Philadelphia Experiment

The "Philadelphia Experiment" is the name that has commonly been given to an alleged Top-Secret experiment conducted by the United States Navy in 1943 in which the Destroyer Escort U.S.S. Eldridge, outfitted with several tons of specialized electronics equipment capable of creating a tremendous pulsating magnetic field around itself, was first made invisible and then transported, in a matter of moments, from the Philadelphia Navy Yard, to the Norfolk Docks and back again, a total distance of over 400 miles (640 kilometers). While the experiment succeeded in causing the Eldridge to become invisible, a number of the crew burst into flames in spontaneous human combustion, and several others later lapsed into invisibility in front of their families— and, in one case, before the patrons of a crowded bar. Over half the officers and crew members had to be committed to psychiatric wards for the rest of their lives as a result of the fantastic experiment.

The United States government for the last 43 years has officially denied that this experiment ever took place. In any case, the story begins with Morris Ketchum Jessup, an astronomy and mathematics Professor at the University of Michigan. Morris Ketchum Jessup was born in Rockville, Indiana, March 20, 1900 and named after his uncle, a railroad and financial baron (who also had a Cape in the northernmost tip of Greenland named after him). In the late 1920s while a Doctorate student at the University of Michigan, the young Jessup's research was responsible for the discovery of many physical double stars now catalogued by the Royal Astronomical Society of London. While the country was in the firm grip of the Depression and jobs were hard to find, Jessup, like so many other highly technical people, took work wherever he could.

USS Eldridge

When the flying-saucer craze ran rampant in the late 1940s and early 1950s, Jessup became interested, first casually, and then quite seriously. His major focus was the possible propulsion power for these sky ships. From what he had learned in Central America, Mexico, and Peru, Jessup was convinced that UFOs were a real possibility, and he had enough foundation to prove it. Jessup moved to Washington, D.C. and devoted the next year to extensive research. 

Jessup speculated that anti-gravity, or the manipulation of electromagnetism, might be responsible for the observed flight behavior of UFOs. He lamented, both in the book and during the publicity tour that followed, that space flight research was concentrated in the area of rocketry, and that little attention had been paid to other theoretical means of flight, which he felt might ultimately be more fruitful. Jessup emphasized that a breakthrough revision of Albert Einstein's "Unified Field Theory" would be critical in powering a future generation of spacecraft.

On January 13, 1955, he gave his publisher the completed manuscript of his book, The Case for the UFO. The book sold well enough such that in the fall of 1955 Bantam issued a paperback edition. Shortly after this book was published, Jessup received a most unusual letter. It was written in several different colors of ink and the spelling and punctuation were most odd. The subject of the letter, however, was even stranger than its grammatical oddities. The correspondent, a Mr. Allende (who signed his letters "Carl Allen") was markedly interested in Jessups' ideas about levitation and went to great lengths to agree with Jessups' theory-—that many of our megaliths were built using the technique of levitation.

Philadelphia Experiment

In the letter, Allende informed Jessup of the "Philadelphia Experiment," alluding to two poorly sourced contemporary newspaper articles as proof. Allende directly responded to Jessup's call for research on the "Unified Field Theory," which he referred to as "UFT." According to Allende, Einstein had developed the theory, but had suppressed it, since mankind was not ready for it—a confession that the scientist allegedly shared with the mathematician and philosopher Bertrand Russell. Allende also said that he had witnessed the Eldridge appear and disappear while serving aboard the SS Andrew Furuseth, a nearby merchant ship. Allende named other crew members with whom he served aboard the Andrew Furuseth, and claimed to know the fate of some of the crew members of the Eldridge after the experiment, including one whom he witnessed disappearing during a chaotic fight in a bar. Although Allende claimed to have observed the experiment while on the Andrew Furuseth, he provided no substantiation of his other claims linking the experiment with the Unified Field Theory, no evidence of Einstein's alleged theory, and no proof of Einstein's alleged private confession to Russell.

Jessup was so fascinated by the style of the letter and the agreement with his own theory that he wrote back to Allende asking for more details. These events concurred with several other pressing matters. At this time Jessup was doing the publicity and lecture circuit and was also preparing his second book, The UFO and the Bible. He soon forgot about the mysterious letter. 

In late July or early August a copy of The Case for the UFO arrived at the Office of Naval Research (O.N.R.). However, this was not an ordinary copy. It had been sent to Admiral N. Furth in a manila envelope and across the front of it had been scribbled "Happy Easter". The book itself was well worn and contained handwritten comments at the top, bottom and margins of the pages. The comments were written in three different colors of ink as if the book had been passed back and forth between three people. The comments suggested a knowledge of UFOs, their method of propulsion, and the origin and background of the beings operating them. The book at that time fell into the possession of Major Darrell L. Ritter (U.S.M.C. Aeronautical Project Officer at O.N.R.) who took a great interest in these comments. It was obvious that a great deal of time and effort had been put into this book. Major Ritter was also aware of the government's momentary interest in anti-gravity research, and felt that the comments about undersea cities built by two groups of extra-terrestrials (called the LMs and SMs) were quite intriguing.

There were explanations for mysterious ship and plane disappearances in the Bermuda Triangle. Also included was an extensive commentary on the origins of odd storms and clouds, of objects falling from the sky, of strange marks and footprints that Jessup had written about, and many odd words (such as: "mothership", "home ship", "dead ship", "great ark", "great bombardment", "great return", "great war", "little men", "force fields", "deep freeze", "measure markers", "scout ships", "magnetic fields", "gravity fields", "sheets of diamonds", "cosmic rays", "force cutters", "inlay work", "clear talk", "telepathing", "nodes", "vortices", and "magnetic net") that were used throughout the book and which might be of some value for later research. Afterwards, Major Ritter passed the book on to two other O.N.R. officers, Commander George W. Hoover (Special Projects Officer) and Captain Sidney Sherby. These men were intimately involved in the Navy's Project Vanguard, the code name for the U.S. effort to develop the first artificial earth satellite.

Commander Hoover and Captain Sherby, reviewing the book, and the mysterious comments within it, invited Jessup to come to O.N.R. and discuss his book. By this time it was the spring of 1957 and 18 months had passed since the book had first arrived at the O.N.R. As Jessup read the annotated book he reportedly became more and more distressed, because the comments referred to subjects he had heard about but which had not been mentioned in his writings.

The person or persons who had written these comments had a good understanding of the current "myths" of UFOs, extraterrestrials, and other subjects mainly the concern of psychics, cultists and mystics. Jessup became confused as to why the United States government was so interested in the scribblings from such an apparently cluttered mind. As he read further he came across a comment concerning a secret Navy experiment in 1943 and immediately he knew who had been responsible for the crazed and disjointed comments. Jessup then shared his discovery with the Naval Officers and they in turn asked if the O.N.R. could have the letters. Next they informed Jessup that a special edition of his book was being produced by them and it would include all the additions. Jessup consented to the new edition and made three additional trips to the O.N.R. concerning this matter.

Shortly after these meetings Jessup was involved in a car accident. At the same time he began experiencing marital difficulties; close friends say he was never quite the same after that. He seemed quite disturbed by the Navy experience and after receiving the promised copies of his own book he spent considerable time adding his own comments. Hoover and Shelby would, in the days to come, make many attempts to find the elusive Allende (Carl Allen) but with no success. Jessup was still confused as to why the Navy was so interested in this matter, and spent considerable time researching the details of the operation known as the "Philadelphia Experiment".

In the meantime all his efforts to get back to Mexico had come up blank, and he now devoted himself to writing and publishing. He moved back to his native Indiana and started publishing a small astrological journal. During October of 1958, Jessup left Indiana for New York on publishing business and around the 31st paid a visit to a friend, Ivan T. Sanderson, founder of the Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained (S.I.T.U.). Over dinner Jessup gave Sanderson the copy of the book he had been making notes in; Jessup, being visibly disturbed, asked Sanderson in great sincerity to read it and then lock it up for safe keeping—"In case anything should happen to me." Jessup was scheduled to return to Indiana within a few days. When he failed to return, his publisher became concerned and contacted one of Jessups' associates concerning his whereabouts. His associate related that he had no information.

Six weeks after his New York departure Jessup, was located in Florida; apparently, he had gone there from New York and had been involved in another major car accident from which he was still recovering. Jessup, during those next months, was in terrible spirits. His publisher rejected his manuscripts as being "not up to par." His writings were drawing considerable criticism from all around the country. On April 20, 1959, two years after meeting with the O.N.R., Jessup was found dead in his car close to his Florida home: a victim of carbon-monoxide poisoning. A hose had been attached to his car exhaust and passed into the passenger side window. Jessup had killed himself. Or had he? Jessup's death has been the subject of substantial speculation. Some of his friends have said that Jessup was not the type to kill himself.

Others have suggested he was murdered when he refused to abandon his UFO research. Rumors were then circulating about the "Men In Black", the name given to government agents who allegedly visited several UFO researchers and "persuaded" them to cease and desist their work. Other friends said that Jessup was depressed about personal problems and that he had sent a suicide note to a close friend. However, the handwriting was not checked to see if it matched with Jessup's.

The truth about Morris K. Jessup will probably never be known, placing him in that same file cabinet along with Karen Silkwood, John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, and other humans regarding whom certain factions in our society would have an easier time of things if they were invisible or dead. But there really was a destroyer named the Eldridge, and it remained on active duty until 1946. After it had been removed from military service, it was mothballed until it was transferred to the Greek Navy.

Many UFO researchers maintain that some kind of secret experiment took place with a Navy warship in 1943, thus planting the seed for the legend of the Philadelphia Experiment. Most speculate that it was probably an experiment in attempting to make ships invisible to enemy submarines and that it very well could have involved incredibly high voltages of electricity—which could have burned and scorched seamen and even delivered a kind of shock that drove some of the crewmen insane.
Other researchers have insisted that a government conspiracy is at work and that the secret experiment ripped a hole in the spacetime continuum that permitted alien intelligences to begin their invasion of the planet.

Numerous UFO investigators have searched without success for that tantalizing proof of the Philadelphia Experiment in invisibility which Allende claimed could be found in the Philadelphia newspapers. Did the Navy really make a Destroyer-class ship disappear and transport itself over four hundred miles of ocean in a matter of moments, or is this just some fantastic story? And if this is not just a story, why did they do it? We know by the results why the Navy might have wanted to keep things quiet. Governmental cover-ups are not new; they seem to come with the institution. The answers to the many puzzles of the Philadelphia Experiment will some day be known. Or perhaps they are already known by a few.

Sources & Pic Sources:
The Gale Encyclopedia of the Unusual and Unexplained Volume 3 by Brad Steiger & Sherry Hansen Steiger;

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