Mystery Mountain

first_imgFor centuries the Brown Mountain Lights have intrigued, haunted, and perplexed those who have witnessed the strange and inexplicable lights hovering over the long, broad peak of Brown Mountain in Burke County, N.C. One of the earliest recorded sightings of the lights was by Geraud de Brahm, a German engineer who explored the region in 1771. Since then, thousands of people are believed to have seen the lights, and countless legends have attempted to explain what many scientists and geologists could not.However, a recent study of the lights led by scientist Josh Warren has produced a compelling new explanation that he believes could help finally solve the mystery.Warren believes that a number of unique environmental factors specific to the region surrounding Brown Mountain all coalesce to trigger the phenomenon. He argues that the Brown Mountain Lights are likely a form of plasma naturally produced by the mountain. Plasma is the product of high-level energy being added to a gas, ripping electrons from atoms to produce a swirling, luminous mass of free-floating electrons.The study gained acclaim within parts of the scientific community and was hailed by the U.S. Naval Physics Laboratory.While Warren acknowledges that he has yet to fully understand and predict exactly what causes the lights to happen on some nights and not others, he has discovered several factors that he believes increase the likelihood of seeing the lights.One factor is the amount of activity in the magnetosphere, the magnetic field that surrounds earth. Like the northern lights, the Brown Mountain Lights are the product of something that is cosmically oriented. “Brown Mountain is one of those spots that conducts a lot of energy. Because of that, sometimes we get to see these remarkable little anomalies that illustrate just how strange and powerful our universe really is.”In essence, the mountain might be acting as a large conductor of electricity.  When the lights appear, they are accompanied by electromagnetic interference.He wasn’t the first to come to this discovery.  In the 1970s, a research group comprised of scientists from the Oak Ridge Laboratory studied the lights and came to the same conclusion: “It appears the mountain is able to store up small electrical charges up to a critical point when they then discharge. The end result is a natural phenomenon that produces an effect very similar to ball lightning.”The mountain is composed of alternating layers of conductive rocks like magnetite and non-conductive rocks (like quartz), magnifying the mountain’s potential to store electrical charges. Add higher water tables after a period of rain and the electric current becomes that much stronger.During his research, which consisted of hundreds of visits to the area over several years, Warren found that the lights were seen most often in September and October. He hypothesizes that the release of tannic acids by freshly fallen leaves increases the level of electrolytes in the water and makes it more electrically conducive.Autumn’s larger temperature differential between day and night also squeezes rock layers and increases electrical discharge. Smoke from wood-burning fires can also fuel the lights.Once the lights appear, Warren said they begin to move parallel along the shelves of earth where the charges originate and also rise straight up into the air. The way the lights move and react still remains unexplained.“They could rise due to their own heat, a sort of Jacob’s Ladder effect, or it could be that they are at times even more influenced by charges in the atmosphere,” Warren said.Warren’s next step is to record the mountain for 24 hours a day with a video camera so that they can study where the lights are most likely to occur.“I can give you a handful of variables that will increase your chances of going there and seeing the lights, but the mystery of Mother Nature is the very reason why this is so challenging,” Warren says. “There are only a handful of places on the earth that seem to consistently produce these kinds of effects. We are very lucky to have one right down the road.”Blue Ridge Outdoors Travel Editor Dustin Zarnikow ventured up to see the Brown Mountain Lights first hand, read his account and hear an interview with a witness.Light ShowsHere are the best places to view the Brown Mountain Lights:Wiseman’s View OverlookFive miles south of Linville Falls on Kistler Memorial HighwayLost Cove Cliffs OverlookMilepost 310 of the Blue Ridge ParkwayBrown Mountain OverlookHighway 181, 20 miles north of Morgantonlast_img read more

A year on, Hong Kong democracy protesters torn between hope and fear

first_imgMedical sector worker Tana has attended peaceful lunchtime rallies in Hong Kong regularly for months along with thousands of others protesting Beijing’s influence and calling for greater democracy in the global financial hub.Now, a year on from a mass rally that kicked off a large scale and often violent anti-government movement, 37-year-old Tana and her husband fear not enough has changed.The protests succeeded in forcing a backdown by the Hong Kong government on proposed legislation that would have allowed extradition to mainland China. But a year later, authorities in Beijing are drafting national security laws that activists fear would further curb freedoms. For Tana and her family, including a son born just before the protests began, pragmatism is beginning to trump idealism.”I am most worried about my child,” Tana told Reuters, requesting her surname be withheld for security reasons. The family has already shifted their savings abroad, she said, and “emigration might be an option.”Among supporters of the protest movement, feelings range from slim hope to acute fear of oppression. After a relative respite during the coronavirus outbreak, protesters are again taking to the streets against the proposed security laws. Officials have said the laws would target a small number of “troublemakers” with provisions against secession, subversion, terrorism and foreign interference.Ng, a retired 63-year-old woman is among those looking back at the past year with pride and pledges to keep demonstrating. Topics :center_img “A single spark can start a huge blaze,” she said, also requesting she be identified by one name only. “The more the government suppresses us, the more resisting we become.”David, 22, who works in insurance and declined to give his surname, said a mix of violent and peaceful tactics was needed for international attention.David said he “sometimes felt overwhelmed with fear” when he helped at rallies by mixing petrol bombs and disabling tear gas canisters, but he felt compelled to continue.Demonstrations have often turned violent, with protesters blocking roads, vandalizing shops perceived to have pro-Beijing links and throwing bricks and molotovs at the police, who have responded with tear gas and rubber bullets.Isaiah Choy, who studies in Britain but came back last year to take part in peaceful protests, said violent tactics should be abandoned. The 21-year-old said he is frustrated with Hong Kong being treated as a “pawn” in U.S.- China conflicts.Washington, which has traded barbs with Beijing over trade, the coronavirus pandemic and other issues, says China has quashed the high degree of autonomy that Hong Kong was promised for at least 50 years when it returned from British to Chinese rule in 1997. Beijing has dismissed the claim and urged Washington not to meddle.Mutual destructionThe protests have strong support among Hong Kong’s 7.5 million people, according to opinion polls, with about one third of the population opposed.Keung, 50, said he supported national security laws and hoped the pro-democracy movement “will end soon because evil can never prevail over good.””It is normal for the government to set up laws to tighten its grip when people are violating the previous ones,” Keung, who also gave one name only, told Reuters.Others vow to continue to protest for as long as it takes.Sixty-four-year-old retiree Fu has embraced the often chanted slogan “if we burn, you burn with us,” referring to the belief that as a magnet for global capital, Hong Kong is the goose that lays the golden eggs for the mainland economy.Fu said he has lost many childhood friends because of his position, but he has no regrets: “I am a die hard fan of mutual destruction and Hong Kong independence.”last_img read more

Cricket News India Vs South Africa T20I: Focus On Rishabh Pant As Hosts Look To Draw First Blood

first_imgMohali: Rishabh Pant’s form would be an important sub-plot when India look to seize the advantage against South Africa in the second T20 International here on Wednesday after a washout in Dharamsala effectively made the series a two-match affair. The T20 World Cup is more than 12 months away but India captain Virat Kohli has already detailed his plans and expectations from the youngsters in the side. The skipper did not expect to get a bagful of opportunities when he arrived on the international scene and believes the current crop of youngsters also need to make it count in the limited time they are going to get.One of them is 21-year-old Rishabh Pant, who can’t be bracketed as a “youngster” anymore having made his debut back in February 2017.Not a single ball was bowled in the series-opener but there was enough happening on the sidelines and most of it was focussed on Pant.In a chat with the host broadcaster, the message for Pant from the team management was loud and clear: he can’t repeatedly throw his wicket away and if he does “there will be a rap on the knuckles”.”We’ll let him be but at times when you see a shot, like the first ball dismissal in Trinidad (during the tour of West Indies), if he repeats that, then he will be told. There will be a rap on the knuckles, talent or no talent,” said head coach Ravi Shastri ahead of the series-opener.With Kohli still very much open to having Mahendra Singh Dhoni back on board, pressure is mounting on Pant to do justice to his rich talent.Considering the circumstances, it was not a surprise that Pant had a hit in the nets right after the team flew here from Dharamsala on Monday.Pressure will also be on leg-spinners Rahul Chahar and Washington Sundar, both of whom have been picked ahead of Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal for the second straight series.With 20-odd games to go before the World Cup, the Indian team wants to boost its batting which will require number 8, 9 and 10 to score runs on a regular basis, something which has never been India’s strength.Will a deep batting line-up compromise India’s ability to wake wickets in the middle overs? Only time will tell.It is also an important series for Shreyas Iyer and Manish Pandey, who have been brought back into the side to solidify the middle order.The game will also be an opportunity for Shikhar Dhawan to play a substantial knock, having endured a lean tour of the West Indies by his standards.It a ground he is fond of, having scored a memorable 187 on his Test debut and more recently a 143 in the ODI against Australia in March this year, albeit in a losing cause.On the other hand, it will be an uphill task for South Africa to beat this Indian side, which has been on a roll for most part.Time in the middle for a team in transition would have been valuable but rain robbed the Proteas of that opportunity in Dharamsala.The Kagiso Rabada-led attack would have to bowl really well to contain the Indian batsmen especially skipper Kohli, who played one of his best knocks against Australia in March 2016, the last T20 played here, to take India to the World T20 semifinals.Kohli, in a recent tweet, summed up what that knock of 82 off 51 balls meant to him as he struck the winning runs with Dhoni at the other end.Though his followers failed to read his words, Kohli will be aiming for an encore on Wednesday.India vs South Africa T20I (Squads)India: Virat Kohli (captain), Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Rishabh Pant (wicket-keeper), Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Krunal Pandya, Washington Sundar, Rahul Chahar, Khaleel Ahmed, Deepak Chahar, Navdeep Saini.South Africa: Quinton de Kock (c), Rassie van der Dussen (vc), Temba Bauvma, Junior Dala, Bjorn Fortuin, Beuran Hendricks, Reeza Hendricks, David Miller, Anrich Nortje, Andile Phehlukyao, Dwaine Pretorius, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, George Linde. For all the Latest Sports News News, Cricket News News, Download News Nation Android and iOS Mobile Apps.last_img read more