Conspiracy 4 (1)

Klerksdorp Spheres are the archetypal OOPA.

OOPAs, or Out Of Place Artifacts are the holy grail of several different fringe groups.  An OOPA is an artifact that appears too advanced for its time.  Ancient alien theorists hold them up as examples of contact with a more advanced species.  Creationists hold them up as proof our dating techniques can’t possibly be right.  Doctor Who fans hold them up as Dalek poop.  When you can prove an OOPA, beyond a shadow of a doubt, it demands a revaluation of everything we know.

Always a possibility

The Klerksdorp Spheres are one of the best.  They are perfectly spherical, the kind of sphere you can only create in zero gravity.  These spheres are stronger than steel.  The only “imperfection” on their surface is a series of parallel grooves.  And then comes the weird part.

The spheres are billions of years old.

Photoshopped from the real image.
Typical Klerkdorp Sphere, as described by the internet.

The spheres are only found in one area near Ottosdal, South Africa.  The Kerksdorp spheres are embedded in rocks more than three billion years old.

The only problem is, I haven’t told you the absolute truth on this one.  This is the version of the story you read about on the internet.

The story seems to go back to a South African tabloid called Scope Magazine.  Scope made its mark by bucking the strict censorship laws of the Apartheid government in the 1960’s, including semi-nude models and articles on controversial subjects.  However, not every article they published was revolutionary.  Some of the stories were Weekly-World News-caliber pieces, and their account of their Klerksdorp spheres falls into this category.

It turns out the spheres weren’t as interesting as this particular article suggested.  They are not perfect spheres.  Their surfaces are pitted, and none of them are perfect spheres.  In fact, many of the Klerksdorp spheres are more of Klerksdorp squashes.  And the phrase “as hard as steel,” is sort of useless to a geologist.  There are many different types of steel and they vary in hardness substantially.

Here's what they really look like.
Here’s what they really look like.

On top of this, geologists can explain every aspect of the formation of the Klerksdorp spheres.  It’s part of a well-known process called concretion.  It is a process where sedimentary particles form around a rocky template.  This often gives them otherworldly shapes.
While the Klerksdorp spheres are certainly an interesting story, this is one of my least favorite types of conspiracies theories.  It’s all based on shoddy reporting.  People, books, and articles repeated the legend without bothering to verify them.  It’s basically a printed urban legend that can be completely undermined by adding “citation needed” at the end.

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Robert is a science geek with a passion for science fiction. He has a BS in general biology and currently works in an occupational health lab at The University of Arizona. Additionally, Boumis has published three short stories, all science fiction, and does costuming in his spare time. His interests include classic science fiction novels, sci-fi films, filmmaking, UFOs, and video games. Follow his Facebook here:

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