The Physics Of Ghosts
Facebook has taken up telling me what news items all of my friends read. This is mostly a bothersome thing that makes me want to unfriend people enmass, because I really do not care about Justin Bieber etc. etc. and he seems to be the subject of most of my friends reading material. Until today, that is, when I noticed several people had read Do Einstein’s Laws Prove Ghosts Exist?
Well, I needn’t really have worried, because it turned out the article was written by Benjamin Radford, deputy editor of Skeptical Inquirer science magazine.
Despite years of efforts by ghost hunters on TV and in real life, we still do not have good proof that ghosts are real. Many ghost hunters believe that strong support for the existence of ghosts can be found in modern physics.
Specifically, that Albert Einstein, one of the greatest scientific minds of all time, offered a scientific basis for the reality of ghosts.
A recent Google search turned up nearly 8 million results suggesting a link between ghosts and Einstein’s work covering the conservation of energy. This assertion is repeated by many top experts in the field. For example, ghost researcher John Kachuba, in his book “Ghosthunters” (2007, New Page Books), writes, “Einstein proved that all the energy of the universe is constant and that it can neither be created nor destroyed. … So what happens to that energy when we die? If it cannot be destroyed, it must then, according to Dr. Einstein, be transformed into another form of energy. What is that new energy? … Could we call that new creation a ghost?”
Well, could we?
Um, no. When a person dies the energy from their body goes into their surroundings. This could be the in the form of heat or chemical energy, but certainly not ghost energy. (Emphasis mine)
Most of the “energy” that any dead person leaves behind takes years to re-enter the environment in the form of food; the rest dissipates shortly after death, and is not in a form that can be detected years later with popular ghost-hunting devices like electromagnetic field (EMF) detectors. Ghost hunters who repeat the claim that Einstein’s theories provide a sound basis for ghosts reveal less about ghosts than they do about their poor understanding of basic science. Ghosts may indeed exist, but neither Einstein nor his laws of physics suggests that ghosts are real.
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