The venerable television program 60 Minutes aired a segment recently focused on a topic that has been examined before, but not with the same widespread receptivity and credibility. It had to do with UAPs.
And the Pentagon, directed by the United States Congress, recently released its file on UAPs, or unidentified aerial phenomena.
These sightings of what used to be called UFOs were narrowed down to those made by military pilots and other service members, with corroborating precision instrument readings.
The sightings indicate that there are some objects that have unusual properties. These properties include the ability to move very fast, accelerate much more quickly than would appear likely by normal physics, showing no visible means of propulsion, or even wings, tails or fins.
Some of them seem to be able to move through water as easily as air and, presumably, through the vacuum of space.
The observers of these phenomena are sober professionals, as are the analysts who seek to understand what it is that has been detected and recorded.
The three likeliest theories are that these:
- are highly advanced projects of the U.S. military;
- are developed by a militarily advanced and potentially hostile adversary, such as Russia or China;
- could – must? – be extraterrestrial in origin.
One former high-ranking U.S. military official investigated the first theory and is nearly 100 per cent certain that these aren’t American products. Other sources haven’t detected any sign that foreign nations have the ability to produce such advanced devices.
That leaves the final and most controversial possibility: that these objects originate with one or more species that aren’t of this planet, perhaps not based in this solar system.
It has been an effective policy of the military and political establishments to dismiss any such theory, occasionally to ridicule anyone who offers it. That sort of strategy may now be untenable.
Advances in astronomy have led to the discoveries of thousands of exoplanets – orbiting stars other than our sun. Most have turned out to be either too far from or too close to their star. Or they’re too small, or too obviously enormous gas giants like Jupiter or Saturn to have any chance of generating life as we know it – using liquid water and oxygen in the atmosphere.
Instrumentation still isn’t precise enough to be sure but there seem to be several dozen, if not hundreds, of potential Earth-like planets. But they’re not within a dozen light years of our solar system.
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The limiting factor in interstellar space travel is the speed of light. Even if a spacecraft could approach that speed, it would still take years to reach another solar system that might support intelligent life. It’s true that time dilation would make the perceived and experienced elapsed time aboard such a craft far shorter as it approaches lightspeed. But the energy required to do so, and then to de-accelerate as it nears its destination, makes it enormously challenging to accomplish such a feat, at least for us terrestrial beings with known technology.
However, the craft observed by the U.S. military used far more advanced propulsion and manoeuvering techniques, which seemed to defy our understanding of normal physics, even extrapolating from what scientists and engineers conjecture.
An internet search yields many discussions of how a ‘warp field’ can be created around a spacecraft to enable it to travel at close to the speed of light, with no adverse consequences to passengers.
However, most of these theories rely on harnessing ‘dark energy’ and other unproven phenomena, or enormous energy. Yet, at least one peer-reviewed paper says currently-known physics allows for achieving lightspeed, albeit with many technical challenges.
Physics is constantly evolving. Just this year, two phenomena were discovered that either violated or revised the standard model used to describe and unite the forces of electromagnetism, the weak and strong nuclear forces – but not yet, tellingly, gravity. The mass-conferring Higgs boson was confirmed 40 years after first postulated.
Any civilization capable of practical interstellar flight will have discovered the aspects of physics that it can harness and manipulate, and thus display the unnerving speed and acceleration the UAPs show.
They would also, undoubtedly, have weaponry that are also way beyond our capability, so hostile engagement with them is likely inadvisable.
Exoplanets exist. Some of them appear to be capable of supporting life. UAPs exist, have astonishing capabilities and don’t use technology that Earth’s scientists and engineers have yet developed.
We can’t continue to laugh off these things.
Ian Madsen is a senior policy analyst with the Frontier Centre for Public Policy.
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