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Strange white flash in dark room.

  1. Jul 8, 2009 #1

    Last night my girlfriend and I were lying in bed talking. We were facing each other and our faces were about 1m apart. The room was dark. Suddenly we both jumped because we experienced a very short lived but bright flash of white light that seemed to emanate from a point about 50cm above the bed, directly between us. I saw it as a point but she described it as a streak. There is no doubt that we both saw something, our reactions were simultaneous. The weather outside was calm, the curtains were closed, neither of us was moving, in case you're thinking nylon sparks, and anyway - the light seemed to come from thin air.

    She believes in ghosts and what-not and got a bit scared, so I'd appreciate a rational explanation if anyone can come up with one. I was thinking along the lines of a high energy particle from the sun colliding with an atom in our bedroom and producing a cascade of photons and other stuff. Is this feasible? What about spontaneous fusion or fission or something? Obviously I don't know much about physics, so thought you guys could help?

    On a related note: Sometimes when I'm in bed in the dark and the quietness is punctuated by a loud unexpected sound, I experience a bright flash as I hear the sound. Has anyone else experienced this? Presumably its some artifact of sudden neural activity or blood pressure change?

    Thanks for any replies,
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 8, 2009 #2


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    Seriously, how does a tiny, brief spark even remotely resemble a ghost? We don't know what you two saw; as of now, the phenomenon is unexplained. That's a good thing; mysteries provide an opportunity for revolutionary scientific discoveries and shouldn't be dismissed outright.

    Being afraid of the unknown is no problem, but believing in made-up stuff like ghosts is. If everyone attributed unexplained phenomena to ghosts, demons, gods, or other figments of the human imagination, we'd still be in the dark ages.
  4. Jul 8, 2009 #3
    A white ceiling is a highly reflective of light. This could have been the result of a camera flash, headlights, or a distant lightning strike that reflected off the ceiling.
  5. Jul 8, 2009 #4
    That's an opinion, not a fact. Just keep that in mind.

    If you can believe the universe is everything expanding into nothing, then I'm sure believing in ghosts isn't too far fetched.
  6. Jul 8, 2009 #5
    Only thing I hate is when people believe in ghosts without actually witnessing one first. And people who immediately say something unexplained is a ghost. The least they could do is go through possible explanations first, instead of automatically concluding it's a ghost.
    Only flash of light I've seen is when I used to roll off my bed in the middle of the night. I'd sometimes wake up on the ground, never having felt the impact. But sometimes I'd be sleeping, then see a flash of light as I hit the ground, and get that funny smell in my nose when I get hit or fall down hard.
  7. Jul 8, 2009 #6


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    We have good, replicated empirical evidence for the one. We have none for the other.
  8. Jul 8, 2009 #7


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    I'll believe in fairies, flying pigs, and talking cosmic rays the day I see evidence of one. I have no problem with changing my "opinion" of what exists and what doesn't if new evidence arrives. What I don't do is believe in what other people made up but have absolutely no justification for. If you seriously think a bright white spark looks even remotely resembles a ghost, I don't know what to say.

    Who told you I believe the universe is expanding into nothing? To quote a fellow PF'er, "your knowledge of modern cosmology is astounding." I suggest you read up on Hubble's discoveries and general relativity before making grandiose statements like "I'm sure believing in ghosts isn't too far fetched".
  9. Jul 8, 2009 #8
    "The least they could do is go through possible explanations first, instead of automatically concluding it's a ghost."

    That's what we're doing.

    Light reflecting off the ceiling does seem like a plausible solution, at the time it REALLY seemed like a distinct, isolated point of light close to my head, but it was so brief that there may have been an element of illusion.

    Still, I do wonder about freak occurrences. Perhaps a speck of air just happened to heat up to a billion degrees. Unlikely but a nice thought.
  10. Jul 8, 2009 #9
    Well what does a ghost look like?
    Yeah, not saying you did that, just saying some people do do that.
  11. Jul 8, 2009 #10


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    We have had several very credible members here report something similar. Perhaps they will see your thread and comment.
  12. Jul 8, 2009 #11
    I can agree with that.. I never claimed that I believe that a white spark resembles a ghost. My problem is people throwing out "ridiculous" ideas without giving them merit and doing their own research first. Which I am by no means saying that you haven't, because I have no idea.

    A fairy told me... Haha just kidding.. I apologize for thinking that you believe in that. And I have read up on Hubble's discoveries and general relativity. Otherwise I wouldn't belong to this forums lol But I've also done plenty of research on the "supernatural". But you won't believe it until you see for yourself. I didn't.
  13. Jul 8, 2009 #12


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    Let's keep the discussion to what might have occured please.
  14. Jul 8, 2009 #13
    Well.. The fact that you both experienced it means that most likely it's not something like sudden neural activity or an increase in blood pressure, unless you both just so happened to have that happen independently at the same time. That's very unlikely, but plausible I guess haha.

    That means it's more likely something external. Are there mirrors in the room? Anything hanging on/from the ceiling? Even if not, like aforementioned, a white ceiling is highly reflective, and since it was a dark room and a very short occurance, the distance it was from you may have been thrown off.

    Even if the curtains were closed, if there was a slight draft it may have parted them some and allowed whatever created the light from outside (if that was the case) for that split second to occur.
  15. Jul 8, 2009 #14


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    Oh, I wasn't dismissing the idea of a ghost because it sounds ridiculous, but because a nearly-instantaneous white spark looks nothing like what logic or other people's observations suggest ghosts might look like.

    I do believe in the "supernatural", if you mean events that can't yet be explained. However, because they can't yet be explained, saying they're due to ghosts, aliens, or anything else is obviously illogical.

    I absolutely love unsolved mysteries, just not far-fetched explanations of them. Can you please share your experiences with us?
  16. Jul 8, 2009 #15

    Chi Meson

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    I was just about to make all of those points.

    Could it have been as mundane as a firefly (or other flashing bug)?

    A few clarifying questions: how dark was it in the room, and how dark was it outside?
    Do you live near traffic; have you ever noticed light from car headlights coming from the driveway, or a neighbor's driveway, shining into your room; when your curtains are closed, are they completely closed, as in "light-proof"; was there any noise at all, as in a "fizz" or "pop" sound; are you certain your reactions were simultaneous, or was there a tiny lag between one or the other of you reacting to it; what was the first reaction from each of you?

    I can't tell you how impressed I am with your patience and expectation to find a logical explanation for this. Welcome aboard with the elite few: the rational people. Chalking everything you don't immediately understand down to ghosts and angels and aliens is so simple and simplistic. Knee-jerk reactions like that have held back progress for centuries.

    Be aware that it still can be an unexplained phenomenon, yet still that doesn't make it proof of anything paranormal.
  17. Jul 8, 2009 #16
    Just as a quick aside:

    Took a walk in Gettysburg about 2 or 3 years ago with a few friends on a random day through the week. We didn't want all the crowds and all of the tours and everything to be going on, cause you can take your time and enjoy it more IMO.

    We were walking through the fields and they had an awesome re-enactment going on. Looked spot-on from the era, people falling off of horse back.. It was pretty awesome.

    We ended up rounding our way back to the gift shop and I mentioned how good the re-enactment was today. He looked kinda confused and said there wasn't one scheduled for today. I didn't believe him, being a practical joker myself, so I told him so and asked to see the schedule for the re-enactments, and nothing was on that day.

    Still gives me goosebumps thinking about it today..

    Haha beat-cha to it...

    But the firefly is good.. I didn't think of that.. They tend to be more yellow-ish though.
  18. Jul 8, 2009 #17
    A possible explanation: There is a truck outside passing by with it's headlights on. You and your girl's eyes are a bit too moist, so you can't discern the origin of the light. Therefore, you two assume it is directly in front of you.

    Except for personal experiences. If his girlfriend had an unlikely experience with a ghost(for example, a white figure resembling a dead relative appearing to her and then disappearing.) it would be completely reasonable for her to believe in ghosts.

    If she, and this most likely the case, believes in ghosts from watching a little to much horror movies, then it would be a bit silly.
  19. Jul 8, 2009 #18
    I second the possibility of a firefly, It being peak mating season during the summer, they are out in force.

    Being in a dark room for any amount of time can drastically change ones perception of color, i.e. green/yellow tinted light might appear white in an instant. A moving insect would also explain your lady friend seeing a trail, while you saw a point.

    What action did you take after the event? Did you wait in the dark to see if the flash would repeat? Did you immediately turn on the lights?

    What was your guy's physical and mental conditions leading up to the event? Was the room a familiar/comfortable one? Where you listening to music at the time? Have either of you had experiences with psychoactive substances? Your previous experiences with minor synesthesia is also an interesting possibility, ask your partner if she has had similar blending of the senses before.

    How effectively did your blinds/window shade shut out light? What is in the immediate vicinity of your window/s? Any light sources from other areas inside the house? What reflective surfaces are in the room, how are they arranged? Chi had some good questions as well.

    If you are seriously interested, it seems to me that you have a fair chance in at least ruling out some possibilities.

    But remember, If ever the laws of nature seem to have been suspended or bended for your viewing pleasure, ask your self which is more likely: that the normal workings of the universe have skipped a beat, or that you are under a misinterpretation.
  20. Jul 8, 2009 #19


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    There's no "except" about it. Personal experience is NOT replicable, objective data. No matter how much you might want it to be. It is unreasonable to base a belief on nothing more than one's personal experience because human perception is not to be trusted. Ask any prosecutor.
  21. Jul 8, 2009 #20


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    A firefly is possible, but the ones I've seen always glow for much longer than a split second. I've no idea whether this is true for all firefly species, though.
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