Collection Finding Our Place into the Cosmos: From Galileo to Sagan and Beyond

Within the 1940s and 50s reports of “flying saucers” became an American cultural phenomena. Sightings of strange objects in the sky became the materials that are raw Hollywood to present visions of potential threats. Posters for films, like Earth vs. the Flying Saucers from 1956 illustrate these fears. Linked to ongoing ideas about life regarding the Moon, the canals on Mars, and ideas about Martian Civilizations, flying saucers have come to represent the hopes and fears for the world that is modern.

Are these alleged visitors from other worlds benevolent and peaceful or would they attack and destroy humanity? The destructive power of the Atomic bomb called into question the progressive potential of technology. Anxiety about the possibilities for destruction within the Cold War-era proved ground that is fertile terrestrial anxieties to manifest visions of flying saucers and visitors from other worlds who may be hidden in our midst in plain sight.

Aliens Among us and Fears of the Other

If UFOs were visiting our society, where were these extraterrestrials? Could they be hidden in our midst? Comic books and television illustrates how the possibility for extraterrestrial visitors reflected anxieties of the era.

The 1962 comic you will find Martians in our midst, from Amazing Fantasy #15, illustrates the real way anxiety about extraterrestrials could reflect Cold War anxieties. Into the comic, a search party gathers around a landed craft that is alien however it are able to find no indication of alien beings. Radio announcers warn those nearby to keep indoors. The action shifts to a husband and wife as he prepares to leave their house despite a television announcer’s warning to stay indoors. He reminds his wife to stay inside as he waves goodbye. The wife however decides to slip off to the shop and is attacked and dragged off. The husband returns home and finding it empty runs towards the phone in a panic. The anxious husband reveals that he and his wife are the Martians in a twist.

Driving a car that there is alien enemies in our midst resonates with fears of Soviets and communists from the McCarthy era. Ultimately, in this story, the humans are the ones who accost and capture the alien woman. The shift in perspective puts the humans into the position regarding the monsters.

UFOs as Contemporary Folklore

Aside from depictions of UFOs in media, UFOs may also be part of American folk culture. Ideas of aliens and flying saucers are a part regarding the mythology of America. You can find documentation of the types of experiences in folk life collections. A job interview with Howard Miller about hunting and hound dogs, collected as an element of Tending the Commons: Folklife and Landscape in Southern West Virginia collection, documents a person’s knowledge about a UFO that is potential sighting.

In A mysterious light, a segment of an ethnographic interview, Miller describes a strange light he saw once while hunting with his dogs in 1966 “All at once it was daylight, and I looked up to see just what happened. There clearly was a light about this big, going up, drifting up the hill. It just faded out when I looked and seen. I have been in the Marines, and know very well what airplane lights seem like, and it also was too large for that.” When asked it was he offered, “I’m not sure what it was” essaywriter but went on to explain, “when there is such a thing as a UFO that is what that was. if he knew what” This unexplained light on a walk within the woods is typical of numerous stories among these types of encounters. It’s not only the media that tells stories and represents these kinds of ideas, documentation associated with experiences and stories Americans tell each other is similarly essential for understanding and interpreting what UFOs designed to 20th century America.

Scientists and astronomers express varying examples of enthusiasm for the chance of intelligent life when you look at the universe. However, scientists generally dismiss the basic proven fact that you can find aliens visiting Earth. In Pale Blue Dot: A Vision associated with Human Future in Space, Carl Sagan reviews the possibilities of alien people to Earth, and implies that there is certainly reason that is good be skeptical of those. Most of Sagan’s work focuses on debunking folk stories and beliefs and attempts to encourage more rigorous and skeptical thought. He similarly discussed criticism of beliefs in alien visitors inside the earlier book, Demon Haunted World: Science as a Candle at night.

This zealous criticism of belief in UFOs from Sagan, who was simply well known for his speculative ideas concerning the likelihood of alien civilizations, may appear to be a contradiction. Sagan himself had even speculated in the possibilities of visits by ancient aliens in his essay from the early 60s Direct Contact among Galactic Civilizations by Relativistic Interstellar Spaceflight.

Just how do we reconcile Sagan the skeptic aided by the imaginative Sagan? Definately not a contradiction, these two areas of Sagan’s perspective offer a framework for understanding him while the interchange between myth and science about life on other worlds. Skepticism and imagination that is speculative together as two halves associated with the whole. It really is important to entertain and explore new ideas, however strange, while during the time that is same and evaluating the validity of the ideas.

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