BARCELONA, Spain — For the often-ridiculed followers of ufology, the study of unidentified flying objects, there was a sense of validation when the celebrated physicist and author Michio Kaku took a break from his work on string field theory to address the Ufology World Congress here last weekend and offer some advice on how to behave aboard an alien spaceship.
“For God’s sake, steal something!” he exhorted the audience of 1,000 at the Hesperia Barcelona Tower hotel, famous for its spaceship bar perched off the 29th floor. Kaku said a pocketed alien paper clip, alien fork, even a bit of “alien dandruff” would yield useful chemical and genetic information to scientists.
It is, of course, a matter of speculation whether extraterrestrials have hair, let alone dandruff. Drawings based on the descriptions of people who claim to have seen them typically depict them as bald, although there is also believed to be a race of blond humanoid aliens known as “Nordics.”
Kaku, a well-known science writer, media personality and professor of theoretical physics at the City University of New York Graduate Center, also spoke to Yahoo News about assorted planetary matters, including his concerns about a future traffic jam in orbits around the moon, in a separate interview.
Even without extraterrestrial dandruff to analyze, the field of astrobiology, the study of life outside Earth, has been invigorated recently by some provocative findings released over the past 20 months. Researchers have been poring over recently declassified videos shot by U.S. Navy pilots over the East Coast in 2015, showing mysterious flying objects that behave like no known aircraft. Thanks to newly updated radar systems in Navy jets, the videos have aided scientists by providing “testability” and previously unknown metrics about UFOs. “We now know they fly between Mach 5 and Mach 20 — five to 20 times the speed of sound,” Kaku said. “We know they zigzag so fast that any pilot would be crushed by centrifugal force. That they have no exhaust that we can see.” The explanations usually invoked for UFO sightings — meteors, weather balloons, even the planet Venus — can’t explain these live-action high-precision shots, said Kaku, leading to either of two possible conclusions: They are of human origin, representing a technology so cutting-edge that even leading scientists are puzzled by it. Or, he said, “maybe they are evidence of an advanced outer space civilization.”
Could they be Russian, not Martian? Perhaps, Kaku allowed, given that last year Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that “Russia had built a hypersonic flying vehicle that can zigzag.” The U.S. and China are also working on hypersonic drones. On the other hand, Kaku emphasized, “maybe they are extraterrestrial.” After all, he noted, the universe is 13.8 billion years old, while earthly science was born merely 300 years ago; on any of 4,000 recently discovered exoplanets, where life as we know it might be able to exist, alien civilizations may well have had much longer to advance their scientific and technological skills.
Even if not smoking-gun proof, the declassified videos — bolstered by confirmation of multiple sightings of unexplained aerial vehicles during 2014 and 2015, including at least one near-collision — are giving ufology new weight. “We’ve reached a turning point,” Kaku said. “It used to be that believers had to prove that these objects were from an intelligent race in outer space. Now the burden of proof is on the government to prove they’re not from intelligent beings in outer space.”
The possibility that they are vehicles from other planetary civilizations, Kaku told Yahoo, “now has to be put on the table.”
Still, in the absence of even a molecule of aliens’ DNA, if they have DNA — Kaku cautioned that pilots in alien spacecraft may be cybernetic or robotic — astrobiology remains largely a discipline without a material subject matter. Which is why Kaku wants something scientists can touch and examine in the lab, predicting that “it will end the debate right then and there.”
Whatever the state of provability, ETs and spinning discs are again the rage, as evidenced in more than just ticket prices for the three-day Ufology World Congress, which ranged up to $1,600 for premium seating and a “meet-and-greet” with Kaku.
There was a sense of change in the air, or at least the skies, in both popular culture and scientific research. In a throwback to the ’50s and ’60s, when sightings of flying saucers were front-page news and TV shows warned viewers not to shake hands with aliens should they encounter them, the media, from Fox News to the New York Times, Politico and the Washington Post, is now giving the topic more airtime and more ink. Congress is demanding more information about UFO sightings as well. New TV shows and documentaries are popping up, among them a series backed by Sony Pictures TV about the 1980 Rendlesham Forest incident, when unidentified aerial vehicles near U.S. Air Force bases in the U.K. were sighted by multiple military witnesses. And there is renewed interest in the 1947 Roswell incident — when unidentifiable debris from what the U.S. military later said was a weather balloon crashed in New Mexico — and in Area 51, the classified Nevada military base that conspiracy theorists believe houses captured aliens and their vehicles. This summer, when a 21-year-old Nevada man, Matthew Roberts, posted a public Facebook page calling for a mass march on the base to uncover the truth, some 2 million Facebook users signed on, even though Roberts, as he later admitted, meant it as a joke. The substitute event, a pair of festivals nearby dubbed “Alienstock,” was canceled after Pentagon officials warned civilians to keep away from the installation.
As of last December, only 35 percent of Americans believed aliens have landed on Earth, according to an Economist/YouGov poll, but further intrigue and research into UFOs is being spurred by funding from Tom DeLonge, the frontman for the turn-of-the-millennium pop punk band Blink-182, who founded the science and media venture To the Stars Academy of Arts & Science as “a vehicle for the disclosure of the UFO phenomenon.”
DeLonge is also executive producer of “Unidentified: Inside America’s UFO Investigation,” a six-part documentary on the History Channel, which also airs “Ancient Aliens” and “Project Blue Book.” DeLonge’s series explores a shadowy Pentagon initiative called the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, which was first officially acknowledged in December 2017, when the New York Times ran a front-page article that included links to two declassified videos never before seen by the public.
The AATIP, which the Pentagon claims was shuttered in 2012, ostensibly was created in 2007 to catalogue aerial threats from foreign countries. But the titles of supplemental reports, which were listed in an unclassified letter to Sen. John McCain obtained by former British Ministry of Defense official Nick Pope (a speaker at the ufology conference), imply that the Defense Department was looking at threats much farther over the horizon than Russia: “Traversable Wormholes,” “Invisibility Cloaks,” “Space Communication Implications of Quantum Entanglement” and “Warp Drive, Dark Energy and the Manipulation of Extra Dimensions.” The contents of the reports remain secret.
Luis Elizondo, who headed the AATIP and stars in “Unidentified,” is demanding that UFOs be taken more seriously: he marched out of his Defense Department post in October 2017 protesting that the department was ignoring “the many accounts from the Navy and other services of unusual aerial systems interfering with military weapons platforms and displaying beyond-next-generation capabilities.” Now employed by the To the Stars Academy, he told Politico in April, “If you are in a busy airport and see something you are supposed to say something. With our own military members it is kind of the opposite: ‘If you do see something, don’t say something.’”
UFO believer Robert Bigelow, owner of Bigelow Aerospace, which conducted secret research for the AATIP, and who prior to that ran a hush-hush “UFO lab” on his Skinwalker Ranch in Utah, the subject of a recent documentary, despairs of the “juvenile taboo” he says attaches to research on the subject. Christopher Mellon, a former deputy assistant secretary of defense for intelligence who consults for To the Stars, wrote in a Washington Post op-ed last year that the Pentagon’s don’t-bother-us-with-alien-spacecraft attitude is “a serious and recurring impediment to progress,” akin to “having the Army conduct a submarine search without the Navy.” “Nobody wants to be ‘the alien guy’ in the national security bureaucracy,” he wrote. “Nobody wants to be ridiculed.”
The calls to make the study of UFOs more respectable got a boost at the Barcelona conference from appearances by Kaku and other serious speakers, including researchers and a government official, but there was also a large representation of enthusiasts and eccentrics. One self-declared expert on the relationship between humans and extraterrestrials warned the audience that aliens are coming to Earth to enslave humans and eat their babies.
Even so, the general tone was upbeat. “We’re in game-changing, paradigm-busting territory,” said Pope, who for 21 years worked in the U.K.’s Ministry of Defense, including four during the 1990s when he headed Britain’s UFO program. He said that during his years there the program “never found proof you could take to the bank,” but neither did it conclude that UFOs were definitively not from outside Earth.
When the U.K. began allowing Freedom of Information requests 15 years ago, many files from the UFO program were opened up. Pope said UFOs are the topic that Brits most often ask their government about. Citing reports from European governments as well as the U.S. and accounts of sightings by “police officers, pilots and military personnel,” he said in an interview that he hopes to “bring the subject out of the fringe and into the mainstream.”
Prior to the 1990s, Pope “had no interest in the topic at all — I was simply assigned it as a government job.” Now he believes that “more likely than not,” at least some UFOs may be of extraterrestrial origin. “There’s no smoke without fire. When you put it all together, even if 99 percent are misidentification and hoaxes, you only need to prove one. The skeptics have to be right every day, but the believers only have to be right once.”
Former IBM executive Jan Harzan, executive director for the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON), which has been cataloguing and investigating reports of UFOs for 50 years, was more emphatic: “We are definitely not alone,” he said. “It’s a fact!” He has believed this since his childhood, when he and his brother witnessed a UFO in their backyard in Thousand Oaks, Calif., where the boys played around with radio equipment and tried to conduct experiments with antimatter. Harzan said the great majority of the 500 or more reports his organization receives monthly are dismissed, but “we think about 5 percent appear to be legitimate.”
That implies around 300 genuine sightings of alien craft a year, and not even a speck of dandruff to show for it.
Or is there? Mexican journalist Jaime Maussan spoke about the possibility that three-fingered mummies from Peru contain alien DNA (if alien life is, in fact, DNA-based). J.J. and Desiree Hurtak, both social scientists, spoke about pyramids on Mars and how Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan were among those who believed they’d witnessed UFOs, which they said have also been spotted near the site of the destroyed nuclear power plant at Fukushima, Japan. “We believe [extraterrestrials] are not happy with nuclear energy,” said Desiree, while J.J. explained that during a vision he had in 1973, he was given a world map that showed him precisely where to find the footprints of giants in South Africa, as outlined in his book “The Keys of Enoch.” In an interview with Yahoo, they said they “have evidence” of a number of alien corpses. “Michio Kaku says [scientists] need [alien] tissue samples,” noted J.J. “We’re suggesting there already are tissue samples. All are under top-secret control, and they won’t be available for several years.”
The conference spanned three days of lectures and workshops, exploring the diversity of UFO craft (shaped like barbells, cigars, shiny orbs or even Tic Tacs), the numerous varieties of alien races (from the lizard-like Dracos and large-eyed, hairless Greys to the tall, human-like Nordics), and the phenomena of crop circles, lucid dreaming, pineal gland stimulation and preparing for alien arrivals by learning “the language of light.” Some of the attendees said they’d seen UFOs, and one claimed to actually be from Mars, bearing the message that humans needed to love each other. Spanish media celebrities ambled about, some doing interviews, some giving impromptu talks — among them parapsychology investigator Sergio Ruiz, who broadcasts five radio shows in Spain. His reason for coming from the Basque country to the conference: demonic possession. Ruiz said he’d recently completed a Vatican course on the subject. According to him, the first thing that’s taught is that victims of possession may in fact have been overtaken by extraterrestrials.
As to why those from outer space would have any interest in Earth, most speakers said they were coming in peace and to help humanity. Harzan, MUFON’s director, said that most messages conveyed to those whose experiences MUFON believed were legitimate concerned saving the planet from destruction.
But one of the final speakers of the ufology congress, American author Alfred Webre, a self-described “international lawyer” who writes books about “exopolitics” — the politics between Earthlings and aliens — raised the most alarming possibility: that extraterrestrials are coming to Earth to recruit human slave labor. “There are some estimates that 60 million humans are enslaved in industrial facilities in the solar systems, producing products used through the galaxy,” he told Yahoo. Even worse, he said, some aliens, specifically the race known as Draco-Reptilians, believed to come from the Orion constellation, have a taste for human babies.
Webre, who said he previously worked for the Stanford Research Institute, now SRI International, claimed he headed a project called the Extraterrestrial Communication Study, established early in the Carter administration but “stopped in its tracks by the Pentagon in October 1977.” The reason, he said: The project was about to expose the fact that “the United States has had secret treaties with certain extraterrestrial civilizations” — Orion Greys and Draco-Reptilians, to be specific — going back to FDR’s time. He said our world is actually being overseen by a regional galactic government of “seven or eight civilizations.”
For all his lurid depictions of extraterrestrials, Webre had come to deliver good news in his speech at the congress. “The famous Brazilian prophet Xico Xavier,” he said, made a prediction on July 20, 1969, “the same day the U.S. allegedly landed on the moon.” In 50 years from that day, said Webre, “if World War III hadn’t broken out by then,” it would never happen, and humanity “would be rejoining the galactic community of nations” — to which he hopes to be an Earthly representative.
His message was so crucial that Webre posted on his Facebook page that Hurricane Dorian was a “weather warfare event,” meant to interrupt or overshadow his talk at the conference and the impending “reunification of Earth humanity with peaceful galactic communities.”
A few hours later, Barcelona media broke the news that two tornadoes had touched down in the city, in which tornadoes are a rarity — the first about 3 miles north of the hotel, the second about 3 miles south. And they’d touched down just before Webre was to speak.
Yahoo News contributor Melissa Rossi is a U.S. journalist based in Spain.
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