A lot of people interested in the paranormal will certainly remember finding a corner in the school library and reading about the wonders of the paranormal world through the lens of Usborne’s The World Of The Unknown Series.
First published in the 1970s, The World of the Unknown books were some of the very first from Usborne, then a brand-new publisher that set out to revolutionise the world of children’s books. The three books – Ghosts, UFOs, and Monsters – lived on bookshelves in bedrooms and libraries, thrilling their young readers with mythical monsters and sinister sightings, and igniting their curiosity with the possibility of strange, undiscovered creatures in our world.
For those nostalgia buffs, these books were re-released in recent years and are available to buy! Yes, the above are all a part of my personal collection!
When revisiting this series, I came across a picture that I had seen countless times on social media explaining the theory as to how or why ghosts could walk through walls. I knew that I had seen the picture before, but didn’t initially make the connection until I re-read the book. The image is often circulated on social media without any reference to the article or the book itself, so I wanted to make sure that readers know where this image comes from. While we are at it, let’s look further into the theory presented here!
The above graphic appears on page 16 in the section ‘The Haunted House’. It states:
Many ghosts haunt one particular place, such as the house where they once lived. These haunting spirits are seen time and time again, wandering through the house. Haunting ghosts are thought to occur because of a violent or dramatic event in the past that links a spirit to a place, Houses where a brutal crime was committed or someone was bitterly unhappy are haunted. Some of the strange noises that make people think a house is a haunted are caused by natural events, such as the creaking of shrinking and expanding timbers, or the sound of rats and mice scurrying about.
Page 16: The World Of The Unknown: Ghosts
In reading this, the first thing that comes to mind is that perceptions have not really changed since the 1970’s. Or maybe it is that this book had such a heavy influence on the future paranormal field? I suppose in theory the above makes sense which is why it is still spoken about today.
From my own perspective when we look at the theory of ghosts passing through walls and the above graphic, I like to look at the concept of time itself. Time seems to be one of the common denominators in a lot of different theories related to the paranormal. This theory is no different in that it theorises that a ghost or spirit still walks the path or sees things in their time as the above image suggests. According to Albert Einstein, time is subjective.
“Now he has departed from this strange world a little ahead of me. That means nothing. People like us, who believe in physics, know that the distinction between past, present and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.”
The above was written in a letter from Einstein to the family of a close friend not long after he learned of his death. If there really is no linear flow of time and we were to see ‘reality’ as it really is, what does that mean for what perceive as spirits? What if Einstein is right about the past present and future being an illusion? How do we know a ghost is from the past? What if it is paranormal investigators from the future or another time?
I have written about psychic imprints before which you can read about here. In that article, I talk about paranormal investigators possibly leaving psychic imprints on locations by conducting investigations week in and week out. The concept of psychic imprints is also a topic covered in The World Of The Unknown:Ghosts albeit from a different perspective.
The original theory of ghosts walking through walls can also tie into the above theory which is often referred to by investigators as residual energy. In some ways, it is like a playback of past events. It also mentions:
“Gradually, however it fades away, becoming fainter and fainter until vanishes completely.”
I suppose you have heard the question ‘Why aren’t there any dinosaur ghosts?’. The above is referred to in many ways with the same kind of concept, at some point that energy burns out. If you have people going through a location each week investigating it, you are somewhat replacing or even ‘recording over’ the previous energy. Soon it all becomes an energetic mess to sort through.
Can ghosts really walk through walls?
Of course, we have to look at things from another lens as well. It is something I have previously explored in my article The 3rd law of motion and the paranormal. According to the 3rd law of motion, a ghost would not be able to walk through walls. Now of course this argument can be flawed in a lot of ways because we don’t know what a ghost is and if physics even applies, but it is important to discuss this side of things as well. In the paper: Cinema Fiction vs Physics Reality: Ghosts, Vampires and Zombies by Efthimiou, C. & Gandhi, Sohang. (2006), Efthimiou examines the popular movie Ghost (one of my favourite movies I literally just watched again the other day) and picks apart certain aspects as even though a movie, it still is a basis for how many believe ghosts behave. In a specific example, they explore the concept of ghosts walking through walls or even walking up stairs. From Newton’s 3rd Law of motion, this would not be possible.
Image Source: Efthimiou, C. & Gandhi, Sohang. (2006). Cinema Fiction vs Physics Reality: Ghosts, Vampires and Zombies.
Let us examine the process of walking in detail. Now walking requires an interaction with the floor and such interactions are explained by Newton’s Laws of Motion. Newton’s first law is the law of inertia. It states that a body at rest will remain at rest until acted upon by an external force. Therefore, a person cannot start walking unless a force, applied by some body other than herself, is acting upon her. But where is the force coming from? The only object in contact with the person while walking is the floor. So, the force moving a person during walking is coming from the floor. But how does the floor know to exert a force when the person wants to start walking and stop exerting it when the person wants to stand? Actually, there is no magic here. The person actually tells the floor. She tells the floor by using Newton’s third law
Newton’s third law says that if one object exerts a force on another object, then the second object
exerts a force, that is equal but oppositely directed, on the first object — hence “for each action there
is an equal but opposite reaction.” Thus when the skate-boarder in figure 4 pushes on the wall, the
wall pushes right back on her, causing her to accelerate off to the left.
Efthimiou, C. & Gandhi, Sohang. (2006). Cinema Fiction vs Physics Reality: Ghosts, Vampires and Zombies.
The above is food for thought. While the above paper is likely written from a hard skeptical stance with perhaps some sarcastic undertones in there as it was written to debunk Hollywood movies using science, it does make me ponder the question simply because we are talking about force and movement, if a ghost does not apply force on the floor to walk, how is that we will hear footsteps? How would we communicate with spirits or ghosts if the law of motion does not apply to them? We ask a spirit to touch a device to set it off. There are specific devices that require force or vibration to be able to trigger. If this force or vibration (which would have to be caused by movement) trigger is not applied, then in theory the device should not be going off. We ask a spirit to knock on a table or even to move an object. If a ghost can walk right through a wall, how can they also tap on it or a solid surface to make a noise? How can they do this if the basic laws don’t apply to them? I know that it is not black and white and we can’t really answer this with any certainty. There is so much that science cannot explain, but it does in some ways make me think about the way we approach paranormal investigation against the theory that we use. If we do think that spirits are just energy, maybe we are asking the wrong things from them in how we communicate.
I am asking the next question with sincerity. If a ghost or spirit can walk through a wall, why is it they do not fall through the floor? I suppose like many things whether you look at it from a scientific, spiritual or even skeptical perspective, there are always going to be flaws and holes and things that can’t be replicated or things that don’t add up. That is why we are all so intrigued but it is also why discussion is important. Proper discussion with sincerity and not ridicule. Perhaps that is why this book was so popular and spoke to so many people. It stated things as they are seen and interpreted but presented the other side as well. It didn’t tell anyone what to think, something that gets lost in the modern paranormal field some times. We can’t speak on any side of the fence in absolutes. We can only offer our opinions, our experiences and our theories and maybe somewhere in the middle, we may just get some answers.