Thirty years ago this week, optimism was in the air. Then U.S. president Bill Clinton held a spectacular event at the White House where Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat shook hands. The handshake had historic symbolism and came as the world first learned of the Oslo Accords, a framework for talks between Israeli and Palestinian representatives that was intended to bring peace in the Middle East. Three decades later, a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian impasse seems further away than ever.

What happened?

The Conversation Weekly podcast has launched a three-part series that looks back at the Oslo process and explores what history can teach us about possible present-day solutions for the ongoing conflict. The first episode is available now and I would encourage you to listen to it. For further background, I’ve included some recent stories from The Conversation global network that try to put the events of 1993 into perspective.

While the 30th anniversary of the Oslo Accords is a solemn moment in history, a more amusing story caught my attention this week: Mexico’s Congress heard testimony from UFO enthusiasts who presented two boxes with supposed mummified aliens. The presentation to Mexican lawmakers came just two months after a similar hearing before the U.S. Congress in which a former Air Force intelligence officer claimed his government had been aware of “non-human” activity since the 1930s.

While amusing, these events are further evidence that misinformation and conspiracy theories have infected so many aspects of our society. Internet hoaxes are now making their way to official government hearings. Why? For your weekend reading, I’ve included some great reads by researchers who explain why people like to believe in aliens – and how sciencists are actually looking for extraterrestrial technology.

Have a great earthly weekend. We’ll be back in your Inbox on Monday.

Scott White

CEO | Editor-in-Chief

The Oslo Accords: 30 years after a historic handshake

Recognition versus reality: Lessons from 30 years of talking about a Palestinian state

Philip Leech-Ngo, L’Université d’Ottawa/University of Ottawa

The history of Palestinian statehood is marked by shifts in four sovereignty categories. Understanding them can shed light on the complex dynamics and key challenges in Palestine’s statehood pursuit.

Inside the Oslo accords: a new podcast series marks 30 years since Israel-Palestine secret peace negotiations

James Rodgers, City, University of London; Amnon Aran, City, University of London

A new podcast series from The Conversation Weekly marks 30 years since the first Oslo accord was signed in September 1993.

Oslo accords: 30 years on, the dream of a two-state solution seems further away than ever

John Strawson, University of East London

When Yasser Arafat and Yitshak Rabin shook hands on the White House lawn in September 1993 it looked as if Israel and Palestine might achieve a lasting peace. Three decades on this remains a dream.

30 years after Arafat-Rabin handshake, clear flaws in Oslo Accords doomed peace talks to failure

Maha Nassar, University of Arizona

A famous gesture kick-started hopes of peace in the Middle East. But today, the idea of a two-state solution seems further away than ever before.

UFOs: Why people believe in aliens

How extraterrestrial tales of aliens gain traction

Ester Lázaro Lázaro, Centro de Astrobiología (INTA-CSIC)

UFOs are back in the limelight after claims made by whistleblowers in the USA, but is it possible that aliens have visited Earth?

Why people tend to believe UFOs are extraterrestrial

Barry Markovsky, University of South Carolina

While UFO videos might seem compelling, they’re rarely backed up with evidence. A sociologist explains why claims of alien life gain traction through both social and mass media every few years.

What is most likely going on in Area 51? A national security historian explains why you won’t find aliens there

Christopher Nichols, The Ohio State University

You’re not allowed to visit the part of Nevada known as Area 51. That’s because it’s a top-secret government facility. But the secrecy has to do with spy planes, not space aliens.

Is the truth out there? How the Harvard-based Galileo Project will search the skies for alien technology

Ray Norris, Western Sydney University

Can the Galileo Project find alien technology?