Using Science to Prove Telepathy

Researchers in the UK. are working on a experiment to test 100 people for signs of telepathic ability -- communication through thought.
Researchers in the UK. are working on a experiment to test 100 people for signs of telepathic ability -- communication through thought.

We've heard the stories of twins who had visions or heard their identical sibling's voice telling them they were in trouble, only to find out it was true. Or the tale of a mother who just "had a feeling" her child was in danger and rushed to help, ariving at the rescue just in time.

Now scientists at Britain's Manchester University are working to prove the existence of this mysterious sense, commonly known as telepathy - which is the ability to communicate with another person using only the mind - by testing subjects through a virtual reality system.

"Approximately 100 participants will take part in the experiment, which aims to test whether telepathy exists between individuals using the system," read a press release from the university.

The release goes on to say that researchers from the university's school of computer science and school of psychological sciences will test to see if the ability is enhanced by the relationship between participants.

The move is one in a series of steps taken by various schools, companies and research organizations to explore the brain and how it receives and perceives information.

The Power of Thought

The virtual reality system the researchers are using drops participants into a computer-generated, 3-D world, kind of like a video game.

Wearing a 3-D head-mounted display - like a helmet with a built in TV screen - two volunteers are placed in separate rooms and on different floors so there's no chance of communication.

Inside the virtual world, both participants are shown a random selection of computer-generated objects, such as a telephone, a football and an umbrella.

"The person in the first room sees one object at a time, which they are asked to concentrate on and interact with," said the release.

The person in the other room is simultaneously presented with the same object plus three decoy objects. They are then asked to select the object they believe the other participant is trying to transmit to them."

There have been many attempts in the past to prove the existence of abilities like telepathy, ESP and mind control that go beyond the five known senses, but most of those efforts have been discounted because the studies did not use scientific methods.

One of the researchers on the new project, David Wilde, from the university's school of psychological sciences, says this experiment will be different.

"By using this technology, we aim to provide the most objective study of telepathy to date. Our aim is not to prove or disprove its existence but to create an experimental method which stands up to scientific scrutiny," he said.

Games and Movies You Can Feel

Though a far cry from the search for telepathic abilities, there have been research projects in recent months and years that have focused on the brain's ability to manipulate our perceptions and our environment.

Just this month, a paralyzed man using a new kind of brain sensor was able to move a computer cursor to get e-mail and even operate a robotic device just by thinking about it.

The makers of the BrainGate sensor hope it will give paralyzed people the ability to participate in life in a way they can't now.

Last year Japanese electronics maker Sony patented technology that uses ultrasonic waves to beam sensory perceptions directly into the brain.

Sights, sounds, tastes, smells and even the sensation of touch would be shot into the brain through a noninvasive technology.

Though the technology would have obvious applications in the entertainment world - imagine video games you can feel and smell, or movies that truly take your breath away - it also has a place in medicine as a tool to give the blind sight, or the deaf hearing.

Source: ABC News