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The 1954 French flap:

The index page for the 1954 French flap section of this website is here.

Mois jour, 1954, France:

Reference number for this case: 54-France-jgu01. Thank you for including this reference number in any correspondence with me regarding this case.

Summary:

Science-fiction writer and pioneering ufologist Jimmy Guieu apparently found or reported this incident in an article he wrote for the regional newspaper Le Méridional in 1954.

He reported it also in the third quarter of 1954 in his article "From the 'Windshield cancer' to the Flying Saucers" in his ufology magazine Ouranos, No. 12, and also in the English version of his magazine, in October 1954, edited by his friend Eric Biddle. He told:

"This strange 'glass cancer' was not only satisfied with windshields and other windows of cars and trucks. "Evil" is now attacking ordinary glass. There have been inexplicable burstings of empty bottles, glass ashtrays, Pyrex wood, and; even wristwatch glasses, not to mention drinking glasses! It should be noted that these objects - as well as most windshields - were neither touched nor hit."

"Two recent cases of "glass cancer" are clearly distinguished by their strangeness. The first was witnessed by one of my friends, Mr. Chabot, a technical translator at a major aircraft manufacturing plant."

"After having lunch with a latte, Mr. Chabot placed his Pyrex bowl on a wooden table, covered with a "waxed cloth" in plastic material. The bowl was barely warm. Mr. Chabot went about his business when, suddenly, behind his back, a violent detonation made him jump. He turned around, looked around the room and noticed, not without surprise, that his bowl had disappeared, literally pulverized in innumerable pieces, the largest of which did not reach the diameter of a lens! The explosion of the bowl had been so violent that many pieces of glass became embedded in the upholstery fabric (a thick and strong fabric) covering the chairs of the dining room!"

This case, which is - loosely - related to the numerous reported incidents that were called "parebrisite", ("windshield cancer") in France and the USA in 1954, lead Jimmy Guieu on the one hand to propose in his 1954 article that the glass would be eaten by extraterrestrial microbes that came to Earth by panspermia, and secondly to publish in 1955 a science-fiction novel, "L'Agonie du Verre" ("The Agony of Glass"), in which he staged such incident, and this theory about them.

Reports:

[Ref. jgu1:] JIMMY GUIEU:

THIS "GLASS CANCER" ATTACKS EVERYTHING. - This strange "glass cancer" was not only satisfied with windshields and other windows of cars and trucks. "Evil" is now attacking ordinary glass. There have been inexplicable burstings of empty bottles, glass ashtrays, Pyrex wood, and; even wristwatch glasses, not to mention drinking glasses! It should be noted that these objects - as well as most windshields - were neither touched nor hit.

Two recent cases of "glass cancer" are clearly distinguished by their strangeness. The first was witnessed by one of my friends, Mr. Chabot, a technical translator at a major aircraft manufacturing plant.

After having lunch with a latte, Mr. Chabot placed his Pyrex bowl on a wooden table, covered with a "waxed cloth" in plastic material. The bowl was barely warm. Mr. Chabot went about his business when, suddenly, behind his back, a violent detonation made him jump. He turned around, looked around the room and noticed, not without surprise, that his bowl had disappeared, literally pulverized in innumerable pieces, the largest of which did not reach the diameter of a lens! The explosion of the bowl had been so violent that many pieces of glass became embedded in the upholstery fabric (a thick and strong fabric) covering the chairs of the dining room!

Note: In his article, Jimmy Guieu then explains most seriously that this may be due to glass being eaten by extraterrestrial "microbes" coming to Earth by panspermia...

Explanations:

The windshields "explosions" in 1954, called "window cancer" or "parebrisite" in French, has become an often cited example of "collective illusion" or "mass hysteria". Sociologists and psychologists refer to these incidents in France and in the United States to ensure that "crowds" can easily fall into unfounded collective myths.

And of course, some "skeptical" ufologists explain that the "window cancer" that preceded the wave of "flying saucers" of 1954 proves that the saucers too were only illusions.

None put forward the following point: "collective hysteria" here would in any case concern only the interpretation of the facts, not the facts themselves. And the interpretations were not really "hysterical", they were attempts at rationalization quite understandable and sensible in the context of the time.

All sorts of explanations were advanced at the time for the "window cancer", such as an effect of atomic experiments, Martian activity, or "vandals". In the United States, the police found that the epidemic affected mainly old cars, and it was thought that the windows would explode as a result of their wear.

In the windshield explosions reported in France in 1954, I find "constants": the mention of a light or a flash, blue when the color is mentioned, the lack of sens of the explanations by vandals, Martians, atomic tests, the insistence of the witness(es) that no pebble struck the windshield, the hearing of an explosion sound, the opacity of the window after the explosion.

Some of these characteristics have really no strangeness: an explosion noise is perfectly normal when a windshield breaks. The window becomes opaque because the anti-burst protection layer produced this. The lack of notice of a shock by a pebble or something else can also be explained: the windshield may have been hit and weakened by a hit long before, and then explodes only later when nothing hits it.

I have less ideas about the flash or the light. Is it an illusion caused by the sudden opacity of the glass?

Jimmy Guieu linked this mystery to the extraterrestrials, but few ufologists followed him on this path. The Press did it sometimes, but without claiming this "explanation" was serious.

As for this case, it looks so anecdotal that I do not think it would help solving the flying sucer mystery.

The theory of glass-eating microbes from space leaves me both admiring and sorry: that Guieu had knowledge of the theory of panspermia, little published in 1954, shows his great curiosity of mind. But glass is certainly not valid "food" for any form of life, it is perfectly amorphous silica, without "energy supply" potential at all.

Keywords:

(These keywords are only to help queries and are not implying anything.)

Chabot, glass cancer, parebrisite, glass, explosion

Sources:

[----] indicates sources which I have not yet checked.

Document history:

Version: Created/Changed by: Date: Change Description:
1.0 Patrick Gross September 1, 2019 First published.

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This page was last updated on September 1, 2019.