Phenomena in Nature That Science Can’t Explain — Naga Fireballs

As it seems that the conspiracy circles are a little dormant these days, we decided to change things up with a new series we have been working on.  This series will go through naturally occurring phenomena that science has no explanation for.  We have a list of many of these, and we are going to dedicate an article to each one as time goes along.  Anyway, first up in our series is the Naga Fireballs.

The Naga fireballs are quite famous in Thailand and Laos.  The Mekong River is where the magic takes place, and one of the most interesting parts of this one is that it seems to happen at a particular time of year right on cue.  The Mekong River has some places in American pop culture, as it is the setting for many Vietnam war movies, most famously Rambo II.  Anyhow, the fireballs have been observed by many people for years, sometimes numbering upwards of a thousand in a single night.

They look just like what they are called.  They are reddish and range widely in size.  They have been reported by observers to be as large as basketballs at times, although most of them are smaller.  They shoot seemingly out of the river into the sky and travel between 100 and 200 meters before vanishing.  This is not a new phenomenon; locals say it has been going on throughout their lives, and the stories have passed through the generations as well.  No one has ever been injured by the fireballs, nor has there ever been any property damage.  They are viewed only in the later parts of October each year.  The fireballs are so consistent in their appearance toward the end of October that there are actually festivals that purposely stop their activities to observe them.

Scientists have admitted that they have no reliable explanation for the Naga fireballs, but there are a couple of theories.  One is that sediment in the river becomes fermented along with decomposing animal remains and waste cause bubbles to rise to the surface.  Theoretically, the bubbles carry so much energy that they are able to burst out of the water and travel a couple hundred meters in the sky.  This is basically the concept of the river passing gas.  While an interesting theory, most scientists agree that there is no reason to believe that the Mekong River is producing gas bubbles with things around it that any river on Earth would have as well.  Also, the problem of it only happening at one particular time of the year also invalidates this theory.

It has been suggested that the fireballs are a put up deal and that tracer fire from soldiers on the Lao side of the river are the real cause of the fireballs.  If this is so, then they have gone to great lengths to do so in October for decades.  It seems quite a lot of trouble to go to for such an elaborate hoax, and also there is the problem that gunshots have never accompanied the fireballs, as you will see in the video below.  The only other theory is the one held by locals:  a huge snake in the river, called the Naga, incidentally, spits the fireballs out when he or she comes to the surface.

Remarkably, the snake theory might be the best explanation that we have at this time for this phenomenon.