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Can This Black Box See Into the Future?

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    http://www.rednova.com/news/display/?id=126649 This website is carrying a story featured in the UK Daily Mail on Feb 10, 2005 and written by Dr Danny Penman.
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 11, 2005

      This website is carrying a story featured in the UK
      Daily Mail on Feb 10, 2005 and written by Dr Danny
      The Mail headline was 'Can This Black Box See Into
      the Future?' with a subheading:
      "Some top scientists believe it predicted the tsnami
      and Diana's death. Bunkum...or proof of man's
      incredible hidden powers?".
      The story concerns the Global Consciousness Project
      and its random number generator 'eggs' dotted around
      the world which it is claimed appear to reflect mass
      thought and even predict mass events.
      This is the latest in a line of UK newspaper
      articles covering 'fringe' subjects such a survival
      of death, UFOs and the paranormal in a reasonably
      serious manner.
      Sign of a shift in mainstream thinking perhaps?
      Dave Haith

      Can This Black Box See Into the Future?
      DEEP in the basement of a dusty university library
      in Edinburgh lies a small black box, roughly the
      size of two cigarette packets side by side, that
      churns out random numbers in an endless stream.
      At first glance it is an unremarkable piece of
      equipment. Encased in metal, it contains at its
      heart a microchip no more complex than the ones
      found in modern pocket calculators.
      But, according to a growing band of top scientists,
      this box has quite extraordinary powers. It is, they
      claim, the 'eye' of a machine that appears capable
      of peering into the future and predicting major
      world events.
      The machine apparently sensed the September 11
      attacks on the World Trade Centre four hours before
      they happened - but in the fevered mood of
      conspiracy theories of the time, the claims were
      swiftly knocked back by sceptics. But last December,
      it also appeared to forewarn of the Asian tsunami
      just before the deep sea earthquake that
      precipitated the epic tragedy.
      Now, even the doubters are acknowledging that here
      is a small box with apparently inexplicable powers.
      'It's Earth-shattering stuff,' says Dr Roger Nelson,
      emeritus researcher at Princeton University in the
      United States, who is heading the research project
      behind the 'black box' phenomenon.
      'We're very early on in the process of trying to
      figure out what's going on here. At the moment we're
      stabbing in the dark.' Dr Nelson's investigations,
      called the Global Consciousness Project, were
      originally hosted by Princeton University and are
      centred on one of the most extraordinary experiments
      of all time. Its aim is to detect whether all of
      humanity shares a single subconscious mind that we
      can all tap into without realising.
      And machines like the Edinburgh black box have
      thrown up a tantalising possibility: that scientists
      may have unwittingly discovered a way of predicting
      the future.
      Although many would consider the project's aims to
      be little more than fools' gold, it has still
      attracted a roster of 75 respected scientists from
      41 different nations. Researchers from Princeton -
      where Einstein spent much of his career - work
      alongside scientists from universities in Britain,
      the Netherlands, Switzerland and Germany. The
      project is also the most rigorous and
      longest-running investigation ever into the
      potential powers of the paranormal.
      'Very often paranormal phenomena evaporate if you
      study them for long enough,' says physicist Dick
      Bierman of the University of Amsterdam. 'But this is
      not happening with the Global Consciousness Project.
      The effect is real. The only dispute is about what
      it means.' The project has its roots in the
      extraordinary work of Professor Robert Jahn of
      Princeton University during the late 1970s. He was
      one of the first modern scientists to take
      paranormal phenomena seriously. Intrigued by such
      things as telepathy, telekinesis - the supposed
      psychic power to move objects without the use of
      physical force - and extrasensory perception, he was
      determined to study the phenomena using the most
      up-to-date technology available.
      One of these new technologies was a humble-looking
      black box known was a Random Event Generator (REG).
      This used computer technology to generate two
      numbers - a one and a zero - in a totally random
      sequence, rather like an electronic coin-flipper.
      The pattern of ones and noughts - 'heads' and
      'tails' as it were - could then be printed out as a
      graph. The laws of chance dictate that the
      generators should churn out equal numbers of ones
      and zeros - which would be represented by a nearly
      flat line on the graph. Any deviation from this
      equal number shows up as a gently rising curve.
      During the late 1970s, Prof Jahn decided to
      investigate whether the power of human thought alone
      could interfere in some way with the machine's usual
      readings. He hauled strangers off the street and
      asked them to concentrate their minds on his number
      generator. In effect, he was asking them to try to
      make it flip more heads than tails.
      It was a preposterous idea at the time. The results,
      however, were stunning and have never been
      satisfactorily explained.
      Again and again, entirely ordinary people proved
      that their minds could influence the machine and
      produce significant fluctuations on the graph,
      'forcing it' to produce unequal numbers of 'heads'
      or 'tails'.
      According to all of the known laws of science,
      this should not have happened - but it did. And it
      kept on happening.
      Dr Nelson, also working at Princeton University,
      then extended Prof Jahn's work by taking random
      number machines to group meditations, which were
      very popular in America at the time. Again, the
      results were eyepopping. The groups were
      collectively able to cause dramatic shifts in the
      patterns of numbers.
      From then on, Dr Nelson was hooked.
      Using the internet, he connected up 40 random event
      generators from all over the world to his laboratory
      computer in Princeton. These ran constantly, day in
      day out, generating millions of different pieces of
      data. Most of the time, the resulting graph on his
      computer looked more or less like a flat line.
      But then on September 6, 1997, something quite
      extraordinary happened: the graph shot upwards,
      recording a sudden and massive shift in the number
      sequence as his machines around the world started
      reporting huge deviations from the norm. The day was
      of historic importance for another reason, too.
      For it was the same day that an estimated one
      billion people around the world watched the funeral
      of Diana, Princess of Wales at Westminster Abbey.
      Dr Nelson was convinced that the two events must be
      related in some way.
      Could he have detected a totally new phenomena?
      Could the concentrated emotional outpouring of
      millions of people be able to influence the output
      of his REGs. If so, how?
      Dr Nelson was at a loss to explain it.
      So, in 1998, he gathered together scientists from
      all over the world to analyse his findings. They,
      too, were stumped and resolved to extend and deepen
      the work of Prof Jahn and Dr Nelson. The Global
      Consciousness Project was born.
      Since then, the project has expanded massively. A
      total of 65 Eggs (as the generators have been named)
      in 41 countries have now been recruited to act as
      the 'eyes' of the project.
      And the results have been startling and inexplicable
      in equal measure.
      For during the course of the experiment, the Eggs
      have 'sensed' a whole series of major world events
      as they were happening, from the Nato bombing of
      Yugoslavia to the Kursk submarine tragedy to
      America's hung election of 2000.
      The Eggs also regularly detect huge global
      celebrations, such as New Year's Eve.
      But the project threw up its greatest enigma on
      September 11, 2001.
      As the world stood still and watched the horror of
      the terrorist attacks unfold across New York,
      something strange was happening to the Eggs.
      Not only had they registered the attacks as they
      actually happened, but the characteristic shift in
      the pattern of numbers had begun four hours before
      the two planes even hit the Twin Towers.
      They had, it appeared, detected that an event of
      historic importance was about to take place before
      the terrorists had even boarded their fateful
      flights. The implications, not least for the West's
      security services who constantly monitor electronic
      'chatter', are clearly enormous.
      'I knew then that we had a great deal of work ahead
      of us,' says Dr Nelson.
      What could be happening? Was it a freak occurrence,
      Apparently not. For in the closing weeks of December
      last year, the machines went wild once more.
      Twenty-four hours later, an earthquake deep beneath
      the Indian Ocean triggered the tsunami which
      devastated South-East Asia, and claimed the lives of
      an estimated quarter of a million people.
      So could the Global Consciousness Project really be
      forecasting the future?
      Cynics will quite rightly point out that there is
      always some global event that could be used to
      'explain' the times when the Egg machines behaved
      erratically. After all, our world is full of wars,
      disasters and terrorist outrages, as well as the
      occasional global celebration. Are the scientists
      simply trying too hard to detect patterns in their
      raw data?
      The team behind the project insist not. They claim
      that by using rigorous scientific techniques and
      powerful mathematics it is possible to exclude any
      such random connections.
      'We're perfectly willing to discover that we've made
      mistakes,' says Dr Nelson. 'But we haven't been able
      to find any, and neither has anyone else.
      Our data shows clearly that the chances of getting
      these results by fluke are one million to one
      That's hugely significant.' But many remain
      Professor Chris French, a psychologist and noted
      sceptic at Goldsmiths College in London, says: 'The
      Global Consciousness Project has generated some very
      intriguing results that cannot be readily dismissed.
      I'm involved in similar work to see if we get the
      same results. We haven't managed to do so yet but
      it's only an early experiment. The jury's still
      out.' Strange as it may seem, though, there's
      nothing in the laws of physics that precludes the
      possibility of foreseeing the future.
      It is possible - in theory - that time may not just
      move forwards but backwards, too. And if time ebbs
      and flows like the tides in the sea, it might just
      be possible to foretell major world events. We
      would, in effect, be 'remembering' things that had
      taken place in our future.
      'There's plenty of evidence that time may run
      backwards,' says Prof Bierman at the University of
      'And if it's possible for it to happen in physics,
      then it can happen in our minds, too.' In other
      words, Prof Bierman believes that we are all capable
      of looking into the future, if only we could tap
      into the hidden power of our minds. And there is a
      tantalising body of evidence to support this theory.
      Dr John Hartwell, working at the University of
      Utrecht in the Netherlands, was the first to uncover
      evidence that people could sense the future. In the
      mid-1970s he hooked people up to hospital scanning
      machines so that he could study their brainwave
      He began by showing them a sequence of provocative
      cartoon drawings.
      When the pictures were shown, the machines
      registered the subject's brainwaves as they reacted
      strongly to the images before them. This was to be
      Far less easy to explain was the fact that in many
      cases, these dramatic patterns began to register a
      few seconds before each of the pictures were even
      flashed up.
      It was as though Dr Hartwell's case studies were
      somehow seeing into the future, and detecting when
      the next shocking image would be shown next.
      It was extraordinary - and seemingly inexplicable.
      But it was to be another 15 years before anyone else
      took Dr Hartwell's work further when Dean Radin, a
      researcher working in America, connected people up
      to a machine that measured their skin's resistance
      to electricity. This is known to fluctuate in tandem
      with our moods - indeed, it's this principle that
      underlies many lie detectors.
      Radin repeated Dr Hartwell's 'image response'
      experiments while measuring skin resistance. Again,
      people began reacting a few seconds before they were
      shown the provocative pictures. This was clearly
      impossible, or so he thought, so he kept on
      repeating the experiments. And he kept getting the
      same results.
      'I didn't believe it either,' says Prof Bierman. 'So
      I also repeated the experiment myself and got the
      same results. I was shocked. After this I started to
      think more deeply about the nature of time.' To make
      matters even more intriguing, Prof Bierman says that
      other mainstream labs have now produced similar
      results but are yet to go public.
      'They don't want to be ridiculed so they won't
      release their findings,' he says. 'So I'm trying to
      persuade all of them to release their results at the
      same time. That would at least spread the ridicule a
      little more thinly!' If Prof Bierman is right,
      though, then the experiments are no laughing matter.
      They might help provide a solid scientific grounding
      for such strange phenomena as 'deja vu', intuition
      and a host of other curiosities that we have all
      experienced from time to time.
      They may also open up a far more interesting
      possibility - that one day we might be able to
      enhance psychic powers using machines that can 'tune
      in' to our subconscious mind, machines like the
      little black box in Edinburgh.
      Just as we have built mechanical engines to replace
      muscle power, could we one day build a device to
      enhance and interpret our hidden psychic abilities?
      Dr Nelson is optimistic - but not for the short
      term. 'We may be able to predict that a major world
      event is going to happen. But we won't know exactly
      what will happen or where it's going to happen,' he
      'Put it this way - we haven't yet got a machine we
      could sell to the CIA.'
      But for Dr Nelson, talk of such psychic machines -
      with the potential to detect global catastrophes or
      terrorist outrages - is of far less importance than
      the implications of his work in terms of the human
      For what his experiments appear to demonstrate is
      that while we may all operate as individuals, we
      also appear to share something far, far greater - a
      global consciousness. Some might call it the mind of
      'We're taught to be individualistic monsters,' he
      says. 'We're driven by society to separate ourselves
      from each other. That's not right.
      We may be connected together far more intimately
      than we realise.'
      On the Net:
      Global Consciousness Project -
      Princeton University - http://www.princeton.edu/

      Source: Daily Mail; London (UK)
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