Hot Air: Look To The Skies!

UFOs were the topic in the Big Production Room at the WFHB studios yesterday AM.

Author and researcher Susan Lepselter joined me to record this week’s edition of Big Talk, set to air this afternoon at 5:30pm.


Lepselter wrote the book, The Resonance of Unseen Things: Poetics, Power, Captivity, and UFOs in the American Uncanny (University of Michigan Press, 2016). She’s been talking to individuals and groups who’ve had UFO sighting and abduction experiences for better than 20 years now. She’s not at all into proving or disproving the existence of extraterrestrial visitors to this rock. Her curiosity is piqued specifically by the stories and lore experiencers share. What, she asks, do their memories and stories tell us about…, well, us?

Times of anxiety usually see a spate of UFO abduction and contact stories. When The Bomb was the big scare in the 1950s and ’60s, UFO sightings proliferated. Then, in the ’70s with faith in the US government cratering, women becoming liberated, the relationship between the races being redefined, and other society-shaking phenomena, the abduction-cum-medical probing claims took off. We’re in yet another age of anxiety these days and — wouldn’t you know it? — the alien visitors narrative again is ascendant.

Big Talk airs every Thursday at 5:30pm on WFHB, 91.3 FM.

Big-Assed Numbers

Some things to consider:

  • It takes light 4.3 years to reach Earth from our nearest neighbors, the three stars of the Alpha Centauri system. The velocity of light, natch, is the cosmic superhighway’s speed limit. Physicists generally agree that for any material object to be propelled at anything close to the speed of light, it would take a nearly-infinite expenditure of energy to get it moving that fast.
  • Our own, modest, Earthly technology has only achieved speeds of 430,000 mph (the Parker Solar Probe was aided by the enormous pull of the Sun’s gravity). That is a mere 0.064 percent of the speed of light. At that rate, a similar mission to Alpha Centauri would take some 58.8 million years to reach its destination.
  • Let’s assume an alien civilization has developed a supercharged hot rod engine capable of moving a space ship much faster. How much faster? A hundred percent? That means it’d take only 29 million years to get from Alpha Centauri to here. A thousand percent? Now we’re talking a mission that’d last some 58,000 years. A hell of a gamble — wouldn’t you think? — for a civilization to mount a trip to a destination that just might not exist in 580 centuries.
  • Most star systems are many, many, many times farther away than Alpha Centauri. My calculator is incapable of providing me with the proper mileage and duration figures needed for those journeys.
  • Whichever star system’s inhabitants hope to visit Earth — out of all the billions and billions of planets in our Solar System that they might think to drop in on — would have come up with a propulsion system that is far and away beyond our very wildest imaginations.
  • Could it happen? Certainly. Is it probable that it could happen and one of the billions of civilizations out there not only has visited us but is continuing to visit us — out of all the possible destinations they could have selected — and has only interfaced with a select number of random humans in remote locales? Now we’re talking about probability figures akin to the number of miles in a light year.
  • Despite the improbability of it all, I’m four-square in favor continuing to listen to people who tell stories of UFO experiences and trying to understand them, as well as committing resources to a rigorous search for extraterrestrial intelligence via monitoring any and all conceivable means of communication from the distant stars.
  • All of this, as Dr. Lepselter concurs, reminds us what a fragile, tiny, preposterously insignificant speck of dust our planet is in the cosmos. We self-important humans need constant, heavy doses of that kind of humility.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: