# Is there a spirit world?

Ivan Seeking said:
Whewww! You scared the Jesus out of me there, but I see where you are going. I still don't agree entirely but I can see your point.
OK.
I have always believed that we may find "physical" explanations for "genuine mystical" phenomenon, but this is certainly a personal bias.
Actually, I'm right with you on this one. I think that if any phenomenon turns out to be "genuine" it will have properties that are detectable in terms of conventional physics.
Still, based on some of the most extreme ideas from physics we are starting to see some potential cracks in the lining to explain some claimed phenomenon.
Without knowing what specific extreme ideas you mean, I can only say that, in general, as long as they remain extreme they are as fragile as they are extreme, their potential subject to whether or not someone comes up with a better different theory.
I do try to keep an open mind that people may recognize some essential truth even if they can't explain it in sensible terms.
Same here.

Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
With the understanding that tomorrow's conventional physics might be considered voodoo today, I think we agree. As for the potential cracks, the emphasis on these two words was meant to make clear that as you said, these are fragile ideas for now at least. I read and consider but surely don't adhere to ideas like a conscious universe, quantum telepathy, or spontaneous parallel worlds hopping, but these are the sorts of things being kicked around.

One thought on this point of fragile theories, or more appropriately perhaps, fragile suppositions. My first year chem professor once commented that today’s popular literature is like the old fireside and brandy, "gentlemen’s" discussion of the once elite communities of academia. Consider the stuff that today generates lots of book sales for subjects like physics but that officially are fringe; say for example some of the discussions found in books by Michio Kaku - perhaps the Carl Sagan of modern physics. My professor’s suggestion was that these sorts of discussion were once kept mostly within the walls of the ivory tower, or even by the fireside, because academic life was so sheltered. Now, with the advent of the university systems and mass education, academic life has spread out over the globe. The fireside chats wtihin this once closely knit community of academics has been replaced with the popular “scientific” literature of today that raises eyebrows in any serious scientific discussion.

Last edited:
zoobyshoe said:
Actually, I'm right with you on this one. I think that if any phenomenon turns out to be "genuine" it will have properties that are detectable in terms of conventional physics.

Had a couple of the wife's girlfriends for the weekend, so I have been out of the loop here for a bit. Zooby makes a critical point here, and more clearly than I made it earlier. Any true phenomenon must satisfy ALL the laws of physics.

Given this, I find many of the phenomena postulated by "spiritualists," using the term very loosely, to be impossible on their face. For example, consider the idea of poltergeists; to change an objects state of motion requires a force to be applied by Newton's 2nd Law, and this requires that the object applying the force have some mass. However, spirits, as I understand their current definition are massless.

Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
Well, this sort of supposition about what a ghost is or is not is rather insignificant given the lack of data. This is the problem. If there is such as thing as ghosts we don't know enough to suggest the physics of them [the Casper kind]. We can say that we have no generally accepted physical evidence that they exist but it is fallacious to argue that for this reason ghosts don't exist. This I think is the core of your arguement and it simply doesn't hold.

All that we can say is that we don't have enough data, and we can't imagine an explanation consistent with known physics to explain ghosts. Or simply, we have no physical evidence to suggests that ghosts exist. But that's it. If they don't exist, we will likely never do better than this unless all of the reports simply go away, or until we can scrutinize people's honesty and memories so as to determine exactly what they really may have, or may not have experienced.

spirits, as I understand their current definition are massless

For example, says who? Who would know and how would they know?

Ivan Seeking said:
For example, says who? Who would know and how would they know?
Ivan, I had the ghost of Isaac Newton over just the other night. Just for the hell of it, I put him on the bathroom scale. Believe me: he weighed nothing.

Ivan Seeking said:
For example, says who? Who would know and how would they know?

Well, after a quick search for a definition, I found the following from the American Ghost Society:

"A ghost is by definition, a disembodied spirit or mind." And, from Websters Unabridged Dicitionary of the English Language, a spirit is: " A concious, incorporeal being, as opposed to matter."

Certainly implies masslessness (Is that even a word?)

The thing is, those definitions are delineating the current usage of the word "ghost" by the general population. The general population is not physics savy, and by saying "incorporeal" "as opposed to matter" they are not really alluding to any rigorous physics definition of matter. The opposing pair here is matter vs. spirit, not matter vs. energy.

Those were the best definitions I could find quickly. I had a lot of difficulty finding even those (except for the Webster's of course). This is an indication I think of the complete lack of any kind of scientific rigor in the paranormal area. One site I visited had four different, and very vague, definitions of ghost - pick which one you like I guess!

Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
zoobyshoe said:
Ivan, I had the ghost of Isaac Newton over just the other night. Just for the hell of it, I put him on the bathroom scale. Believe me: he weighed nothing.

Newton has always been a special case. Did you consider that, less a simple conversion, you were trying to measure Newton in Newtons? This sort of thing is disallowed.

Ivan Seeking said:
Newton has always been a special case. Did you consider that, less a simple conversion, you were trying to measure Newton in Newtons? This sort of thing is disallowed.
$$ROFLMAO!!!$$

New thought

I am sorry for joining this thread so late, and refering back quite a few posts, a new thought:

(As a disclaimer, I did study chem in college so I do think logically, but I am not a physicist.)

First, does a shadow have mass?

The reason I ask it: I remember a theory I heard in high school that any object throws a shadow in its next less dimension. That is, 3-D objects throw a 2-D shadow. If the shadow does not have mass in itself, could the apparitions being discusses be 3-D shadows of 4-D objects?

Also, that same theory discussed the concept that the shadow dimension can only see the shadow of the higher dimension, never the objects casting the shadows. So we would be as alien to a living 2-D organism as the "spirit" realm would be to us?

And since this something that may be defendable, do any laws in the 3-D realm defy any laws that may be accepted within 2-D space? So does that help us rationize the same trend between 3-D and 4-D space?

Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
If the shadow does not have mass in itself, could the apparitions being discusses be 3-D shadows of 4-D objects?

My answer is that no good evidence exists that suggests any such ideas are true. However, you are not the first to suggest these sorts of ideas. If something like this is true, scientifically we are completely oblivious to it for now.

Here is some information on Flatland [ a 2D +time world] that I think you might enjoy. Flatland is considered a classic.

Flatland: A romance of many dimensions
by Edwin A. Abbott, a Square
"Fie, fie how franticly I square my talk!"
[Fifth edition, revised.]

Text by Edwin A. Abbott, 1884; copyright expired.
Etext version transcribed by Aloysius West.

http://www.alcyone.com/max/lit/flatland/

Time Travel in Flatland:
http://www.theory.caltech.edu/people/patricia/lctoc.html [Broken]

Last edited by a moderator:
garfield13 said:
I am sorry for joining this thread so late, and refering back quite a few posts, a new thought:

(As a disclaimer, I did study chem in college so I do think logically, but I am not a physicist.)

First, does a shadow have mass?

The reason I ask it: I remember a theory I heard in high school that any object throws a shadow in its next less dimension. That is, 3-D objects throw a 2-D shadow. If the shadow does not have mass in itself, could the apparitions being discusses be 3-D shadows of 4-D objects?

Also, that same theory discussed the concept that the shadow dimension can only see the shadow of the higher dimension, never the objects casting the shadows. So we would be as alien to a living 2-D organism as the "spirit" realm would be to us?

And since this something that may be defendable, do any laws in the 3-D realm defy any laws that may be accepted within 2-D space? So does that help us rationize the same trend between 3-D and 4-D space?

But it seems to me that a shadow is not 2d when thrown by a 3d object. At any point in the shadow, not merely on a surface the shadow intersects, one will find shade.