Richard E. Spalding
Albuquerque, New Mexico
May, 1999


A fool must now and then be right by chance.  (William Cowper)



This document presents a collection of revolutionary ideas pertaining to electrical energy in the atmosphere. These ideas grew out of attempts to reconcile what is obviously a major dichotomy - the attitude of science versus that of non-scientific observers regarding sightings of unusual lights and forms in the atmosphere. Scientists, in the form of vigorous debunking by some and marked disinterest by the rest, make it clear that they put no stock in there being anything in these sightings worth investigating. Despite common public knowledge of science's attitude, and the threat of ridicule it engenders, sightings continue to be reported.

Which of these opposing camps is right? After a conscious attempt to examine the evidence both comprehensively and objectively, to this investigator there was no escaping the conclusion that science must be wrong There were simply too many events whose descriptions and apparent quality of observations seemed to rule out misidentification of something ordinary. More than that, sightings were frequently associated with physical happenings at groundlevel, which, with or without the sightings, were themselves unexplainable. Taken together, the evidence pointed firmly to existence of processes unrecognized by science.

It was natural to assume that the unknown processes involved transfer of energy between one part of the atmosphere of earth and another. Known processes all work that way. The possibility that these occurrences just might be due to alien entities or paranormal forces was purposely set aside to allow idea development within the framework of known physics. Not only did that seem to be the more likely route to the truth, but it is the only one that held any hope of gaining acceptance by the scientific community. Pursuing that science-based approach, while at the same time putting considerable faith in eyewitness reports, has permitted a simple hypothesis to be developed.  That hypothesis, if true, can form the basis for understanding practically the entire gamut of disputed mystery events.

The ideas presented here are necessarily controversial. Given the polarization that has grown around the issue over the years, how could it be otherwise? Also, acceptance of these ideas is tantamount to rejecting basic concepts long held by atmospheric scientists, concepts firmly rooted in textbooks at all levels, concepts which form the basis for practically all advanced scientific papers on atmospheric electrical behavior. Such an attack upon the existing paradigm is certain to not be taken lightly. Nevertheless, there seems to be no recourse but to challenge that paradigm

If these thoughts represent anything close to the truth, and if truth is indeed a prime objective of science, then it seems appropriate that they be conveyed at this time. To wait for a more orderly and proper approach to develop within the structure of science is, based upon the history of this issue, not justified.


Each year, a great many incidents happen for which no reasonable explanations seem to exist. These incidents range from unusual sightings of objects or lights in the sky to unexplained explosions to mysterious ground-level disruptions, formations, or deposits.  As stated in the introduction, science chooses to ignore nearly all of these, contending that they are either hoaxes, misidentifications, or misrepresentations.  Perhaps if the events were not so numerous, if the accounts were not so naggingly self-consistent, if there were not so many whose descriptions place them beyond the range of hearing or possible misidentification, then maybe the scientific conclusion could be believed.  But such is not the case. Objective reading of eyewitness accounts, or correspondingly, conversations with eyewitnesses, will be enough to satisfy most people that by and large, the accounts are both sincere and accurate, at least sufficiently accurate to preclude misidentification of a common phenomenon.  To contend otherwise is to treat the witnesses as ignorant, gullible, or dishonest.  And, while there may be some who fit that description, it is surely a mistake to think that all who report fall into one or more of those categories. If one places any faith whatsoever in human honesty and basic intelligence, then a conclusion that the enigmas represent real events is inescapable.

Mystery events come in a wide variety of forms. William R Corliss, in his Science Frontiers newsletters and other publications, probably addresses the scope and bewilderment of these events more completely than anyone else has done. The repetitive nature of many phenomena has permitted Corliss to organize them into categories, of which there are dozens. Listed below are anomalies, many from Corliss but some new, having particular relationship to the hypothesis. Although most categories are self-explanatory, a few may need further words to either explain what they are or to justify why they are on this list. These are marked with an asterisk and will be specifically addressed later.

Ball lightning
Earthquake lights
Magnetic disturbances
False meteors*
False airplane crashes*
Flying saucers
Mystery booms (skyquakes)
Sky flashes
Hovering or traveling light formations
Multiple suns or moons
Light columns
Unexplained fires and explosions*
Crop circles
Marine light wheels
Unexplained craters
Fish/frog/stone falls
Cattle mutilations
Spontaneous human combustion

In each of these enigmas, energy from some unknown source is indicated.  In many, the outward manifestation is simply production of light.  In others, material is moved around or caused to disappear. Still others involve non-luminous apparitions.  Within the existing paradigm for atmospheric physics, nothing seems capable of explaining how any of the above (including ball lightning) can occur. It was therefore concluded that one or more unknown mechanisms must be at work


Convinced that they must exist, a wide-ranging search for potential "unknown mechanisms" was undertaken. This was done more in the form of a mental exercise than as a scientific literature search. Although there probably are indicators of unknown mechanisms hidden in a few scientific papers, there didn't seem to be any point in searching for them. Even if found, those indicators wouldn't be of any value in trying to convince science because, after all, they would already have been explained away once to the satisfaction of their authors. Consequently, the search consisted of sorting through a number of "what ifs", weighing each hypothetical process to see if it appeared to fit any of the evidence. Of course, the "evidence" in this case was the vast and varied literature of unusual sightings and events. Surprisingly, that thought process in time almost naturally zeroed in on a particular mechanism which, while quite speculative, seemed capable of explaining even the most puzzling characteristics of virtually every type of enigma. The hypothetical mechanism was termed "ion-based conduction", and was conjured around the conclusion that if concentrations of electrical energy were stealthily moving through the atmosphere, ions, and not free electrons or focused electromagnetic radiations, were probably the medium for such transfer

To fit the evidence, the "new mechanism" was envisioned to be flow of energy along invisible "channels" that form naturally within the atmosphere. Channels were envisioned to better explain the concentrations of energy release, e.g., glows, that seemed to be involved. The hypothesized channels consisted of ions moving under the influence of the immediate electric field (because the channel is conducting, it would be erroneous to assume that field to be the same as the earth's "ambient electric field" in the vicinity).  Further, it was speculated that the flows involved approximately equal numbers of positive and negative ions, moving in opposite directions within the channels. This allowed the channels to be electrically neutral even while transferring significant amounts of charge. The fact that atmospheric scientists had not stumbled upon a candidate energy transfer mechanism implied that if one existed, it rather easily escaped detection. The channels hypothesized here, being essentially electrically-neutral, would have that property of being difficult to detect with standard instrumentation. Consequently, it was easy to imagine how this particular mechanism could have managed to escape detection over the many decades of atmospheric study. That envisioned characteristic lent considerable support to belief in the hypothesis.

If the channels as hypothesized exist, it is then easy to see how phenomena such as ball lightning and hovering lights in the sky can then happen. An invisible channel is connected to each light-emitting region, bringing to it the energy necessary to sustain illumination. In the case of ball lightning, connection is probably made to the thundercloud. For hovering lights in a clear sky, the source of charge and energy is not apparent. Quite possibly it is the ionosphere.

The idea of an invisible conducting channel in air was dreamed up specifically to provide a more intuitively-rational explanation for the glowing ball in ball lightning. The theory currently most favored by scientists studying that phenomenon is that the ball is a "plasmoid", i.e., a ball of strongly ionized air, and that the plasmoid contains within its boundaries and its fields all the energy involved in keeping it luminous. However, the small size of some lightning balls and their long durations make that theory highly suspect. The concept of an invisible connection made the persistence and behavior of ball lightning much more understandable. Perhaps of greater importance than making ball lightning explainable, that same concept made the phenomenon of hovering lights in the sky something that could then be rationally explained. Although such lights had been reported for centuries, they had gained even less scientific acceptance than ball lightning.  That is because science believes thunderstorm conditions are necessary to produce luminosities in air, and most sightings of these are made under clear skies. Hovering lights are often reported to persist for many minutes, sometimes even an hour or more.  Surely, the energy required for that persistence cannot be self-contained within their glows. So, if some unknown mechanism is required to explain how energy is supplied to hovering lights, why not consider it to be the same mechanism present in ball lightning?  Circular reasoning perhaps, but nevertheless apropos.

Once the idea of an invisible channel was thought plausible, a search for other indications that might support the concept was begun. One rather interesting but somewhat indirect indicator was found in the phenomenon called a Red Sprite. A recent discovery, Sprites are large, complex, glowing regions which briefly (milliseconds in duration) appear above thunderclouds in conjunction with positive cloud-to-ground discharges below. Sprite "structure" generally consists of a diffuse red glowing region at high altitude below which numerous "tendrils" with branching and bright nodes extend downward. Although the most-pursued current theory has the complex Sprite structure being created on the spot by relativistic electron avalanche processes (runaway electrons), that theory leaves some important unanswered questions. For example, it would not appear to explain how a single positive stroke can produce multiple, widely-spaced Sprites, a situation that frequently is observed. Invisible ion-conduction channels offer a more intuitively satisfying explanation for the phenomenon. In this explanation, the complex configuration of the Sprite simply represents the pattern of ion flows already existing at the time of the positive C-G discharge. Flows occur due to the potential difference existing between the top of the thundercloud and the ionosphere.  Since both the ionosphere and the thundercloud are acknowledged sources of ions, the concept of bilateral flow fits comfortably into this picture. The electric field disturbance created by the C-G discharge temporarily upsets the balance that has permitted invisible flow. The result is a brief glow which originates within the structure of the existing flows. Presumably the ions, which were somehow moving virtually without collisions with air molecules, suddenly due to the disturbance undergo numerous collisions, creating the glow in the process. Another intuitively-satisfying aspect of this premise is that most of the energy needed to create the glow already exists throughout the Sprite volume in the form of moving ions. That eliminates the need for the electric field transient to carry that energy into the region. The only work the transient then needs to do is to upset the conditions that made for invisible ion flow. How a transient created in a thundercloud can make the air 60 or more kilometers above it luminous then becomes, at least in principle, understandable.

The best indication of the existence of channels as hypothesized was found in an article posted on the Internet. At (,  Bill Beaty described a simple experiment he performed in June, 1998 at a Seattle Weird Science meeting. In the experiment, Bill created what he called "air threads", narrow filament-like channels that appear to follow electric field lines. The threads were able to deliver energy from a high voltage source (about 5 KV) through the air and onto a mist layer 60 centimeters below. He produced the mist layer by dropping dry ice crystals into a cookie sheet containing about a centimeter depth of hot water. Wherever a thread intersected the mist, a dimple was observed. The dimple could be moved about at will by shifting the position of' the charged upper electrode (thread-launcher). Many of the properties Bill noted for the threads fit in uncanny fashion with the ion-conduction hypothesis. Some of these are: 1) no apparent electrostatic repulsion between closely spaced adjacent threads (channel neutrality); 2) apparently identical behavior under either polarity of applied high voltage; 3) an apparent propagation velocity along the threads of a few meters per second (implying ion involvement); and 4) virtually no interaction with the surrounding air (no observed air turbulence near the thread and no deflection of the thread when blown upon through a drinking straw). Behavior of these threads seems inconsistent with them being simply interactions of electric field "lines" with the mist, or being an ordinary drift of ions through air. Diffusion would rapidly cause the drifting ions to spread out and lose their thread-like configuration.

In considering how the thread-like behavior might arise, it was conjectured that such a unique configuration might well result from there being approximately equal numbers of positive and negative ions in the flow. This sort of balance could give the channel the property of being self-organized, that is, of becoming and remaining a narrow conduit all along its length. The reasoning behind this contention is as follows. Wherever equal numbers of ions of each polarity exist in a given volume, the net electrostatic repulsive force within that volume is zero. As a consequence, any "pressure" exerted on that volume by an ambient electric field will tend to compress it, there being no net repulsive force to resist the compression The envisioned result is that a channel having balanced flows will be compressed into a small cross-section. Increasing the amount of ion flow, as long as it was balanced, would not cause the channel cross-section to expand appreciably, because the net repulsive forces would still be nearly zero. Thus, in principle, such complementary-flow channels could accommodate rather large energy transfer rates without requiring large channel cross-sections.

Within the channel, positive and negative ions will necessarily flow in opposite directions under the influence of the electric field. Consequently, for an extended-length channel of this type to persist for any length of time, it would be necessary that a source of ions exist at each end of the channel, a source of negative ions at the negatively-charged end and a source of positive ions at the positive terminus. This is an important difference from most laboratory ion generation, wherein ions of a single polarity are produced at only one electrode. It also represents a configuration different from ion generation in air by cosmic rays or earth radioactivity, where both polarities are produced in the same reaction and thus end up in close proximity to each other. In the air-threads experiment, it was assumed that ions were being created by corona at the upper "thread-launching" terminal. The bilateral-flow hypothesis implies that, although probably unknown to the experimenter, complementary ions were also being created at either the mist or the water below. It also seems reasonable to conjecture that "impacts" of descending ions help supply the energy needed to liberate the ascending ions. An extension of the hypothesis, then, can be that the unique conditions that give rise to this ion conduction mechanism in the atmosphere involves existence of the necessary complementary ion sources at opposite ends of the channel.

One other property of this hypothesized flow must be addressed. How can ions of opposite polarity pass each other at what must be very close distances without colliding?  After all, the attractive force between them increases as distance decreases. So, it would seem that collisions between ions within the channel would be unavoidable.  Nevertheless, it appears that this is not happening. If indeed threads are real and consist of these bilateral flows, then the reason for absence of collisions must lie in quantum physics. This may seem to be blindly grasping for explanation, but perhaps it is not all that unreasonable. It is known from quantum-mechanical considerations that opposite charges are not necessarily free to simply extinguish each other. Other quantum rules must be satisfied. It seems quite plausible that ions originating at well-separated sources are mostly unable to satisfy those quantum requirements. Thus they may be attracted to but unable to extinguish (collide with) each other.

If threads are indeed a bilateral ion flow phenomenon, then the following observation about thread behavior has great importance. It appears that a thread, once initiated, can be "stretched" to considerable length without weakening it appreciably. This implies that there is relatively little energy loss (voltage drop) along the path. The losses that restrain the amount of flow appear to occur mostly at the terminals, i. e., the ion-generating regions. The significance of this observation, insofar as similar connections in the atmosphere are concerned, is that very high electric field strengths are probably not required. This could permit such channels to form in almost-normal, non-thunderstorm atmospheres. Certainly, that would square with the majority of unusual sightings and events.

It is not inconceivable that the "air threads" described above are simply manifestations of electric field patterns, and do not actually represent flows of ions. More careful study needs to be done before reaching any firm conclusion in that regard. Still, their overall behavior seems to be so consistent with other evidence for ion-based activity that it feels appropriate to continue to think along the line that they are indeed ions, and are simply small versions of what happens routinely in the atmosphere. It truly seems as though the air threads phenomenon is the unknown mechanism behind most atmospheric enigmas.  Obviously, careful scientific study of threads would be an ideal starting point in a program to investigate atmospheric enigmas.


Many of the phenomena thought to be caused by the ion-conduction mechanism seem to occur episodically in particular geographic regions. Certainly, that is true of false meteors, lights in the sky, and cattle mutilations. Why that should be is difficult to picture, but one cannot help noticing the similarity to occurrences of geological events such as volcanoes and earthquakes. Those events seem to occur in episodes of frequent activity separated by longer periods of inactivity. That seems to be the nature of earth crustal processes.

Given the similarity of activity patterns, it seems natural to suspect that something associated with earth crustal activity may also be involved here. Although changes in regional electric and magnetic fields, ground conductivity, or perhaps telluric currents may be the cause of these episodes, measurements of those parameters do not appear to indicate such a connection.

Seepage of gases from the earth is proposed as a particular mechanism associated with crustal behavior that could influence the electrical properties of the atmosphere above.  To lend some support for that conjecture, it should be noted that when, where, or even if gas seepages may be occurring is not well known. Occasions in which a disagreeable odor mysteriously invades a given locale for an extended period serve to point up the lack of understanding. Invariably, a search for the cause of the odor fails to locate any specific source. It would seem that if the source were on the ground or if the odor came from some body of water, locating the cause would be easy. The fact it can' t seem to be located implies the odor probably comes from underground, perhaps from deep underground. It would be logical to assume that in finding its way upward from deep levels, a gas would find many small, dispersed paths rather than a single exit orifice. This would make locating the "source" impossible.

Since methane, a major constituent of much earth gas, is odorless, significant seepages of it could be happening without being noticed at all. The fact that animals and decaying biomass also release methane helps to complicate the detection problem, as does the fact that being lighter than air, methane rapidly diffuses upward. Being both difficult to detect and capable of electrically modifying the air up to substantial altitude, methane seepage would be a good candidate to be the unknown geographical connection

Gases seeping or escaping from the earth can be expected to alter the local electrical properties of the lower atmosphere, particularly conductivity. Most of air's conductivity near the earth is assumed to arise from ions produced by the ground's natural radioactivity and by cosmic rays. The number of ions produced by these processes is small; consequently air's normal conductivity is low. Being low, it doesn't take many additional ions to make a large change. One way that earth-gases can create new ions and effect a large change is through slow oxidation. Any combustible in contact with the oxygen in air will undergo slow oxidation. For example, methane released into the atmosphere will eventually disappear by being oxidized into carbon dioxide and water.  Such oxidation produces ions, and although the process is slow, when occurring throughout a large volume of atmosphere it can greatly increase the overall ion content.  The additional ions will increase conductivity. They also would be available to participate in ion-channel formation.

Another argument in favor of gases over ground conductivity, ground-based electric fields, or telluric currents being the reason for event clustering is that gas releases would work just as well over water as over land. A great many luminosities, especially recurring ones, are seen over water.

Other gases may at times be involved in mystery events. For example, the tendency for unexplained lights or objects to head for or "pace" aircraft in flight may be due to the fact that the aircraft is laying down a trail of exhaust gases. Presumably, these exhaust trails become part of the invisible ion-flow pattern.

Although it doesn' t seem likely, it may be that gas releases or seepages are always involved in one way or another with atmospheric enigmas. It is a difficult contention to disprove, since in most scenarios releases can easily be happening without being detected.


The phenomenon known as earthquake lights (EQL) is beginning to gain some legitimacy among geophysicists, although it is far from being widely accepted as real.  EQLs take many forms--low-level glows, flame-like flares, light columns, and at times descending or ascending meteor-like fireballs. Although the tectonic strain theory for origin of these lights is currently in vogue, there is little solid evidence to support such explanation.

In the EQL environment, earth-gases are almost certain to be present, and flows there can be expected to be stronger than in ordinary seepages. More than that, at higher flow rates some of the gas may arrive at the surface partly-ionized. The probability of onset of ion conduction events would be greatly enhanced by the presence of such gases. The types of the ion-conduction events produced would include most of those seen in non-earthquake environments (light columns, hovering lights, false meteors, etc.), but could also include actual flames or flame-enhanced glows due to the high concentrations of combustible
gases that may be expected.

Quite obviously, if the above relationship between EQLs, earth-gases, and ion-conduction events is true, then monitoring for such gases could be a potential earthquake prediction tool. Learning how to do that effectively would also very likely reveal conditions that bring about other unwelcome atmospheric events such as connections to aircraft in flight.  The key to effective monitoring for earth-gases may lie in developing better means for assessing concentrations and species of ions present in the air.


The above explanation for possible origin of earthquake lights also would apply to swamp lights, or will-o'-the-wisps. It is well documented that swamps are good producers of methane, and in fact, many scientists in the past have attributed the lights to the methane. But, attempts to reproduce swamp lights in the lab with methane have been unsuccessful, indicating there is either something different or something more. Certainly ion-conduction channels, brought about by the presence of the swamp-gas, could be that something more. Methane and other gases, rising from the swamp and beginning to oxidize, would help bring on ion-conduction channels. These in turn would conduct electrical energy into the region to create luminosity.


Although these are rarely-observed phenomena, they are included here to emphasize that things do occur in the atmosphere that are beyond the understanding of science. These apparitions have been reported on numerous occasions by untrained eyewitnesses. More importantly, it seems, they have been observed and even photographed by astronomers (as reported by M. G. J. Minnaert in his book, Light and Color in the Outdoors).  Intriguingly while Minnaert explains away almost everything else under the sun in his book, he offers no explanation for this phenomenon. But, because it is addressed in such an authoritative treatise, there can be little doubt that the phenomenon is real. Thus, it cries out for an explanation.

If the proposed mechanism for ion flows does exist, then in addition to creating glows, it is quite possible that the above effect may, under certain conditions, be produced by it.

The presence of ions in a volume of air, particularly if ion concentrations become very high, may be expected to affect the air's refractive index.

Ions are not the only possible explanation - intrusion of a gas with greatly different index of refraction is one, and the possibility that a volume of air has somehow been strongly heated is another. However, neither of these possible explanations is very satisfying. The refractive index of common light gases differs very little from air, making it difficult to conceive of a configuration that could achieve the bending of light rays to the degree necessary to generate multiplicity of suns or moons. Heated (lower density) air is more plausible, but how would a volume (or volumes) of elevated air have become so heated?  Ordinary thermals do not create such dramatic effects. If they did observations of multiple suns would be commonplace. Interestingly, one way in which an isolated volume of elevated air might become strongly heated would be from energy delivered through an ion-flow channel.

It is also not inconceivable that the effect is due to higher-density gases that have been carried up to considerable height along an ion-conduction channel. Since the refractive index of denser gases can differ from that of air to a much larger degree than can light gases or heated air, stronger refractive effects would in that way be possible. Still, direct change of refractive index due to presence of ions seems more likely. That may be the only mechanism capable of producing the amount of bending that has been reported on some occasions. One of the more fantastic of such accounts has automobile headlight beams being diverted from the roadway ahead and curving off to the side of the road.  Such a claim may sound preposterous, but so too would have been the claim of multiple moon crescents had it not been scientifically documented. Surely it is inappropriate to accept one claim as truth and reject the other as preposterous, when neither of the two has a scientifically-acceptable explanation.


Assuming that ions in concentration can cause substantial changes in refractive index, then perhaps in different concentrations (or maybe in some particular energy states), other interesting optical effects can occur. Certainly, for a volume of air to behave absorptively or appear opaque is not unknown. Such behavior is observed in air heated and compressed by extremely strong shock waves. Perhaps the solid or dark objects often seen in the sky are manifestations of a similar energy state of a volume of air.

In other, perhaps more intensely-conducting situations, the possibility could perhaps exist for the "surface" of such an ion-filled volume to behave almost as a metal surface--that is, to essentially reflect light rather than simply refract it. If so, the mechanism could then provide a non-alien explanation for one of the most heatedly-argued of all optical phenomena, namely, the "flying saucer". Being essentially an electrical state of a volume of air rather than an actual body, such a "saucer" could easily perform maneuvers far beyond the capabilities of real aircraft (as is often reported).

How could a concentration of ions display a metal-like exterior? The following is probably not the correct explanation, but is offered as an example to show one way it might possibly occur. For this discussion, it should first be pointed out that concentrations of ions containing both polarities are not routinely encountered in the laboratory. Most ion generation mechanisms either produce only one polarity, or also liberate electrons into the same volume. Thus, there is no experience base for predicting what may be observed when ions of both polarities are present in high concentrations.  And, most probably, ions of a single polarity could not exhibit the same properties anyway, because if nothing else, mutual repulsion between them would tend to limit their concentration. So, the existence of both polarities in very close proximity to each other may be something yet to be set up and observed in a laboratory.

Who can predict how the outer boundary of such an ion cloud might behave? In metals, it is the proximity of atoms to each other and the mutual interaction of their outer electron "shells" that creates the energy bands in which electrons are free to move between atoms.  The high mobility of electrons populating these bands make the metal a good electrical conductor. Those same highly-mobile electrons also give the metal its reflective property.  The upshot is that if concentrated ion clouds could harbor similar conduction bands, then they too might exhibit similar reflective behavior.

Why the distinctive saucer shape and other sharp features? Any real attempt to answer that must surely wait for better understanding of the basic phenomenon. However, suffice it to say that if under some conditions ion flows can self-organize into narrow channels, then under somewhat different conditions, those channels might transition into other configurations as well. And, considering natures's penchant for symmetry, one of those shapes could well be the classic "flying saucer".

Are flying saucer reports believable? Science says, "absolutely not". Yet, in an objective reading of accounts of sightings, it seems quite clear that what usually is perceived is certainly not a misidentification of something ordinary. Nor does "mass hysteria" come across as a rational explanation when the phenomenon has been simultaneously witnessed by hundreds. No, it seems quite apparent that there truly is such a phenomenon, and correspondingly, there must be a rational explanation.


An inherent problem with all sightings of "unidentified objects" in the atmosphere is that they cannot be defended against debunking. If there are only visual sightings, "scientific experts" will insist the eyewitnesses have simply misidentified something commonplace.  If there is also photography or video, other experts will claim the images could easily have been faked. Consequently, it appears that no amount of sightings or images can suffice to make these events scientifically "real".

Animal mutilation sites are different. There, if they wish, scientists can see first-hand evidence for themselves. No need to rely on distorted descriptions related by easily misled, untrained individuals. There, all of their knowledge and insight can be meticulously applied to derive a straightforward explanation of what has happened.  Interestingly, despite such attempts, no realistic answers have been forthcoming. Those scientists who have looked at the evidence are unable to come up with anything other than lame conjectures. A few believe that the incidents are acts of cultists. Other "experts" are convinced that it is nothing more than the work of natural predators and scavengers. Ranchers quite familiar with predator problems, and whose cattle have been mutilated, know that the latter claim is nonsense.

The important point about mutilation evidence is that it cannot be made to conveniently disappear, to be hand-waved into the misperception category by so-called experts.  Certainly the dead carcass is not imaginary. And the astounding nature of the wounds is neither imaginary nor explainable. The many baffling things-- general absence of blood, absence of predator or scavenger footprints, cuts more precise and deep than the sharpest scalpel could make, particular body parts attacked missing body material, and indications of high temperature or cauterization at the wound surfaces -- these are characteristics not easily explained away. As a result, no condescending expert has proclaimed simply, "here's how it was done".

The fact that investigators have been unable to imagine any techniques capable of accomplishing them makes mutilations some of the strongest evidence available for existence of unknown atmospheric processes. In many mutilation scenarios, hovering lights are seen at night above the area where the mutilated carcass is found the next day.  Considered by themselves, these hovering lights might well be discounted as misperceptions. But, when taken in conjunction with the totally unexplainable mutilation, surely the credibility of the report of lights deserves to be raised to a special level of consideration. Together, the two phenomena indicate a probable atmospheric process at work (unless, of course, one prefers to believe the phenomenon to be the work of aliens).

It happens that ion conductions can potentially explain all of the mysteries surrounding these events--the precise cuts, the missing material, the absence of footprints, the preference for certain body parts, the absence of blood. First, a bit of background. In a recently-developed technique, ion beams, in a process called dry-etching or ion-etching, are used to create micro-machine parts on silicon wafers (tiny levers, gears, etc.). In the process, the masked wafer is exposed to an RF-generated plasma. Ions in the plasma, traveling in a uniform direction dictated by the field strike the wafer perpendicularly and ablate away the silicon. With this process, extremely precise, deep cuts in the silicon can be made with no undercutting or rounding of edges as occurs with wet chemical etching processes. Also the ablated material, being vaporized, is drawn out of the chamber by the vacuum pump, leaving the etching sites clean and free of debris. Note how completely this ion-based erosion mechanism duplicates the features found in mutilations. All that is necessary to turn ion-etching into a viable explanation for how mutilation surgery is dome is to envision how nature can produce similarly-directed ions.

The reason that mutilations always exhibit surgery on or removal of certain body parts (nose, lips, tongue, eyes, anus, and reproductive organs) is that those are places where body fluids are readily accessible, at the surface, and unprotected by insulating hide. The fluids are obviously important to the connection, undoubtedly being turned into ions that enrich or strengthen the flow. In an analogy to semiconductor etching, hide-covered areas are equivalent to the masked areas of the wafer. Everything unmasked (or not covered by intact hide) is subject to attack, or erosion by the connection. The preference for fluids in the connection also explains the lack of blood spilled at the scene. It is vaporized away wherever it can be accessed.

The significance of the contention that animal mutilations are "ion-etching events" is irnportant enough that it bears re-emphasizing. Only a potential explanation such as this holds any hope of allowing investigators to zero in on a true cause. Claiming that mutilations are done by aliens, or imagining that high-tech cultists are able to perform the unusual surgery, or imagining there to be an elusive, unknown predator species-- these are all bound to be dead-end streets. There are no good ways of investigating any of these claims. But, the ion-etching contention is testable, with many avenues available to investigate the reality of the hypothesis. A lab experiment to duplicate mutilation wounds using ions would probably be a fairly simple task, since nature seldom resorts to complicated mechanisms. A suitable high-voltage supply and a means for producing the right type(s) of ions are probably the principle requirements to conduct such an experiment.

Demonstrating that ions can indeed be the cause of mutilation wounds would be a monumental breakthrough. It would, in the end establish proof (or at least the strongest of inference) that a phenomenon exists that is outside the prevailing paradigm for atmospheric electrical behavior. Recognizing that fact would, most certainly, be a critical point in opening up a whole new look into our understanding of atmospheric electricity.


Although "lights in the sky" were dismissed above as never constituting evidence enough to prove existence of unexplained atmospheric phenomena, there is actually one form that holds some promise to help. That form is the "false meteor". By false is meant that the meteor exhibits behavior inconsistent with its being due to a meteoroid entering the atmosphere. Over the years, quite a range of "inconsistent behavior" has been observed, including:

Velocity too slow to justify luminosity
Velocity too fast to be an object of the solar system
Sudden appearance at low altitude (while invisible at higher altitude)
Curved trajectory
Sudden turns or start-stop movement
Too low altitude (particularly if below clouds or below distant hilltops)
Huge apparent size
Unusually repetitive occurrences within a limited geographical region
Ground "impact" disruptions without evidence of meteoritic material

Of course, all of these behaviors were determined by eyewitnesses, usually untrained ones. Therefore it is easy for scientists to discount them, and if eyewitness reports were all that could ever be obtained on such events, they would again not be enough. But, there exist today in the world a few multiple-camera networks with the potential to catch a false meteor in the act. Sooner or later, that will surely happen. With two or more cameras recording a fireball's passage, trajectory and velocity can be accurately determined. Such determination could either prove a meteor to be false, or at least place it in a highly suspect category. So far, despite many years of recording, there apparently have been no meteors recorded which exhibit false meteor behavior (with the possible exception of one which was declared to be a ball lightning event).

At face value, the lack of any false meteor recordings would seem to indicate their nonexistence. However, one should not reach that conclusion without examining the situation further. Because true meteors happen at high altitudes (20-100 km), and thus can be seen hundreds of kilometers away, two-station recordings can be adequately obtained with fireball cameras situated about 100 km apart, which is a typical network spacing. In sightings of "false meteors", however, eyewitnesses often indicate they believe the object seen was not very far away or not very high. If it is true that false meteors are generally nearer to observers than true meteors, then the spacings of network cameras would make two-station observations of them a far less likely occurrence. And a suspicious track recorded on a single camera would likely be dismissed as a light on a nearby passing aircraft.

Recently, networks of all-sky video cameras have been put in operation These cameras are intrinsically more sensitive than the traditional film cameras employed in fireball networks. Thus, they offer better capability for making two-camera recordings. Also, being less expensive and easier to operate, it is feasible to locate cameras on closer spacings in a given region. A couple of small video camera networks are now in operation. If the false meteor premise is correct, a network of this type will probably be the first to acquire a quality record of an occurrence.

Another strong indication that some meteors are false is the tendency for certain limited geographic regions to experience greatly enhanced meteor activity for a span of a few weeks or so, then return to normal. For example, central Colorado in the U.S. reported eleven fireballs during January/February 1998. If those fireballs were due to meteoroids from the solar system, then much of the earth should have been similarly affected with hundreds more being reported around the globe. But that was not the case. Activity elsewhere was normal. Similar spates of fireball activity have been recorded at other times in other locales. Other areas in North America that seem prone to spates of activity include New York, New Jersey, the Pacific Northwest (Washington/Oregon/British Columbia), Ohio/Indiana, and Alabama/Georgia.


Although there are many instances of fireballs being associated   with crater-like ground disruptions, such reports always suffer from lack of proof of a connection between the two. Invariably, the hole in the ground is found afterward and after determining that there is no meteoritic debris, is attributed to a landslide or other natural cause. Consequently, even though the frequency of these "coincidences" between fireballs and landslides is suspicious, they do not constitute strong evidence for the fireball being a false meteor.

Still, many of the craters represent genuine dilemmas in themselves.  In some, much of the material that formerly filled the crater appears to have disappeared. In others, the material is found some distance away, with no reasonable explanation as to how it could have been moved so far. Small mystery craters a meter or so in diameter are often thought to be the result of steam explosions caused by lightning strikes to wet ground.  Although plausible, that explanation has not been shown to be an actual source of such craters. For large craters, those a few meters or more in diameter, such explanation is surely out of the question.

It should also be recognized by investigators that such craters probably contain in their walls and periphery valuable clues about their formation. If as proposed here these craters are the result of ion channel connection, then there should be many tell-tale signs in the residual material at the site. Armed with the realization that such a mechanism just might exist, perhaps investigators at the next mystery crater can be alert enough to gather the evidence that can support it.


These events are similar to false meteors, but are distinctive in several aspects. In most, the eyewitnesses report a flaming fireball, sometimes trailing smoke, which descends at a steep angle toward the ground. Inevitably, the fireball disappears behind buildings, trees, or nearby hills, or if over water, is seen to fall down to it. Quite often, a brilliant flash is seen at about the time the object would have hit the ground or water, with generally a subsequently-heard boom. When multiple observers call these features in to 911 operators, the usual response is that emergency fire/medical and/or search and rescue teams are scrambled. An exhaustive search ensues, but turns up no debris (occasionally a small patch of burning brush is found). Of course, no aircraft are reported missing, either.

Meteor "experts" always conclude these events to be meteors. They point out that eyewitnesses can be greatly misled by a meteor's brightness, great height, and speed such that what seemed to be nearby was really hundreds of kilometers away. Due to their belief in such explanations plus their overall disbelief in the accuracy of eyewitness accounts, they seldom conduct any follow up to see if that conclusion can be justified. If they did they would often find puzzling aspects. For example, their contention that a fireball appearing to fall nearby really disappeared over the horizon hundreds of kilometers away simply doesn' t wash in those cases where the trajectory would have taken it over populated areas under clear night-sky conditions, and where no reports from those areas ensued. More than that, if the fireball terminated in a flash that was bright to the observers supposedly hundreds of kilometers away, that flash should not have escaped being seen by people much nearer to it in the populated areas.


In the case of swamp lights, the luminosity of the phenomenon is probably limited by the availability of combustible gas molecules in the air. When those available have been used up, the luminosity stops growing in intensity because the conduction channel is unable to find the ions it needs to grow. Being a relatively weak event electrically, it is unable to utilize ordinary air molecules to expand. It is easy to imagine, though, that if much greater concentrations of combustible molecules were available, an ion-based connection might become far more powerful. Then, the gas-air mixture in the channel might be heated enough to become ignited. Ignition could result either in flame or detonation, depending upon the mixture and gas type. Thus, a connection that makes to a flammable gas-air mixture is likely to do one or the other.

This hypothesized propensity for an ion-based connection to grow in intensity commensurate with available combustible gas may provide an answer to the riddle of how lightning activity at the surface is able to cause detonation of gases deep in mines. Many such incidents have been noted some even occurring in mines that were sealed, i.e., no human activity in them. Despite extensive ventilation measures designed to keep combustible gases below explosive concentrations, the detonations still happened.  Because an ion-connection is hypothesized to be able to utilize combustible gases in extending and strengthening its conduction, a connection initiated by lightning in the air above could propagate along the gas-air mixture inside the ventilation ducting down to lower levels of the mine and into niches where higher concentrations exist. It is probably not even necessary that there be any gas-air mixtures at explodable concentrations in the mine in order to have a detonation. The energy brought in by the ion-conduction channel can do two things. It can cause rapid expansion of air through heating, generating its own destructive pressure wave. And, conversion of gas into ions will greatly enhance its combustibility, allowing a mixture that is ordinarily not combustible to burn or explode.

Mines are probably not the only places where ignition can occur via this mechanism. Any activity that releases burnable light gases into the air may be endangered by the process.  Undoubtedly, many fires of unknown origin and some chalked up to spontaneous combustion actually start this way.


Of all the atmospheric enigmas, the phenomenon of "spontaneous human combustion" (SHC) is surely one of the eeriest. In SHC incidents, the victim appears to have been set afire, generally thought to be due to carelessness while smoking or being too near an open fireplace or stove. The eerie aspect is that the body is almost totally consumed, often leaving little more than a blackened area on the floor, bed, or chair, with perhaps the only recognizable remains being a shoe-clad foot with a portion of leg attached, or something of that nature. Investigation of these events has led authorities to develop what is termed the "human candle" theory. According to the theory, the fire begins in normal fashion in the person' s clothing or bedclothes. Then, however, the heat and skin burning exposes body fat which melts, and with the clothing serving as a wick, forms a candle-like flame. That's the theory.

There are numerous problems with that theory. For one, many of the victims are quite thin, thus seemingly not possessing enough body fat to consume the less-combustible remainder. Secondly, the victim's bones are generally also consumed a feat that even crematoria are unable to accomplish with their high-temperature, gas-fired ovens. It would appear next to impossible for a candle-like flame to reach temperatures sufficient to turn bones into ash (unless human fat has some unique combustion property not seen in other fuels).

An ion-based connection offers a much better explanation for SHC incidents. In essence, the SHC mechanism is the same as in a cattle mutilation. The reasons for differences in appearances are probably mostly due to two factors. One, the human has no insulating hide, thus the entire body surface can become a part of the connection. Second, since SHCs occur indoors, ion concentrations within the confinement of the room can be expected to behave much differently than in an outdoor environment.

SHCs appear to be becoming increasingly rare events, at least in Western countries. A possible explanation for this, again fitting into the ion-conduction premise, is that houses today have fewer open fireplaces (or even open windows) that can serve as entryways for an ion channel. Another factor may be that the air above is generally cleaner, or at least contains less unburned combustion products today than it did when coal and wood were major fuel sources.

Why would the victim have been "attacked" in the first place? Good question, perhaps again with an ion-conduction answer. It seems most victims have been very obese, or alcoholic, or an invalid, or some combination. Most probably, the connection begins very weakly at first, which for most people would create a tingling or restlessness that would cause them to move around and tend to break the connection. For a partially-immobilized person like the typical victim, the connection can build to greater strength without causing a response. Because ions are electrical, if the connection becomes strong enough, it can disable the body's nervous system such that further response is impossible. Surely this is why cows are unable to ward off a mutilation attack. By the time the connection grows strong enough to create pain, it is already anesthetizing the nerves in the area being attacked and maybe also the brain. Another possible factor in victim selection may have to do with combustible gases given off by the person. The breath of alcoholics, for example, may contain molecular species especially conducive to ionization, which would aid ion-channel formation. Very obese persons may produce an excess of other ionizable exhaust products. In a confined room, such contaminating gases could build up enough to make the room itself an inviting "target" for connection. Once the channel finds its way into the room, it will naturally follow the greatest concentrations of ionizable gases, which of course are at the victim.


Modern-day accounts of encounters with "lights in the sky" occasionally include claims of radiation-like effects or temporary malfunction of electrical equipment. Neither type of claim has been given much credence by skeptical investigators, although one would think that the Cash-Landrum incident (Dayton, Texas, December 1980), with its well documented physician' s report of radiation-like injuries, should have acquired significant believability. If it can be shown that mutilations can be due to ion connections, then it shouldn' t require much extrapolation to accept that radiation-like burns could be a similar manifestation.

In a similar vein, there are instances of persons feeling noticeable warmth or heat during encounters with luminosities. Within the past year or so, there have been two such instances reported by airliner crews, one near Hawaii and the other while flying over the northern U.S. In this latter occurrence, the crew experienced sunburn-like effects on their skin, and one member was reportedly concerned enough about skin reddened and sensitive the following day to request medical attention.


Marine lightwheels are another observed phenomenon that is outwardly unexplainable, but can be reasonably explained by ion flows. In these sightings, the water, or occasionally at times the air immediately above the water surface, is seen to glow in large, spoked, formations. The spokes, usually curved but sometimes straight, appear to be revolving around a central hub. The generation mechanism usually envisioned is some sort of coordinated luminosity produced by microscopic bio-luminescent animals. No theory has been advanced as to how the coordination would work to produce the rotating spoke formations. On the other hand if one allows that nature may generate organized, rotating patterns of descending ions, then the light patterns would make sense. Ions impinging upon the water could create luminosity directly, or the electrical energy delivered could cause luminescent response in the microorganisms present there.


Another seemingly-impossible but nevertheless believably-reported occurrence is levitation. Quite often cattle mutilations include indication of the animal having been picked up and transported to the place where its carcass is found. On at least one
occasion, a ranch worker in New Mexico observed such a levitation act. And in what seems to be a virtually indisputable account, 14 forestry workers in Washington state in March of 1999 witnessed an elk being lifted up and "into" a saucer-like object , which then flew off with it. There are a number of ways ion-based connections might accomplish the levitation feat. One possibility is through simple electrostatic attraction, much like a charged comb can pick up a piece of paper. But, it is difficult to imagine how enough charge can accumulate on the animal to support its weight. And where is the counterpart to the comb? The following scenario is perhaps more believable. Suppose that through an ion connection event, a large amount of charge of a given polarity is directed toward the ground and the animal. If the ions have appreciable energy (velocity), they will embed into both ground and animal, imparting to each a condition of having acquired bulk charge (as opposed to surface charge). Being embedded into the material and immobile, this ion-borne charge is not quickly lost through leakage or breakdown, as surface charge would tend to be. Mutual repulsion between the charged ground and the charged animal would be the levitation  force. An explanation as to why the animal is raised while the soil is not probably lies in the relative intensity of ion connection to each. Obviously, animals are a preferred target for ion connections, hence the mutilations. So, the density of ions embedded into the animal is undoubtedly much greater. As a result the animal rises while soil clumps and rocks do not.

Quite probably, reports of fishes, frogs, or stones falling from the sky are owed to the same phenomenon An explanation of how fishes or frogs can become extracted from the water goes as follows. Ions "embedded" into the water are not immobile, and due to mutual repulsion will diffuse away from any concentrated deposition regions. Those ions embedded into flesh, however, can be expected to be immobile, with the result that charge deposited there continues to build up. Eventually, it builds up to high enough levels to lift the animal.

One type of fairly frequent fall is the "false meteorite". In these incidents, eyewitnesses observe a fireball to descend steeply to the ground, apparently terminating in an impact, and usually generating a bright flash of light, or a scattering of "sparks" or "burning fragments". When the "impact area" is searched quite often material is found that is believed to be associated with the event. However, when submitted to meteoriticists for examination, it is quickly determined to be non-meteoritic. Instead, the material is quite often said to resemble "slag", that is, the glassy by-product of coal burning or smelting operations. What is unusual about these "slag falls" is their relative frequency compared to other types of material, and the diversity of circumstances in which they occur. Slag has been found to have fallen through roofs, to be the only foreign material on top of snow-covered ground, to be the only unusual material found on the bottom after an "impact" into water, etc. If all slag fall incidents are mere coincidences between incorrectly reported meteors and material randomly thrown into the vicinity, the question still remains. Why slag? Of all the objects that boys with strong throwing arms might pick up and hurl, pieces of slag would seem to be some of the least likely. Ordinary stones should be far more prevalent than slag, but do not seem to be. Also, there generally are no known sources of slag in the near vicinity. The implication of all this is that somehow the events responsible for the meteor-like fireball either produce "slag" or are responsible for finding it and transporting it to the impact area. Although it may seem incredible, it is just possible that the slag is actually created within the channel in the air via condensations and recombinations of material picked up in a vaporized form elsewhere in the vicinity.


Undoubtedly, crop circles are another manifestation of ion-based connections between the upper atmosphere and ground. Their circular forms, occasional association with lights in the sky, and the appearance of heat-like damage internal to crop stalks all point to a mechanism having properties similar to this one. Unfortunately, hoaxers have so clouded the picture as to whether any circles are real that it is self-defeating to try to use the phenomenon as supporting evidence for the existence of unknown mechanisms.

However, that doesn' t say that science should ignore all crop circles. If some are indeed caused by an "unknown mechanism", then those sites represent unique opportunities for the study of its effects. In addition, their almost-predictable occurrences in some areas could allow instrumentation to be set up to record their formation. If their formation mechanism is something akin to the hypothesized conductions, then it should be possible to measure electric and magnetic effects in the vicinity due to that process.


Reports of malfunction of auto ignition and electrical equipment abound in the UFO literature. These too are tossed off by "experts" as either mere coincidences or as happenings imagined by eyewitnesses. But, the reports are simply too numerous and too consistent to discount. Further, if luminous events are able to inflict radiation-like damage on people, then it would easily follow that the same process might affect things electrical. It is not very probable, though, that the effect is due to x-ray-like radiation.  Auto ignition (the older, non-electronic style) would be extremely immune to disruption by x-rays. However, if energetic ions are the activation medium, then their impingement upon insulating material could render its surface temporarily conductive, thereby shorting out ignition. Quite obviously, less robust electrical things such as radios, instruments, watches, alarm systems, etc, could also be affected and in some cases permanently disabled. A few reports even associate fireballs or lights in the sky with major electrical power failure (blackouts or brownouts). If in fact ions impinging upon insulators can render them temporarily conductive, such stories then become plausible.


Another often-discounted phenomenon is that of magnetic compasses "spinning wildly" or behaving erratically during encounters with luminosities. This too would be an expected effect of an ion conduction channel in the near vicinity. The ion current flow in the channel would create a magnetic field about it, which could easily be strong enough to override the earth magnetic field. Furthermore, if the channel is moving around, the effect upon the compass will be to cause it to change direction accordingly. Consequently these stories, wild as they may be, fit well with existence of an ion-conduction mechanism.

Interestingly, if ionosphere-to-ground connections do occur and are responsible for these reports, then magnetic sensing would be an ideal method for detecting and measuring them. In fact, one wonders why scientists studying the earth' s magnetic field have not stumbled upon the phenomenon.


In quite a number of mysterious aircraft incidents, one or both of the above two anomalies is often reported-unexplained engine shutdown and/or instruments behaving strangely. Some of these incidents turned out to be near-misses with disaster. Undoubtedly, there were other similar incidents which ended up being actual disasters. Along that line, there are hundreds of extremely well-substantiated reports of luminous objects rushing toward or at times pacing commercial aircraft. Assuming that these luminous objects are manifestations of connections made between the upper atmosphere and ground, then surely there is considerable threat to the safety of an aircraft that happens into the vicinity of the connection. Based upon the many eyewitness accounts reporting luminous fireballs streaking toward TWA Flight 800, it would appear that plane fell victim to just such a connection.

It is truly unfortunate that scientists and authorities have chosen to belittle persons reporting objects and lights in the sky. Consider that some of the best eyewitnesses possible, from the standpoints of eyesight, training, and vantage point, are aircraft crew members. Despite risk to their careers to do so, some have been brave enough to report such sightings (usually only when other crew members or other aircraft are able to confirm the sighting). What is especially disturbing about such incidents is the extreme elasticity of the "experts" in explaining away these sightings as misidentifications. This insistence upon explaining everything away is nothing short of deliberate obscuration of the truth. In the same sense, the belittling of eyewitnesses also amounts to de facto suppression of the truth.

The Project Blue Book files contain clear evidence of such suppression. Of the nearly 600 cases that were determined to be "unidentified" (out of more than 12,000 investigated), more than 200 occurred in 1952 alone. And of those sightings, 45 were reported by military aircraft crew members. In the succeeding seventeen years of Blue Book operation, "unidentifieds" due to military aircraft crew reports amounted to an average of two per year (less than one per year after 1956). Did the number of sightings really drop off after 1952, or was it just the reports of sightings that declined? You be the judge. Undoubtedly similar suppressive measures or pressures have been imposed on airline crew members. Without that suppression, the realization that something is occurring that may represent a threat to the safety of aircraft operation would probably have occurred long ago.


What has been attempted in relating all of the above is to make a strong case that nature, in the form of atmospheric electricity, is responsible for a very large fraction of the enigmatic happenings people have reported over the ages and continue to report today.

Because there is a great deal of speculation behind the above "explanations", they stand a good chance of being anywhere from partly wrong to totally wrong Although the ion conduction premise seems to fit, it may be an incorrect interpretation of what is really happening. But whether that premise is right or wrong is not the issue. What should be recognized, and hopefully is adequately argued in  the above, is that unexplained events are in fact happening, and that potential explanations for them, albeit somewhat shaky ones, exist. Thus it is neither necessary to discount such events as scientifically unsupportable nor to attribute them to alien or supernatural forces.

Can there really be an unknown electrical mechanism at work in the atmosphere? And can it be responsible for creating all those enigmas? Such claims, on the face of it, seem outlandish and beyond reason. But can there be any denying that certain things are happening that appear to be beyond rational explanation? So perhaps there is need for a bit of outlandish speculation.

The mystery surrounding cattle mutilations is a prime example. To an investigator trying to envision how anything or anyone could possibly accomplish the evident surgical feats, reason seems to fall short. It is enough to make one believe in the presence of alien force: or in the supernatural. But surely the cause is terrestrial and natural. And if so, in what form? Is not the idea that an atmospheric electrical mechanism is the cause far more rational than invoking a mythical unseen beast, such as is popularly done in much of Latin America? Considering that a) mutilations do happen and are not products of imagination b) they are totally unexplainable with current knowledge, and c) there must be an explanation, what is anyone to do? It would seem that applying a bit of wild speculation to the dilemma is, under the circumstances, quite appropriate. When that speculation produces an answer that also seems to make many other equally-mysterious atmospheric happenings explainable, why not think that a trail to the truth has been uncovered?

There can be little doubt that a great deal of energy is involved in many of the mystery events. It is no small feat to vaporize a hundred kilograms or more of cattle blood and tissue, or to excavate a mystery crater many meters in diameter.  Where could the energy come from? Given other indicators such as Red Sprites and false meteors, the ionosphere (which of course harks back to the sun) would appear to be the most likely source. Still, if ions are actually the medium of energy transfer, and if science is unaware that they can even exist in such natural concentrations, then many other options are possible. Ion sources might be hiding in unexpected places, even underground. In the atmosphere, it is natural to think of electrical energy as being stored and transferred as charge. That infers either ions or electrons. Because the behavior of electrons in air has been much more extensively studied and is thought to be fairly well understood, ions become the more logical candidate to be harboring an "unknown" electrical mechanism?

Establishing that there just might be geophysical explanations for events that science has held to be nothing but fantasy would have far-reaching consequences. For those persons who have reported unusual sightings in all sincerity only to have "experts" impugn their sanity or honesty, a degree of lost dignity may be restored.  For the experts, and particularly those scientists who insist it is all nonsense, perhaps a lesson in humility and civility will result. For science in general, it should open up whole new fields of investigation. By having proposed a particular geophysical mechanism, even an hypothetical one, skeptical scientists have been given something to shoot at, something to focus counter-arguments upon. Perhaps in so doing they will stumble across the dilemmas that surely exist, but for which they have been either too myopic to see or too arrogant to look or listen

Is all of this a bunch of silly musings brought about by unreliable observations, or does it deserve serious scientific consideration? Only time will tell. Maybe the ion-conduction hypothesis is totally wrong. Perhaps the real mechanism is high energy proton beams launched downward from the magnetosphere, or something of that nature. But whatever it is, what harm can come from giving the issue some serious thought rather than continuing to dismiss it out of hand?  Perhaps something new will even be learned in the process. On the other hand, if this hypothesis does turn out to be right, or if in investigating it the true explanation is found, the benefits that will result from having gained a correct understanding are almost too numerous and too far-reaching to foresee.

Richard E. Spalding Albuquerque, New Mexico May, 1999



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