Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Turkish UFOs

Interesting report in the Turkish media by Fazile Zahir...

"The sighting of a UFO this week has excited the Turkish media with pictures appearing in both tabloid style and more serious broadsheet papers this week. The flying object was spotted in the Karaköprü area of Şanlıurfa province towards 4am on Wednesday morning. Filmed by an amateur videographer the strangely glowing hexagonal ball of light hovered in the sky emitting red, green and white lights and moved both fast and erratically. After fifteen minutes it disappeared without a trace. As of yet no official explanation has been offered as to what it might be although internet comments vary between lauding a genuine sighting of a ‘Green Fireball’ phenomenon, non believers claiming the object is just a star filmed under magnification and the more cynical believing that these are American spy planes monitoring Turkey’s border with Syria.

This is not the first instance of a UFO sighting in Turkey. They occur regularly with recent ones in Konya in March 2007 in the early evening which lasted on and off for a week and İstanbul on January 4th when people in the Yenibosna area of İstanbul saw a spinning circle with glowing white lights in the sky. The head of the Turkish Sirius UFO Space Sciences Research Centre Haktan Akdoğan claimed in August that in the last few months the number of sightings in Turkey, as in many other countries, has been increasing.

The largest concentration of sightings in Turkey and perhaps the best documented occurred between 2001 and 2002. This spate of sightings seem to have been triggered by the extraordinary events of June 7th 2001. Ten rural guardsmen from the village of Dondurmaz in Adıyaman province were watchmen for the night. All of them claimed to have seen a bright light in the shape of a large circular ‘tray’ the size of a house glowing in the sky. They watched as it flew off in the direction of Ulubaş mountain and then winked out of existence.

When the men reported to their commander their statements were taken seriously and the governor of Adıyaman province, Halil Işık, had them seperated and individually questioned. Not only did their accounts tally up but when asked to draw pictures of what they had seen all the sketches were uncannily similar. Mr. Işık felt the event was serious enough to send a report with the details to the Ministry of İnternal Affairs and also informed Haktan Akdoğan at the Sirius organisation. By the 13th of June in the same year Sabah newspaper was leading with the headline ‘Everyone searching for UFO’s’ in a story that detailed how in Uşak locals had stoned an alien, in Gaziantep the police had videoed a UFO and that people all over the country were phoning in reports of strange occurrences to their local jandarma.

The reports continued in a slightly hysterical atmosphere well into 2002 and included an event in Gebze on the 31st of May 2002 where a UFO was visible and circling with projecting lights for over an hour. This was followed by Akşam newspaper printing the story on 1st June 2002 of Saffet Şap, an electronic technician from Beykoz, who managed to video a flying object like a black bug with seven or eight legs. Later in the year on the 9th of November Hürriyet newspaper ran the account of four commercial pilots from different planes who had all seen UFO’s in the same patch of sky on the same day at the same time.

Haktan Akdoğan of Sirius seems to be a recurring figure in Turkish UFO lore commenting freely on each event and insisting on the importance of Turkey to alien life. His motives however may not just be scientific, he is also the owner of the İstanbul UFO museum that opened in 2002 (riding on the back of these multiple UFO events) and any extra interest in aliens will also encourage punters through the door of his museum. He also runs the museum as a fairly successful franchise, of the six UFO museums in the world three are in Turkey (İstanbul, Denizli and Göreme in Cappadocia) and his website advertises for further partners to open other UFO branch museums. İt is his clearly stated intention to open UFO museums all over Turkey to ‘further the knowledge of the Turkish people and to attract tourists’. His organisation provide all the necessary materials and installations so each museum is a de facto copy of the first. Whether they are lucrative or not is not mentioned but when the Göreme museum opened in 2006 Hürriyet newspaper reported that they had 5000 visitors in one month alone. Apparently it was especially popular with the Japanese.

Whether extra terrestials exist or not is much debated but recent advances in science make the chances seem more likely. Animals known as extremophiles thrive in earth environments previously thought not to have been able to sustain life. From microbes found living without oxygen in volcanic fissures two miles down in deep ocean trenches to water bears (aka tardigrades) that can survive temperatures from nearly absolute zero to 303ºF and even live in a vacuum like that found in space. These minute living things have upended the understanding of what is needed for the survival of life.

Previously scientists has worked on the assumption that both oxygen and liquid water were key factors in sustaining life but now it sems that these are only important to some types of life. The ‘rare earth’ theory is falling out of favour to be replaced with the idea that life is adaptable and that the question that needs to be asked is what kind of environment other than our own might sustain living things. The chances of intelligent life with the technology to communicate is slimmer, it is possible that such worlds have been and gone. İf life of this sort exists now they, like us would have the technology to recognise that earth is an ‘interesting’ planet and worth investigating. So why aren’t they here? Some would say they are and the report of flying objects above Karaköprü on Tuesday was a clear indication of just that."

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