A Netherlands woman snapped a photo of what appears to be a real UFO, which was floating above the Muiderslot Castle, a moat-girdled fortress built in 1285.
The UFO was taken by Corinne Federer and her mother after taking a trip to the castle and standing near the edge of the glossy river Vetch. Fortunately, for the Internet, Federer took pictures.
When Federer later went through her photographs of the fortress, she spotted something odd, something hovering just above the cloud line: a UFO, in the classic saucer-shape, but with a single, decidedly un-aerodynamic S-shaped fin. Alien technology, for sure.
To no one’s surprise, the image — a silvery UFO caught suspended over the Netherlands’ marshy sprawl, admiring an earthly tourist attraction — went viral.
And how could it not have? UFO sightings are part of our earthly lexicon. For decades, the flying saucer has represented our shared wish to stare up at the skies and hope for something more, something probably cooler than ourselves — that, and our common suspicion of our governments and their secrets.
Nevertheless, the UFO is also suggestive of something else: our own biases.
The term UFO was coined in 1953, after the US Air Force decided it was time to standardize the term used to describe the disks seen floating through the sky, in what was then a relatively new phenomenon. One of the earliest sightings — as such reports came to be known — was the 1947 Maury Island incident, in which a seaman claimed to have seen six saucers in Puget Sound, as though interstellar travelers had nothing better to do in all the galaxies than investigate the woodsy, northwestern United States.
The UK was perhaps the first government to hop on the UFO trend, establishing the Flying Saucers Working Party in 1950 to investigate the growing crop of claims. It concluded in 2001 that all known cases of UFOs were hoaxes or mistakes.
Today, there are a wealth of organizations worldwide devoted to campaigning for the existence of UFOs, including a group of six former US legislators who in May held a panel in Washington. on putting an end to a global “truth embargo” on the existence of alien visitors.