storm area 51 digital cover

One of the biggest questions humans have is if they are “alone” in the universe — if there is life beyond the planet Earth. Apparently people could not wait for an answer, as 3.6 million people have indicated they are interested in or intend to go to a Facebook event called “Storm Area 51, They Can’t Stop All of Us.” 

The Facebook event was created by 20-year-old Matty Roberts, a student from Bakersfield, California, as a joke at 2 a.m. on June 27, according to BBC news. The Storm Area 51 raid was originally scheduled for 3 to 6 a.m. Friday, but the event was transformed into a celebration party from 12 p.m. Friday to 12 p.m. Tuesday at the Downtown Las Vegas Events Center.

Using the slogan “Let’s see them Aliens,” Storm Area 51 quickly gained its traction over the summer as hundreds of Facebook users posted their game plans, memes and merchandise to promote the event. Storm Area 51 also created a website promoting these items. 

Some Facebook users even went as far as to purchase plane tickets and book hotel rooms for the event, while others have posted their social media to follow a livestream of the raid.  

“I think people are really motivated to want to be part of a group, especially a group that is associated with something that’s got a lot of national attention,” said Robert Hessling, an assistant teaching professor in psychology with an interest in health and relationships. 

Are people actually going? 

As most people have taken this event as a joke, students and professors have said they do believe people will attempt to infiltrate Area 51; however, they may underestimate the terrain.

Hessling said he watched a video that documented the terrain to get to Area 51 and said it is physically demanding to get to the facility. 

“One of the things they would have to do is literally march 30 miles through the desert and there’s no roads,” Hessling said. “Most people can’t handle, physically, doing that. Not only is it physically difficult for people to do, the security there will get them. It’s a really fun thing that I think people really love to think about [...] but I think in the end people are just doing this as a sort of a way to have fun.” 

area 51 map

A recreation of the planned raid to storm Area 51.

Hessling said people naturally overvalue small chances and in order to have a healthy lifestyle, optimism is necessary. However, Hessling said if there is too much optimism, it leads to people making risky behaviors. 

“We have unrealistic optimism, is what it’s called; it’s weird because it can occur very differently,” Hessling said. “[...] For example [people can be] too concerned about the fact airplanes may crash but airplane crashes are incredibly low rates of occurrence, but car crashes are incredibly high. So they should be terrified to drive to the airport but feel safe on the plane, but everyone is the other way around.”

Students have said there is a very small probability that people will actually go to the event, as there are those who will take it seriously and those who will not. According to an article written by CNN, people are already getting arrested for attempting to sneak into the Area 51 facility. Dutch YouTuber, Ties Granzier, and his friend, Govert Charles Wilhelmus Jacob Sweep, ended up in a Nevada jail for doing so. 

According to the article, the two friends wanted to go to Area 51 to check out the area and document their experience. 

“What we’re going to find people need to have a little bit of an optimistic bias in order to feel happy and we need to feel and think good things are going to happen,” Hessling said. “If you were completely rational about all of your beliefs and really took into consideration of the chances of all the bad things that could happen to you, it would be really depressing.” 

The logistics of the existence of aliens 

Although many students said they believe the possibility of aliens existing in the universe is high, members of the Physics and Astronomy Club said there is a high probability for life to exist beyond Earth.  

“I think it’s incredibly low probability that we’re alone,” said Kiley Fridley, a senior in physics and astronomy chair for Physics and Astronomy Club. “If you want to talk about life you have to discuss whether or not if it's intelligent. The probability of having life is not intelligent, it’s incredibly high.” 

Others have said the likelihood of finding aliens in Area 51 is very low. 

“I have actually read accounts of what happens in Area 51 and it literally just sounds like it’s a place where they test experimental aircraft — it’s super secret and I’m pretty sure that’s just it,” Hessling said. 

However for the off-chance people find aliens, it sparks the debate of what to do with them. Richard Mansbach, a professor in political science, said the aliens should get citizenship according to United States immigration laws to seek asylum. 

“Aliens are aliens, you know you’re under the same rules if you were from Mexico as you would be if you’re from Venus, right?” Mansbach said. “Therefore [aliens] would have to have a hearing to see if they deserve asylum — if they’re fleeing for example, from their planet, they’re fleeing persecution or violence. If that were the case, we’d have to settle them here legally.” 

Mansbach said if people do find aliens in Area 51, this would be an issue to bring up in the United Nations. 

“The security council [would be involved] and perhaps the planet would be given a seat at the U.N.,” Mansbach said. “Which would be interesting because you know you run through and the most recent state admitted was South Sudan and now it might be succeeded by Uranus or something like that — wherever [aliens are from].” 

On the other hand members of the Physics and Astronomy Club said the aliens would not be treated this way and that aliens would be considered as “unintelligent creatures” rather than people who are looking for asylum. 

Fridley said after she read the MK-Ultra projects that were released by the CIA, it led her to believe the government would not consider the aliens as citizens.

“They’re willing to treat their own people very poorly so I choose to believe even if there were to be aliens [in Area 51] that they would have no rights, nothing,” Fridley said. 

Liam McDermott, senior in physics and outreach chair of Physics and Astronomy Club, and Fridley said they created the idea of a new planet to conceptualize the possibility of bringing an alien from another planet to Earth. They said there has been evidence of different chirality seen in meteors that have landed on Earth. 

McDermott said chiral is whether a molecule twists left or right, so organisms on Earth only accept left twisting molecules.

“Something that we’ve seen before is humans have left chiral structure and in meteors that have hit Earth, we’ve seen right chiral structures — something [humans] aren’t compatible with,” Fridley said. “So for example if you take sugar, it has left chiral properties so our taste buds are very good at tasting sugar that have left chiral properties. If you create [sugar] that has the right chirality, you can’t taste it because it doesn’t bind with vectors and stuff like that.” 

Fridley and McDermott said it would be very hard for aliens to move to another planet because of the change of the chiral structure, atmosphere and environment, and it would be very difficult for aliens to live on Earth and for humans to live on other planets.

Sept. 20, 2019 may be remembered as the day humans discovered the secrets of Area 51. So to the people waiting at the entrance, let’s see them aliens. 

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