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I was doing 70 miles per hour, speeding north out of Los Angeles on the 5 freeway on a typical Southern California morning during the 1990's. Suddenly, a flash of silver in the cloudless sky caught my attention. Then, there was nothing but the pale California blue. Then it flashed again, and again. And just as I started to ponder what it might be, the flashing stopped. Three hours later, when I got home, the first thing I told my my wife,  Samantha, was that I had seen a UFO. 

Now, any object you see in the sky which you cannot identify is by definition, an Unidentified Flying Object. And I had seen one.  But what I had not seen was a flying saucer, as in something built by aliens to visit our world.  

While watching the ten o'clock news my UFO was identified as a small home-built experimental “light” aircraft, flying out of Whiteman Airport, in Pacoma (above).  The engine had suddenly quit, and the plane had spiraled into the ground, sadly, killing the pilot. And with this knowledge, I realized every time the spinning plane's wings reflected the sunlight toward me I saw the object. Otherwise the plane was too small and too far away for me to have seen it. 

But what were the odds that I would have been in the exact position and looking in the exact direction to see that plane during the 20 seconds it took to fall three thousand feet? My sighting of that UFO was an extremely unlikely event, but far more likely than an alien spaceship visiting the earth. 

Twenty percent of Americans expect aliens to first land in Washington, D.C., which means that 20% of Americans are, in my opinion, too stupid to find their own feet in the dark. About one in three Americans believe flying saucers are alien visitors.  Barely two in ten are brave enough to assert unequivocally that UFO's are not alien spacecraft. I say all of this not because I believe I am right, but because I know I am. 

Just to leave the earth you have to be going 25,000 miles an hour, which is a very expensive and complicated thing to do.  And if you should see a rocket from an odd angle or at an odd time of day (above), it may look nothing like a televised launch. Being humans, with brains designed to make "sense" of what we see, connecting what we see with what we expect to see, with what we have seen before, it becomes easy to see something that is not what we think it is.

In one of the first UFO sightings, in 1947, over Seattle Washington, an experienced military pilot reported a formation of UFOs that raced away from him,  climbing and diving in defiance of gravity, while maintaining perfect formation. Since no one else saw the "aliens" the report can never be absolutely confirmed or absolutely denied. But a recreation by the PBS program NOVA showed the UFO's could have simply been sunlight reflections on the airplane's canopy.  I can't prove that is was reflections. But ask yourself,  what is more likely - aliens or a simple mistaken assumption when the pilot saw something he did not expect to see when and where he did not expect to see it?  Do you want to panic? Then it was aliens. If you prefer not to panic, then it probably wasn't, and life goes on. It's your choice

Also, consider this;   as difficult as it is to go 7 miles a minute just to get off this rock, in terms of space travel, escape velocity  is like backing out of your driveway. 

From the earth to the sun (called an Astronomical Unit) (above)  is 93 million miles. It would take 176 years to drive to the sun in a Chevette at 70 miles an hour, and you would need special glasses. Call them sun glasses. 

Neptune, the 8th and farthest planet in our solar system  is 30.5 AU's from the sun, so just to get out of our neighborhood you would have to drive that Chevette (above) at 70 miles and hour, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, for 5,369 years to get to Neptune.  And that would just get you to the edge of our property line, speaking universally. 

The nearest star to our own sun, in other words the house next door, is Proxima Centuri (above, in the red triangle), which is 15, 300 AU from our sun. That means it would take you, at 70 miles an hour,  two million, six hundred ninety-two thousand, eight hundred years to drive there. And at 30 miles to the gallon, that would be a very expensive trip for a Chevette.

Of course, the assumption is that aliens have warp-drive, or hyperdrive or star-drive or maybe  "fold space", which allows then to travel faster than the speed of light. I guess, on a Saturday night future human teenagers will just zip down to the McDonald's on Proxima Centuri to hang out.

 And I wish that were true, I really do. I am a big Star Strek/Star Wars fan. (Dr. Crusher was the MLF. of my 30's ) But it ain't gonna happen, folks.

Let's say you wanted to build an interetellar Chevette. I would suggest a few style changes, just because. But even if you kept the classic hatch-back earth size, that car weighs about 2,000 pounds. So, just to get that hatchback into orbit would take 57,000 pounds of thrust, or a 28.5 to one ratio of thrust to weight. Now that ratio drops quickly the further you get from the center of the earth. But as you go faster the ratio starts to go back up, and quickly, because - and hold on to your hat here – ...
Fueling up your 2,000 pound Chevette to reach the speed of light would require 69 billion, 192 million pounds of thrust... except, as you go faster, the Chevette gets heavier. Which means you need more thrust, leading to more mass, requiring more thrust, making more weight, requiring more thrust, etc. ad nauseum. 
That's because the amount of additional thrust required to go even one millionth of a mile per hour faster is always squared, (E=mc2) until the additional thrust required to go even one millionth of one mile an hour faster is infinite. That means that the last little bit of energy required to go from 175, 999 and 9/10ths miles per second to 176,000 miles per second - aka 300,000,000 meters per second - would require you to convert all matter in the universe into energy - including your Chevette.  Relatively speaking,  you can not get to the speed of light unless you start out as light. 
Of course, science fiction writers envision ways of changing the rules of the game, by warping space, or using a convenient worm hole. Except you might as well say going down the worm hole with Alice will get you to Proxima Centuri in five minutes flat. It might. But nobody has ever actually seen a worm hole up close or figured how to get into one. Or designed a workable a warp drive.
Let me, as a male, explain it this way. The speed of light is like a gentleman's club where friendly beautiful naked woman gyrate on your lap. But just to get in the club requires you to hand over all your credit cards. And without a credit card, the beautiful women will no longer gyrate within  a hundred feet of you. 
Just getting into a worm hole requires you to get squished flat in a gravity field, after you have been  bombarded with enough radiation to make you transparent - for the fraction of second before you are disassembled into your individual atoms.  Can I prove that? Aha!. I don't need to. I'm not the one claiming there is a magical way of getting something for nothing out of the universe. You might was well ask a Republican for a affordable health insurance.
Is there life on other planets? Of course there is. On this planet there is life crowded around 700 degree thermal vents, in the deepest, darkest parts of the ocean -  bacteria, tubeworms (above), clams, mussels, and shrimp - and even in the space between rocks thousands of miles beneath the surface, These creatures never see sunlight, and find oxygen poisonous and thrive in crushing gravity and melting tempuratures. They actually eat hydrogen and sulfur. There are even bacteria that eat acid and petroleum. On this planet. Why wouldn't there be life on other planets?
 With an estimated 6 sextillion planets in the universe (that's a 6 followed by 21 zeros), it becomes certain that there is life out there, probably everywhere. But is also certain, they have not and will not visit us because they cannot travel at the speed of light. Let alone faster. Nobody can. It's not unlikely.  It is impossible.
 Sorry, but that's just the way it is.  Grow up and get used to it. UFO's ain't alien space ships. They are just stuff we haven't identified yet. But we will. Eventually. Be patient. Some day, Gates McFadden may even ask me for a date. It's possible. It just ain't likely.
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