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Roswell/ Edison & the Spirit Phone

Date Saturday - May 27, 2017
Host Dave Schrader
Guests William J. Birnes

On this year's 70th anniversary of the Roswell incident, Bill Birnes joined Dave Schrader (email) to discuss the legendary event. He began with a recent re-examination of a piece of evidence that has been under the microscope (almost literally.) The so-called "Ramey memo" is seen in one of the famous photos of the Roswell wreckage as it is held by General Roger Ramey, who supposedly ordered military witness Major Jesse Marcel to lie and say that the wreckage was from a weather balloon. Recent studies have tried to decipher the teletype from an old news photograph. Birnes does not believe that the memo refers to anything otherworldly, since that information would have been too sensitive to show in public.

Birnes recalled his extensive interviews with original Roswell witnesses and said that "they all told the same story" and further added that some of the witnesses "didn’t know each other" and appeared to tell the same story. One of Birnes' favorite accounts was contained in the personal diary of Inez Wilcox, who was the wife of the local sheriff at the time, and described the unusual debris that was delivered to her husband by original witness Mac Brazel. Sheriff Wilcox called the Army Air Force base and reported the material, which caused the military to begin its investigation and retrieval operations. Based on his research, Birnes believes that "there really was an alien craft" that crashed near Roswell in 1947. He also believes that there was an increased ET presence on the Earth at the time because "because we were like children playing with matches" due to the recent invention of atomic weapons.

Thomas Edison was convinced that there was a reality unseen by the human eye. This led to the last and least-known of all his inventions, the "spirit phone." His former associate (and bitter rival) Nikola Tesla was also developing a similar device. "Both of them thought there was a consumer market for talking to the dead," said Birnes. In the second half, he described the rivalry and how Edison’s own near-death experience formed his theory that animate life forms don’t die, but rather change the nature of their composition. America in the 1920s saw a revival of spiritualism, with families trying to communicate with dead relatives who had perished in WWI. Birnes said Edison believed that "when a body died, that the essence of a person still existed" which could be detected by a light meter and used as a communication channel. Tesla thought that the secret to communication with the dead lay in detecting the right radio or sound waves to listen to the words of the departed.

Although Edison thought that psychics and mediums were all frauds, he nevertheless hired them to help him with experiments, which met with little success. Tesla’s concepts never got much further than the planning stage. Birnes pointed out that Edison targeted ideas that he believed people would need and "helped invent the consumer marketplace of the 20th century," while Tesla was "more ideological" and conceptualized ideas such as devices that would receive radio waves through a narrow band, which laid the work for more recent products, such as the cell phone. In the last half hour, Birnes described Tesla’s death in 1943, after which the U.S. government seized all of his papers, but refused to release his suspected notes on anti-gravity theory.

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