Every once and a while something is dug up or discovered somewhere that seems to defy all attempts to understand it. These anomalous objects are poked, prodded, and studied, yet refuse to give up their answers, often sparking talk of aliens and extraterrestrial intelligences. One very well-known account of such an object was found by chance in the U.S. State of Florida by an unsuspecting family. A perfect sphere with various unusual properties, it has gone on to fuel talk of all manner of UFO theories and conspiracy rumors, and remains an enigma to this day.
One very intriguing and rather well-known artifact of possible alien origin was discovered on March 26,1974. A raging brush fire had swept through the 88-acre property of the Betz family, on Fort George Island, Florida, leaving a vast swath of burnt and blackened land behind. As Antoine and Jerri Betz, accompanied by their 21-year-old son Terry, surveyed the damage they came through a grove of trees that had been completely incinerated by the fire, yet sitting there in the middle of what would have been an inferno was a metallic sphere of some sort, approximately the size of a bowling ball, shining there in the sunlight and seemingly untouched and not affected in the least by the fire that had torn through. In fact, it was found to be completely smooth, polished, and without a single blemish upon it except for a small triangular shape carefully etched within the metal, and it was apparently without any scratch or scorch mark on it.
It was an incredibly odd thing to see sitting there all shiny and polished in the middle of all the charred and scorched earth, and the baffled family tried to figure out what it could possibly be. They considered that it may have been a downed satellite or something that had been dropped from a plane, but then why was there no sign of damage upon it at all? They then came to the conclusion that it was an old relic cannonball from some forgotten battle in centuries past, but the lack of any rust or signs of age didn’t seem to fit. Curious, they loaded it into their truck and hauled it back to their home to take a better look, and this is when things would get even more bizarre.
The odd sphere was soon found to have some very peculiar properties. The first clue to this was when Terry was in the same room as the sphere one day while practicing the guitar. As he played he became aware that the metal sphere seemed to be reacting somehow to the music, throbbing in tune to the beat and emitting a vibrating sound not unlike a tuning fork. Even when the sounds stopped the family dog refused to go anywhere near it, suggesting that there were still sub-audible sounds emanating from within it. They decided to keep a closer eye on the sphere, and soon noticed that it seemed to occasionally emit these thrumming hums on its own, and that it was more active on sunny days, leading them to think that it was somehow solar powered. They also accidentally discovered that it could roll around on its own and guide itself, often turning around to make its way back to whoever pushed it and able to roll on without aid for long periods of time. It seemed to react to different situations and almost have a mind of its own, leaving the whole family and anyone they showed it to in awe. This was increasingly obviously no 16th century cannonball.
Considering that the Betz family would supposedly often show off the sphere to family and neighbors, it is perhaps no surprise that word began to get out on its strange properties. Journalists began showing up to snoop around, and some of them were able to see some of the phenomena for themselves. One was a photographer from the Jacksonville Journal, who went to the residence and apparently saw the mysterious sphere in action, writing of it:
It rolled a ways then stopped. So what? She said, ‘Just wait a minute.’ It turned by itself and rolled to the right about four feet. It stopped. Then it turned again and rolled to the left about eight feet, made a big arc and came right back to my feet.
At around this time the sphere began to escalate its strange phenomena, causing other objects to move or doors to slam around the house, as well as producing loud music that sounded as if it were coming from an organ. More people came in to investigate, and before long it had even attracted the attention of government organizations such as NASA, the U.S. Navy, and the the Arial Phenomena Research Organization. The Navy purportedly examined the sphere and did tests and X-rays on it, proclaiming that it was not anything they had ever seen before and that it seemed to be made of an incredibly dense, absurdly heat resistant form of stainless steel, with two other objects somewhere within its hollow frame surrounded by a halo made of material that had an unusual density, as well as a total of two negative and two positive poles. A researcher named Carl Wilson found that the ball exhibited strange magnetic characteristics and even seemed to be putting out some sort of signal, even going as far as to say that it possessed certain properties that seemed to defy physics and that it was not made of steel at all. Another named J. A. Harder concluded that there were elements within the sphere that were unknown.
After this the odd trajectory of the sphere becomes unclear, the story slowly fading away from the media blitz it had enjoyed and its location sinking into obscurity, and we are left with the question of what this ball was and what happened to it. There have been theories ranging from the rational to the more fringe. The rational explanation is that this was a misidentified component of a satellite or an otherwise manmade construction such as a piece of industrial machinery such as a ball valve, but how would this explain its strange behavior and properties? One ball valve manufacturer was nevertheless reasonably sure that it was just a ball valve, saying of the “Betz Sphere”:
I’m not saying that this thing didn’t come from outer space because I’ve never seen it. All I’m saying is that the physical description of it matches exactly the type of ball we have in stock.
Others say that the analyses done would have immediately determined whether it was manmade or not, but that they failed to conclusively come to this conclusion, suggesting that it was something else, perhaps something alien in origin. Yet looking through the Navy records on the case it seems this may have been exaggerated somewhat by the media, as one Navy spokesman is on record having said of the ball’s purported strange ability to rove about on its own:
I believe it’s because of the construction of the house… It’s old and has uneven stone floors. The ball is almost perfectly balanced, and it takes just a little indentation to make it move or change direction.
So what are we to believe? What was this thing? It seems this story has been muddied, twisted, and warped through retellings and a clear lack of information, leaving us merely scratching or heads. Perhaps an even more important question we should be asking ourselves is just where did this thing go? It was all over the news for a time and then just disappears? How can that be? Conspiracy theories say that the military or NASA had it whisked away, while others say the family got tired of all of the attention and hid it away from the world, but we really have no idea what the truth is. In the end the only way to know whether this was truly some sort of alien probe or piece of technology would be to study that sphere, and that seems to not be happening any time soon. Whatever it was, the Betz Sphere will likely remain a mystery for a long time to come.