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Are we alone?

“Exploration,” American astronomer and cosmologist Carl Sagan writes in his book Cosmos, “is in our nature. We began as wanderers, and we are wanderers still. We have lingered long enough on the shores of the cosmic ocean. We are ready at last to set sail for the stars.” The obscure, the unknown and the mysterious have always intrigued mankind.  Man’s curiosity has motivated him to explore the hidden and the unknown.

We stand on the shores and imagine what could be buried deep under the vast stretch of oceans. Many of us look at the night sky and wonder what lies beyond the thin atmosphere. We hope (and fear) there could be life, somewhere far away from our earth.

And so, from landing on the moon to probing Mars, man’s thirst for space exploration seems unquenchable. The idea that life might exist elsewhere encourages us to try and understand the universe better. This World UFO Day, Soulveda explores some of the strange sightings that have led man to believe there could be life elsewhere in the universe.

Roswell Crash

It would be no understatement to say the Roswell Crash cemented our belief in Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs). A rancher at Roswell in New Mexico found unidentifiable debris in his sheep pasture in the summer of 1947. In the coming years, there were more sightings of dummy drops in New Mexico in the 50s that heightened the suspicion. Though the US Military maintained that the debris was from a weather balloon that belonged to a classified programme ‘Mogul’, many people believed it to be the remains of an extra-terrestrial ‘flying saucer’. This incident became a pop culture phenomenon, making Roswell synonymous with UFOs.

Sceptics claim that these crop circles are the handiwork of pranksters. Only time can reveal whether crop circles are messages or mere pranks.

The crop circles

Crop circles are mostly geometric patterns that mysteriously appear overnight agricultural fields, particularly in wheat and barley fields. It generally occurs during the crop-growing season. The crop is not cut, but laid flat and swirled into a pattern. These strange patterns have remained a mystery for ages now. They have evoked curiosity, puzzlement and intrigue alike. In fact, crop circles have been an inspiration to many science fiction writers and movie makers.

The well-known modern crop circle was sighted in England in 1966. It was one of the most complex crop circles that the world had witnessed. It was a fractal pattern called the ‘Julia Set’. While some random circles can be attributed to rough weather, this circle could not be, as it demonstrated intelligence.

Naturally, this made people question whether it is the work of an extraterrestrial. Dr Horace Drew, who has extensively studied crop circles for 20 years, claims that extraterrestrials may be using crop circles to peacefully communicate with humans. Another of his theories states that they are left as directional marks by human time travellers from a distant future. However, sceptics claim that these crop circles are the handiwork of pranksters. Only time can reveal whether crop circles are messages or mere pranks.

The Kenneth Arnold Case of 1947  

The historic Kenneth Arnold Case fuelled frenzy visitors to form a subculture called the ‘ufology’. Arnold, a civilian pilot, supposedly spotted nine glowing objects flying in a ‘V’ formation over Mount Rainier in Washington. He estimated their speed to be 1700 mph and compared their motion to a saucer skipped across water. However, the media mistook him to mean the objects were in the shape of a saucer, and so, UFOs came to be more commonly known as flying saucers. Later, the US Air Force attributed the incidence to a case of mirage.

The Westall Encounter

Though it has been 50 years since the Westall Encounter, it still continues to be shrouded in mystery. On the morning of April 6 in 1966, at an Australian suburb of Clayton South, over 200 students, staff and residents of the town witnessed a UFO land and then fly away. The witnesses described the object was shaped like “a cup turned upside down on a saucer.” The incident is said to have lasted twenty minutes.

The Shag Harbour UFO incident

The Shag Harbour UFO incident is one of the most important UFO cases to be reported in Canada. It is often compared to the Roswell crash. On the night of October 4, 1967, a UFO about 60 feet in diametre hovered over the waters of Shag Harbour at Nova Scotia, and disappeared into its depths. There was an explosive roar and a flash. The eye witnesses assumed that a plane had gone down and reported to the officials. A search team was put in place, but no wreckage was found underwater. The authorities classified this incident ‘unsolved’.

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