How do I make you believe? Where can I find the columns of data that warm the hearts of scientists, while retaining the turn of phrase to move the dreamers?
You who worship at the shrine of science will reject my words because I deal in a subject relegated to the trivial—the voodoo realm of the spiritualists. You who favor spiritualists will discard my words because there is no room for karma and old souls in what I say.
Still, I must try.
I don’t believe in ghosts, or any of that class of events collectively referred to as “The Supernatural.” I don’t doubt there are strange and unexplained happenings but I cannot attribute them to the wandering spirits of the dead. Any explanation that says: “People may ‘hang around’ after death, for unexplained reasons, and for an undefined periods,” is too much to swallow.
For example: for us to “see” a ghost they must both absorb and reflect light (we see colors because all but the color reflected is absorbed). But to absorb light there must be mass. And, if they both absorbed light and had mass they would cast a shadow. Plus, since what we call sight is a chemical process which requires a metabolism—which ghosts can’t have—they couldn’t “see.”
Yes, I know that ghostly sight can be “explained away” by saying that ghosts must use another way of seeing that just happens to mimic life in both form and function is, well…not all that believable.
And that’s just one of the infinite number of things stacked against ghosts.
And then, there’s reincarnation. Lots of people love that one. And I suppose it’s comforting to believe that we go on living in some form after our current life is finished. But…think about it:
There is this thing (call it a soul if you must), that looks out through my eyes and records everything I see and do. It contributes nothing from my “past lives” that I will be aware of,
. So does it matter who I was before my “current” life? No, because I’m not like that person now, and I’m not aware of my “past lives.”
This internal hitchhiker doesn’t even have my personality, which is the absolute core of my being. Given that, I cannot accept it as being, in some way, “me.” As far as I’m concerned, it could take a lifetime’s vacation and I’d not care. But according to those who believe, I have no choice in the matter, and there it sits, enjoying the view as I stumble through life.
As if that isn’t enough, when I finally die, this soul thing hops from my head to the head of a newborn, accumulating knowledge for some “higher purpose.” In other words, it’s some kind of a cosmic brain-sucker—a parasite. That, I can most definitely do without. Worst of all is the claim that it gives me most of my good ideas. I have few enough of those as it is without taking all of the credit away from yours truly.
Events classified as paranormal, though? That’s a different matter. Though there’s plenty of room for debate and doubt, for some, the effects are demonstrable and repeatable—something that with time and research may become the explained and commonplace. Of more importance, they don’t depend on “magic” and coincidence for their operation.
Nearly forty years ago I took the time to satisfy myself that dowsing rods work. When the late John W. Campbell (editor of Analog magazine) was espousing their cause, I made a set for myself, and was amazed to find that they worked reliably for me. I can find water pipes, underground water, and even electrical conduits with them.
I’ve even conducted successful experiments on the binary transmission of data via mental telepathy. (I never was able to determine whether I was a good transmitter or my wife a good receiver, as it worked only one way, and only between the two of us).
All of the above is why I’m glad to report that I have found a reasonable cause for the belief in ghosts and reincarnation, not to mention the reasons behind the Loch Ness monster, Bigfoot, the missing mass in the universe, and, one of the most pressing mysteries of our time: what happens to the socks that turn up missing in the dryer?
Right now I imagine you’re expecting a story, one that fits in with the claims I’ve been making. You won’t get one. This is a fact article, or at least a speculative one.
The genesis of these words is a short story I’d been planning to write. It was to be based on something we’ve all experienced: We drop something, it hits the floor, and apparently vanishes. In spite of a careful search it can’t be found, yet is found days later, lying right were it should have been seen, immediately.
For a good many years, I’ve been espousing what I have always called “Greenstein’s Theorem.” Simply put, it goes like this: The object cannot be found, because it’s not there. Due to reasons that are unknown at this time, when conditions are right, the object travels in time.
It was a good basis for a story, but for one reason or another I kept putting it off, using the concept to entertain friends…until I had the functionality of the theorem proven to me, not once, but several times. I’m no longer joking.
I know exactly what you’re thinking at this point, and I can’t blame you. Just bear with me, though, before you make any judgments.
Over the next few years, I got laughs, many strange looks, and even a few believers out of the thing. I was in the funny position of almost, but not quite, believing it myself. It certainly seemed to fit the facts, but so did the greater probability that the things dropped weren’t found because they were overlooked, or had bounced into an obscure corner of the room. There were more than a few people, though, who told me stories that supported the theory. As time went by, it became harder and harder not to take it seriously, myself.
Notably, one of the men with whom I worked, reported that after hearing of my theory, his family became convinced that he worked with a lunatic. Some weeks later, however, he took me aside to report that his Mother-in-law had dropped an antique earring on the floor of a bedroom. It was valuable so she, and the family, searched for it—in vain. They even went so far as to vacuum the floor and check the vacuum cleaner’s bag for the earring.
As you can guess, the earring showed up the next day, in plain sight, right where it had been dropped. His family now believes.
It went like that for a few years, until I witnessed the events recounted below.
° ° °
Late one Saturday afternoon, the electronics lab was empty save for me, testing circuit boards that would be needed on Monday. Each unit was placed in a metal channel at the top of the test fixture, and held in place by two small screws. This time, I placed the module. Then, as I reached to secure it in place I dropped the screw. That resulted in the tiny “tink” of the screw striking the fixure, then nothing. I lifted the module, but the screw was gone. I remember mumbling, “At last, proof of Greenstein’s Theorem.”
I laughed as I turned the fixture over and shook it, fully expecting the screw to fall onto the table. I shook it again. Nothing. The screw had apparently bounced out of the channel, on to the table, and then to the floor, where it had vanished—a tiny black screw on a black tile floor—lost among the scattering of wire clippings and debris of a busy electronics shop. I couldn’t help looking for it as I continued testing modules, though. I should have heard the second bounce of that screw, on either the floor or the tabletop.
I didn’t replace the missing screw, though, as one was plenty for testing purposes. Mildly amused, I continued with the testing, and at five, with most of the modues finished, I went home, then returned to finish-up on Sunday.
Once again, I was alone, as I searched for that missing screw before beginning work. I was being foolish, but still, I couldn’t help checking the fixture and the area around it. Of course, there was nothing. I even shook the fixture, inverting and tapping it on the tabletop to dislodge the screw if it was stuck inside. Again, nothing.
But then, after testing several modules, I removed the latest one from the fixture and froze. You guessed it. That damn screw was lying in plain sight: a single black oxided 4-42, pan-headed screw.
I was alone in the building, and that screw could not have been carried to the fixture with the module. In my right hand lay the second screw, the one that had been holding the module in place. There was no mistake. The lost screw had just reappeared.
I must have stared at the thing for at least three minutes before I went to sit down. I had to. I was too shaky to stand.
° ° °
That was the beginning. That event started me thinking on an interesting string of “what if’s.”
• What if time might be thought of as a loosely coiled spring, or helix, in which a coil occasionally “touches” another coil?
Could it be that under special conditions an object might “cross over?” As silly as it sounds, it explains why socks are lost in the dryer, only to show up later, after you’ve thrown away the survivor. A friend who uses a laundromat tells me that she occasionally finds clothing she doesn’t own, mixed in with her own laundry. But she always looks in the machines to be certain they’re empty before she uses them. And think about it: you might lose underwear or handkerchiefs too, but as they don’t come in matched pairs you probably wouldn’t notice.
• If the above is true, what if the same person happens to be at the crossing point in both times?
Is it possible that there is some leakage between the future and past mind of the person to whom this happens? This explains hunches, Deja-vu, and a lot of other things of that general class of events.
• If all of the above is true: Is it possible that there are people who can “receive” memories from an entirely different person, one who happens to occupy that crossing point in either the past or the future?
At this point, the “what if’s” were arriving at a rate too fast to follow, but one in particular brought me to a halt: What if there were more paths than the one we follow? What if there are lots more?
And with that thought, time stopped being a spring that’s lazily coiled on itself. Instead, it’s jammed into a box, along with an unknown volume of other springs. The really crazy part of it is that logically, it hangs together.
Before I explain that, though, let me relate a story, told by a good and reliable friend:
She’d returned from the hospital with a new baby a few days before. Hearing a noise from the baby’s room, she went in and was surprised to find a man standing by the crib. With a start, she recognized her father-in-law. He’d laid back the covers, and was smiling as he looked down at his new granddaughter. The only problem with that was that his being there was impossible. The man smiling at the baby was dead and buried. Yet she swears that she watched him straighten the covers then turn to her and smile. He put a finger to his lips in a shushing gesture, smiled again, and walked past her and into the hall. When she recovered her wits and followed him into the hall it was empty.
I have another friend, one of the steadiest and most reliable men I know. He swears that he was part of a group of men who stood in a row-house in South Philadelphia, watching water gush from a plaster wall, as though from a waterfall, drop, then run across the floor and vanish into the next wall. The problem, other than the impossibility of a waterfall inside a house, was that the water, though it was real to the eye, couldn’t be felt, and the floor was dry.
Those memories led to a thought: Suppose that under some special circumstances, we can see into that adjacent coil of time? That would be the most sensible explanation of ghosts I’ve heard. It means that the ghostly woman seen walking down the castle steps is a living woman walking down those castle steps at-some-other-time, or on some other path. I’ve always rejected the tortured soul explanation for ghosts as silly. Think about it. If violent death or great suffering was the cause of haunting, the ancient battlefields of our war-torn planet would be swimming with ghosts. Our oldest cities would have so many haunts they would get in the way, an expected annoyance, not a reason for fear.
Those stories though, suggested a new possibility. Perhaps there are alternate worlds of a sort, in which there are differences from our own? This multiple branching world idea has always been a popular concept in science fiction. The cause is usually attributed to a decision that could have gone either way. I suspect, though, that the cause—if it is possible—is far more subtle than that. Decisions are made on data, even if you might think it was a flip of the coin kind of a thing. Given the same data, the same conditions, and the same person deciding, the decision will always be the same. Take a small thing though—down at the quantum level where probability is very real—a lightening-bolt that triggers a few nano-seconds late or early, for example. That may be in the range of probability. But that small delay might change the target of the bolt, and eventually have a significant effect on the world at large. A gross example might be the case of the child who wakes in fear of the storm as the bolt strikes closer to the house, due to the nano-second delay in triggering. The child is frightened, and is visited by Mom for a few seconds. But that small delay in her returning to bed results in a different sperm cell meeting with an egg that night, so a different child is conceived—a forking of time tracks to accommodate the dual event.
The lightening delay is, as I said, a gross case, and subject to a great deal of argument as to it’s being possible. I cite it only as an example of the kind of thing that might cause a branching. I suspect that the actual causes are smaller, and may require years or even centuries until the differences manifest.
Adding in the element of multiple time-tracks caused a lot of odd data to fit together. The thought occurs that in another time-track, my friend’s father-in-law didn’t die, and that on his track he was happily visiting his new grand-daughter that night. But because conditions were right, he was such a close fit for the situation on our world that he almost transferred into it, and thus was seen, not as a transparent ghost, but as a living breathing man.
In our history, we record a man walking around the carriage horses and inexplicably vanishing. Perhaps in another track, he appears from nowhere. There are recorded cases of people found wandering, who speak no known language. People who, after learning the local language, cannot explain how they got to that place. Perhaps in another world, the crew of the Marie Celeste doesn’t vanish on the high seas, they move to a new plane of reality. It’s worthy of note that the most likely candidates for being seen as ghosts would be people who are removed from one branch but not another, as in the case of my friend’s father-in-law. Ghosts, then, might be the result of death by accident or murder, etc. In other words, the traditional cause of ghosts. Some time ago, I read that an aircraft carrier of the United States Navy was haunted by the ghost of an ex-seaman. The fact that the one seen as the “ghost, will eventually age and die in all branches of reality, explains why a ghost eventually stops appearing, and why our older cities aren’t teeming with them.
As an even more interesting idea, suppose an alternate time-line formed before our species developed—or where it never developed. Visual contact between those tracks would show apparitions that look like deformed humans, or unknown creatures. Try a few simple explanations:
• Poltergeists – A partial crossover from human or other worlds.
• Ghosts – People in either our own, or other time-lines, simply going about their business. Perhaps they occasionally see us, and wonder at the strange events they view. It would explain why some ghosts ignore the people who view them, and others try to communicate.
• Spiritualists – Disregarding the legions of fakes and the self-deluded, there may be people who can more easily read, or see across the boundaries of the reality streams. It would explain how they could locate missing people. With no proof, I suspect that this condition occurs when a given person is closely paralleled in many streams.
• Monsters – The Loch Ness Monster, the Abominable Snowman, and Bigfoot may be as common as squirrels on-some-other-track. As an object seen many times, but never touched, they easily fall into the category of ghosts.
• Past life regression – The more simple explanation would be that the people in question are making contact across a track with either an actual person from our past (same track, different “coil”), or, more likely, someone from a concurrent track, though with a different history. This also explains “Out of body experiences.” Note that in many cases, although the “regressed” person is able to give detailed information on the day-to-day life in the village where they supposedly lived, and the village itself may exist, the person in question is not recorded as having lived there. This could well be because the supposed “past life” is actually a living, breathing, current resident of a version of the village, not the ghost of a past existence.
• Speaking in tongues – Simply, contact with someone whose language you don’t speak. It would also explain why the occasional rare individual suddenly understands a language they’ve never learned, or heard spoken.
• Possession – A “lock-on,” between people of two different tracks. In the event that one of the people in the “lock-on” surrendered control, the other would be able to directly converse with the people of the second track, and would report to his or her own people, on break-off of the lock, that they were transported to a strange world.
There are still things that don’t fit—things like people who can bend keys, and make pots bounce around, but I think that’s because I’m missing data. So here, you’ll have to excuse me if I extrapolate a bit. Still, it hangs together nicely:
If there truly are different ribbons, there’s little doubt that the atmospheric energy potentials, at least in a localized area, would be unequal. These unequal potentials could result in apparently unexplainable effects, which might explain such manifestations as poltergeists and other events. And if you’ll allow me this, several things suggest themselves:
• Assume a large electrical energy potential difference, caused by atmospheric conditions, and a person who finds himself at the same place in two or more ribbons. Should a leakage of electrical energy take place between the ribbons, there might be an inter-track lightening bolt that would result in the unexplainable, and spontaneous, combustion of anyone at the crossover point. Note that there are many, well documented cases of spontaneous human combustion. This might also be the reason for unexplained fires. A slow transfer could be one of the causes of St. Elmo’s fire, or the fabled “bolt out of the blue.”
• It may be, for physical reasons, or perhaps because a person appears on a multiplicity of closely aligned tracks, that they become a focus for the energies involved in the creation and maintenance of the tracks. These are the people to whom strange things happen. Keys bend, pots fly, and things go bump in the night when they’re around.
Try it for yourself. Find some other explanation that fits the facts as well, and doesn’t resort to “faith” to explain what’s happening.
Perhaps I’m simply fantasizing. Perhaps there are other explanations. Perhaps I’ve tried to tie together things that can’t be connected. I grant you that. Of one thing though, I am absolutely certain: that screw was not there until just before I found it.
Truthfully, though, even after the incident with the reappearing screw, I didn’t really believe. I wanted to, but I wouldn’t, or couldn’t, let myself. And truthfully, my tongue was firmly in my cheek when I talked about the things I’ve reported here. I even wrote most of what you just read with a great deal of reservation as to my conclusions. Then, as I was editing, I had the truth of it demonstrated so clearly that I can no longer deny it:
I had a problem with my Suburu’s heater control cable. To repair it I had to remove the radio, the glove box, and a good deal of the dashboard. I placed them in the back seat as I worked, with the exception of the heater control knobs, which I placed in the center console’s tray.
I used one of the knobs to test the repair, then reached out to drop it into the tray as I thought over what to do next. Unfortunately, I missed and the knob fell between the console and the passenger seat. There was an unusually loud “clink” as it landed, which seemed odd, but I left the search for later and went back to work.
When everything had been reassembled I began my search for the knob. It wasn’t there. Eventually, both front seats, the center console, and even the parts removed for the repair were out of the car. No knob. I looked under the car and around it. No knob.
But it had to be there. Both logic and reason insisted on that. So, I had my wife search, and did so myself, again-and-again, until there was no possible doubt. A two-inch diameter plastic knob had truly vanished. And though I would love to find some other explanation, here is absolutely no doubt in my mind that the knob is gone. I virtually disassembled the seats after removing them, and there is no place in the car that could hide that knob. Nor was the knob under or around the car. It was gone, and I have no choice but to believe. None.
I bought a replacement knob, but each time I got into that car I had the horrible certainty that the original knob would roll out from under the seat and lay there, laughing at me. It didn’t, but it seems likely that another Jay Greenstein, on a different time-track, found it and believes the knob was dropped there in the factory.
I don’t believe in ghosts. I don’t believe in witches and the occult. I do, however, firmly believe that there are explainable natural forces at work, whose detection and function is, in part, masked by human fantasies and desires. Most “ghosts” are the result of human fear, fantasy, and daydreaming. There are, however, too many well-documented events and sightings to dismiss.
Who knows, perhaps I’ve just found the true explanation for flying saucers. Perhaps they don’t come from “Out there.” Perhaps they’re “neighbors,” passing through the area on the way to visit another neighbor.
A last thought: According to the latest theories, most of the mass in the universe seems to be missing. They’ve accounted for it by calling it “Dark matter,” and scientists are in a race to find it. If by some chance the things I’ve postulated here are true, I’ve just found that missing mass.
You are welcome to join in on the exploration of the field. It’s brand new, and wide open. Just remember, it’s called: “Greenstein’s Theorem.”