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Expert Explains Science Behind 'Floating Boats'

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Expert Explains Science Behind 'Floating Boats'

An expert has explained the science behind the bizarre phenomenon which makes it seem as though boats are floating above the water.

A recent snap taken in Falmouth, Cornwall appears to show a ship hovering above the water, but it's actually the result of a certain set of weather conditions.

The unusual optical illusion is known as Fata Morgana, and is created when the sun heats the atmosphere above the land or sea, which results in a gradient of temperatures.

Credit: Apex/David Morris
Credit: Apex/David Morris

BBC meteorologist David Braine explained: "Superior mirages occur because of the weather condition known as a temperature inversion, where cold air lies close to the sea with warmer air above it.

"Since cold air is denser than warm air, it bends light towards the eyes of someone standing on the ground or on the coast, changing how a distant object appears.

"Superior mirages can produce a few different types of images - here a distant ship appears to float high above its actual position, but sometimes an object below the horizon can become visible."

Meanwhile, another optical illusion left one woman in Chicago baffled, as she filmed a plane seemingly motionless in the sky.



Amber Baker shot the video from the window of another plane as it passed by the strange scene.

Below the apparently unmoving plane, the skyscrapers of Chicago stand tall beneath a clouded sunset with the airliner sitting in the sky not so far above.

In the video, Baker says: "Ok guys, tell me I am not tripping right now.


"The plane is not moving. It's so crazy. It's so strange.

"What is happening?"

Baker went on to say she was especially surprised because one of her pals had sent her a video of a plane in a similar situation - and now she was seeing it herself.

But not everyone was so confused by the clip - one person commented on her post to say: "You're tripping.


"The jetliner is simply moving at the same speed as your jetliner. Jetliner passenger vertigo."

While another added: "It's physics. It's just plain old physics."

A third person joked: "It's a glitch in the matrix or from a different reality crossing into ours."

Featured Image Credit: Apex/David Morris

Topics: Science, Interesting, Weird, UK

Claire Reid
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