Did the Philadelphia Experiment (Time Travel) Really Happen?

The Philadelphia Experiment is one of the most popular urban legends regarding time travel. For this reason, I have compiled a complete case study of it and included it my new book, How to Time Travel. In my judgment, it is a good representation of the urban legend category. Word of mouth, books, the Internet, motion pictures, and documentaries have popularized it, and it is still making the rounds alive and well today.

The Philadelphia Experiment, also known as Project Rainbow, allegedly had the objective of “cloaking” (i.e., rendering invisible) the United States Navy destroyer escort Eldridge, shown in a 1943-era photograph with this article.

Purportedly, in the process of cloaking the Eldridge, strange phenomena occurred, including time travel. The experiment supposedly took place at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, on or around October 28, 1943.

Like many urban legends, there are numerous accounts of the Philadelphia Experiment. What follows are key story points common to most accounts. Allegedly, the experiment had full navy backing and was based on unified field theory (a term coined by Albert Einstein), which seeks to unite the fields of electromagnetism (in this case, light) and gravity into a single field. The theory was to bend light around the ship using large electrical generators, consequently bending spacetime and rendering the ship an invisible time machine.

There are no reliable attributable accounts, but supposedly, the Eldridge was fitted with the electrical generators in the summer of 1943 by “researchers,” whose identity remains unknown. After being properly equipped, testing began, reportedly with some success. Here are the salient test accounts:

  • July 22, 1943—The Eldridge was rendered invisible, some witnesses reporting a “greenish fog” in its place.
  • October 28, 1943—The Eldridge vanished in a flash of blue light and teleported to Norfolk, Virginia, about two hundred miles away. The Eldridge sat in full view of men aboard the SS Andrew Furuseth, a nearby merchant ship, for an unspecified period of time, whereupon the Eldridge vanished and reappeared at the original Philadelphia site, traveling approximately ten seconds (in some accounts longer) back in time.

According to many accounts, the experiments caused the crew to experience serious side effects. A number of accounts claim some members of the crew were fused physically to the metal structures of the ship, the atoms of their bodies intermixed with the atoms of the ship. For example, one sailor supposedly had his hand embedded in the steel hull of the ship one level below where he was originally standing. Others crew members were said to suffer nausea and mental disorders, and even to vanish completely. To make the story complete, the navy is said to have “brainwashed” any Eldridge survivors to prevent them from revealing the incidents.

The Philadelphia Experiment is as good as urban legends get, supposedly incorporating the science of Einstein, a government secret experiment, unexplainable phenomena, and brainwashed survivors. It is only natural to ask: How did the Philadelphia Experiment urban legend get started?

Stay tuned for part 2. The entire case study is also in my new book, How to Time Travel, available on Amazon.com in both paperback and Kindle version http://amzn.to/1922in4.

Image: United States Navy destroyer escort Eldridge