28 December 2017

UFO research


If you pay attention to the news, you probably heard that the department of defense is investigating UFO sightings.
I would say, neat. Now, we now know that the military is diligent. I would expect the military to be curious about the flying objects and investigate them. But I presume that most of the UFOs they investigated are most likely drones.
Of course, on the news, there was the video with something that suddenly turns in the camera’s field of view. And of course, aliens were discussed.
Well, that dark shape turning suddenly was not something I would declare extraterrestrials. The object was slightly out of focus, so in my experience of image processing, that was either bug or some piece of dirt somewhere in the optical path of the camera. I've seen stuff like that over and over again in telescope images, and guess what, when we clean the mirror, those objects disappear. I could tell you multiple stories of struggle to remove similar stuff from the scientific images. Once, the culprit was bird poop. A telescope is an open construction, so some bird just had to go, causing me to struggle for days to remove the artifact from important scientific images. So, no. Not aliens.
And of course, there is this testimony of Cmdr. David Fravor. Seems legit, isn’t? And I’m sure he is convinced he’s right, and he is completely convinced he saw the real thing. But the fact is he is human, and humans are notorious for falling for optical illusions and distorting the memory of the event. And for the ‘trained officials’, well, sorry pilots are not it.
Just to illustrate the point, There was a case of the police officers in Georgia, chasing the UFO one night through the remote mountain roads. They reported UFO undulating in the sky in front of them. They reported intently staring at it all the way until they lost it from the sight below the horizon. According to them, the UFO appeared just after the sun went down, somewhere along with the horizon.
Guess what, they were chasing Venus, and undulating came from the curvy road. And those people are professionals trained in observations. Although Mr. Fravor’s testimony sounds grand, it lacks photos, and he was on the plane equipped with a camera. So there is no way to double check was he a victim of some other trick our brain loves to plays on us.
Do not get me wrong, as an astrophysicist, I deeply believe there is life outside the Earth, most likely even in our own solar system. And I believe there are other sentient beings somewhere up there. Personally, I would love to witness establishing of the first contact. I’m curious how the first contact and fact that there are other intelligent creatures in the universe will be twisted to fit the majority of religious doctrines. You know, the same ones that consider us, the humans, the main reason for universe existence.
But at the same time, I also believe that we did not have the first contact yet. And this recent news is big evidence.
I tend to joke that Trump gave a mortal blow to all those conspiracies about Area 51 because if there was anything, he would already blurt out the secret. See, the simple UFO investigation by the department of defense is now public, yet, no aliens.
Joke aside, space is big, so big that visiting other species will be a rare event. Just look at us, for more than half a century of space exploration, we managed to send only four probes outside of the Solar System. And of those four only two have enough energy left to send some signal back home. Moreover, we are approaching fast to one of the biggest crisis in our civilization, global warming. And on top of that, we are developing full blast AIs, and no one is certain how that particular feat will end up.
A scientist from the SETI project told me once that when we establish the first contact it will be, most likely, with some form of AI. And that makes sense. Even if we forget the fact that we are trying to develop AI of our own, there is simple math involved. It is energetically cheaper to send AI probe than a biological organism through space. We are quite fragile, AI will be way more resilient and thus cheaper to send.
So Nah, that object from the video is either insect or dirt in the optic of a camera, not aliens. Not yet.

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