The Skeptical Teacher

Musings of a science teacher & skeptic in an age of woo.

Posts Tagged ‘lightning’

Big Butter Jesus is Toast!

Posted by mattusmaximus on June 15, 2010

Okay, like everyone else on the Internet, I just cannot pass up the opportunity to write something about the “Touch Down Jesus” or “Big Butter Jesus” statue outside of the Solid Rock Church in Monroe, Ohio (technically, it was called the “King of Kings” statue).  Last night this six-story tall statue was destroyed after, of all things, lightning struck it and burned it to the ground, leaving nothing more than the metallic frame behind.

Leaving aside the obvious jokes, which – believe me – are legion and spreading like wildfire across the Internet, I have to say I’m glad that no one was hurt.

But on a more serious note, I have to ask two questions:

1. Isn’t there a Biblical commandment against worshiping graven images? Wouldn’t one think that “Big Butter Jesus” statue was a violation of said commandment? Putting my theology hat on, couldn’t one surmise that perhaps this was a sign from the Almighty to NOT have such a statue?  Somehow I don’t think many Christian fundamentalists will see it that way…

2. The damn thing cost $250,000 to build, and it was a bloody eyesore!  Couldn’t these folks find something more useful to do with the money – like feed & clothe the homeless, perhaps?

In any case, in a final tribute to our burned (melted?) buttery friend, I share with you all this Youtube video of a wonderful song written back in 2007 by comedian Heywood Banks 🙂

Posted in humor, religion | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

New Phenomenon to Explain UFOs

Posted by mattusmaximus on February 28, 2009

I posted earlier – in Texas Fireball Mystery – about how many people use the default explanation of aliens to explain UFOs (Unidentified Flying Objects), and this is often due to a tendency for people to argue from ignorance due to our lack of knowledge of the natural world. Well, according to new research, another naturalistic candidate to account for many UFO sightings has been discovered… high-energy electrical discharges called sprites.

sprite

According to the article on the sprite-UFO research…

“Lightning from the thunderstorm excites the electric field above, producing a flash of light called a sprite,” said Colin Price, a geophysicist at Tel Aviv University in Israel. “We now understand that only a specific type of lightning is the trigger that initiates sprites aloft.”

Researchers have detected the flashes between 35 and 80 miles (56-129 km) from the ground, far above the 7 to 10 miles (11-16 km) where usual lightning occurs. Sprites can take the form of fast-paced balls of electricity, although previous footage has suggested streaks or tendrils.

The cause or function of the flashes remains murky, but Price suggested that they could explain some of the UFO reports which have cropped up over the years. That might provide some solace for UFO enthusiasts disappointed by human-caused hoaxes in the past.

Here is some really awesome slow-motion footage of a sprite discharge from LiveScience.com. In addition, here is a neat Youtube video…

And another good one of some video footage of sprites caught from the ground…

These are some pretty amazing discoveries concerning electricity & lightning in our atmosphere, and I think they are extremely cool! However, they aren’t alien. It is worth noting again that when confronted by something you see in the sky that is unknown to you (hence the Unidentified in UFO), it is best to simply state the obvious: you don’t know what it is.

To jump immediately from the unknown straight to aliens visiting the Earth and government conspiracies to cover up The Truth is bad not only because it promotes a lack of critical thinking & healthy skepticism, but it can also lead us away from real discoveries, such as the most recent research on sprites.

Posted in aliens & UFOs | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

 
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