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Friday, August 22, 2008

THE BERMUDA TRIANGLE : The Unexplained matter

The Bermuda Triangle, also called the Devil's Triangle, is an imaginary area that can be roughly outlined on a map by connecting Miami, Florida; San Juan, Puerto Rico; and the Bahamas, an island chain off the coast of the United States. Within that triangular area of the Atlantic Ocean have occurred a number of unexplained disappearances of boats and planes. Additionally, readings on directional devices do not operate normally inside the triangle.
Unusual events in that area date back in recorded history to 1493 and the first voyage of Christopher Columbus (1451–1506) to the New World. In his log, Columbus noted that his compass readings were askew within the area now called the Bermuda Triangle, and he and his crew were confused by shallow areas of sea with no land nearby.
The term "Bermuda Triangle" was first used in an article written by Vincent H. Gaddis for Argosy magazine in 1964. Gaddis claimed that several ships and planes had disappeared without explanation in that area. The article was expanded and included in his book, Invisible Horizons: True Mysteries of the Sea (1965), where he described nine mysterious incidents and provided extensive detail. Many newspapers carried a story in December of 1967 about strange incidents in the Bermuda Triangle after a National Geographic Society news release brought attention to Gaddis's book. The triangle was featured in a cover story in Argosy in 1968, in a book called Limbo of the Lost (1969) by John Wallace Spencer, and in a documentary film, The Devil's Triangle, in 1971. Charles Berlitz's 1974 bestseller The Bermuda Triangle marked the height of the disaster area legend, but some of its sensationalized claims were quickly proved inaccurate.
As early as 1952, George X. Sands had noted in a report in Fate magazine that an unusually large number of strange accidents had occurred in the region associated with the Bermuda Triangle. That many of the accidents in the area are intriguing, and that the area does have some natural conditions that sailors and pilots need to be aware of, has not been challenged. However, neither statistics nor documented evidence indicates that the number of accidents is unusually high or without explanation.
In March 1918, during World War I, the USS Cyclops vanished in the Bermuda Triangle. That ship may have been a casualty of war, but the December 1945 disappearance of Flight 19, a training squadron of five U.S. Navy torpedo bombers, became the most notorious of disappearances associated with the Bermuda Triangle. The squadron left Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with 14 crewmen and disappeared after radioing in several distress messages. A seaplane sent in search of the squadron also vanished. Those two airplane disappearances were frequently cited as the Bermuda Triangle legend grew during the 1960s and 1970s.
Few of those stories included telling details. All of the crewmen of Flight 19 were in training, for example, except for their patrol leader, who had tried to withdraw from his flight duty that day because he was feeling ill. After his compass malfunctioned soon into the flight, the flight leader decided to navigate by land-marks below on the islands of the Florida Keys, with which he was familiar. Visibility became a problem because of a sudden storm, and the leader became disoriented. Flight 19 was still in radio contact with the Fort Lauderdale air base, but after some mechanical difficulties they failed to switch to an emergency frequency. Radio recordings indicate that some of the crew believed they were heading out over the Atlantic Ocean, instead of the Gulf of Mexico as their leader reported.
A search plane took off and was claimed to have disappeared into the Bermuda Triangle with Flight 19. The plane actually blew up 23 seconds after takeoff. Wreckage from Flight 19 has never been recovered.
Other aircraft that have disappeared in the area include a DC-3 carrying 27 passengers in 1948 and a C-124 Globemaster with 53 passengers in 1951. Among the ships often listed among the mysteriously disappeared are the Mary Celeste (1872), the Marine tankership Sulphur Queen with 39 men aboard (1963), and the nuclear-powered submarine Scorpion with a crew of 99 (1968). The Mary Celeste entered the list of supposed Bermuda Triangle mysteries many decades after its odd tragedy. The ship set sail from New York to Genoa, Italy, but was found sailing unmanned some 400 miles off course, off the coast of Africa. Personal articles of the crew were found and food storage areas showed no sign of upheaval. A tattered sail and a missing lifeboat suggested the boat had encountered a storm, but the ship's log, in which information was recorded as late as nine days before the ship was found, made no mention of any kind of catastrophe.
There is no evidence, however, that the Mary Celeste ever entered the area of the Bermuda Triangle. Still, the eerie, unanswered questions concerning its fate are often cited by those who attribute a malevolent force as being responsible for odd and tragic events of the triangle.
Nevertheless, there are many documented disappearances that occurred within the triangle. They include a four-engine Tudor IV air-plane lost in 1948, with 31 aboard; an American freighter, the SS Sandra (1952), which sunk without a trace; a British York transport plane, disappeared in 1952, with 33 aboard; a U.S. Navy Lockheed Constellation airplane, vanished in 1954 with 42 aboard; a U.S. Navy seaplane, 1956, with a crew of 10; a French freighter in 1970; and a German freighter, Anita, lost in 1972 with a crew of 32.
Theories about why so many air and water ships disappeared in the Bermuda Triangle involve strange magnetic fields, time warps, the lost continent of Atlantis, and alien abduction. Other proposed explanations include physical forces unknown to science, a "hole in the sky," and an unusual chemical component in the region's seawater. Several books have suggested that an intelligent, technologically advanced race living in space or under the sea has been responsible for jamming equipment and leading ships and planes to disaster.

Many books and articles play up mystery angles concerning vanished ships by depicting the disappearances as having occurred in calm weather and daylight. Such particulars of Flight 19 as an inexperienced crew, a faulty compass, a squadron leader who failed to follow instructions, and conditions of deteriorating weather and visibility are often not mentioned. Larry Kusche, a librarian at Arizona State University, examined claims of mysterious disappearances and recorded evidence from each example. The results, published in The Bermuda Triangle—Mystery Solved, showed that many of the accidents happened during raging storms, or were later explained.
The area known as the Bermuda Triangle is one of the two places on Earth where a magnetic compass does point towards true north, a phenomenon called compass variation. Navigators must compensate the amount of variation or the craft they are on will go off course. A region commonly called the "Devil's Sea" in the Pacific Ocean is the other area of compass variation.
The Gulf Stream that runs through the Bermuda Triangle area is swift and turbulent, and can quickly erase evidence of a disaster. The unpredictable Caribbean-Atlantic weather can suddenly change into thunderstorms or create waterspouts. Many short and intense storms build up quickly and dissipate quickly, undetected by satellite surveillance. The ocean floor has shoals around islands as well as some of the deepest marine trenches in the world. The interaction of the strong currents over reefs promotes a constant flux and the development of new, uncharted navigational hazards.
These factors can confuse even experienced sailors. A large number of pleasure boats travel the waters between Florida's coast and the Bahamas. The U.S. Coast Guard receives more than 8,000 distress calls per year, averaging more than 20 per day from that area, often from sailors who have run out of gas.
The Bermuda Triangle claimed more than 1,000 lives during the twentieth century. That averages to about 10 per year, a figure similar to other areas of high water traffic or volatile

Hypothetically, methane gas might also be involved in airplane crashes, as it is not as dense as normal air and thus would not generate the amount of lift required to keep the airplane flying. Methane can cut out an aircraft engine with very little levels of it in the atmosphere.Tidal wavesMain article: Freak wave Research has shown that tidal, freak, or rogue waves can reach up to 30 m (100 feet) in height and are capable of sinking large ships within moments. Although these are very rare, in some areas ocean currents mean they happen more often than the normal. Such waves have now been hypothesized as a cause for many unexplained shipping losses over the years.Some research suggests that some of these waves are caused by giant bubbles of methane rising to the surface. These giant bubbles are created when methane vents at the ocean bottom become clogged; then pressure builds up and eventually the gas bursts out and rises rapidly to the surface thus generating the wave. Research has shown that such bubbles are able to sink scale sized ships with great ease and speed.Famous incidentsFlight 19Main article: Flight 19 One of the known Bermuda Triangle incidents concerns the loss of Flight 19, a squadron of five U.S. Navy TBM Avenger torpedo bombers on a training flight out of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on December 5, 1945. According to Berlitz, the flight consisted of expert Marine Corps aviators who, after reporting a number of odd visual effects, simply disappeared, an account which isn't entirely true. Furthermore, Berlitz claims that because the TBM Avenger bombers were built to float for long periods, they should have been found the next day considering what were reported as calm seas and a clear sky. However, not only were they never found, a Navy search and rescue seaplane that went after them was also lost. Adding to the intrigue is that the Navy's report of the accident was ascribed to "causes or reasons unknown".While the basic facts of Berlitz's version of the story are essentially accurate, some important details are missing. The image of a squadron of seasoned combat aviators disappearing on a sunny afternoon is inaccurate. Rather, it was a squadron of lost, inexperienced flight trainees forced to ditch their out-of-fuel airplanes into unknown stormy waters in the dark of night. As for the Navy's report, it is claimed that the original report blamed the accident on the commander's confusion (Lt. Taylor abandoned his airplanes twice in the Pacific after getting lost returning to his carrier), but the wording was changed in deference to the wishes of his family.Another factor to consider is that the TBM Avenger Aircraft were never designed for crash-landing into water. Wartime experience in the Pacific showed that an Avenger aircraft would sink very quickly if landed on the water. Especially with novice pilots at the helm - an Avenger would be very difficult to land on calm water - let alone the perilous rough seas in the Bermuda Triangle.Star TigerIf the disappearance of Flight 19 had been an isolated incident, it would have remained one of the great mysteries of modern aviation. However, aircraft disappearances continued to be reported near the same location, some accompanied by equally extended and confusing radio traffic, including that of a four-engine Tudor IV airliner named Star Tiger, in the predawn hours of January 31, 1948.Piloted by Captain B. W. McMillan, the airliner, which carried twenty-nine passengers and crew on board, had left hours earlier from Santa Maria, Azores, one of numerous scheduled fuel stopover points on its route from London, England to Havana, Cuba. While approaching Bermuda, McMillan made the expected contact with Kindley Field, the next stopover, requesting a radio bearing to calibrate his navigation systems and ensure he remained on course. With the response indicating that the plane was slightly off course, its position was corrected after Bermuda relayed a first-class bearing of 72 degrees from the island. At this point, with Star Tiger less than two hours flight away, McMillan gave confirmation of an ETA of 05:00 hours, an hour late due to strong headwinds; no further transmission from the aircraft was ever received.Armed with precise reports of the plane's last known position, rescue operations were launched after the craft was determined overdue for arrival; but no trace of the aircraft was ever found.In the report issued soon thereafter by the Civil Air Ministry, numerous hypotheses as to what might have occurred during the flight's final two hours are given, before each being subsequently rejected: "There would accordingly be no grounds for supposing that Star Tiger fell into the sea in consequence of having been deprived of her radio, having failed to find her destination, and having exhausted her fuel." "There is good reason to suppose that no distress message was transmitted from the aircraft, for there were many radio receiving stations listening on the aircraft's frequencies, and none reported such a message." "...The weather was stable, there were no atmospheric disturbances of a serious kind which might cause structural damage to the aircraft, and there were no electrical storms." It was ruled that the aircraft could not have gone off course, as the broadcast bearing from Bermuda, with winds prevailing, would have brought it within thirty miles of the island: "The aircraft could hardly have failed to find the island in a short time, in the conditions of visibility which prevailed." Engine difficulty was ruled out as a likely cause, since at such late stage in the flight, without the added weight of extra fuel aboard, the aircraft might have been flown safely on three, or even two, engines instead of the four it had. The probability of the aircraft entirely losing three engines in the course of under two hours was considered absurd.Faced with the accumulation of evidence, or perhaps lack thereof, the board of investigation addressed the loss of the Star Tiger with remarked eloquence: "In closing this report it may truly be said that no more baffling problem has ever been presented for investigation. In the complete absence of any reliable evidence as to either the nature or the cause of the accident of Star Tiger the Court has not been able to do more than suggest possibilities, none of which reaches the level even of probability. Into all activities which involve the co-operation of man and machine two elements enter of a very diverse chaarcter [sic?]. There is an incalculable element of the human equation dependent upon imperfectly known factors; and there is the mechanical element subject to quite different laws. A breakdown may occur in either separately or in both in conjunction. Or some external cause may overwhelm both man and machine. What happened in this case will never be known and the fate of Star Tiger must remain an unsolved mystery."
Natural conditions. Scientific evaluations of the Bermuda Triangle have concluded that the number of disappearances in the region is not abnormal and that most of the disappearances have logical explanations. Paranormal associations with the Bermuda Triangle persist, however, in the popular imagination.

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