Tag Archives: Philadelphia Experiment

The Philadelphia Experiment

Nowadays many people are familiar with the legend of the Philadelphia Experiment — but how did it all begin?

6 conspiracy theories that inspired sci-fi and horror movies

From faked lunar landings to invisible WWII warships, here are six conspiracy theories and the genre films they inspired…

By Ryan Lambie via Den of Geek

conspiracy-main“Fluoridation is the most monstrously conceived and dangerous communist plot we have ever had to face,” Sterling Hayden’s General Jack D Ripper coldly announces in Stanley Kubrick’s breathtakingly funny satire, Dr Strangelove.

Ripper’s conspiracy theory, that the commies are secretly trying to compromise our “precious bodily fluids”, becomes his harebrained reason for unleashing a missile strike on the USSR. And just as Ripper was inspired by this strange notion to trigger a nuclear apocalypse, so filmmakers have been inspired by conspiracy theories to make all kinds of science fiction and horror movies – some funny, some tense and absorbing, others terrifying.

Here, then, is a selection of six real-world conspiracy theories and the varied movies they inspired – and funnily enough, Stanley Kubrick even pops up in one of the more familiar entries…

1. The Philadelphia experiment

philadelphiaexperimentThe conspiracy: The story goes that, during the chaos of World War II, a group of scientists working for the US navy were carrying out an experiment that could have altered the face of the battle completely: they were attempting to make a warship invisible. The warship in question was the USS Eldridge, docked in the Philadelphia Naval Yard, and the experiment supposedly took place in October 1943.

A scientist named Dr Franklin Reno was said to be the mind behind the project, having taken inspiration from Einstein’s unified field theory – and according to the legend, it was a success. Not only was the ship rendered invisible, but in subsequent experiments, apparently teleported to another location 200 miles away and back again.

The experiment wasn’t without its side-effects, however; sailors were said to have suffered from a range of ailments, including nausea, mental trauma, invisibility and spontaneous combustion. It’s even said that some sailors were found partly embedded in the structure of the ship itself.

For its part, the US navy has always denied that the Philadelphia experiment ever took place, but this has merely added to the claims that the incident was covered up. Despite repeated counter-claims that the experiment is a mixture of hoax and misheard information (the navy really were looking at ways of making ships undetectable to magnetic torpedoes at the time, which could have somehow been misinterpreted as ‘invisible’), the legend’s endured, partly thanks to books like The Philadelphia Experiment: Project Invisibility.

The obvious question, though, is if the US navy managed to make a ship invisibile so long ago, why hasn’t this technology become widespread since? The supporters of the conspiracy would probably argue that the US navy uses invisibility all the time – we just can’t see the evidence.

philadelphia-02_250pxThe movies: “The experiment that should never have happened 41 years ago is still going on,” read the tagline to The Philadelphia Experiment, which took the legend and turned it into a time-travel adventure-romance. Michael Pare and Bobby Di Cicco play two sailors aboard the USS Eldridge who find themselves thrown 40 years into the future by the experiment, and then have to figure out a means of closing off a rift in time and space that could destroy the entire planet.

Although not a big hit at the time of release, The Philadelphia Experiment is almost as persistent as the legend behind it: a belated sequel materialised in 1993, while a made-for-TV remake appeared on the Syfy Channel in 2012. The Philadelphia Experiment is also a good example of how urban legends perpetuate themselves through storytelling.

In the late 1980s, a chap named Al Bielek happened to catch a showing of the 1984 Philadelphia Experiment movie on television, which he claimed dislodged repressed memories of his own involvement in the 1943 project. In later interviews, he not only stated that he’d been a sailor aboard the USS Eldritch, but also that he’d been sent forward in time to the year 1983. Mind you, Bielek also claimed to have taken a time tunnel to Mars, conversed with aliens, travelled forward in time to the year 2137, and back to the year 100,000 BC. Bielek’s claims then appeared to inspire the makers of the film 100,000 BC, a straight-to-video action film where members of the Philadelphia Experiment go back to the time of the dinosaurs.

Like a feedback loop, legends grow and change as they’re told and retold.

2. The Roswell incident

roswell_600px

Major Jesse Marcel from the Roswell Army Air Field with debris found 75 miles north west of Roswell, N.M., in 1947. The debris was identified as that of a radar target.

Major Jesse Marcel from the Roswell Army Air Field with debris found 75 miles north west of Roswell, N.M., in 1947. The debris was identified as that of a radar target.

The conspiracy: On the 8th July 1947, the Roswell Daily Record ran a front page story which read, “RAAF captures flying saucer on ranch in Roswell region”. The US military later retracted their initial statement, saying instead that the debris they’d collected was from a crashed weather balloon rather than a unidentified flying object, but it was too late – one of the most discussed and famous conspiracy theories was born.

Accusations that the American government had recovered a flying saucer – or at least parts of one – grew in the years that followed, and stories began to circulate that living occupants of the craft had been taken to Area 51 (a now infamous military base) in New Mexico. By the 1990s, a range of books, eye-witness accounts, TV documentaries and even purported footage of alien autopsies had all materialised, all appearing to lend weight to the theory that the US government was hiding knowledge of flying saucers and visitors from outer space.

roswell-02_250pxThe movies: Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters Of The Third Kind (1977) remains one of the most lavish and well-made films to deal with the UFO phenomenon, taking in sightings of lights in the sky, abduction by aliens, and also the topic of a conspiracy on the part of the US government. Close Encounters’ conclusion even suggests that America’s scientists have engaged in some kind of foreign exchange program with visiting aliens, as Richard Dreyfuss’ blue-collar hero clambers into a cathedral-like ship for a ride into the unknown.

The 1986 adventure film Flight Of The Navigator may also have taken a hint of inspiration from the Roswell incident and other stories like it, as a young boy takes a ride in a crashed, metallic UFO secretly held by NASA. Vaguely echoing what theorists argue happened in 1943, Flight Of The Navigator’s scientists had whisked the ship from public view and attempted to cover up the craft’s true nature by describing it to the police as an experimental space laboratory.

Interest in the Roswell incident began to rise again in the 1990s, possibly due to the publication of several books which brought forth new claims of downed saucers and conspiracies. One of these would become Roswell, a 1994 TV movie starring Kyle MacLachlan as a US major attempting to uncover the hidden truth about the crash. The quest for uncovering buried truths also provided the basis for The X-Files, Chris Carter’s TV series that received a movie spin-off (itself about aliens and government cover-ups) in 1998.

independence-day_250pxRoland Emmerich’s Independence Day (1996) made explicit use of Roswell lore; amid the destruction of an alien invasion, it’s eventually revealed to Bill Pullman’s President Whitmore that the military really had captured an alien space craft and three occupants in 1947, and that they’d been stored and studied for the past 49 years at Area 51. The repaired space craft then came in handy for the third act, where it was used to plant a computer virus in the invaders’ mother ship – a plot point that’s still derided by some movie geeks 18 years later.

About 12 months before Independence Day came out, a piece of black-and-white footage purportedly shot at Area 51 first appeared on television. Appearing to depict the autopsy of a humanoid creature, the 17-minute film caused an immediate fuss in the media, despite widespread suspicions that it was a hoax.

The chap who first brought the film to the public’s attention, a British entrepreneur named Ray Santilli, later admitted that the footage had been faked, but insisted that it was based on some real film he’d seen a few years earlier – when the film degraded past the point where it was watchable, Santilli said he’d funded a reconstruction of what he’d previously witnessed. The whole curious incident became the basis of the 2006 comedy Alien Autopsy, starring British TV entertainment duo Ant and Dec.

If you want an example of how one single event can inspire a range of stories, look no further than the Roswell incident.

MORE – – –

10 People Who Claimed To Be Time Travelers

vortex 911
By Jackie Fuchs via Listverse

“The distinction between the past, present and future is only an illusion, however persistent.” –Albert Einstein

These days, even respected physicists like Stephen Hawking are being forced to admit that time travel may be possible. But has it already happened? These people say it has.

10 • A Visit To Mars With Barack Obama

163113514-e1387065394814_250pxSeattle attorney Andrew Basiago says that when he was a child, he and William Stillings were “chrononauts” in a secret United States government time travel program called Project Pegasus. The purpose of the program was threefold—to protect Earth from threats from space, to establish territorial sovereignty over Mars, and to acclimate Martian humanoids and animals to our presence.

The best part of Basiago’s and Stillings’ claim, however, is that one of their fellow time travelers was none other than a 19-year-old Barack Obama, who went by the name “Barry Soetero.” In 1980, the three men and seven other youths from their “Mars training class” at California’s College of the Siskiyous (a real institution) traveled to Mars via a top-secret teleportation “jump room” modeled on technical papers found in Nikola Tesla’s apartment after his death. They jumped through a field of radiant energy into a tunnel, and when the tunnel closed, found themselves at their destination.

The White House has officially denied that Obama ever went to Mars.

9 • An American Soldier From The Future

178803217-e1387065965310_250pxIn late 2000, posts began appearing on the Internet from someone claiming to be an American soldier from the year 2036. John Titor, as he called himself, was on his way back to 1975—using a device installed in a 1987 Chevy Suburban, naturally—to obtain an IBM 5100 computer to fight a computer virus destined to destroy the world. Titor hinted at a world beset by conflicts, culminating in a series of Russian nuclear strikes in 2015 that would kill almost three billion people.

Titor’s posts abruptly ceased in 2001, but Titormania continued. In 2003, a bound edition of Titor’s 151 message board posts was released under the title John Titor: A Time Traveler’s Tale. Though no longer in print, one can still buy a new copy for an eye-popping $1,775, or a used one at a more modest $150. The book was published by the John Titor Foundation, a for-profit corporation run by Florida entertainment attorney Lawrence Haber. The Foundation also owns the copyright to the purported insignia of Titor’s military unit, the Fighting Diamondbacks, which is inscribed with a quote from Ovid: tempus edax rerum, meaning “time devours all things.”

Except, it would seem, the myth of John Titor.

8 • Christ’s Personal Photographer

177729044-e1387066193469_250pxFather Pellegrino Ernetti was a Benedictine monk and respected authority on archaic music. He also claimed to have co-invented—as part of a team that included Nobel Prize-winning physicist Enrico Fermi and German rocket scientist Werner von Braun—the “chronovisor,” a device that looked like a television but could tune in to events from the past.

According to Ernetti, he had observed the last supper and Christ’s crucifixion, as well as Napoleon and Cicero. The team had later voluntarily dismantled the device, because in the wrong hands, it could create “the most fearsome dictatorship the world has ever seen.” It had been inspired, he said, by Nostradamus—who had personally related to him the device’s possibilities.

When pressed for evidence, Ernetti produced a picture of Christ on the cross reportedly photographed through the chronovisor. After the photo’s resemblance to a carving by Cullot Valera was noticed, however, Ernetti was forced to admit the photo was a fake. Nevertheless, Ernetti insisted the chronovisor was real.

7 • The Pilot Who Entered A Parallel Dimension

87779040-e1387066436503_250pxIn 1935, a wing commander with Britain’s Royal Air Force named Sir Victor Goddard flew his open-cockpit biplane from Scotland to England on weekend leave. On the way, he passed over Drem Airfield near Edinburgh, which had been constructed during World War I. The tarmac and four hangars were in disrepair and barbed wire divided the field into numerous pastures filled with grazing cattle. Returning home a day later, Goddard ran into a violent storm and lost control of his plane. When he finally recovered from a downward spiral that should have resulted in his death, he was just several feet above a stony beach.

As Goddard climbed back up through the rain and fog, the sky suddenly filled with sunlight. Below him was the Drem Airfield—only the farm had disappeared, and the hangars were no longer decrepit. At the end of the restored tarmac stood four bright yellow planes, one an unfamiliar monoplane. These were surrounded by mechanics in blue overalls, notable to Goddard since RAF mechanics only ever wore brown.

Had Goddard—considered one of the founders of the RAF—simply been confused about his location, as some skeptics suggest? Or had he traveled forward in time? Goddard died in 1987, so we may never know the truth. Unless, of course, he returns from the past to tell us.

6 • The Sole Survivor Of The Philadelphia Experiment

177444045_250pxIn the fall of 1943, the USS Eldridge was allegedly made invisible and teleported from Pennsylvania to Virginia in an incident that came to be known as the Philadelphia Experiment. Of course, the incident never occurred—but that didn’t stop Alfred Bielek from achieving notoriety as Eldridge’s reputed lone survivor. His memories were “buried” until he saw the movie The Philadelphia Experiment in 1988, at which time he “remembered” that he was born in 1916 as Ed Cameron.

As Cameron, he’d been recruited in 1940 for an alleged Navy Project called Project Rainbow, whose purpose was to figure out how to make ships invisible. For reasons not entirely clear, “black ops” soldiers later sent Cameron through a portal at the Pentagon to Alpha Centauri One, where aliens interrogated him and then “physically regressed” him into one-year-old Al Bielek in 1927. Bialek claimed he later became director of mind control for the Montauk Project, whose members in the ‘80s traveled through a time vortex and changed the outcomes of various wars. When they returned to their own time, they would decide if they’d changed things for the better. If not, they would simply restore the status quo.

MORE – – –

%d bloggers like this: