Speaker 1: So we've had all these revelations about UFOs or unidentified aerial phenomena recently culminating in this new report to Congress. But really it seems to me it's more the same. We've got some grainy videos of something acting really weird in the sky. That's hard to explain some people cry aliens or secret technology, odd weather or whatever, but what's different this time is that the government has authenticated the footage, but we still don't seem any closer to conclusively identifying all that's unidentified here. So [00:00:30] now what Today we're joined by Seth Shostak, senior astronomer at the city Institute. And, uh, in that capacity, uh, Seth, you've been kind of on the neighborhood watch organization for, uh, humanity Hills in this year corner of the Milky way, if you will. So you, you you've been watching for signs of extra trucks for your life, uh, from, from a watch tower with a, a much, much broader view of the cosmos. So what do you think about [00:01:00] the videos that, uh, we have seen here recently that are in this new report to Congress?
Speaker 2: Well, they're fun to watch, I'll say that. And, uh, you know, I certainly admire aliens if that's what they are to have figured out how to come to earth and only be visible to the us Navy and only when they're piloting certain kinds of aircraft. So, uh, you know, that's remarkable. I mean, I don't know why they're not making themselves known to a wider audience, but you know, maybe the rest of the world isn't willing to pay up. [00:01:30] I don't know, but they're intriguing. They're intriguing.
Speaker 1: And, and, well, that's kind of an interesting thing I've I I've seen elsewhere, you know, that as the, the amount of, um, cameras in the world and, and surveillance surveillance equipment that we all carry around, uh, in our pockets has gone up, you know, exponentially in the last couple of decades. Um, you know, the, um, sightings haven't necessarily gone up by the same factor in some of the more outlandish stories of a alien [00:02:00] abduction. I've gone to almost zero, I think, as, as we've begun to carry around these devices.
Speaker 2: Well, uh, you make a good point there. Uh, it's, it's true that as the photographic capabilities of Mr and Mrs front porch, you know, the average person increase because not only because they all carry cameras in their pockets now, but also those are really pretty good cameras and they can make video or, you know, standard still images, all this capability to record things has improved, [00:02:30] but the aliens have backed off just enough to make sure that the results are always still kind of, uh, you know, unclear a little ambiguous. And, uh, that is a remarkable thing. I think that, that, that probably says something
Speaker 1: Well. Yeah. And I've seen you, you also mentioned somewhere else, you wrote that, uh, these particular videos, uh, that we're talking about, they have, you know, names, a acronym type names, like, uh, FLIR and, and go Fest and, uh, gamble. Um, these videos that have been circulated everywhere, [00:03:00] um, they look more compelling than they might really be as pieces of scientific data. And that's partly because some of the data is missing, right.
Speaker 2: Well, yeah. I mean, most importantly of what's missing, at least in what I've seen is some indication of distance. If there is any, and presumably, you know, these fighter jets are gonna have radar, so they could tell you how far away these things are. And if you don't know that, you know, then your brain takes over and you assume, well, if this thing [00:03:30] is about the same size as, I don't know, it's 7 47 or something like that, then it's on the odor of maybe a half mile away. And when it shoots all off the edge of the frame or a twist around, you know, you ascribe those to motions of something that's big and not, you know, not too close to you. Whereas if in fact the objects, if they are objects and not camera artifacts, if they really are objects and they're only, you know, a hundred feet away from you, then they're not doing anything terribly special and you can't say, well, our aircraft couldn't do that. This [00:04:00] must be, you know, an indication that the aliens are visiting. So there is that ambiguity, it would be important to know the distance. I assume that the Navy does know the distance, but if that's the case, then they might be able to figure out what these things are.
Speaker 1: So, yeah, you, you mentioned there the possibility of, of camera artifacts, uh, I mean out what you're placing your money on in terms of a likely explanation for some of these
Speaker 2: Things. Well, I'm hesitant to place too much money on it. I have too many bits that probably aren't gonna pay off [00:04:30] already, but yeah, I, I think that some of them are camera artifacts. Remember the cameras have, you know, gimbles and so there, the cameras are designed to follow something and other is to always put it in the center of the field of view, right? Because that's the way you can see something or maybe target it, you know, a military aircraft. So, uh, and those things are fairly good at, at, at following things around. And they, you know, they can twist as the aircraft twists and stuff like that. So some of the things that [00:05:00] I see in these videos could be very well, just artifacts of the camera, other things that have been suggested, or things like internal reflection in the, the optic systems of these cameras, anybody who, uh, makes photos, you know, with their cell phone or any other kind of camera knows that, you know, when the sun is out and you're taking a picture that is sort of in the direction of the sun, you'll see these sort of circuit or things, you know, those are just internal reflections in your camera.
Speaker 2: They're not real things in the sense that they're not objects [00:05:30] and that may account for some of these things.
Speaker 1: And so, you know, over the years, these are just the, the latest, uh, videos that have kind of been been circulating. And those been countless photos and, and other videos over the decades. Have you taken a, taken a look at, at any of the others? Have, has they come in over the years?
Speaker 2: You, I have, I have, I have to tell you, I have, I mean, it's not my job to, you know, track down UFOs. I have to say, we're looking for et, but not in our own airspace. So that's a, that's [00:06:00] a slightly different problem. But, uh, I will say that every day, essentially every day I get people in touch with me who, you know, they send me an email or they call me up or they write a letter because they are having some experience in their personal lives that involves aliens. At least they think they do. And very often it is indeed photographic evidence. And I ask them to send me the photographic evidence. You know, it could be a video, sometimes it's video, sometimes it's just photos, but, and photography has been a long time hobby find since [00:06:30] I was eight years old, anyhow. And so often I can say something about the photos because I see photographic of there, but lemme just summarize all that material. I've never seen anything where I think this is it. You know, they finally done it. We finally have incontrovertible proof. You can see the windows in the aircraft. You can see the rivets, you can see the cling on markings. You can see something, but you can never see anything.
Speaker 1: You know, I, I saw another, um, call and recently in, in scientific [00:07:00] American, um, by the Harvard astronomer Avi lobe who I, I imagine you're familiar with. And he, he kind of was looking at this backwards saying like, well, if UAP does turn out to be, uh, extra, extra intelligence, well then maybe that helps validate my idea that, uh, uh, umu MOA, that asteroid com type thing that, uh, was really weirdly shaped and moved strange through the, uh, through the, uh, solar system. Uh, and apparently at inner stellar origins, he, he wrote a book called extra extraterrestrial suggesting [00:07:30] that is an alien probe of some sort. Do you see that? Well, first of all, I guess, what do you think of that hypothesis? And does it have any bear in this conversation? Well,
Speaker 2: I'm not sure that you could say it does. I mean, you could say, oh gosh, here's one questionable, uh, bit of evidence for alien visitation, namely the Navy videos, in my opinion, I think there there's somewhat questionable, but we'll see what the report says. And then you also have the claim by Avi lobe, uh, who is, uh, you [00:08:00] know, the head of the astronomy department at Harvard university for a long time. He's a very smart guy. And I give him a lot of credit for at least saying, you know, this thing, a muan mu, which came from somebody else's solar system to visit our solar system might not be a rock. It might be some bit of, uh, alien construction that just happened to get our solar system. And one of the arguments he made for that actually I think, is worth even mentioning here.
Speaker 2: And that is, you know, seen from somebody else's solar system, our solar [00:08:30] system is, is just a tiny little dot on the sky, right? So if you throw a, a, a dart into the air, what are the chances you're gonna hit that dot? What are the chances that are random asteroid or comment, if that's what it is from somebody else's solar system should be so accurately targeted, that goes right through our solar system, round the sun and back out. And, and that, that is an interesting point. Uh, although ALO points out that, okay, that suggests that it really is sort of an et construction UN unless [00:09:00] there are lots and lots of things being kicked out of people's solar systems. And then it's like throwing those gazillion, uh, darts at this guy. And of course, some of them are gonna hit our solar system. And I think that that may be the case cuz within 18 months or so of AMU MUA being this covered, another extra solar system object was discovered. And it's clearly a comment.
Speaker 1: Um, you know, I, I tried to make the point in the column for CNET recently that, uh, there's this huge gap in, in how we study [00:09:30] UFOs and, and how scientists like yourself, uh, study the cosmos and do the search effects of terrestrial intelligence. Uh, um, and even in how we study near earth objects, we have these networks of telescopes as you well know, and sky cameras that they can all collaborate and share data pretty freely. It makes it really easy, uh, to, you know, validate, confirm discoveries of everything from meteors to, uh, neutron stars. Um, but that infrastructure there isn't really in place for UFOs, uh, in part because the military [00:10:00] isn't in the business of collaborating and sharing data, it's quite quite the opposite. Obviously there, is there a way around this to maybe study UAP the same way that SETI is done? Yeah. I,
Speaker 2: I mean, you make a good point there because, uh, the whole UFO phenomenon, UAP, whatever, you know, the, uh, and then the moniker is that you want to use, right? That was that all rests on analysis of sort of, um, accidentally acquired data, right? Somebody sees something in the sky and now there's [00:10:30] some analysis of, well, what do you think it is? Is it an alien spacecraft? Is it something else? Whereas set what we do here at this, at the incident, of course, when we're trying to find et by dropping on radio signals or light flashes or something like that, those are experiments, right? So the experiments, so it's a little different in terms of verifying them. And it's true, what you say that the UFO claims are very hard to verify. Uh, and, and I think that, you know, you say, is there something else we could do [00:11:00] there to make that easier?
Speaker 2: Well, one thing you could do is already being done and that is, we have lots and lots of, uh, satellites orbiting the earth more than 4,000 of them. And most of them are not doing anything that, you know, would ever find a, a UFO, but something like 700 to 800 of them are looking down. Anybody uses Google earth knows that, you know, there are plenty of satellites making pictures of the earth and it turns out that they make pictures. So in the aggregate, the entire earth gets photographed once, [00:11:30] once a day. And you know, they're pretty high resolution. I mean, go on Google earth. And you know, the smallest thing you can see is smaller than your, your car, right? So if there were, you know, saucers that were at least, you know, 10 feet across, you would see 'em and you could say, oh yeah, you'd see them, but don't worry. The government will, you know, wash all the data clean of that kind of observation. Well, maybe, maybe the us government is that nefarious. I don't think so, but maybe, but you have to argue that this is true for [00:12:00] every satellite, every government that has a satellite up there making photos.
Speaker 1: I mean, yeah. It strikes me that the, our weather satellites were able to pick up, uh, swarms of cicadas, uh, recently, uh, they, they should showed up. I, I think they looked
Speaker 2: Like was just a bug in the software.
Speaker 1: Yeah. Yeah. There you go. A lot of, well, you know, you know, taking it out a little bit further, I mean, you you've said that you expect, we'll find evidence of life, uh, elsewhere, uh, in the universe pretty soon, uh, within our lifetimes. And [00:12:30] I think you've said that, uh, do you think that that evidence is gonna from the solar system or from beyond? Well,
Speaker 2: It depends on what kinda life you, you require. Uh, if you're willing to just take biology, you know, and if a bacterium discovery of a bacterium on some other world is good enough for you and really in a way it should be because that's, that would be an astounding discovery. Then we may find it in the solar system. I mean, you know, know the, the perseverance Rover on Mars is looking for samples of dirt that might contain the remnants of, [00:13:00] uh, bacteria, other organisms that live billions of years ago on Mars. But there are, you know, at least six other places in the solar system that might have, or had life, right. There are all places where there're liquids, right? That they have liquids underneath this surface, like Europa, they're mostly moons of, of, uh, Jupiter and Saturn. So we can explore those, uh, regions of the universe by just sending a rocket, right.
Speaker 2: And have a dig around, take a sample, something that will all happen, you know, within 15 years [00:13:30] we'll have done a lot of that. The other possibility is set right within 10 or years, the steady experiments, particularly particularly the breakthrough listen program will have looked at more than a million star systems. You know, we've only looked at thousands so far, tens of thousands. So a million is a much bigger number. And, uh, I think that there's a good chance that that will succeed too, but obviously we're not gonna know it's not gonna be over until it's over. So I don't know, but I think there's a good chance if you pay attention when you're crossing [00:14:00] the street there that, uh, you will see in your lifetime, uh, conclusive proof that, uh, biology is not limited to earth.
Speaker 1: It seems like for, for that to come from beyond our solar system, w would require, I mean, the confirmation that would be acquired, um, for a bio signature, from an, an exoplanet or, or a radio signal from deep space, it seems like it'd be much harder to, to confirm that than to, [00:14:30] you know, have the, the sample, you know, and then the per perseverance camera looking down at the sample of, uh, something wiggling around in, in marsh and soil. Um,
Speaker 2: Well, yes, yes and no, actually, because clearly if you see something wiggling, I mean, that's, that's, that's pretty compelling perseverance. Isn't looking for anything that wiggles and it would be great if you could find something, but it's, you know, the idea is that, well, Mars was much a much nicer place, only 4 billion years ago. And I'm old enough to remember when it was a nicer place. Okay. [00:15:00] 4 billion years ago, you know, there was water and all that sort of thing. And so it's just looking for deposits on the surface parts of the surface, the samples, if you will, of the dirt that it can bring back that can then be looked at on earth with, you know, microscopes and stuff like that, to see if there's any evidence inside that dirt for, you know, microbes that lived, uh, 4 billion years ago. Okay. That's, that's pretty conclusive.
Speaker 2: I agree with you. But for SETI, you pick up a signal, you might say, well, I don't know, that's a signal. I mean, you know, quasars make signals too. They're not alive [00:15:30] that's for, but the kind of signals that set, he looks for signals that are at essentially at one frequency, they're at one spot on the radio dial and signals like that are not made by nature as far as we know. So if you pick up a signal like that, you may have no idea what that signal is all about. You don't know whether it's somebody's top 40 or, you know, the local news or whatever. I mean, you don't know, but you do know that it was made by a, uh, uh, a transmitter and that tells you that it was the result of intelligence.
Speaker 1: [00:16:00] Is there, is there a particular set initiative or, or effort that you are especially excited about or, or the one that is, uh, you know, kind of kept your, of making these discoveries at night? Well,
Speaker 2: Well, yeah, I mean, there are, I mean, people ask a kind of related question, Eric, and that is, look, you've been doing this for a while. Somebody's been doing steady since 1960. That's a long time. You haven't found anything. You know, maybe you guys ought to take a, a job at the [00:16:30] local, I don't know, uh, transmission repair for there's, something to that. But on the other hand, the thing that keeps keeps you going is the fact that the experiment keeps getting better because of the improvements in technology. And it gets better very quickly. It actually gets better exponentially, heavily overused word these days, but it is exponential every two years, the speed of the city searches double. So, uh, yeah, I, I think that there is a good chance that, that we'll find something, um, you know, maybe the [00:17:00] world will never be the same people like to say that. But of course, if we found that there were actually aliens flipping through our atmosphere, that would change things too. And, uh, maybe in a much more dramatic way.
Speaker 1: Yeah. When you mentioned, uh, the know the vision of aliens flooding through the atmosphere, you know, it makes me think there's this, there's another, another gap in all. This is, uh, that, you know, we look out beyond our, our planet and seem to see, you know, it is this, this huge empty void in, in [00:17:30] so many ways. Uh, but then, you know, then there's, these, these sight have all these things like within our atmosphere that we, we can't explain, and there's this big gap between the nothing that's beyond, and then all this weirdness within the atmosphere. I mean, is it possible, we're just missing them in between, in transit our technology, isn't there to catch them on the way.
Speaker 2: Yeah, no, well actually in a way, our technology isn't capable of finding them unless they have, you know, bright headlights or something, or, or [00:18:00] sending, you know, radio signals in advance in the, I mean, anything that, uh, I mean, even as, as close as a muah MOA, when it was between Mars and Jupi on its way out of the solar system, Moul was the size of, uh, you could probably rest it on the, the, uh, stands of the rose bowl. Right. That was kind of the size of the thing, maybe a thousand feet across or something. And you couldn't see it once it got past Mars with the biggest telescopes on earth. So yeah, there could be plenty that we don't see that's for sure. But you raise good point. Why are the aliens [00:18:30] in, you know, in our airspace now, why now? I mean, the, the earth has been around for four and a half billion years.
Speaker 2: Almost APNs has been around for what 300,000 years, and the aliens decide to visit just now. And I think that that's a little bit suspicious that that fact, and you, you know, if, if you talk to people who are convinced that they're doing that, they say, well, because they don't like, you know what we're doing to the climate, or they don't like our nuclear weapons, or they don't like our reality television. There's something that we're doing that they don't like, but that doesn't [00:19:00] make any sense cuz they don't know about any of that because you know, our radio television news hasn't gotten to them yet. All right. Great.
Speaker 1: Well, Hey, uh, thanks so much for, for taking the time. Really
Speaker 2: Appreciate it. It's been my pleasure, Eric.