THE TREE'S FOCUS. Meier's photo #57 is shown again below, in Fig. 1. An estimate of the length of the branchlet designated by the two arrows is 20cm.
| Fig. 1. Photo #57 with left portion cropped. Arrows|
at upper right delineate a typical branchlet on the
close-up, out-of-focus tree branches.
Distance = (Actual width) x (focal length) ÷ (width on film)
where the focal length was 42mm and the film width was 35mm (film height about 23.4mm). For this camera's focus mechanism stuck just one notch short of the infinity setting, corresponding perhaps to a 20m distance of optimal focus, a 3m distance is indeed too close for an object to be in good focus. According to Stevens' estimate, an object needed to be about 10m away to show up clearly in one of Meier's photos (Stevens, 1982, p. 259). Consistent with this, a similar calculation for a beamship of 7m diameter indicates that in Fig. 1 it was some 78m away from the camera, and therefore well within the range of best focus for the jammed focus and f-stop settings on Meier's Olympus 35 ECR camera. Stevens' estimate agrees with a depth-of-field calculation, which, for a camera focal length of 42mm, an f-stop setting of 11 (Stevens, personal communication), and a central focus distance of 50 ft, yields the region of satisfactory focus lying between 13 ft and "infinity." The tree on the right, is thus too close to lie within this depth of field.
Unfortunately, this clear focus of the UFO and adjacent tree in front of which it posed here, relative to the out-of-focus nearby tree on the right-hand side of photo #57, went unmentioned in the key attempt at debunking the case (Korff, 1995). By Korff’s hypothesis, the tree about which the UFO posed was a small potted tree close to the camera, and the UFO a model attached to it (Korff, 1995, p. 188). As is evident, however, such hoaxing gear would then have been too close to the camera to be in the excellent focus the UFO and adjacent tree display. We pay primary attention to the Korff 1995 reference here because it is the only Meier-case debunking attempt that is located in the available literature.
THE TREE'S MATURITY. In 1985 I showed the photo that best displays the tree's trunk (#66), plus another of this series, to two professors of Forest Science at Oregon State University to determine if they could identify the type of tree. These were Profs. Richard. K. Hermann (now retired) and Edward. C. Jensen. Hermann was raised in western Germany and was very familiar with this species of tree. With certainty they stated that it was a mature abies alba, i.e., a European silver fir. Other forestry experts contacted more recently were less unanimous about the species identification, with picea abies (Norwegian spruce) suggested as an additional or secondary possibility (Hanley, 2001; Hansen, 2001; Holdenrieder, 2001). However, none suggested that it could have been a small potted tree or model tree. Thus it was no mere 1- or 2m tree, which would exhibit an unmistakably juvenile appearance in its profile, density of branches and trunk, as will be discussed soon. Prof. Hermann pointed out that its crown was already showing signs of “stork-nesting,” or near cessation of vertical growth, due, they presumed, to the environmental stress of excessive smog east of Zurich and/or to acid rain. A potted, “baby” tree is far too young to exhibit such effects.
The tree’s trunk alone indicates its general maturity, as seen here in Fig. 2. One may notice a nodule on each side of the upper trunk,
|Fig. 2. Enlargement of tree’s trunk, from photo #66, brightness|
and contrast enhanced. See also Elders & Elders (1983, p. 64).
AN ASSESSMENT OF THE PHOTO SITE. "When I was in Switzerland in May of 1995, I went to Fuchsbuel with a friend and videotaped what we determined to be the precise spot where Meier took that series. This was based on Guido Moosbrugger pointing to that area a day or so prior when we were driving by the Pfaffikersee.
"I stood back where Meier had taken photo #57 showing the out-of-focus tree limbs on the right side and lined up my shots accordingly. I noticed that many of the lower tree limbs at the top of the hill seemed to have been sawed off, so I had to break off a small branch with similar vegetation and had my friend hold this several feet in front of my tripod-mounted video camera. Realizing that Meier, of course, was using a still camera--not video--I was only after establishing perspective and approximate distance relationships.
"We did our best to estimate where we thought the missing tree might have been located. I figured that based on framing the shots and the lay of the land there, we must have guessed the location of the tree within approximately twenty feet of where it actually was.
"As the videotape was rolling, I walked down the hill to several points where it seemed Meier may have walked to obtain the closer shots of the ship moving around the tree and panned the camera to match the panorama shown in Meier's stills. The hill sloped down gently at first but probably about 75 to 100 feet down the hill from my initial 'tree limb' vantage point, the slope increased more dramatically. The grass, as far as remembered, was fairly long--anywhere from 8-14" high or so."
-- Marc Juliano
Juliano's assessment raises the further problem for a potential hoaxer that the tips of nearby grass blades would show up in any photo that showed a small potted tree's trunk, since strands of meadow grass two or three feet high later in spring or in early summer would extend half way up any such portable, potted tree. Nothing like this shws up in photo #66 (Fig. 2).
DID THE TREE "ROTATE"? Meier stood at the top of a hillside in taking his photos, viewing down the slope towards the south and west.
|Fig. 3. Panoramic view in summer of 2001 looking from south through northwest at the Fuchsbüel-|
Hofhalden site. Courtesy of C. Frehner and J. Jansen. The ground slopes downward away from the
camera. Left-hand edge of panorama bears about 138° and right-hand edge about 284°.
| Fig. 4. Four of Meier’s photos (Nos. 65,119,57,71) superimposed on the 2001 background|
panorama. Courtesy of J. Jansen. Meier walked about in between taking pictures, seven
more of which looked towards the west or northwest, as do #57 and #71. Hence
the tree's azimuth in the various photos varies relative to the background.
One may observe that the tree’s profile does differ noticeably over this net variation in azimuthal view, which is fully consistent with the real tree it is concluded to be, contrary to Korff’s claim. This is shown in Figs. 5 and 6
|Fig. 5. Cropped enlarge-|
ment of Meier’s photo #65
-- the view farthest
towards the southeast
|Fig. 6a. Cropped enlarge-|
ment of Meier's photo #66
-- tree viewed farthest
towards the northwest.
|Fig. 6b. Cropped enlarge-|
ment of Meier's photo #64
-- tree also viewed
towards the northwest.
Brightness & contrast enhanced.
|Fig. 6c. Cropped enlarge-
ment of Meier's photo #69
-- tree also viewed
towards the northwest.
The rather significant gap seen in the tree's left side somewhat lower down in Fig. 6b, but not seen in 6a, appears to be a result of damage done to the tree when the beamship wedged nearly a half of its width into this spot, while Meier took photo #64 (see blue arrow in Fig. 6c).
All around, the detailed occurrence, positions and orientations of the outer branchlets are quite different. However, it is the tree's crown that best shows its distinguishing features, since there the branches are sparsest, allowing them to show up from all sides without being obscured by intervening branches. If one compares the top of the tree in these figures, one sees that the branches there look essentially identical in occurrence and configuration in Figs. 6a,b,c, which were all shot towards the northwest, while they appear entirely different in Fig. 5, shot towards the south. The photo in Fig. 6b was taken from a position that looked almost as far to the northwest as does Fig. 6a; the latter was taken from a spot a little farther down the hillside toward the tree than Fig. 6b.
This, then, is an instance in which one must pay attention to the details. It is not too surprising that a couple large-scale features of a tree's outline -- in this instance the gap on the upper left in particular -- could persist over a 90° quadrant and therefore show up on all photos taken within that quadrant. Careful comparison of the tree's top thus shows that the notion the tree “rotated” as Meier moved part way around, taking pictures at various times, is a fiction.
PHOTOGRAPHIC TRICKERY? In the photos of Figs. 7 and 8 below, we see the UFO directly behind and within the upper part of the tree.
|Fig. 7. Meier's photo #71, cropped||Fig. 8. Meier's photo #76, cropped|
The possibility of computer manipulation to produce the photos shown here is ruled out by their early date of 1975, well before personal computers became available and even before the first “Star Wars” movie introduced special effects in 1977. Hence Meier-case skeptics have settled for the potted “baby” tree hypothesis here, or even a model tree, in conjunction with a model UFO -- a hypothesis we see to be fatally flawed.
NOT A POTTED OR MODEL TREE. This conclusion is so pivotal that it may be instructive to remind ourselves of the differences to be expected between a young, potted abies alba and mature ones, if they are not already
|Fig. 9(a). Young, 2m-
tall, potted abies alba
tree (contrast en-
hanced). Courtesy of
Forest Farm nursery,
|Fig. 9(b). Abies alba in
Meier’s photo #66,
with contrast enhanced
|Fig. 9(c). Abies
alba in the Black
This material used by
permission of John
Wiley & Sons, Inc.
|Fig. 9(d). Abies
alba at Hoyt
|Fig. 9(e). Artificial tree
for Christmas use
(Tree Classics, Inc.)
The mature abies alba, and Norwegian spruce as well, may exhibit extensive and numerous preventitious shoots (successive re-branchings), while the very young tree will not have had time for such development to occur (Gruber, 1994, p. 278). When present extensively, these additional re-branchings give the mature fir tree a dense foliage, as in Figs. 9(b),(c) above, in great contrast to the very young fir, Fig. 9(a). Also, the young fir exhibits a conical outer shape while the older, mature fir tends to be much more cylindrical, especially if its crown has suffered from inhibited vertical growth.
Just as important, the diameter of a 30cm model UFO, for example, would not exceed three lengths of annual limb growth, or about three times the typical length of one of the twigs seen dangling from the lower portion of the tree in Fig. 2. Instead, the UFO’s width is seen from Meier's photos to be some 20 times this length. This order-of-magnitude distinction alone negates the small potted-tree hypothesis.
A model-tree hypothesis, which has been proposed over the Internet, fails for similar reasons. In addition, model trees, especially in those days, were not constructed to look like any particular species of tree, and could not have been identified as a mature abies alba. Instead, they are constructed to be of pleasing appearance, symmetric and conical, as in artificial Christmas trees (Fig. 9(e)), where deformities are undesired. If a symmetric model tree had been trimmed to have an irregular outline and a bare trunk, the trimmed edges would then also give it away as a model tree in comparison with the Fuchsbüel-Hofhalden tree. Also, artificial trees available from stores do not, of course, exhibit nodules where limbs once grew out.
A VERY LARGE MODEL UFO? The remaining possibility that the UFO was not “genuine” is that it was a very large model, many meters in diameter. This has not been proposed by Meier-case skeptics, probably because of the tremendous logistical problems that would be encountered in:
(a) constructing and storing such a model without news of this reaching the ears of anyone in the area who could report their awareness of it to Meier’s friends or to Wendelle Stevens and his investigative team on their many trips to Switzerland;
(b) attempting to transport a 7m model UFO, too wide to fit into a two-car garage, to that location on narrow rugged roads, unnoticed by owner and neighbors along the way;
(c) setting up ladders, scaling them and attaching such a huge model to the tree without any support lines or bracing showing up in the photos, and without attracting the attention of the landowner or a group of curious spectators;
(d) repeating procedure (b) five or six times in the short period of one afternoon for the different locations of the UFO relative to the tree. A further reason is:
(e) precisely the same UFO appears in several dozen of Meier’s other photos taken on other occasions, and in these the UFO has been claimed by debunkers to be a small model.
A large metallicized balloon has not been proposed either, no doubt because its manufacture in sufficient structural detail would be very complicated, its existence also could not likely be kept secret, it would lack sufficient rigidity to penetrate into the tree’s branches, as in Figs. 6, 7 and 8, and because of (e) above.
THE VANISHING TREE. A key reason the baby-tree or model-tree hypothesis has been promoted, no matter how fatally flawed, is that within a few weeks after this photo session took place the tree vanished. After the photos were developed, two of Meier’s friends (Margarite Rufer and Jacobus Bertschinger) visited the site and noticed that the upper portion of the tree was faintly glowing. On a subsequent visit to the site not too long afterward they noticed that the whole tree was dead. On a third trip to the site, with Meier, they were startled to find the tree entirely absent with no indication that it had ever existed -- no hole in the ground, no disturbed grass or dirt, no bark chips or sawdust, no branches, no needles. The only difference noted was that in the area where the tree had been the grass was up to a foot taller than elsewhere (Stevens, 1982, pp. 48, 126-127). Hence Fig. 3 does not show the tree in question.
When Meier, on a later contact, asked his alien contactor what happened to the tree, she told him that they had “changed its time.” Now, the turning brown and withering of tree foliage that UFOs approach too closely is well-known within ufology (Phillips, 1981), and the glowing of tree branches soon after a UFO was hovering close to them is not unknown (Faruk, E. A., 1989). However, the disappearing act that occurred here was again unique and therefore unacceptable to many ufologists. Although they may concede that what an advanced alien civilization could do should seem like magic to us (Newman and Sagan, 1981), if or when any such deed occurs in a particular case, this piece of wisdom is all too likely to go unnoticed and unheeded. Thus some alternative hypothesis, no matter how contradictory to the facts, gets promoted, as with the photos under discussion and the potted-tree fiction. However, as one leading ufologist has said, “We shouldn’t be surprised at anything we find. We’re ignorant!” (Friedman, 2001).
Friedman’s advice is pertinent regarding other aspects of Meier’s photo opportunities. How could it be, one may ask, that no one in the Swiss countryside nearby ever reported seeing the beamships while Meier was photographing them? When Meier asked Semjase this question on one of his contacts, she told him that they normally keep their craft invisible, but for the photo sessions they allowed it to be visible from a very narrow, selected viewing angle, namely just that of Meier himself. Certainly, if Meier were a hoaxer whose unknown accomplice(s) had been utilizing helium balloons from which to support an array of tethering and support wires from which one or more model UFOs were suspended, as suggested by Korff (1995, pp. 219-220), all this would have been noticed, reported on and publicized. There was no lack of effort on the part of the early investigators to uncover reports of this nature from neighbors living in the general vicinity, and no shortage of skeptical neighbors. However, no such reports were forthcoming.
A report that relates to this photo series is relevant here. In 1976 or 1977 Meier was told by his alien contactor, Semjase, that they had removed all specific memories of this particular tree from the mind of its property owner, in a manner undetectable by him (Moosbrugger, 1977). Moosbrugger also reports that this man had for years been sawing off the lower limbs of the tree for use as firewood (Moosbrugger, 2001, p. 137), and this helps explain the extra dense foliage seen in the tree's upper half. One can scarcely imagine how advanced a level of psychics/psychology/telepathy would be involved in suppressing such memories without suppressing other memories. Presumably this man is the Herman Wyss mentioned by Korff (1995, p. 187), whose residence was located down the hill from the tree in question, and who declined having knowledge of the tree when Korff queried him in 1991. Any such alien mind-altering action is, of course, as unacceptable to us as it is incredible. However, reports abound in the ufological literature of aliens eliminating or suppressing abduction memories (e.g., Hopkins, 1981). It is only prudent to assume that aliens greatly advanced over us in their evolution would be greatly advanced in all fields of science and technology, including fields we are not yet aware of, and would not be advanced just in space travel. They may well be capable of remotely removing selected memories from a person, as well as implanting thoughts or memories. The implantation of "screen" memories into the minds of some abductees is a well-known UFO phenomenon (e.g., see Sandow, 1998; Butler, 1994; Bartley, 2000).
It can well be appreciated that if this tree had not been caused to vanish, and if Swiss authorities would in that event not have cut it down, it and the 11 photographs would constitute proof positive that the UFO was a large craft, or beamship, and no small model. This then provides a good example of the Pleiadian implementation of the plausible deniability strategy. Without the tree existing as everpresent proof, negative skeptics can just argue that it's impossible for aliens to do things that seem impossible to us to do with our present level of science and technology, and they will generally gain the approval of any scientists who become informed of the matter.
SHOULD THE TREE HAVE APPEARED IN AN EARLIER PHOTO?
|Fig. 10. Meier's photo #25 taken in February,|
1975, from the Fuschsbüel-Hofhalden site
Two distinct features in tree-line height in the middle background are discernable in both color photos #65 and #119, and these are shown in Fig. 12 below.
Fig. 12. A cropped portion of Meier's photo #25, top; and below, a cropped portion of #119.|
Arrow (a) points to a distinctive jump in the far foreground tree line, and arrows (b),(c)
to distinctive jumps in tree-line height in the background.
The angular spacing a-b relative to b-c in photo #119 is seen to be significantly greater than in photo #25, indicating that #25 was taken from a position significantly to the southeast of #119. The angular difference, or parallax, is about 1.3°, relative to the original photo’s 45° field of view.
|Fig. 13. Overhead view of the layout where|
Meier took photo #25 in February from
position 1, and #119 in July from position 2.
Dashed lines indicate camera's lateral field
of view. Arrows labelled "to 'a'" point to
feature "a" in Fig. 12. T = tree, which should
not and does not appear in photo #25.
Drawing thanks to M. Wolf.
A plan-view diagram of the layout is shown in Fig. 13. In constructing it, care was taken to properly position the edges of the photos relative to point "a" in #25 and #119, and also the location of the tree, which was some 66 meters from the camera for a beamship width of 7 meters. The 45° arc of each photo's field of view is indicated. We see that when taking photo #25, Meier’s camera would need to have been swung at least 5° to the right in order that the left-hand edge of the abies-alba tree just barely appear in view. Thus, there is no basis whatever for the claim that the vanishing tree had not been existent in February, 1975. Yet, it is a conclusion a negative skeptic could easily jump to if not interested in looking into the details.
A VANISHING TREE TEST CASE. The vanishing of the abies alba, or “Wettertanne,” as some of the locals call such a tree, raised persistent questions and incredulity among some of Meier’s friends, as to how it could possibly have been accomplished. He was eventually able to convince his contactor, Semjase, that she should demonstrate that it could actually be done, and she set a date of Oct. 17th, 1976, for a demonstration. However, she imposed several confidential conditions: no one could be present when the event happened, Meier must not point out the tree in advance, and she would not make her craft visible to anyone on this occasion. On the afternoon of the 17th, Meier, on his moped, led a group of about a dozen in their cars to a grassy spot next to a wooded area, where they released a hot-air balloon that Meier and two friends had constructed a short while before (with some aluminum attached, to see if it would attract the attention of a nearby radar station). Meier stated that the vanishing-tree demonstration would occur in that general area, and that those present should take a close look all around and take photos if desired.
Meier also took some photos, they released the hot-air balloon, and then Meier left on his moped in the general direction of the balloon’s drift, but then rode on home. The group followed the balloon along in their cars for a ways, and later hunted Meier up at his house, where he had been waiting for them. They all went back to the site where they had released the balloon, whence Meier asked them if they noticed anything different. They didn’t, until he pointed out where a 3-5m tall young fir tree had been standing an hour before, close alongside a shorter shrubby beech tree that still stood, in the grassy area close to the woods. His beforehand photo proved that this small fir had existed, and the contorted shape of the beech shrub, where the fir tree had blocked its growth on one side, helped confirm the fir’s prior existence. There was no disturbance to the grassy ground that would indicate another tree had been there (Moosbrugger, 2001, pp. 137-139; Stevens, 1982, pp. 149-152). The available before- and after-photos, shown in the Moosbrugger reference, are not shown here, as they are not close-ups. He was one of the dozen witnesses, another of whom is also identified by name.
This demonstration could not satisfy the witnesses’ desire to know how it was accomplished, but persuaded them that the Pleiadians could actually perform such a “magical” act. However, it will not satisfy a skeptical non-witness who demands conclusive physical evidence and disregards witness testimony. And the uniqueness of this kind of alien-human interaction tends to further deter ufologists from examining the Meier case in depth. This is notwithstanding the fact that numerous UFO sightings are on record in which the witness unpremeditatedly wished that the UFO would do something and it immediately obliged: e.g., come closer or shine brighter, or reply to a flashlight or car headlight signal to the UFO.
THE UFO's "ANTENNA". It may be necessary to briefly discuss the antenna-like appendage atop the beamship, or UFO, seen in Fig. 10, as the skeptic may assume it to be a support rod on a model UFO to which an invisible line, like fish-line leader, could be attached. It is present also in the photo series just presented, and is best seen in photo #119 (Fig. 12, bottom). Since in this series the UFO was a large object and no model, it follows that the same UFO in Fig. 10 was no small model either. Thus this appendage may serve some UFO function. When Meier asked his ET contactor about it, he was told it was part of an energy-collecting device. Whether it was or wasn't, I don't know, but it was no model-support rod.
DOES ANOTHER TREE LOOK LIKE THIS ONE? In one of Meier's 8mm-movie-film segments, the beamship or UFO circled repeatedly above a tree whose outline may superficially resemble that of the abies alba under discussion. Although Korff did not present and discuss any of Meier's movie-film segments in his book, he is on record on television for claiming that the tree at the different site within the movie film looks the same as the Fuchsbüel-Hofhalden tree (Korff, 1994).
|Fig. 14. Left. Meier's photo #66 from the Fuschsbüel-Hofhalden site,|
with insert of a section from 8mm frame of the 18 March, 1975 movie, enhanced. Courtesy J. Jansen.
Right. Another video-frame capture of the tree with the beamship above it, 18 March, 1975.
In conclusion, after ruling out the hoax hypothesis, we are left with the result that Meier's photos here back him up 100%, and support the witnesses to the two vanishing trees. Thus, truth can be stranger than fiction, except that after some 55 years of having experienced the UFO phenomenon, the ET "magic" involved should not seem so strange to us.
|Return to: One level up||Return to: Contents|
Bartley, J. (2000). "The aliens use of 'OPSEC'." At this web site.
Butler, Richard D. (1994). "'Abduction' experience classification." At this web site.
Elders, L. J. & Elders, B. (1983). UFO…Contact from the Pleiades, vol. 2. Phoenix, AZ: Genesis III Publishing.
Faruk, E. A. (1989). "The Delphos case: Soil analysis and appraisal of the CE2 report." J. UFO Studies 1, pp. 41-65. Or see: www.earthfiles.com/earth066.htm.
Friedman, S. (2001). Statement he made on the Coast-to-Coast radio program, 10 Jan.
Gruber, F. (1994). "Morphology of coniferous trees: Possible effects of soil acidification on the morphology of Norway spruce and silver fir," in Godbold, D. L. and Hüttermann, A., eds., Effects of Acid Rain on Forest Processes. New York: Wiley-Liss, p. 315 and Fig. 8.56.
Hanley, D. (2001). Personal communication, March 1. Prof. Hanley is a WSU Extension Forester in the College of Forest Resources, University of Washington, Seattle.
Hansen, E. M. (2001). Personal communication, March 14. Prof. Hansen is with the Dept. of Botany and Plant Pathology, College of Agricultural Sciences, Oregon State University.
Holdenrieder, O. (2001). Personal communication, March 2. Prof. Holdenrieder’s affiliation is with the Section of Forest Pathology and Dendrology, Dept. of Forest Sciences, Federal Inst. of Tech., Zurich.
Hopkins, B. (1981). Missing Time: A Documented Study of UFO Abductions. New York: Richard Marek Publishers.
Kinder, G. (1987). Light Years: An Investigation into the Extraterrestrial Experiences of Eduard Meier. New York: Atlantic Monthly Press.
Korff, K. K. (1994). Statements he made on Fox TV's program "Encounters," aired on Dec. 18, 1994.
Korff, K. K. (1995). Spaceships of the Pleiades: The Billy Meier Story. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books.
Moosbrugger, G. (1977). "UFO-exposures critically examined;" in Stevens (1988-1995), vol. 3, p. 271.
Moosbrugger, G. (1991). Und sie fliegen doch. Munich: Verlag Michael Hesemann.
Moosbrugger, G. (2001). And Yet… They Fly (English transl. of above). Tulsa, OK: Steelmark LLC.
Newman, W. and Sagan, C. (1981). "Galactic civilizations: Population dynamics and interstellar diffusion." Icarus 46, p. 296. In this paper the authors acknowledge the statement to have derived from Arthur C. Clarke.
Phillips, T. R. (1981). "Close encounters of the Second Kind: Physical traces." 1981 MUFON UFO Symposium Proceedings, p. 99.
Sandow, G. (1998). "The abduction conundrum." The Anomalist No. 7 (Winter 1998-99).
Stevens, W. C. (1982). UFO Contact from the Pleiades: A Preliminary Investigation Report. Tucson, AZ: UFO Photo Archives (out of print).
Stevens, W. C. (1988-1995). Message from the Pleiades, vols. 1-4. Tucson, AZ: UFO Photo Archives.