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Scientist Bursts Bermuda Triangle Methane Bubble Theory

If scientists can’t solve the mysteries of the Bermuda Triangle by direct discovery, perhaps they can do it by process of elimination. One of the more popular recent theories is that the area is directly above a massive methane gas deposit that occasionally releases a massive methane gas bubble … or possibly millions of tiny bubbles (not the kind that make anyone feel happy) … which create a liquid sinkhole that swallows ships and a whoosh of methane that knocks planes out of the sky into said sinkhole. It would make a decent movie plot … aliens living under the ocean and controlling this deadly game of Reverse Whack-a-Mole (patent pending) would help … but a video released this week by a physicist appears to lets the methane out of this bubble theory.

Helen Czerski is a physicist and oceanographer at the University College London and the author of Storm In A Teacup: The Physics of Everyday Life. While accepting that the release of a massive amount of methane from the ocean floor is possible, in the video she breaks down the bubble theory by breaking down the bubbles.

The first thing is that this whoosh of gas is going to break up into small bubbles, really, really quickly. It doesn’t rise as one massive, great big bubble.

Billions of bubbles could still make methane mayhem on the surface, right?

It pushes up on the ship, much more strongly than the ship is falling into the bubbles. The bubbles actually make the ship go up, not down.

So Czerski says the bubbles don’t cause the ocean to collapse into a sinkhole. Instead, they cause rising turbulence around the bottom of a boat. While serious and probably smelly, she believes the worst thing that could happen is that the turbulence tips the vessel on its side, thus sinking it.

Except …

Every ship is built to prevent that from happening.

Czerski points out that airtight compartments in the hold keep ships from tilting over. Well, that’s a relief. Make sure your compartments are airtight and you can sail through the Bermuda Triangle without fear of being sunk by bubbles.

But what about all of those planes that have disappeared over the Bermuda Triangle? If you believe Czerski’s bubble breakdown, the tiny bubbles dissipating at the surface don’t have enough force, even collectively, to rise thousands of feet into the air to knock out a plane. Well, that’s a relief.

But what about the list of over 1,000 ships and planes that have allegedly disappeared while passing through the Bermuda Triangle? Czerski’s video may have eliminated one possibility, but there’s still hundreds of other theories (and movie plots) waiting to be investigated by brave souls who will need more than just a YouTube cartoon.

The mystery of the Bermuda Triangle continues.


Paul Seaburn is the editor at Mysterious Universe and its most prolific writer. He’s written for TV shows such as "The Tonight Show", "Politically Incorrect" and an award-winning children’s program. He's been published in “The New York Times" and "Huffington Post” and has co-authored numerous collections of trivia, puzzles and humor. His “What in the World!” podcast is a fun look at the latest weird and paranormal news, strange sports stories and odd trivia. Paul likes to add a bit of humor to each MU post he crafts. After all, the mysterious doesn't always have to be serious.
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