October – Amazing Festivals along the Mekong River Bank Naga Fireball Phenomenon
Amphoe Phon Phisai, Nong Khai Province and Nearby Districts
At the end of October people from all around Thailand visit river near Phon Phisai to witness a true phenomenon the Naga Fireballs. Totally unexplained, great balls of fire rise up through the water and shoot into the air time and time again. A very eerie spectacle, there has been some debate amongst cynics that the whole thing is staged by the Tourism Authority of Thailand! Hardly likely witness the spectacle for yourself.
Although the fireballs are regularly seen on the river during the Phayanak festival, a 2002 iTV documentary showed Laotian soldiers firing tracer rounds into the air across the river from the festival. Dunning suggests that it would be impossible for anyone across the half-mile river to hear a gunshot because it would take 2.5 seconds for the sound to travel to the spectators, and by then the crowd watching has already noticed the light and started cheering, drowning out the sound when it would reach them.
Some individuals have attempted to scientifically explain the phenomenon. One explanation is that the fireball is a result of flammable phosphine gas generated by the marshy environment. However, skeptic Brian Dunning writes that such fireballs are very unlikely to spontaneously ignite, and would not stay lit when traveling at the speeds the fireballs are seen rising at, and that there is no science that can explain “the Naga Fireballs to be naturally produced burning gas bubbles.”
A similar explanation involves a similar phenomenon in plasma physics. A free-floating plasma orb, created when surface electricity (e.g., from a capacitor) is discharged into a solution. However, most plasma ball experiments are conducted using high voltage capacitors, microwave oscillators, or microwave ovens, rather than in natural conditions.