UFOs

Last night ABC News ran a two-hour primetime special on The UFO Phenomenon — Seeing is Believing. As part of this special program, they interviewed “one of the world’s leading theoretical physicists”, who, according to Bob Park, “looked a lot like Michio Kaku.” This physicist told ABC that UFOs should be taken seriously since “You simply cannot dismiss the possibility that some of these UFO sightings are actually sightings from some object created by … a civilization perhaps millions of years ahead of us in technology.” He also explained how aliens could get here using wormholes.

Kaku appeared yesterday on the radio show “Coast to Coast” to discuss UFOs and the ABC special. He appeared on the same show (in different hours) as Al Bielek, who evidently had a job in California, but regularly traveled by secret underground subway to Montauk, Long Island to work on the “Montauk Project”. During the 1980s he traveled to Mars on several occasions, as well as to “a research station in 100,000 BC, other planets to get canisters filled with Light and Dark Energy, and to the year 6037.”

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13 Responses to UFOs

  1. Quantoken says:

    Wake up Aaron, you don’t even know what you are talking about. Because you are speaking from the opening of a wormhole: -)

  2. Aaron says:

    Quantoken —

    There are many problems with creating and utilizing wormholes. Unfortunately, all the ones you’ve put forth are wrong.

  3. J.F. Moore says:

    Kaku has been on coast-to-coast many times. He also has his own weekly hour-long syndicated radio program on Pacifica. Coast-to-coast is clearly and almost exclusively a bunch of fringe crap, not just a “popular forum”, and they eschew the skeptical angle. It’s below the critical thinking level where Larry King resides, if that is even possible. For a scientist to go on the show repeatedly and throw red meat to that select audience is pretty sad, but at least he makes his position regarding how he approaches science clear. What’s truly unfortunate is that he somehow now occupies the public space that Feynman and Sagan once did.

    As for the ABC show, well, personally I’ve become numb to how uncritical and pandering the mass media have become. I guess they expect that very few people would tune in to hear Bob Park say that an instrumented balloon crashed at Roswell, nothing more; so they don’t run it with that. At some point such choices become predestined.

  4. Quantoken says:

    Peter said:

    “In this case, the whole wormhole business is pure speculation. No one has any idea how to, even in principle, construct a wormhole that will connect to some other point on the universe. If you want to speculate that such a thing is possible, fine, but that’s not really science right now, it’s science fiction.”

    One has got to understand science fiction is a much bigger enterprise than science itself. It’s an industry worth several hundred billion dollars per year. For humans, the need of entertainment far exceeds the need of curiousity.

    The idea of wormholes is popular because it’s entertaining, not because there is any scientific base in it. There is absolutely none.

    Theoretically spacetime wormhole can exist. But the only thing that can bend spacetime is the GR effect of mass/energy. To form any wormhole at all would take at least the amount of mass enough to form blackholes, or the equivalent amount of energy. Doesn’t matter whether it is energy or mass, as far as GR is concerned.

    To form a wormhole of just a thousand light years long, like say, would take the amount of mass enough to form a blackhole a thousand light years in radius. Just being able to utilize all the energy of a star would be far from enough. You collect all mass of a giant galaxy and it is still not enough to form such a wormhole.

    You would need to collect the mass of a few million galaxies just to construct one wormhole allowing you to reach just a few thousand light years away. But to be able to collect masses of neighboring galaxies you need to be able to travel to those neighboring galaxies first, and that requires you need to have wormholes connection to those galaxies first. It’s a chicken first or egg first dilemma.

    OK, now assume the alien civilization had already invented time travel machine. They could go to futuristic world to borrow a wormhole first. They would then be able to empty out a million galaxies nearby and construct a wormhole practical for inter-galactic traveling.

    What then? There would be a pretty big void in the space near our galaxy, suppose such a civilization is our next door neighbor and their wormhole is close enough to access the earth. They had used up all masses of a few million galaxies to construct their wormhole. We would then be able to see such a huge void if we aim our telescope into the sky. But no such huge void has been found?

    Or has such void been found? I heard rumors that astronomers do find big voids hundreds of millions of light years across with no galaxies. Maybe that’s the evidence that aliens have used up all those galaxies to construct wormholes 🙂

    But after all, even if the alien civilization know something we don’t know, and has the technology to carry out inter-galaxy travels. We can imagine it still costs an astronomical amount of resources to carry out, even if it does not take wiping out whole galaxies.

    They must also have some sort of political system, some sort of congressional budget committee, special interest groups and all that. Although their scientists would want very much make contact with the pity little creatures on earth called human, the prohibitive cost of resources would surely kill any such proposal just like how SSC was killed 🙂

    So no, I do not think wormholes exist and I do not think any UFO is associated with alien visitors. But who knows, maybe the quantum teleportation is more practical than wormholes?

    Quantoken

  5. Stephen says:

    Hi Wolfgang,

    the Josephson paper claims that:
    “Our mathematical skills are assumed to derive
    from a special ‘mental vacuum state’ [..]”

    I think what is being established here is how math models might have issued from the deeper recesses of math minds, to explain things.

    The impact of visualization is relevant to how math minds work?

    Peter Woit:Grothendieck is an amazing figure, and he had a revolutionary impact on mathematics during the fifties and sixties. Unfortunately for mathematics, he stopped doing research during the seventies. If he had remained active, it would have been very interesting to see his reaction to the new ideas coming into mathematics from physics during the late seventies and eighties.

    George Lakoff :Our answer is that the ordinary embodied mind, with its image schemas, conceptual metaphors, and mental spaces, has the capacity to create the most sophisticated of mathematics via using everyday conceptual mechanisms.

    http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/lakoff/lakoff_p4.html

    This process is very interesting to me. A keen eye, to a world that few of us could imagine?

    regards,

  6. Peter says:

    Hi Tony,

    I also haven’t seen the TV show or heard the radio show, so I can’t speak to the details of what Kaku did or didn’t say in these programs.

    Sure, I think it’s not a bad thing, but a good thing, for physicists to appear in a popular forum. But when they do, they should be acting responsibly, and explaining to people real science. Both here and in his recent books, Kaku seems to me to be completely blurring the distinction between science and science fiction. In his recent book, he doesn’t bother to clearly explain what is real science that we have good evidence for, and what is pure speculation.

    In this case, the whole wormhole business is pure speculation. No one has any idea how to, even in principle, construct a wormhole that will connect to some other point on the universe. If you want to speculate that such a thing is possible, fine, but that’s not really science right now, it’s science fiction.

    Shows like Coast to Coast are heavily caught up in the “paranormal” and the belief that there is all sorts of stuff going on that is completely incompatible with our understanding of science. People find this very appealing for deep psychological reasons. For a serious scientist to go on such a program and encourage this seems to me extremely irresponsible.

  7. Tony Smith says:

    Peter, thanks very much for clarifying your post about Kaku. As you say, “… “Coast to Coast” is a show often devoted to UFOs and similar topics. It is not unusual for them to be running interviews with the likes of Bielek. Kaku … decided to appear on Coast to Coast …”.

    Do you think that it is a bad thing for a physicist to appear on a popular forum ?

    If it is a bad thing, then how will the general population who listens to such shows learn anything sensible about real science ?

    If it is a good thing, is it fair to criticize a physicist for appearing on such a show ?

    Please note that these questions are more general than the question of the validity of Kaku’s statements, which I have not heard because I did not hear either the ABC show or the Coast to Coast show.

    However, http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/Primetime/story?id=528724&page=1 and the page 2 that follows it contain the following material quoting Kaku on the ABC UFO Show:

    “… Feb. 24, 2005 — There have been countless accounts of alien visitations around the world, but one of the things that prompts skepticism is how they would get here in the first place. If aliens are from another world, they must have some extraordinary means of travel — nothing like what is available anywhere on Earth. It is hard to underestimate the difficulty of going from star to star. …
    However, Michio Kaku, one of the leading theoretical physicists in the world, says many scientists are too quick to dismiss the idea of other civilizations visiting Earth. Einstein may have said nothing can go faster than the speed of light, but he also left a loophole, said Kaku, a professor at the City University of New York. In Einstein’s theory, space and time is a fabric. Kaku explained: “In school we learned that a straight line is the shortest distance between two points. But actually that’s not true. You see, if you fold the sheet of paper and punch a hole through it, you begin to realize that a wormhole is the shortest distance between two points.”
    A civilization that could harness the power of stars might be able to use that shortcut through space and time, and perhaps bridge the vast distances of space to reach Earth, he said.
    “The fundamental mistake people make when thinking about extraterrestrial intelligence is to assume that they’re just like us except a few hundred years more advanced. I say open your mind, open your consciousness to the possibility that they are a million years ahead,” he said. Kaku believes that only this type of civilization — millions of years more advanced that us and capable of using wormholes as shortcuts — could reach Earth and might be one explanation for UFOs.
    “When you look at this handful of [UFO] cases that cannot be easily dismissed, this is worthy of scientific investigation,” he said. “Maybe there’s nothing there. However, on that off chance that there is something there, that could literally change the course of human history. So I say let this investigation begin.” …”.

    Personally, I don’t see any quoted Kaku statement that is inconsistent with generally accepted physics (bearing in mind that a lot of physicists such as Kip Thorne have written a lot about the physics of wormhole construction, etc).
    It also seems to me that Kaku’s statement “… “Maybe there’s nothing there. However, on that off chance that there is something there, … let this investigation begin.” …” is consistent with the scientific spirit of observation, experimentation, and inquiry, and is NOT a gullible Oh-Wow-look-at-the-aliens type of statement.

    Again, my primary question is: If physicists are to be pilloried for merely appearing on a popular forum about subjects that interest the public, how is the public to become better educated about physics ?

    The primary question having been put, I want to make clear that I have some substantial disagreements with Kaku about physics, such as his statement on his web page at http://www.mkaku.org/articles/proposal_uft.shtml where he says “… The fundamental problem facing physicists is that General Relativity and the quantum theory, when combined into a single theory, is not “renormalizable, ” i.e. the theory blows up and becomes meaningless. … So far, only superstring theory can … give us a finite theory which combines these two formalisms. …”.

    My disagreement is with Kaku’s statement that only superstring theory can so combine GR and the SM.

    I also note that he is careful to NOT say that superstring theory HAS done such a thing, only that maybe it can, sort of like maybe the advanced civilizations can build such wormholes.

    It would have been nice if the ABC UFO show had also had somebody like Thorne to point out how very difficult such a wormhole construction project might be, but it seems to me that ABC is being as one-sided in its view of UFOs as some conventional superstringers are in their views of approaches to theoretical physics.

    Tony Smith http://www.valdostamuseum.org/hamsmith/

  8. Peter says:

    Hi Tony,
    The schedule of the show that I saw didn’t make clear they appeared in different hours, so it was incorrect to say that they appeared “together”, and I’ll change that.

    But I don’t think my comments were fundamentally unfair. Kaku was the one who decided to appear on ABC and lend his reputation to the pro-UFO side of their show. “Coast to Coast” is a show often devoted to UFOs and similar topics. It is not unusual for them to be running interviews with the likes of Bielek. Kaku was the one who decided to appear on Coast to Coast to discuss UFOs in a positive light, and I think it is likely that he would have known what the nature of that day’s show was, and who else was appearing with him on the same day.

  9. Tony Smith says:

    Peter, you said:
    “… Kaku appeared yesterday on the radio show “Coast to Coast” to discuss UFOs and the ABC special. He appeared together with Al Bielek, who evidently had a job in California, but regularly traveled by secret underground subway to Montauk, Long Island to work on the “Montauk Project”. … he [Bielek] traveled to Mars on several occasions …”.

    I think that is a dishonest criticism-by-association of Kaku.

    The Cosat-to-Coast website at http://www.coasttocoastam.com/shows/2005/02/24.html says:
    “… Thursday’s first hour guest, theoretical physicist Michio Kaku commented on the ABC special Peter Jennings Reporting: UFOs which had aired earlier in the evening. …

    In the middle two hours of the show Al Bielek revisited his claim that he participated in the Philadelphia Experiment aboard the USS Eldridge in 1943 as a man named Edward Cameron. … Bielek stated that while at Montauk he traveled via a wormhole to Mars …”.

    It appears clear to me that Kaku appeared in the first hour to discuss the ABC UFO special, while Bielek appeared on the middle two hours to discuss the Philadelphia Experiment and Montauk/Mars stuff. Obviously (to me), the first hour and the middle two hours were quite independent radio shows.

    I think that it is highly intellectually dishonest to smear Kaku with guilt-by-association-with-Bielek, and I am disappointed in your failure to maintain the otherwise very high level of integrity that I have seen in your blog.

    Just for the record, my own personal opinion of Kaku is somewhat mixed.

    On the one hand, I agree with drl’s comment to an earlier post (More Science Fiction, January 02, 2005) in your blog where drl said “… I like Kaku’s field theory book …”,
    and
    I also agree with Dolomite’s comment to the same earlier post where Dolomite said “…The table of contents …[of]… one of Kaku’s graduate level textbooks on String theory … looked quite impressive, but the body of the book turned out to be a smorgasborg of equations … with the symbols changed around in a failed attempt at making the different chapters look consistent, in the process removing much of the logical connective tissue and adding in typos. …”.

    Tony Smith http://www.valdostamuseum.org/hamsmith/

  10. Wolfgang says:

    Stephen,

    the Josephson paper claims that:
    “Our mathematical skills are assumed to derive
    from a special ‘mental vacuum state’ [..]”

    While this ‘mental vacuum’ state seems to be
    important for superstring theory, I would
    assume it also describes some of the contributers
    to this discussion here pretty well …

  11. Quantoken says:

    People take UFO seriously not necessarily because there is good evidence UFOs are associated with aliens, but because such ideas are entertaining. People tend to believe things that are amusing and entertaining, and tend to reject things that’s boring even though they are true. That’s psychology. The same thing could explain why string theoretists so believe in their theory religiously, even though there hasn’t bee any evidence their theory has anything to do with nature.

    Just for entertaining, but also seriously, for the UFOs that do sudden motion changes. It does not necessarily mean their inertial masses have been reduced to virtually none-exist. More likely they acquire momentum change without excerting opposite momentum change to the immediate vicinity. That’s why there is no shock waves.

    One possible scenary is they are capable of ejecting strong directional streams of gravitons. The GR predicted existence of gravitons. If these particles exist then theoretically they can be controled using certain technology of another civilization, and be emitted towards certain direction in a controled way.

    But then gravitons can be used to break the equivalence principle. How come? A particle invented by the GR theory comes back and destroy the very principle that GR is based on? I do not know how to reconcile that inconsistency? If UFOs exist they do provide evidence of existence of graviton and gravitational wave, right?

    Do gravitons themselves gravitate and observe the equivalence principle? i.e., do they have equal inertia mass and gravitational mass? Or do they have inertia mass only?

    Quantoken

  12. Leaving aside ontological considerations and what to think about people taking UFOs seriously, one could take UFOs as a source of thought experiment.

    Suppose for a moment that UFOs represent a real technology. According to the reports, UFOs seem to have a very small inertial mass (butterfly like motions involving sudden accelerations and changes of direction of motion without producing any shock waves). A technology able to reduce dramatically inertial mass of a material object would thus exist. What could this tell about fundamental physics?

    A possible answer would be a modification of Equivalence Principle. Gravitational mass would be absolute value of inertial mass, which can have both signs.

    One of the most obvious implications is an explanation for why gravitational energy is not conserved in cosmological scales whereas there is no evidence for the non- conservation of inertial energy. The simplest cosmology would be that creatable from inertial vacuum by energetic vacuum polarizations creating regions of positive and negative density of inertial mass. The 4-D universe could replace itself by a new one quantum jump by quantum jump and the difficult philosophical problems formulated as questions like “What was the initial state of the Universe and what were the initial values/densities of conserved quantities at the moment of big bang?” would disappear. The observations motivating the anthropic principle would find a natural explanation: the universe has gradually quantum engineered itself so that the values of these constants are what they are.

    Technological implications would be also interesting. Forming an tightly bound state of systems with positive and negative inertial mass a large feather light system could be created. Could UFOs be real and utilize this kind of technology?

    Accepting negative energies, one cannot avoid the questions whether negative energy signals propagate backwards in (geometric) time and whether phase conjugate light discovered at seventies could be identified as signals of this kind. Positive answer would have quite interesting technological implications. Negative energy signals time reflected as positive energy signals from time mirrors (lasers with population reversal for instance) would allow communications with geometric past. Our memory might be based on this mechanism: to recall memories would be to scan the brain of geometric past by using reflected in time direction (rather than in spatial direction as in seeing in the ordinary sense). Communications with the civilizations of the geometric future and past might become possible by a similar mechanism.

    Matti Pitkanen

  13. stephen says:

    Peter Woit,

    I do not understand this presentation from what I have read of your work here?

    Is there a clear distinction from your position of what you would like to exemplfy of intelligent people, like Michio Kaku and others to that of string theory?

    Allen Hynek was a disbeliever, and headed project bluebook, but eventually changed his tune. H eis shunned, by those of his peers. Is this what happens when those of science step outside of the box?

    Brian D. Josephson
    Department of Physics, University of Cambridge

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