Vince Wilson has been hunting ghosts for years. And, as the author Ultimate Ghost Hunter: The Handbook For The Amateur Parapsychologist, Ghost Tech and Ghost Science; founder of the Maryland Paranormal Investigators Coalition; and curator of ghosttech.net, a blog dedicated to ghost hunting advancements, news, and stories, Wilson knows what he's talking about. He's used a full menu of tools and gadgets in his profession, and when asked for his recommendation of the best ghost hunting apparatus out there, he unequivocally endorsed the Mel-8704 meter.
The Mel-8704 meter is a handheld reader that resembles a walkie-talkie. A multi-tasking tool, it measures both electromagnetic fields (EMF) and temperature changes on one device. To understand why Wilson sings its praises, it's best to back up and explain what exactly a ghost is, and how Wilson looks for them.
The biggest misconception in his field, Wilson said, is that he looks for ghosts directly. Instead, he searches for dramatic changes in environmental conditions, signs that could point indirectly to the presence of an invisible force. "There's a lot of miswording in the paranormal," he said. Wilson encourages the theory that ghosts are an energy that have embedded themselves into an atmosphere. "You can argue that perhaps at the moment of death, instead of being embedded in the human system forever, that a person's electromagnetic energy embeds in the environment around it instead," Wilson said. In other words: a ghost.
One way Wilson says he can detect this presence is by measuring severe temperature changes that may correspond with the presence of an invisible force. The theory is that ghosts draw energy from the air around them, which would cause air molecules to line up in such a way as to cause cold spots -- similar to how a can of compressed air alters the air around it, causing the can to become cold and frosted over. With its fast response thermocouple temperature sensor, the Mel meter looks for electrical resistance in the air and can detect temperature changes up to three times faster than competitive thermometers.
Here, Wilson demonstrates looking for cold spots before the Mel meter was developed:
The second important part of the Mel meter is its EMF reader. Another way to detect paranormal presence, according to Wilson, is through a sudden change in a location's level of electromagnetic energy. A hunter gets a base level reading of a room, taking into account everything from artificial cables to pipes to bad wiring. "You have to think fourth dimensionally," Wilson said. That means not just accounting for things readily visible to you that could throw off a reading, but "what about a refrigerator next door?" Then they look for extremely low frequency or very fast changes.
Here is Wilson explaining how EMF readings were done before the Mel meter:
There are several devices on the market that can measure temperature and electromagnetic fields independently; the real advancement with the Mel meter is that it can track cold spots and EMF changes simultaneously, eliminating the need for numerous bulky tools on an excursion. It's not the first attempt to create a multitasking ghosthunting device. Wilson recalled a laptop with multiple measuring tools designed to monitor an environment without human interference. The problem with that tool is common among paranormal investigation tools: they are haphazardly constructed, imprecise and amateurish.
According to Wilson, the Mel meter is the first device that is lab tested and explicitly designed for paranormal research. That's because its inventor Gary Galka has a personal tie to the field. The "Mel" in Mel meter isn't an acronym; it stands for Melissa, the name of Galka's late daughter. She died in a car accident in 2004, at the age of 17 -- meaning she was born in 1987. The Mel-8704 meter is a tribute to his daughter, the year she was born, and the year she died.
Galka felt he was communicating with Melissa after she died through various means: smelling her perfume, feeling her kisses, and electronics being turned on and off. He embarked on paranormal research, and discovered that the technologies used in the field were mainstream gadgets and devices intended for other scientific research tasks. So he developed the Mel meter, specially tailored to the special parameters of paranormal investigation.
Admittedly, the device doesn't produce audio or images of ghosts like other, spookier devices on the market. There's the Ovilus, a random number generator connected to an electronic dictionary that allows ghosts to communicate with investigators. Or "Shak Hacks," a term for Radio Shak AM/FM radio devices rejiggered for the purpose supposed communication through white noise.
So if you're looking to create your own version of Paranormal Activity this Halloween, skip the Ghost Hunting 101 kits, and go for the Mel-meter. As Wilson said, for a ghost hunter, "it's the best thing."