Did the Philadelphia Experiment (Time Travel) Really Happen? In part 1, we noted 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?

The origin of the Philadelphia Experiment urban legend is itself another urban legend. We have one urban legend underpinning another. To quote Winston Churchill, we have “a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.” Again, there are numerous accounts of the origin of the Philadelphia Experiment. We will use the 2002 book by James Moseley and Karl Pflock, Shockingly Close to the Truth!: Confessions of a Grave-Robbing Ufologist, as a reference on the origin of the Philadelphia Experiment urban legend.

According to Moseley and Pflock’s 2002 book, in 1957, the Office of Naval Research (ONR) in Washington, DC, contacted Morris K. Jessup, an astronomer and author of the 1955 book The Case for the UFO. He was asked to study the contents of a parcel that the ONR had received in a manila envelope marked “Happy Easter.” It was a paperback copy of Jessup’s UFO book that had been extensively annotated in its margins. Moseley and Pflock claim that annotations were written with three different shades of pink ink. The annotations detail correspondences among three individuals: “Jemi,” and two others the ONR labeled “Mr. A.” and “Mr. B.” The annotators refer to themselves as “Gypsies,” discuss people living in outer space, and comment on the merits of Jessup’s assumptions in the book. The annotations also contain a reference to the Philadelphia Experiment.

The ONR asked Jessup if he knew anything about the annotations, including knowledge of those involved. Jessup identified “Mr. A” as Carlos Allende. Supposedly, Allende had sent Jessup a letter in 1955 claiming to have served on the SS Andrew Furuseth and claiming to have direct knowledge of the Philadelphia Experiment. Allende claimed he witnessed the Eldridge appear and disappear. When Jessup requested that Allende provide evidence and corroboration, Jessup received another correspondence. This new correspondence came from a man identifying himself as Carl M. Allen. Allen said that he could not provide the evidence and corroboration Jessup sought. However, Allen implied that he might be able to recall some details via hypnosis. This all seemed highly suspicious to Jessup, and he discontinued the correspondence. (Apparently, Jessup’s suspicions were well founded. The ONR determined the return address on Allende’s letter to Jessup was an abandoned farmhouse.)

Now, the story becomes even stranger. According to Moseley and Pflock’s 2002 book, the ONR decided to fund a small printing, about a hundred copies, of the annotated volume, complete with both letters Jessup had received from Allende/Allen. The Texas-based Varo Manufacturing Company did the printing. Supposedly, the ONR gave Jessup three copies and circulated the rest within the navy. For those interested, I found a copy of the Varo edition online at this website: http://obscurantist.com/files/case-for-ufos-annotated.pdf.

Jessup began to write extensively on the topic in an attempt to make a living, but his follow-up book did not sell well, and the publisher rejected his other manuscripts. Jessup became depressed, and his life took a turn for the worse when he was involved in a car accident. This further added to his depression, and Jessup committed suicide on April 20, 1959.

What gives this urban legend legs are three published books. These are not the only books on the Philadelphia Experiment. However, according to historian Mike Dash, numerous authors appear to take their information from one of the three sources below:

  1. Jessup’s 1955 book, The Case for the UFO
  2. Moseley and Pflock’s 2002 book, Shockingly Close to the Truth!: Confessions of a Grave-Robbing Ufologist
  3. The ONR’s Varo edition of Jessup’s book, complete with annotations and letters Jessup had received from Allende/Allen

However, is any of it true? Do the facts support any portion of the Philadelphia Experiment?

In 1980, Robert Goerman wrote in Fate magazine that Carlos Allende/Carl Allen was Carl Meredith Allen of New Kensington, Pennsylvania. Carl Meredith Allen had a history of psychiatric illness. Goerman speculates that Allen may have fabricated the Philadelphia Experiment as a result of his mental illness. Later Goerman characterized Allen as “a creative and imaginative loner…sending bizarre writings and claims.”

Berlitz and Moore’s book The Philadelphia Experiment: Project Invisibility, published in 1979, claims to include factual information, such as an interview with a scientist involved in the experiment. This book is considered a definitive source for information on the Philadelphia Experiment. However, some critics accuse Berlitz and Moore of plagiarizing story elements from the novel Thin Air, by George E. Simpson and Neal R. Burger, which was published a year earlier. However, this criticism may not be fair. Earlier works on the subject likely inspired Thin Air, including Berlitz’s chapter on the experiment in his 1977 book, Without a Trace: New Information from the Triangle. This suggests the criticism of plagiarism is unwarranted. Berlitz and Moore’s book may be the real deal.

Now, let us discuss the science and other facts surrounding the Philadelphia Experiment. From the standpoint of science, light bends, in accordance with Einstein’s general theory of relativity, when it is near the surface of an extremely massive object, such as a sun or a black hole. No known or published scientific apparatus exists that enables us to bend light around an object the size of a navy ship. Could the navy have secretly developed such an apparatus by 1943? I do not think it is likely, but I will not rule it out altogether. The science claimed to be used in the Philadelphia Experiment was unified field theory. Factually, even today, there is no accepted unified field theory, but it is an area of ongoing research. Einstein was working on unified field theory, attempting to unify electromagnetism with general relativity, his theory of gravity. Some accounts of the Philadelphia Experiment suggest that Einstein was successful, but chose not to publish it.

The USS Eldridge was commissioned on August 27, 1943. This is one month after the first experiment was reported to occur. According to official records, it remained in port in New York City until September 1943. Also according to official records, the Eldridge was on its first shakedown cruise in the Bahamas during the time the October experiment was reported to occur. Proponents of the Philadelphia Experiment argue that the ship’s logs have been falsified and the real logs are classified.

In 1996, the Office of Naval Research (ONR) stated, “ONR has never conducted investigations on radar invisibility, either in 1943 or at any other time.” In addition, they pointed out that the ONR was not established until 1946, three years after the Philadelphia Experiment. The implication is the ONR did not exist or conduct the Philadelphia Experiment. Further, the ONR denounced the Philadelphia Experiment as “science fiction.” This appears to be corroborated by the navy veterans who served aboard the USS Eldridge. During a 1999 reunion, the Eldridge veterans told a Philadelphia newspaper that their ship had never made port in Philadelphia.

Some critics debunk the Philadelphia Experiment by arguing it was just a case of misinterpretation. They argue the Eldridge was “degaussed” (the process of making a steel ship’s hull nonmagnetic) while in port, and this procedure started the urban legend. It is a fact that the Eldridge was degaussed. This was a common procedure to render a ship undetectable to magnetically fused undersea mines and torpedoes. It required the generation of a strong electromagnetic field onboard the ship. Charles F. Goodeve invented this procedure when he was a commander in the Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve. The Royal Navy and United States Navy used it widely during World War II.

Is the Philadelphia Experiment fact or fiction? Is it possible the United States Navy has been able to orchestrate a consistent set of lies over a period of what is now about seventy years? You will have to be the judge. I have provided the story points proponents and opponents of the Philadelphia Experiment cite. Which side do you favor? Regardless of which way you lean, one thing is certain. The accounts of the Philadelphia Experiment are intriguing, and they are still making the rounds over seventy years since the alleged first experiment. It is, in my opinion, representative of the category of urban legends related to time travel.

The entire case study of the Philadelphia Experiment is also in my new book, How to Time Travel, available on Amazon.com in both a paperback and Kindle version http://amzn.to/1922in4.