Thursday, May 20, 2010
The story is widely regarded as a hoax, while the U.S. Navy maintains that no such experiment occurred, and details of the story contradict well-established facts about the Eldridge. It has nonetheless caused ripples in conspiracy theory circles, and elements of the Philadelphia Experiment are featured in other government conspiracy theories.
Several different and sometimes contradictory versions of the alleged experiment have circulated over the years. The following synopsis illustrates key story points common to most accounts.
The experiment was allegedly based on an aspect of the unified field theory, a term coined by Albert Einstein. The Unified Field Theory aims to describe mathematically and physically the interrelated nature of the forces that comprise electromagnetic radiation and gravity, although to date, no single theory has successfully expressed these relationships in viable mathematical or physical terms.
According to the accounts, it was believed that some version of this Unified Field Theory would enable the Navy to use large electrical generators to bend light around an object so that it became essentially invisible. The Navy would have regarded this as being of obvious military value, and according to the accounts, subsequently it sponsored the experiment.
Another version of the story proposes that researchers were preparing magnetic and gravitational measurements of the seafloor to detect anomalies, supposedly based on Einstein's attempts to understand gravity. In this version there were also related secret experiments in Nazi Germany to find antigravity, allegedly led by SS-Obergruppenführer Hans Kammler.
In most accounts of the experiment, the destroyer escort USS Eldridge was fitted with the required equipment at the Philadelphia Naval Yard. Testing began in the summer of 1943, and it was supposedly successful to a limited degree. One test, on July 22, 1943, resulted in the Eldridge being rendered almost completely invisible, with some witnesses reporting a "greenish fog" appearing in its place. However, crew members supposedly complained of severe nausea afterwards. Also, it is said that when the ship reappeared, some sailors were embedded in the metal structures of the ship, including one sailor who ended up on a deck level below that where he began, and had his hand embedded in the steel hull of the ship. At that point, it is said that the experiment was altered at the request of the Navy, with the new objective being solely to render the Eldridge invisible to radar. None of these allegations have been independently substantiated to any satisfactory degree.
The conjecture then alleges that the equipment was not properly re-calibrated, but in spite of this, the experiment was repeated on October 28, 1943. This time, the Eldridge not only became invisible, but she physically vanished from the area in a flash of blue light and teleported to Norfolk, Virginia, over 200 miles away. It is claimed that the Eldridge sat for some time in full view of men aboard the ship SS Furuseth, whereupon the Eldridge vanished from their sight, and then reappeared in Philadelphia at the site it had originally occupied. It was also said that the warship travelled back in time for about 10 seconds.
Many versions of the tale include descriptions of serious side effects for the crew. Some crew members were said to have been physically fused to bulkheads, while others suffered from mental disorders, and still others supposedly simply vanished. It is also claimed that the ship's crew may have been subjected to brainwashing, in order to maintain the secrecy of the experiment.
Origins of the story
Morris Jessup and Carlos Miguel Allende
In 1955, Morris K. Jessup, an amateur astronomer and former graduate-level researcher, published The Case for the UFO, a book about unidentified flying objects that contains some theorizing about the different means of propulsion that flying-saucer-style UFOs might use. Jessup speculated that antigravity or the manipulation of electromagnetism may be responsible for the observed flight behavior of UFOs. He lamented, both in the book and during the publicity tour that followed, that space flight research was concentrated in the area of rocketry, and that little attention had been paid to other theoretical means of flight, which he felt might ultimately be more fruitful. Jessup emphasized that a breakthrough revision of Albert Einstein's "Unified Field Theory" would be critical in powering a future generation of spacecraft. On January 13, 1955, Jessup received a letter from a man who identified himself as one "Carlos Allende". In the letter, Allende informed Jessup of the "Philadelphia Experiment", alluding to two poorly sourced contemporary newspaper articles as proof. Allende directly responded to Jessup's call for research on the "Unified Field Theory", which he referred to as "UFT". According to Allende, Einstein had solved the theory, but had suppressed it, since mankind was not ready for it—a confession that the scientist allegedly shared with the mathematician and philosopher Bertrand Russell. Allende also said that he had witnessed the Eldridge disappear and reappear while serving aboard the SS Andrew Furuseth, a nearby merchant ship. Allende further named other crew members with whom he served aboard the Andrew Furuseth, and claimed to know the fate of some of the crew members of the Eldridge after the experiment, including one whom he witnessed disappearing during a chaotic fight in a bar. Although Allende claimed to have observed the experiment while on the Andrew Furuseth, he provided no substantiation of his other claims linking the experiment with the Unified Field Theory, no evidence of Einstein's alleged resolution of the theory, and no proof of Einstein's alleged private confession to Russell.