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Can this Computer see into the Future??? Global consciousness?

By Black Panther ·
Can This Black Box See Into the Future?

DEEP in the basement of a dusty university library in Edinburgh lies a small black box, roughly the size of two cigarette packets side by side, that churns out random numbers in an endless stream.

At first glance it is an unremarkable piece of equipment. Encased in metal, it contains at its heart a microchip no more complex than the ones found in modern pocket calculators.

But, according to a growing band of top scientists, this box has quite extraordinary powers. It is, they claim, the 'eye' of a machine that appears capable of peering into the future and predicting major world events.

The machine apparently sensed the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Centre four hours before they happened - but in the fevered mood of conspiracy theories of the time, the claims were swiftly knocked back by sceptics. But last December, it also appeared to forewarn of the Asian tsunami just before the deep sea earthquake that precipitated the epic tragedy.

Now, even the doubters are acknowledging that here is a small box with apparently inexplicable powers.

'It's Earth-shattering stuff,' says Dr Roger Nelson, emeritus researcher at Princeton University in the United States, who is heading the research project behind the 'black box' phenomenon.

'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 investigations, called the Global Consciousness Project, were originally hosted by Princeton University and are centred on one of the most extraordinary experiments of all time. Its aim is to detect whether all of humanity shares a single subconscious mind that we can all tap into without realising.

And machines like the Edinburgh black box have thrown up a 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, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Germany. The project is also the most rigorous and longest-running investigation ever into the potential powers of the paranormal.

'Very often paranormal phenomena evaporate if you study them for long enough,' says physicist **** 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. He was one of the first modern scientists to take paranormal phenomena seriously. Intrigued by such things as telepathy, telekinesis - the supposed psychic power to move objects without the use of physical force - and extrasensory perception, 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 (REG). This used computer 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 - could then be printed out as a graph. The laws of chance dictate that the generators should churn out equal numbers of ones and zeros - which would be represented by a nearly flat line on the graph. Any deviation from this equal number shows up as a gently rising curve.

During the late 1970s, Prof Jahn decided to investigate whether the power of human thought alone could interfere in some way with the machine's usual readings. He hauled strangers off the street and asked them to concentrate their minds on his 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. The results, however, were stunning and have never been satisfactorily explained.

Again and again, entirely ordinary people proved that their minds could influence the machine and produce significant fluctuations on the graph, 'forcing it' to produce unequal numbers of 'heads' or 'tails'.

According to all of the known laws of science, this should not have happened - but it did. And it kept on happening.

Dr Nelson, also working at Princeton University, then extended Prof Jahn's work by taking random number machines to group meditations, which were very popular in America at the time. Again, the results were eyepopping. The groups were collectively able to cause dramatic shifts in the patterns of 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 constantly, 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 then on September 6, 1997, something quite extraordinary happened: the graph shot upwards, recording a sudden and massive shift in the number sequence as his machines around the world started reporting huge deviations from the norm. The day was of historic importance for another reason, too.

For it was the same day that an estimated one billion people around the world watched the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales at Westminster Abbey.

Dr Nelson was convinced that the two events must be related in some way.

Could he have detected a totally new phenomena? Could the concentrated emotional outpouring of millions of people be able to influence the output of his REGs. If so, how?

Dr Nelson was at a loss to explain it.

So, in 1998, he gathered together scientists from all over the world to analyse his findings. They, too, were stumped and resolved to extend and deepen the work of Prof Jahn and Dr Nelson. 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.

For during the course of the experiment, the Eggs have 'sensed' a whole series of major world events as they were happening, from the Nato bombing of Yugoslavia to the Kursk submarine tragedy to America's hung election of 2000.

The Eggs also regularly detect huge global celebrations, such as New Year's Eve.

But the project threw up its greatest enigma on September 11, 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 had they registered the attacks as they actually happened, but the characteristic shift in the pattern of numbers had begun four hours before the two planes even hit the Twin Towers.

They had, it appeared, detected that an event of historic importance was about to take place before the terrorists had even boarded their fateful flights. The implications, not least for the West's security services who constantly monitor electronic 'chatter', are clearly enormous.

'I knew then that we had a great deal of work ahead of us,' says Dr Nelson.

What could be happening? Was it a freak occurrence, perhaps?

Apparently not. For in the closing weeks of December last year, the machines went wild once more.

Twenty-four hours later, an earthquake deep beneath the Indian Ocean triggered the tsunami which devastated South-East Asia, and claimed the lives of an estimated quarter of a million people.

So could the Global Consciousness Project really be forecasting the future?

Cynics will quite rightly point out that there is always some global event that could be used to 'explain' the times when the Egg machines behaved erratically. After all, our world is full of wars, disasters and terrorist outrages, as well as the occasional global celebration. Are the scientists simply trying too hard to detect patterns in their raw data?

The team behind the project insist not. They claim that by using rigorous scientific techniques and powerful mathematics it is possible to exclude any such random connections.

'We're perfectly willing to discover that we've made mistakes,' says Dr Nelson. 'But we haven't been able to find any, and neither has anyone else.

Our data shows clearly that the chances of getting these results by fluke are one million to one against.

That's hugely significant.' But many remain sceptical.

Professor Chris French, a psychologist and noted sceptic at Goldsmiths College in London, says: 'The Global Consciousness Project has generated some very intriguing results that cannot be readily dismissed. I'm involved in similar work to see if we get the same results. We haven't managed to do so yet but it's only an early experiment. The jury's still out.' Strange as it may seem, though, there's nothing in the laws of physics that precludes the possibility of foreseeing the future.

It is possible - in theory - that time may not just move forwards but backwards, too. And if time ebbs and flows like the tides in the sea, it might just be possible to foretell major world events. We would, in effect, be 'remembering' things that had taken place in our future.

'There's plenty of evidence that time may run backwards,' says Prof Bierman at the University of Amsterdam.

'And if it's possible for it to happen in physics, then it can happen in our minds, too.' In other words, Prof Bierman believes that we are all capable of looking into the future, if only we could tap into the hidden power of our minds. And there is a tantalising body of evidence to support this theory.

Dr John Hartwell, working at the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands, was the first to uncover evidence that people could sense the future. In the mid-1970s he hooked people up to hospital scanning machines so that he could study their brainwave patterns.

He began by showing them a sequence of provocative cartoon drawings.

When the pictures were shown, the machines registered the subject's brainwaves as they reacted strongly to the images before them. This was to be expected.

Far less easy to explain was the fact that in many cases, these dramatic patterns began to register a few seconds before each of the pictures were even flashed up.

It was as though Dr Hartwell's case studies were somehow seeing into the future, and detecting when the next shocking image would be shown next.

It was extraordinary - and seemingly inexplicable.

But it was to be another 15 years before anyone else took Dr Hartwell's work further when Dean Radin, a researcher working in America, connected people up to a machine that measured their skin's resistance to electricity. This is known to fluctuate in tandem with our moods - indeed, it's this principle that underlies many lie detectors.

Radin repeated Dr Hartwell's 'image response' experiments while measuring skin resistance. Again, people began reacting a few seconds before they were shown the provocative pictures. This was clearly impossible, or so he thought, so he kept on repeating the experiments. And he kept getting the same results.

'I didn't believe it either,' says Prof Bierman. 'So I also repeated the experiment myself and got the same results. I was shocked. After this I started to think more deeply about the nature of time.' To make matters even more intriguing, Prof Bierman says that other mainstream labs have now produced similar results but are yet to go public.

'They don't want to be ridiculed so they won't release their findings,' he says. 'So I'm trying to persuade all of them to release their results at the same time. That would at least spread the ridicule a little more thinly!' If Prof Bierman is right, though, then the experiments are no laughing matter.

They might help provide a solid scientific grounding for such strange phenomena as 'deja vu', intuition and a host of other curiosities that we have all experienced from time to time.

They may also open up a far more interesting possibility - that one day we might be able to enhance psychic powers using machines that can 'tune in' to our subconscious mind, machines like the little black box in Edinburgh.

Just as we have built mechanical engines to replace muscle power, could we one day build a device to enhance and interpret our hidden psychic abilities?

Dr Nelson is optimistic - but not for the short term. 'We may be able to predict that a major world event is going to happen. But we won't know exactly what will happen or where it's going to happen,' he says.

'Put it this way - we haven't yet got a machine we could sell to the CIA.'

But for Dr Nelson, talk of such psychic machines - with the potential to detect global catastrophes or terrorist outrages - is of far less importance than the implications of his work in terms of the human race.

For what his experiments appear to demonstrate is that while we may all operate as individuals, we also appear to share something far, far greater - a global consciousness. Some might call it the mind of God.

'We're taught to be individualistic monsters,' he says. 'We're driven by society to separate ourselves from each other. That's not right.

We may be connected together far more intimately than we realise.'

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All Comments

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Jury's still out, I think Panther

by In reply to more info...

I'm a little bit wary of global consciousness, Panther, because it sounds to me too much like a hive-mind -- the Borg, for instance, of Star Trek fame!

On the other hand, eidetic MEMORY, rather than mind, practised by our ancestors before writing was invented, could be more along the lines of what this research proposes (I think!).

Consciousness is a huge unknown, IMHO, and I'm pretty sure there's more questions to be asked about this topic than almost any other.

I think quantum science must have something to do with it, although I wouldn't have the foggiest how it's going to be connected!

A good friend of mine (a cosmologist) actually said to me some years ago that he thought consciousness was the 'missing' or fifth force. His argument was that anything can be made up of any of the other four forces, both organic and inorganic, but without consciousness, we could simply have not evolved.

And then there's Chaos Theory, old now, but maybe relevant to all this. I think I'll have to go away and have a deeper look at some of these things again. Arthur CC was absolutely right when he said there were stranger things 'out there' than anything we could begin to imagine on earth!

This definitely requires a closer look.

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Dogs feel earthquakes early

by Dr Dij In reply to Jury's still out, I think ...

So if some machine is affected in some way by humans thinking this is still essentially meaningless. You simply have an indication that some object in the (probably nearby) universe affected this.

Humans brains are powerful electromagnetic wave emitters on a high series of frequencies. So are animals. And any other number of natural phenomenon, earth based such as crustal shifting, which cause stresses on matter such as the rocks, emitting electricity and energy waves before the quake. So do extra-terrestrial events: solar flares, proton storms, xrays and cosmic rays from outside the solar system.

In the end you are left with a detector, if indeed it is detecting something. Problem is this is essentially meaningless. All you know is SOMETHING happened that affected it. It is neat if you can correlate that SOMETHING happening first to your machines later means SOMETHING else happens, but as with most 'future telling' predictions, they can be so vague as to be meaningless.

Instead of a future telling machine, it could be something like: cosmic rays form vast wide tracks of energy hitting the earth, as they hit the upper atmosphere and split from one wave to a wide field of lower energy waves, shifting down towards the visible spectra. These happen over a wide area and an 'event' can have the earth bombarded from one direction with these waves.

Might some phenomenon like this affect people? possible; maybe it makes people more active, etc, so they do more aggressive things for example. Could be ET events caused reporter to chase Diana, etc. Still of course complete speculation.

Mystical? probably not. Interesting? possibly, if independant evidence eventually surfaces. In fact astronomers for years use worldwide grid of detectors.

If events, correlated with an atomic clock, are shown to be simultaneus across widely separated receiving stations, this gives astronomers the direction and proof this is a high energy event striking the earth from one particular point in space.

Cross disciplines? astronomers probably never think of whether some event that is short of an asteroid will impact the people mentally. So they would never even try to cross correlate effects.

Could the correlations you are talking about be 'hoakey' (tenuous, unsupported)? possibly. Much science is advanced by serendipity, when scientists make mistakes and something unusual happens.

Instead of mysticism they should possibly try recording variations in energy frequencies around the devices when fluctuations occur. and remember, that even if you bury a device in a lead lined vault miles under the earth, vast streams of energy are still passing thru it at any given instant.

Neutrinos, for example, which pass thru the whole earth unchanged sometimes, and sometimes interact with matter.

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So do Parrots and Horses

by beads In reply to Dogs feel earthquakes ear ...

There are a great number of animals, humans included, that seem to have some sort of sensitivity to events before they occur. I have personally seen horses "react" to tornados well in advance of a storm. Parrots (I live with many) that have told me in English of impending storms, one very dominant male of mine told me not to go out at night because of a thunderstorm - 2 hours before the golfball sized hail came crashing down. Mysticism? No, but many things are described as Mysticism before they are understood.

That same bird mentioned above told my wife that I was in an accident but thought I was OK. Two minutes later I called on the cell phone explaining just that while I can hear him complaining on the phone that he wants to talk to me. In words. English to be exact. Not some crazy psychic communication. Normally he doesn't like to talk much prefering that I learn all his non-verbal behaivior to compensate for his normal muteness. So when he does speak, I listen. Can't explain that one. I just know what he tells me. Limited at times as to what and when he says anything. But I suspect that its fairly uncomfortable for some parrots to talk while others you can't shut up. Thats a completely different thread though.

There seems to be evidence that something is happening but its difficult for us to put into purely scientific terms as of yet. Alchemy evolved into Chemistry. These eggs may very well become some new form of physics. Not to be punny here but: Time will tell.

Fasinating, nonetheless.

- beads

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Quantum computers

I've just thought of something, and I'll be placing a similar post in the mind-reading computer thread as well.

How much has all this got to do with quantum computers which, I understand, are supposed to be 'just around the corner'? Can anyone tell me, please?

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Flaw in this all

by Dr Dij In reply to Quantum computers

random number generators are not completely random. They start with a 'seed'. based on this, they are repeatable, based on this seed.

so if I was to later, at a 'non-crisis' time restart the random number generator with same seed, it would produce the same sequence, at a different time in space when the 'crisis' was NOT happening.

if the person is saying there is a FLAW in the random number generating machine, whereby it does not generate the number it is supposed to, i.e. during 'crisis' this is detectable. THey could simply run three machines together. the output is 'voted' on with AND gates; any varying output is detected. (typically circuit with exception output is shut off and flagged as faulty). This is used in ultra-reliable computer systems and circuitry. Space shuttle has similar 'voting' system.

It is highly unlikely that if the 'flaw' mechanism is what is being discussed here, that all machines would 1) do this simultaneously, or 2) produce the same erroneous output.

It sounds from lack of details that this is hype, from some mysti-magically enamoured researcher who doesn't release enuf details to be cross checked. They may have actually put machines in various places, for who knows what reasons. Unless this has been peer checked, is likely to be purely wishfull thinking by researcher.

If instead of a seed, the random number generator has some sort of analog input that varies then it is simply a detector of whatever frequency the antenna or input is attuned to. The function of generating random numbers from this simply confuses trying to find what all frequencies and amplitudes of energy the boxes possibly all rec'd if it is setup this way.

A more cogent approach would be to put very sensitive spectrum analyzers around the world and see if they picked up energy waves in common around the time of events in interest. Alot more expensive than a few circuits but the results would be similarly more meaningful.

Certain events like quakes are known to produced vast piezo-electric energy as are many other physical processes. In fact the earth is a gigantic electrical dynamo, with the molten core spinning and generating the magnetic field that protects us from the hard radiation of space.

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More flaws??

by In reply to Flaw in this all

Thanks for that, Dij. Makes it a little more accessible to non-tech computer teachers like me!

However, while you've seen and explained what appears to be a rather large flaw in these computers that are supposed to see into the future, do they at all equate with the quantum computer-to-come?

I've heard of these machines talked about so much and the fact that they're 'just around the corner', I was simply wondering if this present machine is step number one towards this mythic beast or has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with it.

Quantum computers, whatever they're going to turn out to be, even scare Col, because I once asked him! And it just seemed that the description of this present machine could be 'on the way' to 'just around the corner'!


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They're very simple

by Dr Dij In reply to More flaws??

parts-is-parts. just that the parts are made as small as possible, allowing higher densities and lower power consumption.

when it is in the area of switching the smallest possible quanta of energy it is called this. electrons don't act the same in single quantities, and other effects are much more important, such as noise, and leakage from substrates. IBM, HP and Japanese companies have been researching and making prototypes for years.

Nanoscale materials make this easier. Ultra small magnetic particles will enable FRAM memory.

Scaling up is a problem as mass ultra fine lithography is at cutting edge now for the current fabs. Commercial nanofabricators might do the trick (still in research stage). But they'd be much slower than some type of litho.

the architechture is different to make up for these, with changes such as redundancy if needed and error correction for reliability.

the lowered power use should be good for the environment, as home PCs and network routers, etc. are growing to be vast users of electricity.

I think the route to global consciousness may be thru this as it will allow us to have vast networks of 'thinking machines' that organize our knowledge and may even fill in the gaps. They may even become self aware, and self-organize themselves, designing ever faster computers. I envision planetary distributed databanks becoming ever more powerful.

They may either be our allies :), like the ship AI Andromeda on the TV series, (she's now on new season of Stargate, along with the Farscape guy and gal). Or they may decide they want to be in control and revolt. (Kill All Humans! Kill All Humans! )

See? There's nothing to be afraid of.

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Quantum reality

by In reply to They're very simple

Thanks for that very erudite reply, Dij! But simple? Weeellll!!! Maybe I'll wait until I have one here at home on my desk before I decide if it's simple or not!

Minor question, however: If these things have been researched, even prototypes created, for years, why are they taking so long to perfect?

Generally new generation computers are fairly quick to come onto the market, but this time, the reverse seems to be the case.

What's holding everything up? Just the fact that they're 'quantum'? Or has the lot just been dumped in the 'too hard' basket after all?

And w-w-who said I w-w-was af-afraid??

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optimizing, scaling and mass production

by Dr Dij In reply to Quantum reality

It's one thing to use special techniques and produce a prototype. But the finest lithography we have supports only the existing mass production chips. So they can only make 'em one at a time! -like grandma baking a pie :) (and have them made by very expensive researchers instead of in a developing country by non-researchers).

Also, the prototypes they made are of just a few circuits together, equivalent in density to some of the early integrated circuits.

Then of course, while they get them to work, 'basically' they are still characterising and testing them for things like what conditions make them not work correctly? e.g. will a passing neutrino disturb them, or because much smaller, simpler things like heat, em fields, etc.

some of simpler things like FRAM are about to be in mass production.

Should be worth the wait. And in the 'sci-fi is reality' dept: remember -even in the year 2936, the Andromeda's PC tech mentioned "quantum serial processors - some of the fastest chips ever made"

Strangely enuf, there are things we could be doing that would make PCs a load faster already. 15 years ago, in SF I attended the IEEE conf WSI '** (waferscale integration '**) - on lovely knob hill, where your brakes better be working - the streets down slant at almost 45 degrees, crates of supplies toppled over; I'd driven up there, camping via redwood state parks.

Researchers had made computers (to process radar data in a flow-thru manner, very fast) composed of complete 6" (maybe 4"?) wafers, 20 or so stacked on top of each other, with 3000 approx solder bump interconnects on each level. Had to be liquid nitrogen ("terminator chilled") to operate. Physicists, who use alot of this like to say 'cheaper than beer, and alot colder'.

Anyway, should be an interesting future.

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