Amy Roberts: A real life space opera
By the end of this week, life here on earth will either continue as expected, utterly unchanged, or there will be thousands of people walking around with pet aliens.
You might recall back in June a student from Bakersfield, California, Matty Roberts (no relation), created what he says was a flippant Facebook event and invited a few friends. He called it: “Storm Area 51, They Can’t Stop All of Us.” The plan, as the name suggests, was to assemble a group large enough to charge the top-secret Air Force base in the Nevada desert rumored to house clandestine government research on all things otherworldly. “Let’s see them aliens,” the event description declares.
Roberts said he created the event one night while bored and insists the whole thing was meant as a joke, but it remains to be seen if the 3.5 million people who have replied “going” or “interested” take it that way. For their part, local lawmakers don’t see the humor. County officials confirmed emergency preparations are in place and the local sheriff said he’s bringing in 150 additional officers and 300 paramedics from across Nevada and even federal agencies just in case. It might not sound like much, but considering there are normally less than 25 deputies patrolling the entire county, that’s a pretty significant boost.
To me, the whole things sounds like an extraterrestrial version of the Fyre Festival. Regardless of the hype, I don’t think anything will really happen, but it’s still funny to think that somewhere at the Pentagon, people probably had to have a meeting about this.
Alien conspiracy theorists have long considered Area 51 the holy grail of supernatural secrets. It started back in the 1980s when physicist Bob Lazar claimed in an interview he was hired to reverse engineer an alien spacecraft near Area 51. He detailed his accounts to investigative reporter George Knapp, who discovered enough corroborating evidence for Lazar to be taken seriously. A few years later Knapp wrote the book “Hunt for the Skinwalker” (the movie by the same name is painfully subpar), which features unexplained phenomena and terrifying events at a ranch near Vernal.
Despite living just a few hours from this ranch I actually first heard about it in Nepal. I visited a Himalayan teahouse that had one of those ‘leave a book, take a book’ swap stations for resting climbers and “Hunt for the Skinwalker” happened to be on the shelf. I’d never really given much thought to aliens and wasn’t especially interested in the topic, but it was the only book I could find in English that wasn’t the Holy Bible, so I picked it up. I began reading and quickly found myself a curious believer. Not the ‘Storm Area 51’ type of fanatic, rather I submitted to a humbling realization that Earthlings can’t be the only intelligent life forms.
Enthralled by the book, I returned to the States and signed up for an astronomy course at a planetarium where I attempted to digest far more than my mind could comprehend. When distance is measured in light years, and trillions and billions are tossed about as fathomable numbers, I tend to get overwhelmed. I do remember the gist of the lesson though — there are roughly 25 billion places where life could conceivably exist in the Milky Way Galaxy, which is one galaxy among trillions. There’s no way we’re alone. If the government knows this, it’s certainly kept under lock and Tweet.
At least for now.
Presidential candidate Andrew Yang said if he’s elected, he would aim to declassify Area 51 materials. A rather odd campaign promise, but one that has likely earned him about 3.5 million votes.
We’ll either have to wait until Yang takes office, or until Friday to find out what really happens in the Nevada desert.
Amy Roberts is a freelance writer, longtime Park City resident and the proud owner of two rescued Dalmatians, Stanley and Willis. Follow her on Twitter @amycroberts.
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Columnist Tom Clyde has been unable to nab a ski reservation so far, so instead he’s catching up on all the important animal-related news going on in the world.