U of C's triple-threat connection to shocking UFO conspiracies!
tune in to The X-Files each week—not realizing that “the truth is
out there” when it comes to the U of C’s connection to UFO studies!
If not for
the late Allen Hynek, AB’31, PhD’35, who served as the astronomical
consultant to the U.S. Air Force’s Project Blue Book in the 1950s
and ’60s, there would be no “close encounters” of any kind: Hynek
coined the phrase to mean contact with extraterrestrial life.
joined Blue Book, he was skeptical of UFOs. But after examining
hundreds of UFO reports by credible witnesses, he became convinced
UFOs were worth serious study. When Project Blue Book closed in
1969, Hynek, then a professor at Ohio State University, formed the
Center for UFO Studies.
Hynek was not
alone in studying phenomena with three-letter acronyms. Parapsychologist
J. B. Rhine, SB’22, AM’23, PhD’25, made “ESP” a household word.
|John Flint Dille,
PhB’09, head of features for the National Newspaper Syndicate,
flung the nation headfirst into the future with Buck Rogers
in the 25th Century. Dille enjoyed a tale by Phillip Nowlan
in a 1928 copy of Amazing Stories Magazine so much that
he bought the rights and hired artist Richard Calkins
to illustrate a comic strip based on the tale. Detailing
the adventures of a pilot who fell asleep for 500 years
and woke in 2419, Buck Rogers was an instant—and enduring—hit.
It spawned a pop-up book, several comic book series, a
serialized movie, and a late 1970s/early 1980s TV show
starring Gil Gerard as Captain William “Buck” Rogers.
best-seller New Frontiers of the Mind described his experiments
studying mental telepathy and clairvoyance. Using some 90,000 subjects,
he tested people for extrasensory perception by asking them to identify
distinctive symbols on cards—a method ESP believers still use today.
Rhine also studied psychokinesis, or the ability to move objects
with one’s mind.
But the most
famous U of C UFO alumnus was the late Carl Sagan, AB’54, SB’55,
One of the
most popular astronomers in the world, Sagan introduced millions
of people to billions of stars. He also had a lifelong fascination
with extraterrestrial life, leading the Search for Extra-Terrestrial
Intelligence (SETI), an organization that aims radiotelescopes at
points throughout the cosmos in hopes of picking up signals from
novel Contact, which became a 1997 movie starring Jodie Foster,
imagined what would happen if extraterrestrials sent earthlings
a signal we could decipher.
Let Harville Hendrix, AM’65, PhD’71, help you find it! Hendrix,
along with his wife, Helen Hunt (no relation to the As Good as It
Gets actress), is the author of the best-selling self-help books
Getting the Love You Want: A Guide for Couples, and Keeping
the Love You Find: A Guide for Singles.
Hendrix is not the only U of C alum who’s made a career out of
helping people around the nation and the globe with their relationships.
Dr. David Reuben, X’49, authored 1969’s Everything You Always Wanted
to Know about Sex...But Were Afraid to Ask—one of the most popular
sex guides ever written. Everything (revised and updated in 1982)
became the basis of a 1972 film comedy by Woody Allen.
|Al Roker owes this man BIG!
|So does the Weather
Channel. The bouncy TV weather forecasters who tell viewers
if it will be wet or dry should all thank meteorologist
Verner E. Suomi, PhD’53. Suomi developed the imaging technology
that made modern weather satellites possible. His most
important invention was the spin-scan camera. Mounted
on satellites spinning high above Earth, the spin-scan
sent back pictures that revolutionized weather forecasting.
Still in the appetites business, Reuben is now a health and nutrition
guru, recently writing Dr. David Reuben’s Weight Gain Program, Everything
You’ve Always Wanted to Know about Nutrition, and The Save-Your-Life
Diet. But sex still sells, and an all-new edition of the original
Everything is due out in 1999.
parts or stars?
steal scenes from the leads!
It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a U of C cameo!
•The University of Chicago Hospitals’ helicopter appears each week—don’t
blink or you’ll miss it—during the opening sequence of the popular
television drama ER. Sometimes, the maroon-and-white helicopter
is even part of the plot!
•Harrison Ford ran through the Hospitals’ corridors in scenes
from the 1993 thriller The Fugitive, based on the Sam Shepherd murder
case and filmed in Chicago.
•In one of his most famous roles—as Indiana Jones in 1981’s Raiders
of the Lost Ark—Ford, says the film’s script, studied at Chicago
under Professor Abner Ravenwood (perhaps modeled after the Oriental
Institute’s James Henry Breasted). According to slightly abashed
sources in the U of C Admissions Office, application rates soared
as high-school students clamored to attend the University where
Jones once roamed. The shocking truth? The U of C scenes in the
film—and in the 1992–93 TV spin-off The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles,
featuring Indy as a young man taking University classes—were actually
filmed at Duke.
•The Gleacher Center played itself for a few brief seconds of fame
when John Travolta’s wayward angel visited Chicago in 1996’s Michael.
•Hull Gate “starred” when Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan drove through
it to begin their romance in When Harry Met Sally (1989).
•Chicago lent its campus—and Professor Nicholas Rudall—to the
1996 Keanu Reeves/Morgan Freeman flick Chain Reaction, directed
by Andy Davis. Chain Reaction starred Reeves as Eddie Kasalivich,
a U of C machinist who stumbles onto an international plot to foil
a scientist’s plan to give the world clean, limitless energy. Filmed
partly in Mandel Hall and on the quads, it included several hundred
student extras—few of whom were visible in the final cut.
•U of C merchandise gets its screen time, too. Kimmy, the bride
played by Cameron Diaz in 1997’s My Best Friend’s Wedding, was a
student in the College, which she proved by wearing a Chicago sweatshirt.
(U of C alums know the secret reason why Kimmy couldn’t hold a tune
in a nightclub scene—there’s no karaoke at Jimmy’s.) Chicago paraphernalia
was seen briefly on the TV dramas Northern Exposure (Janine Turner’s
Maggie O’Connell character was an alum), Sisters (Frankie was a
U of C MBA), and Early Edition. What, no comedies?