O'Neill's Electronic Museum

Penn Valley California

SIR WILLIAM CROOKES ON PSYCHICAL RESEARCH.

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are as yet ignorant what are the functions of vibrations of the rates just mentioned. But that they have some function it is fair to suppose.

Now we approach the region of light, the steps extending from the forty-fifth to between the fiftieth and the fifty-first, and the vibrations extending from 35,184372,088832 per second (heat rays) to 1875,000000,000000 per second, the highest recorded rays of the spectrum. The actual sensation of light, and therefore the vibrations which transmit visible signs, being comprised between the narrow limits of about 450,000000,000000 (red light) and 750,000000,000000 (violet, light)-less than one step.

Leaving the region of visible light we arrive at what is, for our existing senses and our means of research, another unknown region, the functions of which we are beginning to suspect. It is not unlikely that the X-rays of Professor Röntgen will be found to lie between the fifty-eighth and the sixty-first step, having vibrations extending from 288220,576151,711744 to 2,305763,009213,693952 per second, or even higher.

In this series it will be seen there are two great gaps, or unknown regions, concerning which we must own our entire ignorance as to the part they play in the economy of creation. Further, whether any vibrations exist having a greater number per second than those classes mentioned we do not presume to decide.

But is it premature to ask in what way are vibrations connected with thought or its transmission? We might speculate that the increasing rapidity or frequency of the vibrations would accompany a rise in the importance of the functions of such vibrations. That high frequency deprives the rays of many attributes that might seem incompatible with "brain waves" is undoubted. Thus, rays about the sixty-second step are so minute as to cease to be refracted, reflected, or polarized; they pass through many so-called opaque bodies, and research begins to show that the most rapid are just those which pass most easily through dense substances. It does not require much stretch of the scientific imagination to conceive that at the sixty-second or sixty-third step the trammels from which rays at the sixty-first step were struggling to free themselves have ceased to influence rays having so enormous a rate of vibration as 9,223052,036854,775808 per second, and that these rays pierce the densest medium with scarcely any diminution of intensity, and pass almost unrefracted and unreflected along their path with the velocity of light.

Ordinarily we communicate intelligence to each other by speech. I first call up in my own brain a picture of a scene I wish to describe, and then, by means of an orderly transmission of wave vibrations set in motion by my vocal chords through the material atmosphere, a corresponding picture is implanted in the brain of anyone whose ear is

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capable of receiving such vibrations. If the scene I wish to impress on the brain of the recipient is of a complicated character, or if the picture of it in my own brain is not definite, the transmission will be more or less imperfect; but if I wish to get my audience to picture to themselves some very simple object, such as a triangle or a circle, the transmission of ideas will be well-nigh perfect, and equally clear to the brains of both transmitter and recipient. Here we use the vibrations of the material molecules of the atmosphere to transmit intelligence from one brain to another.

In the newly discovered Röntgen rays we are introduced to an order of vibrations of extremist minuteness as compared with the most minute waves with which we have hitherto been acquainted, and of dimensions comparable with the distances between the centers of the atoms of which the material universe is built up; and there is no reason to suppose that we have here reached the limit of frequency. Waves of this character cease to have many of the properties associated with light waves. They are produced in the same ethereal medium, and are probably propagated with the same velocity as light, but here the similarity ends. They can not be regularly reflected from polished surfaces; they have not been polarized; they are not refracted on passing from one medium to another of different density, and they penetrate considerable thicknesses of substances opaque to light with the same ease with which light passes through glass. It is also demonstrated that these rays, as generated in the vacuum tube, are not homogeneous, but consist of bundles of different wave-lengths, analogous to what would be differences of color could ,"We see them as light. Some pass easily through flesh, but are partially arrested by bone, while others pass with almost equal facility through bone and flesh.

It seems to me that in these rays we may have a possible mode of transmitting inte1ligence which, with a few reasonable postulates, may supply a key to much that is obscure in psychical research. Let it be assumed that these rays, or rays even of higher frequency, can pass into the brain and act on some nervous center there. Let it be conceived that the brain contains a center which uses these rays as the vocal chords use sound vibrations (both being under the command of intelligence), and sends them out, with the velocity of light, to impinge on the receiving ganglion of another brain. In this way some, at least, of the phenomena of telepathy, and the transmission of intelligence from one sensitive to another through long distances, seem to come into the domain of law and can be grasped. A sensitive may be one who possesses the telepathic transmitting or receiving ganglion in an advanced state of development, or who, by constant practice, is rendered more sensitive to these high-frequency waves. Experience seems to show that the receiving and the transmitting ganglions are not equally developed; one may be active, while the other, like the
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pineal eye in man, may be only vestigial. By such an hypothesis no physical laws are violated; neither is it necessary to invoke what is commonly called the supernatural.

To this hypothesis it may be objected that brain waves, like any other waves, must obey physical laws. Therefore, transmission of thought must be easier or more certain the nearer the agent and recipient are to each other, and should die out altogether before great distances are reached. Also it can be urged that if brain waves diffuse in all directions they should affect all sensitives within their radius of action, instead of impressing only one brain. The electric telegraph is not a parallel case, for there a material wire intervenes to conduct and guide the energy to its destination.

These are weighty objections, but not, I think, insurmountable. Far be it from me to say anything disrespectful of the law of inverse squares, but I have already endeavored to show we are dealing with conditions removed from ow' material and limited conceptions of space, matter, form. Is it inconceivable that intense thought concentrated toward a sensitive with whom the thinker is in close sympathy may induce a telepathic chain of brain waves, along which the message of thought can go straight to its goal without loss of energy due to distance? And is it also inconceivable that our mundane ideas of space and distance may be superseded in these subtle regions of unsubstantial thought, where "near" and "far" may lose their usual meaning?

I repeat that this speculation is strictly provisional. I dare to suggest it. The time may come when it will be possible to submit it to experimental tests.

I am impelled to one further reflection, dealing with the conservation of energy. We say, with truth, that energy is transformed but not destroyed, and that whenever we can trace the transformation we find it quantitatively exact. So far as our very rough exactness goes, this is true for inorganic matter and for mechanical forces. But it is only inferentially true for organized matter and for vital forces. We can not express life in terms of heat or of motion. And thus it happens that just when the exact transformation of energy will be most interesting to watch, we can not really tell whether any fresh energy has been introduced into the system or not. Let us consider this a little more closely.

It has, of course, always been realized by physicists, and has been especially pointed out by Dr. Croll, that there is a wide difference between the production of motion and the direction of it into a particular channel. The production of motion, molar or molecular, is governed by physical laws, which it is the business of the philosopher to find out and correlate. The law of the conservation of energy overrides all laws, and it is a preeminent canon of scientific belief that for every act done a corresponding expenditure of energy must be transformed.
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No work can be effected without using up a corresponding value in energy of another kind. But to us the other side of the problem is even of more importance. Granted the existence of a certain kind of molecular motion, what is it that determines its direction along one path rather than another? A weight falls to the earth through a distance of 3 feet. I lift it, and let it fall once more. In these movements of the weight a certain amount of energy is expended in its rise and the same amount is liberated in its fall. But instead of letting the weight fall free, suppose I harness it to a complicated system of wheels, and, instead of letting the weight fall in the fraction of a second, I distribute its fall over twenty-four hours. No more energy is expended in raising the weight, and in its slow fall no more or less energy is developed than when it fell free; but I have made it do work of another kind. It now drives a clock, a telescope, or a philosophic instrument, and does what we call useful work. The clock runs down. I lift the weight by exerting the proper amount of energy, and in this action the law of conservation of energy is strictly obeyed. But now I have the choice of either letting the weight fall free in a fraction of a second, or, constrained by the wheelwork, in twenty-four hours. I can do which I like, and whichever way I decide, no more energy is developed in the fall of the weight. I strike a match; I can use it to light a cigarette or to set fire to a house. I write a telegram; it may be simply to say I shall be late for dinner, or it may produce fluctuations on the stock exchange that will ruin thousands. In these cases the actual force required in striking the match or in writing the telegram is governed by the law or conservation of energy; but the vastly more momentous part, which determines the words I use or the material I ignite, is beyond such a law. It is probable that no expenditure of energy need be used in the determination of direction one way more than another. Intelligence and free will here come into play, and these mystic forces are outside the law of conservation of energy as understood by physicists.

The whole universe, as we see it, is the result of molecular movement. Molecular movements strictly obey the law of conservation of energy, but what we call "law" is simply an expression of the direction along which a form of energy acts, not the form of energy itself. We may explain molecular and molar motions, and discover all the physical laws of motion, but we shall be far as ever from a solution of the vastly more important question as to what form of will and intellect is behind the motions of molecules, guiding and constraining them in definite directions along predetermined paths. What is the determining cause in the background? What combination of will and intellect outside our physical laws guides the fortuitous concourse of atoms along ordered paths culminating in the material world in which we live?

In these last sentences I have intentionally used words of wide
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signification-have spoken of guidance along ordered paths. It is wisdom to be vague here, for we absolutely can not say whether or when any diversion may be introduced into the existing system of earthly forces by an external power. We can no more be certain that this is not so than I can be certain, in an express train, that no signal man has pressed a handle to direct the train on to this or that line of rails. I may compute exactly how much coal is used per mile, so as to be able to say at any minute how many miles we have traveled, but, unless I actually see the points, I can not tell whether they are shifted before the train passes.

An omnipotent being could rule the course of this world in such a way that none of us should discover the hidden springs of action. He need not make the sun stand still upon Gibeon. He could do all that he wanted by the expenditure of infinitesimal diverting force upon ultra microscopic modifications of the human germ.

In this address I have not attempted to add any item to the sound knowledge which I believe our society is gradually amassing. I shall be content if I have helped to clear away some of those scientific stumbling blocks, if I may so call them, which tend to prevent many of our possible coadjutors from adventuring themselves on the new illimitable road.

I see no good reason why any man of scientific mind should shut his eyes to our work or deliberately stand aloof from it. Our Proceedings are, of course, not exactly parallel to the Proceedings of a society dealing with a long-established branch of science. In every form of research there must be a beginning. We own to much that is tentative, much that may turn out erroneous. But it is thus, and thus only, that each science in turn takes its stand. I venture to assert that both in actual careful record of new and important facts, and in suggestiveness, our society's work and publications will form no unworthy preface to a profounder science both of man, of nature, and of "worlds not realized" than this planet has yet known.

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