'Jitterbug' Pearce glances skyward as
she adjusts the quartz crystal atop her
homemade UFO attracting device. The
three large tubes are strobe lights
while red lasers, hidden in the short
silver tubes direct light at the
crystal. She hopes the combination of
lights and sound will attract UFOs. The
box at lower right house a compass and
an EMF (electromagnetic field detector)
while the keyboard is available to
communicate notes back to any
intelligence that might answer.
looks like a prop from a low-budget
science-fiction film. But the optimism Julie
"Jitterbug" Pearce exuded Friday
when talking about the likelihood her unlikely
contraption can detect extraterrestrial life
a country home several miles west of Duluth,
Pearce, 23, unveiled an experimental machine
she hopes can detect, attract or even
communicate with alien life forms. With a
little camping gear and a group of adventurous
friends, Pearce is spending the first half of
her weekend monitoring her awkward apparatus,
equipped with colored strobe lights,
low-powered lasers, a radio transmitter and a
series of gauges said to track atmospheric
changes common to extraterrestrial encounters.
said her machine's triangularly patterned
strobe light design, coupled with looped radio
transmissions and laser light refracted
through a quartz crystal, may help signal
aliens in the area.
would deny it's a longshot, and many would
flat out roll their eyes, but Pearce combats
skepticism with an ambitious smile. And, if
nothing else, she says friends around a
campfire make for a pretty good weekend.
of what we see or hear, it still leaves the
mind to wonder," said Pearce, who, with
associate's degrees in art and chemical
dependency counseling from Fond du Lac Tribal
and Community College, someday hopes to study
ever-evolving range of interests got Pearce
thinking UFOs about six months ago. After a
friend was involved in a project to locate the
legendary Bigfoot, Pearce logged onto the
Internet and became inspired by the search for
life beyond Earth.
when she came across an online posting by a
man in Wisconsin who was selling the framework
to a "UFO Attractor." Although many
would have considered the very name of the
item a signal of simplicity and potential
absurdity, Pearce was quick to find out there
was a scientist behind the equipment that she
would come to purchase -- as incomplete as it
"Mike" Muckerheide, a pioneer in
laser technology in the medical and defense
fields, died in December 2003 at age 73 before
completing his UFO Attractor. Whether or not
the Port Washington, Wis., man's home project
would have worked, or what the final product
was supposed to look like, may have died with
for a few hundred bucks, Pearce purchased the
elementary remnants of Muckerheide's
brainchild from his daughter and her husband
in Cedarburg, Wis.
(Muckerheide) wasn't saying there were or
weren't (aliens), but if there were, he wanted
to get them on tape," said daughter Susan
admits the philosophies deployed in building
much of her machine were based on guesswork.
But through Internet research, Pearce said she
incorporated an array of theories popular
among extraterrestrial enthusiasts. For
example, hanging from a chain on her machine
is a small piece of Labradorite. Pearce said
the mineral is said to be found in locations
prone to extraterrestrial encounters. She also
hopes to monitor changes in electromagnetic
in a group chatting about the best and worst
of alien movies, Pearce's friends ranged in
attitudes about her experiment.
could work," said Summer Steward, 20.
"If we think we're the only life form,
we're pretty arrogant."
John Belanger, 23, a cigarette and relaxed
demeanor said it all.
believe in aliens," he said. "But
I'm here just hanging out."
setting up for UFOs isn't too far out there
hesitate to admit this in the current climate.
to put myself square in the middle of a bull's-eye, and
be the one to hand out the rotten tomatoes. But I have
an opinion I'd like to share about the possible
existence of alternate life forms - and, no, I am not
talking about Michael Jackson.
am one of that small number of much-maligned, much
misunderstood Americans who don't believe in
know. I know. I know what mainstream America thinks of
independent-minded people like me. Crazy. Deluded.
About as rational as Woody Harrelson. I am not
hankering for a fight.
fact, until now, when the subject of UFOs and
non-earthbound life forms came up in conversation at
cocktail parties (usually in those rare few minutes in
the beginning when everyone is sober), I would simply
nod my head and keep my mouth shut. Because, nowadays,
absolutely everyone, if not an outright believer,
professes themselves open to "the
Thursday - a day not even close to April 1 - the
Ozaukee Press, ran a banner headline across the top of
its front page stating, "Inventors hope device
will lure UFOs to Port."
was not the National Enquirer. This was an established
local paper with news judgment and accolades as one of
the best weeklies in Wisconsin - and for a reason.
They were a day ahead of the New York Times. Or close
Friday, the New York Times reported that astronomers
have, "for the first time found a planetary
system of a distant star that in significant respects
reminds them of the sun's family of planets." The
other "sun" is known as 55 Cancri, and is
like ours in age and size. There is also a
Jupiter-like planet nearby, which is important because
our Jupiter was pivotal in "setting up conditions
conducive to life on Earth."
not inconceivable, astronomers say, that somewhere
between the Jupiter-class planet and its star orbits
an Earth-like planet," according to the Times.
on Earth, the Ozaukee Press story was about three
local men - Myron "Mike" Muckerheide, Dee
Willden and Allan "Butch" Klopp - building
"The Attractor," a device to be placed in
called up Muckerheide and asked if I could stop by,
expecting to find a guy with tinfoil wrapped around
his head and living underneath some particularly
high-voltage power lines.
I found an articulate, 72-year-old, obviously
successful man with a beautiful house and expansive
yard on the shores of Lake Michigan - a guy who was
once director of the laser laboratory at St. Mary's
Hospital and has his name in books I can't even
Milwaukee Journal in the 1980s described him as a guy
who worked with a surgeon to develop a laser that
could put pinhead-sized holes in the heart.
only pinhead I have experience with, it occurred to
me, is the one typing this column.
Muckerheide confirmed matter-of-factly, he and his
cohorts are building three 27-inch diameter mechanisms
that could - possibly, they think - both attract and
lights, some infrared, set in a pattern and flashing
sequentially will be used to, perhaps, draw the craft
in. All sorts of other equipment, ranging from a laser
magnetometer, a range finder, an ion chamber, a
shortwave scanner and audio and video recording
equipment will document whatever appears.
calls the endeavor a "long shot," says that
if something shows up he would be "amazed by
it." But he is serious when he says, "I
think most people deep inside expect something is
do I think? I think I'd be a little surprised
if anything other than a New York Times reporter
landed in Muckerheide's backyard. But if anything
does, I'll gladly eat my hat.
Washington UFO 'attractor' project
Kristyn Halbig Ziehm
- Ozaukee Press
say they don't necessarily believe in flying
saucers, but three Port Washington men have
set out to determine whether UFOs exist.
The men -- Myron 'Mike' Muckerheide, Dee
Willden and Allen 'Butch' Klopp -- are
building what they call the Attractor, a
device intended to lure UFOs to the area and
record information about them.
They plan to have the bulk of the system up
and operating in the back yard of
Muckerheide's home atop the Lake Michigan
bluff next month.
"There's been so much controversy -- are
there (UFOs) or not(?)" Muckerheide said.
"We thought it would be a good thing to
try to find out. We're fishing. Lake Michigan
is a good place to go fishing."
The men said they realize their venture will
give some people pause, but they are serious.
"Some will say we're nuts," said
Willden. "We're open-minded. We're just
trying to find out are there UFOs or
"There are going to be people upset about
this," Muckerheide added. "It's a
harmless thing. We're not hurting
"I think fear is a factor. Whenever
things aren't known, there is fear. Me? I'm
Anyone interested in what they are doing is
invited to check out the Attractor, the men
said. They're particularly interested in
talking to anyone who has seen a UFO.
"We invite the curious," Muckerheide
The men are reviewing the need for any
licenses to run their module, he said. If it
can't be placed in his Noridge Drive yard, he
added, they will consider placing it
Muckerheide and Willden said they've been
intrigued by the topic of UFOs for a long
There has been an increase in UFO sightings in
eastern and central Wisconsin recently,
Muckerheide said, and this spurred their
One sighting that intrigued the men was in
Port Washington in October 1998 (see: www.ufowisconsin.com/county/reports/r1998_1015_ozaukee.html).
According to a report by the National
Institute of Discovery Science, a woman and
her husband saw a large craft about 500 feet
in the air above their home moving silently.
The UFO executed a perfect, rapid, flat bank
before flying slowly over the lake.
Still, the men said, it took some time to
decide whether to pursue the project.
"We talked about it for three or four
months," Willden said. First, we had to
kind of talk ourselves into it."
They have poured themselves into the project,
spending a considerable amount of time
researching the topic and designing the
"We're looking at advanced
technology," Muckerheide said.
"We're not fooling around.
This is the kind of thing that is high-tech,
it has possibilities, and it's worth a shot.
Besides that, it's exciting."
Although plans for the Attractor are still
evolving, the device will have three domed
modules arranged in an 8-foot triangle and a
decahedron (10-sided) module placed off to the
The domes, which each measure about two feet
in diameter, and are 14 inches deep, will
contain a variety of equipment. There will be
a laser magnetometer, which will measure even
small changes in magnetic fields.
"In many sightings, they've found that
compasses were affected," Muckerheide
said. "Any deflection will set off a
bunch of other systems for recording."
There will be a range finder to measure how
far away the object is, and a barometer
sphere. An ion chamber will determine
Solar panels will charge the circuits, and a
shortwave scanner will monitor high and low
frequencies. The scanner will pick up beacon
and satellite tones, Muckerheide said.
An audio receiver and tape recorder, as well
as a video recorder and an infrared viewer,
will be in the module.
An on-board computer will run the modules.
In addition, there will be a ring of lights
around the perimeter of each module. The red
and white lights will pulse in sequence and
The pattern of lights has been copied from
configurations reported on a number of UFO
sightings, Muckerheide said. Strobe lights may
also be used, he added.
The decahedron module will contain a variety
of lights that will diffuse and shine in
patterns. This module probably won't be
operating until August.
The lights used in the Attractor will shine
500 to 1,000 feet into the air, Muckerheide
Once the devices are in place, Muckerheide
said, he won't stand around watching for UFOs.
"I'm going to let the system find
them," he said. "When it senses
something, it'll turn on the video camera and
The device will detect things 50 feet above
the surface or higher, Muckerheide said.
"It'll pick up a plane, but that's a
definite signature," he said. "We'll
know if it's something normal."
While some people snicker when hearing about
the device and the men's quest, Klopp said
they should be taken seriously.
"Don't take these guys lightly," he
warned, "These guys do everything
Their background bears that out.
Muckerheide is a scientist whose specialty is
laser technology. He has received eight
patents dealing with lasers.
Muckerheide talked about the early 1960s, when
scientists -- himself included -- raced to
become the first to create a laser. He wasn't
the first, but he devoted his career to
working with laser in the medical, weapons,
space and corporate fields.
"It consumed my life," Muckerheide
said, "It put total direction in my life.
Lasers have taken me from aligning sever pipes
to meeting with White House security people
during the Iraq war. Some of the lasers I've
worked on are so powerful the air explodes
into plasma and it sounds like rolling
Willden, one of the founders of Matrix
Packaging Machinery in Saukville, has spent
much of his life in the food processing
industry and has several patents pending for
laser technology. He met Muckerheide 20 years
ago when they both worked at St. Mary's
Klopp, the newest member of the group, brings
experience in underwater diving and that
expertise can be applied to their current
project, the others said.
Muckerheide said he's been interested in the
subject of UFOs for years. He's talked to many
men, some of them respected members of the
military and scientific communities, who have
seen these objects.
"I've talked to astronauts about UFO's
too," he said. "Some believe, some
If UFOs are real, Muckerheide said, the
technology used to create them shows that
those who operate them are intelligent.
"If they're that intelligent, they're
peace-loving beings," he said. "What
must they think of our wars?"
"I think they're concerned about these
atomic bombs we have."
It's likely that people have little to fear
from them, Muckerheide said, noting that they
have not interfered or caused problems in the
"I think they're going to be as
interested in us as we are in them,"
The men are cautiously optimistic about their
chances for success.
"I just hope if there is some contact, we
can record it and prove it," Muckerheide
"That's the bottom line, to see if there
is anything," Willden said. "Just
because we don't make contact doesn't mean
there's nothing there."
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