Wednesday, 3 October 2012

The theory behind the stone tape projector

This post is the first of two that will form a report based on Richard Felix’s presentation and demonstration of the stone tape projector which took place on Saturday 15th September 2012 in York as a part of Ghostfest 2012. This first part is an explanation of the theory he described, followed by my opinions of it. I will follow with a post about the device itself.

Richard Felix


Richard Felix is an historian who has appeared with the psychic Derek Acorah on the TV series Most Haunted, where they visited locations which were allegedly haunted and attempt to gather evidence of the hauntings and information about the spirits involved. Derek would converse with the spirits (through his spirit guide) and obtain details of the spirits and happenings of the time. Richard would then comment on the known history of the location and show consistencies with Derek’s report.

He currently runs Derby Gaol and arranges ghost walks in the Derby area. His new book What is a ghost  deals, according to him, 'with the realities of ghosts rather than the Scooby Doo side of things.'

The theory


Richard Felix believes that only 40% of hauntings and apparitions are actual spiritual intelligences; the remainder are the replay of events which have occurred in the past. This explains why in some ghost reports the spirits are said to not respond to viewers. The ghostly woman walking along the corridors of a stately home retracing the steps she took in life, and the roman soldiers marching blindly through a building which didn’t exist in their time are examples of this phenomenon. These images are stored in the fabric of the building and replayed later; the more powerful the event, the stronger the images. How could these images be stored?

Here's how Felix thinks this could happen: Many buildings are made of stone. Stone contains large quantities of silica, which is primarily composed of silicon. The integrated circuits (ICs, or chips) of computers are also made of silicon, and they store information. Therefore stones are capable of storing information. Certain stones (such as sandstone) also contain significant amounts of iron oxides. The tape within audio and video cassettes is nothing more than iron oxide spread on an acetate tape. Acetate is also claimed to be high in silica (which it is not). All is needed is a suitable device to extract this information and display it somehow. This device is the stone tape projector.

The science


I cannot comment on the nature of ghosts, or whether images are stored in the fabric of buildings. I can, however, discuss the science behind the proposed mechanism.

Put simply there is none.

Stone does contain silica, and integrated circuits do contain silicon, but there the similarity ends. The circuitry inside an IC is made by building up many layers of silicon and other compounds to make transistors, which in turn are arranged into logic gates, some of which can be used to store data. The arrangement of crystals within a rock is simply too random to allow it to function even as a crude diode, never mind even a single byte of memory.

Some rock does contain oxides of iron, but again the arrangement of these is random. The only reason that audio tape stores anything is because it has been exposed to a specific magnetic field by the recorder. Even if a person emitted a massive magnetic field when they died (which I doubt) it would not be able to affect the iron oxide molecules in the rock. The orientations of these molecules are used by scientists to deduce the state of the Earth’s magnetic field when the rock sedimented; this would be impossible if anything dying in the vicinity affected it. Also, audio tape works because it is continually moving under the write/read head. If it were to stay still there would be no way of discriminating between the different sounds recorded as time progressed.

I hope this post sums up the theory behind the ghost tape projector. I’ll follow it up with a post discussing the device itself.

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