1. PF Insights is off to a great start! Fresh and interesting articles on all things science and math. Here: PF Insights

The Paulding Light Mystery

  1. Ivan Seeking

    Ivan Seeking 12,521
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    http://www.wluctv6.com/news/news_story.aspx?id=185121
    Video
    http://www.wluctv6.com/news/video.aspx?id=185121

    They say that these lights have been observed for 40 years.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. dlgoff

    dlgoff 3,079
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member
    2014 Award

    I remember hearing about this years ago. Hasn't anyone tried to move toward the light to see if it remains?
     
  4. We need thousands of people to cover the area. If it appears someone will be close.
     
  5. +1 imo

    but that seems relatively easy to do... which makes me think its a well-organized scam :S
     
  6. Ivan Seeking

    Ivan Seeking 12,521
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Thanks CEL. I didn't know that the Marfa lights had been definitively explained.

    http://skeptoid.com/episodes/4038

    Thanks to the good ole SPS.
     
  7. I have a hard to believe it is headlights. There are so many cars in so many conditions that you would think these lights would appear everywhere in the world considering the many highways and many unique conditions. North Michigan can't be one of the only places where car headlights are lined up right. Something more is playing its part if it is car headlights.
     
  8. Ivan Seeking

    Ivan Seeking 12,521
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    It looks an aweful lot like headlights and tailights to me.
    http://www.pauldinglight.com/clip.html

    I would guess that we are looking a highway cresting a hill. The bright white lights first appear as a car approaching the observers crests the hill from the other side. At points we can also see taillights heading away from us and going up the hill [on the right side of the road]. We get some interesting optical effects that make it seem more mysterious.

    I have seen similar optical effects with flashlights in the fog.
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2008
  9. To be lined is not enough. The atmospheric conditions must be such that the Fata Morgana phenomenon is present. That is why the lights are visible only in certain nights.
     
  10. I live relatively close to Paulding, MI and am planning a trip to go see the light. I'm guessing that none of you have been to the Upper Peninsula (UP). It is sparsely populated, compared to the Lower part of the state. In my opinion there is no way that it can be headlights. I have been in the area once before and I'm not sure I would even call Paulding a town. The only thing there was a bar, which would constitute a town in the UP. There are very few roads and the nearest "real" towns are at least 10 miles in either direction. The site is really in the middle of nowhere. I will see if I can wrangle up a video camera and I will try to tape the event.

    By the way. The people I've talked to who have been there and have seen the light say it disappears if someone tries to walk towards it.
     
  11. Ivan Seeking

    Ivan Seeking 12,521
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    I spent Christmas in Iron Mountain one year. My sister-in-law used to live there.

    I think you Yupers are nuts!!! It gets cooooooooold back there. :biggrin:
     
  12. I too think that they are nuts, but not because of the cold. It takes a different kind of person to make it up there. Its not THAT cold up there. if you want cold you should check out International Falls, MN now that's freaking cold!
     
  13. I was just talking to someone about the paulding light. I live 40 minutes from it. So i googled it. And i see a few people are in the dark on the situation. The bar u are talking about is jarvi's bar and then there is a gas station and ice cream store before you go to bond falls. Anyways i have gone there several times and do not believe it every time i go i hear people say they see it...its head lights and tail lights on highway 45. some people say it comes right up to the gaurd rail. but never have. People go there for something to do and yeah some people drink at the end of the road and walk around. But what i want anyone who wants answers is to go to google go to maps and search paulding michigan. follow highway 45 and go south. Your going to notice a road running north/south to the west of it, Keep going south untill 45 intersects with that road. and you will see the name of the road. Old US Highway 45. zoom out you will see how it is vehicles. idk why they closed it but it is kinda a steep grade. Me personally i go there every once and a while to laugh. don't get me wrong i went there with and open mind, but after going there about 10 times its too funny. bring some friends go crack jokes on the people who will believe anything as far as that video i do believe its out of focus or having someone with highbeams on was too much for the camera to handle going from dark to bright. If your going to come up to the paulding light and waste time and money might as well go maybe an hour more north to see lake superior its way better then the light.
     
  14. ideasrule

    ideasrule 2,323
    Homework Helper

    Would you mind bringing a few friends over and triangulating the position of the lights? The news teams meant in that skeptoid link failed at triangulating, but if it is possible to see the lights from widely separated locations, I don't see why triangulation shouldn't be successful even if they are mirages.

    If you walk too close, yes; that makes sense. The Fata Morgana mirage is due to light going up, bending, and coming down again into the observer's eyes. As the observer moves closer, the light is forced to take a higher path; light rays on a low path travel a large horizontal distance between meeting the low-refraction-index air that bends them down again, meaning they'll overshoot the observer. Eventually, the angle required exceeds the critical angle for total internal reflection and the mirage disappears.
     
  15. sceptical?
     
  16. ideasrule

    ideasrule 2,323
    Homework Helper

    Me? Yes, but I was completely serious when I suggested the trigonometry experiment. If it's successful, and four different lines of sight to the lights converge on the same point on the same highway when plotted on a map, that's pretty conclusive evidence. If one person moves in on that point to monitor car activity there and discovers that the Paulding Light is perfectly predictable, even better.
     
  17. russ_watters

    Staff: Mentor

    If they are headlights, triangulating them will not work. They'd have to be pointed at you (so you can't get angular separation) to see the phenomena.

    The best bet would be for one person to move toward them while another stays where they can be seen as the "Paulding Lights". It is essential to coordinate, otherwise confirmation bias will cause believers to reject the car as the source and just assume the lights didn't come out that night.

    Also, for that ine video taken at dusk, it really should be possible to positively identify the source with binoculars or a telescope - or just drive down the road, it looks like the lights are seen on the road the people are viewing it from!
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2009
  18. the Paulding light is real. I have been there and seen it. You can move closer to the light as you walk to it you will not realize that it is over the top of you and you can not follow it. They belive that it has to do with the rocks that are around the area. It is creepy there. You are down a dead end road that has no light any where around it. there is nothing but woods around it behind and it is light up like you are in the city.
     
  19. DaveC426913

    DaveC426913 16,171
    Gold Member

    For the same reason you can't triangulate the end of a rainbow. Like all optical effects, the apparent location is an illusion of light rays. Triangulating is meaningless.
     
  20. ideasrule

    ideasrule 2,323
    Homework Helper

    You can't triangulate the end of a rainbow because the Sun's rays always come from a certain direction. I don't see why total internal reflection would change the direction that light rays come from.

    I understand russ's concerns about the headlights not being lined up, but in the video the lights seemed to be moving at a 20-degree angle instead of directly towards/away from the camera. If one person goes to one side of the road and the another person goes to the other side, that's a decent 40-degree separation. I don't know whether it's actually possible to get this 40-degree separation, but it would sure be interesting to try!
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share a link to this question via email, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?