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Forbidden Science: Take an Inside Look at the World of Ufology via the Journals of Jacques Vallee

Jacques Vallee

Daily Grail Publishing has been privileged to publish reprints of two seminal books on UFOs by the great Jacques Vallee, Messengers of Deception and Passport to Magonia. Equally important, in my opinion, but often overlooked, are Jacques' more recent memoirs, Forbidden Science, published in three volumes.

With Jacques playing a central role in ufology since the 1960s, these books chart much of the history of ufology between 1960 and 1990 - anybody interested in the topic really should consider these required reading. So I was happy to find out that, while Jacques originally self-published Forbidden Science in a slightly expensive hardcover format, the good folks at Anomalist Books have recently re-released the three volumes in more affordable paperback editions:

Forbidden Science 1: A Passion for Discovery (1957-1969):

Beginning after the launch of Sputnik and ending with the landing on the moon, the first volume of Jacques Vallee’s journals details how UFOs, in the midst of a proliferation of sightings in the 1960s, became a forbidden science. In this beautifully written journal, Vallee reveals just how the scientific community was misled by the government, how the best data on UFOs was kept hidden, and how the public record was shamelessly manipulated.

Forbidden Science 2: California Hermetica (1970-1979):

With the end game in Vietnam and the turpitudes of Watergate in the background, the major topic of this second volume in the journals of Jacques Vallee is paranormal research. Vallee relates his behind-the-scenes experiences in California during the 1970s as the Human Potential Movement emerged, the Internet developed, and parapsychology secretly entered the physics laboratory. And all the while, as Vallee continued his examination of UFO encounters, the links to older mysteries became increasingly clear.

Forbidden Science 3: On the Trail of Hidden Truths (1980-1989):

The 1980s were a pivotal time in the development of venture capital that led to great innovations throughout the world. As recounted in this third volume of journals, Jacques Vallee found his passion in this world, while he witnessed with concern the increasing manipulation and disinformation that discouraged rational research into ufology. But he persisted in his first-hand UFO investigations in the US, Europe, and South America, and here strips from the historical record the secrecy behind which research into the paranormal was being conducted.

Links above will take you to each book's respective page at Anomalist Books with more information, and links for ordering from Amazon.

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Astronomer Royal: Advanced Extraterrestrial Civilisations Will Be Post-Biological

Cylon

People sometimes joke about the horror of being trapped in a room with an older person, listening to them ramble on about various topics. If that person was Martin Rees, British Astronomer Royal, I wouldn't complain at all. The 75-year-old recently sat down with Edge, and over the course of an hour rambled on about all manner of fascinating topics, including advanced aliens, the nature of reality, the dangers of advances in science, climate change, AI, and interplanetary travel.

In the discussion ("Curtains For Us All? A Conversation With Martin Rees", both video and transcript available), Rees contemplated the long process of biological evolution, as compared to the rapid advances made once humans became a technological civilisation, and extrapolated to what that might mean for any advanced alien species that might be out there:

If we think of what's happened on Earth, there's been 4 billion years of evolution. And for a few millennia, there's been some kind of civilization—organized human groups—leading eventually to technology and the world we live in today. If we extrapolate, then of course the extrapolation we get depends on whether we listen to someone like Ray Kurzweil or someone more conservative.

Even though the rate of progress is uncertain, the direction of travel is pretty well agreed. It's almost certainly going to be towards a posthuman world, where our intelligences would be surpassed by something genetically engineered from us or, more likely, it will be some sort of artificial electronic device that has robotic abilities and intelligence.

Some people say that will happen within a century, others say it will happen within a few hundred years. Even if it takes a few hundred years, that is a tiny instant compared to the past history of the Earth. More importantly, it's a tiny instant compared to a long-range future. There are billions of years ahead for our solar system, and maybe even more for the universe.

If you imagine a time chart for what's happened on the Earth, there's been 4 billion years where there's been no manifestation of any technology. Then, a few millennia of gradually expanding technology generated by human beings. After that, maybe there will be billions of years more when the dominant technology, the dominant non-natural things, will be entirely inorganic. That means the following: If we were to detect some other planet on which life had taken a course similar to what happened here on Earth, it's unlikely that its development there would be sufficiently synchronized with development here that we would catch it in those few millennia in which we've got technology that is controlled by organic beings like us. If it's lagging behind what's happened on Earth, then we'll see no evidence for anything artificial.

On the other hand, if it's ahead, then what we will detect—if we detect any evidence that that civilization existed—will be something mechanical, machines. Those machines maybe will not be on the planet because they may not want gravity, they may not want water, et cetera. They may be in space. If the Yuri Milner program detects anything, then it's likely to be some artifact created by some long-dead civilization. It's unlikely that there would be any coded message intended for us, but it might be something we could clearly see was not something that emerged naturally. That in itself would be very exciting.

Well worth a watch/read!

Link: "Curtains For Us All? A Conversation With Martin Rees"

Are Pulsars Actually Navigation Beacons Used as a 'Galactic Positioning System' by Aliens?

Are Pulsars Navigational Beacons for Aliens?

In 1967 researchers Jocelyn Bell Burnell and Antony Hewish discovered an astronomical anomaly: radio-wave pulses that repeated every 1.33 seconds, originating from the same location in the sky. While they "did not really believe that we had picked up signals from another civilization", they did admit to considering the possibility, given the signals were unlike anything ever detected before - so much so that they named the signal LGM-1, a tongue-in-cheek acronym for "little green men".

When more pulsating sources were later discovered, and an entirely natural "lighthouse model" explaining the anomaly as a rotating neutron star was put forward, the 'extraterrestrial civilisation' explanation was well and truly left behind.

However, Belgian researcher Clément Vidal believes that the reasons for dismissing the ET hypothesis were not necessarily entirely valid, and perhaps the idea should be revisited. In a paper titled "Pulsar positioning system: A quest for evidence of extraterrestrial engineering", he runs through various elements of how pulsars could be used as navigational beacons, similar to how in recent decades GPS has become ubiquitous for our own navigation, and what that means for both SETI-related questions, as well as our own future in space, both in terms of navigation and communication:

X-ray pulsar-based navigation (XNAV) is comparable to GPS, except it operates on a galactic scale. I propose a SETI-XNAV research program, to test the hypothesis that this pulsar positioning system might be an instance of galactic-scale engineering by extraterrestrial beings. The paper starts with a critique of the rejection of the extraterrestrial hypothesis when pulsars were first discovered, continues with some highlights on the rich pulsar phenomenology, and their usefulness for various purposes. The core section proposes lines of inquiry for SETI-XNAV, related to: the pulsar distribution and power in the galaxy, their population, their evolution, possible pulse synchronizations, pulsar usability when navigating near the speed of light, decoding galactic coordinates, directed panspermia, and information content in pulses. Even if pulsars are natural, they are likely to be used as standards by ETIs in the galaxy. Such a common galactic timing and positioning standard have deep consequences for SETI and METI. I discuss potential policy issues, as well as benefits for humanity, whether the research program succeeds or not.

Vidal notes that while "normal” pulsars have a pulse period of 0.5 second on average, a small subset (around 10% of all pulsars) have a period between 1.4ms and 30 ms (known as "millisecond X-ray pulsars" (MSPs). This latter, short wavelength pulsar type is an ideal candidate for using as a 'galactic positioning system', as not only are they detectable with small, low-cost equipment (as opposed to a 20+ metre radio dish for normal pulsars), but they offer unbelievable accuracy relative to galactic distances: "a probe or seed could go anywhere in the galaxy, with an accuracy of 100m!"

Vidal also notes that MSPs distribution in space "is isotropic, while normal pulsars are more concentrated in the galactic plane". He asks what is the likelihood for this to happen naturally, and whether this distribution spread is possibly another indication of the involvement of alien engineers.

To sum up, this paper draws two major conclusions, one to be expected, the other uncertain. First, all pulsars could be perfectly natural, but we can reasonably expect that civilizations in the galaxy will use them as standards (section 6). By studying and using XNAV, we are also getting potentially ready to receive and send messages to extraterrestrial intelligence in a galactically meaningful way. From now on, we might be able to decipher a first level of timing and positioning metadata in any galactic communication.

Second, what remains uncertain is whether the pulsar positioning system is natural or artificial. We put forward the SETI-XNAV quest to answer this issue. It draws on pulsar astronomy, and navigation and
positioning science to make SETI predictions. This concrete project is grounded in a universal problem and need: navigation. Decades of pulsar empirical data is available, and I have proposed 9 lines of inquiry to start the endeavor (section 5). These include predictions regarding the spatial and power distribution of pulsars in the galaxy, their population, their evolutionary tracks, possible synchronization between pulsars, testing the navigability near the speed of light, decoding galactic coordinates, testing various directed panspermia hypotheses, as well as decoding metadata or more information in pulsar’s pulses.

To critics of the proposal that pulsars might be navigation beacons, Vidal asks them to imagine that we found strange time-keeping devices well-distributed around Mars, beaming information that could easily be used as a 'Mars Positioning System'. "Wouldn’t we be compelled," he asks, "to explore the hypothesis that extraterrestrial intelligence is at play? This is exactly the current situation with millisecond pulsars, but on a galactic scale."

And in any case, he notes, even if pulsars are entirely natural, they might still be used as navigation beacons by one species at least: us. With numerous scientific missions proposed to send probes not only throughout our solar system, but also beyond - such as Russian billionaire Yuri Milner's 'Breakthrough Starshot" quest to send a probe to Alpha Centauri - precise space navigation is an important topic for the new epoch of space travel. And pulsars, he notes, "are currently the best option to navigate the solar system and the galaxy with high accuracy", and so the topic is definitely worthy of further research.

(h/t Norman)

Close Encounters of the Third Kind in 2017

Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Sony Pictures has released a cryptic new teaser video that is in some way related to the 1977 Steven Spielberg UFO classic Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Titled simply "This Means Something" - a reference to words spoken in the movie by Roy Neary (Richard Dreyfuss) - the video is mostly air traffic control graphics overlaid with audio of an encounter with a UFO. Interspersed amongst this are flashes of screen grabs from the 1977 film, including the iconic child at the door scene, the vehicle breaking down at the train line scene, and the alien reveal at the end of the movie:

Close encounter with a child

Close Encounters of the Third Kind of course is well known to Grailers as one of the all-time great UFO-related movies - named after a designation by UFO investigator J. Allen Hynek, and featuring a character modeled closely on our good friend, the legendary Jacques Vallee.

What does the teaser mean? Is a sequel to the ground-breaking film in the works, or even a reboot? Or is it just an upcoming re-release to celebrate the film's 40th birthday? The latter seems most likely, but there has already been a fantastic Blu-Ray release of CEIII - in 2007, on the 30th anniversary, so would there be any point to another release?

For now, the teaser video just directs viewers to a website, wearestillnotalone.com, which at the moment is simply a place where you can enter your email address for "Updates on UFO sightings".

Update: The trailer is said to be promotion for a theatrical re-release in the first week of September to celebrate the 40th anniversary.

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Investigating the Nazca 'Alien' Mummy

A new video (embedded above) from Gaia.com - showing a strangely deformed ancient mummy from Nazca, Peru - has gone viral over the past week, with over a million and a half views on YouTube, and over 20 mllion views on Facebook. The video is part of a 'Special Report' at Gaia.com titled "Unearthing Nazca", some of which is freely viewable, while other parts are restricted to members of the site.

While it's an exciting idea to speculate, as the video does, on whether this mummy is a 'non-human species', as always with cases like this, there's a lot to be skeptical about. The Black Vault has a detailed discussion on some of the causes for concern, but in short:

  • Key players in the 'expedition' have questionable reputations - most notably Mexican 'ufologist' Jaime Maussan - a 21st century P.T. Barnum involved in numerous 'weird corpse' PR stunts, from the Roswell Slides debacle from a couple of years ago to the Metepec creature hoax.
  • The strange elongated skull of the mummy is actually a reasonably common body modification practiced by the local ancient culture.
  • There are known 'fake mummies' already in circulation in South America.
  • There are numerous suggestions of this being an actual ancient mummy that has been recently modified, from the white plaster-like covering through to the long 3-fingered hands.

While the Gaia people are certainly circumspect in their approach to this investigation - not making any great claims, and confirming they will follow the evidence where it leads - there really is no excuse for having the likes of Maussan closely involved. Hopefully the scientific investigation is properly handled, by experts, rather than done through an in-house crew - and the results openly published, rather than announced to paid subscribers like a circus sideshow (roll up, roll up!).

And, remembering that this is likely a human body, we should be very careful to not turn it into a freak show for the sake of click-throughs and Fortean fascination.

Here's another skeptical take discussing problems with this 'alien mummy':

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Elon Musk is Accumulating Assets Purely to Fund His Dream of Making Humans a Multi-Planetary Species

Martian city

Last year we reported on Elon Musk's grand dream of making humans a multiplanetary species, which he detailed in a speech to the space industry at the 67th International Astronautical Congress in September 2016.

Musk's speech - in which he laid out a plan to create a city on Mars - has now been published as a white paper, "Making Humans a Multi-Planetary Species", available freely online (until July 5). In it, the SpaceX and Tesla billionaire makes clear that colonizing Mars truly is his grand dream, stating that...

...the main reason I am personally accumulating assets is in order to fund this. I really do not have any other motivation for personally accumulating assets except to be able to make the biggest contribution I can to making life multi-planetary.

As I mentioned in last year's story, it certainly is a case of 'dreaming big', and will surely be criticized by more pragmatic and skeptical space industry experts. But I also see echoes in it of JFK's statement in the early 1960s about landing on the Moon before the decade was out, and is perhaps a necessary tonic for breaking out of the limited, 'safe' thinking that has crept into space exploration since the 1970s.

Musk's vision is based on what he sees as a likely 'bifurcation' in the future path of humanity, depending on the decision we make on space colonization - one of which (staying on Earth) will likely end in our extinction.

One path is we stay on Earth forever, and then there will be some eventual extinction event. I do not have an immediate doomsday prophecy, but eventually, history suggests, there will be some doomsday event. The alternative is to become a space-bearing civilization and a multi-planetary species, which I hope you would agree is the right way to go.

His choice of Mars as the destination is based on a number of reasons:

To give some comparison between the two planets, they are remarkably close in many ways. In fact, we now believe that early Mars was a lot like Earth. In effect, if we could warm Mars up, we would once again have a thick atmosphere and liquid oceans.

Mars is about half as far again from the sun as Earth is, so it still has decent sunlight. It is a little cold, but we can warm it up. It has a very helpful atmosphere, which, being primarily CO2 with some nitrogen and argon and a few other trace elements, means that we can grow plants on Mars just by compressing the atmosphere.

It would be quite fun to be on Mars because you would have gravity that is about 37% of that of Earth, so you would be able to lift heavy things and bound around. Furthermore, the day is remarkably close to that of Earth. We just need to change the populations because currently we have seven billion people on Earth and none on Mars.

There may be a bit of glossing over of details, or perhaps simply naivety, in saying "it would be quite fun to be on Mars because you would have gravity that is about 37% of that of Earth". Along with the ability to leap a long way comes a bunch of other complications in the way the human body - optimised for living in very specific conditions on Earth - would function (or more correctly, struggle to function).

Another rather large issue in colonizing Mars in any sort of numbers is the price. Up till now, Musk figures, the cost of putting people on Mars would be around $10 billion per person. To achieve his dream, the cost needs to be closer to $200,000 per person:

Not everyone would want to go. In fact, probably a relatively small number of people from Earth would want to go, but enough would want to go who could afford it for it to happen. [But] it's a bit tricky because we have to figure out how to improve the cost of trips to Mars by five million percent. This translates to an improvement of approximately four-and-a-half orders of magnitude. This is not easy. It sounds virtually impossible, but there are ways to do it

The threshold for a self-sustaining city on Mars or a civilization would be a million people. If you can only go every 2 years and if you have 100 people per ship, that is 10,000 trips. Therefore, at least 100 people per trip is the right order of magnitude, and we may end up expanding the crew section and ultimately taking more like 200 or more people per flight in order to reduce the cost per person.

However, 10,000 flights is a lot of flights, so ultimately you would really want in the order of 1,000 ships. It would take a while to build up to 1,000 ships. How long it would take to reach that million-person threshold, from the point at which the first ship goes to Mars would probably be somewhere between 20 and 50 total Mars rendezvous—so it would take 40–100 years to achieve a fully self-sustaining civilization on Mars.

Musk says that, at the moment, "we are just trying to make as much progress as we can with the resources that we have available and to keep the ball moving forward". If they can do so, he says, their efforts will "show that this is possible and that this dream is real—it is not just a dream, it is something that can be made real—the support will snowball over time."

It's a big dream, but one I'm fully behind - and who knows, if Musk can do it, Wernher von Braun's 1949 prophecy of a Martian leader named Elon might just come true...

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Was the Legendary "Wow!" Signal Caused by a Comet, Rather Than ET?

Radio Telescope Scans the Sky

If you ask a scientist if there's any evidence of contact with extraterrestrial civilizations, you'll likely get the answer "none", but also with the caveat of "although there is the 'Wow!' signal, which hasn't yet been explained". This anomalous radio signal was detected just once, forty years ago, by Ohio State University's Big Ear radio telescope, and got its name from the annotation that astronomer Jerry R. Ehman scribbled on the computer printout when he noticed it: "Wow!"

Beyond simply being an anomalous signal that stood out from the usual background noise, the other important facet of the Wow! signal was its frequency: at the beginnings of SETI, it was theorised that any signal sent by E.T. might be located around the natural emission frequency of the most common element, hydrogen, which is 1420 megahertz. The Wow! Signal frequency was 1420 megahertz.

But now the media is trumpeting that "the Wow! signal has officially lost its wow factor". The alien-killing headline is based on a new paper, "Hydrogen Line Observations of Cometary Spectra at 1420 MHz", authored by Professor Antonio Paris. Building on his 2016 paper arguing that a comet and/or its hydrogen cloud might have been the cause of the Wow! signal, Paris now claims to have found actual examples of similar signals emanating from comets, based on 200 observations conducted between November 2016 and February 2017:

This investigation discovered that comets 266/P Christensen, P/2013 EW90 (Tenagra), P/2016 J1-A (PANSTARRS), and 237P/LINEAR emitted radio waves at 1420 MHz. In addition, the data collected during this investigation demonstrated there is a well-defined distinction between radio signals emitted from known celestial sources and comets, including comet 266/P Christensen.

We speculate that the strength of the original signal in 1977 would have been accounted for by the size of the Big Ear Radio Telescope (when compared with Site B) and/or the potential loss of mass from comet 266/P Christensen, which would have been considerably larger 40 years ago. In addition, while neutral hydrogen clouds have been observed around other comets (mostly from Lyman alpha spectra), determining the physical extent and density of the clouds around comets 266/P Christensen, P/2013 EW90 (Tenagra), P/2016 J1-A (PANSTARRS), and 237P/LINEAR were not the purposes of this investigation. To dismiss the source of the radio signal as emission from comet 266/P Christensen, we repositioned the telescope away from the comet and conducted clear sky observations when the comet was not near the coordinates of the “Wow!” Signal. During these clear sky observations, we detected no significant radio signal at 1420 MHz.

These results led Paris to the conclusion that "cometary spectra are observable at 1420 MHz and that the 1977 “Wow!” Signal was a natural phenomenon from a Solar System body".

So is that the end for the legendary Wow! signal? Apparently not, as a number of astronomers have already responded to the paper with serious skepticism. In a post at r/astronomy, radio astronomer Yvette Cendes explains multiple reasons why the new paper "screamed bullshit to me" - from the obscure journal it was published in, through the strange choice of units used to measure the signal, to the lack of important details about the methodology. In the end, Cendes suggests there might be a very good candidate for what caused Paris's signals (though not the Wow! signal): the Sun:

There is something really radio bright that was within 20 degrees of these comets during the observations- the sun! The sun is the brightest radio source on the sky- it can be thousands of Jansky at these frequencies, if not more, and is frankly bright enough that you can even observe it with one of those little one foot satellite dishes if you know what you're doing. With such an incredibly bright source so incredibly close, it is very, very possible (if not probable) that a bright signal on a telescope of this size is not a genuine source, but the signal from the sun picked up in a side lobe. Hell, you would likely have side lobe issues observing that close to the sun on the best radio telescopes on Earth. Does this paper mention the possibility of this, or how he dealt with observing so close to the sun to make sure he wasn't just picking the sun up in a side lobe? Of course not.

You'll find further skepticism on this new comet theory in this post at Discover ("the signal isn’t bright enough or rapid enough to be a good fit to the Wow! signal"). Additionally, In the comments to the Reddit piece there's much concern about both Paris 'inflating' his reputation, and the fact that he has used Kickstarter to collect money for his research.

Astronomer Chris Lintott has assembled a list of questions that he, and other astronomers, have regarding this new paper that supposedly debunks the Wow! signal. As far as I know Paris has not answered them publicly yet (from his tweets it appears he is currently travelling, so understandable).

The irony of this story is that Paris is also a ufologist (he is the founder and director of Aerial Phenomenon Investigations), and he's the one debunking the Wow! signal while orthodox astronomers are defending it as an ongoing mystery.

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WTF? This 1949 Science Fiction Novel by a Legendary Rocket Designer Names the Leader of Martian Civilization as "Elon"

Project Mars book cover

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In recent years entrepreneur Elon Musk has put himself at the forefront of the emerging commercial space industry with his company SpaceX enjoying multiple orbital rocket launch successes (as well as the development of their self-returning, reusable rocket systems).

Just last year Musk dreamt big when discussing the future of space travel, saying it was his goal to see a million people living on Mars within 50 years. But with a population that large, the logistics and planning wouldn't just involve space travel, but would also have to take into consideration a variety of social, economic and political factors. For instance, Who would be in charge? Who would be mayor, or governor, or president of the Red Planet?

Never fear, the answer may have already been given to us: in 1949, rocket scientist Wernher von Braun - former Nazi rocketeer, soon to be NASA's star rocket designer - wrote a science fiction book about humanity's first mission to Mars. Von Braun put his considerable technical knowledge to use (according to many reviewers, perhaps adding *too* much detail) in writing Project Mars: A Technical Tale. In his story, set in the 1980s, ten large space ships make the journey, a project which required "upwards of 1,000 flights into Earth's orbit" in order to "build, supply and fuel these ten ships, and it is an international, cooperative project."

By chapter 22 of von Braun's novel, the human visitors have discovered a peaceful indigenous civilization that resides underground on Mars (remembering when he wrote it, little was known about the planet's habitability). And then, in chapter 24, we are given an outline of how Mars is governed by this civilization. It's here that we come across a wonderfully surprising discovery:

Project Mars Excerpt

The Martian government was directed by ten men, the leader of whom was elected by universal suffrage for five years and entitled "Elon." Two houses of Parliament enacted the laws to be administered by the Elon and his cabinet.

The Upper House was called the Council of the Elders and was limited to a membership of 60 persons, each being appointed for life by the Elon as vacancies occurred by death. In principle, the method was not unlike that by which the College of Cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church is appointed. Usually the Elon chose historians, churchmen, former cabinet members or successful economic leaders who could offer lifetimes of valuable experience.

Yes, you heard von Braun - one of the progenitors of human space travel - correctly: the leader of Martian civilization is called 'Elon', the same name as Elon Musk, who is currently leading the field of human space travel. Predestination, time vortex, or just a delicious coincidence? Maybe throw this one in the Mars weirdness file with Jack Kirby drawing the Face on Mars in a comic 17 years before it was discovered...

Wernher von Braun's Project Mars: A Technical Tale is available to download in multiple formats from archive.org.

(via Reddit)

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Billionaire Robert Bigelow Tells 60 Minutes There is "an Existing Extraterrestrial Presence on Earth"

Robert Bigelow

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In recent years Robert 'Bob' Bigelow has become a major player in the fledgling commercial space industry, most notably through Bigelow Aerospace's development of inflatable space modules that have since been tested at the International Space Station. Bigelow Aerospace was made possibly by Bigelow's extraordinary success as the entrepreneur who created the hotel chain Budget Suites of America. But before Bigelow became big in extraterrestrial accomodation, he was interested in other extraterrestrial matters: namely, the possibility that aliens had visited - and to this day are still present on - Earth.

Back in the day, Bigelow funded the National Institute of Discovery Studies (NIDS), devoted to studying 'out-there' phenomenon in a scientific manner (at one time purchasing the legendary 'Skinwalker Ranch' outright in order to investigate the odd sightings reported there), and later (controversially) provided financial backing to the Mutual UFO network (MUFON) for field investigators, in return for access to the organization's data. (We've mentioned Bigelow many times here over the years, along with NIDS.)

But if anybody thought Bob Bigelow might be leaving UFOs and the paranormal behind in a bid for respectability, think again. In an interview this week with 60 Minutes reporter Lara Logan, Bigelow came right out and nailed his colours to the mast.

Lara Logan: Do you believe in aliens?

Robert Bigelow: I'm absolutely convinced. That's all there is to it.

Lara Logan: Do you also believe that UFOs have come to Earth?

Robert Bigelow: There has been and is an existing presence, an ET presence. And I spent millions and millions and millions -- I probably spent more as an individual than anybody else in the United States has ever spent on this subject.

Logan, surprised by this up-front revelation, pushed Bigelow, asking him if he thought it was risky for him - as a high-profile businessman, and CEO in the commercial space industry - to say publicly that he believed in aliens. I looooove Bigelow's response: "I don't give a damn. I don't care."

Lara Logan: You don't worry that some people will say, "Did you hear that guy, he sounds like he's crazy"?

Robert Bigelow: I don't care.

Lara Logan: Why not?

Robert Bigelow: It's not gonna make a difference. It's not gonna change reality of what I know.

Lara Logan: Do you imagine that in our space travels we will encounter other forms of intelligent life?

Robert Bigelow: You don't have to go anywhere.

Lara Logan: You can find it here? Where exactly?

Robert Bigelow: It's just like right under people's noses. Oh my gosh. Wow.

Bigelow Aerospace's Alien Logo

Link: Robert Bigelow interviewed by 60 Minutes

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Astronomers Scramble for their Telescopes as 'Alien Megastructure' Star Starts Dimming Again

Dyson Sphere

The controversy over the 'alien megastructure' star (aka KIC 8462852, 'Tabby's Star', and Boyajian's Star) has raged in the few short years since it was noticed that the light it is emitting has periodically dimmed - a pattern that doesn’t show up anywhere else in astronomy, across 150,000 stars surveyed.

If the topic is new to you, work your way through the 'Related Stories' links at the bottom of this post, as we've been covering it for a while now. Or, for the tldr; crowd, here's the Wikipedia summary:

Unusual light fluctuations of the star were discovered by citizen scientists as part of the Planet Hunters project, and in September 2015 astronomers and citizen scientists associated with the project posted a preprint of a paper on arXiv describing the data and possible interpretations. The discovery was made from data collected by the Kepler space telescope, which observes changes in the brightness of distant stars to detect exoplanets.

Several hypotheses have been proposed to explain the star's large irregular changes in brightness as measured by its unusual light curve, but none to date fully explain all aspects of the curve. The leading hypothesis, based on a lack of observed infrared light, posits a swarm of cold, dusty comet fragments in a highly eccentric orbit. However, the notion that disturbed comets from such a cloud could exist in high enough numbers to obscure 22% of the star's observed luminosity has been doubted. Another hypothesis is that of a large number of small masses in "tight formation" orbiting the star. However, spectroscopic study of the system has found no evidence for coalescing material or hot close-in dust or circumstellar matter from an evaporating or exploding planet within a few astronomical units of the mature central star. It has also been hypothesized that the changes in brightness could be signs of activity associated with intelligent extraterrestrial life constructing a Dyson swarm.

(And if you really don't like reading, check out this TED talk about KIC 8462852, by Tabetha Boyajian herself.)

Now, the controversy over the star looks set to be reignited - and hopefully answers to the mystery uncovered - with news that it has just started dimming again. Astronomers are, understandably, a wee bit excited about this:


The dimming event is still underway as I write, so it's still very early days in terms of looking for patterns and answers. However, the following graph posted by @David_Kipping shows an interesting comparison between the public observations of the star so far to a previously recorded dipping event.

Dipping pattern in Tabby's Star

To keep up to date with developments related to this new dimming event, it is probably worth checking out the ongoing discussion currently taking place on a Reddit board devoted to KIC 8462852. Also, last night Tabetha Boyajian participated in an online Q&A about the new observations currently underway, which I've embedded below for those interested:

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