Alien hunters come in all shapes and sizes. Some wear long flowered dresses, attend UFO

conventions and worship the deceased gods of Egypt. Some have advanced science degrees

and look for intelligently produced radio-waves. Most chase things that don’t exist or shouldn’t.

None of them look like movie stars. Me, I look for and find extraterrestrials in the damnedest

places, so I’m quite sure they exist. I just make a distinction between the mawkish stick-figure

parodies that supposedly ride around in crash-prone flying saucers and those to whom reality

itself bows down like a suppliant.

   To my mind UFOs are mostly irrelevant. Do I care what kind of vehicle extraterrestrials ride

around in? Not really. I do care about what they say, though. The ETs I perceive manifest only

very rarely, and, as a rule, in ways unacceptable to science, providing information, commentary,

and not quite scaring the crap out of everyone. Making things too obvious or easy would create

many problems, change the status quo, and spoil the soup. So direct communication via radio-

waves, for example, is out. This leaves indirect communication.

   The most famous and fully documented event of this kind began when a string of twenty-

one comets – one for each anno Domini human century – was spotted by the comet-hunting team

of Drs. Eugene and Helen Shoemaker and David Levy on March 24, 1992. Designated “A”

through “W” (“I” and “O” were not used), the “string of pearls” later impacted the planet Jupiter

over six days from July 16 to 21, 1994. The impacts were the most energetic events of any kind

ever seen in real time by man, woman, or anything in between. Period. Fragment “G” alone was

said to be equivalent to 60 million megatons of TNT or 600 times the earth’s entire nuclear


   When news of SL9 broke out, astronomers were beside themselves for months. During that

fateful week in July ’94, many had been up for days with bags under their eyes and stubble on

their chins. None of them thought it the slightest bit strange that twenty-one comets were

exploding on Jupiter with the 21st century just around the corner. The quaint pan-cultural notion

about comets auguring major events is just silly superstition from bygone eras, after all. It

certainly isn’t science.

   I was actually expecting something like Shoemaker-Levy 9 to happen because I knew when it

would happen – March, 1993.  I knew this because on October 9, 1992 a meteor had pulverized

the right tail-light of a car whose license plate read 4GF-933. I thought this quite fishy at the time

because October 9 was only three days before the Ames Research Center commenced a Targeted

Search” for extraterrestrial intelligence on the twelfth. More radio-waves in space were collected

and analyzed in the first few minutes of this federally funded NASA program than had been

accomplished in all the previous fifty privately funded SETI projects combined. Ames’s targets

were around one thousand “G” and “F” spectral-type stars located within one-hundred lightyears

of earth. No, NASA wasn’t fooling around, and for once money wasn’t the problem.

   The recovered meteorite measured four by five by eleven inches and weighed 27.3 pounds. A

1980 Chevrolet Malibu tail-light measures around five by twenty-two inches. Only the signal-

light was destroyed. Neither the slender chrome accent forming the taillight’s upper border nor

the thick fender immediately below it were significantly damaged. The only change to any of this

chrome was a segment of the accent that had been bent down across the license plate numbers

“933”, as if to emphasize them. Wow, hard-core! Nobody can do this on purpose (can they?).

The photo published in the Gannet Suburban Newspaper showed this very clearly and in full

color. Falling rocks from the sky portend major events soon to happen, too. It’s a human thing.

   One’s worldview, whether it be yours or mine or that of a great philosopher, may be thought of

as consisting of many pieces in a jigsaw puzzle. The pieces are scattered everywhere in time and

space. Each of us during the course of his or her life attempts to fit the pieces together so that

they form a coherent and logical picture. When the news media announced in late March that a

string of comets had just been discovered in our solar system and that it was on a course to

impact the planet Jupiter in July the following year, I knew very well what I was seeing and

hearing on my television, and just like that a whopper of a puzzle piece snapped right into place.

The two impact events were clearly connected, and in more ways than one. Both events were

unprecedented, ridiculously improbable, aimed, and involved meteor strings. Still photographs

revealed that the fireball consisted of more than seventy fragments. If this weren’t enough, both

sets of projectiles impacted only the back or dark side of their respective targets. There’s a word

for when your extraterrestrial intel is good and things work out and that word is Bingo!

   The hypothesis Ames was investigating was simple enough: Extraterrestrials exist, nothing

more and nothing less. ET’s visually assisted and preemptive reply was also quite simple: “Right,

Ames!” Drums from the deep. It was the right signal-light, not the left, that had been tagged

within a millimeter of its life. If I’d had an aboriginal pointing bone handy I’d have chanted,

flapped my arms,  jumped up and down and used it, but who’d have listened? Being an

existential detective can be a real bitch sometimes.

   Thinking it was time for some good old fashioned detective work, I called up the Gannett

Suburban Newspaper, which published three different articles about the event and asked it to

send me copies of these articles as well as any photographs taken of the impact site. From this

material I learned many things to support my suspicion that the event was, in fact, a semiotic

extraterrestrial response to the High Resolution Microwave Survey. In linguistics, semiotics is

the study of  signs and symbols as elements of communicative behavior. Pragmatics is the branch

of semiotics which analyzes language in terms of the situational context within which utterances

are made.

   According to one of the articles, October 12, 1992, the day HRMS began, was also the 18th

birthday of the young Peekskill resident whose car had been perforated by the impact. All grown

up are we? October 12 1992 was also America’s 500th birthday. History informs us that by 1500

the Taino population, which populated modern-day Haiti and Dominican Republic, had declined

from around eight million to 100,000. Nice calling card. No need to be burdened with any of the

horrific history, but history and linguistics aren’t science. They are the existential detective’s

bread and butter, though. (The exploits and methods used by the Spanish conquistadors who

followed Columbus to the new world won’t be mentioned here for fear of shocking the reader.)

   I got on the phone with Dr. Martin Prinz, curator of meteorites at the American Museum of

Natural History in New York City. The meteorite’s teenaged owner had agreed to let him exhibit

her meteorite and car together at the museum for a month or two. I saw them there in the

museum’s lobby myself. Before the good doctor’s attention and patience ran out listening to my

harangue about the impact’s ridiculous precision, I managed to learn an improbable fact that the

press had missed. The annual draconid meteor shower happened to be at its height on October 9

when the meteor went down. Naturally, everyone in the press assumed the meteor was a

draconid. Dr. Prinz informed me that the Peekskill fireball could not have been a draconid for the

simple reason that it entered our atmosphere from the south and traveled north. Draconids, which

hail from the northern constellation, Draco the Dragon, enter the atmosphere from the north and

travel south. This certainly qualified it as both improbable and meaningful.

   Draconids and the constellation to which they refer are named after an ancient Athenian archon

named Draco (ca. 620 B.C.). The laws of this infamous ruler were so severe that nearly all law-

breakers were executed, no matter how minor the infraction. We derive the term “draconian”

from him. So we can take considerable comfort in the fact that the aimer(s) of the Peekskill

meteor, which originally weighed about a ton before it broke apart into its seventy-odd

fragments, must have gone to some significant trouble to requisition such a specimen. It

seems they wanted anyone noticing their handiwork to know that they are not draconian, which

is very good news, indeed. There will be no melting of human beings like in the movies.

   There were plenty of other details to notice about the Peekskill event. It was most conspicuous,

fully documented, filmed, scientifically studied, and publicized event of its kind in history — that

is, until Shoemaker-Levy 9 snatched the honor a few months later. An international team of six 

scientists wrote a paper about the initial event for “Nature” magazine in 1994. The first sentence

read: “On 9 October 1992, a bright fireball appeared over West Virginia, travelled some 700 km

in a northeasterly direction and culminated in at least one impact: a 12.4 kg ordinary chondrite

was recovered in Peekskill, New York.”

   The team had made good use of fourteen amateur videos made of the fireball in flight that

October night in half a dozen states, mostly by spectators at high school football games. The

videos were ”the first motion pictures of a fireball from which a meteorite has been recovered.”

Triangulation analysis allowed them to determine the fireball’s exact flightpath, which was

shown on a map provided. No mention was made of the fact that the fireball began its “700 km”

flight at a point adjacent the National Radioastronomy Observatory in Green Bank West

Virginia. In addition to being the birthplace of the SETI paradigm, the NRAO was a major

participant in NASA’s SETI project. Nor did they mention that Washington D.C. just happens to

lie in the middle of that 700 km flightpath. “During the second half of its flight, the fireball

exhibited extensive fragmentation with several dozen individual fragments visible on some video

frames.” The better for the D.C. progenitors of HRMS to enjoy the show, no doubt.

    The reported color of the fireball also went unmentioned in the article. It was lime-green.

What else?

   Things went quiet for almost twenty years, until the same kind of thing, sporting the same

signature, happened again. The news media had been counting the days until asteroid 2012

DA14 would squeak past the Earth. It was eerily reminiscent of the media’s countdown to the

American quincentennial back in October 1992. DA14 was discovered in February 2012, a

year earlier. Weighing in at 130,000 metric tons and measuring about 100 feet in diameter, DA14

was the largest cosmic body to just miss the Earth ever recorded. A few asteroids have

approached Earth a little closer to Earth than 17,000 miles, but they were smaller. Now, normally

one asteroid near-miss in a day is enough to keep the news media and astronomers hopping, but

two unrelated asteroids in one day? This is not supposed to happen, either. It can; it just doesn’t.

  Unlike DA14, the sixty-foot Chelyabinsk super-bolide had not been previously detected, but

like the Peekskill fireball, it entered Earth’s atmosphere at the shallow angle of about four

degrees. Meteors usually enter the atmosphere at closer to forty-five degrees. It blew up

approximately seventeen miles above the Earth’s surface with an explosive yield equivalent to

twenty-five Hiroshima bombs. The shockwave from the blast shattered many of the city’s

windows causing injuries, mostly to the faces, of at least 1,500 denizens of Chelyabinsk. Fifty-

five were hospitalized, including thirteen children. There were no deaths, however. None.

   It was another demonstration of the aimers’ precision and power. It was more “in our face”,

strictly speaking, than either Peekskill or SL9. Like its predecessors, the Chelyabinsk event was

both unprecedented and hugely improbable. Two asteroids near-misses in one day is unheard of.

More worrisome than any of this, however, was that ET’s semiotic events were escalating, at

least in terms of the vernacular “in your face.” I notice things like this. It’s my job.  

   But humans weren’t listening or noticing. No scientist at NASA-Ames would give me the time

of day about my observations. I did get a response from Dr. Carl Sagan, who wrote on Cornell

University stationary that I had “failed to make the crucial distinction between a priori and a

posteriori statistics.” I suppose he was pointing out some essential or disqualifying difference

between statistics analyzed before versus after an event.

   The public’s go-to guy on such matters, Dr. Seth Shostak at the SETI Institute, responded to

my observations as follows: “To argue this would be like deciding that a piece of driftwood that

happened to wash up on the beach and bump into a dozing sunbather 7 months ago was

somehow a signal from a deep sea intelligence, trying to make a comment about Monica

Lewinsky and Bill Clinton.” In a subsequent missive he wrote: “I don’t think this will find much

acceptance in the science community. It doesn’t explain anything and it doesn’t have any

predictive power—both are hallmarks of science.” And later still: “This makes no sense, unless

you think the aliens hang around Jupiter or Pluto or some other neighborhood body.”

   I’ll deal with the last two comments. Getting to Pluto or anywhere else in our solar system

shouldn’t be a problem. Since the average age of half the stars in the Milky Way galaxy is 6.3

billion years or 1.5 billion years older than our sun, the average alien civilization, let’s say, five-

hundred light-years away, would need to extend its sphere of influence at the rate of only 1 light-

year every three million years to get here. They could have almost walked there by now! Most

people, including scientists, are unaware of this or haven’t thought this through, but you’d think

that a senior SETI scientist would be aware of these basic numbers.

   As for Peekskill’s failure to provide any “predictive power”, what was “933”, chopped liver?

   The U.S. government was a slightly different story. The various departments and agencies I

contacted about my findings ignored me. I received no thanks or reply whatsoever from any of

them. They did let me know that they were watching me, though. Anyone talking about fifty-

million atom bombs going off, anywhere, is probably someone to keep an eye on. Sometimes

when I went to D.C. to shop with my wife (we lived in West Virginia about two hours away), I

couldn’t help but notice the tails. They weren’t very subtle about them, either. Now, this was

creepy because how would they even know I was in D.C.?

   One of these was a young officer in uniform, who watched and followed us into a restaurant.

The moment we got up to leave, so did he. Nothing too unusual here, but in Washington D.C.,

where I grew up the only child of spooks, picking up on tails is a kind of survival skill.

   Another time when my wife, her British niece, and I were enjoying an elaborate hotel buffet

breakfast, this young, drop-dead gorgeous creature brazenly stared at me from her table

populated by several older grey men in suits. She had moved her chair well away from her table

and turned it ninety degrees to affect a direct line to me. Now, this never happens. I’m tall, thin,

and dark of hair but not at all handsome, so I did my best to look like I knew what I was doing.

There were at least two other men sitting alone in the vast dining area stealing furtive glances at

me with varying degrees of skill, one in front of me, the other — I call him the chuckler — behind

me and mostly hidden by a wide stanchion. At first I entertained the fatuous notion that

existential detectives have to get used to this sort of thing; then I realized that what they were

actually doing was messing with my head. Maybe they thought I was messing with theirs, or

maybe they wanted to acknowledge, in a plausibly deniable way of course, my discovery of

those invisible and powerful entities that probably run the galaxy, inasmuch as anyone does. I

know how it is.

   At some point the question becomes, what on earth are these authorities doing here exactly?

One thing they might be doing is keeping any low level extraterrestrials only a few hundred or

thousand years ahead of us technologically under some kind of check. Otherwise, some of them

would probably be exploiting or enslaving the human race; some might even like to take the

Earth for themselves, rare jewel that it is. There seem to be all kinds of things running loose in

our skies, coming and going as they please, but one should expect the spacecraft of those

responsible for Peekskill and SL9 to be more reliable, assuming they even use such contraptions.

At least a dozen UFOs have allegedly crashed or become temporarily disabled over the years.  

   Another thing the authorities could be doing is protecting our world from extinction-level

asteroid and comet impacts, like guardian angels. What a shame it would be if some comet or

asteroid wiped out ninety percent of the life on Earth. Conservation of intelligent life would be

an aspiration worthy of any benevolent ETs, and they obviously possess the means to carry out

this goal.

   Another clue as to what they’re doing here is the moon. At one-quarter the size of the Earth it’s

way too large to be a natural satellite. Famed author, Isaac Asimov, once wrote: “It’s too big to

have been captured by the Earth. The chances of such a capture having been affected and the

moon then having taken up a nearly perfect circular orbit around our Earth are too small to make

such an eventuality credible.”  

   Dr. Sean C. Solomon at MIT once wrote: “The Lunar Orbiter experiments vastly improved our

knowledge of the Moon’s gravitational field…indicating the frightening possibility that it might

be hollow.” The moon will “ring like a bell”, sometimes for hours, any time something as small

as an Apollo stage rocket crashes into it. On November 20, 1969 the Apollo 12 crew jettisoned

the lunar module ascent stage causing it to crash into the moon. The impact created an artificial

moon quake that reverberated for more than an hour. This test was repeated with Apollo 13,

which intentionally commanded its third stage rocket to crash into the moon. Seismic

instruments recorded that the reverberations lasted for three hours and twenty minutes. When the

earth experiences a large earthquake, the reverberations usually last only a few minutes due to

the density of our planet.

   The moon is the only satellite in the solar system that has a stationary, near-perfect, circular

orbit. Also odd is the hard fact that the sun and moon are almost exactly the same size when

viewed from Earth, which is why total eclipses occur. The mathematical random probability that

the sun and moon would perfectly align for a total eclipse to appear on earth is basically zero.

   Without the moon’s stabilizing effect, the Earth would tilt as much as 85-degrees every one

million years or so, causing drastic changes and possibly preventing advanced or intelligent life

from developing. Was the moon placed or tweaked into the orbit it travels?  If yes, then by

whom? The designers of Peekskill, SL9, and Chelyabinsk seem a good candidate.

   Our moon also bears, intriguingly enough, it’s maker’s stamp, 933. As we’ll recall,

these three numbers, comprising the right half of the impacted Chevrolet’s license plate, were

overscored by the chrome accent which hung over them. They provided the month and year of

Shoemaker-Levy 9’s appearance in March 1993. The moon’s orbital period is 27.3 days.

The Peekskill meteorite’s weight was reported as 12.4 kilograms. In pounds this works out to


  After the Apollo 17 mission landed on the moon in December 1972, we never went back. The

reason Dr. Shostak gives for this is there’s been no public funding for it. But why? Is there some

truth to be found or confirmed there that the public couldn’t handle?

  Life is believed to have appeared on Earth 600 million years after the Earth was formed. DNA’s

co-discoverer, Dr. Francis Crick, refused to believe that DNA, with its billions of fortuitous

connections, could have formed spontaneously on Earth in so short a time. It took almost three

billion years just for single-cell life to become multi-cellular life. He therefore postulated that

DNA or its precursor must have arrived to Earth inside of a meteor or comet, a theory known as

panspermia. But this seems even more improbable since the meteor or comet would have had to

originate from another solar system, the very closest of which is 24 trillion miles (4.24

lightyears) away. It seems far more likely that some Johnny Apple-seeding intelligence

created the mathematically programmed prescription and code known as DNA.

   It seems reasonable to speculate that the intelligence responsible for SL9 and Peekskill is the

same one that created the conditions for life on Earth. Beings that move around and aim large

and small cosmic bodies seem like the very kind of beings that could pull something this off.

They might have designed and engineered the human species on this planet. Perhaps they created

the different races to see if humans can live together and cooperate in spite of their physical

differences. The universe will surely produce many profoundly different morphologies and what

better way to train humans to deal with this fact than by creating superficial disparities? All

species observe a principle of separation. Species, races, clans, cultures, nations, and beings

from other worlds are all treated with caution or fear. This is wise, yet interaction builds trust.

   The rules of non-engagement that the piloting human parodies obey are probably enforced by

these authorities who gave us a small peek at their skill on October 9, 1992. But if there’s a

single underlying message to be gleaned from their meticulous actions it is that science without a

conscience or restraint can portend very dark things. With nuclear brinksmanship between

Russia and the free world over Ukraine even now making headlines, and China itching to grab

Taiwan, it is hard to be sanguine about our future prospects. Both totalitarian nations claim some

historical justification for their unprovoked or telegraphed aggression, but current political reality

does not corroborate either of their claims. Consequently, humankind will not be aided in any

way that might hasten our own self-destruction. The 21st century, now only twenty-two years in,

will test our worthiness to intermingle with civilized worlds.

   There are wonders and marvels to be found in the cosmos. You just have to look a little harder

for them. Of course, we can’t know anything for certain. Everything is statistics and uncertainty,

as scientists well know, when it suits them. The best we can usually ever do is use our eyes and

brains to arrive at what makes the most sense.  

   Achieving contact with another world is not the kind of thing one rushes blithely into,

especially when that other world is raw and unfinished. It makes great sense to hold back and test

the waters first. There must be protocols, probably born of long experience. Hey, entire worlds

are involved! Humans must have just witnessed part of that protocol. It seems we’ll have to

brush ourselves up a bit.

   Although the communications covered above have come off like whisperings behind the hand,

they were nonetheless in our face, the last one quite literally. Still, they didn’t exactly bang us

over the head with anything. Everything at the time seemed normal and natural enough if you

didn’t look too closely at them. But if you did look closely, what you basically found was just

what extraterrestrial intelligence can look like.

Thomas Hackney has been writing impactful, iconoclastic nonfiction for at least three decades. The consensus world generally does not appreciate this, so his revelations remain mostly under the radar.  He currently resides in southern Georgia (USA).