The device required to measure the movement of subatomic particles resembled nothing so much as a three-foot hand mixer. The magnetometer was attached to an output device whose frequency is a measure of the rate of change of magnetic field.
oscillated ever so slightly, grinding out its slowly undulating
S-curve on an x–y recorder, a paper graph, with annoying regularity.
To the untrained eye, quarks were sedentary: nothing ever changed on
the graph. A non-physicist might look upon this gadget as something
akin to a souped-up pendulum.
It necessitated blocking out virtually all the endless electromagnetic chatter of the universe in order to hear the infinitesimal language of a subatomic particle. To accomplish this, the magnetometer’s innards needed to be encased in layer upon layer of shielding - copper shielding, aluminium casing, a superconducting niobium shield, even -metal shielding, a metal which specifically limits magnetic field.
The device was then buried in a concrete well
in the floor of the lab. The SQUID (superconducting quantum
interference device) was a bit of a mystery at Stanford - seen but
not understood. No one had ever published its complex inner
Hal had grown up in Ohio and Florida, but liked to say he was from Missouri - the Show Me state, the ultimate state of the skeptic. Show me, prove it to me, let me see how it works. Scientific principles were a comforting refuge for him, the best way he could get a handle on reality. The multiple layers of shielding erected around the magnetometer would present the ultimate challenge for Ingo Swann, the psychic, whose plane was arriving from New York that afternoon. He would spring the thing on Swann.
Just let him see if he could alter the pattern of a machine
impervious to anything short of an atomic explosion.
He’d been dabbling in tachyons, or particles that travel faster than the speed of light. He’d wondered whether tachyons could explain some studies he’d come across showing that animals and plants had the ability to engage in some sort of instantaneous communication, even when separated by hundreds of miles or shielded by a variety of means. Hal had really wanted to find out whether you could use quantum theory to describe life processes.
Like Mitchell and Popp, he’d long suspected that everything in the universe on its most basic level had quantum properties, which would mean that there ought to be nonlocal effects between living things. He’d been kicking around an idea that if electrons had nonlocal effects, this might mean something extraordinary on a large scale in the world, particularly in living things - some means of acquiring or receiving information instantaneously.
At the time, all he had in mind to test this
assumption was a modest study, mainly involving a bit of algae,
which Bill Church was eventually persuaded to invest $10,000 in.
These were the studies that had so fascinated Hal. Backster tried burning the leaf of a plant and then measured its galvanic response, much as he would register the skin response of a person being tested for lying. Interestingly enough, the plant registered the same increased-stress polygraph response as a human would if his hand had been burned.
Even more fascinating, as far as Hal was concerned, was that Backster had burned the leaf of a neighboring plant not connected to the equipment.
plant, still hooked up to the polygraph, again registered the ‘pain’
response that it had when its own leaves had been burned. This
suggested to Hal that the first
plant had received this information via some extrasensory mechanism
and was demonstrating empathy. It seemed to point to some sort of
interconnectedness between living things.1
As in Star Wars, each death was registered as a
disturbance in The Field.
Swann, an artist, was mainly known as a gifted psychic, who’d been working on ESP experiments with Gertrude Schmeidler, a professor in psychology at City College in New York.3 Swann had rifled through Hal’s proposal and was intrigued enough to write to him, suggesting that if he were interested in looking at some common ground between the inanimate and the biological that he start doing some experiments in psychic phenomena.
Swann himself had done some work
on out-of-body experiments and had got good results. Hal was deeply
skeptical, but gamely took him up on his suggestion. He contacted
Bill Church to see if he could change his study and use some of his
grant money to fly Swann out to California for a week.
As he spoke, the machine again recorded a double
frequency and then a double dip - which Ingo said had something to
do with his concentrating on the niobium ball inside the machine.
The normal S-curve resumed. Now
concentrate on the magnetometer, Hal said. The tracing started
furiously scribbling. Hal told him to stop thinking about it, and
the slow S resumed. Ingo did a quick sketch of what he said he ‘saw’
as the design of the inside of the machine and then asked if they
could stop as he was tired. For the next three hours, the machine’s
output went back to its regular curves, monotonous and steady.
Hal realized he’d stumbled on some property of human beings that was not a million miles from what Backster observed - some instant connection with the unseen. Remote viewing seemed of a piece with the notion he’d been toying with about some sort of interconnection between living things. Much later, he would privately speculate about whether remote viewing had anything to do with the Zero Point Field.
For the moment, all
he was interested in was whether what he’d seen was real and how
well it worked. If Swann could see inside magnetometers, was it
possible for him to see anywhere else in the world?
The agency, they told him, was getting increasingly concerned about the amount of experiments the Russians were conducting into parapsychology funded by the Soviet security forces.4 From the resources they were pouring into it, it seemed as though the Russians were convinced that ESP could unlock all of the West’s secrets. A person who could see and hear things and events separated by time and space represented the perfect spy.
The Defense Intelligence Agency had just circulated a report, ‘Controlled offensive behavior - USSR’, which predicted that the Soviets, through their psychic research, would be able to discover the contents of top secret documents, the movements of troops and ships, the location of military installations, the thoughts of generals and colonels.
They might even be able to kill or shoot down aircraft from a distance.5
Many senior staff at the CIA thought it was high time that the US looked into it as well; the problem was that they were getting laughed out of most labs.
Nobody in the American scientific community would take ESP or clairvoyance seriously. It was the CIA’s view that if they didn’t, the Russians would probably gain an advantage that the US would never be able to overcome. The agency had been scouring around for a small research lab outside academia that might be willing to carry out a small, low-key investigation. SRI - and Hal’s current interest - seemed perfect for the job.
Hal even checked out as a
good security risk since he’d had experience in intelligence in the
Navy and had worked for the National Security Agency.
Tall and lanky at 6 foot 5, Russ had a shock
of curly hair, which sat back on his forehead - a dark-haired Art
Garfunkel to Hal’s sturdier Paul Simon. There the resemblance ended;
anchored to Russ’s face was a pair of black Coke-bottle glasses. Targ had terrible vision and was considered legally blind. Even his
glasses only corrected his sight to a fraction of normal. His poor
outward vision may have been one reason why he saw pictures in his
mind’s eye so clearly.
He might be pretending to guess a question
about a location and suddenly a clear mental image of it would pop
into his head. Invariably, his own internal picture would turn out
to be accurate, which only enhanced his reputation as a magician,
but left him with many questions about how this could possibly be
He said it seemed to be a strange place,
He got the impression that there were ‘old bunkers
around’, or it could simply be ‘a covered reservoir’.7
briefly as police commissioner in Burbank, a suburb of Los Angeles.
Price would be in the dispatch room and as soon as a crime had been
reported, he’d scan the city mentally. Once he settled on a place,
he’d immediately send a car to the location in his mind. Invariably,
he claimed, he’d caught his man, just at the spot he’d visualized.
It was obvious to Puthoff that Price was describing the same place as Swann, but in far more detail. He offered a highly precise description of the mountains, the location of the place, and its proximity to roads and a town. He even described the weather. But it was the interior of one peak area that interested Price.
He wrote that he thought he saw an,
was able to describe the aluminum sliding doors, the size of the
rooms and what they contained, even the large maps pinned on the
Immediately he got embroiled in a heated investigation of a security breach. What Swann and Price had correctly described was a vast secret Pentagon underground facility in the Blue Ridge Mountains of West Virginia, manned by National Security Agency code breakers, whose main job was to intercept international telephone communications and control US spy satellites.
It was as though their psychic antennae had picked up
nothing of note with the original coordinates and so scanned the
area until they got on the wavelength of something more relevant to
Russ and Hal were told was that the site was an R&D test facility.8
Targ started the tape. Pat removed his wire-rim glasses, leaned back in his chair, took a crisp white linen handkerchief from his pocket, polished his glasses, then closed his eyes, and only spoke after a full minute.
Pat went on to
sketch the building layout and paid particular attention to what he
kept describing as a ‘gantry crane’.
drawing turned out to be extremely close to satellite photos, even
down to a cluster of compressed-gas cylinders.
Nevertheless, two years later, an Air Force report was leaked to Aviation Week magazine about the CIA’s use of high-resolution photographic reconnaissance satellites, which finally confirmed Pat’s vision. The satellites were being used to observe the Soviets digging though solid granite formations.
They’d been able to observe enormous steel gores being manufactured in a nearby building.
When Pat’s drawings matched the satellite photos so well, the CIA assumed the nuclear spheres he saw must be manufactured for atomic bombs, and one assumption after another led the Reagan Administration to dream up what became known as the Star Wars program.11
Many billions of dollars later, it turned out to be a
curve ball. Semipalatinsk, the site Pat had seen, wasn’t even a
military installation. The Russians indeed were trying to develop
nuclear rockets, but for their own manned Mars mission. All the
rockets were to be used for was fuel.
Gradually they moved away from coordinates to places. They
created a box file which contained 100 target sites - buildings,
roads, bridges, landmarks - within half an hour of SRI, from the San
Francisco Bay area to San Jose. All were sealed and prepared by an
independent experimenter and locked in a secure safe. An electronic
calculator programmed to choose numbers randomly would be used to
select one of the target locations.
One of the experimenters, usually Targ, because of his bad eyesight, would remain behind with Swann. Meanwhile, Hal and one of the other program coordinators would pick up the sealed envelope and head off to the target location, which was not disclosed to either the volunteer or Targ. Hal acted as the ‘beacon’ of focus - they’d wanted to use someone familiar to Swann or Price whom they could tune in on when attempting to find a mundane location.
At the agreed start time, and for the next 15 minutes, Swann was asked to attempt to draw and describe into a tape recorder any impressions of the target site. Targ also would be ignorant of the location of the target team, so that he’d be free to ask questions without fear of inadvertently cueing Swann on the right answer.
As soon as the
target team returned, they would take the remote viewer to the
target site, so that he’d get direct feedback of the accuracy of
what he thought he’d seen. Swann’s track record was astonishing. In
test after test, he had a high accuracy in correctly identifying his
In some cases, like the Hoover Tower, Price even recognized it and correctly identified it by name.14 Price was noted for his incredible accuracy and also his ability to ‘see’ through the eyes of his traveling partner.
One day, when Puthoff traveled to a boat marina, Pat shut his eyes, and when he opened them, blurted out,
Hal even tested Pat on detail. He sent Green, the CIA boss, up in a small aircraft with three numbers on a piece of paper inside his breast pocket.
Numbers and letters were known to be almost
impossible to remote view accurately. Nevertheless, there was Pat
Price ticking them off, even in order. He only complained of feeling
a bit seasick and drew a picture of a kind of special cross, which
he’d had the image of swinging back and forth, making him ill. It
turned out that Green was wearing an ankh, an ancient Egyptian cross
matching Price’s drawing, around his neck, and the necklace must
have been swinging wildly during the ride.16
A couple of the CIA contract monitors asked if they could try their hand at it. This appealed to Hal, who’d wanted to see whether ordinary individuals could carry out remote viewing. Each was invited to participate in three experiments, and both improved with practice. The first scientist correctly identified a child’s merry-go-round and a bridge, and the second correctly picked up a windmill.
Of the five experiments, three were direct hits and one a
In five of nine targets, Hella
scored direct hits, as determined by independent judges.18
In every regard, save one, Targ described and drew the airport accurately.
The only small error had to do with his drawing
of the airport; he’d drawn a building looking like a Quonset hut,
when in fact the building was rectangular. During the rest of his
trip, Hammid and Price correctly identified when Hal was relaxing
round a pool or driving through a tropical forest at the base of a
volcano. They were even able to identify the color of his hotel
The most talented remote viewers clearly could enter some framework of consciousness, allowing them to observe scenes anywhere in the world. But the inescapable conclusion of their experiments was that anyone had the ability to do this, if they were just primed for it - even those highly skeptical of the entire notion.
The most important ingredient
appeared to be a relaxed, even playful, atmosphere which
deliberately avoided causing anxiety or nervous anticipation in the
viewer. And that was all, other than a little practice. Swann
himself had learned over time how to separate signal from noise -
somehow divining what was his imagination from what was clearly in
Dunne’s forte, once
again, had been ordinary volunteers, not gifted psychics. In eight
studies using two students with no gift for psychic ability, she
demonstrated that her participants could be successful in correctly
describing target locations. Once she joined Princeton, remote
viewing also became included in PEAR’s agenda.
Besides describing the scene and drawing a picture, the remote viewer would be asked to fill in a form of thirty multiple-choice questions about the details of the scene, which attempted to give flesh to the bones of his or her description.
Meanwhile, the person at the remote site would also fill in the same
form, in addition to taking photos and making drawings. On many
occasions, the target site was selected by one of the REG machines
and handed in a sealed envelope to the traveler, to be opened away
from PEAR; on other occasions, the traveling participant might
choose a target site only after he or she was at a remote site
unknown to anybody back at Princeton.
The overall odds
against chance in the PEAR’s complete remote viewing database was
one billion to one.22
Unlike the initial SRI studies, no one was chosen
because of a gift for telepathy. Furthermore, better scores were
obtained when the traveling
participants were randomly assigned their sites from a large pool of
possibilities, rather than spontaneously selecting it themselves.
This made it unlikely that any common knowledge between the pairs of
participants improved the scores.
The problem with this interpretation is that in many of the experiments, the viewers had been able to see a site as a moving video, as if they had been there on the scene.
This meant that this phenomenon
operated beyond a conventional ELF frequency. Furthermore, using the
special double-walled, copper-screened room, which would block even
low-frequency radio waves, didn’t tarnish anyone’s ability to pick
up the scene or degrade any of the descriptions, even those of
events thousands of miles away.
The remote viewer - usually Hammid or Price - traveled in the submarine 170 meters under the surface near Catalina Island, off the coast of Southern California, while Hal and a government contract monitor picked out a target from a pool of target locations near San Francisco. At the designated time, they went to the site and stayed for 15 minutes.
At this point, Hammid or
Price would try to describe and draw what her or his partner was
looking at 500 miles away.
One might be particularly good at mapping out the site and describing the architectural and topographical features; another would concentrate on the sensory ‘feel’ of the target; yet another would focus on the behavior of the target experimenter, or describe what he was feeling and seeing, as though he was somehow transported and able to see out of the target person’s eyes.24
Many of the viewers operated in ‘real
time’ as though they were somehow there, experiencing the scene from
their target subject’s point of view. When Hal was swimming in Costa
Rica, they saw the scene from his perspective; if he was distracted
by a scene other than the central one he was visiting at the time,
then so were they. It was as though they operated with the senses of
two people - their own and the person on the scene.
Although the basic information came through, sometimes the details were a little blurred. Usually, the scene was flipflopped, so that the subject would see the reverse, as though looking at the scene through a mirror. Targ and Puthoff had wondered whether this might have to do with the ordinary activity of the visual cortex, as they understood it.
The conventional view was that the cortex takes in a scene in reverse, and the brain corrects this by switching the scene. In this instance, the sight isn’t being viewed by the eyes, but the brain still performs its reverse correction of the scene. That is where the similarity with ordinary brain activity ended. Many of the remote viewers had been able to change their perspective, particularly when gently urged to do so by their monitor, so they could move around heights and angles at will, or zoom in for a close up, like a video camera on a crane.
With Pat’s first remote viewing
of the secret Pentagon site, he’d begun his viewing from 1500 feet
up to take the scene in as a whole and then zoomed in for closer
His expectation or imagination would take the place of the receiving end of the channel.25
There was no doubt that information came
through spatially and holistically in flashes
of images. As with the phenomena studied by PEAR and Braud, this
sensory channel appears to make use of the unconscious and
nonanalytic part of the brain. As Dunne and Jahn had found with
their REG machines, the left brain is the enemy of The Field.
Like most scientists, he hated woolly speculation. But there was no doubt that at some level of awareness, we had all information about everything in the world. Clearly, human beacons weren’t always necessary. Even a set of coordinates could take us there. If we could see remote places instantaneously, it argued strongly that it was a quantum, nonlocal effect.
With practice, people could enlarge their brain’s receiving mechanisms to gain access to information stored in the Zero Point Field. This giant cryptogram, continually encoded with every atom in the universe, held all the information of the world - every sight and sound and smell. When remote viewers were ‘seeing’ a particular scene, their minds weren’t actually somehow transported to the scene.
What they were seeing was the information that their traveler
had encoded in quantum fluctuation. They were picking up information
contained in The Field. In a sense, The Field allowed us to hold the
whole of the universe inside us. Those good at remote viewing
weren’t seeing anything invisible to all the rest of us. All they
were doing was dampening down the other distractions.
A remote viewer picks up signals from the target individual and the signal carries an image that is picked up by us at a quantum level. To all but the experienced and the gifted, like Pat Price, this information is received imperfectly, in reverse or in incomplete images, as if something were wrong with the transmitter. Because the information is received by our unconscious mind, we often receive it as we would in a dream state, a memory or a sudden insight - a flash of an image, a portion of the whole.
Price’s success with the Russian site and Swann’s
success with Jupiter suggest that any sort of mnemonic, such as a
map or cipher, can conjure up the actual place. As an idiot savant
has access to impossible calculations in an instant, perhaps the
Zero Point Field enables us to hold an image of the physical
universe inside ourselves, and under certain circumstances we open
our bandwidths wide enough to glimpse a portion of it.
It had been funded entirely by the government, first under Puthoff, then Targ and finally Edwin May, a burly nuclear physicist who’d carried out other intelligence work before. In 1978, the Army had its own psychic spying intelligence unit in place, code-named Grill Flame, possibly the most secret program in the Pentagon, manned by enlisted men who’d claimed some talent in psychic phenomena.
By the time of Ed May’s tenure, a who’s who of scientists consisting of two Nobel laureates and two chairs of department at universities, all chosen for their skepticism, sat on a government Human Use and Procedural Oversight committee. Their task was to review all of the SRI remote viewing research, and to do so they were given unannounced drop-in privileges to SAIC, to guard against fraud.
All concluded that the research was impeccable, and half actually felt the research demonstrated something important.27
this day, the American government has released only the
Semipalatinsk study, one tiny portion of a mountain of SRI
documents, and then only after a relentless campaign by Russell
As far as the US government was concerned, the SRI studies gave America a possible advantage over Russian intelligence. But to the scientists themselves, these results represented far more than a chess maneuver in the Cold War.
It seemed to suggest that because of our constant dialogue with the
Zero Point Field, like de Broglie’s electron, we are everywhere at