Flying Saucers Redux

Wouldn’t it be nice if kindly space people suddenly appeared to lead us out of this mess we’ve gotten ourselves into? The New York Times thinks so.

Back in the late 1940s and early 1950s, there was also a continuing saga of flying saucers, as they were called then. I was intrigued, being a kid who read science fiction and was terrified of atom bombs. As recently a year ago, on a trip to Texas, I made sure to drive through Levelland, where a famous sighting had taken place.

We’ve got an international mess right now. Creeping fascism and authoritarianism. The United States and Britain consumed with their own crazy. It would be so nice if the kindly space people would land, with their wisdom.

The space people are always kindly, never mind the examples otherwise we have on earth.

Our aviators sometimes see blobs on their radar or with their own eyes that move in ways, without obvious means of propulsion, that seem to defy the laws of physics. Wild speed and instantaneous maneuvering. There are not a lot of these sightings. It was the same with flying saucers, but we are more judicious now and call them Unidentified Flying Objects. There are a few people in the military who believe they should be investigated. Some are found to be reflections or electronic glitches, but others don’t have enough information to know.

Movies were made about flying saucers and the high intelligences that piloted them. The genre never entirely went away, and now folks look back to the kindly ET who needed to call home. Official organs of the state acknowledged the existence of flying saucers too.

The New York Times has had a number of articles on UFOs in the past year. A year ago, Dan Zak of the Washington Post told the story of the rock star who has been pushing UFO lore. No matter, there was another in the Times this week.

The movements of the blobs in the videos look to me like the way reflections seem to move. That’s as scientific as the judgments in the stories.

Perhaps it’s a coincidence that these apparitions arrive at times when we are faced with what seem like international conundrums. Flying saucers became less visible into the 1960s, as we sorted out how to deal with the problems we had made for ourselves. We can sort out today’s problems too. Just us.


Open thread!


Graphic from here, but I recall this one from long-ago accounts of the Levelland sitings.

80 replies
  1. 1
    Ten Bears says:

    From a long time ago: I feel the same way about extraterrestrial aliens visiting Earth as I do about angels and gods. If they exist and are good guys, they would be helping us. If they exist and are bad guys they would be screwing with us.

    It could be that they are just observing us, in which case, screw them, they are bad guys. If they are paying attention to what’s going on on planet earth, they are a sorry race for not helping. Come on, give us a bone here.

    It could be that they are screwing with us on a monstrous scale and we are not aware of it. If this were true, there would not be such an anarchistic society and Earth society would be living by their plan. If they could control the planet, they would control the planet.

    It could be that we are some sort of grand planetary societal experiment, in which case, screw them, they are bad guys. Their experiment sucks and is putting unnecessary and cruel hardship on sapient creatures. It is not possible for an advanced society to let a planet exist in such misery, sheesh, even some lowly humans have recognized the ethical treatment of creatures of lesser intelligence.

    Of course it could be that there are no angels, aliens or gods. This would go a long way explaining the situation we find ourselves in, here on planet Earth.

    As you can see, the inaction in every scenario significantly indicates that angels, aliens and gods do not exist.

    Unfortunately, this also means that if there are angels, aliens and gods, they are the bad guys.

  2. 2
    Odie Hugh Manatee says:

    If there’s intelligent life out there it’s probably intelligent enough to stay away from this backwater trailer park in this part of the universe. Conservatives would not handle knowing that there was someone out there and would want to eventually mount an attack on them.

    You know, before they attack us!

  3. 3

    […] Cross-posted at Balloon Juice. […]

  4. 4
    Kristine says:

    I’m feeling gloomy enough to assume that with our luck, our visitors from Beyond would turn out to be of the “It’s a cookbook!” variety. And there would be plenty of Graham crackers lining up to sell out those deemed more appetizing as long as they themselves remained off the menu.

    I need to stay offline today, methinks.

    In grade school, I found books in the grown-up section written by folks who claimed to have met visitors from other worlds. I even gave a couple of presentations to the class about them. Given that this was a Catholic grade school in Florida in the late 60’s/1970, maybe that was a bigger deal than I thought at the time.

  5. 5
    Betty Cracker says:

    Maybe observing aliens, if any, follow a “prime directive” like on Star Trek?

  6. 6
    Mike E says:

    @Ten Bears: the truth is out there!

  7. 7
    Al Z. says:

    Then there’s the hypothesis that UFOs are time machines from our future. That might explain the uptick during times of conflict.

  8. 8

    One of my favorite things that sci-fi books do is try to explain the Fermi paradox (“assuming a high likelihood of life developing elsewhere, why haven’t we seen any evidence?”). I recently finished the sequel to the Three-Body Problem, and the game-theoretic answer was that any civilization stupid enough to speak up was devoured by the nearest civilization smart enough to stay quiet.

  9. 9

    I loves me some imagination, but Occam’s Razor points to reflections!

  10. 10

    @Betty Cracker: Star Trek used to break the Prime Directive all the time. Did TOS even have the directive?

  11. 11

    @Cheryl Rofer: the one I posted is perfectly aligned with it being reflections!

  12. 12
    laura says:

    This cheery ditty seemed apt:

  13. 13
    Eric U. says:

    seems like all science fiction concerning interplanetary travel posits FTL and suspended animation, two technologies that probably can’t exist. Maybe these aliens just have really long lifespans and don’t get bored easily? This ignores the tremendous energy most of these things seem to waste flitting around in our atmosphere.

    I don’t think they would travel that far to eat us, and it seems like there are probably other planets to exploit commercially, so I’m trying to figure out why any advanced civilization would bother when a phone call would suffice.

  14. 14
    jeffreyw says:

    I remember a time travel story where the visitors to significant incidents in history were getting so numerous that they had to ban trips to certain events. It did explain how Jesus was able to feed the “multitudes” – they were time travelers who had brought their own lunches.

  15. 15
    Tony Jay says:

    Obviously our distant ancestors achieved space-travel and caused some major havoc out there, resulting in every human occupied planet being hammered back to the Stone Age as punishment. It’s not that Space is empty, we’re just in the latter stages of a nearly complete quarantine period and the automated check-in regime has got a little bit sloppy as the better administrators are reassigned.


  16. 16
    Betty Cracker says:

    @schrodingers_cat: I’m pretty sure the original series did have the prime directive. You’re right though — they broke it all the time!

  17. 17
    PsiFighter37 says:

    So OT, but Michael Wolff’s new books claims Mueller drafted a 3-count indictment of Trump but never filed it. The Guardian claims to have a copy it has viewed as well. Mueller’s spox denies it…thoughts?

  18. 18

    @Eric U.: I don’t see what makes suspended animation impossible in the same way FTL is. As for eating us, if they’re looking for earthlike planets (as we are even now), and looking to expand, welp.

  19. 19
    ant says:

    I know it’s sounds crazy, but I always wonder if the story about Jesus Christ is a story about UFO’s and alien visitation.

    There are lots of stories in the gospel books of the bible that sound like it to me. Take for example Matthew 3:16,17:

    16 And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:

    17 And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

    Or the UFO described at the birth of Jesus in matthew 2:9,10:

    9 When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.

    10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.

    It also explains other things like the virgin Mary (why would anyone believe her?), the resurrection of Jesus, and so on…… Angels are aliens…… UFO’s being called fiery chariots and so on….

    Anyway, who knows. Makes more sense that some cracker hovering up in the sky in a robe with a beard, who is mad because I jerked off this morning.

    Is that halo above Jesus’s head in paintings a UFO?

  20. 20
    DCrefugee says:

    Unidentified flying objects are just that: unidentified. The recent coverage, especially in FTFNYT, seems to have a different-level motive, but in these times, everything else does, too. But it’s curious the U.S. Navy seems not to be objecting.

    And I would think a lifeform intelligent enough to be here also is intelligent enough to hide its presence…

    Which leaves: These recent sightings are either completely fabricated or some 11-level chess rolling out to the public some (admittedly very cool) new technology without doing it all at once. I dunno…

    I want to believe…

  21. 21
    cope says:

    If we extrapolate from our own Earth-bound situation, the hordes of visiting/attacking/hungry alien beings from other planets will be led by their planet’s equivalents of Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos. That is truly horrifying.

  22. 22
    gene108 says:

    This (and Space Pirates) is why we need a Space Force! To protect our atmospheric borders from space alien incursion! Trump is so smart and foresighted!

  23. 23
    germy says:

    @PsiFighter37: I don’t know what to make of it.

    Guardian UK: Mueller drew up obstruction indictment against Trump, Michael Wolff book claims

    …the first count, under Title 18, United States code, Section 1505, charged the president with corruptly – or by threats of force or threatening communication – influencing, obstructing or impeding a pending proceeding before a department or agency of the United States.

    The second count, under section 1512, charged the president with tampering with a witness, victim or informant.

    The third count, under section 1513, charged the president with retaliating against a witness, victim or informant.

  24. 24
    Jager says:

    In the 70s I worked with a guy who claimed he”d encountered beings from outer space on a drive back home from a Florida vacation. His experience pushed him into whacky Christian religion, he quit his radio job and went to work for Pat Robertson. He lost his wife and daughter over it. It took him 20 years to realize he’d fucked up big time.

  25. 25
    DHD says:

    I don’t know who first articulated it but I share the belief that any contact we make with intelligent alien life is most likely to end up being like the contact between Europeans and Native Americans. If you can understand French, I think Serge Bouchard said it best: “Les films de science-fiction sont en réalité des minutes du patrimoine”

    On the other hand, given that humans are basically a footnote in geological time, and will probably remain one if current trends continue, it’s much more likely that we are totally alone in the universe.

  26. 26
    David Evans says:

    The space people are always kindly, never mind the examples otherwise we have on earth.

    That was true in the days of Adamski with his tall, fair-haired humans from Venus (when we didn’t know how lethal that planet was) who come to help us. Today we are more likely to hear of short humanoids who abduct us and take samples for their own purposes, often with no concern for our emotional state. I don’t think that’s a wish fulfillment.

  27. 27
    Gin & Tonic says:

    OT, but very interesting analysis of the EU election results in Germany. The far-right AfD is now the strongest political party in the former East German area.

  28. 28

    I was a flying saucer nerd all through elementary and middle school, and still have some old copies of Ray Palmer’s Flying Saucers magazine hanging around. Fun times. When I started to learn about physics and the size of the universe it all became a lot less plausible.
    On a related note, Sherri Tepper’s novel, The Fresco, is a first contact story that would probably appeal to the jackaltariat.

  29. 29
    David Evans says:

    @Major Major Major Major #7: A theme also explored by Greg Bear in The Forge Of God (1987)

  30. 30
    MomSense says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    Maybe CO2 is their oxygen and they’re just scoping out the place waiting for the levels to get so high we all die off and they can move in and use all our stuff.

  31. 31
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @ant: Occams Razor says they were eating a lot of mushrooms then.

  32. 32
    kindness says:

    I have seen things in the night sky that I could not explain through conventional means. A couple times. Satellites that stop and then travel off in a different direction and speed. Things that seem to travel in formation. So I believe we aren’t alone. But they won’t save us. They won’t talk to us until we’ve grown up or we become a threat to them. We’re still children in the scheme of things so we’re on our own.

  33. 33
    David Evans says:

    @Subcommandante Yakbreath: The size of the universe is more or less irrelevant to this question. What is relevant is the likely distance between habitable planets in our stellar neighborhood, which could be as low as 10 light years based on the Kepler data. We are already thinking in some detail about sending probes to that distance, and if they sent back signs of civilization we would surely start to plan how to send larger and more capable probes.
    Tepper is one of my favorite authors too. I must re-read that one.

  34. 34
    chris says:

    I want to believe! But the arithmetic… The fastest human-made object in the galaxy is Voyager 1, currently travelling outside the solar system at about 40,000 mph. A light year is six trillion miles, our galaxy is about 100,000 light years wide and there are billions of galaxies. My brain hurts.

  35. 35
    replicnt6 says:

    I’ve been thinking a lot about an article I read in the late 90’s or early 00’s about the growing popularity of conspiracy theories and UFO sightings in Russia at the time.

  36. 36
    The Pale Scot says:

    The thing about ETs is that the doubters rely on the universe being so big that the distances are unachievable. This isn’t a distance issue, it’s a time issue. I would say that a society advanced enough for just inter-solar travel could also be so advanced in genetics and cybernetics that mortality by aging doesn’t happen. With all that time on their hands they could go where ever they wanted.

    Prime Directive? No civilization has survived contact with a more advanced one.

    And how could they help? The hour after Klaatu steps off the boat the stock markets will have collapsed. What if K gives us fusion tech, the energy industry is kaput. Medicines to cure disease, hell, genetic therapy to eliminate it, medical industry kaput, etc. If they’re around they are watching and waiting to see if we destroy ourselves. If we do they’ll make a note of it and come back in million years or see to what happened. If the answer to the Fermi paradox is that technical civilizations have a tendency to self destruct the few that get past that could have taboos about contacting ones that haven’t. The expectation that entities like the ones I described would have the same inclinations as us is anthropomorphizing them.

    Do we get involved in battles different groups of chimpanzees have? No we take notes and see how it works out. To ETs we’re the ground apes, we just have better tools

  37. 37
    kindness says:

    @chris: They don’t travel that way. Einstein was correct in that mass increases as you approach the speed of light. That would effectively kill any biological cell or transistor chip. The only way to be able to travel those distances and stay within the same timeframe is to warp space into a horseshoe type thing and jump across. We can’t do it but they can. Kind of like Dune without the mumbo jumbo.

  38. 38
    The Pale Scot says:

    International Association of Time Travelers: Members’ Forum
    Subforum: Europe – Twentieth Century – Second World War

    “everybody kills Hitler on their first trip. I did. It always gets fixed within a few minutes, what’s the harm?”

  39. 39
    Mr. Prosser says:

    I agree with Douglas Adams. The first ones we meet will be Vogons and I’ll start worrying when all the dolphins leave.

  40. 40
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    OT: Spend the next 15 seconds or more looking at this pic, you won’t be sorry.

  41. 41

    @David Evans: You’re right, but even local distances are daunting. If a probe can travel at half light speed that’s still 20 years to get there and 10 years to get a signal back. Having said that, we’ve sent stuff to the outer planets that have taken over a decade to get there, so my argument pretty much falls apart. : )

  42. 42
    The Moar You Know says:

    The aliens will come here to eat us as a rare delicacy, if we’re lucky.

  43. 43

    From the liner notes to Stop Making Sense

    Space People read our mail. The Space People think that TV news programs are comedies, and that soap operas are news. The Space People will contact us when they can make money by doing so. The Space People think factories are musical instruments. They sing along with them. Each song lasts from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. No music on weekends.

  44. 44
    low-tech cyclist says:

    Now I’ve got The Byrds’ “Mr. Spaceman” and Bowie’s “Starman” fighting it out in my head.

    But seriously, space is really, really big. It’s 26 trillion miles to the nearest star, and there’s no guarantee that any of the nearby stars have planets that support any sort of life. Nobody’s going to come from outer space to either destroy us or solve our problems. We’re on our own.

  45. 45
    low-tech cyclist says:

    @The Pale Scot: “Kill Hitler”

  46. 46
    The Moar You Know says:

    If we extrapolate from our own Earth-bound situation, the hordes of visiting/attacking/hungry alien beings from other planets will be led by their planet’s equivalents of Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos. That is truly horrifying.


    ALIENS: “Hi, we’re entrepreneurs and we’re here to invest! What’s profitable here?”

    ME: We’re a bunch of stupid, violent primates, so I’d go with guns, pron, liquor and bullshit. You guys ever hear of Fox News?

  47. 47
    Miss Bianca says:

    So, speaking of the uncanny…

    Stopped by a neighbor’s house after rehearsal last night. She was chatting to me about how much her daughter had loved theater, how smart and talented she was, and I stepped in it by asking, “what is she up to now?”

    Well, nothing, as it turned out – her daughter had died twenty years ago in a car accident. I was, of course, feeling like A Idiot, but she was very sweet about it. Then she asked my friend D, who was also there, whether he had a floppy drive. Seems that shortly after her daughter’s death, my neighbor said, her computer started flipping out – she kept hearing strings of beeps and boops coming from it. Finally, she recorded a fragment of it and put it on a floppy – but her old computer had died years ago, and she now had no way of listening to it, let alone analyzing it.

    Well, long story short, she and her husband came up to the house, because of course D *does* have a floppy drive still set up. So we listened to it – a couple of short beep boops, then a pause, then another, longer string of beep boops. “Sounds like Morse code,” says I.

    Well, a quick trip to Wikipedia to grab the Morse code alphabet, and then running the string thru’ the Audacity program so that we could figure out what might be a dot and what might be a dash – for the string of sounds went by so fast that none of us Morse newbies could have analyzed it otherwise – we got the following:

    I A ——————– YOU TIFFANY.

    Need I mention that Tiffany was, in fact, the girl’s name?

    Tiffany’s mom seemed pretty convinced that this was an “I love you” message from beyond the grave. And who the hell am I to say otherwise? Jeez, I’m doing “Hamlet”, after all – and Hamlet famously said to his best friend, after communicating with the ghost of his father, “There are more things in Heaven and on Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

    That’s all the news from Mt Woebegon.

  48. 48

    I have immersed myself in Indian media over the last two weeks trying to understand the election results, what strikes me is the cluelessness of the leftier than thou peeps like Arundhati Roy and their blindness to their own caste privilege. She has a piece out where she has blamed the Dalit and Bahujan activists for their shortsightedness and wait for it, drum roll please, identity politics.
    Dalit – Downtrodden, what the untouchable castes call themselves
    Bahujan – Common (castes that are lower on the totem pole but not untouchable)

    ETA: This when the biggest news apart from the elections in Mumbai is about the suicide of Payal Tadvi, an ob-gyn resident at the Nair hospital, who was continuously taunted and bullied by 3 female third year students because she belonged to a tribal community.

  49. 49
  50. 50
    Doug R says:

    With at least 100,000,000,000 and possibly 400,000,000,000 stars in our galaxy and possibly 1,200,000,000,000 GALAXIES in the observable universe. With about 1 in 4 stars near us having planets so on average 1 planet per star, there is FOR SURE life somewhere else in the universe.
    However, with our nearest neighbor just over 4 light years away, and with us on a spiral arm in the middle of nowhere and very probably NO WAY to travel faster than light, we just can’t talk to each other.
    Not that maybe a probe or two has visited us:

  51. 51
    Miss Bianca says:

    @schrodingers_cat: She is doing very well – almost domesticated, in fact! Sleeps on the bed and takes up the whole damn thing.

    Sorry to hear the latest news from India. : (

  52. 52
    Doug R says:

    @Al Z.:

    Then there’s the hypothesis that UFOs are time machines from our future. That might explain the uptick during times of conflict.

    Stephen Hawking used to joke he knew there was no time travel because Earth hasn’t been overrun with time tourists.

  53. 53
    Chacal Charles Calthrop says:

    my favorite explanation for why aliens haven’t contacted us is the one in the (otherwise worthless) movie Jupiter Ascending that Earth is tied up in interstellar probate court and since no-one has the right to deal with estate property in any way until the court decides, no-one can contact earth. Bit of a lawyer’s joke, but still…

    if we have been visited by aliens, it must be via simulacrum or hologram or something similar, because how could they visit without ever leaving any trash? Our plastic bags have gotten themselves into ocean trenches we ourselves can’t get to. If aliens have actually been here how have they managed to not leave behind so much as a candy wrapper in millions of years? I don’t care how many lights anyone sees in the sky, the complete absence of any space junk is the best evidence we’ve never met any aliens.

  54. 54
    Brachiator says:

    Wouldn’t it be nice if kindly space people suddenly appeared to lead us out of this mess we’ve gotten ourselves into?

    To Serve Man…

  55. 55
    mrmoshpotato says:

    @Brachiator: My vote for aliens screwing with us is The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street.

  56. 56
    Doug R says:

    Close Encounters Of The Third Kind is on Netflix in 4K, BTW.
    Apollo 11, the documentary of our first landing on the moon is available on demand. The NASA dug up some 70mm footage from the vaults and the filmmaker matched up NASA’s 30 track sound recording to a lot of the footage. Apparently CNN will show it in June. No 4K disc released so far, though.

  57. 57
    Gelfling 545 says:

    I see no reason to believe that any extraterrestrials would be any better, morally or ethically, than we are. If they exist, lack of contact could mean they don’t see anything in it for them. Deep space conservatives.

  58. 58
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Doug R:
    It might have been Hawking’s amused observation; but he was not the only one or the first to make that point, and I think it is a quite serious point.

  59. 59
    Ella in New Mexico says:

    @Doug R: OMG you beat me to it with that Oumuamua article. I think Avi Loeb is probably offering one of the most likely explanations for UFO’s: they’re data-gathering AI devices sent by life forms too far away to come in person, likely way long ago in history. No “living” creatures likely driving them, just computers. Think Voyager, Cassini-Huygens, and Viking, not Apollo.

    I used to (ok, I admit I still do sometimes ;-D ) make fun of people who were into UFO stuff. But hey, look where I live. I’ve visited Roswell and Corona, and Socorro. My hubby actually worked with a guy who was claimed as a witness to the Socorro incident.

    But seriously, I’ve lived with a government R&D techy guy for 37 years who IS into a scientific, rational examination of what the hell these things are, and who who works in a field that has made it possible for him to confirm: whatever they are, SOME are real, they’re NOT reflections or other countries super-secret military vehicles. I’m sworn to secrecy (and actually don’t know the details) about a couple of incidents his crew has experienced but lets just say they’re on par with that video released a while back with the incredibly agile and unidentifiable white UFO filmed by Navy Pilots.

    All I can do is keep an open mind and remember that for every great thing the scientific method has debunked, it has sat on a cure or a piece of truth we’ve later found out to be life and/or civilization altering.


  60. 60
    Kristine says:

    @The Pale Scot:

    The thing about ETs is that the doubters rely on the universe being so big that the distances are unachievable. This isn’t a distance issue, it’s a time issue. I would say that a society advanced enough for just inter-solar travel could also be so advanced in genetics and cybernetics that mortality by aging doesn’t happen. With all that time on their hands they could go where ever they wanted.

    Fellow Book View Café member Linda Nagata has a new release entitled Edges in which the process of long-term space travel includes both intermittent and long-term suspension. I was a beta reader–it’s a good book, the first in a new series.

  61. 61
    dopey-o says:

    @Major Major Major Major: Faster Than Light travel is not impossible. If these advanced travellers use gravitational-based propulsion, they need not acheive a speed of 186,000 miles per second. Meaning they need not expend infinite energy. They simply need to compress time and space enough to lower the energy requirements to a level managable by their technology and energy resources.

    This is simply one possible explanation. If there is an ultimate (and correct) explanation, it is probably so far beyond our ken as to be mind-stoppingly unimaginable.

    That being said, the truth is that there are no UFOs / aliens / space brothers. I wish there were. But our globe possesses billions of smart phones, and if I saw a UFO, i would open up my phone and capture a HD video. Multiply that by a billion humans with smart phones, and ask yourself where all those videos are.

    Unfortunately, as far as ‘intelligent’ life in the universe goes, we’re probably it. And we ain’t all that smart.

  62. 62
    Brachiator says:


    And I would think a lifeform intelligent enough to be here also is intelligent enough to hide its presence…

    Which begs the question of why they would bother to hide their presence.

  63. 63
    Ella in New Mexico says:


    But our globe possesses billions of smart phones, and if I saw a UFO, i would open up my phone and capture a HD video. Multiply that by a billion humans with smart phones, and ask yourself where all those videos are.

    Uhhh, no offense but the videos are EVERYWHERE. They’re ubiquitous. Unless you’ve been living under some kinda rock…

    Of course, many are totally explainable phenomenon. Or outright hoaxes. But even the military and DoD grudgingly admit that they have no explanation for others.

  64. 64
    Kristine says:

    If they were sufficiently alien, would we even realize that they were here? All that we perceive is not all there is.

  65. 65
    Ella in New Mexico says:


    Which begs the question of why they would bother to hide their presence.

    It also begs the question of how many may actually NOT be perceptible us. Either by the nature of the civilization’s science, size, or even molecular composition. By accident or on purpose.

    Seriously, looking at our own planet’s diversity of intelligent life, from humans to whales to elephants to octopuses how do we get off thinking we have a clue hoe other civilizations evolved or it’s members take form?

  66. 66
    Bard the Grim says:

    @Ella in New Mexico:

    the scientific method …. has sat on a cure or a piece of truth we’ve later found out to be life and/or civilization altering.

    Examples, please.

  67. 67
    piratedan says:

    multiple issues that have their own unique resolution in various forms of space opera…

    travel is conquered by multiple methods… say transit bands that allow near as fast as light speeds, (call them space rivers if you wish) that allow for “local” movement within areas of the spiral arms and also “wormholes” or “bridges” that act as canals that link areas where there are rivers…that move even faster to as allow a transition from one area of space to another.

    Also, time being an issue, other authors have speculated about finding a chemical means to spur human hibernation, indicating if there are seasonal changes to one metabolism (say like bears) than an equivalence can be found in humans to form a near suspension of the metabolism of the body.

    ymmv, for most authors it’s a matter of conquering the math/physicis as we learn more about how the universe works and how the math works within it, humans are tool users and tool makers, as such, its simply another problem to be solved…. and as such, we’re still learning.

  68. 68
    Ella in New Mexico says:

    My past two comments are in moderation because WP doesn’t save our Nyms/emails indefinitely and I have an aging iPad that dropped a letter in my email that my equally aging eyeballs missed.

    Argle fricken bargle 😡

  69. 69
    KSinMA says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Beautiful!

  70. 70
    Ella in New Mexico says:

    @Bard the Grim: Modern example: Multiple alternative and complementary treatments for illness, currently medicinal marijuana.
    Historical examples: handwashing between patients prevents disease. Everything Galileo was imprisoned for.

  71. 71
    Ryan says:

    Nah, we’re through the looking glass and off the map!

    (Zefram Cochrine shoots first Vulcan upon landing, from Enterprise)

  72. 72
    The Pale Scot says:

    @low-tech cyclist:
    Somewhere on the interwebs is the complete “International Association of Time Travelers: Members’ Forum Subforum”. It devolves to the leaders/moderators breaking down and screaming Stop Killing Hitler for Fucks Sake, you’re screwing everything up

    @Kristine: Thanks for the book rec. I think it’s more likely that if FTL ain’t and that my idea of non-kinetic (bullets don’t care) immortals is real, the ETs will have huge city ships plying ever outwards to new vistas. Using Quantum Entanglement they could even communicate with each other about what they found.

    The meme I like is the Ousters from Dan Simmons’ HYPERION CANTOS;

    The Ousters are a human society and and genetically related group consisting of a myriad different cultures spread over much of our arm of our galaxy, preferring to explore and colonize the outer edges of human space. They are genetically unique in that they have undergone advanced genetic self-manipulation in order to attain increasing levels of adaptation to life in space, from low-gravity environments to the vacuum of space.

    Sophonts of all shapes and abilities, traveling between the stars. In the book that is because they are avoiding the TechnoCore, the AI that rules over humanity on planets. But that seems to me a likely future for high tech societies

    The Cantos is long and sort of confusing, now that I could look shit up on the internet it would tie together better. I highly recommend it. There’s a scene where a Jesuit that has been infected with a parasitic device created by the Core that causes resurrection. The Jesuit impales himself on a “Telsa Tree”, they protect themselves by generating lightning bolts to kill the other non Telsa Tree plants. The guy hangs there for decades trying to kill parasite and avoid resurrection by being hammered by lighting bolts until he found by others.

  73. 73
    The Pale Scot says:


    if I saw a UFO, i would open up my phone and capture a HD video.

    Of a dot of light or something that is jerky and has no reference objects near by. I had a friend that had video of private jets taking off at the end of the runway at a local airport. Once they’re above 1000 ft, it’s just lights and fuzzy motion

    Edit: We were learning Lightwave and trying to create motion algorithms for waving grass, hair and trees, they are are a bitch to model

  74. 74
    Mart says:

    @Ella in New Mexico: As AI evolved in my lifetime, it has ruined sci fi alien life form stories for me. If we have been / ever are visited; it will be a machine, not a life form. Star Wars with the Force beating computerized targeting is ridiculus.

  75. 75
    wasabi gasp says:

    We are Jesus host. They’re fucking coming.

  76. 76
    Bard the Grim says:

    @Ella in New Mexico:
    OK. But your original, perhaps sloppy, wording (“it” = “scientific method” “has sat on a cure…”) falsely blamed science for hiding something. In your two examples, the guilty parties were drug warriors and the Church. One must use words to say what you mean–Steve in the ATL would back me up on this. ;)

  77. 77
    Ella in New Mexico says:

    @Bard the Grim: you’re correct. I jumped through a thought, not finishing it and thus making my words not mean what I intended. I’ll blame it on fighting to post using my shitty electronic interface device. ;-)

  78. 78
    Ten Bears says:

    Whither or no they’re good guys or bad guys, out there or no, I find it far the more likely thousands upon thousands of cavernous spacecraft, vast slaughter-houses piloted by ravenous vaguely reptilian creatures, replete with horns and folked tail, intent not as benevolent overseers of the demise of this world and our current iteration in human evolution and our children’s evolution onto the next iteration of humanity but as ravenous reptilian creatures… you know, hungry lizards.

    We did, afterall, invite them to “Come Eat!”

  79. 79
    J R in WV says:

    OK, had to make a trip into town to pick up new glasses, one pair of which was sent back to be reground as the local opticians decided it wasn’t right the first time, plus prescriptions.

    Now I’m ready to comment regarding strange flying things.

    I was a newly assigned 19-y-o seaman on a ship resident at a Navy base in Key West, so new I was still assigned to the mess deck, where I worked my way up to vegetable prep work in the galley, after starting as a dish washer. One night a shipmate and I went to the EM club, and then back to the ship. It was a beautiful night and so we went up to the top deck to star gaze a little.

    We were facing south, laying on a stack of life jackets we pulled out, as the steel deck was remarkably hard, I was facing SSW and Dave was SSE. Dave made a noise, and I looked to my left. I saw 3 bright objects in a triangle formation. They were in the SE quadrant of the sky, heading due north, and going fast. They glowed bright white, and the brightness shifted around on them, like the brightness glowing and crawling around in an old fluorescent tube.

    We both jumped to our feet and watched the formation pass over just east of us, and then they disappeared not far north of us. They were in sight probably only 15 seconds, time to make noises, jump up, look hard, gone. It was pretty scary, and we went way below almost by instinct, wanting as muck steel between us and the sky as possible.

    The next morning Dave wouldn’t talk about it, I think he wanted to pretend it never happened. We were on the ship together for my whole hitch and he never did talk about it, ever. I think no one else saw it, or if they did, no one spoke of it to anyone else. They didn’t seem to be reflections or refractions, the night was crystal clear, there was lots of moon out as well.

    At the time there was a pretty big military presence on Key West, Army missile bases to defend us from the Cuban military, the scariest thing in the area! There was then and still is a Naval Air Base an island or two up the A1A highway towards the mainland. The flying objects(?) were shaped like a stylized glowing dove, with no straight lines at all.

    Since I have no idea how high they were, I have no idea how fast they were, but they covered half the visible sky in a matter of a few seconds. No sounds. This would have been in the winter of 1970-71.

    Some 10 or 12 years later, so around 1980 we (wife and neighbor, we were back in WV long ago by then) went to a nearby farm to look at some Swiss Brown cattle, which were up on a ridge behind the hollow where te farm house sat. The farmer was probably in his 50s or early 60s, and once sundown was underway, he was ready to get down off his ridge.

    As we walked down he told us that 10 years or so before his daughter had gone to visit a friend up the road, and he expected her home. When she didn’t show as expected, he called, and learned she had left some half hour or so ago, to drive 10 minutes to get home. So he jumped into his truck, thinking she had a flat or something like that.

    When he got to her car, it was stopped in the middle of the road, When he went up to it, she was hysterical, something had come down to the road and killed her car. It stopped, no lights, nothing. So he helped her out and into the truck, he turned around and headed home, and in just a few moments it happened again to his truck. After a while, he was able to start the truck, they drove home with no more strange events.

    And 10 years later this local farmer didn’t like to be out in the dark. At all.

    I was only witness to the first event, but it was around the same time as the farmer’s story happened, though a thousand miles south. Or a few minutes flight? IIRC there were several similar sightings around this area back then… Ol’ Farmer wasn’t reluctant to talk about it, neither am I.

    Will add, having read the comments: No, you wouldn’t have whipped out your smart phone to make a video. You would have been totally overcome with startled, awed, astonished, staring like a fool — or perhaps scared shitless if your car was dead out in the country dark. No one would. Ol’ farmer was too scared to do shit! So was his daughter.

    Their apparition was lots closer than mine, I was more startled and shocked than scared, but pictures/video was the farthest thing from my mind. And after the shock wore off we were both scared, and scampered below decks.

  80. 80
    Mnemosyne says:


    Author David Skal says that he once had a strange aircraft hover over him and then fly away when he was walking late at night in Colorado. But it had a feature that made him realize that it was an experimental aircraft, not a UFO: red and green landing lights clearly visible on the bottom of the aircraft.

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