PSICAN - Paranormal Studies and Inquiry Canada

UFO Sightings, Visitations, and Related Experiences

Written by Chris Rutkowski

Article Index



5.1 VESTIGIA A group whose work supports that of Persinger and paral- lels his research on the TST is Vestigia, a group of individuals who have conducted independent studies into so- called "spook lights".{6} The group has often set up field experiments in areas frequented by these lights, using equipment such as geiger counters, methane detectors, infra- red sensors and radio detection equipment with several thou- sand feet of wire attached to an amplifier and an oscillo- scope. They have reported the detection of radio emission of 40 kHz during the observation of yellowish-white lights along railroad tracks in areas with small faults or alluvial soils (Wagner et al., 1978). Their theory for the phenomenon is nearly identical to the TST: "When quartz-bearing rock is subjected to immense electrostatic charge is generated. At the maximum periods of lunar tidal stresses (sic) this __________ {6}

It appears that Persinger has drawn upon Vestigia's results and theories to some degree effect would be more pronounced. If sufficient electrical fields are created close to the surface, a portion of the spherical field would be above the surface. In a region where either faults or loose- packed alluvial soils are present, radon gas would be emitted into the air at the surface.

This radioactive gas would create partially "ionized" pockets of air which would be enhanced by the highly electrified fields in the region. This would, in turn, start a low-energy plasma of small size which would be pre-dominantly near railroad tracks or power lines that traverse the terrain." (Wagner et al., 1978) The Vestigia group goes on to describe details such as colors of the lights, the effect of changes in atmospheric and the effect on humans in the proximity.

Although the theory is well-described, little in the way of supporting physical mechanisms is given, showing more similarity with the TST. Vestigia has produced photographs of the lights and records of the instrumental detection of the events, as well as numerous witnesses' accounts. In sup- port of Vestigia, it should be noted that although many "spook lights" have been reported around the world, no sci- entific investigation of them has been conducted by the scientific community. Vestigia has gone to considerable length to document the phenomenon, and has produced a theory which is consistent with the observations, although a quantitative assessment is certainly in order. The theory is subject to considerable constraints.

Once again, it would be desireable to know the relation- ship between stress and energy production, and the energy requirements involved. Also, one would have to question the observations themselves, since Vestigia has described in one instance a "spook light" that was visible and detectable from only one direction (Wiedemann, 1977). The TST would here invoke the influence of EM emission upon the human brain to explain the appearance of a UFO to one person and not another, but the Vestigia theory leaves this question unanswered, although it has commented on animal precursors of earthquakes (Wagner et al., 1978).

The Vestigia group has also expressed its view that electrostatic fields of the order of 10^5 V m^-1 could be generated in quartz-bearing rock under stress. They include piezoelectricity in their approach as well, and describe a relationship between earthquakes and "spook lights". Specifically, they found that 80% of recorded "spook lights" cor- respond to "regions of extensive earthquake activity". But they realized that the other 20% would constitute a problem.

They were encouraged, however, by the finding that a light in South Carolina not on a previously recognized fault was in fact on a fault discovered after the light's documentation.

In April of 1978, some of Vestigia's consultants present- ed a paper to the American Geophysical Union meeting on "earth stress lights", and as a result of their studies, announced: "we now [have] introduced to the scientific community a realistic explanation for luminous occurrences in earthquake regions" (Wagner and Visvanathan, 1978). As well, based on their "spook light" research and probably also due to the success of a light "predicting" a fault, Vestigia commented that: "Possibly within the next 10 years, THERE WILL BE AN EARTHQUAKE in Florida, S.E. Texas and S.E. Maryland." (Wagner et al., 1978) (emphasis in original) Vestigia's theory is actually preferable to the TST in some ways because it focusses on only one type of UFO, the "spook light", which has its own individual characteristics. Statistical studies involving the TST have used raw UFO data from UFO report catalogues, incorporating a wide variety of characteristics, and hence may involve several different phenomena.

5.2 EARTH LIGHTS Another group of researchers doing independent research into strain-related luminous phenomena are involved in the Dragon Project. Involved are: Don Robins, an inorganic che- mist; Paul Devereux, an archaeological researcher and writer about UFOs; and Paul McCartney, a geochemist. The Dragon Project cites the work of Persinger and Brady{7} in support of their own research into the relationship between UFOs and geophysical phenomena. But these two groups of researchers have rather marked distinctions. Firstly, the Dragon Project is primarily interested in the petroforms of England, including Stonehenge, Rollright and other megalithic sites (Devereux and Forrest, 1982). The researchers believe that they have found that "stone circles...emit anomalously high and anomalously low lev- els... of radiation. (Robins, 1982)" Combined with this radiation is also ultrasound production, detected at some sites (Robins, 1982). What has been found is that certain sites give geiger counter readings at levels above the normal background, while at some sites, the background is unusually low. The Dragon Project has put forth the concept of "Earth energy", which is more mystical than mechanical. This "Earth energy" is reportedly detected by dowsers and psychics, and permeates all things in analogy to the famous __________ {7}

Specifically, Persinger and Lafreniere (1977) and Brady et al (unpub). "ether" of the ancient philosophers (Robins, 1982). One of the proponents of this energy, Devereux (1982), combined the concept of radiation emission with that of UFOs. Devereux and his associates carried out several experiments (all with unpublished details and results) in which they crushed a specimen of rock and observed lights produced during the process (Devereux et al., 1983). In this way, they were able to "confirm" the results of Brady et al (unpub). Frequently referring to Persinger's research, Devereux (1982) found "the best UFO-geology correlations yet published". He found that many UFO sightings in Wales occurred within a few hundred metres of a fault. But he makes a quantum leap from faults to earthquake lights at one point (citing Derr (1977)), and links the TST with his research (Devereux, 1982).

Devereux, however, makes one distinction in that he disagrees that piezoelectricity is the causative mechanism for UFOs. He suggests triboluminescence "as a more likely candidate" (Devereux et al., 1983). The two processes are different mechanisms, but both produce luminous phenomena in minerals. Piezoelectricity is created when certain crystals are subjected to pressure, while triboluminescence is the effect caused by mechanical friction upon two mineral surfaces.

Devereux, although claiming to have duplicated Brady's experiments, describes a photograph of "triboluminescence in rock crystal...after it has been subjected to friction (Devereux et al., 1983)." But Brady (Brady et al., unpub) subjected his granitic core sample to pressure, a different mechanism. There appears to be a lack of distinction here, and a probable contributing factor to this confusion is the fact that the experimental results of neither Brady nor Devereux have been formally published. A further similarity between the TST and EL (Earth Lights) theories is that the latter includes the possibility that the energy that "creates" the EL may effect the human brain. In this regard, the EL theory claims that psychics or "sensitives" might be more apt to perceive these energies than other people (Persinger, 1975). Although no actual mechanism is proposed, the implication is that the "Earth energy" acts upon the brain in a method in agreement with that proposed by the TST. It is clear, then, that the EL theory parallels the TST in many ways. A significant difference is that the EL theo- ry restricts "Earth energy" effects upon human systems to distances generally less than 1 km, whereas the TST involves faults and/or events up to 200 km away from an observer.