PLANET EARTH >> Today is World UFO Day.

A day many true believers hope will raise awareness of the "undoubted existence of UFOs" across the globe.

I have some news for them, UFOs are real.

I see them every time I hear the hum of an engine, look up in the sky and see a small dot moving from one direction to another.

I see them every night flying over my house, lights flashing.

OK, I have to admit, I live right in the landing path of the Pittsfield Municipal Airport. Also, I am not an aircraft expert and have no idea what I am looking at when I turn my gaze upward, making every object flying unidentified.

So there you have it, real UFOs right in my backyard.

Now, sure, I know you expected me to relate a completely different experience. One rife with little green men, or metallic objects moving across the sky like a saucer skipping on water.

Those assumptions are what has ultimately led to the rejection — by the mainstream media, academics and the public in general — of any rational discussion of the topic of extra-solar life and the possibility that some advanced civilization, thousands of years ahead of us, may have in the recent and/or distant past paid us a visit.

Yes, it is an extraordinary possibility, requiring extraordinary evidence to convince some to even entertain the idea. But I tend to think of the question of extraterrestrial visitation in more down-to-earth terms.


Basically, what would we do if hundreds or thousands of years into the future we were able to travel to the next star system based off information we have gleaned about habitable planets there?

When we land, what will the inhabitants say about us?

Will we be gods? Demons? Or something else?

Will we recognize the life there as life?

Would we abandon said planet if it was Earth-like, but still in a primitive state — perhaps with dinosaurs still roaming the countryside?

Perhaps we would leave some kind of sensor or satellite that could alert us to some kind of signal that would tell us intelligent live has evolved, like a nuclear explosion.

We certainly would know what that was, and most likely be able to investigate that, so of course we would. Perhaps even head straight for the coordinates of said explosion if we detected it in the future.

Major milestone

Now, since we aren't perfect, maybe on our trip there some malfunction forces us to crash land? How do you think a semi-intelligent race of humanoids would react to our presence? Would they welcome us with open arms? Would we be greeted by their military?

In about a week, the UFO community will surely celebrate another very significant milestone in American UFO lore — the crash in Roswell, N.M. It is there, that some allege an alien craft crashed and was recovered by the U.S. military, bodies, too.

The weird thing is, that site is not very far away from the Trinity Test Site, where man first displayed his mastery over the atom.

Coincidence? Skeptics, and most in the scientific community, will say yes. Or that it was just a weather balloon, swamp gas, etc. But isn't it just as intellectually dishonest to say no UFOs are alien spacecraft as it is to say they all are?

I say so, and would encourage academics and others to at least entertain the idea that we may have been visited.

The truth is out there, and thanks to advancements like the Kepler mission, we may have already discovered the planet they live on.

Thanks to other NASA missions, we know there is liquid water on other moons in our solar system, water with all the necessary ingredients for life. Which brings us even closer to finding extraterrestrial life right here in our solar system.

Microbial life for sure, but one of the great roadblocks we as a civilization currently run into is that, as far as we know, life is rare and only exists in one place, an easy conclusion to adhere to.

But what happens if we find life on Saturn's Enceladus or Titan. Or Jupiter's moon Europa. Or maybe Mars?

While it makes logical sense to say Earth is the only place home to life, it's much harder to say, "Well, we're the only two."

New England Newspaper Inc.'s design center supervisor, Erik Sokolowski can be reached at