Kirlian photography refers to a form of photogram made with high voltage. In controversial metaphysical contexts, Kirlian photography, Kirlian energy, and so on, are sometimes referred to as just "Kirlian." Kirlian made controversial claims that his method showed proof of supernatural auras, said to resemble a rough outline of the object like a colorful halo. An experiment advanced as evidence of energy fields generated by living entities involves taking Kirlian contact photographs of a picked leaf at set periods, its gradual withering being said to correspond with a decline in the strength of the aura.
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Kirlian photography refers to a form of photogram made with high voltage. It is named after Semyon Kirlian, who in 1939 accidentally discovered that if an object on a photographic plate is connected to a source of high voltage, small corona discharges (created by the strong electric field at the edges of the object) create an image on the photographic plate.
Kirlian's work, from 1939 onward, involved an independent rediscovery of a phenomenon and technique variously called "electrography," "electrophotography," and "corona discharge photography." The underlying physics (which makes xerographic copying possible) was explored as early as 1777 by Georg Christoph Lichtenberg (see Lichtenberg figures). Later workers in the field included Nikola Tesla; various other individuals explored the effect in the later 19th and early 20th centuries. Yet Kirlian took the development of the effect further than any of his predecessors.
In controversial metaphysical contexts, Kirlian photography, Kirlian energy, and so on, are sometimes referred to as just "Kirlian." Kirlian made controversial claims that his method showed proof of supernatural auras, said to resemble a rough outline of the object like a colorful halo. An experiment advanced as evidence of energy fields generated by living entities involves taking Kirlian contact photographs of a picked leaf at set periods, its gradual withering being said to correspond with a decline in the strength of the aura. Scientifically, it is considered more likely that as the leaf loses moisture it becomes less electrically conductive, causing a gradual weakening of the electrical field at the drier edges of the leaf.
"Aura" without a camera
Kirlian photography is completely different from Aura photography, in which a colorful image is produced of a person's face and upper torso using various methods of biofeedback. The images made with an Aura camera do not result from coronal discharge, the colors are projected with fiber optics. People commonly use the term Kirlian photography to erroneously refer to Aura photography, and vice-versa. The terms have almost become interchangeable, even though the techniques are completely different. This leads to confusion among those who are not familiar with the two different techniques. The Kirlian technique is contact photography, in which the subject is in direct contact with the film which is placed upon a metal plate that is charged with high voltage, high frequency electricity. In Aura Photography, no high voltage is involved as with the Kirlian technique, and no direct contact with the film is made.
Kirlian proposed and promoted the idea that the resulting images of living objects were a physical proof of the life force or aura which allegedly surrounds all living beings. This claim was said to be supported in experiments by the proponents of the paranormal explanation that involved cutting part of a leaf off —the Kirlian images of such leaves, it was said, still showed the leaves as whole, as though the cutting had never happened.
However, research at Drexel University in the 1970s, under the direction of William W. Eidson, was unable to reproduce the effect . When the glass used to capture the original leaf was replaced with new glass before the freshly cut leaf was photographed, they were led to conclude that the "cut leaf" phenomenon was caused by microscopic etching in the surface of the glass which occurred during preparing the images of the uncut leaf. They also reported on a number of demonstrable causes such as surface moisture and pressure which can account for much of the variations in color, shape, and size of the resulting image.. In addition to living material, inanimate objects such as coins will also produce images on the film in a Kirlian photograph setup. In the United States, Dr. Thelma Moss of UCLA devoted much time and energy to the study of Kirlian photography when she led the parapsychology laboratory there in the 1970s.
Current research continues by Dr. Konstantin Korotkov in the Russian University, St.Petersburg State Technical University of Informational Technologies, Mechanics and Optics.  Konstantin Korotkov has published several books including "Human Energy Field: study with GDV bioelectrography" 2002, NY, Backbone Publishing Co. and "Light After Life: Experiments and Ideas on After-Death Changes of Kirlian Pictures" 1998, NY, Backbone Publishing Co.
Dr. Konstantin Korotkov uses GDV (Gas Discharge Visualization) based on the Kirlian Effect. GDV instruments use glass electrodes to create a pulsed electrical field excitation (called "perturbation technique") to measure electro-photonic glow. 
The Korotkov methods are used in some hospitals and athletic training programs in Russia and elsewhere as preventative measurements for detecting stress. The Russian Academy of Science has approved the GDV techniques and equipment in 1999 for general clinical use. 
It should be noted that as for "approval", according to the certificates Mr. Korotkov himself is showing in his various web sites, the GDV camera only has certificates of conformity with general electrical safety (standards 61010 and 61326) . Nothing about the method or its alleged fanciful applications. See Russian certificates , and European certificate . (The European certificate may be purchased at Berlin CERT  with no formal requirements of actual testing.) --
There has been some published research in peer-reviewed scientific journals regarding GDV and related material, including several articles in the Journal of Applied Physics and in IEEE articles 
Other people who study this phenomenon are Professor Milhomens in Brazil and Dr. Mandel from Germany.
The accepted physical explanation is that the images produced are those typically caused by a high voltage corona effect, similar to those seen from other high voltage sources such as the Van de Graaff generator or Tesla coil. In a darkened room, this is visible as a faint glow but, because of the high voltages, the film is affected in a slightly different way from the usual. Color photographic film is calibrated to faithfully produce colors when exposed to normal light. The corona discharge has a somewhat different effect on the different layers of dye used to accomplish this result, resulting in various colors depending on the local intensity of the discharge. 
Skeptics of the paranormal have long disputed the claims made concerning auras and Kirlian photography. One of the most disputed studies was actually funded by the US Army. During this study, scientist Joe Slate took Kirlian Photographs of the fingertips of both people claiming to be psychic vampires and those identified as their victims. Once the photographs were developed they showed the "vampire's" auras to be large and fiery red, while those of their "victims" were smaller and mellow blue.
Uses of Kirlian photography
1. A picture showing a hand with an ancient Indian medal is the cover of George Harrison's album Living in the Material World.
2. A picture resembling a hand print in the title sequence of the U.S. science fiction TV series The X-Files.
3. The concert programme from David Bowie's 1976 Station to Station tour featured some results of the technique, and in 1975 Bowie claimed to have achieved markedly different results, using his fingertip and his crucifix, before and after he took cocaine.
1. Science fiction author Piers Anthony wrote a series of five books (Cluster, Chaining the Lady, Kirlian Quest, Thousandstar and Viscous Circle) based around the premise of Kirlian transfer, the idea that a person's identity resides in his or her Kirlian aura and can be transferred to a host, in effect transferring the individual into another body. The host must be a sapient being (i.e. non-beast) but may be of the same or different species and may be many light-years away, thus allowing the main character to traverse galaxies at will and "be" a variety of aliens during the course of a single book.
2. The first track of the album "MIX-UP" (1979) by the British band Cabaret Voltaire is named "Kirlian Photograph".
3. In the movie Omen IV, Delia's babysitter, Jo, takes Delia to a psychic carnival where she and Delia had their picture taken with a Kirlian camera. The picture came out with Delia's dark and evil aura overtaking Jo's lighter, greenish aura.
4. Benn Jordan's eighth album is titled Kirlian Selections, in reference to his electric-influenced music style.
5. In the comic book The Authority, team member Apollo is said to have a "Kirlian aura."
6. Kirlia, a species of psychic-type Pokémon, is named after Semyon Kirlian.
7. In the World of Darkness book Project Twilight, Kirlian photography is one of the methods available to government vampire hunters to detect ghosts, spirits and auras.
8. The electronic darkwave band Kirlian Camera take their name from this phenomenon.
9. In the 1989 film Ghostbusters II, Drs Stantz and Spengler note multi-planear Kirlian emanations on pictures of a haunted painting in the Manhattan Museum of Art.
1. ^ Julie McCarron-Benson in Skeptical - a Handbook of Pseudoscience and the Paranormal, ed Donald Laycock, David Vernon, Colin Groves, Simon Brown, Imagecraft, Canberra, 1989, ISBN 0731657942, p11
2. ^ David G. Boyers and William A. Tiller (1973). "Corona discharge photography". Journal of Applied Physics 44: 3102-3112.