The United Kingdom Is Releasing Nearly 60 Years of UFO Reports Online

ursatii, iStock via Getty Images
ursatii, iStock via Getty Images

No one country has a monopoly on UFO reports. Sometime between the Roswell incident of 1947 and Canada's Falcon Lake sighting in 1967, the United Kingdom's government started collecting official "X-files" of its own. Now, Live Science reports, the country's Ministry of Defence will share those formerly classified documents with the public for the first time.

UFO-mania had invaded the UK by the early 1950s. The British media began covering supposed extraterrestrial phenomenon with a more serious tone, and books with titles like The Riddle of the Flying Saucers and The Flying Saucers are Real were excerpted in major newspapers. Even Winston Churchill was intrigued, writing to his air minister in 1952, "What does all this stuff about flying saucers amount to? What can it mean? What is the truth?"

The Ministry of Defence formed the "Flying Saucer Working Party" to process the flood of new reports coming in around this time. Though the original group concluded that none of the sightings were credible, various departments of the Ministry continued investigating reports of strange objects seen in the sky through 2009, when a policy change ended the program officially.

All the files from that near-60-year period will be released on their own gov.uk webpage some time in 2020. The announcement was made after a British news agency made a request for the documents under the Freedom of Information Act. Select files from this period had previously been made available through the U.K. National Archives website. Now, instead of choosing certain items to share, the UK government has decided to publish all the documents at once.

Reports that have already been made public include sightings of "a diamond-shaped red light," "15 fireballs in the sky," and "three blazing gold orbs." [PDF]

The Ministry of Defence stated it "has no opinion on the existence or otherwise of extra terrestrial life," but the public will be able to decide for themselves when more documents are shared later this year.

[h/t Live Science]

23 Weird Laws You Might Have Broken

Mental Floss editor-in-chief Erin McCarthy hosts "The List Show."
Mental Floss editor-in-chief Erin McCarthy hosts "The List Show."
Mental Floss via YouTube

If you've ever played a game of bingo in North Carolina, you may have been a party to a crime without even knowing it. And if you've ever eavesdropped on a neighbor in Oklahoma and shared any of that juicy gossip, you might just want to go ahead and turn yourself into the police.

From coast to coast, America is full of bizarre laws that you've probably broken at one time or another. Join Mental Floss editor-in-chief Erin McCarthy as she digs into the history of 23 of the strangest of them—like why you can't eat fried chicken with a knife and fork in Gainesville, Georgia. You can watch the full episode below.

For more episodes like this one, be sure to subscribe here!

When “Weird Al” Yankovic Asked Kurt Cobain for Permission to Parody "Smells Like Teen Spirit"

Erik Voake/Stringer/Getty Images
Erik Voake/Stringer/Getty Images

"Weird Al" Yankovic has gotten plenty of rejections throughout his career. Prince, Jimmy Page, and Paul McCartney have all denied the musical comedian the right to turn one of their hit songs into an irreverent parody. Even so, Weird Al was hesitant to ask for Kurt Cobain's permission to skewer the Nirvana chart-topper "Smells Like Teen Spirit" in the early 1990s.

“I was very nervous, and I didn’t know how he would take my requesting the parody," Yankovic told Loudwire in 2014. The phone call would have been especially nerve-wracking because he wasn't planning to write a spoof that was divorced from the original artist, as was the case with previous hits like "Eat It" and "Like a Surgeon." His parody "Smells Like Nirvana" was going to make fun of the fact that no one could understand Cobain's incoherent singing.

But, as Yankovic recounted decades later, he had no reason to worry. "I explained it’s about how nobody could understand his lyrics. There was probably half a beat on the phone, and he said, ‘Yeah, yeah, sounds like a funny idea.’”

Cobain would have been sympathetic to Yankovic's sense of humor. The Nirvana frontman had a reputation for being a serial prankster, pulling stunts like taping an upside down cross onto the drive-through window of his favorite fried chicken place. Other stories tied to the band's antics involved lighting tour bus curtains on fire, giving out a friend's phone numbers in a live interview, and inviting the audience on stage to escape security.

"Smells Like Nirvana" debuted in 1992 and it was an instant success. It topped the Billboard charts and earned a platinum record, and Yankovic credited the track for revitalizing his career after a brief slump. You can watch Weird Al channeling Cobain in the music video below.

[h/t Loudwire]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER