UFO is an acronym for Unidentified Flying Object. Any airborne vehicle or phenomenon that cannot be accounted for by qualified, experienced investigators using modern, accepted equipment and methods is classified as a UFO. Although UFO's are often attributed to extraterrestrial life or technology, no conclusive evidence of extraterrestrial origin has ever been made public. In fact, very little evidence even suggesting extraterrestrial involvement has ever been recovered, other than eye-witness accounts of unusual acceleration and maneuverability not possible by current human technology. Despite the lack of evidence, many people choose to attribute any unexplained celestial circumstance as the work of extraterrestrial intelligence.
The term UFO was coined in 1952 as part of Project Blue Book's attempt to categorize and investigate a surge in sightings of unusual, unidentified objects flying across North American skies in the late 1940's. Although the term UFO was meant to disassociate the phenomenon with the vagueness of the previous terms ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œflying saucerÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â and ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œflying disk,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â the coinage of an official acronym only increased the ambiguity. After 18 years of research Project Blue Book was abruptly deemed unnecessary and disbanded, having only come to the conclusion that no unidentified flying object had ever displayed a threat to American national security, and that no such object exhibited behavior indicative of extraterrestrial origin. The sudden abandonment of the project and the absolute conclusions made public led many to believe that the real conclusions were kept secret. Since then, UFO legends have become an integral part of modern culture, with UFO's being a recurring theme in movies, stories, and other forms of entertainment. The scientific study of UFO's has largely become blurred with spiritual and fantastic interest in unexplained phenomenon in general.
In August 2006 the United Kingdom's Ministry of Defense had released the first declassified government reports of UFO sightings. Released in five separate PDF documents, the publications detail the dates, locations, and a brief description of all unexplained or unusual aerial activity. However, no official conclusions are drawn from the data and no references are given. In March 2007 CNES, the French space agency, had published similar documents regarding UFO reports in France dating to the mid-1950's. More detailed and conclusive than the British documents, the French disclosure had generated so much interest that traffic to the Internet website of the French space agency had exceeded the webserver's capacity within hours of the statement.
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