montreal on one night

    • saw a bright light  oval shape

    • followed their car

    • car engine stalled, spaceship landed

    • abducted and examined.

    • Betty conversed with an alien

    • alien showed a starmap

    • returned home with no memory

    • nightmares for years

    • story revealed under hypnosis

  • Examined by US Air Force

  • later under hypnosis by Dr. Simon

Ufo area 51 etc

In 50s and 60s, experts could identify UFOs into bright stars and planets, aircraft and gliders, rocket launches, balloons, birds, ball lightning, meteors, atmospheric phenomena, and hoax.

Ball lightning

Ball lightning

  • atmospheric electric phenomenon via unknown mechanism.

  • unlike regular flash lightnings, these ball lightning can last several seconds with a size in the range of a fist to several meters across.

The physicists produce luminous plasma balls above a water surface which have lifetimes of almost half a second and diameters of 10 to 20 centimetres.

Ufo area 51 etc

Flying Saucer over Damascus, Syria?

Ufo over moscow october 2009

UFO over Moscow (October 2009)

Lenticular cloud formation

Lenticular cloud formation

Lenticular cloud

Lenticular Cloud

Chinese lanterns in the sky

Chinese Lanterns in the Sky

Chinese sky lanterns as ufos

Chinese Sky Lanterns as UFOs


Lubbock lights

Lubbock Lights

  • Aug 1951, three Texas Tech faculty members

  • 15-20 faint white lights in a formation passing the sky. They estimated the altitude being ~50,000 feet  5 miles per second!

  • An hour later they saw one more group.

  • 2 hours later saw a 3rd group.

It is impossible to determine the distance, altitude, or the speed of an object in the sky

Venus in georgia

Venus in Georgia

  • Fall 1967, police officers at 10+ places reported sighting of UFOs.

  • Two officers “chased” the “bright-red football shaped light” for 8 miles and could not chase it.  when they returned to their station, it caught up with them!

  • They watched it for about 30min seeing that the UFO changed in color from red orangewhite, climbing in the sky until it resembled “a star”.

  • The police report sparked a local interest in UFOs. Hundreds of UFO sightings in following weeks.

     The tendency (ability) of one report to trigger many others!

Venus and jupiter in caspian sea

Venus and Jupiter in Caspian Sea

Ufo area 51 etc


  • about 90% of the well-documented UFO cases were explainable as earthly phenomena.

  • This does not mean that the remaining 10% unexplainable cases are alien spaceships!

Government conspiracy

Government Conspiracy

  • Alien Spaceship crashed in Roswell, TX

     corpse of alien and spacecraft were transported to Area 51

  • Why should alien astronauts travel all the way to Earth to visit only United States?

    while UFO sightings from all over the world.

  • Does this mean that USA, India, Italy, Israel, Croatia, China, Congo, etc. are all involved in the world-wide cover up?

Roswell alien crash site

Roswell, Alien Crash site.

Fallen military spy balloons to check Soviet’s nuclear explosion tests during Cold War

Crop circles

Crop circles

  • Over several decades, simple patterns have appeared each summer in southern England.

  • Due to the size and the speed of them showing up overnight, they were perceived as alien activity.

  • Over time, the pattern got complicated.

  • Later, it is publicly demonstrated that such a marking can be easily created overnight with a couple of pranksters.



  • Wild animal mutilation by aliens


  • Alien abduction

    • sleep paralysis?

      occur during REM sleep, for a few minutes

      after the brain wakes up, our body can be still

      in sleep paralysis with active vision and feeling.

      survey says that ~50% of people experience

      sleep paralysis at some points in their lives.

Ancient visitation

Ancient Visitation

Ancient alien astronauts visited the Earth leaving behind many relics of their interactions with human beings.

  • von Daniken (Charlatan at best)

    • Ancient Egyptian did not have pre-historical record of technology/skill to build such large pyramids.

    • Sphinx is the image of extraterrestrial visitors.

    • The height of Khufu pyramid (146.7 meters high)  multiply by 1 billion times  146.7 million km (nearly identical to the distance b/w Sun and Earth)!  Can’t be a coincidence. Aliens must have told Egyptians!

    • typical ball pens (14.9 cm)  trillion times  exactly match the distance!

Ufo area 51 etc

Extraordinary claims require

extraordinary evidence!

Carl Sagan

In summary

In summary…

Important Concepts

Important Terms

Unidentified Flying Objects (UFO)

Ball lightning, lenticular cloud, sleep paralysis

  • Not all UFO sightings can be explainable.

     But it does not mean that unexplained sightings are real!

  • Chapter/sections covered in this lecture : 9.1

Wow signal

Wow signal

  • 1977 Aug 15 by Jerry Ehman

    using the “Big Ear” radio telescope at Ohio State Univ.

  • a strong narrowband radio signal lasted for 72 seconds!

Wow signal1

Wow signal

  • Exactly what we

    expected for a signal from ETI!

  • never repeated…

  • RA=19:22:22

  • DE=-27:03:00

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