Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Flashlights versus Lightbulbs?


So, I just got off the phone with my genius father, and he clarified something as well as proposed an experiment.

The thing he clarified that I completely forgot about was the ground. A flashlight is a circuit, but there are two connections, not just one. One side is the positive charge, the other side of the circuit is the ground (where the batteries touch the back of the flashlight). One of these sides is always connected, another is always broken until you hit the switch, which completes the circuit and turns on the flashlight. He said the difference between a flashlight and a lightbulb just sitting there is that the lightbulb isn't grounded. For a spirit to light a lone lightbulb, it would have to create both the positive charge AND the ground. If a spirit were both providing charge and grounded at the same time, it would be one giant short circuit...probably wouldn't be a fun existence. So he predicts that a spirit could not light a lone lightbulb just sitting on a table. Either the positive charge OR the ground has to be given.

So which does a spirit do? Give the positive charge or complete the ground? Well, taking apart the flashlight that we used when we got spirit communication through it at Bardstown, we found that, when the flashlight is off, it is not grounded. Screwing down the cap presses the batteries against the back of the flashlight, which creates the ground, completes the circuit, and turns the flashlight on. So assuming the spirit there was turning the flashlight on by completing the circuit itself (because it wasn't turning the twist cap), it was most likely acting as a conduit for the electricity to flow, completing the circuit where the ground was missing. In this case, the spirit wouldn't have to actually give up any of its own energy, it would just have to touch both sides of the circuit at the break so that the electrons could flow through it. Basically it would mean that spirits are conductors...who knew?

That doesn't mean a spirit couldn't also give the positive charge on a circuit that was grounded. If they are made of pure energy, they should, in theory, be able to...they just can't do both at the same time.

SO we have come up with an easy way to experiment with this.

For example, if you were to take an old school lightbulb (not fluorescent or LED), wrap a wire around the metal, threaded base, or solder a wire to the base, and wrap the other end of the wire around a water pipe (water pipes are always grounded to protect against electrocution), or even just a 12 inch nail stuck in the ground, the light bulb would then be grounded. Then, the little metal piece in the center of the base is where the positive charge comes in that will actually light the bulb. Theoretically, if a spirit could light a flashlight by completing the circuit on the positive charge end, a spirit should be able to touch the light bulb at this point and light it as well. It would have to put energy into the bulb to light it.

We could also do this in reverse. Connect a light bulb to a power source via the positive end, but leave the negative side (the ground) unconnected. If the wire is sitting next to the power source, the spirit should be able to touch the wire and the negative connection on the power source, and complete the circuit. Again, the light-bulb would light. There would be a power source there, but one that is not grounded so would not be capable of lighting the lightbulb by itself. In this case, the spirit would not have to give any energy of its own, it would just have to act as a conductor for the electricity to flow through it.

So basically we'll be creating a flashlight, only with the insides totally visible. Both ways, the bulb cannot possibly be lit without some unexplained energy completing the circuit, and now no one can claim the "flashlight" has been tampered with because all of the circuitry would be perfectly visible. Also, no one can claim the "flashlight" is flickering because it is halfway between on and off. There would be no on and off switch on this. The ONLY way it could light would be to physically attach the unattached wire.

WE ARE SO DOING THIS EXPERIMENT!!!!  Please, anyone else, I invite you to try it too! Some suggestions:

- Set it up both ways. We plan to set up two bulbs with two circuits, one without a ground and one without a power source, so hopefully the spirit can show us which is easier for them and give us a little more insight about a spirit's physical make-up

- Get it on video. How angry with yourself will you be if you get it to work and you're not recording?

- Record yourself setting it up, and EXPLAIN WHAT YOU ARE DOING!!! Skeptics will be watching this and looking for any tiny mistake or cheat.

- Go to a hardware store and buy a flashlight light-bulb to use for this. Not to say it can't work on any old school light-bulb, but the bulbs for flashlights need less power, so you might get better results without losing any of the credibility (it still can't come on with out a power source).

- In your video recording, before you start, show your surroundings and the sky and make sure it's clear that there are no storms in the area. An extremely high amount of static electricity in the air may screw up this experiment, or even light the bulb. But it would have to be really high.

- If you have multiple cameras, record from multiple angles so people can see there is no power source outside the camera's view.
Original Post:

If a spirit can turn on a flashlight by putting energy into it, would it be even easier for a spirit to light a lightbulb?

So the other day I got to talking with a couple members of the C&J Paranormal Facebook Group. (If you're a paranormal investigator, check it out). It started with an article attempting to debunk the Ghost-Hunters tv show's flashlight communication, because they (according to the article, I don't know if this is true), turn the twist cap on their flashlight to right between "on" and "off" before they attempt communication. Doing this can cause what is called a "heat cycle" which will cause electrons to jump the just slightly-not-closed circuit and make the flashlight flicker on and off.

Well, first of all, if they DO turn the flashlight halfway between on and off, I think that's cheating, because heat cycles DO occur. When we had a spirit turn our flashlight on and off in Bardstown, the twist cap was turned completely off, and it was very stiff to turn. The fact is that the twist cap NEVER turned, even when the flashlight came on, which led us to believe that the spirits don't actually turn the cap or push the button...they just literally get the electrons moving and PUT the light in the flashlight, a job usually reserved for the "turn-on" mechanism (twist cap or button).

But apparently a lot of people out there are under the impression that spirits turn the twist cap or push the button to turn the flashlight on and off...and maybe they do that as well sometimes. But I feel like, for something of very little energy (see my post on how I think spirits exist), it would be much easier to get a few electrons moving than it would be to turn a cap...so why would a spirit ever bother with the mechanism that turns the flashlight on when they can literally just turn it on themselves?

The other thing we talked about is LED versus old school light bulbs. Supposedly LED is what you want because it is harder for the insides of the flashlight to be tampered with and you don't have the kind of flickering, dim possibility in between on and off. LED lights are solid state and either on or off. (At least as far as I know...if I'm wrong in that, please enlighten me)  But if the spirits are putting the energy in themselves...moving the electrons instead of the twist cap, I feel like that would be more difficult for them. If they only had so much energy, and it isn't enough to turn the LED light on, you get nothing.

Which made me wonder...has anyone ever tried, instead of a flashlight, just taking an old school lightbulb? If the spirit can put the energy directly into the flashlight, why not just give them a lightbulb to put the energy in? That way, there's no place where there could be tampering, no heat cycle possible, and even a small amount of energy, that might not be enough to turn on an LED lightbulb, can make a faint glow that will be perfectly clear in a dark room.

I've never tried this, but does anyone know of a reason that a spirit who can turn on a flashlight (not by moving the twist cap or button, but just by lighting it), COULDN'T light a regular lightbulb?  We've only had the flashlight communication occur once, but the spirit was clearly not manipulating the twist cap, so it had to be putting the energy into the flashlight, and I can't help but think a lightbulb would be even easier than a flashlight because ANY movement of electrons will show up. The more movement, the brighter the light.

Has anyone tried this, or know of anyone who has tried this? Does anyone have an reason this wouldn't work?? I'm really curious now. Our next investigation, I think I'm going to take an old-school, filament lightbulb (not the florescent or LED ones) and see if it works.  Between now and then, if anyone else does an investigation and tries it, would you please let us know how it goes?


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Spirit Photography - Orbs

The more I explore the various paranormal groups and teams that have a presence online, the more I've felt compelled to write some posts about spirit photography, which, even in the field of paranormal investigation, is a controversial subject because so many environmental factors can cause reflections which appear to us to be unexplained.

The first thing I want to address: ORBS. Because they drive me nuts.

If someone gives me a picture like the one below and says, "Look at all these orbs! This graveyard was obviously full of spirits!" I will be highly tempted to smack them.

Okay, I wouldn't resort to violence, but it would seriously frustrate me. Now, I don't have the right to say a spirit CAN'T take form of an orb in a photo...who am I to say what forms energy can take? I CAN say with absolute certainty that when light reflects off of a particle floating in the air, a bug, or anything with a reflective surface, it often creates an orb. This picture is taken outside, in the summer where bugs and pollen are prevalent, and it was taken with a flash. Any orb, no matter how pretty you think it is, has to be thrown out in that scenario. There is absolutely no way to prove it isn't a reflection. You might say, "but that bottom right one is brighter than the others and seems to cover up some of the grave its over, and it's right above a grave! That's too many coincidences!" No. No it's not. How many bugs or particles do you think are sitting on an outside grave at any given time? A lot. There is absolutely NO WAY you can argue it's not a grass spore, or a bug. Throw it out.

"Okay, so what about this one?" You say. "The long thing is obviously a reflection off the mirror, but the orb is inside, and is the only one around. Surely there's not one little pollen particle floating around."

Do you think that every particle floating around a room will reflect any time your flash goes off? If they did, your picture would be white. No, a single orb doesn't mean there is only a single particle, it just means that of all the spots in the room, that exact spot is the one that has an angle relative to the camera where the light is reflected directly back, and not at an angle. Also, notice the vent in the ceiling? Do you think maybe when the air conditioning comes on, it's going to spit out dust? Heck yea. No. DO NOT consider this orb evidence. Even if it happens to be a spirit, and it breaks your heart to not share that brave spirit's cooperation with others...you will never be able to argue against the idea that it is a reflection. Throw it out.

I will say this once. If you used a flash when taking the picture, or if there were any lights in the area, orbs just have to be thrown out as evidence. Even if you are certain that the orb is not a reflection, there is absolutely no way to prove that to others, and the point of this business is to find irrefutable proof. Orbs just can't be that. Like Lori often says, "The best an orb can ever be is a maybe." 

That all said, there is ONE scenario where I will consider an orb as evidence, and ONLY ONE. That is when you take a picture or a video in an area where there are absolutely NO LIGHTS, and your camera uses absolutely no light. No flash, nothing. Not even IR. Infrared waves can reflect as easily as visible light waves, and to a camera that detects IR, it looks exactly the same. But if there is no light, then how can light be reflecting off something?

Take this video as an example:

This video was taken in pitch black. (I lightened it some afterwards with Movie Edit Pro MX). The camera had no light on it. The one time you can't get a reflection is when there is no light to reflect, so in these circumstances, anything seen that has bright light must be producing the light itself. (And as we know, some bugs do, like fireflies, so even in this scenario we have to be careful). In the video you see three orbs. The first two, even though it is very doubtful they could be reflections, I don't get too excited about. They have no defining features, no strange movement, and probably still couldn't make a skeptic think twice. But look at the last "orb."

A reflection doesn't leave a trail unless it is moving at speeds impossible for a bug or piece of dust, and especially not when there is no light in the environment to cause a reflection.

The second reason we took this orb more seriously is because of the face that seems to appear in it. The thing about reflections, is that most of the time, they are symmetrical. Not always, but usually. This orb isn't perfectly round, but more the shape of a head. And of course, there are no lights. Remember, the only difference between an orb and apparition is the outline shape, and the details in the anomaly. This orb seems to be moving away from the "orb" category and moving toward the "apparition" category.

If the camera had a flash and we got this shape, even though it looks like a face, I would still assume that it's possible (though unlikely) for an oddly shaped bug to create this reflection. After all, people tend to see pictures in random assortments of lights (the same way we make shapes out of clouds). But given the fact that there were no lights to reflect, the orb leaves a trail, and takes the shape of a face...it made me stop and think. This I can consider evidence. But, if you present an orb as evidence under these circumstances, YOU MUST MAKE THE CIRCUMSTANCES CLEAR! 

Forgive me if this post seems preachy or pushy, but think about this. There is entire community of paranormal investigators out there trying to find evidence of the paranormal that scientists and skeptics cannot logically explain. Regardless of what you think personally, presenting evidence that can easily be explained without resorting to "someone faked it," (because let's face it, ANYTHING can be faked) hurts our overall goal. If a skeptic with some mild interest goes to do research and finds YOUR site first, where a field full of orbs is presented as evidence, you will give them a first impression that we will turn anything into something "paranormal." That we don't do our research. And for many of us, that's just not true. Don't diminish the value of those investigators that have great evidence, and don't feel bad if you DON'T get great evidence. Chances are you won't, at least not often. When you do, treasure those gems and use them as motivation to keep searching. But please don't jump to conclusions over inconclusive evidence...that's not searching for the truth, that's ignoring the truth.

That doesn't mean you can't include photos of orbs or things that you're not sure are paranormal. But please make it clear on your site that a) you do not KNOW what the anomaly is, whether paranormal or natural. b) if you do have any possible natural explanations, list them. c) open up to suggestions from other people. Experts on photography, your certain camera, light, or other subjects may have a logical explanation you don't know about.

Okay. I'm off my soapbox :)