You are here: And So It Begins.... Ghosts & Hauntings The Poltergeist Machine
The original way that Hutchison set out his range of apparatus was, by industrial standards, primitive and crowded, with poor connections and hand-wound coils. But it was with this layout with its erratic standards that he obtained most of the best examples of objects levitating, despite the fact that the maximum power drawn was 1.5 kilowatts, and this from the ordinary power sockets of the house mains.
The Hutchison device produces effects which can basically be divided into two categories, propulsive and energetic. It can induce lift in objects made of any material and also propel them laterally. It has been noted that there are four types of trajectory that affect objects weighing a few pounds, and all of these upward movements begin with a twisting spiral movement. Also, there has to be a particular geometry in relation to the direction of gravity, i.e., downwards of these objects, for them to be affected in this way. Some objects will not take off if you turn them on their sides, but will if you stand them on their ends. It is evident, therefore, that the relationship of their physical forms to the fields which swirl invisibly around them is important.
Returning to the four modes of trajectory, first, there is the looping arc, where objects take off relatively slowly over a period of seconds, loop in the air and fall back to earth; then there is the ballistic take-off where objects shoot upwards suddenly, hit the ceiling and fall back down. A third type of trajectory is a powered one where there appears to be a continuous lifting force; and the fourth is where an object moves upwards and just hovers for some time. As mentioned, these objects can be of any material whatsoever - wood, plastics, copper, zinc, styrofoam, etc. It must be mentioned that 99 per cent of the time the objects do nothing at all, and one can wait for days before anything happens, but it is just this erratic unpredictability that one finds when investigating poltergeist activity.
Another major area of activity is the disruptive phenomenon where materials are destroyed. Hutchison has a collection of metal samples which have been broken and/or deformed, indicating that high energy levels are involved, as mentioned before.
As one may imagine, this device has attracted intense interest from a variety of professional, academic and industrial sources, not to mention covert military attention.
In the USA, a respected and well-qualified electrical engineer, George Hathaway, has taken on the research and development of the device. As explained, although the device has many interrelated parts, it acts as a single entity. Of the disruptive effects on metals and other materials he relates:
"The disruption part of this...system has produced confirmatory physical samples that include water, aluminum, iron, steel, molybdenum, wood, copper, bronze, etc... We have tested various pieces that have broken apart, for hardness, ductility, etc. We have used optical and electron microscopes.
"Two samples of aluminum... one of which is twisted up in a left-handed spiral...and another which was blown into little fibres...molybdenum rods which are supposed to withstand temperatures of about 5,000 degrees F... We watched these things wiggle back and forth... In general, a collection of pieces of metal shows that they have been blasted apart or twisted..."
In domestic settings where 'poltergeist' activity is usually observed, metal-bending and deformities take place with less vigour - which is to be expected due to the accidental field configurations produced as electromagnetic pollution from power lines, radio transmitters, civilian radar, etc., interacts with Earth energies - otherwise known as geomagnetic and geoelectric fields - at locations inadvertently built over fault lines.
The following example taken from a well-known case in the UK - the Enfield poltergeist - shows a typical instance of metal- bending:
"It was 10.15 am on 6 December 1977. Janet was leaning on the kitchen worktop, and her mother was sitting down. Both were out of reach of the stove. Suddenly, they both heard a noise coming from the teapot - the same metal one that Grosse had seen rocking in front of his eyes. Mrs Harper picked up the pot and found that its stout metal lid had arched upwards, just as the spoons had done, bending right out of shape so that it no longer fitted the pot. I took the lid in both hands, and even using considerable force I was unable to bend it back."
Hathaway, in his descriptions of metal deformity, clearly gives the impression of intense energies at work:
"The largest piece [of metal] is about 12-13 inches long. It's two inches in diameter, of regular mild steel, and a 3/8 of an inch long part was blasted off the end and crumbled like a cookie."
However, even the domestic 'poltergeist' displays phenomena where extremely high energy levels are involved, although in the following example, also from the Enfield case, we get the impression that more conventional high-magnetic-field densities are involved:
"Mr Playfair...was already on his feet and standing in the doorway of their bedroom, wondering if he was seeing things.
"The entire iron frame of the gas fire had been wrenched out of the wall, and was standing at an angle on the floor, still attached to the half-inch-diameter brass pipe that connected it to the mains. The pipe had been bent through an angle of thirty-two degrees. This was a major demolition job, for the thing was cemented into the brickwork, and it was out of the question to suggest that one of the children could have wrenched it out. When we finally dismantled the whole apparatus, we found it quite a job even to move. It must have weighed at least fifty pounds."3
We may ask ourselves what new directions for investigation into 'poltergeists' are open to us in the light of the Hutchison Effect. Startling as it may seem, an answer is there ready-made for us in the almost matter-of-fact information that Hathaway supplies:
"Fragments have been analysed and found to have an anomalously high silicon content, although the original material was not silicon steel...a standing piece is 5-6 inches tall, 1 and 1/4 inches in diameter and is a piece of case-hardened steel... The case-hardening has been blown off at the top and about 3/4 of an inch of it vaporized during an experiment...a piece of iron was analysed for composition which showed anomalously high amounts of copper...wood particles were also found inside a piece of aluminium..."
Evidently, the energies involved are able to reorganise materials in a way that is virtually impossible by any other means, but we are now provided with a previously unheard-of perspective. From the Hutchison experiments, it is clear that an analysis of the composition of metals at the 'poltergeist' site, in order to detect similar mixture-anomalies, is an essential investigative procedure.
Although we may shelve theories of psychokinesis and separate them out from 'poltergeist' activity as belonging to dice-throwing experiments or the spoon-bending of Uri Geller, the weird physical antics of the mixing and matching fields of the Hutchison Effect provide us with something far stranger. This underscores the point made earlier that although it sounds as if the enigma of the 'poltergeist' is being diminished by identifying it as electromagnetic field activity, in actual fact the mystery is merely being redirected.
Physicists and electrical engineers should now reconsider the nature of severely modulated electromagnetic fields, for there are evidently previously unrealised potentials. The energies involved in the Hutchison Effect are clearly the same ones at work during 'poltergeist' activity, and it is only the ignorance and entrenched positions of the psychical research fraternity that prevent them from accepting these insights into electromagnetic energy potentials.
These energies include weird thermal effects. During Hutchison's experiments, flames have been produced and emitted from blocks of concrete, and fires have broken out in different parts of the building where the device was housed. Again, these effects are typical of 'poltergeist' reports. On one occasion, a steel file was held in place against a wooden board by two plywood struts, to prevent it taking off. The file glowed white-hot, but the board when examined afterwards was not even singed. Such mischievous thermal antics of 'phantom arsonists' have been attributed to the 'spirit energy of the poltergeist', whatever that may be, but Hathaway's warnings are more to do with effective safety practices in the laboratory:
"From time to time there are scorch marks on the boards from other experiments. The apparatus makes fire spontaneously in parts of the lab, if you're not careful."
The device can also induce unusual aurora-like lighting effects in mid-air. Once when Hutchison was filming in 1981, a sheet of iridescence suddenly descended between the camera and some of the hardware being used. It had a strange pinkish centre to it, and after it hovered there for a short period it vanished just as suddenly as it had appeared. Hutchison actually thought he had been hallucinating, but when the film was developed it transpired that there had actually been something objective there.
Once again, the Enfield case provides us with comparable examples of strange, luminous phenomena in a domestic setting, and in this extract they are accompanied by other typical phenomena also explainable within the Hutchison Effect:
"The Harpers hoped to find some peace and quiet in the Burcombes' house, but it was not to be. From the kitchen Sylvie suddenly let out a piercing scream and dropped the kettle she was holding. It was some time before she could calm down enough to describe what had happened. 'I was just pouring the water from the kettle into the teapot,' she said, 'when something appeared right in front of my eyes and then dropped onto the kitchen unit top, and bounced once.' It was a plastic rod, about six inches long, from one of the children's toy sets. 'I sort of looked down, opened my eyes, and this thing was in front of me,' she told Grosse when he arrived shortly afterwards. 'I screamed, shouted and jumped back, and after I jumped back I saw the thing jump and come up again.'
"Grosse questioned Mrs Burcombe very carefully about this incident, which seemed to be a genuine case of one of the rarest of all psychic phenomena: materialisation. The plastic rod had definitely not been thrown at her, she insisted. It had just appeared in front of her eyes and dropped down... But he had already seen too much, in both his own and his sister's homes. He had watched open-mouthed as a lamp slowly slid across a table and fell to the floor, vibrating violently. He had seen a drawer open by itself. He had felt an invisible force stop him closing his own bedroom door, which simply stuck half-closed though it normally swung shut on its own. And he had seen something far more alarming as he stood one day at the bottom of the Harper's staircase, looking up it. 'I saw this light,' he said. 'It was the equivalent, I should say, of twelve inches vertical. It looked like a fluorescent light behind frosted glass, which burned fiercely and gradually faded away'..."4
With the insights gained from what is possible during operation of the Hutchison device, coupled with my own findings that 'poltergeist' activity takes place at locations that are electromagnetic hot-spots, we can begin to understand what is going on in such cases. Unusual light phenomena can occur, and on consulting Burke's Handbook of Magnetic Phenomena we find several mechanisms documented where magnetic fields interact with light to produce specific optical effects that are predictable in laboratory conditions, but are obviously most startling when they occur spontaneously in domestic settings. Having stated this, however, the sheet of iridescent light which appeared during Hutchison's experiments also came as an unexpected and surprising phenomenon.
In the extract given above, it is not difficult to rethink the apparent materialisation of the plastic rod as a typical trajectory of the Hutchison Effect, observed many times and recorded on video. Likewise, the lamp slowly sliding across the table and vibrating could have come straight out of the catalogue of effects similarly induced. In fact, compared with the extreme effects that Hutchison can obtain with his device, domestic 'poltergeist' phenomena which previously seemed so dramatic, now seem quite tame. But as already noted, this lessening of effect is consistent with the fact that the Hutchison device involves a concentrated collection of devices which appear to act as a single entity, whereas an electromagnetic hot-spot occurs by the chance juxtaposition of freak environmental field sources.
Unfortunately, the investigators present during the 'poltergeist' activity at Green Street, Enfield, England, in the late 1970s, did not carry out a thorough field survey or identify the field sources involved, despite the fact that a magnetometer registered distinct deflections as objects were 'thrown' across the room. In fact, there is the distinct impression that, for them, electromagnetic fields were not a welcome explanation for the phenomena they witnessed, as the Playfair book relates how they discontinued use of the magnetometer once it showed that power surges occurred in conjunction with physical phenomena:
"When everybody was settled into bed, we switched on both tape recorders, Eduardo's being connected to the signal from the magnetometer, and left the room, since I had told him that nothing would happen if we both stayed there. From the landing we could keep an eye on the dial of the machine, and in the following forty minutes Janet's pillow was twice thrown across the room just as it had been the previous evening in my presence. This time, of course, I could not see Janet, although Mrs Harper assured me at once that she had not thrown it. And each time the needle on the magnetometer did indeed deflect, though Eduardo thought this might have been caused by creaking bedsprings."5
It is difficult to understand how bedsprings could cause power surges strong enough to register on a magnetometer (I, myself, have used many types of these instruments during investigations), and even more difficult to understand how they could induce deflections which happened to coincide with the movements of objects. Also, it's a wonder the investigators did not eliminate this as an option, if they thought it was possible, by simply moving the instrument away from the bedsprings. Magnetometers are of course designed to withstand the effects of magnetic fields, and so it is even more puzzling why the following reasoning and actions were employed:
"I was a little worried that he might have to go back to his university and report that the expensive instrument he had borrowed without permission had broken down, so we called off the experiment once we were satisfied that it seemed possible that there was some link between poltergeist activity and anomalous behaviour of the surrounding magnetic field."6
One of the primary investigators of the Green Street 'poltergeist' in Enfield, North London, was Maurice Grosse, who has given many lectures on his experiences and is now regarded as one of the leading authorities on this kind of phenomenon. On the whole, 'poltergeists' are regarded as discarnate and mischievous entities who home in on the energies of an adolescent focus and who unintentionally wreak havoc wherever they go, although particular locations are usually favoured for the most spectacular phenomena.
In the course of my career as an investigator, I have discovered that 'poltergeist' activity takes place in electromagnetic hot- spots, and is electromagnetic in nature. However, 'poltergeist expert' Maurice Grosse takes a different view:
"Albert's enthusiasm for his suppositions does him credit, but...displays a distinct lack of practical experience of psychic phenomena... I look forward with great interest to the day when flying boxes, stones, toys, heavy items of furniture, plus spontaneous fires and water phenomena, together with the passage of matter through matter, levitation, metal bending, to name just a few examples of poltergeist high jinks I have personally experienced, can be explained by electromagnetic and bioelectromagnetic activity."7
Well, Maurice, this is the day you have been waiting for! In fact, it was "the day" over 15 years ago when Guy Lyon Playfair's book on the Enfield 'poltergeist' was published in 1981 in the UK, when at the same time on the other side of the world in British Columbia, Canada, John Hutchison's device was just getting underway and generating all of the physical 'poltergeist' activity you were considering.
This is not the place to fully expound my own biological research into how the human body reacts to prolonged field exposure, except to say that the body eventually acts as an oscillator and can add to the electromagnetic mayhem generated at hot spots. That is to say, I would add to the Hutchison Effect by including my own findings, as outlined in my books, which point to 'poltergeists' being electromagnetic phenomena, and my conclusion that there is a bioelectromagnetic aspect where the human body behaves as another piece of electrical apparatus or hardware and re-radiates generalised ambient fields in more beam-like, coherent forms. This is a symptom of an increasingly common clinical condition known as electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EH), caused by exposure to electromagnetic pollution from power lines, transmitters, etc. The condition was the subject for an international conference of medical specialists and academics at Graz, Austria, in 1994. It is treated at the Breakspear Hospital in Hertfordshire, England.
However, nobody in psychical research here in England seems to be aware of EH or the work of John Hutchison, and there are fixed ideas which are protected with a religious fervour. Freak electromagnetic field conditions which seem to stretch the laws of physics to almost breaking point are not a welcome conclusion, although the history of science is littered with painful upheavals where the established view is turned on its head, and iconoclasts like myself and, unwittingly, John Hutchison, threaten the status quo. For example, Dr John Beloff, the Editor of Anomaly, the respected journal of the Society of Psychical Research, wrote to me to tell me:
"Whatever the relevance of exposure to EM radiation...it has no obvious bearing on psychic experiences in general."
Having investigated reports of apparitions and 'poltergeists' in hot-spot locations for over three years, and measured the fields present with my trusty field meter, this statement made no sense at all. Perhaps the reader will have some inkling of the sort of establishment opposition I am up against, or may even refuse to believe the Hutchison Effect themselves.
However, it must be remembered that a number of well-known electrical engineering organisations have been involved. For example, McDonnell-Douglas Aerospace and the Max Planck Institute in Germany, both took many photographs, some of which appear here.
I anticipate that there will be a wave of controversy as a result of this article, if the reactions here in the UK are anything to go by, and I would be interested in any constructive suggestions that readers may have.
1. Burke, Harry E., Handbook of Magnetic Phenomena, Van Nostrand Reinhold Company, NY, 1986.
2. Playfair, Guy Lyon, This House Is Haunted, Sphere Books, UK, 1981, p. 113.
3. ibid., p. 62.
4. ibid., p. 45.
5. ibid., pp. 77-78.
7. Anomaly, Journal of the Association for the Scientific Study of Anomalous Phenomena, UK, vol. 17, November 1995.
About the Author:
Albert Budden, B.Ed., is an investigator specialising in the scientific study of the paranormal as well as electromagnetics and health. He is the author of several books, including Allergies and Aliens: The Visitation Experience-An Environmental Health Issue (Discovery Times Press, 1994), UFOs: Psychic Close Encounters- The Electromagnetic Indictment (Blandford, 1995), and The Poltergeist Machine: The Hutchison Effect-A Lift and Disruption System (Discovery Times Press, 1996). He is a member of the Environmental Medicine Foundation.