(NewsNation) – A new plan to broadcast Earth’s location and genetic information about humans in space has some wondering if we’re inviting our own demise. But astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson says it’s probably too late to worry about it anyway.
“We’ve been inadvertently sending television signals since the dawn of television,” he told NewsNation’s “Banfield” program on Friday. He said all aliens within 80 light years have probably picked them up already.
It comes as the government has been more open about unidentified flying objects. A Pentagon report released this month says some witnesses who reported UFO sightings also suffered injuries, including radiation burns, brain problems and damaged nerves.
While the Defense Intelligence Agency, or DIA, memo isn’t the hard evidence needed to confirm life on Earth or other plants, deGrasse Tyson thinks we should investigate further.
And Tyson says “if they have spaceships coming to Earth, we (humans) are not the smartest”.
Neil deGrasse Tyson talks about UFOs, the depths of the universe and his new book on NewsNation’s “Banfield.”
Below is a full transcript of the interview, edited for grammar and clarity.
Brian Entin: Fortunately, I am joined by someone who knows all this. Neil deGrasse Tyson is an astrophysicist, planetary scientist and author of the new book “Welcome to the Universe in 3D: A Visual Tour”. The first thing I want to ask you, in terms of trying to send messages to these extraterrestrials, can you explain why they chose to do this, or why they want to be in these messages to the Milky Way.
Neil deGrasse Tyson: Well, Milky Way is our own galaxy. And so a signal would reach the stars much sooner than if we tried to send it outside our galaxy to other star systems. What do I mean by much earlier? It would achieve this in thousands of years, or in tens of thousands of years, rather than in millions of years. Don’t expect an answer anytime soon. These signals travel at the speed of light. But of course it’s a different question whether we should do that at all.
Brian Entine: It freaks me out. If there are extraterrestrials, and there seems to be all this new evidence that there are, that they exist out there, why do we really want to send out this kind of information? I mean, how do you get to Earth? Would we want to send that out there in the universe?
Neil deGrasse Tyson: But just to be clear, this is not evidence for extraterrestrials that is being presented. It’s proof of things that people can’t explain. And just because you can’t explain it doesn’t equate to the claim that therefore they must be aliens. They therefore cannot be explained. The universe is full of mysteries. So we should study it further. I have no hesitation about this. But I can tell you that anyone who has worked for the government knows how deeply incompetent the government is. So it’s easier for me to believe that we were actually visited by aliens than we were visited by aliens and that the government managed to keep the report secret and locked up.
That’s a good point, Neil. This is a very good point. They would have just saved time by keeping it a secret.
Neil deGrasse Tyson: Think Area 51 Janitor, right? Who sees the dragon, the alien, they’ll just take a picture of it. The janitor will lose his job overnight, but will be the most famous and richest janitor ever.
Brian Entine: You’d think he would have fled at this point, Neil. And you made a good point, I said aliens, but really, those are just the UFOs that we know exist out there. It’s not identified, and we don’t know what they are. There is no specific evidence of extraterrestrials. But in the movies, at least, they always seem a lot smarter than us. I mean, is it possible they’re there, and we’re actually the smartest?
Neil deGrasse Tyson: If they have spaceships coming to Earth, we’re not the smartest. I can tell you that. You know, we haven’t left low Earth orbit since 1972. So, no. If they have the technology to reach us, they are responsible. But just to be clear, if you care to send signals there, with our home address, I understand. And I feel that because you don’t give your email address to a stranger on the street who is of your same species, do you? So I understand the resistance. But here is the difference. It’s too late. We’ve been sending TV signals inadvertently since the dawn of television. And so the radio, it’s called the radio bubble, and it’s this bubble of radio waves moving at the speed of light that’s been doing it since the 1930s, 1940s. And so the extraterrestrials up to 80 years – light, if they are there, they already know everything about us thanks to our TV. I don’t know how accurate that would be. It’s just our TV signals. But that is what they base their understanding of human life on. And it seems to me, based on this evidence, that they would surely conclude that there is no sign of intelligent life on Earth.
Brian Entine: It’s interesting, when you think that five or ten years ago, when you had this conversation about UFOs, you were immediately thought of as some kind of crazy, and it was a real conspiracy theory . And now it really has become a legitimate conversation. I mean, ever since the government released some of these documents, we know there was a major study. It’s quite interesting to see how the conversation evolved. And now you can really talk about it, and people don’t think you’re totally crazy.
Neil deGrasse Tyson: It is partly true. There was the Bluebook project, which came out of the 1960s and 70s, which finally got published. It was an official government study of objects in the sky. And that was kind of helpful because, if the Russians were developing some kind of new device, you’d want people to look it up and report it. So there was a way to report the unidentified, or strange, objects you cited. At the time, it wasn’t so crazy to have done it. But you’re right, if you’ve got headlines now and the New York Times is talking about it, it’s definitely reached a new era.
But my rebuttal here is that if there is an alien invasion, that would be the source of the 3 billion cell phones currently active on this planet, which take high resolution images and video. We would know. And how many people look out the window at the planes, everything that passes… A Google map of your city. If the spaceship was coming, we have so many ways to see it, much better than the military camera. Because we’re looking at the whole Earth in high resolution images in a way they can’t. So I’m still waiting for that video of the alien coming down from the flying saucer coming to greet the person who’s about to be abducted. You can stream this live, and it will go viral overnight. We have cat videos that are going viral overnight. If you get an alien, oh my, that’s a game changer.
Brian Entine: Neil, do you think the world is really ready to know for sure whether or not there are UFOs? Or aliens? And could people really handle it?
Neil deGrasse Tyson: Well, part of the worry. Alright, so two points. So if we send our return address, we are afraid that they will come and destroy us. But think about it for a moment. This fear is therefore a fear of what extraterrestrials could do with technology superior to ours. But what is it based on? And I think I know, it’s based on our real knowledge of what we do to each other. The whole history of high tech civilizations meeting the lower tech civilization has never boded well for the lower tech civilization. So I think we’re planting our cultural societal fears on this mysterious thing over there, for which there’s no evidence.
Brian Entine: Yeah, and I think we’re relying a lot on the movies, and we kind of just created our own take on what it might look like, Neil deGrasse Tyson. It was so nice talking to you. Thanks for being with us tonight.
Neil deGrasse Tyson: Happy happy to be on. Thank you.
Former FBI agent Ben Hansen and UFO expert Nick Pope also joined NewsNation’s “Banfield” to offer insight into UFO sightings and possible government cover-ups.
“The fact that we now have billions of cell phone cameras. The facts that Neil has made are quite salient, however, what he fails to mention is that even though cell phone cameras have reached a level of technology far beyond just five years ago, it’s really hard to take framed, crisp video that’s quality at night.” said Hansen.
Pope acknowledged that there are some strange reports, however, “the uncomfortable truth is that everything looks like science fiction and a conspiracy theory. Someone in government looked into it.