Ghost Hunters In Ohio
A Study Of Ectoplasm
Written By Aedryan Methyus
What Is Ectoplasm?
Honestly, we can't say for sure, anymore than we can say what orbs are! But, there are a few different theories/definitions of ectoplasm. Below, we will mention all of the possible theories and definitions that we are aware of to date:
A Substance Omitted From Psychic Mediums
ECTOPLASM (from theGreek ektos and plasma: exteriorized substance), a mysteriousprotoplasmic substance streaming out of the body of mediums by themanipulation of which, either by the subconscious self or bydiscarnate intelligences, phenomena of a super-physical order,including partial and complete materializations, are produced.
is said to be a cold and moist substance, responsible for the production
of various materialisations outside the mediums body. According
to Richet and Von Schrenk-Notzig the ectoplasm consists of white blood
cells and skin cells. Ectoplasm is a synonym for Substance X and Teleplasm.
- Ectoplasm is said to be the energy of a spirit that is present in a medium's body before any manifestation occurs. It is usually a milky white color.
- Ectoplasm is said to be a strange, visible, semi-fluid substance, that is believed to emanate from the body of a physical medium/spiritualistic medium. The ectoplasm may or may not go on to form materializations. The phenomenon usually occurs while mediums are either in communication with the dead or in a trance.
- Ectoplasm is said to be a substance that emanates from a medium during a trance. It often appears as a mist-like or vaporous substance. It can been seen moving, often faces and other forms can been seen in it.
- A seemingly life-like substance, solid or vaporous in appearance. It protrudes from psychic, or unknown energy through a medium and can manifest as faces, or limbs of spirits. It is usually white in color, and some say a strange odor similar to ozone.
How Much Truth Is There To This?
Well, we can't say that there is any truth to these claims whatsoever. The above definitions were collected from around the internet and it never seizes to amaze us how people (and especially psychics) state things like this, as if they were absolute proven facts. We have not seen nor heard of any documented video evidence or even photos that lend any truth to any of these variations. If anyone knows of any such evidence in existence, please be sure to let us know. Additionally, if there are any psychics/mediums who claim they are able to omit ectoplasm from their orifices, while they are in a "trance", by all means contact us. The SHGHRS would be more than happy to try and document it under test conditions....
One Of The Various Forms Spirit Energy Can Take
ECTOPLASM: An invisible chemical component of living matter in the physical body; capable of appearing in vapor like forms; responsible for all physical phenomena.
Ectoplasm can be either a solid, liquid or vaporous substance produced
by ghosts or spirits; it is usually a milky white color and has an
ozone smell. Some forms of ectoplasm are known to move in lifelike
- Ectoplasm is a spirit manifesting itself in the form of mist, most often seen in photgraphs.
How Much Truth Is There To This?
The most popular belief among ghost hunters about spirit energy in general is, that spirits are able to transform between a few different forms, such as orbs, ectoplasm, vortices, shadow figures and apparitions, etc. It is thought that spirit energy requires a certain amount of energy and energy expenditure to transform from one of these forms into another or even take one of these forms at all. There may or may not be more truth to this than the psychic versions. We just don't know for sure. We can say however, that members of the SHGHRS have probably captured as many convincing ecto photos as anyone, during our investigations at reportedly haunted locations, where other supportive evidence was also collected. Many of the apparent ecto photos we have captured do indeed show vivid, ghostly, human-like forms and facial features within the mist.
No matter how spooky, ghostly and convincing many ecto photos may be, there is one question that always "haunts" us.... What if it was just fog? However, several hundred photos can be taken amongst us during an investigation before one of us capture a single ecto photo. It will be there for one picture then it will be gone without a trace. Additionally, ecto photos are very far and few between. We can do 10 or more investigations, indoors and out, in all sorts of weather conditions without seeing a single trace of ecto in our photos. Though we haven't yet been fortunate enough to ever capture any indoor ecto photos during any of our investigations, we have seen plenty of them that others have captured in weather conditions where it could not have been caused by breath. Regardless, there is always that little bit of doubt, so we have decided to start taking a closer look at the weather and environmental conditions surrounding ecto photos. That will be the main focus of this report.
FOG: Fog is a cloud in contact with the ground. It occurs when moisture from the surface of the Earth evaporates; as this evaporated moisture moves upward, it cools and condenses into the familiar phenomenon of fog. Fog differs from cloud only in that fog touches the surface of the Earth, while clouds do not.
All types of fog form when the relative humidity reaches 100% and the air temperature drops below the dewpoint, pushing it lower by forcing the water vapor to condense. Fog can form suddenly, and can dissipate just as rapidly, depending on what side of the dewpoint the temperature is on.
Fog reduces visibility. Although some forms of transport can penetrate fog using radar, road vehicles have to travel slowly and use more lights. Localised fog is especially dangerous, as drivers can be caught by surprise. Fog is particularly hazardous at airports, where some attempts have been made to develop methods (such as using heating or spraying salt particles) to aid fog dispersal. These methods enjoy some success at temperatures below freezing.
Types Of Fog
Fog can form in a number of ways, depending on how the cooling that caused the condensation occurred:
Radiation fog is formed by the cooling of land after sunset by thermal (infrared) radiation in calm conditions with clear sky. The cool ground then produces condensation in the nearby air by heat conduction. In perfect calm the fog layer can be less than a metre deep but turbulence can promote a thicker layer. Radiation fog is common in autumn and usually does not last long past sunrise.
Ground fog is fog that obscures less than 60% of the sky and does not extend to the base of any overhead clouds. However, the term is sometimes used to refer to radiation fog.
Advection fog occurs when moist air passes over cool ground by advection (wind) and is cooled. This form is most common at sea when tropical air encounters cooler higher-latitude waters. It is also extremely common as a warm front passes over an area with significant snowpack.
Steam fog, also called evaporation fog, is the most localized form and is created by cold air passing over much warmer water or moist land. Water vapor quickly enters the atmosphere by evaporation and condensation occurs once the dewpoint has been reached, thus creating a wispy steam. Steam fog is most common in polar regions, and around deeper and larger lakes in late autumn and early winter. It is closely related to lake-effect snow and lake-effect rain, and often causes freezing fog, or sometimes hoar frost.
Salt fog (or salt-fog) is characteristic of coastal atmospheres; the water droplets of this form of fog, formed by evaporated seawater, carry in solution microscopic particles of salt. It is best known as the airborne cause of corrosion of objects by salt with which coastal inhabitants have to contend. This problem is a major reason why engineering reliability laboratories offer salt-fog or airborne salt corrosion simulation tests.
Precipitation fog (or frontal fog) forms as precipitation falls into drier air below the cloud, the liquid droplets evaporate into water vapor. The water vapor cools and at the dewpoint it condenses and fog forms.
Upslope fog forms when winds blow air up a slope (called orographic lift), adiabatical cooling it as it rises, and causing the moisture in it to condense. This often causes freezing fog on mountaintops, where the cloud ceiling would not otherwise be low enough.
Valley fog forms in mountain valleys, often during winter. It is the result of a temperature inversion caused by heavier cold air settling into the valley, with warmer air passing over the mountains above. It is essentially radiation fog confined by local topography, and can last for several days in calm conditions. In California's Central Valley, Valley fog is often referred to as Tule fog.
Ice fog is any kind of fog where the droplets have frozen into extremely tiny crystals of ice in midair. Generally this requires temperatures well below the freezing point, making it common only in and near the Arctic and Antarctic regions. Extremely small amounts of this falling from the sky form a type of precipitation called ice crystals, often reported in Barrow, Alaska.
Freezing fog occurs when liquid fog droplets freeze to surfaces, forming white rime ice. This is very common on mountaintops which are exposed to low cloud. It is equivalent to freezing rain, and essentially the same as the ice that forms inside a freezer which is not of the "frostless" or "frost-free" type.
Artificial fog is artificially generated fog that is usually created by vaporizing a water and glycol-based or glycerine-based fluid. The fluid is injected into a heated block, and evaporates quickly. The resulting pressure forces the vapor out of the exit. Upon coming into contact with cool outside air the vapor forms a fog.
Ectoplasm Photos Compared To Fog Photos
Clearly, the key thing we need to remember is, ALL types of fog form when the relative humidity reaches 100% and the air temperature drops below the dewpoint, pushing it lower by forcing the water vapor to condense. Fog can form suddenly, and can dissipate just as rapidly, depending on what side of the dewpoint the temperature is on. The SHGHRS always records all of the available weather data prior to doing our formal investigations, which includes humidity, temperature and dewpoint information, but I don't think that is nearly accurate enough. For instance; Let's assume the SHGHRS were going to do an investigation at the Gudgeonville Bridge in Girard, PA. The only weather data and forecast information we have available to us is based on current conditions at the Erie International Airport, which is about 15 miles from Girard, PA. The Gudgeonville Bridge is also situated at the bottom of a very steep valley and a creek runs aproximately 12 - 15 feet beneath it as well. On a side note, MANY old covered bridges seem to be located in areas just like this for some reason. Under normal conditions I don't think the weather conditions would be extremely different only 15 miles away, but I feel areas like this should be given special considerations.
During the fall of 2005 and the winter of 2005/2006, the SHGHRS visited the old bridge on numerous occasions and conducted "not so organized", unofficial investigations. We did not capture ecto photos EVERY time we went, but I would say we did ALMOST every time and we went to great lengths to make sure we weren't photographing our breath. We would habitually keep our shirts/jackets pulled clear up over our noses AND we would hold our breath for at least 5 seconds before every photo. Below I will post some of the "possible" ecto photos we captured at this location and we will take a close look at the temperatures, humidity and dewpoint data:
Gudgeonville Bridge October 5, 2005 Ecto
As stated above, this photo was captured at 3:27 AM. Between 2:51 and 3:51 AM the temperature was 66.0°F and the humidity was 75%. In order for fog to have occured, the windchill would have had to have been 4° cooler than the actual temperature (which could have been possible, but unfortunately the archives do not show that data) and the humidity would have had to have been 25% higher down in the valley where the bridge is, than it was 15 miles away at the airport. The only other data we don't have is what the water temperature was beneath the bridge at that time. It is a running creek, so I would assume it would have still been around 65° - 70° that time of the year. I feel there is a very good possibility that this photo may be authentic ectoplasm.
Gudgeonville Bridge October 17, 2005
No ecto photos were captured on this night, so let's take a look at the weather data just for comparison:
On October 5th there was a 6° difference between the temperature and the dewpoint (based on the minimum temperature). On October 17th there was an 11° difference between the temperature and the dewpoint (based on the minimum temperature). There was only a 2% difference in humidity. If the ecto photo that was captured on October 5th was fog I can't see why there wouldn't have been fog on the 17th. The total combined photos taken by all of us between these two investigations was 285 and only one ecto photo was produced.
Gudgeonville Bridge October 23, 2005 Ecto
As you can see, there was no shortage of, what at least appears to be ecto on this night. There was only a 2° difference between the temperature and the dewpoint (based on the minimum temperature) and I would say there is a very good posibility that the windchill was quite a bit lower, because I remember being cold that night and it was windy out. Additionally, the maximum humidity reached 89%, which is quite a bit higher than during our previous two visits. But, it still did not reach 100%. The thing that troubles me about these photos is the fact that within the 18 days surrounding these three visits to the bridge, the temperature had dropped clear down to only 37° and the water beneath the bridge would have undoubtedly still been considerably warmer than the air temperature. This is only an assumption, but let's assume there was 37° air blowing across 60° - 65° running water current. Could that produce fog? I honestly don't know, so I am going to have to do some research on that. Other than that, I don't see why there would have been fog on this night and none was visible to the naked eye. 420 total pictures were taken on this night just for the record.
Gudgeonville Bridge January 13/14, 2006 FOG!
Now I think we're going to actually learn something! On January 13, 2006 Matt and Jim went to the bridge by themselves and returned with a very interesting story. To make a long story short, they said they had both been observing a mass of fog sitting out in a field near the bridge. They described it as being in the shape of a mushroom cloud. Neither of them thought much of it all night long until around 12:46 AM. Jim had been standing up by the bridge and Matt was down the road a little way, by where they had parked. Jim yelled to matt and said, "Look! It's coming!". Jim said that within a matter of maybe 5 seconds he watched this mass of fog shoot from the middle of the field towards the tree line. Once it reached the tree line it took a sharp and immediate left turn and headed straight towards Jim. Jim took a picture of it at the very moment it reach him. He said he could actually feel the warm and wet fog hit him! The fog then took another sharp, immediate left turn and headed down the road, straight towards where Matt was standing and Matt took a picture. As you will see, this was definitely fog, but it's still very strange how it blew in almost a perfect square pattern. It went against the wind and even across the wind! Those are the first two photos shown below:
Here Are A Couple Other Photos Jim Captured On This Night
Clearly, the weather conditions were perfect for fog on this night! The minimum temperature dropped 10° colder than the dewpoint and the humidity reached 100%. Also worth noting, according to the weather archives, the humidity never actually reached 100% until around 5:06 AM on the morning of the 14th. It fluctuated from about 86% - 97% during the time Jim and Matt would have been there. I think it's a pretty safe bet that the humidity was high enough to produce fog at any rate.
These are fantastic comparison photos, because you really can see a pretty obvious difference between these fog photos and other apparent ecto photos we've captured at the bridge. The fog photos have a very "bubbly" appearance to them, while the ecto photos have more milky and smokey type appearance. The "bubbly" appearance of the fog photos is obviously because the camera's lens is able to cut through and pick up on the moisture droplets - The stuff fog is made of!
Please Click Here for more information about this location!
Tinker's Creek Ghostly Ecto - May 24/25, 2005
Of all the ecto photos ever captured by the SHGHRS, the photos we captured at the Gleeson House on this night still remain the most vivid and ghostly in appearance at the time of this writing! We also captured some of the most alarming and threatening direct communication EVP's we've ever captured to date as well! But, were the photos we captured authentic ecto or was it just fog?
* Also, please note that we had documented the wind chill prior to doing the investigation on this night and it was 61°F .
Four of the apparent ecto photos were captured in the cemetery between 10:46 PM and 11:54 PM (on 5/24). Between 10:54 PM and 11:54 PM on 5/24 it was 48.0°F and the humidity was 80%. So, the temperature seems to have remained about 4°F above the the dewpoint and the humidity never reached close to 100%. There is a very good possibility that the cemetery photos are authentic ectoplasm.
Five of the apparent ecto photos were captured at the Gleeson Farm between 1:04 AM and 1:17 AM (on 5/25). At 12:54 AM the temperature was 46.9°F and the humidity was at 83%. At 1:54 AM it was 45.0°F and the humidity went up to 90%, but it never reached 100%. The dewpoint was 42°F/5°C on 5/25, so unless the wind chill was 3° - 4° colder than the actual temperature, fog should not have occured. Once again, the wind chill was 61°F earlier in the night and at that time the temperature was was 62°, so the wind chill was only 1° cooler than the temperature. These conditions are by all means, borderline optimal fog conditions, but the photos do not show any signs of "bubbly" moisture. The apparent ecto in these photos contain many ghostly forms and facial features within the milky white mist and based on the other evidence we collected on this night, I would have to rule these photographs just as paranormal as any we've ever seen. Take a good look at the "Come With Me" and the "Gatekeeper's 2nd Warning" photos. There is a very good chance that Matt may have captured evidence of an energy streak, transforming into ectoplasm....
Please Click Here for more information about this investigation!
Tinker's Creek - November 18/19, 2005
I thought I should also mention that we returned to Tinker's Creek on November 18, 2005 for another investigation and we did not capture a single trace of ecto in any of our photos that night. However, Jim captured what we believe may be a full apparition of a man and a child by the Gleeson House, where we had captured a lot of ecto photos during our previous investigation! Please Click Here to see the photo!
For some reason the archives aren't available for November 18th or 19th, so I will just post some of the relevant weather data for that night, which we had documented:
The conditions were definitely not optimum for fog to occure on this night. It's a shame we couldn't have captured any ecto photos that night.
Moundsville Penitentiary - May 6/7, 2005 Ecto
Though we didn't spend very much time taking pictures outside of the prison, the ecto photo you will see below was the only one we captured all night.
This photo was captured at 3:45 AM. Between 2:53 AM and 3:53 AM the temperature dropped from 46.9°F to 45.0°F and the humidity went from 80% to 82%. Additionally, the dewpoint dropped from 41.0°F to 39.9°F during this time. Taking into consideration that the humidity never came close to 100% and the temperature remained well above the dewpoint (though we do not know what the wind chill was), I would have to say there is a good chance that this ecto is as authentic as any.
Please Click Here for more information about this investigation!
So, what do we know for sure at this point? Not a whole lot, other than what weather conditions produce fog. The weather forecasts and archives are undoubtedly accurate up to a certain distance from where the data is collected, but I just don't know how accurate they are under certain environmental conditions, such as the Gudgeonville Bridge. We will be looking a little further into that. The cool thing is, SHGHRS member - Jim McCann now has some sort of instrument, which automatically records temperature and humidity data hour by hour just like weather forecasters. It is going to be an invaluable asset to this particular study, because we will now have 100% accurate data for the exact locations we are investigating!
Aside from that, we have determined a great way to identify ecto photos from fog photos. If the "ecto" is filled with "orbs" (moisture droplets) it is fog!
Answers We Are Currently Seeking
- Does the humidity HAVE to reach all the way to 100% for fog to occure?
- What does the difference in temperature have to be between water/ground and air for fog to occure?
This will be an ongoing study of ectoplasm and we will continue looking for more definitive answers. Please check back often for updates and new SHGHRS findings!
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