J. Soc. Psych. Res., 50 (June 1980) 379-398

J. B. Hasted and D. Robertson

In issues (1, 2, 3, 4) of the Journal of the Society for Psychical Research the dynamic strain data obtained without touch on strips of metal suspended in the vicinity of child ‘paranormal metal-benders’ were reported and analysed. In this contribution we consider not only dynamic strains in the metal but also structural, electrical and psychological effects. Most of the data was obtained with Stephen North, now sixteen years of age, as a subject, but new experiments have also been conducted with Willie G. Julie Knowles, and Clifford W. aged eleven.

Recent resistive strain gauge sessions have included investigations of localisation, and of surfaces of action configuration.


Previous reported investigations3 of the localisation of synchronous dynamic strain signals were conducted with three strain gauges arranged in line along a metal strip. It was found that in general the centre strain gauge signal was the largest of three synchronous signals. It appeared that the strains were centred within a “region of action”, of variable position, size and power. Each set of three synchronous signal magnitudes were fitted uniquely to a Gaussian [I=I0exp{-a (x-x0)2} of width 1/a and centre x0]. Thus the variation of a, x and I0 from one synchronous signal triplet to the next could be studied statistically; some consistency was found in the position and size of the region of action. Negative values of a were only found rarely.

In recent sessions we have repeated these experiments with five strain gauges arranged along a metal strip. A dummy strain gauge4, circuitry and sixth chart recorder channel were included in order to avoid confusing any electrical artifacts with paranormal dynamic strains. Five data points will not in general fit exactly on a Gaussian curve, but we can nevertheless compute the best fit to each signal quintet and the least squares error. The data for session SNHH with Stephen North are analysed in Table 1. and the fitting of signals from a pair of events is illustrated in Figure 1; one is among the best fits and one among the worst. Thus the generalisation that there is nearly always a bell-shaped pattern of signal magnitudes, or ‘region of action’, remains valid.

Four further sessions have been devoted to the study of distribution of signal magnitudes along a single metal strip. In each session five strain gauges were used, equidistant and separated from their neighbours by 3.5 cm. The metal strips, typically 20.3 x 1.1 x 0.11 cm. were deployed in one of three orthogonal directions with respect to the subject; the left hand of Stephen North extended to about six inches from the nearest end of the strip. In one session, JJ, a permanent bend was observed, and the disturbance was such that it has not been thought worthwhile to analyze the data. In three other sessions, Gaussians were fitted to the data: in session K, only 10 signal quintets out of a total of 20 were at all suitable, but in session DD all except one of 14 quintets recorded were readily fitted. In Session HH, 26 quintets were recorded, and only one was entirely unsuitable. After the first 12, Stephen North was asked to concentrate on producing the ‘action’ in a region further from his outstretched left hand than he had already produced action. It was not possible at this stage to conduct this experiment double-blind. Nevertheless, the chart-recorded data were computer-fitted, the parameters of the Gaussian being reproduced in Table 2. Inspection of the values of x0 and their mean shows that in fact Stephen was successful in moving the action away from him by 11.4 cm.


Table 1

Gaussian parameters for the events of Session SN HH Before instruction





E=d/Ö (s /n)





























































Mean values






After instruction





E=d/Ö (s /n)



































































The previously defined3 indecision parameter Á for the sessions had the following


DD 0.18

HH 0.40

JJ 0.30

KK 0.05

There is clearly much irregularity in the spatial variation of signal magnitudes. This may be termed ‘localisation of the action’; its lower spatial limits may be investigated by increasing the spatial resolving power of the array of uniformly spaced strain gauges. If y is the separation between neighbouring strain gauges, then analysis by means of a trigonmetric series


yields a series of parameters a – e specific to each signal quintet. For a simple bell-shaped region of action the parameters c, d, e decrease successively. But when fine structure dominates e > d > c. The parameter L = c/e could be regarded as a measure of the localisation of each signal quintet.

A feeling for its meaning can be obtained by an inspection of Figure 2; the quantity L has been computed for actual Gaussian curves of widths shown, and a histogram of the L values calculated from signal quintets is plotted on the same scale.

New miniaturized strain gauges have become available, particularly suitable for localisation studies. Micro Measurements Type EA-09-031-MF-12 is capable of considerable spatial resolving power, and is illustrated to scale in Figure 2 (inset). The session with Stephen North using this multiple strain gauge resulted in localisation parameters L which are statistically summarized as a histogram in Figure 2. It should be stressed that there is no proof that when the localisation is as small as this, the extent of the region of action is as large as usual ( 20 cm). It would be necessary to conduct high resolving power and low resolving power observations simultaneously if both upper and lower limits were required.

Synchronous Strains and “Surface of Action” Configuration

In earlier studies with Nicholas Williams using two and three “sensors” (small independent metal specimens each carrying one strain gauge), many synchronous signals were observed with the subject at several metres distant.2 Most synchronisms were obtained when the sensors lay on a vertical surface stretching radially outwards from the subject (a ‘surface of action’); but since a minority of synchronous signals were obtained with the sensors arrayed around the subject and equidistant from him, it was postulated that the surface of action could sometimes display curvature. It was recognised in our discussion of these studies that other interpretations would be consistent with the data, and it was stated that further observations would be made.

We have now extended the observations, with Stephen North as the subject. Normally five sensors were used simultaneously, the remaining chart recorder channel being used for the dummy strain gauge.

Table 2 summarizes the data analysis for these sessions. We define the synchronism ratio S for an event as the ratio of the number of the synchronous signals to the total number of sensors exposed. The mean value of S, denoted S , is calculated for a session. We also tabulate a mean value S w, weighted according to signal magnitudes. It is clear from Table 2 that both S and S w, decrease in the order RV > RH > EV . This is in accord with the Nicholas Williams sessions2 from which it was deduced that the surface of action was normally radial (R) and vertical (V).

Table 2

Data analysis summary for surface of action experiments.



Number of sensors

Horizontal or Radial Extent (cm)

Vertical Extent (cm)

Number of Signals


S w









































Stephen North behaves differently from Nicholas Williams in sessions in that he cannot rid himself of the idea, which seems to be correct in his case, that metal-bending action usually extends from his hands or arms. Normally he points one hand, or even one finger, in the direction of the sensors. When these are mounted in a radial configuration, it is natural that there are synchronisms on several sensors; the ‘surface of action’ might be regarded as an invisible extension of the subject’s arm. The relevance to ‘observational’ theories of psychokinesis is obvious.


The occurrence of equidistant (E) sensor synchronisms in Stephen North’s sessions was therefore of particular interest. It became apparent to me during my witnessing of them that possibly both hands might be involved. As will be seen from Table 2, the horizontal distances between the synchronous sensors were quite small; although Stephen was asked to produce action on the entire array, he was accustomed to point his left hand at the left-hand sensor; on occasion the right hand would also point as though he felt that this was the natural way to produce a wider action. When both right and left hands were pointed, synchronisms would sometimes occur at the sensor at which they were being pointed. Thus the conception of the surface of action as an extension of the arms is somewhat strengthened and it is possible that more than one surface can be produced by one subject.

A pair of remarkable sessions was held with Stephen North using one sensor strapped to the forearm and one suspended in front of him. The forearm sensor was in the form of a circular disc with a rosette of three strain gauges at the centre; with this equipment the direction of the individual strain vectors can be determined4. The disc was mechanically decoupled from the forearm by its being mounted only on its screened leads, so that the disc was raised about 1 cm above the hairs on the forearm. If signals were obtained on this sensor, the experiment would show to what extent the strain vectors were aligned along the forearm. Also there is the question of whether synchronous signals would be observed on forearm sensor and suspended sensor.

The data from these sessions do not support the notion that the forearm sensor strain vectors show any tendency to be aligned along the forearm; the angular distribution appears to be fairly random.

However the arrangement in time of the dynamic strain signals on the forearm and suspended sensors turns out to have tantalizing features, as will be seen from Figure 3. It appears that each set of signals on the forearm is followed after an interval by a signal on the suspended sensor (indicated by a diagonal broken line). Of course this is only one of several possible interpretations but it is nevertheless worthy of notice. What is surprising is the very long series of times between the corresponding signals. If this interpretation is correct, a very slow speed of the surface of action is indicated.

Touching of the Sensors

It is necessary to devise a policy of protection against touching of the sensor by the subject. We have on four occasions successfully obtained video or moving picture records of strain gauge sessions, including in the field of vision both sensors, the hands and the moving chart pens. It cannot be denied that signals in these sessions were not always plentiful, but at least no evidence of touch was apparent in the records.

Another investigator5 has reported such evidence to us and noticed that strain gauge signals appeared both when touching was photographed and also when the record showed no touch. The subject was permitted to hold one end of a thick bar in his hand, and the strain gauges were mounted at the other end which was exposed to the action without touch by the other hand. It appeared that the subject regarded the ability to produce manual signals as a sort of insurance against the possibility of his not being able to produce paranormal signals, which he was able to do without great diffculty. As is often the case in psychic research, a mixture of paranormal and natural effects had to be encountered.

With child subjects the tendency to touch is less well developed than with an adult psychic: we have observed very little touch but on one occasion a tendency was observed to snatch at the sensor when the noise of the moving pen on the chart record was heard; thus the hand arrived distinctly late. Nevertheless, this could not be tolerated and, on some excuse, a moving target was substituted which cured the tendency. Partial screening has the same curative effect. Also we installed a highly sensitive electrical ‘touch detector’ similar in operation to the touch panel switches used in elevators. It seems to have proved its value mostly as a deterrent.

Electrical Effects

During a session with Stephen North using both electrostatic touch detector and resistive strain gauges, a particularly strong permanent deformation signal of a metal disc was recorded whilst a close observation of the hands was being maintained; it was clear beyond doubt that the closest hand (the left) was at least four inches from the metal and was stationary. But Stephen cried out that he felt a prick at the end of his thumb at the moment when the chart-recorder pens were heard to move. Furthermore, the touch detector recorded a signal which must have been caused by the passage of a pulse of electrical current to the metal. I quickly examined Stephen’s thumb and a tiny mark could be seen. When the finger was squeezed, a miniscule drop of blood appeared. Moreover, the metal disc showed a deformation through about 20°.

It has been believed for some time that paranormal electrical effects can sometimes take place in physical mediumship. Eusapia Palladino and Stanislava Tomcyzk were able to discharge gold leaf electroscopes by holding the fingers at 5-6 cm distance12. This action took place “suddenly at the end of a certain time; it required ‘an effort’ of will and was accompanied by tingling at the ends of her fingers”. The similarity to the present observation is striking and significant. Brookes-Smith6 reported the development of temporary conduction paths on the surface of the table in sitter-group experiments; these were synchronous with mechanical effects. An early experiment7 conducted with Uri Geller pointed strongly towards the paranormal production of electric current in a stainless steel tube.

In the winter of 1978-9 we decided to search systematically for electric signals at metal electrodes exposed both to Stephen North and to Matthew Manning; for this purpose a sensitive low impedance input operational amplifier was built, the improved circuit being shown in Figure 4. Because of the low input impedance of this instrument, it is insensitive to electrically or magnetically induced artifacts produced without touch of the exposed input electrode. Although actual touch produces electrostatic artifacts, no witness or observer could produce signals when the hands were stationary and separated from the electrode by a few inches. Nevertheless Stephen North was able to produce spontaneous signals, and Matthew Manning was also able on request to produce signals correlated in time with violent circular motions of his arms. Ultimately these were found to be capacitative in origin, there being an unusually high static charge on Matthew Manning’s hands. It is therefore of great importance that the hand is not moved violently during the sessions. A motionless hand will not induce dynamic signals, unless considerable electrostatic charge were to move rapidly along the skin – itself an effect which might be accorded the status of paranormality.

The spontaneous dynamic signals produced also in static hand experiments with Julie Knowles could be interpreted as a production of a surplus or deficiency of carriers (electrons) in the metal electrode. [She, on occasions, could produce a correct sequence of positive and negative signals asked for by the experimenter! DR] Tests were made for atmospheric ionisation by means of a four-inch diameter ferrite ring wound with a toroidal coil and connected to a separate amplifier. Placed between the subject’s hand and the metal electrode, this will detect, by induction, time variations of atmospheric current. Although dynamic signals were first observed, these disappeared on screening the coil; they appear to have been induced paranormally directly onto the wires of the coil. Thus we have found no evidence for atmospheric currents. [In later conduction path experiments with frequencies in the tens of kilo Hertz these were picked up using shielded rings. DR]

It is apparent from sessions with Stephen North that some electrical signals are synchronous with dynamic strain signals whilst some are not. Two distinctly different types of action are involved. It may be that the electrical detector is as sensitive a detector of psychokinetic action as is a resistive strain gauge. Greater care with electrical screening of strain gauges is necessary than had at first been anticipated. When an unscreened strain gauge is on metal which faces directly towards the hand of the metal-bender, it is possible that it may receive electrical signals. In our earliest strain gauge experiments2, the screening was thorough. In some later experiments with incompletely screened strain gauges,3 these were mounted on the metal face opposite to the metal-bender; and of course with strain gauge insulated from the metal.

Our experiments on electrical effects are as yet under-developed; the most probable interpretation is that short bursts of charge can be controllably produced remotely and paranormally on, or in, remote metal targets. This is in line with the early interpretations of the effects produced by Eusapia Palladino. Both Langevin and Curie believed that no atmospheric ionisation was produced12.

Structural Effects

In the pioneer studies of metal-bender Jean-Pierre Girard by Crussard and Bouvaist8 three paranormally produced structural effects were reported: anomalous hardening, anomalous softening, conversion of austenite to martensite.

The anomalous hardening was confirmed by the authors4; electron microscopic examinations carried out by Crussard and Bouvaist showed that in the region of anomalous hardening a high density of dislocations, especially loop dislocations, were present. There was no permanent deformation of the specimen although a very slight paranormal thinning took place.

The question therefore arose: were the paranormally produced dislocations linked quantitatively to strain gauge signals? We attempted to investigate by arranging that Dr. Bouvaist would monitor the dislocation density on an aluminium alloy specimen before and alter its exposure, with resistive strain gauges mounted, to sessions with Stephen North. In three sessions a large number of resistive strain gauge peaks was obtained.

The dimensions of the specimen were 6 x 4x 0.2 cm, and the six gauges were mounted after the manner of the pips on a playing card, but with three orientated orthogonally to the other three. However, more than ten recorded permanent deformations occurred during the sessions and since the specimen finished up smoothly curved in orthogonal directions, it is difficult to estimate just how much this contributed to the formation of dislocations. The analysis showed a high density of dislocations throughout the specimen but unfortunately the differential between pre-exposure and post-exposure values showed insufficient variations to enable correlations with the strain gauge data to be meaningful. Two subsequent experiments with ultra-pure perfect silicon crystal waters resulted in multiple fractures. It cannot therefore be claimed that there is quantitative correlation between dislocation density and strain gauge records.

The hardness enhancement when dislocation densities are increased is in line with metallurgical expectations. But an interpretation of the anomalous softening must be sought along different lines. In these cases Crussard and Bouvaist reported the appearance of melting at grain boundaries, seen in low magnification electron micrographs. This behaviour is normally characteristic of quasi-viscous creep, which takes place at temperatures close to the melting point. Thus what is suggested is a locaised microscopic action whilst the bulk of the metal hardly changes temperature at all. This action may be related to three previously reported findings.

1) The rare ‘plasticization of metal’ in which temporary local softening, without heat, is observed7.

2) The anomalous accelerated bendings of specimens of the triple eutectic alloy of bismuth, tin and cadmium1 which has been inferred from the absence of hardening enhancement at the deformation to take place by creep.

3) Electron micrographs showing local melting of a fractured gold ring reported by the late Dr Wilbur Franklin7. Although these have been criticized because of the possibility that the condition could have been caused by cavitation during brazing in the manufacture, the question must remain open.

The final paranormal structured effect reported by Crussard and Bouvaist8 has been the conversion of regions of high carbon steel from a metastable state into a stable state: from austenite into martensite. Such conversions can also be brought about by heat (to 600° C) or by violent mechanical action such as shot peening.

The diagnosis of these regions is carried out by electron micrography but a useful subsidiary technique has also been used. Based on the fact that the martensite is ferromagnetic whilst the austenite is not. Ferromagnetic regions are detected by means of the spatial dependence of the relative motions of specimen and permanent magnet in various designs of experiment.

This reported result is consistent with a finding made by the present authors, together with Elizabeth Rauscher, using commercial stainless steel cutlery. Such cutlery is usually slightly ferromagnetic, and if a search is made for poles with a small compass needle, then the normal configuration is with two poles only, one at each end. Such items, after checking for absence of subsidiary poles, are offered to metal-benders. It has been found in eleven cases that cutlery paranormally bent sharply or twisted tightly shows subsidiary poles on each side of the bend or twist. Such poles cannot easily be produced in deformation by mechanical force; violent hammering or heat treatment are found to be necessary.

The subsidiary poles are evidence that there is a region at the bend or twist in which no path of ferromagnetic domains existing between the ends of the specimen; the entire cross-section of the specimen must have passed into the non-ferromagnetic phase.

Although the tests here reported are of a qualitative nature, and have not been performed a large number of times, it is likely that a structural phenomenon is responsible for observations.

The twisted spoons are themselves evidence of some kind of structural change. Figure 5 shows a close-up photography of a witnessed twist brought about in the hands of the sixteen-year-old Japanese metal-bender Masuaki Kiyota. When a similar stainless steel spoon is twisted by the application of torque using tools, fracture will occur before a pitch as tight as that shown in Figure 5 is reached. This is because the stress-strain curve for all metals, which is linear in the limit of small stress, eventually flattens and passes through a maximum at which point fracture must occur. It follows that at no point on the metal can the strain (relative elongation) exceed a certain experimentally well known value characteristic of each metal and typically in the region of 0.2. Neglecting hump-back distortion, the strain e 0 at the short surface of a bar of width 2r twisted through pitch p is given by

e 0+1=(p2+4p 2r2)½/p

A pitch as tight as that sometimes found in the teaspoons of Masuaki Kiyota would demand values of e0 in excess of 2, which would be unobtainable without some temporary change in the stress-strain characteristic, which is of course structure-dependent. Attempts are in progress to monitor permanent structural change on the twisted region by microhardness measurement.

A permanent structural change effect has been observed in the anomalous plane bends produced by Willie G on strips on brass. Such thin strips (7 mm x 0.5 mm) can be bent with a minimum of force but only out of the plane of the flat surface: an anomalous in-plane bend is much more difficult to achieve mechanically and is usually brought about by the use of rollers. Willie G is able to bring about anomalous in-plane bends by stroking. Annealed specimens of a -brass (70% Cu, 30% Zn) were prepared by Mycock and Smith and anomalous plane bends were achieved by Willie G. Etching allows a distinction to be made between regions of a -brass and b -brass (60% Cu, 40% Zn), which appear darker. Inspection of the records shows that the dense b -brass regions appear at the anomalous plane bend. It is not supposed that the stoichometric composition of the alloy changes macroscopically but rather that structural transformation occurs locally, redistributing the regions of different structure. This finding is to be taken as preliminary and further work is in progress.

Psychology and Micro-PK

Previous investigators of psychokinesis have obtained information from which generalizations might be made about the psychological states of the subjects at the moments at which action is recorded.9 It is apparent that the resistive strain gauge in a suspended piece of metal is a suitable piece of equipment for this type of experimentation. This idea was put forward by Julian Isaacs who has commenced the study of audio records made of conversations taking place during recorded strain gauge sessions10. These are somewhat in the tradition of ‘sitter-group experiments’ in which the expected psycho-kinetic events are paranormal rapping phenomena, similar to ‘spirit rapping’, and table movements.

Isaacs distinguishes two interpretations: that of Whitton11, who proposes that the subject’s unconscious is triggered by certain background noises of which he possesses hidden fears due to their association in childhood with emotional conflict, and that of Batcheldor9 who proposes that a sudden distracting stimulus, producing a changed state of consciousness, can be accompanied by a momentary state in which the action can occur. Isaacs finds that10 the second interpretation is not in implausible agreement with his observations. In the present paper it will be helpful to record the relevance of our own experiences.

A sudden relief of ‘concentration’ has certainly been found by us to be an effective inducer of signals. Physicist Dr R. B. started training himself in transcendental meditation and became confident that with sufficient practice he would be able to produce signals. After several weeks of solitary practice, we held a session with him. During the meditation period no signals were observed but immediately upon resuming conversation a group of substantial signals appeared.

With Stephen North and his family it was commonplace of the first few sessions that after a period of concentration, a burst of signals would appear when Mrs North suggested a break for tea. As soon as this was recognized by Stephen himself, without help from me, the signals failed to appear on cue.

This example might be interpreted in an alternative way; namely, that Stephen was responding to an offer of a reward. Indeed, eleven-year-old Clifford W. produced his best signals when food was mentioned ‘chicken principe’ and Mac Donald’s’. However, these mentions were references to past joys, and may resemble Julian Isaacs record10 of a signal precisely of the “H” of ‘Oh, what a Happy time that was!’

The state of mind of the experimenter also enters into the observations, perhaps directly, or perhaps because visual or auditory evidence is picked up by the subject. A routine or casual approach by the experimenter is not likely to be rewarded with signals. On the other hand, an attitude that is not neutral may perturb the whole psychology of the experiment which should be initiated and governed by the attitudes of the subject, unless a planned intervention is intended. Sometimes a stable routine background is deliberately imposed; for example, a task in model-building for Nicholas Williams, or listening to recorded music. However, it has not been possible to correlate signals with details of this background such as successful achievements in the model-building or climactic moments in the music.

Our instincts as experimenters are to exercise great caution in reaching conclusions on the basis of insufficient experience.

Figures 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 referred to in article appear below.

    1. The fitting of Gaussian curve to two signal quintets from session DD with Stephen North. The upper curve represents one of the least satisfactorily fitted quintets, the lower curve one of the best fitted sets.
    2. Inverted histogram of the number of localisation parameters I, calculated for signal events recorded on miniaturized strain gauges shown above (Type EA-06-031MF-120, bisected). The scale L is taken to be that of the illustrated Gaussians whose L values have been calculated. In this way the effective localisation (about 2 mm) obtained during the session SNMM is illustrated.


  • Some Dynamic strain signals obtained on sensors mounted on Stephen North’s forearm and suspended in front of him, in session SNZ.
  • Circuit of improved electrostatic detector used in observations of electrical effects.
  • Circuit of amplifier and ferrite ring inductor.
  • Twin electrode arrangement for the detection of atmospheric charge.
  • Two photographs of stainless steel spoons seen to be twisted, quickly but gently, in the hands of Masuaki Kiyota.
  • Etched brass showing regions of b -brass, which appear as dark areas.



1. J. B. Hasted, “An Experimental Study of the Validity of Metal-Bending Phenomena.” Journal of the Society for Psychical Research. Vol 48, No 770, 1976, pp 365-383.

2. J. B. Hasted, “Physical Aspects of Paranormal Metal-Bending Journal of the Society for Psychical Research. Vol 49, No 773, 1977 pp 583-607.

3. J. B. Hasted, “Paranormal Metal-Bending,” In course of publication in New Horizons 1979.

J. B. Hasted, “Merkmale paranormaler Metallbiege-Phaenomene” Zeitschrift fuer Parapsychologie und Grenzgebiete der Psychologie. Jg 20, Nr 3, 1978 pp 173-184.

4. J. B. Hasted and D. Robertson, “The Detail of Paranormal Metal-Bending. Journal of the Society for Psychical Research. Vol 50, No 779, 1979, pp. 9-20.

5 J. Bouvaist, Pechiney Aluminium, Grenoble, private communication. 1979.

6. C. Brookes-Smith. Journal of the Society for Psychical Research. Vol 48, 1975, pp 73-86.

7. J. B. Hasted in “The Geller Papers,” Ed. Charles Panati, Houghton-Mifflin Co. Boston 1976, pp 183-196, 197-212.

8. C. M. Crussard and J. Bouvaist. Memoires Scientifiques Revue Metal-lurgique. 1978, February, p. 117.

9. K. J. Batcheldor. “Micro-PK in Group Sittings: Theoretical and Practical Aspects.” 1968. Society for Psychical Research Library.

10. J. Isaacs. A preliminary report on some micro-p.k. experiments. Parascience Proceedings (3) 1978. In press.

11. J. L. Whitton. “The Psychodynamics of Poltergeist Activity and Group PK. New Horizons, (5) 1975. pp 202-211.

12. R. Sudre. Treatise on Parapsychology, Allen and Unwin, 1960 .pp218-224.

13. J. B. Hasted. The Physics of Atomic Collisions. Chapter 10, 2nd Edition. Butterworth’s London. 1972.

14 Franklin, W. New Horizons, 2, 8, 1975.

15 Sasaki, S., Ochi, Y, Takaioka A., Journ. P.S. Inst of Japan, 1 (3), 15, 1977.



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