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Is There A Scientific Explanation For Ghosts?

Ghosts Infrasound


Is There A Scientific Explanation For Ghosts?

There may be a scientific explanation for things like ghosts and hauntings, and it’s not your mind simply playing tricks on you.

Are you hearing weird sounds, briefly seeing ghostly images, sensing a presence in the room with you, or feeling an inexplicable and sudden sense of overwhelming fear?

It just might be infrasound

Infrasound is an extremely low frequency between .1 -20Hz. It is so low, that humans cannot hear it without the aid of electronic equipment. But we can feel it. A good portion of the population is also thought to be hypersensitive to these low frequencies.

Infrasound’s effects on the human body can cause bizarre effects, including nausea, extreme fear or awe, anxiety and chills. Researchers also believe it affects vision by causing vibrations of the eyeball. These vibrations can cause you to ‘see’ ghosts.

Nature’s ‘Spooky’ Phenomena

Infrasound can be produced by various natural phenomena. Stormy weather, unusually strong seasonal winds, uncommon weather patterns and some types of earthquakes are all sources of natural infrasound.

Animals such as elephants also use a form of infrasound to communicate over long distances with other elephants, or as a defense mechanism against what they perceive as threats.

Ghost In The Machine

In April 1998, the Journal of the Society for Psychical Research published a paper called ‘The Ghost in the Machine’ by Coventry University lecturer Vic Tandy. It described Tandy’s experiences with infrasound while working in a medical lab.

InfrasoundHis coworkers complained of spooky feelings and chills in his lab. A cleaning lady resigned after “seeing something.” Working alone in the lab one night, Tandy suddenly had the feeling he was being watched. He claimed shadowy figure appeared at the edge of his vision. When Tandy turned to face it, the figure vanished.

The next day, Tandy brought a fencing foil to the lab for repairs. When he clamped one end of the blade in a vise, it started vibrating wildly. Curious, Tandy began moving the blade around the room. It vibrated strongly in the center of his lab, but completely stopped at the edges of the room.

Tandy discovered a 19Hz standing wave in his laboratory. The walls of the lab had caused the sound wave to double back on itself, producing an area of maximum energy in the center of the room. It was more than enough energy to vibrate his sword.

As it turns out, the source of this wave was a newly installed fan at the end of the lab. When the fan was turned off, the wave, and all ‘spooky’ phenomena associated with it, disappeared.

It seems there will be no need to call the ghostbusters.

References: Journal of the Society for Psychical Research (pdf)
Photos are available under a Creative Commons Attribution license by Wikicommons.



  1. xX_Rand_Xx

    January 17, 2011 at 12:02 am

    Is there a way to reproduce this on my speakers or on my computer?

  2. Glen

    May 27, 2011 at 7:41 am

    I would like to see this idea explored more thoroughly!

    The room in question.. I would guess that it’s length (or width or both) was almost exactly the length of one 19Hz wave. So umm.. I don’t know how to calculate that.

    But perhaps you could make rooms that are designed to hold standing waves of infrasound, and that, coupled with something that makes loud noises in that range (fans seem like a great option for most efficiently making pressure waves in that range).. GHOST ROOM!

    • Nathan

      May 26, 2013 at 11:28 pm

      Wavelength = (sound velocity)/(frequency)
      *Sound travels at 343m/s in air*
      *frequency = 19Hz = number of things a second = 19/s
      Wavelength = (343m/s)/(19/s) = 18.0m

  3. Ava

    June 4, 2011 at 7:48 pm

    I’ve noticed you said ‘could’ on it. I would agree with Glen, I would love to see more results. You only have one explanation on ghosts, and I think that this is the stuff that people wanna know. Not boring or complicated stuff like how to make a motor. (Just a example, I bet 75 percent of people reading this comment can think of some boring scientific fact that they could live without knowing, or don’t really care about.) I mean, no offense to people who care about that stuff, but this might just be a little more popular. -Ava

  4. Dan

    September 19, 2011 at 7:00 pm

    Well then by the article I read I can understand but can you explain to me about ghostly figures in pictures. Without relating it to some kind of reflection, shadow, etc.

    • Jeffery Eden

      January 31, 2012 at 5:36 pm

      The “ghosts” pass by at the time and you capture them. If you get an infrared camera it is easy to tell if it really is a “ghost” I have had the same thing. It was a man.

  5. Clayton Berg

    January 5, 2012 at 8:30 pm

    Yeah, this is a great theory if you completely ignore ghost incidents wherein its been visually witnessed by hundreds of people or wherein a young lady was hit and thrown across the room by a spirit (that last one was witnessed by one of the Presidents of the United States as well as a senator)
    Theories like this are formed around lesser entities.

  6. Richard Tan

    June 11, 2012 at 4:26 am

    I thought ghosts were aliens in the 4th physical dimension…

  7. Dr. Sebastian

    August 21, 2012 at 2:48 pm

    They exist. Science doesn’t explain anything. Science doesn’t explain God. Science is a study, but not a belief. I am a brain specialist and I have many fellow colleagues who gave up on proving the non-existence of the soul.

    • Ari

      August 22, 2012 at 9:40 pm

      Science doesn’t explain anything? Really? A belief in “God” doesn’t explain everything either. It would seem you are implying that religion, instead, can explain anything and that your BELIEF carries more weight than actual research? Beliefs do not equal facts. So if science can’t disprove something to your liking, then you should have some REAL evidence (not just some nonsense about God) to back up your claims and support your position before you say that science explains nothing.

    • Dr. Dre

      August 27, 2012 at 6:34 pm

      I wonder how many of you neurologist colleagues also call themselves brain specialists.

  8. AdrianTafinder

    January 28, 2013 at 11:23 am

    Flesh also resonates at 17hz which can cause a feeling of unease. It is thought that this is one of the reasons some animals sense earthquakes as there are often subsonic pre-tremors.

    • TiagoTiago

      June 22, 2013 at 4:15 am

      Depends on the flesh. The resonance frequency changes if the speed of sound is different (different densities etc), and the dimensions as well.

  9. Carter

    June 1, 2013 at 11:11 pm

    Ghosts are real. I remember an episode of the Twilight Zone when I was a kid. The premise of the episode was that “reincarnation” had become known and proved to be universally true. Thus, when things really started to suck, instead of sticking it out, the population would simply bail (suicide) in the hopes of a better life and set of circumstances upon return.
    Imagine what it would be like if proof for all was provided for us all that there wasn’t really a thing such as death. Who would be left to take out the trash?
    I’ve had two FULL BLOWN encounters in my life with ghosts. Won’t bother with details. There isn’t anything some who has experienced it can articulate or say to a person who hasn’t had an encounter that is going to convince them. It just doesn’t work like that. I didn’t “ask” to be shown anything. I have no theories as to why I had these experiences. Have no clue weather or not there is something biologically or energetically different or unique about me that enabled it to happen. I have no history of mental illness, wasn’t on drugs and was well rested at the Time of both occurrences. I can’t even say that theses experiences validated some notion of an actual “afterlife” for me. All I can tell you for certain is that these were GHOSTS. Period. I know how very frustrating it must be for many skeptics out there who would like to have a similar experience so that they could know for themselves. You probably stand about as good a chance of “willing” an encounter with a ghost as you do “willing” yourself winning lottery numbers. Ducks.


    June 15, 2013 at 8:39 am

    Ghosts are real and science cannot be the only avenue to verify every single answers.

    When I was ten years old I witnessed a rather mysterious phenomena. It was in May, 1983 around 3am and I was sick and mum was with me in the kitchen. She had prepared hot cocoa drink for me.

    Less then 40 meters ahead of our house was a Nissan Navara bus belonging to a teaching staff. That night was very dark and we had no electricity.

    Then it began to happen. The doors of that vehicle were opened by unseen beings. Tail lights, indicators and head lights were switched on and off intermittently. This lasted for roughly 30 minutes. Unseen beings were inside the vehicle.

    The next day we learned that the father of that teacher died in the village during the early hours of the morning.

    • TiagoTiago

      June 22, 2013 at 4:18 am

      Everything else is worse than science at getting closer and closer to the truth. If ghosts are real, science will one day allow us to learn about them.

  11. Atri

    July 12, 2013 at 11:07 am

    Maybe science is right that ghosts don’t exist, but I have a question. Just like every object in this universe, we, our brain is also made of the same elements and compounds yet not every object can think or feel. So there is a great possibility that a spirit (or soul) exist within each of us which controls our brain and nervous system (maybe through electromagnetic waves or something like that) and this spirit leaves our body when we die and goes out into the environment. It may be in the form of EMF, but we can only feel it. And it might control our brain or nervous system by electrical impulses, thereby projecting images and sounds. The concept of reincarnation is also possible by transferring the soul from one physical body to another since energy can’t ever be destroyed. Does this sound plausible?


    July 15, 2013 at 2:23 am

    I am curious as to the wall units you plug in for bugs. They are high-frequency ultrasonic sound with 20-55 KHZ scanning frequency to upset the insects’ endocrine system, they claim it doesn’t effect humans.

  13. Bill Bryan

    November 25, 2013 at 7:05 pm

    My best friend, Richard Arlington (AKA Harry O. Hall 1900-86), was from a family of psychics. Richard was born with ‘half a veil’ and had limited abilities; but, one of his cousins, ‘Cindy’, was born with a ‘full veil’, which meant she was supposed to have a broad range of powers.. She did. From the time she was 2, she was talking to dead peoples’ spirits and helping to find lost children, lost adults and lost rings and other items. From the time Cindy was 5 she was assisting local law enforcement find missing people and missing items related to serious crimes — such as murder.

    DIGRESSION: There are psychics today who are in jail because they tried to assist a skeptical law
    enforcement community as to the location of murder victims, cause of death and description of the
    perpetrator. Because they knew facts not released to the public, they were charged with the crime.
    A few have been released when it was found that the ‘psychic’ was in another country or had a
    great alibi. There is great reason for fear in the psychic community to assist police.

    Early in J Edgar Hoover’s career in the FBI, Cindy – age 8 at the time – was invited to help in a
    case. She was wildly successful.

  14. xXArrowFallsXx

    October 21, 2015 at 7:12 pm

    Why does everybody think that everything is explainable through science? There are some things science can’t explain, and that we are not meant to figure out. I know there are some of you that are gonna give horrible examples of “everything is explainable through science” spiel. And I realize that there are good explanations for many ghost stories. But not all of them.

    As for me, I do believe there are spirits in this world, and that they do often try to cause trouble. If somebody could come with a more plausible explanation for ghosts than “it’s all due to sounds below 20 hertz” then maybe more people wouldn’t believe in ghosts.

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