Linda Moulton Howe published on her website excerpts from a report about burns on a bedsheet given to her as evidence of an alleged alien abduction in Brazil. The scientist who made this report, Phyllis Budinger, offers this statement about the use made of her report. She does not feel that her opinion of the marks she analyzed was presented in a manner that represented it accurately.
June 9, 2003
To The UFO Community
On 6/6/2003 Earthfiles.com presented a 4-part report on the scientific analysis of samples resulting from the controversial Corguinho, Brazil purported abduction. I spent considerable time analyzing samples from this event. Clearly, the Earthfiles report necessitates a response from myself.
Phyllis A. Budinger Analytical Scientist
Response to 6/6/03 Earthfiles Report on the Scientific Analysis of Samples Related to the Corguinho, Brazil Event by Phyllis Budinger, Analytical Scientist
June 7, 2003
My purpose here is to comment on the recent Earthfiles website report regarding the scientific analyses of samples from the alleged Corguinho, Brazil abduction. The Earthfiles report is in four parts, but only portions of my 40-page final report on the analyses of samples of bedding and stone samples were included.
I am an analytical chemist with 35 years experience as a problem-solver in the petroleum industry, now retired. I have a B.S. (Baldwin-Wallace College, 1961) and an M.S. (Miami University, 1964) in chemistry. Because of my analytical capability and technical skills my position at a large petroleum company involved overseeing many other chemists' work. I headed up the infrared spectroscopy group and, at one point, also supervised the X-ray diffraction area. I retired at the rank of "Research Scientist," at a more advanced grade-level than that achieved by the majority of PhDs.
Once retired, in addition to other projects I decided to use my analytical skills in the evaluation of physical traces related to the UFO phenomenon. I set up a professional laboratory for this purpose. Having noted that a solid analytical approach was often lacking in the evaluation of many of the UFO physical- trace cases, it was my hope to contribute some solid information which might aid in unraveling at least part of the UFO mystery.
Generally, I am not paid for my UFO-related work. I do receive income from some projects, but usually only enough to cover costs. I also do contract work for various industries, which income covers most of my overhead. The point I wish to make here is that my work in the UFO and related fields is motivated by scientific curiosity and my sincere desire to understand whatever it is that is going on.
The recent report on the Corguinho, Brazil samples took about a month's work. On this case I consulted with five professional polymer chemists, four of whom are PhDs. (Over the years I have amassed a contact list of many professionals with a wide variety of scientific disciplines which have proved very valuable to me in many of my analyses of physical traces relating to the UFO phenomenon.) For the Corguinho, Brazil analysis, I created an internet chat line and called for input and recommendations from these polymer chemists. The total experience represented by these people is roughly 175 years. If you add my own professional experience this comes to roughly 210 years. This extensive professional skill base was applied to the analyses of the Corguinho, Brazil samples.
The 6/6/03 Earthfiles report presents primarily results obtained by Ms. Howe's consultations with others than myself. In professional scientific analyses multiple consultations, so long as they are obtained from competent personnel, are highly advisable and in fact I suggested that Ms. Howe do so in this case both by phone and in conclusion 5 of my report. The reason additional examinations should be done is that, as scientific knowledge increases so, by necessity, does specialization, and each specialist is likely to offer different backgrounds, experience and skills. This approach has been a critical part of my professional training, and application of this principal is one of the reasons I rose to such a high level in my career.
However, it is customary to share whatever information is forthcoming from each of various consultants amongst all of those working on any particular project--both to avoid duplication of effort (and wasted professional time) and to facilitate a common understanding of the facts. In all professional situations in my experience, this transmittal of various consulting opinions is always carried out prior to the presentation of any final public report. However, in this case I was not afforded this courtesy and was not informed regarding the opinions of Ms. Howe's textile consultant. Unfortunately, I feel this failure has tarnished Prof. Barndt's credibility unnecessarily.
After all the analyses I did, and my current evaluation of the recent Earthfiles report, I am of the opinion that no real evidence of an alien abduction has been presented. Nor, based on the samples presented for analyses, has such a conclusion been ruled out. Let me take each part of the Earthfiles report and make some comments.
Earthfiles, Part 1:
This part deals with the analysis of the bedding, and there are two points I would like to address. I have to start with the fact that I found that most of the bedding (e.g. sheet and pillow covering) is made of a polyester (specifically polyethylene terephthalate, or "PET") cross-woven with cotton. The Corguinho sheet image visually appears to consist of what I call burned areas and halo-like areas. In Conclusion 3 of my report I noted the following:
3.) An observation that the halo area of the sheet consists of melted PET and undegraded cotton is not an anomaly, though it is noted PET has a melting range between 250-265=B0C (482- 509 =B0F) and cotton degrades at 148=B0C (298 =B0F). This can be explained by the differences in rates of heat conduction (Thermal Conductivity) of these materials. PET (0.28 W/m*K) conducts heat about ten times faster than cotton (0.029 W/m*K). Therefore, a fast burst of heat (above the melting point of PET) would melt the PET but not degrade the cotton. This was experimentally accomplished with an iron on the control sheet swath by this laboratory.
Regarding this conclusion, Earthfiles reports that the director of a major textile research lab, Prof. Barndt, disputes my statement (Earthfiles here used the word "assumption") that PET conducts heat ten times faster than cotton. This matter is addressed below.
To see if I could replicate the melting of polyester while leaving the cotton unburned, I pressed a fragment of the control swath from the Corguinho sheet with an iron at high temperature. I sent these pieces to biophysicist W. C. Levengood. Levengood observed that the reverse side of my experimental swath looked different than the reverse side of the Corguinho samples. Ms. Howe also notes that the polyester is flattened out in my experimental samples and indicates this does not compare to the polyester melt in the Corguinho sheet, which appears neatly contained and rounded, and not flattened. I respond to these statements, below, also.
P.A. Budinger's Remarks re Earthfiles, Part 1:
PET polyester does conduct heat faster than cotton. This is not an assumption. This is fact! Thermal Conductivity values (included in my report) are indisputable--they are measured physical constants. (Thermal conductivity is a measure of the rate at which a material transmits heat.) Clearly a value of 0.280 for PET of 0.029 for cotton shows that the PET transmits heat faster. And my sources for these values are referenced in my report. Furthermore, the polymer chemists I consulted concur with me. One said: This is a solid explanation.
Finally, let me add a comment for readers without a technical background, to help illustrate the above. Suppose you have a casserole in the oven at 350 degrees and want to take it out. You have two sets of gloves. One pair is made of cotton, and the other made of polyester. Which would you use Of course, you would use the cotton, because it insulates better against the heat. That is, it does not transmit heat as fast as polyester. Did you ever wonder why most pot-holders are made of cotton It s an insulator. Hawley s Chemical Dictionary reports one of cotton s many uses is as an insulator.
I don't know Prof. Barndt, the Director of the Grundy Testing Laboratory at the School of Textiles and Materials Technology in Philadelphia, the "textile expert" whose comments are presented by Earthfiles and, so, cannot comment on his expertise. But regardless of his academic position he is, here, in error regarding the rate of heat transference of polyester versus cotton. I would like to see his written report (with references) showing where he garnered this knowledge. I assume he will present such a report for all of us to see
Here is another of Prof. Barndt's errors. Ms. Howe called me after she had received my written report and said that the textile man" says "you are wrong about the pillow composition." [As previously noted, I had reported that it was comprised of strands of pure polyester cross-woven with strands of pure cotton.] This "textile man" stated instead that the pillow was a polyester/cotton blend (i.e., that each of the fiber stands was composed of a mix of polyester and cotton, rather than a weave of cotton and polyester strands). I was amazed that this deduction came from a "textile man" and absolutely disagreed, because my microscope photographs clearly show the random, disoriented fibers typical of cotton strands going in one direction, and the well-oriented, aligned fibers of the polyester going in the other direction (see my report). Conclusive proof that the material was a weave was provided by my infrared analysis. Several spectra were taken of the fibers going in both directions and these spectra show pure cotton going in one direction and pure polyester going in the other direction, (Infrared analysis for identification of molecules is essentially akin to DNA for identification of people.) There were no spectra typical of a blend. Prof. Barndt subsequently realized his mistake, as indicated by Ms. Howe s Email of May 13, 2003 to me, which follows.
You were right about your infrared analysis of the pillowcase being cotton and polyester cross woven. Prof. Barndt, who originally thought it was a polyester and cotton fiber blend because it does have a much finer structure than the bed sheet, examined it today under his own magnifier. So, your confidence in infrared identifications is deserved! -)
However, for me, this error immediately raised a red flag regarding his credibility and/or insight into the Corguinho bedding examination.
Next I would like to address the observations regarding the appearance of my iron experiment control sheet swath versus the imaged swath. Of course the pressure of the iron flattened the melted polyester! This is correct. My iron experiment was done merely to demonstrate that you could melt the polyester and leave the cotton intact (even though cotton degrades at lower temperatures than polyester melts). And that you could do this with a quick burst of heat. The iron was not selected to suggest that an iron was the source of the heat but simply to demonstrate or approximate the amount of heat required and the ease of finding a source of such heat. In fact, I saw that an iron could not have been the heat source as I did my experiment, because it was obvious when examining the burned cotton in the Brazil sample that it had been subjected to a temperature beyond the capabilities of the iron.
Nick Reiter, the SEM/EDS technician who also examined these samples tried the same sort of experiment, using a soldering iron as his source of heat. Again, this was his most convenient heat source, and not one chosen to suggest it as the actual heat source which had impacted the samples. And nowhere in our report do I suggest either the iron or the soldering iron as possible heat sources for the Brazil samples. These were good experiments--and the same approach was repeated again, to overkill, by Prof. Barndt, producing the same results as those obtained by Mr. Reiter and myself.
Earthfiles, Part 2:
This section of the Earthfiles report focuses on Prof. Barndt's attempt to duplicate the Corguinho sheet anomalies. Barndt used a blowtorch at 1500F on wet controls from the sheet (Urandir, the alleged abductee, had taken a shower before lying down, and Barndt therefore assumed that moisture would have been present on the sheet). Photographs of this experiment are shown. He did not reproduce the exact effect as viewed on the sheet, and states he doesn t know what heat source caused the effect. He wonders why the Corguinho sheet did not ignite and burn during it s the formation of its curious impression, and speculates it was moisture or something else. He reiterates details which Ms. Howe dwells upon in Part 1 of the Earthfiles report, details which I have already clarified.
Additionally, there is a microphotograph of a tiny piece of the mattress cover which appears to have a missing vertical thread and three melted horizontal polyester bead melts right where the vertical thread should have been. None of the other polyester fibers on this sample appear to be affected. Earthfiles suggests that this indicates that a pinpoint source of heat, like a laser, may have caused this effect. Please observe the photograph in the Earthfiles website, http://www.earthfiles.com/news/news.cfm ID=3D540&category=3DScience.
P.A. Budinger's Remarks re Earthfiles, Part 2:
First I'd like to comment on Prof. Barndt's experiment. Essentially he repeated what both Mr. Reiter and I had already done with a hot iron and soldering iron. It is my opinion that the use of temperatures in the range of 1500F was rather high and not very realistic, because polyester degrades rapidly at 1500F. My analysis of the bedsheet samples showed the polyester had melted, but it did not degrade even in the most darkened areas of the sheet. So, it was my judgment that whatever source produced the quick burst of heat was in the temperature range of 600-900 F.
I offer a suggestion regarding Prof. Brandt s musings on why the Corguinho sheet did not ignite and burn during image formation: the fabric could have been treated with a fire-retardant.
Regarding the microphotograph of the mattress-cover sample with the missing vertical thread, there are not enough details presented about this sample to make any conclusions, in my opinion. This particular sample was not submitted to me, but in the samples that I did examine there was no evidence of any "pinpoint melting." I would have liked to have seen this sample and to have been able to examine the reverse side of the swath to see if there were melted beads on the back--if you look at the weave in the photograph posted on the Earthfile s website cited above, it is obvious that three beads should be on the backside of the swath if the missing thread had been present and the polyester had been melted. Unfortunately, no photograph is provided of the reverse side. The question is Are there any polyester melted beads on the backside If not, then I would agree that this is an example of pinpoint melting.
I suspect that the missing thread went missing after the heat exposure, perhaps during the sampling procedure. It is my opinion that nothing conclusive can be drawn from this photograph alone--without a photograph of the reverse side of the same swath.
Earthfiles, Part 3:
Part 3 deals with the infrared (IR) and Energy Dispersive (EDS) analysis of the stones which are reported to have fallen down upon the roof of the house during the alleged abduction episode. Clearly there are no major differences in opinions here, just some minor assumptions that need clarification. One relates to Nick Reiter s speculation that these are similar to Moqui marbles. Another regards the comment made by an un-named geologist quoted in the Earthfiles report who speculates that Moquis result from a meteor impact site. There is also a comment regarding the fact that I did not originally include in my report a photograph of the stone I split for data acquisitions by Nick and myself. Additionally, I have a comment to offer on the presence of trace-titanium in the stone.
P.A. Budinger s Remarks re Earthfiles, Part 3:
For the stone analysis I recommended that Earthfiles obtain additional x-ray diffraction (XRD) analysis. Not enough analytical information could be gleaned using IR and EDS techniques alone to establish conclusive identification of the stones composition. I recommended XRD analysis because it the best technique to use in the evaluation of structures of crystalline species and could identify most (if not all) of the specific mineral types in the stones. I also felt that the additional expertise of a mineralogist or geologist (the sort of specialist who would carry out the XRD analysis) would have been useful.
Nick Reiter and I have suggested that the stones may be similar to "Moqui marbles." We do not say they are Moquis, but that they appear to be akin to them [Our backgrounds are limited here, though Mr. Reiter is more knowledgeable in this area than I am; from our limited background, and the data we had, an attempt was made to narrow down the possibilities.] Clearly there are indications, though not proof, in the EDS comparison of scans of the sample stones to references from a known Moqui. The infrared analysis indicated a subtle compositional change between the sample stone s interior and exterior surface: the exterior was shown to contain slightly more iron, a finding which is typical of the Moquis. The rounded shapes of Moquis are also similar to the sample stones, indicating they may have experienced a similar geological process in their formation.
Mr. Reiter and I also speculated that these stones could originate from the Corguinho, Brazil area, because this area of Brazil is known to have an iron-rich sandstone-type geology similar to that of the U.S. southwest. Previous Earthfiles reports of the Brazil landscape also indicated this might be true. (See Earthfiles Part 4 regarding the XRD identification of a rare mineral in the stones, a form of which exists in Brazil.)
We did not say these sample stones came from the American southwest or had anything to do with the Moquis from that area. More information was needed to resolve this issue, which is why we recommended XRD analysis and a geologist's input.
I am aware of geologist Dave Crosby's (Earthfiles un-named geologist) now abandoned theory that Moqui stones might have originated from meteor impacts. He no longer holds this opinion and his current theory (8/20/01) can be found at http://www.rocksandminerals.com/specimens/moqui.htm. In essence, it agrees with Nick Reiter s contribution in our report that these stones "are formed much like pearls, by accretion of mineral from the water supply around a core that can be anything form a sand grain to a small rock.
In our final report I did not provide a photograph of the interior of the Corguinho sample stone which I had broken open, since I didn't think it added anything to the report. However a photograph was taken at the time of the analysis, and is provided here.
Ms. Howe commented on Earthfiles that she didn't like the red tones in my photographs of the stones. I apologize for the fact that the lighting in my lab has contributed to the red color in this photograph, which is not an accurate representation of the sandstone color of the sample stones. If I were paid for the month's work required to carry out the Corguinho, Brazil case analyses (and other similar work), perhaps I would be able to afford improved lighting in my laboratory and/or a new camera.
Finally, in regard to the Corguinho stones, I suspect that the presence of titanium in the stone I examined could be a marker as to its origin. Mr. Reiter correctly indicated in our report that trace minerals vary with the local mineralogy in an area. For example, I am reminded of an analysis I did for my company in the late 1970s. The company owned uranium mines at the time, and thieves had stolen several barrels of yellow cake (uranium ore). The thieves were apprehended at the Mexican border. I was given several samples of yellow cake, which included the stolen ore, ore from the company s mine, and ore from other sites. The objective was to prove it was, in fact, our ore.
I was able to prove that the stolen yellow cake was ours because the trace metals in the retrieved material were identical to those found in the sample from our mine. I presented this case as a paper, published it in a journal, and it was included as a chapter in a book. ( Analytical Approach to the Case of the Case of the Great Yellow Cake Caper , Houston ACS Meeting, Symposium on Industrial Problem-Solving A Multitechnique Approach, March 24, 1980); (Budinger et. al, Analytical Chemistry , 1980, Vol 52, No 8); ( The Analytical Approach , Edited by Jeanette G. Grasselli, published by the American Chemical Society, United States, 1983, ISBN 0-8412-0755-0.)
Earthfiles, Part 4:
Part 4 discusses an XRD and geologist s input on the stone samples. This is a very well-done analysis by the geologists and nicely profiles most all of the minerals in the stones. A rare mineral was observed (which has been found Cuba), and other forms of this mineral have been found at various sites in Brazil. The XRD spectra, which I understand were run on a new instrument, are superb. On the last page of this section is a statement made by geologist Prof. Johnson, in which he states that he and his colleagues have never encountered objects like these stones before.
P.A. Budinger s Remarks to Earthfiles, Part 4:
Just because these examiners state that these objects (the stones) are unfamiliar to them does not necessarily mean that the stones are unusual, or would be unknown to other specialists. What we need to know is how are these stones unfamiliar In precisely what particulars do they differ Without more investigation, or more information, we cannot conclude that the objects in question are, in fact, anomalous. The rare mineral is a nice find, and may be a tracer to the origin of the stones. It is curious to note that other forms of this rare mineral have been found before, and in Brazil.
Personally, I have a lot of questions concerning this purported abduction. If the material of the bed sheet, the pillowcase, and the mattress-cover were affected, why wasn t Urandir s underwear similarly affected It would seem to me to be very useful to be able to analyze his underwear, especially since his undershorts were purportedly also aboard the alien craft for two days. And did anyone examine the roof shingles outside and the ceiling beams inside the house Were they affected How The ceiling was scorched on the lower surface, but was it also scorched on the upper side beneath the roof It would seem to me likely that all components in the path of the beam up should have experienced some effect, such as the charred underside of the ceiling and the bedding. To-date, the source of the heat remains unknown. However, this does not mean that the source was unusual or anomalous.
Finally, I would like to emphasize a conclusion presented in the beginning of this commentary. After all the analyses I did, and my evaluation now of the Earthfiles report, I have to say that it is my opinion that, so far, there is really no evidence for an alien abduction here, nor can we rule it out.
I would have truly liked to have found something solid, and therefore spent a great deal of time on this case. My 40-page report (with 20 references) demonstrates that I covered all the bases within my area of expertise. It is my opinion that the Earthfiles website report utilized only minimal and carefully chosen excerpts from my final report, interspersed with comments which appear to disagree with my analysis by "textile expert" Prof. Barndt. Additionally, I think this has been done in a deliberately misleading manner, completely devoid of any professional objectivity.
Now that my entire final report will soon be available to all interested parties on the Jeff Rense website (www.rense.com), I suspect that individuals with a scientific background as well as those with just plain common sense will understand my sharp disappointment in the Earthfiles coverage of my work. Those of us truly interested in trying to understand the UFO phenomenon do not need inaccurate, biased reporting. What we do need is open, cooperative, interaction among the few trained scientists interested in and willing to take on this work... and comprehensive, honest reporting of the results of such efforts to the interested public.
Phyllis A. Budinger Analytical Scientist, Frontier Analysis, Ltd.
NOTE: This Insight, previously published on our old site, will have any links removed.