A new episode of the Science Channel's What on Earth proposes a new theory about the mystery of the Bermuda triangle, famous for making ships and airplanes disappear. And though conspiracy theories about the triangle's power have ranged far and wide, it appears science can explain it all away.
Steve Miller, a satellite meteorologist at Colorado State University, told What on Earth his interest was peaked when he saw a recent NASA satellite image of the cloud pattern above the western tip of the triangle, about 150 miles east of Florida. The shapes were unusual for clouds because they seemed to show a highly regular, almost symmetrical pattern.
"You don’t typically see straight edges with clouds," he said of the image. "Most of the time clouds are random in their distribution."
Scientists found that the hexagonal shape between the clouds—which can range from 20 to 55 miles across—creates unique wind conditions that result in massive waves and wind speeds. Randy Cerveny, a meteorologist from Arizona State University, called the hexagonal pockets "air bombs."
"These types of hexagonal shapes over the ocean are, in essence, air bombs," Cerveny reported on What on Earth, calling the shape "really bizarre."
"They are formed by what are called micro-bursts and they’re blasts of air that come down out of the bottom of a cloud and then hit the ocean and then create waves that can sometimes be massive in size as they start to interact with each other," he added.
It can create waves over 45 feet tall and wind speeds of 100 mph—and the initial blast from the air bomb can hit the ocean at speeds of 170 mph.
What can't science solve?