A screenshot from USS Princeton released by US defence department, April 2020. Stare at the tic-tack long enough and the object will move.
“Senior officials briefed on the intelligence conceded that the very ambiguity of the findings meant the government could not definitively rule out theories that the phenomena observed by military pilots might be alien spacecraft”, the New York Times reported.
I’m nearly sixty. Our solar system is almost five billion years old. Like me, it’s a middle-aged star. What I know about the world is approximately five billion earth years’ old divided by sixty. I cheated at maths. So I never got around to solving the Fermi paradox or the relatively simple Drake equation.
- R∗ = 1 yr−1 (1 star formed per year, on the average over the life of the galaxy; this was regarded as conservative)
- fp = 0.2 to 0.5 (one fifth to one half of all stars formed will have planets)
- ne = 1 to 5 (stars with planets will have between 1 and 5 planets capable of developing life)
- fl = 1 (100% of these planets will develop life)
- fi = 1 (100% of which will develop intelligent life)
- fc = 0.1 to 0.2 (10–20% of which will be able to communicate)
- L = 1000 to 100,000,000 communicative civilizations (which will last somewhere between 1000 and 100,000,000 years)
Factor in the discovery of almost 20 new planets beyond our solar system. Leave it all to machine intelligence and what we get is the paperclip apocalypse predicted by Nick Bostron. There are worse ways to die than by paperclip.
What we do know is space exploration has never been so buoyant. Every billionaire wants his piece of Mars with Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic, Jeff Bezo’s New Shepherd, and Elon Musk, SpaceX, duelling above where taxes are paid. NASA’s space web telescope was successfully launched on Christmas 2021. China’s building a space station on the moon. Even Brexit Britain is getting in on the act. The UK Space Agency tendering for satellite launch pads. The world above our head will be full of space junk to fill our head with even more junk via our phones, or whatever is the next big thing. Mission Impossible is to switch off, and there’ll be even more photos and videos of UFOs to consider.
The problem with these ventures is they rely on fossil fuels. Ironically, Operation Paperclip took many of the Nazi scientists using slave labour to bomb Europe to America and their basic model powered us to the stars. The tick-tack models caught on radar where able to fly (outfly) the best military hardware (80 to 100 times the speed of Concorde) at gravity-forces that would have scrambled biological entities and able to enter the water without breaking up. Sonar picked them up travelling underwater at speeds that blew modern submarines away. An aberration, perhaps.
But if we travelled to the nearest planet, five-light years away, it would take 70 000 years (give or take a few years). We have picked up planets where light seems to have been harvested. I don’t know what that means either. But I try to sound like I do. That’s the direction of travel with Ufos. Once we thought the Atlantic was uncrossable. We look for fragments of cellular life on Mars. Who knows what we’ll find? Not me. I used to have an open mind, but I closed that book long ago.