For Richard Price, a single traumatic childhood incident has thrown a terrifying shadow over the last four decades of his life. One evening in September 1955, near a cemetery in Troy, New York, Price claims, he encountered a couple of humanoids who took him aboard their craft and injected an implant under his skin. Now, a scientist from a world-class university has analyzed that implant and reached a fascinating conclusion.
Price, who was then 8 years old, has never forgotten the episode, especially the moment the aliens implanted something into his--now that the Bobbitt trial has made the word media-acceptable--penis.
"I was tied down to a table in the center of the room," he recalls, "and they had used a machine to scan over my body up to my neck. Then they took this implant from the table and put it at the end of this long needle attached to some type of box and cable. When they inserted the needle into my skin I could see on a monitor in front of me an enlargement where it looked like they were hooking up wires underneath my skin. Then, after they took the needle out and shut everything off, one of them came over to me and, before he helped me put my clothes back on, said: 'Leave it alone, or you'll die.'"
Price reports he was too frightened to tell his parents about the incident. But in 1964 while in high school he did tell a girlfriend and within a week everyone in school was calling him "the spaceman." Finally, after getting into a fight, he was called to see the principal, who referred him to the school psychologist.
Price underwent a battery of psychological tests and was given various medications. But since no one had even heard of UFO abductions back then, he eventually ended up in a state hospital. He was released after three months, but only after "admitting" to the doctors on his case that the incident had never occurred.
More than a dozen years would pass before Price could bear to relate this bizarre tale again, once more trying to convince the outside world it was real. After talking to UFO investigators in 1981, Price was urged to visit a doctor who, amazingly, confirmed the presence of a foreign object in his penis. But since Price felt no discomfort from it, the doctor suggested that nothing needed to be done.
Then in June 1989, while getting dressed, Price noticed the "implant" protruding above the skin, and about two months later it came out. The object was roughly cylindrical, rounded at both ends, and had at least six small appendages. Tiny, measuring about 1 millimeter wide and 4 millimeters deep, it had an amber colored interior and a white shell.
Within two weeks Price had turned over a portion of the "implant" to David Pritchard, a scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who believes scientists should look seriously at the abduction phenomenon. Pritchard says he agreed to analyze the "implant" for one simple reason: "Proving that life exists elsewhere in the universe would be the biggest scientific discovery of all time."
For Pritchard, however, that dream must wait. Indeed, the MIT scientist found the object was made of "the kind of material elements and chemicals--carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, and compounds--one would expect if the object were biological in origin and formed right here on planet Earth."
A dermatopathologist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, moreover, supports Pritchard's conclusion. Thomas Flotte found that the "implant" consists of concentric layers of fibroblasts, a type of cell found in connective tissue, extracellular material like collagen, and some external cotton fibers. The human body apparently produces such calcified tissue in response to injury, either from foreign material like a piece of glass or a wood splinter, or from a trauma of some kind, caused perhaps by a baseball or a table corner.
"This calcification process is common," says Flotte, "though the penis is not a site of trauma all that often." The cotton fibers probably came from Price's underwear; they became incorporated into the body tissue as it hardened.
Pritchard, who with Harvard psychiatrist John Mack organized an abduction conference held at MIT in the summer of 1992, knows of one other penile implant case; upon examination, that implant, too, turned out to be calcified damaged tissue of terrestrial, and human, origin.
But despite the rather mundane outcome, Pritchard feels that the Price implant case is as good as anyone in the business of analyzing possible extraterrestrial artifacts is likely to get. "I thought this object had an extremely good pedigree because it was associated with a conscious recollection," notes Pritchard, "and Price even has a doctor's report indicating that he had something under his skin 10 years ago."
While Pritchard found no sign that the "implant" was an alien artifact, he states his investigation does not rule out the extremely remote possibility that, as believers might argue, the calcified tissue was actually manufactured by aliens.
"It's possible," he explains, "that the aliens are so clever that they can make devices that serve their purposes yet appear to have a prosaic origin as natural products of the human body and fibers from cotton underwear. So this case only rules out the possibility of clumsy aliens. It doesn't rule out the possibility of super-clever aliens."