Is there really life after death or have people merely invented ghosts as a way to explain hallucinations in a way that provides hope for the continuation of existence beyond the grave?
Join RiPA as we take a peek at the REAL science behind ghosts.
There are a few problems with the idea of ghosts as they’ve been presented. Often the evidence comes down to a few strange photographs or eyewitness accounts, although some paranormal investigators have used advanced technology to attempt the verification of hauntings. This technology raises an important issue; if technology can detect ghosts, then ghosts should be a part of the realm of science, that is to say they can be proven or disproven using the scientific method.
So here we will attempt to see how science can cast light on the issue of ghosts. For starters, there is ghost photography. There are thousands of supposed photographs of ghosts of floating around this world. There’s a major problems with these photographs, and that is photons. As far as these photographs are concerned, there’s a common assumption that the camera can capture things that the human eye just can’t see.
Of course, the human eye and the camera lens work exactly the same way; they require photons to hit them and create chemical changes; either in rods and cones or on a light-sensitive plate. If ghosts were invisible they would either have to absorb all light or allow all light to pass through them. If light could be reflected it would hit camera lenses and human eyes in exactly the same physical way. Granted, there are parts of the light spectrum invisible to humans (such as infrared or ultraviolet), but this wouldn’t explain how ghosts can show up on closed circuit security cameras, for instance, or digital cameras which are set to capture visible light. So there could be ghost photographs, but only if ghosts are visible in the conventional way, that is, if they reflect light.
Another common occurrence in ghost reports is that the presence of a ghost, usually invisible in this case, creates a cold spot in a room, an area of lower heat. Heat is created by molecular motion, in the case of atmospheric heat, by the Brownian motion of oxygen, nitrogen and argon atoms in the air. For a ghost to affect the temperature of a space it must affect the motion of these atoms in the air. By what means could a ghost or spirit impact the relative motion of atoms in the air? In the same line of reasoning; by what means could a poltergeist manipulate the molecules of objects?
Ghosts do seem to be affected by gravity. The Earth is revolving around the Sun at a velocity of 18.5 miles per second. Thus, within five seconds after death, a spirit should be almost a hundred miles from the place of its death. After all, there is nothing tying us to this ball of rock we call a planet other than the attractive force of gravity. Not only is the Earth revolving around the Sun, but the entire Solar System is revolving around the Galaxy. If our spirits did survive after death, there should be a million mile trail of spirits following the Earth and Solar System through space. After all, gravity creates attraction between masses.
Ghosts shouldn’t have mass or at least a strong enough mass to enable them to stick to the surface of the Earth. If ghosts can pass through walls, they shouldn’t be able to adhere gravitationally to the planet’s surface. Ghosts could be compared to neutrinos, or even composed of neutrinos, which can pass through solid matter and yet have mass. Of course neutrinos have so little mass that the effects of gravity are negligible.
Now, some would maintain that ghosts do not actually adhere to a planet surface via gravity but rather that a spirit can imprint itself on a physical object. That would be why we find hauntings in particular places, such as houses. Now every place or object is made of particles; atoms, protons, electrons and neutrons.
In an atom protons and neutrons stick together via the strong nuclear force and electrons maintain their orbits via the electromagnetic force. Neutrons and protons form an atomic nucleus and electrons orbit and interact with nearby electrons in chemical processes.
If a spirit could somehow imprint itself on a physical object, it would have to somehow imprint on the atoms themselves. How could a spirit do this on what are essentially spinning spheres of energy? In what way could this information be stored and maintained?
Maintenance is an interesting topic.
Entropy ensures that closed systems go from highly ordered to less ordered states. In living organisms this does not apply because living organisms are not closed systems; they are constantly metabolizing, taking in chemicals and releasing chemicals after modifications. If a ghost or spirit is a closed system, it would quickly lose its energy. It is often stated that the human mind is composed of energy and that since energy can neither be created nor destroyed that the human mind can thus never be destroyed. This is not the case; energy cannot be destroyed, but it can be transformed into less usable forms. The energy from oil is transformed into mechanical energy in a car, but most of that is lost in an unusable form; heat. Ghosts should be losing energy constantly in order to maintain their information, i.e. the personality of the individual. This energy should be detectable.
If ghosts are not closed systems, as would probably be necessary for their continued existence, then they must take in energy. How would a ghost take in energy and how would a ghost transform that into a form that is capable of maintaining the information of personality? If a ghost were to take in energy, then most of that energy would be lost in the conversion and ghosts, like any open system, would radiate and hence be detectable.
All matter in the universe radiates energy due to chemical changes within the atoms and particles themselves. This raises and important issue; what exactly are ghosts, physically speaking? Paranormal researchers have coined terms like “ectoplasm” to describe the spiritual construct. From properties described, it would seem that ghosts would most likely be composed of matter in a plasma state. Usually matter in a plasma state, such as the hydrogen in our Sun, is found at incredibly high temperatures. Perhaps there is some some sort unknown cold plasma forming our spirits.
Some would argue that ghosts and spirits are formed of energy, a spiritual energy, that we do not yet understand. Of course, this could be true, science does not yet have all the answers, but as long as a phenomenon is detectable, recordable and verifiable under controlled conditions then it falls within the realm of science.
If ghosts are real then they are a part of our universe and a physical phenomenon. In that case the scientific method will enable us to unravel the mystery. If the existence of ghosts cannot be disproven then they are a religious phenomenon and outside the realm of science and human understanding. Either way, we will never tire of ghosts both for their mystery and their ability to make us ponder the otherworldly.
In : Science
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