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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 2002 > Nov > Nov 8

Re: George Washington University Symposium

From: Richard Hall <hallrichard99.nul>
Date: Fri, 08 Nov 2002 22:22:49 +0000
Archived: Fri, 08 Nov 2002 14:21:04 -0500
Subject: Re: George Washington University Symposium

Here is a 'quick and dirty' report on todays conference at
George Washington University, Washington, D.C., titled
"Interstellar Travel and Unidentified Aerial Phenomena: Science
Fiction or Science Fact?" from a slightly jaded and cynical
reporter. Opening remarks were made by Prof., Don Lehman, vice
President for Academic Affiars at GWU; Bonnie Hammer, President
SCI-FI Channel; and moderator Ray Suarez, Senior Correspondent,
The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.

Someone fell down on the job of promotion rather badly, as the
audience was sparse and only a handful of news media showed up
(including Channel 4 TV and the Washington Post). So the
question arises, "If a tree falls in the forest and there's no
one there to hear it....?" The content and the caliber of
panelists, on the other hand was rather good. Briefly, here is
what each speaker talked about in order of appearance (there was
an extensive question and answer session afterwards).

Dr. Richard Henry, professor of astrophysics, Johns Hopkins
University, questioned the adequacy of the scientific method to
deal with a subject like this, illustrating how easy it is for
scientists to debunk the subject strictly on theoretical grounds
without studying any actual data. They thus come up with a
"conservative" conclusion, which is that space visitors seem
unlikely. But, he continued, they easily could be wrong and the
possibilities are wide open, therefore, UFO reports deserve
careful study.

Dr. Michio Kaku, professor of theoretical physics, City
University of New York, spoke entertainingly about his research
on worm holes and string theory, which if these theories
ultimately prove out could explain ways around the current
(theoretical) barriers to interstellar travel. He graded
civilations into three types (with us at Type 0) in terms of
energy production and its implications for space travel. Type
III, "Planck energy production" civilizations would be the ones
most likely to visit us (for complex reasons), but he warned
that we might be merely an anthill on the route of their

Dr. Bernard Haisch, Director, California Institute for Physics
and Astrophysics, also suggested theoretical ways around space
travel limitations posed by the vast distances in the universe.
Further, he examined the issue of potential Government coverup
and the classification systems used in the intelliegnce
community, with some useful facts and history about Special
Access Projects.

Dr. Jacques Vallee, astrophysicist and computer scientist in the
private sector, focused on the types of physical evidence cases
available for science to study, illustrating it with specific
case examples. He argued that today's science can study UFOs in
may ways, ideological arguments or theories are premature,
reality doesn't necessarily mean they are ET visitors, and the
UFO phenomenon is a chance to advance science.

Ted Roe, Executive Director of the National Aviation Reporting
Center for Anomalous Phenomena, reported on that organization's
activities and progress, citing cooperation with several
agencies in other countries. NARCAP's mission is to collect high
quality data based on ground and airborne aviation systems and
aircrew sightings, and to encourage analyses of "hard sciences

John Callahan, former FAA Division Chief of Accidents and
Investigations, talked entertainingly and amusingly about an
aviation case in point: The 1986 Japan Airlines B-747 radar-
visual sighting over Alaska. Many new details were included.
Callahan personally briefed then FAA Director, Donald Engen, on
the case. Since UFOs were not in the FAA "job description," they
brief the CIA, which gobbled up all available evidence and then
declared,`nothing happened here, nobody saw anything.' "You only
think you see those coffee urns on the side table," he joked to
the audience.

Dr. Peter Sturrock, Emeritus Professor of Applied Physics,
Stanford University, who has analyzed the Condon Report and was
instrumental in the Rockeller-sponsored 1997 conference at
Tarrytown, N.Y., spoke about his work and told various anecdotes
about these events. He was also instrumental in polling
astronomers a number of years ago about their views on UFOs, and
when allowed to respond anonymously, they indicated considerable
interest in the subject.

Topics discussed at some length were the problem of funding for
scientific research and what could be done with only limited
funding, the "ridicule factor" and its effect on scientific
research, Government secrecy and suppression of information, and
how to break out of the current deadlock and get some serious
research conducted. Every single panel member contributed some
worthwhile information and, here and there, some valuable
insights into all facets of the "UFO problem" in all senses of
the word "problem": scientific, social, political. Very
stimulating and interesting, at least to the choir.

(Too tired to proofread; excuse any typos. - Dick Hall)

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