Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Science

Russia's Dyatlov Pass Incident May Have Been Explained By Modern Science 110

Posted by Soulskill
from the i-blame-the-schools dept.
swellconvivialguy writes "Fifty-five years ago, nine young Russians died under suspicious circumstances during a winter hiking trip in the Ural mountains. Despite an exhaustive investigation and the recovery of the group's journals and photographs, the deaths remained unexplained, blamed on 'an unknown compelling force.' Now American film and television producer Donnie Eichar believes he has solved the mystery of the Dyatlov Pass Incident. Working in conjunction with scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Boulder, CO, Eichar developed a theory that the hikers died because they panicked in the face of infrasound produced by a Kármán vortex street."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Russia's Dyatlov Pass Incident May Have Been Explained By Modern Science

Comments Filter:
  • by rueger (210566) on Saturday February 01, 2014 @06:16PM (#46130401) Homepage
    Highly recommenced a pretty cool movie based on the same story: Devil's Pass. [imdb.com] Netflix has it, plus the other usual places. [google.ca]
    • by icebike (68054)

      Because movies have ALL the answers.

    • Because Lord knows fictional movies are where I go to get all *my* facts.

      I see it got lousy reviews, too.

      • by peragrin (659227)

        damn straight. I am this close to building an Arc reactor. I am long way from electric thrusters with thrust greater than 3 newtons, but I almost have the power.

    • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Saturday February 01, 2014 @06:39PM (#46130519)
      Occam's Razor says very strongly that we already have a far more likely answer [cracked.com].
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by SuperKendall (25149)

        All of the "obvious answers" there were written be complete idiots ignoring the facts of the situation.

        But then, it was Cracked. So you knew that was the case going in.

        • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Saturday February 01, 2014 @07:32PM (#46130781)
          Not all of the authors at Cracked are idiots, and many of their articles (but of course by no means all) are well-researched. Did you bother to check the references in the story? It's an old article so some of the links are broken.

          But the Cracked author did not think this up. He was simply echoing what many others have been saying about the incident. Every "weirdness" that was actually documented at the time has a rather mundane explanation. There has been a lot of build-up of the story over the years that doesn't appear anywhere in the official record.

          And, as I stated earlier: Occam's Razor suggests that the more mundane the explanation, the greater the likelihood of its truth.
          • He was simply echoing what many others have been saying about the incident. Every "weirdness" that was actually documented at the time has a rather mundane explanation.

            I read the whole thing before after reading through the facts of the incident.

            None of the explanations given make the slightest bit of sense when the actual facts are considered, when you look at the real facts of the thing every single one of the mundane explanations is absurd.

            Paradoxial undressing doesn't explain why someone would be wearin

            • You're a pretentious cunt. The last stages of hypothermia cause people to UNDRESS. Check medical sources and Wikipedia if you want.

            • by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Saturday February 01, 2014 @11:12PM (#46131757) Homepage Journal

              "Paradoxial undressing doesn't explain why someone would be wearing SOMEONE ELSE's clothes for example."

              Sure it does. Let's say that I'm freezing, and as a result, I'm losing any semblance of rational thought. I throw away one or more articles of clothing. You may or may not be close enough to see me throw it away, but you do find that article of clothing. You're also colder than hell, but you have retained the ability to think rationally. Do you pick up the abandoned clothing, or walk past it? I suspect that you will pick it up, and put it on. Reverse our positions, and I know damned well that I'll pick up YOUR shirt, or whatever you have abandoned.

              The avalanche is perfectly reasonable. Remember, the party got kinda lost in the bad weather, and when they realized where they were, they set up what might be called an emergency camp site. They were resting up after a strenuous day, and making plans for the next day. An avalanche need not be extremely massive. A few mere tons of snow breaking loose at a higher elevation, and sliding down to an area with little snow on the ground is hardly noteworthy. There is no reason to assume that an avalanche must contain thousands of tons of snow, or rock for that matter. Enough snow to knock over a half dozen people, and to stun them, won't necessarily bury the tent - they were likely lying down, resting.

              Tanning - I don't have any explanation for. That's kind of left field for me.

              Even more confusing, is why the entire group abandoned the camp site. I can understand that one or more of the party took a bump to the head. But, it's not reasonable to believe that ALL of them were knocked almost senseless. If I were awakened in the middle of the night to find myself half buried in snow, I think that I would take the time to grab my boots, and a coat. Certainly my boots. I know that much from experience with being awakened from a sound sleep to deal with an emergency. Of course, to be fair - the tent has been flattened, and the boots may be difficult to locate - fear may move me out of the tent before I locate my boots.

              • by Anonymous Coward

                Tanning - I don't have any explanation for. That's kind of left field for me.

                They'd been walking in the sun, for days, over a lot of white, fluffy, high-albedo substance. They acquired a tan.

                Even more confusing, is why the entire group abandoned the camp site. I can understand that one or more of the party took a bump to the head. But, it's not reasonable to believe that ALL of them were knocked almost senseless. If I were awakened in the middle of the night to find myself half buried in snow, I think that I would take the time to grab my boots, and a coat. Certainly my boots. I know that much from experience with being awakened from a sound sleep to deal with an emergency. Of course, to be fair - the tent has been flattened, and the boots may be difficult to locate - fear may move me out of the tent before I locate my boots.

                The small-scale avalanche that mangled their tent got snow into and around their boots rendering them useless. When you're covered in snow @-25C, along with all your clothes and footwear, your best bet is to build a fire real quick. The first group were found under a tree, not far from the thrashed campsite, probably the first location they could find with anything remotely combustible.

              • by ultranova (717540)

                Enough snow to knock over a half dozen people, and to stun them, won't necessarily bury the tent - they were likely lying down, resting.

                Any amount of snow must necessarily affect the tent to affect the people inside it. Unless they were chilling by a campfire when it hit, but then wouldn't they still be dressed for the outdoors, and thus not die of hypothermia? Also, wouldn't the Russian investigation had noticed massive blunt trauma?

                the tent has been flattened

                Was it?

              • The avalanche version is quite unrealistic— the terrain is actually low hills with gentle slopes, and the tent, of course, was erected on a flattest spot around. The 'tan' as far as I remember, was described not like a sun tan, but rather a reddish or purple dye, and I can remember the conclusion that it's because of thawing waters running through the rocks with inclusions of some dyeing minerals — so, nothing mysterious here. The traces of radioactivity on some clothes were documented in the ma
          • by TrekkieGod (627867) on Sunday February 02, 2014 @01:12PM (#46134587) Homepage Journal

            Occam's Razor suggests that the more mundane the explanation, the greater the likelihood of its truth.

            Although I agree the Cracked explanation is perfectly plausible and very likely, Occam's Razor says no such thing. It's a pet peeve of mine when people state it that it that way. Occam's Razor makes no claims at all on likelihood of correctness.

            What Occam's Razor does say is that when choosing between hypotheses which all give the exact same predictions, you should pick the one that involves less variables. Not because it's more likely to be true than the others (it's not, there's no requirement on nature to make things simple), but because there's no point in doing extra work to achieve the same result. The moment there's any difference at all between the predictions, Occam's Razor can no longer be invoked. At that point, you've got to eliminate theories by attempting to falsify their predictions. For example, if one theory says the incident was the result of an avalanche and another says it wasn't, you should now look for characteristic signs of an avalanche at the site. The evidence should rule out or support an avalanche theory, but "an avalanche is the simpler explanation" isn't evidence for anything.

            When you do invoke Occam's Razor is when the hypotheses make no testable difference. For example, you and I examine a black box that allows us to input a number via a keyboard, and watch a screen for an output. We type in 1 and get 3. We type in 24 and get 26. We type in 127 and get 129. Now you develop a hypothesis: "The black box outputs the input plus two." I develop a differnet hypothesis: "the black box first adds 5 to the input, then it subtracts 3." The predictive power of both hypotheses are exactly equal, and you can't devise a test to figure out what the exact computation happening inside the black box is. So, Occam's Razor says we should pick your hypothesis in order to make predictions, because adding the extra work is unecessary. However, it could very well be that my hypothesis is the one that is right...it just doesn't matter.

            • by unitron (5733)

              Perhaps I could persuade you to choose the one that involves fewer variables.

      • by Anubis IV (1279820) on Saturday February 01, 2014 @08:38PM (#46131151)

        As you'd expect from Cracked, they jumped to conclusions based on only a partial understanding of the facts. Go read Wikipedia's page on the topic [wikipedia.org] and you'll note that they misstated the basic facts on which they based most of their assumptions. For a quick example, Cracked mentions a tongue missing from one of the victims and provides an explanation for it, but neglected to note that it was actually the entire face missing, and that the cause for why it was missing was well-established: they found the woman face-down in a ravine on the edge of a stream that would have caused her face to essentially decompose and liquefy off her skull. The wounds and loss of other soft tissue were consistent with that idea, rather than predation or scavenging, as Cracked suggests.

        And the orange glowing spheres that Cracked claims were just people adding a spooky factor for the sake of doing so? Those spheres were actually reported by a wide-ranging group of people spread out over the region, and the reports came in repeatedly over the course of a couple of months. They were later confirmed to have been ICBM tests being conducted by the Soviets. Whether or not they are relevant remains to be seen, but dismissing them as ghost stories just shows that they didn't bother doing their homework in the least.

        The theory in the summary doesn't seem to address why they would need to cut their way out of their tent, so Cracked's theory at least has the advantage there. And claiming that they were witless as a result of infrasound doesn't seem to jive with the fact that they had enough wits about them to try and send out a smaller group loaded up with the warmest clothing in order to try and bring back help for the others.

        • "...but neglected to note that it was actually the entire face missing, and that the cause for why it was missing was well-established: they found the woman face-down in a ravine on the edge of a stream that would have caused her face to essentially decompose... "

          No, it wasn't the entire face. And while the Cracked author might have been wrong about that, the point remains that her situation wasn't "extraordinary" in any way.

          "And the orange glowing spheres that Cracked claims were just people adding a spooky factor for the sake of doing so? Those spheres were actually reported by a wide-ranging group of people spread out over the region, and the reports came in repeatedly over the course of a couple of months. They were later confirmed to have been ICBM tests being conducted by the Soviets."

          These aren't original records. You are quoting a Russian news story that was written 50 years later. (Well, okay... 49 years.)

          • Pardon me. I meant to add:

            About the only thing that cannot be easily explained was the crushing fractures that some of the party displayed. Although the (again, rather mundane) theory of an avalanche could explain that too.

            To the best of my knowledge, the story of radiation is not supported by any of the original records.
      • People with "obvious answers" are usually quite closed minded.

    • The build-up was awesome, but I was ultimately disappointed. Good watch for a night when you have nothing better to do.

  • A forthcoming revelation from the Snowden files will prove conclusively that the NSA did it!

    • by icebike (68054)

      There is already plenty of speculation on the Wiki Page, first link.
      No need to wait for more.

  • by icebike (68054) on Saturday February 01, 2014 @06:17PM (#46130409)

    If you hear it, You just run.
    Cross hill.

    Maybe there is no real avalanche, but at night, are you going to wait around to see?

    • Bingo. It also explains why they ripped their tent open from the inside, and why some of the hikers had pressure injuries. There's a chance such an avalanche had a non-natural cause however (see speculation on wiki page [wikipedia.org]) .
      • by icebike (68054) on Saturday February 01, 2014 @06:54PM (#46130595)

        Often not mentioned is that four of hikers, including the three most beaten up, were all found at the bottom of a rocky ravine. The tent itself wasn't covered with that much snow, but even a small slide accompanied by something sounding like a rumble would have an experienced hiker slashing his way out of the tent and running.
        The temperature was such that dressed as they were, they probably had less than 30 minutes to get back to shelter, and if they couldn't find their tent, they were screwed,

        • The avalanche itself then could have been caused by the hikers themselves, by a missile test, by infrasound or just for no reason. The first two seem the most likely (I guess in that order). It depends how much of the investigation results are taken to be true.
    • Because they were not IN an avalanche area, and experienced hikers would not set up tents in an avalanche area. So if year heard a rumble you would exit cautiously, knowing that you were in a safe place.

      • by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Saturday February 01, 2014 @11:22PM (#46131807) Homepage Journal

        The party had been half lost in bad weather, and stopped when they realized that they weren't where they expected to be. It was an unplanned, emergency camp site. The tent was knocked down and partially buried. That seems to indicate that they believed that they were in imminent danger of being swept away when they exited. They were pretty obviously NOT in a "safe place". If they really wanted to be in a "safe place" they never would have gone hiking into the mountains in the winter time. As a group, the party believed itself to be capable of meeting life threatening challenges.

        Sometimes, shit happens.

      • by rHBa (976986)
        I already posted this link above but unfortunately experienced climbers do camp in avalanche prone areas [epictv.com], sometimes by misjudging the risk or sometimes by necessity.
  • Tornado did it? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by paziek (1329929) on Saturday February 01, 2014 @06:24PM (#46130433)

    So he claims that tornado produced infrasounds and it itself would be scary, but probably not that much with all that wind and hikers inside tent. From what I read, it is not confirmed that infrasounds induce fear or anxiety in humans, at least not to everyone. Those were experienced hikers and I guess they are used to bad weather... hard to believe that all of them would run away like that just cause of some noise outside of tent.
    He wrote a book, wants to sell it, so we have this story as promo.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    infrasound produced by a Kármán vortex street

    I can't even count the number of friends and relatives I've lost to Kármán vortex street infrasound :(.

    We've got to DO something to stop this bloodbath.

  • The Dylatov Pass incident is one of the more freaky, but lesser known horror events of the 20th century. I'm a paranormal buff and I only learned about it in 2008. Whether the outcome was just the result of a series of unfortunate but scientifically explainable events or something more of the paranormal variety, here are some key takeaways from its Wikipedia page:

    -Six of the group members died of hypothermia and three of fatal injuries.
    -There were no indications of other people nearby apart from the nin
    • That saves everyone paying attention a trip to Wikipedia.

      Wouldn't a link have been less typing for you?

    • Unexpected, certainly. But how does one make the jump to freaky? Bodies in a ravine, avalanche, icbm testing, and hypothermia can explain every oddity, and with some uncommon yet mundane events it could be further simplified.
      I don't claim to have an explanation of exactly what happened, but multiple plausible scenarios exist.
      Being between missle testing and a nuclear facility during active testing might make for a freaky experience, but third party descriptions lose that perspective.
      I guess with your last b

  • by reve_etrange (2377702) on Saturday February 01, 2014 @06:38PM (#46130505)

    The infrasound speculation is interesting, but IMHO the known facts appear to support a low-yield nuclear bomb test.

    In that hypothesis, which you can read about in the speculative wiki [wikipedia.org] and talk [wikipedia.org] pages, a test of a low-yield warhead launched from Baikonur triggered a small avalanche which induced the hikers to flee and gave some of them pressure injuries.

    I recommend you read the Wikipedia pages and judge for yourself. If nothing else, the incident is truly bizarre and the facts and speculation surrounding it make for fascinating reading. The pressure injuries are just the beginning of the strange nature in which these nine people died.

    • by PNutts (199112)

      And even more interesting from your second link is that in 2010 someone proposed infrasound.

    • So even if we decide to go with the avalanche theory, the likelihood of the humans campers disturbing the snow pack is still only one plausible argument.

      Damn!

      This dispelling of conspiracy theories is a tough row to hoe.

      • I'd go with the hikers disturbing the snow pack if you disbelieve the government investigator's claims about the radiation and thermal injuries, and the nuclear hypothesis of the claims are accepted.
  • by CODiNE (27417) on Saturday February 01, 2014 @06:43PM (#46130541) Homepage

    Fondly recalling the time I hooked up a speaker to a frequency generator in electronics class and experimented on the rest of the classroom. *evil laugh!*

    It really doesn't take very long for people to start weirding out and having strange sensations. The instructor found out and made me stop.

    I was unable to prove the existence of the brown note. :_(

    Oh the other hand! Maybe I can volunteer to DJ for the next class reunion!! *much grinning and skipping about!*

  • Solved, my ass (Score:1, Flamebait)

    by fnj (64210)

    What horse shit. So some bird brain thinks they died because they heard a scary sound.

    Just WTF.

    • Have you got a better theory? And it's still only a theory:

      Russia's Dyatlov Pass Incident May Have Been Explained By Modern Science

      American film and television producer Donnie Eichar believes he has solved

  • by Jonah Hex (651948) <hexdotms AT gmail DOT com> on Saturday February 01, 2014 @06:55PM (#46130597) Homepage Journal
    Well now I know why it's not used for effects in movies, I always thought it was just because speakers to produce infrasound would be too large and expensive for anything except theme parks. I suppose even a horror theme park wouldn't want to cause actual illness. I wonder how close to causing unease and discomfort lower frequencies that modern theaters can play over their sound systems comes to causing these types of effects. *runs off to layer a 20-30hz waveform over a youtube video of kittens* - HEX
  • to 21 Jump Street.

  • It's FAR more likely they accidentally depolarized the dilithium matrix, resulting in a sudden inversion of the quantum warp field.

  • Wouldn't this be very common? Why aren't there more documented incidents of "infrasound" induced hysteria?

  • Maybe if you're old.
    • by Greyfox (87712)
      Lots of people die from panic. It causes very poor judgment. It causes people to forget the safety procedures they were drilled in. It causes people to miss obvious things that could save them. It causes you to burn vital resources faster. If you panic, you die. You might still die if you don't panic, but your odds are a whole lot better.

      You gotta wonder at what stage of our evolution, stampeding in the face of danger was a good thing. Sure the adrenaline from the fight-or-flight reflex is somewhat useful

  • I thought that the Mythbusters broke that myth?
  • The explanation is simple..... the researchers came across a secret bunker; they dared open it and go in. They were eventually accosted by teleporting alien creatures who shredded their bodies, ripped out one of theirs' tongues; there was some teleportation and time-travel involved, and finally -- their boddies got dumped on the side of the mountain away from their tent, by the russians. The End.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    my friend, is blowing in the wind.

  • by minstrelmike (1602771) on Saturday February 01, 2014 @08:32PM (#46131115)
    I find the idea of infrasonics plausible. Certain tribes worship mountaintops for their sounds.
    I wonder how long the place has been called Dead Mountain. If it's an indigenous name, then I'd suspect some kind of natural forces (such as a vortex) at work.
    • by CauseBy (3029989)

      Like, a polar vortex?

      • by Anonymous Coward
        Oooh, he said a sciency word! Maybe I'll look smart if I say a phrase containing that same word that I heard in a different place!
  • Don't know why it took so long to figure this out...
    They were all in the same tent no?

    One of the girls yelled "Spider!" or "Mouse!" and panicked, knocking down the tent. Someone cuts the tent open to get out. They all flee, but it's dark and everyone gets turned around, not able to find there way back to the tent
    Seriously, once you have some kind of panic event the rest of the events seem to be quite ordinary.

  • There are many strange circumstances under which group died, but the simple "death from avalanche" theory is still quite plausible, and that's the one described in the first paragraph here:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D... [wikipedia.org]

    The traces of radiation on some clothes could be something that the group picked up on the way to this trip, though the train or train station. (Soviet Union always treated its radioactive materials quite carelessly. There have been instances of people finding dangerously radioactive devic

  • So why were some of the hikers' clothes extremely radioactive?
    • by guacamole (24270)

      Soviet Union handled its radioactive materials quite carelessly. I have heard of many stories of people finding radioactive materials in the junk-yards or somewhere out in the woods. Once was a story of a farmer finding a metal device that seemed to emanate warmth when approached. It turned out to be a piece of a portable nuclear powered power station used in the military, and I guess just abandoned somewhere. The guy who allegedly poisoned Russian dissident Litvinenko in London left a radioactive train on

  • Some folks still think it was local jet traffic that made the noise that scared them all so much that they ran out of the tent, lost their lights and senses of direction, and died of exposure. It's just much more likely than a freak sound event.

  • Am I the only one that totally gets a Cthulhu vibe from this story?

    I sense an old ones tentacled appendage in this one...

    an unknown compelling force indeed!

"More software projects have gone awry for lack of calendar time than for all other causes combined." -- Fred Brooks, Jr., _The Mythical Man Month_

Working...