Monday, December 06, 2010

"Wonders in the Sky" [By Jacques Vallee & Chris Aubeck]: Why We've Always Been Obsessed with UFOs

Wonders in the Sky - Unexplained Aerial Objects from Antiquity to Modern Times By Jacques Vallee & Chris Aubeck
          

     
By Michael Humphrey
www.salon.com
12-5-10


Unexplained sightings date back thousands of years and span the globe. What does that say about us?
     UFO skeptics take note: Strange flying objects have been haunting our planet for much longer than many people think. Over 3,000 years ago, in the Egyptian Nile Valley, a man reported looking into the sky to see a "shining disk" descend and tell him to build a new city. On Sept. 11, 1787, in Edinburgh, Scotland, a group of people reported, "a fiery globe larger than the sun" moving eastward in a horizontal direction and dipping below the horizon before exploding behind a cloud. Eight years later, in the Quangxi province of China, a "large star" rose and fell three times, followed by another star that "crashed in a village."

According to Jacques Vallee, the French-born astronomer and co-author (with Chris Aubeck) of the hypnotic new book "Wonders in the Sky: Unexplained Aerial Objects from Antiquity to Modern Times," these stories are important not only because they show that flying things have been capturing our imagination for centuries, but because of what they say about our most cherished beliefs and deepest fears. In the book, Vallee and Aubeck list 500 claims of sightings, in chronological order, between the years 1460 BC and 1879, and argue that the commonalities -- references to light, round shapes, erratic flight and terror in the observer -- offer us real insight into human behavior and our need to find explanation for things we cannot explain.

Salon spoke with Vallee from his home in San Francisco about our religious connection to UFOs, the controversy surrounding his own work -- and our endless cultural obsession with flying objects.

Your book calls "alien contact" humankind's oldest story. How so?

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