We love a good mystery, and UFOs are magnificently mysterious! But are they real?

In this episode, Marc and Sanden take over the Brains On feed with a new episode of their radio show, Hoax Hunters. They’ll look into the myths and hoaxes surrounding UFOs (which stands for unidentified flying objects).

Plus, they’ll talk about what kinds of things often get mistaken for UFOs and how you can stay smart and skeptical when hearing shocking information. And of course, an episode about mystery will have an all-new Mystery Sound!

Read more about Val Johnson from MPR News.

And if you love Hoax Hunters, check out our Making Sense of Myths series!

Audio Transcript

Download transcript (PDF)

MOLLY: Hi, friends. This is a special episode of Brains On! We're tackling some eerie topics like aliens and UFOs. It's a little spooky. And if that's not your thing, feel free to skip. But we want to talk about this because we think there's a lot we can learn from these stories and how people react to them. We'll also have plenty of regular Brains On! stuff in the mix too. Now, on with the show.

JAVIER: You're listening to Brains On!, where we're serious about being curious.

CHILD: Brains On! Is supported in part by a grant from the National Science Foundation.

JAVIER: Molly, I'm pumped to co-host today. I love talking about UFOs. They're so cool and mysterious.

MOLLY: I'm glad Javier. But personally, I think it's all hype.

JAVIER: Yeah, but UFO stories are so fun. Like this one I heard--


--a bunch of people in a remote town saw a giant blue light appear on a desolate mountaintop. It made strange noises like beeps and clicks. They tried to reach it, but it vanished.

MOLLY: Uh, probably just a hiker with a bright headlamp who stopped to play a game on their smartphone before heading down the other side of the mountain.

JAVIER: Or this other time--


--a pilot saw a silver disk floating in the distance. But when the pilot approached it, the disk took off.

MOLLY: A lost birthday balloon that got picked up by a breeze and blew away.

JAVIER: Or that strange sound that came from a cloud.

MOLLY: Bird.

JAVIER: Or a swooping object that--

MOLLY: Bird.

JAVIER: A creature that dropped a mysterious white goo.

MOLLY: Bird.

JAVIER: Actually, yeah. That last one does sound like bird business. Well, I still like the stories.

MOLLY: Wait, Javier, did you eat the rest of the chips? I swear they were here just a second ago.

JAVIER: Wasn't me.

MOLLY: It must have been chip gnomes, or Sasquatch, or chip gnomes working with Sasquatch. Yeah, old Sassy busted open the window so the gnomes could sneak the chips right out from under our noses.

JAVIER: Or Marc and Sanden took them.

MOLLY: I don't know.

MARC: Thanks for letting us borrow your chips that we definitely just took, Molly.

SANDEN: Yeah. We promise not to give them back. Bye!

MOLLY: Truth is out there. And so are my chips! Get back here, you two!


You're listening to Brains On! from APM Studios. I'm Molly Bloom, and my co-host today is Javier from Rosemont, Minnesota. UF-Hello, Javier.

JAVIER: I come in peace, Molly.

MOLLY: Today, we're answering an out-of-this-world question.

ALEX: My name is Alex. I live in Swindon, England. My question is, do UFOs exist.

MOLLY: Javier, when you hear the word UFO, what do you picture?

JAVIER: I picture like a disc or like the movie like ET. Yeah.

MOLLY: Can you tell people about the movie ET in case they haven't seen it.

JAVIER: An alien named ET befriends a boy named Elliott. Elliott protects him from people who are trying to hunt him and do experiments on him. So Elliott helps him get back home. And in the end, he does.

MOLLY: Very nice. Is there a spaceship in it?

JAVIER: Yeah. Yeah.

MOLLY: What does the spaceship in ET look like?

JAVIER: It's like-- it's kind of like a-- in the bottom section, it's like a bulbed kind of thing like that. And then another smaller bulb on top of it. And then just the pointy end, and the door just comes off.

MOLLY: OK. So ET stands for extraterrestrial, which is another word for aliens. And so they fly in a cool spaceship. So are there other refers you think about? So it sounds like you thought about a disc. Are there other things that come to mind when you think UFO?

JAVIER: Um, I guess aliens that are, like, green. They have the big head.

MOLLY: Mm-hmm.

JAVIER: That's what I think.

MOLLY: Totally. Well, UFO stands for Unidentified Flying Object.

JAVIER: That doesn't necessarily mean aliens. An unidentified flying object could be something totally normal that we just didn't recognize.

MOLLY: Like a shooting star blazing across the sky or a suspicious plastic bag in the wind.

JAVIER: Or it could be a human-made object that we're just not used to seeing.

MOLLY: Like a new type of plane that is still being tested or a scientific weather balloon.

JAVIER: So a UFO just means something in the sky that we can't identify.

MOLLY: But it's common for people to think of aliens when they hear UFO. Javier, have you ever seen anything you can't explain, UFO or otherwise?

JAVIER: Nothing weird or bananas.

MOLLY: And do you like thinking about UFOs and aliens? Is that fun, or does it kind of creep you out?

JAVIER: I think it's cool to think about Earth as just a big rock in a galaxy, and then space has tons of galaxies where they could have stars and planets. So it's cool to think of how tiny we are compared to everything.

MOLLY: Totally. Big question-- do you think aliens exist?

JAVIER: Um, again, like, the huge universe. There could-- there's probably going to be one. If you think about the Drake equation. Probably-- do you know what it is?

MOLLY: I don't. Please tell me.

JAVIER: The Drake equation, I think, is taking-- because there's like 200 billion trillion stars. So you have the Drake equation is taking all of that and considering the possibility of those stars having planets. Because if you think about it, the sun is a star, so they could have planets, solar systems. So that's what the Drake equation is.

MOLLY: Very cool. That's a great explanation. So there's so many planets out there. So you're like, the chances of there being other living things is pretty good.

JAVIER: Mm-hmm.

MOLLY: So why do you think they haven't come to visit here on Earth yet?

JAVIER: Maybe because they don't think we're advanced enough.


JAVIER: And they-- I don't know, maybe they think it's like we're-- don't take any offense, but they probably think we're like big monkeys.


MOLLY: They're like, eh, it's kind of smelly down there.

JAVIER: Yeah. No.

MOLLY: We're good. It's also those stars are so far away.


MOLLY: So the ability to be able to travel to another solar system would take some pretty advanced technology. So maybe no one's figured it out yet.


MOLLY: Very interesting. Well, if aliens did land on Earth, I know our listeners would be stellar ambassadors.

JAVIER: Yeah. We asked you what you would show an alien if they landed here on Earth, and your ideas were out of this world.


EDWARD: Hello my name is Edward. I will take an alien visitor to the Atacama Desert in Chile, South America. And then, I will take it to Easter Island.

KAYLEE: Hi, my name is Kaylee, and I think I would take aliens to our trampoline park near us. Because it's really fun, and I think aliens would like it.

ISHAN: My name is Ishan, and if I were to take a group of alien visitors somewhere, I would take them to the museum because then they would learn everything over there.

AVA: Hi, I'm Ava.

HANNA: And I'm Hanna.

BOTH: Live in Lucknow, India. If aliens came to our door--

AVA: I would take them to the Taj Mahal in Agra.

HANNA: And I would take them to the thinkery in Austin, Texas.

NOAH: Hi, my name is Noah from New South Wales, Australia. And if I could take an alien anywhere, it would be a sports game.

JOANNA: Hi, my name is Joanna. And if I had aliens at my house, I would show them my beautiful unicorn bedsheets and my toys.

CALVIN: Hi, I'm Calvin from South Portland, Maine. And if aliens came to Earth and landed at my front door, I would bring them to an organic farm.

ROXY: I'm Roxy. I would take an alien to my grammy's house.

MOLLY: Thank you so much for sending in those ideas. And keep listening to the end of the episode where we're going to play more awesome listener responses. So I think I would take the aliens to a really cool hike. You know, see some beautiful nature, a waterfall, that kind of thing. How about you, Javier? What would you take the aliens to see?

JAVIER: I would show them the video game Fortnite. And then, the food I'd show them is pizza. And then, the music I would show them is "What a Wonderful World."

MOLLY: Oh, I love that song.

JAVIER: Yeah. And then, I'd show them the National Park Yellowstone.

MOLLY: Those are some really good things. What if they didn't like pizza?

JAVIER: Um, I'd tell them to get off this planet.


MOLLY: You got to love pizza. Everyone loves pizza. Come on, aliens. Get with it.

Let's get back to the question we're answering today. Are unidentified flying objects real? Turns out there are lots of things in the sky we can't identify. But that doesn't mean they're aliens. Let's start by--


--the name for--

MARC: Test. Test. OK, Sanden, I think we're live.

SANDEN: Amazer beams. Nice work, Marc. We're coming in loud and clear now. Should I still push this button?

MARC: No, don't.


MOLLY: What was that? Did our show just cut out for a second there?

JAVIER: Yeah, it was almost like someone was playing a different show over ours.

MOLLY: Hold on, it looks like the signal is coming from the basement.

JAVIER: Huh. Let's go see what it is before it--


--takes over the show again.

MARC: OK, I fixed it. Just don't press any more buttons, Sanden.

SANDEN: But Marc, if I wasn't supposed to press them, then why are they so pressable?

MARC: Let's just get started.

SANDEN: OK. Hey, I'm Sanden the skeptic.

MARC: And I'm Make-me-believe Marc.

SANDEN: We're here to look into the weird, wild, and wonderful world of myths legends and hoaxes.


We like myths, but we hate getting tricked yeah.

We like myths, but we hate getting tricked.

All right.

We like myths, but we hate getting tricked.

We hate getting tricked.

No, we don't like it.

MARC: That's right, this is Hoax Hunters--

SANDEN: The show where we look at outrageous stories and try to figure out what's real and what's baloney.

MARC: Yeah. We love a wild tale, but we hate getting duped.

SANDEN: Marc and I did a few episodes of Hoax Hunters during the Brains On! Myths series.

MARC: And we were in the crystals episode too.

SANDEN: Oh, yeah! I love that one.

That's a crystal!

SANDEN: Today, we're taking a special look at UFOs with our USBs.

MARC: That last one stands for Unflappable Skeptical Brains.

SANDEN: Unflappable high-five, Marc.


OK. Serious vibes now. Marc, how do you feel about unidentified flying objects?

MARC: Well, once I saw a weird light out in the sky in the desert. It probably wasn't aliens, but I kind of want to believe, you know?

SANDEN: Yeah. Personally, I don't think aliens have ever visited Earth full stop. Anyway, let's start with a story. This one comes from my very own Great Aunt [? Birgit. ?]

MARC: Sweetest lady you ever met. Made a mean apple pie.

SANDEN: She was a retired schoolteacher, a devoted churchgoer, and never fibbed. So I was shocked when she told me about the time she saw a UFO.


It was way back in the late 1970s--

MARC: When disco was king, color TV was common, and the internet as we know it hadn't been born yet. In fact, few people even had computers at home.

SANDEN: Right. Aunt [? Birgit ?] was driving at night, cruising through the empty, dark roads of Northern Minnesota. She remembers being a little tired but focused. In Minnesota, deer can jump out of nowhere. Your eyes have to stay glued on the road.

So she noticed it right away-- a big ball of light. It came up next to her car. There were no wheels, no driver, just a super bright glowing something riding right next to her as if it were looking in, watching her. Then, her car lost power and she rolled slowly to a halt. Suddenly, the light took off.

MARC: A close encounter of some kind.

SANDEN: [? Birgit ?] swore it was true, but I didn't believe her until I came across a very similar story.

MARC: It's from a man named Val Johnson. He was a police officer who worked in the very same area [? Birgit ?] was driving in that night. He was also driving his car in the late '70s late at night--

SANDEN: Sound familiar?

MARC: --when something caught his eye. Here's how he described it in an interview with Minnesota Public Radio a few years ago.

VAL: Saw this very bright light off in the distance. Thought it could be a semi with engine trouble or an aircraft that had difficulty and had landed on that straight stretch of road. So I went to investigate. And after I had accelerated towards its location, the light came up and joined me in the car. And I-- it hit me like a 200-pound pillow in the face.

MARC: Val woke up a half an hour later. His car was in the ditch. Its windshield and a headlight were both smashed in. The car's antennas were bent back. And the weirdest thing? Both his watch and his car's clock were running 14 minutes slow.

SANDEN: 14 minutes slow? 14 minutes, people1 What does it mean? Uh, Marc, what does it mean?

MARC: No one knows. Val Johnson reported it. People came to study the car. No one could figure it out. So some people jumped straight to one idea, and it starts with an and ends with "liens."

SANDEN: A football team from New Orleans. I think they're called the Saints actually.

MARC: Ugh, no. Sanden, a-liens. Aliens!

SANDEN: Oh, that makes more sense they'd think that. Yeah. Why would the Saints be in Northern Minnesota anyways? I mean, there's not even an NFL stadium there, right?

MARC: And Val himself won't say it was aliens. Here he is again.

VAL: There was a lot of discussion, and conjecture, and ideas that were put forth. And that's fine. Everyone is entitled to their opinions. But I really have no definitive answer as to what truly happened out there. A lot of people are attributing this to some sort of UFO account. I don't know. I really, really don't know what happened.

SANDEN: Marc and I always want to make sure that the stories we're hearing are legit.

MARC: Because, again, love myths, hate getting tricked.

SANDEN: Exactly. That's the whole point of Hoax Hunters. Here's why we believe this story from Val Johnson. First, we searched online. You can do this too. Just pause the episode and search Val Johnson UFO. It helps if you search under a news tab if there is one.

MARC: Take a look at the news organizations who wrote the articles you're finding. Do you see names like the Star Tribune, Pioneer Press, CBS News, and Minnesota Public Radio?

SANDEN: Just so you know, Brains On! is part of the same company as Minnesota Public Radio.

MARC: Right. These all have long histories of accurate reporting and lots of reporters and editors to make sure they get the story right.

SANDEN: Plus, in lots of the news articles, you can see original photos taken of Val's car, not just the same picture used over and over. Here's why this is all good evidence.

MARC: One, multiple sources are saying the same thing, but they're not all just copying each other. They're doing their own original reporting. That means lots of people looked into this and learned the same thing.

SANDEN: Two, these sources all have a long history of covering news. They've been doing this for decades, which means that people have trusted their work and supported them for a long time.

MARC: Three, there are reports from lots of different years. That tells us people have looked into this story over and over again and still come to the same conclusion. New information hasn't come out calling it a hoax, though that could still happen one day.

SANDEN: And finally, none of these sources claim to know what hit Val Johnson's car, just that something happened late at night in the late 1970s. That tells us these are reporters who aren't jumping to conclusions they can't back up with evidence. They're sticking to what they can prove.

MARC: There are lots of sources out there that aren't worth trusting, like UFO stories written on personal websites or blogs written by just one person. It's hard to prove it if it's just one person's story. And if a source jumps to big claims with very little solid evidence, that's a red flag.

SANDEN: So, bottom line, Val Johnson's story is believable and easy to double-check yourself. I mean, it's not like we're exposing some deep secret history.

MARC: Right. No government agents are about to knock on our door saying, "You've said too much."


Oh no, I have said too much.

MOLLY: Sanden? Marc? What's going on here?

JAVIER: We were doing our episode, and you two kept coming in over our speakers.

SANDEN: Oh, fiddle sticks!

MARC: Sanden, which buttons did you press before we started taping?

SANDEN: Uh, only all of them.

MARC: Sorry, Molly and Javier. Sanden and I were just taping our latest episode of Hoax Hunters all about UFOs.

MOLLY: Oh yeah, Hoax Hunters is the show you two do about the weird, wild, and wonderful world of myths, legends, and hoaxes.

MARC: Exactly. We were taping when someone--

SANDEN: He means me.

MARC: --hit the button to override any other podcasts in the building. I'll turn it off.

JAVIER: Actually, this is perfect. We're also doing an episode about UFOs. Mind if we crash yours? I love the vibe down here. Old Christmas lights and black light posters-- very cool.

SANDEN: Sure. A fellow blacklight poster enthusiast? The more the merrier.

MOLLY: Speaking of chips, there they are!

MARC: Molly, no one said chip--

MOLLY: Return to me my crispy children.

SANDEN: Oh, yeah. [LAUGHS] Thanks for letting us borrow those, Molly.

MOLLY: Chips, how I miss you.


That sound is music to my mouth. Oh, and speaking of sounds, I almost forgot. Javier, we still have to do the--


CHILD (WHISPERING): Mystery sound.

MOLLY: Are you ready?


MOLLY: All right, here it is.


What's your guess?

JAVIER: Maybe someone like walking across a pond in winter and the ice is breaking?

MOLLY: That is a great guess. I don't know what it is either. I am stumped. Let's hear it again.



MOLLY: OK, what do you think? Same guess, new thoughts?

JAVIER: I think it's the same thing still.

MOLLY: Yeah, that's-- I mean, as I was listening, thinking of what you said, I was like, I think he's 100% correct. I mean, the wind blowing, the cracking sound. OK. Well, we're going to hear it again, guess again, and then hear the answer after the credits. We'll be back--


We'll be--



SANDEN: Well, this is our studio and our show. So we should get to say it, don't you think?

MOLLY: Oh, sure. By all means.

MARC: We'll be back with the answers at the end of the show.

SANDEN: And stick around, because, coming up, we're going to hear about the first major UFO sighting reported in the US.

MARC: And we'll use our skeptical brains to think about what might really be going on. And the answer probably isn't aliens.


MOLLY: We're cooking up an episode about expiration dates, those little warnings you see on food packaging that tell you whether food is fresh or not. But how seriously should we take these dates, and who comes up with them in the first place? We thought it'd be handy if our food could just tell us when it's gone bad, so we want you to come up with an alarm sound for rotten food. Maybe nibbles in your fridge go-- whoa, whoa smell me at your own risk. Or old slimy beans say, I've "bean" better. Javier, what do you think food should say when it's spoiled?

JAVIER: I was wondering if there could be a sound effect that could be like a moldy cucumber and like a foghorn.

MOLLY: Ooh, let me hear your impersonation of a foghorn.


MOLLY: Oh, I love--

JAVIER: It needs work, that's for sure.

MOLLY: (LAUGHING) I love it. I like that. Yeah, that would tell me not to eat that cucumber. Because, OK, here's the thing about cucumbers when they've gone bad-- and I don't know if you've had this experience, but we have a lot of cucumbers in our fridge. And when they go bad, they look OK. And then you pick them up, and they're so squishy.

JAVIER: I know.

MOLLY: Oh, it's so gross. So yes, I could definitely use that foghorn. Well, listeners, record your alarm sounds for rotten food and send them to us at brainson.org. While you're there, you can send us mystery sounds, drawings, and questions.

JAVIER: Like this one.

CHILD: Can a moon have a moon?

MOLLY: Again, that's brainson.org/contact.

JAVIER: And keep listening.

(SINGING) Ba, ba, ba, ba, ba, ba, ba, ba, ba, ba, ba, Brains On!

MARC: Welcome back to Hoax Hunters, I'm Marc.

SANDEN: And I'm Sanden.

JAVIER: Hey, I'm Javier, and Molly's here too.

MOLLY: Don't mind me. You do your show while I catch up with this bowl of chips. So, how you been? Seeing any new dips lately?


MARC: Before the break, we were talking about the mysterious case of Val Johnson and his claim that a big, bright light hit his car.

SANDEN: That bright light qualifies as an unidentified flying object. It's something flying, and we don't know what it was.

JAVIER: Hey, so that answers the question. UFOs do exist.

SANDEN: Yeah. In fact, even the US government will admit that. They actually put out a whole report on it a few years ago. More on that in a bit.

MARC: But that doesn't mean an unidentified flying object is an alien.

JAVIER: Right. It just means someone saw something and we don't know what it is.

MARC: The very first big case of this in the US, the one that kicked off the interest in flying saucers, happened less than 100 years ago. The year was 1947.


SANDEN: Things weren't that different from today. They had cars and electricity. Some households even had a small TV. But all the pictures were black and white. This was long before the internet though.

MARC: So in 1947, a guy named Kenneth Arnold was flying his own plane in Washington state not too far from a really big mountain called Mount Rainier.


It was around 3:00 in the afternoon when he saw a flash of light in the distance. He thought it might be a military plane, so he tried to get a better look. Soon, he saw more flashes of light.

SANDEN: Kenneth counted nine round flying objects. He tried to track them. And by his best guess, they were going over 1,000 miles an hour. That's way faster than any known planes at the time. He said these objects kind of bobbed and weaved like they were connected by a string. To reporters at the time, his exact words were, "Like the tail of a Chinese kite." Reporters called these objects flying saucers, and the name stuck.

MARC: Soon, more reports came in from around the country of people seeing similar things. This launched the UFO phenomenon as we know it.


JAVIER: That's a neat bit of history.

SANDEN: Since then, there have been all sorts of strange stories, some easy to explain and others a little harder.

MARC: Like a supposed alien spaceship that crashed-landed around Roswell, New Mexico.

JAVIER: Oh, I've heard of Roswell. A farmer said he found a crashed ship full of weird materials and designs.

MARC: It was weird, but it wasn't aliens. The government eventually admitted it was a top-secret balloon project. Balloons were used a lot back then for experimental research. That might have been why so many people thought they saw flying saucers.

SANDEN: And then, there are stories about people being abducted by aliens!

MOLLY: That's when someone says an alien brought them up into their ship, right? Like, with a beam of light or something?

MARC: Yep. But it's super hard to prove whether any of these actually happen because it's just one person's story, and anyone can make up a story. No hard, real evidence.

SANDEN: Yeah, so lots of stories. But so far, no solid proof of aliens.

MARC: Then, in 2022, the US government released a report with all the evidence gathered over the years about weird flying thingies. The government started calling them UAPs or Unidentified Aerial Phenomena.

JAVIER: Hmm, UAP isn't quite as catchy as UFO if you ask me.

SANDEN: Agreed. The report included military videos. These are real, and you can look them up online yourself. In one, you see this grainy footage of a seed-like shape just hovering in the air.

PILOT: There's a whole fleet of them. Look on my SA. They're all going against the wind. The wind is 120 knots from the west.

PILOT 2: Look at that thing, dude.

MARC: In case you didn't catch, that those were two pilots saying, they're going against the wind. The wind is 120 knots to the west. Look at that thing, dude. Some of the things in the government report were easily debunked. Others might have been weird camera effects or a rare weather phenomena. Or they might have even been new types of planes that other governments were testing out secretly.

SANDEN: But plenty of them remained a mystery. The government was basically like shruggy emoji. Who knows? But the government didn't jump to the idea that it was aliens.

MOLLY: Right. You would need solid evidence to make a big claim like that, especially when there are so many other possibilities.

SANDEN: Exactly. So Javier, I heard you want to be a pilot, right? What would you do if you saw something weird in the skies?

JAVIER: I would reach for my camera, maybe take a video of it, and chase it, and alert my squadron members if I have any.

SANDEN: I like it. That's a good idea. OK. Well, a lot of people, both those who believe in aliens and those who don't, want pilots to feel OK talking about the weird stuff they see.

MARC: Yeah. Because for a long time, if a pilot said they saw a UFO or UAP, they wouldn't be taken seriously. People might say they were claiming to have seen aliens, when all they really saw was something they couldn't explain.

JAVIER: Kind of like that Val Johnson guy you mentioned. Some people thought he was hit by aliens, but he just said there was a big light and something happened. He didn't know what.

SANDEN: Exactly, Javier. So we should be more comfortable with the idea that people sometimes experience things we can't explain.

JAVIER: And maybe someday someone will come up with an explanation that will help it make sense.

MOLLY: Yeah, like that Val Johnson story. It kind of sounds like ball lightning to me.

JAVIER: Ball lightning?

MOLLY: Yeah. We talked about it in our lightning episode. It's lightning shaped like a glowing orb that can hover or move around. It's super rare, and we don't fully understand it, but we know enough to say it's real and can do strange things.


SANDEN: Huh, yeah. You know, one thing I always thought about Aunt [? Birgit's ?] story, she would never lie, but maybe she didn't really remember what happened that night.

MARC: Aunt [? Birgit? ?] What do you mean?

SANDEN: Well, when she told me this story, it had been decades since she claimed it happened. There's this phenomenon in psychology called a false memory. It's when sometimes you can remember something that didn't happen at all, or maybe you misremember something that did happen. Maybe my Aunt [? Birgit ?] heard this story about Val Johnson and later she forgot where she heard it. Then, when she remembered it, she thought it happened to her.

JAVIER: Huh. That seems like it could be true. So does the ball lightning thing.

MARC: Precisely! This is the kind of skeptical thinking that Hoax Hunters is here for.

SANDEN: Molly, Javier, excellent work! You two deserve to be honorary Hoax Hunters. Way to go!

JAVIER: Thanks, I'm super honored.

MOLLY: Well, this has been Cool. Thank you, Marc and Sanden. Now, if you don't mind, I really need to go drink some water. Those chips were salty, and I ate so. So, so many.

JAVIER: Yeah. Thanks, Hoax Hunters. Later.

MARC: No problem! Remember, stay curious--

SANDEN: And skeptical.



JAVIER: A UFO or UAP is just something that was spotted in the air and no one is quite sure what it is. The first major UFO sighting happened in 1947.

MOLLY: There have been lots of UFOs and UAPs spotted since then. Some have turned out to be hoaxes or government projects. Others remain a mystery.

JAVIER: One good way to see if something is worth taking seriously is to check what trustworthy news organizations have to say.

MOLLY: A trustworthy news organization is one that does its own reporting, has a history of getting stories right, and looks for solid evidence to back up its claims. That's it for this episode of Brains On! And make sure to stick around until after the credits to hear more listener ideas about where to take visiting aliens.

JAVIER: This episode was produced by Molly Bloom, Rosie DuPont, and Anna Goldfield, Aron Woldeslassie, Anna Weggle, Nico Gonzalez Wisler, Ruby Guthrie, and Marc Sanchez.

MOLLY: Our editors are Sanden Totten and Shahla Farzan. This episode was sound designed by Rachel Brees. Beth Perlman is our executive producer. We had engineering help from Josh Savageau. The executives in charge of APM Studios are Chandra Kavait and Joanne Griffith. Special Thanks to John Enger, [? Adrian ?] [? Laffitte, ?] [? Erin ?] Anderson [? Laffitte, ?] Mathias and Tomas.

JAVIER: Brains On! Is a non-profit public radio program.

MOLLY: There are lots of ways to support the show. Subscribe to Brains On! universe on YouTube where you can watch animated versions of some of your favorite episodes. Or head to brainson.org where you can send us mystery sounds, drawings, and questions.

OK, Javier, are you ready to listen to that mystery sound again?


MOLLY: Wonderful! Here it is.


OK. Any new thoughts? Sticking with your answer? I have no idea what it is, so don't let me sway you in any way.

JAVIER: Yeah, I think I'm going to stick with my answer.

MOLLY: Wonderful. I'm going to guess squirrels breaking a glass by mistake and then cleaning it up.

JAVIER: Yes, I like that.

MOLLY: OK. All right. Well, let's see what the answer is.

EZRA: Hi, my name is Ezra, and I'm from Rolesville, North Carolina. And that was the sound of my dad knocking icicles off the roof.

MOLLY: OK. You were so close.

JAVIER: Yeah, it wasn't breaking ice on a pond. It was the icicles.

MOLLY: So close, but you recognize that ice sound.

JAVIER: Yeah, there was an icy sound to it.

MOLLY: Very, very good. My squirrel guess, not as accurate.


MOLLY: Nice work.


OK. Here are some more excellent ideas from our listeners about what they think the aliens should see here on Earth.

CHILD: I would take a group of alien visitors to a museum with dinosaur bones so they could learn about ancient things.

ELLIOTT: My name is Elliott. I would take them to my gymnastics class.

LEO: Hi, my name's Leo, and I would send the aliens to the ballet show.

ANYA: Hi, I'm Anya. I live in Germany. And if I would see a group of aliens and they would ask me to show them planet Earth, I would take them to my grandpa who lives in Augsburg. Augsburg is a city in Western Bavaria. And I would do that because my grandpa does city tours. And so, then they can get showed around in the city Augsburg.

CHILD: I see aliens come to Earth, I would take them to the campsite. And I would, like, show them how to be kind to animals.

DASHIELL: My name is Dashiell. And where I would take aliens if they ever visited is the zoo.

BENJI: Hi, my name is Benji, and I would take them to the airport to see the cool airplanes.

RALEY: My name is Raley, and I live in Okinawa, Japan. And if aliens showed up at my front door, I would take them to the library to read all my favorite books.

LUKA: My name is Luka. If an alien showed up at my house in Pittsboro, North Carolina, I would teach them how to ride a bike.

IZZY: Hi, my name is Izzy, and I'm from California. And this is where I would take my aliens if they came to planet Earth-- to my school so they could see my friends.

SID: My name is Sid, and I am from Philadelphia. And I would take them to the Bahamas to go to the pirate museum and get them treasure at the gift shop.

CHILD: I would take the aliens on a roller coaster.

MOLLY: Thank you so much for those excellent ideas. Now, it's time for the Brains Honor Roll. These are the incredible kids who keep the show going with their questions, ideas, mystery sounds, drawings, and high fives.


We'll be back next week with an episode all about the solar eclipse that's happening on April 8, 2024.

JAVIER: Thanks for listening!

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