High Strangeness: UFOs in the News

Sunday, November 19, 2017

UFOs in the News

I've come across a couple of interesting articles recently that have given me some things to think about, UFO-wise.

The first was this article in WIRED, entitled Twenty Years After His Death, Carl Sagan is Still Right. Right about what, you may ask? Why, UFOs, of course!

The writer recalls a time twenty years ago when he interviewed Dr. Sagan, the noted UFO skeptic, in order to find out from Sagan "why people believed crazy stuff." When you've started the discussion out on such a low level, you can hardly expect any remarkable insights, and Sagan offered none:
“When UFOs became a popular subject and I was in early high school or something, it seemed to me great. We were just reaching out into space, and why not a much more advanced civilization reaching out to us?” Sagan said. “It seemed so heady and promising, such an interesting future. But as I learned a little bit more about the properly skeptical attitudes of science and how often we deceive ourselves, I began to look at this with much more skepticism.”
Later, the author quotes Sagan's idiotic saying that "Extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence" -- a stance that I pick apart in my book The Close Encounters Man. The interviewer simply accepted that as the final word on UFOs twenty years ago, and its clear from the new article that he still believes that today. It's a very frustrating read, and some of the commenters are even more closed-minded than the author.

Still, I recommend you read it, as it pretty much sums up what we're up against.
The massive radio antenna at Arecibo, Puerto Rico, listens for alien transmission. China is building one even bigger.

The other article I came across this week was much more fun, and much more uplifting. What Happens If China Makes First Contact? just appeared in the December, 2017 issue of The Atlantic, and although it's a very long article is is well worth a full read. The article tells the story of China's efforts to build a radio telescope nestled between mountains that is twice as far across as the one nestled between mountains near Arecibo, Puerto Rico, which is already pretty damn big.

Why are the Chinese taking on such a massive, expensive project? Could it be that they want that first UFO to land not on the lawn of the White House but in the middle of The Forbidden City? It turns out that is exactly right. The Chinese want to make first contact so badly that they have built the world's largest radio telescope and they have dedicated it exclusively to listening for signals from extraterrestrials.

And, get this: they've enlisted the aid of Liu Cixin, China's best-known science-fiction author and first-ever Hugo Award winner, to help publicize the dish and its mission. It's a massive, ambitious, exciting project (which, as far as I can tell, does not have a name), and the Chinese seem to be doing everything in their rather formidable power to make it a success. And I think that's really exciting and inspiring.

I suppose it's possible that there's a down side to idea of competition in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, but I also think that if that if first contact were made, the alien intelligence(s) would be wise enough to know that any signal they send to the Chinese dish would need to be simultaneously "cc'd" to the Arecibo dish.

They're the smart ones, remember?

10 comments:

dubious f said...

The only unfortunate thing that will decide who makes FIRST contact is more about money than it is physics.

These radiotelescopes have one thing in common: they are fixed to the ground. Making these behemoths directionnal would simply be too formidable; they sweep the skies as the planet rotates. The width of the dishes do make a large angle of scanning. If they get an interesting signal, at sometime they know they'll loose it.
If China is on the opposite side of the said signal, Puerto Rico could claims it or vice versa. They will have limited time to announce it. Which brings another down side to that pestering rotation, since you only have 6 hours to "disclose" the evidence, your scientific method to build your validation may be a little rushed and not "laser beam" proof.

I guess then it's just when the signal arrives. Considering the distances, it is true that it's about money. Not the millions invested, just a flip of a jiao...

Bill Pilgrim said...

@Mark,

Don't let your shorts get bunched, Mark. Saganism is so 20th century...and is finished.
Despite the stylish long hair and mod turtle-necks, he turned out to be a Newtonian dinosaur in hippie-garb. So much irrefutable evidence of the reality of unearthly UAPs has been amassed since his death we ought to assume the writer is a blind-faith acolyte or (empty of an inspiring topic) had to come up with something before deadline.
Were he still alive, I'm not so sure Sagan would even support the newer empirical findings of quantum mechanics.
I have no problem comparing him to the so-called colleagues of Copernicus who refused to believe what they saw with their own eyes through his telescope.
Earth revolves around the sun?...Hmmm...The evidence is "thin."

Mark OC said...

I'm not so sure Sagan would change his thinking were he alive today! He never struck me as a guy who could admit to a logical error...

Bill Pilgrim said...

...And by the way, Arecibo was severely damaged by Hurricane Maria. The decision to save it was touch & go.

nsurround said...

My heavens another giant radiotelescope SETI type project. You would think that the Chinese would learn something from SETI's record of ET non-contact by way of radio waves. Why would they spend that much on ET hunting technology that has been shown to be a dud and not spend it on finding out what the heck is happening here in our own back yard. Of course the assumption is that we will find ET and not the other way around. This phenomena what ever it is obviously shows itself when it wants to and seems in control of any 'contact' situation.

Bill Pilgrim said...

@nsurround,

The late maverick philosopher Terence McKenna once said:
"To search expectantly for a radio signal from an extraterrestrial source is probably as culture bound a presumption as to search the galaxy for a good Italian restaurant."

But, hey, I like Italian..."and so do you."

Mark OC said...

So the Chinese have taken the position that the passive approach to first contact is safest, as it's better for us to find out about ET before they find out about us. I would also assume that ET is smart enough and cautious enough to take the same approach... And since we're all presumably already transmitting TV signals into space willy nilly, I envision endless worlds sweeping the skies with their massive radio telescopes catching each others' own unique alien versions of "I Love Lucy."

Bill Pilgrim said...

...Or "Leave It To Beaver."

Mark OC said...

Anything but "The Honeymooners"

Bill Pilgrim said...

@Mark,

"...To the moon, Alice! To the moon!"