Hello again Dr Stahl
Thank you for answering my questions regarding a green, plasma sphere that i saw (http://en.allexperts.com/q/Astronomy-1360/2009/1/Earth-Flares-1.htm). I don't agree that earth flares is casual speculation. Reasoned speculation maybe. I've asked a wide variety of knowledgeable people to evaluate it (including yourself). So i can't agree that I've been casual. However, I will not use the words theory, or hypothesis, due to the terms you have noted, but i will still ask for opinions on the credibility of earth flares.
That your answers were considered i would like to put aside my embarrassment and tell you of another object I've seen. This object was a red, plasma sphere. It would be interesting to here what could cause this red colour plasma? This sphere was about 3 feet in diameter and i first saw it dropping from over a flat, factory roof. That the object dropped, does this mean it must have been colder than the air? On dropping from the factory roof it cleared a metal perimeter fence before following the contours of fields at about 3-5 feet off the ground. At it's closest to me (about 150 feet away) i could clearly see it had jets. I remember four of them. One from it's top, one from it's bottom, and one from each side (a cross shape). These jets (red also) looked as straight as laser beams but they stopped in mid air (each a couple of feet in length). On reaching the perimeter of woodland it "pre-lifted", rising up to follow the contours of the tree tops. It moved at all times like it was repelled from anything on the ground.
I would be grateful if you could gain any further information from this.
Lastly. Whatever this phenomena is, do you think large objects like i have described could produce gamma-rays?
Thank you for your patients David
First some preliminaries: when I referred to "casual speculation" I meant basically you are speculating on the nature of some transient optical phenomenon - minus any proof, hard observational evidence or measurements. (If I am wrong in this, please do correct me). In that sense, and in that light - what your observations amount to are merely "UFOs" pure and simple.
Note here, the umbrella term of UFOs is not intended as a putdown or insult. It literally means what the acronym implies 'unidentified flying object' (they were flying - or at least 'loose in the atmosphere' were they not?)
My point is that minus actual measurements you are guessing it was even a "plasma" - red, green or other. (Agreed it *looked* like one, but it is still conjecture without hard observational evidence and measurements to support it!)
If you prefer the term "reasoned speculation", fine, but let's face it - without actual evidence (even a photo would do) you are still doing more guessing than reasoning. As I said, it is great that you are expressing your curiosity like this, but we can't get far without data to work on.
In twenty five years I have had more than 500 UFO reports submitted to me. Some of them (I estimate perhaps 10%) display the sort of features you have indicated in your observations, e.g. a kind of electrical discharge or "plasma" phenomenon. In many of those reports, I was ultimately able to trace the source to some manifestation of ball lightning - after securing the assistance from people at the local meterological office.
Again, it is not possible to say exactly what you saw minus at least completing a report. I have one below if you would like to complete it. Without at least that, or some hard data to go by - we really have very little other than guesses. Ok, educated guesses.
I would not even suppose that any such objects could "produce gamma rays" - at least until you can prepare a full report. I do not say it is impossible, but again - guesses are a dime a dozen. What we need are measurements. Or at least a working model based on a Gaussian surface as I suggested earlier.
Btw, you may also be interested in another answer to a question I received on earth flares in the astrophysics forum. (Answer should be ready by tomorrow)
Anyway, the form is shown below:
Revised Form: Unknown Optical-Atmospheric Phenomena
1. Provide the date and time (if possible GMT, but otherwise local time) of your observation:
2. Give the latitude and longitude of your location:
Lat. = Long. =
3.Give the estimated duration of the observation in minutes:
4.Give the duration of any pauses in the motion and, if possible, when these occurred in relation to the initial time of sighting:
5.Give the initial brightness of object (use magnitude scale by estimating in comparison to known magnitudes of nearby stars if possible, e.g. 1st magnitude, as bright as Antares)
7.Describe all color or size changes and the times they occurred in relation to the initial time (t0) of sighting :
Color changes: Orange to blue
Time correlation: t0 + 2 mins.
Size changes: ? degree to 1 degree
Time correlation t0 + 3 ? mins
9. Estimate the velocity of the object-phenomenon in angular measure per second. (e.g. 1 degree per second, ? degree per second etc.)
10. Identify if possible all known astronomical objects (stars, planets etc.) in the vicinity of your observational interlude:
11.How many other observers saw the phenomenon and to what extent did their observations conform to your own?
12.Describe as carefully as you can any ancillary physical effects that accompanied the visual sighting (e.g. sounds made, electrostatic disturbances, etc.)
QUESTION: Hello Dr Stahl
Thank you for adding a follow up to my resent question to Courtney Seligman: http://en.allexperts.com/q/Astronomy-1360/2009/1/Flare-activity-earth.htm and for the follow up you gave back in 2007 to a question i put to Professor Gort http://en.allexperts.com/q/Astronomy-1360/earth-flares.htm.
I appreciate what you have said in both follow ups, however i don't believe you are talking about the phenomena in my theory.
Many years ago i saw a glowing sphere travelling through the bottom of low cloud cover. The object then discharged sheet lightning, which i heard within tens of seconds as a deep rumble. I have given this phenomena a great deal of research (as was appreciated by Professor Gort). Many credible observers have described seeing similar spheres in various sizes and colours, but the object i saw was green (perhaps similar to that seen by astronomer Clyde Tombaug, and Dr Lincoln lapaz (US Project Twinkle). However, around the circumference of this green sphere was dark blue. I'd be interested to know if you know of any reason why green and blue plasma would exist together?
Actually, after giving your original question further thought, I am not convinced the phenomenon you noted can in any way be said to be a "flare" phenomenon. The reason is that by "flare" we mean a specific thing, namely an explosive release of energy that arises from a magnetic instability.
In the Sun this is well -recognized and we have the markers, crtieria for it, for example, compressed magnetic gradients, mutual intrusion of magnetic polarities, twisted magnetic fields leading to a well-known plasma instability - such as the global kink mode.
There is no comparable identification or evidence for any of these spherical entities you have seen, which are more likely electrical discharge phenomena similar to ball lightning. The fact one of them "discharged sheet lightning" as you relate above, adds to this hypothesis.
What would be interesting is if anyone could come up with a self-consistent model for it. Showing how, given certain starting assumptions (e.g. E-field gradient, altitude, temperature, etc.) this will manifest in the form shown. IF it is claimed to be a "flare" phenomenon, then one must show an impulsive time-energy release profile.
I.e. if you plot the energy release (assuming it can be quantified at all) how does it unfold with time from inception? In the case of flares we see a large energy release in a short initial time period then a longer e-folding time or decay time from maximum.
Until I see that sort of "giveaway" signature feature, I'd decline calling it a "flare".
"Blue" would be a different (shorter wavelength) line emission, and different altitude. In general, under Earth conditions of temperature and density it would therefore not be expected to see a blue plasma "shell" right around a green plasma sphere though I will not say it impossible. (One would need to work out the Debye shielding length etc for the respective plasma under the conditions)
I think it more likely the blue "halo" is probably related to an electrical interaction or discharge occurring when the green ball plasma interacts with the atmosphere. (Sometimes these appear when one operates a Van der Graaf machine in a lab under specific conditions of temperature, humidity, atm. pressure)
This is just my 0.02, but I admit I am not fully conversant with the sort of phenomena you are seeing. My take is just that I would hesitate to label them "flares" - Earth or other, until such time someone can provide evidence their energy release signatures and correlated time profiles concur with what we already know about flares.
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: Very interesting information that you can gain from blue/green plasma. It seems there's always more to learn. If i may clarify one point, though to make sure your answer remains the same. I tried to keep this question brief, and in doing so I've given the impression that the object discharged sheet lightning and still existed. The long and short of it is, i can't say this is the case. The object discharged "immediately" on being engulfed through looking across the low cloud base. It could have still existed or it could have totally discharged in an instant.
Thank you very much for considering my questions Dr Stahl. I think you and me both know that i will keep persuing this though. It's not that i'm convinced that I'm right, but experts can sometimes be wrong.
In reference to the rate of discharge of the phenomenon you noted, I don't think it makes any difference even if it discharged "immediately", I still would maintain that unless the energy signature can be shown, and there is some relation to magnetic instability, we can't assert it is a "flare".
In other words, I suspect the phenomenon (whatever it is) is tied to some general electrical field discharge manifestation, perhaps similar to lightning.
I would further argue that what you have proposed is not a "theory" but a casual speculation about possible "Earth flaring". To have a bona fide theory about this you need to include all the following:
1) Give the basis for the claim as a data set *from observations*, or from a computer model you may have run. (Including the quantitative basis for it.)
Alternatively, you can develop a coherent mathematical basis for the claim to show it is plausible. (Use the mathematics for other electrical discharge phenomena- based on plausible Gaussian surfaces- and compare to possible dynamo or other flare models that make use of electric double layers instead of magnetic stressors, for example)
2) Provide necessary and sufficient conditions for the entity-model-event to manifest. In this case, a necessary condition is one - if absent- an event cannot occur, or object cannot exist. A sufficient condition is one which - if present - the event must occur or entity must exist.
As an example, a hydrogen emission nebula. The necessary condition for it is that a cloud of neutral hydrogen exist already someplace. If it doesn't exist, then it can't be ionized - even partially- and no emission can occur. The sufficient condition is proximity to a radiative source like a star, which will then excite the atoms in the nebula causing the electrons of H-atoms to go to a higher energy level, then fall to a lower, with emission of photons.
3) Falsification tests:
What tests or observations would falsify your "theory" of claim that what you witnessed qualifies as a "flare"? Any good theory ought to be able to articulate at least one and maybe two falsifying tests or observations.
What new predictions can your "theory" make which existing ones (say to explain ball lightning or sprites) cannot?
This will show the degree to which your proposal is different from existing ones, and also advance observations such that they are able to fulfill the predictive requirement.
Now, while it is true experts can sometimes be "wrong", it isn't quite in the same domain when one is talking based on speculation, as opposed to a full-fledged theory.
When you have really developed a theory (using the precieding guidelines), then I'd say offer it to any of us at Allexperts, and see if we can't falsify it ourselves. Until one offers the theory, however, it is merely an open case concerning a speculation and driven by a healthy and understandable curiosity.
Hope this helps.