Flying Saucers and Science is a comprehensive look at the scientific data on the flying saucer phenomenon. Nuclear physicist and lecturer Stanton T. Friedman has distilled more than 40 years of research on UFOs, and shares his work on a wide variety of classified advanced nuclear and space systems. He answers a number of physics questions in layman’s terms, and establishes that travel to nearby stars is within reach without violating the laws of physics. This section comes from Chapter 6: The UFO "Why" Questions
Why Would Aliens Come to Earth?
In a paper I wrote 32 years ago, I listed 25 reasons for aliens to come to Earth, from the sublime to the ridiculous. After all, although we do know a lot about how governments behave, and, sometimes, even understand their motivations, we can only speculate about the motivations of aliens.
We can get some clues from the myriad of activities reported in abduction books by Budd Hopkins, David Jacobs, Yvonne Smith, and Ray Fowler. Certainly, as described in Captured!, we can get a good glimpse, because of the extensive efforts of Dr. Benjamin Simon, to determine what was done to Betty and Barney Hill, and the behavior of those particular aliens. I have not spoken with any aliens, and might be wary of believing any clues they might give.
I think aliens have many reasons to visit us, partly because I am convinced that there are many civilizations in the local neighborhood. The SETI specialists, as noted in Chapter 5, seem to think, with each passing year during which they (not surprisingly) don’t pick up any radio or optical signals, that there is no one around in the local neighborhood. Dr. Seth Shostak, one of the loudest voices in the SETI cult, noted that distances between adjacent civilizations, even assuming there are lots of them out there, are measured in hundreds of light-years—a truly extraordinary claim. In the first place, he has no data on any civilization out there. Not one. In the second place, there are roughly 2,000 stars within a mere 54 light-years, roughly 16,000 within 100 light-years, and 128,000 within 200 light-years. The incredible and entirely baseless implication is that no civilization even as “advanced” as ours is within 200 light-years! That means we are extraordinarily unique, despite our star, the sun, being run-of-the mill, and besides there being about 50 sun-like stars in the local neighborhood (within 54 light-years). We have already, despite the primitive nature of our instrumentation, discovered about 290 exoplanets. Also, we are well aware that although the nearest star to the sun is 4.3 light-years away, Zeta 1 and Zeta 2 Reticuli (39.2 light-years from us) are only an eighth of a light-year apart from each other, and a billion years older than the sun. I am absolutely certain that within hundreds of light-years there are other pairs of sun-like stars that are relatively near to each other, and at least as old as the sun.
Having near neighbors provides a huge incentive for interstellar travel, compared to our situation. A far more logical conclusion than Shostak’s is that advanced civilizations, as discussed in Chapter 5, are simply not using our type of radio or laser communication anymore, if they ever did. Why would they send us messages, and why would we think we can predict their communication techniques? After all, we don’t use Wright Brothers–type airplanes anymore...
I travel a lot, as does Seth Shostak, to lecture and educate and communicate. Some people travel to visit, do business, perform, compete, or hide. When Charles Lindbergh flew solo to
1927, his 33.5-hour trip was unique, and he won a huge (for the time) prize of
$25,000. Nowadays, 10 million or so people cross the France Atlantic each
year. Practically none but the pilots on the huge airliners making the journey
are intrepid flyers as was Lindbergh. In other words, it seems pretty clear
that the number of people traveling between point A and point B is very much
dependent on how long it takes, how frequent the flights are, and what they
cost. The cheaper and faster, the more travelers and the easier it is to find
an excuse for making the trip. Many million people per year fly to tourist
centers such as , and Las Vegas, Hawaii . We
must also look to our own past to trips, often difficult ones, made by large
numbers of people to hard-to-reach places.
Think of those seeking gold in Paris in
1849, or in California in
1897–1898. In contrast, think of sports fans today flying to the World Series,
or to soccer or hockey championships. Plane loads of tourists fly from Alaska to Japan every summer to see Anne
of Green Gables, the
Canadian musical, because they consider it a Japanese story. They wouldn’t if
they had to go by a slow boat. It is easy to forget that Magellan’s ship took
three years to go around the world. Now, the International Space Station flies
around the world about every 90 minutes. It covers
the distance of Lindbergh’s flight in less than 15 minutes. A hundred years
ago, millions of immigrants came from Prince
Edward Island Europe and Asia to the
wasn’t a fun trip, especially in steerage. I enjoyed a weeklong voyage on the Queen
Elizabeth 2 from United States Southampton to . I gave three lectures to earn my way, as
did Shostak. We wouldn’t have done so if the trip had been the hardship it was
for, say, New
travel to the Columbus New World in
Think of how confusing it must have been for natives of the new world trying to make sense of the various groups of white men visiting in their large ships for the next 300 years. There were people from
, Spain , Portugal , Holland, France , Italy , and
more. Some were there to find
gold. Some were looking for new lands for their kings. Some were looking to
convert the Heathens. Some were looking for new commercial goods to take back,
such as potatoes and tobacco. Some of the first settlers in England and Georgia came
from debtors’ prisons. My grandparents and many others came from Australia Eastern
Europe in the time frame between 1900 and 1910 to evade
the oppression under the Czar and to make new homes for their families. Their
passage took much longer and was far less comfortable than was mine.
I believe it is useful, in dealing with claims of the noisy negativists that there would be no reason for advanced beings to come here, to review what is special about Earth.
1. It is at this time the only planet in the solar system mostly covered with water.
2. It is the only planet in the solar system to have a high level of oxygen in the atmosphere.
3. It is the densest planet in the solar system (not the heaviest or the biggest). On average, a cubic centimeter of the Earth weighs more than a cubic centimeter of any other planet in our solar system. This means that one would expect to find a greater abundance of heavy metals here than on any of the other planets. We know from star spectra that heavy metals are fairly rare in the galaxy. By heavy metals I mean such elements as uranium, gold, tungsten, osmium, rhenium, platinum, and so on. They are much denser than lead, and many have special properties, some of which were unknown even 100 years ago. The major use for uranium back then was as a yellow coloring agent for glazing china dishes! Zirconium and titanium are comparatively light metals, but also have properties of no interest a century ago. The piping and plumbing in nuclear submarines and other nuclear-powered vessels is mostly made of zirconium alloys, because of its combination of low neutroncapture cross-section and corrosion resistance. Neutrons were not even discovered until 1932. Titanium is a relatively light but strong metal, used, for example, in the high-speed SR-71 reconnaissance aircraft, and in cases for laptop computers. An entire new metal-forming industry was created for each of these metals.
4. It should further be noted that there are many resources, such as metallic nodules, at the bottom of the oceans. Many diamonds that have been recovered off the coast of
Africa have special properties
(besides beauty). A wide variety of interesting poisons and potentially
beneficial biological agents have been recovered from sea creatures, and
certain biological materials (drugs, for example) have an enormous value per
5. Earth has a wide variety of plant and animal life conceivably of interest to other-worlders for improving their stocks.
6. With many different races and more than 6 billion earthlings, there is a huge variety of human genetic combinations. For example, we have been improving domestic animals by crossbreeding
and artificial insemination. Soon it will be by cloning and genetic manipulation. Aliens might be doing a huge survey of gene combinations, looking for the unusual characteristics that can improve or harm hybridization activities.
7. Many genetic diseases are relatively rare, occurring in only one in a thousand, 10,000, or million earthlings. Aliens would have to pick up a host of specimens to find the special ones.
8. The Earth-moon combination is unique in the solar system. The moon is larger, compared to the Earth, than is any other planetary satellite compared to its planet. Because it keeps the same face toward the Earth, the other side would be a great location for an alien communication system to contact other bases, with no background interference from the Earth, as well as a good place for huge mother ships, because it has no atmosphere, as opposed to the much higher surface gravity and dense atmosphere of the Earth.
9. From a tourist viewpoint, Earth has many fine and remote locations for hunting, fishing, swimming, hiking, and mountain climbing for air-breathing creatures. Unique within the solar system, Earth, throughout the last 100 years, has rapidly increased its production of radio, TV,and radar signals that leave the planet and provide information (as well as infomercials) to visiting intelligence agents.
Stanton T. Friedman has B.S. and M.S. degrees in Physics from the University of Chicago. He has lectured on “Flying Saucers ARE Real!” to more than 700 college and professional audiences in 50 states, 9 provinces, and 16 other countries, and has appeared on hundreds of radio and TV programs including CBS Sunday Morning, Larry King Live, Nightline, and Unsolved Mysteries.
Friedman has worked on classified, advanced technology programs for such companies as GE, GM, and Westinghouse. He has done research at 20 government document archives, authored TOP SECRET/MAJIC about Operation Majestic 12, and coauthored Crash at Corona: The Definitive Study of the Roswell Incident. He was the original civilian investigator of that very important event, and also coauthored Captured! The Betty and Barney Hill UFO Experience with Kathleen Marden, Betty Hill’s niece.