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The Ubatuba Incident

Source: Walter Walker, in UFO Encyclopedia / NICAP
Original Source


Summary: Overview of the Ubatuba incident.

On September 14, 1957, Ibrahim Sued, a columnist for the Rio de Janeiro newspaper 0 Globo, printed a letter, which he had received, concerning a UFO incident. Accompanying the letter were three small pieces of white metal. Thus was ushered in one of the most controversial of all physical-evidence cases.

The writer of the letter described an event in which a "flying disk" exploded over the beach at Ubatuba, in Sao Paulo Province. Some of the metal, which had "rained down" from the exploding disk, was collected, and three small pieces were included in the letter to Sued.

Unfortunately, the signature on the letter was illegible. Furthermore, the identity of all witnesses to the original seaside event at Ubatuba remains unknown, despite extensive searches by the Brazilian representative of the AERIAL PHENOMENA RESEARCH ORGANIZATION (APRO), Dr. Olavo FONTES. This lack of witnesses is one of the greatest weaknesses of the Ubatuba case.

Mr. Sued gave all three pieces of metal to Dr. Fontes, who in turn had one of them analyzed at the Mineral Production Laboratory of the Department of Mineral Production in the Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture. Dr. Fontes personally delivered the samples to the chief chemist, Dr. Fiegl, an internationally known specialist.

A qualitative, phosphomolybdic acid test was first made on a small chip, which showed that the fragments were truly metallic.

One of the original fragments, designated Sample No.1 by Dr. Fontes, was subdivided into several pieces and two of the pieces were submitted to the Spectrographic Section of the Mineral Production Laboratory Semi-Quantitative Emission Spectrochemical Analysis.

One of the pieces was analyzed by Dr. Luisa Maria A. Barbosa. The analysis surprisingly revealed that the sample contained only the element magnesium.

A second fragment of Sample No.1 was submitted to a separate spectrographic analysis by Mr. Elson Teixeira of the Mineral Production Laboratory. Mr. Teixeira confirmed Dr. Barbosa's finding that Sample No.1 was pure magnesium.

Further tests were run on fragments of Sample No. 1. These included Debye-Scherrer-Hull powder pattern X-ray diffraction analysis, density measurement, and radiation tests. The interatomic spacings (d-spacings) of the samples closely matched those cited for magnesium metal by ASTM 4-0770. Six faint lines on this diffractogram could not be connected with known lines for magnesium, but were successfully related to magnesium hydroxide, Mg(OH)2. A white powder had been observed on the surfaces of the metal sample which was identified as Mg(OH)2.

The density of Sample No.1 was found to be surprisingly high: 1.866. This greater than normal density has also been cited as evidence of extraterrestrial on the assumption than an abnormal isotopic ratio was present. It should be noted that entrained magnesium oxide can explain the abnormally high density without involving unusual isotopic ratios.

The two other portions of Sample No.1 were given to the Brazilian Army and Navy respectively, but results of their analysis (if any) were never released.

Since the two small fragments analyzed by Dr. Barbosa and Mr. Teixeira were destroyed by their analytical procedure, no further portions of Sample No.1 are available for further verification of the original results.

The significance of Dr. Barbosa's and Mr. Teixeira's findings is that it is impossible to produce any element, terrestrially, that is absolutely spectrographically pure. These results, therefore, are often cited by proponents of UFO extraterrestriality as proof that the Ubatuba material must be EXTRATERRESTRIAL. Unfortunately, this supposition cannot be proven, due to the lack of any further Sample No.1 fragments for verification analysis.

The two other fragments received by Mr. Sued (Samples No.2 and No.3) were sent to APRO in Arizona and have been the subject of continuing analysis by various scientists. In the mid-1960s, Sample No.3 was loaned to the University of COLORADO UFO PROJECT for analysis. Dr. Roy Craig, a physical chemist, had it subjected to a neutron activation analysis at the National Office Laboratory, Alcohol and Tobacco Tax Division, Internal Revenue Service, which determined that its purity was not as high as that which had been reported in Brazil. The CONDON REPORT failed to mention, however, that high purity had only been reported for Sample No.1, which had been consumed in Brazil, and had not been available to the University of Colorado. The analysis also determined that the sample contained an unusual amount of strontium, an impurity not present in conventional magnesium. The sample was thus subjected to metallographic and micro-probe analyses at Dow Chemical's Metallurgical Laboratory, which confirmed the finding.

In 1969, APRO loaned the fragments to this writer, who conducted nondestructive structural analyses. It was found that the material had undergone a directional crystal growth type of manufacture. Directional crystallization can add strength to materials and was being actively researched at the time (1969). However, the process was unknown when the fragments were recovered (1957). Unfortunately, it was not possible to conclusively prove directional crystallization for the main structure from which the fragments came, due to their small size. These findings were validated by Dr. Robert W. Johnson, of the Advanced Materials Division, Materials Research Corporation, who reviewed the writer's analytic report.

The Ubatuba magnesium was reportedly submitted to laser impact studies at Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) in the early 197Os and to mass-spectrographic studies at Stanford University in the mid-197Os. No results are available.

Source: The Encyclopedia of UFOs, Ronald Story

Article ID: 835


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