96 - Monster Month: Ghosts!


Approach. Listener supported W NYC. Studios. Hello and welcome to the show tange the lately horrifying Knowledge Scream case starring some of the ghoulish genius that bring the Youtube Series Sochaux to live this week as always I'm joined by the Spine Tingling Stephan Jaden Lou. How many Vertebra are there in the human spine thirty three? Right, I'll really Stephan. How did you know that I don't know that was The my brain maybe I've watched enough Asmar chiropractor videos that I. Somehow absorbed that Information Center. Well. That's the spookiest thing. Seven what's tagline? Bud Screaming Sam Schultz is also here today Hello Sam Hilla and what's your tagline Sam old bowl of cereal and the scary sorry Riley also here with us today Sarah What's the best? Gourd I'm a butternut squash and my yard right now and burying grilling to see it grow bigger and bigger. So I think that's leave record right now it's the best but Jerry, what's your tagline a bucket of slime and I'm in green and my tagline is lips all lips. Every week here on Tangents, we get together to try to freak out and frightened and terrified each other with science facts were playing for glory but also keeping score and awarding sandbox from week to week, we try to stay on topic, but we're not always great at that. So if the rest of the team deems a tangent unworthy, we will I give up one of your sandbox. So tangent with care and for this most horrifying month of the mall were doing things a little differently each week in October, we will be talking about the science related to inspired by or just sort of vaguely reminiscent of. Classic Horror Monsters, and now as always, we will some this week's monster with the traditional science incantation this week from Stephan, if you're a pacman without a power pellet, it's time to run away. But if you're the spirit of Patrick Swayze, you can go ahead and touch that clay. We were texting a lot but then it was unexpectedly done and a pepper of this type will definitely haunt your tongue who are you gonNA call if you can't do it yourself well, go streiter might be the one who could help some sharks below the surface are deep ocean guests and above are empty ships or towns with none left alive. And if it's you might be fun to operate for your friend because every appearance as a surprise when you're dead a story for the children to prick their hair or an old faint galaxy that might not even seem to be there if you appear a bit whitish and or a bit see through, it's likely you'll be described in terms of the things that say, boo topic for the day is ghosts we're going all in on the most scientific topic. Sarry. What is it ghost? So in folklore, a ghost is the soul or spirit or some manifestation of someone or something that has died I feel like I've seen animal ghosts in stories in media but not plant ghosts so Online there where like dog can be a ghost but your pet fern can't they usually. Creepy about them they're pretentious there. They foretell evil events perhaps guard some kind of secret. I have. unfinished. Business. They could just be extra dimensional. You know people. Up against the the boundaries of their universe in our universe possum right bats are. That's Honestly. What's likely thing if they were real that that's what they would be. To bring it back to science, and maybe the things that we're gonNA, talk about. So there is. The paranormal ish pseudoscience of ghost hunting and things like that, which we will at least touch on in the ask the science couch section but also humans described pretty much anything white or Pale or translucent in nature as a ghost. So it's like a plant that doesn't have chlorophyll and it's white and they're like ghost plant or an animal that's kind of translucent because of the environment that it lives in. So a lot of cave dwelling animals are are kind of weird looking to us, and so we're like ghost fish to look etymological ghost I did it seems to be. Pretty. Much consistent throughout time it's from German. And Dutch de st- and Middle Dutch geest with an H. And they all mean like spirit or ghost and are calculated to back from a Proto Indo European root gas which is used informing words involving excitement or amazement or fear. It's like a combination of spirit things and amazement, and now it is time for through. One of our panelists has prepared three science facts with which to torment dust but only one of them is real. The other three panelists have to figure out other better actioner wild guess, which is the true fact if they do they get Osama buck. If they are tricked, the fact presenter gets a Sam Buck you can play along at twitter dot com slash Sasho tangents where we've put up a survey so that you can tell us what you think. Is the true fact, and now serious time for your facts tell me about them in folklore from around the world people have described floating lights above rivers or bogs as spirits that are hailing wanders or trying to lure them to their doom, and they have many names depending on the stories told about them. They're called things like willow, the wisps or Toyota or maybe and so on. But among the ghostly myths are scientific hypotheses and one of these hypotheses. Came from a science experiment conducted by George Washington when he was still general and based in rocking his you Jersey in the US and Thomas Paine who is known for writing political pamphlets in support of the American revolution in November seventeen eighty three some people and it seems like mostly New Jersey like to say it's the first scientific experiment in the newly formed you say so what did they do to test a natural explanation for these ghostly lights? To number one Washington had some men captured lots of different animals and release them at a distance while Washington Payne stood on the banks of the river about one hundred meters away they discover that animals like barn owls which have white reflective faces and clusters. The firefly's obscured by some brush seemed spontaneously glow like descriptions of the will of the whisk, and of course, they couldn't see other animals like foxes are frogs, chickens that got released into the forest. Number two they took a boat out and stirred up the mud at the bottom of a river with a stick while holding a lit torch just about the surface, the stirring released gases that burst into flame with the heat. Source. Showing that small amounts of these gases could potentially cause the glowing willow the wyss if they got ignited by something. Or not three. They splashed water on trees and racks to Mimic, freezing, rain or snow or frost, and create naturally reflective surfaces after many nights of this and going out with lanterns, they found that some arrangements of icy objects would reflect the light in such a way that there seemed to be a ghostly glowing from the distance. Inadvertently, they had recruited a natural form of pepper's ghost illusion. So are three potential facts are one they captured and released animals to see if they glowed from a distance to they used a stick in a torch and search for trapped gas at the bottom of the lake, which then ignited upon being released or three. They splashed water on trees and bushes to create reflective patterns at turned into a basic form of cool ghost illusion. What is the pepper's ghost illusion? Will you? Tell me Yeah. So it's a in non super physics terms. It is a way that stage plays got a ghostly apparition on new the stage by using a trick of light and mirrors and a glass sheet essential. You can look up diagrams of it. I don't WanNa get into too many specifics but you ever been the haunted mansion. You're you're you're when you're in the room where all the ghosts are dancing. that's a big pepper's ghost because it's recreated underneath you and then reflected as like a ghostly image in front of you and there's a big sheet of glass at you're looking through that year like captures the image somehow Gotcha Gotcha. Well, I know that will the worst. As far as I. Know are like swamp gas created but I don't know the George Washington figure that out. That's also like the classic like government agents tell you that that whatever. was swamp gas of the government guy was the guy who was like. Gas this will come in handy. Not, ghosts the US government has covered that there are no go the original conspiracy. When did we learn about gases? Did we know that? We know about gas during the animals into the woods won that one seems to dopey for for him no. That seat that makes sense that's like the Noah's Ark Approach I. Agree I just it doesn't make sense to me this seems like exactly the kind of thing that like some enlightenment guys feel like, Hey, we can figure out what? Sorry let's just they must be the animals. Release a bunch of animals who can watch the chicken and. There's going to be the thing that. Ns. GotTa find out a swamp Hagen though the sport the splashing water on the trees does seem like something Siri would make up. Don't know why but that fake I'm going to go at the swamp gas one I'm GonNa go with releasing bunch of fricken boxes and chickens would. I like I like that one to animals all. Right go vote at Sochaux Tangents, Dot Org, and then we find out come back. Listen. Who what series about to tell us? What is the true fact? The true fact is the swamp gas on. George. Washington figura willow the wisps and I didn't know that I was surprised that I didn't know it either and like a bunch of blogs we're talking about like Oh. Yeah. I learned about this in elementary school I I didn't grow up in New Jersey but yeah, there were these myths about flaming water and willow lists and they just kind of went out to the creek nearby and Washington and other people thought that the water caught fire or something near the water caught fire because of bituminous. Matter and no, they just like stirred it around to try to knock up whatever this matter is that caught on fire they had no idea it was methane gas like it was nothing and we can see this another lakes, this bacteria, the bottom that generated. There is a reenactment on some anniversary like a few years ago where a bunch of people dressed in revolutionary war garb went out to a river and had a torch and like there's a picture of them next to some fire work. Yeah works. They stirred up the methane at the bottom of the river. Why did he care? Why did he need to figure this out? Thomas? Paine came to visit. And they were talking about it and he was like, I don't know I. Guess we can try it. Wow. They were just a couple of guys being dudes. And they were definitely drunk. I imagine. How safe is this and can I duplicate the experiment probably like medium safe not the most dangerous thing you could do well, anytime you're in a in a boat, you're outside of shrew safety. Youtube videos of people doing it mostly scientists we just like knock a hole in the ice of A. Lake where you know there's Mathon genyk bacteria stir up a little bit and then have fire over it. You'd probably want to have some distance between you and the gas, but it's not like you would catch fire like the methane ignites. So quickly that it's kind of like a burst of fire what ignites the willow, the wisp like I see like methane bubbles up like why does it catch on fire? We think it's methane in combination with other swamp gases, and that's the key to it. Respond combust basically so. There's a gas called phosphene and when it reacts with oxygen, it forms phosphoric acid and that is an exothermic reaction to my understanding that produces enough heat for it to ignite. So it can spontaneously combust because there's like chemistry going on in the air. So in just like the microbes are producing a cocktail of gases, basically some of which can produce a little bit of heat which can then ignite the more flammable gases. So is there any truth to the obviously very fake throwing in the woods? No, like I made it. With the no was. Hesitant in the know was some people have clear is that like there's probably bioluminescence at play in what some people think are willow the WISP. They don't appear as spontaneously and if you like point out a firefly than people are like, no, that's not the glowing ghost that I saw. Plausible but they didn't go and throw animals into the woods I just refund was the watery the the splashing water entries in Bush's just a like a natural explanation for peppers ghosts that he thought up. Yeah. I just made it up to and I read a lot about pepper's ghost delusions because they're cool next up, we shout crawl into our coffins short nap and then the fact off. saw. This year has turned out very differently than many athletes thought it would since the season is canceled, they don't feel as though they they're obligated. Salary what am I GONNA do now? Wasn't doing football football. I mean sale host of the podcast death sex mom in our new series game changer, we're talking to three athletes about how the end DEMOC has upended their lives and livelihoods listen wherever you get your podcasts. A. Bag. Everybody. SAMBUC totals I have nothing Sarah has to Sam has one and Stephan has one but it's time for salmon me to attempt to get some points because we are going to compete. In the fact off we've each brought a science fact to present to the others in an attempt to scare their pants off the present of a science book to award the fact that they like the most and we're gonNA decide who goes first to the Trivia. Question. The question is according to a two thousand nine survey by the Pew Research Center what percentage of Americans report having seen or been in the presence of ghost amount of say like sixty and just something of noxious Lee high like that. I'M GONNA say seventy, three WHOA I now I want I feel like I should have gone higher. Oh, interesting is eighteen percent. Much lower than I was expecting but I guess the difference between like people who like believe and goes versus like who have reported seeing one I've seen three ghosts and I don't believe in. Act Right here both so wrong hand goes closer. All right. You Guys WanNa tell you about a spine tingling tale of that feeling you get when somebody is in the room with you but then you turn around and they're not there because that's the thing that people get and it's it's even a thing. It has a name, it's called a feeling of presence and. It's the thing that researchers have studied because it is more common in patients with epilepsy or other conditions that have lesions on three specific different regions of the brain. I would tell you what they are but like who knows what the difference between these different CORTEX I don't. So the but the the region's we're discussing here, combine internal and external signals to help us. Understand our own positioning in space. So the researchers hypothesized that feeling of presence is our body mixing up these signals, the internal and external signals that are giving us a like an understanding of where we are. So they decided that they wanted to test that and to do it, they turned to a robot, a a ghost robot if you will. So the researchers got. A bunch of participants they were not told the goal of the experiment or what they were trying to do. They were blindfolded and they place their index finger on a robot arm in front of them, and they could move their hand around which would move the robot arm and as the robot moved around, it sent a signal to a robot that was behind them. And that robot behind them would touch their back and so if the if they move their head from side to side, you would feel the robot arm sliding across your back and like it was just as you moved your arm, the robot arm moved behind you. The sensation was that you are moving thing and you're basically touching your own back and there was no feeling of presence. But if you introduce a delay between when you move the lever and when the thing moves across your back. They suddenly started to feel uncomfortable and creepy and several subjects described feeling a presence behind them even though they knew that they were doing this to themselves basically, two of the subjects became so uncomfortable, they asked for the experiment to stop in another experiment the blindfolded participants were asked to estimate how many people were close to them throughout the experiment and the people who experienced delayed touch thought they were more people around than the people who did not experience the delayed touch. So the they think that the delayed feedback, there's this disconnect between what your brain thinks is going to happen and when it happens. So in this case when the brain thinks that the tactile feedback should happen at the. Same time it needs to reconcile the mismatch like invents a person even though you know what's happening, your brain invents this person and they are able to induce feeling of presence. This was not just to freak people out. It was also to help understand how hallucinations and sensory motor mismatches that happen with schizophrenia occur but it is a induction of a kind of nation really easily and effectively and makes me it makes me want to do it so that I can see because I feel like this. There's no way to understand what the cessation is actually like unless you do it, I don't know I'd be curious to know if you like told people to really think about the fact that. They were poking themselves and like told them to focus on that, and if your brain was processing that as an idea, if you'd still feel this were if it's just like you're not thinking about anything and then without little delay, you're not really sure what's happening and you're not putting the pieces together right away and then your brain is like weird things weird things I I think they that they basically new I think that the participants knew that like the patterns that they were tracing were their own input this the sensation it appeared from what I was reading the sensation occurs whether you know you're doing it or not. It is just like a thing that your brain does but I don't know like I feel like I need to do it I need to get one of these robots touch my back at this up. WHO's decks me? So thank yous. The only scientific study relating to go on the entire Internet so Haven't make up my own ghost story face on something mildly related to go. So bear with me. So ghosts unfortunately aerial. Probably they might. Ha- visit people night am for telling death and harboring secrets in the human world at least but fish in some lakes are visited at night by transparent beings with a malevolent presence and these beings also hold the key to a deadly mystery Solo Fish Ghost story for Ya. Anne one, thousand, nine, hundred, seven researchers at the University of Regina were steadying mercury levels in fish in the lake and schedule on some mercury. Pollution is a byproduct of gold mining and when it gets into the water micro-organisms like different plankton and stuff, eat it and then the things that he does microorganisms gets the mercury and their muscles and stuff, and then people can eat those fish in get the mercury inside them, which is a. Big problem or can be a big problem. So anyway, the scientists take samples of fish from lakes to get an idea of the mercury contamination in like a body of water or kind of an area in general. So that's what the University of Regina researchers were doing when they notice something weird fish that were caught at night almost twice the levels of mercury than fish that were caught during the day and at the time in. Nineteen ninety-seven. The researchers didn't ever figure out why that was happening. Oh, a Louis read what I wrote. The researchers couldn't figure out the answer to this spooky night mystery flash forward to twenty twenty this year when another researcher at the University of Regina was looking at the research and the lake and a different organism in the lake besides fish ghost fleas. So they're one point five centimeter long one eyed zooplankton and they're basically completely see through and. They only travel up from the murky depths of the lake at night. So during the day, they live in the money lake bed and the other plankton and they basically like eat things and swim around in stuff that is full of mercury. So they suck in all the mercury that managed to get all the way to the bottom of the lake. Then at night they rise from the Muddy Depp's and get eaten by fish that are active. And that leads to what this person discovered the way higher mercury content in those fish. So then since then I think this phenomenon has been found in other lakes across. North America where there are ghost fleas and ecological researchers think that this is like totally huge missed thing that will like redefine how much mercury we're finding in environments just because we did never think to look at this before. So there you go as close to a ghost story as exist in real life, a deadly mystery solved at night by transparent crappies rising from the ground. Fish poop like. Mercury inbounding. No I think they were just different sets of fish like there's night fish and there's day fish 'cause the fish can't see. So you can't see well at night. So they don't go out eating these things and I guess go to bed or something I don't know a fish do but then there's More active hunters I, and they were eating the the only nighttime ghost lice. A should I never eat ghost fleas or just these specific. If you raised your own in a clean environment, you could probably probably eat them because one point five centimeters. That's big enough for you to to have snack right might be a little too big honest leak of FRY THEM A-. So we've got my fact where a robot can induce the feeling of it outside present, spiced replicating and delaying a person's on movement or SAM's FAC where goes fleas have helped researchers figure out that nocturnal fishing Canadian lake had higher mercury levels because of the the way that the mercury settles down on the lake three to one am wow, shocked. Mine wasn't even about ghosts at all. It like such a good ghost story so I wanted to give you like. A for effort and are actually called go sleazy didn't just that. Well, it's time to ask the science couch and gus listener questions for our crypt finally own. mind. Dead this is from questionable Kens, what is an F. reader actually four and what is it supposed to do with ghosts? Also, we got another one from at a list Myers who said, when did we start associated electromagnetism with ghosts and y? Who decided ghosts are magnets? I think like the thing mandatory him like electromagnetic fields like it's weird right? You know and same COMPASSI are correct took it doesn't make it doesn't make an immediate sense that there is this like weird other force deep in my soul I'm like gravity that makes sense because it's I've experienced the whole time. electromagnetism Mike it happens in weird places where I'm not looking and don't understand whereas my body experiences gravity it does not experience electromagnetism. So I think it's just like it's Kinda spooky all the forces except gravity are Spooky Oh and the only and the strong and weak force like you do actually never experience. So this is just like the one force that like is like tangible like we can. It's really easy to see it moving around but also like not something that we directly experience our whole lives with our bodies and so it's a spooky force. So it makes sense to me that goes people are like, let's look at the spooky force and then they could be like look spooky thing happened with a my dial. To me. That's all there is to it as like I can measure thing that's not visible and that means I can correlate it with some other thing. Is it more likely that there will be like rampant electromagnetic fields in like an abandoned building verses like my house? Probably not I don't know why there would be electromagnetic fields anywhere. There, in a lot of places, electromagnetic field readers measure alternating current specifically, and they are supposed to be used for finding radiation from like household appliances that shouldn't be admitting them though like a broken power line or like a cable that is. For some reason like spewing photons into the into the air instead, and so I think if there's a broken down house with electricity still running to it, then it'll probably have more sources of electromagnetic fields than like a perfectly in repair house but the difference is pretty minor and some of them, the models that are most popular in Ghost hunting are some of the worst emf readers out. So like you have to wave it around and they can be set off by even like normally functioning. TV's or microwaves are things like that because any pretty much any electronic device can give off electro-magnetic waves and that is possibly why it became part of Ghost Hunting Lor to like in addition to it being something we can't see if something that is also pretty. Abundant around us. So if you're trying to look for it and you're trying to look for an unseen thing and you're trying to say that ghosts are everywhere around us than you can look for something that will be around us a lot I didn't want to dig into the wire ghost might not too much. But is a guy who sells scientific in quotes paranormal kits. He says that energy fields have some definite connection to the presence of ghosts and the exact nature of that connection is a mystery. So basically, he wants you to buy his bed and doesn't have an explanation for why energy is connect like electromagnetic energy specifically is connected to ghost. We didn't have an explanation for a lot of things for a long time. And then we did so. That's Great Sam missiles for science by. If. You want to ask a question to the science. Crypt, you can follow us on twitter at show tangents. We'll tweet up topics for upcoming episodes every week. Thank you to, at Andrews Zero at El Phoenix nine and everybody else who tweeted us your questions this episode final scores. Sammer tied for first and Hank and Stephan. We came in last with one and that means that Siri is now in the league sixty eight points. Clone point ahead of Seven and seven seven points ahead of me. In there somewhere too I could still kept saying it probably will because you're much smarter than me. First of all, I don't believe that's true. Second, this game does not test how people are. Okay. If you like the show and you want to help us out. It's easier to do that. You can leave us a review wherever you listen. It helps us know what you like about the show and maybe somebody somewhere we'll see it and be like I want to listen to that. That sounds great second you tweet your favorite moment from the episode and finally if you want to pursue tangents just Josh attention to the CO production of complexly and a wonderful team at WNYC studios. It's greeted by all of us and produced by Caitlin Hofmeister Sam Schultz who also edits a lot of these episodes along with Shema our social media organizers, Pella Garcia Burrito our editorial assistant is to book truck. Verdy are sound design is by Joseph Tuna. And we could make any of this with other patrons on Patriots. Thank you and remember mind is not a coffin to be filled, but a jackal enter to be lighted. But one more thing. So, there's a dog in the Amazon that is so elusive that it is called the ghost dog. They're also known as the short eared dogs and they're hard to find because they're shy and tend to hunt alone or in very small groups. So researchers turned to whatever they could find to learn more including sifting through the dogs poop to figure out their diet but one researcher ended up with an opportunity to work with a ghost dog close and realized the other secret to their elusive nature tiny testicles. It turned out that the dogs didn't reach sexual maturity until they were three years old. Dogs produce about a year old and then probably makes survival a bit tougher since more of them die before they're able to reproduce guest testicles are pretty close physically to butts. So sure they were looking through the poop because they were so ghostly, they had to like find droppings. But then the extra fun fact is that they have small ears than small balls. An extra.

Coming up next