Write Lightning is a blog from writer Deb Thompson.
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Tue, Apr 25 2006


I keep hearing about those mysterious booms and rattles and things moving and shaking in the San Diego area earlier this month. Weeks after the incident people are still speculating as to what the source was. And the boom in California wasn't the only one in recent months. Officials in Mississippi seem to have decided that their boom was probably a sonic boom from a plane over the Gulf of Mexico. Others aren't so sure.

Some of the booms seems to affect a relatively small area. On a fall night of 2004 there was a whole series of booms in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Even sand dunes boom after a fashion, and one web site mentions a phenomenon called "earthquake booms", which seem to be real earthquakes that may be at too high a frequency for traditional seismic instruments to record. Meteorites? Sewer gas? The booms have been blamed on everything from exploding meth labs to fancy aircraft from another planet. Are the booms caused by secret military aircraft missions? And if they are, who's going to admit it? In a few cases there have been admissions of test flights and in a few other cases the answer to identifying booms has been as simple as kids playing with bottle bombs.

Some think it's a plot to try to manipulate the weather. Others think it's caused by the weather itself. All that methane gas deep beneath the planet's surface may be Mother Nature giving us a few gut rumbles.

Back in 1984 people were blaming some of the booms on the Concorde SST. I don't know exactly how long the booms have been going on, but similar booms apparently happened in Barisal, Bangladesh more than a century ago, as well as in the British Isles, several European cities and in North America in the 1890s. It's a bit difficult to blame sounds from that time period on the Concorde. Or on military weather manipulation. Or on secret hypersonic spy planes. Whatever it is that's causing the booms, it has people curious and ready to pounce on the possibilities in any given conversation lately.

posted at: 14:34 | category: /Science | link to this entry

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