Aliens have an unfortunate reputation. When they aren’t abducting humans they seem to be joyriding around space, flashing their bright lights and making a racket.
But sometimes aliens may also perform miracles.
SPYSCAPE examines 10 mysteries that may have had a bony helping hand from outer space.
1. Crop circles popped up in England in the 1970s and quickly spread worldwide, from the cornfields of Colorado to China’s Mount Qiyun. More recent examples incorporate elaborate designs and mathematical equations, indicating the work of a team - human or otherwise. Some blame pranksters but Horace Drew, the molecular biologist with a Ph.D from the California Institute of Technology, believes they either suggest alien life or could be made by human time travelers from the distant future. Drew said he has decoded crop circle symbols and messages such as ‘Believe’ and ‘There is good out there’, indicating the alien time travellers speak an earthly language.
2. Easter Island’s Moai statues have been a mystery since Europeans landed on the island in 1722. The giant statues - some as tall as 40 feet and weighing up to 75 tonnes - may have been erected by Polynesian settlers as tributes to their elders, then ‘walked’ into place with the help of ropes. But UFO-ologists point out that shaped rocks can also be found on Mars, pointing to the Mars Exploration Rover snapshots as evidence. In fact, Scott Waring, a conspiracy theorist and self-appointed UFO expert, said Mars tells us everything we need to know about Easter Island. So mystery solved, then?
3. The Bermuda Triangle stories began in 1945 when five US Navy planes disappeared during training exercises. By the mid-1980s, 25 small planes had vanished in the same area, a triangle between Florida, Bermuda and Puerto Rico. Some claim a paranormal or supernatural explanation, or they link the lost city of Atlantis to the tragic events. Others believe in geological or hydrological explanations but that wouldn’t explain why wreckage wasn’t found. The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, responding to questions about a missing vessel and its 20 passengers in the Bermuda Triangle in 2021, suggested “the combined forces of nature and human fallibility outdo even the most incredulous science fiction”.
4. Peru’s Nazca lines are mysterious drawings found in an arid coastal area covering about 170 square miles. Thousands of designs are etched into the ground, depicting real and imagined worlds. Many are animals - a hummingbird, monkey, lizard, pelican and a whale among them. Trees, flowers and geometric shapes are common. But where did they come from? Scientists believe the lines were made by the Nazca people around 10 to 700 AD using grids made of ropes and stakes. Others see messages in the art. Why would humans create oversized drawings unless they wanted to signal those above?
5. The Utah monolith is gone but not forgotten. Biologists discovered it in November 2020, but it vanished quickly only to be replaced by replica monoliths shooting up around the globe. Some wonder if the structure was planted by the late artist John McCracken and later stolen. The San Juan County Sheriff's Office distributed a ‘Most Wanted’ poster suggesting nine possible suspects in the disappearance of the Utah monolith, including ET.
6. Canadian professor Ermanno Borra was exploring a theory that advanced aliens might want to connect with earth using directed lasers, so the Laval University researcher and a grad student searched the 2.5 mn stars documented by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. They found 234 candidates - in other words, 234 possible alien civilizations. Borra believes there must be extraterrestrial intelligent life but he and other scientists plan to take his research to the next level to see if the hypothesis can be validated.
7. The Italian residents of Canneto di Caronia, in Sicily were shocked when appliances started exploding in 2014 - particularly since the same thing had happened just a few years earlier. It wasn’t just televisions and kitchen appliances, though. Mobile phones and even cars reportedly combusted. Some thought it might be arson but the mayor blamed an unexplained 'electromagnetic radiation'. The Civil Protection Department made it clear they were not taking the heat for problems with the power lines. The Department’s interim report, leaked to an Italian newspaper in 2007, blamed aliens, noting the fires were "caused by high-powered electromagnetic emissions which were not man-made and reached a power of between 12 and 15 gigawatts".
8. Almost one million people have explored Stonehenge - the mysterious, 5,000-year-old structure in Salisbury, England - since Cecil Chubb donated it to the nation in 1918. Erich von Däniken’s 1968 book suggests Stonehenge was built by visitors from other planets, and that alien astronauts offered to share their ancient technologies with civilization - or, at least the aliens offered advice on how to move the 50-ton stones. Reports of UFO sightings continuously pop up in the headlines. Maybe Stonehenge was simply a burial ground or a memorial, but nobody really knows. So it is possible the rock formation also doubled as an early, alien computer communicating with other planets.
9. Elon Musk discovered the secret to Egypt’s pyramids in 2020: 'Aliens built the pyramids obv,' he Tweeted, adding 'Ramses II 😎'. Egypt's chief archaeologist, Zahi Hawass, who suggested on Instagram that Musk might be hallucinating, said 10,000 paid laborers built the pyramids as final resting places for Egyptian royalty. Musk does appear to have his head in the stars sometimes. In 2018, Musk’s SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket blasted off with a dummy pilot named Starman with David Bowie's Space Oddity playing in the background.
10. Boyajian's star (aka Tabby’s Star and the WTF Star) discovered more than 1,000 light-years away has frustrated astronomers who can’t explain its dramatic and infrequent dimming. Are those bouts of fading caused by alien megastructures or are they a result of cosmic gas and dust, comet swarms or even black holes? This fading star may be the first evidence of other cosmic life, but astronomers are stumped.