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Do We Need A Thermal Sweep?


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Ian Topham's picture
Ian Topham
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I caught a few episodes of Ghost Hunters, featuring the the group that seems very popular in America these days.....TAPS (The Atlantic Paranormal Society).  It is a good name as the two key figures are also plumbers.  Each vigil is of course done in the dark and starts off with a "thermal sweep" with somekind of thermal camera that picks up heat signatures.  Sometimes these pick up what may be 'ghosts', looking amazingly like a person.

So, are these ghosts likely to be members of the film crew?  Does anyone actually know of a ghost that gives of a heat signature?

I've never done a thermal sweep before of any location I have been involved in investigating.  Is it a good idea?

Daniel Parkinson's picture
Daniel Parkinson
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Thermal Sweep

Sounds like one of the police reality shows: you know the ones filmed from the police helicopters equiped with thermal cameras, where there is no chance of escape, unless you have a handy space blanket, or the uncanny ability to cool your body temperature to that of the surrounding air.

It's a great theory though: perhaps ghosts could become a new form of renewable energy, does this make me a cynic?
Anyway never heard of this before in any investigation, perhaps there is a viable reason though.

StrangeRichard
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Would bring a whole new

Would bring a whole new meaning to ghost "power"!

But I thought that ghost presence was meant to drop the temperature ? So a heat source with a human outline is most likely to be a human on the team. Unless it is to prove there is no one making them noises, not saying it's a weak excuse or nothing as the camera could be pointing at a darkened room but the microphone at the radiophonic workshop in the heated Winebago out side.

Not being funny these shows always strike me as a load of hooey. Just because the cameras are there these "spirits " start to jump though hoops for them. More likely to be spirits from behind the bar rather then spirits from beyond the grave.

Daniel if you are a cynic then so am I fella !

Could be that they want to check the house is cool and not going to creak at the wrong time when they are addressing the folks at home as retakes are bad for the whole spontaious feel they like on these shows. I suppose that one day I should go on one of these vigil thingys to see what all the fuss is about, but I just can't get over the feeling they are just about making money and nothing to do with ghost hunting.

As for why they re using a thermal camera no idea. Sorry

Ian Topham's picture
Ian Topham
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I usually avoid these shows

I usually avoid these shows like the plague, especially ones about groups that do vigils in the dark.  But every now and again I check an episode or two out just to see what other aspects they are trying to pass off as ideas for gathering evidence.

PhenomInvestigator
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The original idea for using

The original idea for using thermal imaging started I think in the U.S. around the early 1970s. That is when I first proposed the use of such devices and their then size and expense were becoming less prohibitive.

I conceptualized exactly as suggested, that the device should give form to the 'cold spots' which had been reported for centuries in connection with active locations. I was hoping we might be able to visualize these physical phenomena and was curious to see if a shape or form might be shown. These ideas manifest from work with sensitives, many of whom were routinely tracing outlines reminiscent of human forms when asked to try to detect the location of a suspected haunt.

Now that thermal imaging has become available and affordable, the results are mixed. While some data is suggestive, all to often the one concern I had in the early days has proved true: it is far too easy to get false hits if one does not understand the fundamentals of thermals. As to why actual phenomena might register warm, it should be noted that in a small percentage of anecdotal reports heat, not cold, has been been indicated and associated by apparent percipients with the phenomena events.

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Daniel Parkinson's picture
Daniel Parkinson
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PhenomInvestigator wrote:I
PhenomInvestigator wrote:

I conceptualized exactly as suggested, that the device should give form to the 'cold spots' which had been reported for centuries in connection with active locations. I was hoping we might be able to visualize these physical phenomena and was curious to see if a shape or form might be shown. .

I suppose that makes some sense now: I was thinking more about heat, but if cold spots are a common reported occurance in hauntings then these events would registed on a thermal camera if they were a physical phenomena, and could prove/disprove a reported cold spot. I have experienced a cold spot on a vigil that was confirmed by other investigators but, there was no change in temperature recorded at all on digital thermometers. I imagine a thermal camera may work in such a situation but are they that accurate? At least the ones that are avialable on limited budgets.
(I think we can disregard tv reality shows as forms of unbiased investigation)

Ian Topham's picture
Ian Topham
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I think quite a few reported

I think quite a few reported cold spots turn out to be unnoticed drafts, blowing on the individual making them feel colder.  I have found  a few where it is reported to feel like it has suddenly gone colder but in actual fact no recorded drop in temperature was found.  This could mean the thermometer at the time was not good enough, was not being used correctly or there was no physical drop in temperature.

Did you ever geta round to testing your theory Phenominvestigator and did it provide useful results?

PhenomInvestigator
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The theory seemed to have

The theory seemed to have merit. I have personally noticed that temperature shifts both up and down are sometimes not detectable. However we must be careful here. The problem in fact may be with the sensivity of the thermal sensing device. Many temperature probes for example have reaction times measured in the tens of seconds or longer. A transient temperature shift will not be detected by these sorts of devices. Here, the thermal imager actually has an advantage. While there is an 'integration time' in the device, the reaction times are typically quite a bit shorter and therefore more suited to this purpose.

As regards 'cheap' devices, I would love to know where one could find one for under a few thousand (pounds or dollars, doesn't really matter which). The devices that are typically used by me are at the high end of the price spectrum, since I am doing research that mandates using the best equipment available whenever possible.

__________________

Anomalous Phenomena is Unexplained not Impossible
Psi is Subtle not Absolute
Anything is possible, it'a all a matter of Probability


StrangeRichard
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Lucky bugger ! ;-) Ian can

Lucky bugger ! ;-)
Ian can you pop round my house and find where the cold draft is coming from in the middle of our front room? I can't suss it out ! I'm still more willing to beleive it's a draft then a spirit in residence!
But the wife does say she has seen a man with a cane in the hall way.

Any offers ?

Mysteryshopper
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This article might be

This article might be helpful.

Ian Topham's picture
Ian Topham
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Joined: 22 Jul 2008
Thanks for the link

Thanks for the link Mysteryshopper.  Maurice Townsend really seems to know his stuff. 

I really do need to plough through ASSAP's website more often :).  So, the article suggests there is no compelling evidence that ghosts appear on thermal imagers.   Can anyone dispute this?  I know I can't.



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