A SETI Talks sponsored by Carl Kruse, Chair of the Princeton Alumni Association of Germany.
In June of this year, an unclassified version of the U.S. Department of Defense released its preliminary report on unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP). The report cataloged and investigated records of unexplained encounters seen in the sky by U.S. Navy ships and fighter jets. The report’s firmest conclusion is that the vast majority of UAPs do represent physical objects, and their surprising maneuvers are not caused by any U.S. advanced technology programs. Nor are they evidence that those objects came from outer space. So, what are they?
Recent UAP sightings have so far failed to generate interest among the scientific community. Part of the reason could be the apparent taboo around UAP phenomena, connecting it to the paranormal or pseudoscience while ignoring its history. Should scientists care about these events? Why should we care? All good questions, and rightly so.
To address these questions and discuss how we could scientifically study UAPs, we invited two scientists to discuss their thoughts. Dr. Jacob Haqq Misra, SETI astronomer and senior research investigator at the Blue Marble Space Institute of Science and Dr. Ravi Kopparapu, planetary scientist and an astrophysicist at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. Both co-wrote two articles, one in Scientific American published in July 2020 and another in the Washington Post in June 2021, and advocated for a scientific investigation of UAPs by interdisciplinary teams of scientists. Kopparapu and Haqq-Misra emphasize that discarding the taboo surrounding this phenomenon would generate genuine scientific inquiry in actually finding out what UAPs are.
Molly Bentley, host and producer of Big Picture Science, will moderate this conversation. Molly and the two astronomers will discuss the taboo surrounding this phenomenon and how interdisciplinary teams should conduct a genuine scientific inquiry to understand those UAPs. As Sagan concluded in the 1969 debate, “scientists are particularly bound to have open minds; this is the lifeblood of science.” We do not know what UAP are, and this is precisely why we as scientists should study them.
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