Science, Art, Litt, Science based Art & Science Communication

We come across some interesting things happening in Nature now and then and sometimes all the time. The media goes into overdrive. Stories, speculations and explanations run amok. But the wise call the scientists to explain things. 

We here stick strictly to science. Let us see what scientists say about these interesting things...

Red Rainbows:

Do you think rainbows are only multicoloured? Yes? No! You are wrong. There can be monochrome or single coloured rainbows too!

A  Monochrome or Red Rainbow is an optical and meteorological phenomenon and a rare variation of the more commonly seen multicoloured rainbow. Normally observed at either sunrise or sunset, a monochrome rainbow requires a particular combination of atmospheric conditions to form.

Image result for Red rainbows/pics

Some rainbows don’t contain all the colors of the rainbow. The height of the sun above the horizon can yield arcs that contain only a fraction of the traditional ROYGBIV, researchers reported on December 17 (2015) at the American Geophysical Union’s fall meeting.

Rainbows appear when sunlight bends as it passes through airborne water droplets. Different parts of the light spectrum bend by different amounts, breaking the light into its individual color components and creating a colorful arc.

On rare occasion, a rainbow will contain just part of the color spectrum. Previous work suggested that these less colorful or even monochromatic rainbows form primarily due to the size of the light-bending water droplets. Atmospheric scientist Jean Ricard of the National Centre for Meteorological Research in Toulouse, France, and colleagues cataloged hundreds of photographs of rainbows. They discovered that the sun’s position plays a much larger role than previously thought. During sunset, the sun’s low point means light has to travel a longer distance through the atmosphere. During the journey, the air scatters away the cooler colors. The redder remaining light thickens a rainbow’s red band, eventually squeezing out the violet, blue and orange band and leaving behind a red-only rainbow.


Fire Rainbows:

These colorful offshoots are a large halo of refracted light, and despite their nickname, they have nothing to do with either fire or rainbows. They only occur when the sun is at least 58 degrees above the horizon, when there are cirrus clouds in the sky that are filled with plate-shaped ice crystals. The refraction of light is always parallel to the horizon, and because the arcs are so big, only sections of them are ever commonly seen—which is why it can look like certain patches of cloud are on fire.

Multiple rainbows:

A ray of sunlight passes through a raindrop, reflecting off the back of the drop at varying angles.

Along with this reflection is refraction of light that causes of a spectrum of colors-- red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet.

Certain angles and "bending" reflect light better for refraction to occur, and the amount of light refraction corresponds to wavelength and color.

For example, blue light is always refracted at a deeper angle than red light. This is the reason blue is found at the inside of the bow and red on the very outside.

Nature's natural color spectrum always elicits the same pattern (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet) when light is refracted.

While a primary rainbow is visible when light is reflected once off the back of a raindrop, a secondary and usually dimmer rainbow is spotted when light is reflected twice in a more complicated pattern.

The colors of the second rainbow are inverted, with blue on the outside and red moved to the inside. The second bow appears dimmer or cloudier because much more light is released from two reflections, and both bows cover a larger portion of the sky.

It is rare and unlikely, but three or even four rainbows can be seen on occasion, but only if they are reflected off of the earthly objects.

Pic Credit/ NASA

White Rainbows or fog bows: These are formed by arched fog!

FOGBOW Sunlight shining through fog gives rise to a white bow. Fog drops are at least an order of size smaller than raindrops. Rather than splitting the colors into well-defined bands, the small drops create much broader bows that overlap and merge into a ghostlike arc. Only the lens-focusing effect of the drop's surface remains distinct, maintaining the high-intensity white bow.

White rainbow or fog bow ( Source: Google images)

Green Flash

Sunsets are reddened because for sun positions which are very low or just below the horizon, the light passing at grazing incidence upon the earth must pass through a greater thickness of air than when it is overhead. Just before the sun disappears from view, its actual position is about a diameter below the horizon, the light having been bent by refraction (refraction is the bending of a wave when it enters a medium where its speed is different. The refraction of light when it passes from a fast medium to a slow medium bends the light ray toward the normal to the boundary between the two media) to reach our eyes. Since short wavelengths are more efficiently scattered, more of them are scattered out of the beam of sunlight before it reaches you. Aerosols and particulate matter contribute to the scattering of blue out of the beam, so brilliant reds are seen when there are many airborne particles, as after volcanic eruptions.

A green flash, which occurs more commonly at sunset — but can also occur at sunrise — is a phenomenon in which part of the sun can be observed suddenly and briefly changing color. It usually lasts only a second or two — which is why it is referred a flash — as the sun changes from red or orange at sunset, for example.

The green flash is viewable because refraction bends the light of the sun. The atmosphere acts as a weak prism, which separates light into various colors. When the sun's disk is fully visible above the horizon, the different colors of light rays overlap to an extent where each individual color can't be seen by the naked eye.

When the sun starts to dip below the horizon the colors of the spectrum disappear one at a time, starting with those with the longest wavelengths to those with the shortest. At sunrise, the process is reversed, and a green flash may occur as the top of the sun peeks above the horizon.

Purple haze:

Heard about "Purple Haze",  a song written by Jimi Hendrix?  The purple haze I am talking about is different!
Photographs appearing to show one of China’s most famous cities shrouded in a spectacular violet mist went viral on 23rd, Dec., 2015, as millions of citizens choked on the country’s latest bout of toxic smog. Pollution levels in Nanjing on 22nd and 23rd were more than 10 times higher than those deemed safe by the World Health Organisation.

The fluorescent purple haze that engulfed Nanjing – reportedly the result of a pollution-tinged sunset – was at one point the second most talked-about topic on Weibo, China’s 'Twitter'.

According to Chinese scientists, smog came in only three shades: white, grey and brown. Pink skies did not represent a new threat to the city’s residents.  And people do not need to be afraid.

The lavender-coloured skies had been caused by the combination of a sunset’s glow and a spike in pollution rather than a specific pollutant. It was caused by refraction of sunlight in the evening hours.

Halos around moon:

Sometimes we observe rings around moon. The moon can produce interesting optical effects when conditions are right. The most common of which are moon rings, moon bows, which are similar to rainbows, moon dogs and moon pillars. A rainbow is produced when sunlight is refracted through water droplets - A similar effect is produced when moon light refracts through ice crystals.

The ring around the Moon is caused by the refraction of Moonlight (which is reflected sunlight) from six-sided ice crystals in the upper atmosphere. The shape of the ice crystals results in a focusing of the light into a ring. These ice crystals refract, or bend, light in the same manner that a camera lens bends light. The ring has a diameter of 22° , and sometimes,  it is also possible to detect a second ring, 44° diameter. Thin high cirrus clouds lofting at 20,000 feet or more contain tiny ice crystals that originate from the freezing of super cooled water droplets. These crystals behave like jewels refracting and reflecting in different directions.

Moon halo ( Image source: Google images)
The ring around the Moon is caused by the refraction of Moonlight (which of course is reflected sunlight) from ice crystals in the upper atmosphere. The shape of the ice crystals results in a focusing of the light into a ring. Since the ice crystals typically have the same shape, namely a hexagonal shape, the Moon ring is almost always the same size.

Less typical are the halos that may be produced by different angles in the crystals. They can create halos with an angle of 46 degrees.

Solar and Lunar Coronas:

A corona is produced by the diffraction (refers to various phenomena which occur when a wave encounters an obstacle or a slit) of light from either the Sun or the Moon by individual small water droplets and sometimes tiny ice crystalsa of a cloud or on a foggy glass surface. The corona consists of small number of concentric colored rings around the celestial object and a central bright aureole. The angular size of the corona depends on the diameters of the cloud droplets - small droplets produce large coronae. For the same reason, the corona is clearest when the size of the droplets is most uniform. Coronae differ from haloes in that the latter are formed by refraction (the change in direction of propagation of a wave due to a change in its transmission medium) from comparatively large rather than small ice crystals. Reddish colors always occupy the outer part of a corona's ring. A corona is essentially an Airy disc caused by the atmosphere.

Solar Corona

The effect caused by moon light is called Lunar corona. Just like lunar halos, coronas are produced by high thin clouds. But unlike halos coronas are very small in size.

Caves that Glow:

Waitomo Glowworm Caves in the New Zealand. The glow worm, Arachnocampa luminosa, is unique to New Zealand. Thousands of these tiny creatures radiate their unmistakable luminescent light in the caves. Actually it is these worms that make the caves glow.

Arachnocampa species go through a life cycle of eggs hatching to larvae, and then pupating to an adult fly. They spend most of their life as larvae.

The larval stage lasts about 6 to 12 months, depending on food. The larva emerges from the egg only about 3 to 5 millimetres long, and through its life grows to about 3 centimeters.

The larva spins a nest out of silk on the ceiling of the cave and then hangs down as many as 70 threads of silk (called snares) from around the nest, each up to 30 or 40 cm long and holding droplets of mucus. The larvae can only live in a place out of the wind, to stop their lines being tangled, hence caves, overhangs or deep rainforest. In some species, the droplets of mucus on the silk threads are poisonous, enhancing the trap's ability to subdue prey quickly.

The larva glows to attract prey into its threads, perhaps luring them into believing they are outdoors, for the roof of a cave covered with larva can look remarkably like a blue starry sky at night. A hungry larva glows brighter than one which has just eaten.

Waves that glow:

Have you ever seen waves on a sea shore glowing like a starry night sky? You will when you visit the places where you have marine creature that glow!

Picture and explanation credit: National geographic

The biological light, or bioluminescence, in the waves is the product of marine microbes called phytoplankton—and now scientists think they know how some of these life-forms create their brilliant blue glow and their lights can be seen in oceans all around the world.
In a study, published in October 2011 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a team of scientists confirmed the existence of channels in dinoflagellates that allow only protons—positively charged particles—to pass through.

"The newly discovered channel had just the right properties needed to trigger the flash," said study co-author Thomas DeCoursey, an electrophysiologist at Rush University in Chicago. "If you replaced the dinoflagellate channel with the [corresponding cell] channel from humans or mice or snails, it could not do the job."

The study authors propose that, as dinoflagellates float, movement in the surrounding water sends electrical impulses around a proton-filled compartment inside the microorganisms.

The electrical pulses open the voltage-sensitive proton channels, triggering a series of chemical reactions, which ultimately activate a protein called luciferase that produces the neon blue light.

Auroras: (Northern and Southern lights)

In the corona (or upper atmosphere) of the sun, temperatures can reach over a million degrees. This is so hot that atoms break down into their component parts: electrically-charged electrons and protons. Some of them are launched out from the sun at up to 500 miles per second in a phenomenon known as the "solar wind." After about three days these charged particles reach the earth.

The solar wind would be dangerous to life on our planet, but fortunately our the earth possesses a magnetic field generated by the rotation of planet's iron core. This field, called the magnetosphere, directs most of the charged particles around the globe. A small portion of the particles, however, are trapped in the field and follow it down to the earth's magnetic North and South Poles. The electrons remain invisible to our eyes until they collide with gas molecules in the upper atmosphere. When an electron is absorbed by an atom, the atom becomes ionized, or excited. The atom then loses that excitement by emitting a photon of light or by colliding with another atom or molecule. The color of the emitted photons depends on which gas molecule is struck and at what altitude. At heights of 250 miles (402km) or above, oxygen will glow green and below that point, red or pink. A nitrogen molecule hit from 80 to 100 miles (80 to 160km) up produces blue or violet. Between 60 and 80 miles(96 to 128km) in altitude both nitrogen and oxygen glow pink.

Above Photo Credit:NASA

Volcanic Lightning:

A lightning storm that takes place in the middle of a volcanic eruption. Scientists aren’t 100% sure why this happens, but the primary theory goes that when a volcano erupts, it projects positively-charged debris into the atmosphere. These charges then react with negative charges already present, which results in a bolt of lightning.
Two new studies reveal different reasons for lightning above erupting volcanoes. One cause is static electricity, from particles rubbing together in dense ash clouds near the ground. The other source of lightning happens near the stratosphere, high above the Earth's surface, where jockeying ice crystals unleash powerful jolts. 
Ice also plays a role in volcanic lightning, a separate study found. Researchers tracked the location of lightning strikes during an April 2015 eruption of Calbuco volcano in Chile. In this case, the bolts were breaking some 60 miles (about 100 kilometers) from the eruption, and at near-stratospheric heights of about 12 miles (20 km) above Earth's surface. The scientists think ice formed in the top of the thinning ash cloud—which was also carrying water vapor—producing lightning like a thundercloud does. The study was published April 12 (2016) in Geophysical Research Letters.

Light Poles:

This phenomenon is known as ‘light poles’ and it can be seen at nights over the large cities with different colored lights.

‘Light poles’ can be seen at nights over the large cities with different colored lights. They can only be seen during very cold weather (the temperature of -20 Celsius degrees or lower is required). Also the wind must not blow fast and there has to be a plenty of tiny ice crystals in the atmosphere. That is why you don’t see this so often.
This striking effect only requires light and water. When light, natural or artificial, gets to the point of ice crystals contained in the air (usually close to the ground), it is reflected from them. When the light source is close to the ground or directly on it, hovering above the crystals appear light pole. The light pole looks like a narrow column that rises vertically and / or lowers down from the light source especially if it happens at night and is caused by exposure to artificial light. Light poles can also be caused by the light emanating from the sun (then called the solar poles) or the moon. When the light is refracted through the crystals, we can see a pillar of light but depending on the angle, the pillar can be above or below the light source.

Earthquake lights:
Earthquake lights are a rare phenomenon resulting from specific geological conditions. Rocks subjected to great stress produce electrical charges that can be channeled to the surface through deep vertical faults

The lights are caused by electrical properties of certain rocks in specific settings, report scientists in a new paper.

Sometimes called earthquake lightning, the lights can take "many different shapes, forms, and colors," says study authors.

Common forms of earthquake lights include bluish flames that appear to come out of the ground at ankle height; orbs of light called ball lightening that float in the air for tens of seconds or even minutes; and quick flashes of bright light that resemble regular lightning strikes, except they come out of the ground instead of the sky and can stretch up to 650 feet (200 meters).


Blood Falls in Antarctica:

Image result for blood falls pictures

The coldest and driest place on the planet has a blood-red waterfall pouring down slowly into the McMurdo Dry Valleys, some of the most extreme desert lands on Earth.

What causes the mysterious flow was only recently “discovered” in a study.

Scientists thought for many years red algae gave the creepy color.

But now research has shown that iron oxide is responsible for the hue. The waterfall even contains strange bacterial lifeforms. 

Magnetic Hill:

At the Magnetic hill,  Moncton, New Brunswick, and other magnetic Hills around the world, as impossible as it sounds, your car will start to "roll" uphill. “And it doesn’t just work on cars – vans, trucks and even tour buses roll upward in total defiance of natural law.

A Japanese scientist has won an award for duplicating the kind of optical illusion that for decades has baffled tourists who visit the fabled Magnetic Hill in Moncton, N.B.

Kokichi Sugihara of the Meiji Institute for Advanced Study of Mathematical Sciences won the international competition for Best Visual Illusion of 2010, at the Philharmonic Center for the Arts in Naples, Fla., for showing how objects can appear to roll uphill, as if they are being pulled by a magnet.

That kind of illusion has been drawing tourists to the southeastern New Brunswick city since the 1930s.

Sugihara's video, "Impossible motion: magnet-like slopes" shows a structure with four slopes. At the start, four wooden balls all appear to roll up the slopes against gravity. But as the camera circles the structure, the slopes are seen to be actually pointed down.

It just is an optical illusion.

Moving stones of Racetrack Playa, Death Valley, California

Located in a remote valley between the Cottonwood and Last Chance Ranges,  Racetrack Playa is a place of spectacular beauty and mystery.

The Racetrack is a dry lakebed, best known for its strange moving rocks. It looks like they “sailed” through the valley. Although no one has actually seen the rocks move, the long meandering tracks left behind in the mud surface of the playa attest to their activity.

According to scientists, thin sheets of ice push rocks across a dry lake in Death Valley when conditions are just right.

Because the stones can sit for a decade or more without moving, scientists decided to monitor them remotely by installing a weather station capable of measuring gusts to one-second intervals and fitting 15 stones with custom-built, motion-activated GPS units.

Their experiments showed that moving the stones requires a rare combination of events.

First, the playa fills with water, which must be deep enough to form floating ice during cold winter nights but shallow enough to expose the stones. As nighttime temperatures plummet, the pond freezes to form thin sheets of ‘windowpane’ ice, which must be thin enough to move freely but thick enough to maintain strength. On sunny days, the ice begins to melt and break up into large floating panels, which light winds drive across the playa, pushing rocks in front of them and leaving trails in the soft mud below the surface.

The stones moved under light winds of about 3-5 m per second and were driven by ice less than 3-5 mm thick, a measure too thin to grip large stones and lift them off the playa, which several papers had proposed as a mechanism to reduce friction. Further, the stones moved only 2-6 m per minute, a speed that is almost imperceptible at a distance and without stationary reference points.

Individual stones remained in motion for anywhere from a few seconds to 16 minutes.

In one event, the scientists observed stones three football fields apart began moving simultaneously and traveled over 60 m before stopping.


Frost Quakes:

Frost quakes typically strike after a cold snap rapidly drops temperatures well below freezing. The quick freeze makes ice in the ground swiftly expand and crack, producing loud booms. Though frost quakes sometimes shake the ground, their effects are localized, so the tremors are rarely caught on earthquake monitors. A similar phenomenon called ice quakes can loudly crack the ice in lakes and rivers.

Both frost quakes and ice quakes are known as cryoseisms. A few crysoseisms hit every winter in Canada. They've also been reported in the Northeast, Midwest and Alaska.

Fairy circles: Fairy circles, each among about six close neighbors, sprinkle arid grasslands in southern Africa and Australia “like a polka dot dress".

Image result for Fairy circles/pics

Termites, by themselves, can in theory cause the mysterious arrangements, Tarnita, Princeton ecologist Robert Pringle and colleagues conclude from a new mathematical model they developed. They then linked their insect model with one showing plant competition causing fairy circles. The combined approach unexpectedly predicted a previously undescribed regular “clumping” pattern among the plants between fairy circles, the team reports January 18, 2017 in Nature.

In aerial pictures of fairy circles, the plants look like an even sea of vegetation between bare spots. To see if the plant patterns were real, the researchers visited the Namib Desert in southern Africa. Local park personnel “were constantly confused,” Tarnita says, because visitors usually study the bare patches. The vegetation clumped as predicted, in roughly hexagonal arrays as the circles themselves do. That confirmation suggests the combined model was working, the researchers say.

Hexagonal arrangements show up repeatedly in nature as creatures crowd together — for instance, as bees arrange cells in honeycombs, Pringle says. In southern Africa, termite colonies might create circular bare spots when insect nibbling prevents plant growth above the nest. Colonies too evenly matched to destroy each other persist as neighboring disks of barren soil, eventually packing into roughly hexagonal arrays.

But plants by themselves can make similar bare spots in harsh conditions, scientists explain. When a pioneer plant springs from dry, hot ground, for instance, opportunists follow, taking advantage of such benefits as the scrap of shade a pioneer casts. As these secondary plants grow bigger and suck up more of the limited water, they can create dead zones where nothing sprouts. Over time, these zones form hexagonal patterns, too.

Termites plus plants are probably producing the effect in the Namib Desert, say scientists. But the results might not apply to other fairy circle hot spots, such as Australia. The main message of the new paper is that “different processes can lead to the exact same pattern”. 

Hessdalen light:

The presence of strange balls of light hovering over a valley in central Norway has baffled scientists for years. Known as the Hessdalen Phenomenon, the flashing orbs can be as large as cars.

The Hessdalen light most often appears as a bright white or yellow or red light of unknown origin standing or floating above the ground level. Sometimes the light can be seen for more than one hour. Sometimes the light moves with enormous speed, or sometimes just swayed to and fro with almost zero speed and it may sometimes just stand still in mid air. There are several other types of unexplained lights observed in the Hessdalen valley, Norway. Some gives the hypothesis that the light might be ionized iron dust. This light has been sighted in many parts of the world.

Image result for Hessdalen Light/pics and videos

Scientists have given some explanation of the origin of these lights. However, there are numerous working hypotheses.

One possible explanation attributes the phenomenon to an incompletely understood combustion process in the air involving clouds of dust from the valley floor containing scandium.
One recent hypothesis suggests that the lights are formed by a cluster of macroscopic Coulomb crystals in a plasma produced by the ionization of air and dust by alpha particles during radon decay in the dusty atmosphere. Several physical properties (oscillation, geometric structure, and light spectrum) observed in Hessdalen lights (HL) phenomenon can be explained through the dust plasma model. Radon decay produces alpha particles (responsible by helium emissions in HL spectrum) and radioactive elements such as polonium. In 2004, Teodorani showed an occurrence where a higher level of radioactivity on rocks was detected near the area where a large light ball was reported. In fact, when radon is released into air, its solid decay products readily attach to airborne dust. A new computer simulation shows that dust immersed in ionized gas (i.e., dusty plasmas) can organize itself into double helixes. The simulations suggested that under conditions commonly found in space, the dust particles first form a cylindrical structure that sometimes evolved into helical structures. Along some spirals, the radius of the helix was seen to change abruptly from one value to another and then back again, providing a mechanism for storing information in terms of the length and radius of a section of a spiral. Hessdalen lights may take the helical structure. Surprisingly, dusty plasmas may also assume this structure.
Another hypothesis explains HL as a product of piezoelectricity generated under specific rock strains (Takaki and Ikeya, 1998) because many crystal rocks include quartz grains which produce an intense charge density. In a 2011 paper,[10] based in the dusty plasma theory of HL, it is suggested that piezoelectricity of quartz cannot explain a peculiar property assumed by the HL phenomenon – the presence of geometrical structures in its center. Paiva and Taft have shown a mechanism of light ball cluster formation in Hessdalen lights by the nonlinear interaction of ion-acoustic and dusty-acoustic waves with low frequency geoelectromagnetic waves in dusty plasmas. The theoretical model shows that the velocity of ejected light balls by HL cluster is of about 10,000 m s−1 in a good agreement with the observed velocity of some ejected light balls, which is estimated as 20,000 m s−1. Why is the ejected ball always green-colored? Ejection of small green light ball from HL is due to radiation pressure produced by the interaction between very low frequency electromagnetic waves (VLF) and atmospheric ions (present in the central white-colored ball) through ion-acoustic waves (IAW). Probably only O2+ ions (electronic transition (b4Σg- → a4Πu)), with green emission lines, is transported by IAW. Electronic bands of O2+ ion occur in auroral spectra. Electron-molecular-ion dissociative recombination coefficient rate α as functions of electron temperature Te and cross sections σ as a function of electron energy E have been have measured by Mehr and Biondi [14] for N2+ and O2+ over the electron temperature interval 0.007–10 eV. The estimated temperature of HL is of about 5,000 K. In this temperature, the rate coefficient of dissociative recombination will be respectively α(Te)O2+ ~ 10-8 cm3 s-1, and α(Te)N2+ ~ 10-7 cm3 s-1. Thus, the nitrogen ions will be decomposed in N2+ + e- → N + N* more rapidly than oxygen ions in the HL plasma. Only ionic-species are transported by IAW. Therefore, only oxygen ions will be predominant ejected green light balls from a central white ball in HL, presenting negative band of O2+ with electronic transition b4Σg- → a4Πu after an IAW formation. Paiva and Taft presented a model for resolving the apparently contradictory spectrum observed in Hessdalen lights (HL) phenomenon. Thus, its nearly flat spectrum on the top with steep sides is due to the effect of optical thickness on the bremsstrahlung spectrum. At low frequencies self-absorption modifies the spectrum to follow the Rayleigh–Jeans part of the blackbody curve. This spectrum is typical of dense ionized gas. Additionally, spectrum produced in the thermal bremsstrahlung process is flat up to a cutoff frequency, ν cut, and falls off exponentially at higher frequencies. This sequence of events forms the typical spectrum of HL phenomenon when the atmosphere is clear, with no fog. According to the model, spatial color distribution of luminous balls commonly observed in HL phenomenon are produced by electrons accelerated by electric fields during rapid fracture of piezoelectric rocks under the ground.

But now scientists think the unusual lights could be formed by a natural ‘battery’ buried deep underground, created by metallic minerals reacting with a sulphurous river running through it.
the lights make no sound, appear to be cool and do not leave any scorch marks on the ground, unlike ball lightning. They do however sterilise an area upon contact, killing the soil microbes.

Jader Monari of the Institute of Radio Astronomy in Medicina, Italy, has studied the Hessdalen site since 1996 and found that rocks in the valley are rich in zinc and iron on one side of the river running through it, and rich in copper on the other side.

‘If there is sulphur in the water in the middle, it makes a perfect battery’ he said.

Together with a colleague from the University of Bologna, the scientists used rock samples to create a miniature valley and dunked them in river sediment. They found that electricity flowed between the two rocks and that this could light a lamp.

Dr Monari believes that bubbles of ionised gas are created when sulphurous fumes from the River Hesja react with the humid air of the valley. The geology also forms electromagnetic field lines in the valley, which could explain why the orbs of light move around.

‘This electrical field creates a path that could be the ‘main road’ of the lights inside the valley,’ Dr Monari told Caroline Williams.

Bjorn Gitle Hauge, an electrical engineer at Ostfold University, thinks that the energy needed to make the clouds glow could come from the charge building up.

There are many other competing theories as to how the light may be formed, although the battery theory seems to be the most probable based upon current evidence.

Ball Lightening:
Ball lightning appears as glowing orbs that seem to occur during thunderstorms, usually following a lightning strike. These floating fireballs shine as brightly as a 100-watt lightbulb; can be white, yellow, orange, red or blue in color and are typically about the size of a small grapefruit, although sightings suggest they can range in size from golf ball to beach ball.

Emanating from the fireball are little tendrils that seem to jerk the ball around as if it was under the power of a spastic puppeteer. They move slowly and erratically and are followed by smoke trails that form spirals around them. And after a moment, they disappear.

There are several tehories explaining it but the most popular current theory, proposed by John Abrahamson at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand, suggests that ball lightning is the result of a chemical reaction of silicon particles burning in the air.

When lightning strikes the ground, silicon that occurs naturally in soil combines with oxygen and carbon and turns into pure silicon vapor. As the vapor cools, the silicon condenses into a fine dust. The particles in this fine dust are attracted to each other by the electrical charge created by the lightning strike, binding together into a ball.

The glow and heat come from the chemical energy created as the silicon recombines with oxygen in the air. And once the silicon has burned out, the ball lightning disappears.
Eli Jerby and Vladimir Dikhtyar, of Tel Aviv University in Israel, successfully (and accidentally) recreated ball lightning with a device they call a "microwave drill."

Yes, now you can create it in a lab!
This theory also suggests materials other than silicon -- such as aluminum and iron metals -- may also cause the orbs, and that any atmospheric discharge, not necessarily lightning, may explain why ball lightning has been sighted near power poles, electrical fitters, and even active faults.

Everlasting lightening storm:

Why one area in South America sees thousands of strikes per night The Maracaibo lake in Venezuela hosts thousands of lightning strikes every hour. The phenomenon is known variously as the Beacon of Maracaibo, Catatumbo lightning or – cue dramatic roll of thunder - the “everlasting storm”. Here the night sky is regularly illuminated for nine hours with thousands of flashes of naturally produced electricity. The place has “highest concentration of lightning” with as many as 40,000 lightning bolts illuminate the sky every night at a rate of 18 to 60 bolts per minute. But this disturbance happens high in the troposphere, about three miles up. The storms ease off in the dryer months of January and February and are most spectacular at the peak of the wet season around October. At this time of year, you can see an average of 28 lightning flashes each minute.

The never-ending lightning storm

Five lightning strikes at once aren’t uncommon here. [Image credit: Worlds9thwonder via Wikimedia Commons]

Scientists weigh in to explain the phenomenon. One theory suggests that hot methane rising from the gaseous bogs of the Catatumbo River mixes with cold, dry air coming down from the Andes Mountains to create perfect storm conditions. Another theory implicates kerogen, a mixture of organic compounds found in sedimentary rocks that is highly concentrated in the area due to underground petroleum fields. Kerogen leaking into the atmosphere may contribute to the buildup of methane that sparks storms, some scientists believe. Weather and humidity may also play a role, as the last time the Relámpago had a significant pause was in 2010 when a powerful El Niño caused massive droughts in much of the country. Others explain this pause by citing the rampant deforestation in the region, which may also affect it in unknown ways.

Eternal Flame Falls, Orchard Park, New York

If you go to the waterfalls of Shale Creek in the southeast corner of Chestnut Ridge Park, you may notice a strange orange-red light behind the water and think it's just your eyes playing tricks on you. 

Can something really burn under water? You’ll actually smell the golden flame because it’s fired by methane gas escaping through the cracks.

The water sometimes extinguishes the flame, but you can easily start it up again with a lighter.

Deep-Water Corals’ Radiance

Photo credit: ullstein bild Getty Images

Deep-water corals emit an erie glow. Scientists found that in shallow waters, the organisms light up green, using fluorescent proteins as kind of sun block. The proteins soak up harmful ultraviolet rays, re-emit green light and shield their symbiotic algae, which supply most of the corals’ energy needs through photosynthesis.

Deep-dwelling corals also fluoresce—this time in an array of vivid yellows, oranges and reds. Some of these organisms live in water as deep as 165 metres, where little sunlight reaches them, and most of what does is in the blue part of the spectrum. So the researchers suspected a different reason for the glow.

This is because the corals use a fluorescent protein to optimize the small amount of light available in their habitats for photosynthesis. In other words, the deep-water corals and their shallow relatives fluoresce for opposite reasons.

St. Elmo's fire (also St. Elmo's light) is a weather phenomenon in which luminous plasma is created by a coronal discharge from a sharp or pointed object in a strong electric field in the atmosphere (such as those generated by thunderstorms or created by a volcanic eruption).

The phenomenon sometimes appeared on ships at sea during thunderstorms and was regarded by sailors with religious awe for its glowing ball of light, accounting for the name. It can also appear before airborne planes.


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Bioluminescence makes its appearance on Mumbai beach for first time (reported on 20th Jan., 2016)

The neon blue colour people see is what is called 'blue waves' or bioluminescence. Since Thursday, this spectacular vision on the Juhu beach has stunned many.

it was due to phytoplanktons.

Phytoplanktons are tiny organisms about 0.5mm in size. When washed ashore, as tides vibrate, a protein called luciferase is activated, triggering a series of chemical reactions that produce the neon blue glow.

"They have a tail-like structure called flagella that produces light when disturbed, stressed or in high-pollution levels and will give a light flash lasting a fraction of a second. We identified the likely species to be Noctiluca scintillans. such an activity has never been recorded or reported so far in Mumbai, though it has been reported in Lakshadweep.


Solar Halo : Image source: Google images

Crop circles have been appearing around the globe for a very long time. What are they?

The circles that are most likely to be genuine have actually been being studied by reputable scientists from all over the world .According to them... “ crop circles are the most science-oriented art movement in history”!

Richard Taylor, the aforementioned scientist who studied these circles, again expressed his belief that this was one of the greatest art revolutions in history when he published his scientific analysis of crop circles in the journal Nature in 2010.
After studying the affected grass in the lab, he concluded that the circle makers must be using GPS devices, lasers, and microwaves to create these designs because the nodes of some of the stalks had been blasted out on one side. This same effect has been replicated by highly localized microwave heating, which is what causes the stocks to flop over to one side.
If something like this caused the formations, then we are clearly talking about a highly sophisticated agency behind the phenomenon, according to the scientists.
Did you know that the electromagnetic field over the area where a circle appears is usually electrostatically charged? Or that there is a rare form of electromagnetic energy called an “ionized plasma vortex,” also known as ball lighting, involved with these formations?
Dr. Terence Meadon, a professional physicist, meteorologist, and archaeologist at the University of Oxford, said that these balls of light are a result of wind currents and ionized plasmas. Whatever the case may be, the fact that scientists are taking note should signal that this phenomenon is worth our attention.
physics and the arts are coming together to produce more impressive and spectacular crop-circle patterns
According to Taylor, physics could potentially hold the answer, with crop-circle artists possibly using the Global Positioning System (GPS) as well as lasers and microwaves to create their patterns, dispensing with the rope, planks of wood and bar stools that have traditionally been used.
Microwaves, Taylor suggests, could be used to make crop stalks fall over and cool in a horizontal position – a technique that could explain the speed and efficiency of the artists and the incredible detail that some crop circles exhibit.

Indeed, one research team claims to be able to reproduce the intricate damage inflicted on crops using a handheld magnetron, readily available from microwave ovens, and a 12 V battery.
legacy of the most science-oriented art movement in history.”
So you cannot deceive a scientist!

Halo (from Greek ἅλως, halōs[1]) is the name for a family of optical phenomena produced by light (typically from the Sun or Moon) interacting with ice crystals suspended in the atmosphere. Halos can have many forms, ranging from colored or white rings to arcs and spots in the sky. Many of these appear near the Sun or Moon, but others occur elsewhere or even in the opposite part of the sky. Among the best known halo types are the circular halo (properly called the 22° halo), light pillars, and sun dogs, but many others occur; some are fairly common while others are (extremely) rare.

Lake Hillier

Lake Hillier is located in an archipelago off the south coast of Australia. Although not very large, this saline lake does have a notable characteristic — it’s pink. The unusual color is due to the presence of microorganisms, which are comprised of bacteria and algae.

It was first discovered in 1802 by navigator Matthew Flinders, who charted most of Australia’s coast. There are other pink lakes in the world, but they change color depending on factors such as temperature. Lake Hillier, however, remains pink all the time, even when water is removed and bottled. The lake has a high saline content, similar to that of the Dead Sea. The only way to see Lake Hillier is by helicopter, plane or boat tour.

4. Thor’s Well

Thor's Well

Known as the “Drainpipe of the Pacific,” Thor’s Well on coastal Oregon appears to be a bottomless pit. But it’s actually a 20-foot-deep hole in the rocks that looks like it’s draining ocean water.

First believed to be a sinkhole, it was formed by a sea cave when erosion caused the cave to collapse. This created openings at the bottom and top — which allows ocean water to move through the holes. The tide pushes water from the bottom hole and sends it out through the top, reaching heights of 40 feet (during high tide). Thor’s Well is easily accessible and attracts many visitors each year, but visitors are warned not to get too close. 

5. Lake Baikal

Lake Baikal
(Credit:Sergey Pesterev/Shutterstock)

Lake Baikal is found in Siberia and has many things that make it highly unusual. But nothing beats the breathtaking turquoise ice that forms in March each year. Formed by a combination of weather factors, the ice cracks and turquoise-colored shards protrude through the top of the lake.

Known as the “Galapagos of Russia,” because of its impressive biodiversity — Lake Baikal has thousands of species of plants and animals. It’s also the world’s deepest and oldest freshwater lake. At least 25 million years old, this lake contains 20 percent of the world’s freshwater reserve. Unbelievably clear, some sections of the lake can have transparency of over 100 feet during the winter.





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