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Dr. James A. Harder, Ph.D.

James Albert Harder, Ph.D., (1926–2006) was born in Fullerton, California in 1926. He received his B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering from the California Institute of Technology (1948), his M.S. in Civil Engineering (1953), and Ph.D. in Fluid Mechanics (1957) both from the University of California. In 1994, he had retired as a professor of Hydraulic Engineering with responsibilities in Bioengineering, from the University of California at Berkeley.

Dr. Harder's research activities had been in the field of applied mathematics, sediment transport mechanics, analogue and digital simulation, and feedback control systems. His bioengineering interests were in the design of artificial internal organs.

UFO research

Dr. Harder was perhaps best known as a prominent UFO researcher who has studied the subject for over 50 years, first becoming interested in 1952. He was Director of Research for the Aerial Phenomena Research Organization (APRO) from 1969-1982. APRO was one of the first civilian organizations to study the UFO phenomenon. When the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science and Astronautics held hearings on UFOs in 1968, he was one of six scientists asked to testify on UFOs before the committee. In a 1998 interview, Harder said the subject was generally treated with disdain by the scientific community, but he was still one of about 300 academics who were actively investigating the phenomenon.

Harder was the primary investigator on a number of classical UFO cases, mainly related to alien abductions, including the 1973 Pascagoula Abduction and the 1975 Travis Walton case. He also took over the Betty and Barney Hill abduction investigation and continued it for many years. According to Harder, in about 95% of abduction cases he's studied, abductees report the encounter as positive, benevolent, and/or enlightening. He also investigated the claims of legendary CIA remote viewer Pat Price (who allegedly died under suspicious circumstances in 1975). Based on his remote viewing, Price believed aliens had underground bases at four locations on Earth.

Opinions and theories on UFOs and aliens

Harder had long been a strong advocate of extraterrestrial origins for UFOs, or the Extraterrestrial hypothesis. He also firmly believeed that the subject has been covered up by the U.S. government, which he thought was extremely worried about what is happening.

One of his more controversial statements, based primarily on hypnotic regressions on alien abductees, is that there is a "Galactic Federation" of aliens similar to our United Nations. There are perhaps as many as 57 alien species in this Federation (a number, he says, which frequently pops up in abductee recollections). Some have been visiting Earth and studying humans for a very long time, and are generally benevolent, he believes (though not always). Many communicate through telepathy, and, said Harder, can sometimes be channeled through subjects while they are hypnotized.

Harder had also applied his physical sciences and engineering background to the study of UFOs. In his Congressional testimony of 1968, Harder mentioned physical analysis of magnesium fragments found in 1957 near Ubatuba, Brazil, said to have come from an exploded flying saucer. The magnesium was of very high purity. Harder conjectured that the lightweight metal, normally very brittle, might become exceptionally hard and strong if purified and made free from crystalline defects. If that were the case, it would be a very good metal for the construction of a flying device. Construction of such high-strength metals is now thought possible with insights gained from the emerging field of nanotechnology.

Another theory advanced by Harder arose from a sighting of an oval UFO by a chemist named Wells Allen Webb near Phoenix. Webb was wearing Polaroid glasses and noticed three concentric dark rings around the object. Harder thought the observation might be explained by a very powerful magnetic field surrounding the object causing polarized light from the sun to be rotated, or the Faraday effect. Exactly how this magnetic field might explain the object's propulsion was unclear, but he thought it might be connected with gravitomagnetism, an analog of electromagnetism, predicted from general relativity. Theoretically, a gravity-like field can be generated by a moving mass, but the effect is normally minuscule. Harder was again unsure how a practical gravitomagnetic force might be produced.


B.S., 1948, California Institute of Technology
M.S., Civil Engineering, 1952, UC Berkeley
Ph.D., Fluid Mechanics, 1957, UC Berkeley


• U.S. Navy, 1944-45 (electronics technician)
• Design Engineer, soil conservation service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1948–50
• UC Berkeley, Resident Engineer, 1952–57
• UC Berkeley, Assistant Professor, Hydraulic Engineering, 1957–62
• UC Berkeley, Associate Professor of Civil Engineering, 1962–70
• UC Berkeley, Professor of Civil Engineering, 1970–91
• UC Berkeley, Professor Emeritus (1991)

Primary fields of interest: Hydraulic systems analysis; surface water hydrology; analog simulation.


• Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
• Fellow of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE)
• Founding member, Society for Scientific Exploration

Short biography and 1968 congressional statement



MUFON 1994 International UFO Symposium Proceedings
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