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Are Orbs Paranormal?

While there are numerous paranormal groups and investigators that assert that orbs in pictures are the product of mundane causes only and have absolutely nothing to do with the paranormal, and that orbs cannot therefore be categorized as something unexplained; there are just as many ghost hunters and ghost researchers that argue the opposite. There have been countless researchers proving to the world how easily orbs can be reproduced by photographing floating dust particles, water particles, and other materials. In essence, researchers are falling on either side of the fence: asserting the validity or non-validity of orbs, while few investigators remain on the fence to see if new discoveries can support one side of the orb debate better than the other. As of this date, there are even entire campaigns being run by some investigators and ghost hunting enthusiasts against the act of acknowledging orbs as something that frequently accompanies the ghostly experience; in truth, the jury is still out on whether or not all orbs can be written off to mundane origins alone.


The questions that boggle the paranormal community and paranormal researchers at this time are “What are orbs?” Are orbs of paranormal significance or are pictures of orbs nothing more than a flaw of the digital cameras currently being produced? Are orbs spiritual orbs: an indication of spirit presence, or, are they, as been previously proven in various experiments, the product of dust, water, and loose particles in the atmosphere: that when captured in the camera lens produce a reflective light and exhibit orbs in pictures? Do orbs in pictures have anything to do with paranormal events at all whatsoever?


The fact is that orbs in pictures clearly can be replicated, but that does not completely eliminate orbs as a product of physical origins alone. In “Mysterious Ghostly Orbs Perplex Researchers,” a recent article appearing in the NewsMonster, the ongoing orb debate is examined by Hazel Courteney. Courteney asserts that in a recent conference that has taken place in Sedona, Arizona, the Orb Phenomena Conference, a number of scientists have come forth with the assertion that orbs may indeed have “other-worldly” origins, and are not merely the byproduct of a faulty camera, of partial particle captures, or lens flare.


A NASA researcher and former Stanford University Professor, Klaus Heinemann, asserts that he is more than positive that orbs are truly a significant finding; “they may well be one of the most significant find outside of reality phenomena mankind…has ever witnessed” (Courteney). Courteney further reveals that Heinemann’s fascination with orbs had its beginnings with a photograph session at a spiritual healing event that he and his wife attended; after capturing several orbs in a photograph during a healing session, like many investigators before him, Heinemann sought out a reasonable and logical explanation for the appearance of the orbs in the photographs. Giving the site a full examination, Heinemann was stunned to find that he could not logically explain away the phenomena. The latter incident has happened to many paranormal researchers as well – the appearance of orbs is becoming increasingly common in digital photography and digital cameras are part of the common equipment used by paranormal researchers across the globe.


With a firm, scientific background, Heinemann was prompted to conduct further research. Thus began the expedition where Heinemann and his wife began taking hundreds of different photographs in an intentional effort to capture orbs. Heinemann has come to believe that thanks to the technological advancements of digital photography, today’s investigators have a far more sensitive piece of equipment in their hands – the scientist asserts that digital cameras augment the appearance of objects and items that previously appeared with a lower contrast on older camera models. Thus, the appearance of orbs increases with the use of the digital camera. In a unique experiment, Heinemann also began requesting orbs to appear in photographs and to the scientist’s amazement, more orbs appeared in the pictures when he did so. The notion that orbs in pictures respond to Heinemann’s request suggests the intelligence level of the orbs. Heinemann thus engaged in an act that many paranormal researchers and ghost hunters engage in: it is common for an investigator to request that if there is a spiritual presence at a location, that it kindly shows itself to the researchers via the eye or the camera or that it responds to EVP sampling sessions by speaking loudly and clearly.


Make no mistake, Heinemann’s experiments were controlled experiments – static tripods were used to eliminate the possibility of blurred images or double images, and he also ensured that the common factors attributing to false orbs were eliminated from the possibility of appearing in the photographs. Working with two cameras, the scientist found that orbs would “selectively” appear in one camera, and not the other, and in some instances move at speeds up to 500 mph. There are scientists that have even captured images of orbs in the ocean, where conditions that would produce false orbs are completely ruled out. Heinemann continues his research, but not without being seriously ridiculed by some scientists that scoff at the notion that orbs are any form of intelligent being. With every new discovery there are those that argue the opposite, and often times such discoveries are the subject of jokes and ridicule. When something does not fit neatly into one’s already current understanding, it creates a dissonance: one that can be quite uncomfortable and causes many to develop a fixed opinion on a matter that still requires further research and debate.


According to another Stanford University researcher, a physicist, William Tiller, the human eye only takes in about ten percent of the environment (Courteney). The electromagnetic spectrum that the human eye is capable of translating is extremely limited. What the human eye actually sees is known as the visible spectrum or the optical spectrum. The human eye can translate waves of electromagnetic energy understood as visible light ranging from 380 to 750 nanometers. The latter field is extremely small and leaves out a whole host of different electromagnetic waves including radio waves, microwaves, infrared rays, gamma rays, x rays, and ultraviolet rays which are not seen by the human eye, but nonetheless exist. It is believed by some researchers that pictures of orbs are evidence of realms previously unseen until now and that the orbs are evidence of other worldly existence.


Courteney explains that of the hundreds of photos of paranormal orbs taken by Heinemann and researchers across the globe, they are finding that orbs vary in size, shape, color, and whether the orbs in pictures appear singularly or in groups. The reason for the existence of orbs is still debated however. Some theories suggest that paranormal orbs are the spirits of the dead, others are asserting that paranormal orbs are the spirits of the unborn waiting to be born; some assertions argue that spiritual orbs are nature spirits, or beings made of nothing but energy that will never enter into a physical form. Still others assert that orbs are spirits in the process of manifestation. Some scientists are beginning to look toward the argument that orbs are plasma beings being seen for the first time thanks to technological advancements. The research continues.


Amazingly, Heinemann has found that orbs often appear at happy gatherings, near spiritual healers (particularly in the region of the head), and at “positive” events. This has caused Heinemann to link spiritual orbs with more positive energies and settings. Yet, according to Heinemann there are orbs currently understood as “dark orbs” that typically appear at hauntings and other locations with paranormal activity. The latter orbs apparently absorb energy rather than emit coherent light like the orbs that show up at the more positive gatherings. The latter argument may support the notion that spirits draw on the environment to act and/or manifest.


So what do all the above findings and arguments about spiritual orbs mean? Moreover, what are orbs and what is the purpose of spiritual orbs or paranormal orbs? While we are certainly no closer to a resolution or to a concrete answer about what orbs really are and what the purpose of orbs is, we can conclude that the orbs debate will continue. With that said it becomes necessary to advise all researchers to “remain on the fence” so to speak, at least until all of the evidence is in. If investigators dismiss orbs entirely as not being evidence of the spirit world, they might be missing out on capturing and collecting what could later be determined as extraordinary evidence of the existence of the spiritual realm. In contrast, investigators cannot and should not identify the appearance of every orb as indication of a spiritual presence. Therefore, perhaps it is better to remain on the middle ground: to rule out whatever mundane origins may exist for the presentation of orbs in photographs; if other evidence collected in a paranormal case suggests that there is spiritual activity, perhaps then, orbs in pictures can be considered as spiritual orbs or as evidence of the supernatural until proven otherwise.


Works Cited


Courteney, Hazel. “Mysterious ghostly orbs perplex researchers.” NewsMonster 28 Mar. 2008. 26 Mar. 2008. http://www.newsmonster.co.uk/paranormal-unexplained/mysterous-ghostly-orbs-perplex-researchers.html..


“Electromagnetic Spectrum.” Wikipedia. 24 Mar. 2008. Wikimedia Foundation. 26 Mar. 2008. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Light_spectrum.



Article written by: Dayna Winters

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