Mankind has always wondered what exists beyond the stars, and searched for signs of intelligent life ‘out there’. It is interesting that when examining new phenomena, we interpret the evidence of our eyes through our previous experiences. Whenever we look at an object, our brains rapidly assess visual clues to make a determination of what we are seeing. Some of these processes will involve ‘implicit cognition’, where our unconscious memory, experience and perception will determine how the brain decides what it is seeing. So that, for example, if we look at a dog, we can recognize it as a dog, even if we have never seen that breed of dog before.
However, when the object we see is unlike anything we have encountered before—an alien perhaps, or a UFO—the brain has less data to work with, and so, more of these unconscious cognitive processes will need to be used in order to decode what we are looking at. All the conscious entity of our brain can do, is theorize within its current knowledge base. In order for our brain to put itself to its fullest use, it must rely on these intuitive, and not always reliable, assumptions.
This may be one explanation of why reported alien phenomena often closely corresponds with current beliefs about the world and our place in it.
That’s one explanation. There are, of course, others.
Here are 10 different ‘looks’ that alien-lifeforms have adopted.
The Greek historian, Plutarch gave a written account of an extra-terrestrial sighting on a battlefield during the third Mithidratic war, sometime between 75 and 63 BC. He wrote, “the air opened and appeared a rapidly descending object resembling a flame, which appeared like a vase in shape and like a glowing annealed metal in color. Both armies, frightened by the sighting, withdrew.”
The alien ship seemed, in fact, to resemble a Greek urn.
The Roman historian, Livy, recorded in The History of Rome, written around 27 BC “phantom ships had been seen gleaming in the sky”. Although these ships may have been alien craft, they looked like entirely conventional ships. It is also possible that this sighting was an example of a Fata Morgana optical illusion, where light is refracted through air of different densities, and bends upwards.
Because our eyes view things in a straight line, it can appear that objects, such as a ship, sitting in the sea, can appear to be floating above it.
9 A War Between Heaven and Hell
In April 1561, the skies over Nuremberg were filled with strange objects, and smoke could be seen rising from the ground, as if some of the objects had crashed.
The scene was captured by Hans Glaser, wood-cutter, which was the medieval equivalent of a photo-journalist. He depicted a variety of shapes, including blood-red crosses, lead-black orbs and a long spear.
The scene was said to have been witnessed by a number of Nuremberg residents, who saw it, naturally enough, as a sign from God. Glaser wrote, “At first there appeared in the middle of the sun two blood-red semi-circular arcs, just like the moon in its last quarter. And in the sun, above and below and on both sides, the color was blood, there stood a round ball of partly dull, partly black ferrous color. Likewise, there stood on both sides and as a torus about the sun such blood-red ones and other balls in large number, about three in a line and four in a square, also some alone. In between these globes there were visible a few blood-red crosses, between which there were blood-red strips…”
Which certainly sounds alarming.
He claimed that these objects then began to fight with the sun for more than an hour, each eventually falling burned to the ground. Glazer viewed the phenomenon as a sign that Nurembergians should “mend their lives and faithfully beg God, that He may avert His wrath.”
Germany had been in the midst of the Protestant Reformation since Martin Luther pinned his 95 Theses to the door of a church in 1517, and God, and the possibility of eternal damnation was never very far from anyone’s mind.
8Aliens in a Zeppelin 1897
The first airship was built in France in 1852, and the first Zeppelin was built in Germany in 1893, changing aviation’s future from single operator vehicles to a passenger aircraft. The distinctive cigar-shaped body of the Zeppelin was instantly recognizable and the public interest in this revolutionary mode of travel spread around the world.
Beginning in November 1876, and continuing for 20 years, mysterious sightings of cigar-shaped craft were reported across California, Texas and the Great Lakes. In 1897, one of these craft were witnessed by the occupants of a courthouse in Nebraska, including the jury, lawyers and even the judge. It was recorded as having “bright white light and colored lights around it, and was oval shaped with a box-like structure hanging from it and a propeller at the stern”, which sounds rather like a cross between a zeppelin and a hot air balloon. And the judiciary of Harrison, Nebraska, were not alone. Dozens of other sightings were reported, not all of them quite so credible.
In 1897, Alexander Hamilton told how he saw a zeppelin-esque craft with “6 of the strangest beings I ever saw” standing in the basket, winching up one of his cows into the craft and sweeping it from existence. The craft apparently then rose out of sight. Hamilton went so far as to get sworn affidavits of his honesty from his neighbors, and the story spread as quickly as the common cold.
Eventually, however, it was revealed that Hamilton belonged to a liars club, where he was known to be an avid storyteller and his credibility was irrevocably doomed.
7 Fiery Foo Fighter Nazi Aliens
During World War 2, Germany was rumored to have developed unusual prototype aircraft, and was known to have been experimenting with propulsion technology and rockets. There were several sightings of these fighter air craft, dubbed foo fighters because ‘foo’ meant something ridiculous or strange.
It is certainly true that the Germans have built some strange machines, but these new machines were unlike any other aircraft of the time. They were also made of fire.
Witnesses said the machines were said to be able to rise and hover like a helicopter, with ‘a great power’ used to launch them, and they moved with a speed that was almost as surprising as its combustibility. No other terrestrial machine could match it.
Despite this obvious advantage, the Germans did not seem to capitalise on their invention, and after the war was over, the machines disappeared from sight, said to have been smuggled from their ‘secret underground bases in Antarctica’, where they had been built. This prompted sightings across America.
Whether the Germans had managed to create a technology far in advance of any then known, or whether, as some proposed, they somehow acquired alien technology is unknown.
6The Original Flying Saucer Aliens
In 1947, flying saucers (and a crescent shaped craft) were spotted over Mount Rainier in Washington. The report was regarded as credible because the witness were two airline pilots, with experience in recognizing aircraft. One of the pilots maintained that, although he had never seen anything like it, he was sure that it must have been an experimental craft built by the government in some top-secret facility. The other was not so sure.
The two airmen, who were pilot and co-pilot on a commercial flight, maintained that the disc-shaped craft were traveling at high speeds. They saw one very large saucer, leading four others. As the first group disappeared over the horizon, another group appeared. They managed to follow the strange ships for 15 minutes, and noticed that they left no vapor trails in their wake.
Luckily, the aliens seemed to have come in peace. The pilot said, ‘Whoever controlled them wasn’t trying to hurt anyone.’
Which makes sense, because advanced civilizations are seldom barbaric, apparently. The descriptions that they gave of the flying saucers were so detailed they have remained in the public consciousness ever since.
5 The Bright Aliens of Salem
In 1952, America underwent its own alien invasion. There was a wave of sightings, including over the White House itself, and many Americans began to wonder whether judgement day had arrived. For two weeks in July 1952, objects were sighted by pilots, and by radar operators. Fighter jets were even sent to intercept craft, which disappeared as soon as they were approached.
The objects were described as orange balls of fire. President Truman was even said to have asked the Air Force for an explanation. They maintained that the phenomena were caused by mirages due to temperature variations, creating the same Fata Morgana illusions that had been seen in Ancient Rome, mixed with a large dollop of mass hysteria.
A photograph of the mysterious objects was taken in Salem, Mass by a Coast Guard who took the picture through a window. The four craft were also seen by another coastguard.
It has been alleged that the bright elliptical images seen in the picture may be either the result of a deliberate hoax through a double exposure of the negative, or it may simply be the reflection of some rather more home-grown street lights in the glass.
4 The Original Alien Kidnappers
Up until 1953, alien invaders appear to have been entirely peaceful tourists, just passing through. However, when they, allegedly, kidnapped a US airplane, they seemed to be more predator than hitchhiker.
In November 1953, radio operators in Michigan reported an unidentified target in the restricted airspace of the Great Lakes, which marks the border between America and Canada, and a fighter jet was scrambled from Kinross Air Force Base to investigate.
The pilot and his radar operator reported that they were having problems tracking ‘the bogey’, and air traffic controllers on the ground watched the two blips on the screen, as the fighter plane closed in on its target. The blips grew closer together, and then appeared to merge into each other. It was feared that the two craft had crashed, but they had not.
The unknown craft proceeded on its course into Canadian airspace, and the fighter plane, simply disappeared. No further response was received from the fighter plane, and a search and rescue operation was launched, with Canadian assistance.
No trace was ever found of the plane or its crew, and many theories have been put forward about what happened, including suggestions that the Kinross plane was swallowed up by an alien craft, which then simply flew away.
3The First Sexual Contact
There are all kinds of encounters with aliens, some of them close, and some very close. Elizabeth Klarer was the first woman to claim to have had an encounter with extra-terrestrials that resulted in the birth of a child.
She had her first alien experience at the age of seven, meeting an alien named Akon, with whom she communicated telepathically. As an adult, living near Johannesburg in South Africa, she witnessed a space ship land on a nearby hilltop (later dubbed Flying Saucer Hill). Her childhood friend Akon was aboard the ship, and waved through a porthole at her, but a ‘barrier of heat’ prevented him leaving the ship.
However, this problem was resolved a few months later when he took her for a tour of his space ship and she was able to see its ‘earth observation lens’, before they were transported to the mothership. When she was returned to the hilltop, Elizabeth and Akon kissed and he revealed that she was, in fact, a reincarnated Venusian and his long-lost soul mate.
The visits continued, and at the age of 49, Elizabeth conceived a child. She apparently delivered the child on the alien’s planet and left him there to be raised by his father (of course). The entire trip, including pregnancy and delivery, took around 4 months. That is, in earth time. In alien time, it was closer to nine years.
However, the time was not wasted, because Elizabeth Klarer came back to earth with a message of ‘cosmic consciousness’, that people should have love, peace and understanding.
2 The Hitchhiking Aliens
When considering reported sightings, one of the most important factors that investigators consider is the credibility of the eye-witness, so when an Anglican missionary priest reports seeing a UFO, it is worth considering.
In 1959, the Reverend William Booth Gill was working as a missionary in Papua New Guinea when he noticed a ‘sparkling object’ in the sky. For the next four hours the Reverend took notes and watched the light, along with around 30 other witnesses.
After about 45 minutes the light disappeared briefly, then came back, bringing with it 3 smaller objects. The ‘mothership’ then began to emit a blue light, and it came so close to the missionary that he could see 4 alien figures standing on the top of the ship.
They only left when it began to rain. The following night the ships were back, and the 4 figures were again standing on the top of the ship. This time they were waving. Rev Gill waved back. Then they all went to dinner. After all an alien is an alien, but a man has to eat.
The Australian government was so convinced by the missionary’s report and by his credibility as an eye witness, that they ordered an investigation. They concluded that the phenomena probably had a natural cause, and the ‘human shapes’ might be due to variations in ‘cloud density’. Which is a polite way of saying, ‘Cobblers, mate’.
The missionary, however, believed that the aliens may have been stranded and their waving was their way of trying to thumb a lift. Reverend Gill spent much of the rest of his life talking and writing a guide about his experiences.
1 The First Robotic Alien
Even aliens evolve. While early encounters with aliens seem to have been with exotic but definitely humanoid forms, by 1973 they seem to have morphed into alien-robot type creatures. When police chief Jeff Greenhaw received a call from a woman who said she had seen aliens land in his town, he decided to investigate, sensibly taking his gun and his camera with him.
On his arrival, he found nothing unusual, but as an extra precaution, he searched a dirt road near the site. Then, in his headlights, he noticed a figure walking strangely. Chief Greenhaw was concerned that he was injured. When he drew up alongside him, he realised that the creature was wearing a metallic body-suit that seemed to emit a bright light. The officer asked the stranger if he was ok, but he did not reply. And so, the police officer did what anyone would do, he started taking pictures. However, the flash of the camera seemed to frighten the creature, who ran off into the night with ‘inhuman speed’.
The photographs were examined by experts and were considered legitimate, at least in the sense that they had not been tampered with. They even discovered UFO-like objects on the negatives that could not be seen on the prints.
It does not always pay to be the messenger. Some people felt that he had simply been bored, and he was pranking his community. When the mysterious female caller who had alerted him to the visitor could not be found, he was fired from his job, his wife left him, and his home was mysteriously burned to the ground.
Which is unfortunate for the officer. But, the truth, it seems, is out there. Jeff Greenhaw stuck by his story, and continued to keep a watch over his neighborhood. Which seems sensible, because you just never know when you will need to prepare for an age of extinction.