Tag Archives: EM spectrum

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).

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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.”

4Eyes_www.beeculture.com www.beeculture.com

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?

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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.

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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.

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The Haunter’s Three-Lobed Eye

While we are moving onto Robert Bloch’s “The Shadow in the Steeple” to conclude the Haunter Trilogy, I did want to spend a little time discussing the Haunter’s three-lobed eye. Just before Blake’s encounter with the Haunter at the end of H.P. Lovecraft’s “The Haunter of the Dark,” he was furiously writing notes in his journal, which would end up being his last recorded entries. The very last statement in Blake’s journal was:

“I see it – coming here – hell-wind – titan blur – black wing – Yog Sothoth save me – the three-lobed burning eye…”

the_haunter_of_the_dark_by_marcsimonetti The Haunter of the Dark by Marc Simonetti

We know that the visible portion of the electromagnetic spectrum (EM-spectrum) weakens or neutralizes the Haunter but does not necessarily destroy it. Yet Blake specifically mentions it’s three-lobed burning eye. Assuming this “eye” is used as some sort of organ for perception, it more than likely does not see it the visible portion of the EM-spectrum as we do.

Electromagnetic waves are produced by a vibrating electric charge and so consist of both an electric and a magnetic component. Electromagnetic waves exist with an enormous range of frequencies. This continuous range of frequencies is known as the EM-spectrum. The entire range of the spectrum is often broken into specific regions. The subdividing of the entire spectrum into smaller spectra is done mostly on the basis of how each region of electromagnetic waves interacts with matter. The diagram below depicts the electromagnetic spectrum and its various regions. The longer wavelength, lower frequency regions are located on the far left of the spectrum and the shorter wavelength, higher frequency regions are on the far right (www.physicsclassroom.com).

wavelength_figure_www-science-edu-larc-nasa-gov                                                              The EM-spectrum (www.science-edu.larc.nasa.gov)

As mentioned in the past article, the EM spectrum can be divided into non-ionizing and ionizing radiation, where non-ionizing radiation does not have enough energy to ionize (remove an electron) atoms or molecules. This type of radiation is only strong enough to excite the election to a higher state and not remove it. From higher to lower frequencies, non-ionizing radiation includes light, infrared, microwaves, radio wave and extremely low frequency waves.

The portion of the EM-spectrum that is visible to us, known as light, consists of a spectrum of wavelengths that range from approximately 700 nanometers (abbreviated nm) to approximately 400 nm. Wavelengths larger than 700 nm move into infrared radiation (IR), while wavelength shorter than 400 nm move into ultraviolet radiation (UV).

the_haunter_of_the_dark___nyarlathotep_by_herrtevik-d6wgtjw The Haunter of the Dark, Nyarlathotep by Herrtevik (S. Tent) (www.deivantart.com)

Any star, including our sun, is essentially a gigantic sphere of gas, or better defined as plasma (a gas but with an electrical charged – an ionized gas).  Our sun generates energy in its core via a type of nuclear reaction known as nuclear fusion. Basically, the tremendous heat and pressure at the heart of the Sun causes the nuclei of several hydrogen atoms to fuse together to form helium atoms. When this happens, a relatively small portion (less than 1%) of the mass of the atoms is converted into energy.  The nuclear actions within the sun generate EM-radiation across most of the EM-spectrum, generating high energy photons (packets of light or EM-radiation called photons). By the time these photons reach the surface of the sun and travel into space they become lower in energy so the Sun does not produce and eminent the highest energy EM-radiation like gamma rays. However, the Sun does produce X-rays, UV, light, IR and radio waves.

emfromsun Relative amounts of EM radiation from our Sun (www.windows2universe.org)

Since the peak of our Sun’s energy output is in the portion of visible light within the EM-spectrum (www.windows2universe.org), the largest amount of EM-radiation that reaches the Earth is visible light. Thus, it is not surprising that life on Earth evolved to “see” light waves. However, not all life on Earth can see the same portion of the EM-spectrum. For example, bees can’t see red wavelengths but can “see” UV light, which is another form of EM-wavelengths that the Sun generates in fairly high levels of irradiance.

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The “hotter” a star is, the more bluish-white it be while the “cooler” a star is, the more it will appear red. For example, something like a brown dwarf, which is a dim, cool object too massive to be a planet but not massive enough to be a star, emits more IR than visible light. In contrast, a white dwarf is a hot, dying star that has burned up all of the hydrogen in its core and emits mostly UV-radiation.  Thus, a more exotic or “alien” star, or possibly a star in another Universe where the Universal Laws and slightly different, may generate varying portions of EM-radiation relative to our Sun. Another example are pulsars, which are a type of neutron star – a star near the end of its life, which generate large amounts of gamma radiation.

Thus, getting back to the Haunter and its three-lobed eye, this organ may be adapted to “see” other portions of the EM-spectrum. One hypothesis is that if visible light functions as ionizing radiation to the Haunter then maybe it can “see” IR or even radio waves (does it come from a Universe where most of the stars are similar to brown dwarfs?). An alternative hypothesis is that each lobe functions to “see” a specific portion of the EM-spectrum or have slightly varying functions as do the cone and rod cells in our eyes (cone cells are used for color vision and work best in bright light, while rod cells are more effective in lower light levels).

three_lobed_burning_eye_by_pickmans_model The Three-Lobed Burning Eye by Elodie Roze

Still, since the Haunter is more than likely not a resident of our Universe, the three-lobed eye may not be used in the same manner as our eyes are. Lovecraft understood that they may be other means of perception beyond our known five senses, a concept based largely on his reading of Hugh Samuel Roger Elliot’s Modern Science and Materialism. Elliot claimed that our Universe would be perceived by us very differently if we had more than five senses; imagine what reality would look like if we could “see” the entire EM-spectrum. We frequently convert EM data of celestial bodies into color so we can see them. For example, Jupiter generates huge amounts of natural radio waves that are easily picked up on simple antennas and short-wave receivers (www.spacetoday.org). Shown below is what Jupiter “looks like” through radio waves. But does the Haunter’s three-lobed eye allow it to see other things beyond our EM-spectrum?  Can it “see” dark matter or dark energy? Can it “see” antimatter or the cosmic background radiation? Or is it see something else, something From Beyond?

jupiterradioimage13cm                                                                                             A radio image of Jupiter (www.spacetoday.org)

Next time we will definitely discuss Robert Bloch’s “The Shadow in the Steeple.” Thank you – Fred.

hofthed_rachelm5_dev The Haunter of the Dark by Rachelm5 (wwwdeviantart.com)

The Use of Color in The Colour Out of Space, Part 2

g23_spectroscope_www.amazing-space.stsci.edu

Separating starlight into its chromatic spectrum with a prism (www.amazing-space.stsci.edu)

As light enters our eyes it reacts with the various rod and cone cells. In low light levels, light is detected by rod cells. In contrast in brighter light, light is detected by cone cells which are also responsible for color vision. White light is composed of the colors of the visible spectrum; a prism can separate light into these specific colors.   Various cone cells detect various and specific wavelengths of light and thus color. More specifically in humans, the S-cone cells, M-cone cells and L-cone cells are most sensitive to the short- (400 – 500 nm), medium- (450-630 nm) and long-wavelengths (500-700 nm) of visible light, respectively.

rods_cones_www.rpfightingblindness.org.uk

Rod and cone cells in the human eye (www.rpfightingblindness.org.uk)

This three cone cell system in humans is called trichromacy, which give us the ability to see approximately 1 million various types and shades of color. Some animals, such as many terrestrial, non-primate mammals (i.e. dogs), have a two cone cell system called dichromacy and can see about 10,000 types / shades of color. In contrast, many reptiles, amphibians, birds and insects are tetrachromatic (4 types of cone cells) and can see approximately 100 million colors, while some insects (butterflies) and some birds (pigeons) are pentachromatic (5 types of cone cells) and can see approximately 10 billion colors! Thus, there are some other animals that can see more colors – a lot more colors – than we humans.

In addition to having the ability to see more of the existing wavelength range of visible light (between 400 and 700 nanometers), some animals can see beyond this range. For example, bees are trichromatic like us humans; however, while our cone cell color combinations are based on red, blue and green, a bee’s vision is based on green, blue and ultraviolet (UV). Thus, while bees cannot see red and have hard time distinguishing it from green, they can see UV while we cannot. Essentially, bees see a “color” (UV) humans do not and humans see a color (red) that bee do not. Shown below are what flowers look like in natural and UV light. The patterns on flowers revealed under the UV light help to guide bees to the nectar and pollen (see below). However, UV light is not just a means of pointing to food. If bees are deprived of UV light they lose interest in foraging and remain in the hive until forced out by severe food shortages (www.westmtnapiary.com). Thus, the absence of UV light can directly affect their behavior as well.

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The visible spectrum for humans and bees (www.westmtnapiary.com)

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Primrose flower in natural light (left) and UV-light (right)

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Dandelion flower in natural light (left) and UV-light (right)

So, some animals can see more colors than us and some can see fewer. Additionally, some animals can see beyond our range of “visible” range of color while we can see beyond their range. All of this does support the idea that there can easily be countless colors that are not visible to us. Again, visible light is a tiny sliver of the entire EM spectrum – maybe other forms of life can “see” other portion of this spectrum. To them, our visible colors may be completely unknown visually, while they may be able to see gamma waves or radio waves.

In HPL’s tale “From Beyond” the resonator generates a field of energy that stimulates the pineal gland, which results in opening human perception to an extended and more holistic view of reality that our limited five senses can then take in; the result is seeing things we as humans cannot normally see. However, in the case of “The Colour Out of Space” it is not known if the Colour is generating any unusual energy or radiation outside of the EM spectrum (more on that later). Based on what we know, the Colour is not an artificial machine or device like the resonator, generating a field that is impacting human vision or our brain to allow us to see its unknown color. The indescribable color appears to be an inherent property of both the meteorite (when examined with a spectroscope) and the unknown Colour that was inside. While humans can see the strange color, we do not know if other animals can; we know the Colour affects all Earth life (humans, animals and plants; most likely microorganisms as well) but we do not know if humans are the only species that can see the unknown color.

lovecraft_colour_out_of_space_by_asahisuperdry-d6abuit

Lovecraft’s The Colour Out of Space by Asahisuperdry (www.deviantart.com)

Given what we do know about the meteorite and Colour, these visitors from “outside” are producing a specific type of EM wavelength that humans are not familiar with seeing. Thus, in order to tease this apart, I have listed below a set of proposed hypotheses that may account for the unknown color. Obviously, some empirical research and additional testing of the material would be required to support any of these hypotheses.

  1. The EM wavelengths being generated by the Colour are not within the slice of visible light within the EM spectrum. Maybe the Colour is generating EM wavelengths that are longer than infrared or shorter than UV. For some unknown reason these wavelengths are being received by our rod or cone cells in a wholly unique manner and are brains are attempting to translate this into a color. The result is our brain providing a feeble and confusing interpretation of this unique electro-neurological message travelling from the eyes to the brain. In this case, the EM wavelengths may be nothing out of the ordinary relative to the entire EM spectrum. It’s just this for some reason the conveyance of this energy to our eyes is unique, somehow altering the EM wavelength and “forcing” it be within the range of our visible perception. It sort of like shining a UV light on a flower and seeing those otherwise invisible patterns.
  2. The EM wavelengths being generated by the Colour are within the slice of visible light of the EM spectrum. As we have seen, many animals have the ability to see a lot more colors due to the number of cone cells they have. It may be possible that the Colour is generating a very specific set of EM wavelengths, possibly wavelengths in between those we normally see that stimulate our cone cells (or other cells within the eye). It may be possible that certain cells (cone cells or otherwise) within the human eye are basically inactive and are only stimulated when a very specific set of wavelength reach them in a very specific manner. This may even be a genetic response, possibly triggering normally inactive proto-oncogenes. However, instead of the unique set of wavelengths switching the proto-oncogene to being an oncogene (which is frequently associated with cancerous growth), it switches specific operations in the eye that generates proteins that modify the cone cells to “see” the unknown colour. In this case, merely looking at the color triggers an individual’s ability to see it. This hypothesis may also explain the deformities and mutations experienced by the Gardner family and the surrounding ecosystem (again more on this later).
  3. The Colour is generating wavelengths of energy that are found outside of our conventional EM spectrum. It is known through detailed cosmological observations that the composition of the universe is approximately 68% dark energy, 27% dark matter and 5% of normal matter (all of the matter that we are familiar with). Other than that, very little is actually known about dark energy and dark matter. There are a number of hypotheses on what dark energy and dark matter are but that is for another discussion. However, it may be possible that the Colour is a manifestation of dark energy, normally not detected by either human senses or our current technology.

There may be other hypotheses that may include antimatter, other dimensions or parallel universes in their explanations; however, the three listed above took the EM spectrum into consideration with their development.

Next time we will discuss the long-term effects of “The Colour Out of Space” on the Gardner farm and family. Thank you – Fred.

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The Colour Out of Space by Pixx 73 (www.deviantart.com)