Electronic Voice Phenomena

EVP or Electronic Voice Phenomena is a term used to describe the reported discovery of voices or other attempts at communication unintentionally captured in otherwise normal audio recordings or recordings intentionally sought in radio static or ambient recorded background noise.

Usually audio recordings need to be filtered and manipulated to separate put the suggested EVP or extra-sensitive or specially prepared recording equipment needs to be used.

It has long been thought that paranormal events could be registered using  recording equipment. The great spiritualist movement at the end of the nineteenth century coincided with the discovery and use of radio and audio devices. Thomas Edison himself theorised about the kind of audio equipment that might be needed to communicate with the dead.

It has been pointed out, however, that the amount of preparation and interpretation that EMP commonly require means that almost any meaning could be ascribed to the recordings in question and that equipment itself can ioften produce noises that can be heard as human voices.

Most often the phenomena are ascribed to a kind of pareidolia – the natural human tendency to find patterns in random events and, more particularly, the way that people tend to see human faces and hear voices in otherwise innocuous images or sounds.

EMF explained

An electromagnetic field is a property of space through which an electric charge is in motion. A motionless electric charge will produce an electric field in its surrounding area, while a charge in motion will also produce a complementary magnetic field.
An electromagnetic field can be see as the product of the interaction between electric and magnetic fields, but as having an existence in space independent of is related charges or currents.

Fluctuations of an electromagnetic field over time are called electromagnetic radiation which manifests itself over a large range of frequencies, from Extremely Low Frequencies (ELF), produced by, say household current, through radio waves, up to visible light and beyond into such radiation as X and Gamma Rays.

Humans spend their entire lives surrounded by electromagnetic fields, whether static – the Earth’s magnetic field, for example – or dynamic (electromagnetic radiation) – the light from the Sun.

As the two examples above suggest the majority of background EMFs we encounter are liable to be of a natural source. Any strong – energetic – fields that we are subjected to are likely to be of an anthropogenic origin, produced, in some way, through human agency. This can be anything from a kettle, a computer monitor or a microwave over up to lasers and X-rays.

EMF monitors

The electromagnetic field detectors are capable of detecting electric fields between 0 and 1000 V/m (volts/meter) and magnetic fields up to 1000 milliGauss. In practise the detectors will be looking for fields in the bottom one percent of this range – between 0 and 10 on both scales.

The monitors have been designed to eliminate as much background ‘noise’ as possible – particularly strong anthropogenic fields that might produce false positive readings -the domestic current is still connected and the house is full of electrical equipment.

It is claimed by ‘ghost-hunters’ that paranormal events are associated with electromagnetic fields of certain strength – most particularly static magnetic fields between 2 and 7 milliGauss in strength. This is sometimes combined with any indications of electric field over the natural background occurrences of 1 or 2 V/m.

The monitors will be specifically looking for readings in this allegedly significant range, with the aim of assembling a picture of anomalous electromagnetic activity throughout the house and eventually relating this to reports and experiences of a paranormal nature.

What is a ghost?

We all have a very clear idea of what a ghost looks like: a pale apparition that looks something like old man Wilkins from the fairground with a sheet draped over his head. But this description rarely if ever fits what is experienced in claimed paranormal encounters. What exactly do we mean when we talk about ghosts?

The most common understanding is that they are phantoms or visions of dead people glimpsed by the living. This is often understood to present some kind of afterlife, some way in which human consciousness or presence can persist after death. On the other hand it may instead suggest that there is communication not across the boundary of life and death but rather across time, that it is possible for those in the present to get a glimpse of some moment in the past, or vice versa. Certainly stories in which are visited by phantoms of the living, visions of relatives and friends in moments of distress or danger, suggest that such communication might be possible across space, if not time.

Some of these ideas might be related to current evolving theories of the quantum brain and the implicatons of quantum physics when applied to consciousness. There is even some implication that consciousness may persist beyond the physical brain, providing another possible explanation for life after death.

Quantum physics also implies the many worlds theory of multiple universes, splintering off at each moment of subatomic decision. Rather than glimpses of the past, could what we call hauntings be glimpses of another, alternate universe alongside our own?

Equally the multiple dimensions that apparently comprise our own universe culd provide yet another explanation: what might a fifth dimensional event look like to us – could it have a side-effect on the fabric of space time that might look like a haunting to us, down here in our three dimensions? Could these phenomena even be attempts at cross-dimensional communication?

Of course, traditional religion and ancient cultures might suggest that they are communication from a very different kind of being: from spirits or what the monotheisms might call demons. But the answer might equally lie closer to home. It has been suggested that it may be that some places have a unique sensitivity. That a place may be able to ‘record’ the events that take place there, ‘recordings’ that will then replay to human witnesses under the right conditions, as ghosts.

And even more simply it may just be that some places are intrinsically ‘haunted’, that they have some property, a peculiarity of electro-magnetic field, or subterreanean running water or a particular geography, that has an effect on the human mind, that affects our senses in away that we call ghostly.

What remains is that many of these possible explanations are open to scientific enquiry that might one day be able to answer the question: ‘What is a ghost?’

The investigation: EMF detectors

The aim is to investigate the accounts of paranormal activity in The Maze House. Given the absence of the homeowners the investigators have an unparalleled opportunity to conduct a long and thorough examination of the house.

In addition to a simple investigation of the house by the team, the project will have a more technical aspect. As part of an attempt to examine in depth the physical attributes of a paranormal manifestation the team have positioned throughout the house a number of electromagnetic field monitors.

According to ghost hunters paranormal events are associated with field fluctuations between 2 and 7 milligauss in strength. The monitors will be put into position over the next few weeks and then will be in operation continuously – logging data for every second of the day.

It is hoped that analysis of the data will eventually enable the team to build a complete picture of electromagnetic fields throughout the house and then compare these to any observed paranormal phenomena for any correlation between the two.

The team will also be using the EMF monitors as ‘detectors’ – looking for any significant reading and examining those areas that give them for ‘paranormal’ activity or states.