Sunday, 10 July 2011

The Fundamental Fysiks Group

Founded by Ernest Orlando Lawrence in 1931, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory came to prominence due to its involvement in the Manhattan Project, the quest for the United States to develop nuclear weaponry during the Second World War.
Originally Lawrence saw the Lab as a home for his Cyclotron, a Nobel Prize winning particle accelerator, and a base for physics research but the success of the Manhattan Project, and the key role of the Berkeley Lab in that success, saw Lawrence attempt to continue weapons research and maintain his links with the military-industrial complex after the war.
However, the newly-formed Atomic Energy Commission decided that the purpose of the Berkeley Lab would be mostly confined to non-classified research with specialised military research removed to a new facility in Los Alamos.
The Berkeley Lab remained an important centre for physics research.
11 researchers associated with the Lab have received Nobel Prizes and many significant inventions and discoveries have emerged from Berkeley.
One particularly interesting period began with the founding of the 'Fundamental Physics Group' by Elizabeth Rauscher in the 1970's.
Alongside other researchers such as Jack Sarfatti, Henry Stapp, Fred Alan Wolf, Nick Herbert,and John Clauser, the group were inspired by the developments in quantum mechanics at the start of the Twentieth Century.
Classical physics had been based around the mechanistic ideas of Newton that were largely based around the idea of solid, physical materials making up the world and measurable forces acting upon them.
Gravity, friction, acceleration and inertia all went to explain how physical objects moved and were acted upon.
Newtonian physics proposed a very tidy explanation of the composition and actions of the physical world, a world that could be measured and predicted through observation and calculation.
The development of Quantum Mechanics at the start of the Twentieth Century shook the certainty of Newtonian physics to its core.
Scientists such as Niels Bohr, Werner Heisenberg, Max Planck, Albert Einstein and Erwin Schrödinger made observations that called into question the very foundations of classical physics.
Rather than being solid, certain objects it appeared that particles were indeterminate and would even behave differently depending on whether they are being observed or not.
Light, traditionally seen as having a wave form, was discovered to fluctuate between a wave and particle form.
One of the key pieces of research was developed by John Bell in 1964 where he proposed that particles were not held in a fixed spot, but rather existed in several places simultaneously and would only stay in one place when observed. Rather than being separate objects he theorised that particles were 'entangled' and operating in constant relation to one another.
Rauscher's group at Berkeley began to investigate this theorem and began to attract interest from various groups with their own agenda in developing these ideas.
One of the implications for Quantum theory was the idea that it could explain paraphysical and parapsychological phenomena.
Organisations researching into psychic ability poured money into the Berkeley Lab to allow the Fundamental Physics Group to see if abilities such as ESP and telekinesis could become scientifically explicable.
In 1974 Jack Sarfatti of the Group began examining the claims of Uri Geller and conducted a series of experiments to see if the developing ideas on the nature of physical reality could explain Geller's claims to be able to manipulate the form of physical objects.
Initially Sarfatti released a statement to the press that he believed Geller had psycho-energetic abilities but later retracted the statement and declared that Geller's abilities could be reproduced by most capable conjurers.
Nick Herbert, another member of the Group also began research with the Xerox Corporation into a device called the 'Metaphase Typewriter'.
Based on quantum mechanics it was a machine that it was hoped would be able to communicate with disembodied spirits.
Herbert attempted to contact Harry Houdini on what would have been his 100th birthday but was unsuccessful and stopped work on the project soon after.
The C.I.A. also helped to fund the work of the Group, with a particular emphasis on the feasibility of Remote Viewing.
At the height of the Cold War it appeared that psychic ability could be a major element in the Arm Race and the possibility of agents that could project their minds to 'see' anywhere in the world from the security of a military facility intrigued the military.
Eventually many within the Group began to call themselves the 'Fundamental Fysiks Group' as they felt that what they were researching was so far away from conventional physics that it was misleading to use the word itself.
However, while undertaking these, often bizarre, contracts the Group also did a remarkable amount of work on more orthodox scientific research.
Members of the group were among the most successful researchers into Bell's theorem and quantum entanglement and every demonstration that quantum entanglement was compatible with Einstein's Theory of Relativity was either undertaken by a member of the Group or based on the research of the Group.
The Fundamental Physics Group of the Berkeley Lab never managed to weaponise or develop scientific proofs of paranormal ability.
Instead they took the money from government agencies, private organisations and corporations and developed ideas on quantum mechanics that were incredibly significant.
And that's just got to be more important than inventing a telephone for ghosts...

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