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50 years on: the strange case of the Betz mystery sphere

By T.K. Randall
February 1, 2024 · Comment icon 32 comments
The Betz mystery sphere.
The sphere attracted a lot of media attention. Image Credit: St. Petersburg Times
A peculiar metallic sphere found by a family in Florida 50 years ago sparked claims that it could be an alien device.
The story began all the way back in 1974 when the Betz family of Fort George Island, Florida, discovered a mysterious metal sphere after investigating the site of a brush fire near their home.

Believing it to be a cannonball from some historic battle, they decided to keep it, but it soon became clear that the object - which was suspiciously pristine - was not what it seemed.

According to reports, the family claimed that the sphere had started to behave peculiarly, reacting to guitar playing by emitting a throbbing noise and changing direction when being rolled across the floor.

They even maintained that the sphere would follow people around the house on its own accord.

Eventually, the US military became involved and managed to get their hands on the sphere.
According to one analysis, there were "radio waves coming from it and a magnetic field around it", however initial attempts to X-ray it proved futile due to the metal being too thick to penetrate.

Even UFO researcher J. Allen Hynek got a chance to examine it, but he, along with the military experts, all concluded that the object was most likely man-made.

This didn't stop it being billed as an extraterrestrial device by the media, however.

It was later discovered that the stainless steel sphere happened to be a perfect match for a component kept in stock by a Jacksonville equipment supply company.

Its erratic movements, it was argued, were more likely to be a consequence of the uneven floor at the family's newly rebuilt house than due to any unusual properties of the sphere itself.

Even so, to this day the sphere continues to remain a topic of debate and intrigue.

Source: The Sun | Comments (32)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #23 Posted by qxcontinuum 3 years ago I recently discovered Antique and Vintage jewellery made from magnetites Magnetite is a rock mineral and one of the main iron ores, with the chemical formula Fe₃O₄. It is one of the oxides of iron, and is ferrimagnetic; it is attracted to a magnet and can be magnetized to become a permanent magnet itself. It is the most magnetic of all the naturally-occurring minerals on Earth. Wikipedia
Comment icon #24 Posted by Desertrat56 3 years ago
Thanks @jmccr8 & @Tatetopa  I just remember having to re-do xrays when I forgot to take bobby pins out of my hair, or remove a necklace.  It just leaves a bit white spot on the xray.   I did not know that there are applications for xraying metal.
Comment icon #25 Posted by the13bats 3 years ago
So if you take a steel ball, a pinball will do first how would you magnatize it and what would dictate its poles?
Comment icon #26 Posted by jmccr8 3 years ago
Hi 13bats Not sure how they get magnetized but did come across this while looking around apparently this happens with pin balls at times. I have problems with magnetized pinballs in some games. mainly Totan they stick to metal parts in the game and sometimes get stuck. I have taken the balls out and they can pick up metal paper clips  I done a search on the forums and saw a lot of people replacing them with new ones. I thought about science lessons at school 35 years ago  I went on ebay and bought one of these a degauser. They were used on old type crt monitors to take image burn out by dema... [More]
Comment icon #27 Posted by Trelane 3 years ago
Hmmm, I'll say no. No it wasn't a piece of alien technology.
Comment icon #28 Posted by the13bats 3 years ago
One of my hobbies is restoring old arcade games and i love pachinko, those balls are 10mm and engraved, i do not recall running across a magnetized one, I have ran into many magnetic other "pin balls" i speculate solenoids/relays might be a culprit, Im curious how a pin ball would decide what becomes its poles, Ive also found case ball bearings in cars and stuff that did have weak magnetism, i cant say what part of assembly held the "charge"
Comment icon #29 Posted by jmccr8 3 years ago
Hi 13 bats I am not sure as I have never worked on pin ball machines so not sure if the games use electromagnets in some of the moving parts and if they do that over time the balls become magnetized but did see this video earlier so will link it for you.   jmccr8
Comment icon #30 Posted by the13bats 3 years ago
Yes, they do, bumpers flippers etc are electric solenoids, Also if one takes 2 iron nails, or screwdrivers and rubs one down the other like whittling a stick it will get a weak magnetic charge, something akin to this is likely how pin balls get a charge. Back to the threads ball, if it was magnetic so what we have that here on earth no aliens needed, This case reminds me of
Comment icon #31 Posted by Dynamo X 30 days ago
Shot blasting or bead blasting will slightly magnetise even stainless steels that aren't usually magnetic. And as alredy mentioned, cold working of such materials can have a magnetising effect on them.  Many types of stainless steels are magnetic anyway, too many to start listing here really.
Comment icon #32 Posted by Skulduggery 30 days ago
I remember hearing about this as I was growing up. I lived in the area. I think it was probably just a piece of equipment from a company somewhere. I used to do shot blasting myself. Things can become magnetised that is correct. 

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