Saturday, July 27, 2013

24 People Missing in Nome, Alaska - Where Did They Go?

Twenty-four people vanished in Nome, Alaska between 1960 and 2004. None have ever been seen again. So what happened to them? No one, not even the FBI, knows to this day.

With a population of roughly 3,500 residents, Nome is by no means a large town. But it serves as a hub for a number of smaller tribal villages who go there to do their banking, shopping, and socializing. Nome boasts two airports and two radio stations along with a harbor and a lively business district, complete with bars.

When you look closely at it, 24 missing people over a period of 44 years does not sound like a large number. But the fact that none of them were ever found does raise some interesting questions.

Nome lies in the middle of one of the harshest environments in the world. It sits on the treacherous Bering Sea coast where sudden storms, packed ice and rough seas are common. Coupled with the fact that Nome is fairly tolerant of drinking by their Native American populations and visitors, many people have concluded that the missing people brought their Permanent Fund checks to town, got drunk, and simply vanished into the night, never to be seen again.

There are, of course, almost as many theories as there are missing people. For some, these unfortunate people fell victim to the region’s dangerous environment. Others suspect that least a few may have fallen victim to a serial killer.  Some wonder if they might have been kidnapped by aliens.
Alaska has more reports of missing persons than any other state. In 2004 alone, more than 3,400 people were reported missing. The state is rugged, with a harsh and unforgiving climate, and lonely. It is easy to walk out on a nice day only to be enveloped by a sudden blizzard or ice storm. Falls from rocky hillsides and sudden spills into an icy river no doubt account for at least some of the disappearances. Others may fall victim to predators.

Since no bodies or other evidence has ever been recovered of the missing 24 people, it is not likely this mystery will ever be solved.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Missouri’s Mysterious Spook Light

Though it’s usually referred to as the Joplin Spook Light and sometimes as the Hornet Spook Light, this mysterious glowing ball is associated with Oklahoma as well. Its story goes back more than a hundred years.

Apparently this light is only seen on Devil’s Promenade Road located approximately 12 miles southwest of Joplin, Missouri. It is capable of changing colors, though it is usually orange. It is round, varying from baseball to basketball size. It invariably is seen traveling from east to west along the four-mile stretch of Devil’s Promenade Road, and it is said to appear every night, usually between ten o’clock and midnight.

Some witnesses say that it spins at high speeds down the center of the road, then rises and hovers above the treetops before disappearing. Others have said that it sways from side to side.  It has even been reported to appear inside cars.

The earliest reports of the spook light date from 1836 when it was supposedly first seen by Native Americans moving along the infamous Trail of Tears. The first published report was in 1881 in a pamphlet called the “Ozark Spook Light.”

There are several legends associated with the Spook Light. One tells of a man who got lost in the woods and never made it home. His wife took a lantern and set out to look for him, but in vain. She set out night after night look for her missing husband. Eventually she died, but each night, according to the story, her ghost sets out with a lantern in a vain search for her man.

The oldest legend seems to be that of a Quapaw Indian maiden and her lover. Her father would now allow the young couple to marry, so they ran away. As pursuing braves closed in on them, the couple leaped to their deaths above the Spring River. The light was supposedly born that night and represents the ill-fated lovers.

The Spook Light has, of course, been the subject of extensive investigations, both by paranormal investigators and scientific organizations, including the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. No one so far has come up with a satisfactory explanation. Among the theories are natural gas, electrical charges which may be originating from the nearby New Madrid Fault. So far, however, none of the possible explanations can be proven.

Although apparently it defied attempts to photograph it for many years, photos and even video have recently begun to emerge. There’s a great video of the spook light here:

Monday, July 15, 2013

Why Is This Statue Moving?

There is an ancient Egyptian statue in a museum in Manchester, England that has been causing a lot of consternation lately. It has been rotating in its sealed glass case. What’s more, the movement has been caught on camera.

Time-lapse footage indicates that the statue only moves during the day, supporting a theory that
 oot traffic through that part of the museum may be generating enough vibration to allow it to move. There is one problem with that theory. Other statues in the same case do not move. It also moves only 180 degrees and stops.

Religious statues have been known to perform miraculous acts, even moving on occasion. But this statue is that of an Egyptian official named Nebsenu and dates back to around 1800 B.C.  The figure stands in the traditional Egyptian position with the left foot forward. It is wearing a kilt and shoulder-length hair. A request for offerings of bread, beer and beef is carved on its back.

The question is, why, after all these years, has this statue decided to move now? It has been at the museum for 80 years, having been donated in 1933 by Annie Barlow. And why does it only turn 180 degrees? Is it looking for its dinner (you know - the bread, beer and beef)?

If you’d like to find out a little more, visit here

Saturday, July 6, 2013

“Dark Lightning” - How Dangerous Is It?

Scientists have known for the last ten years or so that thunderstorms can generate brief, powerful bursts of gamma rays. These rays are so bright that they can affect instruments hundreds of miles away. Because they can originate near the same altitudes at which commercial aircraft routinely fly, scientists have been studying them to determine just how dangerous gamma ray radiation might be to crew and passengers. But the research was hampered because scientists did not know exactly how thunderstorms generate gamma rays. Now, it seems, there may be at least a few answers to that question.

Scientists at Florida Tech have created a physics-based model showing how thunderstorms product high-energy radiation. The model suggests that thunderstorms can sometimes produce a highly unusual form of electrical breakdown involving high-energy electrons and their anti-matter equivalent known as positrons. The interactions between these particles produces an explosive growth in the number of these high-energy particles, which results in the gamma ray flashes. The particles rapidly discharge the energy in the thundercloud. This phenomenon creates a kind of electrical breakdown within the storms, but produces very little light. For that reason, these gamma ray discharges are known as “dark lightning.”

How dangerous is this “dark lightning” to aircraft passengers and crew who might find themselves caught in the “wrong” thunderstorm? According to the Florida Tech researchers, passengers in aircraft flying near the tops of the storms experience radiation doses equivalent to about ten chest x-rays, or about the same amount of radiation they would receive from natural background sources over a year. But if the aircraft is near the middle of the storm, that radiation dose could be about ten times larger.

Pilots try very hard to avoid thunderstorms, but inevitably a few plans do end up flying inside electrified storms.  When that happens, people may be exposed to sizable doses of radiation caused by the dark lightning. Researchers are now turning their attention to how often this might actually occur, and what the long-term effects of these high exposures might be.

If you would like to read more technical information about dark lightning, visit here