FOR those searching for life on another planet, the mission involves not just finding the evidence but getting others to take them seriously.
UFO sightings in Australia are on the rise, according to people who track such phenomena, and international studies indicate a growing number of “closet believers” of extraterrestrial life.
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But people who come forward to report sightings are still pilloried by much of society.The issue emerged again last week after a video of an alleged UFO sighting over the NSW south coast was posted on YouTube and raised a few sceptics’ eyebrows.
It was no surprise to UFO investigator Doug Moffett, who has been delving into the authenticity of sightings across Australia for more than 20 years.”That’s the way it is usually treated in the media – like this fun topic to laugh at, rather than being treated as a scientific possibility,” he said.
Mr Moffett, part of the UFO Research NSW group, pointed to the fact that there were an estimated 100 billion stars in our galaxy and planets that were billions of years older than ours as reason enough to validate the search for extraterrestrial life.”What I’m trying to achieve is for people to not knee-jerk dismiss things,” he said.
Central Coast grandmother Jane Pooley hardly fits the stereotype of a UFO believer. But the 51-year-old says she saw one last week.
She described watching a craft with rotating lights moving silently above Brisbane Water, near where she lives – an area recognised as one of Australia‘s UFO hotspots.
“I’m a conservative, Catholic, middle-aged, registered nurse and I’ve worked in an emergency department, so I’ve seen some pretty weird things. Nothing seems to surprise me much any more,” she said.
“I believe in the Christian faith but I don’t think it negates it (the possibility of ET life).”It is the quest for indisputable evidence which drives Dr Ragbir Bhathal, director of the Australian Optical SETI (search for extraterrestrial intelligence) project. Night after night for the past 10 years, the University of Western Sydney engineering lecturer has peered through a powerful telescope on the university’s campus, looking for flashes of light from alien civilisations.
Other SETI projects search for radio transmissions but Dr Bhathal believes such technology could be obsolete for extraterrestrial intelligence.
“We think if the ET are so much more advanced than us, they wouldn’t be sending signals by radio waves but by using laser beams,” he said, explaining that lasers carry more than a million times more information than a radio wave.A decade of searching has proved fruitless but Dr Bhathal said astronomical discoveries over the past 20 years suggest a breakthrough could be close.