Bad Theories Swirl Around Norway 'Sky Spiral' Missile

UFO, marketing gimmick, hoax? Until Russia fessed up, bloggers were stumped about the source of the strange lights

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The citizens of Norway were flabbergasted when an undulating blue-white light blossomed across the sky before dawn on Wednesday, only to vanish 10 minutes later. In the absence of hard facts, the blogosphere pulsed with creative--and crackpot--theories about the sources of the light. Until, that is, the Russian Defense Ministry sheepishly admitted one of its submarines caused the artificial aurora when it fudged the test launch of a new intercontinental ballistic missile. How close did bloggers get to the truth?

  • Something Strange In Outer Space Many writers insisted the spiral should be considered a genuine UFO. The UK paper The Sun quoted Alan Nick Pope, a former analyst for the recently folded UFO investigation unit of the British Ministry of Defense, which had seriously pursued sightings of unexplained aerial objects for half a century: ""It's ironic that something like this should happen the very week after the MoD terminated its UFO project. It just goes to show how wrong that decision was." Ever-mysterious "Planet X" was implicated as well, at least according to Mark at the blog Impossible Kisses: "As this Planet X passes near the Earth, the Earth's atmosphere becomes contaminated by debris from Planet X and some of this debris sometimes reacts chemically and electrically with Earth's atmosphere.This is pretty crazy stuff, but it is not inconsistent with the odd spiral effects." Others, like PopFi blogger Ron Hogan, said the spiral eerily resembled another astronomical event popular in science-fiction:
The only thing I can think of that's ever looked anything like the event in Norway is your average television and movie depiction of a wormhole. That would explain the swirling, that would explain the beam of light coming from it, and that would explain the sudden and unexplained disappearance. And that's about the only kind of crazy explanation that makes any sense.
  • Stupid Viral Marketing Stunt Wired's "Geekdad" blogger Matt Blum suspected that capitalists had devised a new viral marketing campaign: "We're wondering if maybe it's yet another misfire in the campaign to promote the new V reboot. The only question, then, would be: Why do it over Norway? I mean, there are nearly twice as many people living in New York City as in all of Norway. The cost/benefit ratio seems way off... although it is being written and talked about all over the world, so maybe not."
  • Evidence of Obama's Otherworldly Quality Bloggers couldn't help but connect the mysterious phenomena to Obama's arrival in Oslo. The Jawa Report's Rusty sarcastically interpreted the sign as "proof that Obama is the Messiah." He explains: "This gathering in Oslo to worship Obama is beginning to make sense now...The 'Prince of Peace' indeed." Or as the Examiner's Michael Salla (PhD) put it: "The appearance of the enormous light spiral in northern Norway may be a sheer coincidence and unrelated to his upcoming speech in Oslo. Alternatively, the mysterious spiral of light may be a sign from an unknown intelligence ... With much speculation that the Obama administration is poised to make some kind of announcement concerning extraterrestrial life soon, the light may be sign for him to boldly go where no U.S. President has gone before."
  • Balloon Boy's Revenge The Truth Seeker tried to debunk the light show as an elaborate hoax in the vein of others that duped the world earlier this year:
I however am pretty sure it was a hoax. From one side of a mountain you could see a light projection coming from it towards the sky, much like those old movie projectors. It's like the Balloon Boy UFO Scam that happened like a month ago...
  • Rambunctious Russian Rocket Discover's 'Bad Astronomer' Phil Plait scientifically analyzed the phenomenon, and hit on the ultimately correct hypothesis that the spiral was a missile launch gone awry:
A rocket got out of control, perhaps losing a stabilizer, and started to spiral ... So who launched it? The Russians are a likely guess, but -shocker -- they're denying it. I'd love to know and find out what the details are, but whoever shot it up and whatever the purpose, I'm pretty sure what we're seeing here is a rocket launch that didn't go exactly according to plan.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.