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Bermuda Triangle, Atlantic Ocean

March 26th, 2007 / / Links: Google Earth, Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, Virtual Earth / Nearest places

The Bermuda Triangle, also known as the Devil's Triangle, is an area in the Atlantic Ocean where the disappearance of many people, aircraft, and surface vessels has been attributed by some to the paranormal, a suspension of the laws of physics, or activity by extraterrestrial beings. Some of the disappearances involve a level of mystery which is often popularly explained by a variety of theories beyond human error or acts of nature. An abundance of documentation for most incidents suggests that the Bermuda Triangle is a sailors' legend, later embellished by professional writers.

The boundaries of the Triangle vary with the author; some stating its shape is akin to a trapezium covering the Straits of Florida, the Bahamas, and the entire Caribbean island area east to the Azores; others add to it the Gulf of Mexico. The more familiar, triangular boundary in most written works has as its points Miami, Florida; San Juan, Puerto Rico; and the mid-Atlantic island of Bermuda, with most of the incidents concentrated along the southern boundary around the Bahamas and the Florida Straits.

The area is one of the most heavily-sailed shipping lanes in the world, with ships crossing through it daily for ports in the Americas and Europe, as well as the Caribbean Islands. Cruise ships are also plentiful, and pleasure craft regularly go back and forth between Florida and the islands. It is also a heavily flown route for commercial and private aircraft heading towards Florida, the Carribean and to South America from points north.

The Gulf Stream ocean current flows through the Triangle after leaving the Gulf of Mexico; its current of five to six knots may have played a part in a number of disappearances. Sudden storms can and do appear, and in the summer to late fall the occasional hurricane strikes the area. The combination of heavy maritime traffic and tempestuous weather makes it inevitable that vessels could founder in storms and be lost without a trace — especially before improved telecommunications, radar and satellite technology arrived late in the 20th century.

Compass problems are one of the cited phrases in many Triangle incidents; it is possible that people operating boats and aircraft looked at a compass that they felt was not pointing north, veered course to adjust, and got lost quickly. The North Magnetic Pole is not the North Pole; rather it is the north end of the earth's magnetic field, and as such it is the natural end where the needle of a compass points. The North Magnetic Pole also wanders. In 1996 a Canadian expedition certified its location by magnetometer and theodolite at 78°35.7′N 104°11.9′W; in 2005 its position was 82.7° N 114.4° W, to the west of Ellesmere Island.

The direction in which a compass needle points is known as magnetic north. In general, this is not exactly the direction of the North Magnetic Pole (or of any other consistent location). Instead, the compass aligns itself to the local geomagnetic field, which varies in a complex manner over the Earth's surface, as well as over time. The angular difference between magnetic north and true north (defined in reference to the Geographic North Pole), at any particular location on the Earth's surface, is called the magnetic declination. Most map coordinate systems are based on true north, and magnetic declination is often shown on map legends so that the direction of true north can be determined from north as indicated by a compass.

Magnetic declination has been measured in many countries, including the U.S. The line of zero declination in the U.S. runs from the North Magnetic Pole through Lake Superior and across the western panhandle of Florida. Along this line, true north is the same as magnetic north. West of the line of zero declination, a compass will give a reading that is east of true north. Conversely, east of the line of zero declination, a compass reading will be west of true north. Since the North Magnetic Pole has been wandering toward the northwest, some twenty or more years ago the line of zero declination went through the Triangle, giving sailors and airmen a compass reading of true north instead of magnetic north. A sailor not knowing the difference would sail off course without realizing it, ultimately resulting in a vanishing.

[Source: Wikipedia]

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