Thursday, November 09, 2006

Bermuda Triangle

What's so special about the Bermuda Triangle?

The Bermuda Triangle, also known as the Devil's Triangle, is an area of the north Atlantic Ocean where it is popularly believed a significant number of ships and aircraft have disappeared under highly unusual circumstances. It has become popular through its representation by mass media as an area of paranormal activity where the known laws of physics are violated. It has even been suggested that extraterrestrial beings are responsible for some of the disappearances.

Where is the Bermuda Triangle?

As its name suggests, the Bermuda Triangle is approximately triangular in shape, with three corners roughly defined by Bermuda, Puerto Rico, and Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Its size is nearly half a million square miles. The Triangle marks a corridor of the north Atlantic stretching northward from the West Indies along the North American seaboard as far as the Carolinas. The Gulf Stream, an area of volatile weather, also passes through the Triangle as it leaves the West Indies.

How did the Bermuda Triangle receive its spooky connotations?

The area achieved its current fame largely through the efforts of Charles Berlitz in his 1974 book The Bermuda Triangle and its subsequent film adaptation. The book recounts a long series of mysterious disappearances of ships and aircraft, in particular the December 1945 loss of five U.S. Navy Avenger torpedo bombers in the infamous Flight 19 incident. The book was a bestseller and included several theories about the cause of the disappearances, including accidents due to high traffic volumes; natural storms; "temporal holes"; the lost empire of Atlantis; transportation by extraterrestrial technology; and other natural or supernatural causes.

What about Flight 19's disappearance in the Bermuda Triangle?

One of the best known, and probably the most famous Bermuda Triangle incidents concerns the loss of Flight 19, a squadron of five U.S. Navy TBM Avenger torpedo bombers on a training flight out of Fort Lauderdale, Florida on December 5, 1945. According to Berlitz, the flight consisted of expert naval aviators who, after reporting a number of odd visual effects, simply disappeared. However, a more likely scenario indicate that the flight commander became confused and disoriented, ultimately leading his flight out to sea where they ran out of gas and ditched in stormy night time waters. And, although his student-pilots believed he was mistaken as to their location, he was the Flight Leader, and he was in command. By the time he took one of the trainee pilots advice to fly west, they were too far out to ever make landfall.

Is the Bermuda Triangle really a dangerous place?

The marine insurer Lloyd's of London has determined the "triangle" to be no more dangerous than any other area of ocean, and does not charge unusual rates for passage through the region. Coast Guard records confirm their conclusion. In fact, the number of supposed disappearances is relatively insignificant considering the number of ships and aircraft which pass through on a regular basis. Additionally, in an area frequented by tropical storms, the number of disappearances that occur are mostly neither disproportionate, unlikely, nor mysterious.

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