Do you believe in unidentified flying objects (UFOs)? When asked that question I usually respond, “What does that mean?” If it means do I think aliens from another planet have landed on Earth then the answer is no. We have never found any evidence of life complex or simple, anywhere outside of our own planet.
If it means do aliens exist somewhere in the universe then the answer is unknown. It would be excellent to know one day, yet at the moment the answer is completely unknown. So what about famous claims about UFOs, with one such example being the supposed crash of a UFO near Roswell, New Mexico in 1949?
Following the release of classified records released in 1995 we now know the full story. It all started when the United States government initiated an experiment called Project Mogul in the mid- to late-1940s to monitor any Russian nuclear tests taking place at the time. Detectors were constructed consisting of many fat round-shaped microphones called disk microphones. The disk microphones were so sensitive that they could detect sound vibrations from distant sources such as those produced in distant mushroom clouds.
Operationally, many disk microphones were tethered together using strings and then flown as one large system of sound detectors at high altitudes across the desert. Project Mogul did manage to detect a real Russian nuclear test in 1949 and measure its strength. The interesting part is that wwo years prior to this experimental run, there was an unsuccessful run in which the entire disk microphone system crashed in the desert near to a town called Roswell, New Mexico.
Residents noticed hardware falling out of the sky. When prompted for what had happened, a spokesperson for Project Mogul accidentally divulged that “flying disks” (the nickname for the disk microphones) had crashed. This press release, which revealed top secret information, was quickly corrected to read that a weather balloon had crashed.
The new explanation did not fly (excuse the pun!) as residents of Roswell had already recovered parts that did not resemble a balloon. Further, the unfortunate choice of nickname of flying disks sounds an awful lot like “flying saucers.” At that point the spokesperson, who had already said too much, was forced to remain silent. Thanks to healthy and unchecked human imagination, the story went ‘viral,’ and a fairy tale was born.