Peter A Sturrock
Born: March 20, 1924. Peter Sturrock studied mathematics at Cambridge University (with an interruption for radar research from 1944 until 1947) and was awarded the University Rayleigh Prize in 1949, a Ph.D. in 1951, and a Prize Fellowship at St John's College in 1952. After research at the National Bureau of Standards, the University of Paris, the Cavendish Laboratory, and the Atomic Energy Research Establishment, Sturrock went to Stanford University in 1955. After research at CERN, the European Center for Nuclear Research (1957-58), he returned to Stanford and was appointed professor in 1961. He was Professor of Applied Physics from 1961 until 1998, and is now Emeritus Professor of Applied Physics and of Physics. He served as Director of the Center for Space Science and Astrophysics from 1992 until 1998, and as President of the Society for Scientific Exploration from 1981 until 2001. He has also served as Chairman of the Plasma Physics Division of the American Astronomical Society, as Chairman of the Solar Physics Division of the American Astronomical Society. His research interests have included electron physics, particle accelerators, plasma physics, solar physics, astrophysics, and scientific inference. He has received the annual prize of the Gravity Foundation (1967), the Hale Prize of the American Astronomical Society (1986), the Arctowski Medal of the National Academy of Sciences (1990), and the Space Science Award of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (1992)
Sturrock was curious what the general attitudes of the members of the AIAA might be and in 1973 surveyed the San Francisco branch of the AIAA, with 423 out of 1175 members responding. Opinions were widespread as to whether UFOs were a scientifically significant problem. Most seemed unsure or neutral on the question. Sturrock was also curious as to whether fellow scientists like the AIAA members ever reported seeing UFOs, i.e., anomalous aerial phenomena that they couldn’t identify. The survey indicated that about 5% had, which is typical for what is usually reported for the general population as a whole. In 1975, Sturrock did a more comprehensive survey of members of the American Astronomical Society. Of some 2600 questionnaires, over 1300 were returned. Only two members offered to waive anonymity, and Sturrock noted that the UFO subject was obviously a very sensitive one for most colleagues. Nonetheless, Sturrock found a strong majority favored continued scientific studies, and over 80% offered to help if they could. Sturrock commented that the AAS members seemed more open to the question than the AIAA members in his previous survey. As in the AIAA survey, about 5% reported puzzling sightings, but skepticism against the Extraterrestrial Hypothesis (ETH) ran high. Most thought that UFO reports could ultimately be explained conventionally. Sturrock also found that skepticism and opposition to further study was correlated with lack of knowledge and study: only 29% of those who had spent less than an hour reading about the subject favored further study versus 68% who had spent over 300 hours. In his analysis of the survey results, Sturrock noted that many scientists wished to see UFOs discussed in scientific journals (there was an almost complete absence of such articles in journals). He subsequently helped establish the Society of Scientific Exploration in 1982 to give a scientific forum to subjects that are neglected by the mainstream. Their publication, the Journal of Scientific Exploration has been published since 1987. In 1998, Sturrock organized a scientific panel to review various types of physical evidence associated with UFOs. The panel felt that existing physical evidence that might support the ETH was inconclusive, but also deemed extremely puzzling UFO cases worthy of further scientific study. Sturrock subsequently wrote up the work of the panel/ *
The Sturrock JSE Astronomers Survey (1977)
The UFO Enigma: A New Review of the Physical Evidence (2000) *
I have no particular interest in any particular story. I find it a challenge that there have been UFO reports
for 50 years, and they have been pretty much ignored for 50 years. I hope they will not be ignored for the next 50 years.......Most astronomers and most physicists believe that we probably are not alone, that there are other life forms on other planets or on other stars. But most physicists believe it is quite possible to travel from one star to another.