By L. Alfred James
On August 25, 1951 in Lubbock, Texas, three science professors from Texas Tech were in a colleague’s backyard, sipping some tea and discussing the scientific issues of the day. A little before 9:30 pm, they saw something in the sky that absolutely shocked them: dozens of blue-green lights passed overhead in a boomerang formation. In a very eerie way, they were absolutely silent. These science professors could not fathom what could cause such a phenomenon. The lights behaved nothing like any aircraft they had ever seen.
There were also several other eyewitnesses of the lights, including an employee of the Atomic Energy Commission’s top-secret Sandia Corporation (350 miles away in Albuquerque, New Mexico) and a Texas Tech freshman (also in the Lubbock area). The freshman, Carl Hart, managed to snap a few pictures of the lights. In fact, an investigation by the government actually turned up hundreds of people in the Lubbock area who said they witnessed the strange lights in the sky1. The number of witnesses and their credibility—particularly the science professors—makes it extremely unlikely that this was just a case of misperceiving a natural phenomenon.
This is not an isolated incident. According to the National UFO Reporting Center, there are several thousand UFO sightings each year. In one poll, 12% of Americans said they have seen a UFO.
What exactly is going on? Are we really being visited by aliens from another planet? Is there another explanation?
Are These Just Natural Phenomena?
Some people insist that UFOs are merely natural phenomena that are misperceived: things like satellites, airplanes, stars, planets (especially Venus), earthquake lights (electrical discharges triggered by earthquakes), or luminous swamp gas. In fact, one important investigator seriously suggested that the Lubbock lights were merely birds flying in formation.
To be sure, the vast majority of UFO sightings can be explained as natural phenomena that are not being correctly perceived. However, there are many cases (e.g., the Lubbock lights) in which this explanation is hopelessly unrealistic. It is bizarre that so many people saw the Lubbock lights as something totally mysterious if they were simply looking at wet birds reflecting light—not to mention that birds are not typically silent.
So, what are people seeing? Are these alien spacecraft that have come from a distant galaxy? At first glance, this seems like the natural conclusion we should draw. And it is by far the most popular view. Most people interpret UFO phenomena in that way. However, there are several reasons for doubting this explanation.
The Distance Is Too Far
According to astrophysicist Hugh Ross, the absolute closest star system that could be home to alien life is 155 light years away. But a spacecraft coming from those stars would have to travel “a zigzag course through various galactic hazards to reach planet Earth.” This would add 75 light years onto the distance that must be traversed:
Incoming travelers would have to dodge the gravity and deadly radiation of neutron stars, supergiant stars, nova and supernova eruptions, and even the remnants of such eruptions. They would have to avoid the gas, dust, and comets so dense in the spiral arms, as well as the environs of late-born stars (stars formed during the past 5 billion years). But, they would have to stay in the plane of the galaxy. Any departure from the plane would expose the travelers to the deadly radiation that streams from the galactic core.2
With the added distance from the required zigzagging, the shortest distance is 230 light years. This means that if an alien spacecraft were able to travel at lightspeed — which is very unlikely (see below) — it would still take 230 years to reach Earth!
Fast Speeds Require Enormous Energy
A distance of 230 light years means any spaceship will have to travel extremely fast. But there’s a big problem with getting a spaceship to reach the speeds required. Even if it were a small craft like the space shuttle, it would be impossible to transport enough fuel to reach an adequate speed. Moreover, when the ship is approaching planet Earth, it will need the same amount of energy to slow down without killing any life forms on board (due to the g-forces involved):
It would require energy equal to 23 million atomic bombs to propel the space shuttle to 50 percent of the speed of light (c). At 90 percent of [the speed of light], it requires the energy of 73 million atomic bombs. [This is equal to] 351 years of the combined power output of all U.S. energy facilities. Of course, once the spaceship reaches its intended destination, it will need to slow down. To stop the spaceship, it would require the same amount of energy as it took to get it moving. If the spaceship plans on returning…, it would need energy to speed up and slow down one more time. This means we need four times the original energy requirements listed above.3
To be extremely blunt, space travel, using conventional technology, is simply not feasible. It ain’t gonna happen. There is no way that any craft could transport the material required to fuel such a journey. Worse, if you use a bigger craft (to store more fuel) you will need even more fuel in order to reach high speeds (because you are carrying more mass).
Space Dust and Debris Would Destroy Any High-Speed Spacecraft
I know what some of you are thinking. “Well, maybe aliens have figured out a way to use antimatter, or quantum energy to propel their ship.” Suppose, for the sake of argument, I grant you this possibility. It doesn’t get you very far. There are still insurmountable problems.
A craft moving at that speed will hit dust particles, if not bigger chunks of matter floating in space. It is absolutely unavoidable. There are dust particles in every cubic meter of space. These dust particles and space debris will destroy any craft flying at high speeds, no matter how much shielding it has.
It is estimated that there are 100,000 dust particles per cubic kilometer of space. [That means there are several dust particles per cubic meter.] At light speed (c=300,000 km per second), an impact with just one of these tiny objects would destroy a spaceship. Even at one-tenth the speed of light, the impact would be equivalent to about 10 tons of TNT. Encountering a larger, say, pea-sized object while flying at just 50 percent of [the speed of light] would produce kinetic energy equal to 2.2 atomic bombs. Damage was caused to the space shuttle Challenger when in 1983 it hit a small paint flake with such force that it gouged a small crater in the front window (these windows were designed to be extremely robust). The Hubble Space Telescope already has several holes in its structure after just 12 years circling the earth, traveling at just a fraction of the speeds required for galactic travel.4
Thus, an alien craft would regularly be blasted with destructive forces equivalent to atomic weapons. And this would be happening repeatedly, hundreds of thousands of times each second. It is difficult to conceive how any kind of spacecraft could survive such impacts over a period of seconds, let alone minutes, hours, days, or years!
Radiation Would Destroy Any High-Speed Spacecraft
Worse, traveling at lightspeed would expose the ship (and its passengers) to intense levels of radiation. Space is littered with random protons, neutrons, electrons, heavy nuclei, and photons. There is no shielding that can prevent these subatomic particles from penetrating the interior of the ship. (Many of these particles pass all the way through the earth.) In small doses, these particles do not harm us. But lightspeed travel entails an endless stream of these particles coursing through you.
These would not only damage the material the ship is made of, they would also kill any physical being inside, no matter what they are composed of:
Exposure to radiation poses yet another serious threat. The faster a craft travels through space, the greater the damage it suffers from radiation. The particles associated with radiation…cause erosion to the “skin” and components of the craft. Again, the rate of erosion rises with the square of the velocity. However, a slower velocity means more time in space, and that extra time means more [longer] radiation exposure for the aliens on board.5
What About Slower Speeds?
“Maybe the aliens could travel slower?” That way they would incur less radiation, right? Probably not an option. Ross explains,
Very conservatively, any reasonably sized spacecraft transporting intelligent physical beings can travel at velocities no greater than about one percent the velocity of light. At higher velocities the risks from radiation, space debris, leaks, and wear and tear are simply too great to prevent the extinction of the space travelers before they reach their destination. A spacecraft traveling at one percent the velocity of light (nearly 7 million miles per hour) would need 7,500 years to traverse 75 light-years or 23,000 years to travel 230 light-years… A one-way trip that takes 7,500 years or more raises serious doubts about the alien travelers’ survivability. The extinction risk, given the limited population and all the contingencies of space travel, seems overwhelming.6
In summary, it is physically impossible for aliens to travel from another galaxy to reach our planet. The distance is too far, the energy needs are too vast, the destruction caused by debris is too severe, and the radiation is totally lethal for ships and their occupants.
All told, it is not feasible for UFOs to be physical spacecraft that come from another planet. It doesn’t matter how advanced their technology is.
So, what in the world is going on? If these UFOs are not spacecraft manned by creatures from another planet, what are they? For the answer to that, you’ll have to check out the next article in this series.
1. See >https://www.history.com/news/lubbock-lights-ufo-sightings
2. Hugh Ross, “Aliens From Another World? Getting Here From There.” See https://reasons.org/explore/publications/facts-for-faith/read/facts-for-faith/2001/04/01/aliens-from-another-world-getting-here-from-there
3. Bates, Gary. Alien Intrusion (p. 75). Creation Book Publishers. Kindle Edition.
4. Bates, Gary. Alien Intrusion (p. 78). Creation Book Publishers. Kindle Edition.
5. Ross, Ibid.
6. Ross, Ibid.