| The woo is out there|
|Aliens did it...|
|... and ran away|
Project Serpo is a science fiction fantasy launched as though true onto several UFO-oriented web forums starting in November 2005. Gullible UFO "researchers" such as Bill Ryan, Kerry Cassidy and Linda Moulton Howe[note 1] were totally bamboozled by this fiction. Author Len Kasten swallowed the story so completely that he wrote a book about it. As late as August 2016 the yarn was re-told as true on the overnight radio show Coast to Coast AM, when Kasten was a guest.
The Story — Serpo
Serpo is an alleged planet of the binary star system ζ Reticuli, 39 light years from Earth. It is slightly smaller than Earth but has a human-breathable atmosphere. It is populated by an extraterrestrial race known as Ebens, who mostly live in rather simple villages. The total population is 650,000. Ebens are short and brown. "Ebens" is a term that comes from the acronym "E.B.E." for "Extra-Terrestrial Biological Entity."
The Story — The Exchange Program
One Eben was a survivor of the 1947 flying saucer crash at Corona, New Mexico. In 1965, twelve US military astronauts set off for what was to be a ten-year mission to Serpo in a spacecraft that used anti-matter as its energy source. The journey took ten months, at 40 times the speed of light.
Two of the astronauts died on Serpo or en route to Serpo, in part due to the intense radiation on the planet. Two others never returned and are alleged to be still living The Good Life on Serpo. The mission of the remaining eight (seven men and one woman) was extended and they returned to Earth in 1978. They were held incommunicado for debriefing until 1984. All of them have since died.
The Story — How it unfolded
Apparently it all started in 2005 with an e-mail from "Request Anonymous" to a Ufology maillist moderated by Victor Martinez. "Anonymous" claimed to be a retired US Government official with top-secret clearance. Investigation by the Reality Uncovered Network led them to believe that "Anonymous" was Richard C. Doty, a former security guard with the Air Force Office of Special Investigations (who had a book to sell.) The R.U.N. investigators developed the story to include two other fabricators, the three being known alternatively as The Imaginary Intelligence Agency or Scammers, Inc.
Bill Ryan, business partner and (at the time) bed-mate of the paranoid gubbmint-hater Kerry Cassidy, took up the story and created the serpo.org web site (which he no longer administers.) The story exploded onto the paranormal cybersphere in 2006 — nicely timed for the first edition of the Collins & Doty book.
Steven Spielberg may have been aware of this story, and tailored his 1977 award-winning movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind after the details. One will note the 12 people trained and ready to board the UFO at the end, in an exchange program: 10 men, 2 women, just like in the original story. One now has to wonder how Spielberg found out about it.[note 2] In an interview one year after the release, he speaks of NASA writing him a 20-page letter asking him not to make this movie, and his response "I knew something must be happening". I think we all have to wonder, who was feeding him the story NASA did not want released in public media?
Additionally, a very recent (July 2017) Youtube release of a lecture from Australia spends the entire hour and half addressing the story, from 1965 forward. It includes one interview by Steven Spielberg, and several possible photos of the events. The lecturer does keep a very open mind to possible fake items, and tells you about them.
- Interstellar travel at 40 times c is impossible unless the entirety of the theory of relativity is mistaken.
- Included in the story is the idea that the survivor of the New Mexico crash contacted the home planet to arrange the whole exchange visit. Well, with message transit time being 78 years round trip, "contact" cannot have the usual meaning.
- Believers in Serpo cite the use of wormholes to explain the travel time. Wormholes are purely theoretical phenomena. None has ever been observed. No UFO enthusiast has ever satisfactorily explained how a wormhole could be contrived to exit at a chosen place in the universe.
- The ζ Reticuli binary stars are many thousands of astronomical units apart. A planetary orbit is problematic because any classic orbit around just one of the stars would be so eccentric that temperature variation over the planet's year would be so extreme as to make multicellular life very difficult. The claim that radiation at Serpo's surface is intense is also hard to believe.
- The stars are relatively young, perhaps only half as old as our Sun. While that fact does not rule out the evolution of a technically advanced civilization, it certainly reduces the probability.
- Anti-matter as an energy source is not a ridiculous idea per se. However, this raises the question "What is the anti-matter contained in?" The best that CERN scientists have been able to do in terms of containment time in a magneto-optical trap is approximately 17 minutes.  Another issue is that the creation of antimatter takes as much or more energy than it yields in return, unless one could find a source of antimatter and effectively mine it (which itself is an issue due to the containment problem).
- Kasten, Len (2013). Secret Journey to Planet Serpo: A True Story of Interplanetary Travel. Rochester, Vermont: Bear & Company. ISBN 978-1591431466.
- Collins, Robert; Doty, Richard (2006). The Black World of UFOs: Exempt from Disclosure. Vandalia, Ohio: Peregrine Communications. ISBN 978-0976642633.
- Howe's information apparently pre-dated the main Serpo hoax by many years. She wrote to Bill Ryan:
- "I learned back in the 1983-1984 time period about an alleged exchange program of humans leaving Holloman AFB on April 25, 1964, for Zeta Reticuli with non-humans while I was working on a Home Box Office television special entitled, "UFOs: The E. T. Factor." I was told three human men went: one died on the alien planet; one went insane (don't know fate); and one returned to Earth and was given a safe house in which to live the rest of his life on an island provided for by the U. S. government.
- My main source was Robert Emenegger, the writer of UFOs: Past, Present and Future , which was broadcast in the U. S. on television in the late 1970s."
- But one also has to wonder if the copying went the other way—was "Request Anonymous" a fan of the movie?
- "Secret Journey to Planet Serpo" -- excerpts are here
- C2C summary of 22 Aug 2016 show
- Reality Uncovered article, July 2008
- See, for example, this ATS thread
- "I knew something must be happening" --Rigorous Intuition
- Steven Spielberg Talks About the Special Effects For CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND --AFI
- The Strangest UFO Story Ever To Hit the Internet --Zohar StarGate TV
- http://www.economist.com/node/18802932 The Economist. Antimatter of Fact. 9 June 2011