Scientific Aspects of UFO Research
(June 14, 1958 speech on the occasion of the opening of the Planetary Center, Detroit, Michigan.)
Mr. Henry Maday, Chairman, Mrs. Laura Mundo Marxer, Official Hostess of the Open House Program and Co-Director with Mrs. Connie Gryzch of the Planetary Center, The Visitors' Plan Committee, ladies and gentlemen:
I assure you with the utmost sincerity that it is a pleasure to appear before you this afternoon on the occasion of the opening of the Planetary Center, under the sponsorship of Mrs. Marxer. Mrs. Marxer advises me that this planetary center is the culmination of a dream long held in mind, and I personally congratulate Mrs. Marxer in this fine enterprise dedicated to the advancement of truth with reference to these strange aerial phenomena which have in large numbers been haunting our skies for the past 11 years.
I am aware of the fact that many well-known figures in this field of unidentified flying objects have, during the past four years, spoken to your Detroit groups. These include Major Donald E. Keyhoe (USMC, Ret.), Director of NICAP, of which organization I am pleased to be a board member, Mr. Frank Edwards, celebrated news analyst and fellow board member of NICAP, Captain Edward J. Ruppelt (A. F. Ret.), former Chief Investigator for the Air Force Project Blue Book, Mr. George Adamski, well-known author and others. You people in Detroit and Michigan are to be congratulated in making possible to the general public the presentation of the many diverse points of view on this highly controversial subject by these several mentioned personalities who are recognized leaders in their respective channels of thought.
I come before you with a plea for open-mindedness and of
unity of effort in the search for truth in this field, I see no reason why the different groups seeking information cannot join in a single united enterprise, open-mindedly willing to accept truth from whatever source it might come. At the same time there must be that willingness on the part of all to permit the subjection of all material which purports to be factual, to the acid test of consistency. By this I mean that material which can be accepted from either objective or subjective sources must not be contradictory in character, and much needs to be tested and evaluated in the light of established scientific principles commonly recognized.
Surely no person in his right mind can derive satisfaction in trying to believe that which is not so. On the other hand, those things that can be proven valid can command whole-hearted support from honest thinkers. Also, and this is directed to my friends of exact science persuasion, there needs to be an attitude of respectful indecision, to say at least, manifested toward information not secured through the techniques of orthodox science, where such information can neither be proven correct nor incorrect.
I do not wish to indulge in criticism of personalities in the field of UFO investigation, and I refrain from mentioning the names of probably sincere and well-meaning persons with whom I disagree. I do not consider that there is any place for ridicule in the true scientific attitude. I wish to point out, however, that a most illuminating exposure of inconsistencies in the claims of certain well-known figures in this field has been made by a brilliant lady investigator, Miss Isabel L. Davis, Treasurer of the very excellent UFO non-profit research organization, Civilian Saucer Intelligence (CSI) of New York City. The article referred to has the title, "Meet the Extraterrestrial" and it is published in a recent issue of a science-fiction magazine.
My own approach to this subject is in the role of the scientific method. This I shall presently comment upon. However, in my thinking, I do not rule out the possibility of acquiring knowledge by other than recognized scientific methodology. Nevertheless, I demand that such information be subjected to the acid test of consistency.
For example, if through some alleged source of information one is advised that the other side of the moon enjoys climate comparable to that of the earth, knowledge of the principles of
everyday science is completely adequate to disprove such advice. For uninformed on principles on elementary science this error might not be obvious. However, any common-sense mind, though previously uninformed on such matters, could easily absorb a little instruction in elementary science adequate to comprehend this error.
Dr. Marcus Bach, professor of religion at the State University of Iowa and a Board member of NICAP, has a point of view toward information secured from subjective sources which appeals to me. Dr. Bach spent 15 years in world travel, studying and living with more than 40 different religious groups. In the course of this very wide experience and study he has encountered phenomena which to him seemed very real but which are unexplainable in terms of orthodox science. In his book, The Will to Believe, he quotes Carrington, an investigator in the field of spiritualistic phenomena for more than 50 years, as follows:
"There is scarcely a medium who has not at one time or another been exposed in the grossest kind of fraud. I do not wish it to be understood that I hereby relegate the whole evidence of the supernormal to the wastebasket. This is precisely what I do not wish to do. It is because I believe that there do exist certain phenomena that explanations for which have not yet been found, that I think it necessary to distinguish these from the fraudulent marvels so commonly produced. "
Says Dr. Bach, "That is my conclusion."
I feel confident that every serious and logical-minded researcher in the field of UFOs would agree with me that the intelligences which guide UFOs in their maneuvering in the skies are superior personalities and possessors of knowledge on the laws of physical science immeasurably beyond our own stage of development. One must expect of them thinking ability at least equal to our own. Therefore, in the case of claims of individuals of actual physical or material contact and association with these outer space personalities, the most obvious basis for the establishment of such claims would be in the form of material evidence, some artifact, invention, picture, or book bearing non-terrestrial earmarks. It would seem that such evidence would be a necessary requirement to give validation to such claims.
In the case of claims of psychic communication material evidences are of course not possible. The minimal basis for the establishment of the validity of psychic communication of
repetition of the same or very similar messages through controlled agencies of reception located probably in widely separated different places. This requirement, to say the least, would not be too much to expect were the difficulties attending the transmission of psychic messages overcome.
Now we come to the simple basis by which we objectively evaluate information. This basis is the repetition of events. In the fields of physics and chemistry, events may be repeated at will, at any time and at any place when the specific circumstance or experimental conditions are set up in accordance with the particular requirements.
In the fields of astronomy and meteorology the scientist must ordinarily wait for the periodic natural occasions to produce the set of conditions required for the repetition of a given performance. For example, one must wait for a total solar eclipse in order to test the bending of light rays near the sun as predicted by Einstein's relativity.
But in the field of UFOlogy, so far at least, there is little basis, if any, for determining ahead of time when repetitions might occur. However, it is the consistency of performance in repeated occurrences of UFO phenomena that makes scientific study in this field possible. The recognition of authenticated, well-defined patterns of appearance and performance of UFO phenomena in time and in place constitutes accumulation of knowledge in this field.
In the case of phenomenon of "angel hair" associated with UFOs, we have repetitions in time and place of strikingly similar performances associated with this material. We observe in repeated instances in widely separated places and in greatly different times that (1) angel hair is associated with sudden acceleration of hovering UFOs, (2) that it is fibrous and shiny in appearance, and (3) that it generally evaporates with the warmth of the human hand.
In the case of the occasional concentrations of sightings of UFOs, a definite locality of terrestrial significance is sometimes the center of attention. Here we have a repetition again, as in the case of the concentration of fleets of UFO in the vicinity of the nation's capital, Washington, D. C., in July 1952.
In the case of electromagnetic phenomena associated with the appearance of UFOs, we have the spectacular stopping of automobile engines, the dimming of auto headlights, and the failure of radios, repeated over and over again in widely scattered areas in the Western Hemisphere in November 1957 and following months.
Just as in traditional science the basis for actuality is the repetition of similar events under similar specific conditions, the basis for reality in the case of UFO phenomena as measured objectively is the repetition of similar happenings associated with the appearances of these objects.
I shall now go into such detail as I have presently available in regard to one of the most dramatic and significant of UFO sightings. For the greater part of the information concerning this incident I am indebted to my estimable friend and co-investigator, Mr. Escobar Faria, of Sao Paulo, Brazil, government attorney, poet, and editor-publisher of the UFO Critical Bulletin. I refer to the photographing of a UFO over the Brazilian Isle of Trindade from a vessel of the Brazilian Navy on January 16, 1958. (Ed. Note: See frontispiece.) This isle, not to be confused with the island of the British West Indies off northeast Venezuela, is about six square miles in area and mountainous. It is located in the Atlantic Ocean about 740 miles east of the city of Vitoria on the Brazilian coast. Photos were taken of a UFO in the sky above this island from a ship of the Brazilian Navy. An official report of these photos, labeled genuine by the Brazilian Navy Ministry, has been promised to NICAP by the Brazilian Embassy in Washington, D. C.
As a part of its participation in the work of the IGY, the Brazilian Government established on this isle a scientific station for meteorological and oceanographic research. The Brazilian Navy ship, Saldanha de Gama, an armed motor-sailing vessel originally designed for cadet instruction, was remodeled to serve as a scientific laboratory to carry out oceanographic research as a part of the IGY program. The ship carries military and civilian scientists and technicians. Included in the personnel is a master craftsman by the name of Almiro Barauna, a skilled submarine photographer, the man who secured the pictures.
Captain Jose Teobaldo Viegas (Brazilian Air Force, Ret.) was the first to see the UFO and gave the alarm. The photographer, Barauna, who was at the moment taking pictures of the ship itself, heard the alarm, and saw the UFO. He immediately succeeded in taking six snapshots of the object, four of which proved to be satisfactory. In response to the alarm sounded by Captain Viegas, several members of the ship's crew hurried on deck and witnessed the UFO. Among these were Commander Carlos
Bacelar, Captain of the ship, Lieutenant Homero Riberio, a sergeant, and several sailors. Later official investigation showed that the object photographed was observed also by residents of the Trindade Isle. Furthermore, according to Captain Viegas, UFOs had been seen in the vicinity of the isle on two different previous occasions in 1957.
Captain Viegas described the object, which was observed at midday, as a disk shining with a phosphorescent light, more intense than that of the moon and about the apparent diameter of the full moon. The UFO was in view for several seconds and displayed a clear-cut form against the sky background. It described a trajectory toward the horizon line, where it disappeared, only to return again, and a second time vanish in the distance. Its speed was estimated at 700 miles per hour.
A description of the object from a person aboard the ship likened it to two superimposed saucers joined in the middle by means of a large ring. The form of the object was clearly seen when it stopped for a short interval and its luminescence became less intense. When it began to speed up it became much brighter. Since the object went away and then shortly returned in its flight, this clearly indicates that it was maneuvered. On its second movement away from the observers, reaching the sky over Desejado mountain on the isle, it then disappeared at a fantastic speed.
The head of the Brazilian Air Force bureau charged officially with UFO investigation, Colonel Adil de Oliveira, declared in a newspaper interview, "Now it is impossible to have any doubt as to the existence of flying saucers.”
Later, by order of Brazilian President Dr. Juscelino Kubitschek de Oliveira, the four photos of the UFO were delivered to the press for publication. Thus, it has finally come about that an official national recognition of the reality of UFOs has become an accomplished fact. No little credit for this epoch-making event is due the President of Brazil himself. Before entering national politics he was a surgeon of good reputation in the city of Belo Horizonte, capital of the State of Minas Gerais.
The description and photographs of this Trindade UFO bear a striking resemblance to other UFOs seen and photographed elsewhere. It thus may be said to represent a particular type of these objects. The expression used by the Brazilian observer, "two superimposed saucers joined in the middle by means of a large ring,” compares nicely with the description given by the
U. S. Navy Chief Photographer, Warrant Officer Delbert C. Newhouse, of the objects of the fleet of UFOs he photographed on July 2, 1952. This is the celebrated Tremonton, Utah, movie of UFOs. Before Newhouse was able to get the camera set for that movie he and his family were able to see the UFOs when they were much closer to the car in which they had been riding. Newhouse, who now, by the way, is Special Advisor for NICAP, described the objects as like "two pie pans, one inverted on top of the other."
Then there is the well-known photograph taken by the U. S. Coast Guard photographer, Shell R. Alpert, at Salem, Massachusetts Air Station, on July 16, 1952, showing four discs. The better reproductions of this photo clearly display shapes like two saucers, one superimposed on the other, producing an effect as though joined by a ring in the middle.
In the previous chapter I listed 13 recent separate instances in localities of North America, of electromagnetic interference by UFOs. These were manifested by stopping of automobile motors, dimming of car headlights, and the like. Since these happenings, additional instances have been reported where other automobiles were interfered with in the same type of happening. For example, car engines of three vehicles in Peru died, and headlights dimmed and went out on January 30, 1958 when a UFO hovered 150 feet above the Pan American Highway between Arequipa and Lima.
I am also reliably informed that when the UFO was sighted over the Brazilian Isle of Trindade, all the ships engines abruptly stopped without any apparent reason.
It remains to be seen how great is the lethargy of the world's news agencies before the people of the world become fully advised of the amazing events now taking place in the skies adjacent to this planet earth.
C. A. M. October 1958