Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Bermuda Triangle: Facts and Theories

The Bermuda triangle is one of the most mysterious and dangerous areas of the earth’s oceans, responsible, or blamed, for the disappearance of over 2,000 vessels and 75 airplanes through a rather short period of three centuries.

The Triangle is an area of the Atlantic Ocean whose size varies by the author who happens to be writing about it; although its most common points are San Juan, Puerto Rico; Miami, Florida; and the island of Bermuda. It gains its fame from the large amount of ships and planes that have vanished without a trace within the last century.

The first known documentation of strange anomalies in the Bermuda Triangle was recorded by the famed explorer Christopher Columbus in October 1492, when he and his crew was said to have passed through the area. On the eleventh of October of that year, Columbus recorded in his log book that his crew had seen “strange dancing lights on the horizon”, “flames in the sky”, and later recorded that he had observed bizarre compass bearings in the area.

This was the first known recording of any strange occurrences in the triangle leading to the discovery of the New World in 1492, but it was not the last. After the discovery by Spain and Portugal that the New World could be a source of valuable minerals and abundant resources, the countries sent galleons to transport the materials from the New World back to Europe.

It was recorded that many of these vessels, loaded with gold stolen from the North American natives, disappeared without a trace throughout the Atlantic and the Caribbean]. Some of these galleons have been recovered within the last century by modern researchers and salvage experts who have analyzed the ocean bottom-but the nature of their disappearances is yet to be explained with certainty.

The term “Bermuda Triangle” was popularized in a 1964 issue of Argosy Magazine by Vincent Gaddis; and in 1974 it largely achieved its fame through the publication of The Bermuda Triangle by Charles Berlitz. The book recounts the disappearances of many aircraft and ships, in particular, the loss of five U.S. Navy Avenger torpedo bombers in 1945, known as Flight 19.

Perhaps the most famous disappearance in the Triangle was that of Flight 19. The Saga began on December 15th, 1945 when five Avenger torpedo bombers lifted off from the Navel Air Station at Fort Lauderdale. The flight was meant to be a practice bombing run for thirteen students and a Commander, Lt. Charles Taylor. About an hour and a half into the flight had left; a transmission was picked up by Taylor. He indicated that his compasses were not behaving properly, but he believed himself to be over the Florida Keys (islands south of the Florida mainland).

The flight coordinator urged him to fly north toward Miami if he was sure of his location to the south of Florida. Due to the lack of global positioning technology or other location-tracking devices, Taylor had to rely on the compass; and since it was acting strangely, he became confused as to his real location.

Taylor began flying northeast toward where he thought was the Naval Air Station, but he never returned in time, which brought speculation that he may have flown off course-to the northeast of Florida. The communications between Flight 19 and the mainland weakened, and as time went on, snatches of transmissions were received indicating that the other flight 19 pilots-the students-were attempting to persuade Taylor to change course.

“If we could just fly west”, one of the students said to another, “we are sure to get home.” He was right, because at 5:50 P.M. that day, the Com Gulf Sea Frontier Evaluation Center managed to get a fix on Flight 19’s weakening signals. They were apparently east of New Smyrna Beach, Florida, but the communications were so poor that this information could not be passed on to the lost planes.

Searches were made for the lost planes, but to no avail. A PBM Mariner plane with a thirteen-man crew was sent out to search for the fliers, and it too never returned. Many theories have arisen surrounding the disappearance, including the possible capture by extraterrestrials, government cover ups, and invisible time warps.

The most common, viable explanation is that the fliers, heading out to sea, eventually ran out of fuel and went down into the ocean; where the planes would sink and the pilots would drown-possibly eaten by sharks.

The loss of Flight 19 is indeed ponderous, but it does not remain unexplained. In fact, every disappearance can be explained in both a theoretical or paranormal sense; although some of these explanations are not adequate enough to be accepted as a fact. One such disappearance is that of the U.S.S. Cyclops in March 1918. The ship vanished with 10, 800 tons of manganese and 309 men on board while en route from Barbados to Baltimore.

Theories of this disappearance ranged from mutiny at sea to a large boiler explosion which prevented any distress call. One magazine, the Literary Digest, speculated that a giant octopus rose from the sea, entwined the ship with its tentacles, and dragged it to the bottom.

These and many other disappearances are always accompanied by explanations, many of which have been accepted as facts, but most are merely theories. The factual explanations; the explanations that researchers know for certain can cause a plane or seagoing vessel to disappear, or simply get lost-are volatile weather, methane gas bubbles from the sea floor, piracy, and compass variations.

To start with the most obvious explanation, volatile weather will be discussed. As known by most people, the Bermuda Triangle area is the source of many of the hurricanes that ravage the southeastern coast of the United States from year to year. These are extremely dangerous storms which many seamen take for granted. Many a fishing vessel has either been sent to the ocean bottom or has been found run aground on a remote beach due to the effects of a recent storm because of their captain’s disregard for safety. Hurricanes and other storms can cause dangerous ocean waves that can overturn and sink any vessel, small or large-in hours or even minutes.

Due to the rapid temperature variations in the triangle, some of these weather conditions can occur quickly, without any warning, and cause the sinking of a vessel overnight. On the next morning, the rescue crew sent out would find no remains and no evidence as to what happened, because the storm had quickly faded.

Due to these sudden weather occurrences, the Coast Guard answers about 8,000 distress calls a year; or twenty-three a day-although most of these problems could have been avoided if caution had been used. And many of these weather conditions are electrical/thunder storms, which can disrupt communications between the vessels and the shore. The communications of planes are also effected.

What about methane gas? How in the world can methane gas on the sea floor lead to the disappearance of ships and planes? It’s possible. Researchers say that the high pressures of ocean water in the area lead to the decomposition of organic materials into methane gas which, after a sufficient amount is built up, rises to the surface. Because methane gas is a gas it displaces the water around it, decreasing its density.

A vessel floating above would feel a downward lurch when the disturbance reached the surface, similar to that of an elevator. This would happen because the seawater was not dense enough to allow the ship to remain buoyant. Depending on the size of the bubble, the ship or small vessel would fall down a meter or two, then rise back up; or descend far enough so that water could spill onto the deck and sink the ship. After the gas reaches the surface, it disperses in the air, where it can cause the engine failure of a plane.

What about pirates? When people think of pirates, they immediately recall a book or a movie such as Pirates of the Caribbean, where the setting is in the 1700-1800’s when the world’s oceans were a free for all. A time when these mean, nasty people could overtake someone’s vessel during the night, strip it of all its valuables and possibly kill the people onboard, then leave without ever seeing any justice.

Many people refuse to believe it, but it continues to happen, even today in our modernized world where justice is properly served. Throughout the century many vessels have been found abandoned in the Bermuda Triangle. There is the possibility of a group of armed men overtaking a vessel overnight, robbing it of valuables, murdering the people on board; and leaving without providing any evidence for the authorities to find when they recovered the abandoned vessel.

Compass variations have caused many of the disappearances of ships and planes, but this problem is now being overcome through the use of modern technology, such as Global Positioning System (GPS).

Many paranormal theories have been proposed to explain the mystery of the Triangle. Theorists, researchers, and even respected scientists have supported claims that the Triangle is an area under frequent visits by UFO’s, where time warps threaten to send people into another dimension, where still active Atlantis technology buried on the sea floor vaporizes ships and planes in a matter of seconds; and where sea monsters grasp ships in their tentacles and pull them under.

Many theoretical physicists support the theory that tiny wormholes pop in and out of existence in the open air, unseen to the naked eye; and somehow paranormal theorists have linked the disappearances in the Triangle to this. If such anomalies did exist, they would likely be too small to cause the disappearance of a giant tanker or an airplane.

There is much support for the theory that UFO’s and extraterrestrials are responsible for the many losses in the Triangle. Seamen have reported sightings of “strange flying aircraft” and immediately claimed that they were occupied by ET’s, and when they reach the media, the story spreads-though it may not be true. Before long, the idea spreads that the missing people may have been abducted. This had become popular in the mid-1950’s; around the time of the testing of many experimental government aircraft. When sightings of one of these aircraft occurred, civilians would notify the Tabloids that an UFO have passed over their house, and even provide a photo that they had taken.

This is just an overview of the mystery of the Bermuda Triangle, it is not meant to persuade anyone to believe differently about the theories surrounding the mystery; although from the information above the reader might arrive at an opinion. The triangle in many aspects is a very fascinating place, and with deeper understanding the people can find the answer that solves the mystery altogether.

Is the triangle inhabited by aliens that randomly snatch planes and ships-and perform bizarre experiments on the occupants? Is their some powerful Atlantean Death Ray beneath the ocean that vaporizes ships and planes and leaves no trace of their disappearance? Maybe modern day pirates, or extreme weather, like hurricanes; is responsible. That… And all else, is to be determined by the reader.

Let the mind wonder… Just not too much.

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