by Leonard David
our future selves?
(Image: © thortful.com)
may be ones of
a recent book
Unidentified flying objects (UFOs)
have captured the public's attention over the decades.
exoplanet detection is on the
rise, why not consider that star-hopping visitors from afar
might be buzzing through our friendly skies by taking an
interstellar off-ramp to Earth?
On the other hand, could those piloting UFOs be us - our future
progeny that have mastered the landscape of time and space?
Perhaps those reports of
people coming into contact with strange beings represent our distant
returning from the future to study
us in their own evolutionary past.
The idea of us being them has been advanced before.
But a recent book, "Identified
Flying Objects - A Multidisciplinary Scientific Approach to the UFO
Phenomenon", takes a fresh look at this prospect,
offering some thought-provoking proposals.
The book was written by Michael Masters, a professor of
biological anthropology at Montana Technological University in
Masters thinks that -
given the accelerating pace of change in science, technology, and
engineering - it is likely that humans of the distant future could
develop the knowledge and machinery necessary to return to the
The objective of the book, Masters said, is to spur a new and more
informed discussion among believers and skeptics alike.
"I took a
multidisciplinary approach in order to try and understand the
oddities of this phenomenon," Masters told Space.com.
"Our job as
scientists is to be asking big questions and try to find answers
to unknown questions. There's something going on here, and we
should be having a conversation about this.
We should be at the
forefront of trying to find out what it is."
Dubbing these purported visitors "extratempestrials," Masters notes
close-encounter accounts typically
UFO tenants as,
human-like beings with large brains, large eyes, small noses and
Further, the creatures
are often said to have the ability to communicate with us in our own
languages and possess technology advanced beyond, but clearly built
upon, today's technological prowess.
Masters believes that through a comprehensive analysis of consistent
patterns of long-term biocultural change throughout human evolution
- as well as recent advances in our understanding of time and time
travel - we may begin to consider this future possibility in the
context of a currently unexplained phenomenon.
"The book ties
together those known aspects of our evolutionary history with
what is still an unproven, unverified aspect of UFOs and
aliens," he said.
But why not argue that ET
is actually a traveler from across the vastness of space, from a
Wouldn't that be a
"I would argue it's
the opposite," Masters responded.
"We know we're here.
We know humans exist. We know that we've had a long evolutionary
history on this planet. And we know our technology is going to
be more advanced in the future.
I think the simplest
explanation, innately, is that it is us.
I'm just trying to
offer what is likely the most parsimonious explanation."
Artist's view of an aerial encounter
unidentified flying object.
As an anthropologist who has worked on and directed numerous
archaeological digs in Africa, France and throughout the United
States, Masters observes that it is easy to conceptualize just how
much more could be learned about our own evolutionary history if we
currently possessed the technology to visit past periods of time.
abduction accounts are mostly scientific in nature.
It's probably future
anthropologists, historians, linguists that are coming back to
get information in a way that we currently can't without access
to that technology," Masters said.
"That said, I do think that some component of it is also
tourism," he added.
"Undoubtedly in the
future, there are those that will pay a lot of money to have the
opportunity to go back and observe their favorite period in
Some of the most
popular tourist sites are the pyramids of Giza and Machu Picchu
in Peru… old and prehistoric sites."
Masters calls his UFO
research "an evolving project."
still missing pieces of the puzzle," he said.
"There are aspects of
time that we don't yet understand. Wanted is a theory of
quantum gravity, and we can
meld general relativity and
I'm just trying to
put forth the best model I can based on current scientific
knowledge. Hopefully, over time, we can continue to build on
that using a multidisciplinary scientific approach to the UFO
phenomenon will be what it takes to solve this mystery once and
for all, and I couldn't agree more," said Jan Harzan, executive
director of the nonprofit Mutual UFO Network (MUFON).
"The premise that UFOs are us from the future is one of many
possibilities that MUFON is exploring to explain the UFO
phenomenon. All we know for sure is that we are not alone,"
"Now the question
becomes, 'Who are they?'
And Masters makes a
great case for the time-traveler hypothesis."
were recently reported
zipping through the sky by jet-fighter pilots and radar operators.
The Pentagon's Advanced Aerospace Threat
Identification Program (AATIP)
was created to research and investigate
Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP),
including numerous videos of reported encounters,
three of which were released to the public in 2017.
(Image credit: U.S. Department of Defense/To The Stars Academy of
Arts & Science)
But not everybody is on board with the idea, as you might imagine.
"There is nothing in
this book to take seriously, as it depends on the belief that 'time
travel' is not only possible, but real," said Robert
Sheaffer, a noted UFO skeptic.
Supposedly our distant
descendants have mastered time travel, Robert Sheaffer said,
and have traveled back in time to visit us.
"So, according to
Masters, you just spin something fast enough and it will begin
to warp space, and even send stuff backwards in time.
This is a highly
dubious claim," he said.
Moreover, Sheaffer said
that Masters tries to deduce aliens' evolutionary history from
"suggesting that he
takes such accounts far too literally."
The problem of
David Darling is a British astronomer and science writer who
has authored books on a sweeping array of topics - from gravity, Zen
physics and astrobiology to teleportation and extraterrestrial life.
"I've often thought
that if some UFOs are 'alien' craft, it's just as reasonable to
suppose that they might be time machines from our own future
than that they're spacecraft from other stars," Darling told
"The problem is the
Darling said that, while
some aerial phenomena have eluded easy identification, one of the
least likely explanations, it seems to him, is that they're
artificial and not of this world.
"Outside of the
popular mythos of flying saucers and archetypal, big-brained
aliens, there's precious little credible evidence that they
exist," Darling said.
"So, my issue with
the book is not the ingenuity of its thesis, but the fact that
there's really no need for such a thesis in the first place."
Reported UFOs take on all shapes and sizes.
credit: U.K. National Archives sightings chart, circa 1969)
Larry Lemke, a retired NASA aerospace engineer with an
the UFO phenomenon, finds the
time-travelling visitors from the
"The one thing that
has become clear over the decades of sightings, if you believe
the reports, is that these objects don't seem to be obeying the
usual laws of aerodynamics and Newtonian mechanics," Lemke said,
referring to the relationship, in the natural world, between
force, mass and motion.
Toss in for good measure
Einstein's theory of general relativity and its consequences,
wormholes and black holes, along
exotic physics ideas such as the
Alcubierre warp-drive bubble.
"There's a group of
thinkers in the field of UFOs that point out that phenomena
reported around some UFOs do, in fact, look exactly like general
relativity effects," Lemke said.
"Missing time is a
very common one."
Lemke said that the idea
that somebody has figured out how to manipulate space-time, on a
local scale with a low-energy approach, would explain a lot of
things across the UFO phenomenon, including those baffling 'Tic-Tac'-shaped
objects recently reported by jet-fighter pilots and radar
"No matter how much
knowledge we have, how much we think we know, there's always
some frontier beyond," he said.
"And to understand that frontier
is getting more and more esoteric."