Adamski, George (1891–1965)
George Adamski, or "Professor Adamski" as he was known to his acolytes, was a worker at a hamburger stand on the southern slope of Mount Palomar (home to what was then the world's largest optical telescope), who claimed to have made contact with flying saucers and their occupants. In his best-selling books, Flying Saucers Have Landed (1953) and Inside the Spaceships (1955), he wrote about encounters in the desert nearby with telepathic Venusians. The aliens were here because they were concerned about radiation from atomic explosions, too much of which, they said, would destroy the Earth.
Such outlandish tales, though compelling to a lay-readership keen for what seemed like inside information about UFOs and sensitized to the issue of atomic weapons, helped further discourage scientists from becoming involved with the UFO controversy. As the historian Steven Dick has pointed out: "Scientists seemed as unwilling to distinguish a potentially credible UFO phenomenon from Adamski's claims as the public was to separate scientific belief in extraterrestrials from UFOs." (See ref. below.) The increasing vacuum left by science was filled by a variety of individuals and largely amateur organizations who investigated UFOs from the standpoint of favoring the extraterrestrial hypothesis. These included Donald Keyhoe, the Aerial Phenomena Research Organization, and the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena.
The success of Adamski's books also suggests that many people at this time were prepared to entertain the idea that UFOs might have come from other planets within the solar system – an indication of the gulf that had opened up between modern astronomical knowledge and some of the quainter, folk notions of space. An interstellar origin for putative extraterrestrial spacecraft was at least scientifically feasible. But it had been widely recognized by astronomers since the turn of the century that, in the search for intelligence elsewhere, Earth's immediate neighbors looked decidedly unpromising.
1. Dick, Steven J. The Biological Universe: The Twentieth-Century Extraterrestrial Life Debate and the Limits of Science. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press (1996).