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The U of C's triple-threat connection to shocking UFO conspiracies!

Millions 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.

When Hynek 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.

UofC Space Invader!
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.

Rhine’s 1937 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, SM’56, PhD’60.

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 other beings.

Sagan’s best-selling novel Contact, which became a 1997 movie starring Jodie Foster, imagined what would happen if extraterrestrials sent earthlings a signal we could decipher.

Relationship Secrets Revealed!

Looking for love?

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.

Off the Map Shocker!

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.

Bit parts or stars?

Local locales 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?

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