This article was published in the daily regional newspaper La Dépêche du Midi, France, on December 1st, 2002, the author is Philippe Brassart. Embedded links are by the author of this site.
The conclusions of an american symposium are finally published in France
UFOs do not raise smiles anymore
By Philippe Brassart
Wrongly mistaken by too credulous witnesses for craft that come from other planets, the majority of the "flying objects" are identified. They are weaher balloons, known atmospheric phenomena, ordinary stars, or more often, fragments of rockets, shuttles, satellites, "space junk" returning in the Earth's atmosphere. The number of these "debris" is evaluated to 35 million, they measure from a few microns to several meters and can ne dangerous. In Toulouse, last week, the subject was evoked during an international conference.
Nine "weird things"
There remain the rest. Not identified in the current state of our knowledge. Impassioned by the subject, the American patron Laurance Rockefeller entrusted, at the end of 1997, the englishman Peter Sturrock to organize at Pocantico (State of New York) the first scientific conference worthy of this label, devoted to the UFOs. This astrophysicist of high reputation joined together a panel of nine high level scientists who have, in their turn, auditioned the reports of seven experienced investigators, among them Jean-Jacques Vélasco of Toulouse. Peter Sturrock thus does not express himself lightly and his conclusions, finally published in France (1) are as serious as the character. Is there a connection between the UFOS and a possible "extraterrestrial intelligence"? Careful, rigorous, the consulted scientists do not answer this question in these terms, restricting themselves to state rough facts.
Official "history" of UFOs is known. It begins in Oregon, in 1947, with the testimony of a civilian pilot, Kenneth Arnold, which told that he saw, through the windows of his aircraft," nine odd things "flying at an extraordinary speed "like saucers rebounding on water." The press publicized this, forged the word "flying saucer" (in English Saucer-like objects). Then the government, in the West as in the East, denied a any material reality to the phenomenon. Pravda went so far as to talk about "hallucinations of famished and desperate unemployed people." It will be noted that in France, in 1967, "l'Express" still deplored what they called "phenomena of mass hysteria"...
The opinion of scientists too concerned by their career, since, has evolved, some of them dropped their scepticism. The Pocantico symposium is proof of that. Facts? There are facts, in abundance. Among the most recent, this observation made in January 1994 in the South-East of Paris, at an altitude of 11.000 m, by an airplane crew, -- and on the ground by radar --, of a "disc"... 1.000 meters in diameter and 100 meters thickness. Also the observation of Trans-in-Provence: on January 8, 1981, Renato Nicolai comes out of its house, alerted by a "choked whisling sound" and sees the landing of an "ovoid object" having "the shape of two saucers one reverse on top of the other," traces were measured, the plants underwent a form of traumatism, an "accelerated ageing." The mystery is not elucidated yet.
Observations and even photographs
There are thousands of observations of this kind, in all the countries of the world. They are sometimes accompanied, as in "Encounters of the Third Kind," by sudden stops of the witnesses cars, of phenomenon disturbing the navigation instruments of planes. There are "constants:" the described "objects" are, generally, perfectly silent, abruptly change speed and/or direction. It happens that the arrival of these UFOS has physiological effects on those who see them: strong heat or feeling of cold, tickling, temporary deafness, tough nauseas. A remarkable case, that of Betty Cash and Vickie Landrum, accompanied by a child, in December 1980 in Texas, a "diamond shaped" object, hovering above their
Betty Cash and Vickie Landrum observed, accompanied by a child, in December 1980 in Texas, a "diamond shaped" object hovering above their car, spitting flames at its bottom. They spent several weeks at the hospital, victims of burns.
car, spitting flames downwards. These witnesses spent several weeks at the hospital, victims of burns. Helicopters accompanied the takeoff of the "craft," from where the assumption of secret military operations was put forth but ever confirmed.
There are facts, and even photographs, disconcerting, of "aerial discs," documents that were analyzed to eliminate every mystification. For example, on August 24, 1990, at Greifswald (Germany), tens of people photographed, and other filmed, a cluster of "luminous spheres" evolving in the sky, accelerating and brutally changing direction. Surprising as much a this close encounter, confirmed by witnesses on the ground, in October 1973, above Ohio, between a helicopter transporting soldiers and a gray "metallic object", "cigar-shaped," with a red light at its front. A plane? A meteor? Neither one nor the other could have had this behavior, could have slowed down, stabilized, depart again at moderate speed then disappear.
On the basis of numerous testimonies of this kind, duly dissected, the scientists gathered at Pocantico do not peremptorily conclude that UFOS are extraterrestrial vehicles. Reasonably, and leaving us somewhat frustrated, they stress that there are phenomena that science is yet not able to explain, that UFOs constitute "a subject worthy of scientific studies" which it would be advisable to push forward. It is not anymore a subject of mockery, but "it is improbable that there is only one general and simple answer." They also notice -- and it is a beautiful praise --, that Sepra (Service of expertise on rare aerospace phenomena) created in 1977 within CNES (National Center of space studies based in Toulouse) "provides an example of good organization to collect and analyze UFOs observations." Invited at Pocantico, Jean-Jacques Vélasco, director of Sepra, which collected more than 3000 testimonys of " phenomena " in 25 years, whose almost all found a rational explanation, will soon meet his homologue of Peru which, like Chili and Uruguay, set up a service of the Sepra type, with a small difference: in France, it is a public organization, in these countries, the military is involved... Jean-Jacques Vélasco is the first to consider it regrettable that the conclusions of the symposium did not stimulate more research on the other side of the Atlantic. Coul the state maintain a secrecy? Or is there a will to deny the phenomenon, to ridicule it? But then, if they do not believe in it, why do the astronomers of Seti (Search for an extraterrestrial intelligence) persist, with their "big ears," to try to collect artificial signals emitted from distant planets?
The question we ask is outstanding: if there are extraterrestrials -- because there are other hypothesis, seemingly insane, that were put forth, beings from the future or from a parallel universe... --, that do they want? Claude Poher, engineer of the CNES, stated, enigmatically: "the truth is undoubtedly beyond all that one can imagine." Sociologist Pierre Lagrange, specialized in the study of the UFO controversies, prolonged the reasoning by suggesting that the beings "who can have a physical appearance and modes of communication that we have not any idea of": "the cultural differences between us and "them" are likely to be so large that we would not even be able to recognize a report of their presence among us." Are they already among us?
(1) To read: "La science face à l'énigme des ovnis," Peter Sturrock, Presse du Châtelet Ed.