10 Area 51 Conspiracies

The Government Reverse-Engineers Alien Spacecraft There
Conspiracy theorists suggest the U.S. government has captured and examined extraterrestrial spacecraft. Illustration: Aaron Foster/Getty Images

Back in 1989, a man named Bob Lazar claimed that he'd been hired to work briefly as a researcher at a part of Area 51 called S-4, which was so secretive that he and other workers were taken there in a bus with blacked-out windows, so that they couldn't discern the route.

In the hangars at S-4, Lazar claimed, he saw flying saucers, apparently extraterrestrial in origin. They were powered by antimatter reactors, fueled by a mysterious reddish-orange substance called Element 115. The device generated a "gravity wave" so powerful that if you threw a golf ball in its direction, the ball would bounce off, Lazar recounted [source: Patton]. The government was attempting to reverse-engineer the UFOs, in an effort to use the technology for military purposes. Lazar said he was fired from the job after he was caught taking friends out into the desert at night so they could watch test flights of the captured saucers [source: Birnes]. Lazar's Area 51 credentials later came into question [source: Patton].

But the larger notion that the Pentagon is actually stealing all its fancy gadgetry — from stealth aircraft to Kevlar — from alien inventors is just too deliciously conspiratorial to go away [source: Time].