Florida Today reports that 67 year-old electronics engineer Jim Hughes has been taking out classified ads in their paper saying, ?Would you pay $10,000,000 for a piece of a UFO drive mechanism? (It may contain the secret of microgravity).? His asking price has risen since he began advertising in December and is now to $9 million.

Hughes says he can?t prove that the mysterious object he keeps locked up came from a UFO. But the ads have generated interest from a metallurgist who wants to subject the object to scientific analysis.

The object is a nugget of what appears to be compressed metal, slightly bigger than a golf ball, but knobby and angular, with a dull gray sheen. It weighs approximately 2 ? ounces and is brittle for someone to clip pieces off it with little resistance.

The object dates back 44 years, when a friend of his, Joe Wilson, was riding a motorcycle in southern New Jersey during the middle of the day. Wilson saw a cigar-shaped UFO hovering over a dump site. A door on the craft opened with what Hughes describes as ?banging, as if on radiator pipes,? and he saw several pieces of metallic debris being tossed out. Wilson never got a look at the occupants, but he managed to recover the object after the UFO flew away.

Wilson later gave the object to Hughes, saying ?I?m giving you this piece because you have a degree in physics and you can do more with this than I can.? Hughes majored in physics at the University of Puerto Rico. Unfortunately, the story cannot be confirmed, since Wilson died years ago.

Hughes says he subjected fragments of the object to acid baths, which proved inconclusive, before soliciting outside opinions. Around 1964 Lehigh University conducted tests and determined the object was made of a compound called indium antimonide. Roughly four years later, a New Jersey company called EMSL tested the object and said it was made of antimony. ?The technicians there were startled when they saw such a pure sample,? Hughes says. ?One of them said, ?I?d accept this as a standard.?? Hughes cannot produce written documentation of the tests. Tests for radioactivity and gravity anomalies (using a pendulum) were negative.

After inspecting the object, Joe Jordan, state section director for the Mutual UFO Network, suggests performing more tests and says Mufon has the financial resources for an extensive follow-up if preliminary results look intriguing. Commodity specialist Robert Brown, of the U.S. Geological Survey in Reston, Va., describes indium antimonide as a compound made up of the mineral byproducts indium and antimony, the latter of which is ?one of the ancient metals that?s been around for a long time.? Indium, on the other hand, is far less common.

Indium is used primarily as a semiconductor, but there are more efficient compounds than antimony. ?The one with the most potential is indium phosphide,? Brown says. ?It?s very fast but it?s very brittle.? It?s used in the compound indium tin oxide, which is a transparent film used on wristwatches to make the numbers glow in the dark.

Brown says indium antimonide has been available since 1958, the year the late Joe Wilson discovered the metallic object. ?That doesn?t mean (Wilson?s object) wasn?t thrown out of a UFO,? Brown says. ?It just means it?s not the only logical explanation.

?If we ever do confirm a piece of a UFO, we don?t expect it to be unrecognizable off our periodic tables,? he says. ?But we might expect the way it?s put together would be unusual, given the performance capabilities of these craft. It might not have ?Made on Mars? stamped on it, but that wouldn?t necessarily mean it isn’t extraterrestrial. We could be looking at a meteorite here.?

Hughes has been interested in UFOs ever since he had a sighting at age 21, when he saw bowling ball-sized objects with exhaust flames at about the height of a telephone pole. He also saw a strange light above the Schuylkill Expressway in Pennsylvania. It looked like a star about 30 degrees off the horizon, but moved to within 500 feet of the earth and was a mostly white but partly gray and blue hue, and seemed to be showering energy.

Dr. Robert Stout, Lehigh professor emeritus in Bethlehem, Pa., remembers Hughes from 40 years ago as someone with ?very queer ideas about things, especially religion.? Stout says he worked as a consultant for a New Jersey company that employed Hughes. Hughes takes the remark in stride and says, ?I have the greatest respect for (Stout), regardless of what he thinks of my work.?

Hughes? sister, Patricia Cashwell, of Owego, N.Y., remembers seeing the object Joe Wilson gave her brother more than four decades ago. She says she never knew what to make of it, but hopes Hughes can solve the mystery.

She says, ?Jim is a wonderful man who always knew he was different?Jim?s sense of morality has had a profound impact on my life.? She remembers the endless nights they spent as kids studying planets through telescopes. ?He was known where we grew up (Woodbury, N.J.) as a genius, because he tested so high with his grades. He used to introduce himself by saying, ?Hi, I?m Jim, the oddball in the family,? because he was interested in concepts that most people can?t understand.? Cashwell says her brother was a dean?s list student who dropped out of nuclear physics at M.I.T. just before graduation for ?personal reasons.?

Hughes? patents include welding and theft-alarm devices. He says he doesn?t really expect to get $10 million for the object, but he has talked with a potential buyer about paying $7.5 million. He wants to use the proceeds to finance his research on technology that can tell the difference between the vibrational frequencies of an incoming warhead armed with uranium and a weapon packed with anthrax. ?You could cause your own destruction by blowing up a missile loaded with anthrax,? he says.

To learn more about this, read ?Extraterrestrial Visitations? by Preston Dennett, click here.

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