There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy
Not long ago, the subject of UFOs was taboo - limited to science fiction fans and late-night talk shows. These days, it is mainstream, with many people searching information about it on Google and many powerful politicians talking about it, as are the media, the Army, and the Navy.
UFOs have to be the oldest “news” story. According to Wikipedia, scribes of the Pharaoh Thutmose III reported “fiery disks” floating in the skies and Plutarch, a Roman army commander and philosopher, wrote about seeing “silvery objects.” John Winthrop, governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, wrote about “mysterious” lights that “ran swift as an arrow” and “darted back and forth.”
The Battle For Los Angeles
There have been countless sightings over the years. Probably the most sensational one in the US occurred 2:15 a.m. on Feb. 25, 1942 - less than three months after Pearl Harbor was attacked and less than 36 hours after a Japanese sub shelled Ellwood, a strategic oil field along the coast of California.
That’s when radar picked up an unidentified object flying toward the West Coast. Los Angeles was blacked out and the military was put on alert. Local news stations reported that hundreds of thousands were awakened by sirens blaring in the wee hours of the morning. Search lights swept the sky.
No one was prepared for what they saw: a large orange craft hovering over the city.
The Army fired 1,440 shells at it and observers reported that many hit the target - yet it was not damaged in the least. The craft finally moved away and it appeared the incident was over, but an hour later it returned, and the Army opened fire again. The object drifted away and disappeared over the ocean. Despite all the eyewitnesses, a government report dismissed the incident as a weather balloon.
UFOs became headline news again in the summer of 1952 when they were repeatedly sighted over Washington, DC - some even buzzed the White House. An investigation dismissed that incident, too.
Won’t Go Away
Not all UFO sightings are real. Some are skillfully crafted hoaxes, retouched photos, or edited videos. Even some very famous curiosities possibly related to extraterrestrials, including Area 51, the face on Mars, and crop circles, have been debunked, found to be natural phenomena, or actually not a phenomenon at all. (Not everyone accepts these explanations as true.)
In any case, this story just doesn’t go away. Countless people in dozens of countries over many centuries have reported unexplained objects in the skies - many of them are very credible. John Glenn, the first American to orbit the Earth, said numerous darting lights surrounded his Friendship 7 capsule moments after it achieved orbit. Former astronaut “Buzz” Aldrin told the Science Channel that he and his colleagues aboard the Apollo 11 mission were “followed” by an unidentified craft.
US Astronaut Leroy Chiao, commander of the International Space Station, saw “awfully strange” lights, “almost like an upside-down check mark.” At least four other US astronauts have seen UFOs, and/or believe extraterrestrials are real: Edgar Mitchell, Gordon Cooper, “Deke” Slayton, and Brian O’Leary.
Other prominent people also have seen them, including former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan, and so have police officers, teachers, pilots, truck drivers, a Russian cosmonaut, and the Prime Minister of Grenada.
Many well-known celebrities, including Elvis Presley, Muhammad Ali, Olivia Newton John, David Bowie, and William Shatner, said they have seen UFOs. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, former Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe, and former Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid talk about them frequently. Golfer Bryson DeChambeau, basketball great Shaquille O’Neal, and quarterback Baker Mayfield also reported seeing one recently.
So what’s really going on in our skies? MSNBC’s Dylan Ratigan put this question to Dr. Michio Kaku, an astrophysicist at the CUNY Graduate Center. “95% of the sightings can be explained as the planet Venus, weather balloons, weather anomalies, comets, meteors, or the like,” Kaku replied. “It’s the other five percent that give you the willies. They remain completely unexplained.”
Those five percent are raising a great deal of national security concerns because too often they have been seen flying over US military bases, naval vessels, nuclear power plants, and other sensitive locations; moreover, their presence has been confirmed by radar. At times they travel at incredible speeds and make very sharp maneuvers in ways considered impossible by known technologies and laws of science.
While many things about UFOs are unexplained, one that is indisputable is that they have generated many billions in business. Aliens and related themes often appear on T-shirts and sweatshirts, lunch-boxes, loose-leaf covers, and all kinds of novelty items.
They have inspired some episodes of the X-Files, Star Trek, and The Twilight Zone, as well as some shows devoted exclusively to them, including The Invaders, Mork and Mindy, and My Favorite Martian, among others. Over the years, many dozens of movies were made about them, including Close Encounters, Men In Black, Independence Day, and ET. These and related films have grossed many billions of dollars in total.
In 1944, then-commander of Allied Forces in Europe Dwight Eisenhower issued a curious press release about “Foo Fighters” - unidentified objects that flew very close to both US and UK military planes and that sometimes caused engine malfunctions and other disturbances. They would quickly shoot up from the ground and then suddenly make very sharp turns and fly away at very great speed. Ike was afraid they were secret enemy weapons.
An even more curious release that year was written by Pres. Roosevelt. FDR wrote that “non-terrestrial know-how in atomic energy must be used in perfecting super weapons of war to affect the complete defeat of Germany and Japan.”
In a fascinating and informative article that recently appeared on Aish.com, Rabbi Efrem Goldberg quotes views that various talmidei chachomim, some of them contemporary, have expressed about the possibility of extraterrestrial life. Very brief summaries of some of those views follow.
Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan wrote that “there are seven Earths... Although they are not inhabited by man, they are the domain of intelligent creatures.”
When asked about alien life, the Rav, Rabbi Soloveitchik, replied, “It is possible that Hashem created other life forms on other planets. It is no problem to Judaism.”
Rav Yaakov Kamenetsky, on the other hand, is reported to have said that there may or may not be living creatures in outer space, but there cannot be human-like creatures with free will.
After the first moon landing, the Lubavitcher Rebbe acknowledged that there is support in Torah for the notion that life exists on other planets, but argued it could not be intelligent or similar to human life.
It should be noted that this subject is mystical, very complex, and needs a great deal of elaboration.
The government could release a great deal of the information it has on this subject in the very near future, and in fact some has started to trickle out. However, this has to be done very gradually as not to alarm people.
In 1938, actor Orson Welles delivered a radio broadcast of the science fiction classic War of the Worlds, which dramatizes Martians invading and attacking New Jersey. Welles noted repeatedly that the broadcast was fictionalized. Nevertheless, some people were terrified - they tried to flee from that area, hid, and loaded guns to defend themselves.
How would the public react if the government report says that aliens are real, that they have technologies far beyond anything found on Earth and that they are monitoring us very carefully? Very likely some people would take this news in stride but others might react very differently. They could become more religious or agnostic; new religions could develop. Others might become depressed, skeptical, or react in completely unpredictable ways. An article on BloombergQuint suggests that defense stocks might rise, even though it’s more than unlikely that weapons could be developed to fight beings that have technology so advanced that they can reach Earth from planets lightyears away.
The government report will shed a lot more light on this subject and its release could be imminent. It could be scary to learn details about that report. But in a sense, not knowing for sure and imagining all the possibilities is even scarier.
Sources: bloombergquint.com; britannica.com; earthsky.org; history.com; nypost.com; ranker.com; rd.com; space.com; umanitoda.ca; usatoday.com; wikipedia.org; YouTube: Was President Roosevelt In Possession of Extraterrestrial Technology?; UFO: The Lost Evidence