Etudes de cas

Vallée, JacquesVallee, Jacques: Journal of Scientific Exploration, vol. 12, n° 3, septembre 1998

The cases that follow have been extracted from the small subset of physical effects cases where recovery of a material specimen was achieved under conditions that are of sufficient reliability to warrant serious follow-up. One case (the Council Bluffs incident of December 17, 1977) will be described in detail. Other incidents drawn from the literature and listed in chronological order will provide the relevant backdrop.

Cas n° 1 : 1933 ou 1934. Ubatuba, near Sao Paulo (Brazil) - Classification: MA-2

This incident came to light in 1957 through the efforts of Dr. Olavo Fontès of Brazil and Jim and Coral Lorenzen, the founders of the Aerial Phenomena Research Organization, a now-defunct civilian research group in the U. S. Witnesses on the beach at Ubatuba are said to have reported seeing a disc that plunged toward the ocean at high speed, rose again to about 100 feet and exploded, showering the area with bright metallic fragments, some of which fell into shallow water. A few of the fragments were recovered and analyzed in Brazil by Dr. Luisa Barbosa at a laboratory specialized in mineral production studies. Dr. Barbosa identified the major component of the specimen as highly pure magnesium, more pure than commercially produced magnesium but possibly not as pure as multiply sublimed magnesium.

Subsequent work under the direction of Prof. Peter Sturrock has been conducted at Stanford University and at various laboratories in France, including Orsay University, confirming that the material was magnesium and magnesium oxide, with a very minute amount of impurities s1[Sturrock, Peter A.: "Brazil Magnesium Study," paper presented at the Third Annual Meeting of the Society for Scientific Exploration, Princeton (New Jersey)], primarily aluminum, calcium, and iron. Analysis of this sample is still ongoing, with an effort to measure isotopic ratios that might help establish the origin of the material s2[Lorin & Havette, 1986] s3[Sturrock, Peter A. "Material Isotopic Analysis," presentation at this conference].

The actual date of this event, often wrongly quoted in the literature as 1957, is actually imprecise. Dr. Pierre Kaufmann of Sao Paulo believes the original incident took place in 1933 or 1934 when a bolide indeed passed over Ubatuba and crashed at a nearby beach. The only aerial event to occur at or near Ubatuba in 1957 was the crash of a DC-3.

Cas n° 2 : 21 juin 1947. Maury Island (Washington) - Classification: MA-2

L'après-midi du 21 juin 1947 (3 jours avant le cas de Kenneth Arnold) 4 personnes se trouvant sur un bateau près de la côte de l'Ile Maury près de Tacoma (Washington), signalèrent une observation which has puzzled and divided researchers ever since. According to the published story the witnesses were Mr. Harold Dahl (a salvage operator), his fifteen-year old son and two crewmen. They had a dog with them. They reported seeing a group of six large, flat doughnut-shaped objects flying at an estimated altitude of 2000 pieds. Their central holes were about 25 feet in diameter and they glistened with a gold-silvery color. One object suddenly started wobbling and dropped to an altitude of 500 feet above the boat. One of the discs came down (as if to "help" the one in difficulty, according to Dahl). A dull explosion was heard and numerous sheets of light, thin metal issued from the central opening in the troubled object. At the same time, the witnesses were showered with hot, dark fragments that resembled lava rock or slag compared to brass in color. The dog was reportedly hit by one of the fragments and died.

Un homme nommé Fred Crisman, to whom the incident was reported, allegedly went to the shore and found it littered with a glassy material and silver foil. Military authorities and the FBI, in a very confused series of investigations, attributed the case to a hoax: "analysis of the fragments shows them to be from a Tacoma slag mill." s4[FBI teletype message dated August 5, 1947, on file. The Maury island case is mentioned in many books and magazines, notably in Ronald Story: The Encyclopedia of UFOs (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1980). Details can be found in Fate Magazine no. 1, Spring 1948, p. #31 and in the book by Kenneth Arnold and Ray Palmer, The Coming of the Saucers, pp. 106-108]. To this author's knowledge, however, the composition of the original samples, assuming that they were in fact studied by the FBI, was never released.

Dans un livre co-écrit avec Kenneth Arnold (whose own classic observation took place three days later, on June 24, 1947), l'écrivain populaire Ray Palmer publia une analyse des fragments d'origine, dont les principaux constituants étaient le calcium, le fer, le zinc et le titanium. Furent également trouvés de l'aluminum, du manganèse, du cuivre, du magnesium et du silicone, du nickel, du lead, du strontium et du chromium. Des traces d'argent, d'étain et de cadmium furent également rapportées.

Those investigators who regard the case as a hoax base their opinion on the fact that it was Crisman who initially sent the samples to Ray Palmer, linking them to alleged experiences involving the "Shaver Mystery," a science-fiction tale of underground beings. In their opinion it is only after the Kenneth Arnold observation had been published that the story was changed to involve the alleged UFO incident. For the purpose of this discussion we will keep this weak case in the present list, but it is clear that no firm conclusion can be drawn from the reported facts. As Ray Palmer commented: There we have it. The samples first sent by Crisman and Dahl were not slag nor were they natural rock. What were they ?

Cas n° 3: 1952. Washington (DC) - Classification : MA-2

Selon le journaliste Frank Edwards un fragment métallique provenant d'un objet qui serait tombé en 1952 fut examiné quelques années plus tard par un chercheur canadien, M. Wilbert Smith. Le fragment avait été scié de l'échantillon récupéré, représentant environ 1/3 de son volume. D'une taille de plus de 1 pouce, il était remarquablement dur et aurait consisté en une matrice de d'orthosilicate de magnésium composé de particules de 15 microns s5[Edwards, 1996]. Interrogé apr 2 chercheurs civils, messieurs C.W. Fitch de Cleveland (Ohio) et George Popovitch de Akron (Ohio), Smith indiqua qu'un pilote de la Marine avait pris en chasse un disque volant lorsqu'il vit un fragment scintillant se détacher et tomber au sol. Il fut récupéré 1 h plus tard et pesait 250 g. Smith montra à plusieurs reprises l'échantillon à l'amiral Knowles. Malheureusement il n'existe pas de rapport d'une analyse independante dans la littérature, et l'échantillon n'est pas disponible pour une autre étude.