Mother Nature’s Effects On Your Paranormal Investigation – Part 1
During your paranormal investigation or ghost hunting activities you may have experienced man made interference during your paranormal investigation. Such things as construction, a local radio communications tower, appliances, electricity, your other devices, among many other things can interfere with your investigation. What I haven’t seen discussed on paranormal televisions shows very often, if at all, is how natural situations provided by mother nature, can affect your paranormal investigation. Over the next four blog posts and podcast episodes I will discuss a bunch of these situations so they can be taken into account when performing a science based paranormal investigation. Some of this material is from previous blog entries and podcasts that I have produced in the past.
Lightning – The Oxford Dictionary defines lightning as “the occurrence of a natural electrical discharge of very short duration and high voltage between a cloud and the ground or within a cloud, accompanied by a bright flash and typically also thunder.” In the United States the power available in a standard electrical outlet is typically 120 volts and 15 amps, unless it is an outlet rated at higher amperage for large appliances. Comparatively a typical bolt of lightning consists of 3 million volts and 30 thousand amps. When a bolt of lightning is created there is electromagnetic spillover across much of the electromagnetic spectrum including radio frequencies. Due to this lightning can cause bursts of loud static noise to appear on audio recordings and cause readings to appear on electromagnetic field readers. The resulting sonic boom (thunder) can also be easily picked up on audio recorders. If the lightning is close by the reverberations from the thunder can easily cause vibrations in the location of your investigation, setting off motion sensors and seismometers. In addition the same storm can cause infrasound and Schumann Resonances which can influence your investigation, which brings us to our next topic.
Vibroacoustic Phenomenon including Infrasound & Schumann Resonances – Vibroacoustic Phenomenon is a situation where vibration and sound combine and influences physiology. Infrasound is the barely audible low-frequency sound that humans can’t hear. It can be caused by man made objects and also by natural phenomenon. The ionosphere is a region of Earth’s atmosphere that ranges from 30 to 250 miles above the surface of the Earth. The ionosphere has what is known as a anisotropic current, which means a current that varies in magnitude when measured from a different direction. An example of anisotropic would be sliding your hand along a beam of wood. If you go with the grain it will feel much smoother and have less resistance. If you go against the grain of the wood it will feel rougher and have more resistance. The situation is similar with the electrical conductivity of the Earth’s ionosphere. It varies with the differentiating direction of conductivity flow. This behavior of the ionosphere causes a closed waveguide to be present between the ionosphere and the surface of the Earth. An everyday day example of a closed waveguide would be the coaxial cable that brings the television programming from your satellite dish to your cable box inside of the house. While that example is one that is made by mankind, the closed waveguide between the Earth’s surface and the ionosphere is one found naturally in nature. Due to the Earth’s shape having limited dimension there is a resulting action where the Earth-ionospheric waveguide acts as a resonant cavity. A resonant cavity is a location where electromagnetic or mechanical energy oscillates at a higher amplitude than the surrounding area, meaning that electromagnetic radiation flowing through a resonant cavity is stronger for certain frequencies than it is for others. So to simply everything there is a phenomenon caused by a naturally caused situation between the Earth’s surface and the ionosphere where there is amplification of certain electromagnetic frequencies that is greater than other frequencies. These frequencies are known the Schumann Resonance. These frequencies are within the Extremely Low Frequency band which ranges from 3hz to 60hz. Both infrasound and Schumann Resonances have been found to have an effect on the human nervous system and can cause perceived paranormal activity. The Earth’s magnetic field is also capable of creating Schumann Resonances. The ability of the atmosphere and magnetic field to produce Schumann Resonances are known as natural ELF. ELF stands for Extremely Low Frequency which consists of frequencies between 3hz and 30hz.
The human ear can generally hear within the range of 20hz to 20,000hz. Sound frequencies between 0hz and 20hz are called infrasound. Although it is rare, some humans can hear down to 18hz. The Schumann Resonance frequencies are 7.83 Hz (fundamental), 14.3, 20.8, 27.3 and 33.8 Hz. Two of those frequencies fall below a human’s ability to hear them. A side note is that elephants, rhinoceros and hippopotami can hear infrasound and use it to communicate when in large herds. Now you are asking what do Schumann Resonance have to do with my investigation? Due to the increased amplitude of the frequencies that I mentioned earlier that are below the level that a human ear can hear, it can do one or more of a few things. Firstly, it can create additional interference and electric noise with your devices. While I always use a Faraday cage on my voice recorder, I strongly suggest that they are used if investigating during a storm. Secondly, there is the possibility for a greatly increased level of infrasound which can affect the people conducting the investigation. Be aware that there may be spikes of infrasound at 7.83hz and 14.3hz which you can not hear, which doesn’t include the additional infrasound caused by thunder itself. For those sensitive it can cause strange sensations that could be misperceived as paranormal. Symptoms of infrasound sensitivity include vertigo, imbalance, disorientation, nausea, vomiting, bowel spasm, resonances in the inner organs, and other intolerable sensations. There is equipment available to receive infrasound and give it a display read out on a laptop. To purchase the device you are looking at spending around $350 and a compatible laptop and included software is necessary. The device does not work by itself without a laptop. However, if found there isn’t really anything that you can do to prevent infrasound & Schumann Resonances from interacting with your investigation, but it is important to be aware of them during a paranormal investigation and not mistake the results of them as something paranormal.
Helmholtz Resonance – This is sound caused by wind passing over a narrow opening such as a slightly open window or door, a glass bottle top, the space between the bottom of an emergency light bar and the roof on an emergency vehicle, etc. It can cause spooky sounds and if below 20 hertz and can cause symptoms of infrasound exposure. These sounds can be misinterpreted as paranormal activity and/or can make you waste valuable time trying to find the cause of the noises in the dark. What can you do about it? During your pre-investigation walk through when it is light outside look for anything that can cause a Helmholtz Resonance such as a cracked window or door, a hole in the side of the building or a nearby shed or garage, a hole in a kid’s outside play set, a hole in a fence pole, or even water splashing off of objects. An object near an air vent could cause a Helmholtz Resonance. Do your best to recognize potential culprits for this noise when it is light outside, so if such spooky sounds arise when it is dark you can find them. If able to you can close windows, or cover holes that can cause the noise with temporary tape such as electricians tape which removes easily without leaving residue. If you do hear this type of sound during your investigation keep in mind to not jump to conclusions that it has to be paranormal because it would be more enjoyable if it is. Keep in mind the possibility of Helmholtz Resonances and follow up as such, so you don’t misinterpret natural sounds as paranormal activity.
Humidity – We all know what humidity is. It is the water vapor that is in the atmosphere (or a gas) around us. For most people increased humidity helps to keep the nasal passages moisturized which allows for easier breathing. Humidity can make a hot day seem unbearably uncomfortable, which is why during warmer weather some people will use a dehumidifier to remove water vapor from the air in their house. An air conditioner also acts as a dehumidifier. During the winter more people will use humidifiers to add water vapor to the air in their house to aid in breathing. At my house I have a cast iron wood stove that I use in the winter to help heat the house as the cost of wood is much less expensive than the oil that it takes to run my furnace. During the day the wood stove heats the house and at night the furnace takes over after the fire has gone out when I am sleeping. On top of the wood stove we have a big cast iron pot with large holes in the cover that we keep filled with water as the heat from the stove evaporates the water and saves us from having to run additional humidifiers to keep the air in the house humidified when the furnace and wood stove naturally dry out the air. How can humidity play a role in a paranormal investigation? Do you use a laser grid or cameras? Higher humidity can cause visual vapor to form which you can see yourself, or may catch on a camera, or seen with a laser grid. On most videos that you see online or on “Caught on camera” paranormal television shows the person filming the video or the narrator jumps to the conclusion that the vapor has to be a paranormal entity, and you typically don’t see them walk in with a portable meteorological device which are extremely inexpensive to measure the humidity in the room. Humidity can cause an increase in appearance of photographic orbs in the room, which aren’t paranormal to begin with, but to this day due to the Availability Cascade, meaning misinformation has been passed on by many people and adopted by many as fact, even when it is false, some people still believe that photographic orbs are paranormal in nature when they are not. A photographic orb, also known as backscatter, in this case is caused by a light source and reflective unfocused particles that are near the camera. Light appears much brighter very near the source due to the inverse-square law, which says light intensity is inversely proportional to the square of the distance from the source. The small object flying by the camera is out of focus compared to the rest of the image giving it a larger foggy reflective appearance. An orb is caused by anything from dust, humidity, snow, rain, molecules of liquid, insects, pollen, animal dander, or plant life just to name a few. These particles may be free floating or resting upon the camera lens. These artifacts in photos are very common and very often misinterpreted as something paranormal due to misinformation that has been propagated over the years, particularly on paranormal television shows.
The Orb phenomena was fueled in the mid to late 1990’s by “Dr.” Dave Oester whose Yahoo! Groups page boasted thousands of followers. Oester claimed that he coined the term “Orb” and took credit for creating the hysteria, although both claims are completely incorrect. Photographic/video orbs have been documented since photography gained quick shutter speeds and a flash. The hysteria was already there before he fueled it as he utilized the popular misconceptions and just added a few of his own to gain notoriety for himself. He claimed that Orbs were in fact ghosts and that they could easily be captured anywhere and anytime. He was a major advocate of ghost hunting in cemeteries since it was popular with new people and would add followers to his Yahoo group by making these claims. After being brought to school by many skeptics and Parapsychologists he quickly jumped ship and stopped what he was doing. Unfortunately it was too late. There is something called the Availability Cascade which is where false information gets propagated around by various sources and in the end a large amount of people adopt it as fact, when in reality it isn’t the truth.
A real electromagnetic based orb of any kind would be self illuminating and perceivable as an object free floating and projecting its own light whether or not it is in range of the electromagnetic spectrum that we are able to perceive with our eyes. One type of orb that would be visible to the naked eye that produces its own light would be one of plasma. There are four forms of matter as recognized by the scientific community. These forms of matter are liquid, solid, gas, and plasma. A plasma orb would be would be very visible to the naked eye and would be very brief in tenure, and only occur under certain circumstances.
Orbs on cameras and video are not paranormal, unlike what is commonly believed due to the Availability Cascade.
In higher humidity condensation can also build up on the lenses of optical equipment which can make the image appear out of focus, you may see what appears to be a stationary mist, or the condensation can collect dust particles in the air, all of which can affect the quality of your video footage. Our own breath can cause mist clouds in a room with little air movement.
In many houses, especially older ones, higher humidity can cause construction materials to make more noises such as creaking or moaning.
On the next episode entitled Mother Nature’s Effects On Your Paranormal Investigation – Part 2 we will discuss other natural situations and phenomena from the cosmos that can affect a paranormal investigation.