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Are They Out There?

From: UFO UpDates - Toronto <ufoupdates.nul>
Date: Sat, 08 Dec 2007 00:28:39 -0500
Archived: Sat, 08 Dec 2007 00:28:39 -0500
Subject: Are They Out There?

Source: Parade Magazine - New York, NY, USA


December 9, 2007

Are They Out There?
By David H. Levy

It may have been the most unusual question to come up at a
Presidential debate. When moderator Tim Russert asked Democratic
candidate Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich if he'd ever seen a UFO, the
Ohio Congressman didn't hesitate. "I did," he replied. While
this led to much amusement in the media, it also prompts a more
serious look at the phenomenon of Unidentified Flying Objects.

Humans have long asked: Are we alone? Has our planet ever been
visited by others? Among those committed to the search for
evidence of life beyond Earth are the scientists at the SETI
(Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute. Thanks to
a huge donation from Paul Allen, the co-founder of Microsoft,
SETI=97in partnership with the University of California at
Berkeley=97is building a network of radio telescopes near Hat
Creek in Northern California. Known as the Allen Telescope
Array, its purpose is to pick up signals from space.

Currently, there are 42 telescopes in place. In 2010, when the
Allen array is completed, 350 telescopes will scan the stars as
far as 1000 light-years away. (They will not be looking for
visiting craft, just radio signals.) These individual telescopes
will be searching different regions of the sky, but they can be
combined into one giant telescope if needed to confirm someone's
call from the darkness of space.

Sightings of UFOs have occurred since biblical times.
Renaissance artwork includes visions of strange flying objects
in the sky. Many modern-day sightings are on record, and some
remain mysteries to this day.

Some sightings are not easily dismissed. Years ago, the late
Clyde Tombaugh, the man who discovered Pluto, observed green
fireballs in the sky. Unlike the ordinary greenish fireballs
that occasionally brighten the night, these appeared as a group
and seemed to speed up during their flight through the sky.

But the more he thought about it, the more skeptical Tombaugh
became about his sighting. "Even if they were visiting from a
planet circling the nearest star, Alpha Centauri," he once told
me, "an almost infinite amount of fuel, as we understand it,
would be required to accelerate them from their home to ours.
There must be another explanation."

Jack "Triple" Nickel, a retired Air Force fighter pilot, also is
a respected astronomer. Early in his career, in the fall of
1973, as he flew at night between clouds over Oklahoma and
Texas, a bright light suddenly appeared in front of him. "It was
either close by and dim or far away and bright," he recalls. "It
lasted about 20 minutes before vanishing." Nickel can't rule out
the possibility that the light was the bright star Sirius
shining through a break in the clouds, but the sighting was
never explained.

Still, most of the strange sights in the night sky are easy to
explain=97 whether it's Venus, the northern lights or even an
artificial satellite passing for a UFO. For example, pilot Tom
Wideman was flying over California late one night in 1986 when
he witnessed "a blazing fireball that crossed our path from
right to left, trailing flaming debris before it went out of
sight." The next day, Wideman learned that a Russian rocket
booster had burned up on re-entry over the Mojave Desert. "It
had crossed 20 miles in front of our flight path, close enough
to be spectacular." Many scientists, myself included, believe we
are probably not alone in our galaxy but that most likely no one
has visited us yet. Even if a UFO landed in my backyard, I'd
want to have a look inside and meet the occupants before I'd be

Recently, just before dawn, 11 faint lights appeared in my
telescope's field of view. They climbed the sky, slowed,
stopped, then started back toward the horizon. I thought about
it for a while. Then it hit me: About 300 miles from my Arizona
home is White Sands Missile Range, a facility that frequently
launches rockets. I must have witnessed a missile launch.

If you hear a UFO story, be skeptical. Ask questions. If someone
describes an object that hovers in the sky, motionless, then
tears off at twice the speed of sound, ask how it could suddenly
move that fast, breaking Newton's law of motion. It has to
accelerate to that speed, and the faster it speeds up, the more
force is needed. In the meantime, keep watching. Seeing unusual
things is just one reason to look up at the night sky, eagerly
and passionately, and wonder.

Listen to 'Strange Days... Indeed' - The PodCast



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