The following article, written by radio astronomer Steven Tingay, shows the typical position of the mainstream scientific community regarding the possibility that aliens have already visited our planet.
Science is still not convinced that they have been here.
By Steven Tingay, Professor (Radio Astronomy), Curtin University
The United States Congress recently held a hearing on the US government’s information regarding “unidentified aerial phenomena” (known as UFOs).
The last such investigation took place more than 50 years ago, as part of a US Air Force investigation called Project Blue Book, which examined reports of sightings of unidentified flying objects.
But why would governments be interested in UFOs? An exciting line of thought is that UFOs are alien craft visiting Earth. It’s a concept that draws a lot of attention, playing back decades of sci-fi movies, visions of what happens at Area 51, and alleged public sightings.
A much more prosaic line of thinking is that governments are interested in UFOs, especially those within their own sovereign airspace, because they may represent technologies developed by an adversary.
In fact, most of the discussion at the recent hearing revolved around potential threats from UFOs, based on man-made technologies.
None of the public testimony was in any way to support the conclusion that an alien spacecraft crashed or visited Earth. The hearings included closed confidential sessions that presumably dealt with more sensitive security information.
There is no doubt that unexplained phenomena have been observed, such as in images taken by navy pilots showing fast-moving airborne objects. But the jump to aliens requires much more substantial and direct evidence, incredible evidence, which can be analyzed extensively using the tools of science.
After all, the existence of life elsewhere in the universe is a fascinating question for science and society. Therefore, the search for extraterrestrial life is a legitimate search, subject to the same burden of evidence that applies to all science.
A drop in an ocean
For the past decade, I have used radio telescopes to conduct extensive experiments to search for technological signatures, signs of technological civilizations on planets in other parts of our galaxy (the Milky Way). But after decades of many teams of experts using powerful telescopes, we still haven’t covered much ground.
If the Milky Way is considered equivalent to Earth’s oceans, the sum total of our decades of searching is like randomly pulling a puddle of ocean water to search for a shark.
Also, we’re not even sure if sharks exist and, if they do, what they might look like or how they might behave. While I think it is almost certain that life will exist among the trillions of planets in the universe, the very scale of the universe is an issue.
What would it take to get in touch?
The sheer volume of the universe makes it very difficult to conduct interstellar travel, receive signals, or communicate with any potential distant life forms (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 is very fast. But even at that speed, it would take about four years for a signal to travel between Earth and the closest star to our galaxy, which is four light-years away.
But Einstein’s special theory of relativity tells us that, in practice, the speed of a physical object like a spaceship will be slower than the speed of light.
Also, thanks to the inverse square law of radiation, signals become weaker in proportion to the square of the distance traveled. At interstellar distances, this is a killer.
So for planets hundreds or thousands of light years away, travel times are likely to be many thousands of years. And any signals originating from the civilizations on these planets are incredibly faint and difficult to detect.
Could it be aliens that 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 a plane crash is one in a million. This begs the question: Do we believe that 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 an accident is one in a hundred million. So, to end up with alien remnants hiding in Area 51, we would need a hundred million visits from alien spacecraft. That would be 2,739 extraterrestrial visits a day, every day, for the last 100 years!
So where are they? The near-Earth environment must be constantly teeming with aliens.
With radar constantly scanning space, billions of cell phone cameras, and hundreds of thousands of amateur astronomers photographing the sky (as well as professional astronomers with powerful telescopes), there must be plenty of really good evidence in the hands of the general public and scientists, not just governments.
It is much more likely that the UFOs presented in the evidence are homemade or due to natural phenomena that we do not yet understand.
In science, Occam’s razor is still an excellent 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 that aliens haven’t visited yet.
I can’t lie though, I hope to see a time when such evidence exists. Until then, I will continue to search the skies to do my part.