Extraordinary claims. Ordinary investigations.

A young astronomer’s view on UFOs

Here’s a 32 year-old Carl Sagan speaking about flying saucers.

Fascinating bit of history. In that same year, the young astronomer published the book “Intelligent Life in the Universe”, along with Soviet Iosef Shklovskii. In that book, a scientific collaboration during the Cold War, Sagan and his Soviet fellow would delve and speculate into questions that unfortunately have not changed very much half a century later.

This is both because they were visionaries – the ubiquity of exoplanets was by no means a given in the 1960s, much to the contrary – and also because we still have not made contact nor found any conclusive evidence of intelligent life elsewhere in the Universe. Sadly.

This book is also very notable because, even before one Swiss guy exploited the idea, Sagan and Shklovskii analyzed seriously the idea of gods as ancient astronauts. Even a famous Sumerian tablet with several planets is discussed, decades before another alleged “expert” made a lot of fuss about it.

Now, back to the video interview, the man besides Sagan is also very notable, and not only because of the eypatch (due to an automobile accident) or the fact he lights up a smoking pipe. He’s Thornton Page, a noted astronomer and previously part of the Robertson panel on UFOs. Most importantly, along with the same Carl Sagan, he would promote a UFO symposium on the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

That’s right, in 1969, one of the most representative institutions of science, the one that actually publishes Science, held a symposium about UFOs. Paul E. McCarthy has a very interesting dissertation on the backstage of this episode of UFO, and science, history: Politicking and Paradigm Shifting: James E. McDonald and the UFO case study. [hattip to Leonardo Stern]

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  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Dagg Erstab, FoxArtCultTech. FoxArtCultTech said: A young astronomer’s view on UFOs http://goo.gl/fb/lRlWq [...]

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