This has been a tremendous month in news regarding that age old question of “Are we alone in the universe?” It all started on October 1st with an update regarding the mysterious “Tabby’s Star” which was discovered by a group at Yale last September and has expressed three distinct behaviors that have left scientists baffled. Some experts have suggested an alien megastructure, known as a Dyson Sphere, may be responsible (more on that later). The next development stems from the latest Clinton email dump, which included a few messages about aliens sent to former Obama advisor, and current Hillary Clinton campaign chairman, John Podesta. The emails discuss the possible disclosure of evidence that aliens exist, as well as plans to obtain “zero point energy” from friendly extraterrestrial intelligence (ETI). The man who sent those messages was astronaut Edgar Mitchell, the sixth person to walk on the moon. Finally, the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) ran a Fourier transform analysis of over 2.5 million stars and found 234 of them to display light similar in nature to our lasers. This discovery verifies a prediction made in 2012 that such patterns would be used by extraterrestrial races to communicate with distant planets.
So what exactly is going on here? Is it just a coincidence that these discoveries come to light at the same time as the Podesta email dump? Or is there something nefarious taking place behind the scenes and far away from the minds of the masses? I think both are true. It is a coincidence because the reports being given now are the result of months and years worth of work. It is a happy coincidence, to be sure. A convergence of several monumental developments, but most likely not a highly coordinated effort by the lizard people from Nibiru who operate from a hollow mountain in Antarctica and wrote 50 Shades of Grey just for laughs. Besides, there are always nefarious things taking place behind the scenes, so playing that card here is sort of like declaring that water is wet.
In these news stories there are two distinct points of view being expressed. Both Podesta and Mitchell are like Fox Mulder in a certain regard: They want to believe. On the other hand, the scientists at the SDSS and the group studying Tabby’s Star are like Dana Scully by exhausting every other possible explanation for these events before seriously considering aliens as an answer.
Tabby’s Star (or KIC 8462852, if you prefer), was first brought into the spotlight last September. It stood out from the pack by having strange dimming patterns over the past few years. In January LSU physics and astronomy professor Bradley Shaefer published findings that the star in question has dimmed a whopping 20% between 1890 and 1989. It was then suggested by independent scientist Michael Hippke that the evolution of camera technology could be the reason for those observations and scientific bickering ensued. Hippke’s rebuttal was later revised and published but the mystery remained. The next puzzle piece was first published in August, 2016 and then updated October 1st by Benjamin Montat and Joshua Simon.
The SDSS findings involve not just one, but potentially 234 star systems that house intelligent life
Montat and Simon trudged through four years of data acquired by the Keplar Space Observatory, which was geared to find habitable planets, and mapped out four years worth of Tabby’s Star data. They found that it is currently dimming at an even faster rate than Shaefer had suggested, meaning that the more we observe this star the stranger it gets. Various theories have been put forth to explain this behavior, and over time they have each become less and less likely as more data is produced. Except for the alien megastructure theory, that is.
There is a school of thought that a “Dyson Sphere” is responsible for the dimming of KIC 8462852. The “Dyson Sphere” concept was popularized in 1960 by Freeman Dyson, but can be traced back to the 1937 sci-fi novel Star Maker by Olaf Stapledon. It is massive artificial structure built by an alien race intended to harness the energy of a star, to provide for the advanced power needs that a race capable of building such a device would have.
The exciting or terrifying aspect of this theory is that the light we have been observing from Tabby’s star is 1,500 light years away which means that if a Dyson Sphere is responsible for the dimming, whatever race that built it is currently 1,500 years more advanced than when they achieved that milestone. Let’s hope they have used their technology for good.
The SDSS findings involve not just one, but potentially 234 star systems that house intelligent life, linked to each other by coordinated bursts of light that are aimed at other stars. The most advanced lasers we currently have can reach as far as 1000ly into outer space. Many of the planets found are at least 8000ly away, but in theory a species at just beyond our current level of technological advancement could use such a method to signal to the sky that they exist and are intelligent (which is exactly what we started to do as soon as we could). What’s more, a 2012 paper written by Prof. Ermanno F Borra predicted the circumstances surrounding this recent discovery.
Once again a list of possible explanations was compiled and one by one they were examined and discarded. The sole possibility remaining that doesn’t involve little green men is, and I quote: “The signals are due to highly peculiar chemical compositions in a small fraction of galactic halo stars”. But if it isn’t that, it is most likely aliens. Oh, and the Department of Energy (which has had some recent public relations issues thanks to the popularity of Stranger Things) is one of the major funding sources for the SDSS. How’s that for a fun fact?
These developments tend to add some serious weight to the recently leaked emails sent to John Podesta, who was Chief of Staff for three years under Bill Clinton before accepting an advisor role for the Obama administration in 2013, where he stayed until recruited by Hillary Clinton to become her campaign chairman in February of 2015. In the last month of his tenure under Obama he was contacted by astronaut and fellow UFO enthusiast Edgar Mitchell about making progress in the effort to disclose government knowledge of extraterrestrial activities. Unfortunately the meeting planned in the email never took place. Podesta tweeted after transitioning to the Clinton camp “Finally, my biggest failure of 2014: Once again not securing the #discloure of the UFO files. #thetruthisstilloutthere“
Mitchell tried once more to get in touch with Podesta in August, 2015, but nothing came of it, and he died in February of this year. The effort to educate the public about these issues is multi-tiered and ongoing. It is a cause shared by many people from a variety of backgrounds, a number of whom have some seriously impressive credentials. Apart from the astronaut and political advisor already named there is former CIA director R.H. Hilenkoeter, Ret. USAF Colonel Charles Halt, Ronald Reagan famously alluded to it during a speech to the United Nations. Jimmy Carter has also spoken his mind about the issue, along with dozens of other very prestigious leaders, more often than not during their retirement years. The list goes on and on.
The reason that this discussion has been ongoing with no end in sight is that proof has been hard to come by in the world of Astronomy, and not for lack of searching. Although it isn’t quite time to start pouring champagne and running victory laps, the UFO community is closer than ever to that point where the general public can no longer deny the notion that ETI is real.
It could very well be that history looks back at this month as the moment we began to get real answers about our place in the universe.
As I was preparing this article, I kept asking myself if these events would lead to the critical mass needed for full on-public acceptance of ETI. Considering how much evidence has surfaced only to be forgotten or disregarded so far, this may just turn out to be another blip on the radar. But the crucial difference between these findings and previous disclosures is that the sceptical scientists are starting to warm up to the idea, which is a big deal. In the X-Files, whenever Dana Scully is forced to confront the strange and unlikely theories of Mulder as the truth, it is a big deal. Because she represents sanity, rationality, and fact-based knowledge. Scully is the voice of reason, and better represents the perspective of viewers than Mulder, who is way out in left field all of the time (even if he does end up being right, he is still portrayed as weird and unconventional).
There are a number of approaches that a person can take when dealing with these matters. You can be a true believer who is the butt of a number of tin foil hat jokes, but can recite quotes, events and other acquired knowledge til the cows come home. You can be a healthy sceptic that demands a good amount of evidence from authoritative sources before you even begin to entertain the notion that aliens exist. You could be apathetic about the whole matter, which probably means that you haven’t read this far because you really don’t care about any of this. Or you could be in denial, terrified by the implications, unshakable in your assurance that any number of facts, or quotes or discoveries made are pure hogwash, end of story. I’m sure there are a few subsets of those approaches, but more likely than not you will fall in one of those four categories.
Maybe one day the world will be able to witness a parade of UFO’s descending down upon the UN building, or the Super Bowl, or whatever. Maybe that sort of extreme approach is the only thing that will set this matter to rest once and for all. Or maybe we’d just explain it all away as a publicity stunt for a new reality show.
Yet again, it could very well be that history looks back at this month as the moment we began to get real answers about our place in the universe. Maybe every conference, call for disclosure, UFO video and scientific discovery represents another drop in the pond that will eventually grow into an ocean of evidence that profoundly changes our understanding of ETI. I’m sure that there will be the ETI equivalent of Anti-Vaxxers and Moon Landing Hoaxers fighting that process every step of the way, because no matter how advanced we become, we will always be essentially us.
Either way it is a very exciting time to be a living speck of insignificance residing on a rock that is violently hurtling through the infinite vastness and mystery of the universe.
Kevin Mooseles is a repeat offender in the Escapist freelance pool. He has spent the past six months writing book 1 of a new epic horror/gonzo/political thriller series The Resistance is Dead” which began with the question “What if Bernie Sanders was president during a zombie apocalypse?” and grew from there. Book 1 “The Outbreak” was recently released on kindle and Book 2 “President Zombie” will begin publication on election day, with several chapters released each month as an episodic approach to world building.