The Naked Scientists go ghost busting!
Now what’s better than a good old ghost hunt to scare yourself silly at this time of year? Well, the bravest of the Naked Scientists team ventured into the dark and eery turrets of Madingley Hall in Cambridge, on our very own ghost hunt. There are a few scary tales surrounding the hall, including many sightings of Lady Ursula Hynde walking up the drive. Izzie Clarke, Georgia Mills and Michael Wheeler teamed up with Brad Mac from The Ghost Hunt UK, to find out what exactly ghost hunters measure, and whether they could find a ghost of our own…
Georgia - We are on the approach to Madingley Hall now. The sun is down, there are crows flying around, and it’s looking very impressive and ever so slightly spooky. So we’re going to see if we find any ghosts. How are my fellow Naked Scientists feeling?
Izzie - Quite excited, but I feel like as soon as I get into a room and there’s a suspicious bump, I’ll be out of there.
Michael - I’m a sceptical scientist, but I keep having to tell myself that I’m a sceptical scientist.
Georgia - Here is our ghost hunter. Hi Brad, nice to meet you.
Brad - We’re getting out the EMF detector. This one will just detect any electromagnetic interferences in the atmosphere. This is a zero so, for instance, if you go near something electronical it should go off. Beep…
Georgia - Oh yep.
Brad - This part here - the top bit of the big antenna - this creates an electromagnetic field in itself. So if anything interrupts that (beep*, anything physical and then that happens quite a lot. It’s quite common for that to happen, which is freaky, especially when you’ve got it out here.
Georgia - So what exactly is it measuring?
Brad - Electromagnetic frequencies, which are what ghosts are meant to be made up of.
Georgia - Oh, right. But also equally any electrical equipment. When I put my recorder next to it it’s going a bit crazy - and also people?
Brad - Let’s have a crack at this later when it gets a bit darker.
Georgia - Then we’ve got your thermal camera, which picks up temperature, obviously.
Brad - This one’s my favourite one. I’ll get the speakers out for full effect… This scans the radiofrequency. You can make it scan through forwards, you can make it scan through backwards, you can make it scan through fast, slow. So spirits are meant to be able to communicate through these frequencies and we can hear that through this little beautiful machine - SP11 spirit box.
Georgia - And equally, if it taps into radio stations nearby we’ll hear that as well?
Brad - Yeah.
Georgia - So the light just turned on.
Izzie - We’re standing here in the dog hole…
Brad - That wasn’t us.
Izzie - And there was a really quite loud crack and then the light flickered.
Georgia - Is it an icebox.
Michael - Yeah.
Georgia - Mystery solved.
Izzie - I said I was a logical person and as soon as I hear one little creak I’m like - it’s a ghost.
Georgia - We’re going now into the turret… oh my gosh. We’re entering a staircase
that is wooden and extremely cold. That in itself isn’t spooky because it’s kind of external.
Brad - Is anybody here? Lady Ursula are you here? So the temperatures dropping. Is that somebody there? If that was somebody manipulating this piece of machinery in my hand?
Brad - Is that a bump. Is that coming from above.
Georgia - Oh was that not you?
Michael - No, no. It’s coming from the inside of the storage room I think.
*footsteps around the room*
Georgia - What!
*footsteps around the room*
Izzie - Oh, I don’t like that.
Brad - Did that just bang?
Izzie - I’m going to say that there’s lots of things going on with the interference. Shouting out - building up tension. You kind of want to believe something was there and that’s why I felt a bit scared.
Brad - Keep the flashlight off.
Georgia - Oh, what. You’re kidding! I’ve been told that to get the full experience I should be in this room, where we’ve had a couple of thumps already, on my own and ask a couple of questions.
Brad - There’s that temperature drop again look.
Georgia - Ohhh. I guess it could be a draft.
Brad - So we’re going to watch for any changes in here.
Georgia - I’m watching for temperature changes and electromagnetic influxes.
Brad - Lady Ursula. It’s dropped right down to two now.
Georgia - Can we leave the door open?
Brad - No.
Georgia - I’m going to lose my mind immediately.
Brad - Once in a lifetime…
Georgia - Yeah, okay. I can do it. I can do it.
So I’m on my own in the room. The door is shut, the lights are off and I’m going to be interviewing a ghost.
If you’re here ghost, could you do something to the EMF reader please. It would make some excellent radio if were to discover ghosts live on air…
Nothing on the EMF reader so far. I’m feeling a little bit cold but it is a room with a chimney in it, and two windows. And the EMF reader is remaining silent.
So, in general, how scared do people tend to get on these things?
Brad - I think it depends on the location. I think if you walk into a location like this, I don’t know about you guys, but for me it felt quite homely. It felt quite warm. I was happy to be here - it’s a beautiful place. Some other places you go to do not feel welcoming at all and feel very, very threatening.
G: That was Brad Mac from GhostHunt UK helping us out there, with the apparently un-haunted Madingley Hall.
Georgia - So what was your verdict? Were you spooked out or are you still sceptical?
Izzie - I was quite spooked at the time. I will put my hands up and say I’m a bit of scaredy cat. But, actually, as the evening went on and we started to pick apart the bumps between us as a team, I wasn’t as scared.
Georgia - I think the most scary moment for me was when that light turned on, but then we realised they were motion activated lights so that made things a little bit more easy to deal with.