Monday, 22 September 2014

A feather not falling

Feather People who don't believe in ghosts might well start to, if they see one. But, of course, things aren't always quite what they appear. Take the photo of a feather (right), taken recently. Would it make you believe in levitation?

The photo shows a feather, apparently in mid-air with nothing supporting it in that position. The picture is reasonably sharp and has not been altered in any way (except cropping of stuff around the edges). So what can we conclude, just looking at the photo?

The most obvious possibility is that the feather was caught in mid-air as it fell slowly towards the ground. Or it might have been blown into the air by a stiff breeze, perhaps. The photographer, however, says the feather actually remained in mid-air all the time, juddering a little. So could it have been levitating in some way?

A close inspection of the feather, by the photographer at the time, showed that it was caught in a spider's web. You can't see the web in the photo but there is a blurred bluish linear object just below the feather. That is a bit of the web, diffracting sunlight.

The point is this: the photo on its own could not answer the question of how the feather was apparently floating in space. Nor could a naked eye view from the distance where the photo was taken. And that is a problem with many reports of the paranormal. Vital bits of information that could explain what is going on are not, and in many cases could not, be noticed by the witness.

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