Thursday, March 31, 2011

FACT OR FAKED: Thermal Theater Ghost - Fire in the Sky

SyFy - Original Air Date: 3/30/11

The teaser cases not investigated this week are: Ghost Twins (AL) which appear suddenly, one on the stairs and another in a downstairs room, both appearing and vanishing during quick pans of the camera. It looks very "Japansese horror" to me, and the pans too convenient -- stopping and starting in just the right places -- and the camera being used (seen in a mirror) is a pro camera.  The Captured Alien video (2008, Brazil) seems to show a "gray" alien being interrogated, but it seems "too good to be true," possibly a combination of puppetry and CGI.  The two cases we're checking out fully are: 1) El Paso UFO, a falling "meteor" that breaks into 3 separate lights and then appears to hover, and 2)  Florida Theater Ghost (Jacksonville), which seems to show a translucent apparition sitting in a balcony seat.

The theater is one of those grand old palaces that are often reputed to be haunted.  The team sets up their night vision cameras and then stations Austin in the seat the "ghost" was seen in.  The image seems too distinct, though I think they've done a bad job replicating the lighting seen in the video (see below).  Next, they create a Plexiglas outline of a person and light it with a light box, but the box spills out too much light.  So, they decide to ghost hunt for a bit, and find mysterious heat signatures.  Because these seem to vanish whenever someone steps next to them, I think it's a calibration problem with the camera.  They, though, try to track this ball of heat across the auditorium, and eventually corner it near the "haunted" seat.  I still think it's a camera problem; nor am I impressed with their replication of the lighting of the original video.  For instance, the doorway (or wall) on the right of the seats is clearly visible in the original, while it remains dark in the recreation  Thus, the seat in question is underlit, thus this whole experiment is a fail, IMHO.  You may think you found something; I think you didn't try hard enough.  Sorry, guys.  More science needed.

They do better with the UFO investigation, starting by talking to the witnesses, and then sending up LED-filled balloons on, essentially, kite string.  But the lights aren't stable enough, nor do they have the streaking, sparkling tails of the original video.  Next up, a rocket deploying military flares, which are timed to last the minute and a half that the incident lasted, as reported by the eyewitnesses.  This looks almost right, but the flares descend too fast and don't hover long enough.  Next, they try a similar trick with sky divers.  The divers strap flares to their boots and then go out of the plane and form a formation.  They then light the flares, plummet for a while, and finally separate into a triangle shape and deploy their chutes.  The effect is a prefect replication of the video.  It's so good, in fact, that the recreation even gets UFO calls to 911 (though apparently people refuse to believe the true explanation).  Research proves that the Army's Golden Knights skydiving team was responsible for the El Paso lights.  Case solved.  Science wins.  Good job, team.

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