Legends say that Min Min Lights are the souls of the dead who have somehow been delayed on Earth
Australian scientist Jack Pettigrew says he has not only solved the mystery known as the Min Min Lights, but also managed to reproduce the strange luminescence in his experiments. In the past, Min Min Lights frightened and disturbed locals and travelers in West Queensland. The lights could be regularly seen in a desert area called Channel Country. Usually, the lights are spherical in form. If the lights are neared, they move along with the approacher and even sometimes change color.
Legends say that Min Min Lights are the souls of the dead people who have somehow been delayed on Earth. The lights have also been alleged to be UFOs or extraterrestrials themselves. The mysterious lights have been compared with ball lighting, but the comparison is not precise, as the lights are less hostile toward people than ball lighting.
Other hypotheses explain the mysterious lights by recourse to glowing radioactive fallout or triboluminescence, gas that glows as a result of friction between crystalline rocks in fissures. Rather fantastic explanations of the phenomenon have sometimes appeared: People have said that the lights were just hares with fireflies stuck in their fur. In a word, the fantasies were endless.
However, all the above-mentioned hypotheses lacked accuracy and clarity; and nobody has managed to reproduce the Min Min Lights in practice.
Pettigrew has himself observed the lights on two occasions. The first time, the scientist thought the glowing light was Venus; however, its behavior light refuted the supposition. It seemed as if the Min Min Lights were dancing over the horizon, then stood motionless and, finally, disappeared. The second time Pettigrew saw the Min Min Lights was while driving a car with colleagues from the University of Queensland. At first, they thought the lights were a cat's eyes, but, when their headlights were off, the men saw that the lights were not the eyes of a cat, but still remained in the air.
As it turned out later, many kilometers from the place where the mysterious lights were observed, another car with the its lights on was driving toward Pettigrew's automobile. This became the first hint for the scientist, who started working on his own theory about the mysterious phenomenon.
The lights regularly appear in definite places, and this suggested to the scientist the idea that they could be connected with the specific character of the landscape. Then, Pettigrew studied many instances in which Min Min Lights had been observed and derived another regularity: Dependence upon weather conditions.
The scientist compared the obtained data and decided to hold an experiment to reproduce the Min Min Lights. Pettigrew decided to hold the experiment on a hot day that was to be followed with a cold windless day. He drove 10 kilometers away from observers who were participating in the experiment. He chose a desert route with a slight hilly slope. Min Min Lights dancing over the horizon were seen by six observers. Pettigrew arrived at the conclusion that car headlight together with an atmospheric "tunnel effect" were the cause of the mysterious lights.
“Tunnel effect” means that the light does not disperse and travels through a layer of cold air between the ground and a layer of warmer air. The rays of light curve as a result of an anomalous refraction-index distribution. One more mystery of nature was successfully solved: It turned out that Min Min Lights are just an optical illusion, some kind of fata morgana.
Such atmospherically produced optical illusions can be upper, lower and lateral. The upper kind occurs because of an inversion distribution of air temperature above cold ground. The lower optical illusion can be observed when the temperature suddenly drops over a superheated flat surface. One can see such optical illusions on superheated city roads in the summer, when it may seem that the asphalt is wet. In fact, in such cases, we are seeing an optical illusion caused by the sky, which makes the road appear so unusual. Lateral optical illusions can be seen in rocky areas. In the case of the Min Min Lights, we are talking about the lower variety of optical illusion.
Australia's Min Min Lights are not unique. In the U.S. state of Missouri, there is a "ghost-light road" where mysterious lights often chase travelers. Locals describe the lights as glowing yellow-orange and about the size of a football.
In western Texas, there are the so-called “Marfa's mystery lights.” According to witnesses, the lights can change color, and they disappear as soon as someone attempts to approach them. In the 1960s, Texas citizens experienced "a lights fever" — people tried to chase down the lights on horses and in cars, and special expeditions were even organized for this purpose. Some participants in this campaign said that the light re-appeared when people drove their cars away from and looked back.
An explanation resembling atmospheric illusions of the lower optical illusion sort was given in the book “The Marfa Lights, A Viewer's Guide” by Dennis Stacy. The author wrote that the lights are just an optical illusion created by car headlights going up a hill. However, most skeptical people think that the "tunnel effect" is not a good explanation for all instances of the mysterious Texas lights.
In Great Britain, the will-o'-the-wisp was for the first time described in the times of Shakespeare. People said that the lights lured men into morasses in order to kill them. The phenomenon has been explained by saying that the glow may be caused by the luminescence of methane bursting from the swamp.
The structure and behavior of the above-mentioned mysterious lights are all very different, which is why the explanation of the Min Min Lights given by Jack Pettigrew may not be applicable in the case of other sorts of lights. To all appearances, all of them have an individual nature, which has not yet been thoroughly studied by scientists.