How the Philadelphia Experiment Worked

'Call Me Carlos': A Conspiracy Is Born

In a 1951 ceremony at the Boston Naval Shipyard, Massachusetts, the USS Eldridge (DE-173) was transferred to the Royal Hellenic Navy.
In a 1951 ceremony at the Boston Naval Shipyard, Massachusetts, the USS Eldridge (DE-173) was transferred to the Royal Hellenic Navy.
U.S. Department of State

Almost everything that we "know" about the Philadelphia Experiment and the alleged teleportation of the USS Eldridge emerged from the mind and pen of a colorful character named Carl M. Allen, better known by his pseudonym Carlos Miguel Allende.

In 1956, Allende sent the first of over 50 handwritten letters to the author and amateur astronomer Morris K. Jessup, who a year earlier had published a self-researched book called "The Case for the UFO" [source: Vallee]. In his letters, Allende criticized Jessup's naive understanding of unified field theory, which Allende claimed to have been taught by Albert Einstein himself. A unified field theory, which has never been proven (by Einstein or anyone else), attempts to merge the forces of gravity and electromagnetism into one fundamental field [source: Sutton].

To prove that a unified field theory existed, Allende offered Jessup his eyewitness account from a nearby ship of the disappearance of the Eldridge from the Philadelphia Naval Yard in 1943. Carlos Allende's letter to Morris Jessup, which explains how the U.S. military used Einstein's revelations to teleport an entire naval destroyer and its crew, registered the first ever mention of the Philadelphia Experiment. No other witnesses from the crew of the Eldridge or nearby ships had come forward in the 13 years since the alleged event.

Jessup attempted a serious investigation of Allende's claims, but grew frustrated with the mysterious letter writer's inability to produce physical evidence. Jessup was ready to drop the investigation entirely when he was contacted by two officers from the Navy's Office of Naval Research (ONR) in 1957 [source: Vallee].

According to an information sheet published by the ONR, the two officers were responding to a strange package that they received in 1956. It contained a copy of Jessup's UFO book annotated by handwritten notes claiming advanced knowledge of physics that linked extraterrestrial technology to breakthroughs in unified field theory [source: ONR].

Although the scrawled notes were meant to look like they came from three different authors (at least one, perhaps, an alien), Jessup instantly recognized the handwritings as all belonging to Carlos Allende. For unexplained reasons, the ONR officers published 127 copies of the annotated book using a Texas military contractor named Varo Manufacturing. Transcribed copies of the so-called "Varo editions" — whether real or forged — would become prized collector's items for conspiracy theorists [source: Vallee].

Sadly, Jessup's story took a tragic turn. Injured in a car accident and split from his wife, Jessup committed suicide in 1959. Carlos Allende lived until 1994, sporadically sending letters to anyone who would listen to his fantastical tale of the Philadelphia Experiment [source: Vallee].