Thursday, April 21, 2011

It's a mirage

Maybe I'm a bit dim but I didn't realise mirages in the desert were real, well, not real, but not tricks the mind plays but tricks the eye plays when light rays are bent by heat.

We were on a very sandy, dusty, heaty desert road the other day during our Fujairah and Friday Market expedition when we saw what looked like water in the road in the distance.

No, we weren't crawling on our hands and knees through sand dunes after all our camels had gone on strike and the locals had abandoned our foolish journey.  No, that wasn't what was occurring, although if I did have such an adventure to tell you about that would of course have been awesome and cool.

I've looked this up on Wikipaedia so it must be true.  What happens is that when light rays pass through extreme heat (ie the last few metres before they reach a hot tarmac road on an extremely hot day in a hot desert)  they bend and cause the eye to see the light in a different way and what it manifests itself as is that it looks like the light is bouncing off water, rather than a road, so your brain tells you there is water up ahead.

Obviously the closer you get it disappears and it looks just like the road.  And here was me thinking that people just hallucinated water when they were travelling through a desert because it's what they want to see.  Perhaps the hallucinations caused by extreme thirst a la 1,001 epic movies exist as well but it was rather intriguing to experience it as an optical illusion.  Well, it's intriguing for me because I've always been rubbish at seeing those pictures that are all fuzzy patterns but if you look at them in a certain way you see bunnies or a message from God or some such.  I'm far too impatient and always end up chucking them at the wall and proclaiming them to be bollocks and who wants to see them anyway, etc.  So seeing an actual real life but not real life mirage tickled me pink, so it did.

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