The subject of the so-called
"Philadelphia Experiment" originally created
quite a stir in the late 70s. At a time when the Bermuda
Triangle, cattle mutilation, and Pyramid Power were
attracting much attention, the Philadelphia Experiment
carved out its own niche in the weird science field.
At one time, actor Richard Dreyfuss planned to makes
a movie on the topic, but that never came to pass. Eventually,
The Philadelphia Experiment WAS the inspiration for
two movies, one in the 1980s ("The Philadelphia Experiment")
and the other in the 1990s ("The Philadelphia Experiment
Almost twenty years after
its debut in the general public's awareness, however,
little is currently available on the subject. A search
of two major chain bookstores, and two decent libraries,
turned up nothing on the shelves. Eventually a library
was able to special order ONE book, published in 1979,
from another branch.
HERE'S THE BEEF
The apparent primary source for data
about the so-called "Philadelphia Experiment" came from
ONE man, the
mysterious Carlos Miguel Allende. According to authors
William L. Moore and Charles Berlitz in their influential, if speculative,
1979 book, "The Philadelphia Experiment: Project Invisibility,"
Allende's main statements/writings can be summarized thusly:
1. Dr. Albert Einstein's Unified Field
Theory was in fact completed in 1925-7, but Dr. Einstein withdrew
it because he was allegedly "horrified" by the possible
uses it might be put to by a mankind not yet ready for it. This,
according to Allende, could be confirmed by "Dr. B. Russell."
2. During World War II, the concepts
of the Unified Field Theory were tested by the Navy, "with
a view to any and every possible quick use of it, if feasible, in
a very short time." Someone called Dr. Franklin Reno, a man
Allende refers to as "my friend," allegedly had something
to do with producing "results" at this stage of the game.
3. The "results" thus produced
were used to achieve "complete invisibility of a ship, destroyer
type, and all of its crew, while at sea (October, 1943)" by
means of some sort of energy or force field which had been created
around the ship. The men on the ship were apparently able to see
one another vaguely, but all that could be seen by anyone outside
of the field was "the clearly defined shape of the ship's hull
in the water." The effects of this invisibility-creating force
field upon the men involved were, according to Allende, "disastrous."
The experiment, he says, was a complete success, but the men were
4. There was a special berth for the
experimental ship at the Philadelphia Navy Yard.
5. A small item once appeared in a
Philadelphia newspaper which would verify the tale. This supposedly
described the "sailors" activities after their initial
voyage" when they "raided" a local bar, allegedly
the "Seamens Lounge," and where they presumably were either
still exhibiting the effects of the field, or proceeded to discuss
the experiment in such graphic terms that it terrified the waitresses.
One is left to assume that the Shore Patrol was called and that
some reporter picked up the story and wrote it up without quite
6. Allende himself claimed to have
observed at least portions of this experiment while at sea on board
the Liberty Ship S. S. Andrew Furuseth, a Matson Lines ship out
of Norfolk. This was sometime in October,1943. According to Allende,
other men who were deck at the time and witnessed the tests were:
Chief Mate Mowsely; Richard "Splicey" Price, an eighteen-or
-nineteen-year-old sailor from Roanoke, Virginia; a man named "Connally"
from New England (possibly Boston).
7. Rear Admiral Rawson Bennett, Navy
Chief of Research, could supposedly verify that the experiment had
in fact occurred.
8. The experimental ship also somehow
mysteriously disappeared from its Philadelphia dock and showed up
only minutes later in the Norfolk area. It then subsequently vanished
again only to reappear at its Philadelphia dock. Total elapsed time--a
matter of minutes. Allende said he only heard about this phase of
it, and that may have been as late as 1946 "after the experiments
9. Allende indicated that the Office
of Naval Research was under the direction of "the present (at
the time of the letter--1956) boss of the Navy, Burke" at the
time that the force-field experiments were conducted, and that it
was because of his "curiosity and willingness and prompting
that this experiment was enabled to be carried out." This Burke
was described by Allende as a man who possessed a very positive
attitude toward research.
10. Finally, in addition to his then
current address, Allende also supplied Jessup with the following
data about himself: his presumed merchant sailor's Z number, Z416175;
the fact that he served on the S.S. Andrew Furuseth for some six
months; and that he considered himself as "something of a dialectician"
and "star gazer" and in addition he traveled a great deal
"around the country."
WHAT'S IN A NAME
Even the name of The Philadelphia
Experiment is not what it seems. According to Moore and Berlitz,
"Exactly why or how the ship experiment outlined in the Allende
letters came to be called the Philadelphia Experiment is not exactly
known, although it is certain that the designation is definitely
not an official one. As far as is known there has never been a military
undertaking of any sort which used that project title. It is more
likely that the name arose out of the need of one or more of the
early researchers into the matter to call it something; and since
at least a portion of the project allegedly took place at the Philadelphia
Navy Yard, it seemed only appropriate to refer to the entire affair
as the Philadelphia Experiment. In any event the name stuck, and
we might as well continue to use it."
THE NAVAL PERSPECTIVE
According to the Department of the
Navy, in a document dated July 23, 1976, "As for the Philadelphia
Experiment itself, ONR (Office of Naval Research) has never conducted
any investigations on invisibility, either in 1943 or at any other
time. In view of present scientific knowledge, our scientists do
not believe that such an experiment could be possible except in
the realm of science fiction, A scientific discovery of such import,
if it had in fact occurred, could hardly remain secret for such
a long time."
There is reason to believe that The
Philadelphia Experiment may never have occurred. Since the primary
source for this story relies on the statements of ONE man, Carlos
Allende, with little to back up his claims, the Philadelphia Experiment
may very well be the Naval equivalent of an Urban Myth: a story
that many people believe is true, but is in fact a myth.