Tag Archives: Light

Can Ghosts Cast Shadows?

Cab Ghosts Cast Shadows?


 Ghosts, thought to be the spirits of the dead, are alleged to be seen right across the world, in almost all cultures. Some witness’ report being terrified, whilst others have experiences of euphoria, calmness or life changing spiritual interactions.

 Usually spirits are reported as either looking very solid, and similar to a person known to the observer, or they are various shades of colour (white, grey, green, blue or red), see-through (in various shades of colour), or black, sometimes with the description of a black so dark even in the night the spirit appears blacker that its surrounds.
 One thing not usually reported, most likely as the observer is in fight or flight mode, is if the spirit is casting a shadow. A speculation that is widely held in the paranormal community is that spirits don’t cast shadows, as they are see-through objects, and therefore, a shadow won’t be seen, but we know this cannot be the case, as many see through objects cast shadows.

So firstly, if one was to witness a physical apparition of a spirit, one would have to believe that the spirit is operating in our physical world, and therefore some basic physics principles would apply.
 On the other hand, if spirits are purely a mental projection, or hallucination, that we perceive through our “mind’s eye”, then the physical world limitations would (and should) not apply – but truth be told, no-one can prove either way that ghosts exist or not, so as with everything in this field, it isn’t a theory, it’s a speculation.

 So, if we take than an apparition appears to us in the physical world, then it must be made of basic building blocks of some kind, chemicals, or the smallest building block, atoms.

So, do Atoms cast a shadow? Yes, they do!

An Australian team of scientists from Griffith University in New South Wales, led by Dave Keilpinski, photographed a single ytterbium ion in an electric field. The idea was to see to how many atoms together are needed before a shadow is cast, as it turned out, a single atom cast a shadow![1]
So, lets break this down, a shadow occurs when an object in a beam of light prevents a small portion of that light from continuing in the forward direction. A shadow is formed where less light is hitting the surface behind the object.
There are three ways in which light can be prevented from moving forward;

  •  Light Absorption. Light stops at an object is absorbed and converted to thermal energy (heat), because it does not reflect or refract.[2]
  • Light Reflection. Light hits an object and is reflected off the front surface and is redirected.[3]
  • Light Refraction. Light hits an object and passes through the object, with the light’s direction being bent by the object.[4]
Refraction is the key principle to consider in the case of spirits having shadows. For instance, refraction is light that is bent when the index of refraction differs from one location to the next. Air of itself, cannot refract light as it is a uniform structure, but by changing the temperature of air, refraction can occur. Air expands when heated, and contracts when cooled, if a warm pocket of air sits next to a colder pocket of air, indices of refraction will occur, causing shadow of “heat” on a surface, that often looks like a wave.

Therefore, in the case of an alleged apparition, should it not have a light refraction index, and cast a shadow?
 To add further though to this simplified explanation, is that most appearances of alleged apparitions coincide with a “hot or cold” spot, then, even more so an apparition, if truly in our physical realm, should always cast a shadow.

At the end of the day, all the above is my own personal speculation on why ghosts cast shadows, it cannot be proven one way or another without a ghost present and willing to be tested on. If you think my speculation has merit, or not, please feel free to comment on the Haunts of Adelaide Facebook page in the comment section.
Researched and Written by Allen Tiller © 2018


[1] Boyle, R., For the First Time, A Snapshot of a Single Atom’s Shadow, Australian Popular Science, (2012), retrieved from: https://www.popsci.com.au/science/for-the-first-time-a-snapshot-of-a-single-atoms-shadow,377984
[2] The Physics Classroom, (1996-2018), Light Absorption, Reflection, and Transmission, Physics Tutorial, The Physics Classroom, retrieved from, https://www.physicsclassroom.com/class/light/Lesson-2/Light-Absorption,-Reflection,-and-Transmission
[3] Science Learning Hub, (2018), Reflection of Light, New Zealand Government, retrieved from: https://www.sciencelearn.org.nz/resources/48-reflection-of-light.
[4] Science Learning Hub, (2018), Refraction of Light, New Zealand Government, retrieved from: https://www.sciencelearn.org.nz/resources/49-refraction-of-light.

Can Ghosts Cast Shadows?

Can Ghosts Cast Shadows?

Ghosts, thought by some to be the spirits of the dead, are allegedly seen across the world, in almost all cultures. Some witnesses’ report being terrified of apparitions, whilst others have experiences of euphoria, calmness or life-changing spiritual interaction.

Usually, spirits are reported as either looking very solid, and similar to a person known to the observer, or they are various shades of colour (white, grey, green, blue or red), see-through (in various shades of colour), or black, sometimes with the description of a black so dark, even in the night the spirit appears blacker than its surrounds.

One thing not usually reported, most likely as the observer is in fight or flight mode, is if the spirit is casting a shadow. Speculation that is widely held in the paranormal community is that spirits don’t cast shadows, as they are see-through objects, and therefore, a shadow won’t be seen, but is this really true, as many see-through objects cast shadows?

If one were to witness a physical apparition of a spirit, one would believe that the spirit is operating in our physical world, and therefore some basic principles of physics would therefore apply.
On the other hand, if spirits are purely a mental projection or hallucination, that we perceive through our “mind’s eye”, then physical world limitations would (and should) not apply.

Therefore, if we take than an apparition appears to us in the physical world, then it must be made of basic building blocks of some kind, chemicals, or the smallest building block, atoms.

So, do Atoms cast a shadow? (Yes, they do!)


An Australian team of scientists from Griffith University in New South Wales, led by Dave Keilpinski, photographed a single ytterbium ion in an electric field. The idea was to see how many atoms together are needed before a shadow is cast. As it turned out, a single atom cast a shadow.[1]

So, let’s break this down, a shadow occurs when an object in a beam of light prevents a small portion of that light from continuing in the forward direction. A shadow is formed where less light is hitting the surface behind the object.

There are three ways in which light can be prevented from moving forward;

  • Light Absorption: Light stops at an object, it is absorbed and converted to thermal energy (heat), because it does not reflect or refract.[2] 
  • Light Reflection: Light hits an object and is reflected off the front surface and is redirected.[3] 
  • Light Refraction: Light hits an object and passes through the object, with the light’s direction being bent by the object.[4] 

Refraction is the key principle to consider in the case of a ghost casting a shadow. For instance, refraction is light that is bent when the index of refraction differs from one location to the next. The air of itself, cannot refract light as it is a uniform structure, but by changing the temperature of the air, refraction can occur. Air expands when heated, and contracts when cooled. If a warm pocket of air sits next to a colder pocket of air, indices of refraction will occur, causing the shadow of “heat” on a surface that often looks like a wave.

In the case of an alleged apparition, should it not have a light refraction index, and cast a shadow?
To add further to this simplified explanation is that most appearances of alleged apparitions coincide with a “hot or cold” spot. Therefore, if truly in our physical realm, a spirit should always cast a shadow.

At the end of the day, all the above is my own personal speculation on why a ghost night cast a shadow. It cannot be proven one way or another without a ghost present and willing to be tested on. If you think my speculation has merit or not, please feel free to comment on the Haunts of Adelaide Facebook page in the comment section.

Researched and written by Allen Tiller © 2018

The Haunts of Adelaide: https://www.facebook.com/TheHauntsOfAdelaide/


[1] Boyle, R., For the First Time, A Snapshot of a Single Atom’s Shadow, Australian Popular Science, (2012), retrieved from https://www.popsci.com.au/science/for-the-first-time-a-snapshot-of-a-single-atoms-shadow,377984
[2] The Physics Classroom, (1996-2018), Light Absorption, Reflection, and Transmission, Physics Tutorial, The Physics Classroom, retrieved from, https://www.physicsclassroom.com/class/light/Lesson-2/Light-Absorption,-Reflection,-and-Transmission
[3] Science Learning Hub, (2018), Reflection of Light, New Zealand Government, retrieved from https://www.sciencelearn.org.nz/resources/48-reflection-of-light.
[4] Science Learning Hub, (2018), Refraction of Light, New Zealand Government, retrieved from https://www.sciencelearn.org.nz/resources/49-refraction-of-light.

Buried in the City – Colonel William Light

  
 Buried in the City – Colonel William Light
Born in Malaya in 1786, William Light was the second son of Captain Francis Light and his Princess Bride, Martinha Rozells.

 William spent the earliest part of his life at Penang, but at the age of six, was moved to England to be educated in Suffolk by Charles Doughty.
Light volunteered in the Navy in 1799, and left two years later with the title Midshipman. After which he spent some time in France and then Calcutta, before returning to Europe in 1806. In 1808 he purchased a cornetcy* in the 4th Dragoons, and was soon promoted to Lieutenant.
 Light was able to speak many languages, showed great tact, and accuracy in his reporting. This held him in great stead with his superior officers, and often led to him being chosen to be an intermediary in hostile negotiations.
 In 1812, Light was chosen to become a junior officer at Wellingtons headquarters where he would be employed on mapping, liaison duties and reconnaissance.
In 1814, Light purchased a “Captaincy of the Infantry” and spent time travelling Europe, before returning to full service working in the Channel Islands, Scotland and Ireland.
Seven years later in 1821, William Light quit the army with the rank of Major.
In 1824, Light married the Third Duke of Richmonds daughter, Mary Bennet. The newlyweds travelled extensively across Europe. Later, Light bought a yacht and sailed to Italy, then around the Mediterranean. Light visited the Egyptian city of Alexandria around 1832, at the time the economic centre of Egypt. He became friends with the powerhouse Mohammed Ali, who was rising to power in the country and would lay the foundations for modern Egypt. In 1834 Light would captain the paddle steamer “Nile” which was on its way from England to join the Egyptian Navy. The Nile would be taken over by John Hindmarsh, who would later be given a letter by Light, introducing him to Sir Charles Napier, who had recently resigned as Governor of the proposed settlement of South Australia. Hindmarsh would go on to replace Napier in that position.
In 1836, William Light was appointed Surveyor-General of South Australia. With his chosen staff, he set off for Australia in the ship “Rapid” whilst his deputy, George Kingston, set out five weeks earlier in another ship called “Cygnet”.
 Light arrived at Kangaroo Island in 1836, and visited Encounter Bay soon after, which he rejected as being a main port for the new colony. Light began to explore the coastline, and Rapid Bay caught his eye, he sailed north seeking harbours reported previously by explorers Captain Collet Barker and Captain John Jones, but to no avail. Soon the Port Adelaide River was found. Light as impressed with the location, and earmarked it as the spot for his future settlement, but first he had to follow instruction and sail to Port Lincoln to assess the possibility of that Port being the main capitol of the colony.
 Light returned to the Port Adelaide River on December 18th 1836. The site chosen was 9.6km from the ocean, and this did not please Governor Hindmarsh at all, who then set about to get the capitol site changed to Encounter Bay or Port Lincoln.
Light pressed ahead with his survey of the area, and had laid out a plan of 1042 acres by March 1837, plus twenty-nine section of Port Adelaide, as a means to pacify Hindmarsh.
 Light knew he was hard against it, the survey he been contracted to undertake was going to take many years to complete, not the few months he had been allotted when taking the contract on, so he wrote to his superiors asking for more men, equipment and time.
 His requests were rejected, and his survey was to be replaced with a faster method. If Light refused to do this, he would be put on the lesser task of coastal examination. Light promptly refused, and resigned his position, which did not improve his ailing health, for at the time Light’s health was beginning to fail considerably.
 By January 1839, William Lights health had waned, he was not able to complete a 10 hour horse ride to survey land north of Adelaide, He returned to his temporary accommodation, only
to have it burn down the following day. The fire consumed a life long collection of books, journals, maps and drawings.
 Light then moved into a house he was having built, named Theberton, he was poor in wealth and health, and survived by selling sketches.
 In May 1839, Light, despite his failing health, took part in the search for a northern route to the Murray. He returned to his home with a sever fever, and died of tuberculosis on October 6th 1839.
 Colonel William Light was buried in Adelaide, in Light Square. Governor Hindmarsh had a monument built over his grave, but unfortunately it didn’t stand the test of time. A new monument was erected in 1905.
A statue of William Light, designed by Birnie Rhind stands on Montefiore Hill, overlooking the city he founded. 
*Cortency – the office, rank, or commission of a cornet

Buried in the City – Colonel William Light

  
 Buried in the City – Colonel William Light
Born in Malaya in 1786, William Light was the second son of Captain Francis Light and his Princess Bride, Martinha Rozells.

 William spent the earliest part of his life at Penang, but at the age of six, was moved to England to be educated in Suffolk by Charles Doughty.
Light volunteered in the Navy in 1799, and left two years later with the title Midshipman. After which he spent some time in France and then Calcutta, before returning to Europe in 1806. In 1808 he purchased a cornetcy* in the 4th Dragoons, and was soon promoted to Lieutenant.
 Light was able to speak many languages, showed great tact, and accuracy in his reporting. This held him in great stead with his superior officers, and often led to him being chosen to be an intermediary in hostile negotiations.
 In 1812, Light was chosen to become a junior officer at Wellingtons headquarters where he would be employed on mapping, liaison duties and reconnaissance.
In 1814, Light purchased a “Captaincy of the Infantry” and spent time travelling Europe, before returning to full service working in the Channel Islands, Scotland and Ireland.
Seven years later in 1821, William Light quit the army with the rank of Major.
In 1824, Light married the Third Duke of Richmonds daughter, Mary Bennet. The newlyweds travelled extensively across Europe. Later, Light bought a yacht and sailed to Italy, then around the Mediterranean. Light visited the Egyptian city of Alexandria around 1832, at the time the economic centre of Egypt. He became friends with the powerhouse Mohammed Ali, who was rising to power in the country and would lay the foundations for modern Egypt. In 1834 Light would captain the paddle steamer “Nile” which was on its way from England to join the Egyptian Navy. The Nile would be taken over by John Hindmarsh, who would later be given a letter by Light, introducing him to Sir Charles Napier, who had recently resigned as Governor of the proposed settlement of South Australia. Hindmarsh would go on to replace Napier in that position.
In 1836, William Light was appointed Surveyor-General of South Australia. With his chosen staff, he set off for Australia in the ship “Rapid” whilst his deputy, George Kingston, set out five weeks earlier in another ship called “Cygnet”.
 Light arrived at Kangaroo Island in 1836, and visited Encounter Bay soon after, which he rejected as being a main port for the new colony. Light began to explore the coastline, and Rapid Bay caught his eye, he sailed north seeking harbours reported previously by explorers Captain Collet Barker and Captain John Jones, but to no avail. Soon the Port Adelaide River was found. Light as impressed with the location, and earmarked it as the spot for his future settlement, but first he had to follow instruction and sail to Port Lincoln to assess the possibility of that Port being the main capitol of the colony.
 Light returned to the Port Adelaide River on December 18th 1836. The site chosen was 9.6km from the ocean, and this did not please Governor Hindmarsh at all, who then set about to get the capitol site changed to Encounter Bay or Port Lincoln.
Light pressed ahead with his survey of the area, and had laid out a plan of 1042 acres by March 1837, plus twenty-nine section of Port Adelaide, as a means to pacify Hindmarsh.
 Light knew he was hard against it, the survey he been contracted to undertake was going to take many years to complete, not the few months he had been allotted when taking the contract on, so he wrote to his superiors asking for more men, equipment and time.
 His requests were rejected, and his survey was to be replaced with a faster method. If Light refused to do this, he would be put on the lesser task of coastal examination. Light promptly refused, and resigned his position, which did not improve his ailing health, for at the time Light’s health was beginning to fail considerably.
 By January 1839, William Lights health had waned, he was not able to complete a 10 hour horse ride to survey land north of Adelaide, He returned to his temporary accommodation, only to have it burn down the following day. The fire consumed a life long collection of books, journals, maps and drawings.
 Light then moved into a house he was having built, named Theberton, he was poor in wealth and health, and survived by selling sketches.
 In May 1839, Light, despite his failing health, took part in the search for a northern route to the Murray. He returned to his home with a sever fever, and died of tuberculosis on October 6th 1839.
 Colonel William Light was buried in Adelaide, in Light Square. Governor Hindmarsh had a monument built over his grave, but unfortunately it didn’t stand the test of time. A new monument was erected in 1905.
A statue of William Light, designed by Birnie Rhind stands on Montefiore Hill, overlooking the city he founded. 
*Cortency – the office, rank, or commission of a cornet