Category Archives: From Beyond

Lovecraftian Scientists: Hugh S.R. Elliot, the mentor of Crawford Tillinghast

resonator_done The Resonator by Steve Maschuck

In tales like “From Beyond” Lovecraft tried to convey that how we see and experience our world and universe is only a small portion of the true nature of reality. In the tale Crawford Tillinghast explains that are perception of reality is limited by our five senses and that even the senses we have are severely limited in their capacity. The best example of this is sight. Humans can “see” only a small portion of the electromagnetic (EM) spectrum, which is a continuum of EM waves of varying energy arranged according to frequency and wavelength. More energetic waves have shorter wavelengths but higher frequencies. The EM spectrum ranges from 100 meters (radio waves) to 1 x 10-12 meters (gamma rays). Out of this huge EM continuum humans can only see wavelengths between infrared and ultraviolet, which is the visible light portion of the spectrum, varying in wavelength between 4.00 x 10-7 meters and 7.00 x 10-7 meters (400 – 700 nanometers).


From Beyond by Michael Lyddon

From an Earth-based perspective, it makes sense that humans, in fact most Earth organisms, can see primarily within the visible light portion of the EM spectrum, since the majority of the sun’s rays that reach the surface of the Earth are primarily composed of light rays. However, there are some variations to this. For example, while bees cannot see the color red, they can see ultraviolet light (UV-light). However, imagine if we could see not only UV-light but the entire EM spectrum! This idea of opening up our senses to all of reality is what Lovecraft was conveying in “From Beyond.”

The idea of expanding the limits of our existing senses or having more than simply our known five was something that certainly stimulated Lovecraft’s imagination when he read Hugh Samuel Roger Elliot’s book Modern Science and Materialism (published in 1919). In S.T. Joshi’s essay “The Sources for “The Beyond,”” found in his book Primal Sources: Essays on H.P. Lovecraft (Hippocampus Press, 2015), he compares a number of Crawford Tillinghast’s quotes to passages found Elliot’s book. For example, Tillinghast’s discussions on how we have only five senses and how they limit our ability to perceive reality from a holistic perceptive, are very similar to some detailed passages found in Elliot’s book. There are also discussions, both in “From Beyond” and Elliot’s book, on how a large portion of an atom is composed of empty space as well as how human sight is limited to the light waves of the EM spectrum and how typically we cannot see UV-light. So, who was this mentor of Crawford Tillinghast’s?


Hugh Samuel Roger Elliot, better known as Hugh S.R. Elliot, was a writer of science and well known for his favorable view of scientific materialism and his criticism of metaphysical speculation. Elliot established three main principles of scientific materialism that included:

The Uniformity of Law – the sequence of cause and effect is constant throughout the universe.

The Denial of Teleology – the denial that the cosmos as a whole is progressing in some direction from a religious, metaphysical perspective.

The Denial of Any Form of Existence that cannot be described in terms of matter and motion – this denial states that under the laws of physics and chemistry every type of existence can be described.

As S.T. Joshi has cited, mechanistic materialism was originally described under Pre-Socrates, Greek philosophy (S.T. Joshi’s I Am Providences: The Life and Times of H.P. Lovecraft, 2013). However, Elliot developed a modern view of mechanistic materialism, from an early 20th century perspective, through his three principles. In spite of this mechanistic view of having the potential to understand how everything in the universe operates, Elliot freely admitted that our limited capacity for detecting everything in our reality with our five senses severely limits our ability to truly understanding the universe.

tillinghast_hutchinson1860 Crawford Tillinghast by D. Hutchinson

This 20th century view of mechanistic materialism is at the heart of Lovecraft’s philosophical cosmic view as well as the development of many of the cosmic horrors in his tales. The Mi-Go and Cthulhu are beings from “outside” of our known reality, so many of the physical and chemical rules of our universe do not apply to them. Thus, by being outside of our universe these beings have a supernatural aspect to them. However, Lovecraft’s scientific, materialistic view states that these beings are not supernatural. Instead, it’s just that we don’t understand (and maybe we never will) the rules of those other universes that have different sets of physical and chemical rules. Relative to “From Beyond,” by generating specific fields of waves, Tillinghast is awakening dormant sense organs (e.g. the pineal gland) that can sense or perceive things that exist but we cannot detect with our operating senses. The result is a scientific effort to describe something that would otherwise be described as supernatural. Thus, in a sense, Hugh S.R. Elliot was the mentor of Crawford Tillinghast, establishing the principles that Tillinghast needed to bend to see into the Beyond.


Lovecraft has utilized the three principles of Hugh S.R. Elliot ‘s mechanistic materialism in other stories and we will be covering one of these in the next article. Specifically, we will be looking at one of Lovecraft’s most celebrated and notorious scientists – Dr. Herbert West. Thank you – Fred.

Lovecraftian Scientists: The Mad Genius of Crawford Tillinghast

Crawford Tillinghast one of the most notorious scientist in Lovecraft’s tales. In addition, Tillinghast is one of the most easily identified relative to science fiction or weird fiction in general. Tillinghast is the “mad genius” scientist. While Tillinghast may not be first of this character type to appear in weird fiction, he is certainly one of the first relative to application of “modern,” early 20th century science and the attitudes the general public had toward science.


First, is it very easy to compare Tillinghast to Frankenstein, however, I would caution one to understand that this comparison is more appropriate for Dr. Frankenstein in the 1931 Universal movie rather than Mary Shelly’s novel. In Shelly’s novel Frankenstein is more of a metaphysical scientist, whose creation of a man is a broader line mix of alchemy and science. In addition, Frankenstein in the novel is more of a narrative of someone who abandons their responsibilities associated with their creation. Like many of the literary metaphysical scientists, Frankenstein worked in isolation to produce his creation.  I read Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein for the first time last February and I highly recommend it!


In contrast to the novel, Dr. Henry Frankenstein in the 1931 film is a medical scientist who wanted to create life from dead tissue and body parts. Here the mad genius trope is exemplified, particular when his creation comes to life. Dr. Frankenstein shouts, “In the name of God, now I know what it feels like to be God!” While initially extremely pleased with the success of his experiments, Dr. Frankenstein largely abandons his responsibilities for his creation, very similar to Frankenstein in the novel, when compilations arise. In contrast to the Frankensteins, Tillinghast takes full responsibility for his creation and discovery. For the sake of ease when I mention Dr. Frankenstein, this is in reference to the movie version of the character.


Crawford Tillinghast displays three of the most common tropes we associate with this type of literary scientist.  First, he is a “mad genius” who is so intelligent that he thinks “outside the box.” He or she puts together concepts or ideas that look ridiculous or unfruitful to the rest of the scientific community. Second, they work mostly in isolation since their ideas are thought of as so unconventional. Both Tillinghast and the Frankensteins display this trope and this is commonly exhibited in many science fiction movies such as The Fly (both the original and the Cronenberg remake) and in Ex Machina. Third, there is the thought of “getting revenge” against those within the scientific community who disagreed with him or her. This revenge can be as simple and disproving the scientific community or it can be as extreme and killing those who disagreed with him or she by using their creation as the murder weapon. Tillinghast displays this to an extreme degree.

In “From Beyond” Tillinghast invites his friend to his home after the creation of his “electrical machine.” Ten weeks earlier the protagonist disagreed, even protested, Tillinghast’s scientific ideas, which sent Tillinghast into a fanatical rage. Tillinghast throws one of his few friends out of the house. Clearly, right at the beginning of the story we understand that while a genius, Tillinghast is mental unstable.


From Beyond 01 – Crawford Tillinghast by Iposterbot (

Early in the tale the protagonist states, “That Crawford Tillinghast should ever have studied science and philosophy was a mistake. These things should be left to the frigid and impersonal investigator for they offer two equally tragic alternatives to the man of feeling and action; despair, if he fails in his quest, and terrors unutterable and unimaginable if he succeed.” While any scientist needs to be objective and impersonal in developing their hypotheses and in the design and execution of experiments, all scientists (at least the ones I know) have a passion for what they do. All scientists have a common interest and passion for wanting to understand and know more about our world and universe. Additionally, within the realm of pure science (the type of science that Lovecraft was more interested in) an experiment that disproves an established hypothesis is not considered a failure; it still provides useful information that can be used to better understand our reality and help further develop the existing hypothesis or generate new ones. Thus, while Tillinghast is clearly mentally unstable, I think the protagonist has a very melodramatic attitude about individuals who pursue scientist investigations.

Toward the end of the tale when Tillinghast turns on the electrical device, we realize his ultimate goal is to use the protagonist’s scientific curiosity against him to ensure is death. Essentially, the “thing” that is coming once the device is on will destroy a person if they see it. Tillinghast states that he “…almost saw them, but I knew how to stop.” He asks the protagonist if he curious to see the approaching thing and even taunts him as a professional. “You are curious? I always knew you were no scientist.” In this situation Tillinghast wants to kill one of his few friends because as he states, “You tried to stop me; you discouraged men when I needed every drop of encouragement I could get; you were afraid of the cosmic truth, you damned coward, but now I’ve got you!”


Again, Tillinghast exhibit the three tropes we find so common in the mad scientist cliché. First, extremely intelligent but mentally unhinged to some degree, resulting in unconventional ideas and concepts. Second, working in seclusion, in an almost hermit-like existence; such pursuits tend to be more associated with metaphysical investigations instead of scientific. Science, particularly since the turn of the last century, is a very community-based endeavors. Papers and studies are critically reviewed by peers and experiments are repeated by other to confirm the resulting findings. Third, there is a need or desire for revenge against those who either did not encourage their research or wronged them in some capacity. This formula for the mad scientist would be repeated countless times in both literature and film. However, in Lovecraft’s “From Beyond,” Crawford Tillinghast may be one of the earliest examples of this, as least within the development of modern science in the early 20th century.


The Electrical Device in “From Beyond” by Steve Maschuck

Next time we will discuss Hugh Samuel Roger Elliot, the science writer who Lovecraft drew from for many of the concepts expressed in “From Beyond.”  Thank you – Fred.

Specialized Mode of Feeding of the Star Vampire


Star Vampire illustrations by Christopher Burdett (2012 Fantasy Flight Games)

On Earth larger animals that are composed of millions of cells need a way to get nutrient and oxygen supplies to all of these cells, while at the same time transport waste products away from these cells.  This is the purpose of a circulation system.  Most multicellular animals have some sort of circulation system.  There are exceptions such as rotifers, which are freshwater microscopic animals that are composed of only a few thousand cells, but for the most part most animals – insects, mammals, reptiles, mollusks, echinoderms – all have some sort of circulation system.  Even the Elder Things (also known as the Q’Hrell), based on the anatomical investigations of the doomed Lake Party, have been confirmed to possess some type of circulation system.

For a circulation system to function, that is to supply cells with nutrients and oxygen and remove waste products and carbon dioxide, some type of conveyance system is required. That conveyance system is blood. Blood is a type of tissue (specialized collection of cells that performs a specific function) that performs these necessary physiology functions. Blood itself is composed of red and white blood cells suspended in blood plasma. Blood also contains proteins, glucose, mineral ion and hormones. Given how rich blood is in proteins and lipids, it’s not surprising that many animals have adapted to feeding on the blood of other animals as a form of predation or parasitism.

engorged%20females%20by%20day_www-tickapp-tamu-edu Ticks feed exclusively on blood as ectoparasites (

Some of the more commonly known haematophagic (that is, blood feeders) animals include lampreys (feeding on fish), leeches, mosquitoes, ticks and vampire bats. However, there are other blood-feeding animals that we normally do not think of as being haematophagic such as some birds (hood mockingbirds and oxpeckers) and insects (Gatekeeper butterflies). Given the nutritional value of blood, more animals probably feed on this fluid tissue that we realize. While some haematophagic animals pose a real and substantial threat to the health of humans, such as mosquitoes and ticks, this is not due to their feeding but as a result of them being vectors for microbial diseases such as the Zika virus, the West Nile virus and the Lyme disease bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. Also the many of the haematophagic species are more parasitic in nature; quietly and carefully taking a blood meal before the victim realizes what is being done.

Mosquito Bite     

Mosquito before and after feeding on a blood meal (

True predatory haematophagic species are somewhat rare in nature. If you are predator and want to consume your prey, why just go for the blood? There are plenty of other parts and organs that are highly nutritious as well. Thus, true vampires, species that feed exclusively on the blood in a predatory nature (resulting in the immediate death of the prey), are not well known in Terran biology. This certainly does not mean it is not possible to have a highly specialized predator that feeds exclusively on blood.  Probably the closest thing on Earth that functions in that capacity are spiders.

Spiders are a specialized group of terrestrial arthropods that inject venom to kill or incapacitate their prey and then inject digestive enzymes into their prey to liquefy their tissues. Thus, in this case, the spiders are feeding on all of the tissues and organs not just the blood. However, there are a few jumping spiders found in East Africa that specialize in hunting and feeding on mosquitoes filled with human blood (

star_vampire_by_butttornado-tentaclesandteeth-d7eon44 Star Vampire by Butttornado (

In the case of “The Shambler from the Stars,” the star vampires appear to feed exclusively on the blood of its victims. In this tale the unnamed victim is raised into the air and attacked, his neck torn and the blood was “…spraying like a ruby fountain.” However, as the blood fell it stopped and disappeared in mid-air, which was coupled with a sucking noise. The body of the victim was quickly drained of blood – it “became shrunken, wizened, lifeless” and then dropped to the floor.

14566243_10209683087407637_5634000613604804429_o Attack of the Start Vampire by Jb Lee

As the invisible star vampire was draining the blood of its victim, it started to become visible. It was described as “…red and dripping; an immensity of pulsing, moving jelly; a scarlet blob with myriad tentacular trunks that waved and waved. There were suckers on the tips of the appendages, and these were opening and closing with ghoulish lust…The thing was bloated and obscene; a headless, faceless, eyeless bulk with the ravenous maw and titanic talons of a star-born monster. The human blood on which it had fed revealed the hitherto invisible outlines of the feaster.”

Once filled with its blood meal the thing immediately departed, apparently with the book as well. Unlike Terran life the star vampire appears to feed exclusively on blood in a very aggressive manner. It did not appear to feed on another other part of the body. This may be an evolutionary advantage. If the star vampire is part of the inter-dimensional plankton (i.e. “From Beyond”) as previously hypothesized, summoning it with the book may only give it a short period of time to feed before it must return to its own dimension or Space-Time. This would explain its immediate appearance and disappearance and why did it not bother to attack the other person in the room. Digesting organs and bone takes time; even with the most powerful digestive enzymes. Thus, draining the blood would be the quickest way of obtaining sustenance before you had to return to your own Space-Time.

ShamblerFromTheStars watermark.jpg                  Star Vampire by Nick Gucker (

What is almost as scary as the star vampire’s extremely aggressive, predatory nature is that it appears to be sentient, cruel and malevolent. It could be heard cruelly laughing when it appeared and after it was done feeding. Additionally, taking the book indicates that while it may enjoy someone reading from the book and summoning it so it can feed, this tome was not meant for humans. So some unknown reason, in spite of getting a quick meal, the star vampire did not want humans to have access to Ludvig Prinn’s De Vermis Mysteriis.

de_vermis_mysteriis__mysteries_of_the_worm__2_by_herbertw-d6s8gjl.jpg De Vermis Mysteriis by Herbertw (

Next time we dive into the second part of the Bloch – Lovecraft – Bloch trilogy, “The Haunter of the Dark.” Thank you – Fred.

Is the Shambler from the Stars another form of inter-dimensional plankton?

the_shambler_from_the_stars_by_leselwyn                     The mystic from Providence in “The Shambler from the Stars” by Leselwyn (

Robert Bloch’s “The Shambler from the Stars” is the first of a trilogy of stories written by Bloch, Lovecraft and then Bloch again. Over the next month we will discuss the science associated with these three stories, starting with Bloch’s “The Shambler from the Stars.” In this tale the protagonist takes a book, the De Vermis Mysteriis – translated to be Mysteries of the Worm – written by Ludvig Prinn, to a friend in Providence, Rhode Island. While not explicitly stated, his friend “a mystic dreamer in New England” is supposed to be H.P. Lovecraft. While the friend is reading the book out loud, an entity appears and kills him by essentially draining all of his blood. When the entity first appears it is completely invisible to human eyes.

ludwigprinn_gregponychuk Ludvig Prinn by Greg P. Onychuk

Our perception of vision originates from light, which is a portion of the electromagnetic spectrum, hitting an object, being reflected off its surface and entering our eye.  The reason why most plants look green is that the photosynthetic pigment chlorophyll absorbs the reds and blues and reflects the greens, which then enter our eye. However, if light is not absorbed or reflected an object may be invisible.  In nature near-invisibility can be achieved by allowing light to pass through an organism. Examples include moon jellies (see below). Their nearly invisible, more transparent, appearance makes it difficult for predators, which may include tunas, sharks, swordfish, sea turtles and other jellies, to see the moon jellies.  The transparent appearance of the jellies probably makes it easier for them to also capture zooplankton for food since these micro-animals are fairly light sensitive.

moonjelly A moon jelly

jellyfish_richardmodlin-com                                                                                       Moon jellies floating in the oceanic plankton; note how difficult they are to see (

Similar to the moon jelly, the freshwater, predatory zooplankter Chaoborus (also known as the glassworm or the phantom midge) is almost transparent, making it difficult for fish to visually find and feed on them, as well as making it difficult for smaller zooplankton to evading this predator. Both of these planktonic examples show that being nearly invisible has an ecological advantage in both avoiding being captured and consumed by predators as well as being able to capture unsuspecting prey. Given this ecological value to near invisibility, more than likely these values also apply to the invisible entity the protagonist’s friend calls up by reading aloud from the De Vermis Mysteriis. While not given a specific name in the tale, there are references in Prinn’s tome of “invisible companions” and “Star-sent servants,” the entity is frequently referred to as a “star vampire.”

chaoborus_8687333746_6cca39451c                                               Freshwater predatory zooplankter Chaoborus, also known as the phantom midge.

In “The Shambler from the Stars” it is suggested a number of times that the summoned star vampire is from distance space. However, I propose the hypothesis that the star vampire is similar to the entities experienced in the tale “From Beyond” when the resonator is turned on. After the mystic from Providence was done reciting the passage the protagonist states that they hear thundering tones that seem to original from far away and yet was burning in his brain.  The room went cold with a sudden wind that shrieked through the house. These conditions are similar to what is experienced when the resonator is activated. Thus, the star vampire may be another planktonic denizen floating in the inter-dimensional plankton, where it cannot perceive us and we cannot perceive it. As we know, when the resonator is activated the inter-dimensional barriers are lowered and perception is achieved. Is it possible that some of the passages in the De Vermis Mysteriis lower these same inter-dimensional barriers? Perhaps the mystic from Providence did not summon the star vampire but instead lowered the barriers to allow a star vampire to see in our Space-Time.

star_vampire_by_clone_artist Star Vampire by Clone Artist (

Unlike the inter-dimensional plankton in “From Beyond,” the star vampire remained invisible even when the inter-dimensional barriers were lowered. However, once it begins to feed it unfortunately becomes very visible. Thus, next time we will discuss the feeding habits of the star vampire and make additional comparisons between it and moon jellies. Thank you – Fred.

From Beyond Part 6 – Invasive Species and Ecosystems



Crawford Tillinghast (by iposterbot).  Did the Tillinghast device open the way for inter-dimensional invasive species to make direct physical contact with us?

As an environmental consultant whose focus is lakes, ponds, streams and rivers, a large part of the work I do is to address, manage and eradicate invasive species.  By definition an invasive species is an organism that has negative impacts on the local ecosystem, which typically results in direct economic or health-related impacts to humans.  Most (but not all) invasive species are “exotic”  which is synonymous with terms such as alien, non-indigenous or non-native species (Alien Species in North America and Hawaii: Impacts on Natural Ecosystems; G.W. Cox; 1999).

Most of the invasive species I deal with (zebra mussels, curly-leaved pondweed, Eurasian watermilfoil) are native to other continents (frequently Eurasia).  In their native lands they have competitors, predators and parasites that keep them under control.  However, once invasive species enter a new ecosystem, where they have not evolved with the native competitors, predators and parasites, they can grow unchecked and have devastating ecological and economic impacts.  A similar situation may be occurring when the Tillinghast device is turned on, as well be described in more detail.

One example of an invasive specie that appears to be showing up on a more frequent basis, at least over the last 5 years, is the water chestnut (Trapa natans). Water chestnut is an extremely aggressive plant and can easily out-compete all native aquatic vegetation (see below).

Lake Musconetcong, located in northern New Jersey, covered over by the invasive plant water chestnut (from the

This aquatic plant originates from Eurasia and Africa and was first observed in North American near Concord, Massachusetts in 1859.  Recently, this plant has been appearing in more lakes and ponds throughout the Mid-Atlantic States and its impact on the entire lake-ecosystem can be devastating.  The plant can grow from 1 to 100 acres over one growing season, easily taking over a lake, covering its entire surface.  This eliminates light from entering the water, killing all native vegetation and substantially reducing the amount of dissolved oxygen (DO) in the water.  In extreme cases, the lake or pond can be completely depleted of DO and a fish kill can be the result.

Another major nuisance of water chestnut is its seed pod, which has four sharp spikes (see below) that can easily penetrate a sneaker.  Thus, once these seed pods begin washing up on local beaches, the local economic consequences can be significant.

A single plant of water chestnut I first identified in Westtown Lake in May of 2011 (Chester County, PA).  Note the large seed pond with the spikes.  Since then selective harvesting and seasonal hand pulling was used to eradicate this plant (as of 2013)

Another aquatic invasive species that may seem to be more relevant relative to the aggressive creatures that appear once the Tillinghast device is turned on, is the northern snakehead (Channa argus), sometimes nicknamed the “Frankenfish”.   This fish is an extremely aggressive predatory fish that is a native to Asia, where it is a fairly important source of food.  The snakehead is known to decimate entire fish communities through predation.  They will eat anything that will fit in their mouths and can group up to 1.0 to 1.5 meters long (3.3 to 5.0 ft).  In addition, they are obligate air breathers, which allows them to move from one waterbody to another on their own.

The mouth and teeth of a northern snakehead, a very aggressive predatory, freshwater fish that has the potential to wipe out entire fishery communities in North America (photo from

Similar to water chestnut, the northern snakehead and countless other aquatic and terrestrial creatures, the extra-dimensional creatures that appear once the Tillinghast device is turned on are exotic, invasive species.  In fact, since they already exist within our same space-time, but not in our same dimension, their appearance can be described as an “invasive ecosystem” clashing with our own.  The potential results of these two distinctly different ecosystems, occupying the same space-time, suddenly having physical contact has been described in both HPL’s story and Stuart Gordon’s movie.

An invasive predatory species “From Beyond” preying on the narrator of HPL’s story (iposterbot)

The invasive planktonic species “From Beyond”, which may serve as food for other, larger species (from Stuart Gordon’s movie From Beyond)

However, even the plankton “From Beyond” can be predaceous on humans (from Stuart Gordon’s movie From Beyond)

Another inter-dimensional, invasive species “From Beyond” (from Stuart Gordon’s movie From Beyond)

The instantaneous lining up of two very different inter-dimensional ecosystems can have profound and deleterious impacts on the species who inhabit both.   Thus, while we can not see it from our own dimensional perspective, the realized intersection of our ecosystem into those “From Beyond” is more than likely disrupting their species as much as ours.

The “overlapping” of two distinct inter-dimensional ecosystems, as a result of the waves generated by the Tillinghast device or Resonator, would have devastating impacts on the species of both ecosystems (from Stuart Gordon’s movie From Beyond).

This article concludes the scientific investigation into HPL’s story From Beyond.  Next time we will be talking about a scientific hoax that HPL briefly referred to in some of this stories – the Piltdown Man.  Thank you – Fred.



From Beyond, Part 5 – The Biology of From Beyond

As previously mentioned, once the Tillinghast device or the Resonator is turned on, portions of our reality unknown to us is revealed.  This includes discovering that our air and space is actually composed of other entities or creatures.  However, once the field is generated with either machine, not only can we see the unknown, but the unknown can see us.  This means that two previously separated biological ecosystems suddenly come into contact.  This article is a discussion on some of the biological entities that are revealed once the Tillinghast device or the Resonator is turned on.

Old Gregory and Mrs. Updike (by iposterbot).  The unpleasant biological result when the Tillinghast device is turned on in the HPL story From Beyond.

Once unknown parts of the Universe are revealed to us, it turns out space is filled with a variety of inter-dimensional beings.  HPL described these creatures as “inky, jellyfish monstrosities which flabbily quivered in harmony with the vibrations from the machine.”  The creatures are also described as floating in the air and feeding off each other.  To me, this sounds very much like plankton.

Plankton is essentially a group of animals, plants, protists and other microorganisms that are free-floating in water.  These organisms spend the majority of their lives floating in the surface waters of lakes and oceans.  Examples on some of these organisms are shown below:

Diversity of marine zooplankton (

Freshwater phytoplankton (

I hypothesize that many of the creatures revealed once the machine is turned on would ecologically function as planktonic organisms, floating aimlessly through and among the dimensions.  Once the waves are generated it’s like looking at a drop of pond water through a microscope.  We see all kinds of creatures we never knew existed when we go for a swim.  Trillions of tiny little organisms floating with us in the lake or pond.  Only in the case of the Tillinghast device, they are macroscopic, floating throughout the air and can drift right through our bodies.  More importantly when the machine is on, this extra-dimensional macroplankton are able to see us as we can see them.

Example of some marine macroplankton – jellyfish.  Could some of the strange multi-dimensional creatures revealed by the Tillinghast device look like these creatures? (

In Stuart Gordon’s movie From Beyond, the Resonator revealed the presence of this multi-dimensional plankton

Like the plankton of the oceans and lakes, the multi-dimensional plankton do not just passively drift with the currents.  There is competition for nutrient and resources and there is predation.  For example, as cited in HPL’s story, “Sometimes they appeared to devour one another, the attacker launching itself at its victim and instantaneously obliterating the latter from site.”  I have seen such violent predator-prey interactions among zooplankton.

In live plankton samples collected from Castle Lake, CA I have seen the predaceous copepod Cyclops speed across the microscopic field and tear into the small-bodied cladoceran Bosmina, which feeds primarily on bacteria and tiny algal cells.  Such quick and violent predation is common in aquatic plankton and apparently it is common in other dimensions as well.

Predaceous copepod Cyclops, which feeds on other, smaller zooplankton (

Small-bodied cladoceran Bosmina, which is prey for Cyclops (

While this extra-dimensional plankton stew is floating all around us, it is only revealed when the machine is on and the waves are generated.  However, as I previously mentioned, the Tillinghast machine is sort of a two-way microscope, where both the plankton and the human can see each other at the same time.  This “contact” between two inter-dimensional ecosystems can obviously have a profound impact on each.  In the next article, the last focusing on From Beyond, we will discuss the potential interactions between these two inter-dimensional ecosystems.  Thank you – Fred

Some of the creatures “From Beyond” (




From Beyond, Part 4 – Science Behind Stuart Gordon’s Resonator

In this article we describe how the “Resonator” operates in Stuart Gordon’s movie From Beyond and compare it to the Tillinghast machine in HPL’s story From Beyond.  The first thing to note is that in HPL’s story the machine did not have a formal name, while in Stuart Gordon’s movie it was called the Resonator.

The Resonator is turned on in Stuart Gordon’s movie From Beyond.  Note the large tuning forks on the top of the device

A Resonator is simply defined as an apparatus or device that increases the resonance of sound.  Thus, calling it a Resonator means that Gordon’s machine was functioning primarily through sound and not through the electro-magnetic (EM) spectrum.  The large tuning forks (see above) support this idea.

Upon re-watching the movie, it is stated that the Resonator operates by generating a powerful magnetic field that vibrates the forks at a precise frequency, which in turn stimulates the pineal gland.  With this description in mind, it appears that the Resonator generates an electric current, which causes the tuning forks to vibrate.  Thus, this also provides more evidence that the Resonator is generating unique and sustained sound waves that then stimulates or “awakens” the pineal gland.

Crawford Tillinghast about to turn on the Resonator in Stuart Gordon’s movie From Beyond

Another interesting point the movie made was that schizophrenia, which is a recognized and documented mental disorder, may be the result of individuals being able to naturally (or possibly with the use of drugs) perceive the “unknown” parts of our reality, without the need of the Resonator.  Schizophrenia is essentially a breakdown in rational thinking and the development of poor or confused emotional responses.

Some of symptoms of schizophrenia include delusions, paranoia and hearing voices / noises.  While not as common as hearing voices or sounds that no one else can hear, a person suffering from schizophrenia could also experience sights, smells, tastes or feelings that other do not.  Could it be that schizophrenia is the symptom of a naturally or drug-stimulated, reawakening of the pineal gland?   If this is the case, then schizophrenia is not necessarily a mental disorder but a person trying to process perceiving all known and unknown parts of the Universe into one, jumbled frame of mind.  If this is the case, does this mean that prolonged exposure to the Resonator would result in schizophrenia?

Is Detective Rustin Spencer’s “hallucination” in HBO’s show True Detective the result of a reawakening of the pineal gland, stimulated through a means other than being exposed to the Resonator?

The key to how the Resonator operates (as well as the Tillinghast device in the original HPL short story), is that it generates a field that no only opens up our senses, but also opens the senses of other entities in other “overlapping” realities or Universes.  Thus, while we get to peer into the unknown – the unknown can peer back at us.

Bubba and one of the unknown entities making “contact” in Stuart Gordon’s movie From Beyond

Next time the discussion will focus on the entities that are seen and “experienced” once the Tillinghast device or Resonator is turned on.  Thank you – Fred

From Beyond, Part 3 – Science Behind Lovecraft’s Machine

Over the next two articles we will be discussing the operation of the machine in HPL’s story From Beyond and the Resonator in Stuart Gordon’s movie From Beyond.  This article focuses on Crawford Tillinghast’s machine in the HPL story From Beyond.


Crawford Tillinghast – the inventor of the “machine” that generates the waves in HPL’s story From Beyond (from the H.P. Lovecraft Tarot Cards by D.L. Hutchinson, Eric Friedman and David Wynn)

In HPL’s story the “machine” used to generate the waves (for details see below) is not given a formal name.  Additionally, the description of the machine is not very detailed; in fact it’s fairly ambiguous.  At one point it was described as a “…detestable electrical machine, glowing with a sickly, sinister violet luminosity.”  HPL states that the machine was connected to a powerful chemical battery but did not appear to receive an electrical current.  In addition, an important point to make is that the violet glow was not electrical in nature.  Later when the machine is turned on, the machine is described as having a crowning cluster of glass bulbs that glow.  Other than that, little else is known about Tillinghast’s machine.  Even at the end, when the unnamed narrator shoots and destroys the machine, no additional descriptions are provided.

The unnamed narrator is about to shot the Tillinghast machine in From Beyond (artwork by Erik Kriek)

More important than a descrption of the machine is how it operates.  In the story Tillinghast states that the machine…”Generate[s] waves acting on unrecognized sense-organs that exist in us as atrophied or rudimentary vestiges.  Those waves will open up to us many vistas unknown to man, and several unknown to anything we consider organic life.”

Tillinghast cited that at least one of these dormant organs is the pineal gland.  A number of times in the story Tillinghast mentions that the machine generates waves that are waking a “thousand sleeping senses in us.”  More than likely these waves are electro-magnetic in nature and what the machine does is expand our abilities to perceive or experience things beyond our five senses.  For example, based on the story, the pineal gland would allow one to see beyond the visible spectrum, shown below as a thin sliver of the entire electro-magnetic band.

The electro-magnetic spectrum with the visible portion (for humans) shown in detail (from

In fact, this is specifically identified in the story where Tillinghast states the machine made ultra-violet visible.  While we can not see ultra-violet, bees can as shown below.

The evolutionary value of seeing in the UV part of the spectrum is that you can see things other organisms can’t.  For example, many flowers have patterns that are only seen in the UV portion of the spectrum.  These patterns serve as “guideposts” for nectar and pollen for bees.  An example of this is provided below.  The upper left portion of the photo shows how we see the flowers, while the lower right half shows how bees see the flowers.  Note how the pattern provides a means of directing the bee to the pollen.

Shows how both humans and bees see flowers (color101.blogspot)

This demonstration of how a bee sees the world is to make the point that expanding our ability to “see” things beyond the visible portion of the electro-magnetic (EM) spectrum would allow us to see things that we normally can’t see.  The machine essentially opens a substantially larger portion of the Universe (and possibly other Universes) up to our perceptions.  One way it could do this is by allowing us to see or perceive reality through a larger portion of the EM spectrum.

The Tillinghast machine initially begins to affect the existing senses, which is why the unnamed protagonist first “sees” within the UV portion of the spectrum and then begins to “hear” a strange wind and after that “feel” a cold draught.   All of this occurs before the strange inter-dimensional creatures show up.  It is interesting to note that within the field of the generated waves not only do we see parts of the Universe unknown to us, but those entities that live in the “unknown” can now see us as well.  The influence of the waves works both ways.

Again, HPL was fairly ambiguous about what the creatures looked like, with the exception being he did mention some were jellyfish-like in appearance.  In a later article we will be discussing the biology of these beings From Beyond, but next time the article will focus on how the Resonator in Stuart Gordon’s movie From Beyond operates.  Thank you – Fred.

I would also like to thank Starry MoonBunny Wizdom from the Facebook page Lovecraft Eternal for providing some of the illustrations included in this article.

A representation of some of the creatures that can be seen when the machine is turned on in H.P. Lovecraft’s story From Beyond (artwork by Zarono)

From Beyond, Part 2 – Philosophical Origins

This short article explores some of the philosophical origins of HPL’s story From Beyond.

The Resonator turned on from Stuart Gordon’s movie From Beyond (1986)

In his book Tour De Lovecraft – The Tales, Kenneth Hite describes the story From Beyond as excessive and heavily influenced by Poe.  However, Mr. Hite also cites this story as a key to  understanding HPL’s philosophy associated with the Cthulhu Mythos.  Some of these concepts include that the Universe and beyond are far more vaster than we can imagine, the Universe is largely unconcerned with human affairs, there are entities beyond our understanding and that on a whole, humanity is insignificant in the Cosmos (Hite, 2011).  Thus, in a sense, From Beyond was the watershed story that led to the Cthulhu Mythos.

S.T. Joshi had a similar opinion on From Beyond (I Am Providence: The Life and Times of H.P. Lovecraft, 2013), saying that while the story is flawed it serves as an excellent exercise for HPL to develop his philosophical themes for future stories.  Joshi also noted that Hugh Elliot’s book Modern Science and Materialism had a substantial impact on HPL and in particular in the development of this tale.

Joshi cites a number of references from Elliot that influenced HPL (The Dreams in the Witch House and Other Weird Stories, Penguin Classics; 2004) and in particular the development of From Beyond.  Some of these ideas that impacted HPL include:

1.  While humans may have only have five senses, it is possible that if we had others means of perceiving reality, we would have a more complete view of the Universe and beyond.

2.  In addition to having only five senses, each one is fairly limited in range.  This suggests that if our existing senses were expanded, we would discover parts of the Universe that are currently hidden to us.

3.  A large portion of solid matter is made of empty space.  The nucleus of each atom is composed of neutrons and protons, surrounded by an electron “cloud”.  The majority of the atom is composed of the “cloud” (essentially empty space) with the nucleus accounting for a small portion of the total atom.

These three ideas are essentially key concepts discussed in From Beyond.  Stimulating the pineal gland can awake dormant senses (Point 1) and/or expand our existing senses (Point 2).  Additionally, the entities that are revealed when the machine is turned on can pass through humans as well as each other.  Is it possible these inter-dimensional entities are taking advantage of these atomic “empty spaces” to pass through what appears to be solid matter to us (Point 3)?

As Joshi discusses in more detail in I Am Providence: The Life and Times of H.P. Lovecraft, Elliot had a strong impact on HPL’s perception of the Cosmos, which was then filtered down into From Beyond.

Next time we will be comparing the science behind HPL’s machine in his story to the science of the Resonator in Stuart Gordon’s movie.  Thank you – Fred


Don’t turn around, the Resonator is on!  (A scene from  Michael Granberry’s great short film From Beyond)

From Beyond, Part 1 – the Pineal Gland

The Resonator from Stuart Gordon’s movie From Beyond (1986)

For the next few articles, the discussion will focus on HPL’s short story From Beyond.  For such a short story HPL crammed a lot of interesting scientific concepts and ideas into it.  Essentially, it is about a man who develops a machine that generates waves (radiation) that stimulates dormant parts of the human brain so we can see what is all around us beyond of five senses; essentially, it allows our dormant senses to see the true nature of the Universe.  Based on HPL the key part of the brain that is stimulated to observe these unperceived parts of the Universe is the pineal gland.

Based on Gray’s Anatomy (my version is a revised American version from the 15th English Edition; 1977), the pineal gland is a small (about the size of a pea), reddish gray body located deep in the brain (see drawing of brain below).

Gray’s Anatomy (Bounty Books, New York; 1977)

While Gray’s Anatomy provides detailed descriptions of bones and organs, it does not tell one what each organ is specifically used for (it’s a book on anatomy, not physiology).  As S.T. Joshi cites in his notes on From Beyond (The Dreams in the Witch House and Other Weird Stories; Penguin Classics; 2004), HPL may have identified the pineal gland to be the organ of concern in seeing the true nature of the Universe, through the writings of Rene Descartes.  Descartes hypothesized that the pineal gland is the mediator between the material body and the immaterial soul.  However, no empirical evidence has been provided to support Descartes hypothesis.

Given its small size, the function of the pineal gland was not revealed until the 1960’s.  The pineal gland secretes a hormone – melatonin, which regulates sexual development, metabolism, animal hibernation and seasonal breeding.

Location and relative size of the pineal gland (from

The gland secretes melatonin in sync with circadian rhythms.  Essentially, more melatonin secreted contributes toward a reduction in sexual thoughts.  Thus, more melatonin is secreted while we sleep, which is why (for the most part) sexual thoughts are generally lower when we sleep.  Also, higher amounts of melatonin is secreted in children relative to adults, which inhibits sexual development in children.  After puberty, the pineal gland shrinks and releases less melatonin (  Thus, less melatonin is associated with sexual development and an increase in sexual thoughts.

Given the hormonal control of the pineal gland over sexual development, it is understandable why this concept was integrated into Stuart Gordon’s 1986 movie From Beyond.  The movie is loosely based on HPL’s story and, if anything, is sort of a sequel of sorts.  The movie will be discussed in upcoming articles, however, here the point is being made that when one is within the field of waves generated by the machine (in the movie it is called the Resonator), it stimulates your pineal gland and begins to physically and physiologically alter you.  One of these changes is your pineal gland increases in size, primarily through a stalk.  In addition, sexual thoughts and urges substantially increase.

Dr. Katherine McMichaels (actress Barbara Crampton) being affected by the Resonator in Stuart Gordon’s 1986 movie From Beyond. 

Based on what is known about the pineal gland, the  Resonator may have generated a field of waves that completely shuts down the production of melatonin.  However, instead of continuing to shrink in size (as it does in the development from child to adult) it actually increases in size (length-wise) and eventually breaks through the skull.  Is it possible that this wave-induced change in the pineal gland allows it to shut down the production of melatonin, to make way for allowing one to sense or experience the Universe as it really is?

Dr. Crawford Tillingshast (actor Jeffrey Combs) demonstrating the extension of the pineal gland in Stuart Gordon’s 1986 movie From Beyond

I know a lot of people are not thrilled when Mr. Gordon incorporates sexual situations in his HPL-based movies, since sex literally had no place in HPL’s stories.   However, in the case of From Beyond, it was more than justified given the role the pineal gland plays in the regulation of sexual development and behavior.  Next time, we will be discussing the philosophical origins of From Beyond.  Thank you – Fred.