Some scientists and ufologists are convinced that alien life visits earth-By Cheryl Winkelman, STAFF WRITER
We are not alone in the universe if the numerous sightings of unidentified flying objects are to be believed. Residents of planet Earth recounted seeing 105 UFOs to the National UFO Reporting Center in only the first 16 days of July, and many were in California.
A Los Angelian saw a craft made up of two circles — one with several spinning orbs — floating straight up into the sky.
Someone in Pittsburg titled his claim Holy Motherlode of a Mother Ship and wrote about viewing smaller ships entering and leaving a big vessel the size of five football fields.
Both accounts are likely to be believed not just by ufologists, whove spent years investigating those unexplained floaters in the sky, but by astronomers as well. Though the two groups may not agree on much, both have come to the conclusion that we are probably not the only beings in the cosmos.
Many recent UFO sightings have been reported from the Central Valley in Lodi, Stockton and Tracy, said Chuck Reever, the director of investigations for Mutual UFO Network, an international organization trying to resolve the enigma of UFOs that includes actor Dan Akroyd as a lifetime member.
Once a sighting is reported, MUFON, as it is commonly called, may conduct a telephone or face-to-face interview, Reever said.
Photographs and other anecdotal evidence is then collected, including the size of the object, when it was seen and its possible distance from the viewer.
Any physical evidence, such as pieces of material that cannot be identified as man-made, may be turned over to researchers. About 300 scientists donate their time to the all-volunteer organization, said International Director Jack Schuessler, who himself was an engineer with NASAs Johnson Space Center for 25 years.
While about 1,200 cases are investigated annually, only about 10 to 20 percent remain unexplainable. Calls to, for example, the weather bureau to de-termine if balloons were launched or the military rule out some cases automatically.
MUFON, founded in 1969, is now taking 37 years of paper reports and turning them into electronic files so patterns and commonalities in sightings can be noted, much like any intelligence agency works, Schuessler added.
The group has concluded extraterrestrial life is in fact out there, landing on the Earth, but people shouldn't be too worried.
"I don't think it's frightening. It's hopeful," Schuessler said.
Man could, for example, learn about the advanced propulsion technique used by many of the UFOs.
Members of the science community are equally as optimistic. Jack Welch, professor in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence at the University of California, Berkeley, said finding something somewhere is a chance to view our future. Maybe they've figured out how to live with one another and how to survive their leaders, he said.
The problem is that, to date, no life has been found outside Earth, though its existence seems almost certain, he said.
One reason is that about 200 planets in the Milky Way Galaxy were discovered around stars about 10 years ago.
Scientists are looking — and hoping — for real, credible, physical evidence, and only one very controversial piece exists, said Seth Shostak, senior astronomer with the SETI Institute (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence).
The discovery, made 10 years ago, was a meteorite containing reportedly fossilized, one-cell Martians, but many scientists still view that skeptically.
Shostak is just as hopeful as the ufologists. SETI, the premier research institute for astrobiology, is in the process of building the Allen Telescope Array that will contain, when completed, 350 antennas each 20 feet in diameter. They will check for, among other things, radio signals from other beings.
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