by Patricia Pearson Daily Mail
The astronaut who spoke to his father’s ghost. Impossible? This spine-tingling series may make you think again
Thought death was clear but? A new book, Opening Heaven’s Door, will callenge your views. In the second part of our serialisation, bereaved people recall visits by dead loved ones, writes PATRICIA PEARSON
A humid night in summer. Ellie Black wakes at around 3am and her eyes focus on a figure at the end of her bed. It’s her father, from whom she’s long been estranged. Now fully alert, she watches him as he tips his hat and bows with a flourish. Then he’s gone.
The following morning she relates the experience to her daughter at the breakfast table. Later that day the phone rings — with news that her father died in the early hours. A tall story? Not at all.
Research in Wales, Japan, Australia and the U.S. shows that between 40 and 53 per cent of the bereaved receive some kind of signal or visitation when someone close to them dies.
Usually they sense a presence; sometimes they actually see or hear one. Psychiatrists have labelled these experiences ‘grief hallucinations’, though they have not yet been studied neurologically.
In 2012, the psychologist Erlendur Haraldsson published a comprehensive study he’d done on 340 cases of extraordinary encounters with the dying.
Usually people encountered their fathers or mothers — suggesting that the parental impulse to connect and reassure continues past death.
About a quarter of his subjects saw or heard the dead person at the hour of death or within the day it occurred. In 86 per cent of these cases, they weren’t yet aware of the death by ordinary means.
Some surveys report that about half of all these telepathic experiences occur in dreams. A musician, Rory McGill, told me that on the night his father died, he had a vivid dream in which he climbed onto his father’s bed and held him in his arms. ‘But in an instant, I was standing alone in the room — he was gone, and the bed was empty and neatly made,’ he recalled.
The next day, his mother phoned: his father had died unexpectedly while Rory was dreaming about him. A mere coincidence? Highly unlikely. A review of ‘spontaneous telepathy’ studies concludes that the odds against chance are 22 billion to one.
So, do we have a form of consciousness — a way of knowing — that has yet to be fully explained? Intriguingly, studies of twins separated by distance seem to confirm that something odd is going on.
One of the first of these studies monitored the electrical impulses of the twins’ brains. The scientists found that when one twin was asked to close his or her eyes, which causes the brain’s alpha rhythms to increase, the distant twin’s alpha rhythms also increased.
Many later twin studies had similar findings. In 2013, a study of British twins reported that 60 per cent felt they’d had telepathic exchanges. Among identical twins, 11 per cent said they had frequent exchanges with their sibling, including shared dreams.
Other studies of telepathy by University of Virginia psychiatrist Ian Stevenson explored how people could know that someone physically distant was dying or in distress. Stevenson started by analysing 165 meticulously researched historical cases. Nearly 90 per cent had occurred, he discovered, when the person was awake, rather than asleep or dozing.
Two-thirds involved news of an immediate family member. Eighty-two per cent involved death, a sudden illness or accident.
But people did not, apparently, pick up on one another’s good tidings.
‘Is it that the communication of joy has no survival value for us, while the communication of distress does?’ Stevenson wondered.
He then moved on to 35 contemporary cases. And one startling conclusion from these was that a third involved violent death.
His findings were replicated in 2006, when Icelandic researchers found a dramatically higher number of abrupt or violent deaths in telepathic cases.
In addition, there were many accounts from both World Wars of a soldier’s family or loved one suddenly waking in the still of the night. In that instant, they knew the soldier had died — and a telegram later arrived to confirm this. Perhaps, Stevenson mused, there was something in the emotional quality of the event — a thunderclap of fear or pain — that carried like a sound wave across water.
In more than half of the cases, the person who received the message was driven to take some kind of action — such as making a phone call, embarking on a frantic trip or changing holiday plans.
One woman drove 50 miles home in the middle of the night after suddenly gleaning that her teenage daughter was in trouble. It turned out their house had been broken into by armed intruders, with the daughter inside.
But how do you know that the news you’ve just received telepathically is correct? No one has yet fathomed this mystery. But Stevenson discovered ‘a feeling of conviction’ was one of the characteristics that separated telepathic communications from ordinary dreams and anxious imaginings.
There were two other factors that made people sit up wide-eyed and reach for the phone or take other action. One was if the person in the crisis specifically focused on the other person during the moment of danger. This seemed particularly true of parents responding to children.
The second factor was the possibility that the person receiving the distress call had experienced previous psychic communications — suggesting that some people just have a gift for this. Janey Acker Hurth, for example, not only sensed her daughter’s (non-fatal) collision with a car, but also her father’s sudden illness a few years earlier.
Back then, when she was newly married, she’d awoken to ‘a feeling of deep sadness, an impression that something was wrong’. The feeling intensified and she began to sob.
Then, when she was making breakfast, she cried: ‘It’s my father! Something is terribly wrong with my father!’ Her dad had gone into a coma during the night and died shortly afterwards.
Stevenson was struck by how this type of information sometimes gradually came into focus. People like Mrs Hurth, he concluded, ‘may scan the environment for danger to her loved ones and, when this is detected, tune in and bring more details to the surface of consciousness’.
In the Eighties and Nineties, a British neuropsychiatrist, Dr Peter Fenwick, of King’s College, London, appealed to the public for cases of what he called ‘death-bed coincidences’, and amassed more than 2,000 accounts.
Typically, one woman wrote to him about the suicide of her husband, from whom she’d recently separated. She’d awoken at 3am in 1989 from an intensely vivid dream in which her ex was sitting on the bed, assuring her that he’d found peace.
‘I got up, did some work I needed to do and two clients phoned me around 8am,’ she continued. ‘I freaked them out completely as I told them I’d be taking some time out because my husband had just died.’
She didn’t yet objectively know this to be true. But when she let herself into her former husband’s flat, she discovered his body.
In her case, the person in distress hadn’t sought help — instead, he’d apparently sent a message of reassurance after his death.
In other cases, people may be telepathically sharing the calm and peace they feel as they die. Stevenson concluded: ‘It’s altogether probable that important, unrecognised exchanges of feelings through extrasensory processes are occurring all the time. Even if we can only observe it occasionally — and usually between persons united by love and during a special crisis — this should arouse our curiosity.’
On the evening his father died of lung cancer, sailor Raymond Hunter felt as though his lungs were collapsing and he could scarcely breathe.
‘I remember grabbing my mouth, forcing it open to help me breathe. I was fighting for all I was worth, but the pains were unbearable,’ he recalled afterwards.
Unbearable pain — now, that’s not something you shake off as a strange dream. Particularly when you later discover that your father died in that very moment.
This abrupt and violent experience of another person’s dying symptoms has been noted by some researchers, though it remains almost completely unexplored.
Psychiatrist Ian Stevenson has suggested it could be a kind of telepathic extension of a phenomenon in which people who live together sympathetically take on one another’s symptoms or moods. But that’s only a theory.
A particularly vivid instance involves a woman in her late 30s.
‘I was awoken around 2am by the sound of my heart breaking. I know that sounds really odd, but I heard it crack and felt my chest sort of splitting,’ she recalled.
‘The next morning I got into the car to drive to work. I was sitting at traffic lights when I felt this pressure on the side of my face. I distinctly remember that the pressure was that of a cheek lightly pressed against mine, sort of cuddling me.
‘The feeling I was filled with at this time was one of love and support — it felt fine. I then felt a hand holding my hand and felt it had no middle finger. And then it dawned on me.
‘It was my dad’s hand; he’d lost his finger in a building site accident when I was a little girl.
‘I returned home after an hour to be met by my husband’s words: “Your dad’s gone.” Apparently, he’d died from a massive heart attack during the night. I wasn’t at all surprised.’
Why should the dying want to share such agonies with the people they love? No one knows.
But one thing at least is clear: no one in their right mind could dismiss these visions as wishful thinking.
RETURN OF THE DEAD
Two hundred miles above Earth, Jerry Linenger was working on the space station Mir when he suddenly became aware of the presence of his father.
It was 1997 — and his father had died seven years earlier. A conversation ensued in which the older man spoke of his pride that his son had realised his dream of travelling in space. Linenger was deeply moved.
Later, however, he chose to interpret his father’s presence as nothing more than a projection of his imagination. And yet, at the time, he had derived great consolation from the encounter. Nor was his experience by any means a strange aberration. In fact, it’s estimated that around half of all bereaved people — in all cultures — at some point register the presence of their departed loved one.
According to a study done in 2006, 84 per cent of the bereaved were in good mental health at the time. And only 5 per cent found the encounter negative or distressing; for the majority, it was profoundly comforting.
Visual perception of the presence seems to be the rarest. In another study, only about 5 per cent actually saw the dead person; about 15 per cent heard him or her; and the rest had partial impressions, such as feeling hands on their head or noticing a distinct presence in the room.
Unlike our conception of ghosts, these presences can physically react with the material world.
The writer Nancy Coggeshall, for instance, felt the presence of her partner twice while lying in bed, five months after he died in 2002. ‘I felt someone lying down beside me, and I felt the impact of [his] weight on the mattress. The second time, the pressure was so great, I rolled over and asked: “Who’s there?” ’ she told me.
Karen Simons, who works in advertising, recalled a similar experience in 1994, after her father, a farmer, died of a heart attack.
‘After Dad’s death, I began driving his big, old Ford Taurus,’ she told me. ‘It was comforting, in the way you hang on to people’s shirts. But that’s all it was. Until about six weeks after he died.
‘It was a very cold night in January. I’m driving on the highway and into the passenger seat comes Dad. I could feel him settle in. He had a very distinctive lean to the left, because of the way his back was.
‘Also, you know how you know the sound of people’s breathing? How you can tell whether it’s your son or your daughter in the room? It was Dad. He rode with me for about ten miles.
‘It was incredibly real and completely transforming. I was almost giddy. I was hoping he’d stay.’
Karen never sensed his presence again. Her father, she believed, had been saying a final goodbye.
Yet some loved ones can linger for years. This continues to be the case with her aunt’s son, who drowned 35 years ago in a fast-flowing river.
‘On a very regular basis, Allan comes and sits on the end of her bed, and they have a conversation,’ Karen said. ‘ “And don’t tell me I’m crazy!” my aunt always says.’
Back in 1917, Sigmund Freud labelled all such visions and sensations as ‘hallucinatory wishful psychosis’ — and his view remains popular in the medical profession. Since then, however, a great deal more has become known about hallucinations.
People held in solitary confinement for a long time, for example, are known to hallucinate. This takes the form of random, often paranoid imagery, and it’s accompanied by agitation, panic attacks and general mental disintegration.
But widows and widowers are clearly not in this state when they see or sense their loved ones. Nor are they likely to be alone for days on end in tiny windowless cells.
What about the theory that sheer longing for someone could cause a hallucination? Unfortunately for the sceptics, this falls at the first hurdle. Think of all those long-term lovers who leave people heartbroken when they run off with someone else. No one reports having visions of them.
In any case, the vision may not even be of someone close to you. That was certainly the case when a lawyer — interviewed by psychologist Erlendur Haraldsson in 2006 — had an unexpected encounter.
One day, as dawn was breaking, he was coming home from a dance at which he hadn’t drunk any alcohol. While he was walking over a hill, ‘a woman came towards me, kind of stooping, with a shawl over her head.
‘I didn’t pay any attention to her, but as she passed I said “Good morning” or something like that. She didn’t say anything.
‘Then I noticed she was following me. When I stopped, she also stopped. I started saying my prayers in my mind to calm myself. When I came close to home, she disappeared.’
But had she? The lawyer’s brother, who was awake, greeted him with the words: ‘What is this old woman doing here? Why is this old woman with you?’
The brothers lived with their father, who worked at the local psychiatric hospital. A few hours later, they were told by him that a patient at the hospital had just died.
When the brothers investigated further, they found out that she exactly fitted their description of the old woman.
Clearly, whatever had caused the woman to materialise after her death had nothing to do with the lawyer suffering from isolation. Nor had he been longing to see her.
Yet, bizarre as it was, his experience would not have amazed our ancestors.
Throughout most of our history, everyone has known that those who die can return as anything, from a sigh to a physical presence. Our ancestors simply assumed the dead continued to watch, console, guide and even meddle in their affairs.
Collective delusion? Mass hallucinations? Or perhaps our ancestors have something important to teach us.
Crow Funerals: Researchers Find That Crows Appear to Understand Death
We’ve previously discussed the impressive intelligence of crows here on the Grail, from research showing that crows can solve complex sequential puzzles, to video of a crow stealing a credit card to purchase a train ticket from a vending machine.
Now, in what may be the creepiest-looking science experiment ever, researchers have discovered that crows know what death is – and it appears that they fear it, gathering in groups around a dead crow and calling loudly. Donning scary latex masks, the researchers brought out a dead, taxidermied crow, to find out why crows gather around their dead (the reason for the masks is because crows never forget a face, and the scientists involved weren’t keen on getting harassed by angry corvids).
For more on the research, check out this short film:
The evidence keeps stacking up for the remarkable intelligence of this much misunderstood and maligned bird.
Note: for those who might have questions about the experiments, the lead researcher posted a bunch of answers to the most frequently asked questions in the comments thread beneath the YouTube video:
I’m seeing a few questions come up repeatedly so let me take a minute to address them.
1) Yikes, why are the masks so creepy?! These masks were made in service to the original facial recognition study that took place a little over a decade ago at the UW. You can learn more about that study in the PBS ‘Murder of Crows’ special which is free to stream. When asking that original question of “do crows recognize threatening people” it was important that the masks were expressionless, since a happy or angry looking face might influence how they would respond (we now know it actually doesn’t). It’s very hard to find human-like expressionless masks though, so we had costume makers come in and take molds of volunteers’ faces. What you’re left with is something that basically looks like you cut someone’s face off and are wearing it Silence of the Lambs style, which is kinda the point, but admittedly also very creepy to people!
2) Why did you need to wear masks at all? During the actual study I wasn’t a mask wearer, I just recorded data. It was a volunteer that would don the mask and hold the crow, or return a week later wearing the familiar mask. But volunteers are fickle and I couldn’t be guaranteed that the person available to help during the “funeral” presentation could come back the following week. By having people wear the masks though, it didn’t matter who was helping me, I could keep the face the same. And based on the previous facial recognition study I knew that’s really all that mattered.
3) How did we know they weren’t just freaking out because the masks are creepy? I ran controls to verify this. Linda is one of ten different masks so it was easy to verify that wasn’t what was going on. If you want to learn all the details of this study you can read it for free on my blog. You can also find me on twitter @corvidresearch where I am always available to answer all your corvid questions.
SOURCE: The Daily Grail
Upgrade to Large Hadron Collider that could ‘unlock new dimensions’
The world’s largest particle smasher is kicking off a major upgrade to churn out 10 times more data and help unlock the secrets of physics.
The European Organization for Nuclear Research, or CERN, started work Friday on a project to boost the number of infinitesimal collisions, known as ‘luminosity,’ in its Large Hadron Collider by installing high-tech magnets.
CERN says the upgrade is expected to produce greater data starting in 2026.
They said the upgrade will allow the Higgs boson ‘god particle’ to be defined more accurately, and to measure with increased precision how it is produced, how it decays and how it interacts with other particles.
In 2012, the LHC was used to prove the existence of the Higgs Boson—also dubbed the God particle—which has allowed scientists to make great progress in understanding how particles acquire mass.
In addition, scenarios beyond the Standard Model will be investigated, including supersymmetry (SUSY), theories about extra dimensions and quark substructure (compositeness) will be examined.
CERN says the collider ringing the French-Swiss border near Geneva has worked well since operations began in 2010.
CERN, perhaps most famous for confirming the subatomic Higgs boson six years ago, says the budget for the High-Luminosity LHC is about $950 million.
The work involves heavy civil engineering at the LHC’s two main sites in Switzerland and France which are run by Europe’s physics lab CERN, that will allow it to operate in a high-luminosity mode from 2026.
The project will involve the replacement of high-tech components along 1.2 kilometres of the machine, such as magnets, collimators and radiofrequency cavities.
It will also see the construction of new buildings, shafts, caverns and underground galleries, as well as tunnels and halls to house the new cryogenic equipment, as well as power supplies and cooling and ventilation kit.
The HL-LHC requires about 130 new magnets, in particular 24 new superconducting focusing quadrupoles to focus the beam and four superconducting dipoles.
Sixteen brand-new ‘crab cavities’ will also be installed to maximise the overlap of the proton bunches at the collision points.
Their function is to tilt the bunches so that they appear to move sideways – just like a crab.
‘By 2026, this major upgrade will have considerably improved the performance of the LHC, by increasing the number of collisions in the large experiments and thus boosting the probability of the discovery of new physics phenomena,’ CERN said.
The aim is increase tenfold the amount of data which can be picked up by the LHC, which is housed in a 27-kilometre (17-mile) ring-shaped tunnel buried more than 100 metres underground that runs beneath the border of Switzerland and France.
The powerful accelerator, which began operating in 2010, smashes high-energy protons into each other at velocities near the speed of light.
These collisions generate new particles, giving physicists an unprecedented look at the laws of nature in the hope of better understanding particles and matter.
Continue Reading: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/
Sounds and Whispers — What You Need To Know About Poltergeist
The expression poltergeist comes from the combining of two German words: poltern (crash) and geist (spirit or ghost). So in other words, a noisy or unruly ghost or soul. Although less common than conventional hauntings, reports of poltergeist activity dates back to the first century. In contemporary times the phenomenon has generated several major films and television programs .
So with this in mind, here are the eight main things that you need to know about poltergeists.
1. Parapsychologists can not agree on what they are
Some parapsychologists see poltergeists as a sort of ghost or supernatural entity that are accountable for physical and psychological disturbance. Other people think that such activity originates from”unknown energy” associated with a living individual or a place. Sceptics, on the other hand, favor ordinary explanations like attention seeking, pranks and trickery.
2. Poltergeists often favor women to men
A person-focused poltergeist tends to (although not necessarily ) involve a female adolescent who’s experiencing emotional turmoil when the activity begins. That said however, not all so called”focal agents” are teens. Indeed, William G. Roll, a pioneer in poltergeist research, discovered that the age of people reporting encounters of poltergeist activity ranged from eight to 78 years.
3. Some of the best poltergeists are thought to be fakes
In 1967, in a lawyer’s office at Rosenheim, Germany odd things started to occur in the presence of the 19 year old secretary Annemarie Schaberl. Paintings and overhead light fittings started swinging, while fluorescent tubes unscrewed themselves and massive spikes in electrical activity occurred. The speaking clock was also called multiple times per minute and furniture was moved. The authorities, utility company officials, physicists and parapsychologist Hans Bender investigated with no explanation. However, many think it was a bogus — all because of concealed nylon threads — particularly given that the incidents stopped when Schaberl left the company in early 1968.
4. Poltergeists like to mess with your stuff
Poltergeist activity usually starts with minor isolated episodes . This may include unexplained sounds or familiar objects like your keys or your telephone moving from their usual place. However, while poltergeist activity is normally short lived — manifestations typically lasting around five months — several instances have persisted for many years.
The Chilliwack poltergeist in Canada, for example was active for just two months between 1951 to 1952. During this time period the Poltergeist produced violent and loud hammerings on walls accompanied by occasional flying objects. The Brother Doli Case, on the other hand, included a range of phenomena — stains, carvings of images and Welsh words, normally of a religious nature — and those persisted for many years.
5. Experts are still undecided regarding the Enfield poltergeist
Among the most well-known poltergeist cases to happen in the UK involved the Hodgson Family, and their newly occupied council house in Enfield, North London. Between 1977 and 1979 it had been the scene of demonic voices, things moving without explanation, levitation and odd sounds. Events focused on the two teenage daughters Margaret and Janet.
A number of trustworthy witnesses observed phenomena — these witnesses included a police constable, a press photographer and researchers from the Society for Psychical. While researchers did discover some evidence of pranks and fakery, it was considered that a number of the poltergeist episodes were genuine.
6. Some believe that psychological stress can cause activity
Some ghost hunters and paranormals suggest that poltergeists are in fact the emotions of troubled individuals — built up during times of stress.
This concept, called Spontaneous Recurring Psychokinesis suggests this built-up stress then unconsciously projects outwards in the kind of emotional energy, which impacts the physical surroundings and creates the phenomena attributed to poltergeists. However, there’s not much evidence to support that idea.
7. Others think they are souls of the deceased
A lot of people think that spirits of the dead are responsible for poltergeist activity. This is believed to be because individuals who experience them perceive an underlying intelligence and purposeful communication with an otherworldly being. This view proposes a disembodied consciousness — or soul — survives bodily death. But there also isn’t any compelling scientific evidence to support this opinion .
8. However, sceptics put a lot of it down to misinterpretation
Misinterpretation is likely to happen when people think that a place is haunted and they’re searching for signs to verify that. This way, a lot of poltergeist activity can actually result from inaccurate perception of natural phenomena. Just take the case of the women haunted with a ticking clock, it had been actually found that the sound was created by a tiny insect. Other instances like”the curse of the spinning Egyptian” — an Egyptian statue at a Manchester museum seemed to turn itself during the day — have both been explained by physical elements like minor seismic activity, underground streams and even rainfall patterns.
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