The Mysteries Of UFOs - Aliens or Natural Phenomena

No one knows for sure what UFOs are or who created them. Some people believe that UFOs are the result of natural phenomena. Others believe they are an extraterrestrial phenomenon from otherworldly beings, or aliens, as popularized by the media with a number of sightings over the years.

Scientists and UFO experts have speculated on UFOs and their origin since the 1940s. The Canadian government funded a study in 1967 called Project Magnet, which was meant to identify UFO activity in areas of Canada where there were high concentrations.

Most Canadians who witness UFOs feel that they have had a special experience and would like to share it with others. It has been suggested that UFOs might be a signal, from another planet, coming to warn us of an impending disaster. Some people believe that the UFOs are here to help mankind combat the uncertain future we face on planet Earth.

A recent survey by Ipsos Reid for Postmedia News and Global TV found that one in three Canadians believes they have seen an alien or UFO and of those, 68% claim to be certain about what they saw, whether it was a spacecraft, or an alien being.

The survey also revealed that nearly one in three Canadians would be interested in having their own encounter with a UFO. Clearly, the belief of extraterrestrial life is alive and well among Canadians, who are willing to fork out big bucks for the chance of actually seeing one.

A 2005 BBC poll found that 80% of the world believes in life on other planets and nearly half of those polled believe aliens have already visited Earth. A 2008 study in The Astrophysical Journal indicates that there are billions of Earth-like planets, many potentially habitable, within our galaxy alone.

So if UFOs are real, what could they be? In the 1940s, scientists thought UFOs were a new type of missile being tested by the USSR. Today it is widely believed that they are extraterrestrial spacecraft piloted either by aliens or humans from the future. Perhaps they are some unknown natural phenomena we have yet to understand.

The majority of reported UFO sightings can be explained as misidentified natural phenomena such as meteors, satellites and balloons. Meteorites entering the atmosphere can cause light streaks in the sky that some people may mistake for a UFO. However, scientists agree that this is not what most UFOs are.

Sightings of Unidentified Flying Objects date all the way back to 1896 when newspapers reported sightings by witnesses in Montana and Michigan. One of the first Canadian sightings was in 1967, when a man witnessed an object that was shaped like a doughnut flying high above Lake Erie.

In 1948, Gimbels Department store in New York City had several customers reporting UFOs outside the building after one was seen falling from the sky and exploding at sea off of Long Island. In 1960, a Toronto police officer reported seeing three unidentifiable objects flying in tight formation about 1000 metres above the city.

Governments have taken an interest in UFOs as well. In Canada, there is speculation that our military tested secret aircraft over the air force base at Cold Lake, Alberta during the 1980s. Witnesses reported large bright lights moving at high speeds in the sky. The sightings at Cold Lake were often reported by police officers, commercial airline pilots and military personnel, who are sensitive to security issues and rarely report UFOs.

In 1989, Air France flight number 296 was on its way from Rio de Janeiro to Paris when it encountered a UFO off of Brazil's Atlantic coast that crossed in front of the aircraft. Despite the fact that many people witnessed it, including pilots and a Federal Congressman from Brazil, no airliner has reported such an incident since 1989.

The U.S. government is willing to pay for reports about UFOs in order to learn more about any sightings on American soil or over military bases around the world, where the potential for classified aircraft to be tested is higher. In 2007, the government released the declassified Blue Book documents and included a report from an RCMP officer who witnessed a craft that appeared like an upside-down ice cream cone near Prince George, British Columbia in 1961.

The U.S. government's involvement with UFOs did not begin with the Blue Book documents. In the late 1940s, the U.S. Air Force began investigating reports of flying saucers and conducting interviews with witnesses. One UFO report in 1948 describes a shining disk that was shaped like two pie pans face to face and rotating on its vertical axis which shot straight up into the clouds at high speed when confronted by an American plane. In 1949, pilots claimed to have seen UFOs over Washington D.C., and the government responded by setting up Project Grudge in 1951 to study UFO reports.

It was not until 1953 that the term "UFO" was used officially by the U.S., when saucers were seen flying around air force bases near Dayton, Ohio. The following year Air Force personnel created Project Blue Book to collect and analyze UFO data and sightings. It was an era of heightened public interest in UFOs; the U.S. military had captured the first Soviet jet fighter, along with its pilot who claimed that he had seen a flying saucer while on patrol over Germany just prior to his capture by American forces.

After several years of investigations by Project Grudge and Blue Book, the government concluded that most unidentified aerial objects were ordinary objects misidentified as something extraordinary such as meteors or aircraft in flight due to optical illusions caused by darkness or fog (Project Blue Book). By 1969, most Americans came to believe that there must be some supernatural explanation for UFO sightings because science could not explain them (Project Blue Book).

The debate over the existence of UFOs and their origin continues today. Some believe they are visitors from another planet, whereas others believe they are a natural phenomenon - perhaps electrical or magnetic energy that is a by-product of solar winds. Ultimately, the question remains unanswered: Are UFOs aliens from another world, or simply a misunderstood natural phenomena?

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