Over the last few weeks, we have been hearing an awful lot about mysterious "bangs" that have been heard in various locales around the world. From the various recordings made of these noises, the sounds being reported often seem to bear the acoustic hallmarks of fireworks, military weapons and aircraft tests, and even thunder.
While many of these curious noises have captured the public mind, strange sonic phenomena aren't the only things that tend to go "bang" like this. There are, albeit less often, mysterious flashes that are occasionally captured on film as well that, strangely, while very explosive in appearance, tend to come and go with little noise at all.
Occasionally, phenomenon that include lights in the sky that range from meteors, to drones buzzing overhead, are recorded by individuals quick with their camera phones. This isn't always the case, however; in one particularly unusual example of mysterious light phenomenon being caught on film, in 2012 a reporter with FOX 10 in Phoenix, Arizona, Andrea Robinson, had been giving a morning weather report bright light resembling an explosion appeared in the distance as traffic cams were rolling.
As the video below will reveal, this was just as perplexing to the news anchors who noticed it as it is to those of us seeking a cause underlying the phenomenon:
According to Fox 10 reporters, APS and SRP officials said there were no transformers that had exploded in the vicinity, nor any reports of explosions.
Arguably the most famous instance where a mysterious, nearly-blinding "flash" of apparent unknown origin has occurred was caught on tape earlier this year in Russia. As motorists were headed down a darkened highway, cameras on the vehicles dash were rolling as this inexplicable light welled up in the sky, bright enough to turn night into day for a few brilliant moments:
Writing for Time, Sam Frizell suggested one of four possible explanations:
Granted, Frizell notes that if it had been a chemical plant exploding, there would likely have been news about this that coincided with the eerie footage. To date, the best explanation is that the flash might have been caused by a falling bolide, burning brightly as it entered Earth's atmosphere.
A similar incident was reported in the Washington DC area in September of this year, which ABC News affiliate WJLA described as follows:
Many reports have been coming in of people in the D.C. region seeing a bright flash in the sky last night. It happened just before 11 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. Most reports on the American Meteor Society website are described as a bright white or yellow flash that lasted around one second.
Again, in this instance a meteor is likely to blame for the flash of light DC residents had seen. However, there might be other explanations for some of the mysterious flashes of light. One theory that has continued to gain traction in the last few months involves earthquake lights, following the publication of seismology a paper co-authored by John Derr and Robert Theriault earlier this year.
In the video below, a purported earthquake light was filmed in Japan during an earthquake in April, 2011; as you view it, compare this with the flash that appeared in the footage earlier from Phoenix last year:
Indeed, one could argue there are similarities. While the earthquake light phenomenon remains quite mysterious, seismologists believe it can account for at least some of the mystery "flashes" that are from time to time captured on tape. Perhaps more curiously, earthquake lights are also being proposed as solutions to various purported UFOs that have been photographed over the years. However, while heralded as "the final solution" by many UFO debunkers, some in the scientific community warn that more data must be gathered before earthquake lights can be touted as a "catch-all" for other varieties of unexplained illuminations.
For more information on the subject of earthquake lights and theories about their cause, this page of collected links by Dr. Michael Persinger offers a wealth of data on this little understood--and admittedly fascinating--natural mystery. Of particular interest here, take a look at the article, "Equivalents of UFO Phenomena Have Occurred During Historical Periods of Tectonic Stress Release" included with the list.