I live in Florida, and I can tell you from gator attacks, to face-eating zombies, we have no lack of weird and mysterious stories. If you have done the “Florida Man” google challenge, then you know exactly what I mean.
One of the strangest, and most controversial stories to come out of Florida is the “Great Florida Mystery Sphere.” The tale began over 40 years ago, when in 1974, members of the Betz family found a metallic sphere on their property that seemed to defy all explanations of what it could be, or where it came from.
As the story goes, a violent brush fire had swept through the Betz’s property, on Fort George Island, Florida. The raging blaze left a huge swath of burnt and blackened land behind. Once the flames died down, as Antoine and Jerri Betz, accompanied by their 21-year-old son Terry, went out to assess the damage, they came to a grove of trees that had been completely incinerated by the fire. Yet, sitting there in the middle of what would have been a blazing inferno during the fire, was a metallic sphere of some sort, approximately the size of a bowling ball. It sat there shining brightly in the sunlight, unscorched, and seemingly not affected in the least by the fire that had ripped through the property only hours earlier.
In fact, it was found to be completely smooth, polished, and without a single blemish upon it except for a small triangular shape carefully etched within the metal.
A Search For Answers About the Mystery Sphere
At first, the Betz’s assumed it was a cannonball left over from a battle fought there in years past. Finds of such artifacts were not uncommon in the area, but the Florida Mystery Sphere didn’t really look or behave anything like an old-timey cannonball.
Aside from the completely smooth and undamaged surface, either by the fire, or years of being buried, if it had been a cannonball — the Betz’s claim that once they got the sphere home, it exhibited some very strange and inexplicable properties.
One morning, just a few weeks after the Betz found the sphere, their son Terry, claimed he was playing guitar in the same room as the sphere. Suddenly, it began to react to the sound of his playing, resulting in a throbbing noise that spooked the family dog. Even once the rhythmic thrumming stopped, the family dog refused to ever go near the sphere again, which suggested there were still sounds emanating from the sphere beyond the frequencies of human hearing.
After this, the Betz family began to wonder if the sphere was alien in nature, or even just some sort of advanced technology. They suspected it may have been dropped from a NASA spacecraft orbiting the Earth, or some piece of military hardware that strayed from a nearby naval base.
Things got weirder when one day, according to the family, while seated on the floor, they attempted to roll the strange sphere to one another. According to reports, whenever someone sent it in one direction, it would suddenly change and head back to the person who’d pushed it.
As the family attempted to dig deeper into the sphere’s possible origins, they were taken on a strange journey that seemingly resulted in more questions than answers.
Was the Sphere Some Kind of Solar Battery?
The family kept a watchful eye on the eerie sphere. According to them, they noticed it would often spontaneously give off that thrumming sound and move on its own. They supposedly observed that these kinds of activities occurred more often on bright sunny days, so the Betz’s assumed that the sphere was somehow solar powered, or at least sensitive to sunlight.
At one point, Terry began to conduct his own experiments. When he tried hitting it with a hammer, it would ring loudly. When he shook it, and then placed it on the floor, it rolled all around his room. The family soon locked the sphere in a wooden chest, to prevent it from rolling around on its own.
The Scientific Community Takes Notice
As reports of the bizarre sphere spread beyond the local papers, it caught the interest of the scientific community, the military, NASA, and of course, paranormal investigators.
Initial research showed the steel sphere had not been manufactured or tampered with. According to what could be urban legend, when military officials asked the Betz family if they could take the sphere back to their labs to conduct further research, the family declined. However, the family claims that soon after, Navy officials arrived at their home with orders to confiscate the sphere.
By the time it was eventually seized by officials, the family was probably happy to see it go, because they had claimed it had begun exhibiting paranormal behavior, like slamming doors without being touched and causing loud organ music to blare throughout their home at night.
At a lab in Jacksonville, the Navy purportedly examined the sphere and did tests and X-rays on it, proclaiming that it was not anything they had ever seen before and that it seemed to be made of an incredibly dense, absurdly heat resistant form of stainless steel. Their x-rays revealed that there with two objects somewhere within its hollow frame surrounded by a halo made of material that had an unusual density, as well as a pair of magnets with two negative and two positive poles.
The sphere was also found to be extremely strong and resisted an incredible 120,000 pounds of pressure per square inch.
A researcher named Carl Wilson claims he found that the ball exhibited strange magnetic characteristics and even seemed to be putting out some sort of signal, as well as some radioactive emanations. He even went so far as to say that it possessed certain properties that seemed to defy physics and that it was not made of steel at all. Supposedly another researcher who had tested the sphere, named J. A. Harder concluded that there were elements within the sphere that were unknown.
What Ultimately Happened to the Sphere and Is There a Rational Explanation?
After being taken from the Betz’s, and the media reports about the various tests died down, what ultimately happened to the sphere becomes a little murky. Eventually, the story faded into relative obscurity, and those of us interested in the bizarre and paranormal, we are left with the question of what it was and what happened to it? There have been theories ranging from the rational to the more fringe.
The rational explanation is that this was a misidentified component of a satellite or an otherwise manmade construction such as a piece of industrial machinery such as a ball valve. But how would this explain its strange behavior and properties?
However, after all the hoopla over alien artifacts, or advanced tech that time-traveled from the future, or a parallel dimension, one ball valve manufacturer, Robert Edwards, president of a Jacksonville, FL equipment supply company, is reasonably sure that it was nothing more than a relatively conventional ball valve. Speaking to the Palm Beach Post he said of the “Betz Sphere,” “I’m not saying that this thing didn’t come from outer space because I’ve never seen it. All I’m saying is that the physical description of it matches exactly the type of ball valves we make and have in stock.”
As for the ball’s seeming ability to roll on its own, or spontaneously change directions, apparently one of the Navy Researchers who examined it said, “ I believe it’s because of the construction of the house… It’s old and has uneven stone floors. The ball is almost perfectly balanced, and it takes just a little indentation to make it move or change direction.”
The other reports of its bizarre properties have probably been exaggerated or muddled over the years. But conspiracy theories around the sphere still persist, and most of them say that the more important question is not what the ball was, but where is it now? If it was simply a piece of industrial hardware like a ball valve, why didn’t the Navy discover that and just return it to the family?
They believe that NASA or the military whisked the sphere away to hide the truth of what the Betz’s may have actually found after that fire decades ago.