Written by Danny Penman
"Deep in the basement of a dusty old library in Edinburgh lies a small black box that churns out random numbers. At first glance the box looks profoundly dull, but it is, in fact, the ‘eye' of a machine that appears capable of peering into the future.
The machine apparently sensed the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Centre four hours before they happened, and appeared to forewarn of the Asian Tsunami.
"It's Earth shattering stuff," says Dr Roger Nelson, Emeritus researcher at Princeton University in the USA. "But unfortunately we don't have a box for predicting the future that we can sell to the CIA. We're very early on in the process of trying to figure out what's going on here. At the moment we're stabbing in the dark."
Dr Nelson's Global Consciousness Project - originally hosted by Princeton University - is one of the most extraordinary experiments of all time. It aims to ‘sense' whether all of humanity shares a single unconscious mind that we all tap into without realising it. Some might refer to it as the mind of God. But the machine has also thrown up another tantalising possibility: that scientists may have unwittingly discovered a way of predicting the future.
Although many would consider the project's aims to be little more than fools' gold, it has still attracted a roster of 75 respected scientists from 41 different nations. Researchers from Princeton - where Einstein spent much of his career - work alongside scientists from universities in Britain, Holland, Switzerland and Germany. The project is also the most rigorous and longest running investigation ever into the paranormal.
"Very often paranormal phenomena evaporate if you study them for long enough," says physicist Dick Bierman of the University of Amsterdam. "But this is not happening with the Global Consciousness Project. The effect is real. The only dispute is about what it means."
The project has its roots in the extraordinary work of Professor Robert Jahn of Princeton University during the late 1970s. Professor Jahn was one of the first modern scientists to take paranormal phenomena seriously. Intrigued by such things as telepathy, telekinesis and ESP, he was determined to study the phenomena using the most up to date technology available.
One of these new technologies was a humble looking black box known was a Random Event Generator. This used sophisticated technology to generate two numbers - a one and a zero - in a totally random sequence, rather like an electronic coin-flipper. The pattern of ones and noughts - ‘heads' and ‘tails' as it were - can then be printed out as a graph. Pure chance dictates that the generators should churn out equal numbers of ones and zeros which produces a more or less flat line on a graph. Any deviation from this shows up as a gently rising curve.
During the late 1970s, Professor Jahn hauled strangers off the street and asked them to concentrate their minds on a number generator. In effect, he was asking them to try to make it flip more heads than tails. It was a preposterous idea at the time, and to many it still is.
The results, however, were stunning and have never been satisfactorily explained. Again and again, entirely ordinary people proved that their minds could influence the machines and produce significant fluctuations on the graph. According to all of the known laws of science, this should not have happened - but it did. And it kept on happening.
Dr Roger Nelson, also working at Princeton University, then extended Professor Jahn's work by taking the machines to group meditations, which were very popular in America at the time. Again, the results were shocking. The meditators somehow caused dramatic shifts in the numbers.
From then on, Dr Nelson was hooked. Using the Internet, he connected up 40 random event generators from all over the world to his laboratory computer in Princeton. These ran day in day out, generating millions of different pieces of data. Most of the time, the resulting graph on his computer looked more or less like a flat line. But during the funeral of Princess Diana something extraordinary happened: the graph shot upwards and reached for the sky. It was clear that they'd detected a totally new phenomena. The concentrated mental effort of millions of people appeared to be influencing the output of random event generators around the world. But how? Dr Nelson was still at a loss to explain it.
In 1998 he gathered together scientists from all over the world to try and understand the phenomena. They, too, were stumped and resolved to extend and deepen Jahn and Nelson's work. The Global Consciousness Project was born.
Since then, the project has expanded massively. A total of 65 Eggs (as the generators have been named) in 41 countries have now been recruited to act as the ‘eyes' of the project. And the results have been startling and inexplicable in equal measure. The Eggs not only ‘sensed' the moment that Princess Diana was buried, but also the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia, the Kursk tragedy and America's hung election of 2000. The Eggs also regularly detect huge global celebrations such as New Year's Eve. Even more bizarrely, they sense the celebrations as they sweep through the Earth's different time zones.
The project threw up its greatest enigma on September 11th 2001. As the world stood still and watched the horror of the terrorist attacks unfold across New York, something strange was happening to the Eggs. Not only did they register the event as it happened, but the characteristic shift in the pattern of numbers began four hours before the two planes hit the Twin Towers.
"I knew then that we had a great deal of work ahead of us," says Dr Nelson.
The same happened with the Asian Tsunami. Twenty four hours before the tragedy unfolded, the characteristic shift in the pattern of numbers began. Curiously, it was at around this time that animals in the path of the tsunami began fleeing for their lives. Very few animals were killed in the tragedy, as you may remember, leading some to ask whether they had somehow foreseen the disaster......CONTINUED AT LINK: