I am fascinated by the idea of life elsewhere in the universe. I have for many years participated in the SETI@home project. I have loved movies about life out there for as long as I can remember, my favorite always having been The Day the Earth Stood Still.
A few years ago we took our son to Roswell, NM. We went to the International UFO Museum and Research Center. We read all about the 1947 incident. It was really fascinating. But it was hard for me to believe that a weather balloon could be mistaken for a UFO.
Fast forward to May 31, 2008. My last night in Albuquerque, my daughter and her family and I went to dinner. We were walking to the door of the restaurant and looked up to see a weather balloon. I commented to my son-in-law that I didn’t see how anyone could mistake that for a UFO. After we got home, my daughter and I were coming in the house and looked up again. We saw something in the sky.
I took a number of pictures, and they all came out the same: They showed a white globe.
Even though I KNEW it was a balloon and, at times, could see that it was a balloon with my eyes, I could not get the balloon to look like a balloon in the photos. My daughter got her camera, and we both had the same problem.
Finally, after about a dozen pictures between us, we were both able to get the balloon to show up as a balloon in a photo:
It is easy to see how someone could have been confused back in 1947. We were taking pictures with 8MP digital cameras, and they recorded a white globe. Had we not seen the weather balloon in the daylight, we might not have been able to see the bottom of the balloon in the twilight.
It was really interesting to read the paper the next day and see a big article about it.
But none of this changes my belief that there is other life out there somewhere. As Ellie Arroway says in the movie Contact:
I’ll tell you one thing about the universe, though. The universe is a pretty big place. It’s bigger than anything anyone has ever dreamed of before. So if it’s just us… seems like an awful waste of space. Right?