Forgotten Science: Experiments 1

I just had to include this from ‘The Anomalist’ and I hope they don’t mind me borrowing it?

John Tyndalll
John Tyndall


by John Mount
Professor John Tyndall, the noted British physicist of last century whose forté was molecular physics, acoustics, and heat radiation, performed a little known experiment in the late 1800’s.

Tyndall filled an experimental glass tube with the vapours of certain acids, iodides, and nitrites. The tube was then turned on its side in a level horizontal position, and so arranged that the axis of the tube and parallel concentrated beams of electric light or focussed sunlight were coincident. Adjustments were made to the focus until the vapors began to react. Gradually, and to Tyndall’s astonishment these clouds of vapor began to coalesce, forming into colored three dimensional images of animals, plants, and other shapes including geometric patterns of spheres, cubes, and pyramids. At one stage during the experiment Tyndall was amazed to see the swirling clouds suddenly change into the shape of a “serpent’s head,” and as the serpent’s mouth slowly opened a long tendril of cloud emerged forming into a perfect tongue. No sooner had this image faded than it was immediately replaced by another, this time of a perfectly formed fish complete with gills, feelers, scales, and eyes.

Tyndall commenting on the “completeness” of this figure said: “The twoness of the animal form was displayed throughout, and no disc, coil, or speck existed on one side (of the figure) that did not exist on the other.”

This “twoness” as Tyndall put it could lend some credibility to the experiment. The fact that every “twin” detail of an image is faithfully reproduced, i.e., both eyes, both ears, etc., suggests that the image is being purposely generated and is not just a coincidental occurrence like watching the clouds in the sky form rough caricatures of known objects.

Regarding the “focusing” of the beams, is it possible that once the knack of “tuning” the beams of light had been mastered certain images might then be pre-selected at will?

Tyndall’s detractors had a field day, they pointed out that the phenomena could easily be explained by the mechanical action of a beam of light which would normally stir up molecules of vapor into certain shapes like globes and spindles, a process, which they said was recently demonstrated by the physicist Sir William Crookes. Yet they omitted to mention the precisely shaped images of flowers, vases, seashells, fish, serpent’s head, and a number of other forms that the experiment produced.

Did Tyndall’s own thoughts physically interfere with the experiment or do the vapors of certain chemicals have a propensity to form images? No one at this point in time seems to know.

Tyndall, it must be realized, was a scientist of some repute, a fellow and Director of the Royal Institute, President of the British Association, and disciple and confidante of Michael Faraday. He was a modest and charitable man, according to his peers, whose research work, writings, and lectures were greatly appreciated by the scientific community. Not the sort of fellow that was wont to seeing things that weren’t really there.

Another experiment sounding very similar to Tyndall’s was performed by Sir Thomas Browne, a 17th century physician and author. Browne called it amongst other things: “Palingenesis…the re-individuality of an incinerated plant…”

Sir Thomas Browne

Browne, after reducing a plant to ashes by calcination, separated the salts from its ashes and after “special fermentation” placed them in a glass vial. He then made the following observations: “…by the heate of embers, or the natural heate of one’s body the very forme and idea (of the plant) will bee represented; whiche will suddenly vanish away, the heate being withdrawn from the bottom of the glasse.”

A witness described the experiment as it was being performed on a flower: “…having … by calcination disengaged the salts from its ashes and deposited them in a glass phial; a chemical mixture (reaction) acted on it, till in the fermentation they assumed a bluish and spectral hue. This dust thus excited by heat, shoots upward into its primitive forms; by sympathy the parts unite, and while each is returning to its destined place, we see distinctly the stalk, the leaves, and the flower arise; it is the pale spectre of a flower coming slowly forth from its ashes. The heat passes away, the magical scene declines, till the whole matter again precipitates itself into the chaos at the bottom. This vegetable phoenix thus lies concealed in its cold ashes.”

Shades of Semyon Kirlian! Talk about photographing phantom leaves and limbs!

Imagine the revolution these experiments could cause in modern science. These experiments, if proven true, could present the unique possibility of being able to view nature’s storehouse of “bio-blueprints” or “life-ideas” before (and after) she clothes them in flesh.

Take forensic medicine, for example; burnt evidence could be visually resurrected. And in archaeology, those old ashes and coals of burnt remains could show us how the people actually lived (and died). And would the skin or bone samples of Egyptian mummies and other ancient people properly treated allow us to gaze once more on the finely chiseled features of beautiful Nefretiti, or see again that Hellenic smile that once launched a thousand ships?

Another interesting experiment similar in some respects to those mentioned above, was performed during the 1940’s using the Wilson expansion cloud chamber. This chamber which is filled with a gas or vapor (usually water vapor) is normally used to track the path of atomic, and sub-atomic particles.

Dr. R.A. Watters, director of the William Bernard Johnston Foundation for Psychological Research in Reno, Nevada, theorized that the human or animal soul exists in the “intra-atomic space between the atoms of human cells.” He decided to test his theory using the cloud chamber.

A large grasshopper was placed in the chamber and dispatched with ether. At the precise moment of death, expansion of the water vapor occurred which in turn triggered a camera and a photograph was taken of the condensation figure. In all, around 40 experiments were carried out using frogs and white mice. According to Watters, in all the tests where the creature permanently died, even after eight hours of observation, a “shadow phenomenon” appeared in the chamber coinciding with the shape of the creature. However, if the animal revived, no condensation figure would appear on the photograph.

Did Watters photograph the soul of those creatures? Is the soul more easily captured on film as it is leaving its body (with some small amount of the material world still clinging to it) than some time afterwards?

A brief tantalizing account of a French scientist’s experiments clearly shows how easily momentous discoveries can be made, and then how just as easily, they can fade into obscurity.

In 1856 Dr. Jobard of Paris declared to a startled press: “I hold a discovery which frightens me. There are two kinds of electricity; one, brute and blind is produced by the contact of metals and acids; the other is intelligent and clairvoyant. The brute (one) …has followed Jacobii, Bonelli, and Moncal, while the intellectual one was following Bois-Robert, Thilorier, and Chevalier Duplanty. The electrical ball or globular electricity (ball lightning?) contains a thought which disobeys Newton (gravity?) and Mariotte (?) to follow its own freaks…. we have in the annals of the academy thousands of proofs of the intelligence of the electric bolt…but I remark that I am permitting myself to become indiscreet. A little more and I would have disclosed to you the key which is about to discover to us the universal spirit.”

What other potential world-shaking discoveries lie concealed and forgotten in dusty tomes sitting in equally dusty out-of-the-way bookshops and libraries?

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