I am Dr. Jacques Vallée a computer scientist and former astronomer. I have dedicated my personal research to the scientific research of UFOs. I was the model for the French scientist in Steven Spielberg's "Close Encounters". AMA!
I'm excited to be here with you all today and to answer any questions you may have. Here is my proof: http://imgur.com/WxbXLoJ
Recently my investigations have focused on UFO sightings from ancient antiquity up to the Industrial Revolution - prior to the innovation of manmade vehicles for flight that can cause confusion when witnessing a UFO. I have worked with my colleague Chris Aubeck on my recent work and we will soon be publishing what we consider the new benchmark in UFO research - called Wonders in the Sky. Our larger goal is to set the groundwork for future researchers (Maybe that's YOU) by identifying and conserving primary source documents. We want future researchers to continue UFO investigations as part of mainstream science.
I worked at the Institute for the Future, helping to develop the precursor to the internet, known as the Arpanet. You also may know me as the basis for the French scientist character in Steven Spielberg's film Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Possibly you have seen one of my lectures (just click here and here for two videos); a panel about outer space at a global financial conference in Saudi Arabia and a TED talk in Geneva on Futures Research, respectively.
Looking forward to fielding your questions! AMA!
EDIT: Thanks Everybody for joining. My time is up. I have very much enjoyed answering your questions. Lots of really good ones.
EDIT: Noticed the video links didn't stick as hyperlinks. Copying links below:
EDIT: More can be learned about my current research on IndieGoGo: http://www.indiegogo.com/project/preview/7455b651
There is a large number of cases that pass the "serious" screen: cases with unexplained physical traces and multiple witnesses over significant duration, etc. but I mostly look for overall patterns that can characterize the phenomenon as a whole. One especially significant case took place at Valensole in France years ago and has never been explained: a landing with physical traces and two "beings" that paralyzed the witness. The French governemnt space agency has has a long-term group of investigation about such cases and I am on their advisory committee. Valensole has never been explained. Of course the paralysis has many scientists very interested. UFOs have many physiological impacts on humans.
What would you describe as a ufo and how is it called when you indentified it?
You've hit on a significant problem: There is no unique definition for a UFO; Remember, the Air Force invented the term for aerial phenomenon that didn't match natural explanations, but what people are reporting goes way beyond that, like luminous "orbs" going through bedroom walls: is that a UFO or not?
Have you personally experienced UFOs?
Yes, in France as a college student, a disk with a half-dome in the sky about half a kilometer away. The next day another student whose house was up the hill another half-kilometer away told me he's seen the same thing through binoculars. At the time I convinced myself it was some sort of prototype that would be revealed eventually, but as we know now there is no such thing. It hovered at low altitude for about 10 minutes at least.
I have to leave pretty soon, but many thanks for the great questions, and apologies for my bad typos. There's a description of Wonders in the Sky on Indiegogo (under "education") if you want to know more. Jacques
What categories do the 10% that are not explained by natural phenomena, usually fall into?
They tend to have multiple witnesses, last over 10 minutes to an hour and trigger multiple receptors mainly in the electromagnetic range: visible light but also radio, microwave, IR and radar.
Do you think aliens have been on this planet? From my point of view I have always believed there is "something out there" but I am not convinced we have been visited due to the distance between us and the nearest planet that could support life.
I'm not sure the distance issue is an argument: new physics (like wormholes) would allow very fast communication among distant parts of the universe and perhaps also transport. Life and consciousness must exist everywhere. The UFO phenomenon has been with us on this planet since recorded history -- that's what our book is about. It doesn't mean "Aliens" in the usual sense, though. There could be multiple dimensions.
What specific and compelling UFO sighting do you think most needs additional research? Do you have plans for future investigations?
There are several classic cases in the USAF files that would deserve a lot more study, like the observations on board an electronic intelligence aircraft (RB47) that detected a UFO both visually and on radar over the Gulf of Mexico and was followed across Texas and Oklahoma by the object.
The date was 17 July 1957. The plane was a Boeing Stratojet. The case is one of 800 carried as "Unidentified" by the Air Force.
And yes, by the way, I have plans for future investigations.
What's your interpretation of Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey film?
I see it as early recognition that space, time and consciousness are intricately linked together.
What do you think of Paul Hellyer (former Canadian Defense Minister). Has anything he said confirmed or refuted your own research?
I am puzzled by claims like his. Given his eminent position, he should be able to provide more than an opinion and he should come forward with evidence. Without some factual backup, that's just another expression of personal belief.
I have two questions. -Do you believe that Earth should be more cautious in the signals sent into space, in case other civilizations are listening? And do you believe that Science fiction, which shows life on other planets, will be something we see in our lifetime?
That was the reason the government killed PRoject OZMA (an early SETI-like exoperiment that would have beamed out from Arecibo) in the sixties: it would "give away our position"... Of course that's a silly argument: how old is "I love Lucy"? TV goes right through the ionosphere do the fols on Alpha Centauri have been watching it for years.
Do you believe aliens could be living among us?
They would have to be very close to us genetically, or whatever is sending "them" would have to manufacture their bodies consistent with human physiology. But there are other hypotheses. The phenomenon could be creating a sort of virtual reality illusion through which various entities could be acting among us.
Is your research attempting to identify the UFO, or just cataloging UFO reports?
Hi RocketTech: My approachj is that you have to catalog reports before you can identify the phenomenon. I try to do this is stages as more information comes to light. I also go out to investigate, of course.
When you investigate, what factors are you looking for? Are there any 'low-hanging fruit' you look for, such as atmospheric conditions you look for to possibly identify the UFO as a known phenomenon?
And if I may throw in another question, has your research led you to a conclusion on the existence of visitors from another world or time (time travel)?
Absolutely I first screen for the usual confusion factors and I focus on cases that have not been sensationalized, where I have access to the site and to the witnesses themselves. Note that of course 90% of all reports can be explained with natural causes, of course.
Do you believe that the current funding for NASA is adequate and should funding for space travel primarily go to private companies?
I think NASA is absolutely right in transferring LEO missions (Low Earth Orbit) to private enterprise, which has both the resources and the the motivation to do a good job. Long-range missions like the plans for Mars have to be the focus of NASA in the future. I wish there was more funding for some aspects of the NASA work, especially human factors (and research on microgravity) which could lead to medical breakthroughs down here on earth.
Which cinema depiction of an alien would you think you have the best chance of beating in a one-on-one fight?
I've always been a fan of FORBIDDEN PLANET but the fight was not a physical one, that's the problem with movie aliens -- they could be after your MIND !
What would you say are the odds (by percentage) that the govt knows about aliens and are covering it up? Should we have disclosure?
I couldn't give you a percentage, but I'd have to assume the US government knows far more than I do or at least has far more DATA than I do. The problem is what they would do with that data, it could easily fall through the cracks, each agency trying to deal with little parts of it without anyone looking at the whole thing. So they probably just dismiss much of it, as the Air Force did. Rather than "disclosure" I would much prefer to see them acknowledge that there is an unknown phenomenon and call for the scientifuic community to compete by submitting proposals for basic research. That's the way the Internet started: many teams wrote proposals for networking, ARPA selected the best 10 or so and funded them, reviewed the results a year or two later, refunded the best ones and so on. That's the best way to do research, on a competitive basis by enlisting the best minds in various domains.
One thing we do know for sure is that the UFO phenomenon is extremely complex and does just boil down to "Aliens".
Sorry Mattisaac, I meant "doesn't just boil down to "Aliens" of course.
Do you believe space to be infinite? Also do you think the mission to land on Mars is an essential part of space investigation?
Mars will be much more difficult than people expect because the main problem is biology: lots of unknowns and untested solutions. The question about infinity raises challenges for modern physics: the Big Bang would say the universe is a 4D sphere that expands into an infinite future but there are alternative models (the multiverse, string theory etc)
Hi. I'm just wondering if you think that there are other planets very similar to ours that hold life? Could what happened to form our planet have taken place somewhere else also but at a different time making that planet at a different growth stage to ours? Thank you.
Among the 2000+ planets identified so far there may not be life similar to ours (the planets are too big or in orbits that would not be conducive to life but given the many billions of worlds out there a planet similar to ours is very likely. Of course one of the challenges is to define what we mean by "life." There could be other forms of consciousness (an intelligent plasma?) that we haven't discovered.
About stage of development, all you can do is make the assumption that we would be about average, meaning there would be many civilizations far ahead of us.
Im 29... Will I witness undeniable proof of UFO's / aliens in my life time?
We may not see a complete cure for cancer in our lifetime, or a complete explanation for how our own brains work, so why should we expect to have an undeniable proof that UFOs exist? We have the same problem with ghosts, or artificial intelligence. But UFO witnesses are telling the truth and you can validate the patterns of what they describe, so the phenomenon undeniably exists. What we lack to call that a "proof" is a new scientific category (an "ontology") where we can put it.
Did you see / read about the recent L.A. lights UFO? Did you buy the explanation of a military ballistics test?
I haven't investigated that case but from what I've read the ballistics test did happen and it could have caused the confusion.
aren't you dead?
I knew my proof picture wasn't very good, but I didn't realize it was THAT bad...
Should I be?
What is the most convincing case (and/or documented) that you have studied ?
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