As a NASA research scientist and now a professor of physics, I attended the 2002 NASA Contact Conference, which focused on serious speculation about extraterrestrials.  During the meeting a concerned participant said loudly in a sinister tone, ‘You have absolutely no idea what is out there!’ The silence was palpable as the truth of this statement sunk in. Humans are fearful of extraterrestrials

visiting Earth. Perhaps fortunately, the distances between the stars are prohibitively vast. At least this is what we novices, who are just learning to travel into space, tell ourselves.  I have always been interested in UFOs. Of course, there was the excitement that there could be aliens and other living worlds. But more exciting to me was the possibility that interstellar travel was technologically achievable. READ MORE