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There’s something in the air, but is it alien?
TYPE certain phrases into Google, and the world’s most popular searches will appear.
Tellingly, spell out ‘is there’ and the sentence automatically continues ‘life on Mars’ – but something tells me and this isn’t a reference to the Bowie lyric.
Are we alone? Does life really exist in the huge black space that encompasses our tiny planet?
After a UFO was spotted above Bury earlier this month I was determined to jump to the rational conclusion.
But the possibility an alien spaceship could have hovered over the town was simply far too tantalising to leave alone.
And no — despite watching the X Files avidly in my early teenage years, there is no ‘I want to believe’ poster pinned to my bedroom wall.
Like it or not, the question of alien life is not just one for a few loonies, but is a fundamental debate we should all be having.
It is one that has relevance despite age, personal philosophy or religious leanings — and even ‘I have no idea’ is a valid argument.
And the issue simply won’t be ignored. Natural spectacles such as Monday’s Perseid meteor shower only add to the maddening curiosity we feel when we look to the heavens.
Until categorical scientific proof becomes common knowledge and humans really do make contact with little green men, debate will rage. But you only have to look at the strong imaginative pull films depicting a life outside our Earth’s realms have — Star Wars, ET and Avatar to name but a few — to know I’m not the only inquisitive one.
In fact, Roman historian Livy reported ‘phantom ships seen gleaming in the sky’ in 214 BC in his historic text Ab Urbe Condita Libri — the Earth’s earliest ever UFO sighting, perhaps?
But it seems — outwardly at least — our own Government no longer believes recording possible sightings of extraterrestrial life is of use to the public’s safety.
The Ministry of Defence closed its dedicated UFO desk in December 2009, despite receiving more than 500 reports of sightings in its final year. And this is where conspiracy theories come in — maybe powerful individuals know more than we do about life on distant planets?
Or maybe sightings of strange aircraft and objects in the sky are top secret army prototypes we weren’t suppose to notice.
After all, there is much we do not know about what governments get up to behind our backs — as Edward Snowden’s revelations have proved.
But somehow, I can’t imagine the skies above Greater Manchester would be chosen as the ideal testing location for top secret drones.
Whatever UFOs are, where they come from is something even scientists can’t agree on.
Experts contradict each other frequently — with camps arguing life outside our galaxy is statically likely and that our Earth is an amazing anomaly in an otherwise empty space.
But we know there are other planetary systems circling other stars, so as long as the experts watch deep space in search of intelligent life, other civilisations could be out there.
But where are they? Do they even know we exist? Or have we already lived side by side in ignorance for thousands of years?
The plain truth is in all likelihood none of us will have concrete answers in our own lifetime.
Best to ponder, argue, and keep an open mind.
Oh, and cross our fingers we’re on the winning side if a War of the Worlds-esque battle scenario ever does come about.
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