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SPACE.com Columnist Leonard David

Are the aliens us? UFOs may be piloted by time-traveling humans, book argues

Close encounters with our future selves?
Close encounters with our future selves?
(Image: © thortful.com)

Unidentified flying objects (UFOs) have captured the public's attention over the decades. As exoplanet detection is on the rise, why not consider that star-hopping visitors from afar might be buzzing through our friendly skies by taking an interstellar off-ramp to Earth?

On the other hand, could those piloting UFOs be us — our future progeny that have mastered the landscape of time and space? Perhaps those reports of people coming into contact with strange beings represent our distant human descendants, returning from the future to study us in their own evolutionary past. 

The idea of us being them has been advanced before. But a recent book, "Identified Flying Objects: A Multidisciplinary Scientific Approach to the UFO Phenomenon" (Masters Creative LLC, 2019), takes a fresh look at this prospect, offering some thought-provoking proposals.

Related: UFO Watch: 8 Times the Government Looked for Flying Saucers

"Identified Flying Objects: A Multidisciplinary Scientific Approach to the UFO Phenomenon" (Masters Creative LLC, 2019) argues that UFOs may be piloted by time-traveling humans.

"Identified Flying Objects: A Multidisciplinary Scientific Approach to the UFO Phenomenon" (Masters Creative LLC, 2019) argues that UFOs may be piloted by time-traveling humans. (Image credit: Masters Creative LLC, 2019)

Multidisciplinary approach

The book was written by Michael Masters, a professor of biological anthropology at Montana Technological University in Butte. Masters thinks that – given the accelerating pace of change in science, technology, and engineering –  it is likely that humans of the distant future could develop the knowledge and machinery necessary to return to the past. 

The objective of the book, Masters said, is to spur a new and more informed discussion among believers and skeptics alike. 

"I took a multidisciplinary approach in order to try and understand the oddities of this phenomenon," Masters told Space.com. "Our job as scientists is to be asking big questions and try to find answers to unknown questions. There's something going on here, and we should be having a conversation about this. We should be at the forefront of trying to find out what it is."

Human evolution

Dubbing these purported visitors "extratempestrials," Masters notes that close-encounter accounts typically describe UFO tenants as bipedal, hairless, human-like beings with large brains, large eyes, small noses and small mouths. Further, the creatures are often said to have the ability to communicate with us in our own languages and possess technology advanced beyond, but clearly built upon, today's technological prowess. 

Masters believes that through a comprehensive analysis of consistent patterns of long-term biocultural change throughout human evolution — as well as recent advances in our understanding of time and time travel — we may begin to consider this future possibility in the context of a currently unexplained phenomenon. 

"The book ties together those known aspects of our evolutionary history with what is still an unproven, unverified aspect of UFOs and aliens," he said.

But why not argue that ET is actually a traveler from across the vastness of space, from a distant planet? Wouldn't that be a simpler answer?

"I would argue it's the opposite," Masters responded. "We know we're here. We know humans exist. We know that we've had a long evolutionary history on this planet. And we know our technology is going to be more advanced in the future. I think the simplest explanation, innately, is that it is us. I'm just trying to offer what is likely the most parsimonious explanation."

Related: 5 Bold Claims of Alien Life

Artist's view of an aerial encounter with an unidentified flying object. (Image credit: MUFON)

Archaeological tourism

As an anthropologist who has worked on and directed numerous archaeological digs in Africa, France and throughout the United States, Masters observes that it is easy to conceptualize just how much more could be learned about our own evolutionary history if we currently possessed the technology to visit past periods of time. 

"The alleged abduction accounts are mostly scientific in nature. It's probably future anthropologists, historians, linguists that are coming back to get information in a way that we currently can't without access to that technology," Masters said. 

"That said, I do think that some component of it is also tourism," he added. "Undoubtedly in the future, there are those that will pay a lot of money to have the opportunity to go back and observe their favorite period in history. Some of the most popular tourist sites are the pyramids of Giza and Machu Picchu in Peru … old and prehistoric sites."

Masters calls his UFO research "an evolving project."

"There's certainly still missing pieces of the puzzle," he said. "There are aspects of time that we don't yet understand. Wanted is a theory of quantum gravity, and we can meld general relativity and quantum mechanics. I'm just trying to put forth the best model I can based on current scientific knowledge. Hopefully, over time, we can continue to build on this." 

Solve this mystery

"Masters postulates that using a multidisciplinary scientific approach to the UFO phenomenon will be what it takes to solve this mystery once and for all, and I couldn't agree more," said Jan Harzan, executive director of the nonprofit Mutual UFO Network (MUFON).

"The premise that UFOs are us from the future is one of many possibilities that MUFON is exploring to explain the UFO phenomenon. All we know for sure is that we are not alone," Harzan added. "Now the question becomes, 'Who are they?' And Masters makes a great case for the time-traveler hypothesis." 

Tic-Tac-shaped objects were recently reported zipping through the sky by jet-fighter pilots and radar operators. The Pentagon's Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP) was created to research and investigate Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP), including numerous videos of reported encounters, three of which were released to the public in 2017.

Tic-Tac-shaped objects were recently reported zipping through the sky by jet-fighter pilots and radar operators. The Pentagon's Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP) was created to research and investigate Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP), including numerous videos of reported encounters, three of which were released to the public in 2017. (Image credit: U.S. Department of Defense/To The Stars Academy of Arts & Science)

'Highly dubious claim'

But not everybody is on board with the idea, as you might imagine.

"There is nothing in this book to take seriously, as it depends on the belief that 'time travel' is not only possible, but real," said Robert Sheaffer, a noted UFO skeptic.

Supposedly our distant descendants have mastered time travel, Sheaffer said, and have traveled back in time to visit us. "So, according to Masters, you just spin something fast enough and it will begin to warp space, and even send stuff backwards in time. This is a highly dubious claim," he said.

Moreover, Sheaffer said that Masters tries to deduce aliens' evolutionary history from witness descriptions, "suggesting that he takes such accounts far too literally."

Related: 7 Things Most Often Mistaken for UFOs

The problem of 'if'

David Darling is a British astronomer and science writer who has authored books on a sweeping array of topics – from gravity, Zen physics and astrobiology to teleportation and extraterrestrial life.

"I've often thought that if some UFOs are 'alien' craft, it's just as reasonable to suppose that they might be time machines from our own future than that they're spacecraft from other stars," Darling told Space.com. "The problem is the 'if.'

Darling said that, while some aerial phenomena have eluded easy identification, one of the least likely explanations, it seems to him, is that they're artificial and not of this world.

"Outside of the popular mythos of flying saucers and archetypal, big-brained aliens, there's precious little credible evidence that they exist," Darling said. "So, my issue with the book is not the ingenuity of its thesis, but the fact that there's really no need for such a thesis in the first place."

Reported UFOs take on all shapes and sizes.  (Image credit: U.K. National Archives sightings chart, circa 1969)

Exotic physics?

Larry Lemke, a retired NASA aerospace engineer with an interest in the UFO phenomenon, finds the prospect of time-travelling visitors from the future intriguing.

"The one thing that has become clear over the decades of sightings, if you believe the reports, is that these objects don't seem to be obeying the usual laws of aerodynamics and Newtonian mechanics," Lemke said, referring to the relationship, in the natural world, between force, mass and motion. 

Toss in for good measure Einstein's theory of general relativity and its consequences, like wormholes and black holes, along with other exotic physics ideas such as the Alcubierre warp-drive bubble

"There's a group of thinkers in the field of UFOs that point out that phenomena reported around some UFOs do, in fact, look exactly like general relativity effects," Lemke said. Missing time is a very common one."

Lemke said that the idea that somebody has figured out how to manipulate space-time, on a local scale with a low-energy approach, would explain a lot of things across the UFO phenomenon, including those baffling Tic-Tac-shaped objects recently reported by jet-fighter pilots and radar operators. 

"No matter how much knowledge we have, how much we think we know, there's always some frontier beyond," he said. "And to understand that frontier is getting more and more esoteric."

Leonard David is the author of the recently released book, "Moon Rush: The New Space Race" published by National Geographic in May 2019. A longtime writer for Space.com, David has been reporting on the space industry for more than five decades. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook. 

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  • Garret Moore
    Admin said:
    Could the creatures piloting UFOs be us? A recent book argues that reports of aliens here on Earth may be describing our distant human descendants, returning from the future to study us in their own evolutionary past.

    Are the aliens us? UFOs may be piloted by time-traveling humans, book argues : Read more
    With our profoundly limited knowledge of such phenomena, any such possibility of this idea being true is quite probable until our politically, religious-stained, and generally pre-intelligent sciences can advance beyond the current nieve assumptions that we are locked within. With seemingly impenetrable walls of ridicule and intellectual dogma, our lense is profoundly myopic and distorted. Until proper science is performed in such research-dry questions, investigations and/or wider ontological fields of understanding are allowed in the process of investigations such questions will seem impossible to parse. Additionally, if a more intelligent bandwidth beyond the fragmented and compartmentalized nature of all our sciences is integrated our sciences will remain ignorant and borderline Catatonic (https://wb.md/2TIzkas). Look at our current human understanding as you would standard scientists out of the 17th century to simulate an appropriate proportioned understanding of where we are at now that would maybe create an impetus to grow beyond the current assumptions of our modern limited grasp of the universe and nature of our reality. The cognitive dissonance of our assumed civilized understanding is profound.
    Reply
  • Toshimi Kitamura
    From which age are these time travellers? How long timespan does the age where the time travellers are from cover?
    Can the time travellers visit their future and learn the more advanced technologies than their own? If so, the age (the time) they live in mean technologically as good as every age.
    Reply
  • RikF
    In order to travel in time they would also need to be able to travel great distances in space, very long distances compared to what we are capable of now. The earth and the whole solar system moves through space, so a time traveler would need to figure out not only to which point in time he is traveling but also to where in space he should travel in order to reach that time.
    Reply
  • Undefined Traveler
    They are not human, they are robots that reached singularity.
    Humans can't survive most of UFO's speed.

    Why they are here watching military bases?
    To keep the past unchanged, so everything happens the way it should ( to them exist ).
    If there were humans in this future, we would be warned.
    Reply
  • - Field Theory -
    Admin said:
    Could the creatures piloting UFOs be us? A recent book argues that reports of aliens here on Earth may be describing our distant human descendants, returning from the future to study us in their own evolutionary past.

    Are the aliens us? UFOs may be piloted by time-traveling humans, book argues : Read more
    Time travel isn't possible backwards. Time isn't a special or transversable dimension, rather it is a human concept of information transferring from point A to point B. Time (information) can slow down but cannot speed up nor can it go backwards. Here is my reason.

    In the theory of special relativity light, space and time are connected. The idea is that space and time are linked and that when a mass or an object interacts with space also alters time, very watered down version, many people then thought this meant that time can be re erased and speeded up, but that isn't the case as time is literally just the greatest transfer of energy or information through space. The fastest way for any information to travel through space is the speed of c, forgetting quantum entanglement for now, c is a fixed value and doesn't change at all, but when light travels through a medium is doesn't slow but it takes longer to transfer through matter, this means that when space (distance) alters due to a large mass affected space the time it takes for light to reach point a to point b has increased, this slows the rate of change therefore slowing the time. But the reason why time cannot go backwards is that the speed of light is capped at c and is the fastest possible method. Here is something I constructed:

    Time (t) = Distance (d) / Speed of light (maximum travel time of information through space) (C)

    Anyways that's my theory / reason / concept on why I think travelling through time isn't possible, also going backwards in time would cause lots of information paradoxes very very horrible ones and multitude of other issues.

    Anyways if you disagree that's fine but really the concept of aliens on earth isn't really likely and if there were aliens it doesn't make sense for them to hide unless they had other intentions, plus seeing aliens links very well into psychology and the placebo effect. And lastley its fun to imagine cool concepts such as aliens or human time travellers but we should be realistic and factual and only rely on actual evidence that can be replicated and analysed in great detail otherwise it cannot be proven and is therefore false until proven. Think what you may but I do not think aliens or future humans would be so careless and if they were future humans then they've made a huge paradox.
    Reply
  • - Field Theory -
    RikF said:
    In order to travel in time they would also need to be able to travel great distances in space, very long distances compared to what we are capable of now. The earth and the whole solar system moves through space, so a time traveler would need to figure out not only to which point in time he is traveling but also to where in space he should travel in order to reach that time.
    I agree since space is expanding and we're moving in rotation, in a orbit, in a solar system orbit and through the universe it must be very very hard to locate and get the right location.
    Reply
  • FrankT
    Toshimi Kitamura said:
    From which age are these time travellers? How long timespan does the age where the time travellers are from cover?
    Can the time travellers visit their future and learn the more advanced technologies than their own? If so, the age (the time) they live in mean technologically as good as every age.
    If one can travel to the future, non-relativistically, that implies future exists simultaneously with present. If future exists simultaneously with present, that implies present exists simultaneously with the past. That will means every instances of time in the past, present and future, all exist simultaneously in one same instance. Our passage from past to present and to future events gives us the sense of flow of time. There in fact is no time but every instances of events which occurs in this universe from creation to infinity and beyond, they all exist concurrently with each other, we are just players going from one event to another. Super advance technology in the far far future may enable a being to move around among those events, like chess on a chess board.
    Reply
  • Brian E. Mullin
    Dear Admin. I have another theory. Man invented the UFO's we are seeing, filming & recording. I also think man may have manipulated his gene-pool to breed smaller, or taller, thinner, species of men: (ie: the Greys,) to pilot the earlier-ones, (like space-chimps of sort.) These are your Aliens. I have done allot of online-research, and believe we; (Mankind,) have already-invented Atmospheric/Space-Crafts capable of using Altered-Physics, Hyper-Space and/or Time/Space Travel-Fluctuations: (UFOs & USOs;) For example the Triangular-Shaped, Zero-Point Energy based: TR-3B Astra & Sporster, and TR-6 Telos: Recognosence/Targeting Crafts. These, and the Flying-Cigar Crafts are employed by our Newly-Formed 'Space Force,' which was, or has been part-of: The Secret Space Force.~ (Mr. B-1.) Time will reveal the Truth!~
    Reply
  • Whiplash
    If time travel is possible, then why did Hitler last so long?
    Reply
  • Garret Moore
    Another idea occurs to me. If one of the other 11 known dimensions has a different time flow what's to say if our species from our future could use that dimension to transport individuals back? Making time travel in any direction possible? Then what about a multiverse alternative world, or would any alternate future never reach the intended with changes they want and simply branches off this one and creates another future and universe? Any way you slice it it is unanswerable or purely an exercise in speculative discussion.
    Reply