The term UFO (Unidentified Flying Object) has become synonymous with extraterrestrial beings, and the phenomenon goes way back in human history. Long before humans took to the air, first in lighter than air balloons and then with the Wright brothers’ controlled and powered flight, people had reported strange and unexplained objects in the sky. Ancient civilizations and even biblical accounts have stories of UFOs coming down to earth. Some accounts talk about ‘angels’ coming from above. Were these angels actually extra-terrestrial beings? Did they come with advice on how to survive human adolescence? Did they have harmful intentions? Were they merely observers documenting another world and its wide variety of life? Or are all these questions merely imaginative speculations of the human mind and all UFOs have a terrestrial explanation?
The fact that UFOs exist is not in debate. Highly credible people from police officers to astronauts have reported seeing them. Some have been visible to entire crowds of people. Yet scattered among the legitimate sightings are a litany of fakes that tend to diminish the legitimacy of the rest. But excluding the proven faked sightings and those with earthly explanations, there remains a solid core of the unexplained.
It should be noted that ‘unexplained’ does not automatically translate into objects and life forms of extra-terrestrial origin. Furthermore, extra-terrestrials that could make it to earth from another star system would have to possess technical capabilities well beyond our own. If their intentions were hostile, there is very little we could do to combat them. Despite the Hollywood outcomes, the fact is we could not win a conflict with beings that are that advanced.
Yet if their intent was hostile, there are numerous ways they could create havoc without ever being known. This could be accomplished with introduced pathogens, weather modification, and other techniques that might require centuries of time to complete. We tend to think in very short-term chunks of time, but aliens that might have vastly longer lifespans would be a lot more patient in carrying out their agenda.
If one thinks about the descriptions of aliens by those who claim to have actually seen them, they have some characteristics in common. They are generally small and slightly built, sometimes with no or a very small mouth opening, and almost always with very large eyes. Interestingly these characteristics have not been contradicted by astronomical discoveries.
The vast majority of stars, even in our immediate cosmic neighborhood, are invisible to the naked eye. Only through telescopes do these small stars, called red dwarfs, become visible. These small stars give off far less visible light than our sun and much of their radiation is in the invisible infrared region of the electromagnetic spectrum. Planets circling these small stars would receive much less visible light than does the earth. In order for beings that might have evolved there to see, they would have to have light sensitive organs (eyes) that are much larger. Thus the descriptions of aliens by those who have claimed to see them with large and bulging eyes fits the science of how those beings might have adapted to their meager light source. The existence of much of a red dwarf’s energy output in the infrared part of the electromagnetic spectrum might also have enabled these beings to have developed other types of organs that are sensitive to infrared radiation. Certain types of snakes on earth have the sensing capacity to ‘see’ the shape of their prey in total darkness by the detecting heat that the animal gives off, which is essentially infrared radiation.
Because red dwarf stars are low mass, an orbiting planet in the ‘habitable zone’ would have to be quite close to the star. Tidal braking would slow the rotation of the planet until just one side would face the star at all times, just as one side of the moon faces the earth. Skeptics point out that these planets would be boiling hot on one side and freezing cold on the other, and therefore not conducive to supporting life, though concede there might be a very narrow band of moderate temperatures between the two extremes. However, this analysis assumes the planets are solitary. A small planet with a very large moon or two similarly sized planets in orbit around each other would create a rotational effect that would mimic the day-night cycle of a lone planet, as would a habitable moon circling a much larger planet.
Within our own galaxy there are billions of red dwarf stars that are vastly older than earth and with lifespans that will extend far beyond our sun’s life. Therefore planets that revolve around these stars and the life that may exist on them may have had much longer to evolve intelligent beings. So the question of the existence of ETs should not be discarded as science fiction. There is no scientific reason to preclude their presence on earth right now and yet we may never know.
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