The Madeleine Brand Show |

Mystery Rocket? Or Over-hyped Illusion?

The entire world, or certainly the Twitter-connected part of it, became obsessed with what appeared to be the trail of a rocket, or missle, or something, shot by a TV helicopter at sundown yesterday.

Pentagon officials were pressed for comment and demurred.  Theories ranged from the standard - extraterrestrials - to the more menacing - Chinese nuclear-powered submarines shooting ballistic missiles off Zuma Beach.

Slowly, the scientific explanation began to emerge.  So while we can't completely rule out the theory that Neptune emerged from the sea and sent a blazing Atlas rocket toward the heavens, it's looking more and more like the explanation is quite simple.

People who know a lot about rockets and contrails and things of that nature say this is simply the vapor left behind by a jet.

What?  How could that be, you are asking yourself. 

It's all optics.  If one views a contrail under the right circumstances, say, off on the horizon as the sun is low, it can look very much like it is vertical, when in fact it's tracing a pattern consistent with a jet taking off.

But don't believe me.  Very convincing evidence here.

However, if you want to believe this had something to do with the launch of Call of Duty: Black Ops, that's fine. It's your right as an American.  Or if you wish to believe it's evidence of a less than rigorous press corps, that's your right, too.