On September 16, 1943, the Navy destroyer U.S.S. Eldridge set sail from its commissioning port, the New York Naval Yard, to Bermuda, where the ship underwent training and sea trials.
According to legend, scientists aboard were carrying out experiments to test Einstein's unified field theory, which demonstrates a connection between gravity and electromagnetism, to render objects invisible. Large cables attached to high-power generators engulfed the ship's exterior. Some believe that on October 28, an electrical current sent through these cables rendered the U.S.S. Eldridge invisible and steered the ship through an electromagnetic field capable of warping the space-time continuum. This incident became known as the "Philadelphia Experiment" because the ship supposedly dematerialized and teleported from Philadelphia to Norfolk, Virgina and back to the Philadelphia Naval Yard. The effect on the crew was said to be horrific, causing some to burst into flames, some to become embedded in the ship's metal and some to simply vanish in a fit of madness.
The Navy denies such an experiment ever existed and claims that the ship's war diaries not only place the U.S.S. Eldridge in a convoy of Navy ships to New York on the alleged day, but that the ship was never in Philadelphia during that time frame. They contend the measured electrical current installed around the circumference of the ship's hull is a process known as "degaussing", which makes the ship "invisible" to magnetic mine sensors, but completely visible to the human eye, radar and underwater listening devices. Lastly, the Office of Naval Research states that the use of force fields to render a ship and its crew invisible does not conform to the known laws of physics; and that although Einstein was a part-time consultant with the Navy's Bureau of Ordnance from 1943-1944, no such experiment ever took place. The official statement from the Naval Historical Center also debunks supposed eyewitness accounts of civilian ships in the area.
This story is a mixture of truth and speculation. Fact and fiction.
Conspiracy theorists point to the many experiments our government conducts, many of them secret, in order to find military use for the latest scientific theories. With such a disastrous outcome to an experiment, the Navy would no doubt deny the event ever occurred. The truth is: they were experimenting with invisibility at the time, a way to gain an advantage in a time of war.
After many decades of non-fiction accounts, Hollywood movies and supposed real-life Fox Mulder-type investigations, people's opinions on what really happened come down to the level of trust citizens place in their government--a common thread running through my novels. Are there some things the government should keep quiet? Does their responsibility in protecting the lives of their constituents take precedence over the human quest for truth? Are legends like the Philadelphia Experiment created by those who wish to push their own anti-government agenda or is there something completely believable about our desire to capture science, understand its laws and transcend everything we thought was possible?
What do you think?