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The Philadelphia Experiment and Conspiracy Theorists: Invisible or Not?

A couple of days ago, I wrote here at Mysterious Universe an article on the legendary Philadelphia Experiment of 1943. It was, allegedly, a high-tech test to try and make a U.S. Navy ship invisible: the USS Eldridge. So the story goes, the experiment – that reportedly went drastically wrong and led some of the men to be injured or killed – was hushed up and the whole thing went into a secret lock-down situation. Whether you buy into the story or not, the fact is that the U.S. Navy has spent significant time trying to figure out the truth of the 1943 affair – something that is very refreshing. Unfortunately, though, I’ve seen conspiracy theorists outright dismiss the explanations of the Navy. They really shouldn’t. When I’ve asked people what do they think of the views of the Navy, I’ve seen so many people totally ignore the Navy’s conclusions, and even to the point where they don’t know even know anything about the Navy’s ideas on the incident. It’s a pity that those ideas and concepts of the Navy have been dismissed or ignored. So, with that said, I’ll share with you what the Navy says to those who are intrigued by the old story.

The Navy begins: “The Office of Naval Research (ONR) has stated that, ‘…the use of force fields to make a ship and her crew invisible does not conform to known physical laws. ONR also claims that Dr. Albert Einstein’s Unified Field Theory was never completed. During 1943-1944, Einstein was a part-time consultant with the Navy’s Bureau of Ordnance, undertaking theoretical research on explosives and explosions. There is no indication that Einstein was involved in research relevant to invisibility or to teleportation. The Philadelphia Experiment has also been called ‘Project Rainbow.’ A comprehensive search of the Archives has failed to identify records of a Project Rainbow relating to teleportation or making a ship disappear. In the 1940s, the code name RAINBOW was used to refer to the Rome-Berlin-Tokyo Axis. The RAINBOW plans were the war plans to defeat Italy, Germany and Japan. RAINBOW V, the plan in effect on 7 December 1941 when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, was the plan the U.S. used to fight the Axis powers.

(U.S. Navy), USS Eldridge

“Some researchers have erroneously concluded that degaussing has a connection with making an object invisible. Degaussing is a process in which a system of electrical cables are installed around the circumference of ship’s hull, running from bow to stern on both sides. A measured electrical current is passed through these cables to cancel out the ship’s magnetic field. Degaussing equipment was installed in the hull of Navy ships and could be turned on whenever the ship was in waters that might contain magnetic mines, usually shallow waters in combat areas. It could be said that degaussing, correctly done, makes a ship ‘”invisible’ to the sensors of magnetic mines, but the ship remains visible to the human eye, radar, and underwater listening devices. After many years of searching, the staff of the Archives and independent researchers have not located any official documents that support the assertion that an invisibility or teleportation experiment involving a Navy ship occurred at Philadelphia or any other location.”

The Navy continues: “Over the years, the Navy has received innumerable queries about the so-called ‘Philadelphia Experiment’ or ‘Project’ and the alleged role of the Office of Naval Research (ONR) in it. The majority of these inquiries are directed to the Office of Naval Research or to the Fourth Naval District in Philadelphia. The frequency of these queries predictably intensifies each time the experiment is mentioned by the popular press, often in a science fiction book. “The genesis of the Philadelphia Experiment myth dates back to 1955 with the publication of The Case for UFO’s by the late Morris K. Jessup. Some time after the publication of the book, Jessup received correspondence from a Carlos Miquel Allende, who gave his address as R.D. #1, Box 223, New Kensington, Pa. In his correspondence, Allende commented on Jessup’s book and gave details of an alleged secret naval experiment conducted by the Navy in Philadelphia in 1943. During the experiment, according to Allende, a ship was rendered invisible and teleported to and from Norfolk in a few minutes, with some terrible after-effects for crew members. Supposedly, this incredible feat was accomplished by applying Einstein’s “unified field” theory. Allende claimed that he had witnessed the experiment from another ship and that the incident was reported in a Philadelphia newspaper. The identity of the newspaper has never been established. Similarly, the identity of Allende is unknown, and no information exists on his present address.

The Office of Naval Research is also behind HAARP and the Philadelphia Experiment.

“In 1956 a copy of Jessup’s book was mailed anonymously to ONR. The pages of the book were interspersed with hand-written comments which alleged a knowledge of UFO’s, their means of motion, the culture and ethos of the beings occupying these UFO’s, described in pseudo-scientific and incoherent terms. wo officers, then assigned to ONR, took a personal interest in the book and showed it to Jessup. Jessup concluded that the writer of those comments on his book was the same person who had written him about the Philadelphia Experiment. These two officers personally had the book retyped and arranged for the reprint, in typewritten form, of 25 copies. The officers and their personal belongings have left ONR many years ago, and ONR does not have a file copy of the annotated book.”

Finally, the Navy says: “Personnel at the Fourth Naval District believe that the questions surrounding the so-called ‘Philadelphia Experiment’ arise from quite routine research which occurred during World War II at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard. Until recently, it was believed that the foundation for the apocryphal stories arose from degaussing experiments which have the effect of making a ship undetectable or ‘invisible’ to magnetic mines. Another likely genesis of the bizarre stories about levitation, teleportation and effects on human crew members might be attributed to experiments with the generating plant of a destroyer, the USS Timmerman. In the 1950’s this ship was part of an experiment to test the effects of a small, high-frequency generator providing 1,000hz instead of the standard 400hz. The higher frequency generator produced corona discharges, and other well known phenomena associated with high frequency generators. None of the crew suffered effects from the experiment. ONR has never conducted any investigations on invisibility, either in 1943 or at any other time (ONR was established in 1946.) In view of present scientific knowledge, ONR scientists do not believe that such an experiment could be possible except in the realm of science fiction.”

The fact is that the U.S. Navy went to a great deal of effort when it came to trying to figure out the truth of the Philadelphia Experiment. That should be remembered.

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Nick Redfern works full time as a writer, lecturer, and journalist. He writes about a wide range of unsolved mysteries, including Bigfoot, UFOs, the Loch Ness Monster, alien encounters, and government conspiracies. Nick has written 41 books, writes for Mysterious Universe and has appeared on numerous television shows on the The History Channel, National Geographic Channel and SyFy Channel.
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