“You hear your mom calling you into the kitchen. As you are heading down the stairs, you hear a whisper from the closet saying “Don’t go there honey, I heard it too”
This is just a short horror story but you might have heard many more. We have always been fearing ghosts or the unknown devil all our lives and some movies make the matter worse for us. But have you ever seen your ghost yourself? Your answer would be an obvious no and you would claim that a friend of your friend has actually seen one. It sounds interesting but without any proof sounds vague as well. If you are scared of ghosts and believe it could be true, this post is specifically written for you. We bring to you the scientific explanation behind everything you call supernatural and ghostly.
1. Electric Simulation of the Brain:
Have you ever seen someone copying your every move? No, We are not talking about your twin creepy brother. We are talking about the messengers of dark lord. Some call them ghostly bodies and some believe it to be astral travellers. However, scientists have a different view on that.
When Swiss scientists electrically stimulated an epileptic patient’s brain, things really started getting spooky. The patient reported a shadow person sitting behind her, copying her every move. When she sat up, it also sat up. When she bent forward and grabbed her knees, it reached around her body and held her. The doctors then told her to read a card, but the shadow person tried to take it out of her hand. No, Scientists didn’t confirm the presence of a ghost.
What happened was the scientists had stimulated the left temporoparietal junction, the part of the brain that defines the idea of self. By interfering with the area that helps us tell the difference between ourselves and others, the doctors screwed up the brain’s ability to understand its own body, thus leading to the creation of a copycat shadow person. This research could be an answer to why so many healthy people experience these kind of activities.
2. Ideomotor Effect:
Various people who are not able to cope up with the death of their loved ones try to develop various ideas that could help them talk to the deceased. One method of communication was the Ouija board. It started off as a game used by friends/family to communicate to their dead loved ones but it is still popular today. The board was covered in letters, numbers, and simple words (like “yes” or “no”). People would then place their hands on a wooden piece called a planchette and ask the spirits a question. A ghost would respond by moving the planchette from letter to letter, spelling out a response (or unleashing Captain Howdy). Another creepy method for interacting with spirits was table tilting. During a séance, people would gather round a table and place their hands on the tabletop.
Wouldn’t you be freaked out if the table starts moving by itself or starts rotating on its own? With time, people found out that Con men were involved in some of these incidents. But were all these encounters frauds? Renowned physicist Michael Faraday wanted to find out. Through clever experimentation, Faraday discovered that the tables were often moving due to the ideomotor effect. This is when the power of suggestion causes our muscles to move unconsciously. People expected a table to move so they unintentionally moved it. A similar event took place in 1853 when four doctors held an experimental séance.
When they secretly told half the participants the table would move to the right and half it would move left, the table didn’t budge. But when they told everyone it would move in one direction, the ideomotor effect struck again! This same principle applies to the Ouija board. You are the ghost here and move the table. Why are you afraid of yourself?
You don’t believe in the existence of ghosts and have planned a trip to the “ghostly” mansion in outskirts of the city with your friends. You go to a deserted room and suddenly feel a rush of cold air striking you. The temperature you feel is much colder than normal. You ask your friends but they are all normal. They didn’t feel anything cold. Have you been haunted? Should you start believing in ghosts now?
Hold your thought for a second, Scientists have a much simpler (and much more boring) explanation. When you enter visit a “haunted” house, you can find cold air entering the room through a chimney or a broken window. But your room was totally sealed off right? There is physics involved behind that too. Every object has its own temperature, and some surfaces are hotter than others. In an attempt to equalize the room temperature, the objects try to lose heat in a process called convection. This is where hot air rises, and cool air drops. Similarly, when dry air enters a humid room, the dry air sinks to the floor and the humid air rises to the ceiling. This swirling air will feel cool against a person’s skin, giving the impression of a cold spot. Next time you feel a ghostly presence, turn on the heater.
4. Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
In 1921, ophthalmologist William Wilmer published a bizarre paper in the American Journal of Ophthalmology. It told the story of the “H” family and their haunted house. Their hell home was plagued with the sounds of slamming doors, moving furniture and footsteps in empty rooms. One of the children felt something sitting on him while the other was attacked by a mysterious stranger. During the night, the woman of the house awoke to see a man and a woman standing at the foot of her bed, only to watch them vanish moments later. As the hauntings continued, the family grew tired and depressed, and then their plants started to die. It was then they discovered the faulty furnace. The furnace was supposed to send its fumes up the chimney, but instead the gas was pouring into the house. It turns out the family was suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning.
Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odourless, colourless gas, which makes it really hard to detect. It’s dangerous because our red blood cells absorb CO much easier than they absorb oxygen, and this oxygen deprivation leads to symptoms such as weakness, nausea, confusion, and eventually death. But before you kick the bucket, you might experience hallucinations, just like the “H” family. So the next time, you see something ghostly or you feel there is a spirit in your house, try to get your home checked for leaks. You might be getting spooked for no reason at all.
5. Infra sound:
After seeing a gray ghost near his desk, researcher Vic Tandy was worried his laboratory might be haunted. But the next day, Tandy made an interesting discovery. While preparing for a fencing match, Tandy placed his sword in a vise. He then noticed the blade was vibrating on its own. All of a sudden, everything clicked. He realized the force causing his sword to shake was the same force haunting his lab. Vic Tandy was dealing with infrasound.
Humans can hear sounds up to 20,000 Hertz, but we’re unable to detect anything lower than 20 Hz. These “silent” noises are called infrasound, and while we can’t hear them, we can feel them in the form of vibrations. Dr. Richard Wiseman says we can feel these waves, especially in our stomachs, and this can create either a positive feeling (such as awe) or a negative feeling (such as unease). In the right surroundings, this might create a sense of panic.
Infrasound can be produced by storms, wind, weather patterns, and even everyday appliances. Returning to Vic Tandy, after witnessing his wobbling sword, he learned that a new fan had been installed in his laboratory, and sure enough, it was issuing vibrations of about 19 Hz. Since our eyeballs have a resonant frequency around 20 Hz, the infrasound was vibrating Tandy’s eyeballs and creating images that weren’t really there. When Tandy turned off the fan, presto: no more ghost.
Similarly, Dr. Wiseman believes these vibrations are responsible for paranormal activity in “haunted” locations. For example, when investigating two underground sites, he discovered evidence of infrasound coming from the traffic overhead. Wiseman thinks this explains the ghostly figures and creepy footsteps in these areas, proving there’s nothing good about these vibrations. No you can understand why all these horror movies are filmed in terrible weather conditions.
We hope these scientific explanations provide you with a base where you can think more logically about the existence of ghosts or supernatural matter. It’s always based in your mind and the moment you think rationally, it will all be gone.