Friday, 22 June 2007

Ghost in the Machine? Or a Bug?

You might have heard about the "unexplainable video of a ghost" caught on a US court security camera.

What it is

To find out, I conducted experiments at the courthouse to test the two most likely explanations: floating cottonwood seed and insects. First, I dispersed cottonwood tree cotton into the air near the camera to see if the image looked similar to the “ghost.” Upon reviewing the tape with the court’s deputies and security officers, we had mixed results. The cotton did make a fluffy ball, but it did not glow, nor did it move as the ghostly image had.

The second set of experiments involved the bug hypothesis: could a spider or insect have created the image? It was a common explanation, but some scoffed, saying that the glowing image didn’t look like a bug at all. I suspected that the glow was simply a reflection, but I wasn’t sure what the camera would see.

It was an insect.

Details here.

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