Friday, August 24, 2012

Cosmic Chaos (Addendum): "After Consulting With The Academy, I believe That We've Figured This Fafrotsky Stuff Out".

It's a bit of a coincidence, but just as the Sandersonian Fafrotsky [Oddball RPGreg Meteorites] series was wrapping up, along came two reports of weirdness out of the skies of England [which I feel is the Universe's Focal Point for dropping bizarre "rains", anyway]. That "inspires" me to say something about this stuff that doubtless others have said persuasively before, but I haven't read much about it. This "brilliant insight" is that as far as I can tell, we are completely BS-ing about Fafrotskies when we talk about how they occur with the possible exceptions of icefalls, "dirty" rains, and odd meteoric stones. In almost every other type of Fortean Fall I come away from the "how did this happen?" remarks utterly unconvinced.

Alot of you will know of the two fairly recent British "falls" that I'm speaking of. The top photo is of the small hard yellow spheres which came pelting down during a rainstorm in Leicester just a few days ago. The wife said that the spheres seemed almost directed at her at times.

The bottom three photos are of the "jellylike" [broken] blue spheres which rained down during a hailstorm in Dorset in January. In both instances, the offending spheroids rained into people's gardens where they were picked up immediately after.

So what's my beef? In the Leicester case the old explanation that the spheres were picked up by high winds, probably a vortex of some kind, and carried along some distance until dropped, was dusted off. Yep, said everyone, that sounds pretty good to me. It never has to me.

In the Dorset case, the explanation was that this was some well-known floral display product called sodium polyacrylate crystals and that these had just swollen with the rain/hail/snow. Nevermind that the owner of the place knew of no such crystals, nor how someone else would have gone into the garden to put them there for reasons unknown. Oh, maybe a vortex came and scooped them up from somewhere.

And this gets to the core of my beef. These "explanations" are never any explanation at all --- and you can go right back across the decades hearing the same kind of "I don't want to think about this too much" crap.

This, or something quite like it, is supposedly our villain. Good old "dust devils". Little atmospheric vortices which might pop up anywhere anytime and pick up things to fly away to uncharted territories and surprised gardeners. I have a scientific question which is almost irrelevant but would be nice to know: what amount of stuff can these little vortices even manage? [if we're talking big vortices of the tornado type, I'd think that the weathermen near the gardeners would have noticed]. Someone should have a graph somewhere detailing what sort of lifting force such things have and what sort of "efforts" are really outside the reasonable parameters for weight [I'm thinking of massive ice or loads of fish].

But as I say, that piece of data is nearly irrelevant anyway to what's happening here.

I'll admit that atmospheric vortices are probably forming sneakily and far more often than we experience them. And I'll even give the quick-shutdown thinkers the Blue Spheres case above that it could have been someone, for no understandable reason, throwing flower display crystals over some fellow's hedge in winter --- weird but just possible. But I'm drawing the line on the yellow spheres and several hundred other falls of like nature.

And it's a simple why... Those yellow spheres were all the same thing. When some of the water animal falls [fish; frogs; et al] occurred, they were all the same thing. When tropical insects "rained" down in the Alps, they were not tropical insects and plants and dirt and stones and ..., they were all the same thing.

To get me to buy into the atmospheric vortex picked these objects up, you must explain to me:

1). how did the vortex find just a pile of just this category of thing to pick up, or
2). if it picked up a whole mess of mixed things, how did it "sort them out" while cruising over to the local gardener?

Think about that for a moment....

NOTHING does such a seeking or a sorting of macroscopic objects except something intelligent at, at least, a fairly high intelligence level [bowerbirds are about the lowest level of intelligence in the bio-kingdom which do a decent job of macroscopic sorting].

Saying that the explanation is #1 and it happened by accident that the vortex found a "pure source" of something REALLY stretches my hypothesis-building. Those vortices have been finding a stunning amount of pure sources of just-one-thing for a long time. How lucky are they?

And the vortex in its simple unintelligent way doing the physical equivalent of "I dropped into the Toys-R-Us dumpster, picked up all the mixed toys, and gradually sorted them out in flight from London to Leicester till I had purely yellow spheres to drop on that poor pelted couple", is just Out Proctor so far that it's beyond even that reality.

What Goes Here? Ridiculous I may well be, but it feels like The Trickster. Not the dirty rains ... not the big piece of ice [necessarily] ... not the weird stone [necessarily]. But sorted things, yes. I'm not going to the National Academy of Sciences with this, but I am going Out Proctor with it. If such sorted falls occur at all [and Fort and others say "yes" in quantity], then dummo unintelligence cannot do this. If not simple physics, then WHO's left?



  1. I remember last year we had a freak fall of apples and I was going to link the story as an example of your argument. But then, as I read the article something else stood out as curious.

    Our apple fall occurred in late December when the very latest apple season comes in November. This makes the abrupt appearance of so many out-of-season flying fruit as novel as the exotic mini-tornado that was suspected as the culprit.

    Prof, you have a troublesome capacity to make me ponder these small curiosities. Now, reading that article, I'm wondering where the apples came from, why nobody mentioned a gusty wind and how nobody saw these apples presumably spinning in the air before touchdown? Furthermore, why no twigs and branches or even leaves?

    1. I'm obviously with you all the way Out Proctor on things like the massive apple fall. Apples are also so big that the vortex must have been pretty stout, and the average weight of an apple is so significant that other objects usually local to apples should have been carried in their midst. If a vortex had dropped into some poor guy's orchard and stolen his crop, then one would expect that it stole some of his branches, leaves, soil, stones, and whatever else was opportunistically lying around.

      If it instead visited the local farmers' market [all of this still ignoring the wrong time of year awkwardness] and scooped up just the producers' apples you'd think that the farmer[s] would have reported the "wind theft" and we'd be reading about that mystery with greater avidity than the fall. This sort of "explanation" is just nonsense. The sociological question is: how do we even say such things and just "walk away"?

      We're afraid. We're either afraid of being a fool if we say anything else [ news bulletin: we're all regularly fooled; it's part of the human condition. Deal with it.], or we're afraid of what the real answer might portend.

    2. Hello Professor:
      Trying to contact you for a possible media interview - Could you please contact me at:

    3. Thank you for the invitation, but this isn't possible. I am leaving for Wheeling WV in two days and have no convenient phone [nor schedule] when I am there helping care for my Mom. If this is about the book, please contact Robert Powell instead.

  2. Professor, I share your sense of mystery, and am not too impressed with the dust devil theory either. However, credit where it's due, I believe the theory isn't contradicted by the fact that these falls are usually reported to be of one specific thing rather than a hodge podge of debris. If a random collection of stuff was picked up by a rising vortex of air and carried up into the sky I would not be surprised if gravity and wind resistance were to concentrate objects of the same density, and same shape/size all into one homogenous grouping to be returned to earth at one spot to baffle us all.

    However, if sorted collections along the lines I've just postulated are falling back to earth then for every fall of apples, for example, we might expect separate falls of twigs, leaves, dust etc., at different times and locations nearby which I'm not aware has ever been reported. So I guess the mystery remains intact after all.

    By the way, I've just stumbled on this site, and it's great to find a platform like this discussing these issues.

  3. This could have legs.

    I set out to check that storms were present prior to falls because I'm happier with the conventional answers (believe it or not). The first example I was able to check was a well-known double fall of fish in Lajamanu of the Northern Territories that occurred on the 25th and 26th of February 2010. The small town is hundreds of miles from the nearest river. Lo and behold the news stories include experts blaming storms and why not? Simply typing Lajamanu into google shows these stories at a high rank.

    The problem here is the last good storm in the area (Australian Government Bureau of Meteorology; February 2010) was over Alice Springs on the afternoon of the 23rd. Lajamanu is roughly 380 miles away from Alice Springs which raises the question of *where* these fish might have been for between 48 and 72 hours and 380 miles? Not only that, the residents claimed some of the fish were alive.

    We could invoke the imps of terminal velocity and launch these fish somewhere up into the tropopause I suppose.

  4. Yeh, guys, I'm with you on trying hard to proceed along the atmospheric density sorting explanation. In my more mundane "contributions to society" I was chairman of the Kalamazoo County Solid Waste Committee for about a decade. During that time we established [against all "economic" odds] a very good recycling program. The relevance is: one of the things that the waste companies were trying at the time was what they called "Air Classification". This was a method of putting semi-sorted wastes [like metals and plastics] into a powerful blower chamber and the things would separate by a combination of mostly density but also surface area [for "sailing" purposes]. So I instinctively think of this when I hear of sorted falls. If falls were rare --- I mean REALLY rare --- I could "just" get into a comfort zone imagining an astounding good luck of wind gobbling up small yellow plastic spheres along with a large array of other things somewhere where I can't imagine, and over a long amazingly sustained trip through a chaotic atmosphere keeping such mind-boggling vortex stability that it never lost coherence while nevertheless dumping every other "unwanted" item out. But ... GROAN... Man that's pushing me.

  5. Personally I'm Given to wonder whether these are experiments in interdimensional doorway opening. As far as I'm aware there is no appearance of any pre-warning of these falls.
    The objects are not seen to travel through the air but suddenly appear out of nowhere.
    As you mention they are all at the same type, in some cases living material, although there have been cases of raw meat, and blood falling (a failed experiment perhaps). Now generally, humans being the methodical we are, as we work to conduct such an experiment we would send objects through the same type.
    In this case, fruit out of season would make sense.
    Or perhaps these are just the ramblings of someone trying to make sense of an insane world.

    1. Well, a good thought as far as I am concerned. I have one modification that I'd offer into this Out Proctor theory: my files are, somewhat at least, rich in incidents which look exactly like they could be a not-ready-for-prime-time interspatial "opening" experiment. Some sudden appearance occurs, a space might suddenly be "different" for a while, or some meaningless seeming action will take place, etc. On the other hand, many of the Fafrotskies are too mundane Earth-manufacture in character for me to comfortably see them the same way. They are more "impish" or poltergeisty in feel. My working hypothesis, whacky as it may be, is that we have trickster-like parallel-reality intrusions, and we have high technology "outer space" intrusions, and they are two very different things. My Meta-theory is that all these physical-feeling anomalies are in two schools: ETI and Faerie-along-side. My files can be broken down into those two mountains of incidences, plus a third pile of more "purely" Spiritworld encounters [apparitional things; NDEs; exorcisms; and possibly Trance-control mediumship and Ouija]. "Personal parapsi" abilities are a fourth thing [which could include Dowsing along with the traditional clairvoyance, telepathy, and PK]. But to your post: some Fafrotskies could be sloppy or incomplete or "early-on" spatial openings --- Very early UFOlogy used to speculate regularly on them being simple "Specimen Dumps" from high overhead craft.

  6. This is a most fascinating subject. Falls of all kinds, especially the living variety is just such an overly weird phenomenon and I have heard no real plausible explanation that fits every occurance. I might be able to shed a light on the yellow spheres though. To me that seems like an obvious case of kids harassing an old woman with soft-air guns. There are machine-gun version of those that fire at an extraordinary rate and on a windy day the pellets might even carry quite far if shot in the air Afghan wedding-style. Poor Dylis feeling that the spheres were directed at her gives added fuel to the ambush theory.
    I wouldn't be suprised if I was missing some important facts about this case though. Anyhow, thank you for a very sane and interesting blog on these subjects. A rare find!

  7. Could be. This is the sort of thing which could have been cleared up if anyone had really cared to --- i.e. the objects could have been compared to exactly those toy projectiles. It's really a shame that no one takes any of these things seriously enough to do actual field investigations, like used to happen with UFO cases and the occasional poltergeist. Now all we have are TV shows with goofy entertainers tracking the mysteries with over-the-top stupidity and camp.

  8. Perhaps there are different causes for different cases too. I notice there never seems to be an interview of the witness or place really; there are references to it all, in a general way, like a newspaper article, but I don't see anyone following up on any of it. I certainly would if it was a local case. Older cases used to describe fish as being icy and frozen as if having been in the upper atmosphere; there have been many cases of the gelatinous stuff being found, so that is suggestive in its own way. There was a case of gelato falling on a town in the north west I think and the stuff made people sick with flu symptoms; that was on tv with interviews. We need to hear more from the yellow pellet lady detail wise. Who lives in the neighborhood? Any seen out playing with pellet guns? Any sold in the area? But I agree with you and your speculations about air sorting of objects. Or could stuff fall or be thrown out of airplanes or as once thought, the disjecta membra from flying saucers? Well, my space aliens just pick up the samples they need, not large lots that they need to throw away later. What a great mystery! Thanks for work putting all this out for us to examine.