September 6, 2013

In his Aug. 31 Free for All letter, “The scientific likelihood of alien life,” John Walker wrote that Americans should have answered “yes” to the survey question “Do you believe in UFOs and aliens?,” saying that “any self-respecting scientist” is likely to “profess a belief in aliens.”

Well, no. Scientists would say there’s a probability that there’s life on other planets, but certainly not that there are “aliens” — in other words, beings from other planets coming to Earth — or UFOs, the vehicles to bring them here.

The nearest star outside the solar system,Proxima Centauri, is more than 4.2 light years, or 25 trillion miles, from Earth. Even if there’s life on a planet orbiting this star and those “aliens” built “UFOs” that could travel a million miles per hour — an improbability — it would take them more than 2,500 years to get here, and that is only if they pick our tiny planet out of the universe to visit. What is the likelihood of that happening?

In other words, Dana Milbank was right when he wrote [“A false accusation beats none,” Aug. 28]: The fact that 29 percent of Americans believe in UFOs and aliens is “disturbing.”

Raphael Danziger, McLean

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