When Strange Things Appear in the Sky   Leave a comment


NYTimes

When strange things appear in the sky, many people can’t help but turn their thoughts to extraterrestrials. But there’s usually a more down-to-earth explanation.

That was the case when a bright light in the sky off the Southern California coast last weekend touched off a flurry of excitement about unidentified flying objects.

After news reports the Navy reluctantly confirmed it had been testing a Trident II (D5) missile fired from a submarine. A second and final missile was tested on Monday, The Los Angeles Times reported.

It was one of several recent sightings in the sky to cause talk about U.F.O.s. Others included a group of strangely shaped clouds over Cape Town, also over the weekend, and an Army veteran’s claim that he spotted a “solid, dark-gray triangle-shaped craft” in the sky over Portland, Tenn., last week.

Most of these sightings go unreported in the mainstream news media, though a variety of blogs and sites track them.“The mind abhors a vacuum of explanation,” said Michael Shermer, 61, the publisher of Skeptic magazine and a columnist for Scientific American. “Short of a good explanation, people just turn to the one that most immediately comes to mind which, in pop culture, is extraterrestrials.”

A poll of a random sample of 1,114 American adults conducted by National Geographic in 2012 found that 77 percent believed “there are signs that aliens have visited Earth.” (It also found that President Obama would “handle an alien invasion” better than Mitt Romney, who was running for president at the time.)

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Peter Davenport, 67, is the director of a two-person organization called the National U.F.O. Reporting Center in Washington State. He compiles reports on sightings, like one in 2013 that came from a former astronaut, Byron Lichtenberg, who is based in North Texas.

Mr. Lichtenberg confirmed that he did call in the report, though he pointed out by email that a few months after his sighting, details began to emerge about the Lockheed Martin SR-72 aircraft.

“It would make sense if that’s what we saw,” he said.

Mr. Davenport, of the reporting center, was dismissive of the idea that the naval exercise near Los Angeles should even be discussed in the same breath with possible alien sightings.

“We’re struggling with a semantic issue here,” he told me. “The term U.F.O. from my vantage point alludes to a genuine alien craft that has exhibited flight characteristics that are altogether incompatible with terrestrial aircraft or any kind of object of terrestrial origin.”

SR-72

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The popular “X Files” series, due for a six-episode return in January, popularized the idea that the government was hiding secrets about alien technology. Many episodes of the show opened with the tagline, “The Truth Is Out There.”

More likely, the truth is in our heads. Mr. Shermer, who is also the author of a book called “The Believing Brain,” is of the opinion that the possibility of alien life speaks to a spiritual need, calling it ”almost a replacement for mainstream religion.”

“In a way, extraterrestrials are like deities for atheists,” he said. “They’re always described as these vastly superior, almost omnipotent beings coming down from on high, very much like the Christ story, the Mormon story or the Scientology story.”

Although he is about as professional a skeptic as it is possible to be, Mr. Shermer said that he remained interested in the “supernatural, the paranormal, science and religion, God, extraterrestrials, U.F.O.’s, ESP.”

He added, “It is all fascinating and, if it were true, it’d be fantastic.”

Submarine launched missiles could really confuse people. Imagine being on a yacht 500 miles out to sea, then all of a sudden something emerges from the depths and blasts into the sky. It would be exhilarating.

030606-N-0000X-005 Washington, D.C. (Jun. 6, 2003) -- Artist concept of the SSGN conversion program.  Four Ohio-class strategic missile submarines USS Ohio (SSBN 726), USS Michigan (SSBN 727) USS Florida (SSBN 728), and USS Georgia (SSBN 729) have been selected for transformation into a new platform, designated SSGN or Tactical Trident. The SSGNs will have the capability to support and launch up to 154 Tomahawk missiles, a significant increase in capacity as compared to other platforms. The 22 missile tubes will also provide the capability to carry other payloads, such as unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs), unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and special forces equipment.  This new platform will also have the capability to carry and support more than 66 Navy SEALs (Sea, Air and Land) and insert them clandestinely into potential conflict areas.  U.S. Navy graphic.  (RELEASED)

Posted November 14, 2015 by markosun in Uncategorized

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