Monday, October 8, 2007

Ultrasound and UFOs

Vibratory sensation and sound itself must have helped many early critters survive on this planet once life began to flourish. Yes, sight was an important factor, even with fundi allowing wide-screen vision to track predators. But what good would sight be if a Goopadidilosaurus born eons ago from the primordial soup, gazing upon a lush and tasty green forest, didn't feel the vibration or noise of the hungry Viperaslitherorex burrowing murderously up through the marsh, just below its vulnerable underbelly?

The sounds of thunder warned early humans of the approaching storms. The wolf's howl tips the pack off to potential dangers, a food source, or perhaps its howl sometimes exhibits itself merely as a howl for howl's sake, just to be heard. Sound. Even in literature, as in motion pictures inspired by literature, sound often plays an integral part in the story. The role of the conch in "The Lord of the Flies" comes to mind.

When sound ultimately became married to electricity and other forms of power, remarkable things happened. Sonar was developed for military use in submarines, and even fog could be cleared from formerly hazardous aircraft runways.

Today, the potential of sound seems limitless, its science firmly entrenched. now delineated in frequencies such as ultrasound and infrasound. In recent years, refrigerators operated by sound waves have been invented, and just a few months ago ultrasound units developed for battlefield use were seen to hasten the healing of war injuries. And while I personally don't know what to think about "crop circles" that seem truly mysterious (realizing, of course, that numerous known fakes and hoaxes prevail), there exists some rare but intriguing writing in that area suggestive of origin via sound waves, either ultrasound or infrasound.

In the 1960s, other than fog dispersal and early sonar experimentation, I don't believe anybody was doing much with sound, aside from enhancing the quality of Elvis or Beatles music rushing from the evolving speaker industry -- which probably acted as a springboard of sorts for sound's future variations.

However, even in this era of electrical sound's formative trials, there actually had been, for some years, a use of sound in medicine: The therapeutic ultrasound machine. Back then, they were heavy and cumbersome, transported on wheels. As of today, according to a news report I just heard, ultrasound units can weigh as little as two pounds (lbs.).

When I began working in Air Force physical therapy in 1968, I quickly became familiar with that cumbersome ultrasound unit on wheels, as they were used commonly in the clinics for relief of muscle spasms and pain. Now, you must consider how long ago this was and how much knowledge we had yet to gain. In some strange way that probably makes sense only to me, I like to draw a parallel with the Barney and Betty Hill (alleged) UFO abduction case, where Betty related that her alien abductors conducted a "pregnancy test" via insertion of a needle into her navel -- a seemingly wild claim for its time, unheard of in the medical community, yet a procedure that eventually became common internationally just a few years later with the label, amniocentesis.

Similarly, when I worked in a clinic using ultrasound for its healing properties in 1968, nobody had a clue that ultrasound waves would one day be harnessed to determine pregnancies and to diagnose fetal problems, lacking the high risk posed by x-rays, the only diagnostic tool available until sound waves entered the "picture." In fact, had anybody suggested this future use of ultrasound at that time, they might have been looked upon as crazy.

So maybe I was that kind of crazy, too, when I began taking a really close look at that ultrasound unit. I don't exactly know why I focused so intently upon ultrasound, because the clinic was also awash in machinery treating patients with microwave and shortwave diathermy energy -- and, as you may know, the potential relationship between microwave-type energy and UFO encounters frequently seems highly relevant. Yet, other authors have concentrated their efforts superbly on that theory, so I'll leave the microwave issue to them.

Besides, I'm no scientist. I'm just a writer, not even a great writer, but I can usually make a point when necessary. I assure you, had I been a scientist I would have inadvertently blown up the planet long ago. It would be something like, "Oh no! I accidentally mixed bleach and a bowl of Rice Krispies with Helium 3! We're doomed!" Yeah, I know, Helium 3 is still on the moon and we don't have any yet, but that's the dramatization I preferred just now, thank you.

Ultrasound, yes. So I thought long and hard about ultrasound's properties and I read the US machine manufacturer's instruction booklet cover to cover. UFO-related theories emerged. I made notes and then scribbled paragraphs and then by 1969-70 I knew I wanted to write an article. Dare I find the boldness to suggest something for The A.P.R.O. Bulletin, journal of the Aerial Phenomena Research Organization? And now that Project Blue Book was gone and Colorado University had banished forever the thought of UFOs being "real," could I now feel more comfortable about wearing the Air Force uniform openly while simultaneously writing something publicly about UFOs?

The answer was a resounding yes, and to my delight APRO was impressed. The article, ultimately entitled, "UFO Ultrasound: Key to Injuries," appeared in The A.P.R.O. Bulletin for March-April 1971 and elicited a good response. Former NASA scientist Paul R. Hill, in his 1995 book, Unconventional Flying Objects: A Scientific Analysis, found the ultrasound idea interesting, but rightfully took me to task on my assumptions regarding the medium used for sound wave propagation -- and I'm glad he did because, again, I'm no scientist and knowledgeable theory refinement is gratefully accepted.

Five years following the APRO publication, my very first national magazine article, essentially an expansion of the ultrasound piece, appeared in Official UFO (a great proponent of intriguing UFO literature that eventually went very, very bad once pure idiocy and fiction disguised as truth became the norm in its pages) of May, 1976. Miraculously, the article received "top billing" on the cover.

Today, I'll put up a few letters relating to the article and next time around I'll post the actual article as published by APRO. If I eventually find my original typed article, somewhat longer, I'll scan and feature that, too, though I've currently no idea where it might be.