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Are UFOs real? Yes, but we don't know where they come from
By Hope Babowice | Daily Herald Columnist

Dozens of people reported seeing a UFO in Stephenville, Texas last year. One of them took this picture.

 

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Published: 3/11/2009 12:01 AM

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You wanted to know

Antoine Hicks, 11, a fifth-grader at West Oak Middle School in Mundelein, asked, "Are aliens real?"

Want to know if aliens are real? Check back in a few years, said Seth Shostak, senior astronomer at the California-based SETI Institute, which is supported by NASA, the National Science Foundation and private donations.

The main way SETI scientists search for life outside of Earth is by using radio technology to hear radio signals in outer space. SETI is in the process of building an array of 350 antennas in California to capture the extraterrestrial radio signals. Already, 42 antennas are operating.

SETI scientists believe that life could exist outside of Earth. There are a trillion planets in our galaxy and 100 billion other galaxies that make up the universe.

"We don't know," Shostak said. "We've never found really good evidence for ANY life beyond Earth, not even pond scum. So at the moment, scientists have to say that they just don't know if aliens of any type are real."

UFOs, unidentified flying objects, have been observed all over the country, and there's no evidence that these are objects flown by aliens. Recently "Popular Mechanics" magazine reported UFO sightings by residents of a Texas town. The incident attracted national and international press coverage.

The article states, "There is no dispute that UFOs exist - that is, objects flying through the sky that are unidentified. But that, or course, does not mean they are ships from a distant galaxy." In other words, the only way to explain the unusual sky show has been to conclude they were either UFOs or identifiable military aircraft, flares or surveillance aircraft.

Astronomers will know more about life outside of Earth in the future, Shostak said.

"Maybe we'll find some microscopic life under the red sands of Mars, or beneath the ice of some of Jupiter's moons. Or maybe scientists will pick up a radio signal coming from intelligent aliens on a planet far, far away. I think that it's quite possible that this generation will be the first to know whether we have any cosmic company, and I'm betting that we do."

Search for more information about SETI on their Web site seti.org.

Check these out

The Wauconda Area Library suggests these titles on aliens:

•"Aliens," by Jim Pipe

•"Aliens: Monster And Imagination Library Series," by Janet Perry

•"Is There Life In Outer Space?," by Isaac Asimov

•"Mysteries, Legends, And Unexplained Phenomena: UFOs And Aliens," by Preston Dennett

•"The Mystery Of Life On Other Planets," by Chris Oxlade

Send in your question

What questions do you have? Send them to Kids Ink, and you might see it right here. Want to know about people, places or things? Or maybe why things happen? The student whose question is answered each week will receive a 1-gigabyte USB flash drive. You can write to kidsink@dailyherald.com. Include your name, age, hometown, grade and school. Teachers can download Kids Ink question forms at our Newspaper in Education Web site, nie.dailyherald.com/kidsink.asp.