The Quantum Theory of Ghosts

I came up with a concept for how ghosts “work” for a series of stories, a pseudo-scientific explanation that functions as a basis for reconciling the supernatural with super science.  The concept grew into what I now call the “Quantum Theory of Ghosts” or QTG for short, and it features in my stories of Jeremy the Phasmaturgist.  As a treat for my readers, here’s a somewhat comprehensive explanation of how QTG works.  Some caveats: as this is a theory, it’s ever evolving, just like any other scientific theory.  Second, while I was a physics major in college, most of this is pretty much mumbo-jumbo and I’m aware of that, but just like the warp drive in Star Trek or the Force in Star Wars doesn’t need to be completely explained to work, QTG is more for story than for anything else, and if what it says doesn’t make any real sense, just remember it’s a story device.

Without further adieu, I present the Quantum Theory of Ghosts by Jeremy’s good friend, the mad scientist Max Bruin.

The Quantum Theory of Ghosts (Abstract Edition)
Originally developed by Professor Max Bruin, PhD

Since the rise of mankind there have been stories of the spirits of the dead returning to haunt the living. The very word, haunt, comes from the concept of an animal feeding place, and ghosts are seen as feeding upon the living.  Some societies revere the spirits of their ancestors, but even these myths include angry ghosts who prey upon the hapless mortals.

But what are ghosts?  The rise of science tells us that the idea of ghosts as spirits of the dead is absurd.  They exist in the supernatural, in a realm where science cannot tread, and as such they are dismissed as little more than the imagination of frightened, backward thinking people. However, with the advent of quantum mechanics, new explanations shed light on why the myth of ghosts remains prevalent in cultures around the world.

What Are Ghosts?
Mythology would tell us that ghosts are the lingering spirits of the dead. Balderdash! Ghosts are not at all the spirits of the dead.  They are not, in fact, “spirits” at all.  A ghost is, put simply, an impression upon the subatomic weave of the universe, created via strong emotion of a sentient observer.

This means, in other words, that ghosts are not the disembodied personalities of the dead, and, in fact, they can be “spirits” of the living!  To understand this phenomena, one must first grasp one of the most fundamental principles of quantum mechanics: observation changes the subject being observed. The simple act of observing or measuring a particle forces it into an energy state. Unobserved, a particle may take any energy state available to it, but when a sentient observer is introduced, the particle becomes locked.

Formation of a Quantum ImpressionGhosts are created when the observer’s emotions create a semi-permanent “indentation” into the quantum tapestry of the universe.  Like the scent of burned toast that remains long after the offending bread is discarded, ghosts are impressions of emotions that remain long after the cause has been resolved. Ghosts, therefore, are formed not from the dead, but from the living and their interactions with the world around them.  The recording of events within the subatomic weave gives rise to an afterimage, and depending on the intensity of the emotion and the permeability of the quantum state, different “types” of ghosts can be created.

Negative emotions are many times more likely to cause these effects.  The reason for this is currently unknown, though it may have to do with the quantum spin of the universe; in an anti-matter universe, positive emotions might create ghosts more effectively.  Regardless of the reason, negative emotions, particularly hate, guilt and grief, are the most common causes for ghost formation.  This also explains why ghosts have traditionally been thought of as the spirits of the dead; death of a loved one can cause profound negative emotions from multiple sources, all centered around the memories of the deceased, which can then amalgamate into a ghost that appears to be the deceased.

The formation of ghosts, however, is somewhat rare.  It requires more than an excess of negative emotions.  The quantum state around the individual or individuals who form the ghost must be favorable for the formation.  Certain areas are more susceptible to this than others, especially those where negative emotions are most common, such as cemeteries or hospitals.  Other areas may be conducive to ghost formation due to other environmental factors.

Measuring and Classifying Ghosts
The intensity of the impression upon the quantum weave determines the “type” of ghost spawned.  Ghosts can be categorized by measurable, observable characteristics:

  1. Size and shape
  2. Range of motion/area
  3. Duration/frequency of appearance

Based on these three data points, ghosts fall into one of the following basic categories:

  • Type A – small balls of light, sometimes only captured via camera, repeating in nature, commonly referred to as orbs.
  • Type F – apparitions, may take partially human form, may have auditory component, repeating in nature, non-independent.
  • Type N – specters, human form, full sensory spectrum, semi-independent in nature.
  • Type R – poltergeist, metamorphic form, sensory and extrasensory spectrum, capable of limited independent action.
  • Type X – entity, fully independent with wide range of quantum-based abilities, often self-aware, sometimes called “demons”, capable of possessing human host via quantum alignment.

Type X ghosts are exceedingly rare, formed from large quantum disturbances over many years.  The classic western “ghost” would be either Type N or Type R. Intervening types, for example Type B-Type E, are variations on the primary of each subset.  A Type B orb, for example, has measurable color shifting.

Because ghosts are quantum phenomenon, they can be disrupted via other quantum phenomenon.  Powerful magnets, for example, can cause ghosts to be attracted or repelled, and radioactive materials can cause mutations in a ghost’s form.  Since ghosts are not made of solid matter, they can pass through objects with no difficulty, but the movement of matter is very difficult for any ghost below the R subtype.

Interactions With Ghosts
Ghosts with fully independent awareness often believe they are the mythological spirits of the dead and act accordingly.  Only on rare occasions do they accept that they are not the remnants of the dead, though this may explain various other mythological creatures such as djinn or faeries.

Destructive ghosts are generally bound to the event that created them, and may be discorporated if the event is resolved. This explains why ghosts might vanish after a murder is solved, for example.  Additionally, certain items may cause ghosts to be forced away, not due to any “magical” properties, but simple because the quantum state of the item in anathema to the ghost’s quantum signature.

In conclusion, ghosts are neither supernatural nor imaginary.  They can be quantified and measured.  An intriguing experiment would follow; placing a Type R or higher ghost within a particle accelerator.  However, such an experiment would likely destroy the ghost, though it might reveal new subatomic particles.  In any event, ghost study may be academically pursued without need for the ridiculous trappings of the paranormal.  As always, science shows us that the world around us is more complex that we imagine, but always within our grasp.


3 thoughts on “The Quantum Theory of Ghosts

Add yours

  1. I don’t think documentation exists, as the author created it for a series of books. I am extremely interested in both physics and quantum mechanics, and before now I had no prior knowledge of this site. The reason I found it is pretty interesting. I was watching “A Haunting” earlier today and decided that quantum mechanics could explain ghosts and apparitions. I didn’t know if a similar theory existed and upon googling I found this blog. The author’s theory, I assume, mainly exists for his fiction stories. I postulated mine as a way to to explain something that I never held credence in. I never thought Ghosts were spiritual and the theory I came up with seemed logical. You beat me to it by a year however, and for that I commend you.

  2. Pardon me for the following stream of brainstorming:

    I love the quantum theory of ghosts; however, how would such apparitions “haunt” mobile structures. I am thinking of the ghosts that are present on ships. Basically, I understand that a quantum effect might stay stationary as it relates to the surface of the earth, but how would it connect itself to something that is not stationary.

    Further, how could a quantum effect become self-aware? If this is the case, then could humanity on the whole be part biological and part quantum effect? I only suggest this, because man alone seems to have the ability to apprehend truths about the universe. Could some kind of self-aware quantum effect explain this phenomenon and potentially explain the existence of a soul? Is it therefore possible that those humans who have experienced an out of body phenomenon have actually experience the separation of their quantum effect from the biological unit? I know this gets dangerously close to some quasi-theism or even a non-theism, but it is immediately what I thought about when I read about self-aware quantum effects.

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