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Open Letter to the Skeptics by Jean-Jacques Velasco of SEPRA

UFOs at Close Sight / Sciences Frontières, N. 29

original source |  fair use notice

Summary: A certain number of observations of UFO which were the subject of thorough investigations remain unexplained. By sharing his opinions on this complex matter, Jean-Jacques Velasco, director of the SEPRA, raises this question: Why are sciences known as "exact" not interested in studying UFOs, and why were the studies started in the years 70-80 stopped?

Jean-Jacques Velasco ,  Ph.D.

author's bio

[The following article was published in the N.29 of the "Sciences Frontières" French magazine. Thanks to Philippe Huleux for the posting.]

By Jean-Jacques VELASCO.

Will the light shine out someday on the question of the unidentified aerospace phenomena, the UFO, will we escape from the eternal discusses on the belief? To avoid that after a period rich in events, after the polemic around the Roswell case, I wish through this article to contribute to this debate starting from a meeting on this question which goes up with more than 20 years, and starting from my professional experience within an organization of studies and search in the field of space, the CNES. One discoursed much on the UFO, much too undoubtedly so that too many persons, at the simple evocation of this term does not react and does not think immediately of extraterrestrial or with the phantasms and others be delirious collective. It seems convenient to me, as the polemics calmed down, to speak to those who have the open mind, the curious by nature, who wish to be informed objectively, without a priori, on this subject too often loan of controversies. I want this step to be rational and pragmatic, it will undoubtedly not answer all the interrogations, nor all the expectations, it will have however the merit to tackle the question of the UFO under the single angle of the analysis of the facts. I invite the reader with this course and as so precisely said it Karl Popper, a philosopher of sciences, "there are no unworthy subjects in sciences, there are sometimes unworthy methods."

"This intimate relation with the sky played a fundamental role in the philosophical debates by creating beliefs like ways of thinking and common rules. "The field of the skies always fascinated the spirit and human curiosity by its dimension and its mystery. If the question of the UFO evokes a relationship with the sky and overall to space, it is probably that somewhere this link exists, and that it is necessary for us, failing to comprehend it, to try to seek it at least. This reference to the sky returns unceasingly, including in the past when many texts mentionned the observation of strange and mysterious phenomenon. Already the reference to the sky is permanent in the Bible, then at the gallo-roman period with the story of the burning shields which frightened the centurions, or even with the celestial wonders of the Middle Ages. During centuries, this intimate relation with the sky played a fundamental role in the philosophical debates. If the genius of Galileo, Copernic, Kepler and other Newton, had not enlightened our minds, by locating the ground and humanity in his true dimension and relation with the universe, we would be still to admit the world order according to dogmas in progress. Not so long ago, at the end of the last century, many of the astronomers of the time including the most eminent, Flammarion, Percival Lowel or Schiaparrelli, affirmed that there was life on the planet Mars. Artificial channels had been observed there, and a drawn up cartography proved that beings lived it!

Nobody doubted that and a whole popular literature, written by the best writers of the time, Jules Vernes or H.G. Wells, ignited the minds by accounts on Selenites and other Martians. It was however necessary wait the middle of the 20th century, with the Martian probes Viking in 1974 and 1975, to note that unfortunately, the planet Mars did not conceal any life on the surface and even less the presence of Martians.

Some think that today, with the techniques of monitoring of the sky and space at our disposal, optical telescopes terrestrial, radars, and more recently with true observatories in orbit as the telescope Hubble, it should not any more y have much place for mysterious or unknown phenomena. On the basis of there, it will be easier to make conceal the noises and rumors propagated on the presence of strange objects evolving/moving in the sky, with all the myths which are attached to it. In spite of that, the figures and many official documents attest it, there are always people, including experienced professionals like pilots, who observe and report observations on gleams curious or the presence about odd objects in the sky, and that even apparently accelerated since the period post-second world war!

It is indeed in 1947 that the public took note of the first modern observations of UFO brought back by qualified observers, more precisely that of a civil pilot, K. Arnold, which it first described the evolution of strange aircraft flying in formation above the Rainier mount in the sky of the Western North of the United States. Fifty years after, with the passing of time, one can legitimately wonder as the sociologist P. Lagrange about the fact of knowing if this " wave " of observation were not related to one particular period of the history, that of the cold war. With less than, for strategic and interior reasons, the American government of the time "did not invent" the "flying saucers" to create and maintain a climate psychosis among the populations. For the authorities, these stories of "flying saucers" could not be anything else than invaders coming from the East or hoaxes from illuminated like Adamski. To tell the truth, it was very difficult to form an opinion, because the reported facts often did not rest on accounts and visual testimonies, and unfortunately were only based too seldom on reliable data and objectify, photographs, recording radars, etc, which it was not possible to interpret correctly. A few years later, when the "flying saucers" were transformed into UFO, theories appeared according to which the appearances of UFO could be only the fruit of imagination, collective hallucinations, or daydreams of which reading of the fanzines or other accounts of science - fiction were the source.

Today the phenomenon UFO became in the USA a true phenomenon of company, becoming such extensive, which it does not occur a week without the topicality not seizing any and does not evoke the aspects more confusing and spectacular topic. enthusiasm that the scenario writers of Hollywood have made a big profit lately with some production like "Independence Day", "Mars Attack", or " Men in black " which put in scene, in all the situation, the report between the extraterrestrial and the human. One intends to speak about contacts and removals ("abductees") a little everywhere, and it is an even question in extreme cases of biological taking away by extraterrestrial entities. In the same way, we had right during the passage of the comet Hale Bopp, with a sect which benefitted from the occasion to carry out a collective suicide and to find the refuge eternal in the tail of comet! The journalists, the scenario writers, the advertising executives, the philosophers, the politicians, use and misuse this topic permanently, but rather curiously the scientists, more especially those of " exact " sciences, are absent.

One can put the question about such an absence? Would not be - this step that this subject is far too sulfurous and polemic and permanently polluted by an exploitation mercantile and noisy? **time-out** the director of review " The Search ", in a emission on the UFO in March 1996, reflect it not thus the opinion of scientific circles in claiming that the subject of UFO is only a pleasant entertainment, and not a question touch with field scientific... " In the same way one can note as the debate of opinion was confiscated in the United States, by the political and military authorities, while taking refuge behind sedentary considerations, this attitude making believe that these demonstrations represented a danger to the populations. To take refuge thus behind the secrecy of state also made it possible to throw discredit upon the people who wanted to make it emerge. **time-out** this have have for consequence to withdraw with citizen the right to be inform, create thus a climate of mistrust, even in certain case of paranoia, which himself be seize of group of enthusiastic which see everywhere himself install a conspiracy of silence die that it be make mention of UFO by a authority governmental unspecified. To leave this dead end, shouldn't one take a little retreat, return towards more reason and a little less passion while turning to " exact " sciences? It would be time to put the true questions, initially to know if these famous phenomena answer truly the criteria of a scientific study. The UFO would then exceed the stage of the simple ideological and sociological debate to re-enter finally in that of the scientific field. The history of sciences shows us that that is possible with the discovery of the origin of the meteorites. Before 1806, no scientific authority admitted that stones can originate in the sky! One needed an investigation, conducted by the Academy of Science, in Aigle, small locality of the department of the Orne, so that it is admitted that there were really stones which fell from the sky. Why would not be it in the same way today a few two centuries afterwards with the UFO, knowing that with the methods and average the techniques and instrumental at our disposal, we could quickly check if these phenomena really exist. Which enthralling and interesting challenge for search and knowledge, but the scientists would be they ready to raise it?

It would be false to say that the UFO never were the subject of serious scientific studies. Some thousand of work in the world whole it attest, which be very often the work of researcher or of scientist isolated, and which have give place with some publication of good level in some many field touch with discipline the more various like: propulsion, energy, human psychology, theoretical physics, etc.

Unfortunately this work, whose some of great quality, did not have the merit and the chance of beings published in scientific reviews of prestige, which in tiny room considerably the range. Some states undertook very officially, generally under cover of the armed forces, a study of the problem, to start with the United States in 1969. A scientific commission of study, on the initiative of the Air Force, was created under the direction of professor E. Condon, a physicist, and who during three years considered the subject. They are the information collected, during 30 year old meadows by the Air Force; within the framework of the "Bluebook " which was used as a basis at this committee. The commission in its conclusions " does not find interest to engage a scientific research program constant in the duration ", and this adverse opinion, a such chopper, enclosed definitively and officially closed the case in this country.

Some scientists however wanted to take up the challenge and to continue this task on a purely private or personal basis. Some of them like the professor A. Hyneck, a astronomer which be advise some USAF during more than de twenty year, call publicly into question the conclusion of this commission and militate until its death, in 1986, to provide the first foundation serious of a study scientific of phenomenon UFO. **time-out** its contribution and large merit, from a data file de données made up of several thousand of case of observation, supplement by all a series of investigation on the ground, be to show that the materiality physical of certain phenomenon be not in agreement with some demonstration natural or artificial known.

Unfortunately, the scientific community did not resume on its account its work which fell into the lapse of memory. Nevertheless a little more late, some other researcher, some engineer, physicist for the majority, such as J.M. Mc Campbell in United States, the professor A. Messeen in Belgium or C Poher, J. Valley or J.P. Small in France, have continue in this way and contribute to carry the subject on the ground scientific. In spite of that, the study of phenomenon UFO in have be reduce with marginality, the more so as the catch of position of some among them incite hardly this same community scientific to take the problem with serious. During this time, the observations continued beings announced throughout the world...

It is partly to come out of this situation, that to France in 1974, an institution, the IHEDN, decided to examine this file. Following its report/ratio, the government asked the CNES to set up a cell of permanent study of the phenomenon UFO. The GEPAN was created in May 1977 and began its first work under the cane of Claude Poher, engineer in aeronautics and space, which was at that time head of " division rocket probes ". Neither board of inquiry, nor civil or military governmental office, the GEPAN under the directives of an independent scientific consulting, accepted for mission of examining and of bringing the maximum of answers on this thorny question of the UFO.

The first stages of the work of the GEPAN consisted to define the field of study, to work out a scientific methodology and to set up the procedures and tools of intervention for the teams of investigation. In same time, the GEPAN established collaborations with the national gendarmerie, the font, the Air Force and the civil aviation to collect and process the data. Having the files and first data collected by this channel, a statistical work made it possible to work out a classification and a typology of the studied phenomena. This work confirmed the results of the Ruppelt captain, director of the ATIC within USAF, going back to 1952, like those of professor A. Hyneck on the characteristic and the physical component of certain demonstrations. These observations were in addition checked by the examination of a certain number of old cases which revealed a whole category of phenomena whose nature and characteristics physical, did not seem to be assimilable with known or identifiable events.

Within sight of these first results, the scientific consulting asked the GEPAN to concentrate its action on investigations and cases recent. Moreover, it was assigned to him to undertake more fundamental search, conduits in civil or military laboratories, for better determining certain aspects related to these demonstrations in fields such as the psychology of perception for the analysis of testimonies, or the evaluation of the influence of the processes of diffusion of information in and by the media, but also to look further into particular categories of weather phenomena such as the lightning in ball, and to engage of the more specific studies on modeling in physics like that of the magnetohydrodynamic propulsion, etc.; In 1988 the GEPAN was transformed into SEPRA, because the CNES and the scientific consulting while wishing the continuation of its activities of expertise and data acquisition, stopped those related to the studies and search more fundamental which did not answer the vocation of the establishment. Curiously during this period, few events occurred, the rare phenomena of width corresponded most of the time to atmospheric re-entries, racing cars like the meteorites or well to the artificial put into orbit objects, body of rockets, satellites, these examples fitting completely in the activity of expertise on the CNES as regards monitoring of space and the space remains. Spectacular cases were going in addition perfectly to justify the choice of this transformation.

What occurred in the evening from November the 05, 1990 will undoubtedly remain forever engraved in the memory of those having attended this strange and mysterious event. For the ones it was an immense luminous triangle and silencer which crossed during 2 minutes the sky of France of West and Is, for others funny of plane which flew over it capital! In short they are thousands of observers which remained amazed by this strange spectacle. It is more than 250 verbal lawsuits of gendarmerie and font, representing several hundreds of testimonies as well as many reports/ratios of civil pilots and soldiers in flight, who attested reality of this event. **time-out** the investigation immediately start we allow a few hour after, thanks to stepping carry out between the testimony and the data receive on behalf of NASA, to determine with precision that it himself act, without no ambiguity, of re-entry in the atmosphere of a body of rocket which have place on orbit some time before a telecommunications satellite Soviet GORIZON 21.

I would like to denounce here an error of judgment, which seems to me fundamental, and which make the majority of the commentators, this one consisting in proposing like single answer on the nature of the UFO, which those are only the fruit of the imagination of the witnesses. This too reducing approach neither was drawn aside, nor privileged in the analysis of the problem, but considered as working hypothesis and examined with the methods and tools developed by scientists in analysis of testimonies. This is why one cannot admit that there is only one answer to the question about the UFO with the only arguments resting on sociological or psychosociological considerations of nature. If the topics conveyed in the famous televised series worship X Files, which appears regularly on our small screens, were as influential and determinants as claim it the socio - psychological and the folklorists, should be permanently flooded for us testimonies. In fact it appears within sight of the some three thousand files and reports/ratios of gendarmerie of SIDE examined to the GEPAN, then with the SEPRA, that no case falls under this theoretical diagram. Just as between the phenomenon UFO and parapsychology, we did not find any link nor unspecified report/ratio. This fact I cannot that to deplore the amalgam and the confusion which generally associates with the category of the phenomena paranormaux and parapsychologic the phenomenon UFO, in addition making the treat of the dream and illusion mongers near the too credulous spirits.

The only way of clearly showing and truly with what can resemble the phenomena UFO, it is to present remarkable cases investigués by the GEPAN and the SEPRA after analysis not having received of answer on their identification. Two businesses in very different registers illustrate it clearly. The first describes what one calls a case of brought closer meeting and the second an aeronautical case visuel/radar. They correspond both to the presence of physical objects, of which characteristics and parameters were measured and recorded by an instrument, either directly or according to the " indirect effects " that they generated on the environment. Trans en Provence, the 8 February 1981 around 17 hour a man which build a small waterpump shelter, in its garden, go be pilot of what be perhaps one of case the more strange never observe and study in France. It is a reflection of the sun on something which evolved/moved in the sky which will attract its glance and will enable him to observe the descent, then the brutal landing, on a quay level below located its house, of a quiet metal object. This one of ovoid form, did not present any apparent asperity, wing, control surface or engine making it possible to compare it to an unspecified aircraft. This object will remain some urgent briefs on the platform, always by not emitting any noise, then it will take off and disappear at a speed very high in the blue sky. This account altogether rather banal could stop only with this simple visual observation, if there had been traces and mechanical prints visible which will make rock this business in the field of the unknown and the unexplained one. **time-out** the gendarmerie then the GEPAN carry out a investigation thorough during which of many maintenance with the witness, its vicinity, then the setting in work of procedure of expertise on the ground with of soil samples and of plant, follow of analysis show unambiguous that it himself act really of a object metal heavy, not identify, which himself be pose on the terrace. It is the analysis of the plants taken on the site which will indicate that we were not in the presence of a type of aircraft including known military helicopters or drones, hypotheses adopted and checked. The vegetation presents on the site of landing, the wild shape of alfalfa, was deeply marked and affected by an external agent which modified in-depth the photosynthetic apparatus of the plant. Indeed chlorophyls, but also certain amino acids of the plant presented significant variations of rate in relation to the distance. Two years afterwards, these same effects disappeared completely thus revealing a specific and particular type from traumatism.

According to the professor Mr. Bounias, some laboratory of ecology and of toxicology vegetable of INRA, which carry out the analysis, the cause of deep disturbance record on the vegetation present on this ecosystem, can probably be due with a powerful field electromagnetic, more precisely locate in the range of frequency (microwave). To date, of the studies and search always continue on this business where many tracks were explored. None of them could satisfy the whole of the conditions which would enable us to identify with certainty the object which arose for Trans in Provence on February 08, 1981 and even less to determine the origin of it.

Many people think that there are undoubtedly very little cases of observation of UFO in the world which can justify the interest of the authorities to consider a permanent study or quite simply to set up a systematic monitoring of the sky. By consulting the files and official and deprived existing documentation, we realize opposite: there is an abundance of strange demonstrations which proceed in the sky whose were pilot in attentive observers the civil pilots and soldiers alone or in formation, like that of K Arnorld in 1947, until those describing of the evolutions much more complex with effects noted on the planes and sometimes on the ground; interferences and jamings radio operator or radars, disturbances in the instruments of navigation, even in certain cases of the physical or physiological demonstrations noted on the members of crew (heat, blindness etc.)

The analysis of some case show thus, with level world since 1942, date of first testimony aeronautical that on the some hundred of case recognize and authenticate by the authority, as that of report of book blue count by the Air Force de.l' air American between 1947 and 1968, for 20% among them, the observation visual be the fact of several observer with edge, and corroborate by radar with ground or and with edge.

With regard to France, it was brought to our attention by the civil authorities and soldiers ten aeronautical old cases of UFO, i.e. answering the identifying information not- after investigation of the authorities concerned. Since the creation of the GEPAN, and the installation of systematic procedures of the collection of testimonies, 40 air cards were transmitted by the civil aviation. Among these phenomena, only 3 or 4 of them can be regarded as pertaining to the category of the phenomena not identified after checking and simultaneous investigation of the civil authorities and military.

Finally only one case radar/visuel appraised can be truly recognized like UFO. It is this type of case which will serve to us as second example to show the obviousness and the physical reality of the phenomena UFO. **time-out** these case have all the more some value that the actor, the pilot and member of crew, bring all guarantee in their testimony so much by their competence than by their knowledge of medium aerospace they ensure of responsibility significant when they transport some passenger, or ensure the security of nation with command of fighter de chasse. This confers to them, consequently, a high degree of credibility.

Vertical of Paris, January 28, 1994, the flight Nice London 3532 of Air France carries out a way without problem at an altitude of cruising of 11200 meters. The steward present in the cabin alerts the copilot and the commander that there is funny right "balloon" in front of the apparatus! **time-out** it be 13 hour 12 minute and the " balloon " in question himself locate with 25 mile nautical (with little meadow 40 kilometer) of plane, a little above of a thick layer of viola cumulus with approximately 10000 meter of altitude. The plane carries on its road, maintains its course, and approaches the " balloon " which will not modify at any time its trajectory and will disappear on the left from the apparatus a few moments after a strange manner. The crew will note indeed that contours of the object will become gradually fuzzy and that it will disappear practically on the spot. Air control will require of the crew, as it is the rule, to make a deposition near the civil aeronautics authorities and military. This observation could appear alleviating and banal if the elements of trajectory and descriptions of the phenomenon had made it possible to establish its identification, but it will not be the case. The checks carried out near the control of civil and military air transport will not enable us to retain the presence of a weather balloon or that of civil aircraft or military, stealth prototype included/understood, but well that of a physically unknown object. It is the strangeness of the form, lenticular of dark red color, without apparent details, wing, control surface or engines and especially its dimension which seemed enormous - estimated at 1000 meters! - but which after calculation and checking of the positions and the apparent diameters will be brought back between 250 and 300 meters, which will disturb more the crew.

The interest of this case be reinforce by the fact that simultaneously with observation visual, the radar of monitoring air have record certain parameter of evolution of this object, in particular the speed which be constant and lower A 200km/h, what can return incompatible the presence of a aircraft traditional of this size and of this form. The disappearance of the object will be noted simultaneously by the crew like on the radarscopes and will remain a mystery. With the present stage of the investigations carried out near the various civil organizations and implied soldiers, it appears that there was observation well and simultaneous detection radar of a physical object not identified evolving/moving during 50 seconds above the Paris area This case is until now single in its kind in France. **time-out** it allow of show that the chain of acquisition of information and of processing of data A perfectly function for provide of element which allow of show the reality and the existence of object physics of nature still unknown factor in our sky. This case could never reproduce, but with the difference in certain numbers of former businesses of UFO listed in the world, this one recent and is recognized by the civil authorities and military of our country.

More the skeptics of our rationalists can point out that only one case does not mean large thing in comparison with the criteria of scientific analysis. However, like the cases of brought closer observation such that the Trans ones in Provence, they come to be added to very many others with the four corners of the world. Somebody said " the absence of proof does not mean the proof of the absence. " In any case, starting from these examples, one will not be able to say any more with regard to the UFO which it is not absolutely necessary of rumors, hallucinations or invention. It would be time not to more neglect the interest to study these phenomena. In the past, examples of singular events, sometimes of single facts, opened unsuspected horizons which upset our companies. The involuntary experimentation of Becquerel, which left one night to the bottom of a drawer a piece of pitchblende (uranium ore containing ') on a photographic plate, is the obvious demonstration. The continuation showed that this innocent error gave access the atomic era!

At the beginning of this article, I positioned the debate on the question of the UFO on the level of the obviousness of the phenomenon by the proof, the physical proof of course since the scientists want to intend to speak only about it. For that, the intellectual requirement passes by the objective examination of facts which can beings attested and checked only by instrumental and repetitive measurement in time. However the fact of stopping at the simple stage of the report and the investigations is insufficient, even if those are carried out with rigour and method. In the same way it appears as if the phenomenon UFO presents an aggressive or dangerous character for the populations, that can be only in the spirits, and only of sociological or spiritual nature. For my part, it appears significant to to me to continue and amplify the work undertaken in France on this subject. **time-out** that pass by the improvement of means of data acquisition, in particular of instrument de measuring optical and radar of monitoring of space and the engagement of true program of research multi-field civil and military. **time-out** indeed, if the phenomenon UFO be physical, and it seem that it be the case, that it himself reproduce in the time and that its character universal be show, it there have then require to it apprehend with effectiveness, to put in place a collection systematic of information, in it widen, initially, with scale of Europe and why not, with that of planet very whole. AT the stage of the analysis and interpretations suggested, it is undoubtedly still too early to affirm anything; however scientists who put forth assumptions and suggest interpretations on the UFO could find brief replies in the work already carried out in France.

For example the studies and search which was already committed in the field of modelings in magnetohydrodynamics, could beings continued and amplified. For that, only a scientific multi-field co-operation and especially the will to act will make it possible to create the conditions necessary to finally bore the nature of these mysterious phenomena UFO in an ultimate stage, we will perhaps reach their true nature and, why not, a day discover their origin that of aucuns place side of stars.

Copyright Jean-Jacques VELASCO.

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