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The Truth about Orbs?


by Dave Wood

PSI’s investigation into orbs began with the research note published in the last Journal of Investigative Psychical Research that laid the foundations for future research.

Since then PSI has received funding from the Association for the Scientific Study of Anomalous Phenomena to scientifically establish the causes of the orb phenomenon. It was anticipated that the study would be complete for publication in the present journal, however the technical detail of the subject has lead to the need for repeat tests and a publication date of Spring 2007.

An in-depth study into technical aspects of photography has concluded that orbs may be airborne particles located within a theoretical ‘orb zone’ in front of a camera. The ‘orb zone’ has to satisfy the following characteristics:
1. Within the field of view of the camera – what it can ‘see’ within its environment;
2. An area with sufficient light intensity to illuminate particles – usually the flash of a compact camera, but other light conditions (including daylight) can occasionally provide enough intensity;
3. Behind the camera’s point of nearest focus – any particles beyond this will appear ‘in focus’ and thus too small to be discernable;
4. In front of the camera’s point of visibility – anything behind this will be too out-of-focus to be visible.

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In practice this ‘orb zone’ (shown in figure one) tends to be a very small area some centremetres in front of a camera.

The experimental procedure used has been supported by academics at UK Universities and has been designed to vary systematically:
1. The depth of field (allowing for the ‘orb zone’ to fall within the area which is out of focus);
2. Operation of a camera flash;
3. Distance of the flash from the lens (the further the distance the less light intensity is present to allow a larger ‘orb zone’);

4. The design of the camera (35mm/digital);
5. And the effective rate of megapixelage.

The results of these experiments have been independently judged and subjected to inferential statistical tests to ensure the findings are not a result of ‘fluke’.

The primary hurdle to overcome in the understanding of orbs as rational is one of logic. For example, fifty photos are taken with the flash activated and then – keeping all other conditions the same – another fifty photos are taken with the flash not activated. If one can accept that the resulting (say) twenty ‘orb’ photos in the flash condition and zero in the non-flash condition tell us that orbs are a product of camera flashes then the rationale makes sense; most orbs have no light source independent of the camera flash.

One common perception of orbs relates to the idea that ‘some orbs’ are caused by airborne particles and ‘some orbs’ are not. There is little hope for theorists who make no distinction between the appearance of these apparently different ‘types’ of orbs. If airborne particles can produce one appearance of an orb, how can paranormal forces produce the same type of orb? Others point to a more logical idea of different appearances of orbs, which will be considered in the full article.

There are dozens of misperceptions and misattributions of the orb phenomena. All such cases presented to the author so far are adequately explained by the rational theory of orbs. However, readers are encouraged to send to us any alternatives theories and supporting photographs so the full range of the subject can be considered.

The full article will be available in the next edition of the journal, followed by a full, dedicated website providing accessible study of the orb phenomena.


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