The National Institute for Discovery Science (NIDS), located just off the Las Vegas strip, is a place where scientists take UFOs seriously. “We don’t study aliens,” says biochemist Colm Kelleher. “We study anomalies. They’re the same thing in a lot of people’s minds, but not in our minds.?

Since they set up a 24-hour hotline in 1999, NIDS has received more than 5,000 phone calls and email messages reporting UFOs. “There have been disc-shaped objects, large triangular objects, objects swooping down and following people in their vehicles,” Kelleher says. “We’re talking daytime?we’re not talking distant lights in the sky or anything. We’re talking up close and personal.” Most reports turn out to be missile launches from nearby air bases, meteors, or new, classified military planes?but not all of them.

Videotape and photo analysts check out the sightings. One that?s still unexplained is a videotape taken at a wedding party in Chile in 1998, which shows a formation of ant-shaped objects hovering in the sky. A NIDS video expert says, “This video footage was not faked, it is not fraudulent, it is not an airplane, it’s not people parachuting, it’s not insects, it’s not birds. In short, it is unexplained.”

NIDS is especially interested in a remote area in Northeast Utah where “for some unknown reason, for the last 50 years, and I’m talking continuous, there’ve been hundreds, literally hundreds of sightings over the small area,” Kelleher says.A local biology teacher began cataloging the sightings in the 1960s, and eventually gave his database to NIDS.

Kelleher stands ready to analyze any UFO he sees. He has a Fresnel lens that can take light from the UFO and run it through fiber optics into a spectophotometer linked to a computer, which instantly tells what elements are generating the light. “The definition of ‘extraterrestrial’ is linked to different isotope ratios: carbon, phosphorous, nitrogen,” he says. He also has a strong LED light with which he can signal back to the UFO. Many people report having a “dialogue” with a UFO by clicking a flashlight off and on and receiving the same pattern of flashes in return.

He doesn’t think UFOs are necessarily alien. They could be something he describes as a “storm in time,” a window into another dimension or time stream. Whatever they are, at least some scientists are taking them seriously. NIDS is able to recruit some top level scientists to analyze UFOs anonymously, but few of them will go on record with their results. “?The gap between the public interest and the interest in the scientific community is huge,” Kelleher says. “?To many scientists, studying UFOs is really a career killer, and that hasn’t changed in 50 years.”

Richard Dolan is one academic who’s not afraid to take on the subject of UFOs and write clearly and objectively about them.

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