The Philadelphia Experiment
Title of a 1979 book by Charles Berlitz and William Moore
that investigated the rumor that a top secret U.S. Navy experiment
in 1943 had succeeded in rendering a destroyer, most
likely the Eldridge, and its crew temporarily invisible and teleported
it from its berth in Philadelphia to Norfolk, Virginia.
Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology • 5th Ed. The Philadelphia Experiment
(The name ‘‘The Philadelphia Experiment’’ had earlier been
used by various writers to denote the classic electrical experiments
of Benjamin Franklin.)
The story of the Philadelphia Experiment stems largely
from Carlos Allende (born in 1925 as Carl M. Allen). He
claimed to have served as a deck hand on the S.S. Andrew Furuseth
in 1943 and to have witnessed the experiment that rendered
the Eldridge invisible. In 1956 he initially communicated
with Morris K. Jessup (1900–1959), author of The Case for the
UFO (1955), citing the Philadelphia Experiment as rationale
for Jessup to stop researching unified field theory. A short time
afterward, a copy of Jessup’s book with numerous annotations
relative to UFOs and the Philadelphia Experiment arrived in
the office of Naval Research.
In 1959, Jessup committed suicide, and the issue seemed to
be closed. Then in 1963, Gray Barker published a book about
Jessup and his unexpected death. In 1968 Brad Steiger and
Joan Whritenour wrote a second book. Allende, angry that he
had received nothing as a result of either the Barker or Steiger
title, allowed L. J. Lorenzen, director of the Aerial Phenomena
Research Organization (APRO), to interview him in 1969. He
stated that his annotations on Jessup’s book were part of the
hoax as were his letters to Jessup. Allende subsequently told
William Moore that his confession was made in the expectation
of financial gain from its publications. However, he later retracted
that confession. Gray Barker published a facsimile edition
of Jessup’s book, containing the annotations, in 1973
through his Saucerian Press.
In the face of a series of inquiries concerning the Philadelphia
Experiment, on July 23, 1976, the Department of the
Navy, Office of Information, Washington, D.C., stated in a letter
regarding the Philadelphia Experiment (reproduced in full
in Berlitz & Moore’s book) ‘‘ONR [Office of Naval Research]
has never conducted any investigations on invisibility, either in
1943 or at any other time. . . . In view of present scientific
knowledge, our scientists do not believe that such an experiment
could be possible except in the realm of science fiction.
A scientific discovery of such import, if it had in fact occurred,
could hardly remain secret for such a long time.’’
Berlitz and Moore revealed that Albert Einstein was employed
as a scientific consultant to the U.S. Navy from May 31,
1943 to June 30, 1944, and made speculations that both Einstein
and philosopher Bertrand Russell might have been involved
in the Philadelphia Experiment. The Philadelphia Experience
has continued to be a matter of entertainment on the
fringe of the UFO community. (See also invisibility; teleportation)
Barker, Gray. The Strange Case of Dr. M. K. Jessup. Clarksburg,
W.Va. Saucerian Books, 1962.
Clark, Jerome. Encyclopedia of Strange and Unexplained Phenomena.
Detroit Gale Research, 1993.
Moore, William L., and Charles Berlitz. The Philadelphia Experiment.
New York Grosset & Dunlap, 1979.
Steiger, Brad, and Joan Whritenour. New UFO Breakthrough
The Allende Letters. New York Award Books, 1968.
Stein, Gordon. Encyclopedia of Hoaxes. Detroit Gale Research,