Thursday, 23 July 2009

Auras are real

Hurrah! Auras are real (I knew that of course, but it's nice to see science catching up with magic). Humans glow in visible light.
The human body literally glows, emitting a visible light in extremely small quantities at levels that rise and fall with the day, scientists now reveal. In fact, virtually all living creatures emit very weak light, which is thought to be a byproduct of biochemical reactions involving free radicals. The researchers found the body glow rose and fell over the day, with its lowest point at 10 a.m. and its peak at 4 p.m., dropping gradually after that. These findings suggest there is light emission linked to our body clocks, most likely due to how our metabolic rhythms fluctuate over the course of the day.
(via Geekologie)

I can't see auras but I can feel them as heat.


Robin Edgar said...

Well pretty much anyone can feel body heat Yvonne. . . I too occasionally feel heat that seems emanating from people some distance away from me but I do not attribute this perception of heat to auras.

Yewtree said...

Do you mean metaphorical or physical heat?

I don't attribute body heat to auras, I attribute auras to body heat and/or electromagnetism.

Whatever the aura may turn out to be, I don't regard it as supernatural, just a natural phenomenon that's too subtle to measure. That's why this light emission thing seems like a good candidate to be the elusive "aura".

Robin Edgar said...

What feels like real heat, or at least warmth. It doesn't happen very often but I occasionally sense heat/warmth that seems to be emanating from another person within a ten foot radius from me. Since they seem too far away to feel their actual body heat I do sometimes wonder if this perceived heat or warmth is not some kind of psychic phenomena. As far as auras go, as described here, it seems unlikely that one would feel any heat from them when the light energy is so minimal.

Yewtree said...

Well maybe the light is a by-product of the heat?

Jaume de Marcos Andreu said...

Please don't mix superstition with science. This refers to a natural phenomenon shared by all living beings and not a mystical halo shining around some holy heads.

Yewtree said...

Jaume, you misunderstand what an aura is. All living beings are said to have auras, it's not something reserved for special people.

Also, whatever is perceived by people who "see" or "feel" auras, surely there's got to be a natural explanation?

Robin Edgar said...

Jaume has it ever occurred to you that the natural and what we call the supernatural are intertwined aka interconnected as in "the interconnected web of *all* "existence"? Yvonne was not talking about a mystical halo shining around some holy heads in any case. For the record, the mother of all mystical halos, including those depicted surrounding the heads of saints, was displayed for thousands of people to see yesterday.

Yewtree said...

Exactly, Robin. Personally I don't find supernatural a very useful category, because it causes confusion, but I do think "spiritual" phenomena are emergent properties of the physical world, and therefore intertwined with it in the manner you describe.

That's an interesting thought, I wonder if the corona of an eclipse was responsible for the idea of the halo?

From Wikipedia entry on auras: "In parapsychology and many forms of spiritual practice, an aura is a field of subtle, luminous radiation supposedly surrounding a person or object (like the halo or aureola of religious art) that some people are claimed to be capable of observing by means of their third eye."

Everyone is said to have an aura, and though I suppose particularly enlightened people might have a stronger one, it would be difficult to come up with any scientific basis for why that would be the case.

Also, Jaume, don't fall into the trap of classifying the whole of spirituality and religion as "superstition". Superstition is excessive fear of "supernatural" phenomena; religion (or at least liberal religion) is, or should be, about finding meaning and being nice to people for a change.

Robin Edgar said...

:That's an interesting thought, I wonder if the corona of an eclipse was responsible for the idea of the halo?

It was certainly responsible for the spiky solar "halos" depicted around the heads of various ancient sun gods Yvonne. There is an interesting depiction of St. Francis Sales that shows him with that kind of spiky halo and in the background is a total solar eclipse with the same kind of spiky halo depicting the sun's corona. I couldn't find a copy of it online otherwise I would link to it.

:but I do think "spiritual" phenomena are emergent properties of the physical world,

When one realizes that the physical world is composed mostly of energy, one might just as easily say that the the physical world is an emergent property of "spiritual" aka ephemeral phenomena. . . To me the "spiritual" phenomena of synchronicity is one of the most obvious examples of the interconnection of the physical/natural world and the spiritual/supernatural world. There is a clear "overlap" and both are part of *all* existence.

Enrique said...

I do want to urge you look read the article one more time. I teach college physics, so I spend an entire lecture teaching the difference between these kinds of emissions. 1) You can't see heat. Heat is the transfer of thermal energy. 2) Objects that are hot will emit light, because of collisions between molecules release light. People emit in the IR (which is invisible to our eyes) and not in the visible because we are too cold (unlike a hot filament of an incandescent bulb). 3) The light that the article talks about is not emitted from the thermal collision of molecules, but fluorescence, which is due from the excitation of a single molecule (just like fluorescent light bulbs).
Finally, please contact me if you have scientific explanation for a metaphysical aura, and a way of measuring them in a lab in a consistent fashion. We'll split the Noble Prize money 50-50.

Robin Edgar said...

Thanks for the scientific info Enrique. I am not sure that Yvonne was talking about metaphysical auras. It seems clear that she is talking about a physical aura for the most part although her final sentence may refer to some kind of metaphysical aura.

Yewtree said...

Enrique - when people talk about "seeing" auras, I assume they mean that they sense them on some level, and this is translated in their brain into a visual concept. I don't know because I don't see them.

I know that bodies emit light in the infrared as I have been to my local science centre and played with the infrared camera.

I think "metaphysical" is a pretty meaningless term - sounds like just another way of saying "supernatural". So, as Robin says, I am not talking about metaphysical auras.

Robin - I didn't know about that picture, it sounds interesting.

I take your point about "spiritual" vs "physical" and which came first; it's difficult to say. Trouble is, we live in a post-Descartes worldview where mind and matter are no longer described as one. The Buddhists don't make any distinction.