UFO Sightings: Real or just a Hoax?

     “Are aliens real?” This question usually pops up in our mind when we heard or saw something about aliens. We may begin to think, where do they come from? What do they want from us? Are they going to invade us? Or maybe they just want to make friends with us? Unidentified Flying Objects (UFO) become the world’s most phenomenon report over the past years. Hence, there are many reports of UFO sightings that are still debatable.

     According to Randhir Singh, the information of the first UFO sighting is not known. Some researchers say that UFO sightings date back to ancient times. However, this speculation has no evidence, so it is just a theory. Most researchers mark the beginning of sightings in the United States in the late 1800s; they were called “the Mystery Airships”.

Early newspaper hoaxes aside, there have been countless UFO reports over the decades, and a few of them becomes famous. The first well-known report of a UFO sighting occurred in 1947 when a pilot named Kenneth Arnold claimed to see a group of nine objects near Mount Rainier in Washington. He described their movement as “like saucers skipping on water”, which a reporter mistakenly stated that the objects were saucer-shaped, and that mistake launched many “flying saucer” reports in later decades.

     Since the 1947 UFO sighting, almost every country have something they called a “UFO wave”, which defined as an unexplained increase in the number of UFO sighting reports over a certain period of time (National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena, 1997). For instance, UFO waves occurred in Italy and France in 1954, in New Guinea in 1958, etc. These waves were still unexplained.

     According to Benjamin Radford, a writer at Live Science, UFO sightings have been reported in recent years. Here is the list of events that got a lot of attention:

Jan. 7, 2007: Strange lights over Arkansas fueled much speculation on the internet until the Air Force debunked the UFO claims, explaining that the flares had been dropped from airplanes as part of routine training.

April 21, 2008: Phoenix lights were reported again. It was a hoax, created by road flares tied to helium balloons. The hoaxer admitted it, and eyewitnesses reported seeing him do it.

Jan. 5, 2009: New Jersey UFOs that proved so baffling, they were reported on the History Channel turned out to be helium balloons, red flares and fishing lines, all part of a social experiment. The men who perpetrated the hoax, Joe Rudy, and Chris Russo, were fined $250 for creating what could have been a danger to the nearby Morristown airport.

October 13, 2010: UFOs over Manhattan turned out to be helium balloons that escaped from a party at a school in Mount Vernon.

Jan. 28, 2011: Videos of UFOs hovering over the Holy Land (the Dome of the Rock on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount) was revealed as a hoax — the effects of video editing software’s use were discovered.

July 2011: The sighting of a UFO on the ocean floor was attributed to a Swedish scientist, but that researcher, Peter Lindberg, merely said the thing he detected in blurry images was “completely round,” an assertion not supported by the low-resolution sonar image. A second “anomaly” made the case seem even more bizarre, but no evidence has emerged to suggest alien origin.

April 2012: A UFO near the sun, spotted in a NASA image, turned out to be a camera glitch.

April 2012: A viral UFO video was taken from a plane over South Korea likely showed a drop of water on the airplane’s window.

May 2012: A nephew of the famous Wayans brothers comedy team, Duayne “Shway ShWayans” Wayans, filmed a UFO over Studio City, Calif. But like many, many UFO sightings, this one turned out to be the planet, Venus. In fact, Venus has been mistaken for a UFO even by airline pilots.

SOURCE: Live Science

     With these sightings that have been reported, many people intrigue this happening because it leads us to doubt the existence of extraterrestrial life. The reason why we cannot easily identify a flying object is because of the limitations of our human perception. Any object seen in the sky, especially at night, can be very difficult to identify. Based on what we see, we tend to estimate the distance, size, and speed of UFOs, so this makes our claim unreliable.

     Since the UFO sightings, so far, provide no real evidence, it is possible that extraterrestrials in spacecraft exist and have visited Earth. The lesson for this is that “unknown lights in the sky” is not the same as “extraterrestrial spacecraft” (Radford, 2012).


Science Needs Imagination, Too

    Albert Einstein once said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge”. These two concepts are both important. But knowledge without imagination is barren. Creative ideas, cool new things and discovering the world are coming from creative imagination. That’s why science needs imagination too. There are lots of reasons why imagination is essential in the field of science.

   According to Dictionary.com, Science is a systematic knowledge of the physical or material world gained through observation and experimentation. Science has several steps that must follow and it is called the scientific method. Scientists use the scientific method to collect data, empirical evidence in an experiment related to a hypothesis and the results aiming to support or contradict a theory. These steps cannot be done without the help of our imagination.

   Imagination is necessary for the process of understanding science in its results and understanding it on a wider scale. Imagining at the first place allows us to choose a topic for the research, ask questions that need to be answered and much more. According to Martin Thoma, CS and math student, there are processes that considered to be creative. These are the following:

  • Imagining a hypothesis explains some observations eventually something nobody has ever thought of,
  • Imagining tests that allow confirming the hypothesis, and lastly
  • Imagining tests that would falsify the hypothesis.

With the help of our imagination and ideas, each one of us can be a scientist or someone who can contribute to the world of science.

    Aside from Einstein’s famous quotation, he also mentioned that “Imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress and giving birth to evolution”. This statement can give us an idea that imagination can stimulate our creativity and innovation. In fact, many scientists made their contribution because of their creativity, innovation and of course their curiosity to our world. Like Sir Isaac Newton for his Law of Motion, Einstein’s Specific and General Theory of Relativity, Thomas Edison for his invention of the incandescent light bulb and etc.

   To sum it up, imagination is essential because it helps us to understand the value of the process of science and, to understand nature and its mysteries. Without imagination, science would never have existed. It is everywhere in every invention and allows us to question everything we doubt. So, as much as you can always imagine and think outside the box.