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What is the Bermuda Triangle? What happens there?

The so-called Bermuda Triangle is an area of the Atlantic Ocean wherein it is claimed a number of disappearances of aircraft and ships have occurred, blamed on supernatural or paranormal events or extraterrestrial beings. A little investigation reveals that the "experts" discussing the Bermuda Triangle don't even agree on the geographic boundaries of the zone. Some allow it to extend from the Gulf of Mexico almost to Europe, while others limit it to a zone from Bermuda southwest to Florida's tip and south to Puerto Rico, a much smaller area. Given this lack of clarity, one doesn't know which disappearances to assign to the Triangle and which are "normal" disappearances. It is also disturbing that a study of the documentation of the events reported shows that spurious or inaccurately reported events are included in the "proof", as well as reports embellished by later authors.

Studies have also revealed unsettling statistics regarding the reality of the Bermuda Triangle. If you count the number of disappearances of aircraft over an area of the continental United States equal to the area of the Bermuda triangle, more aircraft disappear and are never found over land than have disappeared over the Triangle. (Obviously, ship disappearances aren't going to occur in the middle of a continent.) Careful counts of disappearances in the Triangle and in other areas of the world's oceans show similar rates. These observations suggest that accidents happen both over land and over the seas and that "special" causes are not necessary for their explanation.

The Bermuda Triangle is an area that has severe weather, both small supercell thunderstorms and regional tropical storms and hurricanes. It is no surprise that weather and occasional rogue waves will lead to disappearances of aircraft and ocean vessels in the Triangle and elsewhere on Earth's oceans.

The Bermuda Triangle is no more special than any similar area on Earth.

Thank you for the opportunity to discuss the Bermuda Triangle.

Stephen Edberg
Astronomer
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
California Institute of Technology

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A reversal in the rotation of Earth is impossible. There are slow movements of the continents (for example Antarctica was near the equator hundreds of millions of years ago), but that is irrelevant to claims of reversal of the rotational poles. However, many of the disaster websites pull a bait-and-shift to fool people. They claim a relationship between the rotation and the magnetic polarity of Earth, which does change irregularly, with a magnetic reversal taking place every 400,000 years on average. As far as we know, such a magnetic reversal doesn't cause any harm to life on Earth. A magnetic reversal is very unlikely to happen in the next few millennia, anyway.

Scientists date the Earth to be about 4.5 billion years old.

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Water on Earth is very abundant -- 70% of the surface of the Earth is covered in oceans.

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We have seasons on Earth due to the tilt of Earth's axis of rotation.

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The tilt of Earth's axis causes each hemisphere to experience opposite seasons at the same time of year. It all depends on which hemisphere is tilted towards or away from the sun.

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The Earth's atmosphere is made up of 78 percent nitrogen, 21 percent oxygen and 1 percent other ingredients.

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Yes. Did you know that interactions between the solar wind and the Earth's magnetic field cause the northern and southern lights?

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Yes. The Earth is the only planet known to have life.

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Earth means "the ground." This name, which comes from an English/German word, has been used to describe our planet for at least 1,000 years.

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Last Updated: 28 Apr 2014