Announcing: The Zeus Project

As you may have read in previous posts regarding the “P.M.H.”‘s potential as a new form of capacitor, as well as my ongoing article regarding the nature of St. Elmo’s Fire and its possible applications, I am working on putting together what I’ve come to call a “Mobile Laboratory”. This Mobile Laboratory, once completed, will become the main platform from which I will begin conducting experiments in regards to these things. I will provide more details about this soon.

The “Electric Fog”: An Investigation On The St. Elmo’s Fire Phenomenon And Its Potential Application

The Reason For This Investigation

     There is a name to an old phenomenon that I once experienced a while ago, that I would like to share with you, and that name is “Electric Fog”, or more officially known as St. Elmo’s Fire. The effect itself responsible for this phenomenon is of interest to me in terms of how it’s principles can be applied to my current project since there is large electrical charge present during the phenomenon with qualities seemingly more stable and predictable than that of lightning, which may be possible to “tap” into, so to speak. However before I get into the science of this too much, I am going to begin by writing of my personal encounter with this phenomenon that caused me to look into this particular, and largely unknown electro-magnetic weather anomaly in the first place.

My Experience

     My first hand experience with what I’ve come to know as “Electric Fog” happened back in 2005 at North Beach in Port Townsend, Washington. Not too long after Halloween, I remember being excited about wanting to see the Northern Lights since it was the first time I was living in a hemisphere which they were visible from, and even better yet, I was walking distance from a beach which was known for providing an excellent view of them from the cliffs of Fort Worden State Park. One of my mother’s friends had been telling me about how she had gone out there to see them the night before, and since I was so interested in science, that I would probably enjoy them as well.

After biking home from my job downtown the sky was clear and the sun had almost finished setting, so I had waited about an hour and played some video games (The Elder Scrolls: Morrowind as I recall), and my Mom had asked me if I could take our dog Sidney for a walk. He loved walks on that particular beach, and I wanted to try to see the northern lights since it was a clear night for once (Western Washington’s weather has a very bad habit of providing terrible visibility during events such as meteor showers, Northern Lights, and 4th of July fireworks). I should note that Port Townsend is well off of the beaten path. Despite its relative proximity to Seattle, most people even in this state have never heard of it, so it goes without saying that there isn’t much light pollution (or anything pollution for that matter thanks to the large hippy population there) and in the particular neighborhood in which I was living, there were only 2 street lights that worked, and none were on my block. For these reason, I had to carry a portable flood light to be able to see through the woods that the road I took goes through (otherwise it is so dark I cannot see my hand 2 inches in front of my face, let alone the street itself), and I noticed that the closer I got to the water, there was a dense fog that started appearing, despite the weather having been clear before. What was stranger about this fog was that it seemed to dampen sound (Sidney’s panting seemed muffled despite him being right next to me, and us being outdoors) and that there was absolutely no wind to have blown this fog in from anywhere. Furthermore, my flood light which had just been charged, was flickering and died before we got halfway through the woods, making me rely entirely on Sidney anxiously pulling me toward the beach as he always does, to get where we were going.

The road that goes to that beach hits a three way intersection at the end of those woods, where there is a street light around the right corner. That told me just how thick this fog was, because usually some light could be seen from it, but tonight I couldn’t hardly see the lamp until I was 10 feet from it, and even then it was just an orange glowing silhouette.

At this point, I turned down the road heading toward the beach itself, and noticed several bright white flashes in the sky like lightning, but noted that there was not a single sound of thunder, not even the sound of waves, and there was also no wind. This may not sound like much, but another interesting thing about Western Washington is that , due to the rain shadow caused by the mountains, we get a lot of rain, but almost NEVER see actual thunderstorms. So it was very odd to me that there was ‘lightning’ at all, but even more strange that there was no accompanying thunder despite the intensity of the flashes.

We got to the beach, and to my dismay, the fog was so thick that I felt as though I was looking at a grey wall. from the cliff I could not even see the water, let alone the path that went up to the old WWII bunkers, and subsequently the cliffs on which they were situated. I decided instead, that maybe walking along the shore itself would get me to a place where maybe the fog would be clearer, or a dark enough area (the street light was still illuminating the fog) that I could maybe see the lights overhead.

I walked along the beach, in pitch darkness, and complete silence (the lack of wind, and the extremely thick fog completely dampened the sound of what little waves there were) other than Sidney’s panting. It occurred to me that the tide may be rising and could cut off my path since I couldn’t see the water until I walked right up to it, and the shoreline would meet the cliffs at some points at high tide, so I turned around and started walking back. This is when things got very weird.

As I was walking back, we were still nowhere near the end of the beach where the road was, and I noticed that Sidney suddenly stopped panting, and then completely stood still and wouldn’t move. I looked down to see if he was doing his doggy business since that is usually the only reason he abruptly stops like that, but when I looked at him, I saw him staring at where the water would be.

I turned to see what he was looking at, trying to see if he saw a raccoon or coyote (since they do frequent that beach, and can be dangerous), but I saw nothing at first. Then I noticed in the middle of the fog, this dim light. It was somewhat sphere looking, in that the center was brighter than the edges, and if I had to estimate its diameter, it appeared to be at least 45-50 feet wide (as in it almost took up my entire vision of the fog). It was extremely dim at first and so I had squinted to see what exactly it was, because I thought that it may have been the light from a boat approaching the shore, and was readying myself to run down there and warn the would-be sailor of the beach since the fog was so thick, and some of the sailors in that town so weird. However, the hair on my arm stood up as though I were electrically charged, and the light got extremely bright and expanded out across the entire horizon. From where I was it looked like the sphere had moved out at least 300 feet from the shore and the expanded by 1000 feet! Soon after that, its shaped became more of a “band” or sheet that was rippling with a very strange but rhythmic pattern. It was at this point that I thought I was seeing the Northern Lights through the fog, which put a huge smile on my face. This display lasted about 3 minutes, me feeling like I was inside an old T.V. tube the whole time (because of the amount of static electricity in the air), but then it changed and startled both me and Sidney, when it ‘collapsed’ back into the sphere shape while simultaneously rushing back to the point in front of us where it had started, and then shrunk into a smaller and brighter ball of greenish light that then shot out to the west above a small house on one of the cliffs, and then stretched into a white line that shot up and to the east and then was gone.

As soon as it was gone, Sidney suddenly decided that he had no interest whatsoever in being on that beach, and started nearly dragging me back home. I noticed that when the glow vanished, I no longer felt my hair standing on on, but the fog was still there and still very thick. I told my stepdad about this when I got home, and he had said it sounded to him like “St. Elmo’s Fire”. Some research has turned up that this effect, while similar, is not actually St. Elmo’s Fire, but rather something that some people refer to as an “Electric Fog” or “Electromagnetic Fog” and it is the effect that is said to be responsible for the phenomena that have disrupted the instruments of countless sailors and pilots, leading to such stories as the “Bermuda Triangle” as well as countless supposed “UFO” sightings. However this phenomenon, while appearing otherworldly, is a mundane (though largely misunderstood) property of the Earth’s countless weather events resulting from electrical and magnetic charges in the atmosphere, and in my case, was most likely exacerbated by the disruptions to the Earth’s magnetosphere and ionosphere from the solar activity. The Northern Lights that I was looking for is just one of many examples.

Observed Properties Based On First Hand Experience:

  1. The effect was observed in close proximity to the ocean, which is composed primarily of salt water, a naturally occurring electrolyte.
  2. The effect appears to be a result of some electromagnetic change in atmosphere. Wether that change is localized or not isn’t currently known.
  3. The first noticeable effect is a dense fog that appears to have a grey hue to it.
  4. This fog has an observable sound-dampening effect
  5. Flashes of white light within the fog may be indicative of electrical discharges occurring within various points in the fog. These points may be variances of density in the fog, or may be variances in charge; both may be possible.
  6. That these discharges are not accompanied by a “thunderclap” may be indicative of the discharges not being caused by a voltage differential, as is the case with lightning, which causes an electrical breakdown of atmospheric matter, that in turn results in a rapid expansion and subsequent collapse of the air surrounding the breakdown point which is observed as an audible shockwave.
  7. The apparent electrically charged state of this fog seems to affect certain atmospheric properties around it, such as decreased windspeed; It is entirely possible that the null windspeed may actually be requisite environmental property for the “fog” to occur, rather than being a result of the fog.
  8. As a human observer inside the fog, my hair stood on end which would indicate that there was a significant ionic charged within the fog.
  9. The charge inside the fog was significant enough to visibly cause a large-area coronal discharge of a green-grey hue, that did not seem to be induced by any particular influence (e.g. there were no power lines or high-energy electrical equipment that could have been responsible for charging a condensation-based fog).
  10. There was a change in behavior of an animal (dog) which would further indicate an abnormal electrical field; something which many animals are known to be sensitive to. Furthermore, coronal discharges can sometimes happen in frequencies outside of the range of human hearing (such as the glass screen of a Cathode-Ray-Tube television which oscillates at a frequency of 60KHz {60,000 cycles per second}), but would be in the hearing range of a dog explaining why Sidney’s attention was drawn to the corona as it began to coalesce into a visible glow that changed form as the field properties presumably changed (e.g. being influenced by the distorting of the Ionosphere by a solar storm).

We are going to come back to these 10 points later on in this investigation to analyze what laws and properties would explain these observations, so that we can then determine what would be the most probable cause for this phenomenon on a fundamental level (since it is already known WHY it happens, but not entirely what could predictably CAUSE it to happen). As Sherlock Holmes once said, “When you eliminate the impossible, what ever remains, however improbable, must be the truth”.

Purported Eye-Witness Accounts Publicly Available

  1. There are very few detailed accounts from ancient times, though there are summarizations of these effects being observed. This phenomena was known in ancient Greece by the names Helena (in the case of a single appearance) or Castor and Pollux (in the case of two appearances). Welsh mariners knew it as The Candles of St. David”. There are many similar stories from all over the world.
  2. James Braid wrote of the following experience he had on the Thursday of February 20 in 1817 whilst horseback riding during a severe electrical storm: “On Thursday 20th, I was gratified for a few minutes with the luminous appearance described above [viz., “such flashes of lightning from the west, repeated every two or three minutes, sometimes at shorter intervals, as appeared to illumine the whole heavens”]. It was about nine o’clock, P.M. I had no sooner got on horseback than I observed the tips of both the horse’s ears to be quite luminous: the edges of my hat had the same appearance. I was soon deprived of these luminaries by a shower of moist snow which immediately began to fall. The horse’s ears soon became wet and lost their luminous appearance; but the edges of my hat, being longer of getting wet, continued to give the luminous appearance somewhat longer.
    I could observe an immense number of minute sparks darting towards the horse’s ears and the margin of my hat, which produced a very beautiful appearance, and I was sorry to be so soon deprived of it.
    The atmosphere in this neighbourhood appeared to be very highly electrified for eight or ten days about this time. Thunder was heard occasionally from 15th to 23d, during which time the weather was very unsteady: frequent showers of hail, snow, rain, &c.
    I can find no person in this quarter who remembers to have ever seen the luminous appearance mentioned above, before this season,—or such a quantity of lightning darting across the heavens,—nor who have heard so much thunder at that season of the year.
    This country being all stocked with sheep, and the herds having frequent occasion to pay attention to the state of the weather, it is not to be thought that such an appearance can have been at all frequent, and none of them to have observed it.”
  3. A passenger aboard The Hindenburg purportedly had witnessed the glow of St. Elmo’s Fire and had pointed it out to his wife minutes before the zeppelin had ignited.
  4. In 1904, a sailor aboard a British steamer, The Mohican, wrote the following observation: “… For that length of time the vessel was enshrouded in a strange metallic vapor, which glowed like phosphorus. The entire vessel looked as if it were afire and the sailors flitted about the deck like glowing phantoms. The cloud had a strange magnetic effect on the vessel, for the needle of the compass revolved with the speed of an electric motor and the sailors were unable to raise pieces of steel from the magnetized decks. Captain Urquhart described the thrilling experience and his story is vouched for by every man of the crew.”It was shortly after the sun had gone,” he said, “and we were in latitude 37 degrees 16 minutes and longitude 72 degrees 48 minutes. The sea was almost as level as a parlor carpet and scarcely a breeze ruffled the water. It was slowly growing dark when the lookout saw a strange gray cloud in the southeast. At first it appeared as a speck on the horizon, but it rapidly came nearer and was soon as large as [a] balloon.”
  5. “In 1966, a tugboat captain, Don Henry was on his way from Puerto Rico to Fort Lauderdale on a clear afternoon. Suddenly the compasses on his tug began to spin wildly as a strange darkness descended on them and the horizon couldn’t be seen. Water was coming in all directions, and their electrical power failed completely. A dense fog covered their tug. Luckily, their engine kept going and they moved out of the fog. Looking back, the fog was densely concentrated in a solid block, “a bank.” Inside this area, the sea was boiling. Outside this area, the sea was calm.” [The “boiling sea” was most likely due to CO2 rising out of the ocean, which would potentially affect atmospheric conditions. e.g. a Van de Graaf effect. One of Tesla’s proposed devices would have used a similar principle to electrify the air around it as well as inside of it. Another proposed cause was seismic activity which has been known to cause similar rare phenomenon on occasion such as spontaneous appearances of ‘rainbows’ with no clouds or rain, right before an earthquake happening. This will be addressed later on.]
  6. My final entry in this part of the investigation comes from a posting on Yahoo! Answers wherein the poster of the original question had requested that anyone with a first-hand account of St. Elmo’s Fires share their account, to be used in a college thesis the poster had been writing (I would have shared my experience, but the posting was long since closed). The following answer that was posted to this by “Michel Verheughe” is as follows: “The year was 1995 and I was sailing alone my 27 feet sailboat off the north coast of Galicia, in Spain, toward La Coroña. It was at night and, as it often happens there, the fog came. Then a thunderstorm happened right above the inversion of the fog. While rare, it can happen; I have experienced it twice. As lightning strikes in the fog, the entire sky illuminates for a fraction of a second. There was no wind at all and I was slowly motoring, hoping not to meet the shipping lane. Then I noticed dolphins crossing my bow, in the dark. I could see them because they made stardust trails in the phosphorescent plankton. It was like … something from another world! Then suddenly, the spreaders (what keeps the shrouds holding the mast, away from it) on both sides started glowing with a light ball. I thought my last moment had come! It even made a faint buzzing sound. It lasted for about half an hour, I think. I wasn’t sure what to do because I was between a dangerous coast, without a detailed map, and a very busy shipping lane; all the traffic coming and going to north Europe, passing Cape Finisterre. I had built a watertight door, separating the foc’sle and the main cabin, and I closed it and dressed in my survival suit. During my entire life of single-handed sailing, it was the only time I did that. As daylight came and the fog lifted, I sailed into the small fishing harbour of Tapia de Casariego, to rest, after my most memorable night at sea – from half a century of sailing the European waters. I have been told that I experienced the St. Elmo’s fire but what was most memorable was the company of the dolphins. I felt they were there to keep me safe. You have to experience it to understand.”
  7. *While this isn’t an instance of naturally occurring St. Elmo’s Fire, and stems from many of the eye-witness claims surrounding the infamous “Philadelphia Experiment”, it is interesting to note that dozens of witness claims mentioned the appearance of a dark grey-green fog that enveloped the U.S.S. Eldridge before is supposedly “vanished”. I am not saying that this lends credibility to the claims of the ship teleporting or disappearing, or to supposed Time Travel and Teleportation Conspiracies covered-up by the U.S. Government (in fact I largely disregard this as anyone else would except, such as now, when some portions of the rumor or claim hold some pieces of information which are logical and possible), but it is an interesting phenomenon that a layman would not think to make up (but a very skilled liar could throw in there for the very reason of making it look credible) and does indicate that something relating to electrical fields was done during that experiment. Although there is many reasons that this experiment is claimed a hoax, the U.S.S. Eldridge does still exist, though under a different name now, and there is physical evidence on board that some sort of unconventional electrical equipment had been used, though the reason may never be known. In summary, the observed side-effects of this alleged experiment draw many parallels to the observations noted by those who have witnessed the St. Elmo’s Fire phenomenon. More importantly, these observations may hint that it could be possible to replicate the conditions that tend to result in the manifestation of the St. Elmo’s Fire Phenomenon. This is the only reason that these particular observations merit a mention in this article.
     It is apparent that each account varies in wording and description depending on the time period from which these purported statements were taken, as well as the personalities and backgrounds of each of the witnesses. For this reason, it would be unwise to take the statements at face value and assume them all to be 100% true (i.e. believing that dolphins were in-fact “watching over” Michel, or that the sea between Fort Lauderdale and Puerto Rico was in-fact boiling). Instead, what follows next will be a bullet-point list of observations common across all of these cases, including my own, and written out in plain english to further analyze.
Commonalities Of Each Instance
  • 1. An appearance of a green or “phosphorescent” glow and/or a coalescence of white green light.
  • 2. Bright white flashes of light with little to no apparent source.
  • 3. The presence of a dense grey fog that had an observable static electric quality to it.
  • 4. Objects and edges in the fog gaining a “luminous” quality, or glow along their edges. On occasion there may be sparks, or visible electric discharges.
  • 5. Metallic structures exposed to this fog serve as conduits for a build up and discharge of the electrical energy, resulting in a ball of light and sometimes plasma arcs (however, not of the same magnitude as lightning).
  • 6. In some instances, the glows, or lights can make an audible sound.
  • 7. The phenomenon localized to areas that can be a few hundred square feet wide, to several miles.
  • 8. When applicable (e.g. animals being present when the phenomenon was witnessed), the phenomenon tends to elicit abnormal behavior in animals.
  • 9. The fog having a magnetic effect. e.g. Magnetic-based navigational equipment being disrupted. Metal being attracted to the decks of ships which had suddenly become magnetized, etc.
  • 10. The fog having an electro-magnetic interference effect. e.g. disrupting and subsequently shutting down ship electrical systems, while not affecting engines that were not electrically operated (diesel), causing compasses to behave like an electric motor, etc.
  • 11. A complete absence of wind [wether as a result of the fog, or as a condition for the manifestation of the phenomenon is still unknown].
  • 12. Very placid ocean waters (with the exception of one account of the water seeming to boil). [again, wether this is a result of the phenomenon, or a condition for manifesting the phenomenon is still unknown].
  • 13. The fog having a tendency to dampen sound more than is normal for a condensation fog [my personal experience of it would have me to describing like feeling as if there were cotton balls stuffed into your ears].

Based on the observations thus far, it can be noted that St. Elmo’s Fire, while having similar properties to that of “Lightning”, is more stable and somewhat more predictable than the latter. Furthermore, there have been no known cases of death by the “St. Elmo’s Fire” phenomenon, with exclusion to the purported observation which may have implicated it as the cause of the Hindenburg incident. As such, it makes a much more attractive candidate for capturing atmospheric electrical energy, than Lightning. The next thing to do at this point, having gathered the common observances between each instance of witnessing this phenomenon, is to look at the possible causes of these effects from a scientific perspective; an analytical reverse-engineering, we could say. One this is done, then we can move on to determining the conditions needed to cause this phenomenon to occur, by way of formulating a set of hypotheses. These hypotheses can then be tested in future experiments, and if successful, a means for the potential application of the energy which manifests in, or as a result of, this phenomenon can be devised.

Analysis of The Commonalities

1. “An appearance of a green or ‘phosphorescent’ glow and/or a coalescence of white green light.”

The cause of this particular effect is easily recognizable as being ionization. Ionization is the physical process of changing an atom or molecule into an ion by adding or removing charged particles such as electrons or other ions. Let’s just leave the description at this for now, since this process is an entire physics lesson in itself. The reason the glow occurs during this phenomenon is due to a two-part action on a subatomic level. Electron excitation and then electron relaxation. When the electrons are added to an atom or molecule to convert it into an ion, electron excitation occurs. This happens because as another electron is released from the atom or molecule it is bonded to during the sequential-ionization process, it may end up being absorbed by another free moving, or bonded electron. The best way that I can describe the second process, electron relaxation, is that as the excited electron moves freely, it slowly loses the energy that placed it into an excited state by either transferring that energy to a third “spectator” particle, or radiating it in the form of a photon (light), or both. This dispersing of energy in the form of photons, as the electron tries to return to its natural state is what causes the glow. The glow most likely localizes the certain areas, or appears as a sphere, is because these areas are the source of the electro-magnetic energy causing the ionization to happen in the first place. The source of this ionization, why it coalesces in the way that it does, and the cause of its erratic movement, are still not fully understood. The color of the glow, green or white, is determined by the intensity of the energy causing the electron excitation, since this subsequently determines the frequency at which the photon oscillates as it leaves the electron, which our eyes interpret as a particular color. I could go into the physics of this as well, but light frequencies are extremely high, with their wavelengths in the nanometer (nm) range, and thus it becomes very complex very quickly to explain this and how it translates to color. Suffice it to say, that the green and white appearance would be indicative of a strong charge. With devices such as tesla coils, “Farnsworth fusors”, and flyback transformers, weaker coronal discharges tend to appear purple-blue, with stronger ones having a green or white hue (in the case of plasma arcs, weaker arcs appear red while stronger ones appear yellow-orange).

In summary: The glow witnessed is due to coronal discharge from an unknown source. This source may be stationary, or move erratically causing the glow to change shape. The particles being ionized are still in question.

2.  “Bright white flashes of light with little to no apparent source.”

This aspect of the phenomenon is similar to 1. In this case however, it would seem that instead of a constant coronal discharge due to ionization, there is one intense coronal discharge similar to lightning. The difference between this effect, and conventional lightning is that a lightning bolt is a result of air breaking down between a positively charged region (i.e. clouds) and a negatively charged region (i.e. the ground, a tree, telephone pole, lightning rod, etc.). When the air between these two regions breaks down, an electrical conduit is formed and electrons from the negatively charged region rush to the positively charged region so as to equalize the differential between the two (e.g. electrons rushing from the ground to the sky, forming a ‘lightning bolt’). A side effect of this electrical breakdown, and arcing in this atmosphere, is that the air around the conduit is rapidly heated, causing a pressure wave that we hear as thunder. In the case of the “electric fog”, we see a flash, as we would with lightning, but there is no bolt, there is no thunder, and the light seems to come from everywhere (from the perspective of an observer inside of this fog). This here is the key to determining the cause of these flashes.

First of all, there is no thunder. Considering what was explained before to cause thunder, we can assume that there must be no pressure wave during the coronal discharge created and thus nothing for us to hear. This leads to the second point: Since there is nothing for us to hear, there must not be a condition that would generate the heat which would cause the pressure wave. If this is true, then we can conclude that there is no air breaking down to form a conduit for the discharge path. If there is no conduit, then this would explain why there is no visible bolt since the bolt appears as such since the energy is confined to the relatively small dimensions of the conduit. This means that the electrical energy from the differential is being evenly dispersed through the particles that compose the fog itself in a single, intense pulse of electron excitation and relaxation resulting in a flash of bright light that. It would appear to come from everywhere when the observer is inside the fog, since it is the fog itself that is lighting up as its constituent particles release light from the electrical discharge. In the cases of flashes that are visibly confined to a certain area, the same holds true as before, except that the differential is smaller, and the source may be something external to the phenomenon itself, such as a boat mast, bird, or aircraft wing. For the purposes of clarity, when I say external, I don’t mean in terms of physical location, but rather in terms of condition. As in, the source was not a contributing factor, or cause of the initial manifestation of the phenomenon.

In summary: An electrical discharge similar to that of lightning seems to be occurring. The fundamental difference here being that there is no electrical breakdown of atmosphere to form a conduit, and thus no destructive plasma arcs or audible thunderclaps.

3. “The presence of a dense grey fog that had an observable static electric quality to it.”

This particular quality of St. Elmo’s Fire is what has caused it to be unofficially termed the “Electric Fog” or “Electromagnetic Fog”, and will possibly be more difficult to determine the cause of. What is known is that it invariably is seen before, during and after the phenomenon is witnessed, sometimes as a dark grey or black cloud, sometimes as a sort of mass with finite dimensions, and sometimes and a seemingly conventional fog that appears darker, thicker and having qualities that a conventional fog would not exhibit. It is because of this that I personally am of the inclination of one of three possibilities:

a. that these fogs would be constituted from particulate matter other than water vapor, such as volcanic ash, carbon particles from factory emissions, or some form of substrate originating in the ocean bed that, through one means or another, ends up being suspended in the air, and is somehow electrically charged, or susceptible to gaining a charge which in turn causes the substrate particles to coalesce into a cloud-like mass, or fog [The boiling ocean observation in particular would seem to support this].

b. that these fogs would be constituted from water vapor that has become electrically charged to in such a peculiar way, and under certain conditions, that it would exhibit properties more likened to that of a massive particle than that of water. Water is a weakly diamagnetic material, meaning that it will always repel a magnetic force (here is a good video demonstrating this) . The speed of light in water is also slower. This is the reason why nuclear reactors and nuclear waste submerged in water glow blue. Water is used in these cases because it slows down neutrons to convert their radiation from ionizing to thermal. However, even slowed down, the neutrons are moving faster than light while in the water medium since the speed of light is slower in it, and thus the neutrons emit photons in the form of blue light. Water is also a dielectric, which means that it can be polarized by an applied electric field. What the significance of this is, is that the grey fog could be grey because of a possible change in density  through interactions involving its dielectric and diamagnetic characteristics to coalesce into an electrically charged cloud or fog. In an electrically polarized state, the individual water vapor particles could slow down, or otherwise inhibit the way light passes through them more than normal, explaining the “grey-green” appearance of the fog.

c. that these fogs would be constituted not from physical particulate matter or water vapor, but rather a cloud of ions that coalesce from, and are sustained by excess electrical charges in the medium they are contained within. The fog itself wouldn’t be from these ions, but from dust and debris in the air that would be attracted to this charged cloud and would move with it. If this were the case, it would not only account for the grey-green or metallic appearance of the cloud, but would also explain the electrical phenomena as the charges that create the cloud would be shifting and balancing depending on any changes in the medium, such as an increase or decrease in electrical differential between different points in the fog, or from external factors, such as a solar storm, changing in intensity, causing the medium itself (e.g. the atmosphere) to have a different charge that this ion fog would react to accordingly. Metal objects that entered the fog, such as a boat mast, would attract these ions due to its inherent conductivity, thus causing the coronal discharges witnessed. Other effects of the fog, such as shutting down electrical systems would be explained due to these ions being attracted to the electrical fields of those systems, thus interfering with them. It would be interesting to know if there were any observed increase in the thickness of the fog, or brightness of the glow around these systems, as this would further support this particular idea (although it could easily explain the others as well).

While all of these possibilities can be equally likely since each is demonstrable on their own, an experiment which can include a reproduction of each and every commonality observed when reproducing these conditions would be the best way to determine which one (or all) is correct. The interesting aspect of this is that the best laboratory environment would be outdoors, near or on an oceanic body. Since this would be easier to do in terms of cost, and possibly far more accurate than a laboratory setting, it would be my first choice in experiment environment.

In summary: There are three prevailing ideas of why a fog is present during the phenomenon, why it is grey, and why it has an electrical quality to it. The common element of the three is that the fog is either the cause of the observed events of the phenomenon itself, or a visible by-product of the phenomenon. However, experiments testing each of these three ideas would be the best course of action in accurately determining what is the actual reason.

[NOTE: This article is currently a work in progress, so certain things now may be different than the final product]… More to come soon.

The “Perpetual Motion Holder”: Investigating the principles behind Edward Leedskalnin’s most popular device.

Edward Standing infront of The Coral Castle

For those of you who don’t know, Edward Leedskalnin was a Latvian man who came to America around 1919. He was a pretty ordinary man aside from his magnum opus: The Coral Castle. This was a structure that was built with much precision, yet the structures of The Coral Castle were very large, and whats more; Edward built it completely alone, with tools that he had made himself. One of the key devices, “The Perpetual Motion Holder”.

The “Tripod” with his “Perpetual Motion Holder”

Based on what I have personally read of Edward’s writings, it is apparent that he was very minimally educated in the fields of electrical engineering and physics, and so came up with several of his own theories regarding how his devices were able to work to assist in constructing The Coral Castle. In my personal interpretation, some of the things he writes of, such as “Magnetic Current” sounds like a layman’s interpretation of the complex interactions between particles on an atomic and sub-atomic level, however some of the things he describes also would challenge the established laws of physics as we know them, but also make some sense in an abstract way.

Edward demonstrating his “Flywheel”. Note the crinkled chain above it.

The reason that this has not altogether been tossed out by society as completely bunk is because there is a very simple experiment that Edward himself details in one of his writings, and this experiment does indeed seem to defy certain established laws of physics. I will be doing this very same experiment, but with a bit of a twist as well. Thanks to the advent of the internet, many instances of this experiment being performed can be readily seen on various media sites. If you were to got to Youtube and do a search for the “Perpetual Motion Holder”, and watch any three of the videos that result, there are many things that you will notice in each case. The main three that I will be focusing on are:

1) The Devices all appear to create a self-perpetuating electro-magnetic field without a constant source of energy;
2) The Devices all appear to create a circulating “magnetic current” which, when broken, releases an amount of energy equal to the amount input to the circuit;
3) The Devices all appear to maintain this state of equilibrium regardless of the amount of time since the self-perpetuating reaction was first initiated, and the energy stored inside this reaction does not appear to diminish over time.

There are many theories as to why this happens. The two most prevalent are Edward’s own theory of “Magnetic Current”, and another that says it is an effect called “Remanence“. The purpose of this project, and the experiments to be performed with it during this investigation are as follows:

1) To re-create the results as seen in many other amateur experiments, as well as those described by Edward Leedskalnin himself;
2) To attempt to detect the properties the field (if any);
3) To determine that the coils will release the same amount of energy upon disruption, as was input during activation, and how much work is required to disrupt the reaction. (This may lead to a possible application as a capacitor). If there is a limit to energy the device can handle (possible saturation);
4) To determine if there is any form of minute decay in field strength over time that would otherwise not be observable;

The device I will build here is going to be a “Perpetual Motion Holder” that is designed in such a way that I will be able to alter the properties of the coils without any need to disassemble them. It will be made with an iron U-bolt that has a pair of coils wound around each of the ends of the bolt. Each coil will be wound as a Bifilar-type, the leads of which will be isolated too individual jumpers so as to be isolated, altered, or linked however an individual experiment may require. The power supply of the circuit will be a low voltage DC source ranging from 1-12 volts, and a high-voltage source made from a charged capacitor bank triggered through a vacuum spark gap.

Materials Needed:
– x1 U-Bolt (will get the size specs soon)
– x4 Nuts (2 normal, 2 with insulated inner threading)
– x4 washers
– x2 Red Spools of 22 gauge magnetic wire [RS# xxx-xxxx]
– x2 Blue Spools of 22 gauge magnetic wire [RS#xxx-xxxx]
– x1 8-point mounting post [RS#xxx-xxxx]
– x1 Radioshack SPST Toggle switch
– x1 Radioshack SPST momentary pushbutton switch
– x1 Single AA battery holder
– x1 Disposable Camera
– x1 Crimp-on wire connectors
– x1 container of 5-minute epoxy
– x1 Radioshack Project box
– x1 Dremel tool, or drill
– a soldering iron, solder, and some spare wire

This is our PMH box with all of the components, prior to assembly

Core Construction process:
1 ) Measure out the width of your U-bolt prongs to drill the holes for them. to do this, I used a piece of printer paper taped to a flat surface. Holding the U-bolt steady and perpendicular to the paper (the flat ends of the bolt should make it such that the bolt could stand up on its own), I carefully traced the ends of the bolt. I then used a ruler to find the center-point of the resulting circles and drew that point, as well as a centerline to help keep them visible. I then took this guide and cut it out so that I could tape it onto the project box’s top face.

These are the main pieces I’m working with at this point. Here I have already removed the circuit board from the camera.

2 ) Using your stencil, very carefully drill the holes for the bolt. I used a drill bit that had a shank diameter equal to that of the U-bolt so as to ensure a snug fit. Make sure that you use the correct bit type for this. Since the box is a type of plastic, a bit with a wide-angle head should be used, and at a moderate speed. REMEMBER: the safest way to use a drill is by holding it in your dominant hand, with your index finger in line with the body of the drill, using the middle finger to pull the drill trigger. To prevent the drill bit from travelling, I used a small nail to create a dimple, then used the dimple to guide a very small drill bit, and then stepped the holes up until they were the desired size.

3 ) Next insert the U-bolt into the holes so that the prongs are outside of the box. The threading of the U-Bolt may cause it to catch on the holes, but a little careful pressure should cause it to eventually go through. If the holes aren’t quite large enough to allow the U-bolt in at all, you can either widen the holes by using a slightly larger drill bit, or use a Dremel tool to carefully widen them. Once the bolt is through far enough that the “U” portion of the U-bolt is pinching against the wall of the box, hold it in place either with duct or electric tape, or by hand.

4 ) Thread on the regular nuts, one to each prong, such that they are fully seated at the bottom of the threading. Take care to ensure that they are properly threaded on and as parallel and level with each other as possible.

5 ) Prepare the 5-minute epoxy by squeezing out a tiny amount of each. The proper mix ratio should be 1-to-1 (1:1), so if you have a centimeter-wide glob of resin, you should also drop a centimeter wide glob of hardener next to it. Use a q-tip, toothpick, or other similar implement to mix the two together until they are fully combined, resulting (usually) in a pale yellowish mixture. Use a small implement to apply this epoxy to the bottom of the nuts and part of the shank of each side of the U-bolt. Pull the U-bolt back into the box slightly, until the bottoms of the nuts are resting squarely on the face of the box and then apply some epoxy around the base of the drilled holes on the inside of the box, making sure that it also is on the shank as well.

6 ) This part requires some patience. Hold the U-bolt in place by firmly pressing it into the face of the project box for about five minutes to allow the epoxy to properly set (which is why I chose 5 minute epoxy instead of the usual 24 hour). During this time, take care to not let the epoxy get on your hands or skin in any way as these chemicals can irritate your skin, or bond your fingers together easily (and is a pain to wash off skin even before it sets and even if it isn’t combined. It is even more difficult, if not impossible to remove from clothing).

7 ) Once the epoxy has set, run the washers down the U-bolt ends until they sit on the upward face of the nuts, taking care to ensure that they are also as level with each other as possible. Apply epoxy at the joint between the nuts and the washers in the same fashion as before. This time you do not need to hold them in place since gravity will do this for you.

8 ) Wait 24 hours to allow all of the epoxy to fully cure. Make sure to save the epoxy containers for later as epoxy will be needed later on as well.

Charging Circuit Construction Process:
Disclaimer: Before beginning with this part, I have to state that handling high voltage capacitors, especially those inside of a camera, is VERY DANGEROUS if not LETHAL when done incorrectly or carelessly. Flyback transformer output voltages, while painful (and capable of causing RF burns), are not entirely harmful on their own. However, when the High Frequency High-Voltage output of a flyback is coupled with a voltage multiplier to charge capacitors, it is almost certainly DEADLY if handled wrong. Charging capacitors can easily store several dozens, if not hundreds of amps which can easily fibrillate a human heart, and flyback circuits can charge them to to these levels very quickly! This being said, great care must be taken here, and I would not recommend this for amateurs. Ultimately, the reader assumes responsibility for all the risks should they choose to attempt this. I am not responsible for any use, or misuse of this device.

A bit of shopping around may need to be done for this part. I personally went to a Goodwill store and searched for an external camera flash since these usually have larger capacitors and two triggering circuits (one of which will hopefully contain the vacuum spark gap). The capacitor was a 330wv photo capacitor. The charging circuits were too large to be of use for this project so I went with a disposable camera instead.

1) With your disposable camera, first remove the cardboard or paper covering. This exposes the hook points used to separate the front and back of the camera.

2) Use a small screwdriver with an insulated handle (such as plastic or rubber), and pry it underneath these hooks. They should look like square or semi-circular pieces with a tab in the center of them. When doing this, take care not to expose the film, and slowly roll it back into its case, leaving just a small amount sticking out so that it can be used in another camera. If you don’t care about the film, then ignore it.

3) Handle the camera by lightly cradling the front of it in your hand with removing the back slowly, taking care not to touch any metal parts inside, or the circuit board itself once it is exposed.

4) Look for the capacitor in the device. It is a long cylinder, usually black, and may either be soldered onto the circuit board, or connected via long wires or leads. if it is connected by leads, use the screw driver to short them out by placing the metal head over each lead simultaneously, making sure to not touch the leads or the metallic part of the screwdriver with your fingers. There will most likely be a loud spark and flash, although sometimes this wont happen if the capacitor has already been discharged, or is wired in parallel with a bleeder resistor.

5) The circuit is now relatively safe to handle. Make sure that the battery is removed, otherwise if it is turned on while you are holding it, the charging voltage may give you a bit of a buzz;it is usually around 1.4kV (1,400 volts) at a couple milliamps which wont injure you, but doesn’t feel pleasant, and can easily cause your hand to spasm which may result in you hurting yourself or damaging the circuit.

6) Carefully remove the circuit from the camera, taking care not to damage the flash tube, the capacitor, or any other wires or components attached to it.

7) Solder your wire to the main contact points of the circuit. The on/off section should be two surfaces that usually have a light amount of solder on them in a diagonal pattern, the trigger switch is usually two copper strips extending from the board, the battery leads will be obvious, the capacitor leads will also be obvious.

… More to come soon.