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Is Ball Lightning All In Your Head?

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posted on May, 23 2010 @ 09:40 AM
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Seen something pale and round floating in the midst of a thunderstorm? If it lasted for a few seconds or less, it might be all in your head. Fluctuating magnetic fields, created by a nearby lightning bolt, could trick the brain into "seeing" round glowing objects, explaining at least some observations of mysterious 'ball lightning'

...Now it seems the glowing blobs may be a hallucination. Moving charges, in lightning strikes or in wire coiled around a patient's head, generate magnetic fields. A fluctuating magnetic field induces an electric field that, if powerful enough, can make neurons fire in the visual cortex. Pale ovals, bubbles, lines, or patches are sometimes observed by patients who undergo transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS).

...A single flash generates an average of two to five return strokes. But some strikes can create more than 20 – a protracted stream of events that could produce hallucinations lasting for multiple seconds, according to calculations by Josef Peer and Alexander Kendl, both of Innsbruck University in Austria.


Please read the entire article here:

www.newscientist.com...

Anecdotal reports of ball lightning date back centuries, but physicists have had a hard time figuring out how a free floating sphere of plasma could form and remain stable without some sort of containment field. Recent physiological research suggests that some of the more eerie behavior that has been reported may be due to the stimulation of the "sight center" of the brain by intense electromagnetism. Sort of an EMP to the human wetware.

The ramifications of this research impacts many fields of interest here at ATS. We UFO skeptics, for one, might not be so liberal with the "ball lightning" explanation in the future, as this effect only lasts a few seconds. It might also explain the mysterious "spirit orbs" that sometimes crop up in ghost hunting... at least the ones actually seen by eyewitnesses. (The ones that only turn up in photos are dust, light leaks, etc.)

On a related tangent, many posters here make much of the mysterious "flashes" sometimes reported by astronauts. Since the earliest days of Space Medicine (and it's still in its infancy) it has been known that intense magnetic fields can cause "hallucinatory" visual images; flashes of light, etc. It is likely that the flashes reported by astronauts have a similar cause, perhaps cosmic rays hitting just the right brain cells.

I hope you find this article as thought provoking as I did. Chinese lanterns all around, now!




posted on May, 23 2010 @ 10:07 AM
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While I'd agree that some reports of ball lightning could be hallucinatory, there are plenty of photos and pictures of it available which would suggest that it is an objective phenomenon rather than a subjective perception.

Also, this article from LiveScience.com documents ball lightning being created in a lab.

Thanks for posting this. Very thought provoking.



posted on May, 23 2010 @ 10:17 AM
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reply to post by traditionaldrummer
 


I totally agree. The possibility that UFOlogy might actually end up legitimizing itself by confirming and explaining an actual physical aerial phenomenon is its greatest hope. The most intriguing aspect of this article is that it might also explain certain paranormal experiences, possibly even things like "earthquake lights."



posted on May, 23 2010 @ 10:17 AM
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reply to post by DJW001
 


Interesting thread - I'm having trouble accepting the explanation as, in some ball lightning accounts there are multiple witnesses, physical trace evidence is left behind and there are reports of physical injury - as well as the points Traditional Drummer raises there are also consistent reports of strange odours like sulphur or ozone (olfactory hallucinations?)

There's some intriguing testimony in the thread below from an Arthur C Clarke documentary and, although I do admire the scientists who actualy investigate this phenomenon, I still think there are a lot of unanswered questions.


Ball Lightning and UFOs


Also, it may be irrelevant but I seem to remember the claims that 'electromagnetic effects causes hallucinations and false memory' were also reported in this U.K. Ministry of Defense UFO Executive summary report but were later deemed invalid when it was discovered the researcher had fabricated the data.



posted on May, 23 2010 @ 10:23 AM
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Originally posted by DJW001
The possibility that UFOlogy might actually end up legitimizing itself by confirming and explaining an actual physical aerial phenomenon is its greatest hope.


DJW001, I don't know if you've read any of the atmospherical physics papers authored by Dr James E. Mcdonald but he makes some very interesting comments in this CASI report about Corona, Ball Lightning and Plasma-UFOs:


UFOs -- An International Scientific Problem


Also, when it comes to unidentified aerial phenomena -I think this is one of the best interviews I've heard on the subject.



posted on May, 23 2010 @ 10:28 AM
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Originally posted by DJW001
reply to post by traditionaldrummer
 


I totally agree. The possibility that UFOlogy might actually end up legitimizing itself by confirming and explaining an actual physical aerial phenomenon is its greatest hope. The most intriguing aspect of this article is that it might also explain certain paranormal experiences, possibly even things like "earthquake lights."


The phenomenon of earthquake lights has actually been explained by geologists.

On the topic of "ufology", the biggest impediment to their research is their obsession with aliens. I have little respect for it. This field of research is not going to answer questions about legitimate phenomena.

I find what are referred to as "earth lights" to be an interesting topic. Things such as the Brown Mtn. Lights, Hessdalen [sp?] Lights, etc. appear to be legitimate physical phenomena that science simply hasn't explained yet. With enough persistence we may come to find that many of our UFO sightings may have a very worldly explanation.



posted on May, 23 2010 @ 10:30 AM
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reply to post by karl 12
 


Thank you for the links. The first is an excellent summary of the problem.



posted on May, 23 2010 @ 10:35 AM
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I have witnessed what is known as ball lightning first hand.

It was not 'in my head'.

It was at a set point in the dark overcast cloud layer, my girlfriend also saw it at the same point, it was unmissable to anyone looking generally in that direction.

It was very odd, like some large blue/white orb and it appeared to 'charge up' and then at its brightest, made one hell of a thunderbolt sound.(a huge 'crack' with the sound vibrating through my lungs)

This was seen in the south east somewhere above the Bristol Channel from the town of Porthcawl, South Wales, United Kingdom 3 years ago.





[edit on 23-5-2010 by Skellon]



posted on May, 23 2010 @ 10:36 AM
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reply to post by traditionaldrummer
 



On the topic of "ufology", the biggest impediment to their research is their obsession with aliens. I have little respect for it.


Total agreement there. At this point, UFOlogy is essentially a branch of psychology. At least the source I cited in the OP suggests there may be some objective neurological basis that can be explored.
I'm aware of the piezoelectric theory of earth lights, but in California people talk about "earthquake weather," which has more to do with human behavior than actual meteorological conditions. I suspect there may be some connection between them all.



posted on May, 23 2010 @ 10:39 AM
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reply to post by Skellon
 


I don't doubt that you saw actual ball lightning. The article merely states that certain reported instances, eg; the ball passing silently through walls, may be neurological. There is a great deal of evidence that plasma balls do sometimes form in electrical storms.



posted on May, 23 2010 @ 10:46 AM
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This is a true story that I have not shared. I was driving back across the

state of Florida after my friend and business partner died that day some

12 years ago. He said he would contact me after his death and if

anybody could do so he could because he was brilliant on figuring things

out on Earth.


I am driving on State Hwy 70 that particular day and hit one of the

worst thunderstorms I had ever encountered and it was pitch black

and raining to where I could not see. I was ready to pull over when

the brightest giant ball lightning I had ever seen in my life lit up the

sky in front of my car and it was so bright it almost blinded me and

imprinted the ball lightning into my eyes like someone taking a flash

picture of myself.


So the question would be how did I know it was my friend's way of

contacting me and all I can say I felt as well as knew it was him

because he always did the spectacular on Earth. ^Y^



posted on May, 23 2010 @ 03:19 PM
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That could be possible, but rather hard. As many people know, it is hard to effectively conduct electromagnetic radiation and therefore, would require a rather strong magnetic field to get those electrons moving in the neurons.



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