January 13, 2011
Alien Spaceship Crash Theory And Tech Advances

What's the biggest argument against conspiracy theories of a US government cover-up of the existence of a crashed spaceship in a secret government lab? Think about it. There's an obvious way we could tell is such an event had happened decades ago. What is it?

My argument against an alien spaceship crash: If such a crashed spaceship existed it would have been at least partially reverse engineered, yielding amazing advances in technology, But the US government did not generate a very big jumps forward in technology. If the US government had extremely advanced alien technology to reverse-engineer the US government would have ended up getting some of that tech leaking out to industries that supply it. We could look back at the last 50 years of technological advance and spot advances that were much larger than any that happened. Therefore I doubt the existence of the secret crashed spacecraft secreted away in Roswell or Area 51.

Update: Answering some objections from the comments:

  • We do not stand in the same relationship to highly advanced aliens as cave men did to us. We understand the concept of the scientific method and that the physical universe is governed by physical laws. The cave men had no systematic approach to knowledge, little means to record knowledge, and no specialization of labor for the accumulation of knowledge.
  • Reverse engineering is not an impossible task. We use a large assortment of technologies that were developed over many centuries. Much of our technology would be easy for, say, Leonardo di Vinci to understand. Some alien tech would be within our grasp to understand.
  • One thing that would make our computer and biomedical tech hard for someone of a previous Earth century to reverse engineer is its very small scale. But we can study individual atoms. Unless aliens are creating complex tech at a subatomic level we will be able to study it at the smallest scale. Even if they've found a way to descend to the subatomic level and engineer there at least some of their tech will work at the atomic and larger level and therefore be accessible to our reverse engineering.
  • If alien construction materials had extreme strength and yet an analysis showed their atomic composition seemed incompatible with that strength that knowledge alone would enable materials scientists to focus their attention on questions related to how some combination of atoms could possibly be that strong.
  • Would aliens be so incompetent to crash a spaceship after building something that can travel between the stars? One idea: An alien race looking for a way to transfer technology to us without breaking a treaty against tech transfer could cause an intentional "accidental" crash as a way to give us something to study.
  • The competence of government conspiracies: What hasn't leaked? Could the US government pull off such a conspiracy for decades? Seems beyond its competence.
  • The rate of technological advance already shows signs of unnatural acceleration? The industrial revolution started a couple of hundred years ago and has accelerated even before the 1950s. Look at a long term graph of, say, computing power. It was rising even before Shockley discovered the transistor.
  • Where are the discoveries not obviously made by humans? Some small number of humans really are smart enough to discover things like the transistor. One can study the history of science and trace how many amazing discoveries were made. What technologies of the last 100 years were beyond the reach of the best humans scientists?
Share |      Randall Parker, 2011 January 13 10:40 PM  Space Alien Intelligence

OneEyedMan said at January 13, 2011 11:24 PM:

Have you read "His Master's Voice" by Stanislaw Lem? It deals with how hard this problem might be. Given differences in biology, technological level, and culture, it could be nearly impossible to reverse engineer their equipment. We might not even know which part is the anti-mater containment device and which is the bathroom, and therefore find the whole thing to dangerous to deal with. If a B-2 bomber crash-landed in a hunter gather society I doubt they would get much advancement out of it.

Wannabe Nut Job said at January 13, 2011 11:26 PM:

That's exactly what they WANT you to think, man! That's why they thought to themselves, "We better leak all this advanced alien technology at a rate consistent with the natural rate of human technological advancement so that no one will know it's really alien technology!" And that's exactly what they did! Then they spent the dollars they saved on R&D on building nukes!

adam said at January 14, 2011 1:04 AM:

My biggest problem with any government conspiracy theories is that they assume people in the government are competent. Sure, several federal employees are competent, but to suggest that enough of them are competent enough to cover up an alien encounter just strains credulity.

Henry said at January 14, 2011 1:39 AM:

Edgar Mitchell, the NASA astronaut and the sixth man to walk on the Moon, says that the Roswell crash was real and that aliens have contacted humans several times, but that governments have hidden the truth for 60 years.


BioBob said at January 14, 2011 2:44 AM:


My take - if aliens come, we are toast - nobody would travel so far except to find another home and we would probably taste like chicken since I doubt we would have anything else to offer. Aliens = Kiss your a$$ goodbye.

captain parky said at January 14, 2011 5:29 AM:

think about this . ever since that crash happend we have gone so far advanced laptops mobile phones etc

bbartlog said at January 14, 2011 5:33 AM:

Maybe they kept the technology under their hat, and are using it to power the chemtrail planes, or deploying it at the HAARP station up in Alaska to conduct their secret weather manipulation experiments.
Someday I want to write an essay about how grand conspiracy theories and Gnosticism come from the same psychological wellspring... after all Gnostic theology is basically the ultimate grand conspiracy theory.
I do second OneEyedMan's comment, though. Something advanced and alien might be extraordinarily difficult to reverse engineer; further it's possible that you could sort of understand how it worked, but have no idea how to make the components (think advanced nanomaterials). Or even further, that you could conceive of their manufacture, but that you would first have to build up an entire new technological sector.
In short I don't think your argument is compelling. I lean against the idea of secret alien contact and accompanying conspiracy, but only in about an 80/20 way; At least with aliens involved you have more unquantifiable factors that make it harder to make compelling psychological arguments against the existence of a conspiracy.
Finally, the military apparently does have some sort of information about UFOs that they aren't sharing. Read the section 'UFOs' in Barry Goldwater's wikipedia entry for one bit of evidence. Of course this type of material doesn't need to be hard evidence of any kind; the military likes to classify stuff. Nonetheless if it were really banal you'd expect that a sitting Senator could have gained access.

no said at January 14, 2011 10:07 AM:

So you're disappointed with the current speed of technological progress?
How much faster could it have been?

We only need to look 100 year ago, or less. WW1 era, or even early WW2, its amazing how backward they were especially on medical technology. Aerospace, Computers, Nuclear physics. Its amazing how far we've come so quickly, and its speeding up.

LarryD said at January 14, 2011 10:16 AM:

An essay in Analog pointed out that you could reverse engineer something that was, at most, one breakthrough away from your own technology. The thought experiment was a UAV probe sampling a nuclear weapons test (atmospheric) being shunted back to the 1930s. The transistors and ICs would have been unanalyzable, they would have tested as pure silicon.

The military has found the UFO phenomenon useful over the years, as a way of explaining away sightings of advanced aircraft.

kurt9 said at January 14, 2011 12:52 PM:

If there was a crashed alien space craft, we would have some kind of space drive or wormhole technology by now. Rockets and jet engines would be as obsolete as the horse and buggy. We would also have some kind of fusion or other energy source by now as well. Technological innovations tend to leak. It was difficult to keep the results of the Manhattan Project a secret for very long. There is no way that a government could keep secret this kind of technology for 60 years without someone spilling the beans.

Conspiracy theories are just that.

Chris T said at January 14, 2011 1:51 PM:

It's highly unlikely we'd be able to even recognize alien technology, much less reverse engineer it. Just figuring out what a given piece of hardware even does in broad terms would be extremely difficult.

Reverse engineering equipment from someone relatively close to your own technology level is extremely difficult. Case in point: the Chinese Yu-6 torpedo was introduced in 2005 and is based off of a reversed engineered American Mark 48 torpedo. The Mark 48 was introduced in 1972. Starting in 1995, it took ten years of work to produce the Yu-6. Ten years for a piece of technology first developed thirty years prior.


morpheus said at January 14, 2011 1:58 PM:

lol randall

this was a funny post

could feel nothing but compassion for ur flawed logic, ignorance and lack of knowledge

it this thus a confirmation the most people are indeed ignorant and mentally retarded,

but there is always time for stop beeing an ignorant moron and start doing ur research
here is little bit of help for u:)



kurt9 said at January 14, 2011 5:49 PM:

The alien spaceship crash theory is on par with a related theory that the Nazis invented flying disks shortly before the end of the war and that the allies recovered one or more of them. Die Glocke (the Bell) is supposed to be one of these.

Peter St. Onge said at January 15, 2011 4:50 AM:

I got one word for you: microwave ovens.

Mark Plus said at January 15, 2011 7:33 AM:

The UFO theorists don't stop at just one crashed alien space ship. Some of them, like the ones who show up on woo-woo radio talk shows or on the History Channel's UFO porn, postulate that these super-advanced, super-competent aliens keep crashing their space ships all over our planet.

AlanK said at January 15, 2011 7:57 AM:

Looks like the Air Force used what they learned from that reverse-engineered alien ship to engineer a simulacrum of Randall Parker and throw out smokescreen arguments. I wonder what they did with his corpse.

Faruq said at January 15, 2011 2:27 PM:

Here in the UK,whenever i hear the UFO researchers stating there already exist underground bases where UFO's are experimenting on human subjects (with the apporoval of the UK and US governments),they appear to be very authentic and beliveable. Us humans have a certain 6th sense as to when you're being lied to, this sense isn;t always right,but something tells me that the aliens are already here.

Considerthis said at January 16, 2011 10:41 AM:

Hold on, have you ever considered that maybe if a crash occurred it was deliberate? Hear me out. When a car crashes here in America most people with insurance can get help fairly fast. At a car crash scene within moments you have tow trucks, ambulance, firefighters, police and sometimes even the insurers show up to get an assessment.

Well if we use the human equivalent to a car crash scene and expand upon it to interstellar reaches then one has to ask oneself - wouldn't an advanced species that has made space travel commonplace have an equivalent to OnStar? We seem to assume space travelers are always these solitary beacons drifting through vast unconnected voids rather than like, say, truck drivers.

Reasonably if the species is advanced enough, and assuming they actually use craft to get from place to place rather than say... a hologram, they wouldn't want to crash land into a non-space faring population and let them know about it. Simply because that population would demand recompense on the alien civilization's terms. Would you want to be the pilot responsible for revealing your interstellar community to a group of low-tech savages who are also now due to start building their own UFOs using their legal settlement from your accident?

Like the Native American tribes that sue the US for being oppressed/relocated, so too would the sentient humans of planet earth quickly realize that they could leverage the laws of another civilization to increase their prominence to unbelievable levels and in turn become another alien competitor in the cosmic economy. This is why we haven't had any real contact.

So it is safe to assume that most space-faring civilizations, who most likely have a set of laws that have governed them to that point, would have a system of emergency crews that would clean up any crashes in order to avoid introducing the cavepeople to stuff they shouldn't have. The likelihood of crashing in a densely populated area is actually pretty small (well depending on the size of your craft *chuckle*) however even a few individuals on a highly interconnected planet are enough to alert their kinsmen. So you would need a highly sophisticated emergency system, much like the deneuralizers from Men In Black, that can clean up both physical and mental wreckage.

So if a space-faring organization must go to such extremes to avoid making us primates another liability, then you would have to be very suspect when you hear rumors of US officials recovering a "downed" space craft.

Let's assume the stories from Roswell are true. That the military personnel and townspeople really did find an object from out of this world plowed into the desert and that there were occupants removed from this device. That thoughout all the hazy memories and second hand stories there was a kernel of truth at its heart. Monsters did arrive in a silver disc. With all of this technology at these creature's disposal ask yourself. Was it really a "crash?"

Or was it a plant?

Randall Parker said at January 16, 2011 10:53 AM:


You are obviously an alien pretending to be a human to throw us all off. But we are hip to the threat posed by Glaxon 7 and we are ready for you when your invasion fleet arrives.


Your argument makes sense. I suspect that the Helaxions wanted to find a way to give us technology to prepare for an attack by the Glaxonians without violating the treaty against technology transfer. So they faked a crash of a "lost" spaceship ("We lost contact with that ship near Alpha Centauri") so that we'd have advanced tech to reverse engineer.

Lono said at January 16, 2011 1:47 PM:


I find your whole argument to be highly specious.

It is very possible that either we have not been able to effectively reverse engineer the technology or that such reverse engineered technology has remained completely compartmentalized.

I think the bigger story is why are prominent American and Russian astronauts publicly saying to the press (and even the UN Assembly) that the U.S. and Russia are keeping classified evidence that we are indeed being observed on Earth - and in space - by extra-terrestrial craft.

Certainly that is a story worth pursuing before even more of the whistle blowers pass away from old age.

(not to mention Mensa yet again - but I think it is noteworthy that the majority of Mensan's do believe there is indeed an official cover up in this area)

Randall Parker said at January 16, 2011 10:50 PM:


If we had a captured alien spaceship then:

- the US government would spend billions of dollars per year trying to reverse engineer it.

- geniuses would be recruited into secret research and live quite isolated from society.

- known geniuses like Richard Feynman would have been challenged with the alien tech. How to figure it out?

- the US government would heavily fund development of public tech that is aimed at reverse engineering.

I do not see the pattern that indicates this is going on.

As for the difficulty in reverse engineering, what I think you, LarryD, and Chris T are missing:

- Look, we aren't cavemen. We know there are physical laws for the universe and know quite a lot about those physical laws. Many of our advances were made in response to observations that indicated our model of physical laws was deficient. If alien tech demonstrates incredibly amazing capabilities that seem to violate physical laws then the physicists who study it would be challenged to formulate new theories to account for it. The physical universe so far acts according to rules that our brightest physicists can get their minds around. Do you expect alien tech will present problems that are beyond their minds to grasp?

- We use a range of generations of tech and so will the aliens. We still use wheels for example and yet wheels are thousands of years old. We use axes too and saws. We use oars. We use wooden chairs. So some of the tech of the aliens will not be so many generations beyond ours.

- Alien tech inevitably is designed to manipulate and interface with non-tech and simpler tech. You can have a chip that does really complex calculations that then does a digital-to-analog conversion to output a voltage level. So the interfaces will be easier to study than the inside parts.

Faruq said at January 17, 2011 11:03 AM:

Randall, no offence but you're being cynical for the sake of being cynical. Anyone who's studied UFO researchers will come to the conclusion that aliens are on this planet.

Chris T said at January 17, 2011 12:01 PM:

As my example showed, reverse engineering is very difficult for even the same species relatively close in technology. Aliens capable of traveling here would posses tech orders of magnitude more advanced than ours. We're not cavemen, but the materials alone would be incredibly difficult to puzzle out beyond basic elemental composition (as LarryD has said, scientists in 1930 would be able to figure out a circuit board is made out of silicon, but would be at a loss to say much else about it). The value of having alien tech wouldn't be in figuring out how it worked, but as inspiration for directions in research.

As it is, current technology is trivially easy to show the historical evolution and genesis of.

John Smith said at January 17, 2011 12:32 PM:

Believe me, there is no alien space craft in Area 51. We reclaimed it a long time ago.

Randall Parker said at January 17, 2011 9:19 PM:


It hadn't occurred to me before that UFO researchers are aliens. But now that you bring it up it does make sense. They can basically mislead the public about what aliens are really like and they probably compete with each other to further the interests of their competing species.

Faruq said at January 18, 2011 8:20 AM:

Randall,then how come I've come across people on internet web sites, who have friends with 'Above top secret' US government clearance who state that aliens are present on earth? I have no reason to believe the people claiming to have such high security clearance are lying.

Lono said at January 18, 2011 8:57 AM:


It is quite possible that any captured alien tech - and research - would be highly compartmentalized and developed in parallel with our existing technology. This is the way that it has been reported that several deep black op reserch groups currently work - only unveiling their specific research accomplishments if a competing country tries to use such technology. That way we can already have a greater mastery of the technology and use it for our strategic goals.

I personally think this is an ignorant way for a nation or civilization to work - re-inventing the wheel needlessly and causing unecessary redundency - but time and time agin it has happened that academic institutions have developed breakthroughs only to be told that such breakthroughs had already been established years previous but had remained classified from the public.

I assure you geniuses are indeed being recruited to work on such projects - we just - of course - never here about them - one simply needs to take a closer look at the Mitre Corporation to see this is true and happening today.

Also - Gordon Cooper - the decorated space specialist/astronaut portrayed in the movie "The Right Stuff" by Dennis Quaid - consistently went on record that he believed the Roswell Incident did likely involve a recovered alien craft.

He also had two very close encounters with intelligently controlled "alien" craft - one in the air - and one while on the grounds of a military base - that he consitently discussed with the press after his retirement from NASA.

(and these both occurred and were documented and reported to his military superiors by him BEFORE he was chosen to be an astronaut - a process that required a rigorous psychological screening before being certified to go into space)

Gordon also brought charges against NASA and the U.S. before the entire UN Assembly - although - quite remarkably - it recieved little to nop coverage by the press at the time.

So - if these whistleblowers - actual insider space scietists continue to insist that there IS indeed a coverup - what arrogance is it on your part that you can so easily rationalize that this is not the case - and these decorated astronauts are simply liars or mad men.

Add to this the hundreds of official testimonies of miltary personnel and professional pilots world wide - and I think your idle cynicism begins to look more and more like willful ignorance on your part.

If you do not want to pursue the potential enlightenment involved in first contact with anopther species then that is your choice - but I see no intellectual benefit from discouraging others in pursuing and insisting on full scientific and political transparency in this matter.

Wilsonian said at January 18, 2011 11:07 AM:

How, then, do you account for the invention of Pop Tarts, huh? If they're not from an alien culture I'll eat my hat (actually more tasty.)

gjg said at January 18, 2011 11:13 AM:

If they were so advanced, why did the spaceship crash? Did they spill coffee into the controller? Wouldn't it be controlled by an AI?

Odahh said at January 18, 2011 11:32 AM:

If you sent a kid with an apple laptop an iphone ,and other common techs back 30 years . do you think we would have had the tech 20 years ago? probably not.

The crashed alien tech was so far advanced that it might still be beyond our current level of tech to understand it. Is that really unthinkable. so the whole thing would be more troublesome than profitable for the government. After all Ufo's supposedly can visit anywhere on the earth they want and kidnap people at will for experiments. If you where in the government .Would you want to state to the public.. "hey.. yeah this stuff does happen . and we can't do squat about it.. so if you get kidnapped and experimented on . Well to bad for you "

Rabbit said at January 18, 2011 11:33 AM:

I'd put better odds that they found a Power Wheels Barbie Corvette crashed in the desert and have been trying to reverse-engineer it.

Patrick Carroll said at January 18, 2011 11:40 AM:

Dick Cheney is walking around without a pulse.

Case closed.

Banjo said at January 18, 2011 11:45 AM:

Count me among those who believe government is inherently so incompetent and subject to leaks that the crash of an alien spaceship would have been public within a few years at the most.

looking closely said at January 18, 2011 11:47 AM:

>>"If such a crashed spaceship existed it would have been at least partially reverse engineered, yielding amazing advances in technology"

This stipulates that there is ANYTHING on board that a group of 20th-21st century people could replicate using contemporary technology.

Suppose I took a 1980 digital watch to a consortium of swiss watchmakers in 1955. Think they could replicate it? Even assuming they could figure out the theory behind the watch's operation, that doesn't mean they'd have been able to replicate one from scratch. The watch itself contains ZERO representation of the massive technology behind it necessary to create liquid crystal displays, silver oxide batteries, calibrated quartz crystals, integrated circuit boards, etc. And that's only a technologic advancement of 25 years.

Now imagine I hand my Droid phone to a Roman engineer.

As another example, see the Iranians vis-a-vis recreating a certain bit of old military hardware from the mid-1940s they seem to be having trouble with!

@ Lomo,
Obviously, if someone testifies to something in front of a bunch of cameras is HAS to be true. I mean human beings and gov't operatives NEVER have motivations to be deceptive in public forums. As to Mensa, well. . .they're so smart, that if by majority vote, that organization collectively believes something to be true, well, then I guess it has to be true! You're right that there is no "intellectual" benefit from discouraging others to spend their time lobbying for full disclosure of allegedly classified material.

I also demand that the gov't release ALL its files about Yetis. And leprauchauns. Have you seen the price of gold lately?

@ Faruq,
I can confirm to you that my many friends with "above top secret" clearances all say the exact same thing, when I ask them about extraterrestrial technology.

Banjo said at January 18, 2011 11:49 AM:

That said, I think only the blindly obstinate among us cling to the idea that UFOs are fantasy. Too many people have seen too many things to wish it away.

Joe Miller said at January 18, 2011 11:51 AM:

Okay, Mr. Smartie, where did we get Teflon and Tang from then? Huh? Not to mention pens that write upside down.

Robbie said at January 18, 2011 11:52 AM:

Maybe the spaceship that was supposedly recovered in Roswell was just a really crappy model for a spaceship. It crashed, after all. Let's say that the government then builds a model of that crappy spaceship that can successfully travel to Zeta Reticuli, or wherever. It would be akin to driving a cheap Chinese copy of a Lada or Ford Pinto up to a posh resort where the valet routinely guides Lambourghinis, Aston-Martins, and Bentleys to the designated access areas. Humans would be the laughingstock of the interstellar community, regarded as knuckle-dragging, mouth-breathing rednecks who should be escorted back to the boondocks from whence they came. And they'll probably use a few dozen major cities for target-practice as a message for humanity to remain in our little backwater solar system and to never darken their door again.

Southern Man said at January 18, 2011 11:59 AM:

Compare the technological advances of the last fifty years to any other two-century period in history. Is there any comparison?

Sardondi said at January 18, 2011 12:04 PM:

You poor, sad, deluded fool. Don't you know that's what THEY want you to think? The Double Secret Real Government, I mean. Of course, you may have heard of them by some other name, such as The New World Order, the Knights Templar, the Illuminati, the Masons, the Bilerburgers, the Tripartite Commission, the Bohemian Grove Guests or The Red-Headed League. Surely you know that they're running things for the benefit of our true masters, the mega-corporate overlords, don't you? Who themselves are actually reptilian aliens who live on earth in an underground world, and merely use us weakling humans as a slave work force, genetic donors and/or food source? Don't you know these things? Just what have you been doing with your time online, anyway?

But perhaps you do know the worst thing: that the reality of every, single group and theory referenced above (well, except for that band which was born in the imagination of Sir A. Conan Doyle) has been advanced in all seriousness as The Truth; and each has thousands if not hundreds of thousands of adherents who believe in their existence and power with unshakable tenacity.

John C. said at January 18, 2011 12:11 PM:

LarryD did not mention that the essay in Analog he mentioned, by John W. Campbell, was written in 1969, and was describing only 39 years of technological advance. There was a discussion about this in the following URL, sparked by a story in progress about a disposable cell phone being sent back to 1954 in a time-travel experiment...


Aaron Worthing said at January 18, 2011 12:27 PM:

ah, you are not being nearly conspiratorial enough.

they are responsible for everything, from DVD's to video games, and stealth fighters. sure it looks like they were invented by private individuals but in fact they were reversed engineered from the saucer people and those contracts were given in accordance of the dictates of the freemasons. or something.

yeah, i am being ironic in this. i don't buy any of this. but you forget that most conspiracy theories are non-falsifiable. you know, like global warming.

J.C. said at January 18, 2011 12:32 PM:

I recall reading somewhere that someone had pointed to the invention of the transistor as a fairly large and inexplicable jump. One thought stemming from that though is that (especially in the 40's - 60's during the post-war era, advances wouldn't have been coming "from the government", they would have been filtered through the various research labs connected with defense (LLNL) or major industry (Bell Labs).

Jeff H said at January 18, 2011 12:40 PM:

It appears the best the "aliens" could manufacture was a fake president. And assuming the "crash" took place at Roswell in 1947, it took them 61 years to do it.

DonM said at January 18, 2011 12:50 PM:

Interesting comments! I hope most are tongue in cheek. One argument against interstellar space travel: During the compacted time the travelers were at high speed, the target planet would be advancing, so that if the target planet was a sail, horse and buggy technology civilization when you took off, by the time you arrived they would have nuclear weapons, lasers, and super computers.

Lono said at January 18, 2011 1:07 PM:

looking closely,

Your assassination of the character of some of America's top astronauts - dismissing these highly trained space specialists as mere attention whores - is truly disrespectful - and actually not very logical - as these men seriously risk hurting their fame and legacy by coming forward with such classified information and seriously inflammatory claims.

(and none of these American or Russian astronaut whistleblowers have ever personally profited from these disclosures - to the best of my knowledge - heck all they had to do was smile and wave all through their retirements for easy cash on top of their military benefits)

Also - eyewitness testimony is NOT the only evidence - as substantial corroborating radar evidence has also been obtained by UFO researchers for several high profile mass sightings.

As far as mentioning Mensans - I do so because Mensans are NOTORIOUS skeptics - yet the perponderence of evidence has made even highly educated skeptics take another look at the potential science behind these UFO claims.

Finally I would point out that many many documents regarding UFO investigations (often highly redacted) have been obtained quite recently from many governments - showing that such phenommena - rather than being fanciful or make believe - is still of keen interest to World Leaders and Militaries even in our modern era.

And - as far as your ATS friends - well my NASA buddies all say the same thing as well - however they admit that their work is highly compartmentalized - with a strict need to know access policy - no surprise there - and would your friends risk their jobs to tell you? - I at least got my friends well and drunk before interrogating them mercilessly while out in the mountains.


Rich K said at January 18, 2011 1:09 PM:

I thought the 'Onion' was funny but all you posters here have them beat by leaps and bounds.
Any thought of writing humor professionally gang ?

BBQ is good said at January 18, 2011 1:17 PM:

I'm in the no cover-up camp. Consider the history of the atomic bomb. A weapon capable of vaporizing entire cities and we couldn’t keep its secrets from falling into the hands of our enemies. Gee-whiz! We barely finished building the thing and the Russians had their hands on the plans. Heck, this sort of tradition continues today with Wikileaks.

The point is… Keeping secrets is very hard and I doubt we could have kept a crashed UFO a secret for decades.

P.S. Since the Soviets knew all our important junk as far back as the 40’s wouldn’t they have been able to confirm the crash if it had actually occurred? Heck, the Soviets weren’t the only ones spying on us – are any nations claiming we got dead aliens on ice?

skipkent said at January 18, 2011 1:30 PM:

If aliens are indeed among us but as of yet un-detected at the mass level, then they are clearly ahead of us on many levels. My guess would be that our world is currently 'quarantined' until judged fit for entry to some 'Federation of Planets' sort of body. Not like I'm overly serious about this, but so long as we're musing the possibilities, that's my take on things!

LarryD said at January 18, 2011 1:50 PM:

John C, thanks for the extra details, which I didn't mention because I didn't remember them.

Now, imagine something like a Nook being transported back into the 1930s. They'd be able to read any eBooks stored on it, until the battery ran out, but unless one of them detailed the specs for for the USB interface, they wouldn't be able to recharge it. A micro-SD chip installed would be easy to remove (instructions are in an eBook on the device), but try and analyze that with 1930s tech. Let alone the cpu. Even the battery would give them fits.

David Gobel said at January 18, 2011 1:55 PM:

hmmm - well of course there's always the right under (or inside) our noses theory. That WE ourselves *are* alien technology :-)

We sure are incredibly hard to reverse engineer

jimf said at January 18, 2011 2:08 PM:

"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic"
A. Clarke

Jim "Bubba" Dale Martin Johnson said at January 18, 2011 2:24 PM:

I just don't think that the aliens were all that advanced to begin with. Heck, they couldn't even control their own spaceship and let it crash. Buncha stuff musta got wiped out in the crash, leaving not much else to reverse engineer. So we would up with LED lights and transistor radios instead of wormhole drives and hyperlight speeds.

Stupid aliens.

seabear70 said at January 18, 2011 3:05 PM:

You want evidence for aliens?


The Lobster is perfect evidence for the alien intervention in human development.

Think about it, if I put that thing in front of you and told you to eat it, and you didn't know what it was, would you? Seriously?

Thor said at January 18, 2011 3:11 PM:

It would be possible to reverse engineer a system. If you had an designer of the system that you could communicate with on intelligent level. But more likely you would get an operator or a mechanic for said system.

Cashcleaner said at January 18, 2011 3:17 PM:


The idea that an alien spacecraft is able to successfully traverse the deadly span of interstellar space, complete with asteroids, microscopic black holes, and lethal radiation, and then immediately crash in the middle of the high desert once they get here is beyond preposterous.

Bryan C said at January 18, 2011 3:17 PM:

"Now, imagine something like a Nook being transported back into the 1930s."

I think a group of competent 1930's engineers and scientists could make some significant progress. First, bring in photographers and typists to record everything readable on the device for later use. The design of the USB port would be unfamiliar to them, but it'd be obvious that it's an electrical connector of some kind, and that it's hooked up to this flat object that acts like a battery. Check the voltages to figure out what the device needs to operate (and they've got a bit of leeway, thanks to the robust charging circuit), and you're in good shape.

At very least they'd come away knowing that it's actually possible to build flat color screens, mystery batteries, and tiny black thingies that manipulate voltage in complex ways. And, of course, there's all the incidentals: samples of new plastics, synthetic rubber, technology implied by the manufacturing techniques, etc. Combine that new certainty with known physical properties of the materials involved, some informed guesses, and a lot of money, and you've got a roadmap for some very productive basic research.

gene said at January 18, 2011 3:33 PM:

We put it on the news every night of just how good we are at killing each other, and you think aliens would want to talk to us.

Sarnac said at January 18, 2011 3:50 PM:

Simpler answer :

Humanity is not ready for advanced technology on a Star-Trek level, much less a Vorlon level.

Imagine (with horror) :
* flying cars (piloted missiles against our cities)
* personal meaningful-flight-capable energy-devices (converted = EMP-bomb (worse = detonated while flying = air-burst = wider coverage))
* personal nuclear power plants (wearable mini-nuke-bombs)
* individualized civilian access to space (suicidal-re-entry-dive into NYC, the Vatican, DC, Tel-Aviv, etc)
* personal-energy-weapons (continuous-beam = mow down everyone in an airport or mall, without needing to aim or reload)
* warp-drive (slam into the planet, crack the crust, send EVERYONE to eternity simultaneously)
* star-trek level medicine (customized super-viruses drawn up in a computer and engineered by robots, kills all *GROUP* and oops, everyone else too by accident) (almost there now)
* matter-antimatter-reactors (BOOM ... very big BOOM)
* star-trek-replicators (Star_Gate_SG1-replicators)

And those examples are only what we've come up with in know-nothing-real fiction ... if the tech were actually public, I'm sure the disasters would exceed my imagination.

(I profess no opinion on whether or not aliens have crashed,
merely that the US President / Cabinet et al would choose not to disrupt or destroy society by technology we cannot comfortably survive).

Hypothetical scenarios:
I: aliens publicly show up tomorrow, announce giveaway of technology
A: every major company crashes on the stock market because everything they do is redundant or meaningless,
A1: with a worldwide economic crash, the planet is engulfed in chaos within days or hours of ET's arrival
B: mass-murdering / apocalyptic religious lunatics use said technology to initiate Armageddon within weeks or months
B1: biotech or free-energy weapons are used to exterminate entire countries, continents or the entire planetary population
I: - counter-argument - this has happened before (even if only in fiction-by-the-aliens or (AI?) alien's-scenario-gaming)
C: knowing I-A and I-B, aliens choose to wait until we have culturally grown up with technology (see "prime directive")

II: Aliens are in behind-the-scenes contact, help minimally, offer advice and (galactic) history lessons on how to avoid screw-ups, but minimal or no technology, only hints at most
A: umm ... this cannot be ruled out ... we've followed a path that this could explain, because ...
B: interestingly, we've backed off of space, space technology, and nuclear technology exactly as if we'd been advised "you're not ready for the next step yet"

III: there's no aliens, but humans have mastered and suppressed technologies FAR too dangerous to be commercialized and released given the religious and international potential for conflict
A: until we secure ALL of our Loughner-type or Manson-type crazies, our bin-Laden-type fanatics, and our Kim-Jong-Il megalomaniacal-dictators, certain tech is unsafe for the general public
A1: we failed to restrain genetic-manipulation-of-viral-genome technology (because it is med-tech and treats cancer, we had no reasonable argument for restraint)
A2: we have restrained knowledge and data on chemical and nuclear weapons and (mostly) the known-dangerous methodology for the worst bio-weapons (for now)
A3: if we had a convenient-technology total-conversion reactor, we'd keep it hidden because otherwise some al-Qaida type would buy or steal one and set it to explode in a major city.
B: the rate of technology released by universities and companies is years to decades behind what the military has in secret and multi-decades behind what they have in black-project-research
C: mistakes or unavoidable situations do happen, and humanity may not be ready for the consequences that follow from that.
C1: we aren't safe from religious fanatics piloting jumbo jets into buildings, what happens when Saudis get spacecraft and orbital capability?
C1a: any spacecraft re-entry handled maliciously can have a disastrous effect on ground structures
C1b: look up the space weapon nicknamed "rods from God" ... they are expected to be capable of cheaply demolishing the most heavily armored nuclear reactors not already under a mountain
C2: we should expect a bio-weapon attack of far-larger-than-nuclear death-toll once the al-Qaida-types recruit a few modern-trained medical-students (they've already got older doctors)
C2a: conversely, contact the FDA, your congress-person, etc and harass them to get "Bavituximab" released, it cures *every* viral infection, even the engineered superbugs
(Disclaimer: I have NO connection to any company that has anything to do with "Bavituximab", I just am aware of its (slow) progression through the FDA)
C2b: the alternative is sociologically unthinkable (but maybe necessary) ... replace oil with thorium-nuclear-reactors and totally quarantine the genocidal parts of the world

IV: there's no aliens, but humans have mastered and secretly are researching and/or using suppressed technologies FAR too dangerous to be commercialized and released
A: counter-conspiracy theorists are correct in saying that the US govt is terrible at competence at keeping secrets
B: so the solution is to totally isolate those researching and testing such technology (probably for their entire lives ... literally zero contact, fake deaths, etc)
C: with just one specific technology (direct mass-energy conversion (i.e. not Uranium fission or simple fusion)), this would actually be quite easily do-able

Nightmare scenario : a US government comes to power so utopianist, shortsighted or military-secret-keeping-incompetent that it allows the release of the design plans to a simple-to-build (i.e. radio-shack-quality parts, and not requiring unobtanium) matter-energy converter.

Not that we would actually elect such a government.

Akatsukami said at January 18, 2011 4:20 PM:

The answer is obvious: Harry Turtledove's "The Road Not Taken" is fact, not fiction.

Notmeeither said at January 18, 2011 6:04 PM:

I think the most compelling argument against aliens being here is this: If you were aliens, would you travel to a distant star in the outer reaches of a spiral arm of our galaxy just to probe some bipeds anal cavity? Seriously.... If alien life exists out there the best argument for its intelligence is that they are ignoring us arrogant hominids. Why in Gods name do humans think that we're so special that aliens will travel light years just to visit with us in an RV in the middle of BFE?

Bryan said at January 18, 2011 7:35 PM:

Actually, the first alien contact occurred long before the "crash". For centuries, the aliens have been rationing out technology. The "crash" was actually staged to provide a cover for the "death" of an alien leader whose embarrassing personal habits had been discovered on his home planet. Unfortunately, no major leaps in technology could be managed from the "crash" because the leader had only his vast collection of solid crystal sex toys with him at the time, and hand-polished jade dildos have been possible on earth since at least ancient China.

M. Report said at January 18, 2011 7:59 PM:

Stephen Wolfram is clearly an Alien; The concepts in 'A New Kind of Science'
did not spring from a human mind. :)
One of those ideas is that there is no way to model most systems;
If you want to find out what they will do, you have to build them
and let them run.
The aliens have been here from the beginning, and we have exactly zero chance
of discovering them; The least and most nearly comprehensible of their Tech
abilities is a control over probability analogous to our control of electro-
magnetic phenomena.
The important question is whether they hail from Arisia or Eddore. :/

steven said at January 18, 2011 9:12 PM:

There was a news story or two about how the new quantum computer was way ahead of schedule.

andrew said at January 18, 2011 11:52 PM:

If the US government was reverse-engineering alien spaceships then we would expect to see lots of sudden and inexplicable discontinuities in our technological development. Consider mature technologies like the jet engine and the digital computer. We can trace every step of their development from crazy speculative idea through to everyday tool. We can see how they were incrementally improved through many models and many generations, with lots of failed experiments and dead-ends along the way. We can see how the theories behind them built on earlier work.

But anything that had been reverse-engineered from alien technology would seem to come out of nowhere. Sure, it might have had a few years or even a few decades of development before it went public. But at the start of that period there would be a sudden discontinuity. A new invention would appear that had no connection to any prior work. It would be impossible to explain how the engineers who built it had come up with something so utterly different or how they had managed to get it working so quickly. No discontinuities means no spaceships.

The argument from continuity also applies to things like Nazi UFOs and "Die Glocke". If they had really existed we would see evidence of the earlier theoretical and experimental work that made them possible, and they would have left a huge legacy as the technology was developed after the war. Even if the original machines had been destroyed it would have been impossible to hide everything that preceded them, so someone else would have picked up the concepts and taken them further. The mere knowledge that such things could be done would have had a huge impact on later research. But the conspiracy nuts ask us to believe that utterly astonishing technologies appeared out of nowhere, had no discernible effect on anything, and then disappeared without a trace.

Nick said at January 19, 2011 3:24 AM:

Good heavens! There have been no significant scientific or technological advances over the past few decades! No significant scientific or technological advances have come out of U.S. government lab!. How percipient you are to have noticed these facts that no-one has ever noticed before!

ken in sc said at January 19, 2011 7:39 AM:

If the Air Force had proof of aliens, it would be a guaranteed budget booster. They would not keep it secret. They would exaggerate the danger the aliens posed. Congress would give them anything they asked for. The Air Force would make sure the public knew about it if congress didn't.

whip_lash said at January 19, 2011 2:32 PM:

1) We use self-destruct mechanisms for critical tech on our spyplanes. The alien self-destruct devices are bound to have been much better. Not sure how much you can learn from a hull and some piles of ash.

2) The alien tech isn't much more advanced than ours because this particular alien craft isn't doing anything we haven't already done: flying from the secret anal probing base on the dark side of the moon. The mothership wasn't what crashed.

Chris T said at January 19, 2011 3:53 PM:

Randall, I think you seriously underestimate the difficulty involved in reverse engineering anything complex. To effectively reverse engineer something you not only need a good understanding of how a piece of technology works, including underlying physical concepts, but to take advantage of it you recreate the entire supporting technical infrastructure. Even if someone with a good understanding of how a laptop works and is built was transported back with a working copy to 1900, it would be many decades before it could be recreated (not all that much earlier than it was originally developed). The necessary economic and technical infrastructure simply didn't exist.

In technological development, not a single step can be skipped.

Randall Parker said at January 19, 2011 8:24 PM:

Chris T,

A laptop is not a single piece of technology. It embodies many different technologies, each of which would be useful to understand and exploit. The entirety does not need to be understood in order for pieces of it to be understood.

A laptop has many visible mechanical parts. It has batteries. It has very small lights made of some materials that would be better than whatever lights were made from 100 years ago. It has a speaker. It has springs and bolts and assorted other pieces fairly easy to grasp and yet still innovative.

Look at the motherboard. It has a heat sink (or more than one). It has a fan with an electric motor and bearings and wiring with a material coating the wiring for insulation. It has capacitors and resistors. Some of those pieces are not hard to figure out. Others are much harder to figure out. Capacitors and resistors are still useful without a digital computer. Ditto batteries.

I work in technological development with new computer designs and embedded software development. I have to puzzle out poorly documented or totally undocumented functionality. It is all logic. It obeys physical laws.

tabman said at January 20, 2011 10:10 AM:

I'm with you on the "if they're so advanced, why do they seem to crash so often."

BioBob said at January 20, 2011 2:41 PM:

@ Randall ......wait .....there are physical laws ??

Grant Black said at April 25, 2011 5:26 PM:

Just wanted to add to this.. If you ever look into it, there are many things that don't fit. Lasers were "reversed engineered" supposedly from ships obtained by the government. From these lasers we have DVDs and CDs - also a product from reverse engineering. How are these DVDs read? Lasers. Think about the technological gap difference between a DVD and a VHS. Lasers are now also being "weapons" on our manned ships - look up the video about the new laser weapon vehicle that can shoot down missiles from miles away. Another reversed engineered theme - "Ferro magnetic fluids" or "Ferro fluids" was a compound developed by NASA with properties of a metal and a liquid or - plasma. This fluid is believed that when under extreme pressure and rotation that it has the ability to warp time and space creating a black hole or warping effect. This also has a huge part of anti-gravity machines, also believed to be on alien ships. I don't know that much about it, but I work for the government and I know what I've heard.

Ryan said at October 1, 2011 3:32 AM:

Hey guys....all of you made valid comments....check this site out and perhaps you will have a little more insight to the entire discussion....http://www.rise-and-fall-of-alien-civilizations-in-our-own-galaxy.com/

raham2020 said at January 15, 2012 3:24 AM:

does anyone have any theories on how alien spaceships like the one that crashed in roswell nm work

Tiki said at July 24, 2012 10:53 AM:

Why is it assumed that after reverse engineering takes place that we would be able to replicate the technology ourselves in a short period of time? For instance, if an alien craft were constructed starting at the sub-atomic level, although we might be able to identify that this is or is not the case, by what means does our current technological prowess allow us to engineer and fabricate by or in a similar means?

I believe your assumption is correct that over the last fifty years we would be able to identify pieces, materials and etc. to gain a basic understanding of an alien craft with technology and design much more advanced than our own current capabilities. However, I believe your assumption is incorrect, that we would already have and/or shortly after recovery of such a craft be able to start construction or replication of the technology itself. In other-words, leaking to the general public advanced technology wouldn’t occur mainly because we wouldn’t have the resources or infrastructure to replicate the materials.

I think however, an indicator of such a recovery would more than likely be the direction of research and development of the sciences into fields scoffed at before and after such a recovery hypothetically took place. I do not really see any smoking guns in that realm either. I just found some of the assumptions you’ve made to be rather presumptuous.

reorx said at August 2, 2013 3:52 PM:

Don't any of you realize if aliens crashed here they'd have to be driving a very old shitty model of there tech. Seriously a civilization advanced enough to travel light wouldn't have tech on it that would glean us a fckin microwave oven. 60 years later we have supercomputers .. ok we'd still be reverse engineering the shittiest oldest alien craft in the galaxy. Like drunk redneck aliens crashed there gggggggggrand dads classic 10k year old model t spaceship.

Carlos Barrera said at January 28, 2015 1:13 PM:

Technology Submission -State of the Art - Novel InFlow Tech - Featured Project Development; 1-Gearturbine, 2-Imploturbocompressor


Atypical InFlow Thermodynamic
Technology Proposal Submission
Novel Fueled Motor Engine Type

*State of the art Innovative concept Top system Higher efficient percent. Power by bar, for Air-Planes, Sea-Boats, Land-Transport & Dynamic Power-Plant Generation.
-Have similar system of the Aeolipile Heron Steam device from Alexandria 10-70 AD. -New Form-Function Motor-Engine Device. Next Step, Epic Design Change, Broken-Seal Revelation. -Desirable Power-Plant Innovation.

YouTube; * Atypical New • GEARTURBINE / Retrodynamic = DextroRPM VS LevoInFlow + Ying Yang Thrust Way Type - Non Waste Looses

-This innovative concept consists of hull and core where are held all 8 Steps of the work-flow which make the concept functional. The core has several gears and turbines which are responsible for these 8 steps (5 of them are dedicated to the turbo stages). The first step is fuel compression, followed by 2 cold turbo levels. The fourth step is where the fuel starts burning – combustion stage, which creates thrust for the next, 5th step – thrust step, which provides power to the planetary gears and turbines and moves the system. This step is followed by two hot turbo steps and the circle is enclosed by the final 8th step – bigger turbine. All this motion in a retrodynamic circumstance effect, wich is plus higher RPM speed by self motion. The Reaction at front of the action.

*8-X/Y Thermodynamic CYCLE - Way Steps:
1)1-Compression / bigger
2)2-Turbo 1 cold
3)2-Turbo 2 cold
4)2-Combustion - circular motion flames / opposites
5)2-Thrust - single turbo & planetary gears / ying yang
6)2-Turbo 2 hot
7)2-Turbo 1 hot
8)1-Turbine / bigger

-With Retrodynamic Dextrogiro vs Levogiro Phenomenon Effect. / Rotor-RPM VS InFlow / front to front; "Collision-Interaction Type" - inflow vs blades-gear-move. Technical unique dynamic innovative motion mode. [Retrodynamic Reaction = When the inflow have more velocity the rotor have more RPM Acceleration, with high (XY Position) Momentum] Which the internal flow (and rotor) duplicate its speed, when activated being in a rotor (and inflow) with [inverse] opposite Turns. The Reaction at front of the action. A very strong Novel torque power concept.

-Non waste parasitic looses for; friction, cooling, lubrication & combustion.

-Shape-Mass + Rotary-Motion = Inertia-Dynamic / Form-Function Wide (Flat) Cylindrical shape + positive dynamic rotary mass = continue Inertia positive tendency motion. Kinetic Rotating Mass.

-Combustion 2Two continue circular (Rockets) flames. (ying yang) opposite one to the other. – With 2TWO very long distance INFLOW (inside propulsion) CONDUITS. -4 TURBOS Rotary Total Thrust-Power Regeneration Power System. -Mechanical direct 2two (Small) Planetary Gears at polar position. -Like the Ying Yang Symbol/Concept.

-The Mechanical Gear Power Thrust Point Wide out the Rotor circumference were have much more lever (HIGH Torque) POWER THRUST. -No blade erosion by sand & very low heat target signature profile. -3 points of power thrust; 1-flow way, 2-gear, 3-turbine. *Patent; Dic. 1991 IMPI Mexico #197187 All Rights Reserved. Carlos Barrera.


·2-Imploturbocompressor; One Moving Part System Excellence Design - The InFlow Interaction comes from Macro-Flow and goes to Micro-Flow by Implossion - Only One Compression Step; Inflow, Compression and outflow at one simple circular dynamic motion Concept.

*Excellence in Design because is only one moving part. Only one unique compression step. Inflow and out flow at the same one system, This invention by its nature a logic and simple conception in the dynamics flow mechanics area. The invention is a wing made of one piece in a rotating motion, contained in a pair cavity system connected by implocavity, and interacting dynamically with a flow, that passes internally "Imploded" through its simple mechanism. This flow can be gas (air) or liquid (water). And have two diferents aplications, in two diferents form-function; this one can be received (using the dynamic flow passage, as a receiver). Or it can be generated (with a power plant, generating a propulsion). An example cut be, as a Bike needs a chain to work from motor to wheel. And for the Imploturbocompressor application, cut be as; in a circumstance at the engine, as an A-activate flow, and with a a tube flow conduit going to the wheel as a B-receiving-flow the work use.

To see a Imploturbocompressor animation, is posible on a simple way, just to check the Hurricane Satellite view, and is the same implo inflow way nature.

Presenting one of the many difference examples, could specifically be this same invention applied in pair in every bar end, similar to what would be a turbine reaction or turbocompressor, or through the dynamic strength of a flow when it is rotating it just like a pelton wheel do.

And this flow can be air wind, with the difference of can have an horizontal work position, and that particle technical circumstances make an easy way for urban building work new use application, and have wind flow from all the sides 180 grades view. And the same work use underwater application to.

With the appropriate design and dimensioning for a new concept of propulsion for aircrafts, due to its simple mechanism and innovative nature. and make a vectorial flow (no lobster tail) with yo-yo system, guided and balanced is feasible to create a new concept of TOVL in wild conditions.

Likewise, with the due form and dimensioning, and considering the liquid density and the due revolutions for this element there could be generated a propulsion (water) in order to move an aquatic ship, whether on surface or under water. Also can be a good option to pump liquid combustion for a rocket propulsion.

Making a metaphoric comparison with the intention to expose it more clearly for a better comprehension of this innovative technical detail, it would be similar to the trajectory and motion of a dynamic flow compared with a rope (extended) that passes through the system would have now a knot (without obstructing the flow), so the complete way of the flow at the imploturbocompresor system have three direct ways and between make two difference turns; direct way (entrance) - turn - direct way (implocavity) - turn - direct way (exit), all this in a 1 simple circular move system concept.

Its prudent to mention that the curves and the inclinations of the blades of a rotating wing made of this invention, is conferred by its shape and function a structural rigidity allowing it to conduct and alter appropriately the dynamic flow passing through its system.

This invention are very versatile, can be applied and used for any kind of flow, whether as gas or as a liquid, received or be generating it.? And it has different technical fields, being applied in any circumstance where the intention is to obtain an profitable work, to modify on his imploflow system.

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