Nick Pope chats to Asylum about aliens, real UFOs and Battle: Los Angeles
Nick Pope chats to Asylum about aliens, real UFOs and Battle: Los Angeles
March 15, 2011
Nick Pope knows aliens. Well, not like to have round for fajitas and a game of Jenga (how sweet would that be?) rather we mean, he knows the topic of aliens. And he knows it pretty much as well as anyone else in the world.
A twenty year MOD veteran, Pope worked during the nineties on the MOD's UFO project, a team who looked into sightings of unidentified objects entering British airspace.
He now splits his time between writing kick-ass sci-fi novels and commentating on the search for extra-terrestrial life.
He's far from your average grey-worshiping alien sycophant -- he's into evidence and open mindedness, much like ourselves.
We got the chance to chat to Nick this week as he helped to promote the new alien invasion opus Battle: Los Angeles.
Nick Pope, you spent 20 years at the MOD, and now you're one of the world's foremost experts on the search for extra terrestrial life. What qualifies you for your role?
It was actually 21 years at the MOD, anything on my wiki is probably wrong [alright Nick, we were only rounding it down]. I worked for the MOD for 21 years and from 1991 to 1994 I was assigned the MOD's UFO project. My job was to investigate any of the sightings that came in to see if any of them suggested any potential threat to the UK. Now that doesn't mean that the MOD corporately believed in martians, it was more a question of Russians. And obviously one theory that is prevalent in regards to a lot of UFO sightings is that we might be dealing with secret prototype Russian aircraft or drones. So obviously the MOD's UFO project was certainly more to do with keeping a watching eye on our air defence regions. In other word if there is something in our sky the RAF wants to know what is it and why it's there.
You've talked about the Rendlesham Forest incident being one of the most compelling that you've seen while you were there. Only documents relating to that incident have been destroyed?
This is quite a topical scandal at the moment. The MOD is in the process of declassifying and releasing its entire archive of UFO files. And in the batch released a few days ago, which was 8500 documents, one of the key revelations was 'oops sorry we seemed to have accidentally destroyed intelligence files on the Rendlesham Forest incident.' Now this was Britain's most compelling UFO case. It wasn't lights in the sky -- something landed -- a small craft of some sort actually landed in Rendlesham Forest and some of the US air force actually witnessed it. Got really close to this thing. One got so close he touched it. He actually sketched symbols on the side which he said were like Egyptian hieroglyphics. Something was briefly tracked on radar. And on a subsequent night when the landing sight was checked out, they found, where this thing had come down, three indentations in the clearing, where this thing had probably been on legs. It formed the shape of an equilateral triangle. When they ran a Geiger counter over it they got some readings which MOD's intelligence scientists said were significantly higher than background radiation.
And that would indicate a craft with some sort of nuclear engine?
It could possibly indicate something with a nuclear power source yes and self-evidently, something like this, well. To cut a long story short, the incident remains unexplained, and whatever you think it was it was clearly of defence significance.
Do you think films like Battle Los Angeles, District 9 are part of a campaign to soften people up before full-disclosure of alien life or do you think that's wishful thinking on behalf of UFO geeks?
The UFO community and the conspiracy theory community consistently allege that movies like Battle: Los Angeles are part of a campaign to acclimate us to the fact that aliens are real, ahead of an announcement that aliens are in fact real. But more importantly, or well, unimportantly, is that they allege that films like Battle: Los Angeles are designed to indoctrinate us into the idea that aliens are evil. People see battle LA as part of the New World Orders' ongoing conspiracy to get ready for some sort of false flag alien invasion or maybe a real one. I get genuine hostility particularly from people in the UFO field who take a new age view of all this. There are a lot of people out there who talk of extra terrestrials in terms of space people, space brothers or whatever. So when they see me promoting films like Battle: LA they say things like, "well Nick Pope's still secretly working for the government isn't he? He hasn't really left at all. His 2006 resignation was just a rouse, he's still in the pay of either the MOD or the NWO or the Illuminati."
So give you little truck to these disclosure theories?
I absolutely, erm, no I don't. I promise you hand on heart I'm not part of a cover-up or a conspiracy. I mean look I'm a sci-fi writer myself. I've written two sci-fi novels. I commentate on sci-fi for all sorts of TV programs. The reason I talk about a film like Battle: Los Angeles is because I like sci-fi. It's entertaining. It's fun. Don't feel like you're part of some NWO master plan.
How do you think, if alien life does exist, we'll make first contact? An invasion or something more benign?
Let's just say I hope, if they make contact, that it's going to be more ET than Battle: LA, but I think we can look at humankind and say, well there are good people and there are bad people why shouldn't it be the case with the wider universe? I'm convinced there's life out there. Many scientists share that view. People like Steven Hawking spoke recently about this. He said he didn't think it would be a good idea to make contact because he said he thought it'd be like the European explorers encountering the Native Americans. And, as he observed, that didn't turn out too well for the Native Americans. I suspect there are good and evil aliens. The universe is probably full of civilisations, some are probably benign, some are probably malevolent. So I don't rule out the possibility that one day we might face an alien invasion. A lot of things about Earth might be quite attractive in terms of resources. And if it happened for real, would we fight back like in Battle: Los Angeles? HELL YES! Hell yes, course we would.
You've talked a lot about the conventional search for alien life, in terms of radio wave scanning, or searching for planets similar to our own as being possibly a bit short-sighted -- can you explain why?
I think it's very easy to be quite anthropocentric in the search for alien life. So, for example, it's very tempting to say let's look for Earth-like planets orbiting Sun-like stars, and that's fine, but as I say it's very anthropocentric. In fact there are arguments to say we should be looking for other things. A civilisation much more advanced than ours would have huge energy requirements, so logically they might migrate towards a black hole because they might want to tap into that as an energy source. So in terms of where to look for in the Universe for an advanced civilization -- near a black hole. Many people believe that as a civilisation evolves and say becomes hundreds and thousands of years more advanced than us, it might actually regard our bodies as something quite weak and fallible. There is a theory that we are in largely the post-biological universe. I recently attended two meetings at the Royal Society about the search for extra terrestrial life and people were using phrases like immortal thinking machines. I had to remind myself I was at the Royal Society and not some sci-fi convention.
How significant is the discovery of the microbe with the arsenic DNA in terms of search for life out there?
It's very significant because it fundamentally redefines how we define life. We on Earth have a fairly narrow view of what life should be like, that it must always use the same building blocks. But this discovery in Mono Lake of a microbe which can apparently use arsenic instead of phosphorous as one of it's building blocks -- it changes the whole ball game. So now if life has a wider definition, if we've found life that can survive using strategies that previously we thought were impossible -- self-evidently arsenic we thought was poisonous to just about everything -- then the universe should therefore be teeming with life. To use that tired old phrase, life will find a way.
Why do you think some people are so aggresive toward the notion of alien life?
I think the question of are we alone or not in the universe is one of the most profound we can ask and of course there is huge interest in it. On the other hand there's nothing like the question of UFOs and aliens to polarise opinions. Believers and sceptics are passionate about this. Believers think it's already happening and the government is covering it up, while sceptics have this very narrow world view -- and frankly they're probably quite scared of all this, they've got this very safe world view and they don't like the idea that there might be something beyond or something bigger. Something alien.
Do you personally believe that aliens have landed on earth?
Life out there -- definitely. Life coming down here and visiting us -- maybe.
In terms of our understanding of alien life -- you said before we might be living in the post-biological universe. How does a cloud of consciousness stay together? How does that even manifest itself?
I have no idea -- but I think we need to get away from this idea that alien life is going to be humanoid. Look at the image of the grey that you see all the time in UFO literature and you think well, that's essentially us, and some people think they're time travellers from the future and that's what we're going to evolve into. There are all sorts of fascinating theories about this, but what I think is we need to take a step back and think of how alien something extra terrestrial might really be. Would we even recognize it as life? Could we be dealing with an intelligence that had effectively downloaded itself into a machine and then onto the Internet.
And that's how Asylum was born -- only joking, we're not a pan-galatic super-conscious... yet.