The Coral Castle and Acoustic Levitation

Megalithic wall at Machu Picchu
Megalithic wall at Machu Picchu

There are some strange and wonderful things in this world, and among them are the many mysterious stone structures that dot the landscape across the globe.  Megalith sites, such as the great pyramids of Giza in Egypt or the ruined city complex at Teotihuacán in Mexico, are examples of the ingenuity of our ancestors.  Huge stone blocks, some weighing in excess of 200 tons, hewn, carved and carried to these sites and placed with a precision scarcely seen today.

In the world of lifting heavy things, modern engineering has surpassed the capabilities of Neolithic builders, with huge cranes, themselves weighing more than 60 tons, hoisting machinery and vessels high into the air, to be placed with pinpoint accuracy.

Ways-the-Common-Crane-Is-Being-ImprovedOfficially, according the Guinness Book of World Records, the heaviest objects ever lifted are NASA’s Rotating Service Structures (RSS), which are two launch pads, used by NASA for the space shuttle program – Launch Pad #39A and Launch Pad #39B – weighing in at a whopping 5,280,000lbs and 5,340,000lbs respectively or somewhere near 2640 tons.[1]

The RSS were lifted using 21 massive hydraulic jacks, for the purpose of measuring their weight and so weren’t lifted very high, and were never really off the ground, but the achievement is one for the record books.  Engineers routinely lift objects of 60-80 tons with cranes, but when you think about the technological might needed to perform these massive moves, one can’t help but wonder how ancient cultures managed to move and work with stones more than twice that weight.

Was it sheer manpower?  Ropes and sleds and the sweat of hundreds?  Maybe, in the case of stones like those placed at Stonehenge in England or the stoic Mo’ai of Easter Island, researchers have demonstrated how seemingly primitive techniques could be used to move even the most massive object.

Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it and I shall move the world.” – Archimedes

Some have suggested, however, that those techniques fail to account for such structures as those at Pumapunku in Bolivia, famous for its massive Plataforma Litica, which contains a stone slab weighing approximately 131 tons.  Pumapunku is also famous for the wild theories of Ancient Alien proponents such as Erik von Danikën and Georgio Tsoukalos, who claim that alien technology was used in its construction.

250px-Coral_Castle_1Many believe that the Ancient Alien Theorists are right, but there is evidence to suggest that moving such huge stones is a relatively simple process.  Namely, the Coral Castle.

Built by Latvian-American eccentric Edward Leedskalnin over a period of 28 years, circa 1923, the Coral Castle sits as a monument to human ingenuity in Miami, Florida.  It consists of numerous oolitic limestone blocks (often called coral), carved into walls, furniture, structures and artwork, the heaviest weighing approximately 30 tons.

What’s especially wondrous about the Coral Castle is that Leedskalnin reportedly built the entire structure by hand…completely alone.  So how does one man, standing only five feet tall, and weighing only 110lbs, manage to move and work with multi-ton stones, by himself?  There is little doubt that he did what he is credited with, and the Coral Castle still stands today, open for tours daily by its current owners, and Leedskalnin who claimed fantastically, to know how the Egyptians built the pyramids, is quoted when asked how he did it as saying, “it’s not difficult if you know how.”[2]

Coral-CastleLeedskalnin died of kidney failure in November of 1951, taking his secrets with him.  He never revealed, to anyone, how he accomplished this amazing feat of engineering, but while most are scratching their heads, there are some theories.  These ideas range from an expert knowledge of leverage and counterbalance (which seems unlikely since he worked alone) to magnetic, electrostatic and/or acoustic levitation.  That may seem somewhat fanciful, and perhaps akin to something the AAT’s might propose, but there actually is some merit to the idea.

Magnetic and electrostatic levitation are based on the manipulation of metals through the use of electric or magnetic fields to counteract the effect of gravity, the most famous examples of which are Mag-Lev high-speed bullet trains.  Obviously these techniques would be useless with limestone, but acoustic levitation is another story.

Based on the principle of acoustic radiation pressure, an object can be levitated by the pressure caused by sound waves.  Typically this is done inside an acrylic resonance chamber, under very specific and controlled conditions, and demonstrations of the technique typically show a ping pong ball flittering about inside a plastic box.  This technique is commonly used in the study of anti-gravity and materials testing by NASA, where containerless processing is required.[3]  At first glance it doesn’t seem like acoustic levitation would translate well from controlled lab conditions to real world applications with objects bigger than a golf ball, but in theory there is no limit to the size of object that can be lifted in this way.

Drawing from Implosion No 13
Drawing from Implosion No 13

You might be thinking that this is all well and good, but how likely is it that a Latvian immigrant from the 1930’s had any knowledge of acoustic radiation pressure?  And you’d be right, it’s unlikely that Leedskalnin had the engineering knowledge needed to perform what is described above, but then, neither would Tibetan monks from the same period and long before.

According to Swedish engineer Olaf Alexanderson, who wrote in the German periodical Implosion (Issue number 13), Tibetan monks (Lamas) have been using acoustic levitation for centuries.  In his article Alexanderson provided a detailed explanation of the process, complete with diagrams and geometric measurements.

In addition, outlined in his book The Lost Techniques, Swedish born civil and aviation engineer Henry Kjelson detailed the story of his friend, a Swedish doctor known only as Dr. Jarl, who apparently spent some time in Tibet treating a high Lama at the behest of a former student of his at Oxford.

Because of his relationship to the unnamed student, Dr. Jarl was privy to witness several Tibetan traditions and practices that would have been hidden from other outsiders.  One of those traditions was the technique of using drums and trumpets to levitate large stones up the side of a mountain slope to a precipice where the monks were building a rock wall.  Dr. Jarl, through Kjelson, provided a detailed description and several drawings of the process, and reportedly filmed the event.[4]

Drawing from Dr. Jarl
Drawing from Dr. Jarl

As you might imagine though, the films are not available, as they were reportedly confiscated by the English Scientific Society upon his return to England and have never been seen since.  It isn’t clear if this is a reference to the Royal Society (The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge), and since all references to Dr, Jarl point back only to Kjelson’s book, there is reason to doubt that it ever happened.  There is no independent verification of this story, but the fact that the diagrams exist is one point in favour of the theory.

One can also find vague references to another eyewitness, an Autralian filmmaker known only as Linauer, who apparently witnessed the same process in northern Tibet in the 1930’s.[5]  But this is also unverified.

In spite of the doubts about the veracity of this story, many researchers in the field of anti-gravity and acoustical research cite this story as evidence that acoustic or sonic levitation can be used to move large stone blocks and other objects over modest distances, and also that the process is centuries old.

Is it possible then, that Leedskalnin figured out and used this age old Tibetan technique for moving multi-ton stones about with the power of drums or trumpets?  No known reports of drums or other sounds coming from the original site of the Coral Castle exist, so there is considerable doubt, but as with modern acoustic levitation techniques, the sound waves used aren’t necessarily within the frequency spectrum of human hearing.

This is by no means the only explanation for the construction of the Coral Castle or for other megalithic sites around the world, but it is one that’s gaining support among archaeological circles.  The evidence is sparse and a little sketchy, which leads many to conclude that acoustic levitation is not the answer, but the possibility still exists.  Perhaps, in the future, science will see fit to attempt such a thing, finally laying to rest the question of its plausibility.  Even if they do, however, it won’t definitively answer all of the questions about megalithic stone construction.

[2] Dunn, Christopher.  The Incredible Mystery of Coral Castle. Originally published in Atlantis Rising Magazine:

[3] Wilson, Tracey V. How Acoustic Levitation Works.

[5] Pye, Michael & Dalley, Kirsten. Lost Cities and Forgotten Civilizations: Mysteries Uncovered, Secrets Declassified. Rosen Publishing Group (2012) ISBN-10: 1448892511 Pg 112

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