Sarah Cruddas: 'I hope the viewers will be left with a sense of wonder'
Sarah Cruddas the renowned space journalist, astrophysicist and award-winning author talks to Sky HISTORY about investigating some of the most iconic and perplexing extra-terrestrial incidents of recent years in Craig Charles: UFO Conspiracies.
Calling on Sarah’s scientific expertise along the way the series investigates UFO hotspots in Ireland and Scotland, a small town in South Wales that seemingly witnessed the military engage in armed conflict with a UFO, as well as a spate of unexplained sightings in Arizona, Texas, New Mexico, Puerto Rico and Chile.
With evidence including never-before-heard testimony and disturbing documentation, the team scrutinises each UFO sighting in a specially created ‘investigation hub’, sifting through a range of materials to determine whether there is an earthly explanation for it or if it is beyond the reach of conventional science.
Can you tell us a little bit about the show and your role in it?
We are trying to take the most methodological and scientific approach to date, to try and answer the most profound question of all humanity, which is ‘Are we alone?’
Craig and I are like the real-life Mulder and Scully because I'm a scientist and Craig who is smart as hell wants to believe there is something out there. But that combination of the two of us enables us to approach these kinds of earthly mysteries with a more scientific and thorough approach.
Can you talk a bit about your approach to investigating these UFO incidents?
Mine and Craig's approach to this show is trust and verify. Trust all witnesses and try and try to verify. I'm trying to rule things out because I want to find out the things that we cannot explain while Craig is enthusiastically looking at everything and bringing new evidence to the table.
We spoke to witnesses, and we looked for hard evidence. It is like that clichéd Carl Sagan quote: 'Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.'
You spoke to some interesting people on the show from Nick Pope to Luis Elizondo, who did you most enjoy talking to?
The team in SETI who we spoke to about Oumuamua which is an extrasolar object that passed through our solar system. As scientists, we expected an extrasolar object [an object which did not come from our solar system] to be spherical but Oumuamua was a cigar-shaped, rocky object.
Many scientists have said it was a chip from a cosmic block, but it was not behaving - or was shaped - as we expected. Others have come forward with the hypothesis that potentially that could be an alien civilization passing us by. For me working with that team at SETI was important because they have that credibility. The idea that there is life beyond Earth is something that very serious scientists are working on right now.
In terms of UFO sightings, what is the usual scientific explanation for them? Can you share any UFO encounters from the show that you can’t explain?
There are lots of things that can be explained by science, by weather, by light or by military technology we don’t know about yet. Planets reflect light from the sun and don’t twinkle. Often the planet Venus has been mistaken for a UFO. There are lenticular clouds, which these flying saucer-shaped clouds that you see to the lee of mountainsides. There are a lot of UFO sightings at 3am when people may have been in the pub for many hours.
We know so little about Earth, but it's fair to be open-minded and say that we do not know what they are just yet. It doesn't mean it's aliens, but it also doesn't rule it out. The military video the Pentagon released from the USS Nimitz is a good example of this. There are credible military witnesses, coming forward and saying, ‘We saw something that we couldn’t explain.’
Should governments be taking UFOs more seriously?
Governments and the media are starting to take things more seriously. It would be naïve to think we are all alone. There is a scary aspect when you look to Earth as an example of what happens when different civilizations meet each other. It has not always been that friendly. So, it is frightening to think about what could happen.
Though this new era in space exploration we are in now is bigger than any one company, country or individual. That is why the International Space Station has 60 nations working together on the first off-world outpost in space. The optimist in me would say that an alien civilization that has managed to leave its own world have had to work together and would be coming in peace.
What do you hope viewers will get from the show?
You can be a scientist, you can be a layperson, you can be a UFO enthusiast to enjoy it. 'I hope the viewers will be left with a sense of wonder': Sarah Cruddas on Craig Charles: UFO Conspiracies. I just want people to watch this and to go out and look up at the night sky and to wonder ‘What else is out there?’ and be left with that sense of mystery.