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No. 32: Mar-Apr 1984

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Booms Startle Arkansas

"A series of mysterious loud booms reported by residents of Hope, De Queen, Fulton, Mela, Ola, Baresville, Little Rock and other Arkansas cities will remain mysterious, at least for a while. Authorities are baffled about their source.

"The noises, which have been described as sounding like an explosion, a sonic boom, a book falling off a shelf and a hand pounding on a wooden door, apparently have been occurring since the beginning of the recent cold weather. Inquiries have produced a number of theories and guesses but no plausible explanations."

No supersonic aircraft could be implicated, so the most popular view was that the extreme cold weather caused house timbers to crack.

(Anonymous; "Mysterious Booms Heard around State Baffle Authorities; Some Blame Ice Cold," Arkansas Gazette, December 24, 1983. Plus other Arkansas papers of December and January. Cr. L. Farish)

Comment. If popping house timbers were the cause, similar reports would be expected from other states every winter. The Arkansas episode echoes the famous 1977-1978 series of booms heard all along the eastern coast of North America. These detonations also occurred during cold weather and were blamed, by some, on the Concorde SST.

From Science Frontiers #32, MAR-APR 1984. 1984-2000 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