Welcome to the March 2006 round up of news and views on UFOs, alien abductions, crop circles, ghosts, the paranormal, the unexplained, the weird and the wonderful.
MOD UFO Files
The Ministry of Defence has released more information about UFOs reported to the Department in recent years, and posted it on the Freedom of Information portal on their website. Check out http://www.mod.uk/DefenceInternet/FreedomOfInformation/ and select "UFO Reports 2002 - 2005". There is a considerable amount of other UFO-related information now available. Search both the Publication Scheme and the Disclosure Log, by entering "UFO" in the search field, setting the dates so that you search the entire archive and not just the recent material. Happy hunting.
UFO Coverage In The UK Media
The Evening Standard acquired some of the abovementioned UFO reports and ran a feature on this on 14 February. They interviewed me and I was quoted in the article. As often happens, other media picked up on the story. I had a busy week, finding myself quoted in the Daily Star, Metro and the Gulf Times, as well as doing five radio interviews - mainly for BBC radio stations, and with one on BFBS (British Forces Broadcasting Service) Radio 2.
The March issue of the Ministry of Defence magazine Focus will contain an article on the Rendlesham Forest UFO incident, together with sketches taken from one of the United States Air Force witness statements, depicting the UFO and the strange hieroglyphs seen on its hull. This is the article that was due to appear in the February issue, but was held back so that some late news about Afghanistan could be accommodated. The UFO article was to have run next to a feature about the launch of our latest Skynet satellite and a cartoon was to have linked both articles. The cartoon ran in the February issue alongside the Skynet article, and is great, though it lost some of its impact as the UFO article was held back. It shows two aliens in a UFO (with the hieroglyphs from the Rendlesham Forest sketch on the side) orbiting Earth and witnessing the Skynet satellite being launched. One alien is saying to the other "It's a UFO alright! Do a quick sketch and report it to the Flying Saucer Working Party". I will post the cartoon on my website in the next few days.
Off The Page
I recently recorded an edition of the prestigious BBC Radio 4 show, 'Off The Page', where I debated the question 'Are We Alone?'. The programme airs on Friday nights at 11pm and my show will be played on one Friday in March. Check out http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/offthepage/ for details of the show. This is yet another example of discussions about UFOs getting an increasingly mainstream and Establishment audience.
Top Stars Picked In Alien Search
No, this is not the latest reality TV show, but a serious scientific attempt to pinpoint stars that may harbour intelligent life. Dr Margaret Turnbull at the Carnegie Institution in Washington DC drew up the shortlist, based on criteria such as the age of the star and the amount of iron in its atmosphere. The number one possibility, she believes, is beta CVn, a sun-like star a mere 26 light years away - virtually next-door in galactic terms. Dr Turnbull has previously identified 17,000 potential candidate stars, but has picked her top five to focus attention on the most likely possibilities. It is now up to the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) programme and other astronomers to pick up the gauntlet that has been thrown down. SETI uses radio telescopes to listen for signals from intelligent civilisations, and their research effort was most famously popularised by the film 'Contact', starring Jodie Foster and based on a book by the late Carl Sagan. Check out http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/4728228.stm for details of this new research.
After nearly 50 years, the London Planetarium - sited next to Madame Tussauds - is to close. The location will be used to house a new attraction dedicated to "fame and celebrity through the ages" - whatever that means. Given recent advances in astronomy, cosmology and astrophysics, I am concerned at this 'dumbing down' and worried that it will be increasingly difficult to motivate children to take an interest in these fascinating and important subjects. I shall be lobbying the powers that be on this issue.
Nick Pope On Tour
I have been invited to speak at a conference in Rome in April, and at a conference in the Swiss town of Lugano in May. I welcome the chance that this gives me to speak about UFOs to an overseas audience, and to speak about the British Government UFO Project not just to audiences here in the UK, but overseas. I will feature these conferences in my April and May columns.
I do occasionally lecture in the UK too, though I have had to cut back my appearances recently, due to the pressure of other commitments. One conference I am very much looking forward to attending is the Forbidden Knowledge conference due to take place on 1 July, in Stoke on Trent. Organised by Philip Gardiner, author of 'The Serpent Grail', the conference will feature presentations by Andrew Collins, Karen Ralls, Alan Alford, Graham Phillips, Michael Cremo and many more. Check out http://gardinerosborn.com/forbidden_conference.html for details. The conference will concentrate on esoteric and forbidden knowledge as opposed to ufology, but given the popularity of books such as 'The Da Vinci Code', this one is bound to be popular. The media will be there in force. Tickets are selling fast, so book now.
Nick Pope has written four books. Open Skies, Closed Minds is an overview of the UFO phenomenon with the emphasis on his official Ministry of Defence research and investigation. The Uninvited is an overview of the alien abduction mystery. Operation Thunder Child and Operation Lightning Strike are science fiction novels about alien invasion, incorporating UFO and abduction data. All four titles are available from most good bookshops and all the usual Internet book sites.
Nick Pope has a website, which can be accessed at www.nickpope.net