Calculating the Spiral
The magnificent spirals that illuminated the early morning Norwegian skies lasted only a few minutes, but their appearance continues to captivate the minds of people worldwide. The internet is inundated with pictures and eyewitness video accounts of the event. The Russian Ministry of Defense immediately claimed no mystery behind the December 9, 2009 phenomenon, citing a failed launching of submarine ballistic missiles as the cause. Despite this assertion, global skepticism reigns and theories run rampant.
Arash Amini is an undergraduate Physics major at the University of Illinois-Chicago. His mathematics paper, “On the Norway Spirals and Their Physically Impossible 'Ripple' Propagation” serves to debunk the assertion made by the Russian Ministry of Defense. Amini uses time lapsed photography, video footage, and basic trigonometry to attempt to prove the Norway Spiral could not have been caused by a failed submarine launched missile.
The time lapsed photograph shows the two spirals as they appeared above the mountains of Skjervoy, Norway. The perfectly formed ripples indicate the spirals must have stemmed from a force with regular frequency. Video footage shows the ripples moving away from the center of the spiral, the rotation count per second yields the frequency of the ripples. Utilizing Google Earth, the location of the mountain in relation to Tromso and the center of the White Sea is found and shows comparable mathematical symmetry of the time lapsed photograph.
Armed with these observations Amini explains the formulaic improbability of the missile claim. The mathematics of the paper are impressive but only time may reveal the secrets of the spirals, if they were ever meant to be revealed.
Image: "Spiral" by ciokkolata_farabutto_neve r_loved_berlusconi on Flickr courtesy of Creative Commons Licensing.
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