Almost everyone has heard at one time or another, I think, the claim by 'conspiracy theorists' that for decades the US government has secretly reverse-engineered futuristic technology from crashed alien spaceships to develop a wide array of modern weapons and aircraft. These claims may have reached their peak of popular familiarity in the 1990s when the X-Files was a top rated network TV show, coinciding in 1997 with the 50th anniversary of the 1947 'Roswell Incident.' Even though I'm tempted to label these theories "crackpot," I've nonetheless always been intrigued by the whole concept, however baseless and counter-factual. ("I want to believe," I suppose. But don't.)
I've noticed over time that these claims are rarely ever specific. No one ever seems to point to a specific human scientist by name who developed any specific fighter plane or weapon using reverse-engineered alien technology. These claims rarely seem to get more specific than dark references to Area 51 made over video footage of "No Trespassing" signs in the Nevada desert. As a result, I was impressed by an episode of the TV show UFO Files that I saw for the first time the other day (despite first airing on the History Channel in 2005, apparently). This was the first TV show I ever saw that made very specific claims about who did the alleged reverse engineering, and what specific innovations were developed therefrom.
This episode examined claims made by a long-retired Lt. Colonel in the Army named Philip Corso in his 1997 book The Day After Roswell. (That's him above.) In his book Corso asserts that in 1961 he was personally put in charge of a project to reverse-engineer technology from the alien spacecraft that (purportedly) crashed on a ranch near Roswell, New Mexico in 1947. (Notice the coincidental date of publication of his book? Nonetheless you can buy it on Amazon HERE.) In the book Corso claims that his team of scientists developed lasers, fiber optics, integrated circuits and night vision goggles from this alien debris. Very specific indeed.
Even more impressively, I thought, this 1 hour episode then interviewed an assortment of nobel laureates and other eminent scientists who actually developed these technologies in reality (some, as a matter of record, years before Corso claims to have reverse-engineered them), who go on to explain how no one could never have developed them otherwise (with alien technology or without) because of the critical need of other converging technologies or scientific instruments, like scanning electron microscopes. It was great to see a show on this topic that didn't end with a vaguely skeptical question mark. You can watch the entire 1 hour episode on You Tube. Part 1 is HERE.
As an interesting epilogue, Corso retired from the Army in 1963, and became a key aide to Senator Strom Thurmond. Corso died in 1998, just a year after his book was published.