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The recent admission by the US government that it spent millions on a program to analyze “anomalous aerospace threats” (i.e., UFOs [1]) lends at least an air of credibility to the sightings of craft that appear to disobey our current understanding of the laws of physics. Of course, there are many publicly unanswered questions — from the existence of little green men and unknown propulsion systems to time travel and the meaning of crop circles. Those issues are easy to contemplate, visually appealing, and, well, the stuff of movies and countless science fiction novels.

What intrigues me — beyond the big picture issues — is the nature of the underlying electronics and robotics control systems, assuming the craft exist, and regardless of origin.

For example, the theory put forth by the Transformers franchise is that all of the advances in electronics and miniaturization since the invention of the transistor are due to reverse engineering alien hardware. Then, there’s the Star Trek series in which the world’s largest chip producer is based on a chip from the future.

I’m not convinced either scenario is true, but given the thousands of plots in print and TV, it’s likely someone hit upon the truth, even if the truth is simply secret government sponsored R&D.

Let’s assume — at least for the duration of this column — that there is some truth to the sighting and that the technology exists for instant acceleration and even light-speed travel. How are these systems controlled?

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Category: Weird Desk