Abstract: You could shoot ghosts on a mass spec. Maybe.
Specific: Ghost hunting has yet to consider the realm of laboratory instrumentation for detection and visualization of ghosts. Here I describe the potential application of a ubiquitous piece of equipment in research settings, the mass spectrometer, that can be co-opted for detection of apparitions.
Attempting to prove the existence of ghosts is a key value of modern society. However, even with recent public interest in fictitious science-based investigations of the afterlife, the methodology applied by portrayed researchers is constrained by conventional instrumentation. Therefore, I propose the use of a novel mass spectrometry-based method to detect and quantify the existence of ghosts, herein dubbed mass spectrometry-spectral presence origin-omics kinetic yield (MS SPOOKY). Here I will describe the conditions making MS SPOOKY ideal for ghost detection, as well as comparisons to and improvements over traditional methods of ghost hunting.
The possibility of life after death has been a conundrum facing mankind since the first human died, and even more perplexing is the possibility that the deceased are able to assume a form capable of interacting with the living, commonly referred to as “ghosts”. The nature of ghosts has been long debated, on topics spanning from their general existence to their composition. Historical contributions to the field, most notably Paranormal Activity (2007), tend to propose the use of camera-based methods of ghost detection, though this has proven largely ineffective as the temperament of the ghost may affect its ability to be detected by optical means. Most recently, the work of Ghost Lab (2021) has presented a scientific and empirical approach to validating the existence of ghosts, but the medical doctors therein were once more limited to using optical and thermal methods of ghost detection. Thus, in order to combine the fields of ghost hunting and analytical chemistry, I propose the use of an experimental, newly developed, novel, high throughput, and omics-based mass spectrometry method to demonstrate and quantify the existence of ghosts: mass spectrometry-spectral presence origin-omics kinetic yield (herein referred to as MS-SPOOKY).
Firstly, a commonality in most reports of ghost hunting is the necessity of a place filled with misery and hatred, which is theorized to attract and retain ghosts that share similar feelings. While previous work such as Grave Encounters (2011) and many others utilize abandoned medical facilities, it would be remiss to ignore the fact that many institutions that house mass spectrometers also contain graduate students, who likely harbour similar feelings of misery and hatred as a result of the aforementioned instrument and its relationship to their degree progress. Thus, concerns of the proximity of the instrument to the experimental area can be avoided, though concentrating multiple graduate students in an area may prove to be fruitful in localizing misery, and subsequently, ghosts.
Secondly, the very nature of mass spectrometry analysis makes it ideal for ghost detection. Traditionally, MS instruments are coupled with a preceding chromatographic system, where the experimental sample will be separated on a chromatographic column before MS analysis, thus adding an additional characteristic, retention time. As is commonly shown, ghosts tend to linger around their haunting grounds for relatively long durations, thus resulting in retention times anywhere from a number of years to a number of decades or centuries. Thus, the natural retention of ghosts on this Earth eliminates the need for chromatographic resolution of a spirit, as ghosts may have already been separated on a temporal scale. Thirdly, existing MS inlet setups are compatible with our conceptual understanding of ghost trapping. A Japanese research group has described the effect of vacuum on ghosts in their work Luigi’s Mansion (2001) and successfully demonstrated the ability for ghosts to experience suction upon appearance and be sealed within a container. It therefore stands to reason that a simple vacuum inlet MS system would be capable of suctioning and injecting environmentally present ghosts into the instrument. An additional strength of the MS-SPOOKY method is further demonstrated by the fact that ghosts are capable of being both everywhere and nowhere, as all the ghosts in the immediate vicinity of the instrument would be captured by the vacuum inlet, thus permitting omics-level analysis of the local “ghostome”. However, additional testing would be required to determine if the attachement of a comedically long hose and funnel to the inlet would be feasible for ghost capture in a larger radius.
Finally, MS analysis results in appropriate data output that will be sufficient for definitively demonstrating the existence of ghosts. While aforementioned works have relied heavily on photographic means of summarizing their data, this method drawn its fair share of scientific ire for being easily fabricated. Thus, the logical conclusion for presenting evidence supporting the existence of ghosts would be to encompass the analysed spectres in spectra form.
Ongoing development of the second iteration of MS-SPOOKY involves coupling a downstream fourth material excitation test in the method to determine whether or not resolved ghost fragments are still capable of interacting with the physical world (MS-2SPOOKY-4ME).
About the Authors
E.W. is a Nth year graduate student in the department of Molecular Literature Engineering at the University of California, Hotel. He is already checked out, but can never leave.
E.W. saw a ghost once when he was five and designed all experiments in the paper.
Conflicts of Interest
E.W. has never touched an MS in his life.
E.W. would like to acknowledge the ghost he saw at age five for instilling a life-long fear of the paranormal in him and leading him down this career path.
Notes and references
1 Paranormal Activity (2007)
2 Ghost Lab (2021)
3 Grave Encounters (2011)
4 Luigi’s Mansion (2001)
If you enjoyed this Immaterial Science article please like, share, and subscribe with your email, our twitter handle (@JABDE6), our facebook group here, or the Journal of Immaterial Science Subreddit for weekly content.