By SAINT BRYANAccording to recent polls, almost 50 percent of Americans and millions of people around the world believe that UFO's are real.
An alien race invading planet Earth and taking over – it's an idea so powerful, it has drawn millions into movie theaters.
But isn't that kind of stuff pure fantasy?
Not to Seattle inventor Michael Menkin.
"We are being invaded right now," he said. "And they're taking children as well as adults."
Menkin, a brilliant technical writer who's worked for Boeing and NASA, has spent much of his life gathering evidence of alien abductions.
Among the most disturbing are dozens of drawings by a 9-year-old Texas girl named Ariel who first began drawing aliens five years ago.
Ariel has tried to illustrate telepathic communications and she has drawn pictures of herself on an examination table, aliens coming for her brother, and she playing with little alien babies.
Her mother Joni felt afraid, because she too she says has been frequently abducted by aliens.
"This may sound crazy, but I also have memories and I have memories of this baby being removed from me, being taken more than once," she cried.
What's going on? It's a mystery only science can resolve and yet remains largely unexamined.
What we do know is that there are as many as 3 million Americans who believe they've encountered aliens and among hard-core believers, one frightening theory for these visits comes up over and over again.
"What the aliens are planning to do is put their own race on our planet, so their process now is to create that race that uses some human genes mixed with their genes, as fantastic as the story sounds," said Menkin.
The babies Ariel drew, Menkin says, are all hybrids – part human, part alien.
"They start taking children when they're a very young age," he continued. "They actually have these children play with their hybrid children to teach these hybrids how to be humans."
Because mainstream science has scoffed at such ideas, Michael Menkin has decided to take the aliens on himself.
His weapons: a hair dryer, leather helmets and $200 rolls of an antistatic product called Velostat.
"Right now the Thought Screen Helmet is the only thing the entire human race has to stop the aliens," he said.
The secret is in the Velostat. Menkin says it jams alien telepathic communication.
"People wear this and when they wear it, the aliens cannot communicate with them and it actually works better than I thought it would," he said. "I found that in a lot of cases the aliens don't even come down when they wear the hat."
To date, Menkin has sent more than 50 thought screen helmets around the world. He says they're free.
"I'm not making any money off this," he said.
Joni also wears one of the hats. She says she no longer feels afraid.
Ariel also wears a helmet.
Menkin says he gets ridiculed a lot.
"My strategy is, if I keep making more hats and keep finding more abductees with hats, then I get more evidence and that's exactly what's happening," he said.
Menkin isn't giving up.
"I'm 100 percent convinced," he said. "I work almost every weekend either making baseball caps or leather hats, so I must be convinced."
Ever since "Close Encounters" enchanted moviegoers in the 1970s, scientists and UFO-believers alike have been dreaming of the contact experience.
Menkin came by his fascination with "things interplanetary" at a young age.
"My father was the creator of Captain Video, which was the first science fiction television show which ran from 1949 to 1956," he said.
At its peak, more than 125 stations carried the program.
He also read science fiction. In fact, it was Doc Smith's 1951 classic "Gray Lensman" that gave Menkin the idea to develop thought screen helmets.
Michael Menkin wants to wake up the world. He says it's already happening.