Home Page Science Frontiers

No. 26: Mar-Apr 1983

Issue Contents

Other pages

Other Interesting Sites











Slithering Patch Of Light

September 8, 1981. Te Ngaere, New Zealand. Inside a house during a thunderstorm.

"The next lightning seemed directly overhead and very bright and was accompanied by a simultaneous very loud clap of thunder. I looked up as the whole house shook and then looked down and saw a flow of light come in under the door. It settled in a blob near the edge of the area where the tools were laid out. It was not in any true shape but about 3 or 4 inches long and 2 inches wide, moving along the floor, less than half an inch thick, seemingly fluid in shape and texture. It reminded me of quicksilver, being a bluish-silver colour and it had rounded sides like a blob of mercury. It was brighter at the edges than in the middle, but it did not seem, especially in the light of the room, to glow, nor did it give out sparks. From the central body arms flowed out like runs of oil among the tools. The trails weaved through the tools -- not actually over them but round them -- moving back into the main body of the blob and then going out doing the same kind of movement over again. There was no sound or smell. The arms finally all went back into the blob which disappeared again suddenly out under the door. There was no bang and when I ventured to touch the tools there was no charge on them."

A subsequent magnetic survey of the area showed a weak correlation between the patch's motion and regions of intense magnetic field. Such a correlation would be expected if the patch contained free magnetic dipoles or current loops.

(Burbidge, P.W., and Robertson, D.J.; "A Lightning-Associated Phenomenon and Related Geomagnetic Measurements," Nature, 300:623, 1982.)

Reference. Phenomena like this are cataloged in Section GLB in Lightning, Auroras. For ordering information, visit: here.

From Science Frontiers #26, MAR-APR 1983. 1983-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987