June 25, the U.S. Department of Defense will release a report on UAPs (unidentified aerial phenomena), a term now preferred to UFOs (unidentified flying objects).
A number of unusual sightings since 2017 prompted Congress to ask for a report. According to space industry reporter Leonard David, the justification is airspace safety and control, not an effort to support or refute claims about alien spacecraft: The reports firmest conclusion, it seems, is that the vast majority of UAP happenings and their surprising maneuvers are not caused by any U.S. advanced technology programs. That might mean, for example,
UAP are entirely homegrown products of revolutionary and clandestine technological advances, whether by other countries now challenging American airspace or by the U.S. itself as part of some supersecret domestic program meant to detect flaws in the nations defenses? The mind boggles.
Reason enough for investigation. The UFO rumor mill is powered, in part, as David notes, by the military habit of assuming that everything is classified unless otherwise noted. That naturally creates the impression that the Pentagon is hiding something.
Of course, thats true. The Pentagon is always hiding something! What not necessarily true is that whatever the Pentagon is hiding has any intrinsic importance for the rest of humanity. But we shall see.
Recently, a number of experts offered opinions as to whether aliens exist. Four out of five experts polled at The Conversation believe that they do: Heres one pro from planetary scientist Helen Maynard Caseley:
Im of the opinion that its only a matter of time before we find something that resembles biology somewhere other than on Earth. This is because were increasingly finding various potential pockets in our solar system that may be hospitable to life as we know it. For instance, consider the under-ice oceans of Europa and Ganymede (two of Jupiters large moons): these are places where the temperature is just right, there is access to water and to minerals, too. Then again, thats viewing things with a very Earth-like lens, and of course alien life could be very different to our own.
Only one way to find out. Meanwhile, the con, from astrobiologist Martin Van-Kranendonk:
If we use purely empirical data and assume the question refers to any type of life outside of Earth that is not related to human activity, then the answer as far as we know must be no.
But, of course, our knowledge relating to this question is finite; we have not investigated every corner of the universe for signs of life and we do not even know what may constitute life in another chemical system, as there is no agreed-on definition of carbon-based life even here on Earth.
Van-Kranendonk has a point. Its not clear whether viruses here on Earth, for example, should be considered life forms. Depends on ones definition of life.
Some, including physicist Mark Buchanan, hope we never find out. Citing a group of astronomers, he wrote,
Chances are, we should all be grateful that we dont yet have any evidence of contact with alien civilizations, Buchanan writes.
Attempting to communicate with extraterrestrials, if they do exist, could be extremely dangerous for us.
We need to figure out whether its wise or safe and how to handle such attempts in an organized manner.
Well, we can safely predict that June 25 will see a flurry of renewed interest.
In the meantime, you may also wish to read current theories as to why we dont see extraterrestrials:
2. How can we be sure we are not just anETs simulation?A number of books and films are based on the Planetarium hypothesis. Should we believe it? We make a faith-based decision that logic and evidence together are reasonable guides to what is true. Logical possibility alone does not make an idea true.
3. Did thesmart machines destroythe aliens who invented them? Thats the Berserker hypothesis. A smart deadly weapon could well decide to do without its inventor and, lacking moral guidance, destroy everything in sight. Extinction of a highly advanced civilization by its own lethal technology may be more likely than extinction by natural disaster. They could control nature.
4. Researchers: The aliens existbut they are sleepingAnd we wake them at our peril. The Aestivation hypothesis is that immensely powerful aliens are waiting in a digitized form for the universe to cool down from the heat their computers emit.
5. Maybe there are justvery few aliensout there The Rare Earth hypothesis offers science-based reasons that life in the universe is rare. Even if life is rare in the universe, Earth may be uniquely suited to space exploration, as the Privileged Planet hypothesis suggests.
6. Does science fiction hint that we areactually doomed?Thats the implication of an influential theory, the Great Filter hypothesis, as to why we never see extraterrestrials. Depending how we read the Kardashev scale, civilizations disappear somewhere between where we are now and the advanced state needed for intergalactic travel.
7. Space aliens could in fact bewatching us.Using the methods we use to spot exoplanets. But if they are technologically advanced, wouldnt they be here by now? The Hart-Tipler conjecture (they dont exist) is, of course, very unpopular in sci-fi. But lets confront it, if only to move on to more promising speculations.
8. Is the brief window forfinding ETclosing? According to some scenarios (the Brief Window hypothesis), we could be past our best-before date for contacting aliens. Of course, here we are assuming a law of nature as to how long civilizations last. Can someone state that law? How is it derived?
9. What if we dont see aliens because theyhave not evolvedyet? On this view, not only did we emerge during a favorable time in the universes history but we could end up suppressing them. The Firstborn hypothesis (we achieved intelligence before extraterrestrials) lines up with the view that humans are unique but sees that status as temporary.
13. The Aurora Hypothesis: ET could risk onlyrare contact with us.Given the difficulties and risks of space travel, extraterrestrials with advanced technology may have visited Earth only one in a million years, researchers say. After centuries of modern science, we are just now looking for fossil bacteria on Mars, not without risk. ET may be in the same position.
14. The Dark Forest Hypothesis: What if the extraterrestrials cant afford to take chances with us? Thats the Dark Forest Hypothesis, riffing off the title of one of famed Chinese sci-fi author Liu Cixins novels. The Dark Forest Hypothesis assumes that we can use sociology to figure out what extraterrestrial intelligences might be like or might want. But can we?
Read the rest here:
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