Fredericton's Stanton Friedman will be rubbing elbows with some of the world's most gifted minds next week in Saudi Arabia.
The well-known nuclear physicist, author, lecturer and UFO expert has been asked to be a panelist at the Fifth Annual Global Competitiveness Forum, described as the world's premier gathering on competitiveness challenges.
Friedman will be joined by fellow Canadians and former prime minister Jean Chretien and Senator Marie Poulin, and former prime minister of Great Britain Tony Blair.
Others set to attend the conference include: Andy Bird, chairman of Walt Disney International; David Drummond, Google's senior vice-president of corporate development and chief legal officer; Ali Bin Ibrahim Al Naimi, Saudi minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources; and Chrystia Freeland, Global editor-at-large for Thomson Reuters.
"I am impressed because of the quality of people who are going," said Friedman, who'll be leaving for the conference Friday.
The early registration admissions fee is $4,000. At least 1,000 people are expected to attend.
Friedman will be part of a panel dealing with the topic Contact: Learning from Outer Space.
Friedman will be joined by Zaghloul El Naggar, an Egyptian scholar and a member of the Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs; Michio Kaku, professor of theoretical physics at City University of New York and the host of Sci Fi Science on the Discovery/Science TV Channel; Nick Pope, author and journalist; and Jacques Vallee, general partner at SBV Venture Partners.
He and others will be examining knowledge gained from research in the fields of ufoology and the search for extraterrestrial life, and what might possibly be learned about hindrances to innovation in other areas of inquiry.
"I intend to stress that aliens have taken innovative approaches to interstellar travel, travel in the atmosphere (and in) examination of earthlings," Friedman said.
"So far, as I know, I am the only one of the five who has strongly stated a conviction that some UFOs are of alien origin. The others indicate that something of interest is happening, but they are unwilling to admit to the conclusion that aliens are visiting, as opposed to merely being out there."
After 52 years of study and investigation, Friedman said he has concluded the evidence is overwhelming that Earth is being visited by extraterrestrial spacecraft.
"In other words, some UFOs are alien vehicles," Friedman said. "I am also convinced, after working for many major corporations as a nuclear physicist, that technological progress comes from doing things differently in an unpredictable way. The future is not an extrapolation of the past. Microcircuits are not just small vacuum tubes; lasers are not just better light bulbs, nuclear reactors are not just better chemical combustion chambers. All involve new physics."
Reviewing the UFO evidence forces society to examine assumptions as to how things work, Friedman said.
Although the trip promises to be a long one, Friedman said he's looking forward to it.
"I must say it will certainly be warmer in Riyadh than in Fredericton in January. Interestingly, while there had been initial comments about signing my books, books will no longer be available, as the forum will be will be an e-forum, a first for me and them, too."