The process of Kirlian photography is named after Seymon Kirlian, an amateur inventor and electrician of Krasnodar, Russia, who pioneered the first efforts on the process in the early 1940s. Even thought the process has produced results it still is controversial.
There seems to be no evidence that Kirlian photography is a paranormal phenomenon. Some experimenters think it reveals a physical form of psychic energy. Another theory is that it reveals the etheric body, one of the layers of the aura thought to permeate all animate objects. The understanding of this latter aspect of the process gives rise to the prospects of beneficial benefits of gaining significant insights in medicine, psychology, psychic healing, psi, and dowsing. Critics repudiate the process by saying that it shows nothing more that than electricity being discharged which can be produced under certain conditions.
Experiments in photographing objects in electrical fields, prior to Kirlian, was called "electrography" or "electrographic photography." Little value was seen in the process, so scant attention was given to it. Electrographic photographs were exhibited as early as 1898 by the Russian Yakov Narkevich Yokdo (also given as Todko. Research in the fields was published by a Czech, B. Narvratil, also in the early 1900s. The published evidence of photographs of leaves coronas was presents by two Czechs, S. Pratt and J. Schlemmer, in 1939.
The initial Kirlian experiments were simple. In his first experiment Kirlian just photographed his hand, noting a strange orange glow radiating from the fingertips. His wife Valentina was a biologist, and together they photographed both animate and inanimate objects. Over the years, they refined their equipment and graduated from back and white to colored photography.
The principle of Kirlian photography, as well as all electrography, is the corona discharge phenomenon, that takes place when an electrically grounded object discharges sparks between itself and an electrode generating the electrical field. When these sparks are captured on film they give the appearance of coronas of light. These discharges can be affected by temperature, moisture, pressure, or other environmental factors. Several Kirlian techniques have been developed, but the basic ones generally employ a Tesla coil connected to a metal plate. The process is similar to the one which occurs in nature, when electrical conditions in the atmosphere produce luminescences, auras, such as St. Elmo's fire.
Kirlian's work mainly gained attention in the west during the 1960. Its reception was mixed. However, scientist met on the process at Alma Ata in 1966. Biophysicist Viktor Adamenko theorized that the energy field was the "cold emission of electrons," and the patterns they formed might suggest new information concerning the life processes od animate objects. One finding of Adamenko and other Soviet scientists was that the biological energies of human beings were brightest at 700 points on the body which concurs with Chinese acupuncture.
There is evidence that Kirlan photographs do give indications of the health and emotional changes in living things by changes in the brightness, color, and patterns of light. At the University of California Center for Health Sciences, a plant's leaf showed changes when being approached by a human hand and pricked. Even when part of the leaf was cut off, the glowing portion of the amputated portion still appeared on film.
Other researchers have found that changes in the emotional conditions of humans can be detected by changes in the brightness, color and formation patterns in the photographs. When psychic healers and the psychokinetic metal-bender Uri Geller were photographed flares of light were seen streaming from their fingertips as they performed their respective activities.
Many Kirlain enthusiasts declare that the leaf phenomenon is evidence for the existence of an etheric body. But, critics state the phenomenon completely disproves Kirlin photography. The latter contention is that "If the method truly photographed a biofield, then the aura should disappear when an organism dies. The effect is produced solely by a high-voltage electric field breakdown of air molecules between two condenser plates."
Supporters of Kirlain photography do, however, foresee its applications in diagnostic medicine. It has been used in the detection of cancer with only a sporadic success rate. Some envision that it will eventually be connected to computerized tomography (CT) scanners (advanced versions of axial tomography or CAT scanners, which utilize a thin beam of X-rays to photograph an object from 360 degrees) and magnetic resonance imaging(MRI). This latter method uses no X-rays, but employs magnetic fields to produce images of body cells and water in tissues.
Kirlain photography has been used by the Soviets in sports psychology to access an athlete's metabolic process and fitness.
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