The year is 1899, and Nikola Tesla is checking the signals that the massive radio tower he’s built on the roof of his Colorado Springs laboratory, which also happen to be his house. He receives mysterious signals and decides that they’re from Mars. But others later claimed that the signals actually came from an enigmatic 13,000-year-old alien object orbiting the Earth.
Tesla, a Serbian-American engineer and electrics pioneer born in 1856, was obviously early on the alien scene. But the belief in and search for extra-terrestrial life became increasingly popular from around the middle of the 20th century. And a range of people from serious scientists to crank conspiracists have followed the pursuit.
In popular culture, the idea of alien life is inextricably linked with UFO sightings. Perhaps the most famous of those was what’s known as the Roswell Incident. That takes us back to a 1947 newspaper headline. The message emblazoned across the front page of the Roswell Daily Record on July 8 read, “RAAF Captures Flying Saucer on Ranch in Roswell Region.” The UFO had crash-landed at the ranch.