Rod (cryptozoology)

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Rods, sometimes known as Sky Fish or Solar Entities or "Fulgure" in French, [1] are a rather new subject of focus within the pseudoscience of cryptozoology. Videos of rod-shaped objects moving quickly through the air fueled speculation that the atmosphere was filled with a previously unknown species or small UFOs, but subsequent experiments showed that these rods natural appear in film because of an optical illusion.[2][3]


[edit] Alleged Sightings

Rods are claimed to have been spotted in the U.S., Australia, Canada, Mexico, Europe, Philippines and China.[4] Rods have also been claimed to have been sighted underwater and in caves. José Escamilla has promoted video footage of rods recorded during the filming of BASE jumpers (Brandon Daruna and Andrew Bradberry) at the Cave of Swallows in Mexico.[1]

[edit] Optical Illusion

Investigators have proposed that rods are mere tricks of light which result from how images (primarily video images) are recorded and played back. In particular, the fast passage before the camera of an insect flapping its wings has been shown to produce rod-like effects, due to motion blur, if the camera is shooting with relatively long exposure times.[5] (In low-light conditions or even when pointed at blue sky, the automatic exposure programming of a video camera is likely to select the longest possible exposure time, which is 1/60th second per video field for NTSC format or 1/50th second for PAL format.)

This criticism suggests that such video is incapable of capturing a clean image of something which moves so fast relative to the camera. In particular, the "membrane" in a video frame of a rod is effectively a time-lapse of the wings of the flying animal in different positions over several wingbeats that occurred during the field exposure time, while the central "rod" is a time-lapse image of the body, showing the full distance traveled during the field exposure time. The effect is especially pronounced with large, long-bodied insects which have broad wings and fairly slow wingbeats, such as mantises, grasshoppers, and katydids, or completely opaque wings such as moths. On video equipment which resolves the two interlaced fields of a single video frame (which are captured successively and then displayed as alternating horizontal lines), the "rod" effect can be seen to alternate from one field to the other, producing the distinctive gaps between successive images.[3] Similar results can be produced using standard film, if there is a long exposure and/or a stroboscopic lighting effect which lasts more than a single wingbeat. In other words, one can produce "rod" effects at will with the right equipment, lighting, and subject.

The optical illusion theory was validated by an experiment on an episode The History Channel series Monster Quest season 1, episode 11, first aired on January 9, 2008, includes footage where a "rod" is captured simultaneously by a traditional video camera and a high-speed camera. While the video recorded by the traditional camera showed a brightly-illuminated "rod" with multiple undulating wings, the high-speed video clearly showed a common moth flying across its field of view.

On August 8-9 2005, China Central Television (CCTV) aired a two-part documentary about flying rods in China. It reported the events from May to June of the same year at Tonghua Zhenguo Pharmaceutical Company in Tonghua City, Jilin Province, which debunked the flying rods.[2] Surveillance cameras in the facility's compound captured video footage of flying rods identical to those shown in Jose Escamilla's video. Getting no satisfactory answer to the phenomenon, the curious research staff of the facility, being scientists, decided that they would try to solve the mystery by attempting to catch these airborne creatures. Huge nets were set up and the same surveillance cameras then captured images of rods flying into the trap. When the nets were inspected, the "rods" were no more than regular moths and other ordinary flying insects. Subsequent investigations proved that the appearance of flying rods on video was an optical illusion created by the slower recording speed of the camera (done to save video space). This is the empirical evidence showing that the "rods" themselves can be captured, and that they do indeed prove to be ordinary animals.

[edit] References

Monster Quest Season One Episode: "Unidentified Flying Creatures."

[edit] External links

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