Friday, February 27, 2009

UFO Sprites

There is nothing more tiresome than a glib connection tossed out to spice up a very boring science story dating from history and a photograph from 1989. Have any of these chaps ever bothered to watch a lightening storm? Have they seen sheet lightening? All sorts of strange plasma events take place in these conditions including ball lightening and by inference just about any thing else imaginable. So call them sprites.

Observe that these events are associated with thunderstorms. Thus the important announcement is that the sub set of UFO sightings limited to those made during a thunderstorm may (note weasel word) be related to a short lived plasma event.

Thus we are been asked to accept a new theory tentatively based on a very small subset out of an observer set numbering in the tens of thousands and clearly made mostly in fine weather. This is a classic example of rubbish science.

Perhaps next week we can announce the existence of lightening bolts, perhaps associated with weapons testing by the USAF. At least the Venus UFO theory in the early Blue Book explanations was designed to produce a very large subset to support the argument.

It is actually an unusual phenomenon. A well reported class of observations usually well documented but not lending itself to direct proof or demonstration is a target for junk explanations. Such as the UFO and Bigfoot situations where there are literally thousands of independent observations. The junk explanations careen all over the map and come from authorities who lack any credibility as independent researchers. In fact their best claim to credibility comes from ad hominem attacks on anyone who challenges them.

Regardless the sprite phenomena are certainly interesting to note and perhaps capture a rare photo op. Except that is as far as you are likely to get. Perhaps we should argue that the observers are seeing a mirage generated by Venus.

Natural Explanation Found for UFOs

By Staff
posted: 23 February 2009
02:10 pm ET

Mysterious UFO sightings may go hand in hand with a puzzling natural phenomenon known as sprites — flashes high in the atmosphere triggered by thunderstorms.

The dancing lights have appeared above most thunderstorms throughout history, but researchers did not start studying them until one accidentally recorded a sighting
on camera in 1989.

"Lightning from the thunderstorm excites the electric field above, producing a flash of light
called a sprite," said Colin Price, a geophysicist at Tel Aviv University in Israel. "We now understand that only a specific type of lightning is the trigger that initiates sprites aloft."

Researchers have detected the flashes between 35 and 80 miles (56-129 km) from the ground, far above the 7 to 10 miles (11-16 km) where usual lightning occurs. Sprites can take the form of fast-paced
balls of electricity, although previous footage has suggested streaks or tendrils.

The cause or function of the flashes remains murky, but Price suggested that they could explain some of the UFO reports which have cropped up over the years. That might provide some solace for UFO enthusiasts disappointed by
human-caused hoaxes in the past.

Both jetliner pilots and astronauts have
previously reported sightings of sprites, along with a different but equally mysterious phenomenon known as blue jets.

Price and his colleagues have focused on "winter sprites" which appear only in the northern hemisphere's winter months. Their remote-controlled roof-mounted cameras can spot thunderstorms producing sprites far out over the Mediterranean Sea.

Triangulation techniques have also allowed the researchers to calculate the dimensions of the sprites.

"The candles in the sprites are up to 15 miles high, with the cluster of candles 45 miles wide — it looks like a huge birthday celebration!" Price said.

Sprites may have some effect on the Earth's ozone layer, but researchers suspect that the global impact is small.

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