A phenomenon (Greek: φαινόμενον, phainómenon, from the verb phainein, to show, shine, appear, to be manifest or manifest itself, plural phenomena)[1] is any thing which manifests itself. Phenomena are often, but not always, understood as "things that appear" or "experiences" for a sentient being, or in principle may be so.

The term came into its modern philosophical usage through Immanuel Kant, who contrasted it with the noumenon. In contrast to a phenomenon, a noumenon cannot be directly observed. Kant was heavily influenced by Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz in this part of his philosophy, in which phenomenon and noumenon serve as interrelated technical terms. Far predating this, the ancient Greek Pyrrhonist philosopher Sextus Empiricus also used phenomenon and noumenon as interrelated technical terms.

Cloud chamber bionerd
Cloud chamber phenomena. Scientists use phenomena to refine some hypotheses and sometimes to disprove a theory. See also animated version.

Philosophical usage

In modern philosophical use, the term phenomena has come to mean 'what is experienced is the basis of reality'. In Immanuel Kant's inaugural dissertation, On the Form and Principles of the Sensible and Intelligible World (1770), Kant theorizes that the human mind is restricted to the logical world and thus can only interpret and understand occurrences according to their physical appearances. He wrote that humans could infer only as much as their senses allowed, but not experience the actual object itself.[2] Thus, the term phenomenon refers to any incident deserving of inquiry and investigation, especially events that are particularly unusual or of distinctive importance.[1] According to the Columbia Encyclopedia, "Modern philosophers have used 'phenomenon' to designate what is apprehended before judgment is applied."[3] This may not be possible if observation is theory laden.


The combustion of a match is an observable occurrence, or event, and therefore a phenomenon.
Space Fire
A comparison between a candle flame on Earth (left) and in a microgravity environment, such as that found on the International Space Station (right).
The same burning phenomenon is observed, but different flame shape and colouring phenomena are also observed.

In scientific usage, a phenomenon is any event that is observable, however common it might be, even if it requires the use of instrumentation to observe, record, or compile data concerning it. For example, in physics, a phenomenon may be described by a system of information related to matter, energy, or spacetime, such as Isaac Newton's observations of the moon's orbit and of gravity, or Galileo Galilei's observations of the motion of a pendulum.[4]

In natural sciences, a phenomenon is an observable happening or event. Often, this term is used without considering the causes of a particular event. Example of a physical phenomena is an observable phenomenon of the lunar orbit or the phenomenon of oscillations of a pendulum.[5]

A mechanical phenomenon is a physical phenomenon associated with the equilibrium or motion of objects.[6] Some examples are Newton's cradle, engines, and double pendulums.

Social phenomenon

Group phenomena concern the behavior of a particular group of individual entities, usually organisms and most especially people. The behavior of individuals often changes in a group setting in various ways, and a group may have its own behaviors not possible for an individual because of the herd mentality.

Social phenomena apply especially to organisms and people in that subjective states are implicit in the term. Attitudes and events particular to a group may have effects beyond the group, and either be adapted by the larger society, or seen as aberrant, being punished or shunned.

Popular usage

In popular usage, a phenomenon often refers to an extraordinary event. The term is most commonly used to refer to occurrences that at first defy explanation or baffle the observer. According to the Dictionary of Visual Discourse, "In ordinary language 'phenomenon/phenomena' refer to any occurrence worthy of note and investigation, typically an untoward or unusual event, person or fact that is of special significance or otherwise notable."[1]

See also


  1. ^ a b c "Phenomenon/Phenomena". Dictionary of Visual Discourse: A Dialectical Lexicon of Terms. 2011.
  2. ^ Wikisource:Kant's Inaugural Dissertation of 1770
  3. ^ "Phenomenon". The Columbia Encyclopedia. 2008.
  4. ^ Jeremy Bernstein, A Theory for Everything, Copernicus, An imprint of Springer-Verlag, New York, 1996, hardback, ISBN 0-387-94700-0
  5. ^ Bernstein, Jeremy (1996). A Theory for Everything, Copernicus, An imprint of Springer». New York.
  6. ^ "Mechanical phenomenon". Retrieved 23 May 2011.

External links

  • The dictionary definition of phenomenon at Wiktionary
  • Quotations related to Phenomenon at Wikiquote
  • Media related to Phenomena at Wikimedia Commons
2012 phenomenon

The 2012 phenomenon was a range of eschatological beliefs that cataclysmic or otherwise transformative events would occur on or around 21 December 2012. This date was regarded as the end-date of a 5,126-year-long cycle in the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar, and as such, festivities to commemorate the date took place on 21 December 2012 in the countries that were part of the Maya civilization (Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador), with main events at Chichén Itzá in Mexico, and Tikal in Guatemala.Various astronomical alignments and numerological formulae were proposed as pertaining to this date. A New Age interpretation held that the date marked the start of a period during which Earth and its inhabitants would undergo a positive physical or spiritual transformation, and that 21 December 2012 would mark the beginning of a new era. Others suggested that the date marked the end of the world or a similar catastrophe. Scenarios suggested for the end of the world included the arrival of the next solar maximum, an interaction between Earth and the black hole at the center of the galaxy, or Earth's collision with a mythical planet called Nibiru.

Scholars from various disciplines quickly dismissed predictions of concomitant cataclysmic events as they arose. Professional Mayanist scholars stated that no extant classic Maya accounts forecast impending doom, and that the idea that the Long Count calendar ends in 2012 misrepresented Maya history and culture, while astronomers rejected the various proposed doomsday scenarios as pseudoscience, easily refuted by elementary astronomical observations.

Alien abduction

The terms alien abduction or abduction phenomenon describe "subjectively real memories of being taken secretly unwillingly by apparently unhuman figures (aliens) and subjected to complex physical and psychological procedures". People claiming to have been abducted are usually called "abductees" or "experiencers". Typical claims involve being subjected to forced medical examinations that emphasize abductee reproductive systems. Abductees sometimes claim to have been warned against environmental abuse and the dangers of nuclear weapons.Most scientists and mental health professionals dismiss the phenomenon, explaining the experiences as "deception, suggestibility (fantasy-proneness, hypnotizability, false memory syndrome), personality, sleep paralysis, psychopathology, psychodynamics [and] environmental factors". Skeptic Robert Sheaffer sees similarity between the aliens depicted in science fiction films, in particular, Invaders From Mars (1953), and some of those reported to have actually abducted people.The first alleged alien abduction claim to be widely publicized was the Betty and Barney Hill abduction in 1961. Reports of the abduction phenomenon have been made around the world, but are most common in English speaking countries, especially the United States. The contents of the abduction narrative often seem to vary with the home culture of the alleged abductee.

Backscatter (photography)

In photography, backscatter (also called near-camera reflection) is an optical phenomenon resulting in typically circular artifacts on an image, due to the camera's flash being reflected from unfocused motes of dust, water droplets, or other particles in the air or water. It is especially common with modern compact and ultra-compact digital cameras.

Caused by the backscatter of light by unfocused particles, these artifacts are also sometimes called orbs, referring to a common paranormal claim. Some appear with trails, suggesting motion.

Cult following

A cult following comprises a group of fans who are highly dedicated to a work of culture, often referred to as a cult classic. A film, book, musical artist, television series or video game, among other things, is said to have a cult following when it has a small but very passionate fanbase. A common component of cult followings is the emotional attachment the fans have to the object of the cult following, often identifying themselves and other fans as members of a community. Cult followings are also commonly associated with niche markets. Cult media are often associated with underground culture, and are considered too eccentric or subversive to be appreciated by the general public or to be commercially successful.

Many cult fans express a certain irony about their devotion. Sometimes, these cult followings cross the border to camp followings. Fans may become involved in a subculture of fandom, either via conventions, online communities or through activities such as writing series-related fiction, costume creation, replica prop and model building, or creating their own audio or video productions from the formats and characters.

Déjà vu

Déjà vu ( (listen); is a French term describing the feeling that one has lived through the present situation before.Déjà vu is a feeling of familiarity and déjà vécu (the feeling of having "already lived through" something) is a feeling of recollection. Mainstream scientific approaches reject the explanation of déjà vu as "precognition" or "prophecy," but rather explain it as an anomaly of memory, since despite the strong sense of recollection, the time, place, and practical context of the "previous" experience are uncertain or believed to be impossible. Two types of déjà vu are recognized: the pathological déjà vu usually associated with epilepsy or that which, when unusually prolonged or frequent, or associated with other symptoms such as hallucinations, may be an indicator of neurological or psychiatric illness, and the non-pathological type characteristic of healthy people, about two-thirds of whom have had déjà vu experiences.


In audio signal processing and acoustics, echo is a reflection of sound that arrives at the listener with a delay after the direct sound. The delay is directly proportional to the distance of the reflecting surface from the source and the listener. Typical examples are the echo produced by the bottom of a well, by a building, or by the walls of an enclosed room and an empty room. A true echo is a single reflection of the sound source.The word echo derives from the Greek ἠχώ (ēchō), itself from ἦχος (ēchos), "sound". Echo in the folk story of Greek is a mountain nymph whose ability to speak was cursed, only able to repeat the last words anyone spoke to her. Some animals use echo for location sensing and navigation, such as cetaceans (dolphins and whales) and bats.


Electromagnetism is a branch of physics involving the study of the electromagnetic force, a type of physical interaction that occurs between electrically charged particles. The electromagnetic force usually exhibits electromagnetic fields such as electric fields, magnetic fields, and light, and is one of the four fundamental interactions (commonly called forces) in nature. The other three fundamental interactions are the strong interaction, the weak interaction, and gravitation. At high energy the weak force and electromagnetic force are unified as a single electroweak force.

Electromagnetic phenomena are defined in terms of the electromagnetic force, sometimes called the Lorentz force, which includes both electricity and magnetism as different manifestations of the same phenomenon. The electromagnetic force plays a major role in determining the internal properties of most objects encountered in daily life. Ordinary matter takes its form as a result of intermolecular forces between individual atoms and molecules in matter, and is a manifestation of the electromagnetic force. Electrons are bound by the electromagnetic force to atomic nuclei, and their orbital shapes and their influence on nearby atoms with their electrons is described by quantum mechanics. The electromagnetic force governs all chemical processes, which arise from interactions between the electrons of neighboring atoms.

There are numerous mathematical descriptions of the electromagnetic field. In classical electrodynamics, electric fields are described as electric potential and electric current. In Faraday's law, magnetic fields are associated with electromagnetic induction and magnetism, and Maxwell's equations describe how electric and magnetic fields are generated and altered by each other and by charges and currents.

The theoretical implications of electromagnetism, particularly the establishment of the speed of light based on properties of the "medium" of propagation (permeability and permittivity), led to the development of special relativity by Albert Einstein in 1905.

Electronic voice phenomenon

Within ghost hunting and parapsychology, electronic voice phenomena (EVP) are sounds found on electronic recordings that are interpreted as spirit voices that have been either unintentionally recorded or intentionally requested and recorded. Parapsychologist Konstantīns Raudive, who popularized the idea in the 1970s, described EVP as typically brief, usually the length of a word or short phrase.Enthusiasts consider EVP to be a form of paranormal phenomenon often found in recordings with static or other background noise. However, scientists regard EVP as a form of auditory pareidolia (interpreting random sounds as voices in one's own language) and a pseudoscience promulgated by popular culture. Prosaic explanations for EVP include apophenia (perceiving patterns in random information), equipment artifacts, and hoaxes.

Greenhouse effect

The greenhouse effect is the process by which radiation from a planet's atmosphere warms the planet's surface to a temperature above what it would be without its atmosphere.If a planet's atmosphere contains radiatively active gases (i.e., greenhouse gases) they will radiate energy in all directions. Part of this radiation is directed towards the surface, warming it.

The intensity of the downward radiation – that is, the strength of the greenhouse effect – will depend on the atmosphere's temperature and on the amount of greenhouse gases that the atmosphere contains.

Earth’s natural greenhouse effect is critical to supporting life. Human activities, mainly the burning of fossil fuels and clearing of forests, have strengthened the greenhouse effect and caused global warming.The term "greenhouse effect" is a misnomer that arose from a faulty analogy with the effect of sunlight passing through glass and warming a greenhouse. The way a greenhouse retains heat is fundamentally different, as a greenhouse works mostly by reducing airflow so that warm air is kept inside.

Impostor syndrome

Impostor syndrome (also known as impostor phenomenon, impostorism, fraud syndrome or the impostor experience) is a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a "fraud". Despite external evidence of their competence, those experiencing this phenomenon remain convinced that they are frauds, and do not deserve all they have achieved. Individuals with impostorism incorrectly attribute their success to luck, or as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent than they perceive themselves to be. While early research focused on the prevalence among high-achieving women, impostor syndrome has been recognized to affect both men and women equally.

Internet meme

An Internet meme, commonly known as just a meme ( MEEM), is an activity, concept, catchphrase, or piece of media that spreads, often as mimicry or for humorous purposes, from person to person via the Internet. An Internet meme usually takes the form of an image (traditionally an image macro), GIF or video. It may be just a word or phrase, sometimes including intentional misspellings (such as in lolcats) or corrupted grammar (such as in doge and all your base are belong to us). These small movements tend to spread from person to person via social networks, blogs, direct email, or news sources. They may relate to various existing Internet cultures or subcultures, often created or spread on various websites. Fads and sensations tend to grow rapidly on the Internet because the instant communication facilitates word-of-mouth transmission. Some examples include posting a photo of people lying down in public places (called "planking") and uploading a short video of people dancing to the Harlem Shake.

The word meme was coined by Richard Dawkins in his 1976 book The Selfish Gene as an attempt to explain the way cultural information spreads; the concept of the Internet meme was first proposed by Mike Godwin in the June 1993 issue of Wired. In 2013, Dawkins characterized an Internet meme as being a meme deliberately altered by human creativity—distinguished from biological genes and his own pre-Internet concept of a meme, which involved mutation by random change and spreading through accurate replication as in Darwinian selection. Dawkins explained that Internet memes are thus a "hijacking of the original idea", the very idea of a meme having mutated and evolved in this new direction. Furthermore, Internet memes carry an additional property that ordinary memes do not—Internet memes leave a footprint in the media through which they propagate (for example, social networks) that renders them traceable and analyzable.

Momo Challenge hoax

The "Momo Challenge" is a hoax and urban legend about a nonexistent social media challenge that was spread on Facebook and other media outlets. It was reported that children and adolescents were being enticed by a user named Momo to perform a series of dangerous tasks including violent attacks, self-harm and suicide. Despite claims that the phenomenon had reached worldwide proportions in July 2018, the number of actual complaints was relatively small and no law enforcement agency has confirmed that anyone was harmed as a direct result of it. Concern and distress registered by children was primarily driven by media reports rather than as a result of "Momo", leading children's charities to view warnings against the alleged phenomenon as causing more harm than good by leading to a self-fulfilling prophecy which may encourage children to look up violent material on the Internet.The challenge "became a worldwide phenomenon" in 2018 after an Indonesian newspaper reported that it had caused a 12-year-old girl to kill herself. Awareness grew in February 2019 after the Police Service of Northern Ireland posted a public warning on Facebook, and American media personality Kim Kardashian posted on her Instagram Story pleading that YouTube remove alleged "Momo" videos.


Paranormal events are purported phenomena described in popular culture, folk, and other non-scientific bodies of knowledge, whose existence within these contexts is described as beyond normal experience or scientific explanation.Proposals regarding the paranormal are different from scientific hypotheses or speculations extrapolated from scientific evidence because scientific ideas are grounded in empirical observations and experimental data gained through the scientific method. In contrast, those who argue for the existence of the paranormal explicitly do not base their arguments on empirical evidence but rather on anecdote, testimony, and suspicion. Notable paranormal beliefs include those that pertain to telepathy, extrasensory perception, spiritualism and the pseudosciences of ghost hunting, cryptozoology, and ufology.


In ghostlore, a poltergeist (; German for "noisy ghost" or "noisy spirit") is a type of ghost or spirit that is responsible for physical disturbances, such as loud noises and objects being moved or destroyed. They are purportedly capable of pinching, biting, hitting, and tripping people. Most accounts of poltergeists describe the movement or levitation of objects such as furniture and cutlery, or noises such as knocking on doors.

They have traditionally been described as troublesome spirits who haunt a particular person instead of a specific location. Such alleged poltergeist manifestations have been reported in many cultures and countries including the United States, Pakistan, India‚ Japan, Brazil, Australia, and most European nations. Early accounts date back to the 1st century.

Raynaud syndrome

Raynaud syndrome, also known as Raynaud's phenomenon, is a medical condition in which spasm of arteries cause episodes of reduced blood flow. Typically, the fingers, and less commonly the toes, are involved. Rarely, the nose, ears, or lips are affected. The episodes result in the affected part turning white and then blue. Often, numbness or pain occurs. As blood flow returns, the area turns red and burns. The episodes typically last minutes, but can last several hours.Episodes are often triggered by cold or emotional stress. The two main types are primary Raynaud's, when the cause is unknown, and secondary Raynaud's, which occurs as a result of another condition. Secondary Raynaud's can occur due to a connective-tissue disorder, such as scleroderma or lupus, injuries to the hands, prolonged vibration, smoking, thyroid problems, and certain medications, such as birth control pills. Diagnosis is typically based on the symptoms.The primary treatment is avoiding the cold. Other measures include the discontinuation of nicotine or stimulants use. Medications for treatment of cases that do not improve include calcium channel blockers and iloprost. Little evidence supports alternative medicine. Severe disease may rarely be complicated by skin sores or gangrene.About 4% of people have the condition. Onset of the primary form is typically between ages 15 and 30 and occurs more frequently in females. The secondary form usually affects older people. Both forms are more common in cold climates. It is named after the French physician Maurice Raynaud, who described the condition in 1862.

Six degrees of separation

Six degrees of separation is the idea that all people are six, or fewer, social connections away from each other. As a result, a chain of "a friend of a friend" statements can be made to connect any two people in a maximum of six steps. It was originally set out by Frigyes Karinthy in 1929 and popularized in an eponymous 1990 play written by John Guare. It is sometimes generalized to the average social distance being logarithmic in the size of the population.

The dress

The dress is a photograph that became a viral internet sensation on 26 February 2015, when viewers disagreed over whether the dress pictured was coloured black and blue, or white and gold. The phenomenon revealed differences in human colour perception, which have been the subject of ongoing scientific investigations into neuroscience and vision science, with a number of papers published in peer-reviewed science journals.

The photo originated from a washed-out colour photograph of a dress posted on the social networking service Tumblr. Within the first week after the surfacing of the image, more than 10 million tweets mentioned the dress, using hashtags such as #thedress, #whiteandgold, and #blackandblue. Although the actual colour was eventually confirmed as blue and black, the image prompted many discussions, with users debating their opinions on the colour and how they perceived the dress in the photograph as a certain colour. Members of the scientific community began to investigate the photo for fresh insights into human color vision.

The dress itself, which was identified as a product of the retailer Roman Originals, experienced a major surge in sales as a result of the incident. The retailer also produced a one-off version of the dress in white and gold as a charity campaign.

Unidentified flying object

An unidentified flying object (UFO) is an object observed in the sky that is not readily identified. Most UFOs are later identified as conventional objects or phenomena. The term is widely used for claimed observations of extraterrestrial spacecraft.

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