The public was confused, curious and a little afraid. At St. The Rev. Father Brasky, like many other practical jokers that summer, wanted to have a little fun at the expense of the media.
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But though many unexplained sightings were proved to be hoaxes, they continued beyond that summer. Something, it seemed, was in the sky.
In April , the Rev. The parish school needed an expansion. Father Miller had a plan to deal with both challenges: He would hold a festival that August to raise money for the building fund. The light was operated by Sgt. Donald R. Nine times in the following months, the parish searchlight would illuminate the impossible: a flying saucer. The early days of flying saucer reports were full of practical jokes—along with serious, confounding sightings from military officers and pilots. Readers, and most reporters in the media, were not sure how to juggle such a contrast.
From the start, the problem with flying saucers has been, among other things, a semantic one: If U. Even today, whenever we talk about U. We are always trying to imagine what they might be. With our eyes to the heavens, squinting at fast-moving discs and sporadic lights, the mind wanders. Yet in the midth century, enough people reported strange objects in the sky that the government took notice. Nearly were labeled unexplained, but another 1, were categorized as unknown. While the difference remains debatable, and is likely a result of poor terminology, the conclusion is clear: Although most U.
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Scientifically curious and enigmatic, though, does not make for great entertainment. Aliens do.
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The rest is cultural history. If an object courses through the sky, we reason, someone, or something, must be flying it. These sightings are certainly interesting to U. Imagine a woman sees a glinting disc in the night sky. She first thinks it is a star, but then watches it bounce and bobble and speed into the distance. She might scratch her head and move on, but if she keeps thinking about that light, she must make a decision based on conjecture. Either she saw something entirely reasonable and typical—a plane, the planet Venus, a spotlight aimed at the sky—or she accepts that she has an unknown experience.
And once she accepts the fragility of her perception, she opens the door to even more possibilities.
Thinking about U. Such speculation is healthy for Catholics, particularly because it can reveal how we might seek to neuter our faith of its mystery. In the same way that we might rush to explain a strange light in the sky, we might seek to explain God in purely rational and realistic terms—a theology of convenience. Because the church has hesitated to offer firm teachings on the existence of aliens, theologians and philosophers have filled that space with wonder.
Astronomers have had to parry questions about aliens for years. Guy Consolmagno, S. I cannot imagine a circumstance where such contact could be kept secret for very long. Michael Burke-Gaffney, S. In , after the noted astronomer and ufologist J. Allen Hynek penned an infamous letter to Science magazine offering seven reasons why U.
He takes a more cautionary tone. Some, like Reid, claim there is compelling evidence that merits further investigation—but the details remain as elusive as the aliens.
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Here are some of our previous and ongoing attempts to find out if, in fact, aliens are out there and whether we have been visited, starting with the heyday of such activities around the middle of the last century. Easily the granddaddy of all UFO conspiracies, the Roswell incident is described by many as the catastrophic crash of an alien spaceship in the New Mexico desert, after which the U.
A continuation of the previous two projects, Blue Book was the longest and most extensive known investigation of unexplained aerial happenings. Of the 12, reported sightings it investigated, most were ruled to be misidentified natural phenomena or aircraft including early U-2 spy planes on test flights ; and remained unidentified. The s and s saw the CIA investigating a bunch of phenomena associated with UFO sightings, such as parapsychology and psychic happenings. Nevada senator Richard Bryan ended up cancelling the program anyway in , right after actual observations had started. If Bigelow is as committed to ufology as his last two decades of work have suggested, he could do worse than striking a deal with this group.
When my sister and I arrived at Skinwalker Ranch now owned not by the institute or Bigelow but by the mysterious Adamantium Real Estate whoever that nerd is , we were numb to the claims of its strange happenings. Not God, or miracles, or magical beasts.
I do believe that we probably misunderstand some laws of physics, that our knowledge is, in some cases, incomplete, or even drop-dead wrong. But I also believe that they can.
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We found a legal gravel pull-off that looked down on the semi-martian land of Skinwalker, and stared at the sky, waiting. I added an extra layer to my clothes, blew hot air into my gloves, and found a nearby rock suitable for sitting, surrounded by broken glass and scattering of half-smoked cigarettes.
And so my sister and I sat, mock-gasping at the lights from low-flying planes. And then the clouds, which had hung low all day, began to clear. The stars—some of them perhaps supporting life that almost certainly has not come here, but, you know, maybe—were crisp and clear. A mysterious signal coming from the star system HD was discovered by a Russian antenna this week.
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