SGHA Articles

Expanding knowledge through disseminating information.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this page are strictly those of the page authors. The contents of this page have been reviewed or approved by the Southwest Ghost Hunter's Association. All effort has been taken to maintain correct information at the time it was written. Some material may be dated and is archived within this section of our website. This article is copyright, 2004 by Cody Polston, Bob Carter and SGHA. All rights reserved.

 Articles ~ Hypothesis and Science articles ~ Electromagnetism for Ghost Hunters

Electromagnetism is a large, encompassing theory, so itís no wonder that many people do not understand it because we cannot see it, feel it or even taste it. A basic book on it will almost immediately dive into calculus and advanced mathematics. However there is a lot of information pertained to electromagnetism that a ghost hunter should know about.

Visible light is a complex phenomenon that is classically explained with a simple model based on propagating rays and wavefronts. Electromagnetic radiation, the larger family of wave-like phenomena to which visible light belongs (also known as radiant energy), is the primary vehicle through which energy travels through space. The mechanisms by which visible light is emitted or absorbed by substances, and how it predictably reacts under varying conditions as it travels through space and the atmosphere, is the basis behind what colors our universe.

The term "electromagnetic radiation" is based on the characteristic electric and magnetic properties common to all forms of this wave-like energy, as manifested by the generation of both electrical and magnetic oscillating fields. Visible light represents only a small portion of the entire spectrum of electromagnetic radiation, which extends from high-frequency cosmic and gamma rays through X-rays, ultraviolet light, infrared radiation, and microwaves, down to very low frequency long-wavelength radio waves.

An electromagnetic wave moves or propagates in a direction that is at right angles to the vibrations of both the electric and magnetic oscillating field vectors, carrying energy from its radiation source to an undetermined final destination. The two fields are mutually perpendicular. By convention, and to simplify illustrations, the vectors representing the electric and magnetic oscillating fields of electromagnetic waves are often omitted, although they are understood to still exist.

Every form of electromagnetic radiation, including visible light, oscillates in a periodic fashion with peaks and valleys, and displays a characteristic amplitude, wavelength, and frequency that together define the direction, energy, and intensity of the radiation.

The standard unit of measure for all electromagnetic radiation is the magnitude of the wavelength (in a vacuum), which is usually reported in terms of nanometers for the visible light portion of the spectrum. Each nanometer represents one-thousandth of a micrometer, and is measured by the distance between two successive peaks (see Figure 2). The corresponding frequency of the radiation wave, the number of sinusoidal cycles (oscillations or complete wavelengths) that pass a given point per second, is proportional to the reciprocal of the wavelength. Frequency is usually measured in Hertz (Hz) or cycles per second (cps). Thus, longer wavelengths correspond to lower frequency radiation and shorter wavelengths correspond to higher frequency radiation.

Visible light displays wave-like properties, but it also exhibits particle-like properties that are manifested by entities that possess energy and momentum (but no mass), which are referred to as photons.

The atom is the source of all forms of electromagnetic radiation, whether visible or invisible. Higher energy forms of radiation, such as gamma waves and X-rays, are produced by events that occur to disrupt the nuclear stability of the atom. Radiation having lower energy, such as ultraviolet, visible, and infrared light, as well as radio and microwaves, originate from the electron clouds that surround the nucleus.

These forms of radiation occur due to fact that electrons moving in orbits around the nucleus of an atom are arranged in different energy levels within their probability distribution functions. Many of the electrons can absorb additional energy from external sources of electromagnetic radiation (see Figure 3), which results in their promotion to an inherently unstable higher energy level.
Eventually, the electron loses the extra energy by emitting electromagnetic radiation of lower energy and, in doing so, the electron falls back into its original and stable energy level. The energy of the emitted radiation equals the energy that was originally absorbed by the electron minus other small quantities of energy lost through a number of secondary processes. Electromagnetic radiation energy levels can vary to a significant degree depending upon the energy of source electrons or nuclei.

There are two general types of Electromagnetism, AC (alternating current) and DC (direct current). Understanding the difference between these two types is very vital because electromagnetic fields, like electricity, can be AC or DC.

Alternating current or AC electricity is the type of electricity commonly used in homes and businesses throughout the world. While the flow of electrons through a wire in direct current (DC) electricity is continuous in one direction, the current in AC electricity alternates in direction. The back-and-forth motion occurs between 50 and 60 times per second, depending on the electrical system of the country. AC is created by an AC electric generator, which determines the frequency. What is special about AC electricity is that the voltage in can be readily changed, thus making it more suitable for long-distance transmission than DC electricity. But also, AC can employ capacitors and inductors in electronic circuitry, allowing for a wide range of applications. AC electricity was proven to be better for supplying electricity than DC, primarily because the voltages can be transformed.

The important thing to remember with AC electricity and electromagnetic fields is that they are man made in nature. They do not exist naturally.
Direct current or DC electricity is the continuous movement of electrons from an area of negative (-) charges to an area of positive (+) charges through a conducting material such as a metal wire. Whereas static electricity sparks consist of the sudden movement of electrons from a negative to positive surface, DC electricity is the continuous movement of the electrons through a wire.

A DC circuit is necessary to allow the current or steam of electrons to flow. Such a circuit consists of a source of electrical energy (such as a battery) and a conducting wire running from the positive end of the source to the negative terminal. Electrical devices may be included in the circuit. DC electricity in a circuit consists of voltage, current and resistance. The flow of DC electricity is similar to the flow of water through a hose.

The earth produces electromagnetic fields, mainly in the form of static fields, similar to the fields generated by DC electricity. Electric fields are produced by air turbulence and other atmospheric activity. The earth's magnetic field of about 500 mg is thought to be produced by electric currents flowing deep within the earth's core. Because these fields are static rather than alternating, they do not induce currents in stationary objects as do fields associated with alternating current. Such static fields can induce currents in moving and rotating objects.

Most of us, aka ghost hunters will tell you that ghosts are believed to emit some kind of electromagnetic field, so called EMF. However, when asked why they believe this, many cannot give a good scientific answer because When it comes to using EMF detectors, may folks have no clue on how to use them properly or the ability to determine man-made sources such as (AC), which is alternating current, from natural ones (DC), which is direct current.

The problem is amplified by the fact that most meters are calibrated at 60Hz AC, the same frequency as household wiring and other man-made electrical systems. They were not designed for what we are using them for, such as paranormal research.

So why are ghost hunters concerned about electromagnetic fields to begin with?

We must first take a look at the ghost in the human machine, the conscious of the mind. Professor McFadden from the School of Biomedical and Life Sciences at the University of Surrey in the UK believes our conscious mind could be an electromagnetic field. His theory may solve many previously intractable problems of consciousness and could have profound implications for our concepts of mind, spirituality and even life and death.

There are wide differences in the concepts of consciousness, which are prevalent among biologists, psychologists, and sociologists. The threefold meaning of consciousness comes from the Latin word 'con-scio': a) to cut, b) to make a distinction and c) to know.

There are three different ways to know the difference -- 'con-scientia':

1) Through genetic bio-reactive knowledge,
2) Through personal self-reflexive knowledge, and,
3) Through social, consensually validated knowledge.

Most people consider "mind" to be all the conscious things that we are aware of. However this is not quite accurate. The majority of mental activity occurs without awareness. Actions such as peddling a bicycle or walking can become as automatic as breathing. The biggest puzzle in neuroscience is how the brain activity that we're aware of (consciousness) differs from the brain activity of all of those unconscious actions.

The human brain is a symphony of electromagnetic signals, but science has had trouble finding the conductor of the symphony. One of the problems that neurologists have with consciousness is called the binding problem. The best way to explain the binding problem is to use the analogy of a tree. A tree seems to contain thousands of leaves, all of which are contained on several branches. Neurobiology tells us that the information contained in the mind (all the leaves) is dissected and scattered among millions of widely separated neurons. The binding problem is encountered when science tries to explain where in the brain all those leaves are stuck together to form the conscious impression of a whole tree.

How does our brain bind information to generate consciousness? The data does not seem to add up and our symphony conductor is once again missing.

Through his research, Professor McFadden realized that every time a nerve fires, the electrical activity sends a signal to the brain's electromagnetic field. However, unlike solitary nerve signals, information that reaches the brain's electromagnetic field is automatically bound together with all the other signals in the brain.

The brain's electromagnetic field does the binding that is characteristic of consciousness. Conscious information processing is associated with the EM component of ultra low frequency (ULF) brainwaves in either:

a) Dialectically "denser" parts of the brain in the normal awake state of consciousness; or
b) a gaseous ionic structure in the vicinity of the mind.

This is why we aka ghost hunters look at EM fields. It is the basis of life itself (a great book on the subject that I'd recommend for ghost hunters is ďThe electromagnetic origins of life" by Dr. Becker). The brain's EM field is the only possible thing that could survive bodily death.

EEG and the brain's state
EEG (Electroencephalography) technology is used to measure brain's electrical vibrations from the surface of the scalp. The resulting EEG pattern will contain frequency elements mainly below 30Hz. The frequencies are categorized into four states as follows:

Delta 0.5Hz - 4Hz high (up to 200uV) Deep sleep
Theta 4Hz - 8Hz low (5uV - 20uV) Drowsiness (also first stage of sleep)
Alpha 8Hz - 14Hz high (up to 200uV) Relaxed but alert
Beta 14Hz - 30Hz low (less than 10uV) Highly alert and focused

The dominant frequency in the EEG pattern determines what is called the current state of the brain. If the amplitude of the alpha range frequencies is highest, the brain is said to be in the alpha stage. Note that other frequencies still occur; it is not meaningful to give any exact frequency your brain is "operating on."

So what happens at death? Using the first law of thermodynamics there are several possibilities. First, all that energy could transform into heat and bleed out of the skull. That would also mean no afterlife, much less any possibility for ghosts. Fortunately, there are other possibilities. The EM field could also change frequency or polarity. Interestingly enough there is some data out there that suggests that the mind goes into theta waves just before death, which gives us a possibility of ghosts.

Using what data we have from neurology, we can assume that the frequency change could not exceed much more than 40Hz or so. The bottom line is that we are looking for low frequency DC EM fields. These types of fields are what we need to take a serious look at. The biggest problem with EMF detectors is that they are not giving you the most vital piece of information of the EM field, its FREQUENCY!

They can only give you the power associated with a field. There is an instrument that can give you both power levels and frequency. It's a laptop computer. We have a program from Pico technology that transforms your laptop into a spectrum analyzer. Using the proper coil or antenna, so can quickly tell if a field is manmade or not and record the data from the field onto the hard drive of the laptop.

Here is a link to a news piece we did awhile back. Towards the end of it you can see Bob using the laptop for this purpose.

EMF detectors alone are worthless tools. Tthey are not going to provide you with the data necessary to prove a theory. Why? Proceed to Part 2.

Cody Polston is the Founder and President of the Southwest Ghost Hunter's Association. Formerly an Explosive Ordnance Disposal technician, he has a varied scientific background related to that particular field. With over twenty years of ghost research, he initially started out as a skeptic before forming SGHA.

Back to SGHA articles