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Thursday 23rd October 2014
Max 15°C | Min 14°C

What are the 'orbs' in photos?

Question

I took some pictures in my garden during the summer and when I looked at the picture, they came out with lots of "orbs" in the pictures. And I think you can see human faces in the orbs. What are they and how did it happen?
David, The City

Answer

** Definitive **
Name: Alastair, Badger's Mount
Qualification: Scientist
Answer: This has two separate answers. The strange orbs are probably Will O The Wisp given the conditions. They come from decaying organic matter. They are very faint, so you'll only see them if you're out in the middle of nowhere and the caller seemed to say that's where his village is. Now, the faces - the mind tends to see random patterns and makes sense of them. An example of this, around 20 years ago there was a lot of fuss about a thing called The Face On Mars. What happened was that early orbiters had low resolution images and one particular point on the surface of Mars looked exactly like a face. A few years later, they sent an orbiter around with a camera with a much higher resolution and it turned out to be a random collection of hills and shadows. Our brain tries to make sense of random data by giving them meaning.

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