Observers must be very prudent. These luminous balls, photographed by an amateur astronomist, on 7 January 1974, at Saint-Vallier-de-Thiey (Alpes-Maritimes) in France, were due, in fact, to the reverberation of car headlights on the clouds.

At Delphos, in the Kansas wheat plains, the Johnson Farm is one of the biggest in the region.  On 2 November 1971, the farmer’s son, Ronald Johnson, aged 16, is watching a flock of sheep with his dog Tex.  In the declining daylight, he suddenly sees, 25 metres in front of him, an object in the form of a mushroom, constellated with multicoloured lights.  It is suspended in the air, around 50 centimetres from the ground, and its approximate diameter is 3 metres.  This object is so brilliantly lit that he can discern no detail, but Ronald notices that it is making a noise like an “old washing machine that is vibrating”.  Hypnotised, the young man observes it for several minutes, until the object becomes even more brilliant at its base and takes off at prodigious speed.  It takes Ronald a good moment to get back his sight.  The first thing that he sees before running back to the house is his dog, who during the whole time that the apparition lasted, had remained perfectly motionless and silent.

When his parents come out of the house, they also see the flying object.  It is already very high in the sky and has, at this moment, a size comparable with that of the full moon.  Ronald and his parents then go to the place where the object had landed.  On the slightly damp ground, they discover a circle which is emitting a faint glow.  The lower branches of the neighbouring trees are also glowing.  One of the investigators, Mr Ted Philipps, would indicate that, at the place where the engine had been, “the ground was strange to the touch, forming a sort of crust, like a crystallized coating”.

Mrs Johnson reported that her hands, which had touched the ground at this place, had remained numb for nearly two weeks.  Thirty days later, the circle was still visible, and the snow that had fallen in between had melted only inside the circle, where the ground had also become hard as if vitrified.

Inside this sort of crater, the investigators notice the presence of an abundant white powder around thirty centimetres thick.

The young Johnson would suffer from a prolonged eye irritation, migraine headaches and terrible nightmares, during which he called his parents, screaming:  “It’s gone!  It’s gone!”

***

There are immeasurable difficulties to be overcome in interstellar voyages.  To go to the star that is the closest to the Earth, it would take nearly nine years, on condition to travel at the speed of light.  However, the fantastic distances which separate the stellar bodies have an advantage:  the number of stars and galaxies which fill the universe is incredibly astounding as well…

It seems totally improbable that, among the thousands and thousands of millions of planets, ours is the only one to possess the privilege of life and intelligence, in absolute contradiction with the teachings of the law of great numbers and all that we know about the formation of our solar system…

***

On the evening of 30 August 1951, this strange UFO squadron, which silently flew over Lubbock (Texas) USA, was observed and photographed by many people.

Let us retain only the figures advanced by R. S. Harrington, of the United States Naval Observatory.  In 1978, this scholar was able to determine that the stars in our galaxy alone, which benefited from an ecosphere similar to that of the Earth, were of the number of 52 million million.

That is to say, a possibility of gravitating, without being perturbed too much by the radiations or the gravitations of the stars which, like our Sun, accompany the course of the planets.

***

This possibility is far from being sufficient to give life.  There must be a certain number of other conditions, but there are thirty million million stars similar to our Sun in our galaxy…

There would have to be other stars associated with these suns.  But there are six million million of those.  However, this is still not enough to give birth to the most modest bacterium.

Stars can differentiate themselves other than by their mass, their luminosity or their power of association.  By their chemical composition in particular, which allows them to group together.  Some in the central regions of the galaxies, others on their periphery.  At the end of complex metamorphoses, which occur through terrifying cataclysms (cosmic collisions which lead to chain reactions during which millions of millions of stars sink into the famous “black holes”), the stars divide themselves into different “populations”.  Precisely according to the place that they occupy in the whole of the galaxy.  Only those which escape the frightful central clashing have a chance of becoming “stars of population I”…

Among these, only the stars of the second generation, such as our Sun, which formed five million million years ago – when our galaxy was already twice as old – contain water, ammoniac and methane which permit the formation of ice, rocks and metals.  Therefore, are able to engender planetary systems similar to ours.

This still leaves 5.2 million million carbon copies of our Sun…  They also have to have planets to receive their fecund radiations…  However, in the state of our knowledge, we are absolutely incapable of saying how many planetary systems similar to ours there are…

***

We can, however, take our solar system as a reference and, starting from its characteristics, make a certain number of simulations on a computer.  The American Astronomist S. H. Dole did this very well.  He still found a figure close to 2.6 million million stars.  By refining the conditions of inhabitability, we find that the number of inhabitable planets in our galaxy gradually diminishes…

Our last figure is 650 million.  Which is considerably less than the figure retained by the Astronomer Carl Sagan, who goes up to a million million…

These are all only worlds where the molecules, characteristic for life, could eventually form.  We have to leave these planets time to sufficiently age, so that the infinitely slow and complicated process of life is able to establish itself.  From the rudimentary cells of bacteria to ours, which needed dry ground to develop, the number of planets capable of housing them falls a lot more again.  And from the inferior species of animals to those which we are, finally capable to develop a technological civilization, the number becomes really derisory:  530,000.

***

To be continued.

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