The photo in this article is fantastic. It shows an extreme example of the illusion. The ship appears to be, not just hovering over the water, but actually suspended in mid-air.
In my view, it's worth clicking on the link just to see the photo.
Your eyes are seeing the reflection of the sky on the distant water or fog, making it appear the horizon is closer than it really is.
So it is an optical illusion, as your brain is what is perceiving a horizon where it is not.
This particular kind of mirage ("superior mirage", as the author of the picture calls it) works the other way around: light bends away from the cold water surface. So, of I understand it correctly, the horizon appears where it really is whereas the ship appears higher up (contrary to normal mirage where the sky appears to come from the ground).
I can only recommand to check https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=er1mh90wN-k and then https://metabunk.org/refraction/
What’s also mind blowing is that the camera captures the same thing your brain is interpreting!
A mirage is not an optical illusion in the way that you describe it. The BBC correspondent is the person that called it an optical illusion, not the meteorologist. :)
It's much more related to optics than direct perception. Your brain is drawing the correct image its received, the light has just been bent so that it doesn't form an accurate representation of what you're trying to see.
Then Wikipedia held my hand and said everything was OK and this even has a name:
To me that's the most Men In Black explanation I've ever heard.
Definitely confirms this is aliens.
Light travels at different speeds in different substances. But it always takes a path that is locally fastest - meaning that any nearby path would be slower. (This is called the Fermat principle.)
You can see this principle at work when you put a stick into water. Because light travels more slowly in water, the light first heads mostly straight up, then bends when it hits the air. The result is that light does not travel a straight path to your eye. Which means that the part of the stick in the water looks like it is where the light comes out of the water, rather than where the stick is. As a result you can see the stick visibly bend.
Now what is happening here is that you have a layer of warm air over cold air. Light travels faster in warm air. (That is because as air warms it expands, making it less dense. Less dense means that there is less getting in the way of the light and it can move faster.) Therefore that fastest path is for the light to go up into the warm air, go along the warm air, and then dive back down to your eyes.
In many places you can see the reverse of this on hot days where hot ground makes for a hot air layer next to the ground. When the conditions are right the light from the sky can reach your eyes by skimming along the ground, and you get blue patches in the ground. In a desert this can look like water in the distance.
It makes me wonder, if you had a 10 inch globe of vacuum suspended in air, how different looking thru it would appear vs the air. It seems like you might be able to detect it via sight alone.
The vapour cloud which often forms occurs in saturated air as a partial vacuum forms behind the shockwave:
Then you have another group of layers of air further up in the 'marine boundary layer' that bends the light back towards the waters surface.
This is called an 'atmospheric duct' and is somewhat similar in the effect to a fibre optic cable.
Poor mans source: I wrote my thesis 5+ years ago on refractive effects in the maritime boundary layer 
There is fog out past the ship. The water close to the viewer is reflecting the sky, and is blue, while water further out is reflecting the fog. The fog above the horizon blends in with the water reflecting the fog making it hard to see the true horizon line (but it is there in the picture if you look closely). The line where this reflection changes stands out much more strongly and the eye mistakes it for the horizon line.
This page has more examples of cases where these two different effects were confused:
I can feel my brain contorting a bit.
You don’t see the keel of the ship, but only parts of it that are above the waterline, and not all of those (corollary: this ship is as good as empty)
Less impressive versions of this would show only the top of the bridge, or the entire ship and some of the water it’s floating on (actually, this image might show some water below the ship. That tiny whitish line below it could be that)
Note in the OP's original link the bottom half is cut off entirely.
It’s interesting the BBC experts didn’t catch the difference but that’s the benefit of the internet I guess.
Not by any optical effect, I think -- you're seeing all that's visible of it where it actually is, too: The bit that's "cut off" is just what's hidden below the water line. (Some other post here suggested a thin line of water may actually be barely visible along the lower edge of the ship in the "mirage" photo.)
Clearer example of false horizon: https://i.imgur.com/WHzQJ3Z.png
A superior mirage would usually cause more distortion and likely wouldn't so cleanly cut out the ship.
Clearer example of superior mirage: https://i.imgur.com/pa16mOk.png
I wonder if this effect has contributed to some "ghost ship" legends in the past?
(Seriously, people. It’s been hours—has no one cracked a kubernetes joke about this yet?)
The Adriatic see can be very calm sometimes, and the blue waters do match the same color/blue hue of the sky.
Is it possible this image is a hoax, or that it was edited to exaggerate the real effect?
Sometimes I can't resolve www.bbc.co.uk, sometimes it works. Same for www.bbc.com. I don't have that problem with any other domain name I have encountered. The intermittency makes it very hard to troubleshoot.
'Floating ship' appears over Folkestone harbour
Really freaked me out the first time I saw some moving about on a dark country road from other cars off in the distance.
Pictures do not give you the full experience, since there is a huge 3D element to how they appear, too.
I mean, mermaids ≡ dolphins, so ghost ship ≡ floating ship.
If you were there, you would clearly see it's just a boat sitting on the water. The water changing color towards the ship
I guess you could take a photo yourself, reduce the resolution like here, pick the one that works best and show people, a similar 'real' photo and lie and say it's called a 'superior mirage' (It's beyond a false horizon). But you will never have seen it either, it only exists in the photo.
"Hovering Boats are Usually Not Mirages, they are beyond False Horizons" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=er1mh90wN-k
If it's just light bending then why don't we also see the surrounding water elevated in the supposed mirage?
Really, I think we're usually so busy being dismissive and condescending towards flat-earthers, it's easy to forget that proving the spherical earth is kind of a tricky matter without putting people in spaceships (but if I could afford it, I'd happily buy a few tickets for them...)
I don't fault the comment for that so much as the upvotes, but downweighting top subthreads that are off-topic and/or generic in uninteresting ways is probably the highest-leverage intervention that moderators do here. Unfortunately it requires human intervention, and we don't see all the threads, so if anyone notices an off-topic or generic top subthread before we do, letting us know at firstname.lastname@example.org is super helpful.
> 'Floating ship' photographed off Cornish coast by walker
And the current title on BBC is:
> 'Hovering ship' photographed off Cornish coast by walker
Interestingly though, because of the quotation marks I understood “floating” to mean, as intended, that it looked like the ship was in the air and didn’t even think about the possible ambiguity until I read your comment about it.
As long as the front doesn’t fall off.
The format and humour remind me very strongly of the Bird & Fortune (aka The Long Johns) skits here in the UK:
John Clark (the one who kept insisting the front fell off) passed away a few years ago.
Who would have guessed...
Would also tie the story into the story of the Flying Dutchman (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flying_Dutchman) and maybe provide some explanation for why people been seeing it as flying
Imho it s a great album. It also has a 'hovering ship' on its cover: http://www.progarchives.com/progressive_rock_discography_cov...
You needn't use your real name, of course, but for HN to be a community, users need some identity for other users to relate to. Otherwise we may as well have no usernames and no community, and that would be a different kind of forum. https://hn.algolia.com/?query=community%20identity%20by:dang...
With a photo like this, what can we do to assist in proving or disproving the theory that it’s indeed flying?
Also, is the headline incorrect if it indicates that it’s flying when it’s not, if it appears to be?
BBC is government funded with a mission to inform the British people. Why would they require ad viewing and default to not showing news without ads? Seems against their mission.
For profit news I understand as the whole “maximize shareholder equity” thing, but when government news sources use these anti-consumer tactics it’s depressing to me.
I guess it's shockingly difficult to identify advertorials.
Making a government news source profit seeking is a pretty bad plan, I think.
The BBC is primarily funded by the TV Licence. The licence is levvied on anyone who watches live TV (any live TV) or uses BBC's SVoD service, BBC iPlayer.
The BBC does operate a commercial subsidiary (BBC Studios), and the main BBC does have other revenue sources like patents owned by BBC R&D and, as you have noted, advertising on bbc.com for people who are outside of the UK.
 Well... there are some grants given to the BBC to fund its activities internationally, but those are quite limited in scope and size.
If it was independent it would have to sell its services on its own, with citizens purchasing the service only if they wished to use it.
In Denmark we're also soon abolishing the license and just making it a normal tax. The structure was pointless and the attempted indirection only angered people, especially as it was expanded to also apply to anyone having internet access over a certain bandwidth.
Furthermore, anything funded by law cannot be truly independent in content either, as it will wish to appease the hand that feeds it.
>If it was independent it would have to sell its services on its own, with citizens purchasing the service only if they wished to use it.
It's similar here. the Office of National Statistics has considered the licence fee a tax rather than a service charge for ~15 years. But I don't think that changes the nature of how the BBC is funded.
>In Denmark we're also soon abolishing the license and just making it a normal tax. The structure was pointless and the attempted indirection only angered people, especially as it was expanded to also apply to anyone having internet access over a certain bandwidth.
There has been a live discussion around the continuation of the licence fee here, too. Although that seems to have - mostly - gone away since the BBC proved its value during the pandemic. I think it helps that the requirement is still fairly narrow here.
The indirection is a feature - having the BBC's funding taken out of the regular budgetary process adds to its independence.
Politically it's a distinct action to change the value of the licence fee.
>Furthermore, anything funded by law cannot be truly independent in content either, as it will wish to appease the hand that feeds it.
To be fair that applies to more than funding. As an example, if trade unions piss the government off too much they can get a majority in the legislature to rewrite industrial relations law.
of course, other funding sources are available...
That's not the case in the UK. You only need a TV license if you use equipment to receive a live TV programme (which is something that falls under the remit of OFCOM - not a livestream of Everyday Astronaut), or if you use BBC's iplayer.
 Specifically from 2003 communications act
“television programme service” means any of the following—
* a television broadcasting service;
* a television licensable content service;
* a digital television programme service;
* a restricted television service [consists in the broadcasting of television programmes for a particular establishment or other defined location, or a particular event, in the United Kingdom, which is licensable by OFCOM]
Better than Denmark, but the quoted legal snippet is not restricted to BBC content, but instead applies to reception or any kind of television broadcast irrespective of provider or source (foreign satellite TV being an obvious alternative).
It's a different TV tax than that in Denmark, but absolutely a government mandated tax.
(I am unsure how to interpret the digital television broadcast service aspect. I wonder if they mean something wider than DVB, as the previous points do not use "analogue" as classifier. It's need more of the text to figure that out.)
> The BBC is primarily funded by the TV Licence. The licence is levvied on anyone who watches live TV (any live TV)
Who mandates the payment of a TV License and allocates the funds from it to the BBC? I would assume that's the UK government. These terms may be used differently in the UK, but in the US that would be considered government funded.
The US mandates obamacare I believe, does that mean it's government funded?
Interesting. I would still consider that government funded, personally, since it's a mandatory fee imposed by the government and applied to all TV watchers, not just consumers of the BBc. It's certainly a bit more blurry though with the direct collection.
> The US mandates obamacare I believe, does that mean it's government funded?
It depends what you mean. "Obamacare" is an extremely broad term.
Speaking generally: If the government is mandating a fee for some activity, and allocating the funds from said fee to some entity, that entity is government funded. Those fees are defacto taxes.
Not all consumers. No need for a TV license to listen to radio 4, or use the website.
I do have a TV license, but that's mainly because I very occasionally use iplayer - I don't even own a TV aerial.
Some states in America require a dog license and/or a cat license, is that a tax? Is a fishing license a tax? How about a fee to enter a national park?
In at least some states in the US the government mandates you to have car insurance if the car is operated on the public highway. This mandatory fee is collected by private companies and goes to private companies, is it a tax?
I may misunderstand then. In order to watch live TV in the UK you must pay a fee, mandated by the government, and that fee is paid to the BBC? If that's the case, I stand by what I said previously.
> Some states in America require a dog license and/or a cat license, is that a tax? Is a fishing license a tax? How about a fee to enter a national park?
A defacto tax, yes, to all of these. Taking the definition of tax I receive from Google and trimming to the relevant bit: "a compulsory contribution to state revenue ... added to the cost of some goods, services, and transactions." The state says "you must have permission to have a dog. If you want permission, you must pay". That's a compulsory contribution added to the cost of some service.
> In at least some states in the US the government mandates you to have car insurance if the car is operated on the public highway. This mandatory fee is collected by private companies and goes to private companies, is it a tax?
That's an interesting question! My knee jerk reaction is no, and I think it is because the insurance provider is actually selling me a service separate and distinct from the activity. That is to say, the BBC is selling "TV" and you're paying a fee. The insurance carrier is selling me a promise that they'll pay me if something should go wrong while I drive, not driving itself.
I fully admit that's a tenuous difference, and I could probably be convinced otherwise. You make a good point.
A license fee, be it for a dog, cat, or television
1) Is not compulsory
2) Is not added to the cost of anything
And in the case of a UK Television license it doesn't go to the state.
I think the problem is getting hung up on the definition of tax, which itself is a rather meaningless debate. The UK government, and indeed parliament, has no say over the BBC budget or income, only the level of the license. If a million more houses decided to license a tv set, BBC income increases by £150m, if a million more houses "cut the cord" and just watch netflix, disney, etc, then BBC income decreases by £150m.
Compare with primary/secondary education, where the government decides how much money to spend on education each year. It could increase it one year, decrease it the next, it's a government funded service.
Trying to define the BBC funding model as "tax for a government department" or "not a tax to an independent company" is itself problematic, the BBC is pretty much unique in its funding model and its control. It's overseen by a board which comprises of zero members of government, although the chair and some non-executive directors are appointed by the government.
EDF, the energy company, is owned by the French state, but I don't think people consider it to be government funded.
The chairman has worked for the PM and the Chancellor and has donated large sums to the Conservative party.
The BBC Director General is an ex Conservative Party councillor.
The BBC board Chairman and the non-executives are effectively appointed by the government.
The requirement to hold a licence is a statutory one. Likewise, payment of the fee must, by law, be made to the BBC, and enforcement of the licensing regime must be done by (or on behalf of) the BBC.
Thus, it is Parliament, not the government, that imposes the tax.
(Yes, I know that all taxes must have a statutory basis, but this is one that is levied outside of the usual budgetary process using Finance Acts (the passage of which are traditionally considered confidence votes), and the TV Licence is not considered by government as part of its annual budget).
I think we're encountering the "two countries separated by a common language" thing here.
"Government" (in the UK sense) refers only to the current Prime Minister and assistants, yes? In the US sense, Congress is considered to be part of the "government".
Broadly, yes; "The government" almost exclusively refers to the executive. So, The Crown, ministers, and perhaps the civil service depending on the context.
Correct. In the UK, "government" refers to the ministers currently in power, the "executive branch of the government" in US terms.
The government wields executive power, Parliament legislates and holds the government to account.
Normally the government whips mean that parliament does whatever the government tell it to do, so "holds the government to account" is a laughable statement.
Unlike the US system where the president can easily not have the confidence of the Senate or House (R president, D House, D Senate for example), and appoints his own secretaries from a pool of 300+m people, in the UK, the prime minister appoints ministers from parliament (usually the house of commons but can appoint from house of lords). Technically the PM could make a new lord (like Blair did with Sugar), but it's convoluted, and conventionally the main jobs must go to MPs
Most people think "I like Boris, I vote for him as PM, he runs the country". In the last 5 years this has broken down and parliament has asserted itself more -- this independence was punished at the ballot box in December 2019.
Confidence of the Commons, yes. The government doesn't have a majority in the Lords.
>Normally the government whips mean that parliament does whatever the government tell it to do, so "holds the government to account" is a laughable statement.
To an extent, that's true. The select committee system enables alternate power base within Parliament (especially the Commons) so that independently-minded backbench MPs to scrutinise ministers and other public officials with less interference from the whips.
And over the past 2 parliaments we have seen the rise of the Tory "research groups" - especially the ERG - which have been very influential on the government.
I'm not saying that everything is perfect here, until we ditch the first-past-the-post electoral system everything is still screwed up, but the government does have to listen to Parliament when the latter wants something.
Nothing new, Redwood challenged Major in the 90s, and Thatcher lost support of the tory party before that, but various backbenchers might arrange for PMs to leave, but they would never dream of voting against the government in a vote of confidence.
Parliament isn't important, internal politics of the conservative party are important. (And Labour, but less so as (apart from Blair), Labour don't win elections)
The government in the last few years has broken the law time and time again, but nothing happens. They did lose support of parliament, some tory members actually rebelled - including grandees like Ken Clarke. The electorate put them where they belong.
Democracy doesn't really exist in the UK, we have 40+ years of a dysfunctional opposition party that only won thanks to Blair, and the only times that parliament started to assert itself, it was massively punished.
AV wasn't perfect, but it was still far better than FPTP, and the masively rejected it. We can have a government that kills hundreds of thousands of people, flushes billions into the back pockets of tory donors, and we reward them with ever higher approval ratings.
Government n. 1. the governing body of a nation, state, or community.
Are opposition legislators considered "members of the government", even if they don't actually, well, govern anything?
If you changed the funding of RT to be controlled by the Duma, but left all other details intact, would you then say that RT is not government sponsored? To me, that seems like an odd distinction to make. It doesn't capture what most people find salient when talking about government sponsorship of the media. To wit: where is the money -- and therefore power -- coming from? Is it primarily controlled by the people or is it controlled by the rulers?
Although historically it seems very rare that the BBC view on any international politics differs from that of the UK government.
Hopefully that's because both cater to the views of the British public, but it also seems possible that there is some kind of informal backchannel going on...
I know a lot of Britishers that would dispute this version of affairs. To my mind the typical BBC point of view is mildly left-of-centre, well-to-do and urban.
Many people would claim that the BBC is left-of-centre, but if you look at their most prominent/best paid journalists, that is near-objectively not the case.
Andrew Neil was been one of the highest paid BBC journalists 2003-2020, having previously worked for Rupert Murdoch, and has gone on to be Chair [correction: Chairman] of "GB News".
GB News hosts the most right-wing voices in British political discourse, and been compared to Fox News in this respect.
I might concede that the BBC is left-of-centre compared to the average British news media, but given that British news media is exclusively owned by conservative billionaires, I'm not convinced this is a great anchor point.
Fundamentally the BBC is definitely left wing, with enourmous right wing bias
Everyone agrees  it's biased.
Oh, and the website loaded in ~500ms with a 50kb of data downloaded. The "full version" loaded > 5MB of data in 10+ seconds.
If instead of layers of warm/cold air there were giant glass lenses hovering over the ocean, the mirage wouldn’t be mysterious.
Fortean TV was, admittedly, fun but silly fun nonetheless.
Of course, we know the answer, it is a comprehensive lack of education, and a total failure of any claim to knowledge, by a self-appointed class, which pretends to tell us about the world.
I would normally just say caveat emptor, and hope the journalist would be fired, or the news agency go out of business immediately, but the Brits have a mandatory tax, called the 'TV License' to sustain all this bullshit.
In most parts of the world, I would say _caveat emptor_ and the agency would go out of business immediately, but the Brits have a mandatory tax, called the 'TV License' to pay for this bullshit.
This is the first time I heard of this phenomena, so I wouldn't know.
It is perfectly acceptable for any member of the public to be ignorant of some unusual phenomenon. It would be fine if this was a blog from the walker who took the photo. But it is not acceptable for a professional 'journalist': either they are a 'science correspondent' and they should know the answer; or they are temp-ing in the science department, and should ask an expert, or at least find 5 minutes from their busy day to google the explanation.
Then again, most 'journalists' these days seem to be employed by the 'social media' department.
Of course we know it isn't, but this right here is absolutely not a core issue with it.
Note that apparently the expert didn't need to mention the words "fata morgana" either, so maybe that's a stupid focus point after all which just sounds like elitism at this point.
I know who here "pretends to tell us about the world" and it's not the journalist.