Have you ever witnessed something that you are reluctant to share with other people? Does your reluctance stem from the fact that they may think you’re a bit crazy? Well, you are not alone.
(To regular readers of my blog I apologise for the lack of activity in the recent weeks but I’ve been concerned with other personal things and, frankly, during the hot weather couldn’t be bothered to sit in front of the computer screen.)
Anyway, back to reluctant sharing. No doubt you would agree that aircraft pilots, policemen or women and magistrates are all upstanding members of the community and are likely to be believed when they say they have seen certain things. Well, you would think so wouldn’t you? However, there is one subject which if any of these people mention it, they are almost certainly immediately ignored or considered to be not quite the ticket. Yes, you’re ahead of me and have already guessed that I’m talking about unidentified flying objects. When it comes to these things, it would seem that perfectly sane people have been subject to a delusion or momentary madness.
I was recently watching a broadcast by a pilot who had flown President Obama in Air Force One. He had broken ranks with other pilots and people in the industry by speaking about something he had seen and which he can only conclude was a UFO. Apparently, such sightings are very common but there is an unwritten law amongst pilots both in the military and commercial airlines that they do not talk about it. When asked why he thought this was, he replied that it was simply they did not want to have their careers affected by people thinking they were crazy or not of sound judgement. You can understand their concern. I have seen many interviews with people who claim to have seen alien craft, or even aliens, and each time it’s been hard for me to take their report seriously. Yet these are people who are generally well respected in the community and have never been prone to exaggerated stories before. Even Paul Hellyer, the former Canadian Minister of Defence, has recently spoken of his experience and belief in UFOs and how many accounts are true but inexplicable and kept secret.
However, I was particularly impressed with the account by this pilot who had flown President Obama as he seemed a very levelheaded and articulate person. His description was accurate and reasoned and explained why the object was nothing that can be seen normally in our atmosphere. The sighting was also witnessed by his co-pilot and when they had reported the matter to the authorities, they had been advised to say nothing further. Why was this? If these accounts of sightings of UFOs are correct, why does the relevant government (and this happens in many countries) lean on the people concerned to keep quiet? Do they envisage public panic if the revelations are made known and proved?
Well, here’s a confession. I actually saw a UFO some years ago. I’m not saying it was an alien craft but simply that it was an object that defied description and was categorised by the lightning speed it travelled from being stationary at one side of the horizon to the other. Nothing known to man can do that. The person I was with witnessed the same thing. When I spoke to someone else about it their first response was “F off”.to which I jokingly replied, “No, UFO!”
Now, as an amateur astronomer I am puzzled by the fact that very few astronomers seem to see UFOs. Also, the so-called footage of these objects is never very clear or definitive. This leads most people to think that the films are hoaxes and it is quite understandable that we would think this. Nevertheless, the earnestness and honesty of most of the people claiming to see alien craft is not doubted. The result is that we are left with a conundrum which is a bit like having religious faith. Nobody can prove it but similarly no one can disprove it.
The aspect which is quite common to most of these UFO sightings is the fact that the object travels at great speed across the sky, often moving through an arc of 45° or so in a second. By all our known physics, this is not possible, yet people swear it happens. This is probably why such objects are believed to be alien craft. However, this gives rise to another problem. Our science at the moment tells us that the nearest galaxy, Andromeda, is 2.5 million light-years away. You would have to travel at the speed of light (186,000 miles per second) for over 2.5 million years to reach the nearest one. The distances to our nearest stars, and therefore any habitable planet, are so vast that even travelling at the speed of light a human could not survive. How then could an alien life form arrive here? We could talk of Black Holes and Wormholes in Space and how using them by some form of centrifugal or other force could propel us into other galaxies but all that is very much in the realm of science fiction and certainly not within the scope of theoretical or practical astrophysics with our current knowledge.
So, how can we reconcile all the stories of UFOs seen by sane and intelligent people with the science that we have? I think the answer lies in the fact that so much of our universe is unseen. We know there is Dark Energy and Dark Matter even though it cannot be seen. We know something of the effect these forces can have on the universe around us. What we can’t measure is how big the universe is or what we can’t see. It is literally immeasurable or, in Hawaiian, Laniakea, which means “immeasurable heaven”.
There may well be some form of space portal which enables something to vault across the galaxy in a fraction of a second and someday we may find that. However, in the meantime, I am very much drawn to the suggestion of multiverses; the theory that there are other dimensions or universes running parallel with ours which we cannot see. There is already some evidence to show this from the examination of Dark Energy and Dark Matter and if we ever prove this theory, it will go a long way to explaining two of the questions which concern us most. Namely, what are UFOs and where is Heaven?
As Shakespeare’s Hamlet said, “There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy”.