Chapter 11


Hardening, softening and magnetisation

Softening and hardening
At a very early stage in metal-bending investigations I posed the following questions. Is the phenomenon to be described as metal-bending, temporary metal-softening, or both? Is the bending due to the operation of ‘paranormal forces’, or is the metal changed in such a way that its yield point is temporarily decreased, so that relatively minor forces – gravitational, internal stress relaxation or human – would then be sufficient to deform it?

The second alternative, a temporary decrease in yield point, seems to be most likely. If the yield point remained normal, then moments of the order of several Newton-metres in magnitude would be necessary to bring about many of the bends. Assuming that such large forces could be paranormally produced, we must ask why they are always so well balanced that the metal specimen never flies across the room when it deforms and why the hand that holds it experiences no force? And why, when one suspends the specimen from its electrical connections, does it swing only slightly, if at all, as it bends?

The answers must lie in the internal origin of the forces. The metal specimen behaves as a sort of automaton, which is instigated to deform itself.
If the yield point is temporarily decreased, then any residual internal stress will be able to relax. In an early experiment I offered Belinda H. twin pieces of brass pinned together; one was annealed to remove residual stress, the other not; it was the latter which bent slightly, without the application of force; apparently, in this instance, a role could be played by residual internal stress.

Let us consider the properties of the metal after a paranormal bend, particularly its hardness, which is related to the yield strength. When a metal specimen is deformed normally, the atoms in the crystal lattice move over each other and rearrange themselves in such a way that the resulting metal is harder than before in the region of the deformation. This is known as work-hardening. Eventually this increase in hardness, being accompanied by an increase in yield strength, causes the deformation to cease, even though the applied force has not ceased.

When the normal deformation has ceased, we may measure the hardness and demonstrate that it has increased. This was also the case in the early measurements on paranormal bends which Dr Desvaux made for me (chapter 3). On the whole these data are similar to what would have been obtained from measurements on normally bent specimens. A copper single crystal was bent under good observation and the data are displayed in Figure 3.1. Although the bend was almost certainly paranormal, there was some hardening at the bend.

The only material whose hardness was found by Dr Desvaux not to have increased was the triple eutectic alloy of 54% Bi, 26% Sn, 20% Cd. This is a brittle material, but since it has a low melting-point, deformation by creep is possible. Although the times taken for some paranormal bends on this material have been incredibly short (see chapter 3), any structural changes are probably similar to those occurring in normal deformation by creep; and in these changes there is virtually no work-hardening. We found no evidence of permanent softening, but at least in this case there was no permanent hardening. In chapter l3 some further evidence for quasi-viscous creep is described.
There is some occasional qualitative evidence of quite marked temporary softening during the paranormal bending. The plasticization of a teaspoon by Uri Geller has been described in chapter 1, and, while nothing quantitative emerges, it is very difficult for me as observer to avoid the conclusion that temporary softening occurred. But there is nothing to show that any permanent softening occurred; in this case the specimen was used for fracture analysis rather than hardness measurements.

There is further evidence for marked temporary softening. Video-records have been made of the plasticization of the neck of a teaspoon and of other metal strips by Stephen North. Alison Lloyd has claimed to have picked pieces from metal cutlery with her fingernails. I have examined a coin bearing the shape of a thumb; but there was no permanent softening. There is indeed very little evidence that permanent softening is found on paranormally bent specimens which must have been temporarily soft. As examples of such specimens we select Willie G.’s abnormal plane bends in aluminium strip of cross-section 0.75 X 6.5 mm.

When such bends are photographed at high magnification, as in Plate 11.1, fine radial creases are seen at the inside edge. These creases do not appear at the outside edge; they are probably associated with compressive stresses. The abnormal plane bends could not have been produced without some local lowering of the yield point, or softening; but there is no buckling. If there were temporary softening in the region of the bend, then only a small stress would be necessary to form an unbuckled abnormal plane bend in this thin aluminium strip. In attempts to produce similar bends by normal means we have not been able to avoid local markings, and have not produced the inside edge creases of Plate 11.1. There is a strong supposition that the abnormal plane bends must have involved temporary softening; and therefore micro-hardness measurements were made on the outside and inside thin edges, and on the neutral plane. However, the usual elevation of hardness on both the outside and inside edges was recorded; so permanent softening still seems to be an event of great rarity, having been recorded in only a very few of the Crussard-Bouvaist-Girard experiments described in chapter 13. In these events the paranormal action of Jean-Pierre Girard did not produce permanent deformation; but there is no doubt that local permanent softening occurred – the measurements are quite unambiguous. But this effect was found to be rarer than local permanent hardening.
Evidence for the abnormal suppression of the elastic component during paranormal deformation may be found in the data from resistive strain gauges. When a normal extension force (or bending moment) beyond the yield point acts upon a metal specimen, the temporary extension is greater than the subsequent permanent extension, because the contribution from the elastic component cannot be neglected. One can prove the point for oneself by pulling suddenly to produce a permanent stretch on a weak spring, and noting the extent to which the temporary stretch exceeds the permanent stretch.

Suppose that the temporary, elastic component of the extension (or bend) were to be paranormally suppressed; then the variation of extension with time would be more gradual, and at no moment of time would its value exceed the permanent value. Such behaviour is not uncommon in the signals chart-recorded in strain gauge experiments, especially in the Nicholas Williams sessions. A signal shown as e in Figure 4.4 demonstrates the behaviour, although it is atypical in having sharp pulses superposed upon it. More typical examples (not illustrated) are B 8(2), C 2(2), D 3(2), D 4(2), D 11(1), E 5(1), E 6(2), E 8(2), E 9(2) and E 11(2) (Table 5.1). These signals are evidence for the absence of hardening during paranormal deformation. Furthermore, in the Nicholas Williams sessions and elsewhere, many elastic signals in one sense, whether extension or compression, are followed immediately by elastic component suppression signals in the opposite sense. Examples include B 2(l), B 2(2), B 6(2), B 7(2), C 1(2), C 2(1), C 6(2), D 5(1), D 7(1), F 2(l), F 4(1), F 5(2) and G 4(3) (Table 5.1). In these cases there is no elastic signal in the correct sense to cause the observed permanent deformation. It follows that here, also, the elastic component of the deformation is suppressed. It is as though we could compress metal by pulling it and allowing it to spring back.

Dr Crussard (chapter 13) has affirmed that in the video-records of Jean-Pierre Girard’s bending of thick aluminium bars, the elastic component suppression effect can actually be seen. The bar passes directly from its original shape to its final shape. Of course in a gradual bending a large number of very small elastic effects might take place, individually too small to see on the video-record. But there exist records which show relatively sudden bendings, without corresponding elastic components, and on these the effect is detectable. We conclude that there are both permanent hardening and temporary softening effects in paranormal metal-bending. Indeed, the structural changes which produce these can probably be taken to be the primary effects from which the visible changes follow.
Temporary softening, as is shown by evidence from the Stephen North video-tapes, can maximize and decay within a small fraction of a second. This is relevant to the problem of the tight single twists of cutlery shown in Plate 1.1. Some metal-benders, realizing that the softening can appear and vanish very quickly, wonder how the spoon twists in this short period of time. It would, of course, twist if it was already under torsional stress, being held so between right and left hand; but this a metal-bender is reluctant to do, since it would look as though unnecessary manual force were being applied.

The ‘trick’ is that the torsional stress is inertial in origin, being applied by twirling the spoon, rotating it between the palms of the hands rubbed together, or throwing it in the air with slight spin, or ‘English’. These applications of stress look ‘innocent’, because the feature of the sudden softening is not yet understood by observers. One may learn a lot from throwing in the air and otherwise manipulating a bisected spoon, with the handle and bowl joined by a short length of thin tape. Intuitively the metal-bender learns that twists are puzzling and that they can be brought about by such manipulation; but he probably does not understand them in detail.

Magnetization
Some structural changes occurring in metals involve the alignment of the magnetic dipoles with the formation of ferromagnetic domains. The appearance of ferromagnetic phases has been reported in paranormal metal-bendings.
The French researchers, Dr Crussard and Dr Bouvaist, whose work is described in chapter 13, have observed the appearance, under the action of Jean-Pierre Girard, of 1.9 per cent of a magnetic phase in a specimen of non-magnetic chromium steel; no deformation took place. Each magnetic region could be clearly discerned, the susceptibility being measured by a detector which traversed the metal. Magnetic susceptibility measurements are of course routine in many metallurgical laboratories, and the monitoring of this specimen of steel before and after its exposure to Girard presented no difficulties. Indeed this type of experiment – that of witnessed exposure to metal of a strong subject and monitoring some physical property before and afterwards – is the most satisfactory from the point of view of the scientist. The technique minimizes the possibility of fraud on the part of the subject; the result is unaffected by the movement of permanent magnets concealed about the person; the responsibility for the experiment is placed securely upon the shoulders of the scientist.

I myself observed anomalous magnetic susceptibility of a specimen of molybdenum exposed to Uri Geller, as described in chapter 1. A crystal of molybdenum of outstanding purity (>=0.999995) and therefore small magnetic susceptibility (9 X l0^-5 cgs units) was exposed on a steel plate, under good conditions of observation, to Uri Geller’s action. He did not touch the crystal at any time; his hands were well above it, and Dr Sarfatt’s hand was between Geller’s hand and the crystal, when a small bend developed suddenly. I was not expecting any change of properties of the crystal, but when I showed it to photographer David Rookes he picked it up with tweezers which were slightly magnetized, as they sometimes are in physics laboratories. We noticed that the crystal adhered to the tweezers, and this prompted me to suspend the crystal from a fibre and make measurements of its movement in a magnetic field. I never solved the problem of why the exposed crystal came to possess a large magnetic susceptibility, only a thousand times smaller than that of iron, but I was able to arrange the determination of upper limits on the ferromagnetic impurities in the crystal as follows:(26)
Fe <=6 X l0^-5
Co 2.7 X 10^-7 ± 2 X 10^-8
Ni <=1.5 X 10^-3

The permanent magnetization of ferromagnetic cutlery by paranormal bending can be investigated with the minimum of equipment. Much stainless steel cutlery in the home is weakly magnetised, due to normal causes such as the earth’s magnetic field, local electric currents, children’s magnets, etc.; perhaps some of it is magnetic when it leaves the factory. The usual configuration is with one pole on the handle, and one pole at a prong of a fork or on the bowl of a spoon. With a miniature compass one may with practice readily find the approximate positions of these poles, making certain by careful search that there are no subsidiary poles.

But when a curled bend or tight twist is produced paranormally (as for example in the Nicholas Williams cutlery bent during his first latchkey strain gauge run), subsidiary poles are usually found close to the bend, as follows:
Handle tip Either side of curled bend Prongs
N SN S
Subsidiary poles can be produced normally by the following techniques:
1 fracture;
2 heating the centre of the neck to above the Curie point;
3 prolonged hammering of the centre of the neck;
4 demagnetization followed by re-magnetization in a different way.
But as yet I have been unable to produce subsidiary poles merely by physical bending of the centre of the neck. It appears that some structural change has been brought about in the Nicholas Williams cutlery (and also in some of Stephen North’s and Mark Henry’s) by a mechanism we do not understand. I would not claim complete confidence about such findings, and they may well turn out to be of doubtful validity; but the simplicity of the equipment necessary to make the observations surely makes them valuable to researchers. It is also an amusing family game. Normal household cutlery can also be magnetised NSN, SNS or in more complicated ways. The effects of paranormal bending on these pieces might be complicated, so that they should be avoided when conducting household experiments on metal-bending.

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