Ghost Hunt Ghosts Paranormal Supernatural

Ghost Hunt — Part 1: Carl Sagan’s Flatland

Imagine we live in Flatworld. Photo on Pixabay by Geralt.

Before embarking on our ghost hunt, I thought we best check out the feasibility of ghosts. Is it possible for a person’s spirit to remain in the here and now? Or does it bleed back into our world from someplace else — like a fourth dimension — creating what we call ghosts?

Sagan’s Flatland

Astrophysicist Carl Sagan asks us to imagine that we live in Flatland and that we too are flat. We are squares, circles, triangles, rectangles going about our flat business. We know left, right, forward, back, but we have never heard of up and down. We have width and length, but no height at all. We and our world are absolutely flat.

He asks us to imagine that into our world comes a strange three-dimensional creature, and it hovers above us. “Hello,” says the 3D creature. We think the voice comes from within. That perhaps we are going bonkers. 3D doesn’t like us thinking of him as a psychological apparition, so he enters Flatland, but only partially — only a cross section of 3D can be seen.

Sagan says in his video that we humans are trapped in three dimensions, and he discusses a fourth dimension — that dimension being time.

My Thought

What if a 4D creature enters our 3D existence? Just like in Flatland, we couldn’t comprehend the 4D creature and may only see fragments of him in our limited perspective. Perhaps only shadows. Or only smells.

I will attempt to combine two elusive premises into one blog post today and hope that in the end a connection becomes clear. In last week’s post, I told of a haunting I experienced. Since then, I’ve found that ghost hunters and the haunted are familiar with mysterious smells that sometime accompany supernatural occurrences, but cannot offer a definitive explanation.

(ProbeNote: Physicists use ten dimensions in the discussion of the String Theory. And some scientists predict eleven dimensions.)

What If

What if an enlightened few of us can open up our minds to the possibilities of other dimensions? That as we press our hand into the void, we sense something beyond us — similar to 3D in Flatland. But different from the Flatlanders, we know we are not bonkers and accept all possibilities.

No one knows for sure if there are ten or eleven or only three dimensions. We can’t prove it except mathematically because, as Sagan points out, we are trapped in three dimensions. But opening the mind allows those enlightened few to perceive the 4D creature in their 3D world.

Could those be the ghosts we encounter?

What if, when we die, our energy (spirit/soul if you are religious) is escorted — by angels if you like — to the fourth dimension (or fifth or sixth)? We know we are comprised of mitochondria. Mitochondria cannot be created or destroyed. So where does that energy go?

To me, a likely spot would be the fourth dimension or fifth or sixth, but to another dimension nevertheless.

A 3D projection of an 8-cell performing a simple rotation about a plane which bisects the figure from front-left to back-right and top to bottom. Image is in public domain.

Sagan says that if we can imagine a fourth physical dimension, we can generate a four-dimensional hypercube known as a tesseract. He explains he cannot show us a tesseract because of our limited world, but he can show us the shadow in three dimensions of a four-dimensional tesseract.

The Shadow People

Ghosts in a 3D world.
4D Shadow people invade our 3D world. Photo on Pixabay by Geralt.

So let’s say in this fourth dimension, its inhabitants can go backward in time and forward in time. We can’t see this or prove this, but perhaps like 3D in Flatland, we perceive shadows in our three-dimensional world of fourth-dimensional beings?

When the house my folks built became possessed by a fourth-dimensional being from their old house, the smell of lemons accompanied it. Smell exists in our three-dimensional world, would it not be possible it exists in the fourth dimension as well? And might this explain why hauntings — the shadows — are sometimes accompanied by smells?

ProbeFiling: Dragon In The Garage

I feel fairly confident, or somewhat confident, Sagan — in his sciency mind — had no intention of using our entrapment in a three-dimensional world to suggest ghosts exist in a fourth dimension. But as he says at the end of the video:

While we cannot imagine the world of four dimensions, we can certainly think about it perfectly well.

And think about what might occupy that fourth dimension, I add.

Sagan's book
Carl Sagan’s book debunks aliens, ufos, and ghosts.

Carl Sagan’s book debunks aliens, ufos, and ghosts.

In his book The Demon-Haunted World, Sagan brands aliens, ufos, ghosts— all the stuff I find so fascinating — as superstitions and offers a baloney detection kit as a means of pursuing critical and skeptical thinking.

And though I’m a great admirer of Sagan’s, I find it necessary to point out that his novel — which produced the award winning, very controversial movie Contact ponders the missing eighteen hours during an astronaut’s mission and hints at alien contact.

Slightly contradictory, don’t you think?

“They All Float”

In this same debunking book, Sagan uses a fire-breathing dragon living in his garage as an example of skeptical thinking. He invites an open-minded individual to see his dragon. The visitor looks in the garage and sees nothing.

Sagan explains the dragon is invisible. The visitor suggests sprinkling flour on the floor of the garage to detect the creature’s footprints. Sagan explains the invisible dragon floats. The visitor suggests an infrared camera. But the dragon’s fire is heatless, Sagan explains.

Sagan concludes the dragon-in-the-garage example by saying:

Now what’s the difference between an invisible, incorporeal, floating dragon who spits heatless fire and no dragon at all? If there’s no way to disprove my contention, no conceivable experiment that would count against it, what does it mean to say that my dragon exists? Your inability to invalidate my hypothesis is not at all the same thing as proving it true.

What’s Baloney?

There is no way to prove our energy is escorted to the fourth dimension when we die. Or that the inhabitants of this fourth dimension are the shadows of what we see in our third dimension prison, aka our ghosts. Because it is unprovable, does that render it baloney?

To offer an answer, I repeat Sagan’s own words: “While we can not imagine the world of four dimensions, we can certainly think about it perfectly well.”

And to Carl Sagan, I ask: Does your statement work both ways? Your inability to invalidate my hypothesis is not at all the same thing as proving it true. 

Or false.

It is my belief that our imaginations set us free to think critically and skeptically, and only our heart can tell us if something is true or not. I mean, as a child, I never went looking for ghosts, but they found me.

Ghostly Photo of the Week

Tulip Staircase
Tulip Staircase in the 400-year-old Queen’s House section of the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, England. Photo taken in 1966.

In an attempt to photograph the Tulip Staircase located in the 400-year-old Queen’s House section of the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, England, a retired clergyman — Rev. Ralph Hardy, from White Rock, British Columbia – captured the above image in 1966. Upon developing the photo, he not only found his staircase but a shrouded figure climbing the stairs. The figure appears to be holding the railing with both hands.

Kodak experts verified that the film had not been tampered with. Other paranormal encounters have been associated with the Tulip Staircase and the Queen’s House. Legend has it that 300 years ago a maid was thrown from the highest banister and plunged fifty feet to her death. It is reported that the pale figure of a woman mopping up blood at the bottom of the staircase has been seen and on occasion the chanting of children can be heard.

Ghost Sighting

In a more recent accounting, a gallery assistant who was discussing a tea break with two of his colleagues saw a door to the Bridge Room close on its own accord. He thought it was one of the lecturers. But then he says:

I saw a woman glide across the balcony, and pass through the wall on the west balcony. I couldn’t believe what I saw. I went very cold and the hair on my arms and my neck stood on end. We all dashed through to the Queen’s Presents Room and looked down towards the Queen’s Bedroom. Something passed through the ante-room and out through the wall. Then my colleagues all froze too. The lady was dressed in a white-grey colour crinoline type dress.

Mr. Sagan, is hair standing up on someone’s arms and neck proof of a ghostly encounter? Just wondering.

What do you think? Have you experienced anything that might be defined as paranormal? I’d love hearing about it.

(Probe Note: A special thanks to my friend and fellow writer Travis Simmons over at Wyrding Way Press and Wyrd Fiction for sharing the Carl Sagan 4D video with me.)

The Probe’s Mission Statement

The Probe is devoted to:

  •  the exploration of the unexplainable,
  •  finding the truth in occurrences that resemble science fiction,
  •  researching and reporting on topics that could be flung upon the wall of weird. 
Clara Bush
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