Friday, June 29, 2007

A chemist and a ghost

Is this a chemist?

No, this is Florence Cook (1856-1904), a British medium who held seances in the 1870's. She was able to evoke a spirit. With Florence's gift the spirit was able to materialize. This spirit was made of a mysterious substance ectoplasm. The name of this spirit was Katie King. The biggest advantage of a materialized spirit is the fact that you are able to take pictures of it.

During a show she would disappear behind a curtain where she would make weird sounds. After a while the materialized spirit (who strangely enough looked just like Florence) would enter the room from behind the same curtain.
You may think:'So What? Why this nonsense? Was this Katie King ghost a chemist?'.

No, but there is this picture of Katie King. The spirit has her hands on the shoulder of this man.
The chemist and physicist Sir William Crookes (1832-1919) with impressive moustache and nice beard.

Crookes studied under the legendary August Wilhelm von Hofmann, he did extensive research on spectroscopy and cathode rays and discovered the element Thallium. He was president of the Royal Society. He was knighted in 1897 because of his scientific achievements. So Crookes was far from a second-class scientist.

Crookes investigated several mediums. His collaboration with Cook is the most famous. He attended many seances and made pictures of the Katie King spirit. His believe in such pseudoscience received a lot of criticism from the scientific community.

In order to prove that Florence Cook and Katie King were two different beings he wanted to make a picture that shows both of them. Ohh... the face of the spirit is covered with a blanket, that's a bummer.

Crookes appears in many theosophic writings as well, including Occult Chemistry: Investigations by Clairvoyant Magnification into the Structure of the Atoms of the Periodic Table and Some Compounds.

In this book there is a periodic system with the title : Periodic Law (after Crookes).

Adyarium and Occultum are there as elements and new series of elements, closely related to the rare gasses. They were called meta-element (meta-neon, meta-argon). When Francis Aston discovered isotopes he used Crookes' terminology and called 22Ne meta-neon.

There are still people who believe that Besant et al discovered isotopes because they described 22Ne. A lot of things they wrote about the meta-elements is not consistent with what we now know about isotopes.

Crookes, like others, believed in an elementary unit of matter, called protyle. Leadbeater and Besant studied this as well with their astral vision. Now there are people who say that they discovered quarks.


Jordan said...

Belief in the occult, paranormal, and mysticism was surprisingly popular in the Victorian era, even among highly educated people. One of the somewhat forgotten things about 19th-century England.

Anonymous said...