Is this proof of some kind of mystical power at the site of a Mayan ruin? Or is it just a photographic glitch?
This incredible scene was captured by Hector Siliezar when he visited the ancient Mayan city of Chichen Itza, Mexico, in 2009 with his wife and kids. While he was on the site in front of a temple used to worship the Mayan god Kukulkan, a thunderstorm erupted in the distance.
Seeing an opportunity for a very special photograph, Siliezar took a series of photos in the hope of capturing a bolt of lighting behind the pyramid. He succeeded, with dramatic results.
Not only did he catch a lightning strike, he appeared to catch something quite unexpected. As if Mayan ghosts had been inspired by Las Vegas’ Luxor Casino, it appeared the temple was emanating a shaft of light from its apex to the heavens!
As most of our readers know, skepticism is high on Discovery News’ list of priorities, and this photograph has become a lesson in logic with a dash of Occam’s Razor.
Naturally, some people will see this as a “signal” from some kind of deity warning us that Dec. 21, 2012 will be a bad day for mankind.
As I’ve argued countless times, the 2012 doomsday phenomenon is based purely on greed; the greed of individuals with a book (or website advertising) to sell and business-savvy film directors (I’m looking at you Emmerich).
The Mayan people alive today, or their ancestors who created the “Long Count” calendar, never predicted the end of the world in 2012. In fact, you will find the Mayan culture in a state of celebration in Central America at the end of this year — think more parties and welcoming a “new age,” and less doom and gloom. The 2012 doomsday phenomenon is a “marketing fallacy.”
Many people irrationally assume that just because the “end of the calendar is nigh,” some supernatural force will make all the doomsday prophecies come true, and so, when a photograph such as this surfaces, it rationalizes their fear.
As far as I can tell from the literature available, the photograph is genuine, but there is a perfectly logical reason for the bright shaft of light appearing from the top of the temple.
Many UFO hoaxes and bizarre shapes spotted in space photos often stem from photographic aberrations, and space scientists are all too aware of the anomalies that can pop up.
Apparently, Siliezar took three images in quick succession with his iPhone in the hope of capturing a lightning bolt. And according to Jonathon Hill, of the Mars Space Flight Facility at Arizona State University, it is no coincidence that the one photo with the lightning bolt is also accompanied by the strange shaft of light.
“The intensity of the lightning flash likely caused the camera’s CCD sensor to behave in an unusual way, either causing an entire column of pixels to offset their values or causing an internal reflection (off the) camera lens that was recorded by the sensor,” Hill told Life’s Little Mysteries.
CCD sensor misfiring is not an uncommon occurrence, but this artifact has come in the shape of a shaft, giving the optical illusion it’s coming from the top of the temple. For artistic purposes, it makes for a very fortunate and satisfying coincidence.
Siliezar says that he didn’t see any shaft of light on the day of the photograph, which suggests to me that either the light was too dim to be seen by the human eye, or it appeared instantaneously when the lightning bolt flashed. As the “shaft” seems pretty bright, I’m thinking it’s the latter.
OK, so it appears the photo is genuine, and doesn’t appear to be a hoax. If it was a hoax, I suspect Siliezar would be telling a very different story. So that leaves the high probability that the “shaft of light” is in fact an artifact caused by the flash of lightning.
But, of course, I can’t prove that this is correct with the information I have. It is just the most likely explanation.
I could get all excited, ignore logic and interpret this photograph as a “sign from god(s)” — as some news outlets are suggesting — but there is no evidence that this could be true. Of course, I’m not discounting it either. For all I know, next year an archaeological dig may uncover the ghost of a long-lost Mayan deity complaining that he or she has been stuck down a deep shaft for the last 2,000 years… but this would be a very unlikely explanation for the shaft of light.
The “deity explanation” would require us to change the physical laws of the universe to allow for the existence of an omnipotent power who fires light into the air. The “photographic artifact explanation” is a very common problem for photographic equipment, let alone a tiny camera embedded in the back of a smartphone.
(I regularly leave a thumbprint on the camera of my iPhone, resulting in photographs of smudged halos around my friends’ heads — are they also deities? They might be, but I’m thinking it’s more likely the sticky thumbprint.)
So I think it’s safe to say (to a very, very high degree of certainty): that’s no god, it’s a glitch.
Source: Life’s Little Mysteries
Photo credit: Hector Siliezar/Life’s Little Mysteries