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No. 10: Spring 1980

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Bend Interferometers Not Spoons

Because spoon-bending and similar purported mental feats involve so much legerdemain and trickery, scientists generally avoid psychic research. Taking a different tack, R.G. Jahn, at Princeton, has been experimenting with microscopic psychic effects, such as raising the temperature of a thermistor by a few thousandths of a degree or changing the separation of interferometer mirrors by a hundred-thousandth of a centimeter.

Quite unexpectedly (at least to the conventional physicist) the mind seems able to cause such changes at will under controlled conditions. The changes are minuscule to be sure, but cause-and-effect is clear-cut according to Jahn. But don't say that psi power has now been scientifically proven. The effects vary from person to person and, for the same individual, from time to time. The fact that one cannot predict the occurrence of the effects has led Jahn to speculate that the phenomena are inherently statistical.

(Anonymous; "Dean Justifies Psychic Research," Science News, 116:358, 1979.)

Comment. In other words, the effects resemble radioactivity where the behavior of a single atom is unpredictable but en masse the atoms follow the law of radioactive decay.

From Science Frontiers #10, Spring 1980. 1980-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987