Friday, November 17, 2023

Extraterrestrial Contact: My Latest Reading

 I haven’t posted in quite some time. That isn’t because I have changed my thinking or don’t think such issues are important to consider. They are. I believe I have moved into a more fundamental learning space.  This is the latest reading that resonates with me.

Sunday, February 5, 2023

Extraterrestrial Contact: Planning for the Future

There is one overriding theme for this blog, and it's not aliens. It's us. Humans do a poor job planning for the future. That leaves us quite vulnerable when responding to challenges. Here are some ideas for how we can do better:

Saturday, November 12, 2022

Extraterrestrial First Contact: Two Developments

There has been a flurry of activity regarding the search for extraterrestrial intelligence and that includes some important steps forward. The first comes from a U.S. Military investigation of Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon (UAP). An upcoming report is expected to show aircraft instrumentation issues, airborne trash, and spy drones as causes for several of the more dramatic presentations. Hopefully, this will be the start of a new process where such sightings are investigated from the beginning and not placed into a desk drawer. 

The second development is the foundation of the SETI Post-Detection HUB at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. Researchers there, emphasize the impact humans could have on microbial or other, more advanced life, found on other planets. An example: If simple organic life is found on Mars, we need to have a serious discussion about the impact of human exploration of the planet. We are already leaving quite a bit of mechanical debris on Mars. The same concern would also apply to exoplanets in future space exploration. Dr. John Elliott and his colleagues also plan an inquiry into the issue of notification of evidence of extraterrestrial life and dissemination of such information. There has not been much planning into the notification process and a framework for response by nations. Having an academic group working on this is a huge development. 

There seems to be a shift in perspective for scientists, institutions, and governments when it comes to the consideration of extraterrestrial intelligence. The giggle factor is being replaced by limited, but serious, scientific effort. 

Thursday, August 4, 2022

Extraterrestrial First Contact: Surviving in Society

The world is changing rapidly. Human challenges are growing- climate change, political division, workplace issues, mental health problems, and financial burdens. We all feel it in one way or another. So, what do we do? You could build a compound or live in a survivalist community if you have the resources. But such thinking is based on the premise of sudden and immediate threat. That doesn’t seem to be how things are going. Our human problems appear to be getting worse incrementally. 

Perhaps that calls for an alternative response: surviving in society. You have a bake sale at your daughter’s school tomorrow. Your co-workers are counting on you to participate in a big project. Your family wants to go someplace fun this weekend. You’re not prepared to give that up. You want to face our many challenges and remain a part of society. Hell, maybe we could even make things better by working together? 

I suggest being a Society Solutionist- a solver of problems or puzzles. It implies that rather than just complaining about how things are, we put our skills to use and find practical, grassroots ways to solve problems. 

Home: Do what you can to reduce your carbon footprint. Cut waste in food and consumer products. Instill in your family the power of positivity when it comes to facing challenges. Vote for those leaders who will make the changes you want to see. 

Work: Consider work as community and ask that your administrators consider it a community. Rebuild the trust between workers and the workplace. 

Neighborhood: Share ideas, then lead and participate in local projects together. Get to know your neighbors and find commonalities, even if you have different political beliefs. 

Join neighborhoods together: Each neighborhood is connected, build on that power to create widespread change. 

Help others: Do your part to help people who are challenged by precarity- the state of persistent economic and social insecurity, especially for the disadvantaged. Those numbers are increasing each day. More and more people are subject to economic stress and climate challenges. 

If extraterrestrial First Contact does occur someday, it’s unlikely that alien representatives are going to solve our problems. Humans need to work together. 

Photo by Joeyy Lee on Unsplash

Saturday, July 9, 2022

Extraterrestrial First Contact: Hope, Agency, and Dignity


There was a wonderful opinion piece in the Washington Post recently by journalist Amanda Ripley. Her basic question is: why are so many Americans (including journalists) avoiding reading or watching the news? In her examination, she highlights three things that humans want and need. 




Hope is the knowledge that things can get better. Journalists need to provide solutions to problems that they examine. 

Agency is the ability to change things in your life. That means reporters should include specific ideas on how individuals can enact change. 

Dignity is the simple idea that I matter and you matter. Ripley suggests that listening is the best way to treat others with dignity. 

She quoted NPR host Krista Tippet in her story, which is how I found it. I have been reading Tippet’s book “Becoming Wise: An Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living.” It’s a handbook for approaching difficult times. Or perhaps it’s a toolbox for coping with 21st century problems? Her premise is that those tools can help us listen to each other and that can be the foundation needed to create practical solutions. 

First Contact with an extraterrestrial civilization will be difficult, if it occurs someday. It will require listening and understanding. Humans will need to have patience and engage creativity. That’s what I have been exploring in recent years. It may seem far afield from the consideration of extraterrestrial intelligence and the wider universe. But such thinking will be necessary if humans are to cope with and prosper After First Contact. 

Wednesday, February 2, 2022

Extraterrestrial First Contact: The Story of First Contact

It’s a common refrain among social scientists these days: humans need a new story. What kind of story are we talking about? The grand stories that give us a reason to get up in the morning. Storytelling helps us to create our personal identities. They can be just for us, a story that reflects your family history and your personal experience. They can also be shared stories, joining millions in a common theme.

Religions tell such stories. Nations often tell compelling stories. The American Dream is a common story that drove much of the country in the 50’s and 60’s. In the last 20 years, there is talk of the Chinese Dream, the story of China’s growth into a role of international leadership. One story that we lost in the 1990s was the battle between communism and capitalism. It just doesn’t seem relevant in a world where practical capitalism embraces many elements of socialism and Chinese communism has incorporated a new capitalism. The fall of the USSR is often cited as the dramatic end to that story.

Humans need multiple stories to find meaning in life. Change creates the need for new stories and humans are experiencing a period of great tumult. COVID, climate change, political battles, the loss of biological habitats and species; all of these problems weigh on us. Joanna Macy calls it the Great Unravelling. Anxiety creates the need for new stories. The stories can help us to cope with our feelings and be proactive in our response to the challenges.

First Contact with an extraterrestrial civilization would be a new story for humanity, no matter how it would occur. Discovery of a far off signal would be one type of story, profound, but perhaps not immediate. Direct First Contact, if aliens were to visit our solar system, would be another type of story, both profound and immediate. Direct First Contact also would bring with it feelings of fear and concern.

The First Contact story doesn’t have to replace religious or cultural stories that we have as humans. It would be a mistake to do so. I think humans will keep many of their stories, based on religions and cultures, After First Contact. However, First Contact would be a powerful new story and it could help people find new meaning in life.

Now you’re worried. The aliens will provide us new meaning in life? No, not the aliens themselves (or more likely their Artificial Intelligence representatives) at least not from my perspective. The discovery of an extraterrestrial civilization and the fact that we now have evidence that we are not alone in the universe is the new meaning. We may or may not like alien representatives that we meet and they may or may not like us.  Either way, humans will have to find a new perspective and make changes to our civilization to respond to the needs of First Contact. In the case of a far off signal being discovered, those changes may be primarily existential. In the case of Direct First Contact in our solar system, we would need to make substantive changes and do so very quickly.

Yuval Harari explains the need for humans to have stories in his book “21 Lessons for the 21st Century.” He also examines the elements of those stories, which he narrows down to two important parts. “To give meaning to my life, a story needs to satisfy just two conditions. First, it must give me some role to play…Second, it must extend beyond my horizons.”

I’m leaving out a lot in between, so please read his book. It is an excellent examination of the challenges facing the human civilization, both now and into the future.

Let’s discuss the first part of a story: it must give me some role to play. I would argue that every human has a role to play After First Contact. The impact of First Contact would change human civilization. How that change happens- how we react and what we do in response- is not a matter for scientists and world leaders to decide on their own. All humans should have input. I know in the immediate sense that would not be possible, but the premise is important, because it establishes the concept that the scientists and politicians should listen to the wider human community. And in the case of Direct First Contact, that need would increase as immediate decisions would have to be made and a framework for further contact established.

I break down the role of humans in these two ways: every human alive and aware of their surroundings at the time of First Contact would be part of what I call The Bridge Generation. These would be the only humans to know life Before First Contact and After First Contact. That unique perspective will be critical for decision making. Scientists, world leaders, and people watching at home would all be part of the Bridge Generation.

The First Generation is what I would call those who are born into the world After First Contact. They will never know what it was like Before First Contact. Their perspective will be critical because they will not have the same baggage as the Bridge Generation. And yes, those different generations would most likely come into conflict as the First Generation comes to power.

The Bridge Generation and First Generation would set the foundation for human development for hundreds of years. And that is the second of Harari’s story elements: the story must extend beyond my horizons. The decisions we make, especially in a Direct First Contact situation, would impact future generations. Our stories will need to move us forward to a positive future. But if we fail, our human stories could just as easily cause us to shrink from the wider universe and dissolve into conflict and chaos.

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Extraterrestrial First Contact: 2022

Welcome to the New Year!

Did I exude enough positivity in that remark? It’s tough to do. Many humans are experiencing burn-out. That doesn’t make it easy to discuss the coming year.

I’m not making any predictions about the discovery of extraterrestrial life in 2022. I do think the best possibilities will come from observations conducted by the James Webb Space Telescope, currently enroute to L2, a million-mile Lagrange orbit point. The JWST could aid in the discovery of extraterrestrial life by finding a promising chemical composition in a far-off exoplanet. Even then, such a discovery would require many more years of scientific study to determine if life could be present. Another issue for life support on exoplanets is a magnetosphere to protect life from energized particles coming from the parent star. Scientists have been using Hubble Space Telescope data for an investigation and have found the first exoplanet with a magnetosphere.

2022 will be a busy year for space exploration, especially on the moon. I look forward to watching the projects unfold.

We have many issues to consider in space. Superpowers are acting like children and that threatens the safety of astronauts. Russia blew up a satellite sending debris flying in Earth orbit. That was a threat for both the International space station and the new Chinese space station. The rules of space haven't been updated in 50 years and as CNN reports, the UN may be getting ready to do so.

Will 2022 be the year we make First Contact with an extraterrestrial civilization? There are many ongoing SETI science projects that will continue, including Breakthrough Listen. In our Solar system, the Galileo Project will provide our first scientific effort to determine if extraterrestrial intelligence has visited Earth or our neighborhood, primarily through a search for technosignatures.

In terms of Direct Contact, who knows? There have not been any indications that such an event might occur. If it does, we are not ready to handle such contact. One could hope for better planning, but our human pants are on fire, as usual. The big challenges of 2022 will be COVID, the cultural cold war in the United States, the threat to American Democracy, and the imminent Russian invasion of the Ukraine. And, of course, that is a ridiculously American perspective, as Climate Change will be the biggest threat to humanity and continue to impact every nation on Earth.

Perhaps that is the human condition- upheaval and struggle. Unfortunately, that way of living doesn’t provide much time for any sort of proactive planning. Hell, we probably are not prepared to handle the next pandemic.

If First Contact does occur in 2022, we will have to do our do our best. I am like many humans- trying to find hope in troubling times. One thing I know for sure: we can’t solve our problems with conflict and selfishness. Cooperation is not only in our collective best interest but necessary for our survival as a civilization. Let’s get our shit together in 2022, humans.

Photo by Guillermo Ferla on Unsplash

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Extraterrestrial First Contact: Staging an Intervention

I don’t think humanity is ready for First Contact with representatives of an alien civilization. But if aliens (or their artificial intelligence creations) care about the survival of human civilization, contact may have to happen soon, whether we are ready or not. We need a serious intervention.

Think of it like the TV show of the same name: Intervention. Humanity thinks it’s meeting one person to talk about something else entirely and when they walk into the room…blam, space aliens are there to stage an intervention. The head alien asks humanity to have a seat on the couch and the aliens go around the room and each one says how much they love humanity and lists the reasons they are worried about us: climate change, nuclear proliferation, superpower conflicts. The alien group leader says: “You have literally thousands of dedicated human scientists from prestigious institutions telling you about the dangers of climate change and you are still not listening. This will not end well.”

Then, if it follows with the TV show, humanity gets mad and threatens to leave the room. And then, eventually, humanity breaks down crying and admits that it has a problem. What happens next? Well, there is a good possibility our alien interveners would remind us that we have the technology and ideas needed to solve climate change on our own. We just have to get shit done- like, right now.

Okay, perhaps you are annoyed by my silly analogy. Sure, alien representatives may not give two damns about our future. They may even hope we go over the brink and leave them the planet. They may not even exist. I certainly don’t have evidence that they do. My point is that intervention would be a logical reason to say hello, even if aliens don’t think we are ready as a civilization to handle such an event. In the end, First Contact could provide the most valuable gift of all: a new perspective, one that is huge enough to get our asses in gear to solve our own problems.

Yeah, this is how I think, and I’ve done a bunch of thinking in this style. If you want to read more check out my book: “The Extraterrestrial Big Hello: A Guide for What to do When the Aliens Introduce Themselves.” It is available on Amazon worldwide.

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

NASA Doesn't Have a Plan and I'm Not Surprised

NASA Chief Bill Nelson admits the agency doesn't have even a simple plan for what to do if we encounter alien representatives in Earth atmosphere or in our Solar System. He made the admission on PBS Firing Line recently.

“Does NASA have a plan for what it would do if a UAP turned out to be a space alien?” host Margaret Hoover asked Nelson.

“No,” Nelson said, plainly.

And that's not a surprise. Just the act of creating such a plan probably would have led to congressional investigations and admonishments a few years ago. 

And now? If you haven't noticed, our human pants are on fire. Between COVID and Climate Change we have more than we can handle. This is the basic premise of my book: The Extraterrestrial Big Hello: A Guide for What to do When the Aliens Introduce Themselves.” I don't want to take scientists and world leaders away from the very important challenges presented by COVID and Climate Change. In fact, I would hope that we would pump 10 times the resources into dealing with both issues. Maybe 20 times. But, in the meantime, for those of us who are not actively fighting COVID and Climate Change, can we not find a few hours of time to pull together a basic contingency plan for alien First Contact? 

In the book, I propose spending just half the time and resources we waste on worrying about the British Royals. That's all it would take. Just half that amount of time and effort and we could create a basic plan for dealing with the very first elements of First Contact. And that plan needs to go way beyond..."why are you here?" and "are you going to eat us?" The plan would need to address: who leads such an effort? How is it organized? How do we prevent the most powerful nations from controlling such an event?

Anyway, the book is a collection of my thoughts on those matters, for anyone who might be interested. It's a really complicated and challenging subject when you spend the time to carefully consider it. I try to make my consideration something that anyone in the general public could read and understand. Academics seem a bit perturbed by my style in the book. My reply to that criticism is that First Contact would be an event for all humans. All humans need to know what they would be getting into. I am writing for all humans, not just academics. 

The Extraterrestrial Big Hello: A Guide for What to do When the Aliens Introduce Themselves.” It is available on Amazon worldwide.

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Extraterrestrial First Contact: The Human To-do List

Aliens may not want to say hello until we get our human act together. What could that to-do list for humanity entail? It’s all speculation on my part, but here are a few things I would consider important under current conditions:

-COVID-19 under control worldwide

-Internal governmental stability for all nations with nuclear weapons

-Stable relations between primary nuclear weapons nations

-Stable international relations overall

-No disasters requiring global response

Why would aliens care about such things? These major international issues go directly to the state of well-being of our civilization. COVID-19 response is requiring a great deal of focus and resources worldwide. It could be detrimental for humans to be distracted during such a crisis. Unstable international relations could create human conflict in the wake of an alarming announcement, such as First Contact.

However, we have seen brief periods in recent history where we have met those objectives. Just go back to pre-COVID years, perhaps several years back to achieve the internal governmental stability point in the United States, and yet no contact. So, there could be other criteria for extraterrestrial representatives to consider that have not been achieved yet. Those could include the human ability to see out into the universe with greater clarity, and perhaps, an organized approach to solving some mysteries here at home. Here are a few ideas:

-James Webb Space Telescope operational (Projected 2022)

-Intentional use of high-tech equipment to investigate UAP (Galileo Project announced 2021 – this is the latest update from Dr. Loeb, who is organizing the effort)

-Joint international initiative to investigate UAP (Not yet)

That is, of course, my entirely human perspective. Alien representatives could also be waiting for yak mating season to begin in Mongolia. At least the next yak mating season is inevitable (July and August). The top portion of that list is questionable for human achievement. I do think that if extraterrestrials wish us well- meaning, they want to see humans survive our challenges and progress as a civilization- those extraterrestrial representatives would be concerned about the impact of First Contact and would take such matters into consideration. My list is probably off by a mile. But I would place a sizeable bet that if an extraterrestrial civilization is considering saying hello – they will have a list of some sort, perhaps much of it beyond our current comprehension.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash


Thursday, July 29, 2021

Extraterrestrial First Contact: How Scientists Could Lead the Gatekeeping Effort

High information contact with an extraterrestrial civilization would provide many challenges for humanity. As usual, I am not suggesting that any such contact has occurred. I have seen no evidence that intelligent extraterrestrials even exist. However, on this blog I examine the issues that could be raised if the event does occur. I operate on the assumption that this hypothetical extraterrestrial meeting occurs in our Solar System, making high information contact possible, and that any extraterrestrial representatives we meet can communicate in at least one of the human languages, and have had time to research the basics of our society. I know those are a lot of assumptions on my part. Narrowing the topic is the only way to have this discussion.

In such a situation, human governmental leaders would need to take charge of diplomacy and communication. But there would be an important role for scientists, aside from the front end of operating observation and communications technology. High information means that extraterrestrial representatives share what they know about science and technology, to whatever degree. This would require a cautious approach by humanity. Not only could alien information be tough for us to understand, but it could cause major disruptions to human society. So, I have proposed in past blog posts that:

     A. Humans would need to go to school, starting with the alien basics, looking for commonalities as a starting point.

B.  Humans would need an information firewall with a system of gatekeepers to decide what information can be shared with the general Earth population.

I know this is a controversial proposal. Many people would call for unfettered access to alien information. I have two responses to that way of thinking. First, unless the aliens have already processed such communication, so that we can understand their information, it would not do us much good. We would have to develop ways of understanding what they are telling us. A small group of academics would need to be chosen in specific fields, to learn and synthesize. Second, alien information could undermine the foundations of human science. It would need to be handled carefully.

I want to go into more depth about how this could be done. I suggest that humans could utilize the non-profit organization, Science International, for building the framework for information review and dissemination. Science International is an initiative by three largest international science organizations:

International Science Council (ISC)

Forty international scientific Unions and Associations and over 140 national and regional scientific organizations including Academies and Research Councils.

The Inter Academy Partnership (IAP)

A global network consisting of over 140 national and regionals academies of science, engineering, and medicine.

The World Academy of Sciences (TWAS)

A merit-based science academy established for developing countries, uniting 1,000 scientists in some 70 countries.

These groups have each experienced several changes in the last 10 years. There has been a movement towards consolidation of international science organizations. Science International is the effort to connect the three largest organizations on joint projects. Initiatives thus far have included a program to help displaced scientists and a push for open data to aid in research. The development of a gatekeeping framework for alien information review would be a huge leap in responsibility for Science International. The entire structure of such a project would have to be created from scratch. Science International is simply a starting place for such an effort.

I propose that an independent panel be formed by the three organizations that make up Science International, with representatives from the major areas of science. The group should be independent of the United Nations, but in consultation with the UN and, in particular, the Secretary General and the UN Security Council. Science International should develop the framework with input from professional science organizations from across the globe. The final vote on the framework should be conducted in the General Assembly. Nations need to ultimately decide how things move forward. The goal would be to make such an organization as efficient as possible, and to avoid in-fighting and gridlock.

There would be many dynamics at work in such a situation. China, Russia, and the United States would probably try to control things, perhaps through the UN Security Council. Meanwhile, UN professionals would be trying to exert influence and grow their mission. Corporations and other groups would try to exert influence. It will be a cacophony of demands and requests. Science International would have to build a bubble of sorts to shut out that din.

The humans who are learning about alien information and making the decisions about how it should be shared would need to be carefully insulated from the rest of the world. Each representative would need to temporarily resign their professional positions and agree to decide matters objectively. They would need to be paid for their work and not receive outside money from any other group or organization. The potential for leaks and other types of corruption would be incredibly high. A great deal of effort would be required to keep the process free of influence from governments, corporations, religions, and other human groups.

Is that too big a job for an organization as new as Science International? Perhaps. It would be up to the three parent science organizations to provide the expertise, funding, and other support to build the new system from the ground-up. But Science International would be a great place for the process to start.

Photo by Michael Dziedzic on Unsplash

Monday, June 7, 2021

Extraterrestrial First Contact: Support Science

The US government has provided insiders an advance look at their “bombshell” report on Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP). Here is my summation of their findings:

There’s stuff happening in the skies around military operations and it’s not us, but it could be the Chinese or Russians. We don’t think it’s aliens, but honestly we have no evidence one way or another. We just have a bunch of unexplained sightings, some by very experienced military pilots, and confirmation with high tech military instrumentation. We have no idea what it means.

Thanks. Very helpful. We do appreciate the fact that you are owning up to your ignorance. That’s a level of honesty we don’t usually get from the military.

So, where do we go from here? Clearly, the Pentagon will need billions of dollars to study this issue. General Dynamics salespeople are probably reading every UFO book they can get their hands on, to prepare the project bids. That work will also be farmed out to the other usual suspects- Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Raytheon. The entire investigation will be kept top secret. It will take years of work by thousands of consultants and we will end up having to beg for public updates.

Meanwhile, even outside of the military industrial complex folks are battling for position. Understandably, the scientists who have devoted their careers to the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) are not thrilled by the attention UAP have been receiving. SETI scientists have good reason to be concerned. If we become obsessed with UAP investigations, perhaps we won’t care anymore about SETI research? I agree that would be stupid. SETI research is important and it should continue to grow. But to ignore the UAP situation seems like a bad idea. The folks who say they believe UAP are natural or man-made don’t provide any evidence. And quite frankly, that’s just as dumb as the folks who claim UAP must be alien visitation, without any evidence.

I’ll be honest- I didn’t give a crap about UAP or UFOs until the New York Times articles on the subject came out in 2017. Luis Elizondo and his TV show, Unidentified, also grabbed my attention. Those reports contained the first evidence of UFO activity that seemed credible. Now I’m caught up in it like everyone else.

I have a simple suggestion for how to proceed: support science. We’ve been developing our scientific chops for hundreds of years now. Let’s keep on. We need a scientific study of UAP carried out by civilian scientists. Hell, NASA is even considering the subject. Bill Nelson recently spoke out about the subject and NASA has generously suggested that scientists working on NASA projects could consider UAP research. Not a very bold statement, but a nice first step. You have to remember- NASA is scared to death that politicians will turn their research into political fodder. Given their past experiences and our current political nightmare, that’s a realistic concern.

But we can’t turn our attention away from the amazing scientific work that is being conducted currently. Astrophysicists and astronomers are discovering new things about our universe in almost daily revelations. The discovery and confirmation of hundreds of exoplanets and an actual image of a black hole are just two of the revelations. We live in extraordinary times and that is due to the work of thousands and thousands of scientists, each working together, and arguing with each other, in pursuit of knowledge. Particle physics research continues to find new ways to baffle us. Scientists are trying to answer mysteries such as the nature of dark matter and the inner workings of quantum mechanics.

We need to support those scientists. We need to give them adequate funding and we need to better educate ourselves so we can share in their excitement when the next finding comes out. We also need to be educated enough to understand that findings may contradict each other. Some research may have weaknesses, leading to a debate. That debate is not a failure of science- it is science in action.

We need to better support SETI research. It is a partner in our human space exploration. You may say- why study far off star systems when the aliens may be here on Earth? For the sake of argument, let’s say alien technology is here on Earth - doesn’t that mean we need to know even more about where it came from and how aliens are communicating? Even if the aliens sit down and hold a news conference at the United Nations, we are going to want to have a better look at the universe around us and collect our own data.  

I know we have many serious challenges here on Earth. Climate change, nuclear proliferation, cybercrime, and biological hazards threaten to undo our human civilization. We need to pour resources into those issues - serious monetary, scientific, and industrial resources. But we also need to continue the exploration of the universe. We need to know how the material world is organized and what it encompasses.

So, where do we go from here? Support science. Support open inquiry. Continue to debunk conspiracy theories and falsehoods. Have an honest and open conversation about what we find. Don’t allow politicians and other leaders to turn these inquiries into political weapons. They will do that anyway, but we can call them out when they do, and punish them for such cheap maneuvers.

Support science. Support the incredible NASA missions underway as we speak. Humans have multiple vehicles driving around Mars, conducting research, as we speak. That’s pretty damn cool. And just wait until the James Webb space telescope is operational. These are just a few of things it will be investigating. Support scientists and keep an open mind. There is so much we don’t know. Let’s just add UAP to the list and keep on with the good work.

If you want to support SETI efforts consider a donation to the SETI Institute:

For more about these issues check out my book- The Extraterrestrial Big Hello: A Guide for What to do When the Aliens Introduce Themselves.” It is available on Amazon worldwide.

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Extraterrestrial First Contact: After the Pentagon Report - Five Things to do Now

It seems likely that the upcoming Department of Defense report about Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP - more popularly known as UFOs) will just be broad confirmation of what they have already confirmed in parts- there are several  military sightings of UAP that cannot be explained. That doesn’t mean that UAP are the work of aliens. But barring some strange technological aberration in US military hardware or secret operations carried out by the Chinese or Russians, alien activity is certainly a possibility.

So, what the hell do we do next? I have five ideas.

1.      - A robust investigation of UAP with specifically designed instrumentation and cameras. Rather than picking up these UAP by chance, let’s go looking for them with the best gear we can put on planes and ships. 

2.      - A military and civilian partnership to examine activities in near Earth orbit, Earth atmosphere, and the oceans. This would mean the military working with astrophysicists, oceanographers, and others with specialized scientific training to examine UAP. Why astrophysicists? Some of the equipment and techniques they use to search for signals in far off star systems could be repurposed to search closer to home. Why oceanographers? Many reports of UAP involve objects flying into the ocean. A sea search strategy seems prudent. Many people are now calling for a science-based approach.

3.      - A summit between the United States, China, and Russia to discuss the phenomena.

4.      - Organization of a UN response group to take up matters of what should happen if First Contact with an extraterrestrial civilization occurs. They do not have a plan currently. The initial response plan could be organized by the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs.

5.      - The development of long-term international protocols for handling various types of First Contact, with the emphasis on managing interaction between humans and ETI. These protocols should ultimately be presented to the UN General Assembly for approval.

You will notice that this process does not stay confined to the US Military. I think keeping such an investigation top-secret would be a tremendous mistake. It would provoke China and Russia and leave other nations without a say in the matter. It could create increased political tensions for many years.

The search and planning efforts should be done with a fair amount of transparency. While some investigations would have to begin in secret, the process and results of these investigations should be shared with the world public.

First Contact with an extraterrestrial civilization would be an event for all of humanity to share, not only in watching it occur, but helping to determine the path forward. We need to take some basic steps now to prepare. It could happen this year or fifty years from now. It may never happen. But the impact of high information First Contact on the human civilization would be huge. It makes sense to do some sort of basic planning now.

That’s the topic of my new book: - The The Extraterrestrial Big Hello: A Guide for What to do When the Aliens Introduce Themselves.” It is available on Amazon worldwide.

Friday, May 14, 2021

CBS News Poll Shows a Change in Perspective

There is a major change occurring in how Americans perceive the possibility of intelligent extraterrestrials. A new CBS news poll this week shows that dramatically. In a 2010 poll, 47 percent of American surveyed thought there were intelligent extraterrestrials on other planets. In 2017, that number was 56 percent. The latest poll, taken in late March 2021, shows 66 percent. That's a big increase in the last 11 years. It reflects what we have been seeing in mainstream media coverage of the issue and the related question of UAP activity, better known as UFOs. The CBS survey also had interesting results when it comes to UFO questions. This may be primarily an American change in perception. But my gut tells me that other international surveys could show the same change in perception. Perhaps humans are ready for a Big Hello? And perhaps we need to talk about what happens next, after First Contact? That's the topic of my new book The Extraterrestrial Big Hello: A Guide for What to do When the Aliens Introduce Themselves.” It is available on Amazon worldwide.

Photo by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Extraterrestrial First Contact: Why the Aliens Should be Polite and Say Hello

If aliens are in our solar system they should really say hello. Why? The paranoia caused by mysterious visits to Earth could cause serious problems for humans. What paranoia you say? The Department of Defense is expected to release a report about what they call Unidentified Aerial Phenomena. UAP is the new term for what has in the past been called UFOs. Some of what that report will contain has already been leaked. The Pentagon has confirmed that there are several instances of military sightings of UAP that cannot be explained. It seems unlikely the DOD report will say much beyond that, but that alone would be major news.

You can already see the change in media coverage of UAP in terms of tone and number of stories on the subject. The New York Times and Washington Post have been reporting on the military sightings for a couple of years now. In recent days, the New Yorker, NBC, NPR, and other established media outlets have joined in.

There are concerns that China or Russia could be responsible for these UAP, which is alarming from a military perspective. Many of the reports include descriptions of aerial maneuvers that no known human aircraft could accomplish. If humans have that technology the US Department of Defense is concerned, because they don’t. And if the activity is not human, but rather controlled by extraterrestrial intelligence, that raises huge questions: Who are they? What are they doing here?  Do they threaten our security?

All of that creates paranoia and not just for the United States. If China and Russia are not responsible for those UAP, it seems likely they would be quite concerned, as well. And what happens when humans are concerned about their security? Often knee jerk reactions. Ezra Klein has an interesting piece in the New York Times today that talks about those issues.

Nations concerned about their safety could take measures to increase their military technology and resources. They could aim nuclear weapons into space. They could be so busy watching for aliens that they end up having conflicts with each other. You would like to believe that an extraterrestrial mystery would bring us together as humans and that nations would put more resources into scientific research to help answer these questions. But the military buildup seems inevitable in such a situation.

Malevolent aliens would be morons to reveal themselves in such ways before an attack. And if they have the technology to visit out planet, they are probably not dumb. Benevolent aliens might take such UAP actions in order to prepare us slowly for their existence. However, that is only helpful for so long. Now we are headed into a level of concern that could make humans even more dangerous than we already are. So, if aliens have been visiting, it’s time to say hello.

As I point out in my new book- The The Extraterrestrial Big Hello: A Guide for What to do When the Aliens Introduce Themselves” aliens would want to say hello to all humans at the same time. Making First Contact with one nation could make the event political and quickly turn it into an international relations problem. What should benevolent or at least neutral aliens do? I suggest a welcome to all humans at the same time using the news media and communications networks here on Earth. I explore a few ways to do that in the book. It is available on Amazon worldwide.