Collection Finding Our Place when you look at the Cosmos: From Galileo to Sagan and Beyond

Collection Finding Our Place when you look at the Cosmos: From Galileo to Sagan and Beyond

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

Are these alleged visitors off their worlds peaceful and benevolent or would they attack and destroy humanity? The destructive power regarding the Atomic bomb called into question the progressive potential of technology. Concern with the number of choices for destruction in the Cold War-era proved fertile ground for terrestrial anxieties to manifest visions of flying saucers and visitors off their worlds who might be hidden among us in plain sight.

Aliens in our midst 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 risk of extraterrestrial visitors reflected anxieties of this era.

The 1962 comic you will find Martians Among Us, from Amazing Fantasy #15, illustrates the real way fear of extraterrestrials could reflect Cold War anxieties. When you look at the comic, a search party gathers around a landed craft that is alien nonetheless it will find no indication of alien beings. Radio announcers warn those nearby to remain indoors. The action shifts to a husband and wife as he prepares to go out of their house despite a television announcer’s warning to remain indoors. He reminds his wife to stay inside as he waves goodbye. The wife however chooses to slip off to the shop and is dragged and attacked off. The husband returns home and finding it runs that are empty the telephone in a panic. The anxious husband reveals that he and his wife are the Martians in a twist.

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

UFOs as Contemporary Folklore

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

In A mysterious light, a segment of an ethnographic interview, Miller describes a strange light he saw once while hunting together with dogs in 1966 « All at I looked up to see what happened once it was daylight, and. There was clearly a light about that big, going up, drifting up the hill. It just faded out when I looked and seen. I am in the Marines, and know what airplane lights look like, and it also was too big for that. » When asked if he knew what it had been he offered, « I’m not sure what it had been » but went on to explain, « If there is any such thing as a UFO that’s what that was. » This light that is unexplained a walk into the woods is typical of several stories of the kinds of encounters. It is not only the media that tells stories and represents these kinds of ideas, documentation associated with the experiences and stories Americans tell one another is similarly essential for understanding and interpreting what UFOs meant to century that is 20th.

Scientists and astronomers express varying levels of enthusiasm for the chance for intelligent life within the universe. However, scientists generally dismiss the basic idea that you will find aliens visiting Earth. In Pale Blue Dot: A Vision associated with the Human Future in Space, Carl Sagan reviews the options of alien visitors to Earth, and suggests that there clearly was reason that is good be skeptical of them. Much of Sagan’s work focuses on debunking folk stories and beliefs and tries to encourage more rigorous and thought that is skeptical. He similarly discussed criticism of beliefs in alien visitors in his earlier book, Demon Haunted World: Science as a Candle at nighttime.

This zealous criticism of belief in UFOs from Sagan, who was simply well recognized for his speculative ideas about the possibility of alien civilizations, might seem to be a contradiction. Sagan himself had even speculated on the likelihood of visits by ancient aliens in the essay through the early 60s contact that is direct Galactic Civilizations by Relativistic Interstellar Spaceflight.

How can we reconcile Sagan the skeptic utilizing the imaginative Sagan? Not even close to a contradiction, those two components of Sagan’s perspective offer a framework for understanding him together with interchange between myth and science about life on other worlds. Skepticism and speculative imagination come together as two halves regarding the whole. It’s necessary to entertain and explore new ideas, however strange, while in the time that is same and evaluating the validity of the ideas.

Leave a Comment (0) ↓
Translate »