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The Flying Saucer Phenomenon: Its History and Sociology

Dr. Mark Hammergren, Astronomer at the Adler Planetarium, will speak on the topic The Flying Saucer Phenomenon: Its History and Sociology.  Since 1947, many thousands of people have reported seeing strange objects in the sky, or even what they describe as extraterrestrial beings. Despite all these reports and more than a decade of study by scientists and the government, there remains no hard, physical evidence supporting these reports of "UFOs."  In this talk, Dr. Hammergren will relate how the first flying saucers were not saucers; little green men weren't green; and the current view of the "Roswell Incident" is a result of poor journalism both past and present.  He will also explain why a modern astronomer is interested in this history.

Dr. Hammergren is Astronomer and Science Communicator at the Adler Planetarium. He graduated with two Bachelor’s degrees in Physics and Astronomy from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and received his Masters and PhD degrees in Astronomy from the University of Washington in Seattle.  He was a postdoctoral research associate at the Institute for Geophysics and Planetary Physics at Lawrence Livermore National. Currently, he is also Director of the Adler’s Astro-Science Workshop, a challenging astronomy program for high school students founded in 1964.  In 2009, Mark successfully hunted for meteorites in the Nubian Desert in Sudan, recovering fragments from a recently impacted asteroid.