UFOs the Case for and Against
Answer question 1 and question 2 OR 3.
1. The article presents both sides of the argument for and against UFO’s. Which side do you think is more convincing? Why?
2. Interview three people to determine if they believe spaceships have visited Earth. What reasons do they have for their views?
Or 3. You are driving late one night in the countryside. Suddenly, you see a strange object hovering above the highway just ahead of your car. Tell what happens.
UFO’s: The Case For and Against
THE NIGHT WAS perfectly clear and calm, and the stars bright. Captain Lawrence J. Coyne and his crew of three were cruising in an Army helicopter toward Cleveland, Ohio. The date was October 18, 1973. At about 11 p.m., Sgt. Robert Yanacsek noticed a red light to the east. The light kept getting larger and brighter, and Yanacsek warned that it was heading straight toward the helicopter. Coyne estimated that it was traveling nearly 700 miles an hour.
To avoid a collision, Coyne started to descend rapidly. The red light, however, kept coming right at the “chopper.” Coyne thought, “It’s going to ram us. This is it!”
Suddenly the light stopped just above and in front of the helicopter. Coyne and his crew now saw a “big, gray, metallic-looking” object. It was about 60 feet long, and shaped like a cigar. It had a red light on the front and a center dome. At the rear was a green light that moved like a spotlight. For a few seconds, the green light was turned on the helicopter. Then the object sped off to the west, with only a white “tail” light visible. It soon disappeared over the horizon.
Coyne set his controls for a gradual descent. To his amazement, the helicopter’s instruments indicated that it was actually climbing 1,000 feet a minute. It seemed that either the metallic object had affected the helicopter’s instruments or that it had pulled the helicopter upward against the force of gravity! Eventually the “chopper” began to act normally again, and the rest of the flight was uneventful.
Coyne reported the incident, and insisted that he and his crew were telling the truth. He was backed up by a family that was driving through the area that night in a car. The family said they had seen the helicopter, the hovering metallic object, and the mysterious green light.
Investigators could find no natural explanation for the occurrence. The object could not have been a meteor or a conventional aircraft. To this day, the “thing” that Captain Coyne encountered is classified as a UFO-an unidentified flying object.
The modern age of UFO’s began in June, 1947. Kenneth Arnold, a businessman and part-time pilot, was flying near Mt. Rainier, Washington. Suddenly, he saw nine discs racing across the sky at a terrific speed. Each disc, he said, “flew like a saucer would if you skipped it across water.” Newspaper writers called them “flying saucers,” and the name caught on. By the end of the year, more than 800 people reported seeing “flying saucers.”
The Air Force, which is responsible for the safety of our skies, began to investigate some of these reports. For “flying saucers,” it substituted the term “unidentified flying objects” (UFO’s). By definition, a UFO is simply a mysterious object that is seen in the sky. There is no immediate explanation for it.
Since 1947, UFO’s have been observed by people on every continent. They are usually seen at night and in rural areas. According to a recent poll, about 13 million adult Americans believe they have seen a UFO. And almost half of them think that UFO’s come from another planet. More and more, the term UFO has come to mean a spaceship guided by intelligent beings.
The Air Force and private groups have investigated thousands of reports of UFO sightings. They agree that almost all of these sightings can be explained naturally. Reports of UFO’s actually turn out to be one of the following:
Meteors, airplanes, stars and planets (especially the planet Venus), weather balloons, space satellites, missiles and rockets, unusual cloud formations, flights of birds, swamp gas, mirages, and hoaxes.
A typical example of a UFO report took place in Aurora, Illinois, on the night of April 29, 1978. Between 10:30 p.m. and midnight, the police of this Chicago suburb received calls from 10 people who claimed they saw a UFO. All the witnesses described a round saucer, with lights rotating around its perimeter.
An investigator from the Center for UFO Studies was sent to look into the reports. From past experience, he suspected that the UFO was really an advertising plane. Such a plane carries rows of lights that blink on and off, spelling out a message. When a person sees the lights from certain angles, the message cannot be read. Only rows of flashing lights appear. Then the witness reports seeing a “rotating saucer.”
The investigator called a Chicago advertising agency. The agency said it had sent up an advertising plane on the night of April 29. And the plane had been in the area of Aurora at the time of the sightings. The UFO then became an IFO-an identified flying object.
ARE UFO’s SPACESHIPS?
People who believe that UFO’s are spaceships from other planets give the following reasons:
– There are billions of stars· in our galaxy, the Milky Way. Some of them must have planetary systems that can support life. If we on planet Earth could send a spacecraft to the moon, then, these people argue, why can’t “they” (the extraterrestrials) come here?
– Even if most UFO reports are explained naturally, a few of them are still not explained. Some of the unexplained UFO’s “must” be visitors from another world, these people say.
People who believe that all UFO’s have a natural explanation give these reasons:
– If a spaceship from another planet in our galaxy arrived near Earth, it would have traveled a very great distance. It would probably have taken about 10,000 or more years to reach us. Why, then, if such creatures really have traveled all that time and distance to reach Earth, have they made no effort to communicate with the scientific and political leaders on Earth?
– So far, no physical evidence has ever been produced to prove that spaceships from other worlds have ever visited Earth. (In fact, we have no solid evidence that other worldly spaceships even exist.) No UFO has ever been examined by scientists.
Are UFO’s visitors from another world? Or are they simply normal events that the viewer may not understand?
What do you think? How would you go about trying to find out if you are right?
Why do you think most astronomers believe that even if there is intelligent life elsewhere in the universe, the odds are that such creatures haven’t tried to visit us in person?
“UFO’s: The Case For and Against” by Ira Peck from SCIENCE WORLD, March 18, 1983. Copyright © 1983 by Scholastic Inc. Reprinted by permission of Scholastic Inc.
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