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Observations placeholder

Williams, Nicholas – No-touch bending of a suspended latch-key from over fifteen feet away



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience


The moment of truth for a metal-bender is when he realises that similar signals appear when neither the fingers nor indeed any part of the body touches the latchkey. Sometimes I would place the latchkey on a plastic dish or in a glass bowl, and allow the metal-bender to stroke the glass beneath it.

The best part of an hour was often necessary to produce the first paranormal signal, and it was almost as though the experimenter were coaxing it out of the metal-bender.

The viewing of the chart-recorder is a form of biofeedback, and is best when the sensitivity is raised until the electrical noise shows as ‘grass’ on the trace; a tiny artefact is as much encouragement as the appearance of a tiny paranormal signal, and it does not matter if at first the two are confused.

Larger signals are then to be expected. If they appeared when the key was resting in a glass bowl, I would then remove the bowl and allow the key to hang by its own electrical connections. The child would then just sit facing the key, possibly pointing his forefinger, or even stroking his fingers and thumb together.

Of course the apparatus must be allowed to run ‘quiet’ for as long as possible (sometimes hours) before exposure to the metal-bender. No signal must appear when the metal-bender is not present. Battery operation is preferable, and precautions must be taken against inductively coupled mains artefacts and atmospheric artefacts (e.g. those arising from strong walkie-talkie radio sets). Dummy resistances, circuits and chart-records are used for this purpose, and any signal appearing also in the dummy channel must be rejected.

The drift experienced on the strain gauge amplifier, although by no means large after the settling period, is not such that slow variations of strain could reliably be studied with the direct current system. The use of an oscillatory input, with or without phase-locked loop, would readily allow of this investigation, but we have postponed it for the time being.

The latchkey is suspended from its wires so as to minimize mechanical coupling; the child can point his fingers at the metal, at about six inches distance. We must watch carefully to see that there is no touching, but we should not appear to do so. If signals are still forthcoming, then the distance can be slowly increased. Most of the successful metal-benders have succeeded at distances of up to about three feet; Andrew G. and Stephen North have succeeded at up to eight feet and Nicholas Williams has regularly worked at fifteen feet, and once obtained a signal at thirty feet. Occasionally the latchkey or piece of metal actually bends permanently during its suspension from the strain gauge wires.

Figure 4.2a-e shows the entire chart-record of the first really impressive strain gauge session, which resulted in a permanent deformation of the latchkey. Nicholas Williams was seated by my side on the sofa in the lounge (see Figure 5.1) whilst the key was hanging by its wire from the mantelpiece on the opposite wall. We had a long wait before signals appeared, and I gave Nicholas cutlery which I asked him to bend. He twirled the pieces around, and in the course of time several displayed a ‘curly bend’. My object in allowing him to handle cutlery was to encourage his possible ‘power’ to blossom and spill over onto the strain gauge specimen. Also his hands were occupied, so that any question of tampering with the strain gauge specimen was ruled out.

During the session I changed the sensitivity of the chart-recorder amplifier at appropriate times. I shall never forget my increasing excitement as the small, doubtful signals increased in size, although I was completely confident of the reliability of my equipment, since prolonged tests had been made in Nicholas’s absence, and there were no signals.

Eventually the latchkey developed a permanent bend.

The source of the experience

Williams, Nicholas

Concepts, symbols and science items



Activities and commonsteps



Being a child


Spoon bending