Today I'm going to revisit an essay I wrote for Baen Books in 2011 called, "The Aliens Are Not Among Us." You can find the original post here: http://www.baen.com/Aliens.asp
I recently attended a space professional conference filled with engineers and scientists who work in the space and aerospace industries - from NASA, Lockheed-Martin, Boeing and many other well-known companies and universities. As you might expect, most of the papers presented were heavily technical and provided a fairly good snapshot of today's rocket and space technologies. Very few covered novel advanced space transportation systems and fewer still talked about systems that might one day take us to the stars.
Yet, at lunch, the topic of interstellar travel came up which included, unfortunately, a digression into 'flying saucer' lore. We covered it all: from ancient astronauts, to Roswell and pyramids on Mars with alien autopsy videos interspersed within. Most, like me, quickly dismissed the notions that we are being visited and/or that our government can keep anything of this magnitude secret. And yet... some were not convinced, or at least it seemed that way.
When I was a teenager, I was a 'believer.' I read all the books, including those by J. Allen Hynek and Brad Steiger; those about Project Blue Book; and still others about alleged alien abductions. My skin used to crawl and I spent many hours stargazing, wondering from where they came. That stargazing played a major role in my studying physics in college and graduate school and it shaped my career. Physics and a liberal arts degree from Transylvania University (it's real; look it up) taught me critical thinking and that's what led me to where I am today - a 'non-believer' in alien visitors.
Why? It all a matter of probabilities and our tendency to radically underestimate Deep Time.
Read the Baen essay and you'll understand what I mean.
co-author (with Ben Bova) of Rescue Mode - coming in paperback this September from Baen Books