Faraday shields

19th February 2018. Reading Time: 5 minutes General, Paranormal Equipment. 2147 page views. 1 comments.

A faraday shield is an enclosure that is used to block electromagnetic fields. How is this used in the paranormal field and how does it work? How was the concept invented and by who?

The faraday shield or cage is an enclosure that is used to block electromagnetic fields. In 1836, Michael Faraday who was an English scientist who invented them (hence the name Faraday). Faraday during his testing observed that an excess charge on a charged conductor only resided on the exterior and didn’t influence anything that was inside it. To test and demonstrate this, he built a room which was coated with metal foil. He allowed high voltage discharges which came from an electrostatic generator that was striking outside of the room. He used a tool called an electroscope which is a scientific instrument that detects the presence and magnitude of an electric charge, to prove that there was no electric charge inside the room. It only existed on the outside. The metal foil proved to act as a shield. It is worth noting and giving credit where it is due however, that while we call this technology a Faraday cage, it was actually Benjamin Franklin who made this discovery in 1755. He lowered an uncharged cork ball which was attached to a piece of silk thread and fed it through an opening into an electrically charged metal can. He noted that the cork was not attracted to the inside of the can as it would have been to the outside. It was lowered to touch the bottom of the can and when taken out, it was noted that there was no charge to the cork even though it touched the bottom of the can. If it has touched the outside of the can, a charge would be present. Again the basic concept is that anything inside the metal enclosure is exempt from electrical charge. So now you know the simple explanation and the history behind the Faraday cage.

How is the Faraday shield used in the paranormal field?

Like everything in the paranormal field, it is based on theory. A lot of people are of the theory that spirits can manipulate electromagnetic fields. This is why investigators use devices which read EMF such as K2 meters and Mel Meters. The problem with this is that while these devices work in that they detect electromagnetic signals, it means they also detect man made ones too. This includes things like phone and radio signals too. It means that it can be difficult and pretty much impossible to prove that it is a spirit manipulating the device. The same can be said for things like spirit boxes and digital recorders. Radio interference means that a lot of people think ghostboxes are simply a case of audio pareidolia mixed with radio interference. Others believe that voices we are hearing on EVP recorders are simply some sort of electromagnetic interference which again audio pareidolia is making us think we are hearing something. To eliminate this doubt, it makes sense to put these items in a some sort of Faraday enclosure meaning that theoretically interference is no longer an issue.

Image courtesy of Ghost Stop.

What items can you put in the Faraday shield?

Ghost Boxes

This is where you need to put on your investigator’s hat and start thinking. Most commonly, people will put ghost boxes into a Faraday pouch. The biggest problem with ghost boxes is radio interference. The theory a lot of investigators have is that if they put the ghostbox in a Faraday pouch, it will eliminate radio interference. While this is true to some extent, it is thought that these are not strong enough to completely eliminate AM signals. This is probably the most common use of the faraday pouch in the paranormal field. Perhaps try running two spirit boxes at the same time. One inside the pouch and one outside the pouch. While it would be almost impossible to have them run the same sweeps at the same time, it will give you a good indication if the pouch really is eliminating any interference. If a voice comes through, is it coming through one or both spirit boxes? Is the voice coming through the box in the pouch or the one outside the box? There are lots of little things you can experiment with and try here.

Digital Recorders

Again by putting a digital recorder inside a pouch, one could argue that there is no emf interference that could be recorded inside the pouch. Some people are very critical of EVP and don't believe it is possible. Their explanation is that EMF interference can cause noises to appear on the recordings and audio pareidolia fills in the gaps. A great experiment would be to use one recorder inside the pouch and have another sitting outside the pouch. Listen back to both of your recordings. In theory, a legitimate EVP should be on both recorders (though not always the case).

EMF Meters

As a faraday cage is supposed to block out EMF, then it would make sense to pop an EMF meter in there. The problem of course being how are you going to see if it is going off or not. You could depending on the size of the cage put a small camera in there to monitor the meter, although in doing so, the camera itself could set off the meter so this would be something you would need to experiment with. This concept has appeared on various ghost hunting television shows over the years with a big structure they have built that could essentially fit a person inside. They even go as far as using a tesla coil to discharge electricity in the hope that it will help spirits manefest. They have some sort of emf detection device inside the cage and ask the spirits to interact with it. By being inside the structure, it should not be reading any outside influence so it would be quite interesting for it to get a reading whilst inside the cage.

This is not exactly practical for the average investigator to go down this route. Just getting it to a location would be difficult and I assume it would be a rather costly exercise as well. If you don't know what you are doing, playing with electricity is also dangerous.

Image courtesy of Rochester Musuem and Science Center.

Have you used or experimented with a faraday shield? Did you find it eliminated the interference? Did you have any success with your experiments? Let me know in the comments below.

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  • Buddy Crowley 2 years ago

    Most elevators are essentially Faraday cages, with metal walls, floor and ceiling (they ride in a metal shaft to boot). It's why cell phones often don't work inside a moving elevator. So you could play with your ghost-hunting EMF devices inside an elevator, and be reasonably sure that whatever shows up is not due to outside interference.

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