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Science & The Supernatural: A Discussion of the World Around us - Based on Science with an Interest in the Supernatural ...
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PostPosted: 29 Oct 2010, 10:59 
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Rob Gutro was driving to the wake of a co-worker's stepfather when a ghost began to speak.

"I kept hearing the name Cindy Lou," Gutro recalled. "I had no idea what that meant." But he knew this: Once again, somebody who'd died had something to say.

By day, Gutro is a meteorologist who works as deputy news chief at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, communicating the nation's scientific work to the public.

By night (and whenever else the entities get in touch), he talks to the dead.

"I have an ability to communicate with and understand ghosts and spirits," Gutro said.

During his off-hours, away from NASA's advanced technology, Gutro actively seeks encounters of another kind by traveling to haunted houses and other historic sites where spirits might be found.

Sometimes, he said, entities seek him out. So it was, on the way to the wake this summer, that the disembodied voice in the car asked Gutro to deliver messages to his grieving friend and NASA colleague, Cynthia O'Carroll.

Gutro obliged, pulling her aside at the ceremony and saying he'd been hearing the name Cindy Lou. "I believe your dad has come to me," he told O'Carroll.

She cried.

"My dad used to call me Cindy Lou," O'Carroll said later. "But the thing that really touched me and made me cry was when Rob said, 'Your dad said thank you for taking care of your mom.' Just the way he said it sounded like the way Dad would have said it."

Gutro is quick to acknowledge that some NASA scientists - and plenty of non-scientists too - approach his work with considerable skepticism. "Some people do think that mediums are crazy," Gutro said. He shrugged.

There's no scientific consensus on ghosts and spirits; the word paranormal, after all, means something beyond scientific explanation. But Gutro, who used to work as a forecaster for the Weather Channel's radio division, insisted that the science behind his experiences with entities is sound.

I'm a scientist, so I have to prove everything," said Gutro, who has written a book, "Ghosts and Spirits: Insights From a Medium." "As the law of conservation of energy states, energy can not be destroyed. It can only be transformed, so after we pass, that energy that's within us has to go somewhere. It can choose to be an earthbound ghost, or it can choose to be a spirit and cross over."

At Goddard, where Gutro has worked for a decade and is an authority on hurricanes and a spokesman for the space telescope that will eventually succeed the Hubble, spirits are not a regular topic of conversation. Not that there's anything wrong with them, Gutro's boss said.

"We look at it the same as somebody who talks about a hobby or activities outside of the workplace," said Ed Campion, Goddard's news chief. Gutro "does a very good job of separating his NASA activities from his personal activities. ... There's no concern about it from a credibility standpoint."

NASA, Campion said, is not at all spooked by the notion of a scientist pursuing something that might be considered more faith-based.

"There are scientists here who are investigating the Big Bang and studying the most outer reaches of the universe and who also have religious beliefs," he said. "I think Rob takes the same approach. He's pursuing science vigorously at the same time he's pursuing his spiritual investigations."

Gutro's first encounter came when he was 14 and his late grandfather spooked him. "I watched little orbs of light come from the corner of the room," he said, "and he materialized in full view in front of me." Later, when Gutro was studying meteorology at Western Kentucky University, he was so terrified by a ghost in his house that he nailed a crucifix to the door.

Even some of Gutro's friends are nonbelievers, he said. His partner told him he might be nuts after Gutro mentioned that a young girl's ghost was running (floating?) around the Belair Mansion in Bowie. (The house historian confirmed that a young girl died there and was buried in the estate's cemetery.)

"For those who don't believe, that's fine," said Gutro, 48. "We're all at different levels of understanding of what life is and what happens afterwards. But when they get on the other side, they'll have an awakening. And then they can talk to me - from the other side."

Last weekend, at the Book Escape in Baltimore's Federal Hill neighborhood, Gutro told a small audience about the science of ghosts and about dogs, too - about why they can see ghosts that humans can't ("they have more rods than cones in their eyes"), and about Buzz, his Weimaraner who was killed by a car five years ago. Ever since, Gutro said, the old Garth Brooks hit "The Dance," a song about a man who lost his loved one, has often come on the radio when he's been thinking about Buzz.

"There's no such thing as coincidence," he said. A roommate once saw a shoe moving across the floor, with no logical explanation - other than that Buzz loved playing with shoes.

After his talk, at the request of the shop's owners, Gutro went looking for ghosts. There'd been reports of curious incidents in the bookshop: a soda can moving across a countertop, an employee looking for a book that suddenly fell from a shelf, a microwave turning on when nobody was around.

Gutro invited friends from a group called Inspired Ghost Tracking to join him for the investigation. Two women - Margaret Ehrlich and Linda Furrow - arrived wearing T-shirts heavy on the Halloween fonts. Past the horror section they went, to the door near the sci-fi and fantasy books, then down into the basement beneath 805 Light St.

Gutro was drawn to a dark corner near the furnace. "I have a really serious headache; there's definitely an entity in here," he said. Ghosts, he explained, make his head hurt on the rear left side, because they use energy to reveal themselves "and it's like an energy overload in my brain."

The ladies of Inspired Ghost Tracking took photos, trying to capture orbs - "ghosts in the form of balls of light," Gutro explained.

"If you are down here, can you give us your name?" Ehrlich called, holding a digital recording device in the air. Furrow carried an electromagnetic field detector with an ambient temperature sensor to try to grab some data on the ghost.

Gutro started thinking about a man, placing him in the 1830s. "I'm seeing a black suit and a white shirt and a string tie," he said. He thought the entity was an auditor, accountant or actuary.

After a while, the group went upstairs, then over to the basement next door - also part of the bookshop. Gutro's head hurt again. Somebody was there, he said - the same entity as before.

The new batteries in his camera began to die. "Maybe the entity is trying to use my batteries," he said. Gutro was drawn to the center of the basement. He took photos in the dark - flash, flash, flash.

"I just heard a man," he said.


"You didn't hear that?"


Gutro spoke into the darkened abyss, to a pile of cardboard boxes. Are you here? Make a sign. Gently touch one of us.

Suddenly, there was a wheezing, creaking, whooshing noise.

The entity was speaking! Or not.

"I take it that that was a toilet flush," Ehrlich said as the basement filled with nervous laughter.

Gutro spoke out loud: "We respectfully ask that you not scare anybody that works here."

Then his headache subsided: "I'm getting the sense that he's left the room. "

Two days later, on the phone, Gutro said he'd received an interesting audio clip from Inspired Ghost Trackers, featuring what he believed to be the ghost.

"It's a man's voice," he said. "It actually says, 'Go away.' "

Chloride and Sodium: Two terribly dangerous substances that taste great together!

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