The Moving Coffins of the Chase Vault

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A research note by Brian V. Ridout in the current SPR Journal reviews this well known case - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chase_Vault - and offers a new explanation.


First Ridout tries to reconcile three different versions of an illustration showing the positions of the coffins when the vault was opened in 1820, and decides against the version showing that nearly all the coffins had reversed end-to-end, and in favour of a less dramatic disturbance.


His suggested explanation, if I understand correctly, is as follows:
(1) The lead-lined coffins were distorted by the pressure of gases produced by decomposition, and their bases bulged outwards so that they were resting on only a small surface area, and were therefore liable to be rotated by relatively small forces.
(2) Barbados was particularly prone to electrical storms. The vault was quite close to the church tower, which was probably fitted with a lightning conductor. The effect of a nearby lightning strike would be to induce momentarily powerful magnetic fields in the lead-lined coffins, producing repulsive forces which would account for the displacement of the coffins - and also the lack of displacement of the two wooden coffins in the vault.


At first sight this looks fairly plausible - more so than Joe Nickell's suggestion that the whole story was a Masonic allegory (why do some sceptics produce such far-fetched hypotheses?). Though it would be useful to have some solid experimental evidence that the magnetic (or electrical) effects of a lightning strike would be strong enough. For the crucial statement about the resulting current inducing a magnetic field when it reaches a lead coffin, Ridout refers to this paper:
https://www.researchgate.net/publication...nd_Complex
But when I looked at the paper, it seemed to have very little relevance to transient magnetic effects in lead objects.
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(2018-12-24, 05:24 PM)Chris Wrote: For the crucial statement about the resulting current inducing a magnetic field when it reaches a lead coffin, Ridout refers to this paper:
https://www.researchgate.net/publication...nd_Complex
But when I looked at the paper, it seemed to have very little relevance to transient magnetic effects in lead objects.

It took a bit of looking between the two papers, but I think Ridout was using the Maki et al paper to show that the magnetic field would be di-pole.

Not that I fully understand what that means!

I liked the paper a lot, and it gave a far better solution to the flooding explanation which never quite worked, since the wooden coffin in the vault didn't move.

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