Sunday, February 10, 2008

Balloon Matters

Here is a series of caps I took on Christmas Eve of 2006 at from the ghostcam at Ordsall Hall in Salford, England. The manager left some balloons and other objects out as trigger objects in an experiment. The idea behind a trigger object is to see if it moves. You can see other objects to the left, a teddy bear, which did not move, and a Christmas decoration which untied itself and fell from the balcony. Usually, there is no movement. On this occasion, a total of 3 different balloons not only moved around, but left the room altogether and ended up down the hall in the kitchen. Two of them have already made their exodus on the previous evening. Here is a series of movements that I captured and put into a movie. It was a nearly windless night. There were no people in the building over the holidays to open and close doors. This balloon, which originally began its journey up on the podium against the back wall, is one of the ones that the next day gradually moved to the center of the room and then out the door. Enjoy the show.

One Year Later:
Children, More Balloons, and a Ghostly Figure

Followup: In a similar experiment conducted over the Easter weekend 2008, the balloons again put on a show. In checking with the staff and visitors, I'm told it is drafty, so there are air currents that might account for the balloons moving. But, once again, two balloons left the room entirely and went down a hallway into the kitchen, where I am told such currents do not exist. So, still odd behavior.

Last but not least, here is a cap I took in December. This one sat on my desktop and then in a file for weeks before I looked at it again. I originally capped it because of the children playing with the balloons. I thought it was charming and that I would post it some time when I wanted to illustrate the fun that children have visiting the hall.

When I went looking for it again in January, I noticed something mysterious that I had not seen originally, and that is the white object up on the balcony in the upper left, which I had originally assumed was sunlight. But, when I went back and looked at the cap again, I saw that dusk had fallen, so what was that up on the balcony?

Because the manager of the hall was on vacation, it was another two weeks before she returned and stated:

a. it was not one of the employees

b. no furniture (such as a bench) had been placed on the balcony

c. no other objects were placed there by the employees.

In short, she could not say what it was, only what it was not.The object has clearly defined edges that would not be present if this were light shining in from a window, so, I submit this here may be one of the ghosts of Ordsall, perhaps the same one who played with the balloons a year before looking longingly at the balloon being bounced aloft in a game by the children down below. We've all played that game. I've never been able to resist the game of keeping the balloon in the air and not letting it hit the ground, have you? Why not a ghost?

To watch the Ordsall Hall ghostcam, click on the title of this post.

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