FILMED AND NONFILMED EVENTS: ON URI GELLER’S VISIT TO WESTERN KENTUCKY UNIVERSITY
by Thomas P. Coohill, Ph.D., Physics Department, Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green, Kentucky.
Thomas P. Coohill received an undergraduate degree in physics and a doctorate in biophysics from Pennsylvania State University. He has held research positions at the VA Hospital in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and at the schools of medicine and dentistry of the University of Pittsburgh before becoming an associate professor of biophysics and Chairman of the Biophysics Committee at Western Kentucky University. He is the author of numerous articles on the interactions of natural and artificial light on living matter.
During a one-day visit to Western Kentucky University (February 19, 974), Uri Geller participated in a series of informal tests under the direction of Dr. Coohill. Geller had been invited to the school as a lecturer and not as a scientific subject, but he consented to Coohill’s request to “try some tests.” The tests reported in the following pages were not executed with the rigor essential for a scientific investigation. They are presented here as anecdotes because Dr. Coohill, a respected scientist, believes that the events he and his colleagues witnessed that day – and two days after Geller’s visit – were paranormal in nature.
Published for the first time, with the permission of the author.
The following events were video-taped in the physics laboratory at Western Kentucky University (W.K.U.). Present were Drs. T. P. Coohill, J. E. Parks, N. F. Six, R. Hackney, A. Wawrukiewicz, E. Dorman, and D. L. Humphrey of the Physics Department, W.K.U., and Drs. R. Miller and R. Mendel of the Psychology Department, W.K.U. Dr. F. Brown of the Psychology Department at Centre College was also present, as were numerous students. As shown on the film, Uri Geller chooses one of six opaque double envelopes, each containing a drawing by Mrs. Jo Six. Mrs. Six was not present at the filming nor did she know if Uri would be asked to try this test. She had drawn all six pictures the previous day. No one in the room was aware of what was in any of the envelopes. Geller chose one envelope and began drawing figures on a pad. This initial attempt included the following sequence: a set of points, some interesting lines, two triangles, and the eventual union of the two triangles to form a Star of David. Geller’s final drawing was a Star of David of the same size as the one in the envelope. (See Plate 39.) His remarks while making the drawing included: “It’s difficult, you know,” “Look, if I’m wrong, I’m wrong,” “I feel very strongly about this,” “I’m getting it very correct,” “If I didn’t feel it I would pass,” “Psychologically, I’m being pulled away from it because I’m from Israel and this is my Star of David,” and “The lines are very mathematical, precise.”
Later Geller tried to influence the reading of a Bell 240 Incremental Magnetometer with a Hall Effect probe. He had been able to change the reading on a similar instrument at Stanford. He worked very hard for a period of twenty minutes with no success. He was clenching his fists, holding his breath, waving his hands, and visibly straining himself. His comments included: “Are you sure it’s working?” “When I go like this, you must want it to go. You must all want it to go,” “I know it’s coming,” “Want me to make currents running through the circuits?” “Are you sure it’s not broken?” The probe was tested by one of the physicists present and found to be non-functional. It was further shown that the probe was indeed broken. No working probe was available to continue the experiment. Uri wasted a lot of energy on this attempt.
Also on film are a small (10%) deflection of a magnetic compass and a small (10%) deflection of a gaussmeter. The film is available for viewing from Western Kentucky University, Department of Physics.
The following events occurred at the home of Dr. and Mrs. Thomas P. Coohill on February 19, 1974. Present at the time were Dr. and Mrs. Coohill, Mrs. Sally Beal, Mr. and Mrs. Bob Williamson, Dr. N. Frank Six (Chairman of the Physics Department at Western Kentucky University), Dr. Ed Dorman (a physicist at W.K.U.), Uri Geller, and his friend Shipi.
We did not ask Geller to bend anything for us at lunch, nor did he suggest that he do so. However, after we had eaten Geller and I went into my living room and began talking about caving (spelunking). After about a minute we both heard a metallic “clink”; it sounded as though something metallic was dropped on a solid floor. Looking around, I saw a spoon lying behind my desk. It was bent in this manner:
As I held it in my hand and called the other people into the room, the spoon suddenly began to bend in another plane (at a right angle to the handle; see P. 136). It seemed as if the spoon were observed by all present. (For photographs of the spoon see Plate 40.) This incident further amazed me since the floor of my living room is thickly carpeted. Where the “clink” came from I cannot imagine.
In another incident Geller asked my wife, Patricia, to place her hands about 5 cm above a long teaspoon. He then waved his hands slightly above hers and asked her to remove her hands. The spoon was broken into two. Dr. Six says he heard a distinct “pop” occur while my wife’s hands were over the spoon. At no time did Geller touch the spoon. Reconstruction of the long teaspoon, achieved simply by holding the two fragments together, shows that the spoon’s shape had changed as a result of its being broken: its curvature is missing. (For photograph of the spoon see Plate 40.)
For me, the most convincing event occurred two days after Geller left our home. I was about to put some sugar in my coffee when suddenly I noticed that the sugar spoon was bent. Since my wife and I had carefully checked all of our silverware after Geller’s departure and found none of it damaged, we were alarmed. But even more alarming was the fact that the spoon continued to bend slightly (as measured later by a ruler) for about the next fifteen minutes. (For a photograph of the spoon see Plate 41.)
Dr. Coohill does not know what to make of the fact that the magnetometer Geller tried to influence was broken. It may be nothing more than a coincidence, he says, but Coohill also feels that it may have been due to Geller’s presence in the laboratory. Harold Puthoff and Russell Targ demonstrated that Geller was able to influence laboratory equipment during his visits to Stanford Research Institute. Exactly how Geller influenced particular pieces of equipment was never predictable: an electronic balance scale, for example, underwent both positive and negative random fluctuations when Geller held his hands above the glass bell jar housing the scale. Dr. Coohill thinks that if Geller could alter the normal behavior of a device, he probably can also cause a malfunction. But Coohill has no proof that the magnetometer was inoperative because of Geller’s presence.
Dr. Coohill is less uncertain about the event that happened two days after Geller’s visit to his home. He is convinced that the sugar spoon bent before his eyes and in his hand, and that it was a genuinely paranormal event. Coohill’s personal experience does not stand alone. It must be taken in the context of the observations of Drs. Thelma Moss, John Taylor, John Hasted, and E. Alan Price, all of whom report cases of psychokinetic phenomena occurring to individuals after they have seen or heard of Geller’s talents. Dr. Price’s report, which is the last paper in this book, is the most extensive field study of the phenomenon that scientists are now calling the Geller Effect.
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“There is no spoon!”
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“Uri Geller gave an absolutely resonating talk on his life and career. He had every single magician in the room on the edge of their seats trying to digest as much information as they could. Uri emphasized that the path to frame is through uniqueness and charisma and that professional entertainers must be creative in their pursuits of success and never shy away from publicity.”
Tannens Magic Blog
“The man is a natural magician. He does everything with great care, meticulous misdirection and flawless instinct. The nails are real, the keys are really borrowed, the envelopes are actually sealed, there are no stooges, there are no secret radio devices and there are no props from the magic catalogues.”
James Randi (In an open letter to Abracadabra Magazine)
Sir Elton John
“Eternity is down the hall And you sit there bending spoons In your mind, in your mind”
“I Have watched Uri Geller… I have seen that so I am a believer. It was my house key and the only way I would be able to use it is get a hammer and beat it out back flat again.”
“Better than watching Geller bending silver spoons, better than witnessing new born nebulae’s in bloom”