Tales of supernatural beings have scared and entertained us in equal measure for thousands of years. Perhaps the most ubiquitous of all these beings is the ghost.
The concept of ghosts is so popular and widespread that it even lends its name to the scary tales we tell: “Ghost Stories”.
With science and technology ever advancing, we look at some modern explanations for these timeless apparitions.
Research shows that electrical stimulation on different parts of the brain has dramatic effects on our perception. Subjects of experiments witnessed hallucinations, including the feeling of a ‘presence’ behind them and even near-death experiences.
Paranormal researchers have found that some purportedly haunted locations give off strange electromagnetic readings.
In something of a chicken-or-egg debate, one side claims the electromagnetism is caused by the existence of ghosts, while the other thinks it is the electromagnetism causing us to think we see ghosts.
Interestingly, due to solar winds, the Earth’s magnetic field grows on the side opposite from the sun, when it is night.
It is possible that this explains why most ghost sightings are at night, when the expansion of the magnetic field has a greater influence on our brains.
Infrasound is also known as low-frequency sound. The lower limit of human hearing is around 20 Hz, with infrasound being below that threshold.
Although we are unable to hear it, there is evidence that infrasound can have an adverse effect on humans.
The effects of infrasound were discovered by accident by a British engineer.
He and his colleagues experienced a sense of eeriness, hairs standing on end for no reason and other assorted spooky sensations while in their workplace. One night he saw a grey shape out of the corner of his eye which disappeared when he looked at it.
The engineer discovered that what they thought was a silent extractor fan was actually creating 18.98 Hz sound waves that resonated throughout the workplace. The spooky sensations and sights ceased once a new fan was installed.
In subsequent scientific studies on infrasound, test subjects reported similar sensations, such as anxiousness, fearfulness, sense of a ‘presence’ and even terror.
Infrasound could very well be an explanation for many phenomena we associate with the supernatural.
Exposure to toxins offers another possible explanation for otherworldly experiences.
Carbon monoxide poisoning was found to be the cause of one family’s supposed ‘haunting’. The family moved into an old house and experienced poltergeist-like phenomena – hearing objects moving by themselves, strange voices during the night and the sense of a ghostly presence.
The source of their ‘ghost’ was a malfunctioning furnace which was leaking carbon monoxide and causing their hallucinations.
Similarly, a research team in the US noted a correlation between supernatural experiences and hallucinations due to fungal spores. Some spores can cause irrational fear and dementia.
Old buildings are often cited as haunted locations. They are also susceptible to mould and fungal growth.
This research team has visited several buildings deemed haunted and found the presence of fungus or mould, lending credence to their theory.
These are just a few of the ways modern science has shed light on supposed supernatural encounters. In future, we might be able to answer all mysteries of this nature once and for all.