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The Kirlian Effect
The Kirlian Effect PDF Print E-mail
Written by Kara   
Wednesday, 08 September 2010 19:09

Tesla Coil experimentKirlian photography, or Bio-electrography as it is sometimes referred, is the attempt to photograph conscious processes within a living organism.
Basically, electrical fields are photographed and appear as glowing light.  If anything interrupts that field, it appears to glow because the electrical field has ionized the air around it.  The glow around an object is called the Kirlian effect.  Seymon Kirlian was an electrician in Russia.  He was one of the first inventors to study this process during the 1940s.

To create this effect, high-frequency, high-voltage, low-amperage-electrical fields are created and an object is photographed while in contact with this field.  Usually this is done with a Tesla coil connected to a metal plate on which lies the photographic film that the subject touches.    The process isn’t exactly paranormal but since it is not fully understood it lies within the realm of the unknown, therefore making a good “paranormal” topic.  We know that nature can produce this effect naturally, creating areas of glowing light like St. Elmo's fire (that bluish-white glow above ships that was seen most often after thunder storms).  You can also see the Kirlian effect around high voltage conductors, especially on transmission lines around broken strands. 

There are a few theories as to what we are seeing when we view the Kirlian effect.  Some scientists believe that the image is a representation of a thought, a mental or psychic energy.  Others believe it reveals the etheric body, a copy of the physical body residing on a higher plane of existence.  The etheric body is that non-physical body that is said to “project” during an out of body experience or during Remote Viewing.  Still others think it is a bunch of propaganda, meant to help sell Kirlian cameras and give Kirlian photography interpreters a little extra income.  Who knows?  Maybe it is merely the camera picking up electrical energy that can be created in any number of ways and which reveals nothing of a persons mood or thought or health.   An October, 1976 journal article in ‘Science’ concluded that the Kirlian Effect was most likely due to the amount of moisture in the subject and that 25 variables could affect the resulting Kirlian photograph.  So, in order to interpret a series of Kirlian photographs, one would have to control those other 25 variables.

The ability to photograph objects in electrical fields dates back to the late 1800s and was called "electrography" or "electrographic photography".  Manipulating the colors and intensify of the visible field was easy to do by simply changing such things as the room temperature, humidity, or barometric pressure.  You take an electrically grounded object and create a spark between the object and an electrode generating the electrical field and you get the Kirlian effect. 

There are many experiments that might lead one to believe that there is more to Kirlian Photography than electrical or atmospheric manipulation would explain.  Studies have been done which show the effects of plant parts being manipulated in different ways.  There are reports that at the University of California, researchers cut a leaf from a plant, photographed the plant body and discovered an “aura” in the shape of the leaf that was no longer attached.  Taking the severed leaf, images of the glow around the leaf showed the glow was stronger right after the leaf was cut than hours and days later.  Pricking a live plant leaf produced a mottled glow as opposed to the full glow of an unharmed healthy leaf.  I tried to find the facts on this University of California study but was unable to find a direct link to the research study anywhere, just mentions of it on various Kirlian Photography and paranormal related websites.  There is no way to know if other factors in the laboratory affected the results.  Perhaps the plate wasn’t cleaned between photographs and the image was merely showing the residual of the leaf that was there.  Maybe as the severed leaf slowly dried, the Kirlian Effect became gradually less due to a lack of moisture, not a dying aura.

So the skeptic in me can easily dismiss the phantom plant leaf theory and the leaf losing its aura theory as having a scientific explanation but there is one branch of Kirlian Photography research that I have no answer for.  In human subject studies, psychic healers and those who claim psychokinetic abilities were photographed.  Bursts and streamers of light were seen when they induced their psychic abilities.  This reminds me of that episode of Ghost Hunters where a psychic was doing a reading with Jason, one of the Atlantic Paranormal Society investigators, while being videotaped with a Thermal camera.  As the psychic was attempting the reading strange lights were arcing between Jason and the psychic.  Makes you wonder.

Future hopes for Kirlian photography are for its use in diagnosing illnesses by “seeing” where the body’s energies are diffused or in disorder.  There is talk of it being used in conjunction with CAT scans and MRIs.  So, I am intrigued.  Keep studying, Kirlians, and don’t let silly skeptics like me stop you from changing science as we know it. 

 

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 08 September 2010 19:33 )
 
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