By Jes Alexander on September 21, 2011
WASHINGTON, DC (Herald de Paris) – I am (or was) a restoration architect. Old buildings are my domain. Having been on a ghost hunt or two, I believe I have a plausible way to explain what are called “residual haunts” – events that play over and over, with no apparent reason for occurring in an endless loop that is mistaken for paranormal activity. Some of these are captured as EVP (electronic voice phenomenon) – sounds to faint for the human ear.
Many ghost hunters will tell you that an entity needs electricity to manifest. Then, residual activity has been described as like an audio or a film reel that just plays and plays. Well, let’s look at that.
The basic components necessary for a simple tape recorder are an energy source, magnetic film, and small electromagnets. Tiny electromagnets add a magnetic flux, or charge, to the surface of the metal-coated tape as it slides over the electromagnets, which are iron cores wrapped in wire. An audio signal is sent through the wire, creating a magnetic field in the core that magnetizes the metal coating on the tape. During playback, the tape creates a magnetic field in the core and a signal in the coil is amplified through speakers.
Old buildings contain all of these items.
Before 1977, almost all paint contained lead. Thus, every surface of an old or historic structure, unless it has been gutted or abated, contains a thin metallic film on almost every surface except its floors. We have a film source to record on.
Iron was a staple material used in buildings for centuries. With the advent of basic electricity, many electrical circuit loops were grounded to something fixed and metallic – like iron – by wrapping the grounding wire around it. Thus, we have the core of an electromagnet.
Electricity can be achieved numerous ways. First, many historic homes still contain bare knob and tube wiring. It has been my experience that if you find knob and tube, there is often a good chance that you will find a charge in the bare wire. But even in buildings with no electricity, there can be a positive charge. Many old buildings have metal roofs, usually made of tin or an alloy called terne. The problem is, these materials can be mistaken for one another. If one then needs a repair made, a skylight trimmed, or a plumbing vent stack to penetrate the roof, craftsmen use a soft metal, like copper. Copper + tin + water = a chemical galvanic action that corrodes your roof material. It also forms a simple battery everytime it rains. Consider that most ghost hunters find that stormy, rainy nights are the best times to capture paranormal activity.
Simple microphones and speakers can be made from numerous objects, as the mode to transfer sound to or from the recording tape is essentially vibration. The explanation for many EVP might be that the “speaker” or delivery system for the recorded sound is unamplified and simple.
Essentially then, most buildings built prior to 1977 are, in effect, giant tape recorders. If the conditions were just right in the past, sounds of that age were recorded right onto the house, itself. When the conditions are just so in the present, the house plays back the sounds it recorded.
This is but one simple explanation. Assuming this to be correct, might it be possible for a structure to record a faint, “ghostly” image, as well? Theoretically, sure – every building also contains the rudiments of a glass lens, too. There are other similar scenarios involving certain rock formations and other materials that could be “recording” history, and playing it back as what we commonly refer to as residual paranormal activity. In no way does this explain “active” hauntings or other unexplained phenomenon.
It just shows how if something happens repeatedly, “Like a recording playing over and over,” that just might be exactly what you are experiencing.
SINGING: Actual EVP captured in a church (turn it up!)