Friday, April 24, 2009

The difference between supernatural and natural: underinformed.

One often wonders how there can be so many people out there that believe in supernatural things. Or for that matter, how people can not believe in them when there's so many websites, books and documentaries about such things. So much information, but is it enough?

Despite all the information these sources have, they're always incomplete. They always paint a picture of what is directly observed but highly lacking in surrounding information. It is usually in this surrounding information that the explanation lies.

Take a look at this post by Brian Dunning. You can tell straight away he's a sceptic by the amount of seemingly irrelevant information he's providing. A believer for example would talk about the hills and the cars driving on those hills, the houses, and that's it. They wouldn't talk about the trees, the clearness of the sky, or mention the security guard in such detail. Without that key but seemingly irrelevant information that a believer wouldn't include, one would have no hope of coming up with the right explanation for the lights as per Brian's second post here.

It reminds me of a discussion at another forum with someone about so called light angels. This particular image (right) was the example he used of a mysterious light that appeared for 3 days in a row. These would appear before the sun was up and would disappear and re-appear quite quickly. I've seen these before so instantly knew what it was and tried to explain them to him, but no matter what I said he wouldn't believe me. His most common rebuts were that the sun wasn't up and that these were in a shaded area.

After a lot of very persistant questioning he started a new thread and included a location (Novy Jicin, Czech Republic), a rough map (left), sunrise (5:22am) and times it appeared (6am-7:30am). From this I was able to track down the location in Google Maps. From google maps, I could use the shadows of the buildings and surrounding trees to scope out the size of them in comparison to each other and low and behold, all the evidence backed up my explanation to a tea.

What was happening was that it was early in the morning. In both maps you can see roughly where the photographer was located. They were in a position that kept them in the shade. The building to the south blocked the direct light from the sun to the person. The building behind the person was taller than the building to the south. The walls of that building are not reflective enough to reflect much of the light. The windows on the other hand, were.

As the sun caught the windows, they not only reflected the light but also expanded as things do. With nowhere to expand due to the window pane, the glass formed an ever so slight concave shape which warped the light being reflected. This light then shone over to the building across from it, warped, forming the shape seen in the picture. It only appeared in the morning when the sun was in the right position and at the right height.

The trees to the south of the southern building as well as clouds meant the lights appeared and disappeared suddenly. The change in path of the sun through the seasons means it only occurred for a 3 week period.

Here we have a perfect example of the warping of the light. The ones in red are unwarped, the ones in yellow are warped.

Evidence which he hadn't payed enough attention to himself to take note of happened to be the key evidence required to find the rational and correct explanation, no supernatural one required.

1 comment:

Bastard Sheep said...

Just after posting this I went out to lunch. Low and behold I was wrong, they don't just happen in the morning. They happen at 1:30pm too!

And across the road we find, the source. The image you can see in the reflection is right next tot he one I took the first photo of. Notice how the reflection is warped? That is MORE than enough to warp light in to the "angel" shape.