Monday, May 24, 2021

They’re Out There

From the Washington Post:

In 2007, Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid called his colleagues Ted Stevens and Daniel Inouye to a specially secured room in the Capitol where highly classified information was discussed.

Stevens, a Republican from Alaska, and Inouye, a Democrat from Hawaii, controlled funding for supersecret Pentagon operations. Reid wanted to put an idea on their radar, one that needed to be kept hush-hush not just for national security but because it was, as Reid’s aides told him, kind of crazy.

He wanted the Pentagon to investigate UFOs.

“Everyone told me this would cause me nothing but trouble,” said Reid, a Democrat who represented Nevada, home of the military’s top-secret Area 51 test site, a central attraction of sorts for UFO hunters. “But I wasn’t afraid of it. And I guess time has proven me right.”

That’s because official Washington is swirling with chatter — among top senators, Pentagon insiders, and even former CIA directors — about UFOs. What was once a ticket to the political loony bin has leaped off Hollywood screens and out of science-fiction novels and into the national conversation. There are even new government acronyms.

For some Navy pilots, UFO sightings were an ordinary event: ‘Every day for at least a couple years’

“This used to be a career-ending kind of thing,” said John Podesta, who generally kept his interest in UFOs to himself when he was President Bill Clinton’s chief of staff. “You didn’t want to get caught talking about it because you’d be accused of walking out of an ‘X-Files’ episode.”

But now there isn’t just talk.

Last summer, the Defense Department issued a news release with the following headline: “Establishment of Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force.” The mission of the UAPTF, an acronym mouthful, “is to detect, analyze and catalog UAPs that could potentially pose a threat to U.S. national security,” according to the Pentagon.

A few months later, as part of President Donald Trump’s spending and pandemic relief package, the Senate Intelligence Committee, led by Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.), included a provision calling for the director of national intelligence to help produce an unclassified report on everything government agencies know about UFOs, including scores of unusual sightings reported by military pilots.

That report is due sometime next month.

I have no doubt that there are other forms of life out in the universe who have evolved to sentient beings in some form or another — perhaps humanoid, perhaps not — and that they have also evolved to the point of space travel. The odds are a trillion to one that we are not alone, based solely on the number of stars and galaxies in the universe and the fact that we’re already seeing planets orbiting nearby stars. What’s keeping them from actually contacting us in the manner depicted in science fiction may have to do with the distance — it’s a few light years to the nearest star — or that they have determined we’re not worthy of contacting.  In the Star Trek universe, explorers on the Enterprise wouldn’t conduct first contact with a civilization until they had achieved faster-than-light space travel. We’re not there yet because of Einstein’s theory that nothing can travel faster than light.

If somehow these emissaries have achieved faster-than-light capabilities and we are actually contacted by them, it would certainly change things.  But if they’ve been listening in on our radio and television transmissions — the only signals we have generated that travel at the speed of light — I’m afraid we’d have a lot of explaining to do about the events of the last 100 years.

Maybe the best thing it could do is convince us to clean up and grow up so as not to appear to be so primitive and tacky to the people next door.

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