China's 'floating city': Mirage, hoax or sinister conspiracy?

China floating city fata morgana orig_00000321
China floating city fata morgana orig_00000321

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    Floating city in the clouds: Fake or fata morgana?

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Floating city in the clouds: Fake or fata morgana? 01:13

Story highlights

  • What's the story behind a video purporting to show a floating city?
  • Possible explanations: parallel universe, NASA conspiracy, weather phenomenon

(CNN)A giant floating city appeared in the sky in China. Or did it?

A video purporting to show a mass of skyscrapers towering above clouds in the Chinese city of Foshan has gone viral, sparking talk of parallel universes and even secret NASA plans to fake the second coming of Jesus (really).
Oh, and some boring science junk involving thermal inversions and stuff. Scientists.
    There's just one more possibility: The brief video glimpse of buildings hovering in the sky could be a fake.
    After all, despite claims in media reports that hundreds or even thousands of people witnessed the event, there's just one video of the scene, and none of the thousands of purported witnesses seems to have come forward to talk about it.
    At least none of them is quoted in the approximately 40 billion breathless articles, posts and tweets on the topic since the video popped up on YouTube in early October.
    Freaky, those posters say. Scary. Chilling, even! Maybe even evidence, some wondered aloud, of NASA's Project Blue Beam -- apparently an effort by the space agency to broadcast holograms of the Rapture to all corners of the globe at once in support of a totalitarian takeover of Earth by the New World Order (just thinking out loud here, but wouldn't a bunch of guns and tanks and stuff be easier?).
    If it is that, China is obviously in on it. State-run CCTV reported last week that the "authenticity of the footage was under doubt," saying it could not trace the video to its original source (we can't, either).
    "After analyzing, meteorologists claimed that the video was actually a fake, saying that the natural environment in the location makes it impossible to form such atmospheric phenomenon," the broadcaster reported.
    Mythbusting site Snopes.com also weighs in on the side of fakery.
    Now, it's also possible that this was a real, uh, mirage.
    Something called a fata morgana has been behind some weird sightings throughout the ages and is often called on to explain ships that seem to float above the water or distorted shapes above the horizon.
    Such phenomena are caused by light rays being bent by extremely dense air trapped by alternating layers of warm and cold, CNN meteorologist Brandon Miller said.
    The mirage causes observers to mistake the true location and sometimes shape of a distant object, which can be distorted and repeated by the phenomenon in strange ways, Miller said.
    Of the China video, if authentic, he said, "it could just be an island that's stacked many times on top of itself, or it could be buildings."
    Then again, it could be fake.
    Or NASA holograms of heaven.
    Definitely that.