Mr. D discusses basic physics for paranormal investigators

Mr. D discusses basic physics for paranormal investigators
March 22, 2009
by Patricia Marin

You hear a lot of paranormal investigators and groups talk about “reaching out” to the scientific community. Part of the problem, though, is that scientists and paranormal investigators don’t speak the same language. If we want to be heard within the scientific community, it’s incumbent upon US to learn to speak the standard language of science; otherwise, we’ll continue to “get no respect” even if some of our findings may be worthy of further study. For example, most of us have heard orbs referred to as “collections of energy.” This is not a scientifically valid description and would be met with well-deserved ridicule by any credible scientist. But this is merely one example of scientific terms with very precise definitions that are, unfortunately, continually being mis-used by paranormal investigators and others.

The work that we are doing is venturing into unknown territory and it’s no wonder that the correct words often elude us. That’s no excuse, though, to accept oft-repeated clichés (or currently accepted methodology) as the absolute truth and the only way to investigate. Assumptions get repeated over and over again until they become generally accepted, often without any evidence whatsoever to back them up. One example I’ve heard is that “ghosts can’t lift more than ten pounds.” Huh? Where did that come from? What if your ghost is haunting a gym and working out regularly?? There are many similar examples out there.

At R.I.P., we try to choose the road less traveled and we constantly ask questions. Usually, we don’t find answers. In this field, you have to be comfortable with ambiguity. If you don’t keep asking questions, you get stale and sloppy. Our goal is to amass enough data to begin forming theories and then continuously test them until, over time, we get closer and closer to understanding at least some aspects of the “truth” about paranormal activities.

We are fortunate to have a physicist in our group, Mr. D, who constantly challenges our assumptions. In response to a reader’s question, I recently asked him to talk about “energy” and what it really means. Here is his response:


The term energy is used by a physicist to mean a very specific quantifiable attribute of the world around us. See more at But to answer the question Yasmin raised, a so-called “orb” - as it is referred to in the paranormal community - could be a plasma confined to a small volume of physical space or an aggregate of particles which emit heat and or light. In a sense, that is a collection of energetic atomic particles and could be inaccurately referred to as a “collection of energy.” However, it’s important to understand that it is not a collection of energy, but rather a collection of particles which are moving at very high velocity and, therefore, possess kinetic energy.

Sometimes energy is defined as an “ability to do work” and by "work" a physicist means moving against a force through a distance. To a physicist, though, the term “a collection of energy” is a meaningless concept. The term "energy" should be viewed as describing a bit more subtle concept. To reiterate, energy is NOT a material thing you can hold in your hand like a collection of marbles; instead, it’s an abstract quantitative concept which relates to motion of objects in space and forces which oppose or promote the motion. So, in terms of Yasmin’s question, there is no evidence for energy forming into small spherical objects and never can be any, as the term energy is an abstraction.

Some have referred to ball lightning as evidence of possible ‘ghost’ sightings and this may be part of the thinking behind Yasmin’s question concerning energy collecting into balls and moving around. I must add that the phenomenon of ball lightning is being investigated and a debate continues within the scientific community. See

There is, as you can read in the article, uncertainty about what exactly is associated with the formation of this type of orb. Be it a chemical reaction or a plasma formed in the air by electrical discharges, in either case it’s a physical process that is being discussed, not a non corporeal entity. Again, let me be clear, this is not a new physics being discussed but rather the specific ways in which known physical processes are associated with the ball lightning events. Another article also speaks to the phenomena: The phenomena as associated with chemical energy is discussed here:

Little balls of matter can be collected governed by physical forces (gravity and electromagnetic), which cause the particles to move through space but again this is not energy that’s being collected into spheres. There is plenty of evidence for particles moving together, including ball lightning and particles moving in outer space that form planets, stars, and nebula under the influence of gravity.

Orbs - be they dust, snowflakes, raindrops, or bugs illuminated by a camera flash or even ball lightning - all have a physical object associated with them. Aside from faked Photoshop generated images, as shown in the Patrick Doyle video, laboratory based experiments cited above now show that physical processes associated with the formation of ball lightning, for example, are being researched to understand the specific conditions associated with the formation of these objects.


So, I have personally vowed to begin using at least the term “energy” correctly. I stand by my earlier statement that at least 99% of orbs are dust, moisture, bugs, etc., and most so-called “ghost” photos are paredolia, reflections, or lens flare. Having said that, though, I have to add that I’ve recently received some very intriguing photos from a private residence that we’re planning to investigate soon. Some of these photos show full-body apparitions, along with some very unusual “orbs.” Do they fall into that 1% category of orbs that actually MIGHT be paranormal? And are the apparitions for real or just another hoax? Watch for a full report sometime next month on this exciting investigation.
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