I attempted to think of a more clever title and failed miserably in light of the recent release of UFO documentation. The more aptly named UAP (Unidentified Aerial Phenomena) reminds us that these sightings are just that: unidentified. Some people immediately start to assume these are visitors from other planets, but the reality is extremely improbable.
Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement (STEVE) was a name provided to an aerial phenomenon named in 2016. It’s an aurora-like atmospheric phenomenon similar to the aurora borealis with a temperature of 3,000 °C (3,270 K; 5,430 °F) and flowing at a speed of 6 km/s (3.7 mi/s). So why am I bringing up STEVE? STEVE is relatively new. We know very little about STEVE. UAPs have been talked about for several decades and possibly centuries. There are still many things we don’t know about our own atmosphere. While there are possibilities that these could be advanced spacecrafts that are either top secret or from another country, it’s just as likely that these sitings are unexplained or understudied atmospheric events.
Outside of STEVE, sometimes they’re just meteorites like this video that claims it’s a UFO.
When Are They?
Too often we ask ourselves, “Do aliens exist?” We should be asking, “When do aliens exist?” The universe is a dozen billion years old and our planet is a few billion. In that time we have seen 5 (or more) mass extinction events where nearly all life on earth was eliminated. That’s only been in the most recent one billion years. If it happened on earth, it’s likely to have occurred elsewhere, and it will again. Humans may not be so lucky in the next mass extinction event. Humans have existed for less than six million years on earth, a fraction of the existence of the planet we live on. Who knows? Maybe a sentient species existed 600 million years ago with advanced technology but has disappeared completely since then.
The problem with the age of the universe is that millions or even billions of civilizations could have come and gone from existence within that entire timespan. Only in the past 30,000 years have humans mastered building any structures, and electricity within the last 200. Everything we know of our history is like a tiny dot on a wall-sized calendar. Imagine for a moment that many civilizations have accomplished the same, but in other dots on that same calendar board. Maybe some civilization had a line expanding an inch before going extinct. I’ll show you:
Let’s say there are 15,000,000 civilizations based on the estimates of the Drake equation. That means there are 15 million plot points somewhere on that timeline amongst all those boxes, probably a majority on the right side like this:
My point is this: there are a trillion-to-one odds to be alive at the same time as another sentient civilization that is capable of space travel.
Why Would They Come?
Another important question to ask is “why would they come here?” The nearest solar system, Alpha Centauri, is nearly five light-years away. Let’s assume for the sake of argument that there is a space-traveling civilization in that solar system. Assuming nothing can go further than the speed of light – even if timespace is bent – they would spend five years traveling to get here for… what exactly? Just the hell of it and to scare some guy in Kentucky (nothing against Kentucky, but I had to choose some state)? Obviously, our only reference is our own species and other earthly animals, but it would be fair to assume they want to extend their territory for the following reasons:
- Lack of resources to continue surviving (humans leaving Africa)
- Escaping hardships (British leaving to America)
- Overpopulation (Polynesia)
Neither scenario is ideal for us earthlings. In fact, we should avoid letting other civilizations know we exist. It only informs them “Hey, we have life, food, water, and other great stuff here!”
What about the scientific approach? We have visited the moon to learn more about it and its origins with the Earth. The same with Mars while we trying to determine if life did exist, or if it could still exist. However, neither was a one-and-done deal. We sent humans to the moon, and we plan on sending humans to Mars. If Alpha Centaurians happened to be curious about our planet, wouldn’t we have seen them by now more than random guest appearances of space ships? Much like we do with species within the depths of the oceans or the lack of anything in Antarctica, we still send more and more people to learn about them. If Alpha Centaurians do exist, we should assume they would also set up a colony here to learn more about the planet and not hide in the sky for brief periods of time for the last few centuries.
Evolution of Technology
Many UFO sightings have awful image quality. Despite the fact phones in the past 15 years can make near-move quality videos, the footage still appears awful (side note: I can’t believe this website is a thing, but I really shouldn’t be surprised). They could be explained as drones or even the Bokeh effect. Yet, we still get videos in 2021 like this one, and these, and this. Maybe I’m not being fair with the zooming capabilities, but I’ll cover these videos later.
One of the more recent popular sightings, named FLIR-1, was found to be degraded and had an altered resolution from the original footage according to a thorough study. The video was taken from a thermal imaging camera. One thing worth noting from the study on this: “There was never an indication of noise from the sound barrier being broken. Even more unusual is that the resulting friction from the speeds obtained in the atmosphere should have created an intense fireball and destructive shock-wave as the object moved through the sky. None of the four pilots that witnessed the object’s sudden acceleration reported any heating that would be expected at the speeds noted in sections 3.1 and 3.2 of this paper. The only comment associated with heat came from one of the pilots who stated that the air around the object had a wavy appearance similar to what is seen on a road during a hot summer day.”
Considering the above, and the fact the object – if indeed an object – accelerated more than 40g, it would be safer to assume it’s a mass-less aerial phenomenon as that kind of gravitational force would likely destroy any craft in our atmosphere, because physics, or at least kill any living organism within in. It’s more likely this event is another mystic aerial phenomenon than another sentient species in a spacecraft.
Studies have shown that there is a strong correlation between geography and sightings. A study in France writes, “We find that the significant variables are the population density, the presence of the factories with a nuclear risk and contaminated land, and the rate of moisture.” Obviously, more population means more opportunities to spot such events. This means Kentucky is probably out of the picture. Sorry, Kentucky.
Dr. Massimo Teodorani writes a conclusion on his study on 60 years of documented sightings: “Spatial analysis, excluding any connection of the location of their occurrence with magnetic and gravimetric anomalies, shows that the geographical frequency of UAP sightings is strictly correlated with the population number but also that, once a statistical pondered evaluation is done, a real spatial recurrence does exist and is circumscribed to specific areas. Astrometric analysis shows that UAP sightings tend to be reported more frequently when moonlight is low and very often when planetary conjunctions are visible.” Remember the examples I posted earlier? There’s a common theme amongst those and Dr. Teodorani’s theory: they’re all in major cities at dusk.
The analysis of these studies shows that a mixture of where and when these events occur is extremely important. This further shows that it’s more likely a phenomenon, possibly caused by a mixture of humans, technology, and atmospheric events than it is civilization from some distant galaxy.
Look, it’s important to recognize that there is a strong – if not realistic – the possibility of a space-faring civilization that has existed. The question is if any exist now, and if so, why are they here to begin with? The reality is there is still much to learn about our own planet and these phenomena are likely just that: atmospheric phenomena.
A lot of what I wrote about is similar to the reports. There needs to be a team of scientists dedicated to further research UAPs. I’ll write what the scholar analysis is: “Analysis of over 90,000 reports from the National UFO Reporting Center (NUFORC) database offers preliminary answers to several key questions regarding unidentified flying objects/aerial phenomena (UFO/UAP). Report statistics over the past eighty years indicate the UFO phenomenon is growing at an exponential rate in the United States. Breaking down the statistics by state reveals a strong correlation between the number of sightings in a state and its population density, suggesting UFOs appear more frequently in populated areas. Statistics also show that the frequency of different shape observables has changed over time (e.g., from disks to triangles), indicating the phenomenon has and may continue to evolve.”