WHEN I ARRIVED in England in June 1974, I called Professor Taylor at King’s College. He said that he had set up his experiments, was ready for me, and was looking forward to the tests. The recording for the album was all set, and I told Dr. Taylor that when I finished it I would come over to his laboratories the next day. I felt that I should work with him first, because I had already met him and would feel more comfortable with him. Then I would go to Birkbeck College, where Professor Bohm was planning a different series of tests. In this way, I could work into the experiments gradually, because that nervousness was still with me a little.
The recording session went long into the night, and I didn’t get to bed until four in the morning. I was very tired when I arrived at King’s College. It was a large laboratory with all kinds of equipment and instruments. Dr. Taylor told me that the most important thing he had to do was to rule out any possibility of fraud so the tests would be accepted by scientists; that was one reason for so much equipment.
I agreed with him, because many scientists were constantly bringing this possibility up. I knew no fraud was involved, but it was important that others be convinced too. As Professor Taylor told me, he had worked out instruments to check on any use of force by me in the bending of objects. Besides, every piece of metal had special markings on it to prevent the substitution of an already bent object for the original one. He also was prepared to check for the use of chemicals like mercuric chloride. He told me these substances (which incidentally are poisonous and very hard to obtain) could sometimes distort metals, but they left easily identified markings.
He had carefully prepared many kinds of metal for the experiment, including copper, aluminum, brass, different kinds of steel, tin, lead, silver, and zinc. He also had single crystals of lithium chloride. The instruments used to check the metals during the experiments included a device to measure heat called a thermocouple, some special voltmeters, radiation monitors, special coating on the metals to measure ultraviolet rays, and another instrument to check infrared radiation.
Professor Taylor and his associates had already completed many tests on children who seemed to have picked up the ability to bend metals after watching my BBC-TV broadcast, either by concentration or by touching them lightly. There were adults, too, who showed this ability, but he was most interested in the children, because they seemed better at it, and there was less chance of fraud or trickery with them. The fifteen children he had tested ranged from seven years old up to the early teens. Dr. Taylor was pleased with the results of his tests with them because, he said, success in the experiments was repeatable, time after time, under controlled laboratory conditions.
Before we started the testing, Professor Taylor checked me completely for hidden magnets or chemicals and that sort of thing. That completed, the first test involved brass strip about 10 inches long, which he had taped to a scale much like those used to weigh letters in a post office. Most of the brass strip was sticking out past the edge of the scale, so that I could run my finger lightly along it to try to make the metal bend.
The purpose of the scale was to show if I put any heavy pressure on the metal, which is of course one thing done by magicians in their sleight-of-hand work. The scale was very sensitive, and even the slightest pressure would show up on it. You could even blow on it and it would change. There was a needle on a dial of the scale to show how much pressure was being applied. If you just barely touched the metal, it would show about half an ounce of pressure, which of course wasn’t nearly enough to bend the metal.
I began lightly stroking the metal bar on the top of its surface. The needle on the dial showed that I was putting enough pressure on it to read barely half an ounce. Professor Taylor was watching, carefully taking notes, and observing an automatic recording device that was attached to the scale for a permanent record. The needle never went over the half-ounce mark while I lightly stroked the bar.
Within a minute or so, the bar began bending. The staff was amazed to see it bending upward, against whatever light pressure showed up from my touching the bar with my finger. Then the needle of the dial that was recording the pressure began to bend. It continued to do so, very slowly, after I had finished stroking the strip of brass, until it bent to an angle of 70 degrees. It interested me that the bar, which I had touched, had bent no more than 10 degrees. I hadn’t put my hand anywhere near the indicator needle. Professor Taylor later described the needle’s bending as “disconcerting to say the least.”
But this was only the beginning of a whole series of strange, incredible things that happened in the King’s College laboratory that day. The next experiment involved a strip of aluminum. Embedded into it was a small cylinder covered by a diaphragm that was extremely sensitive to any pressure. The device would set up an electric current to record any physical pressure put on the aluminum strip, Professor Taylor explained. I was told that this tiny instrument cost more than $500.
I stroked the metal lightly, and the strip began bending. But suddenly the pressure device stopped recording, after the strip had bent only slightly. Professor Taylor immediately examined the pressure-sensitive diaphragm on top of the cylinder, and to our horror it began to crumble. A very small hole appeared in the center and then dilated across the whole surface; the diaphragm had completely disintegrated within about ten seconds.
At the same time, however, the aluminum strip continued bending without my touching it for another 30 degrees. Everybody was completely amazed, and Professor Taylor said that the “Geller Effect” had certainly been verified by the test – at the cost of $500 worth of equipment!
Next came the small single crystal of lithium chloride, which was sealed tightly in a plastic container so that it could not be touched. They asked me to hold my hand over the container without touching it to see what effect these energy forces might have on it. Keeping a gap between my hand and the plastic container holding the crystal, I held it there and concentrated on trying to break the crystal up without touching the crystal or the container – apparently an impossible thing to do from a scientific point of view.
Within ten seconds the crystal had broken into several pieces. In addition, an aluminum disc sealed inside another container buckled up almost double, while Professor Taylor held his hand between mine and the container. I could tell that Professor Taylor was surprised. He was becoming more and more amazed as the tests went on. And so was I, in fact, because everything seemed to be working so well in spite of the kind of conditions that can sometimes make me freeze up.
We went into another room where there was more apparatus. They had taken a strip of copper and glued a very thin wire to it that would record, with complete accuracy, any distortion in the metal. In this case, I tried to bend the metal without touching it, by just concentrating on it. I tried hard, just saying to myself, “Bend, bend, bend,” which is what I usually do whether I’m touching the material or not. But nothing happened. We stopped for a minute, since it didn’t seem to be working. Then, suddenly, it began to bend, and the thin measuring wire broke.
Just about the same time, Professor Taylor happened to notice that a piece of brass on a table on the other side of the laboratory had bent. He had placed it there just a few moments before and had checked that it was straight, because he planned to use it in another experiment. Neither of us had been anywhere near it during that time.
As we turned back to continue work, there-was a metallic crash at the far end of the laboratory, at least 20 feet away. When we looked there, the same piece of brass had landed next to the door. Within moments a piece of copper that had been lying next to the brass left the table and landed at the door too. By now we were all astonished. Scarcely had these events jolted us when an iron rod inside a tube that had been on a far table landed behind Professor Taylor’s feet. The rod, which had been straight, had bent as much as the tube would allow.
I was glad that I was in the laboratory of a prestigious university when all this happened, because I reaise how hard it is for anyone to believe such things. In writing about the experience later, Professor Taylor said that he was completely startled and added: “None of the flying objects could have been thrown by Geller, because he was some distance away from them, and would not have been able to get close to them without being spotted.”
Professor Taylor was right. I was nowhere near them at any time. As in many other cases, I was concentrating on something else, and I had no idea what was going to happen. It seemed that the energy forces were playing tricks on all of us, displaying their zany cosmic sense of humor. It was incredible, but it happened. Everything was there in front of us to verify that it took place. I never dreamt that so much was going to happen at once.
After we collected our senses, we returned to the planned series of tests, because they were the only ones that could be used in the scientific paper that Professor Taylor was preparing. They were somewhat like many of the informal preliminary tests at the Stanford Research Institute. In the presence of the Astronaut Mitchell, Russell Targ, Hal Puthoff, and many others, things like this would happen frequently. Some were reasonably controlled and some were not. The paper they hoped that Nature would use did not include any of these or any of the SRI metal-bending tests, because they wanted, as their paper said, “to resolve under conditions as unambiguous as possible the basic issue of whether a certain class of paranormal perception phenomena exists.” It would be better to establish one firm part of the forces completely, the SRI team said, than to have any part of the experience challenged because of supposedly insufficient controls. As far as I was concerned, I knew the metal tests and everything else that happened at SRI were valid, but when they were dealing with such incredible events they wanted to be super-cautious. I can’t argue with that. If and when Nature did accept their paper, though, I would be sorry that all the amazing things that had taken place there were not covered.
However, the King’s College tests were concentrating on the physical part of the story, and I was pleased that they were moving along so well. The tests were startling, in fact. Professor Taylor’s thought, he explained later, from his working with the children triggered by the BBC-TV broadcast and with me, was that without question matter was being changed in shape by entirely new ways. But since physicists didn’t know what forces could do this, the problem was to find out what forces they were. So many strange things had happened to me in the past, I wasn’t sure the forces could be analyzed as part of regular physics or other fields of science. I knew that the experiments I was going through with the scientists could at least prove that they were real and not fake, which would be a good first step to clear the air for more serious scientific studies by scientists everywhere.
In other words, there was so much prejudice and resistance just to the idea of even examining these forces among practically everyone in the field that it was impossible even to begin to learn what was going on. But now a very small group of open-minded scientists was taking it seriously. It was a start.
In working with the experiments at King’s College, I felt that professors like John Taylor and others were really risking a lot of ridicule simply by exploring these new Phenomena. Ridicule is hard to take, for them even more than for me. And yet when something is really important, I guess that risk has to be taken.
Professor Taylor was willing to accept the possibility that metal was actually being deformed by new energy forces, because he was checking it at first hand under controlled conditions. And it was happening not only with me, but with the fifteen children as well. He explained that in some way there had to be a breaking of the bonds between what he called the “metallic ions” and the metallic bonding of the electron gas flowing through these. He explained that it had to end up being known energy, because known effects resulted. If these effects came from unknown forces, it would be very bad for physics, Professor Taylor felt, because it would take the effects out of the area of known physics. He figured that if, after long tests, scientists could understand what was going on, they would then have to try to go beyond what was already set by the laws of physics.
But there were complications. If the effect came from the brain, for instance, science and medicine still didn’t know enough about the brain to make much progress on the question, he said. He thought science had to learn what kind of patterns in the brain could send out radiations that would distort metal.
Two more experiments were performed with two associates there. One was a test with a Geiger counter. There is always a little bit of background radiation in every place on earth. But when I held the counter and concentrated on it, the machine clicked very fast, indicating up to 500 times the normal radiation in the background, he said. It went click-click-click-click-click so fast you could hardly count it. Then it would slow down to normal when I stopped concentrating, even though I still held on to it. Of course, the immediate thought of everybody on this test is that I was holding a piece of radioactive material somewhere. Well, in the first place, I would not be dumb enough to get near any kind of radioactive material even if I knew where to get it. And in the second place, I wouldn’t have been able to make the Geiger counter start going fast and then stop and then start up again when they asked me to, if I had such material with me, on my hands or on my person. Even if I wanted to, I couldn’t have cheated.
Another time, with two other colleagues present he tried me with a compass. Without touching it, I was able to make the needle move about 40 degrees. Then I allowed it to return to north when I stopped the concentration, so that they could check on any possibility of “palming” some kind of magnetic material. Also, they pounded on the floor, tilted the compass, shook it, and did many things to it to see if any such action could have caused the results. It couldn’t. It was uncomfortable having to be under suspicion all the time, but I knew that all this was necessary to verify the experiments. And since Professor Taylor and his two associates were serious and interested, instead of trying to debunk the whole thing, I was able to get good results.
Just as we were getting to the end of the experiments, we heard a loud click at the far end of the room, where the piece of brass that had flown off the table had been lying by the door. It had disappeared completely, and no one had been in the area since it had landed there. Later, Professor Taylor found it under a radiator on the opposite side of the room from where it had been.
Professor Taylor said afterward that these events were almost impossible to comprehend and that he would have dismissed reports of them as nonsense if he had not seen them happen himself in the presence of witnesses. He said he could always take the easy way out, the safe line of thinking that I must have been cheating. But with what happened in the laboratory that day, which was checked and monitored on many different kinds of scientific equipment, he felt he could not take that path.
And there were also the experiments with the children to back up my tests. What impressed Professor Taylor strongly was that the experiments could be repeated time after time, both with them and with me. This, I know, is a big problem with many experiments in parapsychology; there was no way of making sure that the results would happen time after time. Not that I could get the same results 100 per cent of the time, but it was probably close to 90 per cent, and the same with the children he had tested.
I was as interested in the results Professor Taylor had found with the children as he was. It gave me a chance to look at these energy forces outside myself. I was able to see more clearly how people who had not personally witnessed these happenings could have a really hard time believing them and might place them in the screwball category. And of course it was amazing that the powers demonstrated by the children had been transferred or triggered over ordinary radio and television broadcast channels. But this was the way the children he had tested had been discovered.
The average age of the group he worked with was about twelve, half of them boys and half girls. As they stroked the metal specimens, Professor Taylor checked them with instruments, as he had checked me. An interesting thing, he pointed out, was that there were no temperature changes as the metal bent, except for the slightest increase, something like 2 degrees, from body temperature. This, of course, would not be enough to bend any kind of metal, or anything else, under normal conditions. The instruments showed that there was no electrical force involved in the bending. There was also no radiation detected. A thing Professor Taylor called static magnetic fields was ruled out, too.
He kept emphasising what had made him take the “Geller Effect” seriously. The children were reflecting what I was doing, which satisfied him that the critics’ theory of magic tricks was completely wrong. To choose fifteen children at random and to train them as magicians so perfectly that they could foil a whole battery of scientific instruments as well as scientists is surely impossible.
Yet the results Professor Taylor got with the children were phenomenal. Many of his tests with them showed the metal bending upward against the light pressure of their fingers, as had been the case with me. One piece of metal tested this way bent right up to 90 degrees in five minutes of light stroking. One little girl held a copper strip about 5 inches from her forehead and concentrated on it. She didn’t even stroke it, but it bent 10 degrees. Another little girl fractured a chromium-plated nickel silver teaspoon in three minutes by rubbing it very lightly.
I can’t tell you how important this scientific confirmation of the children’s abilities was to me. For the first time since these strange things had been happening to me, I felt relieved of the sole responsibility for events that could be described as – I really don’t like to use the word – miraculous. The only reason I can say it is that I don’t take any personal credit for creating these amazing powers or energy forces; I only demonstrate them. I’m hoping that the mystical side of them will be disposed of and that the forces will be accepted as a real phenomenon. Then, as scientists study them more and more they can start putting theories to them and maybe change the physical laws of science to accommodate them.
At first, it will probably be like all the other phenomena of the earth. Some of them can’t be explained, either. We really don’t know what the universe is, after all. But we have to accept it because it is there.
So we will just have to accept this new phenomenon because it is here. I believe, though, that the explanation of the bending of a key without touching it or by barely touching it will be much easier than the explanation of the universe or other, more complicated, phenomena. I’m convinced there will be an explanation for these forces, and then we can start putting them to use for the benefit of humanity.
I believe that the powers I demonstrate are in everybody but that some people, especially children, have a much higher level of them than others. There is a superior intelligence that triggers this. If I can keep showing these energy forces to people, I think that great good will come of it, in spite of all the controversy they seem to bring about.
With everything working so well at King’s College, I felt better about being tested in the laboratories at Birkbeck College, which I would visit four times. Brendan O’Regan met me with a cab at my hotel, and we drove to Professor Bohm’s laboratories together. The group there was made up of high-ranking scientists, and on one visit Arthur Koestler and Arthur C. Clarke would be important witnesses from the science-literature field. Arthur Clarke, O’Regan explained, would be particularly important because he was highly skeptical of anything paranormal His position was that his books, like 2001 and Childhood’s End, were pure science fiction, and it would be highly unlikely that any of their fantasies would come true, at least in his own lifetime.
Professor Hasted and Professor Bohm, the two physics professors in charge of the project, were both cordial and pleasant when we arrived. They took us to a conference room containing a long table with chairs around it. On one occasion, there were quite a few other people there, including Dr. Ted Bastin, Dr. Jack Sarfatti, an American physicist, and A. V. Cleaver, the man who had worked on rockets for Rolls Royce.
I was excited about these tests. They were entirely separate from the King’s College experiments, and if they worked out they would show that the process could be repeated, studied, and proved valid by more than one scientific group. Counting the Stanford Research Institute series, this would make three controlled test series by scientists, each of them, I hoped, confirming the others. It should help to cancel out the bad effects of Time magazine and the others, whose criticism seemed to be based more on personal bias than on an objective analysis of the facts.
The atmosphere in the Birkbeck physics conference room was good, which helped to calm my nervousness. I couldn’t feel any negative vibrations there in the room. Everybody there seemed to be really eager to find out about the energy forces. They asked me to talk to them a little about my philosophy of this whole strange thing, and I did. They all seemed interested. Arthur Koestler, especially, was interested, because he had written on the paranormal in some of his books. The scientists were all very attentive, but I couldn’t tell what they were feeling. I sensed that I really wasn’t getting through to Arthur C. Clarke, however.
I thought that maybe, if I interrupted my talking and bent his house key for him, Clarke would feel differently. I asked him to hold his key out in his own hand and watch very carefully so that he would know that I wasn’t substituting another key, or taking it away from his hand, or putting pressure on it.
Within moments, his key began bending. And he said: “My God, my eyes are seeing it! It’s bending!” I did the same for Dr. Cleaver from the Rolls Royce Rocket Division, and he was very impressed. Then we went out into the labs to do the real experiments. I felt very strong and confident that day, but still a little scared, as I always seem to be around scientists, at least at first.
Professors Bohm and Hasted led me around the lab to show me the sort of experiments they had set up. They included specially marked keys, metal objects, crystals and discs sealed tightly in glass tubes, spoons, Geiger counters, and even a laser beam they would ask me to try to bend. I asked them to let me try the Geiger counter first. I reached for it, took hold of the handle, and concentrated very hard. The whole group was standing around watching. There must have been eight of them, counting the technicians who had set up the equipment for the scientists. As I concentrated, the Geiger counter suddenly started clicking furiously, just as the other had done for Professor Taylor at King’s College. It was connected with all kinds of instruments to record what was happening on both meters and charts. The background radiation had been checked out at half a count each second. There was a loudspeaker connected to the counter that amplified the clicking, and this in turn was put on magnetic tape to check later. Over a period of about ten minutes, the clicking went up so fast that it seemed to run together, like a “prr” sound, eight times.
Everybody was amazed. At one point, the count went up to 200 times the normal rate. Professor Hasted said that, if I was carrying radioactive material that strong, it would have been very dangerous for me. The clicking would go up fast, then die down again as I stopped concentrating. If I had radioactive material on me, the fast clicking would have continued over the entire ten minutes.
Neither Bohm nor Hasted suggested that the increase of the Geiger count came from a radioactive source. Because a magnetometer showed a deflection at the same moment as the counter, they speculated it was due to an “electromotive force” across the metal case of the counter. Of course, everybody else in the lab tried to reproduce the same effect with the Geiger counter, but with no luck at all. Everyone was mystified – including me.
But they were more startled by an experiment with two thin crystal discs of a material called vanadium carbide. These were sealed inside plastic capsules so that no one could touch them. To prevent any kind of contact with my hand, Professor Hasted held his hand over the capsules and asked me to put my hand on top of his for a few seconds. One of the small capsules moved slightly across the table, a little like a Mexican jumping bean. Professor Hasted said he could feel a very slight warmth as this happened. But more startling still, about half of one of the crystals was missing – it had actually dematerialised in the controlled test.
By that time, Arthur Clarke seemed to have lost all his skepticism. He said something like, “My God! It’s all coming true! This is what I wrote about in Childhood’s End. I can’t believe it.”
Clarke was not there just to scoff. He had wanted things to happen. He just wanted to be completely convinced that everything was legitimate. When he sat` that it was, he told the others: “Look, the magicians and the journalists who are knocking this better put up or shut up now. Unless they can repeat the same things Geller is doing under the same rigidly controlled conditions, they have nothing further to say.”
Clarke told me a little about Childhood’s End. It’s science fiction, of course. It involves a UFO that is hovering over the earth and controlling it. He had written the book about twenty years ago. He said that, after being a total skeptic about these things, his mind had really been changed by observing these experiments.
I could feel during the Birkbeck College tests that everyone was cooperating and interested in seeing that the experiments would work. In other words, I could feel the energy coming from them, especially from Arthur Koestler, who seemed to be most interested. He is such a beautiful man. I felt great calmness and peace with him.
The experiments went on for two days, and they were all successful except the attempt to bend the laser beam. I couldn’t do anything with that at all. But, summing up his thoughts after the series, Professor Bohm said that it was his observation that these things that had happened, both through me and with the children tested, were mainly coming from the unconscious mind, and that the conscious mind sometimes became more of a hindrance than a help. He also said that conjuring tricks had to be watched for, and that they had taken great pains to check for all the usual things that magicians use. These included the use of a long hair attached to an object by beeswax; chemicals like mercuric chloride; bending and flexing objects to a point of softness beforehand; and that sort of thing. All these and other tricks were watched for and prevented.
Bohm and Professor Hasted felt that they should ape preach the study of these new forces the way science had approached magnetic and electrostatic effects. These were impossible to account for given the state of knowledge at the time they were first discovered, but the effects were still noticed and observed.
In their summary they wrote: “We feel if similar tests are made later, enough instances of this kind will probably accumulate, so that there will be no room for reasonable doubt that some new process is involved here, which cannot be accounted for or explained in terms of the present known laws of physics. Indeed we already feel that we have gone some distance toward this point.”
These were very strong words for prominent physicists. And I learned that Professor Taylor at King’s College felt the same way regarding the results of my tests there. Hasted told a British reporter for the Daily Mail of London: “It is time that scientists stood up and were counted on this issue. A series of things have happened when Mr. Geller was in our laboratory. We have not only worked with keys and so on, but with single crystals and metal objects in capsules. We have identified the metal objects and controlled our tests very carefully. I am quite confident science will get to the bottom of it. Of course, science may be changed.”
He went on to say that the problem is not to ask whether the phenomenon can occur, but how it occurs. “It is a very important phenomenon,” he said. “It will tell us new things about human beings. The problem of understanding it will be one of the most exciting pieces of research of the next few years.”
Professor Taylor wrote out the strongest statement of all:
I have tested URI GELLER in my laboratory at King’s College, London University, with specially designed apparatus.
The GELLER effect – of metal bending – is clearly not brought about by fraud. It is so exceptional that it presents a crucial challenge to modern science, and could even destroy the latter if no explanation became available.
As a scientist I have been investigating some of the dozens of people to appear to have the ability to bend pieces of metal, first demonstrated so efficiently by URI GELLER. Some I have tested can even achieve this without contact, as can URI himself. Others only can do this when they hear GELLER or see him on TV.
Results have been written up In two scientific papers and two further papers are in preparation, as well as a book: Super Minds: An Inquiry into the Paranormal.
Both groups – King’s College and Birkbeck – began working on scientific papers regarding the tests. They, too, felt that Nature was the best target for the papers because of its prestige.
Meanwhile, I was being swept up again in all the details of recording the album in Germany, followed by some time out with friends in Italy. I needed the rest because I had a long series of lecture-demonstrations lined up in South Africa. I had accepted this tour only on the condition that I could perform before black audiences there, as well as white. This took quite a bit of arranging, but they finally agreed because I would not make the tour there otherwise.
As I was getting ready to go from Europe to South Africa, the news that I had been waiting for all these months finally came. Nature was definitely going to accept the Stanford Research Institute scientific paper. This was the major breakthrough we had long been hoping for.
Little did I know at the time, though, how wrong I was to think that this would put a stop to all the criticism and prejudice that had built up over the years.
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