Assume ghosts exist.

You wouldn’t be alone if you did.  Nearly 48% of Americans believe in the supernatural and over 20% have claimed to have been in contact with or felt the presence of an entity.  These are not crackpots or whackjobs.  These people, like it or not, are part of a growing and statistically relevant population.

Now, if only for a moment, assume that the supernatural defies its own definition.  The terms “supernatural” and “paranormal” are explicitly characterized as being outside nature and not explainable by science.  By this valid method of reasoning, much of what we now know about our world would have at one time lived in the realm of the “supernatural.”  Before the practice of science became standardized and empirically based, things such as fire, magnetism, gravity, and childbirth were considered to be works of the gods or unexplainable phenomena that humans could not comprehend.

The great philosopher Plato had a unique way of explaining the unknown; the gist could be described as thus: Imagine yourself chained tightly in a cave.  Your entire reality exists only upon the wall directly in front of you and you have zero concept of the outside world.  Now, imagine shadow figures beginning to move and dance upon your wall.  Would you not accept those shadows as reality?  What set of experiences would allow you to be sure that those shadows were merely reflections of reality and not reality itself?  Simply put, Plato argues that humans believe what they see, and until given the necessary framework or context, will assume that what is true now will be true later.  Those shadows passed the scientific sniff test - they were observable and predictable.  That is, until you are released from your subterranean bondage and quickly realize your folly - those shadows are merely the likenesses of real humans passing in front of a large fire at the mouth of the cave. 


History is littered with myths that become appropriated or absorbed by other myths and scientific truths that are superseded by more modern and useful “truths.”  Humans, unfortunately, are fallible and have never had a monopoly on the truth.  It’s not to say that we haven’t done our best – we have – but it’s really hard to hit a moving target.

What are ghosts?

Most people tend to believe that ghosts are the disembodied spirits of deceased people.  The very essence of what makes us human can live on past the expiration date of the body, and for whatever reason, that consciousness has decided to stick around.  It’s an extremely ethnocentric point of view (helps explain why we don’t see ghosts of cute squirrels running around), but many ghost sightings can be tied to a distinct and very deceased human being.  The always-popular Law Of Conservation of Energy states that energy is neither created nor destroyed, it can only change from one form to another.  Further, we as humans are essentially walking power plants (we produce about 120 watts of power at rest).  So what happens when we die?  Where does that energy go?  Surely, much of it (if not all) escapes as heat and all we’re left with is a cold (and hopefully beautiful) corpse.  But what if some the energy is not converted to heat?  What if that human “spark” decides to hang out with the living for a while longer?

Why are they around?

There are two prevailing theories about this:  ghosts have either chosen to stick around or they are literally imprinted or recorded into their surroundings.  Why would they choose to stick around?  Unfinished business, anger, tragic death, or fear of crossing over are the usual answers given by experts who have supposedly been in communication with the other side.  How can they be recorded?  It’s easiest to think of a VHS cassette.  Images and audio are electromagnetically transferred to a physical material (the tape).  That media, when played back, shows you a moment in time that no longer exists.  Some people believe that certain locations have enough electromagnetic potential to “record” this moment in time.  These types of hauntings are merely playback from an unintentional recording device.  

How do they manifest?

If you’ve happened to ignore scientific journals, say for the last 150 years or so, you might be surprised to find out that ambient energy is pretty much everywhere you look. You probably shouldn’t be surprised then that the dominant theory behind ghost manifestation is the manipulation of this energy.  Usually in the form of electromagnetic energy, it’s a physical (albeit invisible) field that affects the behavior of charged objects around it.  Many experts in paranormal science believe that entities can take advantage of the electromagnetic field (EMF) in order to show themselves, move objects, or make their voices heard.



Sounds great, right?  Still doesn’t explain how we see them.  So, let’s talk about plasma physics for a moment.  Plasma is a unique form of gas, that when ionized, becomes electrically conductive and highly sensitive to electromagnetic fields.  Some popular forms of plasma include fire, lightning, the northern lights, and our sun.  Further, the majority of the universe consists of plasma (all the stars and the big spaces between them). Plasmas have the ability to organize around an EMF, but like a flame, they also have the ability to glow and form shapes (see the image on the left).

If ghost manifestations could be reduced down to a single equation, it might look something like this: disembodied ball of energy (or recordable substrate) + strong electromagnetic field + excited plasma gas = ghost.  Obviously, this equation has a gigantic chance of being completely incorrect, but it’s important to understand that the unknown is only unknown because humans haven’t cracked its code.

An Interesting Disclaimer

There is a growing amount of evidence (provided by skeptics AND believers) that suggests hauntings and/or personal paranormal experiences tend to occur in areas with strong levels of electromagnetic energy.  These fields can be produced naturally by the earth (DC) or artificially by man-made electricity (AC). That means if you live by a fault line, near high-voltage power lines, or you have a poorly wired house, you might have a vested interest.

Various studies have concluded the increased EMF exposure to the brain can lead to significant and temporary changes in brain wave patterns.  Simply put, high levels of EMF can affect how and what you’re thinking.  Researchers have, in laboratory settings, subjected patients to high levels of EMF exposure.  Those patients reported intense feelings of dread, the sense of being watched, and shadow figures moving around the room. Food for thought...


Final Thoughts

Supernatural science is a burgeoning field filled with smart and serious researchers intent on utilizing the powers of science to prove or disprove the existence of ghosts.  There is nary a soul on this planet that is not somewhat interested in what really happens to us after we die.  Whether we ascend into the arms of our maker, become high-protein worm food, or spend eternity as a little orb waiting to manifest, we can all agree that the human mystery will not be explained on a cave wall anytime soon.