China's Floating City and The Science of Mirages
The atmosphere can play fascinating tricks on our brains. A "superior mirage" may even be behind the myth of the Flying Dutchman.
Video of a mysterious cityscape in the clouds hovering over a Chinese city has gone viral this week. And explanations for this startling video range from a secret NASA project to an elaborate hoax to an actual atmospheric phenomenon.
Experts hesitate to say the video is real. "It looks almost too good," says Peggy LeMone, an atmospheric scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado.
"[But,] if it is real, it's called a superior mirage, which just means it's an upward projecting mirage," says Jill Coleman, an atmospheric scientist at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. It could be something called a fata morgana, she says, which is a certain kind of atmospheric mirage.
To get a