The Kirlian Effect.


I recently became involved in a discussion about Photographing human aura using the Kirlian effect.  Knowing nothing about the effect or the claims made on it, I decided to have a look at the subject and come to my own conclusions. 


The Effect.

It is named after Semyon Kirlian, who in 1939 accidentally discovered that if an object on a photographic plate is connected to a source of high voltage, small corona discharges (created by the strong electric field at the edges of the object) create an image on the plate. (Wikipedia).


Violet Ray machines.

During the early 1900's Violet Ray machines were introduced to treat minor skin problems. They basically consisted of a trembler type inductive high voltage generator capable of producing several thousand volts and an application electrode assembly. The latter was simply a partially evacuated glass bulb containing an electrode. An electrical lead lead back to one of the high voltage generator terminals. The other terminal was connected to the patient. When the glass bulb was placed in close contact with the skin, any remaining gas in the glass envelope ionised causing a violet glow, that appeared to to have been applied to the patients skin. The theory was that ozone was anti-bacterial. A spark gap was incorporated in many of the machines to make the length of the discharge controllable. They were typically set up to give a spark length of between one quarter and one half of an inch, with the electrode assembly touching the skin. To prevent skin burns the voltage was never allowed to become high enough to cause a spark between the glass envelope and the skin. 

Unfortunately the quacks of the time jumped on the Violet Ray machine as a cure for every known medical problem in the world !.  Machines became more complicated, without becoming more effective. It was rather like the modern phenomena where knob count is proportional to the price tag.  So a typical 'cure all' machine came with many specially shaped glass application heads .... to fit any part of the male or female body !.  


Condenser Electrodes.

When using the Violet Ray applicator it was possible to place a finger on the glass bulb and see a blue glow under the finger print or in other words the Kirlian Effect.  It was not the best way to observe the effect because the glass walls tended to distort the view and the internal electrode also blocked the view. The answer to the problem was the Condenser Electrode. Probably the easiest way of describing one is to actually make one !.  The one we will make is the ECT, which stands for Electrode, Condenser, Transparent. The word Condenser has now been replaced with the word capacitor, which better describes it's function. 

We will make an ECT that will allow us to observe and photograph finger print discharges.  So we need two glass or plastic sheets about postcard size. We are then going to seal these together with a gap of about 5mm or less. The end result will look like a mini double glazing module. Silicone mastic is ideal for sealing. Next we need to make two small holes through the sealant and into the gap between the sheets. Into one hole we seal a metal electrode, leaving an external connection point. Into the other hole we inject water, until all air is evacuated. Then we seal the filler hole. You now have one ECT !. The important points to note are .....

a.    The two plates are transparent.

b.   The water, which forms an electrode is also transparent.

c.    The metal electrode makes an electrical connection to the water.

d.    There is no direct electrical circuit between the water and the surface of either plate.


Using the ECT.

In order to demonstrate the Kirlian effect all we need is a pulsed High Voltage power supply and a volunteer. We connect one terminal of the High Voltage generator to the ECT electrode terminal and the other to the subject.  We then ask the subject to place his finger tips to the upper plate of the ECT.  In subdued lighting it will be seen that a faint blue glow surrounds the finger tips on the upper plate. By placing a camera the other side of the transparent ECT we can photograph this effect. It is as simple as that !. 


Kirlian Camera's.

In the early days , the blue glow was recorded directly onto emulsion film, which was then processed. A later development was the use of Polaroid film, which could be instantly processed. Now we have the electronic digital camera, which can do even more .......  because it can even recorded a series of images as a video.  If a normal camera can record the effect then what is the "Kirlian Camera" ?.  To answer that question we need to understand what we actually see when we observe the Kirlian Effect.


The Kirlian Effect re-visited.

I believe that the Kirlian effect is simply is simply a corona discharge and that the colour of that discharge depends upon the gasses in the atmosphere, in which the discharge takes place !.  I think any image that shows multi-coloured aura images has been faked. So to go back to the question concerning the 'Kirlian Camera' I have to say that from a scientific point of view .... it never existed and that any multi coloured image from one has been faked. The simple way to test this is to have two photographs taken of the same subject. They should of course produce the same image. A second test is to take a photograph of a subject against a background .... then remove the subject and take a second photograph of the same background. The subject has gone, so there should be no 'aura' or at least the colours should not have changed. If anyone knows of any equipment that they would be prepared to demonstrate to me, that proves otherwise .... I would be interested to know about it !. 



The most interesting fact that came out of this is that one is supposed to be able to see corona discharge around Van de Graph machines ... in the dark.  Now I have built maybe a dozen or so Van de Graph generators .... but never operated one with the lights off !.  Just goes to show what insulated lives we lead !.


John Kent, who had to eat a mouse fried in margarine, in a National Dried Milk tin lid ..... because the bloody Gypsies told my mother it cured Whooping Cough !.