Bubbles can sink floating objects, which suggests that methane bubbles escaping from methane reserves in the seabed might may be the cause for so many vessels disappearing in the Bermuda Triangle.

In order for an object to float, the density of the liquid has to be greater than the density of the object. If you mix enough bubbles into a liquid to lower its average density, an object floating on its surface will sink. This may be why so many ships sank in that area for no obvious reason.

However, Bruce Denardo at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California also knows that rising bubbles carry currents of water up with them, exerting an upwards force on the floating object. This upward drag should be enough to keep an object afloat. He decided to test the theory. His team filled a glass beaker with water, then fed in air at the bottom at varying speeds. Then they dropped in steel balls filled with varying amounts of water and air to see how easily they would sink. In the absence of rising bubbles, the ball floated on the surface but switching on the bubbles made it sink.?We were surprised that the theory was confirmed,: says Denardo. ?This is just what one might naively expect, but we expected that an upward drag would occur.?

Denardo concludes that we can?t rule out the methane theory for ships lost in the Bermuda Triangle. ?If a phenomenon can be made to occur in a lab, it probably occurs somewhere in the natural universe,? he says.

If bubbles can sink ships, the military might want to use them as a weapon. Michael Stumborg, a researcher at the U.S. Naval War College in Rhode Island, has suggested building ?buoyancy bombs? that would collect and release bubbles.

An underwater vehicle could extract methane from a deposit in the seabed, then transport it to a point underneath a target ship. ?The release of the methane will reduce the buoyancy of the ship and could in principle sink it,? says Denardo.

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