RECENTLY there has been a flurry of UFO sightings over the Sunderland area.
To some, this may be disturbing. After all, no one likes to entertain the idea that our skies are being filled with alien invaders from a distant solar system.
Personally, however, I quite like the notion that we are entertaining visitors from beyond.
Overall there has been a decline in flying saucer activity in the UK, and if our friends from the other side of the galaxy suddenly got bored with us and stopped coming, then we may never find out who (or what) they are, and why they found planet earth so fascinating in the first place.
One of the big problems with the concept that we are being visited by alien life forms is the distance they would have to travel to reach us.
The nearest star to us is more than four light years away, and this means that even if aliens could travel at the speed of light, it would still take them over four years to get here.
Some researchers have postulated that there may be "worm holes" in space, which could acts as portals between one solar system and another.
The idea is that you pop into one worm hole and hey, presto, before you know it, you pop out of another millions of light years away, without having to travel the distance in between.
Of course, this notion is still but a theory. Personally, I believe that UFOs probably have their origins much closer to home.
It seems unlikely that they originate on another planet in our own solar system, as there are no signs of alien civilisations on Mars, Venus or the other worlds in our vicinity.
Another problem is that life as we know it would probably find it difficult to survive in the hostile conditions those planets present.
Is it possible, though, that UFOs could have their origin right here on planet earth? This may not be as strange an idea as one might imagine.
For years there have been rumours that there are subterranean worlds hidden under the north and south poles that could house civilisations whose existence we are unaware of.
If such civilisations do indeed exist, they could, theoretically speaking, be in possession of advanced technologies that enable them to build aircraft far beyond our own understanding, and using propulsion systems we can only dream of.
Another reason for thinking that the "aliens" may be related to us is the biological similarities between UFO occupants and human beings.
Put aside their strange skin colour, large eyes and antennae, aliens are normally described as having a head, torso, two legs, two arms and facial features pretty much the same as our own.
If aliens are similar to us, if not identical, then we can probably assume that they are related to us in the same way that horses and pigs, although not identical, are both mammals and occupy places reasonably close to each other on the evolutionary tree.
If you're ever lucky enough to see the occupant of a UFO, it's a fascinating thought that you may not be staring at an alien from outer space, but a long-lost cousin.
Why haven't our ethereal visitors contacted us formally and announced their existence officially to the world?
Well, look at it this way; if you had the chance of making friends with a bunch of people who behave as badly as we humans do, wouldn't you think twice about it?
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