Popular Science

ECTOPLASM

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In 1894, a notorious Italian mystic pretended to sprout a third arm. French physiologi­st Charles Richet sought to identify the ethereal matter that formed it. He dubbed the idiosyncra­tic material—which he said didn’t resemble a solid, liquid, or gas—ectoplasm, and posited it might be what ghosts were made of. Paranormal investigat­ors seized on the concept:

Some described a shiny, billowing ether while others theorized a viscous goo. Skeptics have caught phony mediums using gauze to simulate the substance.

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