Minimum effort to contact the living?

Mrs. R and I were talking over the recent (tragic, fast, and premature) death of a colleague of hers. The colleague’s wife had had the smoke alarm go off and thought it was a message from her late husband because (paraphrasing) “it went off during the time his body would be on the plane going back to the east coast”. Apparently the spirit of the husband arranged for some ionized particles to enter the smoke detector and set it off. Pretty odd way for him to send her a message, I thought, and easily subject to misinterpretation.

Mrs R quoted another story in which a human-shaped fogged area appeared in a digital photo, and the photographer believed that it was an image of the departed one. So that spirit apparently marshalled up some photons and herded them toward the camera lens.

So Mrs R and I got to thinking. Setting off a smoke alarm seems like a pretty ambiguous way of communicating with the living–but maybe it’s really easy to do. An Ouija board is unambiguous, but the departed would have to expend a lot of effort to move that little pointer around. So I postulate a sort of a tradeoff between energy requirements and clarity of the message from Beyond.

So here’s the question, and it’s twofold: What’s the easiest way that a departed spirit could send an unambiguous message back to the land of the living? And what constitutes an unambiguous message?

I would expend just enough effort to cut their brakes right before they took a drive. After that, we could have extended conversations face to face.

But that would entail severing at least two steel brake lines. Unambiguous, perhaps, but involving quite some effort. :slight_smile:

If life after death exists I don’t know how they communicate, or what they would use as energy to communicate, or what methods are most ambiguous vs least ambiguous.

Methods people have said the dead have communicated with them:
Ouija boards
Unnatural phenomena (the smoke alarm story; strange electronic, temperature or animal behavior)

Of those, no idea. If it was easy, and life after death exists, then most people would have stories of non-ambiguous communication from beyond the grave. Seeing how traumatic death is, I’m sure most people would love to send a non-ambiguous message to spare their loved ones from suffering.

Didn’t Houdini give his wife a secret code, and tell her if anyone communicated it to her it would prove he survived?

When I visited Mom’s grave in the past two years, I’d have the Gospel station on. A particular song would play about 2/3 of the time about meeting loved ones in Heaven with Jesus. THIS was not a song in heavy rotation. The last time -on the anniversary of her death- that song did not play. What did play was “I Wanna Know”. That will be of signficance to anyone who are fans, as we are, of Dr. Gene Scott.

So I am counting that. And this…

That night in the restaurant where a bunch of friends were having a memorial dinner to Mom, the TV was on Turner Classic movies. A grainy B&W film showed a lady with a big floppy floral hat. A friend looked up & said “There’s your Mom!” My goodness if she didn’t look like her!

Unambiguous to who? Or to how many?

Surely it wouldn’t take much energy to tickle a few brain neurons so someone would hear a voice in their head. Which would be unambiguous to the person who heard it, but still not believed by anyone including the person who heard it.

I suggest a computer keyboard made from smoke alarm sensors.

Actually it quite likely would be. If a ghost really could do something like that there’d be many of them that could provide evidence that they really are the dead person in question; something like “the password to my private files is Xanatos”. And once that happens enough times then such communications will likely be taken at face value as genuine ghost communications; hearing voices from ghosts won’t be any more unbelievable than hearing voices over a telephone.

I suggest a ghost-phone, made of smoke detectors.

How much energy would it take to send recognizable Morse Code, on a Geiger counter?

Yes. The problem was, it was the same secret code they used in their stage act. Someone came along who knew that code, and hornswoggled Houdini’s widow. Here is an account.

(The author, Massimo Polidoro, is well known in the skeptical community, and so true believers might possibly be disposed to reject his account.)

So are you saying that dying imparts advanced knowledge of neuroscience to teh departed spirit? :dubious:

…hijacking this line of thought, Guinness claims the record for light sensitivity of the human eye is five photons, visible as a flash of light.

So, I guess if the ghost could either muster up five photons at a time, or kick a retinal rod cell with the equivalent force—actually, I don’t know how much physical pressure is required to trigger a rod cell to fire. Someone correct me, please.—you could send out some form of “.-. — … .- -… . .-… .-… . -… . .-… … . …- .”

Somehow my father managed to get one piece of junk mail delivered to my house after he has been gone for twenty years. It came addressed to “Yuri (our real last name)” which was doubly interesting as my father had gone by “George” since he started high school.

How much energy does it take to send a message to Twitter?

I think the human eye can detect a single photon under the right conditions. I can’t remember where to find a cite, though. (Whether it is one or five, it is certainly going to be a lot less energy than it would take to cause the cell to fire via mechanical pressure.)

The easiest way would be through the SDMB via a zombie thread.

If that is the case we have had a large number of ghost noobs showing up on the site recently.

What kind of asshole ghost sets off a smoke detector as a message?

“Honey, my last goodbye is this ear-splitting noise that you hate. I was going to cause a tire blowout or clog all the toilets, but this is the best I could do.”