Mysterious pillars of fire

When, during Columbus’s first voyage, the crew of his ship got sick of sailing into the unknown and she was ready to oust the captain, Columbus announced that the land is very close and that the sailor who first sees her will have a decent life pension when he returns home. At night, he was awakened by a watchman who saw in the sea some kind of glow. Columbus ordered to keep the course directly on him until the glow took the form of a high tongue of a burning candle or torch. Deciding that he saw a fire lit on the shore, Columbus informed the team of the approaching of the long-awaited shore. The debate about what Columbus saw is still going on, but experts in atmospheric electricity claim that it was quite rare and very eerie near the phenomenon of a moving light pole. In any case, it was first recorded in the Spanish marine chronicle of the 16th century. Just half a century after the Columbus voyage, the Spanish ship San Sebastian, loaded with prey from the shores of the newly discovered continent, was only 200 miles from its home coast. In such a situation, the sailors looked more forward than back, and the crew almost missed the appearance of a “ghost of fire”, a running light pole, behind the stern. Despite the desperate maneuvers, the “pole” was rapidly catching up with the ship. Then the captain ordered to lower all the sails (apparently, so that they would not be burned by the running fire), and the crew – to pray hard. The prayer seemed to have worked – the fiery “devil” rushed near the ship and soon fled beyond the horizon. However, the light pole does not mind the parrot and modern sailors. In 1977, in the Polish magazine “Przekruj” appeared publication of the famous writer and sailor Gabrilovich. In it he told about a strange case with the Polish ship “Kopalnia Wałbrzych”, which took place in 1970. And almost in the same area – between the Spanish port of Valencia and the island of Mallorca. The ship went quietly peacefully on its business, when suddenly a greedy object in the form of a vertical pillar of light chased after it. When the collision seemed almost inevitable, the object responded to five desperate light and sound signals from the Polish ship with the same five flashes, accompanied by “incredibly strange sounds – as if five huge drops of oil were crashing against a concrete slab”, then changed course and melted in the darkness. It should be noted that with much more frequency “fire poles” are observed on land and even underground. In a letter published in his time in “Technique – Youth”, miner A. Varavin from the town of Ore Kustanay region recalls the case he observed in 1942 at a copper mine in the town of Dzhezkazgan. “Going down into the mine and stepping away a little from the trunk, I looked back and suddenly saw that from the ceiling to the floor slowly descends a bright purple beam about 15 millimeters thick and about a meter long. A second beam of this kind followed at a distance of 10 centimetres. They passed almost next to me and deepened into the earth’s thickness. I went back to the shaft and asked the shaft man if he had seen the rays. He confirmed what he had seen. Honestly, I was scared for some reason.” In 1979, a similar phenomenon was observed at Uracha in the Cold Cave by Candidate of Geological and Mineralogical Sciences Danilov with two satellites. “Suddenly, right before our eyes in the ceiling and across the floor of the cave appeared something that resembled growing towards each other stalactite and stalagmite, but formed as if frozen rays of light. Although the word “frozen” is not quite appropriate here; the “rays” quickly sought to meet each other until they met (with a sharp increase in brightness for one or two seconds) and formed a single, luminous as a blue neon tube, the beam with a very clear outline of the outer boundary. Having stood still for some time (ten seconds), the beam began to move slowly, moving away from us to the far corner of the cave. At the same time, its brightness practically did not change. When, according to our estimates, the beam should have already reached the wall of the cave opposite to us, it suddenly went out as if someone turned it off. There was a sharp snap…” The Chinese say it’s better to see once than to hear or read a hundred times. An eyewitness A. Larionov made a unique photo of a light pole, by profession – a photo reporter. Unlike many of his colleagues, he not only did not forget to charge the camera, but even managed to remove the lid from the lens. “On July 28, 1981 in the evening we set up our tent on the bank of the Medveditsa River in the Kalinin region. The weather was stuffy and windless, anticipating a thunderstorm. In the distance from the horizon there were clouds, occasionally there were blinkers, but the sky above us was clear. It was dark. Unexpectedly, we saw a white shimmering glow in the western part of the sky at an angle height of about 45°. It was about 30° wide in the sky. It lasted 3-5 minutes, then the glow disappeared. I hid in a tent just in case and a few minutes later I found out that everything was lit up. When I got up, I saw in the same place a dazzling beam coming out of the sky. It was visually perceived as a solid substance or a lamp of daylight, placed vertically. The light pole reached the fog rising above the water and dispersed in these vapors. The image I took clearly shows a bright glare in the water. The beam was observed for about a minute and a half, after which it took a horizontal position and disappeared with great speed in the north direction, light phenomena had just begun, we heard a strange squeak at the hearing limit (about 14-15 kilohertz). It continued throughout the observation and stopped a few seconds after the light pole disappeared. At the end of the phenomenon, all the objects we touched were heavily electrified. After a few seconds, a weak glow appeared in the water where the light pole was shining. One of the largest experts in the field of atmospheric electricity, Professor I. M. Imianitov believed that the light pole is a very rare stage of the intermediate state between linear and ball lightning, a kind of long-lived smoldering discharge. An additional condition for its existence must be a strong ionization of air, for example, between a charged cloud and a water surface. The cloud moves at a much faster speed than a sailing or even a modern ship, and the light pole that moves with it will always catch up with and disperse it. Underground, strong electric fields and even real underground thunderstorms (according to the hypothesis of Tomsk Professor A.A. Vorobiev) can also lead to local ionization and the appearance of smoldering discharge.

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