Early today I posted a thermal image of a cordless drill, and explained why the motor was hotter than the other components and what happens if it gets too hot.
Milwaukee’s M12 thermal imager is a very useful tool for identifying insulation leaks, checking to see which breaker is overloaded, and many other tasks.
But can you use it to look for ghosts?
Why yes, you can use the thermal imager to look for ghosts. And you will find them.
The above image was taken in a windowless room with the lights turned off, and nobody else was in the room with me. So what is that blurry figure in the image if not a ghost?
Here is another self portrait.
In the first image, I aimed the thermal imager right at the tiles in the shower. In the second image, I aimed the Milwaukee thermal imager at the mirror. The room was completely dark both times.
This is the corresponding image from the on-board digital camera. I haven’t checked the image pixel by pixel, but it’s as blacked-out as the room.
What’s going on?
Thermal imagers measure infrared radiation, which corresponds to how hot an object is. Since infrared radiation is not at all dependent on ambient lighting, you will see a similar thermal image in total darkness as with the lights on.
What the images actually show are infrared reflections of myself, in the tiles and mirror.
Aim a flashlight at glazed and shiny bathroom tiles, and the light will be reflected back towards you. Standing in front of the tiled wall, I was essentially an infrared flashlight.
This is more clearly shown in the second image when I stood close to the bathroom mirror.
Confusing, isn’t it?
The first time I scanned the bathroom with the thermal imager I saw that the area in front of the pipes was a lot hotter in one spot. And then it moved. I took a step to the side and saw it move again. That’s when I turned the lights out and realized what I was seeing. Of course the next thing I did was pose for a ghost image.
We cannot see infrared light, making it difficult to realize that everything emits IR radiation. Everything. Your cat, your coffee, your ice cream, your foot, your dirty socks, fresh footprints, your hair. Everything.
In the above thermographs, you’re not seeing an accurate measurement of temperature; the mirror and tile surfaces are not 80-something degrees. I was. My hotter parts were giving off greater infrared intensity than my colder parts, such as my hair and eyeglasses, which is why you can see these features in the reflection.
Not all thermographs can be taken at face value.
Remember this post the first time you pick up a thermal imager. I am sure that thermography training classes cover the topic of reflections, but not everyone that picks up a thermal imager goes for formal training.
Even if you have no need to ever buy or use a thermal imager, maybe you will be presented with a report or analysis. Thermographs can be misleading and even manipulated.
Not all false image reflections are going to be spooky, but I have found that images of “ghosts” make the lesson stick stronger.
More info about the tool used: Milwaukee M12 Thermal Imager Preview