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Observations placeholder

Professor John and Lynn Halstead – 04 Poltergeists and psychokinesis – Lynn and I found we could produce paranormal clock chimes by this ritual for a period of more than eight weeks



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience


Uri Geller was due to leave for Italy next morning, which was Sunday. On Monday Lynn watched Geller’s (recorded) television appearance during which the statuette and key events were briefly described by me. She invited her friend and neighbour Liz Dobson, who left at 3.30 pm, some time after the viewing. Then Lynn went upstairs to have a bath, and came down about 4 o’clock. She was alone in the house, and the outside doors were locked. Lynn is of a nervous disposition.

At once she saw that the key was not on the clock where it had been half an hour previously. She found it by the back door, almost exactly where it had fallen two days before. Furthermore the objects on the bookcase had been disturbed; the ivory statuette was on its side, and so was its neighbour, a little jade Buddha. A magnetic toy was not in its equilibrium condition but in its metastable condition, and a carved ivory ball was no longer on its stand.
Lynn telephoned my laboratory, and I told her that I would come home as soon as possible, but that she was to leave the key exactly where it had fallen (I measured it to be 8 1/2 in. away from the kitchen wall and 2 in. from the back door (Figure 18.1)).

At 4.30 she telephoned me again, this time more frightened. The Buhl clock had chimed three times, each time striking five, and now the hands were not at their previous position of 5.30, but at 6.10. She had not seen them move. Although the clock had no pendulum and had remained static for many years, there was apparently energy stored in the clockwork mainspring and in the striking spring.

I went home at once, and reassured Lynn; we had supper. At 8.15 Lynn went into the lounge and started to approach the clock. Immediately it chimed three times, five strikes the first time, but then four and then four again. I heard the first one from the kitchen, quickly came into the lounge and observed the two remaining chimes. The sound comes from a small bell, and is both clear and pleasant; between each strike there is an interval of about a second. Lynn was not in a state of mind in which she was likely to have been tampering with the clock mechanism. She remained frightened, and I reassured her by telling her that I would replace the key in its normal position, and that everything would be all right.

But when I reached the back door and stooped down to pick up the key, another chime of five strikes was heard. I returned to find Lynn still standing in the lounge but now even more disturbed. She claimed that she had not touched the clock, and I attempted without success to produce strikes by percussion, tilting, etc., and by unfastening the front glass and adjusting the hands in either direction. But it occurred to me that the chime might take place if I went to get the key again; and so it did; five strikes.

Lynn was standing in front of the clock, so I tried the identical experiment again, and it worked again. Lynn could not see what I was doing in the kitchen, but of course she knew that l was going to fetch the key, and could hear me walking through the kitchen. Lynn and I found we could produce paranormal clock chimes by this ritual for a period of more than eight weeks. The strikes were heard whenever we underwent the curious routine. We invited several groups of observers – from my own physics department, from the Society for Psychical Research and from the editorial staff of the science journal Nature – to see and hear the evidence. More than eighty separate chiming events were obtained, and, more important, this was a harmless channel into which the ‘poltergeist energies’ could be steered. Later, with the assistance of a horologist, I studied the clock mechanism in detail to see just how the chimes and hand movements could have been triggered; it could not have been done manually without fabricating a long wire tool. As long as the chimes continued, no objects flew round the house; but eventually, when I removed the clock for examination, teleportations and other phenomena started up again. I kept detailed notes, but I will describe only one further event out of about forty.

The source of the experience

Hasted, Professor John

Concepts, symbols and science items


Science Items

Activities and commonsteps