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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