In December 2017, The New York Times revealed the existence of a Pentagon program investigating unidentified flying objects. For many people, the continued existence of such a program on UFOs came as a surprise, though the military has historically been known to conduct such studies. Most notably, the Air Force’s Project Blue Book investigated more than 12,000 claimed UFO sightings between 1952 and 1969.
Kate Dorsch, a doctoral candidate in the department of History and Sociology of Science, has been researching UFO encounters reported in Project Blue Book. Her dissertation covers the first “flying saucer” report in 1947 through the release of Steven Spielberg’s film Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) and investigates the creation of scientific knowledge and how this knowledge is communicated to the public.