Vasiliev, Professor L L - Experiments in mental suggestion – Experiments using lead chambers and mercury seals
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
Experiments in mental suggestion – Professor L L Vasiliev
A final series of experiments, using the same technique, was carried out with the most reliable screening of the sender by means of lead. In order to ensure the impenetrability of the chamber by electromagnetic waves, the gutter around the edges of the opening was filled with mercury before the beginning of the experiment. When the leaden lid, which was raised by a pulley, was lowered, its folded edges were submerged in the mercury to a depth of 4.0 cm (see Fig. 23). Such an arrangement ensured complete absence of cracks between the lid and the chamber itself thereby creating a more complete screening of the inner space of the chamber from radiation than the screening that had been obtained in the iron chamber previously used. Besides, as is well known, lead reduces radiation of shorter wavelength (X-rays and gamma rays).
This would have been of importance if, contrary to expectation, it had been established that it is just such rays that are the significant Actors in transmitting mental suggestion at a distance from the brain of the sender to that of the percipient.
Inside the chamber there was a chair for the sender and a small shelf-table.
The chamber was illuminated by a small lamp connected to an accumulator nearby. A coil with an iron core was fixed to the outside wall of the chamber; if this was switched on the contact appliances in the circuit of the electric signalling lamp inside the chamber were disconnected. The screening properties of the chamber were tested by means of a generator of medium electromagnetic waves (about 50 cm in length), and a corresponding radio receiver, and the tests showed that the chamber was completely impenetrable to these rays.
In order to establish the absorption of gamma rays by the walls of the chamber, measurements were made by means of a radium preparation. The measurements were made with a Gess electrometer the source of the rays was a radium preparation containing 19.3 mg of radium. On the strength of the results obtained it was concluded that the lead chamber absorbs about 77 per cent of the gamma rays of radium.
The lead chamber was placed in room A. The percipient was in an iron Faraday chamber at a distance of 13 m (No. 1) which stood in the round room, B, and was separated from room A by three walls (see plan of the laboratory, also legend to Figs. 18 and 22). A pipe from the iron chamber (No. 1) led into the recording room, V (Figs. 18,22 and legends) and this was connected with a Marey apparatus for the purpose of registering on a kymographic ribbon the compression of the rubber balloon in the hand of the percipient who was lying on the bed. In the recording room there were a kymograph for the registration of the balloon compressions, an electromagnetic recorder by means of which the beginning of mental suggestion to go to sleep could be recorded, and a time recorder which marked the time in minutes on the kymographic ribbon.
In addition there was, in the recording room, a stop watch for measuring the time from the beginning of the experiment to the moment when sleep set in.
Both chambers were earthed by connection with the water system.
Fedorova, our best percipient, was our experimental subject in this entire series of observations; The experiment was carried out as follows: Fedorova usually came to the laboratory at about 8 p.m. She had a rest, for about 20 to 25 minutes, during which she talked with the experimenters in the round room B. About 10 minutes before the beginning of the experiment the sender (Tomashevsky) went to room A, in which the lead chamber was, before taking with him one of three envelopes in each of which there was a note, prepared in advance by one of the other participants in the experiment. Each note contained one of the following assignments: to suggest sleep from the lead chamber; not to suggest anything; or to suggest from the same room, A, but staying outside the lead chamber. The subject remained with the second participant, who observed the progress of the experiment.
The subject entered the iron chamber, placed herself on the bed, took the rubber balloon and received this instruction from the observer. "Compress the rubber balloon as rhythmically as possible all the time that you are awake. Stop compressing when you feel sleepy or when you fall asleep; when you wake up, start compressing the balloon again." The observer then closed the door of the chamber tightly and went to the recording room, shutting two more doors after him. The subject's chamber was not illuminated and it was completely dark, which contributed to the development of auto-hypnosis.
Having entered the recording room, V (see Fig. 22 and legend) the observer set in motion the kymograph, switched on the stop watch by pressing the knob, sent a light signal to the sender to the effect that everything was ready for the experiment, and then recorded the beginning of the experiment.
The sender, after the observer had gone to the recording room, descended through the hatch into the lead chamber, closed the hatch, switched on the lamp fed by the accumulator and opened the envelope containing the assignment.
If the instruction was "suggest from the chamber" the sender waited for the signal that all was ready for the experiment, and after that he immediately began mentally suggesting sleep. When he had received the signal that sleep had set in, he opened the hatch, came out of the chamber and showed the observer the assignment that had been in the envelope. This was done for purposes of control, and for making the correct entry into the report of the experiment.
If the note picked out read "suggest from the room," the sender opened the hatch and, upon receiving the signal that the percipient was ready for the experiment, began to suggest to her to go to sleep; he stood on the seat of the chair which was in the chamber, the hatch remaining open-in this way his head protruded from the hatch. If the note picked out read "do not suggest," the sender opened the hatch but refrained from suggesting anything and waited for the signal notifying him of the percipient's state.
In all the above eventualities the following conditions were observed:
1. Until the end of the experiment the experimenter in room V did not know what was the nature of the particular assignment, and merely acted as observer and recorder.
2. The sender only opened the envelope with the assignment when he was in the closed lead chamber.
3. The percipient was left to herself under the same conditions as in all other experiments.
A summary of the results obtained under these conditions is given in Table 15.
It follows that the difference between the time of onset of sleep with suggestion and the time of onset of sleep without suggestion is proved, and that the screening of the sender by a chamber does not affect mental suggestion.
Fig. 26 gives a diagrammatic representation of this series of experiments.
In 6 experiments with screening by means of lead, mental suggestion was also exerted to wake up the subject; in such cases the waking up occurred, on an average, within 1 min. 25 sec.
We thus once again obtained data supporting the results of previous experiments with screening by iron. Screening by iron or lead in the manner in which screening was effected by us does not prevent the diffusion of the supposed waves and radiations that transmit mental suggestion.