Take a look back at the alleged discovery of extra-terrestrial …
Updated: Wednesday, 09 Feb 2011, 11:17 AM MST
Published : Thursday, 04 Nov 2010, 10:51 PM MDT
CORONA, N.M. (KRQE) - You know the story: Aliens crash their spaceship near Roswell. The government secretly recovers the debris and a handful of dead E.T.s. Then the whole thing is covered up.
It's either the most important event in human history or one whopper of a tall tale.
But did it happen? Sorry Roswell, but there is no scientific proof a flying saucer ever plowed into the New Mexico prairie.
There are no GPS coordinates, photos, recordings, debris or, for that matter, little green men. Zilch. Nothing. Nada.
So it's going to take more than faded memories of a few old-timers to turn skeptics into believers. What the UFO community badly needs is scientific evidence. And that's where the University of New Mexico enters the picture.
"We engaged in a highly credible standard archeological investigation of a piece of landscape that has been warranted to be the location of a flying-saucer event," Dick Chapman, director of UNM's Office of Contract Archeology, said.
And how many previous research projects had Chapman and staff done related to UFOs and flying saucers?
"This was the only one," Chapman said.
You heard it right. UNM on the trail of Roswell's aliens.
"I thought, 'Wow, this is a real hoot. This is going to be interesting,'" retired UNM archeologist Bill Doleman said. "Believe me, if you go to Outer Mongolia and say Roswell, the response from people who don't speak a word of English will be 'UFO.'"
Doleman headed the UNM project featured in a TV documentary hosted by Bryant Gumbel on the cable Sci-Fi Channel.
"Archeologists from the University of New Mexico have returned to Roswell with a unique new mission: to use the tools of modern science to prove or disprove what some claim is science fiction," Gumbel narrates in the show before cutting to Doleman.
"We are digging holes in the ground to look for physical evidence of an extraterrestrial vessel impact," the scientist then says.
Armed with shovels, trowels and backhoes UNM dug up a nine-acre piece of prairie northwest of Roswell.
"The summed evidence from the hearsay-level knowledge really points to this spot as being a recognized potential crash site (of) a UFO," Chapman said recently.
UNM's excavation was funded entirely by the Sci-Fi Channel. TV executives paid UNM thousands of dollars to put the alien crash site under a microscope.
"We did not go out there looking to prove the existence of a UFO crash at that location in 1947," Doleman continued. "We went out there to look for evidence of the events that were reported to have happened."
UNM probed the prairie in 2002. In May 2010 the university published its final report producing a document steeped in controversy.
"I love science fiction, but that's not what the research division of a university should be putting out," Dave Thomas of New Mexicans for Science & Reason said. "Maybe UNM should consider changing the name of the College of Arts and Sciences to the College of Art and Science Fictions."
Thomas, a physicist at New Mexico Tech in Socorro, leads an organization that promotes the use of science in examining unusual claims.
"I think they did get sucked into what basically was a massive exercise in pseudoscience," he said.
The validity of UNM's alien dig is predicated on the assumption that a UFO really did crash, and where it ended up is absolutely critical. You see, if a flying saucer crashed over there, but UNM dug over here, then the entire exercise is pointless.
Doleman conceded the value of the excavation amounts to "not much" if the UNM team dug in the wrong place.
"Sci-Fi Channel really wanted to go dig at the Roswell crash site," Doleman said. "Question is, as you put it, where is it?"
The UNM crew, though, didn't choose the site.
"It was chosen for us (by the) Sci-Fi Channel," Doleman said.
UNM's dig location was chosen by two UFO believers Don Schmitt and Tom Carey who acted as technical advisors to the Sci-Fi Channel.
"Today they will take to the air in search of the final resting place of the ill fated spacecraft," Gumbel intones during the documentary.
Asked if he would rely on Don Schmitt to locate the site for an expensive scientific dig, Thomas said, "I sure wouldn't. No."
So how did Schmitt and Carey know a UFO crashed at that exact site? Well, they didn't, and neither did UNM."
"The digging was science," Doleman said. "The choosing of the location was not."
UNM's research even caught the attention of the governor. In a briefing, Doleman explained how UNM's archeologists discovered a gouge in the prairie.
"The exciting part of this was that, wow, we've got a stratigraphic anomaly right where there should be one," Doleman says in the Sci-Fi Channel documentary."
Yet disturbed earth doesn't sway Thomas.
"Just finding a furrow at this spot near Corona in no way proves that an alien spaceship crashed there in 1947," he said.
The Sci-Fi Channel paid UNM almost $26,000, and the excavation lasted two weeks. Bags of dirt and artifacts were recovered for laboratory analysis. But when
it was all over, UNM came up empty-handed finding no physical evidence of a UFO crash, Doleman said.
"I think they would have been wise just to say, 'We're not going to do it, find somebody else to do it, that's not what we do, pseudoscience for hire,'" Thomas said. "I think the only thing that would convince the UFO community that nothing happened in Roswell would be for aliens to land on the lawn of the White House and come out and say, 'Guys we had nothing to do with 1947. That wasn't us.'"
Still, Doleman isn't willing to give up on the aliens yet. He said the purported site needs further study.
According to the Air Force the 1947 crash, which has become know as the Roswell Incident, involved a balloon carrying scientific instruments. The flight was part of a secret government project to listen for Soviet nuclear tests, the Air Force maintains.
More online from KRQE.com: Roswell UFO timeline