(NewsNation) — A new plan to broadcast the location of Earth and genetic information about humans into 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 that anyway.
“We’ve been sending TV signals out inadvertently ever since the dawn of television,” he said on NewsNation’s “Banfield” Friday. He said any extraterrestrials within 80 lightyears have likely already picked them up.
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 experienced injuries including radiation burns, brain problems and damaged nerves.
While the memo from the Defense Intelligence Agency, or DIA, is not the hard evidence needed to confirm life Earth or other plants, deGrasse Tyson believes we should investigate further.
And Tyson says “if they have spaceships coming to Earth, we (humans) are not the smarter ones.”
Neil deGrasse Tyson talks 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 about all of this. Neil deGrasse Tyson is an astrophysicist, and a planetary scientist and the author of the new book, “Welcome to the Universe in 3D: A Visual Tour.” First thing I want to ask you, in terms of trying to send messages to these aliens, can you explain why they chose to, or why they want to be in these messages to the Milky Way.
Neil deGrasse Tyson: Well, Milky Way is our own home galaxy. And so a signal would reach stars way sooner than if we tried to send it outside of our galaxy to other star systems. What do I mean by way sooner? It would get there in thousands of years, or tens of thousands of years, rather than millions of years. Don’t wait around for a reply anytime soon. These signals are moving at the speed of light. But of course, that’s a different question for whether we should do that at all.
Brian Entin: It kind of freaks me out. If there are aliens, and it seems like there’s all of this new evidence that there are, that they exist out there, why do we really want to send that kind of information? I mean, how to get to Earth? Would we want to send that out there into the universe?
Neil deGrasse Tyson: But just to be clear, it’s not evidence for aliens that is being presented. It’s evidence for things that people can’t explain. And just because you can’t explain it, that is not equal to the statement that, therefore they must be aliens. So they can’t be explained. The universe brims with mysteries. So we should investigate it further. I have no hesitation about that. But I can tell you that anyone who’s worked for the government knows how profoundly incompetent the government is. So it’s easier for me to believe that we’ve actually been visited by aliens than we’ve been visited by aliens and the government has managed to keep it a secret, locked up report.
That’s a good point, Neil. That’s a very good point. They would have just saved time keeping that under wraps.
Neil deGrasse Tyson: Think of the janitor at Area 51, right? Who sees the dragon, the alien, they’ll just take a picture of it. The janitor will lose a job overnight, but will be the most famous, richest janitor there ever was.
Brian Entin: You would think it would have leaked out at this point, Neil. And you made a good point, I said aliens, but really, it’s just the UFOs that we sort of know exist out there. It’s unidentified, and we’re not sure what they are. There’s no evidence specifically of aliens. But in the movies, at least, they always seem much more intelligent than us. I mean, is it possible that they could be out there, and actually we’re the smarter one?
Neil deGrasse Tyson: If they have spaceships coming to Earth, we are not the smarter ones. I can tell you that. You know, we haven’t left low Earth orbit since 1972. So, no. If they’ve got technology to reach us, they’re in charge. But just to be clear, if you worry about sending signals out there, with our home address, I understand. And I feel for that because you don’t give your email address to a stranger in the street who’s your same species, right? So I understand the resistance. But here’s the difference. It’s too late. We’ve been sending TV signals out inadvertently ever since the dawn of television. And so the radio, it’s called the radio bubble, and it is this bubble of radio waves moving at the speed of light that has been doing it since the 1930s, 1940s. And so aliens out to 80 light years, if they’re there, they already know all about us from our TV. I don’t know how accurate it would be. It’s just our TV signals. But this is what they be basing their understanding of human life on. And it seems to me, based on that evidence, they would surely conclude there’s no sign of intelligent life on Earth.
Brian Entin: It’s interesting, when you think about how even five or 10 years ago, when you had this conversation about UFOs, you were sort of immediately thought of as sort of a crazy person, and it was a real conspiracy theory. And now it’s really become a legitimate conversation. I mean, since the government has released some of these documents, we know there was a significant study. It’s sort of interesting how the conversation has evolved. And now you can actually talk about it, and people don’t think you’re totally nuts.
Neil deGrasse Tyson: That’s partly true. There was Project Bluebook, out of the 1960s and 70s that was finally released. That was an official government study of objects in the sky. And that was kind of useful because, if the Russians were developing some kind of new device, you’d want people looking up and reporting them. So there was a way to report the unidentified, or weird objects, that you cited. Back then, it wasn’t so crazy to have done so. But you’re right, if you have headlines now and the New York Times discussing this, so it has reached a new kind of era, for sure.
But my rebuttal here is, if there’s an alien invasion, this would be crowd sourced by the 3 billion cellphones that are currently active on this planet, which take high resolution images and video. We would know it. And how many people looking out their window into airplanes, anything that comes by… A Google map of your town. If the spaceship were coming in, we have so many ways of seeing it, way better than the military cam. Because we’re watching the whole Earth with high resolution images in ways that they can’t. So I’m still waiting for that video of the alien walking off the flying saucer coming up to greet the person who’s about to be abducted. You can livestream that, and that will go viral overnight. We have cat videos going viral overnight. If you get an alien, oh my gosh, that’s a game changer.
Brian Entin: Neil, do you think the world is really actually ready to know for sure whether or not there’s UFOs? Or aliens? And could people really handle it?
Neil deGrasse Tyson: Well, part of the worry. Okay, so two points. So if the if we send out our return address, there’s worry that they might come and destroy us. But think that through for a moment. So that fear is a fear of what aliens might do with a higher technology than we have. But what’s that based on? And I think I know, it’s based on what our actual knowledge is of what we do to each other. The entire history of high technology civilizations encountering lower technology civilization has never bode well for the lower technology civilization. So I think we’re implanting our cultural societal fears on this mysterious thing out there, for which there is no evidence.
Brian Entin: Yeah, and I think we base a lot of it on the movies, and we’ve sort of just created our own view of what it might be like, Neil deGrasse Tyson. It was so nice talking to you. Thank you for being with us tonight.
Neil deGrasse Tyson: Happy happy to be on. Thank you.
Former FBI agent Ben Hansen and UFO leading expert Nick Pope also joined NewsNation’s “Banfield” to offer insight on UFO sightings and possible government coverups.
“The fact that we now have billions of cellphone cameras out there. The facts that Neil made are pretty salient, however, what he fails to mention is that even though cellphone cameras have reached a level of technology far beyond just five years ago, it’s really hard to take an in-focus, framed up video that is quality at night time.” Hansen said.
Pope acknowledged that there are strange reports, however, “the uncomfortable truth is that everything that sounds like science fiction and conspiracy theory. Someone in government has been looking at it.”