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World UFO Day is celebrated on 2 June each year, with this year being the 11th celebration of the event. World UFO Day aims to unite all UFO believers, and to highlight what many believe to be a continued conspiracy by governments over the world to hide proof of the existence of UFO’s, aliens and extraterrestrial activity.

Close encounters of the fake kind…
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While a Google search for UFO’s and extraterrestrial activity can result in much weirdness and amusement, there is no denying the continued, widespread interest in the subject. And alongside the many dubious alien-chasers out there, there are numerous more scientifically sound activities like the SETI (Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence) initiatives at Harvard University, the University of California, Berkeley and the SETI Institute. These form part of a well coordinated global initiative with millions of contributors and supporters. SETI@Home, hosted at Berkeley, is a scientific experiment that uses Internet-connected computers in a quest to detect intelligent life outside Earth. Members of the public can participate by running a free program that downloads and analyzes radio telescope data. SETI@Home, originally launched in May 1999, is currently the largest international distributed computing effort with over 3 million concurrent users.

In reaction to some SETI activities, renowned physicist Stephen Hawking has expressed the opinion that humanity’s efforts to radio communicate with extraterrestrials could in fact be endangering us. If aliens detecting our signals could travel to earth, which would prove their vast technological superiority, Hawking is reported to have said “I think the outcome would be much as when Christopher Columbus first landed in America, which didn’t turn out very well for the Native Americans”.

The National Geographic Channel recently polled American citizens on various topics related to the extraterrestrial. No less than 36% of those polled believe that UFO’s exist, with the majority of these being sure that government officials are hiding paranormal activities from the public. More surprisingly, 11% (about one in ten) believe they’ve personally seen a UFO. Furthermore, if the US was faced with an alien takeover, 65% Americans feel President Barrack Obama would be better suited to handle the situation than presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

It’s not only the Americans who are regularly seeing unidentified objects in the skies. UFO interest groups are a global phenomenon, and down here in New Zealand, an organisation called the UFocus NZ Research Network maintains a hub of information on New Zealand UFO sightings and contact experiences.

In 2012 alone, the UFocus NZ website lists no less than 43 sightings for the first half of the year – quite incredible, considering the size of the country.

And here I was thinking we were safely off the beaten track down under!

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